Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Picture

The new masthead photo was taken Saturday in a field at the home of a family in our fellowship. They blessed us by including us in their family Easter celebration—complete with a BBQ, egg hunt for the kids, wonderful fellowship, a telling of the Easter story to the kids, a fresh pot of coffee in my honor, a quad ride through fields of flowers, and lots of love. Enjoy the photo and share a little of our area with us. It is beautiful this time of year! (Email subscribers, you will have to visit the blog's home to see the photo I am talking about.)

Easter Teaching

Many people said that they were blessed and encouraged by the teaching I gave yesterday (Easter) at our fellowship. I offer it to you in case you feel led to listen. (Below is a link to the 35 minute mp3 file. You can click on it to listen if your browser is set up for that, or right click on it and select the option "Save Link As" to save it to your hard drive). I used very few notes when giving the teaching as I felt the Lord directing me to simply share an overflow of the last two posts about the Saturday between the cross and the resurrection, and how the work was already done but not yet realized. God bless you all, and thanks so much for reading, listening, and most of all for sharing my life with me.

Easter Teaching

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Heart of Stone Rolled Away . . .

Luke 24:1-12   But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Q: When did Jesus say, “It is finished?”
A: On the cross.

Q: When did the disciples “get it”?
A: The verse above, as well as some other verses (try John 12:16 and John 2:22), plus what the Bible records about the disciples hiding in fear of the Jews, would seem to indicate that it wasn’t until after the resurrection and glorification of Jesus.

The work was done on the cross, but it wasn’t received by them and made their own until after they met the risen Christ—until after the Spirit rolled away the stone of their heart, and the veil that masked their understanding was torn. It was then, it seems, that they realized what was done, and who He really was. The work was done on the cross, and made their own on Easter Sunday, but that Saturday in between those days (“The Darkest Day” which I speculated about in yesterday’s post), seems to me like such a picture of the lost world (and of each believer before they realized who He was and gave their life to Him)—the work is already done for us, but we live in the darkness not realizing it.

Sometimes this is, I fear, a picture of the Christian’s life as well. There are too many things I am anxious about, or afraid about, or in doubt about, when, in fact, the work is already done by Him, and the promise is already given by Him, and it is just mine to make my own through faith. Too often, it seems, I live in “Saturday.” Like Sarah and Abraham, I don’t have the faith to trust God at His promises and take Him at His word. But, I am so encouraged by Sarah and Abraham’s story as well, because Hebrews 11 assures us that even if we begin without faith in one of His promises or aspects of His character, we can turn to Him and consider Him faithful who has promised. Like Sarah, then, that faith will become the power to bring forth the life that is dormant in the seed of His promise, just waiting for the water and light of our faith to bring it forth.

This morning I plan to teach at our fellowship on many of the different emotions and fears and “confusions” that might have been swirling in the disciples on Saturday, that were swept away or answered on Sunday. The cry, “He’s Alive!” truly makes all the difference in the world, and I hope that each and every one of you have a joyous and wonderful day today celebrating that victory, and the hope and purpose it brings! And, remember—even when our faith falters, and our step stumbles, and the cry of “He’s Alive!” maybe doesn’t seem to carry the power it should to us, we have the cross of Friday towering over us, covering us in the shadow of its mercy and grace, and testifying of His amazing love. Wow! Words truly do fall short of describing what this whole period of time in our Lord’s life means for us . . .

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Darkest Day . . .

You wake up and, for a moment, feel like you’ve had the worst dream of your life . . . and then you realize it wasn’t a dream. You lie there and hope, and go over the day before, but then you realize, that hope as you might, yesterday really happened. Yesterday you watched them beat and mutilate and mock and kill the One you had thought was God’s Son, the One you had left everything to follow, the One you had endured hostility and persecution to walk behind, the One who had maybe cast seven demons out of you, or had healed you of a crippling disease . . . the One who had offered you love and hope and peace with God when others condemned you and judged you and looked at you with contempt and cast you out.

