Monthly Archives: May 2011

Free – In Christ

Memorial day gives us a chance to remember. Did you remember yesterday? Did you thank a veteran? I spent a lot of time contemplating the cost of the freedoms I still get to enjoy. For men and women who took the stand for what they believed and for the many who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

I wondered what I would be willing to stand up for? I thought about how over the last couple decades we have seen certain freedoms taken away from us. I thought about how our founding fathers sought to set up a government of the people, for the people andbythe people and yet today, we see our government acting as if the people are here to support government rather than the other way around.

I considered how many freedoms I truly have because I am “In Christ.” He paid the ultimate price for my freedom and yours.

Romans 8:1-4
8Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,a2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,b God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.c And so he condemned sin in sinful man,d4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

So, we are no longer condemned because of what Christ has done. However, we are still persecuted. There are so many to whom the message of Christ and the Cross is foolishness.

1 Corinthians 1:18
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

What does this have to do with us? Though we seek to carry this message into a world that thinks us to be foolish, it’s Christ they’re rejecting and not us. So why should it matter to us?

How often do we temper our boldness because of the fear of rejection? How many times does our confidence wane when we face criticism?

See, that’s what I mean when I ask myself – What would I be willing to take a stand for? – What would I be willing to die for?

I am grateful for the veterans who have served and remember, with tears in my eyes, those who gave their lives for the freedom I currently enjoy. At the same time I’m reminded that this freedom is temporary. You can quote me on this – The United States of America will not last forever. In the historical scope of things we are a young nation. In our arrogance, however, we sometimes believe and act like this country will always be around and will always be free. Let’s not deceive ourselves. We know too well that some, or should we say, many of our freedoms are already gone.

In direct contrast, the freedom we have “in Christ” is eternal. In fact, it was established for the specific purpose of eternity. If the temporal freedoms of an earthly nation are worth standing up for, worth laying down ones life for then how much more is Christ and His cross worth standing up for? How much more is Christ worth laying down my life for?

Would you join me in these thoughts? I’m not seeking to devalue the sacrifice for country. I’m proud of our veterans! Could you die for Christ? Could you stand up for the church, for Christ and His cross in the face of persecution – in the face of death? I’d love to read your thoughts.


The Centrality of Jesus in Worship

Thank you for allowing me, this past Sunday to share with you about worship. I’ve heard it said about me that my passion is worship. Let me amend this assumption, by saying that my true passion is WHO I worship – Jesus.

As I mentioned Sunday, our worship starts with Jesus. As we reach out with our worship – we find the One who first reached out to us – Jesus. To Jesus who poured out his blood, we pour out our worship! As God the Father raised Him from the dead, we raise our voices full of His praise!

We also can experience true freedom in worship. The Bible instructs us to worship in various ways.

Psalm 33:1-3

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;

it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

2 Praise the Lord with the harp;

make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully,and shout for joy.

We should SING JOYFULLY. We should SHOUT for JOY!
We should PLAY SKILLFULLY on instruments such as a harp or ten-stringed lyre. (both very popular instruments in their day. We should sing A NEW SONG!

It’s no mystery that the most important worship verse Romans 12:1 is immediately followed in verse 2 by a verse that speaks of transformation.

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,* I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.*2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

This is our TRUE worship! also put – This is your spiritual act of worship (NIV) or This is your reasonable service (NKJV) – regardless of your translation of choice, I was to do what is TRUE and what is SPIRITUAL and what is REASONABLE.

God, in Christ, changes us as we worship Him. Simply being in His presence is surely transformational. He will transform us if we let Him and change the way we think. For this to happen, we must make sure our worship is Romans 12:1 worship. TRUE-SPIRITUAL-REASONABLE-worship. This is us dying to self and turning it ALL over to Him, our body, our finances, our attitudes. Let Him use us as he sees fit. This takes humility-selflessness-sacrifice.
One could make the assumption that if He isn’t changing us, then perhaps there is still something we have laid claim to in our lives, something we have not yet given up.

The hardest thing for me to do, in this flesh, is to say these three words – “I am wrong.” But, in order for God to change the way I think, I have to turn over my thinking to Him.

