Are You Leaving?

I must pray to God to help me with my negativity. I am realizing after more than 30 years that so much of what I have thought is fundamentally wrong. That’s not to say that I have completely misunderstood everything. But for too long I’ve had a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Scriptures are, and just as importantly, what they are not. In many ways this has left me frustrated and disappointed. I feel like I am just now at a point in my spiritual development that I should have reached years ago. I also find myself frustrated at people who have the same ugly and divisive attitude that I used to have. Here’s some irony for you—some of those attitudes are being directed at me now.

I see many others who are in a similar position to me. They are hurt, upset and frustrated. Unfortunately, many have decided to give up on our heritage and leave the Churches of Christ. It’s not that I necessarily blame them. There’s nothing that is more holy about the Church of Christ. But, as I work through my own frustration, I am beginning to realize that leaving isn’t the answer. In fact, giving up and leaving is rarely the right answer. Love is the answer. Patience is the answer. Mercy is the answer. Grace is the answer. Leading is the answer. Aren’t these some of the things that you think are missing in your Church community; and that have upset you to the point that you’re considering leaving? Before you leave, just think about whether or not you’re ready to withhold from others the very thing you wish they would have more of.

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Christians and the VMA’s

It’s been years (and five kids) since I was hip. And even then . . . probably not so much. That the VMA’s came around without me knowing isn’t that big of a deal. But I digress.

Let me just ask, should Jesus’ followers really be watching that stuff? I mean, what does that do for your witness when you’re participating in the discussion (at work or school the next day) about what Miley Cyrus was wearing (or not wearing); or what Kanye West did or said to get more attention? Isn’t there greater integrity in being able to say, “nah, I didn’t see it. Not my thing.”

Brothers and sisters, at some point we really do need to put our foot in the sand when it comes to upholding the standards of living that brings the most positive attention to Jesus. I mean, that’s really what this is about. Will watching that, doing this, saying that or going there make Jesus look good when people find out that I am one of His? I’ve got to be able to answer that question honestly.

That’s a really good reason to hold yourself to a higher standard. But that’s not the only reason. So let’s say that you watched the VMA’s and whatever crazy outfit Miley Cyrus had on; are you more transformed into the image of Christ because of that? Or was that you conforming yourself to the behaviors and customs of the world?

I’ll leave you to wrestle with Paul. Soak in what he’s saying and maybe even spend a few minutes praying over the scripture. See if the Holy Spirit doesn’t have a word for you.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

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The Reality of God’s Ultimate Authority

John’s account of Jesus’ death is so profound, meaningful and convicting. And each time I read it I seem to learn something new.

This morning I shared this passage with the folks at Sycamore Healthcare center.

1Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:1-11

Many of the folks at Sycamore struggle with extremely difficult physical and/or mental circumstances. This morning I tried to encourage with the idea that through it all, God has the ultimate authority over their lives and they should try to rest in the peace of that reality.

Sometimes preachers can be pretty dense. I have been ignoring that reality when it comes to one specific part of my life. And because I have been avoiding accepting God’s total authority as reality, I have been robbing myself of peace.

Here’s what I am talking about. Ever since my last ministry, I have had a deep burden in my heart to unite and mend where we have separated and broken. I have tried to do that my changing peoples’ attitudes. Not their opinions or minds, just their attitudes.

Recently I have been getting so frustrated and discouraged by the way people attitudes have led them to act. In other words, I was starting to feel like I have not made a difference and the past three years have been a waste. Because of that, I have questioned God’s plan and why He has traveled us on our road. Sharing that passage today with my friends at Sycamore reminded me of my place and how significant I could be if I would only embrace how insignificant I actually was. Jesus understood and accepted the reality that all authority originates and resides with God. That’s why He was able to maintain such peace – even in the face of a terrible death.

God reminded me of this reality today. I will keep plugging away at changing people’s attitudes. But I have been reminded that God alone holds the key to every lock – particularly the ones that people use to guard their hearts. Is there a place in your life where you need to more firmly embrace the reality of God’s ultimate authority?

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