Does the TV count as company?

Does the TV count as company? Does a book? What about a video game? FaceBook? I could go on and on, but I think the point is made. In case it wasn’t do the things we give our attention to count as company (that’s better)?

I think they do because they are created to take our attention and pull us into that world. You generally watch a show or movie and “escape” into it. You become connected to the characters and stories. You are saddened when they die, or lose their love. You rejoice when they win. When Captain America is being all awesome you feel good and maybe your arms start twitching like mine do (as if I am beating the bad guy). If we were not connected to them we would not spend our time with them we would just change the channel or grab a different book.

So my new question is this; What kind of company do you keep? 1 Cor 15:33 says Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” So does the company you keep corrupt your good habits? If you are like a lot of people you can look at that verse and think “almost all my friends go to church” or “I only hang with people who are decent” or whatever. But if the TV and Book company you keep at home is not good then you don’t actually keep good company.

Now don’t think I am shooting down anything in particular. I have no idea what show or book you are thinking about right now but I am willing to bet that most of you are thinking about something. Just know that whatever you are thinking about right now is for you to continue thinking about. Maybe it is not something you do now but did before. Just take that to prayer.

One other thought on how evil company corrupts good habits and this really got me thinking.

I was at a store yesterday and there was this loud mouth kid (early 20s maybe) talking about the last time he got arrested and f this and f that. I mean he was really putting on a show for these other kids. I know him because I was him. I could hear the forcing in his voice trying to sound like I don’t care but I could hear the hurt in his voice. Anyway his actions started to rub off on the lady standing next to me. She started saying things that just did not seem to flow out her mouth naturally. She was letting the company around her influence her language and actions. I left the store realizing the awesome power and responsibility (Spiderman influence) we have and how we have to use it carefully.

None of us are above letting the company around us change our habits either. Galatians says a little yeast works the whole loaf. Do not deceive yourself and think that only “weak” and immature” people deal with that type of stuff. Pride precedes the fall.

Just a thought,

Mike

Small sentence big implication!

There are a few verses in the Bible that stand out. Not that other verses are not important but some change the way you view everything.

Luke 10:27 “You shall love the LORD your God with all: your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

This is a simple statement however the implications are huge and require some explaining and examples.

Love God:

Before we can even begin to look at the ways we are to love God we have to understand that we cannot on our own accord love Him. Our attempts at loving God fall short and our attempts at living a righteous life are but filthy rags. We can only love God because He first loved us. God is good and in His goodness He saved us from our sins by sending His only son to save us. It is by placing our trust in the finished work of the Cross that we can then love God. The twist to the story however is that now we can love God but require His love in us to then love Him properly. We must constantly receive from Him to give our love to Him. I believe that Colossians 3:3 shows this well that we cannot think of our love to God as separate from our being in Him. We love Him because we are in Christ who is in the Father. The implications of this are of course that the love we give to God is really His own love back to Him. Desiring to always be in Him.

With all your heart:

The word for heart that is used is more than emotion and feelings. It does encompass this but it is for your mental, moral i.e rational and emotional. We are called to love God with our thoughts, and to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We are to think about the LORD, and to be engaged with His heart. We are to seek His heart and then put ours in alignment with His. We are to not let our feelings and emotions control us. This is done through Prayer.

With all your soul:

Loving God with all your soul is to give Him your whole inner being. A dog can love it’s master, it can come when it is called, it can respect that you feed it, but it has no soul so it cannot love fully. God does not desire that we come when called. God desires that we desire Him. We are to long for Him like a deer pants for water my soul pants for God, we are to thirst for Him. This is done through Worship.

With all your strength:

The love we give to God from our strength is by loving with all the ability we have to love with. We are to love God by doing what we are able to do. This is not done to gain merit or earn salvation but instead we do works because we are saved by Grace. Our love for God is shown in what we do, not done to be loved. Loving God with our strength is to love Him through Service.

With all your mind:

To love God with your mind is to love Him with all your understanding. I love God more now than I did when I first gave my life to Him, but my love for Him was no less real than it is now. Now I simply understand more so I can love Him more. The more I learn of Him and the more I seek Him the more I love Him. The more I transform my mind by His word and see what He has done the more I am able to love Him. My daughter loves me more today than she did 5 years ago only because she understands me more now. The more we study the more we have ability to love Him. This is done through Reading the Bible.

