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Hey…Over Here! Distracted?

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Ever ponder what Satan might personally be doing to you as enemy #1?  I have.  I mean, I know there are those weaknesses that we all have.  Might as well put a K-Mart flashing light on top of them and loudspeakers around them because everyone else knows them too.  But what about those things that we don’t see?  What about those subtle things?  What about the little things that keeps us from serving and glorifying God every day?  What about distraction?

 

Here’s a quote from a man who cut a guy’s ear off in a passionate attempt to protect his King, and then late that same night denied he even knew this King…3 times.  Peter says this in his first letter, 5:8, “Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.”  I think Peter knew a thing or two about how sneaky Satan can be and how weak we are in our flesh and bones.

 

So what might this prowling lion like to do with you?  How could he take you down?  How could he easily keep you busy or distracted so you don’t hear God well or see His direction?  How could he, Satan, cause us to think we’re doing “good” things yet neglect the “better” things God wants us to do?

 

Distraction is huge!  It doesn’t seem ‘evil’ does it?  Sometimes we’re distracted with things that seem very worthy in our eyes.  But remember, the devil doesn’t need us evil…he just needs us separated from our God.

 

 

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

 

The Church…God’s Dwelling Place


Presermon Notes
ed Barnes … June 21, 2012
Revelation 21:1-7

FYI…I’m writing these notes while sitting among 20,000 Christian brothers and sisters enjoying great and uplifting music at the Alive music festival…on a cell phone keypad to boot so there may be spelling errors galore.  Seeing this many people together, youth groups and families and church families alike, worshiping the same God through the Creator’s given art of music, reminds me of images in the book of Revelation.  Many times John gives us word pictures of the Kingdom worshipping their King.  

Revelation is challenging.  The mind images spoken to the New Testament church we’re privileged to see through the writings of John sometimes leave us dumbfounded.  However, this small section is repeating promises spoken in other sections of the Bible.  John 3:29 and Ephesians 5:25-27, and Ezekiel 37:23,27 strip away all things that we have created to try to explain or market the church.  We are something very special to Jesus, and sometimes I believe we try to do and create things to make ourselves noticeable to those around us…while forgetting who we really are. 

In the verse for the week we read the combination and repeat of the verses mentioned above.  We are one with Christ…which means we live with God and He with us.  We, the church, are his bride.  There is no physical city or temple that is Holy anymore.  We are chosen to be His dwelling place.  Through the Holy Spirit He is with us nearly as close as the Garden of Eden.  His spirit lives side by side with us.  We are the Kingdom.  It’s not.a place or a building.  The king lives in His people…the Kingdom.  This is what has been made new.  Before it wasn’t like this.  The temple had an address.  God had a room in that temple.  But now, through Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins that kept us from God, the Creator lives with His people.  And at some point in time this new way will be made perfect and we will see God and be with Him as it was in the beginning.

This is the church.  But so often we miss who we really are.  We talk.as though we go to church.  We attend church.  Our church has an address and phone number and maybe a website and email and a schedule of office hours when the church is either open or closed.  Many times a church has a name that is trendy and a stage with a light set and large screen video projection.

Our ministries might use these tools…but our church doesn’t ‘have them.’. Jesus’ body, His bride, is a people group connected spiritually to their God.  We already have a name.  We already have a purpose and marching orders and an end goal that defines our success.  And to those that join and overcome, the reward of living eternally with the One who made all things is given.  We are being made into that perfect city, the dwelling place of the Most High, the New Jerusalem.  It’s us.

If we truly understood that, how would that change how we daily live?  How would we make choices?  How would we raise our kids?  How would we spend our money?  What arguments would become ‘not worth it?’

The question is, do u simply attend this church?  Or are you His church?…the new and perfect city created as His dwelling place so all others will know about Him through us.

How will this description of the church in Revelation 21 change how you live this next week and on foward?  Because this verse is really God’s description of you if you choose it as your own.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,
ed

I think we’ve been lied to.


 

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible.

It’s all going to turn out all right.”

~ Billy Graham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a chance we’ve been lied to?  Do you think some, maybe with great intentions, have led us away from truth?  Do you think there could really be an ‘enemy’ with a plan to give us wrong definitions of things that seem good and worthy?  Do you think that we’d be able to see this lie as soon as it makes eye contact with us?  Or would we possibly be swayed into thinking it is honorable?

