Boaty McBoatface

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
~ Proverbs 26:4

The British government had a brilliant idea for determining the name of its new polar research vessel. They decided to poll the internet for suggestions. To their surprise the name “Boaty McBoatface” was by far the most popular name suggested. Needless to say the British government will not be naming their new, multi-million dollar research vessel “Boaty McBoatface.” Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said there were more “suitable names.” The new research vessel will be named “RRS Sir David Attenborough.” If you think I am making this up, here is the LINK.

There really was no serious discussion as why they were going to discard the populous suggestion. Any serious discussion would have been ridiculous, foolishness, and a waste of time.

The world is full of foolish people with silly arguments. I know this and you know this and we all know that any attempt at a serious discussion with a fool or someone blatantly pig headed is a waste of time. So why is it so difficult at times to bite our lip and not get caught up in arguing with stupid?

I don’t know about you, but I have found myself on Facebook and someone leaves a stupid comment and then all the witty retorts start come streaming into my mind. I know, that I should just let it go. I know, I should not get caught up in it. But there have been times I have given into temptation and got caught up in a pointless argument.

Maybe you can’t relate to my “Facebook” example, it is a bit of a generational thing, but I think we can all think of a time when we would have just been better off keeping our mouth shut. Everything that we had to say may be correct and solid, but what does it accomplish if it is just going to insight the other person to greater foolishness? By entering into the argument  we are entering into their foolishness.

The Bible tells us again and again that we should avoid getting ensnared arguments. Paul tells Timothy the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24). Jesus advised his disciples not to give sacred things to dogs or toss pearls to pigs. Your “pearls” will be trampled and the wild dogs bite (Matthew 7:6). Your words will be disregarded and you will be mocked.

Jesus also promises that the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Meekness is really the quality we are trying to cultivate here. Meekness is the ability to act, but the wisdom to know when not to. The ability to walk in meekness comes down to faith. We need to learn how to pray about a matter and let God handle it. God can do what we can’t.He can actually change the hard-hearted and open the eyes of the blind. He can do more than we could ever hope to.

God Bless You,
Pastor Mike

Can’t Have an Ox Without Manure

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox~ Proverbs 14:4

 

I have driven quite a few older cars. As a result I have gotten to a place where I am able to work on them a little bit, because owning older cars provided quite a bit of opportunity to learn. There are two types of guys that work on cars; guys who like to work on cars and guys who are too cheap or too broke to hire someone else to do it. I am in the later group. As I have gotten older I work on cars a lot less and drive newer vehicles, but I am still cheap and tackle the simple car repairs myself. However the bigger jobs I leave to the professionals, now.

The fact of the matter is, if you own a car, you are going to have to do car maintenance. But try living 35 miles from work without one. You can go a lot further, a lot faster with it. So it is a trade off. The car comes with its own troubles, but what it gives back is worth far more than the trouble that comes with it.
That is the heart of this passage. The ox was the tractor of their day, but a lot of work came with owning one. You had to care for it, feed it, and clean up the manure that comes with it, but the benefit to the farmer plowing his field more than compensated him for the headaches that came with the animal.

Whether it is owning a car, or a house, or going to school, having a job, being married, being involved in a church, or simply having a good friend there is going to be some trade off’s. We live in an age where people want something for nothing, everything to come easy. But it doesn’t work that way. There is no pill to make you skinny. There is no secret system to getting rich quick. It all takes work and time.

I wanted to make a good living, so I had to sacrifice time and money to gain the education I needed to get the job to make the money. The education didn’t come free, but it was worth the investment and hardship. There were plenty of days when it didn’t feel that way, but if you are ruled by feelings you aren’t going to go far in life.

Everything worth having in life requires effort. I have a great marriage and a wonderful family, but there has been days when it is difficult. There are days it requires me to think about what I should do and not what I want to do. I get home from work, my work is not done. From the moment I get up to the moment when everyone else has gone to bed, my day is not about me. This is not sad, this is called being a grown up. There are too many married couples captivated by this concept of “me time.” The fact is, you got married, “me” should no longer be in your vocabulary. Our society is plagued by little boys playing games and little girls giggling with friends. Little boys and little girls do not make good husbands and good wives and they certainly do not make good parents. For a healthy marriage, what you really need is more “we time.” Time that is focused around spending time together outside the everyday stressers. This can be after the kids go to bed, or date nights, but it something that needs to be done. I can guarantee you, once you add a career and kids to the mix you will have either “me time” or you will have “we time.” Which one you pick will determine the longevity of your marriage. You have to choose. Is the old ox worth having around? If so you are going to have to feed it.

