Why are you so surprised?

beggar's hand

In Acts chapter three Luke opens with Peter and John on their way up to the place of prayer. It is three in the afternoon and they go up they pass a beggar on the street. He is a crippled beggar. He was placed there every day by his friends. He was crippled from his birth and this was his everyday life. No fancy engineering made him a motorized wheel chair. He was hand carried everyday to this spot. It is awesome that he had friends, and that he had friends that would do that for him. Every day he sat there and needed a hand out and as Peter and John approached, this was just an ordinary day, they were just two guys heading up to the Temple, to the place of prayer. He launched into his spiel: “Hey buddy can you spare a dime?” “Hey man could you give a guy a hand up?” “Sir, could I bother you for some change, I’m so hungry?” Peter and John stopped, Peter called to the cripple, “Look at me” he said, and then, in the name of Jesus Christ, he healed the man instead of giving him what he was expecting. Changed the whole course of this man’s life! Of course this caused an uproar in the community, and with the newly healed man clinging to him physically, they entered the Temple gates. The crowd was growing and talking and jabbering and Peter shushed them all and spoke: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?”

 There’s the question

What a powerful question. “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?” I am so surprised to read Peter asking this question. What do you mean why does this surprise us? It’s AWESOME!!!!!! It’s fantastic, nobody did this yesterday, or the day before, but today this guy was healed and it is awesome. And yet, Peter is caught off guard and asks the question. I think Peter is at a place where this is pretty common. I wonder if like John (who wrote the book of John), Luke could say of the disciples,“[they] did many other things a well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Peter is used to this kind of thing. Jesus told them they would do what he did and even greater things than this, and he meant it. (John 14:12) So, to them these greater things were “normal.”

LAST WEEK

21 martyred

Last week 21 “Christians” were killed because of their faith. I do not know, nor do I judge, the truth of their faith, I take it at face value. In those parts of the world the word Christian can be as much a political term as it is a testimony. They were definitely killed it would appear. Facebook was in an uproar. I also posted the names of these men on my own site as means of recognizing and honoring their faith. As I watched all the people that say they themselves are Christians post their posts, some Christ centered most political, I wanted to post Peter’s question. “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?”

Jesus made a statement that told us of things that were to come.

Matthew 24:9-14 (NIV)

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

He also said in

Luke 21:16 (NIV)

16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

These days are unfolding upon us and even escalating around the globe. And it appears that we have been more interested in gaining a gospel of comfort, a gospel of convenience, a gospel of prosperity, rather than a gospel of sacrifice. We all want revival, but we want it on our terms, with more stuff and bigger houses and jobs and wealth. Jesus said the invitation was to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. That’s a hard teaching.

10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 

Many will reject Christ outright. His gospel isn’t comfortable. They will fall away because of the cost, and yet these 21 men stayed faithful until the end. Our lives are temporal upon this earth; it is not our home. We are renters, sent as ambassadors, to share the truth of our King, regardless of the cost to us. He is the Prince of Peace: of Peace the Bible says.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

These 21 sacrifices should not surprise a real Christian; our Lord said it would happen. It should make us sad, reflective, but God help us, it should cause us to consider their sacrifice and get to work. We are so busy fighting over the stupid stuff of life instead of sacrificing for the kingdom that the enemy doesn’t have to do much to thwart “christian” people from their mission.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

Hebrews 10:38-39 (NIV)

38 And,“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Will you live out your life for the kingdom so that this is the question you ask of the world : “Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

Will you live out your life for the kingdom so that this is the question you ask:

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

We should be busy enough that the world does this to us as well. What excuse do we have who know no persecution in this country, to be amassing wealth that will not go to heaven, at the expense of the people who could be: but for our invitation?

Controllers and Batteries

We have these controllers in our house all over the place. You might refer to them as “The Remote”, to us they are lovingly referred to as, “The Flippy Dippy”, as in, “Hey honey, where’s the flippy dippy, I need to watch the news?” We have a flippy Remote_Controlsdippy, for the tv’s, the DVD player, the Blue Ray player, I have one for my laptop, the garage door and even for the auto start for my truck. Who’d a thunk it? Our lives are run and controlled by these flippy dippies. And heaven help you if you lose the flippy dippy, as Sheldon Cooper might say, “You are now up the proverbial slow-moving aquifer in a buoyant craft and no shaped wooden means of propulsion.” You will also notice in turn, the flippy dippy is controlled by these batteries that come in all shapes and sizes. I am totally bewildered, that the makers who make things that make our lives easier can’t all get together and make things more streamlined, more standardized. You know, like only one kind of battery. (I actually know it isn’t possible but this is my blog and my dream. These are my monkeys get your own circus.) As a result of all the flippy dippies and all the different requirements, I have to keep a stash of all kinds of batteries. 9 volt square keep the smoke detectors working, AA little skinny ones keep most of the flippy dippies working, AAA if I want to play games with my imaginary friends, as my wife calls them. And then, I even own a thing or two that takes two flat discs of a battery, and I don’t even know what to call them.

