Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Feed My Sheep


This past Sunday my wife at I were sitting at a restaurant when a group of people were seated next to us. It quickly became apparent that these people were new acquaintances out to share a meal and getting to know each other. These people were “church people” and they loudly and proudly proclaimed their place in the church pecking order. Of course their conversation was coached with the utmost humble sounding words and phrases. Once couple was relatively new to their church and when asked why they left their previous church I heard an all too familiar excuse, “We just weren’t being fed.”  
No I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, they were just very loud and sitting next to me.
But I was amused at the couple’s excuse for leaving a church because they were not being fed. You see this comment has been a favorite excuse for many Christians. The reality is that Jesus charged the leaders of the infant church to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).
What does Jesus mean feed? Today in the 21st century most believers think of it as a passive learning process. We think of sitting through a sermon or attending a Bible study as being fed. What we really are saying when we say, "I haven't been fed much lately." Is really code for, "The Pastor's sermons are not connecting with me. I’m just not getting anything out of his messages. Therefore there must be something wrong with the Pastor, ‘cause it certainly can’t be me!”
What we are really saying is that we need to be spoon fed must like a baby. But Jesus picture of a good shepherd found in John 10 is one who leads hos sheep to a pasture for feeding. He doesn’t chew the grass for his sheep. They are expected to eat for themselves. His job is to lead them to places where they can graze. Additionally his job is to protect the flock from any and all harm. Finally the watchmen of John 10 were tasked with teaching the sheep to recognize their shepherd’s voice.
You see even today in the Middle East sheep are led not herded. They are trained to recognize the voice of their shepherd and to follow their shepherd wherever he leads them. (See John 10:4) As pastors, teachers and disciple makers aren't training our flocks to recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice than our sheep will inevitably go hungry.
Excuse me I think I hear my Shepherd calling
Pastor Val

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Signs & Wonders

Recently I’ve been wondering a lot about signs from God. One of the Bible studies I’ve been teaching just finished the Gospel of John (the 4th book of the New Testament of the Bible). In that book John chooses to use only seven signs (think miracles) to help to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Near the end of the book after Christ’s resurrection from the dead He appears to the disciples in a locked room. But Thomas one of the disciples was absent. When told about the others seeing Jesus risen from the dead Thomas states the he won’t believe unless he sees and examines the Risen Christ himself. Jesus suddenly appears and tells Thomas to check him out. The written account never indicates that Thomas does any physical checking but simply falls at Jesus feet and worships Him.

Jesus goes on to say that it’s one thing to see and believe but it is another thing all together to believe without seeing, without a sign. (see John 20:29)

Tom is not the only Biblical character who asks for a sign Gideon asks for one, too. But he isn’t satisfied with one sign he figures that God made a mistake so he asks for a second sign, just to make sure.

This got me to wondering about how God must feel about our asking for signs to confirm His leading. It seems that we never need a sign from God when it is something we want to do. But if we don’t want to do something we demand for a sign from heaven.

I heard a Christian comedian who tells a story about getting on an empty bus and telling God that if God wants him to witness then to send a person to the back of the bus and he would testify to his faith in Christ. God answered his prayer and soon a person entered the bus and moved to the back and sat down across form the comedian. This person asked him “Do you know anything about Jesus?” The comedian quickly prayed and asked for a second sign. “God is you really want me to witness to this person, than change the bus driver into an armadillo!”

I wonder how many of us can relate to that story. We know what to do, because it is a clear command in the Scripture but we don’t want to obey so we wait for a sign. When God gives us a sign we wave it off like a pitcher on the mound and ask for a better sign from the catcher.

I wonder if God get frustrated at my waving off His signs. After all… 

17  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
James 4:17 (NIV)

I was just wondering,

Pastor Val

Monday, March 11, 2013

Is the Antichrist alive today in the world?

This was a question recently posed to me. When I answered “Yes!” you should have seen the eyes of the questioner.

You know the next question – don’t you? “WHO is it?”

This has been a question that has plagued not only our generation but also every generation since the first century. We have head all kinds of answers to this question. During the first century the Emperor Nero was thought to be the antichrist. Martin Luther believed that the Pope of his day was the antichrist. Back in the 1940s there were people who thought it was Hitler. During my lifetime here are some of the more popular names that have been bandied about Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Pope Benedict XVI. Even leaders from America have been on the lists. I bet you can guess who some of them are. They include a couple of our former presidents – Bill Clinton & George Bush. Even our current president Barack Obama has not escaped this title.

What does the Bible have to say about this?

Well 1 John 2 teaches that there are many antichrists in the world today not just one.

The term Antichrist is never used in Scripture to identify a particular person. Rather Paul uses a number of titles to describe this person. Terms like “man of sin” and “son of perdition” the come from 2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV. Other translations call him the “man of lawlessness” and the “son of destruction.”

John in his book Revelation refers to two people (the false prophet and the beast) who scholars have identified as the ultimate Antichrist.

So what do I believe on the subject of the antichrist?

There are a number of facts that come from my study.
The only Biblical writer to us e this term is John in his epistles (think letters) to individual churches. You can check them out - 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7

In the Greek the term “anti” carries two meanings “against” and “instead of”

This spirit of antichrist has been present in the world since Satan declared war on God and helped bring about the fall of mankind (see Genesis 3). This person opposes and attempts to substitute for God.

There have been and will be many antichrists who embody this spirit and teach false doctrine. Anyone who denies Jesus Christ is the Son of God and has come in the flesh is an antichrist, regardless of how good of a speaker or teacher they might be!

And finally there will be a single person who will head up the ultimate rebellion against God and His Son in the last days and he could certainly be called the antichrist since he will attempt to replace Christ in the eyes and hearts of his followers.

Test the spirits and the teaching of those who come to you with Biblical teaching. If they are not teaching the truth of Christ the Apostle John calls them antichrists!

Teaching the truth

Pastor Val