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Pray For Those In Authority Over You

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

1 Timothy 2:1-6

Go to any of the main-line or even lesser known news websites or magazines and you’ll find a plethora of unbiased and biased writing about our currently political situation…election year.  Not only is this considered a historic election cycle, but one that has the attention of most all the nation and world.  I’m not only talking about the presidency…but also congress and state and local elections.  To most of us living in the states, this is huge!  It’s mammoth no matter what side you stand on.

I’m trying to gain perspective.  Each commercial and advertisement and billboard vies for our attention and commitment.  But that’s because to me, right now in 2012, it’s very personal.  I am living in the here and now.  My kids are growing up in the here and now.  The parents and students I work with are living in the here and now.  I’m thinking about the rest of my life as well as the 70+/- years of all those I work with.  Sure, I’m thinking of my future and theirs as well.  I want the best and safest for all.

But….yes, here comes the big but…if I pulled back 6000+ years of human history, this is nothing new.  Parents like me worried about their kids growing up in the culture and political environment at all points along the big timeline.  My fears are not new.  My hopes are not new.  But they are very personal to me.

What does God think about our present day worries?  Well, for one, worry is a sin.  Just saying.  Jesus said in Matthew not to do it because it causes fractures in our relationship with the Father.  Jesus didn’t worry…he had hope that overcame worry.  So I have to say, I’m trying really hard not to worry about this election cycle.  I’ll do my part.  I’ll study the situations at hand and the philosophies of those wanting to be elected.  But, no matter what, my hope in an eternity will not be taken away.  On the extreme side of things, a communistic/atheistic regime could overthrow the USA and my hope in an eternity still could not be taken away.  In the end Jesus wins…no matter who sits on an earthly throne locally, statewide, nationally or globally.

Here’s where the main verse comes into play.  Paul writes to Timothy, instructing him how to teach leaders to pray.  Paul encourages Timothy to pray and lead others in prayer for “all men, for kings and all who are in authority.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)  Why?  I mean, Paul could have encouraged people to fight for their rights and picket and vote (all good things when done with the right spirit), but he didn’t.  In this day and time, Rome was without a doubt pressing its own culture and philosophy of life as well as its religion.  Christianity was not thought of highly and even held under thumb.  So…politically, there have been people and currently are people in rougher situations than us…but God’s plan for man still isn’t thwarted and narrowed.  We see this in verse 3.  Paul instructs people to pray for ALL those in authority…for their best!  Verse three says, “…it is good and acceptable in God’s sight” that we do this.  Again…why?  Because, as God’s plan holds, He wants ALL men to be saved.  It’s not about us.  It’s all about eternity.

Can you imagine what might happen if we all put aside our political sway, and put away the prayers that ask God to save us from those opposite of our political philosophies, and simply prayed for our leaders to see God…so they could have the hope we have…so they could see Jesus crucified and risen…no politics involved?  I’d call that a continuation of the Movement Jesus started when He sent the disciples out to start the Church.  Are you all in?

Let’s pray for those we oppose.  Let’s pray for those that we agree with.  Let’s pray for our current situations, but let’s pray for God’s will…that those men and women would be saved.  Who knows, in Heaven you may very well be surprised who accepted Jesus and now stands beside you worshiping the Lamb.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Picturesque Examples:  (…this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior)

  • Student prays for Teacher
  • Jailed prays for Jailer
  • Player prays Coach
  • Worker prays for Boss
  • Slave prays for Owner
  • Child prays for Parent
  • Ticketed prays for Officer
  • Citizen prays for President
  • Homeowner prays for Township Trustee

“God’s man in God’s place, doing God’s will to God’s glory, will never lack God’s support.” ~Hudson Taylor

Whatville and Whoville and 1000 Years

April 26, 2012 3 comments

Partial Reprint of a Previous Article I’ve Uploaded…

What is your church preference?

  • While filling out an application for employment, the applicant came to a query which asked, “What is your Church Preference?”  The man, not being a person of extraordinary intelligence thought through the question for some time because he really needed the job. He wanted to impress the employer and answered very confidently, “I prefer a red brick church.”

******

We’re in the middle of a fairly lengthy discussion of the book of Revelation.  All through the book we see references to the church.  The verses we are focusing on today, though one subject often causes controversy, talks about the church (the 1000 years).  But if we don’t have a correct definition of the church, we are likely to miss the importance of why this letter was written and how it speaks to our daily purpose/battles as well.

