Category Archives: Christ

Dealing with Angry People

Orphans in Your Heart
     I have a friend on fire for adopting orphans. He once shared his frustration about many orphan relief efforts like building orphanages, wells, and feeding orphans. “Give the kid a place to live and you’ve still got an orphan.” You’ve met a felt need for the child, but haven’t gone to the root issue. 

     Knowing I’m not in any position to adopt (in this current season) makes my heart immediately bleed for the organization that is building the orphanages, digging the wells, or feeding the children. But, deep down, I know I’ve merely given them a fish, instead of planting them lakeside with a fishing pole and proper instruction.

“A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
    rescue them, and you will have to do it again. (Prov. 19:19)”


     Some people are just bound to be angry all the time. Don’t hate them. Anger itself is not a sin, it’s what we do with it that gets us into cahoots with God. We’ve all been discipled by our family of origin what “appropriate” expressions of anger are. Some internalize, others explode, still others manipulate, calculate, or plot revenge. Many fail to learn how to “dump” their anger – they hang onto it like an orphan without an adoption plan. We live in a culture that disciples us deeply in personal revenge rather than trusting in God’s vengeance. Just go watch an action movie.

Know Thy Enemy
     Anger is a debt-debtor relationship that happens when someone or something fails to meet our expectations. It says “you owe me”. Holding onto a ledger full of debt is a toxic condition that turns Prov 19:19 into a prophecy. An outburst of anger is biologically accompanied by the release of the hormone cortisol. God designed our bodies to handle cortisol in short bursts, to protect us in fight or flight situations. Long term, it’s toxic. It’s terrible for their health: “fretting” or holding on to “you owe me”s can keep cortisol levels high leading to stroke, heart attack, low bone density… overall, bad stuff. No wonder God tells us not to fret.
 
     If you have their permission (“can I help you solve this problem?”), you may be able to offer them some help. This can’t be removing the problem or solving it for them – you’ve merely built an orphanage, not answered their deeper need. It must be in helping them understand the debt at the bottom of their heart.  “What does <person/circumstance> owe you?” Understanding that we don’t war against flesh and blood is vital to clearing the emotional confusion surrounding an outburst (or inburst) of anger.

    The deepest need of the person struggling with anger is Christ at the center of their life. A proper understanding of the sovereignty of God equips them with a new Father who is never surprised by their “igniting circumstance”. They need to repeatedly answer through fervent, desperate prayer during many lucid moments: “How does God use affliction to transform us (Psalm 119:75)?” 

     Practical surrender to a sovereign God includes acknowledging He is in the good and the bad, trials are necessary (James 1:3), and it is okay to be angry, but not to sin against others or God.

Power of Prayer?

     Prayer is crucial. While the temple in Israel was rife with the stench of death as thousands of animals were sacrificed daily, the priests would go out with censers filled with incense (representing prayer) that brought a sweet smelling aroma into the outer courts. So, what? Prayer may not change their circumstances, but it brings a sweetness amidst the carnage of unmet expectations. If you can teach them to pray with that understanding, you’re leading them to the answering of their deepest needs.

     The gospel isn’t about “try harder” and “do more” it’s about the impossibility of pleasing God with our own efforts and His unfailing love despite that fact. It’s about what He’s already done. As today’s verse explains, behavior modification doesn’t fix the angry person. Get them out of a bind and they’ll just be angry again about the next thing that goes wrong. Only a new heart can do that.

     Sometimes, a discipleship relationship with another godly man or woman is the critical link needed to help them sort through things on a regular basis. We meet with men, women, and couples often to provide an outside eye and biblical perspective on living the gospel and handling these kinds of issues. Maybe, they just need to grab coffee with a guy like me who’s battled anger frequently, lost often, but found lasting victory in Christ. Give them my card or connect us via a three way email. Aarron at Seasons of Life Ministries dot org.


Pray hard and without ceasing. Love deeply. Forgive thoroughly and often.

