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Showing posts from October, 2013

Knowing Someone Means Spending Time With Someone

There’s no getting around spending time with God in order to know about God. This is a gut check moment on how much we really want to know God. (As opposed to just wanting a get-out-of-hell-free card.)

It is by making and taking the time to be with God that we will begin to know Him. There is a voice in my life that I have learned to listen to with a bit of skepticism. It belongs to Greta, the name I gave my GPS. I named her so I would have someone’s name to yell when she gives me wrong directions. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.

On a youth trip several years back, I was attempting to lead our youth group to one of the leader's family in Kentucky. Either my GPS hates Kentucky and wanted out as quickly as possible. Or this family lived so far out of anything that satellites have not yet discovered this place. After several wrong directions, Greta’s screen finally just showed a question mark, giving up on ever finding our destination. But apparently we’re not the only ones …

Know Jesus. Know God.

In the opening of John’s gospel we see this (John 1:18): No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

This is an interesting verse, especially for anyone who has stayed awake long enough to read the Old Testament. What about when Jacob wrestled God? Did he not get a good look at His face? What about when God mooned Moses up on the mountain? (look it up, people, it says God showed Moses His back.) What about the visions of Isaiah or Ezekiel?

I think, without us spending the next 2 hours thoroughly dissecting OT passages, we can begin to get what John is getting at. No one has ever seen God, not like this. No one has ever seen God, looking into His eyes and sensing His approval by the looks on His face. No one has ever seen God, to watch His every move, experience the power in His words, the love in His actions, the desire for food and water and company. No one has ever seen God, not like thi…

Our Perceptions of God

I'm still plugging away in my sermon series while my senior pastor is away. The next few days will offer snippets of this past Sunday. 

It’s confession time. I’m a recovering American Idol fan. How many of you have ever watched the show, or still watch it? I know many people who have really gotten into the show, cheering and voting for their favorites to win it all. I once called in to vote, but that was a long time ago.

But my favorite part was not the end, where all the great singers were. My favorite part was the beginning, when they would parade in the tone-deaf crowd for our amusement. You know, the people who couldn’t carry a tune if they had a bucket.

I think most of us see God as one of the American Idol judges. No, not the current ones that are such a hot mess. The originals. Too many of us fear a Simon Cowell-like judge, the surly brit who was rarely kind. (That was absolutely horrible.) On the other hand, too often we treat God like He is going to respond to us like Rand…

There's No Furry Animals in That Story

A few weeks ago I shared bits and pieces of King David’s life in my sermon. If you missed it, it looked like this…

No, David’s life looks more like this; get told you’ll be king while still a boy, slay a goliath, join the king’s court, have the king suspect you for treason and try to kill you, marry his daughter, have the king try to kill you again, eventually become king, have enemies try to kill you, experience victory over enemies, see a pretty girl taking a bath, murder her husband, get caught, lose 4 sons, one of whom was trying to kill you and take over, even causing you to run for your life…
After the service, my kids came up to me and asked me the deal about David being a murderer. In case you need to be reminded, these are pastor’s kids. These are kids that have picked out their favorite spots to play in the church building because they are here so often. These are kids who don’t understand why others miss, since they are not given that option.

They had never heard the story of …

Some People Have More Time Than Me

Current viral video plus upcoming holiday plus a good cause = Win.

Here's how the creatives from Relevant Magazine report it.

If you’re going to construct an intricate Halloween-themed, animated light display synchronized to Ylvis’ "The Fox", you might as well raise some money for a good cause while you’re at it. If you happen to be passing through Leesburg, Va., and want to check out the show for yourself (directions can be found here), all you need to do is tune your FM radio to a designated station and enjoy. The residence of The Fox house are also asking that visitors contribute $10 to Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital via a text donation …

What Could It Mean?

