On the way to Sunday …

What do you know for sure?

Try making a list of the things you know for sure . . . Not an easy task.

Are sure about all the things on your list?

Are you really?

When it comes to your faith, what do you know for sure?

There is so much debate in Christian circles today regarding what the Bible says for sure.  One is left to wonder, “What can we know for sure?”

John Wesley, once said, “When I was young I was sure of everything. But after a few years, having been mistaken a a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. And at present, I am hardly sure of anything except what God has revealed to me.”

When it comes to developing our faith a series of stages of faith development was proposed by Dr. James W. Fowler in his book Stages of Faith. Part of the premise of the development of faith proposed by Fowler is that in order to advance your faith you must first question all that you previously believed. Each growth of faith is predicated by asking, “What do I know for sure?”

Growing our faith then is less about setting our feet in concrete, but more about wading into the mud.

That said, I still believe there are some things that we can know for sure and that will always remain constant.  Maybe you can discover them like I have in I John.

See you Sunday . . . if there is one . . .

I’ll take the Fish!

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It’s time for the annual fish fry and that got me to thinking …

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 

This passage comes from a time when Jesus was with his disciples after the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus was trying to teach the disciples the deeper wisdom of God’s Kingdom.  Jesus seemed to be teaching this message over and over again.  What is the kingdom of God like?  Jesus answered this question over and over.  Yet, we still ask the same question today as if the answers that Jesus gave were too hard to understand.

Bread or Stones?  Fish or snakes?  Which would you want?  Which would you give?

This seems a rather stupid and simple illustration until you understand the context of the day.  In the region where Jesus sat with the disciples there were stones that looked somewhat like loaves of bread and there were snakes that looked somewhat like fish.  But even with that, how dumb did you have to be to not understand what Jesus was saying about God.   I still picture Peter saying, “I’ll take the fish!  Lord, Remember that I said fish before anyone else!”

I believe the reality is that God’s word is not hard to understand – until we make it hard.  It is man that determines that God’s word is not understandable.  It is man that reads new meaning into words.

The message is pretty simple:

God loves you.

God wants to have a relationship with you.

But we have a problem that keeps you from this relationship and it is called sin.

Left to our own device we would die in our sin.

God loves us so much He sent his own son to communicate with us so that we might better understand God.

How many have prayed or even thought “It would be so easy if God would just talk to me!”?

God on the other hand says, “BING! You’ve got Mail!”

Read His word. Commit to reading the Bible.  It really is not hard to understand.  Translations and study bibles are aplenty and make reading and understanding easier than ever.  Don’t let the “thee” and “thou” and the dreaded “begets” be your excuse.

I challenge you to spend five minutes each day reading the Bible.

Do you want to understand God?  Then don’t depend on Sunday’s sermon as your only check of the mail.  You have the book.

What do you want to find in your mailbox? A letter or a snake?  It really is that simple.

In the meantime, I’ll take the Fish and see you on Sunday morning.

On the way to Sunday … Right on cue

Look what came in the mail today!

Maker:L,Date:2017-8-20,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

The perfect gift – Scripture out of context, but perfectly suited for your needs.

So encourage your favorite someone with words from the Bible that don’t mean what you want them to mean – but what difference does it make in the world of soundbites and bumper sticker slogans.

You can do it!  You can do all things!  Accomplish Great Dreams. I know it.

The Bible Says so – right there in Philippians 4:13.

For all the good that the Bible can do, it can also cause problems.  And most of the problems come when we pull a verse out of the Bible to suit our own purposes.

I want to be able to accomplish my dreams and this verse simply encourages me to pursue my dreams – right? or does it?

What are ‘all things’?

Aren’t they just my dreams?  Only the good ones of course – certainly not bad ones.

I mean this doesn’t mean I can rob banks – that’s not one of the ‘all things’.

And if that isn’t one of the ‘all things’ then maybe winning the game I’m playing isn’t one of the ‘all things’ either.

What are ‘all things’?  And is God really concerned with success and accomplishment as I would measure it?

Maybe this isn’t the perfect gift – items covered with out of context Bible verses.

But what if in your gift-giving you were seeking to provide a gift that would bring the recipient some type of contentment?

then maybe … just maybe …  you intent is rooted in the verse (Philippians 4:13).

Join us Sunday morning and discover more about the real meaning of this verse.

See you Sunday … no excuses …

after all … you can do all things …

 

 

How goes your garden?

I was at the grocery this past weekend and started to notice the first of the summer fruits starting to show up.

When we lived in Oregon, I would drive by a large fruit farm everyday on my way to the office. The sign listed every kind of fruit imaginable that the farm produced. In the cold and damp winter the trees and fields looked pretty bleak, but in the spring everything turned green and began to show promise for the harvest. I was really looking forward to the harvest season when all the fresh fruit from the vine would be available.  Alas, I never tasted that fruit as we moved back to Indiana before the fruit was ready for harvest.

But seeing that fruit got me to thinking . . .

In the Bible (Galatians 5:22-23) we read about the fruit of the Holy Spirit that God wants to grow in our lives. These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We each would like to have these characteristics, but it’s hard to always love, or be good or self-controlled when things aren’t going our way or we are tired or some one is giving us a hard time.

I have news for you. God doesn’t even want you to try to be these things all by yourself in your own strength. He wants to grow these characteristics in you. He does that when you spend time with Him. Just like you are influenced by other people when you spend time with them and become kind of like them, you are influenced by God when you spend time with Him and become like Him.

You can spend time with God by reading the Bible and listening to what He wants to say to you. You also spend time with Him when you pray to Him or when you go to a Bible Study or Prayer time at church with your friends. The more time you spend with God the more fruit the Holy Spirit can produce in your life.

So, as you spend time tending your garden, shopping the produce department of your favorite grocery, or enjoying that Indiana-grown cantaloupe stop for a moment and ponder what fruit is being produced in your life.

Take time this summer to spend time with God and ask Him to begin to ripen some new fruit in your life.

After all, we could all use a little more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

May God bring us each and abundant harvest this summer!

On the way to Sunday – Eating Leftovers … again

Admit it. We have all been there at some point – standing in front of the open refrigerator – staring blankly at all that is before us. We stand waiting for something to jump out and quench our thirst or our fill our hunger. But alas, after a prolonged silence and soft sigh, we shut the door and declare, “There is nothing to eat or drink!”

From our perspective, it is as if this is what we saw:

So here is the interesting thought that struck me last night as I stood in front of my open and full refrigerator and declared, “There is nothing here!”

As foolish as that was, I wondered if that is how I look when I pass the plate at a church and say, “I have nothing to give.”

My life must look pretty full from God’s perspective – for that matter my life must look pretty full compared to must of the people in the world!

And yet, how often have I closed the door on my finances and determined that I have nothing to give.

I need some perspective.  Perhaps I have spent too much time looking at all that I have that it no longer seems like much?  Next time the plate is passed at church or a charity asks for some help … take another look at all that you have and perhaps there is something you have to give.

And please be considerate … God is not looking for your leftovers any more than you are … probably why God asked for your first fruits to begin with!

“As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there. Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil.    Nehemiah 10:36-37 NIV

Gain some perspective at the refrigerator this week and then plan to share with others the abundance you have been so richly blessed with . . .

I’ll be eating some leftovers this week, but I’ll be bringing some first fruits on Sunday!

See you then . . .