Monday, June 29, 2009

Make Up a Song

The Bible said that David was a man after God's own heart. Why? As a child, he spent a lot of time by himself with a bunch of sheep, a sling shot and a harp. When he wasn't throwing rocks, shooting things with his slingshot, leading his sheep to greener pastures and water, and sleeping under the stars, he would make up songs that he would sing to the Lord with his harp. He wanted to please God with his music.....and God was pleased with his efforts.

You might try the same thing. Go to the Psalms and sing one...make up your own music. Sing praise with all your heart and see if the presence of God doesn't show up. Worship him with original words and music. He loves it when we sing to Him, when we are willing to be vulnerable, open, and expressive to Him. Go to the New Testament and sing the words of Jesus or Paul. Try it you'll like it!

Have you ever done this? What were the results?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Religious Snobbery

I believe in God. I believe Jesus was the Son of God. I believe that Jesus was the Messiah who died unjustly on a Roman cross so I can have eternal life. I believe the church is the body of Christ. I have declared that "Jesus is Lord," done my best at living my life in a way that would please God and honor the life of Christ. I go to church. I am a fruitful Christian.

But do I have to be right when it comes to my religious beliefs? Is there a right? Or is it that there is a right for me....a set of religious preferences that fit my personality, upbringing, political orientation, moral beliefs and nationality? If I am religiously correct, does that make others religiously incorrect?

I grew up in Paonia, Colorado, a small, isolated town on the Western Slope. The town is nestled in the North Fork Valley, surrounded by mountains and mesas. The students who attended Paonia High School were very egocentric: "We're number one." "We're the best." Even though we were only OK in sports, to talk to the students, we were the best, the greatest, awesome, nobody else could compare.

It's the same way with my 15 year son who goes to MacArthur High School in Irving, TX. He thinks his school is great, the coolest school in Irving. Perhaps egocentricity is endemic of adolescents...they have to be right, "the best," the only ones that matter. If you have a teenager, you probably know what I am talking about.

But has this adolescent way of thinking infiltrated our churches. The belief that my way of doing religion is the only correct way of doing religion. It sounds just like what I thought about my school as a 16 year old. It sounds prideful and snobbish. It means there is no freedom in Christ for others to express their preferences. Ugh. Do you see the problem here?

What snobbish religious thoughts do you have?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Father in Heaven..."Hey, There's a Chicken"

I find it very difficult to pray for any amount of time. If I think my prayers silently, within moments I am salmon fishing in Alaska, thinking about the 1,000,000,000,000 things I need to be doing, imagine what it would be like to be standing on the top of Mt. Elbert in Colorado, or think about how I could improve my landscaping, blog or life. You get the picture.

So what is the solution? How can one pray for hours on end without one, "Hey there's a chicken?" Simple. Pray out loud. Speak the words the Lord places in your thoughts. Give voice to the desires God lays on your heart.

I have prayed for 6 hours straight using this method and believe me (who is ADHD), if it works for me it will work for you. I can go an hour without a "mind trip to Alaska." Not one side trip to Mt. Elbert or to the duck in my attic last year. Nope. Just time with God, Him and I moving mountains, praying the things that come to mind.

Try it. Set aside an hour to pray out loud and see what back here about how it went.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Joy Movie

Here's a link to a motivational website with really good photography and message. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend!

Brain frozen

Yesterday was hot in Texas. It was only 102 degrees but it felt like 125. No breeze. Not a cloud in the sky. And, of course, my son had baseball practice out in it. So I went to SONIC and picked up a large grape slush, which is only slightly smaller than a 55 gallon barrel, and started drinking it's grapey deliciousness...until the most excruciating pain hit over my right eye....BRAIN FREEZE! It felt like the seven dwarfs were hitting me in the head with baseball've been there.

I am sure there is some biological purpose for brain freeze but it seems like there is a glitch in the system. Come on, God. Really!!???!! When we get hot and drink something cold, our brain explodes??!! I don't get it.

Anyway, this morning was a brain freeze morning. I have tried to write something profound, life-changing, Spirit-filled, but I got nuthin.' Sorry. Check back tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fellowship In Jesus

I love being around people...well most of the time anyway. I love to listen and talk about deep things. I like hearing about how some one's week is going or what they are planning to do. I especially like cooking for people and eating with people, new and old. So much can be learned when enjoying a meal together.

But Christian fellowship is not random, just hanging out with others and getting social needs met. There's so much more if we go into it consciously. God has a purpose when we meet and it's not just to talk and eat. Fellowship is to meet the spiritual needs of the Body. Fellowship is an opportunity for the Spirit, living in you, to express Himself using you. Fellowship is God's opportunity to walk among His people and talk to them, love them and touch them.

