Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Praying for Peace from Ephesians 2

The morning after the Ferguson, MO grand jury did not indict Officer Wilson in the death  of Michael Brown, resulting in riots and looting, our church was reading through Ephesians chapter 2.  

These verses stuck out in my mind, mainly because of the current events happening in our nation.  

Epheaisns 2:14-20 - “14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”

True reconciliation and peace will only be found through Jesus Christ.  Until we become fellow citizens and members of the same family, it’s going to be difficult to have peace.  

Praying for His purpose to be fulfilled... to create one new humanity, thus making peace with God and one another.  

My Prayer from Ephesians 1

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."  (Ephesians 1:17) 

I pray this verse for myself and for you.  

There is nothing more important than knowing God.  

Jesus said at the end of the world, He’s going to divide people into two groups.  To one group He’s going to basically smile and say welcome home. To the other group, He will look at them and say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23) 

There is nothing more important than knowing God.  

Absolutely nothing.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

EPHESIANS

Today our church (Restoration Christian Church) begins reading through the book of Ephesians. This letter, written by the Apostle Paul, is broken down into 6 chapters.  We will read one chapter a day this week, completing the entire book on Saturday.  

Ephesians is divided into two sections.  The first section, chapters 1-3, is the teaching section of the book.  In these first 3 chapters, Paul teaches the church how blessed we are to be in Jesus Christ.  In fact, we are rich!  We have more blessings than we can even imagine. 

Then in the second section of Ephesians, chapters 4-6, Paul gives us the practical application from what we learned in chapters 1-3. In other words, once you realize how blessed you are in Jesus, it changes how you live. 

I pray as we read through Ephesians this week, we will understand who we are in Christ, how rich we are, and how to use those riches for God’s glory!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Holy Spirit
Our church is reading through the book of Mark this week.  We are reading 3 chapters a day (and one on Saturday).  Yesterday as we read through chapters 1 - 3, the question concerning blasphemy of the Holy Spirit came up.  

Mark 3:28-29. Jesus said, “28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

When we read there is a sin which cannot be forgiven, it causes our anxiety level to rise up!  However, if you find yourself concerned with whether or not you have committed this sin, I think your concern is a good indicator you are not a blasphemer.  

To blaspheme is to show blatant disrespect towards God.  Blasphemy is a defiant irreverence.  You are speaking evil of God.  

What’s interesting to me is both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul were blasphemers.  Peter cursed and denied Christ 3 times.  Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” (1 Timothy 1:13)  

Blasphemy is forgivable... but Jesus says blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not. Which makes this a very serious matter.  

The context of Jesus’ comment on blasphemy makes the difference in understanding what is forgivable and what is not.  

We’ve just been reading about Jesus doing incredible miracles, with huge crowds coming to see and listen to Him.  Included in these crowds were the religious leaders from Jerusalem.  They were threatened by Jesus’ popularity, which leads them to claim it was Satan’s power causing these events to take place.  It did not matter to them how much evidence there was to prove the opposite, they were claiming Satan as the source of power, rather than the Holy Spirit.  

And they knew better.  They knew Jesus was from God.

This is when Jesus points out (starting in verse 23) how ridiculous it would be for the power source to be Satan. After all, why would Satan attack himself?  A house divided cannot stand!  But regardless of the faulty logic, Jesus knows the hardness of the religious leaders hearts will make them refuse to believe in Him.  

So in verse 29, Jesus announces if you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, which is claiming Satan as the source of power, you would not be forgiven.  Then we read why Jesus said this in verse 30:  “He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

Jesus is telling the crowd, “With everything you’ve seen Me do, there is no question about who I am. The only people who think otherwise are rebellious people who do not believe I am the Son of God. And if you arrive at that place of unbelief, when you know the opposite to be true, even to the point where you’ll speak against the Holy Spirit, there is no forgiveness available for you.”  

Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?  
Or do you want to show irreverent defiance to God?  
Your answers will reveal where you are with this issue.  

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

ELECTION REFLECTION

Many have went public today sharing their observations and reasons why yesterdays election mattered or didn't matter.  Since I have access to the same internets, I thought I would join in the fun.


OBSERVATION #1 - I ROCKED THE VOTE. 
Remember when MTV would encourage young people to vote?  Those were good times.  Since I'm no longer young in the eyes of actual young people, I went ahead and voted... and in my opinion I "rocked" it like a microphone.  Of course, while at the polling place I felt obligated to think "old voter" thoughts to myself.  Thoughts like:  "These young whipper-snappers have no idea what it was like to vote on a punch card, strolling in here using their fancy voting machines and simply pushing a button. They'll never know the joy of a hanging chad."


OBSERVATION #2 - IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.
I'm singing the song in my head… hang on for just a moment.
OK… I'm back.
Depending on the paradigm you view the world through, your world came crashing down in spectacular fashion last night.  Today you find yourself going through the stages of grief:
1. DENIAL - We didn't lose… America lost.
2. ANGER - Replace the party leadership!!!  How could they be so ignorant?
3. BARGAINING - It's really not that bad… actually this could be a good thing.
4. DEPRESSION - It's really bad.
5. ACCEPTANCE - We can blame every problem on them and get vengeance during the next election!


