Tuesday, October 30, 2012

LOSING YOUR GRIP!


HAVE YOU EVER HELD ON to something tightly for a long period of time that when it came to letting loose of the item you had to literally peel your fingers open?  I have found myself in that position a couple of times, usually when bucking up a cord of wood. After a few hours of chainsaw and maul wielding the fingers seem permanently bent. You almost have to force your hand back open.

What is true in regards to tools in our hands can also be true of grudges and hurt feelings. Our Lord Jesus urged His disciples to forgive as they have been forgiven. (Mark 11:25) And if we fail to forgive, then we will be hindered in experiencing the full blessing that comes to us as we are forgiven of our sins in and through the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross. (Colossians 3:13)

Just like using a maul all day long can cause ones hands to cramp up, so does our unwillingness to forgive. In fact, the longer we wait to forgive the more difficult it becomes. It is good to note that the main part of the word “forgiveness” is “giveness.”  I know, it’s not really a word, but I think you get the idea. If you desire to know forgiveness you must first give something away. In line with our illustration, we need to let go of the very emotion or feeling on to which we have been holding. We need to loosen our grip.
We must let go of our rights, our grievances and even our pain, in order to freely forgive. This is in part what the Apostle Paul was addressing in Philippians 2:1-11. He calls us to have the same attitude that was found in Christ Jesus; that even though He was God, He gave up the rights therein so that He could become our forgiveness. (Ephesians 4:32; Acts 13:38)

I suppose we could see a simple three-step process. First, let go of your rights and grab on to Jesus. Second, let go of your hurt and grudges. Third, give that which you are now able to give because of Jesus; forgiveness, for in doing so you shall know more fully the forgiveness that is yours in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Come on, let go!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, October 26, 2012

A PRAYER FOR KINGDOM LIVING

IN LIGHT OF MY NEW SERMON SERIES: "What Does It Look Like to Follow Jesus"  I thought Abigail's Prayer for the Church and it's leaders appropriate to share today.

Abba...You have placed us in this world where we are called
to be salt and light.
Help us to serve You,
to love You,
to honor You
as we live in this world.

Abba, this world has so many things that can
grab hold of our hearts.
Although our bodies have to be here,
may we get our hearts out of this world
with its earthly way of doing things.

Help us to walk in Your ways,
to live according to Your purposes for us
and not the purposes the world wants for us.

Thank You for bringing us into Your Kingdom!
Thank You for creating us out of Your love for us.
Thank You for giving Your word to Israel
and through them to the rest of the world.
Thank You for Your gift of redemption through Yeshua.

Thank You for making it possible to live in this world
while not being of this world.
Thank You for setting us free so that we are no longer
slaves to sin.
Thank You for delivering us from death.

Abba, thank You for bringing Your Shalom to our hearts.
Please bring Your Shalom to Yerushalayim
and to Israel.
Please open the eyes of Your Chosen ones
to see Yeshua as Mashiach.
Please give the leaders of all the countries represented here
Your wisdom, strength and courage.
Please lead us and guide us.

May we learn to love You with
all of our hearts,
all of our souls,
all of our minds
and all of our strengths,
united as the body of Yeshua.

May we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves
and one another.

B'shem Yeshua.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Review: Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading"

Cover of "Leadership on the Line: Staying...
Cover via Amazon


Good stuff to get me thinking about how leadership within the church is sometimes a dangerous adventure. Have not finished the book, but I am learning somethings I wish I had known earlier in my pastoral/ministry life. Not a "Christian" book, but still holds good applications for any in leadership.

More later...now it's later...

Finished the book and for not being a "Christian" book it sure ended with a number of illustrations drawn from the life of Jesus. But, even without that I appreciated the ideas shared. I was challenged by the need to stay curious as I lead, as well as open and innocent. I would encourage others leaders, especially those of us who have led for awhile to put some of their thoughts into action.

