Friday, March 30, 2012

President Obama, Hot Mics, and Little Birdies

I am sure most of you have heard about this story, but earlier this week President Obama was caught making a statement to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about wanting to wait until after he gets re-elected in November to talk about missile defense negotiations. He did so, he thought, off mic. But much to his chagrin, the mic was "hot" and everyone heard. If you have not seen or read about it, just Google it and you will not find yourself lacking for information, sources of news, and lots and lots of opinions and prognostications

While there is a lot that could be discussed from his slip up (making the assumption that he will be automatically re-elected, the fact that he has a policy on this subject but wants to hide it from the voters, etc.), this reminded me of Ecclesiastes 10:20, "Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.When I read this verse from King Solomon, I automatically think of the phrase, "A little birdie told me." Many people actually attribute the phrase's origin to this verse. 

How often do those things we say and do in private eventually make their way public? This  is especially true when it comes to social media, email, and text messages. As Christians, we must always be aware of our thoughts and words. If we have something to say that we don't want public, then we probably shouldn't say it, post it, or send it. Remember, our words have wings and we cannot always control where they fly off to. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

3/25/12 11am Message - Student of Prayer


·       It has been said that, “The barren lives of Christians and the deadness of the church today are the result of prayerlessness.”[1]
·       "He who has learned to pray has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life."  William Law (18th century English  theological writer) [2]
·       If we are ever to accomplish anything for God in this life, it must start with prayer, and we must ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

I.                  Lord
a.   They didn’t ask the other disciples, or the Pharisees – they asked Jesus.
b.   Every student needs a teacher, and if we are going to be students of prayer, we should go to the Master Teacher – Jesus.
c.    Two important qualities in a teacher:

                                                            i.      Knowledge
1.   The disciples overheard Jesus praying, and realized that He knew what He was doing.
2.   Too often, we get our advice from those who struggle just like us and have no clue on what to do.
3.   As God in the flesh, He prayed to the Heavenly Father so that He might teach us from a place of knowledge and experience.

                                                         ii.      Patience
1.   A good teacher is patient.
2.   If the student knew what they were doing, and could do it without messing up – they wouldn’t need a teacher.
3.   But God never gives up on us – even when we fail at prayer.
4.   He is there to pick us back up, and continue the lesson in prayer.

II.               Teach Us
a.   Not them, but us. We must take the personal responsibility for our own devotion to God.
b.   We are so quick to point out the small deficiencies in others, but over look our major faults as – minor blemishes…quirks…no big deal…etc.

                                                            i.      Matthew 7:3–5 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
c.    How many prayer hypocrites are out there today?
                                                            i.      How many times has someone asked you, or you promised to pray for someone, and you haven’t?
d.   Doubltless all of our sins and mistakes and failures are prayer sins, prayer mistakes, and prayer failures.” John R Rice[3]
e.   Until we realize our need, we will never get the help we truly need.
f.      Many like to think they have prayer mastered – BUT WHEN IS THE LAST TIME GOD ANSWERED YOUR PRAYERS?
                                                            i.      WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU FELT THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN PRAYER?
g.    The only way to overcome the sin of prayerlessness is to recognize it and seek to be taught by the Lord.

III.            To Pray
a.   Every morning you wake up – do you desire to pray and speak to God?
b.   Many Christians do not, and therefore they don’t pray.
c.    Or if they do pray, it is powerless and pointless.
d.   How speedily we are deceived into a resting in the form, while the power is wanting.[4]
e.   This disciple was not just asking how to pray. The Lord had given the Sermon on the Mount which outlined how one should pray.
                                                            i.      This disciple was not asking for a technique, a system, an art form, or a ritual to follow.
                                                         ii.      It was not a matter of how to do it, but he wanted to pray like Christ prayed.[5]
f.      The best way to learn is to practice, and practice makes perfect. What we learn from our teacher, we must put into practice every day.
g.    Instead of focusing on where you are not - Start where you are and begin to pray!
h.   You won’t learn to pray for 2 hours until you first have prayed for 2 minutes.
·       How is your prayer life today?
·       Before you answer that, consider another reason why the disciples asked Jesus to teach them – it was because John the Baptist taught his disciples to do so.
·       John the Baptist was more than just a prophet of God, he was a man of prayer and that is how Jesus’ disciples remembered him.
·       Will people remember you as a person of prayer?
·       If not, let’s ask the Lord to teach us to pray.

