Thursday, August 28, 2008

$3 million Church Donation

I think this link above tells an interesting story. I think the person's desire to remain anonymous is an incredible testament to their character. Or is it?
Maybe they just didn't want their church to know they were gambling! :)
Did God allow this person to win the lottery so that this church could add on to their facilities? God has certainly done stranger things in scripture to further His purposes. I have several questions though.
  1. How many of us could have given up our winnings to our church?
  2. How many people in that church will stop giving because they think the church doesn't need it now?
  3. How many people out there will criticize the church for taking the money?

It's amazing how quick we are to judge a person or situation when God actually does show up to intervene. In John 9 we are told the story of the blind man who was healed by Jesus. The Pharisees and even the man's own family began to criticize Jesus for healing on the Sabbath and the man for ackowledging that Jesus is the Son of God who healed him.

Too many times we behave exactly as these Pharisees in this story. We judge, criticize and villianize what we cannot understand.

My prayer is that this church will add on, but that they will add on in order to reach others for Christ, not to just enrich their own programs and worship experience.

Just my rambling thoughts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What do you worship?

I believe that the remarkable progress of human society - the progress of the human mind and spirit - is not of our doing, but is nothing less than a wondrous manifestation of the extraordinary power and blessing of God working in and through us. It's not our power, it's God's power. And thus it is God and God alone that we must worship, and not the work of our own hearts or minds or hands. Margaret B. Gunness

OK, its pop quiz time. Ready? What is the thing that we attend on Sunday mornings just after the Sunday School hour?....

Time’s up! What was your answer? There is a long list of names for this Sunday event. You might have said church, Sunday service, “preaching”, “big church”, or even naptime. (I seriously hope the last answer wasn’t yours.)

The most correct answer is worship. We come together to worship God during this time. There is no distinction between the hymns, the message, the offering, or even the children’s sermon. If we are doing these things correctly, it is all worship.

We know that when we come into the building we call “church” on Sunday morning we are there to worship God. However, did you know that your worship of God is not limited to Sunday mornings? God wants you to worship Him with your life, all day, every day.

Too many times, however, we just can’t seem to squeeze in even a few seconds of worship for our God, who is always there waiting to hear from us. All too often the things that receive the most attention from us are things that matter the least to God.

One of our church members told me recently about a sermon one of our previous pastors preached. In the sermon the pastor said something like, “Wherever you spend most of your time, that’s where your god is.” I’m sure I have butchered the exact quote, but the sentiment is there. Where do we spend the bulk of our time, exhaust most of our energy, and funnel most of our money and resources? The god we worship is in the answer to that question.

There is no harm in doing our daily activities, but when they begin to eclipse our view of God Almighty, The Great I Am, who loves us so much, then these diversions become distractions. God is a jealous God. The Bible refers nearly thirty times to Him being jealous for us! Too many times we continue to ignore Him and chase after other gods.

The bottom line question I have for you is, “What do you worship?” Is the God of the universe the main focus of your life? Is He your reason for living? Or is He just the old man, with the white beard, who sits on a throne in heaven that you give a nod to on Sunday mornings?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No wonder the perception that the world has of Christians is so bad. Whatever happened to personal purity, character, and integrity in our church leadership?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two paths

When Dr. William Willimon was Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, he got a call from an upset parent, a VERY upset parent. "I hold you personally responsible for this," he said.

"Me?" Dr. Willimon asked.

The father was hot, upset because his graduate school-bound daughter had just informed him that she was going to chuck it all ("throw it all away" was the way the father described it) and go do mission work with the Presbyterians in Haiti. "Isn't that absurd!" shouted the father. "A BS degree in mechanical engineering from Duke and she's going to dig ditches in Haiti."

"Well, I doubt that she's received much training in the Engineering Department for that kind of work, but she's probably a fast learner and will probably get the hang of ditch-digging in a few months," Dr. Willimon said.

"Look," said the father, "this is no laughing matter. You are completely irresponsible to have encouraged her to do this. I hold you personally responsible," he said.

As the conversation went on, Dr. Willimon pointed out that the well-meaning but obviously unprepared parents were the ones who had started this ball rolling. THEY were the ones who had her baptized, read Bible stories to her, took her to Sunday School, let her go with the Presbyterian Youth Fellowship to ski in Vail. Dr. Willimon said, "You're the one who introduced her to Jesus, not me."

"But all we ever wanted her to be was a Presbyterian," said the father, meekly.

This is what happens when we get too comfortable and forget that we are following Jesus, not our “religion”. This Christian experience is not about what denomination we are, it is about being sold out to Christ. In that, He may ask us to do many things that lead us out of our complacency, and into an unknown world where we follow Him, not rules.

Please do not misunderstand; submitting to God’s will for our lives is not complete anarchy. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is complete peace that we live in when we are doing the will of the Master.

Many times in our journey we may be content in our Christian lives, and happy with the way we worship, but unfulfilled in our spirits because we are not living and worshiping Him in the way God wants. However, we may find ourselves in uncomfortable and possibly downright dangerous circumstances, but are able to feel God’s peace because we are listening to Him, and following blindly.

The old story of the man who visited the jungle is a good illustration of this. A man was trudging through the jungle with a guide. The plant growth was beautiful, but thick. The guide was using a machete to get through the growth. The visitor said, “Where is the path?”
The guide replied, “I am the path.”

We have two choices. We can follow the well worn-path of religious law and ritual that Christ proved was a path that always leads to bondage and guilt. The other choice is to follow Christ blindly, where we cannot even take a step without following in His footprints. We then become completely dependant on Him. He becomes our “path”.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What is real?

Jesus was always going up into the mountains to pray. He went there so He could be alone and talk with God. One day, however, He took Peter, John and James along with Him.

I‘m sure they were thrilled to be able to go with Jesus to pray. Can you imagine the feelings and excitement they must have felt as they walked up to that special place where they would get to see and hear Jesus talking to God? Not only were they chosen to accompany Him on the journey up the mountain, but they were also going to be able to participate in the moment. They must have thought, “What a day this will be!”

It must have been a long trip up the mountain, because when they arrived at the place where Jesus intended to pray, Peter, James and John fell asleep. In fact, they almost missed the whole entire event. While they were asleep, Jesus began praying. Luke 9:29-31 reads, As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Jesus was in the presence of Moses and Elijah, talking with them about His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. His face became different, His robe lit up, and Peter, James and John slept. However, something stirred them.

As they became fully awake, they saw Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus, and also saw Jesus in His full glory. They were then allowed into a cloud in which they heard the voice of God. They must have been speechless to encounter the true power of Almighty God.

However, Luke 9 tells us that as soon as God spoke, suddenly they were alone with Jesus. There was no more shining robe, no Moses or Elijah to talk with, no thundering voice from heaven. Once again, it was just the three of them and Jesus. Many thoughts probably rushed through their minds. “Did it really happen?” “Was it a dream from their heavy sleep?”

I read an article on Monday about the Olympic opening ceremony fireworks. Apparently the fireworks show that was seen in Beijing was a little different than the one seen on our television screens. Some of the fireworks on television were faked. They were computer generated.

A good number of people are upset that they believed the display to be true. However, some are not upset at all. They enjoyed it whether some of it was fake or not. They are not upset, because they appreciate the effort that went into the display, whether it was the real thing or generated by computer.

Make no mistake, Jesus’ light show on the mountain with Peter, James and John was real. It was no dream or group psychosis. It really happened. There was nothing fake about it. However, what if it had been a dream? Couldn’t that dream be used of God to strengthen their belief?
Sometimes the question is not whether an experience is real or not. Sometimes the better question is what can we learn from it? What is God trying to show me through this real event, dream, or emotion?

What is happening in your life that seems unreal? Instead of trying to take it apart and analyze it, try trusting God for the faith to understand it. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you just as He did that glorious day on the mountain to Peter, James and John. He will relish the opportunity for you to know Him better.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29