Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hostage to Bitterness

Bitterness is caused by nursing an unforgiving spirit and results in negative and critical attitudes. If left unchecked, it embeds itself deep into our lives and becomes a subconscious reality.

Bitterness motivates habitual complaining. (Job 7:11, 10:1) Bitter people find pleasure in gossip. (Psalm 64:3 KJV) Bitterness affects other’s lives as well. "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled." (Hebrews 12:15)

Bitterness is self induced misery-it produces chain sinning. The bitter person is his own worst enemy and always difficult to maintain a good relationship with.
It's important to regularly give yourself a checkup for roots of bitterness. Perhaps its the real silent killer, the cause of sleepless nights, ulcers, agitation irritability, angry words, lost friendships, ruined marital relationships, separated families and a host of other expensive consequences.

If you are like me, you have plans and dreams for your life and for the lives of your children, friends, families and your community. If they are significant, beautiful, Godly dreams, they can only be realized through the power of the Spirit filled life. Bitterness robs us of the power to achieve those dreams.

Peter told Simon that the Holy Spirit and bitterness cannot co-exist in the same life. One or the other has to go. For example, if we harbour a root of bitterness, we infect and damage our children, spouse and workplace. A root of bitterness will impact the bottom line of your business. It throws a wet blanket over the worship and sense of community in a church. It's important that we identify and deal with our bitterness.

I can't afford to nurse bitterness in my life. The consequences are too costly. I have two clear choices, I can choose bitterness and risk loosing everything I hold near and dear. Or, I can choose the Holy Spirit and His positive power (Grace) which I need for the fulfillment of my dreams. The choice is mine.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hostage

5 week series

We’re all held hostage by something...what is your captor? Maybe it’s past hurt, fear of the future, lust, or deception, or even anger. The good news is that our ransom has been paid in full. Join us for Hostage and discover how to break free, once and for all, from the traps of life.

Week 1-Contaminated by Bitterness
Week 2-Overwhelmed with Worry
Week 3-Trapped in Addiction
Week 4-Consumed with Anger
Week 5-Living in Lies

Don't miss any of the messages in this series and visit my blog often over the next 5 weeks. Prepare to break free! http://newcommchurch.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Dinner Jesus Style

Luke 14:12-14 (NCV)
12 Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him, "When you give a lunch or a dinner, don't invite only your friends, your family, your other relatives, and your rich neighbors. At another time they will invite you to eat with them, and you will be repaid.
13 Instead, when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
14 Then you will be blessed, because they have nothing and cannot pay you back. But you will be repaid when the good people rise from the dead."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I making gifts today


After my study time this morning, Michelle, Sam and I will begin two days of preparing for Christmas. Making gifts, writing letters, singing carols, doing a puzzle, eating, drinking........oh yeah and watching the snow melt. WHAT A GREAT TIME OF YEAR!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Relational Giving Ideas

A few more ideas to get your creative juices flowing...

Spending time together:

Prepare a feast with candles, wine, and music for your family or friends.
Give your child a baseball bat for a trip to the batting cages together.
Wrap two copies of a used classic book to read with a friend.
Wrap a coffee shop gift card for a coffee date.
Help your neighbor put up Christmas lights.
Wrap popcorn, gourmet root beer, and a classic DVD for a movie night.
Cook a meal for some one's aging parents.
Take a friend to a concert or a play.
Create a scavenger hunt for your nieces and nephews.
Host Monday Night Football at your place and make homemade pizzas.
Go on a day hike together and take a sack lunch.
Have a food fight in the back yard with your kids.
Bake a cake to celebrate Jesus' birthday with children and tells God's birthday story.
Go night skiing with friends.
Bundle up with a thermos of hot cocoa and walk through a neighborhood with lots of Christmas lights.

Creative activity coupons:

A "use-our-house-while-we're-on-vacation" coupon for the young married couple living in a cramped apartment.
A house-project coupon to help your friend finally build that tool shed.
An out of town adventure coupon for you and the kids.
A babysitting coupon for some worn out parents.
A back rub coupon for your spouse.
A change-the-oil coupon for a busy friend.
A breakfast in bed coupon for your spouse.
A yard work coupon for an elderly person in your life.
Ask yourself: What can I do? What can I give? What do they like? Make time to do it with them.

Things to make:

Record a "Best of 2008" mix CD for friends.
Create a photo album of the kids for the distant relatives.
Cut up old magazines to make funny Christmas cards.
Compile your favorite recipes.
Knit a scarf.
Record an interview with the grandparents on the history of their life to give to the family.
Build a raised garden bed.
Write a meaningful letter of appreciation.
Paint a picture or make a sculpture.
"Publish" a story written and illustrated by the kids.
Make a memory book for a friend of a trip you took together.
Bake Christmas goodies.
Make aromatherapy oil: www.bellaonline.com.
Make herbal tea: www.coffeetea.about.com.
Find something else to make: www.readymademag.com.

Give around the World:
Participate in NCC's Advent Conspiracy giving project by bringing a water bottle back full of change to dig a well.
Give some extra money or write an encouraging letter to missionaries.
Buy something tangible like a goat or a fruit tree in some one's name for a person who needs it (World Vision and Samaritan's Purse have catalogs).
Visit www.rethinkingchristmas.com to exchange ideas with people around the world.

This isn't about creating a bunch of new rules to follow for Christmas. It's OK to spend some money. Don't create a new set of pressures, worry, and guilt by feeling like you can't spend a dime. Just step out of the consumerism, be thoughtful, and enjoy the celebration!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Give Presence with Presents

The holiday season is fast approaching and many parents are concerned about the family financial situation and the money problems they may be experiencing. Many parents are wondering what they will give this year as they tighten the money belt and attempt to weather the financial storm through the holiday.

Perhaps the answer lies in the gifts that are given. Give children what they really want from their parents, presence not presents. All children spell love T-I-M-E. What we can give to them is our attention, our availability, our mindfulness, our closeness, our time.

Consider the following suggestions as a way to give the most important present, your presence this holiday season.

1. Be there regardless of what you are doing. The holiday season requires an added measure of balancing kid’s schedules, work responsibilities, visiting family, cooking elaborate meals as well as regular requirements of keeping up with the laundry, etc. When feeling pulled in several directions, many parents turn to multi-tasking. We’re suggesting that you avoid the urge to multi-task and strive to stay focused on the moment at hand. When you sit with your children, whether it’s to play a game or read a book, give them your undivided attention.

2. Make a “Be” choice. How you choose to “be” affects whatever you choose to do. When you are with your children choose to be interested in what they are interested in. Choose to be happy that you have the time to focus on their needs and wants. Choose to be excited about the time you have with them. Even when misbehavior occurs in your children, choose to be glad that you have the opportunity to help them learn a new behavior or a new way to communicate a desire or express a feeling.

3. Focus on listening rather than telling. Children spend a great portion of their day following directions such as, pick up your clothes, make your bed, sit down, be quiet, go play, chew with your mouth closed, stop picking on your brother, hang up your coat, brush your teeth. The list of commands seem unending. Remember, children have valuable things to say too. Many times parents get so focused on telling that they forget to listen. Value your children’s opinion. Allow opportunities to vent. Embrace their point of view. Invite suggestions. Listen to their voice.

4. Connect physically. Touch is a powerful way to communicate “I love you.” Get close and touch your children’s heart with a warm embrace or a gentle squeeze of the shoulder. Snuggle under a blanket and read together. Go for a walk and lock hands. Wrestle on the living room floor. Distribute hugs, smiles, winks and an occasional high five.

5. Connect emotionally. Feelings are always more important than things. Create an environment where it is safe to be emotional. Encourage the expression of feelings. Allow your feelings to extend to your children as you share traditions, reflect on holidays past and gather as a family. Have empathy, compassion, and understanding.

6. Unplug from the electronic world. The television, computer, video games, and ipods have the potential to create a disconnect from personal interaction. Unplug, turn it off, and walk away. While riding in the car unplug the headphones, turn off the DVD player and tell your children a story about the day they were born or about a favorite holiday memory. Shut down the computer, turn off the Xbox and play a game of chess, checkers, or monopoly together. Stand up, walk away from the TV and go shoot baskets, skip rope, or ride bikes with your child.

7. Play by the kid’s rules. Play with your children at their level. Build mud pies, jump in rain puddles, roll down a hill, spray shaving cream on the kitchen table and join in the creation of artistic designs. Cover the driveway in sidewalk chalk. Let your children take the lead and change the rules of a game if they want. Know that play, no matter how childish or silly it may appear, is an investment in connecting with your children. Play regularly and remember the reason for play is to play, not to win.

Make a commitment this holiday season to give the best gift you can give by being present in your child’s life. Be active and interactive on a daily basis with your children. Be the parent you were called to be. Give your presence.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Give the gift of you

"relational giving" - a concept that deals with us giving of ourselves more than stuff.

Because, after all, Christmas is about the best relational gift of all... YEAH!

Listed below are some ideas I wanted to pass along... gifts that in some way increase the relational capacity you and another person could share over the course of a year.

52 packets of gourmet hot chocolate with a personal coffee cup: So that you can share a special time together once a week.

Two journals: You each write in one for two months and write down various things you see in the other person during that time - steps of growth they're taking, outstanding qualities, any blind spots, and so on. Then at the end of two months you switch.

Deck of cards and book of card game rules: This gives you an excuse to do something to hang out together.

Collage of special photos: Highlighting your favorite memories together.

Bottle of sparkling cider and a picnic basket filled with deli cheese and fruit: Make plans to have a picnic together, even if it's inside.

Disposable camera or rolls of film: Devoted for the sole use of capturing future memories together.

Craft supplies: Geared to help you do something creative together.

Gardening gloves with a plant or flower seeds: Indicating you'll work on a garden together.

Homemade cookie mix with instructions for baking: Take turns making each other a round every couple of weeks.

Fancy magazines tied together with a pretty ribbon: Read them together and talk about the articles.

Gourmet popcorn and video rental gift certificates: Movie nights every week for a month - 'nuff said.

Locally made barbecue or steak sauce with basting brush: Use this as a way to not only spend time together but also invite some new friends into your relational circle.

Pancake or waffle mix and a bottle of real maple syrup: Sometimes you just need to start the day off together right... use this to guarantee the food is good.

Movie theater gift certificates: Take turns picking movies to see together - no complaints.

Board games: Draw people of all ages and backgrounds together through the games you play together.

Books: There are still a few for under $10 that you can read through together.

Basket filled with kitchen gadgets: Decide you'll spend some extra time finding recipes that force you to use them and cook for each other.

Prepaid long distance phone cards: Especially helpful if you are separated by miles.

A watch with an alarm on it: When it goes off you pray for each other.

Colorful Post-It notepads: Give each other permission to leave encouraging notes in unexpected places around the house

Puzzles: There's nothing like the good old fashioned task of putting the pieces of a puzzle together... and it gives you plenty of time to talk.

Got any more?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Making Meaningful Christmas Memories

Check an article by Lynne Thompson helping us turn Christmas right side up...

Regardless of age, it transports us back to our childhood: tinsel on the tree, stockings hung by the fireplace, colorful packages needing to be shaken, and traditional celebrations with faithful friends and relatives. For our children, this holiday is still being written upon their future memories. This is why we as parents need to make sure that what they remember is packaged in precious truths about how God's love reached out to a dying world, one silent night in a town called Bethlehem.

How shepherds watching their flocks received a surprise visit from heavenly creatures, showing that God is for everyone, regardless of their social stature. How angels announced peace for mankind, on whom God's favor rests, proving that our Intelligent Designer isn't the kind to create things and then walk away. How good news about our savior spread throughout the world, explaining why we still celebrate today.

So this Christmas, as you reveal the greatest love story ever told, try these fun-filled age-appropriate activities that will direct children, and adults, back to the true meaning of the holiday, when we celebrate Emmanuel, God who is with us.

Ages 0-3
In order to avoid making Christmas a "don't touch holiday" for little ones, give them fun things they can touch.
Move glass ornaments and lights up to higher branches on the Christmas tree, and help your child make fun decorations for the bottom.
String pieces of colored tissue paper cut into squares onto shoestrings to hang as garland.
Get out the glitter and make paper ornaments.
Mold a nativity scene from clay dough and display in a prominent place. Tell the story of Christmas while you do this.
Decorate cookies and build gingerbread houses together as a family.

Ages 4-7
Help your little ones focus on others this season by making use of those Christmas cards received in the mail. Place the cards in a basket on the dinner table; taking turns each night drawing one out. Then pray together for that person or family.
Also, start a family tradition by picking out a new holiday picture book to read each Christmas Eve. Some of my favorites are:
10 Minutes to Showtime, by Tricia Goyer
The Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado
The Stable Where Jesus was Born, by Rhonda Gowler Greene
The Christmas Rose, by William H. Hooks

Ages 8-12
Ring in an international Christmas by assigning a country to each child. Besides reporting about how that country celebrates the holiday, he or she can prepare a seasonal dish to share, or demonstrate a song or folkdance. Then pray for the people of that culture so that they too might understand the meaning of God's love.

Ages 13-18
This age group is old enough to bundle up and go caroling. During each visit allow for a few seasonal songs and readings from the scriptures proclaiming the birth of the newborn king. Besides visiting the neighbors, teens may want to stop by the local convalescent home, hospital, or homeless shelter.

All Ages
Many families choose to celebrate Advent – the days leading up to Christmas Day. There are fun Advent calendars on the market, some with doors that open and play songs, others that hide chocolate candies or other treats. Consider making each Sunday leading up to Christmas special by lighting a candle, reading passages from scripture, and serving a yummy dessert. A great resource for Advent celebrations is the book, Just 25 Days 'Til Christmas: An Advent Celebration for the Entire Family, by Rebecca Hayford Bauer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WORSHIP CHRIST MORE THIS CHRISTMAS

Advent Conspiracy news from
Rick McKinley Pastor Imago Dei Community

Here at Advent Conspiracy [AC] we get lots of questions about “How?” people can become co-conspirators. … it is an important question! But what I would like to do is frame that question with a much more important question. “Why?” would someone join the conspiracy?

At the heart of the Christmas story is one of the greatest theological mysteries. God with us. The very birth of Christ has led us down the road to deep theological inquiry as to the nature of the incarnation. At the heart of it all: God is now with us. He is present among us, loving, redeeming, saving, reconciling, convicting and displaying the glory of His Kingdom in a world that is sin swept and heartbroken.

The reason that any of us would go through all this work: being more thoughtful and creative in giving gifts so we spend less and give more; re-distributing funds to well water projects where the least of these live in such great need the reason we do all of that has one simple answer… To Worship Christ More.

The Advent Conspiracy is not just about fixing the world’s problems or becoming activists by resisting consumerism. At the heart of what we are doing is worshipping the God who is now with us. The point of the story of Christ’s birth is profound and transformational. The birth of Christ gave us access into knowing God through Jesus. We can solve lots of problems and live different lives in our culture but if it is not aiming at this one thing then we may be missing everything. God gave us a son so we could know Him and worship Him.

