Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Caprice Classic

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
 (Matthew 13:44 NIV)

There is an old saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” That old adage is certainly true. What is valuable to me may not hold any worth to you at all.

My home is filled with items that I would never throw away or sell. However, my wife simply cannot understand why I keep some of those things around. In fact, many others would find no value in them either. However, they are things that I treasure.

Last week, I visited a church member who was in the hospital in Augusta. When I returned to my truck, I noticed the vehicle parked directly in front of me. This car was a late 1970’s model 4-door Caprice Classic. It was faded brown in color and had many rust spots. There were dents in the passenger door and the spoke rims were rusty and rough looking. The headliner in the interior was hanging down from the top. As if these things didn’t make the car look rough enough, the hood was ill-fitting and white in color, as if it was awaiting a coat of paint.

However, it was not the rough condition of the car that got my attention. In fact, I didn’t notice the condition until I saw the steering wheel. There, clamped onto the steering wheel of the car, was The Club.

Remember The Club? The Club is a device that is locked onto the steering wheel of a car to prevent it from being stolen. A thief may break into the car, but they will be unable to drive it with The Club attached to the steering wheel.

Of course, my first thought was, “Who would want to steal that car?” I sat in the seat of my truck for a moment and stared at the Caprice. Then I thought, “That car belongs to someone who values it a great deal. They value it so much; they wanted to protect it from others.”

I have met with numerous people who think because they are not great public speakers, can’t sing, or are quiet, they aren’t valuable. You may be one of those people. You may think you are of no value to anyone. You may truly believe that no one cares about you. I have great news for you. There is one who values you above all creation.

When the world looks at us, they may only see what I saw in that Caprice Classic. They may see the rust, the dings, the mismatched parts, and an interior that isn’t holding up. However, God sees His creation that He values more than anything else He made. He sees such value in you, that He became man and died on the cross for you. He rose from the dead to defeat sin and death so that you would be His forever.

Just as the person who drove the Caprice saw such value in his car that he wanted to protect it with The Club, Jesus wanted to protect you. When He called you to be His child, He set His seal upon you so that nothing could ever take you away from Him. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:28-29 KJV)

God created you and loves you more than you could know. He wants you to know today that you are valuable and loved by Him. Rejoice in the warmth of His love today!

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
(Matthew 6:26 NIV)

He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
(Matthew 12:11-12 NIV)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good to great sermons

I just read a great blog on writing great sermons. Anyone who preaches needs to read this one!! Click here  How to Make a Good Sermon Great

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Baseball Bailer

Bo and Sarah go to a Houston Astros game last Monday night. They’re sitting in a very logical place at Minute Maid Park to possibly get some foul balls hit their way. Even Sarah said, “As soon as we got here and I saw where we were sitting, I said 'Baby, I'm going to get hit." Her boyfriend replied, “No, you won't. I'll catch it if you do.”

In a few minutes, Bo got his big opportunity. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Houston’s third baseman, Chris Johnson is at the plate with a 2-2 count. Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor zings an 80 mph ball in to Johnson which he fouls into the stands. Yes, you guessed it correctly. It headed right to Bo and Sarah.

Most guys would love to catch a foul ball at a major league baseball game. Some guys want to catch one so badly, they bring a glove to catch it with. Bo, however, saw the ball coming, instantly got up and moved out of the way. He turned back to where Sarah was sitting just in time to see the ball hit her in the forearm.

As if he didn’t feel bad enough, the cameras were rolling, caught the whole thing on film, and the network even sent a reporter over to their seats to interview them. He said his reason for moving away is that he couldn’t see the ball well due to the glare of the lights. All of Houston is calling Bo “The Bailer,” since he bailed out on his girlfriend.

Most of the time, we have the best intentions. There aren’t many who wake up in the morning and decide to harm others before the day is over. However, it isn’t long for most of us before we fall to the pressure of doing what we intended to do or not do.

