Thursday, March 30, 2017

Not Good Enough

                                                                  Isaiah 6: 1-8


   I know my last post was about feeling as if we are not good enough, but I felt I left something unsaid. I am not sure exactly what that is, but I am going to blog about it once more. I will attempt to bring it from another angle, maybe a more personal angle. anyway, I hope that it will touch someone that needs it.
 
   As a young kid, 11,12,13, I remember times when so called Christians, either through their actions, words, or even silence, told me that I was not good enough, that I didn't measure up. I played baseball through the YMCA and the coaches were volunteers from the local church. I used to hang out with the coach's son at school, and one day he came with his dad to practice. It turned out that it was his birthday and he asked his dad if I could come to the party. His dad turned and said loud enough for everyone around to hear, "You can't hang around him, his parents are divorced." I was told that maybe my mother did something wrong, and that we were being punished, that we were not good enough. But, 30 years later when I became a Christian, I found out that wasn't true.

   Humans can be so cruel to each other. Maybe you have been told this in your lifetime, or maybe you still feel this way today. I know I have to keep reminding myself in my daily actions that I am good enough. For some of us, the scars from our younger years still haunt us and affect our individual achievements throughout our lives. We may turn to alcohol, or drugs. We may feel that we are not good enough to ask that girl or boy to the prom. We may feel that we are good enough to finish high school, or go after that job we really want. We don't feel good enough to reach our full potential, and it can even affect our relationship with God.

   In Isaiah 6, we find Isaiah struggling with that problem of not being good enough. Like some of us, Isaiah feels that low self esteem. We might think, "who am I that God might want to use me?" "I am not good enough to share God's message of hope with others." Or, "I am bound to sin and I can't get free." The guilt, the addiction, the shame, or I tried already and failed, whatever it might be separates us from God and prevents that intimate relationship with Him...

   In the first 8 verses of Isaiah chptr. 6, it describes the prophetic vision of Isaiah. He is called to the throne of God, and he is feeling awe and terror. Isaiah is struck with that feeling and realization of unworthiness, and he cries out, "Woe to me, I am ruined, I am a man with unclean lips and live among people with unclean lips. Yet, I have seen the King, the Lord of Heavenly Forces." How many of us would feel terrified to be in the same situation? Would you feel "ruined" if you stood by the throne of God?
 
   A friend of mine came to me to talk about some things he had done, he was afraid of not being good enough and losing his salvation. I reminded him of all the stories of people coming to Jesus, people who had mad mistakes, people who have done things they regretted and wished they had never done. They had sinned and felt guilt. I reminded him that if they were truly sorry and confessed and asked Jesus to forgive them, that He didn't turn anyone away. I said, if you are truly sorry and asked for forgiveness, Jesus says to you as He did to them, "My child your sins are forgiven, go in peace."

   There is no doubt, we all make mistakes. We all do things we wished we hadn't done. We hurt others, sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose. When Jesus walked this earth, time after time, He talked to people and invited them into a relationship with Him. Sometimes in these relationships Jesus disturbed the comfortable, and sometimes He comforted the disturbed. But, He related to each one. Then and now, Jesus is the embodiment of Grace.

   God's grace is a weird concept in our world today, where strings are always attached and nothing is free. We as Christians need to realize that one of the greatest gifts we can share in this world today is our belief in salvation by grace, through faith. At the cost of His life, Jesus died to save and redeem you and me. He did all of this so we could be free, free to live, free to love, and free to serve. You know, everyone of us must be very, very important for Jesus to shed His blood for us, and grabbing a hold of that radically changes the way we look at ourselves, and the way we look at our lives.

   Isaiah's vision was meant for people like you and me. God desires a relationship with us. Yes, we are sinners who live among sinners, and we live in sinful times, but God comes to where we are, makes us clean and calls us to serve. Isaiah realizes that he is a sinner in the presence of the Holy God, and the realization hits with overwhelming force. Yet, it is this realization that opens up Isaiah to forgiveness.

   verse 6 says to us that as soon as Isaiah was aware of his sinfulness and confessed to it that one of the winged creatures flew to him with a glowing coal from the alter, held with tongs. Isaiah writes, "he touched my mouth and said, See this has touched you, and your sin is removed." Then, I heard the Lords voice saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" I said, "I am here, send me."
May we respond as Isaiah did...... Amen

 

 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Good Question



      I want to look at a question today that was asked by one of the most pivotal people in the bible. John the Baptist was key to connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament. His message and mission were very clear, to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. Christ's baptism was the beginning of His public ministry, so the acknowledgment of Jesus by such a respected prophet like John gave Jesus an excellent launching pad for His introduction as the Son of God.

