Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tiny Church

The devil used a frumpy lil' teen girl to tell me how irrelevant I am.

She walked into the sanctuary last night and said to the girl who invited her to an overnight teen activity, in earshot if the whole group, "Your church is so tiny! It's so....tiny!"

Boom, the devil hit me where it hurts the most, in my pride, in my need for relevance, in my drive for validation. "See, punk, you are nothing, a big fat zero with the middle knocked out. Your entire life, the complete body of your life's work is boiled down to the truth and honesty of a pubescent, pony-tailed kid. You're a loser, and the sum total of your existence amounts to 'it's so tiny!'"

Well, she was right. I am a mighty small cog, relegated to a flyover spot, laboring  amongst the predominant religions of Luther and Constantine. Trying to carve a work for God out of the granite of good works. And honestly, it hurts to be surmised as miniscule, reduced in one careless but demonically inspired exclamation to "tiny."

I wish I could find comfort in platitudes such as big things come in small packages. I don't have to "not despise the days of small things," I am living them. And I hate to be reminded, but the devil knows those malicious whispers of half truths cripple me most.

I do take umbrage in the realization that this tiny cog serves a purpose. With the viscosity of the Holy Ghost, this cog helps move the mighty engine of an institution that will never suffer the spoils of victory to be gained by the gates of hell.

Our tiny edifice houses holy, praiseful, perpetually revived saints passionately bent on winning the world through personal soul-winning and world-wide missions efforts.

I hate to get into a "mine's bigger than yours" contest with this teeny bopper, but I wonder how many souls are won at her cathedral? How many services result in a full altar with people committing to what they just experienced? What percentage of her fellow parishioners give a large portion of their time, talent and tithe to God? How many of their missionaries win how many souls, planting how many churches?

Yes, young lady, your denomination cuts a wide swath 'round these parts, but what good is it to send people to hell with the phrase invented here falling from their lips, "No thank you, I have my own religion."?

And let me remind you, lord of the flies, you gut punched me again with your discouraging taunts but I confidently remind you that strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

So, I will stand tomorrow with my average sized church in our tiny building and render worship to our all-time, undefeated, undisputed God of glory. I read the back of the Book and we win!
Meanwhile, your people will be snoozing in their temples of ritual as uninspired clerics drone their homilies, rehash their lifeless liturgies, sprinkle their babies and conduct their useless rituals.

But I put you on notice, we are coming after some of those religious adherents, we are going to be there when their religion fails and we will introduce them to our great Savior, see their lives transformed, and welcome them into our tiny church. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Holy Week!

This is my favorite week of the year. I find myself meditating much more on our Lord’s passion: His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, His cleansing of the Temple, the Last Supper, the betrayal by Judas, the Lord’s final instructions, He arrest, trial and Crucifixion, and His glorious Resurrection.

I tend to live a more holy life during this annual commemoration than at other times during the year as I carefully consider that I owed a debt  I couldn’t pay, while He paid a debt He didn’t owe.

On Wednesday of Holy Week, we always show the death of the Lord by observing the Lord’s Supper. Involved in that observance is the introspection required of the partakers. “Let a man examine himself” taught the Apostle Paul, before taking the bread and the wine.

On crucifixion day, I find myself walking and working in a sort of a fog, trying to grasp the reality of Christ, the pure, innocent Son of God, dying for a worm like me.

I spend the next couple of days in anticipatory excitement, knowing that the greatest day of this impactful week it the last day, the culmination of redemption by the glorious Resurrection of Jesus by the fantastic power of Almighty God.

I hope that you will be transported this week from the mundane to the spiritually sublime as you meditate day by day on our Lord’s passion for your soul. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Who Is Jesus

Who is Jesus? Mark 6

As Jesus taught in the synagogue, those hearing Him were astonished at HIm and at His words.

The People's Questions About Jesus
1. From whence hath this man these things?
2. What wisdom is this which is given unto him?
3. ...that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
4. Is not this the carpenter?
5. ...the son of Mary?
6. ...the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon?
7. Are not his sisters here with us?

