Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions

It's that time of year. Everyone is talking about resolutions. Most people I'm hearing from aren't making them, because they never seem to be able to keep them. Today, I found a link to some incredible resolutions made by Jonathan Edwards. If you have a few minutes, they are a good read and a good reminder about keeping our life focused on Christ.

You can read them here...

Favorites of 2007

Here are some of my favorites from 2007:

Favorite Blog:
blog.worship.com - A variety of information. Some good freebies every now and then. I really liked the series on the Greatest Need of the American Church.

Favorite Coffee: (I started drinking coffee back in October)
Maxwell House French Roast - though I just had some Kenya from my Starbucks Sampler - Thanks Crystal - and it runs a close second. I really like the Nestle French Vanilla Creamer too.

Favorite TV Show:
Heroes. This has been the first year that I can remember watching so little TV. Our life is so crazy now that we don't follow any particular show anymore. But I have been following Heroes online. I think I'm addicted.

Favorite Album:
United We Stand - Hillsong United. This one's not even close. I love Hillsong United and I can still listen to this album over and over. I still think that in Heaven everyone will have an Australian accent.

Favorite Moment:
I'm afraid this one's a tie. When Nancy asked the Lord into her life on Christmas Eve, that had to be one of the great moments of the year.

The other moment that comes to mind was an evening service at Camp. The evangelist preached a tremendous message on forgiveness and after the message we sang Kristian Stanfill's version of Jesus Paid it All. To hear about 80 kids singing "O praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!" was an amazing experience I will never forget.

Favorite Scripture:
The Lord's Prayer. It changed my life. I don't think I'll ever be the same. Hallowed Be Thy Name is how we should all be praying.

You Gotta Hear This

I'm going to try and start posting new music that I find on Tuesdays. I'll also try to post the set that our praise team did the previous Sunday. If you have something new that you really like, please let me know about it. I love to share great music.

For the first Music Tuesday - I'm already cheating. I haven't bought the CD, but I listened to the samples on iTunes and listened to the song Yesterday, Today, Forever by Vicky Beeching on Youtube.



Set List for Sunday Morning December 30th:
Come, Now is the Time to Worship
Holy is the Lord
How Great is our God
We Fall Down

Sunday Night:
Trading My Sorrows
Love the Lord
Shout to the Lord
Lord I Give You Me

Bless Back Continues

This has been amazing. Yesterday at church one woman shared her Bless Back story. Her family used their Bless Back money to make pies and then deliver them to others. She delivered a pie to her sister whom she hadn't seen in a year. They had been having a disagreement, but her sister welcomed her in.

I think the most exciting thing to happen from the Bless Back Challenge is how everyone is looking for an opportunity to serve. I'm wondering why we didn't do this sooner. :)

You can read all the stories on the Bless Back Page.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I Made It!

I know everyone is pretty leary about setting goals and New Year's resolutions and all that. But back in November I set a goal to create 30 posts in the month of December. And this is post #32. Yeah!!! Sometimes you actually can keep a goal! :)

If you are setting some goals for this coming year, I encourage you - don't quit. I may not keep up the pace that I have set in December, but I hope to post more than just 2 or 3 times a month. I hope to keep on pace for about 1 per day. If you have a blog, let me know. I always love to read what other people are thinking.

Happy New Year!

Through the Bible in One Year

I think I'm going to give a go at reading through the entire Bible in 2008. I found an excellent tool to help me with this goal. If you already subscribe to some blogs or rss feeds, you can actually have your daily scripture reading delivered to you by RSS. (I think you can also have it emailed if you like that better. )

I think I'm going to try the ESV. Here's the feed for that one.
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/share/rss2.0/every.day.in.the.word/

If you want to try a different translation check out
http://www.biblereadthrough.com/readthrough/index.cfm


I'll keep you updated on how this turns out.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Let's Get Together

Today I am reading from Romans 15

5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One heart. One mouth.

This is what we should strive for - unity without the loss of truth. This isn't always easy. Everyone has an opinion, even me! But the Lord's word reminds us to work together for His glory.

Lord, help me to set MY feelings aside for YOUR glory.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday is for Photos

I gave out my nice seasonal shot last week. This shot is way out of season, but it was the first one that I came across while looking through my recent photos that I really liked. This picture was taken at the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, IL.


The Weak Faithed Vegetarian.

