Friday, October 31, 2014

A Very Confusing Day

Yes, today is Halloween, October 31st, Harvest Day-whatever you want to call it.
Like most things you can find whatever information you want to try and argue your side.
Halloween is harmless because of  __________. Halloween is a devilish holiday because of ___________. Instead of trying to prove what Halloween is because of the past I wanted to pass my thoughts on the present state of Halloween.

I don't like it.

I don't like the types of shows on t.v. that glorify violence and horror. I don't like the costumes I see at Walmart that try and prostitute our children. I don't like seeing children running in neighborhoods without supervision. And yes, I'm not a huge fan of candy. I know, former youth pastor, weird.

So I can be an ol' crotchidy man or....

Since I know my children will grow to love trick or treating: I will not let my kids watch t.v. alone this time of year. My wife and I will always make the costumes that my children wear. I will always have time to walk my children around our neighborhood. When they get 'too old' for trick or treating we will open up our house to be the 'cool house' on Halloween. And by 'cool house' I mean parent supervised, bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving, costume contest, everyone out by 10pm house.
And yes, I'll let my kids eat candy really late at night-one night of the year!

I believe that we need to shield our children from certain things, but also let them be exposed to certain things. If truly all things can be used for good, why can't a time when we actually get to meet our neighbors be a good thing?

Soooo maybe I do like Halloween.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Connecting Your Ears to Your Heart

I'm a great listener. I can listen to hundreds and hundreds of your best stories, give a hearty laugh every now and then and even a fist bump if necessary. Now, am I going to remember those stories?? Well now you're asking quite a bit from me.
I don't think our culture has turned into people who don't listen, they just don't take the time and effort to connect it to their hearts. Yes, some of it has to do with selfish pride, and laziness. But I believe a large majority has to do with the simple fact that if you bring something to my attention that would trigger a change in my're the hypocrite!! You're not a real friend!! Why can't I be who I am?!?
Sadly this is why so many people attend church for awhile, until they hear a message that convicts something inside of them and leave. Hopping from church to church until they can find a place that isn't so 'judgmental'. I've seen resistance to church, pastors, messages, but what if it's resistance to the truth? I believe that resistance to the truth isn't because people don't fully understand, it's just because they don't like it. Why can't God just be who I want Him to be? Why can't the Bible say what I want it to say?
Throughout the Bible we see covenants, or promises that God makes with His people. There is one covenant that sticks out to me very clearly. It's a covenant between God and Levi-it's found in Malachi 2:4-7. Starting in verse 4 it says, 'My covenant was with him (God speaking to Levi), a covenant of life and peace...' Yeah I'll take that. God, you're offering peace?? Yeah, my life is a bit crazy right now, I need some peace. Life?? Yeah, I'm good with living-I'll take that too.
But promises are worthless if they are only 1 way. True promises are between 2 people with communication on both ends. So what was Levi's end of the deal? 'Reverance...true instruction was in his mouth...walked in peace...walked in righteousness...turned many from sin.'
Ohhhh. So that's why Bible believing pastors talk about Jesus and sin.
The next time you're in church see if you're ears are connected to your heart. Don't just listen for the things you want, listen for the things you need. If your life is committed to resisting change and avoiding all kinds of conflict, you'll end up in a dark place all by yourself.

God gives forgiveness. He gives hope and He loves you. Stop resisting.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Sacrifice

As we're going through the book of Malachi in the Bible, there are times where it feels like someone took a brick and slammed it in your gut. This is one of those passages-Malachi 1:6-14. So God is speaking through Malachi to the priests of the temple. Notice how when God wants change He first speaks to the religious guys. Clean up your act-how can people know me if you only live for yourself?! 
Here's the passage:

V. 7-9: “You placed defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.
So what's happening? Well the people were bringing sacrifices to the temple-good. The problem? They were missing eyeballs, missing limbs, they were sick and diseased. Since this was Pre-Jesus coming to earth, people would bring the best of what they had to the temple to sacrifice in respect to God, but also to say thank you for His blessings. Sacrifices were a way to honor God. And animals in this day would represent wealth.
Oooooooh. What would you guess would be the first way that he would approach the issue of honor? Where should he start? He starts in a place that you don’t want him to, which means you need him to, and that is to honor God with your wealth.
 How many of you know that God knows your bank account? He knows how much you make, how much you give, and how you spend it. Did you know that? He does.
Here’s the issue: God doesn’t want your money. God wants your heart, but your heart is an indication of your money, because Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart is.” You can’t say, “I love the Lord; I just don’t give.” In the same way, a husband and a father can’t look at his wife and kids and say, “I love them; I just don’t give them anything.” 
And so he parallels this with how they treat the 'governor'. 
He’s referring to the paying of their taxes, that the governor would demand your taxes, and you would not try and get away with giving the governor a lame tax payment.
For example, let’s say you get your tax bill and the government says, “You owe x number of dollars.” And you’re like, “Yeah, I don’t want to pay that. I have a box of old baseball cards in my closet. I’ll bring that to the IRS office, leave it at the front door with a note saying, ‘My taxes are now paid,’ and I’m sure they’ll be OK with that.” God’s saying, “You’re conducting your affairs with me in a way you don’t conduct your affairs with others. You’re taking advantage of my kindness. You would never give these things to people you love." 

So as the brick hits your stomach-what does your sacrifice look like to God? Have you kept the best of your wealth for yourself? Have you kept your time only for yourself-is it time to give God your time and serve? 

God loves, God forgives, and I pray that as I look at my life and everything I have it would honor God-not myself.