Monday, July 30, 2018

Ground Breaking Day!

The cathode ray tube, developed at the turn of the 20th century, made TV and computer monitors possible. Lee de Forest, the father of radio and grandfather of television, in 1926 said, “Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it an impossibility—a development which we should waste little time dreaming about.”

IBM, known for business machines, was instrumental in early computer development. However, Thomas Watson, Chairman of the Board of IBM in 1943, said, “I think there is a world-wide market for about five computers.”

In 1962, a record executive said, “We don't think the Beatles will do anything in their market. Guitar groups are on their way out.”

It’s hard to move forward when you’re always looking back, but we do it all the time. “This is the way we’ve always done things,” “But we’ve never done that before,” “Yeah we thought about that once but decided it wouldn’t work here,” are curses to a church wanting to follow God. When God is on the move, the past doesn’t dictate the future.

Ever gotten in a rut driving on a dirt road? Why is the rut there? That’s where most everyone else has driven on that road. Why is getting in the rut a bad idea? You are stuck going where everyone else has gone. And if you go where everyone else has gone, you’ll end up where everybody else has ended up. That’s not how a church follows God’s will. When I came the men were studying Experiencing God. It renewed my purpose.

God sets the future, not us, not the church down the street, not some denomination. God directs our paths. He leads us into the place where He is working. God doesn’t work through ruts, He cuts new roads.

Some are afraid of that. “We want what they’ve always had. Let’s keep doing things like we’ve always done them.” But what if God isn’t working like that any longer? What if He has something unique, special and new? What if following God requires we go places where roads don’t even exist yet?

We don’t have a past we are married to here at North Shore. We are a church available to whatever God wants us to do. We are convinced, as was Corrie Ten Boom: Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Some of you were here when a much smaller group took a much greater risk and built this building. Why did you do that? Because that was what God led you to do. We’re here again today. Following that same God who has called us now to expand our tent.

A map on display in the British Museum in London is an old mariner's chart, drawn in 1525, outlining the North American coastline and adjacent waters. The cartographer made some intriguing notations on areas of the map that represented regions not yet explored. He wrote: "Here be giants," "Here be fiery scorpions," and "Here be dragons." Eventually, the map came into the possession of Sir John Franklin, a British explorer in the early 1800s. Scratching out the fearful inscriptions, he wrote across the map: "Here be God." We can trust an unknown future to a known God.

God’s got a great track record. He draws up the plans, provides the resources, pulls Maurice out of retirement, directs the project and then places Himself into the building.

2Ch 7:1-3 Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD'S house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the LORD, saying, "Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting." 

Ezr 3:10-12 Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel. They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, "For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy... 

Hag 2:9 The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace,' declares the LORD of hosts.

Almost like He was saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
  • It wasn’t the size of the building. It was the greatness of the God in the building.
  • It wasn’t the fanciness of the shrine. It was the pricelessness of the Lord.
  • It wasn’t the magnificence of the architecture. It was the majesty of the Designer.
  • It wasn’t the multitude crowding inside, it was the glory of the God who was making Himself known.

Joe Clinton prayed often, “Lord, let our little church grow.” That wasn’t just Joe’s desire, that was God’s plan. God answered Joe’s prayer and Joe got to see it.

This building is because of that growth. To accommodate what God has done and plans to do. It will be a place of opportunity where folks can discover, learn, grow, change, love, be loved, accept, be accepted, invest and receive. A place where the presence of God can be sensed, experienced and embraced. Because this is a church God is building.

We can look back and see God. We look at today, we see God. When we look to tomorrow, we will see God. He is here. As we have seen God at work, we will see Him at work even more. That’s why I’m here. That’s why you’re here. We believe: Here be God – God is in this place and I want to be where He is.

This day is a day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Body Life Pt 3

1 Cor 12:4-7 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

            Varieties of Gifts – Spirit-given ability
            Varieties of Ministries – opportunity to use our gifts
            Varieties of Effects – what God accomplishes through our service

Your gift applied in a ministry opportunity produces multiple effects. Those effects are the privilege of seeing God at work through your life.

First Misunderstanding: downplaying the importance of the gifts.

Second Misunderstanding: limiting our service to what we believe is our gift.

Third Misunderstanding: making the gifts about us instead of about God and His intentions.

A wise person values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver. -Thomas A Kempis.

Rom 12:3-8 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. [Leveling the playing field] For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 

The Gifts come from God’s GRACE.
The Context within which the gift is Exercised is FAITH.
Because of the Gift we are Capable for whatever God wants to accomplish through us.

Paul wasn’t just a brilliant and well-educated man. He was gifted. Much more was packaged in God’s statement: My Grace is sufficient for you. To make Paul sufficient, Paul would need equipment to service God he didn’t naturally have. That equipment came from God’s Grace. They are Grace Gifts. They were given out of God’s desire to use Paul for His purposes. Gifts are God pouring His grace in and through us.

Grace is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves:
1.      Granting the righteousness necessary to have a relationship with Him.
2.     Equipping us to serve Him as He chooses to be served.

GRACE: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense

All we are all containers from which God’s riches can be dispensed.

Remember the wedding feast in Cana? The host ran out of wine. In a culture steeped in hospitality, to run out of wine was a family disgrace. Jesus stepped in and had men fill some pots with water. He had the head-waiter draw some out and it was seasoned wine. The moment was saved.

What about the pots? Anybody care about them? A miracle was performed inside them. And nobody is celebrating? You’d think someone could have put them in a room and sold tickets for people to come and see the pots in which water was turned to wine. They would be famous.

