Sunday, October 26, 2008

Remembering an illustration.

Several years ago a friend of my Dad's showed me a joke/illustration that had a great message. The story starts with two men walking up to the pearly gates, and Peter asks them for their tickets to enter. They walk away and one decides to make a ticket out of a piece of paper in his pocket. He begins to fold the piece of paper, and the other sees what he is doing and asks for a piece of paper that he might make a ticket as well. So the guy tears him off a piece of the paper. Realizing that he has damaged the paper he was going to make the ticket out of he unfolds it, and what's left looks like a cross, and Peter tells him that he may enter. The second guy takes his piece and begins to write down all the good deeds he had done. When he finished he went back to Peter, but Peter told him, those are some fine things, but you can't earn it with works, only by Jesus, and sent him away. The joke is kind of silly, and works much better in person and includes the visual of folding and tearing the piece of paper. The point is that Jesus is the way to heaven. I did the folding and tearing and realized that when you tear the piece for the second Guy it is four squares given to him, and if those four were folded and torn you would then have 5 crosses, and 16 more potential crosses, and I realized that this would continue infinitely with increasingly small crosses. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that Jesus is our ticket, if we were to share him with four people, who in turn shared him with four people they knew, who in turn shared him with four people, the gospel would spread extremely quickly, and the greatest part is that the real ticket does not shrink or decrease. Jesus is limitless. You are probably thinking that I am nuts for making a big deal out of some random joke told years ago. But to me I find it encouraging that if you looked at it in that way one person stepping out and sharing the word of God, can change a multitude of lives, but the reverse is also true one person who takes the good news of Jesus and does not share it is robbing hundreds, or thousands of people from that good news.

Who do you chase?

Have you ever watched a dog chase his own tail? It can be a hilarious site to behold, but if you think about it, we as humans often do the same thing. No, I don't have a tail, but when I chase the things I desire instead of chasing God's glory, and righteousness, it is the same thing, just as ridiculous, and self defeating. The scriptures tell us that if we seek to save our lives, we will lose our life, but he that gives up his life will save it. As I reflect on my life, I see that I have wasted a lot of time running full speed after things that in the end do not matter, or worse yet things that drew me farther away from God. If it were not for God's mercy and grace neither myself or anyone else would have any hope, but we serve a God, who sent his son for us, while we were still sinners. An example of God's mercy is taught by Jesus through the parable of The Prodigal Son. I am not going to recount the entire parable, (you can read the full account in Luke 15:11-32) I would like to point out that the father in the parable is God, and we all have been the prodigal son, and possibly felt like the bitter son at times. Jesus said "his father saw him and had compassion, and ran to him." God is waiting and watching for us to turn and chase after him, and will when we turn to him run to us, and be right there with us through out the journey.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fasting: is it for today?

The idea of fasting is one that has become fairly uncommon in many of the denominational churches I have attended. No one would step out and say it was no longer necessary, but no one talked about it at all. I have come to the conclusion that it is expected that we fast from time to time. I will give scripture below. I think that fasting may be particular important in our culture here in the US, because we in general have had things so well. It is good to feel the deeper hunger of going a couple days or more without food. To show us the kind of longing and yearning we are supposed to have toward Christ. I think that the act of fasting when done properly can bring you to a place spiritually where you can see things in a different light. If done properly it will likely draw you closer to God. One important aspect is the motivation for your fast, your fast is to be between you and God, it cannot be to please men. Matthew 6:16-18 Moreover when you fast do not be like the hypocrites with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly I say to you they have their reward. But you, when you fast annoint your head, and wash your face. So that you do not appear to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, "can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
I Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self control.
The first verse you will notice says when you fast, it does not say if, it is assumed that you will fast.
The second verse says they will fast, this is future tense, and since there is no clause limiting it to the first century, I conclude that it carries forward to the present.
The third verse, is actually flat out telling husbands and wives to fast. In context Paul is writing about the relationship between husband and wife, and specifically tells them to fast; hmm, perhaps fasting is an important part of modern christianity.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey

It is time for Christians to wake up. As a whole we have become complacent. We have stopped being the church, we simply go to church. I personally believe that the words we use to describe things deeply impact the way we view and behave toward things now and in the future. By using the term "going to church" we imply that we are not the church. This is contrary to the bible where it describes us as living stones, and our bodies as God's temple. We are to be Christ's body everyday of our lives, this is what it means to be the church. We should be reaching out to those around us. We should be proclaiming God's good news to all the people we come in contact with. We should be on fire for God, shouting with joy from the rooftops his good news, so that people who are lost might hear and believe. Christians, here in the U.S, where we do not risk being killed for speaking of Jesus, do not proclaim Christ, while the first century Christians proclaimed him even though they risked death, imprisonment, and torture. It is time to preach on the street corners in America, it is time to reach out to our communities. It is not happening nearly enough, and I believe that this goes back to the idea of "going to church" rather than being the church. By using the term "going to church" it makes it easy to compartmentalize our Christianity to Sunday and Wednesday, and delegate our individual responsibilities to the ministry staff. We need to drop to our knees in prayer daily, and then leave our houses and boldly proclaim Christ. We need to wake up and actively seek the lost, and be excited about our Jesus who died for us.

Hungering for Christ.

In the United States even the poorest of people would be considered rich in many other countries. Most of us do not really understand hunger. We mostly have plenty to eat, all the time. So what does it mean to hunger and thirst for God and righteousness?
I think that it is important for us to find it in and of ourselves to be desparate for God's presence. We need to be yearning deep within the very core of our being to see his will carried out. This is difficult, it does not come natural or easy, but it is important all the same. To achieve this we must present ourselves broken and empty before God, and allow him to fill us. You cannot achieve this while still seeking to please yourself or other men. Our God is a jealous God a consuming fire. He deserves the preeminence in our life and will accept nothing less. To deny him this position in our lives is to rob him of that which he bought at great price, at the price of his son bleeding upon the cross. If we allow ourselves to be emptied of our flesh. Christ will fill us and show us what it means to hunger and thirst for him.