Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Widow's Two Mites

Did you know that Jesus talked about money more than anybody else in the Bible? He said more about money than anything else. Is that because money is the most important thing Jesus had to talk about? Absolutely not. Is it because Jesus knew that money would replace Him as Lord in a lot of people’s lives or because He knew people would covet, steal, bribe, swindle, extort, beg, and even kill over it? Absolutely. Money is a measure of a person’s heart.. 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” It’s not money that is the root of evil, it is the love of it. The verses in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 say that the love of money brings temptation, snares, and foolish and harmful desires which ruin men. It also says those who love money wander away from the Faith.

In the story of the widow’s two mites in Luke 21, it has been said that Jesus is praising the poor widow because she gave everything she had. But is that really what’s happening here? Sure, the widow showed everyone that the love of money wasn’t an issue for her and Jesus recognized that she gave all. She loved the Lord. But who was Jesus actually talking about in this passage? You have to look at all Scripture in its context. Jesus had just said in Luke 20:45-47, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Jesus wasn’t praising this widow as much as He was condemning these men, especially in their treatment of widows. He said they devour widows’ houses by destroying them financially with their laws that required that they give certain amounts of money to the Temple. In the past few chapters, Jesus had already been connecting the Temple with corruption.

Then Jesus noticed the widow. She was giving the last two coins she owns - fractions of pennies. I think He points this out to those who are listening, not to praise her, but to condemn the teachers of the law. I’m sure Jesus is honored that she would give all. We should sacrifice for the Lord and His Church. Jesus had a problem with religious rulers extorting money from widows and thieves in Church leadership. Instead of caring for the widows, they were swindling them. She now has nothing to live on now. I’m sure she trusted God to provide but I wonder what would have happened if she had gone to that Temple later that week and asked for help? Jesus hates it when we turn His House into a den of thieves. Remember the whip and tables He turned over? Jesus never says “be like her,” he just says don’t be like the scribes. The verses that follow these show Jesus’ condemnation of the religious leaders.

It is right to give the tithe to God (Malachi 3, 2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2). Not doing that is robbing Him. But God hates those who twist scripture to produce wealth, especially those who manipulate and steal from the poor, the orphan and the widow. We, the Church, should serve them. That is the theme of all Scripture regarding widows, not that they give everything.

One day a certain old, rich man of a miserable disposition visited a rabbi, who took the rich man by the hand and led him to a window. “Look out there,” he said. The rich man looked into the street. “What do you see?” asked the rabbi. “I see men, women, and children,” answered the rich man. Again the rabbi took him by the hand and this time led him to a mirror. “Now what do you see?” “Now I see myself,” the rich man replied. Then the rabbi said, “Behold, in the window there is glass, and in the mirror there is glass. But the glass of the mirror is covered with a little silver, and no sooner is the silver added than you cease to see others, but you see only yourself.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 Random Thoughts

Ok. Here are some more of my random thoughts:

1. I was practicing baptizing my 6 year old daughter in the pool yesterday. We were going over what baptism means, Jesus' baptism, etc. She's almost ready. What a great teaching moment. My 3 year old daughter was in the pool as well and when I went over to her to play with her she cried and said "NO DADDY! I DON'T WANT TO BE BABBERTIZED." What makes that even funnier is that our nickname for her is "Babbs" or "Babber". Kids...

2. Don't trust a leader who won't admit when they need help. They are just trying to cover up that they are falling apart. If their favorite response to help is "I'm good" or "I've got this" it usually translates "I'm sinking fast and scared if you find out then I won't be the leader anymore." Everyone needs help.

3. Satan is a liar. The grass is usually greener on the other side because it is on top of a septic tank.

4. If you find someone successful the best question is not "what are you doing right?". The best question is "what did you do wrong?" or "what are you not doing?".

5. I've found that spending a few hours each week in one-on-one discipleship is worth it. I think I'm learning more that what I'm teaching. Everyone should spend consistent one-on-one time with someone else and talk about the Lord.

