Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Learning to Hear Him

    Despite the best efforts of Dominion Power , the church building is still without electricity at the time of this writing.   I am convinced we will be back in gear on Sunday 4 September, and will meet 7 September at 7 p.m., room 204.  You might take this as an opportunity to visit the Sermon Web Page and drink in a few of the messages you may have missed in months/years past.

   Next week, Lord willing, we will continue "Sow What", as we go through a message series about learning to consistently hear from God.

   Our prayers are always with you, as you continue your trek up the Lord's mountain.

><> Dan & Nancy

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why Charity?

  Unavoidably, this week's blog entry is shortened, and the Sow What? class for 24 August is cancelled.  Please don't miss the message Caring for the Poor and Oppressed .  Thx. 
<>< db 


  The giving of the scriptures are actually doing good that qualifies in spirit and in purpose.  That is, acts of service and charity.  Works must be done out of a love of giving, if we are to understand Mathew 6 correctly, from the soil out of which all benevolence springs.  Love for God and love for our fellow man are inseparably one.  So giving, rooted in love, fosters a unity in Christ, the center of all real works.  Those who serve and those served draw spiritual sustenance at the same time.   This is our most powerful evangelism, as in doing the works Christ has directed us to do, in the way we have been directed to do them – filled with His love and cheer (joy) in working alongside Him; WE DRAW GOD NEAR to the object of His charity.  Our faith then becomes something others can experience; they can taste and see that the Lord is good when our faith conquers our hearts and springs forth in true works of cheerful service and charity.  We are blessed powerfully in obedience and in proximity to Love Himself.  The lesson from Love Himself in giving may be witnessed in the act of the divine incarnation.  Divine love revealed itself in accepting an earthly form.  At that moment of disclosure, our Lord worked out His deepest reverence and understanding of you and me. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Simple is Smart

    In my grandfather's day the word "simple" could mean three things. Specifically, it meant either uncomplicated, direct (as in the term 'simple interest'), or unintelligent (hence "simpleton").  As Christians, we do well to hold to all three kinds of Simplicity.

Please take the time to listen to the sermon by clicking the link above if you haven't heard it.  Thanks. The sermon is what the Lord had for all of us to hear this week.

    In the first sense - the uncomplicated one - principles and teachings that aren't easy to apply typically don't work under pressure.  This is for several reasons, not the least of which is something I'll call "the Black Belt Syndrome".   A Black Belt has an arsenal of techniques at his/her disposal, from the mundane to the pyrotechnic.  When it comes to choosing what to do in a real flight or fight situation, however, your just not going to see the black belt doing the triple-flipping inverted crane kick.  He will instead do an exceptional job of ruining your whole day from a core of 30-50 basic skills. Why is that?

* That crazy kick is among the least practiced techniques in his arsenal - he's been practicing the basics since the very beginning of his training. 

* These are the battle-tested weapons; how many street fights actually call for the more esoteric moves? They aren't as universally applicable as block, parry, punch, kick, repeat as necessary.

* When your heart has gone from it's normal 70-90 beats per minute to 140-plus beats per minute, our fine-motor skills degrade significantly.  The less refined, more hardwired defense is still available to us.

  Christianity is the same, I think.  The study of the deeper matters of theology has it's necessary place; rightly approached we may reverently commune with the heart and mind of our Lord. But if the Full Armor of God wasn't all we needed in a fight, He would of called it something else.  The basics here -- faith, prayer, worship, studying and wielding His word -- practiced until it is our very marrow - - will win the day in all battles, spiritual or otherwise. Simple is applicable. Simple will save us when our hearts race out of control.

   The next sense of Simplicity is the direct.  To the world, the straightforward life is almost beyond imagination.  The bookshelves that serves as the backdrop for the blog this week are a reminder that the map is not the territory.  The Lord and His Word are the territory.  Everything else is a true or a false map, by the degree it is in agreement with God.  Seminars, books, retreats - what have you - can all be great, so long as they don't water down our depth and time in direct relationship.
    Our witness is formidable when we say what we mean, mean what we say, and live by the same precepts we are sharing.  A simple man or woman in this sense is both integrated (all areas of life submitted and heading higher up the mountain of God) and reliable.  The elements of the world and the flesh that destabilize us are lovingly (though not always gently) stripped from us, by an incessant, Holy, and all-wise Lord (Phil 1:6).   In the main, authentic believers may rely upon each other as few others can.

   Finally, this shade of simplicity speaks to a one-to-one relationship with our Father.  No rituals, no machinations in an effort to get God to perform.  It's finished; we just get the joy of walking out the prelude to the victory celebration by His side.  No philosophy or deified super-human need offer to lend a hand.  Christ Jesus is our Way, our Truth, our Life. Simple is Direct, and uncluttered.

   The third and final sense, where someone simple equals someone stupid, not only flies in the face of everything above, but forgets itself relative to our Omniscient God.  A great place to regain that perspective is Job 38 - 39.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the Proverbs tell us, and none of us created folks has ever impressed God with our knowledge and know-how.  The simple = stupid equation also forgets scripture; in 1 Corinthian 1:27 we are reminded that Christians, however simple, are that which confounds even the wise.

 Simple is smart.  Very smart.


    For the second week in a row, this week due to an awesome church dinner and birthday celebration for Pastor Shawn, "Sow What?"  did not meet.  We will work on the BLUF for the past two weeks when we next meet.

><> Dan & Nancy 



Friday, August 5, 2011

Am I Submitted?

    The short answer, for me at least, is "no; not particularly".

    I would desperately like to tell you that I am a surrendered man.  I was once, thoroughly surrendered and for a lengthy season at that.  But not as I write this to you.  Lord, help me.

   You see, I want it all.  Don't get me wrong; I don't have overwhelming appetites for the forbidden fruit of the world.  I simply want every good and desirable thing we Christians are afforded in scripture.  It's not that it's wrong to want them, its that currently I place having them above Submission (click for this week's sermon by the same name) to the mission before me. I am too often like Jonah..

1 The word of the LORD (the tetragrammaton; "YHWH" - God the Father) came to Jonah(means "Dove" - symbol of God the Holy Spirit) the son of Amittai (means "Truth" - Jesus Christ) < so a few words in I am already leaning a bit forward in my chair- the entire Trinity is here, thinly veiled > saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish (means "delightful") from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa (means "beautiful"), found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

    So, all three persons of the Almighty God of the Universe entrusted him with a mission. It was unpleasant, so instead he went out of his way, even paying to try go someplace delightful and beautiful in earthly terms.

   Yep; sounds like me. Today.

    How about you?  A few weeks ago a brother here at Cornerstone and I were texting, and he was remarking, ironically enough, upon my steady faith.  I replied " Galatians 2:20 - dead men don't flinch" .  It was an encouragement to him, but the problem is I am only selectively dead.  Usually in the areas where I have been broken, HARD.  There must be an easier way to get to dead - to embracing whatever mission from God with abandon - than first being reduced to whale chum.

    This is what Walking with Jesus is all about.  It's an ongoing love relationship that sticks together, thick or thin. Or, sometimes, through Hell and high water.

BLUF:   This will be posted next week, as class was cancelled and we didn't have the opportunity to study this sermon together.  ><> db