Archive for February, 2012

How Deep is Your Well?

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

As we begin this new week, there are probably some “wells” of concern or trouble in your life. Some of them are likely issues that seem to be incredibly overwhelming to you. Maybe they appear to be hopeless. How deep are they? Maybe they are deep financial wells? Maybe they are deep health wells?

In John 4 we have the story of a Samaritan woman who had been ostracized from the villagers where she lived because of her immorality. She went out to the well alone in the heat of the day to draw water. On one day there was a stranger sitting there resting, a man named Jesus. When she came, he asked her for a drink. In the ensuing conversation, Jesus eventually says, “If you knew who I was, you would have asked me for a drink?”

Her response is what I want to focus on? She asks, “How will you get water? You have no bucket. And the well is deep.” Let this conversation sink in real well, because it is our response to God so very often. Standing before this woman is the one who created the water. Standing before this woman is the one who describes Himself as “living water”.

How deep is your well this mornign? Do you really think that it is so deep that Jesus can not provide living water from its depths? One of the truths we know is that often the deeper the well, the better the water. In West Africa, shallow wells produce murky water. Deep wells are filtered through layers of rock and it comes out cleaner and fresher.

The deeper the well in your life, whether it is a family issue, a financial issue, a health issue, no matter what it is, the greater the chance Jesus will satisfy you by supplying you with living water. But listen, you have to trust Him. You have to turn to Him. You have to come to Him.

Jesus said, “If you are thirsty, come to me, and I will give you living water.”  (John 7:37)

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2012

Posted: February 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

When I was finishing High School in 1969, the year 2000 seemed to far away, and the thoughts of a new century were almost mystical. And yet here we are 12 years into this new millenium. Are we near the end?

I read Hal Lindsay’s Late Great Planet Earth during my college days, and I was intrigued by all of the efforts to see prophecy fulfilled and to declare the nearness of the return of Christ. I have to confess, however, that I have maintained the position that Jesus Christ is coming again, literally, but even He said only the Father knows when.

But a revisit to Matthew 24 in one hand, and the news releases of the current days in the other raises my eyebrows to stop and ask, “Soon, Lord?” The chapter speaks of Jesus’ discourse of His return in response to the disciples questions. Wars and rumors of wars. Iraq, and Afghanistan caught our attention as Americans. What about Libya recently? And Egypt? Fighting in Somalia, in Syria, and even tribal fighting in so many places around the world. The middle east seems allied to say that Israel has no right to exist.

The weather. Who would have thought that in the middle of February we would have 70 degrees one day, and freezing the next? Yesterday, I was grateful for the promise that God gave after the flood in Genesis, because I thought I was in a boat at times driving in downtown Columbia with rain seeming to come from every direction.

I don’t know when Jesus will return. The Bible says that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day to God. I believe that God exists outside of the boundaries of time. But I know that one day Christ will return. And every person from every century will stand before their Creator and give an accounting for their life. We have been created to give God glory. We will account for that. We must be dilgent to declare the Gospel to the nations.

Sitting on the Mount of Olives, Jesus is approached by his disciples and they ask Him, ‘Tell us what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”  Jesus then describes the signs of the coming in the rest of Matthew 24.  He cautions them about being mislead.

In 24:6 he mentions “wars and rumors of wars.” and in 24:9 he mentiones the tribulations Christians will face and they will “put you to death.” Just this week Newsweek magazine ran an article on the war on Christianity around the world. Just recently an Iranian pastor was sentenced to death. In parts of the Islamic world there are regular beheadings of believers. Sudan is currently being victimized by extremists practicing racial cleansing.

Israel has raised the question of dropping a bomb on Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The GOP debate highlighted the fragile state of our world on the brink of war. None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who reads the Bible.

Be aware that in the end, God wins. God is orchestrating all of history to demonstrate His incredible glory. While we are here as believers, the desire for God to receive glory from all peoples should motivate us to world evangelization and missions.

Plugging Holes in the Dam?

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Do you remember the story we heard growing up about the little Boy, I think a “Dutch boy”, who saw a small leak in the dam and tried to plug it with his finger, and then there was another, and then another? Have you ever felt that way in life? How about in the matter of Christian ministry? I certainly have. It seems like as soon as you solve one problem, another one pops up.

A number of years ago I was at a conference where a man named Ron Lewis said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” That is a great word, but what is the main thing? I believe if we define the main thing in terms of our purpose in this world, the main thing is to “Glorify God.” We have been created for that purpose. If the main thing is defined in terms of our mission, then I believe the main thing is to “Make disciples” of every ethnic group. (Matthew 28:18-20).

At Church Unleashed where I serve as pastor, we have defined our purpose as “To Know Him and to Make Him Known.” We have defined our missional responsibility to be “To be a disciple of Christ, and to make disciples.” We want to be a part of reaching the world one person at a time.

But it seems the enemy runs around creating problems to solve. It is as if he knows if he keeps us distracted plugging holes in the dam we will not be very effective in fulfilling our purpose and our mission in this world. Maybe we should remember Matthew 6:33 where it seems Jesus said “if you will make it your number one priority to do My business, I will take care of all your business.”

Nehemiah modeled this. One of my favorite parts of that story in the Bible is when Nehemiah says, “Oh, NO, at ONO.” There are some folks who have little in common except their common enemy, Nehemiah. They come to Nehemiah in the region of Ono and ask him to come down from the wall he is leading the people of God to rebuild around Jerusalem. “Come down and talk to us.” Nehemiah says, “No way. God’s work is too important to waste time with you.” (My paraphrase.)

I am resolved today to remember, “If a man’s ways are pleasing to God, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

We can say it in all kinds of ways. Can a leopard change its spots? Can a Tiger lose its stripes? Can a donkey suddenly become a zebra if we paint stripes on it?

The Proverb in Africa is that no matter how long a log floats in the river, it will never become a crocodile. In the book of Exodus, God shows Moses that a stick can become a snake. But only by the power of God. Only God can change a heart.

This has been brought home to me recently.The Bible speaks of those who hold to a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. I have known a few of those, and I am guessing you have as well. The problem with seeking a form of godliness is that it is external. We can paint stripes on a donkey and try to cal him a zebra. But he is still a jackass on the inside. We can carve a log to look like a reptile and throw it in the river, but it is still a log. We are not to seek the form of godliness,  but to seek God Himself. When we know Him, He will change our lives.

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Do Over

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Have you ever wished your life could be a “do over”? Kind of like a “mulligan” in golf? I am not much of a golfer, but I always enjoyed playing in “Captain’s choice” tournaments. The team plays the best shot of their foursome. And often you can buy mulligans, which means you get to re-hit your drive off the tee box. What if we could have “mulligans” in life, or “do-overs”.

I look back now over 60 years, and 24 years of ministry that I managed to squeeze into 37 years, and wonder what would I do differently if I could have a “do-over.” What would you do differently?I have discovered that God always does what He says He will do. So I guess the first thing I would do differently is learn to trust the Word of God, sooner. And I would study the “ways of God” more carefully. The psalmist prayed, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord . . .(Ps. 25:4).Anyone can observe the works of God, but if we know the “ways of God” imagine the insights for life we would have.

Personally, “discernment” has not been one of my spiritual gifts. My wife has a great deal of discernment. Some of the men who are leaders in our church have a greater deal of discernment than I do. I would listen to them more carefully in discerning the character of people that are placed in roles of great responsibility. That might save some heart-ache and pain for many who follow.

Another thing I believe I would do differently is confront the hard issues and problems that arise day by day more quickly. Sometimes I have allowed issues to continue in church life that would be more easily resolved in their infancy. I fear I bought into the philosophy that love is “nice” all the time. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is confront issues in their infancy.

I don’t know that what I have rambled about in this blog makes any sense to anyone else, but it has served as a cathartic release for me. Have a blessed day.

Emotional Vampires

Posted: February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Emptional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry is an interesting book that I am reading. It is a book written by a psychologist primarily for the world of business. The author says that when people drive themselves crazy, we call it a neuroses or a pscychoses. When they drive us crazy it is a personality disorder. He identifies five specific emotional vampires that we are all likely to encounter in the world where we function day by day.

It is not my intent to write a book review, but I do suggest that you read the book. It is worth the time. Interestingly in the world of fantasy, vampires are typically defeated with the use of a Cross. In reality, it seems to me that Luke 9:23 that takes us each to the cross in our individual lives is the only solution for emotional vampires. The world cannot change them. They are what they are.

But a person who is willing to deny self, and take up their own cross and follow Jesus has hope of Resurrection life. Vampires cannot see their reflections in mirrors, in the movies, but emotional vampires, the author says cannot see the mirrors. So it seems to me their only hope is the mirror of God’s word.