As Christ followers we get to enter that mystery this Christmas. Somehow between spending less, giving more and loving all, we keep coming back to why we are doing it. And there we find the answer. An answer that hushed the shepherds, angered the rulers, and caused the Angels to start singing in a blaze of glory. Because lying there in a feed trough among the steaming dung and smoking nostrils of farm animals, lay the greatest gift the world has ever known. God in the flesh, coming to put our lives and world back together.

This Christmas here is the invitation. Never forget why we are doing all this. As your kids are making gifts, tell them about the greatest gift, as you avoid the crowded malls spend that time re-telling the story, and as we collectively display the love of God through meeting basic needs so others may live, we are telling the world that we give because God gave. And who God gave us was His Son the Christ. The invitation is simply-

This Christmas join us as we worship Christ more.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Zion

Ahhhhh....today I leave to go to Zion National park for a couple of days. That place is refreshing to my soul. Going with a friend who Pastors at Green Valley Baptist to plan our joint men's retreat to be held there early next year. Should be fun.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Spend less

During the Advent Conspiracy we are asking the church to:
Worship fully
Spend less
Give more
Love all

I have been on a spend less journey for over a year now. For me this is all about freedom. I want to be free to make the most of the money that is entrusted to me by God. After all, it all belongs to Him anyway. I want to be free to invest it in loving ways for my family and God's Kingdom. Simplifying my life has become an important expression of discipleship for the Bennett family. I must say, I feel a lot better having set a path of less debt and more generocity. I think God is pleased as well.

Chris

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas incarnated

This is a great story from one of our newer believer in our church:

Aloha Pastor Chris,

I pray that this letter finds you doing well this week and surrounded with an abundance of aloha spirit. I am writing to tell you how excited I am to find out that my ohana is part of a conspiracy and did not even know it. You may recall that last CHRISTmas was our first one since we were saved and we wanted to honor our Father by celebrating the true meaning. What an amazing, educational life changing experience we ended up with.

My whole life Christmas was about presents and stressing out over getting everything done before everyone arrived. Last year after the combination of some life situations paired with God’s word at your sermons we made a drastic decision to NOT buy presents for our ohana. Now when you have five kids it truly is a drastic decision. Now the theme of my parenting has always been “Break the Cycle” and I decided this tradition will be one of those to break.

First, we started by going through every closet in our house gathering coats, blankets and clothes that we could give to someone in need. Although, I had just been laid off and money was is a hardship we recognized that we still have food on the table, we have a home to keep us safe and warm; but most of all we still have each other.

Next, we purchased an Interactive Nativity set to learn and understand the story Jesus’ birth. We now know and understand why each person is there and what happened to them. It is no longer just another Christmas decoration. The more we learned the more every single decoration, song and even card took a unique transformation because for the first time ever I saw and heard GOD in it all!

We then took the kids to the mall for the Angel tree. Each one picked an angel that was their same gender and age to buy a present for. They had to choose a gift that they wanted for themselves but had to hand it over to someone else that was less fortunate. No problem for the toddler, no problem for the teen-ager but a challenge for the 6 year old dinosaur fanatic who just found the ultimate dinosaur set. Jordan struggled with it and even tried to bargain with us but reluctantly handed it over to the lady at the Angel Tree. I think he left some fingernail marks on the packaging in the process. After it was all said and done Jordan gleamed with pride to all who knew his experience and that was a gift to me as his mother.

We did not have a lonely Christmas tree stripped of its gifts though. Each one of us sat down and wrote out a prayer for each family member. We took those prayers, wrapped them up and placed them under the tree for Christmas morning. We now had priceless gifts to present one another and did not have to wrestle anyone down in a store and acquire more debt for it. Even up to this point I still heard the enemy’s whispers in my ear. He wanted me to think that I was robbing my kids of gifts and that they would be embarrassed at school. He almost convinced me a couple of times but I stood firm.

Of course we plan to do this again this year and even take it up a notch with service to others. It pleases me to know that we are not alone in this and that it is being promoted throughout the Christian community. Our new Christmas tradition even has a name too, Advent. I pray that this spreads like a wild fire on a gusty day and we take back the meaning of Christmas. No more consuming to show love but truly showing love through actions and not materials. The video for Advent Christmas makes me smile uncontrollably because I know for myself what they are trying to say. Having presence with your ohana (FAMILY) on Christmas morning instead of presents creates emotions that cannot be explained it has to be lived.

In closing, I will answer to your challenge for this Advent CHRISTmas with a simple…. ‘A’ole pilikia (no trouble)

Blessed wishes & Mele Kalikimaka,

Lani Hinkes

Monday, December 01, 2008

Good and bad

I'm sure you heard of the wal-mart worker who was trampled by materialistic shoppers in New York or the two men who angrily shot each other to death in a California toy store. Try this for some GOOD NEWS.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks

Today I realize once again that I have so much to be thankful for. I have a wife who is a woman of character. I have a son that gives me Joy and another one on the way. I have many, many friends who love me. I get to pastor a wonderful church where people actually love each other and many people are becoming followers Christ all the time. I own a beautiful home. And most of all, I have a relationship with a God who has made covenant with me. Thank You God.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advent Conspiracy



As we enter the Christmas story of Jesus this year, we will conspire together. We join forces to subvert the consumer empire and celebrate the birth of a King. I and the entire NCC staff would like to issue a challenge. The "not one penny challenge". Yes we would like to invite you to refuse to bow to Master card or Visa during this Christmas. Refuse to incur any credit card debt. Not one penny! It may be difficult for some but I believe that Jesus birthday is best celebrated by freedom and not bondage. Instead of spending more-give more. Give more presence instead of presents. Give yourself to those you love. Give time. Give encouragement. Give relational gifts. Give more-spend less. Love all!

More info on practical ways to do this coming...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Love always

1 Cor. 13:7-8 Love... always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

When it comes to "love always" only One qualifies. Jesus is love in high definition. We become impatient and unkind. We become jealous and proud. At times we are rude and selfish. We fly off the handle. Hold grudges. Enjoy sin. When it comes to always-we always do something unloving like this. But Jesus always loved. Even in the face of people like us who always get it wrong. He loved through unbelief, discouragement, isolation, rejection, betrayal, brutality, ridicule, crucifiction and death. His love was stronger than all of this.

Song of Songs 8:6 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love;

He is a lover and a fighter. He all the all-time greatest fighter. He is the champion of the world. Of the universe. Of the universes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Great letter!

It is because of letters like this that I can keep going in ministry!

Chris,

I wrestled around a little bit with God last night after you announced the church needed $10,000 by Monday. Things have been really tight and my husband's job may be ending the end of November so I had to do a lot of soul searching and talking with God about giving more than usual. He assured me that He is going to take care of us and told me the amount I should give. We love this church and God loves what you are doing so we are stepping out in faith and giving this to help keep us open and keep doing the great things we are and helping all of those who desperately need our help. You were there when I needed you most and helped me through a lot and I want to be there for you as well. I spoke to my husband about it this morning and agreed without any hesitation.
God Bless,
annonymous

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love/hate relationship

Psalms 97:10 (NIV) “Let those who love the LORD hate evil…”

I find this interesting that those who would love God are encouraged to hate evil. Why? When you love someone deeply you love what they love and you hate what they hate. God hates evil. It is destructive to those that he loves so He hates it. Hating evil is an issue of love. In fact the sincerity of our love is on the line.

Romans 12:9 (NIV) “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

We were designed by Love for Love. God is Love. He wants us to receive it. He wants us to give it. When sin is looked to for a source of enjoyment we lose our ability to love. We still desire love and still want to give it but we cannot. We become self-seeking and lack authenticity. Pride, envy, jealousy, and other controlling motives take over the heart rendering it unable to give and receive love. Therefore we must guard our hearts with all dilligence against love for the world.

