Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What does community with believers look like?  How do or should our families live life with other families? We were discussing this topic at our Colonial Woods Community Group last week using Acts 2:42-46 and 4:32-35 as jumping off points.  There are four main purposes that the apostles and the early church had for themselves:  teaching, fellowship, eating & prayer.  And what was the result of all this:  "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (2:46).

A couple of notes that I find interesting:
  • They met daily, not just once a week.
  • To meet with that many people likely meant they would have been outside - thus drawing a lot of attention to themselves and causing an almost infectious presence of the Kingdom.
  • The Lord is the one who was adding people to their number, it wasn't based on the works of the people.
  • They had "Great Power" in their sharing about the resurrection of Jesus and in the provision of their needs.
I'm struck how 'unlike' the American Church is to this model.  While teaching is central to the church - eating, fellowship and even prayer are seemingly given cursory glances.  It's certainly not out of lack of trying!  Pastors today run themselves into the ground trying to make fellowship and prayer a priority of the Church.  The issue is not lack of effort or lack of knowledge, but of vision...

I think we often think, "Hey, I'm a good person: I go to church, give my money, send my kids to children's church, pray as a family a little bit.  What else does God want?"  Well, that particular question would take quite some time to answer - which I may throw some insights towards that in the future - but God asks, demands, and deserves everything.  Check this passage out:
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."
For the folks listening to this passage back then, the cross was a device of torture and death - not one of glory and hope like we think of it today.  Jesus was basically saying, "If you want to be my disciple, you have to deny any rights you have - even your right to life - and do everything I ask." [I love the rest of that passage also, but don't have time to discuss it here.] That doesn't sit to well with my "American Cultur-ed" ears!!  What may God be telling us we need to give up in order to follow Him?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Church, It's Time to Get Radical

I was prompted to read through the book of Malachi this morning - and boy did I ever need it.  This short little minor prophet packs quite the wallop - calling out the people of Israel for their half-hearted, short-sighted, short-handed and lukewarm sacrifices.  Just read these passages:
"When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty. (1:8)
"Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. (1:10)
He even is talking about the priests:
Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. (3:3)
"But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty.  (2:8)
He even takes on the topic of money:
"In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (3:8-10)
I was blown away how I have been bringing incomplete sacrifices to Him!  I have been offering him only partial offerings.  He demands - he deserves - our ALL!  I especially like that last verse: "Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it'."  You see, when we serve God - we are not the ones giving!  We are receiving!!  Here's an illustration:  What if your pastor asked you to serve by coming to wash his car twice a week?  You may say, "Well, OK: you're the pastor."  But then he says, "Oh yeah, I'll pay you $1000 a week to do it!"  Would you do it?  You bet your sweet little hiney you would!!

You see, God is the giver!  We are not the giver!  God gives us blessings and rewards.  I don't know about you, but I want that!!  You can take all of these things I posses and simply give me Jesus - they belong to Him anyway.  Church - it's time to get radical!  Are you willing to give Him everything and see what he will do?

Monday, March 14, 2011

A repost: Because of March Madness

I wrote this blog entry four years ago (wow, I'm getting old), but thought I would repost it because of the start of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  Also, because I am a HUGE Ohio State fan!!

I realize I may be going out on a limb talking about basketball (given that most of you who volunteer in CM are probably don't care much about sports), but this is worth reading. We are coming into Championship weekend of the NCAA Tournament for 2007 and, in case you did not realize it, my Ohio State Buckeyes are still in it. (By the way....where is Michigan this year?) :) The real reason I am posting about this is not necessarily about this:

When UCLA’s legendary basketball coach John Wooden introduced the fast break to college basketball, his team committed the highest number of turnovers and fouls in memory. But Wooden knew “mistakes were part of learning.” He expected them, and he knew that “every opportunity for failure was equally an opportunity for success.” Wooden’s teams went on to perfect the fast-break offense, and today it is used by nearly every team in the nation. His teams went on to win ten national collegiate championships in twelve years, one of the most remarkable team achievements in all of sports history. ( If It Ain’t Broke, Break It! pgs. 193-194.)

There is much that God can do through you as you allow Him to show you what could happen. I am convinced God has great things in store for you and the Children's Ministry of "The Woods" if we will release it to Him. Mistakes may be made along the way, but God will be in control. you have any thoughts or insights. I want you guys to be comfortable commenting on here. Remember you can do it anonymously, so do not fear! 
Go Bux!!!  O-H ...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake: A Review Post

I wrote this post originally back in August, 2007 after the Interstate bridge collapse in Minneapolis, MN.  It may help you process with your teens and children regarding today's events in Japan.

As you may have heard, in Minneapolis yesterday a bridge of Interstate 35W fell killing several people and injuring many others. By now, some of your kids have likely seen images or heard stories from this tragedy and are wondering why this happened. There are some general guidelines that you can follow as Christian parents in helping your kids answer their questions:
1) Don't ignore the questions or feelings they have! Talk about them; better yet, let them talk and you listen.
2) Seek out answers together as a family through prayer and reading God's Word.
3) Use them as a teaching time to instill Godly character and teach them about God Himself.
4) Look for ways to help someone personally affected by the tragedy. In this case, contact the Red Cross and see how to best help.
"Faith is more often caught, not taught."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let the Fire Fall!

In case you haven't heard, Colonial Woods is having an on-going series by Pastor Phil entitled "Let the Fire Fall!"  Our hope and prayer is that revival will take place in the hearts and lives of those who call CWMC their home church.  Please be in prayer as we seek God's heart and will.

Here is a note from Pastor Phil:
"We’ve been on an interesting journey over these past few weeks at C.W.  I believe God is moving, and I believe he is doing a new work.   We never know exactly how much, but just like the Lord is faithful to thaw the winter’s ice and snow to bring in the warmth of spring…there need to be times of thawing for the warmth of God’s Spirit to move."
You can listen to the messages (about 1 week after they are originally preached) by clicking HERE.  
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”    - 1 Kings 18:36-37

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Open Apology

Over the last few weeks the Lord has continued to reveal things in my life that are not honoring or glorifying Him.  Some of these has been family related, but some of this has been ministry related.  I balance many roles in my life: Husband, father, Children's Ministry Pastor, leader, follower, servant, and so on...  There are certain areas that I am better at than others and the Lord is bringing me along in the areas in which I fall short.

This may came as no shock to you, but at times my personality can come on pretty strong.  There are times when I want people to value the same things I value; to believe the same things I believe; to think the same way I think.  Of course, I think we all have similar thoughts within us - namely when it comes to our kids - and we do a lot of things to strive to make that happen.  But....

I owe you an apology!  Because no matter how we qualify our actions, there are times where we have acted unjustly and sinfully.  I'm intentionally leaving this vague as details are not the issue.  The issue is the heart, a love of God's people, and my desire to live out God's Word in Romans 12:18: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."  So, for what it's worth...I have offended some of you - I was wrong - and I am sorry.

His, Dean

PS - Feel free to leave a comment if you've ever been in a position where you needed to apologize.  I'm sure we've all been there.