Monday, January 26, 2009

>>>FW: FW: GOD IN AFRICA

I would be very happy if email forwards would not be allowed to post if they contained the >> character. Don't you just love trying to read something that is buried in >> symbols?

So without the requisite >>, I would like to forward an intriguing article written by an atheist who believes Africa needs God.
Check it out at




Saturday, January 24, 2009

BLESSED ARE THE DOORMATS

In each of our lives we continually cross paths with those who are poor in some way.

  • Poverty-stricken
  • Poor in health or appearance
  • Poor intelligence
  • Poorly placed in some demeaning or humble situation
  • Poor communicators
  • Those with a ‘poor me’ attitude

How well do you treat these people? Are you aware of their presence in your life? There are people who seem ‘little’ to us, but they are all ‘great’ in God’s eyes.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Jesus loves you. The rest of us think you are an a—hole.”

There is an attitude in the world that says, “Don’t waste your time on people that are insignificant. Look for the best crowd and become just like them.”

People knock others out of the way trying to succeed.

How are you doing? Have you elbowed any little people out of the way to secure yourself a better place in some situation?

These ‘poor folk' get treated like doormats in the world… just a thing to wipe your feet on as you pass by. God help us to watch our step. God help us realize how poor we are when we think we're better than others.

‘Blessed are the poor for they will inherit the earth.’

Monday, January 19, 2009

HERO OF THE NOBODIES

A twelve year old is 80 miles from home without anyone to keep an eye on him – Mary and Joseph misplaced Jesus at the Passover and spent 3 extra days trying to find him.

"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"

These words in the Temple indicate that he was an ‘old soul’.

The urban dictionary defines an ‘old soul’ in this way:

A spiritual person whom is wise beyond their years; people of strong emotional stability. Basically, someone whom has more understanding of the world around them. [i]

Our endless need to sensationalize and create celebrities finds no ancient paparazzi or gossip columnists telling us about Jesus life during the first 30 years. It goes against our need to show that Jesus was better than us. Maybe we want a Lord who stands out in the crowd and lives a magical existence above our daily grind. We might like a child or teenage Jesus who proves that good behavior leads to popularity and success throughout life.

Surely, a teenage Jesus doing miracles would be more accessible to the youth of the world! He didn’t even have a desperate life of sin to illustrate the contrast that following God is really the best way to live. Living a sinless life meant he would not have had wild stories or escapades that some of his peers would have had sneaking around getting into trouble.

Jesus was not a ‘mama’s boy’ crying because he missed his mommy. He was talking with the old men and religious leaders in the Temple. He asked questions that showed he was very familiar with the Law and the Prophets. His thoughts and questions stunned the wise, old men who had given their lives to study and discuss God.

These words tell us that the ordinary boy Jesus was not so common after all. His self-identity is captured in these words.

He seems to be saying,

“Mom and Dad, why does this shock you? Don’t you remember the prophecies and miracles surrounding my birth? Doesn’t it make sense that I would end up here in the Temple, the place where my Heavenly Father is worshipped?”

His sense of connection to Father God was not a mid-adulthood awakening. A deep sense of who the Father is affected him from childhood.

The depth of who Jesus is, was carefully concealed and prepared in the life of a common Jew in a ‘nowhere town’ doing a ‘nothing spectacular’ job as a carpenter in the family business.

For those whose lives lack adventure or specialness, Jesus is the hero of ‘nobodies’. Everyone who feels trapped by poverty, largely unknown and tied to family constraints-- he is a hero. He illustrates that the commonest life is deeply rooted in a need for relationship with the Heavenly Father.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

LEFT BEHIND!!!

If you have ever lost a child or been a child that got left behind, you know the anxiety and fear of such an occurrence. I remember a childhood incident where my family went to a church meeting in another town and I was mistakenly left behind.

It was in the early 70’s and Hal Lindsey’s book ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’ was a hot seller. He wrote about the Rapture when Jesus would return and Christians would be taken away from the earth. This would begin the Great Tribulation with seven years of horrible events leading to the rule of the Anti-Christ and the slaughter of all who would not take the mark of the beast. I was too young to be interested in reading the book, but I did watch ‘Thief In The Night’, a Mark IV Pictures movie which told the same story in dramatic form. (How could it not be told dramatically?)