As silly as the joke above might be, it very well might be nearer a truth in our American church society today.  If you listen close to the way we talk about our churches, we mention things associated with places, street addresses, programs, target groups, worship music and, of course, buildings.

Let’s speak frankly for a moment.  The Bible talks specifically that we, who claim Christ as Lord, are members of His body (Ephesians 5:30).  The Bible only separates church families by place names, or more specifically the city where they meet (Writings of Paul and Revelation).  The Church has two focuses…Love God and Love people (Matthew 22:37-39).  The church has one purpose.  It is to help people cross over from their life of sin into a life in relationship with the Forgiver of Sins (Matthew 28:19-20).  The Bible does not separate church families by philosophy, style of music, size of building, number in attendance, or length of Sunday morning services.  We are to be one body acting together in focus and purpose throughout the world.

Author and speaker Reggie McNeal said it this way, “Its moving from ‘Whatville’ to ‘Whoville.”  It’s moving from a place called the church to being the church wherever we are.  Moving from building to person.  Wherever you are, the church is.

Ok, I’m sure I got some of your buttons pushed from the comments above.  But we really can’t argue with Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 5.   Jesus has us praying for God’s will to be done through us, His church, here on this planet, as it is in Heaven.  This reminds me of His prayer in John 17:19-23 right before He goes to the cross…

  • I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the Disciples’] message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We are here, on earth, to be a real and tangible presence of Heaven…though not completely perfect.  So how are we doing in this area?  How are we doing in our local communities?  How are we doing through the week in our workplaces and schools?  Are we a fresh vision of Heaven to all who see us?  Are we a constant 24/7 representative of Heaven?

Some questions for evaluation for yourself or your church family:

  • When people see me do they see God?
  • When people hear me do they hear God?
  • When I make decisions, do people see the decisions that God would make?
  • Do people see God’s forgiveness when I forgive?  Do I forgive?
  • Do people see God’s care when I care for them?
  • Do people see God’s unconditional love when I am around?

….or

  • Do they see me instead of God?
  • Do they hear my attitudes and selfishness instead of God?
  • Do they see decisions that are for ‘my good’ rather than ‘my neighbor’s?’
  • Do they see me holding a list of their sins?
  • Do they see me caring more for my personal stuff than theirs?
  • Do they see love when they deserve it, and love withheld when they don’t?

As Steve Kimbrel has aptly said, we are ‘outposts of Heaven’ in the place we live…in the place we work…in the places we spend our time…for the people we are around.

  • “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

It is my understanding that we are within that 1000 years that John wrote of.  We are the Army chapter 19 talks about as we march forward taking people from the grip of Satan and presenting them with the truth of Jesus.

love-serve-spread the Word,

ed

Heaven on Earth…Now


What is your church preference?

  • While filling out an application for employment, the applicant came to a query
    which asked, “What is your Church Preference?”
    The man, not being a person of extraordinary intelligence thought the question
    for some time because he really needed the job. He wanted to impress the
    employer and answered very confidently, “I prefer a red brick church.”

As silly as the joke above might be, it very well might be nearer a truth in our American church society today.  If you listen close to the way we talk about our churches, we mention things associated with places, addresses, programs, target groups, worship music and, of course, buildings.  Having just arrived home from a week in Haiti, I can say that I have new eyes when it comes to “church” things.

Let’s speak frankly for a moment.  The Bible talks specifically that we, who claim Christ as Lord, are members of His body (Ephesians 5:30).  The Bible only separates church families by place names, or more specifically the city where they meet (Writings of Paul and Revelation).  The Church has two focuses…Love God and Love people (Matthew 22:37-39).  The church has one purpose.  It is to help people cross over from their life of sin into a life in relationship with the Forgiver of Sins (Matthew 28:19-20).  The Bible does not separate church families by philosophy, style of music, size of building, number in attendance, or length of Sunday morning services.  We are to be one body acting together in purpose throughout the world.

Ok, I’m sure I got some of your buttons pushed above.  But we really can’t argue with Jesus’ model prayer here.  Jesus has us praying for God’s will to be done through us, His church, here on this planet.  This reminds me of His prayer in John 17:19-23…

  • I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the Disciples’] message,21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We are here, on earth, to be a real and tangible presence of Heaven.  So how are we doing in this area?  How are we doing in our local communities?  How are we doing through the week in our workplaces and schools?  Are we a fresh vision of Heaven to all who see us?  You see this model prayer is both for the individual as well as for the church.  When we pray this one line…it is for us.  It is a prayer, a request that God’s will will be done through each of us…as though we are a constant 24/7 representative of Heaven.

