Posts Tagged ‘Religion & Spirituality’

Stair-Master “Faith”

10/12/2011
Church of Christ at Wedderburn, Victoria

Image via Wikipedia

Today is part one of a two-part message, I put together to describe two different kinds of “faith” people like to follow, or tend to, and it is unfortunate that they chose either.

Have you ever been on a stairmaster? Ever gotten off of one, realized how much work you had just done, and acknowledged the fact that you are standing in the exact same place you were, pre-workout?

That is the crummy faith life that many in our modern society have. They show up for church on Sunday, maybe even two or three more times during the week, but as soon as the key is in the ignition and they drive out of the parking lot, followed by unlocking the door and walking into their homes, it’s over until next time.

They built up a spiritual sweat during service and worshipped with all of their hearts while learning with all their minds. But when the lights of the church go off for the day, so do those people’s faith.

The workout in the gym might be great, but living your faith life that way is absolutely counterproductive to what Christ instructed us to do. We are instructed to serve the purpose of Christ in all aspects of our lives, not only at church.

My advice for you today, if any of the above applies to you, as your personal spiritual trainer for the day, get off of the stairmaster, and hit the spiritual cross-country track of the world to share the love and redemption of Christ.

 

Chris

Step 2: Bad Influences

09/26/2011

Thanks for stopping in for Episode 22 of Inspired Audio. You can hear today’s audio by CLICKING HERE NOW.

David’s Strength And Refuge

06/29/2011
"Death of King Saul", 1848 by Elie M...

Image via Wikipedia

During the time that King Saul of Israel initiated the man-hunt for the future king David, David found time to jot down the 59th Psalm of the Bible. While reading today, I want you to try to put yourself in David’s shoes and see if you would be as faithful as David was.

Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. They have set an ambush for me. Fierce enemies are out there waiting, Lord, though I have not sinned or offended them. I have done nothing wrong, yet they prepare to attack me. Wake up! See what is happening and help me!  Psalm 59:1-4

Okay, so the setting is David hiding out knowing that the moment he was seen in public, his enemies would be waiting. Not just any enemies though, he calls them “fierce”. He knew this because they were once allies of his on the battlefield, his friends and countrymen. He knew all too well what they were capable of, and possibly could have called each one by name. We also read that David KNEW he was innocent. King Saul was acting out of jealousy!

O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, wake up and punish those hostile nations. Show no mercy to wicked traitors. They come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths; their words cut like swords. “After all, who can hear us?” they sneer. But Lord, you laugh at them. You scoff at all the hostile nations. Psalm 59:5-8

In times of need, what is one of the most important things we can do? PRAY! And one key factor in a heartfelt prayer is acknowledging WHO GOD IS. David calls on the “Lord God of Heaven’s Armies” and “The God of Israel”. Notice he didn’t say “hey dude” or “Lord if you have a sec….”. He addressed his Heavenly Father with the utmost respect. Talking to God should feel like talking to your best friend, but it must also be respectful. After all He did create the world. David again notes the merciless attitudes of his enemies. David also asks God to return that favor upon his enemies. We learn that David knows the men to the point that he can imagine their exact words, how sinfully proud they are. David goes a step beyond respecting God, by acknowledging that God “scoffs” at them. They are nothing but dust on the shoulder of the Lord.

You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress. In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies.  Psalm 59:9-10

In these two verses we see David taking comfort and putting all of his trust in God. We MUST do that. We can’t do anything on our own. When our trials and tribulations arise, we MUST lean on God. As you just read, God’s love NEVER fails. He is our fortress in times of spiritual battle as well as physical.

Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons; stagger them with your power, and bring them to their knees, O Lord our shield. Because of the sinful things they say, because of the evil that is on their lips, let them be captured by their pride, their curses, and their lies. Destroy them in your anger! Wipe them out completely! Then the whole world will know that God reigns in Israel. Psalm 59:11-13

David, while wanting God to take vengeance on his enemies, still in his heart wanted God to show mercy. While God was providing this miracle of protection, He still would show that mercy. We quickly, however, see the humanity of David when he changes his mind about that just seconds later asking God to destroy and wipe out his enemies. This is so typical of us in our lives, we don’t really want bad things to happen to our enemies, not in our spirits. But our flesh tries to pull us into the sin of taking vengeance into our own hands instead of the only hands that vengeance belongs to.

My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. They scavenge for food but go to sleep unsatisfied. But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love. Psalm 59:14-17

In those closing statements to God. David again remarks about how closely he knows the behaviors of his adversaries. He even calls them scavengers. Vultures, would be a good word too. But in his anger towards King Saul, and David’s very own former comrades, David submits to the ways of God. He sang praise to God in his dark time. He indicates that God is again, his strength and his refuge, and his safe place when he is distressed and fearful. He remembers and revels in the fact that God’s love is NEVER ENDING.

