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Showing posts from October, 2006

Adulterers and Enemies of God

“Most of us would rather fit in, than stand out. Christ is expecting us to stand out so that people can see the difference.” ~ Dave Stone, I’d Rather See A Sermon

One of the difficult responsibilities that we face as Christians is living in the world without being part of the world. It is difficult because, for what ever reason, the world is so attractive to us. We long to be like our friends and have the stuff that we see advertised on TV. We don’t want to be different. We want to be the same as everyone else, and do it with the blessings of God.

We get so caught up trying to fit into this world because the things of this world seem so real to us. This world is so real because it is right here for us to see, touch and feel. This world is right at our fingertips. The same cannot be said about God’s blessings.

 Though they are abundant and constant, so often they seem to be off in the distant future in a different place. It is hard to follow the wisdom of God when it seems to…

Relational Generosity

"While the Scriptures remind us that the greedy stir up dissension; the generous nurture wholeness. While generosity is motivated by love, greed is fueled by lust. Greed is narcissistic; generosity is Christlike. Greed is a product of self-love. Generosity is the product of selfless love. The latter knows Jesus to be the greatest lover who ever lived. The former would mistakenly attribute that person to the likes of Casanova. This contrast is critical in that the greatest application of generosity is not financial, but relational. This is perhaps the best and truest measure of nobility. Do we treat people as objects to be used or gifts to be treasured?" ~ Erwin McManus; Uprising (p. 159)

Through the Darkness

I could hear the others calling in the darkness, though I could not see them. The darkness seemed to be different than anything I had experienced before. It seemed to creep and to cover. It seemed to be alive. A great doubt crept into my heart and I realized our mission was doomed to fail, there was no way we could overcome such darkness. As I was ready to give into my despair I remembered; ‘My Word provides light for your journey.’ Once again Arkia’s promise brought hope out of despair.

I could sense another next to me. I put my hand on his shoulder. ‘The darkness is overwhelming. All is lost.’ Halen whispered.

‘Take courage my friend. All is not lost. Do not focus on the darkness around you. Think about the light Arkia has placed in your heart.’

‘It seems such a small thing compared to this vast darkness. How can such a small light make a difference?’

I smiled and lifted my staff. ‘Arkia, the Keeper of Light, illuminate the way,’ I prayed.
My staff began to glow providing us light. …

Who is Your King?

In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6; NLT).

In the book of Judges we are able to read the story of the nation of Israel and the settling of the Promised Land. The recurring problem this young nation dealt with was the unwillingness to surrender to God’s rule.

As long as God provided them with a leader: Moses, Joshua, and the various Judges the people seemed to do what was right, but once these leaders were gone the people seemed to always follow the religious practices of the kingdoms around them.

This unwillingness on Israel’s part to accept God’s rule led to the consequence of invasions by other kings. There was no Israelite king who ruled Israel, but they were kings ruling Israel. These kings were cruel and the devastated the nation and kept the Israelites in bondage. Because they would not accept God’s invitation to be King, God allowed the invasions to occur.

The Old Testament often gives us a picture of what h…

Being Light

A couple of years ago while reading through 1 John I had a Burning Heart Moment, and I knew that there was a truth God wanted me to understand. That morning this is what I read: “If anyone says, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves other Christians is living in the light and does not cause anyone to stumble” (1 John 2:9-10; NLT).

The thought I had as I read this passage was: it is our love which makes us lights! Before that moment I always associated light with truth. That resulted in my thinking that if we are going to be lights then we had to preach, teach, and live out truth.

 What I have come to realize is that being light is more than proclaiming truth. From this passage we learn that it is our love which makes us the light of the world. Without love we still live in darkness, but our love, which provides a sharp contrast with the way of the world, shines for all the world to see.

