What If?

What If?

Thursday May 4th, The National Day of Prayer…

So we are participating in the national day of prayer this year… a group of pastors, leaders, and lay people gather in one place on that morning and pray together for a variety of things. We take a stand together for our community and pray that God moves in our state, the country, and our world. But, I just preached on Jesus teaching on prayer… and now thinking about people gathering together for 1 day to pray, just seems… incomplete.

I still believe we should gather this Thursday and pray, but I’m challenged by God to say, why not make this a daily reality. The bible actually suggests we should always be praying (1 These 5:16-18)… it actually states never-ending prayer is “the will of God”. This is no mystery… God’s will is that His people are committed to constant prayer.

At Missio Dei we discussed what a church who prays might look like. Instinctively you are thinking a group of people gathering at a building and praying together. Maybe this is on a Sunday morning gathering, or perhaps a devoted Saturday night… and maybe even a Wednesday night mid-week gathering devoted to prayer. What if… what if we made good on our conviction that the church is people and not a building and we became a bunch of people to commit to the will of God and became people who pray ALWAYS. If we gather together at a building then we pray most certainly, but what if we prayed even when we didn’t gather together at a specific place? What if when we gathered together to pray with our church family, we had been praying all week already and had some things to share about what God is already up to? What if we gathered to pray and that time just confirmed what God was already saying and doing when we prayer in our bedroom, our living room, at the store, at work, and in our schools? What If?

What if we saw prayer like Jesus did on Luke 11? In Luke 11 the disciples of Jesus ask Him, “will you teach us to pray?” and Jesus gladly teaches them.

He tells them to pray like this, “Father, Holy is your name, your kingdom come, Give us this day our daily bread, forgive our sins, as we also forgive everyone who sings against us. And lead us not into temptation.” Many people are going to be familiar with this “teaching” of Jesus or some variation of the “Lord’s Prayer”, but reading Verse 13 changes the prayer game for most of us… “13 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

All to often we come to pray with our lists… wants, needs, crying out for God to intervene, etc. But, what if our prayers were centered around asking God to give us The Holy Spirit? More of you father and less of me. Make me more like Jesus (A work that happens only through the Holy Spirit). What if our constant prayer was less about getting God to do things, and more about God’s spirit crashing the scene? Your scene, my scene? What if the church prayed as simply as Jesus seems to suggest… Give us the Holy Spirit?

I’m not sure what it would look like… but I know ONE things for sure! Jesus said if we did pray this way, we have a father who will gladly give us the Gift of The Holy Spirit.

Would you commit to praying continually for God to give us more of The Holy Spirit and then sit back and see what happens?

Peace

Advent – Hope In A Hopeless World

The Arrival_Final_?

Advent carries a  meaning “coming” or “arrival”. In the Christian calendar it has become a season to celebrate the fact that Jesus came or shall we say crashed into the neighborhood of humanity as a baby only to fulfill all that the scriptures detailed the Messiah and savior of the world would do. Advent is also a season where Christians anticipate the second coming of Jesus as much as the people of God anticipated the arrival of The Savior and Messiah. We look forward to the hope, peace, and love that come when The Kingdom of Heaven invades the place we call home today… the earth.

This already but not yet reality that Jesus brings with His presence creates an atmosphere of yearning, waiting, and anticipation of the future we all can be hopeful for. We are reminded of the story of the Israelites who were slaves in a distant land separated from the hope found in God crying out for a way of deliverance and God met them in Egypt through a prophet named Moses and delivered them so that He would be there God and they would be His people.

We will cover four aspects of this Advent season in our new series called The Arrival. This Sunday we will dive into Hope, followed by Prepare and Love… and finally bringing it all together on Christmas Eve with our focus on “The Christ”.

This week we explore the hope of advent… It is that hope, faint at times, and God, seemingly  distant at times, which brings the church and the world into a desire and anticipation of a King who will rule with love, truth, justice and righteousness over His creation.

We have many ways to celebrate and embrace the Arrival of Jesus… let’s make this Advent season one to remember for One Community Church, for your family, and for your community. Out of our hope for the coming and arrival of Jesus, we love those in our lives no matter the circle you find them in and offer the same hope that is transforming our lives.

Offer hope this month and may that hope carry you into new depth of your relationship with Jesus and others. May hope be the catalyst of change in our hearts and in our world.

See You This Sunday… bring someone who’s in need of some hope! We will be handing it out in large quantities at One Community Church.

