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Archive for June, 2006

Fallen Comrades

I’m starting to rethink the idea of a “Christian College Experience”. Don’t get me wrong, I have appreciated getting my formal training at a Christian institution. But mine came at a higher price. Unlike those who joined me in crossing the stage to accept their diplomas, I really had to work at achieving my degree; literally. I held a full time job during my sophomore year as well as a part time job. The during my junior and senior years, I held at least two part time jobs while finishing my degree. Add to that the responsibility of being a husband and a first time father while raising my GPA above 3.0 and you can see why I have lost my short term memory. I literally lost my mind as I finished my degree.

Now I’m not bashing my fellow alumni. I am in no way saying that I am better than them because of the situation surrounding my drive to graduate. They worked hard to accomplish their degrees and I give them credit for accomplishing the task in four years. College was not made for everyone.

Then what is my point? Simply that I had an advantage over my fellow alumni. I was almost 25 years old when I re-entered college at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I had been married for almost four years at that time. And I had experienced “real” life and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had called me into full time ministry as a Pastor. I knew what I wanted and was driven to accomplish it; an education founded on the moral truths found in the bible and God.

What brings this thought to mind? The other day I was talking to a fellow OWU grad and he was telling me that a mutual friend had contacted him through “Myspace.com”. He gave me the address and I started my search, locating friends whom I hadn’t spoken to in over a year. What I found startled me. These young adults who were attending or graduated from a “Christian College Experience” seemed no different from other people I had meet in the secular world. I was dumbfounded and even a little ashamed that people who confessed to be “born again” Christians were so easily swayed by the winds of the world. People who praised God with complete surrender in the bubble we called OWU, now curse the name of God. To an outsider, one would wonder if God had actually had an impact on the heart of these individuals.

So what happened to cause such rebellion? Why would people see the truth, celebrate in it, and then return to the darkness? My only thought has to do with the idea that they were not mature. They were willing to accept the grace and love of God but not willing to give complete surrender. They wanted forgiveness but desired to be the “master of their domain”.

God has called each human on earth from Adam to the next child born to be “Holy as He is Holy, Perfect as He is Perfect”. The road to perfection starts with accepting what God’s love accomplished; the brutal death of his only son Jesus, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the eternal life Jesus brings for each of us through forgiveness of our sins. But the road doesn’t end with acceptance. It needs to become part of us, constantly changing us to be the people God had intended at creation. In the Holiness movement we call that “Sanctification”. I go a step farther and call it “Complete Surrender”. It is only when we admit that God is in full control of our lives, that everything we do is to bring glory and honor to him that we can truly begin to live in freedom. We allow God to be GOD. “We are nothing without Him” becomes more than lip service; it becomes an attitude and behavior we grasp daily, minute by minute. My prayer is that someday my fellow fallen alumni come to the same realization I have and “Completely Surrender“.

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My Dad, My Hero

Luke 15:11-32

Have you been to Wal-Mart lately? I have to admit, it is one of my favorite places to go for sermon ideas. Anyways, if you pay any attention to the subtle advertisements plastered around the store I am sure you have seen the following sign. It’s blue with a Superman logo in the center and it reads, “My Dad, My Hero”.

As I began to prepare for this weeks sermon on Super Heroes, I saw the sign and was infected with a crazy idea. I found a department head and begged for one of her signs. I then went to craft section and got some satin fabric and headed home.

MaryEllen has known me for over a decade, so very few ideas that come out of my mind surprise her. So when I asked her to make me a Superman Cape, she shrugged her shoulders and with a smile on her face, she measured the fabric. Within ten minutes, I had a fabulous cape for my Sunday morning sermon.

The surprise of my congregation is another story. I had the sound tech play the Superman Theme as I flaunted my Superman Cape. As the music played, I flew around the sanctuary (well as much as a 300lbs man can fly). I could here the gasps of concern, the chuckle of disbelief coming from my flock. I, though a bit self conscious, was enjoying myself.

Why would I enable myself to become humiliated like I did? Because I had to make a point. Dad’s are worth making fools of ourselves for. I mean what father hasn’t wished their child would look at his with as much awe as Superman or some other Super Hero? Being a father, I know the best feeling in the world is when I’m interacting with another child and mine all of a sudden gets jealous because someone else has his father’s attention. I know it sounds wrong but it’s the truth.

As I prepared for Sunday’s sermon, I wondered if my father had the same feelings I do as he was raising me. The fact that there were ties when I pushed him away for the attention of my mother. The fact that I was a “know-it-all” child. I mean my father wasn’t perfect. But I can honestly say he was my hero. I may not have always looked to him but I always looked up to him. And now as a Father myself, I realize that I will make mistakes because I’m not perfect. But I also realize that my main responsibility as a father is to reflect my heavenly father. If I am doing that correctly, then I have a good chance of being a Super Hero in my own children’s eyes.

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Harvest Time

Matthew 9:37-38
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Yesterday I spend a large majority of the day in a place I never thought I would find myself; in a Combine. Now if you are like me you understand very little about farming and farm machinery. I try to understand but more times than not my ignorance finds a way of coming out. Yesterday was no exception.

Mind you I have been in a Combine before; well once before and it was only for about fifteen minutes. I never imagined sitting in one for the better part of a day. What can I say, it was an experience I will not soon forget.

Now for those of you who are still wondering what I’m talking about, let me define the type of equipment I was in. It is officially called a Combine Harvester. This is a large farm machine that is used in harvesting crops like Milo or Wheat. Actually it’s quite an interesting machine. It moves over the field with a 35 foot header attached to it’s front. The front blade rotates pulling the crop into the machine as another tubular devise called an auger spins counter separating the heads of grain from the stalk. Then the heads are carried into the Combine and separated, grain from shaft. All this happens in seconds. For someone raised around city life, this was truly amazing.

As I sat in the cab admiring this marvel of farm machinery, my mind began to race. I began to think about a number that was brought to my mind a few months ago; 50. Fifty percent of Ottawa County, the county in which I reside here in Kansas, does not attend a local church. This is a sad number to think about considering there are over twenty churches in our county. I started to then think about the words of Jesus, “The harvest is Plenty but the workers are few.” With over twenty churches, why do fifty percent not attend church.

The time has come for revival. Revival is the renewal of interests. We need to renew our interests in the souls of men. We need to be more concerned that there are people walking among us that will one day look into the face of God and be turned away for eternity. And we, the church, are going to be held responsible because we allowed them to slip through. I don’t know about you but I want God to look at me and say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

It’s harvest time. Get in the Combine and start your engine.

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Powering Up!

Acts 1:8
“But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.”

Last week I preached the first of four lessons on “How to be a Super Hero”. Lesson One, “Becoming a Super Hero” dealt with the idea that we have an unique opportunity to reach out to those around us and invest in people’s lives.

This week’s message “Powering Up!” dealt with tapping into the Holy Spirit as our power source. I started by asking the question, “What do Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, and Bruce Banner have in common?” If you are even a little fan of comic books you might recognize each of these names as the alter egos of three big name heroes; Batman, Spiderman, and the Hulk. But more than that they have something else in common. Each of these characters were not born with their power. It was through a traumatic event that each of these characters underwent their hero transformation. Batman, at age eight, witnesses the brutal death of his parents. Spiderman was bitten by a “radio active” spider. And the Hulk was created when gamma radiation bombarded Dr. Bruce Banner’s body altering his genetic structure.

Like each of these characters, we are not initially born with the Power to be the witnesses Jesus told us to be according to Acts 1:8. It is only through the Holy Spirit and our spiritual transformation that we have the power to understand our Purpose for Existence; the ability to access our Oneness with God; the Wisdom to handle tough situations; the Energy to endure; and the Refining towards righteousness. Five elements defining the POWER we find only from the Holy Spirit.

As Macho Man Randy Savage used to say, “Snap into a Slim Jim” I give a similar challenge: “Tap into the Holy Spirit!” Once you do, evil doers BEWARE!

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Acts 8:26-38

Investment: a contribution of something such as time, energy, or effort to an activity, project, or undertaking, in the expectation of a benefit

When you hear the word Investment, what image comes to mind? Money? Don’t feel bad. Most people have the same image pop into their minds. But the truth is money is but a small part of investing.

When we invest, we are literally give of our person, possessions or even our time for the benefit of someone else. This past Sunday I started a series on becoming a Super Hero. Part of learning to be a Super Hero lies in the desire to invest in someone or something other than yourself.

If you look at any of the comic book heroes or real life heroes (like fire fighters or police officers) what makes them all special is the fact that they spend themselves for the cause for another person. Superman stops the meteorite from falling, Batman saves Gotham time and time again, Even Spiderman acts selflessly to save the beauty in distress.

But the fact remains that we each desire someone to invest in us. Someone to reach out in our times of trouble. Someone to lean on when we think we can’t make it. Someone who will be there for us through the thick and thin. We all desire a Super Hero to come rescue us, to invest in us, to be selfless towards us. No child has ever said, “I wish mom (or dad) spent less time with me.” In fact it is the exact opposite. They desire more investment from their parents. Imagine where you would be if no one ever invested in you.

We are called to be Super Heroes. And it starts with investing in someone or something other than yourself. The question is: Are you ready to become a Super Hero to someone?

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Technology Bites…Hard!

I love technology. Every aspect of it I enjoy. When I hear about a device that will enhance my life, through speed or more power, I must have it. Luckily, I’ve learned a valuable lesson from my parents: Just because I want it doesn’t mean I need it. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Anyways, since I started writing in this blog I have tried to take it very seriously. I have sought time where I could freely type out thoughts roaming around in my head. And apparently the idea of journaling and blogging has become addictive in my family. My beautiful wife, MaryEllen, has also been bitten by the blogging bug (check hers out sometime).

But in taking Blogging serious, I have to also take the method in which blogging happens seriously; Technology. Twice last week I tried to blog, and twice I fail to have my thoughts published. I spent hours trying to get the right words and phrases together to express myself clearly. Then when it came time to publish, the title was the only thing from my hard work which remained. I became so frustrated that I Almost vowed to give up blogging all together. But after a long, good weekend, I’m back. This time ready to work with technology rather than against it and realize that sometimes God Doesn’t always want us to Release everything that is on our minds to the general public.

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