[1] McGee, J. V. (1991). Vol. 37: Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (Luke) (electronic ed.). Thru the Bible commentary (143). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[4] Murray, Andrew, “Lord, Teach Us o Pray,” Kindle edition, location 28
[5] McGee, J. V. (1991). Vol. 37: Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (Luke) (electronic ed.). Thru the Bible commentary (143). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tim Tebow, Chistians, and the Work Place

Today, one of the major news on the sports scene is the trade of Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets. Like all things Tim Tebow, it has taken over the news cycle and everyone has a point to make...including me! What is truly remarkable is that at the same time, the NFL has announced major suspensions to the New Orleans Saints for having bounties on opposing players (read about it here). Yet, Tebow's trade is still filling up my twitter stream. Why?

Well, as I have previously written about (here and here), there are no shortage of opinions when it comes to Tim Tebow. The interesting thing is, though, that most of it is unrelated to the football field. Don't get me wrong, he is an unorthodox player who somehow brought his team results on the field, but most criticism is directed at his personal life, and faith. Every shortcoming that he may have on the field is followed up with mean, tasteless, and cruel comments about his faith in Jesus and his desire to live a pure life. I have seen many "jokes" about prayer, God hating certain teams because of him, and even his lack of a sexual relationship with anyone of the opposite sex (Let me say this - we don't know what Tebow does in private. We only know how he speaks and acts in public, in which he conducts himself in a spiritual and moral manner. If it were to come out tomorrow that he was not the things that he portrayed, it would not in any way, shape, or form, shake my faith in Jesus Christ.).

All of this caused me to think about the difficulties many practicing Christians face in the work place. I say practicing because many born-again believers do not share Tebow's zeal to be a testimony for Jesus Christ, and therefore never face difficulties. Many times, Christians will choose the easy way out and just try to blend in  with their co-workers and employers and not face the ridicule of being "different." But isn't that our problem today? We have been conformed to the world, instead of transformed by God. If we can constantly go about our daily interactions with the world around us and never face difficulty and opposition for what we believe, then what are we doing wrong. It is good to remember the words of Jesus, who said in John 15:18, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."

Have you ever face opposition and ridicule in the workplace because of your faith?

If so, how did you handle it?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Emptiness Inside

Last night (Wednesday), we began of Faith Promise Missions Conference. Our theme is "The Missing Piece." The idea behind the theme is that each of us have a responsibility in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, etc.), or a piece of the puzzle. Just as there is nothing more frustrating and unfulfilling then working hard on a puzzle to only get to the end and have a piece missing, our church can only fulfill our part of God's Command if everyone does their part. 

Our first missionary was Daniel Coates, veteran missionary to Guatemala. I have known him for a while now, but this was the first time he came to a church that I was at as I was the pastor. Every night during missions conference we ask the missionary to introduce himself and his family, give their presentation (usually a dvd or power-point production that allows us to see the work being done first hand), field any questions, then preach to us the Word of God. Bro. Coates chose Genesis 2:20-24 as his text, and the title of his message was, "The Marriage of Missions." 

He began by emphasizing the role that Adam played in naming all the animals that God passed by him (2:19-20). The problem that Adam had was that as every male animal came by, it had a female companion with him, which caused Adam to realize that he had not a companion, or a help meet for him. So thus, God created woman. Bro. Coates then went on and did a tremendous job in comparing the husband/wife relationship to the relationship between the Church and the Christian.

This morning, I began to think a little more about what Adam must have been feeling when he realized that he was missing something. He must of had a little bit of emptiness inside. Have you ever felt that way before? I am sure it happens to all of us at some point or another. I think when we are faced with those kinds of feelings and circumstances, we need to remember that the emptiness that is there is meant to be filled by God, and by Him alone. Anything else that we try to fill that emptiness with (work, family, hobbies, etc.), will never fill it because it is a God-sized hole that only He can fill. Just as God had the answer for Adam's emptiness, God has our answer. We must turn to the One who can bring true value and fulfillment. 

BTW - Bro Daniel Coates is an excellent missionary. If you would like more info on how to contact him, let me know and I will pass that information on to you. You, or your church, would not do wrong by supporting this good family monthly as they minister in Guatemala.