Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the Year

It's the end of 2007. We are going to spend time with my friend Kurt and his family. Kurt pastors in Canon Falls, Minnesota. We were grooms men in each others wedding. We lived together for a summer in the 'hood on 12th avenue in Minneapolis. Kurt basically kept me alive by feeding me for a couple of weeks until I had a paycheck from a new job. We also almost got kicked out of Bible College together. Lots of good history. We will also meet two new members of his family that he and Kari are in the process of adopting after having them as foster kids. Very happy for them!

We will come home in the morning and go to mom and dad's for the traditional ham and beans on New Year's day. Then home for the Rose Bowl! I know that the conventional wisdom says Illinois has no chance of winning. But they did beat Ohio St. at the Horse Shoe so...

Speaking of no chance, Illinois basketball has dug itself a deep hole. They almost have to win the conference or the conference tourney to make the big dance. I really feel that after losing at home to Tennessee St. and Miami of Ohio they would have to win 12 games in conference to be legitimate at large contenders. I am pretty sure they aren't up to it. I hope I am wrong.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Going all the Way

I recently finished reading the book Going all the Way by Craig Groeschel. It is a solid book about preserving intimacy for marriage. Primarily for people who haven't yet gotten marriage Craig does a great job of being biblical and giving practical advice. It would make a great gift for those people in your life who are single from teens on up.

Even though the book didn't really speak to my situation in life it is a valuable resource written in a style that will appeal to many people. This is a very important topic that the church needs to address more than ever before. One of the points Groeschel makes is that other than saying sex belongs in marriage the church in general has done a lousy job teaching about sex. By the way God created sex and orgasms to bond a couple together. Shared pleasure is a strong bond that along with emotional and relational intimacy can help a couple go all the way.

In our culture kids are starting puberty at younger and younger ages. They are also delaying marriage longer into their twenties and sometimes even their thirties. This means that a godly young person must know how to deal with their sexuality in a God honoring way. Some of our kids are going to have to remain celibate for 15 years or more in a society that screams that it isn't normal to wait until marriage. The only message many get as teens and young singles is that sex is dirty or wrong or sinful. This may be one reason we lose so many young people after high school and into the college years.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Great Quote

Thanks to Bob Franquiz for this quote that is so great:

"Let us capture our cities for Christ. I mean literally overwhelm them. Let us do it through the principle of saturation, filling the city with our doctrine. And let us do it through the two secret weapons of a Bible-believing local church: (1) contacting people and (2) contacting people, continuously. If you do that long enough, well enough, and loud enough, you are going to get everyone’s attention. A pastor may not win' everyone this year or the next year, but if he is willing to go to a church and invest his life he will win them one day."

Worship Part3

Should someone who doesn’t know God be encouraged to worship Him or should we encourage them to know Him first? I think that maybe this is a chicken or egg question. But I do know that as people seek God and turn their hearts to Him in worship the Holy Spirit of God reveals Jesus to them in a way that they can understand. The more an honest heart seeks to draw near to God the more they can know Him. The more of His presence they experience the closer it brings them to the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for all of us.

I have found that it is in worshipping the one true God that we find freedom from our idols. As I know Him and His love grows in me I find the idols I have been serving becoming less and less appealing. Worshipping God actually causes me to love Him more and His love cast away fear and doubt freeing me to truly worship in spirit and in truth.

I think yes we should try to bring as many people into our times of worship as possible seekers or believers. In this way we can all grow in truth and truly worship as Jesus sets us free. I am curious as to your thoughts on this so feel free to comment.

Worship Part2

Yesterday we talked about worshippers of God who “even while the worship the Lord they serve their idols.” (2 Kings 17:41) It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a Christian or not this kind of worship is really nothing more than hedging your bets. While God may accept it there is another kind of worshipper that He is seeking.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

Many people in the moment worship in spirit. But they lack in the truth department. Others lack both spirit and truth. What I mean is that we can get caught up in the feeling of a moment when you sense the presence of God’s Spirit in a worship service. But many times we leave and go back to serving our idols. When the next Sunday comes along we go to worship God because that is what our religion asks of us but we continue to give a place to our idols. So we do not worship in truth because we cannot in a worship song proclaim Jesus as Lord while in our hearts we harbor idols of money, sex, porn, relationships, work, family, alcohol, etc. That is not worship in truth.

