Thursday, July 31, 2014

JULY 31 "CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG"

The Church is a very interesting institution or organism, if I can use that term. Especially if you are part of an Evangelical Church that reaches out into the community to win and bring in the lost. All the effort that goes in to outreaching, all the money, time & resources, to win the lost and bring them in to the Church. A lot of planning and strategy goes in to evangelism, but do we ever think, "what will we do with them once they are in the church, will we be able to keep them?" We have a plan to "reach out" but do we have a plan to "reach in".  Paul in our text is admonishing us to "accept those who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them...".  I know people who are weak in faith bother you, I know people who seem to struggle allot bother you, I know.....people in general, that are in the church bother you.  I know this person bothers this person, and that person bothers that person. Paul is writing to the Romans to instruct them to stop looking down at each other, stop condemning each other, don't cause a believe to stumble (especially those that we have just outreached to bring in, what is the sense in that???) Paul ends the chapter with "let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up".  Can you hear Paul adding at the end of that sentence a big...PLEASE, I BEG YOU! Can't we all just get along? I thank God, literally, that when I first came in to the church God put a spiritual blind fold over me that I was completely oblivious to all the problems and dissension in the church. I would not have made it, had I seen what I see today, I would have been thoroughly discouraged and left the church, probably never to return. I wish I could say, every situation is like this, but it is not.  Sometimes the church's dissension is even to grand for God to cover up. Sometimes the clicks, the factions, the dis-like for this person and that person, just bleeds out and we become a stumbling block to our brother, as Paul mentions. I believe that after we have been in a church a long time we become way to comfortable around each other. I have noticed that most couples will behave around other couples, but you will also notice that once that couple begins to become very comfortable around another couple they will start arguing and criticizing each other, right in front of you; something you would have never seen years before, it was done behind closed doors. This also happens in the church, after a while, we are all to comfortable around each other, and all diplomacy and grace, go out the door and so do our brothers and sisters, go out the door right behind them. The question today is, "can't we all just get a long?" and for many the answer is "no", but I hope for others the answer is "yes" at least I can make a decision that "I" will get along with my brothers and sisters and "I" will not be a stumbling block to others. It starts with "the one" and it can start with you. One by one, as we read God's word and get the revelation we can become the Christian, The Church Member God has called us to be. It is our job, "as the one" to make every effort to build a culture of acceptance and tolerance (not the acceptance & tolerance of the world either!) within our church and hope and pray, that it is contagious and spreads to the point where what is condemned and what is looked down upon, in our church, is criticizing, bashing and putting down others in our church, let that be what is condemned and judged, not weak faith, different personalities and opinions.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

JULY 30 "SO MUCH DRAMA"

 JULY 30 "SO MUCH DRAMA":      You ever notice how some people have so much DRAMA in their life?! Do you feel bad for them? Do you feel like maybe there's somethi...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

JULY 29 "DON'T BE TOO QUICK TO JUDGE"

