Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Stop and Go, Part 2

This past weekend, I taught teens about relationships, but isn't every lesson about relationships somehow? I called it Stop and Go. You can read part 1, the Stop, right here. Below is part 2, the Go.

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GO

We have some good examples of people Going after God.

Ruth followed Naomi. She was following God.

Elisha followed Elijah, even asking for more of God. Twice as many miracles are recorded on behalf of Elisha as were Elijah. Elisha was chasing God.

There are plenty of stories of good and bad examples throughout scripture. But there is one who models what I’m talking about here perfectly. Allow me to paint the picture.

If you ever start reading 1 and 2 Kings, or 1 and 2 Chronicles, you’ll find a list of kings and the major events during their reign. You’ll find a description of how closely they followed God or, more often, how they were evil in the eyes of the Lord. The history of Israel goes back and forth like this, but always with a steady decline. If you can imagine the borders of Israel being filled with both Israelites and people of other nations, people with other gods. These towns were filled with many idols and altars to other gods. There were priests who worked at these altars. There were mediums and spiritists. This was happening all over.

But it was also happening in Jerusalem. You might recall Jerusalem is the place where God’s Temple was built. This was God’s House. If there was anywhere in Israel that stood its ground in holiness, you would think that Jerusalem would remain pure. But no! The priests were defiled here as well. They sacrificed to other gods. They built altars to false gods in the Temple of God. It’s bad news, but it seems to be business as usual in Israel.

Enter a boy-king named Josiah.

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”

(Just an aside, but I hope you live your lives so well that people could trust you like that.) So, don’t get confused by all the names. King Josiah sends men to get money out of the Temple in order to pay some workers for repair.

8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.”

We can’t overstate how ridiculous this statement is. They found the Book of the Law. Let’s be clear. We’re talking about the Bible as the Old Testament Jews had it. It was found. Which means that it was lost. Lost? How do you lose the one book that has all the important things God said to you? God?!? These aren’t notes from your girlfriend. This isn’t a FB post or a Tweet you thought was funny. This is the Book of the Law of God!

He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.”

More ridiculous. ‘Uh, King Josiah, we paid the workers as you requested. And oh yeah, we found this book.’ Not only did we lose the book, but it’s been gone so long that this guy Shaphan doesn’t even realize what he has. He doesn’t appreciate it. Neither do the priests, because if they did, they would have delivered it themselves.

As we’re talking about the process of GO, can I ask you a question? Do you know where your Bible is? If I were to walk in your room, how much dust would be on your Bible? Where would it be buried in your room?

Is the Book of the Law of God lost in your room? Find it!

And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.

In case you don’t realize it, tearing your robes was a sign of great grief and sadness. In Chronicles, which records this same story, we’re told that King Josiah began really seeking God in the 8th year of his reign. This is 10 years later than that and Josiah clearly has a soft heart to the things of God.

Second part of GO. Allow the words of God to break your heart. Do you want to be a person after God’s heart? Then go chase His heart!

12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

This I love. Josiah listens to what we know as Genesis through Deuteronomy. He grieves openly when he realizes just how sinful his people are. Then he takes action. The rest of 2 Kings 22 and 23 is a list of all he did. He cleans out the Temple of God. He commands all the altars smashed and ground into dust. Not just taken apart. Ground. To. Dust. Then he goes around the country and destroys all the altars everywhere else. He has all the false priests slaughtered. He gets rid of all the mediums and spiritists. Josiah cleans house.

This is the third GO. Actually do what the Bible says to do.

We can only talk about wanting happiness for so long before we need to do something about it. We can only say we believe God has true joy and happiness for us for so long before we actually have to live it out. We can only see the world’s Happily Ever After fail so many times before we decide to give God’s Happily Ever After a try.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Stop & Go, Part 1

This weekend I presented a lesson I called Stop and Go, about how we pursue relationships. I'll break it up into 2 parts for you, my loyal blog-fellows. I'll post the Stop portion today and the Go portion on Wednesday.
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So the whole idea is that we want to be Happily Ever After. As I said at the beginning, many people are after the Fairy Tale story and ending. But the Disney picture is not realistic. So the first step is realizing that we’ve been handed a distorted picture by Hollywood. I say that and realize that many of you know, with your heads, that it’s a lie. But we don’t always think with our heads, now do we?

