Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Crucible, Washington, and WalMart

Do you ever wonder if you're making progress?

How will you ever know if your faith is solid?

What 'measuring stick' will you use to determine whether or not you are being 'sanctified'--ie, made more holy?

"It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God... For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)

So, how will we know?

Sometimes, it's how we act in the pressure we act when the heat is on.

     That is when we really know.

I wonder if God doesn't look at our nation like that.

How will we--as a people--react when the pressure is on.

Back in the 20s and 30s, during the Great Depression, how did people react?

I'm sure there were negative examples, but in general, the people pulled together. They helped each other. They traded and bartered the gifts, talents and goods they did have, rather than stealing the goods they did not have.

I wonder if God is going to let us experience that kind of test again. 
If He does, how do you think we will react--as a culture?

The past week, we've seen some glimpses of that.

In Washington, politicians are busy jockeying for political position and trying to score political points, incurring ever-increasing debt and making the government bigger and more powerful over us, all the while telling us that they are representing our best interests, and trying to get us to turn against our friends and neighbors, who see things differently.

At the same time, we've seen from a completely different perspective that we, the 'common people' may fail the test too--if a real test comes along.

This past weekend there was a computer glitch in the EBT system in several states. Many people found that they could not use theirr 'foodstamp' cards to buy groceries and, understandably, this made them quite anxious.

Others--for example, in Lousiana, found out the WalMart stores were letting them use theirr cards, even though the 'limit' per card was not registering.

In other words, WalMart was letting them buy as much as they wanted on their cards, even though the store, the cashier, and the customer all knew it was WAY over what they were authorized to do. In fact, according to procedure in that case, the limit is supposed to be $50. 

Once news started to spread, customers with EBT cards took to social media to spread the word. Suddenly, the stores filled with hundreds of people who emptied the shelves! Some ran up bills of more than $700 in groceries. Some customers took 10 full shopping carts out!

Why? WalMart spokesmen said that they made the decision to alleviate any stress on the EBT customers, and the situation got away from them. They called the police to manage crowd control (interestingly, it was NOT to stop the behavior). 

When the glitch was fixed, customers simply walked out, abandoning their carts full of groceries to thaw and rot. 

This leads me to ask about our culture. Is there any hope left for us?

If, when the crucible of trial is applied, we fail so quickly, what will happen when that 'glitch' lasts for a week...or a month?

“My people bend their tongues like bows
    to shoot out lies.
They refuse to stand up for the truth.
    They only go from bad to worse.
They do not know me,”
    says the Lord.
 “Beware of your neighbor!
    Don’t even trust your brother!
For brother takes advantage of brother,
    and friend slanders friend.
 They all fool and defraud ea other;
    no one tells the truth.
With practiced tongues they tell lies;
    they wear themselves out with all their sinning.
 They pile lie upon lie
    and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,”
    says the Lord.
 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“See, I will melt them down in a crucible
    and test them like metal.
What else can I do with my people?

They speak friendly words to their neighbors
    while scheming in their heart to kill them.
 Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?” (Jeremiah 9:3-9)

If God is going to salvage us, as a people--as a nation, He may just send the 'crucible' upon us. If that happens, how will we react?

As a Christ-Follower, how will YOU react?

IF, as we've been talking about in our Sunday services, your "Identity" is as a Citizen of Heaven...and IF you are dedicating yourself to "Living a life worthy of your calling", and IF you know that your strength is from the Lord, THEN you will shine like a star in the sky.

Not sure what you will do?

Do some serious business with the Lord this week and ask Him to show you who you are--at your core. Then allow Him to 'sanctify' you so that you will pass the test.

The crucible can burn you, or it can purify's up you!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pleasing Your (Heavenly) Father

Who do you live to please?

There are many people in our lives that want us to live to please them--our parents, our friends-- but they may not be at the top of our lists.

There are other people in our lives that we should live to please--our spouse, our boss, etc.

Some would say you should only live to please yourself.

     Look our for number one, grab the gusto, go for it...that's the emphasis of      our culture.

So what's your answer? Who do YOU live to please?

The answer is pretty important.

The way you answer that is going to determine a lot--how much joy you have in life, how much peace you experience, how much contentment...'s also going to go a long way toward determining your behavior. 

     Will you do whatever your boss says, no matter how unethical it might be,           in order to please him?
     Will you compromise your morals and beliefs in order to please your                     friends and go along with them?
     Will you sabotage your own health and sense of well-being in order to go             placate your spouse?
     Will you use other people in order to please yourself?

The truth is that we all live to please someone, whether we realize it or not!

     How about this idea: Let's live to please GOD!

Seriously, the Word says that we should:

"Present your bodies to God--a living and holy sacrifice, the kind He will find acceptable." (Romans 12:1)

The Apostle Paul told his young apprentice, Timothy, that he should: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

Paul also wrote the the Corinthians that they should remember: "Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). 

Living to please God, rather than others enables us to follow Him more boldly. 

As Peter said when threatened by the religious leaders: “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

It's not only our bodies and our actions, but our hearts and minds.

As Jesus said, "You must Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind; this is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You must love your neighbor as your self." (Matthew 22:37-39)

Living to please God frees you up from the tyranny of living to please others and the trap of living to please yourself.

Next time you're struggling with a decision, feeling torn about something you're being encouraged to do, or struggling to balance priorities, STOP!

Prayerfully ask this question: "What would please GOD in this situation?"

     Then do it.

Living to please God will be hard at times, but it will result in freedom, consistency, peace and joy...and most importantly, it will result in the Glory of God!

Who are You living to please today?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Watch Your Focus!

"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart; I have overcome this world!" (John 16:33)

There are a LOT of trials in this life!

Finances, relational troubles, work challenges, traffic jams, appliance problems, car trouble...

Add to that the stresses of the geo-political climate, the economy, and so on, and there is no shortage of reasons to lose focus. No shortage of reasons to have bad attitudes and crabby dispositions. That is the 'normal' response in our world.

...but that is NOT what the Lord would want us to do!

Rather, He wants to enable us to rise above those stresses and challenges.

The good news: He doesn't expect us to do it on our own.

Rather, the Holy Spirit exists, among other reasons, to enable us to live out His calling. He enables us to have 'strength beyond belief'! He is the one who enables us to be different from the rest.

He enables us to produce the "Fruit of the Spirit" in our lives, even in a bad situation.

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control..." (Galatians 5:23-24)

To be loving, even to the unlovable.
To have joy, even in the midst of stress.
To have peace in spite of anxiety-producing situations.
To have patience, even when 'that person' has put you to the test.

It is our role to learn to lean on Him, to put our focus on Him--His strength, His glory, and His plan.

...and as we do so, He give us victory!
Not necessarily a 'deliverance' from trouble, but victory over it!

Watch your Focus!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Enjoy Every Day!

Today, my family stepped into another school year.

For Lori, that meant another class of wonderful young fives, who will challenge her, tax her, love her and whom she will love with all her heart.

For Chris, it means a VERY busy class-load as he tries to finish at Grace this year.

Bekah continues her time @ Disney, hoping to be hired on there after her College Program is done.

For Tim, it's another semester at KVCC as he tries to narrow his field of study to exactly what he was 'designed' to do.

For Abby, it's her Senior Year! A lot of 'last times' coming up in this wonderful experience.

Rachel is returning to High School as a sophomore--no longer the new girl/freshman who was intimidated and shy, I'm sure she's going to enjoy this year.

Emily is in her 8th grade year--her Last Year @ Paramount (and our last child there).

LOTS of challenges ahead...LOTS of good, exciting times.

For me, I love the Autumn season in Michigan, and  I look forward to the schedule and the routine.

Yet...there's a bittersweet-ness to the beginning of another school year.

