Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mark 10 / Aug 1 - just being rich doesn't cut it

Do you ever get to feeling like people who have money must have it all? Like somehow they are special or have some divine connection? Well, that is exactly how the disciples felt. In fact, in those days if you had $ it meant that God was really happy with you. So, it was thought that the rich were better people... now, imagine you believe that and Jesus says to you, "it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." WHAT!? What chance do I have if the rich have a hard time!

Jesus goes on to say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Now, perhaps like me you are sitting in front of your computer with a sewing needle in one hand and a camel in the other... okay, just so there is not confusion I'm talking about a real camel, not "Joe Camel." How can a camel go through a needle? Not possible, unless the camel is a real camel, and the eye of a needle is the small door that existed in the large doors that would be locked at dark in the city wall to keep out invaders. Ah Ha! you say.

The eye of the needle was in fact a small door that would require those who were coming into the safety of the city to get off their camels and have their camels get on their knees and literally crawl through the small door. It was difficult, but not impossible. But in the mind of the disciples, if it was difficult for the rich to enter heaven it would be impossible for them, poor, unschooled men to enter heaven. I think at this point Jesus is seen just shaking His head going, "well, what is impossible with men is possible with God."

Look, it doesn't matter how much money you have, if you don't have Jesus, you've got nothing that is going to help you when it counts.

So why is it hard for the rich to enter heaven? Because with money can come the thought that you can have or get whatever you want. There's no need for God because you don't have to have faith that you will have the money to pay the rent. You don't need to pray the car will start cause your new Benz runs just fine. It's not impossible, it's just more difficult.

Today we might say, it's easier to vacuum the floor so well that even the Kirby man with his "special" vacuum wont find any dirt, than for a rich man to enter heaven.

Get to vacuuming!

Okay, Serious for a second. I have a lead pastor friend who is going through some really difficult times and had a big meeting last night with the supporting church eldership. I'm not sure what the outcome of this last week will be but I'm sure he and his family would covet your prayers. As a pastor I understand what a huge part of yourself goes into each sermon, each program, each idea. And when you plant a church it's a part of you that goes into it. Now he may be struggling with what the future holds and whether it will be best for the Kingdom for him to step away from what he has worked so hard to bring into reality. Now, he and I both know that unless God wants it to grow, to survive and thrive it will never happen, but that doesn't mean that you don't put your own blood, sweat and tears into it. So, please say a prayer for my friend and his family and Christ's church that he leads. thanks.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mark 9 / July 31 - whose right?

Have you ever wondered why there are so many different churches? I have heard that there are over 50 different kinds of baptist church (and there not the only ones). In fact, depending on who you talk to, the Independent Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ all started out as the same church. Why are the so many, when in the beginning there was only one? Here's the truth.

From the first verse of this chapter there are several different views you could take. Here is the first verse and Jesus says that "some" will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.

Alright, first: how many is some?
second: what is the definition of "taste death"?
third: what is the kingdom of God coming with power?

Okay, depending on who you ask there could be several interpretations of this passage.

First: In verses 2-7 "some" of the disciples saw a bright light and all of the sudden Moses and Elijah were there talking to Jesus and then a voice, presumably that of God (powerful) said, "this is My Son, listen to Him." So, this "transfiguration" showing Jesus' as He was before His earthly birth, could be the Kingdom of God coming with power.

Second: the Kingdom of God coming with power could also be a reference to Acts 2:1-4 When the Holy Spirit comes "in power"? and the disciples begin to speak in other languages as they usher in the earthly Kingdom of God (in the Christian age).

Third: is it possible that some of them who were there with Jesus would not die until Jesus comes back the second time and the Kingdom of God "comes with power"?

Each of these options has been suggested as a possible resolution to the Kingdom of God coming with power from today's text. And, as silly as it seems, that is the reason there are so many different churches. Each person/group has a different opinion and each believes that their opinion is the right one. So, this group breaks off from that group and soon we have hundreds of churches that all worship the same God (well, many of them anyway) but have a different take on what His Word says.

Now the bottom line. Real Life is not the only church and we aren't the only Christians, but we do want to strive to be Christians only. I don't want to make anyone think that we've got it all together or are always right...the truth is we are and will make mistakes in both theology and practice but we will always strive to do the Biblical things in Biblical ways, while always trying to use every opportunity and option to reach those who are unchurched or underchurched with the hope of Real Life in Jesus Christ.

We want to connect with people and connect people to Jesus.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mark 8 / July 30 - back to the glass...

What category do you fit into? The glass half full or half empty? You've heard this over and over but I want you today to apply it to God.