We have been sold a belief that living with your heart is better. Put your heart into it. Follow your heart. It’s all about emotions with us. Even when it makes no sense, we say ‘the heart wants what it wants.’ We say things like this, as if it excuses us from considering truth.

I imagine that many of us assume reality is for other people. Somehow, everything will magically work out for us. Somehow, beyond all understanding, we will be given the American Dream on a silver platter. As if God wants nothing more than to give us everything we ever imagine, we live as if the Happily Ever After is our destination.

But what if God’s Happily Ever After looks different than our Happily Ever After? What if Hollywood is not just a liar, but a really bad pawn, used by one with preconceived bad intentions for our lives? What if the lie we’ve been sold is merely a big distraction meant to keep us busy and spending money? What if the Happily Ever After which God intends for us will mean a total change in direction?

The pursuit of what we really want and need will mean we have to stop chasing after that which only distracts. 
Stop and Go. Stop chasing the lie. Go pursue the truth!

STOP

If the world’s Happily Ever After is a big lie, then let’s stop spending our time, money and energy chasing after that which can’t be caught. Let’s stop dreaming of a fairy tale ending where the highest pleasures we can think of are a beautiful spouse and lots of money. Let’s stop thinking like the world. The pagans chase after these things (Matthew 6:32).

We are warned with many of God’s heroes in the Bible. Even the man after God’s own heart, King David, messed up his family pretty bad when he spent his energy chasing a woman who was not his wife.

The dysfunction continued with Solomon. It’d be easy for guys to look at this guy with 700 wives and 300 concubines and give each other high fives. Solomon’s got it going on, right? Wrong. How smart can you be to have 700 wives? Has nobody heard of the honey-do list? Seriously, it left Solomon not focused on God, as his wives led his heart astray. Let me read it straight out of scripture, in case you think I’m making this up.

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods,and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lordcompletely, as David his father had done.
7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. ~1 Kings 11:1-8

Friday, April 25, 2014

What Do You Think?

Do you know why people ask what you think? So they can tell you what they think.

There are times when people ask my opinion. That is just stupid, for so many reasons. But I have come to realize that what they really want is to give their opinion. That's why they ask. In my opinion, they should simply ask me if they can present me with their thoughts. They would get to talk and I would get to save my breath.

Someone, anyone really, and I will have a conversation that goes like this.

Someone: What did you think of this book?
Me: I liked it for the following reasons.
Someone: Well, I hated it.

Or they may ask about a movie we both recently saw.

Someone: What did you think of that movie?
Me: I thought it was epic for the following reasons.
Someone: Here's why it wasn't good at all.

Oh, ok.

Perhaps if I took the advice given in James 1:19.

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."

If, when asked for my opinion, I simply shrugged and asked them their opinion, I could fulfill all three of these directives in one simple move. I'd be listening, which means I wouldn't be talking. Plus, I wouldn't have any reason to get angry when my opinion was shown to be the thoughts of an imbecile.

I don't know....what do you think?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Please Don't Say That Word

If I were to mention certain words or phrases, I would get an immediate and visceral reaction from many people. Let's experiment, shall we?

Dirty diapers.
Liars.
Healthcare.
Taxes.
No more cookies. (Okay, that last one was probably just me.)

But there is another word that wouldn't get the reaction it should. Oh, we might say it would. If I had included it in the list above, you'd say it garners the same reaction. But I'm afraid it doesn't. Not like it should.

The word is sin.

Like I said, we may react. We say we don't like it. We agree it's bad for your long-term health. But you won't see people's eyes roll or their faces contorted.

Now hear how God responds to the word.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, ~Exodus 20:5

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. ~Proverbs 6:16-19

Again and again I sent my servants, the prophets, to plead with them, ‘Don’t do these horrible things that I hate so much.’ ~Jeremiah 44:4

These are just a few. What will it take for us to see sin the way God sees sin? What will it take for you?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ministry Monday: I Don't Want Poo On Me

When we hear preachers that use strong language or offensive illustrations, it would be good of us to read the Old Testament before we pass judgement.

Malachi 2 offers as vivid and offensive (and stinky) an illustration as I have seen. God is speaking through the prophet and hopefully not at mealtimes. The audience is the priests, that special tribe called for a special purpose.

“Listen, you priests—this command is for you! Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart. I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile. Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. ~Malachi 2:1-4
Preach the word or get poo splattered on your face. I don't know about you but I don't want poo on me. God, through Malachi, explains.

The priests were saying wrong was right and living how they wanted. They allowed divorce, a desecration of God's creation of marriage. We don't get to do that. We don't get to spend our weeks searching for great illustrations and blog posts to use as sermon fodder without considering what truth is. We aren't privileged to say what's on our minds without considering what's on the Mind of God.

That kind of preaching causes a smell. It's not a good smell. On the contrary, the smell pastors are to give off should be like Paul's description.

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. ~2 Corinthians 2:14b-17
So if you are going to preach and you don't want poo on you, then I suggest you preach the Word of God as God intended. That won't smell bad.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fickle Friday Feelings

Easter-2014-blog-synchroblog_550x332

It is fascinating to think about how the crowd revered Jesus at the beginning of the week but reviled Him at the end. Keep in mind, this is before the invention of Facebook and Twitter where we get worked up in a new frenzy every week. So the up and down of the crowd is remarkable. Consider the following...

While crowds often found Jesus, how often were they able to plan for leaving a palm branch carpet ahead of Him? We should keep in mind that Jesus wasn't winning every poll. There were times when people tried to push Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:29). There were plenty of crowds who begged Him to leave their town (Matthew 8:34). And don't get me started on the people who tried to stone Him (John 8:59). 

So many people questioned who He was that Jesus made it a teachable moment with His disciples (Matthew 16:13-17). Now, all of the sudden, they are hailing Him as King? As Messiah? 

It sounds like someone had a worship service where someone made an impassioned plea for action. Whatever it was, this was a high for Jesus. 

So, what happened?

What happened in just 5 short days that the crowds were willing to call for His blood (Matthew 27:22)? What did Jesus do to turn so many against Him in just one business week? Did He all of the sudden reveal what He was really about? Did He pull back the proverbial curtain? All of the Gospels point to Him as saying and doing the same things He had been doing for 3 years.  He remained steady, always seeing and moving towards the goal. 

So, what changed? 

Rather, who changed? When we look at Easter and the week up to it, we can see how Jesus stayed the same. God has a way of doing that, being the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So whatever was going on politically effected us. Whatever was being done to emotions was being done to our emotions. Whatever changed was on our part, not His. 

So, as you sing this weekend and give praise to God, consider the week ahead and ask yourself, what will you do with Jesus who is the Christ?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Pray For People to be Saved

Suppose I had a pitcher of water and lots of empty cups. Suppose I had access to lots of water to refill the pitcher. Suppose I had made it abundantly clear that I was willing to give water to anyone who had asked. 

Now let's suppose you knew some thirsty people. (We're doing a lot of supposing.)

Who are you going to talk to in order to connect the thirsty people with me? Are you going to talk to me? Why? I've already told you I am more than willing to give people a drink. Shouldn't you be talking to the thirsty people? Shouldn't you be telling them about this guy with lots of water to drink? 

I wonder if we spend too much time praying about people coming to salvation. Perhaps we talk too much to God about these people, instead of talking to these people about God. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't be praying people into salvation.

What I am saying is that God has made it abundantly clear that He is wanting everyone to experience His salvation. While we can pray to God for the right words to say and for courage to say them, we should be spending more time talking to people. 

Romans 10:14 tells us this quite plainly. How can people call on a God they have not heard of? So let's do the math. God has heard of people, each and every one of them. So, ask Him for courage and wisdom. But don't ask God to do what He has already promised to do. 

Not everyone has heard of God. Let's change that. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ministry Monday: The Checklist Means Nothing

I have a somewhat Type-A personality. For those of you that know me (at all) there will be some of you that disagree totally and will perhaps point to some area of my life that is a big hot mess. If that's you, I have two things to offer you. 

1. Don't tell me. I have a wife for that.
2. I did say somewhat Type-A.

As I examine my life, the Type-A area in which I am most Type-A has to do with to do. Lists, that is. I like to make them. I like to complete them. Which is why the following would not work for me. 


That would not go well for me. This is also why I struggle in my ministry life. Because the to-do list of a pastor never gets fully checked and completed and put away. In fact, I love lists so much I have downloaded Wunderlist on every piece of tech I own, so I can always have my to-do lists with me. 

I have created to-do lists for every day of the week. I do this so I can remember what needs to be done. In planning ahead, I can place a task on a list for next week. I also like checking them off, bringing a sense of accomplishment to my day. 

Which brings me back to my dilemma. Not even my daily lists get completed on a normal basis. Some may say my lists must be unrealistic, which might have a glimmer of truth. But it is what I would like to accomplish on any given day. 

But ministry rarely works like that. Because relationships never work like that. If you have any friends at all, I'm sure you would agree. I have yet to hear of the husband who compliments his wife, turns around and checks that off a list and feels done for the day. If any guy tries that, he may in fact be done...for every day. 

So, my Type-A friends out there, I encourage you to tackle as much as you can, but never to feel defeated when tasks remain on that pesky to-do list. Or, if it makes you feel better, check everything off just to feel the sweet satisfaction of completion, as long as you have those uncompleted tasks written down for another day of course. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm Not Saying I Have Mutant Superpowers, But Maybe I Do

You young kids may not believe this, but there was a time when there were only two X-Men movies. There was a time when live-action superhero movies were just beginning to overtake our universe. And since there were only a couple of X-Men movies out, we were being introduced to people. Who they were, what they could do and why they were the way they were.

X2 Magneto and Pyro
There is a line from X-Men 2 where Magneto asks a young guy named John what his name is. When John answers with 'John', Magneto asks for his real name. It's Pyro. Not surprisingly, he can play with fire. Magneto affirms his powers and encourages him. This could have been a real made-for-TV kind of moment until you realize that Magneto is amassing an army. Oh, and he's the bad guy, despite what he may tell you. So Pyro isn't going to be making any campfires for s'mores anytime soon.

But Magneto's point is clear - don't hide from your real identity. I believe that is key for all of us to remember. We probably don't have superpowers, but the Bible does tell us we have gifts. It's not a genetic mutation, but something which God purposed us to have. Like several of the X-Men, our identity, our real identity, is connected to our mission.

There are things that only the X-Men can do, even in the fantasy world. There are things that only we can do. Oh, maybe other people have similar gifts. Perhaps others can do what we do to a greater degree, but none of them were placed where you and I were placed.

Yes, my use of the word placed makes it sound like you're a pawn in a cosmic chess game. I'm not saying you didn't make choices. But don't you ever wonder what led you to some of the choices you made? Don't you ever feel like something has been guiding you? Couldn't it be that you are where you are, able to do what you can do, for a reason?

I think it is crucial for us to find these things out. What's your mission? The answer to that just may start with telling someone your name. Your real name.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Perhaps The Ugly Duckling Could Have Been Called The Nice Personality Duckling

If you’ve never heard the story of Hosea before, you’re missing out. Hosea was an OT prophet who was told to marry a prostitute. (I bet nobody thought I’d start out sex and dating month that way!) God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute. They had some children together. A daughter they named Lo-Ruhamah, which means ‘not loved’. I don’t know what your name means, but I imagine you’d get the message if your name meant ‘unloved’. Then they had a son and named him Lo-Ammi, which means ‘not my people’. It’s kind of scandalous when you consider a prostitute having a kid and naming it ‘not mine’. (It would be like your parents giving you a name that meant ‘ugly one’. Thanks Mom and Dad!)

All of this was at the command of God. He told Hosea to marry Gomer and He told Hosea what to name these children. Why? Because God is trying to communicate to the nation of Israel the curse they were under. They had turned their back on God, so He was letting them know the consequences.

Our names have significance. Let me explain with another story. One day Jesus was teaching and people were crowding Him. (I understand that feeling. People just can’t get enough of me.) So Jesus spots a fisherman nearby in his boat and asks to get in and Jesus teaches from the boat. After Jesus is done, He tells Simon, the owner of the boat, to go out and fish. Simon tells Jesus they fished all night and didn’t catch anything. I think you may know where this story is going. Simon lets down the nets and they catch so many fish that the nets almost break and the boats almost sink.

It is here Simon makes a self-identifying statement. “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). That’s how Simon saw himself; a sinful man. Jesus calls Simon to be an apostle anyway.

Then in Matthew 16, we get an entirely different picture.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Notice that Simon names Jesus here. He identifies Him as the Messiah, as the Son of God. Then Jesus names Simon.

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Simon already had one name. But Jesus gives him another, one that truly identifies him. I think we each have two names; the one our parents gave us, and the one that God Himself gives us. One name we answer to, the other identifies who we are, who God made us to be.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ministry Monday: There Are No Small Victories



I have a picture up in my office. It has two boys, dressed classicly from the 50's. It's clear they aren't headed for any full-ride scholarships from any college looking for the next star quarterback. At the bottom of the picture, it reminds us all that some days are hopscotch days, while others are waiting to get nailed at dodgeball kind of days.

There will be whole seasons of getting nailed at dodgeball. At least, it will feel that way. And sometimes those seasons will run back to back with each other. Perhaps you can't remember the last hopscotch kind of day you had. Maybe you feel like God stopped making those days. 

I don't know what you're going through. Oftentimes I have trouble figuring out what I'm going through. Board meetings take ugly turns, students can seemingly turn on you at the worst moments, parents can say the wrong thing, events and group meetings can turn disastrous. 

It can cause one to wonder when the next dodgeball is going to hit us in the face while the gym teacher (read: the watching world) just laughs and tells us we're out (read: we had it coming). 

If it goes on long enough, we may even start to look for small victories. You know the kind;
  • Go a whole day without a complaint from anyone.
  • Nobody falls asleep while you presented the gospel.
  • A teen gave an answer that was on the same topic as your question.
Small victories, the kind that make you forget all the problems you have, if even for a moment. They give you something to share with your spouse that was positive. 

But here's the thing. I don't think there are small victories. There are only victories waiting to be celebrated. If you only compare the good with the bad and then see how they balance, you will be left like a boy in fourth grade (a boy I just made up in my head, having no resemblance to any child living in my house) and the only thing to look forward to at school will be lunch and recess. 

Then you will start to miss the good stuff. For my son...I mean the fictional boy I completely made up, it could mean overlooking when the teacher doesn't assign homework. For us in ministry, it could mean missing the growth of a teenager, the new volunteer, the moment when someone was encouraged by what you said.

And Heaven forbid you overlook the moment when 4 young boys decide to give their lives to Christ. Yes, they have driven you crazy in the children's ministry you help lead. Yes, you sometimes wonder why they come when all they will do is make jokes and distract others. But for at least one small moment, a light bulb went on and they realized their need for a Savior, which just happens to be the Man you're all about sharing on those dodgeball kinds of days. 

There are no small victories.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

God Speaks. Really?...I Mean..Wow!

God speaks.
This in itself should be an amazing enough truth for us to grasp. In a college group I lead we discussed whether we thought a deistic approach to life was true to reality. But we never mentioned the possibility that it might be all we deserve.
Consider this: an all-knowing, all-powerful, omni-present being decides to make a world. Even if we forget that this Being we believe in is all-good, He makes us. Should it really be a concern of ours if this Being decides not to talk to us? Do you speak to your paintings, your music, your dinner? We profess to believe in a god that is as far superior to us as we are to anything we create. Why should we ever expect Him to talk to us?
We are presented with a broken world and we say that we didn’t ask for this suffering. Perhaps not, but what a wonderfully me-centered way of looking at things. No wonder the Apostle Paul wrote what he did in Romans 9.
But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? ~Romans 9:20
If we really believe in an all-powerful God, I would suggest we should be less mouthy to Him. But I digress. The point is that God does speak. And before we even consider how or why, the fact alone should cause us to worship. 
God speaks. I want to be listening.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

That's Not Hot! This Is Hot!

It happened on a Monday. And why not? Mondays aren't meant for Disney World trips or winning the lottery. Mondays are for rude wake-up calls. And nothing, my friends, is more rude than a cold shower. This was not the fault of the women in my home. No, I've felt the last vestiges of hot water quickly flee down the drain, causing me to quicken my showering procedures. This was cold water with no hint that hot water even existed...ever...anywhere.

A trip to the basement revealed a water heater that was not working. Identifying the problem also ended my expertise on the situation. A call to the plumber revealed we were the lucky owners of a unit with a left-handed thermal coupler. Now, I don't know what that means, but apparently it was like finding gold at the end of a rainbow, because nobody had one. 

Even the makers of this unit only sold conversion units in order to make it a right-handed thermal coupler. But the good news didn't end there. Before ordering my part, they informed me my unit was past when it could be trusted to keep working. Monday morning now introduced me to a bill I was not expecting; a new water heater. 

But we took the plunge. Hooray home ownership! Yet, 27 hours later found us enjoying a new unit.

My wife made an interesting comment after her first shower with the new water heater working. She pointed out that we have lived in this house for over 4 years. We learned to set the knobs to get the desired, or almost desired, temperature. We had no idea that our water heater wasn't giving us the optimal showering experience. We assumed we knew what hot showers felt like. 

Then we got what should appropriately be called the Hot Showerinator 3000 Deluxe. What's left of my skin as I type this, feels very warm and toasty. I did not have to remove the cold water in order to maintain warmth. In fact, I kept the cold water on for fear of needing to call first responders from the burn unit. 

This is often our predicament spiritually as well. 

Before we knew Christ we had our theories on how this world worked. After we come to know Christ, our eyes are opened to a new reality. Our minds and hearts are made new, now able to understand what once was kept from us. Perhaps this truth should be a factor as we speak to people who do not yet know Jesus. Maybe we should keep in mind that the level of maturity we now maintain is not the maturity we will one day achieve. 

The Bible tells us we only see a shadow right now. Paul worded it this way;

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" ~1 Corinthians 13:12. 


One day we'll see things as they actually are. We'll experience reality in its most only realistic form and we'll ponder how we ever saw things differently.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

You Won't Believe This!

I'm resigning!
I'm pregnant!
I've gained 100 pounds in 1 week!

Nope, none of these are true. Bring on the ridiculous because it's April 1. April fools!

I trust nobody today. I believe no one. My apologies if something big, good or bad, happens to you today, because I'll be skeptical. I've steeled myself to not be fooled. And that got me wondering...

What if we lived everyday as prepared to live for Christ as some people do to not be fooled on April 1? Or as prepared to fool people, if you're that kid. By the way, I think I accidentally grew one of those kids. 

My 12-year old daughter had no less than 5 pranks at the ready for home and school today. My wife's last word of advice to her was to not get suspended. We'll see what happens. 

But what if my approach to everyday was to be on the lookout for people I could love? What if I was prepared to help people as the need arose? What if I prayed in such a way to be prepared for the crisis that will come my way each day?

If I was that prepared everyday, then I would not be a fool.