Why is…

A Covenant Relationship

God deals with people through the use of covenants. Carl Ketcherside in his book The Death of the Custodian wrote:
The fact is that God has chosen to relate to man on the basis of covenants. He is a covenant-making God. No one who ignores this fact will ever grasp God’s plan and purpose in any age (page 15). I want to throw this idea out to you: We have a covenant relationship with God and not just a personal relationship with God. Yes, I understand we view marriage as a covenant relationship and that relationship is also a personal relationship, but God’s covenant is not just for an individual person, but it is for a people. 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us:
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (NLT). This means we are in this together. We have a responsibility to and for each other. Non…

I Hope You Don't Burn in Hell!

Several years ago I was at a meeting with other youth ministers planning a week of camp. During the meeting we discussed how we could do a better job at holding the campers accountable for the commitments they would make during camp. One of the other youth ministers said this:

“I am the type of guy that if someone doesn’t live up to their commitment to God I hope they burn in Hell.” I remember sitting there shocked that he would say something like that, and even more shocked than no one else challenged him on his statement. Is this really the attitude that we as Christ-Followers should have? To me it sounds contradictory to what we find on the pages of the Bible. Consider these passages:

{22} Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. {23} Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren’t contaminated by their sins (Jude 22, 23; NLT).
{19} My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone among…

What we Know is Enough

"Our approach to apologetics assumes that we are engaging an individual who has a cohesive view of truth and reality. When a person freely and often contradicts himself without regard to continuity and does not see that contradictions as evidence or proof that he is wrong, it leaves Christians frustrated and paralyzed in the work of evangelism...For too long we have hidden behind the rightness of propositional truth and have ignored the question of whether or not it works. Does the faith you advocated get you to God? If people are observing your Christianity and reserving their allegiance to see what team actually wins, is there enough evidence in your life to cause a person to see Jesus as sufficient? What an incredible opportunity we have in a world of uncertianty! We know that God is and that Jesus is his name. There are many things that we don't know, but what we know is enough." ~ Erwin McManus; An Unstoppable Force; p. 58

Finding Our Place in the Story of History

“The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories…But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of subcreation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien; The Tolkien Reader

“The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact…It happens—at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences…By becoming fact it does not cease to by myth: that is the miracle.” ~ C.S. Lewis; Mere Christianity

The power of story is great. It has the power to make us believe things that we never would have thought possible, to dream things that are bigger than ourselves, and to understand the desire of our hearts. For both Tolkien and Lewis it was story which gave real meaning to the world.

Story can take on many forms. For Tolkien and Lewis they were primary concerned with myth and legend. For our society today we are concerned with the visual…

Following Jesus' Example of Influence

The longer I follow Jesus the greater my sadness becomes for the world we live in. I am sadden because so many people are unaware that there is a better way to live their lives. Pain and sin dominate their lives and they don't even know that there is a problem. They have come to believe that this is just the way life is supposed to be and they hardly give it a second thought as they seek ways to dull the pain.

Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, ask him to send out more workers for his fields” (Matthew 9:35-…

The Best Life

Each one of us has an image of what life should be like. Some of us might picture life to be a mansion on a hill and tens of millions of dollars in the bank. Others of us might define life as a two-story house with a white picket fence and a nice family. Still others of us might see life as comfort and security having enough resources to do what we want to do when we want to do it. Every once in awhile we will stumble upon what we think life should be like and we will say, “Now this is the life.”

Besides these brief glimpses we get now and again, how many of us have the life we imagined? If you have that life has it met expectations?

Many us are frustrated with our lives because they are not what we wanted our lives to be. In order to deal with this frustration we have convinced ourselves that this is just the way life is supposed to this way. We grit our teeth and tell ourselves, “Life is hard. It is filled with struggles and difficulties. That is just the way it is.”

When w…

Choose to Live

“Our choices either move us toward God and all the pleasure that comes in Him or steer us away from Him to a life of shame and defeat.” ~ Erwin McManus; Seizing Your Divine Moment

The direction of our lives is determined by the choices that we make. There are choices which you will make during this time in your life that will affect the rest of your lives. It is very important that we have a good foundation in order to make the right choice.

