Today is the third anniversary of the last episode of Lost. Evidence of how much I liked that show is revealed by the fact that I am writing about it three years after it left the air. Perhaps no other show has gripped my imagination, as well as other Losties, as J.J. Abrams’, Carlton Cuse’s and Damon Lindelof’s little tale of adventure on the Island.
There are, I think, two general thoughts that those who invested heavily into the show felt, and may still feel, when the show ended.
One is that the show left them flat. Every mystery was not answered. Some may have said, “I spent six years watching and it ended like that? “ They felt like they didn’t get the payoff they needed and deserved after following these characters through space and time. They watched 121 episodes of this show and felt it was an entire waste.
Others have a completely different take on it. They love that every mystery wasn’t solved. They continue to debate what the show meant and how it ended. They wonder exactly what happened and what the motivation of Jacob and the Man in Black was. The mystery helps it remain one of their most beloved shows of all time.
It’s kind of like that with our faith isn’t it? Some people have to have everything explained to them. Every minute detail must be able to be explained and proven. It must all be rationalized and made sense of. If they it can’t be seen, then it can’t be real.
Or the mystery is wrapped up in Jesus. What was hidden and pointed at in the pages of what we call the Old Testament is explained and revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The questions may be real, but the Answer is even more so because it is the person of Christ. Sure, it all seems like a mystery, but when it comes down to it, that mystery is more real than anything else in the world.
Enjoy the mysteries of life or even a TV show. They mystery that truly means something has been revealed to us in a way that we could never imagine.
Do you enjoy the mystery of Christ and the Gospel?
I’m taking this week off. I found this post that I had written some time back. I hadn’t posted it, so I thought I would share it this week.
I want to tell you today what God is interested in. I can say, with a certain amount of confidence, that this is what He is interested in. I don’t say that lightly. It’s taken me a while to get to this point. It’s only taken me well over a dozen years to figure this out.
I may have mentioned before but back in 2000 I hated my job. It was a negative job. I had a negative outlook. My attitude stunk. I would have kicked my wife and bit my dog if that would have done any good.
On top of that the Lord was dealing with me in a few areas, not the least of which was entering the ministry and going to seminary. So, in my ultimate wisdom, I moved my family to Louisville, KY and spent a year of misery in seminary. I did well in school, but life stunk. And I hadn’t changed. I still had the same old negative thought patterns.
So, we moved back and I went back to work for my previous employer. My attitude stunk there for a couple of years until I was sick of being miserable. I began faking a positive attitude. My job performance increased and suddenly I actually had a positive attitude at work.
Somewhere in there, my attitude toward church went downhill. I couldn’t stand traditional church. I helped start a contemporary one, but my bad attitude surfaced there. We left for, yes, a traditional church. My attitude stunk there for most of the past decade.
Now, we are in a church with much better attitudes and look forward to what we are facing.
And here is what God is most interested in through all of this.
He is more interested in where our hearts are in relation to Him than where we go to church or whether or not we are happy with our circumstances.
He wants to be our main concern, not just one of many.
He wants our hearts to join Him in worship.
He wants us to want to proclaim His name as much as He wants to.
And guess what?
If we focus on that, then everything else in our lives will flow better as well.
In other words, if the Lord is our main concern, all of the other concerns will be put in their proper perspective.
Seek first His kingdom and all of the other things will fall to you.
What is your main concern?
I am taking some time off this week. Here is a post I wrote some time back and never found a time to post it.
I’m just going to throw something out there today and be honest. Not that I haven’t been before. But it’s more about being honest with myself than with you guys.
I’m getting older.
I’m not old yet. Not by far. But I’m getting older. I’m rolling along. The years are picking up speed. I have a daughter in college and a son flying through high school.. Because of that I’m realizing a few things.
I need to work harder on my endurance. I will need that in the coming years.
I need to work on my strength. You tend to lose it if you don’t work at it.
I need to work on my flexibility. I don’t want to stiffen up as I get older.
I realize that I also need to continue to work on those things in my spiritual life as well. I cannot be content with where I am today or where I will be tomorrow. I have to keep pushing to work harder in these areas.
I need to be strong so that I can stand strong against the attacks of the enemy. I need to be strong in the faith so that those who look toward me will not lose faith. I need to be strong so that I will grow in the Lord until He comes or I go home.
I need to work on my endurance so that I do not grow faint in my walk. I need to work on my endurance because life is an ultra-marathon and it doesn’t end at any particular age.