6. I get a lot out of my unplanned, non-agenda lunch time with the other pastors. We should do it more often.

7. Discipleship is a "crockpot" not a "microwave." See #5.

8. I'd love to be able over a lifetime to somehow document that I've preached through the entire Bible. Lord, let me live that long to see that accomplished!

9. We depend WAY TOO MUCH on technology to drive our churches. No one is a bigger fan of technology than me. If the power (not the Holy Spirit) went out in most of our churches, we'd have no idea how to do ministry. We'd just dismiss. (Maybe the Power has gone out). Maybe that's why David chose 5 stones instead of using Saul's technologically advanced armor!

10. Speaking of David and the stones - God is the ultimate Creator and the Master of creativity! Who else would use a little boy and a rock to prove He's God? He also asked Hosea to marry a prostitute. What! Jonah was swallowed by a whale. I wonder if that is the whole reason He made the whale. Maybe He thought, "one day..." He made the sun stand still with Joshua and then used a talking donkey with Baalam. That would FREAK ME OUT! Think about your dog talking to you about the Lord. He had Noah build a massive boat when it rained and flooded the earth - and it had never, ever rained before! What faith Noah had! He parted the Red Sea and had manna fall from heaven for food every day. What is manna anyway? It was God Grub! - and people complained! Losers. So then He rained down quail! I can't begin to imagine but I'm sure the people who saw it never forgot. God had the best and most memorable illustrations to show His greatness. I've got to get better with my illustrations to present Christ. Maybe I'll just tell about His.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Psalm 118:8

I found this out about Psalm 118. It is very interesting:

1. Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the entire Bible.
2. Psalm 117, before Psalm 118 is the shortest chapter in the Bible.
3. Psalm 119, after Psalm 118 is the longest chapter in the Bible.
4. The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118.
5. If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters.
6. 1188 or Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible.

And what is the central message of Psalm 118:8 - "the central truth in the Bible?"

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." - Psalm 118:8

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Good Leader

A Good Leader is/has:

1. Trustworthy
2. Takes initiative
3. Speaks with authority
4. Strengthens others
5. Optimistic and enthusiastic
6. Stays focused in the midst of storms (trials)
7. Encourages by example
8. Not afraid to confront problems
9. Maintains a clear conscience
10. Vision
11. Flexible
12. Committed to thoroughness
13. Makes the most of the present opportunity
14. Is not afraid of opposition
15. Team spirit
16. Accepts the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of others
17. Watchful
18. Stands firm in the faith
19. Maturity
20. Strength
21. Love

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Here's What Happens When You Can't Hold It In Any Longer

I wrote yesterday that I couldn't hold it in any longer. What happens when you share it? People get saved! I led a guy to the Lord last night as we drove for two hours around town. I picked him up and he shared what he was going through. Because of being with the Lord (becoming salt) I was able to share with him the Gospel (being light). Let's do it again today!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Can't Hold It In Any Longer

I cannot hold in my love for the Lord. I have to speak His name. I have to tell of who He is and what He does. Not just for me (like I'm the only special one out there), but for all who love Him. The Gospel is my mission. I love this verse:

"But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!" - Jeremiah 20:9 NLT

The fire in my bones must be released. It must infuse my lifestyle. It must be who I am. We must share about the Lord. We share about everything else - our family, our jobs, our hobbies, our vacations, sporting events, the latest news. We even share stupid things, just read some people's social networks! Why don't we share about the Lord in our everyday conversations!

"I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." - Luke 4:43 NIV

It should be our motivation for why we live where we do. It should be our motivation for moving and staying put. After all, Jesus moved (went to the other towns also) because of the Gospel.

Why else am I here? What else is there?

Paul said, "Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" - 1 Corinthians 9:16

We must be compelled to preach. The Gospel is our motivation for speaking. It is our motivation for getting up out the bed. It is our motivation for living. It should lead our conversations.

Why preach the Gospel? 2 Corinthians 5 tells us 5 reasons why:

1. Verse 10, "For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ."
2. Verse 11, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men."
3. Verse 14, "For the love of Christ compels us."
4. Verse 18 & 19, "He has committed unto us the word and ministry of reconciliation."
5. Verse 20, "we are ambassadors for Christ."

