Thursday, December 25, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Anyone familiar with jazz will recognize the song title. The song speaks of a change in relationship. Interestingly, that's what we celebrate every December 25th. Just 2,008 years ago, God did exactly that -- put into effect the beginning of a change in relationship. In reality the change was prehistoric, when God first made the decision. But the operational functioning of that decision began with the birth of Christ. And every year, our hearts, minds & spirits jump for joy, have a spiritual party, are elated, shout for joy, & all the other good things that celebrate the fact that God gave us the one solution to our one true problem. For, truly, we have no way to save ourselves from ourselves. But He gave us of Himself to save us! So, as we meditate on what He's done for us, today, let's also think of those around us. Many don't yet know that there's more than the emotional & spiritual morass they're engulfed in. But we can tell them. And, even more, we can guide them out of it. Because, where they recognize the problem, we know the solution. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who told you that?

Gen 3:11a And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?

That verse is the beginning of the very first earthly buck passing session. Adam tells God that the problem was Eve giving him the "apple", Eve blames the teaching of the serpent. But that's not what I'd like to speak on today.

I was listening online to a couple of messages from Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Ministries (part of the Calvary Chapel group of churches). One of his buzz phrases is "sound theology without apology". He mentioned the way the internet & other modern conveniences had predisposed some people to modifying their thinking around their comfortability. But I'm not sure it's the conveniences that are at issue.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What are you feeding?

Mat 17:20 And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say to you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.

The hot topic these days is the potential downward economic spiral. Recently, I spoke with a gentleman who was wondering if he should spend money on a necessary home repair or wait to spend money. My response to him was that, if we "live" in a fear of economic possibilities, we generate a self-fulfilling prophecy. Henry Ford is quoted as saying something like, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." And John Maxwell's reading for November 10th speaks of the fact that we always feed one of two emotions -- we can feed fear or we can feed faith.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for & evidence of things not seen. We have a great big God, so why live in a puny economy? It's true that we want to practice wisdom & restraint. But which emotion will you feed today -- fear or faith?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Presidential Priorities

Congratulations to President Obama. Our prayers will be with him. The election that brought him into office has highlighted some polarities in this country that ought to be eliminated. But, no matter who you voted for, there are a couple of things that need to be kept in mind.

First, the forefathers of our country instituted three branches of government, all balancing the other two. So, no matter how good a candidate wants to be or how bad you may think he is, his (or her) successes & failures are going to be mediated by the other two branches of government.

Secondly, my Bible says that God is in control. And God is for us, not against us. Our reaction to the circumstances around us are based on how much we believe that. If you look at the life of Job, he had some pretty negative things go on for some time. None of them were based on any sin in his life, but rather on God giving Satan a lesson. And it certainly was an opportunity for Job to develop his trust & faith in God. Are our circumstances today controlled any less by God? Does He love His creation any less today than in Biblical times? The Bible says we are all sinners & God does love the sinner, but not the sin. The Bible also tells us we can expect trials. So, here's one sinner who is looking forward to being continually loved by God, no matter what circumstances come my way.

Apologies for the long...

absence. Nothing bad happened. Just me trying to jam too much into too little time. :-) And the result was too little time to post here. Having changed some priorities, hopefully there'll be more time to be more consistent here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thank You

Thanks to those in prayer with me for my friend. The surgery went well & the biopsy had good results. I'm sure he'd appreciate prayers for wisdom in moving on with the rest of his life.

And apologies for the hiatus in posting here. Although there are no crises in my life, details took on a life of their own . Presumably, most of that is now under control for awhile. And, as always, I have a number of thoughts running around my head that I'd like to share. So, hopefully soon, you can look forward to more here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prayer Request

We've been getting some great messages on spirituality & prayer, at recent services. Which leads me to a prayer request. A dear friend, who has been a missionary, soul winner & staunch supporter of his pastor, is mere hours away from cancer surgery. I won't mention his name, so that doesn't influence how anyone hears from the Spirit. But please join me in lifting up him and his family, as the Spirit leads. Thanks.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Strength of sin...

In an earlier post, I mentioned 1 Corinthians 15:56b which reads,"the strength of sin is the law." The culmination of this has always been depicted, in my mind, by a local ministry I encountered when I was living in Florida.

Although I had several years of Bible college under my belt, I was still a baby Christian in some ways because of the religious baggage I was still getting rid of, enroute to true spirituality & Biblical understanding. I had moved to Miami as part of a missionary adjunct ministry that was aided & used by a number of other ministries. One of these was the one I alluded to in the first paragraph. And, fortunately for both the innocent and the guilty, the names of both the ministry & the people I met in it (as well as it's location) have gone from my memory. A picture of the locale, as well as the pastor are forever ingrained in my mind. As well as the spiritual lessons clarified & learned there.

