May 29, 2009
A boy was watching his father, a pastor, write a sermon. “How do you know what to say?” he asked. His father said, “Why, God tells me.” The boy said, “Oh, then why do you keep crossing things out?” I can relate…Taking this thought a step further, many of us also seem to cross things out in our thinking and speaking. Who are we to edit when Jesus says, “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Luke 21:14-15 NIV)
May 28, 2009
Federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor said that never in her childhood dreams could she have thought of being a nominee to the Supreme Court. She may not have imagined herself on the Supreme Court, however her career path has certainly taken her in that direction. Ms Sotomayor does have a compelling story as a minority woman who worked her way up from the projects of New York and now is being considered for the highest court in the land. I think an even more compelling story is that of fishermen from Galilee who became disciples and were then selected for the highest court in heaven. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28 NIV)
May 27, 2009
Our community just played host to the Moving Wall, a memorial inscribed with the names of over 58,000 men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Among those who attended were school children who were bused to the site. Some of these young people hoped to find their grandpa or uncle on the Wall, but were unable to locate the name in the reference book because they didn’t know the middle name of their relative. Thankfully with our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, we don’t have to worry…Jesus knows where to find us.
May 26, 2009
More than a few of us have envisioned winning a lottery or coming into a large unexpected inheritance. It’s interesting how generous we can be with money we don’t have. Our imagination may take us to building a new church, setting up an endowment for our favorite charity, or giving scholarships for young people to attend Christian colleges - all noble causes. On second thought, God, “…is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25 NIV)
May 25, 2009
May 22, 2009
To me the phrase ‘for an audience of One’ implies that the only recognition and approval a presenter needs is from the Lord. While I like the sentiment, I’m not sure it’s accurate. We serve the Lord with our preaching, teaching and witnessing, but the audience is actually those who are willing to listen. I recently read an article that said, “If you, the speaker, want to make your presentation meaningful for your audience, you must convince them to make Yes! decisions to these four questions.” 1) Am I going to listen? 2) Am I going to benefit from what is said? 3) Will it be valuable enough to take with me? and 4) Am I going to act on what I hear? Regardless of the size of His audience, Jesus makes it easy for listeners to sort out what is needed and to take it with them
May 21, 2009
After separating Malchus from his ear, Peter was commanded by Jesus, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11 NIV) It’s clear that the cup Jesus had to drink was the crucifixion. Sometimes we compare carrying a burden to that of bearing a cross, but the truth is that none of us will bear the cross of crucifixion. We will however drink from the cup and interestingly it’s not an individual customized cup. Jesus said, “You will indeed drink from my cup…” (Matt 20:23 NIV)
May 20, 2009
As I’ve mentioned previously my congregation is buying a restaurant and we’re turning it into a church. The current décor is outdoor-rustic and there are lots of animals adorning the walls. Among the menagerie is a full sized mounted cougar, an antelope head and a wing-spread pheasant. While some of the folks sort of like the call-of –the-wild atmosphere, others aren’t so sure. I’m still forming an opinion, but I just can’t quite envision the buffalo head hanging overhead while we’re singing, “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord…”
May 19, 2009
We’re currently in the process of buying a restaurant which we will then turn into a church. It would be much simpler if there wasn’t a beautiful 45 foot bar wrapping itself around one edge of the soon-to-be worship area. As you can imagine, on one side we have those who want to keep the bar intact and on the other there are those who want it completely removed. One group is arguing for a serving area, welcome center and Starbucks watering hole. The other contends it takes up too much room and it’s designed for sitting not standing. I don’t think it’s a large leap to compare the restaurant bar with the worship places of other gods mentioned in the Old Testament. King Hezekiah, “…did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.” (2 Kings 18:1-4 NIV) A bar by any other name does not a welcome center make…
May 18, 2009
Sometimes we fall into the trap of referring to a church by a man’s name. There’s Rick Warren’s church, Joel Osteen’s church and at one time in my community, there was Lloyd’s church. Churches seem to be christened with men’s names depending on the popularity of the presiding pastor in the community. The name of my new congregation is Christ’s Church of the Valley. For me the name isn’t comfortable to say because it feels like a mouthful, but I also don’t like using CCOV because then I must explain to others what the acronym means...which just adds to the mouthful. The middle ground seems to be simply calling it Christ’s Church. Not only is there name recognition for Jesus, but I think there’s only a remote chance of a future Tom, Dick or Harry being elevated over the Name.
May 15, 2009
We have an interesting prospect for a permanent location for the church and there will be a congregational vote on the property next Sunday. The building, a former restaurant/lounge, is a bank foreclosure. As you can imagine, we’ll need to do a little remodeling and a lot of cleaning. What you may find hard to imagine however, is that it is a fully functioning facility. There are refrigerators, coffee pots, dishes and all the cooking utensils we’ll ever need. The sound system is a 32 channel mixer board with microphones and a mounted video projector and screen. Of course we all know Jesus said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Now I’m trying to figure out who would’ve thought to pray for all those matching salt and pepper shakers. (John 14:14 NIV)
May 14, 2009
Just because a portion of Scripture is speaking to a specific group doesn’t mean that it’s not applicable to the rest of us. Addressing Jews about their self-righteousness Paul said, “…if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” (Ro 2:19-20 NV) It’s interesting that being knowledgeable in the Word is what makes us susceptible to falling into the same trap. Individually we may not be presumptuous enough see ourselves as guides and lights. Too bad we can’t say the same for some of our denominations.
May 13, 2009
In evaluating a project that’s aimed at solving a social problem, a spokesman said, “Nobody’s drawn a line in the sand to say: This is where the victory line is. We certainly have more that we can do.” If there is one thing a believer learns early in his Christian walk it’s how to draw victory lines. When we invite an unbeliever to church and he comes, it’s a victory. If he someday makes a confession of faith, it’s a victory. When he gets baptized, it’s a victory. Whether it is a social problem or a spiritual problem, there are always victories to win and “We certainly have more that we can do.”
May 12, 2009
One criticism we hear in the church is that it’s usually a few people who seem to be doing the majority of the work. We try to infuse new blood in specific ministries, but there’s always that core group who are dependable and faithful in their areas of ministry. Sometimes these go-to folks get weary and understandably, they can even feel a little put upon. I just discovered why these guys with a servant heart are carrying a heaver burden than some of the rest of us. In the Parable of the Talents the master was displeased with the servant who buried his talent rather than at least putting it out for interest. The master ordered, “Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.” “For everyone who has will be given more…"(Matt 25:28 NIV)
May 11, 2009
The AP reported that the School of Church Music and Worship at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will no longer be a free-standing school. Citing the sluggish economy and waning popularity, the plan is to combine music and worship with the School of Leadership and Church Ministry, “which has taught future education ministers, youth leaders and other specialized ministries”. A spokesman said the trend of churches moving to guitars and praise courses has eroded the schools entrants over several years. I can understand the sluggish economy taking a toll on programs, but I cringe when I hear of Christian institutions bowing down to the idol of waning popularity.
May 08, 2009
My church is still looking for a permanent facility to call home and last Sunday we were told that one of the properties being considered will require some sweat equity. As we were leaving the worship service one of our young men who is in high school quipped, “You can have my sweat.” You’ve got to love the sacrificial attitude. I think we can say that Jesus too has sweat equity in all who believe in him. Going up to pray on the Mount of Olives he asked the Father if he were willing, to take the cup from him. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
May 07, 2009
I always feel strength and boldness anytime I can publically declare that I’m a Christian. It’s not hard to imagine that those in the early church would have felt a swell of pride in the boast, “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26 NIV) The footnote on this verse in the NIV Study Bible says, “Christians [the title]. Whether adopted by believers or invented by enemies as a term of reproach, is an apt title for those ‘belonging to Christ’. Well now…doesn’t that just poke a hole in the pride bubble?
May 06, 2009
I love joining in a Biblical conversation where everyone is able to converse knowledgably on the subject at hand. Obviously we don’t all feel comfortable in theological discussions, but most of us can discuss the basic Bible stories we’ve learned in Sunday School. I think however, that we often avoid these well known stories because they’ve been so beaten to death that we figure there’s not any new gems left for adults to discover. The other day the fortune in my fortune cookie read, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he only had good intentions.” Ah-Hah!
May 05, 2009
Even though Pilate found no basis for a charge against Jesus, the Jews continued to lobby, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (John 19:7 NIV) Although today we no longer live under the Old Testament law, some of our thought processes may be similar to that of the Jews. It’s no wonder the world is resistant to our message. Some of us have taken the New Testament and turned it into a New Law…and then we insist, ‘We have a law, and according to that law…’
May 04, 2009
In war one of the first orders of spin is to claim victory. Whether it’s John McCain claiming front runner status for the Republican nomination, Goliath heckling the Israelites, or progressive leadership claim to end the traditional church. Many of us today feel the doom and gloom of defeat primarily because others keep telling us that they are victorious. The media can tell us we’re loosing when it comes to abortion, same sex marriage and prayer in school. The truth is that the victory for Jesus is in us as believers, not in the battles we’re fighting.
May 01, 2009
I recently read an article on how to build your credibility if you want to establish a blog. One suggestion is to “Become a filter – the go-to person for your area of expertise. People love filters and when you’re a filter, you’re considered an expert.” It’s an interesting thought. Generally speaking the perceived filters in today’s church are the preachers and teachers. Not surprisingly most of us shy away from being the go-to person because, ‘when you’re a filter, you’re considered an expert’. Who would have thought the go-to fellows of the early church were simply fishermen and tax collectors.