I know you were hoping to read some great article about Vegetarians, but this idea actually comes from Romans 14.
2 One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

Paul uses this chapter to remind us that we are not to cause our brother to stumble. I like to sum up this chapter with the idea of principle vs. preference. When something is a biblically founded principle, we need to stand firm on that issue. But when something is a preference, we need to allow some latitude in how that particular matter is carried out and viewed. Of course the problem is determining whether an issue is a principle or a preference. This is where the third "P" comes into play - prayer.

My favorite verse from this passage is verse 17...
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Lord, help me to focus on the most important things. Let my life be about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green.

No offence to Kermit the Frog. I am a big Muppet Fan. But that's a post for another day.

I was able to have a good discussion with some of my wife's family over the holiday's concerning the topic of environmentalism and Christianity. Here is the blog article that really got me to thinking.

I imagine we all could do a little better as far as it relates to being good stewards of this planet. My concern is how much emphasis should we place on the environment versus the souls of our neighbors and others around the globe.

I'm considering starting with some small steps to make our house a little more environmentally friendly, but I sure don't want to major on the minors here. I still think that there are bigger issues at stake. I don't want to place my focus on the temporary when I know it should be on the eternal. I'm sure that God is pleased when we take care of the resources he has left in our care.

But I never want to value a bear, or seal, or whale or tree over the soul of a human being.

I think this issue is going to take an increasing place of prominence in the evangelical church. I think it won't be long that instead of speaking out on abortion and homosexuality, the "evangelical" church will be speaking out on environmental issues and obesity.

If you have a take on this issue, I'd love to hear it.

You Should Be In Debt

"You should be in debt." Bet you haven't heard that one too much.
Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Actually the scriptures say that we should not be in debt except the debt we have to love one another. It's amazing - if we will keep this one commandment - to love your neighbor as yourself - we'll actually end up keeping the whole second half of the ten commandments.

So whom do you owe?

Lord, help me this week to continue paying on my debt to my neighbors - those you have placed in my path.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Best Christmas Present Ever!

I think I may have received the best present ever last night at our Christmas Eve service. A friend of mine who has been coming to our services for quite a while gave her life to God last night. We didn't have an altar call, but she came forward to the piano bench after the dismissal prayer. She had been "fighting" for a while and last night she decided to give in and follow Christ. It was a fantastic close to a good service and a good year.

Thank you Lord for working even when we're not always paying attention.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Do it Again!

This video clip has provided tons of entertainment for me and my son. We also showed it at Church Sunday as a reminder to "get out of the boat." Usually when you take a faith risk - you are so rewarded you want to do it again. This video really demonstrates that idea.


More Bless Back


I was excited about spending my 5 dollars and prayed and contemplated what to do. My first idea was to buy some of those self-heating hot chocolates from Wal-mart and then hand them out to construction workers along with a "Be My Guest" invite card for the church. Unfortunately, Wal-mart was all out of those hot-chocolates. (If I get some time, I'll post about how they started my coffee addiction.)



So for my second idea I got to thinking about the people that have to work Christmas day. (Wouldn't that be a bummer!) So I decided to try and get together a goodie basket for our local Police Department for those guys and gals who would be working on Christmas day. My son hadn't figured out what to do with his $5 yet, so he decided to join in. We had a lot of fun just going around to local businesses and trying to see who else wanted to be part of this project.

Our first success story was the local CVS. They girl at the counter asked what we needed and what we were doing this for and then she donated 2 2-liters of soda. That may not sound like much to some, but we were so excited that someone was willing to help, it was a lot to us.

Our next success was Produce Plus. They gave us some home-made goods. We were thrilled. We then ventured to some of the bigger stores in town, but they had a lot of paperwork to fill out. We filled out most of it, but never heard back from them. I'm guessing they had probably already given away their budget for the year.

We then went to dollar tree and this wonderful manager told us she would get together some baskets for our project. We were thrilled! Finally we hit up a couple of Friends - Mr. Purcell & Mr. Smith to add to our project and my wife added a little more.

So today we headed back to the Dollar Tree, not sure what to expect, and they joined together with the Shoe Department to purchase a HUGE meat tray and bread. My son and I had decided that we would spend most of our cash at the store that donated the most towards our gift. So Dollar Tree won! It was fun to watch my boy as he loaded up the cart with $1 items. We had a ball. We came back to church and put together our letter and our Christmas Card to share who all had participated in our project.

All together, I'd say we turned our $10 into about $100 worth of goods for our Christmas Surprise. We had called ahead to the Police Department and found out there were 8 officers working Christmas day. So we feel like we had a pretty good supply of snacks for their Christmas.

I talked it over with my wife, and I think we may have started a new Christmas Tradition. We hope next year to find someone else who has to work on Christmas Day and find some way to be a blessing to them.

Merry Christmas!

And a big thanks to the churches who helped with the Bless Back idea.

Occasionally Generous...

When I was preparing for the first "Bless Back" message I came across this verse from 2 Corinthians 9
11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

The phrase that keeps sticking with me is that God doesn't want us to be occasionally generous - he wants us to be generous on every occasion.

My prayer this time of year is that God would help me to not just do something nice every once in a while, but this would be a habit. After all, He has blessed me so that I can Bless Back!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fear God, Honor the King.

As I read Romans 13 today, I'm reminded to honor and respect those who are placed in authority over me.
Romans 13:7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

But something always comes to mind when I read verses like these. I am supposed to honor those in authority - but I am to fear the Lord.
1 Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

God, please help me not to be afraid of anyone but you. Let me live a life free from the fear of man.

Google Reader

Enjoy reading blogs, but hate going to everybody's page to check and see if they have posted anything new? Google Reader may be for you!

Some of you may happen to understand all of the stuff about RSS feeds, XML, ATOM, etc... But for the rest of us - there's Google Reader. I'm sure there are lots of good blog readers out there. But I really like google reader because I can log into different machines and still get to read my current blogs.

I think you need a Google account to use reader - but don't worry, it's FREE!

If you want to keep up on certain blogs, log into the reader and then just add them to your list of blog subscriptions. Then whenever you go to Google Reader, you'll get the latest posts all in one place. I love it!

Friday is for Photos

Here goes nothing...

I like to follow Scot McKnight's Blog - Jesus Creed. He has something called "Friday is for Friends." He's an avid reader and does lots of book reviews. I'm a terrible reader, but I love to take pictures. I think what I'm going to try is to post one of my own pictures each Friday. We'll see how long this lasts. But hey, it's worth a shot.

So here goes the picture for today... (If you click on it, you can get a full res shot)

I shot this picture while shooting Christmas lights at a friends house. I love the lights and the little bit of snow. Hope you enjoy it.


and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy & Sad?

Can you be both happy and sad? This seems where I find myself this week. I'm still in Romans 12 in my devotions today. And this verse is the one that pops out to me.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

This is a time of year that I do a lot of rejoicing. I know for some the holidays are sad time, but for most they truly are the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year". I am looking forward to spending time with my family and my kids and hopefully I'll get to see a few nieces and nephews as well. I love rejoicing together. We just love to be together. The Lord has been so good to our family.

But this past weekend my wife lost her Grandad. It has been very hard, partly because it came as a shock. He was in relatively good health. When I think about my wife's family - I hurt and cry because this is so hard on them. Grandad was so important to so many.

I think the Lord tells us to rejoice and mourn - because it's one way of turning attention away from ourselves to others who need to be loved. And I think he also tells us this that we might connect with people who are far from God and bring them closer to Him.

Lord, give me grace to rejoice and to mourn and to even do both at almost the same time when you call me to. Thank you for putting people in my life to connect with. You have been so good to me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Me and More Me.

Why is it that God's word just hits you right in the stomach sometimes. The passage I'm reading in my devotions has already been used by God in my life to draw me close to him. It's some of the most practical advice for pleasing God that is given in all the scriptures.
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

When I was in college God used this very passage to break me and bring Revival to my own soul. It has always been precious to me. But this morning as I read it, I reflect on some words from the message yesterday from Phillipians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

I'm reminded of my greatest weakness. The love of myself above God and above others. It's my constant battle. I DO want to love God above all things. I DO want to love my neighbor as myself. I pray almost daily that my children will love God more than anything else. But it's amazing how ambition and pride, and sometimes just plain pity can creep in.

Lord, please help me to honor others above myself. Please let it start within my own family and help me to truly lose sight of everything else but the Hallowing of Your Name and the Glory of Your Kingdom. I'm fighting, but I've got to have your help.

Bless Back!