Yesterday, after the earthquake and the darkened sky and the rumors of dead people walking around Jerusalem, you had hoped, waited, for something to change. You’d seen Him die, there was no doubt about it, but didn’t the signs in the sky mean something? Weren’t the Heavens displaying their anger—and He was going to awaken on the cross, or right after Joseph took Him down, and display your justification, and destroy your enemies, and prove He was God?

You’d waited, and waited, and hope had begun to die, and slowly fear, and numbness, and uncertainty, and hopelessness had crept in. You had watched evil win, and goodness die . . . but was He even good if He had lied and deceived so many of you? Yesterday, every secret knock on the door as you hid from the Jews, every rushing person past the window, awakened a hope. You sat up, crying in your heart for someone to tell you it had changed. But, eventually, somehow, exhausted and drained and broken and racked with sorrow, you’d fallen asleep and awoken this Saturday morning, hoping it had all been a bad dream, but the dirt on your clothes from last night where you’d fallen to the ground sobbing shatters even that hope and testifies that yesterday really happened. Jesus is dead—and He didn’t even defend Himself! He didn’t even DO anything to stop them! Anger at Him mixes with your sadness in a horrible soup in your soul. Two days ago you life had purpose and meaning and direction—you were a follower of Jesus! Today He is dead, and you have . . . nothing! Even worse, you have nowhere to go back to—you are alienated from all that you left, and there is no place for you any longer. Two days ago you had dared to believe that even your life might be redeemable before God . . . but today, you realize you are without hope of redemption at all.

Today is the darkest of days. The Jews continue their celebrations and feasts, and the One who offered you freedom from the law and religion and guilt and fear of God continues to lie in the grave. All of the ones who warned you about Him, and who threw you out for following Him, were right and you were wrong. Now what? You’ve left everything, for what? For a lie? Now, each footstep outside the window brings fear. Are you the next one to be arrested and crucified? Are all the promises and hope and love and acceptance He offered you now a mocking memory that laughs in your face? Clearly the Jews and your family and neighbors were right—and it only rips open the wounds His love and acceptance had begun to heal, and pours salt into them.

What about the power He displayed, the authority He spoke with, the way your religious leaders had backed down before Him, the healings He performed? What about them? Were they a show? No! You don’t want to believe that! You know what you were before He touched you, and how different you are now! But . . . what about the miracles? Was He a necromancer or sorcerer? He clearly had power, but your religious leaders had condemned Him. You’d thought He was good. You’d thought He was from God—but maybe they were right. Maybe you laughed with, and believed in, and ate with, and helped, a man working miracles by the power of Beelzebub as the religious teachers claimed. While He was beside you as they accused Him there was no way you could believe it—He was so good! You felt such pure love, for the first time ever! But now, He’s dead, and they’re still alive and in charge. Could you have been wrong? How could something so good have been so deceiving . . . and what now? What was next?

You thought yesterday, watching Jesus be beaten, mocked, “tried,” and crucified, was the worst day of your life . . . but today promises to be even worse—the darkest day of your life—because at least yesterday, up to the end, you’d clung to hope . . . but today there is no more, and without hope we perish. Yesterday you kept hoping that He’d finally say, “Enough!” and defend Himself. Yesterday you’d hoped that maybe He’d just fainted . . . but, seeing His mutilated body, and the blood and water pour from the spear hole, you knew deep down inside that He was really dead. Yesterday you’d hoped the Heavens would open and He would open His eyes and wrong would be made right. But today . . . He really is dead. It’s not a dream. And He is now wrapped in burial clothes and in a tomb with a massive stone in front of it, guarded by soldiers. If anything was going to happen it would have been yesterday, or last night, but today it is too late. Any hope that you had clung to is gone, and your life lies around you—shattered, impossible to fix. Yesterday you saw evil win, you saw evil have its greatest victory . . . but now you don’t even know what is evil and what is good anymore. Today is going to be a very long and dark day—if you even live through it . . .

