Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Budweiser Clydesdales

Imagine watching the Super Bowl commercials coming up this weekend. There on your HD TV (of course I still have a tube jobby), you see the beautiful Clydesdale horses toting the Budweiser wagon across your screen. Just as the last row of horses comes into view, their's a jackass (no, not Johnny Knoxville) tied to the last harness. That would look kind of odd wouldn't it? It just doesn't fit together.

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers........." (2Cor 6:14)

What does yoked mean? Well, think back to the days when people used oxen as their trucks. They had to yoke multiple oxen together to get the goods where they needed to go. They needed a team that worked off the same principles and towards the same goal.

Some people see this verse and go, "So I can divorce my wife now who doesn't know Christ and marry that good looking women I have been talking to at church?" WRONG.

Still others see this verse and go,"So this means that I have to dump all my friends who do not know Christ because I am now at a higher level spiritually than they are?" WRONG again.

God was not talking about the unbelievers in our lives with respect to who we socialize with. Those people still need us. God was referring to those whom we choose to minister with. Do you think that it makes sense to start spreading the Truth to teenagers with someone who believes that oral sex is not sex because it is not specifically quoted in the Bible? Do you think that it makes sense to try and minister to a divorced man with another man who thinks that it's okay to divorce because sometimes people just don't get along? That's crazy. It doesn't make sense. This verse goes on saying:

"For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" Now that right there makes some sense. These things don't go together. I'm not saying that we get it right all the time and there won't be disagreements among us. But, we must not compromise what we know to be true just to stay on someones good side in the church. We're not doing God any favors.

Cinching up my harness for Christ,
Jesus Freak Out!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moved by the Spirit

I have a story to tell about how the Spirit moved me the other day. This feels like one of those stories you only see in your e-mail, but I must say that I never felt this moved by God before in my life. It's a little long, but bear with me. There is no great climactic scene of someone coming to Christ, just a cool story about what it's like to really do as God has moved us. By the way, thanks to BH for letting me know this was a bigger deal than I really thought it was:

It was this past Sunday and the unpacked boxes from our move were starting to annoy me in the garage. So I decided it was time to get rid of them, as well as some of the Goodwill stuff I had been meaning to deliver for about 2 weeks. As I was breaking down the boxes to put in my truck, I was still debating whether or not I should wait and take them to the closer trash dump on the next major street over when they opened Monday morning, or just take them over to my old Dunedin stomping grounds. My wife looked at me and asked me what I was going to do and I had to think for a minute. And another minute went by as I started thinking of other things I could do with my time instead of driving all over Pinellas and Hillsborough counties for 2 hours. Then our awesome God laid something on my heart: go to Dunedin because there is someone I want you to talk to at the recycle place. So I did, not thinking that anything would really happen.

I got the truck packed up, tucked Ethan into his car seat, and headed to Goodwill and then on to Dunedin. It was cool to see the old hometown. We pulled into the dirt lot where the recycle bins were and started to put all the stuff into its respective bins. As I was putting some of the newspaper into the dumpster, I noticed an older gentlemen thumbing through the old papers looking for articles of interest. I had 2 office paper boxes full of old magazines so I proceeded to ask if he wanted to thumb through them and take what he wanted. He obliged and we walked over to the bed of my truck. He wasn't interested in most of them because of their aviation nature, but he took the TIME magazines. As I took the rest of them over the proper bin, the old man offered to help me with the boxes and we struck up a conversation. He told me how he was from upstate New York and about the old dairy farm that was turned into an airport near his childhood home. We exchanged pleasantries over jobs, and background, interests and family. I thanked the man for his help and went about my task fo buckling my hyperactive son back into his car seat.

Just when I finished this task, I told Ethan to hold on for a second. I had to go over and talk with the nice man for just one more second. God was still pushing. I wasn't done with Steve yet. I grabbed one of the invite cards to our church out of my wallet and walked over to the man again. I asked he had a church and he said he did not. I asked if he was married and he said that he was not. I told him about our church a little and that we would love to have him join us this weekend. He knew the area where it was and seemed to be pretty receptive to coming on over. What's more important, he seemed very happy to talk with someone. I felt content with myself: the operative word being MYSELF.

