Thursday, September 27, 2012


Snow Treasure, the first book I ever read, was about this kid who had this treasure and rode on his sled to take it somewhere. That’s all I remember. What an odd concept for a book, and yet it was the first one I ever finished. I was known to start books, read some, and set them down. Reading was just not my thing. People take so much time to be creative with books.  There are millions of books out there containing millions of concepts. And some of them have the oddest things in them.

“The worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Everyone will be salted with fire. “

Guess what book that is from?  Ok, if you weren’t reading my blog and this was in a newspaper, you probably wouldn’t guess the Bible. But, yes, it’s from a place in Mark where Jesus was teaching his disciples how to be disciples. Sometimes when you consider what Jesus did, it seems like a lot of His time was spent teaching these twelve men. But, this instruction was absolutely necessary so they could share His message with the world.

 In the last twenty years, creative people have stormed the Church with their ideas of how to make the Church an awesome place.  We have watched churches create some of the coolest Vacation Bible Schools, youth events, servant events, and trunk or treats.

I once heard a pastor argue against this and say that the Church needs to be boring. He really said that in his sermon. Don’t tell stories, just preach the Word. I don’t know about you, but the Word of God is not boring. A dude with super strength who could kill a lion with his hands, a talking burning bush, the waters of a huge sea parting, a dead man coming back to life, and yeah, for my ladies out there, a man who would work fourteen years just to get a chance to be married to his wife. Those stories aren’t boring, but sometimes the hardest thing is trying to understand who God wants US to be.

It is one thing to think the Church is cool because of its exciting programs. It’s another to realize that God has called YOU to be His disciple in this world.  The problem is we don’t know what disciples look like, because our natural way of being does not even come close.

God refined the “Twelve” and taught them what it meant to truly follow Him and be His disciples. The Church at large is beginning to realize that we have a bunch of people who love Jesus, but are struggling at times to figure out what He wants their lives to look like, and how to be refined by Him.

These odd lines in Mark about the worm and salt appear right after Jesus talked about how He wanted the disciples to be, and what He wanted them to do. He refined them with fire at times. He made sure that they were salted with the right disciplines to be disciples.  He wanted their lives to reflect Him.  He wanted them to help share His Word.  He wanted them to change completely.

Even though Heaven is not here yet, and we are still on earth, He wants us to be involved in teaching about Heaven; in teaching about Jesus.  He wants us to discover the first step in being refined; and in allowing our lives to reflect Him. What does a disciple of Christ look like?  Are you being refined by the fire of God’s Word?

We will be discussing this during the month of October at Mt. Calvary. It is going to be awesome—refining and defining as we start to listen to the true disciple maker, Jesus! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't shoot the messenger!

At first it seems odd to even ask why this saying has been used through the years. Yet, it is totally applicable for our reading this weekend. This guy, Jeremiah, was supposed to go to these people and tell them they were not listening to God. They responded by continuing to behave in the same way that they had been.
They kept on doing what they had been doing, which meant that they kept on  messing up. After Jeremiah continued to pursue them, and God still showed His love by coming back to them, the people got mad because Jeremiah brought the message that warned them to clean up their act or they would be destroyed.

Harsh words right? God continued to call his people to action in many ways, but specifically in the Old Testament it was with a sense of power and urgency.

In a way we often don’t feel the intensity of this message, but we do recognize when something we do is clearly wrong.   Yet we continue to do it over and over again. This usually creates a reaction in the people around us to eventually call us out. It is one of the tough moments we like to forget, but it is absolutely necessary for our spiritual well being. But so often we want to disregard the messenger. We want to attack the person God sent to speak to us about our specific sin.

When I was on vicarage, I organized my first youth mission trip. The plan was to go to Kansas City.  I felt like all the details were in place. But I had no female chaperone, so I called a friend I knew and flew her in to help us out. It seemed like I had worked out all the arrangements, until some of the kids’ moms questioned a few of the details I had set-up. I was so defensive, because my original plan seemed to indicate that it would prove to be a great trip. But the moms were worried, and probably with good reason. And honestly, looking back, I admit that I was not specific enough on the details. But I wanted to defend myself to my supervising pastor, and ultimately I wanted to “shoot the messenger. “

But the moms’ message was correct, and what better way to learn than on an internship rather then on my first job. God trains all of us in different ways, but are we ready to hear His instructions or do we want to “shoot the messenger”?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thinking in Prayer

From an early age I wanted to be a pastor. At the young age of ten, some of my uncles and my grandpa were encouraging me to consider a pastoral vocation. There were many appealing things about ministry, but also some that were very challenging. I was excited to share the message of Jesus with people, but remembered that prayer was always one of my most challenging things.