All I knew was that I wanted to live right and have Jesus forgive me of my sins. If I didn’t make the grade, I knew that I would do everything in my childish power to resist taking the mark of the beast on my forehead or right hand.

It was a time when evangelical pastors and evangelists would end their sermons with an altar call that invariably would include these words:

“If Jesus were to return tonight, do you know where would you spend eternity? I wouldn’t want to be found at the pool hall or the movie theatre when he returns. I would want to be living right and knowing that my sins were forgiven and that I was ready to go with him to Heaven. My friend, if you were to die in a car accident tonight, do you that you are saved and ready to stand in the judgment?”

This was the way my generation of evangelicals grew up. So, when my family somehow ended up travelling from Meaford to Wiarton for a church meeting (without me and without letting me know they had left), I was certain that the Rapture had happened and I was left behind because I wasn’t a good enough Christian.

It was one of my many deep experiences of praying as a child. I confessed my sins ‘again’ and begged for another chance.

It was a great relief when Dad phoned from the highway to figure out how I had been left behind. If I’m not mistaken, my dad and mother travelled up separately for some reason and both assumed I was with the other. It can be a frightful thing to be lost and separated from the ones you love.

The good news for me was that the Rapture had not occurred. I would grow up and get my driver’s license. I would get to finish school and find a job. I would get married and have sex. Hopefully, God wasn’t in a hurry to take me away before I got to taste life.

My perspective has certainly changed since then. I still believe in the Lord’s return and the fulfillment of prophecies, but it’s now a blessed hope. I’m not motivated by fear now. I’m longing for the coming Kingdom of God, when everything will be made right.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

AND I LOVE HER...

Somewhere between Grade 12 and my fourth year of college I concluded that I love the domain of people we call the Church. I love her because Jesus loves her. She is my family and you can’t choose your family, but you can choose to love them. I chose her and have given my life to care for her.

Sometimes it takes awhile to choose love. I had my reasons to be angry and feel left out. Those reasons did not go away until I chose to stop being a cynic and become a servant. Nothing changed until I was willing to be part of the solution instead of standing back as a critic.

Anyone who is serious about loving knows that it will always stretch you. I’m not sure that you can actually love without preferring someone else over your own imminent needs.

In our congregation we are facing an election of board members. Would it be more appropriate to say we are seeking four people who deeply love the Lord and his Bride?

Like a team of wedding planners, a pastor and church board exist to nurture and develop the coming together of Jesus and the Church. We do want to get between the couple or assume the role of Lord. We exist to serve others.

Here is a thought for those who serve:

1 Timothy 3:8-13
The same goes for those who want to be servants in the church: serious, not deceitful, not too free with the bottle, not in it for what they can get out of it. They must be reverent before the mystery of the faith, not using their position to try to run things. Let them prove themselves first. If they show they can do it, take them on. No exceptions are to be made for women—same qualifications: serious, dependable, not sharp-tongued, not overfond of wine. Servants in the church are to be committed to their spouses, attentive to their own children, and diligent in looking after their own affairs. Those who do this servant work will come to be highly respected, a real credit to this Jesus-faith.

When mature love is expressed in the care of the church, she grows into who she is meant to be. Love the church.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

TOP TEN WAYS TO ANNOY PEOPLE IN CHURCH

(In 2002 I sent this list to Mark Gilman, a radio host on WMUZ. He read it on air and gave me some great Bible software as a way to say thank you.)

Here's my list:

TOP TEN WAYS TO ANNOY PEOPLE AT CHURCH

10. Lean back over the front pew to face the back of the auditorium and lip-synch to the pastor's sermon.

9. Instead of saying amen at appropriate times in the sermon, put on your best Homer Simpson voice and say, "Mmmm… donuts!"