Some questions for evaluation for yourself or your church family:

  • When people see me do they see God?
  • When people hear me do they hear God?
  • When I make decisions, do people see the decisions that God would make?
  • Do people see God’s forgiveness when I forgive?  Do I forgive?
  • Do people see God’s care when I care for them?
  • Do people see God’s unconditional love when I am around?

….or

  • Do they see me instead of God?
  • Do they hear my attitudes and selfishness instead of God?
  • Do they see decisions that are for ‘my good’ rather than ‘my neighbor’s?’
  • Do they see me holding a list of their sins?
  • Do they see me caring more for my personal stuff than theirs?
  • Do they see love when they deserve it, and love withheld when they don’t?

Heaven on earth.  As Steve Kimbrel has aptly said, we are ‘outposts of Heaven’ in the place we live…in the place we work…in the places we spend our time…for the people we are around.

  • “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

love-serve-spread the Word, ed

Paths – Which one are you on?

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been slowly reading a book by Andy Stanley titled, “The Principle of the Path.”  It’s a great book with one simple message.  Andy is very easy to read as well and he’s full of funny stories.  I’ve passed this book on to many people because of its very simple message.  Oh, in case you were wondering, Andy is the son of Charles.

Over the last few years I had the opportunity to work a couple side jobs that gave me the chance to travel throughout the country.  I would jump on a plane and head to another airport, jump off the plane into a rental car, then begin travels to a church building to speak or a store to install a computer/printer and do some training.  I had a phone installed with GPS, so before taking off, I’d type in the address of my destination.  That way, when I took off in the rental car, the phone would already be telling me what turns to make and when to make them.

GPS worked well, but there were those times when I found myself in a vacant parking lot in a empty side of town calling the church or the store to get different directions.  GPS just didn’t get it right.  Mostly it was an old business address or a difference in zip code or just something random.  The principle of the path would say this though.  The road I was on did take me to where I was going…might have been the wrong destination…but that stretch of pavement took me somewhere.  Isn’t that true in life as well?

The road we’re on will always take us to a destination.  It might be what you’re expecting and it might not be, but the principle of the path always holds true…you will always get to where the road you’re presently on leads…for good or bad.  Unfortunately, many of us get to the destination before we realize we’ve been on the wrong road.  So what road are you on?

The Bible says this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  The point is, it’s like we’re in the middle of the maze…we think we have a plan…we know our situation…but God is looking from above and can see the direct path we need to take to get to where He wants or needs us to be.  If we don’t look up every once in awhile and say, “Left or right?”, then we will make a choice based only on our intelligence and wisdom…and even though we all think we’re smart…haha  you can finish this sentence.

Have you ever had something happen to you and you put your hands on your head and shout, “How did this happen?”  Well, more than likely it’s because of the left and right turns you’ve taken.  It’s a principle.  You’ll always go where the path leads.

Choose God’s ways.  If you say that you’re not yet familiar with His ways, then look them up.  A great place to start is the book of Proverbs.  Lots of basic life stuff in there.  All given from a guy who had all of God’s wisdom, but not much of God’s intelligence.    He’s writing while looking back on his life and realizing all unintended places he ended up while not following God.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

So what about life?….

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I was sitting in the waiting room of the hospital after my wife had gone into labor and the nurse walked out and said to the man sitting next to me, “Congratulations sir, you’re the new father of twins!”

The man replied, “How about that, I work for the Doublemint Chewing Gum Company.” The man then followed the woman to his wife’s room.

About an hour later, the same nurse entered the waiting room and announced that Mr. Smith’s wife has just had triplets.

Mr. Smith stood up and said, “Well, how do ya like that, I work for the 3M Company.”

The gentleman that was sitting next to me then got up and started to leave. When I asked him why he was leaving, he remarked, “I think I need a breath of fresh air.” The man continued, “I work for 7-UP.”

Life.  Life is precious.  Many who will read this no doubt have been on both sides of the word “precious.”  Because life is precious, it can bring both extreme happiness and extreme sadness.  Life is a gift of God.