Peter. Ah, sweet, innocent, dumb Peter. We turn to Acts 10 to find him hungry and dreaming about food. Sounds reasonable, right? But this dream has a purpose and God shows Peter all sorts of animals that first century Jewish people would have said was unclean. God tells Peter to kill and eat, and in normal fashion for stupid people from the Bible, Peter tells God no and why he can't. 
God tells Peter why he can. Check it out... 
But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven. ~Acts 10:15-16
This happens three times! But the best part is found in the very next verse. 
Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean? ~Acts 10:17
What could the vision mean?!? Are you kidding me?
What are you confused about Peter? I think it means that God doesn't want you to call anything unclean that He has made clean. I don't know that this was all that mysteriou…

What If I Don't Want God to Know Me? Part 3

If you're just getting to my blog this week, what have you been doing with your time? Working? I'll let it slide, but you can find part 1 and part 2 if you want to catch up.  The long view goes something like this; We want to be known. But does familiarity have its limits? Our knowledge of good and evil means, of course, that we have knowledge of evil. We’re very capable of anger, selfishness, lust. So, deep down, do we really want to be known for what we truly are, with our hidden flaws and our secret sins? Of course, the people who know our dark sides and flaws and STILL love us are the ones we’re most comfortable with.  While we come to know God a little bit at a  time—through His Spirit, His Word, circumstances—God has always fully known us,  and He still loves us. This is something we come to embrace more and more as we collect the scars from battling our knowledge of evil.    In all honesty, you might simply be asking “…and God still likes me!?” And of course the answer …

What If I Don't Want God to Know Me? Part 2

If you missed part 1, check it out here.

If we begin to think that nothing is gained from God knowing us, then despair will set in as we compare our lives to those who are clueless when it comes to the ways of God. In fact, what we often come to believe is that God knowing the real us is a danger. While we may dread the thought of God knowing us, we can usually push those thoughts down. And, as per our normal human response, we turn our attention to those things we do have control over. Perhaps God knows all about me, making me feel vulnerable, but I can make sure that no one else knows about my junk. So we put on a mask. Much like any superhero or common thief, the mask has one purpose; protect our real identity. The exception to this seems to be Superman, who felt that a pair of glasses would do the trick. (Let me try that. Take off glasses. Do you still recognize me?) We put on a mask. We put on a show for the people in our lives. We pretend to be happy, or smart, or confident even…

What If I Don't Want God to Know Me?

I'm in the middle of preaching a 6-week series while my senior pastor travels the world. I'll share the highlights of each week's sermon here. But I'll break it down into parts, because who wants to read an entire sermon in one day?

I shared last week that God knows us. He knows everything about us. For people who are struggling with something, this comes as good news, as a salve for their wound. When we feel most alone, God is there. He can see us. When we are most afraid, God is there. He can see us. As we discovered in Psalm 139 last week, God knows everything about us.   But for many, the thought of God seeing us and knowing us is scary. It smacks of Big Brother watching our every move, as if God is someone holding a fly-swatter, waiting for us to make one wrong move, so He can strike us dead. I would suggest this morning that it is not simply those who are trying to hide something big that fall prey to this trap. It is many people, who have learned, through attend…

15 Minutes

For all my friends in ministry, I couldn't say this any better myself. Who knows, maybe hearing it from someone else will help you understand it better.

I got this from the blog. If you're in youth ministry, connect with the work they are doing over there. They have what they call the greatest deal in the history of youth ministry, and I'm apt to agree with them.

Back to the article. Here's the teaser; the before and after of any ministry event is just as important as what happens during the event. If you volunteer in any ministry of my church, here's what I want you to understand.

My Son For President

My 10 year old son does not appreciate President Obama. Now, before you assume I'm going to get political, remember where you're visiting. Not only do I not blog politics (unless you mean Church politics), I also don't talk a lot of politics at home. The only thing my kids want to know about the Government Shutdown is if it means they get more days off from school. Of course, that just leads to a new generation of jaded children thinking government does them no good.
The reason my son does not appreciate Obama's presidency is his wife. It is only because Michelle started the healthy living stuff for kids. Get Up an Move! Put Down That Cookie! Whatever it's called, my boy is not buying in. In his only political rant to date, here are his future presidential campaign quotes.
Kids can break their arm or get stung by a bee outside. Kids need to experience video games...inside...where its safe.
He was also a little put off when I told him he couldn't run for presid…

It's One or The Other

I've been thinking about Psalm 139 the past few days.

At the end of acknowledging that God knows all about him, David expresses a desire for more.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life. ~Psalm 139:23-24
It is one matter to discover everything God knows about us. But it is another matter entirely to respond as David does, baring his soul for a complete and thorough check. This is so much more than the dentist finding out you don’t floss regularly or the doctor finding out your cookie intake exceeds any amount of exercise you tell people you participate in. This is more than the teacher finding out what you have been working on all semester. It is even more than your parent finding where you hide things when you ‘clean’ your room.

This is God.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to wh…

When Poetry Veers Left

Here is a portion of what I shared with my church this Sunday. I was talking about how God knows us, using Psalm 139 as my proof.

