Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Over a year ago, way back in 2009, I decided to start a Blog. Now I have never been a big writer. I have never sat down and said I feel like writing today. I haven’t even been one to follow a ton of popular trends, and I would say blogging is a popular trend. However, I saw it as a good way to share some of my thoughts about life, ministry, and other topics with my congregation and those who wanted to read them. For the first half of 2010 I would say I succeeded very well at this blogging thing, but then something happened.
I have wrote several times that I do intend to continue blogging. I have even shared that I was working to recreate the blog. To be honest those were the thoughts in my mind at the time. What I really think it was … my well was dry. I had run out of ideas. Over the past several months I have done a poor job feeding myself. One of the things I have noticed in my life is when I am drained, dry, and even a little depressed, I am empty.
There are two ways for me to recharge my batteries so to speak. The first is on the spiritual side. I love to listen to sermons. But not just any sermons. I love to listen to good preachers present the Word of God. I am a preacher. I am a trained preacher. I attended Bible College, and have a degree in Bible and Theology. I also have a minor in preaching. That means I have a decent grasp and understanding of scripture. I also have been trained in preaching styles and techniques. Because of that, when I listen to a sermon I struggle to hear what the preacher is preaching and I focus on his exegesis, his sermon structure, his delivery quality, and many other technical aspects. I have to listen to a good preacher who I can forget about those details and actually hear what he is saying. I hate that, but most preachers I know struggle with the same problems.
Having said all that, there are good preachers out there that I can listen to and glean a lot of insight from. But I haven’t been feeding myself the way I should. Sometime over the summer I switched computers at home and have yet to sync my iPod with that new computer. Because of that, I haven’t put any new sermons on it. Now here at the office the church has purchased me a new computer. This new computer will allow me to have iTunes on it and allow it run while doing other things. I am excited to be able to listen to sermons once more.
But the sermon thing isn’t my only let down. I read the Bible a lot. But a lot of what I read is in preparation for a lesson, sermon, or some sort of devotion. While I am reading the Word, I am not feasting on the Word. I am reading it to prepare for something, not reading it to transform my life. This is something I have been warned about for a very long time, even before I went to Bible college. And even though I have been warned about it, I have fallen into the same trap.
Since I am not reading the Bible like I should, you can probably guess I am not having my prayer time with God the way I should. If that is what you did guess, then you would be correct. Isn’t it funny how all those things work together? God speaks to us through his Word (as well as other ways), but if we are not in his Word, then at times we can have nothing to share back with him. Its like the awkward silence you experience on the phone when no one has anything to say. Friends this is a great problem, and one I have to work to overcome.
Earlier I said I recharge in several ways. The second way I recharge is by doing something with my hands. If I can't work on physical projects I can get somewhat depressed. I think this is one of the things that has always scared me about ministry. I love what I do. I love being able to teach the truth of Scripture and inspire people to live lives that glorify God. But in that there isn’t always a lot of physical work to be done. A lot of it is at a desk, reading, writing, and preparing lessons. A lot of it is talking with people about their spiritual condition, their struggles in marriage, or some health issue. A lot of it is reading about, dreaming, and strategizing the future of God’s church here at West Side. A lot of it is going to the hospital and visiting those who are sick. A lot of it is much more than I care to share here. In no way am I complaining about my job. I love those aspects, but most of them do not require me to use my hands.
Even though I am not good at it, I love to build things. I love to mow grass. I love to care for landscaping. I love to tackle projects around the house. For the first year and two months living here in Lebanon, Crystal, Alivia, and I lived in a tiny apartment. Living in that apartment was horrible for me. If something broke or needed improving I had to call the complex to have a maintenance man come take of it. Now that I own a house, I am the one that gets to do those things. I am loving it. I also can tell that some of the spring in my step has returned. My batteries are being recharged.
I titled this post New Years Resolution. It is that time of year to make those things. While I have never been big on making a Resolution, I think this year I might. I am not going to make the proverbial resolution to loose weight (While I certainly need to do that). I am going to make the resolution to make sure I am recharging my batteries. My well has been empty for a while now. I need it refilled. I am making strides in the working with my hands department, but I have a long way to go in the spiritual department.
I plan to again use this blog as a place to share my thoughts. But for me to be able to do that, I need to be filling the well and charging the batteries. I am going to use this blog as a barometer of my spiritual health. If my well is dry then there won’t be any post on here, but if it is active, then you know I am recharging in many ways.
Over the next year you may also see this blog change. To be honest I do not know what I am want to accomplish here. It may just be a place where I journal. It may just be a place where I share my thoughts about church, life, and growth. Who knows, but I encourage you to help me keep accountable as you watch me recharge and fill my well over the next year.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Here in South West Ohio fall has come in full force. Despite the lack of rain over the past few months we have been blessed with a wide range of fall colors. One thing I love about this part of the country is we have the privilege of experiencing all four season of the year. Each season has something different to offer and experience. The cold nippy wind of winter along with a fresh blanket of snow provides a clean pure earth. The warm, pleasant breeze of spring, with all the flowers, the smell of fresh cut grass, reminds of rebirth. The hot long days of summer, with the wind whistling through the trees, makes you long to be outdoors spending time with friends and family. The changing of the air, the bright array of fall colors, brings a warmth, yet a chill, returning families to the indoors, brings with it a sense of comfort and strength.
Over the past few weeks I have felt in my own life that I have been going through a change in season. At times I feel I am walking hand in hand with God. I feel like I have God in my thoughts continually. I am in his word. I am praising him through song. I am somewhere in my head sharing my thoughts, my likes, my dislikes, my excitements and my heartaches. I am using tools to study his word in ways I have never done before. I am striving for his church in ways that cannot be stopped. But then, something outside my control enters in, and that season begins to change. Then I go through a time where I feel distant from God. I am not in his word, unless teaching or preaching. I am not picking up commentaries/study aides, unless in preparation for a lesson. I am not spending time in prayer, unless leading one for a class or group. I am not spending time in worship, unless on Sunday mornings.
Then out of the blue my heart breaks. It is much like the heart break I have felt when breaking up with a girlfriend. You know the deep pit in your stomach, the knot that ties up deep inside, the feeling of being all alone, the feeling of hurt that just changes your entire demeanor and attitude. Your outlook on life quickly becomes different. This feeling exist because in a way you are breaking up with God. You are feeling lonely, your attitude is affected, and you are hurting because you are separated from the one you care about so much. But we have an amazing promise.
As Joshua was preparing to take over the leadership role of Moses, God gave him this promise. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” As a follower of Christ, I have that promise too. The writer of Hebrews reminds his audience of that in 13:5. In my seasons of separation from God, he has never left nor has he stopped leading. It is during these seasons where his leadership picks up. It is during these seasons that he uses his spirit to gently nudge me, to remind me of the relationship we have. It is during these seasons that he breaks my heart for him.
I thank God for constantly being there. I thank God that he continues to nudge me, even when I do a horrible job of living for him. I thank God that he still uses me for his service.
So what do your season of life look like? How does God nudge you to do something you should be but are neglecting to do? How does God use his spirit to break your heart?
(Above image was taken from the website for Bob Atkins Photography)
Thursday, October 7, 2010
On Sunday afternoon just before 1:00 a male student shot and killed another male student in his dorm room on the campus of MACU. This news took me by surprise. When I called Robert I did not expect this kind of news, or even this kind of tragedy to ever take place on that campus. Had there been disagreements on campus before? Certainly. Had their even been physical fights on campus? I am sure there have. But to have something like this, one student taking another students life, I just did not expect.
Because of these events, and me now living so far away, I have spent the past four days glued to the internet. I have been logging onto Wavy TV 10’s website multiple times a day, I have been watching my Facebook for updates from current and former students, as well as college faculty and staff, and I have been checking my email every time it dings to see if it is another update through the Alumni news.
While I have been a person addicted to the news for a good chunk of my life … I spent an afternoon as a high schooler watching a house fire on Fox News that was taking place in California … I watch tragedies for hours on end just waiting to hear that new piece of news that is so few and far between … this week the news has just drained me. I am left today with no drive, no motivation, just sitting in my office struggling to focus and be productive.
Then I found this video; a video about people doing the right thing; a video about people stepping away from their capitalistic conquest to help their competition in their hour of need.
What took place in the dorm at MACU on Sunday was a horrific loss of life, and unfortunately a time when the shooter was not acting with the love of Christ. But then to find this was an uplifting insight into who God calls us each to be. God calls us to be agents of love.
