October 18, 2012
Mark 9:33-34 33 Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 They were silent. On the road they had argued about who was the greatest.
Ministry is a beautiful thing. It allows the church to help those in need. It is a source of great joy. Unfortunately it can be a source of arguing and troubles. No, this did not start with my church or your church or even your grandparent’s church, it started with the very first people who were followers of Jesus. (see above)
The reason this happens is that we forget to put self aside and be more considerate of those in need. The Apostle Paul said that he died daily to himself so that he could live daily for Christ. Far to often Christians forget that this is needed in our lives. We forget that once we are saved, we become workers with Christ for God. We are to become like Christ to people. Christ died for people and lived for God’s will to be done.
The church is not a place to complain because someone else did something to help another. It is a place to rejoice because someone was helped by Jesus and Jesus happened to use one of His own. It is a place to find joy that others are ministering to those in need, even if we can’t or aren’t part of it. Jesus knows our hearts. He knows if we are doing things out of love or for self glory. I trust that and let Him worry about it. Meanwhile, if a person in need gets help and it is from a believer, I give God the glory.
When these disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, they were as far from being Christ-like as they could possibly be. Jesus goes on to tell them that they must be childlike, not childish, in order to become great. Children are obedient. He later tells them that if they want to be great they need to become servants. Servants don’t think that they are great, they too are obedient.
As we grow as Christians we must always be aware that not everything can be explained. Not everything can be communicated. And not everything is meant for us to do. I am sure that others who saw Peter walk on water were a bit jealous that it wasn’t them. I am sure that some may have wished it was them who received the vision of the book of Revelation. But the important thing to remember is that the people who God wanted involved were involved in the things that He wanted done. It just is not about us once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We must also remember that others are watching how we handle adversity. Every Christian has someone watching how we handle things to see if they want to follow us or not. It is not about them following you or me, but are we following Jesus and therefore they should follow us. Some may see our attitude and be offended because they don’t understand why we are upset. It may involve a weaker person and our reaction causes them to fall away. So be careful how you react to things.
Remember that children and servants are to be obedient, not important. Jesus is the important one and so is that person who needs help. We don’t want to hurt someone who is a weaker and younger believer.
Matthew 18:6-7 6 “These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.
7 How horrible it will be for the world because it causes people to lose their faith. Situations that cause people to lose their faith will arise. How horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose his faith!
July 3, 2012
I want to tell you about an organization that is worth checking out. It is called Third Option Men. The founder is a guy named Evan, and him and his dad were the ones who made our trip to Cuba possible. I encourage you to check out the website and/or Facebook page. The website is www.thirdoptionmen.org and just type in the name to find them on Facebook. The purpose of this group is to encourage guys to develop relationships that allow for accountability and more than just a Sunday morning type relationship that is far to common in the church today. It is about the type of relationship that Jesus had with his disciples, close and personal.
Far too often men tend to take their Christianity way too casually. We want the type of relationship that does not allow another man to get close enough to ask the hard questions or hear the brutal truth about how we are struggling in our relationships at work, home, and with God. Evan describes this beginning and often only type of man to man relationship of Christian males as the ‘awkward handshake’. The kind of relationship where we know your name and your favorite football team but never know that your marriage is falling apart and you might be struggling with an addiction. He encourages us to develop relationships that are real, relevant and reliable, just like Jesus and His relationship with others.
Basically, men have only three options in life. We can live for self, live for worldly gain, or live for God. Christian men need to choose the third option…get it? Third Option Men?
Living for self is easy. Looking out for number one is the way we are taught through most of life and the media. This is much like the “if it feels good do it” mentality. I saw a commercial the other day about a company that does cosmetic surgery and one of the women made the statement that if there was something that someone could do to make them feel better about themselves that they should do it at any cost. So if you think the way God made you is not good enough and that He made a mistake, a doctor can fix it and you will feel good about yourself. Sadly, surgery does nothing for that God shaped hole we are all trying to fill. So self-indulgence is not the answer.
Living for worldly gain sounds good. If we could only have more money, a bigger house, or a nicer car, we would feel better. Even if we could have bigger breasts (not men, but our wives) and less wrinkles, that would help, but you need to have the money for that. After all, we see how happy all the Hollywood crowd is with their plastic surgery and successful marriages and lack of drug and alcohol abuse, (Sarcasm). I actually saw more satisfied people in Cuba making $20 a month than I see in Hollywood making millions. Before you disagree, think about the number of famous people who are divorced, in rehab, gone broke, or even killed themselves. Jesus said it best about this option; Matthew 16:26, What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life?
The third option, to live for God, requires one to deny self and think of others. It requires you to build a relationship with someone who cares enough to invest time in you or vice versa. It requires you to give and to love and to get involved with someone to the point that you know what is really important and what can really help. It is what Jesus did with the men that He decided to hang out with. It is what we need to do as Christian men.
We took this message into Cuba and found that men there have the same reservations as we do in America. But when laid out in plain and biblical truths, it is undeniable that it works and is needed. Not the program or the book, or even the title, but the lifestyle. Third Option Men has a heart for those who are hurting and is going into churches and communities and countries to help men get over that macho attitude of self-reliance and teaching them to live for God.
I chose the third option. It is not easy and I fail often, but I have some friends who know how to help and care when I struggle. They too have chosen to follow God. God does not want men to be loners, but to have vital relationships to help us through that many paths that He may lead us.
Check it out…Third Option Men.
February 21, 2012
After reading the Old testament book of Daniel I got to thinking about priorities. Does the church today have their priorities in order? Do I? I know that a lot of people think of the book of Daniel and get caught up in the prophesies, and they are interesting, no doubt. But from the beginning of the book you see 4 guys who know God and have their priorities in order.
The last time I was interviewed for a job as pastor, I was asked what my priorities were. I was quick to say, God, family, church. That sounds like a good answer and I try to keep that in mind, but lets face it, God is not always on the top of that list. Perhaps after reading this I will no longer be welcome to stay as pastor of my current church. Everyone knows that pastors are super Christians and never get their priorities out of whack, but I like to be a rebel. Okay, I don’t like it when this is what makes me a rebel, but it is true. So, I know if a pastor can get priorities messed up, the regular folk certainly can.
Let me go back to Daniel and those 4 and what these guys faced. Basically Israel was once again being rebellious against God and God allowed them to be over taken by hostile people. But Daniel and his 3 friends had found favor with the king because, like me, they were smart and good-looking. (Stop laughing) They were told to do things that were against God’s word and refused. Rather than get their priorities out of whack, they decided to trust God and God honored them. Not only did he protect them from death, but God continued to give them favor with a hostile people.
Today we, the church, have decided to make it known that we don’t care about God as much as we care about self. We would rather have a program that keeps us happy over a mission trip that make us sleep without AC or heat. We would rather the band play the songs we know than to worship God as if He was who we know. We would rather the preacher keep it short so that we don’t miss the football game instead of missing the football game because we asked the preacher if he would spend a couple of extra hours teaching us the Bible. We would rather argue the politics of welfare than to take a cooler of sandwich meat and drinks into the homeless hangouts of our town and feed and eat with them as we share the gospel.
In a class last night we discussed how if we spent 15 minutes a day reading the Bible that we could read it in a year. My wife can read a novel a day on vacation. Most people I know, including myself, can do it in a few days. We remember every name of every character in a series like Twilight or Harry Potter, but can’t name the disciples. We know every player on our favorite team and know their schedule and even have time for fantasy football, but don’t know how to lead someone to Jesus. We can learn every change on Facebook even though we complain about it and add friends about every day, but we don’t bring anyone to our church all year.
Today I was stood up twice by people who wanted to meet with me to get help with their spiritual life. I saw both of them on Facebook as I was waiting on them to show up. A couple that wanted help with their marriage was supposed to meet with me today, but they had something come up. Sure, these can probably be explained, but it does make you wonder about our priorities. The Bible says to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all else will be added to it. Somehow we think that we need to get everything else in order and then find time for God.
All I know is that God has been dogging me out about keeping my priorities in order. I hope that other Christians will understand that unless we put God first, those who don’t believe will have no need to put God anywhere in their priority list. We have been given a command to follow Jesus. To follow anyone, they must be put in front of us or we are not following at all.