Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Greatest Desires

Lord, I know my desire is ultimately YOU. So how does that flesh out in my life?

You have given me a wife. May I learn to love her as You love the church. It is a hurdle I will never eclipse. May I be found faithfully leaping until my dying breath.

You have given me three beautiful girls. May I love them enough to teach them and mentor them in You. Let it be real enough to take them through this difficult world.

You have made me a football coach. May I never forsake that calling to train young men. If I am not a great coach, I have no foundation to speak into their lives.

You have made me a Bible teacher to young and old alike.

I accept the reformed faith as a sacred trust and a personal possession- make me not only a teacher…but a spiritual force for Your kingdom.

I want our football program to be the finest Christian program in the nation.

I want our school to prepare the students and defend the faith like Princeton college and seminary in its golden age of effectiveness.

Make me like the great Presbyterians of old:

“hard-headed, long-winded, stout-hearted Presbyterianism”
“We may well be thankful that the Presbyterian Church has so largely escaped the prevailing doubt and dissatisfaction with the ancient faith delivered to the saints. From the old bed-rock we have taken no new departures. It was the honest boast of Dr. Charles Hodge, that Presbyterianism has made no new discoveries in Bible Theology….Thank God! The past of American Presbyterianism is secure.” THEODORE CUYLER, Princeton College and Seminary Graduate May 24, 1888

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Message to the Churches in Revelation

Get Up and Get in to the Game:
The Message to the Churches in Revelation

Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 may be the most important passages to post-modern Christians in the 21st century. Our human tendency to take this important book and chart it or plot it or over cook it which usually leads to confusion and ineffective application.

I claim no hidden or special expertise here- I am simply a reader. But the word “Revelation” means to “move the veil”. It is God’s unveiling of the “right now”.

So I challenge you to read, reflect, and ask yourself deep probing questions. Then statistically, 72% of us need to do some serious repenting.

Jesus asked the question in Luke 18:8 “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” I have always been intrigued by that question.

There are both specific messages and general messages in Revelation 2 and 3. These were actual letters to actual churches. Each letter had a specific exhortation based on current circumstances.

But there is also ample rationale to see a bigger picture here. Why limit the number to 7? There were more than seven active churches in Asia Minor at the time. Seven is a symbolic number in this apocalyptic book, so it hints to a symbolic representation as well as actual, specific places. And each letter contains a loaded Biblical phrase, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. “ The letter is to one specific church, but the fact that we are encouraged to have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches (plural) gives clear encouragement to study, learn, and apply these situations personally.

So what do we learn from Christ’s message to His churches?

I Christ is present, active, and extremely interested in the local church. The introduction in Chapter 1 shows a glorified Jesus in the midst of the lamp stands, which are the churches. He is represented in personifications that will be attached to the different churches. Jesus sees, He knows, He is acquainted- He desires holiness and faithfulness to Him. There is a universal, invisible, and triumphant church that will be the over comers, but Jesus is intimately walking and present in the visible church as well. The local church, its ministry and mission, is subject to the Lord.

II For the most part, the church is in a mess. Please don’t ever get caught up in wishing the church could be glorious like the old days. From the 1st century on, the visible expression of God’s kingdom is chaotic and messy. But that is the nature of war on the battlefront. In Chapter 4 of Revelation, there is a scene change to the Throne. All is at peace there. D-day has already happened. These are the final battles that inevitably will determine V-day. Church splits, embattled pastors, compromise, idolatry, misguided distractions, ineffective blustering, flame outs – is just par for the course. Of the 7 churches only 2 are found to be not requiring repentance, and those two are on life support with the Lord coaching them to hang in there.

Ephesus- great doctrine - no love
Smyrna- faithful- but poor and facing unrelenting attack
Pergamum- manipulative rationalization and compromise
Thyratira- idolatry and compromise
Sardis- social acceptance without any meaningful ministry
Philadelphia- faithful and steady- not out of the woods yet
Laodicea- Materialistic- nauseating lack of effectiveness

I noticed, though, that in each case, the struggling churches were sick, but not dead. It was a mixed bag. Some of the sin in each church was threatening its extinction, but none had been removed. Jesus is even patient with Jezebel- “I gave her time to repent”.