Why is that? Why would I sit here a little melancholy on a day that is this exciting?

I'm sure part of it is because the summer's over, and we didn't get away as much as we would have liked, but I think it's more. I think it's because this reminds me again how quickly life is moving on, and how much is changing.

Chris will graduate this year, and will be seeking employment. Only the Lord knows where that will lead him.
Bekah will stay in Florida, enroll in school, and quite probably will not be back.
Tim is planning on moving out with a friend within the month.
Abby will graduate this year and begin moving on with her life.
Rachel will be another year closer to doing the same, and
Emily will graduate from Paramount and be a High School student!

Even for our family, time is marching onward.

So what should we do--try to slow things down? Try to keep the kids @ home?

No! God has wired them to impact this world in their own way, and we are excited to see where the Lord leads!

Rather, we simply need to enjoy every minute... To LOVE each other in spoken and demonstrated ways every day... To savor the memories and experiences we have together... To thank the Lord and worship Him for who He is and all He's done.

These are the things that give LIFE to our days.

So, let's not simply let the time go by, rather let LOVE give Meaning to this Time!

I keep coming back to Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom".

Teach us to recognize that our days are limited...we don't know how many we have. So, let's use the Lord's wisdom to live them out for His glory--prioritizing Him 1st, then family, then others.

I intend to squeeze every last drop out of the coming year, and to enjoy it all.

I hope You can do that too!

May God bless you and your family!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I heard a comedian recently ask a great and funny question: "Why aren't there any mirrors in the self-checkout?" (Michael Jr.)

Think about it...he said it in his 'Random Thoughts' performance to be funny (and he Is--check him out online).

But the Word of God says that we should perform 'self-checkouts' as well. Not so that we can make sure we look 'just right' or that our hair isn't messed up, but so that we can check ourselves out based on God's Word.

Continuing to work through Romans, we read these familiar words:

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." (Romans 12:3-6)

We should 'check ourselves out' with "sober judgement", according to our faith.

That means that we have to take an honest look at ourselves, from God's perspective.

That calls for honesty, integrity, and courage...the courage to admit our faults, to admit our compromises, to admit our failures. 

It also means that we acknowledge that God has been active within us, and He has given us gifts and talents to be used for His glory. 

We are a part of His 'Body'...but if we're ever going to live up to what He wants for us and from us, we need to be willing to evaluate ourselves from His Word's perspective.

Are we becoming more like Christ?

   Are we showing love more, and grace?
   Are we willing to live with eternity in mind, and to pay whatever temporary          costs there are? 
   Are we willingly being "transformed" by the renewing of our minds into the          person He wants us to be?


Are we resisting His work within us?
Are we defining ourselves more by this world's standards than by His?
Are we adopting here-and-now values and goals, which won't last?

We need to view ourselves honestly...with "sober judgment".

Here's the great news: 

If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, if you've acknowledged Him as Savior and Lord in your life, then your 'New Beginning' is one honest evaluation and one repentant prayer away!

There is always a new beginning waiting for you--as you take an honest look at yourself, spiritually, and commit yourself to following Him anew.


That's what a lot of KCCers will be doing this Sunday, as they dedicate themselves (as parents) and their children to the Lord, and as others move forward in baptism.

They've said, in essence, 'I've taken an honest look at myself--with "sober judgement" and I realize that I've been holding out on God, and I want to move forward with Him. I want the future to be more according to His Word than the past was. I want to follow Him completely."

This will be a GREAT day, and could very well be life-changing for these KCCers, as they follow through consistently.

What about you?

Have you followed Jesus' command to be baptized, after you've declared your faith in Jesus? 

Have you taken stock of where you're at in your faith--with "Sober Judgement"?

Remember, there's always a new beginning awaiting--as we respond to His leading.

It starts with an honest 'self-checkout'.

Are you willing?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What are You Conforming To?

