Friday, July 30, 2010
I have a good friend who is a pastor in another part of the country. Tonight I'm responding to an e-mail from him about the legalism of Christians where he is serving and how harsh and cruel we can be as Christians. We so easily imitate the Pharisees of the gospels. We are masters of the rules, but novices of grace. We easily speak for God, but miss his heart and his love for those around us. In the cross of Christ God has redeemed us, forgiven us, justified us.....there is so much more. But in the cross God's grace was poured out upon mankind. It was God's hand reaching out to us to help us up from the crippling effects of all that sin had done. Now, in Christ, we have forgiveness of all sins...past, present and future. Now, in Christ, we have God's grace not only providing what we need for salvation, but much more...now we have his grace to give us all we need to live the Christian life. Now, he has extended his hand to us, he has extended grace to us and invited us to walk in an intimate relationship with him.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Last words are important. The last thing someone says is what he wants you to remember as you separate. We often record the last words of famous people. The last words spoken before they are silenced by the grave.
Here are a few last words, I wish time allowed for more-
-Paul Claudel (1868-1955) "Doctor, do you think it could have been the sausage?"
-Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) "I have tried so hard to do the right."
-Karl Marx (1818-1883) "Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."
-Winston Churchill "Everything is so boring."
-Joan Crawford "Damn it! Don't you dare ask God to help me!"
-John Newton (1725-1807) "I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon."
-Polycarp (70-168) "Eighty and six years have I now served Christ, and he has never done me the least wrong: How then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?"
Last words. It's a last chance to share our hearts, our thoughts with those we care about. It's our last chance to praise or rage against the God who made us. This morning I read the last words of Peter, the apostle, and they have challenged me and addressed two things he wanted to share before he died. Here are Peter's last words-
"Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."
Here are the two things Peter left us, his last words,
1. Stay on the path. You will always have to watch out for error and lawless men.
2. Keep growing. You will need to keep growing until you meet the Lord face to face.
Peter asked only two things of us and both of them involve the bible.
Watch out for errors and keep growing.
What simple last words. What a reality check. These two things are necessary for us until the day we too die. We will always have to stay on the path (watch our doctrine) and we will always need to grow. You never arrive, but are always on the way. You never fully mature, but are constantly growing. You never are above error, you will have to watch out for error and evil men all along your trip. What simply things to leave us with. What profound admonitions. In today's language we would say it this way,
Stay on the path and keep climbing.
You're not there yet!
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to 'De-Baptize'
"American atheists lined up to be "de-baptized" in a ritual using a hair dryer, according to a report Friday on U.S. late-night news program "Nightline."
Leading atheist Edwin Kagin blasted his fellow non-believers with the hair dryer to symbolically dry up the holy water sprinkled on their heads in days past. The styling tool was emblazoned with a label reading "Reason and Truth."
Kagin believes parents are wrong to baptize their children before they are able to make their own choices, even slamming some religious eduction as "child abuse." He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.
"I was baptized Catholic. I don't remember any of it at all," said 24-year-old Cambridge Boxterman. "According to my mother, I screamed like a banshee ... so you can see that even as a young child I didn't want to be baptized. It's not fair. I was born atheist, and they were forcing me to become Catholic."
Kagin doned a monk's robe and said a few mock-Latin phrases before inviting those wishing to be de-baptized to "come forward now and receive the spirit of hot air that taketh away the stigma and taketh away the remnants of the stain of baptismal water."
Ironically, Kagin's own son became a fundamentalist Christian minister after having "a personal revelation in Jesus Christ."
"One wonders where they went wrong," he chuckled to the TV show."
Sadly, a hair dryer labeled "reason and truth" provided neither for these unbelievers. The story is sad because they simply don't understand the meaning or purpose of baptism which shows they have missed and misunderstood the truth of what God has done for them. Their hair-dryer gimmick shows a complete lack of reason. If they knew or had ever experienced salvation they would know that their little side show was just silly. Reason was not part of this exhibition. I'm sure this stunt was mostly meant for publicity, but I was so humored by it I couldn't help sharing it with you. I do wish these advocates of truth and reason really knew truth and were really interested in reason. Paul wrote that "man's wisdom doesn't even come up to God's dumbest." This little exhibition shows this to be true once more.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
-faith is not a magic formula
-faith does not have power
-faith is not something I use to get what I want
-I can't have more faith than God has given me
-faith does not promise good results
-you don't need more faith than God has already given
Then, you might ask, what is faith? Faith is our dependence on God for his care and provision. It's a trust in HIS ability to work in our lives. Faith is not something I can make work for me to get things to go my way....it's an unwavering trust in God and his amazing plan for my life. I only have the faith he has given me, it doesn't have to be much, my task is to take my little bit of faith and trust in God who can do all things. All things. It's God who acts, who works, who moves, who does...my faith doesn't DO anything. It's God who does it all. I don't need more faith...I just need to have faith in the right thing...in God himself and he can do anything.
But, as I read Hebrews 11 I see this phrase in the later verses, "and others...." These others were men and women of faith as well and did not see good results. Some died for their faith. Others suffered hunger. You can read the list yourself, but what is noteworthy is that they were credited with faith that pleased God. Faith that made it into the hall of faith....even though in our eyes it looks like they failed. How can this be? Don't we have the idea that faith can keep us from harm? If you only have enough faith.... But these men and women had faith, faith that pleased God, and appeared to have failed. What's the answer to this faith puzzle?
It's simply this- trust in God, who will work in your life for HIS glory. You might not always have what you want, what you pray for or trust him for, but HE will take care of you. You don't need more faith, you simply need to take the little bit of faith he has given you and trust him. He will do the rest. By faith....what an amazing phrase. This hall of fame of men and women, both successes and failures in the world's eyes, were applauded by God because they trusted him no matter what happened. That's our call. That's the message of Hebrews 11...trust God. The rest is up to him.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
These are difficult days! People are afraid, nervous and unsure of what to expect next. It seems, to many, that everything is crumbling...everything is falling apart. Fear and trembling is our response. In America we have had an easy life....until now. We have been blessed, but now even our economy is struggling. Many have lost everything in this crisis. Others fear the days ahead. There is much to worry about.
This morning, as I read, I came to these words from Solomon in Ecclesiastes, "When times are good, be happy, but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other." Good times are from God. We would all respond "AMEN!" But when he adds bad times are from God as well, our response is less enthusiastic. We are thrilled to be blessed, but not so excited about what God is doing when days like these come.
God's answer? consider. Consider what you are depending on. Consider what God is doing. Consider who you trust for your needs. Consider what is important. Consider. We have been a most blessed country, but if times get tough we respond with fear and trembling instead of trust in God. God tells us that he will meet our needs....even in difficult days. In a time of fear and trembling we have a wonderful opportunity to trust God who promises to care for us. When things become difficult consider....are you trusting God or have you been trusting your job, your savings, your retirement plan? David wrote these amazing words in Psalm 37,
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 09, 2010
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Most of the time life is lived at a frantic pace. I know my own life is usually like a Ferris wheel with a turbo charger. The pace of life can make it hard to stop and evaluate what we really need to be doing.
I think that's one of the devil's best victories- keep Christians so busy with what is urgent that they never stop to evaluate what is important. And so, most of us would say we are very busy, almost with a little pride mixed in, because being busy is a sign that we are doing something, but are we really?
Is the pace of life keeping you focused on what is urgent and not what is important? Jesus, probably the busiest man of history, would often sneak away to pray. There are times noted in scripture when he spent the entire night in prayer...taking time away from the frantic pace of the Ferris wheel with the turbo charger, always spinning, but ultimately going nowhere. Jesus taught us what was most important...time with God.
David wrote in Psalms an invitation from God, "Be still and know that I am God." In the midst of the urgent there is a very real need to step away from it all and focus on what is important...a time alone with God that brings all the craziness into focus. Why do we hurry about so frantically? In our culture it's a sign of success, it makes us feel important. But take a moment to realize that the God of creation invites us to step aside from it all and just be with him....what could be more important? What could be more restful? What could clear our vision to the craziness of keeping up with everyone around us?
God's invitation and Jesus' example should invite us to step off the Ferris wheel and walk alone with God for a bit. It will clear your head.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
The "Tour de France" has begun. Once more a host of amazing athletes do the impossible and literally race across France and through the mountains to fame or failure in Paris at the end of the month and several thousand miles of riding.
It's the one sporting event I really enjoy. It is long, difficult and a combination of individual and team sport in one. I've learned a lot about the church by watching this race over the years. It's a wonderful lesson in teamwork. I hope you get the opportunity to watch a portion of the race through the month. I plan to catch as many stages of the race as I can.