Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What are you holding onto?

This video illustrates how we can get trapped by the things we hold onto. God wants us to let go and trust him with everything--our whole lives. Like this baboon, however, we hold onto people, places and things that keep us from fully relying on God. The result is we lose our freedom and are enslaved to whatever it is we're holding onto.

What are you holding onto?

What is God saying to you right now?

What are you going to do about it?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Who is the Enemy in Church Shooting?

A few thoughts on the shooting this week in Charleston at the Emmanuel AME Church prayer meeting. 

True Enemy

The true enemy is behind this. (Ephesians 6:10-13The shooter isn't the real enemy here. The powers behind his evil deed are.

The shooter could have done this on a Sunday morning when there was a much bigger crowd. He could have killed more people and made a bigger headline. Why did he seemingly go small and murder the few in a prayer meeting of about 13?

I believe he was sent to go after those battling the true enemy on their knees. Our enemy knows where the battle is fought and won.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Serving with Integrity

Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭25‬:‭4-5‬ NIV)

This is a picture of a leader taking appropriate action so that his officials and he can serve with integrity.

The picture is of a silversmith crafting a valuable serving piece (like a silver wine goblet).

Dross is made up of other minerals and corrosion that pollutes the silver making it look dull and ugly. They pollute the silver making it hard to recognize and unusable as a serving piece.

Dross is removed through fire. The silver is heated to a high temperature, liquifying it. The lighter dross floats to the top and is easily skimmed off (while liquid) or scraped/sanded/polished off (while solid). The result is beautiful, pure silver that is fit for a king. This is silver of integrity because the impurities are removed.

Speaking of kings and rulers, the point of this visual is that Solomon wants to impress on his son that wicked officials in the king's court are like dross on silver. They mar and undermine the integrity of the king and his staff greatly reducing their ability to serve well.

Removing--not rehabilitating or reforming--is the solution. It's the equivalent of purifying silver through fire.

Compassionate hearts want to give people second chances. This is good! However, discipline is the heat that is needed when wickedness is present. The wicked do not respect authority as seen in their lack of fear of the LORD. This can be costly to leadership. Solomon indicates that wisdom requires the removal of the wicked plain and simple. There's no place for compassion towards one who's heart is far from God even when they are in the presence of God's king or leader.

To serve with integrity is to diligently remove the wicked from your presence giving them no influence on your people.

What is God saying to you?

What are you going to do about it?

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Gospel and Poverty: Live Simply and Generously

To live counter culturally is to live and proclaim the gospel with conviction, compassion and courage. This is challenged greatly when we consider the impoverished people of our world.

We were all challenged, sobered and, hopefully, moved with compassion by the numbers we heard Sunday (at Grace Christian Fellowship):

7.3 billion people on the planet

2.6 billion live on < $2/day
1 billion live on < $1/day

In contrast...

The average American lives on >$90/day

1,700 children die/day from water borne illness (lack of clean drinking water)
20,000 children die/day from lack of food

These numbers should awaken us to the reality that lies beyond our borders. We aren’t faced with this normally so it’s easy to not see it as real. It is. 

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul challenges “The rich”  (that would be most Americans) to “godliness and contentment” because these are “great gain.” Paul further challenged his hearers to share, give and give sacrificially. 

Our Savior lived this way no matter what standard you use. And he gave his life this way too. If we say we follow Jesus, should we do no less?

The sobering reality is that we’ll have the poor with us until Jesus comes back and makes everything right. In the meantime, God calls us to live simply and generously. This leads to great contentment.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Response SC: Praying for our Nation

The Response SC (theresponsesc.com) begins this morning. I will go and serve wherever they need me. I'm looking forward to it.

This event feels different than the other large-scale prayer events I've seen promoted in the past. For one, it's not being led with an ecumenical emphasis which tends to water down the Gospel. Also, while this was initiated (it appears) by the Governor, there will be no speeches. No one stands before the people more than 45 seconds either. No introductions or logos or egos. Just prayer. I love it!

We'll see how it plays out. But I love the idea that our Governor cares enough about what God thinks to actually call for the Church in SC to have a day of solemn assembly--to pray for our state and nation. We need God!

May God hear our prayers and meet with us.

In God we trust.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Is Fear Robbing You?

I'm honored this week to have friend and blogger Kim Adams Morgan with us today. I hope you'll check out her blog at Learn. Grow. Love. Thrive

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Fear vs. Control
Are you struggling with fear? Do you have moments, maybe days and weeks, when you are paralyzed with fear at what might happen; at what is beyond your control?
Are you exhausting yourself, and maybe your family, trying to ‘manage’ every inch of your life?
I used to be this person. Some days, when I’m not guarding my heart and my attitude, I still am. I’m a Type A Control Freak. In my selfish pride, I decided if I didn’t have my hand in everything I did, it wouldn’t get done correctly, on time, on budget or in the most efficient use of time.
What I was really saying to everyone around me…and more importantly to God…was that I knew better than He did. Pretty arrogant, right?
How did I learn this? I discovered a personal relationship with my heavenly Father. I studied scripture. I participated in Home Groups. I became part of the body of Christ.
I learned my fear was driving my need for control. Instead of trusting God with my future, I was trusting myself. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Don’t Let Fear Rob you of God’s Purpose for Your Life
You are a child of God – you are dearly loved. God cares about your hopes and dreams. He put them in your heart.
Do a search under the King James electronic bible. Did you know fear is mentioned 385 times. Isn’t that amazing? God wants us to be equipped to handle fear. Why?
Satan uses our fears to keep us from moving forward with God. When Satan succeeds, we see an insurmountable problem we cannot overcome. We begin to doubt our abilities…we begin to doubt God’s abilities.
We need to remember that God has a bigger perspective of our lives. He knows our dreams and is calling us forward; to trust in Him and in His plan – not our plan. If we are not focused on God, we lose sight of this. We become lost in confusion and self-doubt. We believe Satan’s lie that we know better.
God hears your prayers. He is waiting for you to put your trust and belief in Him and take that first step in faith. Have the courage to believe in His mighty power. Have the courage to believe in His plan for your life.
Remember, when we step out in faith, God’s plan may look very different from our plan. We think very small; God sees infinitely bigger and knows what’s best for us. Trust in Him.
How do we know when our plan comes from God and not from us or from the evil one? When a dream is born from the Holy Spirit, it always seeks to glorify God and to serve others first. It will never be about serving one person.
Psalm 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Jesus, thank you for always going before us, and for sending out your mighty angels to surround us and protect us from the evil one. We pray that your Spirit would strengthen us so that we can go boldly where you have called us. Amen
What fears do you need to conquer today?
Does it help knowing we never fight alone?
Keep the Faith,
Kim Adams Morgan

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Is Family Essential to Church?

As I read articles about the (apparent) decline of Christianity in America, I keep coming back to our strategy as the Church. When I hear speakers talk about public education versus home-schooling, I come back to what it is the Church is to be about. And I keep coming back to the same place. 

The family is the number one way to make disciples who make disciples. Disciples make disciples who critique, challenge, create and change culture—our world. 

That’s what happened in the first century. Culture was transformed by the Gospel working through the Church (Scattering and gathering disciple-makers).

Where did these early Christians learn what the preferred culture looked like? 
Where did these early Christians learn how to live as Jesus Christ did?
Where did these early Christians see others incarnating the Gospel each day?

At home. As part of a family. A family that was or was part of a local church. A local family of families on mission together.

In some cases, their family wasn’t even blood-related. They were adopted. They were welcomed in. They did life right along with the rest of the family born into that family. This was their clan, their tribe, their household...their "oikos." (Greek for "household")

Even this is a picture of the Gospel. Note the family language.

"Born again"

So what should our strategy as the Church be?

Making disciples…starting at home. Then reaching beyond our property lines to those who live, work and play near us. Teaching our children to take responsibility for every man, woman and child in our personal and family circles of influence (COI). Equipping our children to live life this way intentionally. Not as an add-on. As the way to true life. 

Imagine if every parent led their family to live this way. 

It would transform our city…our nation. Our world.

What is God saying to you today?

What are you going to do about it?