      The question I want to look at is asked when Jesus comes to be baptized by John, and I think it is good for all of us to witness. John says to Jesus, "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, why are you coming to me?" (Matthew 3:14) Let's put on John's sandals for a minute. How would you have felt? Maybe the same way? Maybe though, our hesitancy might have been a little greater. I mean, Jesus even said that John the Baptist was one of the greatest men ever. "I tell you the truth, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." (Matthew 11:11) So, if John was hesitant to feel worthy enough to baptize Jesus, how much more would we feel unworthy? But, in His answer to John's question Jesus gives us peace and hope.

      Many of us ask, "Are we good enough?" Or "Can we measure up?" Can God really use us, imperfect as we are, with all of our scars and blemishes from sin? How can the imperfect be of service to the Perfect? Let Christ answer that question for us. Let's look at this dialog closely. John says, "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, why are you coming to me? Jesus replied, " It must be done, because we must do what is right." So then John baptized Him. (Matthew 3:14-15)
John's baptism, as is ours, was one of repentance, but Jesus had no reason to repent, He was sinless, but wanted to identify with sinners. And that my friends is where our hope lies. Without him we are not good enough, but with Him we are.

       I think one of the most extreme statements Jesus ever made is found in Matthew 9:12-13.
"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But, go and learn what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." You see, Jesus didn't condemn the "Bad People" He showed them love and understood them, even though He had every reason for condemning them. So, as fellow sinners, we must share with them where we found our bread. I believe that one of the biggest reasons the world isn't coming to christianity is because they think it is for the righteous, so they think it isn't for them. I think we have done a poor job informing the world that Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven and accepted. Jesus said in John 12:32, But I, when I am lifted up from the Earth, will draw all men to Myself. Jesus let John baptize Him because He wanted us to know that through Him we are good enough.

      Do you feel the Holy Spirit working within? Do you hear His gentile whisper? He is there because he desires you to come to Christ. The Holy Spirit and the church want you to know the purposeful life that Jesus can give us. The Spirit and the bride (the church) say " Come...whoever is thirsty , let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." So the answer to to the question is Yes !!!! Through Jesus Christ we are good enough to be of service to God. So give it all to Christ, today.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Reflect your light

     A few years ago, around this time of year, I was in a play. The play was made up of a bunch of little stories, and one of those stories got deep into my soul. It was called reflect the light. It goes something like this.

     At the last session on the last morning of a two week seminar on Greek culture the professor turned and made the ritual gesture: "Are there any questions?" He was greeted with silence. These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now, there was only silence. "No questions?" The professor swept the room with his eyes. Alas from the back row, "Professor, what is the meaning of life?"
The usual laughter followed, and people stirred to go. The professor held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at the gentleman who asked the question for a long period of time, asking with his eyes if indeed the question was serious or in jest. "I will answer your question." Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into the leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went something like this: "When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place."I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece; This one.  And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine, in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find. "I kept the little mirror, and as I went through life, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. "I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know.
Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world, into black places, in the hearts of men and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of life." And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and slowly reflected them onto all that were in the room.

     Are you letting the light of Christ reflect off of the mirror in your heart? Are you letting God shine through you? That is what the beatitudes are about. Reflecting God's light into the World. That has always been the purpose of God, that when He came into our lives that He would fill our lives so much that He would shine through. That people would see Him in our attitudes and actions. That we would let Jesus Christ live through us. The beatitudes are a mirror that reflects God's light. The beatitudes are like a light bulb that can only get the power to shine when plugged into the power of God. The beatitudes were meant to be our attitudes. The Holy Spirit has come to live in us that He might live through us that He might shine through us, to meet the needs of a hurting, struggling world.

