Does God Still Speak?

A13914.jpg
Rembrandt

If you want to create a lively-and sometimes ungodly-conversation among believers, ask the simple question, “Does God speak to people today?” It is like tossing a hand grenade into a busy mess hall during boot camp and watching the soldiers rush for the door. Depending upon one’s background and theological bent, the answers will range from ‘of course He still speaks’ to ‘not since the canon of Scriptures has been completed.’ This is a frequent question among young believers, especially in light of the fact they wish to walk free from a dead and lifeless form of Christianity.

Theologians of previous generations must be read carefully, as they were combating errors and heresy unique to their time. This is why we have to be very careful not to ‘over-judge’ the statements from previous generations unless we know with reasonable certainty the layers to the theological battles that raged during their life of ministry. Equally so, we must be careful when using their quotes in our generation, as they may not be bringing out the essential issues we face.

It is easy for us to read famous quotes from writers and theologians and turn them into false dilemmas by using them and presenting an either/or option when more than two options are available. One such case can be illustrated with this quote I ran across some time back while reading puritan writer, John Owen. It is similar to some quotes I’ve read in various systematic theology books that were written during times when the church was battling the dangers of mysticism that is not grounded in sound doctrine.  Continue reading “Does God Still Speak?”

Passion Born Out of Conflict

Conflict PassionConflict is painful. It presses us beyond our strength and understanding, and forces us to seek solutions outside the box of our perception. Once we have faced conflict through the truth of Scriptures, a passion from God ignites in our soul concerning what we discover. It is that passion that plunges us into new dimensions of faith and a Spirit-filled walk.

Christian faith is filled with passion. It only becomes passionless when we fail to cultivate intimacy with our risen Lord. For believers there are several areas of interest concerning passion, and each one of them is born out of some type of conflict. Here are five: Continue reading “Passion Born Out of Conflict”

The Foolishness of Pride

Woodpecker TreeWe live in a culture and generation that celebrates pride. We see it in everything from politics to sports. News organizations give daily updates on the health and extramarital affairs of star athletes while rarely mentioning the sacrifice of the unsung heroes who work with the unfortunate and outcast of society. Even the unlearned and ignorant among Christian circles applaud and promote ministers that strut around like peacocks overflowing with pride.

God said that he “opposes the proud.” (1Pet. 5:5) This is a military term meaning that He sets himself in battle array against the proud. He still does! As Christians, we must never accommodate that which God hates. If we do, it will be to the peril of our own soul.

To illustrate the character of pride, I’m reminded of this story that I heard years ago about Continue reading “The Foolishness of Pride”

Raising Heros

Boys - YoungThe world looks for heroes. Every generation longs for them. Heroes give us hope for a world gone crazy. They give us reasons to continue and a desire for better things.

I’m convinced we look in the wrong places; hollywood, pop music, books and movies. If you are like me, you realized that the real heroes of life comes from the little feet that roam through your house. Yes, our children are heroes. Sometimes we get too busy with the hardships of rearing children that we fail to see and recognize the potential they have. They are the hope for the future…they are the real heroes.

As a father whose children have grown, I become aware more and more that the real heroes in my life were my three boys. Each being different, but providing a unique gift and reflection of God’s character before their mother and me. I wish I would have seen with clarity what I do now. I needed to look no further for heroes than the constantly active little boys and laughing voices that were running through the house. Continue reading “Raising Heros”

No to Resolutions…Yes to Surrender

SurrenderAt the beginning of every year, millions of people, including Christians, start the calendar year off with resolutions and self-promises. It is man’s way of attempting to have a better year than the one before. If we look back over several decades, we find that most have repeated the same old resolutions year after year. Obviously, the power of our ‘resolve’ hasn’t been successful.

Maybe, we need to do things differently. Maybe, the answer is not in the strength of the ‘will of man.’ Real change is found in surrender to the Only One who can change us from the inside-out. This is why the Gospel is so powerful–it is not just a message of a historical figure who died in space-time for us. Jesus actively and existentially changes us as we lay ourselves upon the altar of prayer and spend time in His Word and in His presence.  Continue reading “No to Resolutions…Yes to Surrender”

The Longest Bridge

Lake Pontchartrain CausewayI have personally traveled across the top three longest bridges in the United States. They are all in Louisiana. The longest is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge pictured in this article. In fact, it is the longest continuous bridge over a body of water in the world. The journey across it seems to never end with the ‘plank-plank’ of the tires across the concrete sections of this 24 mile long bridge. It has an eery sound which seems surreal and sobering at the same time. I always wonder at the ingenuity of man to be able to construct such a large bridge.

And yet, there is a bridge that is longer than this–the distant between the heart and the head. It seems to be traveled by few and maintained by even less. Here is a quote from Ravi Zacharias about that Bridge.

“…life has to find a bridge from the mind to the heart. It was a famed archbishop of Canterbury who said that the longest journey in life is from the head to the heart.” ¹

This bridge is a necessary part of building a confident faith and a Spirit-filled walk with Christ. If we only engage the head, it makes us cerebral and dry, giving answers without compassion or empathy. If we only Engage the heart, it makes us over emotional and volatile, giving pat answers without the substance of intellectual vigor. Both extremes create a freakish anomaly in the name of faith. Continue reading “The Longest Bridge”

Freedom to You…Freedom from You

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen believers get serious about walking in the Spirit and following the Lord’s call for their life, they face one of the most dangerous places of their life. That place is not in obeying the Lord, but in how to communicate with those who are called differently or in another direction. We all want freedom and encouragement from others to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership to us, but it is easy to demean or put down others not called to the same work. We must learn the principle of freedom to you…freedom from you!