The lesson we can all learn here, especially someone filling in as the newly appointed leader; is that we shouldn't be too quick to judge. Just because everyone doesn't jump right on your idea(s), doesn't mean they are rebels and evil people with no heart for God. Joash decides it's time to fix up and restore the temple. "Go to all the towns of Judah and collect the required annual offerings, so that we can repair the Temple of your God. Do not delay!".  Joash wants this done and he wants it done quick!. As we read in the story, the people do not respond quick at all, as a matter of a fact, the do not respond at all. Joash is not pleased with this lack of response and now he starts getting on Jehoiada's case. "Why hasn't this been done, what's going on, haven't you demanded that the Levites go out and collect the Temple taxes? Don't you know Moses instituted this tax for the maintenance of the Temple!".  Joash just starts going off on poor man. Jehoiada just calmly responds to Joash, that there is a reason. The reason is, "that in the past".......we can stop right there!  "In the past"....remember those words.  Often if we are facing resistance from people it may be from experiences they've had in the past. A new leader we would be wise to consult with others that have been around much longer than he or she, for some wisdom and insight on the matter, before going off and starting to judge and make false accusations. Jehoiada is that person for Joash. Jehoida tactfully explains to Joash, that what he doesn't know is that # 1.  People have willingly given towards the Temple Tax before, in the past and gave quite liberally. So the issue is not that they don't want to give.  # 2. Jehoida explains that in the past when they did give, those funds were misappropriated and now the people are very mistrusting. They don't trust leadership and they don't trust  that the resources they give will be used for what they are supposed to be used for, ie: repairing the Temple. In the past, of all things, their resources went towards, not the Temple, but towards the worship of Baal. With this new insight, Joash is able to respond properly.  Without this insight he would have really done allot of damage to his credibility as a Leader and would have turned the people off from him. Had Joash been quick to judge and not consult with someone who had been around much longer than he, this would have been a leadership debacle. Have you seen those in the past!!  Men and/or women that are quick with the trigger, blow up their ministries faster than the devil could; and much better too! As a leader are you proactive or reactive? Are you willing to "listen to reason?" Or...are you quick to judge and make heads roll! Joash has not gone off on the people, he consults with Jehoida, gets insight as to why they're not responding/giving and comes up with a solution. The result, "this pleased all the leaders and the people, and they gladly brought their money and filled the chest with it." Joash was right on the preface of becoming a tyrant in the eyes of the people or a great leader and it all hinged right here....when people did not jump and immediately obey at is command, would he be quick to judge and make heads roll or would he take a step back, get some counsel and insight into the matter, listen to reason and hear from others that have been around, much longer than he.  We know he choose the latter and he becomes a hero and great leader, but how many others don't choose the latter and it becomes their own downfall and what's even sadder, is half the time they never even realize, it was "they" that destroyed their own ministry, it was "they" who caused the people to have a great disrespect for them. It was they who blew themselves up. Years down the road they will still blame their failed ministry "on the people" until someone else goes in and has great success "with that same group of people" and then and only then, does it begin to sink in, "maybe it was me, maybe I should have sought the counsel of others that had been there longer than I, maybe I should have listened to reason.....maybe I was too quick to judge and react."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

JULY 27 "MY CHRISTIAN LIFE IS PRIVATE II "

 JULY 27 "MY CHRISTIAN LIFE IS PRIVATE II ":      I was looking over my blog stats and to my surprise one of the most read blogs this year was titled "My Christian Life is Private&...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

JULY 26 "DON'T BE STUPID"

 JULY 26  "DON'T BE STUPID":      I was quite encouraged to finally read about a King who is doing well and serving God. "Jehoshaphat, you are the man", I thou...

Friday, July 25, 2014

JULY 25 "WHAT'S WRONG WITH SWEET 'OL GRANNY?!"

What’s going on with Granny setting up obscene poles that Asa has to cut down and destroy. Question we should ask ourselves is….does becoming old make us naturally virtuous? Does becoming old make us honest, pure and decent people? Is it a staple for grandmother’s and grandfathers to be human beings that are pretty much angelic & sweet? Or are they simply human beings, like you and I; that have aged in their sin, not grown out of it. No doubt, I hope grandpa has grown out of smoking weed and grandma has grown out of dressing to seduce men, but that doesn’t mean that they have metamorphosed into some saint like character. Perhaps some of the surface sins have diminished, but the deeper sins are entrenched. Hatred and bitterness are as strong as ever. I have seen old, nice grandma’s pouring gasoline on the fire of bitterness that has kept the family divided for years, even right up until their death. I have seen old people, right before their death getting vengeance on their families through their Last Testament & Wills.  I have seen men, that once were handsome, winsome, perverted groping youth, making girls blush, but now that same spirit, in that same man, who doesn’t have the handsome, winsome personality to go with it, repels and disgusts the woman who have to work with this “old pervert” in the nursing home.  With all that Asa has to deal with, you’d figure the last person he would have to add to that list, is his own sweet grandma. We read about Gideon having to take care of some house cleaning in his day and who does God mention to him that he is going to have to deal with….his Father! Gideon’s father has also set up, ungodly shrines that God tells Gideon he’s going to have to bring down and destroy. This frightens Gideon and I’m sure this frightened Asa as well. I’m sure grandma was not one to be reckoned with. I’m sure there was going to be family backlash for both Asa & Gideon for “messing with the family”.  Gideon and Asa I’m sure were assaulted for their stance, the family would come against them saying things such as, “some things you just look the other way at, you’re going to disrespect your grandma, you’re going to disrespect your father like that! Is that what they teach you at your church, is that what you call a Christian? Doesn’t the bible say, to honor your father and mother! Is that what you call honoring your father and mother, making a humiliation of your grandmother, for God’s sake, boy, what’s wrong with you!”.
That would be when Asa, Gideon, or yourself, walk away wondering if you really heard from God. We’ve all been there; we’ve all had to do the hard things that brought us much reproach from our families. If it is not hard enough just trying to live for God, live clean and do right; often God also throws into the mix, dealing with family strongholds; and sometimes we feel like that’s more than we can handle. A lot of times it can be a family member with a lot of clout and influence in the family, other times it’s an ungodly, tradition that has been held in the family for years and now God has raised you up, to bring it down and we say, “I can’t, who am I, find somebody else, they will kill me, they will laugh me out of the family, kick me out of the family…etc…etc..”

And you know what; some of those statements are not so far off from the truth. Many Christians have been banished from their families for standing against grandma or grandpa, mom or dad. You may feel like you’re not “the one”, just like Gideon, “I am the least in my family” but you’re exactly the one God has called and sometimes we must do the hard thing, for the benefit of others and future generations to come.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

JULY 22 "WAS THE APOSTLE PAUL A LOUSY CHRISTIAN?"

You would think, that by reading Paul's writing today, that he was the worse Christian. The type of Christian you sure don't want in any kind of leadership position in your church. You wouldn't want Paul in any ministry where he is supposed to be an example to anybody else. "And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is , in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't.  Let's just stop right there! What do you mean you want to do what's right but you can't?! What is that Paul? You're an example here to all these converts you have won over. Paul goes on to write, "I want to do what is good, but I don't".  Paul, you're the one that has started all these churches, you're the one who wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and now you're sitting here saying, "you can't do good". Paul continues in his writing, "I don't' want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway".  Well, Paul, I don't know what you're going through, we will pray for you, but you definitely need to be removed from ministry, from leadership, maybe you need some time off, maybe you need a sabbatical, but you're not fit for ministry or leadership at this time. This scripture has been the license to sin for more Christians than we will ever be able to count. The mantra will go something like this, "well hey, if Paul said the bad things he didn't want to do he did and I sure am not Paul, so....". Was Paul a lousy Christian? Is Paul the consummate example for every Christian that just wants to give in to temptation and excuse it away as, "hey, I'm just weak like Paul". The question is, was Paul as weak as he humbly describes himself to be? Paul also wrote, "in my weakness I am made strong, through Christ who strengthens me". Paul wrote three quarters of the New Testament. Paul went successfully on 3 missionary journeys and pioneered most of Asia. If Paul never did "the things he wanted to do" then he would never have accomplished all that he did. As a matter of a fact, Paul also writes, that he has labored more than all the other disciples. I would say, for every Christian that wants to use Paul as an example to justify their fleshly indulgences, they should read the rest of his epistles. The truth is, and facts are, that Paul was the strongest Christian that ever lived. I believe the reason he was the strongest Christian that ever lived is because Paul thought he was so weak. Whether Paul was right or not, in his estimation of himself is irrelevant, the point is, Paul's humble stance drove him to his knees praying daily for strength, to do what he should and not give in to his fleshly desires. Paul's admittance of his weakness and "no good within me" is what ironically enabled him to overcome great odds and be the most productive Apostle that ever lived. So if you want to use Paul as your example of weakness, then follow Paul's other example by praying incessantly for God's Grace and Strength, to cause you to be an over-comer and begin quoting some of Paul's other writings, ie: "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me".

Monday, July 21, 2014

JULY 21 "CAN YOU GET GOD TO CHANGE HIS MIND!"

