Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's (been) Happenin' ???

Wow! Unbelieveable! Looking back over the past three months, it is amazing where God has directed and brought me. My mistake tonight would be an attempt to mention and explain everything that entailed in one blog. So, I will not do that now. Suffice to say that the journey continues even though there is the temptation inside me to say that I/we are at a very, very high point.

Thank you God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit for guiding and leading us to the poor. From your Word, Father, I know(oida) this is where I/we need to be. Thank you for bringing us here to them. Now may we follow the example of Your Son in caring for and in loving them. A must read book is The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. Do not read this book if you are afraid of change, because the message of this book will change you!

Nothing, and I say again, nothing, in this life is more exciting and fulfilling than the realization of being led by His Spirit(Romans 8:14).

I definately plan on keeping up better on a day to day basis.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Humble Saints or Proud Sinners

I just came from my closet. My Father and I simply had to talk...again! You see, I have this problem; and it has been a 'problem' for me for years. You see, I cringe every time I hear a brother or sister in Christ initially identify himself/herself as, "A sinner saved by the grace of God". That phrase in that context just sends cold chills down my spine. I have even heard individuals announce the same thing publicly in our worship assemblies, thus identifying us to the masses.

Is that who you believe you are? Lee, is that who you believe you are?

Over the years, I have taught several Bible classes under the title: "The Bible Tells Me So". The purpose and study of these classes has been to open the Word and allow God to tell us so. I firmly believe that much of what we say, believe, and practice as Christians comes from sources other than the Word and Will of God. And subtly over the years, decades, and even centuries these things have become confused as or equal to Scripture.

The most common word used in the New Testament to identify those saved by the blood of Jesus Christ is 'saint'. The writers of the New Testament use this word fifty to sixty times. Our popular word 'Christian' is used only three times.

For many years at Harding College/University in Searcy, Arkansas, there was a second cafeteria in the basement of one of the girls' dorms. The dorm was Patti Cobb. For each meal, there were two lines that would form outside the dorm leading into the cafeteria...on the right, the 'saints'...on the left, the 'sinners'.

How does the Apostle Paul address those to whom he is writing in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae? "...to the sinners or to the saints in..."? Over and over again throughout his letters, Paul addresses the followers of Jesus as 'saints'.

II Peter 1:3&4 says that God through His promises has granted us everything "pertaining to life and godliness" in order that we "might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust". Sounds as though God has done everything in His power to equip the followers of His Son to live as 'saints', and not to continue as 'sinners'; for that was our former life(Romans 6).

I believe it is easier and more comfortable for one to continue to refer to himself/herself as a 'sinner'. To wear the title of 'saint' means taking on responsibility. I now am responsible for my words; I now am responsible for my actions; and I now am responsible for my reactions. Without an individual acknowledgement of the 'divine' nature, one can point to or even accuse the 'former' nature.

Here is a popular teaching that needs to be disspelled. Some compare/illustrate our former life in terms of a dirty, beat-up, old jalopy. And that our new life is that jalopy all cleaned-up and fixed-up. That may sound very religious and spiritual, and it may be what we have always heard; but it is not right! It is not Bible. According to Scripture, we are brand new cars(II Corinthians 5:17).

An observation about our walk as followers of Jesus that I try to remember is this: I am not sinless, but hopefully I do sin less!

So, who am I? Saint

So, who are you?

Thinking kingdom,Lee

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Let's Stop Talking

Could any one of us count or even make a list of all the ways that we love and adorn God our Father?...I don't believe we could do either. In our attempts to do so, I believe each of our lists though would be similar in some ways, yet quite different in others. In very, very personal ways, certain things seem to be first and foremost in our individual hearts and minds. I believe it is with these that God has made some of His deepest impacts and impressions into our lives. May I share one of those today?

I simply have loved the way that God has developed an idea, thought, or impression that I may have received from the study of His Word. God, with His Spirit, has awed and humbled me 'many a time' over the years in this very way. Among the passages of Scripture that will never, ever mean the same to me are: Romans 8:14, Romans 12:13, Philippians 2:11&12, James 1:22, and James 1:26&27. And this list could go on. But the latest might just be the greatest!

Jesus in Matthew 12:36&37 says, "...that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."

I cannot remember why I was looking at this text, but the word in this passage that I was most curious about was 'careless'. What does that word mean? I thought of what I had been taught as to the meaning of this Scripture. I suppose it started very early in my church life with the verse from the Sunday school song...

Oh, be careful little mouth what you say,
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say,
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.


So, this started very early in life; be very careful as to what you say...Lee, do not say dirty words...Lee, do not say hurtful words...Lee, do not say angry words...Lee, do not say "shut up"...Lee, say "yes ma'am" and "yes sir"...Lee, say...(well, you get the picture, because you were brought-up the same way).

And even though all of that is true and right, I still wondered, "Is that all Jesus meant by 'careless' words"??? I did not believe that was His entire point!

Another word that we sometimes see as a translation in this passage is the word 'idle'. Interestingly, this is the same Greek word that is used to describe the men standing in the marketplace in the parable of laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:3. These men were found not working in the marketplace, then hired to go and work in the vineyard. The initial thought that God and His Spirit had been working on for over a year was this: Could the 'careless' or 'idle' words we speak be those words that we proclaim boldly, but they are not followed with any kind of deed or action? In other words, those words remain 'idle'.

