Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post Election Thoughts For the Church

The elections are over and I for one am thankful. I wish those that won election or re-election the very best and my prayer is that each one will seek God's wisdom each day.
Some of the greatest days of my life were in the 80's. It seems that everyone was working hard and with pride to make America the greatest place in the world to live. I pray that those days return where we can all work together and bring unity to our great land.
I am deeply passionate about the direction our country is going and I plan on staying engaged in the process to make the United States of America a better place to live!

I do think that our country, no matter who won the election, is in a mess and confused about its priorities. It is going to take a lot of hard work from us to make it a better place to live and to raise our children. We need to be responsible citizens, working hard in our own lives and in our communities.
I loved this line from JFK in 1961:

No matter how bad we think our country has become, we as Christians should refuse to say "Look WHAT this world has come to!" Instead we must say 
"Look WHO has come to the world!"

We need to be reminded from time to time that Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind has come to the world and wants to work through all of us that will allow Him. 

In saying that, I am very interested in the direction that the Church of Jesus Christ is heading. I think that the power of the church spreads into society and as someone has quoted: "As goes the Church, so goes the nation." It may used to have been like that but I think those days have been over for quite some time. 
Many churches are scrambling to design ways to win the masses with a more social gospel rather than a spiritual gospel.

A social gospel emphasizes social reform and political action and deemphasizes the salvation of individual man through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing at all wrong with being involved with social issues and social causes, however, the role of the the Christian church needs to focus on the souls of men, women, boys and girls everywhere! If we, the church, are reaching out and helping everyone without having a concern about where they will spend eternity, we are only putting a small band-aid on their pain.
At our church, United Wesleyan Church, we are thankful for all the programs we have to help those in need: Prison ministries, Soup Kitchen ministries, Shoe Box ministry for poor children world-wide and all kinds of other things that our good people do. But, we all know that without salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ after repenting of our sins, the lives of everyone are "but a vapor" and a miserable eternity awaits them. 

Of course, as a result of many churches and ministers taking their eyes off of what is important to Christ, it is obvious that the Christian Church has become partners with the “world” instead of separating from it, thus making it weaker, and perhaps the society has suffered from it.

I am going to be very, very careful for the remainder of my ministry career to not mix the ways of the world with the plan of God. I am warned in the Word of God about this:
James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Charles Spurgeon penned these words at a very important time in our world and it needs to be looked at again by the Church of Jesus Christ:

The Church of Jesus Christ is not a political party! We are not in this world to win elections. I recently read an article by a well known blogger that gave reasons why the Republicans didn't win the election. He also gave reasons what Republicans should change to win the next election. I thought it was interesting as I felt he had some great wisdom to help the Republican party. As I finished reading the article I thanked God that I am not in this world to help Republicans or Democrats win elections! 
The last time I checked, the purpose of the church is not to win elections but to win souls. 

Finally, here are some tidbits that I feel are worth sharing for the days ahead. If you are not a participant in the Church of Jesus Christ, these may not be much help to you, however, if you are interested in how you can better help the church to move forward in its mission, these words may be of benefit.

1. I hope that Christians realize finally that we are and have always been in the minority. We need to operate like we are in the minority. We have never been a group that is bursting at the seams. "Only a few ever find it"

2. Sin is still sin and repentance is still needed to make our souls ready for salvation through Jesus Christ.

3. There is still a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. Our soul needs to be connected and tied to Jesus Christ and not a political party

4. Every time we read an obituary in the newspaper, someone has met their creator and will spend eternity in hell or heaven. It is our duty to do our best to rescue souls from hell.

5. This world is a battleground, not a playground. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places.

6. The road to heaven is not cluttered with followers and is not crowded. There is still only one way to heaven according to the Word of God. 

Matthew 7:13-14 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."

7. As Christians, we must choose to live by the "Word View" instead of the "World View."

8. The Church of Jesus Christ needs to be more fervent in presenting the gospel to the masses in truth and love.

9. Our God is not DEAD, He is fully alive!!!!! Can you say AMEN? Click on the video link for more excitement from the NEWSBOYS!

