Getting Past The Stop And Go’s

For years at Christmas we journeyed back to Tennessee and Alabama to visit our families and enjoy a respite from the lake effect snow machine that usually cranks up in November in northeast Ohio. A few weeks after we returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Promised Land in East Tennessee in 2006, my wife Julie comes in the house laughing. She was holding in her hand an envelope addressed from the City of Knoxville, Tennessee. Inside the envelope were a couple of photographs that showed what looked like our vehicle going through a stop light. After closer examination of the license plate, I did determine that it was indeed our vehicle. Who was driving is still debatable in our home as both Julie and I took turns operating the vehicle while in Tennessee. I hope the City of Knoxville puts my fifty-dollar fine to good use.

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Vision-istic Relativity

If Einstein were still alive he would be continuing to discover new aspects of the physics of the universe – and confirm what the Bible has been clear on from the beginning – that it all goes on forever…

Thus, those who can’t think in terms of vision, are doomed to be highly ineffective, left brained, just beyond cavemen (“apologies to all cave people reading this piece – no harm intended…”)

albert_einstein

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The Jesus I Know

History over the past two thousand years has painted many pictures of what Jesus looked liked and who he was. Many theologians and skeptics throughout the centuries have each had their idea of Jesus and the truth of the matter is, not a single one of them has done Jesus justice.  As I look back over my life, I have seen Jesus visualized as a stoic, serious figure and at other times as a  swinging zealot who liked to party. He has been written about more than anyone else in history, but history has not been a friendly judge to Jesus.

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Real Faith Is Not Just Something You Feel

Our faith is not determined by what we do, it is demonstrated by what we do. In a very real sense that’s what God says to you. Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is. “I believe in Jesus!” Prove it. Our faith is demonstrated by our actions. Actions speak louder than words. Our behavior shows what we really believe.

It’s more than emotions. A lot of people confuse emotions and sentiment with faith. You can be emotionally moved and never act on it. You can go to church and get a quiver in your liver, tingly toes, but it never makes any difference.

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Where It’s All About You – Consumer Christianity

There is a cancer that has been around the American church for decades that needs to be addressed by pastors, ministry leaders, seminaries, denominations, and the person in the pew. That cancer is what is known as Consumer Christianity. I will try to give a simple definition explaining as best as I can. The word consumer is pretty self-explanatory in that it is a verb that describes someone who consumes. Being a consumer means that you take and take, and take and rarely ever give back. Take for example the retail segment of our economy. That industry is a consumer driven industry where the retailer has a product and the consumer buys it for their consumption or use. There would be no product unless there were a consumer and there would be nor consumer unless there were a product. A two-edge sword, one creates the other.

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Green Eggs and Ham: Be Persistent

Green Eggs and Ham is one of the most popular children’s books ever written by Theodor Seuss Geisel. In an interview, Dr. Seuss (his pen name), said he wrote Green Eggs and Ham to hopefully get rid of the montonous reading books of Dick, Jane and Spot that many of us over the age of 40 grew up reading in school.

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When God Is Not Enough

Without shocking the weasel out of you, I believe that for many “Christians” and churches, God is not enough. While we openly admit and verbalize that God is enough, we live like He really isn’t. God has a special place in his heart for the Israelite nation and it very evident in scriptures, in both Old and New Testaments. God’s desire has always to be be king of his people (both Jew and Gentile) and be all that they need and want. Nothing illustrates this topic more that the story found in 1 Samuel 8.

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A Call For Your Life

When you have an honest to goodness call of God in your life, you can’t help but take action. His call compels you. His love and grace draw you. Our love for Him spurs us to action that sometimes is met with skepticism and negativity from others.

Call is a question of “who” you are listening to – as in God – and who you are becoming.
The Latin word “voca” means voice. The German word “beruf” is the idea of an inner voice, a spiritual call.
“There is more in a human life than our theories of it allow. Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path. You may remember this “something” as a signal moment in childhood when an urge out of nowhere, a fascination, a peculiar turn of events truck like an annunciation: This is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.” (James Hillman The Soul’s Café.)

