Monthly Archives: April 2008

No Less Than Bizarre!!

I really respect all of the people who comment on this blog. I appreciate your input and your concerns. This avenue has offered many relationships–sometimes with people I’ve not even had the privilege to meet yet. I really enjoy those relationships.

It is because of those relationships that I have a rather interesting question to pose to you all. I hope this doesn’t cause controversy, but conversation. So, as you comment (and I hope you will) please be considerate of opinions and speak with words that lift up.

In the kingdom of Jesus, He Himself dealt with some really messy people–spiritually speaking. He chose followers who definitely had issues. He walked and talked with people from crazy backgrounds and circumstances ranging from prostitutes to adulterers to religious fanatics. There are situations that many of us deal with in ministry that would fit into the category of “No Less Than Bizarre.”

How do we deal with so much bizarre behavior in our world? I know the Bible is filled with strange situations. Situations like God telling Hosea to marry a prostitute, churches in the New Testament with people who committed incest, and even homosexuality throughout the kingdom of their day. It teaches me that our really crazy world is not unique.

I used to think that God was more on the side of us staying out of those kinds of relationships. “Don’t hang out with the sinners or you’ll be like them” we were told as youngsters. We had a pig farmer in our church where I grew up and he would always tell us, “You can’t walk through the pigs without smelling like them.” That is a truism. Yet, Jesus hung out with the worst of the worse of His day, taught them about Himself, and even called them to take His message to the uttermost parts of the world.

I guess my question to all of you is this: How do we relate to the world better? How can I walk up to a person who is so different from me and help them know my Jesus? How can we get them to see that we really care and want them in a deep relationship with Jesus?

I think that there is going to have to be some real change in the way we present ourselves to the world. I believe that we are going to have to help them see by our actions and not just words that Jesus has made a real difference in us. Love the sinner, hate the sin, and do all we can to help them get our of their mess just like Jesus IS HELPING us out of ours.


Family Reminiscence

I spent today doing something that I just don’t get to do very often.  I helped my mom and her three siblings work on the graves of several family members. There were aunts and uncles I don’t remember meeting.  There were the graves of my grandmother and granddad, great-grandparents (who I was fortunate to actually know), and all of there children, five of whom were little babies when they died.

I know it sounds really weird to say that I “got to” work in the cemeteries, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it very much.  Hanging out in cemeteries isn’t really not my idea of a great time.

Though there was some hard work, I had a great time listening to all of them talk about old times.  There were stories about childhood both good and bad.  There were memories of Christmases, birthdays, church stories, and stories of family times that I never knew about.  They talked about times that have long since been gone and times that have changed so drastically.  It really is amazing how far we’ve come in so many conveniences and technologies.  It’s also sad how that so much has changed in the way we do life.  It is a testimony to our spoiled rottenness how we have more things that should help our life be less stressful, and we have more stress.

We really don’t spend enough time to sit on the front porch (or back) and talk.  We don’t take enough time to notice the really important things about life.  So, for those reasons it was nice to take a trip back in time to days I’ll never see–days that have long since past into the hustle and bustle of life.


The Heaven’s Declare God!!

Other than the pollen count being high and my occasional sneeze, this is one of the most beautiful springs I remember. I have a tree in my front yard that has gorgeous white flowers all over it. The grass is so green. The birds are singing, and life is happening all over. Truly God is to be praised!

Zoe has a new song with a line “How can I keep from singing your praise?” What a proclamation!! When you and I see who God really is, we can’t stop praising Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and body. So, find some time today to lift your hearts, hands, and lives to the Father of glory, who is truly worthy of our worship, and praise Him from within and without.

I love the following quotes from the Psalms.

(Psalms 33:6-9 NCV) “The sky was made at the Lord’s command. By the breath from his mouth, he made all the stars. {7} He gathered the water of the sea into a heap. He made the great ocean stay in its place. {8} All the earth should worship the LORD; the whole world should fear him. {9} He spoke, and it happened. He commanded, and it appeared.”

(Psalms 148 NCV) “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the skies. Praise him high above the earth. {2} Praise him, all you angels. Praise him, all you armies of heaven. {3} Praise him, sun and moon. Praise him, all you shining stars. {4} Praise him, highest heavens and you waters above the sky. {5} Let them praise the LORD, because they were created by his command. {6} He put them in place forever and ever; he made a law that will never change. {7} Praise the LORD from the earth, you large sea animals and all the oceans, {8} lightning and hail, snow and mist, and stormy winds that obey him, {9} mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, {10} wild animals and all cattle, crawling animals and birds, {11} kings of the earth and all nations, princes and all rulers of the earth, {12} young men and women, old people and children. {13} Praise the LORD, because he alone is great. He is more wonderful than heaven and earth. {14} God has given his people a king. He should be praised by all who belong to him; he should be praised by the Israelites, the people closest to his heart. Praise the LORD!”

(Psalms 19:1-4 NCV) “The heavens tell the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. {2} Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again. {3} They have no speech or words; they have no voice to be heard. {4} But their message goes out through all the world; their words go everywhere on earth….”


Refuel

In my opinion “Refuel” is very appropriately named. It truly is a time of encouragement and recharging our engines for Christ. For those of you who haven’t heard about it, Refuel is a worship experience aimed primarily at our teens. It happens once a month at various congregations in our area–about five to be more precise.

Last night we gathered at the Shoals church in Tuscumbia. What a night!! I told Ellen while we were in the middle of singing praises led by the praise team from Crosspoint church that I couldn’t understand why I was so blessed by God to be a part of such an experience. Jeremy and the folks from Crosspoint are such a blessing. He really uses his Holy Spirit-led gift to get us into lifting our hearts, hands, voices, and lives up to the throne room of our Father. The songs carried us through a wide range of emotions. We were “Shouting Hallelujah” one minute and learning to “Be Still” and know that He is God the next. I could not hold back the tears of joy that God has saved me and covered my sins with the blood of Jesus and through His grace and mercy!! It was awesome!!

I was honored to have been asked to speak last night. It was such a joy with this group of people. I love preaching and teaching when the audience will “go with you” on the journey that God has already taken you. They were hearty “laughers” which is always fun to be a part of. Then they would think along with me and even join in on the conversation. I love when the audience will participate in the sermon time. I just felt so blessed to have been a part of it.

I am thrilled that my children are able to be a part of such a wonderful Holy Spirit experience in worship. For them to be in an environment where they are free to express themselves to God is indescribable. I love the fact that they are around young people and old alike who are willing to be expressive to our God who deserves more than just the crumbs of worship!! God is a Father who desires our hearts and not some mechanized “service.”

Oh how I wished you could have been there! Maybe, if your reading this and are in the Shoals area, you can join us in May. We are meeting this Thursday to plan for May 4th at Magnolia church. We’d love to have ya!!


Trust

Not knowing how far to go with a person is part of the frustration we have in this old world. I mean it gets difficult to help others the way we want to because of this dilemma. How far is too far? I mean Jesus was treated so many ways by people who He helped–yet He somehow kept on helping.

Are we to allow people to “run over us?” Are we to hold a person’s “feet to the fire?” How much should we expect of a man or woman who is in real need of someone to trust them, yet continues to burn them for what ever reason? This is a really hard one for me.

I want to see people improve so much sometimes that I am willing to get burned. Then I think, “Did I allow them to continue in their ignorance by not holding them to a higher standard?” I also remember times in my life where people have put up with me in my ignorance that was repeated only to have me change for the better. Thank God for those people who did hold out long enough for me to change.

Maybe you have some answers for me on this.


Statements of Wisdom From Tulsa

On Sunday morning Jason and I got up early to travel back from the Tulsa workshop–really early for us. As we were waiting on our ride, I asked Jason, “What is the most memorable statement for you this week?” He responded, “You ask me that question this early in the morning?!!” He was right really. It’s hard to think at 5:30AM. I’ve had a couple of days now to think about it and I wanted to share with you a few off the most memorable statements to me.

“When we listen to our own prayers, we find out what is important to us.”  –Randy Harris  (Speaking of how we often pray about negative things and that becomes our main focus).

“We need both mirrors and windows.”  –Don McLaughlin (Speaking of how we need to look at ourselves before we begin to look out and judge others).

“Marital fidelity reflects God’s ideal.” –Rubel Shelly (Speaking about the horrors of divorce and the joys of doing marriage God’s way).

“If you’ve been gone from the church family for months and no one calls you or misses you, it probably means you’ve not been serving.”  –Rick Atchley (Speaking about people who leave the church and then complain.  The point is, if you are serving, you probably won’t leave and if you do, people will surely notice it).

“We’ve become so biblically illiterate that we think Joan of Ark was Noah’s wife.”  –Mark Moore (That one explains itself).

“They’re going to heaven, they’re just not going to like for the first couple of weeks.”  –Patrick Mead (Speaking about legalists who focus only on the arguments and not on people).

“Am I willing to be uncomfortable in order to take the good news to our world?”  –Jeff Walling (Speaking about how we are going to have to get uncomfortable in order to change the things we need to to reach out to this post-modern age).

“We pray with our life lined up with God.  Faith is our life.  It is not just in the strength of our prayers.”  –Mark Moore (Speaking about how squinting our eyes and clinching our fists does not make our prayers stronger–a life lined up with God’s will does).

“Don’t worry about a plan that God has that we might miss.”  –Edward Fudge (Speaking about how we must trust God’s guidance and that He will never guide us into something that we can’t find in His word).

“If there is a reality that we all need to know, we will unhook ourselves from the shadow.”  –Don McLaughlin (Speaking of how in “religion” we get too focused on the things that are only the “shadow” of a “reality” that has much deeper meaning).

“God has a plan, He will work His plan and nothing will stop His plan.  We all believe this, but we don’t live like it.  If we did, we’d be the calmest people in the world.”  –Randy Harris

I hope these statements impact your life as they have mine.