Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Narrow

NARROW

Matthew 7:13-14(NIV)

    13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Narrow.  It can be a good thing or a bad thing.   Good when talking about your waist line and bad when talking about your mind.  Good when talking about the way to Jesus and bad when talking about attitude.

I remember an old saying that say's, "Your mind is so narrow you can see through a key hole", which is pretty narrow!  Meaning that a person isn't willing to think outside their own box, or willing to be open to others opinions only their own.  Not a good way to live or make or keep friends in my opinion.

In church circles we like to throw around titles like "Liberal" or "Conservative" or "progressive" or "legalstic", and I don't like labels and don't think God does either.  Those labels are man made and not always accurate. 

A narrow-mind is never a good thing, because you are limiting yourself and isolating yourself from common sense, reality, or even actual truth, whether it's in christian circles, politics, careers, even relationships.

God gave us a pretty big mind and the freedom to use it and exercise it, why we limit it I'll never  understand?  We get hung up on things that don't matter and make them matter.  We get focused in on our own opinions and try and make them everyone's.  We can manipulate the Bible or other's words to make them say or mean what we want so they agree with us.  Which is not healthy or right.

When it comes to God, we need to take Him and His word and mold ourselves around Him, not vice versa.  When it comes to others, we need to learn to agree to disagree, be big enough to accept the fact that sometimes we are wrong, don't know, or someone else knows more than us.  We need to open up our minds and realize we don't have all the answers and we can't always be right.

When I talk about moving from a narrow-mind to being more open-minded, please use common sense. I am not talking about anything goes, accept and agree with everyone, and not have your own opinions, but we need to stop living in fear or dominating and trying to control others who don't agree with us because we are insecure.  We put God in a box and make being a christian so difficult that it becomes a list of do's and don't instead of an actual relationship.

We can also be so narrow-minded when it comes to politics, our area of expertise, our intersts, etc...that we make it hard for people to want to talk to us or be around us.

My advice? Take a chill pill.  Loosen up.  Stop making your mind, your life, your opinions, and your thinking so small and narrow, that's a small place to live when we have to control or worry about every little thing. 

Following God is serious business.  His Word is no joke, but sometimes we make things so complicated when we care more about keeping our opinions, our  traditions, our ways, or things so narrow, that being a christian becomes so rigid and narrow, that it becomes an obligation and not a relationship, like Jesus intended it to be.   The way to Jesus is narrow, only through Him, however the methods people worship Him, relate to Him, and serve Him are not to be narrow or rigid.  Jesus gives us freedom and freed us from slavery and a narrow-mind is a form of slavery.  The way is narrow, He didn't mean our minds.

Whether it's your faith, relationships, hobbies, politics, or whatever, learn to open your mind God gave you and think with common sense, truth, and being realistic.

Luke 24:45(NIV)
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Always someone else

Always Someone Else

No matter how bad we seem to have it, feel like our life is, or how awful we feel our circumstances are, we have to remind ourselves someone else out there always has it as bad or worse. We are not alone.

Just like with the holidays, though many are excited and looking forward to the holidays, many more dread the holiday season because maybe it reminds them of loss? regret? loneliness?  You know what it's like when you are sad or depressed or angry and people all around you are happy, makes you wanna punch 'em in the gut lol. 

Anyway, I'm not trying to ruin anyone's holiday cheer, I just want you to think about somone else besides yourself.  If you are happy consider those who are not and reach out to them or pray for them..  If you aren't happy, keep in mind others are worse off than you and maybe that will make you focus and appreciate the things you do have to be happy about.  Either way, the focus needs to be taken off oursleves so much.

Really if you think about it, Christmas is really about the most unselfish person ever, Jesus.  He willingly gave up His home in Heaven, perfection, holiness, and turned it in, to be born a human in an old stable, knowing that His future was to be one of torture, death, and hell.  Jesus wasn't thinking of Himself when he was born, and definitely not of Himself, when He went to the cross.  He wasn't being arrogant and saying I'm the son of God I have a right to boast, nor was He feeling sorry for all the pain He was going to endure for you and me.

Jesus really is the  ultimate example of thing about others and how important it is for us to have an unselfish attitude, especially around the holidays.  We need to care about ourselves, take care of ourselves, and spend some time working on ourselves, but our attitude should be one of gratitude, appreciation, and adoration to God for all His blessings, even despite whatever circumstances we may be facing.  But, also our attitude must still be one of thankfulness especially if we are suffering or going through a hard time, because we will need God to get through it no matter the circumstance.

I just hope we all can think about someone else this Christmas.  First, Jesus, and secondly those less fortunate or those we know have a hard time during the holidays or have needs.

Merry Christmas!

Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shepherds

Shepherds

I don't think it was a coincidence that God chose Shepherds to come and find newborn baby Jesus the Messiah in a manger.  Afterall,  He is the good Shepherd and Jesus was the lamb that was sent to be sacrificed for our sins. 

These common, hard-working people had a thankless job of tending the sheep, leading them, guiding them, protecting them, and caring for them.  It's sort of what God does for us.   I've been told sheep are some of the dumbest animals in the world, they are hard-headed and stubborn, well I think it's a good comparison, because I know I at times, we are all dumb, stubborn, and hard-headed.  We are also easily led astray, vulnerable to attacks (sheep wolves and other predators, us satan, though he is also compared to a wolf in sheep's clothing as well).

The point is we need guidance.  We need accountability and leadership in our lives.  If not, we are prone to get lost, fall and get hurt, or even put ourselves in danger from temptations, addictions, struggles, and problems.   As churches, we need leaders to lead our churches.  Most churches have problems because they do no have adequate Shepherds(also called Elders, Overseers, and Pastors) to lead and guide the flock(God's church).  When you have no leadership you have chaos, one or two trying to dominate or be controlling, and you certainly have many different individual groups trying to "run" the church, but they are just "running" it in the ground" and "running" members and potential members away.

We need a Shepherd.  We need a God to guide us, lead us, and protect us. If we accept this lamb of God(Jesus), He gives us His Spirit to dwell in us and act as a guide.  We can call on the Good Shepherd anytime in prayer for help, comfort, strength, wisdom, courage, power, and direction.

You cannot go through life with no leadership?  You will spend 40 years doing circles in the desert like the Israelites did in the Old Testament because they refused to follow God.

As the Christmas season and story is around you and you hear about Shepherds. I want you to think about the importance of having a Shepherd in your life,  maybe that's what's  missing?  As a church member or a Christian I want you to think about the Shepherds in your church.  I want to encourage you to support them, pray for them, follow them, and allow them to lead.  If you church doesn't have Shepherds like the situation I am in, turn to the Bible and see what the Bible says about leadership and get some Shepherds in your church so that your church will be biblical, healthy, and function as it should with God as the ultimate shepherd.

We all need leadership in our lives:

As Individuals we need God:
 John 10:11(NIV)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep

As a church we need Godly men to lead us:
1 Peter 5:2(NIV)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Bible

The Bible

Psalm 119:8(NIV)
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sing against you."

Psalm 119:133(NIV)
"Diret my footsteps according to your word."