I need to work on my flexibility so that I can grow in my love for others. Not that I will accept just any idea, but that I will be flexible and accepting of others.
I’m getting older. I need to continue to work and grow.
Are you getting older? What do you need to work on?
This week at Big Meadow Campground, I am finishing up the first chapter of Galatians.
Paul has spent his time so far in Galatians defending his ministry. His apostleship is under attack, so he started off defending the fact that the Lord called him as an apostle.
Next, he defended the Gospel, calling what the Judaizers who are bringing this attack a perversion of the true Gospel.
As we wrap up chapter 1, Paul now defends his ministry and shows us that the Gospel and his apostleship are so intertwined that to attack one is to attach the other.
First, he tells us that the Gospel he is preaching is not according to man. Obviously, this is a point of attack by his enemies in the Galatian churches. They are telling the churches that Paul is out on an island by himself and that they have the true gospel. Paul disputes this idea by saying that he neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. He goes beyond his salvation experience and says that not only was he saved through a supernatural revelation from Christ, but he learned the Gospel through the same means as well.
Paul gives further proof by reminding them of what kind of man he was before he came to Christ. He tells them that they have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God. Paul was growing and advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries.
God had other plans for him though. These weren’t plans that were new plans or spur of the moment plans. The Lord had set me apart even from my others womb and called me through His grace. Paul’s ministry of being an apostle and proclaiming the Gospel were decided by God, not man, before he was even born.
When God was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, something curious happened. We might have sought out a mentor or someone to disciple us. Paul didn’t . He did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me. Paul keeps hammering away that his Gospel is not from man, but from the Lord Himself.
He went to Arabia and then came back to Damascus. Then three years later, he finally made it to Jerusalem. It seems that he simply relied on the Lord. What did he do? Remember that Paul was on the path to becoming one of the major leaders of the Jews. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews and a Pharisee. He knew scripture. He must have spent time praying and meditating on that. With the Holy Spirit in his life, that scripture came alive for the first time. He must have seen how it all pointed to Christ.
Paul must have begun preaching and formulating the Gospel based on his new understanding of scripture and the revelation he was receiving from Christ Himself.
Finally, after three years of this, he went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas. He only stayed with him a hair over two weeks. The only other apostle that he saw was James, the Lord’s brother. And there is where Paul draws a line in the sand with the Judaizers. James was the leader of the Jerusalem church. The Judaizers would have come saying they were from James. Paul is in effect saying that James had no problem with me when I went to Jerusalem before. Why is he having a problem with me now?
Finally, he states that he went off proclaiming the Gospel in Syria and Cilicia. He was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea. However, he was knows by reputation. They heard that He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.
The result? They were glorifying God because of me.
We might read or hear this and say that’s nice, but what does it mean for me today? So what?
1. The revelation of God trumps the teaching of man.
You might say that the Lord has never given you a revelation. If you have a Bible, you have the revelation of God. Read it. Study it. Know it. Compare what preachers and teachers claiming to be from God with it.
2. What have you been set apart to do?
God had a plan for you. It might not be to be a preacher, but no matter what it is, it is to proclaim the Gospel in some way. Are you doing it?
3. Are people glorifying God because of you?
Are you living you life in such a way that people are giving praise and glory to God for you?
This is a weekly series of fiction. You can find the other chapters HERE at my fiction page.
Everyone looked up as the door to the meeting room opened. Dale Adkins stood in the doorway. They all looked at him and smiled. David stood up and walked toward the door, offering his hand to the man he only spoken to on the phone. They shook hands for a second and then walked to the meeting table.
“Dale, let me introduce you to everyone. To your left is Teresa Smith. Beside her is Tom Davis. At the other end of the table from you Bill Johnson. Beside me, here, is Fred McGinley.”
“Good to meet all of you and good to be here today.” Dale sat relaxed and ready to go. Interviews of any sort were a necessary evil.
David spoke first. “Let’s start out with an easy one. When did you come to know the Lord?”
Dale licked his lips. He was just a little dry and wished he had some water. He kind of grinned and gave the answer he always gave, the one that caused more than one person to scratch their heads. “I feel like I’ve always known Him. I’ve been in church all my life and always loved it. I was a good boy and never gave my parents any trouble. I think most people just assumed I was saved. Then, I was sitting in church one Sunday. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the thought that I was as lost as anyone. I prayed to the Lord and repented. I didn’t really need anyone to walk me through it. I knew what to do. Then I went down at the invitation and made it public.”
