Archive for January, 2011

Trusting God when life hurts pt2.

01/20/2011

Question? Is God in control???
Answer: Yes.
Proof: “God…is the blessed controller of all things, the king over all kings and the master of all masters”

Our world would generally have us feel that God is one of two things. He is either “good and not all-powerful” or “powerful and not all good” and they would have you believe that you cannot have it both ways. However, the Bible teaches us that we DO have it both ways. We Christians are generally quick to praise God for the good things that happen yet reluctant to attribute the bad things that happen to Him. But, when you think this way, you reduce God’s control over your life to a casual “stop and go” or “in and out” type of control. We so often mistakenly believe that we are the masters of our own fates. That is the modern vision, and sadly so. Like it or not folks, the fact is simple. God never pursues HIS glory at the expense of the good of HIS people, nor does HE ever seek our good at the expense of HIS glory. If you are going to learn to trust Him during the hard times, we must first believe that He won’t do anything to tarnish His glory therefore he won’t allow anything to spoil the good HE is working out in us and for us. Not only did God create the universe but Scripture tells us that He also sustains it day by day and minute by minute. Nothing in all of creation acts independently from Him. The laws of nature operate and function because HE allows them to. We may never understand His power but we need to recognize that it is very real. “As God’s rule is invincible, so it is incomprehensible.” When Jesus spoke about the sparrows staying in the air because God willed them to, he proved this (Matt 10:29-31). God did not create us, to turn and walk away to leave us to the mercy of uncontrolled random events. Take this story for instance:

*A Christian man flew out-of-state to give his testimony at an evangelistic meeting, taking his son with him. On the way home an electrical storm caused the plane to crash. Both were killed. A Christian friend, trying to comfort the grieving wife/mother of the two said to her “One thing you can be sure of is that God had no part in that accident”. Now…..according to that friend, God was apparently looking the other way when the storm hit the plane. This would contradict the words of Jesus HIMSELF and indicate that a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without our Father in Heaven’s will, but a plane with Christian people in His service can…..this is absurd to think about.*

In closing,

God is always in control. He is never even frustrated. “No one can hold back God’s hand or say to Him: ‘What have you done?'” (Daniel 4:35)

God Bless
Chris

Advertisements

Be Inspired in 2011

01/12/2011
Signature of Benjamin Franklin.

Image via Wikipedia

Quick note before I start, there is an old expression that I have heard many people use to excuse the fact that they need space in their relationships: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. I would like to correct and to that courtesy of Benjamin Franklin who said: “Absence sharpens love but being present strengthens it”. It is hardly effective to walk away from a problem and expect it to be fixed, you might as well put a band-aid on a gaping wound.

We all are looking to this new year for a fresh start. Be it financial, relational, professional, etc. Just keep in mind that “Nothing is impossible with God(LUKE1)”. The God I serve, and I hope you do, will meet all of your needs. It is right there in the Word, in Philippians Chapter 4. Those of us who were at SCC on 1/2 learned, or were reminded that we serve a Heavenly Father who is caring, close to us, dependable, & capable.(Pastor Ricky Mosel) In Romans 8 we read that NOTHING can separate YOU from GOD’S love. So regardless of what troubles may come just know that he is ever-present and in control if you will but allow him to be.

“God is our refuge & strength(PS46)”

***Before I close, I wanted to tell you about a great event for charity that you can participate in.  In the same spirit of the march of dimes and many cancer walks, CCFA, Crohn’s and Colitis Foudation of America is having  “Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis” at Centennial Olympic Park on Sunday, May 15 at 4pm. A very good friend of mine is getting together a team for the walk, it will also mark the one year anniversary of her particular diagnosis. This will prove to be a very inspiring event and with your help & God’s, these steps can be taken to find ways to prevent and cure. If you cannot make the walk but would still like to attend, out of the 800 of you I know you guys can make an impact, go to CCFA’s site and donate. You can make a major difference.***

Have a blessed day,

Chris
 

Thoughts on friendship, faith, and prayer through stress.

01/11/2011
Jesus with children, early 1900s Bible illustr...

Image via Wikipedia

On Friendship: Friendship is like a wonderous novel. It takes years to write and only seconds to burn. One lesson we learn from Jesus, even without reading His sermons is how important friendship is. He chose 12 apostles. Not because He had to, because He wanted to. He very well could have started His church without them, if that was what He wanted to do. However, he knew the importance of comraderie. A life alone is simply not the same. We were built to be communicating people. A species that speaks together, thinks together even. Ever heard the expression that two heads are better than one. Jesus obviously believed this. He even called his closest friends His family on at least two occasions. Not as in “family through God” but as His literal family, they were that close.

