Sunday, May 27, 2012

Holy Ground

God told Joshua to take off his shoes bcause he was standing on holy ground. Which to my mind brings two questions: 1) Why take off shoes and 2) What makes it holy ground? The answers are related. God was there and what God touches is holy. Reverence is due to God when He is there.

The ground was holy before the shoes came off or the command to do so was given. Taking off the shoes didn't make it holy but reverence for what is holy is commanded. Where am I going with this? God is calling us into His presence and we need to respond to His invitation. God is ALREADY there and we need to acknowledge that fact with our actions.
Our action do not usher us into God's presence but God presence is there and we need to respond. Sometimes it takes a while for us to realize it. S Some times we mistake our actions as inviting God's presence into our mists when in fact God's presence is there waiting for us to appropriately respond.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hate the sin not the sinner?

Have you heard "hate sin not the sinner"? How does one do that? People have wrestled with this concept since the awareness of sin. I feel that too many see this as a paradox or worse a cop out to persecute a particular group of "sinners". I am going to propose 3 scriptural ways to work out this sticky concept.

Luke 6:27–28 But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Real simple to break down. Love those who don't love you by doing good to them. Pray for those who are actively maligning you. Simple to breakdown hard to do.

Forgive those who are sinning against you. Jesus said "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Stephen said "Lay not this sin to their charge." If you forgive the sin you can minister to the "sinner". Don't hold a grudge, it makes makes it hard to serve them.

Jude 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

If you continue in love of the Lord and all men, you will be able then to separate the man form the sin. Mercy on them with fear of the Lord for the judgement to come. Know that without Jesus the sinner will stand before the White throne on which whom He who which earth and sky flee from in the day of His judgement. 

Our goal should be that we demonstrate love to the sinner with the purpose of "snatching them out of the fire". We don't cosign their junk or excuse their sin. Our goal is not to convict them of sin, that is the Holy Spirit's job. If we keep the goal in mind separating sin and sinner should be much easier. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

If you don't systematically study the Bible you develop a patchwork of belief

Not much on titles, just ask my congregation! Our country is in a catastrophic moral and religious crisis. It stems from basic ignorance of God's word. And unfortunately the consequences are progressive.

Isaiah 5:13a (NASB95)
Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge...

First we are exiled or castaway in a sea of moral relativism. No absolute truth makes for a stormy existence. The Bible is supposed to be our moral compass and our guide for everyday life. But if truth is viewed as subjective then what is there to guide our life? Only one-third (34%) of Americans believe in absolute moral truth. The writer of Judges gives this chilling and familiar statement, "and each man did what was right in his own eyes." 

What is the cure?  Systematic study and application of the Bible. I applaud Bible reading and scripture memorization but it needs to be purposeful. Too many of us stick to the stuff we like. It's time to strike out into the unfamiliar. We are to take the WHOLE counsel of God's word, not just the scripture out of context that makes us feel good or justifies what we think is right.

Here is a guide for study:
1.  What does this passage teach me about man?
2.  What does this teach me about God?
3.  What do I like about this?
4.  What do I dislike or find confusing?
5.  What changes or applications do I need to make to my life in view of this passage?
6.  Who can I tell?

Go through the Bible a book at a time, analyzing it a paragraph at a time with these 6 simple questions. Here are two resources to help:
biblegateway. Gives reminders along with a reading plan.
biblestudytools lets you personalize your reading plan.
Or choose a simple a book at a time. Now quit wasting your time and go read.    

Monday, May 14, 2012

Discipleship Challenge

How do I begin to study the Bible? Do I need a workbook or study guide? How about a Bible study from one of those well known Bible teachers or preachers? Many people are overwhelmed when they think about Bible study and quite often we pastors can tend to complicate matters with Greek and Hebrew, word pictures and all sorts of extra stuff.

Here is the key to effective Bible study that has been hidden in plain sight for 2,000 years. 
Romans 10:17 (NASB95)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Here's the challenge: For 30 days listen to the word of Christ every time you have an opportunity. This means that you will put away Christian music and Christian radio (teaching, preaching and praise & worship music) for one month and listen to the New Testament only. Listen while you shower and getting dressed in the mornings. Listen while you drive to and from work. Listen in place of devotions and other Bible readings. Look for any down time that you can plug in to the word of Christ. See if you notice any changes.

You can purchase the New Testament on CD at any Christian book store for under $20. Web sites that have free Bible downloads are  and . For the Iphone there is and Spoken Word Audio Bible, both are free. For those who need visual cues try the Gospel of John, the Gospel of Matthew and Visual Bible all available at .God bless you as you study His word.