Tom had a perplexed look on his face. “You mean no one led you to the Lord?” Tom scratched his chin as he asked the question.
“Well, Tom…it’s Tom, right? I would say that hundreds of people led me to the Lord. Hundreds of sermons and Sunday school lessons. Years of VBS. I didn’t really need anyone to walk me through it. I knew that. But most of all, I would say that the Lord led me to the Lord.”
Tom frowned. “I’m not sure what that means.’
Dale grinned and chuckled a bit. “Tom, some days I don’t either.” Everyone else, including Tom, chuckled along with Dale.
Teresa spoke up. “Tell us about your family.”
Dale sat up a little straighter. “I’ve been married to Melissa for almost ten years. We have two boys and daughter. The boys are Ben and Caleb. Our daughter is Leah, but she is much prettier than the one that was married to Jacob.”
Fred McGinley snorted and worked hard to hold to keep from laughing out loud. He decided that he would ask the next question.
“How did you get into the ministry?”
Dale paused for just a second. Sometimes he asked himself this same question.
“After I came to know the Lord, everything went about the way it was going, except for one thing. I studied the Bible more and I saw things that I hadn’t before. I was always a leader in the youth group, but, for some reason, became even more of one. When it came time for Youth Sunday, I was asked to speak. I prepared a sermon that I thought would take me about thirty minutes to give. It took about ten minutes, but I loved it. I kept getting asked to speak and lead Bible studies. Somewhere along the way I realized that I wanted nothing more than to proclaim the word of God.”
“College was a great time of growth. I majored in Religion, though I hate the name of that major. I interned in a couple of churches. I took a couple of summer mission trips and preached every chance I got. There just wasn’t anything else I wanted to do. After college, I went to seminary. I pastored a church while there. I went ahead and got my doctorate. For the past four or five years, I’ve taught at Covenant and preached when I had the opportunity.”
Dale noticed that Teresa was taking notes on everything. Tom wrote a few things down. Fred nodded and smiled a lot. David watched everyone else’s reaction. He was puzzled by Bill Johnson. He sat there with his hands behind his head and looked at the ceiling.
Tom decided that it was his turn to ask a question. He had been trying to come up with a question for several days. He thought he had come up with the perfect one.
“Are you a Calvinist?”
Dale looked at Tom, framing his response. “Tom, I hope that I don’t answer this in a way that blows my chances here. Let me ask you what you mean by that question. What do you think a Calvinist is?”
Tom turned just a little bit red. “Well, you know, you believe in predestination and stuff.”
“Well, Tom, if you’re asking me if I believe that those God foreknew, He predestined, then yes, I believe that. If you are asking me if I believe that He predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ, then yes, I believe that. I believe the Bible. “
“If you’re asking me if I believe anything because of a systematic theology that is followed by others, then no. If you’re asking me if I have ever tried to convert anyone to follow John Calvin, then no. I follow Christ and try to point people to Christ and Him only. I want Him to glorified through the preaching of the Gospel. I’m not sure if I answered your question, though.”
Tom looked down at his pad and then back up. “I think you answered it fine.”
Bill Johnson chuckled a bit. “I guess it’s my turn to ask a question. What would you tell a guy who has helped cause a lot of problems in this church and just found out that he has a brain tumor?”
Dale close his eyes for just a second. Finally a question that wasn’t normal. He was prepared for all of the normal, churchy questions. This one caused him to pause for just a second.
“Bill, the first thing I would do is find out where that man was in his relationship with the Lord. I would pray with him and hope that he was right with the Lord. Then I would encourage him to go before the church and confess it. Seek forgiveness among the church. Then I would gather the elders and pray over him and anoint him with oil. Finally, I would talk to him and ask him what the prognosis from the doctors was.”
Bill looked at him. “The elders? Don’t you mean the deacons?”
“No, Bill, I believe that there is a huge difference between the elders and deacons. I’m not saying that the deacons can’t be a part of it. But I’m talking about the spiritual leaders of the church.”
“You don’t think the deacons are the spiritual leaders of the church?”
“No, I don’t think that’s their specific role. I think elders are responsible for the spiritual direction of a church. And I think there should be a team of those to work with the pastor. The deacons have their own vitally important role to play. They should be working on the physical needs of the church. Who is taking care of the widows? Who is taking care of the needy? Who is making sure people are doing ok?”
David finally spoke up. “Let’s take a short break. We all may need something to drink. We’ll come back to some more questions and you may have some for us.”