On Faith: When God solves your problems, you have faith in His abilities; when God doesn’t solve your problems, He has faith in your abilities. Maybe just maybe, if He does not give you what you pray so hard for at times, it is really because He knows that you can handle things without Him. He will be watching, very closely. But, He has given us all different abilities. Those of us who are good with music have an ability to get people ready for worshipping God through the inspiration of music. Those of us who have the gift of teaching are used to give great sermons. Those of us good with anything have a purpose and when God does not give you exactly what you ask for maybe, he has a different idea of what exactly you are good at even if you are unaware what it is just yet. Stick around, set the cruise control and let go of the wheel because you will never walk on water, sitting in the boat folks.

On Prayer through Stress:  Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s problems, it takes away today’s peace. Prayer is a vital part of a spiritual life. As I said in the previous point, your prayers aren’t always answered. But they are ALWAYS heard. You are not promised tomorrow, and for that matter you are not promised five minutes from now. I live by several mottos but my favorite is simple. “Don’t worrying about anything but pray about everything”. It may sound easier said than done but with practice, just like anything it adds more peace than I can begin to describe. Enjoy your loved ones today instead of worrying over things you have no control over, you may not have another chance to. We do not predict the future, not accurately. Instill a prayer time in your day, and things seem to begin to be much easier.

God Bless

Chris 

Do you treat prayer like a spare tire?

01/11/2011
Flat tire.

Image via Wikipedia

I read an email today about people’s various outlooks on prayer. It seems that most of us view prayer as a “spare tire” that we pull out of the trunk only when we need it. The email said that prayer should be viewed as a “steering wheel“, I disagree with this. I believe prayer should be used more as a “GPS System”. If you make prayer a part of your daily lives (as I try to…) then it becomes something different than just asking for help for you or others. It becomes a bond. A personal connection between you and God. I am a firm believer in speaking to God as if you were speaking to your best friend, or even more so, your mentor. You show respect but it is very important that you do not look at God as some “far away” being that watches you from a distant. God is right there with you when you pray. For that matter, God is right there with you when you crank your car, clock in at work, or take a breath of air. He is in all things. Hopefully in your heart. So in praying more, you begin to see a direction for your life as opposed to only using it when you need something. Who are you going to let guide your drive? You, who have no idea what is around the next turn, or God (via prayer), who created the next turn itself???

In closing I have two things:

1)”The prayer of the righteous, is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)

2)Never forget that your windeshield is large and your rear-view mirror is small. Take from this that your PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. Look Ahead and Move on. (I added this because I liked it, and because it, like the beginning of this blog is a car analogy)

God Bless
Chris

Discussion Time

01/11/2011
Judas Iscariot

Image by Missional Volunteer via Flickr

We now have a readership of about 750 and a range from Ga and the entire east coast all the way to California as of this morning. Google and other search engines are referring people to the page and pastors who I adore are taking notice as well and complimenting the page and its contents. For this, as always I thank you all very much. I have also recently made the front page of WP to boot. I truly hope you the reader comment with some feedback on the following post so without further adue…………..

When you read the following post, I will warn you that some of the words I say may offend and even possibly anger you to the point that you may not read anymore or even speak to me for that matter. With that being said, I have been doing a ton of thinking on things that we do not have true answers for.

We have all been taught in church that suicide is an immediate condemnation to Hell because you cannot ask forgiveness once you are dead. That would make it an unforgivable sin. There is an exception that the Bible speaks of by saying that a man who would give his life for a friend is a hero and a great man. Here is the question I pose. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Jesus always knew that he would do this. God planned it all this way. Wouldn’t this imply that Judas was not allowed to use his free will in all of this and instead he was used as a teaching tool by God for mankind? If so, would he be in Heaven? And if so, will we one day meet him there? One thing is for certain, Jesus was on a mission, and God had already planned the entire thing right? Or did God send Jesus, and allow him to make his own path up until the point of the cross? Was the cross a choice that Jesus made personally, or was it part of the original plan of his death? These are all questions that I cannot wait to find answers to once I am up there. Any discussions on this would be WELCOMED in the comments section below as anyone else’s input on any of the posed questions you just read would be appreciated.

God Bless

Chris

Pastors that let you down

01/10/2011
A statue of Saint Paul the Apostle at the pari...

Image via Wikipedia

Demas was a strong Christian man in the beginning. So much so, that the Apostle Paul took him along during the early days of his spreading Christianity throughout the world. He was even in jail with Paul the first time. Paul first met him in his home town of Thessalonica. However, in Paul’s darkest hour, sadly, Demas abandoned his friend and mentor because “he loved the ways of the world so much”. He may have been afraid to continue being that half the civilized world was out to see the death of Paul and anyone who followed him. There are two kinds of post-Christians. Those who leave the faith, and then live to ridicule it every chance they get. And those who quietly pursue interests of self instead of interests of God. We have no way of knowing which one he would end up being. We also would love to believe that some time later in his life, Demas returned to the faith which had brought him so far as a man. Sadly, the Bible is filled with stories of men that fell from grace to eventually return to God. We never hear about this of Demas therefore we are forced to believe that he was left out on purpose because he did not.

Simple point here friends, churchgoers come and go. Some stay. Some are only there for a brief period until God helps them back on their feet and then they go back to their old ways believing that everything is alright. Then there are those, just like Demas, who come into your church family, and leave a major impact on many lives only to fall from grace, and disappoint them all in the end by turning back to their old ways. I had this happen with one of my mentors earlier in life. I was a teenager and my youth leader was the coolest guy, he inspired dozens of youth to change from the ways of the world. He gave sermons on Sunday nights for the main church that were so powerful they could have set the very pews we sat on aflame. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he changed overnight and let everyone down doing things that nobody saw coming and leaving us all feeling abandoned. I have no desire to get personal or offend any of you guys, but I believe God had a plan. A much larger plan. Someone very close to him was left behind to carry the torch of our youth group. That person is now one of the greatest pastors I have ever had the literal priveledge of learning from and someone I view to be a mentor to me.  A friend. An absolutely amazing leader in the Faith. To my knowledge my original youth leader never took back up the torch of ministry. It is sad indeed, God works in very strange ways. Truthfully though, I realize that God had his hand in it all along and now, that amazing pastor is happier than I believe I have ever seen them and stronger than ever through Christ.

Food for thought, God Bless

Chris

Your hands are too small

01/09/2011
A nineteenth century picture of Paul of Tarsus

Image via Wikipedia

We are told throughout Scripture, that if we need something or need something done to ask God for help. He does not care how big or small the issue is. David said to God “Do not keep silent, O God of my praise” (PS110). If King David, someone who close to the Father would speak to God as if he were speaking to a personal friend, then we who have a relationship with God personally as our Faith indicates, should follow suit.
If the Apostle Paul’s words to the Galatians “We live by faith in the Son of God, who loves and died for us” apply to all Gentiles then why not put that same faith to work in our prayers. We say that God can make anything possible, but so often we do not act as if we truly believe that. We see so many great men and women fall victim of self-made depressions. All because they spend so much time worrying about things that “they” are too small to handle. However, as I write this now, I am certain that the God above is BIG enough to handle all of their issues. Just as well as he can handle yours and mine. Don’t let the co-worker next to you who doesn’t have any faith in anything other than himself hinder you. To paraphrase Romans 12: Don’t be brainwashed by the world, let God transform your mind. In doing that, and fully surrendering, you give him the problems and remove a world of hurt from your heart at the same time. Trust me, what he can do with your issues is far beyond the power of the hands you hold them in.

“God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of. Infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes(Ephesians 3)”
Chris

Jesus goes to court

01/08/2011
Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate p...

Image via Wikipedia

Anyone who has ever read the gospels of Jesus Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) knows of Pontius Pilate. He was the governor of Jerusalem who sentenced Jesus to crucifixion. History has painted him in a very raw and angry light. In truth, governors of conquered provinces were nothing more than procurators, or figure heads put in place to do Caesar’s bidding from afar. They were generally powerless and forced to enforce Roman laws. Ancient Roman officials were not only law enforcers, they held the law dear to them as if it were a religion in itself. The local Jews had already gone to Caesar to complain about him in the past and almost got him kicked out of office for his brutality towards them in enforcing those laws. He did everything he could to release Jesus out of spite for the Jews. His wife even had a nightmare of it and pleaded with im to not execute this innocent man. He knew Jesus was innocent. He knew that if he allowed Jesus to die on the cross an innocent man’s blood would be on his hands.
His last effort to convince them that Jesus did not need to be crucified was to have Jesus beaten nearly to death with a cat-of-nine-tails. This weapon was not just a whip. It was a whip with sharp fish bones and broken glass in the tips of it. Many people throughout history died before the beating was over it was so lethal. He carried a battered and beaten Jesus, within inches of death already, in front of the crowd to ask them if this was not enough, yet like dogs who smelled blood, they still wanted more. Finally he made a show of washing his hands in front of them and said that this innocent man’s blood would forever be on their hands. The hands of the Jews. Pressure in the work place can be a dangerous thing for one’s soul and the real tragedy that happened in the palace that day was not the pain that our Master endured, it was the loss of the soul of Pontius Pilate. He could have waived his position and stepped away like his wife wanted, instead he did what he thought he had to in order to keep his little bit of power. As we know, God planned all of this before it happened and I believe he used Pilate to show us all exactly what evils can come from succumbing to peer pressure, in or out of the workplace or family setting.

God Bless

Chris

Turning Away

01/07/2011
Christians at prayer

Image via Wikipedia

For the life of me I do not understand why human nature is, what it is. Why is it that temptations seem so much greater than what we know is right. The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. It seems to me that the Galatians had the very same issue a couple thousand years ago. On a side note, in case you did not know, Galatia is now what we would call Turkey, a muslim dominated country. However, Paul during the time of his great evangelism was writing to them pleading with them to run away from the temptations of the world, he used fairly stern language on the matter: “When we walk with the Spirit, we walk away from the flesh”(GAL6). So do not feel down about yourself when you stray or fall victim to those temptations, this has been a difficulty for Christians since Jesus’ time. Just do your best, and speak to God during your prayer time on the matter. He is there to help. After all, it is the same God who delivered the Israelites through so many bad situations as you are praying to now. “I, the Lord, do NOT change”(MAL3). By honoring God in prayer and worship you show your seriousness to Him. He already knows your heart but it is entirely up to YOU to let him into it. During these terrible times of temptations, be still, and know that “The lord has compassion on those who honor him(PS103).” And this very compassion will guide you through and away from your troubles and temptations.

God Bless

Chris

Teenage Jesus

01/06/2011
Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Image via Wikipedia

If you read about Jesus to the extent that I have lately, you notice something that for whatever reason, every pastor seems to neglect mentioning. Our savior was indeed a baby that was born in a manger and visited by magi. Our savior was also a thirty something year old man when he began his ministry. One instance that comes to mind of his childhood is when his family could not find him in the city on their way home and found him teaching the priests at the temple in Jerusalem. But have you ever noticed that not long after the birth of Christ, you stop hearing anything about Joseph, his earthly father. This has forced historians to assume he died at a fairly young age or during the massive gap that is left in the gospels of his youth. There is a school of thought that years were counted much differently back then. And that Jesus was actually in his very early twenties during his ministry, maybe even twenty years old when he died on the cross. Either way, Jesus was many things to many people, and in a large family with multiple brothers and sisters of which he was the oldest, he was also a TEENAGER. We learn in the Bible that he was very familiar with the Old Testament, as well as a skilled carpenter. But other than that we must assume he had no formal education. In those days, your education was your trade. You worked as an apprentice under (usually) your father. We also hear a little about his workshop being near their home. So just imagine, being a child, or a mother, and coming home from gathering water at the river or getting fresh crops and meat from the market to walk into your house, put down the things you brought home and walk across the yard to the workshop to find your big brother (and possibly the father figure if Joseph indeed passed away that early on) or your son sawing logs to make a table he got an order for from a neighbor. Or carving a seat of some sort, or a bed. And seeing the smile on his face happy to see you, wiping the sweat from his brow, cleaning his hands and giving you a hug while asking how your day was. Then imagine the time in your life where the realization hit you that you had lived with the Son of God, the Savior of the world, all humanity would one day depend on Him? While I understand the need to deify Jesus in order to teach messages, we must also remember. That as the oldest son, of a single mother, with a very large family to feed. During this recession, keep in mind that even your Heavenly Father once struggled and did back breaking work to feed his family at one time. He went through similar if not worse situations financially than you are. But he stayed faithful to God, and all was provided for at the end of the day. While I love the God-like version of Jesus we learn so much about, I believe it is also important to keep in mind that he was a human just like us and still made the great sacrifice for all of us.

Chris