Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A New Student Minister & Thanks

Just recently, University Baptist Church called a great young minister, Patrick Bailey, to be our new Minister to Students. He has the daunting task of leading a ministry targeting Jr. & Sr. High Schools and Collegiates. Either one would be daunting on their own. Combined, I’m questioning his sanity, at least in the long term!

I would ask that you pray for Patrick and his family. They arrived in Macomb on Thursday night and a good number of our members arrived to help them unpack their truck (thanks everybody). Friday morning changed the good arrival. Patrick’s wife, who was 7 months along in a pregnancy, began spotting and bleeding. At the doctor’s office they were unable to find a heartbeat. To make a long story short, the baby did not survive. They are on the other side of a very unexpected funeral for their son, Colin.

Please lift the Bailey family up in prayer and ask that the God of all Comfort would wrap His arms around them and give them peace. Thank you Patrick and Angie for having the courage to follow God and bring your family all the way up to IL; and to stay despite such a rough start. It shows the confidence you have in God’s call, and the strength of conviction to stay with it. I know that is the kind of faith God desires to grow in each of us.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank and commend the members of University Baptist Church who went out of their way to support and encourage Patrick & Angie. The love and open arms you poured out this weekend was astounding and brought great comfort to them. But not just them, but to me as well. I wish I could say I had a part in it, but it is clearly the work of God in your hearts. All of this also lets me know that I am truly a part of a loving fellowship, and that if anything in the future happens to me or my family, I know that we will be ministered to by you. Thank you again for touching this young family with the heart of God.

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sermon--8-27-06--I'll Take You Back

I’ll Take You Back—1 John 3:11-16

I want to share with you a familiar story that Jesus once told but with the rules of this world guiding things instead of the heart of God. as a result, the same basic story has a very different ending.

A son goes up to his father and tells him, “Dad, I can’t wait to get away from you and all your self-righteous rules. Just the sight of you makes my stomach turn. In fact, I don’t want to wait for you to die to inherit your fortune, so why don’t you go a head and give me what’s mine right now, so I can go on my way and be rid of you forever.”

Hurt, angry and confused, the father gives his son some money. After the son has moved off, the father begins to hear stories of his boy’s wild living—throwing away his hard earned money. With each story and each day, the father’s anger grows. The father expects that some day soon, that ungrateful boy is going to come crawling back to him and when he does, he’s going to get more than just an earful, more than just a whipping.

“I’ll finally get a chance to teach that boy some respect.” The father is so looking forward to this day of teaching his son a lesson or two that he begins to watch to road for his return.

One day, when the son finally comes home, broken and seeking forgiveness, calling out—“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” Instead, the father rejects his pitiful pleas and immediately calls the police, has him arrested for trespassing and convinces the judge that he needs to serve 10 years with a cellmate named Bubba.

What makes the parable of the “Prodigal Son” so popular and so powerful is that it describes the love that we all HOPE gets shown us. It shows love that is the exception, the extraordinary, and the wonderful. It is so contrary to the way that most of us think and act.

Most of us have had conversations like the one between the father and son with somebody—an ex-friend, a family member when the feelings are the same—“I can’t stand being around you anymore. I can’t wait to get away from you, just the sight of you makes me sick.” How many divorces end this way? How many friendships end when you’re hurt, angry and confused?

Years can go by and one day, you see them, bump into each other in some unexpected place, or they come and find you to say, “I’m sorry.” All those feelings and memories can come back in an instant. How do you respond in that moment? If we were to live and operate by the basic principles of this world, we’ll react with “Get outta my face!” or “You treat me like dirt, say a little ‘I’m Sorry’, and you expect me to act like nothing has happened?”

The general rule of the world is—if you inflict pain on my or wrong me in some way, I’ll never forgive you for it. I will hold on to it forever and I’ll look for a way to get back at you for it. Don’t ever expect me to trust you again.

John calls for us to not carry that kind of attitude with us in life. It is exactly the kind of attitude that motivated Cain all the way back in Genesis—but before we go there, look at 1 John 3:12

1. Resentment Motivated Cain—Genesis 4:1-12 & 1 John 3:12-16
a. Can had made an offering that would have been fine, but his heart was not in it. He was going through the motions. God saw through the motions and did not look on his offering favorably like He did Cain’s brother, Abel. Cain felt rejected by God—and was angry at God, but instead took it out on Abel and blaming him instead of searching his own heart.

b. It’s like the kid in school that thinks all the teachers are just out to get him, because they’re always getting on to him. This kid assumes the teachers must pass on warnings to each other to watch out for him, always assuming the problem is with them being out to get him, rather than his own bad behavior that goes with him to each class.

c. So Cain resented his brother and wouldn’t consider his own heart, wouldn’t consider mercy, wouldn’t consider letting his life go on with this self-perceived slight. But the problem wasn’t with his brother, but the fact that his own heart and actions were evil—

d. Cain’s anger and hatred moved him to murder which is why they are the same in God’s eyes—vs. 15—“anyone who hates his brother is a murderer”.

e. It’s also why Jesus linked the anger and murder in Matthew 5:21-22—“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder” and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Not a different kind of judgment, but the same judgment. The root of murder is anger, and anger is murderous in principle.

f. Can you look at your life and see similar feelings of resentment and anger towards someone? Are there those that have wronged you, that you don’t want to be in your life anymore, that you wouldn’t take back, who’s apology you would never accept?

g. You need to know that those feelings will affect you and hurt you more in the long run than any actions done in the past.

h. What about the flip side? Have you ever been on the other side of that fence? A time when you wronged someone and they wouldn’t accept your apology, told you they never wanted to see or speak to you again.

i. Don’t get me wrong—forgiveness is not easy—it’s not really natural either. Holding on to a memory of pain and hurt is a good survival tactic—it helps you avoid being hurt in the future. But I want you to consider that the only way we are able to forgive is because we have been forgiven. True forgiveness is a gift from God. We have been forgiven so we are then free to forgive. Colossians 3:13—“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

j. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways—but what if they were?