Here's what got me thinking about this; verses 2-4 start the process. Jesus is remarking about how unfortunate it is that the people who have come to hear him are so far from any market where they could get some food and it is too bad because some live a great distance and they might "collapse" on the way.
Now, it appears that Jesus is making some sort of suggestion to the disciple that they ought to help these people. But check out the response from the disciples...immediately they proclaim, "But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?" Notice that they jump right to the reason why they can't possibly provide all these people with food.

Now, go down to verse 21 where Jesus says "do you still not understand?"

Let me just throw one other verse at you this morning, I know it's early and this may be too much thinking for you... Matthew 19:26, Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

So, when you look around at life, especially where Christ's church is concerned remember how Christ fed the 5,000 (+women and children) and then the 4,000 (+women and children) and His statement "do you still not understand?" We may be tempted to look at the negative but when we see the impossible, God has already worked out the solution. You see, when God is involved things are always possible.

Have a day filled with possibilities!

Alright, just thought I'd share a sweet pic from the Real Life gets Real Wet pool party. Notice the form... and I'm concentrating on sticking the landing... you can see me looking right where I want to splash down. And you'll also notice how the two guys in the pool are mesmerized by my grace and style!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mark 7 / July 29 - He's waiting for your reply

Okay, this morning let’s talk about verses 24-30 because this is a strange passage that I struggled with for a long time. It doesn’t seem to fit Jesus’ personality for him to turn away someone who needs His help. And after all the healing He’s done and all the people who were just standing around asking for some healing and He’d do it and then this lady comes up and He treats her so different. What gives?

Well remember as we’ve talked, that Jesus’ is always thinking “what does this person need?” The same thing is going on in this exchange.
Here’s some background. The woman who comes to Jesus is not a Jew, she is a Greek woman. She is not a member of God’s chosen people and she doesn’t appear to even to be a convert to Judaism. She is one of those people whom the Jews called a “dog.” The Jews and the Gentiles (which was everyone else) did not get along and they didn’t really care to try.

So, the woman comes to Jesus and asked Him to drive out the demon from her daughter. But Jesus’ response is that it is “not right to take the food from the children and give it to their dogs.” Okay, the children are the Jews (the children of God) and the dogs are the Gentiles (Greeks). So, Jesus may seem to be taking a swipe at this poor lady who just wants her daughter healed. But Jesus’ is testing her a little bit. How will she react to a “not so veiled” reference to her nationality.

She responds by saying that “even the dogs get to eat the food the falls from the children’s table.” The dogs don’t replace the children but they both get fed from the same plate, just not the same amount. Which was her way of saying that she deserved a little, even if she wasn’t a “child.”
Jesus is so happy with her answer that heals her daughter and sends her home happy.

Jesus wanted to help her, if she didn’t really care she would have just said boohoo and left. But he wanted to test her faith, get it out in the open. But I am sure he also wanted the others to hear what she had to say and His response. Remember that He already knew what she was going to say before she said it.

What is God trying to get out of you? What have you asked for that He responded “why should I do that for you?” What will your reply be? Why should He give you what you want? Maybe He is waiting for your reply…maybe today He’ll get it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mark 6 / July 28 - try to trust

What a great evening! We had 5 people who were immersed and a bunch who enjoyed an evening of fun in the water! What a day! A good time sharing together in the am and good times in the evening too! Joseph A, Michelle R, Julie and Jim C, and Doug E were all immersed into Jesus Christ and are beginning this new phase of their relationship with Him.

Now, on to Mark 6. Verses 45-52 tell of Jesus making the disciples do something that ended up being hard, difficult for them. Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and head out across the lake, which on a normal day would not have taken them very long. But today, they met with a storm. Storms were common on the Sea of Galilee (or Ganessaret) and the disciples, several of them very experienced fishermen who grew up on this lake, would have known that a storm was likely. But Jesus sent them out anyway, perhaps against their protests (don’t know but maybe). Once there they met with the storm and even Jesus saw them “straining at the oars.” Then Jesus went out to meet them, walking on the water. Which is pretty cool but not the main focus here.

Why would Jesus send the disciples out into a storm he knew was coming? Jesus isn’t our Savior just to make everything groovy for us and easy. He wants to teach us some things at the same time. He wants us to learn to trust Him, just as he did the disciples, they could not be prepared to take over his ministry without first learning to completely trust Him no matter what the storm they faced.

You can trust Him to. First in the little things, then bigger. Eventually you will learn to trust Him with your life. Why not start today? Something simple? Courage? Financial issues? Relationship problems? He wants to be involved…He wants to help…He already loves you enough to give His life for yours. Have a great day!


Okay, so if you looked for a post today or yesterday (depending on when you are looking at this). You'll notice that there was not a post on Sunday. Here's the deal. I'll post (most of the time) every day, except Sunday. I'd like to have Saturday night to not worry about having to post. So. You'll see posts Monday through Saturday from now on. I'll let you alone to read the text by yourself. Then I'll come back in on Monday.

Had a great Sunday by the way, many first time guests and was pretty exciting. Andi did a good job with the music too! Thanks Honey!

Good start to another week. See you Monday.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mark 4 / July 26 - it's all about me (or so I think)

Hey all, hope you had a good week.
I was reading this mornings text and was just thinking, same story, different day. Then at the end I saw something that I hadn't taken notice of before.

Have I told you that I don't like roller-coasters? Yeah, sure I have. I hate them. Why, you ask? It is simple really, I believe that if I ride a coaster I will die. I will fall out of the thing, it will fall on me, I'll loose my head, or my wallet, or my lunch or something. Whatever happens to me it won't be good.

Now, I can watch others go on them. In fact I've spent a good portion of my life watching others ride roller-coasters. friends, family, strangers...but I'm not doing it.

When it comes to me, I'm pretty careful. Do you feel like that? When others are feeling bad or sick I feel bad for them, when I am sick or feeling bad it is the end of the world. Some people say that I'm just a big baby. I think I'm normal.

I just noticed that when the disciples are in the boat with Jesus they are not worried about Him, like I always thought, they are worried about themselves! I always thought they were scared because they thought the boat would capsize and they would all die and Jesus was like, "you of little faith..." because He was not going to die before His time. But they aren't worried about Jesus at all! they said, "Teacher, don't you care if WE drown?" It was all about them!

Jesus says "you of little faith" perhaps because He wanted them to know what a big part of the story they would be. Jesus was not going to let these men be lost to some silly storm. That was not a part of the plan, and God's plans always work out. So Jesus rebukes the storm, "Hey, stupid storm, knock it off!" and that was it. Calm water. Clear skies. Smooth sailing.

My personal life is always more important to me (sorry) but so is yours! Our own personal lives are a bigger deal. So, here's the moral. God has a plan for you. He will not let you go before His plan for your life is fulfilled. Does that help? You want to know what His plan for you is? Well, I don't know that one-that's between you and Him. But, in the mean time, why not exercise a little faith?

Have a good weekend. I'll see you Monday morning.


Hey all you faithful readers of this tiny little blog. Just wanted to inform you that at the bottom of each post is a little letter looking thing with an arrow...see it? It's down there. Just below this post to the right of the "comment." That's it. Good. Now, if you click on that link it will let you email that post to a friend or relative or even someone you can't stand! Whoever you want! So, if something hits you and you think someone else might benefit from it, click the email link and send it to them!
have a nice day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mark 3 / July 25 - there is hope for us!

Today I thought we might take a closer look at the men that Jesus chose, handpicked to be His disciples. These are the men who would learn from Jesus, witness His ministry, death and resurrection. They are also the ones on whom the entire Christian age depends. Who knows what would have happened had these 12…er 11, men decided to pack up and go back to work instead of committing themselves to spreading the gospel. So, let’s take a look at them.

The first guy we see is Named Peter, (Simon or Simon Peter), he is really sure of himself. He’s the kind of guy who acts before thinking, or speaking for that matter. He is bull headed and confident (even when he is absolutely wrong!) and is often sticking his foot in his mouth. He also has a great amount of faith!

James and John these guys are brothers and you get to know a bit about them when Jesus changes their names (collectively) to “sons of thunder.” These guys no doubt were the life of the party. Their father was a fisherman-rough group and they too were fishermen in partnership with Peter. It was the mother of James and John who asked Jesus to grant her a wish, that her sons would sit, one of the left and one on the right when He got to heaven. Now you know where they got their attitude from!

Andrew is next, quite guy, we don’t know much about him. Though he is the one who came to Jesus with the 5 loaves and 2 fish; perhaps that says something about his own faith.
Philip has a brother named Nathanael. When Philip met Jesus he ran first to tell his brother (perhaps we could learn a lesson there). Philip is also the disciple who got to the desert on a horse with no name (or is that a song?!) and when we got there he met a man who was reading the old testament, Isaiah and Philip explained the scriptures to him all the way to Jesus. When Philip finished the man asked to be immersed and there in the middle of the desert was water and bible just says that after he baptized him he disappeared.

Bartholomew not much here, other than the mention of his name we don’t know much about him. Same with Thaddaeus. Sorry there is not more there.

