RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2019

“Asleep in the Light” by Keith Green

Asleep in the Light” by Keith Green

Do you see?
Do you see?
All the people sinking down?
Don’t you care?
Don’t you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done

“oh, bless me, lord!
Bless me, lord!”
You know, it’s all I ever hear!
No one aches,
No one hurts,
No one even sheds one tear
But, he cries,
He weeps,
He bleeds,
And he cares for your needs
And you just lay back,
And keep soaking it in

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
’cause he brings people to your door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
“god bless you!
Be at peace!”
And all heaven just weep,
’cause Jesus came to your door,
You left him out on the streets

Open up! open up!
And give yourself away
You see the need,
You hear the cries,
So how can you delay?!
God is calling,
And you are the one
But like Jonah, you run
He told you to speak,
But you keep holding it in

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church just can’t fight,
’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?!
When you’ve been so well famed
Jesus rose from the grave,
And you!
You can’t even get out of bed!

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead!
Come on, get out of your bed!
How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done!
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done!
Don’t close your eyes,
Don’t pretend the job is done

Come away! come away!
Come away with me, my love!
Come away from this mess,
Come away with me, my love!
Come away from this mess!
Come away with me, my love!
Come away,
Come away with me my love!

Dear God, I have the honor and privilege of getting to preach tomorrow to a group of people who are very precious. So what is it that you need them to hear?

As I was working through the Presbyterian church’s prescribed liturgy for this Sunday, the Old Testament reading was out of Joshua 5, which I journaled about last Sunday to kick this week off. That’s kind of set the tone for the week. The Promised Land. They had arrived. The men got circumcised and they were expected to start supplying their own food from the land–you turned off the supply of manna. Now it was time to go and take the land.

When they first left Egypt, I would imagine that they didn’t necessarily think through what going back to the Promised Land about which Moses told them would cost them. They might have seen it as their reward for years of slavery. But that wasn’t it. This was just the next chapter for them as a people. It would be hard. They would have to devote themselves to you first. They would have to fight. They would have to struggle. That is how their people would survive and how you would eventually bless the world–through Israel as a nation. As much as their lives were not about “them” while they lived generation after generation in slavery in Egypt, their lives were still not about them. They were about you. They were about your plan.

As I sat down to pray to you this morning, I wanted to clear my head and get focused so I turned to the Christian music on my iPod. I wondered what I should listen to, and I heard a nudging for Keith Green. Eventually, I landed on this song. I think it’s perfect for what I’m talking about in the spirit of taking the Promised Land. “Asleep in the light.” Isn’t that what a lot of us are? Asleep in the light? Isn’t that what I am a lot of the time?

So what will I preach tomorrow? The message is going to be that it’s time to take the land. This particular church has been in limbo through various setbacks for too long. They are now muddled in fear and frustration. They are mired in lethargy. This might sound harsh, but it feels like it’s true. They are too concerned about what is happening within their doors and not concerned enough with what is happening in the neighborhood around them. The message will be, “God has supplied you with manna and he has given you talents, but now it is time to wean yourselves from the manna and start working for your community. It is time to start taking the land. And it starts with personal commitment (see the mass circumcision in Joshua 5:2-8). What will you do to bring commit yourselves to God and bring your talents to the table? What will you do to see that this church advances into the Promised Land and doesn’t flounder in the wilderness? When will you look around and see the world around you dying?

Father, help me to do this well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Tags: , , , ,

Luke 12:39-48

Luke 12:39-48
39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”

42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Dear God, maybe I’ve noticed verse 41 before, but if I have I’ve forgotten it. Peter’s question is interesting, but Jesus’ answer is also interesting. Peter is trying to figure out how big this readiness responsibility is, and Jesus’ limits it in his reply more than I would have expected him to. I would have thought Jesus’ answer would be, “It’s for everyone.” But his reply basically refers to leadership being accountable.

Of course, we are all leaders in our own areas of life. We all have responsibilities when it comes to impacting those around us. Business managers have their employees. Pastors have their churches. Sunday school teachers have their classes. Parents have their children. There aren’t many of us who do not have some amount of responsibility for how we affect others’ lives. Whatever that area of responsibility is, that’s where our accountability to you lies.

