Glad I’m Not You

downloadI remember in the late 60s in San Fernando Valley, there was a new phenomenon in churches. The non-denominational. A couple girls we knew told us with pride that they attended Hillcrest Christian Church. It’s non denonminational, that makes it christian. Others went to Grace Community Church. same sense of pride. My friend Fred told them they, in fact, attended a church in a denomination. He told them that their denomination was called, ready?, non-denominational.

John MacArthur tells a story that while visiting white house staff during the Bush presidency, he asked the staff if they looked upon liberals and democrats as the enemy or the mission field. It was eye opening, and heart breaking to many of them. For they did look at the other side as the enemy. And don’t they still do that, only worse?

Today, politicians, can not agree with someone across the aisle because they are the enemy. Today, churches can not look outside their walls to work together to reach the lost in their communities. They have trouble going between, to paraphrase Luther, the glory of the congregation and the Glory of the Gospel. I am looking forward to Movement Day AZ in September to see if something can be done to bring churches together. http://movementdayarizona.com/

Most tragic is the fact that old wounds are being opened up concerning race and ethnic divides. I know that many will want to lecture me that the problems never went away. For that, I am very aware.

My friend Fred had a joke that went like, life is the sentence you pay for the crime of being born. It was a joke. But my prayer is that people will know the joy of being born different in terms of location, color, ethnicity and the acceptance that God demands. That life is a wonderful reward for being born, no matter where.

The title of this post is a joke. I am exactly like you, and loving it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RICK AND ME

April is birthday month for me and my friend Ricky. He was always older than me. He could always throw harder than me. He could run faster than me. He was stronger than me. I always could sing better than him though. Or at least that is what Marcel said. Marcel would put his finger in the ear on he side that Rick was on when we sang in choir. I figured that meant he didn’t need to drown me out.

Our greatest times were during our high school days at San Fernando First Baptist. They were perhaps my overall favorite days. The days were filled with fun, joy, learning, growth. Some of us did not grow as quickly as the others. But we all did okay.

This time of year, April, especially today, April 3, is the time I think about Ricky and all my friends from San Fernando and all of the others I met as a member of that group. It truly was the Innocent Age. Happy Birthday, Greg. Happy Birthday Ricky. Happy Memories my friends.

ACCEPT, COMPLY, CONDONE, EXIST

coexistOverheard as I was reading this morning, a quote from Stephen Holmes: we always have to be careful not to invest our own interpretations of Scripture with the authority that only the text itself carries; but we must never set it aside.    

It seems every once in awhile we see an example of a well intentioned church leader who, in their loving desire to embrace all will tend to misuse or even reinvent scripture in order to make certain people feel acceptable. In that haste, they mistakenly allow some to feel vindicated with their beliefs.

That is unfortunate. As our methods should be open to change, the message should never change. The saving grace of Jesus Christ, the formation of the church and the fellowship of the body can never be changed.

 

 

 

CCCU, LBGT, NAE ALL SPELL TROUBLE THREE (OF MY MANY) THOUGHTS

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/december-web-only/fairness-for-all-evangelicals-explore-truce-lgbt-cccu-nae.html

There is a such thing as “Confrontation To Come”. It is one of the worries that drive so many people crazy.

Liberals are worried about what is to come now that their candidate did not win the recent election.

Some members of society are worried because the rhetoric they are hearing has them scared.

Christian colleges and bakers are worried because of lawsuits and statements from politicians.

Guess what. Confrontations may come in the future. But instead of worrying about them and planning out who is on your side and a course of defense, perhaps we should be restudying what Peter told us in I Peter 3, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Here are three of my thoughts, oh I have more, concerning the questions concerning two groups of differing beliefs:

  1. THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT DIFFERENT THINGS                                                                   One side is arguing a political point. All groupings of people should have rights concerning benefits, duel ownership, survivor rights. Whether it be a man and woman living together, two women living together, a brother and sister who own a home or want to be on same insurance, two business partners who want to establish each other as beneficiaries. The other side is arguing about a Biblical teaching. God established certain guidelines and they believe. It is a fact that one cannot legislate Biblical teaching and one cannot legislate what is contrary to Biblical truth. FIND COMMON GROUND TO ARGUE ABOUT. BUT FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU BOTH AGREE ON FIRST.
  2. YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THAT YOU NEED EACH OTHER                                                          In many countries, people on both ends of the spectrum are in the same situation. People are being persecuted for proclaiming Jesus as the savior of the world. People are being persecuted for their choices in sexuality. Don’t both sides have compassion as one of their mandates, if you will? There are different reasons why they are persecuted. But the fact remains they are both being slaughtered for what they believe. WE ALL SHOULD STATE OUR VIEWS WITH A GREAT DEAL OF PASSION, AS PETER TOLD HIS READERS. HOWEVER, WE MUST DO IT WITH RESPECT FOR THE OTHER. AND FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU BOTH AGREE ON FIRST.
  3. DID I MENTION FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU AGREE ON  FIRST?                                      That would mean sitting down and talking. Getting together and finding like interests. Jesus was the most inclusive person that ever lived. He partied with people the established, prideful, narrow minded people would never associate with. Partied. One side has always felt disenfranchised and the other side is told to be as inclusive as Jesus. Where do we get divisions and fighting from  that?                                           THE TWO SIDES WILL NEVER TOTALLY AGREE.  BUT NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE THEIR LIFE PREPARING FOR THE CONFRONTATION TO COME

NO RELIGION IN POLITICS, POLITICS IS A RELIGION

american-flag

Just as Monday is a day to reflect on Sunday’s church experience with our fellowship of believers and plan out the week on honoring God by serving others, Tuesday is a day we reflect on political issues, or figure how our walk with God betters our political statements.