Five things to do when with other Christians:

1. Pray that God will lead your time together to further His will. Pray that He will lead you to people that He wants to minister to.

2. Pray for wisdom and the gift of prophecy when around other Christians. Even if you don't believe in it, get used to the idea of using your gifts around others.

3. Ask what they need spiritually from you and work to fulfill it on the spot. Don't wait to pray for someone and risk forgetting, do it there, on the spot. Ask God to give you the words to pray over them then listen. Start with something generic (Bless my brother with a job) but be willing to speak other things that God places on your heart.

4. Lay your hands on them (if appropriate) when you pray over them. Touch is powerful and comforting for most. Ask permission first and respect them if they would rather you not touch them.

5. Continue to to pray for that person as God lays them on your heart during the week...tell that person you are praying during the week. Call them and pray over the phone. Let your "fellowship" leak into your regular life and be faithful to pray. There is blessing for you when you do.

What is your favorite thing about fellowship?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sharing the Living Water with Rob

Rob is a 24 year old fireman and I met him in line at Potbelly Sandwich Shoppe. Luckily, service was slow that day so we had a lengthy conversation before being served. I was feeling the prompting of God to talk to him about spiritual things so I asked him to what church he belonged. He said he had never really gone to church. Potbelly was crowded and there was only one table available so I invited him to eat with me. I asked him about himself and he told me his story. Broken relations. Dabbled in drugs. Father died of cancer when he was 14. Alcoholic mother. Struggling with being a fireman, not having time to date women. Slowly making his way through college. Budding actor. Amateur musician. Spiritually drifting. Went to church camp in high school with a friend but no commitment to Jesus.

"So why do you ask me about my church? What do you know about church?"

I told him about Jesus. I told about how God wants to work in his life. I talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit. I talked to him about his purpose. I listened. I suggested that he read a Bible, he said he didn't have one. I had a copy of an easy to read version in my truck and I gave it to him. He said church just seemed like a show with no substance. I assured him that there were churches who were pursuing Jesus, that wanted a relationship with God.

It was engaging. It was fun. Sharing the story of Jesus with Rob and giving my testimony to what God is doing in my life is such a is filled with purpose and meaning. It is what I was made to do.

How do you feel when you share the story of Jesus?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Old Dogs and the Truth About God

There once was an old wise dog named Ralph. He was calm, loving and spent most of his time under the porch of an old house. The people who lived in the old house loved the dog with all their hearts and he responded by loving them back. He walked faithfully by their side and served them with all his heart. He was a great dog who never met a stranger and loved everyone who walked up to the old house.

There was a 6 year old boy, Tyler, who lived in the neighborhood who was bitten by a pit bull when he was 4. Ever since that incident, he became afraid of all dogs, running away crying to his mother to comfort him. When the little boy walked on the sidewalk in front of the house, Ralph would crawl out from under the porch and stand in front of the house. The little boy would run away crying each and every time.

Tyler's sister, Debbie, saw her brother's response to the old dog and hated Ralph. She talked to all the other neighborhood kids about the "vicious dog" that "lived down the street." She warned everyone to stay away and instigated a neighbor to call Animal Control and report the old dog for being a "nuisance to the neighborhood." That false report caused many people to steer clear of Ralph and the old house.

Josh was a 16 year old boy who grew up in the red house four doors down. Josh was mean, acting out on others what had been done to him. Each time Josh walked down the street toward the 7-11 to get cigarettes, he would throw something at Ralph and yell at the old dog. Ralph never barked at him, but would warily watch Josh walk by. Josh had heard the stories that the old dog was vicious and wanted to teach the old dog that he couldn't attack innocent bystanders.

So here you have four different people who have four different views of Ralph. Their views do not change Ralph, Ralph just is who he is. Every person who came into contact with Ralph projected their own love, fears, hatred or anger onto the old dog. Each person's history, personality, motives, and character came out when they came across the old dog.

It is the same way with God. Those who know Him, trust Him. Love Him. They don't have to rely on other's opinions, they have experienced the Lord themselves...His love, His goodness, His affection, His mercy. They walk with Him. They give up control to Him and have the faith that He will be good to them. In suffering, they know He is there suffering along side with them. In hardship, He is their rock. They depend upon his protection and provision and know He will come through.

Those who don't have a relationship with Him must rely on the projections of their own unmet needs, history, personality, motives and character. They have to be told what to think about God by those who think they know. They have to rely on the empirical evidence (or not) of God and trust their fleshly senses to perceive God (or not). But God is God. He is who he is and our perceptions of Him do not change changes the way we see him. Some focus on the judgement and retribution of God and forget about the grace and love of God. Others see God's love as a license to do whatever they want. Others may use God as the cosmic 911, asking to be saved when they are in trouble. Still others treat God as a concept and rationalize him but never trust in him. Still, others may see the unfairness of life and blame God for their suffering. We may read about the reality of God in Scriptures but ignore Scriptures that describe a part of God we may not like.

So if I don't speak in tongues or experience the gift of prophesy, do I say that part of the Bible is expired? If I want to engage in behavior prohibited by God, do I then morph the scripture to fit my beliefs? Do I explain away or rationalize that which I can not understand? Is that what God wants us to do? Pick and choose? The limitations we place on God DOESN'T LIMIT HIM, it places limits on our faith and how we allow Him to work. He still is who He is. I can either accept that or see God as a "heavenly buffet" where I get to choose what I want?

How do you think you limit God? How have your perceptions of God limit the big picture of who He is?

Father, in the name of Jesus, give us the eyes to see you for who you really are. Make us like little children, so we can believe you and take you at your Word. Bless you for being bigger than we can imagine, greater than we can believe and for Your grace that allows us to grow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sharing the Living Water #4

OK. I know I said there were three but I decided to throw in another factor that makes sharing the gospel elegant. The fourth one would be prayer. Pray that God will bring people in your life that need to hear the gospel. Pray for the words to say. Pray for the courage to speak. Pray for a filling of the Spirit so what you say is what the Lord wants you to say.

Lets just pretend that talking about Jesus is difficult for most of us. Our flesh kicks up fear, shame, guilt, or whatever other emotion that makes sharing difficult. We want God to tag someone to speak for us like Aaron did for Moses. But it isn't that hard once you have laid a groundwork of prayer. God makes it a little easier.

So here is what I am willing to do. Comment on this blog about what you need prayer for. I will commit to praying for anything you write and I ask others to pray as well. Lets pray for the courage to speak out for Jesus. So what do you want prayer over?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Two Dads

Happy Father's Day, all you dads. I am one of the luckiest men alive. I have two men in my life that have mentored, taught, encouraged, sacrificed for, admonished, and loved me. One is my biological paternal unit, the other is my father-in-law. They both have strengths and weaknesses. They are hard working and love me and my family. They are spiritual men and love Jesus with all their heart. They both have integrity and character. It is unbelievable that God loves me so much that he put both of them in my life. I want to express a big thank you to them for their role in my life.

Sharing the Living Water #3

The third factor that makes sharing the story of Jesus elegant is confidence. When you became a Christian, your story became the property of Jesus, for Him to use as He saw fit. You are not your own, you were bought with a price. You signed over your life to Him. In essence, you turned over the power of attorney to Him.

As I stated in yesterday's post, God is going to use your story to introduce salvation into people's life. Here's how I see it. God is preparing people to come to Him, right now, everywhere. Your story of salvation, your testimony of how Jesus is working in your life is a crucial piece of how God is preparing others' heart. Your testimony may be the tipping point for someone or it may be a stepping stone. Either way, God is using your story, your willingness to share Jesus to further His kingdom. You are needed and wanted.... have confidence in that.

God is not going to put you out there for no reason. He has a purpose for you and your story. He will give you the words to speak. He will unfold the parts of your story that will be meaningful and life changing to others. You just have to be willing to speak it.

Hank is a friend of mine. He was walking in down the aisle of Walmart one day, minding his own business when God told him to speak to a woman coming toward him, pushing a cart full of groceries. So Hank said, "Hi, God wants you to know that he cares about you and your family and that he is going to take care of you." The woman broke down and started weeping, loudly. She said her husband lost his job the day before and she had prayed that morning 'Father if you are really there, let me know it.' She said, "You have blessed me today more than you will ever know." Hank shared his story of how God had provided for him and his family when he had lost his job the year previous. Hank prayed for her (right there in the cereal aisle), then they parted ways. God used Hank's story that day in Walmart.

Do you have confidence that God is working in your life? God is working in ways you can not even imagine and your story is crucial for Him. Your testimony of faith, of how God saved you and continues to work in your life, is needed to sow the seed of the gospel. Whatever your story is, even if you are not a perfect Christian, may be a piece or the tipping point of what someone needs to hear to know Jesus. Have confidence in that. Someone did that for you so pay it forward and be the light for someone else.

What story brought you to Jesus? What keeps you from sharing your story?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sharing the Living Water #2

The second factor that makes sharing Jesus elegant is openness. Openness is authentic, transparent, sharing, available, and emotionally above board. The opposite of openness is devious, closed, shady, two-faced, deceitful, biased, gamy, withholding and secretive. Openness is what makes a believers message credible and helps the listener to trust what is being said. If trust is weak, openness will be, as well.

Open about what? Stories of how you came to Jesus, a before and after snapshot. What changed? How did the story affect you spiritually, emotionally and physically? What did you do different? I listen to these things with rapt attention when people are willing to share them and each story brings me closer to Jesus. Even though I have been a Christian for what....29 years....each testimony of faith reminds me of what a precious Savior we have. God reminds me, through each story that I am loved and he convicts my heart again of my salvation. It usually makes me cry. It always makes me grateful. Openness takes the story of Jesus off the pages of the Bible and makes it seem real, relevant and genuine to the listener.

Openness gives permission for others to talk about themselves. Vulnerability begets vulnerability. Openness is disarming and says to the other, "Be straightforward with me because I can handle it." Openness lets the listener know that what is being said is serious, relevant and meaningful to you. "Do as I do, not just as I say." Openness clears up misunderstandings and levels the playing field saying, "I am not better than you, I am just like you."

Were you a drug addict before Jesus? Talk about it as God moves you to. God is going to use your story to introduce salvation into people's life. Did you struggle with porn, extramarital affairs or other sexual issues before coming to Jesus? You can bet that God is going to use your story to help others get free of sexual sin and come to Him. Did you struggle with gossip, bitterness or childhood abuse? God is going to use your story to bring in the hurt, abused and lonely. Whatever the 'before' picture looked like, God wants others to see it.

Several years ago a man named Kelly shared his testimony in front of a thousand people at my church. His story was about how Jesus saved him from meth. He cried as he went into the gory details about what he did to get meth. Through tears, he talked about how Jesus saved him. That was 14 years ago and I can remember it like it was yesterday. Kelly's story profoundly changed my heart as I cried (along with everyone else). Hundreds of people embraced him afterwards, thankful for his testimony. His story brought salvation alive unlike any sermon I have ever heard. It was beautiful.

On a scale of one to ten (one not at all, ten very much so) how open are you? What keeps you from being more open?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sharing the Living Water #1

Does sharing the gospel have to be a beat down? Will people only respond if you tell them they are going to hell at least once? Is the gospel a cut and dried, rational discussion? Does there have to be 54 Scripture references during the discussion? I think the answer to these questions is 'no!'

So my next three post are going to be about sharing Jesus in a fluid, elegant, attractive manner. Easy. Magnetic. Charismatic (in a non-Penecostal sort of way).

The first factor is politeness. Politeness is being civil, friendly, cordial, considerate, genuine, empathetic, civilized, and sensitive to the person to whom you are sharing. The opposite of this would include crude, harsh, cynical, arrogant, disrespectful, critical, brusque, punitive, negative, judgemental and condescending. I think every Christian should go through 'politeness training' so sharing the gospel with people would actually be enjoyable for both the sharer and sharee.

Here is what the training would cover:

1. Showing genuine interest in the other person. One has to show respect to them as a human being with the potential to develop beyond where they are and grants them the right to be who they are.

2. Politeness is a response to others' needs on their terms, not one's own needs for earning God points on their 'God Card.' Be nice. Be interested in them. Honor the other person. Others will know whether or not you are responding to them or to your own needs.

3. Be concerned with the other without being nosy or intrusive. Others will know whether or not you are being authentic and genuine or if you are phony and contrived.

4. Listen without becoming distracted. Scrap your agenda and really listen, responding to what is being said, not by what you want to say...there's a HUGE difference.

5. Relax. Sharing the gospel is a process that takes time, relationship building and patience. Jesus didn't cram the gospel down anyone's throat, he gave the the freedom to choose Him. We should do no less.

6. Use real life words. Drop the denomination, religious speak. Use English....simple English.

What do you think about sharing the gospel in a polite way?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If You Follow Me, People Will Hate You

Preacherman blogged a question about whether or not people have been persecuted for their faith. That raises questions for me. My questions are: If we aren't being criticized or persecuted, is that indicative of a problem with our faith? Scritpure says we WILL be persecuted if we follow Jesus. If we aren't being persecuted, should we be? Should we be worried if we aren't being persecuted?

My brother has been quoted as saying,"If someone isn't hacked off at you, you are irrelevant." There might be some truth to that. Persecution may be an indication of our relevancy. We have to make sure we are being persecuted for following Jesus, not for following religious dogma. Being persecuted for spewing religious nonsense is lame...its like being rejected for cramming religious indoctrination down an unwilling throat...that is not the persecution God is wanting for us to go through. You deserve the harshest of persecution for that...all for nothing. Fake faith deserves the harshest of criticism, rejection and persecution.

