WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Day I Met Jesus – 9/17/2017


There are certain things that will change the course of our lives in an instant; a marriage, the birth of our children, a near death experience, or a debilitating illness.  Then there are other things that slowly change the course of our lives such as education, community influence, social norms, and the like.  Each will drastically influence our beings and make us become what we become.

I am not devoid of such influences.  I know that I am a direct-result of the parenting that did or didn’t go into me, a product of my education and social influences, as well as a montage of messed-up ideas beat into my psyche by Hollywood and other media influences.  If I act like my parents raising me in Michigan’s thumb and being educated in a blue-collar community didn’t influence the trajectory of my life, I would be a fool.  In fact, try as I might to change it, I can’t seem to completely transition from a blue-collar mentality into a while-collar one; it’s jsut too deeply rooted into my blood.

But there was a time in my life when I was completely, and permanently, changed: the day when I met the Jesus.

When I met Jesus, I mean really met Him, I met the most kind and gentle person ever.  He is one of those people that you can’t help liking.  Just being with Him is comforting, sort of like how I felt safe knowing that nobody would get through my earthly father to cause me harm when I was a kid.  And He is gently-firm, sort of like how a dad demands a child’s best when they learn a new sport and a mother who comforts the child as they feel the pain of diligent practice.  He is also faithful, mainly faithful (possibly), sort of like how I used to come home long after a night of gluttonous intoxication and kick the dog before I passed out only to awake to find the dog snuggled close awaiting my return to sobriety.  His attributes are too many to list and will take more than the rest of life time to explore but when I met Him, really met Him, I was utterly and forever changed.

Colossians 2:9-10

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.

The day I met Jesus I learned one very important lesson: He is not really like what I had always been told that He was like.  What I appreciated most was that He was not as petty as most of the Christian people in my life were.  I know this because I learned that He is not as petty as I often am.  And this makes me happy.

Want an exercise?  Write down on a piece of paper all the attributes of Jesus as you can think of in one column, then in the next, read the Book of Colossians (Only 4 Chapters) and write down all the attributes of Jesus that the Apostle Paul attributes to Him: then compare both lists.  Odds are you will kdiscover that you have never really met Jesus before.

And when you are finished, take the time to seek Him, the Jesus that Paul introduces to you.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Watchers – 9/10/2017


Suppose, heaven forbid, that your house caught fire during the night and your children or spouse knew about it and snuck out quietly without yelling to alert everyone else in the house? 

Or suppose that your neighbor’s house was on fire and your other neighbor had the ability, but didn’t, to yell and save them from the danger of the impending flames?

Would you agree that your loved one or neighbor deserved punishment for not sounding the alarm if you or your neighbor died but could have been saved?

These scenarios might seem a little ridiculous but they are valid questions I think.  They are ridiculous because I can’t imagine anyone getting out of, or seeing, a house fire without yelling for people to get clear.  However, there are arsonists who get some weird jollies when there is fire and people are in danger.

The prophet Ezekiel was charged by God to point out the sins of the people that would bring God’s wrath upon them.  If he didn’t speak up, their blood was on his hands; he was guilty of letting them die without sounding the alarm.

Ezekiel 33:7-9

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

Today, we have preachers and prophets who sound the alarm among us, about our own sins and wrong doing which is bringing the wrath of God upon us.  We don’t like it much.  Some preachers are just over-zealous and not very nice, and sometimes we just don’t like being told that we are in the spiritual wrong. 

No matter though, if there is a Final Judgment and a Heaven and Hell to be concerned with, shouldn’t preacher and prophet alike sound the alarms so that we have a chance of being saved?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

But, But, But… – 9/3/2017


Most of us have heard the story of when God called Moses to go to Egypt to set the Israelites free from their slavery in Egypt.  If you’ll remember, the bush was on fire but did not burn up so Moses went to see the strange sight and that’s when God spoke to him.  What you may not know is that five times Moses tried to get out of it. (Read Exodus chapters 3 & 4)

In chapter 3 verse 11 Moses asked a question of God – “But who am I to go and speak?”  Fair enough, each of us understands this I think.  Because, I could be wrong, but everyone would wonder if they had the authority for such a task as to go to the Pharaoh and tell him that God said to free the Hebrew slaves.  But God assured Moses that He would be with Him all the way and enable him to do what he’s been charged to do.

Then a few verses later in verse 13 Moses questioned God again about telling the Hebrew leaders that he was going to be assuming the position of leader over the Children of Israel.  He asked God what would happen if they asked Moses what God’s name was.  And God told Moses to simply tell them that I AM who I AM has sent me.

In the first verse of chapter 4 Moses asks God a third question; “what if they don’t believe that you appeared to me?”  To this God gave Moses the signs of the staff turning into a snake, his hand becoming leprous, and his ability to turn the water from the Nile to blood.

Still not convinced God’s calling him is a good idea, Moses then tells God that he doesn’t speak well.  To this God asks Moses who was it that gave man his mouth and ability to speak in the first place.

Four times Moses questioned God about the wisdom of calling him and four times God assures him and provides him with miraculous answers so that He will be confident to move forward.  Then in chapter 4 verse 13 Moses once more tells God something.

Exodus 4:13

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

And there it was, Moses simply did not want to go so he asked to be passed over for this assignment and the response was that God’s anger burned against him.  It was as if God became frustrated with the never ending excuses…

Take a few minutes and consider if there is something that God has been calling to you about and you've been stumbling around making excuses of your own.  My guess is that there may be.

Matthew 16:24-26

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Under Dog or Mighty Mouse? – 8/20/2017


Who’s stronger?  Underdog or Mighty Mouse?  Silly question but we humans will often have conversations based on absurdities.  Especially where God is concerned.

His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power. If you choose to say “God can give a creature free-will and at the same time withhold free-will from it,” you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words
“God can”. It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains non-sense even when we talk it about God.

~ C.S. Lewis; The Problem of Pain; Chapter 2, Divine Omnipotence

C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain is a heady read.  More than once I have been forced to confer with the dictionary and read then re-read a chapter to grasp his meaning, but it’s a good read if you are so inclined.

I chose the above paragraph because I really appreciated the line that “nonsense remains non-sense even when we talk it about God.”  I appreciate it because I think that much of what is talked about is indeed non-sense.

Often people talk that since God is love, we humans should be happy.  But God’s love for us does not necessarily equate and manifest into the happiness of man; but rather the love of God manifests into what is best for us.

But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. if we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God — though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the divine life, a creaturely participation in the divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to “put on Christ”, to become like God.  That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.”

~ C.S. Lewis; The Problem of Pain; Chapter 3, Divine Goodness

Ultimately, we humans have to take time to examine what we consider happiness to actually mean.

The other day I watched an interview of Floyd Mayweather and listened to him talk about the $350,000,000 that he was going to make on the Macgregor fight.  Then the next day I heard an expose about a man from up-north Michigan who did over $100,00,000 in revenue from his tee-shirt business, and added to that was the Powerball lottery was promising $700,000,000 to the winner.  I found that I was feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with my life because I was not wealthy but then I got ahold of myself and started re-ordering my thoughts.

When I thought about it, I remembered that when I was 24 years old I was not in a position of success, but rather I was seriously in a place in my life that I figured I would be living under the board walk in Atlantic City; bankrupt and living off dropped quarters.  But now, almost 30 years later, I am married to a woman I do not deserve, I have four children that tickle me to the core, and I work as a minister doing what I know, without a doubt, that I have been created to do.  After assessing the reality of my life I know that I am certainly happy, and money really has nothing to do with it.  I am reminded about a line from the movie Cool Runnings with John Candy where he tells his athlete that if a person needs a gold medal in order to be enough, then they will never be enough when they get one.  I think that is how happiness in life is.

Ultimately, Lewis writes, humans make stuff up in our own thinking; even utter non-sense in order to explain away the realization of God in our lives.  But for those of us who actually care about Truth, we will assess the meaning that we assign to the words that we use and really grapple with how we define things.