Archive for October, 2013

Quotes (27)

Posted in Words on October 31, 2013 by nmpreach

Have you ever been overwhelmed?  Busy?  Wondering what to cut out?  This might be for you:

Jesus knew the difference between urgent and important.  He understood that all the good things he could do were not necessarily the things he ought to do. – Kevin DeYoung in Crazy Busy (emphasis his)

In His Time

Posted in Scripture on October 30, 2013 by nmpreach

clock In the last post, I mentioned God not always answering the way we want.  He doesn’t follow our time schedule.  In other words, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob cannot be manipulated (unlike many of the false gods pagan nations worship).  Sure, we try.  But we’re unsuccessful.

We live in a world of impatience.  It’s a constant battle to fight selfish desires.  It’s even harder to not believe the world’s counsel, “I deserve __________.”  Perhaps the best example is a current J.G. Wentworth commercial.  Have you seen it?  The catch-phrase is, “It’s my money.  And I want it NOW!”  It’s all about me and I know what’s best – at least that’s the thought.  And sadly, that’s the way many of us live.

Recently, a “theme” around here has come up time and time again.  Be still, and know that I am God. (Ps 46:10)  In other words, I think He’s got this thing figured out.  And as much as I hate to admit it, He doesn’t need my help.  Does He allow me to do things?  Sure.  In fact, He expects me to do some things.  But manipulation has never been nor will ever be part of the equation.

Here’s another to consider.  This time from Psalm 28:14.  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!  It seems the Psalmist thought he should write that twice.  Did you catch the grammar?  It’s what we call the imperative.  So it’s not, “Would you please wait?”  The grammar isn’t, “I’d really like you to…” or “I suggest…”  It’s WAIT!  In Psalm 46, the command is “Be still!”  They’re both commands.  Commands to put all your trust in God.  Acknowledge the truth of God being all-knowing and always on time.

There’s a song that goes back to the late ’70s.  Remember In His Time?

In His time.  In His time.

He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Lord please show me everyday, as you’re teaching me Your way,

That you do just what You say.  In Your time.

In Your time.  In Your time.

You make all things beautiful in Your time.

Lord my life to You I bring.

May each song I have to sing, be to you a lovely thing, in Your time.

Lord please show me everyday as you’re teaching me Your way

that You do just what You say in Your time.

In your time, in your time.

You make all things beautiful in Your time.

Lord, my life to you I bring, 

May each song that I sing be to You a lovely thing.

In Your time.

I challenge you to be still.  I challenge you to wait.  Give up the worry and let God do His thing.

The Eye of the Storm

Posted in Faith on October 29, 2013 by nmpreach

stormToday, I want to visit about faith.  Most of us know Hebrews 11:1 or 6.  Most of us would consider ourselves “people of faith.”  But what about when the storms seem insurmountable?  In other words, it’s easy to have faith while sitting in a church gathering.  What happens when you’re in the middle of “the storm?”

There’s a story of a man named Stephen in our New Testament.  Stephen was one of the early disciples.  In fact, he was picked to “serve tables” and was noted as being “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5).  Luke goes on to prove what he says.  He [Stephen] was “full of grace and power, … doing great wonders and signs among the people” (vs 8).  Everything is going good.  “But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (vs 10).  And all goes South.  Word spread.  He was blasphemous.  He lied.  He should be stopped!  He’s then taken to the chief priest and has to answer false accusations.

Do you hear the thunder?  The wind has suddenly gotten stronger.  The storm is coming.

So Stephen preaches to those in power.  And gets to this line:  You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.  As your fathers did, so do you.  (7:51)  Talk about an altar call!  You’d be convicted, right?  I would.

But notice their response.  “They were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him….They cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him…They cast him out of the city and stoned him” (vss 54, 57, 58).  So I guess no one came down the aisle.  It’s fair to say the storm is evident now.  And Stephen finds himself in the eye.

So how does he respond?  “But he, full of the Holy Sprit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus receive my Spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (vss 55, 59, 60).  And he died.

So that’s the end?  He died?  Yep.  But I thought those with faith…  I thought God would rescue those who were devoted.  I thought God would show up, rebuke the heathens, and reward the faithful.  But in this case, He doesn’t.  What went wrong?

The answer: nothing!  Stephen died.  Fair enough.  But he also saw Jesus.  He also knew God was with him.  You see, God calls us to be faithful – despite circumstances.  Regardless of what’s going on, we are called to be faithful to the end.  He may show up and deliver us.  But He may not!  Yep, I said it.  He may not.  And there are times we find ourselves in the eye of the storm.  I’m not sure we can say with certainty what we’ll do at the time.  I pray I have a strong faith.  I pray you do.  Regardless, genuine faith is that which may not change circumstances.  It’s faith despite.

So prepare for the storms.  Know that the eye is coming.  Strengthen your faith before the storm comes.  And get ready to see Jesus.

Eat Right!

Posted in Discipleship on October 25, 2013 by nmpreach

WhopperThink for a moment.  What are you hungry for?  I mean what sounds good?  Right now.  I can’t count the number of times the conversation my wife and I have had.

What do you want to eat?  There’s so many choices.

I don’t care.  What do you want?

Doesn’t matter.  What sounds good?

Nothing really.  But I’m hungry.  Let’s try this!

No.  I don’t want that.  Let’s do something else.

Okay.  What do you want?

I don’t care.  What do you want?

You get the idea.  When it comes to eating, it’s tough to make a decision.  <Insert obese joke here.>  You realize I haven’t missed many meals.  So why is making a decision about what to eat so difficult?

But it’s not just us, right?  Most, if not all of us, have had similar discussions.  So many options.  And so little time.  So many choices.  And after all, who knows?  This might be our last meal.  At least I eat like it may be.

Thought:  Let’s move that discussion to a spiritual venue.

What do you want to study?  There’s so many choices.

I don’t care.  What do you want?

Doesn’t matter.  What sounds good?

Nothing really.  But I’m missing something.  Let’s try this!

No.  I don’t want that.  Let’s do something else.

Okay.  What do you want?

I don’t care.  What do you want?

And the beat goes on.  The world is full of noise.  Distractions.  Fast-food joints.  And sometimes, the junk food is allowed to overtake healthy choices – even in our spiritual decisions.  Are you following?  Our relationship with God should lead us to know what we want.  We should want what we need.  We should want to eat/study healthy things.

Satan is in the business of distractions.  He loves to focus our attention here.  Now there.  Over there.  Now here.

And sadly, many of us fall for his garbage.  And we are spiritually unhealthy.  Our spiritual cholesterol would be through the roof.  We haven’t exercised in weeks or months.  And I don’t know when the last time we broke a real sweat.

Jesus said it this way.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Mt 5:6

It’s time we stop going through the spiritual drive through.  It’s time we stop eating spiritual fast-food!

Quotes (26)

Posted in Words on October 24, 2013 by nmpreach

We have a revelation of who Jesus is and what He has said in His Word.  We have no right to customize or personalize Him.  Instead, His Word changes us.  When we believe His Word, it transforms everything about us.  – David Platt

Created For Community

Posted in Community, Love on October 23, 2013 by nmpreach

Those of you who know me at all, know what I believe about relationships.  The first book (outside the Bible of course) in which God began to reveal to me my need for others was Stanley Grenz’s Created For Community.  Although I read the book over ten years ago, I still refer to it from time to time.  In my opinion, Grenz, as we say in the Southwest, “hits the nail on the head.”

Life is not meant to be lived alone.  We need each other.

I can’t number the times I’ve preached on the idea of community/relationships.  The Bible is full of texts that speak to this truth.  And yet, the longer I’m in full-time ministry, the more I realize in myself and see in others the challenge to be intentional with relationships.  In other words, I must choose to love.  I must walk with others – those like me, and those not like me.

Most likely, we’re all familiar with Jesus summarizing the commandments:  Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself  (Mt. 22:37-39).  Most of us, have no problem with the first command.  It’s that one about our neighbor or brother that we struggle.  “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ (Lk 10:29).  Hear that?  How often to we attempt to escape the second command?

Grenz makes the point that Christian belief should lead to Christian action.  Much more to say about that in another post.  But think about it!  What you believe is only half of the battle.  Now what?  You can say you love.  Show me!  Jesus prayed for unity for a reason (Jn 17).  Ted Gossard has some great thoughts at Jesus Community.

Here’s another thought.  God has a relationship with man until things are turned upside down.  “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Gen 3:9-11)  That division caused by man affected all relationships.

And as long as we live separate from God and from one another, we never experience the life God intended.  Satan attempts to convince us we don’t need one another.  Our society adds to the lie of individualism.  The guilt we experience over sin causes us to hide from one another (and in our mind we hide from God).  It never works out.

I firmly believe when we understand a bit about grace and begin to live as gracious people, it’s much easier to walk in relationship.  Let’s commit to do that.  Let’s agree to lose the masks, act as if everything is alright, and attempt to fool one another.  We both know it’s not right!  Let’s not listen to the enemy and walk alone.  You need people – even those much different from you.  It’s what makes a family.  It’s what God intended.

A Part-Time Monk

Posted in Prayer on October 22, 2013 by nmpreach

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend SUMMIT – a gathering of believers at Abilene Christian University.  While there, I picked up a book (surprise) by ACU professor Randy Harris.  Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk is only 156 pages long.  That said, the information contained is worthy of at least double that.

I think what caught my eye initially was a Church of Christ (non-instrumental) professor claiming to be a part-time monk.  After reading the back of the book and introduction, I realized the work was on prayer.  But this one seemed different.  Usually, books on prayer are tedious and work through every passage on prayer.  I’ve realized for years my need to have a stronger prayer life.  I suppose that is part of becoming like Jesus.  But the cumbersome books on prayer on my shelves are many.  And those that have really spoke to where I’m at are few and far between.

I figured I had enough time to devote to 156 pages.  As a friend says, “Come on people!”  That’s nothing.  So I picked it up and began to read.  Let me say this:  Smart.  Funny.  Impactful.  Harris spent forty days with hermits (and more importantly) and God.  As he says, if you want to learn about prayer, learn from those who are good at praying.

I love Harris’ humor.  He’s willing to laugh at himself and the Church.  He makes serious points using humor – a great gift for a communicator.  Although I don’t know Harris, I can hear and see his heart throughout the book.  His genuine desire to be a follower of Christ jumps off of every page.  The book challenged my definition of prayer and offered many things I need to work on.

Let me encourage you.  If prayer is something you’re interested in (you should be if you’re a follower of Christ), read this stuff!  You will laugh.  You will be challenged.  You will be convicted!  For those of you close, it’s on my shelf (and will be for some time).  First come, first served.