The fairy tale tells you to “follow your heart.” The exact opposite is true. Your heart needs to follow your mind. Your passions and desires can be and should be involved in the goals you set (even in this your heart must be governed), but as far as achieving those goals you are going to need something more consistent and steady than fleeting emotions that are here today and gone tomorrow and here again. Your heart must be lead by your mind, and your will. Your mind and your will should be governed by the Word of God (the Bible and His divine direction).

Church is another ox. A church family can hold you steady and build you like nothing else can, because it has been ordained by God. It is the natural environment for the Christian. It is God’s plan for the Christian, any other plan is not God’s plan and we should not expect His blessing. But it takes work and some of the work isn’t much fun. At our church we like to have potluck (a lunch after the church service where everyone brings a dish to pass). It is easy to find people willing to eat, but it is less easy to find people willing to clean. It is strange how little thought is given to everything that goes into the ministry of hospitality. Think about your church, who cleans the floor, who scrubs the toilets, who cuts the grass, and who does all the million other things for you. Then ask yourself, “What am I doing for others.” It was Jesus who said that the one who is great in His kingdom, is the one that serves all.

Finally, your daily walk with Christ is going to require something of you. Some try and call it legalism, or works salvation, but it is awfully hard to read the Bible without coming away with the impression that something is expected of us after we are redeemed. Paul wrote to the Philippians “Work out your salvation.” James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Here in America, we are really a privileged bunch. Some would say we are a bunch of unappreciative, spoiled brats. The facts are we have more opportunity than any other people at any other time in history to know our Bible, but Christians today are some of the most Bible ignorant people since the dark ages. The Bible knowledge of the average person in the pew is on the same level as an illiterate person 200 years ago. But we have more Bible translations, more devotionals, more Bible radio, the audio Bibles, the Bible on our phone, and the internet with more free christian resources than most preachers had in their library 50 years ago. Bible ignorance is inexcusable.

How many believers know how to pray? I mean more than 5 minutes? Are our hearts so cold we see a lost and dying world and we are no longer moved? Maturity in the Christian life, like anything else worth doing takes effort, and practice. Yes, it is a passion, but it must be a deliberate passion held to the course by a God awakened and empowered will. Anything else is like a ship tossed in the waves of a raging sea.

Feed the ox, take care of the dirty business that comes with the ox, and that ox will plow for you.

God Bless You,
Pastor Mike

Time to Step Out

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
~ 2 Corinthians 6:17

It use to be when a person was saved that nearly every aspect of a person’s life was touched. Converts got a new language, new habits, and new associations. It was universally understood there was a way Christians talked and didn’t talk and places they would go and not go. If you were a Christian you were in church on Sunday. During John Bunyan’s day it was expected that Christians would even give up sports. I hear modern preachers rail against legalism and the legalist lurking to rob Christians of their freedom. Quite frankly I don’t know what they are talking about. Who and where are they meeting all these legalist?

As far as I can tell the moral standard of the world and the current moral standard of the church is about the same. The church says don’t do illegal drugs and the world is in agreement, in fact my work place has random drug tests and it is not known to be a Christian business. The church says that you shouldn’t lie and the world really doesn’t care for liars either. The church says don’t cheat on your spouse, push old people down stairs, steal things, hit women, and a few other things which are all well excepted standards of the world. It has come to a point where the only way a person looks and acts any different than they did before they were saved  is when their life was a complete train wreck, but for the “good” person there really isn’t much difference.

It has become in fashion for even ministers to go and belly up to the bar. There was a popular pastor recently out west who was known as a cursing preacher. The Bible warns us that in the last days there are going to be those who have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof. We are living in those days. The Bible says that the Christian is a new creature, old things are passed away and behold all things have become new. We make a mistake when we take Biblical realities and turn them into goals or what we are working for or looking forward to. In a sense that type of working to fit some mold is more legalistic than insisting that God has not lied and when we are truly born again, we become a new creature.

If we are truly saved, we are going to be to different. If God has done a work it is going to be a God sized work and we will not be the same. We are called to come out from the crowd and be separate, to be set apart, to stand out in contrast to a sinful dark world. If there is no contrast between the church and a sinful world there is something wrong–seriously wrong. This passage is a reference to Israel when they were led out of Egypt into the wilderness, striking out from the rule and authority of Pharaoh to follow God, where He may lead. This event was call the Exodus. The Exodus is a picture or shadow of salvation in Christ Jesus. The first thing that has to change in order to even become a Christian is repentance. Repentance is not simply listing off all the things you use to do and now you aren’t going to do anymore. People do that every day and get self help books to assist in their self improvement goals. Jesus is not a self-help guru. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is king. Repentance is at its very heart a change of government. Before Jesus most are ruled, by self. Life is all about personal goals, one’s own desires, and pretty much whatever we want to define as all important. When we come to Christ we are told to repent and believe the gospel. In repentance we hand over the reigns of our life, all our hopes, dreams, goals, and desires to Jesus and let Him do whatever He desires, go where ever He leads, do whatever He wants. We go from self rule to God’s rule.

If that change of government has not occurred in your life, you may as well stop right here and deal with that rebellious heart of your’s before you go any further. But if you have turned from self rule and received Jesus as Savior and Lord you will be a different person and you will live differently. Because when a person is born again they become a new creature, with new desires and instincts. The difference is so profound that God says “behold all things have become new.” This is not something that is merely superficial. If it is God doing the work, it is going to be supernatural. Again looking at the shadow of the Exodus we see God moves in salvation with a strong arm, administering supernatural deliverance.

Still looking deeper into the example set in the Exodus, Charlton Heston (Moses) goes up to the mountain and receives God’s law (the Ten Commandments) written on stone tablets. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that in the new convent (which is salvation) God writes His law on our heart and then causes us to walk in His ways. Now what is that law? There is the Ten Commandments, which is often referred to as the moral law. Jesus expanded on the moral law drawing a line between action and motive. In the act of murder, He points to the heart condition of anger and the act or adultery, He connects the dots to the heart condition of lust. But there was also the ceremonial law. In the ceremonial law there were things that were clean and then there were things that were unclean. If someone were to touch something that is unclean they would have to be cleansed before entering the presence of God which was most profoundly experienced within the inmost temple, in a room called the “Holy of Holies.” This was a picture of what is saying here in Corinthians, “touch not the unclean thing.

The average Christian robs himself of much of the experience of God’s presence, because every time he or she goes to God he has to go through major detox before he is even in a position to enter into His special presence and worship. Yes, I know that God is every where and we are all in the presence of God, in some sense, because of that all present presences. But there is a special presence, where we become especially aware of God. In the Old Testament this often occurred in this special room called the Holy of Holies within the temple. This translates into the new Testament, where there is no more a building called a temple. When Jesus died the barrier separating the Holy of Holies was physically destroyed. Under the new covenant Christians are name the temple of God. So within us there is that special place where God will meet with us in a powerful way.

Here is the problem with many: we spend much of our time in the outer court and very little with God in the Holy of Holies. Because we have touched the unclean thing or things, dabbling with every matter of temptation that we stumble across, corrupting our hearts and minds.

So how do we avoid the “unclean” thing? What is the unclean thing? First let us look at the last question to answer the first question. The unclean thing, place, conversation, thought, or action is that which would not encourage us to think more of Jesus.

Secondly how can we avoid it? The question has a simple answer: do everything for the glory of God. We need to be asking our self constantly, would Jesus be pleased with this conversation, where I am, and what I doing.

If you live like this you will most likely get labeled as strange or a fanatic, but we are meant to be separate as a Holy Nation, a Royal Priesthood, and a peculiar people. If you find our self standing out as different take courage, because you are in obedience to God’s will.

 

God Bless You,
Pastor Mike

 

How to Be Dumb and Stay that Way

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. ~ Proverbs 12:15

In life you are going to find two types of people:

  1. Those who will learn from the counsel and example of others.
  2. Those who will run head long into just about every foolish disaster they can find.

As matter of example of what not to do I would like to lay out a list things you should do to be dumb and remain that way.

