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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don't Fear the Future

For all of you who want to hear the sermon I preached this past week on Fearless Faith:

Go to itunes.
Search: "Fearless Faith: Future" (no quotes)
It should pop up and you can either download or listen to it.

Thanks for listening,


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Seven Things to Remember When You Believe You Have Been Hurt by the Church

People are sometimes hurt by people in their churches. Many times they identified this hurt with the church rather than with the people who hurt them. Today, they lash out on Facebook or write blogs decrying the evil of the church. Unfortunately, other people copy these blogs and Facebook posts so that the message of a hurtful church travels around the globe. It hurts the church, the message of the gospel and those who are giving their all to bring people to Christ.

So, here are a few things for those who have been hurt to remember before they lash out.

The church didn't hurt you. It was a few people within the church.

Most of the people in church are loving, giving and seeking to walk with the Lord. They are unable to control the actions of those who are hateful, self-centered and judging. I have never been in a church that had more than a very few "trouble makers." They were loud and demanding but they didn't represent the church. They come to church because no one else will let them have their way. No one else will love them with their present attitude. Yes, the church would be better off without them so they gravitate to churches who are more loving and forgiving. The church accepts them just as they are.

Many of the hateful people in a church do not know the Lord.

It is easier to join a church than to be a member of the Country Club. The Country Club will demand dues and would not put up with the hateful actions of many. People learn the Christian lingo and become church members. They are baptized without any faith in Christ. They attend for social reasons and can spout enough of the "God bless you's" that the church accepts them into their fellowship. Anyone who examines them finds sexual immorality, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissections, envy, drunkenness, etc. These are all the fruit of the flesh. These are all evidence of someone who is far from the Lord or doesn't know Him at all. Unfortunately, every church probably has some of these people.

Most churches are doing their best to reach people with the gospel.

That means they are trying new things which may step on the traditions of some. The church is the only organization that I know of that also exists for those who have never entered the building. The pastor is probably reading what others are doing to grow their churches and is trying out as many of the ideas as he can. He has no intention of hurting anyone. He has no intention of allowing you to be hurt either. Maybe his best was not good enough for you but it was still his best.

The church is the Bride of Christ no matter what has happened to you.

The church is not a civic organization, a club or a shop. The church isn't even a group of people whose main aim is to make you happy. The church should be a fellowship of believers who are being prepared for Christ's return. I know that I don't like people criticizing my bride to others. I can't believe that Jesus likes it either.

Maybe you actually deserved what you got.

I know this is rough but think of it this way: I can't tell you how many times that I have broken the law while driving. I have rolled through stop signs, turned right on red without actually stopping, failed to look both ways before crossing an intersection and pushed the speed limit with all the other motorists. One night I was pulled over by an officer who noticed that my rear lights weren't burning. I had performed a funeral that day and no one told me that my lights were out. He gave me a ticket.

The next day I took my car to the shop to have it fixed. They discovered a short in the light switch. The lights were working some of the time. However, I still had a ticket (not a warning ticket). In this instance I didn't believe that the ticket was justified. However, I thought of all the times when a ticket was justified and decided that I deserved it.

God is using this experience to do something greater in your life.

I though of David when he was being cursed by Shimei.

2 Samuel 16:10-11 (ESV)
10  But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11  And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.

Could it be that the Lord is doing something in your life that couldn't have been accomplished otherwise. It may be something as simple as being humbled. It doesn't make what has happened to you good but it may be that God is about to do something magnificent if you will refrain from lashing out and put things in his hands.

God could be using your loving reaction to work in the life of the one who hurt you.

Maybe God needs to work on those who hurt you. Attacking them only justifies their actions. It often gets in the way of what He wants to do. God is always just but His justice is not always seen on this earth. He loves you and will demand justice for everything that has been done to hurt you. He doesn't expect us to live unscathed by the actions of the world. He expects us to walk with Him through all these things. The world cannot deny the testimony of a Christian who remains loving when faced with evil. Love changes the hateful. 

So, please refrain from lashing out at the church when you have been hurt. Instead, put your trust in Him who will relieve all hurt someday.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What Are You Hoping For?

Those who are trying to adjust themselves to the morality of the world are riding on a roller coaster. People are afraid of offending just about everyone but the Christians. New words are used to describe sinfulness. New justifications are made for it. It is approved, adopted and made a part of the mainstream. You must be an intolerant person if you don't join in. In fact, you must be a hater of all that is really good as approved by the politically correct police.

So, I ask the question: What is the world really hoping for?

The world is hoping for all heaven and no hell.

Many of the people in the world don't want to believe there are any consequences for anything that is done unless you are a murderer. (Somehow I think murderers will make an appeal to being made that way and get away with it someday.) One tv show actor said that death was like you were before you were born. He exclaimed, "And that wasn't so bad, was it?" He is saying that the non-existence we supposedly had before birth is the same for us when we die. That is refusing to believe in anything after this life. Of course, that ignores any judgement but doesn't explain any problems with our own consciences when we do evil.

The culture we live in wants to believe that there is a heaven and that everyone will go there. "Everyone is good," they say. They say it over and over. I wonder if they read the news. There are some genuinely bad people in the world. How do they miss that? Are these "bad" people going to their heaven too?