     The beatitudes are a self portrait of Christ, and we are called to transform our lives into the image of Him. Although He was God, with all the rights and privileges of a deity, He made himself with no reputation, He took on Himself the form of a servant, and made Himself in the likeness of man. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on the cross.

      Jesus mourned, He wept for Lazarus, He wept over Jerusalem, He was a man of sorrows and knew grief. He was meek, He hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and he was merciful. If you measure Christ's life to these qualities, You would find that He was a model of them all. It is all about Jesus, about opening up our lives so that we may be transformed into the image of Christ. Only by maturing in our faith, only by receiving the Holy Spirit, will we walk in authentic spirituality.

     According to Romans 8:29, God's purpose is for all Christians to take on the character and image of Christ. So, I think it is reasonable to state the following, The beatitudes describe qualities that are available to every Christian. They show the evidence of a yielded life. They are not produced by the Christian, but they are produced in the Christian. They tell us what the world will see reflecting in a life fully given to the Lord. The Beatitudes do not reflect individual qualities, but a complete mirror of life mastered by Jesus.
The evidence that one is surely reflecting their light, is that they show the beatitudes in them. Not on a perfect basis, but on a consistent basis.

     Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be given unto you. The happiest people I know are the ones who have yielded themselves to the grace of God......Everyday. Why? Because theirs is the kingdom of Heaven, they are comforted, they inherit the earth, they are filled, they obtain mercy, they see God, and others see God in them, for they are called the children of God.

     I heard a little boy get asked what a saint was, and he said a saint is someone who let's the light shine through. A saint, or a person pure in heart will let the light of God shine through. I want you to do something for me, get up from where you are at and go look into a mirror. Are you allowing God to fill your life so much that you are reflecting His light? If His light is not reflecting through you then take the first step and yield to Jesus, let the Holy Spirit transform you. Let a beatitude life fill you and make you whole. My friends, let God's light reflect through you, yield to His love and let His light shine through you.........Amen

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's God's Party






     I was having a conversation about Psalm 23 with a friend of mine. Mostly about vs. 5, and setting the table in the presence of our enemies. So I started thinking about the meaning of the verse. As I was looking at it, the meaning wasn't immediately clear to me. Is the table set before our enemies so that we can sit together? If so, think about how powerful a suggestion of forgiveness that would be. Or is it done to show our enemies how beloved we are, kind of like rubbing their faces in it. That would be satisfying, but I don't think that Jesus would be that petty.

     We have to remember that the Psalms are by, and large, prayers. And whatever you might think about the people that wrote them, or their meaning, they were prayed by human beings. That doesn't take away from them being powerful and spirit led. We read these each week assuming that they have meaning not only for their time, but for ours as well, and I don't think that could be possible unless God was involved in the reading and the writing. If we are honest with ourselves, we don't always pray for the things we should. Like any obsessed Hawks fan, I know I have asked God for a little "Divine Intervention" every now and then. But, do I really think that the world will end if Richard Sherman doesn't get another interception? Probably not. The point I am trying to make is that the prayers of humans back then were not any better or worse then prayers by humans today. I am sure there were times when they prayed for the elimination of their enemies when they should have been praying for something more eternal, and holy. If we look deeply into this verse, I think that might be what we see here. The table is set for me, not me and my enemies. I think the author is saying that this table is mine and only mine, and no one else is going to get any of it. That might be the case, but I don't think that is the message God is trying to make.

     Let's stop and think for just a second. When we look at scripture in the whole, there are teachings that tell of God giving victory over foes, against seemly insurmountable odds. That is God's victory. There are also teachings of God also being there in defeat, That still is God's victory, no matter where in the moment we are. We also see time and time again, the teachings of amazing stories of forgiveness. Ishmael and Isaac reuniting to bury their parents. Jacob and Esau let brotherly love overcome sibling rivalry. Or, how about Judas being at the table when bread is broken? Jesus prays for forgiveness for those that would cause him to die on the cross. I am not sure what the author intended, but the overwhelming story of salvation is that enemies do sit together at God's table.