We must preach Christ. We must "making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

Monday, June 14, 2010

10 Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts going through my head:

1) Abby and Kylee wake up every morning earlier than I'd like to wake up. The first thing they always ask me is "Daddy, I'm hungry. Get me something to drink and something to eat." I thought about that this morning: "What if the first thing I did when I woke up extremely early was ask my Father, "Daddy, I'm hungry. Get me something to drink and something to eat."

2) You are way too valuable to sit on the sideline and do nothing. God has designed you on purpose, for a purpose. You need to let God release the potential inside of you that you never imagined that you had!

3) You can't make everyone happy all of the time. That's not what a leader does anyway. If it was, Jesus was really bad at it. No matter what you do someone is always going to be upset. So what do you do? Please HIM, not them!

4) Vacation was great. Everyone needs to take one - and do nothing while you are there!

5) We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7). If a verse will ever stretch you, this one will. My flesh wants to "see" everything it's way but God wants me to trust Him.

6) One way to kill your relationship with God - spend more time on blogs/social networks than you do in your Bible.

7) Your spouse cannot read your mind! Tell them what's going on up there in that brain of yours.

8) Praying that when I get the chance to preach that I do what Jesus said, "As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'"

9) I have to remember to believe the best about the people I work with rather than always assuming the worst about them. (To clear up office confusion, when I say "People I work with" means "People I minister/counsel with". Love you ladies in the office! :-)

10) I love my wife and how she loves the ladies in our Life Group. She truly wants Philippians 1:9-11 for them: "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Show Your Passion

The church cannot afford to have passionless leaders in prominent positions! If you love the Lord, love people and your ministry - then please do us all a favor and SHOW IT! I'm saddened all the time when I see people in a position of leadership but are not excited. They don't smile and are stressed out by the smallest problem. Fact: you will have problems in ministry. Ministry should be fun - especially the one you say you're called to. One of the other problems of passionless leaders is that people get appointed to a leadership position because they are a “natural fit” or they are the “easiest option,” and NOT because they actually have the passion and wisdom to do an incredible job. Passion is the key ingredient that will keep a person in the game when everyone else is giving up! Stop whining and complaining about your ministry - start enjoying and displaying your passion for it!

Here is when you know someone is complaining and passionless - they don't have suggestions or solutions to fix problems. Their attitude stinks. They even have a little attitude in their voices. I'm not talking about frustration. All leaders face that. I'm not even talking about voicing problems - all leaders must do that. But a passionless leader is usually someone who just does the bare minimum, can't wait till their ministry time is over, watch the clock, roll their eyes when they recognize the caller ID is displaying someone in need, and don't dream anymore. They are not having fun anymore. It is a job, not a joy. It is a chore, not worship. It is duty instead of devotion! They are passionless!

I always think about Paul being shipwrecked and hanging onto a board in the middle of the sea. Sure there was a problem. But did he quit? Did he lose his passion for the Lord? No. He hung on tight because the ministry he was called to wasn't over. He didn't want to sink because there was so much more to do for the Lord. His passion came through when he wrote his letters to the churches. His passion showed up and showed out! Never apologize for passion!

5 Steps To Regaining Your Passion For Ministry

1. Get somewhere quiet and seek the Lord! I mean seek the Lord, don't complain about your ministry or problems. Seek Him, not solutions for your ministry. Lay it all out and let Him break you down and begin to build you back up.

2. Talk with someone who has been there and will encourage you

3. Repent for your lack of passion for the Lord. Remember, it isn't passion for your ministry that will keep you going - it has to be passion for the Lord.

4. Take a break with the intent to come back and do it with passion! Discuss your intended break with the leader over you. Describe your goals in your break and make sure your goal is to grow in the Lord and return refreshed and renewed.

5. Watch others who are passionate about the Lord and their ministry. Nothing energizes and motivates me more than to see those doing what they love. It reminds me of my love for the Lord and the love for the calling of ministry.

1 Timothy 1:12 - "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service."

Acts 20:24 "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."