Friday, June 30, 2006

Ask the Pastor

Why does it seem that in today's world, people have so much trouble telling their loved ones they love them? Or to take the time and tell a friend you care about them. Fear of rejection? Too busy? Life get in the way?


That’s a great question! All of us have someone that we wish we would have told them how much they mean to us or how valuable their friendship was to us. I don’t know the reason we don’t say the words but I know the sorrow that can be felt when they are left unsaid. I can tell you this; you can never say it too much.

The bible tells us in Hebrews 3:13 to, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today.”

There are a ton of reasons why we don’t tell people how we feel about them but none of those excuses hold water once that person is gone from our lives. To me one of the worst feelings we could experience is wondering if a person knew how much they meant to you.

Imagine how Peter felt after he denied Christ three times in the courtyard only to see Jesus crucified the next day. The Gospel of John, chapter 21, tells the story of when Jesus appeared to the disciples, after his resurrection, while they were fishing.

Peter is the first to recognize Jesus and he jumped into the Sea of Tiberias so he could be the first to greet the Risen Lord. Later on that same morning Peter and Jesus had that conversation in which Jesus asked Peter three times if he truly loved him. He gave Peter the perfect opportunity at redemption. There is no doubt that after that morning Jesus knew exactly what Peter’s feelings were towards him.

Life is opportunity! Opportunity to live and love is what we like to say. We have an abundance of time to tell those we are close to how much they mean to us. We should all make sure that we don’t live in a way that disregards the one’s we love. Because you don’t want to carry the burden of wasted opportunity.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

A Step of Faith

There was a Pastor, who after the usual Sunday Evening Hymns, stood up, walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave his sermon for the evening, briefly introduced a guest minister who was in service that evening. In the introduction, the Pastor told the congregation that the guest minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the service. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak.

"A father, His son, and a friend of his were sailing off of the Pacific Coast," He began, "When a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. The aged minister continued with his story, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy he would throw the other end of the lifeline. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son’s friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. "As the father yelled out, ‘I love you son!’ He threw out the lifeline to his son’s friend.

By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of the night. His body was never recovered." By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth. "The father," he continued knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus and could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into eternity without Jesus.

Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save his son’s friend… With that the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. The Pastor again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon… Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man’s side.

"That was a nice story," Politely stated the boys, "But I don’t think it was realistic for a father to give up his son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian." "Well, you’ve got a point there," the old man replied glancing down at the worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, he once again looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn’t realistic, is it? But I’m standing today to tell you that the story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His only son for me. You see… I was the father and your Pastor was my son’s friend."...

I have to be honest I don’t think I am willing to sacrifice any of my children for the hope that someone would come to faith in Jesus Christ. I do share my faith and I defend it without backing down but I just don’t think I could have thrown that safety line to anyone other than my child. That’s just the selfish love of a father but you know God has a selfish love for us as well. He desires to know you and spend eternity with you.

I am amazed at how many people don’t know how to share their faith with other people. I believe that there are people out there who would if they only knew a simple way to do it.

Leave it to those creative evangelism gurus to create such a method. It’s a simple acronym for the word FAITH.

F is for forgiveness.
We cannot have eternal life and heaven without God’s forgiveness. It just can’t happen! Because of the sin that you and I have in our lives we aren’t able to make it. The good news is that God recognized that and offered us redemption.

Ephesians 1:7a7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

A is for available.
Forgiveness is available. What’s available? Forgiveness is! It’s available for all (John 3:16) but it’s not automatic. To me the most tragic, and scary, passage of scripture is Matthew 7:21.

21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

There are going to be a lot of people who thought they could get by with just “playing religion” and find out that is not what God was looking for. A Christian isn’t something that you say or do it’s someone you become.

A relationship is what God desires and will settle for nothing less. Forgiveness is available for anyone who wants it, but you do have to accept it. Just knowing about it won’t work.

I is for impossible.
It is impossible for God to allow sin into heaven. That is why we need forgiveness and why God made it available. God is a loving God but he is also a just God. His judgment is against sin and the bible tells us that we all are guilty of sin (Romans 3:23).

How can a sinful person enter heaven when God allows no sin?

T is for turn.
Turn means repent. If we were driving down the road and you brought to my attention that I had missed the exit we would have to turn around. That is what happens to us spiritually. We turn from something—sin and self. (Luke 13:3b).

Then we turn to Someone by trusting Christ only. Romans 10:9.
9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So, what does a person get if they do that?