Talk about a blessing! It is so amazing how God's Word is continually confirmed. Yesterday at our Church was Bless Back Sunday. We invited our people to be part of the Bless Back Challenge. Everyone who attended services yesterday - and believe me with all the ice and snow it wasn't easy to get there - received and envelope with a small blessing of $5 inside. One person received an envelope with $100. They were challenged to use their blessing to share the love of Christ within the next two weeks.

Psalm 67:1-2 was our key text:

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah 2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

We are hoping that our blessing will be used to make God's name great among all nations, starting right here in our own community. We encouraged people to treat their "blessing" as a talent. And to pray that it might be multiplied instead of buried in the ground. (Matthew 25).

As I receive stories I will be posting a few on this blog and the rest at www.pennsweb.com/blessback.htm

I have already received a fantastic story and I had to share it.

One of the ladies in our church had an idea for her $5 almost as soon as she received it. She told me that she had to pray about it first, but she was very excited. I received a call this morning about her blessing - and I was blessed just to hear how God was already at work.

This lady went to her work place and was very concerned about one of her co-workers. This particular co-worker had been through a rough period in her life and yesterday seemed to only add fuel to the fire. She had very little income for gas and for food, and to top it off she received two traffic tickets. We've all had those moments where we wondered if it could get any worse. Well, our church friend found out about the need and shared with some of her co-workers her Bless Back Challenge. Through the generosity of other co-workers they were able to raise $115 dollars and some groceries for their friend in need.

I was blown away!

Once again it's amazing what God can do with little if we will give it to him. Please continue to pray for this situation, that this dear person will be able to find the grace of God in the midst of her hurting. And stay tuned for more Bless Back stories.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Exercise Your Strengths or Improve your Weaknesses?

What is a better use of your life? To do what your good at or to try and be better at the things that you're not so good at?

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.


I often find myself comparing myself to other pastors. Why isn't our work growing faster? Why don't I speak as well as that pastor does? Should I visit the sick more often or spend time in study? Should I work on the web or the blog or head up a service project?

I think passage is a good reminder that the church is a body. We have different parts and different gifts. We need to let people with different gifts be different. And we don't need to feel guilty when we don't possess someone else's gifts.

In Memory of Bill Hayes

Today has been a pretty rough day. My wife's grandfather passed away this morning. He was a tremendous man. He was a great father and grandfather, and a devoted husband who has taken care of his wife and made good on the promise "for better or for worse." My wife's grandmother has been homebound for many years now and Grandpa was faithful to her all those days.

He was also ornery. One of my favorite sayings of his was "Different Prices, Different People, Different Days." If you showed up to buy something, it might just depend on how he was feeling - and more important - how he felt about you as to what price you would get. He never liked being told what he was going to do - especially by the government. He had great taste in TV shows. He loved WKRP and Andy Griffith. He had high standards. He wanted things done a certain way. And he would work with you until you did it "right."

He loved to talk about theology and politics. He always had a story and a joke on hand. This life just won't be the same without him.

We miss you Grandpa. We hope to see you soon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Politics Anyone?

I'm not much in to politics, but I found this Candidate Match Game to be very interesting. Check it out and see what you think.

What does it say about you when your "Top 3" are split between Democrats and Republicans?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Whoops! I Missed that Call.

Have you ever made a prediction only to end up looking like a fool?

Here is a quote from Bob Jones to Billy Graham when Billy was debating about leaving Bob Jones College.

“Billy, if you leave and throw your life away at a little country Bible school, the chances are you’ll never be heard of. At best all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.”

-- Seasons of Refreshing -- page 250 -- Keith Hardman


Of course, Billy did leave and the rest is history.

In View of God's Mercy

"In view of God's mercy" - that must be one of the most difficult statements to fully appreciate in all of the scriptures.

Romans 12:1-2 says
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

How wide is God's mercy? How far reaching? I can only understand a glimpse of it, and it is more than I can bear. I deserve the pit of Hell. I deserve punishment for my transgression. I deserve justice - but I don't want that. Instead, God gives me mercy. He sends His son. Jesus dies and He takes my Hell and my punishment and my "justice." God gives me mercy.

In view of this - what could I ever hold back from God? Nothing. And that is the exact point of this passage. In light of what God has done for us, how can we keep anything from Him? We must give him everything and pray that He would use it to accomplish His good, pleasing and perftect will.

