Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Relationship # 2

"Practicing right relationship is the key to finding purpose, fulfillment, and increasing effectiveness in your congregation" (Sellon & Smith, Practicing Right Relationship, The Alban Institute, 2005).

Wow, Sellon and Smith sure said a mouthful there! The key to effectiveness in any home, group or organization is contingent upon people knowing what healthy relationship looks like and then practicing it. You can click on the following link to view a healthy/unhealthy relationship wheel diagram to learn more on this subject - http://labmf.org/facts/relationships.

The fact of the matter is, if we are not consistently practicing right relationship we will naturally default to one or more of the common behaviors that destroy togetherness. In counseling I refer to these specific actions as "the coffin nails of relationship." When "the nails" are used the "lid" on intimacy is slammed down and secured and people are driven further apart. Often times making it more difficult and less desirable for them to engage relationship again. In the Church this means that people feel unloved and under valued, ministry is stunted, effectiveness is lost, and motivation is squelched.

What are the "Coffin nails of relationship?"
One, FIGHT: start an argument, criticize, compete with others.

Two, FLEE: Leave emotionally (or actually), change the subject, sweep things under the rug, stop talking.

Three, FREEZE: Stop contributing to the health of the relationship/group, stop sharing self emotionally, withdraw, become helpless and paralyzed.

Four, CARE TAKE: Have all the answers and exclude others, dominate, do all the talking, and worry about a third person (or another cause) and not work on the problem.

Five, TRIANGULATE: This refers to talking about people but not to the person whom you have the problem is with.

So, are you relationally functional? What does that mean? The difference between functional and not is this ... Functional people can identify a problem, admit they have a problem, seek solutions, and work the solutions. Dysfunctional people generally make others responsible for the problem and wait for others to change. They will consistently blame, shame and defame the people they have issues with and will not value relationship (or Christ's mission) enough to find or work out healthy solutions.

Are you practicing right relationship at home, work and at church? Thanks for stopping by today!

Monday, June 29, 2009


"Being the best one can be in one's relationship system is extraordinary leadership" (Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership, Tyndale Press)

Relationship is important when it comes to leadership. The study and practice of it must be priority number one. The first area of study in relationship is self. To borrow the phrase made popular by Plato we must "know thyself." Sometimes (maybe most of the time) the greatest obstacle in overcoming our relational dysfunction begins with an assessment of ourselves. What affects do we have on others? Are we part of the problem by continually circulating negative emotion, etc., through our relationships at work, home and church?

In family systems we use the words "togetherness" and "fusion" a lot. Togetherness refers to the "emotional glue" that people share in healthy relationship. It speaks of a level of openness, transparency, venerability, intimacy, validation, etc., that naturally occurs between people who take personal responsibility for self and live accordingly with other like-minded people.

Fusion, on the other hand, refers to the interdependency and reactivity people can grow into through relationship if they do not maintain a healthy perspective. When fusion occurs people give away a portion of self to another. Personal boundaries disappear and self becomes the responsibility of another. If we are unhappy it is due to the other person's action or lack there of. If we have a problem it becomes the responsibility of the others to fix it. The result: when anxiety occurs everyone in the relationship experiences and reacts to it.

Conflict occurs and people become less motivated when a leader refuses to take responsibility for self. It is only when one is willing to stop, examine self, and work on the personal impact one is having on relationship will healthy change occur and positive energy be infused into our relational system. Healthy leaders "know thyself" and the impact their attitude and actions have on another. Are you striving to be such a person? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Men's Fight Club

This Saturday at 7:30 am the Men's Fight Club will meet in the church Cafe' for fellowship and Bible study. We will continue our look at another "core truths about Jesus found in the Gospels." This week is number six: "Jesus is the source of healing and deliverance."

Key verses: Mark 1:23ff and Luke 11:20.

Once again we are looking for the implications this has for the Church/Christian and examples of how we can live it out.

I hope you will join us this week! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who grows the Church?

The key point from yesterday's blog was that "growing the church" is Christ's work in and through us and we must constantly be looking to Him for direction and definition. That is what Paul had to remind the Corinthians in 3:1-15. They has lost perspective with Jesus and were going about church their own way; viewing it from their own fallen viewpoint and setting their own agenda.

Paul's conviction on church growth seems to rest on human inability. Possibly that is why he said "only God can grow a church" because growth (health)is more than numbers. Only God can impart new life, supernatural life.

If growth was simply just getting people through the doors of the meetinghouse and more coins in the collection plate each year we could grow a church. We could use marketing techniques, the best advertising and hire some "eye candy" entertaining motivational speaker to strum the emotional cords of people each week and we could grow a church much like a successful corporation is grown.

We do not want to "put the cart before the horse" so to speak, because Paul and Jesus both refer to growth as being spiritual in nature first. Focusing on numbers over "heart transformation" can be disastrous for a local fellowship. The power and health of the Church is in knowing Christ.

Knowing Him means obedience, following and honoring His ways. Knowing Him provides unity of purpose, oneness of heart and magnetism to the world. This is an inability of marketing technique, psychological motivation, and all the forms of human persuasion. It's a God thing. What's your thoughts? Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who builds the Church?

Today I have been working on mid year reports. Our treasurer is the best in the world at keeping track of nickels and noses so a lot of the work is already done ahead of time for me. Where I struggle the most is in determining the "world impact" we are having through WHFC. So much of our ministry to the community is not recorded and tracked annually and yet, in comparison to attendance and money, it too is an important indicator for the health and success of our combined effort.

So what is a healthy church anyway? Is it increasing numbers of nickels and noses or more service to the community? Or maybe a combination of both? Regardless, one of the most important things we can remember is that Jesus is the One who builds it. Jesus said, "I will build My church..." in Matthew 16:18, and we need to hold Him to it.

The key point is that "growing the church" is Christ's work in and through us and we must constantly be looking to Him for direction and definition. That is what Paul had to remind the Corinthians in 3:1-15. They has lost perspective with Jesus and were going about church their own way; viewing it from their own fallen viewpoint and setting their own agenda. I wonder if the American church today is not in the same boat?

Paul's admonition to the Corinthians is summed up in a few direct phrases...words the church today would do well to recall. We are to be "Christ's fellow workers" (3:9); working in "God's field" (3:9). The key to grow is understanding and implementing those two things, I believe. It is Christ who assigns the work of the church (I Cor. 3:5). We must sow and water but it is God who gives the increase( 3:6-7).

So, if we are not to seek growth from business manuals and through marketing savvy and simply to trust in "thea Lord to add to our numbers day by day" as recorded in Acts 2:47 ... does that mean then if our numbers and dollars are not increasing we must not be in the "right field" or doing the "assigned work" of Christ? What say you? Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Kingdom of God

Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is at hand; repent" (Mark 1:15). This phrase summarizes Christ's inaugural sermon as He invited all of those who would listen to a new way of life in/through Him. Through His teaching on the kingdom Jesus made it clear that the opportunity to live under the present reign and rule of God is worth pursuing above everything else in life.

So 2000 years later what do those words "The kingdom of God is at hand; repeat" mean to a western church? I fear that most of us would not grasp the radical meaning or the far-reaching implications which Christ infers. Repentance for many means simply confession of sin and the kingdom of God pertains to something that happens after we die or when Christ returns. Most think this life is a warm up exercise for the real drama that is to take place later.

This mindset is not consistent however with Christ's teachings and example. He said it was something to be embraced and practiced now. He challenged listeners to enter into a new way of life with God and people. He invited them to participate with Him in kingdom business.

Through the programming of the sin nature it is natural for people live for self and ignore God and the needs of others. The call to repentance is to do just the opposite, however. The very word "repent" in the original language of scripture means "to turn and go in the opposite direction." Christ's call to repentance and kingdom living means to turn from living for self, embrace the life and ways of Jesus, and elevate the needs of others to its rightful place of importance and priority.

This is the way of cross. This is the sign of a true and full transformation of life to God. It is what the world needs to experience from the Church in America. So have you truly repented?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Saturday Men's Fight Club

This Saturday is the Men's Fight Club once again. We will meet in the church Cafe at 7:30 AM. What should we study this week? Hmmmmm .... I know, Jesus! Once again we will look at the core truths about Jesus found in the Gospels. "Jesus Christ is the manifestation of God's love" is this week's focus.

Study Guide:
Key verses: John 3:16; 14:21
> Others come to mind?

What are the implications for the Church?
> Christ demands our love for God and other people
> People need to know they are loved
> Our love should embrace our enemies
> We should be known as a people of love
> Our love shows God's love to mankind
> The source of our love is God
> Others?

Examples of how these implications could be lived out?
> We meet the needs of others
> We create space in which others can grow and find grace
> Others?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. See you Saturday! Thanks for stopping by!

"Do not be afraid of your enemy. Remember that great and awesome is your God. So FIGHT for your sons and your daughters, your brothers and your sisters, your houses and your wives" (Nehemiah 4:14)


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Paul on the Church # 5

"Who's in charge of this mess anyway?" Have you ever wondered that when life in the Meetinghouse gets a little chaotic? I know I have a time or two. In penning his letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul presents several truths about the Church that are important for Christ followers to keep in mind. Today's insight is directly applicable to the opening phrase of the blog, "Who's in charge of this mess anyway?". Paul writes, "Christ is the Head of the Church, the body of which He is the Savior" (Ephesians 5:23).

So Christ is responsible for this mess? I can accept that. Actually these are SWEET words for an Administrative pastor to hear! I'm off the hook for WHFC and Jesus is the One in the hot seat... NICE! I'll let Him fret over the three year plan, attendance, finances and internal affairs, etc. NICE! :-)

Something tells me however that is not actually what Paul meant to communicate through the words of 5:23. Rather I think what he was saying to his readers is: (1) Christ is in charge and (2) we are to "do" Church His way because He earned the right to dictate as Savior of the world. It's hard to argue with that one, isn't it?

To top it all off, Paul places this truth in the middle of a discussion about the relationship between a husband and wife. As if to say, "Jesus is the head of the Church; He makes up the rules; the rules are found in His example; Go and do likewise." Relationship, relationship, relationship ... Notice, it's all about how we treat and what we do for one another ...

What does the HEAD say to the Church? (1) Love one another as Christ loved the Church (5:25). (2) Present (view) others as holy and blameless (5:26-27). As Christ works is to perfect us so we must do the same for others. And how did He performed His work? Gave Himself up! So we must die to self and live for others. (3) Nourish and care for one another (5:29-30). As Christ supplies our needs and attends to our concern so we must do the same for others.

So that is the stated expectation of the BOSS. A pretty simple job description don't you think? So what is holding us back? Possibly a surrendered life to Jesus? This lifestyle is issued out of Jesus. If one cannot participate then deductive reasoning says "that one is still missing something with Jesus!" Outside of Jesus life is a mess. The job description will be fulfilled naturally as we surrender our lives "completely" to Him. Ready to git-r-dun?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paul on the church #4

"And now for my next conclusion..." How many times have you heard a preacher say that? Some preachers (current WHFC clergy excluded of course) tend to be a little "windy" during their prayer and preaching times. Evidently "they" must have picked this bad habit up from the apostle Paul because smack dab in the middle of his letter to the Ephesians he shares a benediction. Hello?

Even though it may have been a little premature on Paul's part in sharing these words of benediction, still we learn a valuable truth about the Church. Here Paul shares the two primary sources by which God chooses to glorify Himself with: Jesus Christ and the Church. The text reads, "to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Wow! You talk about the faith of God ... It is easy to see how He would place His proverbial eggs in Christ's basket. Who could not be glorified through the stellar reputation and work of Christ... but the Church? Come on God. What were You thinking? Church people are a pretty small limb to shimmy out on, don't You think?
Evidently not! God has placed His faith in the plan He has put forth and so must we. God has staked His reputation on us.

So in conclusion let me say, "we need to be living up to it!" We must fully embrace the life of Christ, surrender leadership of self to Him, and go forth daily with the understanding that it is God seeking to glorify Himself through our daily existence. The apostle Paul writes elsewhere, "... For it is no longer I who live BUT Christ who lives through me ..." (Gal. 2:20). Is that the conclusion you have come to in your life? What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paul on the Church #3

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians we discover the apostle's understanding and purpose for the Church. He writes in 3:10-11 that God has made His wisdom known in the heavenly realms through the church. The text reads "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Wow Paul you sure said a mouthful there!

If I understand the text correctly Paul is implying that down through the ages the wisdom of God could not be fully appreciated by those in the heavenly community until the Church was fully released through the atonement of Christ, the imparting of the Holy Spirit in to the hearts of mankind, and her going forth into the the world emulating Jesus. Then the light bulb came on and God's plan made sense!

The fullness of Christ manifest through the redemption, empowerment and release of the Church into the world was God's plan all along. Our emulating Jesus Christ in the world is essential in expressing the wisdom (validity) of God today. In order for people to connect the "God dots" today; in order for Christ to stand "head and shoulders" above the gods of this world, we must be the Church! Doesn't that make sense to you? Paul thought so.

What implications does this have for Christ followers today? What does this look like in everyday life? What say you? Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Paul on the Church #2

In Paul's general letter to churches we discover the apostle's understanding and purpose for the church. In Ephesians 1:23 he writes, " the church is the body of Jesus Christ." This implies connectedness and intimacy between Jesus and His followers. In chapter four Paul uses the "body" analogy to commend unity and love among Christ followers. His overall take on the church is one of teamwork, partnership, trust, intimacy and respect. As if our devotion and love for Jesus is defined by how we live and cooperate with other believers.

What implications does this have for Christ followers today? What does this look like in everyday life? What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Paul on the Church

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians he addresses a number of issues that are applicable to "all" churches. This particular letter was circular in that it was sent to all the churches in Asia Minor. In this letter we find Paul's understanding and purpose of the Church.

First, the Church is priority one from Christ's perspective. He writes "Jesus Christ is the head over all things for the church." Clearly the apostle is stating that Christ is preeminent over all things and that it is for the sake of the church. But what does he mean by the phrase "for the church?" It seems he is saying that Jesus exercises supreme global authority over all things in the interest/benefit of the church. That Christ's preeminent reign is directly linked with the future of the church.

What implications does this truth have for Christians/churches today? What does it look like on a day to day basis? What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sunday Night

We have a lot of things happening on Sunday nights at Willoughby Hills Friends Church. There is ongoing outreach through the Well ministry each week. Our Neighborhood Networks are in full swing with small groups meeting geographically with the purpose of loving people unconditionally through service oriented projects. There are youth activities and study times and an interactive Bible study that convenes in the Meetinghouse (in room 227) from 6-7:15 PM.

This Sunday evening we will continue with a look at Pentecost. This week's topic is "The Pentecostal Call to Action” and our key text is Isaiah 6. The following is a guide we will use in this week's study time. Please read the key text and fill in the main points for discussion starters.

The message of Pentecost is a great study. It is one of promise and hope. It celebrates God’s redemptive presences and work in the world and through His missional people. In celebrating Pentecost we realign with who we are and what we are commissioned to do. As missional people we lead an interesting life. We are citizens of the kingdom of God with the mission of God to redeem all of creation. Thus, everything we do, we employ for the glory of God. As we celebrate Pentecost we offer ourselves anew to the cleansing and provision of God’s Spirit to empower us to be the Church. It’s a call to action. The “Pentecostal process” is portrayed in the calling of Isaiah found in chapter 6. Through this study we will note various aspects of "The Pentecostal Call to Action.”

First Aspect: Isaiah’s Introduction
> Who is he?
> What did he do?
> What was the setting?

Second Aspect: Isaiah’s Preparation
> What was the prophet's condition?
> How did God supply his need?

Third Aspect: Isaiah’s Assignment/Task
> What did God call Isaiah to do?
> Is God still using Isaiah today?

Fourth Aspect: What Implications Does The Call of Pentecost from Isaiah 6 have for Christians/Us Today?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Saturday Men's Fight Club Study

On Saturday men are invited to attend the weekly Saturday morning "Fight Club" for prayer, relationship and Bible discussion. We will meet at 7:30 AM in the Cafe. This week we will continue a look at the "Core truths about Jesus Christ found in the Gospels." The topic of lesson four is “Jesus offers forgiveness of sins”

Key texts for observation:
Matthew 9:2
Luke 7:47

Some supporting questions raised by the text regarding this core truth:
1. What is sin?
2. Are there different kinds of sin spoken of in the Bible?
3. If so, do all need forgiveness?
4. What does forgiveness mean?
5. What does "offer" mean? Is forgiveness by choice?
6. Other questions?

What are the implications of this core truth for the Individual/Church?

Site examples of how this core truth could be lived out:

Y'all come and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shifting gears

One of the things I hope to accomplish through the three year strategic plan we are developing is to change our focus from a conventional ministry model to a missional model. A conventional model usually makes the weekly worship service(s) and the building the organizing principle of the church with evangelism and outreach designed to recruit people to the worship services and the other organized programs.

Don't get me wrong here. I am not saying worship and programming in unimportant. We need both and growth in both areas is essential to the efforts of WHFC. What we need to embrace however is that natural church growth will occur through our missional endeavors for Christ.

As a missional church we will no longer view missions, evangelism and discipleship as just a function of the church but as a principle related to who we are as Christ followers. They will be a natural impulse because of who we are. It is the Holy Spirit sending us out into the world to declare the lordship of Jesus Christ in all and over all of creation while at the same time working in us to will and do His good pleasure (Eph. 1:23 - "The church is to bring the fullness of Him who fills all in all"). It will involve sharing the Gospel, planting churches, feeding the hungry, working against injustice, etc., in community with one another. Our goal is to infiltrate every level/aspect of society and stake a claim for Jesus; viewing every moment of our existence as holiness unto the Lord and leading to our transformation into Christ likeness.

In Ephesians Paul talks about how the Church is a part of God's eternal purpose. "Through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that He has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord" (3:10-11). What is Paul saying? That the fullness of God is not experienced/seen until the Church is unleashed in the world. Only then is the wisdom (or knowledge of) God revealed in both heaven and on the earth. (Wow, did Paul really say that?)

Today's world will not know of Christ through conventional means. We must organize and mobilize ourselves missionally over the next three years. I trust our leadership and attendees will follow God's lead on this matter. Let's double clutch, grab a new gear, and go!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stimulus package

Last weekend while twisting through the mountains of West Virginia on my Yamaha I thought how neat it would be if we could custom design our own stimulus package. Mine would include reversing my vacation and work time. Yep, I think working four weeks and vacationing 48 would be sweet while still being paid for 52! Oh well, that's enough "pie-in-the-sky" day dreaming for now. Back to reality.

It seems like everyone is talking "stimulus" these days and it appears the Church is really no different unfortunately. I just read where one in California is giving away a Harley-Davidson motorcycle this year to the person that brings the most visitors in on Sundays. Now that is a church desperate for growth! To be fair, WHFC has tried similar tactics in the past. The last administration employed anything from tele-marketing schemes to "put a pastor on the roof" campaign in an attempt to put people in the pews and coins in the coffer.

Is that the goal of the Church? Should church leaders be lending their energy to thinking up ways to gather a crowd or spending their lives fulfilling the mission of Jesus? When Jesus fashioned the Church He created us to be a community of devoted, selfless servants seeking to model our lives after His selflessness and service.

At WHFC we want our attendees to be about Kingdom business as modeled through the life of Christ. He is our Guide, our Lord, our Master. These are the "numbers" most important to WHFC. As we work His plan He will provide the increase and we will become bound to each other with the bonds of a common cause. Hum ... now isn't that stimulating?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 5, 2009

What do people say about us?

"Lex seqendi, lex credendi" meaning "the law of following is the law of belief." Ancient theologians came up with this important Latin phrase to remind people that true christian ethics and missions requires more than following a book of words and the writings of doctrine. Truth is centered in Jesus Christ and in following Him is Truth discovered. Christianity is about following Jesus. We must know and practice the Jesus of the Gospels.

So then, why do so many have such a low opinion of Christians today? Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Others have the same opinion of the Church today. Listen to this research:
Jim Henderson made national news when he rented a person for $504 on e-Bay. He rented Matt Casper and they traveled around the country visiting churches. Henderson recorded Casper's unbiased point of view in his book, "Jim and Casper go to Church." Casper's summary of the experience was "there are so many glaring discrepancies among churches regarding what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. If they are all talking about the same Jesus then why does He look so different?" (Frost & Hirsch, Re-Jesus, p. 165)

So, what do people say about us? We are Christ followers, are we not? Would the outsider say we look and act like the Jesus of the New Testament? If they sat in on our commission meetings, business sessions, Bible studies or sermons would they say that we are seeking out and responding to the interests of Christ or closed minded defenders of our doctrine and tradition? A people of conditional or unconditional love? A people who stand firm on rules to the exclusion of relationship? Doers of the word or just mere readers/hearers of the text?

Church, it is time we get reacquainted with the Founder of our faith. As we search the heart of God for a three year strategic plan we must identify with the life and passion of Christ. Over the remainder of 2009 I ask you to focus your Bible study in the Gospels. To write down in a notebook the core truths you observe regarding the teachings and practice of Jesus. To implore God through prayer each day to make the words of Jesus your doctrine and His practice your expressions and testimony.

If you are serious about your reputation as a Christ follower then start asking some "big people" questions to others. Ask them, One, "What do you think of when you hear the word Jesus?" Two, "What comes to mind when you think of me?" What say you Christian ... R U willing to become vulnerable for the sake of Christ?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Men's "Fight Club" this Saturday

Once again this Saturday morning men will gather in the church Cafe at 7:30 AM for fellowship, Bible study and prayer. This group calls themselves the "Fight Club" based upon a passage from the book of Nehemiah. "Remember the Lord, great and awesome. Do not fear your enemy. Go fight for your sons and your daughters, your houses and your wives" (4:18). YES! That is the call of God for all men.

This week we will continue a study looking at the "Core Truths About Jesus" found in the Gospels. Saturday we will be using the following outline. Men, please look it over, print it off, fill it out, and bring it along with you. I welcome others to comment on the Blog. Our objective: to be preoccupied with Jesus all the remaining moments of our lives! (Chef Bubba says he will not be in to fix breakfast this week so, its off to Flavors on the Vine in Eastlake at 9 AM). Y'all come!

Lesson Three: “Jesus mediates grace and mercy”

Key text for observation is Matthew 12:1-8

Discussion Questions:
Any supporting questions raised by the text regarding this core truth?

What are the implications of this core truth for the Individual/Church?

Site some examples of how this core truth could be lived out today:

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I thought this title may get your attention. And, actually I anticipate my Fodder meter count to be higher today just because of the title. They say "sex sells," you know?

So, where am I going with this? Well, first to one of my favorite passages located in Ezekiel 36. Then says the Lord, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." NICE!

Why is having "a heart of flesh" important? Because a "hard heart" is unaffected and is not easily moved by emotion. We must engage our heart in order to comprehend God. One cannot think their way into a relationship with Christ...it must be experiential.

