Peace

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
Ephesians 2:17-18 NIV

peace2Are you experiencing peace today? Peace in your soul, peace in your heart, peace in your health, maybe peace in your everyday life? Jesus came and preached peace. To us that were far from God, Jesus brought peace. Stewing in the fog of chaos and sin, Jesus offered peace. He offered me the peace that begins with being right with God. I don’t owe him.

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I have a motorcycle. I put down a significant amount of money but I still owe the bank. There is a very real bondage that comes with owing someone something. Knowing the consequences of a debt not paid off. I found the same thing when I owed someone personally. Afraid of what this person could do. Afraid of the feeling that I could never pay it off. Not only was I struggling to reduce the principal, I found myself actually compounding the principal, not just the interest, in my attempts to fight my way out.

You see I was born a sinner. I was not born innocent as some well meaning but totally misinformed and/or delusional people would tell you. No, I was born with the nature to sin in my heart already there. Much like an apple is formed with an apple seed alreadyApple seeds in it. GUILTY BY BIRTH! My capacity to sin only grew as I grew. The more I sinned the more I became aware of sin. The debt I owed God couldn’t be offset or paid for by my good works or acts of kindness. I could never be good enough, or nice enough, or even give enough, to make up for the attitudes of my heart, the filth I was immersed in, or the sins I acted upon. Like a man cast into a raging sea, overwhelmed by the waves, drowning, I needed a rescuer: a savior.
I owed God!
In the midst of the ocean, as death threatened to swallow me and drag me down to the depths of the sea, God sent his son to do the one thing nobody else could do; save me from myself; my humanity.
I don’t know the actual or intrinsic value of the blood and body of a man that did in fact live a perfect life. The price for my life, the salvation of my soul for eternity, the peace that I need was found in having my debt to God cancelled. This is the “person” I owed: I was in ever increasing debt to God almighty.
Somehow, for some reason, he chose to love me enough to send his son to earth to be bloodied, beaten and viciously crucified for my debt. As a result I owe God nothing. passion-of-the-christ-nailNothing except the ever increasing love that I have for my savior. Nothing except the desire for intimacy and presence of the king of the universe. Though I have not seen him he has been very obvious and present in my life. Though I have not touched him, I have very clearly heard his voice and obedience is my act of reciprocal love. How can I not love him that endured so much for me?
His one request of me? Love.
Love my creator.
Love my enemy.
Love my family.
Love my friends.
Love those in need.
Love.
It isn’t easy, it isn’t always fruitful, but it is always the call from my savior. I fail, but thankfully his invitation is to get back up and try again. “Press on,” he said, “your going forth is sure.”
Do you have peace in your life? I mean is there peace when you wake up?
“Sin” in your life robs you of peace.
“Unsettled relationships” rob you of peace.
“Debt” robs you of peace
“Not knowing” steals your peace
Having faith that life has purpose and meaning, knowing that you can trust your future to God who is infinitely bigger than you, brings peace.
That peace is waiting on you through the free gift of God in the sacrifice of Jesus. He who had no sin became sin for all of us. Repent (stop doing things with the worlds wisdom, stop living for your own pleasure) and give God your life. (Read the Bible and then do the Bible as literally as possible) then watch things change as your life takes a new shape, the shape of peace.

 

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Keep running

 

SERIOUSLY? 4:30am?

4:30 am comes really early every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Actually, it comes too early. This week it was raining “like for real” on Wednesday so we got to skip. Why do I get up on MWF that early? To run. I know that on these days my friend Bruce is coming over. I know that I need to beat him to my driveway or he will leave without me and I will have to run alone. It is a choice. Every day that he is coming I have a choice to make. Roll over or get up and start stretching.

running-shoes-02Bruce and I spend about 45 minutes running 3.4 miles on these days. When my alarm goes off I hate Bruce. Not really, but man I wish he could just run those miles by himself and I would get the benefit from them.

It is probably good that my alarm clock was made by Apple and is also my phone. I set my 6S to a “descending harp” to try to not wake my wife. If all of this was not so, I would have destroyed the alarm a long time ago. But since it is not a $20 alarm clock from Walmart, I am very careful. It is bad enough to buy running shoes and insoles for running shoes; I don’t need to buy a new phone because of this running thing.

Why do you do this?

Someone asked me today why I do it. Well, 4:30 is because I want to run with Bruce. Bruce is good for my soul. Bruce is both a metaphor for Barnabas, “the son of encouragement,” and the Holy Spirit. As we run, (not sprint, more than jog) we talk. Bruce is deep and human at the same time. He cares enough to say the truth and he loves enough to lift me up. I hope I do the same for him. As a pastor this is so important to my soul. He allows me to rant and rave and run. He lets me laugh and cry and wonder. He reminds me of truth and pulls me back when my heart is assuming something wrongly.

Just keep running!

