Sunday, September 23, 2012

Well Rested ... NOT

It's Sunday morning and I'm up and showered, had a cup of coffee and working on a second one. Chris is still sleeping so I'm keeping it quiet in the hotel room of the Stonecrest Motel in Piedmont MO.

It's not often that I spend the night before preaching going over the sermon in my head, but for some reason this was one of those rare occasions. I'm sure that I managed a complete sleep cycle (or maybe two) during the night so I'll be fine this morning. An equally rare Sunday afternoon nap may find its way into my immediate future.

This morning's message will focus on two things; briefly on 1 Peter 3:15-16 and then more closely on Matthew 16:13-16

The questions that Jesus posed to his followers are still valid today. Who do people say that Jesus is? and Who do you believe He is?

I knew that I had posted in the past a post titled Please Accept My Apology. I didn't realize that it was over FOUR YEARS ago! I don't know if I've actually made any of those future posts that were promised, but I have incorporated apologetics into my messages over the past four years.

In a world where presidents are condemned for apologies that they didn't make and where we are taught that an apology is a  sign of weakness, the Bible calls on us to be apologetic about our beliefs--to give a defense of why we believe what we believe. The challenge this morning is to encourage believers to follow the teaching of the Word, rather than the teaching of the world.

John <><

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Will You Talk About on Monday?

Sunday afternoon found me at Ozark Highlands Church  (OHC) to talk to a small group of followers of Jesus about sharing their faith. This was a day that I was really looking forward to.

I really love Pastor Mark and his heart for Jesus. I enjoy the conversations we have and sense his great love for our Lord and his concern for those that do not know Jesus.

In my post on The Downside of Bible Study, I mentioned about our lack of urgency to share the gospel with the people that we know and love and are living lives apart from Jesus. I wrote about our willingness to share about every facet of our lives except to tell people about our love for God and how He has blessed us and how He wants to bless them, too.

So I was wondering, dear Christian...
What will you talk about on Monday?
When somebody (co-worker, classmate, neighbor, friend) asks you about your weekend, how will you respond?
Will you tell the guy that doesn't care about football about your fantasy team?
Will you tell the woman that doesn't follow baseball about the Cardinal's mediocre weekend?
Will you complain about the weather or bore somebody with the details of your weekend when the truth is that they don't really care about your weekend? They are just asking you to start a conversation that will get to the point that you will ask them in return and they can bore you with what they did for the weekend.

I think that this Monday I'm going to tell them about the awesome church service we had at Hopedale. I think I'm going to tell them about the class I got to teach at OHC. I'm going to ask if they have a church home. I'm going to ask them about their relationship with Jesus.

If nobody asks me about my weekend, I'll guess that they've read this post and don't want to be bored with my weekend or answer my questions. If we are truly passionate about Jesus; if we truly love Him, then we need to include Him and the things we do for Him and because of Him in our daily lives and conversations.

Again today, I made the challenge for the people at OHC: Tell one person that you believe to be without Jesus these two simple sentences: God loves you. and Jesus died for you.

Would you care to join us?

John <><

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sad, Bad, Mad.

I haven't posted in a while. I'm trying to refrain from writing when I feel like I might spill over into the political fray and cause more division than good. Even though this post might only skirt the political issues, it jumps into the religious crap with both high-booted feet!

I commented to my boss the other day that it makes me sad to think how often we have our flag at half staff these days. I mean it's good that we honor those that have given their lives serving our country; it's just sad that so many are making that sacrifice.

The latest violence against the USA seems to be much more organized that originally thought. Whether this is from riots over an offensive movie or from organized terrorist groups, it's definitely a bad deal for Americans in the Middle East. The outrage over the events of the past week seems to be misplaced and directed at the entire Muslim world. I've heard numerous sources (from members of Congress to individual citizens) that want to immediately flex our economic muscles and stop sending all aid to the Middle East countries.

I do have issues with the amount of money the US gives in the way of foreign aid. I sometimes want to bring all of our troops home until I realize that the oppressed of the world are counting on us. I know that the protesters and terrorists are a small minority of the populations of the Arab countries. I know that the ignorance of the freedoms that we enjoy is great in the nations that have never enjoyed these freedoms the way we have. I know that there are many citizens of those countries that have been very grateful to the US for the aid in helping the success of the Arab Spring movements.

I want to say that I'm a little mad over the religious hatred that I've heard from many that are Christians and are often toting the religious freedom banner. Truthfully, it doesn't surprise me and it makes me more sad than mad. If we abandon the people of the Middle East that are in desperate need of the Jesus that we profess, can we really claim to be His followers? Or is that Christianity thing just for Sunday mornings?