Lord, Thank you. I don't know what else to say. I'm in awe of your mercy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To God Be the Glory

I was talking with my brother yesterday and he expressed his awe about this passage in Romans. It was such a blessing to him and yet it was almost impossible for him to put into words what it meant to him so that he could share that blessing with others.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" 35 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

If you want to hear this in song check out Andrew Peterson's Appendix A. It's called Doxology.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Simple Truth.

This passage in Romans reminded me of a simple truth. We are saved by grace through faith, we are rejected because of unbelief. This is a constant truth in the scriptures. And it shows up here again in Romans 11:

20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Somebody's Gotta Preach

Reading through Romans some more today, and hearing some of the same ideas from the Lord.

Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?


Preaching is not always popular. Peace-making brings persecution. I think we have to be careful when some want to minimize "preaching" because we're afraid people don't connect with it. Some might say it is an out-dated mode of connecting with people. While I do believe that creative art and drama and music all can do some "preaching" - it's not the same. I believe there will always be a need for people to proclaim the gospel and make plain the scriptures. Because this is how people come to faith. In this same passage Paul says...
17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

We need people to communicate the truth of the Gospel through their lives and their creativity. But we also still need preachers to go forth and boldy proclaim the word and the WORD.

Afraid to Hate.

Big thanks to Jacob Riggs at AFrayedKnot for sparking these thoughts with his post on "How Young Americans View Christianity." After I watched the video clip about the book UnChristian, it really got my mind spinning. I've spent some time this morning looking over the UnChristian Website and I have found a lot of interesting information. I'd highly recommend Christians to read it over. I have a feeling this may be a small group study that we pursue in the near future.

After a quick skim of information, this really stood out to me:
The Perceptions of Christianity from Outsiders age 16 to 29... (I believe this information comes from Barna)

1. Antihomosexual - 91%
2. Judgemental - 87%
3. Hypocritical - 85%
4. Sheltered - 78%
5. Too Political - 75%
6. Proselytizers - 70%

In other words Christians (or at least the term "Christian") have a reputation more for their anger and hatred than their love. I'm sure we need to be very careful about these stats. One of my favorite quotes is:
42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. :)

But my guess is the general statement that this is what "Christians" are known for is probably true. When I watched the video clip about the book, my mind started racing.

Should we be afraid to hate? I'm not talking about hating people, but I'm sure there are those who would. But aren't there some things we are supposed to hate? And if you hate some things won't it show? Are you supposed to hide your hatred? I guess we are afraid to show our hatred, because it probably shows our hypocrisy. Maybe we are hating the wrong things?

A young soldier in our church when called on to pray almost always prays "Lord, help us to love the things your love and hate the things you hate." And I have to say, Amen! Please don't get me wrong - I'm not calling for people to hate and not love. There must be a balance. But I think that maybe we are headed in a direction of love and no hate.

So I had to remind myself - what does God hate? The simplest explanation probably comes from Proverbs 6:
16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

The reality is that Jesus hates some things. In Revelation 2:6 Jesus says:
But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

I guess what I am thinking is that if we hate some things, it will probably affect how we are perceived. We better be sure that we are hating the right things. We also better be sure we are loving the right things.

I hope Christians - maybe I should say the Church - are known for the things they love and they actions they take for those things. But I think we better also be known for the things we hate. I hope that we won't be afraid to hate, but that we will truly be passionate about the things that God has a passion for.

Lord, forgive me for my own hypocrisy, and let my passion be all about your passion and let my heart be filled with the things you love and hate.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Born Again, Saved, Justified, Christ following, Member of the Way.

Just what do you call someone who is headed for heaven?

Thankful.

Other than that it can get really confusing anymore. Are you born again? A Christian? A Christ-follower? A member of the Way? Have you been SAVED? Justified? Regenerated?

In my last post I was looking at the changing of evangelism. Is the emphasis on who you are - or what you believe. I don't think it was coincidental that my devotions this morning were from Romans 10:

8 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

The who and the what are both important. How do you know if someone is headed for heaven? Only God knows that. But the scripture lets us know that these people are people who confess AND believe.

I guess to me it doesn't matter much what you call people headed for heaven. I just hope we can see many more of them in our time.

Is Evangelism Changing?