Much agape,

AP

Why Me? The Most Important Question…

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:15)”

     I’ve often wondered as I’ve read the Gospel accounts of Jesus why He would do a miracle and then tell someone not to make a big deal of it. I mean, he heals a guy of leprosy and tells him – “Just show the priests and offer sacrifices and keep the rest on the down-low. (Matt 8:8, Mark 1:44, Luke 5:14)” What’s with that?

Okay, so Jesus had a reason. I get it.

Why Are You Here, Lord?
     But, he does this awesome, public miracle where he feeds over 5,000 people and comes up with leftovers and then “withdraws” to a mountain. We all know that Christ’s miracles were never done for the sake of spectacle, rather to authenticate the power of God in Christ and for His glory. So, in front of a crowd of thousands – AUTHENTICATED! Your Kingdom come, we’re with you, Lord – now BE OUR KING!

     So, why doesn’t Christ just come out and say it? “I’m the Christ! Repent and come to God!” Instead: Withdrew again to a mountain? Come on!!!

The Core Issue
    The trouble in this scenario is identical to 1 Samuel 8. It is the familiar cry of the depraved soul that says “I want to be like everyone else!” Or, in Israel’s case – “Give us a KING!” The Lord’s reply is similar to the prophet Samuel’s. God told Samuel that the nation hadn’t rejected Samuel, rather God himself. And, so in tragic irony, despite the fact that they wanted to make Christ their king, the people were still rejecting God as their king.

Huh? 
     Though they were asking God in a body to be their king, they didn’t really want to make God their king. In classic Jesus form, Christ knew the motives of their hearts: it wasn’t God they wanted. It was freedom from oppression. But, not as Christ would have it. They wanted freedom from the oppression of man, not the freedom from the oppression of sin, self, and spiritual depravity. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, not like the kingdoms of men…

So, Lemme Askya:
     Lemme ask you this day: do you want Christ, right now, or do you want merely His blessings? Paul Washer once said even the devil himself would like to be back in heaven as long as God wasn’t there and he didn’t have to bow his knee to Christ. So, what do you want? An earthly king to provide for you and go out and fight your wars like the rest of the nations, or do you want a Holy, sovereign, and worthy King that you can worship and serve for eternity? Do you want Christ because you don’t want hell or because you want Christ?

     The Bible asks the same question over and over from Genesis to Revelation: “will you trust Me?” So asks the Lord of you right now: “Why Me? Do you want Me for Me or for my blessings?” Let us resolve to answer that question daily.

Jesus is usually sought after for something else, not for his own sake. – Augustine


in it with you,

AP

Voices of Christmas Passed…

Even An Atheist Can Articulate the Gospel
     The mid 1800s were approaching and a church organ in the south of France had recently been restored. The parish priest asked a friend to compose a poem to celebrate the event. That friend was a professed atheist named Placidde Cappeau. His poem was entitled “Midnight, Christians”. It was soon set to music by Adolphe Adam and would later be translated into what we now know as “O Holy Night”.

     It’s been my number one favorite for many years now, although recent arrangements of “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Go, Tell It On The Mountain” by the acapella group Pentatonix now threaten its reign. Cappeau’s original text clearly marks Christmas as a celebration that God sent Christ to the world to eradicate the stain of sin. Wiki it and you may be astounded that an atheist could comprehend the facts of the gospel. Or, you may just be saddened that he, like many, would understand the facts, yet not respond as even he commands his listener:

“Fall on your knees,
O hear the angel voices.”


How Will You Surrender?
     One day, we will all see the Christ, the risen Lord and returning King. The Bible teaches us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. It doesn’t say “every believer will bow”. It says “every knee”. In other words: whether we hear the gospel message and believe on it unto salvation or reject it as Cappeau did, we will acknowledge Christ as king.

     From that point, we will either know Him as Savior King or Supreme Judge. The question is, will you surrender to the truth of the former while there is still time or surrender to the latter after time runs out?

