Aug 2, 2016 - Uncategorized    No Comments

It’s not about ME!

imgresIt’s the same story.  They are a dime a dozen.  Everywhere you look people aren’t satisfied with their churches and they are looking for that one perfect church.  Church members that have filled the pews of their church for 40 years get a new pastor and bam…they are jumping ship.  “He’s not a great speaker!”,   “They don’t sing enough hymns”,  “They did away with Sunday School”,  “No one dresses up here anymore” , “They are getting rid of the organ from 1912″, and the excuses go on as if the waiter did not bring the right meal.

If it’s too personal I apologize.  I am not thinking of a specific church.  These are the excuses I have heard from people leaving their churches over the years. I have to say it’s a shame!

There is a common thread that runs through each heart of those who have spoken or who are currently speaking these phrases.  The common thread……”ME!”  These complaints aren’t rooted in the centrality of the gospel.  They are rooted in me & my preferences.  I prefer Sunday School, or I prefer hymns, or I like dressing up, or I love that organ.  When has church ever become about me and what I want?

So what do we do?  What do we need? Is there a cure?  Well, actually there is but sadly enough people won’t take me up on this prescription for healthy church relationships.  Why? Because it is the hardest thing to do in the world although we are told to do it daily.

Paul says it this way;

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

“20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ”

Maybe that’s how Paul lived but Jesus never said I was to deny my desires, opinions, and preferences…or did He? Decide for yourself.

Luke 9:23 (ESV)
23 And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Ok I guess He did.  He said if I am going to be following Him I must deny myself.  That is not just bad sins my friend.  That is giving preference for others as well.  It’s realizing that methods change through the years.  Culture changes. Things change.  One thing that should not change is the fact that we are called to deny ourselves.

One of the biggest sins in the church (which I will blog about soon) is the fact that confession has been tossed out as just a personal thing and pride keeps the body of Christ at arms length from one another.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that we are so self consumed when that’s they way the world is.  In my mind and in my own expectations the church is the one safe place where it is okay to be different from the world.  In the workplace or anywhere else you look it’s always about me, me, me, and what I can get.  But the church?  Come on people! It ought not to look like that!

It’s time for us to lead the charge and be about others.  Read what Paul says in Phil. 2

Philippians 2:3 (ESV) 

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

As you go throughout your day today make it your goal to be about others.  Jesus served others and when we are more like Jesus we also will be serving others and loving others rather than ourselves.  Just some food for thought today! ~

Jul 14, 2016 - Fear, Life, Peace, The Bible, The World    No Comments

Peace

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Protestors shut down I35

It’s in the headlines everywhere we look.  Demonstrations that are anything than peaceful, Newscasts that are made up entirely of hateful interactions between classes, races, & sides.  The world is angrier than I have ever seen in my lifetime.  Peace is further than it has ever been in this chapter of World History.  Throughout the ages mankind has longed for peace and have come up with many great slogans and sayings that claim to have an answer to Peace. Here are a few quotes I came across that speak of the ongoing search for peace.

Mother Teresa said “Peace begins with a smile”.

Albert Einstein said that “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”

Gautama Buddha said “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

Mahatma Gandhi when asked about peace said “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”

These people had a lot of great ideas and there is truth in some of these quotes but I think Augustine of Hippo was closest when he said “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”  That hits the nail on the head.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this situation we see in the world is not going to get better. But that’s not just my opinion…that’s what scripture says.

2 Timothy 3:(HCSB)
“1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!”

If that isn’t bad enough look down further in that chapter as Paul gives a warning to Christians about what life will look like for them. He says…

“12 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Encouraging huh! So what do we do while living in these times.  We see what the world will look like and we see what we will be treated like as Christians following Christ. But what about us?  What do we do?  Well Paul wouldn’t tell us all of the above without giving us some instructions to follow.  So this is what he says to do.

“14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Paul says we should continue living out what we have learned and what we believe.  He’s literally admonishing us to not quit and to not throw in the towel.  He reminds us of what we have in the Word of God.  God’s Word is inspired and will help us to teach, to rebuke, to correct, and to live out our righteousness and train others how to live it out as well so that we can be completely equipped as we live out the gospel in these days where peace is hard to find.

Brothers & sisters we must be people of the Word if we are not going to lose hope and throw in the towel.  There is peace and it can only be found in Christ. I came across a passage this morning in my scripture reading and I have really been mulling it over and over in my head today.  I get tired of the weariness just as you do.  I sense hopelessness at times and need to be reminded that there is hope. That it’s not all in vain. That there is more to life than what I see right now in this moment.

Listen to what I Peter 1:13 says “Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

That is our Hope! That is why we can have peace. No matter what chaos the world is having we know the end of the story.  We know that the grace of Jesus Christ is being applied to our lives on that day”  In John 16:33 Jesus said “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”  Be encouraged! Be at Peace!