Love your neighbour as yourself:

This is done by living in Grace and Truth. Jesus came full of Grace and Truth and we should live the same way. Some churches are big on Truth and some are big on Grace but what would happen if we were big on Grace and Truth. What if we looked to Jesus as our example and said go and sin no more. What if we offered to others the same grace we need. What would happen if we told the truth we desire to hear.

The local church is to be an extension of Jesus. We are to be His hands and feet. We are to love the unloved, to care for widows and orphans, to offer mercy to those who need it. There is a time for discipline and we must use it when needed but we must not be to quick to reach for it. We must be ministers of reconciliation.

As a church we need to have opportunities for people to serve. We need to have opportunities for people to come to Jesus. We should also be active in the community. We cannot expect to have people come to us unless we have first demonstrated that we will go to them. Jesus spent His time going to the people who needed to hear and receive the Word. We should be a force in the communities we are placed in.

We should also be looking to train up the next generation for service. We should be actively looking for those who have a call on their life and equipping them for service. If someone wants to be a pastor or missionary or doctor or lawyer or nurse or mechanic we should be showing them that they can be whatever they are called to be for Christ. Ministry happens everyday in a variety of ways and we should be showing that to the next generation so they can be a force for Jesus as well.

Just a thought,

Mike

What is love?

I think it is safe to say that we as a culture are obsessed with love or at least the idea of love. We listen to songs about it, watch movies about it, read books about it. We think about how we can better love ourselves, love our spouses, love our children, and love others. Selling love has become a multi-billion industry in it’s multiple forms. Those who don’t have it long for it, and those who have it try to figure out how to hold on to it or find it in new ways.

Often times when we lose the feeling of love we turn to new things in an attempt to get that feeling back often times with failure and sin as a result. There are those who have mastered the craft of the illusion of love. People who have studied the feeling of love and like a painter are able to create it. But like a painting it is only a two dimensional and lacks depth. We have taken a great and wonderful thing and made it trivial and cheap. We treat love like a drug and or a solve it all. All the while we tend to only seek love for our benefit.

The story in Hosea is a beautiful love story filled with tragedy and joy, tears, and rejoicing. Hosea is a story of a man who deeply loves his unfaithful wife, and it is also the story of how the children of Israel have left their first love. But it is also a story of you and I.  A story written some almost three thousand years ago that today still speaks true. It is all a story that today is an all too common scenario. A story that at the time it was written was scandalous, but today makes the for good television. It is story of a fall from grace and an undeserving return to glory.

I think the thing that makes the story of Hosea, and Gomer so great is that Gomer thought she knew what love was. She thought she had an understanding of what love was, and sadly it is the same misunderstanding that many of us have. But she learned what love truly was and is not because of her seeking but because of her husbands seeking of her.

Hosea 2:5 says “For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully for she said I will go after my lovers, who gave me my bread and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.”

Gomer the wife of Hosea decided that her husband was not enough for her, more to the point she decided he was not the provider she needed. She had desires for more that he did not provide. She wanted things more than she wanted her husband and family. She loved other things more. Notice she refers to the providers of these things as her lovers who gave me.. It was the things she wanted more than her husband. She desired these things and these many men more than Hosea. This was not a marriage on the rocks. Not a marriage where her husband did not love her. It is very clear from the text that Hosea loved his wife dearly. She and she alone was the one with issue.

In the same way we too leave God for other lovers. Maybe it is not full leaving maybe it is just a little something on the side. You hold a little back from offering so you can get that shirt, or watch, or rims. You skip fellowship so you can have a little more time to play that game, or get caught up on work, or finally spend some quality time with NetFlix. It is not leaving just a little flirting. You have not cheated on your girl it’s just a work wife because it’s fun. It is just a little harmless fun.

But a little this and a little that make a lot of something.

We look for things that will give us the thing we want; the feeling of love. When we see something that might be it or even lead to it we follow it. We chase love and the idea of love relentlessly all the while not realizing that a relentless love is chasing us.

Don’t get me wrong love is not a bad thing I love love. The problem is our understanding of love. The problem is that we sometimes love the wrong things and don’t understand what love is. We love tacos, cookies, and Jesus. As if these three things are the same.

We chase things that are not love as if they were. We long for what we do not have all the while completely missing the thing in front of us. A big part of the problem if not the whole problem is we do not understand what love is.

Here is three examples of misunderstanding what love is.

So it’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames, you can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain, Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane, cause you know I love the players and you love the game. – Taylor Swift.

Oh won’t you stay with me, cause you’re all I need. This ain’t love it’s clear to see but darling stay with me. – Sam Smith

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low, Only miss the sun when it starts to snow, Only know you love her when you let her go. – Passenger

You have a song about talking about love as a temporary passion, one that wants love knowing it does not have it, and one that says you only know you have love when it is gone.

Love as defined by Webster’s dictionary is a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person and the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship. This is nice but easy to fall in and out of. This is just an affection it is no more than a stong like, and I can stop liking something or someone pretty quick. We have turned love into a feeling. A strong feeling but a feeling nonetheless. We love out of our desire, needs, and wants. We love when there is something in it for us.

God does not command that we really like our neighbor. Jesus does not say in Luke 10:27 you should really like the LORD your God. No it says you should LOVE the LORD your God.  The love being used here in the Greek means to wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem. It is so much more than like or strong like. Biblical love is crazy dedication.

So how does the Bible define love. After all if we are going to talk about Biblical love we should define it.

1 Corinthians 13:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

If I had to sum it up I would say the Bible define love as a selfless devotion to others that is ready and willing to go the distance.

There was a man a few years back named Kamal Saleem who was a part of something called Culture Jihad. It is a branch of jihad that instead of guns and swords to attack the flesh they instead choose to attack the mind. He moved himself to America to begin to reshape America for Islam. Long story short he was in a horrible accident one day on his way to recruit some young men. He was thrown from his car and broke his neck in two places. He was found by some christians who called 911. He was brought to a christian hospital where all of his bills where paid and treatment was set up for him. He knew they were all the same people he wanted to destroy (christians). They put him in an apartment after he was released from the hospital, and even bought him a car. One day he realized that these same people he wanted to destroy loved him without condition and he decided to take his life because of his confusion but he heard a voice call him by name and tell him to cry out to God. He did and God answered. This man now has a large ministry dedicated to seeing people find freedom in Christ.

Back to Luke 10 Jesus then goes on to talk about loving your neighbor as yourself and tells the story of the good Samaritan. A man who had no reason whatsoever to love the beaten and battered Jew. Let me ask you this and I understand that no one wants to hear this and I do not want to say it. If a member of rival sports team was beaten and battered would you help? If it was the one who your spouse cheated on you with would you still be willing to help? What if it was the person who got you wrongly fired? What if it was a member of ISIS or Al Quada? If you are walking down Main St and someone was bruised bloody and dying would it matter who they are before you help them?

We have to love, we have to choose love. We have Jesus as our example of what love does. We look to Him and see how love responds. Not living out of feelings no matter how strong.

We go back to our love story in Hosea 2:14-16 “Therefore behold, I will allure her, will bring her back into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there as in the days of her youth. As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. And it shall be in that day, says the LORD that you will call me My Husband (Ishi – husband, mighty man, him that is, great) and no longer call me My master (Baali – My master, captain, chief man, have to do.)”

That parallel between two words is like an obligation and a choice. It is like the difference between the old ball and chain, and my wife.

We look and see that even before we get cleaned up God is calling us to Him. We did not get to get right before we could get right with God. It says in Romans that while we still sinners Christ died for us. He did it out of love. God is love and whoever lives in love, lives in God (1 John 4:16).

The whole point of what I am saying is this. God loves you and loved you before you were worth loving and He says we are to love as well. We are to love God and love our neighbor. We are to live in love. We are to love the brethren and being willing to lay ourselves down for them. We are to love others and show them a more excellent way. We are to be known for our love. I say it again we are to be about the business of love.

