Blog Archives

In It Together

_71435662_m3750096-family-splDear Millennials:
You desire truth and authenticity, the freedom to be and do you; you want enough safety to become vulnerable; you want significance. I want that, too.

Like you, I learned to be cautious and mistrustful.  I am anti-establishment and ever seeking new ways.
Dear Boomers:
Do you remember wanting these things? I do.
What happened? Why did you give up on these and settle into the status quo?

I know so many of you – you still value authenticity, social justice, idealism and freedom.  You have not lost the fire in your hearts that cause you to work for a better world.

 

Dear generations in between:
You want identity, prosperity and freedom.
Do these not add up to the same things that milennials and boomers seek?

We are in this world together, searching and working for the same things.
Let’s join hearts and hands and include each other:
Boomers need you, Xers, Mes and Milennials;
I hope you recognize that you need us as well.
There is such a lie that has been promoted – Anyone over 40 is done.
No! We’re still here; we’re alive and desirous of the same things.
Instead of opposing or excluding each other, let’s come together in the unity of our ideals and searches;
Then we’ll see what God makes from all of this.

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Ambassadors

festival crowd

Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom are varied indeed:
Some are conservative while others are progressive;
There are liturgical believers and evangelicals;
Rich, poor and those who live “in between”;
Well educated, professionals, tradesmen, laborers, those who don’t work at all;
People of every race and tradition.

Yet these ambassadors have the most important thing in common:
They belong to Jesus.
They love and serve Him;
They share in the joy and abundant life he gives;
They want to bring others into God’s household
So that the family will grow.

The Truth Spoken in Love

There is a trend in much of the western Church these days:  “All or nothing.”
Either I embrace everybody, including all religions, choices and lifestyles as true….
OR
I reject people, based on their beliefs, identification, words and actions.
Me?  I say neither of these is biblical.
Jesus definitely met people where they were; yet he didn’t accept their choices out of hand.  He told the woman caught in adultery, “Go.  Sin no more.”  That was after he confronted her accusers and refused to condemn her.  He told the rich young ruler, whom he loved, to sell everything he had and “come, follow me.”
He accepted the offering of tears and ointment from a woman known to be “a sinner.”  His reply to the teachers of the law indicated that he forgave her for all she had done.
When the woman who had come to the well in Samaria encountered Jesus, her life was changed.  He totally read her mail; yet did not condone her lifestyle.  He addressed her as a real person – likely an experience she had not had in her whole lifetime.

I can accept anybody as a person, created and loved by God.
I can – and do well to – disagree with all that is not biblical and true.
One road leads to Heaven; not all of them.
One God is true; not whatever or whomever someone decides to glorify.
Sin is sin; idols are idols.

I have heard more than one source say that love means I accept people, behavior and all.
No.  Love means I accept the person and speak truth to him or her.

Are you looking for abundant, healthy, eternal life?
Give your heart to Jesus:  The Way, The Truth, The Life.

SO MANY REMINDERS

Sunlight reflected in water;
Stars and moon above;
Fragrance of trees and flowers;
So many reminders of God’s great love!

Warm embraces and loving words;
Fit like an old glove;
Giving such encouragement;
So many reminders of God’s great love.

Jesus is born in Bethlehem;
Gentle as a dove;
Died and rose to set us free;
So many reminders of God’s great love!

Look around and count all the ways
You find examples of
His ever faithful presence;
So many reminders of God’s great love!

BEYOND YOUR OWN FRONT DOOR

If I were allowed to preach a sermon, it would be this:

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day.”
Acts 2:42-47 (NASB)
The question I want to raise is this:  What one thing can you do to reach beyond your own front door?

I have often heard this passage in Acts used to describe communes, but I don’t think that is what it is about.  There are a few points to make that clear:
perhaps the strongest is verse 46:
“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,…”
Here are some other versions:
…and breaking bread in their several homes, they shared their foodin joy and simplicity of heart (Complete Jewish Version)
They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. (God’s Word Version)

Almost all versions refer to eating together in each other’s homes.  That means they had their own places, just as we do.

Another thing I often hear people say is that sharing all things in common is communal in that none of us should own anything.  I think we can simplify this to something we can do:
If someone gives me 40 pounds of apples; then I give some to a neighbor and some more to a person at Church, I am sharing.  I still have all the apples I need; so do two other people.

Okay, time to turn up the heat!
I am coming to believe that the Western model of Church with Sunday Morning gathering as the main gig is backward.  Moreover, it fosters isolation.
What happens is, people go to Church, try to shut others out as they worship, shake some hands, visit a little; then go away for the rest of the week.  The result:  We don’t really know each other.
We have lost the part of Church that has to do with relationship:  Sharing meals at each other’s homes; giving and receiving so that no one has a need.
We have to spend real time with people in order to know that they have a need in the first place!
Psalm 133:1 brings up a fascinating point!  It says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to  DWELL  in unity.”
The word for “dwell” is “Yashab” (Strong’s Number:   3427)
It means, “To live, abide, sit, inhabit or remain.”
This  same word is used in
Psalm 4:8  “you make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 23:6  “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalm 24:1  “…the earth and all who dwell in it.”
There are plenty of other verses, but you get the idea.

In our passage from Acts, there are at least three indications that the believers were in close relationship:, other than the one I have already mentioned
Verse 42 begins, “They were continually devoting themselves….”
Verse 44 “and all those who believed were together…”
Verse 46 “They went to the temple together”  (They already knew each other)

Contrast all of this to our over-busy, isolated lives.
Away from Sunday Morning gatherings, we keep to ourselves, maybe extending our attention to a closest friend – if we even have one; perhaps we talk to adult children once in a while…  We don’t know what the other people who were at Church with us are doing, what their needs, gifts, dreams and struggles are.  We don’t know our neighbors’ names, let alone what they do or how they think and feel.
So how do we get from this isolated, impoverished state to the biblical ideal?
The same way we move into the other things of God:  One step at a time
If you are one to go about your week completely apart from other believers, what could you do that would be simple enough?  maybe call someone with whom you often visit on Sunday Morning?  Start saying, “Hello” to a neighbor?
Just find one thing; then when that is working, add to it.

Yes, you are soooo busy!  You and every other person you know.
I think busy-ness is one of Satan’s favorite traps:  If he can get us to be so occupied, we don’t have time to connect with others, he gets a huge victory – the old “Divide and Conquer.”

You’re unsure, uncomfortable or afraid.
Understandable: I’m calling you to change.
But consider this:  If you keep doing the same things in the same way with the same attitudes and the same people, what will you have?
Change is uncomfortable:  It involves risk, having to learn and find out, falling down sometimes.  But then comes the sweet success!
You might even find that you are less busy because a friend or neighbor can do something for you that you would have had to add to your already overloaded schedule.
You might find that a 10 minute phone call cheers you up so much, you get twice as much done.
Ask Holy Spirit to guide and help you; then reach beyond your own front door.

THE PEACE OF GOD

Shalowm 2401
Definition:
completeness, soundness, welfare, peace completeness (in number)
safety, soundness (in body)
welfare, health, prosperity
peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
peace, friendship of human relationships
with God especially in covenant relationship

Here’s a wonderful thought:
When Jesus told His disciples He leaves His peace with them (by extension, with us) in John 14, this is the word He uses.
When Paul says not to worry, but to bring everything to God in prayer with thanksgiving, and God’s peace will rule our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:6-7,) this is the word he uses.

Gods’ peace is not about lack of noise; it is about relationship and wholeness in Him.
This peace is the way of His Kingdom; we are citizens and ambassadors, bringing His peace to the world around us.
When we are born again, our old nature and the ways of the kingdom of this world die. To quote Bill Johnson, senior leader of Bethel, “Your old nature died of supernatural causes.”
Part of our work as new creations and members of God’s household is to change the world by carrying His presence wherever we go, giving all that He pours into us away. As we do this, He fills us more…with shalowm
The peace of the Lord be always with you.