Help My Doubt

Faith seeking reason- Mark 9:24

The Christian Journey (6): Assurance

I want to begin today’s message by letting you in on a dirty little secret. Here it is: For the past 5 weeks I have been teaching you Free Methodist doctrine! “The Christian Journey” comes straight out of the 2007 Free Methodist Book of Discipline. I’m sorry for using the word “doctrine” but it’s true!

Review “The Christian Journey” from weeks gone by:

  1. God’s Initiative
  2. Awakening
  3. Repentance
  4. Faith

One of the reasons I want you to know that this is Free Methodist doctrine is because I am so proud of our teaching in regards to “assurance”. Some bible teachers believe that it is normal to become a Christian and still feel guilty and condemned. To that we say, “no way”! That’s NOT normal. In fact, I would like to read our doctrinal statement about assurance.

“God gives assurance of salvation and peace of heart to all who repent and put their faith in Christ (Romans 5:1). The Holy Spirit witnesses to their own spirits that they are forgiven of their sins and adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:16). Christians have peace with God through Jesus Christ because guilt is taken away and fear of judgment removed (Hebrews 6:11; 10.22). God continues to give assurance to believers through the Scriptures, the conscious presence of the Holy Spirit, and love for and fellowship with other Christians (1 John 3:14).”

“Assurance” is a gift from God to those who have been pursued by God, awakened, turned from their sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Let’s look at this “assurance” more closely together.

Read Ezekiel 36:22-27.

Ezekiel reminds us that, in “The Christian Journey”, we can get sidetracked away from God. Verse 22 says, 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone (how?). Now this is an old cycle of failure on the part of Israel but let’s review:

God saved (1) Israel out of slavery in Egypt and led them into the Promised Land so that they would be a light of salvation and peace to the world. For a while (2) Israel worshipped God and lived according to the 10 Commandments but, after a while, began worshipping false religions and living selfishly. Therefore God stopped (3) protecting them from the armies of their neighbors and let them become prisoners of war in Babylon/Iraq.

God did not give up on them though. He promised to (1) bring them back to Israel and to (2) punish the blood-hungry nations that abused them. That is what the Lord meant when he said, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things (v.22a)”. God promised to do these things so that (3) the world may see that He is a faithful, loving and forgiving God.

Israel had refused (1) their “assurance” of God’s salvation and blessing because they had, “profaned (His holy name) among the nations (v.22-23)”. In a previous (2) chapter we hear details about what that means: “You have profaned me among my people for a few handsful of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not die and you have spared those who should not live (Ez.13:19)”. Israel had refused their “assurance” of God’s salvation and peace by lying, murdering and denying justice to victims of crime.

Without getting into the specifics of Israel’s history, let’s apply those generally to our experience:

First of all, we cannot experience the “assurance” of God’s salvation and peace when we lie. For example, we know that Satan (1), the “Father of Lies”, tempted Eve by saying, “you will not surely die (Genesis 3)”. The most basic lie, then, is to tell people that it is okay to disobey God/sin. In other words, the most dangerous lie we can tell other people (or ourselves) is that we can disobey God and still go to heaven. No! It doesn’t matter (2) which Command we are talking about- You shall not lie, make idols, use the Lord’s name in vain, honor the Sabbath Day, mother and father, murder or covet- If we want to experience the “assurance” of God’s salvation and peace then we must believe God’s word and obey Him.

Now, after talking about what we need to do to experience the “assurance” of God’s salvation and peace, we also need to remember that it is not just by being good.

God goes on to say through (1) Ezekiel, 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ezekiel 36:27). In order to experience God’s “assurance” we need to receive God’s Spirit inside. After (2) Jesus died on the cross, rose from the grave and returned to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit into the hearts of His disciples at Pentecost and fulfilled God’s promise through Ezekiel. The apostle (3) Paul describes it by saying this in Romans 8:9-17 (read it).

Notice how many times he says what the Spirit does for us:

    1. we are controlled by the Spirit of God (v.9)
    2. our spirit is made alive (v.10)
    3. we have life in our mortal bodies (v.11)
    4. we live by the Spirit (v.13)
    5. we are led by the Spirit (v.14)
    6. we have the sprit of Sonship (v.15)
    7. the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (v.16)

Again, we can not experience the “assurance” of God’s salvation and peace just by being good. We must receive the spirit of God to change our hearts.