The reason for Christ was because of the love God had for us. God loved us so much that he choose a people, the Israelites, to be his instruments in bringing into this world his son Jesus Christ. Christ came to die so that we may have life. God has given us the indwelling of his spirit. With that spirit living inside of us, we are then to reciprocate that love to all of mankind. We are to be agents of love.
Would you please continue to pray for MACU as they are going through one of their toughest and most emotionally draining times in the history of the school. MACU is a place I hold near and dear to my heart. It is a place that has trained so many preachers, teachers, youth ministers, and lay leaders for the work of God’s kingdom. I pray that these past few days will only work to strengthen the school and it focus on ministry. I also ask that you pray for both families of those involved. For the family of the victim, that they will find peace and forgiveness. For the family of the shooter, that they will remain strong, that they will seek God, and they will be the support their son, brother, and grandson needs them to be. For the shooter, that he will find peace, that he will find restoration in his heart with God.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
For some reason the portfolio made it into my office when I was in NC. As I have moved it has continued to travel with my office books. I don’t remember if it was when we were dating or since we have been married that my wife first looked through this piece of work. When she first looked at it she quickly noticed that my writing was horrible. Not only was my punctuation horrible but I butchered almost every grammar rule in the book. Looking back at the portfolio, I now ask the question, “How did my 12th grade English teacher allow me to put this crap in there?” Now I know I am not the world’s best writer or someone that a lot of people who pay money to read, but I have improved greatly.
Knowing where I started from and where I am today, now gives me the opportunity to poke fun. My wife has been dealing with some issues producing milk for our child. Through the frustration she has been driven to start her own blog to release some of the tensions. You should all check it; read from her fingertips the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, and the learning opportunities of being a first time mom … crystaldawson.blogspot.com. But here is where I get to poke fun. I checked the blog out today and noticed that she broke many grammar rules. I immediately texted her this … “Don’t ever make fun of me for my grammar. Just saying!” (Because of the conversation proceeding she would not take that text in a negative or harsh way. Just saying). It was only her first post, and she was caring for our daughter and doing other things, but now she has lost all rights to get on me.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I started this blog to share my thoughts on life and ministry. I also wanted it to be a place where I could communicate with the members of my congregation. I decided last year to make this a place to do a Bible reading guideline from. For the first five months of the year this went really well. Then around the time Alivia was born I kind of stopped doing it as regular. Maybe it was because life got really busy, or maybe I lost my drive. I think both can sum it up.
Life got busy as any parent out there knows. Not only did I have the responsibility of helping Crystal with our daughter, but I also had all the responsibilities at church. Summer was quickly approaching and that means busy times for churches. West Side is no different. But something also happened. My drive for the blog was waning. I realized that most of my post we becoming very redundant. I was repeating myself each day having a hard time of being creative and different. The pattern began to be hit or miss and then in June I just decided to stop all together.
I needed a break. I needed to step away and get a new perspective. While I am not ready to start back with the Bible reading today, it will be back very soon. I am excited to see what God will teach me in the next couple of weeks. During the silence on the blog God has been working in different ways in my life and I am excited to share them with you. Keep checking back to see what new things God will be sharing through the blog and my life in the coming days.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
In today’s reading (Philippians 2) Paul shares the heart and attitude we should all have. Paul writes … “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Now this is something that most of us have been taught our entire lives. Today however, we live in the middle of the “me generation,” in a world that seeks to satisfy our desires and not worry about other people. Now I do not understand people like that, basically because I am a people pleaser, but I see it around me all the time.
But why do you think Paul encouraged us to look out for the interest of others? Could it be because we are supposed to be concerned over the salvation of others? I think it very well might be. Paul also wrote in this passage …
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life”
Did you hear that? Do everything without complaining or arguing, to become blameless and pure, in a depraved generation so that we may shine like stars as we hold out the word of life. The word of life is the gospel of Christ, the message of the cross that brings eternal life in the prescience of God himself. So how do you do at looking out for others? Are you concerned about the salvation of those around? According to what Scripture teaches we should be.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
My heart broke as I read today’s passage (Ephesians 5). Today Paul is talking about relationship and how we are to relate within the church. Paul shares these thoughts…
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love”
“Live as Children of light”
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the father for everything”
“Submit to one another out of reverence”
In the church we are to live in harmony. We are not to get into quarrels with each other. We are not to get in quarrels with the world. We are to be light, we are to be love, and we are to be peaceful, praising God in one accord. We are to submit to one another.
