Devotional: A Love That Never Fails

Have you ever heard the old phrase: ‘Nothing lasts forever‘.
It’s usually said to bring comfort to those who have lost a loved ones, a relationship, a treasured item like a cell phone or car…but I know at least one instance in which this phrase is flat out wrong.

God’s love is not temporal and does not have an expiration date on it.
He wants to lavish us with His provisions and love and the only thing that stands in the way of that at times is…us, and our old sinful nature.  Sin has a way of convincing us that the temporal, fleeting things are most important, and yet they pass away, they expire and are no more.  Yet, there God stands from everlasting to everlasting with something far beyond sometime finite – because He is infinite as is His love for you and for me.

Psalm 136:1,2 says:  “Praise the Lord! He is good.  God’s love never fails…”
So why do we put our trust in the things that are fading and passing away instead in putting them in the Eternal, Infinite love of God?  It seems like such a wasted investment, doesn’t it?  I don’t know about you, but I do not want to come to the end of my life and realize that I have squandered by time, talent and treasures on things that didn’t last.  Instead, I want to deeply invest in the Eternal and never ending love of God.  How about you?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, help me to know you more fully.  Help me to see your beauty in the world around me and to know that you love and desire my love in return.  Thank you for the many blessings that you have given to me today.  Help me to not take these blessings for granted.  Help me to love others as you have loved me.  Be with me today.  In your name I pray all of these things.  -Amen.

 

Dear Salvation Army, You’re Not Worthy…

unworthyYou’re not worthy of the world’s acclaim.
You’re not worthy of the world’s standards in regards to human perfections.
You’re not worthy of worldly successes.
Nor are you worthy of all of the riches the world offers.

Why do I say these things today?
What is the point?  – To offend?
– To make one feel inferior?
– To hurt one’s feelings?

No, the point is that the world’s standards; the way the world looks at you and me, and judges us is unfortunate but real.  We will never live up to the expectations and judgments of the world, dear soldier.  We have chosen to be set apart for God.  We have decided, no matter how hard it might be, to follow His lead and not the world’s.  We are not worthy in the world’s eyes.  We will never be as successful or rich or beautiful…it is pointless pursuit…and yet we constantly compare ourselves by the world’s standards.   Girls become objects to manipulate and judge; boys become judged and prodded at…the world wants our youth to grow up too quickly.  And despite all of these conditions, none of us is worthy, none of us truly “make the cut”.

Dear Soldier, Dear Christian, Dear follower of Christ…we were never worthy in the world’s eyes, but God in his unconditional love and grace makes us worthy in His eyes.

Let me share with you a writing by Henri J.M. Nouwen to better illustration what I mean today.  It is from his book “The return of the prodigal son”, in it he writes this:

home“To whom do I belong? To God  or to the world?”  Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God.  A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depress.  A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me.  It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down.  Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves.  All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me. 

As Long as I keep running about asking: “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with “ifs.”  The world says” “yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy.  I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections.  I love you if produce much, sell much, and buy much.”  There are endless “ifs” hidden in the world’s love.  These “ifs” enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them.  The world’s love is and always will be conditional.  As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain “hooked” to the world – trying, failing, and trying again.  It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.”  (p.42, The Return of the Prodigal Son”, Nouwen)

Questions to consider today: 
How many times have we run back to the world for approval?
How many times have we forgotten that God already loves us unconditionally?
Why do we constantly run back seeking acceptance?
Are we addicted to the glory that the world offers to us?

In all honesty the words of Nouwen ring true in my heart as well…does it ring true in yours?
I need to run back to the Father daily.
I need to confess my wayward desires.
I am hopelessly lost in a world that does not truly love me…but God does.
I pray that we run back to Him; that we remain in His presence.
May we pursue righteousness instead of worldly fame, holiness instead of riches and success, salvation instead of the lusts of the heart.

