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Material Illness

Were you thinking Mental Illness? That’s not a typo in the title. I have a few stories to tell today, and they just might open your eyes to a better life.

When I was a kid I desired attention, maybe you did too? I loved it when my parents would play with me, or take the time to encourage me at sports or art or Cub Scouts. It meant a lot. You too may have fond memories.1003-best-buddies-forever

If you were lucky enough to go on vacations as a young person, then I bet you’ve tried to recreate these experiences later in life, maybe with your own family. Maybe you yearn for some of these experiences that you remember.

In my adult years I seem to watch a lot of TV. Over the years I’ve seen my fair share of daytime shows like Dr. Phil where a family is in turmoil, or a child is disturbed. I’ve seen this show play out in lives surrounding my own and I bet you have too. Maybe we all just need a vacation, eh?

Let me tell you what I really see. I see relationships. I see good examples and bad examples, but in the end it’s the relationships that matter. Dr. Phil points out what needs to change…the kid cries and opens up…the parents are shocked to realize the solution wasn’t so difficult. What do we take from these “happy” outcomes?

Here’s the rub. The big issue. Too many of us have never come to the point of realizing there is a problem, but if we look in the mirror, if we strain our eyes just a little bit, I think we’ll see it.

In a country where we seemingly “have it all”, we have so little. What?! What are you talking about?! It’s quite simple. What do you remember from your childhood, from school, from your life? What do you really long for? I bet if you are honest with yourself you will bring to mind relationships. Who was your best buddy growing up? What adventures did you have? Any friends in school or college that you formed lasting memories with over the years? How about family engagements? Games nights? Good conversation? Going to lunch with co-workers and learning about their lives? These are the memories that most of us recall and cherish. This fact is why we have a problem.

The problem is that too many of us have changed. We have somehow decided that buying stuff is where the memories are at now. We buy a new car, then after a year it’s not good enough. We collect stuff and can never have enough. We buy stuff and NEVER open it, now that’s crazy. Let’s think about this. I remember some of my toys and stuff from my childhood, it was fun. But it was TRULY the relationships that I yearn to remember and have again AND have in abundance.

Dr. Phil points out how there are relationship problems at the core of many of his shows. It’s never about not having the right stuff! It’s never about how you should have been buying this or that; it’s that you shouldn’t have been focused on the wrong things. You should have been focused on the relationships.

You know this also applies to your faith. Your “relationship” with Jesus is key! Why would it be any different? If church is a building and you go to “get” something, then it’s not a relationship, it’s a thing; it’s stuff. Salvation is not something to buy, it’s a gift and gifts come from a relationship. If you don’t “know” Jesus, then maybe you haven’t been looking for a relationship with him. Make sense?

Remember the fact that you have some pretty good memories from good relationships in your past and present. Seek to build on these or start new ones. Memories are gifts. Cherish them, build on them and get over your material illness!

One Sin

 must admit, at times I feel that it seems harsh that one lie would keep me out of heaven.  It’s true, but at the same time, hard to swallow at times.  So, like I usually try and do, I went to my trusty bible to try and make even more sense of this truth I have known for many years.  AND… I got my answer.

I’ve read the book of Romans a ton of times, but WOW, these verses in Chapter 5 hit home and really made this whole sin issue make a lot more sense.  If we read Romans 5:16-19, we see several references to the “one sin”.   This being the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Adam was right there with Eve, but allowed the “one sin” to occur when they ate from the tree God told them not to eat of.  Paul wrote clearly about this history as recorded in Genesis.  Paul is also clear that this “one sin” is why we all have a problem with disobedience, lying, stealing, lusting, hating, sin, sin, sin.

So, to clear up my original confusion in paragraph one, I came to the realization (again) that God is completely Holy, Perfect and Sinless.  To God, having sin around is kind of like throwing hot oil into water.   BOOM!  THEY CANNOT MIX.  So, no matter how I may perceive sin, or how bad “one lie” really is, God sees it ALL as hot oil that can be thown into that pan of water.  No amount of it is good, or okay, or just a white lie.  It is ALL worthy of hell.  Can you imagine trying to coax the water into not reacting to the hot oil being spilled into the pan?  This is the same as imagining God dealing with sin, any amount of it.