Then Paul begins a discussion of how wives and husbands are to treat each other. In the middle of that discussion Paul uses the church as an example. This is where my heart broke. Read carefully the word of Paul …
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
What have we done my heart cried out! Does the church we know today, does the church we see in history resemble the church that Paul described Christ giving to us? I do not think so. Over the course of time our human hearts, minds, and hands have really blemished the church. Over time we have sent men on Crusades who have done some wicked things. Over time the church has persecuted people to death for witchery. Over time the church has spilt into many different groups because of arguments over doctrine and understanding. Over time man has thrown into the mud something pure, beautiful, and holy. My heart breaks for what man has done.
So how can we restore the church back to the purity that Christ presented her with? We can begin by applying the passages listed above; be imitators of God, Live as Children of light, praise God together in one accord, and submit to one another.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Paul says something powerful in his writing in today’s passage (Ephesians 3). Paul says that it is “by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power” … “This grace was given me: to preach to the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plainly to everyone the administration of this mystery.” Basically Paul was saying, I have been given grace so that I can preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, so that the love of Christ will not be held up, but be made plain to everyone.
Do you ever look at the grace you have been given in the same light? Do you see your salivation, your freedom in Christ, your removal of sin, your promise of eternal life in the prescience of God as a gift of grace you must share? I believe that is an attitude we are supposed to have. God did send Christ to save just one man he sent Christ to save all mankind. You having that gift of grace should want to share it in fact be compelled to share it. So how do you do at that task?
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
It has been a long time since I have read the book of Romans the way I am doing so now. I am almost kicking myself for not studying it like this in the past couple of years. Today’ reading (Romans 14) really reminded me of that.
I love how this passage begins with the word of Paul … “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Sometimes I think many of our arguments in the church are over disputable matters. Friends, we all come to church at different levels in our Christian walk. Some of us have been in the church our whole lives, we have spent years studying the scripture, and some of us might even have some college background in our study of the word. Others have come to the table at a completely different level of maturity. Some may have come from a background that was weak in teaching the scriptures’. Some may be new to Christianity and have little knowledge of God’s word and his teachings.
We must remember to accept the brother or sister who is weak. It is our job to teach, guide and correct. That is how you more than likely became a stronger brother. But when it comes to areas were there is disputable knowledge, those are areas we must learn to not pass judgments, where we must act out of love towards others.
A couple of weeks ago in our small group we got into a discussion about eschatology. Myself and one of the group’s members are on completely different sides of the table on that particular subject. However, because of the love we have for each other we did not get up demanding that one of us was correct, on the other hand we discussed peacefully and without passing judgment on each other. Why was that? Because it is a disputable matter! It is not something we should wage war over. In the end while we did not agree that friend and I enjoyed a nice time of fellowship afterwards.
So how do you handle being in the prescience of a weaker brother? How do you handle yourself when in a discussion on matters that is not set in stone, matters of opinion? Continue reading the rest of Romans 14 and Paul gives some pretty good answers.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Today’s reading (Romans 13) brings some challenging words in today’s political climate. Paul commands us to submit to the governing authorities. We know this is not a suggestion but a command because of his use of the word “must” in verse one. Paul also tells us that he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and thus we can assume rebelling against God.
Now you might be asking, or even screaming … “What is going on in Washington and in political circles all around the country is not right.” Maybe you sit on the other side of the fence and are pleased with what is going on in political circles. You might also be saying … “Paul does not get what we are going through, if we are going to change things back we must rebel.” Friends, Paul’s words were probably just as challenging to the people of his day as they are to you.
The world Paul lived in was ruled by the Romans. Now if you were a Roman citizen things were pretty good. However, corruption ran through the political realm then just as it does today. The group Paul is writing to is a group of Christians living in the capital city of the empire … Rome. At this time the Christians are not well liked. This is near the time Nero, the present Emperor is accusing Christians of burning down the city. Persecution and heat is coming on the Christians from their rulers and authorities. Paul’s words to submit would have had the same challenge to them as they may to you.
So, if you are unhappy with the government, or you become unhappy one day, what can you do? Well you can begin by thanking God that he allowed you to live in a country where you can still makes changes to the law without rebelling. At this time there is still a process that we can go through to disagree, to change laws, and even the constitution if you are unhappy. But what would be wrong is rebelling. What would be wrong is refusing to pay your taxes. What would be wrong is harming someone, lashing out, or doing something illegal to make your point. Rebelling against the authorities is rebelling against God, even if you are doing it in the name of Christ.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
In today’s sermon Marty referenced part of today’s reading (Psalms 51 & 52). Marty told the story of why we hold up our right hand when being sworn into a testimony in a court setting.
The practice can be traced back to the Middle Ages. When someone was standing trial before a court and all the evidence was staked against them, they had one option left … They could appeal to a clergy. What would happen is a clergy man would come in and ask the defendant to read Psalm 51. Psalm 51 is what David writes following his encounter with Bathsheba:
David has had an affair with a woman he caught bathing on her roof. The woman was married and her husband was one of David’s best fighting men. It was the time of war and he was out fighting for his king. David soon learned that the woman was pregnant with his child, so he summoned home her husband in hopes he would sleep with her. But this fighting man was too noble and would not sleep with his wife. So David decided to have him killed in battle. The plot plays out, the husband dies and David makes the woman his wife. When the baby is born, Nathan the profit comes to David to tell him a story. David is troubles by the story and rules that the man in the wrong in the story should be punished. Nathan then tells David the man in the wrong in the story is David. Soon the baby created out of lust dies, David mourns, and then writes this Psalm.
So, the defendant would have to read this psalm, and if he could get through it without any mistakes, without slipping up, without stuttering on one word, the person was free to go. If they slipped up, they would then be sentenced. However, a person was only allowed to appeal to the clergy one time in there life. To mark whether a person had done this, they would brand the palm of their right hand. If a person was accused again and brought before a court they would ask them to raise their right hand to show whether they had appealed to the clergy or not.
So what does this have to do with our Bible study and our reading? Not a whole lot. It was more of a fun story to tell. However, let me remind you that the grace and love of Jesus is not a one time appeal. When you slip up, if you mess up in life, Jesus does not hold it against you that you have already been branded. In fact Jesus looks for the mark and is gland when he finds that you have already been branded. Jesus is all about creating in you a pure heart and renewing your steadfast spirit. What an amazing God we serve.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Something caught my eye in today’s reading that made me think about those two events … one true life and the other fictional. In the reading Paul writes … “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” Here Paul is talking about the rejection of Christ by his fellow Jews. Their rejection of Christ is based on their faith in God as they have always known it. They were not willing to accept the coming Messiah. I think we can learn a great lesson in the way we approach people who want to do harm to America and its citizens (This does not make right what they do or have done, and it does not change the punishment they should receive).
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Have you ever wanted something so bad for someone else that you would be willing to take the punishment so they could have it? There have not been many times in my life where I have desired that. Maybe as a new father those days will be closer and closer. In today’s reading (Romans 9) we see Paul wish just that. Paul writes …
I speak the truth in Christ-I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit-I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.Paul’s race, his people, the people of Israel had rejected Christ. Not all of Israel had done this but most, and the ones who had Paul’s heart goes out to. He knows the pain and suffering that is coming their way. He knows and understands that eternity without Christ will be Hell. He knows that the only way to avoid that and have the opportunity to spend eternity with God is to accept Christ. But many of the Jews have rejected Christ as Lord and Savior. Their hearts have been hardened. And for that, Paul’s heart is full of great sorrow and unceasing anguish.
Paul’s heart is so broken that he wishes he could trade in his salvation, be cut off from Christ, and take the punishment so that his race, his people would know Christ. Friends, Paul understands what is at stake and if he could he would trade it all so that more people would spend eternity with God. Do you long for people’s salvation that way? Do you pursue evangelism with that same heart and mind? I know I do not. Why do not we? When we answer that question evangelism in our lives might take a radical turn.
The above image was borrowed from the blog Rantings of the Superlative1
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Thank you for being patient with me. On Thursday morning my wife and I went to the hospital to begin the delivery process. I tried to do the Bible reading but my mind had to many things on it to focus properly. I hope you did the reading and plan to pick up with today’s reading.
Today’s reading (Romans 8) is packed full of some awesome information shared by the Apostle Paul. Paul reminds us that when we are in Christ there is no condemnation, when we are in Christ we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, and when we are in Christ we are more than conquerors.
You see friends these all tie together in an amazing way. Christ came and defeated death when he rose on the third day. No longer did sin bind him to the grave, and because of that he has the ability to bring us along. No matter what eschatological view you hold to, in the end, if you are in Christ you have conquered death. When you stand before the judgment throne of God Christ stands on your defense. There is no condemnation when in Christ.
Also when you are in Christ you have the Spirit living inside. That spirit helps to guide and direct. That Spirit helps to keep you from sin and show you the love of God in a deeper and awe inspiring level. I love the way Paul ends this thought when he says…
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Hopefully sometime today we will have the priveldge of meeting Baby Dawson. I ask that you keep Crystal in your prayers as labor begins.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
If you have any questions about the chart please leave a comment in the section below with your email and I will do my best to answer them. The image of Jesus was borrowed from the site Annabanan's Blog.
Monday, May 3, 2010
My friend Greg emailed me a link to this video. This is what is all about - check it out.
Cardboard Testimonies 1/10/10 from Biltmore Baptist Church on Vimeo.
I have seen several videos like this one produced by this church. Each time I watch one I sit in my chair wiping away the tears streaming down my face. Man, this is what it all about ... life change. I hope this video touched you like it did me.
There are several reasons people give for not attending church. Some say that their parents drug them to church as a child and they hate going now. Others say that the church is full of hypocrites and they do not want to be around a church full of hypocrites. This is the excuse people give that really sticks in my craw. Why is that? Well it has several reasons. One is that we have done such a poor job of sharing with others what the church truly is. Because of this many people view the church as people proclaiming one thing and living another.
When I hear this excuse I want to scream out … “I am totally cool with the church being full of hypocrites. Jesus did not come to save the righteous but the unrighteous. It is not the healthy that need a doctor it is the sick. The church is not for perfect people it is to perfect people.” Friends, the hypocrite reason is not a reason at all, it just shows the failure of the church to truly evangelize people and share what it is all about.
Now having said all of that, we must also take into consideration Paul’s words in today’s reading (Romans 2). Paul writes…
Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, and instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – you, then who teach others do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
In that section Paul says a lot. But basically what he says is this … “If you claim to be a teacher, a person leading the blind, you must also teach yourself.” Now in that he does not say that we must be perfect, but we must examine our life. When people say the church is full of hypocrites I personally hope they are right. If we were all righteous I would be out of a job because Jesus work on the cross would be useless. The church is to bring people into a life changing relationship with Christ. We are not perfect people, but people who should be working to perfection. If we preach and teach against such things, we must examine our lives closely.
Remember who Paul said would inherit eternal life … “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immorality, he will give eternal life.” If you are a hypocrite then that is ok if you are seeking by persistence the glory, honor, and immorality that only God can provide.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
In today’s reading (Psalms 45 & 46) we see the splendor and majesty of God. Isn’t it wonderful to see that when one is living in the graces of God things tend to look really majestic? Now this doesn’t mean that everything goes right and that everything is perfect. But when we live in God’s graces, when we seek him in all we do, when we allow him to bless us, true splendor can shine through.
Maybe that splendor isn’t always seen on this earth, but just imagine the eternal splendor we will see in eternity living in the very prescience of God. Maybe the question we must ask is, what glasses are we using to see the world. Do we look through glasses with a tint of filth, or do we look through glasses with a tint of sunshine and God’s grace? The answer to this question might change the way you view your life.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Today’s reading comes to us from Proverbs 13. In many of the proverbs in the reading there is advice about money. When you take some of those as stand along passages they might give the idea that money is an evil. Proverbs such as … “A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears not threat” … or … “One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing: another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” By themselves these passages can make wealth and money seem like they are evil. However, if we take the passages surrounding these and throughout the entire chapter we have a completely different picture.
Look at these verses … “Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly” … “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored” … “A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away” … “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” Now these passages stand in contrast to the ones quoted before.
So where should we stand on the issue of money? Money is must in our society. Without money we cannot function. Without money we cannot participate in society. Money is how we purchase homes, food, clothing, and transportation. Without money we would not survive. However, we must have a proper understanding and appreciation of money. I love what Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:10 … “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Money is not evil, did you read the words of Paul … the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Money is evil when it drives you. Money is an evil when it consumes your life. Money is an evil when you have lost the prudence, wisdom, and righteousness it takes to handle it. So when you examine the way you handle money how do you measure up? Hopefully it won’t be a hard pill to swallow.
Friday, April 30, 2010
When Paul wrote the book of Romans he had yet to visit the city of Rome. He had spent a lot of time traveling throughout their empire but he had not been there in person to see the church there. That is evident in today’s reading (Romans 1). We also see today the reputation of the church in Rome had … “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” The church in Rome had a famous faith known throughout the churches of the world.
So how is your church known? Would outside churches, people in your community, people across your state know and brag about the faith of your church? From today’s reading we see this as a noble thing for other churches to see in us.
What about the way we view other churches where we do not attend? Paul also prayed for the church in Rome even though he wasn’t a part of their gathering. Do you pray for other churches? Do you view them as your churches competition? Or do you see them as partners in carrying out the gospel of Christ? I know in my own life I admire the work of several different churches. The ministry and the work they are doing is just through the roof. In many ways I pray for the continued success of these churches … Savannah Christian Church, Southeast Christian Church, Laurel Avenue Church of Christ, North Terrace Church of Christ, Philippi Church of Christ, Towne South Church of Christ, Verve, Forefront, and Momentum Christian Church.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
At the end of today’s reading (Mark 16) we get another rendition of Jesus’ famous great commission. In this one he shares “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Last night we had in one of the missionaries we support to speak to our congregation.
We had with us Mike Flinchum who ministers in Chang Mia Thailand. Mike is living out the great commission by going into parts of the world were the gospel does not have as strong of a hold. In his presentation he showed us pictures of several baptisms, the life transformation of the people there by Christ, and a lot of the daily living. I really enjoyed hearing Mike share the work and ministry he is doing in Thailand.
Last night since he was here I cancelled my Wednesday evening youth group and wanted the teens to sit through the presentation. However, the guys mowing our grass at our apartment complex hit a gas line and I went home to check on Crystal who was not feeling to great. When I got back the presentation was started and many of the youth of the church were wandering around. With their parents there I did not say anything. But after the service I continued to think about how so few of them did not listen to the presentation and just wandered around the church grounds. The more I thought about it the more vexed I got.
Here was a guy who is doing ministry in another part of the world, and our teens were not in there to hear it. I know some of the responsibility is mine for not saying anything, but I also am saddened by the parents for not making their children go listen to something that could be life changing. They had them participating in praise team practice that was going on, let them leave because it was not “Youth Group,” or just let them roam outside. What Mike and his family are doing is living out the great commission in a powerful way, and our parents did not encourage their children to hear that message.
So where have you failed to be encouraged by another brother in Christ? What teaching opportunities have you missed sharing with your children? I hope and pray we do not continue missing those opportunities.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Today’s reading (Mark 15) paints a gruesome picture of what happened to Christ as he fulfilled his earthly mission. What a noble task he undertook so that you and I, people full of sin, full of filth, could have the privilege of spending eternity in the very prescience of God.
Towards the end of the reading we read this account of what happened when Jesus died:
“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”. We also know from another gospel that a mighty earthquake rocked the ground.
I love the image of the veil tearing. The veil in the temple was what separated the Holy of Holies from the outer courts. The Holy of Holies would have originally housed the Ark of the Covenant, and would be a place that one priest would enter once a year to offer sacrifices of atonement. This was the place that God resided within the nation of Israel. But now the veil has been torn, God has departed the temple, no longer is he residing in an earthly structure. For a while God was looking for a new home.
It is not until fifty some days later that God finds his new home. In Acts 2 we learn about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. It is then God finds his new home, his new temple. He is now living inside of all believers. What an amazing God we serve. The veil is torn, and God has found a new home, inside you and me, walking with us wherever we go.
I love the words of David Crowder in his song “The Veil:”
"This is a love
Deep in the soul
O when you love
O when you love
The veil is torn
Down from above
Down from above
And yet we are under benediction
So there is grace
Hallelujah, we rejoice
What a Savior
What a King
Hallelujah, lift your voice
To our Savior
To our King"
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The additional pages I have added as of now are as follows:
About me - This will give my bio - not that it is anything overly great.
Links - These are just some of my favorite places I visit each day on the web
Thank you for checking in and reading the bible post each day. I hope you all getting something good out of it.
Today’s passage (Mark 14) was fairly long. In my estimate they could have added another chapter to the book of Mark, however, the organizers may not have wanted an uneven amount; who knows. Actually it is all one chapter because there is one main theme.
