Friday, April 29, 2011

OUCH! You're standing on my foot!

1 Corinthians 14: 29-33
 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

Have you ever been in a service, and the preacher preached on a subject, and everything he said seemed like it was aimed right at you? Some people call it “getting their toes stepped on”.
I think sometimes the pastors should have STOMPED on them, maybe the lesson would have stuck. I’ve seen people say they got “stepped on” and then go on and do the same things over and over. It’s because they haven’t been “instructed.”
We think it is wise to send our children to school and teach them so that they can succeed in life. We even go back to school as adults sometimes. It may be to get a GED, or to further our college education.
Yet we do not seem to see the reason to “instruct” ourselves when it comes to the bible. We “read the bible through in a year.” So what. I can read a Physicians Desk Reference in a year. I still won’t understand most of what I read, or how I can use it to help myself. I suspect most of the anatomical language would be above my head. And what I did understand, I probably could not diagnose or treat most illnesses or injuries. Why? Because I haven’t gone through medical school and completed any residency programs.
Same thing for the bible. But just like a medical student, when I study the book, then sit in class, the instructor will talk about things, explain how I can use them in my medical practice, and I’m sure light bulbs will go off about how to apply what I have studied to bettering myself and helping others.
But if I read the manual. Then listened to the instructor read the manual, then maybe make some comments and then dismiss class, would I understand anything? Could I perform a successful surgery? Diagnose an illness correctly? No. Poor sap would be dead before they could climb off the table.
No wonder our Christian lives are dead too. We don’t have a clue how to use what instruction God has given us because no one has taken the time to teach us.
Preachers, teachers, evangelists, prophets. Educate. Then when you prophesy, people will understand that it is the word of God, and fits the guidelines given in the bible. Then they can accept your word as prophecy and a word from God.
Then when people listen to Gods word, and study His word, surely they will start to obey His word. Then they will become “distinct” in their lives, and the world can see how “Like Christ” Christians really are.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Order! I want order in this house!

I talked about worship in blogs before this one. Now I want to continue to talk about worship, only as commanded by God.
God has never been about chaos. There has always been dominion over everything. When there was nothing, God ruled in Heaven. Then He created the universe. He still ruled. Then he created earth, and created man. He gave dominion (rule) over everything on earth to man. He even gave man the opportunity to name each animal. (see Genesis for details.)
God always laid out how worship and sacrifice was to be practiced in the Old Testament. But when Jesus came to earth and then died on the cross for our sins, the old ways were no longer necessary. We no longer had to sacrifice animals. Jesus was our sacrifice. So God would not leave us hanging either on how to continue our worship. He used Paul to give us instructions on how the church should continue after Jesus went back to Heaven.
1 Corinthians 14: 26-40 NIV
Good Order in Worship
 26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come

together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a

revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the

speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

vs. 33-35 omitted on purpose (I'll tackle that one later in another blog)

 36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.[h]
 39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Note verse 40. EVERYTHING should be done in a fitting and orderly way. God’s way. Orderly.
In an earlier blog, I talked about my first experience in an Assembly of God church. There was a lot of talking in tongues, and it caused confusion for me, and I’m sure others. I want to point out something.
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
Note what it says in the middle of the 27th verse. One At A Time. How many times have you ever been to a church where unknown tongues are spoken, and there are multiple people carrying on. Have you ever wondered if this was of God? Well, next time it happens, now you know. And notice something else. “Someone must interpret, or shut up!” (paraphrased) It doesn’t get any plainer than that. See, I’m not against speaking in tongues. I believe in it. I’ve done it. But don’t try to be heard (and maybe seen) when you should stay in the background. (Read the whole chapter for a lot more about speaking in tongues)
Next, things that happen in church and we wonder why:
 26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
Hymns. See, songs are the first things mentioned. Now, does that mean it’s the most important? No, but it is important.
Next, “a word of instruction” is mentioned. What is that? We use the word “sermon” nowadays to indicate the same thing. But I like the phrase “word of instruction” better. Know why? Because a lot sermons are just a bunch of words. Everyone walks out of the service and no one understands how to use the words that the preacher spoke for any part of their life. It was like that for me growing up. Remember when I said growing up it seemed like a history lesson? (see much earlier blog) It’s because that was what it was. The (teacher, preacher, evangelist) told what happened, and then you were told to believe in Jesus and be saved or go to hell. So read the bible, believe in Jesus or go to hell. That is why you can’t tell the Christians from the Pagans in the world today. Christians have not tried to become “Christ-like” as we are to be.
Preachers, teachers, and evangelists! Start instructing. Quit teaching a history lesson, and teach us how to be a part of history. People talk about the great revival of the early 1900’s.  What about the Great Revival that we NEED to happen NOW?
Churches are suffering some of the lowest levels of attendance and membership in the history of the church. The way we’ve taken Christianity and made it the church only lends to make this trend continue. Let’s reverse the trend. Let’s turn the church upside down, shake out all of what is not biblical, and insert GOD and CHRISTIANITY back into our lives. Let’s start to worship, and quit meeting to be a part of a clic, or to clear our conscience. Let’s give instruction so that people can start to be Christ Like!
Next blog I’ll look at “revelations” and how they can happen now, and not just be a part of the end of the bible.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Are you over the hill?

Are you “over the hill” now?
Well, it depends on what you’re calling “over the hill”. I’ve always thought of it as 40, but some of my friends say it’s 50. I want to take a moment and tell an amusing story.
A friend of mine turned 40 a few years ago. I got together with his 2 sisters and we planned a birthday party, with a few twists. We put together a slide show of his pics that everyone could find. Then we contacted the funeral home in the next town and arranged to use the hearse for the evening. His pastor agreed to take part in the ceremony, and a wooden box was built. The stage was set. Invitations were sent out, with instructions to meet at the funeral home.
Everyone gathered at the funeral home except for his wife and me. We told him we would be going out for supper later that evening. There was a “funeral procession” to his house, where the driver came to the door and got him. He was offered the chance to ride in the back of the hearse, but he rode up front. We then had the procession to the church.
The wooden coffin was set up at the front, and the pastor gave a rousing eulogy and the slide show was shown before the service concluded. A great time was had by all, and it is still the most memorable 40th birthday I have ever attended. I don’t think he ever got over it.
Now that we’ve shared a good laugh and one way to be “over the hill”, I want to look at another way.
There stood a hill; a procession was making its way up the incline. Wooden beams were hauled up to the top, on the back of the person who was center stage. There would be no hearse, no pastor this time.
Matthew 27: 32-37
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
This time it was no joke. Unfortunately, there was a lot of celebration. Satan knew he had finally won. The Jewish leaders felt confident that this thorn in their side was finally going to be out of their hair for good.
But this happened instead:
Matthew 28: 1-10
 1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
“I’m baaaacccckkkkkkk!”
They thought He was dead. They thought he was buried. But here He is, alive and well. Just as He promised and it was foretold by the prophets.
We think about Jesus’ walk on earth, his crucifixion on Golgotha, but do we really remember what counts the most? He is alive again. We get too hung up on what happened during His ministry on earth, read where He was crucified, and arose and went to Heaven. Ministry done. Healings done. Miracles completed. Game over. We forget that the same Jesus who walked on this earth is the same Jesus that lives today. Nothing has changed. We can still have the healings and the miracles that happened as recorded in the 4 gospels. The bible is not a history lesson. It continues on.
So I ask once again, “Are you over the hill?” Are you ready to accept and receive what Jesus can do for you today? He healed me, he’s healed my friends, and relatives and friends of my friends, simply because we believed. We took Jesus further than the cross and accepted that He is alive and well today.
There are some religions that are sure He is dead. Some say He was a prophet, or a very nice man. Some say he was used by Satan to trick mankind.
I say He is and forever more will be!
What do you say? Are you over the hill? Will you let Him be your Savior, Friend, Healer, Guide, etc (the list can go on and on and on)?
Please consider making a change in your life, your heart, and your eternal future today, before time runs out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter!

