Wednesday, June 13, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 164

1 Corinthians 12:26 says this about the body of Christ: "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." I saw this in action the last couples days. We have had a man who was homeless come into the church and our people rallied around him to get him on his feet. We had a kid without transportation who is headed to Bible college and 3 of our men bought him a bike. The other day one of our guys (who is my age) completed his GED and our whole small group called one by one to congratulate him. That sort of thing shouldn't be strange in Christ's church...that's just how we operate as the body.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Psalm 1-8

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 163

We're connected. We may not like that but it's true. It's very common for people to say, "I don't need the church to be a Christian." That's an exercise in missing the point. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you ARE the church. And being counted among those who belong to Christ's church should at least be an honor for Christians! We'd expect our critics to run down the church, but not the Christians! Being part of the church is something that the Father has given to those who receive his Son Jesus. It's our blessing. It's our privilege. It's our strength and our joy. It's not always easy I suppose and not always fun...but we are the church.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 38-42

Monday, June 11, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 162

Some days don't just don't go very well. Yesterday was one of those days.(At least it started that way.) There have been times in my life that a bad day turned into a bad week. That seems a bit over dramatic to me in retrospect. There are times when I've wanted to quit my job because of a bad day...not quit ministry just go to one of those "problem free churches". (I know they're out there somewhere!) Bad days come. But bad days also go. Today I awoke and the birds were singing, the sun was shining, and I got to ride a 50cc scooter to work. Vroom. Vroom. Today's is a good day, yesterday is behind. "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." (2 Cor 1:3)

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 35-37

Sunday, June 10, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 161

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
C. S. Lewis

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 32-34

Saturday, June 9, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 160

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 "Young people,it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless."

At least 10 seniors in our church are graduating this weekend. We've know it was coming for years...after all you don't go to school forever. But I've watched from the outside, while their parents watching more closely, seeing them march slowly toward the magical age of adulthood. Most of them can drive cars, many have jobs, and most are making plans for some type of college education. Some will stake their independence and never move home again. Others will have a delayed departure and still others may decide that home suites them just fine. Some will become the quiet workers behind the scenes and some people of influence. Some will go on to hold many degrees, some will have money, some will not. They'll have families of their own and watch their kids slowly grow and make their own way. And so life goes on. My prayer and my hope is that Jesus is the foundation of their life. I pray that the values their parents have taught them, the testimony of Christ's church has given, the power of the Scripture they've learned, and the presence of God's Spirit will sustain them. I pray that they will walk in faith, and lead others in faith. That they legacy of their faith has just begun. Congratulations seniors...go walk with Jesus!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 28-31

Friday, June 8, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 159

I heard a teaching some time last year on the subject of "rest." Rest is a principle that is deeply rooted in God's people and God's word but is conspicuously absent from American Christianity. The teaching about the Sabbath is about rest. Heaven is described as "God's rest". When people died in the OT they were "rested" with their fathers. So why don't we talk about rest? Probably because we stink at it. Probably because resting sounds lazy to our hyperactive American minds. Probably because believing in rest would require us to cut out softball, X-box, rotary club, golfing, the annual whatever meetings of the whatever club, and step off at least one committee at church. Rest sounds like some exotic foreign language to us.

Here's a couple of quick thoughts to chew on regarding rest...really roll these around:
1. Rest is healthy. Can any psychologist, philosopher, physician, scientist, or politician disagree? Really?
2. Rest is a gift from God. Jesus taught that the Sabbath was for man, and not man for the Sabbath. That means the rest wasn't one more thing to enslave people, but a gift for their benefit.
3. You don't need to earn a gift. It's a gift. You don't have to justify, rationalize, explain, or earn your rest.

Listen to the things people say about rest..."I'm taking some time off I worked a million hours last week." They don't want people to think they're lazy or unproductive so they have to demonstrate that they are deserving of rest. They feel some kind of irrational guilt about taking time off. Why not simply say, "I'm going to take some time off to rest." If you need rationale for that rest see points 1 and 2! Now go rest.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 24-27

Thursday, June 7, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 158

Feeling very thankful today that I grew up in a home with my dad. Thanks dad.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 21-23

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 157

If you've ever read the book of Job you know that it has a tendency to drag on a bit. Don't get me wrong, it's a great book of the Old Testament. But it's a story that is filled with despair until you reach the end. The thing I like about Job is that it has a couple of very famous lines. Today I was reading about how bad Job's life is, how bad is friends were treating him and then he says this, "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last." (Job 19:29) That line has such power! Whatever trouble assails us we can know one thing for certain...our Redeemer lives.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 17-20

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 156

“To follow Jesus implies that we enter into a way of life that is given character and shape and direction by the one who calls us. To follow Jesus means picking up rhythms and ways of doing things that are often unsaid but always derivative from Jesus, formed by the influence of Jesus. To follow Jesus means that we can't separate what Jesus is saying from what Jesus is doing and the way that he is doing it. To follow Jesus is as much, or maybe even more, about feet as it is about ears and eyes" (The Way of Jesus, Eugene H. Peterson, 22).”
― Eugene H. Peterson

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 14-16

Monday, June 4, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 155

I've been reading a book called "Practice Resurrection." It's by Eugene Peterson and I have to say it's been powerful so far. The books is looking at the letter to the Ephesians and one section focuses on Ephesians 4:1. "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."(NAS) Peterson explains that Paul is conjuring up the image of a scale. The word "worthy" is the Greek word axios which probably reminds you of our English word axis. If you picture a scale with an axis in the middle you can pick up on Paul's illustration. Our "calling" hangs on side and on the other side is our "walk". Someone who is called by Christ but not walking with Christ is being "unworthy"...they are out of balance. Trying to walk the path of Christ without the calling of Christ is also out of balance. When we recognize what our calling is (not our individual calling but general Christian calling)and we walk the walk...we are in balance. Axios.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 11-13

Sunday, June 3, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 154

The church is one wild and wacky group of people. The church includes kings and paupers, punks and rockers. We've got tortured souls and people stuck on permanent grin. There are people working through serious issues and people testifying about those issues from the victor's corner. We've got baby Christians who are so excited and the pillars of the faith...who sometimes crack a smile. We've got workers, thinkers, speakers, leaders, visionaries, helpers, and even those darn administrators (like me). We've got scholars, and brawlers, and radical reformers. We've got the frozen chosen and the charismaniacs, and people in between. We have people who won't listen and people who won't speak up. We've got people who are passionate and people who are passive. We have scientists, toddlers, accountants, cross-fit instructors, teachers, lawyers, farmers, and Wal-Mart employees. Did I mention that the church is on wild and wacky group of people? And yet God in his infinite wisdom calls these people his own. He has seen to it that we all come to him on the same terms; through faith in Jesus Christ. He was assembled this ragtag group of people to be his representatives on earth on his companions for all eternity. He has gifted some to be mighty leaders and even those people that seem superfluous are of great importance. The church has brought me some of my greatest moments of joy, and caused me some pain at times. It's given me my greatest friends, and the church even brought forth my lovely wife. The church has been there for me when I've been down, and it's rejoiced with me when I've rejoiced. I want to say this Sunday morning...unashamedly...I love Christ's church.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 9-10

Saturday, June 2, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 153

Today I gathered with some church friends to celebrate the high school graduation of one their kids. There was food, laughter, stories, and the easiness that comes from being with like-minded people. If we ran an old-fashioned church newsletter it would read, "a good time was had by all." I was thinking that heaven will be much like our gathering today...only much better. We see little glimpses of what lies ahead in our day to day existence. If we bother to look up, look around, and soak in what's happening...we'll see God's handiwork everywhere. But more than his handiwork. I meet many people of faith who attribute the slightest little things to the activity of God. It's not that I doubt his work in their life...but did God really lend the powers of heaven so that you could have a double coupon? I'd like to suggest that not only do we see God's handiwork in our ordinary lives, but we see God's promises. We see glimpses of what is to come in the simplest of activities...even a BBQ. Keep your eyes open and have a quiet receptive'll hear what I mean.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 5-8

Friday, June 1, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 152

Psalm 54
1 Come with great power, O God, and rescue me!
Defend me with your might.
2 Listen to my prayer, O God.
Pay attention to my plea.
3 For strangers are attacking me;
violent people are trying to kill me.
They care nothing for God. Interlude
4 But God is my helper.
The Lord keeps me alive!
5 May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them.
Do as you promised and put an end to them.
6 I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you;
I will praise your name, O Lord,
for it is good.
7 For you have rescued me from my troubles
and helped me to triumph over my enemies.