H is for heaven.
Heaven is eternal life. God wants you to experience it both here (John 10:10) and Hereafter (John 14:3).

How? How do I become a Christian? It’s a lot easier than you think. Just say a simple prayer like this.

“Lord, I know that I am a sinner and I have done things in my life that are not according to your plan for me. I am genuinely sorry for my sin and I ask you to forgive me and remove it from my life. I recognize Jesus Christ as your son and invite him into my life to be my Lord and Savior. I commit from this day forward to confess Jesus has my Savior and live my life according to his plan for me. Thank you Lord for my salvation and continue to teach me what it means to live as a Christian.”

The next step for you is to find a church in your area that teaches the bible and go get discipled.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ask the Pastor

I am starting a new feature on Abundant Living called Ask the Pastor. It is based on the hunch that there are tons of people out there with tons of questions about life and religion that they would like to ask. Thanks to all of you who have submitted questions. This first one comes from somewhere in the Southwest.

1. The guy has been informed by his wife they are divorcing; she moves out, they separate.
2. The guy then meets someone new.
3. The two hit it off really well and start moving forward with their new relationship.
4. Neither of the spouses has pushed the divorce through.
5. Ages later, the wife finds out about the new girl and decides she no longer wants the divorce.
6. The guy hates being the “bad guy” so doesn’t push the divorce.
7. At the same time the guy is adamant about not loosing the new girl.
8. The new girl is left wondering “what the heck is going on?”

In accordance with “thou shalt not commit adultery” does the new person severe ties and move on? What are the ramifications if one stays in the new relationship?

Here’s the deal. A quick definition of adultery would be any type of sexual relationship outside of the confines of a marriage relationship or any type of romantic relationship with a person other than your spouse after you have been married.

Divorce does not carry a spiritual death penalty. Jesus talks about divorce in Matthew chapter 19 and even gives a biblical reason for it. That reason? Adultery, Matthew 19:9.

Adultery in any form is sin and divorce is the result a husband or wife or both allowing sin in their lives. God intended for all marriages to be permanent and divorce for any reason other than adultery is sin but we are all guilty of some kind of sin, Romans 3:23.

If this man’s wife left him then he should have tried everything in his power to make the marriage work. If there was no hope of reconciliation then the marriage should have ended officially before either of them pursued a new relationship. As long as he is still married his wife is his priority, for better or worse. Any other relationship would be adultery.

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The Legacy of Dad

Did you know that Mother’s Day is the day of the year that the most phone calls are made as opposed to Father’s Day when the most collect phone calls are made. If you forget Father’s Day it really isn’t a big deal but if you forget Mother’s Day then you have better have an excuse along the lines of, “I’m really sorry mom but I was in the hospital on my death bed.”

Mothers and their day are held in higher regard than fathers and in my opinion rightfully so but fathers are important to the complete family unit as well. Every dad leaves behind a legacy on their family, good or bad.

American television and culture has dumbed down the father in our society. He comes across on sitcoms, movies and commercials as the person in the family who is out of touch with reality and incapable of doing anything productive in the family other than earn a paycheck and some struggle even with that.

Statistics are now proving that the removal of the value of the father in the home is contributing to the declining immorality of our nation. The reason why is that fathers are being pushed out the door and children are growing up without understanding the value and the role of a father in the home. In fact 39.6 % of the children in America are going to bed every night without their biological father in the home.

Fathers need to be reinstated to the level of importance that God intended for them! God set up the family unit with a father and a mother each doing their responsibilities in raising their kids in a way that provides the children with the most opportunity to be successful in life.

Colossians 3:18-20
18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

A father must be the head of his family. A wife submitting to her husband is not an act of self-degradation but of obedience to the will of God.

In Ephesians chapter five when Paul tells husbands to love their wives the same way that Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (5:25) we get the biblical picture of marriage.

If a husband loves his wife more than himself and made her the priority of his life then there would be no issue of submission.

This passage in Colossians goes on to fulfill the responsibilities in the family by urging children to obey their parents because it pleases the Lord.

Notice that all three of these hinge on the father. Without the father properly fulfilling his responsibilities in the home the family breaks down.

When a man becomes a father, he isn’t given some sort of rulebook on how to conduct himself. Don’t you wish you had known what you know now about your children when they were born? Fathers do their best to learn “fatherhood” on the job. They learn to express love in various ways but the key word here is learn.

They learn from the examples of own father. Every boy grows up and remembers things their father did and said to them when it comes to their own children. They will apply those things in their relationships with their children good or bad. That is a father’s legacy!

A father has an awesome responsibility to his family and it’s not an easy task. That’s why Father’s Day should be a day of encouragement and appreciation to dads everywhere. A legacy is something that is passed on from generation to generation and is often difficult to get away from. That is why it’s so important that dads take their responsibilities seriously and daily work to become men of integrity and faith.

Think about this for a second dad. If you want your daughter to have a high sense of morality then you had better not be immoral because she will learn her morals from you. If you don’t want your son to be dishonest then you had better be a man of integrity because his perception of truth comes from you.

As you celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday what kind of legacy were you celebrating?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women

If you have been keeping up with the last few post then you know that we have already established that men and women are very different.

Understanding your wife’s differences is one of the keys to a happy and successful marriage. Your differences should be celebrated because that is what brings you together in marriage. You wife wants you to know that she is different and that she is not just, “one of the guys.”

There are some other key things that we as men need to know about women and their differences? I’ve got 3 things I want to briefly touch on.

Men, here is what your wife wishes you knew.

1) Women have a deep need for effective communication. They need to feel listened to.

John Gray says that “As a marriage counselor, the number one complaint he hears from women who come to see him is “My husband does not listen to me.”

Women primarily communicate to build relationships. They talk about feelings and emotions openly and find that talking about problems helps them feel better and helps them work things through. When they share problems, they want a sympathetic ear. They don’t want a solution.

A common mistake that men make is to try to provide a solution to our wife’s problems when she is sharing because for men, communication is very different. For Men, communication is a tool for solving problems. If you have a problem, you solve it yourself if you can, and if you can’t you talk about it to get a solution. If we do talk about other things, it is usually about things and activities. We usually hate talking about feelings and so our relationships are not based on talk, but activities.

Women need to feel as though they have been listened to. That also means giving them our full attention. Listen to what the bible says in the book of James.

James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.”

If we could take this verse and apply it to all of our relationships then we would experience the joy of blessed relationships. When it comes to our wives one of the most precious gifts we can give them is to listen to them because through this, we show them worth and value.

2) Women need to feel special, valued and LOVED.

One of the key differences between men and women is that men get their self esteem from achievements - getting a promotion, finishing a project, driving a nice car.

Women get their self esteem through relationships. Women feel good about themselves if others feel good about them.

Paul taught the early church that husbands are to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Eph 5:25.

Husbands it is your responsibility to make sure that your wife never feels the absence of love. You married her for a reason. You fell in love with her because she was special to you. You purposed to her because there was no other woman in the world that you would rather be with. Do you still feel that way? Do you let her know that?

3) Women need to be seen as equal partners not as slaves

The last key thing that we as men need to know about women is that they are equal partners, not our slaves. For most of human history, women have been oppressed and restricted. Until recently, a woman could be executed in Afghanistan for no more than learning how to read. Unfortunately, the Christian Church has also been guilty of treating women unfairly. In many ways the Christian community simply reflected the prevailing attitude of the entire ancient world.

All of Greco-Roman society looked at women as inferior to men. The philosopher Socrates argued that being born a woman was a punishment because a woman is halfway between a man and an animal. Women weren’t allowed to vote in ancient Greece, they had little choice over who they married, and in Roman society they aren’t allowed to be seen outside the home. Women in Jewish society didn’t fare much better. The Jewish rabbis prayed, "Thank you God for not making a woman." Jewish women were forbidden from learning the Jewish Bible. In fact, one rabbi said, "It would be better to see the...scriptures burnt than to hear its words upon the lips of women".

The attitude that women are inferior to men is a deception of Satan and it prevailed until Jesus Christ came to our world. Jesus both taught and demonstrated an entirely new attitude toward women. Jesus and the apostles taught that men and women were equal but different. Gal 3:28 says that, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."

In God’s eyes, there is no distinction in value between a man and women. It has been said that Eve was made from one of Adam’s ribs - from His side, not from his head to surpass him or his feet to be trampled upon, but from his side. She was taken from the side of man to be his equal, to go beside him, to walk with him, to help him. No where does the Bible uphold that males are in any way superior to females.

God created women to complement men. You see, guys, when we were created, we were good, but we were not complete. We needed a helper, so God created women. –

Gen 2:18 - “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”

In our English Language, the term “helper” often is used of a junior employee or one who is less experienced or capable. But the Hebrew word used here is of a person who works beside, complements, supports and aids. They are not inferior, they are equal. The fact that man needed a helper actually says more about the fact that man is incomplete than it does about women being a helper.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Teaching Your Children to Honor

In Exodus chapter 20 God gives the Israelites the 10 Commandments. Each one of the commandments was to be honored as holy and from the Living God. These are more than just words in a book or decorations in a court of law. The 10 Commandments are guidelines for a successful, happy and satisfied life.

I want to focus today on the 5th command because it is the first of the ten that comes with a promise.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

To honor your mother and father is the command. A long life in the land that God has provided is the promise. That is how important this command is to God. That He would actually be willing to attach a promise to it allowing us to enjoy an even better life if we keep it.

You may look at this and say to yourself that the burden of responsibility for this command is on the children and not the parents but I would encourage you to open your mind and look a little deeper at the Word of God.

Children are taught honor and respect by their parents. You cannot expect your child to honor the position that you have over them as a parent if you first don’t model to them what it is like to honor authority.

Your children’s lives are at stake here by what you teach them. This command is reinforced in the New Testament book of Ephesians but notice the verse that follows the command.

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-3

It is your responsibility as parents to “bring up” your children with proper life instruction. You have to instill in them honor and respect by teaching them as fundamentals of lfe.

Why? Let me give you three powerful arguments for why you should obey this commandment.

The First Reason to Obey the 5th Commandment
More than anything else, your adolescent craves your total trust. It doesn’t come natural for your teen to obey you but if you look at Ephesians 6:1-3 again you will see that the command for children to obey their parents and the command for parents to teach their children are linked.

How can your child ever respect and honor you if you never teach them what it means to respect and honor. Many parents punish their children by removing their trust but they fail to teach them how to do what is expected of them.

Author Fritz Ridenour says, "You might as well trust your teenager; you don’t have any other reasonable choice. Distrust simply breeds more distrust, but if you keep trusting your teenager, sooner or later the message will get through."
The Second Reason to Obey the 5th commandment

The 5th Commandment has a Reciprocal Consequence

This is going to be a hard pill to swallow for some of you. God didn’t say honor your parents if they’re honorable. Nowhere does he say that respect must be earned before you have to give it. God simply calls us to give honor where honor is due and that is too our parents, for better or worse, because they are the ones who gave us life.

This means that, at the very least, you refuse to speak disrespectfully of your parents, no matter what they’ve done.

One of Grimm’s fairy tales tells of an old man who lived with his son, the son’s wife, and the young couple’s four-year-old boy. The old man’s eyes blinked, and his hands shook. When he ate, the silverware rattled against the plate, and he often missed his mouth. Then the food would dribble onto the tablecloth. This upset the young mother, because she didn’t want to have to deal with the extra mess and hassle of taking care of the old man. But he had nowhere else to live. So the young parents decided to move him away from the table, into a corner, where he could sit on a stool and eat from a bowl. And so he did, always looking at the table and wanting to be with his family but having to sit alone in the corner. One day his hands trembled more than usual; he dropped his bowl and, and broke it. “If you are a pig,” they said, “then you must eat out of a trough.” So they made the old man a wooden trough and put his meals in it.

Not long after, the couple came upon their four-year-old son playing with some scraps of wood. His father asked him what he was doing. The little boy looked up, smiled, and said, “I’m making a trough, to feed you and Mamma out of when I get big.” The next day the old man was back at the table eating with the family, from a plate, and no one ever scolded him or mistreated him again.

So you see the enormous implications of honoring your parents. We’re so disconnected from this commandment today that we have to re-learn how to honor our parents.

The Third Reason to Obey the 5th Commandment

Living with honor for others equips you for all of life.

When God first gave this commandment to his people, he told them one of its purposes. “If you want to live a long and good life in the land I’m giving you, honor your parents.” The negative implication is that if they fail to honor their parents, they’ll be expelled from the land.

By learning to respect parental authority, one learns to respect the authority or other superiors, such as teachers, ministers, policemen, and state and federal officials.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger writes writes in her book The 10 Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life; “Parents are teachers of faith and morality. What God is to the world, parents are to their children. Unfortunately, some parents become so focused on the element of friendship or their own convenience, comfort, self-fulfillment, happiness, or love life that they forget their job is to help mold moral character so their children will have the strength to do what is right in a world that sometimes encourages them to do otherwise.”