If the Church survived Rome, Nero, and the Flavian Dynasty, I'm pretty sure it can handle anything that is put in her path. The only thing capable of destroying the American Church is the influence of nominal Christians inside her walls.

Remember that you are loved by an Amazing God!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Breaking Down the Walls

We can have friends and relationships with those that are different from us! God takes great interest in breaking down walls that separate groups and people from one another. That is one reason He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to our world. God wants us to be ONE, especially in the church that Jesus died for:

Ephesians 2:14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

The aforementioned scripture is mainly written about the relationship between the Jews and the Gentiles.
They were so different in their traditions and their upbringing. Now the situation is that both groups were turning to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins but their differences from their past was causing a wall of separation to be set up between them.
God went to great lengths to see that people get along. He will do the same for us because loving relationships are important.
Here is a story I shared with the United congregation on Sunday:

Sometime back we are told the American Red Cross was gathering supplies medicine, clothing, food, and the like for the suffering people of an African drought and civil war. Inside one of the boxes that showed up at the collection depot one day was a letter. It said, “We have recently been converted and because of our conversion we want to try to help. We won’t ever need these again. Can you use them for something?” Inside the box were several Ku Klux Klan sheets.
This particular group had come to know the love of Christ and had disbanded, and they sent their robes, their white sheets, to the Red Cross. Quite significantly, the Red Cross cut the white sheets into strips and eventually used them to bandage wounds of suffering black people in Africa. (5) Now that is a conversion that would thrill the heart of God.

So my question today is: Who is it that you are at odds with? Why does this kind of relationship exist? God can give you the strength and power to forgive someone or a group of people. God will help you knock down walls.
In closing, here is a fabulous story of how one man made friends with his enemies:

Wallace Hamilton once told the story of a Christian farmer who raised sheep. But he had a serious problem. His neighbor’s dogs would, from time to time, get into his sheep pen and injure or even kill one of the sheep. The farmer went to talk with his neighbor but his neighbor didn’t do anything about it. So the farmer thought, the next dog that attacks my sheep will be a dead dog. But he knew that was wrong. His next thought was to sue the man. But Paul makes it clear in the 6th chapter of 1st Corinthians that Christians don’t sue Christians. “I’ll build a wall,” he thought, but that would have been expensive. He didn’t have that kind of money. And besides, walls are such ugly things.
Finally he prayed, “Lord, what should I do about my neighbor’s dogs?” Then that night the answer came to him. The next morning he went out to his sheep. He selected two baby lambs and he took those lambs to his neighbor’s house and gave them to his neighbor’s daughters as pets. The girls were thrilled (there is nothing cuter than a little lamb). His neighbor was thrilled because his daughters were happy, and since he now had sheep of his own to protect, he started controlling his dogs.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Get Rid of GUILT Psalm 32

Ogden Nash once wrote this little couplet:
There’s only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball,
And that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.

If you would do a GOOGLE search for the word GUILT, the first articles and links that you will find are about Jerry Sandusky being found guilty of child molestation from Penn State University.
The fact is that Mr. Sandusky was found guilty because he is guilty. However, will he feel the guilt of his crimes? Some folks do a great job of getting rid of guilt by covering their lives in deceit. 
If Mr. Sandusky does feel the shame and pain of guilt, what can he do about that? 

Here is what our friend, Mr. Wikipedia says about guilt: 

King David was a man in the Bible that was guilty of some hellish sins. David was brought to the place that he needed relief from his sins and the only way to find this relief was to come to God and confess his faults and actions. Here is the account of David getting rid of guilt in the 32nd Psalm:

1 Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
    whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3 When I refused to confess my sin,
    my body wasted away,
    and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
    My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.  
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
    and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
6 I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
    And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

At United on Sunday we discussed that fact that all of us have felt guilt and some are even controlled by it. We are filled with guilt by at least two different ways:

1. Unconfessed sin (v 3...when I refused to confess my sins)
2. Not accepting God's forgiveness (v6...And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone!)

