July 29, 2010

The Paragraph...

I once heard a preacher say, "you need a song, a scripture, and a paragraph from a book to sustain your ministry." I thought about this for a while, because the conservative theologian in me said, "what could possible sustain a ministry besides scripture?" But the more I considered this statement, and the true-disciple style of living of the one who made it, I think he could be right. All of these things can shape our God-view, reveal a little about ourselves, and provide some sort of basis for our philosophies of ministry.

So I thought I would share my Song, scripture, and paragraph. Today, the paragraph...

Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the God of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.

Jesus asked for everything, but we try to give Him less.

As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are "lukewarm" are not Christians. The thought of a person calling himself a Christian without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.

For years I gave God leftovers and felt no shame. I simply took my eyes off Scripture and instead compared myself to others. The bones I threw at God had more meat on them then the bones others threw, so I figured I was doing fine.

Hosea 13:6 "When I fed them they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me."

Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God's point of view (and lest we forget, His is the only one who matters) they're evil. Lets stop calling it a "busy schedule" or "bills" or "forgetfulness". Its called evil.

I'd rather you not say anything than compliments me out of obligation or guilt. Why would we think god is any different? He is saying that no worship is better than apathetic worship. I wonder how many church doors God wants to shut today?

Tim Kizziar said, "Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be failure but if succeeding at things in life that don't really matter"

From Crazy Love by Francis Chan


Okay, so its more than a paragraph. It is an excerpt. But I am challenged by its content. I enjoy Chan's writing and speaking because he is honest and gutsy. Very much like Jeremiah, he is unashamed of his deep devotion to God, and his true concern for God's people.

For me, it all goes back to how God views my commitment, relationship with Him, and my purpose for ministry. If I fail in any of those areas, I fail in all.

Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned. James 5:12
- JD

July 28, 2010

The Calling of Joshua

As the book of Joshua begins, God passes the leadership baton from Moses to Joshua. Then He charges him with words that are both powerful and clear. They are a still a clarion call to all who would lead God's people:

"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:6-9

God still calls people to positions of leadership...yet we seem to want to measure leadership by what has worked in business or politics to gain power and influence.

May God's leaders return to this passage and seek the leadership style of Joshua. The timing is just as critical and true biblical leadership is becoming extinct. -JD

July 27, 2010

If I were only Cool...

The problem with being an Average Joe is that your are just that...Average. When I dwell on it, I hate being average. Who in their right mind would choose "Average Joe" over being "Joe Cool!"

I wish I could invent the camera that takes a shot of me and it comes out looking like Keanu Reeves. Or better yet, I actually looked like Keanu Reeves. I wish my clothes fit like they do on the mannequin, but there are no paunchy mannequins at J.C. Penney's, so that's out. I wish my intellect rivaled that of some of the great thinkers and/or theologians in our world, but that's really not me either.

I often catch myself seeing people on TV or the movies who speak well and are good looking and think, "if I were only more like them, I could really do great things." Maybe if I used the latest technology, used younger terminology, or spoke in a more professional tone, I would be cool or at least not so average.

But, for me, here is the real rub. Sometimes I let my "averageness" get in the way of God's calling for me. I'm like the little boy with a speech impediment who eventually thinks that because he has trouble being understood, he has nothing to say. You see, God uses average people as his tools more often than not. Look at the apostles...I'm not even average enough to fit in with them; and they changed the world.

Maybe being an Average Joe isn't so bad. I work hard every day, go home to my family when the day is done. I have kids who are pretty good kids considering, and I am married to a woman who is not only a good wife and good mother, but is genuinely a good person. I love God, even if I do screw up my relationship with him from time to time and I feel I understand his calling for me.

I was recently asked, "if you could go back in time and become anything in the world you want to be, what would you become?" My answer? "Me. But I'd become me alot faster!" I love what I do, I love where I do it, I love who I do it for and I love who I do it with. So if that's not cool, I think I can live with it.

Most folks would say, "if that's the definition of Average, sign me up!"

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6 -JD

July 26, 2010

Average Joe Has a Bad Day

When my children were very young, my wife and I would always make a point to read to them at bedtime. There were several books that we loved to read, and after a few years of listening to bedtime stories, my children could quote the books by heart. For me, there were four books that I loved most. I really like Max Lucado's Just in Case You Ever Wonder...Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree...and Robert Munsch's Love You Forever.

But lately a little boy named Alexander keeps coming to mind. Judith Viorst wrote a book entitled, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Its a story of a little boy who encounters circumstances that are clearly worse than most children would ever encounter. Just when one happening is dealt with, another problem occurs. I enjoyed reading the book because it taught my children that no matter how bad things might get, somebody probably has it worse than you...namely Alexander.

Recently, I've felt Alexander's pain. Just when one problem seems solved, another bigger one appears out of thin air. When you deal with people who you actually love and care for as family (and who are messy to begin with) this becomes an even more tricky proposition. You wonder why people are the way they are, and act the way they act.

Today I thought of Alexander and the lesson he taught me and my children. It can always be worse. Better than that, my Lord has taught me that no matter how difficult the road may be, no matter the trials, no matter the temptations; I still have someone on my side who "gets it." With Jesus a good day is a great day, and a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Really Bad Day is still a great day because He'll endure it with me.

And today...right now...for me...that's enough!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 - JD

July 23, 2010

Gray Christians

I was getting dressed last Sunday morning and was attempting to find a pair of pants that matched the shirt I wanted to wear. I’m not sure why I choose a shirt color first, but I always do...and then try to find pants to match. I looked through my closet, and decided that the only thing I had that would match were gray pants. You know, universal gray, battleship gray, colorless gray, personality-voiding gray.

As you probably know by now, I’m not a fan of gray. Probably because, in my mind, its not really a color. It is just a dull mixture of black and white, light and the absence thereof. (By the way, black and white aren’t even colors) Gray is attention deflecting and non-descript. Gray universally matches nearly everything and nothing simultaneously. Worst of all, its universally accepted.

I’ve never hated gray more than I did a couple of weeks ago. I had a sermon prepared with a video and slides called “The Red Balloon.” When I arrived early Sunday morning, we tested the slides and video as we always do. But on this day, due to some technological mumbo jumbo, my red balloons were a really dark gray on the big screens. Fortunately, the A/V team figured out the problem by doing some of their A/V hocus pocus (which, by the way, always cancels out mumbo jumbo) and the balloons were red again.

Just as gray is non-descript, red is vivid. It is truly indescribable, beautiful and certainly is attention grabbing. When I think of Christianity, I think of these attributes...vivid, beautiful and attention-grabbing. Why else would Jesus say if we lift Him up all men would be drawn to him?

Satan tries to get us to see ourselves and our Lord as gray. You know, colorless, dull, absent of light, non-descript, and worst of all, universally accepted. He distracts our focus from the One who truly makes life vivid and beautiful by painting our heart with the “gray goop of nothingness.”

God has called us to live in the world, but not be of the world (John 17). We are challenged to be a peculiar people (Titus 2). We are told not to love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2). Being intentional about these callings from God are what paints our lives a vivid red. It makes us stand out enough ito attract attention to something bigger than us. Matthew 5:16 screams... In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Do you want to change the world? Stop being like it. You want to attract attention? Be different when it matters. You want to make a difference? Only love what can love you back. Live a life that is vivid, beautiful, attention grabbing and glorifying to God!

(If you’re wearing gray, sorry. I’ll bet it looks good on you.)

- JD

Just Getting Started

What has passed for Christianity in the eyes of church goers, will never pass for discipleship in the eyes of our Creator. We only have a few years on this spinning ball of dirt...let's make them count by reaching the world for the One who made this ball from nothing. And maybe we will change our own hearts and attitudes in the process. You just never know.

So let's get started...
- JD