Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Passion or Idolatry...



In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren defines passion as the "bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections you have... What you love to do and what you care about most."

Our passions are unique gifts to us from God. We feel alive and fulfilled when we engage in them. They excite us, and they challenge us. 
But what about when we O.D. on our passions? It goes without saying that we are very prone in our culture to turning a hobby into a god. Idolatry means that we elevate something to the status of  God in our lives. Romans 1:25 says it like this: "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." The picture is very relevant, you take something that God has made for your enjoyment and you begin to worship the creation more than the God who created it in the first place. 
What could be the Idol in your life? What do you think about when you have free time? When you have free time on the internet what are you searching and studying about? Where do you go when you need comfort and encouragement? 
Idols can be anything, it can be a hobby that you love to take part in, it can be a job that feel your worth is defined by, it can be a relationship that you find your acceptance in. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they can easily usurp the supreme place in your life that only God deserves. The tricky part is walking the line between our passions and becoming idolatrous. 

I have found that guys struggle with having a hobby and it not turning into a god. Last week I went to a large IDPA match. IDPA is a competitive shooting sport which I compete in, and it is a hobby that I enjoy. While at the match I was talking to one of the other shooters and he asked me if I get the opportunity to shoot very many local matches each month. I told him that at most I get to shoot one local match every month; and I asked how often he shoots. He responded by telling me that he tries to shoot at least a match 3 times a week but usually 4; and once he retires he hopes to shoot even more. He told me that he shoots on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Wow, that is a lot of shooting, and no doubt takes a great deal of time. 
As I thought over our conversation, I can think of so many guys who fall into this trap. Something starts out a hobby, and then it begins to turn into a god that controls your life. I have seen it with fishing, with sports, with fitness, with jobs etc. and it is never worth the price that it costs. The Lord demands to be our only God (Exodus 10:3-6). I realize this means I may not be the most competitive at my hobby; but that's okay. It scares me to think that I could ever put a hobby over my Lord, or my wife, or my children... It is simply not worth it.
So my challenge is for each of us to look into our lives, and pay special attention to the things that could be manifesting a spot as a god. Decide now what your priorities are going to be; and who you are going to live for. I want to make choices now that I will not regret in the future. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Today...



Life goes by so quickly... I have heard people say this my whole life, but I am now experiencing it first hand. Mason and Maddox are now 6 years old... that is hard for me to believe; 6 years old! What is even more life-changing is that they have now started kindergarten.

It seems like good quality time is harder then ever to come by. There is always somewhere that we need to be: It's another school day, it's a church day, There's a special event that we need to attend, we have a baseball game, or a practice, we were invited to a Birthday party...   There is also always something we need to be doing: the house needs cleaned, the grass needs mowed, the oil needs changed, emails need responded to, supper needs to be cooked, and on and on and on... All of these things are good things, but they keep us so busy that there are times that I look over the span of a day and realize that I had very little quality time with my boys and my wife.

I guess I am writing this just to remind myself to make the most of today... 6 years have flown by so quickly, and if I had to guess I bet the next 6 will go by even faster. Today... We will never get today back... As a Dad and a Husband I want to make it count.

Put the phone down, get off Face-Book, the emails will wait... Go spend time with your family. Make your kids laugh until they start to cry, be silly and goofy with them. Play the games that they want to play. Hold your family close, and reassure them every day how much you love them. The other stuff can wait; but I'm learning that your kids growing up never slows down.

Today... What are you going to do today?

Ephesians 5:15-16 15 "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." 





Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton/ Donald Trump

Image result for trump or hillary

2016... Politically it is without a doubt the most unusual election I have ever experienced. The United States has a population of around 320 Million people and we must choose between Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump to be Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation in the World. I realize some will advocate a 3rd party candidate, but the reality as I see it is that this is throwing a vote away. 

Many have come out in support for the candidate that they feel will be the best for this country; what I find interesting is that the phrase 'the least of two evils' keeps coming up. I have not spoken to anyone recently who is legitimately excited over either of these candidates, rather they are simply choosing the one who lines up with their personal beliefs more-so than the other. 

With the Supreme Court Seats at stake this is bound to be one of the most important elections that plots the course of our nation for many years to come. 

What are we to do as Christians?

1) Pray

I know it goes without saying, but believers need to make this a matter of prayer. God is in control, and in God's sovereignty He is able to work through less then perfect situations, and in less then perfect people.  

1 Timothy 2:1-4 2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We need to pray for a leader who will allow us to live a 'peaceful and quiet life,' we need to pray for a leader who is 'godly and dignified in every way.' because this is 'pleasing in the sight of God.' You say well we know that neither of these candidates are godly or dignified... I agree, but I believe in the power of God and I believe that He can change hearts. What a testimony for one of these candidates to have a redemption story that shows an incredible transformation by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

2) Trust God

We need to Trust God, the future is uncertain... the economy could soar in the coming years; or the economy could crash. The employment rate could go up, but it could also go down. Terror and attacks from our enemies could decrease, but they could also increase. Life as we know it could improve, but it could also get worse. But no matter what happens as Children of God we trust Him!