  1. Pride. To line yourself up for truly Titanic mistakes you should work on bolstering your ego as much as humanly possible. Tell yourself, “No one else understands my circumstances and they certainly can not lend me sound advise.” Think often about how much smarter you are than others, by doing so you will find it easier to dismiss the advise of others. When you are proven wrong, this is no time to back down, it is time to double down and attack. It goes without saying, if you are wrong, shout and scream and lash out until you are right. This will help driveway all those annoying helpful people who would try to give you advise, when obviously your way has been and always will work best.
  2. Lust. This can be a lust for just about anything at the exclusion of the feelings and well being of ours. To truly excel at this you must become practiced at the art of manipulation. Whether you default to the use of trickery, theft, or intimidation, you will be on the right road to stupid town if you choose to disregard the value of others on the way towards getting what you want. What you want may vary depending on circumstance. It could be physical gratification, money, success, materialism, or popularity. The what is really not what is all about. It is all about you.
  3. Lackeys. Every good and proper fool needs at least one of these. It is important that you find someone that will always tell you what you want to here. If something goes wrong, it is the Lackey’s job to point out why it is someone else’s fault. The Lackey also serves an important function of giving fake advise, which is amazingly always what you want to hear. If the lackey is doing his job correctly you should always have someone cheering you on all the way to your own demise.

It is time to make the point here. If you are going to wise you need to be humble, generous (and selfless), and seek wise counsel.

God Bless you,

Pastor Mike

Wisdom Regarding Conflict

An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
~ Proverbs 11:9

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
~ Proverbs 11:13

What we do do with what we know is more important what we know. It is rare Christian that takes the Bible seriously in all things. For instance if you discover a transgression regarding someone else in the church what do you do?

a.) Go to your friends and tell them about under the guise or possibly the genuine desire for council?

b.) Go to God in prayer seeking His direction?

c.) Go tell the pastor and expect him to deal with it?

d.) Go to the person directly and speak with them?

Obviously, if you are a Christian you know that option “b” is correct, but after prayer what is the next, correct Biblical step? The answer is “d”. Even if it is something that has to be brought to the pastor’s attention you can appeal to the person first so that you may go to the pastor together. This approach may not work and may not even be likely to work, but in doing so you are giving God the opportunity to build and restore relationships. One of the titles of the devil is “The Accuser of the Brethren.” Bringing accusations is not the churches business. Our Lord is a healer and by proxy so should the church. It is true that there is need to identify illness that treatment may be administered, but we most stick to God’s prescription if we are to expect His help.

So why is it so often that the transgressor is the last person that is often addressed in such matters? It is cowardice, in short. Most of us have strong distaste for conflict and we let our own safety and comfort zone dictate more what we are going to do rather than what we know should be done. So as a result we tend to revert to pack animal tactics, attempting to gain safety in numbers. But the only real safety is found doing things God’s way, so He might intercede on our behalf. And this is going to take courage. Moses had courage when he went to see Pharaoh, but he had the assurance that he was in God’s will.

Also, there is a whole lot of things that no one else needs to know or be concerned with, especially if you are the offended party. You can choose to conceal your own hurts feels and forgive. Love has to be our guiding principle here. Think about it, because love has to also do some pretty tough things at times. Paul had the Corinthian kick a fellow out of the church, and that too was an act of love. First, it was act of love for the sake of God’s reputation. Secondly, it certainly was an act love for the influence and atmosphere of the church.

We can choose to build or we choose to destroy. We can choose govern our actions by what is right or we can go with what is comfortable. James says “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6) We would do well to think and pray before let it loose.

 

God Bless You,

Pastor Mike

Passion With Action

My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
~ Proverbs 7:1-3

One common punishment in our home is to have the kids put their nose in the corner. This seems a fitting discipline for times when the kids are really not trying to be naughty or willful, but rather they are just being kids and getting carried away. So, they go to their corner and in a way we shrink their world a bit so they can take a little time to think. Mainly, I want them to take to think about what they need to do to stay out of that corner.

While my kids have their nose in the corner their entire perspective shrinks to where two walls meet. This is no problem, because they know that there is a world outside of those two walls. They were just running around in it. As Christians, I think we spend most of our time with our nose in the corner and no one has told us to put it there. We fail to see the span of years we have been given for what it is. “a vapor.” The Bible also likens our life to the morning dew! How messed up is that? How insignificant and short lived is the morning dew–it is there in the morning and then gone in the morning. Truly what is our life in comparison to eternity?

What I am getting after, is that we have a difficult time seeing the big picture. This bit of time that we have now is going to determine the course of all eternity to come. I often tell unbelievers if they find anything at all compelling about the claims of Christianity, if there is even an in-clinging of a possibility that it is true, if you are a rational person you should do some serious investigation. This is eternity. This is life, real life that lasts forever.

When we are dealing with the commands of God we are not dealing with something that we can take lightly or ignore. This is a matter of life and death, with ramifications that will stretch out into eternity. We need to take God’s commands seriously.

Why? Because He is God…..duh! We have all been intimated at one point or another in our life. And the reason we’er cowed may have been legitimate or not. For instance, maybe, when you were a child, you saw a cat hissing and threatening to scratch and you thought to yourself, “I must give that animal a wide berth.” This is pretty good reasoning and as far as children go you would probably be considered a head of the curve for your deductive thinking. Now drop a lion into that same room, and let that lion roar. In an instance, that cat disappears. In fact, you would run over that cat without a second thought, due to the fear of the lion. This is good and right thinking. The Bibles tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.

We are kind of like children with our nose in the corner, our perspective is too narrow. We see all the minor tasks for the morning and then what we need to get done after work and then what we are doing on the weekend and the list goes on. The world and life is bigger than this little corner and we have been given the greatest command-to preach the gospel, and we have been created for the greatest purpose–to bear the image of God, and we have the greatest lion raging not against us, but for us.

So there are two great bits of advise in these passages:

  1. Bind God’s commands to our fingers. How many false starts have you had in your Christian life, when the preacher inspired you and you decided you were going to be different and then when you got home you forgot what was supposed to be different. Here’s the deal if you find yourself inspired start putting God’s commands in practice right now, where you are. Even if God has put something in your heart like a mission field, you can begin the mission work right now. In fact a lot of missionaries would have less of a difficult time raising support for the work later if they started the work where they lived first. Too many believe they are serving God because they burped out some prayer at some time, that was repeated to them and now every once and while they think some happy thoughts about Jesus. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Now, that should have been the altar call, but even if it was or that was the commitment you made, what matters is here and right now. Are you living for Jesus Christ?
  2. Write them on the tablet of your heart. We need passion in the Christian life. I can not speak strongly enough to this fact. It needs to be passion with discipline and it has to be a passion primarily for God. When I open my Bible, I do so looking to experience God. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  This is not a completely whack a noodle thought that I am presenting here. This is how Spurgeon handled the text and it was His genius. He always brought out Jesus in every text and every week.
    We need to be seekers in prayer. Too often, this is an area in our life many Christian fail to gain any muscle. Big head, shriveled heart syndrome. You are not going to be any bigger than your prayer life, and the church is only going to be as effective as its prayer meeting. Sunday morning, you see how popular the church is. Sunday night, you see how popular the preacher is. During the prayer meeting, you see how popular God is, and God looses every time. When it comes to prayer, it is too often like resurrection morning, no one was there.

    There is a final way we stir our hearts for God and that is to talk about Him. We as people have been designed and programmed to rejoice and celebrate in the things that we love. Case and point: all the pictures of people’s food on the internet. We celebrate what we love, so share and celebrate.

God Bless You,

Pastor Mike

You Push the Clock Around

10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. ~Proverbs 6:10-11

“There is never enough time”, and “I am so busy” seems to be a common anthem of the modern age. It has almost become some weird badge of honor, where grown ups gather around and recite day planners, trying to “one up” each other. Once upon a time it was predicted that due to technology we would all have copious amounts of free time. Well, I think the futurist have missed the boat on this one. We have a thousand different inventions that are supposed to save us time and make our lives easier. There are fast food restaurants and drive thru pharmacies. The highways where I live raised the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph. So where is all this extra time that we were supposed to have?

There has been twenty fours in the day for as long as we have recorded history. This is a troubling thought when you realize you have just as much time in the day as anyone else has ever had. This means Thomas Edison did all his inventing in twenty four hours. Martin Luther King Jr. lead the civil rights movement on a twenty four clock. Spurgeon prepared sermon after sermon with only twenty four hour days.

How is it that we seem to struggle to accomplish just the basic things in life? I wonder if it could be that we waste more time than we realize and fail to prioritize our lives? For all those wonderful time saving inventions of the current century, we have a thousand other things designed to rob us of time. Whether it is the television set, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the internet in general, there is a multitude of things designed to steal away our time in little bits. Be honest, how much value do these things add to our lives? What is the benefit? We read so much in the course of a day now, but know so little. We may communicate with dozens of people, but are we really developing relationships?

Then there is the never ending list of extra activities which we engage in or enroll our children into. Each commitment seems benign because it is an hour here and another there, but pretty soon the list just keeps expanding until we become some weird neo-nomad traveling from place to place all day long. We finally return to the base of operations to park the car and sleep before we awake again to repeat the whole process again. But in such a lifestyle, is it fair to say we are truly awake?