Paul (1) said, 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.F35 And by him we cry, “Abba,F36 Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Ro.8:12-16)”. As far as (2) “The Christian Journey” goes, then, “assurance” is understood to be a gift from God to those who have been pursued by God, awakened to our need, turned from our sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is a gift God gives us in our hearts when we receive Him.

In our church we are focusing/clarifying our (1) vision for ministry by making it our mission, “to help people find forgiveness, healing and maturity in Jesus Christ”. The “assurance” of God begins at forgiveness as we celebrate each Sunday but it grows as we live by the Spirit together in small groups and work together in neighborhood ministries. God has been blessing (2) our 3 groups this year and I am hopeful that we will experience more of God’s “assurance” as we continue to help people move beyond forgiveness into healing ministries of our small groups. Personally (3) I experienced the “assurance” of God much more personally after 15 years of faith when Christian friends taught me how to pray through my doubts. Sunday worship is important but nothing is more powerful than being able to talk personally and specifically with one or two Christian friends.

  • If you don’t have the assurance of God’s salvation and love then I encourage you to turn from sin, trust in Jesus and receive His Holy Spirit.
  • If you do have God’s assurance then celebrate (!) AND “help other people find forgiveness, healing and maturity in Jesus”.

15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16).

February 22, 2010 Posted by | God, Sermons | Leave a comment

The Christian Journey (4): Repentance

So far I have reviewed “The Christian Journey” from a very positive point of view. God is an aggressive lover and an awakening father but we must also understand the negative facts about our sins.

For example, in the 1st season of “The Waltons” they had a visit from a young preacher-in-training.

  • On the one hand “fire and brimstone” preaching of the past became like a restaurant that only sells vegetables. It is good food but there is much more to the food pyramid. In fact, I have heard that if one eats only vegetables they will become malnourished and their skin may turn yellow. It’s not good to eat only vegetables and it is not good to preach “fire-and-brimstone” every week.
  • On the other hand some pastors have stopped preaching repentance all together. They have taken vegetables off the menu. They have become like a fast-food restaurant serving it “your way right away” in “happy-meal” fashion. There are no vegetables in happy meals. There may be pickles and lettuce on the burger and tomatoes in the ketchup but their nutritional value is nearly meaningless. It is not good to eliminate vegetables from the menu and it is not good to eliminate repentance from weekly worship.

I am not suggesting that we need more pastors like that but I am suggesting that we need pastors to do it once in a while.

With that in mind we come to our Old Testament Scripture lesson through God’s prophet Ezekiel, which is definitely intended to be a little hard and hot. Read Ezekiel 33:10-11.

The context surrounding this section is simple. God just told Ezekiel (a), in the military sense, if a man is elected to be stand guard of a city for danger and sees an army advancing but does not sound an alarm then he shares in the blame for those who die. In our (b) modern sense it would be like having a security guard at an airport that sees a knife in the luggage scanner but lets the bag go on the airplane anyway. In the (c) spiritual sense it is like having a pastor or an adult Christian see another person living in obvious sin (e.g. 10 Commandments) but refuse to speak to the sinner. When God’s people fail to speak the truth in love then a whole nation can loose hope and say, “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live (Ezekiel 33:10)?’” Ezekiel (e.g. ch.22) was faithful to tell Israel that their top 3 sins were idolatry, shedding of innocent blood and dishonoring parents.

Think of how that is similar to USA:

  • Idolatry (1) is exactly what we chose when we removed prayer and God’s word from schools. In God’s eyes that is spiritual divorce. Our country made a clear choice to stop teaching our children that our country is “one nation under God” of the Bible to whom we can and should pray. That’s idolatry (i.e. Commandment #1)! We have social problems in this country because we have an idolatry problem in this country. Just like Israel, “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them (Ezekiel 33:10)’”
  • America has also made a public policy in favor of (2) shedding innocent blood. The pro-abortion motto is that “no one can tell a woman what to do with her body”. Having already tossed God and His code of conduct out of government it should not surprise us to see moral behavior tossed out along with it (i.e. Commandment #6)! We chose to worship human governors instead of God so humans gave themselves power over life and death. “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them (Ezekiel 33:10)’”
  • The third (3) charge God made against Israel is a joke to most people today- dishonoring mothers and fathers (i.e. Commandment #5). The USA began by divorcing itself from God then decided it’s okay to kill babies and, it should be no surprise, that it goes still further to take away their rights to parental consents, corporal punishment and school curriculums. “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them (Ezekiel 33:10)’”

God’s solution is to, “11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD , I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn (i.e. repent) from their ways and live. Turn (i.e. repent)! Turn (i.e. repent) from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel (Ezekiel 33:11)?