Peace

The Rest of Sunday…

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Every communicator has things they wanted to say and didn’t or things they only touched on but should have spent more time clearly stating their point. Sometimes they forget, they run out of time, they go off on rabbit trails (as if that ever happens to me!), etc. Phone conversations end and you think… dang it I didn’t even say what I called to tell them! E-mails and text messages can go 3 or 4 threads deep because you remember later that you forgot to say something you planned on saying all along. Well, sermons are no different. Most weeks I walk away thinking of all the things I didn’t say, which forces me to the posture of trusting God is sufficient to work with the limited material He was given : )

This is my attempt to pick up some of the pieces from Sunday’s and possibly continue the conversation about what was communicated.

I’m not sure if this is what other pastors and communicators feel, but often what I think is going to be the most important part of the talk becomes ONE of the important things in the talk. This week we talked about how Jesus told us all Not to Worry (Luke 12). Worry is something that we all struggle with. 2000 years ago the worries may have been different to a certain degree, but clearly worry was on the face of many Jesus encountered. I thought the main focus of the talk was going to be that worry keeps our focus off of what Jesus intends. He says to those of us who worry in Luke 12 verse 31, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” He tells them to shift their focus off of their worry which only leads to anxiety and depression to the greater things of the Kingdom of God. Shifting our focus was going to be my main point throughout the talk, but then as I talked I realized that shifting our focus is good, but hating the worry, anxiety, and depression was more important and possibly first and foremost in the hierarchy of how to deal with worry.

So, I asked how we should see worry, and I pointed out that Jesus sees worry as our enemy. In just about every case where he deals with worry and anxiety he follows up with something about the enemy, the one you might call, Satan. As far as Jesus was concerned worry and anxiety are enemies to our souls. We see in the parable of the sower Jesus said that worry and the enemy steal the first three seeds that do not produce a harvest (Matthew 13:18-23)

This is where I should have camped out longer in the talk. If you and I are going to be faithful followers of Jesus who produce fruit, we can’t entertain worry, stress, and anxiety.

They are enemies to your soul!

1 Peter 5:6-8 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” You may have heard that you are to cast your cares onto Jesus, but Peter understood that anxiety and worry must be cast onto Jesus BECAUSE the enemy is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom is holding onto those seeds or worry and anxiety… Seems to me Peter is saying you are pray for the enemy when you let seeds of worry and anxiety live in your heart and mind. It’s like going camping, pitching your tent next to the warning sign about bears, and then cooking a good steak in the tent…

As I said yesterday, this is not to say that people don’t have real things to worry about, real things to be anxious over, real things that have happened to them causing them to have trouble in casting their cares on Jesus. But, if we see worry and anxiety as our enemy trying to break into our house and devour us… maybe just maybe it’s possible to slay this enemy once and for all! I know if my enemy wanted to come into my house and steal, kill, and destroy me and my family I’m going down in a blaze of glory! It’s either me or him, one of us will not make it out of that fight alive. The beauty of this metaphor is that we are not fighting alone. Jesus is with us. Jesus is willing to fight with us and for us! In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus doesn’t shy away from the fact that trouble and sorrow will find us, but He reminds us that He has overcome all of it for us, and if we walk with Him through it, we are over-comers! I’m living proof that you can walk through some of the most difficult territory and come out on the other side when Jesus is walking with you.

If you struggle with worry and anxiety, see to it that you call it what it is… it’s your enemy! It seeks to harm you and if something or someone seeks to harm you maybe it’s time to kick it out of your house!

Peace

The Waiting

pedestrian-wait-signAdvent – the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

Advent is a season of waiting on the coming of Christ… and this Sunday was the first Sunday in the season of advent on the Christian calendar. The next 3 weeks as we anticipate Christmas, we anticipate the day that God came down to rescue you and me, love came down to set us free!

Celebrating advent is all about celebrating the coming of the Messiah. Jesus was born as the incarnate Holy One… God in the flesh! So, as we wait to celebrate His birth this Christmas… We are celebrating the incarnation of the God of the universe.

This past Sunday we spent our gathering time as a church at The Family Support Center and I was reminded of something… The church is to be the NEW incarnation of God. God no longer is subject to the incarnation happening only 2000 years ago, He puts His life and spirit in us to be the incarnate son of God 24 hours a day and 7 days a week all over the world! Therefore, as we left the building this Sunday to be the incarnation of the true and living God to a world in need and God has called us to love and serve… I’d say we started the Advent season off perfectly.

As we wait in anticipation and celebrate His coming on that first Christmas… One Community Church became the love and presence of God to a village of women who need to see and feel the love of God.

Stay watchful this entire month as we continue to celebrate advent as a family waiting on Jesus to make his presence known in all the earth in and through His People, His Church! We no longer have to wait for Him to make an impact on the world, He wants to do just that through you and me!

Peace

Strange Fire Conference… or Just STRANGE!

Strange FireJohn MacArthur Slings Mud From His Pulpit at Charismatics.

While I respect his desire to get at the truth, and I believe he has many good things to contribute to the body of Christ, his latest crusade (actually this subject has always been on his radar) culminating in the Strange Fire Conference is a sad display in Christian apologetics and scholarship from John MacArthur. You can watch the talk he gives to kick off the conference as well as read articles on what was said here…

I won’t bore you with a lot of my own insights except to say that I think MacArthur and others have it all wrong. They have essentially lumped in all people who believe in the gifts of the spirit being active today into this pile of trash that I don’t believe everyone belongs in. Granted I feel like there are plenty of people in the charismatic movement who need to be rebuked and have some bad even destructive theology … but I certainly don’t believe this relates to everyone or the majority for that matter who would consider themselves a Charismatic believer. Here’s some of the mud-slinging. I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with his stance, his generalizations, and this conference. As I listened to some of the talks given, there was a lot of spiritual and biblical gymnastics going on because let’s face it… to deny the gifts of the spirit which are clearly active in the very bible he claims has no mistakes, you must explain away things or ignore those things exist in a large portion of the New Testament.

The strange fire tag of the conference comes from Leviticus 9 and 10 where people’s offerings are either accepted by God or not… those that have offering not accepted by God using “strange fire” are then consumed themselves and judged immediately by God… MacArthur says, “”What I’m talking about is the charismatic movement that offers to God unacceptable worship, distorted worship. It blasphemes the Holy Spirit. It attributes to the Holy Spirit even the work of Satan. People are caught up in it, deceived, led astray.” I guess Jesus had not entered the conversation yet… but let’s see what happens.

He starts with a “Blaspheming of the Holy Spirit” line of thinking. Basically saying that because what is manifest in the Charismatic movement is not from the Holy Spirit but Satan they are doing the unthinkable and blaspheming the Holy Spirit… even though the true definition of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing something that is from God to Satan and not the other way around. I find it interesting that a man so knowledgable of the scriptures is actually blinded to his own arrogance stating that this fact is “lost on them” referring to people who are not cessationists (meaning the gifts of the spirit ended when the last apostle died). Anyone in Utah think that sounds familiar!

MacArthur is in deed in danger of this blasphemy himself; he spent 15 minutes in his talk stating that anyone engaged in a church that teaches charismatic doctrine is engaged in, “Paganism, Satanism, and the Kingdom of Darkness.” PLEASE!

Is he allowed to disagree with the prosperity gospel and call out men and women who pray on the vulnerable with a false gospel… absolutely! Is he allowed to act like everyone not like him is wrong… nope! But that is exactly what he does in just about every doctrine and theology, and his tone wreaks of arrogance and pride.

He goes on to say that anyone who takes the Lord’s name in vain is in danger of this hell fire… last time I checked my salvation was found in Christ and not my own ability to keep all the commandments. Can you picture a non believer sitting in his service… they would be like I guess I have no shot in hell of making it to heaven so why even try.

BECAUSE HE’S GOT IT WRONG… YOU AND I DON’T TRY WE TRUST! 

His own doctrines of grace are trampled underfoot, and he now practices what I dare call idolatry with works based worship. He seems to indicate that we must work hard to be able to worship the Lord correctly, and if we don’t worship correctly we are in danger of being consumer by this angry God!

Sad his “doctrines of Grace” ONLY apply to pre-destined and elected salvation and not worship or living the way of Jesus in the kingdom of God here and now.

He goes on to arrogantly connect real worship to the reformed tradition. The real understanding of the gospel and proper doctrine lies within the reformed tradition according to MacArthur. The rest of us are basically in danger of missing God, even being consumed. Relying heavily on Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) as his mantra for believing that we need nothing but the bible to worship and follow Jesus. Then he says that the Charistmatics have not added anything to sound doctrine, or understanding of worship and caps that off stating, “The gospel is the reason they are saved… and they didn’t invent the gospel”. I’m not too sure what that has to do with anything but it didn’t make him sound smart or funny in my opinion.

