Wednesday, April 27, 2011
"It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity, (but if a man does not know how to handle his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. "
I Timothy 3:1-7
Now this is a real man.
A man who is kind and generous, yet sober and responsible, engaged with his family, has a good reputation inside and outside of the church, is a teacher at heart and has the maturity to lead - God's requirements for an elder.
Almost seems as unattainable as the ten commandments at times, but these are the men you want leading your church. These men take the oversight of the body, and they do it willingly and voluntarily. They do it out of love and concern. They feed the flock, speak the Word of God and labor over doctrine. They admonish the people and give account for them.
And they protect against false teachers.
That's why I've got my elder up there dressed as a warrior. The elder is a protector and in order for a false teacher to get to me, he has to go through my elders first.
This is a awesome responsibility and a great comfort as a part of the flock. And it is not a laughing matter and it is not a popularity contest. I'll tell you this, looking at the qualifications of the elder, true qualified men are hard to find. And when they do rise up, they must do it with the weight of responsibility on their shoulders. Unfortunately, many are unwilling to take on the responsibility and I'm okay with that because I want an elder board whose courageous enough to say, "Bring it on."
In Titus 1, after writing again the qualifications of the elder, Paul says, "For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain...they profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."
Paul wanted the elders to deal with the false teachers. We need elders who are willing to speak openly about false teachers. They need to be informed and studied, and they can't be intimidated by divisive speech - they must stand on the truth.
Pray for your elders.
Pray for the men whom God is raising up to be elders.
Give them the double portion of honor (I Timothy 5:17) that they deserve.
And when they warn you of false teachers, heed their words.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
False teachers have been around for a long time. What we are seeing today is really nothing new. From the magician Bar-Jesus in Acts to the Kool-Aid serving Jim Jones to the wacky Todd Bentley and the Lakeland revivals, false teachers continue to abound and the church has the obligation to stand up to false teachers. For the sake of the sheep, pastors are obligated to weed out bad doctrine and misleading movements.
Unfortunately, most pastors don't do this because it doesn't seem loving. We live in a time where tolerance and acceptance is more important than truth. And the truth of the matter is that when false teaching is allowed, the body weakens.
But as much as I would like to rant off in that direction, I want to share where my mind has gone over the past few weeks on the topic of false teaching within the church. First of all, Satan was not an ordinary false teacher (as we know them today) because Satan purposefully twisted the truth to produce a response that would bring glory to himself - and he continues to work through lies today, fully knowing what truth is.
In contrast, I don't believe false teachers are as clear-headed as Satan. I think they believe their false teaching and believe it with gusto. If a false teacher knew he was distorting the truth, what would the be the purpose of his message? Satan was rebelling against God - false teachers are often thinking they are leading people to God, when in fact they are not. They have bought into their false doctrine and only want to help others understand what they feel is actually truth. I don't think a false teacher wakes up and says, How can I mislead people so that we can all stray further from the Lord today?
Are you tracking with me? I believe false teachers in the church today are sincere about their beliefs.
It's actually kind of scary, isn't it? I heard a statistic yesterday that said there are 38,000 different denominations in the Christian faith today, all believing different doctrines and truths that they feel is based on scripture.
Now do you see why I think this is scary? Who's to say which church actually has the right doctrine?
It is because of this very fact that the church is leaning toward letting everyone believe what he wants to believe and is frowning upon any intolerance of other beliefs. As a matter of fact, this acceptance is stretching beyond the church and into other religions. I mean, who's to say what's truth and what's a lie? Can we really know? If we are truly sinful people, then how can our minds identify truth? So let's just get along...
This is the teaching and the foundation of the emergent church, and it is this very thought that is allowing false teachers a platform to question doctrine, to make unbiblical assertions common discussion and to turn the table on doctrinal perseverance by labeling it intolerant and unloving.
I believe false teachers are the blind leading the blind. Because they believe their false doctrines, the more they can get to follow them, the more destructive their ministries will become.
So how can we know the truth? How do we know what is right?
Well, here's a start: "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11
Let's be noble minded.
Let's search the scriptures.
Let's not make the question more valuable than the answer.
If God's word says it, let's believe it.
Let's commit to being Bereans and let's take a stand against false teachers.
If we don't, then Jesus just might struggle to find any faith on the earth when He returns - how scary is that?
Monday, April 25, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
On the first day of the week, we find the disciples gathered together when the women bring them the news of Jesus' resurrection. That's really the only indication of what they had been doing since the crucifixion.
I bring this up today, knowing that most remember the crucifixion today, but believing that Jesus was in the grave three days and three nights, I think that technically by this time He was already in the grave. If you need further explanation, come to church on Sunday and Dave will explain.
Anyway, I was thinking today about the followers of Christ. What were they thinking? Were they together the whole time? Were they waiting for the resurrection? Were they recalling His teaching and counting the hours? Or were they distraught, depressed and broken?
I am sure there was a combination of all of the above. Some had to remember His words, "...the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day..." (Luke 9:22) Most, however, were probably overcome with guilt from abandoning or denying Jesus. Their surprise and denial at the women's testimony ("..the words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them..." Luke 24:11) indicate that they were not looking for His resurrection but were rather sequestered in their sorrow together. It had to be terribly difficult days.
So here's the question for the day: You all know what a promoter I am of studying the Word, but why is it in times of great distress, we forget what it says? The disciples had been told several times what was going to happen and yet in their hour of greatest sorrow, they did not remember the words of Jesus.
I'm really not pointing my finger at them - I have done that very thing. The Christian walk is a walk in faith, and the time that faith is most evident is when we have to act on His Words when reality tells us the opposite. We can't forget the truth of the Word at our greatest times of need - that's when we need it the most. That's when we let the Word be our comfort and guide, knowing that God is always true to His promises and even when we can't see what tomorrow holds, He's there holding it already.
Waiting...the next couple of days is the waiting game until we can celebrate the resurrection with our church body. It's play acting, really, because the resurrection is already a reality in our lives. But this is a great opportunity to step in the shoes of the disciples and wait for Sunday morning.
And then, on Sunday morning, take off all the stops and have a real celebration with the body of Christ - shouldn't this emotion outrank any homerun/touchdown/goal scored cheer that we've been a part of?
Let's make this a great Resurrection Sunday...
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Well, we're officially, finally done! Thanks to all who came out and helped with this project. Jen (the artist) and I are thrilled with the final result. A special thanks to Jen and Crystal who organized this project and went above and beyond the call of duty so that our nurseries could be absolutely darling!
These first two pictures are in the walker nursery...
This picture with the giraffes is the mural in the crawler nursery...
And these last two pictures make up the mural in the sleeper nursery - the block walls made it a bit harder than we had anticipated, but now that it's done, I'm glad we didn't let it scare us into not doing the murals at all.
Okay...so I can check this off the list...now, what's next???
Monday, April 18, 2011
"Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord' Blessed is the kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!" Mark 11:9,10
What exactly was happening in this scene?
Jesus had been healing, casting out demons and teaching with authority like no one had ever witnessed before for nearly three years. The crowds were increasing and hope was growing. For over four hundred years God had been silent, and finally He was on the move again. The people assumed Roman oppression was about to come to an end, since in the past God raised up His prophets to bring salvation. The prophet of the Lord was now coming into the holy city and He brought with him the support of the people.
Well, at least most of the people. You see, He didn't have the support of the religious leaders. They could see through the emotions of the people and realized that this man was not offering freedom from Rome but rather freedom from the religious oppression that the Law plus the religious system had created. They didn't like His message and they really didn't mind the Roman oppression, as long as they could continue in the path of righteousness which elevated them above the common man.
So as Jesus entered Jerusalem, the religious leaders were plotting while the people were rallying.
"Hosanna!" they cried.
What does hosanna mean? It really adds to the story, if you know.