OBSERVATION #3 - HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN.  
We won!!  We won!!  We won!!!
Celebrate good times, come on!
Whew!!!!
We won.
That's right… we won.
Great.
Super.
Dandy.
Ummm….
Now we are in charge of the most unpopular institution in the United States.  Hooray.


OBSERVATION #4 - OBSERVATIONS #2 & #3 WILL SWITCH SIDES IN 2 - 8 YEARS.  
Isn't it great?!?!
You have so much to look forward to!


OBSERVATION #5 - I'M THANKFUL WE CAN VOTE.
We are blessed to have the opportunity to express who we want to lead this nation.  While our system is not perfect, it's a system I'm thankful to live under.  Last night I checked the election results after playing with my 9 month old daughter and rocking her to sleep.  I didn't have to worry about riots or coup attempts. No one threatened my life while I voted.  I was free to be home with my family and wait for the outcome.  For that I am truly thankful.

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."  (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

"I am working to make sure that my family is set up for the future. When most people make that statement, they are talking about financial security for their last few years on earth. When I say it, I'm referring to the millions of years that come after that. People accuse me of going overboard in preparing for my first ten million years in eternity. In my opinion, people go overboard in worrying about their last ten years on earth."  -  Francis Chan  


Thursday, October 16, 2014

THE OHIO RIVER & TROY, INDIANA



This is one of my favorite pictures.  


There is no filter used.  Nothing has been edited. 

It is simply beautiful.  

I love this picture because I was with my wife Amanda when I took it.  We were in Troy, Indiana, a special place to me because it is the first place I preached following the death of my mother last year.  

I love this picture because of the sunset.  The sunset reminds us while one day is ending, another day is beginning.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WORKIN' HARD HARDLY WORKIN'

The Jr. High football team took pictures yesterday during school.  Our head coach needed to continue teaching, so as an assistant coach, I assisted by watching the players to make sure there was no monkey business taking place.  

What should have taken 30 minutes ended up taking over an hour!  I swear 90 year old women move faster than those boys did yesterday.  Then I remembered back to when I was in school, and how I would milk every opportunity to be out of class for all its worth.  These boys were doing what I would have done in their position.  

It’s amazing how hard we work to get out of work.  

I have areas in my life where I’ve procrastinated in an effort to get out of “work.”  It’s not that I wouldn’t do these things, it’s just I didn’t want to do them now.  So, things have been sliding... and eventually snowballing... until it becomes a mess.  How much better off would I have been to do the work when it was first due?  

Proverbs 10:4, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BLESSINGS DISCOVERED THROUGH STUPIDITY

I had a low tire on my car yesterday, so I went to my neighbors house to borrow their air pump.  Only we couldn’t find the air pump in their garage.  That’s when a sick feeling came over me...  I had not returned the air pump from the previous time I borrowed it!  

I drove home, opened my garage door, and there in full view of all creation is the air pump I asked my friends to borrow.  

I texted them right away to let them know I am a moron.  

This experience reminded me of a story I read where an art collector was searching the world for a certain painting.  He was a very wealthy man and had a vast art collection which was stored in a warehouse.  

But the man wanted this one painting.  

He wanted it so badly he began to search, and put his staff to work on locating this particular painting so he could add it to his collection.  A lot of time and money was spent searching for this piece of art.  

The good news is they located the painting.  The artwork was found in the man’s warehouse!  All this time he had already possessed what he desperately searched for.  


I believe God blesses us with everything we need.  Maybe not everything we want, but definitely everything we need.  Perhaps it’s time to open the garage door of our life and take inventory of the blessings we already possess.  

I know I'm going to be more careful about what I search for.  =)  
(You're welcome Matt, Tina and Alex!  lol) 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ORGANIC MILK NEEDS BETTER MARKETING

Organic milk needs better marketing.  

My wife, Amanda, and I are seeking to eat healthier.  Translated:  we are eating organic.   When I hear the word “organic” I do not think “tasty.”  Organic does not get my mouth watering. It’s usually the opposite.  My initial thought is “If this is organic, then I’d rather be on a mission trip in the Congo.”  

Yesterday I tasted organic milk for the first time in my life.  At first I was afraid, I was petrified.  I truly was nervous.  But then something wonderful happened.  

I took a drink of organic milk.  

I’m not saying angels began singing from Heaven, but it was glorious!  

Then my wife suggested mixing the granola we have with the milk and a Copernican revolution took place with my taste buds.  Copernicus is the guy who figured out the earth revolved around the sun, not the sun around the earth.  Here I’ve been thinking my entire life organic is nasty, and yet, the reality is organic milk is delicious!  Better than the regular milk you buy in the store.  My paradigm has shifted from what I thought was good to what is really good.  

All because I took one drink of organic milk.  

What else have we missed out on because we think it’s terrible?  

A conversation with your spouse could dramatically improve your marriage. But it’s going to be a difficult talk and you’d prefer to not stir the pot.  Even though making the initial effort would spark a revolution in your relationship.  

Opportunities at your work which could provide advancement or extra income are available to you.  But there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful and the thought of failure paralyzes you.  

It’s when we take the initial step, the first drink of organic milk, we discover we’ve missed out on something truly wonderful in life.  


Organic milk needs better marketing.  What needs better marketing in your life?