Popular Posts

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It begins with a kiss

My son is an emotional little guy. He went through this phase at school where he was crying when my husband or I would leave him. I realized he had gotten over that one morning when  I put the key in the ignition, backed down the driveway and turned to see a small hand waving wildly in his bedroom window and a big smile on his face. I blew him a kiss and  he continued to blow me one until I headed down the road.  He still continues this as part of his morning ritual ( he cries when he doesn't get to do that.) I savor this special moment between us, because I know there will come a day when that window will be empty and his mind will instead be filled with  friends and blowing kisses to his girlfriend instead of to me.
Isn't that the way it should be with our Father?  I wish I  could say I spend the time I need with God every morning, but I rush too much in the morning and my mind is filled with other things. I need to savor my moments with my Father and blow Him a kiss in the morning before I leave, to show Him how much I love Him.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

introduction to the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

Imagine you are  riding the pristine waters of the Tiberian Sea.  As you overlook the  horizon, the sun greets you with a warmth  known only  in this part of the world. Your boat bobs and sways as you inhale the mixture of salt and sand  common to someone in your line of work. You wipe the sweat off your brow  as you pull your net from the newly disturbed waters,  struggling to contain your catch of the day.  You sneak a peek at the shore to find a  strangely familiar figure  standing on the edge. You know who has filled your net to overflowing.  Your chest fills with excitement as your heart races to keep up with your equally rapid pulse.  Your tongue touches the roof of your mouth and scrambles to find the words to communicate all your mind is thinking. You utter  the one word unknown to your present company,  yet bonds you and the stranger together forever.
            The figure standing on the shore is Jesus. And you are the disciple whom Jesus loved.
            I wish I could say the main character in this story is me and that I am writing  about a familiar exchange with my Lord.   I would love to say that. I exhibit  the same attributes of John, the man whom most scholars agree is the disciple whom Jesus loved.

I wish I could say that.  But, I can’t. Not now, anyway.
I don’t think I have the same kind of relationship John and Jesus had as they spent time together during Jesus’ ministry.   They had something special. They had the kind of relationship that allowed John to proudly refer to himself  on several occasions in his own writing as the disciple whom Jesus loved.

Now, at first glance, this might seem a bit  haughty of John. I mean, John had that kind of  attitude already right?  Fighting with his brother over whom would sit at Jesus’ right hand and calling fire down  on soldiers who would not receive Jesus are  common actions of this prominent leader and  trusted friend of Jesus.

But, John had  qualities the other disciples didn’t.  Things like loyalty, willingness, and faithfulness. These were the things to which  John became most known.  He exuded these qualities, and these qualities ,in turn, were the pillars to which the church he founded as pastor.   He loved Jesus.  And Jesus loved him.

I’m not saying Jesus doesn’t love me. I know he does.  I’ve seen His unintelligible grace and unfailing mercy during the darkest hours of my days.  I have also seen His abundant provision and blessing with which I have been able to bless others.  I know He loves me. I’ve seen it too much to deny it.

I may not be the disciple that Jesus loved yet, but I’m getting there. I’m trying. Everyday I wake up  on the hunt for the broken and the oppressed.  I find opportunities to  meet the needs of those who need it  and I do it.   Or, at least I try.  My heart’s desire is to know Jesus in the same intimate way as John and  I live my life in faithfulness to this desire.

That is the reason why I am writing this book.  As I muddle through this  journey toward a deeper walk with  Christ,  I want to share my  thoughts and struggles with you.  Maybe you will learn from them and not make the same mistakes I  have made.  Or,  perhaps you will find yourself running with a fervor and desire that compels you to run to see your Savior  more quickly than me. My prayer is for the latter.

Come aboard this boat and journey with me and put on  the characteristics that made John this brother of Jesus.  Then, we can sail until we reach our  final destination: becoming the disciple whom Jesus loved. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Becoming a Treasure in Jars of Clay 3

This week's Community episode was about Jeff, played by Joel McHale, taking beginner pottery, which was his blowoff class for the semester. He thought he would be able to do it no problem, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't make the projects. Another cool guy in his class with one touch can make these beautiful vases. Jeff even stays after school one day to hone his skill, but to no avail.
The point is that he couldn't manufacture his art no matter how hard he tried. In art, as well as life, either you have the talent or you don't. You can learn one,  but people who have an artistic talent, for example, naturally are just creative. Paul writes in 11 corinthians 4:7, that we are jars of clay, that hold the treasure (the gospel). It is a natural part of them. We can't preach what we don't know. Either you know him, or you don't.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm already a winner

I was engaging in a routine prayer time when something life changing took place. During this prayer time, I'd asked God why he was calling me to write a book. In His still, quiet voice, He said "You asked me for this."

 You see, I didn't come to know Christ until I was eighteen. I was always a shy, quiet child. Writing was the voice I could never seem to find growing up. When I became a Christian, and the Holy Spirit did His rejuvenating work in my life, He made me into a completely different person. He gave me my voice, I and felt that God was going to use me in a way different than writing. I sang on a worship team at my church, and assumed that was my new place in the Christian world. I had limited God and His choice for my life. As I flipped through my masterpiece, I rejoiced in the fact that my gracious God chose to forgive me. I am now committed to this new path, and want to allow God to use me however he chooses.

Besides writing a bit of poetry for my high school literary magazine, I 'd never written anything of this magnitude.  I told myself I would not write again after those poems. I'd closed myself off to writing and replaced it with other venues, and God honored my request. I tried to write again in my own strength, but nothing came to me. I repented of cutting myself off from this gift, but nothing happened. at first. I then said to Him if he wanted to use me to write a book, he could do so. It didn't happen at first, but then one ordinary day last fall, God said "It's time." I was hesitant at first, fully expecting this to be a project that took many years to complete. But, I wanted to be obedient to whatever God had for me in this venue. To date, I've just printed off my 130 page manuscript.

So, here I am, with a book that I can attribute to nothing else but the Holy Spirit's power sitting on my bedroom dresser and no opportunity to sit before a publisher. Proverbs 31 Ministries and Lysa TeurKeurst is holding their annual conference in Concord North Carolina July 30- August 1 to give women the opportunity to hone their writing and speaking skills ( for more info, see http://lysaterkeurst.blogspot.com or www.proverbs31.org ). One of the things this conference also provides is the opportunity to sit in front of a publisher for a 15 minute initial interview. The publisher might take one look at it and pass it right back to me across the table without a second glance. Or maybe, just maybe, he might be interested.

 Whether or not I win this scholarship doesn't really matter. It would be great if I did, with my husband's recent pay cut and small part time job I could really use the break. The main thing, though, was that I responded to God's calling in obedience and came away with a finished product. In that sense, I'm already a winner.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Be intellectually honest

I have been watching this season of American Idol, and have already picked who i think should be in the forefront to go to the finals. But, I have a question? When did screaming become singing? Siobhan Darcy does nothing but scream the last notes of every song, and the judges, for the most part, love it.  They did the same thing with Adam Lambert last year. It is like they have her pegged as the female Adam Lambert. Three years ago, they would have said it was screechy, now it is the cat's meow?
My point is that I'm tired of being told who has talent and who doesn't simply because the judges, who know talent, tell me they do. It was the same last year, and frankly, I'm not buying it.
in the same way, it is with our walk with Christ. Do I do things simply because the Bible says so? Or because a pastor tells me to? Doesn't that seem a bit intellectually dishonest?
I'm not against the bible, and try my hardest to follow it. But, because I read something, doesn't mean it is necessarily good to do it.
I read a bumper sticker that said " God said it, I believe it, that settles it".  While I understand the sentiment behind it, there are many leaders that misinterpret the bible. Should I believe them too simply because they said so?
I need to be intellectually honest and wrestle through it and to chew on it like " spiritual meat", not " spiritual milk".  If it jives with my beliefs, then I can accept it. There is nothing wrong with questioning, my questioning allowed my conversion experience to take place.
I hope you do the same.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Becoming a Treasure in Jars of Clay 2

