It’s What You Paid For It

I really hate the gold commercials on my local Christian radio station. All of them praising gold as a recession proof investment. I don’t really care to argue whether or not the commercial’s claims are true or not because I really have better things to do with my resources than buying shiny rocks.

 

What it do is, it got me thinking about the value of things. The is an old saying, “You can’t eat gold.” The saying is to imply food is more valuable than any material wealth if you can only have one or the other. Further more it implies that gold is only as valuable as what people are willing to exchange for it. If the guy that has beard doesn’t want your gold it doesn’t matter how much gold you have you are the hungry one.

 

Things are really only as valuable as what people are willing to pay for them. Think about it. What makes one work of art more valuable than another? What people will pay for it. Sure you can have the thing appraised, but it is just a guessing game until someone purchases it.

 

In this line of thinking, I was astonished to realize just how much value God has placed on humanity. Before the cross one could easily argue that all of humanity was worthless. But the moment God she’d His own blood to purchase us/me the value changed.

 

I think we fail to appreciate God’s love and the value He placed on us. My people struggle with feelings of their self worth and self esteem when God Himself has called us precious. We fail to understand the comfort and self worth we should take away from gospel.

 

I think many of us have fallen into the trap of self improvement as a means of gaining love, acceptance, and value. You see God isn’t in love with a future version of you somewhere down the line when you get yourself all straightened out. God loves you today. God she’d His blood for you today. He purchased and paid the ultimate price for you today.

 

It is the “love of Christ that compels us”. We are already valued and loved.

Time For Change

There has been a thought burning in my heart for a while and has really been coming to a head as of late. It is the simple question: “If God is the same God of the Bible and His Spirit is the same Spirit that in dwelt the early church, why isn’t He doing now what He did then?” I am not saying I do not see God moving at all, because I have. My issue comes as an issue with the comparison of the wide and powerful impact of the early church and the minor niche impact of the modern church in our society.

 

The Bible clearly states that God does not change. It is clearly stated at several places in colorful and illustrative ways. “There is no shadow of turning”. I consider myself to be Pentecostal yet I can not claim my experience to be on par with the model or example of Pentecost I read in the Bible.

 

A year or two go I preached a sermon about the diminished quality of our Pentecost. I was surprised when I had a family take offense to the sermon. Later I discovered the family was easily offended and we’re really looking for things to get upset about. Surprisingly though I feel it is a touchy subject with most who claim the Pentecostal experience when someone stands up and says our Pentecost is a merger poor shadow of the Pentecost of Acts.

 

I don’t see anywhere that in the Bible where we told we ought to satisfied with less power, less effect, or a narrowed impact. Peter stood up and call a crowd a bunch or murdering sinners and thousands responded. The man John filled with the Holy Spirit preached in the wilderness and crowds came and there was no sign, no wonders just a man speaking in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus told His disciples look, the harvest is ripe right after talking to woman who by even today’s standards would be considered the undesirable, unwanted, and rejected. We live in a culture of undesirables. Where is the promised harvest? Is it not rotting in the fields as the labors sleep?

 

What is our problem?

1.) I believe we refuse to look. No one wants to think about friends or family going to hell. But simply refusing to look does not change the fact. We need to open our eyes.

 

2.) We need to look beyond our assumptions. I think many of us assume that everyone are uninterested, unwilling to hear. When Jesus demonstrated to us that we should never over look anyone. He reached out to the self righteous and He reached out to unrighteous. We need look, to seek so we may find and knock that it might be opened.

 

3.) We need to admit our weakness. Jesus had some pretty harsh words for the lukewarm church in the 3rd chapter of Revelation. He said they were poor, naked, and blind. But that wasn’t the worst part of their condition, because He offers them a solution for their poverty. The worst part of their condition was the denial of their condition. As long as they walked in denial they were condemned to their bankruptcy. We need to come to grips with our ineffectiveness and our own lack of power and Holy Spirit anointing, because we need the healing that only the God can bring.

 

4.) Finally we need to buy of Him, meaning we need to get back to the labor of seeking God. We need to devote ourselves to prayer. We need to engage our mind in the study of the Bible. Pentecost only occurred after prayer and fasting. We need to get back to the old ways. To buy from God like Finney did or any of the old revivalist.

 

A Christianity that cost nothing is worth nothing and does nothing.

Pressing On

Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
— WINSTON CHURCHILL, speech at Harrow School, Harrow, England, October 29, 1941

The tendency of human nature is to move towards the path of least resistance and greatest comfort. I believe that it is for this reason precisely that so few people ever accomplish much of what they would aspire to and so many dreams go unrealized.

I don’t know about you, but I love to start a new project. I am rather handy and choose to do most of my home projects. The difficulties come in when these projects extend beyond a week or so. I can easily get the bulk of the work done, but it is the “little stuff” that loses my interest. I have no problem stepping outside of my comfort zone for a time to get started on my vision, but it is not too long before I find myself slipping back into the comfort of leisure.

