Let Scripture Speak

March 9, 2010

Sometimes, I just can’t find the words to say or to share just the way  I want.  I like to turn to the Bible and let it speak to me, speak for me.   I can’t do a better job than God.  Psalm 51 was a psalm of David.  He wrote it after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sins with Bathsheba and her husband.  He wrote it when he felt probably the lowest spiritually in his life.  No,  I didn’t do anything like David did, but I’m can identify with him and how he felt.  I long for forgiveness and a fresh start in life, ministry, and with my family.   I pray that I will never again find myself far away from God and that He will keep me on the straight and narrow path.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
       according to your unfailing love;
       according to your great compassion
       blot out my transgressions.

 2 Wash away all my iniquity
       and cleanse me from my sin.

 3 For I know my transgressions,
       and my sin is always before me.

 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
       and done what is evil in your sight,
       so that you are proved right when you speak
       and justified when you judge.

 5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
       sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ;
       you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
       wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
       let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

 9 Hide your face from my sins
       and blot out all my iniquity.

 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

 11 Do not cast me from your presence
       or take your Holy Spirit from me.

 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
       and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
       and sinners will turn back to you.

 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
       the God who saves me,
       and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

 15 O Lord, open my lips,
       and my mouth will declare your praise.

 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
       you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
       a broken and contrite heart,
       O God, you will not despise.

 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
       build up the walls of Jerusalem.

 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
       whole burnt offerings to delight you;
       then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Taken from the NIV Bible

Religion, the “Old Comfortable Shoe”

March 3, 2010

My oldest daughter got her first cell phone last week and the look on her face was priceless when my wife and I sat her down to give her the news and explain the ground rules and responsibilities.  Watching her enjoy her new phone gave me a few thoughts that I thought I would share.

New things are exciting… Phones, Cars, Relationships, etc…  I remember recently when we finally ditched the dish and went with Comcast cable.  My wife and I were enjoying learning about the new On-Demand features and finding new channels to watch.  Does everything fall into that same pattern, is everything in life doomed to have it’s 15 minutes of fame and then fade out into the annals of history like Members Only Jackets and parachute pants.  What about God and church life?  I think the answer is a great big “NO.” 

 I think the one main methods you can keep your Faith in God from becoming “the old comfortable shoe” is to not neglect it and to intentionally change some of the practical ways you live it day-to-day, such as prayer time, study time, how you share it with others, etc…   When you allow your relationship with Christ to become a routine, you can kiss the excitement goodbye.   I know I have allowed it to become that way from time to time and I have to try to snap myself out of the “spiritual coma” that I fall into and wake back up.  The same thing would be true if I neglect to talk with my wife and kids on a regular basis, the relationship would suffer.

Another spiritual sleeping pill you can add is the unpopular, new hush word in many churches that nobody wants to hear about anymore, SIN.  Sin and or Unforgiveness will do more damage to your relationship with God than anything.  When we have unconfessed sin in our life, it blocks the conduits of blessing from God and keeps us from going forward in our relationship with Christ.  If we are holding a grudge against a brother or sister in Christ we really need to deal with that first before anything else.  Matthew 5:23-24 give us that Biblical model to follow.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. – Matt 5:23-24

In closing would you consider your faith more of a religion than a relationship?  Does your faith seem more routine than alive and vibrant?  If you answered yes to those questions it might be time to stir some things up and change the way you do things.  Ask God if there is anything in your life that is keeping you from enjoying an exciting relationship with Him, I know he will reveal it to you if you ask.

Leadership Principle #7 Say Your Prayers…

February 18, 2010

Leaders take their followers to prayer before God.  Prayer Changes things, even the mind-set of God.

Well after Moses was up on the mountain God tells him what the people are doing and tells him to go down the mountain to deal with them.  God told Moses that he would wipeout all the people and make a great nation out of the descendants of Moses.  Moses does what every good leader would do next.  Moses prayed to God to save his people.  He took them before the Lord in a way as to stand in the gap for them and to intercede for them when they were not able or ready to go to the Lord.

Leaders pray for their followers, there Bible study groups, their parents and families and intercede for them to the Lord.  The reason Moses prayed for them was that he cared for them.  They were under his care and his control.  This came first nature to Moses because of the things we have seen from him and his past.  Moses had just spent the last 40 years in the desert tending sheep, he was a shepherd to the people too.  Just as we know a shepherd keeps his sheep out of danger from wild animals and other hazards, so does a shepherd of the flock on God look after his people who God has given care over.

 As leaders, teachers, and ministers of the gospel of Jesus we know that there are many dangers in the world that can take hold of God’s sheep and entrap them into places where there is little hope of escape.  It is our job to look after them in ways to keep them safe from harm.

 One of the biggest ways to do that is to pray for them.  The older I get the more I learn to be a silent prayer warrior for those under my shepherd staff of leadership.  As I have grown in my knowledge of prayer and become more consistent in the practice of it, the more I am confident that it should be a first response rather than a last resort.

 The book of James shows us some basic principles of a godly and effective prayer life.  I would encourage you to read it and notice the following principles.

  • Pray with expectation that God will answer your prayers in His way.
  • Is there any sin in your life that would keep your prayers from being heard?
  • How earnestly do you pray?  How often do you pray to God?
  • Don’t just pray by yourself, involve the many to join you in prayer.
  • Pray for those when God puts them on your heart.  Don’t wait.

 There are so many great examples of others that went before the Lord and prayed for the people of God to wake up, to move, to stop sinning, to work together, to stand firm, and more for the Lord.

 Moses prayed for God’s mercy to be on the people and for him to “relent” his decision to destroy them all.  (v.11-13)  In verse 14 it tells us that God did relent in his decision to destroy them all.  This can not be over looked here.  Do you understand that the prayer of one man brought earnestly before the Lord caused God to relent of his decision for the people.  Know that when you go before the Lord that God listens to your plea for the people you are praying for and he will respond to you as well.

 I am learning currently in a situation that I am going through right now that those prayers will often take a great deal of patience and waiting on the Lord and His timing.  Often I want to jump ahead and try to do things in my own power and way, but I know God has called me into a season of prayer for the students I am over and I am asking God to move in their life and for them to get serious about their faith.   I must trust God’s plan for each of them and His timing is perfect.

Intolerance, a good thing?

January 30, 2010

"You're Intolerant!"

With all the latest current events between the Senate race with Scott Brown, the political partisanship between the left and the right and the recent controversy over the Tim Tebow Pro-Life commercial airing during the Superbowl.  The word “intolerance” has come to mind more than once over the last week.  Most of the time it is meant to hurt someone who believes differently (than they do) on an issue or conviction. 

Anytime I hear the word intolerance I think about a shirt that I have seen produced by Josh McDowell, a Christian apologist.  On the front it said “Intolerance is Great” and on the back it had a list of famous people and what they were intolerant of.  I can only remember a few of the names.  Mother Teresa was intolerant of Poverty, Gandhi  was intolerant of hungry, Martin Luther King Jr was intolerant of racism, and at the end it said Jesus was intolerant of sin.    Most people view intolerance as a bad thing, but as you can see that is not always the case. 

So next time someone calls you intolerant be sure to thank them and then you know you have stuck to your beliefs and don’t flip-flopped in your convictions and beliefs.  I’m trying to keep these blogs shorter and easy to read, so feel free to add your comments and what you are intolerant of.