Monday, December 23, 2013

An Empty Chair at Christmas


emptychairSometimes the hope of Christmas is, “Next year all our troubles will be miles away.” That’s what the song says anyway, but many will not have a merry Christmas just because of that. They know it is not true. Many start with and cannot get past the empty chair—where their husband used to sit, where their daughter used to climb, where grandma used to stand to reach up high. Sure, the stores have been visited, and the goodies consumed, but joy will not be unmixed this season because someone isn’t there. Death has come and cast its shadow upon Christmas.

Lurking in this shadow is the great beast, depression—slithering through the house as the family arrives, waiting for an opportunity to steal your joy. Satan loves to use good memories to bring pain. The fond remembrance of how it used to be can become a sea of sadness because it will never be just like that again.

I can still remember Christmas as a boy and teenager when my grandpa was still alive. He would read from the Bible and pray and some years would surprise the family with interesting gifts that he wanted to keep at his house after you opened them. Unforgettable. He is easy to miss and it is not uncommon for the tears to flow while remembering how it was before he died. But he did die, and so did your sister, cousin or father. And people only die once so they are not coming back. Let the weight of death affect you.

I’m sure you have tried to lift it, and maybe you feel like this time of year is another opportunity to hopelessly carry the burden. The heaviness of death that Christmas has the tendency to bring is the reason Jesus came. After his birth, the murderous Herod called for all children around Bethlehem under the age of two to be killed when he could not find out exactly where Jesus was staying. Jeremiah prophesied, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more,” (Matt 2:18). This is the world that God entered, a world of horrifying fatality. A world that was broken and lost, estranged from God and spiraling downward into the depths of hell.

Into this blackness, the true light broke when God became a man. “Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” Jesus came to bring new birth, bind up the broken hearted and release the captives. He came because sin reigned in death. Both spiritually and physically, death had reign, and then Jesus came to beat down the old king. He was born so that “as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Rom 5:21). When Jesus came that man no more would die, he brought tidings of great joy. Grace has arrived.

Because death no longer rules, true joy cannot be swallowed by storm clouds of despair. This does not mean that there will be no tears this Christmas, that is still to come. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” (Rev 21:4). The former things in this glorious future are still our earthly reality. So we long for the end, the second advent of our Lord.

Jesus has come and provided rescue from sin and life eternal. Because death no longer rules, songs of a trouble free next year are not our hope. A humble man from Nazareth has lifted the burden of death from your shoulders, and is coming quickly to wipe all tears away. Our hope at Christmas is the One who experienced death to conquer it – forever.

- See more at: http://www.ccwtoday.org/an-empty-chair-at-christmas/#sthash.aBL4R5Bh.dpuf

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The "X" in Christmas

What Does the X in Xmas Mean" by R.C. Sproul

The X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ's name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, "Put Christ back into Christmas" as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

There's no X in Christmas
 
First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.
There's a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect
We don't see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.
 
X has a long and sacred history
 
The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That's how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There's a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.
 
Adapted from Now, That’s a Good Question! ©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.
      

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Christmas Birth


The account of Christ's birth in Luke 2 is an invitation to all of us to the Bethlehem Birthday.

1)  It is THE BIRTH OF A MAN-God in flesh with mucous in his nose & tied umbilically to a young Jewish virgin girl (Luke 2:7).

2)  It is THE BIRTH OF A MESSIAH- "unto you is born a Savior..Christ The Lord" The ONE & ONLY (Luke 2:1).

3)  It is THE BIRTH OF A MESSAGE-it is "good news of great joy for all people" (Luke 2 :10).

4)  It is THE BIRTH OF A MISSION-"on earth peace" (Luke 2:14) we are on mission to share there is no peace w/out the Prince of Peace

5)  It is THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT-He said "I will build my church"& 2,000yrs later this movement abides "til He comes".

6) It is THE BIRTH OF A MIRACLE-this virgin birth was a miracle but greatest of miracles is when He is born again in you.
 