Today is Good Friday. There will be different Christian services all around the world this weekend. Please find one and attend. Consider what it is that this holiday really means to you. Is it about the candy? (not knocking that, I love those chocolate bunnies) Is it about the eggs? (try giving your neighbor a plastic one with an invitation to your church) Or is it about someone who came from Heaven, walked this earth, and then died for you and me and arose again, defeating death, hell and the grave?
I will be out of town this weekend for a getaway, and I'll be attending a service on the mountain for sunrise on Easter Morning. I have something I want you to think about this weekend.
What does it mean to you to be "over the hill"? Is it when you turn 40? 50?
When you read my next blog, I want you all to be "over the hill", just like I am!
Until then!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pharisee, Sadducee, Denominationee

The Pharisees (lat. pharisæ|us, -i; from heb. פרושים perushim/פרוש parush, meaning "set apart")[1] were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE) in the wake of the Maccabean Revolt.
A political party, a social movement and a “school of thought among Jews”. Wow, they couldn’t make up their minds huh?
More copied:
Conflicts between the Pharisees and the Sadducees took place in the context of much broader and longstanding social and religious conflicts among Jews dating back to the Babylonian captivity and exacerbated by the Roman conquest. One conflict was class, between the wealthy and the poor, as the Sadducees included mainly the priestly and aristocratic families.[2][2] Another conflict was cultural, between those who favored hellenization and those who resisted it. A third was juridico-religious, between those who emphasized the importance of the Temple, and those who emphasized the importance of other Mosaic laws and prophetic values. A fourth, specifically religious, involved different interpretations of the Bible (or Tanakh), and how to apply the Torah to Jewish life, with the Sadducees recognizing only the written letter of the Tanakh or Torah and rejecting life after death, while the Pharisees held to Rabbinic interpretations additional to the written texts. Josephus indicates that the Pharisees received the backing and goodwill of the common people, apparently in contrast to the more elite Sadducees. Pharisees claimed prophetic or Mosaic authority for their interpretation[3] of Jewish laws, while the Sadducees represented the authority of the priestly privileges and prerogatives established since the days of Solomon, when Zadok, their ancestor, officiated as High Priest.

