skilled workers are always in demand and admired;
they don't take a back seat to anyone. (Prov 22:29 MSG)
This is a quick shout out to the MEN (listed below) of KingdomBuilders who made our first WtS (Worship through Service) such a great success. I totally admire you guys for the skills that you have...being an administrative type I coordinate but you guys did the work. Praise God for you!
Ok two quick stories of the day. But first for those of you that don't know KingdomBuilders (CalvarySLO Men's Ministry) helped out 12 women (Single Moms, Big Buddies Mom, Single Women) changed their oil, washed thier cars, and even did some computer diagnostics. All this during a church Bring Your Own Lunch (BYOL) Picnic.
Ok now to the stories...one of the ladies we helped out receives care from a local Family Agency. She was called at the last minute and offered our services. Her car was in dire need of an oil change as she put it. When she dropped her car off she asked me how much they were charging for a car wash. When I told her it was part of the deal her eyes almost popped out! She was so excited...she said, "Oh you guys are going to spoil me today?" And I could tell it had been a long time since she had been so blessed.
Second story...I walked into the computer diagnostics center...and let me tell you it was any technodudes dream with flat screens and wifi and open computer boxes! Those guys only got one customer but she brought two computers! When I was in there she was beaming about how the men had upgraded the Gigabytes...above and beyond what she thought she was going to get. I don't know who was more blessed the men or the woman!
And that's what WtS is all about! We men aren't generally comfortable at Worship through Singing but we love to use our talents, gifts, and interests for the Kingdom of God. Great job brothers!
Eric Soderin (Wins the cleanest workstation award)
Thanks to all you that I had to turn away too...we hope you can come next time!
Joey Hill (Great job on the graphics for the flyer AND heading this up!)
There were more guys that helped that decided to just chip in...thanks!
Paul Cram (Leader of the Chipset)
the purpose of this post is to share with you something of significant impact which happened this morning in our time of meeting/prayer. years ago i remember hearing a recorded message from one of my favorite bible teachers (d. martyn lloyd-jones) in which he stated how important it is to not forsake the regular gathering of the believers together. "for if you do", he said "you may miss the occasions in which He shows up in power and glory"(i really shouldn't put those quotation marks there because i'm actually paraphrasing Him...but you get the idea). this morning was one of those moments in time in which God came in power and glory. we spent a significant amount of time having deeply insightful conversation about where do we as pastors (God ordained spiritual gate-keepers of the city) want to see God move in power throughout our city. we all recognized that our first call as the spiritual leaders of SLO is to be men, broken and prayerful before our God.
we finished our conversation by getting on our knees and lifting our voices in crys of passionate prayer before God. asking God to show himself strong, to foil the defense of the enemy, to break the chains of pornography that have many bound, to silence and save those who use the local radio waves to speak out against our glorious God. we wept for the lost in our community, and the complacent in our churches. we prayed until the power of God came and flooded our hearts with a peace and a strong confidence that His kingdom has arrived. all i can say is that something changed this morning and the epicenter was located at Agape Church (950 Laureate Lane), and we were humbled to be the first to feel its rumbling.
here is little story for ya. I was the first one to arrive (a miricle in itself) and the room was freezing. Mike (Sparrow) told me that the thermostat was a little tricky to figure out and the only way the turn the heat on and thus reset the climate was to over-ride the system. he override the system and yet it took some time to feel the actual change. well this morning God override the spiritual system over slo and the climate is about to change.
after we finished praying we all felt that God was calling us pastors into a season of united prayer. so, next thursday i will be leading these pastors up my mountain (this is the place i go daily to pray over the city) to stand as intercessors over this amazing city of SLO. The are the men who are normally a part of our times of prayer are:
Mike Sparrow (Agape Church),
Terry Paige (Mercy Church),
Tom Morris (1st Baptist Church),
Tim Thule (Grace Church),
Jamey Pappas (Campus Crusade for Christ) and
Jim Boyd (Crossroads Church).
sorry about the length of this post but i wanted to share all this.