In an older church the temptation is to spiritually “retire”. However, when it comes to our relationship with God, there is no room for retirement. Christianity is not like a job we can retire from after we reach middle-age. On the contrary, the older Christians are called on by God to teach and warn the younger wo/men. We need to teach our grand/children clearly that (1) the God of the Bible is true and all other religions are false. We need to fight against the evil policies that encourage (2) murder, the (3) destruction of godly families and (4) many other damning sins. Sin is “evil” and, unless we “turn” we deserve to “die” as a nation and as individuals!

The Good News is that God invites all sinners to “repent” and live. Jesus himself said so in his parable of the two sons. Read Matthew 21:28-32.

Let me try to make this very personal now. Jesus is teaching us about 2 kinds of people: those who say they will (1) work for the Father and then don’t and those who say they will not (2) work for the Father and then do.

  • The good news is that those who have a history of refusing to obey God can still do the Father’s will and enter the kingdom of God. We have all committed the same sins as tax collectors (e.g. steal, lie, covet) and prostitutes (i.e. lust, adultery) at least in our heart/mind. The question is not about the past but the present- whether we are willing to turn towards God and away from sin.
  • The bad news is that those who have a history of making promises to God can still fail to do the Father’s will and live outside the kingdom of God. My guess is that most of us fall into this category. Most of us have made promises to work for God and, maybe, even started doing some good work. The question, again, is not about the past but the present- whether we are willing to believe and continue turning towards Jesus today.

32Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him (Matthew 21:32). Sin is “evil” and, unless we “repent” we deserve to “die” as a nation and as individuals!

Repentance is a “turning” that we do in heart, soul and strength. Pastoral teaching confronts the mind but good preaching is also aimed at the heart. Let’s take a few moments to meditate on God’s word and consider how he is calling us to turn towards himself and away from sin today.

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD , I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live (Ezekiel 33:11)?’

February 1, 2010 Posted by | God, Sermons | Leave a comment

The Christian Journey (3): Awakening

After such a crisis in Haiti over the past 2 weeks, and a visit from our missionaries from Spain last week, it is hard to remember that we are still at the beginning of a very New Year. This is still only the 3rd week of the year and to kick off 2010 I have started a new sermon series called “The Christian Journey”.

In the Introduction I suggested that “The Christian Journey” is like an airplane ride which ends in a terrible crash but continues as those who trust in Jesus float to the ground in parachutes and walk back to town and comfort the surviving family members of those who died.

In the second message, called “God’s Initiative”, I suggested that “The Christian Journey” is like a dating relationship between young men and young women. I told you about my planning and preparing for Anissa’s birthday dinner in which the man has traditionally been the assertive lover chasing after the woman and how God is always the One who first loved us.

Today I would like to continue talking about “The Christian Journey” by describing the way in which God “awakens” each one of us in His desire to save the world.

In order to understand how God “awakens” us we need begin by seeing what it means to be “asleep”. God reveals this truth to us in the beginning of His book- Genesis 3:1-7.

They key verse here is, God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die (Gen.3:3).’ ”

  • When God said “you will die” we understand that He meant a physical death.

22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever (Gen.3:22).”

Obviously, we are all very familiar with the fact that all humans die. What is important to understand here is that physical death is NOT normal. God did not create us to die after 80-90 years of life! God created us to live eternally and He is making a way lead us back into physical life.

  • God also meant more than just a physical “death”.

When God said, “you will surely die (Gen.3:3)”, He was also talking about a “spiritual” death. We know that God was talking about more than just physical death because sometimes He refers to sinful humans as being alive and dead at the same time: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:1)”.  So, when God said, “you will surely die (Gen.3:3)”, He was talking about a physical and “spiritual” death.

The best way I can think of to explain what living in spiritual death is like is to compare it with another human disability. For example, some children are born near-sighted. They have eyes but they don’t work right. In my family many of my kids began school without glasses and we noticed them with their faces in books or sitting right on top of the television at break times. We knew something was wrong. They could not fix themselves and, as they got older, the risks from this disability became more dangerous. In fact, unless someone tells her that other people have the ability to see, she will grow up thinking it is normal to be blind.

In the same way, all babies are born with a dead spirit. A dead spirit is like being born morally near-sighted. We see both good and evil to some extent but we cannot see clearly. We cannot correct our own spiritual disability and, as we get older, our choices become more harmful. We are not bad or evil for being born with a dead spirit but we all do have a moral disability and we eventually become sinful. In fact, unless someone tells us that other people have a moral backbone, we will grow up thinking that being spiritually dead is completely normal!

God created us spiritually alive and now He wants to raise us from spiritual death. Have you noticed your own spiritual disability? Can you see this is true of everyone?

The next logical question is, “how does God awaken us?” I’d like to answer that question by looking at John 16:5-11 (read).

  • The key verse this time is, 8When he comes, he will convict (e.g. awaken) the world of guilt (John 16:8)”. “How” does God awaken us? He does it by His invisible Holy Spirit bringing feelings of conviction in our hearts.

For example, my personal experience of awakening is a simple childhood memory. I was at a summer church camp at an evening campfire and the pastor was explaining something about Jesus. Suddenly I understood that I was living under a death curse from sin and only Jesus could cancel it. I often describe it as though someone turned on the “lights” because I had been in many church services and Sunday school classes but never understood that I was under the same death sentence as Adam unless Jesus saved me. I simply did not understand until God supernaturally woke me up. I lived as a typical kid in a Christian family feeling guilty when I disobeyed my parents, lied, swore, stole or broke any of the other Commandments. I thought the right thing to do was to obey more often and stop doing bad things. I thought God would let me into heaven if I did more good things than bad things. All I can say is that God’s Holy Spirit convicted (awakened) me of guilt.

As a church our job is to help the people that God awakens. For example, the Boy Scouts had to leave early Saturday morning to spend the day at Elk Lick. I got up at 5:30 and made some coffee and set the table for breakfast. At 6:00 I went upstairs to wake up Caleb. I walked into his room and put my hand on his bed lamp but saw him moving and moaning. I did not say a word and I decided not to turn the light on. He was awake!

In the same way, our church needs to prepare our sanctuary, small groups and wo/mens minstries to receive new people then go to people and see who is awake. Specifically, I have heard of some people who are

  1. showing a new interest in reading God’s word. They are not attending church yet but there is a hunger there which proves God is near.
  2. want to be visited and prayed for. They are not coming to church but there is a hunger which proves God is awakening.
  3. visit our church on Sunday but are not yet interested in small groups or membership. There is evidence that God is awakening.
  4. move from Sunday worship to small group relationships. There is a personal desire to know more and that is evidence that God is awakening.

We can not “awaken” people. God does that part. Our part is to get ready and look for those who are already awake.

“The Christian Journey” begins with God, like an aggressive lover, initiates a relationship with all humanity. To do so He also must, like a caring Father, wake us up.

  • Has God awakened you? If you realize that you need God and are hungry to know Him more then thank God for “waking” you up!
  • Have you seen God waking others up? If you know someone that God is waking up then encourage them to believe.

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you (John 16:7)”.

January 25, 2010 Posted by | God, Sermons | 2 Comments

Reimagining Church

I just finished watching a video of Bishop David Kendall, one of our denomination’s top leaders, introduce their vision for God’s direction in our future.

http://www.freemethodistchurch.org/sections/leadership/bishops/reimagining/Index.html

The musical worship is almost as long as the preaching in the beginning but, being located in a college town, their talent is admirable.

I am constantly challenged by preaching like this because it presses me to consider my priorities. This sermon’s message is clearly giving higher priority to “others”. That emphasis makes me nervous because I have seen damage done by evangslists who are assigned as pastors but neglect their sheep. Rarely have I heard a message which balances God’s concern for the world and the church.