So, to sum up, “one sin” will keep you out of heaven just like water will explode with even a drop of hot oil.  That’s why we need a Savior that was meant to wash us of that sin, or in this context, remove that hot oil so the water will be pure and calm.  Pretty cool.

Blessings,

Jeff

-Original posting was June 5, 2008-

Church, Apples & Ideas

Get off your butt!  Get off your lazy butt!  What in the world are you doing?  I can hear these words being directed at me and at you.  I won’t sit by idly and ignore the prompting to call both you and me out.  What elegant pew sitters we have become!  Oh, the ways we justify our actions!

I give money to the church.  I know they are doing good things with it.  Therefore, I am off the hook!  … I worked in the church for ten years and now I am resting.  I did my part! … There is nothing for me to do!  Every ministry at my church is fully staffed! … WRONG!  ALL WRONG!

Let’s put it this way…show me in the Bible all the verses that support your thinking.  I’m waiting.  Still waiting.  I’ll be waiting a very long time.  We are to GO!  We are to DO!  We are to BE!

GO and make disciples of all nations

DO good deeds and works in the name of Jesus Christ

BE the Church

The Church is NOT a building.  The Church is a body of believers…THE body of believers.  The Church is NOT lazy, NOT full of excuses, NOT done working, NOT in need of rest & certainly NOT doing things solo.

There’s a great parable Jesus introduces about a tree that bears fruit.  The tree reflects our life.  Read DEEPLY my next statements.  SOAK them in.

Your life is like that sapling, that sprout, that new seed just starting to grow.  At first, there is NO fruit.  Heck, it couldn’t bear any fruit at such a young age, at such an immature time in your life!  God has prepared you to hold bushels of fruit!  As you have grown in your faith why do you only bear a few choice pieces of “available” fruit?  I say available because you ARE holding fruit…lots of it.  It’s just not appealing at all.  It’s rotten, worm infested or inscribed with your own initials.  Yes, much of your fruit is only available to yourself.  Are you following me?  You are selfish.  My fruit looks much the same.  Why?

We have this wonderful opportunity.  We have many branches of life.  We can reach out to many, many people.  Why do you quit on God?  Why do you even suggest that you CAN’T do it?  You can’t hold more apples?  Oh, so you feel you need to get rid of some choice fruit in order to bear more, huh?  So, you are saying that you have stopped growing?!?  How sad!  God tosses those wilted, unproductive branches into the fire.

Do you still have excuses?  Can I still sit back and watch hours of TV and then say I don’t have time to work for God?  Pitiful.  Truly pitiful.  My God is much bigger than my excuses, than my failures, than my own ideas.

I want my mind to be that of Christ.  I want my ideas to be godly.  You should want this too.  What is stopping you?  Put the DS down, the video game system in the trash, the romance novels, the TV shows, the innumerable kids activities, the “personal, selfish things that don’t matter, materialistic ways of this world” aside!  Yes, read that again, it’s a long sentence.

Here’s my idea…figuratively blow up the church so that The Church will be thrown out into the world where it’s supposed to be.  Prune that tree you call life and let it produce some fruit worthy of picking.  Bear some fruit that a lost person may want to pick.  Make God’s ideas, your ideas.  I think that’s a good place for me to start.  Are you in?

Acknowledgements:

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Inside Out

I must say that church sermons can point out the obvious, but often it needs pointed out because we are simply stupid.  No offense to you smart people out there.  :)

Inside or Outside? That’s the question today.  As a body of believers we must be aware & cognizant of just what in the world we are doing.  The Body of Christ is the people.  The Body of Christ is action, such that “when we did it for the least of these [the poor] we were doing it for Jesus”.  The people and the Christian action associated with this Body of Believers has dangerously switched to become the church building and what the staff and building can do for the members.  Does this sound like your church?

We have switched from working for God outside the church to building a church and letting the inside of the church try to do the work of God.  We have become of Body that tries to attract members through a building and church activities.  We sit inside the church and wait for people to come to us.  Do you see the problem?  Yep, this action is anti-biblical, completely.

Which ones don’t belong?

A.) Go and make disciples of all nations….

B.) They went out in pairs proclaiming the Gospel…

C.) Sit and wait for them to come and play in the basketball league…

D.) When you clothed, when you fed, when you healed…

E.) When you sat at home and decided if you would go to church or not…

Funny huh?  Not really.

Outside the church.  That’s where it’s at!  Remember that “little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine?”  Or how about those action verbs above?  Go, proclaim, clothe, feed, heal… these words are commands and are not up for debate.  We are not to be “sit in a bubble of safety” Christians.  If you think that, then why would Jesus so pointedly tell us to, “don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough problems of its own?” or “don’t worry about anything…”  Why would Jesus say, “Away from me Satan” to Peter of all people!  Peter thought Jesus should play it safe…. [hint, hint].

No, we are to be a Church, a body of Believers that is present, visible and more importantly OUTSIDE the church building.  People will come to a building to check it out then leave.  But…people will worship at a church if they follow active Believers to the building because of the powerful mission they so obviously are a part of always.

Get out, don’t stay in!

Coincidences 2

I think I’ll start tallying coincidences using the numbers after the title.

Here goes:coincidence

Thursday night my wife and I catch the last half of 13 going on 30….a cute movie with Jennifer Gardner.  In the flick there is a scene where they all go nuts dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  I just love that scene for some reason.  The next night we go to my niece and nephew’s dance recital and the “stage dad’s” perform Thriller on stage doing that cool and feaky dance…

Several month’s ago I ran into an old high school acquaintance at the gym.  Today, I’m working a kiosk at church and walk up to the counter and this same friend is standing there working the adjacent kiosk.  We’ve been at the same church over a year and a half and didn’t know it.  It’s a fairly big church, but such a small world.

Those Pesky Weeds

weedsI’ve used weed killer, inhibitor, fertilizer, pulled them by hand, sprayed them by hand, broadcast sprayed the yard, but weeds are too smart for me.  They spread under the ground, via the wind, can grow from a minuscule root remnant, drop a seed as they die, THEY were meant to stay.

I came across a parable that I often miss since it comes right after a more well known parable about ‘four soils’.  The parable of the weeds, yes, sounds like a horror movie, I know.  Well, maybe if you live in Arizona, you fear the rock mildew or something, but here in Indiana, weeds thrive.

wheatJesus reminds me that weeds are here to stay, but that he will separate them out at harvest time.  It’s a simple parable in Matthew 13:24-30, it tells of the weeds (lies, evil, non-believers) getting spread by an enemy (Satan) among the fields of wheat.  It’s made clear that if the weeds are pulled, the wheat will get pulled out with them, as their roots are intertwined.  Evil will be with us until judgement time.  It’s at this time that God will seperate the weeds from the wheat.  The weeds get burned (hell) and the wheat gets stored in the barn (God’s house/heaven).

Do you ever wonder why there is evil in the world?  If so, first read through Genesis, this explains the origin of this evil and fallen world.  Then, realize that evil is here to stay until that time that God returns.  Jesus repeats this assumption several times.

Blessings.

Christian “Secrets”!

12-daysThe 12 Days of Christmas was one of the first songs I learned as child, but I didn’t learn it for the same reasons that it was originally written.  I came upon this bit of history several years ago, but thought I would share it now.

[This is disputed as I learned from a nice comment below – Thanks!!  Either way, I like how whoever created this explanation put it together regarding the meanings of the days] During the period 1558 to 1829 in England, Christians were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829, hence, why we have this wonderful “encrypted” song that teaches the basics of the faith.  Enjoy!

1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them.
The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.

2nd Day: The “two turtle doves” refers to the Old and New Testaments.

3rd Day: The “three French hens” stand for faith, hope and love-the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).

4th Day: The “four calling birds” refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John-which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5th Day: The “five golden rings” represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

6th Day: The “six geese a-laying” is the six days of creation.

7th Day: The “seven swans a-swimming” refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

8th Day: The “eight maids a milking ” reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.

9th Day: The “nine ladies dancing” were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

10th Day: The “ten lords a-leaping” represents the Ten Commandments

11th Day: The “eleven pipers piping” refers to the eleven faithful apostles.

12th Day: The ‘twelve drummers drumming” were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, and the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.