Friday, November 13, 2015

Opinionated without a cause.

 I'm not sure why we've become such an opinionated society. Maybe because more people can see our opinions now that social media has made it so easy to share them on a scale like never before. However, humans have always been such that they care more about their own opinions than the truth.

 "Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.
 Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be willing to listen to those of others, you will gain much more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to take advice and apply it than to give it."
Thomas A Kempis; The Imitation of Christ (some time in the 1400s)

 In a time where everyone thinks that they are right, odds are very few of them are. I believe that Jesus is the way THE TRUTH and the life. I believe that options ought to be filtered through his teaching and the Gospel. You might say, well thats your opinion. You'd be wrong. I've only arrived at this belief through giving up my opinions to Jesus and let Him be the formation of my beliefs. I submit to him as my Lord, He teaches me how I ought to believe. In Him is the truth, therefore, in Him I believe.

 Why are you opinions your opinions?  How are they formed? Society? Personal preference? Fear? Feelings(or feels as they are now called)? Reason?

 Beware of such things as opinion formers. They are misleading because they do not have an outside accountability to help you in formation.

 Rely on the truth.  Jesus. He is truth.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marriage//Church//and the Comparison Game.

Wives and Husbands

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV

 I've been thinking a lot lately about marriage and the church. How the church is the bride of christ and how we are in a sense stewards of the bride of christ, being members of it. I see local autonomous congregations as all being apart of the global bride. Lot's of them doing lot's on different ministries, but all having the same goal, the glory of God. But, somehow, there ends up being disdain and strife in this body. Why? People leave to go to a "better" church. Because the church they were at was not "good enough." This will not be a post about how you should stay at your church no matter what, due to the fact that there are churches that are unhealthy and sometimes in life you just have to move on from a place. This is about the comparison game.


 I recently was in a community group where we talked about marriage relationships being dynamic, they are fluid, with different seasons requiring different ways of loving each other. Sometimes learning to love a person who has changed. My wife recently became a mother and I a father. It has been a challenge for each of us to learn how to love each other in light of the change in our family dynamic. For me, I've been afforded less alone time with my wife and she thinks about things differently and does things differently. Essentially she's become a different person. So, that being said, does that give me the right to let our relationship suffer or stop loving her or just call it quits and get a lawyer? Well, that depends on your view of what marriage is. 

 You see, in this day and age marriage is often said to be about "love." Which in a lot of respects is a true statement. However, that's not really what a marriage is made of. Marriage is made up of sacrifice. It's the back bone of a long lasting and fruitful relationship. If a marriage is to last, by the way it's designed, you are required to sacrifice. A lot! Things like what you think are the best use of your time, what you want to eat for dinner, what you want to watch on TV, where you want to go on vacation and whether or not you get to relax in the evening. See this all sounds miserable. "I don't want to do that." Exactly! Marriage (and family for that matter) is about doing what is best for the family and not what you want. Our selfishness is put under a spotlight when people first get married because they find out the other person wants different things sometimes. 

"Marriage is made up of sacrifice. 
It's the back bone of a long lasting 
and fruitful relationship."

 So, to say marriage is about love is not false, if to you love is about sacrifice. When you've been married for a number of years you find that you also have to sacrifice your desires. Even desires about what you want your marriage to look like. Because, life happens. This is why marriage must be dynamic. 

 My pastor always says "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be broken." If you have a love that is flexible and plans/desires/expectations that are flexible they will not be broken when life changes the way you have to do them. You see, Jesus loved the church so much he gave his very life for us. More than that, he left his home in heaven to come to earth. He set aside his glory and lived humbly that we might have life. THIS is marriage. To set aside your glory leave what you call home behind and love in such a way that it looks to the world around you that your desires have died.
 See, when our marriage starts to change and we don't like it we start to see other peoples marriage. We start to see other men's wives other wive's husbands (Deuteronomy 5). This is when we find ourselves in trouble. The comparison game. "Why isn't my wife like so and sos wife?" "Why does so and sos life look so much better?"

 Here is where my comparison of marriage and the church come together.

 The comparison game is made so much easier by social media. We are able to hop online and see what everyone else is doing and then compare. This has made life for those leading churches difficult. Now, you can hop online and hear a better preacher than the one you hear at church. Which is fine, nothing pleases a pastor than his people working to become better christ followers and not asking him to be the sole source of their spiritual nourishment. But, what it can do is help the comparison game. "Why doesn't pastor so and so preach like this." "Why doesn't our church do this song more often?" "Why aren't we taking mission trips to Africa?" Sometimes there are a place for these questions. However, if they are not asked in the presence of those they are not directed towards they become disdain, as you formulate a better way of doing ministry than your church leaders. Then, you ask yourself the question "maybe it's time to look for a new church?" Again, I think that there are times when you cannot stay at a church for very good reasons. However, if the source of the desire to leave comes from conversations you've had with yourself about how unsatisfied you are. You are becoming the prey of The Comparison Game. 