Something more for all of us to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Win Championships, Get In The Game!

jordan2I have to admit, I have been an avid fan of NBA basketball ever since I was a teenagers and watched the Bulls during the Jordan/Pippen dynasty.  I would rush home to watch the Bulls play their games.  If I didn’t make it home in time I would have it on the radio in the car as I was driving…sometimes the radio stations would go in and out as we traveled.  I was a die-hard Bulls fan.

jordanfluThe NBA finals are electric and the crowds really rally around their home team.  I remember Michael Jordan playing through the flu to win a crucial game against the Stockton/Malone duo of the Jazz (the Bulls would go on to win the championship that year).  How fanatical I would be as I sometimes screamed at the television as if they could hear me.  I was cheering on my team.  I was cheering on my basketball heroes.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet,  I love to watch professional basketball.  The reason I do is because of the drive many of these NBA players have to win a championship.  Last night I Watched (while I cleaned) the Golden State Warriors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers and win the championship.  This year was just another epic journey of athleticism and passion to be the best.  Another reason I love to watch this fast-paced sport is because of the drive for perfection.  It’s a  pressure sport.  There exists upon that court a pressure to perform at such a degree that to fail could define a career.  NBA2

When some of the greatest players take the stage, we cheer and we pull for them to perform impossible feats in order to bring home the victory…this got me thinking – In order to be a champion one must have a drive to excel.

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They must also push beyond any pain they are experiencing so that they can succeed.  True champions must strain, bleed, push the limits of endurance and sometimes face pain in order to win.  What do they win?  Accolades?  Trophies?  Riches?  Fame?  Glory?  A better future?  -All of the above.
So what could a pastor possibly be getting at in this meandering pondering today?
Perhaps there is something here for us as well to glean.

The Spiritual Athlete: run1
How far do we go in order to seek holiness?
Do we have a desire to overcome sin in our lives?
Is our desire to be the very reflection of Christ in every possible way?
How far have we yet to go in order to achieve our hopes and dreams as Christ-followers?
Yes, it is with the Holy Spirit’s help, but we have a role to play in this as well.
We must be diligent.
We must be faithful.
We must desire transformation through holiness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 says this;
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

I still love these athletic heroes of mine.
In them I see the drive to excel.
In them I see the drive to be the very best that they can be.

run2I really enjoyed watching this year’s NBA finals.
Both teams pushed the limits of excellence.
Watching Stephen Curry make shot after shot was amazing to see.

Watching ‘King’ Lebron James try to lift his team to victory was stellar.  lebron2
I know it’s just a game…but to me it represents so much more.

I recognize the discipline that is needed of this spiritual body.
We still have much room to grow and develop.
Our lives are not our own, but we have become the very extension of Christ in this world.
It is a great responsibility and yet the eternal rewards far surpass any sport accolades and championship trophies.  We are called to this higher calling.  I takes endurance.  It takes discipline.  It takes determination.

I don’t know about you, but I won’t settle for riding the bench.
I want to a starting position in this spiritual race.
It’s not about being better than anyone.  It is about being who Christ has called me to be.
It is about being who Christ has called you to be.

Let’s get in the game!
Let’s push beyond our old selfish lives and strive for something so much more worthwhile.
To Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, I say a job well done!
To you my fellow Christ-followers, I say let’s do this…we were called for this…He is equipping us already to do this amazing feat of holiness.

Something more to ponder today!
To God be the glory!

The Ministry Tool Kit, 5 Tech Tips And Tricks

There is something to be said about working smarter not harder.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t work, mind you…it just means that perhaps there’s a smarter, more effective way.
Today on Pastorsponderings.org, I would like to explore some of the tips and tricks of ministry.
I would caution you though that these are simply tools of ministry and that these elements ought never take the place of person/pastoral studies as well as hard work and scholarly thought.

I remember in seminary (College For Officer’s Training) instructors expressing the need to have ministry files and preaching calendars.  These elements, if prepared ahead of time, can save pastors from rushing around on the weekend or when a crisis hits they have spare messages and/or bible studies to reach for.  Preparation is key!

prepared1.  Prepare!  
This is the first tip to ministry.  Don’t get blinded sided by how busy the life of a pastor can be.  Work ahead of schedule, stockpile thoughts and ideas.  Prepare to be bombarded, at times, by the “hecticness” of life.  The Boy Scouts were right…”Be Prepared”…if you plan ahead, the late night cramming session won’t be necessary.

