Sunday, September 20, 2009
Then we go to church and have a special prayer for the Wilsons, because the smallest of their 3-week-old triplets died this morning... Noah.
....THEN, while I am still crying... we start singing "Victory in Jesus"... I just couldn't do it... I wasn't feeling the victory today - in fact, I am still on the verge of tears... don't preach to me, I KNOW about the victory in Jesus, but... why?... a baby... three weeks old... I don't get it... it really tears me apart...
...but THEN the offering music started. The new-piano-lady started playing "...how great is our God, sing with me how great is our God..." and I just remember relaxing right there at that moment, because in my grief I lost sight of how great my God is. I couldn't feel the "victory" today, but I never doubt how in total control my God is... and because I so completely believe in God's power and sovereignty in this world, a peace overcame me concerning Noah Wilson. My grief remains... but I will learn God's bigger plan for Noah one of these days when I enter 1st grade in Heaven... For now... my job is to trust Him....
Rest in the arms of your Creator, Noah....
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I was just thinking today of all the instances in the Bible where the person who should have been chosen for an inheritance, or a certain position, or whatever (that sounded very scholarly, didn’t it? Lol) – was bypassed and the less likely person was chosen.
Think of the 3 Patriarchs; Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, was not the line that the Covenant passed through, but his second son, Isaac. Then Isaac’s firstborn, Esau, was not the one the Covenant passed to, but Jacob. The Patriarchal line ended with Jacob, but you would have to admit if not the covenant, then certainly God’s favor was with Jacob’s twelfth son, Joseph. Moses was an orphan and a murderer, but God chose him. I think this is an interesting pattern in the scriptures. Look who God chose to be the king of Israel. David was so far down the line of brothers that he didn’t even show up for Samuel to consider – yet that was whom God had in mind for the position. Don’t forget that we weren’t even the first people who were chosen to hear the Gospel. According to Paul, the Gospel was to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles. Hello, we are Gentiles, so we were even the unlikely recipients of God’s redemptive plan.
You might ask what all this means. Am I just trying to bring you down and remind us of how lowly and undeserving we are? Well, yes – in a way. I think nothing in God’s holy word happened by coincidence. There must be a reason that the “ugly duckling” is always receiving God’s blessing.
I think the most obvious lesson from these stories in the Bible is that even though Jesus is God’s “only begotten Son” and the rightful heir to EVERYTHING – the Father has also called us His children, and He wants us to know that the inheritance and the benefits of the Covenant are also ours to claim as step-sons and daughters of His. The other nugget of Truth that I get from all of these unlikely people being favored in the Kingdom, is that God is the God of second chances. He is the God of new birth, of regeneration. He is the God of the disenfranchised, the disinherited. He is the God of the clean slate. He is the God of plan B, and plan C, and plan D, and plan E, and so on and so on and so on…. He is the God of never giving up. As I think back over my lifetime, I am obviously the Poster Child of Plan Bs and Plan Cs, etc. That’s why God is my God. He has taken all of the wrong turns in my life and instead of leaving me totally lost; He has directed me back onto His road. He is the God of finding your way back home. He is the God of fresh starts. He is the God of new life. The God who bought me back out of slavery when I had nothing to offer… He is my God. He is the God of Plan B.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Y’know, Wolverine is an interesting mutant. His ability is not something he can set aside. His titanium endoskeleton is part of who he is – it would probably kill him to try and separate that aspect of who he is from the rest of him. That’s why Magneto has such terrible control over him. But for better or worse, he IS the Wolverine – no changing that fact.
