Thursday, September 26, 2013

Worship Like Life Depends On It

A reporter interviewed two pastors, asking some pretty pointed questions.  One of the questions was this: “What will you do if you get to the end of your life and realize Christianity is a lie?”  One pastor answered by saying, “Even if my faith is a lie, I will have lived a good and moral life.”  The other pastor said, “I will have lived the life of an utter fool.”

I think the second pastor better understood the terms of Christian worship.  Worshiping Jesus is an all-in proposition that is much bigger than doing good things in this world.  Worshiping Jesus devotes all of who we are to the affairs of a coming king and kingdom.  If that coming kingdom is a lie, our lives are a lie.

At the end of his letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul describes this mentality well.  Paul writes, “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”  Christians should be pitied if their faith and worship is a lie.  We should be pitied because we are devoting our lives to things that will never happen.

As you go through the coming week, worship with complete devotion.  Pray, study, sing, serve, and share in a way that is completely dependent on Jesus’ coming kingdom.  Live in a way that says, “If Jesus doesn’t show up, this isn’t going to work.”  As you do, you will experience the joys of a life devoted to a Lord who is far from a lie.   You will find the riches of life worshiping in the truth.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gratitude and Second Place

The U.S. is known for winning a lot of medals at the Olympic Games.  Often, American athletes win more medals than any other country in the world.  You would think that is a great source of pride and satisfaction for American athletes.  But, for many, it is not.

USA Today cites a survey reporting the dissatisfaction of many American medal winners.  While gold medalists reported high degrees of gratitude for their medal, silver medalists reported far lesser satisfaction and appreciation.  In fact, silver medalists were less appreciative of their medal than those who had won the bronze.  It seems that getting close to the highest achievement creates more dissatisfaction than less.

That is a great illustration of a common human experience.  We are blessed with incredible opportunities, steward them well, and accomplish great things.  Instead of appreciating it and enjoying it with gratitude, we focus on what we don’t have and what we haven’t done.  Our desire for more leaves us ungrateful for the incredible things we have.

The Apostle Paul encourages Christians to avoid this temptation.  In Ephesians, Paul writes, “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Christian worship undermines dissatisfaction by emphasizing and appreciating all that God has provided.

As you go through the coming week, praise God for all God has given.  Write down three blessings that you are thankful for.  Then, thank the Lord for those three things each day in prayer.  Read passages of scripture praising God for all He has provided.  As you do, you will start to recognize the many things God has graced you with.  You will also realize that, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, you are indeed a gold medalist in the Lord!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Honoring the Honorable

Last week, a driver hit and killed a UCLA football player in a car accident.  UCLA’s football coach, Jim Mora, held a press conference, discussing the matter on behalf of the team and university.  Mora remembered the student athlete glowingly and shared his sympathies with the family.

During the press conference, a media member decided to make a phone call.  Coach Mora tried to share details about the death while the media member talked.  But, the phone conversation got so loud it interrupted Mora’s thoughts and condolences. 

The lack of respect surprised the coach.  He thought the life that had been tragically lost should be honored.  He reprimanded the person for the lack of respect and ended the press conference.

Honor and respect can be a rare thing in our day and age.  We are taught to be suspicious of anyone in authority and any special recognition.  The only people we are taught to respect are those who give us a paycheck.  Honoring a person because of their authority or special circumstance is odd.

This lack of honor gets dangerous when it influences the Christian faith.  It is dangerous because Jesus instructs His people to honor Him as God.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “…all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”  Christians honor and respect and revere Jesus like His Father because of His authoritative position.  Jesus deserves our respect.  He is worth our reverence.  Jesus should be honored.

As you go through the coming week, worship Jesus as a way of honoring our Lord.  Memorize a Psalm that praises God.  Start each day with a prayer, describing how great Jesus is.  Tell a friend or a family member about how great Jesus is.  As you do, you will find the riches of a life lived for a God worth honoring.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

All Things New

Driving to church on Tuesday morning, I could feel the excitement of the new school year in the air.  I passed Reedville Elementary School and saw teachers and administrators busily preparing for their first classes.  Children, outsized by their new backpacks, made their way down the sidewalks, laughing and talking.  New things were in the air.

God celebrates new seasons like this.  In the book of Isaiah, God tells the prophet, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  God insists that His people notice the new things He is doing and enjoy their goodness.

God is doing new and wonderful things at Faith Center - Aloha this Fall.  There are new lessons and activities in the children’s ministry.  There is a new Youth Pastor with a new vision for the youth ministry.  There are new Growth Groups, encouraging new people to go deeper in their walk with the Lord.  There is a new Sunday school class on worship starting in a few weeks.  New things are in the air.

As we approach this season, let the new things God is doing be the foundation of all things.  Worship with your church family.  Participate in Growth Groups.  Teach your children to participate in the ministries of the church.  As you do, you will be blessed by the new things of God.  According to Isaiah, you will find “a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Praise the Lord!