We are to love our children when they don’t ask for it. We are to  love our spouses when they are being difficult. We love our parents when they are being crazy. We are to love our pastors when they seem to require much from us. Love is not a feeling but an action. We must be about the business of love, because it is the business God is in.

In looking at Hosea and Gomer again. Love is worth it. Love wins. Hosea buys back his wife at a great price. A price higher than any of her false lovers would be willing to pay. A price that was above and beyond what any slave was worth. Hosea paid this price because she was no slave but his bride.

We need to first understand that God is love. We can hear that and not understand it. Read 1 Cor 13:4-8a again but this time replace Love with God. God suffers long and is kind; God does not envy; God does not parade Himself, He is not puffed up; He does not behave rudely; He does not seek His own, He thinks no evil. he does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth.

Jesus went to and died on a cross for a Bride. He purchased you back with His own blood He bought back as His bride. He paid a price that no one else was willing to pay. No false lover came to your rescue, no tempter ever thought to secure you. Jesus laid down His life to redeem you. Hosea purchased his wife with things that perish because his love while great had an end. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says:

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by traditions from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Jesus purchased His bride with things that do not perish because His love does not end. That starts to build a pretty good picture.

Later read it again but put yourself in there you will quickly see where you need to work on things. You will have a hard time saying certain things. Your voice might even crack a little when you read words you know are not true about yourself. Read them anyway. Then ask God to help you become those things.

Just a thought,

Mike

I am not a reject!

So at this point I have sent out probably 2 dozen or so emails for youth pastor positions from Saipan to Oregon with most having cricket responses, but some rejections are starting to roll in. This is not fun, and it is not how I expected it to go (I am typically the constant optimist). To be honest I started to feel like a reject and sit in self pity. Then God and my daughter spoke up.

We were doing a Bible study last night and going through 1 John and my daughter asked if lying was a sin. Simple question so I fought the urge to give a dissertation and said yes. She then asked if that meant she was no longer a Christian because she sinned. My wife and I then explained to her that just like mommy and daddy love you and you are our daughter regardless of mistakes and actions God loves you even when you mess up. This was good enough for her. But it started something in me.

This morning I started thinking about that again. I felt like God was reminding that just like a lie does not mean you stop being His child a rejection does not make you a reject. We can (ok I can) take things to a place they do not need to go. It is hard when you get so many no answers or just a no. You can start to feel like no one wants you, and that you will never succeed. You do not want to not feel this way but without some encouragement you will.

Enter Colossians 1:27b and 3:3. These are two of my favorite verses ever. So much so I made 1:27b the WiFi password for a time so when the kids would have friends over they would have to memorize Scripture to use the internet. God can say so much using so little words. I am reminded that my place is in Him, and my work for Him.

So today I am back at (not just sending emails later) but refreshed in my mind and spirit. Reminded that I am a child of the King, and loved dearly. Sure there are many more well qualified candidates out there, sure a lot of them already have a degree and have been on staff for some time now. But there is one thing they are not, and that is me.

 

Just a thought,

Mike

Colossians 1:27b – Christ in you, the hope of glory

Colossians 3:3 – For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God

God in a box

I have the song Listerine from Bush stuck in my head. You know the one they use in the mouth wash commercials “Listerine, Listerine, don’t let a day go by without using Listerine.” It’s a catchy tune I am just surprised it was done by a rock band.

OK OK OK yes yes I know the song is not Listerine, but that is what I keep thinking. I suppose it is because Glycerine makes no sense whatsoever. So I have to then change everything to make it make sense to my brain.

I think we do that with Jesus a lot. There are a few pictures that get floated around about Him because it is hard to make sense of it (fully God, fully man). Sometimes He is looked at as just floating around the Earth during His ministry time. Glowing halo, white robe just floating over the Earth. Sometimes He is seen as just mean. He said things like hate your mother and father, and I brought a sword, and do not do this or that. I’m talking about table flipping Jesus. Sometimes He is just a misunderstood Rabbi. He was a great guy, taught some good stuff, but didn’t want to pay taxes so they killed Him.

