Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Never Let Go... For Eternity.

A few posts ago, I told the story of David Lipscomb, a friend of Ronne's. He was dying of pancreatic cancer. I posted a video of a song that spoke to me about him and the fact that once God has a hold of us, He never let's go.

Well... David is now in his Lord's arms and Jesus will indeed never let him go.

Please be praying for his family and friends as the celebrate his life and grieve together.

A Lesson in Heresy 101

I don't know much about Miguel De La Torre, but this article tells me a couple of things:

1. He gives lip service to Jesus' divinity and humanity in this article, but doesn't really believe Jesus is divine because a divine Jesus is a sinless Jesus and Dr. De La Torre believes He sinned in the passage of scripture he is basing his argument on.

2. I haven't seen such a blatant use of a straw horse argument in a long time.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Control.

I have spent the last few days with an under current of simmering anger. I have learned in the last year or so to keep it under control - anger has always been a huge issue with me for various reasons - but I have literally been set free from that in the last year. Doesn't mean I have been necessarily perfect, but being set free creates peace in your life and I can truly say it has done this for me.

I have also learned to explore the "why" of simmering anger. There is usually something I can learn about myself when I can gather the courage to look into my soul where anger resides. And I usually can, with the revelation of knowledge about the "why", evict it from my soul, replacing it with peace and satisfaction.

What I found during this excursion to my soul was a control issue. I had lost control of a situation - or had perceived I lost control and became angry about it under the surface. I recently assumed a leadership role with an organization - something I always hesitantly do - I don't think of myself a good leader - and quite frankly, this bothers me. It probably bothers me because society (church included) puts great value on leaders. They are enshrined to the pedestal of highest regard. And of course, I, selfishly, want to be on that pedestal. I want to be valued and highly regarded.

In my situation, I had a person come in and take over. He took over not because he wanted the glory or recognition, but because he saw a need I was not fulfilling. And that's true - I am not the best person to fulfill the role he is fulfilling. And, even with all of my negative feelings of anger, I can see that his contribution is going to really help our organization - he is perfect for the role. But that means me giving up control and I don't like that.

I have to tell you that after I went through all the different things that I rejected as the source of my anger - things like my wife being gone all weekend, like my kids not listening to me, like the house being trashed and I have to clean it - things that were only annoying me because I was already angry. When I realized that my anger entered the minute I lost control of the organization, I immediately tried to deny it to myself. But you can only do that so long - and I had to come to the conclusion that I was mad about losing control. I also had to come to the conclusion that it is good for the organization and my own soul that I lost some of the control. Both will benefit.

No one likes to lose control. you know why I know this? Because when someone loses control, they usually "lose it" and will do anything to regain it - and usually to the destruction of those around them. I have seen it played out many times in every kind of venue you and I can think of. It is never a pretty situation.

But, not surprisingly, this is not God's will for us. His will involves things like dying to self, loving others before ourselves, submitting to His will and acting with careful wisdom and discernment in the situations we face in our day-to-day lives. It calls for setting aside anger, malice, pride, arrogance, crass language, insults, greed - the things that do not produce the kind of Christian He wants us to be. They are to be replace by the fruit of the Spirit:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. -Galatians 5:22-25

Everyone who has been a Christian for any amount of time have heard of the fruit of the Spirit. But I need to actually put them into action instead of dismissing them as cliché with a polite nod in agreement of their necessity. That's what I have done - at least in this situation anyways.

I can honestly say that once I realized the predicament I had put myself in with my misplaced anger, I dealt with it in honesty and transparency before God and my own conscience and it evaporated. Now I fully expect it to tweak me now and then - and actually, I will be grateful for the tweaks. I need them. They are God's way of reminding me there is more at work in my life and those lives around me than my own wants and desires.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You Never Let Go

We were singing a song in church tonight that reminded me of Ronne's friend. It's called "You Never Let Go."

Her friend, David Lipscomb, is someone I don't know, but he is suffering and has been on my mind since Ronne posted about him on her facebook. He is suffering through a reoccurrence of pancreatic cancer that has also spread into his liver. The thing is, not only did this song remind me of him, but as I listened to the message tonight about being mad at God, he came back to my mind. I wondered if David was mad at God for not healing him - for allowing this suffering in his life at all. I am sure he has probably asked the big "why" question - we all do. But as I read Ronne's note on facebook about David's situation, something jumped out at me about him. She says he wants more than anything to see Jesus' fame spread because of his story. How incomprehensible to me this is! Of course, the fact that this is incomprehensible to me says a few things about where my faith is at, but that is for another posting.

I don't understand the "why" in situations like this. And to be honest, it breaks my heart and really tests the veracity of my faith when I consider the impact of suffering that happens in this world. Yes, I know that Jesus warned us that we would suffer. But why? I mean really, WHY?

To bring the question a little closer to my own experience: Why does he allow little girls to be violated by their fathers repeatedly? This is a question I have had to consider and answer in my family with, "I don't know." It's a helpless feeling to know that I have a supposedly loving and merciful God, but can't understand nor answer why this loving and merciful God would allow this to happen. I begin to consider that this God whom I love may not be so trustworthy after all. But then I also find myself in Peter's place when the Lord asked him if he too wanted to desert Jesus. He said, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" In other words, who else can we turn to? In reality, we have nowhere else to go. If we do, I haven't found that person.

I wish I could say that when I realize this, I run back into God's arms, but I don't. I kinda just stand there and stare (figuratively speaking of course) into God's eyes, knowing I have nowhere else to go. I do believe He is trustworthy. And that trustworthiness comes from His grace, forgiveness and mercy in my own life throughout the last 12 years or so of being His disciple. And plus, remembering the point of the song: He never lets go. I can't get away from Him and deep down, no matter the doubts, I don't really want to either. So I continue to believe, sometimes grudgingly, but I believe.

David, Ronne's friend, is an example to follow for me. The rubber has hit the road so-to-speak in his life in a hard way. But God seems to be drawing him closer to Him. And he is trusting Him and using his suffering to make Jesus known.

I plan pray for him and help them financially. I pray you would consider praying and helping him and his family as well. Below is the note from Ronne where you will find the rest of his story (as written by Geoff Moore) and ways to encourage and help them.


Friends,

As many of you know, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working alongside David Lipscomb for the past ten years. We have shared many victories and challenges together as we focused our efforts on providing management and mentorship to artists and ministries. David has been has been a dear friend and a great source of encouragement to me. He and his precious wife Robi now allow me to do the same for them.

I reflect back on this time a year ago, when David received the news that he had pancreatic cancer. The journey through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation was a long and difficult one. Throughout this journey, I have had the hard blessing of walking with my dear friend. I have seen first-hand the pain and suffering, but much more than that, the Herculean courage that he has demonstrated. David Lipscomb’s faith is the real deal. In those hard, quiet moments when, to be perfectly honest, doubt has washed over me, he has never, ever wavered. He may say otherwise, but I am an eyewitness.

A few weeks ago, the doctors confirmed David’s cancer had returned, and was present not only in his pancreas, but his liver as well. We would ask you to pray specifically that God would heal David in a way that would let him remain here with us. However, if God chooses a different road for David to walk, we ask that you would pray for peace and courage for the Lipscomb's. David wants most of all for Jesus’ fame to spread from his story.

I think most of us might have a hunch about the cost of fighting a disease like cancer. In fact, some of you have had first-hand experience. While I knew the treatments were expensive, I honestly had no idea just how financially overwhelming the illness could be. Though David has health insurance and has continued to work to provide for his family, living with this illness for over a year has devastated them financially. Co-payments alone for the doctors’ visits, treatments and procedures have run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The cost of medications is staggering. The Lipscomb's made the difficult decision to sell their home, and Robi is now working two different jobs in an effort to make ends meet. Unfortunately, David is now at a point where he will no longer be able to work while he battle's the cancer.

These are wonderful people who have given so much to so many of us. I ask you now to step in and give back. A special website allows you to give a financial gift to the Lipscomb's and share your personal messages of hope and encouragement. And there is good information about pancreatic cancer. It’s my prayer that we can all work together to help eliminate the medical debt they are carrying and provide financial support so that Robi can focus her energies to caring for her husband and best friend.

Most of all, by ministering to them financially, you help bring peace to an area that I know is a very real concern for David - that his family will not be provided for while he wages this personal war.

I would ask you to forward this email and link to anyone you feel would reach out to the Lipscomb family. I know many may receive it multiple times from different sources. I hope you will only see it as a confirmation that people are responding to this need.

Please give whatever you can, as soon as you can.

On behalf of these dear friends, thank you.

Geoff Moore
http://www.carefordavid.com/


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Great Story.

I will let this story speak for itself. It's worth the time to read and watch the video.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Use of Influence

I was thinking... it is popular for Christian leaders and pastors to try to parlay the influence of a person into building the Kingdom. You know... someone has power, influence, money - he/she is looked upon as a source from which the church or maybe a Christian organization can pull something they want or need.

For instance, consider Jason Castro and Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas (which by the way, is my church). We all know Jason from American Idol fame. He has quite a bit of influence - especially since he is from Rowlett (next door to Rockwall where Lakepointe Church is based) and was/is a member of Lakepointe from before his newfound celebrity status.

Here is my hypothesis (since I wasn't involved in the planning of it): This past Christmas, knowing that many non-members and many non-Christians would be darkening the doors, the leadership at Lakepointe invited Jason to perform the opening song at the Christmas eve service. They also did a purposely cheesy kind of skit where the senior pastor and teaching pastor came out on stage with fake dreadlocks on mimicking Jason's. I thought it was kinda funny myself. Now I am not necessarily disagreeing with Jason performing, I see alot of good in his being there. But for my purposes, I want to use it to make my point just the same.

Now I am sure the leaders at Lakepointe used Jason's influence to draw people to the church. They did it in a tasteful way. There were no billboards, newspaper ads, etc. to my knowledge. Just word of mouth. Their intentions were good. People do need to have the opportunity to hear the Word of Christ and the opportunity to submit their lives to Him. That's a good thing. I wholeheartedly endorse their intentions and why they did what they did. They were using Jason's influence. Much like other leaders use influential people for other reasons: money, their standing in government (the Christian conservative right wingers come to mind with that statement), their standing with other influential and wealthy people, they were thinking they could harness all the influence Jason has to bring people to Christ.

But as I was reading through this passage, I wondered why Jesus didn't use the influence this rich young man probably had. After all, he had a lot of money that Jesus could have used to further His Kingdom. This young man probably had a lot of influence with other rich, young men who, in turn, have money and power to use to further the Kingdom. He could have traveled with Jesus, paid the expenses and gathered his rich friends together to help Jesus spread the Word.

But Jesus didn't do that. He told the man to sell everything he owned, and the man was unwilling to do that. The scripture says he went away sad. As a side note, it's interesting that though he really wanted to attain salvation, he still stuck by his money - and he wasn't happy with his money - he was sad. Apparently, misery loves money.

Why didn't Jesus use this man's influence and wealth like so many Christian leaders seem to do?

Looking at this situation from another angle, perhaps Jesus did use this man and his wealth to His purpose. Once the man left, Jesus turned to his disciples and, as if in closing comments to the illustration His followers had just witnessed, said:

"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

He was clearly teaching them a lesson about what's important and what's not. Kingdom stuff is important. Money is not. Don't confuse money, power and wealth with God's Kingdom purposes. He is not dependent on them.

Perhaps the corporate style leaders in today's Churches and Christian organizations could consider this lesson as they seek to bring people to Christ.

Addendum: For everyone coming to this site looking for a video of Jason, here is the video of the performance at Lakepointe.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Godless and Contented

Here is an interesting story about Scandinavians, their Godless culture and their contentedness. The book that is reviewed compares Scandinavia's contented irreligious society and America's religious discontented society.

In my view, Scandinavians are extremely religious. In fact, not only does their society practice this religion, but so does their government. Their religion? Socialism.

That being said, America needs to rediscover Paul's words from Philippians 4:

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."