2. What if God Shared the World’s Attitude?
a. If God had the same attitude—you and I would be in real trouble. We would be on the outside of heaven, longing to be let in. if God wouldn’t have anything to do with us ever again, if God wouldn’t speak to us, listen to our prayers, or become unwilling to love us, then we would have no hope for living or going on.

b. We need to remember that God has reason to treat us this way—He has just cause—He has been hurt—by us—by you and me. We have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

c. We reject and resent Him every day. You and I wag our finger in his face and call on Him to stop judging us, giving us guilt, or to stop trying to spoil our fun with all Your rules.

d. If God treated us like we treat those who hurt us, we should expect no mercy. If God treated us like we treat our enemies—we should expect rejection. And we are His enemies when we have no relationship with Jesus.

e. Colossians 1:21—“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Alienation implies that there once was relationship but that it has been broken.

f. We are born as sinners, essentially God’s enemies and we prove it every day when we sin. We are held captive as slaves to Satan before we belong to God.

g. We think and act like we know it all. We can’t wait to do it all on our own. Humanity has become so arrogant that many believe we don’t need God anymore, that we have advanced and figured everything out so much that so humanity has proclaimed that “God is dead”—as if He were merely our invention for us to raise and kill at our whim.

h. We’re afraid that God will treat us like we sometimes treat others—“Get away from me, I don’t love you anymore” We fight at every step, we resist His guidance and will, we prefer our pain and separation to His Embrace and Healing.

i. We even have the nerve to claim that we know what love is based on how we treat each other, based what we see around us and how we act. And yet any quick glance at the magazine racks or the TV can tell you our society is totally confused as to what love really is.

j. But the truth is, apart from God and His faithful love for us, we don’t really know what love is. And God didn’t just tell us about it—He demonstrated it for us. Vs. 16—“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.”

k. God is the one who knows something about love. Love is His nature and He created us in order to love us and so we would freely love Him in return. Despite our hostility toward Him, the pain and sorrow we cause Him, through it all—God takes you and me back over and over again.

l. You may be afraid, you’ve messed up too often, for too long or too recently, but God will take you back. Because Love Forgives.

m. The real Father of the Prodigal Son shows the heart of God—you can see it in Luke 15:11-32. The father took his son back, despite all he had done, all the pain he had caused. The father didn’t take his son back as the son suggested, a slave, a hired-workman, or a second class child—as one who would always hold his error in his face. Instead, the father celebrated the son’s return and took him back as the heir he had always been. Even in the pigsty, the prodigal never ceased being the son, never ceased to be an heir—he just wasn’t living in reality.

n. God doesn’t treat us as we deserve, but gives us His grace—His love that we don’t deserve.

o. Romans 5:6-11—“ You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

p. Wherever you are, wherever you have been, whatever you have done, God will take you back when you turn to Him, when you come to your senses and seek His forgiveness that is freely given in Jesus Christ. And He will come running to meet you because
He’s been looking forward to your return and expectantly waiting for you all this time. He is calling your name right now. He wants to hear you say—“Father, I have sinned against You and I’m sorry. Please forgive me and come into my life and help me to fulfill what you created me for—to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.”

After this message, I sang "Take You Back" by Jeremy Camp

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Bunker Church

If we just come to church
To be seen by our friends
And don’t put our hearts
In our prayers and amens

If we belt out the songs
Just to hear ourselves sing
We’re worshipping Church
Instead of our King.
(author unknown to me at least)

It is easy to make any church into a Bunker Church--one that sees the evil descending around them and so they build a bunker to ensure their survival. However, any church that does this will only choke the life out of it and minimize it's impact on the surrounding culture.

Sadly, God may have to drop a Bunker Buster Bomb on some churches in order to get them to open up to their call to proclaim His Kingdom. We've discussed on Sunday nights lately that if we as the church want to truly advance the good news, it will sometimes put us in uncomfortable positions because we'll be around people who don't necessarily share our beliefs and values. I pray we allow ourselves to become more uncomfortable, but more faithful to our task as salt and light.

Any suggestions to how we can avoid the Bunker Church?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sermon--8/20/06--Why Are We Silent In Worship?

Why are We Silent in Worship?

An expressive woman wandered into a very traditional Baptist church service. As the pastor preached, she became so caught up in his message that she exclaimed, “Praise the Lord!” A fellow worshipper leaned over and whispered, “Excuse me, but we don’t ‘praise the Lord’ in the Baptist church.” A man down the pew corrected him: “Yes we do; it’s on page 19!”

So many times we try to schedule and program our worship. That we are only able or only allowed or only need to worship at certain times during the week.

The Bible says we should magnify the Lord and rejoice in Him forever. What does that mean? A minister once wrote:
“One recent evening when the moon was full, I studied it from my back porch. It seemed as clear and close as the globe on the lamp post. Finding binoculars, I steadied them against the railing and magnified the moon. In other words, I focused on it, made it larger in my eyes, and studied it until I was overwhelmed with its ivory plains and dimly outlined mountains, with its splotched craters and jagged edge.
What happens when we magnify the Lord? Just that. We focus on Him, make Him larger in our eyes and study Him until we’re overwhelmed with His brightness; His love, His grace, His care, His power. And when we do that, the next verb comes into play—we rejoice in God our Savior.

Magnifying Christ brings joy to our hearts, joy that levels every mountain and fills every valley. “O magnify the Lord with me and let us commune with me and let us exalt His name forever.”

John 4:1
The issue of worship is vital to our walk in the faith. Yet too often, we are silent in our worship. We aren’t loud enough in our praises. We don’t praise often enough. It’s as if we think worshipping God only happens in church—and nothing can be farther from the truth. The potential for Worship exists, it happens while we are praising Him in every step of the life we are given. In fact it was Jesus’ real point when He was talking to the Samaritan woman in John 4

Here is Jesus, having walked from Judea all day, sitting to rest. He’s by Himself in a neighborhood most Jews of His day avoided because the disciples have left to find food (vs. 8). And Jesus asks a woman of shady character for a drink of water—He reaches out to her.

Will you give me anything to refresh me?

Here, Jesus is asking if this woman is going to take the opportunity to refresh Him—to give, to serve, to worship. This was an unusual situation because in the first place, a Jew wasn’t supposed to associate with Samaritans—vs. 9. Even taking a drink from something she handled would have made Jesus ceremonially unclean and unable to fully participate in Jewish life. Second, most men, especially rabbi’s didn’t speak to unknown women—it was too much of a potentially compromising position.

She said, “How can you ask me for a drink”—nothing I have is right for you, what I have will compromise you.” In other words, she believed that as a Jew, Jesus wouldn’t want anything from her, that He couldn’t really benefit from anything from her. And that is how so many think of God. I’m no good, I’m not worthy—I’m too much of a sinner—there’s no way God would want to have anything to do with me, nothing that He could be happy or blessed with. But that is a lie. God seeks out broken and hurting people to worship Him.

Jesus said in vs. 10—“If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” In other words, you don’t know Me or who I am—if you did, if you really understood the gift that God desires to give and the joy it brings Him to see you receive it—then you would be asking me for that refreshment.

Like this woman, you may not think you have anything in your life to refresh God with—you may not think you are good enough or have anything to bless God with—but you do—it is your devotion and your worship.

More and more I believe we are silent about our everyday worship b/c we don’t know what God expects in our worship or as worshippers.

Whether you sing good or not is not the issue. Do not make the mistake of equating singing ability with worship ability. They are not the same things. A great singer can put on a great performance and please the hearts of men and women, but without their heart truly being in or devoted to what they are doing. They may please the church audience, but they don’t necessarily please the Audience of One—the only One that matters.

Our everyday lives are too silent with our worship b/c we have a misunderstanding of what God expects in our Worship and of us s Worshippers.

What God Doesn’t Expect In Worship

1. Complete Understanding
a. Worship is not about how Smart you are or how much you know. There is no education requirement in order to qualify to worship; no GPA minimum, You don’t have to understand or write a paper on Holiness in order to sing—“Holy, Holy, Holy”. There is no Test to Pass before you are given the right to worship. Some of you are probably very happy about that or will be in a few weeks.
b. Vs. 11 shows us that this woman didn’t know what Jesus was talking about, she’s talking about the well, and how Jesus doesn’t have the right tools—“where can You get this living water?”

c. Later in vs. 22—Jesus told this woman that she and the other Samaritans, tried to live a life of worship even though they worship what they don’t really know, what they are unsure of. They struggled because everyday in the back of their minds, they have to be wondering, “what if the Jews are right?”

d. We are called to worship—and sometimes our greatest moments of worship is when we are confused, when we are heartbroken and yet we still cry out to God, we still praise Him in the Storm as a popular song says. We don’t have to understand it all to Praise God! Praise Him for what you do know. Praise Him if all you know of Him is that He loves you; even if the only thing you’re sure of is that He saved you.

e. Knowing you don’t have to have all the answers, knowing that you can worship even in moments of confusion and times of struggle or trial Frees you to pursue God with all your heart soul mind and strength—you will not be silent.

2. God does not expect Moral Perfection—
a. It is not how Good you are. Worship in it’s most real form is a testimony of just how much you need Him.
b. If you were morally perfect, you would be an object of worship, like Jesus, more than a giver of worship. Even Jesus, in His sinless perfection spent a great amount of time worshipping and seeing opportunities to direct others to worship and praise in daily life. Remember, it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick—it is those who have been forgiven much that often have the greatest awareness of the Grace of God.

c. Too often, you and I let the reality of the sin in our lives keep us from truly praising God at every opportunity. It is our unholiness that truly keeps us from rejoicing in God’s holiness. And yet it is precisely b/c of our unholiness that we need to be about worshipping and singing about His Holiness, declaring His praises.

d. Jesus knew exactly what this woman’s life was like—vs. 16-18. If this were happening today, the last place this woman would feel comfortable in is in church because the sin in her heart. Sin that she knows is wrong, that she up to now, won’t do anything about, is there screaming in her ear that there’s just no way God would want her to be here. That’s why she went to the well alone when she did.

e. But Jesus knew what her moral life was like and yet He still invited her to Worship God for who He really is.

3. The Right Place—
a. Where you are doesn’t matter all that much. You don’t have to be in church in order to worship. Coming to church helps many of us come together and worship God together. This woman, vs. 19, was confused about the whole debate of worship and it was tied to the belief that Location Drove acceptable worship—if only she were in the right spot, then she knew God would hear her better.

b. We act is if our worship won’t count unless we’re standing in the right place. You’ve got to be in your pew in your church, otherwise you’re not truly worshipping God.

c. But we can worship anytime, and anyplace. Jesus said in vs. 23—“a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem”. The location won’t matter b/c God is Spirit—what will matter is His presence—. God is not limited to a spot, a holy place, a shrine, building or anything. As a believer in Christ—You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit—you take God with you wherever you go.

d. He will never leave you nor forsake you and we don’t have to be silent, we don’t have to be afraid. So you don’t have to be in church in order to worship. Instead, you can take any opportunity to praise and glorify God wherever you are, whenever. You can worship Him in the car, in the store, at work, Mon-Fri, 24/7 you have the opportunity to worship.

e. On a related point, God does not, at this point anyway, demand

4. Compulsory Worship—
a. At this time, God does not force anyone to acknowledge or worship Him. Worship has to be a matter of the heart—it is not something manufactured or mandated, parents can’t make you do any more than go through the motions, but True Worship is a genuine expression of a person’s spirit to the heart of God.

b. The Jews and Samaritans were arguing about the How’s and Where’s. They attempted to force people to do worship according to their rules and expectations. People were looking over their shoulder worrying if they were “doing it right.” Worship must be in “spirit and in truth” and God is actively seeking out those who desire to know Him for who He really is, who Respond to His call to Worship Him, and desire above all else to glorify their Savior with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

c. Worship will only become compulsory when “every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:10-11

What God Does Expect In Worship
1. A Desire—this woman, even in her sinful life still had a desire for something more.
a. She wanted more than she had, she knew there was a great longing in her heart “give me this water”—vs. 15. She believed that a Messiah was coming and she was looking forward to it—vs. 25—when He comes, He will explain everything to us” She wanted to know, she wanted it all to be explained to her. She had a desire to truly worship.

