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Archive for April, 2013

From The Archives: My Alternative Lifestyle

April 30, 2013 1 comment

A post from a couple of years ago.

Last night I bought a CD.  Yes, I bought a CD rather than downloading iTunes.  It was an 80’s alternative rock anthology.  What I realized after listening to it for a while was that I tried to live an alternative lifestyle for much of my life without realizing it.

When I was a teenager, I bought and collected comic books.  At it’s zenith, my comic book buying reached around $100 per month.  Put that in today’s dollars.  It’s a good thing I had a job.

When I was in college, I sought out music that no one I knew was listening to.  I was probably the only person at my college listening to the Bodeans.

What I realize now was that none of this satisfied me.  Trying to live an alternative lifestyle for the sake of living an alternative lifestyle just wasn’t doing anything for me.  It sure didn’t make me happy.

In 1994, all of that changed.  I entered into an alternative lifestyle without really trying to .  How did I do it?  I came to know Christ.  Once I came to know Christ, He made me into a new creation.  I was different.  I no longer had to live like the rest of the world.  I could walk in His Spirit.  I could abide in Him.

Now a lot people would say, “That’s not an alternative lifestyle, that’s what a lot of people who go to church do.”  I didn’t mention going to church.  Sure, I do go to church.  But that doesn’t make me someone that lives an alternative lifestyle any more than spending time in a garage makes me a car.  Knowing Christ.  Seeking Christ.  Loving Christ.  Loving His Church.  That’s alternative.  Not just showing up in a building with other people two or three times a week.

How about you?  Do you live an alternative lifestyle?

Categories: Church, Faith Tags: , , ,

Wandering And Being Lost

April 29, 2013 7 comments

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love

I love the lyrics from Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.  Yes, I still love some hymns, as well as some modern praise and worship songs.  This particular line stands out to me every time I hear or sing it.  Prone to wander.  Yes, Lord, I feel it.  Yes, I’m prone to leave this God I love.

They say that all that wander are not lost.  I would agree with that.  But I think the opposite is true as well.  Some that wander are lost.  Some are wandering are lost.  Let me explain, though, what I mean by lost.

What I don’t mean in this context is salvation.  That is the topic for another post.  No, what I mean is that feeling of being untethered.  The sense of drifting away that can happen to any of us.

It’s  nothing that we intend to do.  It might start with one simple day.  One day leads to another and suddenly we have drifted and wandered away.  We have wandered and lost our way.

So, how do we prevent that?

We need an anchor.  We need something to hold us close to where we need to be.

We can start with prayer.  It’s hard to drift and wander from the Lord if we are actively talking to Him on a daily basis.  We may justify skipping a day.  Unfortunately, skipping one day leads to a couple and then a week.  Before you know it, there is no prayer life.  We have to fight for it.  Pray.  And pray some more.

Next we can be in God’s word.  It may be a chapter or two.  It doesn’t have to be a lot.  It just needs to be something where we can hear from the Lord in what He has already spoken.

Finally, it’s good to know what your focuses in life should be.  It might be two or three.  It be seven.  Call them your values or your personal constitution.  It doesn’t matter.  Just know them.  Write them down.  Keep them handy.  Use them to help you stay grounded.

Do you ever wander and feel lost?

A Shocking Confession

April 26, 2013 18 comments

What I’m going to do today may shock you. It may change your view of me forever.

I love the Bible. I love to read it. I love to teach it and preach it. However, there is one book of the Bible that I don’t like and you won’t believe which one it is.

I don’t like the Psalms.

Ask most people to name their least favorite book in the Bible, you will hear Numbers. Leviticus. Maybe 1 and 2 Chronicles.

Not the Psalms. They are beloved to most people. Not me.

Don’t misunderstand. I read them. I have some that I enjoy.

But as a whole I don’t like them. I don’t enjoy them like others do.

I think it has something to do with poetry. Poetry can be beautiful, but to just sit down and read it is difficult for me. I prefer narratives and letters.

Now, if I got to listen to them put to music, it might be a different. Maybe it I was able to hear them sung by the choirs as they were originally meant to be, I would have a totally different opinion of the Psalms.

So, if you want to know what my favorite book of the Bible is, I’ll let you know that too. It’s the Gospel of John, with Ephesians right on its heels.