The Bible is the WORD of God.  (John 1) in John He tells us that Jesus is the WORD and the Word became flesh.  The Bible is holy scripture.  For the Christian it should be a map, a guide, a GPS, and an instruction or lesson book..  The Bible is all sorts of things.

Though many want to argue about verions/translations of the Bible, they end up missing the point or the intent of  Holy scriptures.  Though I don't agree all translations/versions are good or accurate, I also from in depth study on my own conclude that not all are bad and certainly not trying to point people away from God or mislead people from God's truth.  I think most scholars wanted to make the bible as accurate as possible and as close to the original manuscripts as possible, but that's another subject.  Either way,  we must use common sense and wisdom to understand the point of the Bible is to help us know God and His plan for us.  Use a tranlation that you are comfortable with or your church uses.

However, the point being today is that as a Christian you cannot grow without actively reading and studying the Bible.  You cannot claim to know God or have a healthy relationship with Him if you are never spending anytime with Him in His Word.  It's like people who try to bake without a recipe or people who try to put together equipment and furniture without reading the instructions. It's like saying you are best friends with someone, but never talking to them or getting to know them.

We need God's word.  The Bible teaches us about the gospel message of Jesus.  It teaches us about the character and person of God.  It serves to guide, equip, instruct, teach, edify, encourage, convict, challenge, motivate, etc...pick an adjective, the Bible is there to reveal many things to us. 

No matter how old you are, how long you've been a christian, and even those of us who are leaders, pastors, teachers, etc..in church, no one has arrived when it comes to reading and studying the Bible.  There is always something to learn, and some insight, understanding, or wisdom we can gain.  We will always need instruction, correction, and growth as long as we live on this earth.  We need God's word.

We need to develop a reading plan, get a study Bible or devotional t helps us read and study the Bible.  We need to get involved in a Bible study at work, home, at church, or a small group.   No one can ever say I get too much Bible. 

God did not inspire this Book of His Word to go to waste, lay on a coffee table, book shelf, or in night stand.  It is meant to be read, studied, appreciated, and shared.  Take time to read your Bible. Find ways to be creative and manage your time better and make room for reading and study of God's Word.  It could change your life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mouth

Mouth
James 3:1-8(NIV)
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

When some people get angry, the curse, others blame others.  When some people get mad they run and hide or walk away.  Others rant and rave and run their mouths and spill out a vomit of angry words.  People react to anger or being upset in different ways.  Some bottle it in until they explode, while others are set off by the slightest things.

I struggle with my tongue. What about you?  I'm not talking about cursing, though some of you may struggle with that, even if you are a Christian or even in ministry. Some struggle with cussing when they become angry. Some don't struggle with cursing at all, it's part of their vocabulary and normal to them. They curse in front of their kids, in public, at work, it doesn't matter, and they don't even have to be angry. But, some do lose their temper and curse.

I don't struggle with cursing as much as I struggle with angry words. You don't need to curse to be mean, ugly, harmful, or cause pain.  Growing up I was a people pleaser, but as I got older, especially into my adult life and the military, I left my people pleasing ways and began to speak up and speak out when I didn't like something, didn't approve, or had an opinion.  I pride myself today on being very vocal, direct, and saying and meaning what I think. 

Though I believe being blunt and direct is a good thing and people need to have more backbone and self-respect and speak up when it's appropriate, bring direct is just like anything else in life, if not done in balance it can be a negative.  Some people say things and do not think about how it makes others feel, have no filter, and say things that can be mean and hurtful and out of place and yet they think they are doing the world a service.  I unfortuneatly can fall under this category.  There are times my emotions and feelings get out of balance and I say things I regret later, or spew things out of my mouth like hot lava and though it is not my intent to hurt feelings or upset people, it doesn't prevent it from happening.

The tongue is a hard thing to tame. Whether it's gossip, talking bad about others, complaining, being a foul mouth, or saying whatever you want when you feel like it or get mad. As James writes about a horse or a boat, such a small thing controls such a big animal or ship and the human tongue is the same way.  The tongue is hard to tame.

I want to encourage you today that you are not alone.  I too struggle with my  big mouth.  Even at appropriate times like yelling at the kids for bad behavior, or standing up for a worthy cause, or disagreeing over something important, we still must all learn to control the words that come out of our mouths.

Paul Reminds us in scripture (Eph 4:26) in our anger do not sin, implying we are going to get angry, but in that anger, we must not allow it to separate us from God. 

Our mouths gets us in trouble alot don't they?  At work? At home? With parents?  With children? With Siblings?  With spouses? With Churches?  I don't know, but if you are constantly getting in trouble or having drama or issues because of your mouth, then work on changing the pattern.  I can tell you from personal experience as soon as I think I am making progress or doing better, I slip.  We must keep our focus on God and His Holy Spirit. He is our guide, our strength, our wisdom, and our overcomer!






Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful

Being Thankful

Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Being thankful is not and sholud not be just for one week or one day a year at Thanksgiving.  Now having a holiday to celerate "Thanksgiving" is a great idea and tradition, but being thankful is really more of an attitude or lifestyle.

People who have a thankful attitude and are thankful on a daily basis as part of their daily lives are less negative and more positive.  They're more optimistic and less pessimistic. They're more content and less complaining people.  They're practice great good instead of griping about everything.  Thankful people have a tendency to be peacemakers and get along with people as opposed to always "having drama" or not getting along with others.   They're more accepting of people and open-minded to change, instead of being a gossip, or trouble-maker, or always making issues about something they don't agree with.

Most of all being thankful is having a heart for God and an attitude that shows Him glory.  When we are thankful and appreciative of WHO God is and WHAT He as done for us, it seems to make other areas of our lives make more sense and give us more thankful attitude.

God wants us to be thankful. He wants us to appreciate Him, our blessings, our gifts, and our relationships.  We are blessed people.  Whether poor or rich, popular or unknown by the world's standards, we are rich in God's love and popular because the creator of this world knows us by name.

Start looking around your lives.  Don't focus on what you don't have, take inventory of what you do have.   Don't focus on how your life would be different if circumstances would change, focus on how your circumstances might change if you  were different? 

We all have bad days, we don't always agree with others, changes, or have control of things that happen in our lives, but no matter our circumstances, problems, even tragedies,  God is still God and is in control.  Even at facing anger, hurt, pain, suffering, and death we have so much to be thankful for.

When you have a thankful heart and attitude you can't help but have joy, and want to share it with others.  Take time to Thank God everyday for everything.  Ask Him to give you a thankful heart and attitude if you struggle with being thankful. 

Also, take time to show others your thankful..  Thank those who care for you, provide for you, who are a blessing to you, or who you appreciate in your lives.  Spouses, childern, parents, employers, friends, those you date, teachers, pastors, even those who wait on you at a restaurant or check-out at the store.  Being thankful is contagious, pass it on and pay it forward.

Be Thankful!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hardest Person to Forgive

Hardest Person to Forgive

Yourself!  That's right, I think the hardest person to forgive in any situation is yourself, when we screw up, mess up, or do or say something we regret.  Most of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we do others, so when it comes to forgiveness, it's very difficult for many to forgive themselves and move on and heal.

