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