Spiritual Thermometers

I didn’t know this but I have some spiritual thermometers. One of them is this blog. I can tell when my relationship with God is slipping because I can’t come up with anything to write about. I can skip reading my Bible and praying for days and not realize it but there is something about having a specific set of days to post a blog that makes you look at the calendar and go- CRAP, it’s been over a week since I posted a blog.

I’ll be honest, my relationship with God has gone downhill of late. We haven’t been attending church regularly, nor have I been reading my Bible and praying like I should. Basically I haven’t been spending time with God. You know what? I miss Him. I miss the relationship, I miss the serenity, I miss the calmness in His voice when He speaks to my heart. I have once again let life get in the way. I have reduced my witness to a whimper and my ministry to a crawl.

A lot of it has to do with not having a church home. I have no root. I’m not grounded. But that’s not a good excuse. I still have a Bible, I still have the ability to talk to God anytime I so desire. I just don’t. I wake up early and check Facebook before I check in with God. I read my email before I read God’s word. I am doing life without the giver of life and it really just sucks. My empathy is gone, my compassion is low and my patience is small.

I see it most of all with my kids. I am meaner to them than usual. I snap at them instead of listening to them. I ignore them instead of getting down on their level and listening. I am quick to punish and slow to praise.

I don’t like me when I’m like this. I don’t recognize the man in the mirror. I know the face but the countenance is unfamiliar.

1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.

don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Scrub away my guilt,

soak out my sins in your laundry.

I know how bad I’ve been;

my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen

it all, seen the full extent of my evil.

You have all the facts before you;

whatever you decide about me is fair.

I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,

in the wrong since before I was born.

What you’re after is truth from the inside out.

Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,

scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.

Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,

set these once-broken bones to dancing.

Don’t look too close for blemishes,

give me a clean bill of health.

God, make a fresh start in me,

shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.

Don’t throw me out with the trash,

or fail to breathe holiness in me.

Bring me back from gray exile,

put a fresh wind in my sails!

Give me a job teaching rebels your ways

so the lost can find their way home.

Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,

and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.

Unbutton my lips, dear God;

I’ll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,

a flawless performance is nothing to you.

I learned God-worship

when my pride was shattered.

Heart-shattered lives ready for love  Psalm 51:1-17 The Message


It’s all about Him,

ShawnReblog this post [with Zemanta]

Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

Nouns vs. Verbs

Hello everyone and welcome to another round of “NOUNS vs. VERBS”.  In today’s episode we will be looking at the word “Church” to decide if it’s a, say it with me- “A NOUN OR A VERB!”  That’s right.  We have some great prizes for the winner of today’s challenge, tell them Chuck.

Well Frank, if they win they will receive some dirt under their fingernails, some blisters on their hands and maybe, just maybe their wallets and purses will be just a touch lighter!”

What the heck am I talking about?  Have I lost my mind?  Has the cheese slipped off my cracker?  Well, yes,  but that’s besides the point.  What I’m talking about is how you and I view the word “church”.  If you ask people what is “church” you will get a bunch of answers, the uninformed will say “the building”.  The informed will say “the people”.  The deeply spiritual know it all will say, “I am the church”.  The religious theologian will say, “The priesthood of believers are the church”, usually in a very nasally voice.

That’s the problem though, everyone of those definitions are for nouns.  But the Bible is full of Jesus telling us to see the word “church” as a verb.  In the Great Commission alone we are told to “go’, “train”, “baptize” and “instruct”.  In the Great Commandment Jesus tells us, the church, to love God and to love others.

Something I recently noticed is the last verse in the Great Commandment, take a look.

“These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”  Matthew 22:40 The Message.

Everything hangs on these two commandments, love God and love others.  THIS IS CHURCH!  Church in action.  Being the Church.  Church as a verb.

This Christmas season try BEING the Church, not just going to church.  Maybe don’t spend thousands of $$$$$ on presents that people will either toss in the garbage or re-gift next year.  Maybe buy your kids two less toys this year and take that money and do Church with it.  Give it to your local church.  Give it to a local charity.  Give it to someone in your neighborhood that can’t pay their electric bill much less buy Christmas presents for their kids.

Or you can give the gift of clean water. Living Water International

I don’t work for these people but I know they are legit.  My church donates to them.  There are literally millions of charities you can donate to, find one you identify with and give.

Make Church a verb.  Something you do.  Don’t just go Sunday mornings and plop you rear-end on a chair for an hour or so and think you lived the Christian Life.  You aren’t “doing church”, you are just going to a church.  Go get your fingernails dirty, get some blisters on your hands and lighten your wallet/purse a little this year.

Lets Church this year!

It’s all about Him,

Shawn

Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

The Forgiveness Formula- Part 3

In part 1 of this series I gave the first part of the Forgiveness Formula, Forgiveness=Freedom. In part two I gave you the second part of my Forgiveness Formula, Forgiveness+Love=Restoration. Now in part three of The Forgiveness Formula I would like to discuss the final equation.

In part two we went beyond rational. We learned about loving our enemies. In this post we will going way beyond rational. Almost to the point where people think we might be a little crazy. Today I want to write about a word most of us don’t like to read, sacrifice.

No one likes to sacrifice. No one like to deny something from themselves. I don’t. I want what I want and I want it now. Case in point. About a month ago I was dead set on getting a new laptop. I researched it, I talked about it and I dreamed about it. We were getting some money for our move and part of it was budgeted to go to me for a good laptop. I have a desktop but it is in our bedroom and while I like to write early in the morning my beloved wife likes to sleep. A laptop would be the perfect solution. I can grab it and go out into the living room and type away with no fear of waking The Queen. But, as always, life happened. Money was needed for other things. I didn’t like it (Amy and I argued over it, which we rarely do), but I sacrificed. As much as I didn’t like sacrificing it wasn’t a huge deal as it was for my family. I love my family.

But what if it was for someone you don’t like? What if you were asked to sacrifice something for an enemy or even the guy at work that just annoys the heck out of you? What if a major sacrifice on your part for someone that hurt you might allow that person to find their way back to God? Would you be willing to give up something for someone you don’t like? I know, me neither. Not easily at least. I’d need a sign from God; billboard size, flashing neon lights and a tractor trailer horn blaring saying “Sacrifice for (insert random name here).”

I’m not going to give you a specific Bible verse this time. I’m just going to recall to your mind the story of Jesus. A man who physically walked this Earth around 2,000 years ago. A man who trusted a friend named Judas with his life and was betrayed. A man who stood up for what was right, fought for the oppressed and taught that love is the most important of all commandments, love of God and love of others. A man that the entire world rejected, spit on and beat with a whip. A man that not only cried out while hanging on a cross in terrible agony begging God to forgive them for what they had done to him but went further. He loved them. He prayed for them. And then he went totally crazy. He sacrificed for them. He sacrificed his own life. He died. He died for me when I was rejecting him. He died for me when I was making fun of him. He died for me when I was ignoring him. He died for me when I was hurting others. He died for me when I was disobeying his Word and enjoying my sinfulness. He died for me. He sacrificed for me, beyond forgiveness, beyond love- sacrifice.

You see Forgiveness+Love+Sacrifice=Redemption. Redemption is deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; salvation.

Jesus is our example.  He is the one we should hold ourselves up next two.  If we want to really reflect Jesus like a mirror then we need to be willing to go to the extremes that He went to.  First, forgive.  Then learn to love that person.  Next force yourself to sacrifice for them.  Did you know Jesus didn’t want to die?  He didn’t want to sacrifice for us.  He did it because He loved us so much he forced Himself to do it.  Read in Matthew 26 what Jesus prayed before He was to go to his death.

39Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” (Matthew 26:39, The Message)

Jesus wanted out.  Wouldn’t you?  I would.  But He also wanted to please the Father.  He wanted to do God’s will above His own.  He was willing to sacrifice.

It won’t be easy.  It won’t be fun.  But your sacrifice may mean the difference between salvation and damnation for someone.  What better way to show the love of God than to sacrifice for your enemy?

It’s all about Him,

ShawnReblog this post [with Zemanta]

Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

This is a tough one.  Please, if you are reading this, read to the end.  Don’t assume you know what I am going to say.

This subject has been on my mind since and earlier post from a few days ago about the iphone app, “Babyshaker“, anlittle-eyes app that allowed you to shake the phone until the “virtual baby” died.  I didn’t like it, thought is was pretty much a horrible idea.  I still do.  But as I read on some websites there is so much out there that is like this that it is causing me concern.  First let me say that I am NOT one of those people that believe if you play a game with evil in it or listen to music with lyrics about killing, rape and other indecent topics that you will become a serial killing rapist hellbent on destroying the world.  I have listened to my share of what most Christians would call devil music.  I like AC/DC, I even like a little Disturbed now and then.  I have even found my feet bouncing along to an Eminem song or two.  I know, how can I be a Christian and listen to such music?  But the fact remains that I have neither sacrificed goats to satan nor have I shot people from the trunk of a car.  Mostly I listen to Country and Christian music.  I have and continue to read books such as The Da Vinci Code and my favorite author is Matthew Reilly, an author that writes novels that make the Die Hard movies seem boring.  But I also read the Bible and Cristian literature as well as the occasional classic.  I am reading Mark Twain’s, Huckleberry Finn now.  My favorite movie is Braveheart starring Mel Gibson, a movie filled with violence and death.  But I also thought The Passion was incredible and wept like a baby at parts of it.

One thing that does concern me more than others are video games.  I know, your thinking “here we go!”  But hear (or read) me out.  I believe in common sense.  I think things have to pass the common sense test.  And common sense tells me that when companies are creating video games about raping women as a means to aquire a higher score I think our common sense has become uncommon.  Why would they make this game if no one is buying it.  This is a fairly new game and in the report I read everyone on the street that was interviewed had never heard of it and would never buy it.  But, they wouldn’t make it if there wasn’t an audience.

There is so much junk in the world that I don’t believe we can keep up.  While I am against censorship, I am for common sense.  Common Sense would seem to me to dictate that this stuff never gets put on the market to begin with, but that is no longer true.  Everything has become acceptable online, in the movies or in music.  Again, I am against censorship, but I am all for censoring what I and my children view, hear or play.  And thats the point I want to make today.  YOU are responsible for what gets in your head and the heads of your children.  It is your responsibility to sort through and weed out the stuff that you feel is adverse to the way you believe and what is ethically responsible.  I hold companies accountable and so will God, but I hold each of us more severely accountable because the difference between listening to the wrong music, watching the wrong shows or playing the wrong games is a remote or mouse click away.

Check out this passage from the Bible and see what you think,

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”  Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)

While I admit this is not easy and maybe not even possible, it is definitely something to strive for.  I am not saying get rid of everything in your life that is non-biblical, I am still going to watch the Wolverine and Transformer 2 movies this summer.  I am planning to re-read Stephen Kings’ classic The Stand when I am finished with my current book.  What I mean is understand balance.  Just like Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, “Better learn balance. Balance is key..”  We must have balance as well, hopefully the balance scale will be tipped to the “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” side of life.

Those annoying Capital One ads always ask at the end, “What’s in your wallet?”  Well, I ask you, “What’s in your head?”

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New Updates Installed

I just restarted my computer and it informed me that “New Updates Were Installed”.  Man, wouldn’t that be nice?  As a Christ-Follower, every so often God would send out and update for my software (my head) and all I had to do was go to sleep and the next morning, bang, “New Updates Were Installed”.  I mean, you wouldn’t need to pray about the secret sins in your life, just get an “Update”.  No more reading the Bible, just ask God for an “Update”.  No more worries- “Hey God, I need and update on my worry software.”

Unfortunately there is no “Update” button or, for that matter, an “Easy Button” like in the Staples commercials that just magically fixes everything.  I wish that there was, but there isn’t.    

Every “Update” that we get IS through prayer, reading God’s Word or participating in group worship (church).  When we spend time with God or His Followers we receive “updates” all the time.  Anytime God opens your heart and mind to a new eternal truth about Him it is an “Update”.  Every time we feel God’s prescence and are led to do something for Him, it is an “Update”.

When was the last time you received and “Update” from God?  If it has been a while maybe you need to spend a little more time with Him and a little less time reading “blogs” on line, to include this one!!

Remember– The Great Programmer sends out “Updates” all the time, get yours today- read, pray and go to church.

Support the Troops?? Part 3

Me    This post is the final post in response to ATW’s comments on an earlier post of mine.

You can read it HERE as well as his comments.

You can read the first posted response HERE.

And the second posted response HERE.

3.   Do you mean then that you hold a gun in one hand and the bible the other? How is that different from the Bin-Laden-like terrorists who use religion to justify – like you – their ways?

I must admit, this is the one that really gave me pause.  How do I justify holding a gun and a Bible at the same time?  Here is what I do know, David, in the Old Testament, was considered a man after God’s own heart.  However he was also a mighty warrior.   In the New Testament Jesus never once spoke evil of soldiers, He even healed the servant of a soldier who had faith in Him.  Matthew 8:5-13.  There are many other references in the Bible that speak of war and fighting.  See the previously mentioned article on Christians in the Military.

I think that everyone must decide for themselves.  We are told in the Ten Commandments not to murder but God not only allowed but also commanded wars to be fought so there must be a distinction between murder and killing in battle.  Our own government recognizes the difference as well.

My opinion,  and that is what it is, an opinion, is this.  I have no problem with Christians being in the military.  It is the same for any job or circumstance of life, if you are asked to do something that you feel would be in violation of God’s law then you should refuse and accept the consequences.  Had I been asked or commanded to kill innocent civilians I would have refused.  I see great honor in serving in God’s army as well as in the armed forces of the U.S.A.

However, I realize that not all people will agree with me, and while I have no issue with that, I still believe we should support our troops and pray for them.  Jesus supported the enemies soldier when He healed his servant.  Soldiers are real people, they have Dad’s, Mom’s, siblings, souses and children.  And just like any other person they are in need of our love, the same love that Jesus demonstrated when He died on the cross for us.

Am I the same as bin Laden?  No, I have a conscience, I have morals, I would never knowingly harm innocent people.  And that is the difference.  The difference between murder and killing.  The difference between war and terrorism.  I may not always agree with who we fight, and if it came to it I would refuse if ordered to fight an unjust war, but I do believe in fighting for what matters, my family and my country.

Remember- Right or wrong, just or unjust, good or evil, our soldiers need your prayers and your unconditional love.

P.S.  Twins separated at birth or two completely opposite people?  You decide!

bin Laden          Me

Whammies From God

punched   There are times in my life when someone will say something or I will read a sentence and it fells like God just whacks me in the side of the head. That happened the other day. I was reading something, I can’t remember what it was but, there was this short sentence in there that keeps coming back to me all the time. I can’t get it out of my head, which stinks because there is only so much room up there. Until I brain-dump the last episode of House the storage space is limited.

So here is the sentence. “You only truly believe what you do.” WHOA!!!!

Seriously, those 7 words blew me away, and still do. I hear people all the time, myself included, say “I believe the Bible 100%.”, or, “The Bible is the inspired Word of God and is completely true.” Let me say first off, I completely agree, I believe the Bible is 100% accurate, no mistakes, no contradictions. But at the same time, do I really?

I mean, I know the Bible says to love my enemies, to not repay evil with evil, but to repay it evil with good. I know the Bible says to love God first and foremost, above all else. I know the Bible says that the people who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus will go to hell. I know these things but I obviously don’t believe them, if I did my life would be spent loving my enemies, repaying evil with good and telling everyone I met that Jesus loves them and wants to give them life eternal in heaven. But a lot of times I don’t do any of those things.

So whats the deal? Why do I believe these things to be true but I don’t act on them? For me it comes down to choices. I either choose to do what’s right or choose to do wrong. And no choice is a choice to do wrong. Nobody sits on the bench in the game of life. When I make my choice, is it based off of what I see or is it based off what God can do through me.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” James 1:22

Remember- You only believe what you do, God wants you to DO what you believe.