Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A different set of rules

Rules are usually a good thing. Think about driving without any rules (I've been to Haiti and other countries and seen the results of this...bad news). Did you ever play a game with someone who didn't follow the rules...cheaters aren't that fun to be around. Rules are normally a good thing, as long as the person/establishment making the rules is a moral person.

When you compare the rules of the world with God's rules, there is a large separation. The world says that it's all right to respond in anger if you are mistreated....immorality is all right as long as nobody is physically harmed...it's ok mock/gossip about others as long as most people laugh...drunkenness is fine as long as you have a designated driver...this list could go on for quite a while.

Christ's rules are simple and totally opposite of the ways of the world. I think Paul sums up all of God's rules in one of his letters to the Corinthian church:

1 Corinthians 16:14, "Do everything in love."

His statement is founded in Jesus' statement:

John 13:35, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

How are you going to show God's love today, this week, this month? What will you do when you are mistreated? Who's rules will you follow? Jesus' rules are tough to follow, but He doesn't ask us to do anything He hasn't done or experienced Himself.

Love others...represent Christ. Do everything in love. Stay strong.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Sunday...best day ever!

It was a day of emotion, excitement, energy, everything I could ever imagined. There was a lot of anticipation building up the previous two weeks after we knew who was ready to go on Super Bowl Sunday. A lot of discussion and phone calls happened to family members discussing the game plan including what and where they would be during the event! I had just finished watching a video celebrating previous victories. Finally, after all the discussing, planning, strategizing, excitement, prayer...there I stood at the bottom of the steps.

I had the honor of baptizing three folks (Yvonne, Laura, and Jose), and there I stood in the baptistry, watching Jose exit past my oldest son, Caleb, who stood at the top of the steps garbed in a white robe wearing a big, nervous smile on his face. It had already been an emotional day doing the previous three baptisms and watching the highlight video from Decision Day. As he came down the steps, I could feel my stomach start to bunch up and the tears start to build.

I don't really cry that much. Now, I don't believe in that "real men don't cry" machismo garbage...I actually believe the opposite (See John 11:35). I'm just not wired to cry a whole lot. However, as my son now stood in front of me looking up at my face, I knew the tears were imminent. I introduced him, "And this is my son...Caleb Gray." The clapping was immediate, before I had even baptized him. The tears started to flow.

I choked through the Good Confession and wept more as I heard my 9 year old son repeat the most important words that he could ever believe. "I believe...that Jesus is the Christ...the Son of the Living God...my Lord and Savior!" WOW.

Is there anything more important than that single statement. When Jesus asked Peter who he thought Jesus was, that was Peter's answer. Simple...precise...perfect. That statement is said by many, but I believe you should also live that statement. That statement should be as evident in our lives as any tattoo would be.

What a joy to hear Caleb's voice repeat those words and, with tear filled eyes (both mine and his), to watch him be lowered under the water and rise to walk in a brand new life (Romans 6:4). The cheering from the church escalated. Indescribable. Truly amazing.

So what do you truly believe? My nine year old has a long way to go as far as figuring God out...so do I. But we both know one thing for sure. Jesus IS the Christ...THE Son of the Living God. God doesn't call us to figure everything out and then come to Him. He says to come right now...just as you are (Romans 5:8)...and put your faith in Him. In fact, that's what faith is all about...trusting that God is who He says He is without having everything figured out.

Faith like a child...it's a wonderful thing to watch, behold, and be a part of. Thank you Caleb for being an example to your dad, and thank you Jesus for your amazing Grace, Forgiveness, and Love.

Consider Christ every moment of every day. Live like He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Stay strong.


Monday, February 1, 2010

When you have kids...

So I wake up on Saturday morning to my 9 year old son asking Heather and I if we could define a word for him. I was so proud because this is what I heard...

"Mom, Dad...could you help me with a word. I was reading my Bible this morning and I found a word I didn't understand."

It doesn't get better than that as a Dad. Hearing my son choosing to start the morning in God's Word...I was so proud. So I lay there half awake smiling as Heather asked him what the word was.

"What does 'circumcised' mean?" He was reading about Abraham's covenant with God.

I quickly closed my eyes and pretended to still be asleep, but Heather's laughter was infectious and I quickly joined her. Caleb sat there patiently, wondering why we were laughing. Heather quickly passed the question to me and left the room, taking my 8 year old daughter with her.

So I sat there, eye to eye with my nine year old son's innocent, smiling face...ready to talk man to man about circumcision. Awesome. Wondering how he was going to respond to the answer was amusing me tremendously. Well, here we go...

I decided to take the definition from two different perspectives:
1. The medical perspective: I just straight up told him what happens when a man is circumcised. His face was that of a shocked boy in a bit of pain...and throw in a morsel of "grossed-out" just for fun. I continued on to...
2. The spiritual perspective: I explained how God was setting Abraham/his descendants/and eventually the entire nation of Israel apart to be His people. God wanted Abraham to have faith in God and obey Him. The physical task was tough (understatement of the millennium), but it was up to Abraham to trust and obey God. It came down to faith, and that faith in God was the foundation for His people. I went on to explain how that faith also protected them against infection and disease that could happen to folks who were uncircumcised back then, and that God was protecting His people. Caleb's response: "Cool......but gross." I agreed, and we moved on through the rest of our day.

Can you imagine being Abraham when God called you to do something like that? WOW! And to think about some of the things I complain about (I recently caught myself complaining to God about it being too windy because the breeze was spraying oil all over as I tried to pour it into my wife's van)...ridiculous. Think of some of the other things God talked to Abraham about doing:

- God asks Abraham to move...never tells him where to go. It's about FAITH.
- God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son (which would seemingly destroy the promise God had made to Abraham that he would become the Father of all Israel and his descendants would be too numerous to count)...It's about FAITH.

It's easy to follow God when everything makes sense...that doesn't take faith. What about when you don't have the answers...when faith is required? Will you follow God then?

- I barely have enough money to survive and am in debt...I can't afford to tithe!
- There's no way God can deliver me from this addiction...He's not powerful enough...He doesn't understand the temptation!
- I can't talk to someone about God...I'm not good at speaking!

The list could go on for a long time...but it comes back to FAITH. Do you trust God or not?

Revelation 1:8
"I am the
Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

Today, you will put your faith in something...someone. Will it be a material possession? What about a person? Maybe you'll put your faith in yourself. Or...how about a God that always has and always will be...the ALMIGHTY! Remember God is in control, no matter what you or I think. To believe that statement is true and act on it takes FAITH. How will you depend on God today?

Stay strong,

P.S. - After I tucked Caleb into bed, he softly asked me, "Daddy, did you have to...well...you know...do what we talked about this morning to me when I was born?"

"WOW...no way!" was my emphatic response. "That's what doctors are for!"

"Good..." Caleb replied, "...because I didn't want to have any boys if I was going to have to do that!"