Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everyone Has A god

Believe it or not, idolatry comes naturally to all of us. Why? Because we were made to worship, we must worship, and we will worship. Even as nature abhors a vacuum, so does the human soul. The human soul always will find an object of worship, either on the shelf or on the altar or in the mirror or in heaven. But we will find something to worship, because we are all idolaters.

Maybe we don't give these gods the names they were once given, like Dagon or Baal or Zeus or Thor, but they are gods nonetheless. An idol or false god is anyone or anything that takes the place of God in our lives. And know this: everyone has a god...even atheists.

When someone comes up with their own version of God, that is worshipping a false god as well. Making statements like, "Well, I don't believe in a God who would. . . ." is creating your own god, and that is idolatry. Anytime we find or fabricate something to worship on our terms, think idol.

The Bible warns us, "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts" (1 John 5:21). Whoa. Notice that John says "anything". John knew well the war for our worship and how many would struggle with things of this world taking the place of God in our hearts.

But why would we worship an object or a thing or something else instead of the true God? Because in our minds, it gives us control. I counsel and preach and help people, I see control issues everwhere. Why are some church members chronically negative about the "changes" in the church? Control. Why does your mother-in-law meddle and try to cause conflict in your marriage? Control. Why does your boss have to be so "bossy"? Control. Why does someone give you the silent treatment after a disagreement? Control. Why do some people stop giving to the local church when they don' like something? Control. Why is there so much conflict on the PTA board at school? Because it's all about control. Why do we worship what we want, when we want, and how we want? It's about control.

An idol or false god is whatever you get excited about, whatever you are passionate about, and whatever you choose to pour your mind's attention and your heart's affection toward. People get excited about a lot of things in this world. They may not call these things their gods, but in effect, that's exactly what they are. What is the focus of your life? That, for all practical purposes, is your god.

Idols...everywhere. Everyone has a god. My prayer is that you'd find the real thing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Thought From My Retreat

I was sitting at breakfast one morning at the retreat I went on in June. Amy and I were always sitting at tables with other people and this morning was no different. It was a great way to get to know people, so many times you sat by people you didn't know to try to mix it up.

One morning while at breakfast a thought provoking statement was made. Now you must understand that these are all Sr. Pastors and their wives from various churches all across the U.S. Anyway, one of the other pastors at the table made this statement:
Sometimes it's easier to give birth than raise the dead.
Now what do you think he meant by that? Weigh in and leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Backsliders Anonymous

Anyone can backslide. No one usually plans on doing it. But it starts with making little compromises that lead to big compromises. And next thing you know, you are not in a place you should be. You are headed the wrong direction. The Bible even tells us one of the signs of the end times is that some will depart from the faith (see 1 Timothy 4:1). It could happen to any believer if precautions are not taken.

I would even suggest there are people who are backslidden and not even aware of it because they don't understand what the term "backslide" means. It is a biblical term. In Jeremiah 3:22, God says, "Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." And Jeremiah 2:19 says, "Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you."

If you are thinking, well, I don't really know that I have actually backslidden, then here is something to think about: The Christian life is one of progression. It is one of growth. And it is one of constant change and betterment. Either you are moving forward as a believer, or you are moving backward. Either you are gaining ground, or you are losing ground.

I like to think of the Christian life as a climb. If you are climbing up a steep hill in your car and you stop, your tendency is to roll back, maybe even just a little bit. You know, like putting your car in park and it rolls back until it engages. But you know as well as I do that you can't just park on a steep hill. Many times you must use the emergency brake to stop the backsliding, and if you let off the brake, you'll continue the backward trend. It is best to keep moving ahead in forward motion. Just the act of stopping your progression begins to move you backward.

My fear is that this is what's happened to many Christians today. They decided to stop and not go any further. Now they are backsliding and are trying to ignore it. It's hard to ignore when you see them though! I like to make fun of people as they age sometimes. I think that everyone can look at their parents and see this. When it comes to fashion, it's like a progression. Styles change and people change with them. But is seems like as you age you are more resistent to change. Some people were riding the fashion train and they decided, I'm getting off right here and not going any further. It's funny in clothing but sad in Christianity. I believe that there are many today that decided that they are not going any further because they are comfortable where they are. And now...they are in backslide mode.

My question today is, are you moving forward? If you are not, then you are potentially backsliding. And if you are not where you once were, then you are slipping away down the hill. That is why we need to take practical precautions, because anyone can fall away. Anyone can depart from the faith. It doesn't matter how long someone has been a Christian. It doesn't matter how much of the Bible they have memorized. It doesn't matter if God has used them in ministry. Anyone could fall away. And the moment we begin to doubt that is the very moment we are taking a step toward it.

"Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you," says the Lord God of hosts."
— Jeremiah 2:19

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stir It Up

Yesterday I taught on the Holy Spirit. I'm in a series called "Uncensored Truth" where we are looking at truths about the core of Christianity. Who is God? Who is Jesus? Is Jesus really the only way to heaven? Is God's grace enough? Who is the Holy Spirit? What about angels & demons? And so the list goes on etc.

I was personally blessed by the responses yesterday. It seems that the visual illustration with the milk really brought it home for many people. My goal is always to stir it up in people on Sunday's so that it provokes thinking and changing at home all week.

I used an illustration with milk, actually borrowed it from our children's lady. It really helped some people to understand what God's Spirit wants to do in their lives. The Holy Spirit is called the guide, the counselor, the helper, the aid. Most people want that in their lives, but they don't allow the Spirit's prompting and leading in their hearts.

One of the scriptures that I tackled in my teaching yesterday was Ephesians 5:18 which said, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." Many people associate erratic behaviors with the Holy Spirit. They site this verse and sometimes reference to "being drunk in the Spirit" or "slain in the Spirit". Weird behavior is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. What Paul meant here is that just as you act differently when you are under the influence of alcohol, so you too should act differently when you are filled with God's Spirit. Perhaps you've seen people who get really bold when their drunk on wine and they do things that they normally wouldn't do. Paul is saying that if we allow ourselves to be "under the influence" of the Spirit of God, not wine, that the Spirit will also give us boldness and help us to do things that we would not normally do.

As we tackle thoughts of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives, Paul also gives us a list of what the "fruit" of being "under the influence" of the Spirit is like. Galatians 5:22-23 states that fruits (evidences) of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the eveidences of a life that allows the Holy Spirit to work. Is there evidence of the Holy Spirit being at work in your life?

Be blessed by study of God's Word and be a blessing to others by sharing your faith this week!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Have We Done To Our Kids?

My wife is at church camp this week with my oldest daughter. The 3rd & 4th graders on the trip have been an eye opener to my wife. She has been challenged by what she's experiencing. I have several stories that I could share, but let me tell you just one.

As they are arriving at camp, Amy is trying to be friendly and get to know some of the girls that she doesn't know very and make sure they feel secure and welcome. In the course of conversation, she encountered a little girl who stated that she lives with another family member. Amy asked about mom and dad and the little girl said that her mom was in drug court and when she got out of trouble that she was going to fight for custody of her. What struck Amy is how just matter-of-fact this 8 year old was about her situation. Dad is uninvolved. Wow...what are we doing to our kids?

I believe sincerely that normalizing sin is one of the devil's greatest tools in the war for our hearts. If he can convince the next generation that divorce, drugs, sex, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, adultery, etc. is normal, then the next generation will walk right down these paths. Their childhood memories are of courts & custody battles, drugs and rehab centers, mom or dad having "sleepovers" with the opposite sex, (or the same sex today!) just watching adults behave badly. It breaks my heart and my wife's heart that kids are all too often having to deal with the consequences of their parents behaving badly. What are we doing to our kids?!

The world needs the Savior now more than anytime before. We need to pray for this generation of kids. Pray that this generation of parents too. I'm reminded of this scripture: 1 Chronicles 7:14 "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." We need that!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Plantar Fascia Partial Rupture

Sounds interesting, right? Well, not when you are suffering with it. It appears that at the Wednesday night church softball league game I hit a base just right when rounding 3rd and partial ruptured (tore) some of the ligament. The plantar fascia or arch ligament is a band that runs from under the heel to the front of the foot. A strain or rupture to this is quite common. A plantar fascia strain might result from one single traumatic incident or may gradually occur over a period of time. In my case I hurt it just barely a week ago and doc thinks that I just went all the way this time.

I suffered through the night last night and did not sleep well at all. Got up this morning and went to the doctor's. When I finally got to see the doctor (why are they always so slow?!), he asked me all of my symptoms, etc. I told him that I had looked it up online and that my own diagnosis I thought I had a plantar fascia strain or rupture. I could tell he was impressed and he examined the foot and pressed on a few places. Then he hit the place where the pain is so intense that I nearly kicked him in the chin. After the exam and some advice and a prescription, he said, "Your diagnosis was correct." That was pretty cool. Thank God for the information superhighway!

I'm on some good medication now called Lortab. It's good stuff. Reminds me of some of the pain medication that I got when I broke my femur when I was a kid. Kind of seems like it just makes you feel good and warm all over and makes you act like you don't care about much of anything. I was talking to a friend about it tonight and he described how addicts struggle in terms that I had never really thought before. Alcohol, drug use, huffing, etc. just numb the pain of life for a while. It feels good and is an escape from the moment. The problem is that you live for the next time you can feel that way. Addicts wake up the next morning and their problems and pain are right there again. So they go and seek another hit of something to numb the pain. The cycle is hard to break and in many cases deadly. That's why the doc and pharmacist make such a big deal out of these things. They can be very addictive I guess. After taking a couple, I can see why.

One of my friends from the church texted me tonight and made the comment, "Sunday's message could be pretty interesting if you are on Lortabs." Too funny. Actually the doc told me that depending on my behavior and reaction to the medication, that I may not want to take one Sunday morning before preaching. Then again, it might make a memory, right?!

In all seriousness I'm feeling a little better today. I pretty much stayed off of the foot all day until a trip to Lowe's tonight. When I got home it was hurting pretty bad. Couldn't take another pill till later. Just got to stay off of the foot as much as possible for the next several days and take it easy for a week or two. Needless to say, I can't play softball next week, but may be able to play in two. It's a bummer, but I always have to remind myself that it could be worse. Because you really could be.

We'll see what preaching on a Lortab is like this weekend!

Don't forget to celebrate freedom this weekend as we do the fireworks thing and spend time with family and friends. Freedom is so great, but is never free. What a great nation we live in. Praise God for that!