Wednesday, July 14, 2010

They Don't Look Like Presbyterians to Me!

While we laugh (or at least I hope we do!) at this video, there is something that bothers me a bit about it. is this how we are seen by the general public? Are we really still seen as the "frozen chosen?"

While we don't all have a praise band or contemporary service, we do all need to be willing to "lighten up" our worship services. We can do things "decently and in order" and still ENJOY worship! I guess what I am saying is that if we don't enjoy worship here on earth, how do we think we will feel about worship when it is for eternity? Worship is a time for us to praise God and to fully enjoy Him! Sadly, I have been to too many services where the enjoyment of God seems missing.

It is high time that we ALL begin to live out our salvation in ways that reflect our enjoyment of God! After all, we have a God that created camels (one hump or two?), giraffes, and the platypus; obviously God had fun while creating all of these, so He must have a great sense of humor and when we ignore this part of God, we are missing a big piece of who God really is.

So let us all begin to let our worship reflect that we want to GLORIFY God and ENJOY Him forever!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Living in Community

Recently I installed a ceiling fan in the room Amy is going to use for her office. When I finished the project, I found that there was a problem. Everything seemed to be OK until Rachel turned on the light in the dining room. When the light in the dining room came on, the light and ceiling fan in Amy's office stopped! When Rachel turned the dining room light off, the ceiling fan kicked back to life! I am not an electrician, but I knew that this wasn't good!

Later in the week, a member and his friend (who was an electrician) came over and 2.5 hours later solved the problem. I seems that when the lighting was put in, they sent the wrong wires to the room that the ceiling fan was in and so when that was resolved, everything worked (and still works!) perfectly. Alone, both of these lights functioned fine, but together they failed to work properly.

Just as these two lights failed to work well in community, so do many Christians. Alone, they do great things, but when they try to work with others there is a problem. It may be ego, I am not sure (but I do think that ego is a big part of it!) We need to realize that as Christian we are called to community. Working together is not an option, it is a Christian lifestyle.

My dogs (Calvin and Kizzy) are a good example of the differences in working with others. Calvin is great with others (if your name is Rachel, Amy or Tim!). If you are not a part of his tight little circle, then he barks and is basically not fun to be around. Kizzy, on the other hand, has yet to find someone that she isn't happy to see and play with! Kizzy is the way we all should be as Christians--happy to work together for the good of the Kingdom.

I heard community described this way: if you put marbles in a bag, they come into contact with each other but when they come out, nothing has changed. However, if you put grapes in a bag (and squeeze them together) they are no longer the same. They each take on a bit of the other and what results is a new thing. We need to learn from Kizzy and the grapes and begin to truly live in community. It is what we are called to do and be!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Drug Problem Our Kids Need

A little old lady was amazed at how nice the young man was next door. Everyday he would help her gather things from her car or help her in her yard. One day the old lady finally ask the young man, "son, how did you become such a fine young man". The young man replied, "well, when I was a boy, I had a drug problem". The old lady was shocked, "I can’t believe that". The young man replied, "it’s true, my parents drug me to Sunday School and church on Sunday morning, drug me to church for youth meetings and drug me to church my confirmation class."

THAT is a drug problem that more of our youth need today. Parents that care enough to drag them to church! When we first place our children on a swing, we don't expect them to be able to swing, so we push them and they love it! Then they learn you to swing on their own. We need to do the same thing with Sunday School, church and youth meeting attendance--push them until they learn to joy of doing it on their own.

Many churches across the nation are seeing a loss of young people in their services and the reason that they are falling to come is not the young people, but their parents! Now, just because you do all the right things doesn't mean that there will never be any problems with your kids, but if we fail to do the right things, how can we blame the youth when they no longer find any relevance in the church? Sports and other activities have encroached on the time that was historically set aside for church. So, what do we do? I believe that if all the parents who held a strong belief in the importance of church attendance all took a stand and said, "my kid won't be available on Sundays until after 2:00 PM," there would be a change. Teams wouldn't want to forfeit games because of lack of players, so the times would change. Preachers can't affect this change, but parents can!

It comes down to this. If we want to see our children grow to love the Lord and His church, we (as parents) have to make sure that it is a priority for us and them!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Lighthouse - A Parable

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was a once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the new members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they re-decorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club.

Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired life boat crews to do this work.

The mission of life-saving was still given lip-service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life-saving activities personally.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin, and some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal life pattern of the club.

But some members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life-saving station was founded.

If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, only now most of the people drown.

Author unknown

So, does this sound way too much like the state of the church today? We have become so self-centered that we have lost the vision that Jesus gave us--to seek and save the lost. Members worry about themselves, disciples worry about the lost. It is time for us to get back to the true work of the church--to seek and save the lost. If everyone takes the message of discipleship seriously, our entire outlook will change. Political correctness will be replaced by "Jesus-correctness." "what's in it for me" will be replaced by "what can I do for Jesus?"

Until we all get serious about doing the work we have been called to do, the decline in churches will continue. It is time to get off our comfy pews and get to work!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We Can Learn a Lot From Dogs

Recently in NYC a homeless man that tried to help a woman was knifed and left to die while passersby simply avoided him. Below is a video from Chile about a dog that puts many of us (and especially those who recently left the man in NYC to die) to shame.

The story of the Good Samaritan is not just a good story. It is (well at least it should be) a way of life. Maybe if we had the same courage and determination of this little dog, we would all be better off!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Faith Can Do

Kutless is a Christian rock band with many songs that have a great message. The video linked below is one of them. It is "closed captioned" so that you can read the words as well as hear the message. Too many times we feel that God is absent when we are having tough times. This song is a reminder that just because we love God and serve Him doesn't mean that we will never fall down. It is also a reminder to get up when we fall!

What Faith Can Do

Monday, April 19, 2010

Going with God

This time of year brings many changes. Graduation signals the end of one journey and the beginning of new journeys. This is true for individuals as well as for congregations. The Lenten journey has ended and the Easter journey has begun. It is time for us to live out the Easter promise with the Pentecost power. As summer approaches we each have new opportunities to reach out to the people around us with God’s love.

What are your plans? Travel? Take Jesus with you! Sports? Let Jesus suit up with you! Gardening? Let God’s blessings flow through your garden to those in need. You see, no matter what your plans, God WILL be with you, so act like it! When you travel, let others see God in how you deal with each complication (you know that there will be some.) When you play sports, let others see God in how you handle both victories and defeats. When you garden, let others enjoy the added blessings that God provides for you.

No matter where you journey takes you this summer, go with God and your journey will be better no matter what your destination may be!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lent and More

Well, it has been a while since I last posted. Since my last post, I have started a website for the church ( That site includes the audio of my weekly sermon (starting on February 21.) It also has helpful information about the congregation in Stillwater. I hope you will take the time to check it out!

Now, let's look at Lent. I have to admit I grew up in a denomination that didn't really pay much attention to Lent. Good Friday and Easter was all that we dealt with. What a shame! There is much to be gained from a proper attention to the Time of Lent. Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about "giving something up for Lent" and all that entails. If you choose to do that, great, but there is so much more to this season than simply giving something up.

The Lenten Discipline includes, repentance, prayer, fasting, and works of love. Lent is a time to specifically work on these areas of our spiritual lives (areas that we should be doing all the time!.) Lenten Discipline is all about growing in our Christian walk. That is why I am more for "adding' than "giving up." If you choose to give up chocolate, good for you (I am giving up brussel sprouts.) But what we really need to be doing is adding practices to our daily walk with God. If you already do these practices, great! Do them even more intentionally.

Repentance and penitence prepares our hearts for Easter. Prayer is one of the ways we are able to accomplish this. Prayer is also the vehicle to help us when we make the decision to fast (in ways that are appropriate especially for those who have physical necessities to eat) and with our works of service. Giving of our time, talent, and treasure is a big part of a proper Lenten Discipline. We have been given so much and we often appreciate it too little.

Lent is here. Easter is coming. Let's get ready!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Serving as Jesus Served

We are to live as Jesus lived and Love as Jesus loved. We must also serve as Jesus served. Jesus spent his ministry reaching out to people. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and forgave those caught in sin.

Jesus did not take a position of superiority, but instead was willing to take the role of a servant. Even hours before he would give His life for us, he took the form of a servant as He washed the disciples feet.

Let's face it, we live in a "me-first" society. When ever we decide what we are going to do in any situation, we tend to figure out "what's in it for me?" first. This is NOT the attitude of a servant. In order for us to serve as Jesus served, we need to stop worrying about "what's in it for us?" and start working on doing what Jesus would do.

This will not be easy. It isn't in our nature to put others first. But this is what we must do. You see, end the end, it isn't all about us, but instead, it is all about Him!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Loving as Jesus Loved

Can we really love as Jesus loved? Yes, but not as perfectly as Jesus did. will it be easy? No! But just because it won't be easy is no reason to stop trying. If we are to love like Jesus, we need to first look at how (and who) Jesus loved.

Jesus loved those that world didn't. He spent his time with those the world felt were unworthy. Jesus didn't come for the healthy, but for the sick--the sinners. If we are to love like Jesus, we need to make sure we are reaching out to those the world ignores--the unloved, unworthy, and neglected.

In order to reach out to these people we need to remember that we, too are sinners. Without Jesus, we are just as lost as they are. When we remember that, it should make it much easier to reach out to those around us that need Jesus. You know, if Jesus came today, I am pretty sure that we would be more likely to find in in a bar that in a church! Does that mean that we need to start barhopping for Jesus? Maybe! One thing I know for sure is that Jesus would never spend all of his time with those people that were "healthy," He would instead be seeking out those that needed His love and compassion. While I don't regularly hang out in the local tavern, maybe I should!

Jesus also loved practically. He healed the sick, encouraged the disheartened, and fed the hungry. If we are really loving as Jesus loved, we need to do the same. We are pretty good about helping people in times of crisis (think Haiti). But what about the widow down the street that needs help with her lawn or shoveling her sidewalk? We need to be aware of all that is happening around us and not go through life with blinders on. There are people all around us who need to see Jesus'love poured out through us.

The final group that we need to love as Jesus loved is the ones that are obviously guilty of sin. Think about the women caught in adultery. When she was brought before Jesus, He told the crowd that the one without sin should cast the first stone. The crowd left, no one was willing to make the claim that they were without sin. But Jesus WAS without sin and could have cast that stone, but instead he told the woman, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more." We need to realize that people who are caught in sin do not need us to cast stones, but to love them as Jesus loved them. This doesn't mean that we ignore the sin, but that we love the person so that they can receive the forgiveness that is available to them through Jesus.

Loving as Jesus loved is hard. But, loving as Jesus loved is the only way that we will ever be able to make a difference in our communities, our world, and even in our churches! Let us all resolve to do our best to not only live as Jesus lived, but to love as Jesus loved.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Living as Jesus Lived

This year I have a theme that will be embedded in all of my sermons, teaching, and life: to live as Jesus lived, to love as Jesus loved, and to serve as Jesus served. Yesterday we looked at what it means to live as Jesus lived. Now by this, I am not talking about following the Jewish law, but to use Jesus as the ultimate example of how to live out our Christian walk.

So, what does it mean to live as Jesus lived?
Philippians 2:5-8 says,
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!"

Humility and obedience are two of the characteristics of Jesus mentioned here. So for us to live like Jesus we must be both humble and obedient. Humble enough to do the tasks that we are called to do--especially when they are small tasks that may go unnoticed by others. Obedience involves learning to put God's tasks precedence over our own selfish desires. Humility and obedience go hand in hand. It is nearly impossible to do one without the other.

The final way we can learn to live as Jesus lived is to know the Word of God. When Jesus faced temptation, it was the Word of God that gave Him strength. Do we really think that if the Son of God relied on Scripture to overcome temptation that we have any better way to overcome temptation today? I'm afraid that if the Biblical illiteracy I see in churches today is any indication, it is no wonder that we have so many people who fail when faced with temptation!

There is more to living as Jesus lived than just these 3 things, but they will play out when we look at "loving as Jesus loved and serving as Jesus served." Let's just start with what we have so far and begin right now to live as Jesus lived!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Challenge for 2010

I have a challenge for everyone this year. Rather than making multiple resolutions that we may or may not keep, why not try this instead? Dedicate yourself to "live as Jesus lived, love as Jesus loved, and serve as Jesus served." I have a feeling that if we all did these three things, any resolutions we may have made will be taken care of!

How can we do this? Well, the first step is to follow a couple of Jesus commands: to love one another as Jesus loves us and to (as the Great Commission commands us) "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

If every Christian took those two commands to heart, what a change we would see! As we loved one another, petty fights and disagreements would disappear. Those in need would be helped. The lost would be actively sought out and loved into the kingdom. Instead of worrying about "what's in it for me?" we would ask, "What can I do for others?"

Let us all do our part to make 2010 the year we finally get busy with the work the Lord has for us and stop wasting time on the the things that don't matter!