Crossroads Fellowship

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I stole this from Bob Fetherlin!

I recently read this article written by Bob Fetherlin, the V.P. of International Ministries for the C&MA. A lot of good folks at Crossroads didn't get a chance to read it. And for that very reason a copy and paste of it is my blog entry for this week.

"This movement stands pre-eminently for the supernatural." These are the words of Dr. A.B. Simpson. He believed in the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Simpson was committed to the filling of the Spirit, leading to holy living and passionate love for Christ and his mission. He held that the Spirit's power and presence are manifested both in the believer and in the church.

When under the illumination of the Spirit we apply our minds to the understanding of the Word, discerning from careful study what the original authors were saying then applying it, God is honored. His powerful Word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. But if we're just Word with little emphasis on living the fruit of the Spirit while experiencing the power of the Spirit, we risk drying up.

When our exclusive emphasis is on the Holy Spirit, seeking experiential manifestations evidencing his power, we can become hyper-emotional. It's easy for us to fall in love with sensational experiences, creating the impression we're spiritual fanatics. When we do this, we risk blowing up, even destroying churches.

Modernity has resulted in the questioning, even the doubting, of anything supernatural. Yet emphasis on both Word and Spirit are biblical and a part of our spiritual heritage in the C&MA. So why not live out both with Christ-centered balance, integrating them in a manner leading to growth and missional synergy? Isn't it possible to avoid "charisphobia" (over-emphasis on Word) and "charismania" (over-emphasis on Spirit). . . leading us to Christ-centered lives that could be described as "cautiously charismatic without chaos"?

"If it's just the Word, you dry up. If it's just the Spirit, you blow up. If it's both the Word and the Spirit, you grow up." I gleaned this from REKINDLE THE FLAME, a gathering of Alliance people interested in rediscovering our spiritual roots and heritage.

We'll be stymied on the homefront and in our missions outreach around the world without careful work to understand and apply the Word coupled with the power of the Spirit, the supernatural. Jesus lived these out in an impactful integration. I desire to do likewise, longing for the same for Christ's church everywhere!

Let's not dry up. Let's not blow up. Let's grow up!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I want!

I love Bunn coffee pots. They are some of the greatest, if not the greatest, machines for brewing coffee in the whole entire world as long as we are talking about drip coffee. What makes the Bunn so special of a coffee pot though? The fact of the matter is that I can brew a pot of fresh hot delicious coffee in three minutes using a Bunn-o-matic (Bunn) drip coffee maker. A whole pot in just three minutes. Exactly why do I need a pot in three minutes? Well the answer is simple....I want results (my coffee) and I want them now! I don't want to have to wait for it, I want to put the ingredients together and almost instantly see results. This is kind of a picture of my spiritual life as well. Instant results are what I want, but I have figured out there is no Mature-o-matic Christian maker, good solid spiritual growth is more like an old percolator pot of coffee. It takes a while, but if you do it right it makes the best tasting coffee. However if you do it wrong the coffee is ruined, and you waited for nothing.

Larry, my good friend, preached this Sunday night on being patient and persevering through trials. His text was the beginning of James, just the first few verses, as he began preaching expositorily through the whole book on Sunday nights. He reminded us that like an old percolator pot God slow brews us as Christians through trials and testings over time. If we fail to go through the trials we fail to grow, or become that good pot of strong coffee. He also reminded us that if we don't go through the trial right trusting in the Lord that the pot of coffee comes out on the other side messed up, kind of like if I put too little or too much coffee in the basket, or if I don't put the filter in right, or if I start with hot water already to speed the process up. I am very capable of messing up what God is trying to do in my life because I want the instant results of the Christian-o-matic instead of God's proven growth process of being slow brewed.

Maturity in the Lord and real Christian growth only comes as we walk with the Lord over time, it is a long process filled with trials, tribulation, persecution, and even death for some. Yet in the end I will be stronger if I walk his way, and in the process I will have a sweet smelling aroma of obedience, love, and virtue wafting off of me as I follow Christ. It is kind of like that old percolator pot, you can smell the brew, and it smells so good, before it is actually ready. It makes you look forward to the time when it is done, kind of like we look forward to, and long for the time when Christ completes his work in us and calls us home to be with him. So while it is wonderful to speed brew a pot of coffee for friends and family to drink, let's not rush our growth in Christ by trying to avoid trials, but rather like James says (James 1:1-4) let us consider it pure joy as we go through trials of many kinds so that by our faith being tested we can have perseverance and ultimately perfection in Christ as we become all the more mature.