As we run we have a 1.1+ miles course around our housing community. It has hills and flats and is really a nice loop. We run it two to three times depending upon the morning. The first loop is the hardest, then it gets a little easier. As we pass my house for the second time there is no going back so it’s three!

my-houseI can see my house from the other side of the community since it’s a bit of a draw down in to the housing development. As I get to a certain spot, I see the lights, four white dots and the front porch light way across the way. Each time I get to that spot, I think, “I’m almost there, I can do this.” As we run, Bruce will say, “We just need to run to that light up there.” Or, “Just to the white mailbox” Or, “We can run to the truck or the white sign what ever you want.” But we keep moving forward. Then we get to the spot where I see my house. It’s actually a little less than half way to the house from there.

I’m reminded of heaven this morning as I was running. I’m 56 years old this year and I am doing this for my health. I don’t always like it. As a matter of fact, I‘m actually an addict. Yes, I am a pillow addict. If I weren’t this would not be so hard. I want to stay on my pillow! I don’t like doing things that are good for me. I would rather take advantage of my body; feed it donuts, sit on the couch, ride my motorcycle, go to dinner. I would rather do anything than suffer the pain of making my body smaller. But I see the lights.

I made a decision in 1977 to surrender my life to Jesus. Not “accept” him, but “surrender” to him. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect, or “holier than thou,” no, what I am saying is I am part of the family of the King of the Universe and he loves me enough to die for me. Because of that decision on his part, and my decision on my part, I keep running in step with him. And when I do fall, I get back up; I don’t want to end up on the proverbial couch again.

As I am going through this life I look across time and I see the lights of my home: heaven. Those lights say to me, “Keep running you are almost there.” The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear, “Keep running, it is all worth it, just run until tonight.” Then tomorrow he says, “Just run until tonight again.” And because of that, we run together and each day gets me one step closer to home. Each day the running gets easier.

My house is a home

my-living-roomWhen I get home from running with Bruce, I walk into a home. I ran to a house, but I walk into a home. The house is the structure; the home is what my wife has made it. The house draws me; the home welcomes me. Honestly when I think of Jesus preparing a place for me, I don’t think house or mansion like so many do, I think “HOME.” He made me a home; a place to come in and crash, a welcoming place that is safe, and protects me, and is where I belong.

Paul wrote to the Hebrews,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”                    Hebrews 12:1

Keep running friend, just to the lights.

That Andy Stanley!!

LET’S MAKE A MESS

Ok, Let’s see what I can do here. I have made some messes in my life so I think I am img_8534qualified to screw this up with my opinion as well.

I was recently asked about my opinion of an on going discussion of Andy Stanley’s comments concerning the Bible, more specifically a blog response (as kind as it was) to Andy’s sermon.

“Preparation H” is not for Oral use

I think I would start with something as rare as straight up common sense. Common Sense, you remember what that was right? Maybe? Vaguely? (Your grandma can tell you what it is go ask her or another adult over 50.) If not then you are the reason they had to put “Not meant for oral use on the “Preparation H” tube; a medicine meant for your rectum (another word you may have to look up.) “Caution contents are HOT” on the HOT coffee that you just ordered because you wanted a HOT breakfast drink.

There was NO Bible

So how does this play into the Andy Stanley discussion? Common sense tells us that the Bible was canonized in one form by Marcion in circa 140ad, then the Apostolic cannon began to be common in the third century. There appears to be at least, at least 110-170 years from Jesus until anyone created a “Bible” to carry and quote from. Now, Paul’s letters were floating around, and some of the others as well. (What we call “Books” of the New Testament) But lets be honest, very, very few people had access to these writings. So the “Bible” was not the reason for salvation. It was not the cornerstone for Salvation; oral tradition was. The main point of the oral tradition was the fact they shared that God resurrected Jesus from the dead. It is a historically written fact that he was seen by the disciples, and then by more than five hundred other people. (1 Cor 15:6)

This is common sense based upon chronology and fact. People came to a salvation knowledge of Jesus as their Lord and Savior before there was ever a Bible. Period. Thousands upon thousands of people; not just a few.

Peter preached experience

Peter stands up in Acts 2 and thousands get saved after he preaches and quotes a scripture from Jewish tradition. He doesn’t expound on the Scripture, he uses it to reference what is happening in Jerusalem. Then he preaches what they experienced for 3 plus years, and people repented and got baptized.

Jesus frees the Gadarene demonic in Luke 8:26-39. When Jesus goes to leave, this man wants to be his disciple and come with him. Jesus denies the man and tells him to go home and TELL people what Jesus did for him. He didn’t “Sunday school” the man, he didn’t give him a Bible, he didn’t teach him “Seven spiritual Laws” or tell him how to do a proper exegesis of scripture. He sent him with the mission to share his story: oral tradition. People got saved, I am sure, because of this man’s testimony that God healed him through Jesus.

Common sense people.

Now that there are not people with their own first century experience with Jesus telling us their stories, I believe that God saw to it that the Bible was canonized. Canonized by men? Absolutely. Men who are broken themselves? Yes! But God is God and God can see to it that this Word is exactly what he expects, even if Balaam’s Ass had written it! (get off your high horse, that’s an Asian animal, look that up as well)

So?

