Monday, April 10, 2017

Being Number One

As long as the world has existed there is this drive in people and nations to be number one. We see the world powers positioning themselves to show their dominance.  We see those not in power trying to put themselves in a position to move toward dominance.  Why is that?  Why do we need to be number one? Doesn't go back to the beginning in Genesis as Adam wanted to "like" God? Or Cain furious that his offering was not acceptable and kills his brother - his rival? Or the tower of Babel. Or Jacob and Esau. The stories go on.  Because of our sin nature we think about ourselves and as Richard Miller said, "I am the main character in my movie."  So, we do everything in our power to dominate, to be at the top of pyramid and then we are still not satisfied.
Psalm 131, "My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child in my soul with me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore." NIV
As long as we are proud we will strive and our souls with not be still and quiet.  As long as we are proud our hope is in ourselves and not in the Lord. This is the way of the world and we see the results.
This Psalm speaks to me, because I have been that person. Humility has not been my way of life.
Verse 1b, "I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me." This speaks of things that are beyond our understanding.  In other words, "I don't have to know it all, nor will I ever know it all" and thats okay.  What matters is that I place my hope in the Lord. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jesus First

As I watch the happenings of this nation I am deeply saddened. I pray for our nation and leaders.

We are a deeply divided nation where much vitriol is heard. Trump has stated over and over "America First"  This is to put America's interest above all others. This is about self interest. This is about "Me First".

John the Baptist stated that he was to decrease and Jesus was to increase. The Great Commandment tells us to love God with everything we have and then to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are then given the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (all ethnicities).

We who follow Jesus are to think outwardly, not inwardly. In other words it's not about me!
Beware of the "Me First" mentality.  Scripture tells us to look out for the welfare of others.

In the book of Acts, the first time "Christian" is used was not by those who claim to be Christian, but rather by those who were not followers.  It is because they saw that the people actually followed Jesus.  Jesus brings healing, not hatred. Jesus brings hope and not fear.

May others see the Christ in us the Hope of Glory. This will be seen in how we treat others who are different.  Remember it's not about us.  It starts with Jesus, ends with Jesus, and it's all about Jesus. Jesus first, not me first.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tying Flies

The only kind of fishing I do is fly fishing. I do it mainly in the streams of Montana.  I find it to be a time where I can enjoy the outdoors and relax. I look forward to these times. I also happen to make fly fishing flies, the simpler ones like prince and pheasant tail nymphs and dry flies like parachute adams, purple hazes and blue damsels.  These flies are to look like the real bugs and imitate their movements. They are not the real deal, but look like the real deal.  It's fun to make one and to catch a good size trout on one of them. When the trout bites it discover to late that they are "hooked".

This is the way of the world as well.  Jesus said that he wanted to make us fishers of men.  Guess what?  Satan is a fisher of men as well.  He uses "flies" to lure us to bite and before realizing it we are hooked. These flies of money, wealth, fame, power draw us and then destroy us if we are taken up with them.  We forget that the abundant life is not in things, but in Jesus. The world measures success in things and stresses to gain these things, which in the end leads really to nowhere.

So, what imitation flies have we been chasing?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


I, like many of you, have followed the political and social implications of the 2016 elections. Whether you agree or not we have a new president.  We are called to pray for our leaders, all of our leaders even when in disagreement.
Perhaps what concerns me is the implications regarding the Gospel.  Those who will be praying at the inauguration are from what has been called the "health and wealth", "name it and claim it" which is not the Gospel.
The Gospel is Christ died for our sins, rose again the third day in victory over sin and death. Throughout The Scriptures we are taught that our lives are to reflect Jesus. Acts 11:26 is the first time followers of Jesus are called Christians. They were called Christians by non-Christians because there lives demonstrated Jesus. I and many others have preached "that it begins with Jesus, ends with Jesus, It's all about Jesus. Yet sadly, in our lives and churches it is often not about Jesus, but about us and what Jesus will do for us.
My prayer in 2017 is that Christ will be center and not just on the periphery.  That those who do not believe will see that you are follower of Jesus by word and deed done in grace and love.
Fore some of us it will mean to rekindle, relighting the fire that has been allowed to dim.
May 2017 be the best year in terms of our growth in Christ and in our relationships for Christ.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Casualness and The Lord

I was meeting with Bob Rasmussen this week to catch up with each other.  We shared about what was going on in our lives and ministry.  What I enjoyed was that it was a surface conversation, but connecting on a real personal level.

