Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mass Publicity and the Truth - Big Difference

In 1980's being a rock Star meant you figuratively owned the world.  Stars were idolized based on a bands popularity.  Flowing from their singing or screaming was also a sense of fashion and appearance.  Athletes picked up on the whole star thing and they had a guy named Micheal Jordan who led the charge in creating the star mentality for sports figures that surpassed anything up till then.  We forget that all along there have been stars - real stars!  Some reading this will remember Roger Staubach.  Others will go way back to a few coaches like Tom Landry or Vince Lombardi.  Stars have been around in all facets of life.  We all admire somebody for some reason.

We are drawn to these figures today as we were once drawn to cartoons.  Batman, Superman, Spider Man, and even the Hulk were characters that we would emulate as youngsters.  My life was confined to basically three stars:  Roger Staubach, Nolan Ryan and The FBI!  Leading a comeback, striking out the side, and cuffing and stuffing.  I picked those three for a reason.  Each of them stood and still stand for something of value.  Yes each were good at what they did.  But there was a character quality about each that drove me to respect and admire them.  So strong was this quality that I would pretend as I young boy that was in certain situations and my reactions to such were just like these three.  Granted, these were the days when the only video game was a white ball going back and forth across the screen.   

Fast forward to 2013 and something interesting is taking place.  Mass publicity for years has highlighted the rock stars, the athletes, and the movie stars.  Since the 90's these have been the "heroes" of many.  Social media and reality TV have escalated their popularity.  These figures developed a growing influence of our culture as they spoke out in favor or opposition of their desired interest.  Much of the crazy ideas of today stem from a group that makes millions off of publicity.  Truth be known, their talents and brain power are limited.  But there is a change in the air.  This change seems to be gaining steam as we see the truth that publicity often hid in the past, being exposed by mere over exposure.  I actually love the irony.

I can sense as I scan Facebook and Twitter this new air blowing.  First responders are growing in admiration and appreciation.  Our men and women in uniform are admired and cheered for.  Those who buckle it up and get it done day in and day out are miraculously becoming heroes.  They should have been all along.  People see the difference between those who promote and those who actually care and do.  The millions made and flaunted by punk type people who would have a difficult time qualifying for any other type of work is about to reach a point of push back.  The inside realities of these narcissist cannot compete with people who put their lives on the line daily because they value more than money and fame.  Today's growing heroes are people who value life and freedom.  They value it enough to do something about it.  Politicians cannot escape this new air that is blowing.  The truth is slowly but surely being seen.  And the reality is gripping every age group.  Blowhards will always be there sucking our money and ideas.  But heroes are real people who do amazing real things.

The remaining ingredient for this new air to become mature is simple.  When we all step back and realize that money and fame are nothing and that life and family are everything, we will rediscover one of the most precious missing values over the past 20 years.  The ugly world we live in today, that will be even more ugly tomorrow, requires this simple value of life and reality.  For when money and fame cannot be found, values show us what has been important all along.  They remind us that we are here for a reason - to reach people with the gospel.  They motivate us to action when lives are threatened.  Values when present, drive us in positive directions that grow and build.  Values give life and create freedom for life.

I read today an article about Tim Tebow.  Much is being said in reference to his love for ministry and sharing Jesus.  Often Christians have chided those who have ridiculed his treatment in the NFL.  But this article highlighted the real issues that Tebow must deal with in regard to skill and knowledge.  Now that he has been released, his promotion is limited.  And it is now that we will see if Tebow can stand up and do what must be done to maintain his NFL career or not.  The reality of all of this slams into our faces - though Tebow accomplished some great things in college and has been faithful in ministry, is he the person who can learn and grow to become a real NFL QB? Or is Tebow like the many before him who through publicity and promotion have hid the truth about his skills/weaknesses only to become a media frenzy with limited accomplishment.  Only time will tell.

And guess what?  Each of us are in the same spot today.  Only time will tell what is the real truth about our values and character.  Publicity fades.  Promotion lacks real perspective.  Self promotion is seldom accurate and often purposefully done to prevent the truth from being shown.

Time reveals the truth in each of us.

And that is a BIG DIFFERENCE!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The disconnect of knowledge and change!

I read.  I read a lot.  I read everything from my Bible, to books, to articles, to sports stats, to cartoons.  I read a lot!  So I got to thinking last night.  Does one need to be careful to not read too much?  Are there dangers in reading too much?  This I thought on all night and most of today.  Indeed there may be something to this thought.  Allow me to show you.

#1  Reading can never be underestimated.  Reading sharpens our thinking and keeps our brain learning.  Reading is healthy.  But this only occurs based on the content of what one reads.  If I dive  into a Louis L'Amour classic western, I am reading for entertainment.  I may be thinking, but the thoughts are not requiring much analysis and reason.  There is little to apply with this type of reading.  And yet, reading for entertainment is good and fun. But too much defeats the purpose.

#2.  Reading for information sake is also fun.  This is why I read 20 to 30 articles a day.  I try to stay informed and learn.  But here is a trap.  If I only use one type of source for this reading, my learning is not complete.  One type of source never ever gets the whole picture.  So for a guy as conservative as I am, I read even liberal stuff.  Why?  I want to see the big picture.  I want to learn how and why people think the way they do.  What makes a person tick.  There is value in learning this.  But caution must be used in applying this new found information.  Just because I know something doesn't mean anything about me or my abilities.  I just know.  Big deal.  Arrogance of knowledge is a dangerous trap!  Knowledge without the understanding to apply is real dangerous.  And don't forget, knowing what is good, right, bad, and evil, can be even more difficult.

