Power Limit?

On a hike from Victory Valley (Zionsville, Pa – site of my annual “Korean Kamp”) I saw an old church with a cross on its apex…with a lightning rod adjacent.

crossCommon sense. Wise move. No criticism at all.

But it made me think –

Do I want all the “power of the cross?”

Or do I want just enough to get me by…

But not the full amount the Lord has to give?

My goal is, above all, to finish well.

Psalm 69.6 is a regular prayer:

“Let not those who hope in You be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts;

let not those who seek You be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.”

Thus I want all God has for me. I want His power to enhance my pursuit of holiness; to make me a better husband, dad, and man. I want His power to saturate every aspect of the ministry to which He has called me.

I don’t want to put out a limiting “lightning rod” by saying, “Yes, God, I’ll do what You want as long as (whatever – for instance “I don’t have to move,” “I don’t have to change careers,” “I don’t have to give up something…or someone…I cherish” etc.)

How about you?

 

Stupid is As Stupid Says

imagesI’m starting a new category for my blog – “Stupid Statements.

I will not post every stupid statement I read. I’ve got a life, a family, a ministry.

But I will post and tag some.

Here are my first two stupid statements. I don’t care your political affiliation. If you don’t recognize that these are stupid statements…well…

#1 Joe Biden (at Iowa State Fair)  “We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.”

#2 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (on “60 Minutes” after some of her statements were proven to be false) “There’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”

I’m not going to comment (you may feel free to). I’m not going to highlight or bolden the stupid parts.

I’ll just be here shaking my head wondering how anyone with a smidgen of sense can be okay with statements as asinine as these.

 

Support Your Local Youth Pastor!

I am pro-local church.

That said…I am everlastingly grateful that God has called and equipped me to work in (oh, how I detest this term) “parachurch” ministry.

Why?

For one reason, because of the way many…if not most…churches treat their youth pastors/workers.

I write particularly of full-time, vocational youth pastors; though the premise is sadly applicable to all who work with teens in the context of a local church.

I’m not writing of the budget (or lack thereof), or the folks who gripe that the youth “mess up” the church…or their music is too loud…or their room is painted weirdly…though things like the aforementioned and so much more are “little foxes that spoil the vine.”

I write particularly of those church members/leadership who:

  • don’t like that the youth pastor talks about sex so much
  • don’t like that the youth pastor spends so much time at games, concerts, and plays that involve teens
  • don’t like that the youth pastor takes his kids to camps/programs/concerts that aren’t their particular denomination or favorite “ism”
  • don’t like that the youth group is allowing “those” types of teens to attend
  • don’t like that the youth pastor is encouraging students to ask their parents to pray and/or study the Word with them
  • don’t like that the youth pastor occasionally challenges students to think about the level of their commitment to sports

Yes, I’ve heard all of those and more…some of them during times when I was serving as a part time youth pastor in a church whilst they looked for a full time guy or girl.

Too many church types want “their” youth group to be a social club for the church kids…only. Why do they feel that way? Probably because that’s how they look at church themselves.

After all, the great commission, obedience, discipleship, mentoring, holiness etc are great things to talk about (or listen to); but, gee whiz, you don’t want to complicate my already busy life with actually doing something, do you?

Thus when a youth group starts rolling as a group of Christians seeking to love, obey, and share the Lord (in other words, to be the church) that group can and does make a lot of the church folks nervous…and thus they take out their arrows to shoot at the youth pastor.

And that stinks.

Bad.

Don’t Kneel…Walk

So another “athlete” (a fencer), this time a white guy, takes a knee in protest against, among other things, the President.

The fencer writes, “I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”

Sacrifice? No, that would be the men and women in uniform (and their families).

But I have zero respect for the man or his actions.

It reminds me of an incident at one of my most favorite events…the National Bible Quiz Tournament.

Years ago the annual event was held and hosted by a dear friend of mine. He brought in a praise band to kick off the opening “rally.” This was at least twenty years ago, and some people were not used to drums, guitars, and a bit of loudness.

So a ministry that shall remain nameless had its leaders round up its teens and coaches and escorted them out of the auditorium…as the band played on.