I love the story about the man that sent the letter to the IRS saying: "After sending in my tax form, I couldn't sleep because of the guilt of putting false information on my return. Here is $150 and if I still can't sleep I will send the rest!"

I guess the entire goal of the day was to let each of us have an opportunity to get rid of guilt by either confessing our sins to God or by accepting the forgiveness that God has already given us. 

Here is one last nugget concerning guilt and forgiveness: 
"Satan will ACCUSE us of sins that God has already forgiven us of-The Holy Spirit will CONVICT us of sins that we have yet to confess to God."

I really believe that God wants each of us to look ourselves in the eyes today and see freedom through the forgiveness that Jesus Christ gives us!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

NO FEAR: The Fear of Failure

LIST OF PHOBIAS: There are so many phobias in America today there is even a website - that lists more than 500 human fears that people actually experience.
In fact, it is estimated that there are about 50 million people in the United States who actually suffer from some type of phobia in their lifetime.

You won't believe some of the fears that I have found. Some of them you will recognize.
Claustrophobia - The fear of confined spaces.
Dentophobia - The fear of dentists
Pentheraphobia - The fear of your mother-in-law (several men confessed to this one!)
Homilophobia - The fear of sermons
Arachibutyrophobia - The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
Luposlipaphobia - The fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a freshly waxed floor.
WOW! I never knew there were so many phobias.

However, even thought Wikipedia lists all the phobias that we either have or could acquire, the Word of God still states: "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7.

Fear is real to most of us in one way or another. Here are the main points that we  discussed on July 1:

2 Corinthians 4: 8-9 "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Did you know that The Fear of FAILURE is a FACT!

We all have failed, will fail and will continue to fail. As a matter of fact, even superstars fail. Check out these amazing statistics:

-The best basketball players in the NBA miss on the average 50% of their shots. 
-The best hitters in professional baseball fail 7 out of 10 times when they go to bat. Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns, but he also struck out 1330 times. He struck out almost twice as many times as he hit home runs. 
-George Washington lost 2 out of every 3 battles he fought. 
-R. P. Macy, who founded Macy's department store, started 7 businesses and had 7 bankruptcies, before he finally started Macy's. Everybody fails.

Did you know you can REJECT the Fear of FAILURE

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is not that successful people never fail - the difference is - successful people never quit.

Illust: Did you know that entrepreneurs almost never get their first business off the ground? Or their second? Or their third? According to Tulane University business professor, Lisa Amos, the average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.

Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player who ever played and one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports for one reason - he rejected the fear of failure, even though he took the winning shot 26 times and missed. At the end of the game he kept saying, "Give me the ball", because he understood that the highway of success often travels through the tunnel of failure.

Did you know that YOU can REJOICE in FAILURE!

The apostle Paul said that even thought he is getting knocked down continuously, he keeps getting up! King David even mentioned that his failure was good for him:

Psalm 119:71 "My troubles turned out all for the best - they forced me to learn from your textbook." (Psalm 119:71, MSG) 


I think FORD MOTOR COMPANY is glad that they got back up from failure and tried it again!!!
You and I can do the same thing!
Failure is only temporary.....

Monday, June 25, 2012


Sunday, June 24 at United was one of those days that all pastor's crave. It was a day when God's presence was everywhere and worship was fluid and powerful. All I can say is send the rain! Both services were very well attended.

Our focus was a new focus for the summer: NO FEAR!

The text that was used was Psalm 23: 1-4
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3     He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.

Our focus was particularly in the  area of not having a fear of death, but trusting God, the Good Shepherd as He walks with us through the trials of life.

At one point, I mentioned that during a 13 month period of my life, I was with a total of 16 people as they took their last breath and entered eternity. Some were from car accidents, gun shot wounds, natural deaths, etc.
Out of all of those deaths that I witnessed, I noticed that believers of God and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ seemed to die easier; I believe that God gives dying grace.

One particular person that I witnessed that passed on to meet His Savior could not keep his feet still; they were moving and his spouse would ask him if his feet bothered him. His only response was: "Please don't stop me, I am walking on the heavenly streets, the streets of gold!" He kept this up until he took his last breath.

