Sunday, December 25, 2011

Advent past and Advent future

At the first Advent the message of the angels to the shepherds was;
Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  12And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:9b - 12 New Living Translation)

And Jesus spoke these word to the eleven and to us as we await the second advent;
 18Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 
19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  20Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Matthew 28:18 - 20 (NLT)  & Acts 1:8 (NLT)

Let us do these things until He comes!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I find myself struggling to see the forest for the trees!  I am wondering (without much wandering) why people say they want to body to grow but do not do much to bring that growth about.  To me that is like saying I want a child and then not spending time with you spouse or doing the paper work (and funding) to adopt! 

I see the church being willing to reach out to Samaria and the ends of the earth; at least funding the out reach to these places. Judea again if I can pay some one to do it OK!  Now Jerusalem, where we should be doing the out reach on a daily basis and helping our fellow missionaries reach folks well does God really want me to do that?  Yes, Virginia God does and God may desire that you go instead of another who is aware of the need but for whatever reason is not equipped to meet that need or maybe you (or another) are the ones God desires to meet the need!  I think the idea of a team approach to most out reach is a wise idea!  I also think that at times a person who is outside the team may see a need that the outreach team can meet.  Also  a team member may see the need and not be the one to meet the need for many reasons; none of which has to do with giftedness of said team member.  I see the need for a team as many fold; the first is then it is the church doing the outreach not one individual.  I am not sure how to put this into words; but here I go in an attempt to try; there is  person or family with the need.  This person/family has no relationship to the church except the one member of the church who is aware of the need.  If the person/family with the need receives ministry from the person (church member)who is aware of their need ; what is the person/family with the need going to think?  I know what I would think ---  thank you "john" for meeting my need; I am happy YOU CARED ENOUGH to help in my time of need!  Now, had some other(s) of the church gone to the person/family (especially if a number does so/had done so) would that not reflect more on the church caring than just the one person who is aware of the need --- even if both said that it was a church base ministry? 

The need I speak of was a death in a family that is not part of the church except that a child in the family comes to the children's ministry programing.  I think that we lost an opportunity because some felt that the person who was already connected to the family through bring the child who is a nieghbor to the person's grandchild should have just taken care of the need.  While I am sure that the person could have done so; we the body of Christ had an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to a family in stress and grief and that just might have brought a person/family into the kingdom; forget they may have come into the church and enriched it as well!!  [rant off]

Friday, December 16, 2011

Have an Attitude 2

I wonder what would happen if the organized church had this attitude;
You’re welcome just as you are.
Your thoughts are welcome. Your doubts are welcome.
We’re all in this together.
The first one I think most churches (i.e. mainline churches) feel they have this attitude.  I am not quite sure that this is true.  Yes, we are willing for new people to come and be part of the gathering; we may even be willing for them to join but at some point they need to look like the rest of the ducks!  We want the wood ducks to become mallard ducks; those new comers need to assimilate and look like us, talk like us and especially worship just like us!!

I happen to be part of a denomination of which some one said "You can worship Buddha; as long as you say 'Jesus is Lord'!"  Well that may be true in some of our churches but I  can tell you it is not true in all of them.  If you want a good church fight just bring up the idea that a persons baptism is not an issue.  To join the church of which I am a member you are to be immersed (I think that the constitution reads that it has to be a baptist baptism but we ignore the baptist part as long as you have been held under the water.)  We especially have an issue if you doubt certain teachings of the baptist doctrine!

I do think that the idea of we are all in this together is done well; we are willing to do ministry with the other churches in the community; the building is used for a weekly community dinner.

Now for the last part of this statement "God is here, ready to connect with you in a fresh way."  All God's people would say "YES!  AMEN!" to the part up to the comma; God is here!  "Connect in a FRESH WAY!?!" "Wait a second here buddy!!"  Fresh way means we may have to do things we are not comfortable with!  I might have to do something that I am not comfortable doing!!

I do think this is the attitude we need for the mainline churches, our churches, to grow.  I think that the body of Christ need to move out of their comfort zone and do ministry in this attitude.  The minimum we must do is support ministries within and without the four walls of the church that have this attitude!  Here it is in it fullness

You’re welcome just as you are.
Your thoughts are welcome. Your doubts are welcome.
We’re all in this together.
God is here, ready to connect with you in a fresh way.

This is a sign inside Lifetree Cafes or Lifetree's site

Friday, December 9, 2011

Forgetting and straining

Philippians 3:13b (NCV)  Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead,  

As I was looking for something else the other day this verse came up on my search.  Forgetting the past; has a lot of things in it for us.  There are the failures of the past.  We need to remember the lessons learned from past failures yet we need to forget the disappointment of the failures that  hold us back from doing what God calls us to do.  We need to forget the hurts, the put downs, the people's comments and the differences of opinion that will hold us back from the calling God has for us.  There are a number of thing that will hold us back; keep us from our full calling that we need to put behind us as we learn to live a missional life.  That is what Paul is speaking to here; those things that make us wonder if we are GOOD ENOUGH for God to use.  Paul says forget the past and look ahead.  Think about Paul's life before he came to Jesus!  He had been killing the Church; the Followers of Christ!  I am sure that there were those, at least during his early ministry year, who remembered Saul/Paul and just could not forgive him for his past.  I am also sure that Satan reminded Paul daily (if not more) of what here had done!  We all have those nagging thoughts!  For Paul I bet that at least one of Satan's attacks was "Why would they want to listen and believe a guy who killed Christians?"  Or, "They can't trust you!  You killed (had killed) people like them!"  Also Satan could use Paul's past against those he was ministering to with things like "Can you trust him?  He might just be claiming this to get in to you movement so he can arrest you too!"  We, like Paul, need to forget our past and look ahead.

Speaking of looking ahead that is what Paul said he was doing "straining toward what is ahead".  In fact Paul was doing a bit more than looking ahead; he "straining toward" it.  To me that is a head down going no matter what attitude!  Paul is going for that which he desires to reach " the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above."  Paul had a goal "the life above".  I also think he had a goal of reaching people for the cause of Christ!  We too need to have both goals; "the life above" and reaching as many people with the Hope and Love of Jesus as we can before we die!  Look at Paul; he did not let getting locked up stop him.  In fact I think he looked at the guards as a captive audience!  Think about it Paul at one point in his ministry had a new person to witness to chained to him every four or so hours and where could that guard go?  I hope that Jesus does not have to give any of us that kind of audience for us to reach people for Christ!  We need to be about reaching people 24/7/385!

Join me in the rest of 2011 and in 2012 to be people reachers for Jesus!!  Forgetting out failures to do so in the past; forgetting the stuff that would keep us for being people reachers and straining toward the prize of seeing people come to know Jesus and seeing them join us in living for Jesus for the rest our our eternal life!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We have a HOPE!!

1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 18 (New Living Translation) 13And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.  14For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 15We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.  16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.  17Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.  18So encourage each other with these words. 

The above passage is one that I have used for years as I did funerals; especially for believers funerals.  I see it as a comfort for the family, both blood and Spirit.  I would comment about the fact that Paul does not tell us not to grieve but that we are to grieve as a people of hope.  That hope is the knowledge that we will see the loved one when we see Jesus face to Face.

When I returned from a vision committee meeting Sunday I began to think on the vision statement we had arrived on; "Bringing the HOPE and LOVE OF JESUS to [insert city's name here] and the world.  This passage and how I and many pastors use it struck me.  If we have a hope that changes how we grieve, should not that same hope change how we live? 

I see the "sermon" starting with the passage as usual but then putting a missional twist on the passage, which I have only done at one funeral (and only backhandedly at that).  That twist would be if we have a hope which changes our grieving and we believe in that hope of Jesus then should we not be sharing that hope with others.  Meaning, are we not obligated by that hope to tell people that Jesus want to have a relationship with them?  Should we not tell them that Jesus want to know them and lead them so that at some point with when the person dies and go to heaven or when we meet Jesus in the air; that person will  also get to meet Jesus as well? 

It has been funny (not in the Ha ha concept) that in the last couple of weeks I have been able to get a word in about knowing where I will go.  On both occasions a person said something about my going to Hell.  I responded with "No thanks, I have reservation for the other place!"  Both people just looked at me and laughed but knew what I meant.

We have a hope!  Why not share it with the hopeless?!?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Can't We Just Get Along?

Ephesians 4:31 - 5: 2  (TMSG) 31Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.  32Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.  1Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  2Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language Copyright © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

When I read this part of the passage "Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you"
as part of a devotional from the Church at which I am a member; I asked myself (and I may have said it out loud) "Is this possible?  To forgive in this way.  All the time?"  The Wednesday November 16th, I ask the men's group as we looked at the devotions  of the November 6th through 13th; those same questions.  I said that I felt it was nearly impossible!  While yes Philippians 4:13 does make it clear I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH  CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME; I also know that most of us are not living that verse out daily like we ought!

Having looked at the verse before the one I reacted to does help me a bit.  If we were to follow the words in verse 31; others would need to do a whole lot less forgiving like God forgave us!! If the rest of the church would also engage in the Don't and Nevers; we need to do less forgiving like God forgive us!

What would my church or your church look like if we Simply followed verse 31 & 31 above?  Paul is asking a lot there but then Paul goes and tells us "We should watch God and then DO what GOD DOES!!  Other versions say to imitate God like children.  As a father I know the good and the bad of a child's imitating my behavior; and we will not go there today!!  We have all had the experience of one of the teachers at the school where my mother was a paraeducator.  The teacher  chose to speak to the parent of a child who could color his sentences with words that an elementary age child should not know let allow speak.  When it was point out that Johnny could make a sailor blush; the parent was reported to have colored their remark equally as well!  Unlike this parent; God shows us how to speak, to make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk;  to be gentle with one another, sensitive and to forgive one another quickly and thoroughly!  God is the prefect parent and shows us the way to perfection as His children!  I echo Paul's statement in Philippians 3:12

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (New Living Translation)
Here is the challenge.  Look at God's behavior toward you in Christ and then behave that way toward those around you!  I will guarantee that we will bless a lot of people we meet!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do you want to know God's Will?

1 Thessalonians 5:16 - 18 (NLT) 16Always be joyful.  17Never stop praying.  18Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 
Here is God's will for those who belong to Jesus the Christ.  We are to be always Joyful; always Prayerful and always Thankful.

Always joyful; this is a hard one for me.  I do not like mornings!  I work the opening in Fast Food business (we open at 6a.m.!).  Some people say "Good Morning" at they come to the Drive Through window; about half the time my responce is "Well it is morning!"  I sometimes say "Morning" as I reach out to take their payment.  Some folks look t me weird, some of it is me I am a bit weird but I think some hear the word "good" without me saying it and wonder, like I do, "just how good is it!"  I usually respond to the look with say something like "I did not place a value judgement on it!"  God has shown me and is still working on me that I need to be joyful always!!

Always Prayerful, sometimes we think of prayer as when we "talk" to God.  You know "Here's Bread, Here's Meat!  Good Lord let's eat!  Amen!"  Prayer really is a conversation we have with God.  If one is having a conversation both people in said conversation take turns speaking.  Therefore being Always Prayerful, involves our speaking to God but it also involves our listening to God speak to us.  That may be as we drive the car to work; as we sit listening to others speak in a meeting or gathering; it may be sitting in the  deer woods,  like a friend of mine taught me;(miss those times with that friend!!) or taking a walking to shed unwant pounds.  The thing is we must listen as well as talk.  I once heard some one say we needed to listen twice as much as we spoke because we have ONE MOUTH and TWO EARS.  While as a person drawn to public speaking (or in this case public writting) I am not sure I buy that idea; I do know that we, the followers of Jesus, need to do more listening at times than we actually do!!  Again, remember that a preacher speaks as much to the preacher (sometimes more) than the preacher does to the congregation!

Always Thankful, I have written on this on Novemeber 23, so I will says that I like how  the Message says it "1 Thessalonians 5:18 (TMSG) 18thank God no matter what happens." Again easier said than done!!

Do you want God's Will?  BE Always joyful, Always Prayerful and  Always Thankful!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Question WE Need to Ask Ourselves

While Wax aims these question at Pastors, I would like to propose that any person claiming the name Christian needs to ask the same question as we look to share Jesus with the mission field to which God through Christ has called us!  His title is a link back to his article

11 Questions Pastors Should Ask Themselves

Asking good questions will make you a better preacher -- and a better hearer -- of God's Word.

By Trevin Wax, Oct 10, 2011

Good questions prod us toward greater effectiveness in fulfilling our calling. Here are some probing questions I've found helpful in pastoral ministry, separated into the categories of Preaching and Church Mission.
About Preaching

1. How can I show the congregation how this passage or topic fits into the grand narrative of Scripture?

This question reminds me to connect the dots of the Bible's storyline, so that the people in our congregation see application in light of the great story of God's redemption.