For some reason, I have thought about my Faith in God recently. Is it something I do; is it something I can set aside if its not going the way I want it to; is it even something I could recant or apostate myself from if I wanted to? Is it even something I believe that I can just change my mind about? I have gone over some rocky terrain in my life lately – real 4WD kind of stuff – and have basically reinforced my knowledge (because I really already knew the answer to all those questions in my heart) that I am a changed creature. I have been mutated from the rest of humanity that are apart from Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are a new creation, but I am one of those people that tend to have to find things out on my own. And, like I recently told my little girl who thought VISITING kindergarten was great, but she was ready to go back to her daycare and Pre-k; I said, “Sorry, Honey, there’s no going back at this point.” It is the same for us spiritually, there is no more “going back” to your previous state of being spiritually than there is for a newborn babe to go back to THEIR previous state of being! That sounds a little crazy, but that is the way we tend to think about our Christianity sometimes. We think we will leave it in the briefcase while we are at work, or we can’t find 15 more minutes in the day to spend with GOD, or we are going to set it aside while we watch our sit-coms about homosexuality, or some people even think that they have done something so horrible, that GOD either won’t accept them in the first place or if they already were a Christian, then they must have been thrown off the boat for that one…
I really liked the illustration in our SS class last week. You’re either a parent or not. There is no ambiguity whether or not you have kids. You either do or you don’t. You can NEGLECT your duties as a parent, but you are STILL a parent. The same goes with our Christianity. Sometimes we neglect our responsibilities as Christians, but that does not change the core of who we are or what we are; it just makes us ineffective and miserable Christians.
This may sound like an extremely elementary spiritual point, but it is just one more assurance for me that I am HIS no matter how hard I get hit by the Enemy or the world. Nothing can change what GOD has mutated me into. I am a new creation. I believe this is the assurance that Paul felt when he said, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Friday, August 28, 2009
This is about Legalism, so if you came here for the other "L" word, sorry to disappoint, lol. Man, this is a huge subject, isn't it? It is so hard to encapsulate. Perhaps this should be the subject of a book, not a blog. I have been labeled many things over the years. I recall vividly the church I grew up in. We closely followed the Bible; we thought we were even fundamental in following God's Word. However, we were labeled "moderates". Since then, I have agreed with some people Theologically, and disagreed with others who often times felt it necessary to stick some kind of degenerate label on me for my beliefs. One thing I can say for my beliefs – they are tested by the Word, I don't ever just swallow a Theological pill that someone gives me just because of their high standing in the Religious Community. I happen to believe that that is one responsibility of mine as a priest of the Way. A priest you say? Yes, that's right. Remember the doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer? We are all our own priests in the Kingdom. As such, we are accountable for what we believe. Well, I won't follow that line of thought any further. That sounds like a subject for another blog at another time.
All of that is just to say that I personally think I KNOW the mind of Christ. I prefaced that statement with all of the other just so that it would not sound boastful. I think ALL believers should know the mind of their Savior.First, I think we should state the purpose of the Law. The Law was never given to "save" anyone. It was not like, if you can keep the Law perfectly, then you are going to Heaven. Why was it not like that? Because NO ONE can keep the Law perfectly, so it is a mute point anyway! The Law was given to HIGHLIGHT the sin in our lives – to make it crystal clear to us that we cannot be good enough on our own. Basically, the Law was given so that we would realize our need for God, our need for a Savior.Ok, that is the PURPOSE of the Law. However, as a redeemed people, we are FREE from the Law. Think about it – laws only have power when there is a penalty that coincides with breaking them. If there was no danger whatsoever of getting a speeding ticket, every interstate would turn into the Autobahn, because why should you pay attention to the speed limit if there was no penalty for not keeping it? What makes you watch your speed is the chance of paying a fine or having your license taken away, or possibly the safety factor of not causing a wreck. The penalty that coincides with breaking the Law, or sinning, is death. The Law has always demanded blood as a payment for disobedience. Since Jesus' sacrifice on the cross paid that blood sacrifice for EVERYONE for ALL TIME, past and future, there is no longer any penalty for not keeping the Law. If you had the wrong mindset, you might even call it a License to Sin. Just like James Bond has a "license to kill" which means that he cannot be prosecuted for killing someone – we (as Believers covered by the blood of Christ) cannot be prosecuted for breaking the Law. Ok, so we all agree at this point that the Law served a purpose, but that we are free from those terribly heavy chains of trying to keep that Law.I like what Pastor Charles said Sunday, that the Pharisees thought that if they made enough rules about what you could do, and about what you couldn't do, then following all of those thousands of rules would make you good enough to be in the presence of God. However, what they didn't realize was that they were making it that much more impossible to keep the Law by making even more of them! It just doesn't work.Ok, the next logical step from what I have said so far is that "believers" with their License to Sin, should be the worst, most depraved group of people on the earth since they are no longer worried about the consequences of their sin. However, that is not the case, is it? Why? Because we are governed by a NEW law – the Law of Love. Take note of the following verses:
Matt 22:37-4037 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."(NIV)
Ok, what is the Law of Love? Basically, if you perfectly love God the way you are supposed to, and you love your neighbor the way you are supposed to – then you don't need any more laws or rules because you are not going to do anything wrong anyway!!! Do you believe that is a true statement? If you love your neighbor the way Jesus commanded, then are you going to steal, murder, lie, covet, scam, injure, take advantage of, slander, or do any other hurtful thing to ANYONE? No. Because if something is potentially hurtful to others, then it does not fit, there is no room for it under the Law of Love. Ok, the Law was useful, we are free from the Law, we are governed by a new law given by Jesus Himself – the Law of Love.If we are now only governed by those two commandments given in the four Gospels, then everything in your life should be examined under that new light. Can you drink a beer? For you, does it violate either one of those two commandments? Can you eat Pork? Does it violate either one of those two commandments? Can I beat my kids? Does it violate either one of those two commandments? You get the idea. So you can begin to see how even though we are "free" from the Law, we are not free to do WHATEVER we want, we should have perfect love in our hearts for everyone we meet and, of course, for God. That is why the Bible says that perfect love defeats the fear of Judgment. Because if you are perfectly loving God and everyone else, then you will not commit any transgressions that will be brought up on Judgment Day (of course, they won't be brought up anyway if you have confessed them to GOD and asked His forgiveness – He promised to COMPLETELY FORGET them).
It may sound strange, but when I think of Legalism, I think of the parable of the two sons whose father asked them both to work in the fields. The first son said that he would work in the fields, then he never got around to it and didn't go. The second son said that he would NOT work in the fields, but ended up going anyway. Well, of course, the one who actually worked did the will of the father.In the same way, one man studies his Bible all day long until he can't see straight, then he goes to church and sings and listens to a sermon and speaks to his friends, then he goes home to study some more. A second man gets off work, stops to get a couple of beers, then sees a homeless man at an intersection. He gets the homeless man something to eat and puts him in a hotel room for the night, making sure all of his immediate needs are met. He does not push the Gospel down the man's throat, but he does let the man know that what he has done has been sponsored by his local church and given in the name of Jesus.Ok, who did the will of the Father? The guy going through his check list of things he thinks he is supposed to do, or the guy putting his love into action and helping somebody out. The Legalist would never get that far – he would still be caught up over the fact that the second man stopped for a couple of beers! However, I assure you that the second man is doing the will of the Father. That is not to say that anything the first man did was wrong. I believe in all of those things; reading the Word, corporate worship, etc. But if your life is not characterized by the Law of Love, then all of the "religious" things you do are no more meaningful than someone clashing symbols together all day long for no apparent reason. It is just a lot of noise.
Are you still legalistic? The next time you find yourself in the "judgment seat" concerning another person, ask yourself if that thing that has offended your fragile sensibilities actually violates the two premiere commandments (as if you should be judging anyone else anyway). Does it keep that person from loving God completely or from loving his neighbor completely? Or is it something more along the lines of keeping you from accepting that person completely? If it is, then it is more your problem than it is theirs.I challenge you to go one week applying that test to all of the things that really get under your skin. Legalism is a difficult tumor to remove from the mind. For some people, if it was removed there would be nothing left!! However, with practice and patience, and asking God to change your outlook, it CAN be done – and you will find yourself blessed more than you ever imagined possible.
It just always amazes me how God's word is still living and breathing! I don't know how many times I have heard lessons and sermons on being the "salt of the earth" or "being the light of the world" like this morning's sermon was on. But in all of the things I have ever heard of what being the "salt of the earth" means, I heard a new one today that really made me think!Charles said, what is one thing that salt does for you? It makes you thirst. If you are truly being the salt of the earth, you will make people thirst for God by the way you live. They will want more of what they saw in you. As simple as that is - it really spoke to me. Way to go Charles! Just goes to remind me that you can ALWAYS learn something new out of scripture - because it is dynamic - and it is the living Word of God!!!
