Love God With Your Mind (+ Signs & Wonders)

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(Monroe)

I like this quote from John Rankin on loving God with not only our hearts and souls but also our minds.

“Apart from Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man, the three most powerful men in the Bible are Moses, Daniel, and Paul. In each case they a) knew the Hebrew Scriptures inside out, b) they knew the pagan political cultures in which they lived inside out, c) they knew the pagan religions in those cultures inside out, and d) they were folowed by signs and wonders. These were robust men, compromising nothing in the pursuit of wisdom and character, loving the Lord their God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. And Jesus their Messiah fulfilled and transcended all they pursued.” (In A Faith and Culture Devotional, 47)

The Hardness & Ease of Following Jesus

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, writes:

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(Monroe)

“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. In fact, I will give you Myself – my own will shall become yours.’

10 Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Temptation

This past Sunday I referred to one of the greatest sermons, personally, that I have experienced. It was at the first PromiseKeepers event I went to, which was in Indianapolis. The speaker was John Maxwell. He was preaching on “10 Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Temptation.” After Maxwell gave #1 the place was electric. I felt, at that moment, that 20,000 men in that place were ready to walk in total sexual purity.

*****

John Maxwell’s 10 Guidelines (For Men) For Dealing With Sexual Temptation

  1. RUN!
    1. “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
    2. “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
  2. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY
    1. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
    2. Every time we choose righteousness, we not only become closer to God, but stronger in our ability to resist temptation.
  3. BE ACCOUNTABLE – John Maxwell’s list of accountability questions:
    1. Are you spending time alone with God?
    2. Are you in studying the Bible?
    3. Are you praying?
    4. Is your thought life pure?
    5. Have you seen something you shouldn’t see (movies, magazines, Internet)?
    6. Are you misusing your power on the job? At home?
    7. Are you walking in total obedience to God? (Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.)
    8. Have you lied about any of the previous questions?
  4. LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE
  5. BE ON GUARD
    1. Seldom travel alone.
    2. When you have to travel, call your wife every night.
    3. Talk positively about your wife to others.
    4. Choose friends wisely. “Bad company corrupts good character.” ( Corinthians 15:33)
  6. DETERMINE TO LIVE A PURE LIFE TODAY
    1. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
    2. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
  7. REALIZE THAT SEXUAL SIN ASSAULTS THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST IN YOUR LIFE
    1. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” (1 Corinthians 6:15)
  8. RECOGNIZE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SEXUAL SIN
    1. “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.” (Proverbs 6:32)
    2. “For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.” (Proverbs 6:26)
  9. THINK OF YOUR CHILDREN
  10. GET A NEW DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
    1. John Maxwell’s definition: Success is having those who are the closest to me love and respect me the most.

John & Kate – Please Call

For the last two years Linda and I have enjoyed watching “John & Kate + 8.” Last summer I bought their book for Linda to read – Multiple Bles8ings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets. About the book: “Kate admits, “I was a bit of a control freak,” yet also quickly draws on and receives the “peace of God… like a security blanket” through her months in the hospital, Jon’s job loss and the impending arrivals… The Gosselins’ life is a whirlwind, with their book reflecting the fast-paced, faith-filled approach they take to raising their twins and their miracle sextuplets… In addition to their uphill medical battle, the family suffered many emotional setbacks such as the loss of Jon’s job, forcing the pair to look to God as their sole provider and sustainer of life.”
It was the God-thing that kept my interest. And I started to love these children.
Now John & Kate are “separating.” If you didn’t know this you’ve never looked at a magazine rack. For all the world to see. When their kids get older they’ll be able to watch repeats of their mom and dad sharing their marital struggles before the entire world. All their friends will see their family implode. I can’t imagine being one of these kids and watching mom and dad complain about the paparazzzi while their foundation crumbled, and telling the world their kids are what’s most important. Soon there will be 8 more people in the world to counsel…

John & Kate say: “Our kids are what matters.” “Our kids are the most important thing to us.” “John won’t talk to me.” (Kate is a control freak; John is passive-aggressive.) “We’ve been spending quality time alone with the kids.” “I don’t hate Kate…, but…” “I have to do what’s best for me and my kids” (says John). “This is the hardest episode ever.” “I was too passive – I just let her rule the roost.” “I will do anything for my kids.”

Right. I feel angry.

John & Kate – get off TV and save your marriage. For your kids’ sake. They need you both. For the sake of God. Time to look to God (not the media, which you’ve chosen to embrace) as the sole provider of your lives. God can help you now. Your marriage can be saved. Contact me. I’ll show you how.

Striving for Perfection

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(Downtown Monroe)

The composer Giuseppe Verdi (1812-1901), at age 18, wrote: “All my life as a musician, I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely had an obligation to make one more try.” At 18 Verdi was already an accomplished musician.

Peter Drucker writes that Verdi’s words became his “lodestar” in life. Drucker says” “I resolved that if I ever reached an advanced age, I would not give up, but would keep on. In the meantime, I would strive for perfection even though, as I well knew, it would surely always elude me.” (The Daily Drucker, 190)

Paul, in Philippians 3:12, writes: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Paul here presents himself as a runner, straining towards the finish line. Gordon Fee says “Paul’s point is not winning as such; rather, his focus is on the runner, who runs so as to win.” (Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, 347) “Christ is both the means and end of God’s call; and “knowing him” is finally and fully the “prize” toward which Paul stretches every nerve. (Ib., 350)

This is not about “perfectionism.” It is, for me, about a goal, a prize in life to be attained, which is Christ. Thinking of Verdi’s words, even though I fall short, I owe it God and others to give it one more try. Paul’s words, and Verdi’s and Drucker’s, are about escaping the illusion that the mountain of excellence in life has already been summitted.

Today is a new day. A day of pressing on and embracing the Perfect One, Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Mayflies

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It’s the season of the mayfly in Monroe. Mayflies live near water – they are aquatic insects. Monroe is on Lake Erie.
My son Josh plays in a slow-pitch softball league at Munson Park. This week’s game ended at almost 10 PM. The lights were shining on the ball field. Aquatic mayflies love lights. I was sitting in the bleachers under the lights. Mayflies were landing on me. I did not enjoy this.
The lifespan of a mayfly varies from 30 minutes to one day. People who hate mayflies can take some comfort from this, knowing that the mayfly that now irritates them will soon be lying in a coffin, mourned by its one billion dying siblings.
If, during the Great Mayfly Hatch, you drive at night in downtown Monroe or, worse yet, in Luna Pier, the mayflies are as thick as snow. People literally shovel them off the sidewalks. Some years ago, feeling bored one summer night, I asked Linda, “Want to go downtown and watch the mayflies?” She said, “No.”
If you were a bug and had 30 minutes to live what would you do? Mayflies flock to gas station windows and stare inside. That’s their life. Some escape from the outside to inside the gas station, where they get up close and personal with the lights. For these mayflies, this defines “freedom.” Others prefer watching videos as they cling to Blockbuster’s windows. This is their life. Their entire life.
Some people’s lives are, by their own choosing, the social equivalent of an insect’s. Brief. Asocial. Irrelevant. God, on the other hand, has another idea about you. Jeremiah29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” You were created by God, in the image of God, for a reason. Life is short. Find God. Live for Him.

Worship the Giver, Not the Gifts

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I’m reflecting on the weekend we had with Shampa Rice of Iris Ministries. Shampa was with us Saturday evening, June 13, and then Sunday morning and evening, June 14.

On Saturday evening Shampa began by telling a miraculous story involving herself and her suitcase that had been lost upon her arrival in the U.S. The missing suitcase appeared after she asked God for help. It was quite a story that amazed the airline attendants. Shampa asked God who and what this story was for. Was it for herself? For the others who saw the thing happen? God clarified this, telling her He was giving her a word for the Church in America. That word was: do not be so enamored by the gifts and the miracles, signs, and wonders, so that you forget God, who is the Giver.

When I heard this I said “Yes!  Shampa has it right!” We have so many Christians in America that are chasing after miracles, signs, and wonders instead of chasing after God first. Shampa took us back to basics when she said: “It’s all about the Great Commandment.” Which is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And the second commandment is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Do these things, Shampa told us, and miracles, signs, and wonders will follow after you. She did not present this to us as a formula. Actually, Shampa said that even if we do not experience a lot of the miraculous we still are to walk in the love of God.

On Sunday morning Shampa continued this theme, which is: Love God first. Chase after God. Receive God’s love. “Love is the greatest” (1 Corinthians 13). Shampa told us a story about a gong in a symphony concert that, during a three-hour concert, was only struck once. She wondered what was the purpose of this huge gong if it were only to be used once? She asked someone about this, who told her, “Shampa, this gong makes so much noise that it would overwhelm the orchestra if it were struck continuously.” The point being: if we do not major on the love of God, we’re nothing, as worthwhile as a clanging, noisy gong.

 

God has given Shampa Rice and Heidi & Rolland Baker miraculous experiences, yes. But the center of their ministry is: love. The love of God. God is love. Love people. Love your enemies. There’s great power in the love of God. God’s love eventually conquers all hatred. God so loved the world. Love is the greatest.

My Morning Routine to Bring Focus to My Day: 4 Daily Readings

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(The View From My Backyard Deck)
I’m starting each day using four books that have daily readings through the year. They are:

Through the Year With Thomas Merton. I got this book on August 28, 1990. It’s lost its back cover. Merton always brings me to the heart of life in Christ. I read Merton and I am in the woods, contemplating God’s creation; I am in the presence of God being sought-out by God’s Spirit. There is a distinct “feel” in reading Merton, who sought after God in the quiet place, the inner temple of God that lies within. Here’s Merton from today’s June 16 reading: “God utters me like a word containing a partial thought of himself.” (New Seeds of Contemplation – get this book and read it, slowly…)

A Year With C.S. Lewis. I would liike very much to spend a year with C.S. Lewis. In reading some Lewis every day I am taken back to 1970 and my beginning with Christ. Someone told me to read Mere Christianity, which I did. Because of what Lewis and Francis Schaeffer sparked inside of me I changed my undergraduate major from Music Theory to Philosophy. Lewis, to me, makes sense of ths change. He was creative, and philosophical. I love that combination! Lewis is logical, and mystical. Here’s Lewis from today’s reading: “[Miracles] come on great occasions: they are found at the great ganglions of history – not of political or social history, but of that spiritual history which cannot be fully known by men.” (Miracles)

A Faith and Culture Devotional: Daily Readings in Art, Science, and Life, by Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arrington. I just got this “daily reading” book a few weeks ago and am enjoying it. Many writers have contributed to it, to include Francis Collins, Michael Behe, William Lane Craig, Dallas Willard, Hugh Ross, John Stott, Francis Schaeffer, Erwin McManus, and so on and on… Today’s reading is “A Conversation With Muslims,” by Erwin McManus. McManus writes: “There’s only one reason for God to come [to us] himself, because in issues of love, you just can’t have someone else stand in for you. When it comes to love, it has to be face-to-face. Love cannot exist where there is only distance. Love can survive distance, but only by the strength of what comes through intimacy. Like Solomon’s lover, God is going up and down the streets of the city, traveling the most obscure paths and untamed wilderness, searching for the one he loves – and that one is you and it’s me.”

The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done, by Peter Drucker. Drucker (1909 – 2005) is generally considered to be the top management thinker of modern times. Years ago I read his The Effective Executive, and was moved by it. I later found out that Drucker was a follower of Jesus, and was a personal mentor to Rick Warren. The combination of leadership brilliance and spiritual insight permeates Drucker’s writings. His practical wisdom serves daily as a guide for me. Here’s some Drucker from today’s daily reading: “The person who invests in what already exists is, in effect, trying to minimize risk.” That’s quite a sentence! John Wimber defined “faith” lke this: “Faith = RISK.”

After these 4 readings I’ll turn to the Scriptures I preach on this coming Sunday.

It’s a good start to my day. I’m reading and typing on my backyard deck that overlooks pine trees and oak trees and maple trees. There’s a lot of birds at my multiple feeders. A number of squirrels are hanging around, plus a few rabbits. One of these squirrels is getting braver and approaching me as he/she gets to feel safe with me. I’m trying to get it to eat bread out of my hand. Soon, perhaps, I’ll be writing out of experience like Francis of Assisi (or at the hospital getting my rabies shot).

Shampa Rice from Iris Ministries in Monroe This Weekend

 

 


 

 


Shampa Rice from Iris Ministries will be with in Monroe at Redeemer Fellowship Church this weekend! Iris Ministries, led by Heidi and Rolland Baker, have a powerful ministry to thousands of people in Mozambique. Shampa leads Iris Ministries in India, reaching out to the poor and the “least of these.”

Shampa speaks all around the world. For example, she ministers a lot with Che Ahn. She and Che will speak at this conference in Australia this coming fall.

Sat, June 13, 7:30 PM

Sunday morning service

Sunday, June 14, 6 PM
5305 Evergreen

734-242-5277
Shampa Rice (born as Shampa Biswas) was raised in Calcutta, India along with five brothers and sisters. Her father was an Assemblies of God pastor, struggling to establish a church on the outskirts of the city. Lack of a proper salary caused the family to be in severe financial distress, and so for the first 17 years of her life, Shampa and her family lived in a tiny, two-room bustee (slum) in central Calcutta, across the street from Mother Teresa.

God has opened a door for Shampa to minister in the difficult, unreached areas of North and Northwest India. Many have come to Christ, many have been healed and delivered, and many house-churches have begun as a result of these meetings. In 2004 Rolland and Heidi Baker asked Shampa to become the director of Iris Ministries in India.

In addition to her ministry in India, Shampa also speaks around the world. She carries a profound ministry of love wherever she goes, demonstrating the heart of the Gospel and the power of love. “I love to cook. I am a woman from the kitchen. God is not looking for someone important; He’s looking for anybody who loves Him because He wants to be found more than we want to find Him.”