If you have spent anytime listening to preachers expound on the Old Testament then you have probably heard that the Hebrew root word for "knowledge" and "intercourse" are one in the same. In biblical Hebrew, one cannot know something just through observation, one must come into contact with it. I think you are probably starting to get the gist of all this: the only way to know Jesus is through an up close and personal relationship. Feelings are required! We must have passion, participation, involvement, and faith. To know Jesus involves our whole being and through faith Christ brings our heart alive affectedly.

What else am I saying? We not only need to have passion "for" Christ but the passion "of" Christ as well. That is the true litmus test for our faith. If we are not moved to compassion over the things that Christ was, then something has been left undone. If passion is eliminated then faith no longer exists. James' phrase for this is "faith without works is dead" (2:17). We have to engage our hearts to truly understand Jesus, to become like Him, and to follow Him.

Are you emotionally connected to the Savior? Ah wait, that was to easy. Let me ask you another question. "Are you demonstrating you relationship with Christ through your passion for the marginalized people of our society? Now that's a "big boy" question? What say you? Isn't it fun talking about sex? :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Houston, we have lift off ...

I remember being mesmerized by the activity on Dad and Mom's old television set as a kid whenever NASA would send men into space. With the roar of the rocket boosters coming through the speakers I would hear the words, "Houston, we have lift off (followed by a "ping" sound). Wow! I must be old because some of that was viewed on a black and white set. How old is that? :-)

I found it interesting to recently read that throughout the Apollo missions to the moon the spacecraft regularly drifted off course. In fact, they say that more than 80 percent of their journey through space was slightly off course. To conserve fuel the spaceships would drift in space relying on gravitational pull. They only used their engines occasionally to readjust their coordinates and get them back on track. The occasional burst of the massive engine kept them heading in the right direction. (Frost & Hirsch, Re-Jesus, page 143)

Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to "keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." He is the gravitational pull that will lead us to our final destination and the coordinates necessary to keep us on track in the mean time. The Psalmist said in 141:8ff, "I will keep my eyes fixed upon You, O Sovereign Lord; in You I take refuge. You will keep me from the snare,trap, and nets of evildoers. In You will I pass by in safety." NICE!

Someday when our journey has ended we will hear, "Houston, we have landing!" Or, maybe put in more biblical terms it will be Jesus saying, "Well done good and faithful servant ... enter into your rest." So, let's stay engaged with Jesus and actively study and apply Him to our lives. This is no time to become disinterested and drift off course.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hiding place

"Then the man and his wife sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves ... when they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden ... they hid from the Lord" (Genesis 3:7-8). "... For I hide myself in You; teach me to do Your will" (Psalm 143:9-10). These two passages seem to indicate that humans have a natural inclination to hide. Unfortunately if we are not seeking rescue "in" God we will hide "from" our Salvation.

The contrast between the men represented in the passages just mentioned is telling. King David through transparency, is pursuing solace from his enemies in the presence of God where as Adam on the other hand, is shamefully hedging himself away from God. This is a clear reminder that all of us respond in one of two ways to the "imago Dei - the image of God in man" for it is the standard of life.

Without full surrender to Christ people will insatiably gather around themselves things to hide behind in an attempt to hedge out the imago Dei. This really is a working definition of "idolatry" as spoken of in the Bible. An "idol" is something, anything really, that we place between God and self to diminish the presence and power of God in our life. (In Exodus 20 God says, "to have no others gods before Me," meaning there is to be nothing between us and God, or standing in the way).

Every attempt to hedge out God's image is futile. There is really nowhere to hide from imago Dei nor can one erase the shame that occurs from not being fully alive or complete in Christ Jesus. We cannot flee from the presence of God when His image is woven into the very fabric of our being (Psalm 139:7). Like King David, we must run to Jesus as our hiding place to be taught this lesson.

Be fully alive today by hiding in Jesus! It's the place you were meant to be. What say you?

Thanks for stopping by today!