Hosanna in its most literal sense means "Save, help, I pray!" It is a cry for divine salvation - the cheering crowds were appealing to Jesus to save them, to help them by ending the Roman oppression. This cry of Hosanna was a cheer intended to give Jesus the confidence that the people were rallied behind Him and ready to follow Him as He entered their holy city.
They were ready for revolution.
They were ready for freedom.
They would follow His lead, as He would rise up against their oppressors and deliver them from...Rome?
Or their own sin?
Had we been in the crowd, would we have known Jesus' intentions? Would we have cried, "Hosanna!" along with the rest, feeling the movement of revolution and the anticipation that God's salvation was right around the corner?
Or would we have known that the oppression that Jesus was to fight was our own personal death warrant? Would we have understood that the Messiah would defeat the power of sin and break the chains of death before He would ever free us from worldly oppression? Would we have even recognized in the presence of the One True God that we needed Him to exchange identities with us to save us, rather than fight along side us?
I daresay that we all sang "Hosanna" yesterday. This is a cry that was answered 2,000 years ago on the cross - as He hung there, the wrath of His Father was poured out on Jesus Christ because of my sin and in that moment, He did help me. He saved me. He answered my cry for Hosanna by becoming my perfect sacrifice.
Don't miss this picture - those crowds crying for salvation missed that Jesus wasn't an Old Testament prophet but God Himself. Determine today not to cry for salvation to anyone but Jesus. Determine not to cry out for help when life is tough and miss the fact that He's already broken the chains of sin.
Luke 19:41 tells us that Jesus didn't let the crowds sway Him from His goal - when He saw Jerusalem, He wept.
Don't miss this picture...
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
and freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord..."
The study of Luke this year has been a great one - great not because of the teaching by any means, but because of the subject matter:
Likewise, the Gifts of the Cross series that we've been doing this past month has been great - not because of the teaching, per se, but again because of the subject matter:
As Jesus began His ministry in Israel, after His baptism and His bout of temptation in the wilderness with Satan, He entered a synagogue and read the above verses from the book of Isaiah which described His ministry goals.
At that time, no one knew how literally He would fulfill each line, but today we can sit in awe and understand exactly what Jesus meant and watch Him do it - in the lives of the Israelites of His time and in the lives of believers throughout history. We have the benefit of the complete Word of God and the proof of history that declares He is Lord and He is in the business of changing lives and eternal destinations.
This next week may just be another week for you, another week that happens to end with an Resurrection Sunday celebration. Oh, dear friend - let's not let that happen! Let's determine to celebrate Jesus all week by walking through the Passion week at home, by mourning our sin and the death of our Savior with a heart of unending gratitude as we remember the cross and head into Sunday with an eager anticipation to rejoice with the Body of Christ in His victory over death which gives us hope and new life! I'll tell you what - if we all did this, the celebration on Sunday would lift the roof off our churches!
I know, I know...everyday we should be celebrating our risen Savior. I agree, but just as the Israelites were commanded to remember the Passover each year, we have our opportunity here as Passover comes this week to remember the fulfillment of it, so let's not miss it. Let's not let the week pass without humble introspection and without immersing ourselves in His-story.
What a day Resurrection Sunday could be this year! Are you in?
Weekly reading suggestion:
Palm Sunday - Luke 19:28-44
Monday - Luke 19:45-48
Tuesday - Luke 20 and 21
Wednesday - Luke 22:1-6
Thursday - Luke 22:7-53
Friday - Luke 22:54-23:55
Saturday - Luke 23:56
Sunday - Luke 24:1-12
Monday, April 11, 2011
I have read hundreds of books in my life, maybe even a thousand. Now, can I remember every book I've read? No. How about the title and author? Nope. Why not? Because all I did was read the book. I didn't study it. I didn't meditate on it. I just read it.
And that's fine. Every book is not meant to change my life. Books can be escapes. They don't always have to be learning experiences. Truth be told, even the Christian help and study books that I've read, I may retain a bit of information, but in the end, I read it and move on.
