Monthly Archives: March 2017

CLEAN HANDS = CLEAN HEART

CLEAN HANDS = CLEAN HEART

We are all granted the right to “free speech.” But when does free speech cross the line?

Pastor Steve spoke of the Pharisees’ judgment against Christ and His disciples on Sunday from Matthew 15, and how the ceremonial washing of hands was not being adhered to among the disciples. Jesus was quite blunt in His rebuke saying “Why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?” Jesus goes on to say that it’s not so much whether or not these rituals are performed – like eating kosher food, for example – but how our actions and our words communicate to the outside world what’s really going on in our hearts.

So how does this relate to our present lives? It’s the same concept; it’s just a different style of communication. Today, the evilness of communication comes out through slander and gossip, the passing on of negative information that has the power to darkly influence others and create undue judgment in those that hear it.

There are many seemingly innocuous names for this in our present time – water-cooler talk, office news, the latest buzz. Sometimes it’s as innocent as the latest football game scores or the last episode of a TV show. But when communication turns to “Hey did you hear what … “ –THAT crosses into the area of gossip and slander. As Pastor Steve pointed out, the only reason you might want to bring up the plight or misfortune or circumstance of someone else is when you have a solution to offer. Otherwise, it’s plain old evil speak.

Whenever we see one of those all-too-common signs about washing our hands, perhaps we should think of the Lord’s message while washing our hands: Clean out your hearts to offer solutions and reconciliations in the world. Let it be a holy signal. Clean Hands = Clean Heart.

Psalm 51:10 says it well: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

We’ve all been there. Sitting in front of our birthday cake, candles ablaze, our mind racing with excitement as we make our wish before blowing out the candles. As a child, the wishes were simple — a new bike or computer game, maybe even a new pet. As an adult, the choices get more complicated. What if they came true? What if those wishes turned out to be bigger and deeper than you ever imagined?

You’ve heard the expression, “Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.” Many attribute this to an old Chinese proverb, although the exact origin is fuzzy. But it applies to all of us in our walk with Christ.

As Scott Schimmel pointed out in his sermon on Sunday, March 19th, when God takes us to a new place, it’s usually way more than we asked for. We might think, “What has God done to me now? I’m just trying to be faithful to you. And you gave me this?” Scott pointed to Matthew 14: “Jesus said do not be afraid, take courage.” When God takes you to the harder place, he reveals more of Himself to you. And through that process, we learn more about the depth of our own courage and faith.

I’m reminded of the story of the inspiring preacher, Norman Vincent Peale. When he was in seminary, his own professor accused him of using his shyness as an excuse. “You better change the way you think about yourself, Peale, before it’s too late. That’s all. You may go.”

Peale was angry, hurt, and resentful, but knew what his professor said was true. But he didn’t beg God to change him. Instead, he asked God to help him see himself as a person who could do great things in life. God listened, and he granted him more ability to inspire others in faith than he ever thought possible.

What’s holding you back? For many of us, it’s the fear of getting more than we can handle. But the Lord will always see to it that our trials do not overcome our faith. Look at Romans 8:38 – 39: “I am convinced that . . . [nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Raising a Modern-Day Knight Class for Dads!

Raising a Modern-Day Knight Class for Dads!

My son, Sebastian, is 8 years old. As his dad, I knew I would wield a powerful influence over the direction of his life and how he began his walk with Christ. I read the book called Raising a Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis and wanted to share what I learned with other fathers going through the same journey by facilitating another round of the six-week study that accompanies the book.

The study sessions get dads together to share their stories of fatherhood – their achievements as well as concerns – and grow together to make more purposeful and deliberate investments in the spiritual lives of their sons. The study focuses on four cornerstones of behavior, as outlined in the book:

  1. Reject Passivity.
    Learn how to be proactive with your son to engage culture and society in godly ways.
  2. Accept Responsibility.
    Show your son how to be accountable for his actions in life — the buck stops here.
  3. Lead Courageously.
    Learn to be bold and courageous in your faith and pass that onto your son.
  4. Seek a Greater Reward.
    Don’t shoot for just the fat paycheck, the fancy house and the nice car. Seek your greatest treasure in heaven.

As dads, we need not feel like lone rangers in our parenting, so we work on finding the common spirit that exists among us to inspire enthusiasm, devotion, and a strong regard for the honor of fatherhood.

The study is only the beginning though. In the near future, LJCC dads and ministry leaders plan to apply the principles and techniques from the book and study in creative, challenging, and meaningful ways. Stay tuned for more information on a Father/Son camping trip in August 2017.

As stated in Proverbs 17:6, “The glory of sons is their fathers.” Learn what it means to be a man and how to instill the most powerful qualities in your son.

Raising a Modern-Day Knight is for fathers of sons 6 years old and up. We meet for 6 Sundays (starting March 19) from 10:30 – 11:45 in Room 2 (not including Easter). You can purchase the book at the church or on Amazon.com.

What is the parable of your life?

What is the parable of your life?

What is the parable of your life?

Have you ever rendered your life into a parable? I hadn’t thought to do so until Steve was talking parables on Sunday, March 5, 2017. As he pointed out:  Jesus communicated some of the great mysteries of who He is and who we are. This rhetorical strategy of story and metaphor children naturally understand, but educated adult followers of Christ can miss completely.

Telling a parable was one of Jesus’ favorite ways of getting people to understand faith and follow Him. So let’s try it out.

Here are the three ground rules:

1) Make appropriate comparisons.

If I tell a parable about how my harried breakfast this morning is like my mind it may be too small to get at what’s going on in my life of faith. By the same token, if I’m comparing my professional work to the glory of the Milky Way I’ve probably gone a little too big. Jesus’ told parables about the building blocks of parties and the legal system and debts and children and work. The more “salt of the earth” in your stories, the better.

2) Start with what’s going on in your life, right now.

Jesus relayed His parables conversationally, in the context of what was being said to Him. He told parables to particular people, at particular times, for particular reasons.

3)  Make your parable about the same thing He did.

All of the parables Jesus told are about God and the relationship of God with His people. Tell a parable about the specific relationship God has with you and how that relationship is bearing out in your daily life.

Here’s my parable:
Trevor’s life is like a man deciding to go on a journey with a companion. He needed to go on the journey badly, because going on that particular adventure with this companion was his great desire. But he was scared of the wild animals and the deserts and running out of water. Most of all the man was afraid he just wouldn’t make it but would fail. The man’s companion was there with him when these things happened. Sometimes the man let his companion come to his aid, and sometimes he fled the trail and his companion and hid himself from the wild animals.

The parable tells a literal story of our spiritual walk with Jesus. When we feel fear or hopelessness, we shouldn’t flee but turn to God and follow him. In this Lenten season, write your own parable about life’s journey.  And remember what Christ told his disciples:  “You are lost but you are loved. The road is narrow, not wide. Follow me and I will guide you.” (Psalm 16:11)

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