Monday, December 21, 2015

A Christmas Meditation

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So far the season has failed to represent accurately what Christ's first coming was really about. Far from festivities, over-indulgence, and family, Christ's first coming was all about establishing a relationship with mankind. We are so far from that very first angelic announcement that it is lost in the  holiday shuffle.

He came to the lowest place on the globe to demonstrate no one was too far below him to be LIFTED up by him. He came to those oppressed and lacking freedom to show that he could break EVERY bondage. He walked among the poor to show that God was willing to SHARE his riches. He came under Rome's AUTHORITY so that he might use the Roman roads to share the gospel. He gave his Son to a woman born under the Torah, to show that his life would FULFILL the law, every jot and tittle.

Jesus came that we might receive the spirit of adoption into our hearts. That Spirit only cries out "Abba". Abba is the name of intimacy with the Father. He comes to draw us into the Life giving relationship with God. Have you entered into that relationship with Christ? Have you opened the doorway of your heart to receive the adoptive love of Jesus? This doesn't happen by church attendance, nor by church membership; it doesn't happen by familial teaching or by connections to others who walk with Christ. It happens in prayer. You must pray to receive that which God has procured for you in the coming and dying and resurrecting of the Son that he sent.

The results of such an adoptive relationship, established by our Father in Heaven, are spelled out by Paul. He came to make us his children; He came to set us free from slavery to sin; He came to make us heirs of God. What great fortune that God would set us in his forever family- loved, free, and heirs with Christ!

Friday, December 11, 2015

False Prophets

In thirty some years of ministry I have rubbed elbows with a number of "prophets". I have seen the genuine and the phony, the astoundingly accurate and the sweeping generalities, and the teaching prophet and the stirring prophet. Even though I have been disappointed by some people who have called themselves prophets, I have been enriched by many others. So how does one tell the pretenders from the genuine?

Pretenders follow their own insight, their own heart,and their own spirit. I came to church once and a "prophet" had painted in 6 foot letters on the side of the church exterior that I would be gone in one year. 23 years later I am still the pastor of this church. In fact, that brother was angry with something. His own spirit provoked him to deface the building. False prophets are guided by their own hearts Ez. 13.3

Often the false prophet claims all manner of unbiblical things. They preach fear, they stir up trouble, they spread deceptive accusations in the name of the Lord. We are reminded in scripture that "No one who uses the name of the Lord in vain will be held guiltless (Ex 20.7) I can usually tell a false prophet by the general tenor of his speech. He assumes authority not given, and speaks without the unction of the Lord.

Frequently, the false prophet has a personal history of deceit. They have a track record of rebellion, deceit and lies. Sometimes this is covered in bluster, other times it is overlooked altogether and the pleasantries that are declared are simply false assurances. (Ez. 13.10,15) The spiritual gifts of God are cradled in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the character of the prophet matters. When he speaks his life must bear testimony to his unction and calling.

I have also noticed that there is a difficulty for a pretender to be under a spiritual covering. Frequently they are lone Rangers, moving in and out of different bodies. This difficulty with authority within the local body is a part of their psychological make up, I think. They frequently speak against a person, or a leader. The NT concept of prophecy is described as edification, encouragement and comfort (1 Cor 14.3) yet their harshness betrays the human spirit (or demonic divisive) spirit that drives them.

While all prophets are frequently direct, there is a sense in which the pretenders don't really care for the sheep. They want to discharge a message that judges others by a standard which they themselves cannot live up to. They are inordinately harsh.

The appropriate response is to evaluate the prophecy spiritually (1 Thess 5.21) Test everything. Everything. We do so by comparing it with the written objective Word of God. Jesus and the Apostles as well warned against false prophets. It is helpful to know that there are only three sources for any "word" given. God, the Devil, or human flesh. Pastors need to stay close to God so that when the false word si spoken they recognize it immediately. They should not be put off by a blustery "thus says the Lord" but rather they should evaluate everything.