Matthew was named Levi when he was called by Jesus. He was a tax collector which meant that he was a traitor to the Jews and hated by everyone…except other tax collectors. He was a sell out to the Romans and everyone knew it. He was an establishment man. He lived by their rules and took their money no one really liked him.

Thomas gets a bad wrap because of the whole “unless I put my fingers in the holes in his hands and my hand in his side I will not believe.” He was so sure that Jesus, on whom he had put all his trust and faith, was dead that he couldn’t believe beyond that point. But once he saw, there was no doubting left.

James wrote a book (the one titled James) that was almost not made a part of the cannon of Scripture. There were some that thought James dealt so much with deeds and seemed to dump on faith so much that it should not be a book of the Bible. But God doesn’t let good stuff like that get left out!

Do you remember Matthew, or Levi? Remember that he was a Roman supporter? Well, the next guy, Simon the zealot was about as opposite as you can get! Simon had sold out to the militia of his time. Those men who wanted to rid their country of the Roman occupation. He was the suicide bomber group, the die hards, the rebellion. The only thing he hated more than the Romans were the Jews who sold out to the Romans.

Last and certainly least is Judas. The guy who will forever be known as the one who betrayed Jesus. Every traitor is known as a Judas and pretty much in every culture you will find one. Poor guy.

So, here’s what were left with a group of men who would probably be the last group you would ever choose to start a grassroots religious wildfire like Christianity. Not only would you not choose them you would probably avoid them like the plague!

I say all that to say this. There is hope for you and me and for Real Life. We don’t have to be the smartest, the most “spiritual” the best looking or most reserved. We can be a group of thunderous, not perfect, mistake making, sometimes faithless folks as long as we just don’t give up. These 11 men changed the world. What could we do with 50? Have a good Friday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mark 2 / July 24 - mixing the old with the new...

Okay, so by now you’ve noticed the completely different layout of the site and you’ve probably also noticed that everything I have put on the blog in the last 18 months is gone. I lost it all today, but a little work and 3 hours later and I have a new blog host and layout.
In Mark 2 I want to draw your attention to verses 21 and 22.
I have lived out the truth of this passage.
I remember going to a workshop while attending the Preaching and Teaching Convention at Ozark Christian College in Joplin Mo. I went to the seminar because the guy leading it was an instructor at Boise Bible College where I had attended several years before.
The workshop was about the future of the church, where it was going and how we as leaders and pastors could prepare for what changes lie ahead. I recall distinctively that he said, any church older than 50 years was going to die in the coming years unless it went through a major overhaul of leadership and in all cases (or maybe most) the church would have to close and reopen under a new name, new leaders and maybe even a new building, if it wanted to survive.
I remember this so vividly because the church I was preaching in was over 130 years old and we were doing an incredible job of reaching new people for Christ and were drastically changing the image of the church in the community, at least among some. So, I went up and told the workshop leader about this church and how well it was doing and the leadership and everything and I basically got a, “that’s nice, but it won’t continue-in the end it won’t work, it can’t.” I left that workshop very frustrated with this man.
About 4 years later I resigned and I am afraid that his words may ultimately ring true.
You see, I was trying to outwit Mark 2:21,22. I was trying to infuse the old (traditional) wineskins with fresh new wine and while it lasted for awhile, while we were filling them up, when the new began to ferment the wine skin couldn’t hold it. It wasn’t the older folks fault. It was mine. I tried to do what couldn’t be done. What Jesus said, couldn’t be done. When I left that church and began to seek God in regards to my future this passage really hit home.
I was met with the decision. Do I try to go into an older established church and try to do what I believe God has called me to do as a preacher? Or do I get a new wineskin to put the new wine in? Ultimately (and obviously) it was a new wineskin for new wine. And what I learned was that it isn’t pouring new wine into old wineskins that is the problem, you can pour lots in there and it holds, it is when that new wine (or the new people-if you are following the metaphor) begins to ferment, to stretch, to try their wings and get comfortable that you begin to have the big problems.
In the end it was better for the kingdom for me to leave and find new wineskins. And guess, what! You are the new wineskins (not that you are a bunch of drunks!) you are the ones who will begin to test your wings and mix together and ferment in the faith. Together we get to become a drink offering to the Lord.
So how do we keep from becoming old wineskins? There are a few tricks. We keep looking for ways and means to expand, to push ourselves to get out of our churchy comfort zone and engage the world around us. And, just like one of our core values says, we remain always willing to try anything and risk everything to win anyone with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I hope you are willing to ferment with me for God!
(boy that was a strange one!)

lost the old one

Hey all, I lost the last blog and have to start over.
So, I'll start posting in this format. You don't have to change anything, just keep going to the link you always have you just won't be able to look at older posts.