Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reflecting and Remembering

I have been taught (by some hard lessons) that people are not good at reflecting and remembering. The church sacrificially helps a family ... and the family remembers when it is time to ask for something else.  A pastor walks the road of death and loss with a family and when times get difficult or the pastor has an issue it is like nothing ever happened.  Elijah might have thought about this in his depression in a cave when he, just after destroying the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), found himself running for his life from Ahab and Jezebel.  He is tired, beaten down and he is ready for his time of service to end.  Then God asks a question.  "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

This question is a puzzle that requires both reflection and remembering.  The reflection comes when we look at the question.  Maybe it means "Why are you in this particular place?"  Why is Elijah holed up and reclusive when God has plans for him?  The question could mean, "How is your presence here doing anything productive?"  Elijah has lived his life at the calling of God and now he may be hiding from those duties and actions.  Elijah must reflect and though he gives God his sob story God is having none of it.  God says "go back" and realize that there are 7,000 who are faithful to Him.  Reflecting on the present (things are not as bad as you think) and remembering the past (what happened on Mt. Carmel as the prophets of Baal were destroyed?) allow Elijah to walk into his future and the future of Biblical prophecy.

The remembering comes as Elijah is thinking about a God who speaks to him ... remembering the God has always been there when Elijah cried out ... knowing that the God who commissioned him is still the God of a solid remnant of believers.  Remembering re-tells the story of God's work among His people.

It's easy to feel sorry for ourselves and get caught up in self-pity.  God causes us to reflect and remember so we can get caught up in His work in the world.

Monday, May 18, 2015


I am glad God works differently than our State and National government.  I have been working on a simple insurance issue that should have taken a few minutes.  In fact, the website said "less than three minutes."  BEWARE of the claims of State government!  Three minutes can be an eternity!

Thankfully God operates differently.  First, our connection to God is direct.  We are able to contact God through prayer and the Holy Spirit 24x7 all day long.  In the story of Jesus' crucifixion the symbolic and actual message is clearly sent by God as the curtain in the temple is torn from top to bottom ... pretty cool!  God removed the man-made barrier that the Jewish had placed between people and God.

Second, God does not place us on hold, give us a series of "hoops" to jump through.  As I tried to reach a real person from the State I felt like Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz having to get the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West.  And that is just to talk to someone.  I am thankful I can talk to God as I go through my daily tasks.  David, in the Psalms, did just that, sharing joy and failure with his best and most faithful relationship, God.

Finally, God isn't that fake person that says, "I would like to help, BUT ... "  It is deflating when you finally get to a person and find out they really don't want to help you at all ... they just want to "process" you.  Meat is processed.  Cheese is processed.  People are worth more than that! We know God is El Roi ... the God who hears.  When God hears He takes in the entire situation and does exactly the right thing (not what we ask or want always, but always the perfect thing in His plan).

I am glad for a relationship with a God I can seek, find and place my heart in His hands!

Sunday, May 10, 2015


My life has been in a bit of disorder for the past several weeks.  There has been the three week stay of mom and dad, both a blessing and a disruption of my usual routine.  Sally has been dealing with her own issues, we have been trying to get quotes on painting the church, the storm has trashed the fence at the parsonage, I have a good friend who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer ... you get the point ... I could go on for several paragraphs.  And my situation is minor in comparison to some of you.  The world seems in chaos!

Last week I was talking to one of our members about how worldly chaos is no difficulty for God.  It even says this in the first book of the Bible as God finds a world "formless and void." God brings the formlessness into a form He says is "good" and He fills the void with everything we call "creation."  Pretty amazing I believe.

When we believe our little part of the planet and our little lives are spinning out of control, I think there is a great prayer to pray.  It is simple and faith-filled and approaches God with the belief that He can make something good out of our worst situations.  It is a prayer that claims the promise in Romans 8 that God will not allow His people (those who call upon His name) to be separated from God's love He sent us in Jesus.  In a sense God is saying that sending Jesus to us is His way of repeating the goodness and purity of creation, because God is making all things new!  So my prayer is this ... "God, do it again!"

Monday, May 4, 2015


One of my professors in Seminary rightly observed that pretty much all of the heresies available to the Christian church happened in the first 300 years of the Church.  C. S. Lewis pointed out the human capacity to take something good and distort or weaken it into something harmful.  Both my professor and C. S. Lewis were mirroring the words of Peter in his second letter about truth and knowledge in the Church.  Lewis, Peter and my teacher were all concerned that Christians today have allowed ourselves to be "led away" by false teaching and false representations of the gospel.  I could write books on this topic and still not do it justice, but I will concentrate my efforts on three modern paths that lead many Christians out of God's plan and into falseness.

The first modern heresy (I know we hate that word, but it is accurate) is a new wave of Neo-Judaisers. The Judaisers in Scripture would follow the apostles (read about them in Acts an other epistles) and attempt to "clarify" their teachings.  The Judaisers would tell their audience that they could continue to follow Christ but that they must hold to Jewish customs (food, festivals, sacrifices, traditions, etc.).  Becoming good Jews would solidify their Christian following and walk.  The writer of Hebrews and the Apostle Paul firmly and clearly preached and wrote against these false teachers saying that 1) Jesus (not law, tradition, sacrifices) is the one and totally sufficient means of salvation, 2) Jesus plus NOTHING else brings us to the place where we find God's forgiveness, grace, resurrection and eternal life, 3) Jesus is exactly who He said He was ... truth, life, the way.

The second heresy is Neo-Gnosticism.  The Gnostics in the early days of the Church said that that there was special and secret knowledge that they and their followers possessed.  Peter (Chapter 1) calls their work clever stories and "slanderers of the truth."  Many have and continue to seek truth from untested, extra-Biblical sources.

Finally, probably the most prevalent heresy is "The Prosperity Gospel."  I don't often quote Ray Stevens, but brother Stevens wrote a song in 1987 called, "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex."  It is a somewhat irreverent and funny representation of the television evangelist that asks for money and buys his/her own mega home, jet and all the trimmings of wealth.  When people ask me about this I tell them to look at the people in the Bible.  How did they live and what did they look like?  Only a few prospered materially and all were asked to make heart-wrenching sacrifices.

So ... question of the week ... what does false teaching look like?