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Archive for September 2009

Can non-Christians hear from God?

I’ll never forget my neighbor Tim asking me this question through the rolled down window of his black pickup truck in front of my house at 441 Candlewood Ct. He was not a Christian, but God was at work in his life in a big way. We had hundreds of spiritual conversations, and Tim always wanted to know what the Bible said about life-issues like this one. So what is the answer? In short, the answer is “Yes”. He does it in the 21st century, and he did it in the Bible. Here are some examples:

1) The classic example is that of Saul/Paul in Acts 9 (and 26). Paul was an enemy of Christ and even got knocked off of his horse with a voice from heaven.
2) King Nebuchadnezzar heard from God in dramatic ways throughout the book of Daniel, especially chapter 4.
3) King Belteshazzar literally saw the handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5.
4) All twelve of the disciples were non-Christians when they were called by Christ.
5) Every person who hears the good news of Jesus is hearing God’s message (although indirectly) from one of God’s messenger
6) You could easily make an argument that every person hears the call of God before he/she turns to God and comes to faith. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to become a Christian unless God is communicating somehow.

God certainly speaks to those who are listening. Somebody who is not a Christian, but has an open heart toward God has a chance of hearing. It is very possible, very real, and can change your life if you listen!

Hearing from God

Are you trying to make a hard decision? Trying to discern what God might have for you in your life? Trying to live for him, willing to do anything, but wanting to hear from God to know just what to do? Yesterday, I talked about hearing from God. It was a contrast of Saul’s spiritual deafness with David’s keen hearing – primarily from 1 Samuel 23 (who ever studies that?) Saul engaged in a downward spiral of deafness – from anointed man of God, to tone deafness, to hard of hearing to stone-deaf. What was the difference between his life and David’s in terms of their engagement with God? Here is a bullet-point review for those who were there.If you were not there, you may want to catch the full version at http://vimeo.com/6820617.

How to go Spiritually deaf (like Saul)
1) Disobey God – I Sam 13 & 15
2) Cut off Godly influence – 1 Sam 22
3) Don’t even ask God – 1 Sam 23
4) Confuse allies with enemies – 1 Sam 23 and Ephesians 4:30-31
5) Spiritualize Circumstances to your advantage 1 Sam 23
6) Mess with the dark side – 1 Sam 28

How to Hear God (like David)
1) Have a relationship with God – 1 Samuel 16- 2 Samuel (whole book)
2) Cultivate a rich Biblical literacy – Psalm 119, Psalms written by David
3) Seek Godly counsel – 1 Samuel 23: 3 and 16
4) Obey what you know – Bible and Promptings – 1 Samuel 23
5) Practice, Practice, Practice – Throughout 1 and 2 Samuel

A life of hearing from God is way, way better than one where we ask God to justify or bless our plans. He wants us to be integrated with his life and plans for this world. It is not always the safest way. It is never the easiest way. It is a life of risk and danger and adventure. But it is good because God is in control – why not take some time to step away from the computer and listen to him now?

Famous Last Words

No, I’m not preoccupied with death. My last blog was about cheating death with certain lifestyle changes. I then thought I was onto a different topic and thought, until I saw on MSN.com giving you a quiz on last words uttered on the death bed of famous people. That got me thinking about my life and what would I say with my final breath.

Here is what a few famous people said before they died.

  • Humphrey Bogart said “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis” before he died.
  • Marie-Antoinette said “Monsieur, I beg your pardon” before she was executed. She said that to the executioner because she accidentaly stepped on his foot on her way to the guillotine
  • Lady Nancy Astor awoke during her last day to see family standing around her bed. She said “Is it my birthday, or am I dying?”
  • Conrad Hilton [Hilton Hotel] supposedly said when asked if he had a final advice for the world, “Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub.”

Let me add some of my favorite quotes.

From Jesus while on the cross He said “It is finished.” Meaning, my sins have been paid for and taken care of because of Him dying on the cross….AND raising from the grave.