Back in the day, in the 80's, when I was growing up, there were a group of people that was growing in influence. You've seen them in movies, and there is certainly a 'remnant' of them around today:

The Punkers.

These were the people who wore their hair spiked and colored, who had all black fashions, boots, chains, piercings, and so on. 

They looked very intimidating.

What were they after?

Well, I've learned enough in my 50+ years to know that I can't 'generalize' as if I know every one of their hearts, but I did talk to several, and learned from interviews, etc: They wanted to show their Non-Conformity to the 'established' ways of the predominant culture.

So, they altered their appearance, their music, their demeanor, and they stood out from the culture.

Then they did something interesting...they joined together with others who were of similar mindset, appearance, and tastes, with similar goals and methods. 

They 'conformed' to that group!

Truth is, we all want to stand out in some ways, and we all want to conform in other ways. Neither are necessarily bad, and in many ways it may be very good!

All of us 'conform' to something. We try to look a certain way, buy certain things, drive a certain kind of car, wear certain clothes and fashion our hair in a certain way.

So, here's the question: What are YOU 'conforming' to?

Are you conforming to the middle class, suburbanite lifestyle?
Are you conforming to the upwardly-mobile, trendy and success-driven lifestyle?
Are you conforming to the in-your-face, rebellious against society lifestyle?

Here's a news flash for all of us: God WANTS US to "CONFORM"!

Don't believe me? As I've been working my way through Romans, I found this familiar verse:

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2a)

God wants us to avoid 'conforming' to this world's values, but instead to 'conform' to His values--and in the process, to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing (changing, spiritually re-wiring) of our minds. 

So, the Lord tells us, if we are 'Christ Followers' that we should conform..but it should be to His Word, His teaching, and His example, not the fashions, values, and philosophies of this world.

...and He promises a payoff too!

"...Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2b)

He's saying, in essence, 'Look, I want you to know me. I want you to experience my blessings. I want you to experience my closeness and connection, and to live in the confidence that I am leading you to the best life possible. I want you to understand that, as you let me do my work and you surrender yourself to me, you will be blessed, and I will be glorified!' 

Are we willing to listen? 
Are we willing to learn?
Are we willing to 'conform' to His revealed will, and in the process to be 'transformed'?

Or...are we content to 'fit in' with some temporary group in this world?

Make no mistake: You are conforming...the only question is, 'To what?'

Monday, August 19, 2013

LIVING Sacrifice?

I read these familiar verses from Romans 12 today: 

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."  (Romans 12:1-3)

And, rather than speed right by them because they're so familiar, I decided I would stop and try to hear what God was saying to me (and us) through them.

I didn't get very far.

First, Paul says "Therefore" (told it wasn't very far).

What's this about? Well, anytime you see a 'therefore' it is (of course) a link to the thought just before it, and in this case, Paul was talking all about the Grace and Mercy of God, and how we did not deserve it, but that He gave it anyway--to Jews and Gentiles--and made us 'one' in Christ. We should not take that for granted, but should be humbled, appreciative, and grateful.

...and what should we DO with that?

"I urge offer your bodies as a 'Living Sacrifice' to God."

Living Sacrifice? 

Isn't the whole point of a 'sacrifice' in the Scripture that it is dead? After all, before an animal is sacrificed on the altar in Scripture, it is always killed. It's dead. That's part of the power of the sacrifice!

Yet, Paul tells us to be a "LIVING Sacrifice".

How do we do that? How do we 'sacrifice' our lives on an ongoing basis.

Picture it this way: 

If everything you were involved in, everything you were passionate about, everything and everyone you loved was able to be held in your hands. Picture yourself putting those things in a box, and then putting that 'box' on the altar.

Paul is calling us to offer each one of those things up to God as a give them over to God in surrender. In this way, we are putting God first in life, before all those other things, and that is an act of 'worship'.

But Paul is also calling us live that way! To live every interest, every pursuit, every hour, every relationship, everything as if we're continually putting it back on that altar! 

It calls for focus and prayerful live every moment as if you are giving that moment (and whatever you're doing during that moment) back to God as an act of worship.

If we do this, it will change how we go through our lives in a BIG way!

Imagine if you lived every moment as though you were offering it up to God, putting that 'box' on the altar. How would you live differently?

How much time would you waste at home or at work?
How much immorality would you allow in?
How many arguments would you have?
How much sarcasm would you allow?
How much money would you spend on trivial things?

If we 'got' this...if we really took it to would revolutionize our lives!

The holy life which would result, and the power of God that would show through would be amazing!

...and really, this IS our 'spiritual act of worship'. It's the appropriate thing to do.

Try it today. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring it to your mind throughout the day and help you to picture yourself giving each moment over to God, putting it on the 'altar' of worship. Then watch what He does.

It will be amazing!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Eeyore Syndrome

Our family has always loved the Winnie the Pooh series. 

I like all the mix of characters, and how different they are:

Winnie the Pooh: an innocent, naive but trusting (and "silly") bear;
Piglet: the anxious, scared and insecure pig; 
Rabbit: the controlling, opinionated and precise gardener bunny;
Owl, the Wise expert in everything (at least in his own mind)
Eeyore: the depressing, negative, pessimistic, lowly donkey.

My favorite character is Tigger, with his bouncy, positive, bubbly personality. He almost never gets 'down'.

I sure wish I was more like him!

Unfortunately, I am sometimes more like Eeyore...and I think most of our culture is too.

Here's a radical idea for you to chew on: Christians should not be like Eeyore!

Think about it for a minute:

We are blessed people, by the grace of God!

We are adopted  by faith into the Family of God, and have the assurance of security within that family. 

We are heirs to all the promises of God, and have promises by God Himself that we are safe, secure, and loved. 

The God of the universe has moved heaven and earth to reach out to US, and He has blessed us with every good and perfect gift.

In fact, the Word says just that "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession." (James 1:17-18)

Make no mistake about it: God loves us and actually loves us and treasures us! 

A God like that, who loves us like that, is not going to abandon us. He is not going to let us experience problems and difficulties that we don't need. He doesn't simply turn a blind eye or deaf ear to our needs and our trials...He wants what's good for us, and He knows how to bring it about.

What does that mean for us?

It means we can trust Him.

It means that, if we're going through tough times, He knows it. He does not let us suffer needlessly.

It may be for our growth, it may be to prepare us for blessing, it may be to help us to learn to really 'worship' Him at a deeper level, it may be so that we can have an influence over someone's else's eternal future...or any one of a thousand other reasons. But God has us there, and He is there in the midst of it with us!

Remember, He is working from an eternal perspective, and He is is working for our good!

If you are struggling with circumstances and you wonder why God has you in them, and why He's not intervening, don't despair! Don't give up! Don't assume that He is not the loving, caring, wise and powerful God that you thought He was! 

Instead, reaffirm your faith and trust. Pray your heart out. Let Him know your struggles and your needs...but don't turn your back on Him! He is still there and is still the great God who loves you.

Don't become an 'Eeyore', looking at your circumstances negatively. Rather, by faith, be more like Tigger--knowing He is going to care for you and help you to grow--'Bounce' on it. 

He is working--in your circumstances, on your behalf. He loves you and NOTHING can separate you from that love.

"Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? 
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?...
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love." (Romans 8:35-38)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Where Do YOU Run?

We all have those days...

It seems like 'everything' is going wrong, it seems that we're facing hostility from others. In fact, it bay be actually true that you and I face days in which we are literally being attacked!

Where do you run to?

On days like that, we have a tendency to resort to trying to 'fix' things by ourselves. We may breathe a quick 'help!' prayer, but we tend to try to 'figure it out'. If we know that we can't we'll call some friends who can.

On far too many occasions, if nothing else works and we are at the end of our rope, then we'll really pray...when we've got no options left.

Is God gracious enough to come through even then?


...but wouldn't it be great if we could learn from past experience of His wisdom, love and power so that, in future situations, we'd go to Him first...and stay there?!

Take King Asa, for example. In 2 Chronicles 16, we find him and his kingdom (Judah) being attacked by Baasha and his kingdom (Israel). 

It was looking pretty bad for Judah and its king. 

So what did the king do? How did he handle this crisis? 

Did he call on the God of his ancestors?
Did he petition the God who had recently saved him from a much greater threat?


Instead he took silver and gold out of the Lord's treasury, and sent it to Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. He made a treaty with Ben-Hadad to protect him from Baasha and his army, and he used the silver and gold belonging to the Lord and the temple treasury to do it.

He robbed God and took what was His, and then he slapped God in the face by going to another person, instead of going back to Him (after He had already rescued Asa once). 

God sent the prophet Hanani to confront Asa about it.

Hanani said,

“Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. 

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9) 

What was his reaction? 

Repentance? Sorrow? Brokenness and regret? 

No. Instead he threw Hanani in prison. 

Unfortunately, Asa's life from that point forward was filled with war, and he died that way. All of the good things he had done before, and all of the great things he'd experienced from God were out the window. 

Asa instead decided to 'figure things out' his own way, instead of relying on, and glorifying, God.

What is the message to us?

When we are facing tough circumstances, or attacks from others, don't wait to go to the Lord as a 'last resort', rather, go to Him FIRST--and remain there! Make the decision to fully follow Him, to fully lean on Him, and to fully trust Him, and HE WILL STRENGTHEN YOU!

He is searching for those who are fully committed to Him, and He wants to support us.

Let's make sure when His eyes see us, they see one who is HIM!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

For or Against?

What are you "For"?

What are you "Against"?

In our society today, people often get stuck into a category: 
"Oh, him? He's for _____"!
"Oh yeah...I heard she was against______".

And then we write them off, or welcome them in, depending on our point of view on that same subject.

So, what are you 'for'? Against?

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I want to be 'For' HIM! His Word, His example, His values, His approach.

Here's the problem: No matter how hard I try, I don't do it perfectly. 

Truth is, I'm never going to follow Him perfectly...not in this life, anyway.

I should continue to make that my goal, however!

So...when things get crazy--as they did this week--in our culture, I need to make sure I'm standing on the right side of the 'issues', from the perspective of His Word (after all, I'm a Jesus follower, not a culture follower)...but I need to make sure that I'm doing so in a way that honors His heart, approach and example also. 

I must strive to be defined by what I'm FOR as much or more than what I'm against

For example, I believe, based on the Word of God, and for other reasons, that so called "Homosexual Marriage" is wrong, and is outside the will of God. While I was not surprised that the US Supreme Court decided the cases before them like they did, but I was disappointed. 

However, I do not want to express my conviction in a way which is hateful or harmful to the person(s) who disagrees with me.

Obviously, this is one of the more 'divisive' issues of our day, but the truth is that there are many, many issues in which God, in His unchanging wisdom, calls us, His followers, to stand against the tide of our culture. Yet, we often err in HOW we do so...we give in to name calling, anger, even hatred.

We MUST commit to stand up for His standards, but we MUST do it in a way which reflects Him. 

Difficult? Absolutely! In truth, there is no way I can do this on my own. I must have the Holy Spirit within, guiding me, checking my motives and emotions. 

We need to remember that Jesus was the Perfect balance of Grace and Truth. As John wrote, 

"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believedin his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth...

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:10-17)

So, whenever you make your stand--especially when it's against culture, let me suggest a few things:

1) Make sure you're standing based on the Word of God. Check it out. Study--be ready to defend your stand, based on what HE says!

2) Make sure you're standing in the example of Jesus Christ. Grace AND Truth. 

However, don't stop there! Don't just be content to stand on what you're 'against'. Stand for what you're FOR! 

3) Make sure you're standing on the Values and Priorities He would--love, holiness, and eternity are more important than 'winning the argument'. 

As we each try to embrace the Truth of God, while being changed daily by the Grace of God, He will use us to change our little corner of this world--one discussion, one relationship at a time.

We may never 'go with the flow' of our culture, and we may be called to stand against it at times, but we can rest assured that, as we do it in a way which reflects Him, He is pleased with us. 

Ultimately, that is the most important thing we can hope for: To glorify and please God.

May God guide us and give us the wisdom, love and strength we need to live for a world that doesn't!

Following Him Together,

Pastor Dave

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Break the Tape!

I love watching Track meets, especially the sprints. 

When those athletes get in the blocks and wait for the gun, you know that you're about to get some excitement! Then, BAM--they're off! They use the techniques they've practiced along with raw speed... A few seconds later, someone breaks the tape, crossing the finish line first. 

After the race, they will often talk about 'giving their all', and 'holding nothing back'.

I want that to be a model for my life.

I don't mean that I want to be an 'adrenaline junkie', always having to compete with others, rather I'm simply saying that I want my life to be 'all out', giving everything I've got to the important things in my life--God, my Family, the Church, my Community, and the World.

I want it to be a no-holds-barred attempt to WIN THE RACE! At the end of my life, I want to know that I was 'spent' for God.

"Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should." (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

It seems to me that many of us 'hold back', even in the 'God stuff'. We try to 'manage' our faith as a part of our lives, but they don't want to go too far, or 'get crazy'! 

As the Home Run movie recently reminded us, 'nothing great ever happens when you hold back'!

Near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul--who had traveled around the known world 3 times, enduring much hardship and pain, with the goal of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world--wrote this:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

This weekend, as you know, we have a LOT going on...the Mud Run, the Car Wash, some have Graduation Open Houses, there are parades, festivals...the question is this: Are these things part of 'the race' that God wants us to run? 

Let's run in such a way as to get the prize! Let's pour ourselves out in service and worship to God! Let's impact our world for His glory!

...Break the Tape!

Serving with you,

Pastor Dave

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why Should I? Why YOU Should!

There are many things we are told to do in life...

Eat your vegetables!
Do your homework!
Wash your hands!
Clean your room!

Most often, these directives are given in the form of commands from parents to children, but certainly we can all see that commands like this come from teachers, bosses, coaches...

At some point, we begin to wonder...'Why should I'?
It's actually fairly normal to do so...healthy, even!
    Depending on the attitude you ask it with.

It can be a defiant "Why SHOULD I?", or it can be a curious quest for information and enlightenment--"WHY should I do this?"

These questions even come up in matters of faith, and the exhortations you hear: 

Read your Bible!
Go to Church!
Serve Others!

It is normal...spiritually healthy ask "why"...but if we're not careful, we start to do so in a defiant, unhealthy or rebellious way, as though God were imposing on us.

The Answer to all of these questions is multi-faceted.

Why should you? 

Because it glorifies God, and as a believer, that is your chief purpose.
Because it strengthens you in the Spirit, necessary for the Christian life to 'work'.
Because it combines to make us more like Jesus, and
Because doing these things is part of how we 'embody' the person of Jesus to this world.

Remember, Jesus said "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28), and "If anyone would come after me, He must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)

At KCC, we encourage you to GET INVOLVED.
We encourage you to serve with others, and to serve others.

We encourage you to participate in our "3 on 3" Saturdays, we encourage you to help out with the Mud Run, and to serve on one of our many Serving Teams.

This is not only so we can have a good supply of volunteer labor (although that is part of it), but more so that we can accomplish the world changing, life changing mission that He has called us to. 

This Saturday, for example, is a BIG day...lots to do. 

We will not be able to do it if we only have the 'regular' 3 on 3 people show up...we need some new participants!

Will it be you?

You'll be glad you did...and you'll understand the "Why"?