Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stop & Go!

I love the Great Commission as it is laid out in Matthew 28:18-20.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

The first part of the commission is the command of motion – Go!

If you are like me I hate waiting. When I’m in a car and we get in a traffic jam, I’m always looking for a way around the mess. My wife will tell you that I often say “I’d rather be moving than just sitting here waiting!” Movement is always better than non-movement.

Now the truth of the matter is that often if I had just been more patient and waited, I’d have gotten to my destination sooner then taking the detour I chose to take!

In Acts 1:4b-5 Jesus gives his disciples additional instructions about this commission thing.

4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Acts 1:4-5 (NIV)

Before they can go they have to wait. Wait until God does something special. Wait until they are properly prepared for the mission he has planned for them.

You see we often want to rush in and get busy, when God tells us to wait on him so he can renew our strength.

If the disciples had failed to obey Jesus’ command to wait, they would have failed! Failed in their assigned task to make disciples in all the world. Why? Because they would have gone to work without the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word used here is dynamis. We get our words dynamite and dynamics from this Greek word. Dynamis is not potential power, nor is it stored up power. Rather it indicates power already in motion. Power at work and we get to tap into it!

The supernatural power of God is ours to use. We become conducts of his power, but it took time to prepare for the disciples were able to tap into this God power that the Holy Spirit provides.

The mission the disciples were given and that is still ours today can not be accomplished in our own strength. It can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we need to wait upon the Lord and his time, Sometimes waiting is a good thing… even when it drive me crazy!

Almost around the bend,

Pastor Val

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Emperor Has No Clothes

We are all familiar with the children’s story about a ruler who is conned by a crooked tailor into “seeing” special clothes that only privileged people were capable of seeing. On the day that the emperor wore his new clothes for the very first time the town folks either saw these special clothes or at eh very least pretended to see the special clothes. All, except one small child who exclaimed “Look! The Emperor has no clothes!” and with that everyone saw the naked truth of just how special the Emperor really was!

Today I feel like that small child! I know a secret about the emperor that very few know about. If I share my secret – while the world would continue to spin on it’s axis – in some circles their world would grind to a halt.

Some would never believe the truth and for others 5their faith would be sorely tried.

This blog is going to be my therapy session as I make a decision on how to proceed

So what are the effects of pointing out the truth?

The emperor in this case deceived himself in believing the lie about his sin but the emperor is no more, only his reputation.

Many would not believe the truth. So what! We are still commanded to speak the truth albeit in love. Ephesians 4:15.

Some less mature believers might question their faith or at least their faith in their leaders. I don’t want to be a stumbling block for another’s faith. 1 Corinthians 8:9.

It would be sweet revenge! But I’m commanded to for give – and I thought that I had.

Who would benefit from my “unburdening” myself?

Just me – it’s not supposed to be about me. No, rather it’s about God!

Can I trust God to do the right thing? I think so after all he is holy and just as well as lovingly merciful and a dispenser of grace.

So let’s see, we are commanded to love like Jesus. We must love and forgive if we want forgiveness. Matthew 6:12. We are told that love covers a multitude of sins, this for all believers not just me personally.1 Peter 4:8.

Almost 30 years ago I learned the truth about the emperor and I’ve kept the secret for all this time. I’ve hung onto1 Timothy 5:4 as a promise. Since I trusted Father this long, I guess I can trust him the rest of my life.

Pssst – want to hear a secret??

Pastor Val

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Free Agency: Contracts and Christians

Today in sports we read a lot about free agencies. By this we mean an athlete whose contract to play with a particular team has expired and the contract is up for renewal. Today this also usually means a renegotiating of the compensation package for the player.

Most recently we have seen the spectacle of Lebron James choosing to sign with a new team, the Miami Heat much to the chagrin and consternation of his now former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m not looking to bash “King James” because from a business standpoint he had every right to look at all of his options and make his decision based upon how close the various teams came to the contract Lebron had in mind.

While I can’t fault him for making his decision, I can and will suggest that he could have handled himself in a more circumspect way. That alone would have softened the blow to his former team, front office and the Cleveland fans.

Now what would bother me would be if several months after signing his new contract Lebron received a better offer and he decided to accept this new contract and renege on his first new one that he had duly signed and executed.

How would the Heat, his new team, feel about his breaking his word and the legal contract?

What would it say about his character and maturity?

Could his new team ever trust his word to fully execute his part of the contract?

Though provoking questions, aren’t they?

Now suppose the person in question is a follower of Christ and they were going to break their word.

What would you think of them?

What would Jesus think of them?

Could you ever trust them?

But, you say, they can do so much more for the Lord by breaking their word!


Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say that “it’s never right to do wrong to do right!”

Jesus says don’t break your oath! He insists that your word is your bond. Matthew 5:33-37 & James 5:12.

The Psalmist in Psalm 15:4 says that people who are approved by God are willing to keep their vows even when it hurts emotionally, mentally or even sexually.

It’s easy to keep a vow when it doesn’t hurt you – but what if it means loosing money, or skipping that after the game party because you promised your parents you would come right home after the game or you pass up on that dream job of a lifetime.