 

We’re in the middle of a politically charged election year.  Do you think that we’re going to hear fully the truth of anyone who’s running?  I’m not sure.  Each candidate, whatever office they’re running for, wants their best side to show…mistakes hidden.  We’re like that in a lot of ways as well.  We want people to know us for our strengths and not for our weaknesses.  In many ways we ‘advertise’ something we’re really not in order to please others or to feel good about ourselves.  We might not have evil objectives while doing this, but we act selfishly by nature.  We humans are fairly good at that at times.  There is goodness though that can shine through our darkness.

 

Sometimes organizations, governments and corporations tell us that they have the best ideas, products and plans for our lives.  They say we can depend on them to help us get through life.  And many times, that may be their aim…but is it really the truth?  The world would have us believe that its wisdom for our lives and for our families and for our businesses can provide security and success.  And again, maybe with the best intentions, people in the world lead us towards a lie.

 

“True love always protects, hopes, trusts and never gives up.”  Pieces of that last line have been used in greeting cards, love songs and by heroes in movies and books.  But it actually came from the pen of Paul as he described our living God.  If God is love, then it goes to show that God provides protection, provides complete hope, is completely trustworthy and is persistent to the end of His perfect plan.

 

Are there people who don’t believe in God that I can trust?  Sure there are.  Are there corporations that don’t know me personally but are trying to put out the best products to make my life better?  Absolutely.  Are there governments that truly want the best for their people, but don’t subscribe to a Creator God?  I certainly hope so.  Are there exceptions to what I’ve just said?  Yes, there are people and groups that are completely selfish and are only hungry for power and prestige.  They act with evil intent.  There are those that act to pull us away from truth, away from God, away from goodness and the felt need for forgiveness.  Plans such as these are evil.

 

There are governments that claim to protect us, and might do so here on this planet.  But they cannot provide eternal protection against Satan.  There are wise people and leaders we can trust.  But we cannot put our eternal soul in their trust because they are simply human and in need of the same forgiveness we need that only comes from a God we can trust.  There are family members and friends that we can put our hope in when they give us their word.  But God gives us a hope that is eternal…and Jesus provided a hope that conquers death itself.  There are people who will die for us, but there is already one who has died who didn’t need to.  Jesus was persistent unto death for our sake.  He took the pain.  He humbled himself, being Himself God, and was nailed to a piece of wood to die.  But that’s not the end of the story.  His resurrection over bodily death proved to us that He is someone who can protect our eternal soul.  He’s one to trust…He kept his word.  We can hope in His claim that one day we will be with Him forever…death doesn’t control Him…He hold the keys.  And we can persevere like He did because we know that this world isn’t really our home.

 

And here is the best part of all.  We as Christians have the opportunity every day to show people the truest and best one who can protect them, give them hope, something to trust in…simply a love that never gives up.  It’s like we’re warriors in a battle.  The world, as good as the world can get, cannot surpass God’s goodness.  And the evil one wants us to simply stop at the world’s goodness and call it a day.  See Satan doesn’t need us to be evil…he just needs us to deny God’s perfection and plan.  We can be really, really good people, and never truly show Jesus.  There’s the battle.  Everyday we’re able to show Jesus and His perfect love…we take the battle to the enemy.  And remember…the war is won.  As Billy Graham’s quote at the top of this article says, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”  Let’s share this with everyone we know.

 

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

 

 

Questions for Growth:

  • If God provides perfect protection, what does that look like?  And how do we share that protection with others?
  • If we can have perfect hope in God, what does that look like?  And how do we share that hope with others?
  • If God gives us something to trust in…why should we?  And how do we share with others that they can trust Him too?
  • What does persistent, never failing love look like?  What would that look like to our friends and family if we were to try and mimic that…to be like Jesus…to them?

 

Christian Parenting 101

January 31, 2012 1 comment

Parenting 101

Many of you are parents like me.  You struggle with your kids.  You struggle with what you think a ‘successful’ parent looks like.  You wonder if what you’re doing, saying, modeling, teaching is the right stuff.  You wonder if you’re kids are going to grow up messed up because of something you’ve done or a mistake you’ve made.  This is true of the single parent, the married parent, the divorced parent or the adoptive parent.  It doesn’t really matter…we worry about these things.  If you don’t worry, you may want to check your pulse…or I need a counseling session with you immediately…and I’ll be lying on the couch.

Sometimes I think we make parenting too complicated by focusing on the wrong things.  I’m not positive about this, but I’d hedge a bet that God has plans for us as parents.  Yes, I’m being sarcastic.  God has a pretty clear plan for parenting.  Does He give the details of what to do when you teen daughter is giving hints that a boy likes her?  No…other than “love is patient” and “do not murder.”  No specifics.  But, there are things that God does ask us to do…or hints at…in order to be successful.

Let’s look at the basics for humanity first.  It looks like we have two grand commandments that sum everything up.  Jesus said love God with all your heart mind and soul.  He also said for us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).  The first part of this is a quote from the Old Testament when Moses is telling the Israelites how to follow God.  In fact…get this now…Moses here speaks directly to parents!  He said, in Deuteronomy chapter 6, that there are some basics for living a life that would make God happy.  Here’s the synopsis.  Love God.  Know His ways well.  Follow His ways.  Don’t forget His ways.  Teach His ways to your kids.  Don’t let them forget His ways so that when they are parents they will follow His ways and teach them to their kids too.

Ok.  So here’s what I get.  Successful parenting ends up with us doing everything we can to help our kids know God and choose to follow Him.  Wow.  Doesn’t say anything about graduating with A’s or getting college scholarships or getting that “secure” job or even making it to the American dream.  In fact, the Bible never mentions any of that stuff.  It doesn’t mention becoming an All Ohio athlete or making Eagle Scout or deciding what your career will be by 18 years old.  It simply says help them know and understand God.  I guess if we can do that, God will lead them through the rest of that stuff.

Yes, this is messing me up.  However, I believe that it will take stress off too.  As American parents, we have expectations for our kids.  But guess what, God’s expectations for our kids aren’t unlike His expectations of kids who hide out to read the Bible in China.  They’re not any different than expectations for a new Christian teen that is the head of his household raising his younger siblings in Nigeria.  They’re not any different from His expectations of the kid who’s living in the Native American reservation in Arizona.

Let’s switch this around.  God’s expectations for us as parents aren’t any different than the parents who read His word in the slums of Mexico City.  They’re not any different for us than they are for the Amish mom who is growing up in a small town in Kentucky.   They’re not any different from those of the dad who is raising his teen in the village of a remote area who just received word of Jesus from a traveling missionary.  Are circumstances different?  Sure they are.  But the end result is not.  God wants us as parents to get our kids to know Him so well they want to bring all their friends to Heaven with them.  That’s God’s end goal.  God wants us to parent so that our kids are raised in, grow up in, and bring more people into the church…the body of Christ.

What will that take?  We need to know our Bible well.  We need to pray often.  We need to talk often of His word.  Will this require guts to change?  I think so.  But we are built and designed to do this.  This is what we were made for.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

****

Peter Pan + Pumpkins = Peter Pie Pan

Corn + Turkey = Cob-ble, Cob-ble

Burglar + Turkey = Robble! Robble!

Dizzy Person + Turkey = Wobble Wobble

Orange Vegetable + Green Vegetable = Pumpkin Pea

GPS Device + Thanksgiving Dinner = Tom Tom Turkey

UFO + Thanksgiving Fruit = Cranberry Saucer

****

 

I’m personally very ready for turkey.  I’m also ready for some down time.  Instead of writing a long article this week, I’m going to give you some quotes and phrases about Thanksgiving and  the attitude of gratefulness and a few thoughts of my own.  I know this, when we can do a good job of choosing the attitude of gratitude, we remember who’s world we live in, and how good He is to us.

 

  • Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…  Deuteronomy 8:11-14
  • I’m thankful that my well being is not dependent upon what happens to me, but rather how faithful my God is. ~Author Unknown
  • He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus
  • Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting. ~Author Unknown
  • To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it. ~Benjamin Franklin
  • Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. ~Jackie Windspear
  • O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness! ~William Shakespeare
  • The earth is the Lord ’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…Psalm 24:1

When we think of all we have, and realize that everything we have is from God, we should be compelled to be thankful.  Thankfulness is truly a chosen attitude.  When we forget, and claim success based on only our own efforts and work, we throw our hand to God and basically say, “I don’t need you.”  I’ve been there and done that.  What regret.  When ‘Ed’ acts like that, I hold onto a mindset that is limited only to my own little world.  And because of that I limit myself.  I carry the attitude that there is only so much of anything I need, and I need to work hard and fast for it.  When I get “it”…whatever “it” is…I then give myself the congrats because it was “me” who achieved.  That mindset also says that I can lose “it.”  I’m limited within my own strengths and weaknesses to gain or to keep or to lose.