During the conversation we also talked about "church" and what was taking place in many of the churches we have been to and observed.  We saw how casual we have become when it comes to gathering together for worship.  Many times when the worship begins there are more people on stage leading in worship than there are worshippers in the audience.  We kind of mosey into service as we would rather visit with friends we may not have seen for awhile. Now don't get me wrong we should interact with people prior to and after the service.  However, we are so casual we basically say, "The Lord can wait."

Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, "Walk prudently when you go into the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth, therefore let your words be few."

When we come to "church" we are to be reverent understanding we enter Holy Ground.  We call the meeting room often a sanctuary - that which is set apart - a holy place for the Lord. Are we entering  understanding this?  When we come do we understand we are not the Lord's peer?

Am I giving the sacrifice of a fool?  I pray that we enter we draw near to listen with reverence because He is worthy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bible Based or Biblical

I just returned from Ho, Ghana where I had the privilege of training pastors in leadership development and spiritual transformation. One of the sessions was from II Tim. 3:16.  The session was called "We Do Not Have The Right To Be Wrong".  We can be wrong, but we don't have the right to be wrong, especially, as pastors and teachers.  Scripture says we will have the stricter judgement.  We then looked at Matt. 1815-20 regarding, "Where two or more are gathered in my name".  We looked at the context and they were surprised how it has been taken out of context.

Yet even here in America we haven taken this verse out of context.
Scripture is to be our final authority on life and practice. Many say they as a church and as pastors that we are Bible based.  There are a lot of cults that use Scripture and use it wrongly.  So the issue is not be Bible based, but actually being Biblical.  This requires study - diligent study.
Are we willing to change if shown that we are wrong?  One of the pastors in Ghana asked, "If we know we have not preached truth after being found to be in error, do you admit it to your congregation?" What say you?  Do we perpetuate wrong teaching? Remember we receive the stricter judgement.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Does God Really Love Us?

I just returned from Uganda having lead approximately 175 pastors and church leaders. During question and answer times it was clear the measure of a follower of Jesus was based on exterior actions.  Fortunately, the main emphasis was on Spiritual Transformation.  It has gotten me to think of how many of us think along the same lines.  We focus on the externals, the doing, rather than on the internal, the being.  I believe it is because we fail to understand God's grace and what it means.

Maybe its because we don't really believe that God loves us.  We say that He loves us, but the way we live says otherwise.  We say He loves unconditionally, but the way we live says otherwise. There are some that teach we are saved by grace, but we are kept by works!  This leads to living a life that is a grind and walking on eggshells which is no fun at all.  If this is the case we live in fear and feels like abuse.

We quote John 3:16 and it does say He loves us intensely.  However, it is conditioned on our response and behavior to continue in that love.  If this is the case then, "What really saves us?"  Is it not by works? Is it not us that saves ourselves?  If this is the case then Jesus is only a beginning entrance, but not the final.  However, over and over in the Gospel of John we see an unconditional love.  That unconditional love applies to us as well.  The changed life, the spiritually transformed life is based on knowing we are accepted.

I was raised on a performance based acceptance. The Bible says that God loved us even while we were His enemies.  I trust in His love because Jesus believes in His Father's love.  This is freeing and allows me to live a life that pleases Him, not to get His love, but because I already have it.

Let's receive this sure and unconditional love, knowing we are accepted in Christ. We do the good works not to get His love because we already have it.  I will take a look at what happens when we receive this love.