Then I started driving. About ten minutes down the road to see the grandparents, I realized something: God pushed me to do something earlier didn't he. Wait a minute, he laid it on my heart that someone was there to talk with me and I didn't even realize it was happening, I just followed as I was lead! Whoa. This doesn't happen to me. I "follow" God all the time and he doesn't necessarily listen. Or is it the fact that I am following my own inhibitions and God is waiting on me to do what he wants, not what I want?

What happened on Sunday shook me up and made me start REALLY "listening" for the Spirit. What about you?

Turning up my spiritual hearing aid,
Jesus Freak Out!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Earliest Known Ultrasound

I didn't really send out a message on Christmas day, and as usual in my life, I am a little slow to get things rolling. But I am working on that and it is also a post for another day. But yesterday, actually this morning, I started thinking about the day Jesus was born and the time leading up to that in Mary's and Joseph's lives.

It must have been hard, trying to keep the pregnancy quiet since conception happened outside of wedlock (bad juju, especially in those days when they would have most likely stoned her to death). But I realized something this morning, after contemplating the amazing things I was privileged to see with our technology today. I was able to see and know that my wife and I will be having another son. Mary was afforded the same privilege by God: she knew she was going to have a son and that he would be the greatest man to ever walk this earth. He would be the Son of God. Until modern technology, no family about to have a new child ever knew what sex the child would be before it was born, except Mary and Joseph. Isn't that awesome?

I wish I could have been living in the time of Mary and Joseph, to watch the birth of Jesus. But I ask myself sometimes, without the honor of knowing what the Bible says now, would I have believed that Jesus was the Messiah? Would I have become a follower of His teachings without seeing the miracles he performed? It's the same for our time, only we have the Truth in written form for us to look at, and yet it takes faith to believe what it says. Do we believe wholeheartedly or just the portions that fit our lifestyle and "beliefs"? Think about it. I have been.

Reforming my presuppositions,
Jesus Freak Out!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Guts to Do

Yesterday was a historic day for this country. The first African American president was sworn into the highest office of this country. But what's even more amazing is the publicity that Pastor Rick Warren's prayer received all because he invoked the name of Jesus at the end of his prayer and actually recited the prayer that Jesus Christ taught his disciples to pray. In the face of great political pressure, this man after God's heart followed Jesus' example over doing what was politically correct. Do we have that audacity for Christ?

So what was Rick Warren saying to all of us Christians when he stood up in front of the whole country and told them who the name of the one and only God was? It's right there for us in the book of Matthew: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven" (10:32). Rick Warren was not afraid to tell this nation that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Are we? It's that simple.

Shifting gears,
Jesus Freak Out!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'll Kill You, Daddy!

Tonight was an interesting night in our household for one reason or another. But something my little three year old son said to me really got my blood boiling and my heart breaking. Tonight I was on the receiving end of the words I just used in the title of this post from my own son.........and it scared me as a father. As well as a Christ follower. Now he had no idea what he was saying, he was just repeating what he heard at day care. But it still scared me and pierced straight to the core of my heart.

Sometimes we joke about these words with friends. Other times we may think about them momentarily in the deep dark recesses of our concious thoughts and then brush them away as easily as we do the dust from a shelf. Tonight, though, I think I caught a brief glimpse of what Christ experienced the night before and the day of his crucifixion. In no way am I implying that I could remotely feel what Christ went through becoming sin for us and dying on that hunk of wood. But for that brief second tonight, it gave me a teeny tiny glimpse of that feeling.

