Archive for December, 2011
From Wikipedia; Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology, taken from the myth of Pandora’s creation in Hesiod’s Works and Days. The “box” was actually a large jar (πίθος pithos) given to Pandora (Πανδώρα) (“all-gifted”), which contained all the evils of the world. When Pandora opened the jar, all its contents except for one item were released into the world. The one remaining item was Hope. Today, to open Pandora’s box means to create evil that cannot be undone.
According to Greek Mythology, Pandora was the first woman of the world. It is always amazing to me that ultimately the stories of so many societies bear a resemblance to the Bible in some way. Eve, the first woman in the world, was tempted by satan and yielded to sin.
That aside, I want to suggest to you that the journey into sin is a slipperly slope that is so similar to the story of Pandora’s box. Like a narcotic, one small compromise creates a hunger for more and more. It is a temporary pleasure that satisfies only for a moment and requires a greater thrill in order to achieve the same result.
As someone has said, “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to be, and make you pay a price higher than you wanted to pay.” Some who read this will open or have opened Pandora’s box only to find it impossible on their own to put the lid back on. The hope of overcoming is only available through Jesus Christ. And it is not found in praying some simple prayer, filling out a card at the front of the church, and sitting on your blessed assurance the rest of your days.
Victory is found in surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It is denying self, taking up your cross, and following Christ wherever that may lead. Any resolutions that you make in the strength of your flesh for 2012 will surely fail. Only what you genuinely purpose through surrender to Christ has hope of overcoming. Cry out to Jesus today. You will be glad you did.
Well, the dude in California got it wrong twice this past year. How embarassing to set the date for the end and be wrong? That should destroy any confidence anyone has in you. But I am willing to go out on a limb. I want to make a prophecy that is absolutely for sure and for certain. No chance for error.
It ends tomorrow. December 31 is absolutely the day. No question about it. 2011 comes to an end. And the day after marks the beginning of a new year, 2012. Both facts are 100% sure.The world will not end tomorrow. Jesus said, “The Gospel of the Kingdom would be preached to every people group and then the end will come.” That has not happened. We have had 2000 plus years, but we still haven’t done it. Cell phone service, Coca-Cola, they can do it. But the church hasn’t.
Notice, I didn’t say the church cannot, because we can. But we have to quit leaving the work to mercenaries and recognize every believer is to be a soldier of the cross. We must take the gospel to the ends of the earth, now.
People in America have looked at the Christian church and they see little difference between people who claim to follow Christ and themselves. In fact, many have said, “If you have it, I don’t want it.” And honestly, based on the average church goer, it is hard to blame them.
Jesus once said, “These people give lip service to me, but their hearts are far from me.” That is a pretty good description of the average person claiming to know Christ. So where is the power that the Bible promises? Where is the transformation of life? Where is the joy and the peace? Why is it that so many people in church are just plain mean?
Satan is a great deceiver. If he can substitute a religious “churchianity” for the reality of a living relationship with God, then pretty soon the church will be dead. Read the statistics from the Barna organization as they survey folks in church.One study has indicated that 51 % or more of pastors in churches don’t even have a Biblical world view.
There is a reality to Christianity. The Bible promises that anyone who is truly in Christ is changed and is a new person. (2 Cor. 5:17).
There are pockets of this reality spreading across America today. At Church Unleashed @ Beulah we are seeking to be a part of that reality. We have called on people to know Christ, and to partner together to reach the community and world around us. We are just beginning a new journey. Some don’t understand it. Some even oppose it. BUt the heart and soul of church is alive and well and 2012 will demonstrate a fresh move of God. Watch and see.
Tags: Church Plant, discipleship, Entertainent, Great Commission, Prison
It was time for the annual distribution of Christmas gifts in the state prisons. Baptists from all across the state had put together packets of essentials for the occupants. Soap, toothbrushes, gum, envelopes with stamps,and similar items. As we handed them out, the men thanked us as though we had given them thousands of dollars.