I'm always reminded when I read my Bible that "we are made in God's image". How often, I as the authority in my home have been persuaded by the children that I love so much to be persuaded against what I have said. I clearly laid down how things would be, it was set in stone (or maybe not) how things were going to be, what we were going to do or where we were going to go and how long we were going to stay, but yet, as I look back, somehow, these little kids were able to influence me, the great authority in the home, to do otherwise. How does a child, who knows really nothing about nothing, influence an adult who has been living & experiencing life for 40 years? It must be this thing called "love" that allows us to be influenced by a lesser "species" (if I can use that term). Take the example I have just given you and multiply it to the Nth Degree and you have some sort of resemblance of us, a much, much lower species, influencing the Almighty Omniscient God of The Universe. How can that be, how can that happen? The only answer I can come up with is another component of the Creator that was installed in his creation and that is, Love. Love compels us to be influenced by those that we love, this can be good and it can be very, very bad. History has recorded unbelievable and inspiring stories of those that were allowed to be changed and influenced, by Love. History has also recorded some of the most worse acts committed by people who were influenced to commit heinous acts, against their better judgement, by the one(s) they loved, only to find their lives ruined because of it. Solomon himself, testifies that this awesome God, creator of the universe had Himself said that "O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever".  Solomon is showing his ignorance here and displaying to us how gracious this God is that Solomon serves. Some of the plans I have allowed, that my children thought were glorious, but yet their understanding was so limited and the things I had to do behind the scenes so that my children's "great & glorious" plans wouldn't actually get us killed or completely mess us up. I never told them, I just worked behind the scenes and at the end they said, "dad, aren't you glad you listened to us and wasn't that a great idea".  My answer...."yes, yes, it was great".  Imagine Solomon telling God how glorious his Temple is! "Now I have built this glorious temple for you". In the eyes of Jehovah, that Temple looks, at best,  like a kids doll house, it's "a cute and modest structure". Obviously Solomon has had no visions of Heaven as John did.  Secondly Solomon exposes his ignorance by stating that it is a place
 " a Temple for you, a place you can live forever!".  In Solomon's eyes, this is the greatest thing on earth. And he's probably right, greatest thing "on earth", but to think that it's so great that God, the Omnipotent, Sovereign God can dwell there forever?! You can't help but laugh at this thought, and this is coming from the "Wisest Man that ever lived". Solomon testifies that God had said He would not dwell in any place, God had said that Israel would not have a King, but yet Solomon is quick to say, "ahhhhhh, but we do have a King now and you have chosen a place to dwell".  In this Solomon is right. Solomon is correct in testifying that this God of the universe,  has allowed, this species, this much lessor species, called Humans, to influence him to do and/or allow, what He said he would not. It's one thing that my children can do that with me, but to think that we, mere mortals, can do that with this Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omni-present God is quite something else. God's love for you allows you to have influence over Him, in a way most don't understand and probably never use to their advantage. We have access to the Throne of God, we can petition this God that loves us so much and He can be moved by our petitions and pleas. A God who will and can cover us in our botched and often, ridiculous plans and make sure we still land on our feet rather than on our head. And last our reading shows us, that even the best of us, have so much more to learn about the God that we serve. Solomon is the knowledgeable one to his people, but here we are, as 21st Century believers and we, who are not as wise as Solomon, can look at Solomon and say, "wow, Solomon, you had a lot to learn about God, I know more about God than you did". The opportunity we have as New Testament Christians, with the Bible, with the Holy Spirit is unprecedented, but yet do we realize it and do we take the opportunity we have to get to know, this Omniscient, Omnipotent God of the Universe? Do we take the time to petition Him for ourselves because of the knowledge we have,  of his great love for us? Will the next generation look at us and say, "we were ignorant, we knew nothing?" Will they look at us and say, "they had more knowledge, but that knowledge they had was in vain, they never used it to their advantage!"

Saturday, July 19, 2014

JULY 19 "IS YOUR WALK BLAMELESS?"

 JULY 19 "IS YOUR WALK BLAMELESS?":      I was just speaking with a brother (a Christian) the other day who has willful sin, but yet seems to continue in it. I wonder if God wo...

Friday, July 18, 2014

JULY 18 "KIND TO THE POOR"

: JULY 18 "KIND TO THE POOR":      In our reading today we are admonished by God to be "kind to the poor". I believe Christians today are confused on this wh...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

JULY 17 "IS GOD SENSITIVE TO THE SENSITIVITIES OF MAN?"

"They were assigned to their duties by means of sacred lots, without regard to age or rank. Lots were drawn the presence of King David". And just before that, we read "all tasks were assigned to the various groups by means of sacred lots so that no preference would be shown, for there were many qualified officials serving God in the Sanctuary". I wonder if we are doing a dis-service in our Sanctuaries today by doing the complete opposite of what David did. "I will pick and choose by preference, so you'd better ship up!" I'm sure is the mantra in many sanctuaries across North America. "If Pastor, the Worship Leader, the Assistant Pastor, The Children's Church Director, don't like you, you aint getting a chance at nothing!"  We would say, "surely there is more qualified people than this?"  And the answer would be, "yes there are, but these are the ones being shown preference!".  Our text reveals to us "there were many qualified" and to avoid hurt feelings, to be sensitive to other people, they made sure "lots were cast" so that everyone knew, that whomever ended up in service and/or Leadership, it could not be said that "favorites and politics" factored in to the decision making. In all, 24 ministry workers are selected and 24 leaders.  I am going to "assume" here that David is being guided by God, in the wisdom he is using here, in the casting of lots. You can say, "ah, that's garbage, I will pick who I want and if the others don't like it, let them leave".  However, even in the New Testament when they must pick an Apostle to replace Judas, they cast lots.  I'm sure Peter had a preference, we all do, but he did not let it factor in, Peter, in wisdom, in fairness, cast lots.  We cannot always beckon to the sensitivities of man, but when we can, we should. When we can extract our preference, for the sake of all and the better good of the Congregation or ministry, we should.  The good thing here is there are many qualified people and many qualified leaders. The good thing here is there is a great response to want to be involved. How different this is than many Churches today where few want to be involved in ministry and service in the Church.  Could it be that they have been turned off by constant preferences and politics in the picking and choosing of who is going to be involved in what and who is going to lead? I wonder.......If we will be honest, we all have favorites, just be honest with yourself. And while we are being honest with ourselves let us also admit, that it is hard, if left to us, not to let our bias factor in, when picking and choosing, whether that be at Church, at work, in sports,  or at home, this applies everywhere. Often the picking and choosing was not at all fair and everyone that was involved, knew it. Will this affect the morale of the whole, of course! Will this affect the outcome of this next "roll call" for help, of course!  Are you finding yourself with less and less volunteers and finding yourself working more and more with the same 2 or 3 and getting closer to them and drawing further away from the rest?  Can you look at that and say, "this is a good thing".  I would hope not. Take a step back and dare to ask yourself, have I been going about this the right way? Have I allowed my bias and preference to factor in to the decisions and choices I have been making? The wisdom of David in our text and the wisdom of Peter is that when choosing workers, helpers, leaders and you are finding yourself with more than enough qualified individuals, take a step back and figure out a way, that your bias and your preferences, will not factor in and you will find over time, that you are never lacking for volunteers and helpers for the work that is before you and/or under your leadership. "all tasks were assigned to the various groups by means of sacred lots so that no preference would be shown, for there were many qualified officials serving God in the Sanctuary"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

JULY 15 "ARE YOU A JEW?"

I remember sometime before either my sister or myself, came to know Christ, my sister had changed her Dog Tags (we were both in the Marine Corps) to read “Jewish” as her religion. I was dumbfounded by this. My Dog Tags had “Roman Catholic” in scripted on them. My sister was always eccentric, but this was odder than ever to me and to a family that grew up in the French Province of Quebec, we were Caucasian French Catholics, where did Jew fit in with that? And who would want to be a Jew anyway? In my eyes, Jews were strange people. I grew up around many Jews in Montreal. We had a whole Community in Outremont, of Orthodox Jews, with their side locks or side curls, black hats and long black trench coats. They seemed to be the most religious people in the City. Who would want to be religious, who would want to be a Jew? What was wrong with my sister? In our text today Paul makes this profound statement, “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God.”
The Religious Jews that I grew up with, who had all the Laws and outward appearances, but just as their predecessors; had not the Heart of the Law. God was not drawing my sister to be a “religious Jew”, like the Jews I grew up, God was drawing my sister to be “a true Jew” (if I can borrow that phrase from Paul) one that has a right heart with God.

It would not be much longer before my sister gave her life to Jesus. Neither my sister, nor I knew anything about being Born Again, about Salvation or “being saved”. All we knew was religion and sin. The Word of God teaches that “no man” comes to Jesus unless he/she is drawn by the Father. God surely was drawing my sister during this time. She may not have understood why she changed her Dog Tags to read “Jewish”, I certainly did not understand, but God did and Paul the Apostle would have fully understood what my sister was going through and doing. I asked my sister, why would you do that? Her answer to me, “because the Jews are God’s people, I’m not doing it for the religion, but because the Jews are God’s people”.  This still went over my head.  My thought was, “who cares who God’s people are and where did you get that anyway, the Bible? Who reads the Bible?” I thought.  Here I am years later, writing a blog, based on one, who “reads the Bible Daily”. Here I am years later, a true Jew, according to Paul. Are you one of God’s people? If your answer is “Yes” and I will show you by law I follow, by my sacraments and religious duties.  I am by my birthright, I am born a Jew, born a Catholic, I have done all the sacraments, Paul would say, “so what!”.  True circumcision comes not merely by obeying the letter of the law (which none of us can fully obey) but by a change of heart produced by the Spirit. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

JULY 14 "A PIVOTAL MOMENT IN CHURCH HISTORY"

 Mark this day in your bible, this is the establishment of “The Church” as we know it today. David has the best of intentions, but the best of intentions from the best of people does not always produce the best of results. We can begin to view certain people, especially of “the clergy” as people that can do no wrong and say no wrong. Nathan himself is caught up in this and is so quick to tell David, “do whatever you have in mind, for God is with you”, but Nathan is completely wrong.  The Temple is built, this we know, by David’s son and we are still recovering from the effects of this decision to put God in a building. In the middle ages, also known as the Dark Ages, the structure, the edifice, the building became man’s sole connection with God. It was a cold existence; man’s relationship with God became the structure, stained glass windows, cathedral ceilings, sacraments, and ceremony. All this was introduced to substitute the inner relationship man was intended to have with is God. Instead of God dwelling in our hearts, man tried to replicate a holy experience by walking into a building that would have a splendor and holiness of it’s own. It was made that when you walked into one of these Cathedrals and/or Temples, you felt like you were in a Holy Place, in God’s presence. The Saints on the walls, Angels painted in the glass, Holy music, stained glass windows set up so that when the sun shined in it mimicked God’s glory coming in and people allowed this to replace an inner relationship. The end result was when you left this glorious structure, temple or Cathedral was you left your relationship (which was no relationship) with God in that building.  Two thousand years later we are still struggling with this, trying to teach people that you don’t leave God and your relationship with him, in the building after Sunday Morning’s service, you take  God with you everywhere you go in everything you do. We still struggle to teach people, God can and does want to dwell in your heart, not in the building. As much as we preach it, as much as we teach it, it still remains a struggle to ingrain this in God’s people; God is not in the structure. And by and large, Christians know this in Theology, but they don’t live it. Christians still act/behave much more Christ Like in The Church than they do at work and at home with their families. And why would that be; unless, there’s still some kind of mental block there, that puts God in a building more so than at their home. Even in the days of The Great Temple of Solomon, God speaks through Jeremiah saying, “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” Building a Temple, a structure for God’s presence was not the best idea in the long run, but it served a purpose for the time. The Christians in the New Testament decided they could spin off of this idea of a building, a place to meet, to congregate as long as they taught the people that it was they that made up the Church, not the building. The idea of a building, a place to Congregate is still the best idea, with Pastors and Teachers in that building and a congregation in that building, waiting each Sunday to serve and minister to one another, but we must always fight and contend, to keep to the forefront of our minds and hearts, that God is as much with us Monday night, in the privacy of our home, as He was with us on Sunday, in our glorious Church building. We become the greatest of hypocrites and the biggest religious devils when we embrace this mindset that God’s presence and dwelling remains in the Temple, the building, the structure, the Cathedral. This mindset has done more damage to the cause of Christianity than anything else I can think of. I grew up in this environment. We were the worse sinners on our street, but when we walked into that beautiful Cathedral every Sunday, we became the most Pious and Holy people you knew. However once we left that building we reverted to being profane and immoral because God remained in the Cold Cathedral and never traveled outside of it. If you had asked us if in our Theology we believed that, we would have said “No, God is everywhere” but it was hard to live otherwise, it was hard to believe as beautiful and holy as that Cathedral was, that God’s presence was not there and as ugly and sinful as our home was, that God obviously was not there. Today, we read a pivotal, monumental turning point in the history of The Church as we know it and the question to ask is, “have we ever truly recovered?”

Friday, July 11, 2014

JULY 11 "OUR MOVEMENT IS DENOUNCED EVERYWHERE?"