 

Life began in the Garden of Eden.  Specifically, human life became the crown jewel of creation when on the 6th day God formed man and woman and breathed into their lungs.  They were alive.  Hearts were beating.  Blood was flowing through their veins.  Their eyes could see.  Their hands could feel the touch of God’s hand in them.  You know how it feels to walk out on a cool morning and take a deep breath.  Adam and Eve took the very first refreshing deep breaths ever.

 

God created them.  That’s where we start with the subject of life.  We cannot start anywhere else. All of our ideas about human kind have to start here.  All of our considerations towards the value of life have to start here.  God created.

 

We do, however, have an adversary that wants to alter where we start when we think about ‘human life.’  Satan would rather us start thinking and feeling with our own thoughts of humanity…based on our emotions, experiences, selfishness, and the worldly values that often seep into our hearts.  Satan would want us to forget Who it was that began life itself.

 

David, the ancient King and Psalmist, said that God knew Him before he was formed (Psalm 139).  David wrote that God formed him and watched him as he grew in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139).  Incredible insight.

 

We also see how important life is through the life of Jesus.  Christ died for humanity.  If humanity was something that could be defined by science or evolution theories, I’m not sure we’d need a buried and risen savior.  Jesus died for our very existence.  God created…Jesus saved.

 

Next…again, based on what we know and believe…there is a place in Heaven being prepared for us (John 14:2).  God Created.  Jesus Saved.  God is planning on us being with Him again.  I’m not sure about you, but through the eyes of God…human life is precious.

 

The 10 Commandments speak also of God’s feelings towards His creation.  We are not to kill one another.  We are not to lie to one another.  We are not to steal from one another.  We are to respect each other possessions and family as well as our own.  God Created…and created a life plan.  Jesus Saved.  God is planning for us to be with Him again for eternity.

 

If we base all of what we believe about human life on just these things, we see why Jesus said the greatest commandment is in two parts…Love God, and Love the others that He created as well.

 

I’m so glad there’s forgiveness when it comes to how I/we treat each other. From abortion, to lying, to hate, to selfishness, to jealousy, to adultery, to murder, to stealing…we have all fallen short of God’s plan for life.  Adam and Eve had a taste…they lost it.  We now have a chance to taste the forgiveness that will lead to a life with God again…hand in hand.  The greatest thing is that we have the privilege of being asked to participate in passing this blessing around (Genesis 12:2-3).

 

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

What if ?’s for the American Church

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s what’s behind this new “What If?” page.  I recently was challenged…probably by God…at a conference.  I was sitting in the back in a dark corner so I could think away from the noise of 13,000 people.  Guess what?  It was anything but quiet.  I should say it this way.  I think everyone in that small crowd of Jesus followers could hear God loud and clear.  God was not letting anyone get away to a small corner to just think.  There was a real question/challenge/gut wrenching move of God going on.  I’ve done some study since, and I’m not satisfied with something.  Below you’ll get an idea of where I’m coming from.

I did some research online recently about the American church.  I did this alongside looking into the Scripture at what God considers “true religion” as James writes.  I have to say that I’ve been feeling very guilty since looking into this stuff.  Gasp.  Cough.  Ugghhh.  This feeling is not good.  But guilt, if used right, can be a good thing.  So here are some things running through my cranium.

To begin with, there are well over 300,000 church families in America.  That’s pretty incredible!  Picture it.  There’s a ton of people bowing to remember Christ around us each week.  Oh, the number of church membership…just under 145,000,000…in America.  Let’s assume that 1/3 of them are not active. They are just on a membership card somewhere.  Let’s simply go with the number of 100,000,000.  That’s a ton of energy, muscle, dollars, dreams, talent, passion, grace, salvation, and blessing.  The number of money given to individual church families, not organizations like Salvation Army, equals near 100,000,000 (yes, that’s billion) dollars.   Lutherans alone count for 16 billion, which would put them at number 152 on Forbes 500 just above AFLAC.

Now here are some other basics to set beside those simple numbers pasted above.  There are nearly 149,000 children on the adoption roles within the USA.  What if the church decided to do something about it?  There are 300,000 congregations.

It takes about $5000 to drill a well in Africa for a village.  What if the church decided to do something about it?  We gave over $100 Billion…much of it going to infrastructure and building maintenance.

It takes between 25 and 40 dollars per month to support a child in a 3rd world nation.  What if the church decided to do something?  The Lutherans’ giving alone would take care 400 million children.  Nothing against my Lutheran friends…just a number for all of us to think about.

Habitat for Humanity, in 34 years, has helped put 350,000 new homes on the planet.  What if the more of the church, Jesus hands and feet, got behind projects like this?

About 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year in the USA.  Just imagine what the church could do if we asked and acted one the question, “What if?”

 

Just some things for you to think about.  Help me struggle with this.  It’s a good struggle.

 

ed

 

 

My Life Has a Plan

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Psalm 80

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they “slept like a baby” when babies wake up like every two hours?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

If money doesn’t grow on trees then why do banks have branches?j

These are funny…and I’ll bet you can come up with more. Do you ever think about the questions Mary, the mother of Jesus, asked? ……..we’re making a quick transition now.

There’s no direct writings about this, but I’m sure she knew of the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah. I’m sure she realized the importance of the child she was carrying when escaping to Egypt when the local leader wanted all baby boys murdered. I’m sure she was asking questions knowing that the two year old she was potty training was REALLY the Son of God. When He was actually teaching the rabbis in temple school, I’m sure she was wondering about the rumors of what He would become. Joseph had to be looking into the Scriptures to see what this boy under his care was all about. I would guess there wasn’t much talk about it when the “subject” came up.

I wonder what Mary thought of when she would hear Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist calling Him the Lamb of God. She knew what a “Lamb of God” was. It was the sacrifice for the sins of a family! I’m sure she was asking questions.

I wonder if she ever thought of the story of Abraham and Isaac. I’m positive she knew the story of her ancestor Abraham. I wonder if she ever thought she might be in a similar place to Abraham…she wasn’t the Father…but she was the momma. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Was she going to have to see her son Jesus in the same position? I’m sure she and her husband asked those questions.

There was a ‘plan of life’ that Jesus was following. I’m sure there were logical people who were following Jesus…some were disciples. Others may have been the women who were following. One might have been Mary. If God’s son was here with us, among us, then there must be a purpose and an ‘end game.’ What was it? I’m sure Mary knew in her heart where this was going. He was the Lamb. Lambs are killed for the purpose of forgiveness. He was perfect. He was unlike any child she was familiar with. He didn’t back down to danger or high risk. He was making those in authority upset. There were rumors of arrest and death to shut this person, her son, up.

We see so many people in this life lost as if without purpose or a plan. I just watched a John Maxwell video clip about successful people. He said that the first thing he notices about successful people is that they know what they’re here for. He said that there are two important days in a successful person’s life. One…when they were born. Two…when they figured out why.

Follow me here…we’re going to use a line of logic. If Jesus was born to die for us so we could live and be servants in a great Kingdom, then what’s that say about us? If we are servants in God’s Kingdom, then what’s that say about our daily life? If God provides us a daily life, do you think there are things, everyday, that He wants us to pray about or do? If there are things that God wants us to do every day, do we have purpose? I’m starting to let that sink into my being. Where ever I am or whatever I’m doing, I have a purpose. It might be the little thing I said to the telemarketer on the phone. It might have been the smile I gave to the gal in the Taco Bell drive through. It might be the sincere asking of “How has your day been?” to my daughter when she gets off the bus. It might be the prayer I said during lunch time for a friend.

I’m convinced that Life is not random. Do random things happen in life? Yes, but my plan of my life is not random. I have the purpose and plan of living a daily life so God is seen by many people.

Mary, I personally believe, knew this about her son Jesus. Yes, I believe it broke her heart. Yes, I believe she stayed awake at night with nightmares about what ‘might’ happen to her son. Yes, I believe that she was torn apart when the arrest took place. But I also think that Mary might be running around Heaven pointing to Jesus and telling people, “That’s my son…I’m so proud of Him. He’s also my savior.” When she was finally face to face before God, I’m sure that God said, “Well done servant.”

A leader has plans for followers. God is our leader and He really wants to say to us, “Well done servant.” As leaders, can we point to our Leader everyday so that other people see their plan in the story?

For Kids – I would just continue to tell the Easter story as we head into the big week. Next week is Palm Sunday…when Jesus entered Jerusalem with a huge party that drove the authorities nuts. Here are some different links I found that might help you with this one.

Parents will be watching the video which will take them from the beating of Jesus up to just before the cross is raised with Him on it. The focus is on how Mary felt through all of this…realizing that Jesus’ life really did have a plan and the plan was for all of us.

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