(copied and shared)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Touch of God at Christmas


This is from a 60 Minutes broadcast from
several years ago. It’s an excerpt of what Harry Reasoner said around Christmas time that I want you to hear. Listen carefully – he said:

Eleven years ago I did a little Christmas piece and it seemed like a good idea to repeat it. The basis for this tremendous burst of buying things and gift buying and parties and near hysteria is a quiet event that Christians believe actually happened a long time ago. You can say that in all societies there has always been a midwinter festival and that many of the trappings of our Christmas are almost violently pagan. But you come back to the central fact of the day and the quietness of Christmas morning, the birth of God on earth.

It leaves you only three ways of accepting Christmas. One is cynically, as a time to make money and endorse the making of it. One is graciously, that’s the appropriate attitude for non-Christians who wish their fellow citizens all the joys to which their beliefs entitle them. And the third, of course, is reverently.

If this is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord of the universe in the form of a helpless babe, it is a very important day. It is a startling idea, of course. The whole story that a virgin was selected by God to bear his son as a way of showing his love and concern for man. It’s my guess that in spite of all the lip service given to it, it’s not an idea that has been popular with theologians. It is somewhat an illogical idea and theologians like logic almost as much as they like God. It’s so revolutionary, a thought that it probably could only come from God that is beyond logic and beyond theology. It is a magnificent appeal. Almost nobody has seen God and almost nobody has any real idea what he is like, and the truth is that among men the idea of seeing God suddenly and standing in a very bright light is not necessarily a completely comforting or appealing idea.

But everyone has seen babies and almost everyone likes them. If God wanted to be loved as well as feared, He moved correctly, for a baby growing up learns all about people. And if God wanted to be intimately a part of man, He moved correctly, for the experience of birth and family-hood is the most intimate and precious experience that any of us will ever have.

So it comes beyond logic. It is either a falsehood or it is the truest thing in the world. It is the story of the great innocence of God the baby. God in the power of man has such a dramatic shock toward the heart that if it is not true to Christians, then nothing is true.

So if a person is touched only once a year, the touching is still worth it. And maybe on some given Christmas some final quiet morning, that touch will take. The touch of God coming into this world as a vulnerable baby.

 Merry Christmas,
 Bro. Greg

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Advent Prayer for Our Kids and Grandkids

An Advent Prayer for Our Kids and Grandkids
 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:76-79

Dear Father, I often forget about the other special baby promised and delivered in the Advent story: John the Baptist—the forerunner, way-maker, and friend of the Bridegroom. As this Scripture reveals, his birth and life are a great testimony to the ways of the gospel.

Oh, to become a man like John the Baptist—whose joy was to become smaller in the world’s view that Jesus’ greatness might be seen by everyone. Oh, to be a parent like Zechariah, wanting only what you want for our kids and grandkids.

With palm’s up, Father, we relinquish our parenting agenda for the perfection of your plans. What better story could we write, or what other story would we choose, than for our kids to be a means by which your love and grace would impact the community and culture?

Father, we lift our kids and grandkids to you. For those who don’t yet rest in your grace, we ask you to bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus. For those who do know you, we pray that the gospel would go deeper and deeper into their hearts—assuring them of your tender mercies; granting them sufficient grace and wisdom for each season of life.

Father, as parents and grandparents, help us to live and love in such a way as to make the gospel attractive to our offspring. Free us from ways and words, which hide the beauty of Jesus. We want to be bridges of grace, not obstacles to faith. Grant us quicker repentances when we fail.

So our prayer for our kids and “grand’s” is the same one we offer for ourselves: Father, guide us into the heart and habits of the gospel; lead our feet more surely onto the path of peace; restore our first love for Jesus and daily love for everyone else.

So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ tender and triumphant.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Before Leaving Your Church

Before Leaving Your Church


Pastor, where is? why have they? are questions that are asked about church members who are here one Sunday, faithful until something happens, and then they stop attending. I've been a pastor long enough to know that everyone will leave their church at some point. Whether God calls us home to glory, move to another city, or decide to try a different local church, we are going to leave.