We visited my side of the family this Thanksgiving down in the OC (
When we get together it is pretty much about the kids. Between my sister and I we bring four kids total to the Thanksgiving dinner table. My brother is yet to be married but is now in a cool relationship. In a rare, almost kidless, moment (we had my 5 month old) my sister-her husband, my brother-his girlfriend, and I-my wife broke bread together at a restaurant. During the conversation my sister mentioned that this guy she knows is a nice guy and should be married. That got me thinking…and that is always a dangerous thing if you know me.
I know she meant he was a marriable guy and that's fine but it triggered this question to the guys at the table, “Would you rather be thought of as a nice guy or a dangerous man?” (Think Charles Ingals vs. Nels Oleson in Little House on the Prairie.) Wow…did the conversation ever get turned around. What once was a pretty casual conversation all of a sudden got very thoughtful...animated. Neither answered at first and there were many clarifying questions…which I like to avoid because like the Apple Shuffle campaign I like ambiguity.
The boyz, my brother-in-law and brother both finally answered. Then I turned the tables and asked the ladies, “Who would you rather be with a nice guy or a dangerous man?” To make a long story short, after much defining of the word dangerous by each answerer, each chose dangerous.
I know maybe you are in serious doubt of our sanity at this point but if we really think about it men were made and are called by God to be dangerous…not nice. Let’s look at a few examples.
First, we have to go to the Apostle Paul, whom I quote above. Would anyone in their right mind call him nice? He was a dangerous threat to our enemy, Satan, because his mission…above all else even his own safety was to expand the
Second, we must look at most of the men called of God in the Bible and consider if they, our examples, were nice or dangerous. I’ll throw out a few names…David the Giant killer (he wanted to kill one guy, Nabal, with 400 armed men behind him), Samson (killed a lion with his bare hands and a thousand Philistines with a jawbone), Abraham (left his father’s riches to follow an unknown God’s call), Noah (built an arc and withstood years of ridicule since there had never been rain), Peter (chopped off a guard’s ear and walked on water). Those are just a few…I’m sure the next time you read your Bible you’ll see it is filled with these men that did amazing things for the Lord…and were a bit wild! I can’t think of one positive male in the Bible that could be described as a nice guy. In fact, I can’t think of a man in church history that did anything significant for the gospel that wasn’t dangerous…Martin Luther and Jim Elliot come to mind.
Last, let’s look at Jesus…surely you say He was a nice guy. The pictures we see of Him depict him as a nice guy…in many ways our pictures make him look like a bearded woman in a dress holding a lamb. We overemphasize the fact that Jesus said He was gentle and humble at heart (Matt 11:29) and forget He also said He came not to bring peace but division (Luke 12:51). How do the two not cancel each other out? One author said it best, “Jesus was comforting to those who needed it, but confrontational with everyone else.”
We all too often remember the Jesus that healed, held children, and wept all very much a part of His character, but not the complete picture! He also lead a band of mostly ruffian fisherman, turned tables at the temple, regularly argued with Pharisees and Sadducees, rebuked demons with a commanding voice, and died/was beaten for us. None of the later would be considered something a nice guy would do.
So I ask you, the men reading this, “Would you rather be thought of as nice or dangerous?” To the women reading this, “Would you rather be with a nice or dangerous man?
My answer? My Pastor, Bryan Stupar, continues to note that at 35 he may have already had seen more years than he will see. I’m the same age! I’ve wasted most of my life being nice, passive, and doing little for the
We are at WAR with a Dragon that hates us (Rev 12:17)…and there is a THIEF who wants none other than to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). In wartime situations and if a thief enters your house, dangerous men are needed…not nice men. Let’s allow men to be Spirit filled dangerous men…we desperately need them to be.
The Kingdom of God is built by dangerous men, who will take up the cause and do some of the non-nice things needed to advance any Kingdom. Will we as men take dangerous risks to advance the Kingdom? (Smuggle Bibles, Dig Ditches) Lay down our lives so a few can really know life? (Disciples someone, Put your body in harms way so someone can hear the gospel) Or will we merely waste our lives playing with our toys, obsessing about our 401k and an easy retirement, or sitting in front of our 60 inch plasma screens wishing we were on some great adventure? God's adventure...God's danger is waiting for you...take it!
Don’t worry ladies…I’m hatching a question like this for you as well.
This year we did something a bit different, some would say unconventional, but I would say very close to a MAN's heart. Yes we had teaching (Bryan, Steve, and Steve did a great job!) Yes we had worship (Tonye's band did a great job!) We also had SPORTS and a lot of friendly competition, which we love as men!
If you missed it you won't want to next year! I received wonderful stories of guys feeling much more plugged in with other guys at CalvarySLO through the event. We were able to pray with many of the guys there for rededication of their lives to the Lord and the baptism of the Holy Spirit in their lives for their calling. It was spectacular spiritually and physically.
To those of you that we prayed for and ALL that felt the nudge to get "Off the Bench" (our theme this year) please feel free to call or e-mail me (Patrick Zalamea, aka CoachZ, my contact info is in that bulletin stuck in your Bible) if you need anything. I'm available for more prayer, counseling, helping you find a mentor/discipler, getting you plugged in to serve at CalvarySLO, etc. Please don't hesitate to contact me!
Last, a call out to you for next year...if you have softball skills we need you. We want to win the trophy next year...it belongs on the pulpit next to Bryan!
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. (Ps 51:6 NKJ)
At first glance, I thought this passage was about doctrine. Truth equals doctrine right? That's what I've thought for a long, long time. But as I contemplate, meditate, marinate on this passage and see how God has been working in my life the past few years I realize that isn't true. God wants the truth about Him to penetrate to my inward and hidden parts. He desires it so much that he'll even use pain, trials, and tribulations to get it through to me.
John Eldredge, in Waking the Dead, wrote, "...having a doctrine pass before the mind is not what the Bible means by knowing the truth. It's only when it reaches down deep into the heart that the truth begins to set us free..." I am far too easily satisfied with just understanding a doctrine with my mind. God is all knowing, all powerful, all loving, etc. But God wants those truths to penetrate deeply into my soul, my inner most being...where it will last forever.
Let's take an example from the physical world. Think of something you can just instinctively do like drive a stick shift, hit a golf ball, or rollerblade. Have you ever tried to teach someone how to do that? Why is it so hard? Because knowing how to do these things doesn't just come by reading a text book. It took trial and error, as well as some lessons possibly to embed that knowledge into our psyche and muscle memory.
Same for me...I'm not the best golfer in the world, for one thing I can concentrate for 5-6 hours. But I've found a swing that works for me...most of the time. Now if someone asked me to teach them that swing I'd have to shrug my shoulders and say, "I don't know how I do it." Because I actually don't. I took a 30 min lesson once and it stuck...really that's it.
It's the same thing with truth...how do we teach people a truth that we have learned from God? In many ways, it is just like the physical example we would have to say, "I don't know" because God's truths are deeper than we can even say...they are in our inward parts.
Let's take for example the truth that God loves us. This truth can pass through our minds, we can even intellectually understand it. It seems to make sense a good God would love and all. But has it penetrated? When the chips are down do we instinctively believe this? God desires that this truth would be in our heart and soul. So how does this happen? Here are a couple of ways that work for me...this is kinda like telling you a golf swing is about tempo and timing so just use these as a start to find your own way:
- Let HIM speak - God speaks to me many times through the Bible (a passage like the one above that just won't go away if you know what I mean) or my circumstances (what is God trying to teach me through this?). I find I need to let Him speak and not ignore the inner promptings or gloss over my circumstances.
- Marinate - when I find a passage that God is speaking to me, like the one above, I have a "soul conversation" with God about it...sometimes for days.
- Run it by someone - often when deep truths are hitting me I'll share it with my wife and/or some trusted friends, this gives me even deeper understanding through other's eyes.
We live in a VERY busy world. In many cases, we have allowed ourselves to get too busy to do the above, but the fact is we live in a world that expects much from us. C.S. Lewis said, "We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship." Amen.
The amazing thing is that God's desire is for truth to penetrate to the deepest parts of our hearts for then it becomes wisdom. Wisdom for living well, loving well, and understanding God well. Next time a truth hits you don't let it stop with your mind...remember to let HIM speak, marinate on it, and run it by someone. Soon that truth will become instinctual...God knows you need it for what it to come.
He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed. (Matt 21:44 NKJV)
Ok as promised the Broken Indicators…let’s fall on the stone Jesus so we won’t be crushed (in one translation says crushed into powder!) which is what happens to the proud.
A. ATTITUDE TOWARD OTHERS
- Overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need
- Compassionate; can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven
- Reverence, encourage, and lift up those that God has placed in positions of authority and talk to God about the faults they see
- Esteem all others better than themselves
- Have a dependent spirit; recognize their need for others
- Willing to yield the right to be right
- Yield their rights; have a meek spirit
- Motivated to serve others
- Motivated to be faithful and to make others a success
- Heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives
- Desire to promote others
- Have a sense of their own unworthiness; thrilled that God would use them at all
- Eager for others to get the credit; rejoice when others are lifted up
- Know praise belongs to the Lord and criticism can help them grow into spiritual maturity
- Humbled by how very much they have to learn
- Not concerned with self at all
- Concerned with being real; what matters is not what others think but what God knows; are willing to die to their own reputation
- Can recognize and live within God-given limitations
- Willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately
- Accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation
- Take the initiative to be reconciled when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been
- Receive criticism with a humble open spirit
- Willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs
- Trust in God; rest in Him and are able to wait for Him to act on their behalf
- Give thanks in all things; they are quick to forgive those who wrong them
- Once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose
- Quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary
- Able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin
- Grieved over the cause, the root of their sin
- Truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin
- Walk in the light
- Compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy
- Realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance
- Continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit
© Revive Our Hearts
Used by permission of Revive Our Hearts
P. O. Box 31
Buchanan, MI 49107
"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt 7:3 NASB)
I know if you’ve been a Christian for longer than 24 hours you’ve already heard maybe 100 sermons on this passage right? I’d like to take a different angle with it in this devotional/exhortation…the angle of PRIDE.
Ouch…I’ve already lost half of you right? The thing is there is something fundamentally wrong with me (maybe you can relate)…I am PROUD. So proud that I often find that when I’m critical of someone or an organization, God gently nudges me and asks, “don’t you notice this in yourself?” Later I think how was I so blind to this log (as big as the one pictured)? It's that five letter P-word P R I D E.
If you are the same way or don’t know if you are check out this list of Pride Indicators from a book called Brokenness: A Heart God Revives by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. There are some Broken Indicators too…I’ll post those another time, but I’m gonna go through these again myself. I'll post in comments the ones that God is working on me right now (ie A1, B3, etc) Won’t you join me in being broken enough to confess?
A. ATTITUDE TOWARD OTHERS
- Focus on the failures of others
- A critical, fault-finding spirit; look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope, but their own with a telescope
- Especially prone to criticize those in positions of authority and they talk to others about the faults they see
- Self-righteous; look down on others
- Independent, self-sufficient spirit
- Have to prove that they are right
- Claim rights; have a demanding spirit
- Self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation
- Desire to be served
- Desire to be a success
- Have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; think of what they can do for God
- Desire self-advancement
- Have a drive to be recognized and appreciated
- Wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked
- Elated by praise and deflated by criticism
- Feel confident in how much they know
- Self-conscious; worry about what others think
- Concerned with being respectable, with what others think; work to protect their own image and reputation
- Can’t bear to fail or have anyone think they are less than perfect.
- Keep others at arms’ length
- Quick to blame others
- Wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship
- Unapproachable or defensive when criticized
- Find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others
- Try to control the people and the circumstances-prone to manipulate
- Become bitter and resentful when wronged; have emotional temper tantrums; hold grudges; easily offended
- Want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up
- Have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
- Tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin
- Concerned about the consequences of their sin
- Remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught
- Blind to their true heart condition
- Compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor
- Don’t think they have anything to repent of
- Don’t think they need revival, but are sure that everyone else does
© Revive Our Hearts
Used by permission of Revive Our Hearts
P. O. Box 31
Buchanan, MI 49107
I normally like to post a picture with these blogs but I couldn't find the one I want. It was a picture of a husband and wife, the husband had a sword in hand and the wife a trowel. A beautiful picture of Nehemiah 4 where Nehemiah had posted families along the wall building with sword in hand. So try to picture that if you can.