I would stand in church and listen to the prayers being rattled off like names in a classroom during attendance. It seemed so challenging to stand there every Sunday and listen to them. Yet, I knew the power of prayer, and how God had created it to be our direct connection to Him.

Finally, as I became a pastor, I felt more comfortable with praying out loud. I observed my growth in this area as I built it into a common “Holy Habit” in my kids’ lives; but I still found times when I forgot to pray before falling asleep. Was I just too exhausted to touch base with Jesus before resting?

I have met some great prayer people in my life. One of them is a great friend of mine. He owns an amazing sandwich shop, and he is absolutely the definition of a prayer warrior. He was the guy who would pray with you for an hour when he came to visit. It was shocking to me when he said that the hardest person to pray with in his life was his wife. I remember thinking, Why is it that a guy who loves prayer has a hard time praying with the love of his life?

This weekend we will talk about prayer. Jesus said to the disciples in Mark 9:29, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”  

If prayer is so powerful it is obvious that the devil would want to prevent us from praying. This weekend we reflect upon the very words of Jesus, but also on the many ways in which we are distracted from reconnecting with Jesus.

As we face so many challenges in life, it is wonderful that we can return to a conversation with our Creator, Rescuer, and Guide in life. This weekend we will spend time talking about the challenges we face in reconnecting, but also about the joy of having an open connection with Jesus.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Will work for a Savior!

One of the most challenging things for a pastor is working with people in social ministry. Most of these people are homeless, and come knocking at your door. My first experiences with this were at my intern congregation. My intern supervisor was known for helping so many in that area that it seemed like we were the preferred center for getting help.

One time a guy came in who claimed he was a fire fighter and asked for One Hundred Dollars. I was a poor intern, but remembered the words of my supervisor, “Who knows--they might really need it.” And so I gave it to him. He promised to come right back. I never saw him again.

Then there was this one time--it was a Friday, and my supervisor was not in on Fridays.  This guy came in who claimed he needed gas money. I told him I didn’t have anything to give him. He jumped up in a rage. He told me that if he killed fifteen people on Main Street it would be my fault. I felt horrible, but didn’t know what to do.

Another time I met this guy who wanted me to take him to the north side of town. I agreed and drove him over there. As we were on our drive he asked for food, so I gave in and pulled into Subway. He said, “Well, I was really hoping for a burger.” Wow, I thought, for real, Dude.

Later I spent time in larger ministries with all kinds of social ministry policies, so I was not involved in it most of the time.

But social ministry is a difficult situation! How are we to know the hearts of these people? Who really has a need and who doesn’t? Now I am often able to evaluate the validity of these requests, but still the question always goes back to what my intern supervisor said, “What if they really need help?”

Yesterday a lady was in the middle of the road and her car was dead. I had just finished soccer practice, and had all three of my kids in the car, with supper resting on the seat. She opened her door to wave me to the next lane. My first thought was, I have so much to deal with right now. But I remembered my friend who almost always stops to help people; he helps me all the time.  So I rolled down the back window and asked her if she had help coming. She quickly responded that Triple A was on the way, but she wasn’t sure why they were not here now. I realized that in the center of West County that might make her think I was going to yell at her for not getting out of the road quickly. Honestly, I was relieved that she had help coming, because the only thing I could do with three kids along was to call someone for her. But it reminded me that we all need help.

Sometimes the thing we want or ask for may not be the thing we really need. I know some of you can’t ever imagine rolling up to a church and asking for money, but there are other things you call on to relieve your world, your pain, and your sin. Unfortunately, it is not always Jesus.

James was the brother of Jesus. I can’t imagine being the brother of Jesus. But it meant that he looked at his older brother and then found out that He was the Savior of the world. That may have been a hard pill to swallow, so when it came time to believe in his brother being a savior he struggled with it. But when he finally did get it, it became something he wanted everyone to know. That is why he wrote such a convicting and challenging book. James believed that when you see Jesus, you want to respond to Him. Whether we know it or not we all need a savior, and when we find our true Savior in Jesus, we can’t help but work for Him. Sure there are tough days, but it is much easier to look at the lady on the side of road and help her. She may need Jesus too, and we just might get the chance to share it with her. James had that passion for the Gospel, and that is why he wrote the book he did. 

In hearing the message of Jesus there are those moments where we stop and say, “Will work for my Savior!” because we need Jesus so badly, and want other people
to know His love.