Just as we don’t like talking religion, we are more than willing to discuss our faith, we don’t like to talk politics, but like discussing how our faith should reflect our political stance.

Today is a simple one. The election has past. The outcome has been decided. The transition has begun. By the way, I have nothing against the current president personally, I have never met him, but I have disagreed with many of his decisions. That never made him or I lesser men, just disagreed. He said many years ago that his side won and he was in charge. One of the best ways of looking at it. It was time to give him the opportunity to fail that all presidents should be offered. Another great thing he has said recently is that the other side won the recent election and it was up to his side to allow the incoming president the opportunity to fail. That’s politics.

In a country such as ours, we need to allow the other side the opportunity to fail and more so, to succeed. I honor the outgoing president in what he initiated that was successful and I lament what has failed. We need to do the same for the incoming president.

My three thoughts on this transitions are:

One side wins and the other side should support the victors. It hurts to lose especially when the next try is 4 years down the road. But as you begin plan out your victory down the road, it is prudent to come together as a country to support our democracy. Mitch McConnell should have learned that 9 years ago.

Secondly, Religion should never be apart of an election. Not to say one’s view on faith and the Kingdom of God should not determine how they vote. But we should be voting against two systems, God’s system and the system Satan has built. We don’t vote for a personality. We vote on a platform that best conveys the plan of God. If a republican platform best reflects that, then you should vote republican. Likewise, if the democratic platform best reflects what God would want from all of us, then vote that way. No such thing as religious right or socially conscious Christians.

Thirdly, my takeaway from this most recent election process is that the divisions in this country appear too great to heal. Again, I believe with common sense, restraint and God’s help, the divisions can be healed.

#reachesofreconciliation

 

MERRY EASTER TO ALL

easter-bunny

Monday is for reflecting on Sunday worship experience and look forward to a week of honoring God by serving others. Overheard as I was sleeping during the message yesterday: Jesus did not come so we might have Christmas. Jesus came so we might have Easter. David Harris

The message was on Joy yesterday. Actually, the message everyday should be about Joy. David talked about the Message of Joy, Messengers of Joy, the Breadth of Joy.

Luke 2:10 says the Angel said to them, “Do Not Be Afraid, I bring you Good news that will cause Great Joy for the all the people.” I believe that. The Joy in Jesus is better than any “happy place” we can come up with on our own.

We also read this morning that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, that all sacrifices before, and especially since, are no match for what Jesus did for us on the cross.

It struck me that while the high priest did all the ritualistic things he was supposed to while sacrificing, over and over, animals, he always stood. When Jesus made Himself the ultimate sacrifice, He then sat at the Right Hand of God. Sat down because it was finished. No need for further sacrifice, just worship.

Here is something to remember, there is no chair to sit down on or mat to kneel on in the Atonement Room. It is work, work, work. And still, it is not enough. It saddens me that people try to do for Jesus instead of allowing Jesus to do through them.

Good News is the coming of Jesus. He came for many reasons. Here are a few thoughts I have:

Jesus came because God promised He would come. His birth, life, death and resurrection was the fulfillment of the promises God gave starting with in the garden all the way through the Old Testament. Isaiah 9:6  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”                                                                 

Jesus came so He could show us how to great others. How to treat our families. How to treat our loved ones. How to treat those who are difficult to love. He did not come to show us how to be God, or perfect. He taught us how to be men and women who Honor God by Serving Others. #LoveGodandHonorHimByServingOthers  Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus came to be the ultimate sacrifice for all the world. The only way to God, the Father is through Jesus Christ. I guess that will always be a sticking point. We want to make it tougher than it really is. No amount of trying to follow rules, being perfect, being better than the next guy, will get us to God. No amount of trying to redefine God the way we want Him to be will get us closer to Him.

John 3:16-17  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

II Corinthians 5:18-19  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.#ReachesofReconciliation 

Knowing that brings Joy to my heart.

 

 

WelcomeThe Disen-Churchized

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Overheard as I was reading a couple of blogs: Here is a quote from small church guru Karl Vaters, Many small churches fulfill the needs of a specific group of people. I’m convinced that the NICHE CHURCH will serve a larger group of people in the next generation or two.

This is encouraging for many people on the outside of many types of churches. Every church has a title now. A multi-site, a mega-church, a blended style church, a church plant, a new one I just learned, a turn-around church, a dying church, a multi-ethnic church.

However, a niche church may be for those who have a heart for service but not necessarily a stomach for the politics, at any level or type of church. The church is important and I encourage every one to be part of a fellowship, somewhere.

But just like your politicians in real life have a term for those not a part of any group, the disenfranchised, there may be a term for those followers of Christ not connected to a local, or in this day and age when people drive for miles to get to their favorite church de mois, church, the term may be DISENCHURHIZED.

I am hoping the Niche Church can become a viable important part of the Church Christ set out to build back 2000 years ago. I a reminded of the time a pastor told a pastor friend he had between 2 and 3 hundred people involved in Sunday evening services. When his friend visited one Sunday evening, there were 37 people there. When he confronted his friend about the perceived lie, his friend merely pointed out that 37 is between 2 and 300. What’s in a number?