I'm often amazed by the verse above, especially when I realized these were the first words God spoke to the first married couple, Adam and Eve. You could say that God was stating the purpose for marriage. Hmmm purpose? What is the purpose of your marriage? Let's see what God's original design was.
I think it is pretty simple to grasp the fruitful part of the statement. We are supposed to have kidos right? Yeah but even further our marriages are supposed to be fruitful...not just birthing and raising physical children but spiritual children as well! That means shining the light of Christ in a lost world as a married couple so that spiritual children will be brought into the world. It also means discipling or counseling younger people and couples to raise spiritual children.
But the subdue part...what does that mean? If you look it up in good ol' Webster you'll find words like conquer, bring under control, tone down in other words bring order where there is messiness. Well what does THAT mean? For Adam and Eve I think it meant naming animals, exploring rivers, maybe even mapping Eden. See God had created the earth but it was less than tame...there was still some work he wanted the first couple to do...bring order.
For us post-fall it becomes even more treacherous. The messiness has become increased and intensified by sin entering the world. The list of messes all around us can be overwhelming at times marital trouble, divorces, fears, illnesses, hunger, homelessness, poverty. It's enough to make most of us hide in our homes and God would say, "subdue the earth".
How can we as Christian married couples "subdue the earth"? Here's a small list to start with:
- Start at home - what messes do you have going in your home? How can we subdue the earth together if we aren't...together. Bring those messes to the Lord and hash it out with your spouse, subdue them! Check out James 4:9-10.
- Share your story - what has God brought you through as a married couple? Share it with others (Christian and non-Christian) as vulnerably as you possibly can praying that God would use your testimony.
- Support each other's gifts - in general men will want to bring organizational order and women will want to bring relational order. Go with that and serve the church, in the workplace, in the neighborhood. All of these places need your gifts!
Truth is as one author said (paraphrase) a marriage is only as good as its purpose. Or in the words of our Lord, "seek first the kingdom of God...and all these things will be added to you." (Mttw 6:33 pz paraphrase) If the purpose for your marriage is the kingdom of God a great deal of our other problems will be taken care of! I know for Linda and I as we focus on the goal of furthering God's kingdom many of the other issues we deal with seem so small.
Subdue the earth couples!
(-adapted from Intimate Allies by Allender & Longman)
Why do you go to church on Sunday? And I don't mean on Sunday as opposed to Saturday or something. I mean, what should our goal be, so to speak, of going to church? I have come to one conclusion that ties all of the other reasons together: we go (or at least we should) to get a bigger picture of God. That's it.
Think about it. If you are in the middle of the hardest days of your life, what happens when you are reminded through the song lyrics during worship and the reading of the Word, that God is ALL POWERFUL, ALL LOVING, ALL MERCIFUL, ALL HOLY AND ALL KNOWING? Your gloom becomes hope-filled, smaller becomes your all-consuming circumstances, and hope once again reigns in your soul.
Now, if we go for any other reason (such as: to see friends, or to look for a relationship, or simply to go or serve due to a sense of duty or habit), what happens? We leave having the things in our lives just the same as when we came. Men are fallible, foolish and weak. God is always in control, never is stressed or confused, always willing to forgive and is ever-present. If you go to church to hear from a particular leader or pastor, however much he may be gifted, you may be blessed in some manner I suppose. But how much greater the impact when we go to church to see Him! His eyes full of fire, lightening in His face, the voice of the multitudes coming forth like thunder. That is the God who we worship! You cannot take in the sight and not be changed... God is in the midst of us as we gather - what a shame when you or I miss Him when He has made Himself available to be seen. Let's pray that he allows us the privilege this very Sunday!
