Friday, May 30, 2008

Galatians 6:7-8

"Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit."

I was asked to give a Graduation Speech at our local Life Skills Center. It's a charter school with 50 graduates from at-risk background.

My youth pastor asked me to fill in for him this summer on a Wed. night.

I'm planning to share the Laws of the Harvest with both groups...tailored to fit each group of course, but the theme and message will be the same.

My preparation has caused me to reflect and take stock in my own sowing and reaping. Here are my thoughts (as they should be applied to me and mine...absolutely no legalism or forced standards on others should be read into this :))...

- God will not be mocked. Living an inconsistent lifestyle to what we portray to others on Sun. & Wed. is mocking God.
- Left to it's own, the garden WILL grow weeds, we need to weed out those things that do not aid in the harvest we are aspiring to grow. For me, and I stress...FOR ME...this includes some music, movies,books and TV shows that promote an unrealistic or fantasy lifestyle that is incongruent with the harvest I desire (and brings glory to God). You see, I travel alone a good bit. I'm in mixed company out of town. I'm out at night at business dinners. These things I can't help, nor do I want to change. I see these activities as me being "in the World". It's in these opportunities where I get to be "salt" and "light" be set appart...However, I know my heart, and the desperately wickedness that is there...and if the weeds of a lust filled, debaucherous world (think beer commercials, sex and the city, and desperate housewives) were allowed to grow unweeded...I believe I would be much less effective in the world in which I live...

Don't get me wrong...I never see me being unfaithful (I love my wife too much)...but I do catch myself blowing it with inappropriate humor or an off color comment...and that's where I believe the weeding needs to take place.

Monday, May 26, 2008

At the one third point

50 games into the season...that's right 1/3 of the way through...our Tampa Bay Rays are in 1st place in the toughest division in Baseball, have the best record in the Major Leagues, and are 10 games over .500.

Just let me know when you want your next update...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Crazy Conflict of Interest

I'm on the board of the Chamber of Commerce. The committee I serve on is the Smart Community Committee. The purpose of Smart Communitee is just what the name implies, do things smarter - greener, more efficient, etc. The presentation we saw last week was on Sustainability. Most of the focus was on growth management slide rocked me...then the moral dilema of the issue really shook me. And I had no idea.

It appears our little burrow of 90,000 is the best place in the Southeastern US to be homeless. With only 0.2% of Florida's population, we have 3% of Florida's homeless population...15 times what is should be relative to our population. Here's why...

According to our fine city's Master Planner (the nice man giving us the Sustainability presentation), this is a major problem to the long term sustainability of our city. The drugs, prostitution, thievery, and general malfeasance that takes place around these two downtown locations (which are 400 yards away from each other), is a major detriment to our city's long term survivability. He mentioned that we have become the MECCA for homeless, attracting homeless folks from as far away as Portland, OR. He SAID (and I quote), "whenever these ministries come to speak at our church, I stand up and tell everyone do not support these ministries, its a problem."

I truly get his point. By doing our part and then some, we've made our community super attractive to the homeless from all over our region of the country.

However, we're called to be salt and light, to excercise our faith, to care for the poor and downtroden. Hence my dilema.

So where do you fall on this?

I'm leaning toward the fact that Jesus wouldn't care about bricks and mortar and property values and sustainability...all that stuff is crash and burn...but the souls of men are eternal. What an opportunity we have...what if we were to take this thing to the next level and cater to 6% or 12%? What if we cured the homeless problem in the Southeast?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More from 1 Corr.

May has been 1 Corr. 13 - 16.

Funny how timing works out. Recently I got under my friend Brent's skin (his words were, I pushed his hot button) by holding some well known Emergent Authors accountable for their words. I believe words mean things and the larger the audience, the more accountable you need to be (take note Joel Osteen and Charles Barkley).

So, I guess, if you were an outsider (being anyone else other than my friend and I who read this blog) and you caught the banter, you might guess...Hollywood has some Prophet tendancies and Brent has some Mercy tendencies and those were at odds here.