In many of these sick churches, there are faithful individuals. The encouragement is to them. Stick with it- I know it is hard- stay the course- Winners (conquerors) get to eat of the tree of life, will not get hurt in the 2nd death, get to eat heavenly food and is given a special name, will rule with authority, will get the morning star, will be cleansed and secure in the book of life, will receive a crown, will have a place in the new city, will sit on the throne.

With this in mind there are some applications:

For me:
I need to repent- I am materialistic, unfaithful, I have a lack of zeal, unloving, prideful, lured by sexual immorality, I compromise and shrink in cowardice, I quit too easily, I am relegated to ineffectiveness by my worldliness.

Oh Lord, break me- I am afraid to even voice that prayer- but I don’t want to be lost in this stinking and dying world, do what you need to make me effective and faithful.

I need to stand. I need to be a faithful and true witness. It means being unpopular at times and getting hammered by culture, I have not experienced much of this – but it will be coming. I need to persevere in the truth.

I need to serve my local church and seek to see her as “Philadelphia”.

For my church:

We have to stop measuring success by the world’s standards. The large, rich churches with great reputations may not be what they appear.

The great church- does not worry about status.
The great church- takes seriously God’s word
The great church- keeps God’s word
The great church- does not deny Christ when the pressure is on
The great church- patiently perseveres in hard times
The great church- is steady and true- faithful to the King
The great church- is loved by Christ

Oh Lord, make my church a Philadelphia. Let it start with me.

While we have time- let’s keep serving our King- He is coming soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Seduced to Subtleties

Is it just me, or does it seem that the atheists are bolder and colder?

Any browsing on 'you tube' or other sites and you see them growing more callous and caustic everyday.

The farther we drift from the mystery and majesty of God, the less flesh trembles at the prospect of truth.

I say over and over- it is a sleight of hand. We all argue in broad brush sound bites and universal ignorance. WE ALL LIVE BY FAITH.

Materialists stand firm on their inner rationale. Deists stand on the precipice of revealed objective truth claims.

Revelation 4:1 “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’”

The phrase “must take place” in the great book of Revelation comes straight from the glorified Jesus. It points to God’s divine pre-destination. He doesn’t say what will take place, which might tempt us to think of His divine foreknowledge. No- Jesus, from the sovereign headquarters in heaven, is still in the control room. He shows John what ‘must” be.

“We must crush this spirit of this age under our feet that says ‘I don’t want to think, I want to feel’. God’s sovereignty is not theological lumber you can live without. It is not a philosophical conundrum only for the intellectual elite. God’s sovereignty is a soft pillow for a weary head. A sovereign God is a comfort to the church under attack. It is a message to Christians facing opposition and even martyrdom. Jesus says to John, ‘Come up to the control tower and watch what must take place’.”
Rev.Art Azurdia

“Should we say, "perhaps you should try Jesus as your savior"
...almost with a consumer market oriented mentality"?. "There are
lots of religious options and if you try this particular religious
option you might like it." ... No... rather, Jesus is Lord and he will
soon be invading with His armies. He is offering pardon in advance
of His invasion and should you receive the pardon and ally yourself
with Him now before He invades, when he comes you will be
considered His ally and He will raise you to Kingship. The
alternative is to be under the wrath of the king. It is not some kind
of religious option. It is an announcement that a new king is on the
throne and he'll be invading. The gospel is not an invitation to an
array of a buffet style choices, it is a command. Will you heed the
command? Jesus is Lord, repent and believe.
-William Wilder

I am a simple man. But I will continue to say to all who courageously blaspheme, mock, and attack. Are you really prepared for the incredible possibility that you may be wrong?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I Repent

Revelation 3:8 "I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. "

I have been struggling the last few months with my insignificance and low organizational authority. I am like most people in that I have no power.

And I get frustrated. I see things happening, decisions made, people mistreated - and I have no ability to get things done.

But this morning the Lord encouraged me. He is the authority. He has the keys. He has the access. He is in control.

So I repent. I repent of my losing attitude. Lord, you control my state and my finances. You could care less about my status. All You desire is that I will be faithful to You.

My attitude has hampered this. Please forgive me.

I Corinthians 1:26" For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'"

Lord, You are Sovereign and in control. You know my desires and my evil manipulative ways. Please forgive my frustration of not patiently trusting in You. Your ways are not my ways. I now humbly seek You and Your timing. Whatever my circumstance, may I glorify You in my joy and steadfastness. My discontentment is sin. Amen