Friday, October 31, 2008

A Message Worth Repeating

What is the single biggest barrier to us and God? Sin. This past Sunday pastor Dave preached a great message on the progression of sin. The heart of the message bears repeating.

His message was taken from the account of David and Bathsheba (which you can read about here, 2 Samuel 11). Sin doesn't just "happen." It's usually a progression. David's moral failure followed a progression that is common for all of us...my paraphrase of pastor Dave's message...

1) The Look: this is the point of initial temptation. A seed is planted.
2) The Desire: this is where the temptation takes root - it has not bloomed into sin yet, but in essence, this is the line in the sand; at this point we either "feed" the desire and give into sin, or we "starve" the desire and pursue righteousness.
3) The Action: this is the act of sinning. By this point we have fed the desire and it has given birth to sin.
4) The Consequence: all sin...let me repeat, ALL sin leads to consequence.

Consider two stories; first, David and Bathsheba. David is at home, not off to war with his troops where he should be. He sees Bathsheba (the look) and is drawn to her. The look leads to a desire, which David feeds. Very quickly this desire gives birth to sin (the action) which leads to huge consequences...murder, the loss of a son, and another son that ends up taking David's throne.

Consider a second story; Joseph and Potifer's wife. Joseph is home alone with her, she makes a move on him (the look). Joseph chooses to "starve" the desire and flees the scene. There was no act of sin, and no consequence of sin.

This leads to our practical application - when we are being tempted (by our own evil desires), do we feed the desire(s) or starve them? Remember this truth; "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Cor 10:13).

So, the challenge for us is to STARVE our desires before they give birth to sin. Easy to say, hard to do...but the challenge remains; "be holy as I am holy."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Where Would You Be...?

A large part of worship is responding to God. In order to respond to Him, you sometimes have to be still and quiet enough for Him to reveal Himself to you. He can do this in many ways; through Scripture, through His Holy Spirit, through nature, through others...but it usually requires us to LISTEN. So if you're reading this blog right now, stop and ponder this question...

"Where would you be with out Jesus?" What would your life be like? Where would you find your hope, direction, guidance, answers, healing, forgiveness? Let the answers lead you into quiet worship.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Have you made it out, lately?

Ok, I confess, I love to get out - it's one of the chief ways I worship God and feel His presence. Creation is SCREAMING that there is a Creator; and His name is Jesus (remember, He was there in the beginning). If you haven't done it, get out and enjoy the Fall for all it is.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Romans 12...

"Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." (Romans 12:3 - Message)

I read this Scripture this evening and a couple of things jumped out at me.

1) Living in pure grace
2) Understanding ourselves by what God has done

Those two things are related. I am very self-focused. I tend to evaluate life, experiences, everything but running it through the "Mike-lens." How it affects me, my part in things, etc. If I want it to be sunny outside and it's raining, I think maybe I did something wrong. If the stock market crashes, I wonder if my sin led to that. If things are going badly, I look at myself. In other words, life is all about me.

And yet, here we read Paul's words to understand ourselves by what God is and what He has done for us. And what has He done for us? The first part of the verse alludes to that - grace. God, because of HIS great love, makes a way where there is no way; changes death to life. Grace. It's the one thing I just can't wrap my brain around (and I suspect a great many people on this planet can't). Oh I get justice, I understand fairness, I can wrap my brain around law and good works, I totally understand conditional love - but grace?

Back to the two thoughts - live in pure grace and understand myself by looking at what God has done for me.

Every once in awhile, when I slow down long enough to ponder and consider who God is and what He's done, I begin to get overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude - this tends to lead me to a place of wanting to please God. Not out of compulsion, not out of duty, not trying to keep the law or earn something, but simply because I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. At times, it moves me to tears. And this is what Paul, I believe is wanting us to grasp - how high and wide and deep and long is this love of Jesus. A love that calls, that motivates, that compels.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rest...part 3

One of the principles of the Sabbath is slowing down.
One great way to force yourself to slow down is to take some time to observe.
One way I use to force myself to observe, is to grab my camera and go out into nature.

Literally, God's beauty and majesty can be found anywhere and everywhere. He is in nature; the pattern on a leaf, a tree that is changing color from green to red, the majesty of a sunset or the power of a thunderstorm. God is creator and we know from Scripture that creation itself is longing for Christ's return; when the curse is lifted. Stop there - the curse.

Have you ever watched the most amazing sunset and wondered, if this is earth under a curse, what is it going to look like when the curse is lifted? Or even more to the point, have you ever stopped to consider what your life would be like without Jesus? Rudderless, hopeless, pointless. My point? Do you every stop to consider...do you ever stop?

Sabbath. Taking a deep breath, pausing, observing, wondering, remembering, communing, worshipping, stopping.

Be careful if you try it - you might like it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rest...part 2

First, if you haven't read my post called Rest, read it first. Monday is my Sabbath Day. As a pastor, Sundays are always filled with things to do; therefore, my wife and I set Monday aside as our Sabbath. We are both learning what we need as individuals and as a couple to re-connect with God on the Sabbath. It is important; no, not important - it is absolutely necessary...as necessary as breathing is.

Two days ago was our Sabbath day. It was a day unlike most others; and yet, it didn't quite meet my expectations. As I look back, it is not hard to see why. Yes, the day was different...and no, we didn't exactly work...but still, the day was full. A couple of errands, fixing a garage door, a beautiful dinner, visiting my new nephew (now almost 1 week old) - a lot of good things, and yet not quite what I need.

I am a fast mover, my wife always trying to get me to slow down. This is what I need most on the Sabbath. To sit, read, rest. To get out into the wilderness, talk with God, bask in the beauty of His creation. To observe things; a bird, an owl, the fall colors, the sound of the wind. To listen; God speaks through many voices, but almost all of them are hard to hear if I don't slow down. I am learning...slowly. What about you? Remember these keys...and they go in order.

1. God loves you...
2. God created the Sabbath for you...
3. The Sabbath is not a suggestion, but a command...because you need it so badly.

I am already looking forward to my next Sabbath...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More from Romans

Some thoughts for today;

Romans 1 has this statement in it; "Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus..."

Did you catch it? Two tasks for us as believers. First to receive the generous gift of his life and second, to pass the gift on to others. How do we receive the gift? Three words; Faith, Trust, Obedience. Faith in believing what we can't see and embracing it, trust by allowing God through Jesus to take hold of and takeover our lives, Obedience by making sure our actions line up with our life.

This is easy to type, hard to live, and yet, as Paul says, our task is urgent. People are dying; literally, figuratively, spiritually. Of course, Paul is simply echoing the Great Commission that Jesus gave - to make disciples of Christ. How am I doing? Am I leading people towards Him? Am I living through Faith, Trusting God and Obeying Him? Am I fully surrendered? Am I fully committed?

Today I am reminded of two great calls on my life; to receive the gift...daily, moment by moment, hour by hour, surrendering myself to Him - and to pass this gift onto others.

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