Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
Please let me share a Letter I received from one of our Members.
A story was told about an old store owner and his AIM graduate son. The
son was complaining to his father that the old man was old fashioned
and not using a modern financial accounting system in his store. The
son was asking how his father would know how much profit he was
earning. The old man replied that it was easy. "I started this store
with an empty pocket, so what I have now is the profit."
Although the above story was too simplistic. I would like to add the
sentence "after deducting the debt is the profit." It saddens me
that many new enterprising businessmen I know fail after a
spectacular start because they forgot about the word "DEBT."
Usually when you start a new business, Your heart and soul goes into
the business. The business will naturally flourish after a while. You
start to get a big float in the bank because of the longer credit
terms or loans available to the businessman. Then you get
blinded with all the money in the bank. You start to relax and
start spending the money in unproductive items like expensive
houses, fancy cars, unnecessary travel trips, high personal
consumption, gambling, wine, women and song. If the economy
is in the upturn and sales go up, the deficit can easily get
covered However, if there is an economic downturn and sales go
down, the time of reckoning will come and the business goes bankrupt.
All because you forgot the word "DEBT."
Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
This is one of my favorite little thoughts I read long ago.
A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.
It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.
The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon.
Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
I so enjoyed teaching on the weekend. To be able to teach people how wonderful God is and how easy it is for Him to be a part of our life is like ice cream (and you know I love ice cream hahaha). For more years than I wish to remember I was a Pentecostal Christian who believed in the Holy Spirit's work and was used in the gifts of the Spirit. However, I used to listen to Dr. Cho speak of his relationship with the Holy Spirit and could never really understand. One of the great things that happened in my life during the revival days was to develop this relationship. It is not a spooky nor a difficult thing. He is a part of our lives. The problem lies with things we have heard that have made the relationship complicated. One of the things I kept driving home last weekend is that God does not suffer from "multiple personality disorder." Jesus said " if you have seen me you have seen the father." He also said that the Holy Spirit was "another (allos: of the same kind) comforter." God is one person with one personality! It is so easy to have a relationship with the Holy Spirt, He is already in us, all we have to do is stop ignoring Him and spend time with Him.
Monday, September 7th, 2009
Many years ago I heard a Pastor in the province who barely spoke English preach a sermon that it was the will of God for children to suffer because.... and he quoted the King James version "Suffer the little children to come unto me". We may all smile at this, but how sad. I hear the same thing today as pastors use modern definitions of a term to define a bible word to proof text their own thoughts, rather than allow thoughts to flow from the scripture. A good example of this is the word 'wine.' Now I know, this is not popular to say, but it does need to be said. To say that Jesus drank wine, and to allow people to think that it meant the same thing then as it does now is just not honest exegesis. To make Jesus look like He 'knew how to party' because He created an abundance of wine at the wedding of Cana, and to allow people to think that Jesus facilitated a drunken feast is just not honest exegesis. To use the wine served at the last supper as a validation for putting a "bar" in the church lobby is beyond comprehension. What is called wine today and what was called wine in Jesus' day are very different subjects. Words can be used to communicate or to manipulate truth. Jesus taught with integrity. He used words accurately. Maybe when we start to look at a controversial subject we should start with better definitions? Some things must be understood in the cultural context. Often language separates not because we do not know the word but because the definition has changed. For instance who would have ever dreamed that the terms "cool" and "hot" would be terms of appreciation and not a description of temperature?
Monday, September 7th, 2009
I stand amazed at how true Solomon's words are. Everything just repeats (Eccl 1:9). Each generation seems to make the same mistakes. Few ever learn from the past, as they will not listen to those who go before them. If they would just learn, they could go far beyond anything their predecessors had ever accomplished. I see a new generation of young pastors around the world proclaiming they must reach their generation, so move out of the way all you who come before us, it is our day! I just smile and remember the "Joshua" generation sermons that young preachers preached in my youth. I never joined that chorus as it seemed then (and now) that all they want is someone to pay their bills, and they want the "stage." We must encourage the pastors in their 40-60's to not give up. These should be the greatest, most productive days in their lives and ministries, but instead they are dropping out by the scores. They have the knowledge, wisdom, and scars to lead and to train a new generation that will follow them. They must resist the discouragement brought on by the "prodigals" and the "Peter Pans" in the modern church world. They must lead!!
Contrary to modern myth, seasoned pastors are not "irrelevant." We only become irrelevant if our teaching is devoid of the word and based on modern culture, slogans and marketing. These "fad" teachings do have a very short "shelf life." When we live the word and teach the word , truth is timeless and relevant to all ages and societies.
Saturday, September 5th, 2009
The most painful thing I have ever witnessed in a man or woman of greatness is when they become irrelevant. In the life of Uzziah we see such a man ( 2 Chron. 26). He was a man of passion, administrative ability, intelligence, and he had God's presence on his life. One day, in his success, his pride led his to a very poor decision - a decision to attempt to control the work of God. To move out of his calling and God given authority. This was manifested by his desire to burn incense on the altar of incense, and his total disrespect for the spiritual leaders who stood in his way. How different his attitudes toward spiritual leaders from his youth when Zechariah taught him the fear of God and he sought God. Spiritual leaders had not changed, he had! The penalty for his "unfaithfulness" (God's definition of his sin) was to contract leprosy and to live in isolation until his death. He was still king, but he was irrelevant. His son Jotham governed as administrator in his place. He was sidelined, he was put on the bench, whatever metaphor you wish to use. The greatness was still inside him, but could no longer be expressed.
I do not believe we become irrelevant due to age, appearance, or even cultural changes. As long as we seek God, God will give us success. We only become irrelevant when, due to pride, we step out of our calling and authority. That is called being unfaithful.
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
What is the difference between a Christian who struggles with sin every day, and one who truly enjoys his Christian life? How can we really enjoy the Christian life, and not be so pulled by the sin that surrounds us in our schools, offices, and everyday life. For some, the answer is to give up the struggle and just join them. Go to church on Sunday and live a compromising life the rest of the week. After all, “if you can’t beat them join them.” Much of Christianity today is determined by some need to be as accepted by the world as possible. The problem is the constant conviction of sin, the hardening of the heart to sin, the question of 'how close is too close' etc. THERE IS, HOWEVER, A FAR EASIER, LESS FRUSTRATING WAY!
Just spend time with Jesus (John 15)! If you will learn a basic spiritual life of reading the Bible, worship and prayer everyday and taking a Sabbath Day to rest and be with God each week, it will amaze you how easy it becomes to live right. It really is easy to live right when you live with Him. Our walk in this world should not be a constant pressure on our will to live right. When your attention is on Him, there is a lot you just never see or hear.
Watch out for the new E3 emphasis!
Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Multiple services in a local church, once rare, are now common. I see a great deal of discussion regarding the practical aspects of doing this, but little on what it really takes. It really takes a Pastor and Pastoral staff that love the Presence of God. You cannot participate in 5 or 6 services a week and really worship, pray and minister properly if you do not enjoy the Presence of God. Without a love for the Presence it becomes routine and common. Next a disrespect for God will enter and then the end is sealed. The life of a Pastor is completely about His walk with God A Love for the Presence. A Love for the Presence. A Love for the Presence.
Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Over 19 years ago I looked into the back seat as we left the hospital and saw a tear roll down the right cheek of my wife as we brought our beautiful little daughter home. Incredible joy!! Last Sunday afternoon I saw another tear, on that same right cheek, as we said good-bye to our all grown up little girl going off to Bible school following God's plan for her life. (We won't even begin to talk about Dad's tears). This time the joy is mixed with a collage of pride, sadness and excitement to see her become all that God wants her to be. What happened to the years in between? The "first hugs" in the morning, the "why to the 21st level" the "daddy pauses" as we learned together? The laughter as she said: let's make Dad watch a girl movie and the smile as she said let's take Dad to an action movie or looking at cars. The times when she would just sit down and want to talk, and now the "whys" were to understand God and His work . They grow up so fast!!!. They are born to grow up and leave. We get to help mold their thoughts and lives then watch them go out with God's hand on them to change the world. We can still do the greatest thing we ever did for them: pray. We can still make sure they always know there is a strong family as a foundation under them so they are never afraid to reach for the impossible. So this is what our parents felt as we went out, excited, into the adventure of life with God? Hmmm, remind me to hug my Mom and Dad again.
There is much discussion in Christian leadership today about "engaging the Culture" of the world. I admit, I have never figured out the fascination some Christians seem to have with being accepted and loved by the world. Jesus and Paul were very clear. We will not be loved by the world nor should we love the world. We are not a sub-culture seeking acceptance by the majority. We are a counter-culture seeking to change the world! Radical Christianity is not engaging the culture of the world. The real radical Christians are those who chose to live like Christ in the middle of this world. The "ways" of this world come from satan, and we are no longer to conform to their pattern. We are citizens of heaven with an entire culture of our own. In 2 Chronicles 33:17 we see the people of Judah having a partial reformation. They insisted however on doing worship where and how they wanted, rather than where and how God had said. The "high places" were are part of their culture now. They wanted their culture, but just replaced their demon gods with the true God. It does not work like that!!!!! True confession of sin means that we agree with God that we are wrong and He is right, not just partially right.