Why I’m Not Emerging:A Brief Response to the Emergent Church By James MacDonald Let me begin with a word of personal appreciation for the current leaders of the emerging church movement. I am deeply grateful for your courage in standing against the many shortcomings of the modern western church. Thanks for insisting that authenticity in relationship is the foundation of genuine Christian community. Thanks for standing against the formulaic/instant Gospel which fills our churches with tares and insulates the human heart from a genuine transformational encounter with the living Christ. Thanks also for daring to believe that failure is not final and that Christ yet longs for His bride to function with the health and wholeness He created it to enjoy. In case you are wondering why my gratitude for the leaders of the emerging church does not translate into enthusiasm for their current emphasis and direction let me take a few words to explain why I am not emerging.
Because observing the bad is not a credential for guiding us to the good Even if every placard-carrying protestor across from the White House has a legitimate complaint, they will not soon be invited to cross the street and participate in governing our nation. The hippies of the late sixties told us that the choice to “make love, not war” would go a long way toward solving society’s ills. We now know however that free love is a fast track to rampant perversion and escalating victimization of the innocent among us. History is replete with proof that those most articulate about our shortcomings are often least able to bring balanced, objective solutions. I resonate deeply with much of the criticism flowing from the emerging church against current western Christianity, but I am deeply grieved to see the emergent remedies accepted so uncritically by those who feel gratified by the accuracy of their critiques. Knowing the soup is bad does not make one a chef. If successful diagnosis was a license to treat the patient every lab technician would be a surgeon . . . scary.
Because God is looking for obedience to revealed truth, not just sincerity I have had numerous interactions and time to personally observe several of the key emerging leaders such as Chris Seay, Carol Childress, Dave Travis, Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell. Some I have only spoken with, others I consider to be dear friends, but each that I have been exposed to give strong evidence that they are sincere and genuinely committed to Jesus Christ. If all that Christ asked of us was a gracious, kind demeanor they would be exemplary indeed; however the Lord is asking for much more. In John 14:21 Jesus taught “he who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” We are expected to obey our Master and to accept His Word without equivocation. Cavalier questioning of the explicit statements of Scripture regarding the necessity of the new birth, the priority of biblical proclamation or the binding authority and sufficiency of Scripture cannot build a stronger, more Christ- honoring church no matter how sincere the messengers. Critiquing the church is good, disregarding or diminishing the revealed truth of our Founder is not good, no matter how ‘nice’ the people are who do it.
Because Christ’s is a kingdom of substance, not style Candles and bells, paintings and sculpture, incense and chanting—great! Let’s bring back the best of all those offerings of worship, but let’s not confuse style and substance. According to Jesus, it’s still truth that sets you free—not artistic expression. Wearing suits and ties is certainly not necessary and it can be contrived and unnatural, but wearing jeans and sandals is not a means to the revealed presence of Christ. John 14:21 teaches that obedience to the substance of Christ’s teaching brings His “manifest presence,” not forms—old or new. In most of these discussions we are simply inserting an ancient-dead form in place of a modern-dead one. The former feels new because it’s so ancient, as in “wow, we lit candles and sat in circles at church—that was so powerful.” Or wait, was it the form that was powerful or just the broken routine that allowed my heart to worship with fresh sincerity? The renewed, ancient forms of worship are powerful if they are offered in spirit and truth and will become just as worthless as they become routine. The power of Christ is not experienced in style, but in heart-felt substance and to miss that point is to set the stage for Emerging Church II when our kids get sick of the currently cool. Style is fun and fresh methods can promote sincerity, but the manifest presence of Christ which is the life of the church comes in response to biblical substance from the heart, not surface adjustments which can quickly become an end in themselves.