Now, I realize that the “ believers who were added to their number” were never named in those writings. But, am I wrong to think  that at least some of those believers of whom Jesus and the apostles healed and drove out demons came to attend a church service or two? That is the essence of apprenticeship: teaching someone the skills and tools necessary to complete a task and then allowing them to invest all that they have learned into another willing vessel. Apprenticeship can never end with the student keeping all that he has learned to himself. It is only as successful as the person who learns instilling those tools into the life of another eager student.
Matt Smay and Hugh Halter, authors of The Tangible Kingdom address the difference between discipleship and apprenticeship. “ It’s surprising, then that that much of what we call discipleship training involves learning concepts individually with little emphasis on the practical implementation of the knowledge. Not only has discipleship become passive, but it has also been tailored to fit the consumer lifestyle. It costs very little in most contexts to become a disciple- attending a class, completing a workbook, or completing a program. What we need is a new definition of discipleship. What if discipleship became more costly in terms of time, effort, relationships or finances? What if it became a real apprenticeship?” (151).
The current problem with discipleship is that there is no risk for the individual.  Apprenticeship is only as good as the student’s willingness to learn the trade.  No one learns a trade or skill they have no interest in using at a later time.  The student must have a willingness and a passion for the subject, or else they have no vested interest in passing their skills on to someone else.
 Another aspect to good apprenticeship is to put those skills into practice. Smay and Halter go on to say “ while it is good to learn about becoming a disciple, there is significantly more that can only be understood through practice.”  Apprenticeship can only work if a student puts the skills they learn to good use. As Christians, we are called to invest in the lives of others. Titus 2: 3-5  says "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God".

There are a couple of things I noticed in these verse. The first is that both older and younger women are in need of training and learning.  When I say older or younger, I do not mean the color of your hair or the amount of wrinkles on your face. In this context, it means spiritually older or younger, or the ones who are already exhibiting these attributes.  These are the ones not gossipping about her neighbor, not conducting themselves like the world,  but loving their husbands and children , self- controlled,  not lazy, etc. If the  Holy Spirit is not already there doing His rejuvenating work in us, the world will see nothing different about us. There is nothing to attract them.  The church, which by the way is the people of God, not the building you meet in, must be made blameless. It starts with us. Revival starts in our hearts. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

John the Apprentice

John was a fisherman, as seen in Matthew 4:18-22, along with his brother and his father. So, Christ did not see him in an unusual place when He asked him to “follow me!” . John must have been used to being in an aprenticeship role, having learned the trade from his dad. From what we know from Scripture about how they made disciples back then, John probably went out on the boat with his dad and fished with him, learned how to drop and lift the net in the proper way so as not to lose fish, etc. So, when Christ says “ I will make you fishers of men” , it wasn’t a foreign concept to him. But, the thing that set John apart from the other 10 disciples was that he and his brother “ left their father and their boat”( verse 22).
            Jesus’ definition of apprenticeship seems a bit more like Christian boot camp then hands-on- learning. In Luke 9:1-6, Jesus first gives the twelve people who agreed to leave everything and everyone behind the ability to do what He had been doing: to drive out demons and heal the crowds. Then he tells them to take nothing with them, rely on the people that they minister to and that there will be people who won’t welcome or like them. The response? They did it! The twelve, including John set out for the villages, fully aware they were preparing for their slaughter.
I always wondered how someone made the cut to be in Jesus’ circle of disciples. The bible tells us there were many people who followed Jesus and whom he called disciples. In one of Jesus’ daily journeys into town to meet the needs of the people there, he tells one who called himself a disciple: “ Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8: 22). Jesus’ definition of a disciple and theirs were completely different. I believe what separated this disciple from the twelve that knew Jesus was their desire. They were willing to give up family, friends, jobs, money, security and the safety of their current situations for nothing more than the hope of becoming more like a man who raised people from the dead, cured the sick and gave hope to the hopeless.
The essential ingredient to making a disciple is for someone who not only has the knowledge and experience in that field but also the willingness to share that knowledge with someone else. In fact,  anyone who takes the apprentice role in any situation must have a desire to learn the trade. If that is missing, the mentor- apprentice relationship falls flat.
John did not simply learn from Jesus and keep what he learned to himself. He continued on with Christ’s example and took what he learned and invested it in the lives of others, particularly Peter. The four gospels mention John being linked with Peter more than nine times. I can only imagine the kind of conversations that went on between these two on their journeys with the Lord. Anytime someone spends an extended amount of time with someone, a deeper relationship is bound to flourish. No doubt John and Peter were teaching each other about what it meant to be a disciple.
Since John was an apprentice and later became a pastor, shepherding was in his blood. The art of taking people under his wing and teaching them all he knew was a natural part of who he was. To deny this character trait was to deny the very person of John.
            Peter was a great person to have by his side. John records Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter in John 21:13-17. In this account, Jesus asks Peter to become like a shepherd and to “ feed his sheep”.  Jesus states plainly that in order to be His disciple, He must care for the people Jesus had spent three years caring for: His church 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Devoted to the fellowship

Some of my closest friends are not from my workplace, or school or even within my family. Some of my closest friends have and are in my church. And that is the way it should be. According to the Early Church, they were devoted to the fellowship. When you are devoted to something, people know it. They become closer to you and share more intimate thoughts with you. This builds a level of trust that can only be achieved with self- disclosure.
Jesus' method of discipleship included sending people out two by two. I can only imagine the bonds that form when you are walking with someone in and out of towns.
It seems fitting that if you are devoted to the fellowship of your church, those bonds will form with those people, too.
What would it take for you to be devoted to your church fellowship?

