WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Leap of Faith - 09/25/2016


James 5:13-16

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I used to seclude myself away, once a month, for an evening of fasting, study, and prayer.  It was a great practice in the time before marriage and kids.  One of these nights I was struggling with the passage above, verse 14.  I was not in a Christian tradition that called on its’ elders to pray over them and anoint people with oil.  I struggled with the directive of the Scripture and the practice of my church.  Mind you, I wasn’t bashing my church because for the life of me I could not resolve in my head the practicality of such a practice.  Personally, I would have thought it odd to do such a thing and probably felt a little awkward with such a charismatic Christian activity.

But still I struggled with it.  For hours I prayed about it and sought resolution in my mind but I could not.  Then I asked Jesus to please give me direction in this.  I sat there and did not budge for a while and God prompted me to open my bible.  I did and I opened to 2 Kings 5; I swear I’m not making this up. 

In 2 Kings 5 there is a story of a man named Naaman who was the commander of the army of a foreign king.  Naaman had the skin disease of leprosy and leprosy was destroying him.  One day, Naaman’s wife’s servant girl told him of a prophet in Israel who could heal him of his ailment.  And so He obtained permission from his King to go to Israel to seek out this prophet.  And when he got close, this is what the scriptures report.

2 Kings 5:10-14

10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.  

When I read this, I instantly realized that my issue was that of faith, of not wanting to appear silly to others, and not trusting the directions of God.  I realized that even if I cannot resolve the practicality of something in my mind that I needed to still heed and obey the call of God in my life.  

What about you, are you like me and Naaman?  Have you heard the Call of God in your own life, and not responded because you can’t make sense of it in your own mind?  Don’t try to make it make sense; faith doesn’t often compute in our humanistic brains, sometimes we need to just step out in faith.  Take a moment and watch this 2 minute video.

I believe that there is one final part to this story, and that is found in Mark 10 with a question of faith in Jesus.

Mark 10:17-22

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

There is a thousand ways to preach this message of Mark 10, but what I want to do today is point out the similarity that exists between the stories of this man and Naaman.  Each man expected something greater and grander from God, each had an expectation, and each didn’t want to look silly.  But what about you, God is calling to you and now you have to decide if you are going to respond like Naaman or like the Rich Young Ruler.

I know stepping out is difficult, but I promise you, it is worth it and it makes more sense later when the Holy Spirit of God reveals what only the Holy Spirit of God can reveal.  

I'm praying for you.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

If Truth Be Told - 09/18/2016


If truth be told, we really don’t like Jesus all that much - even us Christians.  Well, that is unless you only consider a Jesus who is your buddy, who winks at your life-style choices, and is a pansy.  The problem we have is that either we really do not know who Jesus really is OR we are lying to ourselves.

·         The Jesus who is lived a very human life of faith in a faithless world, and he called people to follow him as he led the way through it and showed them the way to God. [1]
·         The Jesus who is was brave enough to speak the truth to a people who rejected Him in order to show them the way to God. [2]
·         The Jesus who is was selfless enough to go the cross to save us from our sins and open up our way to God.[3]

Still, we don’t like the Jesus who is very much, because despite all the strength He displayed, to show us the way to God, He demands that we give up our right to ourselves and follow Him daily. (Matt. 26:21-27)[4]  And this goes against every selfish fiber of our beings.

If you don’t believe that you are a selfish bugger, you need only to get married and have children OR get cut off in traffic and feel the over reactive angst of personal offense.  But many of us will deny the truth and continue on with the image of Jesus that we have created in our minds.  I believe we naturally do this because of our inner narcissist.

But one day, if we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize that if a man actually went to the cross to pay the price of our sins, and really resurrected from the dead, we might get past our own desire to live for ourselves and repent in order to follow Him.  And that is the hard part, to lay down our lives for others just as Jesus laid down His life for us.  To call our sins “sin”, to commit spiritual suicide, and to pick up our own cross daily and follow Him, is most likely the hardest thing we will ever be called on to do, because such an act has a demand upon us that is not for our own benefit, but for the benefit the other.

And if there is the slightest chance that a dead man raised back to life after having been dead[5] for a few days, shouldn’t you at the very least consider the possibility that He is alive in the spiritual world and is calling to you?

