Thursday, February 28, 2013

Daily Bread

Daily Bread

Luke 11:3(niv)
"Give us each day our daily bread."
This verse in the bible is Jesus telling others how they should pray, giving them an example, we call it the "Lord's prayer", but one of the things He mentions is daily bread.  He is implying in my opinion that first and foremost that DAILY we ask God to provide and secondly, we trust Him daily.
Jesus didn't say give us our "weekly" bread, or "monthly" bread, or "quarterly" bread, or "yearly" bread, but DAILY bread.  What does this mean?  I think it means we  need to learn to trust in God more each and every day or our lives one day at a time and don't get ahead of God.
There is nothing wrong with making plans or having plans in our lives, I am a planner and I like to use my calendar and have things wrote down, but when it comes to God providing for us and meeting our needs, we need nothing more than a day at a time provision from Him.  The only long-term thing we need from God is salvation(forgiving our sins, saving us, and have an eternal home prepared).
In the Old Testament when the Israelites were roaming around the dessert for 40 years because they couldn't be faithful long enough for God to lead them to the Promise Land, He provided for them daily Manna from Heaven.  He only gave them what they needed for that day.  We can learn from them, that when we don't trust in God daily, we are going to fail every single time.
I think we live in a consumer society with instant this and instant that and smart phones and microwaves and fast food and we are used to getting things now and we are also used to getting what we want and we miss the beauty and sincerity of a Holy God that provides to meet  our daily needs. We also worry about things of the future like finances, or war, or terrorism, or end of times or whatever, but I think once again we are not trusting God when we worry or allow our fears to not have peace in a daily God.
Remember what Jesus told others in Matthew?
Matthew 6:25-34(niv)
[ Do Not Worry ] “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
God wants us to prepare for Eternity, and I think it's ok to plan for retirement and use common sense when making decisions and choices for the future, but I think we show a lack of faith and trust and even can be selfish when we want so much out of God and expect so much out of Him or doubt Him caring for our future.  I think that is why God wants us to trust Him DAILY because God knows when we have too much, we will stop relying on God or think we can do it on our own or even take the credit.
We need God daily.  We need to seek God daily.  Talk  to God daily and spend time with him in prayer and His Word and live one day at a time knowing and trusting God is going to provide our daily bread an d so much more.
I want to encourage you today to everyday ask God for your daily bread, to meet your daily needs, and trust Him.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013



You know who are committed? Smokers!  Today I drove by two nursing home type places who have obviously banned smoking on their property and employees were camped outside several yards past the properties to smoke in the freezing cold with temperatures in the teens this morning here in West Virginia.  Now that is commitment!  To walk several hundred feet, to stand outside in the cold,  and all to smoke a cigarette.

Bad habit? Yes! Some think even nasty habit? Yes! Bad for you and your health and the health of those around you? Yes!  But, you have to admire the commitment people make to their habits.  Smoking, chewing, dipping snuff, etc..or even addictions to drinking, gambling, pornography, drugs, etc...though there are many extremes to these habits, even addicts are committted. 

I wish I could say the same thing for christians.  A smoker will walk several feet and stand in the frigid weather just to smoke, and yet self-proclaimed christains won't commit to walk next door to invite a neighbor to church, will miss church for the lamest of excuses, and won't even take time to serve in the local church, but yet there they are in the concession stand at little league 3 nights a week, keeping notes as secretary at the local rotary club or social club, or  will get up at 4:30am in the  morning to go hunting, go shopping, or travel, and can't make it to a 11am sunday worship service?

Commitment! I think the chain smokers are on to something.  They at least commit to their bad habit.  Can christians not commit to their Lord? Their faith? Their church body?  Who is Lord or your life?  Sports? The golf course?  The shopping mall? The computer? The TV?  The almighty dollar?  The Lake?  The kids?  How about Jesus Christ?  We want to the luxury of being a part of His family, we want his forgiveness, grace, mercy, and help in our hour of need, but when we don't need anything or want anything from God or His church, then we are back to being fair-weather fans, ocassional christians, and we'll show up and help or serve if we don't have anything better to do if it don't rain or our dog doesn't have a cold.

Ok, so maybe I am being a little sarcastic, but the point is clear, we make strong commitments to many things including our bad habits, but does our Lord and Savior not deserve so much and more?  We all fall short, we all sin, and that is a given, but at the same time, we also must not take our grace, salvation, or faith for granted.  God needs  faithful members of His church to show up and worship, serve, give, and be salt and light in our communities.

He also just doesn't need people punching a time clock or getting gold stars on an attendance chart, coming to a church service is not doing God a favor or checking off of your weekly spiritual "to-do" list for your hour a week.  God desires a committed relationship with you.  However, we leave God holding the bag, we want him to do all the work in the relationship, or we want to use you, take advantage of Him or use him like an ATM or Vending Machine for our needs/wants. 

I hope you can learn a lesson today from the unlikliest of people. the smoker.  They may have a bad habit they need to kick, and they may be slowly killing their bodies, but at least they are committed to something. Shame on us is a a bad habit, a social organization, sports team, or restaurant has more committed members, fans, or patrons, than God.

God needs committed, faithful, and loyal followers, believers, and doers!  Let's show the world that we take our faith serious.  Let's be in church and be faithful in our part. Not just attending, but being the church and being in a committed relationship with Christ.

