Sunday, August 23, 2015

Prophetic youth sermon from ten years ago

This was a devo/sermon that I gave when I was a Youth Pastor (Forerunner!) to a Lutheran High School over TEN YEARS ago at their chapel service...guess it was prophetic (and Politically Correct as always...) 

Culture Wars! 
Revenge of the Sissies 

Intro 
Saw Star Wars recently. It was such a good movie. Got to see Anakin freak out, and go Sithy on everybody…I only wish that JarJar would have been one of the victims! 

Your education by nature is a preparative thing. It is constantly focusing you on your future. This is right and it should be that way…but one of the drawbacks can be that you tend to view your life as something that “will be” instead of “is.” 

Don’t settle into a wait and see. 
Your life becomes a “wait and see” thing. 

We cannot afford for you to wait and see. We need you now. We need you now young Davids and Deborahs. Just imagine if David had waited to see what his life was going to be. Imagine if he viewed life as a wait and see prospect. He wouldn’t have killed the lion. He wouldn’t have killed the bear…and as a result he wouldn’t have been ready to step up and kill the giant. 

1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NKJV) "But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”" 

Right now there are culture wars going on around you. You may not be too aware of them, but you will be as you live determined to honor Christ in this life. Your faith and values are assaulted everyday, every time you turn the tv on. Every time you listen to the radio, or download songs. Some things will be as intimidating as giants to you. 

You will have people taking a stand against you, telling you that you are not to take a stand. 

You will have people tell you that the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. 

You will have people assaulting you, telling you that you are cruel and intolerant because you live your life by standards. 

It’s a mess! And it is easy to live intimidated by these giants and turn into one of the sissies that refuse to govern themselves with honor and live according to the standards and principles found in the Word of God. They will tempt you to live with your knees knocking in fear like everyone else, and start saying things like “well that’s just my truth…” “everything is relative” 

What to do? Move to some remote mountaintop and eat bugs and mushrooms? Lock yourself in a church and plug your ears like much of the church today? I say the best defense is a good offense. Doesn’t mean try and be “offensive,” but it does mean live in the power and blessings that God provides us. Live with purpose. Live with peace. Live out loud and make a difference around you. God is recruiting champions, and he is looking squarely at you! 

There will be rough times ahead. Not going to deceive you. Learn to cherish them…those times are the Forge of Champions. 

Revenge of the Sith was kind of a dark movie. Saw people walk out all bummed and some even crying at points. Life will be like that. It will seem like the Hand of God has left you, hope will seem a distant memory. But do you know that just like with this last star wars movie…I know how it all ends. You see I saw the other movies…I know Anakin gets “saved” (if I can use that term), I know Luke and Laura go through some trials, but they emerge strong and victorious. 

Do you know I’ve read the end of this book too! I know how thing turn out for those that hold on, and persevere. I know the King is coming back. I know that in this life God’s hand of favor rests on those He calls His own. I know that when they do go through tough times and trials that it isn’t meaningless, it isn’t empty, we’re not alone! I know that there is destiny on God’s kids, we can live like champions, and one day at the finish line…we get the Grand Prize!

Monday, August 17, 2015

True-faced



All of us have a public face. It's our best face. It's the face that we want to be judged by since that is the one we use for good deeds, religious activity, facebook, etc. We even start to judge ourselves by that face compared to other people's.  We think we are "pretty good."  But there's a problem.  That's not our true selves...our true face. Our true face is the one that keeps popping out at inopportune times. It's the one that needs healing and is often ignored in fantasy or medicated into silence. Our true face is the one that is a broken sinful mess and is longing for acceptance. Our true face also happens to be the only face that God will deal with.  He doesn't engage our veneers. He doesn't engage who we wish we were, but rather who we really are. He says "there's the real you...the one that I love and want." 
"But the cost...," we say as we think of our mess and cling to our security blankets (idols) of entertainment, unhealthy relationships and the rat race to get more stuff. He acknowledges our mess and points to the cross. And then it is decision time...again.  Will we shrink back into the darkness or will we finally embrace His gift through faith and turn away from everything that has failed us so many times? For those who choose life and freedom, all of a sudden our true face becomes our best face because we are whole, loved and redeemed. 