Others may get caught up in singing a catchy tune with good music but they don’t really understand who it is they are worshipping. They do not know Jesus Christ. While they can still worship in spirit they too cannot worship in truth. Religious people who have knowledge think they are worshipping truth but if we are lacking in love then we truly do not know they God we proclaim to worship for God is love.

But can someone who does not yet know God or who doesn’t proclaim to know Christ worship Him and should we encourage them to do so? We’ll discuss tomorrow. Until then keep a stiff upper lip.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who can worship God?

Is it possible for those who are not Christians to worship God? Many “born again” people would simply say no. But is that correct? I would say no. It is possible for any person who has breath to offer worship to our God or to any other idol or god out there in this world. In fact we know from the Bible that eventually every person will bow down and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the mean time I have been thinking about this since reading a blog post from this dude who has by his own estimate led hundreds of unbelievers in worshipping God.

That’s correct I said unbelievers (or non Christians or unsaved, whatever term makes you feel good). Reading that post brought to mind 2 Kings 17. When the king of Assyria resettled people in Samaria (which was once Israel the northern kingdom) lions began attacking the people so the king sent priests to teach the people how to worship God. The people worshipped God but they also worshipped other gods and practiced child sacrifices and other practices of worship that the God of Israel never envisioned.

They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. (2 Kings 17:33) It goes on to tell us that: “Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.” (2 Kings 17:41) It is easy to say that people who are not followers of Christ are the same kind of worshippers as these settlers of long ago. But really so many who identify themselves as Christians worship the Lord but also serve their idols. They do this in a way that their parents and grandparents taught them.

God is open to receive worship from any sincere heart. But there is a particular kind of worshipper that He is seeking. That is our topic for tomorrow. By then perhaps the fog will lift.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Experience

After our recent traffic accident in which our minivan was totalled we needed to purchase a replacement minivan. We have four children so we need a vehicle that can seat seven. I drove rental vehicle for five weeks and I will admit that I will miss the 2008 Toyota Highlander even though it lacked enough cargo space to grocery shop with our kids with us. It was fun to drive. At the end of five weeks we received our check from the other persons insurance company. For the record esurance (which was the insurance company for the other driver who was at fault) has treated us very well and fairly.

With money in hand we bought a Chrysler Town and Country on ebay. We were able to get it for the price we wanted with the options we were looking for and the mileage range we wanted. My parents and some other people we know who are all over 50 were concerned about buying on ebay. But we have several friends who have purchased vehicles this way and so we were confident. The kicker was that we had to fly to Houston, Texas to pick up the vehicle or we could have had it shipped for about the cost we paid for gas and hotels. But since Rebekah and I had never been to Houston we decided to fly in and enjoy the drive home together with out the kiddos. We enjoyed our time together and saw some places we hadn't seen before.

We drove down to Galveston and walked along the beach on the Gulf of Mexico. We drove through Shreveport Louisiana. We went to the Battlefield National Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We ate lunch on Beal St. in Memphis after driving past Graceland. So part of the buying the vehicle was in the experience for us. I think that it stretches us to get out and see and experience things we never have or don't usually experience. (I even ate an onion.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Winter Weather

Our church is not a large one although our building is pretty big and quite old being almost a hundred years old. And many of our people are seniors who don't like to get outside when there is a freezing rain advisory. So on a morning like this one we have to weigh the value of having a service by how many people will show up versus how much it costs to heat the building. It can cost as much as $150 just to heat it for three hours or so. I would rather have church no matter what but I live next door so I am trying to practice humility by listening to the opinion of other people. It is hard after working hard on a sermon and trying to promote a sermon series like we are doing this month. It would figure if we had a bunch of people who were planning on visiting today.

I haven't blogged much since our accident in October because even typing this much is hard on my wrist and hand. The chair for the desk is also uncomfortable for me. It doesn't seem to bother Rebekah which is evident since she blogs much more than I do. Stay warm and dry today. I hope to have a great crowd next Sunday.