When we arrived at the headquarters, it turned out to be in an office complex that had better security than some government buildings I've been in, which gave me pause. Upon entering, we met the Pastor & some of the staff. We got a tour of his part of the complex. And, while some of our group got a more detailed tour, I got to spend some time talking to the pastor's secretary. Within minutes, I knew she thought he was the greatest thing on the face of the planet since the invention of sliced bread. That, too, made me uncomfortable. I've always had a tendency that, if someone or something got an exorbitant amount of compliments, I'd start looking for what was wrong with the person or thing. Even if I greatly trusted the person giving the compliments, I took the compliments with a grain of salt -- still do. And, so far, this visit brought up nothing but mental & spiritual red flags.

Shortly after that, while some of the others got to discuss with some of the staff the possibilities of co-laboring, I got to spend some time with the pastor in his office. I had a feeling that he thought I might be the one most likely to show him where we were spiritually weak. And our conversation started with him strongly commenting on how detrimental sexual sin was to ministry. We discussed other things, but that subject came up several more times in our conversation over the next hour. I wasn't sure if he was testing me to see where we stood on that, if this was a primary focus of his ministry, if this was a problem in his ministry, or if this was a personal problem he was fighting. But, again, there were mental & spiritual red flags raised. If he was testing me, he wasn't very subtle about it. If it was the focus of his ministry, then he seemed to be focusing more on sexual sin than on Jesus Christ or what Christ could do to heal it. Likewise, if it had become a problem in his ministry, he needed more focus on Christ in the issue. And, if sexual sin had become a personal issue for him, then Satan was doing a wonderful job of keeping his focus on comparing himself to others & on the problem, & away from the true solution, Jesus Christ.

I sometimes feel sorry for the Pharisees. I'm sure some of them really loved God, but their lifelong training blinded them to anything but ritual solutions. And we can say that the same happens with any of the more ritualistic religious groups, Christian or otherwise. But, likewise, even evangelical Christian organizations can fall into the same trap when they focus too much on their ministry (or area of ministry) & not enough on Jesus Christ. Or if too much focus is given to their problems, without highlighting the Solution.

It's very easy to get angry with people who choose to live in some form of wrong thinking. But the truth is that we are there with them for a reason. No matter what, we're going to learn something from their decisions. However, I think we're there as much to be able to teach & counsel them, giving them a real opportunity to either willingly be unchanging or to come into the light of Truth. And we certainly can pray for them & their decisions -- we DO know "The Great Physician" who can heal & change not only physical ailments, but mental & emotional ones, as well.

Lord, help us to not only counsel, teach & evangelize those who don't know You as they should, but to pray for them, as well. Amen.

Monday, March 31, 2008

What is unspiritual? -- Part 2

The initial posting on this subject came from some meditations I had on a story I found on the internet. It was about a former stripper & a former prostitute in Las Vegas, NV, who found the Lord & were now ministering to people there in "the sex trade". The accompanying pictures showed these ladies as not looking out of place with their former occupations. The article indicated that a number of the people they ministered to also attended services at their church -- not clarifying whether these ladies were also attendees or whether they pastored the church. All of which gave me some interesting food for thought.

When I attended a conference in the Netherlands about a decade or so ago, one of the things that impressed me about the hosting church was that the ladies' ministry went out on the streets & had a regular ministry to the prostitutes. It was pointed out that this was much safer for them to do because men were likely to be taken by the girls as "johns" having an ulterior motive & taken by the pimps either as "johns" trying to get away with something or as other pimps trying to steal their girls.

More recently, I had several opportunities to visit friends in Las Vegas. Although some of it was not legal in Las Vegas, "the sex trade" was definitely not hidden there. And I asked my friends if anyone from their church was doing something similar to what I described being done in the Netherlands. And I was told it was too dangerous. Which, in the American criminal environment is probably true. Yet, I started this meditation talking about the two ladies who do minister to that segment of society. And, when I first read about them, I thought about that ministry in the Netherlands & also those in my home church who have had a ministry on "The Block" in Baltimore. And it quickly becomes pretty evident that such ministries take a very special calling. Otherwise, there will be no effectiveness in trying to reach out.

And, as for these young ladies looking like they fit in with the culture they're ministering to, I don't recall the Bible indicating that Jesus didn't fit right into the groups He ministered to. The Pharisees were quite good at pointing out that He hung out with drinkers, gluttons, prostitutes, tax collectors & sundry other sinners & that these were Jesus' "friends". In similar fashion, some of the more mainstream ministries (evangelical & otherwise) might be uncomfortable having these two as part of their congregation. But the girls get into places & share Jesus with people that others might never reach.

