Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hebrews 7:25 - Week 1 Day 5

[Christ] always lives to
make intercession for [us]
Hebrews 7:25

When I was kid, I’m guessing I was two things: self-centered and moody. Why do I say this? I can remember brooding on how everything in the world was stacked against me!

Yes, moody and self-centered, I must have been like a black hole. You know what a black hole is, right? It’s an astrological phenomenon with such a strong gravitational pull that everything – planets, stars, and even light itself – is sucked into its vortex.

As amazing as my childhood gift of sucking all the light out of the universe was … today’s verse is even more amazing. Take a moment to realize the impact of that verse. Jesus’ whole purpose in heaven is to pray for you. According to Hebrews, that’s what he lives for!

Now, that could be a black hole realization for some self-centered people – “It really is all about me!” But I love how David Chotka turns one little word. Yes, Jesus prays FOR us. But using a wealth of other scriptures, Pastor David also makes the case that Jesus prays THROUGH us.

What’s the difference?

But some people are so self-focused that they view life and prayer like a black hole. When God prays FOR us, they believe that God is praying directly into each of us individually. As a result, we get to keep his blessings in our own pretty, little, God-box. God graciously pours light and blessings into other people’s God boxes too, of course. But light and blessings are personal. Individual. Therefore, our God-box and God-blessings are to be like black holes. God’s light warms us on the inside, but no light escapes.

No!!!! God doesn’t want us – or our prayers – to be like a black hole! He wants us to be more like a prism. When he prays THROUGH us, that light should reflect, refract, and shine brightly THROUGH us. It should shine THROUGH us with new and magnificent colors into a darkened world.

In Christ’s Love,
a prism who happens to be color blind
(can I reflect what I can’t see?!!!!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Joshua 1:6 - Week 1 Day 4

Be strong and courageous;
for you shall put this people in possession
of the land that I swore to their ancestors
Joshua 1:6

God is a God of order. Would you agree with that?

So where do mourning, crying, pain, and fear come from?

In a sense, disorder is a human invention. Biblically, it comes from sin.

What can you do about this? In one sense, nothing. As our liturgy depressingly admits, “we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” Fortunately there’s a hopefilled “BUT” in this midst of this confession … “BUT GOD!”

Prayer author John White reminds us that “[God] orders the affairs of the universe.” That’s basic and obvious, but read that again as we add one more line! “[God] orders the affairs of the universe, and he invites you to participate through prayer.”

Read that one more time! God wants to order and reorder. He wants to renew, redeem, and restore. And “he invites you to participate.” How? Say it with me: “through prayer”!

Here’s what prayer does. It turns us – a bunch of weak and defeated sinners – into valiant explorers. It’s like we’re the first ones off the sailing ship. We plant the flag and claim new – and renewed – territory in the name of the true King.”

It’s not that God can’t act without us!

It’s that he often waits for us.

He wants us to participate. Through prayer, God wants us to help reorder creation by putting people in possession of our own promised lands. Indeed …

THROUGH PRAYER, God wants us to
1.    engage the darkness … and then …
2.    watch his victory … and thereby …
3.    experience his power … and as a result …
4.    grow in faith and relationship … so that we will …
5.    engage the darkness again …
6.    and again …
7.    and again …
8.    and again …
9.    growing every time!

In Christ’s Love,
an old-fashioned explorer who wants
to learn to go more boldly wherever
the wind and the Spirit send me,
to claim new territory through prayer

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John 17:3 - Week 1 Day 3

Jesus said,
“Now this is eternal life,
that they may know you.”
John 17:3

When does eternal life begin?

The unthinking response is understandable: “When we die.”

Jesus redefines that today’s verse. It’s “when we know God.” It’s a relationship that begins here and never, ever, ever will end!

The question, therefore, is when – precisely – do we know God? Some analogies may help.

·         I know about President Obama, but I certainly don’t know Barack Obama.
·         I “know” my doctor, but I don’t really know my doctor.  
·         I know the family that’s been visiting our church, but I really don’t know them and they really don’t know me.
·         I do, however, know my son Robbie. I have a relationship with him. It is daily … and it has been daily for years.

Do you know God … or do you know about God? Whoa. Big question!

Author Philip Ryken says, “The reward for … prayer is prayer itself. … Prayer does not simply maintain the Christian life, it is the Christian life.” Or to blend that with Jesus words, “prayer is eternal life.”

Prayer is knowing God – intimately, personally, daily, and hopefully for an ongoing period of years. And as Philip Ryken’s statement suggests, the Christian life is not about going to church or studying your Bible – though those are good things – it’s knowing God personally … and we do that through prayer.

I don’t know about you, but I need to slow down the busyness so that I may more personally know – not just know about – my Father.

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who wants to
begin eternal life today
(without getting hit by a bus)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26--REVIVING: Reflecting on Deeper Life

Rest in the Lord, and
wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37:7

This week was busy. Exhausting – though wonderfully so. But I awoke this morning with a renewed energy. How about you?

I heard someone describe recently a truth about rest and refreshment. The biggest barrier to renewal is rut and routine. For most of us, every week is more or less the same – work, chores, errands, exhaustion. And when we’re not wearing deep ruts into the road of life, we’re wearing deep ruts and butt prints in our easy chair – which is where we fall when we’re exhausted at the end of each day.

Rut and routine kill. But refreshment comes when we do something out of the ordinary! We stretch our brain cells and utilize different skills. It’s like tackling something physical. After a big project, our muscles may be tired … but it’s a good tired!!! We feel good about ourselves and more grateful for that night’s rest.

Much of this week was like physical exercise. My brain cells were flexing. My faith was stretching. By the end of those days, my spiritual muscles were sore. But as I finished each day – wonderfully changing my ruts and routines – I was more grateful for each day and more grateful for each night.

And then as I awoke this morning, I found that I was praying more deeply than I have in ages. I’d been resting in the Lord, and I literally awoke praying! My unconscious spirit blended with my conscious spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of my ruts, and I want to keep up this rich spiritual exercise. I don’t want to be like the people who go to the gym once or twice, then go back to wearing ruts on couch. Tomorrow is a possible step one. See you between services – if you’d like – as we plan to study Pastor Chotka’s book.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy whose exercise
helps him rest even better

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25--I'M TIRED: Reflecting on Deeper Life

But Moses' arms grew tired.
So Aaron and Hur …
stood beside him
and held up his arms …
until the sun went down.
Exodus 17:12

Early in the Exodus, the Israelites faced a powerful enemy. By God’s providence, “11 whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.”

I don’t know about you, but after the Deeper Life Conference, I was both energized and exhausted.

That’s normal!

Like a mighty athlete, we have just run a great race. We set a new record … perhaps a personal best. What does a great athlete do next? Prepares to run again! Intends to set more records! But first, the athlete catches their breath!

It may take a few days before the great athlete is ready to once more. It may take you a few days after a mountain top experience to charge forward again too. Therefore, in the mean time, I hope you’re simply breathing. Deeply breathing!

The Old Testament word for Spirit is ru’ach. This rich old word also means breath. Slowly, deeply, intentionally breathe.

And if you sense that your spiritual breath is waning, call upon your most faith-filled friends, just like Moses called on Aaron and Hur. Invite them to hold up your hands and lift up your spirit.

Tired should be temporary. Uplifted can be permanent!

In Christ’s Love,
a sprinter in spurts who wants to be
a spiritual long-distance runner

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24--BEWARE OF DAY 3: Reflecting on Deeper Life

Then Moses ordered Israel
to set out from the Red Sea ...
They went three days in the wilderness
and found no water.
And the people complained
Exodus 15:22-24

It was a great week with Pastor Chotka.
What’s next?

Many of us just had a wonderful experience. We laughed. We learned something. We sensed the Spirit move. A hurt was healed. A problem was unstuck.

It was great. But what’s next?

Any confirmation student of mine can tell you how long the effects of signs and wonders lasts . . . just 3 days.

Here’s the principle:

The people of Israel were slaves in Egypt. When they cried for help, God raised up a deliver. In the days of Moses, the people of Israel saw ten powerful miracles. Then God did something even bigger. He parted the Red Sea!