Sadducees: Wealthy, arrogant. Pharisees: Poorer, more blue collar crowd, most likely. Fighting over what to believe in. What interpretations of the writings to believe, what to throw out.
Read the above paragraph again. Did you notice one word that was omitted? GOD. They are trying to figure out what to believe, and God is not even in the equation. Each one claiming that they are right, or have the right because of their ancestors.
I’ve seen churches like this. A small number of families that have been in the one church since it opened its doors, sometimes a hundred years ago. Each family thinking that they are privileged and should hold the highest offices because of who their great grandparents were.
Praise God that they had great grandparents who were bold enough to start the church, and then to keep it going. But just because you are of a family doesn’t give you the right to hold office or any position of authority. Even public office holders are elected, their offices are not passed down to their siblings.
And I’ve seen denominations do the very same thing. Claiming to be better or more spiritual because they speak in tongues, and the others don’t, and many other reasons. Some denominations even draw the more aristocratic and wealthy. Some try to distinguish themselves in how they dress. Growing up, you could always tell when someone went to a “Church of God” or Pentecostal denomination, especially the women. Always long dresses, beehive or extremely long hairdo’s. No makeup. Etc. etc etc.
But take away that, and could you have been able to distinguish that they were a Christian? Except for a lot of uppidiness (is that even a word, well, it oughtta be!), No.
Jesus was confronted by the Sadducees and Pharisees many times. I won’t try to list them all, but the book of Matthew records a lot of the incidences where the confrontations took place. Jesus could be rather blunt. He didn’t pull any punches. He often times scolded them for even thinking in their traditions. Many times he tried to reverse their way of thinking and get them to realize that they had things totally reversed. They never got it. It just made them madder.
Just like the guy who was hung up on denominations at my pastoral committee hearing. (see last blog). Why are denominations important? They are only important to us. There were people who tried to be “followers of John the Baptist” and some who were “followers of Jesus.” John told them upfront that Jesus was greater, and that they should be following Him. Jesus never split His followers up into groups. Or classes. Or denominations. And when you read the bible, denominations are not even mentioned. Pharisees and Sadducees are about the closest thing to a denomination that is mentioned, where they are arguing over interpretation and beliefs. As denominations, do we want to be classified with them? I DON'T THINK SO!
The book of Revelations can be a hard and tricky book to understand. Lots of events and happenings. But when you read it, look at the most important part. The groups of people and animals and other beings that are gathered in Heaven and around the throne are not divided up in any way. They are worshipping together in unison.
If we can’t worship together in unison on earth, what makes us think we’re going to be able to do it in Heaven. What are you going to do when you stand before God and the multitudes are worshipping and bowing before Him?
Will this be you:
“God, will you make them quiet down a little bit. I can’t even think. I’m trying to remember what I’m supposed to do today at my mansion. And will you make them stand up? Do you know how hard it is to get the dirt off of these robes when they have been all over this floor? I’m tired of scrubbing clothes while I do the laundry. Lord, these people beside me are too happy when they are singing. Will you make them chill out and sing in a more somber tone?”
I have news for you. If you see yourself in that paragraph above, chances are you may not even get the chance to talk to Him. He may have already told you by that time, “Depart from me.” OUCH. That one is gonna hurt, and for eternity. In Hell.
You want to be around other people who are wailing and gnashing their teeth the way you did while in church? Go to Hell. I guarantee you’ll find that and worse.
You want to find people who truly love God. Go to Heaven. I’m sure there will be many people doing many different motions and saying different things when they are around the throne. But the one thing that will be different will be that no one is noticing what anyone else is doing. Their focus will be on God, and not the people around them.
Why can’t we do that now? Shouldn’t we practice what we’re going to be doing for eternity? There are sometimes when my humility causes me to be in a somber mood when I come to Him in prayer or worship. There are sometimes when I want to dance, sing and shout. There are times when I pray, and things come out of my mouth that I have no idea where they come from, or what language it was. And I’ve had it happen around me in a church service, but I hardly noticed, as I was focused on my worship at the time.
I believe that is what Heaven will be like. No one will care who you are, what you were, how prestigious and/or rich you were. God is all that matters when we get to Heaven, so we had better start thinking that way now. If you can’t put forth the effort to do it here, why should you get a chance to do it up there? But, God is a loving God, and He will decide who truly became His disciple, and who was faking it like a catfish out of water flopping about, that can only squeak out sounds that are not understood by man.
Church, let’s become Christian again. Let’s turn Christianity upside down from what it has become, and back to what it should have been in the first place. Let’s get to where we can worship together all the time, and not just on special occasions where communities will have a joint service. Let’s get to the point where the only reason we may have more than one building in a community is because of lack of land to build a bigger one, so they are all on the same page, worshipping God. People may have to be redirected to another building in town only due to local fire codes and limits on occupancy. Let’s start now what we’ll spend a lifetime doing in Heaven.
I know this has been a lot to take in. And there are many who will still read this, get mad, and probably will not have reached this point in the blog. To those of you that did, reach out to them. Let’s all work to get on the same page. Let’s all become Christians again. Not denominations. Let’s learn to worship beside our brethren, no matter if their hands are raised and they forgot to use deodorant. Don’t let their loudness bother you. Wear earplugs. Don’t let their quiet hushed tones disturb you, take those earplugs back out. Don’t let their dancing disturb you. Wear steel toe shoes/boots.

Or just worship, and it won’t be a problem!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Denomination Abomination

I’m going to attempt a blog that will probably make a lot of people mad before they get halfway through this reading. If you’re easily angered, read the blog just before this one so that you’ll be better prepared to handle it.
Denominations. We have plenty of them in the US. Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Pentecostal (AOG, COG and all of the others, including IPHC). There are more, but I just wanted to point out some of the bigger ones. And there are off shoots of the ones listed above.
It seems that they have taken over Christianity. There are no open Christians walking around anymore. Just ask someone. They will tell you. I’m Baptist. I’m Methodist. So on and so on. Or I belong to Rock Springs Baptist, or Bethlehem Methodist church. How about I belong to God? How many times has someone ever told you that?
When you start out in the ministry, you have to go through a committee that reviews you and your beliefs, goals, etc. They kept asking me questions about being a Methodist, and upholding the doctrine and such. The emphasis wasn’t on my daily walk with God. The word Christian was barely mentioned, if it was at all. I don’t really recall it coming up in conversation, but I’ll give them credit for it just in case. (a dozen or so people firing questions constantly, it’s hard to remember it all.)
I told them that I was a Christian. I agreed to work in the Methodist church, and that I would teach the bible in the Methodist ways. But I was a Christian, not a Methodist.
I won’t call his name, but one guy became so inflamed that I almost thought he would come after me. He turned so red and became mad. But I held my ground. I could tell that I had visibly upset the majority of people in the room, but so be it. It didn’t upset me. Anyway, they still gave me the church to pastor. I’m hoping that it was because they reconsidered for the moment, but it didn’t last very long. I was still a target with a large bulls eye on my back. Finally, the target was hit and I was down. That is when I walked away. It was all about numbers. How much tithe was given? How much did I send to the state office? The church grew over 200 percent while I was there. Yet I was derailed because I wouldn’t kiss the right person where no one should kiss anyone. What happened to church? To preaching the word? To having people saved? To having the spirit hit so hard in a Methodist church that members were at the altar speaking in tongues. (if you ever study the Methodist church, you’ll scratch your head over that one).
That is why I am not in a denominational church at the present. I want the focus to be on God in whatever church I serve. Now, if I ever do get to go to a denominational church, whether it is to speak or to take on as pastor, I have no problem with that, as long as they understand, it’s all about God, and not the denomination.
Moreover, it’s about helping the church members and local community at home first, and then reaching out to the rest of the world. When your house is in order, then you are able to do more for others. Just ask any financial advisor.
Am I saying do not have missions? NO. If your church is successful, your members needs are taken care of, then reach out past the normal boundaries. But when you have a successful church that prospers at home, coffers will overflow and spill out to the rest.
Next blog gets tougher, so prepare your hearts, your minds and your spirits for what we need to examine next.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Upsy, Downsy, Topsy, Turvy

April is kinda crazy here in the south with storms as the seasons change from cold to hot. You never know from one day to the next what the temps are going to be. For example, today’s high in the 80’s, in just a couple of days, it slides to 60’s, and possibly 50’s. And it will rebound, and probably quickly. This is par for the course for this time of year.
As humans, aren’t we the same way sometimes? One day we can be friendly to everyone. We hold the door coming out of the store for the person behind us. We say hi to people we meet on the street that we don’t know and probably will never meet again. We tell the server thank you for doing something small like refilling our drink at the restaurant.
The next day we pull on the bar attached to the door so that it smacks the girl in the arm behind us, we growl when someone says hi to us on the street, and we get mad and threaten to throw our glass at the waitress if she doesn’t refill the sip that we took from it.
What if God was like that? What if He was unpredictable and we couldn’t count on him being there for us, or hearing our cry in time of trouble? What if He smacked us upside of the head for no reason just because Satan got on His nerves again? But He isn’t like that. God is for us, not against us. And I believe that the Trinity is 3 separate parts of one being (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of splitting one being into 3, although when I was raising my kids, there are many times that it would have come in handy! So if God is for us, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit are also for us.
As Christians we are supposed to be “Christ-like” at all times. Granted, it isn’t easy. There are times when people make me so mad and upset, I want revenge, and I want it BIG TIME. I’m not saying that it’s right. It isn’t. But I’m human, and it is human to be like that. So how do we attempt to be “Christ-like”?
Jesus goes to God all the time on our behalf, interceding on our behalf. So we need to be going to Jesus in prayer, thereby following by example.
So I should spend all my time on my knees? NO. You are expected to do a lot more things than just pray. You should always be thankful, worshipful and many other things, but these two can keep you in a better mindset so that when conflict comes your way, and it will come your way, you’ll be ready to handle it in a “Christ-like” manner.
Until next time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hey God, wanna hang for awhile?

Up until now, I’ve focused on getting Christians “refocused” on God, and not the church. Lastly, we talked about worshipping. Now that we’re back to basics, let’s take God outside of church and apply Him in our daily lives. God is a 24/7 God who doesn’t close shop on holidays even. So we need to quit making Him a Sunday God and let Him become an Everyday God.
In Genesis, God used to walk daily with Adam and Eve (chap 3 verse 8). They were used to Him being with them. Unfortunately, after they sinned, they were no longer able to be in His presence as they were before. I don’t know if they were ever able to touch God, but while Jesus walked on earth, the people living where He traveled were able to.
I love bluegrass music. Always have. Always will. One of my favorite bluegrass artists was Harvest Bluegrass. Sadly, they are no longer together as a group. One of my favorite songs that they sang was, “Have you ever touched Jesus?”
I thought about it long and hard. Have I ever physically touched Him? Nope, sadly not. I wasn’t on earth when He walked here as a man. Have I touched Him spiritually? Yes, many times. And He has touched me. In thinking about this, it brought back a bible story that I want to share.
Mark 5: 25-34
25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
31"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "
32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
When she drew the power from him, it was like what happens sometimes when we’re inside a building, the overhead lights are on, and all of a sudden the lights dim a bit, (though they still work) because the a/c or heater unit has just came on and it needed a good bit of power or strength to get it going again. That is probably how it felt to Jesus, it didn’t drain him completely, but enough to make his “lights” dim for a second.
Have you ever reached out to Jesus? When do you tend to reach out to Jesus? When everything has gone wrong and you can see no other way to make it in this world? Jesus has promised to give us strength just as Paul reminds us in (2 Cor. 12:9).
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
What does it feel like when you reach out to touch Jesus? Sometimes in my praying I get the “warm fuzzies.” I think this is that connection with the current flowing from the Holy Spirit that I need to feel to know that He is there for me.
But do you ever reach out to Jesus at any other time? Remember when you were a child and you just wanted to feel your parents loving arms, or a simple touch from their hand, just to remind you that they are there watching for when something does go wrong. Or just to climb on their laps and snuggle, maybe a peck on the cheek to say “I Love You”. When was the last time you climbed up on Jesus’ lap and simply snuggled and said, “I Love You”. You say “But that is impossible, Jesus is not here for me to do such a thing.” I say to you “You’re Wrong”! Find you a corner, a quiet room, maybe just wrap up in a blanket if it’s a little damp or cool, and just start praying, not some righteous words, but really praying.
How do I do that? By simply just talking. Imagine yourself in His arms, looking up at His face, and just simply talk to Him. Tell Him about your day, or what ever is on your mind at the time, and allow Him to listen to your fears, your joys, your concerns. That is how we need to “touch Jesus” more often.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sing! Sing a Song!

I have a blog earlier that I talk about listening to Christian radio and the impact that it made on me. I hope that you have read all of these blogs in order so far, because if you haven’t, you may be scratching your head or a few other places, wondering how this all fits. So if you need to, go back and review the entire blogs that I have posted. If you’re up to date, come on, let’s go explore more about music and song.
There is a book in the bible called “Psalms” that has the most chapters in it of any book in the bible. I would think that tells us that music and singing are pretty important to God. And not the same old music over and over either. Some churches get caught up in singing 20-30 hymns that they are comfortable with, and everyone can sing them from memory. Here’s where a big problem lies. The words become just that. Words. People sing them as they always have, without any enthusiasm, just hoping that the song leader will skip one of the verses. My grandfather used to tell me, “Boy, be glad you are not the third verse in a song, because most churches will skip right over you!” Sadly in our Baptist church where I was raised, this was the truth. Never figured that one out. People just wanted to sing and get it over with. Problem being, I don’t think God ever heard a word we sang. Why should He? We were bored with it, so you know He wasn’t too thrilled either.
God wants us to sing praises to Him. (see earlier blog for background). We should lift up our voices as though it was God standing in the pulpit, telling Him in our sincere voices how much we love Him, honor Him and glorify Him. It doesn’t matter if the only way you can sing on key is to stand on the set of keys that you brought with you. God listens to your heart. He listens to how you sing. Do you mean it? Are you serious in the words that are spilling forth?
I love Praise and Worship music. I also love some of the old hymns, except for one “Give me that old time religion” ([that’s the problem, some people only have religion] another blog, or maybe this one later on). I had a person tell me when I started out leading music in church that the only songs we should sing were from the Hymnal. Anything else couldn’t be from God. I opened up the bible, turned to Psalms, and told him, “If you only want songs that we know are ordained by God, I don’t think you’ll find any of those in your hymnal listed here.” He never brought that one up again. Maybe that is one thing I like about P&W. Most are Psalms that are put to music. We don’t know what music was used in the singing of the Psalms originally. And it doesn’t matter. What matters are the words! So SING! If the others around you don’t like it, bring them earplugs next Sunday. They’re cheap! Pour your heart out with a melody, or harmony, or whatever flies out between the lips.
We’ve looked at what it takes to worship, and how we can do it in our churches and our lives today. Will it be awkward at first? Probably. Will others possibly stare at you? Probably. But are you there to worship them, or are you there to worship God? If you’re there to worship God, it won’t matter what the others think. You won’t even realize anyone else is around you.
Start to worship! Start to praise! Start to pray! Let’s get back to Christianity, instead of just having church. Let’s have Christ. Let’s have ourselves be Christ like.
One thing I want to take a minute and say before I continue. Do you know the God that I have talked about? Have you ever asked God to forgive you of your sins? Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins? If not, a lot of what you have read is probably foreign to you right now. But if you feel something inside of you, tugging on you, maybe even making your tummy draw up in knots, it’s the Holy Spirit telling you it’s time. Quit trying to live life on your own. You’ve got someone who can guide you, protect you, comfort you, and give you a reason to live, not just in this world, but in the next one to come in Heaven! Do you want this for your life?
Say this prayer: (and mean what you say!)
God, I understand that I am a sinner. I want to have You in my life. I thank You for sending your only Son to die for me on the cross. I want to surrender my life to you. Please come into my life, forgive my sins, and make me a new person. I love you Lord, and I promise to praise your name forever. Amen
There. You did it. Is this the first time that you have ever prayed this? If so, you are now a Christian. See, not a church member. Church membership doesn’t have anything to do with being a Christian. As a matter of a fact, a lot of church members will never even see the Kingdom of Heaven. They have to be saved, just like what you did. Now, find a church where you can learn more about God. Make sure that it is a Christian church. Denominational or not, that is your choice. Find one where you are comfortable worshipping. There are a lot of styles out there, so keep searching until you are where you are supposed to be. And ask God to guide you to the church where you belong! That will be your first step towards learning to work with God, and not against Him. (trust me, you’ll get more accomplished.)
If I can ever be of help in any way, please feel free to contact me @ and I will be glad to answer any of your questions, or help guide you in your journey.
God bless and until the next blog, Shalom!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Have a little talk

When I’m praying, it can happen one of two ways:
(1)     Have a little talk with Jesus. I suppose some people think that I may be crazy when they ride down the road and observe that I’m the only one in the car, the radio is off, yet I’m steadily talking to someone, and it doesn’t appear as though I have Bluetooth setup. During these times, I’m having my talks with Jesus. I put Him in the seat beside me and I talk. I spill my guts. I question things, ask for guidance, and sometimes just sit and meditate, waiting on His reply. And by the way, you don’t have to always be asking. You can spend some time thanking Him too. You’re alive. If you’re reading this, you’re in good shape.
(wow, you really are looney tunes!) Nope, and I’m not going around “hearing voices.”I do open my heart and my mind, and I do have thoughts come into my head that could only have come from Him. The revelations are too divine to be from someone else. Some would say that it’s my brain working through things and then coming up with a solution. I don’t think so. Sometimes, possibly, but not all the time. Thoughts are given to me and I see them as prophesies upon my life and things that are happening around me.
A lot of times this is easier for me to do than to just sit, close my eyes and pour my heart out. Which brings me to the next avenue:
(2)     Praying in a worship service in front of others. Sometimes out loud and others are joined silently. Sometimes privately while other around me worship in their own style. You have to be careful not to try to “fake” your way around a prayer. The Pharisees had that part down pat. Luke 18 9-14 tells how God honors prayer. And when you pray, believe what you pray for. I recently prayed over a fellow brethren whose father had been diagnosed with cancer. Within a week he was pronounced cancer free. BELIEVE! Don’t be so dad burned shocked when your prayers come true. Just thank God, and know that next time you pray in earnest, and believe in what you’re praying, God will honor that request. Don’t be stupid and ask God for a million dollars, then go sit on your be-hunk-us and do nothing. He doesn’t want to hear that crap. But ask for things that are what your heart truly wants. Your spouse/bf/gf/bff that is unsaved, and needs to find Jesus. The money that just isn’t there to pay the bills, or buy the groceries. The job that you are seeking. The school where you are attending. These are the things that should be dearest to your heart, though not the only ones. That list would be rather lengthy, and only you know what all you truly desire. Then prepare yourself in song. We’ll look at that in the next blog.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Put Your Actions Where Your Bible Is!