I understand that God so loved the “world” but I also see how Jesus gave himself for the “church”. There are many scriptures that reveal God’s priority for both the lost and the redeemed. I am looking for a challenging balance in our vision for the future which does not neglect anyone.

There are more videos in this series and I look forward to seeing them all in preparation for our mega-annual conference this Spring.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | God | 1 Comment

The Christian Journey (2)- Initiative

The main thought we want to understand today is, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)”.

Traditionally, in the love affair between boys and girls, the boy asks the girl to go out to dinner. When I was a teen I planned to make a birthday dinner for Anissa at my parent’s house. I planned the menu (German pita pocket), the table setting (real dishes) and the lighting (candles). She is a traditional girl and waited for me to ask her out. Today many girls take the initiative to ask the boy because they don’t want to wait or the boy is too shy. God, however, is always the first to pursue a relationship with us.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

  • Before we were ever hungry God made food for us (Genesis 1).
  • Before we were cold God made cotton and leather and animal skins.
  • Before we were thirsty God made water.
  • Before we were guilty God made blood to be a payment for sins.

God has always been the first to prepare for and pursue a relationship with us. That’s Incredible! Why would God do that?

In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6to the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 1:5-6)

Love– God does not just love us a lot God is love. God has not just loved us for a long time God has never not loved us. God did not start loving us when He created us has always loved us and always will.

Pleasure– God experiences pleasure in relationship with us. He created us in His image and we experience pleasure because God experiences pleasure. When we worship Him every week with prayers and songs and loving one another that pleases God!

Grace– God loves to bless us more than we deserve. For example, when I was a boy my neighbor’s cat came over to my front porch and was relaxing in the sunshine. I reached down and pet him on his belly and he reached up in a split-second and cut me on my face. He made me bleed down the center of my nose into the top of my lip and I tried to kick him but missed. If you (child) went to the SPCA and knew the cat you adopted would cut you like that would you buy it anyway? God would.

God knew that many would hurt him and reject Him but he also knew that many would love and receive Him. God loves us so much that he thinks it is worth being rejected in order to share in an eternal relationship of love with us. God gets so much pleasure out of loving those of us who will be faithful that he was willing to be crucified in order to bring us together again. God is so gracious that he knew all of this before He created the world and He did it anyway.

“The Christian Journey” begins with the understanding that God is an aggressive lover of the humans he created. There has never been any doubt about God’s love for us. The only question is whether we will love Him or not. Are you?

Celebrate God’s grace with me today.

January 11, 2010 Posted by | God, Sermons | 2 Comments

NotReligion.com

I have been hearing cool sound bites on the local Christian radio station from NotReligion.com and decided to check out the web site myself.

I like the way they present God’s word in simple words and an attractive format. Check out their page called, “Jesus Who?”, at http://www.notreligion.com/index.php/the-answer/The-Problem.html.

Its not about religion but about a relationship with God. So true.

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Doubt, God | Leave a comment

Great Expectations (2): A Spiritual Barometer

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD , the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land (1 Kings 17).’ ”

Obviously, I chose this Scripture because of the widow’s great faith at a time of great poverty but, before I talk about that I want to notice something even more important:

  • The widow was suffering a drought and famine because God was punishing King Ahab and Israel. If I could take you back in a time-machine you would see that, the first king of Israel, Saul, started good then became bad and was replaced by King David. David started good then became bad then became good again and was replaced by his son, King Solomon. Solomon was good then bad then, we hope, became good again and was replaced by his son. After Solomon died, the nation of Israel was split in ½ and the northern kingdom, called Israel, never had a good king ever again. In the days of Elijah, the bad king of Northern Israel was Ahab. Ahab was not just a bad king, he was “worse than all the kings that lived before him (16:30)”. Therefore God told Elijah to go to King Ahab and say, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word (17:1)”. This is much more than a story about how God provides for a poor widow.
  • Sometimes innocent people suffer due to the sins of our leaders. As we consider our “Great Expectations” for Ulysses we need to remember that God may not remove our economic depression until our President and nation choose to follow God’s word again. They already (a) canceled prayer in schools even though God said, “you shall have no other gods except me”. They (b) made abortion legal even though God said, “you shall not murder”. They (c) create a no-fault-divorce law even though God said, “you shall not commit adultery”. The American government and voters (who elected them) claim to be “one nation under God” but they “deny Him by their actions”. Our economic depression might get even worse unless our President and people confess their sin and return to God!

However, the good news is that, God can provide for His children, even in miraculous ways, when we trust in Him. Basically, the widow had literally eaten everything in her home except one hand full of flour and some oil. Elijah told her, “don’t be afraid (v.13)” because “this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says (v.14)”. Following Elijah’s example, we need to go into each other’s homes in times of need and encourage one another with God’s word and material aid. Specifically, God is leading our church to “love God with all our strength” more in small group ministries. Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to share some of your food (or anything) and God’s love with someone in their time of need? It is how God met the needs of both the widow and Elijah. It is God’s way of “helping people love Him with all our strength (not just heart and soul)”.

September 14, 2009 Posted by | God, Sermons | Leave a comment

The Sky is Falling

Have you gotten “the sky is falling” syndrome yet?

 

I spent some extra time studying Revelation last night because I found out that Tim LaHaye’s pre-trib rapture and one world government are not the only way to interpret scripture. There is a more optimistic interpretation based on Jesus’ victory at the cross and the early church’s boldness through persecution. I’m not convinced yet but I sure am looking for something more encouraging than singing “kum by ya” while clinging to a sinking ship.

Either way this country is feeling the wrath of God. We need to confess our greed, perversion and abortion or else we will go the way of ancient Israel. I’m convinced that God is leading his church into a lesson of “being content no longer in plenty but in want”. 

At the same time this might become the most exciting time of our life because it would tap into the natural masculine desire to protect, defend, provide and solve problems. If you’ve ever seen “The Incredibles” they capture the emasculation of the super-strong father perfectly when they put his fat and depressed frame into a tiny office cubicle. Office jobs are okay if we have an aggressive mission, like department of defense office personnel, but rubber stamping the status quo is like AIDS to the masculine soul. That’s why we Christian men need to remember our spiritual “battle” no matter where we are. We can fight and win the invisible cosmic war even when sweeping the floor.

 

March 12, 2009 Posted by | Doubt, God | 2 Comments

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

One day Jesus met a woman who had been divorced 4 times and was living in sin and, Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water (John 4:10).”

Jesus did not talk to every single person he passed on the street. At the same time, Jesus was willing to stop and talk to anyone he met at any time he saw a need. Jesus’ walk and talk seems to point to our attitude.

 

The Lord has pointed out to me that I have hang-ups about people that I didn’t realize.

 

  • I look at people I don’t know and I judge them to be sinners.
  • I just “know” they don’t want to talk to a pastor.
  • I “know” won’t want to go to church.
  • I “know” they don’t want to talk about God.

 

I heard an older pastor recently say, “Many Christians talk to non-Christians as if the Bible started at Genesis 3 instead of Genesis 1. We need to see them as God sees them: created in His image and unconditionally loved first and foremost”. The problem of sin is real but the Good News of Jesus begins with “God loves you” not “You’re a sinner”.

 

March 2, 2009 Posted by | God, Sermons | 2 Comments

Increasing in Jesus (2Pe.1:8)

 

King Saul started out as a good God-fearing man. However, he did not stay faithful. On one occasion Saul had specific instructions to defeat an army completely but he let the king live and let the soldiers bring back the best animals and plunder (1Sam.15:9). Saul’s army thought God’s command to kill all the people and animals would be such a waste. Instead they suggested that they keep all the good animals and sacrifice some of them to the Lord. Saul knew it was wrong but agreed to go along with them. When Samuel confronted him about his rebellion against God Saul lied and made excuses, so God removed his spirit from Saul and sent a tormenting spirit instead.

 

10The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul (1Samuel 18:9-10).

 

As Christians we are all tempted to do the same thing. For example, some churches today have stopped saying the word “sin”. They have taken out pictures of thorns and nails and the cross. Some don’t like to talk about “blood” and “hell”. It is tempting to obey only ½ of God’s word but we need to remember that God rejected Saul because he wanted the love of people more than the love of God. We need to increase our obedience to God’s word not our popularity among men. We need to be like David, not like Saul.

February 23, 2009 Posted by | Christian Celebrities, God | 1 Comment