I think. A lot. It doesn’t really matter what the subject is, I think about it.
There’s just one problem.
Sometimes I can think too much.
A few years ago, I wrestled with whether or not I would go into ministry. I thought about it constantly. It consumed me. I had a hard time focusing on anything. My job performance suffered. I was miserable. I needed to make a decision. Instead, I drew it out.
Obviously, I needed to think this thing through. However, the more I thought about it, the more I was stuck not making a decision.
The problem with thinking too much is what it causes in my life and in many other’s lives.
It causes paralysis. Paralysis by analysis.
Sometimes we need to be decisive. Make our decision. Go for it. Do it. It may be the wrong one, but it’s really not something we can’t recover from. Mistakes happen. Wrong decisions are made. We learn from them and move on.
Will Rogers said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”
I went to a church for years wanting to make a change. I wouldn’t make a decision at all. I thought about it all the time. I got to the point where I almost hated going to church. I begged the Lord to let me leave. I never got an answer. I needed to make a decision one way or the other. I decided to finally stay. Soon after that, the Lord painfully removed me from that church. Now, I’m happier than I’ve been in years.
We’re going to make mistakes. It’s ok. We can live with it. What we can’t live with is thinking so much that we don’t make any decision at all. We have to do something. Just do it and it will be ok.
Have you ever been guilty of thinking too much? Did you need to make a decision and couldn’t pull the trigger?
It happened again this past Sunday. I was reminded of what happened on Mother’s Day 1997. That was sixteen years ago, when my daughter Lauren, who is about to graduate, was two.
We were at Jan’s parents. All of the Mother’s Day festivities were done. I decided that it would be a good idea to go riding on my father-in-law’s four-wheeler. Off I headed to one of the hollers around the place.
I did ok going in. I was a mile or two back in the mountains, about as far as I could go. Heading back, I decided it would be a good idea to open it up a little. I was enjoying myself, basking in the cool shadows. I wasn’t going fast, but I wasn’t exactly going slow either. My head was on a swivel, reveling in the scenery when I realized that something was wrong. I was driving off the road and over a bank.
Somehow I jumped off and the four-wheeler got caught in a tree. I rolled to the bottom of a fifty foot bank. I jumped up and looked around, hurting a bit. I was alive.
I walked out of that mess to be met by Jan’s uncle and aunt. They pulled me into their mini-van and took me up to my in-laws. Jan took one look at me and it was then that I realized how bad it was.
We headed to the emergency room.
Nothing was too terribly wrong. I got a few stitches and I was sore for a few days. If you know where to look, you can still find evidence of the accident.
I wonder if our faith isn’t like that sometimes. Something goes wrong in our life and we turn to the Lord. We didn’t need Him before, but an emergency comes up and we turn to the Lord.
We have emergency room faith. We don’t really care if the emergency room is there until we need it. Too often it’s that way with the Lord.
Many people could prevent emergency room visits by practicing more holistic health patterns. They can live a healthy lifestyle, trying to prevent many of the health issues that come up.
We should do the same with our faith. Our faith should be more holistic, rather than one that turns to the Lord just when we need Him.
Is your faith a holistic faith or an emergency room faith?
This is a post from a couple of years ago when I still tried to write some funny posts here and there and thought I would be the next Jon Acuff instead of the one and only, Larry the Deuce.
A little over a decade ago I announced a call to ministry. This followed wrestling with my decision and what it meant for me. Would I? Wouldn’t I? How do I know? This process dealt with lots of questions and few tangible answers. Then our pastor at the time did the next logical thing.
He led our church to license me just like all preachers since Peter and Paul have been licensed. I do not think Mary was ever licensed, but I digress. (If you didn’t get that one, well I just feel sad for you.)
I have never pastured a church. Nor have I pastored a church or preached in a truly official capacity either. I’ve made a few cameos and pitched in when needed. But I have never been a regular preacher in a regular church setting.
However, I have had a regular preaching gig now for eight years now. I lead and preach at a service at local campground. I do this each week May through October. One question haunts me each time I stand to preach.
What if they catch me preaching without a license?
I mean, I don’t carry my license around with me. It’s actually more of a certificate. I guess I could carry it in it’s frame, but it is a bit bulky. I don’t have a small copy that fits in my wallet or anything. Here are some possibilities for offenses I could be charged with if the preaching police show up one day.
- Failure to provide proof of being licensed
- Preaching faster than the preaching limit
- Failure to yield when someone gives an “Amen!!!”
