Today we live in a very polarized world. You are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, pro-abortion or anti-abortion, pro-same sex marriage or anti-same sex marriage, for “a pathway to amnesty for undocumented workers” or pro-secure borders and “get in line with the others”.
We choose our news source by our position on the issues and they spoon feed us what we are to believe about every issue and why that is the only reasonable stance.
But one of the things that confounded His followers was that Jesus seemed to always be touting a third option – a higher perspective of the issue. Continue reading
One day a broken hearted woman went to church to pray. Unfortunately she chose a church where the priest was out of touch with God. Since fervent and intense prayer was not something he was accustomed to when he saw her passionately imploring the Lord to answer her prayers, he assumed she must be drunk and rebuked her for coming to church like that.
Jesus said what we fill our heart with is what will inevitably come out our mouth. Because this priest’s heart was cold toward God his default setting was judgment, not mercy. He immediately assumed the worst rather than defaulting to the best. But love “always looks for the best”. (1 Corinthians 13:7 MSG)
What we fill our heart with colors how we see others and how we see the world. If we think the world is against us, that no one likes us, that people are judging us we react in ways that cause that to happen. If we are always attune to the negative, always quick with criticism, always assuming the worst we make it harder for people to approach us, to love us. Continue reading
Occasionally I hear people talking about the evils of Mega-churches – as if a church automatically becomes impersonal or ineffective because it is large. Often these folks say their smaller church is like the church in the New Testament. Really?
The church in the NT was a small church – just about 120 people – before the Holy Spirit came. Once that happened the church immediately grew to 3000 and kept growing daily. I guess that is when they would have left, started a new church across town, and called it “The Newer New Testament Church”. Does size really tell you if the people who attend there are being equipped for ministry and growing more in their love for Jesus, being more conformed to His image?
There are ineffective, unfriendly, unhealthy mega-churches that compromise the gospel so they can grow. Though I have never been to one like that they must exist because I hear people talk about them all the time. But from personal experience I can tell you there are also ineffective, unhealthy small churches that compromise the gospel. Size does not determine effectiveness or health. Continue reading
There are a lot of weird names on the internet. Does only a yahoo use Yahoo? What the heck is a Mopho.to? Perhaps most amazing of all is how a company named Google not only survived, but even added a verb to the world-wide vocabulary – “Google it.”
Imagine creating a business so huge it becomes a new international word. That is amazing! When I mentioned that, someone responded, “They’re pretty successful”. “Hmmmm”, I wondered, “Are they successful or merely amazing?”
Do the founders have spouses and children that love and admire them? Do they have time in their lives to enjoy the journey, to drink in the beauty around them? Do they have life-long friends that trust them and would go to bat for them? Are their hearts at peace with God and man? If they died today what would people say characterized their life? Would the talk just be about a business they built or about people they impacted? Do they have a “good name” or did they sacrifice integrity on the altar of achievement?
I have no idea about the people behind Google (and don’t care so spare me any insights). The point is it is easy to think a big name, a big business, recognition by the masses or a huge bank account means we are successful. It’s easy to daily flush our lives away chasing things that ultimately prove to be hollow.
I don’t want to be like the guy who fought all his life to climb the ladder of success only to discover when he reached the top that he had placed the ladder against the wrong wall. Let me encourage you to evaluate where your life is headed. Are you doing things that add up to a successful life? Don’t be a yahoo! And if you aren’t sure what that means… Google it!
1 Corinthians 3:13-14
But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.
Have you ever done something out of good intentions only to have it misunderstood, to have your actions misjudged, to be accused of doing wrong? Most people think the worst. It happens all the time and it is not a new phenomenon. Continue reading
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Put yourself in Peter’s place. Jesus tells you that Satan has asked to “sift you” – translation, “beat the snot out of you”. That is worse than hearing the school bully is waiting for you in the parking lot. But surely God said “no” to Satan’s request, right? Wrong.
Jesus tells you He has prayed for you. Whew! That’s a relief. Jesus prayed so now the bully won’t be able to touch you or maybe you’ll even beat him up, right? Wrong again.
The story of Rahab the “harlot” in Joshua 2 is an interesting one that raises questions about honesty, lying and God’s perspective on this. Surely Rahab was doing right by protecting the spies thus aligning herself with God’s plan and God’s people. But she blatantly lied to do so. How is that commendable?
In our “safe” world it is difficult to understand such challenges, the same ones faced by those who hid Jews from the Nazis. I really don’t have a full understanding of it but I do see a beautiful truth in this story. Continue reading
1 Corinthians 3:3
You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
Juan Carlos Ortiz pastored the fastest growing church in Argentina during a time of great church growth in that nation. His church was bursting at the seams but he tells how in a time of prayer he sensed the Lord telling him his church was not growing. Puzzled by this he tried to tell the Lord how many new people they were baptizing each week and how many more were coming today than a month ago.
He then sensed the Lord say, “Your church is not growing. It is just getting fat.” As he thought about this he realized he was just building a huge spiritual nursery full of infants, not growing Christians. The attendance was getting larger but the church, God’s people, were not growing. Continue reading
2 Peter 1:5
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
Had we written this we probably would have said, “add to your faith knowledge” because in Western culture and the church we value amassing knowledge about God. Our services are built around an instruction time. We have Bible STUDIES, Sunday SCHOOLS and even Bible COLLEGES. We tend to believe knowledge is the answer – knowledge about goodness will lead to goodness. A person who is not good simply needs more instruction. Continue reading
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
“Whatsoever you do.” What sort of things would be included in that “whatsoever”? In the previous five verses Paul references four areas of our lives where we are to work “heartily as to the Lord and not unto men” – in our role as a wife or husband (vs 18,19), children and parents (vs 20, 21) and in our role as employees (vs 22).
How would my marriage be different if “whatsoever I did” I did for the Lord and not for my spouse? Would I respond differently if I were doing it for the Lord, not for my wife or not just to keep peace? Would I be more loving, understanding, go the extra mile, if I were doing it “heartily” – with all my heart? Continue reading