I look back on my past; things I have said, did, and thoughts I regret.  I wish I could take them back.  I know I have did things to hurt people, disappoint people, and change their opinion of me in my lifetime.  I know there have been people in my life who have hurt me, disappointed me, and my opinion of them changed, but I have found it easier to forgive them (though sometimes it took some time), but again even when it takes time to forgive others, its usually because we are stubborn or holding on to something.

We have to live with ourselves.  We have to think, rethink, ponder, dwell, and live with the choices, decisions, and mistakes we've made, and because of that we sometimes have a hard time letting go of the past, the shame, the pain, regret, or other emotions.

The key to forgiveness as a whole has always been the concept that forgiveness is not about the person that offended you, as much as it is about you, releasing them from the offense.  But, the struggle with forgiving others is the releasing part, we feel if we forgive them, we are letting them off the hook or letting them get away with the hurt/anger they caused us, but that is only part of the issue, you may be releasing them, but they are still on the hook to God, especially if they won't admit their wrong or mistake,  and sadly some never own up or accept responsiblity for their actions.  Not our problem, it's God's.

However, when forgiving ourselves, it's another level, because we have to look at ourselves in the mirror everyday unless you avoid it.  You cannot shut of your mind/memory of the things you are angry at yourself about.  The key is learning to overcome your thoughts, which is the hard part.

Satan is the king of reminders.  He loves to remind us of our sin, our shame, our mistakes, and our wrong doings.  He wants us to dwell, stay, and wallow if our pity and sorrow. As long as we do that, we don't allow God to work or have power in our lives.

I don't care what you've said or done or thought you've done, we all must learn to allow God to forgive us and forgive ourselves. If we do not forgive ourselves, are you really allowing God to forgive you?  When you keep asking God to forgive you over and over about the same thing, are you forgetting Jesus died ONCE and for ALL for our sins, and asking for forgiveness once is enough?  By repeating our request to God, we are acting as if He's not forgave us, doesn't have the power to forgive us, and that if we keep asking, it will make us feel better, which is what it's all about anyway. We are being selfish to keep asking God to forgive us over and over.

We need to ask for forgiveness once and accept it.  Leave it there with God. Sure we may be tempted to dwell on it, but the more we focus on God the less we will focus on our sin or mistake. We may never forget what happened or what we done, but we can give it less attention over time.  Though sometimes we may be reminded of our past sins, mistakes, or things we'd soon forget, those reminders in some ways are a good thing. They remind us of where we were one time and where we are now.  They also remind us that we serve a God who loves us unconditionally and that He wiped away our sins and whatever we do wrong, if we ask sincerely and accept responsibilty for our actions, He forgives us and even though there may be consequences, we accept them, deal with it, heal, and move on.  No matter the offense.

I often wonder if could do anything what i'd do? My first thought is to go back into my  past and correct some mistakes, but reality is I can't. I wish I could. I'd do anything to change some circumstnces, avoid some hurt, and keep from hurting or dissapointing others, but I can't. What I can do is learn from my past so i don't repeat the same mistakes. I can allow God to forgive and discipline me, so I am stronger and better off.  And I can keep growing in my walk with God so that I He can use me for His glory and so I can continue to honor Him.

Forgive yourself today. Allow God to forgive you once and for all.  Deal. Heal, Move on.

Philippians 3:13b(NIV) "But one thing I do know:  forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead."

Psalm 19:12b(NIV) "Forgive my hidden faults."

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

EGO

EGO"Letgo my eggo!"  we've heard that commercial about eggo waffles, but really we need to "letgo ourego!"
We all have ego's, check your pulse, if you got one, you got an ego, but just like anything else, if you let your ego get out of control it's going to control you and guide you and not in a positive way.

Dictionary.com defines ego as: the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.

I know there are those out there that have little ego's, or low self-esteem, yet ego, is something we all must deal with, especially if we want to grow and be effective in our christian faith.  There is no room for ego in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Scripture teaches us (Gal. 6:14) that the only boasting we are to do is in Jesus Christ.

Church is just like any other organization(school, work, sports teams, social groups, etc...) people want to be in the limelight, get the credit, and have there ego's stroked!  That's not saying there aren't people serving in sincerity, there are, but yes, even in churches, yes even preachers, leaders, etc...some are doing it for the wrong reasons to get glory, to be seen, to feel important, and though it's in the church, everything we say, do, and whatever capacity we serve in, it HAS TO BE for God's Glory, to  in worship Him, and to honor Him or it's in vain and we've missed the point of serving/leading.

We all need encouragement, we all need someone to notice us from time to time, and we all need the human touch factor. We are relational beings and were created for relationships.  However, whether we are preaching, singing, teacher, serving, leading, or whatever the capacity we are serving in, our ultimate motive should be to please God, be used by Him, and Him to get the credit, & the glory.

If you do something for God and you get mad no one notices, or you have to go around constantly remiding people what you did or are doing, chances are great your doing it for you and not Him.  If you get a high from singing or preaching on the stage and like the attention to the ponit where your head is bigger than the door you entered through chances are your using your gifts for your ego and not His kingdom!

There is a fine line between humility and pride. We must always pay attention to our motives, our attitude, and or intentions, or Satan can easily convince us its about us and not Him. If you know the story of Satan, you know He felt the same way.  He got tired of God getting the praise and glory and He wanted it for himself, so then Lucifer the angel rebelled and was kicked out of heaven along with many angels because their ego took on a life of it's own.

God gifts us in many ways. Some of us it's singing, some it's preaching, some it's teaching, some it's leading,  and others it's serving or encouraging. No matter the gifts, God gave us those gifts to use for Him, not ourselves.

You may get pats on the back, you may get the praise of men, even make a good living in the service of God, but if He is not the motivation, the reason, and the one who you seek to give the credit, then you have recieved your reward in full.

If God gifted you to preach, then preach, but don't preach because you are insecure, selfish, or power hungry.  Preach because people need to hear the Word and God called you. If you have the talent of singing, then sing your heart out for Jesus, don't sing to hear your own voice, or because you like the stage, the lights, and the attention music brings.  If you are gifted to lead, lead because God called you to lead,  not because you like the title or power or control.  If you teach or work with the kids/youth, do it because God desires you to teach people and influence them for you, not because you like feeling important to those listening!

Ego is tempting, but like the bible says, we can overcome any temptation with God.  Don't let you ego get the best of you.  Do it for God or not at all.  Keep yourslelf in check, help people keep you accountable, and do Let go of your Ego!

Philippians 2:3-4(NIV)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Essentials vs. Non-essentials

Essentials vs. non-essentials

Essential:  Necessary; indispensable; vital; critical; required
Non-essential:  Not necessary, despensable; not vital; not critical; .not required.

Pretty basic defintions of the word essential and non-essential.  However, when it comes to christianity, our faith, God, the Bible, basic beliefs and doctrines of our faith, etc...those words get clouded, confused, and boundaries are crossed. I want to keep this simple today. The problem we make God, salvation, and being a Christian so complicated because we are worried we'll go to hell, sin, or not look smart or something, I don't know?

