Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
So, how does the Eternal One, Creator of the Universe, Supreme Spirit and Omniscient One speak to humanity? What signals does God use to help us understand what we need to do?
The Scriptures were part of Timothy’s spiritual formation from a young age. The Word of God opened his understanding to put faith in Jesus to save him.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I know I should add the appropriate disclaimers about gospel singers coming under a stricter judgment, expelling the immoral brother and that homosexuality is a sin. Some cannot read on unless I do that.
But what’s the difference between Ray Boltz backsliding and a church that would close its doors to sinners? I’m not the Judge, but I want to make sure there are a few goats and weeds in close proximity to me when the last trumpet sounds.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
- Loneliness is having your closest friends miles away with no one else to share your pain or joy.
- Loneliness is trying to establish a meaningful, romantic relationship with a stranger in a chat room because real people do not take notice of you.
- Loneliness is missing a few days at work and having no-one notice.
- Loneliness is that deep, hollow feeling that says, ‘My opinions are not important to anyone.’
- Loneliness is staying at home when the one you want is out with someone else.
- Loneliness is wondering which your friends are really friends, and which are just trying to use you.
Psalm 25:15-17 (New International Version)
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
At the Lord's Table, there was a betrayer named Judas. The devil entered him and caused him to participate in the ambush of Jesus Christ. But Judas was not previously seen as a dangerous man. He was chosen by Jesus and publicly followed the Master.
This religious attitude is recognizable for these characteristics:
- · They all came together. They ganged up in their effort to find a reason to destroy Jesus. We need to be wary of religious posses who want to rally against a perceived threat.
- · Many testified falsely against him. There are many who are willing to settle for half-truths and lies if it leads to the outcome they desire.
- · They do not even agree with each other. They were united in their hatred for Jesus but disagreed over the facts. Hatred and fear have a tendency to unite people at the expense of truth.
- · Traitors like Judas are sometimes rewarded by the religious proud.
In the 23rd Psalm the writer said the Lord prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Sunday morning I will open God’s Book and read the words that turn the world upside down. God’s Spirit will be hard at work looking for ears that hear. With clarity and purpose He will say the things that I cannot say.
I watch faces and remember their labels. Adulterer, thief, liar, homosexual, arrogant one, failure… Seated next to Down’s Syndrome, manic-depressive, schizophrenic, physically challenged… worshipping alongside sinner, saint, home-schooler, ex-con, contractor, homeless, lawyer, jobless…
Grace speaks and I am reminded that this morning they are my family and we bear striking resemblances. A few of the healthier ones are sound asleep in their chairs or giving me a smiling, blank look. Grace clears her throat and I get back to work.
This is a place where loners can congregate, liars can tell the truth and the burned out can find a new wick. I am an empty vessel and they call me ‘Pastor’. Maybe they should call me ‘Beggar’ for I need their company as much as they need mine. We look into each other’s eyes and we know the simple truth… beggars for God’s Mercy -- Homeless drifters on this planet looking for God’s City.
Tuesday, I’ll head into the office. I will sit at my desk and try to be an administrator. I have emails to send, calls to make, letters to write and big thoughts to think. Today, I am ‘The Pastor’ and I will be efficient.
Grace is my secretary, but she won’t let me obey my Day-Timer. She lets the strangest people into my workspace to interrupt me. Somehow she lets their calls get through that I wanted to leave for a more convenient time. Doesn’t Grace know that I have an agenda? I get frustrated with her, but she always finds goodness in everything. Some days I wish that Grace wasn’t here. Why if we had more money, we could hire Martha full-time. But Grace has an amazing way of covering my mistakes and turning the office into a holy place.
Grace finds good in everything, even failures. She always said that no-one was bad enough for us to kick out of this church, but last week I had to discipline an adulterous couple. With Grace in tow, I went and asked the man to stay away from the church until he was ready to make things right with the family that he had hurt. He cursed me, claimed to be Grace’s brother. Then he kicked me off his property.
This week he called me and the anger is becoming anguish. First defensive, then attentive -- his hollow gaze longing to be filled with Jesus or a good, stiff drink. Maybe next week he will prove that he is Grace’s brother and we will work on restoration. Until he turns, Jesus dogs him. The hound of heaven howls at him. Man’s best Friend is unleashed and follows the lonely sinner on his crooked path. Grace approves. She knows how to balance justice and mercy. She doesn’t forget names or faces.
Before I arrived in Windsor to start this church, I had visions of what she might look like. I remember talking to a young man from a small town church who told me about the homosexual desires that were eating him from the inside out. When he frequented bars looking for a friend, he noted that several establishments had ‘Happy Hour’. It was a time given to patrons to forget about their cares and be together for a party. This struggling, young man looked at me and said, “I wish that church was like Happy Hour. I would love to be accepted and know that I could forget about my cares for awhile. And I wish church had ‘Honest Hour’ when I could tell people the truth and experience their love instead of their condemnation.”
Having left my middle-class church roots to be a missionary-pastor in the inner city, I have discovered that God’s Grace finds good in everything. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. Somehow I think He meant that they should always be with us.
I have discovered that the poor have Honest Hour. They wear their weakness on their sleeve and I have learned to touch the hem of their garment. Beggar clothes, much like mine.
It’s Honest Hour for the Church and it is Happy Hour. Tonight Grace is behind the bar and drinks are on the house… and the intoxicating Spirit of God fills us with warmth and cheer. Grace throws a great party where everyone is welcome.
As Pentecostals, let’s not forget our roots were among the poor and marginalized. Azuza St. was a dumpy barn. Revival came into an environment that broke down barriers of race and social standing. We should always have the poor with us for they are our teachers and the members deserving special honour.
God gives Grace to the humble. She knows what to do with them.
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