Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Celebrating Grace While Judging Anothers Sin

Life is full of contradictions. It is better said this way; "all of life is full of contradictions and Christianity is no exception." I often wonder why we can see things that are so clear and still miss what we are seeing. One of the things that excites me about heaven is the fact that ALL will be revealed and the humility of mankind will be so ever present that NO confusion will be found. Our eyes will see more than we ever dreamed.

When the Bible speaks of "...God is not the author of confusion..." normally the ping pong contest begins. Confusion sets in like a bolder dropped from miles above. Paralysis of mind, eyes, and brain are triggered. Logic is lost. Craziness becomes the norm. We are right and others are wrong. The confusion is present due to ungodliness on others - not us! In the confusion the spirit of self righteousness is fed.

A Pastor friend asked me yesterday about the idea that Christians can and do celebrate one who has sinned in a public manner while judging another at the same time. His question was serious. The confusion of thought was clear. The dichotomy of our day and the pluralization of so many people highlights this growing trend. From Theology to how to cross the street. We live in a day of self righteous hypocrisy.

Why is it?

I honestly do not know! I have some ideas but I cannot follow those lines of reasoning else I would enter into the same cesspool of confusion that is drowning out the Gospel of Jesus of Christ.

I read today where an individual was defending himself from statements made by someone about him who has never met him. The truth of the defense was iron clad. No one should bear false witness against another. No one should speak for another. No one should pretend to know the heart of another. The individual who wrote the article was right.

But wait...

Why is it that some can claim to promote a picture of grace and present such a clear path of right and wrong and yet be guilty of the same? How is it that some can claim a "work of God" while judge another and NO grace be allowed? Why have we entered into a day when people think it is there job to be judge, juror, and executioner? We see it in churches, families, and the work place. We call it childlike when we see it in our children but we adults are far more guilty than they. We are actually perfecting the art for them.

I know a passage of scripture that fits. In fact, I got to thinking today that maybe all of us should examine this passage a little more often. And maybe after doing so, the confusion would not be found. Maybe in it's place would grow a masterpiece of the work of God by His own hands in a consistent picture of truth, justice, humility, and brokenness lived out in each of our lives.

Can you imagine with me for just a moment how incredible that picture would be? Think about it! And while thinking, read the following:

1 John 1:5-10
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin , we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

I like to celebrate. God has done so much for us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think we all need more celebration of the totality of this GREAT work and less judging of people. It is a shoe that fits both feet, all sides, and all people!

It is the truth that ends all confusion.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A lesson from death

People experience death every day. It is never easy. The loss of a loved one, whether expected or not, hits the gut of people close to the person in a way that varies from person to person. We miss the people who have gone. We are reminded of our own frailties. We ponder in our minds how our own passing will effect people and what the reactions of people will be when we are gone.

The reward of heaven is so easy to talk about and brings about much comfort to those left behind. Heaven is indeed the only place where all pain and sorrow are gone. But in this understanding is also found the fact that our grieving still hurts and little really helps.

There is one aspect that I have clung to since hearing it put so plainly many years ago. My mentor loss his mother in law and father within a twenty four hour period years ago. I traveled with several from our church to attend and support him as he led in both services. As one heading into the ministry at the time I could not even imagine all that was racing through his head and heart. I never dreamed that I would learn from him what I did during that trip.

Though I have misplaced the verses that he used, I remember this one thing from his fathers funeral. It has transformed my approach to death and my ministry to those who have lost loved ones. It has carried me through preaching both of my grandmothers funerals and doing more than 526 funerals beyond in 22 years of ministry.

As salvation is a gift from God that we share with people, so also is death. When we join in giving the gift of death as we do the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we find the peace and comfort that is promised.

Until that particular service I had never heard it put that way. As my mentor stood and preached his fathers service and imparted this truth - it stuck! We who are left behind should desire and thus participate in the giving of the gift of death. It is our letting go. It takes our thoughts away from our own selfishness and focuses us on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It maintains our understanding that God is working in drawing ALL people to Himself and so should we. Just as we are commanded to share Jesus with everyone - we are also included in the final gift - giving the gift of death.