We know the rest of the story, David overcomes all adversaries and becomes arguably the greatest King of Israel. We get attacked everyday my friends. Maybe not physically, maybe not emotionally, but spiritually. We know that Satan prowls around like a lion looking for people of God who slip, so he can devour them. That anger that swells up inside you when you are in an argument, that feeling you get when your spouse may not be around and you get a complimented or “hit on” in the workplace or at school. The are assaults on your spirit. Make no mistake about it, we are at war every single day. The next opportunity that you have, to fall on your face, or get on your knees and plead with God, for protection against whatever you need it from, step out of the boat like Peter, reach to grab the hem of Jesus’ garment, load a sling with a stone to slay the giant, and build the arc that will save the world.

Your prayers, are music to the Lord’s ears. They don’t have to be long and drawn out. Just from the heart and with respect. David in the end, submitted to the will of God to handle his problems and be his ultimate provider. Today I pray that we can do the same.

God Bless You,

Chris

Great Things!

06/22/2011
Mother Teresa

Image via Wikipedia

One of my devotionals did something completely out of the ordinary and quote a Catholic. Keep in mind, the original Catholic church was not the one that we know of today. The real one, was the one that Peter founded in the name of Jesus, his friend, and savior. While I agree with many (not attacking anyone here) that the Catholic Church as a whole has fallen from what it was meant to be, I still believe that there is much to be learned from thousands of years of record keeping and preaching and feeding the hungry. With that being said, the following quote is from Mother Theresa:

“It is not enough for us to say: “I love God,” but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”

How right she is, it is so easy for us to love our families, friends, and neighbors when it benefits us. We can spout all day about how much we love God, but love is a VERB. Love is not a feeling you get, it is an action. A famous quote that I love is “Loving someone means doing something for them simply because it needs to be done”. In Theresa’s case, it was the children and people of India who were in poverty and riddled with disease. She was one of the most influential treasures in all of Christian history and I trust she is now seated at the foot of her Creator where she always wanted to be.

Reading this reminds me of my relationship with a family member. To love them, hurts. It is much easier to ignore them, their flaws, and their faults. It is much easier to not have anything to do with them because it is easier than dealing with the reality that is my relationship with them. I swore some time ago that I was completely DONE with them, and within a day, felt terrible about the things I had said both in my heart and with my mouth. Our “neighbors” aren’t always easy to love. But imagine how Jesus had to feel in the seconds that took place right before the first nail. “Why would I do this for them? They don’t deserve it!” No, those weren’t his words at all. With his dying words, he forgave, and asked his Father in Heaven to forgive the very people who were about to take his life. THAT….is LOVE.

Go show some love today, and God bless you

Chris

Deborah (conclusion)

05/27/2011
Gustave Dore's interpretation of the prophetes...

Image via Wikipedia

(Today’s Bible study is brought to you by my dear friend Amy. It is on one of the most influential women in the history of all creation, and very well written I might add. For you men that may fear this post wouldn’t apply to your lives being that it is by and about a woman, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is a great tale of how God can use anyone from any background at any time to suit His purposes…..Enjoy & God bless,    Chris)

 Deborah was also very righteous, she was known for her sound mindedness, her sense of Decency, order, and justice. Notice when she held court it was under a palm tree out in the open. Back in those days a women did not sit alone in a house with a man that wasn’t her husband, father or brother. Another thing to take note of, the people came to her; She had to be anointed by God, back in those times, because women only had the rights their men folk gave them and in the Jewish laws they had very little rights as well. Her husband, “Lappidoth,” was only mentioned once. Most great women in the bible are related to great men, Deborah stood on her own merits or virtues, because she was very careful to only voice God’s will, and not her own. 
                      
Deborah was a woman of great faith. She had to be, to take the vision God gave her to General Barak. When she did as instructed she fully expected Barak to assemble his troops and head out. Shockingly he said to Deborah, not without you. Obediently she said ok, but God wants you to know HE will use a woman (Deborah) to defeat Sisera.  There should be no doubt that God will use us in big ways if we stand in total faith & obedience, in spite of what godly men wish or think. He did it then; I have no doubt, God will do it now.
 
