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Axioms from life

I heard Bill Hybels during the 2008 Leadership Summit talk about having life axioms. Webster Dictionary states that an axiom is “a statement generally accepted as true or a proposition regarded as a self-evident truth.”

Bill then encouraged us to write up our own axioms. Statements that have helped us gain clarity in a delicate or difficult situation. Meaningful sentences that guide us in leading, counseling or confronting. Most of them are from books that I have read or believe it or not, came from my brain! I will try to acknowledge the source whenever possible.

Allow me to share them with you. I hope to expound on each axiom when time allows.

  1. We have stress because of our blessings [paraphrase from a Max Lucado book which title escapes me]
  2. Right people in the right seats [Jim Collins-Good to Great]
  3. Say no to good things [a counselor that I was meeting with during a difficult time in life]
  4. Who will cry at your funeral? [Pat Morley-Man in the Mirror]
  5. We’re a team!
  6. I am a child of God – my identity is based on what God says about me in His Word and what He did for me in sending His Son to die for me. [Neil Anderson – Steps to Freedom]
  7. I can be considered wise by listening a lot and talking little [Proverbs 17.28 “Even a stubborn fool is thought to be wise if he keeps silent. He is considered intelligent if he keeps his lips sealed.”]
  8. God is still on the throne!
  9. Publicly praise and privately critique
  10. Being critical is just complaining with no solution. Critiquing is affirming the person, giving your input along with solutions and suggestions [loosely paraphrased from Bob Thune, Sr.]
  11. It is spiritual to say no. [same counselor as in #3]
  12. Down hill, no brakes, only steering [Irving Malm]

I’m sure I’ll think of a few more. For now, I’ll take one or two of the axioms and explain the circumstances behind them. Go ahead and think of your own axioms and share them with me.

Blessings!

Religion creates just more religious people

A few weeks ago I came across an article in The Christian Post about Brian Bloye of West Ridge Church in Dallas, TX. Rev. Bloye said recently. “Religion never creates true fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. All it does is create more religious people.

And a lot of times, it creates “ugly religious people,” he said.

In 1987, Bloye made a decision – not a salvation decision because he already had that down – but a decision that involved total commitment and one that not many Christians have made.

“What God really wants from us is total commitment,” he stressed. That means, giving God everything, holding nothing back and not playing the game.

“For someone who’s been a believer for 32 years, I have found that not being totally committed just doesn’t work.”

While the phrase “total commitment” may conjure up an image of a serious Christian who doesn’t have fun and is “robbed” of everything that’s out in the world, Bloye encouraged his congregation to look at it a different way.

Total commitment is the “smartest, most reasonable thing you can do in light of what God has done for us,” he said. Total commitment is “a channel through which God’s best and biggest blessings flow.”

And the motivation is the mercy of God, His grace and love, and gratitude, rather than fear.

“God doesn’t want your church attendance, your money, your Bible time, … your religious list,” he said. “What He wants is you. That’s all God wants from you.”

That is what we here at CCC are asking when we challenge you to be a R.I.S.K.S. disciple. One who is totally sold out and committed to Christ. Not just publicly and on Sundays, but privately and 24-7.

Health isn't contagious

I’ve been reading in the Minor Prophets this past year using the S.O.A.P. study method. S.O.A.P. means Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

A simple yet profound way of going through the Bible on your own letting God speak to you through His Word.

I read in Haggai 2.11-14 this past week.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says; ‘Ask the priests what the law says; If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated? The priests answered, NO. Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” YES, the priest replied, ‘it becomes defiled.’ Then Haggai said, “So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord, ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.”

I couldn’t figure out that passage. I looked in a study Bible and in just a short sentence it made sense. The commentator said, “Sanctification cannot be transferred, but defilement can; just as health is not contagious, but disease can be.

I encourage you to think about that and ask if you are “contagious” or not.

Manly man series

We at Christ Community have started a series: Jesus the Man.

Here at CCC-Sarpy we will end up with a 5 week series because…well, trust me. We have to have an extra Sunday.

