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December 10, 2012, 11:11 AM

But I like my chair...


Good Day Reader! 

So yesterday's sermon title was "MOVE!!!"  Its not often that I will admit this, but I immediately regret preaching that sermon.  Sigh.  You know why?  Because I like my chair, my big comfy recliner.  It has a lamp next to it, a table on which lie coasters for my tasty beverages, and it can hold my iPad AND a snack AND the remote at the same time.  About 10 feet in front of my chair is a television.  The trap is complete... all I have to do is walk in the living room and SNAP, I'm ensared like the tiger in Swiss Family Robinson.  I'm netted like Chewbacca, Luke, Han and the Droids in Return of the Jedi.  I need a sign that says "ITS A TRAP!!!!" right above the chair, because once I'm in.......I dont want to get up.  

Now, I take you to another of my favorite pastimes, Eating.  I got a fortune cookie that, for the first and last time, had a fortune in it that stuck with me.  It said:  "Many a false step is taken while standing still."  It blew my mind then, and it continues to push me to this day.  

Our third stop of the day is our nicely apportioned auditorium.  Its comfy, cozy, with padded seats and indirect lighting.  Its familiar.  Its a place where we know we belong, especially when we're surrounded by people we love.  But it has too much in common with my comfy chair.  It gets us sitting still for long periods of time...  I'm not saying what we do in the auditorium is not important!!!  What I am saying is that we cannot let ourselves think that those hours of sitting still fulfill our role as the Body of Christ.  Its the movement after the encounter that defines us.  Its the action of our lives lived within a world reeling from pain, and searching for answers that defines us.  Its the movement that exhibits our belief.  

Go back and spend some time with Micah 6: 1 - 8.  Answer the question in your life of What God Wants from YOU... See where Justice, Mercy, and Humility need to show themselves.  Understand that in order to accomplish Justice, Mercy, and Humility we have to DO, LOVE, and WALK.  

If you've met Jesus and things look the same now as they did before... something's wrong.  BIG TIME.  An encounter with the Savior ALWAYS resulted in action, movement, and change.  If your life, or worse your faith, has become sedentary things have to change.  Shake things up this week and DO, LOVE, and WALK!!! 

 

chris




December 3, 2012, 9:39 AM

But I like to Slouch......


Hello again! 

As I sit here typing, looking back up at the title that I just gave this entry, I cant help but notice that I am hunkered down in my chair with stooped shoulders and a good curve to my back.  I do not have good posture when I'm sitting at my computer.  In fact, lt me go through all of the areas where I think I need to improve my posture:  walking, running, sitting, standing, eating, sleeping, and maybe even leaning.  If I dont make myself aware of my posture, I'm going to slouch.  So, I'd like you to take a second and stretch out and then sit back down with a nice straight back.  Doesnt that feel better?  (yeah, I'm still in the same typing position... do as I say, not as I type).  

Now that you're sitting upright and breathing easier, we need to remind ourselves of the other kind of posture.  The one that communicates much more than "I dont stand up straight."  Remember this illustration from yesterday:  Men, which should you believe when approaching this situation:  A woman you love is standing tall, arms firmly crossed.  Her eyebrows are furled and there is only a line visible for a mouth.  When you naturally ask "Whats wrong, Honey?"  She replies: "NOTHING!"   Should you believe the words or the posture?  

If you guessed the words... you're probably single.  Of course you need to read the message she is sending you in her posture.  The body language is communicating that you are in trouble and you need to get to apologizing for everything you've done wrong... ever.  

Church, our body language communicates in a very similar way.  We have all the right words:  "WELCOME!!" or "JESUS LOVES YOU!!" or even "GOD BLESS YOU!"  Does our posture communicate the same message?  Do we have arms outstretched?  Do we offer helping hands?  Are we willing to get on their level in order to bring them into a closer relationship with Jesus?  If we use these words of welcome and greeting but then completely disengage from them to sit with our friends, what does that communicate?  When someone shares a prayer request or a need, do we acknowledge it with one of our "churchy" responses (oh, I'll pray for you) then walk away unphased and disengaged?  

