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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Just a short post to remind you of the history of Thanksgiving day.

This day was first celebrated by pilgrims, Christian Puritans who came to the New World in search of religious freedom.  

Upon seeing the blessings of God in their life, they set aside a day to offer thanks to the one true God for his bountiful blessings.  The day wasn't to honor Allah, nor Buddha, nor any other false god, but Jehovah, the living God who gave his son on Calvary. 

Neither was it to honor Mother Earth, or the the sun, or good fortune.  Thanksgiving day was set aside to give thanks to God and his son Jesus Christ, for the abundance of grace and mercy bestowed upon them.

So, as you give thanks today, tomorrow, and every other day, be sure to give thanks to the right person.  The world may have changed.  We give God far less credit and far less thanks than he deserves today... But he hasn't changed he is still the provider of all good things!  

James 1:17 NIV - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

"Thank YOU Lord!"  -J

Monday, November 15, 2010

Biblical Priorities

As a pastor I am seemingly always trying to get more people involved in ministry. One of the common excuses is, "I just don't have the time to be that involved." It's true that one of the big issues in today's society is the lack of time, and I understand that, but it does take a toll on Christian Ministry.

Actually, we don't have any less time now than in the years past. Our days are just filled, to a far greater extent, with so many more activities. Most of us have dedicated our time to so many things that we hardly have time to give to anything else.

One of the songs we sing on Sunday morning says, “The time that I have left, is all I have of worth. I lay it at your feet Lord, it’s less than you deserve, and though I've little strength, and though my days are few, you gave your life for me So, I will live my life for you…”

As I consider how busy I am, I often feel nearly overwhelmed. I understand that you are stretched too. So what can we do to take away some of these stresses and give ourselves more time for the things of God? It’s not some deep secret. We just need to simplify, and some of us need to learn to say “no” to the seemingly endless invitations to activities. That can all be harder than it sounds though.

In order to simplify our lives we first have to prioritize. We have to figure out what things are most important and what things are least important. Let me help you with that. The most important things in life are our relationships. First should be my relationship with God. Second should be my relationship with my spouse. My relationship with my children should be next, and then relationships with others including our extended family, the family of God, and the world around us. Biblical priorities will go a long way toward correcting our ‘too busy’ schedules.

Then consider that you only have so many hours in a day. The truth is we all have twenty-four hours. None of us have more time in a day than anyone else but some use their time more wisely. To make the most of the time you have, it’s not a bad idea to budget your time. If you are too busy, look at what is important to you and drop a few activities that are toward the bottom of the “Important List.” Schedule nights off. Plan for time without responsibilities, this in itself will make life more enjoyable.

Also, think about the amount of overtime you put in at work. If you have to work overtime to make ends meet, then you need to restructure your finances. You should be able to put in a regular 40 hour work week and meet your responsibilities, especially with a two family income. If not, downsize because you are living above your means. It’s okay to work extra to get ahead, but if work or finances are our number one priority they have become far too important to us. If we are working so much that we cannot give any of our time to the Lord, then He may not be “Lord” at all.

Here’s something to consider. It is true, our kids need to be involved in extracurricular activities, but they do not need to be in every activity that school or sports has to offer. Whatever our example is, they will likely follow. Whatever we live; we teach. If you are working too much and staying too busy to give any time to the Lord or His kingdom, you can’t expect your children to live any differently. I believe that we should set the example of giving of ourselves to God, and then teach them to do the same. “Train up a child …”

There are some great things going on at ALT, and even greater things are ahead. I want all of us to be involved in them. If you are a part of the labor, you will also enjoy the harvest. If your priorities are out of line, I hope that you will take the opportunity to restructure.

What is important to you? Who are you living for anyway, you or Him?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Just preach!

In Matthew 15 Jesus does something that was very bold.  So bold in fact some might call it callused.   

Jesus is speaking… [Matt. 15:7-12 (NASB)7 "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FARAWAY FROM ME. 9 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' " 10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, "Hear and understand. 11 "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man." 12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?"   13 But He answered and said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 "Let them alonethey are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

Wow!  Jesus really let the Pharisees have it.  He calls them hypocrites.  He says that they honor God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him.  He says they worship in vain. 

I’ve noticed something interesting here.  He says all this, to their faces none the less, and then His disciples came to later Him and said, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?" 

The disciples were concerned that Jesus had offended the Pharisees, but Jesus wasn’t concerned in the least!  He knew they were offended, but he didn’t care! 