Anyway, I preached on Jesus: The Man with a Purpose. I challenged the men to realize that if they lived with purpose, the purpose God intended for them to have….they will impact and influence society. I Corinthians 16:13-14 tells us, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”

This was a challenge from the Apostle Paul to the men, challenging them to step up and act like men! Jesus was THE man, we have an opportunit to live like a man and make a difference.

I came across a quote that caused me to reread because I am in the “manly state of mind.”

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

I encourage you to attend or at least go to www.cccomaha.org to listen to the messages addressed specifically with men in mind.

"Who" do you see?

Hugues de Montalembert lost his sight 30 years ago when he burst in on two theives trashing his apartment. One of them threw paint remover in his face. The next morning, he was totally blind.

Cathleen McGuigan wrote an insightful review of “Invisible” Montalembert’s memoir in a recent Newsweek article.

Cathleen wrote,
“De Montalembert is clear about the good fortune in his life. “The fact that I lost my sight is very spectacular,” he says, “but there are things which are much more terrible.” Hugues wears a cool-looking, custom-made steel mask in the shape of aviator glasses to cover his damaged eyes. In Paris one day, a Cambodian taxi driver extended his sympathy for de Montalembert’s obvious plight. The author thanked him but remarked that there were “peopole much more wounded than me.” The cabbie was silent and then said that his wife and children had been killed before his eyes in Cambodia. “So there he was,” de Montalembert writes, “driving his cab in Paris with this huge wound that nobody could see. ”

Cathleen insightfully closes her article with, “except, of course, for the man who was blind.”

It is my prayer that we\me can slow down, ask questions and listen to others. Maybe then can we/me see those wounded around us.

Ginormas God!

It has been a month since blogging. In the past four weeks I’ve read a book on Apollo 11, tried to help several marriages that are on the brink of divorce, meet with men who are struggling with life, pastor a multi-site, and attempt to have balance and margin in my life and marriage.

Can’t say that I did a good job in any area except I did finish the book on Apollo 11. The other book I’m half way through reading is “God, as He longs for you to see Him” by Chip Ingram

That brings me to what is going on in my brain.

Did you know that there was only three computers on Apollo 11? Each weighed 17.5 pounds and had 36K of memory. We have more memory and computing “power” in our cell phones than what those men used to land on the moon! I’m impressed that NASA even sent men to the moon, and shocked that they did it with such limited computer power!

Thankfully, God is never limited. Chip Ingram states in his book that God is without equal or limitations. He quotes A.W. Tozer from “The Knowledge of the Holy.”

“God’s sovereignty is the attribute by which He rules His entire creation, and to be sovereign God must be all-knowing, all-powerful, and absolutely free. Were there even one datum of knowledge, however small, unknown to God, His rule would break down at that point. To be Lord over all creation, He must possess all knowledge. And were God lacking one infinitesimal modicum of power, that lack would end His reign and undo His kingdom; that one stray atom of power would belong to someone else and God would be limited ruler and hence not sovereign.

Furthermore, His sovereignty requires that He be absolutely free, which means simply that He must be free to do whatever He wills to do anywhere at any time to carry out His eternal purpose in every single detail without interference. Were He less than free, He must be less than sovereign.

Wow, may I be more impressed knowing that God is limitless and sovereign than realizing how limited and puny we were in getting a man on the moon.

Catastrophe vs. Disappointment

This week UNC basketball coach Roy Williams made an short sighted and self-centered analogy.

In a press conference before playing Duke, eventually losing and consequently having a 2-7 record he said this:

Our massage therapist told me, ‘You know, coach, what happened in Haiti is a catasrophe. What you’re having is disappointment. ‘I told her that depends on what chair you’re sitting in. it does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it’s my life.”

I was driving and blurted outloud to the radio, “You’ve got to be kidding!” I couldn’t believe that Roy Williams was equating a poor season to the death of thousands of people!

As I write this blog, Mark 8.35-37 comes to mind. “Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their livs for me and for the Good News will have true life. It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls. They could never pay enough to buy back their souls.”

Roy Williams is wanting to gain the world with fame and sucess. He has is priorities messed up. Life is more important than a basketball game. Life is about saving souls, especially your own.

Death, Dying and Life

This past two weeks I have gotten calls about four deaths. One was about a neighbor’s dad who died of lung cancer, another about a young mother who died of breast cancer, another of an 18 year old whom we have known he and his family for a number of years who died in a car accident, and then of my mother-in-law who died after a 14 year battle with emphysema.

The Bible says that death is an enemy. I agree. Death stinks. It is reality, all of realize that. We know that none of us are immortal.

I have done a number of funerals over my 27 years of ministry. I have noticed over those years that I can usually pick out those who have hope and know of eternal life in heaven from those who don’t. Its the eyes and face. The people who have hope and know of the promise of eternal life are those who believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins AND that He rose from the dead and defeated death.

Just this past week I chatted with an elder from our church. He pointed out two verses that pretty much summarize the Gospel.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” Psalm 116.15

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked but rather that they turn from their ways and live Turn! Turn from your evil ways!” Ezekiel 33.11

Wow, what a concept. God delights when He sees a saint die. Not that He is happy about the grieving, mourning and takes a morbid joy in seeing people die. No, God delights knowing that that person is coming to Heaven and will be spending eternity with Him!

However, God takes no delight or pleasure in seeing a sinner die. He is sad because that person has rejected God and the Gospel and will spend an eternity totally separated from God and live in hell for eternity.

We don’t like death, but know that God is pleased knowing when a believer dies, he/she will be with God forever!

Britt Hume & Tiger Woods

When asked what advice Hume would give to Tiger Woods, Hume suggested that the golfer “consider converting to Christianity.” Brit Hume then commented on Tiger being Buddhist and said “I don’t think that faith [Buddhism] offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.”

As you would imagine, that bold statement got Mr. Hume in a lot of hot water. Many denounced Hume’s words as evidence of chauvinism, bigotry and gross stupidity.

Ross Douthat of the New York Times defended Hume as not being a bigot. He said, “Indeed, his claim about the difference between Buddhism and Christianity was perfectly defensible. Christians believe in a personal God who forgives sins. Buddhists, as a rule, do not.”

Douthat stated in his column,

The differences between religions are worth debating. Theology has conseuences: It shapes lives, families, nations, cultures, wars; it can change people, save them from themselves and sometimes warp or even destroy them. If we tiptoe politely around this reality, then we betray every teacher, uru and philosopher – including Jesus of Nazareth and the Buddha both – who ever sought to resolve the most human of all problems: How then should we live?

Personally, I appreciate Brit Hume unapologetically wading into the reality of seeing how religion can be practically “applied” to real life situations. Ross Douthat and I agree, “the debate he started is worth having, in fact it is the most important one there is.”

Martyrdom Today

Gavin Johnson spoke at the Sarpy campus last Sunday. Based on John 1 Gavin pointed out how God is a Missionary God. He also pointed out that the Christmas Story is actually a missionary story and that Jesus came from Heaven in what can be considered the greatest missionary journey!

Gavin also pointed us to www.thetravelingteam.org to find out more information about missions and the current state of world religion, needs and unreached people.

It was in that website that I came across interesting statistics about the history of martyrdom. Each total includes the cumulative martyrs to date since AD33

AD33 to 500 – 2.1 million
AD501 to 950 – 2.8 million
AD951 to 1350 – 11.8 million
AD1351 to 1500 – 17.3 million
AD1501 o 1750 – 21.9 million
AD1751 to 1815 – 22 million
AD1816 to 1914 – 24 million
AD1915 to 1950 – 56 million
AD1951-2000 – 69 million

From AD 33 to 1914 24 million Christians died for their faith
Since AD1915 an additional 45 million Christians died for their faith in Christ. That means more Christians were martyered in the 1900’s than all the prvious centures combined.

This means that today over 400 Christians will die for their faith in Christ.

Wow.

God, stop me if I complain about ministry pressures and schedules. Give me joy to serve and a heart willing to die for You.