Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Trials and Blessings part 2

So we made it to Phoenix. I have been sick for the last 2 days, fever over 103. I was so sick I thought I was going to die. It's Christmas eve, and I am starting to recover. I am excited about the gift of the Chevy Malibu, we have awesome friends. I need to figure out what to do with our van, which is stuck in North Platte Nebraska. We are so thankful for God's protection.

I was thinking about it last night how lucky we really were. We started to break down about 10 to 15 miles outside of Paxton Nebraska. It was dark and cold, and we limped into a Days Inn and parked. We stayed the night, got up to try to get to North Platte and didn't even get off the on ramp when the tranny went out. I can't imagine what we would have done if it went out that night in the dark and the cold somewhere between towns in Nebraska. God was looking out for us and taking care of us the entire time. His grace and mercy is so amazing.

Thank you all for your prayers. I am feeling better today, and the weather is awesome. I am excited to see all my Sioux City friends again soon, but I am enjoying Arizona for the time being.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trials and blessings

So Elaine and I left Sioux City Friday morning to head to Arizona for Christmas. Everything was going fine until mid Nebraska. Long story short, we lost the tranny around Paxton Nebraska. We got towed to North Platte Nebraska, and our friend Dan came to pick us up. He drove us back to his house in Cheyenne Wyoming. It's been an adventure so far, but it seems like God is going to take care of us. Our friends are letting us use a van, and another friend is giving us a car. Wild, eh. God takes care of us, and we are so blessed and so thankful that God is taking care of us. Thanks for your prayers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Merry X-Mas

Yes, I said it, X-Mas. Before you write me a dirty comment, I want to unpack this a little. As Christians, we have to stop yelling at the rooftops about stuff like this. Here is why. Pagans and Atheist didn't come up with X-Mas. It wasn't a result of the Anti-Christ, in fact it's a Christian invention. X is the Greek letter for Christ. X = Christ. So X-Mas is Christ Mas. We as Christians came up with it, then it became widely used, and we forgot the origins and then got mad and yelled at anyone who used it.

On top of that, stop yelling about Happy Holidays. If you are a Christian, that’s great, I am so happy you are in the family. Don’t assume everyone else is a Christian. Some people are Jewish, and they celebrate Hanukah. You don’t hear the Jews getting mad because of the Happy Holidays, they don’t demand we all say Happy Hanukah. I don’t know what Kwanzaa is all about, but I know it’s during the same time. And we all celebrate New Years, unless you are using the Chinese calendar.

Here is the point. We have become so culturally Christian that we forgot what is means to be a Christian. We tell people about Christ, not demand they use his name as part of a holiday celebration. If you say Merry Christmas, but don’t know Jesus, you’ll still go to hell. Sorry, but it’s the truth. If you make someone say Merry Christmas, and they don’t know Jesus, you haven’t helped. If you boycott Hallmark because they don’t have cards with Nativity Scenes on them, you have doomed a secular company by removing the witness they so desperately need. Protest people to hurt children, abuse students and kill babies. Leave poor Hallmark alone.

Salt and Light. Now you can say Merry Christmas, but don’t get mad at everyone else who doesn’t. I saw Petco has a sign on the door that had every holiday that is around the month of December. These poor people, they probably pray every night that God will keep us at home and not in their faces about their choice of holiday greetings! Think about it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Talking to yourself is not praying

So there is this book called Conversations with God. In the conversations, the guy writes that God is in humans. So he is having a conversation with himself? How is this on the New York Times Best Seller list? What happened to our culture where people read this dribble? I can wax elequent for 200 pages about the way I think the world it, but I don't have the gall to title it "conversations with God". We have that book already, it's over 3,000 years old. It's actually a bunch of books, making up two volumes, Old and New Testament. Anyway, I was shocked and I wanted to share my annoyance. I never realized that you could make the best sellers list by writing a book about talking to yourself.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving

I am thankful for a lot. First and foremost I am thankful for my salvation. I am thankful that God loves and cares for me. I am thankful because He has blessed me far beyond what I deserve, with a beautiful wife, 3 kids and my dream job. I haven't had a perfect life, I have experienced some loss, but I have gained far more than I have ever lost. Each one of you who is reading my blog has blessed me. My friends from Golden Gate, my friends from ministry in Arizona, my friends from Heartland, my friends from Wyoming, my friends scattered. Each person that God has brought into my life has touched me, blessed me and helped me to grow. I am thankful for the chance to know you all, and to learn from you. What a great and mighty thing God does when He blesses us.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Too late at night to be blogging.

Ever been grumpy for some seemingly unknow reason? Sort of grumpy tonight. Not sure why, had a good day. It was my day off, so I didn’t work much. I did a few e-mails and that was about it. Took the boys to a movie, hung out, made homemade pizza. So what’s my problem.

Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe it’s all the things I wanted to should have done today and didn’t. Maybe it’s that I’m a sinful man, trying to live redeemed but doing so poorly. After all, this blog is completely and totally self-absorbed, it’s all about how I feel and what I did and what I think.

I was going somewhere with all this. Stopped to talk to Elaine, and completely lost my train of thought. Anyway, I shouldn’t be grumpy, I should be content. Things are going well, life is good. Even when life is hard, those trials are the very thing that make me look more like Christ. Maybe I’m grumpy cause things are going well and I’ve gotten complacent. Maybe it’s cause I need to go to bed and I’m not. Who knows. I'll be happier tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

modality

Now if you started reading my blog thinking I was going to talk about the heresy of modalism, you will be disappointed. What I am talking about is the way we “do church”. I have been reading a book called Pagan Christianity. I have read Simple Church, Kingdom Focused Church, Purpose Driven Church, and a bunch of books that aren’t about the church, but they way we should behave in church. Small groups, Sunday School, Corporate worship, House Churches, who should lead, what they should lead and when and where they should lead it. Who started what and when and why.

Here is my conclusion. No one is happy with anything in the church. Big churches should be smaller, small churches should be larger. Some want praise songs, some want hymns. Most of the time, there is minimal scriptural evidence to support this stuff. Book after book after book of half-cocked arguments. Now with Pagan Christianity, the book says we shouldn’t even have a church service. We shouldn’t have paid clergy (unemployment here I come), or church buildings or music or any of that stuff.

Here is what else annoys me. 99% of the stuff that is being argued is details. We have done a church service the same way for 200 years. We have prayer, singing, sermon, passing the plate and invitation, not always in that order. It hasn’t changed, but we argue about what sort of plates to pass, how fast the music should be, and if we should pray in old, middle and modern English.

Here is my answer. DO WHAT GOD TELLS YOU. Just as equally important. DON’T ASSUME GOD TOLD EVERYONE ELSE WHAT HE TOLD YOU. God told Joshua to kill a whole lot of people. Doesn’t mean you should. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. You shouldn’t, God may not intervene for you. God told Noah to build a big boat. He didn’t tell you to build a big boat. Listen and then obey. A pastor named Don Pierson told a prayer conference I was in that God expects the time from His command to your obedience to be very short. If you have to stop and tell everyone else how to do what God told you, it makes your obedience be longer. If God tells you to go to a house church, then go. If God tells you to go to a big church, a small church, a growing church, even a dying church, because He wants you to breath life.

Be obedient is first. Be scriptural is second. I can’t list all the things that we want to do in church because it’s cultural, not scriptural. Guess what, there are things that make sense that are wrong. Rule of thumb, if you have to create an elaborate theology, filled with logic and reason to justify your position, it’s probably off. If your position cannot be justified by scripture, then maybe it’s time to rethink. Even if your idea is not popular, God is not real concerned with you being popular.

Last thing. Quit complaining. Too many whiners out there. In football, they call those armchair quarterbacks. If you are unhappy, either do something about it, or be happy. Either trust God that He put that leader or leadership team in place, or reality is that you are at a church where you feel that God didn’t put the leadership in place. If that’s the case, why are you still there? Then we can have less books to tell us what’s right or what’s wrong or what’s good or what’s bad. I closed a blog with the statement about being a church and being The Church. Be part of the worldwide body of Christ. Minister to others, witness, evangelize, help, reach out. All the time we spend talking and fighting and backbiting, and causing divisions and factions takes away from the time we need to spend being The Church, the Catholic (which means universal, I’m not referring to the denomination) Church.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BCI

So what is BCI you are asking. It's the Baptist Convention of Iowa. This was my first outing to the BCI, and I had a good time. It was very similar to Wyoming, much different from Arizona. It made me miss the ASBC, I miss seeing the state guys, I miss Dr. Bass. The State Missionary, Jimmy Barantine is a really nice guy, but a little less personable than Steve Bass. Things are much more spread out here, so there is less contact.

There is an ideology here about being Christians and not Southern Baptists, which I agree with. I think we are followers of Christ first, but I am always nervous about when being a SB is minimized and marginalized. I have been a Southern Baptist my whole life, and these years as I have aged, it's been by choice. I have looked at CMA, and E-Free churches. As a young minister, no one gave me opportunity to serve like the SBC. At the age of 32, I have been a NAMB appointed missionary twice over, served as Associate Pastor in 3 churches, graduated with a Masters from a Seminary without huge debts. I have a chance to pursue my doctorate in a few years. The SBC has given me some great opportunity.

The Southern Baptists do great mission work, we reach throughout the world to share the gospel. They do missions at home, around the world. They have the cooperative program which funds missions and church planting and outreach projects. I picked up a huge stack of items at the BCI annual meeting for no cost. I get trainings, downloads, helps and studies from our SBC partners.