 As followers of christ we are not called to have all the answers and go around flaunting those to everyone so that we develop a lot of enemies and very few friends who believe exactly the way we do. If you expressed all of your unfiltered thoughts and everyone had to agree with you to be "right" you'd be alone in your rightness. Only one person has been completely right. His name is Jesus, and we describe him as righteous. 

I hope this encourages you to look at life without comparing things. Simply, enjoy your life. Explore your God. Let him be satisfying. LOVE PEOPLE.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

He Gave Them Permission

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” 

Luke 8:22-25 ESV

When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.

Luke 8:27-32 ESV

In my time in the word today I was hit by the power that Jesus displayed while on earth. In chapter 8 of Luke there are two stories back to back that present Jesus as more powerful than nature and spirit. In the first story, He stands in a boat and calms a storm. In the second, He stands before a legion of evil spirits in complete power. 

I am blown away by five words that are said of Jesus. "So he gave them permission."

These spirits knew who Jesus was. They did not challenge him as a teacher, or as a healer. Their first words to Jesus confess him as "Son of the Most High God." In the text you can see their submissive nature to Jesus. They did not fight Jesus, they only "begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss." So, they chose to enter some pigs nearby and the commentator (Luke) says "So he gave them permission."

This is a testament to who God is. The supreme ruler over all things. Physical and spiritual. He commands the waves and evil spirits beg him to not destroy them.

Do you understand, the weight of that sentence? He didn't destroy them, he didn't cast them away, he didn't argue with them. He simply gave them permission to continue existing. I imagine he simply gave them a nod. The power displayed here is incredible. 

So, for us, what shall we do about this? How shall we respond? Simple, worship. I cannot react to this supreme being in any way other than to acknowledge his as supreme and, in my heart, fall before his throne as beg for mercy. Then, live my life in light of the fact he has not only granted mercy, but he has graciously given me a life that I do not deserve. He has made me an heir of his kingdom, that I would someday have ownership of his Heaven. Now, knowing this. Am I to go on wasting away in front of the TV or on my lap top or with my eyes glued to my cell phone. I cannot. For he has called me to greater things than to be a person who merely reacts to life. I am one of his children and his kingdom is worth dying for.

We should live accordingly.

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:39 ESV)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Broken heart || For the Broken World

 My heart is broken today for the world we live in. For our nation for those outside our nation who are experiencing hardship that we can't even begin to compare with. It's as if we as a nation are just now seeing injustice for the first time. Shame on us for taking this long and shame on us for reacting to injustice the way we do.

 Friends, what good will it do to conflict with each other over injustice?
Why must we insult people as being "uninformed," "ignorant," "racist," "bigot" or "phobic" because they believe different than you?
Why do we allow the media (fox or cnn) to determine what we believe, when they obviously both have an agenda (ratings)?
Why do we take to Facebook to ale more enemies by "speaking our mind," (myself being the foremost of sinners, accept this as my apology)

Oh, that we would use our freedom of speech to build one another up.
Oh, that we would refuse to let someone with an agenda decide who our friends will be.
Oh, that mankind would be more important to us that political party.
Oh, that we would seek true peace and lay down our verbal and literary arms.

By admittance I am quite conservative, which in the past has been the close minded ones, the majority.
Not anymore!
Now, liberalism is the majority.

That being said. Let us change what kind of conservative and what kind of liberals we are.

With love as the goal, let us all become liberal.
With hate as something within us all, let us all become conservative.

There is no way for politics to save our world. The right wing will ruin things just as swiftly as the left.

For me, I've found the answer. His name is Jesus. He died so that the sins of all could be forgiven. This gift has been offered to us all.
Black, white, conservative, liberal, christian, atheist.
The only difference between all these people being those who have accept this gift and those who will not accept it.
Nothing is more offensive that this.
That all mankind has failed and needs a savior.
That you are no good on your own. You need him.

