Sunday, May 31, 2009
What would it be like if it had not been the Lord on our side? Who would we turn to? Where would you find the strength to continue through life's challenges? I think most of us can look inside our lives and see what we have turned to instead of Christ to fill emotional needs. Maybe it is overindulgence in food, alcohol, drugs, religion. Whoops lost everyone didn't I? Well believe it or not I believe that we can get so caught up in our religion that we do just as the pharisees, and have all the right actions, and all the right words, which equals religion, but miss out on the relationship. Sometimes I think that people use religious legalism to fulfill a need for acceptance in their life. They puff themselves up by pointing out the flaws in others, and in doing so feel accepted, and fulfilled. The goal is for your religious acts to be motivated by relationship with Christ. You can say the prettiest prayer in church, and if the relationship with Christ is not there it is of no worth. You can lead singing in perfect pitch, but if the relationship with Christ is not there, you would be just as well off silent. Sorry for the tangent, but back to my original point. So often when I am frustrated or upset, or bored, or in some way unsatisfied, I find that I turn to worldly things for comfort instead of the one who paid my debt upon the cross.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
One of the challenges to the operation of home churches, is the need to remain small, due to the smaller meeting area, and as necessary to facilitate the partipatory, interactive meeting style. This makes it necessary for the groups to be willing to split off as God leads in order for growth not to be stifled. In our meetings we have now undergone two splits and are now three groups of believers, praise God for this growth. It is different to refer to splits in the group as a good thing, from most of our backgrounds the idea of a church split was a terrifying prospect. However for us it is good because we understand the church to be much more than the building we meet in. I did however wonder if any of you would be interested in participating in a blog dedicated to sharing news from one house church to the other. With internet technology as it is it would be very simple to create a blog with authors from each house church group to share how God is moving in each group. Please respond with any feedback.
It seems to me, that it is very easy for us as humans, to get into a routine, and be comfortable. We don't really like for anything to upset our schedule. We stay focused on getting all the things done that need done, and making our finances work out until next payday. In the midst of all this, and the million other things that keep us running ninety miles an hour to who knows where, we forget to live. All we do is what it takes to get through the day, we never stop to enjoy the day, or be grateful for the chance to live it. We don't take the time to focus on what our goals are, and what it takes to achieve them. I think that it is very important to schedule some time in our lives to just sit and think. Turn the t.v. off, sit in a comfortable place, and be silent for a while, then maybe pray a little bit. Ask God to show you what direction he would have you to go. Then go and live your life, truly live it, don't just survive it but engage, learn from every experience, enjoy the journey.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
After two days of working long hours, and as not one thing I attempted to do today worked out right, I came to a point at about eleven, where I just wanted to give up, pack up my stuff and go to the house. Unfortunately my day was not even halfway through and the afternoon presented even more set backs and frustrations, and as I worked on a job that should have been much easier, and much less time consuming, still very much wanting to give up, I found myself begging God for just a little more grace. Now before you throw the "Was Jesus not enough?" stone at me, let me clarify. Jesus is definitely enough, and way more than I deserve, but what I was seeking was for me to show more grace to the circumstances around me. It is easy to accept grace coming to us, but much harder to look at the set backs and frustrations in life, and let it be okay that life some times throws wrenches, in even the best laid plans. My plans by the way are not the best laid, however, I really like for them to work. While still exhausted I found that very soon after realizing that it is unfair for me who is far from perfect, to expect perfection from my surroundings, I was no longer angry and frustrated about the way things were going. Not pleased with, but accepted them.
Monday, May 4, 2009
In a land far away, and a time long ago. A watchman sits in the watchtower of the town wall. As he stares at the horizon he sees a large shadow approaching. It draws closer and grows larger, and from the shadow the shape of men and horses emerge. Men dressed for battle with shields and swords, thousands as far as the eye can see. He sounds the trumpet, and shouts aloud "enemy at the gates." The town is aroused the women and children flee to the center of the town, as the men put on their armor. Amidst the confusion one man is found turning his dwelling inside out seeking his armor, having been so long since he used it, he can not find it. He hears the sound of arrows clattering against the walls and the stone walkways outside. The sound of battle grows, with a loud crash the ram hits the gates, and again BANG BANG CRASH, and in run enemy soldiers they have entered the city, the battle begins. with naught, but a sword he rushes to the battle, and is quickly cut down. The battle ends and the town endured, and as they collect the dead for burial, they find one soldier without any armor, and instead of being remembered as a hero who fell for his city, he remains the soldier who was unprepared for the battle. A disgrace. My friends as a Man who grew up in church. I heard Ephesians 6:10-18 many times yet still I walked to the spiritual battlefield without any armor, and not even a sword. I fear that this is true for many christians today. It is common to go to our church meetings and sit bored, and wish it was over, then return to living our life not so very different from the world around us. This is not the life God has called us to. God said, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all these hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on Salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Christians arise the enemy is at the gates. The devil is not a fairy tale told to scare children, he is real and he is a mighty opponent, a lion seeking whom he may devour. There is a battle to fight, and we have a God who provides all we need to stand, but we must stand, we must be alert to the reality of the battle. You can choose not to fight, but you choose to lose if you do. Satan does not need a reason to attack, he is opposed to all who would turn to God, we can not afford to avoid the battle, or to walk unaware and unarmed. Every boy who grew up in the church loved the song "The Lord's Army" but somewhere along the way as we grow up we decide that the battle and adventure is a fairy tale, and seek that which is comfortable. It is time now to see the reality of the bible and truly be in the Lord's army. There is no sideline to sit and watch from, you are either for God or against God. I will close with Joshua 24:14-16 So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The principle of acceptance is central to the way we live and who we are as individuals. The things a person is able and willing to accept in and about themselves define the way they live and act. But it is deeper even than that the way we perceive other's acceptance or rejection of us, also deeply impacts the way we view and interact with the world around us. I have noticed that often the very things we do to try to gain acceptance of those around us are the very things that drive people away. We as humans in general want to be accepted, and want people to like us, unfortunately what it costs to be accepted by the world, is God's acceptance. As stated in James 4:4 "Don't you realize that friendship with the world, makes you an enemy of God?" Too often it is the case that we trade the priceless gift of God, for something that will perish and pass away. Search the world from ocean to ocean, from mountain to mountain, and tell me this. What will you find that is worth trading the gift of a relationship with the one true God? Who will you find that can meet the needs of your soul the way God can? Who will you find that can challenge God's strength, his wisdom, his love or his mercy? By what other name, can you find salvation? If you search for a thousand years you will not find anything or anyone to fit even one of the above criterion much less all.