He answers by word and deed:
1. A prophet    4
2. A teacher    6
3. A healer    5
4. A provider  7-8, 41
5. A shepherd   34
6. A miracle worker   41-44, 55-56
7. A water walker   49

Who is Jesus to you?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Who is Jesus?

 Mark 6

As Jesus taught in the synagogue, those hearing Him were astonished at Him and at His words.

The People's Questions About Jesus:
1. From whence hath this man these things?
2. What wisdom is this which is given unto him?
3. ...that even such mighty works are wroght by his hands?
4. Is not this the carpenter?
5. ...the son of Mary?
6. ...the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon?
7. Are not his sisters here with us?

He answers by word and deed:
1. A prophet    4
2. A teacher    6
3. A healer    5
4. A provider  7-8, 41
5. A shepherd   34
6. A miracle worker   41-44, 55-56
7. A water walker   49

Who is Jesus to you?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Other Side of the Sea - Mark 5:1-19

You know, that little body of water, Galilee, Genessaret, Chinneroth, saw way more than its share of ministry and miracles. Whether on the sea itself or on one of its banks, Jesus did a lot of work that changed history. Consider Peter walking on the water, a fish with a coin in its mouth, the great catch of fish that almost sank the boats, The Lord’s prayer (version II), the Sermon on the Mount, “Peace, be still!”

In this account, Jesus compels His minyan to sail to the other side of the sea to a place where Jews didn't often go – Gadara. It was a short-term mission trip.

I find a poignant missionary truth in this story:

What's on the other side of the sea?

1. Foreigners! (vs 1) Culture, language, tradition, heritage, religion – everything is unfamiliar on the other side. What the disciples ran into when they ran aground was eye-opening and jaw-dropping. One of them might have said, “Dorothy, we ain’t in Kansas no more!” Indeed, crossing the lake put them a world apart from the usual fare. Here, there are no Pharisees badgering them, no tax collectors harassing them, no temple tops gleaming in the sun. Just raw difference. God never called His servants to living lives of comfort, but He does call them/us carrying crude crosses. It may not be Club Med awaiting you when you dock. 

2. Men (and Women) in need. The first man to greet them was the man most needy. This particular one is demonized.

*He lived among the tombs (he was spiritually dead, what better place to haunt?) 
*He was possessed with an unclean spirit (it happens here too. The demons of drugs, lust, etc.) 
BTW: The demons within were called Legion, that is, there were many spirits.
*He was bound with fetters (that is, he was chained to his sin)
*He was exceedingly wild (no man could tame him)

Every lost person you encounter is no better or worse off than this man. The demons which keep them from the cross may be more subtle, but they are every bit as insidious and effective as this maniac.

But, Praise the Lord, Jesus came! Someone cared enough to go to the other side where a great need existed among many people in great need.
*This man saw Jesus (as opposed to what he had been seeing – darkness of the worst kind)
*This man ran to Him. He ran away from everything else – this is repentance. The demons urged him away from Jesus, away from deliverance, but he was compelled toward salvation.
*This man worshiped Him – to his knees and to his face he dropped before the only One Who had the power to save him from his misery.

3. Demons on a Mission. Remember the ministry that Satan has! To steal, kill and destroy. In the 3rd world his work often looks much different than its manifestations here in “Christianized” America. But the end goal is the same. Abbaddon/Apollyon, the Destroyer has one set of goals, destroy lives, damn souls to hell and get back at God for expelling him from heaven.

Note: We must be very careful to separate the demons from the demonized. On demons, we must have no mercy. On the victim, we must have compassion. Jesus went out of His way for the man, not the devils.

Consider this, who was really speaking, the man or the devils? Who was really acting bizarre? It was the demons within using the man without. We wrestle not with flesh and blood.

4. Swine Feeding! On the other side of the sea, we will find disgusting, cannibalistic, suicidal pigs. There is nothing kosher on the other side. All of our societal taboos are turned on their heads in Gadara. You will not be comfortable when you cruise to the other side. There, they may speak Pig Latin, and you don’t even eat bacon!

5. Fear!  (vs 15) Why were people afraid? As a result of Christ’s power, the man was now sitting, clothed and in his right mind (possibly now he was left handed? I’m just sayin’).