     So, as we can learn from scripture, the Kingdom of Heaven operates very different than our own human world. Enemies sit at the same table. Barack Obama and Edward Snowden, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Alex Rodriguez and every baseball fan on the planet. It is something that our human minds can't fully comprehend. If God is the host, then He is the one who gets to do the invites. We might not like some of the people on the guest list, but it is not our party. So, where does that leave us? Imagine you are the Psalmist and put yourself in his place. You are sitting there ready for this amazing feast, looking forward to shoving it into your enemies face, and BAM !!!!! You notice He as set up places for them. Who is it? What do you feel inside? Anger, or joy and forgiveness? Do you start looking for another table, or start asking for the check?  Faith my friends, is not for the weak at heart, and don't misunderstand what I am saying, there is a lot more to forgiveness than just sitting down to a table. If you have heard any stories or experienced reconciliation and forgiveness you see or feel the courage and pain it takes. Forgiveness is a hard, hard thing and sometimes reconciliation can only occur beyond the grave, because it needs God to be involved that badly. If we want to call ourselves Christians, then we at least need to recognize this. There is room for everyone at God's table. No matter the distance between you and your enemies, the distance between you and God has already been closed, because it is always God's victory........Amen

   


     

     

Monday, March 13, 2017

Crazy Love

 

                                             This post is written on Mathew 21: 33-46
     
     It is very crazy to love someone. Love, is crazy. On Dec. 31st 2016 my wife and I have been married 26 years, that is kind of crazy when you think about it. Choosing 1 person out of the many in this world to spend the rest of your life with. But, that is what I did. I said to my wife that I will have and hold you, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part. Whoa !!!! It is both selfless and crazy to say these things, but that is what you do when you love someone. Isn't there a song that says something like I'm crazy for loving you or something like that? Anyway, that's the kind of crazy love we see in this story today. 

     So here we go with another story with a vineyard. The first is the story of the owner who paid his workers the same no matter how long they worked that day, Crazy right? The 2nd is the story of an owner who asked his sons to work, and one said yes and didn't, the other said no and did. Crazy? This one is the craziest of them all.  And, it goes something like this. 

     There once was this wealthy farmer who owned a vineyard. He grew organic grapes, and had a big reputation of making upper scale wine at a very fair price. The farmer invested all he had into his vineyard. The security was the best and he had a top of line wine press. After many years of working the vineyard and making wine, the farmer decided he would retire and move away, and he hired some farmhands to work the vineyard for him. When harvest time came around, he sent some servants to collect his share of the harvest. When the servants got there the farm hands grabbed the first one and beat him. The next one was murdered, and third ran for his life dodging stones being hurled at him. He ran all the way back and told the farmer what had happened, so the farmer sent even more servants down to his vineyard and the same thing happened. Now the farmer was at the end of his rope, he is so desperate to reach out to his farmhands. He thinks they will surely respect my son, so he sends his son down to the vineyard. When the farmhands saw the son coming they said to each other,"Let's kill the son so the vineyard will be ours." So, the farmer had sent his son and he was killed. Now, at the end, we are left wondering what the farmer will do.

      So, to be honest the characters in this story are supposed to represent people other than themselves. The farmer in this story represents God, the farmhands are us, God's chosen people. The servants sent by the farmer represent the prophets sent by God, and the Son must be Jesus.

      Now, let's start with the farm hands. How can they think that they are going to inherit the vineyard by killing the farmers servants and then his son? It's crazy I tell you, CRAZY. But, not as crazy as the farmer. Think about it, He sends servants and they are beaten or killed, then he sends more servants. Not an army, but servants and the same thing happens. So, where does he come up with the idea to send his son, his heir, by himself to deal with these thugs? It's absolutely crazy I tell ya. Who would be so crazy as to do this? Well maybe, just maybe it's this crazy farmer who is so desperate to be in a relationship with his farmhands that he would do anything, risk anything, to reach out to them. He acts more like a desperate parent who will do or say anything to reach out to a lost child. It's truly crazy. the kind of crazy you get from being in love. Now we have this crazy farmer, but we also still have the question Jesus asks. What will the farmer do when he comes back? All the the pharisees that were there listening could think of was violence. " He will put those wretches to a wretched end." With those words, the pharisees condemn themselves. That my friends, is part of Mathew's narrative, to have his opponents condemn themselves.