I loved this quote (insert tongue into cheek), “the charismatic movement is loaded with non christians. People who are there for carnal reasons.” Because everyone who goes to his church has died to themselves and lives their lives totally unselfish and without carnal desires… the reformed churches he loves so much have none of these problems I’m sure : )

He also says, “Its success comes from its connecting to the kingdom of darkness. It’s the Trojan horse of evangelicalism in the city of God.”

Why do I write this?

The church has been missing the presence and contribution of the holy spirit for a long time. We have been taught by MacArthur and others to rely on sound doctrine and the preachers exposition MORE than we have been taught to personally follow the Holy Spirit in a daily relationship with Jesus. And frankly… I’m sick of it! People’s claim to sola scriptura flies in the face of how Jesus and The Holy Spirit have always interacted with people. Does it happen within the scriptures… YES! But is that the ONLY way… NO!

In fact the scriptures and our selfish arrogance can be a stumbling block, just ask the pharisees. “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

We can love the scriptures, and miss the ONE whom the scripture point us too!

I also write this because if you study the Holy Spirit (start in Acts 1 and read to chapter 4 and tell me that The Holy Spirit is not something that is manifested in people’s lives… to do so would require biblical gymnastics! Period!

I also write this because the Church is so good at pointing the finger from the inside out. We judge those outside of our walls because we find it so easy to judge those inside our walls. If we hate those in the camp, why would we love those outside of our camp?

Many in the reformed camp are not cessationists and one guy went to the conference to sell some books that might suggest a different route to the argument and was not received too well. Mark Driscoll actually went to the conference and tried to hand out his upcoming book and sign some for the conference attenders and he was stopped and the books were taken by the Strange Fire Conference army.

Driscoll Visits Strange Fire Conference

One last thought… Jesus said the world will know we are his disciples by our love for one another. I realize that false teaching should be addressed, but lumping everyone who believes in the gifts of the spirit being active today is not the answer nor is their biblical reasoning consistent with the rest of their theology. MacArthur himself states that “the bible means what it says”. To understand it is to read it and that the meaning of the scripture is what the scripture says.”

May the church rise up and see the Holy Spirit move in the lives of people all over the world and may we see Jesus lifted up so that He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32)

So, what say you?

Peace

Now That Was Church!

Each week we pray and we plan a service with the intention and goal that reads something like this… “We the people of OCC hope to encounter the true a living God today”. Different voices enter the conversation and sometimes those differences are noticed in the service. This last Sunday was no different in our preparation, but the results certainly appeared to be!

After a few moments in the worship time it became clear that if we continued with our plans, the results would not be what we hope for each week… so we went with it and made what seemed like necessary changes! This was a first for OCC, but I hope what happened was an encouragement and blessing to those in attendance. I hope you feel like the true and living God was present and able to move in the lives of everyone in attendance! While we don’t plan on those moments, we want to be the kind of place that is OK when it does happen… in fact I think most of the church felt like it was more than OK : )

But, a word of caution if I may. We can get so enamored by these times of worship that we feel like God is only present when they happen. I can assure you God’s promises of presence are still true and each week the church gathers because Jesus says when we gather together, He is with us. (Matt 18:20)

May we all pray that our gathering is met with His presence, because without His presence we are not the church. He is the head of the church and without Jesus we are not only missing the ability and function of our 5 senses, but the very nature of the God we desire!

See you Sunday!

Peace

Overcome…

This weekend at One Community Church was amazing… I was overcome with emotion… It was Easter… but that’s not the only reason I was overcome.

We did cardboard testimonies this weekend and several times I found myself emotional. Emotional because the people wrote some amazing things about who they used to be… An Addict, Fearful, Hateful, Prideful, Lonely… and overcome by who they had become in the wake of Jesus In their life… Addicted to God’s Grace, fulfilled by Christ, Full of Love, and the testimonies went on and on. When they walked off the stage after giving their testimonies, they placed the side describing who they used to be on the CROSS!

I was overcome because many of the people giving these testimonies have come so far in such a short period of time. The evidence of Jesus in their life is more than on a piece of cardboard… its on their hearts, its on their faces, and its in their hands and feet!!

I was overcome because I couldn’t be more proud than to call myself their brother in Christ, their friend, and their pastor.

I was overcome because Jesus didn’t just give us resurrection 2000 years ago… Jesus is in the business of resurrection and resurrection HAPPENS… and these people are living examples of resurrection!

May we all experience a resurrection today. Whatever your going through, failing at, worrying about… may you come to rest in the life and death of Jesus so that HE can bring the resurrection into your life and situation today!

Peace