     As we approach the “New Year”, I want to encourage us all to remember – Christ is returning. Some say as early as this week. Others say years or generations off. Regardless, the gospel call is this: fall on your knees in surrender to the Lord as redeemer, savior, brother-slave, and coming King today. Celebrate His incarnation, life, death, and resurrection not only at midnight on a day that’s not even His real birthday, but everyday. 

What Is Surrender?
     I’ve long believed the Bible to be a collection of inspired and inerrant (in their original manuscripts) books that all ask the same question from the perspective of God: “Will you trust me?” That’s what this kind of surrender is all about: full time dependence on and trust in Christ. Not just uttering niceties one day or a few weeks out of the year…  

     We all have a tendency to be event oriented rather than process oriented. Salvation is both an event and a process – depending on how you understand “sanctification”. We err when we spend so disproportionately our money, time, and effort on one event when the eternal Lord is Lord of our process. Christmas shouldn’t be relegated to just one day or even a season – ransom from sin and death should be an everyday joy. I pray that now that “Christmas” is past (or approaching in another couple of months, depending on what sources you believe) that we (myself included) may begin to celebrate our Savior more fully regardless of the day of year. 

Merry Christmas today, tomorrow, and everyday.

On our knees before the Savior,

AP

My bad – here’s my favorite arrangement. North Point Community Church’s ten year old recording has held my #1 spot for a decade now. Thanks, to everyone who made it possible and Jeff Scott for the “money note” at the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC4lOHFCnq8

Best Christmas Songs, Ever?

My “Final Four” – #4 The Little Drummer Boy
Trivia Fun
     Nothing you can’t find in a quick Wikipedia search, but noteworthy enough for holiday chit-chat around the egg nog bowl. Written in 1941, first recorded in 1955 by who? The Trapp Family Singers. Yep, that quaint little family who brought you “Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer”, made Julie Andrews a household name, and currently has Carrie Underwood looking… out of place. Based on a Czech tune and originally published as “Carol of the Drum”.

Theological Significance:
     Though Jesus isn’t the main character, I’m still okay with playing and singing it because Christmas is the season when Holy God became incarnate: the earthly merger of the magnificent with the mundane. The story juxtaposes wise men from far off with the Wisest of all, who would now come nearer than any earthly man would have ever known. Great men, great gifts, cow dung, and a precious and Holy King in an animal’s feed trough – magnificent, meet mundane. Perfect, meet profane. Yet, God ordained it all.


Enter, Scandalous Child
     The religious people of Jesus’ time had become so emphatic about the law, they were drifting from true relationship with the Law Giver. They’d begun to call worthless many of the things that God truly valued. Women and children in this time were “to be seen and not heard”.

     Yet, the scandalous Christ would later scold (in three different gospel accounts… OUCH!) His own disciples:  “Let the little children come to me!” Mt. 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16 So, what an insulting scandal that a little boy, bearing no tangible gift would be given audience with the King of Kings? Isn’t it already scandal enough that His birth to a virgin mother was proclaimed first to lowly shepherds (not exactly the top of the socio-economic ladder of the day) and his birthplace a barn?

     Hallelujah, yes! Bring on the scandal.


     And, so the scandal of the gospel is proclaimed in this song – that a little child, in the face of the wise who offered great, majestic gifts, would bring but a humble song, yet would garner the smile (favor) of the child born to live, suffer insult, and die to erase the scandalous sin of the rich, the poor, the wise, the foolish and all in between! Wow. Majesty amidst the mundane.

Scripture Snack:

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Cor. 1:20-21)

Here’s My Favorite Version – What’s Yours?

     I’ve been through a few favorites on this song – first time I heard Candi Shelton (then, Candi Pearson, on North Point Community Church’s first Christmas CD) do her acoustic version, my jaw dropped. “Who does that to that song?!” If you look around the iTunes store, Grooveshark, or even Pandora, you might get yourself a listen

     When I heard these next two versions, I thought the exact same thing. “Who’d have thunk THAT?!” The following videos are my #2 and #1 favorite versions of this song for obvious reasons. Alicia Keys at Rockafeller Center in ’09 and my new favorite – Pentatonix.


     Drop us a comment below with your favorite version, will ya? Merry Christmas, and may Christ be at the center for you this season and all year long.

Follow Up on "Seeker Friendly" post

     Yesterday, we started off the week with a look at the error we often make in preaching, proclaiming, sharing the gospel: reliance on personal skill and/or clever methodology. Today, I imagine it’s no coincidence that my inbox would contain this post from Oswald Chambers:
(direct link: http://utmost.org/classic/the-concentration-of-spiritual-energy-classic/)
But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:14)”
     If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God. Instantly the power of God will be in you. “Look to Me. . .” (Isaiah 45:22). Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there. We lose power because we don’t focus on the right thing. The effect of the Cross is salvation, sanctification, healing, etc., but we are not to preach any of these. We are to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The proclaiming of Jesus will do its own work. Concentrate on God’s focal point in your preaching, and even if your listeners seem to pay it no attention, they will never be the same again. If I share my own words, they are of no more importance than your words are to me. But if we share the truth of God with one another, we will encounter it again and again. We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power— the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives. In holiness movements and spiritual experience meetings, the focus tends to be put not on the Cross of Christ but on the effects of the Cross.
     The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption.

Apology and Special Update

My Mea Culpa
     This year, I’ve had great opportunity to talk with men, reason through the scriptures, and pray about the difference between fault and responsibility. In hindsight, I’ve failed to communicate in many areas the great things happening at Seasons of Life. Please forgive me. It’s both my fault and my responsibility.

The Tension
     When you talk to people regularly about personal issues, sensitive matters, and their walk with Christ, you experience a tension between sharing what God is up to with the ministry (BIG NEWS! I can’t tell you about it, though…) and maintaining full confidentiality, therefore cultivating trust. Many of the men I’m locking arms with this season are experiencing breakthroughs in their faith, marriages, and careers. But, I must respect their privacy as I report from the field.

Maintaining Confidentiality

    Some are experiencing new seasons – a season away from their children because of divorce, a season of their children being away from them while at school, a season of focus on a marriage after taking it for granted, reconciliation and rebuilding of trust after a fight, a loss, a betrayal, overcoming an addiction… etc. Today, I even got to have a great conversation with a guy about walking with God through the challenges of toxic relationships, maintaining godly standards, and boundaries in the home. God was honored and we both walked away sharper!

     These are the vagueries that are “okay” to share publicly because they don’t break confidentiality. But, I want you to know – I get to hear some raw stuff from time to time…  And, by God’s grace, I get to point these men back to scripture and watch them recalibrate when they see where they were out of alignment. Other times, it’s just about the basic blocking and tackling of the Christian life. Falling deeper in love with the Word of God and knowing more intimately the God of the Word. Life transformation is happening.

    I also get to share some raw stuff about my own failures from time to time… And, I get to cheer them on when God brings a job their way after 18 months of unemployment… a godly relationship after years of “sorting through counterfeits”… Six weeks of deep and devoted regular quiet time… And, through it all, we’ve been able to trace God’s Providential hand at the helm and His grace sustaining it all.

The Way Forward
     As Cristine and I step into our 7th year of public ministry, we’re seeing her schedule pick up again, potential dates for “That Day” performances on the horizon, and the continued vision of men, women, couples, and families abiding in Christ, surrendered to their Savior, and serving His kingdom daily. We continue to thank God for the work, the people He entrusts to our care, and the calling He’s placed on our lives. One thing is for sure: no matter what the years ahead have in store, He will continue to test our trust in Him just as much (or more) than those we urge to do the same.

     For those of you who are praying for us and those who support this ministry financially, we want to thank you for all you do for the community you serve: the body of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Your prayers matter. You resources make it a reality.

For You:

     We encourage you to engage with God’s work through us via our Facebook page, Twitter, and weekly on our blog. It is my prayer that after a year “deep in the trenches” with a select few, I am able to devote more time in 2014 to reconnecting with many of you I haven’t been able to make such time for. 

     If you find yourself in the “it’s been too long” category, email, text, or private message me… Or, go really old school and pick up the phone. I’ll do my best to have my 2014 calendar ready!

in Christ,

Aarron Pina
Executive Director, Seasons of Life Ministries, That Day, Speak Life, The Uprising

Pray for the Cheerleader and Fisherman

…”Put out into deep water, 
and let down the nets for a catch.” (Luke 5.4b)


Sportman vs. Professional
     If you fish for sport, you know your gear, the boat, the weather, and how to find the good spots and how to find a good spot when all the good spots are taken. If you fish for a living, you not only know where the good spots are, you also get there before anyone else does – it’s your livelihood, isn’t it?

Sound Advice:
     What Jesus told Peter to do made no sense. It sounded “foolish”. A carpenter turned rabbi telling a fisherman what to do? Are you kidding? If anyone else had commanded him to do it, Peter would have rebuked them on four logical, well reasoned grounds. After all, he’s a trained professional.

  1. Availability: We’re not going to catch anything, because we’ve been out all night and have already caught nothing (which Peter reminds Jesus, anyway).
  2. Exhaustion: We’re not going to catch any fish because we’re exhausted – these aren’t butterfly nets we’re cleaning. They’re made from strong, heavy rope, made heavier by the weight of the water within them, and we’ve already labored all night to place them, pull them in, and clean them.
  3. Timing: We’re not going to catch anything when the daytime sun is high because the fish are all hiding in darker places.
  4. Location: We’re not going to catch anything in the deep waters because fish are caught where the water is just deep enough and not too deep.


     Any logical, wise person would hear the counsel of this seasoned professional and intelligently decide not to ask him something so foolish. Yet, the Lord asks Peter to do something utterly counter-intuitive. Scarcity of fish, exhaustion, wrong timing, bad location.

     Have you ever sensed the voice of God calling you to the wrong place, at the wrong time, when you’re discouraged and spent, and there’s no logical hope for accomplishing what He’s asking you to do?

Who am I?
     I’m adventurous, with a moderate to high tolerance for risk. Right? I’m strong in my faith – after all, I’ve been called to “full time vocational ministry” for the past 6 years, right? I mean, I’m a trained professional, right?! I cheer on fisherman for a living! Uh, oh… You can see where we’re headed here, can’t you?

     Yet, over the past month, I’ve heard God call me to cast my nets into the deep. When I look at my assets: high risk tolerance and previously held beliefs about the strength and depth of my faith, I’d normally say “sure, Lord. You say so, I’m in.” If it were someone else asking me what to do, I’d pull out my pom-poms and cheer them across the finish line: “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!!! Go, team, go!!!” But, this is different.


So, What’s the Problem?

     But, this time… This time, I’ve heard God calling me to do something, trust Him with something so big, so dangerous, so counter-intuitive, that if He doesn’t swoop in with a miracle, dozens of people are going to be impacted negatively, including my family. This is deep water – not someone else’s life, calling, boat, or nets… Not only does my boat look too small, but my pom-poms feel like they’re 100 lbs a piece. When I realized the fisherman I’m to cheer on is me, God exposed the shallowness of my own faith when I, a mere man, began to weep and tell the sovereign of the universe: “I’m going to trust you in this, but you’d better come through!” Can you imagine such arrogance?

     Yet, Peter wrestled with the soundness and depth of his own faith so much that when the Lord did what Peter expected could only fail, he was brought to his knees by his own lack of faith. “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man! (Luke 5:8)”

Prayer:
     So, today, I ask your prayers – that I will trust God in the area He’s asking me to. That I will not rely on my own senses, wisdom, will, or nets, but on Him who calls me to the deep. That I will not be overwhelmed by the fear of men who would later say “why would you have done something so… foolish?” Today, I encourage you as always by allowing God’s faithfulness in my past afflictions and faults to overflow to you as a testament to what He might do in your current circumstance. But, this time, I’m doing it before the fact… With sweaty palms on heavy pom-poms.

Be encouraged: fisherman’s boat nearly sank with the catch… And, he later walked on water.

in Christ,

AP

The Difference Between You and Satan

     Ninety percent of the problems we have are the result of a lie we’ve believed – about God, ourselves, others, etc. Problems can’t be properly solved outside of God’s order. He is a god of order. When we violate His order or refuse to walk in His structures and statutes, things get… more complicated… 

that relationship you can’t seem to break free from… 
that deal you just closed, but weren’t completely honest about… 
that interest only loan you signed before the market tanked…


    As a result, many of us walk around unnecessarily feeling a bit empty, unfulfilled, bored, or even bitter. The reason behind these ridiculous and annoying feelings is one word:

distraction.

What You and Satan Have in Common
    God has called every one of us to a purpose so high that if we understood the enormity of it, we might shrink back in terror. We might also scoff at it as “too simple”. But, if we look at the history of the Great War going on around us through proper perspective, we might instead be inspired, refocused, realigned with our proper place on the battlefield. The short version of it is this: you were designed to do what Satan failed to do.

A Look at the Battle
     Ron Dunn was kind enough to share with me his summary of God’s great moves and Satan’s weak, sleazy counter moves for some clearer perspective on the story already in progress (it’s a long list, but don’t be intimidated – crank up the theme to “Rocky” and read it out loud if it won’t get you kicked out of your office):

  • God created angels to bring Him glory
  • Lucifer reacted in rebellion, jealousy, pride and selfishness and took 1/3 with him. 
  •  God countered his rebellion by creating man a little lower than the angels to show what great things can happen when His creation serves Him.
  • Satan countered that move with 6 great lies and tempted Adam and Eve to disobey
  • God countered that move by providing redemption and a way that man could restore relationship with God
  • Satan countered that move by enticing Cain to kill Abel and cut off the Godly line
  • God countered that move with the birth of Seth and man once again called in the name of the Lord
  • Satan countered that move be enticing Nimrod who founded the Babylonians and Assyrians and built the tower of Babel establishing religion that replaces the worship of God.
  • God countered that move by going to an heir of the Chaldeans and a man named Abraham who he called out to establish a nation that would worship the one true God.
  • Satan countered that move by trapping them under slavery in Egypt.
  • God countered that move by rising up Moses with a message from I AM to Pharaoh to “let My people go” and the entire world acknowledged the God of Israel as the true God.
  • Entire OT is move counter move…sometimes not clear who is winning
  • 400 years of silence between OT and NT then Matthew 1…the lineage is reviewed and Jesus is born to save His people from their sins.
  • Satan counters by tempting
  • Jesus counters with God’s Word
  • Satan countered that with a crush move by enticing the local powers to crucify Him
  • God countered that with the Big Move… the Resurrection.  Life conquered death for us and the victory parade took place.
  • That is our deciding move! No matter what is happening we must line up with and tie into that move.
  • Satan is a defeated foe…but isn’t giving up.
  • Until Christ returns He is active with schemes of deception
  • God counters that by providing a Helper and Armor

Back to You and Satan
     So, God created the angels to bring Him glory and Satan (Lucifer) as the Son of the Morning Star, to lead the angels in the greatest purpose: to worship God. How could there be any higher calling? In heaven right now around the throne are three angelic beasts swirling around the throne crying “Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord”. Again, could there be ANY higher calling? Yet, when Satan was cast out of heaven, God’s counter move was to reach down into the dirt, blow air into the dust of the earth, and create a replacement worship leader out of mud. Do you get it? That’s you and me… We’re God’s “in your face” reply to Satan’s rebellion!

Five Take Aways
     Satan – the original, fallen Rockstar – designed and commissioned to lead the angels in worship. You and I – the replacement worship leaders: the mud people brought to life by the breath of God and redeemed from sin by His own blood. If you were Satan and you heard the replacement band rehearsing next door for the ultimate worship party, wouldn’t you do all in your power to distract them? Cut their power off? Play louder to get them off tempo?
 

     If you were that band and you knew that God did nothing to redeem Satan, but gave everything to redeem you as his replacement – would you sit idly by and allow Satan to distract you from your true calling?