1 John 2:15-17 (NIV) 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

God’s love and love for the sinful pleasures of this life cannot coexist-so we must choose. Die loving the world or live forever loving Him.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh

Today I took my son out to swing him and he began singing “that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh…” He had this big smile and he just kept singing it. I hated it! What’s up? I loved that song as a boy in the 70’s! KC & the Sunshine Band!!! Come on!! Ok. Let’s be honest. That song is about sex. Pure un-adulterated sex-(is that an oximoron)? My 4 year old son singing joyfully about sex? I asked, “where did you here that song”? “On TV”, he said. On TV? MY TV? WHEN? Later that day I heard it-a commercial with that song promoting a product in a subtle but sexual way. Love…does not rejoice in unrighteousness. My son unwittingly enjoying a song about sex? ENOUGH!!!!

Having children causes us to re-evaluate. How much trash is being downloaded into Sam’s brain (or mine) in very subtle ways? How much do we entertain ourselves with media that is impure? How much does that affect my ability to give and receive love? As I contemplate 1 Cor. 13 I am realizing that love does not enjoy evil. And to the degree that I allow evil (even unwittingly) into my life I am diminished in my capacity to love. I want Sam to grow up with a strong capacity to love. I want him to have a strong sense of what is good and what is evil.

When it comes to Sam I hate evil. Wow there it is…no wonder my Father hates evil and tells me to do the same.

Amos 5:15 (NIV) “Hate evil, love good...”

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blondes have more fun?

This week I am reflecting on fun as it relates to love.

1 Corinthians 13:6 “Love…does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth"

We love to have fun, but could our fun be unloving? Most people view sin as a way to have fun. Las Vegas is built on the idea. Our culture is largely centered on entertainment. Movies, television, internet all are mediums of consuming images that stimulate pleasure neurons in our joy hungry brains. Is this how we are designed to enjoy life? Last night the Travel Channel aired a showed called:
21 Sinful Vegas Hot Spots In one fast-paced glitzy hour, the alluring, sexy and luxurious hot spots in Sin City are revealed. So, toss your inhibitions aside and prepare yourself for a head-spinning trip around town for 21 Sinful Vegas Hot Spots.

I guess that great philosopher Kurt Cobain spoke for a generation when he wrote “Here we are, now entertain us.” He has been labeled, “Spokesman of a generation” a title he was never comfortable with. In disallusionment, he eventually took his own life. I know there was a time in my life when I celebrated in sin-even bragged about my exploits. I thought it was how you had fun. It almost killed me.

Proverbs 14:12-13 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains.

I am reminded of one of our cultures most famous blondes and how her tragic story ended...I wonder, do blondes really have more fun? What is fun really?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Jesus the whip-cracker

Today I read a blog from an unbeliever about Jesus. I do not agree with everything this person says but I do share some of the sentiment... a little long but worth the read.

Jesus the Whip Cracker
He was NOT a "man of Peace"!

By Tiffany Ranae, published Sep 08, 2006

I’m getting a little sick of so-called “Christians” that attack me for telling the truth about their religion. They are undoubtedly the same sort of people that would have crucified their savior in order to protect the sanctity of their organization. It’s one thing for non-believers to get it wrong about Christ. They likely haven’t been exposed to His teachings…but rather the rhetoric surrounding his teachings… and to his so-called “followers”, MOST of whom have never even completed reading the defining document of their faith. So, if you are a Christian, Let me boil it down into bite sized chunks for you.

A lot of people believe Jesus was a man of peace, the sort of guy that wouldn’t say &$#@ if he had a mouthful of it, a passive sort who “turned the other cheek” as a way of being nice. While for sure, Jesus was kind to children and compassionate to the poor, the sick, and those truly seeking God’s kingdom, he had nothing but vehemence, violence, venom and hatred for those who got in the way of those who wished to know his father, God. You don’t believe me? Consider this, the account in Matthew of Jesus “cleansing the temple” and some of the immediate aftermath (Matthew 21:12-19)

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them," 'My house will be called a house of prayer, 'but you are making it a 'den of robbers."

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night. Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

Here’s the account of the story from the book of John (John 2:14-16): “In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

” Dear readers, Jesus didn’t just kick over some tables. He didn’t just have a little temper tantrum, and he was NOT out of control. Consider these things: 1) Immediately after he kicked the tables over and drove the money-changers out, he stopped to heal people. He had done what he was there to do. 2) He didn’t just kick over tables. He didn’t just brandish a whip. HE MADE THAT WHIP! And he USED IT! 3)

As to the fig tree, My personal take is he was still a bit grumpy from the day before. In any case, he made his point. Bear fruit or DIE! It’s important to understand exactly what it was that got Jesus so riled up. So I will explain it. The temple laws were such that only temple currency could be used to pay for sacrificial animals. It was a way that the religious people had of sticking it to the Roman Government that occupied their land. Jerusalem, on the day in question was abuzz in activity. Its was the celebration pf Passover and Jews from all over swarmed into the city to offer sacrifice to God for the sins of the previous year. The moneychangers charged exorbitant rates. Furthermore, they had the racquet on what was and what was not a “clean animal”. The merchants at the temple also jacked up the prices on the “clean” animals, making it nearly impossible for the common man to offer sacrifice. In essence, it was price gouging.

Jesus was concerned with only one thing in life, taking away the impediments between humans and their creator. Profiting from worship on the backs of poor men and women, and making sacrifice to God cost prohibitive is what set Jesus off that day. It made him VIOLENT. We often assume that because Jesus raised no hand against those who killed him that he was an advocate of non-violence. The above account clearly demonstrated that he was not.

Do you want further proof that non-violence was not part of the message of Jesus? Consider this: Matthew 10:34-39 (Jesus speaking) "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

To be fair, he did also say “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9) However, to assume that a man who would say such things is only about peace, kindness, and charity is to be illiterate.

Jesus spared no opportunity to call the Pharisees “snakes” and “hypocrites”. He spared no opportunity to use the Pharisees as examples of how not to live. In the end, it was the Pharisees, the MOST RELIGIOUS PEOPLE OF THAT DAY that killed Jesus. For three years they tried to trip him up. They chastised him for hanging out with sinners and “tax gatherers” (By the way, the tax gatherer thing was ALL ABOUT POLITICS, the underground struggle between the Roman occupation and The land promised the Jews by God). Jesus answer to them was, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, it’s the sick and the lame.

For those of you who think “turn the other cheek” was a way of advocating non-violence, think again. It was about POWER! If your attacker has no power over your emotions, no power over your actions, and no power over your decision making process, then no matter what he does, you have won. Other great leaders have understood that as well, Ghandi and Martin Luther King among them.

Jesus was not a man of peace. He had one message, a drum he beat continually “The Kingdom of God is at hand!” A lot of people would have you believe that “At hand” means “coming soon”. In reality “At hand” means, reach out and GRAB IT! People wonder why it is that I bag on so-called “Christians” so much. The reason is simple. Unless their primary message in life is “The Kingdom of God is at hand”, they are not Christ like. Unless they will stop at NOTHING to remove the impediments to humankind seeing the Father God, they are not Christ like. Unless they bear fruit, they are not Christ like. If they live the sorts of lives that concern themselves with the legalities of religion rather than the relationship of God to his people, they are not Christ like. If they hang out amongst the people that they get along with, who believe as they do on everything concerning God, they are not Christ like. If they are not concerned with the business of healing the sick and the lame, if they put religion over God, if they put self preservation over message, then ladies and gentlemen they are NOT CHRIST LIKE!