That foundation is the Word of God. God is our Creator and that means He knows what the best for our lives is. His Word is intended to help us navigate life so we can experience the best He has to offer us. Check out what Jesus said concerning the foundation of God’s Word.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. …

The Dangerous Will of God

The call of Jesus to follow Him is not a call to a life of ease. Not only is following Jesus not easy it is also not very safe. New Testament Scripture is clear that a person following Jesus will be opposed by Satan and the world. In other words we should expect to face hardships and difficulties as we bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.

This mission is of supreme importance and is worth all the difficulties we might face along the way. Donn Leach in his book What the Bible says about Jesus wrote; "The importance of Jesus' mission in His own eyes is seen in that He did not hesitate to enlist people to suffer and die for it" (pg. 190). Each of the apostles, whom Jesus personally called, faced opposition from the world. These men were beaten, put into prison, and most likely all put to death, with the exception of the Apostle John (who was exiled). Jesus sent His disciples on a mission knowing that He was sending them to their deaths.

This mission is …

Dead to Life

"God's warning to man was that if he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would surely die. Adam and Eve did eat of the the tree, but there was no apparent death at the moment. I think we often assume God was speaking metaphorically. Yet what we find throughout the Scripture is that in the most important way we truly did die. We are now dead in our trespasses and sins. We are in a sense even dead to life. We merely exist and think we are alive. We have traded the authentic for the imitation. Human history can be summarized as a desperate search for life. We look for it everywhere and in everything. We pursue wealth, power, success, pleasure, and endless experiences just to feel alive. Yet with all that we gain, there is always the inescapable stench of death all around us. Even if we gain the whole world, we die with our souls empty and hollow." ~ Erwin McManus, Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul (pp. 5- 6)

Don't Live Alone

You must not go alone. From the beginning, right there in Eden, the Enemy’s strategy has relied upon a simple aim: divide and conquer. Get them isolated, and take them out.” ~ John Eldredge; Waking the Dead

The one thing in all of Creation that God saw that was not good was that man was alone. To remedy that situation God created a woman to go along with the man. Now there is obvious implications for marriage here, for God did not create another man to be Adam’s companion, but he created a woman.

This relationship between Adam and Eve provided the solution to the only problem Creation saw before sin entered the picture. First, there was the companionship and intimacy which developed between these two lovers. They were exactly what they needed to help the loneliness that was in their hearts.

Second, from their love would come other people ensuring that there would always be opportunities for a person to be part of a group of other people. The creation of man and woman was not just abo…

United with Jesus

The Christian has a special relationship with God because of Jesus Christ. Our relationship with God is not based on anything that we have done, not by our merit, but solely on what Jesus has done. We are able to enjoy a relationship with God because we have been united with Jesus.

The first part of Romans 6 reveals three areas in which we have been united with Jesus:
1Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? 2Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3Or have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him? 4For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. 5Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was. 6Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose it…

Compassion for the Lost

Luke 19 gives us an interesting insight into the heart of Jesus. Jesus is returning to Jerusalem to begin the week leading up to His crucifixion. As He rides down from the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem His followers begin to hail Him as king:
"Bless the King who comes in the name of the Lord!Peace in heavenand glory in highest heaven!" (Luke 19:38; NLT) But as they neared the city Jesus began to cry. The Greek word here means to wail. This isn't a silent cry with tears slowly running down His cheeks, this is all out sobbing. What an odd sight! He is being proclaimed king and He cries uncontrolably.

Why does Jesus cry? Jesus cries because He sees a city full of people, representing a nation full of people, and He knows their fate. Especially those leaving in Jesursalem. They would die horrible deaths at the hands of the Romans. The holy city would be turn down and the temple destoryed. Jesus says this:
"They will crush you to the ground, and your child…

Campbell on Jesus

In 1863 Alexander Campbell wrote:

Our kinsman Redeemer is now the absolute Monarch of the whole creation of God. All the angels, principalities and powers of the universe are at his command. What an honor to humanity!

Unitarianism is but another name for deism or theism. It is not Christianity. It is not the gospel of the grace of God.

Divinity, absolute Divinity, in all its grandeur, dwelt in him, and shall forever dwell in him. "All things were created by him and for him." And he was before any creature--the eternal Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.

Why should any man of good understanding make an effort to undeify the second Adam--the Lord from heaven, and the Lord of heaven! Did he not say, "I and my Father are one" (John x. 30)? His contemporaries called this blasphemy, and took up stones to stone him. This was the second effort made to murder him. With the Jews, this was blasphemy of the first degree. He was not, however…

A Review: The Great Divorce

I picked up The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis several years ago. I began to read it as soon as I got back for the book store, but gave up midway through chapter 2. I simply had no interest in the story.

Having read all the other C. S. Lewis books in my personal collection I decided to return to this book I found so difficult to read a few years ago. This time around I was captivated by the story. What made the difference? Part of it has to do with the fact that I wrote a research paper on the nature of hell for Turning Points in Systematic Theology the one semester I was at Lincoln Christian Seminary. Another part of it has to do with how I view stories now. I wasn't interested in The Great Divorce the first time around because it conflicted with how I viewed Heaven and Hell. C. S. Lewis appears to be saying that the people in Hell will get a second chance at Heaven and this bothered me, and so I kept the book on the shelf.

When I read the preface I realized that the truth …

Making an Apology

In the first couple of centuries after the resurrection of Jesus a lot of misconceptions about who his followers were, what they believed, and how they worshipped serviced throughout the Roman Empire. The common charge against Christians was that of atheism because the pagans had a difficulty grasping the concept of one God. Rumors of orgies and cannibalism during Christian worship spread through the Empire. The fact that the early church was largely made up of underclass people and slaves made it suspect to upper-class.

In order to explain themselves different individuals attempted to write formal "apologies." In the Greek this means: a response to an accusation, explaining why a person believed or acted in a certain way (A History of the Church: From Pentecost to Present, James B. North, pg. 39). There was a need to explain themselves to the culture in which they lived. It is difficult enough to follow Christ in this world without having to deal with misunderstandings and …

Pleasure through Morality

“This is the great lost truth of the Christian faith, that correction of Judaism made by Jesus and passed on to us: the goal of morality is not morality—it is ecstasy. You are intended for pleasure!” ~ John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire

One of the great lies the human race has believed from the Beginning is that pleasure is found outside of morality. To often we believe that pleasure is found by breaking the rules and living the moment. God's Law, or morality, seems to stand in the way of our having a good time. The party mentality isn’t just something new invented by students on college campuses, but has gone back thousands of years. So many people have given their lives away to the party in an attempt to feel good.

Morality seems to be God's attempt to keep us from having a good time. Morality tells us not to get drunk or high. Morality tells us that sex should be between a man and a woman, and then only within the bounds of marriage. Morality says to be a servant to oth…

A Change in Culture

I have been thinking the past few days how much the United States has changed in the past 100 years. In many ways we can look at our culture and see that it has taken a turn for the worst. Sure there are many good things that we have access to that weren’t around 50 years ago let alone 100, but our morals and values seem to have sunken to all time lows.

Take for example the terrible tragedy in Bailey, CO this past week. This sort of thing was unheard of a generation ago, but violence and sexual assaults are becoming an all too frequent part of life for us today. In some aspects it seems like we are coming to accept them as a part of life. A tragedy but something we have no control over.

Why has our culture taken this dreadful turn? In the first century a handful of Christ-Followers impacted an empire. In this past century hundreds of thousands of Christians were unable to influence the direction of a nation. This loss of influence has not been due to a lack of political influe…

Illuminating Conduct

One of the ways the Church can be a light in this dark world is the love Christ-Followers show to each other. I am firmly convinced one of the reason the Church in the first century grew like it did was because of the unique love that existed between her members. The world is a tough place and loving relationships in which we can feel safe and secure are hard to find. The Church can be different because of the love we show to one another.

Peter writes: Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it (1 Peter 3:8-9; NLT).

Peter is writing about Christian conduct in these two verses. I believe he has in mind certain principles that should govern our lives as we seek to be different from the world. In order to shine i…