I think if we live radical love, sacrifice and devotion to Jesus (not our religious denomination) we WILL be rejected...criticized...persecuted for following Jesus. Pure faith will draw the arrows of persecution and criticism....It puts a target on your back. That kind of behavior makes sinners and the religious establishment take notice and be convicted in their own heart. They will hate you for that.

This brings up the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 theory. You want 1/3 of the people to hate you, 1/3 of the people to be apathetic toward you, and 1/3 of the people to love you. Those are Jesus' numbers. Jesus' life was about speaking truth, radically loving and healing people, doing his Father's will, and being light to a dark world. Not everyone loved him, not everyone "got" him. I think he was OK with that. If our goal is to please people, we may miss opportunities to serve God.

Do you want approval or persecution? That is the real question. You have to face the possibility of rejection and persecution to follow Jesus. You have to be relevant and bold enough to be persecuted and rejected.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bad Things Happen To Good People or Are they Really That Good?

So you are a Christian. Cool. You go to church. You live a relatively good life with no horrendously egregious sin going on. You have a job, wife, kids, cars, house in a nice enough neighborhood, and things are rocking along. Cool. You have the resources to meet life's problems, your friends are supportive, and you are paying you bills on time. You are a good person. Good things happen to good people, right? God blesses those who follow Him, right?!?

But what happens when things begin to change? What happens to your faith when you lose your job, wife or kids? What happens when lightening hits your house (see yesterday's post), have an earthquake (see last months post), your house burns down or friends reject you? What happens when your church has problems, you find you you have cancer or your spouse admits to an affair with your best friend? Then what happens to your faith? Bad things happen to bad people? Or do bad things happen to good people? God blesses those who follow Him, right?!?

How do you explain bad things happening to good people?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a Week??!!?

Well lets see...should I start with my house being struck by lightening last Thursday, going 24 hours without electricity, the gas leak was caused by lightening arcing from the hot water heater and melting the gas pipe, half the electronics and circuits are fried in our house, speeding ticket (80 in a 70...I was guilty) or the seven hour drive to my wife's family reunion? There has been a lot happening since Thursday...but Jesus is Lord.

On the positive side...

The lightening hit less than five feet away from my son's head (who was sleeping in his bed) but he was OK. No one was hurt...except being scared half to death. There was no fire or major damage to the structure of the house. Other than having to take a cold shower, there was little inconvenience.

I really like my wife's family so driving 5 hours is no big deal to see them and spend time with them.

Went to a Rangers game today (free tickets right behind homeplate...sweet) and got to park free (because the ticket lady didn't have change).

My mother is visiting from Colorado which is always nice as she gives me cooking tips and is fun to talk to.

I hope your weekend was better than mine. No matter how bad things get, God still reigns. When things go wrong, he provides a way out. He sustains. He is good.

You ever been struck by lightening? How was your weekend?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's in Your Attic?

June 17, 2008 was an odd day in my life. I was sitting reading a book when I heard a loud noise, a crashing sound. I thought there had been a wreck in front of my house so I went to the door and found nothing amiss outside. hmmmmm. So I sat back down and was reading when I heard it again, only it sounded like it was coming from a different part of the house. So I walked toward where I thought the noise was coming from and I heard it again...coming from my attic. Cue spooky music.

So I got a broom (?!!? What am I going to do, sweep it to death?) and slowly pulled down the attic stairs, not knowing what was up there. I flicked on the light and a duck (yes, you read correctly, a duck) was looking down at me. Now, I first thought I was asleep and dreaming (you know, the ol' duck in the attic dream that everyone has...) or that I was seriously mentally ill and hallucinating (not ruling that out). Anyway, it quacked. I had never heard of ducks being in people's attic so this was an interesting problem to have.

So I got the swimming pool skimmer net and climbed into the attic. It flew around and I couldn't snag it so I called a neighbor (very similar to Phone a Friend on "Who wants to be a Millionaire") and told I had a duck in my attic. After about 3 minutes of laughter, I asked what I should do....Did he have a duck call that I could....more laughter. He said he would loan me his shotgun...har, har...very funny. Finally, after talking to three friends and enduring the same laughter and offer of a shotgun from each, one loaned me a duck call. To humiliate me worse, he stood and watched me call the duck... from the my house...what was I going to do if it came....? He was there to watch me more than anything.