Do we want to base our perceptions of all Muslims on the actions of a few? Do we want to decide that they can all go to hell, and we're not going to have anything to do with them--including building a relationship that will allow us to talk about the differences in our beliefs and share Jesus with them?

That's it.
Short vent.

John <><

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Questions on Sin...

First things first...

I know that there are a number of regular readers that never comment. That's okay, but I would really like for your feedback on this post. If you don't want your comments posted, just say so and I won't post them or you can send me a private message via Facebook or e-mail.

I also know that my readership has dropped off quite a bit in the past year. (Obviously there are a number of former readers that have decided that they no longer care to read my drivel. Not a big surprise.)
But since I'm interested to know how people of all different backgrounds and faith view sin, I'd ask you to share this post in hopes that I might receive a little bit more feedback.

Here are my questions:

What is sin?
     According to your own philosophy or belief, what is sin? How do you define it?

Are there different degrees of sin?
     Are some sins worse than others and who determines this?

How are sins punished and who administers the punishment?

How is sin reconciled?

And how do these beliefs guide you in the daily decisions of life?

I expect to have answers that describe sins against others, against society, against God (or some other supreme being). There may be responses dealing with karma or hell or reincarnation. I expect most answers to be some variant on Christianity's perspective.
I do not expect anybody to attack another's comments. It's not that kind of forum. I am asking for information to better understand how people of various backgrounds view this part of our world. Please participate and feel free to share your thoughts without fear of any push-back or disparaging remarks.

John <><

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Book topic ... ?

Every now and then I begin reconsidering the subject of book writing. As a matter of fact, I have a couple of collections of random thoughts assembled and stored "in the cloud" in case I should ever get really motivated to "write a book" and need a topic.

Recently, I've given thought to writing about being a follower of Jesus (Christian in the specific sense, not the generic sense) and being a social liberal. I choose to specify 'social' liberal because I don't consider myself to be a fiscal liberal, nor a moral liberal (although, I know plenty of people that would argue over that). When it comes right down to it, most liberals would consider me to be a conservative. Like most moderates, we are often shunned by the extremes of our party of choice as not being a true Republican or Democrat and naturally opposed by the 'other' party as being ... well, the other party.

The antiquated term 'half-breed' comes to mind. It seems that a reasonable amount of commonality or agreement with both sides also makes you an enemy of both sides.

While such a book might be an encouragement to those that find themselves derided by the Christian brotherhood that is supposed to show love for one another, I seriously doubt that it would ever stand a chance of being a popular topic, much less a best seller. For one thing, I have no credentials as a follower of Jesus. I have no biblical degrees and pastor no churches. As a matter of fact, I have no degrees whatsoever. I am a college drop out. I have no credentials as a writer and I still struggle with proper grammar and punctuation.

I don't know if I'm just trying to talk myself out of the work it would take or making an honest assessment of the likelihood of finding a publisher. As a preacher, I'm not really interested in preaching a social gospel. As a preacher, the only gospel I'm interested in sharing is the soul saving gospel of eternal salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.

I guess it comes down to this question:
Would such a book be beneficial in helping Christian people reconcile social differences of opinion while encouraging continued fellowship and harmony in spreading the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

Any thought?
I'm interested.

John <><

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Feelin' Good About the US of A!

For those days when you just need a feel good story...

Amid the stories of politicians, conventions, mall shootings, theater shootings, and so many others that tend to make daily living something to endure rather than something to enjoy, it's nice to be able to share a story like this one.

I saw the it on Facebook and before sharing it, I decided to see what Snopes had to say about it.
You should read the original and the Snopes background.

Every now and then, in the middle of the constant barrage of crap that’s just pissing us all off these days, we come across a story, a feat, an event that just makes us stop in our tracks. This was one for me. 

Cody Green was a 12-year kid in Indiana who was diagnosed with leukemia at 22 months old. He loved the Marines, and his parents said he drew strength and courage from the Marine Corps. as 

he bravely fought the battle into remission three times. Although he was cancer-free at the time, the chemotherapy had lowered his immune system and he developed a fungus infection that attacked his brain. Two weeks ago, as he struggled to fend off that infection in the hospital, the Marines wanted to show how much they respected his will to live, his strength, honor and courage. They presented Cody with Marine navigator wings and named him an honorary member of the United States Marine Corps. For one Marine, that wasn’t enough ... so that night, before Cody Green passed away, he took it upon himself to stand guard at Cody’s hospital door all night long, 8 hours straight.

Nowhere on the face of this planet is there a country so blessed as we to have men and women such as this. I wish I could personally tell this Marine how proud he makes me to be an American. God ... I do so love this country.

~~Lori Boxer for The Blacksphere

The Snopes story.

John <><