It seemed to be a chance encounter. Jim, the executive director of our state convention, was there doing the same thing that I was. A brief conversation led to an appointment for lunch. Lunch was mostly a friendly visit, but ended with the gift of a book, Real Life Ministries, and a reminder of the importance of discipleship.
I devoured the book over the next couple of days. Jim Putman, a former wrestling coach, planted a church in the middle of nowhere, Idaho. In a small town of 10,000 people a church of 8,000 has grown up in eight years. No fancy show. No big time entertainment evangelism. Just a faithful commitment to reach people and disciple them in faith.
Jesus said “Go into all the world and make disciples.” (Matt. 28:19). I remember reading many years ago a book by Leroy Eims entitled, Disciples are Made, Not Born.
All of this to say, I have made a simple decision that has emerged from a chance encounter (or was it) in prison. I am going to devote the rest of my life to making disciples. I am going to be a faithful disciple, and I am going to make disciples of Christ. What will you do with the rest of your life?
All across America it has become somewhat traditional to write resolutions for the new year. I will lose 30 pounds. I will spend more time with my family. I will go to church more than just Easter and Christmas. I will find a new job. I will read a book. I will take more time to play golf or go fishing. And for many they will fall by the wayside.
It seems to me that we all have three choices with our year ahead. We can spend it, we can waste it, or we can invest it. I vote for investing. We all have the same number of hours and minutes and days ahead of us. For some each day will come and go, and whatever happens happens. No plan, no strategy, just whatever. Wasted.
Others will use it up on their dreams and ambitions. Spend it. You only go around once so grab all that you can. WHen you die, whoever has the most toys wins.
But what if we have been created for a greater purpose (we have)? What if life is to be so much more (It is)? God created us to glorify Him. We are here for His purpose. So let me challenge you to invest your life this year in advancing the Kingdom of God.
In Matthew 4 Jesus called some fishermen, and he said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Here is the simplest explanation I know of that tells what it means to be a Christian and to engage in God’s plan. Jesus challenges us to leave behind our plans for His. Jesus calls us to follow Him, and then He promises to change us and use us in His mission.
Consider how you will spend, waste, or invest 2012.
Tags: All Peoples, Christmas, Good News, gossip, News, savior
We are a news obsessed society. We have 24 hour news on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and others. We have morning, midday, and evening national and local news. We have internet news on every search engine. We are obsessed with the news.
News isn’t news unless it is reported. Someone has to tell it for it to be news.The nature of the word “news” requires a story be told. When we come to Christmas, we are reminded that the angel announced to the shepherds in the fields, “I bring you Good News.”
And the angel said it is “Good News” for you, and it is “Good News for all people.”
The nature of news is such that it has to be reported. For it to be Good News, it has to be reported to all people in time. If the message is of a Savior, and it is, people cannot be saved from their sins by Him if they don’t hear the message in time.
Not too long ago someone asked me, “Is ‘gossip’ always bad, or can it be good, sometimes?”
It is bad when it is detrimental, but it is good when it is in obedience to the command of God. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them all I have commanded you.” We should indeed “Gossip the Gospel”. Christmas presents us with a remarkable opportunity to tell the story once again.
Tags: Change, Contemporary, Grandmother, Great Commission, Heritage, Mission, Truth, Unleashed
It is hard to believe that 2011 is almost gone. Completely gone. Did you spend it, waste it, or invest it? And now that 2012 is here, what will you do with it? Let me tell you what I have determined for me.
I am going to spend 2012 the way that I want to spend the rest of my life, committed to two priorities in my ministry: Discipleship and Missions. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Discipleship is a lifetime process, but disciples are made, not born. Jesus didn’t say, “Go make converts.” He said, “Make disciples.” A disciple is one who follows Jesus, is transformed by Jesus in character, and who adopts the mission of Jesus in this world.”
Missions is not geographical. It is up to God to determine where on the map, but it is intentional. For me missions is twofold: It is about engaging lostness with the Gospel, and planting churches. It is doing what Christ called us to do.
We made a fresh start in the church I serve as pastor this year. In October, we relaunched as Church Unleashed @ Beulah. We are the same, but different. We are still a denominational church (Southern Baptist), but that is not foremost. Foremost is our commitment to the Lordship of Christ, the authority of Scripture, and Advancing the Kingdom of God. We have chosen the vehicle of the SBC as our transportation in this journey. That does not mean we do not have strong convictions about how we do what we do. We are who we are by choices based on our convictions.
In a sense you might say, “We are not your grandmother’s Baptist church.” I do not mean anything offensive at all by that statement. Grandmother’s church was great for grandmother’s day. We must never compromise the Word of God and the misison of the church.Those essentials never change. But we must adjust our methodology to reach our current generation. We have have embraced our heritage deeply and securely, but we are determined to appreciate it, not worship it. We will build on our history as we engage our future.So in saying that we have changed, we have not compromised truth, but we are seeking to engage our contemporary Gospel with the truth with methods of ministry that are authentic, engaging, and even fun.
Some may have struggled with this transition. If you are one of those, we invite you to embrace the God given vision of impacting this community and reaching the ends of the earth. Join us in that effort. If you cannot do it through Church Unleashed, if you feel God has lead you somewhere else to serve we will love you, pray for you, and consider you our common workers in the mission of God.This is an exciting time and opportunity before all of us. Already we are seeing God move in our church and community in a powerful way. SO how will you greet 2012? Will you spend it, or will you invest it? I am confident you will not waste it. God bless you.
He spoke to big crowds. But He spent most of His time in small groups. He chose 12, and not all of them were treated the same. Three received His utmost attention. When He left, it was a group of 120 that comprised the ten day prayer meeting in an upper room. But then Pentecost came.
And when the Holy Spirit fell on that band of praying Christians, the Gospel was unleashed on the world as the Holy Spirit was unleashed in the Church. Three thousand were added to the church that day. What a follow-up and discipleship nightmare that suddenly created. So they gathered from house to house DAILY to disciple one another.Just a few days later, 5000 men, plus women and children were added. The church exploded in multiplication.
Is God the same today? Can He still multiply His church? What would happen if the Church were unleashed? I envision a church built on disciplelship with every believer a witness. To quote John Lennon, “You may same, I’m a dreamer.” But I ask you, why not? Why should the church creep along in America when it is exploding all around the world? Do we want to continue to fill up buildings, or sparsely gather in buildings, whichever is the case, with people who either don’t know the Lord or who never grow to Christian maturity? Really?
Why not something brand new and different in 2011. Why not take the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) seriously and let’s make disciples. Why not believe God for multiplication? Why not Unleashed the Church to be what God intended.
And mathematically, sometimes Church Multiplication may mean an equation that involves subtraction first.
SO, original group minus the unwilling plus the Holy Spirt times discipleship equals multiplication of the church.
Tags: Faith, fear, Freedom, Peace, Promoses, Punishment, Worry
Have you even asked that question? What did you conclude? Maybe you decided that God was against you. Or, that He just didn’t care. Or maybe you thought, I am getting what I deserve. I must have done something to deserve this.
Imagine Joseph, the man betrothed to Mary n the Christmas story. Betrothal was more formal than our engagement. It was as legally binding as marriage itself, but the couple waited a year before being together. He discovers his bride to be is pregnant, and not with his child. He must be thinking, surely, God is not for me. This is not the way I planned my life working out.
But an angel comes to him with a message in a dream. And essentially that essage says, “Jospeh, if you can believe, if you will believe, if you will let faith inform your fear, God will change your life.”
The message of Christmas is to everyone, “God is for you.” He sent His only begotten Son for you at Christmas. He gave the most valuable of gifts. He attached His name to those of faith. If you will believe, if you can believe that “God is for you”, then God will transform your fear in faith so that you have peace.
Too often we think that following Christ promises a problem free life. Jesus did nto promise a problem free life, but a peace filled life. Will you believe today that God is for you. Even in the midst of the storms of your life? Will you pray through in faith until God gives you peace? Merry Christmas.