Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Make Every Moment Count

How Will We Remember You?
If you’ve paid attention to the news over the last 3 months or so, you’ve heard about some of the disturbing things that had happened and then got covered up at Penn State University several years ago. Joe Paterno, Penn State’s legendary football coach got a lot of attention for his part in the scandal – which was that he allowed people in his organization to commit heinous crimes without penalty and then allowed them to remain in positions of authority where they could continue to do bad things if they chose to.
The point is this: Joe Paterno died two weeks ago.
How will he be remembered? For most of the world, he will not be remembered as the legendary coach but as a key part to one of the biggest scandals in college sports history.
How will you be remembered?
I am about to drive to Albany to take my wife and son to the airport. I found myself making a mental “honey-do” list while getting ready this morning. Then a somber thought entered my head: I might not ever make it back to Utica. What have I done this week or last? This month? This past year? How would people remember me?

We never know when our last moment will be. 
Make it count.

James 4:13-17
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Least We Can Do is ... Ask

The other day I was talking to a friend about a dream that I had that I was able to remember pretty vividly. Several quirky things happened and some that I was sure were symbolic of something... the thing that set the dream apart was the feeling I remembered. The images and events were odd, but the feeling was awesome and almost other-worldy. 

"You should ask God what it means." He said. 

I suppose I often go through life and don't think to ask God. These are trivial things, why would I bother God with them. But perhaps they aren't trivial and perhaps God really cares about them. MAYBE I DO NOT HAVE because I have not asked.

James 4:2-3  (NIV 1984) You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

As a side note. I was going to title this post, "The Least We Can Do is Pray." But then I thought about the negative(?) connotation I have with that word. I put prayer in the same space in my mind as evangelism. Through my entire Christian life these were always tasks that were daunting... even if I was trying to do them, I have this feeling that I can never do them good enough. Sometimes changing our language helps us change our outlook. Instead of thinking about evangelism- I started thinking about serving and reaching out and I got better at it. Instead of prayer... instead of saying things like, "How is your prayer life?" or "You should pray about it." or even, "I will pray for you." Maybe we should (or I should) start being more specific... "I will ask God to help you." "You should thank God for that." or maybe even, "You should beg God to help you with that." I think we might get some good results... itlwcd, right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Least You Can Do FOR ME!

I just did a lot of Bible reading on spiritual growth. 

There are many areas in which God's Word encourages us to grow: in love, in grace, in knowledge (wisdom, understanding, learning, etc.), in charity, in favor with God and man, in our Spiritual gifts, in unity... and the list goes on. Many of these urgings are in the context of the Apostle Paul writing to a church and telling them that he has been praying for them...
for example, 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, "Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

One example of this REALLY stuck out to me: Colossians 4:12, "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured." 

WOW! Wouldn't it be great to have someone who was always wrestling in prayer for you?

Apparently Paul and Silvanus and Timothy thought so as they close the first letter the the Thessalonians, "Brothers, pray for us!" (5:25)

Pray for me! Pray for each other!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Least You Can Do in Worship

Have You Been To a Concert?
A friend of mine recently asked me if I had ever been to a rock n roll concert.
I have.
“Why is it,” he asked, “That if a rock concert goes on for two hours people get upset that it was not long enough, but if a worship service goes for that long people complain about it being too long.”
I suppose there are several possible answers to this question. My friend was thinking along the lines of worship services being boring and that if we the church are making the worship of our God a boring time, well, that is a sin we need to repent of. People who are leading worship should at least consider this.
For everyone else:
The word that came to my mind almost immediately was “INVESTMENT.” A person that goes to a rock concert gets upset with a two hour show because they may have paid $50-$100 to attend. They expect more. They expect to be entertained and to have some kind of experience – otherwise they could just stay home and listen to the CD right?
The person who is bored at a worship service is likely a person who is not invested. They aren’t invested in the church. They aren’t invested in the worship and they aren’t invested in God.
Investment leads to passionate participation.
Try this: sing “Jesus Loves Me” two times. The first time sing with a smile on your face and decide to be excited about it. Take joy in the fact that Jesus Christ really does love you! The second time you sing it, think about something sad. Sit and look straight forward or down toward your lap. Try to be emotionless and perhaps even monotone.
Which version do you prefer?
Which will you choose so sing this Sunday?
Sometimes church is boring because it is disorganized and led poorly.
Sometimes the church is boring because you are making it boring.