After the service on Sunday, an elderly gentleman encouraged me as he told me his experience when his wife passed away. Moments before entering her eternity, she kept saying: "I can see him! I can see him!"...The husband asked who it was: She said, "it is Him!!" This elderly widower knows for sure she was speaking of Jesus Christ.

All I can say folks, is to be ready by the way you live and when you die, God will walk through that dark valley with you! 

See you next time at United Wesleyan!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek (gentle, humble) for they shall inherit the earth"

We have been working through a sermon series called "Staying Positive Under Pressure." Many times when we get under pressure we think that we should just fold up like a tent and become a doormat for others to walk on. In this, we sometimes think we are fulfilling the role of biblical "meekness" and somehow we will be blessed, just like Jesus said in the quoted verse of scripture.

I shared an acrostic that is a symbol for the "Meek Club of America" it is:
"Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls"? When you make an acrostic of the first letters of its name, you have the word "Doormats."
The Doormats have an official insignia—a yellow caution light.
Their official motto is: "The meek shall inherit the earth, if that’s OK with everybody!"

Here are some takeaways from the message on Sunday at United Wesleyan concerning "Biblical Meekness"

1. Meekness IS NOT weakness!

  • The word translated Meek here is the same word that was used in NT times to describe a wild animal that had been tamed or domesticated
  • Imagine for a moment a wild stallion that has never been ridden by anyone. 
  • He has never worn a bridle and bit - he's as wild as them come. 
  • He is full of energy and strength and spirit. 
  • Now you take that horse and over time you tame him, you domesticate him. 
  • He becomes meek. 
  • You can put a saddle on him - his master can ride him - you can put a bit in his mouth and reins over his neck and he's meek. 
  • Now what have you done to that horse? 
  • Have you taken away any of that horse's strength? None at all. 
  • Have you taken away any of that horse's spirit or his power? None at all. 
  • Have you taken away any of that horse's energy? No.
  • The only difference between the domesticated horse and the wild one is that now, that horse's strength and energy are being controlled by his master and channeled for a useful purpose. 
3. Two people are found in the Word of God as being a MEEK person...Moses and Jesus Christ.
-However look at these two men and how they displayed themselves at different times in their lives:

*Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments given to him by God. What did he find? He found God's own people worshiping a golden calf.
Here is what it says in Exodus 32:19 When they came near the camp, Moses saw the calf and the dancing, and he burned with anger. He threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf they had made and burned it. Then he ground it into powder, threw it into the water, and forced the people to drink it.
*NOW, check this out: In Numbers 12 we find that Miriam and Aaron were gossiping about Moses and Moses did not say a word in retaliation...This chapter refers to Moses as being the most "meek" or "humble" man on earth at that time!
WOW!!! When the people offended God, Moses was angry. When Moses was being persecuted, he did not respond...What is it that offends us so easily? Do we get more offended when someone says bad things about us or when they take God's name in vain?

*When people were selling doves and taking up taxes in the Temple, Jesus came and knocked over tables in response
*When Jesus was dying on the Cross for our sins, we all know He could have called "legions of angels" to take him down...He did not
WOW-When God's Temple was being used for personal gain, Jesus was righteously angered...When His body was hanging on the Cross, Jesus let the Father's will have right of way...WHY?

Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

So, remember, MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS! Meekness is having power, strength and energy but it is now being controlled by a master and being channeled for a greater purpose!

See you next Sunday at United!!

                      Monday, May 28, 2012

                      Can God Trust You?

                      2 Corinthians 12:1-- This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. 3 Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know 4 that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.

                      5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

                      8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

                      In the sermon at United Wesleyan on Sunday morning, I was bringing out the fact that the Apostle Paul was leaning on God to give him strength to make up for his weakness. In the end, Paul said: "When I am weak then I am strong."

                      However, during this time of proclaiming the Word of God, I started wondering if it is possible that God could not trust the Apostle Paul to remain humble and to continue doing "Kingdom" work in a pain free, blessed and trouble free environment?

                      Paul did say in verse 7 "so to keep me from becoming PROUD, I was given a thorn in my flesh."
                      So, this is saying that even with the great Apostle's commitment to the gospel of Christ, God still felt the best way to get more from him was to keep him! This could explain many of my "thorns."

                      Paul said in verse 8: "I begged the Lord 3 different times to take it away and each time he said: My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness"

                      So, my point is this: We know that God wants good things for us, but more than that, God wants us to bring glory to His Son, Jesus Christ. So, at least in Paul's life, it is indicated that the best way for God to receive glory from him was to keep him in a weak and dependent state.
                      Could God not trust Paul to be pain free, burden free or having all his dreams come true? Perhaps then Paul would take his eye off of the prize? Maybe he wouldn't be as focused because good things tend to take our time and becomes our priority?

                      One last thought: Could it be that we work the best when we are fighting against an obstacle or going against the grain? Perhaps this is how God gets the best from us....

                      A writer expressed this idea about weakness: "Let your weakness be what it will; one of the strangest paradoxes and, at the same time, one of the most encouraging facts in human life is that your weakness can be your greatest asset. Men, like kites and airplanes, rise against and not with the wind."

                      So, this week, if you are finding that your pain and obstacles are not going away, perhaps you, like the Apostle Paul work better for the Kingdom when you are weak, because then you are forced to depend on God for strength.

                      What are your thoughts?

                      Peace and joy to you today!

                      Monday, April 23, 2012

                      Forgiving Others Sets Us Free!

                      Forgiveness was the word of the day at United Wesleyan on Sunday morning. I really believe that God did His work as several released their "Judas" to the Lord and walked away without the burden of bitterness and un-forgiveness. It was awesome to see and to hear even later in the day how releasing their "Judas" to God has given victory and peace.

                      We explored the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus in such as way that it eventually put Him on the cross. Even on the cross, it was Jesus that said: "Father, forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing."
                      Now, I will admit that many of our Judas' know exactly what they are doing at the moment, but perhaps they are deceived and even ignorant to what they are doing to themselves spiritually.

                      I really love what Buddy Hackett said about forgiveness: "I never hold grudges, because while I am stressing about what they did to me, they are out there somewhere dancing!"

                      I also love the story about the preacher asking his congregation "if you would like to forgive your enemies, please raise your hand"....everyone did except 86 year old Mr. Jones. The preacher asked Mr. Jones why he wasn't willing to forgive his enemies. Mr. Jones replied: "I don't have any." The preacher asked how that could be possible and Mr. Jones replied: "I outlived everyone of them!"

                      It is true that the only way we can be "enemy free" is to either outlive them or forgive them! We may have to turn our enemies over to the Lord and let God deal with them so we can go on living in God's will!

                      How do you deal with your "Judas"?...the one that has betrayed you, used you and harmed you in some way?
                      Please consider the words of Jesus this week:

                      Teaching about Love for Enemies

                      Matthew 5:43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[t] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

                      Monday, April 9, 2012

                      Changing Directions

                      Yesterday was a beautiful day and a great day for Easter worship. God continues to show us here at United Wesleyan that He is leading and blessing our congregation. A full parking lot is a good problem to have in the life of the church and that is what we were dealing with on Sunday. 

                      However, the highlight of the morning for me was when I asked the congregation a question: "What was the signature dance of your generation?"

                      Wow, you should have heard the answers! Carolina shag, Funky chicken, Duggie, Wobble, Macarena just to name a few! I threw in the only dance that I knew, The Hokey Pokey! 
                      We realized that all these dances have something in common: The participant must constantly change directions!

                      Do you realize this is what Peter said during the first sermon after the Day of Pentecost? When asked what they must do, Peter said: "Repent (change directions) in the Name of Jesus Christ!"
                      I am praying that many people at worship services all around the world changed directions! 

                      Here are some good signs that God is still using people in the right places to bring the gospel to the world. 
                      Hopefully these two guys will help a great group of people to change directions: Tim Tebow and Bubba Watson!
                      Both of these guys are winners! They win on and off the field and golf course. They are also unashamed of the gospel of Jesus:

                      Here is Tim Tebow on Easter Sunday:

                      Here is Bubba Watson on Twitter on Saturday evening:
                      "Thanks everyone for the support! 3 reasons tomorrow will be awesome, 1. Jesus has risen 2. See my new baby boy & my wife 3. Masters Sunday." 