How many days later was it until the people started complaining? Three days. Just three days.

In other words, the effect of signs and wonders can last as little as three days. The key words there are “can last.” The effects of signs and wonders can transform us for the rest of our lives. But it’s up to us.

When was the last time you experienced the power of God and the movement of the Spirit? What are you doing to keep those fires fanned?

·         Are you reading scripture more frequently?
·         Are you praying more diligently?
·         Are you gathering with friends of faith to pray?

God initiates and we respond. God moved. Now what are you doing to fan the flames?

If you want more and more and more blessings, it’s time to take a step … before the clock runs out on our three days and the fire turns to ashes. One step might be joining me Sunday morning at 10am in the Sanctuary (or next Wednesday at 7pm) as we launch a congregational study of Pastor Chotka’s book, Power Praying.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s ready to
jump into a good book

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23--RATIONAL vs. EMOTIONAL: Reflecting on Deeper Life

A spiritual gift is given to each of us
as a means of helping the entire church.
1 Corinthians 12:7

Dear Daily Devotional Group AND Participants in the Deeper Life Conference,

For a few days, I want to combine these two email lists as I follow up with all of you regarding questions from the Deeper Life Conference.

For those who weren’t able to participate in the conference, Pastor David Chotka, Canadian author of Power Praying, joined us for three days to talk about connecting more fully to God. It was powerful and exceptional. It was Bible and teaching. It was prayer and Spirit. And it was a lot to take in!!!

Therefore, for our devotions for the next few days I want to combine mailing lists as we reflect on the Biblical teachings prompted by this conference.

Is being more spirit-filled
… rational or emotional?

First, it is biblical

Second, it is rational.

Third, you should be able to feel something new and different.

But fourth, don’t confuse Spirit with emotion! (Though some indeed will surely experience wonderful emotions through it.)

Let me give you an example …

My primary spiritual gift – known for many years and confirmed this week – is Wisdom. Wisdom is a very useful gift for a pastor! Spiritual insight and godly discernment are very practical skills in pastoral counseling and preaching. (It helps to know what God kind-of-thinks before you kind-of-proclaim the Word of God!)

In general, my gift is on the dull, dry, practical, and intellectual end of the spiritual-infilling spectrum. It is very wonderful … but in a rather buttoned-downed kind of way.

In other words, my primary gift fits me like your primary gift probably fits you! Indeed, since God made you, trust him to fill you in ways that will bless you and stretch you.

In fact, God is already filling you. He initiates. He’s waiting. And how much you receive depends on how big or little you respond.

As we move forward rationally, let’s each celebrate whichever gifts God gives you … whenever he gives them. And let’s celebrate the gifts that God gives others – whether their gift is more rational or more emotional than yours. Indeed, if God is giving, let’s simply celebrate. Why? Because as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:7, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us …” Why? “… as a means of helping the entire church.”

Yes, let’s celebrate whichever and whenever Spirit and gifts show up!

In Christ’s Love,
a wise guy

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22 - Jeremiah 3:12-13

Deeper Life Conference Tonight, 6:30

I am merciful, says the Lord;
I will not be angry forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you have rebelled
against the Lord your God.
Jeremiah 3:12-13

Yesterday, we told the story of God warning Israel … and warning Israel … and warning Israel. Today is one of those earlier warnings.

Israel sinned. They disdainfully ignored the commandments. They followed other gods. They grieved the true God. And a God of truth and justice gets “angry,” as it says in our lesson for today.

Fortunately, our God of truth and justice is also “merciful.”

Did you ever make your parents angry? Were their eyes ever like lasers? Did steam ever come out of their ears? Did you ever cause them pain … and sleepless nights? I have a friend who says her daughter taught her to pray … and it was prayer that was drenched with a lot of worry and tears.

Now let me ask you another question … Did your parents stay angry forever.

God is gracious and merciful. Like a gentle parent, steam may occasionally come out of his ears, but he will not be angry forever.

And yet – in Jeremiah 3 – God has a condition for full restoration: Acknowledge your guilt.

