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Posts Tagged ‘Believe’

Are we making a difference?

February 5, 2011 5 comments

“Relevance is a consequence of kingdom living, not a cause.” Rick McKinley

 

Salt and Light

I’m not much in the joking mood today.  Sorry.  I’m not in a bad mood, just…well…you’ll see.  I’ve been watching the news for the last few weeks, and to tell you the truth, there are some things happening that will mark this period of history.  The thing I’ve been struggling with the last few years, as I’ve written about in the past, is what does Christianity look like day to day…in normal life?  We in America have set up our own little version of Christianity that looks like this:  A church building, 2-3 consistent meetings per week, 1 main service on Sunday morning, occasional fellowship times together, Sunday School, and meetings.  Now, before you write me nasty emails, haha, there’s nothing wrong with those things.  Are those things the main focus of God’s Kingdom?  I’m afraid they’re not.

Outside our buildings.  Here’s just a short list of things happening outside of our facilities.  Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Israel, China, North/South Korea, Healthcare, the economy, homelessness in our state, around 115,000 children waiting to be adopted in the US, joblessness in each of our towns, AIDS children in Africa, Haiti refugee camps…the list could go on.  And each of us have our own lives and circles of influence as well.  Each of us could list things like hurting families we personally know, people who are ill, kids who are neglected, young moms needing support and direction, hunger, illiteracy, divorcing couples, … and you could add so much more to this list.

Salt and Light.  Jesus discusses these two simple things and applies them to His followers’ lives.  Jesus wants His followers to be like usable salt.  In that day and age, people would have used salt for food flavoring and preservation.  We don’t want to head into a discussion about salt here, but Jesus wants us to be used like good, usable salt is.  There is corruption in the world…we can prevent corruption.  Sometimes people don’t see the fullness of life possible in Christ.  They’re stuck in the ‘day to day.’  Salt flavors.  Can we bring flavor…maybe a smile or a sense of happiness…maybe even peace to someone’s life?  Light is mentioned next.  Jesus states it plainly by saying that you don’t light up a candle and then hide it.  Light is used to see, to find, and to guide.  Are we helping people see through the darkness of their lives?  Are we helping them find the new life that Jesus has planned for them?  Are we guiding?  The light is in us…are we hiding it?

To tell you the truth, being salt and light to the world where we live…our school, workplace, church family…takes huge commitment and sacrifice.  Jesus said that people will know Him through our love.  Our love is salt and light to a world that seems to be caving in.  Being salt and light will take huge sacrifice.  It will take changing how you look at the world.  It will take changing how you see yourself in God’s Kingdom…right now…today.  It will take action and trust and forgiveness and a large dose of grace.

A picture that has spoken to me…and caused me to struggle…is of Christians in Egypt guarding Muslims during their time of prayer.  Here are direct links to the pictures.  http://yfrog.com/h02gvclj & http://yfrog.com/h24n34j Rioters were present and Christians devoted themselves to the Muslim’s safety as they knelt to the East to pray.  I know…we have huge differences.  I know that we worship the one true God.  I know that they, Muslims, need forgiveness through Jesus as anyone else does.  Is this grace in a photo?  These Christian men are risking lives to guard someone…I’m not sure that it really matters who.  Obviously it doesn’t because Christians and Muslims are usually debating and arguing and fighting.  But here we see Light and Salt.  My wonder is how many Muslims looked at these men and ask, “Why would they do such a thing?”  Answer?  Jesus said to be salt and light in a dying world.  “…Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).  Their good deed?  Protect their neighbor…even if they don’t worship Jesus as Lord.

Who are the people you are guarding this week?  Who are the people you are sacrificing for?  Who are the ones you are praying for?  Who are the ones you are spending extra time with?  Who are the ones that you feel God is asking you to serve?  Will you be open to God bringing to your awareness the people He is wanting you to love, serve and extend grace to?  Will you be ready to give?  Who will know more about God because of your love?

This is not easy.  I’m not saying I have all the answers.  But I believe God is beginning to move the American church into places we haven’t been before…places we haven’t chosen to go.  I believe there are a bunch of us out there wanting those moments where we stand in love, like those Egyptian Christians.  I picture a Kingdom that is moving without hesitation.  I want to be part of something like that…and I believe each of you do as well.  Jesus said that there is nothing that will stop His church, His family.  We have absolutely no reason to be afraid. The battle has been won.  Victory is already ours.  Our eternal life started the minute we confessed our belief in Jesus.  We have nothing to lose.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Getting Dunked

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Having an allergic reaction to something…I’m stoked up on Benedryl right now…so I have no idea if this will have the normal 100’s of spelling errors or 1000’s.  🙂

We’re going to jump right into this one.  The coming of Jesus ushered in a whole new season in the timeline of history.  It was talked about all through the Old Testament.  Malachi calls it the Great Day of the Lord.  In my estimation, he may have very well called it the Greatest day of the Lord.  It was the day Jesus became priest and king over a new Kingdom being born.

In the Old Testament, a priest could only go before God after ceremonially washing…a baptism of sorts (Numbers 19:7-9, Exodus 19:5-15).  It was a picture of coming clean before entering the presence of God.  God instructed his people (His chosen Priesthood) to clean up before coming before Him.  He instructed His priests of the O.T. to wash and be patient for a time before coming before Him…He is Holy.  We are not.

Does water wash away sin?  No.  There is nothing magical in water.  It is the act of being obedient to what God asks that takes away sin.  Other than that, I can’t explain it.  As Forest Gump wisely said, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Jesus chose to be baptized.  He was becoming our Priest…The Priest of priests.  He carried the Good News from the Father to us so that we might carry it and give it away as well.  We are therefore…priests (1 Peter 2:5, Numbers 19:7-9).  We need to walk the same path as the priests before us.  As Jesus put it, ““Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).   As we are baptized, we are fulfilling the prophesies of the O.T.  Way cool!  You’re baptism was talked about thousands of years ago!

So what is the Great Day?  It is the day when God’s Kingdom was established with a new High Priest…Jesus.  It is also the day you enter that Kingdom as a priest of the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Baptism is a picture of getting “cleaned up” as you come before God to serve His Son the King.  It is a picture of a crossing-over.  You are making your mark before men.  It’s something to put on the calendar.  It’s a picture of you putting away, actually putting to death..killing and burying the old self and having the NEW person rise (Romans 6:4).  God then creates something new in us.  Again, does the water do that?  No, God does all this through our obedience to do something radical for Him.

Wow, you might be asking, “Am I that important?”  Yes, you are that important in the Kingdom.  God calls you to be a priest.  You’re not just a church service attendee anymore.  You’re not just a “member” of your local church family.  You are part of God’s Kingdom.  You now carry the holiest of all things, the truth of salvation.  You…as you go through your day are a priest!  You’re not just the lady who works in a cubicle.  You are a cubicle working priest in the Kingdom.  You’re not just a student.  You’re a student and a priest under the direction of the creator of the universe.  If that doesn’t “WoW” you I’m not sure what else can.  You are in the Kingdom led by a person that died and then came back to life.  You are in a Kingdom with a God who gives you His spirit so that you have access to His power, wisdom, words, strength, courage, emotional stability, and more each and every minute of every day.  Yes, He gives it all to you so you can use it.  Are you using it?  Do you see miracles around you…simply because you’re there?  It is possible…the Bible says so.  Jesus said, “…anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father” John 14:12.

Why should you choose baptism?  Well, I like to look at things simply.  If the Bible asks us to do it (Acts 2:38), and Jesus said it was good for us to do (Matthew 3:15), it’s good enough for me.  It was good enough for new believers in the New Testament to do, and it’s probably good for me too.  Actually…it’s something I do to show God I trust Him…and that putting myself out there to say that He can trust me too.

If you’re not baptized, I hope you consider it.  It is something special between you and your Lord.  It is your ceremonial washing before you enter the priesthood of the Creator King.  Isn’t that cool!?

Questions to consider:

  • Why do we find debate about baptism?  If one reads…simply reads through the New Testament, one will find that baptism was the mark of the believers in the New Church.  It’s was Peter asked us to do.  It’s what Philip encouraged the Ethiopian to do.  It’s what Paul did and what he preached.  Why wouldn’t we do what Peter and Paul said to do?  People were asking them what they should do to become part of this incredible Kingdom.  Baptism was always a part of that new part of their life.
  • How can we make it more special and less “just part of” any church’s Sunday morning service?
  • Do you think it pleases our Lord when we just say, “Yes” to His requests no matter how weird they look?  Have you been willing?  This question goes beyond baptism.  It actually goes to all sorts of things that are going to look ‘foreign’ and ‘alien’ to the world we live in.  Baptism, as I read, is just the first step…the beginning.
  • Do we really understand why we need this picture of “becoming clean” before God?  Do we understand that we are going to be carrying the most Holy message ever to be placed in our hands?  Do we see how we need to have sin far from us so that we can be right there, close to God and His Spirit so we can be best directed anywhere we are whether at work, at school, driving down the exit ramp (Ted William’s Golden Voice story…wow!)  God’s redemptive work is happening all the time…He wants it to happen through you!  You’re incredibly and amazingly valuable to God.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

Christmas Began

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Hope – Luke 1:26-56

Where does your hope come from?

…some of you might have to look this one up.

Good King Wenceslas phoned Domino’s for a pizza.
The salesgirl asked him:
‘Do you want your usual? Deep pan, crisp and even?’

Hello everyone!  The songs are now on the radio 24/7.  Lights are up around all of our neighborhoods.  Tree farms are busy with families wanting to find the perfect evergreen.  Parents are watching their email for the UPS confirmation that the package is on its way.  Cookie cutters are out and in full use.  Kid’s wish lists are out and being revised nightly as new commercials hit the airwaves.  It can get busy…can’t it?

It all started here though.  Luke 1:26-56.  An angel was told, “The time has come, Gabriel.  Go and talk to Mary.”  Can you imagine God’s feeling?  Here it is.  The final piece of His Master Plan.  The Gospel is nearly complete.  Not only the ‘good news,’ but now the best news is about to be spread across humanity…His creation.  I guess I like looking at Christmas this way cause…wow, doesn’t it just make you smile?!  The best gift ever given is about to be handed to whoever wants it.  And He’s hoping everyone will accept it.

Mary.  She is on the receiving end of the most important news that Gabriel has probably ever carried for his Master.  Gabriel.  He gets to say the words, “You will have a son…God’s son….The redeemer of all mankind.”  As he finishes his message and leaves, I wonder what he felt.  He had just begun the process through which evil would be defeated for good.  Talk about having butterflies in your belly and a giddy smile on your face.  I can’t imagine the emotion!

And then, Mary is left alone…not quite alone…but in her own thoughts, to come to grasp with this.  She is the one who will be mommy to the savior of the world.  Yes, I would be scared out of my socks.  God is hoping that we accept His gift.  Mary is hoping this message is true.

Hope.  Do you have it?  Where’s it come from?  Can we lose it?  How do we get it?  I’m sure that Mary had those doubts rise up.  “I didn’t really see an angel.”  “I know my ancestry.  It matches.  But could it be?”  “Joseph isn’t going to believe me.”  “How?”  But all these questions and doubts and troubles can be pushed to the side because the news is from a Holy God who has never missed a beat.  He’s never broken a promise.  He’s never given up on His people.  With that news, this can make sense.  It is logical.  It’s not at all outside of His character.  Because we can see it like that, we see how Mary mustered up Hope.  Hope wasn’t about her.  It was all about the God she knew personally…they were friends.

Does your hope falter?  Does your hope rely on your smarts or success?  Does your hope rely on someone else…a friend, a boss, a relative?  Or does your hope reside in the One who is perfect and always has been?  He has a track record to believe in.  I’m sure that’s what kept Mary going.  She had been told the stories…she had told the stories…about this God who was hers.  She knew Him…not just about Him.  Hope was fixed.  She had peace.  I’m sure when it was settled in her heart, she felt just like Gabriel…some butterflies in her stomach and a giddy grin on her face.

God was finally coming to his people…

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

PS – Merry Christmas!  God sent love down so we could find life!

Categories: Bible Tags: , ,

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

 

 

“In God We Trust”

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

A Sunday School teacher, having trouble finding subjects to talk

about, was discussing with her class how Noah might have spent his

time on the Ark.

A girl volunteered, “Maybe he went fishing.”

A boy countered, “With only two worms????”

*************

Here’s a quote from John Adams in a letter to his wife dated July 3, 1776.

“It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be no blessings…But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence; in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”
John Adams, July 3, 1776

Did you catch that last sentence in the quote above? I’ll bet that Noah had many quotes very similar to that as he carried out God’s instructions to build the ark, enter the ark, and begin his stormy journey. His faith and hope was realized when the ark slowly rested on solid ground. We know that Noah had nothing but God on his mind when this happened because directly after the exit door opened, an altar was built in honor and praise of the one who brought the storm and kept a family safe through that storm. Noah firmly believed.

Do we firmly believe…even though Christianity may be “unfashionable”?

Do we just give lip service to our belief or does our very life reflect our heart’s secure hope? Do our words and our actions show a belief that someone would “write home about?” Or, do our words and actions seem current and fashionable? Do people see us living as though a flood is about to begin, or are do we look like the crowds around us?

Some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence have quotes referenced to them that speak of the treason their committing…treason befitting death at the hands of the British Monarchy. What is our risk of believing in the freedom that God has given us through Jesus? Some of these men were not full and complete Christian believers, but they all recognized that God has the only and best way to live and live together in community/country. They recognized His sovereignty. They recognized His plan for freedom. They recognized His Lordship. They recognized Him as Creator. Thus, they looked to Him in their time of need and direction. In God they trusted.

Noah trusted God no matter what happened…and God gives us a glimpse of the trust He has in us as well. If you’ve read Genesis chapter 8, you’ll see that at the end He promises to never flood the earth again…even though our ‘hearts are evil from childhood.’ We see here His love for us…even in our guilt. He recognizes the created potential in all of us. He made us like Him. His long term plan is for us to be with Him forever. For that plan to work out ‘perfectly’ Jesus had to be here as a sacrifice for our sins. This is the final reason that we have a God to believe in…to trust in. God sent Noah plans for an ark. God sent us Jesus.

This is basically one of those texts that is a story for life in general. Here’s a two part saying that I’m adding third part to. God either brings or allows storms to surround us. There are also storms that He asks us to jump into. In our lives there will be storms that God plans for our growth. There will also be storms from the enemy that God knows we can handle with His help. Then there are those storms of life where God simply says, “Get involved and make a difference…jump into it!” I can see from history that our founders jumped into a storm that was brewing. They could have just accepted the storm, but they took the storm to an entire new level for the Cause…and I believe…with the blessing of Providence.

Noah knew there was a storm coming. He obeyed God when the storm began. He trusted in God through it…and recognized and honored God for His faithfulness by way of an altar built with praising hands.

How do we teach our students…how do we lead our congregation to honor God through the storms that come and that we jump into? First, I think we need to do it through our very own lives. There has to be more than just sermons and lessons. People need to see us in the middle of the storm, surviving and trusting. Does that mean we make storms for ourselves? I don’t think so…but I think we should try to be open and honest to share our personal storms…as leaders…so others can follow our successes and be watchful when we fail. If we fail and a storm overtakes us for a time, people need to see us rise to the occasion…standing on the Trust and Faith we claim with our words.

Categories: trust Tags: , , , , ,
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