As for me, you have given me several responsibilities. I am responsible for loving my wife and, even though my children are now grown, I still have a fathering responsibility with them. I am a manager at work, and I have a responsibility to lead our organization and manage the staff. I also have a responsibility to be accountable to the board of directors. Then there are societal responsibilities. You have put certain issues on my heart. You have touched me like you did Nehemiah and given me specific issues about which I feel like it is my responsibility to respond. And then there are the personal nudgings you give me when it comes to my writing and even public speaking. Am I living up to your expecations in those areas as well?

Father, help me to be found faithful. I hate to ask this, but please correct me where I am in error. I don’t know what you correction will look like, and I am loathe to ask for it, but the truth is that I just want you to be able to look back and know that I didn’t let you down. You have done so much for me, and, out of my love and appreciation for you, I want to make the most of what you’ve given me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 29, 2019 in Luke

 

Tags:

Luke 15:25-32

Luke 15:25-32 [NLT]
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Dear God, the older son won’t understand until he’s a father himself. Being the father of two children, I see this parable a little differently now. Granted, these aren’t real people, and Jesus is only giving us the details he wants us to know to make his point about God’s love for the most, but I still have to wonder what the relationship like between the boys? Did the older brother have bitterness towards his brother that had nothing to do with the father’s actions? He probably did.

I also wonder what the older son was seeing in his father while the younger son was still gone, and if his father’s obvious love for the younger son angered him. Did the older son see his father as naive? Weak? Foolish? Again, I’m looking at a literal family dynamic here and not at the relationship we have with you.

But now that I say that, do those of us who are Disciples and believers get angry with you over what you allow our sinful world to get away with? Do we hate our sinful brothers instead of waiting on the porch with you, watching for them to come home? Do we secretly resent your plan for the world and think you foolish?

Father, thank you for what you’ve taught me through being a father. Thank you for the pain and strain. Thank you for the redemption and growth. It’s been hard, it’s been great, it’s been fulfilling, and it’s ripped my heart out. I’ve needed all of those things to happen to shape me into who I am becoming through your guidance. Help me to continue on this journey as a father, as a brother, as a friend, and as a Disciple.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2019 in Luke

 

Tags: ,

Luke 15:11-24

Luke 15:11-24 [NLT]
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

Dear God, I know this isn’t an actual story, but a parable so I should be careful of how much I read into people’s motives in it. However, this story is a representation of you and some of the children you love (possibly me, although I am more likely the older brother), so perhaps I should consider some aspects of this that I haven’t considered before.

The big one is, as a father of grown children, I now wonder more about this son. What drove him? What motivated him? I’ve always just seen him as greedy and selfish, but as a dad I try to consider what is driving the actions I see from my children. Do you consider the same thing when you see us wander (or run) away from you?

For example, in this case, when you see one of your children running after self-indulgence, do you consider their past when assessing your response? Do you look at trauma done to them? Do you consider addiction? Do you think about how they never learned to live their neighbor as themselves? I think the answer is obvious. Of course you do. I do it when I look at my kids, and you know all of us better than I know my own children, or even myself.

Father, in the end, the answer still comes back to the same place where this part of the parable ends. Each of us has to come to the end of ourselves. Some of us have lower boiling points than others. We get there quicker. But my prayer for my own children is that you would be with each of them on their journeys through life and please keep me from doing things that will hinder you from molding each of them into the people you know they can be. And do everything so that all of us might decrease and you increase.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 27, 2019 in Luke

 

Tags:

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 [NLT]

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Dear God, there is some work for us to do here. We have a task set out for us—to reconcile people to you through our knowledge of who Jesus is and what He did. We are Jesus’ ambassadors, and you use us to make your appeal to people. And what’s our message? That Jesus came to bring us freedom through the release of our sins by His own sacrifice.