All that being said, theology is solid, the methods are solid for the most part. The SBC makes mistakes, it’s not infallible, but it’s good and solid. They do a lot to reach the world, to reach your town and help your church (assuming you are a member of a Southern Baptist church). Lets not be so down on the SBC people, let’s support and partner and do what we can do to be The Church, and not just a church.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A boy and his dog, the end of an era.


I had to take my dog to the vet to be put down this morning. He was 14, completely blind, becoming cripple, developing sores, he was no longer housebroke, he got sick frequently. He wasn't doing well, and I have my doubts he was a happy dog. I had Lazarus when my parents died, when I got married, when I had all three kids. He was there for my High School, College and Seminary graduation. He was a dog, but I really loved that dog.

So now he's gone. The world wont notice much, he wasn't much of a contributor. We will miss him, even though he was a pain sometimes, he was my dog. There is no real way to say goodbye to a faithful friend and companion. He was a good dog. Goodbye old friend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Concerned over California

So I heard on the radio today that the new constitutional amendment in the state of California is in court. So here is the deal, they passed a law to define marriage as one man and one woman. The courts over turned it, said it was unconstitutional. So they made an amendment. If the courts throw this amendment out, then they have in effect thrown off the restrains and balances, and the courts will be able to rule, legislate and dictate our country regardless of the will of the people. Out democracy will be a farse, the will of the people will not matter and the courts will rule. It's a very scary situation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stand corrected

Ok, I stand corrected, and I admit I was wrong. In a sense, I am glad I was wrong. I am glad to see this nation is not blind by it's own prejudice as much as I originally thought. On that side it's good. Now, as far as Obama being president. I don't agree with his stance on Abortion rights, Gay rights, Health Care and many of his economic policy. What I do believe is that God knows what He is doing, so if God allowed Obama to be elected, I will continue to trust Him.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Election today

Well I wanted to post my thoughts on the election. I voted today, it seemed rather anti-climatic. John McCain or Barack Obama. Now I have been correct in my assertions the last 2 presidental elections. I said George W Bush would be president when I saw him on Time magazine before the 2000 eleciton. I said Bush would beat Kerry in the 04. I have said this country is not to a place where it will elect a black man to be president. We will see if I am correct.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Motivations

I have been thinking a lot lately about motivations. Why do we do what we do? Why do I do things I want to do, why do I want to do them? Why do I do the things I don’t want to do? I was watching something the other day, and a commercial came on for some movie. There was a man and a woman fighting and she said “I want you to want to do the dishes”. He said “why would I want to do the dishes”. So I asked myself, why do I do the dishes? I don’t want to, but I do them. I know why, you can ponder it. You can probably guess.

So you knew I was going to turn this back to the church at some point. There are a few books I am reading, one is from the Barna Group, it’s called Pagan Christianity. I haven’t finished it, so I won’t give you my take on it. I will tell you I didn’t completely agree with Revolution by Barna, and this is in the same vain. The book points out that much of what we do in the modern church, the way we do modern church is pagan. It’s not from the New Testament, it’s taken from the way pagans do church, ergo the name, Pagan Christianity.

That got me thinking about American Christianity. There are things we do in the American church that seem out of place. Ask most older Christians, especially older (and some younger) deacons and pastors about tattoos, what will they say? It’s sin. Why, cause it’s in the Bible. If you are unfamiliar with that passage of scripture, I invite you to read it. It’s in Leviticus chapter 19, but don’t just read verse read vs 19-37. Why are tattoos a big deal, but no one ever talks about the rest of that passage? I have my theories, but I think most of it comes down to tradition and what we consider acceptable moral behavior. Tattoos, drinking, dancing, playing cards and rock ‘n’ roll music. I have heard my fair share of why rock and roll is from the devil, even if you have Christian lyrics.

What about the word Jehovah. Why do we use it? It’s the word Yahweh with the vowels for Adonai. It’s a method that the Hebrews used to make sure they didn’t accidentally pronounce the name of the Lord in vain. The used it because it’s not the name of God, therefore it was safe to say. We know that. It’s in commentaries, dictionaries, online, and now in this blog. Why do we use it? Is it because Jehovah-Jireh sounds better than Yahweh-Jireh? Why do we use a name for God that isn’t really a name for God?

Maybe I just have too much time on my hands and think about strange things. I know there are some wonderful people with a heart for the Lord who do what they have been taught, giving the best they have to the Lord, and that is honorable. There are many who strive for personal holiness. That’s awesome. My goal in this blog isn’t to offend anyone or make you question your motives (well maybe a little), but it’s my attempt to critically think about things. I guess maybe since I am reading this Barna book, and being made to examine all the practices that I cling to (such as paid clergy, according to this book, I shouldn’t have a job). Things like preaching and Sunday School are being examined. Guess I would share the wealth a little.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Healing

Ok, this is going to be an unpopular post. . . . maybe. I am doing some reading, and I keep coming across stuff about healing. There are lots of "formula's" for healing. Do you know what I mean? Pray, lay hands, pray scripture, annoint with oil, confess, repent. Now these things are biblical, and we do them. Why don't we have healing?

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:14-15 (ESV)

That seems like a pretty straight forward verse, right? Call the elders, pray over him, anoint him with oil and the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick. So why does it seem to happen so seldom in our churches?

Well, I'm not a dispensationalist, so I don't think it has anything to do with the century we live in. I am also not a methodist, (not the denomination, the view that the power is in the method), so I don't think it has anything to do with the methods we are using. I don't think we need to say the right words in the right order, use the right brand of olive oil.

Here is what I think the issue is. I think it’s our viewpoint. We know and have learned so much about illness and disease, and we know what a huge deal it is to be healed of things we have no modern cure for. We don’t pray healing for a sinus infection, we just go to the doctor and get some anti-biotic. The things we really pray for are the big diseases that modern medicine cannot heal.

When it comes to the big diseases, things like Cardio-myopicy, something I have been praying is healed for some friends. Diseases like cancer which touch all of our lives. Lifelong infirmities and diseases, we pray for those, but I think we have tainted motives. Our motives aren’t impure, we love and care about the people we pray for, but I think there is something else that is often greater than our love. Something inherently selfish about our prayer for healing, and it’s told to us specifically in scripture that if this is our motive, we will not get it.

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Matt 12:38-39 (ESV)

If we are honest with ourselves, which do we want more, healing or a sign? Do we want a visible manifestation that God is working, that He is on our side? Sometimes we even ask Him for a sign. Our sins are forgiven, we have the Holy Spirit inside, but so often, we want to see more. I think we have mixed motivations. First, we want to be sure that we have it right. Want to be assured. I think we believe that evangelism will happen, that people will come to Christ if they see a sign. Jesus restored the ear of a servant that has been cut off. The mob still crucified Jesus, after seeing Him perform that miracle and all the miracles that He performed before that.

So, in conclusion, I think (and here is the unpopular part) that we are so often an evil and adulterous generation, seeking after a sign, wanting to show the world that our God is better than medicine and better than new age healers or whatever. We want to prove it. Sometimes we get into a “my dad can beat up your dad” argument. We want God to prove it, send fire from heaven, heal the disease and we can sing His praises with a chorus of “I told you so” at all those pagan doctors who said there was no hope. Am I wrong? I sure wish I was, but I don’t think I am. Feel free to disagree.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I love my wife.

In the book of Genesis, Abraham sends a servant to find a wife for Isaac. He finds Rebekah, who is a servant, waters the camels of the servant of Abraham. The servant brings her back to Isaac, and he loved her.

I didn't have a servant to go find me a wife, but God made sure he found the perfect woman for me. She is a servant, she does more for me than I could ask. Just like Isaac, my wife is beautiful in every way. She takes care of me when I am sick, and celebrates with me when things are good. She stands beside me when things are hard. She is my wife, my best friend, gave me three beautiful children and limitless happiness. I'm a very luck guy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hammers and swords

Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. Neh 4:17-18 (ESV)

Have you ever tried to build a wall with a sword in your hand? I haven't, but I am beginning to understand the wisdom in this. In ministry, in the church, we have to do two things. The first is to maintain the day to day operations. There are things to be done every day in the church. Much of these are comparable to the fighting. If you read in Nehemiah, the purpose of the swords is to keep at bay those who desire to cause disruption and chaos. We do the same sort of things in church work, trying to keep chaos at bay by the daily work and planning and day to day operations. It does seems sometimes that the day to day operation of the church can become consuming. They begin to eat my time, my duties become just day to day, week to week.

The problem is, if I spend all my time fighting off the enemy, there is no work being done on the wall. The battle will continue with no real progress being made. I am working to make sure I continue to build the wall, or in this place, the House of God. I will build with one hand and the other I will fight.

Putting together long term plans are never easy. Looking at purpose and function, instead of just doing things, doing things with a purpose. I have to ask the question, "why are we doing that?" or "what impact will that have?" It will cause me to have to fight and build for the same purpose, to build a strong house.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

God's faithfulness

I know, this is 2 blogs in one day, but in my study I found this passage and had to share.

Let me start with background. In Jewish custom if 2 people made a covenant, the took an animal, a ram or a goat or a bull, and cut it into 2 pieces, right down the center line. They look and laid them to form an aisle between them. Then person making the covenant would then walk between the pieces and say "if I break this covenant, let it be to me as it is to this animal". It then became a binding covenant. The Hebrews were masters of the symbolic.

In Genesis 15:9, God asks for some animals and had them cut in half. Later in verse 17, it was The Lord who passed between the pieces. It wasn't Abraham who had to toe the line, it was God. God took the initiative, the responsibility and made it happen.

One more interesting point. God had a plan to destroy the Amorites because of their wickedness, but they hadn’t committed the acts yet. Verse 16 says “for the iniquity of the Amorties is not yet complete.” If you want predestination and free will put together, there is your verse.

All things for good, but why?

Do you know Romans 8:28? Lots of people do. It says "all things work together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to His purpose". We like to quote that verse, but have you stopped and wonder why? Why do all things work for the good? The nice answer is simply "because God loves me", but God loves you more than that. He wants more than you just to have a good life.

Read futher, for those He called, He also predestined to do what? Be conformed into the imagine of His son. Ok, what does that mean? It means bad things happen for your good by making you look more like Jesus. When things go bad, when they turn sour, when the trials come, it's to make you like Jesus. It's not to make you rich, God doesn't promise to resuce your 401K. He loves you more than that. He doesn't just want to provide for you in the next 60 years, he wants to provide for you beyond 60 billion years and into eternity.

We know that all things work together for our good by making us look more like Jesus. Roman 8:28-29, Dan paraphrase.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Self-inflicted stuff

Bars. Ever been to a bar? I've been in several, and most of it was when I was delivering Pizza. There was that time my junior year at the University of Wyoming, but we won't talk about that. Have you ever met someone who went into a bar, spend the whole night, came out loaded and broke, and said "that was an awesome idea!" Usually you have to wait until they sober up, wake up and then try to figure out where they are. Natural response is "I'll never do that again". I have known a lot of people who have gone to bars, and then done other things and then realized "that was a bad idea". Then the next weekend, guess where they are.

So my question is, why? Why do we continue to do things that don't turn out well? Ever notice we do something dumb, and then do it again? It's like Eve. First, she wanders over to the tree. Notice, it never said, "the snake led Eve to the tree". She did that on her own, and apparently, Adam wasn't far behind. Then the snake says "eat it" and she said "if I touch the fruit, I'll die". Then she touches the fruit (after saying it will make her die) and thinks to herself "well, that turned out ok, so lets just eat the fruit". Always gotta push it to the next level.

So I do it. You do it. Why do we do it? We recognise bad decisions, we can say "that's a bad choice because. . . " and then we do it anyway. We don't even have a snake to blame for it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mortification

I decided that I am going to blog, first thing this morning. I have so many thoughts on my way into the office, then I do a load of other things and lose all my thoughts. I don't have the memory of a Jonathan Edwards.

I have a confession to make. I sin. I know that's not a shock to anyone, but I struggle with it. Not that I believe I am perfect, but I believe He is perfect and the scripture states "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matt 5:48 (ESV).

Paul says to crucify the flesh, to put to death the deeds of the flesh. I try, my flesh is like the villian in some cheap horror film. I kill it and sacrifice it and slay it and it comes back, again and again. It causes me pain, I carry anguish over my failings with my flesh.

I was talking with the Lord this morning on my way into the office. I carry a lot of baggage that stems from theology passed to me from my Hyper-Calvinist mother. She was raised a presbyterian in North Carolina, which is very reformed. In addition to her Hyper-Calvinism, she believed strongly in God's punishment for sin, both those sins you are aware of and sins that you were unaware of. Even now, as an adult, as a pastor I have great fear of punishment, of reprisal. There are things that have happened in my life that I have told myself are punishments for my sins.

I realized that I sometimes view God though the lense of my sin. I see Him as angry. During the prayer conference this week, I tuned into the things that confirmed that belief. That God Doesn't and God Won't, and all the things that my sin does that moves me farther and farther from His presence and makes Him angry.

So this morning, I cried out for forgiveness again. I cried out for forgiveness for the same sins I have confessed over and over. It's guilt and self torture, and maybe even a lack of faith. Perhaps I am sinning by focusing so much on my own sin (see, I'm messed up). Perhaps one day I will find peace, rise above my sin and my flesh. Perhaps I will find a way to stake my flesh to the ground with a tent spike. Until then, I struggle with this mortification of the flesh.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pause for reflection

Stop. Reflect for a minute. I don't do that enough, I think and act and decide and move forward. It's sort of my nature. I have been holding off my blog for a few days. We just finished a prayer conference this weekend, and I was pushed around a little. I had to stop, think and reflect.

I have been moved around. You know when someone says something you agree with and it changes your perception, you are moved. Then I thought about some things, and didn't agree totally. I was moved again. I don't think they were heresies, but I come from a slightly different theological point of view, so it moved me again. Then I saw the effect on people around me, and I moved a little more. After all the movement, I sorta feel . . . well sloshed.

So I don’t have a comment about the prayer conference, just one comment in general. Stop for a second. The Bible calls this “being still”. We are to be still and know He is God. You see, so many things we do are based on different parts of our makeup. Sometimes we are appealed to intellectually, sometimes emotionally, sometimes spiritually. Sometimes our sentiments, sometimes we are played towards or against our passions. Sometimes a speaker comes in and we are captivated, and sometimes repulsed. We are pushed and pulled and moved by all the forces.

Stop. Be still. In reflection, some things about my prayer life will change. Some things about my spiritual life will change. Some things need to change. Some things that I was told need to change, won’t change, and some things I was told don’t need to change will change. I think Don Pierson (the speaker) would tell you that if you feel that God is moving you, and it’s in opposition to what I tell you or he tells you or your pastor on Sunday tells you, move. If God calls, move. If man calls, sometimes you need to stop. Maybe for a moment, maybe longer. So now that this blog is complete, stop.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why did Jesus do that?

Elaine and I were talking this morning about the fig tree. Do you remember the fig tree? In Mark 11:12-14, Jesus comes to a fig tree, but it has no figs. The text says "it was not the season for figs". Jesus curses the tree, says "May no one eat of your fruit again". Jesus then goes and cleanses the temple. He comes back by the next day and Peter notices the tree is withered. Jesus says if we have faith, we can throw mountains in the sea.

Ok, now I understand the teaching moment of Jesus, saying if we have faith, we can wilt the fig tree, but why do it in the first place? It was suggested in my conversation with Elaine this morning that it's an illustration of the importance of breakfast. Perhaps Jesus' blood sugar was low, and he cursed the fig tree and drove out the money changers. Perhaps the next day, he ate a good breakfast and was able to make a lesson out of the tree.

In reading and studying, some say that from a distance, the tree looked healthy, having leaves. I read someplace that a fig tree sprouts fruit before leaves, so this would have been a tree that shouldn’t have had leaves or figs, because it wasn’t time. Adam Clarke said that some fig tree go early, putting out figs and then leaves, and Jesus was hoping for some early figs. Finding just leaves, he curses the tree. Perhaps Jesus was looking for the ‘first fruits’ of the fig tree, even though it was not time for the full harvest.

Another commentary said it’s a parable for fruitless Christians who look like they are mature, having leaves, yet are not. Some say it’s a representation of Israel. I think all of these come together.

When Jesus comes back to the tree, he talks about faith. Now having the faith to wilt a fig tree, that would be pretty cool, but I don’t think that’s the point. Jesus didn’t come and die so I can have salvation and wilt fruit trees. I think my life is sometimes reflected in the tree. Sometimes I have works, ie leaves, but lack faith, the figs. When this happens, I begin to wilt spiritually. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6. So in my life, I need to make sure my figs (faith) sprout before my leaves (works). What do you think?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's wrong with this picture

So normally I try to blog about theological reflection, truthes, Biblical texts. Today, I am totally lost for words, but had to share what I saw. I was on Facebook, which gives ads based on your age, gender, marital status. I get ads for Christian concerts, for writers stuff, for kids stuff. The ad I got today had a picture of a woman holding a little girl. She looked very happy, had a big smile. The tagline read this "Getting a divorce in Iowa? Save money and represent yourself". You have to be kidding me. What kind of a world do we live in where people are happy and smiling about getting a divorce. Ug. Just wanted to share my disgust.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Struggle

Do you struggle? I struggle. I struggle with doing the right thing, with physical pain, with emotional hurt, with failure and unmet expectations. I think we all struggle and we all suffer. I have been wondering a lot lately about why we suffer and why we struggle. After all, wouldn't it just be easier of God just took away all our struggles with doing what's right? I know what the Bible tells us:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Cor 10:13 (ESV)

Just because I can endure it, however, doesn’t mean I always do. Can’t I just be zapped with a holiness beam? Apparently not, and I think it’s a good thing. I need Jesus, not just for salvation as a one time process, but continually, to help me and give me strength and to forgive me and to love me. I am now and for the rest of my life completely dependant upon Jesus. He gets all the glory, all the credit and all the honor. I continue to struggle to become less and less dependant upon me, and more and more dependant upon Him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Timothy

When I was younger, my youth pastor invested in me. He mentored me and took me under his wing and gave me some great opportunities. When I got a little older, my pastor really took me under his wing, took me aside and told me about being in ministry. He invested a lot into me. When I got into junior college our Director of Missions took me under his wing. He worked with me to start a college group at our junior college. He walked beside me, taught me and gave me guidance. When I went away to the university, the pastor of the church I went too took me aside. He took me under his wing, gave me guidance and really invested in me.