So if you are asking me, I have no problem with what Pastor Stanley said in this sermon. Accepting Jesus’ words as a child does not include all of the “things” we do to split the theological hairs of the Bible. My faith is in Jesus Christ and God’s resurrection of his Son after he sacrificed himself for me. In the bread, my sins are paid for. In the blood I have been given a NEW COVENANT and welcomed back into the family. I am a child of God with or with out a written document. I do not “believe” just because the Bible says so. I believe this because it is the truth. I was “told it” before I ever “read it” for myself. I am glad God had someone record it so I can keep studying it. But if there were no Bible, I would still believe, just like the thousands upon thousands that believed before the Bible was written AND/OR canonized.

The Bible is not the problem

While I do think that we are moving quickly into a post Christian culture, I don’t see the problem affirming that I have a document (the Bible) that helps remind me of the teachings of the Christ. This is no different than any religion or government, or company bylaws that exist today. Unlike Andy Stanley, I do not believe that today’s young people are writing off the Bible (though there will always be some that need to prove every dot and every tittle), no, the detriment that is coming out of the Christian church, causing this generation to “write off” (sorry about that pun) the Bible, is the Christians lack of adherence to it themselves.

Christian people are killing the church

The Church teaches Jesus but then turns around and ignores that parts they don’t want to live and die for. The church rationalizes Jesus teachings to fit their comfort, convenience and cash. The very Christians that are crying out against Andy Stanley, are they the same ones that won’t go into missions, won’t tithe and give generously, won’t love their enemies and won’t die for the cause of Christ, instead they kill for their Bible culture. Are these the same people that read Malachi and then divorce their spouses for all the non-biblical reasons they can come up with? As if “I’m not happy” or “I deserve better than this” is why Jesus died?

When the church repents, the world will take Jesus seriously.

The resurrection supersedes the Bible. Paul’s letter to Timothy in 2Timothy 3:16 is a reference to what we today call the Old Testament. The New Testament wasn’t written people. I do believe it was prophetic though, speaking of the Bible to come.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I believe this. I am glad for the record. The Bible is God’s Word to us, it is consistent and allows us to “recalculate” our lives.

God raised Jesus from the dead, THAT truth is why I am a follower of Christ,  I heard it through the Bible.

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO NEGATIVE?

negative attitudesI found this meme on Facebook today and I had to stop and process it. There is so much truth here. I interact with people that would rather keep doing the very same toxic things, interact with the same toxic people and spew the same toxic rhetoric and then try to sell me on the idea that they are not being negative.

  1. Do you always start your answer with why something cannot be done, or why you can’t do it, or all the problems that have to be met; therefore it is impossible?

With all due respect, you are a negative person.

  1. Do you see someone’s faults before you see their value? You are a negative person.
  2. Do you find yourself throwing jabs at people that succeed? You may be a negative person.
  3. Is it easier to talk about someone in a derogatory manner than to inspire and encourage him or her? You may find that you are a negative person.
  4. When things don’t go the way you want them to go, or when people don’t do what you want them to do, do you walk out? You are a negative person.
  5. When you don’t get the spotlight or the microphone do you talk to other people about other people? You are a negative person.
  6. Do you threaten and intimidate people to get them to do the things that you think are good for them, right for them? You are not just negative, you are toxic.

It is crazy how much negativity is out there in our world today. I see the fear mongering, and hate mongering and race mongering all over social media. Every day we get up and we read toxic reports and watch toxic media about how bad things really are and it breeds to life this little cloud that follows you around all day and then we wonder why we are so depressed.

DON’T BELIEVE SOCIAL MEDIA!

Shoot, if I am to believe what I see in social media:

– Texas is about to become the proving ground for a new world order when President Obama launches the military against the nation.
– There is nothing more important in the news today than a man who chose to be a woman.
– You are about to get carjacked for stopping to see what’s in the middle of the road.
– Everyone, I mean everyone, is after your electronic identity.
– Apparently the absolute worst thing that could happen to you is that your testosterone level could fall out the bottom and you might not be interested in sex like an 18 year old at college.
– Everyone needs a handgun strapped because everyone is about to have their handgun taken away.
– The sky is falling.

How much negativity can you take? I wonder when it is that we begin to see the truth and choose to make a difference. There is a lot of good going on in the world.

THERE REALLY IS A LOT OF GOOD.

There are many stories like this that need to be pushed to show the world that great things are in fact happening.

Globally:

Ocean _ Cleanup 2I read an article about a young man that is trying to clean up the ocean and has a way that the ocean can do almost all the work. It is a joy to see that this young man, only 19 years of age, has come up with this and people are getting behind it. It is very sad that it is not all over social media.

Locally:

Police helpThere are countless articles from all over small town America of Police officers making a difference in people’s lives: from playing basketball with young people, to bringing food to the home of a person suffering dementia and everything in between. No one is lauding this very loudly. Too positive?

On Facebook:

Don’t even get me started on the dogs that choose to love on little kittens, pitbulls loving on catseven the dogs are being positive!!

Look around you for the positive that is going on.

Change your mindset and you will change your world. Let “YES” be the word that leads you, let “Yes I can” be the phrase that carries you to new heights. When people believe that they can, they don’t stop trying. When people are encouraged, they try harder.

Today choose to be an encourager. Listen you the words coming out of your mouth and choose to be positive.