Of course, having a standard for heaven or hell means there must be a judge who determines what that standard is and enforces it. Maybe the world should think about that

The world is hoping that there is never again another Christian revival.

We all know what that means. It means that a majority of people would repent and stop doing things which the Bible has declared as evil. The world has convinced the Christians that we are only making mistakes when we sin. No sin is called sin anymore. We say that we made a mistake when we stole the money from the bank. We made a mistake when we lied, committed adultery, murdered or said something hurtful to another person. I guess we made a mistake when we failed to love and forgive others too. Sin has been removed from the Christian language because the world does not want to be reminded that walking with God requires holiness.

A revival among Christians would startle the rest of the world. It would show them that Christ changes people and is relevant in the world today. It would bring light into our society and reveal these "mistakes" as sins against God. It would force people to change their definitions of what is real.

The world is hoping that Jesus never returns.

What would happen if Jesus returned today? Believers would eject from the world. Others might wonder what happened to them Many people might already know. They would be left behind without the ability to leave immediately. 

It isn't only the world who hopes Jesus never returns. Many believers have fallen so in love with this world that they don't want Jesus coming back anytime soon. They still have money in the bank, things to buy and places to go. They have things they want to do more than they want to see Jesus face to face.

But Jesus return would certainly be a show stopper. The world would have to question if it needed a course correction. It would have to question what it was calling moral and immoral. It would have to question judgement and eternity. The world is making no plans for any of these. They are hoping that the stories of Jesus are fictitious. 

Hebrews 9:27-28 (ESV)
27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

By the way, I am praying for revival and hoping for Jesus to return today. What are you hoping for? 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fearless Faith:Failure

Many people because they never try. This message is intended to encourage people to do and therefore be what God has intended them to be. The find purpose and fulfillment when walking with God through impossible challenges.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fearless Faith: Finances

God does not want you to have fear and anxiety over your finances. The Bible gives us seven principles to help alleviate this problem. This message is for you if you have too much month left over at the end of your money

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Can a Faithless Society Produce Virtue?

Let me define virtue before I actually start this blog. Virtue is simply moral excellence. A truly virtuous person has a moral quality that is consistent even if no one is looking.

I'll admit that people who claim faith do not have much over on those who claim no faith. You can't deny that pastors have affairs, steal from their churches and are often found wanting for morality. It is here that we must make a distinction though. The problem is not in the faith but in the individual. No one who fails to live what he says he believes is living in faith. This is a common reason for people to stop going to church. They had hoped to find a virtuous people and found people a little worse than the people at a local bar.

However, I have seen people completely changed by their faith. I have seen people who have gone to prison become some of the most loving, carefully moral people I have ever met. One such person was Chuck Colson. I had the opportunity to sit down with this man almost twenty years ago and never met a more humble, caring and virtuous man. I only know what his reputation was before Watergate. I am sure I wouldn't have wanted to meet him then.

So, what changed him? True faith. He honestly identified with Jesus in such a way that he started becoming like Jesus. This is what true faith is all about. It isn't being perfect but continually walking with and toward Jesus. True faith changes people.

What changes people apart from faith? I know some reasonably virtuous people who have told me that they do not subscribe to any faith. They are friendly and good people. I genuinely think they aren't trying to fake me out with their words or observable acts. However, as I talked with them, they were influenced by people of faith. One told me he grew up going to a Christian school. Another minored in Bible in college. You can't simply say that they were void of faith all of their lives. Formative years were spent around people of faith and that influenced who they became.

So, in order to answer the question we must go to a people who have no faith influence to find those who are virtuous. I don't know that you will find those people. There is faith in everyone even if that faith is found in humanity itself.

However, if I change my search from trying to find virtuous people who have not been influenced by faith to the non-virtuous people who exist in society I find a plethora of subjects to discuss. Today I read that a man shot his neighbor and ran over her with her own lawnmower because she was mowing at 9:00 PM. There was no virtue in this man to stop his anger. He killed the lady and now faces prosecution. He appears to have lacked any morality. Can I blame this on living without any faith? No, the individual may have been around the same amount of faith as those whom I mentioned earlier but failed to take it in. Individual cases can neither prove nor disprove  whether or not faith produced virtue.

Therefore, I must look at society as a whole. There was a time when a large portion of the American populous went to church. The people never locked their houses and frequently left their keys in their cars. Neighbors knew each other because they went to church together and were involved in their communities to improve those communities. It was understood that forgiveness was something each person needed and many forgave rather than sought revenge when they felt wronged.

Honestly, our society has not gotten better because we have removed ourselves from faith. Each night we watch tv with ads coming from angry lawyers claiming they will "get the money you deserve" because others have hurt us physically. We live in fear of being sued or attacked on the streets because we may have not seen the car we almost hit. Anger rules those streets.

I believe that faith is necessary for creating a virtuous society though I realize that there are individuals who will be virtuous who personally have no faith. Faith changes people when it is true faith. I know that my relationship with Jesus has changed me. I hope that I will live a life pleasing to my Lord. I want to be morally excellent even when no one is watching.

However, I am a work in progress but isn't that what change is?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)
9  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.