Anyway, I never saw the duck again, I guess it flew out the way it came in. Seriously though, there was a duck up there and it left....flew south, I guess...It went were attic ducks go during the summer. I have told this story numerous times and it gets funnier (to me anyway) every time I tell it. It just goes to show that life can't be so bad that a duck in your attic (and the humiliation of people laughing at you....even a year later) can't make things a little more interesting. So now when things are bad, I just remind myself that there's not a duck in my attic, and smile.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Talkin' up Jesus

This is an email from a sister in Christ who just so happens to be my son's evening nurse. She is a strong, Spirit-filled Christian and this is her testimony:

There Is None Like Him!

My Pastor and elder have really been encouraging us to share our faith strategically and aggressively. Though this is not revelatory to me or any other Bible believing Christian, the fact that we so seldom do it is testimony to our need to be admonished in this area! With this encouragement keenly in mind, I looked for opportunities and found one with a member new to our family through marriage. She is my son-in –law’s step mom and of Thai ethnicity and a practicing Buddhist. She has lived both in Thailand and the United States for the last 30 years so it would be easy to assume that she was totally familiar with the claims of Christianity. This was not the case.

I took the risk of offending her and got the conversation going in that direction. I had been told that she really liked me when she met me a year ago, so I knew I had some relational equity to draw on. I took her on a walk with her dog and my youngest granddaughter and got her to share with me her goals and dreams for her life at this new venture of being married after being widowed 2 years ago and relocating to Texas. She wanted to move away from some of her single friends who were counter productive to her new life situation of being married and devoted to the needs of her new husband. She was willing to enter “his world” of Texas and even to attend a church of his choosing. She had gone to church when Chris and Sharon and the kids visited in California and heard Dr. David Jeremiah preach and had been very impressed with the way he taught things. This was very different from the Buddhist liturgy she was used to. She shared how she had even entered the Buddhist nunnery in search of peace, but to no avail. She believed in a “universal God” and tried to be a good and kind person which she definitely is. I felt like the apostle Paul on Mars hill talking to the ancient Greeks. I had my inroad and strategy by taking time to get to know her and enter her world! As you may recall, Paul preached to them about their idol to the “unknown God.” Well, as far as I could tell, her “universal God” and the Greeks “unknown God” were pretty synonymous.

I started telling her about the “universal God” that was available to all men and all cultures through His Son Jesus Christ. He was born miraculously of a Virgin and was the promised Messiah. He proved this by His miracles, His astounding teachings, and His willingness to die on the cross, a cruel and tortuous death, for the sins of all mankind. God raised Him from death as proof that this was His Chosen One to redeem us all. No one compares to Him! No one even comes close! He alone can give life, peace and joy! There is none like Him, before or after! He is the only way to satisfy the requirements of an all powerful, “universal God”! I explained that God wanted her to receive Christ as an act of her free will and to give her life to Him as He gave His life for her! At this point my (our) 5 year old granddaughter, Kylee, who had been listening to our conversation on and off, jumped up and down, and exclaimed, “Be a Christian, be a Christian!” This was her first attempt that I am aware of at evangelism! I explained to Booie that these children had been praying for her and wanted very much for her to love Jesus as they do. She had won a place in their young hearts by her kind and gentle ways and taking them to Disneyland didn’t hurt either! I explained that we all loved her regardless of what her decision would be on this matter. She smiled in her very sweet and gentle way and told Kylee that she would have to go home and meditate on the matter!

At one point in the conversation she literally had goose bumps all over her arms as I believe the Holy Spirit was revealing Christ to her! She hugged and thanked me for explaining to her what every one else must have either assumed that she knew or were too afraid to tell her for fear of offending her. I think that may have been me if it was not for the encouragement of my Pastor and Dr. Ruby, our church’s elder. I personally was shocked that it wasn’t as hard or awkward as I thought it would be and that God used my fumbling attempts to communicate the Gospel to her. I was willing to articulate what she already knew; we all want her to receive Jesus, because we as Christians know, “There is none like Him”!

How brave are you to share the story of Jesus? Is it easy or difficult for you to talk about Jesus? Why?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just One More Dot and Tiddle, Please, God.

If you could get God to expand and explain a section of the Bible, to make it more understandable to you, what would it be? Which scripture gives you the most trouble as a Christian that an "explanatory side-note verse" or "heavenly foot-note" would clear it up for you? There is one verse that comes to mind for me (although there are many, many more that a little tutoring wouldn't hurt).....

I Peter 3.18-20 ...through whom also he preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built... huh!??!

I want to raise my hand and say,"Umm...God...excuse me...could you say a little more there please."

What verses would you choose?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks?

How teachable are you? How open are you to changing your beliefs?

Over the past 26 years, many things have changed in the world. The world has changed from the Russian cold war to Jihad terrorists. We have changed from letters to email, from land lines to cell phones. I can now pay my bills online...oh yeah, now we have an Internet where it didn't even exist 25 years ago. The world is constantly evolving, changing, growing, expanding and developing. Are we supposed to accomodate the changes in the world? If we don't, we become irrelevant. If we do, we are in danger of watering down the most important message the world needs to hear.

I have changed as well. I have become more educated. I have gone from a more conservative to a Spirit-filled Christian. Although I am a "techno-tard," I now have a blog, I use the internet and have been known to text (although 10 times slower than my 12 year old). I am trying to enter the 21st century. I have gone from an institutional Christian to a home church Christian. I want the Lord to fill me, speak through me, heal through me, perfrom miracles in His name. I want to become more relevant. I want to become light in an increasingly dark world. I want to serve living water to a thirsty world. My desire and passion for Jesus has grown and changed.

Many people are threatened by change and circle the wagons to protect beliefs while others seem to change their religious beliefs like they change their underwear (my son would be fairly stable since he rarely changes his underwear). But what changes should we make? Should we accommodate the ever-evolving world or be the unchanging force in the world?

Are you growing along with the world or are your beliefs still living in the 80's? Have your religious beliefs entered the 21st century? What changes have you made to your theology, religion or anything else for that matter (other than your underwear)? Are you open to change? Are you teachable?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

God Inhabits the Praises of His People

God wants to be with us...Jesus is evidence of that. God has guided His people with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. He has dwelt among His people in a tent that was built to His specs. He has worked miracles and wonders to convince His people that He was real, that He was there. Then He walked among us, helped us and died for us. And now He wants to inhabit us with His Spirit and inhabit the praise we raise to Him.

God inhabits the praises of His people. If we are willing to praise God, He is willing to inhabit. The more we praise, the more He inhabits. The more He inhabits, the more we are able to do His will. The more He inhabits, the more gifts the Spirit gives to draw people to Him. The more we praise, the more people are drawn to Him.

Scripture doesn't say the more we do good works, the more He inhabits us. Nor does it say the more we go to church, preach sermons, go to Bible classes, or sing things that aren't praise....we can do those things all we want and we aren't going to get Him to inhabit. Only praise. Only praise seems to get His attention. Only praise creates an environment in which God wants to dwell.

So really, what is "church" all about? Is it to be a social club for "do-gooders?" Is it about theology or religion or maintaining doctrinal integrity? Is that what God intended? NOT! I think God wants to dwell with us again. I think He is waiting for us to give Him what He wants so He can make us into more than we can imagine. I think He wants us to praise Him so the Spirit can work miracles among us. You want spiritual gifts? Praise...continually! You want to speak prophetic words or heal the sick? Praise first! You want people to be drawn to the church, to God? Then praise. Everything else is just a shallow imitation that gets presence, no dwelling.

You want the power of God in your congregation, stop singing goofy "non-praise" or "non-worship" songs (God doesn't live there).....instead sing praise...proclaim the goodness, power, mercy and glory of God. God doesn't dwell in anything but praise. Look into it. Experiment with it. Do an hour of praise in your church an see what happens. Do it every Sunday and see if your church doesn't become a dwelling place of God.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Love Books Like a Fat Kid Loves Cake

I am sitting here typing and from where I sit, I can see probably 200 books. There a stack of Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, and Christian self help books. I have books on financial freedom, forgiveness, marriage, Islam, playing guitar, men's issues and hope. I can see books on empathy in the medical profession, prophecy, PowerPoint, and Jesus. Not to mention golf rules, the brain, social psychology and neuroanatomy (I can also see my checkbook...but that is a whole different post). "Talent is Overrated," "Outliers," "Who moved my Cheese," "The Reason for God," and "The Heavenly Man" "Spiral Dynamics" and a magazine article on "Overcoming the Yips." You get the point. I love books.

Do I read them all? I mention that I have a lot of books? Of course I have read them...or parts of them....OK, not all of them. But I want to, when I just get enough time. Books are like Tribbles (see 3 posts ago, "The Trouble with Tribbles"). They multiply....I don't remember buying that cookbook, that book on prayer or another book on grace....I mean, how many books on grace does one need...4...obviously. So books self generate and produce offspring, smaller books that are half the size as their hardback parents.

I wish I had all the knowledge all my books have. Think of the home improvement projects I could do, the gardens I could plant and the churches I could plant. I could be an expert on everything...except auto mechanics...maybe I need to run to the book store. Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books checkout clerks know me by name. I am just glad buying books isn't a sin but if it was, I could buy a book on how to overcome buying books.

So there you have it. My weakness of the flesh, my cross I have to bear. Well, one of the crosses I bear. I also can't go through a gardening center without buying plants, and keep me out of the grocery store because I have to get Oreos, the newest cheese and the hamburger is on sale....but those are a whole different post.

What "addiction" do you have?

Jesus Is All I Have

Corrie Ten Boom said, “You may never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

You can argue religious dots and tiddles but unless you have Jesus, it's meaningless.

You can be "right" and "scripturally correct" with passion and veracity, but if you don't know Jesus, being right is worthless.

You can attend church 7 days a week, 365 days a year but if the Love of Jesus is not in your heart, it won't help.

You can preach the scripture with passion and vigor, but if Christ doesn't dwell in you, your words are worthless, damaging the Word you think you know.

You can sing all the hymns you want but if the joy of Christ is foreign to you, then you are probably foreign to him.

You may have Jesus as one of your possessions but will never know Jesus until He is your only possession.

What does it mean to you to have Jesus?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gift of Healing...Jenny and Mark's Story of Infertility

Has God ever laid someone who is sick on your heart for you to pray for them? If so, you may have the gift of healing.

Have you ever had the urge to get up and lay your hands on someone in church who has come forward for prayer for an illness or injury? If so, you may have the gift of healing.

The spiritual gift of healing is an interesting gift. As with all Holy Spirit gifts, it is given by God for the glory of God. When a person has the gift of healing it's not like you can go to the hospital and heal everyone there. You heal who God wants you to, when God wants you to, and how God wants you to. The gift of healing is not one of my primary gifts, but it is a gift God has given me upon occasion to do His will. That is the story of Jenny and Mark.

Jenny and Mark had been dealing with infertility for 7 years. They had been to numerous doctors and had been through many medical treatments to no avail. They were telling me about their journey one day when God spoke in my ear, "I am going to heal her. She is going to have a child by this time next year." So I told Jenny and Mark what God had just spoken to me. He crossed his arms and got mad. She started crying.

I asked them if it would be OK if I pray over Jenny. They agreed. So I laid my hands on her and prayed something similar to this:

"Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask you to heal Jenny's uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes. God you created Jenny to be productive, for her womb to produce children. Father, she and Mark have done everything to no avail. So Father, we are asking you to fix the problem. In the name of Jesus, we speak fertility health into Jenny. Father, make right what disease has rendered useless. Bring forth life from Jenny and Mark..."

Anyway, I prayed over this couple for 20 to 30 minutes, just speaking what the Lord placed on my heart. I encouraged Mark to pray similar prayers over her every night until Jenny got pregnant. I prayed for them every time God laid them on my heart, usually at least once a day.

So, three months passed and I got a call from Mark. "We are pregnant." I celebrated with him over the phone. For some reason I knew it was going to be a daughter, I told Mark. I prayed with Mark over the phone for God to keep his daughter healthy and viable for a full term pregnancy. He was so excited about God answering our prayers.

Their daughter is now 6 years old, but I remember praying for them like it was yesterday. She is bright, a light everywhere she goes. She is as beautiful and smart as her mother and has a passion for life like her daddy. God is good.

Do you have any stories of God miraculously healing someone? Please share your story.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Trouble with Tribbles

I am sitting here watching an original Star Trek called the "Trouble with Tribbles." A CLASSIC! Lovable furry creatures which multiply 10,000 times faster than rabbits take over the Enterprise. Although lovable and sweet, Tribbles can't help but create more the point of making them neck deep in the Enterprise.

Sin is like a Tribble. It seems harmless. It feels good. It doesn't present any immediate threats. So you pet the Tribble. And then you find two more, and two more and soon, you are neck deep in Tribbles. How do you get rid of Tribbles? Here are some pointers:

1. Acknowledge that sin is a problem. It's OK to say so...really. Everyone has sin in their life!

2. Ask for help. Realize that sin, once established, is not going to go away easily. You need help. Ask God to help you out of the sin quagmire. He is waiting for you to ask and has the resources to help you out.

3. Ask a trusted Christian friend to pray for you. I have prayed for many people who are trapped in sin. It is a privilege to help someone judgement, just care.

4. Confess. Scripture says to confess your sins to brothers and you will be healed. That's cool. Just tell someone.

5. Ask for forgiveness as a way to get back on track...God is quick to forgive and get you back on track. God says if you confess your sins you will be forgiven. Done deal.

6. Ask God to give you a way out to avoid future....Ask God to provide the way out.

Scotty just beamed all the Tribbles onto the Klingon ship. Don't you wish it was that easy to deal with sin?

What has helped you overcome?