8. At church socials push your way to the front of the food line so you can take a bite out of each of the donuts

7. When the offering plate comes to you, drop your quarters in slowly from above your head and loudly count the amount you put in (25, 50, 75, $1). Stop after $1.75 and say, "No wait, I lost count!" Pick up your quarters and start the count again

6. When the offering plate comes to you dump it on the person next to you

5. When the soloist begins to sing, sing along loudly with your best Jerry Lewis impression

4. Find someone you don't know and sit with your leg pressed tightly against theirs and stare quizzically at their face

3. Practice fax and modem noises during times of silent meditation

2. Wait by the front glass doors and lock them every time someone tries to enter

1. Try to make them wince with pain when shaking your hand

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A WARNING TO VAMPIRES

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.



If we love darkness, we do not welcome the exposure that light brings. It’s much easier to believe lies when there is no light to show what’s true. In the dark, I can imagine that I’m ten feet tall and king of the world. When I awake in the morning light, I realize I need a shower and a shave.

God’s words penetrate like light into darkness. Fear lifts and reality takes shape when the lights are turned on. Still, darkness does not comprehend light. We are in the dark trying to comprehend the glow on the horizon. Until we know what light is, it is invasive and demanding.

We are like so many vampires who need to get back in our coffins before the sun appears. Otherwise, we will lose our power and die in the light. Vampires are fearsome, magical beings that make a living out of sucking blood from their victims. Sensible, scientific minds recognize that they are works of fiction originating with Bram Stoker and possibly inspired by the 15th century Romanian prince ‘Vlad the Impaler’.

In Jesus’ day most of the common townsfolk were held under the sway of vampires. These blood-suckers were ten feet tall and had long robes and tall hats that inspired fear and awe when they walked down the street or spoke in the synagogues. They were so tall, they blocked out the sun. In their shadows, it was dark indeed.

The lowly people in the villages heard their theatrical speeches about the demands of God’s Law. And the vampires were convincing. Once you were caught in their gaze, they sucked the life of God right out of you.

Those who were bit by the vampires developed a thirst for power and darkness. The vampires hissed and chanted things like ‘Crucify him!’ Many were bitten and developed their own set of fangs.

Vampires still exist. There are many who want to take life from others to empower themselves. It is a temptation for religious leaders of every generation to put on the long robes and hats, hop up on stilts and scare the ‘bejesus’ out of people.

What is ‘bejesus’ anyway? Be Jesus? Perhaps the enemy’s greatest goal is to prevent us from being like Jesus. If we see the light, God will change us at the core.

Jesus has something to say to the vampire in each of us. His words are staked into our hearts. His words dispel our darkness and cause us to cry out for the mercy of the Almighty. His words tell us who we really are and create a new reality in us. His words are life. His words are embedded with light.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

WHY JESUS IS A BETTER PREACHER THAN ANYONE

Preaching is an unusual art. Most of the words that I say publicly are forgotten within minutes of being heard. Occasionally I will say something that will be remembered past the next week. So what if any value is there in devoting my life to public speaking in league with the Almighty? If it were not for God’s calling and the biblical instruction to teach, I would sit down and shut up.

The only reason for me to preach at all is found in simply functioning as a message boy. An important message is handed to a kid with a bicycle who then careens through the streets to find an address where certain words can be delivered to the recipients.

There are no world famous message boys or delivery guys. Yet, in the world of religion we have a plethora of famous messengers. We can name dozens of Christian preachers and writers from several centuries. And mostly, we have forgotten 99.9% of anything they said.

Even the great apostle Paul with his memorable words said he wasn’t trying to use big words to impress people. He kept focused on delivering the message of Christ crucified.

Jesus is different. His words don’t dissipate. 2000 plus years have passed since the air leaving his lungs vibrated through his voice box with words of life. Words he preached to thousands and words spoken to nameless individuals have become comfort, direction and confrontational to millions who have heard them. You don’t forget Jesus’ words once you’ve truly heard them.

And yet, Jesus’ memorable words often fall on deaf ears. Sometimes he added a disclaimer – for he who has ears to hear, let them hear. There is something more than syllables and semantics coming from Jesus to listeners.

In the Genesis account God spoke and a world was created out of the conforming influence of the words. The book of John begins by identifying Jesus as ‘The Word’.

John 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

John gave us this incredible insight. The same Christ that spoke and created the universe by uttering the desires of God has appeared in human history with something to say. Big words… little words… subtle words… words with layers of meaning and a word that is simple enough for children. Words embedded with something so powerful, that creation has to follow.


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