Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Sermon...

Sermon ugh! thats not the best word to use. It has connections to Sunday's spent being bored to death by young men who didn't know what to say or old men who didn't know how to get my attention.
God I hope I'm neither of those.
Well I'm quite sure I may well be one of those to someone, someday.
I prefer to use the word message. It has a better emphasis. It gives me peace that I'm just giving a message, being God's messenger. The importance is on God and the message and I the messenger am merely the mouthpiece for a period of time. It puts the focus for me off myself and on to Him. So (hopefully) if I'm coming to this not trying to exalt myself and only Him then maybe others wont try to exalt me either. My ego does not need the stroking. Of course when I think of being a messenger I think of a Herald.
The first one that comes to mind is Montjoy from Henry the V.

I told you my ego didn't need any help.

But onto the message for the 10th of August which is a fortnight away and at the moment a fortnight is what I seem to need to find what God wants me to say.

I got the early seeds of the current message from listening to a podcast from the Times Square church of David Wilkerson. Yes that Dave Wilkerson who was played by Pat Boone in the movie version of "The Cross and the Switchbalde".
No I am not going to mention that Eric Estrada played Niki Cruz - bother! - I did. Lord please help me not to geek out anymore on a blog dedicated to you and not to the fact that I spent way too much time (and still do sigh!) on geeking out.

Now in this message given in the pod cast the bloke mentioned that "We don't know what God is doing." He was emphasising that we need to understand God from His point of view. We need to look past our current circumstances and look to God. We need to find out where God is leading us.

When I heard this I instantly thought of Joseph. You know Joseph and the Coat of many colours, who had all the funny dreams and whose brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph who by doing nothing but the right thing got thrown into Gaol. Joseph who ended up being raised to be second in charge of the Egyptian empire. Joseph who was able to provide for his family in abundance despite the famine in the land. Joseph who realised that even though what his brothers did they did for evil. God used it for His good purposes.

There are many stories such as these in the bible old and new testament. Ruth comes to mind, as well as Daniel. Also Paul and Silas in Gaol. But there are other ways God moves apart from saving people through circumstances manipulated by Him. Sometimes its ridiculous

In Mathew 17:24-27 we have a strange piece where Jesus runs into the officials again and deals with it in His own way. Its a real throw away part but I think there's more there than you can see straight away. It shows Jesus contempt of the religious authority its really offhand. I'd better include it here so you can all read it for yourselves.

The Temple Tax
24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax[b]?"

25"Yes, he does," he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?"

26"From others," Peter answered.

"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."

Because we are Sons we don't have to pay to use the temple. It leads to the new temple which God's Holy Spirit will live in (which is Us) and the fact that right now we don't have to pay for it.
What grabs me is that its laughable. In fact if you listen to the New Testament narration I have they have Jesus actually laugh.

Can you imagine what someone who was walking by when Peter was fishing for this one fish.
"Hey Pete whatchya Fishing for?"
"Ummm! Well the Rabi told me to catch a fish for Him" replies Peter not telling the whole story. Because its a bit stupid to be fishing for a fish which Jesus said would have money in it.
Then the line goes taught and Peter pulls the fish in. The passer bay expecting Peter to remove the hook and put the fish aside is taken by surprise when in the fishes mouth there is money.

Of course Peter is just as surprised as the passer by. I wonder if Peter got it then, He probably didn't. If your listening to Jesus and following Him, sometimes its going to seem really foolish to do what He's asked of you.
Its happened to me.
My parents packed my family up from the security of our own home (which was a year or two short for being owned by them outright) and moved our family to another part of Australia. They told me that they were following what God told them. My best friend told me not to go. I never heard what my Nanna said but I remember her crying as we left Perth in the bus. She must have thought my parents were crazy. I'm quite sure that my parents thought they were crazy. For me at the time it was a great big adventure.

Its an adventure that continues to today. At this moment I have a total of $40 or so dollars to my name. I am currently behind a month on my rent. There is money coming but its not coming as fast as I'd really like it too. However despite all of this the money is coming at the right time. Bills are being paid on time, except the rent but the Landlords knows Jesus too and is willing to trust Him and not me for the money. Is there panic? Yes I feel it from time to time. It scrambles at my emotions and tries to make me fear. The amazing thing is that there is this calm that I feel about it all too. I have a decision to make.
Do I
a) Freak out and scream and rant and rave about it all.
b) Pack up and move back in with my parents.
c) Exercise a little bit of faith and grab hold of that calm that God's Holy Spirit is providing me.

Of course its C. I have been grabbing hold of that calm for three months now. God has paid the bills and the insurance for the car on time. I don't need to worry. Jesus told us not to.
Matthew 6:31 (New American Standard Bible)
"Do not (A)worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'

32"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for (AP)your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and (AQ)all these things will be added to you.

34"So do not (AR)worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So whats the conclusion here?

Where am I getting to?

Well this is a message from God not a sermon so I guess I gotta ask God for the next bit.

I seem to be moving in the direction that leads us to not worry about our situation. That if we take our eyes off ourselves and look to Him. We find ourselves not worrying about these little concerns. We know God's track record with money. We know he wants to provide for us. I don't mean prosperity here I mean your needs. For you to be fed and clothed and housed these are concerns that He WILL provide for. He provided for Joseph, he provided for Ruth, Daniel and so many more. He WILL provide for you.

See it from His perspective. Realise you are not the center of the universe. You are not the star in your own personal sitcom. He is. Once you change your attitude and decide that He is the center of the universe. Then the universe will begin to make more sense. Things wont feel the way they felt before because you have changed your perspective.

I could go on here and I probably will when I give this message but for now I'm very happy with where I ended up. Well where He got me ending up at.


God bless.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Single Christian Man

Its my experience that as a single Christian man things aren't the easiest. There seems to be only so many single Christian women of an acceptable age. I add acceptable age because being 34 I don't think its all that cool to be considering young girls 25 and under as possible candidates. This does make it hard, the fact that I've put certain conditions on a possible partner. I have many (unsaved) men telling me the only consideration is that they be legal. However I have known of Christian men marrying women 10 to 15 years their junior (I also know of the reverse happening too).

But all of this is beside the point and has little to do with what I'd like to address. Which simply is "are you putting certain standards on what God can provide in a wife or husband?"

Are you? No really search your heart and I'd be surprised that you don't have some pre-concieved idea about looks, earning capacity, age, ethnic background, intelligence. If its not this then it may be the fact that you have a senario in your head as to how it will occour. These are notions that you've either made up or accepted from the world. Even the ones from your Parents, your friends and even your Pastor. They are false. Only God knows the how, the why and the when. If you desire marriage and all that goes with it then I suggest you look to Him.

The world tells us if it feels good, do it. God tells us differently. Paul advises that it would be better if we weren't married at all and stayed single. Paul's advice is given in 1 Cor7:7-8 and is rather confronting.
1 Corinthians 7:7-8
I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
At 22 I thought that I'd be married by now. Now at 34 I can tell you that there are things I can do for God that I could never be able to do if I had a wife and kids. Paul's advice is one that leads down the path of service.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
Being single we can give our all to God to the point where we are available at any moment to drop what we are doing and follow His lead. To be able to have time to listen and pray and study the scriptures. To grow and let Jesus be the all in all of our lives.

That is a hard challenge, give up something that we have been taught all our lives to expect. Its something thats supposed to be given to us, we are supposed to find that certain someone that Eve to my Adam. I often feel that way "Shouldn't i get this, everyone else is". Yet we all know of Spinster Aunts and Batchelor Uncles. It happens. Therefore is marriage not for all of us?
No Marriage is for all of us, just not for some in this world.
All of us who get married and those who don't will as the Bride of Christ experience a marriage of a kind not see before. Jesus is the one true groom who waits expectantly for His Bride the Church. This marriage will happen at the end of this world and the begining of the next. But we can find rest for ourselves in the fact that we are a part of His bride now.

We can find in Him the centre of our lives as one finds it in a wife or a husband. It isn't a lead role like a husband its not as a servant too. We become heirs with Him just as a wife becomes a part of the husbands family we will become a part of Jesus family, the God head.
But for now we should look to Him for direction as a wife looks to her husband. You are loved by Him, and this love isn't the Eros love that we get from a spouse. Its an AGAPE love that is deeper and stronger.

So don't be sad if you are not married. You are promised already to the true Groom. Jesus will always love you, Jesus will never forsake you. Jesus is the perfect groom. You will get none better than He.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cleaning out the Temple

Sometimes I feel like I need to do this.
Just get there on Sunday and go around knocking sense into people.
Jesus did it.
He rolled through the temple with a whip and kicked them out. All the peddlers and merchants selling their wares were abruptly sent out of the temple. They did good business in the temple. I'm quite sure there were kick backs to the priests so you got a good spot.

But all of that is merely an aside to what I'm really getting to.

Church would be so much easier without all those people in it. Then with just me and Jesus we could clean up this one horse town. I'd have no one in my face talking about crazy stuff and struggling with the fact the this person is not doing it the right way. There will be peace and I'll be able to relax and have a great time.

Of course I'm never going to do this. I know its just so stupid to do. Why do I want to get rid of everyone when the problem is that the temple I need to clean out is my own. My own understanding of God's grace is lacking. I have not accepted His peace.

The reason why other people annoy and frustrate us is because we believe they have problems that we hold ourselves. They also have other traits that are human and we see them when what we need to see is the fact that they are like us. Fallen human beings who have grabbed hold of the promise of Jesus Christ and His saving grace. They need to be loved.

Its pride that says to us. I know more than you listen to me. I know what you need to learn. Follow me and I will lead you in a deeper understanding of Jesus. You need to show love and care. You can't teach anyone if you think your better because you know a bit more. Its a fine line and you can fall into it so very easily.

If you find yourself in that situation you need to be patient and ask God what you need to learn from these people. Just because you have a bit more experience in one area doesn't mean that they are any less than you. It may be that these brothers and sisters have something you really need to learn. It also may be that Jesus is working stuff in you, so your squirming is a reaction to Him.

We are all going to heaven half a mile a day. Its a song by Johnny Cash and its just so true. No one gets to heaven any faster than anyone else. We have our walks and they are different because God made us individuals and he deals with us that way.

So when the rest of the Church are running this way and that and things look like chaos realise that they are like you. These people are loved by Christ, he died for them just like He died for you. If He loves them and can deal with them why can't you?

May His peace fill you to overflowing, always.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Preaching blues

I'm getting up this Sunday and preaching. Yep I'm giving a sermon. Its not the first time, but apart from God giving me a no brainer sermon that I know already I'm having to scratch this one out.

I do prefer it when God taps me on the shoulder and says Hey have this pot of gold and give it to everyone on Sunday. I love that. It's only happened once. The other time I've been up there I had an idea that I didn't research well enough and it didn't really fit in with the flow of worship before hand and I was feeling a bit out of place. I went and presented my findings on the armor of God (Ephesians chapter 6:10 and a bit further) but I felt it was a flop. Even after all the encouragement of the rest of the Church I still felt I was at a loss that time.

This time I want to get it right. This time I want to be prepared. So I prayed about what I should be doing, I'm sure about it. James 4:1-11. Thats a pretty hard piece. James calls the believers, murderers and adulterers. He doesn't mince words at all. He tells it as God sees it.

So I'm sitting here at my computer thinking about all of this and wondering if I'm right. Have I found what I'm supposed to be giving? This is hard stuff. Do I want to give this message?

There's a whole load of other things I could do, but God keeps on calling me back here. I can't escape it. There is no other passage of scripture that I can think about other than this one.

I think about my style up there which sort of like rabbit in the headlights at times. My hands shake cause I'm nervous and then I loose my place in my notes and I have to pause for a while and collect myself. I try and rehearse a few bit of it on my walks with the dog and that seems to work a bit. So I'm getting more comfortable with it. Yet I don't want to be copying someone else. I want to be me relating what God has shown me about this piece of very hard scripture.

There are things to explain here and I know I can't get technical. I need for everyone there in Sunday to understand it all. The words need to be simple and if they can't be simple then they need to be explained. I need to make it so that both believers and unbelievers can accept this message. It needs to be a call to those within the Church who are holding back parts of their lives from God and also to those who need to heed his call and come to Him for the first time.

Time passed between this paragraph and the previous on and God's given me a starting point as well as a structure. Praise God.

I should probably start here with the structure and then take it away and fill it out.