 

However, if I keep the mindset that I am God’s child, and that my heavenly Father owns everything, then I have an attitude of abundance.  Everything around me is God’s and He shares it with me.  God is not limited.  If I need something…I said need and not want…God will provide as He sees fit.  And guess what, if appropriate, He blesses me with things and people and wants that I could have never expected nor obtained myself.  Now that doesn’t mean I get rich in cash…it just means that I’m rich in my mindset…I’m a child of the King.  So, rich or poor in the world’s eyes, I’m still blessed beyond measure.  The attitude of thanksgiving keeps me centered.  I have to choose it daily.

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

ed

 

 

What is your world view? – Money

November 5, 2011 1 comment

***

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to, after the worship service, ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

“Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently. “But you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.”

During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.”

At that moment, the substitute organist played “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!

***

What is a world view?  Let’s just get specific.  What is your world view?  Here’s a basic definition of the term:

…it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it.

A world view is the foundation of our life.  What we believe to be true shapes our morals and values.  Our morals and values then shape our behaviors and thoughts and words.  So what is your world view?  Do you have a God?  Who is this God?  How big is this God?  Is he just one of many?  Is he just a part of life or is he involved in all of life?  Whatever you believe to be true or not true of those questions determine how you live.

I am a Christian.  I hold true the belief that God is the creator of the universe.  Everything is his.  He creates and intimately knows each and every person who has, is and will be..although many do not believe him.  I believe that he has called us his children.  I believe that he has made one way for us to be back with him in a perfect and sinless environment.  I believe he has resourced us and will continue to resource us with what we need to live a full and peaceful life here, to serve others, and to help them see his ultimate and perfect plan.

Ok, there’s a snapshot of my belief.  Out of this framework of what I believe to be true about life, now and life after this body of mine ceases to live, I derive morals and values.  If I believe that God is the creator of all I see and holds my life in his hands, then it would hold true that I should value what he values.  My values and morals will be his.  Therefore, my actions should hold true to what I value.  People should be able to see my God’s character, values and morals reflected through my words and actions.

I hope that makes sense.  Again, what our world view is determines how we live life.  If my God were small and insignificant in my life…and I didn’t hold his views as true…then I would live life according to someone or something else’s values.  My actions and words would show that God isn’t important and that my ego or something else is.

How we view money and use money or abuse money show’s what we believe about God.  If God owns everything and everything is under his command, as he is sovereign, then it includes all my money…well not my money…his money.  I’m simply a steward of what he provides me.  I can do really stupid stuff with money…and he might allow me to mostly as ‘teachable moments.’  I can do really great things with money.  Money is just a tool, but it’s in The Creator’s tool box.

Here’s my view.  Money doesn’t turn the planet.  Many of us think and act like it does, but it doesn’t.  All the money is God’s, and if he needs it in a certain place at a certain time for a certain action, he can move it where it needs to go. However, if our world view is that money is essential to living, and it becomes bigger than God, then money will rule our world.  We will be influenced by it rather than controlling it as Dave Ramsey encourages.  We will be worried by the lack of it and enamored with dreams of having more of it.  As the Bible says:   For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1st Timothy 6:10

The last part of that verse doesn’t seem to peaceful to me.  Doesn’t sound like money brings contentment.  Doesn’t sound like money will fix things.  Can money be helpful in many circumstances?  Sure, but it is not the source of fixing…God is the source of fixing.  God is the source of all we need.  God is our Father and we are his children, and he wants us to trust Him in all things.  One of my favorite verses, probably my favorite, is this, “Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.”  That is from the mouth of God through his prophet Micah.  That’s what God desires from us.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for growth:

  • Write down your world view.  What do you believe to be true.  Where do your values come from?  Where do your actions point?
  • Pick someone apart from yourself.  Can you tell something about their world view by how they act and speak and think?  Remember, people daily evaluate your world view based on what you do and say and think as well.  Do you point to God?
  • Is money a big part of your world view?  Does your thoughts about money line up with God’s view of it?
  • Are you consumed with thoughts and worries and dreams about money?  Or, are you content with where you are and what you have…content enough to be focused on God goals?

 

Approaching God


Approaching God

***

An elderly gentleman passed his granddaughter’s room one night and overheard her repeating the alphabet in an oddly reverent way. What on earth are you up to?” he asked.
“I’m saying my prayers,” explained the little girl.
“But I can’t think of exactly the right words tonight, so I’m just saying all the letters. God will put them together for me, because He knows what I’m thinking.”

***

Who is God?  Jesus, when was talking to the disciples…and curious onlookers…He started right off with our approach.  Let’s define the word approach.  The dictionary says this, “…to come near or nearer to.”  That makes sense.  Jesus starts this section of His Sermon on the Mount with the assumption that the listeners already pray to God…want to get closer to Him…believe in Him.  He starts with, “And when you pray…” (Matthew 6).  Do you think it’s safe to say that Jesus instinctively knows that we want to get close or near to God?  I think so.  So he starts this model prayer with that in mind…our approach.

This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name…’

I divide chapter 6 verse 9 into 3 parts.  First things first.  He invites us to call His father by the same way He does.  Simply “Father.”  This is personal.  We know from Scripture that Jesus really is from Mary and God the Father, but He says we can call His own Father the same way.  I think this fact is easily glossed over.   Many of us have memorized this verse to the point that we don’t think about it.  We talk about the trilogy without thinking what the phrase “God the Father” really means.  We hear or say, “…in the name of the Father…the Son…and the Holy Spirit” during baptisms and don’t think twice that we’re actually saying that word…Father.  He is our Dad.  Jesus could easily say something different.  But He invites us to be his brother and sister when He invites us to call God our dad as well.

Second.  God is as close as a prayer…but for now, its not as close as He would like it to be.  It’s not “Our Father on Earth”…it is “in Heaven.”  There is a separation.  The separation had a cause.  The cause was and is sin.  Our Father is in a perfect place.  We are not.  God has a home that Jesus has already talked about throughout this message beginning in chapter 5.  From here on till His death and Resurrection, Jesus’ followers will hear so much more about Heaven.  It’s where our Dad is, and it’s where He wants us to be someday.  Ironically, the One speaking these words will become the way for us to get to the place where the phrase “Our Father in Heaven…” will change to “Our Father before us.”

Third.  God is our Father, but He is holy and His deserves to be feared.  Now, many of you will look at the word ‘fear’ and hear something that I’m not sure is Biblical.  Jesus does not want us to cower before our Father.  Jesus wants us to respect who He is.  In the Old Testament, God tells Moses His name.  It is simply ‘I Am.’  The Hebrews thought this name so Holy they didn’t even speak it.  They had seen God’s punishments against Pharaoh.  They had seen His fire and smoke on the mountain.  They daily saw the tower of fire and smoke when they camped around the tabernacle.  They knew…felt…and visibly saw the separation.  They knew God was holy and deserved respect.  Our approach to God, our Father, should be humble…knowing that we are creation and not creator, that we are sinful and He is perfect, that He is powerful and we are weak, and that He is judge and we need pardoned.  His name deserves honor, praise, dignity and respect.

Think about it.  Jesus, who was previously with the Father before His birth on this planet, is telling us the best and most wise and perfect way to come before God.  We should take note.  This approach that Christ gives us it not just in ‘form,’ it is for us to understand in our heart and mind.  Jesus wants us to know who God the Father really is.  This prayer defines God, us, and our basic need.

 

Questions for Growth:

  • How do you approach your Creator?  Humbly?  Sporadically?  Like Santa Clause?  Like one who holds your future?
  • After possibly seeing this verse in a new or expanded way, how do you plan to approach God?  Me…personally…I’m going to start with this model.  I can add to it, but if this is how Jesus said to do it, I think I’m starting with His plan.
  • Are there times when you pray that you feel closer to God?  What are you doing then that helps you?  What is your heart’s stance?
  • How will you approach the One you’re praying to next?
  • When will you start a different approach if you feel it’s necessary?  Tonight?

 

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

edbarnes

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