I think this sort of thing happens in many areas of our life. How times have you made a budget, to see it get tossed to the wind after the first month? Or since we are not too far removed from New Year’s; how many have already gone back on their New Year’s resolutions? We give ground instead of gain ground. We set out with good goals and maybe even plans, but we compromise and compromise a little more, until we have compromised so much we loose sight of the goal.

I also believe this is a problem that plagues many believers in their Christian walk. Many believers in Christ die a “cold death” in their Christian faith. They once had dreams, hopes, and prayers, but now, for some reason, the fire has gone out and the passion and the conviction and even a part of the faith has gone. The fire has gone out and what was once hot is now cold or lukewarm.

What causes is decline? The reasons can be many, but the cause has always been a retreat in the individual’s Christian walk. It can be a moral retreat, where the believer begins to compromise for the sake of comfort or ease instead of being thankful for what God has given and holding out for what He has promised. It can be a retreat of priorities, where the believer lets so many other things rob time and resources. Others choose to wave the white flag and quit.

The reason may vary from temptation, laziness, or discouragement, but whatever the cause or reasons every retreat must be regained, every line redrawn, and every fence mended. Where you have given in you must reverse course. In the Bible after Abraham made a mess of things by having his wife lie in order to say his skin, God brought him back to the old alters. Alters in the Old Testament alters were the place where promises and commitments made between God and man. The road back to your passion is back down the road to the place where it started.

Do not get discouraged and do not give up and do not give in.

Real Peace

What do you think of when you think of real peace? Is it a green meadow on a hill somewhere with a light breeze, or your comfy bed in the early hours of those mornings when you know you can sleep in, or maybe on a beach somewhere far away from your job and the hustle of everyday life.

I tend to think about my childhood. When I was a child and had a bad dream I would get up and go out to the living room and snuggle with my mother on the couch. She was a single parent when I was young and she spent many nights worrying about things like money, time, and trying to raise her three children alone. All things I really never grasped until I got older and had children of my own. Even then I have been blessed with a good wife and mother to my two children and could never dream of how I would ever manage alone.

When I went out to that couch and snuggled on my mother’s lap fear would be calmed and my anxious mind would find rest and peace. I many of my early memories are fond memories of sitting there late at night, sometimes eating popcorn, and feeling safe. My mother was able to calm my fears, because she was bigger than me and she was bigger than my nightmares. When you are child there is no one bigger or stronger or of greater authority than your parents.

Though I am sure that my presence out on that couch probably brought some comfort to my mother, at least, hopefully reassuring that she truly was a great parent; it did very little to help with worries about how to make ends meet, other than to put them off for a time.

Putting worries off for a time seems to be the default method of dealing for many people these days. Some do it so well that they live as though they have no money problems until the credit limits are reached and they find themselves in real trouble. Is that the best we can do or the only peace that we can hope to find, to simply refuse to think about it?

Well, I would say the answer is a resounding “NO”. We just simply need to find someone that is bigger than we are, someone that is bigger than the problems that we are facing. As a Christian I have found that “someone”.

Jesus Christ, who said:

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Jesus Christ, who has put the invitation out:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

This Jesus is the source of true comfort and rest. When I am uncertain or afraid of circumstances that I am facing I am able to curl up on His couch. Things don’t always turn out the way I want them and my life story is does not read like a list of supernatural deliverances from impossible situations, but as a Christian I truly say that I have never faced a problem that I was not able to bring to Him and find the rest I was looking for.

Real peace is not a meadow, or a beach somewhere away from life. Real peace happens in the middle of real life, even when real life is best described as a storm, because let’s face it, running away from problems really does not get us anywhere if the problems are real. The only time running away has ever gotten us anywhere is when the problems were imaginary and in that case new ones always arrive, because we are the common denominator.

So, where does the rub hit the road? As a pastor, I have had the privileged of walking with fellow believers to the end. Some have walked that path after the long journey of life and others have found themselves their with that dread “doctor’s phone call.” I can tell you it works. Every time someone puts their trust in Jesus there comes peace.

This is not the same as surrender and this does not mean that we don’t pray for deliverance, but it is trusting God to take care of us regardless of what happens. It is knowing that when we are at the end of ourself, God is big enough to carry us through. It is knowing that there is something bigger than this life and trusting God with that, too.

So, where is does this get personal to me? I am a blessed father of two beautiful little girls and my wife is 10 weeks pregnant with our third. Today at work I got the phone call from my wife, “I am bleeding.” There can be a lot of things that go through your mind in moment when you hear that. The first thought, “was how bad, are YOU okay?” Then there comes the realization that this could mean there is something wrong with the pregnancy, and this could be a miscarriage. My wife called the doctor, and I have been around long enough to know what they would say, but I kept still. There is nothing that the doctor can do at this point. So, either the baby will live or the baby will die. There nothing to be done, other than pray and trust God.

There is only one place to go to find peace in a circumstance that you have no control over. I find myself running to someone that is bigger than me. Someone who loves me. That’s where the real peace can be found.