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Monthly Archives: May 2007

Tearing Down that Old Barn…

barnBefore you go any further, you need to read Galatians 2 (Click the Link) I have really enjoyed by time reading through all Paul’s letters to the various churches.  I have been blessed by the depth he brings to life and encouraged by the revelations of his humanity.

Galatians 2 is such and important passage of scripture for understanding the foundations of Christian life.  Paul talks about his life before Jesus as a “law man”.  He pursued doing good as the path to righteousness and the path to God.  Yet even as one of the most law abiding Pharisees, Paul realized that relying on his own goodness would never lead him to God!  Yet 2,000+ years later, so many of us Christians still don’t get this.  I include myself in this.  Maybe I am the only one…  I still catch myself thinking things like, if I just do this right or please God in this way then he will pour out favor on me.  How ridiculous is that?  Deep down we all know how “good” we are.  And because you know how “good” you are and I know how “good” I am it should be obvious to us how much we need Jesus.  Listen to what Paul says…

 Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

Let’s stop re-building that old barn dilapidated barn and start building on the rock!

be blessed…
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2007 in Devotional Thoughts

 

Alive in Christ, Strengthened by God…

World in HandDuring Paul’s latter dealings with the church in Corinth he had this to say to them: “We weren’t much to look at, either, when we were humiliated among you, but when we deal with you this next time, we’ll be alive in Christ, strengthened by God. “ -2 Corinthians 13:4

As I read that this morning, I began thinking about what it truly means to be “alive in Christ” and “strengthened by God”.  The mentioning of being alive is in and of itself and illusion to the death that loomed above us before the victory of Christ on the cross.  When Paul speaks of life here, he isn’t merely speaking of some morning vigor felt on a fresh, crisp morning.  He is speaking directly to the fundamental truth that death once loomed overhead for us.  But as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?  It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!”  Isn’t this awesome?  It encourages me to live this life to the fullest…

And don’t forget, it says that we can be strengthened by God.  Do you realize what that is saying?  The most powerful being in the universe is going to impart strength unto you!  I always have to laugh a little when people speak of America as a “super power”.  There are those in the world that believe they hold ultimate power because they have military strength, or the perfect bomb.  Their strength is nothing next to God’s!!!  So be encouraged today that the God of all power and strength wants to impart unto you his strength!

be blessed…
pastorj

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

So You Had A Bad Day?

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/11417753/view]
Click PLAY button for some listening music…

Frustrated“I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.” – 2 Corinthians 11:23-37

Well, I don’t want to minimize anyone’s pain (I have had my share), but – WOW – when I read about what Paul endured for the sake of the cross of Christ, I am amazed and humbled.  I don’t have much of a devotional thought today, but just read this text and ask the Lord to minister to you…

be blessed
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2007 in Devotional Thoughts

 

Love Can Be Tough…

HeartAnyone who thinks that true love in Christ is always flowery, joyful and filled with happiness has obviously never read 2 Corinthians 11:1-15  I was taken aback by Paul’s outright criticism of the personal handling he received from the church in Corinth.  It reminded me of some thoughts I have had on this subject in the past.  It seems that much of what the church is preaching when it pertains to love today, is quite watered down from what I read in scripture…

Let me say it this way.  If we truly love one another, occasionally we are going to have to speak a tough word of rebuke or correction.  I know that you all know this, but love is NOT an emotion.  It is not a feeling to fall into and out of.  It is an action.  It is a decision.  When you choose to love someone, you are taking on a mantle of responsibility, not emotion.  You are saying, I am going to value this person, care for them and look out for their best interest.  And sometimes that means warning them of the traps they are either about to walk into or already standing in…

But be careful!  I have also seen this abused and not done in a Christ-like way.  In fact, one could easily use “tough love” as an excuse to be overly critical or speak into things that God never asked them to speak into.  Tough love is not an excuse for us to be the Holy Spirit in one another’s lives!  So how do we tell the difference?  The only way to love like Christ is to have the mind of Christ.  We have to seek after HIS wisdom in these things.  Don’t speak too hastily, but don’t be so afraid that you never speak…

be blessed
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

The best defense…

Demolition“The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.” -2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (The Message)

Did you ever see the movie, “Stranger than Fiction” starring Will Ferrell?  In one part of the movie, Harold Crick (played by Ferrell) is sitting in his apartment watching television when all of a sudden a huge wrecking claw comes crashing through his back wall!  After some frantic yelling, he gets the wrecking crew to stop.  A brief exchange between Harold and the wrecking crew reveals that they showed up at the wrong address!  Could you imagine?  A wrecking ball crashing through the wall of your home!  Yet sometimes in the church we do that very thing…

In the context of the above scripture, Paul is defending himself against some baseless attacks from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I believe that the text above was meant to remind us who exactly we should be tearing down.  Yet even that is a difficult thing for some in the body of Christ to get their minds around.  We are actually called to destroy and tear down – not each other – but rather we are called to demolish the “corrupt culture”.  We have “powerful God tools” that will discredit and demolish everything this fallen world builds their lives upon.

So how do we do this?  Well, don’t use the tools of the world – remember use your “God tools”!  How did Paul do it?  How did Jesus do it?  I could tell you, but how about you read it for yourself…  But above all, remember that these tools are not for tearing one another down, they are for the destruction of those things that set themselves against Christ and His Kingdom…

be blessed
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

The Timing of the Lord

TimingToday I have less of a devotion and more of a thought.  God’s timing is perfect.  I know I am not saying anything new, but God really blessed me in my personal devotion time today and I just wanted to give him praise for that this morning.  I have been really seeking after the Lord’s heart in some certain matters and it seems that at every turn He is ready to give me the answers I need in the time and season I need them in.

Luke 11:9 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  The more I know the Lord, the more I understand His deep desire to have a relationship with us.  And when you have a relationship with someone, you have interaction.  Sometimes I just want to hang out with God.  But sometimes I have some deep concerns that weigh on me.  No matter what it is I seek, friendship, solace, or answers, He is ready willing and able to be my provider – to be your provider.

I know this is an old drum to be beating, but if you don’t have a personal time with the Lord, please make time for one.  It is a place where I get more than I ever give.  And most of all, it is a place that I grow closer to the one who gave me all that I have…

be blessed
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2007 in Devotional Thoughts

 

Back from Texas, Glad to be Home

Texas LogoWell, God may have “blessed Texas with His own hands” as the song goes, but I sure am glad to be back home in Michigan.  For those of you who didn’t know, I was in Frisco, Texas these past few days at a conference for my new church job in Kalamazoo.  I was blessed that the leadership team decided to send me down at the last moment.  I learned a lot that I believe will really help me to do the job of assimilation with excellence.

As having to go out of town goes, it was a pretty nice setup.  The conference was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center of Frisco.  We stayed in the hotel as well, and if you have never stayed in an Embassy Suites then you need to try it at least once before you die!  It was also good to get to know some of my fellow laborers in the ministry on a more casual level.  I walked away from the weekend with a renewed understanding of how much the Lord has blessed Amy and I by putting these kinds of people into our lives.  I can already see how the Lord is going to use events like this to mold and grow us into the people he wants us to be.

Well, I sure did miss my family and my friends.  I am glad to be home, and Pat, we’ll definitely catch up this week.

be blessed…
-pastorj

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2007 in General, Ministry, Personal Life