What I do know is that we make being a Christian, going to church, and serving the Lord a lot more complicated than it has to be and I believe not at all what God desired or intended for His people or His church.

The simpliest of examples is for us to go back in the Bible to Acts 2:42-47, the church in it's infancy gives a basic example of what the church is supposed to look likeand how Christians are supposed to be.   Devotion to teaching, devotion to fellowship, breaking of bread(eating together), praying, filled with awe, miraculous signs and wonders being done.  Everyone(i.e. the church/christians) had everything in common. They were generous selling things and giving to everyone who had a need.  They met daily and had each other in their homes to fellowship/eat, they were glad and sincere, they praised God and enjoyed each other.  The Lord blessed them and people were saved daily!

Does that sound like a church you'd like to be in?  I sure would!  Does that sound like the type of Christian you'd like to be?  I sure would too.  But, through the years we have allowed Satan into our lives, and our churches and he has manipulated us, tricked us, and led us astray.  We think we are doing God a favor by being so dogmatic and harsh,but really we are helping satan.  Satan is the enemey and He's using you who act this way, not the things we think are the enemy.(Get out our list, bible versions, church music, salvation process, eternity beliefs, spiritual gifts, etc).  Not even drugs, or alcohol abuse, or sexual sins hurt the church as much as legalisitic/narrow-minded bigoted christians.  We preach, protest, holler, and condemn everything that isn't the old ways, old paths, the old time religions, like papaw used to say, or not the way I was taught or raised, yet satan thrives on this division I believe in all my heart.  Nothing hurts the church or spreading of the gospel or people staying in church more than this type of attitude, the narrow-minded, legalistic, and hateful spewing that tryies to make non-essentials into essentials.  

Think about it.  Some preachers preach the same things every weeks, they say it 100 different ways, but it's the same message with their personal agenda or issue they are "passionate" about.  How many churches spend most of their time against something or tearing down other christians or churches with their personal crusades and messages, instead of sharing the love of God through Jesus in the Bible or other biblical topics?  How many christians and churches are more known for WHAT THEY ARE AGAINST INSTEAD OF WHAT THEY ARE FOR?

Whether it's ignorance, the way we were taugh, raised or mentored, or whether its something personal to us, we cannot truly reach a lost and dying world with the message of Jesus with hate, pride, arrrogance, ignorance, hypocracy, manipulation, or stupidity.  Too many preachers, churches, christians, publications, etc.. are doing this in the name of God and they are hurting more than helping!  (again I am promoting common sense and spiritual guidance, not anything goes and is ok!)

These people promote with pride their "essentials" to salvation, but they decided what were essentials, not God.  Take whatever issue you like there are many.  Some say you can only use ONE version of the bible and all other translations are not-inspired and even some go as far to say they are a sin or won't accept you as a Christian if you don't agree with them.  Some say you can only sing one type of worship music.  If you use any other music, it's a sing, it's of the devil.  Some say you can't use any music at all, one can only use an organ or a piano, no drums or guitars, those are an abomination. Other say only a few are predestined to be saved, or others once your saved your always saved While others say you gotta speak in tongues, or others you don't have to be baptized and others baptism is all that matters.  We are picking and choosing what we want and screwing it all up with all these different beliefs, but we cross a line when we make certain things essential that the Bible does not back up.

The Bible and guidance of God's Holy Spirit is what helps us interpret Scripture and God's will for us as to what is essential or non-essential to our salvation and that is the biggest question.  Is this topic, issue, or believe essentail to me being saved, or is it a non-essentail item?   I think where God speaks in scripture directly and with clarity, we obey whether we like it or agree with it or not.  However, we must be careful to pull out certain scriptures and take them out of context or misuse them in order to get them to say what we believe.  Christianity is the opposite, we shoud read scripture and mold our lives around it and do what it says.  It's hard for some people to accept, but not all things are wrong or sinful.  I think scripture is very clear on that(READ Romans).  We want to make issues out of things God never intended to be divisive issues and certainly not us going around saying we are christians and others are not because they don't worship or teach or believe everything we do.

I think for some it comes down to fear.  Some are afraid if you change anything, you might end up compromisng God's word or truth. For some it's simply comfort and enjoyment.  Others its just spiritual habit, some  it was way they were raised and I'm sure reasons are as many as the issues/topics we can choose to divide/aruge over.

My point today is there are essentials to our salvation.  Jesus is the ONLY way to God (John 14:6), no other person, religion, denomination, or doctrine is going to save you or get you to heaven, only through the blood of Jesus.  Another essenatial, Jesus was born of a virgin, lived, died, and raised from the dead to be our sacrifice for sin, death, and hell.   Another essential, the bible is the inspired word of God.   Essentials.  These are just a few, but wanted to give you some examples of what is essential beliefs to your salvation.

Non-essentials:  translation of the Bible.  Sure not all translations/versions are good, but use some common sense, but I believe most scholars who translated the Bible from original manuscripts were trying to make studying/reading the bible better, and if we believe the Bible is our guide, scriptuer does not tell us there is only one translation we have to use.  saying all but one is "inspired" is ignorance. It's  Non-essential.  Worship music.  Music is styles, genre's, and in taste of the listenter.  The key in worship music is to be sincere and worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  Jesus looks at our heart, not our voice, not the instruments, and certainly not the style/genre of our choosing.

Non-essentail, church denominations.  These should have never been started,  God established THE CHURCH(Acts 2) not denominations, that mostly started because people can't get along, have different views, can't agree to disagree, have agendas, etc...God never intended the 30K plus denominations out there.  What is essentials is Love God, Love your neighbor(everyone).

We need to stop putting God in a box and making our christianity a religion and making our faith a narrow legalistic set of rigid rules that people have to agree with or be shunned.  Many churches and christians today have become modern day  Pharisees and teachers of the law, they worship rules/laws over truth.  They like the comfort of religion and not the freedom of relationship.

Jesus is relationship not religion.  He wants us to stand for truth, but enjoy the freedom we have in Him. Not everything we say or do is going to send us to hell or is committing a sin.  We have got to start using some common sense and realize that we have the scriptures for a reason to guide us, to teach us, and to help us. We are to be the church, christians, worship God, serve God, and spread the gospel.  We need to realize that every church and christian doesn't have to look alike. We can be ONE as HE is ONE without making everything a sin or wrong.  We can get out of our boxes, we can open our narrow minds up, we can share the truth of ONE way to Jesus in MANY ways. We can preach and teach the SAME message in a variety of methods and forms to reach various audiences, cultures, and peoples.

We all need to spend some time with God in prayer and studying His word and decide before we argue, condemn others, or die on that hill, is this really essential or is this a non-essential i've been making an essential.  The easiest way I can say it is we can sit around and worry about when to pass the offerings in church services, whether someone dresses up for church, or sings an upbeat song, or we can be more concerned about lost souls and people dying everyday going to hell.  I think when we compare unsaved people to our agendas, it's no contest, our opionions/beliefs/agendas pail in comparison to what's really important, people knowing Jesus and growing in Jesus.  That is essential!