Is this how we handle the Bible?
Sadly, for most of us, the answer is yes. We read it, check it off our list for the day and move on. Has it changed your life? Has it made you any better for reading it? Are you trying to earn some spiritual brownie points by accomplishing a certain amount of chapters or books within a certain period of time?
Here's a recent conversation that I had:
Me: How's your walk with the Lord?
Her: Fine. I try to read my Bible every day, but I don't always get to it.
Okay, so that is not just one conversation, that is the normal and usual answer when I ask the question.
Is reading the Bible every day what God wants us to do?
This is going to sound wrong, but the answer is no. Reading the Bible just as you read a novel or magazine article will have about the same effect on you - in one ear and out the other. And then there's the issue of understanding. When you read a chapter, do you close the Word and say, "That was nice. Now it's done. On with my day."
That's really sad.
"Study to show yourself approved unto God..." II Timothy 2:15
Stop reading and start studying.
You're not in a race. You don't get extra feather pillows in your mansion in heaven for each time you read through the Bible. You are in this for the long run. So take your time and delve into the Word.
"But how? I don't know where to begin, I don't have the right tools, and I don't understand what I'm reading most of the time."
Bible study is personal and it takes time to figure out exactly what works for you, but here is my suggestion. You have the Holy Spirit. You have the Word of God. And you have a brain. You really don't need much more, except maybe a pen and a notebook. Depending on where you are studying will determine the questions you need to ask and answer, but make up a list of questions and then answer them as best you can while reading a passage. Your list may look like this:
Who wrote this book? (authorship)
Who was he writing to? (audience and circumstance)
What does this passage tell me about God? (Character study)
What does this passage tell me about myself? (personal observation)
Why does God want me to know this? (personal application)
It's just a suggestion, but you have to start somewhere. The Bible must be more than the book sitting on your nightstand. It is your compass for life.
So slow down. Work through a chapter at a slower pace. Don't check off any boxes. Don't worry about speed. Just look for Jesus and draw closer to Him through the study of His Word.
Stop reading and start studying.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
"For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
These words, no doubt, brought great comfort to Jeremiah. They should bring comfort to us, as well.
Isn't it great to know the Sovereign God of the Universe?
He's in control, He's not worried, He'll accomplish all things according to His own will.
He's not in debt, He's not confused and He's not one of many voices, fighting to be heard.
He is God.
And He's not in a panic about the potential of a government shutdown.
And just in case you're wondering what in the world He's doing, this might be an appropriate answer:
"The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples." Psalm 33:10
Monday, April 4, 2011
...indicates heart condition.
Luke 12:33 and 34 says, "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes or moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also."
It's a night like any other night. You fall asleep quickly but then awaken to the fire alarm in your home buzzing wildly. This makes you jump out of bed. Everything looks fine in your room and you run to your bedroom door, throw it open and immediately a plume of smoke hits your face.
This is real, you tell yourself. Then you jump into action.
If you have children, your first instinct is to grab them. But let's say for some strange reason it's just you in the house. You have two minutes to grab what's valuable to you and get out safely.
Now, unless you're a bit psycho and every night before you go to bed you organize a few suitcases full of your most treasured possessions just in case a fire breaks out so that you can grab them and go in a heartbeat, this is a critical thinking time that may surprise you when the crisis passes.
You find yourself standing on your driveway, watching your house go up in flames. After the excitement dies down and the fire trucks leave, you look down at your feet and examine the armful of treasures you grabbed.
I am sure you will wonder exactly what you were thinking when you grabbed that exact pile - why didn't you grab this or that? If only you had time for more than one armful...
So, what's in your pile? Pictures? Your computer? Clothes or shoes? Files or jewelry? Maybe artwork, some spare hidden cash or a fur coat?
Whatever is in your pile will indicate where you heart is, don't you think? In a moment of great crisis, what do you value most?
