Monthly Archives: February 2004

Where Is the Focus?

I recently read a stastics that 80% of the time, energy, and money spent by many churches goes towards making weekend services happen. But this drives “Sunday-Centric” churches to always be looking for something new to keep the consumers happy.

Should a churches’ focus be the appetites of men or the glory of God? Why are we always trying to be culturally relevant when much of what this culture stands for goes directly against the Word of God?

I am starting to wonder if one of the reasons that we have not seen God pour out His Spirit in greater measures in our lives and fellowships is because we have asked for something else.

Oh, God. Make me ready to be a true worshipper. Focus my attention where it should be. Help me to stay on target and walk in greater revelation of Your love for me. Purge me. Turn my appetities to crave spiritual things. Consecrate me. Make me fully devoted to You!

Porches & Fences

While driving through Church Hill today, I was struck by how many of the old homes have porches on the front of the buildings. Many of these homes were built 100 years ago – back when people were not as busy and life moved at a much slower pace. Then I saw a handful of older African Americans sitting on their porches talking to each other. This is not an odd thing to see in the city. Many of the older adults spend a lot of time sitting on their porches watching people go by or talking with neighbors. I have often wondered, ‘Don’t these people get bored? They should be doing something.’

But maybe these people are the ones with the right idea. Maybe I can learn from them. I wonder if they think, ‘Why is everyone else always busy and in such a hurry? Is the next destination really that important?’ Then again maybe we both can learn something from each other.

A few streets down the road, I saw a house with a fence around it. The fence basically said to any possible visitor or thief, ‘Go away! You’re not welcome here.’ In the city, many have fences because they fear drug addicts or thieves looking for anything to steal to turn quick buck. Fences can be a good way to protect your family and yourself. Let’s face it. Not everyone walking the streets is someone that you may want to let into your life. We even need to be careful with how we give people access to our heart. Some people just can’t be trusted to do the right thing.

As I thought about the differences between fences and porches, I weighed the pros and cons looking for a reasonable answer. Then I remembered the saying, ‘Fences make good neighbors.’ A second later the Spirit said to me, “Porches make good neighbors.”It’s hard to argue with that because Jesus never really erected a fence around anything except for saving time to be with the Father and His Disciples. Jesus opened up His life and called us to do the same.

There must be a middle ground between doing nothing and being busy to the point that you are in reality doing nothing of eternal worth. Where is the balance between tall fences and shallow porches?

I am too busy. I need to slow down, but it seems like something I have a hard time doing. I have always been a doer. Rush, rush. Plan, plan. It just seems to be the right thing to do. But there is a way that seems right to a man that leads to death.

Oh Father, help me to submit ‘my’ time to you. Enable me to let go. You need to steer this pinto. Guide me to the center of the road. I desire to protect those things worth protecting and to be open in all of the other areas of my life. May my life be more like a porch…especially when it comes to spending time alone with You. Amen!

Violent Grace

It can be real easy to lose the shear horror of the cross. The Passion of Christ captures it well. Sometimes it can be easy to disregard Jesus’ humanity because of His deity. I can get in the mindset that Jesus was just “pretending” to be human. This portrayal of Jesus’ final hours reveal how violent God’s grace really is.

I found myself relating to the pain, trial and struggle of many key characters including Peter, Judas, Mary, Pilate and the adulterous woman. The scenes with Judas really hit me. I thought about all the times that I had betrayed Christ with a kiss? I whisper praise and worship to him on Sunday while denying the cross the rest of the week. I think we all have a bit of Judas in us. But thank God, some of us end up like Peter. Although he messed up, he found forgiveness in the end.

The move is very graphic and violent. But so is reality. Much of what is in the Bible is R-rated.

As far as the movie goes, I would like to have seen more on the resurrection and the flashbacks with Jesus’ life and teaching. These scenes help us to identify with the radical nature of Christ’s message as well as the humanity of Jesus. The more human you can make Jesus, the greater impact the scenes of his scourging and death have on the audience. I was captivated and amazed the entire time.

Truly Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the greatest love story ever told.

A Prayer of Daily Surrender

Holy God, I bow before You and submit my life to You this day.Take my will, heart, mind, emotions, and body confirm them to Your will. May the use of my time, resources and relationships bring You glory. Help me to see people as You see them.Thank You for saving and loving me when I am unlovable. Equip me with a greater measure of Your spirit and spiritual gifts that I may serve Your Body. Provide opportunities to impact the lives of others today and to enjoy being with You as Your child. Revive my heart with the wonder of Your love. With child-like excitement, may I discover the deep mysteries of Your Kingdom.

Search my life and show me any wicked way in me. Forgive me of my sin and cleanse me from my past. Keep me from acting with mixed motives.

I desire to live Your divine life today. Guide me by Your Spirit. May I walk in love, humility and supernatural strength to be what You have called me to be. Amen!

In the Shower of God’s Love

Every day I wake up and God cleanses me anew. As the shower washes sleep out of my eyes, I awaken to a greater revelation of God’s love. The past is washed away. The day is made new.

I hope in the power of Christ’s blood and the transformation of the soul by God’s Spirit. Oh God, wash me with Your Word ever morning. Renew my mind.

Am I clean? I am clean. I am clean!!!

The Colors of Heaven

“Let the colors of heaven fill our lives that we would color this world with the love and glory of God.”

This is a paraphrase of a prayer that I heard the other day. Wow, we are God’s crayons as He draws a masterpiece on the canvas of eternity. Let that sink in and it will change the way you look at yourself.

Belief Projecting

After writing “Religious Persecution – Made in China,” I have stopped to consider the ramifications of taking a strong stance on something. In a Technicolor world where everything is ‘relative’ is there really room for people that see life in black and white? If there’s an issue, you likely will find people on every possible side. And most ‘true believers’ usually think their opinion is the only right one. Not that there’s anything wrong with thinking this way… right?

Maneuvering the maze of public opinion and peer pressure can be dangerous. This is especially true if you get caught up in the beliefs of others without having personal convictions of your own. One of my big mantras is “Know God for yourself.” You may be thinking, ‘Which god are you talking about…Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha?’ If you’re really postmodern, you’re probably thinking, ‘Do I have to start off with the presumption that there is a god?’

Wait a minute partner. Before your intellectual defenses go up, stop and listen to what I have to say. Over the past several years, being ‘open’ and ‘tolerant’ has become the backstage pass to being culturally relevant – not that anyone has effectively defined what these terms mean. Doing such a thing would be very un-open and intolerant…right?

From woman as senior pastors to condoning homosexuality to discouraging children from reading Harry Potter or playing with Pokemon, there are tons of issues where Christians do not agree. Add on top of all the cultural issues going on today the traditional dogmatic disagreements over doctrine and it’s easy to see why the modern Church is so divided. But I must stop and ask, ‘Are differences bad?’

Notice how I quickly twisted together differences and division and made them almost interchangeable. I believe that many people live with the mindset that differences of opinion must always lead to division.

As we see from the original twelve disciples of Jesus, this does not have to be true. Some of these men would have just as rather beaten each other up as look at each other had it not been for Jesus bringing them together. Despite their political, religious and personality differences, the love of Jesus Christ overcame any division. Jesus’ last prayers before the crucifixion focused on the unity of His disciples. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus taught that a house divided against itself will not stand.

Some may think that I am making an underhanded pitch for relative truth. Quite the contrary, I am calling people to embrace the way, the truth and the life. Christians should be able to co-exist without having to agree on every little detail. Yet truth remains the domain of God alone. We do not determine truth. God does. The living Word as seen through the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of truth.

Yet there are some things that are more a matter of personal conscience and not pure Biblical doctrine. Whatever you do, it should be done in faith (Romans 14:23). If your conscience bothers you, you probably better reconsider what you are doing. Some people can watch R-rated movies or drink a beer without it bothering them one bit. For someone else, it would be a sin. I am learning that it is not my place to bash people over the head with my personal convictions.

While I may be free to share my opinion, I should be willing to let things go. I must trust God to deal with them if they even need to be ‘dealt with’ at all. God has called me to love people where they are to where He wants them to be. Raising public awareness on social injustice or holding to old fashioned standards may be a God thing. But it can quickly lose the anointing if I try to make a personal crusade out of a God thing.