Thursday, April 30, 2015

The terrible sin

We are becoming a world with its fist in the air to God.  

The anger, resentment, rebellion of our world is growing.  We see it in the wars, the riots of our cities, the parade to demonstrate this or that.

All around us our world is coming apart at the seams.  At the core of it all is one terrible sin.  It's the #1 sin, the worst sin.  Although all sin (a word we rarely use anymore) has the same outcome there is one that is the cause of all others.  The one sin that is #1 on the list and is the cause of most of what we see in the world is pride.

Pride was the cause of satan's rebellion.  It was at the heart of Adam's sin.  It's the driving force for much of what gets me in trouble.

It's my #1 problem!  Pride makes me jealous of someone else's success, envious of what another has, resentful of what another does. At the heart of it all is pride.  

Pride's symbol is "I".  I am the master of my fate, I make my own decisions, it's my right to do this, go there, believe that.  Pride is me trying to be god.  

But it doesn't work....because all around me are other proud little creatures trying to be god as well...and so we fight, squabble, kill, steal and a hundred other things to validate what pride has made me believe about myself.

The number #1 sin?  Pride.  It's the first sin and my biggest enemy.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Letter from Christ

Years ago, before most of us lived, people used to write letters.  (Imagine that!

They would write to another person on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope, attach a stamp, address and send it.  It might take weeks to get to the one receiving it, but the hope was that they might write back.  It was the primary means of communication for many decades.

It was e-mail before the Internet.

Paul wrote about this when he said,

2 Cor. 3:3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

From this passage these words caught my attention and captivated my imagination, "you are a letter from Christ".  Suddenly my thoughts wandered to my encounters with others.  In each of those I bring a letter from Christ telling that person something about him, whether true or false.  If my encounter is angry I'm telling them Christ is mad at them.  If I'm impatient I'm telling them God doesn't have time for them.  My encounters with others mean something because I'm a Christian.  They communicate more than I know, more than I often realize because in each encounter I'm telling the other person something about God.

I'm a letter from Christ to each person I meet.  What are my words and my life telling them about him?  What am I communicating to them about the God I say I worship?  Each encounter isn't just me engaging another person, but it's a letter from Christ to that person as well. I'm the mailman and the letter.

After each encounter with someone what do they know about Christ because of me?  Are they drawn to him because of me or repulsed?  Do they want to "write back?" 

You are a letter from Christ.  What does your letter say?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Watching trees grow

I was at a staff retreat in East Texas earlier this week. Outside the house where I was staying was this beautiful pine tree.  

I watched it all the time we were there and it didn't do anything!

I was hoping to see it grow, but it didn't move, it didn't didn't do anything!

I'm sure you're thinking, "You're crazy, you can't see a tree grow!" 

That's true, so why do we think we can see a person grow?  

It takes time.  

I could watch someone for months and they may not seem to change at all!  In our Christian world we would quickly conclude they weren't really a Christian in the first place or they weren't really "serious about their faith."

But would you say that about my tree?  Would you tell that tree, if it were really a good tree, you would grow.  But it is growing!  You just can't see it.

Why do we expect the growth of a person to be something we can see and measure?  It's usually not!  
Growth is slow, steady and calmly takes won't see it but it's happening.

Paul wrote the the Christians  in Ephesus, "Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong." 

I have been a Christian for more than 50 years....most of my life...and I still have so many things that aren't as they should be....but I'm growing.  And one day, perhaps today, I will finish the race and become what God made me to be....until then I'm going to keep growing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

That's Jesus!

What would the perfect man look like? 

What would you expect God to be like if he became a man and lived across the street?  

What would the person look like who loved you without question, even though they knew everything about you? 

That’s Jesus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Defining God

Let me start with a statement that will upset some, but will clarify the issue for many,

There are no true atheists.  There are simply people who have created a god they don't believe in. 

Everyone believes in God.  We can't escape him, even though some would wish he didn't exist.  When I meet an atheist (one who calls himself an atheist) and he tells me there is no god I ask him to describe this god he doesn't believe in.  I probably don't believe in him either.

But define the true God, the God of the Bible accurately and we all bow, even if reluctantly, in his presence.  And, in fact, one day we will all bow and worship him.

The real issue is not whether we believe in God or not, but rather how we define the God we deny.

Yesterday afternoon I spent some great time with a man who would have called himself an agnostic.  He's near 70, dying of cancer, months to live and has no idea what's ahead.  

I told him if I were in his place I would be scared to death! 

We visited for an hour and the core issue came down to this- his definition of God made it impossible for him to believe.  I wouldn't believe in his definition of God either!  But when we clarified who the God of the Bible really is his attitude and his eternity changed.

Defining God seems more important than most of us realize.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

God in flesh

 "God in flesh is now his people indwelt 
rather than his son incarnate."

Monday, April 06, 2015

Hello! Is anyone there?

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; 
I stand up, but you merely look at me." 
Job 30:20

Have you ever felt that God has his phone on silent when you call?  

Do you wonder sometimes where God is when you feel you need him most?

A few nights ago, as I prayed in the night, this thought ran through my mind, "Hello!  Hello!  Is anyone there??"  It was a random thought, but it's one that had origin in a sense that my prayers aren't being answered or heard.

We all have those times when it seems heaven is silent.  

I have a pastor friend in Kenya, Winstone, who has been begging God for help with his needs and has, in many ways, finally given up.  His post yesterday was, "Your will be done."  It's a white flag to God.  I give up! I've prayed and you don't answer. I've asked and you do nothing. You know my need....where are you?

Hello!  Is anyone there?

And yet I know God is there, he is listening, he loves us, he cares and he can do what's going on?  Why does it seem that there are times when heaven is silent?

Often we feel like King David, who wrote of his times of silence, 

"Do not hide your face from your servant; 
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble."
Psalm 69


Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. 
Do not hide your face from me 
or I will be like those who go down to the pit. 
Psalm 143

Prayer is a wonderful and confusing part of my life.  
I know God hears, I know he sees, 
I know he understands everything about me, 
my needs, my desires....
honestly he knows everything....
and yet, often, when I pray.....he is silent.

Doesn't he know I need help?

Doesn't he see how bad things are right now?

Doesn't he care?

Ahhh, and that's the core issue isn't it?  
At the heart of all of this is a sense that 
when God is silent he doesn't care.  
He doesn't care about me,
my needs or my situation.

But I know the truth is just the opposite.  
I'm his dearly loved son. 
He knows my needs and is working 
for his glory and my good in everything.  
Nothing is too small for him to care about 
or deal with,
but when heaven is silent I must wait.

I must wait for God.

We don't like to wait and so we try to bully God..."don't you care? Don't you love me?
Can't you see I 'need' this?"

And yet heaven may be silent still.  I find I cannot bully God. I've tried! I really have.  He just smiles, pats me on the head and I wait for him.

Hello!  Is anyone there? 

YES!  The God of glory is there...working for his glory and my good...and often it means I must wait, be still and as David wrote in Psalms, "Hush and know that I am God."

When it seems God isn't taking your calls don't give up. He's working and you will be amazed at what he does.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

He is risen!

The message of Easter

"The message of Easter is that God's new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you're now invited to belong to it.” ― N.T. Wright

Friday, April 03, 2015

The terrible glorious day

It's good Friday.

He was tried.  

He was declared not guilty 

three times.

And yet the crowds cried, 

"Kill him, kill him!" 

The voices of the crowd won. 

The judge gave in.

Lashes to his back.

Mocked by the guards.

Beaten mercilessly.

Spit on.

Executed in the cruelest way possible.  

A slow death for everyone to watch.

There he hung. 



Laughed at. 



The only sinless man

dying for the sins of all.

The perfect Son

obeying the plan of God

for the redemption

of a fallen race.

On that day God 

was satisfied.

The debt was paid.

We were redeemed!

What a terrible glorious day.

Quote of the day

"I have no problem believing in miracles.  

I am one!" -Bono

Thursday, April 02, 2015

His name is Jim

His name is Jim.

I met him at Starbucks a few years ago.

He was there every day I came by, visiting with friends, hanging out.

We connected, exchanged names, and began to visit casually each time we both found ourselves at Starbucks.

Last year, as I sat there with my coffee and computer, Jim came over to visit.  He said, "Can we talk? I just found out I'm dying of cancer."

We talked about death, about God, about salvation, about Christ and eternity. 

Today, Jim left his table and came to see me.  He sat down and said, "It's getting close.  I don't have much time."  

Once more we had talked about faith, Christ, salvation and eternity. 

I asked my friend, "Can I pray for you?" 

He smiled and said, "Please..."  

And we held hands in Starbucks and prayed.

I won't see him for coffee much longer, and will miss our visits but he's ready for eternity.  

His name is Jim.