When I was a kid at my home church in Decatur, I remember going on visitation. I remember handing out "God's Simple Plan of Salvation" tracts and one of our leaders being chased down by a German shepherd. :) Basically our goal and hope was that someone would read the tract agree with the information and pray the sinner's prayer.

As I grew older there seemed to be less emphasis on this type of evangelism and more on what was termed "lifestyle" evangelism. Basically we would try to live like Jesus would live and hopefully people would see that we were different from the rest of the world, and they would ask us why and we could tell them our salvation story. Our hope was by seeing that we were different, they would want what we had and ask Christ into their life.

I found this quote today from Out of Ur:
"The old paradigm of evangelism was a transactional sharing of the gospel. I would try to get people to intellectually agree with me. But the new paradigm is different, an approach in which I invite you to walk alongside me, examine my life, and see evidence of the truth, and hopefully there will be something compelling that you see. It's a no-strings-attached invitation to enter my life as I follow Jesus."

-Ken Fong is the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles. Taken from "5 Kinds of Christians" in the Fall 2007 issue of Leadership journal.

Is this any different than what we've been calling "lifestyle" evangelism? I guess the difference is that the emphasis is not on agreeing intellectually, or winning some sort of holy argument, but examining who I am as much as what I believe.

I tend to think the "what" is pretty important. I guess this could be where the church is changing. What do you think?

If you're interested in the changing church culture you also want to check out a great read about 5 kinds of Christians at Christianity today. It reminds us that our culture is changing, but it also emphasizes the need for Biblical Literacy.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Zealous for God

I've been working on the theme for the next year - "Chasing God." Today in my devotions I was reminded that there are quite a few people who are chasing God, but that's not the only thing that matters. You must chase God with knowledge...

Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

I think this knowledge is a "head" knowledge AND a "heart" knowledge. I know in some circles people are saying "I need deeper teaching." But what can be deeper than actually applying what you are learning? Yet on the other hand it is not enough for someone to say - "I'm seeking God." How are they "seeking God?" That is the real question. It matters.

Again, righteousness comes by faith. That is the point. We must seek God on His terms and His terms are faith and repentance. His terms are accepting the work of Christ on the Cross as our own and trusting that work instead of our own.

Lord, please help me to chase you, but to do it on your terms.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I Hate Esau.

Tough stuff.

Romand 9:13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

Some have used this passage to say that God hates some and has already damned them to Hell. And he loves some and has destined them for Glory. I do agree with that assesment, but I base it upon God's foreknowledge. I know that there is a lot of disagreement out there about foreknowledge. But I think God damns and loves based upon how we respond to Christ. I think that is Biblical.

This whole chapter is a strong reminder to me that not all Israel is Israel and not everyone who is going to church is THE Church and not everyone who proclaims the name Christian or Christ-Follower is truly a disciple.

A righteousness that is by faith.

Lord, help us to walk by faith and not by sight, and not by stumbling over the law or the "stumbling stone."

Get out the Kleenex

Kudos to Kim and Scott for sending this video clip my way. We used it in Church yesterday and it was a powerful reminder of God's love for us and that we can find HOPE in the face of loss.




This is one of those things that really is worth passing along.

"God gave his son too. He understands. He will always understand. He will always - jut run to Him." -- Logan.


Everybody who belongs to Jesus belongs to everybody who belongs to Jesus?

This article - Church "R" Us - was an interesting read. I'm a little concerned with the idea that "I love everybody" because I love the Church. I guess, I'm not sure that all those people that Steve Brown mentions are really in the Church. They all should be loved, don't get me wrong. But I still think we need lines that identify "in" and "out." After all - even Jesus had those lines - Sheep and wolves, wheat and tares etc...

But this quote he attributes to Wesley from that article really got my attention.
"Everybody who belongs to Jesus belongs to everybody who belongs to Jesus."

Some people think our church is weird because we often still use the terms "Brother" and "Sister". But these terms serve a purpose. They remind us that we are family. And that has big implications on how we live. If I view an older man as my Father - I'm less likely to lose my temper and more likely to speak respectfully to him. If I view a younger women as my sister, I'm less likely to view her as an object of desire and more likely to view her as someone to be protected.

This idea of family also means that - yes we often disagree - but we are still family. And we are still bound to love and care for each other - even when we disagree.

I belong to everyone who belongs to Jesus.

Great quote.