      How do we condemn ourselves? By trying to make things our possession. We think of the church as ours, not as the Body of Christ. We seek to take on the world challenges for self serving reasons, instead of Christ driven reasons. We start to see stewardship as a burden instead of a joyful response to everything that God has done for us. It also happens in our relationships with our families. We take for granted the love that others have for us. Love is never a matter of meeting half way, but a matter of going that extra mile. And, when love is truly the motivation, that extra mile is never a burden. If we truly look at this story, it invites us to look at and consider a different question. Not what will that farmer do, but what has God the farmer done for us? He sent His Son to us, who have taken God's blessings for our own and not given back to God. And when we killed Him, He raised Him from the dead and sent Him back to us with the same message of His crazy, desperate love. This story shows us the crazy, desperate love that God has for us. Love that is offered over and over again to anyone who will receive it. In our lives, God reaches out to us. It is kind of crazy if you think about it.



     

   



     

      

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why as the body of Christ don't we act more like Him?




      I was sitting in the Gathering space at church drinking coffee and talking with friends when I see one of the frequent attendees of our community supper walk into the church. This person (I will call A) is very nice and loves to talk to people. A sat down next to a couple of members from our church. (I will call B and C) at one of the tables and said hi. B and C just got up and moved to another table without saying a word. This isn't the first time I have seen things like this happen from these 2, as well as from a few others in the church. So I have to ask the question, Why as the body of Christ, don't we act more like Him?

      You don't have to look very far to find out why I feel this question should be asked. Can you imagine Jesus walking through streets carrying a sign pointing out who God hates, or disrupting the funeral of service men? Show me in His ministry where there was rejection, discrimination, or hatred. It is disturbing to me how each different denomination installs in Christ their own biases and prejudices. George Bernard Shaw once said, " God created us in His image, and we decided to return the favor." "It's not we are called to be like Jesus, but rather Let's make Jesus look like us."

      I believe there is only one word that will answer this question, and this word is "sin." And, if you look at the letter in the middle of this word you will find the letter i. So, the center of sin is "I," and when any person or persons elevates themselves at the cost of another, that is an act of sin. I have heard some say that Jesus spoke harshly and criticized people, but these people were the religious who were so sure they were right that they condemned and abandoned those who didn't fit into their system.

      It's absolutely stunning to me how every religion, including Christianity, has been used for hatred and violence. Proud, arrogant, self righteous "I" centered sin. And, right in the middle of all this comes something so different, in the life, teaching, and ministry of Christ Jesus. Jesus says we must be born again, born of a new Spirit. That Spirit is the Spirit of God and that replaces the "I" centered sin in our lives.

      Even early Christians were twisting things to lift themselves up and to put others down, so the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Philippi. (Philippians 2:5-11 NIV)
 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,  being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


      Paul says, "Be like Jesus," have the attitude of Christ. He poured Himself out, He connected with us, identified with us. We are not supposed lift ourselves up, God will lift us up one day. Right now we are supposed to live our lives as Christ led His, so that our inner attitude will reflect in our outer actions.

       Look at what Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-24. He tells them to be renewed in the spirits of their mind and then tells them to clothe yourselves in that new self which is Christ. You ask what does that mean? It means that when people look at you, they see Jesus in the way you act, how you treat others, and what you say. Remember here Paul is talking to those who have already been saved. 

      Now Paul also writes in Romans 10:9 If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Salvation is God's great gift for us to receive, we are saved for eternity by the Grace of God. But, what about our lives now? Paul is telling these saved and baptized Christians to start acting like it, have that mind of Christ and clothe yourself in Him, so that people may see what a great God we serve. Put away that self-centered attitude and put on Jesus........ Amen

    

Monday, March 6, 2017

Because of God's Grace We Will Win

       Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgement you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me says the Lord.

       For the past couple of weeks everywhere I go I hear the song Worn by Tenth Avenue North. In the car, walking through the store, or just in my head. I started thinking maybe God is trying to tell me something, so I prayed to Him and asked Him to help me understand what He was telling me. He had me reflect on the struggles that are going on around the world. Unjust wars started under false allegations because of religion or race, genocide in a poor nation killing hundreds of thousands and nothing is being said. Too many nations including our own where racial separation still exists, or a church where people struggle with their daily problems that seem larger than life, they seem hopeless,
or you feel helpless. Is there any wonder why we need Jesus to lean on, to help us know that the struggle ends?

      In Isaiah 54:17, we find Isaiah praising and rejoicing that he knows who is in charge, and also knowing why our struggles are not our struggles. Because of God's grace we will win. It is the song that is sung throughout the scriptures, it is the promise from God Himself. Our struggles are not in vain, we will receive salvation from our Father.

      Isaiah 26:3 says You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind has stayed on You, because he trusts in You. By keeping your mind steadfast and unmovable, your mountain will only be a mole hill. And, since God has told us that our struggles come to make us stronger, We have peace knowing that our struggles are only spiritual workouts that make us stronger to do the things that God is calling us to do. So don't see our struggles as our struggles, see them as God enabling us to teach someone what He can do. So if you are finding your situation dismal,  or hopeless, remind yourself that this is a stepping stone. Let God use you and the struggle will end.

      So when God uses you in situations around the world or in our own community, and they seem insurmountable, remember that God says I got you, and your struggle is not yours. God does not want His children to withdraw from our world. He does not want us to become a secluded community for people who only look like us and act like us. This is not His idea of struggle free. He wants us to embrace the fact that our struggles are His. If we learn to lean on Him and not our own understanding, He will direct our path. Because we will understand He is the one who is able to keep us from falling, and present us before the throne of Grace. To Him belongs all power and dominion, so if He knows all things, and is in control of all things, then every struggle we have belongs to Him, and He has a plan for it in our lives. So, wherever you are, whatever you have been going through, God said your struggle will end. This promise is made to His children, your struggles will end.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Spending time with God

 We can relate to God just like we can a close friend. While this thought may be a hard one to grasp at first, in time you will experience what it means to have God as your friend. Jesus made his time with God a priority, (Mark 1:25, Luke 22:39, and Luke 5:16) and set the example for how we are to relate to Him.

 When we spend time with God many things happen when we are close to him, It makes it easier to find out what God wants in our lives, It helps us to refocus and take our minds off the worries and troubles of this world, we naturally become more like him, and the most important in my view is the more time I spend with God the more I love Him.

 Some of the ways I spend time with God is through reading the bible, prayer, worship, or even through my favorite Christian songs. But, my favorite way to spend time with God is through meditation. I find the quietest place I can find at the time and close my eyes and open my heart. I ask God to fill me with his love and to lead me in the way he wants me to go.

 It is not easy sometimes with all the noise and everything going on around us, but if you truly listen you will hear Him, but you must listen with your heart. If you are struggling to find time for God start with just a couple of minutes, something easy to maintain at first. Pretty soon without even realizing it the time will get longer and it will be easier to find the time as you grow in your faith.

 God loves you and he wants this time with you, and soon you will find that your daily time with God is something you wouldn't even dream about missing.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Church is not an exclusive country club

      Clubs are for the rich and powerful, members are accepted by where they live, how much money they have, and "who" they are. Membership in these clubs is about being exclusive. Swimming in a fancy pool, or playing rounds of golf, are special benefits to members.

      The church is supposed to be better than a country club, because the church is supposed to be inclusive. It is for those who are mixed up, messed up, and for those who have tried and failed. I know I have failed many times, but God forgives me and lifts me up. Jesus Christ does not tell us to create a cushy comfortable environment where members are pampered, we are supposed to be creating a place where people want to come and change their lives.

      The church is not here to create exclusive clubs or cliques, it is here to show people Jesus Christ, and help them find their way. We are not supposed to separate ourselves, we are to run toward the messed up, mixed up people who are separated from God, because that is what He did for you and me. The church is here to bring in more outsiders, not separate the insiders from the outsiders.

      We need to welcome people who feel unwanted and down and out, because Jesus welcomed them around Him. He changes the life of people no matter what they have done, or who they are. The church is not a country club to entertain the rich and elite, but should be filled with people who are on a mission for Jesus. Our mission is to reach out to the poor and the people who are far from God and show them the way to God. We need to be compassionate about doing whatever it takes to reach people in our own communities and beyond.