Leaving a local congregation should be one of the most difficult decisions we face. It should be filled with the recollection of our love for the saints, their love for us, our service together in the name of our Lord, and our sorrows and joys in the faith. A church is family and we ought never feel it easy to leave family–even an unhealthy family.

But we do sometimes find ourselves at that crossroads. When we’ve decided to leave, there are at least five things we want to do before we go.

1. Share Your Thinking/Reasons with the Leaders
You’ve no doubt been thinking of leaving for some time. In all likelihood you did not wake up with the sudden new thought, I think I’m going to find another church. The thought has been building for some time. You’ve been piling up observations, minor disappointments, major hurts and persistent longings. You’ve likely done that quietly, without talking to anyone. And you’ve likely kept your silence for good reasons. First, you thought perhaps the situation would change. If you kept quiet things would get better and you wouldn’t have caused a “stir” by saying anything. Then you kept quiet because you didn’t want to spread your concern to others or hurt anyone’s feelings. Finally, you kept quiet because you stopped believing any change was possible or forthcoming. Now, after all those silent months of stockpiling critiques, you’ve decided to leave.

But if you leave this way, you’re going to leave a ghost in the congregation. People will be haunted by your absence and wonder, What happened to them? Why did they leave? Then people feel abandoned and hurt.

There’s a better way to leave. Share your thinking with your leaders before you make the final decision. Let them shepherd you through your thoughts and reasons even i that means shepherding you to the next church. Two things will happen. You will benefit from their spiritual care (and perhaps even be surprised by their agreement or receptivity). And the church’s leader and congregation will benefit from your insight. There’s a way to leave a church that amounts to win-win rather than abandonment.

2. Resolve Any Outstanding Conflicts
I suspect I experience what a lot of pastors experience: persons coming to the church disgruntled with persons in their previous church without having done anything to resolve the conflict. They’re running from something rather than facing it. The something could be personal conflict, church discipline or theological strife. In either case, don’t leave your church before you’ve addressed the conflict. Obey our Lord’s instructions in Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15. Go and be reconciled to the best of your ability.
If you obey the Lord in this before moving on then everybody wins. Lord willing, you win your brother over and the relationship is mended. You may find you don’t have to leave at all and experience renewed joy in the church family you’ve already invested years of life with. Even if you still need or want to leave, you’ll experience freedom from guilt because you’ve “made every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). And your new church family will be able to receive you without the baggage associated with the previous church.

3. Express Your Appreciation for the Church’s Ministry in Your Life
When people leave suddenly and without conversation with the leaders of the church they very often fall prey to ingratitude. Having convinced themselves of all the problems in the church, they usually minimize the strengths and virtues of the church. Sadly, this is the way many of us work ourselves up to making major decisions–emphasize the negative and downplay the positives.

But truthfully, no true church is without significant positive qualities. Even the church at Corinth, with all their problems, could be commended for the “grace given you in Christ Jesus” (1:4), for having been “enriched in every way” (1:5), “not lack[ing] any spiritual gift as they eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (1:7), and being “the seal of [Paul's] apostleship in the Lord” (9:2). They had significant problems, but also much to commend. Though Paul heard things that he as an apostle should put in order, he nevertheless confirmed their testimony in Christ (1:6) and gave praise wherever appropriate.

We should celebrate God’s grace in a church long before we decide and actually leave. We should note the positive ways the church has impacted and blessed us spiritually. We should communicate that to our leaders and, where appropriate, to the body as a whole. I love those resignation letters that actually strengthen and edify the body because the brother/sister resigning “builds an Ebenezer” to God’s grace as they leave.

Please don’t make this a matter of soothing your conscience once you’ve decided to leave in an unhealthy way. Make this a matter of constant discipline in grace. Communicate appreciation before you decide to leave, as you’re thinking about leaving, and once you do leave. Our churches would be far healthier and more joyful if they were communities of gracious affirmation and appreciation.

4. Say “Goodbye” to Friends and Family
Unless we’ve been unusually isolated in our church families, chances are we have some significant family and friends who will remain in the church. They mean a great deal to us and they’re likely to be affected by our leaving. These are people you want to say your “goodbyes” to in person. You don’t want them to hear you’re leaving or have left on the floor of a members’ meeting. You don’t want to inadvertently suggest their friendship doesn’t or hasn’t meant much to you. You don’t want them wondering whether you actually loved them. You don’t want things to be awkward when you see them out and about in the community.

Instead, you want them to be affirmed in and by your love. You want them to know you will carry them in your affections though you’re going to settle into a new communion. You want them to know, circumstances permitting, that the friendship will continue and you’ll always be brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, include some personal time with friends and family before you actually leave the church. Invite them to your home or to coffee. Share with them your appreciation and your hopes as you move forward. Most will understand and be happy for you, even if they’re sad for themselves and their church. Such mourning and rejoicing are part of what it means to be the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27).

5. Be Honest with Yourself about Your Own Efforts, Motives and Failings
Leaving a church ought to be cause for self-examination. We ought to get the log out of our own eyes before focusing on the speck in the church’s eye (Matt. 7:3-4). This is hard, slow work–and most people skip it. It’s so easy to assume the purity of our own motives, to view ourselves as victims or martyrs, and to trivialize our many failings.

But integrity requires we be honest with the man in the mirror. Why are we thinking of leaving? What really motivates our assessment and desires? How have we contributed to the problems and feelings we’re finding so dissatisfying or hurtful? Have we taken full responsibility in confession, repentance and action?

We’re not honestly ready to leave and our churches are not ready for us to leave until we’ve gotten before the Lord with transparency, humility and ruthlessness with our own sin and flesh. But, if we muster such honesty, it will lead to our increased sanctification and joy.

CONCLUSION
Leaving a church can be a means of grace rather than a source of pain for everyone involved. But for grace to be multiplied we’ll have to do some things before we decide to leave and actually exit. Receiving this grace will require putting to death the fear of man and believing that God exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6). If you are thinking of leaving, think of how you will leave. It could make a positive difference for you, your friends, your current and your future churches.

(copied from here )

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spiritual Bucket List by James Emery White

Vol. 9, No. 86 

Bucket List
 
Have you ever heard the phrase “bucket list?”
It means the things you want to do before you before you “kick the bucket.”
 
I recently read an article titled “The Before You’re Forty Bucketlist.”  It was a decent list, full of things both spiritual (read the bible) and temporal (watch every film on the AFI top 100 list).
 
It got me thinking what a bucket list should entail for someone who is already a follower of Christ (becoming one would be, of course, the only bucket list item that would matter).  After all, we are not to count this life for much beyond personal preparation for eternity and making an eternal difference on others.
 
So what would a top-ten bucket list in that spirit contain?
 
Here’s my shot.
 
1.   Build a relationship with a non-Christian and share your faith in Christ.
2.   Trust God financially in terms of giving.
3.   Take at least one bungee-jump of faith related to obedience.
4.   Love someone to the point of sacrifice.
5.   Discover your spiritual gift(s) and serve accordingly.
6.   Make one spiritual pilgrimage
       (see A Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom, InterVarsity Press, for some ideas).
7.   Read the Bible in its entirety.
8.   Mentor someone new to the faith.
9.   Find a church home and invest yourself in its community and mission.
10. Serve the poorest of the poor.
 
Let me know what you think I missed.  But if I can have those ten things crossed off,
…it would have been a good and God-honoring life.
 
James Emery White

 
Sources
“The Before You're 40 Bucketlist,” Jesse Carey, Relevant, October 13, 2013, read online.
James Emery White, A Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom (InterVarsity Press).
 
  
Editor’s Note
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press).  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Sent into the Harvest: Halloween on Mission by David Mathis

What if a crisp October wind blew through “the way we’ve always done things” at Halloween? What if the Spirit stirred in us a new perspective on October 31? What if dads led their households in a fresh approach to Halloween as Christians on mission?

What if spreading a passion for God’s supremacy in all things included Halloween — that amalgamation of wickedness now the second-largest commercial holiday in the West?

Loving Others and Extending Grace

What if we didn’t think of ourselves as “in the world, but not of it,” but rather, as Jesus says in John 17, “not of the world, but sent into it”?

And what if that led us to move beyond our squabbles about whether or not we’re free to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, and the main issue became whether our enjoyment of Jesus and his victory over Satan and the powers of darkness might incline us to think less about our private enjoyments and more about how we might love others?

What if we took Halloween captive — along with “every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5) — as an opportunity for gospel advance and bringing true joy to the unbelieving?

And what if those of us taking this fresh approach to Halloween recognized that Christians hold a variety of views about Halloween, and we gave grace to those who see the day differently than we do?

Without Naiveté or Retreat

What if we didn’t merely go with the societal flow and unwittingly float with the cultural tide into and out of yet another Halloween? What if we didn’t observe the day with the same naïveté as our unbelieving neighbors and coworkers?

And what if we didn’t overreact to such nonchalance by simply withdrawing?

What if Halloween wasn’t a night when Christians retreated in disapproval, but an occasion for storming the gates of hell?

The Gospel Trick

What if we ran Halloween through the grid of the gospel and pondered whether there might be a third path beyond naïveté and retreat?

What if we took the perspective that all of life, Halloween included, is an opportunity for gospel advance?

What if we saw Halloween not as a retreat but as a kind of gospel trick — an occasion to extend Christ’s cause on precisely the night when Satan may feel his strongest?

What if we took to the offensive on Halloween?

Isn’t this how our God loves to show himself mighty? Just when the devil has a good head of steam, God, like a skilled ninja, uses the adversary’s body weight against him. It’s Satan’s own inertia that drives the stake into his heart. Just like the cross. It’s a kind of divine “trick”: Precisely when the demonic community thinks for sure they have Jesus cornered, he delivers the deathblow. Wasn’t it a Halloween-like gathering of darkness and demonic festival at Golgotha, the place of the Skull, when the God-man “disarmed the powers and authorities [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them” at the cross (Colossians 2:15)?

Marching on Hell

What if we were reminded that Jesus, our invincible hero, will soon crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20)?

What if we really believed deep down that our Jesus has promised with absolute certainty, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

What if we realized that the gates-of-hell thing isn’t a picture of a defensive church straining to hold back the progressing Satanic legions, but rather an offensive church, on the move, advancing against the cowering, cornered kingdom of darkness?

What if the church is the side building the siegeworks?

What if the church is marching forward, and Jesus is leading his church on an aggressive campaign against the stationary and soon-to-collapse gates of hell?

What if we didn’t let Halloween convince us for a minute that it’s otherwise?

What if Ephesians 6:12 reminded us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic power over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”?

What if we remembered that it’s not our increasingly post-Christian society’s Halloween revelers who are our enemies, but that our real adversary is the one who has blinded them, and that we spite Satan as we rescue unbelievers with the word of the cross?

Resisting the Devil

What posture would Jesus have us take when we are told that our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)? Naïveté? Retreat?

Rather: “Resist him, firm in your faith” (verse 9).

What if we had the gospel gall to trust Jesus for this promise: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)?

And what if resistance meant not only holding our ground, but taking his?

What if we hallowed Jesus at Halloween by pursuing gospel advance and going lovingly on the attack?

What if, like Martin Luther, we didn’t cower in fear, but saw October 31 as a chance to serve notice to the threshold of evil? What if we didn’t turn out our lights as if hiding, but left a flaming bag on the very doorstep of the King of Darkness himself?

Orienting on Others

What if we saw October 31 not merely as an occasion for asking self-oriented questions about our participation (whether we should or shouldn’t dress the kids up or carve pumpkins), but for pursuing others-oriented acts of love?

What if we capitalized on the opportunity to take a step forward in an ongoing process of witnessing to our neighbors, co-workers, and extended families about who Jesus is and what he accomplished at Calvary for the wicked like us?