Key point: It only works when one knows Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Today I join many in giving this gift to a man saved from drugs and more. Johnny Ray went home to His Lord early Saturday morning. His salvation had freed him from a life of disaster. He had been used by God to minister to so many teenagers and adults alike. His smile and his love for everyone will be missed. but as we will celebrate come Wednesday his life, we are reminded in our sorrow that we can join in the giving of this gift. Stomach cancer is a horrible thing. Leaving earth at 51 seems to be too soon. But now Johnny Ray is experiencing the reality of what God worked in his life.

How could we not want to join in the giving of this great gift. It is a lesson from death, for death.

Have a great time Johnny Ray! I will see you in due time! Thank you for all you did! I now give you this last precious gift.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Most people know what it means when they hear that someone has a burden from the heart. When the heart is gripped by a great need, little in life can match the power of the moment. It is in these moments that we are more prone to "cry out" to God in a way that does not occur on a daily basis as it should.

For the past five months it seems that I have been in more meetings of multiple types (not all with ministers or church people) than I have been in many years. As I took time to reflect back on the first half of 2010 this week I noticed a common thread through all of the meetings. In every facet of life, trials and tribulations persist. Whether a person is in the ministry, a member of a church, a business person, or ____________, we all share this common bond - in life there is pain. And yet more than this aspect was a shocking revelation. People from all walks have noticed something is missing and have asked the following:

What has happened to the STATESMEN?

History clearly teaches that Statesmen convey a quality of leadership that organically brings people together and of elder-ship, a spirit of caring for others and for the whole. A Statesmen never promotes oneself nor do they solicit promotion from others. When a person rises to the level of Statesmen, it so obvious that honor and respect flow automatically. This type of person walks a basic and simple life keeping the focus locked in on the whole and never lowering themselves to acts or words of self absorption, division, or destruction. They get the respect due to their constant giving of respect. They rise above the mess and lead by example. People follow for their message is clear and the absence of selfishness promotes trust and loyalty.

Today we live with a huge void in our world. From politics to spiritual issues. From families to cities. A generation of statesmen have, or are, in the process of passing on. In their place we have a polarizing and extremely destructive new wave. We are seeing experts of finger pointing and blame. We may be taking this to an all time new level. We see situational ethics being applied while denial of such cries out simultaneously trying to point the finger rather than humbly break from our own sick state.

Do we not realize the time and the hour?

Natural disasters. Wars and rumors of more. Oil spills. World-wide economic collapse. Unparalleled calls for one world type governing. Why is this not driving us to our knees? Why in schools, city council meetings, hospitals, churches, denominations, conventions, and more do we continue to walk this path which is forbidden? We are told in scripture the following:

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching .

The more I read the above verse, the more my burden grows. The plan is simple. The call is clear. Do our hearts break over the things that God desires in and from us? Oh that we would see the rising of many Statesmen for this time period. People are seeking the answers from government, political affiliations, drugs, alcohol and untold more. No answers are being found from these paths.

We who have a placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ through repentance of sin, are to be the voice in the wilderness. Oh that this would be true. We have serious issues of eternal life in heaven or eternity in hell. Our time is up for the ridiculous. May God break us and raise up a new generation of Statesmen loudly declaring the way of the Lord!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stay Fresh

It is easy for our spiritual journey to become stale. Often the daily ruts of life find a path into our spiritual growth and slow it down. There is nothing boring about God. Satan loves to distract our journey with a focus on things and people that drag us into the sea of apathy and even burnout.

This week do your bible reading different. Pick a new time. Add the discipline of writing journal. Read fewer versus. Do something different!

Focus more of your life on ministry - real ministry. Get out of the norm of 'keeping the sheep comfortable" and find people who need Jesus!

Remember this:

Psalms 47:2

2 For the LORD Most High is awesome ; He is a great King over all the earth.

Your journey should be FRESH!