Why am I so tough on Christians? I am so tough on Christians because I believe people should be held accountable to the titles they take on. I believe people should be held accountable to be LIKE someone, if they espouse a title that claims they are disciples of that someone. I believe that the teachings of Christ could change the world. I am not a Christian, but I believe that there is value in at least attempting to be as Christ like as possible. Jesus always pointed the way to his father. So if you feel like I put you down. If you feel I have been unfair, if you feel I am angry, if you feel that my tone is mean spirited, then stop before you type it out. And tell me this. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO??? It is not me that must be held accountable for acting as Christ did, for I refuse to label myself with the title of “Christian”. If however you label, yourself as such, then ACT like it or shut the hell up!

The Pharisees were al about morality codes. Jesus was about showing people God’s kingdom. The Pharisees were about keeping order. Jesus was about showing people God’s kingdom. The Pharisees were about self preservation, so much so that they killed Jesus. Jesus was about showing people God’s Kingdom. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. He did not come into the world to condemn it. He came to save it. He came that men might have life and have it more abundantly. If you are pointing the way to “godly behavior” instead of the way to God, you are in the way. If you are pointing out immorality and injustice, but not God’s Kingdom, you are in the way. Point out God’s kingdom or get out of the way!
What is God’s kingdom? It is by no accident that in Genesis God created his perfect world, a place where man did not know good from evil, where he ate freely from every tree of the garden EXCEPT that one, a world in which man communed with creation peacefully as a caretaker. God’s kingdom is a life free from guilt, in which the only sin is any action that does not first consider the best good of the part of creation with which we have been entrusted. It’s a life wherein we may eat freely from any tree of the garden, EXCEPT for the one that gives us the perception of knowledge regarding what is good and what it evil. No war has ever been fought that didn’t emanate from a differing opinion on good vs. evil. What is it that will kill mankind if we don’t get this message? It’s simple, the repercussions of assuming to know good vs. evil for others, the repercussions of taking our focus off of our job of looking after the best interest of the garden, and the repercussions of having a perception that we know good vs. evil had been what has killed billion in war and caused untold zillion of fights between men will be what ultimately kills mankind. The only cure for that is finding God’s Kingdom once again in our lives. Why do I bag on Christians so much? In their quest to point out the immorality in the world, they forgot all about God’s Kingdom. They forgot to be like the savior that they claim to follow. I think it’s fair to hold them accountable. Don’t you?

Interesting thoughts...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Anger and Love

"Love is not easily angered" I Cor. 13:5

This week I am reflecting on how slow God is...that is to get angry I mean.

Ex 34:6
6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,

Nu 14:18
18 'The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.

Ne 9:17
17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,

Ps 86:15Psalm 86
15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Ps 103:8Psalm 103
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Ps 145:8Psalm 145
8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Joel 2:13
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
NIV
Jnh 4:2
2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

Na 1:3
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

When I try to run from obedience to God, He will always catch me but thankfully he is slow to be angry with me. I love You Father!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

rude

1 Cor. 13:5
“…Love is not rude…”

Recent studies conclude that people today are significantly more rude than 10 years ago. In our highly productive, fast moving, marginless culture people are stretched to the max. They feel pressure. People under pressure put people under pressure. This leads to a rude society. I sometimes can be rude. As I reflect on the times and situations where I am rude (whether it is with strangers, friends, or even my own family) I find it is usually when I am in a hurry to get somewhere or get something done. Jesus advice to me and other rude ones like me: SLOW DOWN.

1 Corinthians 14:1 “Let love be your highest goal…”

If we are to be people oriented instead of task oriented then we must create margin for people and reduce our pace.

We are looking at love and there are some things that love is and there are some things that love is not. Not envious-not boastful-not proud-not rude AND not in too much of a hurry. Jesus never seemed rushed-have you noticed that? He noticed people. He valued people. People were his task. He was not self-focused. He was others-focused.

Try slowing down a little around people today and see if you are able to improve the quality of your relationships.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Prayer for finances

I found this prayer today...
O Lord, I surrender my financial affairs and concerns about money to your Divine care and love.

I ask that you remove my worries, anxieties, and fears about money, and replace them with faith.I know and trust that my debts will be paid and money will flow into my life.

I have only to look to nature to see proof of the abundance you provide.

I release all negative thoughts about money, and know that prosperity is my true state. I commit to being grateful for all that I now have in my life.

I will learn to manage my finances wisely, seeking help where needed.

And finally, I ask you to help me understand my purpose in life and to act on that purpose with courage and strength. I know that prosperity will come, in part, by doing work I love.

Please help me use my skills and knowledge to be of service in the world.
In Jesus’ Name,AMEN

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” — Proverbs 22:7

Monday, October 27, 2008

God's pain

I've often heard people talk about God's heart breaking over our sin. Is that really true? Does God experience pain? Grief? Over us? Love suffers long. God suffers with us. I long for the day when His pain will be over. Irony-His pain will not end until ours does. What love.

Hosea 11:8 "Oh, how can I give you up, my Ephraim? How can I let you go? How can I forsake you like Admah and Zeboiim? My heart cries out within me; how I long to help you!

Green Eyed Monster

1 Cor. 13:4
Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud,

Love gives. Fear Takes Patience and Kindness are how we demonstrate love toward others. Love seeks the highest and the best for others. Envy, Jealousy, and prideful boasting are ways we seek to take from others. While patience and kindness require inner strength (love), envy and pride are signs of weakness. They reveal that we are empty or hollow and lack resources. From this dark inner place we seek to hurt others or use them to make ourselves feel better. It is actually a warped attempt to take love But envy and pride only isolate us more leaving us more alone and experiencing even less love.

Matthew 6:22-23 (NIV) 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
JesusHD is about seeing with perfect clarity. When you look at the world around you, what you see is largely determined by who you are. If you fail to see beauty, wonder-even greatness in others, it is likely you don’t see it in yourself either. You end up developing what some have called a green eyed monster. In the past, green has been associated with sickness or illness. In fact, some illnesses left unchecked will turn your skin green. Thus the term, green with envy.

Two Symptoms of Green Eye:
Jealousy: I want what you have and I feel sad I don’t have like you have. When you look at other’s success, possessions, relationships are you happy for them or sad for yourself?

Envy: I don’t want you to have what you have; I want you to lose it. When you see what other’s have, do you sometimes dislike them for it and wish they did not have it? Do you ever feel bad because of someone else’s good?

Getting Rid of Green Eye: Gratitude, Contentment

Colossians 3:15 (NASB77) 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.


1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.


Two More Symptoms of Green Eye:
Boastful: I talk about me. I want you to see me and tell me how worthy I am. It’s about me. There is always a large sucking sound coming toward me. In conversations, do you spend more time talking about yourself or asking questions about others?
Proud: I’m insecure. I think I’m better, smarter. I am at the center of my world. Read the story of Jesus washing disciple’s feet: What do you see about Jesus? What does Jesus Know?
John 13:3-5 (NIV) 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

How important is it to know what you have, where you come from, and where you are going are all about God?

How do I overcome these green eyed monsters?

Philippians 2:3-11 (NIV) 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When you look at others, what do you see? Do you see others who are better than you? How does it make you feel whan you see someone better than you? Do you think that you are a servant? Do you see other’s needs or just your own? Jesus said that personal greatness is achieved by being the servant of as many as possible. Do you believe this?

Until I learn to be content with what I have and live in gratitude toward God and others I will experience the darkness of envy and jealousy. In humility, I receive grace(inner strength) to celebrate greatness in others. Until I experience the significance of being loved, gifted and used by God I will look at others and feel insignificant.

Getting Clarity about Jesus:

1. Be secure in who God made you to be.
2. Be thankful or grateful for what God has given you.
3. Be excited about better for others.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kindness-the touch of God

"Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Matt 8:1-2

A few years ago a man came into our church facility. I was there alone. He asked if I was a pastor. I told him I was. He looked filthy and smelled of sweat. He had scrapes and soares on his arms. He said he had contracted HIV and needed help to buy medicine. Then he did it-He said his name and extended his hand...

I was just sitting here looking at my hands. To think of the places they have been and the things they have done. They look old and worn to me now. I wonder what they looked like the day I was born. I wonder how old I was when I threw my first ball, waved my first hello, gave my first hug, stole a combination lock from Albertson’s, made a fist and threw a punch. I remember folding my filthy hands in prayer and asking God to forgive me. I remember lifting my hands overwhelmed by love and forgiveness knowing they were clean and I could start over.

Jesus has a habit of touching filthy people.
In the Bible, Matthew writes of an untouchable. Here we meet a man that no one would touch. Not his wife or his children-no one. In fact, he had probably been banished to a leper colony. Leprosy was greatly feared by many. Few really understood it. They just knew they didn’t want it and this unnamed man had it. As far as he knew, from this point forward, affection from another would only be known in dreams. And then Jesus did it...

When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Matt 8:1-2

I wonder what that moment must have felt like for that man. For years, no one dared touch him. He was an outcast; a reject of society. Many would believe that he must have sinned greatly for God to punish Him with leprosy. And what does Jesus do? He reaches out and touches him. "I am willing!" I love that! Jesus is willing to touch us. He doesn’t have to, He wants to! It is His word that has the power not His touch. What’s amazing is that He could just speak his healing but He also touched. He is willing not only to heal but to touch us, to hold us; to embrace us. That is why I follow Him.

When the man extended his hand toward me, I must admit a battle of fear and faith happened inside me. And then I did it...I extended my hand, shook his and said, "My name is Chris. Good to meet you. What is it you said you needed?"

I pray that your hands are extended today. May your hands give love. May your hands touch the dirty lives of others. May your hands be God’s hands touching our world and broadcasting Jesus in HD.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

a world w/o kindness

The other day I was at the grocery store. I grabbed one protein bar and a bottle of water and walked up to the line. The place was slammed. There was a woman in line with a basket full of groceries. She looked at me and said, "You can go ahead of me". I graciously accepted and moved to the front of the line. I appreciated her kindness. I actually needed to get to a meeting and she releaved some stress about getting there.

Can you imagine a world without kindness? No friendly smiles. No welcoming hand shakes. No warm embraces. No letting people in traffic. No saying thanks. No one to help watch your kids. No welfare. No one helps any one with anything. No one brings food when you’re sick. No one calls when you’re missing. No one grabs your trash can when it blows down the street. No one comes when your country is invaded. No one gives when a hurricane floods your city. No one cares-no one is kind.

Really, what we are imagining is a world without love, and when we imagine a world with out love, we imagine a world without God. God is love and love is kind. There is kindness in the world today because God’s character has been embedded into his creation.

"For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature." Romans 1:19-20

So we who have been created in the image of God, even though we have fallen natures now, understand the need for kindness. It is a basic instinct that we should be kind. Why? Because God has put this knowledge of His kindness in our hearts.

I believe kindness is the most underestimated aspect of God’s life that is produced in us. Kindness reaches out and touches. Not only does it touch, but it changes us, it causes us to reflect deeply about who we are and change for the better. God is transforming us by His kindness and making us into people who do mighty acts of kindness in His name. His Kingdom is a Kingdom of kindness filling the earth with powerful expressions of His heart.

It is amazing what an act of kindness can do to change the trajectory of someone’s life. Acts of kindness are what link us together as a community and a culture. If no one was kind, our economic and social structures would quickly erode and life as we know it would end. Kindness is the glue that keeps our selfish world from falling apart and spinning out of control into a chaos of endless cruelty and hatred.

Why? Because God is kind. Kindness is His nature-His character. Believe it or not, He is holding all of us together right now with His kindness.

"The Lord passed in front of Moses and said, "I am the Lord. The Lord is a God who shows mercy, who is kind, who doesn't become angry quickly, who has great love and faithfulness and is kind to thousands of people." Exodus 34:6-7

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Let's get something straight...

What if right now, everything we knew, felt, believed about Jesus was suddenly turned “upside down.” Challenged. Tested. What if we came to realize that much of what we thought and believed about love, grace, forgiveness, Jesus, each other and ourselves was poorly defined at best and flat wrong at worst? JesusHD is about challenging our current image of Christ and getting deeper clarity-sharper focus. Before we dive further into 1 Cor. 13 (The Love Chapter) let’s get something straight. When you see things in HD, you see things you never saw before. Love is strong as much as it is gentle.

“Submit to God's royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of your pursuits— for his anger can flare up in an instant. But what joy for all who find protection in him!” NLT Psalm 2:12

Could some of us have a LD (Low definition/analog) picture of Jesus? Surely the Jesus of the New Testament would not give birth to such a passive church. Open the Bible to the Gospel of Mark and you immediately see a Jesus who commands the respect of leaders, fights the devil, and influences men to drop everything to follow him wherever He goes. I submit that some of us have been led to believe in a “nice” Jesus instead of a “good” Jesus. A nice Jesus would be afraid to tell people to quit jobs, spend extended time away from family, knock on doors unannounced, and die martyr’s deaths. I this what love looks like in HD? Patient? Kind? Forgiving?

No, Jesus is not nice but he is kind. He doesn’t play by “the rules”. He confronts people, is opinionated and filled with strong will. He threatens preachers who are in religion only for the money. He calls His disciples slow learners, wondering out loud how much longer he’ll have to be with them. People are always trying to trick Him so he shows them up publicly and calls them names like snakes and hypocrites and worse! He verbally rebukes government officials. He says things at church services that basically disrupt the entire meeting. One time he said something so hard that many of His disciples couldn’t take it and left him for good. What did He do? He just watched them walk away. Instead of nervously explaining himself, he turned to the rest of them and asked them if they would like to leave as well.

I think that some have unwittingly projected an image of a Jesus who doesn’t really exist. Thus many have believed in a wooden Jesus who was “perpetually somber, consistently robotic, and consummately nice.” This Jesus would not think of using sarcasm or being critical because He has nice manners.

Many sermons (including some of mine) have been designed to spin for us a Jesus who is always approachable, always calm, and endlessly patient. In his book, “No More Christian Mr. Nice Guy” Paul Coughlin says that kind of Jesus is “fiction right up there with the Da Vinci Code” he also says that Jesus was a dissident and “brought the world both- the kind of conflict and division needed to shake things up for our own good.” Jesus was not nice. He was GOOD. Good is the opposition of Evil. You overcome evil-you are not nice to it. In order to overcome evil you must take a stand against it. That was what Jesus did. He was a fiery revolutionary with clear goals and a focused mind. If you opposed Him or got in His way, He could put you in your place right quick-even if you were his “friend”. OF COURSE Jesus was compassionate and forgiving, he could weep and display love, but He was also unpredictable and people (including His disciples) learned very fast not to mess with Him.

It is this Jesus that I hope to present to you in HD. He rejects passivity and leads courageously. He rocks boats that need rocking and boldly speaks the truth in a very powerful and loving way. He commands respect and makes a difference. From a place of strength not weakness He “turns the other cheek”. He has a good and dangerous heart that fights evil. He fought for my heart and won it. It cost Him a great deal. It is in honor of such bravery and great sacrifice that I surrender my heart in love to Him.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Impotence

Many people wonder why the church is losing it's influence in today's world. Why are people voting with their feet and leaving in droves? Why are lives not changing? Could it be that the church and it's people have lost power? Have we become impotent?
1 Cor. 13:1-3 If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. [2] If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. [3] If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.