What’s your least favorite book of the Bible? What’s your favorite?

From The Archives: Great Expectations

A post from a couple of years ago

At the time that I am writing this, I have just finished reading a guest blog over at Stuff Christians Like.  My reaction to this is not what I thought it would be.  I sat there thinking to myself, “Why can’t I write like that?  Why can’t I be that funny?  I want to write that kind of humorous blog.”  I sat there for a while thinking back over the past few weeks of writing Deuceology.  Several of my posts have been my attempt at humor.  Others have been serious.  Some have simply been about whatever I have on my mind at the time.  A good number are doing my usual rant about what should change in our churches.

The point of this is basically something Popeye said a few years back.  I am what I am.  I just can’t force what I write about.  I write what I write, even if I’m writing about my writing.  Did that just make any sense to anyone but me?  I mean, today I’m writing about my writing.  Tomorrow may be a humorous take on something.  The next day it may be about twenty-five things I love about my church and twenty-five things I don’t like about my church (thanks for letting me put that preview of an upcoming Twofer Tuesday in here).  Basically, what I realize is that I’m just going to be me in this blog.  And guess what?

We all need to do that.  Quit trying to be like someone else.  Quit expecting others to be someone else.  Manage your expectations of
others.  I read another blog the other day where a Christian couple tried to share their faith, unsuccessfully, to a waiter.  He didn’t want to hear any of it.  They couldn’t understand why he didn’t jump at the opportunity once he was told the truth.  Their expectation was that he would jump at the opportunity to be saved and Christian like them.  They don’t realize that the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (see 1 Corinthians 1:18 for the biblical reference).  Their expectation is that it isn’t foolishness to them.

The great thing is that for those of us who know Christ, the opposite is true.  For us, the word of the cross is the power of God.  Our expectation should be that we would live according to this power.  The expectation that I have of myself should be that I would live according to this power.  What kind of should that be for us?  A Great Expectation.  Unfortunately, we have misplaced expectations.

My expectation should not be that I am a funny blogger like Jon Acuff all of the time.  My expectation should not be that I  live like the word of the cross is foolishness.  My expectation should be that I live as though that word of the cross is the power of God.  And that is transforming.

With what kind of expectations do you live your life?  As thought the word of the cross is foolishness?  Or as though it’s the power of God?  Is your life full of a great expectation?

Fruit, Gifts and Talents

For whatever reason I’ve been thinking about these three things lately. Fruit, gifts and talents. The specific thought I’ve had about them is that many of us seem to confuse them and don’t really differentiate them. So let’s take a look at them.

Sometimes you will hear someone referred to as a “gifted” musician. The problem is that I have not met someone that from day one could automatically pick up an instrument and be world class from day one. Do I think that there are some people born with a talent that the rest of us don’t have? Absolutely. But they have to spend their time developing their talent to be as good as possible. And if they don’t use it, they tend to lose it. All of us are born with certain talents. Me? I was born with a talent of being able to run fast. I developed that for many years. I wasn’t the fastest person in the world, but I was faster than most.

Gifts are a different story. People are born with gifts as well. They are born with them as result of the second birth. The cool thing is that since these gifts from the sHoly Spirit, He can give you any gift that He wants whenever He wants. I don’t believe that He gives you one gift when you come to know Christ and then will never give you another.

One thing that that seems to happen is that He gives gifts that don’t necessarily coincide with natural abilities. For example, someone who may not be a natural public speaker may be given the gift of proclaiming the word of God. God seems to like to gift us in ways that put us in situations that are outside of our comfort zones.

Finally, there’s fruit. I am still trying to get my arms around this one. I have thought of this one much like I have thought of gifts. I don’t have patience? Well, then the Lord just hasn’t given me that fruit yet. Somehow, though, I’ve figured out that I’ve had it all wrong.

You have the fruit of the Spirit within you once you come to know Christ. The closer you develop your relationship, the more that fruit grows. How do you know? Your patience grows. So does your self-control, love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and faithfulness. Your fruit is the characteristics of your relationship with Christ. As my pastor said recently, they are demonstrations of our spiritual maturity.