Deborah stood for courage in a time of fear. She stood for Godly wisdom in a time of human reasoning, when “every man(men & women) did what was right in his own eyes.” Deborah in the Bible is a wonderful inspiration to us. Because we are women, we are not a lesser person in the eyes of God. As Godly women we must rule the sphere that God puts us in with total trust in Him. We may be single, married, mothers, professionals, grandmothers, retirees, and much more, but first and foremost, we must be Godly women, totally trusting in Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our faithfulness should be evident in whatever we do. As we are faithful, God is most faithful to pave the way. I see this played out more and more as I am Faithful to minister where God takes me. Thank You My Heavenly Father, for paving the way. I say this to the ladies; we all have a purpose in God’s kingdom to fulfill, walk on water, answer the call, don’t look down or back, let JESUS be your standard of truth.
                                                     
May God bless you all with GREAT faith! 
                                                                                                                                                       Hope

A matter of trust.

05/11/2011
Haida gold box - Bill Reid

Image by 2sirius via Flickr

God gave me two boxes, one was black and the other was gold. He instructed me to place all my sorrows in the black box and all my joys in the gold box. So I did, I placed all my sorrows in the black and all my joys in the gold. As time went on, I noticed the gold box was getting heavy. I decided to check the black box, it was much lighter. That’s weird, so I opened the black box and to my surprise it was empty! As I was looking in the box, I noticed a hole in the corner. I wondered, where did all my sorrows go? I showed God and mused , where could all my sorrows be? He smiled gently at me and said,”My child they are here with me.” I thought further on this & asked another question. Why did you give me these two boxes? He responded,”My child, the gold is so you can count your blessings and the black is so that you let go of your sorrows.”
 
I want to thank my friend for sending me the above story, it really came in a time of need. I believe the point of this story is that we truly give God our sorrows. We make that black box a part of our walk with God. So many times we hold on to the past, instead of looking to the future God has for us. When we hold on to the past, it hurts us even more. Anger, jealousy, sorrow, and all the many hurts we have in life, tend to make us bitter and depressed. God gave us the Bible to tell us how to live. If you read it, He shows us how to deal with all this stuff, in such a way , that we get past it and even prosper because of it. We need to remember that God will make all our wrongs right, if we let Him handle it. Instead we sweep it under the rug or even worse than that
we try to fix it in our own strength, the worlds way. Which usually turns out bad and definitely not to our good.
 
“God will fight for you and you will hold your peace” Exo. 14:14

God is so good that if you trust him, he  gives you peace. This is so true! God gave me this word to stand on when I felt ill-equipped to fulfil the purpose he had for me. He led me to the tools I needed or sent someone else to fight for me. He also made right my wrongs and used them to help other people. When I listened or followed, there was such a peace. I kept my focus on the purpose God had for me, and the wrongs were made right. My issues were dealt with and I was able to go onto the future. Was it easy? No! Was it worth it? Most definitely, Yes!
 
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” Matt.6:33
 
Look for the purpose that God has for you and he will work all of your issues out. Letting go, means trusting that God has you and if you fall, he will be there to lift you up. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Trust him, It is just a matter of trust.

God bless you all,

Hope                                    

Reflecting God’s Mercy 2

04/07/2011

REFLECTING GOD’S MERCY 2: THE LITTLE THINGS
 
I Watch people interacting and I see how sometimes we hurt people without really meaning to.  Having simple conversations seems to be dangerous at times. We tend to go back to the old ways when we are frustrated and hurting. I was watching someone the other day calling people names, all because he didn’t understand what the guy needed or wanted. It’s a cruel world we live in when we can’t take the time to understand someone’s need. The really sad part is that there are Christians who think that this is Christ-like behavior. It’s funny, we seem to forget that God took time for us, patiently, lovingly, to understand us and help us in our times of need. No matter how big or small. Reflecting God’s mercy isn’t just big acts or feeding the hungry. It can be as simple as a smile, a “hello”, or a “how are you”. I genuinely care about you. Holding a door. Seeing someone is sad and cheering them up. A really good one is take time to LISTEN. Sometimes people just need to know someone cares enough to listen. There is a hurting world out there and we need to shine our lights, reflecting God’s mercy one moment, one person at a time.

Lord, thank you for mercy. You have listened to every cry. I pray you show us how to listen and meet the needs of others, no matter how big or small. Break our hearts from what breaks yours. Help us to consistently reflect your mercy. The mercy you have so graciously given us without reservation. In Jesus holy name I pray. Amen.

Reach out and shine your light today. Ask God how.
God bless you all,

Hope

God’s Magnetism

03/24/2011

God is the most powerful magnet of all time!

God is the most magnetic person or thing in all of creation. There is something that draws every follower of Jesus to Him. It could be the love of a friend or family member. It could also be a tragic event that brings someone to their knees with nowhere else to go.
 
Hebrews 12:2 “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
 
The “We do this” is speaking about witnessing to the lost, or the “seekers” as I call them.
Let’s break down the above verse.
 
Sentence 1: This refers to the very most important commandment of God. LOVE HIM ABOVE ALL OTHERS, FIRST AND FOREMOST. If we want to succeed as disciples of Jesus the first thing we have to do is keep our eye on the ball (Jesus). He is the author and perfector of our faith. Jesus is our champion! Our ultimate everything! He comes before everything! Once you put Him first in your ministry, or just your everyday life, we begin to see that His grace is more than we could ever need.
 
Sentence 2: To be crucified in Jesus’ day, was the ultimate disrespect. He took on that shame for You and Me without even caring. The thoughts of the masses did not even factor into his decision.
 
Sentence 3: We now know exactly where He is. Assuming we all understand and fully comprehend the Trinity, we know that Jesus, who is God, is in fact in the throne right now. And He wants you to be before Him after His coming. All we need is faith, and that comes first.
 
God Bless
Chris

kids

12/05/2010
Santa Claus with a little girl

Image via Wikipedia

I sat in the audience tonight and loved every second of not being the one on stage for a change when the music played. Every so often it is nice to feel the music from the other side of the experience of worship. Tonight was all the more different because it was the children’s Christmas musical and it was great. Stacy and everyone involved tonight was great. A few standout performances here and there but every single kid was absolutely great at what they did. The message was clear and the solo’s were just as much. If you’re reading and you had a child involed just know that you are not the only person who was proud of their effort. All of the lugging them to practice most definitely paid off tonight. I saw several new faces, and that is always a great thing. It got me into the Christmas spirit and now I want to see it again, maybe I’ll buy the DVD.

God Bless

Chris

SStock

11/28/2010
A Turkey.

Image via Wikipedia

I hope this first blog back from the Thanksgiving holiday finds everyone happy and safely home, ready to return to the endless grind of household chores and office responsibilities. I want to start this off by saying that as someone who has written countless papers on my faith, read the bible multiple times and done the best I could manage to absorb as much as humanly possible of it….I was humbled today by a 15 year old “kid”. The truth is that this kid was not who humbled me, it was the power of God working and speaking through him. I could see the looks on the faces of some of our older church members when he took the stage wearing a pastoral earpiece mic. They were dazed and confused. Some of the visitors had looks of (very brief) disbelief on their faces. I say brief because they quickly faded once he opened his mouth. He spoke like a veteran pastor. If he was nervous about being the first person under the age of 25 (give or take a few years) to speak in front of a full congregation (for two straight services at that) I couldn’t see it, in the pre-service briefing and run through and certainly not in the message. It may sound like I am trying to earn brownie points with his parents by my next few statements but I assure you I am not. When Jessica and myself entered the stage two membership class at church, I met his mom. She was great. I knew I would like her as soon as I saw her tattoo on her shoulder/neck area. She embodied what I was looking for in a church family. Different. And please do not think I mean that negatively, I grew up strict southern style COG. Teaching a membership class with a visible tat would have NEVER been accepted back in those days. By any pastor for that matter. But to me that tattoo that I am sure she would probably go back and change told me that EVERYONE was accepted here. Sinners, saints, outcasts, people who walked their own path for a while before decided to come to God, etc. That fits me more than many people know. Non-judgementalism to me, is as close to perfection in my church family as I could ask. It wasn’t long before I met her husband. Truly great and talented guy. Our bassist to be exact, and an awesome one at that. They have a whole family of talented kids to, and in laws and sisters that are just as well. Their oldest boy is our drummer, and well on his way to a making quite the career in college of playing drums. I don’t really know any of the kids personally, but I do speak from what I have seen. The kid on the stage this morning was from great spiritual stock. A genuine love of God, and willingness to do whatever it takes to get that word out there. The message itself was about having RELENTLESS faith, and because of hearing it, I am certain I will be mentioning it in other blogs. But it never ceases to amaze me how I can go to church, work both services, and leave with no clue what the spoken message was about, yet take so much more from it. Another message entirely if you will. Often I have to download the sermons to listen to at work to catch back up everything I missed. The message could not have been more clear to me this morning though. If I am unable to give my newborn son Christian anything else, I hope to breed that stock into him. Willingly of course, I would never force my faith down his throat, but to show him, to lead by example, the way that the parents I spoke of earlier have done, and continue to do daily. This Thanksgiving holiday wrap up leaves with me this to say: I am thankful for many things, my wife, my son, my loving family (both new and old, blood and not), my pastor and church staff, and the church family that, like these parents, teach me more and more by the day. If either of you are reading, we love you guys, you are the best.

“My own little world is not about me”

Chris