Friday, March 19, 2010

They were devoted to the breaking of bread

Now, I like to eat just as much as anyone, but to be devoted to it is another story. Yet, the Early Church made it a priority.
Do you remember as a kid sitting around the table eating supper together as a family? I do. There was rarely a tome when we didn't eat dinner together. but, that is where the bonding really took place. Even now, as I have children, we will have dinner around 6 pm to talk about our days and have a real conversation. See, everything stops when we are having dinner. In that half hour, I'm not concerned about work or the next thing I have to do. The only thing I am focused on is chowing down. I don't know if what conversations went on during the Early Church, but is that from what the prayers were based? 
Now, I think the verse here might mean the communion aspect ( celebrating Jesus' body and blood) here, that they were devoted to keeping Christ the center and " remembering" Him, but what if they did eat dinner together? Is that so far fetched? Jesus was called a glutton on a few accounts for His love of eating with His people. 
So, if Jesus' ministry oftentimes revolved around filling His face, shouldn't ours too?
What kind of conversation will you have around your dinner table tonight?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Becoming a treasure in Jars of Clay

I hate play dough. I do. My kids, however, love it. They love it because it feels great, it smells like  a sugary treat, and it comes in an array of bright neon colors,. It is every kid’s dream, and every parent’s nightmare. I like the fact that the kids have so much fun with it. What I don’t like is the mess it leaves behind on the table, floor, and carpet. The kids inevitably step in it and it becomes molded to the fine nap of the carpet and makes an imprint on the soles of their shoes. It is so difficult to remove because it naturally molds into whatever it makes contact.
            2 Corinthians 4:7 says “ But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” I am reminded of this verse as I think about the idea of play dough. Play dough is so easy to mold into whatever the holder wants to create it to be. The play dough never puts up a fight to become what it wants to become. In fact, its ingredients , or the things that make it up allow it to yield to the object in which it interacts.  That could be the holder’s hand, the table,  or any other object that leaves an imprint. My kids love the character play dough molds because they can press the play dough and instantly make the shape of the desired character.
In the same way play dough does this, so does clay. In this context, Paul writes it is because of God’s mercy that they live uprightly: they have renounced shameful ways, they have not been dishonest with anyone, or perverting God’s Word.  He then goes on to say that he knows their hearts –they are light in darkness in jars of clay so that people will know it is Him and not them,. I believe he uses this analogy to show that their hearts are yielded towards God’s power to use them and to accomplish His work in their lives 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Devoted to Prayer

This is a hard one to talk about myself, given I don't pray nearly as much as I should. I have often meditated on what the bible means to " pray without ceasing." I try hard to pray for those who come to my mind during the day, but I don't always do that. Yet, the Early church met every day in the temple courts. I'm sure all those in attendance were prayed for and people cared enough to ask them about how they were the next day. But, what does that mean for us today? I know I am not devoted as I should be to prayer. So, how do I change that? How do I change my character so that I am compelled to pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Devoted to the Apostles' teaching

Acts 2:42-47 gives an incredible picture of the church's desired model:"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
The first thing in this passage is they were devoted to the apostles' teaching.  Notice apostles is plural.It wasn't only one person led the whole group. All of them had something to contribute and they all learned from each other. Intergenerational mentorship was huge back then. They valued their elders as well as those younger than themselves. They taught each other how to live Godly lives and they depended on each other.  No one was immune from being used to edify the group. This is very different from today, where everyone expects the pastor do all of the work. When their expectations are not, they go to the next church with the fancier service. What ever happened to being " devoted"? Yesterday I mentioned it means to take a vow. In other words you were linked with these people for the long haul. 
Are you " devoted" to your church body? 

Monday, March 15, 2010

AHA Moments

I was watching tv last night and saw a commercial for the "aha" moment.  The commercials were for new products and services that people may not know about. But, I was thinking about how many aha moments I have had in regards to life, the Bible and God.  For example, looking at the Acts church and how they modeled life in the Kingdom. It was like they needed each other to get through the daily routine of life. That was my aha moment. Or reading a verse for the hundredth time and seeing it differently. I have had these aha moments many times, but each time it is like experiencing it for the first time.
What is your latest aha moment?

Friday, March 12, 2010

They were devoted

According to Merriam Webster's dictionary, the word devoted means " to commit by a solemn act", " vow". That word reminds me of the vows I took on my wedding day.  I promised to love, honor and cherish my husband, to stay loyal to him, through thick and thin, 'till death do us part. Those are serious words, and ones too often we take too lightly. Similarly, the Early Church " devoted" themselves "to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer." They were in it and were willing to stick by each other through thick and thin. However, as Christians, we think it is OK to flit in and out of churches whenever the worship changes styles, or the pastor changes, or we don't like the color scheme. This is simply not how the model of the church is supposed to be. Think about it. If we stuck by each other no matter what, wouldn't people be drawn to us? Wouldn't people want to go to church, and have a relationship with the One, whom emulated by His people during their most difficult trials?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm done!

I'm done. At least with the initial phase of this book. I'm dropping my VERY ROUGH draft off to the editor this morning.  I was looking at it last night in awe, I can't attribute this accomplishment to anyone but the Holy Spirit. Even if no one looks at it, to say " I have written a book" is something I never thought I would hear myself say.  I'm hoping the revisions are something that I can wrap my head around enough to answer the questions and fill in the missing gaps I may have missed. In July, I'm hoping to attend a conference on North Carolina, which allows me a 15 minute interview with  2 Christian publishers. I'm hoping to be ready by then. I'm praying that they like the concept and want to work with me on revisions. I'm really excited!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

He loved the church

the more I read about John, the more I realize how much he loved the church. He talked about " if you continue to do what is sinful, you are of the devil", yet, for those who " obey his commands" Jesus' blood will redeem them. Now, he is not saying that you are perfect, but if you look in the context of the writings of 1 John, he wrote while the pervading idea of Gnosticism was prevalent at the time. This was the idea that you can know God, but that he, or any other god, is not more important than the others, and that there is no moral code with which to live your life. John was speaking to the people who remained in the church after the split and telling, in no uncertain terms, what is right and what is wrong, so they would not be dissuaded. He loved the church. Yet, today, I hardly hear about people loving each other enough to tell ( or hear) this word from God. It is a gutsy move on John's part. He risked others leaving as well. Yet, he did. Good for him. Shame on us if we don't act in the same manner.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Every day they met in the temple Courts

I stayed home from church yesterday because I wasn't feeling well, something I hardly ever do. And you know what? I don't think about God and His word as much as I normally do. Is it simply because our church is set up to encourage dialogue and that the pastor ( my husband) throws out questions to think about and discuss?  I think it is more because we are supposed to be in community with the body of believers. That's the way the Acts Church was set up : "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." I have always been struck by the word "every day they met. " It was like they knew meeting together was essential to getting through their daily routine. 
Why do we throw away our opportunity to commune with each other on a weekly basis?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Just along for the ride

So, I'm at the tail end of my rough draft for my book. It is amazing as I'm piecing it all together to see how much I have gotten done in such a short length of time. I know the hard part begins now ( the editing process) but at least the majority of my concepts are down on paper and out of my head. I am excited to see what he journey looks like that is ahead of me.
i guess i am more floored by the work of the Holy Spirit. I can't even pretend for a moment that I did this. The Holy Spirit has been guiding this entire process. I am just along for the ride.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love in the midst of rejection

John loved Jesus.  We know this from all of his dealings and his willingness to be obedient.  However, we know Jesus loved John, too.  John knew to love Jesus was not just doing a bunch of stuff for him.  John knew he also had to love His bride, to become the disciple whom Jesus loved. In fact, John was the apostle who said “ Love one another” more times than any other person. He also said “ We love because He first loved us.” If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. ( 1 John 4:19-20 ).  John knew Jesus’ love. He experienced it first hand. And that was enough.  He loved the church based on Jesus’ love for him.
It wasn’t easy. I’m sure John shed many tears over the church for those people who left because they didn’t like what he was teaching. They were a part of him and the fellowship. In fact, the first few lines of  1 John says “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” He couldn’t even experience the joy and contentment that comes with knowing Christ because those people were not reconciled to the body.  I can’t imagine the great pain he must have felt when his own members started a revolt against him.  It was probably comparable to the great pain he must have felt watching his best friend suffering on that cross.  But, John knew what it meant to love.  He knew it wasn’t self-centered. He didn’t think about himself in that situation. If he had, he would have deserted him just like the other eleven disciples.  But, he didn’t He stood and watched every agonizing minute. He even volunteered to take care of Jesus’ grieving mother because he needed someone to care for her.   It must have been difficult to see the pain of relationships from Jesus.  At the end of his ministry, Jesus’ followers all left because the message got too hard, and the cost became too great.   Jesus gave and gave and gave some more. His reward? Rejection.  John stood by his side and learned from the best mentor he would ever know.  He also knew that in order to be a disciple, he would have to endure the same pain and suffering. He would have to subject himself to the same type of rejection. He also knew he had to follow Jesus’ example and love anyway.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

