This is my 500th post! Woohoo! I have not posted since May 1. Here is why. I took some time off from everything but my wife and family. It was a great time but life does not exist in “off”. One of the things that I needed to find out while I was out was prompted by a question Francis Chan poses in Multiply.
When you pick up the Bible and begin to read it, what is motivating you? Are you driven by guilt? Do you have a desire to know God more fully? Are you looking for arguments against other perspectives? Are you looking for material for a Bible study or sermon?
I have the responsibility and privilege to teach several times a week so this question pricked my heart. Why? Why do I study the Bible? Is it to just get material to preach and teach on. Is it always for someone else? So, in my time away I watched this. Here is what I found.
I love God and His Word. It was so refreshing to read and study with nothing to prepare. It was good to know that God was speaking into my spirit and my situations. I read God’s Word and He refreshed me. He gave me great days with my wife. So, I will spend some time posting to the blog again and I hope you missed me.
Kids ask questions. Sometimes they ask so many questions it gets on your nerves. Growing up we all were told that there were no stupid questions. It did not take long to learn that was not true, though it sounds good in theory. We were also taught to ask questions as we read an article, magazine, book or paper. Those questions are Who? What? When? Where? and Why?. This list might have changed in the last 30 years but it still remains pretty solid. As I turned 50, I realize the continued importance of asking “Why?”
Why? Why was I born? Why do people act like they do? Why do I act like I do? Why should I change? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why?
WHY? WHY? WHY?!
The answer to why sometimes begins with “so that”. I thought about “Why?” and the Bible. Why should we do what it says? In the New Testament alone “so that’ occurs 251 times. You want to know WHY you should live by biblical precepts, principles and truths? Let the Bible speak for itself. Start looking for the “so that” as you ask why and you might just get your answer.
WHY ASK “WHY”? “SO THAT” you get your answer after the “SO THAT”.
If you want people, you will have poop. If you don’t want poop, you have no people.
Let’s go to the farm. Okay, you see that barn way over there? Go over there and open the door. What does it smell like? If it smells like poop, there are animals in the stalls. If it smells clean, there are no animals in the stalls. The animals are what gets the work done. The mule pulls the plow. The horses are ways of transportation. They also poop in the stall. I don’t think anyone likes the smell of a barn full of animals and poop. So if you want to get the smell out, you have got to get the poop out. If you want to get the poop out you have to get rid of the animals.
So, here is our lesson. People are messy but it is people that get things done. Solomon put it like this.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
Proverb 14:4 (ESV)
Winter time, putting on my coat and rabbits taught me much about how systems work as a child. My wonderful mother would be helping me, as her baby boy, put on my coat before going out into the cold. As I would raise my arm to put it in the sleeve, she would say, ” Hold your rabbit!”. If I did not hold my rabbit, it would run up my arm every time. Translation? If you don’t hold the cuff of your shirt sleeve, you sleeve runs up you arm. A simple lesson on how systems work. You probably hold your rabbit without even knowing it.
How this helps me today?
When life gets tough and I’m trying to make it through safely, I must hold onto what I believe or things will get out of place.
If I don’t hold onto the truth that Jesus Is A Big Deal, He shrinks in my life practice and things get out of order.
If I don’t hold to the truths of Scripture, the rabbits (things that tend to run where they don’t belong) of my life run, so I must hold on to them so my life don’t get screwed up.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)
There is one place I go when I need to find peace. It’s a place where I can get my mind off the matters of this world. It’s a place I can go where where I can focus, learn and grow. It is a place that puts peace back into my soul. It is a place where everything seem right. It is a place where I can look deep into life and come away satisfied. It is a place I don’t totally understand but I understand it enough to know I need to go there often. It is a place where all opinions are irrelevant. It is a place that undoes me then puts me back together. It is a place that hurts me in order to heal me. It is a place that reminds me I am not God and who is God. It is a place that takes away fear. It is a place I should go to more often but find myself walking past it too often. Do you have such a place? Everyone needs to find this place! I think if you go there you will find what I have found. Read more…
The line, “Houston, we have a problem!” Will forever be remember.
Swigert and then Lovell (almost) used the phrase to report a major technical fault in the electrical system of one of the Service Module’s oxygen tanks:
Swigert: ‘Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.’
Houston: ‘This is Houston. Say again please.’
Lovell: ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a main B bus undervolt.’1
Dan: “Okay, Church, we have a problem here.”
Church: “This is Church, Say again please.”
Dan: “Church, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a mistaken identity”
The election is over and some are excited Obama won and others are worried because Obama won. The problems that address us this morning are not political in nature but have been brought to light through the political process. Twenty-percent of American now professes no religious affiliation. Christians are divided over social issues. Many Republican Christians say you can’t be Democrat and Christian. Democrat Christians say Republican Christians are insensitive toward the hurting in America. Democrats are intolerant of Republicans and Republicans are intolerant of Democrats. No one can really doubt that American has some major issues that must be addressed. The economy is bad, unemployment is up, abortion is still rampant, teen sex, pregnancy, and suicide are up, injustice happens, our country is divided and hurting. Here is the problem that must be addressed. This is where you and I can help by addressing the problem before us.
The church can no longer blame the politicians for not doing their job. The church can no longer think that going to church is your mandate. Republicans nor Democrats have the answers for the woes of America or the church. The church does have the answer, but she usually cowers instead of rises. She sleeps instead of fights. She is passive instead of progressive. She is silent, divided and weak. She is struggling, hurting and confused. The church is scared. The church has a mistaken identity.
We have a major problem. It appears the Church has amnesia, she does not know her identity. The Church must realize who she is and whose she is. She must realize the source of her strength, the bounty of her beauty, the power in her passion, the healing in her hands, the forwardness of her feet. She must realize the salvation in her Savior. She must realize the wisdom in her head – Christ Jesus, Lord of Lord and King of Kings. She, the Church, is the Body of Christ. She is radiant and does not reveal it. She has beauty beyond measure but hides it behind hate, blame and excuses.
The church needs to rise to the challenges that face us. We need to step out of our pew on Sunday and into our places on Monday with Christ centered passion in our heart. We need wake from our sleep and fight the good fight. We must obey with radical obedience what Christ called us to be, what the Word instructs us to do, and how the Spirit reminds us to walk. We must die to self and rise with Christ.
Obama is not our enemy nor our savior. Also, Romney is not the enemy or the savior. Our deliverer will be Jesus Christ the Son of God and no other. We must quit looking to men to solve the issues in our lives and turn our eyes upon Jesus (a song just broke out in my head, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).
The church might look like young David, but she is deadly accurate when she is prepared for battle. Let us fight the good fight of the faith (not politics). Let us not grow weary in doing good. Let us unite. Let us awake. Let us stand and pursue our enemy. Let us put on our armor and not withdraw. We cannot afford to be casual, careless, or calloused. We must demonstrate our strength, passion, beauty, resolve, faithfulness, and more in the pursuit of godliness and live in the righteousness that is ours in Christ.
Satan is our enemy so quit blaming it on men, political parties, and people who you disagree with.
Do you part. Be who you are suppose to be. Do what you are suppose to do. Obey as Christ is your Master. There are not excuses for dirty boots and wrinkled uniforms. Quit letting Satan mislead you with lies, weakening you through suffering, confusing you through pride and discouraging you through accusation.
You have the Word of God, The Grace of God, The Spirit of God and The Son of God, so live like it.
I am troubled somewhat at how many people either do not believe God speaks today or they don’t hear God speak. This week I posted God Never Wonders About You in which I reflect on a time God spoke to me this week. I had a friend tell me about someone who said that if someone told them they heard God speak then he would call them a liar. I’m not sure you can even be Christian if you cannot hear God speak. Some may be talking about an audible voice and I have not heard God’s audible voice but He has spoken to me in many other ways. He has spoken to me through His Word. He has spoken to me through His Spirit. He has spoken to me through His Son. He has spoken to me through His church. He has spoken to me through circumstances. He has spoken to me through prayer. God has spoken to me through sunsets and sun rises. He has spoken to me through friends. He has spoken to me through family. God speaks.
I prepare sermons and lessons every week. I believe God has spoken through me (I know that is hard for some of you to believe). Just because it is not audible does not mean God does not speak. For the critic. Is sign language speaking. What about braille?
What about these verses?
Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:47, ESV)
In order to hear God, God has to speak.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
(John 16:13, ESV)
To whom or why is the Holy Spirit speaking if we cannot hear Him?
However, let me throw this in. I do not know of anywhere in the Bible that says God quits speaking, so if He wants to wake me in the morning with His audible voice. I welcome it.
Some things are so rich that you just have to slow down and enjoy them. A good steak, an eloquent dessert, a sunrise or sunset, the smile on a child’s face, the flow of water down a brook, the stars in the sky and more give us times of richness. Today, I have been reminded of the richness of God’s Word. As a group of men have been studying Colossians each Thursday morning at 6, we have again been reminded of the richness of God’s Word. How it feeds you, encourages you, challenges you, convicts you, deepens you, instructs you, rebukes you, teaches you, loves you, establishes you, builds you up and more are the lessons we learn. The roots of my spiritual life grow as I study God’s Word. The tap root goes deep as I memorize God’s Word. The firmness of my faith is strengthened by God’s Word.
If you are not in study of God’s Word, you are becoming weaker by the minute. If you don’t have time for God’s Word, your time really does not matter. If you think you do not need God’s Word, you are a fool.
When I am in God’s Word, I am able to fill up in Christ; thus, leaving no room for self. It is when I am away from God’s Word that self begins to grow and push Christ to the sidelines of my life.
Go get your Bible and get to know it and you will also get to know Christ.
Got to share a little more about God never wonders about you. I was never a great football player but I remember the power of the head fake. I remember watching Alabama play Ole Miss last year when Trent Richardson nearly broke a defender, Senquez Golson’s ankles with the head fake.You gotta watch this.
Have you ever pretended to pray? Pretended to read your Bible? Pretended to care? Pretended to love? Pretended to give? Was your effort to fool yourself? What it to fool others? Was it to fool God?
You can never fool God! He knows you! He will not take your fake. So, let us all quit faking it. You cannot break God’s ankles.
He has a word for when we fake it.
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
(Mark 7:6, ESV)