Far-fetched? Way out in leftfield? Lee, you're stretching it! Well, let me share what the Spirit has been revealing over the last 12 months...consider:

  • Matthew 7:28&29 - I believe the reason why the audience saw Jesus as one having authority in His speaking was because they saw Him as One who was practicing what He was preaching;

  • James 1:22-27 - After James encourages his readers to be doers of the word and not merely hearers, he proclaims that a man's religion which consists of an unbridled tongue is worthless; for the man is deceived in his heart. Pure religion in the sight of God is caring for others;

  • John 21:25 - One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. The world would not contain the books that could be written about what Jesus did, not about what He said;

  • I John 3:18 - John tells us to love in deed and in truth, not simply with words and with our tongue;

...and this teaching continues on and on throughout the New Testament.

Even IBM has begun to understand this principle. We have all seen their STOP TALKING/START DOING commericials.

So Lee, what has been the practical application of this in your life? First and foremost, a lot less talk(just ask my family and friends). I have said plenty in the past. My family and friends know where I stand. I desire that not one of those words become an 'idle' word. Secondly, each new day I look more intently for the opportunities that God gives me to simply live-out what I have 'proclaimed' in the past. Lee, does your life show that you really meant that? And finally, the words of Francis of Asisi seem very appropriate in closing,

"Everywhere you go preach the Word, and when necessary use words"
This, my friends, is a life changer!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mid-course Correction(s)

Growing up in the '60's and '70's, I was a NASA fanatic...a Space Program nut. If I could have lived next door to anyone, it would have been Neil Armstrong, my hero. If at all possible, I would not miss the launch of a Gemini or Apollo spacecraft. As a matter of fact, the day before Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, our television set went out.

You've got to be kidding me...Unbelieveable...Panic City

That was a Saturday afternoon. No TV repairman could get it fixed by the next day Sunday, the first moonwalk day. So Dad went out and rented a television just for me and my passion.

From all of those years of interest I learned a little about the 'trip to the moon'. Following the tricky maneuver of docking the command module(CM) with the lunar module(LEM), the spacecrafts were on their way to the moon with three astronauts. Several scheduled times on their journey mid-course corrections were carried out. The path of the spacecraft was adjusted by firing rockets on the CM to ensure proper orbit around the moon. If these corrections were not done or done incorrectly, the spacecraft could either miss the gravitational pull of the moon to ensure orbit or slam directly into the moon.

Important, huh!

Mid-course corrections in our spiritual journey are crucial, too! Can you recall your last one?

Allow me to share a mid-course correction that God and the Holy Spirit are continuing to adjust on my spiritual journey. This time last year the Benevolence Team(BT) of which I am a member got the opportunity to share with our church family what we were all about. Being four years in, we decided to give a synopsis of where we had been, what we were currently doing, and where we saw the Spirit leading us. The preparation and especially the study for this presentation was one of the greatest blessings God has given me. Our studies included two areas: what Scripture says and the examples of the early Christians. Whether it was from Scripture or from history, the truth that kept 'jumping off the pages' and 'hitting us between the eyes' was this:

Benevolence is not a program: it is a LIFESTYLE...(let it soak in)

With the greatest of humility and with the help of God's Spirit we attempted to convey this truth to our listeners that night.
I once heard someone say, "It is easier to associate than it is to participate".

Now the challenge that I find in my life is this: Lee, it would be easier to contribute some money to a program and allow someone else to distribute that money to those in need than it is for you to keep money available to help those in need who you personally come in contact with day by day.

Two or three times over the past year, the Spirit has profoundly and emphatically reminded me of the truth "that benevolence is a lifestyle". He periodically has to make that correction in my thinking. And I am so thankful for that, because like the astronauts I do not want the miss the goal of the journey.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tired From What?

This past Saturday was an interesting day. The sub-floor in the master bathroom needed some work. After thirty-some years the plywood had begun to weaken, so small cracks and holes had begun to appear in the vinyl tile. The tiles had been pulled weeks before. It was now time to do some replacing of that 3/4" plywood. With tools in hand, around noon the prying, cutting, tearing, and pulling began. There was also the trashing, the measuring, the cleaning, and the trip to Home Depot. The sub-floor was resupported, the distances were remeasured, more cleaning, and finally, the plywood was cut(pretty close to size) and laid in place. Now, almost twelve hours later, everything being nailed into place could wait until Sunday afternoon.

As the back of my head hit the top of the pillow, there was an acknowledgement of soreness, of weariness, of exhaustion. Yet, in a way, it was a great feeling, because something had been accomplished today. However, the Spirit would not leave it simply at that. There would be more learning today than just how to replace plywood sub-floor. "Lee, when was the last time you felt this exhausted from doing Kingdom work?" WOW!

A guilt-ladened question?

No...by no means...I did not take it that way! But a question that examines the very depths of my heart, and it prompted other questions, "What I am willing or not willing to do in the Kingdom?" "Do I pick and choose how or where I will serve?" "Are there certain opportunities that I purposefully avoid because...?" WOW! WOW! WOW!

Thank you God for allowing your Spirit to examine me and my motives in this way,

Thinking kingdom

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Having Anything Really to Say?

God has been tooo good to me. His goodness is expressed to me daily, hourly, minutely, and even secondly. Reflection on His goodness is one of the neatest things I get to do in this life. I joyfully remember a lot of it, but sadly I know that I have forgotten a lot of it, too. From being adopted at the age of five days old by Christian parents to arriving back home safely this afternoon having driven a few miles on icy roads, truly my life is filled with His favor. And those years in between and the countless touches(of His) on my life, that is what this is all about. How they have shaped and reshaped and reshaped again and continue to shape. Living life with anticipation for what He has envisioned is exciting. I believe that His vision is far greater than my own and that is exciting, too. My heart's desire for us is that we will get to see glimpses of His vision while here on earth.

Think kingdom...