Archive for July, 2010

Con’fu’sion [kuh n-fyoo-zhuh n] noun – disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos; lack of clearness or distinctness; perplexity; bewilderment

Sound familiar? I don’t know about you but I can relate, and I suspect you’re not very different from me. Certain things in life that just leave us confused. Unfortunately this is also true when it comes to church sometimes. I’ve been reading through the book of 1 Corinthians over the last few weeks and let’s face it; Paul had a mess on his hands. In this letter to a church that he started, and no doubt loved very much, he moves from one issue to the next giving them instruction on what to do to straighten things out. In typical fashion he speaks very plainly and sometimes forcefully to the church, not because he wants to scold them but because he loves them. His desire is to see God’s church be all God intended for it to be and so he speaks the truth to them.

This entire week I have been reading what Paul had to say to this church concerning the use of their spiritual gifts and particularly focusing on the gift of speaking in tongues. It’s not the purpose of this devotional to explore the gift of tongues so let me just say that I don’t have this gift nor have I ever been inclined to speak in a foreign tongue that I have not previously studied.

Having said that let’s get to the point of what I think Paul is trying to say. You see, Paul has a lot to say to the Corinthian church about this gift but his main purpose in bringing it up is to get the church focused on what really matters; ministering the gospel of Christ to each other and to a lost world. The church members in Corinth were so caught up in themselves and trying to prove to each other how spiritual they were that they lost their focus. They were competing with each other over spirituality and thoroughly confusing their visitors. Paul wants them to understand that any gift God has given them is to be used to minister to others, not to show how spiritual one is. Otherwise what good is it? In 14:33 Paul says, “ου γαρ εστιν ακαταστασιας ο θεος αλλ ειρηνης ως εν πασαις ταις εκκλησιαις των αγιων”, I mean “porque Dios no es Dios de confusión, sino de paz, como en todas las iglesias de los santos”, or rather “For God is not the author of Confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” See the point? God has gifted every Christian and placed each of us within a fellowship of believers for one purpose; to be his hands and feet to each other and to the lost. Paul finishes his thought with these words in 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Let us remember these words and use what God has gifted us with for His glory and not our own.

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Keeping Up

Posted: July 28, 2010 in Reading List
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Lately I have been reading a lot about blogging; how to blog, how to get your blog noticed, etc. One of the things I learned was that if you keep up with what’s going on in the news and write about it, or somehow tie it to your blog, then you will have a better chance of getting noticed by search engines and so forth; makes sense. It’s important to stay up to date on issues and reading, whether it be blogs, news reports, books, or whatever, is in my opinion the best way to do that.

The reason I started writing was to encourage students in my youth group to read. I began by writing weekly devotions and sending them out by email to encourage students to continue in their own personal devotions. I really just want them to get into a habit of reading God’s Word which can be very difficult when many people would rather go to the dentist than read a book (no offense to dentists, I’m just saying). I have been blessed (at least in my opinion) to have enjoyed reading ever since I was kid. The kinds of things I enjoy reading has changed but my love for it hasn’t. As I mentioned, I’ve been spending a lot more time reading blogs lately and I have been encouraged and challenged and have learned some things. I still enjoy reading books too and have a decent personal library.

Many of the books I have were handed down to me by two dear pastors that I had the privilege of serving with before their retirement from pastoral ministry. Many people would look at some of these books and wonder why anyone would want to read them I’m sure and the truth is many are books that only a pastor would care about. The great thing about these books is that though many were written a long time ago there is a timeless value to them. I recently finished a book by W.A. Criswell called Why I Preach That the Bible Is Literally True written over 40 years ago and I’m about halfway through The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer which was written over 60 years ago. These books are very different from each other but at the same time there is a common thread between them. One is a great apologetic of the Word of God while the other is more of a journey about drawing close to God. The thing is, I have benefited from both of them because you can’t separate a personal knowledge and experience with God from the revelation of Him through His Word. When I open the pages of one of these treasures that have been handed down to me I do it with an eagerness to devour the words written there. There have been some godly people who have walked before us that have a great deal to share with us if we’ll listen (or read). Criswell puts it this way, “The Old Testament prophets had a habit of calling their people back to the remembrance of their forefathers. For examples, Isaiah lifted up his voice and cried, ‘Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you’ (Isa. 51:1-2). Let us do this with regard to our Christian heritage and with regard to the reverence of our predecessors for the infallible Word of God” (Why I Preach That the Bible Is Literally True,p.155).

It’s important to keep up with what’s going on and there are many great blogs and new books being written that will encourage and inspire us but let’s not forget about those who have gone before, as Tozer has said, “Hearts that are ‘fit to break’ with love for the Godhead are those who have been in the Presence and have looked with opened eye upon the majesty of Deity. Men of the breaking hearts had a quality about them not known or understood by common men. They had been in the presence of God and they reported what they saw there” (The Pursuit of God, p40). Read anything good lately?