Little do you know that tomorrow morning the knock will come, and the words will fly to your ears, “He’s Alive!” Little do you know that within a few days all the Scriptures you’ve known for years, and all the mysterious things He said, will suddenly make sense, and that you will realize that while you thought evil was working its greatest victory, and the wicked were going to prosper, God was in fact turning evil against itself and He was working His greatest victory! Little do you know that, within a few weeks, you will have touched the risen Jesus, been taught by the risen Jesus, watched the risen Jesus ascend into Heaven, and been filled with a fire, and the Spirit of God, and a sense of purpose and destiny that will carry you around the region declaring His truth, demonstrating His power, and proclaiming His name until you, too, joyously go to join Him!

“Today,” may look like the darkest of days, upwelling with hopelessness, doubt, fear, or frustration; seeming to scream out that darkness reigns, and that God must be either dead or uncaring or not real—but “tomorrow’s” cry of, “He’s Alive!” reminds us that, even when we don’t see it or understand how, God is always at work and on our side—and hope, peace, joy, eternal life are ours today, because He lives!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who is Uncomprehending?

Note: This is a long post, but I believe it is a critical one. Between this topic, the other firestorm topic these days of whether or not hell is real, and the U.N. debating if Mother Earth should have the same rights as people, the attacks on our faith these days are huge and we must be equipped to strengthen the faith of one another and ourselves. (And, yes, I finally gave in to the fact Winter is gone, and changed my masthead to a Spring one . . . email subscribers, you'll have to go to the blog to see it.)

On April 10th, 2011, Karl W. Giberson wrote a post that appeared in the CNN religion blogs, about how Jesus would believe in evolution. By Tuesday morning, April 19th, it had generated over 3,400 comments and it had over 8,300 people recommending it via Facebook. Whether it is someone saying that hell might not be forever, or someone saying you can be a Christian and reject the Bible’s words, it is amazing to me how many people will jump at anything that will help them feel “right,” or “justified,” in rejecting a complete surrender to the Bible as the written word of God, and to Jesus as both our Savior and Lord. Needless to say, this article has created a firestorm of articles, comments, rebuttals, defenses, etc.

According to the editor of the CNN page, “Karl W. Giberson, Ph.D., is vice president of The BioLogos Foundation and is the author or coauthor of seven books, including The Language of Science and Faith.” It is my understanding that the BioLogos Foundation is a group of scientists, etc., promoting theistic evolution, or the belief in evolution married with the belief in the Christian God. (I have put a link below to the article by Karl Giberson.)

Giberson’s article begins, “Jesus once famously said, ‘I am the Truth.’ Christianity at its best embodies this provocative idea and has long been committed to preserving, expanding and sharing truth.” He then goes on to talk about how scientists, many Christian, have "proven" evolution and some different “evidences” of that. After that he says, “Anyone who values truth must take these ideas seriously, for they have been established as true beyond any reasonable doubt. . . . Christians must come to welcome - rather than fear - the ideas of evolution. Truths about Nature are sacred, for they speak of our Creator. Such truths constitute ‘God’s second book’ for Christians to read alongside the Bible.”

About Genesis he says, “While Genesis contains wonderful insights into the relationship between God and the creation, it simply does not contain scientific ideas about the origin of the universe, the age of the earth or the development of life.” Earlier in the article he referred to Genesis as, “. . . a story that began as an oral tradition for a wandering tribe of Jews thousands of years ago.”

Giberson does not address the multitude of scientists who don’t believe in evolution, nor does he address all of the evidence for Creation, nor the suppression of scientists and teachers who believe in Creation (as documented in the video Expelled). He doesn’t talk about how things like love and self-sacrifice, etc. “evolve,” nor the explanation for the clearly evident spirit-world. In all fairness to him, a blog is not a place to be able to cover very much, but, unless I missed it, these things were not even referenced or alluded to in any credible form. Additionally, there is no reference to how a Christian deals with the irreconcilable differences between the Gospel and theistic evolution (I’ve posted on this before, and I will do so again in the near future). He does make two other quotes worth noting, which I’ll post here, and then I’ll close with a couple of thoughts:

“To suppose, as the so-called young earth creationists do, that God dictated modern scientific ideas to ancient and uncomprehending scribes is to distort the biblical message beyond recognition. Modern science was not in the worldview of the biblical authors and it is not in the Bible.”

“We are often asked to think about what Jesus would do, if he lived among us today. Who would Jesus vote for? What car would he drive? To these questions we should add ‘What would Jesus believe about origins?’ And the answer? Jesus would believe evolution, of course. He cares for the Truth.”

It is amazing to me how Christians, who believe in a God who can create a universe, struggle so much to believe His word about how He did it, and how quickly we feel like we must find some explanation that preserves “evidence” some scientist claims to have found. These scientists reject, without apology or attempt to preserve, our foundation of truth (the Bible), and yet we find ourselves trying to find a “theory” that meshes us and them. Is it any wonder that Jesus asked, in Luke 18:8, “. . .  Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  Why do we seem, at times, to give those scientists so much more credence than all the scientists who believe in the Bible and its account?

To me, it is utter error for Giberson to say, “To suppose . . . that God dictated modern scientific ideas to ancient and uncomprehending scribes is to distort the biblical message beyond recognition.” To those who hold his view, the scribes of old were uncomprehending. Well, in most areas, aren’t we all? How many of us understand, first hand, how much of how anything really works? Rather, we learn it from someone, and the wisdom of that someone makes us either comprehending or uncomprehending—depending on whether our teacher is right or wrong. So, if God is right, and His written word is true, it would, in fact, make those who reject it uncomprehending . . . and those who they claim to be uncomprehending are, actually, the ones of true understanding because they believed God.

Did you ever notice how much the Bible foresaw the attacks on our faith? There is no way to attribute it to simply “uncomprehending” scribes who would have believed it if God only said it once. They could have never foreseen the type of attack our faith and Genesis would undergo thousands of years later. Yet, the Bible clearly did foresee it. Look carefully at its wording, with an eye to see how it addresses what only God could have know we would be challenged by today.

1)    In Gen 1:5 it says, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Six times this is repeated, once for each day of work. A clear statement against the theory that a day is longer than a real day. Why, without foreseeing today’s attacks, would that statement and repetition be necessary?

2)    Ten times in Genesis 1 it talks about plants and seeds created, “according to its kind.” Why this repetition? Why this detail? Might it not be to help equip believers like us with assurance against the theories that say one kind evolves into another?

3)    In Genesis 1:26 it says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” Later, the Jesus whom Giberson says would believe in evolution says, in Matthew 19:4, “. . . Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” and, later, in Mark 10:6, Jesus says, “But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'”

There is no way to reconcile God’s account of Creation with what some scientists are proposing happened. But, it is to me, as if God foresaw these “theories” that would attack our and our children’s faith today, and He worded His written word with such repetition that we could, in no way, convince ourselves He didn’t mean what He said. The repetition of things in Genesis and elsewhere is so strong, it is as if God saw words like Giberson’s who writes in the blog, “Evolution does not contradict the Bible unless you force an unreasonable interpretation on that ancient book,” and then wrote in His repetition to not give you any room to interpret His word any other way . . . to not be able to come up with a “more reasonable” interpretation and still believe the Bible. So, realizing God meant what He said, we are faced with a choice, and either one requires faith. The question is, who do you have your most faith in—scientists whose theories and ideas change year to year, or God who created a universe, gave you life, died on a cross for you, and is forever faithful?

Giberson Article

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leftovers . . .

