Showing posts from 2019

This is how the Lord works

This is how the Lord works:

In special circumstances:  Independently of humanity.  Only Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension is a means of substitutionary atonement. In usual patterns:  Dependently THROUGH humanity.  The moving ahead of the kingdom of God universally, nationally, provincially, within our county, within our city, within the church of our city, within our congregation, within our families, within our individual lives—-requires our cooperation! God’s usual pattern for evangelism is us speaking and preaching the gospelGod’s money comes from our walletsGod’s teaching comes from our mouthsGod’s love comes from our loveWe pray—God listens.  We pray—God acts.God’s hands are tied if we are loveless, if we don’t serve, if we don’t give money, if we don’t do something, if we don’t pray.In an era where the average Christian is giving less and serving less, God is being put on the shelf in our churches as a relic of the past. We are wondering where he is and why doesn’t he do so…

Be careful what you say about yourself!

Matthew 26 Apostle Peter:

I am strong!  I would never deny you!  I’m the man!Can’t pray… would rather sleep—even after Jesus’ appeal for prayer partners!Cuts off the servants ear.Runs likes a rabbit.Follows at a distance.Denies knowing Jesus at all.Weeps like a baby.
Is this the average day in the life of Peter? Is this the average day for any one of us?   Peter is in and out of consolation/ desolation. He is ‘Peter’ confident… not ‘God’ confident. Lessons: Don’t boast… you don’t know what you would do.  You don’t know what you would say! Pray—pray lots.   Pray some more! Repeat the first three lessons.

Am I required by God To Tithe?

“Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give.”  Prov 21:26
I recall my boy’s first bikes—that is their first two wheel bikes.  I put training wheels on them to assist in training them to ride.  Once they were accustomed to the larger bikes and sitting on them, I took the training wheels off. Weekly giving of any sort is the training wheels for tithing. Tithing is the training wheels for generosity. Generosity is the goal—tithing is not.

Understanding what tithing does Understanding what tithing does not do

What tithing does: Tithing is a training ground for the following things:Tithing teaches you to give on a weekly basis (or whenever your income comes in).  Tithing trains you to begin to realize that God owns everything you have.  You are not an owner, you are a steward.Tithing trains you to become what God wants you to be—generous!Tithing trains you to think in terms of sowing seed.  Tithing trains you to look for opportunities to give and bless others.The goal of…

Save your breath to cool your soup!

Proverbs 9:7-9 (NLT) 7 Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. 8 So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.

A few years ago I copied the following from Mike Murdock.  In my better moments I try to live by them:
I don’t correct where I see error—I correct where I see humility.I don’t correct where I see disagreement—I correct where I see a learner.When you stopped asking, you stopped learning.  When you stopped learning your present became your future.It’s difficult for me to stay interested in someone who ignores counsel.I don’t control winds, I don’t correct liars, I don’t counsel the disinterested.

Sometimes to be honest, my mother-in-law’s statement is true: “You might as well save your breath to cool your soup.”


About a week ago I had breakfast with a dear friend of mine who is a missionary in Russia.  He told me the following interesting story.

His daughter was involved in street evangelism in Russia.  She, along with other youth, carried clipboards and were doing surveys.  One of the questions they asked was this: “Do you believe in heaven and hell, and if so, where will you spend eternity.”  Ninety-five percent of the people interviewed responded along these lines:  ‘Yes I believe in heaven and hell!  I will spend eternity in hell because I am such an awful sinner.’
Now this same daughter moved to Canada and organized the same kind of outreach doing the same thing, asking the same question:  “Do you believe in heaven and hell, and if so, where will you spend eternity.”  Ninety-five percent of the people interviewed responded along these lines:  ‘Yes I believe in heaven and hell!  I will spend eternity in heaven because I am a good person!’
Over my forty-one years of pastoring, I have conduct…

First Sunday of Advent: Hope

The Arrival Of the Christ Child Christ and Pilgrimage

Psalms 84:5 (NKJV) 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
Today we begin an intentional journey!  We by faith move intentionally in our Christian faith.  This is our advent series on the journey:
BECAUSE of ChristThe Journey OF ChristThe Journey TO ChristThe Journey WITH ChristThe Journey TOWARDS Christ

Dec 1. Hope. The Journey BECAUSE of Christ.
This is the first Sunday Advent

We begin our journey, we plan our journey, we move ahead on our journey…because of Christ. Who is Christ to you?
When did this first begin?
What has changed since you began with Christ?
What does the Bible tell us about who Christ is?
(see how many of these you can think of before checking this link!)

What is the relationship/ association between Christ and hope?
Colossians 1:27-28 (NKJV) To them God willed to make known wh…

Which Road will you travel?

Four Roads:  You Chose
I have been quite drawn lately to the idea of pilgrimage or journey.  So I like using the terminology of spiritual journey.  I often ask people how are they doing, or where are they on their journey.

As on a journey—of any description— there are road choices to make.  In your spiritual journey there are four roads to be mindful of.

 Road choice # 1:  God’s best This road is not necessarily smooth and easy, and may be even challenging—but nevertheless it is progressive. This is the best road and it is going somewhere.  There is forward movement.  You are heading somewhere.  You are going places.  You are not side-tracked.  You are not lost.  The end result is fabulous!  It is incredibly rewarding.  It will make you breathless for a long period of time.  You will be awarded treasures!  If you travel on your journey on God’s agenda, listening and responding to God, you will progress according to God’s divine help and direction.
Road Choice # 2:  Your ways Now you love yo…

Giftings or Character?

There is a fascinating prophetic moment in John’s gospel in John 11:47-52 (NKJV)  Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”  And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”  Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

John specifically uses the terminology “he prophesied.”  This is the usual word  προφητεύω that is used in the New Testament.  Here Bauer tells us this means: “to foretell something that…

God is not the limiting factor!

He is not the limiting factor:
In John Chapter 6 Jesus is feeding the five thousand —plus —individuals.  I am sure you know the story well.  After the miracle prayer and the distribution of the fish and bread, John tells us the following. “And they all ate as much as they wanted (John 6:11).”

When Jesus gives a meal—you have the right to eat as much as you want!
The next day we find some of the crowd chasing Jesus and they find him in Capernaum.  They are coming under false pretences but Jesus has one up on them—Jesus knows it.  John 6:26 John 6:26-27 (NLT) 26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
The crowds missed the point!  Jesus was offering them spiritual food but all they wanted was fish and bread …

Beyond your wildest imagination

Beyond your wildest imagination!

In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of a rich man and Lazarus.  The comparisons are as follows:
Rich manLazarus Very rich                    Dirt poor Healthy                      Very sick SuccessfulUnknown  Lots of supportOnly dogs helping him
These are huge comparisons.  But the story develops even further!
They both die and it seems the situation is totally reversed.  The rich man ends up in a place of torment and Lazarus ends up in a place of complete tranquility and peace.  Jesus in his story speaks these words about the rich man: …remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing.  So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish (Luke 16:25 NLT).” I recently read a book by Ralph Martin that spoke of the same idea. Eternity will be beyond your wildest imagination!  It will be what you were thinking to the nth degree.  If you are with Lazarus in heaven, it will be beyond your imagination.  It will be more beaut…

Growing up!

On Spiritual Growth
I have been reading and studying for a few years now in the area of spiritual formation and spiritual direction.  I have now come to a firmer conclusion that I have held loosely for years.

True spiritual growth does not happen by chance.  Growth happens intentionally and purposefully.  Sad to say, many believers in Christ, do not progress on their spiritual journey because they don’t have the necessary tools or understanding to move forward.
I recently read Teresa of Avila’s 4 blockage in spiritual progression:
# 1.  A Carelessness about Sin Here the admonishment is about paying close attention to our words, conduct, thoughts, and actions.  Ralph Martin: “Making a decision never to freely choose to commit even a small sin is an important turning point in our spiritual journey.”
# 2.  Not avoiding the Near Occasions of Sin We too often fall back into the same sin(s) and end up spinning our spiritual wheels.  We excuse our sin, plus we refuse to remove ourselves and our sin…

The downward spiral of sin and the choice of sinning

James 1:14-15 (NLT) 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT) 6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Bernard of Clairvaux taught the following.

The process, order, and bondage of sin and choices of sin:
Sensual Desire—listening to our fallen nature, or the voice of others, or the thoughts from the evil one. Consent—succumbing to the idea of sinning Action—the act of sinning Habit—repeating the act over and over again Contempt—No one—even God, is going to tell me what to do! Proverbs 18:3 (NLT) 3 Doing wrong leads to disgrace and scandalous behaviour brings contempt.

(Adapted from P 34 Ralph Martin. Th…

Duh--What church should I attend?

Part # 3 of three Part Blog:

Why go to church? What is the ‘church?’ How to find the right congregation?

How to find the right congregation?
A congregation is what we normally refer to as a church.  Here is the distinction I am making.   The Church; This is the one described in my previous blog… “what is the church.”  It is the timeless eternal body of believers. A Congregation: This is a local gathering of believers who are part of “The Church”. Think of it this way—-three levels:
Level # 1-  THE CHURCH—the mystical eternal union of all believers.
Level # 2-   The Church in a town/ city/ area.  Because of level # 1, there is realistically only ONE church in a town, city, etc.
Level # 3-  Congregations:  These are various groups of people that meet together for primarily four interactive, communal, things:
Word:  Preaching, teaching, sharingSacrament:  Celebration of the Lord’s Supper (communion/ eucharist)Worship: Music, readings, silence, giftsPrayer:  Communal prayer, interaction, liturgies