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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

 

It All Comes Down To This

August 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Could God have created a better ending?  I don’t think so.  In the beginning of this collection of books we have the words, “In the beginning God created…”  At the end we read the invitation, “Come!”  And in between we have tons of history, wisdom, explanation, direction, evidence, and instruction.  We see a story, His story, about His plan for His people.  Not all will choose to be His people…but the invitation is still given.  “Come!”

At many points in our lives we have those ‘Ah Ha!’ moments when we realize something is true.  John here, in Revelation 22, is coming to the end of the vision given to Him from above.  He is about to give this book, this letter if you will, to the churches that he was instructed to give it to (see chapters 2 & 3).  Something is near.  Something is coming soon.  The angel and the Spirit and Jesus say these phrases too many times for these readers to think this letter isn’t really for them but for believers way off in the future.  The time for them is now.  Ah Ha!

Jesus has given them constructive criticism.  He’s given them instruction.  He’s given them a road map about what’s going to happen soon, and then He ends with an invitation.  He’s not saying that they will be kept from the bad things pointed out in the book…but those things are earthly…persecution coming from the rulers at hand.  They are not of this world…John 15:19, Romans 12:2.  We’re not either.  We’re of another way and life if we’ve chosen Jesus.

So who is this invitation for in 22:17?  Well, I think this sentence contains two invitations.  What’s interesting here is that in the first half of 22:17, it states that the Spirit, the Bride (Jesus’ church) and those who hear all say “Come!”  I think this is the invitation for Jesus to come back and do what He says will be done in the first part of this letter.  In the timeline of the church at the point this vision is being given, the city of Jerusalem and the temple have not yet been destroyed.  If you think through what we’ve read in this letter so far, we’ve seen the holy city of Jerusalem move to become a description of Jesus’ bride, the church.  We’ve also seen the temple, where the Spirit dwells, move to a description of Jesus’ church as well.  And the church at that point in time, in John’s vision from Christ, is calling for Jesus to “Come!” and finish the work of the old covenant and to bring in the new one where God’s words will be written on our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31), where the church won’t be a place but a people (1 Corinthians 6), and when Jesus is the High priest and we are the priests beneath Him (1 Peter 2:5…notice the phrase ‘being built’).  John’s vision saw all this as though it had come to pass.  The destruction of the man made things had to take place so that the spirit made things could become evident.

This invitation is also for all those who wish to be a part of this new covenant…this new way of having a relationship with God.  The second half of 22:17 says that any who want to have this living water can have it….”Let all those who are thirsty come…”  This part of the invitation is for anyone this side of Heaven.  At one point in time though, we will no longer have the time to respond.

The next logical move for God is to bring those who have responded to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.  So our invitation to believe and follow ends with our last breath…and we don’t know when that will be.  It could also end if God chooses to move to the next big change tomorrow.

Here’s what it comes down to.  Have you responded?  This might sound harsh, but as I read it, waiting to answer is really a “no” answer.  Yes is the only way.  Do I understand how all of this will fall out?  Not a bit.  But I know what I read…and there is an end.

I made a decision when I was younger.  There’s been a few times when I’ve revisited that commitment and reaffirmed it.  But the point at which I crossed over the bold line in the sand, I entered eternity.  I started drinking the water of life at that point.  Death to my body won’t be to me…only to my skin, bones and bald head.  So what is your response?

If you’re reading this, you probably have some knowledge of God and Jesus.  Now you know a little bit more.  Maybe enough to make a decision…maybe enough to ask some more questions.  Either way…I hope that you move toward that water (v. 17).  I know many people are thirsty because they know there’s something more to life.  Well I’m here to tell you there is.  The lie is that this life on this planet is the end all.  But it’s not.  I can’t make the decision for you.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 that we only plant a seed.  God grows the seed in your life.  I hope I planted something…let it grow.  J

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

Here’s a great video.  Take the next 15 minutes and relax with God.