- Preaching too long and running a red light or a stop sign.
Obviously there is no such thing as the preaching police. At least not that I know of. But if they need to see my license we will need to make a trip to house. I’m sure I can find it.
What about you? Are you licensed to do what you do?
***I hope you found this funny. I LOL’d as I wrote this. However, I did not ROTFLOL or LMBO***
Last week I introduced Galatians to the folks that I met with in my campground ministry. This week we move further into the issue that Paul is facing as he writes to the churches he founded in the Galatian region.
In the first five verses, the main issue seemed to be the fact that someone is questioning Paul’s authority and apostleship. In verses 6-10, He takes up another aspect of the issue and, most likely to Paul, a more important one.
Paul states that he is amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him…for a different gospel. Someone or some group has traveled to these churches that Paul founded and loved. They are preaching some sort of gospel to them. There’s just one problem. It’s a different gospel than the one Paul preached. Something is different about it. It is close to the gospel that Paul preached, yet just different enough to not be the real thing. Paul is shocked that they are falling for it. He can’t believe it. He is in shock. And he is not going to just passively let it go. He is going to fight for the truth.
Paul also considers abandoning the gospel he preaches with deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ. This should probably give us a clue about the issue. Paul considers abandoning the true gospel to be abandoning God and Christ. Being one who persecuted those that followed the gospel before his conversion, Paul loves this gospel message that comes directly from the Lord. Quitting it is equivalent to quitting God.
Paul also gives us a hint at what the problem with this gospel is. The Galatian Christians have been called…by the grace of Christ. Paul already seems to be indicating that grace is not at the heart of this gospel that is being preached and taught. He is already laying down the direction he is going.
Paul even goes so far as to say that this gospel is really not another gospel. It is one that is disturbing the Galatians and Paul is upset about it. The people he loves are being affected by these people who want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Paul ups the ante on these false teacher as we look further at the scripture. He says that if anyone preaches a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you then they should be accursed. This is strong wording from Paul. The Greek word is anathema, which means to be cut off. So, Paul is saying that it doesn’t matter if it’s him or an angel, if a different gospel is preached then they should be separated completely from the Lord. It’s not enough that Paul says it once, but he says it again for emphasis. Paul is giving us a strong picture of how he really feels about what is going on in Galatia.
Paul finalizes in verse 1o what the motivation of these men is. He asks if he is seeking the favor of man, or of God? Is he striving to please men? Paul strongly denies this. He says that if he was doing so then he would not be a bond-servant of Christ. His motivation is to please Christ.
Paul indicates that these enemies and false teachers are really trying to please man rather than God. That is the heart of what Paul is telling the Galatians. He is saying that if you abandon the gospel you are abandoning God in an attempt to please man. Paul gives them and us a strong warning to not give up what we believe for something that will cause us ruin.
One of my favorite Twitter follows is Xianity. Whoever is behind this anonymous Twitter handle is a brilliant writer who mixes our faith and satire in 140 characters or less.
A few days ago this tweet was sent out: LOCAL: Area Sunday School teacher dismissed after refusing to use tried and true “bore the hell out of them” curriculum. As a former Sunday School teacher, this tiny statement resonated with me.
A pastor in one of my former churches would preach every Sunday. Each Sunday I would sit there bored out of my mind. I was hearing the most exciting news ever talked about in a way that would never appeal to me. There was no emotion in the dull, monotone monologues that were called sermons by some.
These sermons led to me to wonder if the man truly believed what he was saying. Interestingly, he even spoke against emotion coming into the church. It was almost that he was anti-emotion. Like he was trying to purposely downplay the Gospel and its effect on those who follow Christ.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not into emotionalism for the same of drawing a crowd. Many with some skill and training can learn to whip a congregation into frenzy.
However, there has to be more to it that simply delivering the news without any appearance of it affecting the emotions. Surely, you can’t just bore the hell out of people.
We have the most exciting Person that has ever walked this earth in our lives. His message is something that draws us to come to know Him and follow Him.
Let’s live like it.
Let’s live exciting lives in the name of Jesus. That doesn’t mean that you have to wave your hands or dance. I probably won’t. That’s doesn’t mean that the emotions that He gave me aren’t running high when I talk, sing or worship with my brothers and sister. I’m not going to stand there stone cold either.
Let’s not try to bore the hell out of people. Let’s proclaim Him in a manner worthy of the One we love and worship.
Have you ever been guilty of trying to bore the hell out of people? Does Christ and the Gospel excite you?