• QUOTE FOR TODAY

    "God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation…Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose."
    -- John Piper

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  • James 2:14-17

    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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Focus on Worship: Sunday….In His Presence

On more than one occasion this week, I had people make some reference to the fact that it ‘was almost Friday.’

 

“At least tomorrow’s Friday”

“Is it Friday yet?” (Asked on Monday!!)

“The week’s half over…Friday’s comin’”

(…and this morning:  Finally, it’s Friday!)

I know there’s a ton of reasons why people long for it to be Friday (They get to be in the presence of their friends at the party or at the bar.  They cling to the shallow victory that work is done for a few days.  Friday somehow means that responsibility is over and they don’t have to answer to anyone, sleep, ), but with the prevalence of this question over the last few days, it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say:

 

“Sunday’s coming”

“I can’t wait for Sunday”

“Is it Sunday yet?”

(OK, there’s the Monster Truck Rally guy:  Sunday, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!! But that doesn’t count).

 

The point is this:  The world wants it to be Friday for a slough of reasons, but do we, as Christ followers look forward to Sunday with the same enthusiasm?  Do we, as worship leaders look forward to Sunday as that time when we lead God’s people into his presence?  Are we praying that God will flood the meeting place with his presence?  Do we long to be in the presence of the Holy One?…..as always, I’m asking you these questions but I’m really asking myself these questions.

I think this topic was generally on my mind after listening to our worship set for this Sunday.

Every week, I put the songs for Sunday on my ipod, in order, and will listen to them during my devotional time, or my commute, or sometimes while I’m working.  This practice started as a way to simply learn the songs, but it has become about preparing for Sunday.  God continues to use this time to point out lyrics that I believe he wants to have an impact…words that we sing and need to sincerely and earnestly mean.

Check out these lyrics:

“Here I am….I’ve come to find you”  (You, you are God – Gateway Worship)

 “I’m reaching for you, I’m singing to you”  (Reaching for You – Lincoln Brewster)

 “You are my world, you are my God” (Hillsong)

And Finally:

 “Lord hear our song…your children worship…as we sing your praise would You make this a place for Your glory to dwell” (Jared Anderson)

 Sunday worship should be about meeting with God and asking him to make our sanctuary and place where his glory will dwell.

Is it Sunday yet?

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Jumping In

Kristen at We Are That Family wrote this post titled Someone is Waiting for you to Jump In yesterday.  Would you take a minute, head over to her blog and read the post?  After that would you begin praying about where God might want you to jump?  Here’s a little excerpt to challenge you:

And the truth? Standing at cliff’s edge, we wanted to say no. We asked if there was another way. We researched and begged. We cried it is too big, we can’t, we are afraid, we don’t know how.  We don’t want to love mercy.

We didn’t throw caution to the wind. We didn’t just jump into the chasm of the unknown.

We jumped into the very hands of God.

Why? Why do the uncomfortable? Why go beyond the comfort zone and risk so much? Every one of us has a unique purpose for our lives and our blogs. It’s a risk finding that purpose. It leaves you exposed and open to criticism and fear and failure.

  Would you also pray about helping them with Mercy House?

My Prayer

Jesus, I need to give myself up.  I am not strong enough to love You and walk with You on my own.  I simply can’t do it!  I need you.  I need You deeply and desperately.  I believe you are worth it, that you are better than anything in this world, yet day in and day out all of the other stuff of this world gets in the way.  I want you and I want to be focused long enough to remember that.  Help me to focus on you so that I remember that you are worth it when I am faced with temptation, or laziness, or doubt, or fear.  Help my unbelief.

 I want to want you, yet my flesh is weak and craves what the world offers.  I know I can’t surrender fully without your strength, so please send it.  Be all in me.  Take all of me.  Have your way.  I will resist, but remind me that you are the better way.

I am the Way

In John 14 Jesus encourages and comforts the disciples, especially Thomas, with the familiar statement:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

For me this is crystal clear.  Especially in the context of the rest of John 14 and the multitude of miracles Jesus performed in the name of The Father.  When I read this passage (and many other passages) I am saddened by a recent report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  You can read a news story on the report here or link directly to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The report indicates that 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict with traditional evangelical teaching.  Most notably, 70% of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.

So, between 60% and 70% of people who either have a religious affiliation, or are regular evangelical church attenders have no idea that the Bible says that the way to Heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ, and accepting him as one’s personal Savior.  This is not about Non-believers.  This is not about agnostics or atheists.  This is about people who either attend church regularly or would claim to wear some kind of religious label.  70% of those people who have darkened the door of a church with at least some regularity have no clue that Faith in Jesus Christ is the way to Heaven.  Those same people say that the Bible has many different interpretations. 

I have to ask a few things:  When did this happen?   How did we get so far off track?  Is this because too many pastors have pulled back from preaching the true word of God?  Do people want to be entertained?  Are the so called Mega-Churches too concerned with their book stores, and coffee bars, and full collection plates that they can’t even effectively communicate that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven? 

