Category Archives: Mike

Guest posts from Mike

On being a fool

I woke early this morning thinking about a passage of scripture that I thought I understood. As I thought about my own life and the verse I will share with you in a moment it suddenly struck me that the way I had viewed the verse was all wrong. I had missed the main point! Here’s the words from Psalms,
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”As I thought about this verse and my own life I realized I’m the fool! It’s not the denial of God that’s the problem, it’s thinking and living like there is no God! I’m the greatest fool of all in this. 

Yes, I am a Christian. I’m a pastor. I do love the Lord, BUT I often think, act and live like there is no God. The bible calls me a fool and it’s right to do so. If God is really there then my thoughts and life should be different because of that.

If there really is a God who is there then that will affect what I look at on the internet and on television. For any man or woman to get involved in sin, whatever the flavor, is to say in your heart, “there is no God…no one is watching…no one will ever know.” If you’ve ever done that, and I have, then you’re a fool. I speak from first hand experience. When you make a decision to sin, in any way, you’re saying in your heart “there is no God…no one will know.” But he does. He sees. You’re being a fool when you do that and so am I. Continue reading On being a fool

Finding my way

It’s often hard for me to see God’s work in my life. I’m living moment by moment and I can’t see what he is doing in my moments. The light that shows me what God is doing sometimes comes much later. Most of the time I only get a glimpse, a stream of light through the clouds, a smile from heaven as it were. Finding my way is the challenge of life. How to navigate the road ahead when I only see a little bit in front of me.

I remember, years ago, while driving late at night in my 1937 Plymouth Road King that I accidentally hit the light switch and turned off the lights. What a panic! Going down the road in pitch blackness at 60 miles per hour. I quickly fumbled for the lights and the fear that overwhelmed me from the experience took hours to wane. It’s that feeling we often live with…the feeling of living in the dark. How to find the way? How to know what God is doing. It’s often a matter of trust when we see nothing at all.

Finding my way….I’m still working on it. But what I know is that God has promised to lead me, to help me, just as a guide would lead a blind man, holding my hand and leading me around the things I can’t even see. Paul wrote these words in Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs in Christ Jesus…” My greatest need is a guide to show me the way. I’m so glad he is that tender hand leading me along…even when I can’t see the way to go.

Anticipating Christmas


Christmas is less than two weeks away! It’s come so quickly this year that it has caught us unprepared. We don’t have a tree up yet. Few decorations are on the walls. It feels a little like a humbug Christmas because it’s not all about the trees, the lights and the decor…it’s about Christ.

I know he probably wasn’t born on this date. That’s not important. What’s important is the remembering of the birth of God on planet earth. The entrance of the king. The breach of time and space that brought God’s solution to our problem into reality. That’s the meaning of Christmas! And for that birth, for that King, for that invasion of humanity by God himself I’m most thankful. I do wish I better understood how amazing this event really is. God becoming man. How could we possibly understand such an amazing plan as this?

Consumer or worshiper?

As a pastor this contrast of worshiper or consumer is often a topic of discussion and thought. We are in such a consumer driven culture that even church has become a consumer product. We change churches because we like the music better over there or the preacher is “really good” at this church, but we forget that we are not in church for us. We are there, as the family of God, to worship HIM. Church is about HIM, not us.

We are even consumers as we watch a sunset. “Isn’t that beautiful?” “What amazing colors!” It’s as if the sunset was meant for our entertainment. In that moment we miss the main intent of a beautiful sunset- it’s meant to inspire worship of God. Yes, we are to enjoy the beauty of the site, but the goal of that amazing sight is worship. God, you are so amazing! Thank you for this beautiful sunset. Thank you for what you have made!

One of the problems with being a consumer is that we are never satisfied. We have been programed to be dissatisfied and always wanting more. A beautiful sunset for a consumer would generate this response, “Yeah, that was good, but you should have seen it yesterday…that was amazing!” Continue reading Consumer or worshiper?

He is able

He is able….
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What a great introduction to so much more. He is able. When we know that the God who made the universe is able to AND willing to work in our lives it changes how we view everything. The big question for our faith is this, “Is God big enough to take care of my problem?” That question, whether spoken or not, is at the heart of our fears and worries. Here’s the answer from scripture,
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He is able.
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Now, the next question I know some would ask is this….Is he willing? To both questions the answer is “YES!” Scripture is full of both his ability to meet our needs and his willingness to do so. Here is a passage I read this morning that speaks to these great questions of our heart. It’s one of the great benedictions of scripture. You may have heard it before, but it speaks to these two questions in a grand and wonderful way.
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Jude 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Continue reading He is able

Thankful a little longer

 

May I take the Thanksgiving theme a little further? One day is simply not enough for me to say thanks for God’s love, goodness and faithfulness to us. I can’t help myself, but must talk about it a little more. Will you indulge me for a moment longer?

I’m thankful to God for who he is, who he shows himself to be- good, loving and faithful. Those attributes show up in our world in three ways, 1. what he has done, 2. what he’s doing now, and 3. what he will do in the future. All three declare to a watching world that God is good, loving and faithful to his creation. Here are a few of the things I have noted in these thoughts. There are many more, but this will be enough for this post. Continue reading Thankful a little longer

Thankful

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

“It takes a lifetime to just begin to understand the truth. It’s a long journey, and one that is filled with adventure. To not go is to become mostly bored, and resigned to finding entertainment as stimulus to ease the soul ache.” — D.J. Chuang

 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

They feared the Lord and….


I read this passage this morning and have been thinking about it all day. The one word that got the nation of Israel in trouble was the word “and.” It struck me that not much has changed in nearly 3,000 years. We still have our “and” to deal with. Here’s the verse that caught my attention and makes me think about my own life,

2 Kings 17:33They feared the LORD and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile.

The “and” always gets us in trouble, doesn’t it? Here are a few examples of how much trouble this can cause us:
-We love God AND our stuff. From experience I will tell you that God won’t allow that “and” to remain. The creator will not compete with his creation.
-We fear the Lord AND man. Fear of man will quickly take our focus off of God.
-We serve God AND money. As you know from Jesus’ words this will not work.
So I wonder. How much of my life is complicated and compromised by “and?”

What are you thankful for?

It’s Thanksgiving week and an opportunity to thank God for his care, provision and love. We have so much to thank him for…not only what he has given, but also what he has not given.
When we have so much we forget how blessed we really are. So, what are you thankful for? May I start?
I’m thankful for God’s care. We are so richly blessed! I’m thankful for a place to live, a job I love, a family that is amazing, friends that care about me and health.
There is so much more….so much we take for granted, but let me start with that short list and I will add to it as we go through the week. So, what are you thankful for?

The law of liberty

This morning I got to attend a men’s study I have dearly missed. They are studying the book of James. Today they are in chapter two and as we read we came to these words, 

12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

The discussion focused for a moment on this strange phrase, “the law of liberty.” It’s a short phrase that presents a paradox. Law and liberty seem, in our day, to be opposites, but in this short passage the text puts these two concepts together. The law of liberty is a contrast to the law of Moses. The law of Moses had 10 commandments, but many more requirements. The law of liberty has one item and yet it fulfills and replaces perfectly the law of Moses! How can this new law of liberty replace all that the old law required? How can this new law of liberty do what the law could not?

It fulfills the law and gives liberty with this one simple command- Love your neighbor as yourself. That one command replaces the law and gives liberty to those living by this new law. Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s a law that brings liberty because when I love those around me it sets me free from a list, rules, trying to measure up, trying to please. Love makes the difficult easy. Love, as Solomon wrote, covers a multitude of sins. This amazing law of liberty sets me free to enjoy people. I don’t have to try to please them, control them or make them happy. All that is accomplished by love and it sets me free to have real, deep and meaningful relationships. A law that produces liberty? Amazing, but wonderfully true. Today I’m just meditating on this promise of a law that brings liberty.

Made To Woship

Made to worship

We were made to worship.
It’s part of us.
It’s part of who we are.
We look for someone to worship, some thing to worship. If we don’t worship a god of some kind we will worship things, ourselves, others.
We were made to worship.
Worship is what we give worth to…what’s important to us. We look for something higher than ourselves to give our lives meaning and purpose. We look for something worth living for. We look for something to worship.
The God who made us designed us to worship him, but we have chosen other things…lower things…things that don’t fulfill what worship of the true God was meant to do. Worship of God brings focus, peace, direction, joy, happiness. All of these things come because we are doing what we were meant to do- worship and praise the God who made us.
Worship is good for us.
We were made to worship.
Here’s one man’s worship after a very difficult day. It’s a great example of a right focus even in difficult days,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” -Job

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

You’re gonna have to serve somebody.
These lyrics from Bob Dylan’s song resonate with the words of Paul in Romans 6. Paul’s focus in the second half of this chapter is this- we are all designed by God to have a master. We are built that way. That sounds strange, doesn’t it, but when I use the word master it’s the lowest idea of what God intended.