On a side note God has actually used coffee brewing as an illustration in the Bible as well. Some of you know what I mean, others are scratching your heads, but it is true. Don't believe me then why is another name for the Jewish people Hebrews? (get it?)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What if I stumble and fall?

I can't believe that I did it. I went to pick up my "friend" Joe that I work with and take him to youth group at our youth leaders house and messed up. I have really struggled with drugs in the past, especially heroine, but pot was not my thing. However, when Joe pulled out the joint I got stoned with him. I didn't get nearly as stoned as he did, but I just didn't know how to get out of smoking with him. I have really been beating myself up about it, but my friend Stacy told me that I needed to let it go. It was in the past and if I would ask for forgiveness Jesus would forgive and I could go on. Yet I really felt bad until the sermon this morning at church, and it was like you were talking right to me.

This is the story as it was told to me on Sunday from a good friend after church. (Names were changed to protect identities.) We talked about our old sin life not counting anymore against us after we have come to Christ, yet we often fall prey to it. However scripture affirms to us quite a few times that our old sin life is gone as far as the East is from the West. Scripture quite clearly states that God buries our sin in the depths of the sea, places it behind His back, and separates it from Himself and from us. (Psalm 103:12, Micah 7:19, Isaiah 38:17) Romans 4:8 says that the man, or woman for that matter, that God does not count their sin against is blessed. What a blessing. God not counting our sin against us. You see my friend "Sheila" was feeling condemned for what she had done even after confessing and asking for forgiveness. She felt as though she was not worthy to walk with the Lord. However we talked about her worth not being from herself, but rather being given because she was IN Christ. Then we went on to talk about the need to be filled with God's Spirit so that she could have the power to walk holy.

"Sheila" was convinced right there at the table. We talked about what that would and would not look like. We talked about the fact that a lot of people say that if you pray to receive the Spirit and don't speak in tongues that it didn't work. I then related to her what Richard Harvey, former Pastor and C&MA DS, said about when he prayed to be filled with the Spirit. I told her God says if we ask according to His will he does it. So whether she spoke in tongues, or had another manifestation of a charismatic gift, or if it seemed nothing happened, as long as she asked in faith, and believed God's word she WAS filled and baptized in His Spirit. She said ok, then bowed her head and prayed to God to fill her with His Spirit. WOW....this was amazing.

What is so amazing about all of this? This was a believer who was a one week and one day old Christian. God is truly amazing when he reveals his truth to our heart. She told God she needed His in-dwelling Spirit to give her the power to obey. This is only a truth God could reveal. Now we are moving on to learning to walk in it. I wish God would give us all such a simple trusting faith as this young lady.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Crazy hot bean dip!

My wife, Sara, was feeling a little attention deprived last Thursday night. So in attempt to get some love and sympathy from everyone she spilled burning hot re-fried beans on her hands. Ok - she didn't do it for attention she did it for love. The blister on her wrist is about 1/2 inch tall and the fingers on her other hand are starting to blister as well. How can blisters from a burn be love?

Well it kind of goes like this, you see we had a relatively new family to our church over for dinner last night. Things were kind of going rough getting dinner ready for them. We were going to have deluxe nachos with beans, meat, cheese, the works. During the final prep my wife was heating the beans in the microwave. As she went to get them out she tripped and dropped the bowl. Well the new family's little boy was where it was going to land. So she sacrificed her body to try and grab the bowl and/or knock it away from him. Beans went everywhere - on the wall, the floor, the cabinet, my wife's wrists and hands. They went everywhere except for on Jacob. Sara declared after they left that it was only by the grace of God that he didn't get burned up by them.

She has been having a rough week. On Sunday she went to church twice with strep throat even though I told her she could stay home. Yet she made the sacrifice to go in and help lead worship. Often times she sacrifices time with me as I am called away to minister to other people. She sacrifices time with her kids as she goes to minister. She pretty much makes a bunch of sacrifices, and yet she gets no paycheck for this except for the one that her heavenly Father gives her as she lays up treasure in heaven. Is this what Jesus meant by dying to ourselves, is this what a sacrificial life of service looks like. Maybe for Sara serving the Lord means being burned by crazy hot bean dip. It isn't as glamorous as going to Africa or South America, but you gotta wonder is this family going to be changed for Jesus because she was willing to get burned instead of the child? May God get all the glory!