The story begins by a woman pouring a years worth of wages of perfume over Jesus. Those eating dinner rebuke this woman, Jesus praises her. Following this Judas enters his agreement to betray Jesus. Jesus is then eating the “Last Supper” with his disciples. During this meal he institutes the very thing we celebrate each Sunday morning with each other. Jesus then shares how two of his disciples will react; one will disown the other betray. Following dinner they make the trek to Gethsemane. Here Jesus’ soul is overwhelmed and he needs to spend time in prayer. He knows his final hours are upon him, and asks his disciples to keep watch. At this they begin to fall asleep. Physical need has overcome their spiritual need. Finally after hours of prayer Judas shows up with his mob to arrest Jesus. At that everyone deserted Christ and left him in his chains with the Sanhedrin. After his arrest he appears before the Sanhedrin. It is during this scene we see Peters own betrayal of Jesus. It is here that Peter denies knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crows.
Did you get the theme of this chapter? It opens with Jesus being honored in a magnificent way and his disciples not getting it. Throughout the chapter Jesus disciples rejected or betrayed Jesus for physical needs … Judas for money, those at Gethsemane for sleep, Peter for pride or even possibly to save his life and reputation. If the men Jesus spent three years with could not stand up to Jesus at a challenging time, what chance do we have? I think we might have an even better chance, because we have the help of the Holy Spirit. So my question for you today, when your faith is rocked or your God questioned, do you rely on the Spirit to pull you through or do you succumbed to the things of the flesh and deny your creator?
Monday, April 26, 2010
Today’s reading (Mark 13) is one of those highly debated subjects in Scripture. There are many ideas out there as to what Jesus is talking about. Some believe it shows how thing are going to take place when the time is ready for Jesus to return and call his children home. Other believe that this is talking about the beginning of the tribulation. Still other believe this has already happened in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. I tend to stand on the last statement that Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem.
Since we were not there we may never fully know, however, there is still something we can learn. No matter what view you hold about eschatology (The study of end times) there is one constant theme you see in all the theories … we do not know when it is going to start. That being the case we must always be prepared. Jesus ends the discussion here with this “What is say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!” That is something we must all do. Watch for the day and the hour is unknown. Watch for Christ return will be like a thief in the night. Watch for the end will be sudden and abrupt. Watch that your life and doctrine are in accordance with God’s will. Watch that you have received the grace and forgiveness that only comes through faith in Christ. No matter where you stand on your understanding of this passage, it is certain that you must continually watch!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Today’s reading (Psalms 43 & 44) gives us a bleak reminder. 44 opens reminding the readers of all the wonderful things God did as they entered into the Promised Land and how he delivered them from the hands of their enemies. Now the page has turned and God is no longer blessing them. Through the course of their history, which you can read about beginning in Joshua, through Ester, you can see the nation weave in out of times of persecution.
Why did the Israelites sees time of blessing from God as well as times of persecution? I believe it was because of their covenant with God. Their covenant was conditional. If they followed God then he would protect and bless them. If they did it on their own, then he would have nothing to do with them. We see both of these acts in the history of the people. When they needed God the most, they turned to him, but when he had blessed them then they forgot about him and tried it on their own. Today’s writer of the psalm is living in one of those times where they had forgotten about God.
So what does this have to do with us? Well, I think our covenant with God is very similar. Now there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, it is by the grace of God, the work of Christ over the grave, and our faith in Christ that saves us. There is no way that we can earn our salvation through living lives of righteousness. However, God still calls us to live lives that develop a deep relationship with him. He calls us to grow each and every day. He calls us to live righteous lives because of the grace that we have. We live under a new order of things, but he still asks us to live in him just the way he asked the Israelites to follow, trust, and honor him.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
We have all experienced separation from loved ones. It is a wonderful time we are living in that when we are separated by loved ones we can pick up our cell phones or log onto our computers and be directly connected with them. We talk and share about our busy days while separated. We hang on every word they share about their day. We just love hearing the sound of their voice.
The writer of today’s second psalm (Psalm 41 & 42) talks of the way they long for God. Here on earth we are separated from God. The beauty of heaven in my mind is not the streets of gold, the pearly gates, the sea of crystal, or even being reunited with love ones (All these things to me are a bonus of heaven), but the real joy of heaven is being in the very prescience of God himself. So do you long for that day when you will be with God?
Is God such a force in your life that he lives out the psalmist words? “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” If you understand the real joys of heaven, than this becomes the desire you live each day with. My hope and prayer is that it is.