Them my very most favorite is because He rose from the dead and is able to say in the last book of the Bible in Revelation 22.20, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Can’t wait. I hope my last words will be “yahoo” because I am then I’m going to see Jesus.

Apocalypse Is Coming!


Just a brief word here on Apocalypse, a new Gathering series about to launch (Oct 4th). I’d like to start stirring the pot with my readers on this vastly complex topic. There are a couple of strategies we could take in discussing the biblical view the last days.

Possibility One
This strategy I’ll call the Systematic Theology approach. In this scheme, one tries to devise a simple interpretive framework for understanding all the biblical data that has to do with the end times. The approach is a pretty helpful one, but as you can imagine, what starts out as a goal to be simple gets deep pretty fast when we’re talking about all the stuff we see in books like Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation. The goal in systematic theology is to help you plant your flag firmly in one camp or another Pre-Millennial or Amillenial. Pre-Tribulational or Post-Tribulational Second coming of Christ.

Possibility Two
This strategy we’ll call the Biblical Theology approach. Biblical theology sticks as close as possible to the biblical and literary contexts of the relevant passages. Lots of loose ends are left hanging around. Frameworks and timelines are held pretty loosely in the process. Good Systematic Theology is rooted in good Biblical Theological method.

In Gathering, we’ll definitely be starting with Possibility Two! Rather than jumping in the deep end right away, we’ll try to build our understanding of this compelling subject from the ground up. We’ll start week one off with an over-view and some definitions. We’ll make lots and lots of space for questions each week! We’ll also try to keep it real in terms everyday practical interests in the topic. So don’t be surprised if we don’t push one brand of eschatology over another. We’ll all have much more fun exploring the Apocalypse in the end (Ha!).

On our way to the starting line, though, it would be great if you would hit the comment button or e-mail me your questions about the end times. Let’s ramp up the dialog before October 4th!

Can you cheat death?

Recently, I came across an article in Newsweek from this past summer. Normally I read the weekly magazine and then toss (er actually recycle). Sometimes I will tear out a page that caught my eye and I want to reread and think over.

The June 22 issue had an article entitled, “Can you Cheat Death?”

With life expectancy for the average American man 75.2, for a woman, it’s 80.4. There are factors beyond our control that can stretch or shrink one’s probable life span. However, this article pointed out some other factors that are in our control that can lengthen or shorten our life span.

Here are behaviors and the years you will supposedly add:
If you regularly go to church. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1.7 years
If you floss daily . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +2 years
If you eat five servings of veggies/fruit . . . . . . . . +3 years
If you are a married man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +5 years
[on a side note, if you are a married woman it doesn’t add or subtract years]
If you regularly play puzzles like Sudoku . . . . . . .+5 years

Here are behaviors and the years you will supposedly subtract:
If you get less than six to eight hours of sleep . . . .-1 year
If you frequently feel stressed out . . . . . . . . . . . . . -5 years
If you eat red meat more than twice a week . . . . .-5 years

Problem is, I know that I should floss daily, eat more veggies and fruit and play puzzles, but I haven’t since reading this article. Yes, I will go to church regularly and I will be married until whenever I reach my life expectancy.

Remember, there is not only behaviors to extend your physical life but there is also factors that can enhance your spiritual life. Talk to God. Spend time evaluating your life. Remind yourself that you are not eternal but mortal. Acknowledge that you can’t get through life on your own but that you need God’s help.

God said in Jeremiah 29.11, “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.” [CEV]

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Logo-fied



This week, I have been on a listening tour- Six major stops so far. The idea is to simply listen to ideas, concerns, and questions of the congregation and build open doors of communication. So far it has been great. Lots of people love our church! One question has come up twice that has surprised me – and it might be of general interest, so I thought i would do a little blog about it. It relates to the CCC logo.

If you have not been around more than five years, you probably don’t even remember the old Logo. It is a drawing of our most predominant architectural feature of the building at the old mill campus – our triumphant spire with the cross at the top. One person asked “Why did we feel the need to change the old logo?” There are at least four reasons that I can think of.