Do you see a pattern emerging here? I have friends in ministry who never had this, and they long for it. They grew up in churches where the pastors didn't invest in them, a few of my friends didn't grow up in church, and never had the chance.

I don't think it happens today like it should. I think the mentoring, investing and guiding principle that Paul demonstrated is lost. I'm not going to lose it. Men have invested in me, so I am going to invest in some guys. I know of a few young men at Heatland, a couple are youth, a few are in their 20s that I am going to invest myself in. I am going to walk with them, tell them what I can that will help them. I want to invest myself in others like those men invested in me. Who can you invest in?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

broken

There is a young lady in our church, maybe 10 years my senior at most who has cancer. Things medially look bleak for Mary Jo, so please pray for her. I barely know Mary Jo, I've met her officially once, and been in a few worship services with her. She isn't able to be at church, as you can understand. This one has me pretty broken. She has a husband and 2 children, about the same age as my older 2.

We prayed last night for Mary Jo. I have prayed all night about Mary Jo, feeling broken. I realized something, that praying for Mary Jo, I am getting some healing also. About a year ago, something happened in my life that caused a big part of me to die inside. I have been pretty emotionally dead, or at least crippled for about 11 months now. Another part died about 9 years ago when my parents died. Mary Jo needs healing, but so do I.

I made a comment to Gene last night that if I was burdened for the lost like I am burdened for Mary Jo, I would be a different person. We ask for healing for those we relate too, and I can be burdened for those who I can empathize with. Some people, I can't relate too. We don't pray as earnestly for someone who is in their 90s who is dying. We expect them to die as they age, it's the way things are "suppose" to work.

So here I sit in my office on a Wednesday morning. Thinking about my life and how much sense it does or doesn't make. Trying to be a better person, a better pastor. Struggling with life and death, with emotions and hurts and healing. Trying to make something that is not about me at all into something that’s entirely about me. I guess I thought it would all be easier than this.

That brings me to my final conclusion. It’s suppose to be like this. The Bible is full of talk about suffering, the world, about pain and sorrow. Jesus experienced it, the prophets, the great men of faith. We don’t learn without it. Sure, life might be easier if I became a monastic. If I never had contact with another person, then no one could ever hurt me. The downside is that I won’t experience the things that cause me to grow in my faith. Without pressure pushing in, I never have to exert pressure out. Without trials and doubts and temptations, without being exposed to the world and have it push me in, what need do I have of the spirit of God pushing back out?

I’m not self-sufficient. I want to be, I’ve tried to be. I can’t be. I’m not going to make some ignorant statement like “I’ll never try to be self-sufficient again” because I know I have to struggle. I have to fight against the desires of the flesh, trying to push out the spirit. I will try to rejoice in them, knowing that these trials will build in my character, and that character will build in me endurance. I will get hope from the endurance and know that one day, there will be nothing pushing in, and just spirit pouring out in worship.

As I drove to work this morning, thinking about Mary Jo, Aaron Shust’s song “My Savior, My God” came out. I sang as loud as I could. I need healing and I need hope, but I know my Savior lives, my Savior loves, my Savior’s always there for me, my God He was, my God He is, my God He’s always gonna be.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alvin Reid and a talking Possum

Some of you may look at the title of this blog and wonder what Alvin Reid and a talking possum have in common. Some of you may know who Dr Reid is, if not, you should read Radically Unchurched. I am reading Join the Movement (get this one too) and read something that I witness myself from a talking possum. The possum was a puppet in the Pro Kids event here at the church. It was a great event for the kids, and a great outreach time. He shared Christ is a great and very visual way.
In the book, Dr Reid writes about children being asked if they are artist. First graders jump out of their seats (like my kids last night). Second Graders, about half raised their hands. The older the kids, the less excited they were. How I wish I could see adults act like the kids did last night. The young kids were so excited, the older kids were sort of excited. The youth were less excited still, I am sure we adults looked bored.
What will it take to get another Jesus Movement, another Great Awakening? Will it start with me? I hope so. Will it start with you? I hope that is true also. Lets get excited again. I know it’s still down there, gotta just let it out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Splitting hairs

I was thinking about a conversation I had with someone who just liked to argue. Ever met those people. Anyway, we were talking about predestination. I made the comment about God predestining based on decisions we make because God sees all of time at once. He said "that's not predestination, that's foreknowledge". Here is my thought that I had this morning.

Somedays I run to the store and I take one of my kids with me. I know my kids, I understand their personalities, and I know if Brayden hasn't napped and it's 3:30, he will fall asleep in the car. I know if that happens, it will be a mess in the store, he'd be grumpy. If Kaylee just got home from school, she is probably ready to just be home for a while, and will ask "can we go home now", so I'll take Collin.

Now I predestined which child would go based on foreknowledge. If I took them, I am reasonably certain my predictions would come to pass. God, He's never wrong. So I guess my thought is, if God predestined me since the foundation of the world, yet knew everything I would say and do, every choice and opinion I would have since the foundation of the world, how would the predestination not be by foreknowledge?

So I think the predestination/foreknowledge argument is splitting hairs. I think God knows and gives free will, yet calls us and saves us according to His own volition, but I think He does that knowing who I am. Just like I know my kids. The work of salvation is still His work, but it's not random or in a vacumme.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Need some clues for understanding

There is a passage of scripture that I love. "Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. "Matt 16:13-20 (ESV)

There are all types of interpreations of this verse. I have heard pastors talk about The Gates of Hades. The ESV actaully calls them the gats of hell. I have heard messages about how gates are defensive and we storm hell and defeat the devil.

There is the problem. Number one, the devil isn't in hell. Once people are in hell, Jesus said in his parable that it's too late. But what does this gates of hell mean? Look at this picture. It's a place in Casarea Phillippi. It's a temple of a pagan idol, it's called the grotto of pan. Pan was beleived to go from his little perch (the small cut out) and he heads into the cave. There use to be a river that came from it. It was believed that pan went into the cave and it was beleived he went to hades (greek underworld) and wintered in hell. Yes, the first snowbird went to hell for the winter. Give you some perspective on Arizona. Anyway.

The cave? It's called the gate of hades. Jesus was in Ceseara Phillippi. There was a pagan temple called the gates of hades where Jesus tells Peter "The gates of hades will not prevail". Notice it's a turist attraction? Guess what. The gates of hades fell. The Roman empire became a Christian empire, the gates of hades fell. Hmmmm. Maybe, does that change your view a little? I think it should.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Opening the door for destruction

I was listening to Adrian Rogers on the radio this morning. He was talking about the book of Judges, and how everyone did what was right in their own eyes. He began to talk about moral, or lack there of, and something I had been thinking about was confirmed. Why we, as the church, must take a stand against so much of what the Government, schools and state is attempting to do. We have to push back against the loss of morality and this is why.
Let me use abortion for example. There are a large number of abortions happening because they can. Simply put, people are less concerned about getting pregnant because it can be “undone”. Marriage is the same way, people tie the knot because they can also untie it just as easy. It’s easy to do the wrong thing, because we have taken away the natural limits, consequences and concerns. Sex is no longer equated with marriage and family, because there is so much sex without it joining people or making children. In those situations when children are conceived, they are destroyed.
The same holds true for condoms in the school, we have given opportunity to kids, it appears as if we expect them to have sex young. Kids will usually meet the expectations set for them. We as the church need to start pushing to put the expectations back up there. Realities and consequences need to remain in tact.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Counterfeit revival

I have been reading about revivals, and thinking about the things happening in this day and age. I am not going to talk about anyone specifically, I am sure you can think of some people, but I think we live in the day of counterfeit "movements". Let me explain. When we have revivals come in, when we have people getting together and getting excited, what are they excited about? God? Salvation? Holiness? Often, they are excited about what is done for them. They come for blessing, they come for healing, they come to put an end to their misery and have the best life. They want to be blessed and happy.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, that is, unless that is your only concern. What about forgiven, turning away from sin, following Christ and living for Him? That is where real revival happens. Do you know what is the most comment result of revival is? A missionary movement. How many of our modern revivals are producing a missionary movement? It's because true revival gives you a passion for the heart of God. That's spiritual awakening.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A young view of morality

I was listening to the radio today about how young people today are more likely to see ethics and morality as relative. I have a new theory. I think young people have always seen ethics and morality and more relative, it's as they get older and gain wisdom that they begin to see the concreteness. It takes time to see that some principles and precepts are rock-solid truth.

I think we love to re-package it, point it out, make charts and graphs. I think it’s our tendency to always think it’s getting worse. If one aspect gets better, than we look for something else to get worse. The kids in this generation are more spiritual, are looking for spiritual answers, and I believe we have a greater opportunity.

To back to the theory of young people always looking at ethical relativism. Here is my theory. They are like that because the older generation is selfish. We don’t disciple them, we don’t nurture them, we get a youth pastor, we stick them in a classroom and hope they grow up to be good people. We don’t act like Paul, and blame them for not acting like Timothy. The younger generation will never learn from the older generation if that generation is not teaching them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cryptic and metaphorical jargon

I was listening to Christian radio today, and keep hearing metaphors that I really don't think help the average believer. Have you ever heard someone say "just climb up in your heavenly Father's lap". What does that even mean (it's rhetorical, please don't give me your theological interpretation).

So often I hear these glib and trite metaphors, when no one really seems to understand what it means. I'm not gonna do it. Instead, pray that God gives you comfort, pray and thank Him for provision. Spend time with Him in prayer, in study, thinking about the word and telling others.

I think the church (the universal body of beleivers) need more of direction, not metaphors and allegory and nice pithy sayings. Love God, obey His commands, which you learn from reading the Bible and going to church. Maybe that's really climbing in Him lap, I don't know.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

the stone wall people

I have been accused of not being an emotional person. Those of you who know me best are laughing at the understatement. In fact, the only time I seem to get emotional is when my back goes out and I am forced to take some pain medicine. I recall many times when the staff at Desert Sky would ask me “are you on pain meds” after paying them a complement.

In talking with our secretary yesterday, we talked about what makes someone act like I do. Perhaps it’s baggage from the past. My home life wasn’t bad, but my dad was a pretty typical father of a young man, telling me to suck it up. I usually did. In middle school, I was picked on a lot. I hid my emotions, my anger and my fear. Later in college, my parents got sick, were sick for 2 years and then died. I just did what my dad had always told me to do, I sucked it up.

So here I am, in my early 30s, about as emotionally expressive as my coffee cup. What I want to share with you this morning is the internal cry from a stoic (not the heretic kind, just an unemotional guy). I do hurt. The last few days I have missed my parents. Collin and Kaylee both celebrated birthdays recently, and I wish they could be here. I wish they could come to visit me and see my family. I am sad about loss in my life, parts of my own heart that have been broken. I don’t tell you all enough, I don’t share it enough. This is my one shot at being emotionally open. I envy many of you who can share and show emotion. I haven’t cried in close to 10 years, with the exception of 2 or 3 tears at Tate Lynch’s funeral.

So I write that to ask this. Pray for me and those you know like me. Often we are hurting inside and don’t know how or have the words to express it. I think we are all hurting at some level, so remember to pray for everyone. We all have hurts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Suffer the Little Children

InMark, chapter 10 Jesus is teaching the disciples. During the teaching time, some children are brought to Jesus. The disciples rebuke the mothers for interrupting important teaching time. These kids are interrupting our church service. They are breaking up our Small Group, this is our Sunday School hour. Get these noisy, dirty kids out of here. The scripture says that Jesus was indignant. He was indignant with His disciples, and I think He would be at us also.

The King James Version says "suffer the little children to come unto me (Jesus)". I think we have changed it into "make the children suffer to come unto me". We can't get workers in our children's classes, we can't get time or programs to teach the children, we can't seem to figure out how to help disciple or grow the children. Maybe, just maybe in the way we have done children's ministries, we should all be fit for millstones. (see Matthew 18:5-6).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

worshipping together

If you looked at yesterday's entries, I was looking into a couple passages, which talk about psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. I have some input from our worship pastor and read some commentary. Here are my thoughts.

We are told to sing in our hearts to the Lord, which mirrors what Jesus said, we worship in spirit and truth. We worship with our hearts, souls, mind and strenght. It says to speak to one another, but I found it can better be translated to speak "with" one another. We speak as one to God in these mediums. We worship together as a corperate body, speaking in one voice.

We speak in Psalms. Many of the Psalms are David crying out for help, confessing sin and seeking forgiveness. We speak in a way that cries out in confession and repentance. We seek forgiveness from the Father when we fall short, individually and as a church.

Hymns are great theological truths. We acknowledge who God is, and what He has done for us. We sing about the majesty and the presence of God. We sing about the work of Jesus, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. These are hymns, they are great theological truthes.

Spiritual songs are those of praise and adoration, pouring from our hearts. We sing from our spirit, rejoicing in what God has done in us, through us and for us. We sing together as the redeemed, singing to the redeemer for all He has done for us.

We do all this with and through one another. As a church, we worship as a church, we seek God's face as a church. It's all about community.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

songs and hymns and spiritual songs

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Eph 5:15-21 (ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:12-17 (ESV)

In two different passages, Paul tells us to speak to one another or admonish one another singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. So if we speak to one another, would that preclude this from being worship, or is it worshipping together? What does this look like, and how does it work? I have some studying to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

perfect evangelism

So I am trying to put together some evangelism material for Heartland, and I realize the gigantic pile of material I have acquired. There is more evangelism material then there are people using the material. So many strategies, which one to use, what to choose and what to choose from. Have we made sharing our faith more difficult by making it simple? Have we lost the focus of relationship, of caring and of connecting with people by condensing it all into a rehearsed, pre-planned routine? Maybe so, maybe not. I guess I'll just begin to wade into the sea of material that is the modern day evangelical curriculum, and hope I can make sense of it all. . . without drowning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Statistical arminians

So I am reading a book written by a very famous research organization. I struggle with many of these books because they are very Armenian in nature. I think I understand why. When you have corresponding data, what we do and the results, it leads you to very performance oriented thinking. We try to work a method, we try to change things, and if we do it on our own power, then people accept by our works, leading to free will theology. Armenian theology.

So how does it really work? Paul said “I planted, Apollos waters, God gave the increase”. So we work and we toil, but in the end, it’s God that does the work. It grows when He wants it too and it doesn’t when He doesn’t want it too. It’s independant of our work. So by all means, work, but in your work make sure you are giving the glory to God, because the work is really His work.

medicine head

So I haven't posted in more than a week. It's hard to blog when your head is congested and you are full of cold medicine. Thoughts become pretty hard to get together, let alone put down into a decent blog. I have discovered this blogging thing to be difficult than I originally thought. I don't as often have anything profound to talk about, at least not anything I think it worth the writing and you reading. I strive to make the read worthwhile, which has led to less and less frequent blogs. Part of which because of this head cold, which is going on it's second week, I've been medicated.

I will continue to work on it, to try to find things to blog about that are worth reading. I prefer not to blog about blogging, seems overly ironic. Anyway, keep checking back, I'll see what I can put together.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Random thought about the US Postal Service

Ok, so I was on the porch, checking the mail. It was Saturday. I thought "there won't be any mail tomorrow" and realized that Sunday is the only day of the week the post office doesn't deliver mail. I think that's a very interesting fact, have you noticed how many government institutions are closed on Sunday. Even banks now are open half a day on Saturday, but closed Sunday. I am all for this, but how long do you think it will be until the ACLU begins to sue places for being closed on Sunday. After all, a day of rest was God's idea, to take a day of rest is the promotion of a religious ideal, isn't it? To not allow someone to bank or send mail on Sunday.

How is it that the church begins something, then the state takes it away and tells the church they can't have any influence. If I wrote a book, and someone else took the book, then changed the book and said I could no longer have any say in how the book was written, published or marketed, I would be upset. It was God who started the institution of marriage, it was a church function and ordained and watched over by the church. Now that state took marriage from the church and is now telling the church they can't participate in the dialogue about how marriage should be. It all seems silly to me.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dull brain

Have you ever felt like you are losing the sharpness of your mind? For me, it wasn't too hard. Since I've moved to Sioux City, I haven't had to push myself as hard mentally. I'm done with seminary and writing papers, and I haven't had people asking me the hard theological questions lately. I don't have the Gregs (Buchanan and Hendricks), Larry, Simon or Don here to ask me stuff that makes me step back and really think. Sure, there is IM, and I try to keep up dialouge, but I am feeling soft around the midsection. Physically and mentally.

I played a few online "brain excersies" today, and tried to do some study of some things in I Peter 3. I talked with Greg Buchanan online and tried to challenge myself. Then I decided to blog and sat here and looked at the screen. I've been doing that a lot lately. Maybe I am trying too hard to be deep and spiritual, or maybe I'm just getting soft.

So here I am. I reminded myself that the purpose of the blog is to write so I can improve my writing. It's not to be profound and have a deep, lasting impact. I would love for it too, but I also understand the very limited demand for my blog. If you are reading this, thank you for taking the time to stop and look it over. Hopefully you are inspired to push yourself mentally, and we can do some brain-chin ups together.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Great blogs

As I do things throughout the day, i think of great ideas that I want to flesh out in my blogs. By the time I get sat down to write the blog, the ideas are gone. The bummer is so often, I am in places like the shower, where it's not real practical to write them down. I try to trace my thoughts back and think about my ponderences lately, but they seem to elusive. It's frustrating.

I think it testifies to my fractured-ess. I think about and try to do so many things at once, and then I get frustrated when I feel like I haven’t accomplished as much as I would like, or think I should have.

I need to work on the being still that is found so much in scripture. Pray for me this week that I will learn to be still, than I will focus and be content with what I can accomplish, and not try to do more than I possible.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Headache

I would like for the title of this blog to be a spiritual metaphor, but I really have a headache. A big fat smokin headache. Do you wonder why God created stuff like this? Why did God create the headache, or heartburn (which I also have) or things like that. It's not going to kill me, it hasn't even kept me from blogging. It's a nusience, but nothing fatal. I think there are three answers. One is to make sure I know I have limits. There is a God, I'm not Him. Two is because of the flawed nature of human kind, we have less than perfect bodies, which is why we look forward so much to eternity. The last is to teach me paticence. A headache is for my good, my spiritual growth and maturity. I hope I learn it soon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

So where's the revival

So I'm having a thought. More of a question really. I have heard lots and lots of talk about revival and spiritual awakening for a number of years. I’ve been told to pray for it, I’ve heard it starts with me, I’ve heard that it’s coming. I have been watching, and seen a few small glimpses of revival, there hasn’t been a Great Awakening in the modern day in the United States. Why?

1st, Jesus said :
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:12-14 (ESV)

So if we ask, He will do it. So why don’t we have revival? Is it because of hardened hearts? Maybe, but I think it’s something even more illusive. I think it’s a function of individuality. In John 17, Jesus prayed we would be one. In 1 Peter 2, we are told be become Living Stones to construct a spiritual house. Paul calls us the Body of Christ. There is unity in the scripture. There is individuality today. We do things alone, for me, for my growth. My devotion, my prayer life, my worship experience, my salvation, it’s become very much about me. I think that if we can start to move towards Biblical unity, then we would be much more prone to see revival and awakening.

So how do we do it? We build community, we give and we share. We are open and talk to one another, we pray with one another, we serve along side one another. The hardest part is we become dependant upon one another. When we come to the point that we cannot live or function without the other members of the body of Christ, then I think we will begin to see and live out what causes Revival.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Study to show yourself approved

Have you heard that verse, study to show thyself approved? I use the King James for a reason, because the word "study" is found primarily in the King James.

Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, 2 Tim 2:15 (ASV)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, 2 Tim 2:15 (ESV)

Work hard so God can approve you. 2 Tim 2:15 (NLT)

Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won't be ashamed of 2 Tim 2:15 (MSG)

So why do we know it as study? If you look at the Greek Word σπουδάζω can be translated as study, endeavour, labor, be diligent, etc. So how should we read this verse? Are we studying or working, laboring or examining.

Here is what I think. We have often separated study from working. We learn things sometimes that we never use. I studied a lot of Geology in High School, and don't use any of it. There are things we have all learned, and studied and don't apply.

If we examine the entire verse in the King James, it states:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 (KJV)

We study to rightly apply the word of truth to our lives. We are diligent to be Holy before God. It's not enough to just know, Jesus said not to be just hearers but doers of the word. Study, by all means study and read and know the word. Without the word, we will be ashamed when our works are examined. We study and know the word so that we can apply it to our lives.

Let me add my own translation. Be diligent in your study to show yourself to a Holy God, as a worker who doesn't need to hide his work, correctly applying the word to his life. 2 Timothy 2:15 Dan Barnes version.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the passions of your former ignorance

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (ESV)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jer 17:9 (ESV)

So I read that verse in 1 Peter today, and thought of the verse in Jeremiah. I think they are connected. I am doing some research and reading on classroom management. Kids misbehave when the motivation is greater than the fear of punishment. When they want something more than they don't want to be in trouble. I think we keep that motivation as we get older. We often don't consider the consequences of our actions.

We know that God tells us to stay away from things that will harm us. I know that God wants me to avoid things for my good, just like when I tell my kids no cookies before dinner. It's because I don't want them to fill up on junk food, I want them to eat good food to help them grow. So why don't my kids listen to me, and why don't I listen to God. I just think about the cookie, not the long term ramifications of the cookie. As I get older, the ramifications of the cookie are more and more . . . pronounced.

Thanks Peter for showing me the answer. So often I let myself be conformed to my passions, to the desires of the flesh. When Jeremiah talks about the heart being deceitful and desperately wicked, he is referring to the center of the human, to the seat of the flesh. This is where emotions, passions and desires are born.

The un-regenerate heart is self focused. Often the heart of a believer focuses on emotions and passions that are not fully focused on God. How often do we "follow our hearts" and act on our emotions? I have looked in the scripture, I've never see it say to follow your heart. It says that God will grant you the desires of your heart, but that's only if you lean not on your understanding. . . . which is often not what we do when we "follow our hearts". Let me know what you think, I am wondering about how to be spirit led vs. emotion led. How do you know the difference? How do you decern?

My thoughts? One is it's always scriptural. Two, it more moral centered than emotion centered. The difference between conscious and guilt. I think it's only learned by spending time with Jesus and knowing the shepherd's voice. What do you think?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

logic chopping

There is this raging debate about this new church called the "emergent church". Have you seen it? Heard about it? I have listened to some of it and read some of it. If you see it, run away. It's logic chopping. Why do we have to chop up logic to be "relevent"? Some things have been unchanged throughout human history. People have always done many of the same things. We have always eaten, always sleep, always breathe. It seems common sense, but we haven't updated the basics of life. There is no "modern" way to sleep, or "postmodern" way to eat. We still put the food in our mouths, chew and swallow.

So God has been God longer than man has been man. Why are we trying to reinvent Him? Jesus is Jesus, the Spirit is the Spirit, the Word is the Word. You can't change them, improve them, or make them "postmodern". So quit. I know that most of those in the emergent church won't read my blog. I know that McLaren will never read my blog, but Brian, if you do, cut it out. Stop trying to make God become a "postmodern", or "deconstruct" the scripture. The center in Lacanian theory is non-existant, which causes it to collapse, which causes deconstruction. You can't be a beleiver in a real and living God as the center and believe that the center doesn't hold. It's logic chopping, stop trying to be cool. Stop trying to be "postmodern". Eat, sleep, pray and trust. That's it.

It doesn't have to be new, it doesn't have to be "postmodern" or the new idea of what "relevent" is. It just has to be true. I hate logic chopping.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My new motto

So I have a new motto. I thought of it when looking at discipleship plans and reading some Lifeway material, along with some other stuff. I want to do things on purpose with purpose for purpose.

I don't want to just go through being random, doing things here or there with no intentionality. I want to do the things God calls me to do, by seeking and following and obeying.

I don't want to just do things just for the sake of doing them. I want to serve for God's Glory, with a purpose and calling attached. I don't want to serve God just to make myself feel good or pius, but because there is a purpose from God.

I don't want to serve for no reason. I want to serve in a way that honors the commandments of God. I want to serve to further the Kingdom and to add strenght to His church.

I want to serve on purpose, with purpose for purpose. Wanna join me?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Submission in a new light. . . at least for me.

Elaine and I were doing a bible study together the other night, it was one of those "married people" bible studies. The topic that night was submission and what it means for a wife to submit to her husband. The specific passage of scripture was from Ephesians 5. It began in verse 21, which is the verse that tells us to submit to one another. Later, it talks about wife's submitting to your husbands as to Christ, and men loving their wives as Christ loves the church. Love your wife as your own body. Like Christ, the head, loves the church, the body.

So I'm thinking about this word, submit. What does it mean? There are two kinds of submit, one means to place yourself under as to an authority. I submit to the Senior Pastor. I submit to the police. The other means to give something for the approval and often integration. You submit an article to be published, or a paper or test to become part of your grade. Let's put those things together.

In the church, we submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. We submit to the head, which is Christ. In marriage, we submit to one another, but the wife submits to the husband, who is the head. The connection of both of these is we submit ourselves to be part of the hole, and then submit under than whole. The marriage unit is a whole, it's one part, one flesh, one family. My wife and I, we are Mr and Mrs Barnes, together. God has joined us, and we live and love and plan and serve in a united front. God calls me to lead, and she comes with me, she submits to the leading of her husband. The alternative is a fracture. If you head goes one way and your body goes another, both end up in the morgue. Division and separation of the head and body always, without exception ends in death. The mind is separated from the heart, and the two cannot function without the other.

In the church, we are a bigger unit that a marriage. Pastors, deacons, teachers, leaders, helpers, workers, members. Different body parts, but one body. We go with the body, my hand or foot or eye doesn't go off on it's own. If it does, that part dies and the body suffers. For the body to stay healthy, it must stay together. It must yield to each other and it must ultimately follow the head, who is Christ.

We submit ourselves to one another, and then we submit ourselves under one another, ultimately, we submit ourselves for one another. In the church, in a marriage, it's no longer about just you, but about the whole. It may be a case of the sum of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Theology

I like theology. I like to talk about theology, to study theology and read theology. Maybe I'm weird, because lately I have heard some condemnation of the study of theology. Makes me a little nervous. I agree that arguing over the 5 points of Calvinism or Arminianism can be pretty fruitless. Never the less, I think there is a real danger when we don’t learn and study and know our theology. Your view of God, which really is what your theology is, shapes how you do everything else. Your theology will shape how you evangelize, how you minister, even how you pray. How you view God, how you perceive His Holiness, what you believe about His activity and His functions, even His abilities. It shapes how you view people, how you view eternity, and how you view the earth and times we are living in.

Like Charles Haden Spurgeon, I do not hesitate to take the name Calvinist, and I hold to the name Baptist, but if you ask me my creed, it is Jesus Christ. We lose much when we neglect theology, in my case, Calvinism. For me, it is a system which presents the weight of the glory of God. We have been so caught up on man, we have become so self-focused that we have forgotten it’s not about us. It’s about God and His glory. It’s about Holiness, and it’s always been about His Holiness, not about us or our salvation. We are saved because it brings Him Glory and because He is Holy, no other reason. There is nothing in us. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36 (ESV)

There was a time when theology was tossed aside, and we did not study it, we did not teach it, we did not love it. It was lost and when that happened, a period came where men were burned alive for reading the scripture, and the Holy Church became so corrupted that Holiness became grounds for execution. We cannot let go of theology or seeking the truth.

