Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

05
Feb
09

Sharing the Gospel

the_burning_bushExodus 4:10 – But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

God called Moses, a shepherd at this point in his life, to lead the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  This is just one of his many excuses he gave as he stood barefoot before the burning bush.  Basically he said, “I’m not a good speaker, Lord.  Get someone else!”  Surely inspirational, charismatic speaking would be helpful to convince not only the Israelites but Pharaoh himself that it was time for God’s people to be free.  A little persuasion would be helpful.  Moses didn’t think he had it in him.  His Egyptian was a bit rusty after 40 years watching sheep in the desert.

Like Moses there are times when God wants us to speak for him, to speak his word, to share the good news that Jesus saves and forgives.  How often we feel the same way Moses did.  Maybe we say the same things he said.  “I can’t speak.  I’ll studder.  I’ll hem and haw, and turn red, and people will think I’m weird.  I’ll leave that stuff for the extraverts.”

The good news is the Gospel, the story of the person of Jesus, who he was and is, his death, and resurrection, and what he’s done in our lives.  When sharing the gospel it’s really great if you’re a gifted speaker, but it’s not essential.

When it comes to sharing the gospel, it’s not about you, or the technique.  The most important thing is the message itself.  In fact our limitations when sharing the gospel make us more relatable.  People see we’re real.  God ends up using our limitations to build connection.  Even in our weakness we can be used for God’s glory.  In Romans 1:16 Paul writes – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…

 

31
Dec
08

Happy New Year

I thank God for all that he’s done in 2008. He’s blessed us beyond our greatest dreams. 2009 we pray will be a year of greater service for his glory. We’re so happy that God gave us the opportunity to pastor such a great church. We love you all.

13
Nov
08

The Dangers of Porn

7363040Sadly pornography has become a multibillion-dollar industry in our country.  It is so private and easy to access.  Just one click of the mouse, in the confines of a cubicle, or a person’s basement is all it takes.  No one has to know.

The lure for many is too great.  Pornography is like a drug.  It releases chemicals in our brain that produce a rush of adrenaline, a kind of high.  It creates a temporary release.  It’s a distraction from the pressure of the real world.  It creates a moment of fantasy. 

Like a drug, after we view it once we want it again.  Over time our senses become callused and we need more of it to get the same stimulation.  Harder and harder kinds of porn are eventually needed to produce the same rush.  Over time our minds become completely warped.  At best pornography will cause sexual frustration, perversion, and anger that will damage and destroy a healthy marriage.   At worst it will lead to violence, rape, child molestation, and even murder.

Check out some of these stats (http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php)

As of 2003, there were 1.3 million pornographic websites; 260 million pages (N2H2, 2003).

The total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide (Internet Filter Review).

U.S. adult DVD/video rentals in 2005: almost 1 billion (Adult Video News).

Hotel viewership for adult films: 55% (cbsnews.com).

Unique worldwide users visiting adult web sites monthly: 72 million (Internet Filter Review).

Number of hardcore pornography titles released in 2005 (U.S.): 13,588 (Internet Filter Review).

Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction: 10%; 28% of those are women (internet-filter-review.com).

More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month (comScore Media Metrix).

More than 20,000 images of child pornography posted online every week (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 10/8/03).

Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children (National Center for Mission & Exploited Children).

“At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said the Internet played a significant role in the divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. Pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago.” (Divorcewizards.com)

What are we to do?  In Matthew 5:29-30 Jesus said, So if your eye – even if it is your good eye – causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your boy than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your hand – even if it is your stronger hand – causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Don’t go gouge out your eye, please!  But do take some drastic measures.  Confess your sin to a trusting, godly, prayerful friend.  Repent of your sins and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ.  Take your computer out of your basement and put it in the kitchen where the whole family can see what you’re doing.  Better yet, consider unplugging the computer all together.  Pray and ask God to renew your mind.  Begin to meditate upon God’s Word.

 

04
Nov
08

How Thomas Bilney Came to Christ

thomas_bilneyThomas Bilney was born near Norwich in 1495.  He was very studious, and would go on to attend Oxford where he earned the degree of doctor of laws and was ordained as a priest.  But neither his study nor his ordination brought him any peace.  He was trying to find rest for his soul through good works, going to mass, taking communion, denying his appetites, and dead religion, but nothing worked.