What if we resolved not to join the darkness by keeping our porch lights off?

What if we didn’t deadbolt our doors, but handed out the best treats in the neighborhood as a faint echo of the kind of grace our Father extends to us sinners?

Giving the Good Candy

What if thinking evangelistically about Halloween didn’t mean dropping tracts into children’s bags, but the good candy — and seeing the evening as an opportunity to cultivate relationships with the unbelieving as part of an ongoing process in which we plainly identify with Jesus, get to know them well, and personally speak the good news of our Savior into their lives?

And what if we made sure to keep reminding ourselves that our supreme treasure isn’t our subjective zeal for the mission, but our Jesus and his objective accomplishment for us?

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. – Jesus in Matthew 9:37–38

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You Are My Pastor


You Are My Pastor
Thanks to Thom Rainer for this post.  I repost it for all my pastor friends out there....


You are my pastor. You are not perfect. You get frustrated like everyone else. You don’t always say exactly what you should say. You do indeed make some mistakes. On that reality you readily agree.
But your imperfections are often magnified in the light of your leadership role. When you please one congregant, you often displease another. You can’t make everyone happy, and you hear criticisms more times than most of us could endure.
You Are My Pastor Who Loves
Despite your imperfections and the critics who vocalize them, you still love the people in the church you serve. You sat by that man whose surgery was a matter of life and death. You gave him the assurance that God would be with him. Your presence gave him the calm and peace he needed to come through the procedure safely.
You also met with that homeless man who came to the church. You could have ignored him, but you saw him as one of “the least of these.” You ministered to him. You gave him food. You found a place for him to stay. And you shared the gospel of Christ with him.
You are my pastor who takes calls in the middle of the night. You were awakened abruptly by the teenager’s parents when he was in the terrible automobile accident. You arrived at the hospital in time for his mom and dad to fall on your shoulders when the doctor said he didn’t make it.
They wept. And so did you.
You Are My Pastor Who Preaches
Every week, you must listen to God and study His Word. You work hours to prepare that message. You love the people so much that you want them to hear God’s Word for their lives.
You approach the pulpit pleading with God to speak through you. Even though you have spent hours in sermon preparation, you want the message to be His, not yours.
You Are My Pastor Who Balances
I don’t know how you do it. The demands on your life are endless. Everyone wants you at that function. Everyone wants you in that meeting. Everyone expects you to make that visit. You wonder what it would be like just to work 40 hours a week.
But you have a family that needs you. You often worry that you are neglecting them for the greater family of the church you serve. And at times you do. But somehow you ultimately balance your life so that you can date your wife and watch your kids play ball.
But your life is out of balance because you don’t rest sufficiently. You give your all to others and save little for yourself.
You Are My Pastor Who Is Called
Why do you do it? There are so many jobs where the hours are better, the critics are fewer, and the pay is higher. When you are confronted with that question, you simply smile. You do what you do because you know God has called you to do it. And you know you couldn’t do what you do unless He called you.
You are my pastor.
You have one of the toughest jobs in the world. Let me say it better. You have an impossible job unless God is in it. You therefore depend upon His strength and rest in His call every day.
You are my pastor.
Too often I take you for granted. Too often I tell you what’s wrong instead of telling you how much I love you. Too often I forget that you are a human with feelings that hurt and eyes that cry. Too often I ask you to meet my needs instead of looking to meet yours.
You are my pastor.
I salute you. I thank you. And I pray for you.
May these few words be a reminder to you that we in the church do love you. We do not say it enough, but we love you.
Thank you for being my pastor.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Recall Notice

RECALL NOTICE
 
The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.
 
This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype unit’s code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.
 
This defect has been identified as "Subsequential Internal Non-morality," more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed. 
Some of the symptoms include:

1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion
 
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect.
 
The Repair Technician, JESUS, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required.
 
The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.
Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through theREPENTANCE procedure.
 
Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. 

No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control

Please see the operating manual, theB.I.B.L.E. (BEST Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.
 
WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list, and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, call on Jesus

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility. Thank you for your attention!
- GOD 
P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by 'Knee mail'! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Spiritual Surge

It's Summer Time! We welcome this time of year because we all need“a change of pace.” Longer days permit us more leisure time after work, more opportunities to hit the lake or the park. Most will take needed vacation time away at a park, beach, or mountains. These are times that families make life-long memories, not to mention the simple benefit of “a change of pace”that can simply rejuvenate us emotionally, physically, and relationally.

Yet, in the midst of all this good, most churches suffer during the summer. Lower attendance, lower offerings, less contact with one another during the week, and sadly, less consistence with our walk in the Spirit.

How can this be a Summer Surge instead of summer slump? To paraphrase Jesus, “what does it gain a family to win great family time, family memories and yet lose their spiritual vitality?”

May I propose two visions for a Summer Surge for our body of believers and for us as individuals?

As a body of believers
1. Be present at the church’s gatherings when you are in town. 
    Everybody will be gone some during the summer and that is encouraged. But when you are in   
    town on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, be in attendance. Don’t begin to “forget” its
    Sunday or Wednesday and drift in your attendance.
 
2. Stay current on your financial giving. 
    Summers are expensive to our families, but the financial needs of the church do not stop, and more
    importantly, your commitment to the Lord to honor Him with your giving can not be substituted
    or another good commitment, even if it is family and fun.
The biggest challenge will be not to forget to give our tithes and offerings either in advance of us being gone or to catch up when we return. You may also give online through our web site. Don’t let our church’s ministries suffer, and more importantly, don’t lose the practice of obeying God.

3. When you are away, catch up spiritually with the church. 
   You can download the Pastor’s sermon on ITunes or check his blog for an audio of the message. I
   am going to blog more this summer. Stay in touch through Facebook, tweeter, texting or email with
   your LIFE group members. Check on them and hold each other accountable. “Life” does not stop 
   during the summer, so reach out to those who are hurting.

As individual believers
Just as important that the corporate body surges, so it is that we individually surge this summer. How can we do this?
 
1. Commit to read a certain portion of Scripture this summer. 
     Take it as a summer goal to read the New Testament, or through a Gospel, or however else God leads. This will give you a marker to know how you are doing.
 
2. Commit to some extra times of prayer and fellowship with God.
      An early morning or during a nice sunset, just connect with God in deep prayer and intimate communication. Just as extended time of being with the family and friends will enhance your relationship with them, so with God.
 
3. Be sensitive to the spiritual condition of persons you may spend extended time with this summer. Pray that you will be in tune to family/friends that may not be walking with the Lord and seek to speak to them while at the beach, the backyard barbeque or at the lake. This will keep you “surging” for the Lord spiritually.
 
4. Commit to read a good Christian book this summer. 
    That one you got for Christmas or a birthday, or a classic. It will do you good.
 
Let’s refuse to give the summer away to mediocrity. Let’s surge this summer, not slump. And when September comes, we’ll be glad we did.
 
(Thanks to a pastor friend for this blog)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It is Finished

IT IS FINISHED


"It is finished!" Blessed statement!
Nothing left for me to do;
Jesus' blood alone provided
Full atonement, life anew

"It is finished!" God revealed it;
Nevermore His wrath to face;
Indwelt now by God's own Spirit;
His alone by sovereign grace

"It is finished!" Love's expression,
In the Son's triumphant shout,
Now, by grace there is acceptance;
In His blood no cause to doubt

"It is finished!" Wondrous statement!
Triumph over guilt and sin
And the birth of life eternal;
Promise of new hope within

It is finished! Blessed utterance
Of the Victor's dying breath;
Through His blood the Son has conquered
Satan, sin, corruption, death

It is finished! My assurance!
Satan's charges cannot stand;
Jesus made eternal payment,
Satisfying God's demand

It is finished! Final victory!
Words that crushed the serpent's head;
Perfect justice, this assuring
Resurrection from the dead.