Then we read Ch. 13.

Side note: I find it amazing (again) how out of context this Chapter has been used, including by yours truly, at weddings, to send to boyfriends and girlfriends, etc. It's smack in the middle of a 4 chapter diatribe by Paul on Spiritual gifts and how the Church needs them all.

Anyway, Paul goes into great detail to say "I don't care where your gift is, if it's not wrapped in Love, then back down!"

That's kind of what my friend Brent was saying to me.

(Flips lid in Brent's direction, while saying too-shee.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Asking Jesus in...

Every time I hear it or read it, I get a bit perturbed. This morning it was in Bible study and we are finishing a study in "Love Walked Among Us". It was the last chapter and the author was quoting Anne Lamott. It's bad enough that the one and a half page quote included 7 paragraphs of how drunk, stoned and hung over she was...followed by a metaphor comparing Jesus to a dog curled up by her bed...but none of that made me cringe like...

"...I took a long deep breath and said out loud, "All right. You can come in."

I don't understand why I get bent about it...maybe because nowhere in scripture have I found anywhere that says...
- ask Jesus into your heart...
- raise your hand and pray after me...
- accept Christ into your life...
- take this pill...
- just repeat after me...

Every single time I read it, it requires declaring the Lordship of Christ. Take up your cross daily and follow ME.

Never, Ok I guess you can come in.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

I Corr 9-12

I know it's a few days late...but here goes...

First of all, this wasn't quite as riveting as I've been accustomed to. Secondly, my study time wasn't near as frequent. Interesting observation in my life walk with Christ is directly proportional to how much focused time I spend in His word...I know, revolutionary stuff.

Ch. 9 - Take care of those who are in full time service...maybe it's just me, but Duh. Interesting that God had me read this as my Budget Finance committee was reviewing church staff salaries and benefits. And, fortunate that no one on our committee thinks Pastors should take a vow of poverty. But it was interesting the dialogue over market forces and demand in ministry circles, how our younger staff is compensated, how much and how fast should we increase 20 somethings, relative to how sought after they are in the Christian marketplace. I'm not sure when Paul was writing this chapter, that he'd have any idea how marketable he'd actually be in our culture. It's almost ironic that he's like...hey, we should be able to stay the night with you guys and expect to be fed...and he'd have a $10 MM book deal and a $200K salary from some megachurch today. Just funny.

Ch. 10 - Paul's cultural issue of the day appeared to be idols, Diana in Ephesus, and Corinth had theirs too. And he's telling them that no tempation is too strong. But then he shifts gears and gets into a great discussion on how and when to create personal boundaries and mentions the weaker vessel and causing your brother to stumble. To me, this passage late in Chapter 10, although abused in the past, now seems to be cast asside under the guise of grace. To me, this scripture is a call to selflessness...thinking about the other person first and their state of mind and feelings, before your own rights. The church today appears to have this all wrong. We're going through a battle at our Christian School right now, where teachers and administrators used to sign a "no drinking document"...this has now been eliminated by the "grace-crowd" and I'm not sure it flushes out with this scripture...particularly if we look at high school students as "the weaker vessel".

Ch. 11 - Husbands and wives...and the Lord's Supper. Seems to me the first half, husbands and wives is taught a ton in Sunday School...and we do the Lord's Supper, well, religiously, so we see this all the time...not much to add here...accept, I'd really like to have the Lord's Supper like they did...instead of grape juice and crackers...go to a covered dish kind of thing at someones house.

Ch. 12 - Spiritual Gifts. We've been studying spriritual gifts in big church for 12 weeks, so maybe this is why I wasn't drawn back to this each day. My big take away here is...lot's of people serve, and that's a good thing...but not near enough people serve. I'm blown away how many people come to church to be fed only and have no intent of ever feeding. If you spend, I don't know, 2-3 years under God's could you possibly be an eater only. I don't know.

Well, my commitment to you is...I'll do better in May. April was pretty lousy due to my lethargy. Hopefully I can eat healthier too.