Thursday, April 4, 2013

Every Time I Think I've Got It Made

The Rock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God, without deceit, just and upright is he;    Deuteronomy 32:4 NRSV

We are going through some changes. I think changes are a part of life. Every time I am faced with a change in my life I begin to sing Bowie’s “Changes”. So for your listening pleasure one of my favorite artist.  The thing that I have learned about the inevitable changes that we are faced with in life is that we become presented with an opportunity to see God at work in our life. In all of the changes we are faced with we encounter two things. The first is that we mourn those things that we have lost. This presents us with the chance to see how God heals and touches our hearts, filling our soul with His love. The second thing we encounter is newness. This gives us the opportunity to see how God is working in our life, bringing us ever greater experiences in which we grow and become better Christians. The reason that we fear these changes in our life is because we do not trust that God will fulfill His promise. We do not think that God will be there when we hurt, and we will hurt. We do not think that God will be there to grow us when the change is not what we were expecting, and the change will not be what we are expecting. Just remember that God’s work is perfect, and all God does will be right for you. He is a faithful God, does not lie to us, and is our defender.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 NRSV

This video by Francis Chan highlights an idea that I have never thought of before, the idea of playing it safe. I like safe. I like calm. Maybe I seek safety because I have been hurt by taking to many chances. Are you like me and are afraid to step out of your safe zone because of your own failures or because you experienced injury from others? When things don’t go our way we become afraid and this fear hardens our hearts. If every time I reach my hand to pet a dog the dog bites, it would be natural to be afraid that the dog may bite me the next time. The problem is that I begin to think that every dog will bite me. Life is like this sometimes. We become afraid that we may be hurt and this fear prevents us from living an abundant life. When we have a relationship with God, wonderful things begin to happen. The life of Christ that we begin to recognize dwelling in us dispels the fear of our past. Our injuries heal and we become new and refreshed. Through Christ our suffering and pain become the fertile soil in which our happiness grows. This freedom allows us to try again to live the abundant life that is meant for us. We can then leave the safety and comfort of what we know and take a chance. Sometimes we may still fall, but Christ love will be waiting to pick us back up.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Red Flag Revival

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Colossians 3:23 NIV
I have been crossing paths with Jovan frequently. He is working as a traffic director, helping people to cross in a congested area. Jovan is alive. He smiles and tells everyone hello. He dances and encourages everyone to have a great day. He definitely has his own style. He stands out. I told him that he brightens my day every time I cross the street. This is our conversation.
“I wanted to tell you that you brighten my day every time I cross the street.” I said. Jovan said, “Thanks, you know people think I’m tripping, but I’m not on anything. They can drug test me all they want, they aren’t going to find anything in me.” I said, “You inspire me, I was thinking that no matter what job someone is doing, if they have a good attitude, they can really have a great effect on others.” He replied, “It’s all work for God, It don’t matter ‘cause it’s all work for God.”
He is so right. We as Christians have so much influence over those around us. We can bring so much joy and happiness. Joy becomes contagious. Often we may think that we do not matter. Or we may feel that the little things we do in our life are inconsequential. They only become little when we forget that we are working for God at all times. When we can maintain the idea or thought that we are acting to bring God to others, the possibility to do great things increase tremendously.

Friday, March 8, 2013

It's the Right Time for Wright

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 NRSV

I find the idea that the purpose of my salvation is heaven to be lacking. I don't mean to belittle heaven or suggest that heaven is not great and to be hoped for. There is a difference however between an end, destination or repose and a reason or purpose. I cherish the idea of heaven. What of the here and now? If all God wanted of us was our presence in heaven, then why not take us there once we took Jesus into our hearts? God demands more of us. Jesus’ resurrection is more than the promise of heaven. It is the promise of new creation. Out with the old and in with the new. The promise of this new creation includes a new creation of us also. Is there a part of your life that needs to be remade? The hope that we can turn from the old life without God to a new life with God is the essence of our repentance and salvation. When we are one with Jesus we are one with this new life. The new life that is offered in the good news is applicable in our lives now. Jesus changes everything. Our perception changes - where we see evil, we begin to see goodness. Our desires change - where we only wanted for ourselves, we begin to want for others. Our future changes – where before there was no hope, now there is the promise of God’s will in our life. Grasp it and hope for the promise of the resurrection.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tell Them

When they lead you away and deliver you up, don't be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11 WEB

I really love giving sermons. When I prepare a sermon it takes a long time and much effort on my part. I research the history of the text, search in my past experiences on how the text relates in my life and search deep within my heart for what the Word is saying to me. The most important thing that I have to do in preparation for a sermon is to pray. I have to really depend on the Spirit to provide me with a message that my congregation needs to hear. I am not well educated in theology or philosophy so I have to rely on those things that provide the most effective message. The most powerful message I present are those things that the Spirit provides. This same Spirit touches all of us. I can hear the most amazing things from the most unexpected people. God touches us with children, friends, strangers and acquaintances. It can come to us from anywhere or anyone. All of us is also used by the Holy Spirit to touch other people. Can you find where the Holy Spirit is working through you? I think it is hard for us to see. It is easy to see how the Spirit works in others, but hard to see in us. The only way for us to really know for sure is when someone tells us that we had an effect on their life. Next time the Spirit works through someone and moves you, tell them. Tell the children that they made you smile in your heart. Tell your friends that they made your heart warm. Tell the strangers how they made you feel welcome. Tell your acquaintances that you now know them better.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Undesirables

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11 NIV

I come into contact frequently with those who society deems to be the undesirable. Those who are not wanted and those who are blamed for many of the hurts of others are often castigated and alone. Often these same people who are lost and hurt are denied the grace that they so need in order to be healed. They may be shunned or barred in order to maintain our peace and comfort. We get nervous when faced with people who don’t fit the norm. I had used the intolerance of those who looked down on others as a reason to condemn all people of faith. As I have joined in the religious life I have seen how rare it is for an attitude of intolerance to prevail in the Christian church. I see tolerance and love at every turn. I see welcoming and grace in all the nooks and crannies of Christian fellowship. I had to but open my eyes to see. This lifting of the veil of judgment happened when I opened my heart. There is a saying that I couldn’t love another until I learned to love myself. I have always thought different. I couldn’t love another until I learned that God loves me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reach Your Finger Here

'Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27 NKJV

Lee Strobel wrote a book called "The Case for Christ" that really had a tremendous effect on my faith in Christ. When I had read the book it cleared away many of the objections and lingering doubts left over from my agnosticism. The above video presents some of the info that is presented in his book. What really lends street creds to Stobel is the fact that he approached the writing of this book as an atheist. The information he found while researching for this book changed his position.  I would recommend this book to anyone, whether you have a strong faith in Jesus or you are just now beginning to question the validity of what the Bible has to say.  Even with all of the info that Strobel offers it is insufficient to touch our heart. This takes an active intervention by God.  We Methodist call this touch on our souls “assurance”.  It is this assurance of God’s love that really convinces us God is walking with us hand in hand through our life.  It is this assurance that provides the twinkle in our eye and the peace in our heart that makes people wonder what we have found.