We have been talking about Christian symbols in SS lately to some extent. We talked about how people SHOULD be wearing an empty tomb on their chains instead of a cross, since that is REALLY the crux of our Faith. Then, Jeff Beacham found some websites that actually make pretty cool jewelry of the empty tomb. I will have to post those URLs in another blog.Anyway, something happened to me the other day that was another eye opener for me. It doesn’t take much for something to be an eye opener for me – in fact, I must walk around most of the time with my eyes closed, it happens so much, lol. Well, on with the story…. We had a "work meeting" at Hooters a couple of weeks ago. It is an annual thing when the Sweet 16 basketball tournaments start up. We all go, talk about work for about 5 minutes, so we can call it a work meeting, then we eat hot wings and such, and watch basketball.As it happens, our waitress was the girl that has waited on us for the last 5 years at our meeting. So, she sat down and was talking with us, and she asked me if I was a Pisces. I thought, of course, that this was either a lame attempt at conversation or a lame attempt at hitting on me ( I don’t blame her for trying of course ). So I said, no, I am not a Pisces. So she replied, "Then why do you have a ring on that has two fish on it. That seems kind of odd." Well, needless to say, I was taken aback. I just pretty much fall into the realm of thought that everyone I see has either heard the Gospel and rejected it, or they have heard the Gospel and are a Christian. I don’t really leave room for another group of ppl right here in good ’ol McDonough, GA!!! So, anyway, I replied that the fish were based on a story out of Matthew, a book in the bible, where Jesus called his followers "fishers of men". She said, "Oh, I have never heard of that one." Can you believe as much as we take for granted the phrase "fishers of men" that there are ppl, thousands I am sure, here in town that have never heard of such a thing?! I have to say that that was a humbling experience, to know how many evenings I sit on my backside at home watching mindless T.V. or playing a mindless game on the PC when there are ppl less than 15 minutes away from me that have not even heard enough of the Gospel to make an educated decision whether to accept it or reject it. Forget Africa, Europe and the farthest reaches of the world…. We drive through a mission field every day of our sad, pathetic lives.I was looking at one of the web pages Jeff sent me last night, and it said "…how long has it been since someone asked you what your cross necklace means, or what it stands for?" I think that is a sad statement of our society, but it is true nonetheless, that even Porn stars and murderers wear crosses around their necks!!! It means NOTHING to the world. I challenge you to at least look at the Tomb jewelry, so that maybe you will have a "conversation starter" hanging around your neck instead of an icon of our degenerate society.
Danger!! Thin Ice!!
Category: Religion and Philosophy
I am sure you have all seen movies where something rolls out onto a "frozen" lake, then the ice cracks and it proceeds to fall through into the water below. And, if any of us saw a sign posted that read, "Danger! Thin Ice!", we would walk pretty carefully around that spot. The moral being that it wouldn’t take much for the thin veneer of ice to crack and then you would literally be up to your ears in trouble.Well, I never cease to surprise myself. And, even though that is usually said in a good way; I say it in the sense that I never cease to surprise myself how close I am to cracking! I feel like I ought to wear a "Danger – Thin Ice" sign on my head as I walk around. That is really disappointing as a Christian. You devote your life to the calling of Christ; to the learning of His ways; to hopefully bring your life into line with His values and His love; only to have all of that crash into a thousand shards when a little pressure is put on you. If you don’t know what I am talking about at this point; think about when you are driving, is there anything that makes you want to cuss the person in the other car? Are you ever in line at say The Cattle Crossing, I mean Wal-Mart and it just peeves you that everything is not moving faster? Have you ever called a "customer service" line, and about had steam coming out of your ears before you had finished your conversation? Whatever it is that makes you "lose it" sometimes, that is when you are "thin ice".I said earlier that the thin veneer of ice breaks and then you are in trouble. I hope that our Christianity is more than just a veneer over our lives, but it really concerns me (if I am being truthful with myself) how easily I am drawn into totally un-Christ-like behavior. The other day I actually lost my temper over a VIDEO GAME! I mean, what’s up with that, anyway?! Of course Michael, with his unerring insight into things heard me ranting about this and said, "So, if you are a good Christian, you are frozen solid and totally cold-hearted!" Ok, you know what I mean… Anyway, I think this is what Paul was talking about in Romans when he said:
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?25 Thanks be to God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.(NIV)
Is he basically saying, "The Devil made me do it"??? lol Well, I don’t know why the Old Nature seems to be so close under the surface sometimes, but I guess we just press on, and continue to try to become more like Christ. I think that is why we have to "take up our cross daily", because it really does take a fresh commitment every day to keep from slipping into our "old mode". Maybe the times when our ice gets too thin and ends up cracking will get farther and farther between as we grow more like Him. And, yes, Michael, maybe one day I will have a totally frozen, cold, heart!!! lol
Change God’s mind?