I wish you were here. I am blessed to be able to be at home today, and to enjoy two things I really enjoy, that I don't normally get this time of year. We are having an unexpected light rain, which means I have an "excuse" to light our wood stove. I am sitting in front of it, finishing a good cup of coffee, having just had a little time with my bride at "recess," and now reading a book by Francis Chan called Crazy Love. It is a near perfect day, and I wish you, reader and friend, were here to enjoy it. I'd put on a fresh pot of coffee (after grinding fresh beans, of course), and add some wood to the fire, and we'd talk about God . . . our wonderful, glorious, holy, awe-inspiring God. We'd get to know Him and each other better.

I have been intrigued by Francis Chan enough to read his book because to me, to have a pastor of a mega church (which I believe he founded) step away from it for an uncertain call, in this day and age of self-interest, is worthy of note. To be able to leave such security and recognition for a call of God to something not yet defined perks my interest. There is something about the step from security into faith that strikes at the core of what our walk should look like that I felt I'd at least give his book a try and see what God was doing in his heart before he felt led to make that decision.

This morning I was reading in his section about giving God our leftovers, and it really struck a note of resonance with me. I think that he pinpointed the issue at work when this happens when he said, "For years I gave God leftovers and felt no shame. I simply took my eyes off Scripture and instead compared myself to others" (pg. 91).

I think that this is so true. Like the frog slowly being boiled alive in water that doesn't realize it as the temperature is slowly raised, I think that we can, without realizing it, let the church (institution), or others, become our measuring stick instead of God's holiness and worth. We can, slowly, by taking our eyes off of Him and His majesty and wonder and holiness and justice and power and love and mercy, start to feel content in what we are giving Him because it is more than others, or most, are giving Him. The reality is, however, that if He alone were our measuring stick we would never be content, and always want to give Him more.

The origin of this isn't guilt, or legalism, but love and wonder. Simply because He is so worthy, and we love Him so, that we just want to give Him our first and our best—whether it is of our time, or our affection, or our value, or our finances, or . . ., we can go on and on. When we stop and stare at the stars, and realize there are billions of galaxies with billions of stars in each . . . when we look at the wonders of how life in a single tidepool interacts and is so perfectly complete . . . and then we realize that this huge, incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring God knows us and loves us and died for us and lives in us, it just starts to bring out in us the desire to give Him our very first and our very best of all that we are.

God says to be still and know that He is God. Sometimes, in our busy lives, that is hard. To just be still and to marvel at Him and His handiwork, and to reflect on His written word and His promises. But, I believe, the more we simply look at Him, and the less we look at others around us, the less we will find that He gets our leftovers, because the more we will find He is the center of our heart and awe, and we want to give our best to those that we love.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Palm Sunday

Though the task ahead was one that would bring indescribable pain to our Lord, and we can't even fathom what it would have been like for the sinless Creator to have to carry our sin and to be mocked by His very own Creation, Luke 9:51-53 tells us that:  When the days drew near for him [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

I am struck by the repetition of the expression that His face was set to go to, or toward, Jerusalem. There is something so concrete and steadfast in that expression, ". . . He set His face to go to Jerusalem." Wow! It challenges me to ask myself, "What have I set my face towards?"

In Daniel 1:8 in the New King James translation it says, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." He purposed in his heart. The English Standard Version says he "resolved."

I know that I won't know the extent of God's plans for me all right now, nor even what my life will look like in months, let alone years, but I must ask myself, "Have I set my face, have I purposed in my heart, that the Lord's work and will is going to be done through me—that I will present myself before my King as a yielded vessel that He might find pliable and surrendered to His heart and work?"

I get the sense that for Jesus, and Daniel, there was resolve to let nothing distract them from the course. We read this theme of not getting entangled with sin or the cares of the world throughout the Bible. We see it in Abraham's steadfast march with his son Isaac toward the mountain of sacrifice. I wonder what my true determinations are . . . not what I "say" they are, but what my life and my priorities and the use of my time "reveal" they are.