I have purchased the follow-up book, "The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing your organization and the World." it's kind of like the lab class after the lecture. Looking forward to what the authors have to offer.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, October 22, 2012

THE BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL

English: The bug zapper in my backyard.
English: The bug zapper in my backyard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BACK IN THE 1980’s while attending Biola University we lived in a house that included a “Bug-Zapper.” Some of you will remember when those cage-like electric bug killers were all the rage. I can even remember sitting outside in the evenings waiting for the next unsuspecting flying insect to be drawn to that mesmerizing blue light and then ZAP it became a crispy critter! I personally like it when a really big bug was drawn in and it would take more and longer zapping, it almost caused our house lights to go dim. I know, “Pastor Randy you need to get a life!” some of you are saying. Well, the evenings around the bug-zapper were memorable nights.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells His followers that we are the light of the world. It’s not that we ourselves have this light, but it is the light of Jesus shining in and through us. The problem that arises often is that we respond more like bug-zappers than lighthouses which direct people away from the rocks on destruction into the harbors of safety.

As lights, we are not called to blind but to illuminate the way of the Lord. As lights, we are not called to zap people into fear-driven belief, but rather we called to help lead them out of the dark and dangerous alleyways of life into places of the Lord’s life-giving light.

The question before me today, actually before all of us each day, is how am I letting my little light shine? Shall I hide it under a bushel? (NO!)  I must let it shine through the good and constructive work I do for the King and His kingdom. The work of letting my little light shine, not to gain the Lord’s blessing, but because I have already been blessed!

How will you let your light shine for His glory; zapper or light-giver? The choice is yours!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, October 19, 2012

A PRAYER FOR THE NATIONS

Once again, my sister-in-Christ has penned a prayer that speaks from the heart to the heart. May it be our prayer today. May the Lord, God have mercy on us as we seek His face and as we endeavor by His Spirit to live for Jesus the Messiah.

Abba...there are several nations
represented here on this prayer list
and my heart breaks for them all.

Please stem the tide of lawlessness
that is running rampant in each one.
As bad as breaking the laws of man are,
there has been a wholescale running away
from YOUR laws.

Thank You, Abba, for Your laws.
Thank You for Your Torah
that teaches us what sin is,
that teaches us how to love You,
that teaches us how to love our neighbors,
and that teaches us how to love one another.

Abba, I plead for my nation and all the other nations
represented here.
So many are worshiping the many idols
that are so readily available.
Even in nations that are declared to be "Christian" or "Jewish"
so many ignore You and Your ways.

Turn our hearts back, Abba!
Turn our hearts back to You.
Forgive us who have failed to be the salt and light
Yeshua told us to be.

May we earnestly repent
and turn back to You and Your ways.
May we humble ourselves before You
and turn back to obedience.

Abba, may we love You
with all our souls,
all our minds,
all our hearts
and all our strengths.
May we love our neighbors
as we love ourselves.
May we love one another.

Teach us.
Mold us.
Refine us.
Train us.
May us like our Rabbi Yeshua
in every way possible.

B'shem Yeshua

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MIRROR. MIRROR.


IF YOU’VE VERY TRIED TO LOSE WEIGHT and to get in better shape, the mirror can be your best friend. You see, mirrors can lie. Stand in front of a mirror and you can fool yourself. You can suck in your gut. You can turn at just the right angle. You can even close your eyes and voilĂ  you’re looking better.

Try that on a scale. Stand on one foot. Think light thoughts. Close your eyes. The scale tells the truth. The mirror can be deceiving.  As the Apostle Paul writes, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Even James refers to the problem with mirrors in his letter, “For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:23-25)

The truth is that a mirror is not the best reflection as to how you are progressing in getting in shape, be that physically or spiritually. We need a more reliable scale. For our spiritual getting-in-shape program that scale is the Person of Jesus Christ, who will one day let us see our true self as we are in Him. James tells us that another scale we can use is that of God’s Word. A Word not simply read, but applied to all areas of our lives.

Many of us who seek to follow Jesus Christ and to serve Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, too often use the mirror of the church, or other Christians, or even the culture around us. I can guarantee you that these mirrors will show you a distorted picture of your stature. If you must measure yourself, stand upon that which is true, measure yourself in comparison to Christ and His Word.

What’s that? You say you can’t measure up! Yes, my friend, we cannot measure up. That is why Jesus Christ died in your place. He became your new measure. The God, who is perfect, stood upon the scale in your place. Now we are hidden in Him. The Scriptures declare, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your  life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.(Colossians 3:-4) 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

POLITICALLY SPEAKING...


IN LESS THAN A MONTH WE WILL BE SELECTING the next President of the United States of America. As usual, we are called to give serious and thoughtful consideration to the abilities and agendas of those who seek this position of power and control. This is no less true for those of us who are looking forward to the establishment of God’s Kingdom in its fullness.

Those of you who know me know that I am not one to jump into the political fray, and this edition of the Pastor's Study is not a change in my normal apolitical stance. That is not to say I don’t have strong feelings, but my concern goes far deeper than who the next President will be, rather it goes to what will the church of Jesus Christ be as we await His promised return.

Many in our church family have been reading through the Bible this year and if you’re somewhere close to being on schedule you most likely read from Jeremiah chapters 5 and 6. As I read this prophecy against Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, I could not help but see the prophecy being spoken to the church in America.

Let me be clear. I do not believe that America has replaced the Nation of Israel in God’s eye.  At the risk of making a few enemies, I don’t think America, nor any nation for that matter ought to see itself as the “New Israel” or the “New Jerusalem,” that’s just a little too haughty thinking in my mind.

That being said, I do believe that the words of the LORD, through the prophet Jeremiah, do strike right at the heart of the church in America today. The LORD said through the prophet, “How can I pardon you? For even your children turned from Me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all!(Jeremiah 5:7) And what is true of the children in our nation is true of the parents (and the church) who have raised them. We should take seriously the words spoken to the nation that was thinking they were “above the judgment” of the LORD.

We would do well to read those chapters and be humbled, for the LORD declares, “Listen you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. Have you no respect for Me? Why don’t you tremble in My presence?” (Jeremiah 5:21-22).

Whoever wins the election will be decided by the nation as a whole, but how we live as God’s people will be decided by each one of us who call Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and Lord.

How then shall we live, O church of the living God?

ALL-OUT BLITZ!


PLEASE FORGIVE THE FOLLOWING FOOTBALL ANALOGY, but it is that time of the year, and I believe this example will serve us well as we consider moving forward in the work of being reconciled reconcilers (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) and seeing God’s Kingdom expanded.

For the uninitiated, the All-Out Blitz is when the 11 men on the defense send everybody forward to attack the man with the ball, usually the quarterback at this point. The plan is two-fold. First, to put the team with the ball in a loss of yardage situation, and second to put the fear-of-God in the quarterback. Nothing like see 11 huge men coming straight at you to strike terror in a ball-handler’s heart!

When an All-Out Blitz is called it does leave the blitzing team in a vulnerable position. It gives the other team a number of open (un-covered men) to whom the quarterback can throw the ball. To alleviate this possibility the blitzing team must make sure that each player hit someone on their way to blitz the quarterback, thus throwing off their intended routes. They also have, what is known as the 12th Man on the field.  The 12th Man is made up of the rest of their team on the sidelines and their fans in the stands yelling at the top of their lungs.  If all goes as planned the quarterback is pushed back and a huge yardage loss is incurred against the team with the ball. There is also a greater opportunity for the quarterback to fumble the ball and for the blitzing team to recover it.

Yes, there are risks, but the plan is that the gains outweigh any risks involved. It’s not a play done too often, because of the risks, but when executed well and at the right time the results can be very positive for the team that finds itself on the defensive.

THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION. Yes, there is a spiritual application that applies to our church family at this point in time. Please allow me to expound.

We, here at Felton Bible Church, are increasingly finding ourselves on the defensive with Satan and his team who are seeking to cause our defeat. Over the past few months, as we have be praying for 350+ people to come to know the Lord, and have been praying for and working toward the expansion of God’s Kingdom rule in our lives, community and world, we are experience some attacks that I can attribute to Satan’s attempt to move the ball forward. As a local church fellowship, and even among the other fellowships throughout our community, we have seen many attacks that I attribute to more than just coincidence.