*They were afraid of change. Can you imagine? Their comfort zone included a demon possessed, naked, uncontrollable mad man who lived in the grave yard!!! They'd rather have the familiar with its discomfort than a Savior that will change everything. 

*They were afraid of the unknown. Never had this kind of power been displayed. Exorcism, deviled ham, changed life, a new normal. No possessed men terrorizing the graveyard, no swine feeding on a hillside. "Demons? We know. Salvation? Not so sure about that!"

Men are gripped by, yea, frozen by fear. “What if I do get saved? Will I be ostracized by my peeps? Will I ever get to have fun again? Will I have to learn Christianese? Will the church demand all my money?”  

As they say, you don't know what you don't know! 

6. On the Other Side - A New Missionary (18-19)
Goodness! Without a day of discipleship, this man went from demoniac to so soul-winner, from crazed loony to being in his right mind. Hopefully, on the other side of the sea, we will find some lives so transformed that the mission target becomes the missionary. 

Perhaps today, you will feel a heavenly nudge to go across the sea, or across the street, out of your “normal” and into some foreign, demonized, needy and fearful part of the world to find the next target of God's grace, and possibly, the next missionary. If so, go! You have been given the promise of His presence and power to present His message. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Parable of the Sower - The Key to All Parables.

And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?   4:13

It is said that Jesus taught 46 parables in the Gospels. Being as how this was one of the chief methods of communication by the Man Who spake as no man ever spake and taught with authority like no other, It is best for us to know the basics of the parable.

I thank "" for the following insight for parables:

A parable is, literally, something "cast alongside" something else. Jesus' parables were sorties that were "cast alongside" a truth in order to illustrate that truth. His parables were teaching aids and can be thought of as extended analogies or inspired comparisons. A common description of a parable is that it is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. 

We find, in verse 2, this parable being introduced as Jesus teaching them "in His doctrine." Which simply meant that the parable was His conveyance of His instruction. 

So, in brief, what key does this parable offer for the unlocking of all of the 45 other parables?

Mainly the following:

God sows the seed of the Word of God into the field, which is the world (more specifically, the heart of the individual). That ground is either receptive to the seed, or is not conducive to its germination, growth and fruitfulness.

I feel that the field (heart) referred to is the individual heart of every individual to whom the seed is introduced, including believers.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon me, individually, to be receptive to God's Word however it is conveyed to me; whether by my reading, hearing or meditation. If I prepare my heart to be receptive to the seed of the Word, it will find good ground and will reproduce in me abundantly.

This prepares my heart to receive the teachings of all of my Lord's parables and teachings. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

30 things happened when you purposefully skipped church

1. You forsook the assembly
2. You disobeyed the Savior
3. You were a bad example to others, including your kids and the other children of the church
4. You missed the spiritual meals prepared especially for you
5. You failed to be admonished and edified
6. You failed to admonish and edify others
7. You diminished the importance of Christ's bride
8. You showed you don't love that which Jesus loved so much, He gave Himself for it
9. You disappointed your pastor
10. You missed the huddle about how your church is going to impact the world
11. You became a weak link in the chain
12. You missed the opportunity to tithe
13. You didn't contribute to missions
14. Your place in the congregation was empty
15. Your praise was not voiced in collective worship
16. You missed the prayer requests of those brothers and sisters who could have used your prayer
17. You were not able to weep with those who weep
18. You missed the opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice
19. You didn't have the chance to respond to the altar call
20. You missed meeting with Jesus Who said, in the context of the church, where two or three are gathered...
21. You missed, so others who look to you missed also
22. You began your downward slide toward being "out of church"
23. Your part of/in the body didn't function
24. You devalued the worth of your church
25. You removed yourself from the spiritual blessings and protection offered in the church
26. You revealed your priorities
27. You were a poor testimony to lost family and neighbors
28. You were unable to share your burdens with your spiritual family
29. You failed to be inspired by the missionary report
30. You were not moved to tears and shouts when a new believer came out of the waters of baptism

But hey, you were on Facebook, so, yeah, you're good!