Category: Religion and Philosophy
Do you think God ever changes His mind? Remember, Him changing His mind is not the same as changing His will. My will might be to go from GA to TX. With the rising gas prices, however, I might change my mind about driving and decide to fly. Regardless of how I get to TX, my will has not changed, just the manner in which it is carried out. In the Old Testament on several occasions God was fed up with the Israelites for their grumbling and their faithlessness. He told Moses that He would destroy them and make Moses a new nation that would be His people. It was the intercession of Moses that "convinced" God to stay with the current plan. Moses was so passionate about the Israelites, that God honored him by including his wishes in His plan. God's will was to have a "chosen people" who would take the story of His redemption into the world. How that was accomplished could have been any number of ways without God compromising His "will". For us to think that we cannot ever "change" God's mind, is to say that we really don't have an interactive relationship with God at all. God is a relational being. That means He cares about our cares, our needs, and our passions. If our zeal, our passion, and our persistence never influenced God - then the very idea of prayer would be absurd. Some of the key components of prayer such as petition and intercession would just be so much hot air without the basic belief that we actually DO influence God's decisions.I hope you can embrace this Truth without confusing it with the immutability of God. God does not change - that is one of the things we worship about Him - that He is the same from age to age. God's plan for mankind does not change. His "endgame" doesn't change. For God to take us in to account in making His plans does not undermine in any way His being in control. Anyone disagree? lol. Go ahead. I dare ya.
Can’t see the forest....
Category: Religion and Philosophy
Y'know, I understand the need for Truth, and doing things the right way AND according to the scriptures. However, something bothered me awhile back, and this week's sermon just reminded me of it again.We had an Evangelist come to preach a revival recently, and one evening all he could do was to stress, emphasize, and hammer it home.... BEAT A DEAD HORSE, on the ORDER of your baptism, and your salvation. He said that if you made a decision, got baptized, then realized it was not a real salvation experience, and you came forward again, that it was emphatically necessary that you get baptized again, because technically the first one WASN'T true believer’s baptism! Well, first of all, it kind of freaked me out how much he was drilling on the subject. Yes, baptism is an outward expression to the World that you have chosen to follow Jesus. But when you start harping on it like that, and just become Church Nazi, then it seems to me you are placing more on the act than mere symbolism. If you think it is THAT important to have everything in the right order, are you suggesting that the ACT bestows part of the grace of salvation? If you "walked the isle" and then realized that it might not have been the real thing, the following REAL commitment is a matter of the heart between you and GOD; you have already shown the World that you wanted to follow Him. Why was it obviously so important to that evangelist that you would at that point need to show the world AGAIN, that you wanted to follow GOD? Ridiculous. This kind of legalism is what still really turns me totally OFF to modern Christianity, and makes me feel like I don't belong in a church anywhere. People like that totally miss the forest for the trees!!! I happen to have made a decision when I was 8 to "walk the isle" and be a follower of GOD, because my family and friends were followers of GOD, and I knew I wanted to do that too. Then, of course, I was baptized by my Dad in our little West Texas church. But I did not realize what everything meant at that age. It wasn't until 7 years later, that I had a "road to Damascus" type GOD confrontation that let me know the head knowledge-type decision I had made when I was 8 would not suffice. I had to come to the point of having a heart knowledge type of encounter with GOD for Him to really fulfill the empty places in my life.Now, as far as my family and friends knew, I had followed God since I was 8. Only God and I were aware of our later business together when I was 15, which I consider to be the age that I became a Christian. What would be the point to make someone like me go through baptism all over again? I have already done what baptism is supposed to do - I showed the world in a symbolic way that I wanted to put my old life behind me and follow Him. What POSSIBLE benefit could come from making that gesture again? I think that is asinine personally. My salvation is no less binding, I have no less portion of Grace, I am no less obedient to God, than any other Christian. And for someone to come in after I have loved God with all my heart for 27 years, and try to make me feel like a second-rate Christian because he doesn't like the order in which I did things really kind of pissed me off. I just feel like that is what modern-day Christianity has come to; so many people think it is important to get hung up on things like that instead of emphasizing the basic tenants of Christianity - the things that brought us all to Christ in the first place!!! I tend to side with Billy Graham on this one (if the evangelist could name drop all through his messages, then I can too, lol) - he said if he could do it all over again, he would not ever be seen with a world leader, he would not worry about anything else but getting across to lost people the fact that God loves them, and He gave his Son for them. The last thing I think we should be doing is attacking the people that are already in the fold. I'll get off of my soapbox now. The end. But that really did tick me off, lol, and Charles' message on baptism just brought it all back! Ok, ok, i DID say "the end".
