March 28th, 2015
I am thinking today of how our world has changed. I remember sayings from the past. “A man’s home is his castle.” “Home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” I grew up in a world where home was relationships, refuge, comfort, protection; home was sacred, desirable, warm and cozy.
For many today, home is last place we want to be. We do not know how to enjoy family time. We do not appreciate the safety and tranquility of spending time with family. A few years ago, high gasoline prices cut into the holiday plans of a large number of families. An interview that was included in the evening news caught my attention. The woman who was interviewed reflected on the inability of her family to travel: “I feel like a prisoner in my own home.” When the adults do not like spending time in their homes, perhaps we can catch a glimpse of what’s wrong with our kids and with our society!
In our contemporary society, we are finding our joy in the wrong places, thinking that joy comes from the things and experiences on the outside when joy really comes from who we are on the inside. Our families remind us of who we are, and help us become what God intends us to be.
March 28th, 2015
“Most men … can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it obligates them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught others, and which they have woven thread by thread into the fabric of their lives.” –Tolstoy
“Dear God, please give me a pliable heart open always to your truth, regardless of how wrong it shows me to have been, of how much I am forced to admit I was wrong, and of how much change is required in my life as a result. Mold me and make me after your will.”
March 22nd, 2015
The saving work of God in the world today is exerted through the church. Nowhere does the New Testament describe a saving work of God outside the church.
Do not say, God has not called the church to greatness. It’s not enough to be great when God has made it possible for the church to do incredible things by his power. But God’s incredible work must always be focused in the church. Do good things in the name of Jesus, but remember that Jesus condemned some who did good things. If you would imitate and obey the Lord, don’t neglect the importance of building up the local church. Value doing God’s eternal will above all. Kingdom people want to reflect the compassion of the King, but Jesus did not give his life to meet physical needs. Jesus gave his life to purchase the church, to purify the church, to empower the church. That is the big picture of our salvation.
This should cause us to rethink the how and why of much of what we do. Simple but significant. Do not make it harder than it is. It is time for innovative analysis and thinking about what we do, how and why. In a conversation at the workshop, a brother lamented the tremendous fallout rate of new Christians. Assimilation is not possible unless there is a local church into which people are baptized. Healthy churches can assimilate; unhealthy ones seldom will. Spiritual leaders are a part of God’s shepherding plan. We are trying to do God’s work without one of the primary tools—a healthy, vibrant local body.
Here is what keeps me going in strengthening churches, encouraging spiritual growth, developing leaders and teachers. Every day is a special gift of God—going to bed with a dream and waking up with a purpose. God’s purpose is nowhere seen more clearly than in the church.
March 14th, 2015
Interesting conversation–a friend and I were talking about our experiences in visiting other locations on mission trips. His comment, “They live as though Jesus really is their King!” Wow!
What does it mean to live the Christian life? Surely it is more than worship attendance, or more than worship plus some prayer and regular Bible reading. In our U.S. culture, we little understand the concept of kingship or royalty, but I think few kings would be satisfied with subjects who merely read the edicts of the king, told the king what they needed or wanted, and attended all of the state functions.
How does an authentic Christian live out the lordship of Jesus daily? What does it mean to us when we read “we are not our own, we are bought with a price,” or that “we are slaves to righteousness”? What is the focus of our lives? What do we think about more than anything else?
I do not pretend to answer for you. I only say that I am humbly called to evaluate more closely my own life and to consider what it means to live as though Jesus is Lord!
March 8th, 2015
My blogging friends know that the posting date/time stamp may not be the actual time of writing! I confess–I am writing this on Saturday, but setting it to post on Sunday morning.
The spring time change! Spring forward! I call it the “bad” time change!
It is the “bad” time change because people refuse to get ready for what they know is coming. When our boys were growing up, Jan and I set the clocks forward early so that the time change occurred in our house on on Friday evening and Saturday morning. The boys got up on Saturday morning with the time change already done. Saturday was a shorter day (but not noticeably shorter). Despite all that has been written about how the time change is challenging because of body rhythms, our boys never seemed to notice. Sunday dawned fresh and new–with our family ready to worship God. This procedure may or may not work for you and your family, but I can tell you what won’t work.
What won’t work is to spend Saturday as normal, even stay up a little later than normal, and suddenly at bedtime remember that the clock has to go forward an hour. While some things are not easy to prepare for, I can guarantee you that total lack of preparation is almost certain to fail.
It is the “bad” time change because the church has forgotten that it has the responsibility of telling people what time it is. During our ministry at one church, the typical Sunday morning schedule was reversed–worship first, Bible classes second. [Not the subject of this writing, but if you’ve never experienced the freshness of fellowship and worship assemblies before Bible classes, you have no idea how it feels, what it does for the heart, how much calmer the kids are…..the list of positive observations is long!] With the worship assembly first, it was easier to manage scheduling. On several occasions during the year, the church shared worship without Bible classes following. We didn’t have Bible classes when we had guest speakers who were likely to preach longer than normal. We didn’t have Bible classes when we shared “special focus” worship times, for example, focusing on missions. And, we didn’t have Bible classes on the “bad” time change.
The instructions to the church members were to “come on the old time” and “leave on the new time”. We worshiped on the old schedule, and at the end of worship, set our clocks forward together. I usually preached on something related to “time.” Is it not the job of the church to let people know what time it is? In a previous time when churches had bells, wasn’t the reason to remind people of the time? Perhaps the church needs to rethink its responsibility to constantly tell people what time it is!
January 12th, 2015
The words from Mark Bergin caught my attention: “And so we open the Scriptures and say our prayers, not in an effort to be with him, but because he is already with us.”
What a wonderful truth, shining light clearly on a common misunderstanding of the Christian life. Bible reading and prayer is not a part of a daily checklist to be pleasing to God. For the Christian, communication with God is not courtship and seeking relationship. It is the faithful action of the bride of the Lamb seeking ever-deepening relationship and understanding, ever growing love.
January 4th, 2015
First Sunday of the New Year, what to say, how to begin. Thoughts from the book of James. Seeing clearly in a world of shadows. An unchanging God in an undependable, ever-changing world–waves, burning sun, temptations, shadows. Ours is a world of trials and challenges. Sin easily overcomes. Only a singular focus on God will guide the journey.
- Seeing God clearly helps us see ourselves and others clearly.
- The faith that sees God clearly acts in response.
- When one sees God, God’s wisdom shapes faith and life.
- Seeking God requires establishing priorities.