According to what you just read, without love...
  • What you say is annoying

  • What you know makes you know-it-all

  • What you believe becomes irrelevant

  • What you give gains you nothing

  • What you accomplish is worthless

In other words: Life unmotivated by love has no power. It is impotent. Worthless. Nothing matters more than relationships. And in relationships nothing matters more than love. God is Love.

1 John 4:8 (MSG) "The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love."

May your life be empowered by love.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

JesusHD


Now we see things imperfectly…we will see everything with perfect clarity.” 1 Cor. 13:12

A little over a year ago I went to a gathering at a friends for lunch. He had a football game on his gigantic new HDTV and the clarity was amazing. Never before had I seen so much detail. I had an HDTV but I did not have the HD signal converter so I went to the cable company and got one. I was amazed at how much of a difference seeing shows in HD made for the overall viewing experience. I would switch back and forth from ESPN regular to HD and just be blown away. In fact, I was up recently on Saturday night watching college football highlights and they played clips that were not in HD and it was almost frustrating how poor the quality seemed to me. Funny...that was normal to me a couple of years ago. And when I was a kid, I would be happy to see games in black and white. (Am I that old?)

I Cor. 13 has been described as the love chapter. It seeks to clearly define what love is and what love is not. But even after going into great detail, it say we still "see things imperfectly". I am convinced that it does not matter how much information I get "about" love, until I see Jesus for myself, my life experience is greatly diminished. Life is enhanced through connection to a Pure Source. That connection is Jesus. That Source is God.

An analog signal cannot deliver an HD image. If you are receiving an analog signal into your TV set you are missing a world of detail and definition. It does not even matter if you have a great TV. The source must be digital. God is Love. His Spirit is pure signal. His Son Jesus is an exact representation of God's image. Jesus is God in HD.
John 1:18 (NCV) "No one has ever seen God. But God the only Son is very close to the Father, and he has shown us what God is like."
How's your signal?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nightmare on?

I'm sure there were plenty of nights where Joseph woke up in a cold sweat having had a bad dream about what his brothers to him when he was a teenager. Maybe he dreamed of the cruel abuses suffered while a slave or the brutal beatings in his early days of imprisonment. All of us have nightmares. But some of us don't have them just while asleep, we live in them throughout the day.

Dreams are our hopes and aspirations for the future. Many do not allow this "future consciousness" to guide them forward because they live in the painful past. The energy required to fuel a God-given dream is consumed living in nightmares gone by. Joseph seemed to have found a way to reject the victim mentality and avoided bitterness against God. But just as significant, he was able to forgive his brothers who had wronged him and reconcile conflict. This allowed for the total fulfillment of his dream-a dream he no doubt did not fully understand until it came true.

I believe many have their dreams significantly diminished if not completely destroyed by unreconciled conflict in their past. Refusal to forgive allows the past to live in the present and blinds me from seeing the hope of my dreams. Many people ruin their health and their hope by taking the poison of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. Matthew 18:23-35 tells us that if we do not forgive people, we get turned over to the torturers. If you have a problem in this area or have ever had one, I’m sure you know what I’m saying. It’s torture to have hateful thoughts toward another person rolling around inside your head. What is worse is that those hateful thoughts from the past always turn into hurtful actions in the present sabotaging countless opportunities. Even people you want to love may be suffering from your bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness.

Do not allow the nightmares to live on. Choose to forgive and reconcile when possible. Do not leave behind you a trail of broken relationships-it will eventually catch up with you. Instead listen to the counsel of Jesus: Luke 6:27-28 (NIV) 27 "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
These are choices that save our dreams and wake us up from the nightmare. This is how we keep the nightmares of our past from living in our future. Sweet Dreams!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bitterness puts dreams behind us

With all that happened in Joseph's life it would have been easy for him to become bitter against God. Instead of blaming God for all his pain he declared God as the one who "made me forget all my trouble". Instead of accusing God of being the one has robbed him of his dream he said, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction." He chose to continue to love and trust God instead of hate Him.

I am sure Joseph had his moments of anger or even possibly dissallusionment with God but somehow he did not allow it to settle into his spirit. Bitterness is the establishing of roots from unresolved anger. There is nothing necissarily wrong with anger. God understands it-even experiences it. But anger will turn sour in our hearts if it is not properly expressed or resolved. It will begin to poison all our relationships and eventually lead us to turn away from God.

If we turn away from God in bitterness our dreams are now behind us. If we face God, especially in our setbacks and failures, our dream remains in front of us. Remember, it is God's Spirit who gives dreams and it is God's Spirit who fulfills them in and through us.

May we embrace God in our difficult journey toward dreams fulfilled. May we love and trust him in the dark places and let no root of bitterness be established in our hearts. Dream On!

Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) 15 Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God. Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison.

Monday, September 15, 2008

victims don't fulfill dreams

Just sitting here this morning thinking about Joseph's fulfilled dream and realizing just how much he had in his past that he was able to move on from and let it stay in the past. If his future was a dream, then his past was a nightmare. Abuse, abandonment, betrayal, false accusation, you name it. He seems to have had an amazing ability to survive, heal, and dream on.

Without minimizing any one's past, it is significant to note that many want to use the hurts of years gone by to excuse themselves from the future. They no longer dream and work hard to pursue it. They rehearse and nurse old wounds, medicate pain and maximize comfort. Not Joseph, he overcame and became the person he dreamed he would.

How did he do that? A lot could be said, but one thing is for sure, he resisted having a victim mentality. Never feel sorry for yourself!! The past may be filled with emotional pain and you can remain in this pain for your whole life if you choose. It will only cause you to gain many more personal problems, simply because you will be so busy being a constant victim. Unconciously some ruin many opportunities of happiness to keep on being a victim of life, a victim of everything.

Victims spend key relational moments trying to get people to feel sorry for them. They unwittingly sabatogue thier dreams thinking that that others feeling sorry for them is somehow healing balm. In reality it only creates more distance between them and others. People do not have confidence in "victims". Having dreams fulfilled depends so much on the help of others but sympathy or even empathy is not the help that people who live in self pity need.

At some point, with God's help we must decide once and for all to stop feeling sorry for self and adopt an overcomer mindset. We may not even need months of counseling to do this. Some of us simply need to be told that we can think differently, others need to be told to "just do it".

Mindset of Winner: 1. What have I got; 2. Makes thing happen; 3. How can I become; 4. Looks at the positive; 5. Finds ways; 6. Acknowledges responsibility; 7. Takes guidance; 8. Sees always wins ahead; 9. Listens more; 10. Creates goals for him/herself; 11. Learns from mistakes; 12. Forgives; 13. Long distance runner, patient; 14. Favors.

Mindset of Victim: 1. What havent I got; 2. Waits for things to happen; 3. Why cant I?; 4. Focuses on the faults; 5. Finds excuses; 6. blames others; 7. Knows all; 8. Sees always loses ahead; 9. Talks more; 10. Creates obstacles for him/herself; 11. Loses from mistakes; 12. Holds a grudge; 13. Short distance runner, burns out; 14. Blames.

May we not be defeated by living in the painful past. May we embrace a God who heals, strengthens, and fulfills our dreams.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

the person of my dreams

"Sow an act...reap a habit; Sow a habit...reap a character; Sow a character...reap a destiny."

Joseph was 17 when God gave him the dream of having world-wide influence. As a young man he was all too ready to tell others of his dream. He was his Father's favorite son, possibly a bit spoiled over his brothers. He may have even struggled with pride. If this is true, there was a big gap between the boy of big visions and the man who would one day fulfill those dreams.