I leave you with the words of Titus, you may want to go read Titus 3, but his advice is good reminder to us about being divisive and wasting our time on things that don't matter!

Titus 3:5b-11(NIV)

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Thanks!

No Thanks!

Have you ever been somewhere to buy something and the salesperson was grouchy or unfriendly? What about rude and obnoxious?  What about arrogant and a know-it-all? Makes you want to rush to buy something from them doesn't it? NOT!  No Thanks!  I am not going to buy something from someone who acts like any of these traits, but the funny thing is many preachers, churches,and christians act like this and then wonder why no one wants what they offering?

You can't share Christ or influence people they need Jesus if you are constantly grouchy and unfriendly. You aren't going to win people to Christ or get them to become a Christian if you are rude or obnoxious about it. And you aren't going to lead people to Jesus or get people to come to church(or come back if you do get them there) if you are arrogant and have a know-it-all atttitude.

This doesn't work selling cars, appliances, or houses, and it definately isn't going to work trying to share the good news of Jesus with people. I'm not making excuses for people. There are people out there who do not go to church or will not become Christians and they have no good reasons, only selfish excuses, "church is boring", "it's full of hypocrits", "and I've done too much wrong", etc....excuses are endless, but at the same time there is NO EXCUSE for pastors, church leaders, church members, or christians to hurt the church or the cause of Christ, because they have a personal agenda, a narrow-mind, a legalistic attitude, or won't deal with their hard heads or hearts.  

Everyone can be grouchy or unfriendly sometimes or be moody, but when you are that way more than you are friendly or nice,  you obviously have issues you are not dealing with or being convicted of in your life. There is also NEVER a good reason to be rude or obnoxious when talking about God, but many christians and sadly pastors, thrive on this!  They think they are smarter, and doing God a favor, but really they are scared or insecure, they are so afraid they are going to be proven wrong or not be right, that they'd rather put you down, be judgemental,and argue than listen to you, think things through, and act like Jesus.  Jesus was Never rude or obnoxious, he was firm when he needed to be, appropriate with his anger, and kept his emotions in check.

Also, being arrogant or cocky is the opposite of Christ, yet many christians and preachers act this way. They almost gloat that they are smarter, know more, and "are saved" and you're  not.  And I don't care how much you know or think you know, NO ONE "knows-it-all" except God!  Nothing to me is a bigger turn off than a christian, a preacher, or a church where everyone is pushy, arrogant, and you can't talk to them or discuss anything, because they "already know", sad.   (I don't know it all or  my blogs would be a lot better, ha!) No thanks. I don't want what they are selling.

We have to keep in mind, that some people have learned the wrong way how to invite people to church or to evangelize the lost.  We have to keep in mind some preachers, were trained in ignornance and are simply mimicing the way they have been taught, and therefore they aren't afforded an open-mind, to think for themselves, and realize that though there are many commands in the Bible, there is also freedom and not everything is a sin, wrong, abominination, or sending you to Hell.  Yes, only one way to God through Jesus and only one Message(gospel), but many ways and methods to get to Jesus or grow in your faith.  This type of behavior is not conservative or keeping on the "old" ways or "old" path, it's serving and speaking out of fear or ignorance. When all you say, or preach, or talk about is what is negative, wrong, a sin,  or people have to agree with you or everything has to be  a certain way for you to accept someone, then to me that's a sign you are on the wrong path, being legalistic, and sort of like the pharisees in Jesus day, they missed Jesus because they were too busy with their own agenda.

People, we need to realize when we preach, wear the name Christian, or call ourselves a member of a church, that WE represent Jesus.  Whether its' fair on not, when people see us, they should see Jesus and if they see a grouch, a gossip, a punk, a jerk, arrogance, judgemental, ignorant, and conceited, that is how they are going to view God, because they don't know Him yet.   I'm not saying we have to be perfect,  but what I'm saying is we need to be sincere, honest, and transparent.  We need to strive and pursue a right relationship with God, which includes constantly evaluating our actions and attitudes.

Take a good look at yourself, would you want to go to church or become a christian if someone just like you acted came and invited you to church or tried to tell you what you needed to do to become a Christian?  Would you make  sell for Jesus or would you say "no Thanks", I don't want what they are selling look at how they act? Something for us all to think about!  We want to be like Christ and we want to share Christ!

2 Corinthians 12:20(NIV)

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

(here it is in KJV incase you don't accept the NIV)
20For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

Love people the way God loves us all, and share Jesus with Love, people will want that!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's all about Team

It's All About Team

The old saying goes "There's no I in  Team", which is true, but there is a M and an E, which is Me, which is the same thing.  A successful and great team, can't be about one individual, about one person getting all the credit, the limelight, and accolades.  Truly successful and great teams, though they may have some great individual performances or players, still trace their success back to teamwork, unity, good chemistry, and not caring who gets the credit as long as they win.

Teams work to win championships, titles, and trophies.  Teams are no different than businesses or churches. They are a group of people working toward a common goal.  In a business it may be to make money, expand or grow the company.  In churches our goal (should be anyway) to Glorify, Honor, and Worship God.   Church is a body of people who make up members of that body with Christ as the head, and the church does not exist for one person to get all the credit, accolades, attention, or glory, only Christ. 

If Christ is not the center of attention, then you have the wrong motives, the wront attitude, and have a personal agenda other than that of Christ. Sure, people say and do things "in the name of Jesus",but we forget that God "knows all" and He knows our heart, our motives and our agenda.  Some Preachers Preach because if they were brutallty honest, they like the attention, credit, and strokes to their ego.  Some people serve in  church in leadership, leading the worship, or heading up a committee because they like feeling important, being in charge, or control.

None of those things benefit God or help the body or glorify Christ.  Just like we've seen in sports over and over, when you got one person who cares more about self than the team, the team is seldom successful, can't win, and ends up causeing alot of turmoil in the locker room and slowly unravels the team.

We cannot preach, lead, serve, sing, or use our gifts for God if He's not the center, core, or sole  motivation for doing so.  Many people are indeed "called", but they eventually stopped listening to God or doing it for God for various reasons and started marching to the beat of their own drum or sound of their own horn.

How many athletes became stars and in the process got lost in the lights, glitz, greed, money, and glamour. They started playing as kids for fun and being a part of a team with their friends and over time, their attitude, motives, and ego become corrupt and pretty soon, attitudes shift to "what about me",  "I deserve more", and "I'm special", and "It's all about me".

Happens in pulpits, in sanctuaries, in ministry, and in churches.  We like the limelight, the attention, the pats on the back, and the credit, and pretty soon we start feeling like we deserve it, we are owed it, and we want more.  There is no glory for God in that.  If you don't sing, serve, preach , teach, lead, and worship for God's glory and credit, than it's empty words, wasted time, and hurts the body(team) of Christ.  I don't care what your motive or agenda is, if it's not Christ, it's wrong period. 

We need to check our ego's at the door.  We need to constantly be evaluating our attitudes and motives with prayer, God's word, and even accountability by trusted peers/mentors.   Why do you preach? Why do you serve? Why do you lead? Why do you do what you do? Is it for God or for you?  Are you worried more about getting credit or giving God credit?  Do you want to build the church, reach the lost, or help people for your own selfish agenda, or do you truly do it for the cause of Christ?

We are the last ones to notice our faults usually because we are in denial or unwilling to be honest with ourselves, but if you don't the team(church) is going to suffer. Most of all at some point it will backfire and blow up in your face.  Just like athletes who are selfish and greedy with big ego's, they lose contracts, friends, fans, and teams no longer want them, even though they are talented,  because not worth the hassle or drama that accompanies them.  The greatest athletes are those that give their teamates the credit.

A preacher can be the most gifted speaker or evangelist, yet His ego holds him back.  You can be the most gifted teacher/singer, but your motivation is you, and your talent is wasted, you can be the greatest leader, but you're selfish agenda causes constant turmoil and problems(and you think everyone else  has the problem).

Let's all be a team player, let's all contibute and do our part for the good of the team.   Even though I Pastor a church, this church is not about it, nor will it be successful solely based on me. I am just one person and my role is to pastor, but everyone here who serves and gives is just as important as me.  Sure we all like a kind word, encouragement, and a someone to notice our hard work, but if that is your motivation, then you've missed the point.  The church is God's body not ours, the credit is His not ours, and the glory is for Him not us.  It's all about God and we are on His team.


James 4:3(NIV)

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not Me!

Not Me!

"Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."  Exodus 4:10 (NIV)

Do you know what this sounds like to me? An Excuse. God was calling Moses to go to Egypt and be the instrument He was going to use to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, but Moses gave God excuses as to why He shouldn't go, I'm not a good speaker now or in the past, I'm slow, yada yada yada.  Excuses.

Maybe Moses was scared? Maybe He was still ashamed of fleein Egypt years earlier for killing a man? I don't know, maybe He had no self-confidence, or  maybe he was simply comfortable in tending flocks for  his father-in-law?  But, the bottom line is when God calls you to do something, He already knows you can do it, or He wouldn't have called you to do it. God unlike us, doesn't make mistakes.

I believe every individual created by God was created for a purpose and has value, and is called.  Many people never realize it, ignore it, or reject it, many make excuses.  Some people try to find purpose and value in earthly relationships, power, sex, drugs, jobs, money, and hobbies and can't understand why they are never fulfilled, complete, or why enough is never enough?   It's because God created you and me for a reason. 

No we are not all called to be preachers, missionaries, or church leaders, but regardless you are still called to do something for God.  The talents and gifts you have, maybe in sports, music, speaking, or computers? Maybe God wants you to use them for Him. Maybe God wants you to be an influence at your school, at your job, with your friends, in your family? 

But, what do we do?  We make excuses why we can't, won't, or aren't willing.  I remember several years ago I left full-time ministry and struggled spiritually, I wasn't a very good Christian, and for a period of time I still felt God's calling, but ignored it because I was ashamed and felt unworthry like God could never used me again, yet here I am again serving in ministry, because I couldn't stand the constant calling as opposed to ignoring it and running out or excuses why God couldn't use me.  

No matter your past, God can use you. No matter your mistakes, God can still use you. No matter your self-esteem or self-worth, God can use you.  When you find your value and worth in God you can't help but feel better about yourselves.

So what you have a speech problem? So what you have a physical disability?  So what your divorced? So what your an alcoholic?  So what you take anti-depressants(who doesn't these days?) So what your busy?  So what you have a past?  So what you've been a dishonest person? So what you have did and said things you are ashamed of? So what you are shy?  It doesn't matter, all are excuses to not be used by God and He's waiting to you use. He belives in you or He would not have created you, and called you to do something for Him, or be used by Him.

God wants to use you in big and small ways, so stop finding reasons to NOT serve or be used and START seeking God.  Stop making excuses why you CAN'T and start finding ways you CAN.  Again, if God
 made you and gave you gifts, He will supply the strength, wisdom, and means to use them, you will fail with your own strength, but with God, you are limitless.

I leave you today with YES you!  God made you, God wants to use you, what is your excuse?  and BTW Moses finally obeyed and as we say the rest is history!

If you have time, watch this video about a guy name Christopher and ask yourself, what is my excuse for not letting God use me?
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FFCC2JNU


Monday, October 03, 2011

LIFE

LIFE
                                  James 4:14(NIV)

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Life. What is it? What is it to you?  For some it's a sentence because they make poor choices, live selfishly, and have no purpose or meaning.  For others, it's all they have, because this life is all they live for and look forward to.  For still others, it's a blessing, too short, and  not be taken for granted.

We have no promise of tomorrow, everyday of life is a gift.  Some spend their life trying to disprove that we were created and coming up with all sorts of reasons why there is not creator, though I beleive it takes alot more faith to be a true agnostic or atheist, than it does to believe in a creator.

Life.  It's fragile, yet human beings can be some of the most resilient people.  Life is short, but some people it drags out because they seek no divine calling or purpose to their lives.  Life is unpredictable, but yet predictably many people seek bitterness instead of healing, negativity instead of hope, and revenge instead of forgiveness. Life means living, yet many people choose not to truly live.  They have unhealthy habits, relationships, life styles that are slowly killing them and molding and shaping them for a life of regret.

People waste life.  They waste talent, money, resources, relationships, and opportunity to love, to be honest, to do the right thing, and make a positive difference. Intstead of making the world a better place, they add to the problems of the world. Instead of overcoming their past, a problem, or an addiction, they continue to live out the wreckless, destroying cycle of pain.

We need to enjoy life.  We need to embrace life. We need to take advantage of our life.  Whether we live 10 years or 100,  every day is a chance to do good, enjoy life, and make the world a better place.  No matter who we are, even if we were born or raised in bad circumstances, we should not let those things define us.  Maybe you were raised poor, but you can be rich in kindeness.  Maybe you were born into abuse? You can live as an example of healing and forgiveness.  Maybe you've experienced a great loss of a loved one and you've stopped living? You can start living a life that honors their memory and still be there for those still living. 

There are many reasons and excuses people waste life, ruin lives, and and don't enjoy life.  Probably a many reasons/excuses as there are people in the world.   But, my point today is God created LIFE.  God created life for a purpose.  A reason.   God created us in His image, for His purpose, and for His glory.  Did you know you were created to bring pleasure and enjoyment to the creator?  Just like a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture our creator shape and molded us for His pleasure.  He gave us life, breathed it into our nostrils so that we would have life.  He sent Jesus to die for our sins, because we are all sinful by human nature and can't be perfect on our own.  Jesus came to give us live and life to the fullest(Jn 10:10).

You are not a mistake, a mishap, and you werent created randomly. You aren't a big bang, a monkey, or some other cosmic or weird fantasy creation.   You and I were created by a creator.  THE God, not just any random person or thing, but THE God.    Your life is precious, valuable, and purposeful to God and it should be to you.  The thing is even though God gave us life and life on this earth,  this life and this place is only temporary. 

We do not life this life for this world, for our own pleasures or agenda, God created us in this life to prepare us for eternity.  He wants us to enjoy this life, it's pleasures, relationships, etc..but if your life is only about this life alone, or you are wasting it with only pain and suffering, you are missing the point of life.  Live your life.   Live your life with God in mind.


Ecclesiastes 8:15(NIV)

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Core Values

Core Values

I recently developed a set of CORE VALUES at Bozoo Christian Church where I now preach. I am currently going through a series with the same title and preaching on each core value.  The core values come from Acts 2:42-47 (when the New Testament church was established).  Rick Warren through his Purpose Driven Church book and this scripture says a church should have these 5 core values to make up a healthy church with purpose (ministry, mission, worship, fellowship, & discipleship).

I took the word "BOZOO" to come up with 5 statements to share our core values(yes, I know I'm creative, haha).  Core Values defined are "basic principles that guide us".  I'm sharing these with  my church,but it got me thinking about me as an individual what are my core values?  What about you? What principles,morals,or beliefs guide you?  

Even though we may not have a written down list of Core Values, we all have them, whether we know them or not. The problem is not all our values are healthy, good for us, or realistic.  Think about it, some people have no values or morals. They lie, they cheat, steal, or manipulate.  They are sneaky, arrogant, selfish, or prideful.  They are motivated by lust, greed, power, or control.  These basic principles guide them.  It's what motivates them, and even defines them and who they are and how they treat people and what they live for.

What about me? What about you?  Are our values healthy? Do we have a set of principles we live by that are hurting us? Hurting others? Destroying us?  Leaving a trail of destruction everywhere we go? If we live out life without purpose, meaning, or value, then we are going to naturally gravitate toward things,people, places, and habits that are not good for us or healthy for us.

That is why it's VITAL that you and me have some standards in our lives. Some values and principles that guide us. Our decision making, our choices, who we react to problems, and respond to issues. How we treat people and how we work, play, and live.

There is not a set list, because there may be some things that are important to me, that aren't important to you, or vice versa, but there are basic principles I think we all need.   Honesty. Integrity.  Faith. Unconditional Love.  Grace & forgivness.  I think we need first and formost to have faith in God and because of that, our relationship with God will help us mold and shape our values and principles we live by.

We will learn to be honest and practice honesty. We will know the difference between right and wrong and strive to always live and do right. I think we will know the difference and consequences of truth and lies and strive to be honest at all times no matter what we think the outcome.   We will work toward having morals that we won't compromise with greed, selfish behavior, or lust.  We will strive to live a pure and not taint our lives with drugs, abusing of alcohol, or negative things such bad sexual issues, vulgar language, or treating people like they are less than you.  We will value honesty, truth, acceptance, standards, morals, and love.

What words define you?  What words describe your personal core values.  Truth is, what we think we are. We we do we become, and how we live everyday determines our eternal destiny. What do people think of you?  Do they think you are nice or a pervert? Do they think you are compassionate or heartless? Do they know you are liar or sincere?  Do people think you are easy or know you to be a stand up person. This isn' worrying about what others think about you, it's not about perception. It's about reality.  What type of values do you have and display in your life everyday?  If you have bad values, you can change them. You can develop better, healthier, spiritual, and meaningful core values to guide your faith, relationships,and life.

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:17(NIV)

"Therefore prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;" I Peter 1:13-15

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Backbone

BACKBONE
Proverbs 31:9(NIV)
"Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”


Not only is this a physical attribute all of us have (a backbone), but it's sometimes a term we use to describe someone  who stands up to what is right, or sometimes we use it negatively to describe someone who "has no backbone" and will not stand up or address conflict or problems or who acts cowardly.


 


Your backbone sort of keeps your body together, slangily speaking the dictionary defines one who has backbone as "strength or character; being resolute".  It shouldn't surprise me, but we live in a society today where many people don't have much of a "backbone".  They look the other way when someone does something wrong, they enable and allow friends and family to destroy their lives without stepping in or trying to intervene. We won't stand up to bullies or people who try to push us around or others for that matter.

I've always felt like people who had "no spine or backbone" had no self-respect or low self-esteem.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.  Truth is truth and lies are lies.  When it comes to truth and the right thing, we should never cower, avoid, live in denial, or pretend everything is ok when it's not. Just creates an endless cycle of more problems and damage.

I am convinced that is why many of our marriages, family situations, relationships in general, work environments, and even many of our churches have major issues because leaders won't lead, people who are being taken advantage of, hurt, mistreated, abused, harassed, or walked on won't stand up.  Of if someone can't stand up for themselves, then those of us who are aware of it, need to stand up for those who are helpless, but many times don't.  Instead we make excuses, feel sorry, or simple pretend it's not there.

Many times we make excuses and feel sorry for people, so we "tolerate" their behavior or treatment, if they are sick or ill, they need help not sympathy.  Tough love is helping them, sympathy is hurting them. Sometimes we don't want to get involved, but if you don't who will? If others can't or won't do the right thing, how about you?  If you are in a position of leadership in the home, work, or even church you were put there for a reason, to lead.  You cannot lead effectively if you aren't willing to make tough decisions, deal with problems, and confront wrong.

Being a follower of Jesus doesn't mean being weak, timid, or blind.  Even those who do not follow Jesus have to have some sort of moral compass.  We cannot look the other way while people do wrong, hurt othters, or spin out of control. We cannot look the other way while people are hurt, suffer, and are pushed around.

Jesus stood up to sin, bullies, and He stood for those who were hurting and in need.  I think we are called to do the same thing. It's time that we get  a spine, get a backbone, and stop avoiding things because they make us uncomfortable or we are scared. I think it's time to stop running away because we don't want to get involved.  I think it's time that we stop ignoring things because we feel sorry for someone or don't want to make them mad or cause a riff.  Courage is not the absence of fear, it's responding through fear.  Real Character is standing up for what is right, even against oppostion or risk of making someone mad or even if you have to do it alone.

I want to encourage us all no matter the situation in life, if we are faced with an opporunity to confront a problem, deal with a tough issue, or right a wrong or help someone in need,  stop a bully, help a loved one or freind who is hurting themselves, or stop a conflict at work or church, we need to stand up!

Deuteronomy 31:6(NIV)

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

No leaders to follow

No Leaders to Follow
I've wrote on leadership before, but until now I haven't truly experienced my first leadership crisis.  I've been on staff at churches and been a part of churches in the past that lacked leadership, or had people in leadership who wouldn't lead effectively (or couldn't), I think part of the reason churches have habitual problems or do not grow is because they lack real, spiritual leadership or they have people in leadership who aren't good leader (they like the title or the attention leadership brings), but leader is not just a title, it's a position that requires you to lead.

 I also understand not everyone is a leader, but still there are many people who have ability to lead, but do not.  I am at a new church that is small,  I'm the only staff now and have no elders.  The church has been dwindling and on a downward spiral for sometime.. I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic. People have left and went to other churches, stopped going to church, or died off.  This church like others have had it's past successes and wonderful moments of blessing, but at the same time, if a church doesn't have quality, effecitve, and spiritual leaders the chuch is going to do any number of things: 1) divide 2) waffle 3) be stagnant 4) go in circles 5) be unproductive 6) quench the spirit 7) left hand not knowing what the right is doing 8) nothing will ever get done 9) dissension 10) dwindle and die.  I am sure you can think of some other things, but this was some of the things i've seen or had others share with me about their church.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from other Minister's is they have no leadership in their church.  They  have to end up doing everything themselves and either get burned out or frustrated or they do it all and get blamed for being a "dictator" or a "one man show", but the truth is, when you are the only one willing to lead, then it becomes those out of necessity and people have no right to complain if they aren't willing to serve or lead.

As I look back and learn about the church where I at now, the biggest thing that has been missing or is missing now is leadership.  People to lead.  People willing to lead.  People wanting to lead. People committed to using their leadership skills for God.   We will lead the boosters,PTA, girl/boy scouts,  the committee at work, be a supervisor or boss for a company, or coach a team, but when asked to serve in leadership at church people won't?  What happens, is churches settle and end up letting people lead who shouldn't because they aren't gifted or they want to be a "leader" for the wrong reasons(power, position, control, ego, pride, etc...).

I was called to lead and I'm going to lead. I'm also going to push for leadership and I'm going to try and call out people to lead.  We need leaders in our church, not just preachers,  Elders or Deacons/Ministry leaders, but we need people leading in our nursery, with our children, in our worship, our buildings/grounds, fellowships, meals, benevolence, outreach, evangelism, the lists of plenty of areas of our churches that need quality leadership to take these ministries, programs, and positions to the next level or begin these much needed ministries.  We need people to step up, step out, and step into leadershp in ALL churches.

I don't care your past,  your concerns, or excuses, if God gifted you with leadership abilities you need to be leading.  If God didn't equip you to be a leader, you need to be honest enough to accept it and find other ways to serve besides leadership. 

People cannot follow if they do not have a leader. People will not come to know Jesus if we do not have leaders in our churches or if churches aren't calling out and raising up and training leaders.  I'm a leader and I'm going to lead and I am leading, are you?  If you are gifted, called, and able to lead, then lead.  Ask God to give you a desire and willingness to lead, and then lead. Don't worry about criticism, complaints, or people who try to bully you. Lead!  No Preacher will be successful if he doesn't have people in the church willing to lead and no church will grow if it doesn't have people willing to lead.  Let's lead so people can follow.

Hebrews 13:7(NIV)

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Always Forget, Never Remember?

Always Forget, Never Remember?

This will be one of many articles I am sure you will read or come across talking about the 10 year annv. of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.  It falls on a Sunday, so a great opportunity for churches and preachers to use this time, as a great outreach, support, and reminder to all their church members and communities.

One thing you can be sure of, we forget, and we don't remember.  There are plenty of posters, clip art, and sign sayings, "Never Forget", and "Always Remember" and things like that about 9/11/01, but truth is we are a human race that forgets.  Go back and read the Old Testament of the Bible, how many times did the children of Israel turn to God, seek God, and get rescued and forgiven by God, only to forget, rebel, and follow their own ways or after other Gods? Plenty!  They forgot.  They didn't remember. 

Look at the New Testament, the jews were promised a Messiah and what happened when He finally came? They rejected Him, because they forgot or didn't remember the promises of God.  Look at churches today,  How many people go to church, get on fire for Jesus, get saved, etc...only in time to stop going to church or stop serving God. Why? We forget, we stop remembering.

How about your life or mine? How many times have we sinned, continued to sin, fell away, rebelled, or chose poorly? Why? We forget.  We don't remember.  We forget the kindnesss, unconditional love, grace, mercy, and salvation of God. We don't remember the healing He gave us at one time, the forgiveness, and gift He gave us.

We are forgetful people.  I know people are thinking about 9/11 because it's a 10 year annv., but I remember 10 years ago, how many people were scared the world was going to end, or we were all going to die, and people flocked to churches and God.  Where are they today? Many of them back to their old lives and back to no change.  Over time, the feelings of fear and the emotions of mortality faded, and they slowly went back to their old lives, old vices, old habits, old routines, and slowly but surely,they forgot about church, God, and faith.  Now, I am sure there were some people who came to God because of the 9/11 events, God always uses bad for good, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet more people forgot and faded than those who got saved(though we still rejoice for everyone who gets saved).

My thought for you this morming, is to develop better memory habits.  We need reminders, or we forget.  That is why  it's so important to talk (pray) to God daily, even though life may be busy. It's important to block off time daily or regularly to read/study the Bible even though you got distractions or obligations.  It's important to attend church and be involved serving in church regularly, not just sunday mornings only or hit and miss, but committed faithfully to attending, but not just attending, serving, giving, and being an active part of the church body.

In doing so, this will help you to remember and stay focused, if not the busyiness, hobbies, distractions, temptations,and life will get in the way and you will forget to serve, read, pray, attend, and grow your relationship with God.  Stay focused, stay involved, stay connected, so that you will not forget and will remember the goodness of God.

Proverbs 4:5(NIV)

"Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them."

Nehemiah 9:16-18(NIV)

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What are you doing?

What Are You Doing?

Romans 12:6-8(NIV)
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully




We want God to do all sorts of things for us don't we?  We want Him to answer all our prayers exactly the way we want them answered and quickly. We want God to bless us and give us all the things we want, need, and "think" we need.  We can even want church to be exactly how we think it should be, sing the songs we want, spend money the way we want, have the traditions and programs I like, and the list is endless of things we want from God or want God to do.

However, the better question is:  What are YOU doing for God?  If being a Christian was just about us giving our opinions and/or coming and sitting on a church pew on Sunday mornings and attending church, we'd all be super-christians.  But, being a Christian or being the church, is not about attending a church service or getting our way. As a matter of fact, being a christian really is the opposite.  It's about "being" the church and not attending a church service, and it's about "giving" ourselves to God in worship and service and not just giving an opinion.

So, What are you doing?  Where are you serving?  How are you giving? Are you truly committed to God and His church?  We give tons of cash to a house payment, car payment, or our hobbies of golf, boating, or camping, but what do we give God? We spend countless hours scrapbooking, fishing, going to little league, or cheer competitions, or yard sales, but how much time a week do we devote to serving God?  We use our abilities to help with school athletic boosters, PTO, little league officer, Kiwanis or Lion's club, or countless other causes(most are good), but if we are asked to volunteer, serve, lead, or teach at church, we don't have time.

So, What are you doing?  Do you spend time each day in prayer talking to God?  Are you spending regular amounts of time reading or studying the Bible or involved in a weekly Bible study or SS class?  Are you doing your part in the church and volunteering and serving in some way in one of it's programs or ministries?  Are you committed to giving financially to God. Remember you are giving to God through His church, not just giving money to "your" church. 

So, What are you doing? Are you serving? Are you giving? Are you leading? Are you committed? Are you doing your part? Are you giving your best to God? Are you