Hmmm ... I know what you're saying right about now:
"Okay. Whew. Dude. That was a lot to take in during those last few blogs, wasn’t it?"
So how do we use this knowledge today? The happenings that are mentioned in the previous few posts are not just for “back then.” They are for “here and now.”Problem is, most of us are too self-conscious to let ourselves truly worship in front of others. There are many things that need to happen in our worship. NO, they do not have to happen at the same time. But they should be an integral part of our worship efforts on a regular basis.
(1) Block out all that is around us and surrender to Him
(2) Prayer
(3) Singing/Playing of Instruments
We’ll look at these in depth in the next few blogs.
SURRENDER! Makes you think about the times when you’re watching a movie and the cops have the bad guys cornered. What’s the usual line? “We have you surrounded. Come out with your hands up and surrender.”
Did you know that God has you surrounded? His Holy Spirit is everywhere, along with angels. Satan will try to poke his pitiful crowd in the midst somewhere, but he is too small (only 1/3 of Heaven followed him, so for every demon, there are 2 angels) to do anything unless you let him.
So when you walk into a church service, know that you are surrounded there too. You’re in His house. So of course He’ll be there too. Satan will often times show up and see if he can yank anyone out, but when the Spirit fills the whole place, it’s all over but the shouting. (so to speak).
Try this next time you’re in church. There is usually something that is done at the opening of the service that requires you to stand. Opening Hymn, prayer time, whatever, it doesn’t matter. There is no real order of service that is better than one or the other.
Start out by surrendering. You say, “How do I do that?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Go back to what I mentioned earlier about the cops and bad guys. When the bad guy decides to come out and save their hides, what do you always see them doing? They have their hands raised, with the palms pointed toward the person that they are surrendering to. It is a sign to show that they are not hiding anything, and that they have no other weapons. Try to do the same. Raise your hands. You can keep your eyes open or shut, but try to focus toward Heaven, and tell God that you surrender. All of the junk that you walked into the church with. The bills, the kids and their unruliness, your spouse and their tardiness/nagging, everything. Say, “Okay God, this is all yours. I’m not going to try to deal with this in my own mind. I need you to use your mind and show me what is best to do.” Ask God for forgiveness. Yes, all of the other people may have done you wrong, but you’re not perfect either! Then pray. This is the next hardest part for most people. More on this in the next blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Worshipping in Spirit

We are called to worship in spirit and in truth.  Worshiping in spirit is based on the nature of God.  Since God is spirit, His worshipers must worship in spirit.  As spirit, God is not confined to a particular location, such as a church building or temple.  The place where true worship occurs is in the heart of man.
Matthew 15:8-9/Isaiah 29:13
1 Samuel 16:7
          …God sees not as mans sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Kings 8:39
          …for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men, that they may fear You…
Jeremiah 17:9-10
          "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?  I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”
Proverbs 15:11
          Sheol and Abbadon lie open before the LORD, how much more the hearts of men?
Psalms 44:20-21
          If we had forgotten the name of our God, or extended our hands to a strange god;
Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.

Worship of the heart and spirit is contrasted with “formal worship”, with its emphasis being on the outward forms of worship without the heart of worship.
Genesis 4- Cain and Abel’s sacrifices
Isaiah 1:11-16
          "What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, And the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats.  When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?  Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.  I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them.  So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.  Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,”
Luke 11:39-44
          But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.  You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?  But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.  But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.  Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the front seats in the synagogues, and the respectful greetings in the market places.  Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it."

Formal worship ought to express our hearts response to the character of God.  The forms of worship are not intended to make us look good or feel good.  They are intended to express our hearts as we honor the Lord.  All our singing, clapping, raising our hands, bowing our heads, praying, and sharing are empty and worthless to God unless our hearts are worshiping Him.
Don’t let our worship be a nuisance to God because of our arrogant “going through the motions” of formal worship.  Spend time to reflect and meditate on His revelations of Himself and His works.  When God reveals more of who He is or what He has done for you don’t hold back!!  Proclaim His worthiness to Him and honor Him with your worship from you heart.  Wherever you are you can worship Him in spirit.  So do it!!