We trust him because we do not find our joy, our hope, or our peace from our political leaders, we don't find it from our government, we don't find it from our country, we don't find it from our wealth, we find our Joy in the Lord.

At Times, God uses evil rulers to bring Judgment upon his people and bring them back to a right relationship with Him. God raised up Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to punish Judah for their idolatry (2 Kings 20:17-18). After Babylon fulfilled its purpose it was judged for its own wickedness. God did the same with Assyria (Isaiah 10).

It could be that there are rough times in the future of the USA, but it might take rough times to spark a revival in which we 'come to our senses' like the prodigal son and come home to the Lord. If corrupt leadership, or a failing economy sparks true revival it would certainly be worth it.

3) Act

No these two are not the best choices, but they are what we have. I believe that every one of us need to exercise our right to vote. As a Christian, I'm going to look at the two candidates and pick the one that is closest to my Christian values.

I know that some have taken the stance that they are going to abstain from voting all together. Some believe that the most God honoring thing to do is to not cast a vote for either of the candidates on the ballot. I am not sure what good that does?

I believe that abortion is murder. The leading cause of death in our country is not heart disease, and it is not cancer, it is abortion. Hillary Clinton is a proponent of abortion; she believes that a mother has the right to terminate the pregnancy if she wishes. Hundred of Thousands of babies die every year because of abortion. Donald Trump, although he has swayed on the issue throughout the years, He is running on the position of being Pro-Life. Can you imagine the babies that could be saved with a Pro-Life leader in the White-house vs. a Pro-Choice leader in the White-house?

Look at the issues item by item and see which candidate best honors your religious beliefs; and then go and vote for that individual.

It's going to be an interesting time to be alive, and no one of us know what the future holds; but I know who holds the future.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Keep Your Eye On The Ball!!



Mason and Maddox have been playing machine pitch baseball this fall, which has been a big step up from tee-ball. There is one thing that I keep telling the boys every time they go to the plate to bat and that is ‘Keep your eye on the ball!’ In order to hit the ball you have to first see the ball; you have to stay focused at all times.

I think the same could be said about our faith, in order to ‘hit the ball’ we have to stay focused. It is so easy for us to get distracted in life. We are all so busy, and we have so many things that are constantly pulling for our attention; that if we aren’t careful we will forget that we are in the ‘batter’s box’ and we have work to do.

Jesus reminds us in Luke 19:10 that we need to stay focused: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” This point is further acknowledged in Luke 15 when Jesus tells the Parable of the “Lost Sheep”, the “Lost Coin”, and the “Lost Son;” in each of these instances the point is made that Lord is seeking to save that which was lost, and when a lost person is found there is JOY in heaven. Luke 15:7 “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

I wonder if it could be that we have gotten distracted by the things of the world and we have forgotten that our purpose is to see people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Take the blinders off this morning, and realize what your purpose is. Don’t allow satan to distract you with the meaningless things in life, but let the Lord lead you and guide you to a life that will make an eternal difference for His Kingdom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Deny Yourself- Take Up Your Cross- Follow Me

Sermon: Luke 9:23

Carry Your Cross...

Image result for carry cross

For some reason, we have bought into the lie that following Jesus will be easy; not only have we bought into the lie we are spreading this false gospel. 

Church's everywhere are modifying their message to make it more appealing to the masses. The consumer focused mindset has invaded Christianity, to the point that many water down the Biblical gospel in an attempt to make it more palatable and popular. But the reality is that it will never fill you up or satisfy because it is not the true saving gospel of Jesus Christ. 

In Luke 9 Peter makes a confession of who Jesus is:  Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

In this context Jesus tells Peter, and the Disciples, and all followers of him throughout the ages what it will actually look like to be a follower of Jesus.

Luke 9:23-26 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
It’s pretty simple. Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the kingdom of God—anyone who wants to be a Christian—has to face three commands: 1) deny him-self, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow Him
So my question for myself as I start this day:
  • In what ways can I deny myself today? 
How can I show that my life is no longer about me? It's not about me or my happiness, or my wealth, or my kingdom, or my anything else. I wonder if people can see this when they look at my life?
  • In what ways can I take up my cross today?
A cross is a tool of death. To carry a cross means that you have counted the cost and have decided that Jesus is worth it. Jesus is worth whatever it might cost me.

Romans 12 reminds us to be a living sacrifice; we might be alive but our live is already spoken for!
  • In what ways an I following my Lord today?
To follow is the opposite of leading. Are there any tangible ways that I can show that I am following and I am not leading?

These things are not easy and they do not come naturally; but Jesus never said it would come easy.