When I think of the dream God gave Michelle and me 12 years ago, I know realize more and more all that God has to do in me before He will accomplish the dream through me. Joseph certainly discovered the same. It would be 20-30 years before he would see his dream come true. God would totally forge the crucibles of his character through betrayal, slavery, and imprisonment before Joseph would develop the kind of character to be the leader of a powerful nation. His refusal to quit, sowing of seed into the lives of others, risk-taking faith, excellence in work, and ultimate trust in Gog's sovereignty were all choices that "he made and God used" to make him into the person of his dreams.

What about you? Are you the person of your dreams? Are there some new dream choices for you that will lead to dream character? Character is the stuff of dreams.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Aerosmith theology


When I was a kid, a song came out called "Dream On". It is interesting to me how Joseph's story can be found inside the lyrics. Could it be that Steven Tyler of Aerosmith is a secret theologian? I think they look a little bit like Joseph's shady brothers.

Everytime that I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face gettin clearer
The past is gone
It went by like dust to dawn
Isnt that the way
Everybodys got their dues in life to pay

I know what nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know its everybodys sin
You got to lose to know how to win

Half my life is in books written pages
Live and learn from fools and from sages
You know its true
All the things come back to you

Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, if its just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good lord will take you away

Dream on, dream on
Dream yourself a dream come true
Dream on, dream on
Dream until your dream come true
Dream on, dream on, dream on...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ironman 6:30 tonight (Wednesday)

IronMan is back Wednesday @ 6:30 (tonight)
a vision, a code, a cause...


Ironman meets also on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays @ 6:30 AM
http://ncclv.com

Friday, September 05, 2008

If we dream on

Erwin Mcmanus says "Human history is dramatically affected by the dreams we try to live out. The dream of one person can create a different future for so many".

It is truly amazing how even one person who refuses to quit on his dream can bring about a different and better reality for the world.

Joel 2:28-29 (NIV)
28 'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.


What would happen if we began to discover our God-given dreams? What if we began to live out those dreams? What if we chose to dream on until our dreams came true? If we allow God to have our hearts, I believe He will pour into them a vision-His vision of what He sees us doing to make this world a better place.

As we look at the life of Joseph, we will learn a lot about what it takes to dream on. We will learn that God does gives dreams. We will learn that dreams actually come true. And we will learn how God makes it happen. DREAM ON!

New Series Begins...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

DREAM ON



It's been said that you are as young as your dreams and as old as your cynicism. It's easy to stop dreaming when life punches you in the stomach. How do we keep dreaming through life's challenges? The story of Joseph shows us how to dream through rejection, betrayal, and long delays. His fulfilled dream inspires us to "Dream On" until our God-given dream comes true.Join us for

Dream On

Runs through September

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Enriched in every way

For in him you have been enriched in every way…” I Cor. 1:5

Just sitting here contemplating this verse…its true how full my life is. The word enriched means to be made rich to the point of overflow. I have been given the gift of eternal life and the gift of fullness of life. God’s love has been poured out lavishly into my heart me through Jesus. So much so that He has washed away my millions of sins. I have been given gifts to teach and so God’s word overflows in my heart. I have been given the gift to give so resources flow into through my life. I have been given a wife and through her have obtained the favor of the Lord. I have been given a son who brings a continual flow of joy and enthusiasm into my life. Now I discover that God is giving me another child…are you kidding? I could go on and on....deep fulfilling friendships…income, house, more friends etc…yes I am enriched in every way! I can’t believe I get to live this life. Thank You Father!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

More is for me?


Three days ago, I received a check for $350 dollars. It was extra money that came in from an unusual source. I immediately thought about what I would do with my money. I have some debt that I’m aggresively paying off and I thought for sure that was what it would go to. Then I was also reminded of some financial challenges at the church. Then the wrestling match in my heart began. Do you ever have this happen to you? Do you ever have any extra money come to you? Is the extra always meant for you or does God sometimes want you to give to the cause of Christ? I also know of a single mom who is about to be laid off from her job for two weeks while the company does some end of summer repositioning. Is some of the money for her and her child?

I am learning that more is not always for me. I am learning that God provided it and He has plans for it. Sometimes it is for me and sometimes it is not. I must listen to His promptings in my spirit and live generously if I am going to be good at being rich.

Besides I think I will feel much more gratified by giving it to the Lord than spending it on my own self interests.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Tim 6:17-19

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Satan money trix


Satan has been discribed as the “great deceiver”.

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9 (NKJV)

He uses money more than anything else to hurt us and rob from us Joy and purpose. His power is the power of the lie. It is His greatest skill. For thousands of years, he and his demonic legions have studied the weakness of man and have found no larger vulnerability than our love for money. He is a master at exploiting this area-He goes straight to the root the human heart. His strategy is to get us to love money and have it actually replace God-even become god to us.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10

One we wander away from trusting God for our provision, we fall into any number of well-designed traps. They don’t look all that bad at first or we wouldn’t buy in to it but they are very cunning. Only after a period of time, do we realize (if we even do then), that we have lost our heart. Only after it is too late do we see we have hurt those we love the most. We thought we were chasing the American dream only to wake up in a nightmare of debt, divorce and depression. I have seen this. I have experienced some of it. Lost time. Wasted money. Grief.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17

The challenge we face on a daily basis is to examine our heart, humbly direct it toward the hope that is found in God and the riches of His Son the Lord Jesus. Then recognize and appreciate all that I already have from Him and enjoy it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rich Guidelines


Command those who are rich in this present world … to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Ok so we are learning how to be rich. We are going to stop chasing that elusive carrot and find and experience financial peace. We are learning how to take hold of the life that is truly life! Being rich God’s way runs counter to what you will see in culture and on TV. In fact, it runs against the grain of your natural inclinations. We have three things to do in order to be good at being rich:

1. Realize that you are already financially rich. Do not spend any more time trying to get rich. If God blesses you with more money fine-just don’t stress trying to lay up treasure on earth.
2. Enrich yourself in good deeds. Spend your time trying to make the lives of others better. Serve or volunteer. Get involved in your church or community.
3. Live on less than what you make and give to the cause of Jesus Christ. There are various ways to do this…your church, people in need, relief organizations.

This is how God says that rich people are to live rich and full lives. He also promises that it is a solid investment strategy for the next life. A heavenly retirement plan if you will.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

WAIT

These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day. Habakkuk 2:3 LB

There never seems to be any hurry about anything with God. Have you ever thought about this? I guess if you have a perfect plan there is no need for rushing around. The only time I seem to be in a hurry is if I did not plan for something or I simply forgot and now I’ve got to run to make it on time. I guess this never happens with God Huh? Must be nice to be perfect in all your ways…makes heaven a pretty laid back place I’ll bet.

I have been walking with God for almost 20 years now and I feel like I am just now starting to accept and appreciate this whole business of waiting for God’s timing. Much of our frustration in life comes from IMPATIENCE. I wan’t to know now. I want results now. I want food now. I want a spouse now. People don’t like to wait…I know I don’t.

Another prophet once said that people who wait on the Lord get fresh reserves of strength. He said waiting for God is like a sailboat waiting for wind instead of frantically paddling yourself. Eagles soar on exteme heights because of the wind. We can mount up on the wings of eagles says Isaiah. We can run long distances and walk as far as we need without growing tired if we wait upon God. Why? Because he is our strength and if we go on our own we go on our own power and our own wisdom.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

So listen for God. Write down what he says. And wait for His timing. To trust God with our frustrations, while also trusting His timing and His purposes…this is what Habakkuk teaches us.