As I stare at the battery that controls the flippy dippy, I see there is a positive end and a negative end. I know, electrically speaking, it takes both ends to make it work, but it got me to thinking TWO thoughts.

     FIRST, we all have controllers in our lives and we have to pick and choose which one we will “use”. The more controllers we have the crazier life is, the fewer controllers we have the better life is. Did you know that you can go to the store and get a universal remote and it can control a lot of stuff in your house? It really would be great if we had only ONE controller. (are you listening to me you People Who Make Things?) Stop for a second and think it through; if you only had one controller in your life would it not be much simpler? Thinking beyond your material possessions, how many potential controllers do you have in your life? I would list things like church, marriage, jobs, culture, circumstances, other people … You get it right?

Growing up I was so afraid of people that my desire to hide from them was a controller. Then as I began to grow out of my shell, my desire to be liked began to control me.

Sin became a controller

Religion become a controller

Then shame became a controller

Success became a controller

The need for Attention can be a controller

All of these things can direct your path. They can keep you from being able to do anything, or accomplishing anything. Sooner or later you need to strip it down to one universal controller. Just one. (just go with the metaphor) You need to decide what you will let be the real controller in your life. While I struggle against my own flesh, I have decided that the ONE controller in my life controllerwill be God and my desire to hear him one day say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I really don’t care much what other people think. Not arrogantly, just matter of fact. God is my Father and my biggest fan.

So, how many controllers do you have? Think about that for a while, let it simmer and process it out in your own life. With all due respect, who or what is your controller? (if you need a hint, look at your checkbook or spending register, that’s a good clue)

Decide today that it doesn’t matter what others think, that God and his word can be your only controller. You were uniquely created by a Father that loves you desperately even when you feel alone, and in the dark, and scared. He is still calling your name softly. Whispering loving encouraging words. Listen to him.

Galatians 6:4-5 (NIV)

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.

The SECOND thought, as if this wasn’t already long enough for a blog is, are you being controlled by the negative end of your battery or the positive end?

In the controller of your life is it the positive end you live from or the negative end?

This world is tough enough without the Naysayers and the negativity sellers trying to provide the power to your controller. Even in the church. As a pastor you kind of get to know who they are. When you are having a meeting they are the first people to say, “We can’t do that!” Nothing has been checked, nothing has been researched and yet they start the conversation with, “That can’t be done!” I was at a conference at Fellowship Church in Arlington, Texas one year, Ed Young was speaking and he
was talking about wanting to do a series on loneliness. His sanctuary seats 3-4,000 I think and he wanted to bring a 747 Jetliner into the sanctuary. So he posed a question to his Creative Team: “How can we get a 747 in the Sanctuary?” Immediately someone said, “You can’t do that, it isn’t big enough.” I believe he told us that this person no longer works for Fellowship Church. Negative people are always telling you what cannot be done and why you won’t succeed, and how it isn’t going to work. They don’t often make a positive suggestion as a result of being creative. Positive people are looking for a way to make it work even if it isn’t in the original form. (Ed Young and Fellowship Church succeeded with Video and atmosphere where they couldn’t with an actual jet.)
What do you do with the negative people in your life? Sooner or later you have to decide if they are going to control you. Are they your controller? If So, you have to walk away, even if they are family. Negative can quickly become TOXIC and that is an altogether different blog.

Growing up there were two incidences in my life that “controlled me” and the path of my life. (Apart from Jesus making good out of the bad in my life I mean) They were small, very negative, and inconsequential from the outside. They were bigger than Goliath on the inside, and I ran from them instead of challenging them. The first was my desire to be a Veterinarian. I love animals, science, biology specifically and I think I would have been a great Vet. Really. But I was told I wasn’t from the right family. I was told that the governor or something would have to sign off on me and we weren’t from that “class” of people. To this day I can remember where I was and how that hit me. It was straight up negative, negativity with NO positive challenge to take on the world or overcome. Right there and then I grieved that loss and moved on. Fast-forward three or four years and I was sitting in the living room trying to teach myself the guitar. Someone who should have been my biggest supporter walked through the room and all they said was, “You want to know what your problem is, you don’t have any rhythm.” I sold the guitar the next day to a guy at work. That was the negative end of the battery right there. I was 17 and had no dreams of being a rock and roll star, just wanted to learn something creative. 20 some years later I was inspired by an up and coming guitar player to recapture that dream and I did. I’m no Carlos Santana, but Jesus and I have a good time.

neon-yes1Paul told the church in 2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (NIV)

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.