 

God designed us to always be in intimate relationship with him….all the while allowing him to be Lord of our lives. But that plan went wrong when Adam chose a different lord….a taskmaster that led him into bondage. Now this idea of another reigning in my life is considered primitive, religious or even stupid.

But here’s the problem…in spite of our aversion to the idea it’s still the way we function, it’s still the way we are made, so we WILL install a master, a lord to reign in our lives. The question Paul asks is this- Do you understand how important this decision is? Do you understand the
implications? Who you choose as your lord will determine all that follows.

As I prepared to teach through this material last week I came to two verses, completely unrelated, that caught my attention because of one common word. Here are the verses and then let’s talk about them,

Genesis 4 “Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Notice these words, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you…it desires to master you, but you must master it.”

Now, contrast that passage with this,


“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

Two visitors have come to seek entrance. One comes by stealth, crouching, looking for a way in to master us. The other comes knocking, looking for a relationship. What a contrast of masters. One simply wants to master our lives to sin, and finally death. The other wants a relationship, time to eat, fellowship with us and brings life. These are the two choices of masters. We each will choose one or the other. Here’s how Paul describes it in Romans 6,

“…do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

You’re gonna have to serve somebody. At the door wait two masters. One will reign with evil desires and death as the final outcome. The other will rule in love and grace with life as his goal for you.

As I have thought about this I realize that most do not believe this is true. We believe, as the writer once wrote, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” But it’s simply not true. We aren’t our own masters. It’s clear we choose whom we will serve, but serve we will.

 

 

Who do you serve?

 

Salvation!

There is a story in Chile that has been unfolding for months. It’s the story of more than 30 miners who have been trapped underground. It’s a story I have been thinking about as I watch the efforts to rescue them.

This story has amazing similarities to the dilemma the human race is in regarding sin. We, like those miners, have been trapped! In spite of our best efforts we cannot get out of this mess ourselves. We are trapped! We need someone to rescue us. That is the drama of the last few months as millions have been spent to drill down to them, to save them, to rescue them.

They are trapped in their cave. There is no way out by their own efforts. Someone has to help them, dig them out and save them. As I thought about these men and their helpless situation it struck me that the human race is in a similar situation. We are trapped by sin and cannot rescue ourselves. We need help! We need someone to save us.

That is what the good news is about- God’s rescue plan for the human race. Since we are unable to save ourselves he made his way to us and provided a way out…Deliverance! Rescue! Freedom! Salvation! It’s only when we realize how helpless we are that we look for help from someone else. These miners know they cannot save themselves and so they wait…they wait for salvation.

How many of them will take advantage of salvation when it comes? How many will get in the recovery pod to be brought back to life by someone else? Do you think any of them will decline? Will there be any who would say, “No thank you, I can save myself. I don’t need anyone else to save me. I’ll do it myself, thank you very much.” To even write these words is silly. None will remain behind. None will believe they can rescue themselves. All will respond to the saving work of others. All of these men will gladly say “YES!” to salvation.

Like these miners the human race is trapped and in need of salvation. God has come and done for us what we could never do for ourselves. He has rescued us, provided a way out….he’s sent the recovery pod for us. Why would any say no to his wonderful rescue plan? Why would any turn down God’s gift? Here is his salvation plan for mankind. Who wouldn’t want to be rescued from the dark pit of sin and death? Who wouldn’t respond to this free gift of life?

John 3:16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”

Stupid People

 

You’ve met them, haven’t you? Stupid people. They are everywhere! As I think about these people I realize that they get this title because they don’t agree with me! It’s our way to deal with the dissonance in our lives when we run into someone who is different, believes different things, lives a different lifestyle. If they don’t fit with our worldview they are just plain stupid!
But honestly, they would probably think the same thing about you! From their view of the world they would call you stupid. This description of people is a wonderfully large bucket we use to dismiss the lives and thoughts of others…they’re just stupid. They don’t know any better. If they knew what I knew they wouldn’t do that, say that, live that way, believe that….but they don’t, they aren’t, so we have to deal with them and we simply dismiss them.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to ask, “Would you tell me about your life? I would really like to know why and how you have come to where you are.” With that question we have dismissed our fears and resolved the dissonance with the realization that this is a real person that Christ died for. They might be different, think different and even live different from you, but they are people God loves….we should do the same. The only stupid person is the one who sees a political party, a religion, a category and misses the person.
Those we often put in the category of “stupid people” are the very ones Jesus would have been drawn to. He would hang out with them, love them and spend time with them…..and most of us, like the Pharisees, would raise an eyebrow and be irritated with Jesus for wasting his time, but remember…..he “wasted his time” on us.