Because the answer is Jesus, not cultural analysis. Several times in the past few years we have baptized more than 200 adults in our church in a single weekend. When you listen to so many concurrent stories of conversion to Christ in such a short period of time, you get a clear picture of how it happens. “I was going along thinking I was ‘too sexy for my shirt,’ and God dropped a boulder on my life to break me down and get my attention.” While the label on the boulder may change, the story does not. Bottom line: God uses the painful circumstances of life to soften human hearts and bring people to faith in Christ. In the past few years we have analyzed our culture ad nauseum. Cultures don’t come to Christ, individuals do and the fields are more ripe for harvest than ever before. Our endless discussion of culture has become just an elitist substitute for rolling up our sleeves and getting the Good News to the people who are hurting right now! Baby Boomer, GenX, Postmodern, blah, blah, blah. The discussion itself is modernistic and we’re just talking to ourselves. How about a more compassionate extension of our own life in Christ and please . . . a lot less perpetual babbling about culture, which even when rightly observed is not the answer, duh—Jesus is!Because Jesus is the purpose for the party, not the surprise hiding in the closet of respectability If you have not traveled to the places in our world where the Gospel of Christ is spreading like wild-fire, I covet that opportunity for you. What you find there is not careful connoisseurs of some Rodeo Drive Jesus, but flag-waving, flame-throwing, on-fire followers of Christ. The power of God’s Spirit is moving because Jesus is experienced, adored and proclaimed in all of His transcendent glory. Why do so many of the emerging church websites speak of God/Father and less overtly or not at all about Jesus Christ the Lord? Claiming to be post modern we are still marketing Jesus and hiding Him in the closet of respectability until we feel like people are ready to handle Him. Jesus can’t be handled and He doesn’t need spin doctors. I know we’re pretty fussy about music forms, but let’s bring back an old chorus, This Little Light of Mine, and in case we’ve forgotten the answer to “hide it under a bushel?” is NO! Anyway . . . I am thankful for the honest and often accurate critiques of current western Christianity flowing from the emerging church movement. I strongly desire to see them show greater promise in the arena of solutions or at least be more open to analysis from outside their community than they have been to date. (Witness the harsh rejection, rather than careful analysis of D.A. Carson’s book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church on many emergent blogs ) These are some of the factors affecting my decision not to emerge. What I am doing is hoping, praying and spending myself, along with many others, for “revival in the church in America in our lifetime.” The problems in the western church are extreme: legalism or license, dead orthodoxy or compromised consumerism, professional entertainers with pop psychology or angry disregard for the sinful world Jesus weeps for. The western church in our lifetime has become an awful mess, but Jesus is not giving up on her and neither should we. Now hear this: the answer we desperately need is a fresh move of God. We need a renewed vision of God’s exalted, infinite holiness. We need an overwhelming sense of our own pride and personal sinfulness. We need our eyes lifted from the bankruptcy of cultural reflection to the crucified, risen, glorified Christ. There must be a returning to the centrality of the unadorned Gospel and the power of God’s Spirit to redeem, restore and rebuild broken lives. We need men and women on fire with passionate confidence in the power of God’s Word proclaimed; not because pagans say they want it, but because God promises to bless it. In short, what we need, what we desperately need is a renewing work of God that will cut a swath of revival across our land like a tornado across a Kansas wheat field. That’s what we need and nothing else will do. In fact anything else is window dressing. Most urgently I am praying that we will repent and turn from the horizontal, man-centered focus that grieves God’s Spirit and prevents the presence of Christ from emerging more fully in our midst.
:: my 2 cents are:: if the current leaders of the church were to remember that the church is NOT about them but rather ALL about God and HIS UNIQUE INTERACTION WITH THOSE WHOM HE HAS "CALLED OUT" OF THIS WORLD, then we would focus far less on commercial advertising (for the record, i don't see the basis of this as bad but it can become a suble form of me, building "my kingdom" and forgetting His) and slick time slotted campaigns and more on loving one another intimatly praying for one-another passionatly and building up each other entirely through GOD'S SACRED WORD. i still go back to the whole purpose of God's leaders/ shephards/ elders/ pastors/priests whatever you want to call them is to just simply be a messanger boy to faithfully, acuratly, teach and communicate HIS WORD, the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD! oh, believe me when i say i know that this biblical role is not glamouous. but, until the shephard trades back his armani suit for the dirt stained robe and is flashy silver sword for the wooden staff then god's people will continue looking and searching emerging and re- emerging for someone who can just feed them Jesus.
"Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" (Acts 8:36b)
Incredibly this is what my son said to me at this river (Well different words but same drift)! And you know what? I almost missed it! When he asked me my first inclination was to laugh it off...really I almost did. Thank God he opened my eyes to see that Joshua was VERY sincere.
So I explained to him that this was a symbol of his old self being buried and he was being lifted up as his new self in Christ. (Joshua had accepted Christ with his mom a couple of years ago.) Also, that this could be a REALLY cool moment between us but he would need to be publicly baptized at some point at a CalvarySLO baptism.
I asked him if he understood all of this and he said he did. So, right where I'm standing in that picture I crossed his arms, plugged his nose, and baptized him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then he went on playing in the water...and I was left in complete astonishment before my heavenly Father. I'm still in shock!
When we got back home from that campout one of the first things Joshua did was to recite almost word for word the definition of baptism I game him to my wife, his mom. Linda and I looked at each other with tears welling up in our eyes...and I almost missed it!
I was just reading this morning about John’s words that he wasn’t worthy to loosen Jesus’ sandal. This floors me when I consider that he was willing to eat bugs with honey and live alone in the desert to preach a straightforward message about the judgment of God and His Lamb. If there was someone ‘worthy’ who gave up every luxury in order to obey the Lord’s call, it was John the Baptist.
Who am I, and what have I given for Jesus that compares? Nothing. So… could I be found worthy to do a simple slave task for Jesus? Would I qualify to serve Him so to speak? No. No one can, so here’s the encouraging part: Jesus doesn’t hold out his foot and have John loosen it, but totally blows John away and has him baptize Jesus instead! What in the world? How John must have tripped out on Jesus and the Father that day at his love and grace (undeserved blessing)! And the blessing didn’t come with a ‘alright John, your time in the desert is over’, or, ‘now let’s get you fed on some real food’, but the blessing came in God allowing John to serve His Son Jesus. The greatest blessing is to be chosen. So are we. We don’t deserve it, we don’t fill out a resume complete with a list of everything we’ve sacrificed for Him, in order for Him to choose us, etc. He just lifts our chin from His holy foot and invites us to participate in much greater ways than loosening his sandal. We get to be His hands and feet and serve Him and our neighbor!
May this remind you that we are most blessed when we realize that the greatest blessing there is in life is to be chosen by the Father. This perspective makes involvement in a ministry a privilege and not a burden. We have been saved by faith, and that not of ourselves. So it is with our ministries…
And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Gen 25:34)
Cup O' Noodles man that stuff is good isn't it? That's what Esau thought when he sold his birthright for some soup and crackers!
Picture the scene with me if you will. Esau comes in all hairy, sweaty, and hungry. He smells Jacob's lunch and says, "gimme some of that soup." Jacob, the heel catcher who knows his brother all too well, thinks this is my chance to get the birthright. For those of us that don't use the word birthright every day here's a definition "As first-born he has an inheritance superior to his brethren, and is the alone true priest." Jacob is vying for the double portion of inheritance (wealth) and the priesthood (seat of honor) of the family.
Esau in an aweful fleshly state says, "What good is my birthright if I starve to death." Then procedes as the verse above states to eat the soup giving up all that the birthright entails...all for some Cup O' Noodle soup! Sounds pretty ridiculous doesn't it? Especially since their father was pretty darn rich. What was going on in his hairy head? What was he possibly thinking? I don't know!
What I do know is you and I are no different. We've been given a tremendous birthright as children, friends, and ambassadors of the living God. And just like Esau we give it up for something as cheap and measly as a cup of soup. What are the temptations you are facing day in and day out? Lust, fearfulness, gluttony, uncontrolled anger...I face these. Let's learn from Esau's mistakes.
- Let's look at the temptation for what it is: completely worthless compared to our inheritance (Soup vs. Isaac's wealth, A moments pleasure vs. Abundant life).
- In the face of temptation don't overreact. I think we all have that moment where we think what good is my inheritance if I can't [fill in the blank]. Take a moment and think about #1 above (weigh inheritance vs. the temptation).
- Esau was weary. Earlier in the story the Bible says he came in from the fields and was weary. He was ripe for falling to temptation, let's not be. Do whatever it takes not to be spiritually weary.
Our choices define us. I want to be defined as a friend of God, co-laborer with him for the Kingdom, and a good and faithful servant. I can't be any of those as long as I'm defined as lustful, fearful, glutton, angry. They are in complete antithesis. So remember next time you are tempted it's just Cup O' Noodle soup!