Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Re: Fasting

There have been key moments in my life where I fasted and prayed that the Lord would direct me, my thoughts and those involved with the circumstance. Tracy and I fasted for 5 days before we were married. We fasted again for a few days when an opportunity for a job change came up just a year into our marriage. We fasted one more time when we were praying about moving to our current situation at Macedonia Baptist in Duncan, NC.

Is fasting only supposed to be for major events, though? Does it have to be a day, week, what?

Fasting, like exercise, is something that is hard to commit to but always ends with good results. Every time I have fasted, I have found myself at the feet of Jesus and in a place where my thoughts are becoming like his.

So, why do I avoid it like the plague sometime?

Unconfessed sin, laziness, satisfaction with mediocrity, who knows.

I know this, my greatest desire is to Love God with all my heart, soul and mind. And, when I fast, I am getting a glimpse of what that really means.

I'm done.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Re: Love

When the Pharisees asked Jesus which one of the commandments was the greatest, what did he say?
His answer gives us a peak into what should be the foremost characteristic for those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ.
Simply put, Jesus spoke: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind....Love your neighbor as yourself!

As I have thought about this idea of love in the context of the church, many different ideas have come to mind. We are to love the unloved, the poor, widows, orphans, kids from bad homes, families who are falling apart. Yes, this all is true, Jesus' love in action. Good stuff.

But, as I consider the idea of church, I have begun to think of a different sort of love that we (as pastors, leaders, etc.) could display to those who are in the flock. I must first ask the question, though, what qualifies a person to be called a committed believer? Is it church attendance? Is it involvement in everything? Is it busyness?

I think that, many times, those who are considered to be the strongest believers are simply the ones who are at the building the most. I am not saying this is totally incorrect. But, as I have begun to develop the idea of a simple church (that's the title of a book I read, it's awesome, read it), I have begun to realize the necessity of doing less for more (that line is stolen from Andy Stanley).

A successful Christian or a successful church is not simply marked by the busyness of their calendar, but by the actual impact they are making for the kingdom of God. My next thought is, at this point, banter. I have not studied it nor do I feel as if it is the perfect answer. It's simply in the philosophical realm for now. Here goes. What if the church put together its calendar in a way that increased the impact of the body instead of simply increasing the busyness? Do we really have to have Bible studies when we already have Sunday School, morning and evening worship services and mid-week gatherings? Do we really need to have 7 different Christmas parties for all the different ministry groups in the church?

My biggest concern is this: We fill all of our heads with knowledge. We know HOW to be men of God, we know HOW to love our wives, we know HOW to act like Jesus, but it never turns into action. All this knowledge is worthless unless it is played out in our lives through our actions, aka OBEDIENCE!!

I just read an article by a writer named Kim Heffner (no relation to Hugh). In her article, she asks this question:
“Are you fulfilling your purpose to love those around you like Jesus does?”

That, my friend, is the right question! Our calendars will always be busy enough. There will always be enough to do. The question is, do we love like Jesus does?

I'm done.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Re: Excellence Part 2

I was recently reminded of a quote from my first pastor as a child, Dr. Jack Hudson. He said this, "There's first class and there's no class". Dr. Hudson has been with the Lord for 18 years now, but I still remember how he always put an emphasis on doing things right. Dr. Hudson did not solely focus on excellence for excellence sake. He was also known for this saying (I hope I get it right): "If you and your folk love me and my folk like me and my folk love you and your folk, no one will love folk like you and your folk love me and my folk". Dr. Hudson was the last of the Charlotteans who was still a good ole country boy. In this quote, he was simply stating that if we love each other in the body of Christ, we will reflect the love of Christ to those around us. And, our love for Christ and each other will be hard to ignore.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I am coming to understand that excellence and love are two elements of the church that are almost synonymous. As I said earlier, when we gather as the body of Christ, we have the opportunity to share the Word of God, possibly to some who may be far from God and have no relationship with Jesus. If we love them and care for those people, we will do everything within our power to place them in an environment that is conducive for worship. We will also do everything within our power to bring the absolute best that we have in music, preaching, sound, video, announcements, EVERYTHING! We should never take lightly the opportunity that we have to share the gospel for the first time with someone.

It is also important to realize that when distractions exist, we are allowing ourselves to get in the way of the work of the Holy Spirit. I was in chapel at seminary yesterday and I experienced this first hand. The speaker was wearing one of those headset mics and, as he began to speak, the mic began to crackle and pop. Finally, after 10 minutes, the doofus at the sound board figured it out and shut that mic off and turned on the podium mic. Well, the speaker was clueless about all this (and possibly deaf, too) and continued to walk around the stage despite the fact that the podium mic was the only one picking up his voice. There we were, 1500 students or so, straining to hear what he was saying. I left that chapel frustrated, annoyed and without a clue of what the speaker had brought before us that day. That was NOT EXCELLENT!

Hear this, as well. I quote a good friend, Brady: "The kingdom of God will not be singlehandedly thwarted by my incompetence". I do not think that a simple sound issue will prevent the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe that God works when He wants, despite us. But, He does want us to bring our best.

Simply put, I'm of the opinion that when we do something, we are a reflection of Christ and a reflection of Christians. If we don't take our gatherings seriously, then those far from God may get the idea that we don't take our faith seriously. Lord, may that never be said of me.

I'm done.