There have been attacks against families, in form of divorce and marital strife. We have seen pastors physically worn-out and being beset by various illnesses. There have been an increased number of those suffering from relational and emotional brokenness. We can add to that a decrease in church attendance and tithing, as well as discouragement amongst the shepherds of our churches. Yes, there have been some good things happening, and I don’t mean to sound defeatist. Rather I am seeking to cry out for an increased involvement of the Body of Christ.

I think it’s time for an All-OutBlitz of prayer! I am, as “coach” of our team here at Felton Bible, calling for all of us to blitz the team of Satan. I am calling us to attack with full force, to hold nothing back, to go right for the ball and get it back! As in the real game of football, this can lead to some places of vulnerability, but I believe the gains will far outweigh the possibility of momentary loss.

Every blitz called by the coach is not without design. Each player knows what his assignment is; who’s going straight up the middle, who’s coming around the end, who will hit whom in order to slow down the forward progress. So, here’s our plan:

·         Everyday every person who is part of our church family is to pray for 11 minutes for the pastors and the churches of our community.
·         Everyday I call us to use the prayer calendar included in each edition of the Chatter.
·         I am looking for those available on Wednesdays at 11:15 to come and join our prayer team at the Spring Lakes Party House (Need directions, give us a call: 335-3418.)
·         I am looking for a group who will meet with Pastor Ron and me at 9:15 each Sunday morning to pray before our morning worship service. We will meet in the side room off the sanctuary.
·         I am looking for a group who will covenant to pray for Pastor Ron and myself, everyday, that we would know the game plan the Lord has for us.

Will you, covenant to pray by linking up to one or more of these opportunities? I know we might open ourselves to more attack, but let us not forget that we have a 12th Man, Jesus Christ, who is constantly before the throne praying for us, and that He has given us the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us! We are not alone in this battle. And let us not forget the reality, that we do know who ultimately wins! But, just because we are assured of the outcome, does not mean we can sit on the bench and watch from the sidelines. No bench-warmers on God’s team.

If you have read this and will covenant to pray in one or more of the ways listed above, I would love to know. If you’re reading this online or on your computer send me an email, if you’re reading this in printed form give me a call at the office (335-3418), and for you tweeters out there, you can follow me and get prayer updates @feltonbible.

It’s time to move! It’s time to knock Satan for a loss! It’s time to get the ball back and move on the offensive! All to the glory of God and advancement of His Kingdom!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

HIKING ALONE


IT’S PROBABLY NOT ADVISABLE TO HIKE ALONE, but I so enjoy spending time walking the trails with no noise except the wind in the trees and a few noisy Stellar Jays and squirrels. That time taken alone is one of the best ways for me to be refreshed in body and spirit. Yet, the reality is I am never fully alone.

As I walk the wooded trails of our area I am accompanied by my thoughts, and if I care to tune my heart to the right frequency, I am accompanied by the Voice of the Holy Spirit. There are times when our conversation is lively, even heated at times, and there are times in which I must strain to hear His voice.

As I journey along the shadowed paths of the redwood forest though the world around me seems quiet and at peace, the noise within my own soul is almost deafening. It will often take a few miles and a few hours to reach the point where my spirit is finally still enough to hear, should the Holy Spirit care to speak…and sometimes he doesn’t.

The LORD, in His eternal wisdom, knew that we all need places and times of quiet, times in which we can slow down and attune our hearts to His Voice. That is why, I believe God created for us one of His greatest gifts, the gift of Sabbath. A time in the cycle of life in which we would regularly set aside time to be still and to breathe deep, cleansing breaths. Sabbath was created for us (Mark 2:27.) The LORD knew what we would need and he graciously provided it for us, all we need to do is avail ourselves to it.

I encourage you to take time each week for a Sabbath’s rest. The day of the week is not as important as taking the time to stop, look, and listen. As with setting out on a journey through the hills and valleys of our mountains, the first steps are the hardest, but the longer you keep at it the quicker you will fall into that gentle rhythm that will bring refreshment to body and soul and also will renew your joy and strength for the week which is ahead of you.
Sabbath. It’s God’s gift. Enjoy it to the full!