My particular church holds the belief that there are situations where women can teach, but that God's plan is that (following the "chain of command" of headship) men are the ones to pastor others. I believe the original languages of the Bible support that stance. Other ministries believe otherwise. In my mind, if these ladies are indeed pastoring their church, I'm not sure I can fault God for making an exception to His own rule. If they're truly reaching that segment of society for Christ, then they definitely have a special calling. And, if what they do is all outward, done in the flesh or completely out of His Will, God will deal with that in His own way, too. Either way, it's God's business, not mine.

In any case, we can pray for these ladies & their ministry. And be glad that God's people, God's plan & God Himself can't be put in a box. And know that, no matter what, God's plan will be accomplished. Amen

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What is Unspiritual? -- Part 1

In some ways, the Law & Legalism are things we want to avoid in our spiritual lives. And how often have you heard a derogatory statement, "That's legalism, not Grace!"? We know that the Jews requested the law so that they might obey it. The problem was (& is) that we can't obey anything in the efforts of our flesh. In 1 Corinthians 15:56b we read,"the strength of sin is the law." These are all things we already know all too well. But we tend to look at the Law as 100% bad. And that's not true, either.

Israel wanted God to give them the Law so they could obey it in the flesh. At first glance, that sounds absurd. We know that's impossible. But think about it -- without something to perform in the flesh, man could never have a comparison to realize the impossibility. So, God, in His wisdom & love, gave them the Commandments. Which the Israelites proceeded to expand to over 600 laws. I'm sure God was amused at that one! But He also allowed it to be part of His plan, a pointer to Grace.

After creating over 600 laws, God's chosen people focused so well on the Law that most missed that the Messiah had come. As a result, Jesus was crucified. He was condemned based on perverted interpretations of the Law. Which was exactly as it should be. If Jesus hadn't been condemned by the interpretations of the Law, He would never have gone to the cross & died for our sins. In God's economy, the thing least likely to demonstrate His wisdom & love can often be used most powerfully to do just that.

Now, that doesn't mean that everything has positive spiritual attributes. But when something looks the least spiritual, give it a second look. You might be surprised to find that the thing you determine as solely secular points directly to Christ Himself in a new & unique way. Remember, Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. " And we read in Titus 1:15, "To the pure all things are pure: but to them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. " We need to look at everything with spiritual eyes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

King or friend?

The traditional song "Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King" says, "Now Your grace is always with me And I’ll never be alone." Which certainly sounds like a touch of God's friendship if I ever heard one. And Tommy Walker's song "Break Through" includes the words "Just one touch from You my King, my Friend And I'll never be the same again." Both songs reference God's kingship and friendship, but which is really more important in our relationship with God?

There are schools of theological thought that say the important thing is making God our king, Lord of our life. But is our doing that really important? Is what we do that important or is it what God has done for us? He saved us through His Son, He delivers us on a daily basis. And the plan of salvation & deliverance came in eternity past to cover our sins & situations, past, present, & future.

When the Bible says that we love Him because "He first loved us", it speaks to that fact & right to our humanity. When is the last time you trusted someone's authority over their friendship and love? We may bow down unwillingly to a ruler who doesn't show himself to be a friend, but we will gladly recognize true authority in a ruler who is first a friend. I think God recognized that when He made the first commandment "love thy God" instead of "bow down in submission to thy God", because love can bring willing worship, but submission never creates love. Received love & friendship create trust that endows the giver with an authority that is easy to submit to & creates a true atmosphere of worship.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Royal Blogginess

This one probably should have been the first. But such is life. I just want to use this post to kind of give an overview of the why, when & what of the reasons for this blog.

In the past, I've been a radio air personality, newscaster, & writer (nonbroadcast). I've also worked in defense contracting (purchasing) and sales/marketing (general public). So, communication is something I've had some experience with.

At one point in my life, God made it clear that He had a call on my life. And, for a sizable season, He had me learning (a lot) & not doing anything "artistic". And, recently, God has put it on my heart to get back to writing & to begin communicating some of the things He's put on my heart. Hence, this blog. At the moment, I have no clue how often I'll be posting. But God has given me some great moments of joy & insight that I'd like to share. I hope they bless you as much as me.

Love Thy Brother

Part of March 14's devotional by Richard Wurmbrand struck a respondent chord in my spirit and I wanted to share some of it. : "Real religion begins with a readiness to acknowledge that all your beliefs, including the most cherished, may be wrong, that your own religion may be a variety of prejudice just as you conceive others to be." -- We've all come to whatever point we are in life through how well we relate to God and God's people, some of us doing better than others, some worse than others. And, for a long time, I've suggested that we'll all get to heaven and be surprised at some of the things we're wrong about and surprised at some of the people we'll find there. I suspect that our worst surprise will be finding out how our petty doctrinal and other bickering among believers does disservice to the kingdom of God & great service to the other kingdom. It'd be nice if we really loved ALL the brethren, as we're commanded, wouldn't it?