Monday, October 28, 2013

Why I Like R2D2.

I posted this pic today on Facebook...
Some of my friends who are not "into" things like Star Wars, wondered what that thing was in the middle of the pic. Many of my friends, however, did recognize R2D2, one of four characters in all six Star Wars films. For anyone not familiar with R2D2 (R2 for short), here is a better idea of what he's like:

Wait! Wait! That doesn't give a clear picture of R2D2's character which is why I like him. In short, he is probably THE unsung hero in the Star Wars universe. In each of the six films he saves the good guys at least once.
  • He's saved his friends from being crushed in a trash compacter.
  • He delivers the plans to the Death Star to the rebels so they can destroy it.
  • He introduces Luke to his mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi.
  • He saves the queen of Naboo by fixing her ship while she's under attack.
  • He even puts his best friend C3PO back together a couple of times.
That's his mission, to be the ultimate servant, never, ever wanting something for himself.and there are many more such examples.So I admire this character because of his completely lack of selfishness, and his complete devotion to good. We could learn a lot from R2.

If you really want to know about R2 check here:

And, yes, he does remind me of a Bible verse: "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." Galatians 6:9,10

For those of you wondering what R2's been up to since Star Wars, well....he's done some advertising work:

And a couple of PSA's like these:

And this one...

What a great little guy!

Keep That Fervor! Keep on Plowing Through those Obstacles!

I saw this clip on Youtube on a Monday morning, and thought about how some people don't look forward to Mondays. As I watched it, I thought of this passage: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:10-12 So keep on "plowing" through whatever obstacles are in your path! Keep your spiritual fervor! Remember you have power beyond what you can muster on your own! The journey is worth the work!

Friday, October 04, 2013

During Dark Times It's Important to SHINE!!

One of my secrets of taking pics is having my camera with me. I caught this yesterday in Orangeburg. I don't think he was vandalizing the Bi-Lo sign....just changing light bulbs. This reminded me of Matthew 5: 14-16: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." 

So make sure your light is shining today! May our lives be beacons pointing others to the greatness of our Savior. This will NOT happen if you hide your light under a bowl of being petty, selfish, impatient, mean, rude, mean, hyper-critical, unnecessarily negative, ungrateful, ... well, you get the idea! Shine people, shine! You get to decide today whether or not it will be a good day. No, I don't know what circumstance you'll experience today, but I do know as far as Christ followers go, we are supposed to count on our Father's Spirit to make 1 Thess. 5:15-18 a possibility (and an imperative at that) every day: "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 

I just want us all to have the best day we can since so much sorry stuff is going on around us. The people you meet today need for you to live out Matthew 5:14-16 and 1 Thess.'ll be better off, too!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Adolescent Christianity? You decide!

I found this video thought-provoking. He makes some very valid points about what makes for a maturing faith vs. an "adolescent" one.

 So, what kind of faith do you have? An "adolescent" faith that focuses mainly on how you "feel" about God, yourself, and what's happening, or a maturing faith that goes far beyond what you feel. Paul writing to the church plagued with divisions caused by people's preferences (over different church leaders)states: "Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3) 

So how are you doing? Some questions might help you decide....
  • At the end of the day, how much of your behavior, thoughts, words, and interactions with others would you consider merely human? 
  • How much would be reflective of your faith in Christ.
  • Is your life characterized by a faith for "all" circumstances, even the mundane? 
  • Do you have to experience an emotional "high" to call an experience "worshipful?" 
  • Do you think and/or speak negatively of others who differ in their preferences for corporate worship styles? 
  • Are you focused on maturing in your faith, becoming more and more like Christ in His character with a desire to treat others as He did? How much do you talk about Him with others?
  • Do you love Christ's church as imperfect as it is, with a desire to contribute to its health, vs. merely criticizing it for its problems? 
  • Are you connected to a church family beyond merely attending services? 
  • Are you willing to follow Christ where He leads, even if the route He takes isn't as pleasant and appealing as you'd like?

Just some things to think about...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let's Glorify God by Being Good, Not By Being Mean!

Yes, I really, really enjoy people surprising people with their talent on national competitions. Some of the most moving moments I've seen have been on Britain's Got Talent (remember Susan Boyle?). Here is such a moment when a special "choir" shocks ever cynical Simon Cowell and the other judges. This "pastor" pulls a fast one, and the crowd loves it.

Did you hear judge David Williams' comment:"It made me want to go to church." This reminded me that we are called to glorify God through our people a reason to investigate the goodness and greatness and, yes, GLORY of God. Glorifying God basically means to live in such a way that it gives others a reason to praise and honor Him. One of the earliest Hebrew words used in the Old Testament to denote "glory" was kabod, originally means "weight" or "heaviness." So one way to think of glorifying God is to live in such a way that others realize He is the One Who "carries the most weight" in your life; i.e. is THE ultimate, and MOST important influence in your life. 

Getting mad because someone doesn't agree with you is not glorifying to God. How many churches have been divided because someone (or group) becomes mean-spirited about some non-essential issue. One of my favorites (sadly) was the story I heard once of a church splitting over the color of new street lights in their parking vs. amber.

How important is it that we are focused and intentional about glorifying God through love and good works? Well, the Bible is pretty clear about this:

  • Love is not easily angered. (1 Cor. 13:5) 
  • Love is THE most important thing a person can do. (Matt. 22:34-40) 
  • Love is the central virtue of the Christian life. (Col. 3:12-14)
  • Love is the best sign to others that you belong to Christ. (John 13:35) 
  • Love: no matter what you possess, or how many great things you do, without it you have nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1-3) 

 Sounds important to me! Sounds pretty "weighty" to me. Sounds like a great way to sing with all your might! Sounds like a great way to glorify God in all that you do or say!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You Are What You Eat! Avoiding Over-Processed Christianity!