In the first verse here, I think we should take special note of the word “little” which is used three times to describe how someone wastes away their time. It is easy to identify the things in life that eat up large amount of our time, like work. But the thing is, we have to work because each of us has got a painful need to eat. The large things in life that take up our time are often the things that have to be there, but it is the mountain of other small things that we loose track of.

This is the design of the enemy to distract and over burden the church. It is the enemies design to keep you sleep, going through a million senseless actions half awake. In many cases this is the best plan to mitigate the potential power of God’s chosen people. Napoleon, hundreds of years ago, was examining a map of the world and he traced the borders of a nation on the map and turned to his generals. He told them, “Here lies a sleeping giant. If she ever harnesses her natural resources and people power she will shake the world. Here lies a sleeping giant, let her sleep.” The nation he outlined was China and we are just now beginning to see the stirring of that giant. But I believe the devil has also drawn a line around the church here in America and says, “There lies a sleeping giant, let her sleep.”

For the most part the church has slumbered. With a little folding our hands we have grown spiritually poor. We have all this great mass of Christian literature at our finger tips, but the masses in our churches have slept. We sleep through meals and grow spiritually week and malnourished. Those who have gained some knowledge have not spent the time to gain the experiential knowledge, rather reciting dead facts, which have not become realities in their lives.

Just as with labor, or finances, or up keep of a home, a little folding of the hands and a little sleep when it comes to spiritual matters will bring poverty, but the worst of it, is that it is not simply a physical state, but it is your soul. We need, we must take our spiritual growth seriously.

First, we need to identify if we really have a time problem. There are many people that don’t a time problem, they have a time wasting problem. Basically this means: if you have time for entertainment, you have time to read and pray. Christ is standing at the door and knocking and if any man will open the door, He will come in and sup with him. That door is the cover of your Bible. We need to experience Jesus in the Bible.

Secondly, we need to prioritize our life. If you don’t have time for church because you are engaged non-work activities, I can tell you right now, you have a prioritization problem. What is the most important thing you can teach your kids? The answer is, to love God. But here is the deal, how you spend your time is going to either confirm what you telling them, or it will tare it down. One of the obvious and fundamental ways we demonstrate to our kids and to the world at large our commitment to Christ is through Church involvement. And I do mean involvement. Going, is a good start, but it is only a start. The church is described as a body. There are several parts of a body and this is true, but each part preforms a function. Now, what function are you fulfilling in your church? We need to make being a functioning part of the church a priority.

Finally, we need to be willing to sacrifice. If you have truly over extended yourself, you are going to need to make some cuts. It might even be as extreme as taking a different job. But remember what Jesus taught about this: “What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world, but loose his soul?” It might be something simpler, like cutting out a sport and hanging out with friends. Again, how you choose to spend time will say more about your commitment to God than anything else.

Will we sleep away this life and discover the possibilities of grace that we forfeited when we pass from this life or will we take this bull by the horns and choose to push the clock around, instead of letting it push us around?

 

God Bless You,
Pastor Mike

God is For Passionate Fulfilling Marriages

18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. ~Proverbs 5:18-21

Marriage was created by God as a gift to humanity and the marriage bed is one of the beautiful pleasures of this union. It is momentously wrong thinking for someone to accuse God of being against sex. He was, and is so pro-sex that He created sex. It is God’s master design that a husband and wife would be fully engaged, mentally, emotionally, cooperatively, and physically. God promotes passionate physical love between a husband and wife and it is not shy in saying so.

The difference between God’s design for sex and the world’s perversion is God’s design is meant to be more than the physical act and the short lived rutting of two mammals. The marriage bed is a physical representation of everything that marriage is supposed to be. The couple gives and receives pleasure (the give and take that we are always hearing about). They strip away all barriers and expose themselves to each other (true intimacy).

The Bible says the two become one flesh. The sexual relationship between a husband and wife is an outward expression of the true oneness that is meant to be in the marriage relationship. But this oneness goes far deeper than a simple physical coupling. It is a shared life, with shared goals, and hopes, and dreams of a shared future together. Out of that oneness comes the act of creation. Procreation is just part of that creative act. In marriage we become something new and something more than we were before. For many, a part of that is becoming a father or a mother, but first we are meant become husbands and wives to prepare us for the selflessness that parenthood demands of us. Before we are married, we were singles and after marriage the man and woman is a couple with one life together. Our life is expanded to encompass more than our self, forcing us to think beyond “me” and consider “we” first and above the individual. Our understanding grows as we truly begin to see another and begin to see our self through the eyes of our spouse. We grow beyond the understanding of our own gender and begin to see and understand the world from the other genders prospective.

The world tries to tell you that losing yourself in a marriage is a bad thing, but losing yourself is exactly what needs to happens. You lose the most narrow parts of yourself. From a narrow perspective, you gain a wider and more diverse understanding. From a self centered love, you gain a more Christ like, sacrificial love worth devoting life, vigor, and passion to protect. By God’s design, if we lose anything in marriage it is more than adequately replaced with something better and more fulfilling.

The world has attempted to divorce sexual relationships from the context of marriage and in doing so they cheapened intimacy and robbed marriage of some of its luster. Marriage is meant to be a life long commitment and we are meant to only give our self within the protection of a life long bound. What God desires for you is far richer and far more fulfilling than the cheap knock off the world is trying to pass off as fun. The dignity of your body and your self worth should demand more than “fun” as payment. God has true intimacy built into His plan for marriage from the ground up.

In this passage the author is admonishing his son to look for fulfillment within what God has designed to be the most fulfilling, the most gratifying, and the most constructive outlet for desire: the marriage bed. Revel in the passion of your wife he instructs, let your desires flourish where those desires will bless you. Let thy fountain be blessed. We would be wise to heed this sound advise.

I hate to have to bring the next topic up, but due to recent accusations directed at the Bible it is unfortunately necessary to address the ramblings of fools. These fools do not know the Bible, nor understand how the full scope of the text ties together to teach us God’s will in our life. There are those who would say the Bible promoted polygamy and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Though the Bible in the Old Testament permitted it, it is certainly not an endorsement. Furthermore nothing is ever positively said about the topic. Every example of a relationship where polygamy enters into the relationship we see a train wreck and a strong argument as to why polygamy is an awful idea. Abraham took Sarah’s handmaiden to wife and that ends in heartache and the separation of father and son. Jacob took two wives and he had strife in his house nearly all his days. David took several wives and his whole family was a ruin. Solomon, who wrote this, took over 1,000 women and he was made a fool in the end allowing himself to be lead into idolatry. He was supernaturally gifted with wisdom, yet his unchecked desire lead to the demise of an united kingdom. Solomon gives this advise from a position of experience: “Passionately love your wife and live the fulfilling life of a man within the will of God.”

God Bless You,

Pastor Mike

05/04/2016 Proverbs 4:14-15

14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. ~Proverbs 4:14-15

If you find yourself in trouble one of three things is usually true:

  1. You were doing something you shouldn’t be doing.
  2. You were hanging around someone you shouldn’t have been.
  3. You were some place you shouldn’t be.

If we were to actively avoid each of those instances we would eliminate 90% of the trouble we get into. To be honest the first point would be enough to keep out of most trouble, but failing the other two usually sets us up for the devil to knock us down. The lie of the moment is always, “I won’t get caught.,” but we should live our lives from the assumption that we will be. So what do you want to be caught doing? I for one would like to be caught saving babies from burning buildings or something else equally awesome, but seriously I want to be seen loving my wife well, spending money wisely, working hard, and parenting with a kind and patient hand. Simply put, I want to represent Christ well in every venue of life.

I think most people desire to live well, and I hope all Christians desire to communicate and depict a clear picture of Jesus to those around them. But good intentions can be crushed by bad practices which lead us into situations where moral failures will corrupt our witness. Let’s face it, we will fall and fail and come up short enough without orchestrating our own demise. Today’s passage gives us some sound guidelines on how to avoid major failures in our Christian walk.

First, it says to avoid sin. This should be a no brain-er, but too often we can’t see much further than the end of our own nose. Sin is never an one time proposition and it is always a big deal. There is an old saying: “Sin will always take you deeper than you planned to go, and keep you longer than you planned to stay.” We fail to recognize sin for what it is-a path. Sin is more than a deed, but it is an entire path of wrong thinking and that is not something you can simply dabble in and get right back out. Our mind doesn’t work like that. Your heart and mind doesn’t turn on a dime. There is a whole path of wrong thinking, cultivated desires, and justified compromises that lead to the actual deed of sin. Our avoidance of sin must go so deep that it is embedded in how we choose to think and what and who we allow our desires to become ensnared with.

Secondly, “pass not by it.” This goes back to the third point at the beginning and should bring us to the question, “Where do I spend my time?” and “Is this a good place to be?” Too many times we set our self up for failure. We get so close to the ragged edge of compromise, whether it is playing games with the truth, or mild flirting, or something else that runs close by the sin we are tempted to do without actually doing it. The fact is, if we are close enough to take a good look at temptation we are only a small hop away from a path that will lead to destruction, if we are not already on that path.