2. A Recognition—“I can see you are a prophet”—vs. 19—God desires us to recognize His Greatness, recognize it when He calls us, when He confronts us. He desires us to respond to who He is—He is our Savior, our Creator. When we truly recognize how Great, Awesome and Holy, Jesus is, then we cannot help but respond in true worship.

3. God Desires The Heart of a True Worshipper

a. Worshipping God in your spirit is more than just vocal it is all that you are focusing on His goodness, on His grace poured out on you—with all the distractions put aside.

b. Worshipping God in Truth—is a recognition of who He really is (how big, awesome, worthy & Holy) and awareness of who we really are (small, but valuable to Him and in need of salvation). Truth is also about having the right understanding of Him—the best doctrine—even doctrine is important in worship otherwise we’re worshipping something other than God for who He really is.

c. God seeks out those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth—He pursues them, He cultivates them, He grows them. He is blessed by our worship—it pleases Him, it is like a pleasant aroma.

d. The often overlooked thing about a True Worshipper is

4. An Eagerness to Include Others—vs. 28-29, vs. 39
a. A genuine heart of worship cannot be silent about what God is doing, about what He is teaching. One of the most underrated forms of Worship is Evangelism—fulfilling the Great Commission. Only when you recognize our Awesome God as Worthy of Worship will you truly have the desire to tell others about Him. A Genuine Heart of Worship cannot keep silent but continually sings the Praises of God.

Where are you today? When you examine your worship—do you think you have to know it all, to be morally perfect, or do it in the right place? That’s not the kind of worship God seeks. He seeks and desires broken, sinful people calling upon Him in faith, in spirit and in truth. Are you one of those people? Are you a true worshipper?

It all starts with a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Mindset of Biblical Interpretation & Labeling

There’s been a good discussion over on Wade Burleson’s Blog—about how you define a “Christ-Honoring, Theologically Conservative Evangelical”. Read about it Grace and Truth to You: A Good Definition of a Christ-Honoring, Theologically Conservative Evangelical

I added that the above can be defined as “anyone who agrees with me” and those who don’t are a “liberal”. It got me thinking about why we are so apt to label those who disagree with us and I wanted to offer this possibility.

Most of those participating in these types of discussions or take a great interest in theology took great care in establishing what they believe and why they believe it. Pastors and others today spend hours reading, studying, learning from the Word of God and most of all, asking for wisdom while believing that God will honor as well as answer that request.

So, after much study and growth, after trusting that God has revealed a theological conclusion regarding a passage or a doctrine we are convinced that we have heard the heart of God and so know and understand Him better.

And then we come across someone who has a different understanding, a different interpretation to a said doctrine or passage. If we truly believe that “God is the same yesterday, today and forever”, then we have a hard time reconciling how the same God can lead 2 people to different interpretations.

As the mindset goes, since we know how much time, effort, and prayer we put into establishing our position, we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and conclude that the other guy must have missed something or wasn’t really listening to God on this issue. You conclude they may be a great person and believer, but they’re just falling for one of Satan’s old tricks on this particular issue.

So the mindset is to trust your time, efforts, motives and convictions while inherently having serious doubts directed toward those who disagree. That’s how a Christ-Honoring, Theologically Conservative Evangelical” (which of course I am) becomes a “liberal” when they disagree with me.

I know this is simplified, so please feel free to add more to it.

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,


Thursday, August 17, 2006

I've Been Tagged

That’s it, I’ve been tagged by my good friend Kiki Cherry. It’s been making the blogging rounds lately and while secretly wanting to be tagged, I’ve been sinking lower into my chair as I see the depth of reading of others that I’m not doing. Granted, many may be faking their titles like some pad their resumes, but for most, I doubt it. Here is my pitiable excuse for reading.

1. One book that changed your life: This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. This was given to me by a friend for my 18th Birthday (thanks Kevin). After drifting into a New Age curiosity, this book helped bring me back to reality, especially as it helped me understand what my source of authority is going to be. Lots of things sound good, but the Bible must be the lens that I evaluate truth claims about God.

2. One book that you've read more than once—The Lord of the Rings—3 books but 1 story

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island:
How to Make Friends and Influence People—if anybody ever does show up, I know they’ll like me right?

The Man Who Listens to Horses by Monte Roberts—if I’ll listen to the animals, maybe they’ll listen to my rants—I’ve got to have some conversation better than a volleyball. Hey, is there a Dolphin Whisperer book, maybe I could talk them into swimming me out of there.

The Castaway Diet by Tom Hanks???

Anything written by MacGyver—I’d love to learn how to make a GPS Satellite Phone from bamboo and gum wrappers

4. One book that made you laugh: The Da Vinci Code—Dan Brown expects you and I to be idiots when it comes to history and the claims of Christianity. Sadly, he’s right ABOUT US most of the time. But his claims really made me laugh quite often.

5. One book that made you cry: --to me, this category just screams the lines from Sleepless in Seattle—“Well, I cried at the end of the Dirty Dozen” or A League of Their Own—“There’s no Crying in Baseball”—The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker—3 books (Black, Red, White), 1 story—had some powerful equivalents of God’s love and pursuit of you and me.