#3  Reading to change.  Now this hurts.  When one reads to change, one reads with the idea of instant interaction.  This is how we should approach our Bible reading.  If, when reading the Bible, all we get is information, no change will occur for the good.  But when we read and apply, asking God to change us through His Word, life change occurs in us.  And this type of change is so needed.

Of the above three, #3 is the one most needed today.  With all the resources available and the push for people to read more, we Pastors really need to highlight #3 in our promotion and encouragement.  If we take the first 2 and miss #3 we miss God.  If we use the approaches of the first 2 with the Bible and do not apply #3, we are missing God changing us.  God is not impressed with how much we know about Him.  God desires our transformation - change - in Him!

Technology has allowed me to read more books than I would have ever dreamed.  I can read thoughts of people from all over the world instantaneously, but none of that will change me like God can through His Word.  Nothing is life giving as the Word of God.  And this is what we all need most.

So here is a simple challenge from me to you - take out your Bible.  Put away all the other stuff.  Ask God to change you via what you are about to read.  And dive into the greatest book in all of history, past present and future!  The Bible will reconnect knowledge and change in your life.  And this connection will be worth more than you will ever dream!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Are we awake?

Strange question to ask someone reading a post on a blog.  Obviously if one is reading one is awake.  The question actually applies to our awareness of just how quickly times are a changing.  For those of us who have accepted Christ, this change should have us wide awake.  Every aspect of our culture is experiencing radical redefining.  Christians and churches are not exempt.

When I look at my two sons, I wonder what in the world will they have to deal with in the days ahead if Christs return is delayed?  When I think of future grandchildren - wow the world will be different.  I am not as much scared as I am concerned.  I wonder if we realize the tools and grounding that will be needed to survive the coming turmoil.  We know that in Christ we are over comers and more than victors.  Yet our tool belts will need to be properly filled and we will need to be properly equipped to obtain the victory.  What is your like?

As we approach a new day of worship and spiritual growth, ask yourself some tough questions:  Are you prepared and are you equipping?  This is were we need to wake up.  The time is now.  Time to apply and reach as many as possible.  Time to prepare our children for their own children.  Time to make huge strides in adjusting our ministries to meet the above needs.  it is NOT time to live in fear and panic.  It is time to make the most of what God has given us and rise to the occassion. 

As we approach church tomorrow, or tonight, go awake!  Go ready to celebrate.  Go ready to grow!  If you serve in a ministry role - give it your all!  You are making a impact period!  Make sure it is a good one!

Yours and my future grandchildren indeed are the one's who's futures we are impacting today! 

Let's wake up!  See you in church!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Does Jesus Want ME to be HAPPY?

I like HAPPY!  In fact I like being HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!  Who wouldn't?  So does Jesus want me to be happy?  Does Jesus care about my happiness so much that His ultimate desire for me is tied to my happiness?

Trends come and go.  But one trend that I have noticed over the past few years does not seem to be fading.  I cannot keep track of how many times I have heard and read that Jesus wants me to be happy!  An example of this is a post on Facebook that I recently saw showing a picture of a Bible open to the passage about being a new creature in II Cor 5:17 - this part was highlighted, and then it showed a note that read as follows:

"God loves us too much to allow us to stay tied to anyone or anything that does not bring out the best in us!"

The note sounds great!  But is it Biblically accurate?  It sure fits with the trending ideas of many people today.  Here is the thought process that leads to this concept.  Since Jesus so loves me and knows me, His desire more than anything is for my happiness.  This concept is seen in how many people view their relationships with parents, grand parents, spouses, and children.  God wants me to be happy.  So all things must work towards this goal being achieved.  Right?  If my marriage does not make me happy, end it.  If my children are constantly complaining, give in to their wants.  If my church convicts, change it or leave.  The Bible is simply a guide with my happiness being the motive for how I interpret it.  Right?

Not so fast.  God has a key ingredient that He desires in us far more than happiness.  This ingredient in fact will often produce things that initially do NOT make us happy.  What is it?


God desires our obedience above all.  Dieing to self and living surrendered to His will is far more important than our happiness.  Why?  As individuals our happiness is never satisfied and is constantly in a state of change.  The flesh - the old man - does not know what it truly wants.  We see this lived out in the life of children today.

As a parent, it is always a struggle to resist making my children happy.  The more you try, the more you fail.  We learned quickly that playing the Happy Game would lead to spoiled out of control children.  We also realized that those out of control children would end up spoiled undisciplined adults.  This we did not desire.  Obedience and self control are difficult to teach but they are a must.  It has not alwaysbeen easy but it is more than worth the struggle! 

When we apply obedience to God and controlling our perceived wants by deferring to His will, the working within us is PEACE.  This peace produces joy.  Happiness may come, but it is not immediate if at all.  Why?  Because the old flesh will continue to wrestle against the new creation.  Even the Apostle fought this fight daily.

We must not forget that the Will of God will never contradict the Word of God.  Thus happiness is always sacrificed for the Will of God.

That is why Paul shared the following with the Phillippians:

Phil 4:11-13
11    Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
12    I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
And so is the irony.  While everyone from Duck Dynasty to Dolly Wood emphasis being happy, God is on a different page working for our eternal good.  He knows our happiness is more often than not working against His best for us.  He is working His Will in which can be found PEACE!  Peace with God, and peace with people around us!

Now the question, does this make you HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY?