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.