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Archive for December, 2007

With Fear and Trembling

Have we mass marketed the Bible? Have we packaged certain verses in such a way that we now believe we have such a total grasp on them they no longer have the power they were intended to have? I think that we have! What I mean by “marketing the bible” is that we have thrown around certain verses in the church with such frequency that they have lost their potency to some extent. Philippians 2:12 says “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (NIV).” That verse has been tossed around a lot in the past to such an extent we have let it lose its power in each of our lives.

While Jesus has redeemed those who are His there remains an expectation that each of us individually will strive for an excellent Christian life. That one verse calls out to us to roll up our sleeves for a lifestyle that can be demanding at times. This verse is one that all of us need to meditate on and ponder more frequently. When taken seriously it forces me to look within to see where my inner life needs attention and beckons me to do something about it.  We need to make sure in each of our lives that we are not taking the word and tossing it around like another cute slogan that eventually loses its power. “With fear and trembling” can be powerful words if we truly absorb them and let the Spirit of God search our hearts and minds to see what we are lacking in our journey with God. I want to be a person who is always working it out. What do you want?

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Those simple 2 words that define this time of year are becoming increasingly unpopular. I personally love to say those 2 words because it reminds me and everyone who hears them what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. This time of year is set aside to recognize the birth of Jesus who is the only Savior of the world. Those of us who are Christians should cherish the words Merry Christmas and let them be a reminder of the Grace of God. 

It seems to me that those of us who make up the Church are not speaking out loudly enough against those who are liberal and cry foul at words that have been used during this time of year for many centuries. The liberals cry foul against anything Christian and want more tolerance for everyone outside of Christianity. My fear for the future is that this will become an even bigger issue. As a Army Veteran who has been through Desert Storm and as a Christian Pastor I reserve the right to use the words Merry Christmas and exercise my freedom of speech. To be honest I have not heard one person get offended at those words in the last several years. The only ones crying foul are the hard line liberals of this country who seem to have an agenda against the Christian faith. This is a great time of year to remember the great love that God has for His creation. I remember His love and grace every time I hear the words Merry Christmas.

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Is This David Vs. Goliath?

Within the last 2 months former Minister Mike Huckabee has began to surge in the Republican polls. When answering questions with other Republican Candidates he seems articulate and ready to answer anything that comes his way. As one who watches the news and political programs I must admit that I was not that familiar with this candidate. Watching him in the debates and listening to his views have piqued my interest. This could be a David Vs. Goliath in the making. Huckabee is bringing his theological and political training to the table. That offers a unique perspective that no other candidate can provide.

I am not completely sold on this candidate yet, but I do have to wonder what a former Minister would be like as the next President of the United States. So far I see Huckabee standing on his Christian convictions and that certainly has my attention. The only way to know is by seeing what he stands for yourself. Go to mikehuckabee.com and find out for yourself. When I look what is out there right now I am glad someone with conviction is in the race and doing well so far.

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Many years ago I heard a great preacher say “the thinking of the world has found itself inside of the Church!” As a young Christian I wondered what those words exactly meant. I did not fully understand what he was saying. A decade later I remember those words and realize how true it really is. Every Church in the world has some problems that they deal with on a regular basis and some of those problems can be found every time we look at ourselves in the mirror.  The problems that I am referring to are those that each of us create without so much as a second thought. One of the biggest problems that I see many of us creating is that of constant criticism. We have become a Church that acts and talks like the world around us.

Everyone who is a Christian and attends Church regularly probably has had an issue with how they use their words. We usually don’t want to admit it but everyone of us at some point and on different levels has been wrong. I see this happening in the Church and I have been growing tired of it lately. The world around us accepts using negative words toward one another as a common occurrence and because it seems normal it finds its way into the Church. Perhaps its time to break this cycle of negativity among God’s people! All of us don’t want to admit our faults, but they are ever present for everyone to see. Each of us has many faults that we do not want to admit to ourselves and others. Knowing we have faults should help us to be more gracious, but unfortunately it does not. Why is that? Why do we knowing pick each others faults apart more than offering a compliment? I think the simple answer is that we have taken on the thinking of the world. It could also be that are commitment to Christ never reaches beyond ourselves into the communities that we are a part of.