Then one day he opened up a copy of the newly translated Greek New Testament, a translation that was forbidden by the Catholic church.  He locked himself in his room and the first verse that caught his eye was 1 Timothy 1:15, where the Apostle Paul writes, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

Thomas Bilney realized that if Jesus Christ could save someone like Paul, an angry, violent, murderous, arrogant enemy of the gospel, there was hope for him.  He would write about that moment, “This one sentence, through God’s instruction and inward working…did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that even immediately I seemed unto myself inwardly to feel a marvelous comfort and quietness, insomuch that “my bruised bones leaped for joy!” (http://www.williamtyndale.com/0bilney1.htm)

Bilney was a quiet man, but he began to pray for others to come to Christ.  God used him to lead some of the professors at Oxford to Christ, and many others who would be the great leaders of the English Reformation – a revolution that brought much needed religious freedom.  When he shared the gospel he told his personal story and often pointed them to 1 Timothy 1:15, the verse that changed his life. 

He was later arrested for preaching the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ alone, and would be burned at the stake for his commitment to Jesus, but by this time it was too late.  Too many had been changed and inspired by his witness.  The wheels of the English Reformation were rolling.

Paul’s testimony changed Bilney’s life.  Bilney’s testimony changed the lives of many others.  What’s your testimony?  One of the greatest ways to share the gospel is by sharing your personal testimony.  It will encourage others and they’ll say, “If God can change him or her, I know he can change me too.”  So, humble yourself.  Be transparent.  Ask God to help you see yourself as a sinner, saved and forgiven by grace and grace alone.  Then open your mouth and share how your life has been changed, and watch what God will do.

20
Aug
08

A Great Night for the Church

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, has started what is called the Saddleback Civic Forum.  Their church and political action ministry hosted a question and answer night with the two presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain.  The event was televised live on CNN.  This was the first time the two candidates met publicly to openly discuss the issues, and it was at a Christian church.  This was a history making moment.

Rick Warren began the night by saying something like, “Welcome to Saddleback Church.  I want you to know that we believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and state.  We all have a worldview, and faith is simply a worldview.  The candidates that are here tonight and myself, we disagree on a number of issues.  I think it’s time that we are allowed to disagree without demonizing each other.”  He then went on to introduce Senator Barack Obama, and he had what I thought was an informative, friendly, revealing time of discussion.  Then came John McCain, who answered the exact same questions.

I remember an earlier day of political engagement that was much different.  The men who led the church to become more politically active are men that I admire.  Often though at times, they took their stand on issues in such a way that it repelled others.  It was, “We’re right and you’re wrong!”  Never would we allow a liberal democrat in the doors of the church to speak publicly about the issues for fear vulnerable Christians might be led astray.

Rick Warren made me proud to be a Christian.  He’s helping re-image the evangelical Christian. There is no doubt that he is a conservative and a Christian.  He preaches the Bible and believes in the authority of God’s Word.  But, he’s not angry.  He’s willing to listen.  He’s not afraid to let the church hear both sides speak, trusting them to make up their own minds.  He’s given us room to disagree without demonizing.  

 

12
Aug
08

What does it mean to be “Spirit-filled”?

During our Kids Going Bananas Day Camp I drove the bus.  Our bus was a generous gift that God has used in wonderful ways.  There are a few problems on the old ’84 International.  One big one is the gas gage is broken.  You never know when you’re running low.  The previous owner placed a bright green sticker on the dash, “Gas gage does not work.  Fill up after 100 miles just to be safe!” 

Driving the bus with all those kids on board, I didn’t want to run out.  Maybe I had enough to get me through the day at times.  Just to make sure, regularly I would pull into the station to fill up, and praise God we never ran out.

Like that old bus, you need gas.  You need the Holy Spirit to keep going.  You don’t have an exact gage to let you know, “Hey!  You’re going to run out today!  You’re going to stall, and leave you family, your kids, you wife, your co-workers hanging!”  It’s important to get regular fill ups just to be sure.  You can’t drive a bus without gas, and you can’t operate the Christian life on your own strength, without the Holy Spirit.

I think one of my constant challenges is just making time to stop and spend time filling myself up with the life, and presence, and power of God.  In the morning when I first get up, my first instinct is to exercise, read the paper, read a book, check my email, check my voice mail.  All those things can crowd out the free space in my life for the still, small voice of God.

Living the Spirit filled life is daily asking Christ to be the Lord of your life.  You continually yield yourself to him.  It’s taking time to submit yourself to your Creator each day.  As we grow closer in our relationship with Christ we’ll always find more areas we need to surrender over to him.  Being Spirit-filled is yielding all of myself, as much as I know how, to all that I know of Jesus at that moment in my life.

Ephesians 5:18-20 says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,  20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”