In spite of the pretenders, I have seen prophetic brothers and sisters, confirm the will of God in the lives of his children, I have watched people called into ministry succeed when there was no inkling of successful ministry skills, I have watch the spirit of God call out hidden sins, and prison sentences to the year, and healings yet to come. When the Spiritually Genuine Gift of God is moving in the midst of Gods church it is a wonderful thing. No wonder we are told to covet the gift of prophecy. BUT we must never speak a word that God has not assigned us.

The drive for the prophet is simple to dispatch in obedience the Word that has been given him or her for the building up and edification of the body of Christ. Financial gain, personal glorification, and personality conflicts are never the driving force behind the Word of the Lord.

Keep Step with the Spirit.

For further study Ezekiel 13, 1 John 4.1-3; Deut 18.22, 2 Peter 2.1-3; Amos 8.11; 1 Thess 5.21

Thursday, November 05, 2015


“Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭13:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

These days it is not thought proper to speak of your self in a negative light. We like sermons that leave us "strengthened and edified" and "empowered". So Jeremiah is kind of a downer here. His insight, though, is one which every thoughtful believer eventually comes to. It is the recognition of hopelessness. Ouch, we don't like those kinds of negativity. But frequently we recognize with Paul in Romans 7 that "...the things I ought to do are not the things I do..." As the scripture says in another place, "the flesh profits us nothing. "

You and I are hopelessly bound to what we are. Perhaps I could have been an acrobat, though it is unlikely, but it is certainly beyond the horizon now. The paths that I have chosen have limited me. Got any thoughts regarding your choices? Have you limited your options by your choices? But the prophet goes further. He insinuates that there are inborn characteristics, imprints of who you are to become are woven in you from the womb. That is disconcerting! I cannot do good, because I am accustomed to doing evil. Double Ouch!

Once you reach the point of hopelessness you will need to accept another truth or you will be stuck in despair. God deals in hope to the hopeless. No matter the limitations of your human strength you are not stuck being what you are now. For at the simple invitation from your heart in prayer, God mercifully attends us with the power to change everything. Yes, on your own you cannot change, but there is power in the name of Jesus. Rise up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Desire to Bless

 This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls..." Jer. 6.16

Jeremiah is declaring as an oracle of the Lord to the people of Judah, lamenting the fall of the surrounding nations, and literally begging the people of God to walk in obedience. The plight of the herald is that he can see what God wants to do, what he longs to do, how he longs to bless his people and reward their faithful obedience. That is the heart of the Everlasting God! He longs to embrace a flawed people, who strive to please Him rather than themselves. But Jeremiah could not find any who had a "bless-able" life. (Jer 5.1 "If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city...")

It is easy to sing, to attend services, and to ask for mercy in prayer. This is what passes for evangelical Christianity these days. We react out of weakness, failure and disobedience. From a human perspective it can be very frustrating. From a pastoral perspective it is the feeling of helplessness as words of warning flow from the lips only to be ignored by the multitude. We are the proclaimers of the the "ancient paths" and the sign posts that point to the "good way". Yet there are few takers, few obedient, few repentant.

Yet the heart of God is pregnant with goodness. He longs to bless the obedient. Obedience is measured by the difficult things. It has to do with choosing God's ways over our own. Obedience cannot prioritize self over God. Obedience is measured in sacrificial giving, sacrificial loving, and sacrificial living. The raw truth is is that there are lifestyles that cannot be blessed by God. I say this with tears and sorrow. Some strive in all the wrong ways to achieve the blessing of God. The key is finding a life that God can bless.

Obedience is measured in sacrificial giving, sacrificial loving, and sacrificial living.

How can one find such a life? The prophet tells us the way. Stand and look...ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it... God can and will bless, give rest, guide and direct our lives if we will DO what he commands. Yes, this is a faith walk. But it is not a matter of intellectual assent but of the kind of faith that moves in obedience to the commanding voice of the Master. God desires to bless your life, is your life bless-able?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Perishing People

Proverbs 29.18  Where there is no vision, the people perish...

The Vision of the House

It is the Pastor's responsibility, with the help of key leaders in the body,  to establish the vision of the house. Each local church has an assignment from the Almighty and to miss that assignment, no matter how many accolades for good and fine things that are done is to miss God's Purpose. Missing God's purpose will also be missing God's blessing.

But how does a spiritual leader determine the assignment (vision) for the house. Earnest Prayer is the only thing that I know will lead a pastor to determine if his church is supposed to be a worshipping center or an evangelistic rescue mission. Is it supposed to be a hospital for restoring spiritual health to those wounded or a discipleship center teaching the ways of God?  Every church has this assignment and the leadership team, and especially the Sr. Pastor is called to catch the vision from God.

Communicating the Vision

Some how the vision has to be communicated. Likely it will need to be communicated in many ways. From the pulpit, through the leadership, on stationary, on websites, etc. It should be clear that the assignment from God was pursued and found. It is necessary, too, that even the leadership see that over and over since there are many good things that can be a distraction from the calling of God to a particular church.

Originally here at CLC we saw ourselves as a worshipping community primarily. Our tag line, meant to communicate that was "Where Worship is a Way of Life". And while we continue to be a church that is worship oriented we also recognized a redefining a few years back. It seemed that God was drawing us into a more mature season of discipleship training. our tag line changed to "Real Faith for the Real World".

Loving Rejection

Not everyone will agree with the vision of the house. Of course, there are many who simply will not understand that you cannot do everything from rescuing folks from sex trafficking to having the greatest Sunday School in the Western Hemisphere. We are very involved in missions and do mission trips around the world. We endeavor to help the poor here at home. We train and educate the newly saved, teach leaders to develop into more mature servants, believe for the miraculous, intercede for lost and broken, develop worship leaders, and a dozen other things here at CLC.

And if we have to part ways with people who need to separate to fulfill their God given call we do it lovingly. Honoring the call of God in their lives. It isn't always easy to understand but we know in whom we have believed.

The main thing for us all is to understand what God's main thing is. And then to busy ourselves pursuing the main thing for his honor and glory.

Friday, September 18, 2015

10 Ways to "Affair Proof" your Marriage

Marriage is an endeavor worthy of our hard work.

1. Watch Your Step.

Avoid intimate situations with people not your spouse. Late night working together, traveling alone with a person of the opposite sex, etc. Affairs begin when people start talking about their personal problems with another person besides their spouse. Never complain to a person of the opposite sex about your spouse. Emotions and attachments can begin in unguarded moments very easily.

2. Date Often.

Establish a “date night” each week and treat this time as hallowed. it doesn't have to break the bank but it should be enjoyable for the both of you. Rule out complaints about the unfinished laundry, the unpainted bedrooms, and the kid issues. Spend time talking about what you love to do.

3. Keep Your Mind Pure

Pornography destroys people and relationships.  Porn creates unrealistic and false expectations for your sexual relationship with your spouse.  It teaches the lie that relationships are all about getting, instead of giving.  Reign in your fantasy life and surrender your lusts to God. Never erase your computer history.  Allow your spouse to hold you accountable.

4. Be Thoughtful and Romantic.

It doesn’t take much to be romantic. A short hand written note only takes a few minutes to write. Flowers for women are always welcome, even if you picked them up from the grocery store on the way home. What is your spouses love language? Respond accordingly.

5. Start A Fire.

Couples who are affectionate with each other stay together. Be spontaneous, touch affectionately, hugs before kisses. Hold hands when you’re out.  Invest in the physical connection. These small gestures will help strengthen the physical connection that every relationship needs.

6. Have Sex Regularly.

If we only have sex when both of us feel like it, it will grow increasingly less over time. Men sometimes stray because their wife is just not interested in having an intimate sexual relationship.  Sex grows infrequent because we are tired, busy, emotionally distant, overwhelmed, etc. Physical intimacy needs to be practiced frequently.

7. Listen Regularly.

Have meaningful conversations with your spouse. After the kids are in bed discuss your day with each other. Talk about your high points and low points. Share your dreams with them. Practice good listening skills by dropping what you are doing, making eye contact, and showing that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying. Prayer together is powerful on both the divine end and the human end.

8. The Best Policy.

Simple honesty is often overlooked. Don't get dragged into power games in your relationship. Be vulnerable with honest feelings, be careful how you word your disappointments to as not to indict your spouse but truly share those things that cause you hurt. Pray together over your heart vulnerabilities.

9. Be Kind.

The power of words cannot be overestimated. Words and tones are used to communicate. Every action should be loving and kind toward our spouse. Remember this is the place we practice servanthood and love. 

10. Take Care.

Eat right, exercise and do things that will bring you health and confidence. You don't have to be a super model, just a super you! That spare tire isn't doing you any good anyway. Burn it off. work out at the gym or just go for long walks (2-3 miles) each day. Avoid the fade diets, just monitor intake and outtake.

I'm sure there are more ways. If you have any others let me know.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Loving Your Gay Friends

It's not hard to love somebody, is it? Well, of course it is! Jesus challenged us over and again to love, not because it was easy but because it was right! In fact, Jesus compares those who only love "easy" with the most selfish people of his time... the tax collectors.

Matthew 5.46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

So as a Christ follower I have to put in the work so that I may love like Jesus. Often this is difficult because I am lazy, ill informed, and selfish. In order for me to love someone I often have to understand what it is like to walk in their "moccasins". I may have to have some frank and uncomfortable conversations with my friends who live a different lifestyle than I. And for many Christians, that is stressful. Nevertheless, it is a gut check for believers. Will you come out of the closet as a follower of Jesus?

Be Loving
When Jesus came to the woman at the well in John 4 he had a situation. First, it is unseemly for He, a man, to be conversing with a woman. Next, she her Samaritan theology is a mess. Thirdly, Her lifestyle of promiscuity is also glaring problem. But Jesus loved her. He loved her with the intention of giving her the truth. He prophesied to her in a way that she brought others back to see Him! Yet he didn't withhold truth.

Is it possible for us speak the truth so compellingly that it will provoke a spiritual curiousity that draws them closer? So often the disciple of Jesus speaks out in angry confrontation rather than love. Perhaps we need to be more dependant upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit to speak with these friends who are living in a fashion that is damaging their soul.
Be Honest
If you are uncomfortable celebrating the homosexual marriage of your friend tell them that in a loving way. Rather than blaming your church for not being progressive enough, tell them what it is that Jesus said that makes you uncomfortable. You don't have to preach, just talk.

"Look friend, I really want the best for you. I think we have been friends long enough that you know I am a follower of Jesus.  But I am so convinced that this is damaging to you that I can't join your celebration. Sorry. I hope you can respect my faith and my decision."

Be Dependent
Be dependent upon the Lord, that is. Too often we are so codependent we cannot imagine disagreeing with another. We live our lives as slaves to other peoples opinions. Disapproval is the ultimate rejection. What if they don't want to be your friends any longer? Get off the cross! Its not about you, right? It is about communicating truth.

Be Busy
This is not the time to delay. This is about eternal destinies. The further down the rabbit hole to hell our friends go the more damaged they become. Likely, they will not snap out of it without some loving truth told. Sure they will have found new friends who agree with them regarding their lifestyle but will you be remembered as a truth speaker?

Love them enough to speak out.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Grace-Giving vs Tithing

Frequently people will speak about New Testament giving as opposed to the tithing principle of the Old Testament. Tithing is the principle of giving that God instituted in Genesis (before the law, by the way) that required an offering of 10% of all the increase from the Israelites. I find this a very strained argument. Frequently it is proffered by those who mask their stinginess with religion. But let’s look at the NT record to see if Paul is differentiating between the two. We will find the teaching in question in 2 Corinthians 8-9.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

I guess the first thing to notice is that Paul is lauding the generosity of these folks and holding them up as an example to be followed by the Corinthian followers of Jesus. He teaches them that giving is a privilege that believers may share. He recognizes that this generous giving sometimes exceeds what common sense would dictate. This is likely because they are sacrificially joining together with his mission. Further, he calls this action a grace that may be excelled in.

“ I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.”

So called grace giving is an act of love for the Lord that he ‘measures against others’ giving. But it takes faith and so he challenges their faith by reminding them that they can expect a supernatural supply in response to their sacrifice because the very purpose of Jesus becoming poor was to bring plenty (literally riches) to his followers. He further challenges them with a timeline for this benevolent gift that is going to be given to the poor in Jerusalem. He reminds them that Christ judges the gift not by what is in the basket but by what is left in the pocket. Cf Luke 21.4

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
Paul explains that equality of giving is not in view merely equality of  sacrifice.It levels  the playing field,eases suffering, and gives everyone the opportunity to practice generosity. That the privilege is in the giving not the receiving.

“So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Paul reminds them of their pledged support and urges to finish the work. He encourages with the axiom of scripture that he who sows sparingly can expect little in return but he who sows generously,cheerfully, and of his own volition can expect God to come through for them big time. Of course, the amount that is given is not to be compelled by church leadership but by the faith in the heart of the disciple.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Once again they are reminded that God’s able and willing to replenish the supply of your resources so that you will be able to step to every giving opportunity. Giving to God,the Apostle reminds us, guarantees all you will need everywhere you go, every time. This biblical mandate to sow a financial “seed” brings supply and increase and enlargement of your reward. God does not limit his blessing to merely financial enrichment but in every way he is our supply.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:5-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

And all this beings praise to God in the lives of the receivers, and the givers, and the onlookers!

So Grace Giving is the financial gift of love cheerfully and sacrificially given to the work of God. It is proportional to each man's income, given in faith, with the expectation of divine blessing and reward for giving it. It is an act of obedience that every believer should practice, indeed, excel in. See the difference between Tithing and Grace-giving? Me neither! Giving to God has been an obligatory act of worship since fresh out of the garden (Gen 4.4) and 10 percent was the figure that started long before the old covenant (Gen 14.20). So why not start obeying by faith the Lords mandate to give today?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

NT Losers

The doctrine of eternal security is often argued in the pews of the congregation. Good people are often found on either side of the argument. I thought I would stir the pot a bit today to remind us that the exhortation to stay faithful is a warning to avoid real spiritual tragedy.  I once spoke to a brother in Christ who told me that if I could produce one person in the New Testament that lost his salvation he would believe that salvation could be lost. Let me produce a few for your perusal.

1. 1 Tim 1.20 Hymnaeus and Alexander- these two failed to "hold on to faith and a good conscience" consequently the Apostle Paul tells us that their faith had been "shipwrecked". They were no longer in the care of the loving arms of the Savior. They were "handed over" to Satan.

2. Gal 5.2-6 Certain of the Galatian believers had fallen prey to a group known as the Judaizers. They began to seek justification before God by the works of obedience to the Law. These, the Apostle says, have "fallen away from grace" and are "alienated from Christ".

3. 2 Peter 2.20 These teachers had fallen into error. They were once free from the "corruption of the world" which came through "knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". Now, however, they have fallen into sins of the world, and are "overcome" by them. They are "worse off at the end than they were at the beginning". (In that they were damned at the beginning, they are worse off now, because they are doubly condemned, having once been saved but now lost)

4. Heb 6.4-8 Among the Hebrew believers there was a number who had "tasted the heavenly gift" and "shared in the Holy Spirit". These also had "shared in the power of God" and the "Word of God". But now they had fallen away. The author says that it is impossible for them to be "brought back" or "renewed" to repentance. Then he likens them to land that produces only thorns and thistles, promising that in the end they will be burned. Compare Heb 12.16

While it is sobering to consider the possibility of throwing it all away, it serves as a warning to us to walk with a determination that we will finish well. We need the grace of God in our lives from salvation experience all the way to the gates of glory. Let us, then, "imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised"

Monday, February 02, 2015

Sent Ones

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (‭Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭16‬ ESV)

In Matthew 10 Jesus is giving sending orders to his disciples. We read this verse and immediately feel a kindred spirit with those first "Sent Ones". We, like they, are sent into a society that is hostile to the things of God. It resonates with our spirits. It seems pace set our experiences in life. We read this almost in a state of weakness but in doing so we do err.

Jesus is sending his followers into a hostile society but his nowhere claiming them to be lambs to the slaughter. The context demonstrates that he has just equipped them with tremendous authority. They have the power in Jesus' name to drive out the spirits of evil in their journey. They were equipped to bring healing as they were going along as well. Add to this the promise that this authority also could...would raise the dead. They had the power to bequeath peace to a non hostile environment. They had the power to preach the message of Gods love and freedom. Rejection of their words resulted in the eternal damnation of those who chose rebellion over that freedom.

So why, we might wonder, is there a necessity for being wise "so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Jesus seems concerned that the disciples will be tempted to foolish behavior. Certainly, we much dramatic stupidity in the realm of the gifts of the Spirit these days. Gimmicky side show antics are not what the Lord had in mind when he was equipping his church. He determined to empower people like you and I so that we might alleviate the suffering of others as we proclaim the kingdom message of freedom from sin. This requires two importance things. Guarding our hearts and walking in wisdom.

We must remain a people of purity. These days we are being wooed to the ways of this godless world.   We hear of the pursuit of personal holiness less and less. We forget to guard our hearts by monitoring with diligence the eye gate and the ear gates to our soul. Yet the heart of the disciple is the place from which flow the springs of the spirit. The hearts of the disciples must be innocent as doves. We must avoid the cynicism of living in a harsh world.

Yet there is a crafty edge to the moving of the Spirit in a hostile society. An awareness that the unbeliever looks for opportunity to scoff at the gospel. And so we walk as lambs among wolves. We needn't be afraid...wisely walking and innocently loving the lost.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Revamping Missions Giving

...this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (‭Matthew‬ ‭24‬:‭14‬ NIV)

Imagine with me a wonderful world where the church determines that it will be a part of the fulfillment of the great commission (Matthew 28.18) Imagine that the 200 or so adults at CLC each gave $25 ($50 per family) each month to missions. Maybe they fast the meal or dine down (eat something simple and inexpensive rather than extravagant) so they can afford this act of giving to missions.

The missions coffers of CLC would be overflowing and we would be able to double the giving to our present missionaries! People from around the globe would hear the good news that there is a savior that came for them, disciples would be made and destinies would be changed. Medicine would be delivered, rebuilding would take place, people undergoing catastrophes would be met with resources and supplies. Imagine. God's blessing would be on his church and the church of Jesus would stand UNASHAMED  before the Lord. Imagine.

Your simple act of obedience can take this from imagination to reality. I dare you...

Friday, January 09, 2015

God's Will in Healing

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭2‬ NIV)

This poor soul came down from the mountain for the express purpose of meeting with Jesus. Surely his faith and hope in Christ provoked the journey's start. He comes to Christ without some things that we often bring into his presence.

First, he comes without questioning the power of Jesus. There is no dealing with God. " if you heal me I will..." These are merely questions of his ability. The mountain man had come this way knowing that Jesus had healing power and divine authority.

Next, he comes without a question. He merely makes a statement of faith. "Lord, you have the ability to do whatever your will is." No doubt he has tried potions and cures that didn't have the power. But everything relies upon the character of this man Jesus. What kind of a God do you serve?

Finally, he comes without doubt. He has invested himself in the presentation of his need before the power that can heal. And there is no doubt that with a word Jesus can change this man's life forever. Total confidence brings him to the feet of the Healer.

I cannot imagine what my impression of Jesus Christ would be if he had ignored this man humbly kneeling at his feet. No, he is healed by his faith. Whatever your need today, bring it to the masters feet and trust that he will work out his healing will.

Monday, January 05, 2015

A Better Righteousness

Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭19-20‬ NIV)

The passages of the New Testament that are known as the Sermon on the Mount are masterful teachings of the Master Teacher Jesus. He is crafting out a vision of the " kingdom come". The Masters vision is informative, challenging, and a bit overwhelming for us. Jesus sees the kingdom defined by a number of issues that were relevant to his first century audience (and still resonate today!)

Here he defines what righteousness is. Certainly Jesus knows that his substitutionary death on the cross is going to impute righteousness to millions who come to him in faith. The Apostle Paul would later write that he who "knew no sin, became sin" that we might become the righteousness of God. Righteousness ( ie., right standing before God) is given freely to us all as we trust Christ for our salvation. But that is not what Jesus is addressing here.

No, Jesus is not speaking of an unseen transfer that is transacted in the heavenly realms. He is speaking of that which can be witnessed by mere mortals. The Pharisees had become a group more known for there creative ways of circumventing the intentions of the Divine Law than for their Radical Obediences. They were better with excuses than execution, more adept at sidestepping than stepping up, they were half hearted followers ignoring the audience of One that they were to live for. Jesus addresses than head on.

What concerns Christ is not our claim to follow Him but our practics. Rather than being "righteous in name only" as the Pharisees were Jesus challenges his disciples to depth, to full obedience, to uncomfortable obediences, and to living out their faith out loud. It seems to me that Jesus was demanding righteousness than showed up in the real world. Are we the real deal? Is our obedience limited by convenience? By public approval? By comfort? It is time for real faith for the real world!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Tick Tock

Honestly, it is meaningless. This marking of time as the calendar flips over from one year to another. It is a second, a minute, an hour, not unlike a thousand other in our lifetime. I did a funeral recently and read as my text Psalm 90. The text says "teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." I found a date calculator on my cell phone. I have been alive 20,795 days. Wow. How many of those were misspent? How many were wasted altogether? The one good thing about the new year is that it gives as a placemark where  we can ponder our lives.

I suspect I am on the down hill portion of my life. By this I mean that I have less days ahead to live than I have already lived, so I should want to make the most of those I have left. So I am taking a few moments to list some of the things I have done wrong in 2014 and looking to repair those for the next year.

 I feel that I have let my life become encumbered by technological "conveniences". I have several email addresses, a Facebook account, a twitter account, a cell phone that has texts, as well as answering machines and voicemail boxes. What a hassle these conveniences are! So I will stream line that for next year. Not sure how but that is a goal!

Too often this year I have given myself a pass on my busy-ness. Many times I have cheated God, and cheated myself from missing my spiritually enriching times in his presence. I have substituted cheap imitations such as quick devotional reads and half hearted prayers. God's purposes are deep and my time in his presence needs to be fully attentive.

I have a list of a few things that need to be accomplished this next year. The interesting thing is that each of these will demand a miracle. So I am believing for great blessing from God. I am stretching myself out toward the God who promised amazing things to those who call upon his name.

I have a conviction in my spirit that God is calling us to reach out more than ever before. I have witnessed the openness of several individuals this last year in speaking with them regarding spiritual issues. They probably don't buy my conservative politics, but they are genuinely interested in this man named Jesus. I want to try to represent the Lord in my conversations

I have to say that I have fallen prey at times to the slacking of verbal discipline. I have spoken when I should have been silent. Listened when I should have walked away. I have uttered useless and careless words. And I have let my anger grab my tongue too quickly. This year I am going to exercise that discipline better.

I have a wonderful wife. Sometimes (not often enough) I tell her that I am truly blessed by her character, compassion, faithfulness and love. But too often I take her for granted. She deserves more attention than I give her.

Okay, that is a pretty tall order ... Lord help me in 2015