Study the word, seek Holiness in prayer, in Bible reading. Learn. Study and learn more. Read books and learn theology. Don’t stop ministry and teaching or preaching or praying, or whatever you do, but learn more. Read history, sit at the feet of great men. If you don’t like a theological system, find out why. Don’t logic chop, find out why in the Bible. Examine, don’t just believe what is easy to believe. Look, seek, study, talk, commune, wrestle, fight and struggle. Get down on your knees, open your Bible and pour yourself out to God and do what you can to grasp His Holiness, His Glory and your own inadequacy. Don’t be a infantile Christian, sitting in the pew and drinking the milk of whatever is preached that Sunday. Meat is tough sometimes, it’s hard to chew, you need a knife to get at it. We have been given one better, take the sword of God’s word and learn theology. The alternative is spiritual slavery.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why we blog

Do you blog? You should. Wanna know why? Of course you do, or you wouldn't bother to read this. We blog because writing is the most permanent way to share, store and transfer ideas. We have books and writings as old as civilization. We have stone and pottery pieces with writing on them as far back as we can dig up. We write because we always have. We write because inside each of us there are divine sparks that God placed inside us. We have the desire to create, to share and to think. We write to improve our ability to write and thus communicate. Here are some interesting (at least I think they are interesting) things to think about.

As we become more advanced, we write more, not less. It began with e-mail, then text messages, now we have phones with full keyboards to write.

Blogs have become widely popular, and we write on our blogs, our myspace or facebook page.

We have internet books that have increased circulation of material and given more authors that chance to write and be publish.

I also think it's interesting that we still turn to books for wisdom. More importantly, when God chose to communicate to mankind, He chose the written word. He didn't give us the Holy Movie, or the Holy TV show. It's a cannon of 66 books, put together to form the scripture. Why? Well, John Piper talks about the word in his biography of Martin Luther, and says it for a few reasons. It's external, it's unchangeable and unimpressionable. I can explain away signs, I can skew statistics, and I can manipulate emotions. I can't change the Word. It's there, and whether or not I like what it says, I can't change it. There are things in there that I would rather not be in there some days. It won't change for me, so I have to change for it.

So here I write. I write to reflect on what the external word tells me about life and how to live it. I write to share with you my thoughts and my ideas. I write because something deep inside longs to have something more permanent that the last words spoken. I write because I desire to write, and I blog so you can read it. So that's why I blog. How about you?

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Barnes relocation

Well we've pulled it off, sort of. We have made the move, the truck has yet to come, and I thank God every minute for the two guys who are driving it for us. What a blessing. We are staying with some new friends who I think have become our Sioux City parents. It's very exciting.

I'll admit, I'm a little nervous. I think we are always nervous about change. I knew what was going on in Arizona, I knew who to call, who to talk to and where to go. I knew where to shop, where to eat, and where to get what I need. In church work, I knew pastors, DOMs, and State staff, as well as profs from Golden Gate. I knew how to get an evangelism grant, I knew when the ACE conference was, I knew who to call if I had an article for the state magazine. I knew where things were and I knew who to talk to.

This will be a new adventure in the city, church, association and state convention. I've never lived in the Midwest, in fact, Wyoming and Arizona are it for me. Iowa will be a new experience. I am excited about it and optimistic for it, and know that God will grow me here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pocket Watch

Happy Father's Day. This was a good father's day, my kids (my wife) gave me a pocket watch and a little remote control helicopter. Really cool stuff. The pocket watch I will carry for a time, then it may sit on my desk or in a hutch or display for a time, then one day I'll pass it on to my children. I think about the things I will give to my boys as they get older, and the things my dad passed to me. My dad was very affectionate and told me that he loved me a lot. It's something I try to do as a father. I tell them how they are all special, Kaylee is my only girl, Collin is my eldest son and Brayden is my baby boy.

It's day's like Father's day that make me want to try to be a better father. I want to be the father that God wants me to be. It's still strange to think about the fact that I am the adult, I'm the "dad", I am in the role my father had. It's overwhelming, but I love being a dad so much. I hope my kids know how much I love being their dad.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The end of good things

Well VBS is done, things have started to be cleaned up and put away. The kids (and most adults) have learned some great lessons. It's a sad thing to close a chapter. I think about all the chapters that we have closed. People who have gone home to be with Jesus who meant so much. I think about the traditions which have faded. I think about songs I don't hear sung anymore, or things that use to seem so customary. I think about the end of things, but also the beginning of things. Beginnings are often so wonderful. I use to be a bachelor, but that ended and I love to be married. There was a time that I wasn't a father, but that has ended, and I have three wonderful kids. (One is sitting next to me showing me his book). Without the ending of one thing, there can be no beginning of the next. I know that sound cliché, but it's so true. We are ending our ministry at Desert Sky. We are ending our time in Casa Grande. It's sad and we are sad to leave, but I am so excited about the new chapter in our lives. Don't be afraid of change, of the new and what God is bringing. I will be a great and exciting time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

spots

Ok, so here is the story. While moving, I dumped out a jug of gear lube. If you are not into cars, let me explain a little. This is the stuff inside the transmission of your car. It lubricates your gears, but it's thicker than engine oil. It's thick and sticky and it was all over the place.

I think sin is like transmission lube. The more you try to clean it up on your own, the worse things get. It smears, it smells back, it makes everything else stick to you, and the harder you try the worse it gets.

So what did I do? I poured cat littler on some. Some parts I covered in engine degreaser and then blotted up. I had to have the right stuff to get the spot out. When it comes to sin, there is only one thing that can get it out, that's the blood of Jesus. It can't be cleaned out with good works, church attendance or giving. It can only be removed with the blood of Christ. He did all the work. I wish transmission lube was as easy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Worship through service

Elaine and I had a very interesting conversation today. We are in the middle of Vacation Bible School, and we are having a great time watch relationships grow between workers. We learn a lot about one another in class or in worship, but real growth happens when in ministry. We learn more about each other working and serving than we ever will listening to preaching. Don't get me wrong, preaching is essential, but it's the beginning of the Christian walk, not the pinnacle. We are meant to serve, to minister and to serve with others.

I think about a buddy of mine that was in and out of church until he was enlisted for a church work day, and served on a roof all day. I think about friends I have made and really gotten close with in service. I think about the lives changed when groups do missions and ministry work. I think about the relationship that are built though service.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that the spiritual milk that Paul is taking about comes though being in a church, but the meat of Christianity comes from Christian Service. If you are not involved in some area of ministry and partnership, get involved and see if I'm right. Let me know what you find out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The "Who, me?" syndrome

Remember Moses? I had a buddy named Moses, he was in my wife's youth group. Good guy, but wrong Moses. Moses in the Old Testament, he wrote the first 5 books, got the Ten Commandments, on TV he looked a lot like Charlton Hesston. Ya, that Moses. His career as a Prophet began as his career as a shepherd ended. He saw God in a burning bush, heard the voice of God. Know what amazes me? He argued with God, telling God that he can't be His voice. He said "but I stutter, I don't speak well". You can read the story in Exodus chapter 3.

Here we are, thousands of years later, same place. In reading a book my Dr. Jeff Iorg on calling, I realized my desire to write isn't just a desire. It's a calling. I don't believe that He is calling me to write something an important as the Mosaic law, but I am to write for His purpose. The issue is my short coming. Moses stuttered, I am dyslexic. If you are not familiar with dyslexia, it's a disorder that causes information in your brain to sometimes skip a step. All information in your brain comes from the place that it is stored and goes though a "processing plant" where it's put in order, then comes out of your mouth or pen. The same process happens when you listen too or see into. It comes in, goes through the "processing plant" and put in meaningful order and then goes into the brain. Sometimes my brain's "processing plant" doesn't run to well.

I once viewed my disorder as just that, a disorder. It's become so much more to me than that, it's an opportunity for God to display His power. Those things I write that make sense and are in order come from His power, not my mind. It is His writing and I have been blessed that He allows me to use my pen, or keyboard for it.

So what's your stuttering problem? Maybe you are like Moses, and have a tongue that gets twisted. Maybe you are like me and have a problem that keeps the world from making sense all the time. Maybe it's something else, but I am sure that each one of us has an issue. In II Corinthians 12, Paul prays for a thorn to be removed from his side. Many believe this thorn is blindness that Paul apparently dealt with as he aged. It made it difficult to pen the epistles we find in the New Testament when you can't see. Jesus answered his plea with "My grace is sufficient for you, and my strength is made perfect in your weakness" (verse 9).

I have a thorn, but like Paul, I will gladly praise God for my weakness and the power He displays though my weakness and in His power.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Blog writers block

I have a desire to write in this blog every day. You will notice that every day hasn't happened. I do, however, get frustrated when I sit down to write and just stare at the screen. It's not that there is a shortage of things in my life. I am moving in a week and a half, we are starting Vacation Bible School tomorrow. If nothing else, my 3 kids give me a wealth of material. Instead I am looking at the empty screen.

It's not that I don't have stuff in my head, but my problem is combining it into a complete thought. I am reading some interesting stuff, trying to continue my education though some study. I am thinking about trying to learn some basic Greek stuff. I have stuff going on.

I think it comes down to one of two things. Weariness or laziness. I'll admit I am tired. I think I have a virus of some sort, everyone in the family has been a little ill in the last week. I don't want to think about stuff to write. I have to think about VBS and moving and packing and stuff with the kids, I am weary. I'm also lazy. Admit it, you are too. Not in every aspect, but there are some things you should do, but would rather not put the effort into it. Isn't that why they invented the microwave, riding mower and remote control? Sometimes it's easier not to worry about the side things. After all, I don't get paid to blog. I don't know how many people actually read my blog. I guess if you are reading it, that's at least one.