He is Jesus. He is offered to you.

a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:32 ESV)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson (Biblical Perspective)

Here is what I know. There are a ton of victims in this situation. People who will not have the life they once had, and several people who are not alive anymore. That is what is sad. 
Legal Justice does not change what happened nor does it ease the pain of these life altering incidences. Anyone who believes Indictment will help a hurting family find peace believes more in the authority of the state than the authority of God.
Now, I desire greatly for legal justice to come about. Did that happen? No clue! There is no way of knowing. All of the "facts" are so cloudy, no one with the internet or newspaper or gossip can make a legitimate judgment on this situation.
That being said, there are mobs and rioting. Guns being fired. More lives being taken. So, has justice been served. Not at all. The mobs were going to riot no matter what the verdict was. A team wins the super bowl/world series/world cup and people begin to act primal, a team loses same outcome. This is because they worship something or someone other than the god of love. So, all we can do is sit at home and deal with our hearts.
Here is the solution (that will unfortunately not come about today in ferguson it appears) compare yourself to a holy and perfect God. When you stand before him, you are unable make decisions of judgement before him because you, in your heart, have the same indictments as man who has killed an innocent teen or a man who attempted to maliciously attack an officer of the law. Michael Brown, Officer Wilson, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman will all stand before God. So will you and so will I. There will be no talk of state or federal justice. Only, "My son died for you and your sins. What did you do about that?" Simply, The people of Ferguson have decided justice is God and so has most of our nation. We believe life should be fair. We live in a nation of spiritual communism, "Everyone should be afforded eternal life cause we're people." This simply is not the case. 

My prayers are for salvation, peace and that Michael Brown and the rest who have lost their lives seeking peace received grace when standing before our Holy God.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

America: The Nation Whose Turned It's Back On Thankfulness


 I am not one who likes to rant because I believe it should be reserved for things that are truly outrageous. Well, here comes a rant because I've come across something truly outrageous. There is a very good possibility that, this thanksgiving, I won't be able to eat thanksgiving dinner with my wife. She is employed by Sephora, a makeup and beauty chain. The location she works at is in the JC Penny's of our local mall. Unfortunately, this year, JC Penny's has decided to open it's doors at 5pm on thanksgiving. Which means my wife may very well have to go to work as early as 4pm to open the store. Here's the problem, retailers, who open earlier and earlier on a day set aside from thanksgiving, have decided that their wealth and prosperity is more important than their employees time with their families. They are not opening to fuel the joy and holiday spirit that comes about that time of year. 
 Black friday used to be somewhat innocent. It used to be the opening of christmas shopping. I used to enjoy getting good deals on tires for my car or a good price on some gift for so and so. But, now it has become a celebration of greed, envy and materialism. People rush to stores, while they should be at their homes celebrating all that they are blessed with. 

NOTE: Whether you believe in God or not, being blessed is something we all experience therefore all people should find something to be thankful for.

 Every year the events of black friday become the laughing stock of the world. People rushing into a walmart to buy televisions, trampling over anyone who gets in their way. People getting into fights over $5 blue rays. Retail employees being stabbed because they would not open the store sooner that instructed. Every year the events of black friday amount to breaking news as the death rate and number of injured people climb higher every year. Thats right, death rate. Can you imagine the families of the 7 people whose lives have been lost because of people who are too greedy to act like humans. 7 families will, for the rest of their lives, have someone missing from the dinner table. All in the name of "a good deal." 

 Well, I've had it with "good deals" if it means people aren't safe and my daughter doesn't know thanksgiving dinner with her mother at home. I won't be going shopping on black friday. I will probably go out and check on my wife. But, shopping on thanksgiving, no thanks. As to black friday, I'm staging some formal protest, because I know as well as anyone it won't do any good. I will however not take part in humans acting like animals. 

 America. Please think about what we're doing. We're not after good deals anymore. We're going after things and forcing people to give up honorable traditions. Stay home, hug your family, shop on amazon or ebay if you have to (they have black friday prices everyday). Let's not be the laughing stock of the world anymore, act like honorable people. Do whats right.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Worship - What is it?

Praise the LORD!
 Praise the LORD from the heavens;
 praise him in the heights!
 Praise him, all his angels;
 praise him, all his hosts!
 Praise him, sun and moon,
 praise him, all you shining stars!
 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
 For he commanded and they were created.
 And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
 Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
 Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
 Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.
 Praise the LORD!
 (Psalm 148 ESV)

 These are my favorite Psalms! I love them because they capture the essence of worship and who should worship God. I've been a worship pastor for 8 years this month. I've seen trends in music come and go. I've seen a lot of people worship and had a lot of people tell me how I should worship. However, my position as a worship leader does not mean people don't worship unless I'm around. People WILL worship. The question is who or what do you worship. Thus the purpose of this post. My thoughts on worship.


 To really understand this idea of worshiping we should look at the words for worship. I have chosen some of my favorite words for worship, both of them being Greek

Doxazo - to render or esteem, glorious, honor, magnify, full of glory From where we get the word doxology - it means to esteem, or honor.

Megaluno-to make or declare great, increase or extol, enlarge, magnify, show great This word is where we get magnify - to make great, to show the greatness.

 See these words for worship don't say "to make melody" or "to sing about" or "learn a new Hillsong tune", they mean something more. See in my life I have had the tendency to use the word worship in reference to a style of music. This is extremely unfortunate given the fact it means so much more than, singing songs while looking at words on a screen and trying to stay focused on the song instead of who is looking at us. This idea of worship refers more to something like an arrow pointing at something. When we are in a "worship setting" it generally means a setting that is about a god (I say a god because there are many religions that have "worship settings"). It means we are getting ready, as a group, to focus our attention on one being. Christians focus on the triune Godhead, Muslims focus on Allah and Muhammad, Catholics focus on a number of beings, and sports fans focus on teams and or players, gym rats focus on their body and the bodies around them. In putting our focus upon something, either spiritual or not, we are showing the people around us what is important to us. We, in a sense, point people towards what we consider important. In the case of our spiritual lives we have limited worship to a 15 - 45 min. set of songs with which we "worship." This is what has become to general use of the word worship in the Christian world. I am not condemning all people who use the word worship in reference to music, I am asking if we should return the word worship to its actually meaning so that we can better understand what it means to be a "Worshiper." Let us understand worship better so that it can be the act of living that it is supposed to be! In the Psalms I posted above, it refers to all of creation praising God. You may ask yourself "how are they supposed to worship?" thats perfectly fine to ask. How does a tree worship God, how does a squirrel worship God, and how does my dog worship God? The answer to that is "General Revelation."

 You see, God reveals himself to all people in two ways "General Revelation" and "Specific Revelation". Specific revelation is God revealing himself through scripture, I won't spend very much time on this but if your want more information on this check out this video by Pastor Mark Driscoll. General Revelation is God revealing himself through his creation. When we look at creation we see a vast expanse of created things, as Christians we believe that God created these things. God created dogs, cats, and cows. These animals, by way of existence, point towards their creator, God. This in effect is giving Glory to God. Given that these creatures point toward their creator, they are giving the glory of their creation to God. They are worshiping him by there very existence. They have not been given a free will to choose who they will worship like we have. Therefore, every second of everyday, 365 days a year animals worship God by existing. By way of General revelation animals and creation worship God.

 HOW DO WE WORSHIP GOD? God, because of his love, has given us a free will. This means that we can worship what we want. Given the fact that we are sinful by nature, and ever since we were born we were enemies of christ (Philippians 3:18, Colossians 1:21) we have made the decision to not worship God... This is what has condemned us to death. We make the decision to choose something other than God we make the choice to die. Choosing to worship anything other than God is in the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:3) therefore punishable by death. "But Seth, I have never made the choice to worship anything but God!" Really? Let us think about what I have stated previously. If you are worshiping God, your life is pointing towards him. Worshiping is merely that, your life pointing toward who your god is. Every one of your actions is proclaim a god and if your actions are pointing towards Jesus then you are worshiping him. But, what god are you proclaiming when you lie to your boss about being sick, or when you are speeding down the highway breaking the law, or when you stay in bed instead of intentionally going to worship God with other believers? In those moments, who are you proclaiming? When you make it difficult for the Church to its job of making disciples, is that an act that proclaims God to be who He says He is? We must understand that our every action is a proclamation to those around us as to who our god is.

 These are my thoughts on worship. It's is not my desire to make you questions your life choices or to stir up disdain or make you feel bad. I am merely seeking to encourage people to question themselves, "who is my god?" "What or who do i proclaim?" Yes you may sing songs on sunday and raise your hands or even playing in the band, but if you do not live a life that proclaims God to be who He says He is, you are in fact, NOT worshiping the God of the Bible. We need to ask ourselves questions like this everyday. The question of do I actually worship God? Because those who are around us can tell who your God is.

 For me, my temptation is to make my things and myself in an idol. At one point I had realized that every status update on my social media, all the pictures I was posting. None of them, we're about my relationship with Christ. Not that social media is the end all be all of determining where one's heart is. However, social media is a window into what is important to someone. For me, you will see hundreds of pictures of motorcycles, baseball, music and my family. All of which, if I am not careful to seek God, can become idols.

 Here's the solution. Seek Jesus. When you have truly saught after Jesus and experienced his grace, realized his work for you, you have no trouble worshiping him. Just like you would have no trouble making your appreciation for someone whose taken a bullet for you know. If you know and believe that Jesus saved you and spend time seeking him daily. Well, then you'll know what I talking about when I say worship is an overflow of the heart. What you believe in your heart to be true will, without trying very hard, come to the surface for those around you and the world to see. I hope this encourages you and causes you to consider where your heart is.

Seek Jesus. You'll enjoy it. He'll be glorified.