There are plenty of other bad ideas too, but these are my favorites. None of them true but none of them completely false either. I mean Jesus was glowing white and majestic (Matthew 17), He got mad and flipped tables (Matthew 21), and He taught some great things (All the Bible). So again not all the ideas are all wrong just not all right either. There is a little truth in some peoples ideas of Jesus but not a lot of truth

We should not approach Jesus with an idea of who He is and then try and fit Him in that box. The people of Jesus’s day missed seeing Him as the Messiah because He did not fit in their box. I hope we don’t miss Jesus in our day because He won’t get in the box. I hope instead we come to Him and say teach me who you are.

When we do that things get crazy. When we approach Jesus with an attitude of submission and desire to see Him, He shows up. He starts showing us stuff about loving our neighbor, and what it means to be the least of these. Stuff about how we are loved by God. Things about how we can be better husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. When we come to Jesus and say show me who you are, instead of saying Jesus get in the box stuff happens.

Just a thought,

Mike

Are we irrelevant?

I was thinking about relevancy last night and the question popped in my head “is the church irrelevant?” I think the answer is yes, I mean no, I mean maybe, I suppose it could be.

The message of the gospel is in no way irrelevant. A lot of people are still in their sin and still need a Saviour. God still loves them and has a way for them. Christ still came to seek and save the lost so yes the gospel is still very relevant. But the question is not “Is the Gospel Irrelevant?” the question is “are we irrelevant?” Yes the first sentence said the church and now I say we but they are the same thing after all you and I are the church.

Let me break it down this way. If I were to go into a foreign land to be a missionary and brought all my western ideals, clothes, food, and music then I would be irrelevant to that culture. Relevant is defined as “closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.” So if I do not take the time to learn about those I am going to minister to then I am irrelevant pretty simple huh.

The same goes with those around us. If we do not take the time to learn about them, their likes and dislikes, their wants and needs, the sports teams they like, the movies they enjoy or anything else then I am irrelevant to them. I have nothing in common with them as far as they are concerned and I am not connected to the matter at hand.

Don’t get me wrong we should not be part of the world but nonetheless it is those in the world we are to minister to. When Jesus came to minister He became a man. He got hungry, tired, maybe even had a pimple (I am not being funny for humor sake) but He actually experienced life like you and I have but never sinned.

Paul says that he has become all things to all men so that some might be saved. That does not mean he took part in their sin but there is so much more to life than sin. There is music, and movies, and food, and mountain climbing, and rooting for the Cowboys. There are things that we can find commonality on. Paul used their own poets to prove points.

Jesus says in John 17:18 that we are being sent into the world. Once we we accept Christ we belong to a new world (the kingdom of God) and then Jesus sends us back into the world we came from to be His ambassadors. Read Romans 12:2 and John 17 to get the full picture.

So to answer the question of are we irrelevant I would have to say I don’t know are you?

Just a thought,

Mike

A Little Twisted (Caramel Onions)

So it is a little twisted but I have a great game to play with a group of people (I am sure the youth are willing). I call it bad apple trivia.

The rules are simple 6 Caramel Apples & 6 Caramel Onions. You get 5 questions and for everyone you get right an onion is removed. For everyone you get wrong an apple is removed. Once the 5 questions are completed the remaining Caramel “items” are placed on a spinning tray and spun and you choose. The game has begun and is over when you eat.

Twisted yes, however immensely enjoyable for those watching.

Why do I bring up this twisted little game? Simple because everyday in life we are presented with options and choices. It also does not matter how many times you get the answer right there is always the possibility of there being a negative outcome. We can make every right decision and and ever correct choice but it still happens. You didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it but it happened.

We live in a fallen world and because of that sometimes you get handed a bad apple (or a good onion). That does not mean God has forgotten you, or He is punishing you. It just means it happened. We have to move forward we have to look to God and remember that He is our rock and strong tower. We can and should pray for things to be different but if it does not happen we have to move forward into what God has for us.

Six years ago this week was the last time I saw my grandfather and it still stings a little that I was not around more, but I have to remember to look to the memories we had not the nasty onion taste in my mouth about the absence.

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. – Job 19:25

Just a thought,

Mike