Make Your Move

August 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Part of the Titus Arch – depicting Romans returning with their spoils after destroying Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

I’m sure you’ve said the phrase, “I knew I shouldn’t have done that!”  It’s usually after you’re laying on the floor beside the ladder with the sticker on the second to last step that states DO NOT CLIMB ABOVE THIS STEP.  Or maybe it’s after that argument with a family member or coworker…just after those words flew out of your mouth while in your head you’re thinking ‘why am I saying this?’  Maybe it’s while you’re sitting on the side of the road with a car behind you…bright lights flashing…enough said.  Maybe you’ve said, “I knew I should have done that!” instead.  Like when you went to bed thinking I should go to the computer and pay that one bill … midnight passed and the creditor tacked on a late fee.  Or you find out that one of your friends needed some help … and for some reason you didn’t call them when they were seriously on your mind the day before.

Present day situation.  Did you hear of the man in Alabama who just before he drove off a cliff, texted this to a friend: “I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.”  Now the man is alive, but with a crushed face, broken neck and a fractured skull.  He knew.  He knew ….but still went ahead.

Revelation is an uplifting book to those who know they are in the hand of God.  Yes, we may see tough times and persecution and there may be people against us…but in the end…we win!  It’s already determined who the trophy goes to.  Jesus.  However, throughout the book Christ continues to tell the churches and individuals who have an ear to hear, to start following and obeying or to start again.  They are without excuse.  These readers, who are soon going to experience a situation where their very lives are a stake, are encouraged to not worry about their lives if they are following Christ.

In Revelation 22:10-16, we get the picture that John is kneeling before two figures.  One – the angel who just told John not to bow to him (vs. 9).  And Jesus, who is now going to speak…almost as in wrapping up the whole vision John’s been privileged to see.  But, the point isn’t that John was just invited up to “see” what’s going on.  The point is to have John see…and record…and deliver this message to a group of people.  The message is simple too all of us and the readers in that age.  Jesus wins.  The message for those readers specifically was, there is trouble in the near future, but don’t worry.

But between the messages to those receiving churches and us today, we see a slightly bigger theme.  Remember the man in Alabama?  Knew he was in the danger zone when texting and driving.  The message the angel and Jesus gives here is…you now know what you need to do.  At the end, there is no second chance.  For many in that time…the end was very near as Rome’s plans to annihilate Jerusalem, and the Christians with it in 70AD, were well underway.  If they were killed then, and were a believer and follower of Jesus, they were safe even though they face physical death.  They still would overcome this world.  Today, when our last breath has been taken, it’s over.  The man in the truck had the chance to stop texting because he knew the present dangers it presented.  You know what you need to do with your relationship with Jesus.  Make your move towards Jesus before there’s no more moves to be made.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

A Father’s Real Goal


Happy Father’s Day to all dad’s out there including my own.  I’m a dad myself, so the constant struggles and stresses of being a dad are constantly battling in my soul as well.  But there are lots of joys too.  This year I get to run with my son early on this Sunday morning.  Micah and I are going to be involved in the Canton Marathon.  We are both participating in the 10K.  Hopefully the rest of my family will be at the finish line to carry me off after I collapse.  Haha!

So what is dad’s role?  Through the years I’ve had lots of assumptions.  I’ve looked at my own experience growing up as a kid.  I’ve listened to old family stories from before I was born about what dads and grandpas did.  I’ve watched other dad’s as they walked this sometimes curvy road.  I’ve heard speeches and conferences and seminars about it.  Read books about it.  I’ve talked with many kids through 23 years of ministry about personal struggles with their dads.  Some stories are similar, but never are two the same.  I’ve also read the Bible about fatherhood.  It actually has a lot to say.  But when you put God’s expectations against what “experts” in our modern times say a dad’s role is, you get very different opinions.

Today’s wisdom says to be there for your kids.  Take time with your kids.  Both very true…but the media takes it further to define what success for a dad should be.  They show guys going after the big job with big money for the family.  I sometimes get the feeling that if a dad can’t afford a Disneyland vacation then he hasn’t provided well.  Some commercials talk about doing the things for the family that they ‘deserve.’  I heard one network marketer say that a few years of hard long-hour work, sacrificing time with your family, might pay off in the end with reward (meaning $$$).  Ok…what happens if you have a heart attack at 1.5 years into that plan?

