Little Things Aren’t

I’m preaching a family camp in New York this week.

This morning I came into the dining hall very early to get the essentials – coffee, and time in the Word/prayer.

Had the place to myself until a teen kitchen staff girl came in…we greeted one another and then she began taking all the chairs off the dining tables…about 200 of them…

Yes, I thought about helping her, but did not.

But I did happen to spot her as she got a quizzical look on her face  as she looked under one of the chairs as she started to move it from the table to the floor.

She reached under the chair and pulled out a post-it note…

And lit up the room with a beautiful smile…

I asked her, “What did you find?” and she, still beaming, brought the note to me…here it is:

FRIDAY NOTE

And here she is:

FRIDAY GIRL

She doesn’t know who left it.

But I know her day is a lot brighter now…

And whoever put the note there did a HUGE thing by doing a “little” thing. And my guess is she will look at that note several times today…and will never throw it away.

Don’t let what you can’t do prevent you from doing what you can do.

 

Memory Sparked

A friend posted on Facebook a notice of a memorial service held at the First Baptist Church of Union Star, Mo.

It included pictures of the church…seeing them at 3.45am today sparked a memory that caused me to praise and thank God again that He is a good God who has pretty big sleeves – with a few tricks up them!

Not sure what year…1979ish maybe?…this happened…I was staying with my adopted sisters in Union Star.

Debbie Laffoon Long and I went for a long bicycle ride on a Sunday evening. Lost track of time and got back to town just in time for church.

I was more-than-a-bit sweaty and we debated going, but decided we would.

Sat down, pastor began the service…

As I remember a few hymns were sung.

Then the pastor came to the pulpit.

Stared at me (we had met that morning) for a moment or two. Initially I thought he was going to reprimand me for being in the sanctuary in a teeshirt and shorts…and rather smelly ones at that.

Instead he said something like, “The Lord has told me that brother Jack needs to preach tonight.”

It wasn’t a joke.

I don’t remember if I had brought a Bible or had to borrow one.

I have no clue what I preached.

But I do remember…with a grin and a praise…that a woman came to Christ that night.

Crazy.

And I hadn’t thought about that incident for many, many years until sparked by a posted photo.

Crazy.

 

Jesus Plus ?

Spent last night in Omaha as Jacob and I went to Rhett and Link show (FANtastic!).

Read Saturday’s “World Herald” newspaper, to include the “From the Pulpit” section.

One of the three religious contributors wrote this as part of his column…points if you recognize his denomination before I tell you what it is (bold emphasis added):

“Heaven will be an extension of the ideal home. There isn’t a work on the earth more important than parenthood – ideally pointing posterity back to our celestial ‘home.’ Parenthood is a pattern, an apprenticeship, intended to help us become more familiar with God our Father.

“Thankfully, as part of the plan of salvation, Heavenly Father sent His beloved Son Jesus Christ (KJV 1 John 4.9-10, John 3.:16) to help us overcome the sins and afflictions of this world, and to show us how to return back home to Him.”

So, according to this – yes – cultic teaching; Jesus is “part” of the “plan of salvation” to “help” us???

And that is known as salvation by works. Whether that “work” is doing good stuff, being baptized (in anything), speaking in tongues, not speaking in tongues, being pretrib, worshiping the King Jimmie…whatever…if you are subscribed to any teaching that says for salvation you need Jesus plus anything, you are in deep, deep trouble.

Just as the author of this piece, listed as President of the Millard Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is.

When they tell you they believe in the same Jesus as you, they are stone cold wrong.

Sure, they (LDS) may be and often are very nice people; they do lots of good stuff, but if they believe the teachings of their “church” they believe in salvation by works – that Christ’s perfect life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection was a nice start…but that we have to finish the deal.

 

 

Rocketman Rambling…

Rsight

I have always been a fan of Elton John’s music.elton-john-t

Thus I did watch “Rocketman.” I enjoyed the movie, loved the music, and felt the producer/writer handled both John’s slide into addiction and his homosexuality with dramatic expertise and tact.

The Russian powers-that-be apparently did not; as they heavily redacted the movie and any scenes dealing with John’s sexuality.

Elton then tweeted, “I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognise the universal human right to love whoever we want.”

I ask you to keep in mind that, yes, because I am a follower of Christ and strive to adhere to His Word, I am convinced homosexual behavior is sin (as is extramarital sex; premarital sex, sex-with-a-dog). I also grieve at the millions of dollars that were, in my mind, wasted fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage. I’ll never understand why missionaries suffered, others died of hunger, and so many other needs went unmet while professing Christians spent so much money fighting spiritual battles with man’s tools.