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
1 Pet 3:15
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Be ready to give an answer for the Hope that is in you (which is your Faith)….
I had an unusual experience today. I had just gotten into my car after leaving a grocery store, when a nicely dressed man approached my car. He was holding a pamphlet of some kind, so I opened my door so he could speak. He said, "This is a religious brochure, I thought you might look over it when you have time." In turn, I replied, "Are you a Jehovah's Witness?" and he answered "yes." Then I said, "Well then, I won't be needing this, I don't believe Jehovah's Witnesses are a Christian religion." The man just kind of stammered and said, "Ummm, ok", and he turned around and went back to his car, no doubt, getting ready to ambush the next person who came out of the store.
I said this was an unusual experience. Definitely not the part where a Jehovah's Witness approached me, that happens all the time. The part I found unusual was when he didn't have a quick response to my statement that I didn't believe he belonged to a Christian religion. Jehovah's Witnesses ALWAYS have a quick, appropriate, taken-out-of-context response to any objections raised about their religion! I must have run into the one guy that failed his class on "Quick Responses in the Field – 101." I was all ready to explain to him WHY I didn't believe his religion belonged to those of Christianity, but I didn't have to, because he was not prepared to give an answer for what he believed.
I wonder how many Christians even give their best shot at trying to witness (and most don't even go that far) only to meet slight resistance, and they turn away mumbling, "ummm, ok, sorry to bother you." We are supposed to be READY, prepared, informed, WILLING to give an answer for the Hope that is within us.
If someone were to say they didn't think Baptists were a Christian denomination, could you tell them the basic tenets of Christianity and what we as a denomination believe about them? I am willing to bet the percentage of people who identify themselves as Christians AND who are ready to give an answer for their Faith is alarmingly low. Have you ever thought about what you would say if someone asked about your Faith? Would you direct them to one of the church staff, or would you sit down with them right then and there and explain the process of salvation? I think that is a good question to ask ourselves. And, if you are not prepared to give an answer, to actively start on the road to finding out what you believe and why you believe it. I hope no one ever loses the opportunity to bring someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ just because they don't know anything about what they believe, but unfortunately I am sure it happens all the time.
Please don't be the person God puts in that critical place to share His love with someone, and then have to respond, "ummm, ok, sorry to bother you." Learn what you need to or just share your personal testimony, but GIVE AN ANSWER FOR THE HOPE THAT IS WITHIN YOU.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
My Alzheimer’s is in Recession!!!
My Alzheimer’s Is In Remission…
Have you ever known someone with Alzheimer’s? If you have, then you know what a terribly debilitating disease it is. My Great Uncle had it, and basically died of it. When we would go and see him, he never would recognize who we were; not even my Dad who was one of his favorite nephews. We would sit with him the first 10 or 15 minutes of every visit going over with him the name of his sons, and then the fact that my Dad was one of their sons, and I was his son. Then, occasionally, a lucent few moments would come over Uncle George, and you could just see the relief and understanding in his eyes. However, always just underneath his joy at having a little coherent time with his family; was a deep sadness because he knew his clear state of mind was only temporary. It still breaks my heart to think of Uncle George that way, and most of the time I DON’T think of him that way – I think instead of the times we had when he was healthy.
Do you ever wonder why we get so emotional when we really come in contact with God? I think it was Paul who wrote that this life is like a reflection of the life to come. I don’t personally think that is even a close description of the chasm that is between this life and the next. We are so entangled in the things of this world, that I believe at best, we could be described most of the time as having Spiritual Alzheimer’s. Think about it, God is in and around His creation all of the time, but how often do we recognize Him? Most of the time, He has to sit us down and explain who He is and how everything we know and "possess" came into being because of Him. We are in a perpetual state of spiritual confusion and disorientation. If we weren’t we would be walking around with something akin to the countenance of Moses when he came back from seeing the passing Glory of God – because we would see God all around us, too.
I had a few coherent moments with God lately. I think preparing for and praying for the revival put me as much in touch with God as the revival messages themselves did. And when I had those lucid moments with God, when my mind and heart touched Him; amidst the joy, I wondered why I found myself weeping and feeling an underlying sadness. After much introspection, I discovered that the sadness came from the realization that those moments of spiritual clarity when I came close to the GLORY of God were only temporary, fleeting glimpses – brief moments of understanding of how "in control" God is, and how trivial everything else seemed in His presence. Just the knowledge that I would soon sink back down into my Spiritual Alzheimer’s and away from that glory was a damper on the experience itself. But, then, I find a residual joy from those experiences also. Just stopping from time to time in my everyday life to recall the joy of being in the presence of God makes me smile. Then, to realize that one day we will go to reside in the very presence of His 500 billion watt GLORY 24/7 for eternity. That those brief glimpses of God’s glory that we catch on earth, will be just another day in Heaven – that gives me the kind of joy that keeps me going through this fog of life. It also makes me strive to walk closer to Him every day so that those glimpses come more and more often.
Hopefully, it won’t take another "revival" for me to keep my Alzheimer’s in remission!!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
0 to 60 one day a week!!!
I have been doing a lot of yard work lately. Trying to get our little space reclaimed from all of the plants and bugs!!! Well, yesterday I rented a garden tiller. Not some small wimpy tiller, this was the Monster Truck of tillers! Marti left me to work on the yard while she took Trev to his baseball game. When she got home several hours later, I was crashed on the porch furniture (of course, I did get the tilling done). I told her I was completely worn out and sore from fighting the tiller all morning and from swinging the grubbing hoe so much. She said, "Well, hon, you just can't go from 0 to 60 one day a week. You have to take it easy at your age!"
Well, I don't know what men "my age" should or should not do, but the 0 to 60 comment got me thinking.... We expect people to go from 0 to 60 in a lot of things, don't we? I think a lot of times we concentrate so hard on reaching people for Christ, and leading them to a point of doing business with God, and getting them baptized, so we can send numbers in to the SBC and say, "We are a growing church!" Then we throw them on to the Christian autobahn and tell them to drive before they get run over or ran off the road!!! Occasionally, when someone joins the church whom Michael and I have visited, I ask him if we get commission for that "closing". However, I think the joke may be on us instead. What happens when all you do is concentrate on conversions? Then, you reach a point where you want to have two Sunday School times, and you need twice the amount of teachers, and who is in the pool to choose from? A lot of spiritual babies who are still feeding on the milk of the Word, instead of being discipled on into the meat of deeper doctrines.
I think the programs are there. We have Sunday night bible study cycles - and that is exactly what they are - discipleship. I also like the Sunday School setting. That is a lot more personal atmosphere where people can ask their questions, and learn how to put their Christianity into practice. That is, as long as the material is presented in a way that reaches the "babies" as well as the "meat eaters". I have heard a lot of people with no biblical background say that they are totally lost in Sunday School, because teachers assume they know the setting, or the story, or teaching that is being discussed.
But are we doing enough? Are we as churches producing mature Christians that can go out and lead more people to Christ? I don't think we are cranking out mature Christians at the same rate that we are accepting new people into the Fellowship. I wonder sometimes if we shouldn't adopt some kind of Paul and Timothy type discipleship program where all new believers and even transfers of letter are appointed a more mature Christian in the church to disciple them. It would keep new members and believers from splashing around in the pool wondering what to do and where to go. It would also be a type of accountability for the more mature believers. That "Timothy" would expect to see you at each service, they would expect to hear what new words you had heard from the Lord this week - and if you are not spending TIME with the Lord, then you ain't hearing no new words! I don't know. I just look around at some of the people in our church that never open their mouths at all - even in a small group of believers - when they are asked their thoughts on a subject. Can that be because they don't HAVE any thoughts? LOL I hope not. But I wonder sometimes if they are so insecure in what they believe that they think they will embarrass themselves if they open thier mouths? How long will they feel like that? What are we doing to change that? What are THEY doing to change that? Whose responsibility is it to dislodge them from that point, so that they can continue their discipleship? Like I said - I don't know. I just got to thinking about all of this today and decided to blog. Like Marti said, it is therapy for me to sit down and write. It clears my foggy head!!!