If we want others to give us the liberty to respond to the call of Christ upon our life, we must give them the same liberty. If we do not, we will become legalistically assertive with our ‘vision’ and seek to impose it as a standard for all. Our communication will become coercive and over-authoritarian, and fail to display the liberty Christ has given to every believer.

If someone has a call to obey the Lord to do a particular ministry, and it does not violate the truth or standard of Scriptures, then praise the Lord. It does not matter if we agree with the how, when or whats of their calling, that is between them and the Lord. We must grant them this freedom and pray for them as they seek to obey their call with honest hearts and commitment. Every genuine believer is the Lord’s servant, not man’s.  Continue reading “Freedom to You…Freedom from You”

Rearing Children to Stay in the Church

large_praying_handsA Pastor friend of mine from North Carolina shared with me that one out of every four children who grow up in the Church abandon their faith once they get out on their own. (Usually off to college) Startling, but true facts.

How do we prevent our children from being on the bad side of this statistic? Many friends, including fellow Pastors  have asked me what Susanne and I did to rear 3 boys who are all active and solidly planted in a local church, and who continue to walk faithfully even after becoming adults. Rearing children, especially boys seems to be a very hard task in the age we live in. Here are my answers to those who have requested my help with this over the years.

1. The New Birth – Be careful to make the new birth in Jesus a constant and clear message. Refuse to allow church membership or attendance to become a substitute for spiritual life. Gathering with other believers with commitment is important, but nothing meets the importance of true Spiritual life through faith in Christ! Attending church without the new birth is only a religious exercise. Attending with a genuine faith makes it alive and refreshing.

2. The Totality of Life – Make sure that the Christian faith is expressed in the context of the full expression of life, and do not let it become lost in a ‘religious’ framework of ‘church.’ A robust faith in every facet of life is a healthy and biblical faith.

3. Demonstrating Repentance and Openness – As parents, be quick to live out the humble and real practice of repentance and openess before your children. Repent to them whenever you fail before them. Nothing makes Christianity more real to our children as our brokenness and repentance. Using godly wisdom, discuss your own journey of maturing in faith, and be open about your struggles of seeking God’s will. Continue reading “Rearing Children to Stay in the Church”

My Son is a Hero!

JoshLeadingWorshipSometimes we learn things from the actions of our children that it makes our heart swell with joy, thanksgiving and humility. That happened to me this past week.

My oldest son, Josh, is a youth and young adults pastor in Kannapolis, North Carolina. I was visiting with him and preparing to travel with him and some of his youth group to a week long church camp. We had not seen each other since Christmas, and as we were catching up on things, he related a story to me which tore my heart out as well as made me burst with pride–the good kind.

He had been praying for months about how to reach kids from a lower income project housing close to his church. It started when he, along with a couple of his other youths, went and bought some popsicles and sat down in the middle of the projects and asked, “Does anyone want a popsicle?” Kids flocked to them and the friendships began.

After several months of building relationships with these young street-wise kids, they began wanting to hang around Josh. They loved being around him because they felt he Continue reading “My Son is a Hero!”

Overloaded With Wood

Bond fireThe unique thing about building a fire is that you start with a little wood and fire–then you add more wood. Sometimes I think our view of church planting is so complicated that we’ve stacked wood for a huge bond fire, but we have forgotten to bring the fire.

We have an overload of conferences, an overload of ideas, an overload of books, an overload of theories, an overload of symposiums, and an overload of interest. Our wood is stacked as high as the old Aggie bond fire rallies at Texas A&M, and yet we are not burning…we are not on fire!

We are overloaded with wood.

We’ve attempted to cross every “t” and dot every “i” in order to be prepared. But honestly, how do you prepare sufficiently for the move and falling of God’s fire when He breaks out. We map out all the “how to’s” and the “what ifs,” and then we say, “Here is our wood, Lord, light it!” All of this while the Lord is saying, “Let me bring fire to your life in prayer, and then I’ll also provide the wood.”  Continue reading “Overloaded With Wood”

Lord, Increase Our Faith

FaithLike every true believer, the disciples desired to walk in a deeper dimension of faith with Christ. They asked Him to explain how they could increase their faith. (Luke 17:5-10) What a wonderful request! However, when we examine the answer Jesus gave to them, we are surprised at His response. It is a great distance from what is usually taught today in Christian circles. How did Jesus answer this question? How does it apply for us if we want to increase our faith? Let’s look at this briefly.

* First Point – Jesus discusses how a ‘grain of faith the size of a mustard seed’ contains all the power necessary to perform His will. (v. 6)

Application – The faith given to every believer at the new birth in Christ is sufficient to accomplish God’s will if we use it! While we think in terms of enormity…the Lord thinks in terms of simplicity and potentiality. If we look to what we already have in Jesus, we will discover the power to do all He commands. (Eph. 3:20)

* Second Point – Jesus discusses the relationship between servant and master. (v. 7-8) Servant is an unfortunate translation. The Greek word for servant (doulos) is ‘slave.’ A Continue reading “Lord, Increase Our Faith”

Changing Hurdle Jumpers

hurdleWe have been rapidly moving toward a post-Christian culture. That can be daunting to those, like myself, who are old enough to remember the Christian dominating culture and have lived through the transition. However, if we embrace one important dynamic, it does not have to be the hurdle we think it is.

In order for many of our neighbors in our culture to ‘come to church,’ they must jump many hurdles to get to our services. Some of those hurdles are:

  • Meeting times – do we worship a day or a person?
  • Dress codes – do ties and dress slacks make us more spiritual?
  • Meeting protocol – why 3 songs, an offering, a sermon and a prayer?
  • Bible linguistics – why heavy theological language which most don’t understand?
  • etc.

The average ‘posty’ (my term for a post-Christian person) must jump over these and many other hurdles in order to ‘fit into’ our puritanical and centralized pattern of church. Continue reading “Changing Hurdle Jumpers”