We are children of God

"  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! For that is what we are...." ( 1 John 3:1).
I have been reflecting on this as I'm doing background info. on the letters of John for my book. John was a pastor who planted churches in  and around Ephesus.  He had some harsh words to say for those in his church body, especially because he was writing it in the middle of a church split. I am floored by how many times he calls those that don't love each other liars. And people think I am harsh in dealing with them! But, then the tone changes in chapter three, and he calls us to remember who we are in Him, and that is we are His children, and he loves us.
Now, I can't imagine the pain John felt as his own people rose up against him. But, he chooses to remind us of this truth in the midst of his pain. He chooses to live out what he is telling these people to do. He chooses to be a model for them.
Are you living in the truth that you are God's child? Do you act as a model for this in the midst of pain and trial?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I am Pro-Life

We have bigger fish to fry. The problem in society today is not that people believe erroneous things about the Bible. If it was, we would all be in trouble, because I'm sure we all believe something that does not completely align with the true intention of the writing. The problem with the world moving away from biblical principles is that we don't live out what we preach. I heard a quote that says " the single most cause of atheism  in the world today is christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, then deny them by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. "  If you believe, for example, in pro-life, then you must be pro ALL life, not just babies. This means you must love people in your church, be gracious to those around you, and be other-centered in everything.  The founder of Salvation Army, William Booth, left a note for an anniversary. He is too sick to attend, so he sent a telegram not to be opened until that day. When the person who received it opened it, he found one word on it : others.
That is what the Salvation Army stands for today. No one denies that. they see the proof all around them.
Do they see the proof of what you are living for in your life as you live amongst them?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We have bigger fish to fry 2

I listened to the interview that the pastor conducted with William young in its entirety after I read his blog posting, and what I found most interesting is that penal substitution is the only problem he still had with the book after the interview. He questioned him on Young's view of women, his concept of hell, that Jesus " did not die to make us Christian", etc. Yet, penal substitution is the only problem that still remained ( and Young even said " Not many people are getting stuck on this same issue").
According to Merriam Webster's dictionary (www.merriam-webster-dictionary.com), the definition of a heresy is a a " self-imposed question" of a belief of an orthodox position of a church. If that is the case, we are all heretics. we all have questioned the bible or the church in one form or another on something. Anyone who is gone against the bible on anything, if their church's doctrine states that the bible is the inerrant word of God, is a heretic.  Even Jesus was branded a heretic by the religious leaders.  anyone who is thinking outside of the box in any denomination will be branded one as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

We have bigger fish to fry

So, I've been reading a blog posting from David Westerfield, a pastor who conducted an interview with William Young, the author of the shack. He was talking about the seemingly heretical components of the book. As much as I appreciate his desire to not allow Christians to go astray, I wondered as I was reading it, and the response of the person who reposted it, did they ever stop to think the reason why people are so enthralled with books like the Shack and the DaVinci code?  People still want God. In general, anyway. But, the church has failed to create an environment for people to experience God in a way that is meaningful to them.  For example which would resonate most with people, the response of the person who reposted it calling this generation " adulterous and perverse", or calling the Shack one of our gods? Where is the good news in that? If that us all people are hearing, ( which is biblical, but old testament, not new) how can they gravitate towards a God whom they believe calls them that? I saw a couple of my friends becoming fans of the FB page " I might be going to hell, but at least my friends will be there." That is a sad state in our world. I think we have bigger fish to fry than whether or not the Shack is heresy.  Where are people speaking out about the heresy of that? Why doesn't someone tell them " If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone the new is come." Why doesn't anyone care about those people?