Monday, September 24, 2007

Loving the Lost

I learned yesterday how important it is for all of us who consider themselves to be followers of Jesus to be reaching out to the lost around us no matter where we are or what we are doing. In Matthew 27:37-40, Jesus sums it all up.
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind'. This is the first and greatest commandment. And
the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. All the Law
and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

In our churches in America it is so easy to just wander in and wander out week by week and never reach out to those around us. But look at the second command above... if we are to truly love our neighbor (those around us in the work or social setting), shouldn't we be concerned for their eternal destiny? Remember good works doesn't cut it. They can be a 'good' person in the eyes of society and yet be heading straight down the path of eternal damnation. Do I care? I better if I truly stand on the commandments above.

God, today show me how I can reach out to someone around me. I don't want to do this under my own power though and certainly not for my own glory. I want to be obedient to You. Please open the doors and give me a gentle nudge to act... to love my neighbor as myself.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

5 C's That Can Change the World (One is CONNECT)

In church last night the 5 C's came up yet again. These 5 C's are being continually brought up because Jesus was the perfect model to change the world around us. His model can be condensed to 5 C's. They are:
  1. Commit - to be a growing follower of Jesus.
  2. Celebrate - and live the fulfilling lifestyle.
  3. Connect - to others in personal vibrant relationships
  4. Communicate - the good news to everyone everywhere
  5. Contribute - your time, passion, talents and possessions

I didn't like it at first when these were mentioned. Not sure why but I guess that it was probably conviction on my part. I was convicted that one of these C's was something that I didn't do and really didn't care to do.

Connect.... my bride of 26 years and I are relatively quiet people. Oh, we're pleasant around others but we enjoy each others company and are just ... well, satisfied with that. Oh yeah, I connect to my little family just fine. My two daughters, my son (in-law... whatever that means) and my daughter's boyfriend all 'connect' just fine. But this is going beyond immediate family and now I'm getting out of my comfort zone.

Throughout each day that Jesus walked this earth, he showed us the way to have vibrant and meaningful relationships. He had twelve others that followed Him and communed with Him. We catch very brief exchanges between this group in the Bible but I have often thought of what the everyday conversation sounded like. Imagine the laughter and the serious discussion times in your mind. I often have done just that. How was this connected community cultivated?

I would imagine that on top of the list would be transparency with all except Judas who obviously was not totally transparent. Lots of fellowship would have taken place, eating and just plain having fun together. They worshiped together and you know, even just wasted time together.

Do you remember some of the close friends that you had in middle (junior) high or high school? Do you remember the calls that you made to them? Could they have gone something like mine did? "Hey, Lawrence... what 'cha doin'?" "Just sitting... nothing much. How about you?" "Not a thing here. Just watching paint dry."

Why do we remember those relationships so much? BECAUSE THEY WERE MEANINGFUL IN OUR LIVES! My high school buddy Lawrence knew all about me. We went through good times and bad times together... ups and downs and we were always there for each other. That is what 'Connect' is all about.

If your church works at connecting people to each other in small groups or cell groups, please consider taking advantage of this. God did not place us here on this earth to tackle life all on our own. I'm still learning this but it is starting to sink in and I look forward to the day that I can call one or two guys on a fairly regular basis and say "Hey, what 'cha doin?" only to hear them say "Nothing... how about you?"


Monday, September 17, 2007

Why is God's Direction Sometimes So Foggy?

My heart is somewhat subdued this evening. Just not quite up to par.

My wife has recently taken on a career in a mission field. We are so excited that she is able to reach children around the world for Christ in a tangible way. It is with an incredible outreach organization that provides so much to so many in dire strates. We feel that the 'pay' is rewards in heaven and that God will provide. This may sound naive to some who don't trust fully in God but we have (and are still learning) to do so.

That is great but the organization has her going through training at a snails pace. Is this satan attacking through others to try to get her discouraged? He certainly has been known to work this way. I am working on encouraging her but I pray that God will move in a mighty way soon. I ask that you all pray as well.

Please also pray for my 21 year old daughter. It sounds like she may be close to getting a job but hit a bit of discouragement also today when an interview did not materialize. All we want is God's direction.

Why is that so foggy sometimes?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Transitioning of Society

I heard recently of a study by a small college about how younger people communicate with each other. Most colleges depend on their students to read their emails and yet this college found out that this does not occur. Those in their 20's are depending more on text messaging and social sites such as Face book.

I find this most interesting and a bit concerning. I am WELL into my 40's and my communications survive using email. Business associates know that they can contact me in this fashion and I am prompt to respond.

I am not familiar with Face book at all. I have heard horror stories about parents finding out that their children have been communicating with people that they do not personally know using sites such as these. Apparently each user has to invite or accept an invitation from someone else before they are able to communicate. Knowing that my adult daughter and some missionary friends of ours in Mexico use this portal, I tried to sign on this morning to see how it worked. It was all to confusing so I gave up.

So, because I don't know, I am posing a question. Once people accept each other as 'friends' on a site such as this, are they able to read each others postings and mail to others besides what is sent to them? If this is indeed the case; does anyone besides me think that this can lead to a creeping degradation of moral values for those that are not well-grounded? I remember back in grade school the game 'I dare you' and 'double dare' and each dare lead to something more extreme. If postings in social sites such as Face book can take this sort of avenue, where does it all lead?

All forms of technology can be used for good or for evil. We all know that the Internet as a whole is no exception. Therefore, I'm not criticizing this change in communication... only expressing my concerns for the misuse of it.

The bottom-line seems to always fall to where one's heart is focused and founded. "But seek His kingdom, and all (good) things will be given to you as well" (Luke 12:31)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Full-time Christian Ministry

I can't sleep tonight. This is a very rare thing for me. I know there are many who would be jealous of how well I can sleep ... but not tonight.

Kay and I spent the evening in a Leadership Class at our church (Calvary Chapel, Melbourne) It is a class that is for potential leaders within the church body to help them find where they may be spiritually gifted and then plug them into areas where they can Go, Grow and Glow! We need to be on fire for God and working in the areas that we are gifted allow us to do that. As said tonight, its like being able to run at 100% and to never grow tired.

Kay has recently entered into full-time missionary work with Samaritan's Purse working with the Operation Christian Child program. The opportunities before her are incredible to make a difference in the lives of children around the world for Christ. I'm so excited for her and am looking forward to seeing how God provides in this area.

Kay and I have thought on more than one occasion that we both may be heading for full-time ministry of some sort. Tonight I feel it more than ever before. I have always thought in my mind that I am already in full-time Christian ministry and I think that we all are as followers of Jesus. Jesus calls us to minister wherever we are in whatever we're doing. I try to approach each day that way. Some days are better than others though.

What will the future bring? Only God knows but I can take comfort in the fact that He does know. Will I someday go through training for ministry? Will I someday take a road that leads me into full-time missionary work as well?

Full-time ministry... How about you? Are you the spiritual leader of your home? That is the place to start.

As you think about this, bear in mind that Jesus may come again before your next breath! Make the most of today.

Carpe Diem!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Love My Wife

I have a bumper sticker on my car. It says "I Love My Wife". Simple in text but it creates more conversation than any I have ever seen.

Most of the comments come from men who ask if my wife made me put that on my car. I had such a comment this past week from a person who serves on a committee with me. He then asked if my wife made me put the sticker on my car when she caught me with my girlfriend. I responded "no, man... I put it on my car because I love my wife!"

A good response at the time but later I wish that I spent a little more time witnessing to this guy about the love for my wife as well as its source (God).

You see, my wife IS my girlfriend. She is all I ever need. I feel that way because I do not want to seek the worlds description of 'love' but want to only depend on God's. Jesus came and walked on this earth to show us the perfect example of love. That perfect love as abused to the point of being unrecognizable and then nailed to a cross because of His perfect love for you and for me.

Perfect love... not love as the world tries to describe or redescribe. Why would you want to have a dime-store copy of a Rembrandt when you can have the actual painting by the creator himself. I have a Rembrandt whose beauty is beyond description. I am blessed beyond all measure.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Being the Dad that God Expects

I found myself yesterday sitting on the floor speaking with my 21 year old daughter. She has been searching for direction to go in a career after finishing college and she just keeps hitting dead ends.

Something told me that this was the most important use of my time. It was time to drop everything and just listen.

You know, being a Dad... I feel that I need to have all the answers. I need to be able to 'fix' things but sometimes, I just need to sit and listen. I didn't have any answers for her and only marginal guidance. I did have a heart for her though and I do know who does have the answers... Jesus.

I sat and I listened. Yesterday was a good day...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Remember K.I.S.S?

I remember that acronym from years back when working with computers. K.I.S.S. stands for 'Keep it simple, Stupid'. I don't particularly like the stupid part but the keep it simple has some merit.

Back in the days when Jesus walked the earth the religious leaders of the day had turned the 10 commandments from Moses day to 613 rules and commands that one must obey to be 'upright' in God's eyes. Basically impossible to all including the Pharisees who came up with the additional commands.

When they tried to corner Jesus by asking Him the most important commandment, His reply was simple... Love the Lord your God with all heart, with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:38). That to me is 'keeping it simple'.

I find as I strive toward integrity that this simple response is vital to my striving towards integrity. It is a constant battle between my selfish thoughts and desires and those that I would honor God with. If I love God with all my heart, soul and mind, there are things that I just will not entertain in my heart. Selfishness, jealousy, lust, among others.

Jesus' simple commandment is all I need. You see to love God in such a way, I will keep all of the Ten Commandments and my walk will be upright and steadfast. Will I ever achieve this here on earth. No, only one could have done that and His name is Jesus. Is that reason to give up and throw in the towel? By no means!

I want to constantly strive towards that goal... to love God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind. I want to throw off and immediately turn away from any thought or action that may lead me otherwise. It is a constant battle but isn't that why its called spiritual warfare? Life is not easy, its hard and the battlefield is no place for wimps.

God, help me be a spiritual warrior for you today. I put on your armor and I confidently go into battle knowing that you will provide the victory.

Use me today...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Intriging Dream

I had an intriguing dream last night that I'm still trying to figure out. In the Bible in Acts 2:17 it states:
"In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old me will dream dreams."
Hmmm, I guess that this verse puts me in the latter category if we are in 'the last days' which I think that we are.

Anyway... back to the dream. I was speaking with an older women who was excited about her daughter moving to California to become pregnant. No mention of marriage, no mention of a particular soul that she was going to see. I don't know why it was California that she was going too either.

What was interesting about this dream is that she was as excited about this as if her daughter was going to the animal shelter to pick out a dog to bring home. What is disturbing about this dream is that it isn't too far from reality in today's society in the United States.

Families and marriage are both created and ordained by God. It seems like the more we move away from God's Word, the more we take all of this stuff at what ever value that our surrounding society places on it. It thus spirals downward.

I've been reading in Ezekiel lately. In Ezekiel as well as pretty much throughout the Old Testament, God is trying to move His people, the Jews back toward Him. They continually are wandering off and worshiping other gods and idols. Calamity hits and they turn back only to do the same thing all over again.

Where are we today in the United States? Where am I? I fear that God will soon allow (not create or cause but allow) great correction to take place in the United States. I can't change the direction of our country but I can take responsibility for myself today. Today God, I place myself under your authority. Today God, I give myself to you. Use me... I close with one of my favorite verses to provide my direction. "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15... Bold is my own)

What god will you choose today?