“The only thing we've heard about this movement is………”  Are you ready for the answer? Obviously the answer is going to be, “it’s the best thing that has ever happened! People are healed, lives are restored, demoniacs are set free, the poor are being fed and taken care of…”  Unfortunately, to our surprise, or maybe not to our surprise, we read, “…only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere”.  That’s impossible. How could something so good be “denounced everywhere”. How could something that leaves a trail behind, of such good, not be embraced enthusiastically by every community? This is a movement that carries around it, all the evidence of a remarkable and benevolent ministry.  Paul is bit by a poisonous snake on the island and suffers no sickness. Paul prays for Publius’s father who has dysentery and he is healed. Paul prays for many others on the island and they are healed too. Paul is speaking before this crowd, as a prisoner with his own private lodging and guard. The evidence is everywhere of God’s power and God’s favor on this ministry and those that are part of it, but yet these people look at this movement as one to be denounced. Nearly 2000 years later we can say, “not much has changed”. It is still a movement that is “denounced”. If you are the Born Again Christian at the Family gatherings, you will still be the one to be denounced, there will still be rumors floating around that you have joined some cult and people will look at you with pity. Never mind your life is blessed, never mind your marriage is thriving while others, in your family, are falling apart and/or are divorced. Never mind your daughter is still a virgin and waiting for her husband; while her cousins are pregnant and hooked on drugs. Somehow, someway they are not going to see any of that and they are going to look at your life and the movement you are entangled in as one that is denounced and “should be” denounced by anyone who is in their right secular mind. Do you find yourself desperately trying to sway public opinion that your cause is a good cause? And if you are, ask yourself, is it for yourself you are doing this or for Christ? And you will find the answer to be, “it is for yourself”.  We so desperately want others to know that we are not losers that have fallen in to some cult, some “non hacker club”. We so desperately want to be “saved” “Born Again” and yet still have respect from co-workers, relatives and siblings. The Christian who is going to have peace and joy is the man or woman who quickly learns and accepts that he or she will never be on the respected and approved side of public opinion. Jesus himself said, “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you”. When they day comes that you are a Christian and you have the love and approval of the world too, something is amiss in your Christianity. Not to say that all should hate you. As a matter a fact, as a Christian you should have favor with man, to a certain degree, favor given by God. However, that being said, our movement is still one that goes against the grain of society, it is a movement that fights the spirit of Anti-Christ. And when we as Christians are determined to make Christianity the flavor of the day and as accepted in every household as Oprah Winfrey, then we are either heading to much frustration or down a slippery slope of Christian compromise. Our movement may be one that is being denounced everywhere, but the paradox or irony is, that it is also a movement that is saving millions everywhere too! “For it is foolishness to them that are perishing but the power of God unto salvation to them that believe.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

JULY 9 "THE TRAGEDY AND STUPIDITY OF OUR LIVES IS PENNED"

You were probably were skipping through the lineage in today's reading and probably missed what was penned about two of Ephraim's sons. Ezer and Elead, "these two were killed trying to steal livestock from the local farmers". If we continue to read out, this incident is described as a "tragedy". Ephraim mourned a long time for his boys, it was a senseless death. No doubt, Ephraim did not need his boys to steal cattle for him. It was a senseless act, a daring act, a stupid act, that cost these boys their lives. Their stupidity and this tragedy is penned in God's eternal Word. In recent months, we have had a number of senseless and stupid deaths in our city, mostly by young teens and twenty year olds. Maybe our prayer for our families should be "Lord, don't let their be stupid and senseless deaths in our family". The prayer that would have to follow that would be, "Lord, let the communication lines flourish in my home among our family".  I recently had an acquaintance make a very stupid decision. I find it hard to believe that had he discussed his decision with a friend he could not have been talked into waiting a few more months.Maybe we don't want to know, maybe we don't want the confrontation, let them make their own decisions and learn for themselves. Well, it's not always the case that you told someone to wear a hat; they didn't and they get a cold, "good for you, hope you learned your lesson". In our text, the lives of two boys are loss. In our city the lives of many are loss. In the lives of friends and acquaintances around our sphere of influence, lives are being destroyed. "Hands off approach" is not always best. "Letting people make their own decisions" is not always best. "Let them learn themselves" is not always the answer. The tragedy and stupidity of our lives too, are being penned for eternity. Why? Because it's tragic, as our text writes! It's tragic that there was no conversation, it's tragic that something so senseless and stupid could not have been prevented. In your sphere of influence, be a payer covering to those who cross your path, be a voice, be as one that shouts out, confronts and does his/her best to be the road block towards stupid and senseless deaths and tragedies. We must all be able to stand at the foot of every coffin (figuratively and literally) of stupidity and senseless tragedy and say, "I did everything within my power and ability, to stop this".

Monday, July 7, 2014

JULY 7 "BLESS ME LORD!"

 JULY 7 "BLESS ME LORD!":      THERE is allot of stats about sons and tribes that might just cause you to doze off in our text today, but you can miss a great nugget ...