"Then Jesus spoke out again, 'I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"
https://bible.com/107/jhn.8.12.net

Friday, June 26, 2015

SCOTUS, POTUS & the Gay Marriage Decision



President Obama in his comments about the SCOTUS decision today announced that "justice has arrived like a thunderbolt"  It is significant that Baraq in Hebrew means "lightening". (Though I disagree with the video maker's initial conclusion click here to watch a video of the meaning of his name)

For close to a decade Christians and the majority of the people of this country have voiced their dissent of gay marriage with votes on the state level.  Over the years the federal courts have slowly and steadily taken away the voice of the people by overturning rightly elected constitutional amendments and referendums. All the while as the decisions were made the new kept reporting how "gay marriage is now legal in ____" They would also report how opinion polls were shifting in support when I really think it was the people giving up the fight since they felt powerless because their voice had already been stripped away...opinions without the power of vote are powerless to affect change.  Today POTUS succeeded in his agenda to legalize gay marriage in this country.  You say SCOTUS is the one who handed down the decision, but with POTUS' obvious bias throughout the years and his nomination of two Justices to the court, do you really think that he didn't have that conversation with them before nominating.  

So now gay marriage is the law of the land, what do we do with that as Bible-believing Christians?
A few thoughts in 2 different areas:

1.  We continue to offer a reasoned respectful voice in the marketplace of ideas as to what the Gospel is and what God's Word says. 
2.  We continue to show (true) love and kindness to all people, including those who self-identify as homosexuals or any one of a number of different possibilities currently.  
3.  We continue to pray and vote according to a biblical worldview
4.  Continue to teach and show your children what God's plan is for a family and how He reveals His nature through His design (as well as grace and forgiveness when we come to Him when we blow it) 
5.  Study God's Word so that we can not only know and love God more, but also be able to give a reasoned defense of the faith which will likely come under greater attack

We must prepare for what is likely coming.  This decision is unlike others in the past.  Another horrible reality that is the law of the land is the right to kill unborn babies.  However, doctors have the right to not perform abortions due to conscientious objections.  As we have seen in the past several years the gay agenda isn't just about the "right to marry," rather it is a well-funded, well-documented agenda to force acceptance and approval of gay (in all its forms) practices as normal, healthy and right.  Right now in CA and soon in VA children are being taught in preschools and elementaries about "gender fluidity" and "gender spectrum" with the inability of parents being able to opt out their children.  What this continued agenda likely means for the church is that you will have gay couples setting pastors up for lawsuits upon being told by the pastor that they will not perform a wedding for two homosexuals.  It is very likely that it will mean the end of tax exempt status for churches which result in many churches closing.  It is also very possible to see pastors fined and even jailed for their refusal according to broadening definitions of "hate" crimes.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The New America

I live in the New America, the land where we get offended by stuff because someone else might possibly get offended by it. It's only logical that we get offended on behalf of others who may or may not actually be offended. And if you disagree with that, I am offended and I have no problem offending you because you disagree with me. You are just not enlightened enough. Your lack of enlightenment is offensive.

Sound about right? #TheNewAmerica #LandOfTheFragile #HomeOfTheWeak #TwistedEmpathy

May God have mercy on us and restore us. May we remember our covenant with Him and repent of trying to make a nation in our own image and strength.  Blessed is the nation who's God is the Lord.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Does Relationship Determine Truth? Sort of...



Does relationship determine truth? Sort of.  Granted truth is truth (no matter what culture says), however relationship lends weight and trustworthiness to truth.  Think about it...most people are for gay marriage or applauding gay lifestyle because someone they know is gay (or someone they know knows someone, etc. you get the point)  Even teens growing up in church are deeply affected by this type of relational context of truth.  So here's my point then: relational context of truth is true even with God's Word.  Here's what I mean, unlike the shifting sand of what a sinful broken culture says is true or not, God's Word is absolute and eternal.  It is true whether you agree or not, believe or not or are aware of it or not.  BUT, there are plenty of people (including Satan) who know and misapply Scripture. (John 14:17, Matthew 4:1-11 There are plenty who read it and say "fiction!," "fable!," "just a historical text," "religious instruction," etc. What's the difference?  It is our relationship with Christ that makes this truth come alive...it makes it true not just in an abstract sense, but in a personal sense.  Having the Spirit of Truth residing in our hearts makes THE truth, our Truth because it is all about Him.(John 16:13-14) It is our love for Jesus that causes us to not only believe, but to obey at the cost of everything else...because we KNOW.  To give this some context I'll use the example above, there are several people that I know and love deeply who are living a gay lifestyle, but loving them does not mean that I embrace or celebrate their choices.  Why? Because my heart breaks for them. Their choices will only lead to brokenness and destruction.  Maybe that doesn't answer the question of why I can't affirm their choices.  Bottom line is because I have a relationship that supersedes these others and that relationship defines not only truth but all other relationships.  My prayer is that our younger generation will have such encounters with the Spirit of God that Truth will be made personal and that all other relationships secondary. (Matthew 10:34-37)

   “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. " (Psalm 86:11, NIV)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Twisted

Let's go deep for a second... At the heart of today's messed up thinking regarding what's true or not is, believe it or not, a sense of compassion.  It's a compassion that has been twisted and perverted by the Enemy so that the individual is exalted above God and becomes the supreme authority. What's at the root of all this? Pride. Inside their hearts people say, "'Well how would I feel if I were in their shoes?' I don't want to be told what I'm feeling is wrong,' etc.  Which, guess what, is another perversion of something holy; the verse referred to as "The Golden Rule" in Luke 6:31.  The enemy has been twisting God's Word since the beginning by asking Adam and Eve, "Did God really say...?"  
The result? 
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people." (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Broken

Three and a half years ago I resigned as Lead Pastor of a church that I loved and gave my blood, sweat and tears to revitalize. My family and I came to that decision only after months of prayer and repeated confirmations from the Lord. (you can read about it all here)  We left with a sense of excitement and purpose because God had moved so quickly and purposefully.

My wife and I have determined in our hearts to truly hear with the same amount of clarity from the Lord that we had about leaving our church as to where He is leading us next.  Ministry, particularly the Lead Pastor position, is much more than a job; it is a relationship with many parallels to marriage.  With that in mind we have had to say no to many churches because we just didn't have His peace about saying yes.  It made me feel foolish many times.  Even though the Lord has provided for us in many ways, finances have been really tight for us and scary with some big expenses coming down the road.  I have felt this burden more than anyone. It is hard-wired in a man's heart to provide for his family.  Though I am working some side-jobs as well as guest-speaking and doing consulting with churches on church health issues, the income is only enough to pay the immediate bills and support a not-so-secret Chipotle addiction. :)  I have grappled with wondering, 'where is God?' and 'why is it taking so long?' and 'Is He done with me?' and 'At what point do I become a "former pastor"?'  I have had to endure people's speculations about if there is hidden sin in my life, if I am truly called or I have pride issues and whether or not I am truly listening to God's voice. (friends of Job) There have been some truly dark times that I have walked though. But God's grace has been there.

Months ago an opportunity opened up that, if it worked out, would make all the dashed hopes and frustrations make sense.  It was the kind of thing that brought past, present and future into focus. Surely, this was the moment and the setting where all the prophetic words that God had spoken to us would come to pass.  We stood on His promises. We were confident that even though I am the underdog (as always) God would open the door that no man could shut. Recently, we found out that the door was shut with no opportunity to even have a conversation.  It's ok, I wasn't owed anything, but to be sure I was gutted over it.  

Not even sure why I am writing this (or if anyone ever reads these things!)  apart from some cathartic need to get it out. Perhaps it's just a way to tell myself that I choose to continue to trust in the Lord.  Even though He has not done what I thought He would and what I wanted Him to, He has saved me and is with me and there is no better thing.  If my time of serving Him in ministry is done, He is still good.  Though my dreams are lying broken at my feet, I will still praise Him.  I'm a blessed man with a wife I don't deserve and great kids that love and serve the Lord.  At times I feel guilty for not being more appreciative of that.  My heart just yearns to be productive for the One who gave it all for me and I feel impotent to do anything.  I don't have the faith to talk about the future right now, so I'll just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and trust Him with the rest. 

This song hits the mark: