What you see is what you get.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I've come under some criticism as of late.  I shouldn't be surprised.  God just used our church to pull off the largest gathering of people in the history of our county this summer, we have baptized 21 people this year, we just began the first stages of a capital stewardship campaign and I just wrapped up a sermon series that dealt with satan (he never likes to be exposed!).

I have been accused of being shallow, stealing sermons, taking God's Word out of context, not listening to others, not being truthful, taking the Holy Spirit out of the church, wanting nothing but more money, not caring, bringing the world into the church, killing the church, and the list could probably go on.  

Here's my official response; I love Jesus!  And I am passionate about leading others to become passionate followers of Christ as well.  I am accountable to God almighty for my life and leadership with HIS church.  Read Hebrews 13:17.  I will stand before the Creator of this universe and give an account for every thing that I do here at this church.  And honestly, I want to please Him over everyone else.  That's not always popular but it's the truth.

Life is short.  None of us know the hour or the day that we will stand before our maker.  Time is passing and with each passing second there are people dying and entering an eternal hell forever.  We must do something - we must obey God's word - we must follow Him with everything we have - we must share His gift of forgiveness with those around us - we must get past what we don't like about everyone else and get on to loving God and loving others.

I love and believe in His church, I love our community, I love what I see God doing in our midst.  But, my heart breaks over the hard heartedness, complaining, critical attitudes, and lack of unity among God's people.  Read Philippians 2.

As for me, what you see is what you get.  Philippians 3:12-16


A Bottle of Naked

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Today I picked up my second bottle of “Naked!” I know, I know – a pastor buying something called Naked? Joe, what are you thinking?

No, actually I would say what are you thinking! This bottle of “Naked” is strawberry/Banana –C. It’s an all-natural drink made by Naked Juice Company in Glendora, California. I love this stuff – not the price but the fact that it’s “all natural” – no sugars added – just fruit and other natural ingredients. It contains no fluff – no fake stuff – no garbage – just the real thing.

You see, Jesus calls us to be real in our commitment to Him – He is not satisfied with us giving Him 50% or even 90% of ourselves. To ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives means to give Him everything – even to the point of denying ourselves – so that we can follow Him.

Matthew 16:24 (New International Version) 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
When it comes to following Christ – there are no imitations allowed. It’s either all of you – your whole life for Him – or nothing. Let’s be real! The world is full of people who claim to be “Christians” but aren’t living like Jesus. How do you know if someone is real? Just watch them live – do they live out the Great Commandment and strive to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do they live out the Great Commission and truly love others?

The writer of Hebrews tells us that we need to throw off the things that slow us down and the sin that entangles us (Hebrews 12:1) – and we do that by fixing our eyes on Jesus. So, today I’m coming before my Savior and asking Him to reveal those things that don’t need to be in my life – those things that are keeping me from being “real” or keeping me from truly following Him. I want to be His – naked – all natural- 100% His!

Drop your nets!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I was reading today in Mark chapter 1 when Jesus encountered Simon and Andrew by Lake Galilee.  Jesus basically challenges them to follow Him so that He can show them how to catch people.  I love their response!  They didn't ask how long - how far - how much - or anything else.  They simply dropped their nets and followed.  They dropped what was most important to them at the time and they turned their focus to Jesus and put their feet into motion.  

The longer I live the more I'm learning that I have a problem with picking up nets.  It seems like this whole net dropping thing can actually be a daily checkbox on my to do list.  Not that it's a bad thing to put down the nets and follow Jesus - I've never regretted it even one time. It's just that we get so easily distracted by things in life and loose our focus on Christ - things like sports, hobbies, money, relationships, naps, jobs, success, gadgets, being popular, being accepted, being noticed, etc.  These may not be bad in and of themselves but when they keep us from following Jesus- look out.

So, if my goal is to follow my Lord - I need to make sure that my hands are free of the nets and that my feet are following His footprints!  Life is short - and one day we will stand before our maker and answer for the crazy nets we held onto and the adventure we missed out on because our feet were stuck in the sand!