Photo Mar 31, 10 51 34 AM2.  Dropbox/Cloud Storage.  
I am sort of a tech-head.  I use technology when it suits me.  It has saved me at times when my computer has frozen up or crashed.  Saving my sermons and other such pertinent information on a cloud based server can help preserve needed information in the future.  It may seem tedious saving it twice…but it doesn’t hurt to have a backup, especially if the information pertains to finances, sermon prep and other administrative documents.

Make sure you pick a cloud device that has lots of free space, and if desired you can always purchase additional gig space in the future if the need arises.  Most of the time, however, the start-up free space offered is more than sufficient.  There are numerous platforms by which you can use these cloud based sites and applications for both android, windows and apple.

Save onto the cloud, make sure your password is complicated enough but not too complicated to forget…and save often!
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3.  CCLI/Songselect Subscription

For just over a $100 a year, you will have access to a plethora of worship songs both old and new.
There are other subscription based worship groups out there but none are linked like Songselect is to CCLI…and since there are the occasional audits from CCLI anyway, it doesn’t hurt to have an inventory of your songs already available to you.  There are a couple of subscription options to choose from.  Since I’m predominantly a guitar player, I utilize the basic membership which includes unlimited guitar chords to thousands of worship songs as well as traditional hymns.  The beauty of this subscription is that you can link it to other software that perhaps your church already has such as MediaShout, ProPresenter…etc.

4. MediaShout media
There are numerous song/scripture/lyric presenters out there for Sunday worship that do a far better job than the traditional Powerpoint software.  I have used some, but admittedly not all.  I cannot comment on the ones I haven’t personally used, but the ones I have used I can say that it can make life a lot easier.  Again it comes back to the principle of thinking smarter not harder.  Having software like this at your church can ease the load of having to build worship sets from scratch every week.  I cannot tell you how great it feels to have a library of worship songs that are ready for me to choose from, and if it’s not there yet I can link my Songselect account to MediaShout and pull up that new song I need for the up and coming Sunday.  Some might consider the cost of this software to be too much, and I certainly don’t work for this company or others I’ve mentioned, but I can tell you that they do certainly pay for themselves in the amount of use I get out of them.
I know that there are many other such software companies that offer similar services and I would imagine most of these would work just as well within your ministry.

apple5.  Tablet For Ministry
Again, don’t get tempted to lean too much on technology, but don’t be afraid of it either.  Take a risk from time to time…these modern devices can help to improve your ministry or provide you resources at the touch of a finger or two.
I personally use my iPad to preach from.  I bought an app about two years back called ‘Documents to Go’ (before Microsoft Word was available on an Apple device).  I usually write my sermons from my computer, save it to Dropbox and upload it into Documents to Go.  I find it easy to use, it stays lit when I am preaching and I potentially can go paperless while still maintaining a library of my written sermons on my device or on the cloud.

I do have Bible Apps on my tablet, but honestly, I still use my personal Bible for study and while I’m preaching on Sundays…somethings won’t ever change for me.  Perhaps you already feel comfortable using these devices, perhaps not.  If you think you can use it, then give it a shot…if not, don’t sweat it.  These are just a few suggestions to help you in your ministry.

How About You?
Do you have any other “Tech” Tips and Tricks for ministry that you can offer us today?
Leave your comments below…share, and join in the conversation.  I promise to post your suggestions in the future, and I will have other tech tips and tricks in the coming weeks that perhaps can aid you in your ministry right now.

Something more to Ponder today.
God Bless!

Slapping on the “Christian” Label

It’s a pet peeve of mine.
I’m feeling a little snarky…sorry.

…here goes…

I’m not a fan of “Christian” businesses.
There, I’ve said it.  Sometimes people just slap on the “Christian” label to compensate for less than stellar service.  Sometimes it becomes a moniker for some sort of exclusive group which puts “church” in a business box and a societal bubble.  What happened to “go into all the world and the preach the gospel to all creation…”(Mark 16:15)?  If Christians, and those who own “Christian” businesses, (is that really a “thing” anyway?) only live in their little Christian bubbles then how can they reach out with the good news of the gospel?