Now, don’t get me wrong or hear what I’m not saying.  Sometimes there is time for hard work and sacrifice to supply a family with the necessities of life.  The Bible says that work puts food on the table (Proverbs 12:11, 14:23).  And…some of that time will be away from family.  But the chasing after riches is another thing that our society and media claims good.  The Bible is pretty clear on this too.  Hard work will be rewarded.  Yet I see dad’s who still struggle even when they are providing for their kids.  Some do so well they are providing for the great-grandkids yet there isn’t peace in their soul.  So…does the absence of this “peace” have anything to do with what many of us dads miss?

Why are we like this?  There’s one thing in the Bible that many of us dad’s overlook.  It has to do with raising Godly kids.  The question that is always there isn’t, “Have we done enough to support our family?”  It is, “Will our kids be in Heaven with us?”  A second closely follows, “Will they be bringing people with them as well?”

Moses had to feel incredible dad-like pressure when he led his family, and his nation, out of Egypt.  He was leading them, at God’s command and with His power and authority, from slavery into freedom.  Moses was the man looked to for wisdom.  Moses was looked to as the man who knew God and talked with God.  Through this and the various struggles, Moses saw clearly what was and was not important as he led his family, and God’s family, towards the Promised Land.  Isn’t that kinda like us dad’s today too?  We are to lead our family towards Heaven…towards God himself.  God places us in this spot and gives us all the tools to do it.  We need to learn how to use some of the tools, but they’re all there waiting to be picked up.

Moses’ big warning is this though.  He warns us to never forget about God.  He asks us, as parents, to remind our kids all the time about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  He encourages us to talk about God all the time when we’re walking, working, eating breakfast or getting ready for bed.  Moses knew this one thing, if we slightly forget about God, we will start to search after things not of Him.  If we lose track of God and His goal of having everyone with Him in Heaven, then we start to form our own goals and strategies for “successful living.”  Moses saw how dangerous it is to forget about God. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:12, 8:11).

So what’s this mean for us dad’s today?  I see two goals.  One, we want to do what we can to set our kids up to make the choice to follow God.  The tough part here?  We can’t make the choice for them, but we don’t want to fail on our part of the equation.  Secondly, we want to disciple our kids so that they know how to lead others to Heaven as well.  In the end, it really won’t matter where we’ve worked or how much money we’ve made or spent or what our degree is.  It won’t matter if our kids went to the right college or won all the races or got all the trophies.  What will matter is, whatever we or they choose to do, that we all did it remembering God and His principles, followed His direction,  chose His son as our Savior and chose to share Jesus with others.  Here’s how I know this.  Our Heavenly Father’s goal is plain.  He wants us in Heaven with Him.  He’s wants this so much that He asked His own son to die to make the way.

Let’s all try to set our goal and change our approaches so that our biggest endeavor is to take our family and friends to Heaven.  Tough?  Yes.  Rewarding?  Eternally.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

How would he take you out?

May 25, 2012 5 comments

I was faced with a serious question the other day.  It was from an article I stumbled across while on a Christian leadership website.  I’m going to ask you this question…and you need to answer personally and honestly.  I’m then going to ask you the same question in a couple of different contexts.

* How would our common enemy, Satan, take you out, rendering you unable to serve your family and your community?

That’s a very personal question.  But how would he take you out?  What gimmicks would he use?  What are your weaknesses?  This question isn’t just a “how are you tempted most?” question.  How would he take you out?  How would he destroy your service to God?

*How would our common enemy, Satan, take out our church family, rendering us unable to serve each other and the people around us?

This changes things just a bit because now we’re pushed to take a peek inside our local church family.  How would our enemy try to destroy our church families?  How would he get us off track?  What lies would he tell us?  What goals would he give us that are not what Christ wants at the top of our families’ agendas?

*If he could stop or hinder our discipleship process, our raising up of active believers in Jesus and his purpose, how would he do it?

This question makes one assumption…that we’re active in making disciples as Jesus instructs in Matthew 28:19-20.  Our purpose isn’t just to receive our ticket to Heaven and then decide to sit back and ride life away as though there are no expectations.  Maybe you haven’t looked at Christianity like this.  Satan loves to let Christians sit by without a feeling of daily purpose.  In this strategy, we lose the possibility of influencing others to choose Christ as well.

Bible focus: 1 Peter 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.

This stuff is tough!  I’m convicted.  When we forget we have an enemy that wants us to forget about God’s purpose for our lives, we tend to also forget about God.  Peter tells us to be aware that Satan loves for us to forget about him.  He encourages us to be on guard.  Being on guard means we’re also on purpose.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Article referenced, written by Mike Breen, can be found here:

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2012/02/02/obituary-for-the-american-church-mike-breen/

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

Beginning With the End in Mind

April 20, 2012 1 comment

Ok…here we go.  Diving into the book of Revelation.  This is not an easy thing to do, but as we read this letter of apocalypse, or revealing, that was sent to churches in John’s time, we get the sense that something big was soon to happen.

In Revelation 19:11-20, a picture is given that shows a battle to end all battles.   The King is out front on His white horse.  His armies are behind him.  John writes, just before this battle scene that doesn’t last long, that a wedding celebration has been prepared.  You see, before this wedding celebration can be completed, an enemy has to be taken care of.  Then and only then is the way for a true ‘coming together’ of bride (church) and groom (Jesus) possible.

If you know a little bit about the Bible you’ll probably recognize the concept of the church being called the ‘bride’ of Jesus.  Ephesians 5:22-32 shows this pretty simply.  Here in this section of Revelation, we see this wedding coming together.  As the wedding is coming together, we see this final battle being staged.  Lines are drawn.  The Beast…you can guess who this is…brings together his armies and readies himself for battle.  Then, as though the battle didn’t even start, the Beast is captured and thrown out and all his armies killed.  Tada!  The armies of the King didn’t even lift a sword!

So how many of you enjoy a good battle scene in an epic movie?  I can recall the battles of Braveheart, The Patriot, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Red Cliff and they are all really “guy” type movie scenes.  This is no different in 11-21.  We have our ‘good’ army!  Oh yeah!  They’re riding white horses like the King.  The army is wearing white clothes….and get this, the king’s robe has been dipped in blood!  The enemy’s leader is thrown into a lake of fire.  And then, to beat it all, birds devour the flesh of our King’s enemies after they’ve been killed.  Could you possibly fit any more testosterone into a battle scene?

I’m not sure why this picture was given like this…but remember, the readers were very familiar with all of these images.  This was the time of Roman conquest.  Leaders riding in on white horses with swords were common.  If you lived in an occupied city, you saw these images daily.  Many of the men reading this letter from John, ultimately a letter from God Himself, had possibly seen hand to hand battle themselves as well as the “clean up” afterwards.  If they hadn’t seen it personally, they’d heard stories from family and ancestors.  But here, there is a battle about to take place the likes they had never seen before, and Jesus simply wants Christians everywhere to know that He wins…in essence…we win.

Here’s the concept.  We are joined to Christ.  We are part of Him.  We are His bride, the church.  Sure, there was an epic battle the original readers of Revelation witnessed and that Rome thought it won when it destroyed Jerusalem (70 AD).  But even today, as Christians, we battle the enemy every day.  We battle for ourselves and we battle for our family and friends.  We even battle for those that we do not know.  We don’t do it on a battlefield of rolling hills and grass.  We do it in our homes, our schools, our workplaces.  We don’t use swords made of steal.  Our words and actions are used by the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The battle has already been won.  We simply are continuing to take as many as we can from the enemy while possible.  This world is not our home.  So this world’s death is not our end.  When we can come to that realization, we will live in full peace and love and power.


For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  

2 Timothy 1:7  King James 2000 Bible (©2003)


For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.   

Ephesians 6:12  New International Version (©1984)

 

I looked down, and I saw the beast I had seen earlier and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered together to wage war against the One riding the white horse and His heavenly army.

Revelation19:19  The Voice New Testament

Some questions for growth:

  • Do you consider yourself already recruited, dressed and outfitted for a battle that’s already been won?  If yes, how so?
  • Who around you can you see is falling prey to the enemy?  We know that the enemy is against us every minute of every day, but we’re also in the army to lead people to Christ.
  • What will you do this week to battle for yourself and someone else?

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

PS – I love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Here is an epic battle when one who was thought lost returns in a white robe to save his friends in battle.  Click here to see it.

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