There is a billboard out on the highway about five miles outside of my town. It’s says something like, “Jesus can free you from your sin.” I’ve had a negative initial reaction to it. Going back to my marketing training, I’ve wondered what I would say instead. For me, it all starts with the four questions a man taught me back in 1995. These are what I ask myself before I write a piece:

  • Who am I talking to?
  • What do they think?
  • What do I want them to think?
  • How do I get them to think that?

In the case of this billboard, part of my “what do they think?” answer is that I think the word sin has a lot of baggage and, for the purposes of this billboard, I probably would have avoided it. People are miserable in their sin. They hide it. The deny it. They hold onto it because it pretends to offer them what they think they want. What they don’t want is to be judged by me or preached at by a billboard.

So what would I put on that billboard? I heard a sermon on the gospel from Andy Stanley back in December, and this thesis was, “I understand not being able to bring yourself to believe in the Jesus of the Bible, but I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t WANT it to be true.” That’s probably where I would go with this billboard. As your ambassador, I think my message should be, “The Jesus of the Bible can set you free!”

Father, help me to live this message to those who come across my path today. There are times when I feel like I am a terrible ambassador for you. I let way too many opportunities pass me by. I’m sorry for that. Please give me your eyes to see, ears to hear, courage to act, and words to say.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 26, 2019 in 2 Corinthians

 

Tags: , , , ,

Psalm 32

Psalm 32 [NIV]
[1] Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. [2] Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. [3] When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. [4] For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. [5] Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. [6] Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. [7] You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. [8] I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. [9] Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. [10] Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. [11] Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Dear God, I double checked to see who wrote this. It is one of David’s. I love that David knew the value of repentance. I love that he told others through things like these psalms that he is blessed because of his repentance, and his bones waste away when he remains silent (verse 3).

One of the great things that I love about the 12 Steps in AA is that you start off with acknowledging something that has either been a secret addiction or that you have been holding on to for a while. Then as you work through the steps you take a personal inventory and make amends when appropriate. That is great stuff.

I have a friend who went off the rails about 10 years ago, and I am convinced that something happened that either he did, was done to him, or both. I am of the firm belief that he won’t be free until he confesses it to you, and perhaps to someone else. Satan’s power is in the secret. He blackmails us. Shames us. Lies to us. And all it takes to break the power is your blood and repenting to you.

Father, help me to be fully repentant to you and to share my repentance with others when I need to. Help me to not hold onto my own idols and sin, but to let go and embrace the love you have for me. Do it all or your glory, Father.

I pray all of this by the power of Jesus’ blood and in His name,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 25, 2019 in Psalms

 

Tags: , , , ,

Joshua 5:9-12

Joshua 5:9-12
9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.
10 While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. 11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.
Dear God, to put this story into context, chapter 4 is about them passing through the Jordan and into the Promised Land. Then verse 1-8 (really 2-8) of this chapter tell about having all of the males who were born in route from Egypt over the previous 40 years circumcised and letting them heal from that (gotta say, that sounds barbaric and horrible). Now, you have a message for them: You’re here. Your baby food is over. It’s time to start treating this place like your home, and that means providing for yourselves here.

I’m going to be preaching at a church next Sunday, and this is the Old Testament reading. As I think about that church, I am thinking about some of the trials they have been through over the last several years. Perhaps the message you have for me to give them is that the time of sitting around and eating manna is over. They have their settlement of a legal action where a trusted staff member embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars behind them. They were fortunate enough to receive a gift from someone that helped to make them whole from that unfortunate situation. They have crossed through the Jordan. It is time to start planting crops and setting up shop. It is time to advance on the enemy around them. It’s time to reach out into the neighborhood around them and start bringing your light into the families and individuals within their reach. No more complaining. No more feeling sorry for themselves. No more fear. It’s time to go.

Father, prepare my heart this week for the words you have for me to share with them. Love them through me. Speak to them through me. Give them peace. Give them vision. Give them victory. Give them healing. And do all of this because they are worshipping you, bringing you glory, and then taking that glory into the world. And help me to live up to all of this in my personal life as well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 24, 2019 in Joshua

 

Tags: ,