  • Start with the passage. James 4:1-10 or 11 depends on how its going.
  • Begin by explaining the journey this will take and how its supposed to come together
  • Where we are now as believers and unbelievers in relation to God
  • How we are adulterers
  • That God's way out through the death of Christ and His grace is able to cleanse us of our sin and bring us into a new relationship with Him
That all sounds about right. Now all I have to do is write it up including all the side points.

Lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Gotta hold on to that don't I.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bible school

Yes that word does fill me with a bit of dread. Bible school where young Christians go to be infected with the leagalisim and negativity of the old and weary scholars.

Obviously thats not the case and is just a stereotype. But its one I've seen.

So yes as I commenced my little bible school (which if you do the testing it gives you a level of credit toward certain certificates and diploma's available) with some apprehension. I had heard the man who was leading the course preach before and was quite confident that He wasn't a jaded and weary scholar. In fact Tony Schmit is anything but jaded. He's alive and vibrant, you can see his love of the scriptures as he explains it through his own experiences.

I got a lot out of it and I really enjoyed myself. I can't wait till the next installment. The fact that its only on once a month is good but I wish it were on again this weekend.

Gee I'm a bit of a push over. Yet that just shows that my protest was just my snobbery. My experience had put my focus out and I am wary when being taught from someone I don't know. Now thats not all bad, provided you are using your knowledge of the scriptures and taking guiding from Holy Spirit. If you are merely testing the words and deeds of the person teaching you then thats ok. We are taught to check what is taught to us.

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
1 Thessalonians 5:21

Now that context is about prophecy but I think it fits well when it comes to all things that are said to be from God. Whether this is something said in church, or outside church. Don't accept everything said is from God without checking this with the scriptures and also with Holy Spirit. Even Jesus proved himself not just by saying who he was he did things and said things and he can be tested and proven to be true in His actions and deeds. The same must be for all who preach and testify to speak the truth of the Gospel. The words they say may not be what you are used to and some things they do may be awkward. These things may just be tradition and how they are used to expressing themselves. When this occurs be patient, search beyond the way of saying things to the heart of what they are saying. Holy Spirit will confirm his presence in those who are true.

I had another situation this very Sunday at the evening service. Our pastor was explaining faith healing and for an explanation showed Benny Hinn's recent outing in Venezuala. Now Benny's way of doing his thing isn't they way I'd do it. The white suit, his style of speaking. It just grates me. But I cannot deny the miracles that occur when he comes to town. I cannot deny the work of God. I cannot deny the confirming Holy Spirit brings to me when I hear this woman describing the miracle he performed upon her. Have a look.

Benny still grates me though. Why the white suit Benny? Why the white suit?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The way I see the struggle

I've heard it said that if you talk out whats wrong that you often come up with a solution.

Right now I've pretty much realised that I don't have the mental tools to be able deal with the struggle I am trying to win.

Yes its the same struggle that I have been trying to overcome. The one with how I deal with the pressures that come with being a single man and keeping to the straight line that Jesus set. I've had good weeks and bad weeks (last week was a bad week) so I'm really trying to do the right thing here. And maybe thats the problem. I'm trying in my own strength.

In Ephesians 6:13 it says -
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
We are told by Paul to stand. He tells us twice in this verse and again in the next. Standing doesn't seem like much but its what were told to do. In fact in James we're told the following piece of advice.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7
Standing and Resisting doesn't seem like a hard thing to do. Yeah, just try it when your battling and old habit that is clinging to your soul like hot bitumen to the sole of your shoe. In fact a better analogy would have been chewing gum stuck to the sole of your shoe. Its more gross and what I'm trying to get rid of is something that to many is gross and wrong. So what comes next for the repentant wanting to change his ways and break the old chains that bind him. Well James has the way ahead.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:8-10
Get close to God, humble yourself, change your ways. That sounds hard. I'm trying to do that, thats where I started this post. But look at the last line of James 4:10 "Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

Just pause a little and think about that. The Lord will lift you up. The creator of the universe the one who died and rose again will lift you up. Kings and Queens of this world lift their subjects up from poverty and obscurity to places of power and prestige. Honour and power of this world is given to them because of their connections to the monarch. How much more honour, power and prestige will be given to those who are lifted up by Jesus Christ.

I think I have answered my question here. Stand, resist, humble myself and come close to God and He will lift me up. I'll finish with the words of Isaiah about being lifted up as only he can describe it.

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31