It seems to me that at times these “Christian” business labels actually hurt the mission of Christ more than it helps the mission of Christ.

Someone might argue that this kind of label sets the business a part from other businesses, and that it can be a witnessing tool.  Perhaps it can, but from what I have witnessed there is a dark underside to this sort of practice.  The dark underside attempts to use the Ichthus on its front doors then sells an overpriced product or service.  I have witnessed some who have professed to being “Christians” in their businesses do some very unethical things…what kind of witness is that?  If I were a person seeking religion or faith and I witnessed this kind of display from one professing to be a Christian, I would walk away and never think twice about Christianity.

cardHey Business people who slap on this “Christian” label…perhaps you’re actually hindering the mission Christ more than you’re helping it.  Seriously, if you aren’t willing to walk the walk when you bear the name “Christian“, then maybe you should take down the crucifixes, the ichthus’ on your business cards and the “Jesus loves you”  sign on your office wall.

Because the truth is…
If you slap on the  “Christian” label and you don’t actually live up to those standards, you’re doing the rest of the Christ-followers an extreme disservice.  I don’t wish to mince words here.  I honestly avoid these businesses.  Perhaps I’m a little jaded.  I physically cringe when I see that label slapped around just to make an extra buck or two.  It’s disingenuous and seriously, I doubt it’s God-honoring.

Couldn’t we just live our witness by how we conduct ourselves rather than plastering the “God” posters everywhere?
Couldn’t we let Jesus be seen by our high ethical practices in the business setting rather than a business gimmick?
I  believe we can.

seriously, could you please tone back the “Christianity”?
I’m not saying don’t witness, but perhaps just maybe our actions could speak louder than words…or signs and labels.

Something more to ponder…

3 Things Christians should stop saying…

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…if they aren’t sincere.

Everyone of us have heard these phrases.  We’ve probably even used them a time or two…and dare I say half of the time we haven’t truly meant them.  So why do we keep using these phrases?  To be nice?  To sound sincere?  Because it’s “church” lingo?  Why on earth would anyone come back to us seeking genuine help and support if what we’re saying isn’t actually backed up with truth and sincerity?  

The Apostle Paul once said, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) It sounds as if this church was doing what was necessary to support one another with love and with the correct words with action behind them.  

Here’s a thought for us before we explore these four phrases…brothers and sisters in Christ: DON’T SAY THINGS THAT YOU DON’T TRULY MEAN!!!  Okay…moving on.

3 THINGS CHRISTIANS SHOULD STOP SAYING…if they aren’t sincere:

1) “I will pray for you”

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I hope THIS is never our motivation to say this phrase!

 

This is seemingly the most innocuous phrase we as Christians say to each other and to those who aren’t yet saved.  It might be within a sentence such as “I am so sorry you’re going through that right now, I will pray for you.” And then five minutes later when we have gone on our merry little ways we completely to forget to follow through with that promise.  Let me ask you this; how truthful, honest and sincere is that?  Don’t say things like “I will pray for you” if you don’t truly mean it!  No one knows if you will actually follow through with your promise…but God will.  I don’t say that to scare any of us, but if God knows our hearts why do we say things that we have no intention of committing to?  If you or I say “I will pray for you”…then DO IT!!

2) “It’s not the Lord’s timing”

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How could we possibly know that? Do you or I have a direct line to God?  Have we checked with Him regarding this person?  There are many different circumstances that we’ve either said this or heard someone say this to us.  At times it’s used to lord power over another or rationalize human/leadership decisions by making it sound as if God planned these human decisions.  I’m not saying that God doesn’t intervene, because He does, but don’t try to explain away your/our/others decisions by saying “it’s not the Lord’s timing”…unless you have received true discernment from the Lord Himself.  (That last sentence in and of itself is another conversation for another time)

3) “Perhaps God is closing this door in order to open another door”

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This one ruffles my feathers.  Admittedly this specific phrase is a pet peeve of mine.  Does God truly “open doors”?  I know He can provide inspiration and direction for our lives and in certain specific people in this world I imagine He calls very clearly…but opening doors?   Perhaps you will disagree with me on this and that’s fine, but there are times when we use this phrase flippantly instead of asking the right questions.  It can become an escape mechanism for some to bail on the hard path in pursuit of an easier path.  If we’re not asking additional questions to fellow Christians about their specific circumstances and instead we use this phrase, we could be giving them a green light to bail.  

Secondly, we could use this phrase in order to be rid of a certain person in our lives too.  Ask yourself before using this phrase (if you plan to use this phrase) is this what I discern God to be saying to me about this situation?  Am I sincere in what I’m saying here, or am I just trying to give permission to a fellow believer to walk away?  I do believe, however, that God blesses whatever pathway we choose in life as long as He is at the forefront of that relationship.  His plans for us sometimes may be specific and at other times can be left to us to decide upon.  

Be a sincere encourager!  

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If we use these phrases and lack the sincerity coupled with genuine compassion for our fellow believer we could do more harm than good.  Be careful how you use words!  Be careful how your counsel and offer advice.  Consider not only your motivation but also how we can lift each other up and genuinely care for each other as fellow sojourners of the cross!  

-Just something else to ponder.

Heaven is for real…and so are we! (Don’t be a blind label follower)

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I wouldn’t attempt to criticize “Christian” movies coming out onto the silver screen.  I think perhaps they have a message that might reach certain people.  Take the most recent movie, for example – “Heaven is for real” based on the book and real life account of Colton Burpo: 

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I am certainly not in a place to judge the authenticity of his story, this isn’t my purpose for this blog entry.  I recognize too that Heaven is for real.  That when Jesus said that He was going there to prepare a place for us (starting with His original disciples) that He meant it.  Life does not end at the final exhalation of breath, but continues…How or where that will be is still a mystery to us all.  But here is where faith comes in.  

Still…

I don’t draw my criticism of the content of this story nor the content of other such movies recently released that also have faith-based themes.  Where my criticisms lie is in the cheap budgets and production content.  

I understand the need to be relevant in the world…and I don’t necessarily go to see a movie just because it is labeled “Christian” just as I don’t necessarily patronize certain businesses because they also happen to be “Christian(s)”.  Does that label make the product better in some way?  Will their services far exceed the services of others who don’t label themselves as “Christians”?  

Another thought that comes to mind within this realm of “Christian” labeling is: Do I solely live within a “Christian” bubble then?  

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Every where I go, everyone I see, the things I choose to buy are they all “Christian”?  Is my worldview solely engaged in other Christians out there so much so that I have no contact…with “those“. “Other“.  “People“.  ????

 

Don’t get me wrong, I need to hear encouraging and challenging teachings about Christ and about faith too, but what happens next?  What will I then do with those teachings if my entire ecosystem is “Christian”?  How does that impact the lost?  How can I reach out a compassionate hand of understanding…if I don’t understand?  

 

I’m not knocking the movie “Heaven is for Real”…I think there is some serious merit in exploring Eternity and our destination there one day…but what I am knocking (for lack of a better word) are Blind Label Followers.  

Ephesians 6:12 says – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

This is sandwiched right in between the verses about putting on the whole armor of God.  
In one hand we put on our armor and gird ourselves against sin, temptation and the dark forces of evil.  In the other hand we recognize that people around us who are lost (as we once were) are not the enemy!  Sin is the enemy and we wage a spiritual war within this world.  

If we only exist within the “Christian” label ecosystem how can we reach out to those who are completely blind to sin and its trappings? 

Here’s what I am not saying: 
I am not saying stop watching strictly “Christian” movies…there’s a time and place for them and at times an active evangelistic tool.
I am not saying don’t buy anything “Christian” either…that’s just plain dumb and we need edification and challenge through authentic Christ-following authors and teachers.  

What I am saying:
Break the Christian bubble if you’re living in one.  
Reach out into the world (don’t be conformed to it mind you) and love as Christ did to the whosoever.
Be wise and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in discerning how you should act and be instead of living through “group think”.  
Live out-loud your faith but take the time to listen to the needs of the unsaved around you!

-Just a thought.

ATTENTION: Join me tomorrow as I explore what others have said about seeing Jesus face to face.

Just something else to ponder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buck Naked & Unprepared

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It happened a few years ago. I don’t have all of the details, and perhaps this is a bit of an embellishment (whether it happened this way or not there’s a point here so stick with me) here goes… 
A tornado plowed its way through a town and in the process completely destroyed houses in its wake.  One of those houses belonged to a married couple who had spent the night out on the town on a romantic date.  When they got home they went to bed.  Sometime in the middle of the night the tornado came through and the couple barely had enough time to take shelter in their bathtub in the hopes of survival.  When they storm had passed the couple found that their house was completely destroyed, most of it scattered and carried away by the twister…including all of their clothes…they were buck naked and unprepared, but miraculously they survived!

 

Perhaps you were thinking I would write about this television show: 

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Not quite, but this television series is all about survival and preparation.

Speaking of preparation, Jesus had something to say about that topic: “Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”  -Revelation 16:15

 

This is the motto of the Boy Scouts of America: Image

I think these two words have a way of crossing many boundaries and topics.  I think these two words speak to the very heart of the Church today as well.  “Be Prepared“.  Not in some “Doom and Gloom” sort of way; not in the street preacher with bull horn sort of way either.  However, the Church, at times is anything but prepared.  

Personally:

I don’t want to be found buck naked and unprepared when I eventually meet my Savior.  I don’t think anyone wants to be in that place, at that time with nothing but a look of surprise that turns into horror and shock.  

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Do you remember the parable Jesus told about the virgins?  (Matthew 25:1-13)
Here it is in a nutshell to refresh your memory: 

There were ten virgins who were heading out to wait for the bridegroom’s arrival.
Five of these virgins were wise while five were foolish.  What made half of them wise and the other foolish you ask?  The wise virgins (I know that kinda sounds funny) were prepared while they waited, apparently this could take a while – they had plenty of oil for their lamps.  While the foolish virgins only grabbed what they could and forgot to bring extra oil (Don’t ask if it was extra-virgin olive oil…that’s a bad joke…I digress).  

Anyway, back to the story, while  they (the ten virgins)waited they fell asleep because the bridegroom took a while arriving.  Finally he is seen in the distance and they scramble to ready themselves.  The foolish virgins realize they are out of oil and their lamps have gone out, so they beg the wise virgins for some of their oil but they refuse.  The foolish 5 head back into town to the local wal-mart to grab some more oil but while they are gone they miss the arrival of the bridegroom.  They also miss the beginning of this late night party and are locked out.  

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 Be prepared!  Don’t be found Buck Naked and unprepared!  

How can we (Christ-followers) be prepared?  

Image Sometimes we are like those foolish virgins in Jesus’ story.  We think that we have plenty of time for the matters of the heart.  We think that we can get everything sorted out later when we have more time or when “the time is right”.  So we put off the soul preparation.  You know what I’m talking about.  It is something we don’t often admit to anyone else.  We kind of play around with this thing called faith but we never get too serious about it.  We may dip our toe in it from time to time but we find it quite inconvenient to plunge in to its depths.  

We arm ourselves with short, cute memory verses from the Bible but we don’t actually take the time to dig deeper into those truths.  We know OF Jesus but if we are honest with ourselves there are times that we don’t truly know Him and we wouldn’t be caught dead taking Him home with us or out with our friends.

In essence, we’re completely exposed spiritually and we are unprepared.  

Image we shouldn’t just get prepared because we think the sky is falling, or the world is coming to an end.  

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This kind of fear of God that we’re talking about isn’t about quaking in our boots and digging holes in our backyards in the hopes to hide from Him either.  

We should ready ourselves because we love Him.  We should prepare ourselves because we desire this holy relationship with Him.  We should be wise with how we use our time and the gifts that He has given to us.  

Image don’t be caught buck naked & unprepared!  

-Just a thought!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dear Abby-Normal”

 

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Many of you will recognize the reference from Young Frankenstein and if you have never seen this quote here’s the humorous interaction from the movie – “Whose brain did you put in?”

In the clip Igor mistakenly puts an abnormal brain into the body that doctor Frankenstein is trying to reanimate.  As soon as the “monster” is alive the doctor quickly realizes something is definitely wrong.  Igor thought the label read “Abby-normal”.  

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Are you Abby-normal?

I don’t wish to make light of an advice column but since we’re on the topic of advice, let me offer some advice to my fellow Christ-followers out there.  I don’t claim to have all of the answers, nor would I ever make such a claim.  I do know the One who does have the answers and without Him we are surely lost!  Since we are no longer slaves to sin and Christ has redeemed us we are now different aren’t we?   Essentially we have been transformed or changed and we no longer bear the image of the world.  

ImageHow to be Abby-Normal:

I don’t wish to imply to anyone that we are to be strange or weird, or that we have to be completely divorced from the world around us.  What I am implying though is that the world does become different to us when we peer through the lens of Christ, who has set us free and saved us from or sins.  Thus, to the outside world, we are now considered strangers of “abby-normal”.  We aren’t the same anymore in essence – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

But how do we remain “abby-normal” and still maintain relevance and witness in a world that needs the hope of Christ?  

Here are a couple thoughts on remaining “abby-normal“:

1.  Pray continually & Feast on the word of God!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray continually“.  These words were written to the early believers who, though new in their faith, were facing persecution and pressure.  Prayer is more than just kneeling beside your bed at night or as you wake up in the morning.  Prayer can be a support system, a communication with God on a moment by moment basis.  We don’t need a special place to pray, we can pray in our cars on our way to work.  We can also pray in silence as we walk or in between meetings…or whatever else fills our day.  We do not have to say specific words to make prayer more powerful, God desires our hearts and sincerity.  Prayer is our connection to a limitless God and personal Savior.  

Along side our prayers is the need for us “abby-normals” to feast of God’s Word!  “Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2Tim 3:16,17)  The Word of God has a way of correcting us and providing to us direction in this life.  Though it is true that not everything we face in this life is written about in the days of Jesus…They never had to deal with rush hour traffic or some of our social issues today, but God can speak to us through His Word.  His Word is vital to our growth and will equip us to challenge the world around us.  We are strangers in this world because of our love of this unseen God, but faith has a way of providing for us perseverance especially in times of pressure and trouble.  

2) The Gift of the Holy Spirit

We are not alone in this world.  We have One who goes before us and walks beside us!  At the moment of our salvation the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us.  He can guide us and provide us strength for the journeys we all face.  Romans 8:26 says,  “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Paul wrote these words in the midst of his own struggles and that of the recipient of this letter, but these words should bring comfort to all of us today as well!  We are recipients of the Holy Spirit too and with His help we are never alone in our witness of the resurrected Christ!

To Whom do you belong?  

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19

We are no longer citizens of the world…”But our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).  As citizens of Christ we are His, and though the world see us as “abby-normal” we know that truth of this life and how we ought to live it.  But secondly we also know where hope for the world comes from – Christ Jesus.  Therefore as “Abby-normals” we ought to be sharing and declaring this hope with love and joy to those around us.  How we do this begins with how we live and conduct our lives.  Because the world doesn’t want Christians to preach at them…they long for genuineness and authenticity.  If we are walking with God and His Holy Spirit is truly guiding us (which He promises to do) then we have to put feet with our faith and our words.  Living the resurrected life out-loud is so much more effective than mere words or sermons…our lives should be living sermons which will bring others to Christ!  

 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11,12

Don’t be ashamed to live an “Abby-normal” kind of life!  Remember your identity as a child of the Most High!  You have been bought with a great price and our mission is to shine and love even if it means we aren’t always accepted.  Shine anyway and live this “Abby-normal” life out-loud!  

-Just a thought!

 

 

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