But if truth be told, most people really don’t like the Jesus who actually is all that much.[6]

[1] http://bit.ly/1m9E1px
[2] http://bit.ly/2d8u5wd
[3] http://bit.ly/2cSBHDK
[4] http://bit.ly/2d8uRcG
[5] http://bit.ly/2cWSmCk
[6] http://bit.ly/19GDPIy

Sunday, September 11, 2016

There's No Place Like Home - 09/11/2016

Warning Preachy…

Proverbs 5:8 - “She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.

Yesterday I started taking a 3D design class with my son (9/8/16), and I learned about the 3D environment in which something is created.  In the world of the 3D object there needs to be a reference point of 0,0,0 from which to create all objects.  Without this reference point, nothing knows where it is and how to move or function: in relation to itself nor with other objects in its universe. 

Literally a few hours later I was talking to a friend, and she wondered why people chose the professions that they chose.  What was it that they liked about it, what was the attraction for them?  And then, not more than 30 minutes after that conversation, I saw a news report, from Chicago, about an old man who was watering his lawn when two men shot and robbed him.

Why do we make the choices that we make?  Why does one person choose to be a brain surgeon and another choose to shoot and rob an old man?  Why do we choose the paths that our lives take?

I believe it has to do with our individual reference points.  We all have them.  The problem is that each of has a differing starting point, each of our 0,0,0 starting points are different from one another, so we collide with each other and shake our heads in disgust by the other person’s ignorance and terrible life choices.

Is there an answer to my friend’s question about a person’s choice of vocation, or a solution for the person who considers murder and thievery as an acceptable path to walk in life?  I believe so, but it’s not easy.

My son has been playing with our 3D drafting software for months, he’s been creating drawings with many different elements and parts, but he did so not thinking about the 0,0,0 reference point that all the parts must share in order to properly function together.  How is he going to fix his drawings?  I suspect he is going to have to scrap what he has and start over, but this time rebuilding with the proper reference point of 0,0,0.

We call the scrapping of our lives being “born again”.  The apostle Paul calls it a dying to self in baptism.  No matter the semantics we use to describe it, the result is always a new starting point, and it looks like a Cross.

Luke 9:23 - Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Not Like Other People - 09/04/2016


If you are asked “What must you do to inherit eternal life?”  How would you answer?  My guess is that most of us would answer with a devout denominational answer -- or more likely, we would answer it ideologically.  
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
(Luke 10:25-28)

Did Jesus answer the question the way that you would have?  I am taken that Jesus could have given any answer that he wanted to, but he simply said “love God and love your neighbor.”  That’s it!  We humans have this terrible way of adding hoops to be jumped through into the equation, but Jesus, he just said to love God and love our neighbor.

And as simple as these words are, I think they are the most difficult for humans to actually do.  The phrase components are inseparable.  It is impossible to love God but not our neighbor.  John says that “if you say that you love God but hate your brother you are a liar.” (1 John 4:20)  

Instead of using the simple language of Jesus we Christians are great at complicating the faith by adding a bunch of different hoops to be leaped through.

I could go on about this passage for a while but I want to use it as a set-up for another passage.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

(Luke 18:9-14)

Notice that this parable is told to the person who was “confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.”  Realize that this person does not love God nor his neighbor, but rather he is depending on his own righteousness.  He’s glad he’s not like other people – those robbers, evil doers, adulterers, and tax collectors.  Nope, he’s a good person, he fasts and he gives money, he’s the type of person God wants.  And yet, it was the tax collector who humbly stood in fear of God and begged forgiveness because he knew his own sinfulness.  It was he who was justified in the sight of Jesus.

I find this passage very convicting as I am prone to trust in my own goodness and forget that the only reason I am seen by God as righteous is because of the blood of Jesus which covers me.  I bet you are like me, I’ll wager that many of us tend to see clearly the sawdust in the other person’s eye while never noticing the plank in our own.  

If you are like me, I want to encourage you that there is someone who can get us both through.  Meet me at the Cross of Jesus, we can get on our knees together and ask Jesus to forgive us and get us through.  And you know what?  He will and He does.  I go there often, why don’t you join me?