Rejoice…Pray…Give Thanks.

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I think yesterday’s sermon flopped with some folks, but I didn’t have much choice in the matter…  It is definitely something God wants (at least some of) us to hear, me most of all, but it’s something I’ve been bad at… so no wonder the sermon flopped!  But I’m really glad for the message (if I do say so myself) because in my life it’s been a missing link.  I can act happy just as well as the next guy, but rejoicing always (praying, and giving thanks under every circumstance) was not my thing.  Normally I’m cynical and negative.  If there are ten things right and one thing wrong, I can spot the one thing in under five seconds and have it ruin the whole experience for me.  It’s no wonder I couldn’t see God move often times; my mind is trained on seeing the human parts that are broken. Continue reading

Top ten reasons to pray even though God already knows everything…

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It must be a full moon or something because I actually have a few minutes to write a post, and there’s something I want to write about…  But there’s one problem, I don’t have a number “1.”  What kind of top ten post doesn’t have a number 1?  Well I couldn’t do a “top 9″ post now could I?  So I need your help.  Take a look at the 9 I have and tell me what the #1 reason should be.  So the question is: Why should I pray if God already knows everything that’s going to happen and everything I’m going to ask for?  Here we go…my top ten (9) reasons are:

10. God is your Father, not your Butler…

If you had a good dad that wanted to spend time with you, that’s a little bit of what God is like, He wants to spend time with you, to hear your voice, to hear your thoughts…even though He already knows them.  If you didn’t grow up with a dad like that, cheer up because you have one now…  God, your REAL Father wants a relationship with you. Yes, He wants to give you stuff also, but that’s secondary.  What this means is, God is NOT your genie in a bottle, He is not your fairy godmother, and it’s part of His kindness that He puts up with us when we think of Him like that.  One of the main ways you have a relationship with someone is by talking with them.  When we talk to God it’s called prayer. Continue reading

Why there are Jesus dropouts…

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You know, those seasons when Jesus followers decide, “screw it, I’m going to do my own thing for a while.”  Often Jesus dropouts don’t admit they’re dropping out, they rationalize it by saying: you can be a Christian and do — so that’s what I’m doing…  ”You don’t have to go to church to follow Jesus,” “you don’t have to tithe“, “you don’t have to read the Bible every day,” all true – you don’t have to do a lot of things…  But sometimes the core motivation people say those things is because they really want to get away from God.  So there are LOTS of people who are really living for themselves (their appetites, their tastes, their culture, their dreams) who SAY they are following Jesus but really they’ve dropped out.  And the question I want to address is: Why do people drop out of following Jesus like that? If God is so good then why are there dropouts at all?  And why the heck are there so many? Continue reading

The most common mistake you don’t have to make…

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Imagine if you made the same mistake over and over again.  And imagine that mistake actually takes you off track spiritually (over and over again.  And imagine, yet again, that it’s a really simple mistake to avoid… Avoiding this mistake will make you happier (indirectly), give you a better perspective on life and other people, and make God feel more real and relevant every minute of the day.  And I’m just talking about ONE really common and simple mistake Christians make, greatly diminishing God’s word and power in their lives.  And here it is: our mistake is we forget that EVERYONE is sinful.  You, me, the people in the church, the people outside the church, our heroes, our villains, everyone. Continue reading

Eating every day…

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You know that time when God seemed BIG, and everything just came into clearer perspective?  When you vowed you wouldn’t obsess about your looks, or status symbols, or money, and swore to yourself you’d live for Jesus?  It all felt so real and so clear… and at that moment it was easier to forgive, easier to love, easier to give it all to Jesus.  But then later it just fizzled away.  What happened?  Was it all just emotions?  Why don’t I feel that way right now?  If you really want to know it’s very very simple, and what we need to do is simple too. Continue reading

Being bad at worship…

mtsinai5Jesus says we’re bad at worship: You can go worship on the right mountain, you can know the Scripture accurately, you can pray the right words (and mean them)…and yet not actually bow down in your heart to God…not acknowledge God’s worth, or “lift up His name.” So some examples we talked about (past couple of Sundays) was: our singing can be heartfelt and energetic, and elevate our emotions, or elevate performers rather than elevate God. The same goes for sermons or Christian books… it’s more often we read a “great” Christian book (or listen to a new worship CD) and think “what a great book!” (or author, or performer!) instead of truly thinking, “What an amazing God!” This is why so many Christians are connoisseurs… Connoisseurs of worship music, connoisseurs of preachers, connoisseurs of churches…instead of passionate Jesus followers! Continue reading

Fill ‘er up!

fillerup5 Here’s a quick thought: if you could be “filled” with anything (if your life could be filled with anything you chose) then what would it be?

1. Filled with Recognition: for people to see how great you are and admire you.  THEN I’ll really be living life!

2. Filled with Money: the ability to buy what you want, when you want, and not have to worry about the cost.  THEN I’ll really be living life!

3. Filled with Pleasure: Yes, get your mind out of the gutter!  Having great food and mind-blowing activities, and incredible travel adventures…  THEN I’ll really be living life! Continue reading

You can live (pretty well) even without God…sorta

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I think you can live pretty well without believing in God.  I said yesterday during the Q&A: …that although a big part of a believer’s life is learning to rely on God, and lean on Him for things like healing, wisdom, guidance, gifts, help… many of you are smart enough and capable enough to live on your own apart from Him.  Sometimes Christians say, “I don’t know how I could get by without God!”  And non-believing friends think: that’s why you need God, “because you’re psychologically weak and the idea of God is your coping mechanism…”  But that’s DEEPLY mistaken.

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What to do with tragedy

I was working on a passage to preach on Sunday, but on Friday night I bailed out and did another (related) passage instead.  The passage I was planning to preach on had to do with a sociopathic governor named Herod who killed all the baby boys in the region of Bethlehem: Jesus’ birth didn’t take place in an idyllic village with soft snow and soothing hymns; it took place in a violent time in a broken world amidst chaos, fear, loss, poverty, injustice, and all those things people think they can fix.  Little has changed in two thousand years.  Yes we have better technology: news of Herod’s slaughter was by word of mouth, we get our news of tragedies over the internet.  We have better government: and I think our recent tragedy will help push toward national gun control (even though gun control laws would not have changed what happened a few days ago).  Also, I think we have better culture: more people are interested in helping, volunteering, working for humanitarian causes and non-profits.  And yet…the core problems of violence, injustice, and powerlessness among the poor – these things haven’t changed.  So what do we do with tragedy?  Here’s what I think… Continue reading