2. As I preach from the Old Testament, is there anything in my sermon that a faithful Jew could not affirm?

This question reminds me to consider whether I am approaching the Old Testament from a distinctly Christian perspective. It increases my desire to show the congregation how the gospel is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.

3. As I preach from the New Testament, is there anything in my sermon that a Mormon could not affirm?

This question reminds me to examine whether or not my admonitions are rooted in the gospel or in morality. It points me toward Christ as Savior, not just Christ as example and helper.

4. Am I addressing this topic or cultural issue from a distinctly Christian point of view?

This question challenges both conservative and liberal talking points and forces me back to the gospel of grace as the message that makes Christian preaching unique.

5. What is there in me/us (preacher and congregation) that will rebel against the truth of this text and how can I move us beyond that rebellion?

This question reminds me that God's Word must capture my heart and affections before I can properly proclaim it to the congregation. It also helps me to look for obstacles that would keep us from obedience.

6. How does the truth I am proclaiming equip Christ's church to be on mission for the kingdom of God?

This question helps me look past doctrine for doctrine's sake, and causes me to focus on missional application of biblical truth.

About the Mission of the Church

7. If our church were to cease to exist, would anyone in the community be affected? Would anyone mourn the loss?

This question challenges a view of the church that exists only for itself and its members. It forces us to ask hard questions regarding our impact as a body of believers in the world God has placed us.

8. What would the result be if everyone in our church shared the gospel as often as I do?

This question challenges me in regards to personal evangelism. Am I asking church members to do something I myself am not doing regularly? Am I modeling evangelistic faithfulness?

9. What are the unique needs of our community that our church members could address as part of providing a platform for proclaiming the gospel?

This question challenges me to see community engagement as an opportunity to build a platform upon which to present the gospel faithfully. It also causes me to look for the ways God has gifted individuals in our churches to faithfully represent Christ in areas of need.

10. Are the programs and activities of our church the best way to spend our time, money, and energy to spread the gospel locally and globally?

This question challenges us to look at our programs and ask difficult questions related to our church's mission. We shouldn't be satisfied with relying on the good things we do if those good things do not aid us in fulfilling our primary calling: to fulfill the Great Commission.

11. Am I focused primarily on training people to bring the lost to church, where I will present the gospel? Or am I focused on equipping people to share the gospel throughout the week in their workplace, neighborhood, and schools?

This question challenges us to see evangelism as a life-long exercise, and not merely an event-driven practice done by professionals.

What about you? What questions do you ask yourself regularly as you seek to faithfully fulfill your calling?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Whoevers of the World

John 3:15 - 17 (NKJV) 15that whoever believes in [the Son of Man] should £not perish but have eternal life.  16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
There are three things I see in this passage.  Two are actually the same; the idea of WHOEVER Believes.  Jesus twice states that WHOEVER believes will not perish but have eternal life.  So, who are the WHOEVER Jesus refers to?  My old Websters New Collegiate Dictionary says this about whoever "what ever person : no matter who". 


[hoo-ev-er] Show IPA
pronoun; possessive whos·ev·er; objective whom·ev·er.
1. whatever person; anyone that: Whoever did it should be proud. Ask whoever is there. Tell it to whomever you like.
2.  no matter who: I won't do it, whoever asks.
3.  who? what person? (used to express astonishment, disbelief, disdain, etc.): Whoever is that? Whoever told you such a thing?

So from this I would say that WHOEVER is ANYONE WHO BELIEVES!  So; to whom is our mission?  ANY ONE!  WHOMEVER!

This idea most have been important to Jesus in that Jesus uses the phrase twice in His speaking with Nicodemus and answering Nicodemus' questions.  Therefore if we are followers of Jesus Christ the WHOEVERS must be important to us.

The third thing I see is that God loved the world, the WHOEVERS, so much that God was willing to give up God's only Son for them to have eternal life.  So, God loves the WHOEVERS; should not those who say we follow God and God's Only Son Jesus be willing to love the whoevers also?  God and Jesus did not define those whom they loved; why should we?  Do not hear me saying that I have this concept of loving the WHOEVERS down or that I am doing the loving of the WHOEVERS in my mission field perfectly; I am not doing it perfectly if at all; but with God's power and the Holy Spirit help I will and we can love the WHOEVERS!