I wonder why people turn to Jesus as a last resort to help them in a crisis? I'm not talking about the world now, I'm talking about believers. We tend to try to figure out life independent from the Lord and then in our hour of need wait until the last minute and then run to Him because there is nowhere left to turn. Unfortunately, many times we don't know where He is by then because He has been so neglected.
Sad, isn't it?
As we head into spring cleaning time - you know, that time when the weather starts to turn, the snow is done and the rain is here, and you crank open the windows to freshen the house, clean out the pantry and closets and get ready for summer - perhaps it's time to think through our crisis plans. What would you grab and why? Where is your treasure? What is your most valued possession? Where do you go when the crisis hits? What condition is your heart in?
Remember, your treasure location indicates your heart condition.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
The girls were over on Saturday and I thought their shirts were darling! Can you see what they say? Onesie and Twosie - too cute!
Christopher, my son, had a few of his friends over for the weekend - the boys who were in the basketball video with him. They are holding the girls, thus the hairy arms on either side of the picture. Just thought you would be wondering...
And here's Ashley ready to go home. Norah's picture was a bit blurry, so I only posted this one, but they pretty much looked the same.
Love the hat.
Love the cheeks.
Love the girls!
Hope you're having a great Lord's Day!
Friday, April 1, 2011
Well, today ends a week long process, but the job is not quite finished. That's okay...the majority is done. Here are some pictures from the past two days. Here you see Kittye and Linda in the Daniel Room. There was a moment that I called out to them and asked if they were getting any painting done at all - you can see by the looks on their faces they were having too much fun! But they were and I didn't complain at all.
You can see in this picture that the background was already painted and the images were pencilled in before the women arrived. A few of us got the backgrounds and images done earlier in the week, so that yesterday and today would be mural painting. The women picked their own colors and got to work. We started at 9 a.m.
Here is Therese putting extra love in her mural. She painted in the preschool room, where she will be teaching once we're in the building. Her picture is the Zachaeus in the tree - so cute! Wait until you see it done...
Next you have Kathy, Julie and Jackie working on our Jesus mural. Not sure about those reading glasses, Jackie! But what a blessing to have Harvest West Olive women volunteer their time to help us with this project! Julie and Kathy also did the David and Goliath room and they were perfectionists through and through! Thanks, gals!
Here you have Cindy and Heidi painting the Abraham room, or as we have renamed it, The Biker Brian Anderson room. For those of you who know him, look ahead to the finished mural and you'll understand!
And yes, we did have some men come and help. Candice and Richard tackled the Joshua Room and giggled and laughed the whole time...not sure what was so funny in there, but we were glad they were there...
This was the Moses mural that Beth Lile and I worked on. I put this one first so that you can see what the murals looked like by the end of Thursday. They were completely colored in, but still needed to be outlined. The next picture shows the finished product with lines included - big difference, huh?
Here are two of the three nursery rooms - the Noah's ark is in the corner of the far right room and in the far left and middle room, you have animals making their way to the ark, two by two! It is darling! Jen Machiela designed the rooms and did all the drawings. Crystal Miracle oversaw these three rooms for the past two days and it was HUGE job! By the end of today, all the animals have their background color. Now Jen and Crystal, with perhaps a bit more help, will go in and add detail. So nice!
You can see Beth and Crystal (in the shadows by the ark) hard at work in this picture...
And here, you can see the other man who came to help. This is my son-in-law, Austin, and he has a heart of gold, just like Richard Tease. To hang out with a bunch of women and paint...you two are too much!
And finally, as you enter the children's area, this is the mural that will greet you. We called it our Jesus Mural.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your incredible help! We are so excited to have children running in the hallways, touching the paintings and imagining themselves in each story. Please pray for our children and our teachers. To have a child fully give their heart over the Christ at a young age is such a blessing and each week our workers have the opportunity to be the hands, voice and love of Jesus to these children.
A week from Monday the carpet goes in...we're getting closer...