Well it can’t be that bad, can it? To break your word? Well James 4:17 says that if you know what’s right but refuse to do it – God says it’s a sin!

Free agency is a choice but once the choice is made and you live it out your character will shine through.

Living in accordance to God’s Word is often inconvenient but it’s always righteous way to go!

Inconveniently Yours,

Pastor Val

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Christian Atheist

Believing in God but living as if he doesn’t exist!

This is the second book that I have read by Craig Groschel and I want to recommend it to everyone who reads this blog. It’s an easy read and his style is humorous with a down to earth approach that corresponds with his teaching style. Craig is the founding and senior pastor of that has over 80 worship experiences each weekend at over 14 different campus locations throughout the country.

I want to specifically address his “three lines in the sand” vision that wraps up the book. Craig suggests that the Christian life is a series of choices to cross over various lines in the sand. Each line progressively requires more understanding o f our position and calling in Christ. The crossing of the first line says “I believe in God and the gospel of Christ enough to benefit from it.” This is the easiest of the lines to cross because it costs the crosser nothing. One gets all of the benefits with no “skin in the game.”

It could be likened to considering God as a heavenly slot machine that is expected to pay out – but requires no coins to play. Much like the nine ungrateful lepers of Luke 17, once God blesses us we can forget about him. We believe that he owes us good health, good relationships, great jobs and a happy-ever-after-life this side of heaven.

When we live like this we are really no different than the demons mentioned in James who believe that there is a God. Are these “believers” cultural Christians or even worse false believers? This is a question each of us who are first line Christians need to ask ourselves. The answer is something that only you and God know for sure.

The second line we are called to cross states “I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to contribute comfortably.” Personal observation and experience tells me that this is where the majority of church attenders are comfortably at.

We believe God enough to expect benefits and we are even willing to give something back. Just don’t ask too much from us. After all we have our new houses, new casrs, vacation places, boats and retirement contributions to make.

Much like the rich young ruler of Matthew 19 we are willing to go only so far with our commitment. Just don’t push us! Don’t ask us to be willing to give God everything!

The final line we travel towards says “I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to give my life to it.” This is the statement that can take my breath away, Can I honestly say (and live out) I give it all to you, Lord? You are in complete control.

25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:25-26 (NIV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
Acts 20:24 (NIV)

8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:8 (NIV)

Are you willing to take the plunge? To jump off the cliff? To trust God with all of your life and all of your stuff?

I have to honestly say that while I wish this was a one time event, the reality is that we have to make this choice daily. Too often I’ve failed to make the right choice – but I have a heavenly Father who is infinitely patient with me. He is always encouraging me to go jump off a cliff!


Pastor Val

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bucket Brigade

Darkness has been defined as the absence of light, so then when light is introduced darkness is always defeated by light. Additionally the more light there is the more the darkness recedes.

The Bible calls a number of things light.

God is light

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

Jesus Christ is light

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 8:12 (NIV)

5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
John 9:5 (NIV)

46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
John 12:46 (NIV)

God’s Word is called light

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

Israel was called to be the light of the world

6 "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
Isaiah 42:6 (NIV)

6 he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
Isaiah 49:6 (NIV)

They were to reflect God and his glory to the Gentiles. This light included peace, joy and salvation in knowing and serving God. There were times when Israel failed to accurately portray God and God would have to clean their mirror. Usually this meant discipline from God by allowing other nations to attack the people of God. When the nation repented and turned back to God, God would intervene and save his people.

Almost without exception this salvation was supernatural in nature. Joshua and company march around Jericho and the walls fall down. Gideon and 320 men route tens of thousands of Midianite soldiers. Jehoshaphat, at God’s command, put the choir in the front of the army and their enemies were destroyed. David a teenage shepherd goes up against a giant and God give victory.

Each time Israel is spared it is by divine intervention. God was saying “People are watching and I can’t let you get away with disobedience. My reputation is at stake. It isn’t about you, it’s about me!” The nation would eventually repent and God would rescue them and get the glory.

Individual believers are now called to represent God as his light to a dark world.

14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-67 (NIV)

During war time those fighting and those in midst of the conflict are often endure ordered blackouts. No light is supposed to escape into the night giving the enemy a target to attack or launch bombs at. Even vehicles’ lights were reduced sometimes by blackout stripes allowing on the smallest amount of light to illuminate the road ahead. God does not battle this way. With our God, light is used to overcome the evil!

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
John 3:19-21 (NIV)

As his representatives how are we doing reflecting his light and his glory? Light can be best seen when there is something to contrast it to, such as darkness. Often dark days have to come so that God’s glory can be seen in miraculous ways.

6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
Ephesians 5:8 (NIV)

I’m reminded of the new LED lights. While individually they don’t appear to give off a lit of light, a single diode can be seen for almost a mile once it is lit up. Gather a group of these LEDs provide more light then any incandescent lamp around and with a fraction of the cost.

Just like an LED light we have been told will virtually never burn out, so God’s light will never burn out. In him there is no shadow of turning.

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 (NIV)

We need to clean up our reflectors. Let our light shine before men so that they may see our good works and glorify our Father. And finally make sure we don’t obscure God’s light in this world by putting a bucket over the light.

Pass the bucket please

Pastor Val