Think about this, though. When we take Christ out of all that we do, in essence we are saying to Him, "I'll kill you!" I'll kill you from my everyday life. I'll kill you from my family life. I'll kill you off from how I make my decisions. I'll kill you off from where I am going to take my life. I'll kill you off from every moment of my life except for my 1 hour on Sundays, and maybe 20 minutes a day during the week when I am asking for what I want and not what You want. I'll kill you again Jesus because of my own disobedience.

Will we keep on killing Jesus from every aspect of our lives and tell Him that He died in vain for us? We might as well go back 2000 years to the day of his crucifixion and just be one of the other Jews spitting and tormenting Him as he bears our sin and we yell, "I'll kill you!"

Jesus Freak Out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Bible Thumper

The other day at work I was talking with one of my managers and during our conversation, he called me a bible thumper. I hadn't even quoted a single Scripture to him yet. Let me tell you, I was a little less than happy because the first thing that comes to my mind is the folks I used to see on the campus concourse while I was at Auburn. We all know who they are, the ones at pro football games and other sports events who hold up the signs that say repent because the world is coming to and end and hurl insults at the people passing by. At Auburn, they were even worse. A fellow cadet from the ROTC detachment was walking by one of these "thumpers" in his uniform one day, when they looked right at him and called him a baby killer. When I heard that it, it about sent me through the roof. Now I wasn't a Christ follower then, although I liked to call myself one, but this was going too far and for a long time, I never wanted my name associated with Christ because of the negative connotation it brought along with it.

My story on following Christ has changed quite a bit from 10 years ago and so has my outlook on how we should share Him with others. In Luke chapter 10, Jesus sends the 72 disciples out across Israel to all the towns and villages. He gave them explicit instructions on how they were to conduct themselves and how they were to treat those they met. In verse 5, he gives straightforward answers on how we are to introduce the Truth to non-believers: "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.'" Peace is what God intends, and that is where we are to start.

Jesus was not just talking about the 72 disciples. He was referring to all of us who are commanded to go out and teach the Truth. When we walk up to someone, anyone, and start pointing the finger and rambling off bible verses as if we were Christ incarnate, we alienate, belittle, and put ourselves on a pedestal. We are no better than the person standing next to us. The only difference between us and them is that our eyes have been opened and our hearts have been captured by the amazing and powerful God of this universe. That's it. Plain and simple.

Peace to this heart is what we should be praying as we approach a soul who is in desperate need of the one who sent His Son to this earth to die for the sins of the world. What an honor to be working for such a great God. What an honor to be working for the one who gave me so much and expects so little in comparison to His gift. What an honor to take up my teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy little cross for Him daily, and follow His word and Spirit. It brings me to my knees, literally.

"Peace to [your] house,"
Jesus Freak Out!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A New Perspective

Monday I met with a friend of mine from church who is just about to finish up his degree at Trinity University. Well, through him, God has really rocked me to the core once again and showed me just how humble I need to be. That night, he showed me a new way to read the Bible that takes an intense look into the living Word of God. And I do mean LIVING!

I found meaning in verses I never thought was there. And when I read them again, I found new meaning that is totally different from the other night. You see, it changes. Not the context just the viewer. Every word of the Bible tells us something greater about our awesome and mighty God. It's not a book that sits on a shelf and we pick up every once in awhile when times are tough. It's not a book with some great stories about God's power and the history of the world. It's a book, inspired by the Holy Creator and written through the hands of men to show us the way to Him.

My friend David (what an awesome and strong name by the way) challenged me last night to read Luke 10:1-15 again like we had the other night. I barely got through v.7 before my head was spinning and God was gently saying, "See?" (Plus, my hand was wore out from writing down the thoughts on 3 AND A HALF PAGES!!!!) My perspective has changed and the Bible is no longer just the inspired Word of God. It is the divine, holy, insurmountable, awesome, profound, living and BREATHING Word of God. This book has life that I can only describe as powerful if we read past the words on the page and seek the meaning in our lives for what HE is saying.

Like a man waking up,
Jesus Freak Out!

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's an Earthquake

So, I have been working to find new direction with the Jesus Freak blog in order to grow all of us and take us to that next step in our journeys for Christ. It's time to get intimate, hard nosed and unadulterated. It's time for things to get a little uncomfortable. In the mortal words of the great Perry Noble, "God is in the process of rocking my world."

Since the new year has begun, some things have been happening to me that are shaking up my spiritual and family life more than anything else. I am finding and learning new ways to read the Bible and to finally "see" what God is pressing me to do.

It's rocking my world.

I'm starting to get uncomfortable, but I am also getting pumped and excited about taking the bull by the horns for Christ.

It's rocking my world.

I know that my purpose is now the "lamb among the wolves" (Luke 10:3).

HE'S rocking my world.

I am working to take my family to new heights of spiritual and relational excess. I'm not talking money, and stuff and activities. I'm talking investment in their future, their lives, their love, their relationship with Christ.

HE'S rocking my world.

I have been shaken to the core like no other time in my life. I have been at high points with Christ and I have been at low points with Christ. I have seen God do some amazing things in my life for me. Now He is showing me that it's time for me to do amazing things in my life for Him.

HE'S rocking my world.

I hope that you will stick with me as we dig way deeper than you have ever seen, and I pray that in some way, Christ will knock on that door to your heart, you will open it and you will say,"Yes Lord, I will follow."

Let God rock your world and you will see an abundance from God like at no other time in your life. And I'm not talking of this world. I'm talking through the abundance that is of Christ, for Christ, and with Christ.

Feeling like I'm in a paint shaker,
Jesus Freak Out!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Let's Get Physical

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (1Cor 6:19).

If anyone was around in the early Eighties, they will remember this song by Olivia Newton John (the post title, not the verse). I remember buying my mom this record (yes, I said record) for Mother's Day that year because I wanted it. I learned a lesson about giving then, but that's a post for another day. In this video, there were people working out and doing aerobics, and I'm sure that's not what the song was all about but there is a point here.

Every year, many Americans make the resolution to work out and become healthier. According to the IHSRA (haven't found what the means yet), the first three months of any new year is when the most memberships to a gym are bought, 12.4% in January, 9.5% in February, and 8.7% in March. What does this have to do with anything related to following Christ and bringing people into relationship with Him?

A whole bunch! Paul talks about treating our bodies as a temple to God, mainly from the context of sexual immorality in this chapter of 1 Corinthians. But, this applies in all sorts of ways. For me, it's gonna be a new year. But, I really hate the gym. I don't have fun at the gym because it's painful, there are no windows normally (except to the parking lot where my car calls me to go home), and there are too many mirrors showing me how pathetically scrawny I really am. There are many more ways to get healthy without having to go to the gym. So here are my milestones for the year:

1) I am getting back into running. I love running. I ran track and cross country in high school and ran all throughout college. When I started working, I stopped because I was tired and lazy. I am going to work to run for 90 minutes a week. For me that translates to about 10-15 miles a week. The goal is to be ready for a half marathon (that's 13.2 miles) by the end of year!

2) Eat healthier. I am cutting out as much junk as I can, and add in all those good tasting things like green leafy veggies and fruit. Now, since ice cream is one of the 4 basic food groups and provides a wonderful source of calcium, it will stay on a limited basis.

3) I am going to get a home workout from my friend Jamy that I will do at least 2-3 times a week. It will involve the basic calisthenic excercises like push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, and pull- ups to just get healthier. I am not going to be some massive strong dude like Hal Mayer or his son so that's another reason not to go to the gym. Did I mention I hate the gym?

4) Lastly, quit the habit that I have harbored for over 12 years and that I have held myself a slave to. NO it's not pornography, it's tobacco. I have fought this for a long time and kept it farely quiet because of shame. I only tell you so that you will help me and not judge me while I kick it square in the you know what. I have quit and started again numerous times. It's this year that it becomes permanent.

So here are my milestones for the year. What are yours?

Going ONJ on myself,
Jesus Freak Out!