Thirdly, “turn from it.” This means we actively avoid temptation. We go in the opposite direction, maybe even to an extreme. We talked about setting our self up to fail, but we can also make good plans. We can make plans to succeed. Got a problem with alcohol, avoid places that serve it and people that are drinking it. Got someone who is flirting with you, avoid them like the plague. Got an issue with truthfulness speak slower and deliberately. Insert whatever your issue is and formulate a strategy for success remembering to seek God in prayer for wisdom. God has promised wisdom to those who ask. The person who is asking out of a sincere desire to do the will of God is going to get what they need.

Finally, “pass it by.” Let’s face it, we live in the real world and we will not be able to control our environment to such a degree that we are able to avoid every temptation. This is not an excuse to put ourselves purposely or even carelessly in situations in which temptation is likely, but there is going to be times when temptation find you. When dealing with temptation it is never a good time to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, it is more like stopping to smell the dung hill. We need to have a fixed goal, a vision of who we want to be in Christ, and a firm grasp of the character we want to have and keep our self zeroed in on the prize, not allowing our self to be lured away. Constantly, we should be asking God for strength and equipping our self with Bible to resist temptation. The Psalmist wrote, :Thy word I have hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

Even if you sin, fail, fall flat on your face, this is no excuse to stay there. Get up, move on, pass it by. It is better not to fall in the mud, but it is just tragic to stay wallowing in the mud just because you slipped. Take it to God. He has promised if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all iniquity. Get forgiveness and examine our self asking, :Where did I go wrong?” and “How can I do better?” We have a powerful ally in this, the Holy Spirit of God. And we have a promise: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Seek God in prayer in your examination and ask yourself if your prayer life, your relationship with the Bible, and your involvement with the church are where they need to be. We as Christians are called to live beyond the strength of merger mortals, but we are called, and invited “to know Him in the power of His resurrection.”

 

God Bless You,
Pastor Mike

05/03/2016 Proverbs 3:11-12

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:

12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. ~Proverbs 3:11-12

Ever wonder why other people seem to be able to get away with just about anything, while you, on the other hand, can’t seem to get away with the smallest transgression? Believe it or not, if this is a description of you, the Bible says you are blessed. One of the principle means by which God demonstrates His love towards you is that He corrects you and the more vigilant in His correction the more He is delighting in you.

There is a clear warning here, because we are all human and our default setting is a disdain for correction. The author is admonishing us to accept God’s correction in our lives, recognizing it as His expression of love. We desperately need correction if we are going to be what God has called us to be. Correction can come in many shapes in forms. With the promise of Romans 8:28 we become aware that God is actively working ALL things for our benefit, for the purpose of conforming us to the image of Christ. This phrase “conform us to the image of Christ” should ring bell with us, because it points us back to creation when God said He was going to create mankind in His own image. God, in a sense, is herding us back to meaningful existence, to live within the grand, fulfilling, and joyful purpose we were created to enjoy.

Those two words “ALL things” means that God has a large highway with many lanes by which He may bring correction into our lives. There are times He may use civil authority, or the loving correction of a dear friend, or a passage within the Bible, or a sermon, or even the harsh accusation of an enemy. Truly “ALL” things means all things. Part of Christian maturity is coming to a place where we are receptive to correction by whatever means God chooses to speak to us. We should be a reflective people, ever striving to be responsive to the nudging of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, looking learn, desiring to change, and yearning to reflect the image of our Creator, our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As was mentioned in the beginning, God’s correction is not act of anger, but an act of divine love for His children. This point is worth repeating, because in the middle of it we may not feel like we are being loved on. We may feel we are in God’s proverbial dog house, but in reality we are securely held fast within His loving arms. There is no shame here, only God’s love for us and an assurance that He is watchfully at work in our daily affairs. It is God’s declaration of ownership and affection. He is saying to all, “This one is Mine, I must not let him stray.” Many of us due to imperfect parents may have a warped view of correction, but God is perfect and as a result His correction comes with the distinct purpose of building and blessing you. There is no vengeance or spite mingled with administrations and He takes no pleasure in your discomfort. He is simply doing what He must, so that He might bring you into His best, and ultimate purpose for your life. He desires to bring you to the exact center of His will, which is the perfect center of His blessing.

Take heart Christian God truly loves you!

God Bless You,
Pastor Mike