Offended?

It seems that a great amount of our news consists of some group or nationality that has been offended. The PC police are working over time. In just about every area of our society we have to walk on “egg shells” to keep from offending someone.

  • A restaurant in Vermont offended a Muslim women by posting a sign saying they served bacon. She complained and the sign was removed. Inquisitor 
  • Many people in this country were shocked when the U.S. Navy recently announced the removal of all Bibles from military hotels under their control. This was in response to pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a well-known atheist group. National Review

While the church is being so careful not to offend anyone, they forget that truth by its very nature will offend some people. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12  Sounds like it just might offend someone, doesn’t it?

Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth no matter who it offended. Matthew 15:12

But this does not justify any Christ-follower from being hateful or rude. The Bible says when we speak the truth it should always be in love. Ephesians 4:15 So when you share the Good News (in love) and they are offended; don’t take it personal. It is the Word convicting them.

 

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Under New Management

newWe have all driven by signs that announced a restaurant or business was now  “Under New Management.” I would imagine that the logic behind these signs is to convince the public that there has been significant, positive changes in the business. The word “management”  conveys the idea of ownership and control.

You are probably wondering where I am going with this idea. I was was thinking today that many Christ-followers know the joy of having their sins forgiven but they have not given control of their lives to Christ. When you ask Christ into your life, you are also asking Him to take control. Your life should be “Under New Management.”  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  2 Cor. 5:17  Romans 10:9-10

The late Adrian Rogers said, “What is the difference between commitment and surrender?  When you make a commitment, you are still in control, no matter how noble the thing you commit to. One can commit to pray, to study the Bible, to give his money, or to commit to automobile payments, or to lose weight. Whatever he chooses to do, he commits to.

But surrender is different. If someone holds a gun and asks you to lift your hands in the air as a token of surrender, you don’t tell that person what you are committed to. You simply surrender and do as you are told… Americans love commitment because they are still in control. “

But the key word is surrender. We are to be slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Equal But Different

I am not an expert marriage counselor though I have done my share being a pastor for thirty-plus years. One thing I have observed in many couples is that they do not understand the difference between men and women. I like to tell them they are “wired differently.” That is to say, that men think differently, their emotions are different, and they behave differently.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ alleviated the position of womanhood. No longer were they a man’s possession. Spiritually speaking, men and women are equal. Galatians 3:28  But equality does not mean sameness. So, remember men, remember ladies, were are equal but we are not the same. Via la difference. 

The Theology of Happiness.

If you would stop the average person on the street and ask them what they want out of life; I believe 99% would answer, I want to be happy. I want my family to be happy!” People are desperately searching for happiness and that has carried over to their relationship with God. Consciously or unconsciously, they believe that God’s main task is to make sure they are happy! If I become unhappy, then God isn’t doing His job.  

But the problem is nowhere in the Bible does it say that our goal in life is to be happy. Nor does it obligate God to see that we are happy. While that is true there is a way to find happiness and it does involve God, our Father. God created us to find our fulfillment in a relationship with Him. But when we reverse that relationship and make ourselves the center, we can only expect unhappiness.    

Psalm 37:4 says, “ Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart..”  I like this translation,  “Do what the Lord wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire.” If you only want what God wants, you will be happy. 

“My” Kingdom Come

Let me say up front, this blog is not a criticism of pastors but rather an observation. I have been a pastor for 30+ years, so I think I have some credibility about the subject. If you are a pastor reading this blog, please read with an open mind.

Observation #1: Pastors are under tremendous pressure to succeed. The pressure may come from others or from themselves. The problem is how we (and pastors) define success. When two pastors meet each other, inevitably they will ask THE question. How was your Sunday? Ninety-nine percent of pastors will reply, “We had 126 (or some other number) for morning worship.” Success to them (and others) is based on attendance, Jesus was never impressed by the size of the crowds. Often Jesus would leave the multitudes to minister to a single individual. 

Observation # 2: Pastors need to refocus.  By that I mean, Pastors need to take a serious look at the motivation of their ministry.  Jesus never intended pastors to  gather a large following. A pastor’s goal should be to have a healthy church. Making and maturing true disciples of Christ. Matthew 28:19

Observation # 3 Pastors should not be in competition with each other. Sometimes people choose to change churches and pastors take it personal. (Pastors should never intentionally try influence people from leaving their church to join theirs.) Pastor, we are all in this together. We are all on the same side! The important thing is they are in HIS kingdom! “”Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Mark 9:38

Observation # 4 Pastor need to remember whose Kingdom they are building.  Jesus once said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He said He would build HIS church. We need pastors (and congregations) that are Kingdom focused. It is His church and His Kingdom. 

 

When I Grow Up…

I remember hearing about an elementary teacher who had asked her class that age old question; “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Each student came to the front of the class and gave the standard answers – ” I want to be a nurse… A policeman… jet pilot…  famous athlete.

Every student had shared their dream; all except Billy. The teacher hesitated on calling Billy because he was not your typical student. He was often loud and disruptive . Reluctantly she had Billy go to the front to share his ambition.

Billy shocked everyone when he said, “When I grow up,   I want to lead a blind man.” You could have heard a pin drop. After all, who wants to grow up and serve others? I’ve never heard anyone say their life’s goal was serving others. And yet that is exactly why Jesus Christ came.  Matthew 20:28 says that Jesus did not come to be served but rather He came to serve others. The Bible tells us that we are to “…. grow up in Him (Jesus). Since Jesus was the greatest servant and since we are to be like Him; then it stands to reason that we should strive to serve others.

People spend their entire lives climbing the ladder of success, only to find it is leaning on the wrong wall. We strive for the corner office. We want the prestigious parking place, and the key to the executive restroom. Always searching for significance.


“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” — Albert Schweitzer.   

Sippin’ Saints (?)

social drinking.jpg (270×270)For years, well-meaning, sincere Christians have debated the subject of drinking. Let me be clear by saying there isn’t a single verse in the Bible that says a Christian cannot have a drink; although the Bible clearly warns about the destructive and addictive nature of alcohol (Proverbs 20:121:1723:29-35Ephesians 5:18) and is very clear that drunkenness is always wrong (Romans 13:13Galatians 5:19-211 Peter 4:3Habakkuk 2:151 Corinthians 5:11).

Allow me to share some thoughts that you may not have considered. 

  1. No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, ‘I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!’ no one says, ‘It is my ambition that someday I want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.’ yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived.
  2. Often, what you do in moderation, your children will do in excess.  A careful reading of the Old Testament shows that the children of the kings of Israel often sinned greater than their fathers.
  3. I know that my abstaining from alcohol will not have any economic impact on the alcohol industry but that is not the issue. The issue is that I will personally (and so will you) give an account to God for my stewardship. Romans 14:12 I do not want a part in supporting an industry to destroys lives.
  4. I have yet to hear from anyone who drinks how alcohol enhances anything or blesses anyone. Max Lucado said, “One thing for sure, I have never heard anyone say, ‘A beer makes me feel more Christlike . . . Fact of the matter is this: People don’t associate beer with Christian behavior.” ’ve yet to see how it improves someone’s testimony or makes anyone a more effective witness for Christ.  1 Cor. 10:31
  5. Alcohol destroys your body. We are accountable to God how we have treated our bodies. 1 Cor. 6:19-20

I don’t judge those who believe they have freedom in Christ to drink. But when asked, I always tell people I don’t believe it’s the best choice.

The bottom line is this: the question really isn’t CAN A CHRISTIAN DRINK? Rather, it is: SHOULD A CHRISTIAN DRINK?