All of us who follow Christ have talents, gifts and fruit. The main thing we must focus on is to make sure that they glorify the Lord.

Do you know what your talents and gifts are? Is the fruit evident in your life?

From The Archives: Playing The God Card

April 23, 2013 2 comments

This is a post from a couple of years ago.

I was speaking to someone the other day.  We were talking about another person doing a work in their church.  He responded by basically saying, “God told them they didn’t have to.”  Those weren’t the exact words, but basically it gets down to that.  This person had played the God Card.

You know what the God Card is, right?  It’s what those of us in the church often use to justify what we want to do or to get us out of what we don’t want to do.  Someone asks you to do something.  Your answer?  “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel led by the Lord to do that.”  Someone asks you why you are doing something.  Your response?  “God has led me to do it.”  Once that happens the argument is over.  Who are we to question whether God wants or doesn’t want someone to do something?  Who are we to oppose God’s will?  The God Card has been played.

Guess what?

Most of us have played it.  I have.  I wanted to go to seminary.  I felt “called” by God to do it.  I was telling someone about it.  They said I have better get busy going since God wanted me to do it.  They implied that I needed to leave right then and begin.  After all, God wanted me to do it.  This was the best answer I ever got.  It started me on the path to realize that I really wanted to blame God for what I wanted to do.  That way I didn’t have to take responsiblity for my decision.  The decision was in God’s hands.  After all, what else could I do but follow the Lord?

Why do we do this?  If someone asks you to work in, let’s just say for kicks, VBS.  If you say, “No, I don’t like VBS”, then you will be viewed as someone who is incredibly selfish and does not want to sacrifice for the kids.  However, if your answer is “I don’t feel led by the Lord”, then no one can view you in any other light than being obedient to God.  See the difference?  And let’s face it.  It happens all of the time.

Let’s just be honest.  If we are pursuing God with all we have, get asked to do something or want to do something, just do it.  If you don’t want to, don’t do it.  Man up and take responsibility.  Don’t worry about what someone else thinks.  Charge after Christ with everything you have and do what you want.  Don’t look back and don’t play the God Card.

Have you ever played the God Card to get your way?  I would love to hear examples of how others have done it.

Categories: Christianity, Church, Faith Tags: , , ,

Am I More Powerful Than Lazarus?

April 22, 2013 4 comments

I love the story about Lazarus in the Bible. You know it, don’t you?

Lazarus died. Word came to Jesus. Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were good friends of Jesus. They had seen him heal the sick. Lepers had been cured. The dead had been raised. So they knew that if Jesus could get there, Lazarus could be healed. Instead, Jesus held off. He waited.

And Lazarus died.

Jesus waited a bit longer. Then he looked at the disciples and said, “Let’s go.” He arrived on the scene after Lazarus had been buried. He had been in the tomb for four days. He was troubled by the condition everyone was in. So, he said to show him the tomb.

What did Jesus do? He said to roll the tomb away. Imagine what they were thinking. The smell coming from the tomb would be horrible. But they did it. They did as Jesus said. They rolled the stone away.

What did Jesus do? He said, “Lazarus, come forth.”

And Lazarus came forth. And God was glorified.

*****

Let me tell you what Lazarus didn’t do.

Lazarus did not say to himself, “I’m pretty comfortable with my situation right now. I think I’ll stay here a while until Jesus comes back some other time.”

Lazarus did not say, “I’m ok being dead. I’ll just stay where I’m at. I don’t need to come forth.”

Lazarus came alive and came out of the tomb.

Why?

Because Jesus commanded him to come alive and come forth.

*****

Before Christ, you and I were dead in our trespasses and sins. We were stone cold dead. It was as if we were drowned on the bottom of a lake. Jesus dove into the water, swam to the bottom where we were and pulled us out. He breathed new life into us.

He didn’t ask us if we wanted to be rescued.

He didn’t ask us if wanted to be saved.

He didn’t ask us if we wanted to live.

He made us alive.

*****

We don’t have the ability to save ourselves. Dead people can’t make choices on whether to live. Only God can make that choice. He rescues who He rescues. He makes alive who He makes alive. Christ didn’t tell the entire cemetery to come forth. Only Lazarus.

Are you and I more powerful than Lazarus?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , , , , ,