04
Mar
15

Loving The God We Can’t See

We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. — 1 John 4:19-21 (NIV)

As Christians, we are called to love.  To love God and love our neighbor and even love our enemies.  In the church, we are called to love one another.  Jesus said in John 13:34-35 (NIV), “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  It is our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ that sets us apart from a world of hatred.

Everywhere we look, we see hatred and rejection.  We see it along political lines.  We see it along religious lines.  We see it along idealogical lines.  We see it along family lines as spouses fight and siblings fight and parents fight with their children.  There is so much hatred and fighting in our world and no one wants to love anyone anymore.  We all crave love and it is in such short supply.  That’s where Christ’s church comes in.

We are to be the love supply for our world.  To bring peace between God and humanity by proclaiming love demonstrated on a cross.  To bring love to those who need it by unconditionally welcoming and accepting those who need to be touched by God’s grace.  My prayer is that Christians in America will be stereotyped, not as hypocritical and judgmental, but as the most outrageously loving people on the planet!  Gossip and backstabbing will be no more!  Rejection and hatred will be done away with!  Forgiveness, mercy and grace will rule the day!

To paraphrase John’s words in the passage above, how can we say that we love God if we don’t love His people?  We’ve never seen God yet we claim to love Him.  We see each other all the time, but unconditional love for one another is not in us!  It doesn’t make sense!  Let us demonstrate our love for God today by loving, forgiving and accepting one another in Jesus’ name.

03
Mar
15

The Circle of Life

If you remember the 1994 Disney movie, The Lion King, you probably remember its theme song, “The Circle of Life.”  In the movie, there is a quote from king Mufasa to his son, Simba.  They’re talking about this circle of life and how the lions eat antelopes.  Mufasa tells Simba that the lions eat the antelopes and when the lions die, they become the grass and the antelopes eat the grass and so they are all connected in the great circle of life.  Sounds like a pretty dim view of life’s purpose, if you ask me.
That’s what Solomon was writing about in Ecclesiastes.  He says that “everything is meaningless” (vs 2).  In fact, he uses the word “meaningless” four times in verse 2 alone.  As I read through Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, it seems like Solomon was having a crisis of purpose.  He was asking the big questions of life that we all ask at some point in our lives.  Why am I here?  What am I supposed to be doing with my life?  What did God put me here for?  Why was I created?  Is this all there is?  Isn’t there anything more to life than working for 40 years, retiring and then trying to hang on until I become food for antelopes?
That’s what the book of Ecclesiastes is all about.  It is about a king’s search for meaning and purpose.  He points to nature in verses 4-7 to show that life goes on each and every day and nothing stops the sun from shining, the wind from blowing or the streams from flowing.  The earth keeps spinning each and every day regardless of you and me.  The earth is not worried about our purposes and vain pursuits.  Solomon points to history in verses 8-11 to teach us that everything that is has been before because “there is nothing new under the sun” (vs. 9).  You can strive and struggle and work and toil to make a name for yourself, but when you’re history, no one will remember you.  Try putting verse 11 on a Hallmark card:

No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.​ – Ecclesiastes 1:11 (NIV)​

As we study Ecclesiastes together, we’ll get a pretty bleak picture of life until the very end.  That’s when Solomon comes to the conclusion that life is not about worthless and vain pursuits and he shares with us the secret of life.  Here’s a hint, it’s not about us.
Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (NIV)

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

02
Mar
15

Letting Go

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.

02
Mar
15

Starstruck

Who is your hero?  Who inspires you?  Who would you like to meet in person?  If you could meet one person from the past or present, who would it be?  If you could sit down with them for 30 minutes and pick their brain, what would you say?  What would you do if you suddenly ran into your hero at the airport or at the grocery store?  How would you respond if you met that one famous person that you admire more than any other?   If you bumped into that actress or actor or musician or author that inspires you, how would you act?  What would you say?  Would you be able to say anything?  Would you get nervous with sweaty palms and develop a stuttering problem?  Would you be confident and say something witty and memorable?  Would you faint like the teenage girls in those old videos of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show?

I would like to meet Bono from the band U2.  I love their music and I love his desire to help people.  I love the fact that he openly talks about his faith and writes songs like “Yahweh” and “Grace” and “Gloria” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”  I don’t know what I would say.  I don’t know how I would act if we bumped into each other.  I just know that I would like to meet him face to face.

I would like to meet Max Lucado.  He’s one of my preaching heroes.  I love the way he preaches and writes.  I would love to ask him how he does it.  One of the most inspiring books I have ever read is “He Still Moves Stones”.  It changed my life and the way I think about Jesus.  I began to better understand God’s grace and love when I finished that book.  It is one of the few books I recommend to people when they ask me what they should read.