Born Again

Posted: July 27, 2010 in Music
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Once again I have to make a confession. I have enjoyed the Newsboys, DC Talk, and Tait  but I’m not huge fans. I mean I have a DC Talk CD and several Newsboys and they have some songs that I really like but all in all they’re not my favorites. The truth is I would rather hear Toby Mac with Diverse City than DC Talk. I’m just saying. When I heard that Michael Tait was going to be singing for Newsboys I figured it would be alright but I wasn’t doing backflips or anything (not that I could actually do a backflip). I have to say though, after I heard the title track off their new album Born Again I was pleasantly surprised. The song jams. It just so happened that I found it on sale the other day for like $7 so I bought it and once again I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been listening to it over and over and I just keep enjoying it more and more. There’s a couple of songs that are a little 80’s sounding (one is even a little Madonnaesque and sounds like it ought to be on an old workout video) but for the most part the guitars are really heavy (which of course I like a A LOT!) and the lyrics are a little different sometimes but to the point as is characteristic of both DC Talk and Newsboys. It’s just a good CD to jam to, definitely worth checking out.

The Great Divide

Posted: July 21, 2010 in QT's
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Last week I was camping with a group from my church in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. As we stood under the massive peaks and enormous boulders we couldn’t help but be in awe of God’s power and beauty. This mountain range is known as “The Great Divide” because it stretches across the entire North American continent and all the rivers on the west side empty into the Pacific Ocean while all the rivers on the east side empty into the Atlantic. While these mountains are certainly beautiful they are also very rugged. As I walked a cross the Royal Gorge Bridge I tried to imagine what it would be like to cross this rugged terrain without bridges and man made roads. It would have been very difficult to say the least. Even now the roads that cross these mountains follow along natural passes because there’s just no other way.

I thought about this as I read Paul’s words to the Corinthian church. In 1 Cor. 11:18 he says, “When you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you” (ESV). Paul talks about this divisiveness throughout this letter to the church. They’re divided over different church leaders, personal convictions, proper authority in the church and the home, and even over the Lord’s Supper and spiritual gifts. It seems this church was having a hard time getting along with each other and so Paul tried to get them back on the right track by speaking very bluntly to them. Their problem is not so much a matter of who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s a matter of the heart. You see, the love of money may be the root of all kinds of evil but pride is the root of all sin. The church was divided over personal opinions and preferences and Paul tells them that it shouldn’t be so. Jesus came and bridged the gap between God and man by putting us before Himself and dying in our place. Why then should His church behave so selfishly? We shouldn’t. We should all look to Christ and stay focused on Him and forget about our petty preferences. We should all place others before ourselves and forget about our own opinions. The church, which is the body of Christ, His hands and feet on the earth, should never be divided against itself but should always strive to be of one accord working together for the glory of God and the furtherance of His kingdom. Basically we just need to get off our high horses sometimes. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful but they are also very dangerous. Our own opinions and preferences may seem right to us and they may even be right but when they cause division in God’s church they can be very dangerous. That’s not to say that we should ever compromise God’s truth for the sake of unity. Paul is very clear about that. We just need to be careful that we don’t equate our preferences and opinions with God’s truth. Believe it or not they’re not always the same thing.

My dad used to tell me that his drill instructor would say “Look on your left chest. That doesn’t say mob, it says US Army. I expect you to act accordingly.” Christians, we are a part of the body of Christ and He expects us to act accordingly. Don’t let your pride be the thing that causes divisiveness within your local church.

Keep The Change

Posted: July 8, 2010 in QT's
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When you tell someone to “keep the change” you mean for them to keep the difference, to keep what’s left. I’ve been reading through 1 Corinthians in my quality time with God and that’s the thought that struck me this morning. If you’ve never read through 1 Corinthians then let me just tell you that it’s kind of a tough book to get through.

It was written by Paul to the church at Corinth (hence the title) which he started. The church was having some problems though and Paul wrote to them to help them get a few things straightened out. Needless to say he has some pretty hard words for them but he also makes it clear that the reason he’s so straight forward with them is because He loves them and he wants them to be everything that God intends for His church to be. They needed to quit the nonsense and just be real. They needed to address sin in their lives directly, hold each other accountable and quit fussing over silly stuff. In short, they needed to quit acting like their old selves and start acting like their new selves. In chapter 6 he reminds them of the way they used to be before they got saved and then in verse 11 he tells them “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

You see, Christians are people who have been made different. We’re people who have been changed by our faith in God and the power of His Spirit that lives in us. We should behave differently than we did before. We should behave differently than people who haven’t been changed. Not because we’re better but because the difference is real. As Christians we need to accept that and embrace the difference. We need to quit worrying about what people think and start worrying about what God knows. We need to get our eye’s off ourselves and set our hearts on being followers of Christ. We need to “keep the change” and just be real, before God, each other, and the rest of the world. Dare to be different.