At any rate, I find a couple phrases in Elton’s statement informative.

“…our governments have evolved…” Interesting choice of words. Evolved from believing in truth to believing in “truth as you see it,” or, worse, “there is no truth.”

“….the universal human right to love whoever we want.”

Here it gets murky because too many American Christians confuse their kingdoms.

Sure, I pledge allegiance to the US, often gritting my teeth. But that is far below my allegiance to the King of Kings.

America is not now nor ever has been a “Christian” nation (whatever that is). Sure, we used to generally subscribe to “judeo-christian ethics” etc…but America has never had a Christian majority in governmental power (nor should it).

So “rights” get a bit murky. As a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, I have no rights. I am bought with a price. I am no longer my own.

This would be true were I Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese or any other category.

As an American citizen I recognize a core value is freedom. Freedom to worship as I please, if at all.

I am in the camp that concurs government can not legislate morality; primarily because “morality” is a fluid word defined differently by different people.

So I type again that Christians have no rights. Non-Christians have the “right” and “freedom” (under the hand of God’s sovereignty) choose sin (I know, I know, they are slaves of sin, held captive by sin, can’t help but sin {just as we Christians all were}).

And Scripture is clear (though the professing church isn’t) of the destiny of all who pursue their “rights.”

So I pray often for Elton. For Ellen. For abortion supporters and abortionists.

Yes….they are cosmic rebels against our holy God.

Just like I was…

Perhaps I Should Ebay It?

Just a couple months after I was paroled from Oregon State Prison I went to my very first Christian “conference.” It was called “Live Alive”, was probably Southern Baptist led, and was held in Fresno, California in April of 1977.

Little did I know that a few months later I’d fly to Kansas City to go to Bible school and begin an adventure that continues.

I remember nothing of the main speakers, nor the music (though I do remember handcuffing an unruly teen to a hotel bed…yeah, First Baptist, Newhall, Ca had me working as their volunteer youth guy (my “real” job was “Minister of Sanitation,” a.k.a. janitor. And, yeah, I was still on parole. Perhaps not the wisest decision for the church to make.

At any rate, I still have, and use, a booklet that was handed out by one of the break-out session teachers. He was, as I remember, still in seminary.

You may have heard of him:

(Note the handwritten permission on the bottom…and, yes, those are the sandals I am currently wearing…)

Picture Moves, But…

tragicI do NOT wish to start a discussion regarding immigration; and will delete any comments that so do.

This photo (and I am assuming it is legit) records a tragedy; and rightfully has gone viral.

Regardless of what did or did not lead to the death of these two, it is horrific.

And we shudder. Perhaps weep. Maybe get mad. Wonder what we can do about it! Prayerfully we pray…

But…

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25.46)

By God’s amazing grace I am in the latter half of that sobering sentence, uttered by the Lord Jesus.

Do I weep? Do I get furious? Do I wonder what more I can do? Do I really pray?

Who have I prayed for…by name…this day that they would come to Christ and salvation?

 

We Don’t Need “Great” Worship

It’s About True Worshipers, Not Great Worship

worshipPraise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people. 

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. Psalm 149:1-5 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, on this magnificent weekend in June, we thank you for the privilege of worshiping you. May the truth of the gospel capture our minds; the beauty of Jesus fill our hearts; and the power of the Spirit energize our praise. Undo us and renew us, melt us remake us, free us and fill us, all for your glory.

As our Maker, you created us to live by the strength of your joy. As our King, your reign of grace frees us from our fears and gloom. As our Redeemer, it’s your great delight in us that liberates us to find our greatest delight in you. There is no God like you—abounding in compassion, generous in mercy, and overflowing with love.

We long to give you the worship of which you are worthy—not the worship that merely satisfies our agenda, theological tribe, or personal preferences. If our feet remain still, at least give us dancing hearts. If there’s no timbrel and harp to take up, at least cause our spirits to soar heavenward with unabated gladness.

Father, according to your Word, you are seeking true worshipers, not great worship (John 4:23)—a people, not a performance; engagement, not entertainment. Make us just such a people. As we exalt Jesus, and worship you in Spirit and truth, draw our hearts, neighbors, and the nations to yourself. So very Amen we pray, in the righteousness of faith, for the glory of Jesus.