I'm not trying to lay on the guilt, but this is too good of an opportunity to not use as an example.  At the Thanksgiving banquet on November 18th, I came down as one of the last people to join the meal after the morning services.  The fellowship hall was FULL!!  People were genuinely enjoying themselves and the atmosphere was truly thankful and festive.  However, at one table there was, sitting alone, a visitor.  She wasnt looking around, she was quietly concentrating on her plate of food.  Church, what were we communicating to her at that very moment?  Yes, our posture made us cold and unwelcoming while we were using words of thanksgiving and gratitude.  

Take some time to read John 8: 1 - 10 and Luke 19: 1 - 11 this morning, afternoon, or evening.  Dont just read it casually though, use your eyes.  SEE what Jesus did, SEE how Jesus used his posture to protect, heal, and show compassion.  After his posture communicated his intent, he was able to use words that cut to the core.  

Its time for the Body of Christ to use its body language to send a message of compassion, welcome, and love.  That requires us to stoop a little more, bend our backs in service a little more, and get our hands dirty as we grow the Kingdom.   

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November 26, 2012, 9:19 AM

Has Thanksgiving changed anything?


Good Week After Thanksgiving, Church Family!!!

As I reflect on the events of the past week, I have to wonder aloud: "Why did I eat so much?"  Its truly astounding how we dont catch the fact that we're full until we've devoured our third helping of everything on the main table and taken a turn at the dessert table!  But dont get me wrong, I'm THANKFUL!!!  There is nothing quite like eating that first piece of Pumpkin Pie (lathered with Cool Whip, of course) after craving it for a solid three months prior!!  

I hope your Thanksgiving break was about more than food though.  Its an exceptional day when even the talking heads and personalities on television are sharing that which with they are thankful. Amidst the parades, football, and expectations for grand dinners there is an air of family, and gratitude.  Its a lot like the peaceful vibes we get around Christmas.  And just like Christmas, the Thanksgiving season comes to an end.  

What comes next?  Where do we go from here?  

I hate to say this, but I'm sick of turkey.  Yes, I'm turkeyed out.  So I dont want to step back into another Thanksgivingly season anytime soon, unless we move to Pizza as our honorary meal.  So option number 1 of having an official Thanksgiving celebration every week is out.  What does that leave us with?  I guess what comes after Thanksgiving is up to us.  

Take some time to run back through Luke 17: 11 - 19 this week.  This was our sermon text this past Sunday.  Its a very Sunday School friendly lesson in being thankful.  But Church, this lesson goes way beyond Sunday School.  For too many, our worship and gratitude stops at simply saying "Thank You Jesus... You know, for all the great things you did for us..."  And then we move on. The gratitude doesnt change us, it doesnt  have a lingering affect on our attitudes, it doesnt seem to matter beyond those two words.  

Church, what comes after Thanksgiving is ACTION, SERVICE, and WORSHIP.  Being grateful is step number one in a lifelong journey lived at the feet of Jesus.  Just like the one leperous Samaritan who came back, our gratitude must lead us in the opposite direction of our selfish initiatives and back to the feet of the one we want to serve and emulate.  

 

What comes after Thanksgiving? Thats up to you.  

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November 19, 2012, 9:53 AM

I'd rather be stuck in Egypt...


Good Monday Church Family!

Thank You for an excellent morning of worship yesterday, and much thanks for the outstanding dinner afterward!  I'm still recovering from the onslaught of Thanksgivingly sustinance.  Remember though, that being outwardly grateful and thankful extends far beyond the month of November!!!

I was reminded yesterday that the sermon topic fell in line with one of the major story threads of the O.T. (Thanks Mike!!!), and I want to expound on that a little here.  Church, you just have to love the Israelites ("Bless Their Hearts").  They give us so much hope and present such a convicting story line.  Unfortunately, most of the hope they provide is the fact that we probably cant do things as backwards and goofy as they do.  I mean, honestly, they had God showing up in plain sight (pillar of cloud by day, pillar of fire by night, smoke and thunder on a mountaintop to name a few) and they still managed to gripe, complain, and whine themselves into 40 years of the best desert lifestyle.  This is on top of the display of God's power and majesty through the 10 plagues thrown upon the nation of Egypt that allowed them to walk, yes walk, out of Egypt after generations of captivity and slavery. 

Through it all, God understood the difficulty ahead; He understood how drastic a change it was going to be; and He knew the people were going to be in for a rough road.  Check out Exodus 13: 17 - 18. God made their path not the shortest, but the one of lesser resistance because he didnt want them whining immediately to go back to Egypt.  God's foresight here is truly profound (as it always is).  He understood the anxiety level the people were going through moving from slaves to freedom to the ultimate claiming of the Promised Land.  Its what they wanted and were crying out for for generations, but when it comes to the reality of freedom, independance, facing the "unknown", they proved themselves unprepared!  

So God saves them from battle right away and leads them to the edge of the Red Sea.  Read Exodus 14:10 - 12.  What God tried to avoid happening, happens.  "Why did you take us out of Egypt?  There were more than enough graves to bury us all there!!"    This thread continues throughout Isreal's travels, practically right up to the moment Jesus arrives (then afterward too).  They cry for deliverance, receive their freedom, then whine themselves back into trouble. 

Church, we fall into the same trap dont we?!  We cry for freedom in Christ... "FORGIVE US!!" "Deliver us from this world's grip!" And then we fall captive again to the lifestyle of sin, temptation, and indulgence.

God has heard our cries, he has paved the way to forgiveness, deliverance, and salvation.  And we get pulled back again and again by our reluctance to embrace our freedom in Christ and the lifestyle it creates in us.  

Does freedom in Christ mean that everything turns rosey and happy?  Nope.  Cancer is still cancer.  Divorce is still divorce.  Financial trouble is still financial trouble.  How we respond to what the world throws at us is what changes.  Or is what should change.  When we rid ourselves of the anxiety of separating ourselves from this world's desires, we allow ourselves to see things for what they really are: a temporary blip on our way to something greater!  This world is not our home... This battle you're facing is not the end... The hardships, while genuinely difficult to bear, are only going last a little while...  Something better is coming, the Promised Land is near.  

We have been freed from sin, freed from the world's greed. Does your life, do your words, do you reactions, do you friendships all reflect that?  Do we have that glazed over look on our faces that comes from being focused on things outside the pull of this world?  

I'm thinking Heaven sounds a lot more appealing than Egypt.  

 

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November 12, 2012, 10:18 AM

Did Jesus really NOT say that?!


Good Monday Readers!

Yesterday morning we walked through some of the changes and growth that we see develop in everyone's favorite Gospel friend, Peter.  From the very beginning of his calling Peter displays both raw dedication and the ability to believe Jesus' words at their most basic of levels (and the uncanny ability to overrule all of that in a fit of emotion!!).  

When Jesus calls him from the most amazing catch of fish he had ever seen, he interpreted "Follow Me" as "Follow Me".  I'm pretty sure you and I would hold fast in our shoes these days and have a list of questions to ask Jesus concerning all of the plans he left out of those two words.  We've become a society that questions everything, which in a way is a very good thing... but when it comes to the commands of Jesus, (who we must remember is the Son of God, and ALL authority was given to him), we need to throw those questions out the window and take him at his word.  

Take a tour back to John 6: 60 - 69 this week...  Really, go grab your Bible and get there.  Jesus confuses the people, disgusts them even by his analogy of his Body and Blood.  Many are so disgusted that they walk away.  They didnt wait around for the explanation, they didnt wait for the point to be laid clear, they just walked away.  

Jesus then turns to his closest friends and ask them "Are you leaving too?"

Church, we must be driven to the level of Peter's response here:  "Where else would I go Jesus?  Who else can compare to you?"

There is nothing that can compare to Jesus.  Nothing that speaks with his authority.  Nothing that lasts.  Nothing that trumps his Love.  Nothing that shakes his dedication to you.  Nothing that can hold a candle to the way he thinks about you.  

Yet we run.  And we turn to the world for our identity.  We turn to our peers to identify ourselves.  We turn to our wallets, we turn to our jobs, our titles, our status... 

This week, close your eyes, ears, and hearts to the voice of the world and its attempts to try and hand you an identity based on its standards.  Turn your eyes, ears, and hearts to the voice that cries out from the Cross, from the Empty Tomb, and from the realm of the Kingdom of God... its saying "Follow Me..."  

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