How many times have you vowed to eat better, exercise more, watch less TV, control your temper, be more romantic, meet an old friend for lunch, go to bed earlier, read your Bible more or establish a quiet time with God? Perhaps you could add many more things to the list of well intended goals. The fact is, we want to do and be better, but we just fail at times making it happen.

Henry Ford once said, “You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.” The same sentiment exists in the saying, “It's always easy the night before to get up early the next morning.” Saying what we are going to do is easy. Making it happen is harder.

Jesus illustrated this in one of His parables. "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' " 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. "Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. (Matthew 21:28-31a NIV)

Jesus was talking to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. His point was that doing was more important than saying. While He was speaking to the Pharisees and priests that day, He says the same thing to us today.

Whether we are promising to catch a foul ball to keep someone from getting hit, or vowing to do a better job at something, actions do indeed speak louder than words.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25 NIV)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is That My Job?

In the book, Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger, the authors tell the story of an experiment that Mr. Geiger and some friends did. They placed a fake ad on (which is a real church staffing website) for a “Pastor of Extreme Worship Arts,” for a fictitious church in Florida. The ad read as follows.

This postmodern, gen-x church with an unknown denominational affiliation, averaging from 1001-1500 persons is seeking an exceptional leader to be our Pastor of Extreme Worship Arts. We believe the right person will be a unique fit for such a time as this. This person serves under the Senior Pastor, and will oversee all areas of worship. Candidates must embrace the Senior Pastor’s vision of aligning all people of all denominations under the same vision.

The person must also meet these requirements: Ability to infuse the TULIP [5 Point Calvinism]doctrine in all worship sets. Postmodern, Visionary, Missional leader capable of creating an ethos and apostolitic movement. Willing to find some songs written from a premillenial dispensationalist theological tradition. Desires to develop an emerging handbell choir.

Some snake handling may be appropriate (for our believers service only). Agree that the Lord is to be worshiped through magnificent attire and appropriate versions of the Bible. Demonstrate proof of a second blessing... Tongue speaking in various accents is a major plus as we are a multicultural church. Exegetically establish a movement of fluidity in the Extreme Worship Ministry. We realize that many of these requirements are personal preferences and not biblical mandates. Therefore, each candidate must be aligned with roughly 3/4 of all our requirements. (171-172)

If you are confused by the ad, you’re in good company. It was written to contradict itself. Most of the ideas “required” cannot exist with the others. The sad thing is that some people actually applied for the job with real resumes, cover letters and some even sent in DVDs of them leading worship. It is sad, according to Simple Church, because, “To apply for the position, a person would have to: (1) have no basic theological belief system that guides his/her ministry or (2) be willing to compromise his/her beliefs in order to get a ministry job.” (173)

Imagine you had to hire someone to fill your role as a Christian exactly as you currently fill it. What would the job description look like? It might go something like this. Wanted: Person to fill role as Christian. Must be able to go to worship services no more than once per month, must never take on any leadership role in the church, Pray only when in trouble, read the Bible only as needed in church. Must be available as a Christian for 1-2 hours on the Sundays that are required, and for 1 hour every third Wednesday night. Hours may vary during Easter and Christmas.”

Recently in Seattle, a parking meter officer marked a car tire at 9:30 a.m. The driver was in the car, but did not acknowledge the officer. The car was in a two-hour parking zone, so when the officer returned just after noon, a ticket was in order. However, the driver, a 36 year-old man was still in the vehicle. The officer tapped on the window but got no response. Assuming the man to be asleep, she wrote the ticket for $42.

About 12:30, the police received a call from the man’s girlfriend. Apparently he had been missing. You guessed it. The 36 year-old was dead. The report stated that the car’s sunroof was open and all the doors were unlocked. The officer could have opened the door or called for help when the man didn’t respond, but instead she simply did her job as meter reader, and moved on.

Are you living up to the job description God has given you or are you trying to just get by with the minimum? Jesus made it very simple for us. He told us to become as little children. He said to love God and love others as ourselves. Don’t simply “get by” in your faith. Work for Him daily!

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. (Luke 10:1-2)