And again Jesus said in Luke 17:20

“But while [the prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

God is your biggest fan, listen to him encourage you as he says, “Yes.”

I HAVE TWO DOGS BUT ONLY ONE GOD

I HAVE TWO DOGS BUT ONLY ONE GOD

Anyone that knows me has to know I have two dogs. I love my dogs, they are amazing creatures and loyal friends. They are funny and fun, crazy and at times they can be very frustrating, but they are always there for me.

Birthday love 3

AVA and BOOMER

My female Rottweiler’s name is Ava and my male is named Boomer. They both came from a wonderful kennel out in California. Not litter mates but kennel mates two years apart. Bred for disposition, beautifully encompassing the AKC standard of a “Rottie,” they are an incredibly misunderstood breed. They are great family members and very friendly dogs. Ava has attained her Canine God Citizen Certificate and Therapy Dog would be next, she also pulls a cart for exercise and fun. My grandchildren love to ride in the cart up and down the street. Boomer, the big goober, is one good left turn from completing all the requirements for the “CGC” certificate. He is young and that’s another topic we can learn about, but later.

Ava Carting

I can learn a lot about God from my dogs.

Through the years I have learned a lot about God through my relationship to dogs. Like the time I was trying to process hearing the voice of God. Like a puppy, we run to our master and we are excited to be near him in worship, prayer time, but we don’t really have a clue what he is saying or what he means. Then over the years of being in his presence, we come to an understanding: his voice, his unction, and his gesture. You can talk to a grown dog of yours and based upon your gestures he will respond. Based upon your voice inflections the dog will or won’t respond. Based upon volume your dog will or won’t respond. Our relationship to God is like that. The more we get to know him, the more the little nuances of his person communicate his intention to us. The easier it is to understand the voice we have been seeking. As a puppy, not so much.

When I am trying to understand obedience.

IMG_2086

Ava likes to chase a red rubber ring, Boomer on the other hand only chases Ava. Boomer will chase a green tennis ball, but Ava will only chase Boomer after he gets to it. Eventually they both will bring me their individual toy with the other in tow. The nonsense starts when they go racing to the bottom of the hill full tilt and then smell a rabbit, or have to pee or what ever and then they forget where the toy went. They are dogs, I throw the ball, and they fetch it, that’s how it works. It all falls apart when they don’t listen. When they won’t bring me the ball or the ring. I do that to God sometimes too. He sends me to do something and I get distracted by the world, fame, importance, and material possessions, really I am as susceptible as anyone else to the things of this world. I get distracted and forget what he sent me to do or fail to remember where I put God’s ball. Then one time Boomer went after the ball, got half way back and remembered he had to pee again. So he dropped the ball, which rolled down hill and he promptly peed on the ball. Well I can assure you he wasn’t going to do his job with a soiled ball in his mouth. How many times have I peed on God’s ball and then complained to God?

If they aren’t going to be obedient then the party is over

Dogs are pack animals and they need to be family members. They understand the concept of hierarchy but they will fight for position. They can learn quickly where they fit and what their role is, but if they aren’t going to engage, then the party is over. They will thrive when they are encouraged and praised and feel a deep sense of accomplishment. The very first time I put Ava in a harness and hooked her up to the cart it terrified her. That thing behind her was rattling and bouncing and following real close. But once she realized that I put it there and it was a good thing she pulled it famously. When we were all done ( 20 minutes worth) I praised her lavishly and she was beaming. She did it. She was so proud! That obedience, even when I don’t understand the new thing God is doing, that’s the party! Disobedience means the party is over. We need to understand that with God obedience is not an option. He expects us to bring back the ball. He expects us to pull the cart. He expects us to do our part and when we do, life is in rhythm.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

God is the master; he isn’t yielding his throne to anyone else. God and God alone. So, what is it that God is asking of you? Did you drop the rubber ring? Did the world distract you? Did you pee on God’s ball? You are not too old, too young, too short, too tall, too male, too female, to be in the game with God. I want to encourage you to reengage.