Isaiah 55:8
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

I have to confess this verse often. It’s important. Not just when we don’t know the answers, in fact, it may be even more important to confess this verse when we are absolutely 100 percent sure that we have the answers. No matter how right we think we are – “His ways are not our ways.”

Father, change my mind and my heart and my will. Transform me until the only thing others see is Jesus reflected in me. Take all that I have, it’s Yours. In fact, take my whole body, here it is, it’s Yours. You gave it to me anyway and it’s purpose should be to honor You. My mouth, that’s a part of my body isn’t it? Let it always honor You and speak boldly the name of Jesus. My fingers, they are part of this body, let the write what is True-Spiritual-Reasonable. My feet, also a part of the body. Let them go places that You would go, but I am too often afraid to go. My eyes are Yours too. Help me to see others they way Jesus sees. My life, my whole self is Yours.

I didn’t mean for this post to be so lengthy. I’d love to read your comments. Are you discovering these same truths as you become more and more humble with your worship? Do you find God changing your mind? Have you ever had a thought that you just knew was right, only to find out that His thoughts are not your thoughts? Please post your comments below.


Up, Up and Away!

So many shows on television right now are built around the story of the main character/characters having some kind of super power. Chuck has downloaded a super spy database into his brain and can call upon special kung fu abilities he never learned, only downloaded. The Powell family gained their special powers from a plane crash, when a power giving serum was released into the air they breathed it in. Not long ago we were presented a show with the title Heroes.

Asa kid and even still, I love a good hero story. This summer we’ll see released at the box office, Thor, X-Men; First Class, Transformers; the Dark Side of the Moon, Green Lantern, Captain America, Kung Fu Panda 2, Cowboys and Aliens, Conan the Barbarian, the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie titled On Stranger Tides, and of course Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2.

So maybe I’m not the only one who loves a good story about a hero with extra special, supernatural abilities. But wouldn’t the worst story be one about a hero with super abilities that refused to use them. He/she was embarrassed and afraid people wouldn’t like them anymore or would talk bad about them. Perhaps they are proud and want to prove that they can do it all by themselves without their special powers. This is starting to sound familiar.

Don’t you and I live out this story everyday? When we try to do things on our own, when our heavenly Father is listening, waiting for us to call upon his name.

Romans 8:11 “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you! And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

There is power in the name of Jesus! There is healing in the name of Jesus! There is hope and life and deliverance in the name of Jesus! There is freedom, blessing, shelter, and peace in the name of Jesus!

Don’t forget it, don’t doubt it, don’t deny it, don’t suppress it.
Never be ashamed or embarrassed by His dwelling IN you.

Reject the notion that you have something to prove when you try and do it all by yourself. This is a foolish lie of our enemy, for he knows that where Jesus is at work (in YOU daily) that there Jesus will also be glorified. Our enemy is not interested in Jesus glory. When we do it all by ourselves, even when we succeed aren’t we glorifying ourselves? What’s the point of that?

Let’s glorify the One and only true Hero, the Savior, the Son of God, Christ Jesus, by letting Him live His life out through us. Let us embrace His indwelling Spirit that He might do all that He wills with our lives. Let’s put an end to this daydream of making ourselves the potter and get down to the business of being the clay.

(Is it just me or did that get too preachy?)

What do you think of this? Are you a hero fan too? Is Christ your ultimate Hero, worthy of the glory He earned by saving your life at the cross? Does He save you from something silly or serious everyday?


I Think My Eyes Are In Backward

A SHORT STORY – FROM A MADE UP DIARY
I think my eyes are in backwards and all I can see right now is myself. I’m blind to the needs of others around me. To me, they don’t even exist. All I can see are my needs. It doesn’t seem to be hurting me, but if it does, I think I’ll have to do something about it.
I was talking with a friend the other day who was asking for prayer and advice regarding some tribulation that had come his way. I thought about his story and it reminded me of something similar that had happened to me. Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly the same as what happened to me… come to think of it what happened to me had nothing at all to do with my friend’s situation, but I told it to him anyway. We both had a good laugh, but he seemed to go away sad. It was hard to tell, because all I could see was me. I think my eyes were put in backward.
This morning at my accountability group prayer time we each asked for prayer, but when we prayed I noticed no one was praying for the requests I had made. Maybe they just didn’t think they were that important. I know, I’ll bet they just didn’t know what I meant when I said “unspoken.” On my turn I was very careful to name the person Luke had asked for. You know, his friend who had cancer… or was it kidney disease? No, I remember, it was a hemorrhoid… no, no that’s not it either. But I prayed for him by name, or was it her? Come to think of it, it wasn’t his friend, it was his sister, Jill, I mean, Joanne… I can’t remember. I’ll have to ask him later. I think I just prayed for “Luke’s request”. God knew what I meant. I’ve gotta get my eyes fixed!
My ministry team meets tomorrow. I can’t wait to share all my ideas. They are going to love them, and if they don’t I’ll just join another team. I mean, if they didn’t want to do it my way, then why did they ask me to be on the team? They better not “tweak” my ideas either. I know God gave these ideas to ME, and it must be because He wants them done the way I would do them. Why else would He give me the idea in the first place?
My favorite radio station wasn’t coming through very well today so I tried out a couple other so called “Christian” stations. I couldn’t stand this one station. No matter how low I turned my volume down in the car, the music still sounded too loud. I didn’t like it. This music can’t be honoring to God, can it? I’m just sure that God doesn’t like that kind of music. It’s too grindy. God doesn’t like grindy music. At least not my god!
My eyes are still in backwards. I’m going to have to get that checked out. It doesn’t seem to be affecting my daily life, however, so perhaps I’ll put it off. Like I always say- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Day I Didn’t Feel Your Prayers

A SHORT STORY – FROM A MADE UP DIARY

No one prayed for me today.I’ve heard it said and said it myself – “I could feel your prayers.” But I didn’t feel anyone pray for me today.I walked through my day and so many things went wrong.I lost my keys in the morning and was late for work.Was anyone praying for me?I spilled my coffee in my car and ran out of napkins before I could clean it up.Someone please pray for me!Upon entering my office I was bombarded by messages and problems that I had to fix.Why won’t someone pray for me?Rushing back after lunch I slammed my breaks on but still rear-ended the car in front of me.I could really use some prayer!

Why won’t anybody pray for me?I’m a member of my church and they know me.Are they praying for me?My family raised me to follow Christ.Are they praying for me?

I ended my day on my knees and realized it was the first time today I had taken that position.Holy Spirit began to convict me that I had not prayed for anyone today.I had only been thinking of myself.Had I started the day in prayer and continued in a spirit of prayer throughout the day, perhaps I would have been less self absorbed. If I had been a person humbled to pray, Christ would have been my focus and not me.I realized then that the Bible says that Christ is interceding for each of us.That means, in a sense that He is praying for us.He had been praying for me throughout my troubled day.

From now on when I don’t “feel” the prayers of others on my behalf, I will stop and pray for others.I will remember that Jesus is interceding for me and he is watching me.


Next Read – Bonhoeffer

https://i2.wp.com/1.bp.blogspot.com/_yOXRv9Nsgv0/S8pbO7SlbwI/AAAAAAAAAnY/tfmCshNq4tM/s1600/_225_350_Book.172.cover.jpg
Finally finished JESUS MANIFESTO and it was worth taking my time. So full of words that point the soul in the direction of Jesus Christ. As a worship leader, I long to point to Jesus week after week – more so now, after reading this book, than ever.
Interesting that in this book were several great quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve also read some quotes from him, which people have posted on twitter. It’s interesting because I had already decided that the next book I would read would be BONHOEFFER – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas.
You readers and/or movie goers may remember the story of William Wilberforce and the Movie – Amazing Grace, several years back. Metaxas first crack at a biography was Wilberforce and in his second effort he has picked a great man of God to study. I can’t wait to get started!
It’s going to take time to get through the 542 pages, but I imagine Bonhoeffer’s unique life at the heart of the empire of evil that was Nazi Germany would take time to tell. If you’ve read this book or any by Metaxas post in the comments and encourage me and others to enjoy BONHOEFFER – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. If you haven’t, pick it up and start reading with me.

 

I think it was Billy Graham who said that every believer should always be reading 3 books – The Bible, The Hymnal, and the Biography of a Christ Follower.

Added 5/3/11 I read this morning that Bonhoeffer just won the Overall 2011 book of the year from ECPA.