This is confession. This is repentance. This is freeing!

God wants to set us free – in fact, through the cross, he already has – but sometimes we have to set ourselves free first. Confession frees us from the weight of sin. It brings the darkness into the light – and like a vampire, darkness shrivels in the face of God’s sun (and God’s Son).

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants to be
like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo
(“No More Tears”
… for God …
on account of me)

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 - Ezekiel 37:14

Deeper Life Conference Tonight, 6:30

I will put my Spirit in you
and you will live
Ezekiel 37:14

Dry bones.

That’s what this chapter is about.

God warned Israel. God warned Israel. God warned Israel. Prophet after prophet … God warned Israel.

When Israel failed to repent, God took his hand of protection off of his chosen people. God allowed Babylon to conquer his people in Judah. (Have you ever done that with your kids? Let them suffer the sting of their own consequences?)

To weaken their enemy’s political strength, the Babylonians scattered those they had conquered across the kingdom. They became like dry bones. Conquered. Separated. Scattered. Lifeless and dry.

But not abandoned!

God may have removed his hand of protection from Judah, but God didn’t permanently forsake his people. Through the work of Ezra and Nehemiah (and even King Cyrus of Persia, see Ezra 1:1-4), God would restore his chosen people in Jerusalem.

In the meantime, however, God gave his people comfort through the prophet Ezekiel. Once this prophet had declared doom … and it came true. Now this truth-teller was proclaiming hope. Israel was conquered, scattered, and lifeless. They felt like they were dry bones, ready for the grave. But God, through Ezekiel, promised to reconnect the foot bones to the shin bone, and the shin bones to the knee bones.

God was promising to stretch sinews and ligaments over these lifeless pieces of cartilage. He was promising to wrap Israel in skin again. Most of all, God promised to breathe! Like our Lord did at creation with a handful of dust, God promised to breathe the breath of life.

That’s the figurative image. The literal words from God are: “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live.”

In what areas and in what ways are you lifeless? Breathe deep! Because God is already breathing first. He’s causing his Spirit to blow like a mighty rushing wind. He wants nothing more than to give you new and bigger life.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s probably
more of a knucklehead
than a knuckle-bone

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 20 - Lamentations 5:21

Deeper Life Conference Tonight
Potluck 5:30, Conference 6:30

Restore us to yourself, O Lord
Lamentations 5:21

What does restore mean … or at least imply? It means that …

once something is right
now something is wrong
and somehow we want
to get back to what’s right.

Have you had seasons in life – spiritually – when all seemed right? I hope so!!! I hope there are always areas in your faith that just seem right.

At the same time, however, do you have areas in your life that are “not quite right”? Rarely am I completely right or completely wrong.

Usually, my faith is like a bunch of seagulls on the ocean. As they float upon the waves, one moment some birds are up and others are down. Other times, other birds are up and other birds are down. That’s my spirit. Sometimes one part of my faith is up while another is down. Other times, other parts are up and others are down.

But here’s the worst part of faith upon the waves. Sometimes one or two of things – griefs, doubts, sins – threaten to pull us completely under. Therefore, “Restore us,” is the desperate plea.

Now … notice the direction of the plea. Although I usually try to fix things myself, I shouldn’t be crying, “Ed, restore yourself.” Rather, I should be crying, “Restore me … restore us … to yourself, O Lord.”

It’s God – not us – who heals our hurts, soothes our griefs, renews our faith, and forgives our sins. Therefore, we should cry, “Restore us to yourself, O Lord.”

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who’s seasick
And wants to get off the waves
(O Lord, place my feet on solid ground)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19 - Psalm 82:3

Deeper Life Conference Begins Tomorrow

Maintain the right of
the lowly and the destitute.
Psalm 82:3

How do you do this? You?!

How do you literally maintain the right of the lowly and destitute?

One of the most constant calls of scripture is to care for the poor. How do you do it?

There are lots of ways to care for the poor …

·         Time. Some of us have more time than money.
·         Financial. Some of us have more many than time.
·         Prayer. How does the 90-year-old grandma on a fixed income care for the poor? Prayer.
·         Advocacy. How do you personally advocate for social programs that help the absolutely needy without creating a culture of dependency?
·         Local. The easiest way to help – especially in terms of time – is locally. Real people – our neighbors – have real hurts.
·         National. When tragedies happen – a tornado, for example – our heart’s hurt. That’s a call to give.
·         International. As bad as the needs are locally and across America, even America’s poor are rich by international standards. A few dollars can feed a child for a month.
·         Family. I heard today that 48% of Americans have helped a family member financially this year.
·         Church Family. Every week – in big ways and small – we’re helping out members at Spirit of Joy. Too many people are one paycheck away from disaster. What happens when there’s no margin … and then the transmission goes out … or a doctor bill needs paid? My discretionary account regularly is a lifeline for people in need.

There are lots of ways to maintain the rights, the viability, and the hope of the poor. How are you doing it?

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who tries to do
a little “all of the above”

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18 - Proverbs 19:3

People ruin their lives
by their own foolishness and
then are angry at the Lord.
Proverbs 19:3

On the sports shows last night, I heard a commentator discuss a talented young pitcher.

He’s a fire-baller. Unfortunately his temper is as heated as his fastball. Though one of the most talented pitchers in the game, he’d just lost a game. It’s inevitable. But he was class-less in his loss, blaming the rest of the team for the loss.

The commentator contrasted that to another talented pitcher that night. He’d pitched a masterpiece, but when he came out, the relief pitchers blew the game. This pitcher was much more classy. He didn’t blame others for the loss. He said essentially, “We play as a team. Sometimes I pitch well, and we lose as a team. Sometimes I pitch poorly, and my team picks me up. Win-or-lose, we’re a team.”

We know class and class-less-ness when we see it. Sometimes however it’s harder to see in ourselves. We live in a culture of victimization. Too many want to take bows for their successes, but too few want to take responsibility for their mistakes. It’s become standard to blame someone else.

Sports – done right – can teach us gracious winning and losing.

So can the Proverbs.

It’s a world-wide epidemic to go our own way … go our own way … go our own way … and then blame God when we get broken, human, or unintended results.

We live in a world of victimization. The solution is to follow His way … follow His way … follow His way … and then be thankful for whatever the results … trusting that good results are a blessing from the Lord … and realizing that challenges may lead to perseverance and perseverance may lead to character and character may lead to greater faith and sustaining hope.

In Christ’s Love,
a non-victim

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17 - Genesis 5:24

Enoch walked with God;
then he was no more,
because God took him.
Genesis 5:24

A friend emailed the other day asking about Enoch and the story about how he went to heaven. I thought I’d share it with you too!

1.    Enoch was one of only two humans who (according to scripture) never died. The other was Elijah, who was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire.

2.    Enoch walked with God. What does that mean? Adam is our model for both “walking with God” and a close relationship with God. The word picture that Genesis creates is that near the end of each day at the time of the evening breeze, God and Adam would walk together. They’d talk. They’d laugh. They’d share life. Like a curious child, full of wonder, Adam would probably ask a million questions of his Father. And it was friendship, relationship, joy.

3.    Enoch was depicted as walking with God too. The truly intimate walks with God ended, however, with sin and the Fall. Nevertheless, Enoch (and Jesus) are reminders that God still invites us to walk intimately with him … even after the Fall.

4.    The picture I have – which is probably more imagination than fact – is Enoch and God walking along together, discussing life. And as they walked – and without Enoch even knowing what was happening – the path beneath them began to disappear. Without Enoch even knowing what was happening, that invisible line between heaven and earth had disappeared. Enoch wasn’t walking on earth anymore. He was walking on something more firm and more eternal. He stepped right into heaven.

5.    Indeed, as scripture puts it: “Gen 5:24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.”

6.    That quote was from the NRSV. The New Living Translation takes out all the wonder, imagery, and mystery out of the verse; nevertheless, it wonderfully emphasizes faith as relationship as it says … “[Enoch] enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout his life. Then suddenly, he disappeared because God took him.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants
– as the old hymn sings –
“just a closer walk with Thee.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16 - Luke 15:18

4 days
Till Deeper Life Conference
6:30pm --- Sun, May 20 – Tues, May 22

I will get up and go to my father,
and I will say to him,
"Father, I have sinned against heaven
and before you."
Luke 15:18

The Prodigal Son is arguably the most important of all the parables.


Because it, first, gives us a powerful glimpse of God.

Jesus tells us that God has a heart. Indeed, it’s a passionate heart, the heart of a father, and a true father yearns for his children. He rejoices when they rejoice. He weeps when they weep. He grieves when they’re far away.

As much as it pains this Father, though, God allows us to make our own mistakes and deal with our own consequences. I’m part of a generation that’s known as the “helicopter parents.” Many of us hover over our kids. We try to help them kick open doors. We try to keep them from harm. And it’s no longer through wisdom and advice, it’s through intervention.

God, however, lets us prodigals wander off. The call is there. Wisdom permeates his Word. He also sends his Spirit – even interventionally. But he also allows us to make our own mistakes.

But there’s one more key. He waits eagerly for us to come to our senses and turn our hearts back toward home. Indeed, I love how the dignified, old man in the story, dropped all sense of decorum and RAN to greet his son. Indeed, God passionately pursues!

That’s basically enough for today! But once we learn who God is, it’s good to ask who we are too. Are we the prodigal who needs to turn back toward home, confessing our sins? Or are we more like the older brother who’s lived so close to the old man that we’ve started taking his generosity for granted? The answer is probably … “yes to both.”

In the ways that you’re straying, turn back! In the ways that you’re taking your faith for granted, open up! Our generous Father has more in store than you or I are experiencing yet!!!

In Christ’s Love,
a kid who wants more
(in a holy – not greedy – way)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15 - Joshua 3:10

5 days
Till Deeper Life Conference
6:30pm --- Sun, May 20 – Tues, May 22

By this you shall know
that among you is
the living God.
Joshua 3:10

As Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, God told them – in advance – that he would give them a sign. By parting the Jordan River and allowing for their safe passage, God wanted them to know that he was absolutely and powerfully in their midst. Why? Because soon he was going to ask them to do some hard things. He was going to ask them to do battle. He was going to compel them to wrench the territory away from their enemies.

When the angel of the Lord appear to shepherds in the wilderness, God promised them a sign too. Their task wasn’t hard – go to Bethlehem and look for a baby in a cattle trough – nevertheless, he wanted them to know that he was absolutely and powerfully in their midst.

Have you ever faced a difficult challenge? Have you ever wanted ironclad proof before believing something strange or wonderful? Have you ever asked for a sign?

Today I want to remind you that our Deeper Life Conference is starting this coming Sunday evening! The goal is to help us hear – literally hear – from God.

Maybe this event is your sign. God wants to move more fully in your life. The barrier, however, is you … and me. We stand in our own way.

In our announcements last Sunday, the speaker said, “We’ll gladly devote a few nights a week to American Idol … or to sports practice … or the nightly news … or a favorite hobby. This week, why not devote two or three evenings to God. He wants to show that he is absolutely and powerfully in your midst!

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’ll see you there

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14 - Esther 7:2-4

the king again said to [Queen] Esther,
"What is your petition … ? It shall be granted you …”
Then Queen Esther answered
“Let my life be given me … and the lives of my people …
For we have been sold … to be annihilated”
Esther 7:2-4

Do you remember the story of Esther? A foreign king marries the most beautiful woman in the land, Esther. Esther is Jewish, but the king doesn’t know it. (He’s much more interested in her beauty than her identity or her brains.)

God is active, however. He has placed Esther in this place for “such a time as this” (Es 4:14). When one of the kings henchmen starts persecuting the Jews, Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, convinces her to reveal her identity and save her people.

Do you believe that God has placed you where he’s placed you precisely for “such a time as this”?

He has.

Like a reluctant Esther, we sometimes feel like we she should “keep religion in its place.” Therefore, we are often too silent when culture steps on religion.

Let’s be warm. Let’s be winsome. Let’s be joyful, rather than shrill. But let’s be bold enough to speak up before freedoms are annihilated.

In Christ’s Love,
Mr. Esther

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13 - Psalm 1:1-2

Happy are those who …
delight … in the law of the Lord
Psalm 1:1-2

In the book I’m reading right now, Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth, there’s a chapter entitled “Rediscovering Joy.”

Do you want a little more joy? Do you want your dreams to come true? Well Nancy Pearcey begins with the story of a man whose dream came true!

He got into the right college. He got into the right law school. He got the right job. He married the right woman. He had the right number of kids. He went to the right church. But he was still unhappy.
Have you ever felt like that? You keep working harder. You keep chasing happiness. You keep collecting more and more stuff. Maybe you even retire, hoping for a little more bliss. And still you’re not happy. How come?

Maybe you’re like the man in the story. He realized that he was living in two worlds. On the one hand, he lived in a world of faith and family. It was a good world, built on the foundation of honor and integrity. But then he did battle all day in a world of compromise. The goal of law – at least in his corner of the legal world – wasn’t truth and justice. It was winning and losing. All day he shielded facts, misdirected attention, and compromised his integrity. He was double-minded, double-hearted, and double-souled. He was not whole. And he was not happy.

Most of you are probably not lawyers. But do you compromise your integrity … even when you turn on the TV? We live in two different worlds, and we’re not happy because we’re not whole.  

Rediscovering joy begins with finding God’s light, truth, plans, and purposes in every part of our life.

How did the lawyer rediscover joy? He stayed a lawyer. But rather than trying and suing so much, he used every contact to counsel his clients on the spiritual principles that were causing their legal frustrations. And many of those people wound up not going to court. He may not have made as much money. But that’s not what life is about. He was suddenly and simply more whole … and more joyful.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants to be
as joyful as a lawyer

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12 - Romans 1:18-25

for although they knew God
they did not honor him as God
Romans 1:18-25

·         A passage like this tempts us to ask: Do you know God?
·         And then we’re tempted to wrestle with matters like: “to what degree”?
·         Then we’re likely to rate ourselves.
·         Then we either feel good about ourselves … or bad about ourselves.
·         Either way, we begin to say it’s “normal” to have a divided heart, knowing him 80%, and being uncertain 20%.
·         And that’s not the point at the end of Romans 1! (Read Romans 1:18-25)

Paul tells us that ALL people know God.

All people?! Yes! Paul says, “Ever since the creation of the world … [God’s] eternal power and diety ha[ve] been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.”

As people of faith, you’ve probably seen God’s fingerprints all over creation? You probably look around this world occasionally, saying, “Ahhh!” and “Wow!” and “Thank you!” But Paul contends in Romans 1 that ALL people should be in awe. Paul states that we should ALL know God. Why? “Because what can be known about God is [absolutely clear, absolutely wonderful, and absolutely] plain.” Indeed, Paul says that those who don’t know God are “without excuse.”

The question, however, is this: Does our failure to acknowledge God have societal consequences? Absolutely. Why? Because whoever controls creation controls culture.

What does that mean? Let me give you an example. For 150 years, science has taught that creation was random (evolution). Now, my goal is not to explain today how creation scientifically took place, but to simply say this: A random creation leaves no room for God. And when we don’t acknowledge an active God, Paul says that three things will happen …

1.    We will “not honor him.”
2.    We will “bec[o]me futile in our thinking.”
3.    And our “minds will become darkened.”

Do you see that happening in our society? Absolutely! 1) Fewer and fewer people honor God, 2) more and more people are looking to “things” for hope, and 3) people’s minds and actions are becoming darker and darker.  

I don’t know about you, but I want to change this! Therefore, in order to testify to our friends, let me simplify the science of creation to one clear thought: “No matter how the world was created, I believe in an active God! I believe he is wise, he is good, he is creative, and his fingerprints are absolutely everywhere!”

Maybe we can begin to take back a dark and hopeless culture by beginning to vocally “honor[ing] him as God.”

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who’s for the best science!
(Faith and science can mix.)
Because if God created everything – including science –
We don’t have to be afraid of anything!!!!