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Archive for April, 2012

Vision Sunday 2012

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To get us started, let me define what I am talking about when it comes to church pride. There is nothing wrong with loving your church (far from it) but for some, it can get into an area of pride. This is especially true for pastors who can get tunneled vision on their vision. I know because I have struggled with this in the past myself.

This is not just a church leader problem though. I meet many people who seem to worship their church, their traditions, and/or their pastors. Often times, they say things that show their suspicion and concern about any other church than their own.

Then there’s another level where people can be very prideful and cut themselves off from any contact with other churches at all which is a strong problem in the area I live. That might push someone’s buttons but as the guy who owned the Christian bookstore in town and knows many in our area, this is a very true statement.

So some thoughts came to mind as I was doing my study time this morning and read this…..

(more…)

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Message on Ephesians 3: Talking about why life can be hard and what Paul has to say about it……

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The other day, I met an older gentleman and as soon as he realized I was a pastor, he shared a story with me on why he left his church that he had been gong to for decades. It seems the pastor had taken the pulpit off the stage. That’s it…… The pastor took the pulpit off the stage. Not that there was false teaching, lack of love, or hypocritical living. He was angry because a long time ago, they spent a lot of money of that pulpit and who did the pastor think he was taking it off the stage?

The pulpit was a tradition. It wasn’t Biblical, it was a tradition.

Now let me be clear, I was raised with a respect for tradition in the church. There is a beauty within tradition. However, I was also raised in churches that had a problem….they considered tradition more important than the move of the Holy Spirit and it often led to lack of love, compassion, and God doing a new thing.

When this happens, it is a sin.

Explore with me Mark 7: 1-23 with me….

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed. The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” Mark 7: 1-5

Notice how the religious people were annoyed because Jesus’ disciples were not falling in line and acting like the other rabbi’s disciples. They weren’t following the tradition of washing their hands before they ate. There was no law given from God on washing your hands before you eat (sorry, parents).

Now, there is nothing wrong with washing your hands before you eat. However, Jesus could see the religious leaders did this because they held a tradition over Godliness….. Watch what He has to say….

“He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
   but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
   their teachings are but rules taught by men.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.””

Wow! I thought I was being clear on the topic. It seems like Jesus is more passionate than I am on the topic!

When people hold onto tradition over the move of the Holy Spirit, it is hypocritical, dishonoring to God, worship in vain, and moves their hearts far from God as they hold onto rules taught by men instead of leaning into God.

Now, let me take a break and remind you, I was raised with a healthy respect for traditions. They can be a tool to move us closer to God. However, if we hold them too tightly, they can be a wall that blocks God. This may be the way a church is governed, rules within the sanctuary, a system that tells us who we help and don’t help… it could be many things so we must be careful.

After Jesus explores this, he moves into an example with them and shares with the crowd around Him. He shares a new teaching that shows that all food is now clean to eat. He taught that things going into the body do not make someone unclean but the things that come out of the heart…… lust, theft, murder, slander and more.

Those who were open to this new thing of God, enjoyed the freedom that came with it. However, those holding to traditions were left in bondage to an old way. Which would you rather be?

 

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5K for Kenya

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One of the Spiritual disciplines we talk about the most is spending time in the Word; reading the Bible, listening to messages, and daily study. We also talk often about how hard it can be to fit time in for this as well as just forgetting.

Well, I was reading a section today that speaks into this. In this section of Mark, Jesus has been teaching through parables as the crowds continued to come to Him. It says….

“He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4: 21-23

What is Jesus saying?

The lamp is God’s truth. It is the light to the world. Today, in the church age, we have the Bible which brings us the light. It is the lamp and a beautiful gift from a relational God who wants us to know Him, His ways, and His heart.

Now, what do we do with it? Do we place this gift under a bowl or bed? Do we squash and hide the light and not partake of it? That would be insane, wouldn’t it? But isn’t that what many of us do as we claim we are too busy or too overwhelmed in the darkness to partake of some much needed light?

No, what should we do with the lamp? We put it on “it’s” stand! We place it in it’s proper place! In the open, raised up, and allowing it shine into our lives and the lives around us!

Why? He states that what we do not know yet is meant to be know! God wants to be known! He wants his Truth to be known!  He wants others to see the Word through you and shining in the world!

On top of this, He wants us to hear what He is saying and not just let it pass….. “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Mark 4: 24-25

We take the Word for granted but Jesus warns us not to do so. Those who partake of His truth, will receive from the Word even more than what they put into it. However, if you neglect the Word, the truths, hope, and encouragement from it will be lost to you.

Are you in the Word? Is your church in the Word? I pray you partake from it so you may be full!

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