D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist of religion said it best:  “The survey shows religion in America is, indeed, 3,000 miles wide and only three inches deep,”  

Pray for revival in our churches.  Pray for revival in our cities and towns.  Pray that God will convict people of their sin and church leaders of their misleading ways.

Why do I still sin?

I was looking at my blog stats this morning.  Someone out there searched for:

“accepted christ why do i still sin?”

I thought it would be good to talk about this a little bit this morning.  I suppose the short answer is because you are still human.  Beyond that, satan wants you back.  I don’t know a single believer in Christ who doesn’t struggle with sin on a daily basis.  Simply accepting Christ as your personal Savior isn’t enough.  It’s not like some magic pill that magically takes away your desire to keep sinning.  (It does take away your sin…washes you white as snow).  Part of following Christ is literally following him.  It’s about learning to be like him, even though you never can be exactly like him.  He was/is perfect, but you are sinful by nature.   

You will continue to sin.  God doesn’t want you to, but he looks at your heart.  He knows that you struggle with it.  He knows if you have a repentant heart.  He knows if your sin troubles you, or if you still secretly want to live in it and with it. 

So, how do you move on?

Pray.  Pray for forgiveness from your past sins, and pray that God will deliver you from situations where you will be tempted.  Pray for wisdom and discernment. Pray for strength in every situation. 

Decide.  Decide that you want to live for God.  This means you have to exercise self control and discipline.  If you know you are struggling with a particular sin, make sure you don’t put yourself in situations where you likely sin.  Frankly, this has to be an all consuming process, because satan wants to creep in when you least expect it. 

Choose. Choose to live by the fruits of the Spirit.  You can choose hatred or love.  You can choose to be forceful and demanding or you choose to be gentle and kind.  You can choose to complain or you can choose to be patient.  You can choose to be angry or you can choose joy.  You can choose to live in your sin or you can choose to turn from it and live for God.  You have to make this choice every day.

Lincoln’s Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day

 

Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day

Washington, D.C.
March 30, 1863Senator James Harlan of Iowa, whose daughter later married President Lincoln’s son Robert, introduced this Resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863. The Resolution asked President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The Resolution was adopted on March 3, and signed by Lincoln on March 30, one month before the fast day was observed.

By the President of the United States of America.A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

 


Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.

When God Cleared His Throat

It’s funny how we need to keep going back to the Source of power in our lives. You’d think we’d just stay there, wouldn’t you?  Without even realizing it I was growing complacent. I guess it was kind of sneaking up on me. Regular time alone with God every day. Church on Sunday. Prayer on Wednesday night.

Then it came, like God was sitting behind me in church last Sunday and all he had to do was ‘clear his throat’ You know, the way a dad gets his sons attention when something is awry?Right there in the middle of the message, my pastor starts talking about all the stuff that we do that is a total waste of time.  You know what I’m talking about?  Yes, distractions.  He had a few things on his list that wouldn’t necessarily be on my list, but the point is, I know there are things I do that don’t always ‘bear fruit.’  Here are a few things on my list:

Reading and forwarding totally unimportant emails

Reading articles at foxnews.com and NASCAR.com. 

Talk Radio—although there are some redeeming qualities here

Adventure Fiction novels (Clancy, Cussler, Coontz, etc) 

I have to admit, this is the second “wake up call” in the last few months.  A while back Pastor points out that “if we claim to be Christians, but we aren’t reaching out to the lost then we may not be the Christian we claim to be.” This message came before the offering. It wasn’t part of the sermon for the day. I think God just placed it on his heart. (Maybe just to get my attention, I don’t know.) No one was taking notes. No one saw it coming, but there it was. And he kept on going. “You need to be praying for your co-workers….You need to be living like Christ every minute…Invite your friends to church, if they won’t come, bring it to them. Stand in the gap for your friends, neighbors, and everyone else who is apart from God” and then the big one:

“I am praying that God will make you BOLD”

Whoa!

At home later that day, the kids were playing and I was making eggs and such (our usual routine again!) My wife sensing the ‘mood’ I was in asked what was wrong. I laid it out there for her. I explained that just as I was getting comfortable in where I was at with God goes and pushes me further. He makes me examine everything (again.) Asks me to step back and take inventory. My wife (in her wisdom) just left me to continue pondering.So, I am going to ask you a few things.   What are you doing that isn’t bearing fruit.  Don’t take this to mean you can’t have hobbies or relax now and then, but when you engage in a particular activity, is there something better you could be doing.  Combine that with this question:  What are you doing for the Kingdom?   

It’s no coincidence that these little messages within the message were designed to go together.  Maybe God has cleared his throat for you too, huh?

My prayer will be for boldness. For me, and for you too.

Blessings