Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where Atheists Get It Right

One of my atheist friends made an observation: “You Christians have it easy in some ways. Since your god forgives you for everything, you get to go around being mean without ever making it right because you’ve been ‘forgiven’.”


My friend pointed out that atheists are not conscience free. Instead of praying to God to forgive them and (hopefully) silence that still small voice nagging at them from the back of their head, they actually go to the person they offended and make things right.

There are people we’ve wronged with whom we will never be reconciled. Loved ones who are gone or mentally impaired, for instance. In cases involving missed opportunities, we are so blessed to know that forgiveness can still be ours because of God’s amazing grace.

When we lie, cheat, gossip, or in some other way mistreat people, we can’t just fall back on the bumper sticker-ism, “Not Perfect, Just Forgiven”. We must be reconciled!

God’s forgiveness is ours for the asking, about that there is no argument. The New Testament is filled with admonishments to believers regarding our interpersonal relationships, and yet we still treat our brothers and sisters shamefully. Of course God forgives us for our many infractions, but we need to make things right with each other.

Come on! Get off the pew and be reconciled with the people you worship with every Sunday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jammin' for Jesus

Question--Do these signs really work to draw people into church? What do you think?

Just askin'.

Linger Here and Begin to Pray in the Sprit

I know God calls people to pray. Sometimes we may not know exactly why we're praying, or what it is we're supposed to pray for. But God knows. Our job is to be faithful. Here's a story of how God was working in Tucson seven days before tragedy struck.

I found this article written by Ralaine Fagone on the website, Breaking Christian News.

Be encouraged to get off the pew and pray.

The Deacon - God said, "Linger Here and Begin to Pray in the Spirit"

As he turned off the bike he heard the Holy Spirit call him to prayer: "Linger here and begin to pray in the Spirit."

Our nation has been in awe over the speedy recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona. During a community event outside a shopping market on the corners of Ina and Oracle a man opened fire into a crowd of people. The first reports were sketchy; one news agency presumed her dead, with six others, while many painted a gloomy end to her critical condition. The doctors began to give hopeful reports and downgraded her condition quickly. Within two-and-a-half weeks she was transferred from one care facility to a place where she could begin rehabilitation from her brain injuries.

The nation's prayers after the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords have proven to be effective. But, what about prayers that took place before the event? I know one man who was called to stand and pray one week before the shooting took place.

Dick Tesi, affectionately called Deacon Dickie from Restoration International, was riding his motorcycle through Tucson on Saturday, January 1, 2011. He pulled into a gas station at the intersection of Ina and Oracle, next to a Safeway store. He felt prompted to turnoff his motorcycle before entering his next destination into the GPS. As he turned off the bike he heard the Holy Spirit call him to prayer: "Linger here and begin to pray in the Spirit." Always willing to co-operate with the Father, Dickie stood and prayed while his eyes scanned the area. He was unsure why he needed to pray right then and there. Still, he remained until he felt released. Back on the road; his work was completed.

When the news reports aired, telling the horror that took place, Deacon Dickie stopped to remember his call to prayer the week prior. He realized the prayer was strategic for the tragic event. Dickie expressed his concern regarding his "ineffective" prayer in light of the six lives lost that day. My premature response said, "It could have been worse, we don't know."

As the reports of Congresswoman Giffords' remarkable progress begun to flow to the nation, I gained insight connecting these two events. Over seven years ago Deacon Dickie experienced a miraculous recovery from a brain injury due to a motorcycle accident. Dickie was on full life support, bringing him to the threshold of eternity. Then the healing power of Jesus intervened. His brain was so swollen, part of it had to be removed. The miracle continued by making him whole and restoring his memory. I believe this made him the perfect candidate to stand and pray with authority over the events to come. Dickie had faced a similar frontal lobe injury as the Congresswoman, and had victory, making him a conqueror. Dickie had the right resume'; God called the right man to stand in the parking lot and pray over the brain injury to come.

Follow those promptings and calls to prayer. Pray from the spirit and partner with Father's plans. You may not have understanding or think the prayer is ineffective. But, a time may come, like it did for my friend Deacon Dickie, where you will look back and be struck with the awe and mystery of God.

No one's ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it—What God has arranged for those who love Him. But you've seen and heard it because God by His Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you're thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that He not only knows what He's thinking, but He lets us in on it. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 (The Message)

Perhaps you noticed the unusual aspects of this story. Things like it had been seven years since Dickie's accident where he [was on the brink of death], and he prayed seven days before the accident—demonstrating God's completion. Even the names of key players are relevant; the street corners of Oracle—means "speaker" or "word" and Ina—is translated "pure", the store named Safe-way, and Gabrielle—means "Hero of God." There is a story within the story. This adds to the mysteries of God.

Written by Ralaine Fagone and reported by Breaking Christian News.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What Jesus Would NOT Do

Great food for thought.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ask Forgiveness - Not Permission

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

A lot of people live this way, and I’m a little bit jealous of them. They are brave, confident, and unflinching. But what about those people from whom forgiveness must be asked? Perhaps they’d RATHER be considered before an act is committed against them.

A local church just finished a remodel on the campus. They chose to move forward and finish the project without securing the proper building permits, so as to have the building ready in time to host a special invited guest. They’re now on the hook for fines levied by the city.

Look, all the people who give their tithes and offerings to this church have trusted the pastor, the staff, and the church board to be good stewards of their hard-earned money.

The remodel alone cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In these precarious economic times, it’s irresponsible to throw money away on unnecessary fines. Oh sure, the pastor can ask for forgiveness, but is the cost of breaking the law and damaging the church’s reputation really worth the prestige of hosting a big name musical group?

I strongly believe that Christian leaders ought to be setting the bar for propriety and goodness. We are only human, of course, and therefore flawed. However, we are called to be Jesus with skin on. He came to offer forgiveness, not ask for it.

Now get of the pew and do right. If you’ve been given a position of church leadership, you’ve been called to a big job and you need to be in pursuit of holiness while fulfilling your responsibilities.

Remember, Jesus came to offer forgiveness – not ask for it! Now get off the pew, kick clich├ęs and platitudes out the door, and take care of that which has been entrusted to you.