                      Here is Bubba Watson after winning the Masters: One of the greatest quotes I've heard by an athlete, "I never made it this far in my dreams"
                      As many of you know, Bubba crushed an unbelievable shot that hooked about 35 feet to the right to land close enough to the pin to win the Masters! 

                      So, Easter is over for the year. 
                      Do you think we as a nation are heading in the right direction?
                      Is the Christian church heading in the right direction?
                      Are you going in the right direction?

                      Here are some notes of the message from You Version:

                      Until next time, let us keep changing directions until we are walking the same way as the resurrected Christ!

                      Tuesday, April 3, 2012

                      Gambling Jesus Away

                      John 19:23–24: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four
                      shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment
                      was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they
                      said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the
                      scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them
                      and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.

                      My question this morning is what in the world made these soldiers do what they did at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ?
                      At the time when Jesus was giving up his life so that normal people like you and I can have a way for the forgiveness of our sins and eventually spend eternity in heaven, these men were gambling to see who would walk away with a prize: The seamless garment that Jesus was wearing.

                      BEING TO FAMILIAR?
                      Perhaps these soldiers were so familiar with crucifixions that it no longer moved them. They certainly saw and participated in their share of deaths by crucifixions. 
                      Could this be why so many in our world turn away from Jesus even today? We are so familiar with the religious lingo, the holidays, the songs and prayers that we no longer pay enough attention to what really went on when Jesus died?

                      BEING TOO PREJUDICED? 
                      The Jewish people and the Roman people hated each other. They couldn't stand to see the other prosper. As a matter of fact, they would plan and plot for each others destruction.
                      The Romans were turned off by God's people. 
                      I have known many over the years that do not attend worship, claim Christianity as their faith because of someone that turned them off because of some words or actions that may have even been taken the wrong way.
                      Prejudice can make us do some strange and even awful things. Do you know someone who is prejudiced against the church, Christians or even God Himself?

                      Obviously, these soldiers were focused on the seamless garment. They were oblivious to the cross because of their focus.
                      What is your seamless garment? Is it your career, your investments, your family or current situation? People, places and things can take our focus off of Jesus Christ, who died on Calvary so that we might have a blessed life here and an awesome eternity!

                      I heard this story recently: A number of years ago I heard the testimony of a missionary named Glenn. He and his family were in China for a number of years. In their last years there they had been
                      put under house arrest by the Chinese government and were waiting to hear when they
                      could go back to America.
                      One day a Chinese soldier came and knocked on the door and told them they could
                      go back to America and that he would be back later to pick them up and take them to
                      the airport. They could only take two hundred pounds with them. Well, think about this.
                      If it was your family, a wife, a husband, and two kids—two hundred pounds isn’t much.
                      They decided to try the best they could to decide what was most important and what
                      really needed to go.
                      The wife thought vases and the sewing machine were most important, Glenn
                      thought his computer and books were most important, and the children were concerned
                      about their toys, games, and clothes. They had much more than two hundred pounds.
                      They got out the scales and the family arguments began. They argued a little while
                      and took something off, argued some more and took something else off and finally,
                      though they didn’t agree that they had what was most important, they did have two
                      hundred pounds on the dot.
                      Later that day the Chinese soldier came and said, “Are you ready to go?”
                      Glenn said, “We are ready.”
                      “Did you weigh everything?”
                      “We weighed everything.”
                      “Did you weigh the kids?”
                      “We didn’t weigh the kids.”
                      “Weigh the kids.”
                      In a moment everyone agreed. The sewing machine, vases, computer, books, toys,
                      games, and clothes weren’t even worth discussing. 

                      ***The value of putting our attention on what is of first importance is that it focuses us on what really matters and keeps us from being distracted or preoccupied with what does not.

                      Be blessed today! God is on your side...