A call that doesn’t require action is not a call at all. When God calls, He expects an answer. Many times people have confused a call with a desire to be involved with something they think is cool or would bring success and a popular name. A call is not about being successful or having people recognize our name. It is about doing the business of the Father; there is no greater occupation in the world.

God has a purpose for all of us and we must know what it is if we are to accomplish his plan for our lives and churches.

There are people who have not heard from God, but they go ahead and “do” anyway. To act on a non-call from God is down right dangerous. I guess that type of action could be classified as stupid and prideful. We have leaders in churches who are ineffective because they do not have God’s call on their lives. There are guys out there on the speaking circuit who are teaching pastors and church planters how to plant and grow a church and all they have is theory, not a call.

Let me encourage you that if you do not have a clear, absolute call from God, to graciously step aside from what you are trying to do on your own. It is not a sin to walk away from something that you want to do, but have not been called to do. It is a sin to continue to stay in a place when you are not called.

The Bible Is Full Of Lies

Maybe the title of this post grabbed your attention and you wanted to see the lies that are in the Bible. I guarantee that there are lies in the Bible, but they are not spoken by God, Christ, the apostles or the prophets, but the Bible is full of lies. The first lies can be found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Lying started right from the beginning and continues today.

For example:

• It’s a good thing you came in today. We have only two more of those items in stock.
• I promise to pay you back out of my next paycheck.
• Five pounds is nothing on a person with your height.
• But Officer, I only had two beers.
• You made it yourself? I never would have guessed.
• Go ahead and tell me, I promise I won’t get mad.
• So glad you dropped by. I wasn’t doing a thing.
• You don’t look a day over forty.
• The baby is just beautiful.
• Put the map away. I know exactly how to get there.
• And of course, the three biggest lies: I did it. I didn’t do it. I can’t remember.

The majority of lies that we find in the Bible are perpetrated by Satan. Satan spoke lie after lie to Eve and to us today:

➢ It’s all right to doubt God and what He says Genesis 3:1
94% Of America reads their Bible but 38% believes the Bible is not 100% truth
➢ Convinces us that sin doesn’t have consequences Genesis 3:4
➢ His lies make us delusional (can’t see the truth for the lie) Genesis 3:5
You Can Be like God!!!!

WHAT MUST I DO TO TRUST GOD? This is the most important issue in your life. There are other important issues, but this is the most important one. But if you miss the most important question , “Who am I going to live for?” that has eternal implications. Heaven and hell are in the balance. This is the question of purpose. You’re going to live for someone. You’re going to live for the approval of the world or the approval of your boss or the approval of a spouse or someone else or for yourself. Or you’re going to live for God who made you and made you for a reason.

You’ve got to start by committing your life to Christ. What does it mean to commit my life to Christ? Jesus made it so simple, nobody could say it was too hard to understand. He said, “Here’s what you do if you want to be saved and commit your life to Me. You first believe God raised Christ from the dead (that’s what Easter is all about) and then confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.” Circle “Lord”. The word “Lord” is an Old English word for “the guy in charge, the CEO, the boss, the manager, the director.” God wants to be the director of your life. He wants to be the manager of your life. He has a plan for it.

Every commitment that you make in your life has a cost, a price tag. It has a benefit and a cost. And you have to look at that commitment and say, “Is the benefit worth the cost?” Every time you make a keep a commitment, you’re growing mature. You’re growing character, building maturity in your life.

What’s the cost of following Christ? You give up control of your life and put Jesus Christ in charge. You say, “No longer am I going to go out for my plans but I’m going to say `God, I want to fulfill the plan You put me on earth for. I want to be the person You want me to be. I want to do the things You want me to do.” That’s the cost and it’s very clear and it’s very up front.

What’s the benefit? In the first place, you get all your sins forgiven. Second, you get power for living. Third, you get a purpose in life. Fourth, you get heaven when you die. A pretty good deal. You’ve got to settle this first issue. If you haven’t done this yet, do it today. Open your life. Say “Jesus Christ, I open my heart to You. I want to commit myself to You the rest of my life.” Do that. But that’s just the foundation. Once you’ve committed your life to Christ there is so much more that God has in store for you.

Satan’s main attack on Eve was getting her to doubt the Bible, the Word of God.
2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.” If you believe that the Bible is basically a good book, but it has errors and some of it can’t be trusted as accurate, then you’re going to have a hard time following what I’m about to say. If you doubt what the Bible says, then you doubt God. And if you doubt God then you doubt that Jesus is is Son, and if you doubt that Jesus is His Son, the you doubt that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and if you doubt that Jesus is the only way to heaven, then you doubt if you’re going to heaven, and if you doubt that you are going to heaven, guess what,you probably won’t go to heaven. Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

By Reading It Daily

By Living It Each Moment
Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

By Sharing It With Others
1 Timothy 4:13 Until I get there, read and explain the Scriptures to the church; preach God’s Word.

Science of Happiness

From Time magazine dated Janauary 17, 2005,  the cover story was titled, “The Science of Happiness.”  The article deals much with the “psychology” of happiness.  Some interesting statistics in the article report that based on their own assessment, Americans are overwhelmingly happy and optimistic people regardless of their income. The top four answers that people gave to what makes them happy were: Children/grandchildren – 35%, Family – 17%, God/faith/religion – 11%, and Spouse – 9%. One thing that struck me while reading this article is that people are trying to find happiness in every nook and corner of their lives. It seems that the majority of us are searching for happiness, the American dream. Is happiness attainable and if so how?

In John Piper’s book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy, he states, “One of the most important discoveries I have ever made is this truth: God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him.” I remember as a boy there was a spring in the woods on the property adjacent to our property.  I don’t know who, but someone had build a small concrete dam to pool the water so that it could be easily accessed. In order to get a drink of the refreshing water, you had to get on your knees and drink the water from your cupped hand. It was perhaps some of the best water I have ever drank. It brought refreshment to my body and quenched my thirst. In our underlying search for happiness, that is the premise, to have a thirst quenched.I don’t know about you, but I want to be happy.  I want my wife to be happy.  I want my daughters to be happy.

Does God want us to be happy?  Is it sinful for Christians to be happy? Sometimes it appears that the answer to that question is yes and sometimes it seems to be no. I am in the process of reading  When I Don’t Desire God: How To Fight For Joy, a book written by John Piper. I highly reccomend this book as it addresses the question of Does God want us to be happy and experience joy. Two weeks ago at a men’s retreat, I took the opportunity to share on the subject Loving God For Who He Is, in which I addressed the topics of happiness in the Lord, joy in the Lord, delight in the Lord and desire in the Lord. I shared that happiness happens when we are pursuing God. In our formative years as a believer in Christ we were taught to pursue godliness and you would find joy. We were taught to be obedient to God and His Word and someday we would experience happiness. The Bible teaches us we can be happy, joyful and delight in the Lord now, (Psalm 37:4, Psalm 100:2, Philippians 4:4, Psalm 42:1-2,  Matthew 6:21, Psalm 16:11). Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn people for longing to be happy. People are condemned for forsaking God and seeking their happiness elsewhere (Jeremiah 2:13).

In my pursuit of God, I will become more like Christ – willing to serve, longing to love, able to forgive. Those attributes that we have tried to achieve by our own effort will happen naturally, or should I say supernaturally.

In the past I have heard well intentioned people make a statement that happiness was temporary and joy was eternal.  Perhaps you have heard a variation of that statement to some degree.  The premise is that you can’t really enjoy happiness while you are here on earth, but that it is something that will be realized after this life. When we examine scriptures, there is a very strong arguement that happiness can be achieved in this life and should be pursued. I will admit that for the greater part of my life, my belief in this area has been; serve and be obedient to God and His Word, then I will have joy. Happiness is not a science, it is not an emotion, it is not a state of mind.  Happiness is found in knowing God, desiring God, delighting in God, and pursuing God.

I will be sharing more on this subject later.