What would happen to any congregation if it was willing to turn this attitude around? I think that any congregation that was willing to learn to compliment each other more than complain about one another would experience a fresh move of God in their midst. But all of this has to start somewhere. It has to start with the individual. It has to start with you and me making up our minds that we are going to glorify God in every way possible that He has commanded us to in His word. I want to learn this winter to see all the good qualities in my Church family before I begin to look at the negative ones. I want to learn to be a person who compliments others around him and encourages people more. It all starts with a decision and takes daily work to back up that decision. In Galatians 6:10 Paul says “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” We can fulfill this scripture by learning to compliment each other instead of being critics. This I believe is what God intends for His Church and this is the person I want to become everyday.

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Online Frustrations

The Internet can be a wonderful place of news and information. Whether it is a word we forget to spell correctly or a streaming video of the latest news story, just about all that we want to know is at our fingertips. To some extent I believe that I have taken this convenience for granted. As one who is in the office quite a bit I admit that I enjoy the availability of the Internet. But sometimes even a good thing can be bad. For me I have had experience with on-line Christian forums of many different varieties and lately they have frustrated me.

My frustration is not so much with Christian Forums, but how we treat one another as God’s children on-line. I see people jabbing at one another on-line and it frustrates me. This happens in the local church, but never face to face that often. Usually people will take jabs at one another behind each others back. By saying all of this I am in no way implying that I have always been perfect when discussing things through an on-line format. I am just frustrated with those of us who claim to be Christians treating each other harshly or arrogantly when we do not agree on every single point of theology. I think when things get to frustrating in any area of our lives we have to take a step back and re-evaluate ourselves a bit. Somethings such as discussion forums can even bring us down even though they are started with good intentions. I have come to realize that many of our frustrations that we go through are caused by decisions we make. We choose our responses to others everyday. I want to become a person who extends more grace everyday of my life. I want to become a person who exhibits greater character in all situations. Ephesians 4:2-3 in the NLT says “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each others faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.” I want to always remember those words so that I don’t forget what is expected of me. I always want to be able to live those words out  in every setting of my life.

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Out In The Cold

I love a good story! Maybe that is why I am so fond of the parables of Jesus. They are great stories that are so rich in meaning.  For the past few weeks I have been immersed in the parables through some research that i was doing. One of those parables that I began to study in great length is found in Matthew 18:21-35. This parable covers the last half of Matthew 18 and is one of my favorite parables by Jesus. The short of the story is that a man owes money to a King that he can never possibly repay. The amount he owes is even more than what is in circulation of his day. He begs the King for forgiveness repeatedly is says in the original language. The King is merciful and extends grace to his servant. Once the servant leaves he finds one of his servants who owes him a “few hundred bucks” (TNIV phrase) and has the man thrown in prison because he cannot repay. He was given mercy, but did not want to give it out in return. When the King finds out what has happened he has the man who initially begged for mercy put into prison. In this parable the King represents God. I hate to admit it, but all of us to some extent represent the unmerciful servant.

In the Church today there is a grace problem that I am noticing. I have been involved in situations where I know I messed up and when I do I always try to apologize. The problem is that people want to be like the unmerciful servant and not grant us what we have asked for.  This can be frustrating, but you cannot let it hold you back. If you have asked for forgiveness of someone you have wronged then you must move on and let God take over the situation. Will it still bother you? Most definitely it will, but through time and prayer God will give you the peace that you are looking for. Just remember how merciful God is to you and make sure you are being the same to everyone around you. Even if someone still wants to keep you out in the cold after you have tried to reconcile God sees what you have done and He will bless you for following the way He has laid out for you.

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