JULY 6 "I ADMIT....I'M ONE OF THEM"

JULY 6 "I ADMIT....I'M ONE OF THEM":      Paul's main problem is not that he believes in God, most people do.  Paul's main problem is that he is attached to a certain gr...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

JULY 2 "QUIT THE MINISTRY!"

 The reality of Ministry is…the very people you are in ministry to reach and help are the very people that will want to make you quit the ministry, if you let them. We always have to remember that we are not in “the ministry” to help the people (that’s a by-product) we are in the ministry to serve God. If we are in the ministry out of some noble quest to “serve the people”, once the people start stepping all over you and spreading rumors about you, you will say, “well, if that’s how they are going to treat me, if they don’t appreciate what I’m doing for them; then forget this, I quit!” However if we are in the ministry to serve Christ, who is always grateful and appreciative of our efforts and service, then we will not quit even when the people we are trying to feed, bite us! As they saying goes, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, well people don’t seem to abide by that a whole lot”. The Elders in Jerusalem explain to Paul that the Jews are spreading lies and rumors about him. Paul has given his life for this cause only to come back to Jerusalem and find out there’s people, his own people, talking negatively about him. That would be enough to make me want to quit! Another reality of ministry is leadership, headship and orders to be taken. We could understand this at our secular places of employment but when we get saved and decide to get involved in ministry in the local congregation we have a na├»ve and unrealistic expectation of how it’s going to be. We falsely think, nobody is going to “boss”, it’s all just going to be fun, pleasant, everybody agreeing, laughing, singing Kumbaya in a circle, we’re all equals here now, ……, but in our story this is not the case and in all reality, it’s never the case. Paul, as mighty a disciple as he is has come into a circle of other disciples that have more authority than he.  And they are not shy to tell Paul, “this is what we WANT you to do”. Many in the ministry today would not have liked that. They would have said, “Peter, I don’t like your tone and you telling me what to do, we are all brothers in Christ here. I would have preferred if you had asked me “how I felt and if I would want, to go to the temple with these men, but I don’t like you thinking you are all in charge here and telling me what I need to do!”  We don’t hear any of that coming from Paul. Peter and the elders say, “this is what we want you to do” and Paul does it. And if you read the rest of the story, it turns out horrible! This for sure, would have been the end all of any other Christian’s involvement in any kind of ministry with these “Elders” and the Church in Jerusalem. Paul does what he is told to do, by their advice and nearly gets killed doing it. In spite of that, Paul remains in the ministry and remains in the ministry with these men, who told him what to do and caused him great physical harm. Paul, through out the rest of his life is never diverted from “the ministry”. Nothing is ever able to persuade Paul away or convince him from quitting the ministry and for all those out there, who have quit the ministry; no doubt because of a ministry leader, a person in that ministry, or even a Pastor….you have to ask yourself  “was I right in quitting and who was I serving in that ministry, the people or Jesus?” Ask yourself, “who called me into that ministry, the leader or was it Jesus?”  And last and most important, “who” did I really quit on, them or Jesus?”  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

JULY 1 "ISRAEL HAS FALLEN"

I'm not one to rip apart my clothes in despair, but I have been there it's a bad place to be. The King of Assyria is definitely personifying the voice of Satan in our story. "Don't let King Hezekiah deceive you into thinking your God will deliver you from us, look what we have done to other nations". You have to remember this whole scene started with Hezekiah trying to bribe the King of Assyria into not marching out against them. Not exactly a sign of strength. Perhaps it was Joash who started this pathetic display of unbelief by trying to bribe his way out of battle. Either Israel has fallen and sunk quite low from her former stature of Faith, Power and Dominion. Now she is weak, cowardly and begging the enemy not to hurt her. The thought of fighting and winning is a bye-gone era. Now she will compromise, bribe, anything because she knows even herself how pathetic she has become. Does this remind you of some Christians you once knew? How the mighty have fallen! Unfortunately mighty today does not mean mighty tomorrow and certainly doesn't mean mighty next year. The good  news is no matter how low, how weak, how pathetic we become, the moment we get desperate enough, humble ourselves and cry out to God. Repent and ask for His help, He will help. Hezekiah gets so bad, so deep in despair that he cries out to God. God has been waiting for this and brings a great, merciful victory for a man, a nation that didn't deserve it and He will do the same for us!