Have I set my face? Have I purposed my heart? Is my King's (and Father's) will the determination of my mind, and the goal of my life? May He find me ready, willing, dependent, poured out, led by His Spirit, and joyous in the days ahead—may I set my face to that goal, and always remember the new mercies every morning He offers when I stumble and fall.

As recorded in Numbers 6:24-26, may, "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

God bless you all. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Three Cheers for Combat Support!

Note to Email Subscribers: This version differs slightly from the one you received via email as the feed burner sent it out before it was finalized.

I remember in the military being told that it took something like seven people working in the rear to keep one person on the front lines. I was a scout and my job was to push ahead of the unit, sometimes behind enemy lines, and either call in the needed assets, or direct our commander about what the enemy was doing so he could move units around and respond appropriately. While my position, in a Cavalry unit, was the glamorous one (you should see a picture of me in my black Stetson with the crossed Cav sabers on it!), my ability to do my job would have been nonexistent without the countless men and women in the rear fixing the Hummers, keeping the radios working, moving supplies and fuel forward, collecting information and processing and disseminating it, making the vehicles and uniforms and weapons and night vision gear, etc.

With that said, I wanted to give a shout out to all the people who work behind the scenes of Christian ministry and make what is visible happen! We are in a spiritual war, and it is a critical battle with eternal consequences! We have our pastors, our evangelists, our Bible study leaders, our worship leaders, our authors, our speakers, our radio personalities, etc., and they get a tremendous amount of visibility. But, taking nothing away from them, here's a toast with a good cup of coffee to all those who quietly make those things possible, and who quietly serve the Lord with little or no recognition.

Where would we be without the faithful wife who raises her children to love the Lord, and considers this and taking care of her home and husband a noble calling in the face of cries to be independent and make her own life, following her own goals? What church would survive without the faithful who give, serve, attend, witness to their neighbors and coworkers, weed the grounds, pick up the trash, etc.? What about the faithful editors and friends who polished the book you read, or the movie you watched, but whose names are a tiny mention in the credits or acknowledgments? What about all the people who faithfully taught Children's Church, and witnessed to others, and held others accountable—who seeded into the lives of the pastors and authors and personalities whose names are more recognized than others? All these people, as well as the elementary school teacher, the quiet car mechanic, and the coffee shop barista, are in the spiritual war just as much as the "visible" people, because the spiritual realm doesn't recognize "lines" like we do, and it is active all around all of us.

It is such an honor to be in the body of Christ. What a tremendous praise I give to those who are quietly faithful in their daily calling to follow Him, serving, walking in faith, with their only recognition being one day in the future when they hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Your jobs are critical, and you are amazing, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Don't ever buy the lie from the pit of hell that you are any less amazing, or valuable, or that you are making any less eternal difference, than someone else whose name is more recognized than yours, or who is in a position where they are maybe seeing more "fruit." Every person in those positions is there because countless other people, whose names will never be known this side of Heaven, made it possible.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Just Wondering . . .

This post is just a reflection, just a wondering . . . I am sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Santa Clara, doing some studying, getting ready to go to the second day of a Christian homeschool convention looking for our curriculum for next year. The lobby is packed with hundreds of juniors and seniors at a mock government debate conference. It sounds like it is something similar to the Boy's State I went to in high school.

The "kids" are all dressed up, buying their Starbucks, and debating the government and resolutions and laws. Inherent in that, of course, would have to be the foundation of laws and government . . . do they come from man's good ideas, or from God. Whether or not they realize it, that is the core denominator.

As I watch these kids, who are dressed to kill (and modesty is definitely not a priority here), and who are, on the outside at least, confident and on top of the world, with the future of our nation's decisions in their hands, I wonder . . .

How many know our Lord as their King?

How many seek His heart as the basis of their wisdom and knowledge?

How many realize how desperately they need Him?