Revelation 3:16(NIV)
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Organized Christianity

Organized Christianity

"I'm against organized religion, but for organized christianity".  This is a quote I made last week because this issue seems to be on my heart a lot.  I'll be honest I get really discouraged with church groups and denominations sometimes.  They seem to be more concerned about their own agendas, traditions, or intrepretations of the Bible in order to push their views, instead of simply trying to Love God and because of that Love Others and be The Church.

I am now part of the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, they are a part of the Restoration Movement that was started back in the 1800's to try and restore the church back to the church in the New Testament and away from many of the denominational practices that were taking places in organized church groups of that day.   

While I respect and admire many of these efforts in my church group and others over the years, it seems that no matter the church group, everyone seems to think their way is better, they are right and everyone else is wrong, and they've cornered the market on holiness and being closer to God.  Ask the church of Christ, many of them think they are the only ones going to heaven. Ask the fundamental bapitst, they are they are God's chosen police to condemn and judge everyone heretic and wrong if they don't follow their practices.  Ask the Catholics, they are Saints.  Ask the churches I am a part of, we say we are not the only christians, but christians only, but what they really mean, is, we got it righter than anyone else and truth is most of these groups can't even get along with themselves.

I get frustrated by organized religion. I know that may sound weird coming from a preacher.  There was a time awhile back where I struggled in my faith and nearly left the church and christian faith altogether, yeah it was my fault I fell away from my faith and  made poor choices, but I also was hurt by the way some christians treated me because "I used to be a youth minsiter and now I wasn't acting like it" , and I was also amazed at how some people saw me at a bar and grill eating and drinking and came up to me and started sharing their problems with me wanting help because they finally felt comfortable talking to a "christian" or "minister" because I was on their turf.  I always said, I'm in a bar drinking, I'm not in ministry anymore nor am I in a place to give advice because my life is screwed up right now, but that didn't stop them, and it made me realize  I was wrong and needed to repent and get right with God and get back to His business instead of drinking and feeling sorry for myself and continuing down a road of regret and bad choices.

I am not adovacting minister's hit bars and start drinking or that we as christians lower our biblical standards of behavior, but looking back I realized my beef wasn't with the church, God, or christianity, it was with organized religion.  People playing church and churches playing God, and christians being religious instead of having a real relationship with God.

I regret my past mistakes and choices and that dark time in my life, but God taught me some valuable lessons through that dark time.  Yes, I am back in the "organized" church, and yes I am a "preacher" again, and I truly appreciate God's grace and forgiveness more, but I refuse to be "religous" or loyal to any one religous doctrine or group.  The more I read and study the Bible the more I realize the way we do things isn't always correct, that the way certain church groups do things is not biblical or the only way to do things, and that we get a lot of things wrong. 

However, in saying that the church is still the hope of the world.  God created THE church, HIS Church to be the body of Christ and the vessel to share Jesus Christ with the world.  It would do us all a great favor to by loyal to Christ first and stop being loyal to our denominations or church groups and their doctrinal stances or traditions and start being simply a christian.  We are so ready to not fellowship with someone or judge them "less than" us because they don't agree with us or don't practice or participate in certain things like we do.  Why do we have so many church groups and denominations? Because people can't get along and think their way is better!

If they use instruments or don't use instruments in worship. If they speak in tongues or don't speak in tongues.  If they don't use the same bible version as me. If they don't follow my catholic or protestant rituals.  If they don't believe in eternal security or follow the five points of calvanism, or let women preach.  The list is pretty endless of the issues we will condemn others to hell, refuse to accept them as our brothers/sisters.

I know  many of you will say, now the Bible says this and the Bible says that, but let's be honest, you are using scripture to prove your point and justify your behavior instead of letting scirpture lead and guide you.  That is wrong in any church group or denomination. We are so easy to grab our churches favorite scriptures that we've been mis-using or taking out of context for years to back up our churches stances. 

When I read the Bible I am trying to let God shape and mold me not looking for things to back up or support preconceived ideas, doctines, or stances I've already got.  So many times that is how we read or use the Bible.  People we need to repent and start letting God, His Holy Spirit, and His Word mold and shape us around it instead of the other way around.

It is time we are loyal to God and His church and not "our" church or denominations or agendas. It's time we are relational and not just religious.  You want to know why prayer is out of schools, and abortions are legal, and all the other garbabge we got going on in the world today?  It's called sin and it's going on because christians and churches are too busy arguing with each other to seek and save the lost and make disciples.

Imagine who different our bible studies and sermons and church serivces would look if we focused on important things, salvation issues, evangelism, prayer, and discipling christians into maturity instead of pushing or promoting our religious views of our favorite topic?? 

I am tired of organized religion.  I want to be an organized christian.  Yes I am the Minister at the Ronceverte Christian Church and yes I am a preacher in the Independent Christian Churches/churches of Christ, but those things do not define me or limit me.  I am a Christian and I am a child of God. I am a minister of the gospel and if you came to know God through Jesus Christ(the only way) and were saved through Him,  then you are my brother or sister. We may differ on may views, but that doesn't mean I am better than you or that you are more spiritual than me.

You can call me a liberal, or watering down the truth, or any names you want, go ahead,. While you waste your time judging me, condemning me, or contiuing down the path of ignorance, arrogance, or religous practice, I will continue to focus on my personal relationship with God to grow as a christian and will strive to fulfill my calling as a Minister of the Gospel and continue to read and study my bible so that I may grow in my faith, knowledge, wisdom, and teaching.  I will not always get it right, I may be wrong sometimes, but I am going to continue to support organized christianity and rebuke organized religion.

Acts 11:26b(niv)
 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.