6. One book that you wish you had written: Kingdom of the Cults

7. One book you wish had never been written: I could go with Mien Kampf or the Humanist Manifesto , but I think I’ll go with The Bible for Dummies—just by the title alone, anything that plays into and/or encourages our biblical illiteracy is a bad thing. The Word of God should not be treated so flippantly.

8. One book that you are currently reading: EKG: The Heartbeat of God by Ken Hemphill; The Air I Breathe—Louie Giglio

9. One book that you've been meaning to read: Breaking the Missional Code—Ed Stetzer or The Barbarian Way—Erwin McManus

Now the hard part. I'm supposed to tag other people. But I only know one person with a blog that hasn't been tagged to my knowledge. Maybe, they can answer on mine? I don't know how this works. If that's the case, then I could tag all my readers from UBC.

And Uwem Ekpenyong--I know you blog from time to time, not often enough my friend.

Fatherly Moment

I’ve recently experienced a fatherhood milestone. Years ago when I was a child, I remember playing my Dad in a game of chess. It was an early game for me and I lost—boy was I crushed. It was a while before I wanted to play again. I wanted instant success—and if I couldn’t win, I didn’t want to play. .Didn’t he know that Dads are supposed to let their sons win??? Of course, immediately forgotten were all those times he really did let me win, made easier by the fact that I was convinced he didn’t “let” me win anything. I won solely on my prowess and cunning as player.

Fast forward to last week and in several days since, my son Gabriel has been getting into checkers. For the first time, I didn’t let him win. Oh, I was nice for the most part, but I didn’t lose. Maybe that’s my competitive ego (in fact, I’m sure there’s a lot to that), but also, he needs to learn that you often get better when you lose, because it makes you want to learn faster and play harder so it never happens again. Also, he needs to learn that he’s not going to automatically be the best at everything. That winning and doing well takes work and practice. I was never a great horn player b/c I hated practicing. If Gabriel wants to be great, he’ll need to work.

At this point though, how does a father balance those types of lessons with the fragile hearts of their children? After all, my son is still convinced he’s stronger than me, faster than me. I want him to have successes and enjoy playing the games, but how much of the “if I don’t win, I don’t want to play” attitude spills over into the rest of life? How will it effect his attitudes later. Could they contribute to a “me first, me only” kind of attitude? Is this false reality of always winning contributing to the self-centeredness of our whole society?

He played an older girl the other day. He won the first game, she won the next three. And he was OK with that. It’s not as OK coming from Daddy. What to do? How to balance?

How does this affect our walk with God? We sometimes think we’re winning or pulling one over on God, but He’s not fooled. Our prayers are often more of a list of wants, than prayers for our daily needs and the needs of others. When we don’t get our wants, we pout and instead of “I don’t want to play anymore” we say, “I don’t want to pray anymore” Just one letter separates those 2 statements—and yet we think they say so very different things. Do they really?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Would you drink this?

I wrote this while sleepy last night--I've made a few neccesary edits and corrections.

The following link is to a story of an unusual tree that gives a new understanding to the "weeping willow". Read the article,here

Here are the pictures associated with the story.

I don't know what to make of it or the cause, but I find it amusing that people are already claiming healing properties and are probably planning pilgrimages to the soon to be "holy tree". So many are thirsty for the supernatural that they are willing to embrace anything but the one God who is truly supernatural. Everything else is created by Him and for Him.

A conversation tonight was on Genesis 1 and how so many of the other religions of this world on some level worship the earth, the trees, the sun or moon, and yet these are all created things--and the implication is why would you waste your time worshipping these things when you could be worshipping the Creator who made these things?

It's worse than going to a dealer when you can buy factory direct! Picture this scenario. Imagine going out to eat with your family. You have plenty of money and you're not in a hurry. You're in a crowded restaraunt, waiting for a table to open for you, and the moment a group gets up to leave, you rush and sit down. The table hasn't been cleared yet and you pick up a dirty fork and begin eating all the leftovers on the plates. That's crazy! But our foolishness doesn't end there. Eventually, the waiter comes along and asks to remove all the plates, give you menus, and is willing to give you your meal on the house since you had to wait so long. And instead of taking his offer, you insist that your family is satisfied eating the scraps and you act contented with the meal.

That's not even as bad as what we do when we commit idolatry by worshipping anything other than God in our lives--worshipping and serving the created things, rather than the Creator as Romans 1 puts it. So many would rather have the cheap carbon copy, than the real thing--rather have the plastic pearls over the priceless pearls given as a gift.

The Father seeks worshippers who will worship Him "in spirit and in truth". Through Christ, we are invited past the outer courts, past the beurocracy, past any hindrance and into the Throne Room of God. We are invited to an audience with the Almighty God and we turn Him down. And so often our attitudes are more like "anything but that" rather than the three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration when they essentially--"let's settle down and stay right here". We'd rather have the scraps than the true and living God.

Why do we do this?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sermon--8/13/06--Why Are We Silent?

Why Are We Silent? 8/13/06

At an old seminary, there was a custom that the president could call on any student on any day for that morning’s chapel sermon. One young man was petrified, and each day he dreaded going to chapel for fear he would be called upon. Sure enough, one day the president rose, looked over the audience, pointed directly at him and said, “young man, you are to preach our sermon today.”
The student rose, but as he ascended the platform he was a nervous wreck. Looking over the congregation, he couldn’t speak. His mouth was dry, his knees were knocking together, his hands were shaking, his mind was reeling, and he felt he had a biscuit stuck in his throat. Finally he stammered, “How many of you know what I am going to say today?”
Nobody raised a hand. “Then neither do I,” he said, and sat down.
The next day as the students filed into chapel, the president again pointed to the young man, giving him a second time. But again, the young man was gripped with stage fright, his hands and knees shaking. With a tremor in his voice, he finally stammered, “How many of you know what I am going to say today?”
This time everyone raised their hand. “Then if you already know, I don’t need to tell you,” the young man said and promptly sat down.
The president of the seminary was angry, but he decided to give the young man one last chance. The next day, he again called on the student, and this time the student was even more nervous than before.
His mouth was thick and dry, and he felt he was going to faint. At last he muttered, “How many of you know what I am going to say today?”
This time, half the students raised their hands and the other half didn’t. “Then those of you who know,” he said, “please tell those of you who don’t!”
That is what a missionary is. Those of us who know telling those who don’t.

1. What Keeps Us Silent?
a. Fear—Phobias can paralyze us to the point that we are unable to speak. When Peter followed Jesus after His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter could have spoken up for Jesus, could have shouted Jesus’ innocence. But Peter did not—he largely kept quiet and watched. And when he was confronted, Peter denied even knowing the man. Peter was afraid and it kept him from acknowledging his Lord. Likely he was afraid for his own life, or being charged with a crime, after all, John 18:26 tells us that a relative of the man who’s ear Peter cut off recognized him. Fear or rejection, fear of persecution, fear of injury or harm, fear of saying the wrong thing can keep us from saying anything at all.

Embarrassment can also keep us quiet. We’re embarrassed about being known as a Christian. It means we might not be invited to certain events or parties, we may not be a part of the “in” crowd. Paul had an idea of what Jesus felt.

2TI 1:15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.

2TI 4:16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them

The reason they may have deserted Paul was because of his arrest and imprisonment. Their shame at associating with a criminal.

2TI 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.

Paul later commends Onesiphorus for refreshing him and not being “ashamed of [his] chains.”

Jesus stands for certain things that may not be popular that make us stand out from the culture, and when we claim Him as our Lord and Savior we are categorized as one of “those religious nuts”. Embarrassment can keep us quiet, but something to consider is whether Jesus would be too embarrassed to acknowledge knowing you or embarrassed of some of the things you have done or said? I would say yes, but He stands with me anyway!

We all have family that we wish we weren’t related to, but Hebrews 2:11 lets us know that in spite of our sinfulness, Jesus calls us family.

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises."

Embarrassment should never keep us quiet because our sin doesn’t keep Him from acknowledging us. Instead we should be unashamed like Paul in

2 Timothy 1:11-12—“11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

Romans 1:16:--“ I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:”

Are you too embarrassed to share your faith with your friends, neighbors, coworkers.

b. Doubt or Confusion—“I won’t believe”—Thomas wouldn’t have much to share so long as he doubted. Until his heart and mind saw the Lord and knew that Jesus was raised from the dead, Thomas had nothing to share with the world. He had no conviction, no passion, nothing that would draw people to

Do you still have doubts about your faith, so much so that it keeps you silent? Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen and believed.
Hebrews 11:1-- Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see

If you have doubts, if you’re confused,
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
MK 9:30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

James 1:5—“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

c. Some people are silent using the excuse—“I don’t Have the gift of evangelism”—That is the epitome of confusion and it’s wrong—there is no spiritual gift of evangelism— You may not be called to the office of an Evangelist—but you are called to evangelize. Sharing the good news is expected of all of us.

d. You share the Good News in everything you say, in everything you do—you either give a good impression or a negative one. You often witness without opening your mouth, but if you don’t open your mouth, they don’t have a chance of understanding their need for salvation and the only way to get it. Does doubt or confusion give you an excuse to keep you quiet?

e. Sin—can keep you quiet. The guilt and shame we carry around with us acts like a zipper on the lips. Sin attempts to keep you quiet whether your life is full of sin or if there is only one. It screams out your hypocrisy, it focuses on your unworthiness. Sin can keep you quiet.

What sins are keeping you quiet? I remember hearing a commercial with a very important tag line—“to talk to your kids about their problems, first you need to get over yours.” It’s the same thing here. Your sins, your guilt, your hypocrisy will keep you quiet.

f. Lastly, Satan—he knows all this stuff about us, he knows which excuse we listen to most and which we can ignore. He is the roaring lion prowling around searching for someone to devour. One of the things he wants to devour is our voice. Satan uses fear and wants us to be afraid—afraid to share our faith, afraid to obey the call of God.

g. Satan creates doubt and confusion in our hearts and minds to render us mute. He Tempts us to sin so we will be focused on things other than God. He convinces us we’re not really forgiven and lies to us so that we will not open our mouths to the awesome love and forgiveness of God.

h. These things keep us silent. But we must not allow any of these things to keep us silent.

i. Instead we must Ask for the opportunity

j. Continually Look for the opportunity—“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile”

2. Know What You Want to Say
a. Unbelievers Need to Hear Certain Things—An unbeliever needs to hear something different than a believer. 1 Peter 3:15—“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Always be prepared to give an answer—you need to know what you want to say.

b. Preparation means that you are getting something ready before it is needed in the moment. They don’t need to hear so much about the weather, aches and pains or politics—it’s OK to talk about those things, especially if they are building relationships with the goal of sharing the Gospel, but Unbelievers need to hear about your hope.
They need to hear about your testimony, your expectation and surety of forgiveness and eternity.

The passion with which you share gives an indication of how important your hope really is. It says something about what your hope is built on. What is your hope built on? Hopefully, nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

c. If you are prepared to share with unbelievers—knowing what questions to ask, what analogies are effective, to direct someone’s thoughts to the grace of God, then you won’t be as likely to be silent. If you know what you want to say about your hope because you are prepared to do so—you won’t be silent. And you will share your hope with Gentleness & Respect, not being baited into arguments, you won’t be disrespectful or condescending b/c you’re not just winging it.

Just like you need a plan for unbelievers, you must also have a different plan for believers. Believers and Unbelievers are at different stages in their life.

d. Believers Need to Hear Certain Things—look at—2 Tim. 4:2— be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.” Be once again we are called to be Prepared to have something to say—have a plan.
In Season and Out of Season— is not like Deer or Turkey season when you only have a few weeks out of the year to legally do it. It means that we are to never let a day go by that you are not ready to open your mouth with the important things of our faith. Our lives and our words are to be seasoned with Salt

e. When you speak—not if—you must make sure you are speaking with the right heart. You must have great patience—you must do so with careful and reasoned instruction—“Just do it” doesn’t help—“What’s your problem?” doesn’t convey the patience needed. Don’t speak out of maliciousness, or an “I told you so” attitude.

Be prepared to—Correct a misunderstanding of God, Rebuke each other without superior or judgmental motives, behavior that is contrary to the Word or God or does not glorify God. In the loving “I want the best for you” kind of way, We often learn best by our mistakes, but if no one is there to tell us we’re wrong, we will continue in our error.

f. Encourage each other to greater lives of faith— Believers need to know what is right, they need to know the right way to live, they need encouragement. And the tone and heart with which you do so will sometimes be more important than the words you share. Your hope, really God’s hope is to see the believer grow in their faith.

Knowing what you believe and why you believe it is important and vital but even more than that is a burning love not for a set of doctrines or beliefs, but for the Person that inspires those beliefs. You know your hope only because you know the One who inspires your hope. And if you are passionately pursuing your Savior, you can’t help but tell people about Him. No amount of fear or embarrassment will be able to keep you quiet. Matthew 10:27—“27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”

God helps us not to be silent!

According to Joshua 1:9—“Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” God gives us courage because He is with us.

When we don’t know what to say—Luke 12:11-12— "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." This promises that the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say often by giving us power and words to know the Bible better than you ever have, or insight into what a certain person needs to hear. We just have to trust Him.

Plus, you will never know your faith as well as when you are sharing it. The more you share, the more you become familiar with it, the more it becomes yours—Paul knew this and taught it in Philemon 1:6—“ I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

Why are we silent? We have a God who loves us so much that He was willing to die for us. He spoke in our behalf; Jesus was not ashamed to be called our brother. He was not silent but shouted out His love from the Cross. He is not silent in calling to you right now—He is speaking to you.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Three things I know are not in the Bible

1. God helps those who help themselves--sounds proverbial, but God never inspired Solomon to write that one in any language, privately or publically

2. The United States of America—I know this one will surprise some, but a lot of countries have put an eagle in their national symbol.

3. King James—while both “king” and “James” are in there, the two together as a proper name do not. While a great translation, we need to remember that the Word of God doesn’t need a human being’s authorization

Any other examples of things assumed to be in the Bible?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Did I write this... I could have

Dear God,

So far today I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper, I haven't been greed, grumpy, nasty, selfish or over-indulgent. I'm very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on, I'm probably going to need a lot of help.


This morning my alarm went off at 6 AM. Of course, for some reason I was waking up at 1 AM, 2 AM, 3 AM and 5 AM and actually, just a few minutes before the alarm went off. There was no burden that I could sense, just a sense that I didn't want to oversleep and be in a big hurry.

There have been a few times when God has awakened me with a burden to pray for something or someone--most of the time, I think I miss it because I want to get back to sleep. Do you have any accounts of God waking you in the middle of the night? What was it? Did you ever hear any confirmation or resolution?

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Top 10

Top 10 Things Moses Gained/Missed by being raised an Egyptian

10. He wasn’t killed like all the rest of the Hebrew boys

9. He missed out on all that fun slave labor

8. He didn’t have to go to bed listening to everyone complain about the day’s work

7. All those wacked out classes explaining the weird Egyptian deities

6. Those great headdresses with the snakes that Egyptians got to wear

5. Not having to pick out the straw and much from his fingernails every night

4. Sleepovers at Pharaoh’s palace without having to make big donations to the re-elect Pharaoh fund

3. The dream of seeing his face in stone

2. Higher education without having to pay back government loans

1. No random whippings.

Sermon--A Life of Integrity--1 Samuel 12

Samuel’s Legacy of Faith

A Few Years ago, a Frozen Pizza line had commercials that asked an important question of those on the verge of death--What Do you Want on Your Tombstone? Pepperoni and Cheese?

How will you be remembered? Unfortunately, neither you nor I are in much of a position to determine that. Typically, how you are remembered is dependent on the impact that you had on the one’s doing the remembering.

I am ready to meet my Maker.
Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal
of meeting me is another matter.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Thomas Jefferson

Last week we skipped ahead to compare the annointing of David to the annointing of Saul. This week, we're going back to look at what Samuel believes to be his last act of public ministry. This is his farewell speech.

Thinking he was essentially done with public service and ministry now that Israel had the king they wanted, Samuel called the people together to say goodbye and to remind them once again what he had spent his life building.

Samuel didn’t want to be remembered for the battles he had won, he didn’t want to be remembered for the prestigious role of anointing the first King of Israel, successes didn’t matter, wealth didn’t matter, buildings, statues—all the measures of success didn’t interest Samuel, they weren’t what he wanted to be remembered with.

Samuel Wanted to Be Remembered for His Life of Integrity &
For His Call to Faithfulness as a Prophet of God

What is the most important legacy you can leave? The legacy of a life of Integrity, a Legacy of Faith

1 Sam. 12—Life of Integrity
12:1-3—Courage to Stand on Integrity
Samuel was a remarkable man. By all accounts he was generous, he was honest, he was true to his faith, to the people and to God. He was so confident of the standards of his life that he was willing to stand before the people and say something powerful, something I want to be able to say after a long life of service to my Savior—

“Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and His anointed.”
He hasn’t taken anything that didn’t belong to him
He hadn’t cheated anyone or taken advantage of them or his position as leader
He had not oppressed anyone by laying a heavy burden on them, or belittled anyone because he was better and more important than they were.

Standing in front of a large group, challenging them to find any fault, after years of service… takes a great deal of courage. I don’t think there’s many politicians, pastors, professors or anyone else that would do that without sweat popping up on their forehead—with a straight face.

Just in case Samuel had missed or forgotten anything, or had truly done anything wrong, what’s amazing is that if anyone does have proof of some impropriety, any wrongdoing, then Samuel promises to “make it right.”

Samuel didn’t want to talk about all his accomplishments, brag about his closeness to God—he wanted to talk about his life, his behavior, his reputation, his integrity.

When others think of you, what will come to mind? Have you taken, cheated, oppressed, or taken a bribe? If so, then you need to acknowledge your wrong and admit it, first to yourself and then find the appropriate way of making it right, of restoring your integrity. Some courts are requiring criminals or violators to make restitution for their crimes—but the man or woman of integrity won’t have to be threatened, won’t have to be coerced. The man or woman of integrity will want to do the right thing, once the fault has been brought to their attention.

Is integrity the most important consideration you have when examining your life? Integrity before God, integrity before people? Or is something else more important? Your status in town, the size of your bank account

The people understand Samuel and consider what he asks of them. Here is their answer—vs. 4-5—The people testify to the life of Samuel, that he was good to them, that he was honest, that he didn’t manipulate the faith to improve his own situation by taking the best cuts of meat, the best offerings, that Samuel had not cheated or oppressed them. Every one of these things the people had seen done in others—they knew how this list manifested itself—they had been cheated and taken advantage of, they had been oppressed by those who served as priests. But the people could not say those things about Samuel.

For Samuel, all the other things he could have thought of in for his final address, all the other things he could have pointed to for his success as a prophet were of little importance compared to his integrity. If his integrity failed, his message failed. That’s why he desired the opportunity to submit his life to scrutiny.

Not only His life of Integrity—But Samuel wanted to make sure no one could forget his first and most important role as a Prophet of God—the calling of which came when he was a mere boy and was used by God every step of the way. Samuel wanted to be remembered for Pointing the People to God.

Samuel’s Life as a Prophet
READ—vs. 6-11—his life was full of Reminders of God’s Goodness—as if he was a good historian teaching his class—reminding them of all the evidences that God has provided of His faithfulness and power.
Even in what he thought was his last day of service, Samuel was still faithful to point people to God—giving God the credit for everything.

As a Prophet, Samuel didn’t stop with the things God had done, but he once again, brought up the people’s responsibility to follow God—Samuel wasn’t afraid to step on a few toes. His integrity allowed it. Imagine how easy it would be to dismiss Samuel’s pleadings to Honor God in life if you knew he had cheated people, taken advantage of them or failed in some moral area.

Samuel wasn’t interested in pandering to a few fair-weather fans. He truly wanted to see them all fulfill their covenant with God, to truly be reconciled to God. He calls them to obey. Only someone who is more interested in God’s opinion over public opinion is willing to do this. READ—vs. 12-22

Popularity was not his chief goal. He is mirroring how Paul described his ministry in Galatians 1:10—“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” God’s approval of Paul’s ministry was far more important than any popularity contest or public approval.

Samuel is not afraid to step on toes—he tells them plainly of the consequences to their behavior in vs. 14-15. And they have to take his words seriously because he’s not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Samuel still expects to be able to call upon the power of God and display it before all to see. In other words, Samuel wants them to know that he serves a higher and greater power than them than even the King. Israel may have a king, but they are still answerable to God.
The people still know and recognize Samuel as their prophet, their representative of God’s Hand in their lives and Community—vs. 19

Samuel wants them to know in vs. 20 that they must be willing to Serve God no matter what—despite past failures, despite their mess ups they were expected to continually follow God “with all your heart”. I am thankful for this verse because it is another confirmation that God doesn’t throw me away when I sin and mess up in life. Even then, God wants us to return to Him and follow Him.

Samuel wanted to see the spiritual fruit at work in their lives for generations—he wanted to try and ensure that a legacy of faith was passed on from father to son. So he again urges them to not turn away to “useless idols”. He reminds them again of the reason for God’s faithfulness in vs. 22—“for the sake of His great name.” God’s own integrity was on the line but also God’s joy at making a people for Himself.

To this end—Samuel conveys what he thinks as one of his last statements to them, the Necessity of Prayer and his care for them—vs. 23. Samuel’s Integrity and Life of Faith will not allow him to ever stop praying for them, to ever stop calling for the best for them. He is still the people’s teacher of what is good and right. Samuel still, in 24-25—Continues to Direct People to a right relationship with God and warns them to do what is right.

That is a life of Integrity—a lifetime serving God. From beginning to end, Samuel’s heart and life was on display. No one could find fault with him. That is the greatest legacy we could have—it’s not fame or fortune, but a life of integrity and a life of directing people to God.

Imagine what it would say on Samuel’s Tombstone.

Here lies Samuel—Called by God—Faithful to the Call

How do you want to be remembered? What do you want on your Tombstone?

Jesus lived the ultimate life of integrity—He was Sinless. Jesus was the most Faithful to God’s Call—because that call required Him to give His life. He died for you and me, that we might be brought to God. Where Samuel urged and warned, Jesus paved the way—and He is paving the way for you right now--

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Could this be said of us?

“[These Christians] love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If a man has something, he gives freely to the man who has nothing. If they see a stranger, Christians take him home and are happy, as though he were a real brother. They don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit, in God. And if they hear that one of them is in jail, or persecuted for professing the name of their redeemer, they all give him what he needs and, if it is possible, they bail him out. If one of them is poor and there isn’t enough food to go around, they fast several days to give him the food he needs.… This is really a new kind of people. There is something divine in them.”

~ The Athenian philosopher Aristides, defending Christians before the Emperor Hadrian

How Jesus would want it to be.