How many love our soldiers and the cost they have paid for them to even have the possibility to be in politics, or to vote?

How many have chosen purity and abstinence until they are married?

How many honor their mothers and fathers?

How many believe that God created the world in six days?

How many hold the Bible pure and true as the lamp unto their feet?

I just wonder . . .

What will it look like when my girls have their own children?

What freedom to homeschool and teach the Lord's truths will still exist?

What will our nation see as its foundation of truth and decisions?

What Christian values will still be honored?

What will be thought of a girl who stays in the home until she is married, and then simply loves to care for her family and home?

How many of these kids would defend the Lord and His values, and recognize that there is right, and there is wrong, and that we must make a stand for truth or perish as a nation?

I just wonder, as I sit here, and then I wonder, who will teach these kids? Who will stand before them and share the love of God, and His mighty and awesome wonder and awe? I shared an elevator with a kid who was the "governor" of Northern California. I didn't say anything to him. I thought about the things I could have said afterwords, but not then. Who will help them?

Just wondering . . . I guess sipping a good cup of coffee does that to me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Museum, or Workshop?

The fellowship I pastor is far from perfect. Beginning with me, we are all works in progress in our Christian life. While eternally completely forgiven, bearing Christ’s righteousness, and sealed in the adoption of the Holy Spirit, in the daily realm of life we all have struggles and victories, strengths and weaknesses, good days and bad days. We have days we (and I) love and bless one another, and days we (and I) let each other down and even wound one another. I would venture to say that any honest pastor would say the same thing about themselves and their fellowship.

The question is, I think, are we OK with that? I don’t mean that we are happy about those things in our life and passive about trying to grow closer to His image—I mean, are we OK realizing that we aren’t there yet, and nor are those around us? I think the minute that we aren’t we start being condemning, unforgiving, judgmental, and divisive, and a poison creeps into the body that is supposed to be united in love as one. (This isn’t about not being the iron that sharpens iron in another’s life, or not humbly holding one another accountable—it is about the attitude we carry in that.)

I have told our fellowship many times that we are a workshop, and not a museum. If they want perfect people, and people that always live up to their expectations, then they are in the wrong place. We are a collection of many people, from many different backgrounds and church experiences (or no church experience at all). Each has their own expectations and hopes and needs . . . and baggage. Isn’t that logical?

I think that if Christians aren’t careful we can become the older brother in the prodigal story, or the Jews struggling to receive Gentiles. We can start to look at how long we’ve walked with Jesus, and how “mature” we’ve become, or how “proper” we act in church, or how much “we” serve, or how “clean” our mouth is, or . . . and then we can look at another, who maybe isn’t as “polished,” and find judgement (or a condescending spirit) enter our heart.

We have to be so careful to love one another, to guard our hearts, to forgive quickly, to serve gratefully, to examine our log more than we focus on their speck, and to recognize that the person we are elevating ourself above may have come to Christ from a far more broken place then we did, and have actually traveled much farther in their Christian journey toward maturity then we have!

How many times churches are divided (literally, or in spirit though they remain “together”) by bitter roots of judgment, unforgiveness, self-focus, self-seeking, etc. Even when there are legitimate offenses to us—how many times have we offended or wounded others (or God) and been so grateful for grace and mercy!

In Acts 10:15 the Lord said to Peter, in this case about Gentiles, "What God has made clean, do not call common." When we speak ill of one of God’s children, or we judge them, or we fail to forgive them, or we hold something against them, or we withhold what He would have us give them, or we seek our own over them, we are doing it unto His own, and we are saying that they, who are good enough for God and loved by God and declared acceptable and clean by God, are not good enough, or clean enough, for us to love and forgive and serve . . . and that is a scary place to find your heart!

We shouldn’t wonder if the world rejects Jesus if they see in those who claim to bear His image nothing different from the world they live in. Workshop, or museum? It is a question to ask. What are we truly OK with?


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