Now before you think I’m giving you the right to just go around offending people because Jesus did it, take a look at what He was doing here.  He was calling for truth and true righteousness.  He was condemning the sins of organized (false) religion.  The Pharisees were basing their relationship with God on their own merit, which is never good enough.  They were preaching their ideas rather that the truth of God.

Then Jesus goes even farther by saying, "Every plant which my heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.”  The Pharisees were a ‘plant’ that the Father had not planted, or in other words they were not a branch of Judaism that God ordained.  “They are blind leaders of the blind.” 

We live in a world full of false religion.  Multiple, so called, “Christian” denominations have chosen to condone what God has condemned. 

Now here’s my point.  We have to preach the truth, period.  If the truth of God offends someone, or some group, a denomination, or even a whole religion, it’s still the truth and we still have to preach it.  Jesus advice was, “leave them alone.”  Let them live in their deception if they choose to do so.  God will uproot the plants that He has not planted. 

There are others out there though that need to hear the message we preach.  They are looking to hear the truth and will listen to it and be saved, if we don’t allow the hypocrites to distort the truth of God’s word.

Preach the truth and let God worry about who will be 'uprooted'… Our intention is not to be offensive, but we cannot worry about the truth offending someone, and neither is it ours to worry about who will be judged by God for wrong doctrine.  Just preach!  Preach the truth.  That's what we are called to do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Eternal Value?

The New Living Translation says this in Mark 16:15, "And then he told them, Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere."  Jesus spoke these words to his disciples just before he ascended.  As some of His last words on earth, I'm sure He spoke what was of utmost importance.  He would not have wasted this time talking about things that weren't extremely important.

There were several things of great importance said then, but this statement, what we call "the Great Commission" is the driving force behind the mission of the church.  We must tell this good news to 'everyone everywhere.'  We are to make disciples of all nations.  This is our opportunity to truly make an eternal impact.

I have never been overseas.  Someday I hope to take a series of short term mission trips, but up to this point I have never had that opportunity.  The focal point of my calling is here, in America.  Your calling may be somewhere else, but together we must evangelize this world.  But even though my calling is here I desire the word of God to be preached everywhere, and to everyone.  I believe in missions, and though I can't go, someone is going.  And, those who are in those uttermost parts of the world need my support and my prayers.

I can't imagine how hard it must be in some parts of the world.  It is so hard here sometimes.  Often I feel alone, but I know Christ is with me.  Sometimes I feel betrayed, but so was Christ.  Occasionally it takes all that is in me, just to keep going but I keep going because I know God has called me.  The Word tells me I'll reap if I don't faint.  There are people though, who are serving as missionaries in distant lands who have very little support.  They really are alone, except for Christ. The suffer harsh persecution and betrayal daily.  Some of them keep going until they die on that mission field.

God is moving here in our country, and he's moving maybe to an even greater extent elsewhere.  But we need to get behind mission efforts wherever they might be going on.  If you can't support financially like you wish, please pray.  Prayer has no boundaries.  God in Heaven can hear my prayers here in Ohio, and strengthen my brothers in the farthest reaches of the planet.  We are one body.  We have one call.  We serve one savior.

One final note, I am so used to preaching here in America to people who have heard the Word of God over and over, that I was completely surprised recently by the hunger that people have for the gospel in other countries.  Our people here, have heard a million sermons.  Books are everywhere.  CD's, videos, podcasts and so on are plentiful, we have untold resources at our disposal to help us spread the good news, but it isn't that way in much of the world.

I recently was contacted by two different ministers from the Philippines.  They are about a day's journey from each other.  But both contacted me, just days apart.  They don't know each other, yet they both claim that they were led by the Spirit of the Lord to our website and more specifically to watch one message, "Bringing the Glory of God to My House."  What they have in common is that they are hungry.  Spiritually speaking they are starving.  They both have been searching for someone, anyone, who will share just bits and pieces of the truth of the word of God that will help them learn how to accomplish more in their service to the Lord and His Kingdom.  They are taking what they have received and are sharing it with other ministers who are also hungry, in hopes that the understanding they are gaining will allow them to accomplish the eternal goals of Christ.

I am honored to have played some small role in the building of the kingdom there, yet I am stricken with sadness that we here in America have so many resources available to us and rather than focus on the eternal things of the Kingdom of God we are distracted by small, temporary things.

Souls are dying, children are hungry, Christians in various places need support and prayers to accomplish more.  Let's each ask ourselves, "What am I doing today that has eternal value?"  Does our answer look anything like Mark 16:15?