1) The logo looks dated to a former era, artistically and graphically.
2) The logo had fallen into general disuse.
3) The logo emphasized the idea that the church is a building. Biblically, the church is the people – as well as the movement and impact of those people.
4) The logo features the Old Mill Campus building. Now that we are a multisite church, we needed a logo that could be used anywhere.

The new logo (really about 6 months old now) features the name of our church and the three “C”s in concentric circles. Someone else wondered “What does this logo mean?”

1) The three C’s stand for the three “Cs” of Christ Community Church.
2) The concentric circles simulate a ripple of water representing the flow of impact of one life/one church to broader and broader circles of influence.
3) The circles also remind us of Jesus final command to the church in Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” Those three arenas are the concentric circles of impact that the church is to have – an immediate influence, a strong local influence, and a global influence. The book of Acts follows this pattern (chaper 1-7 in Jerusalem, 8 in Judea and Samaria, 9-28 to the ends of the earth!) Our dream is to have kingdom impact at the local church level, in our city and around the world. (Complicated, I know…but kinda cool I think!)

I am so grateful for the team that created this strong improvement for our church! It is good to be in a church that is full of excellent people of all kinds of gifts, using them for the sake of the kingdom. Yeah!

knee-wreckage

Last night, Kelle, Josiah and I went for a walk. Our District Superintendent (also my boss) Randy Burg, is a neighbor. His house is on a corner lot, making it easy to see in his first-floor sliding-glass back door. It was dark out, and I could see three of the Burgs in the kitchen just waiting for someone to sneak up and scare the B’jeebers out of them!

Josiah and I crept up behind the deck, stole silently across the wood, jumped at just the right moment and AAARGH! The Burgs just about jumped out of their skin…and I was rolling on the deck.

You see, that AAARGH was not just a scream of scariness, it was also a scream of pain as my knee crunched under my 6’3″ frame. I rolled on the ground – laughing at the Burg’s reaction and wallowing in pain.

Randy was quick to point out “Aaah, sin does have it’s consequences!”

If You Don't Get This One…


When your teacher says “Get this part or you’ll be lost in this class for the rest of the semester!” it made you sit up and take notice. This week in the Jesus Class we tripped over one of those passages in our manuscript.

Mark has been writing down everything Jesus is saying. At a feverish pace. Then suddenly the narrative stops and he gives us Jesus’ first recorded sermon. Jesus had been performing miracles, teaching in the synagogues, healing and casting out demons! He was building a monumental following. So what was the first sermon Mark, Jesus’ biographer actually posts for us? The parable of the soils (Mark’s gospel, chapter 4).

This parable, and what Jesus is saying with it is so important that he gives us the impression if you understand it….you’ll understand the rest of what he’s got to say. Note to self: If I don’t get this, I’m a bigger loser than I ever imagined!

This took the Jesus Class to the edge of our seat as we struggled with what Jesus says about the kingdom. The kingdom of God is tied up in a secret. And the secret is being revealed…but only to those who really want to get it. It’s clearly audible to everyone! But not everyone gets it.

So, my question reader, is this: Do you know what the secret of the kingdom is and why a bunch of seeds is a fitting illustration of it? If you don’t understand THIS image of the kingdom, you won’t understand the rest. It’s just that simple!

One Church, One Message, ONE VENUE?

I am getting ready for Sunday. It is going to be a special experience. All of the talents of CCC musicians and vocalists will be combined in a worship BONANZA! We are going to PACK THE HOUSE on Sunday in the Sanctuary. The Access, Traditions, Connections, and Sarpy congregations will squeeze together to create a great worship enviornment. We’ll be like sardines, and we’ll make a joyful noise to God together.

Prepare to meet people you never knew. Prepare to meet God. Prepare to add a new word to your Biblical vocabulary (Ziklag!), Prepare to be comforted and challenged. God loves you…and we’re going to worship him together on Sunday!