Hey, would you like to see something that looks great, but is a bit creepy. It just came out today. It's an animation video that Chipotle's has released that takes on the "Big Food" industry. The thing that is grabbing people's attention is how Chipotle's is going "low-key" on inserting its name in the video. It's releasing an app at the same time, aimed on getting consumers to think more about the foods we eat. Click the video:

On the spiritual level, it reminded me of how close we modern Christians might come, sometimes, to consuming a "human-processed" Christianity that could provide a dangerous substitute for the real thing is people aren't careful. Before anyone jumps on me for favoring one style over another, I can see how either a contemporary or tradition form of worship on Sundays can become "over processed" to the point that we reduce true worship (living a life that values Christ and His truth ultimately to the point that we are becoming more joyfully obedient every day) to attending services, and listening to sermons/music that make us feel a certain way. If someone who calls himself/herself a Christian yet can justify being mean to a brother or sister in Christ (either younger or older) simply because he or she differs in personal preferences for church service "styles," something is wrong.

Worship is ascribing/recognizing the ultimate worth of God through Christ. True worship occurs in an person's life through the work of the "organic" (vs. programmed) Holy Spirit, Who uses the truth of His word and the encouragement of the church to transform a person's mind (i.e. Romans 12:1,2) into a mind that thinks, decides, and ultimate acts more and more like Jesus and less and less like the  world.  If you want to know what "fresh, real" Christianity looks like, 1 Cor. 13 (what love looks like), and Galatians 5:22,23 (fruit of the Spirit) would be great places to start.

How big a deal is this? Christ said loving God and loving others were THE most important commands of all, and that ALL the law and the prophets revolved around them. (Matt. 22:34-40) Paul says that if we can fathom all mysteries and  all knowledge but  have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2). Sounds important to me!

Of course the Spirit can use church services (regardless of music style) to draw people closer to Him and to renew a person's commitment to follow Christ. However, if a person's commitment to Christ is a silent, invisible thing throughout the week (or worse, if he/she is an active, destructive, mean-spirited hypocrite), then it might be time for that person to consider his/her spiritual diet.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lexus Reveals My Hypocrisy!

When I first saw this commercial, I was amazed at how quickly I judged Lexus as a company that was promoting casual sex. That got your attention didn't it? Watch the video...if you haven't seen it before, pause it at 24 seconds then read the rest of the post then play the rest of it.

The first time I saw it I thought, "Great, another company pushing how great it is to have casual sex after a date." After all, the first scene looks like the guy is just meeting the woman. Then the couple seems to get to know each other in various locations around the city, only to return to (what I assumed) her house where she "invites him up." That thought lasted a second or two in that the last 5 seconds revealed my error in "processing the available data" WITHOUT knowing ALL of the available data! How often do we do that in life?? Have you ever heard of jumping to conclusions? You can play the rest of the video if you went for the "full effect" of this post and paused it!

Those last few seconds cast the story in a totally different light.  Now it seems this is a happily married couple who is enjoying an evening out. I had been had! In an instant I moved from being a self-righteous judge to a humbled hypocrite! 

In addition to my "humbling," I was able to see an even better message inherent in the commercial. To me, the family "angle" changed the message of the commercial from being an endorsement of sex without commitment, to a reminder that married couples should, like Lexus, engage in the "pursuit of perfection." The voice-over even says, "Here's to a life less routine." Sure, the commercial's "main" point is to buy a Lexus, but I know couples who don't seem to pursue anything to enhance their relationship as the years pass. This commercial reminded me of two important life lessons:

Lesson One: Take Matthew 7:1-5 seriously. Our Savior said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." 

Lesson Two: We should seek to have our love for each other (including our spouses) increase as we mature in Christ. We are not to settle for a love that is merely "routine." Paul reminds us of this in 1 Thessalonians 3:12: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you." So don't judge a commercial by its first 25 seconds, and don't go looking for specks in other people's eyes until you make sure your eye is "board free!"

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Tonight I'm joining my Methodists brothers and sisters down the street for a prayer service for our country. I've been asked to pray about the church in America. I plan to read Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in Eph. 3:14-21. Here it is: "14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

I pray that God will answer this prayer for my church and for your church....that's what America needs...more healthy churches, and less "ME churches" like the one advertised in this video:

Instead may we who call ourselves, "Christ-followers," pray for our churches to be more like this...

It's the National Day of Prayer - Pray to be More Loving!!!

It's the National Day of Prayer! Exercise your freedom to pray! Exercise your freedom to obey 1 Timothy 2:1-8: 1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the manChrist Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

Ouch....I guess I could have left out verse 8, but I didn't because God wants us all to be aware about how much anger and disputing can cripple a person's relationships with Him and with others. It can even cripple a nation's ability to move forward. Make sure you're being the best American you can be by being serious about your walk with Christ. Don't use your precious freedom as an American and as a Christ-follower to just sit there griping and being mad. Do the most important things today (as Christ told us in Matt. 22:34-40):love God and love others, especially those who might not be so easy to love!

Check out this video to remind you as you pray to be thankful for the freedom you have!!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Seeing the Poison of Stagnation

I read this quote today:

Expect poison from the standing water.
   -- William Blake
I sent it to a friend today who is grieving the loss of his wife with the following thought to encourage him, for though he is in great pain, he is also trusting Father to sustain him...and Father is doing that, and more...He is growing him. I wrote:

Though your pain is great, there are many around you who are experiencing the unknown (to themselves) pain of stagnation...some even putting effort into maintaining their stagnation, never seemingly aware that there is much more before them if they would only open their eyes.

Revelation 3:15-18:I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Open your eyes; see what Father is showing you; and grow!