Rather than question why his life is any of God’s business, David writes thankful words at God’s knowledge. He seems enamored that God would take this effort to know him and he earnestly desires to return that gift. In verse 6, he acknowledges that this kind of knowledge is too lofty, too wonderful for him to grasp.

As we continue through this Psalm, we come to a part that has probably left many pastors wondering what exactly was wrong with David. This warrior-king, one breath away from telling God how precious His thoughts were, continues like this;

O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies. ~Psalm 139:1…

God Knowing Us Feels Like a Warm Blanket

Talk about being significant.
It’s a really simple thing for me to say that God knows us. It’s even fairly simple for you to acknowledge that. But we need to understand this truth in the light of creation. When God made us, He knew what kind of world He was bringing us into. He knew what types of skills we would need to work the garden and rule over the animals. God knew what kind of food was available, so He made our bodies able to use this food for energy.

In chapter 2 we see the story of how God looked around for a suitable partner for Adam. God knew exactly what Adam would need when He created Eve.

I think we need to pause and consider just how much God knows us. He made this world like a playground for us. Perhaps you've heard the amazing facts about our world; how if our planet were a bit closer to the sun, it would burn up; and if it were a few feet farther, it would freeze. How gravity has just the right amount of pressure. If it were heavier, our bodies would be hurting, …

Max on Life

I don't like driving. I really don't like driving while I am alone in the car. But about once a month I have to drive across the state of Indiana for a youth pastor's meeting. In total, I drive between 5 and 6 hours. With nothing but corn to look at, I try to find an audio book to redeem my wasted drive time.

I'll be honest. I wasn't looking for a Max Lucado title. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed his writing and own many of his books. But options were limited at the online library and it was the night before, so I grabbed Max on Life, not sure what I was getting.

What I got was sort of a greatest hits of Max Lucado's books. It was set up as a question and answer for anybody and everybody on topics like faith, family, children and money.

It was mostly stuff I had heard before, but like any greatest hits album, it had some previously unrecorded stuff. And even the stuff I heard before was a good reminder of some great Christian truths.

So, people out ther…

Randomness Found Here

What I like about you, my faithful readers, is that you appreciate randomness. If you didn't, I'm quite certain you wouldn't come back. I'm glad you like it, because I just have a couple of random thoughts to offer today. If nothing else, today is very much like a walking tour through my head.

Scary, I know.

Random Thought #1
We recently sang All Hail The Power of Jesus' Name in church. In case you've forgotten, it includes this line;

Let every kindred, every tribe, on this terrestrial ball.

Was it too hard to simply say everybody on Earth? Would that have been too much to ask? Are there no words that rhyme with Earth? Couldn't we simply have made this a stadium-type anthem where the emcee starts chanting 'Everybody everywhere!'?

I think we could.

Random Thought #2
Yesterday I was sharing from the story of Moses and Pharaoh and those pesky ten plagues. In Exodus 8, here is what we read;
9 “You set the time!” Moses replied. “Tell me when you want me to pray…

What God Wants Us to Know

After their fateful bite the first thing to hit Adam and Eve was knowledge of good and evil. Knowledge…of evil. It broke God’s heart to describe us as “knowing good and evil.”

We tend to gloss over Genesis 3:22, where God describes us as knowing good and evil, and assume the biggest problem was our disobedience. That was a problem, yes, but not the primary problem. The big problem is that we became very much like a toddler spending our first night in a big-boy bed, or a big-girl bed. We assumed that since we were not held back by the restraints that a baby-cage offers that we were ready to come out whenever we wanted. But just because you can do something does not mean you should do something.

I remember when one of my daughters was first in a big-girl bed. Oh how she loved the power. I can get out of my bed anytime I want to. But what she discovered was that her parents liked to celebrate putting children to bed by having a bowl of ice cream. Why can’t I have ice cream, mommy? I want …

God Makes Known

So many times man wants to know what the rules are. What can we get away with once this game starts? How close can I come to cheating before it is actually cheating? I see good. I see evil. Now I want to know where the line is between the two. I want to know how close I can come to the line without crossing it.

We do this with God. We ask these questions in many different ways. We ask it differently because we don’t want God thinking that we sometimes desire evil, as if He doesn’t already know our thoughts. But we ask; What must I do to be holy? What must I do to gain eternal life? What do I have to do to keep on God’s good side? How many committees do I have to sign up for to make sure the pastor is off my back?

It’s like a young teenage boy asking how often he should write love notes or get flowers for the girl he loves. Son, if you have to ask, you’re not in love.

But we treat God so differently. How often do we have to do devotions? How often do we have to pray? Can’t I miss chu…

Faith Is My Favorite

Here are some pieces of what I shared with my teens this week. 
There are some famous chapters in the Bible. Genesis 1 tells us of God’s creation. Genesis 3 tells of man’s fall. Exodus 20 offers the 10 commandments. Psalm 23 is likely David’s most famous song, telling everyone that even though he walks in the valley of the shadow of death, he will not fear. Many recognize Matthew 5 as where to find Jesus’ sermon on the mount. 1 Corinthians 13? That’s the love chapter, right?
But, for me, a favorite has to be Hebrews 11. It’s the faith chapter. I like it for several reasons.

First, it clearly defines faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Let’s talk about this definition for a moment. Does this mean we believe what we believe and it does not matter what truth is?

The author of Hebrews writes that faith is being sure of what we don’t see. That doesn’t mean it isn’t based on fact. In his first letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul wrote about this i…

Six Ways to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy

My wife handed me this book, Six Ways to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy by Dannah Gresh. She read somewhere inside the pages that she should have her husband read it. And I think I remember reading somewhere, a long time ago, to know when to read things handed me by my wife.

It didn't take long for me to find the line where Dannah encouraged the handing over the book. I wasn't much farther along when I saw that most of this book was written from one mom to another, with Dad-snippets along the way.

No matter. Parenting should be a team sport and I want to raise a boy who becomes a godly young man, so I kept reading. I don't know about you, but I always wonder about the author when I read a book. What are they hiding? What's the real background to the ideas in the book? How much are they making per book? Could I make some extra cash by writing a book?

Especially when it comes to parenting books, I wonder if and when I'll come across something that exposes the…

I Get It Now!

Ahhh, the sweet satisfaction of winning an argument with.....
....a child?
Yes, a child. Not just any child, but my child. Perhaps you've had that moment as a parent, talking with your child. You know the moment. You know, when you are a few seconds away from blaming this spawn on your spouse because you can't possibly see any connection between this child's ridiculous behavior and your own spotless past. 
You know that moment, right? The only problem is when your aforementioned spouse reminds you of a similar time when you did the exact same thing. But I digress.
I live for the moment of sweet victory when a child realizes and accepts their misbehavior for what it is, apologizes and makes a 180, openly admitting your wisdom. It's the light-bulb moment when everything makes sense to them. 
I think God likes those moments. Because those moments are all about Him. You as a parent haven't said anything differently. The rules haven't changed. But a moment of unders…

You Said What?

You have got to love a guy that has the courage to question God, right? Actually, I think he's a bit of an idiot myself, but maybe that's just me. We meet a guy by the name of Ananias in Acts 9 who gets a visit from God, telling him to go do something. Except the thing he is supposed to do is go and heal the temporarily blind Saul, who has been going around arresting Christians, guarding coats while Christians get killed and generally making a nuisance of himself.

But God has other plans.

But what I actually love is that God has confidence that Ananaias is going to eventually obey, because God has already given Saul a vision of a guy named Ananias healing him. So unless God had another healing disciple by the name of Ananias who lived in Damascus, it was going to be this guy.

I'm not saying Ananias didn't have a choice. I'm saying God knew what that choice would be. More importantly, Ananias was clearly the kind of guy who felt close enough with God to at least qu…

Just One Man

Don't ever tell me that one guy can't make a difference. You go read Acts 9 and see a guy named Saul just take over the whole scene, arresting Christians in Jerusalem. He's got the taste of blood, after that whole deal with guarding the coats of the guys who stoned Stephen. 
But apparently the unchained lifestyle of singleness for Paul leaves him free and unfettered to travel and arrest Christians in other towns. (Admit it, you're a bit shocked that I just used the word unfettered on my blog, right?)
But Saul goes, has a conversion experience, which will hurt his persecution stats, but check out what we read in Acts 9:31. 
"The church had peace..."
Are you kidding me? Was Saul literally a one-man army? Was there no other God-fearing Jew that hated these upstart Christians enough to go and kill them? 
What was so different in Saul's childhood that he was the only one zealous enough to cause a rumble in Jerusalem before he actually met Jesus?
Perhaps the b…