     Stay on track: Jesus warns that the “worries, riches and pleasures of life” are the very things that keep us from growing in maturity and fulfilling our purpose. 

     Fight the good fight: worship despite the distractions. You and I, especially here in contemporary American Christianity are being actively sold a bill of goods that allows us to believe it’s okay to be self absorbed with our own wounds, problems, offenses, that we miss the Big Purpose. Worship. 

     Be alert, be on your guard: There are many false prophets preaching in large pulpits to global audiences – that are selling Christianity as the answer to your problems, the deliverance from addictions, the “Best Life Now”, when all of such false gospels deliver far… too… little.


     Remember the bigger picture: Our problem is bigger than addiction, discomfort, unemployment, the Falcons losing – it’s sin. Our position is worship. Our enemy is bitter and bent on distraction – to steal, kill, and destroy. What do you expect from a rejected mega-star?

     Worship better than a rock star: We’re here to outworship Satan. Satan refused to worship God. Often, we worship smaller gods – football, career, status, personal disappointments, bitterness, etc. If we’re coming unglued about a football game and barely lifting our voice in church, we’re horribly distracted from our purpose. So, yes, musical worship is important. But, pride was the chief sin of Satan – being self absorbed in any way is a distraction. If we are to “do everything as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23) then everything becomes worship. Work is worship, raising kids, caring for the sick, sharing the gospel, suffering persecution, standing in line for hours without being bitter… You and I are here to take the place of the one who failed to do his job – let’s be the best replacements ever.

in Christ,

AP

NEED TO KNOW: ONE TH1NG will resume this Friday, Sept. 13th with a new series on Biblical Manhood “Broken Arrow”, led by Ron Dunn, from 7AM to 7:55 at The Cabernet on Windward Parkway and 400.
 

The Magic Question That Saved My Life

“Carry each others’ burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ…  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:2, 9-10)”

The Mile Long To-Do List:
     Two weeks ago, I had an insurmountable task list in front of me. Major headings included: “Move your entire family of 6 and their belongings from Gainesville house to new rental in Cumming”, “Finish basement in Cumming house”, “work”, and “be husband and father”.

     I neglected to keep “sleep” on the list and allowed my quiet time to run shallow. On top of that, I had one friend I had factored in as a vital helper to make it all come together that suddenly found himself covered up in new leads, quotes, and more work than he’d had in two quarters this year. Opening up drywall at the new basement exposed far more severe water damage than I’d first imagined and added at least two more solid days to my already endless list of things to do before we could really make the “move”.

HALT?
    Remember Charles Stanley’s acronym “HALT – never get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired”? Last weekend I’d already put in 60 hours toward the move/remodel and was hungry, angry, lonely, tired, and still had a page and a half of “incompletes”. But, Sunday, we packed all the toddlers in the Man-van and headed off to church anyway.

The Magic Question or “I Said What?
     We ran into a new couple friend of ours on the way back to the van after service. His wife asked mine how we were doing. Cristine replied “great, Godwilling, if we can get through with this move.” She looked at us and said “Can we be of any help?”

     In reality it was only a 2 second pause. But, in my mind, it seemed like all of the boxes and furniture and childrens’ toys and papers and office equipment were swirling around us in a slow-motion whirlwind as I prepared a humble “No, thank you, though.”

     I spoke.

     I pushed those carefully prepared words out of my mouth with what little energy I had left. But, something odd happened. I heard a voice, identical to my own, blurt out a desperate “YES!!!” Where did my “No, thank you” go?! Did I just say “yes”?!

The Result

Before – concrete floor littered with water-
warped wood paneling. New insulation being added.

     God, who is much smarter than me, had cut me off at the pass. Before I really understood the one word answer that had mysteriously jail-broken from my mouth, her husband was hopping out of their Suburban, (which was loaded with over half a dozen kids), and walking back to our van to help us with the move.

     This morning, because of his help and the unexpected help of two others along the week, I am writing this post from the new Seasons of Life Ministries Worldwide Headquarters, a room in a previously water damaged basement which now has been scrubbed for mold, re-insulated, drywalled, and has brand new carpet in it.

After: Drywall, electrical cut-in, with pad and carpet laid.

     Despite my own pride, the question God keeps asking me to preach to others in discipleship made a near miracle happen in our own home: “How can I help?” The Ryan family had that question heavy on their hearts. Shouldn’t we all? In light of what Christ has done for us – saving us from the law of sin and death, freeing us from slavery to those things we do that always bring us regret, forgiving us every time we call on His name – shouldn’t we all just “carry each others’ burdens”? Shouldn’t we all be on the lookout for burden-carrying opportunities?

Benediction
     May you and I, as disciples of Christ, follow the Master’s lead as He nudges the “magic question” out of our lips. May the Lord give us eyes to see and ears to hear those who are heavily laden with burdens and the opportunities where we can help. May we, in this practice, fulfill the law of Christ.

in Christ,

AP

Image of Christ Appears! (Video link included)

Playing “Where’s Waldo” with Jesus…
     But, first, a little teaser… No, this isn’t about a picture of Jesus appearing on a wall in South America or in someone’s latte. Just trust me on this for a moment and read on.

     “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:6-7, NIV

     Some people get really geeked out on the Old Testament prophecies that foretold the coming of the Messiah. Even more get wide-eyed about the prophetic scriptures that foretell the Apocalypse. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of prophecy – one that will encourage you today, where you are, in which Jesus “appears” in the Old Testament. Understanding this old story gives us an encouraging picture of our current standing “in Christ”.

     Saul, chosen by God as first king over Israel, rebelled against God in disobedience and God rejected him as king. God then chose David (outside Saul’s family) to succeed him. Saul’s son, Jonathan became great friends with David and entered into covenant with him. Then, when Saul and Jonathan died in battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, the nurse who cared for Jonathan’s infant son, Mephibosheth, dropped the infant as she fled for her life, crippling the child. Years later, when David became king:

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?'” (2 Samuel 9:1)


     Subsequent to that request, Mephibosheth, crippled since infancy, had all his grandfather’s lands restored to him and ate at the King’s table daily.

     Whoopee, right?

     Wrong.

     This is one of the coolest images of Christ in the entire Old Testament!!!

Here, in history, we have a picture (or, “type”) of Saul, depicting Satan:

  1. Chosen by God to lead (worship in Satan’s case, Israel in Saul’s)
  2. Rebelling against the Creator
  3. Rejected by the Creator
  4. Replaced by another (David)
  5. His position and possessions passed on to another (Mephibosheth)


Additionally, we have a picture of man in Mephibosheth:

  1. Broken and literally “fallen”
  2. He did nothing to receive the “curse” of being crippled, practically “born that way”.
  3. Unable to “walk with God”, both literally and figuratively, without the help of another.
  4. Descended from the rebel whose fall brought about his own. 
  5. “Raised up and seated with the King…”


We also have a picture of Christ in David (from whose line the Messiah must come):

  1. King and agent of God
  2. Cutting a covenant (by blood) with the son of disobedience.
  3. Powerful enough to track down the descendents of the deposed/defeated king and kill them, yet showing restraint in not doing so.
  4. Showing mercy and kindness where he could have shown judgment
  5. Essentially “adopting” the broken and crippled (sitting at one’s table regularly was a big deal in that time and culture, even more so when it is the table of the king)
  6. Giving man regular and free access to the King.


Find Jesus, Find Grace
     If you’re reading this and you get chills – you understand grace. If you get really geeked out by Ephesians 2:6-7, you understand grace. If you suddenly begin practicing how to say “Mephibosheth” so you can thank God for this story, you understand grace. 

     May you understand what you’ve lost through the fall. May you understand who God is despite the fall. May you grasp the truth about grace: regardless of how you were born and in spite of who you’ve descended from, Christ came to give grace to you. May you eat at the King’s table daily and know you are restored by the King to the place Satan was initially appointed: to lead worship of God forever!

in Christ,

AP