I was beyond furious.

I went to one of the leaders and, ah, expressed my displeasure. He mumbled something about they had to get their room assignments cleared up. Even were that true, it doesn’t excuse the rudeness…

And I knew the leader…and the ministry enough to know that their rigid legalism was overpowering courtesy and respect.

But I remained furious.

And had no respect for them…why?…because they stayed to participate in the tournament.

Had they boarded their bus and returned to their home in “protest,” that would have been one thing. But they just made a big show of showing how “spiritual” they were by vacating the auditorium; but not the tournament.

Just as the fencer (why use his name) participated in the tournament on a team facilitated by the nation…and, though their may be some discipline applied by the overseers, I assume he wants to continue to enjoy the benefits and privileges of being on an American team.

Nah.

Either bail or show respect.

Oh…and his actions violated a commitment he had made, according to the Olympic Committee: “In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC,” USOPC spokesperson Mark Jones said. “We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment.”

When Will We/I Ever Learn?

When-Will-We-Ever-LearnAnother one bites the dust.

Another key “leader”, author, mega church pastor…divorcing, renouncing faith.

And the beat goes on.

Part of the “great falling away”?

I don’t know.

But this I  know:

FOCUS ON JESUS! CONCENTRATE ON THE GOSPEL! DO YOUR OWN TIME!

Focus on Jesus: Hebrews 12.2 “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.”

Concentrate on the gospel: 1 Corin 15.3 “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”

Do your own time: It’s prison talk, but it’s good talk…in prison you can’t do anyone elses time….you can only do your time. Same thing in life. 2 Corin 13.5 “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves…” (Yes, it is more fun to examine others, but…) Psalm 139.23,24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me…” When’s the last time you asked the Holy Spirit to go on a “search and destroy” mission in your heart of hearts?

Beyond on this, as you fix your eyes on Jesus you won’t be fixing them on your favorite teacher/theologian/singer/pastor/etc.

What would it do to your faith if it was discovered somehow that John Calvin had a homosexual affair? Or that Moody was a drunk? Or that Arminius had a thing for children? Obviously…hopefully…none of those things are true..

But had I said a few days ago that Joshua Harris would slide into apostasy (there is no other word appropriate) most of you would have said “no way.”

What would happen to your faith if your favorite were to capsize tomorrow?

Don’t put your eyes or heart on any human.

They can all fail you.

All are mere men and mere women.

FOCUS ON JESUS! CONCENTRATE ON THE GOSPEL! DO YOUR OWN TIME!

NB?NB

I wish I could write like this…but this is the amazing Scotty Smith…his topic today reminds me of the old Navigators saying, “No Bible, no breakfast.” It is a matter of desire, discipline, and planning. Here is some incentive:

The Gospel for Breakfast (Lunch and Supper Too) 
SCOTTY SMITH

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Ps. 143:8

‘Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.” Isa 55:2

Heavenly Father, there’s no better way to begin every day than feasting on the gospel. There’s no nutrient we need more than the fresh manna of your grace and a big helping of your unfailing love.

Nothing tastes as sweet as the assurance of your welcome, presence, and affection. No matter our diet preferences or food allergies, all of us can feast upon all the Bread of Life you’ll serve up.

Because, apart from the gospel, we whine more than we worship, and we judge others quicker than we love them. When we skip a breakfast of grace, we get our feelings hurt too easily and we overlook stuff too slowly. Little things take on too much meaning, and the important things get buried under a pile of bad attitudes.

When we choose other libations than Living Water, we fret about ourselves more than we spend time adoring Jesus; we get more resentful than restful, and our fears grow bigger as our faith shrinks. When we bypass the banquet of the gospel, we reach for “junk food” all day long—literally and figuratively.

Father, because of your unfailing love for us in Jesus, we reaffirm our love for you and trust in you. Keep filling us with the beauty of Jesus, a daily supply of your mercies, and the all-sufficiency of your grace.

… we bless you for your kindness, praise you for your faithfulness, and worship you for making us your beloved children in Christ. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and powerful name.