Well I will try to do better. I have a few things in my head I’ll put down, and maybe find something interesting to say after all.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

the pain of being a father

Charles H. Spurgeon was a great man, pastor and theologian. He had great gifts, but also have great afflictions. He suffered from many things, one of them was gout. He developed the disease at age 31, and was often debilitated by it. He speaks of one of his episodes from gout in a sermon:

"When I was racked some months ago with pain, to an extreme degree, so that I could no longer bear it without crying out, I asked all to go from the room, and leave me alone; and then I had nothing I could say to God but this, 'Thou are my Father, and I am thy child; and thou, as a Father art tender and full of mercy. I could not bear to see my child suffer as thou makest me suffer, and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could to help him, and put my arms under him to sustain him. Wilt thou hide thy face from me, my Father? Wilt thou still lay on a heavy hand, and not give me a smile from thy countenance?' ... So I pleaded, and I ventured to say, when I was quiet, and they came back who watched me: 'I shall never have such pain again from this moment, for God has heard my prayer.' I bless God that ease came and the racking pain never returned"

Spurgeon said he never again had that pain, yet pain did continue in his life, eventually killing him at the age of 57. The man experience and knew pain.

Today I went with Brayden, my youngest son, to have the pins taken out of his elbow. If you don’t know the story, Collin, his brother, pulled him backwards one day while they were running in the backyard. They were being boys, but Brayden fell hard on his left arm and broke it at the elbow. He had to go to Phoenix Children’s hospital and have pins put in it. I went today and the pins were pulled out. I am not sure if it was more the pain or more the fear. The doctor assured me the pain from the pins is minimal, pulling the tape off is probably what hurt the most, and of course he cried because he was scared.

As I held my crying son, my heart broke like has only happened a few times. Other times when my children have been hurt and I couldn’t stop the pain. I would have given anything to take his place, to be the one who had to endure the pain. I couldn’t. I think God is often in the same place. For whatever reason, we must endure pain. Its part of the human experience, the human condition, it makes us grow and heal and mature. It hurts us, and I know it hurts God as our Father. He wants to fix it for us, and the only way to fix it is to let us endure.

I had no choice but to hold my son as he cried as the doctors caused him physical pain. The only way his arm would be made right was through the pain. The only way we are made right is sometimes through the pain. Cry if you must, hold onto the Father, He loves you and will see you through it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Building a playground

So I worked on building the playset at Desert Sky tonight with Simon. Nothing real spiritual about that. It was a pain. Bolts didn't want to go into place, things didn't fit snug like I wanted. Things didn't go as planned.

My life is like that playset. The swings sometimes gets twisted and the bolts don't fit in the holes right. I imagine your life is like the playset too. There are small things amiss or askew on it. Take a step back and what do you see. A swing set with children laughing and having fun.

What's my point? It's simple. Look for the fun and laughter. Look for the joy, for the things God has for you. You see, the swing set doesn't need to be perfect for the kids to have fun. You don't need to be perfect for God to love you and rejoice on you. You don't need to be perfect, just forgiven, and He can take care of that for you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Forgotten Closets

I know my profile says Sioux City Iowa. I am going to Sioux City Iowa in less that 3 weeks, but currently I am finishing things at Desert Sky Baptist Church in Casa Grande Arizona. I graduated, we are doing VBS next week, I preach on Father's Day and in the mean time, try to get everything labeled, passed off and accounted for. One of the duties I am passing on is music/sound/video/worship stuff. Setting up the program lyrics and running the sound board. I met with some guys this morning to get some music stuff set and set up. In doing so I cleaned the music closet.

I found a very large spider. I also found the books they used at the very beginning of the church, about 5 years ago. I found a monitor that was still new in the box. There was some good things in there. . . and a big spider.

I think we spiritually put stuff in closest sometimes. We spend so much time on the mandates, duties and order of Christianity, we begin to lose sight of where we came from. We lose touch with who we used to be. Ephesians 2:11-12 reminds us to remember we were once separated from Christ. In Revelations, John writes to the church at Ephesus to remember from which they have fallen in chapter 2, verse 5. It must have been a hard lesson to learn at Ephesus. I think it's a hard lesson for us to learn.

When those who are lost act like they are lost, how do we respond? When those who are lost behave the way lost people do, what is our response? Do we love them, or do we shun them? Do we want them to find punishment or redemption? When a lost person wrongs us, does something selfish and sinful and hurts us, do we love them and pray for them, or do we want to exact revenge? Do we act like Jesus, who was led like a lamb to the slaughter, or do we fight back and make our own needs known?

I think if we look in our forgotten closets of the way we use to behave (or sometimes still do) we will find that we are not so far removed. We are not much higher than those sinners that we often detest so much. We remember, not so we can revist the sin or we can roll in guilt, but we can remember where we were, and how far God has brought us. We remember the journey, so we can help someone else on the same journey. Just watch out for the big spiders.

Monday, June 2, 2008

redeeming the time

In a book like the Bible, it's hard to pick a favorite verse, but I have one that really speaks volumes to me. There is just one problem, which is our English language and translation. We often translate the verse to be less than what I believe it talks about. The verse is question is Ephesians 5:16. Most translations will say something like "making the most of the time".

The Greek word is εξαγοραζομενοι. It is found in Galatians 4:5 and 3:13. It gives the idea of saving from loss, or from purchasing back. It's more than making the best use of the time, but it's saving the time, rescuing our time. We may look at this in only a future tense, but I think there is an aspect of time past we can take back. Let me explain.

Look at the book of Joel. If you are familiar with Joel, you will know it's about The Day of the Lord, a time when God sends wrath on the ungodly. The interesting thing here, however, is the Hebrew nation fully expected the Day of the Lord to come to their neighbors. It didn't, it came to them. A lesson learned, God's discipline we expect to come on the sinner, yet it's the Christian that God holds to the standard because of Salvation. Perhaps we should look for correction not on the nation, but on the Church.

In Joel, the Day of the Lord came in the form of locusts which devoured the land. The people were commanded to repent and return, and in Joel 2:25, God makes a promise to restore the years that the locust has eaten. This is not a promise of future grace, but of grace offered to the past. The promise is not to make the future great, but to restore the years that were taken.

This brings me to my thoughts this morning. This weekend I graduated with a individual who's past was ravaged by the world. He walked across the stage and received his seminary degree while his family applauded. In his ministry, God will use him to reach people that wouldn't begin a dialogue with me. He will bring hope to those who have no hope. He will bring God's light into places I could not go. His past is not glorified, it's simply redeemed.

Romans 8:28 is this point made simple. All things will be used for the good of those who love God and have been called according to His purpose. Each day can be restored, the time can be redeemed. The years have not been wasted, each day gives us things learned, experiences gained, we learned how to live, or sometimes how not to live. We can take the darkest years and restore them and redeem them and use them for the glory of the Lord. It may be in ministry, testimony, or simple praise and adoration. Today, I want to redeem the time, the time I wasted, those times I failed. God will use them for His glory.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

the good kind of tired

So it's been a crazy weekend. Saturday we left the house to run to JC Penny's to get me a new tie, and then went to First Southern Baptist Scottsdale for graduation. I graduated from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. I also received the 2008 MAEL Pursuit of Excellence award. We left the graduation to get Kaylee in and out of her dance recital for her ballet class. Went to bed, got up this morning and went to church. After Sunday School and visiting, I got to Baptize Kaylee. After Church, it was off to the store and back home for lunch. Then to the second performance of Kaylee's recital, then off to dinner and home. I am worn out, but it's a good kind of tired. Making good memories, seeing the Lord work in our family and our lives. Spending time with my family and friends. It was a great experience, but I’m glad it’s behind me. I could use a rest.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Graduation Day

Well today is the day. After 5 years I am graduating seminary. I was on the fast track. (I know sarcasm doesn't express well though written word, so to let you know, that was sarcasm). I am receiving the Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

So the question of the day is, why the MAEL? Why not the Masters of Divinity (MDiv, the big dog)? There are 3 answers, but one I really want to focus in on. I know you are wondering about the other two, which are that I don't want to be lead pastor and I love education. The main one is that I think the MAEL should be the degree of choice for everyone. Ok, at least an MDiv with an Ed emphasis. Here is why. The basic bare bones definition of education is knowledge or stimulus that causes a change in behavior. Touch a hot stove, you won't do it again, you've learned. That is why the Bible teaches us to spank our children if we love them. Learning to obey because of a negative stimulus now is easier than having to learn from the negative stimulus later, like unemployment, divorce or prison. It will be interesting to see Mass. in a few decades now that they've banned spanking.

The purpose of education is to change behavior. The purpose of Christianity is to change behavior. It's not a coincidence, Christianity is the best form of "learning" in existence. Discipleship, evangelism, preaching, they are all forms of education. If we are really focused on transformational change in the lives of people, we need to focus on education.

When you combined education and preaching, you can touch every person the way they learn and understand. You combined education with evangelism, you present the gospel in a way that is personally meaningful to each person. (I wrote a book on that, if you want a copy, let me know). Discipleship is education, if you take ed out, you have nothing.

So if you are in ministry, learn your educational principles. Sure, Greek and Hebrew is important, but if you can't teach anyone anything that you learn from Greek and Hebrew, what good is it?