I would like to meet Brett Favre.  First, I want to thank him for all of the memories I have of him winning games for the Packers.  I also want to scream at him for going to the Vikings!  But maybe I’ll do that upon our 2nd meeting.  I would tell him that I really admired the way he played the game of football.  I would thank him for the Super Bowl season back in 1996.  It’s one of my favorite memories.

I am going to meet Jesus.  I don’t know how I’ll respond.  I don’t know what I will say.  I just know that I am going to meet Him one day.  It’s not because of any great things I have done.  It’s not because I preached a bunch of really great sermons or anything like that.  It’s not because I’m so special and wonderful.  It’s because of God’s awesome love and grace that He poured out on me.  It’s that free gift of love that Jesus gave to me on the cross when He died for my sins.  I don’t deserve it.  I can’t earn it.  I can’t buy it.  I can’t be good enough for it.  I can only accept it by faith.  I think that the first thing I will try to get out of my mouth is the word, “Thanks.”  After that, I will have trillions of years to express my love and gratitude to the One who gave His life for me.

27
Feb
15

Take Heart

Life is hard, you know?  Jesus knew this and He told His disciples that it was true:

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

​ – John 16:33 (NLT)​
Some trials and sorrows are small and some are great.  Sometimes we lose our keys, which is a small trouble.  Sometimes we lose our minds, which is a huge trial.  We have little frustrations, such as forgetting our wallet at home when we go to the store.  We have major disappointments, such as when a child is rebellious and is addicted to drugs.  We have colds and even the flu, which are no fun, but are relatively minor illnesses.  We have diseases and disabilities that wreak havoc on our bodies and cost us dearly.  We lose jobs and we wonder how we’ll make ends meet.  We lose people whom we love and we wonder how we’ll go on without them.  Take heart, dear friends.  These troubles, trials and tests of life are merely temporary.  Jesus has overcome the world!  He has made so many promises and perhaps His greatest promise is that those who trust in Him will overcome as well.
26
Feb
15

I Stand Alone On The Word of God

Here at the very end of 1 Timothy, Paul gives one last command to the young preacher.  He says, in verse 20 (NIV) to:

…guard what has been entrusted to your care.

The Word of God is something with which we have been entrusted.  We must guard it carefully.  We need to stand up for it when opposing ideas rise up against it.  We should interpret it cautiously and do our very best to treat it as the very words of God that were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Can we trust the Bible?  Absolutely!  Part of our faith is that we believe that Spirit-filled men were inspired to write God’s Word in human language in order that we might know God’s will and how to live a life that pleases Him.  The Bible is the Spirit’s sword (Ephesians 6:17) that overcomes and defeats our true enemy.  Jesus, when tempted by the evil one, combated the devil with God’s Word.  The Bible is not a weapon against other human beings, but rather the Spirit’s weapon against Satan.  For human beings, the Bible is a love letter sent from Heaven that tells us how to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  We must guard it carefully as a bride would guard love letters sent from the front lines from her beloved.  We should cherish God’s Word.  We should read God’s Word.  We need to take it to heart and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles.
As a child in Sunday School, I would sing, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.  I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!”  This is as true today as it was then and as it shall be until Christ returns.
1 Timothy 6:20-21 (NIV)

20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

Grace be with you all.

25
Feb
15

True Riches

Earlier in 1 Timothy 6, Paul told the young preacher that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (verse 10).  As Paul concludes this letter to Timothy, he gives one more exhortation regarding those who are wealthy.  He tells them not to put their hope in their money because it is fleeting.  Can’t we all relate to that?  So many of us live paycheck to paycheck.  We literally depend on God for our daily bread.  Those who have been a little more blessed or have invested wisely still face uncertainty based on the fluctuation of markets and interest rates.  How many of us can say with complete confidence that we’re financially secure no matter what happens?  If you were laid off from your job or falsely accused of something and lost your job, how long could you survive?  We shouldn’t put our hope in wealth.
For those who are wealthier, Paul says that they should be “generous and willing to share” (verse 18).  This runs counter to our sinful nature.  Many of us are like little children.  We grasp onto our money and scream, “MINE!”  The wealthy may look down upon those who are poorer and say, “It’s your own fault that you’re in the situation you’re in.  You didn’t plan well enough” or “You didn’t pursue enough education” or “You’re just lazy.”  Though these may be true in some instances, Paul doesn’t say, “Be generous and willing to share with those who deserve it.”  I know hard working, well-educated people who, through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times.  It is not up to the wealthy to judge their brothers and sisters in Christ in order to determine whether or not they deserve their help.  It is up to wealthier Christians to use the blessings God has given them to do good deeds and share with those in need.  In doing this, they will store up treasures in heaven and those treasures never fade away.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.



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