The Story of Jesus

story-of-jesusThis morning I was looking for some music that would be appropriate preservice/post-service music for a funeral which I am doing today. Usually I use the same spotify playlist for each funeral I do.  Most of it is soft piano music.  This morning I wanted something different.  I did a quick search for Devotional Piano music and one of the albums that came up was called Piano Hymns.  Now I don’t listen to hymns very often but I do have a deep love of them and they are part of my Christian heritage.  They bring a lot of great memories to mind.

So I started playing the album to see what it was like. The first song that played was a song called “Tell Me The Story of Jesus.”  A song I have always liked. As I listened to that old hymn I began to think about the message of the funeral today. I have been seeking the Holy Spirit this week and have asked Him what He wants me to say.  I have done many, many funerals and the messages are pretty similar.  But I knew all week that this one is supposed to be different.  So I have asked this every day; “Father, what do You want to say to them?”

I have indeed heard from Him what He wants to communicate today but as I was listening to that hymn the Holy Spirit spoke these words to me. Tell them my story.  Tell them the story of Jesus.

Isn’t that we are all called to do as His children.  We tell others the story of Jesus, what He has done, what He paid for us, what happened after three days in the grave, what happened after appearing to the crowds, how he is active now, and what He is going to do for us at the Father’s appointed time.

We are not called as Christians, as Pastors, as Teachers, as friends etc to be elaborate and impressive on our own.  The gospel of Jesus is the most impressive thing truth to our existence and we must at all cost tell people that story.  God wants to save! God wants to call wayward children back to Himself!  God wants to cleanse the vilest sinner and make him or her clean.

So today as I speak to a crowd that may or may not know Jesus my duty is not my own message but my duty is to tell them the true story of Jesus.  His story changes everything!

Nov 30, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Whiter Than Snow

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I love snow! I always have.  The scenery is like a painting that comes to life.  Where dirt, fields, city streets and neighborhoods take on a magical scenery right out of a Christmas commercial.  It’s magical. I know not all of us get that sentimental about the first snow fall but that’s how I get with every first snowfall of the winter season.

In Minnesota today is that day.  It’s supposed to be our first substantial snow fall and I have to say I am excited for the change of seasons and scenery.  Some of the lakes are already frozen and soon the lakes will look like small cities have taken up residence on the newly formed ice.

Did you know that here is a spiritual parallel with snow. In Isaiah 1:18  it says this: ‘ “Come now, let us settle the matter” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” ‘.

How cool is it that God uses snow as an illustration?  Even better is the fact that God takes the muck, the dirt, the shameful, despicable, embarrassing, sinful acts of our past (whether yesterday past, or twenty years past) and He forgives us.  He makes our hearts as white and pure as the fresh snow falling.

I John 1:9 is the snowfall that takes place after salvation.  Just because we are saved does not mean we stop sinning.  That would be awesome but it simply isn’t the case.  When our lives get dirty with the sins of our hearts a clean slate is as close as a prayer of confession.  God promises that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” .  Boom another blizzard of the heart has happened and your heart is a pretty as that painting coming to life.

Maybe you are reading this today and you are struggling to get beyond sins from the past.  Maybe you just need to spend time in confession with your Heavenly Father. Regardless of your situation God’s Word remains true and you can stand forgiven, pure, Holy and white as the whitest snow.  God loves you and wants you to no longer remain in chains thinking that forgiveness is out of reach for you.  Be free!!!! Let it snow!!!

Sep 10, 2015 - Life, The Bible, Trust    No Comments

Called

IMG_1685Like most of you our family is busy trying to settle  into our school year routine and find a rhythm that fits us well.  Because our two oldest boys attend a Christian school 45 minutes away from our house, mornings start really early.  I usually get showered and dressed while my wife Jenn shakes two sleepy boys awake and then fixes breakfast for our family.  We make it a point now to sit and eat together at 6:15am each morning.  I admit its a bit quieter than our dinners together when we are all home together.

Yesterday was a day I was out of rhythm.  I have been fighting a cough and terrible cold so I didn’t want to get out of bed in the first place but I mustered the willpower to get up and get going knowing that I always feel better when I am up and moving.  Around 7:00am my youngest realized that he had left his entire backpack at home by the front door.  We were too far away to turn back so we stayed our course and really in first grade its not a huge deal.  There was no homework in it, just a few leftover raisins and crust from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that somehow found its way out of his lunch box and into his backpack.

It must have been around 9am that I got my first phone call from my son from this school year saying that he had forgot his lunch in the van.  When eleven o’clock rolled around I drove 25 minutes to get to the school and drop off a lunch.

Many of you go through the same kind of things day in and day out.  It’s life.  It’s full of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, ins and outs, joys ands sorrows.  It’s full of crying babies, spilled drinks, school commutes, forgotten lunches and every once in a while even crust in back-packs.  It’s Life!

What if this mundane life full of routines and rhythms is not what it seems?  What if your morning commute to the office today was more than a sequential set of happenings that dropped you off at your current business position. What if it’s not just happenstance? What if you were to find out that someone had planned it out and put together every circumstance in your life to bring you to right where you are.  Car accidents, breakups, financial pitfalls, tragedies, joy’s, mountaintop’s, valley’s, winding turns that seem to be taking you no where.  Could it be?  Is it possible?

This morning as I was seeking the Lord I came across the book of I Corinthians.  As I began to read I kept coming across the word “called” . Called by God and called to something specific.  All throughout scripture we find God orchestrating circumstances and calling men and women to specific life circumstances.  Now I don’t believe that God forces anyone hands, (and I realize that sin brings consequences that are not inline with his calling for you) however I do believe that God has called you and directed you to where you are today.  Whether that place is a happy place, a frustrating place,  an exciting place, a temporary place or a place you have been planted to grow, God knows where you are because you are His child and you are where you are meant to be.  So stay put, find rhythm, & find the abundance of living in His will. You will find the most joy in the place He has called you.

 

Jan 28, 2014 - Life, relationships    1 Comment

Made to Thrive

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If you are new to Christian music you might not know that every Tuesday new albums are released.  I have to admit that I am addicted to Christian music.  I really don’t listen to anything else.  Christian music speaks to the soul and to our very souls.  It uplifts, encourages us, and speaks truth to us from God’s Word.

This morning Casting Crowns new album “Thrive” came out.   As I was listening to the title track the Lord began to remind me about the pursuit and passion of life.  Many people for whatever reason seem to simple try to get through the day, the week, the month, and the year.  I have to confess that lately this is where I have been living.  I went from leading worship in front of thousands to being a “stay at home dad” .  I went from an exciting ministry to cleaning, doing the dishes, laundry and cleaning up pee messes from our potty training two year old.

I have tried to get through this season of life.  Like many of you I briefly lost my sense of purpose.  We were made for so much more than simply getting through it.  We were made to carry out the greatest mission ever given.  We were made to be in relationship with the very creator of the world.  We were made to carry out His purposes whether that be full time ministry, school, work, homework, and yes even being a temporary Mr. Mom.

I want to leave you with the chorus  of  this song.   Getting through is not enough!  We were made to thrive!

Just to know You and
To make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to do more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Oct 15, 2013 - Fear, Life, Spiritual Walk, Trust    3 Comments

Detour

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For those of you who know me, you may have noticed that I have tried to keep a lower profile with social media.  The things I have posted have been verses, songs, and sports related.  Maybe because I haven’t wanted to answer questions.  Maybe because I fear being judged.  Maybe because taking my foot off the gas for a while is what I have needed.

Last Sunday October 6th was my last day at Sunnybrook Community Church due to theological differences.  I know that is a broad reason but that really is the heart of the issue.  I have had people speculate and question what else it could have been.  The honest truth is this.  Sunnybrook is an incredible church and is doing amazing things.  They are reaching people, they are growing, they are serving the lowly, they are loving people far from God.  They are a great church and I will forever love the people and staff there.  Since the very first day I have known that we were not yoked together for the long hall.  We fall in different places on some issues and that is okay.  Neither they or I are right or wrong and although most everyone seeks me out wanting to place blame on something or someone, the truth is there is no one to blame.

It is was it is.  God has been moving us along for quite some time and although we do not know where that will take us, we are trusting that God is in complete control.  He is sovereign! I believe that! The hard part is now living that out day in and day out when we cannot see what is around the corner.

This morning I was listening to a song on repeat.  It’s not a worship song or even a Christian song. I can hear the gasps from some  already.  It’s a song called  “Wake me up” by Avicii.

For most of us when trials come we want to wake up after all the hard things are over.  We want to skip the waiting.  We want to bypass the pain.  We want to speak with anger.  We want to be defended.  We want to fast forward through it all. Read these lyrics and see if they do not ring true.

Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

During this season of my life I am making the decision to not just get through it.  As much as I would love to wake up tomorrow and be in a new place of ministry I do not want to miss out on the lessons God has for me in the waiting.  Am I tired? Yes!  Is it painful?  More than you know!  Am I scared? I’m afraid so. (no pun intended) I hate these circumstances with every piece of human nature that I posses. But I cling to them knowing that it will produce endurance among other things. I love what Romans 5 3-4 says in The Message

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

I may not know where God is leading us but I am determined to live in expectancy that we will soon be able to look back and be in awe of the journey we have travelled.

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