Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the beginning...

I posted earlier that I’ve been reading through the book of Acts trying to trick my mind into believing it’s the first time I’ve ever read it. I’m shooting for an impartial outlook on what the first church was really like. (Oh and for those of you who commented under your breath, “Tricking his mind couldn’t have been too hard.” You're either being facetious or you know me well. Either way I wholeheartedly agree! I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer! I am foolish! “And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”)

Thinking about Acts and the true church, you know, US, the body of believers. I was stirred by what Pete Wilson from Cross Point Church in Nashville had to say in his blog recently.

Pete says: “Jesus modeled a community for us where everyone’s welcome. He would welcome, love, accept, embrace, and include anybody who came up to Him. It didn’t matter—prostitutes, Samaritans, tax collectors, Gentiles, lepers, or sinners. We dream of a church where people, even if they don’t agree with everything we believe yet and even if they don’t understand everything we teach yet, can discover a place where they are welcome “as they are.”
Jesus helped us understand we’re all equally in need of the forgiveness of Christ. Because of this there is no need for any sense of spiritual superiority. We dream of creating a community…where there is no need for hiding, no need for reputation building, no need to impress anybody because we are all sinners, saved and living by grace.
Jesus continually chose to believe the best in people. He looked at people like Peter, who was inconsistent, unpredictable, and shaky in his faith at times, and still chose to believe that transformation could happen. Likewise, as Christians we’re called to believe the best in all people. We’re called to look one another in the eyes and see the men and women that we can become through the power of Jesus Christ.”

What about a body of believers that work, thought and acted in this fashion that Pete talks about?? Everybody’s welcomed, Nobody’s perfect, Anything is possible!

It’s not about an allegiance to the sign that’s in the church lawn it’s about an allegiance to Jesus and doing whatever it takes short of sin to reach people.

Acts 2:37-47 says...
They were cut to the heart by what Peter had to say about JESUS.

They were baptized and given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

3000 in ONE DAY!

They devoted their lives to the apostles teaching (JESUS).

They continued to gather together.

They had everything in common (JESUS).

They did whatever it took to help someone in need, including sell their own stuff.

They broke bread together in each others homes with glad and SINCERE hearts.


NOW THAT’S A VISION FOR CHURCH! It’s sad that this sounds so novel because this is how church started and we should be broken, compelled and passionate for church to be this way again!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sea Biscuit

I watched Sea Biscuit last night and I teared up...again. Yes, I watch Hoosiers and I tear up. Yes, I watch The Patriot and I tear up. I watch Braveheart and I get fired up!

Why? Because every time I watch those movies THEY WIN! I love it when the underdog wins! I LOVE IT BECAUSE WE ARE THE UNDERDOG or at least the world thinks we are. The world says we can’t or shouldn’t or we’re crazy but the Lord says we can! The world says why give your money to something you can’t see, why help someone that can’t ever give you anything in return, why waste a perfectly good morning to sleep in?

Why? Why? Why? For the same reason I cry when I watch The Passion. The same reason I tear up when I hear the song How Deep The Father’s Love. Because my Guy won! And the words He heard, the beating He took, the pain that was inflicted as He hung on a cross for half a day was for you and me! He has rode the horse, played the game and fought the battle for us! He’s already won! He defeated our last enemy and that was death! He has already kicked the crap out of the devil! Getcha some of that baby!

In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world. (John 16:33, The Message)

Here’s how Paul gets in the face of death!

Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
(1 Corinthians 15:55, The Message)

Don’t you know it would be fun to take Paul to a college football game! Or how about Paul as college football coach? I'm telling right now he is piling on! He is leaving the first string in in the fourth quarter when it's 77 - 0. Okay, got to calm down, I'm getting a little carried away.

Don’t ever forget that you may be an underdog to the world but you are in the starting line for God’s team! And I’ll say it again, OUR TEAM ALWAYS WINS!! Now get out there and recruit somebody!

[Insert your favorite fight song here]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The List

So this came to my mind tonight while driving. Not sure why. Just a good question that popped in my head that I’ll leave open-ended and hopefully provoke some thought!

Are you content in thinking your salvation is based on your deeds which includes checking the box “went to church on Sunday done for the week”?

Or do you know there’s not a checklist long enough to reach to heaven, you are not perfect, and God’s grace that was bought by his Son dying with you and me in mind is the only way to get there and you should be ecstatic to tell someone about Him and my mom is an English teacher and she would hate this massive run on sentence but if I was preaching this I think I could do it all in one breath with some emphasis to get my point across that I’M FIRED UP about Him!!? Why aren’t you?

Are you living by the list or in grace? If you’re living by the list I hope you don’t miss a box. If you’re enjoying the life of grace then thank the Man with the holes in hands, feet and side by sharing it with someone! Need some guidance on trashing the list, try Galatians on for size, you’ll like chapter 3. www.biblegateway.com

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Person vs God

I’m going through the book of Acts and trying to digest it like I’ve never read it before. Mentally pretending like this is the first time I’ve ever read this book. How is it speaking to me? Then this verse smacked me in the face like the buddy your bird hunting with forgetting to hold the tree limb in front of you. Well, if you’re a bird hunter you’ll know what I’m talking about.

33-37When they heard that, they were furious and wanted to kill them on the spot. But one of the council members stood up, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a teacher of God's Law who was honored by everyone. He ordered the men taken out of the room for a short time, then said, "Fellow Israelites, be careful what you do to these men. Not long ago Theudas made something of a splash, claiming to be somebody, and got about four hundred men to join him. He was killed, his followers dispersed, and nothing came of it. A little later, at the time of the census, Judas the Galilean appeared and acquired a following. He also fizzled out and the people following him were scattered to the four winds.

38-39"So I am telling you: Hands off these men! Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it—and you better not be found fighting against God!" (Acts 5:33-39, The Message)

If your vision is driven for personal reasons then it will “fall apart.” But if your vision “is of God” then take on all skeptics and challengers because they won’t be fighting you they’ll be “fighting against God.” BTW he is undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champ!! HE WAS DEAD AND CAME BACK TO LIFE…TOP THAT! Makes me think of the Michael W. Smith song Shout Unto God. Listen to it live from the New Hallelujah album and I promise it will fire up your spirit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Random thoughts on my mind.

1) Good friends!! I ran into some at supper the other night and realized again just how encouraging and inspiring good friends can be. BTW my favorite verse is John 15:13.

2) Read this thought provoking question in a blog today. Does inviting people to give their lives to Christ seem like a hindrance or an HONOR? That one made me think. If it doesn’t seem like an honor then what are we doing here? Are we trying to get to heaven? Yes. But are we trying to take as many people as we can with us??

The instruction Jesus gave his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20, The Message)is the same timeless directive he give us today. We are the disciples of today! Don’t leave it solely to a preacher to try to reach people and don’t think they’re the only ones that can. I’d venture to say that as many and maybe more people have been brought to Christ through relationships built outside the assembly than through sermons! Maybe I’m wrong but that’s my theory for you to prove or disprove. If you spend much time trying to disprove then I think you have some serious ego problems and your time could have been better spent building a relationship with someone and showing the love of Jesus. (Sorry for the small rant)

Anyway, when I say ministering I don’t mean randomly walking up and start preaching at someone about their “sinful ways.” You’re most likely to hear something along the lines of “GET AWAY FREAK SHOW!” That approach, most often, is what I would call a spiritual turnoff. You just raised every Jesus force field in that person’s body. Give it up, you’re toast!

You can minister and create opportunities to minister by the way you live your life and treat people. People will notice and ask, “What’s she got?”, “Why’s he so positive in a time like this?”, “Why did she give that to those people just because?” Seek out a friendship with to someone that you normally would not befriend or have nothing in common with. People will notice and ask you “Why” and you will have an opportunity to tell your story, you know, to minister. Remember Peter’s words.

...keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. (1 Peter 3:15-16, The Message)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Humans or Souls

I had a TV show going in the back ground last night. Bad habit for me having to have something going in the background when I’m in the house…as if my two boys own personal UFC match and our living room serving as the octagon isn’t enough. Anyway to get to the point, here’s what I heard, “That’s a human being in there!” I wasn’t tuned into the Sci-Fi channel so they weren’t ruling out an alien encounter or something. This lady was making the point that the person she was addressing wasn’t treating the other individual like a human.

The words caught my attention because I had just read a blog earlier in the day that asked the question, “Are we seeing people as just human beings or as souls?” Whoa! Now that’s cutting deep, right? Was the blogger saying go farther than just “playing nice” and showing respect to others? ABSOLUTELY!

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! - 2 Corinthians 5:16 (New Living Translation)

Since I finally opened my eyes to what God wants for me I’ve asked Him to put me in uncomfortable situations that will give me the opportunity to share my faith. That's a dangerous prayer for me considering my personality. You know something though; He doesn’t send you an RSVP with the date, time and place! The nerve of that guy thinking He’s the ruler of the universe or something! Thinking He can answer my prayer at a gas station in Jackson, MS while my cramped, exhausted, full bladdered family is working on a 14 hour drive coming back home from vacation. Come on God! I’ve been on the road since 4 am and possess a degree of coffee breath that would strip paint. But that’s what He did and I think I had my opportunity and blew it!!

I was filling up with gas and as I turned around this dude is my grill and he say’s, “Hey man you got a couple bucks I can have for gas. My car is done. I’m trying to get home to Monroe, LA but if you could just get me across town I would appreciate it.” Now, let’s set the record straight, I no longer judge people’s heart for the Lord based on looks. (HUGE pet peeve of mine, for another day) But I will tell you that this guy at the least was having a hard time with life that day and getting the car he was in to Monroe, LA was going to be a chore. But I did the “human” thing and gave him $6, thinking, ah, he wants a couple bucks I’ll give him enough to get him across town then some. Yeah me! At the time I felt I had done a good thing. People treating people like humans.

But as I got down the road it bothered me. I didn’t know why. But it did. Then it hit me on a couple levels.

One, I think I missed an opportunity to minister and didn't realize it until just then. Instead of giving him a few dollars and allowing him to be on his merry way why didn’t I just go over there and stand with the guy and fill his car all the way up. What conversation could we have started during that time? “Man why are you doing this for me?” Something like that could have allowed the door to open to let him know that he’s loved by a total stranger. He’s a SOUL, not just a human being? I love you dude because Jesus loves you. Or maybe he already knows that and just needed a Christian brother there to reaffirm that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we do exist outside the walls of a building we meet in once a week.

The other thing that disturbed me was how often do we do that to Souls? Like giving the guy just a few bucks in gas and not enough to get him home. How often do we give someone just enough love of Jesus to get them going but never enough to get them Home? And you know what I mean by home. Not this bump in the road we call earth. I am talking enough love to get them to that fried apricot stand in the sky we know as heaven. This is still stirring in me so I’m going to ponder it for a while longer. You ponder it as well. Comment if you’d like.

I’m going to stop with a closing I read from a book I finished this week. (By the way I read this book in record time. Those of you that know me know that I am a horribly slow reader. But I read a 190 page book in less than two weeks! Who cares if it had 18 font, half page illustrations and 3 inch margins… I READ 190 PAGES IN LESS THAN 6 MONTHS!) Anyway if any of this post resonated with you then this part of an old Franciscan benediction will jack you up!!

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”

I know you think it’s not a stretch, but I WANT TO BE BLESSED WITH FOOLISHNESS!!