They were just pots that were available for Jesus to use. The miracle wasn’t about them. They were merely the containers from which the wine was dispensed.

2 Cor 4:7 We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
We are containers from which God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense, can be ladled out to others.

The wine wasn’t about the pots. The gifts aren’t about us. It’s all about Him.

A famous pastor once taught if you want a gift you don’t seem to have, ask God for it. No! Ask for opportunity to serve and God will gift you with what you need to be able to do so.

Ron Dunn's parable: once there was a body where the eyes convinced all the other parts of the body that the gift of SIGHT was the only important gift. They admitted that there were other gifts, but they ranked all of them below SIGHT. They wanted all of those in leadership positions within the body to have SIGHT as they did. They insisted that if all the other body parts and organs were spiritual enough and asked God enough, they could have the gift of SIGHT, too. They scheduled prayer meetings for the other organs and body parts to pray through for SIGHT. They scheduled training courses on "Learning to See."

Now in that same body, there were some toes which had low self-esteem. They didn't understand that God had given them the gift of STABILITY. They didn't understand that even though they were often hidden and were never given any praise, God had called them to the vital ministry of BALANCE. They felt guilty that their gift couldn't do more. They felt like they weren't spiritual enough. So, they prayed and prayed, begging God to give them the gift of SIGHT. To prove His point, God gave the toes sight. And do you know what they saw? They saw the inside of a sock.

The gifts are not about us. They are God’s tools to help Him accomplish His work. It’s not the tools of the mechanic that get the praise for fixing your car. It’s the mechanic.

Rom 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:

1 Pet 4:10-11 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

John 16:13-14 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me,

1Co 14:12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 

You want me to tell you what your gift is? It is the ability to do whatever the moment demands to lift up Jesus and build up or strengthen the church and touch a life.

Your gift is not a skill, a talent or a personality trait. It isn’t something you were born with or learned how to do. It’s an ability God gives you to accomplish ministry that draws people to Jesus.

Singing is my gift. All I want to do is sing. No. Singing isn’t a gift it’s a talent. Your gift is how God uses that talent to glorify Jesus and edify the church and touch a life.

Writing is my gift. All I want to do is write. No. Writing isn’t a gift it’s a skill. Your gift is when God uses that skill to glorify Jesus and edify the church and touch a life.

I’m a people person. That’s my gift. No, that’s a personality trait. Your gift comes in when God uses your personality to glorify Jesus and edify the church and touch a life.

TEST: Is there an area of ministry that speaks to you? Children, Missions, Greeting, Teaching, Sewing, Evangelism, Hospitality.
What type of service draws you? Organizing, leading, helping, hosting, sharing
What are you doing when you find the greatest fulfillment? Encouraging, comforting, serving, solving problems.
What do you do, that doing so, lets you sense God is working through your life? That verse just popped into my head, I actually got through to him about his problems, I saw God’s love come out of me and touch her.

When we focus on Him and make ourselves available, He takes our availability and uses us however He chooses.

Ability is not the requirement, availability is. When we’re available He makes us able.

We don’t need to focus on specific gifts. God will provide the right gift at the right time.

Jesus laid this out to His disciples: Luke 12:11 When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." 

Pastor John Ortberg told about walking with some friends past one of the local bars just as a fight spilled out onto the street. As they watched, three men proceeded to beat up a single opponent. Realizing they had to do something, Ortberg began to warn the men to break it up. Suddenly the thugs looked up with fear in their eyes, let their victim go and turned to walk away. At that point he noticed the men had actually been looking over his shoulder at a 6 foot 7, 250-pound bouncer, standing there with muscles bulging, looking as if he hoped they would try to take him on. Ortberg’s attitude was transformed. He was released from anxiety and fear and was filled with boldness and confidence. “You’d better not let us catch you hanging around here again!” he called out after the fleeing thugs. And why? Because he realized that he was not alone. The bouncer was standing beside him putting the power into his words.

  1. The Power of God lives within you.
  2. That Power enables you to accomplish what God wants from you.
  3. Trust Him and obey what God shows you to do.
  4. If you are available, He will make you able.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Body Life Pt 2

Why does God make life so hard? Why not just smooth out every bump in the road and fill every pothole? Why not remove each obstacle and take away every tear from sorrows that burden us down? Why not heal every disease and quiet the cry of every broken heart? Why not stop the storms and calm the seas and prevent the floods from destroying all we’ve worked for?

James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing
In God’s economy, life is hard for a reason: to help us depend on Him. As we depend on Him we gain His strength. When we stand in His strength we overcome. When we overcome we rise among the victorious.

There are things in our lives we can only gain through struggle. Paul didn’t discover God’s grace was sufficient for every weakness until he got the thorn in his flesh. Hard things sharpen us to help us cut through the darkness of life and live faithfully before God. How so? They make us look to Him.

When God gave His people the Old Covenant, He gave them expectations that were impossible to meet. Why? To make them need Him. He didn’t want them to have a religion they could use to accomplish life without depending on Him. The goal was to bring them close. That’s why when life gets hard we look up.

Act 15:10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 

What Peter pointed out was how inadequate the people were to live under the Old Covenant. Why? Because the Old Covenant was impossible by man’s strength. With God all things are possible. Without God, forget it. But that inadequacy was designed to draw them to Him.

When God phased out the Old Covenant and initiated the New Covenant at Calvary, He was changing the focus. Instead of the people trying to reach Him, He was now reaching out to them. And when He reached them, the ability to live faithfully became real because He was present in their lives to make it happen.

2 Cor 3:4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant.

One of the problems with the old covenant was limited involvement. There was a network of priests who basically did everything for the people. They performed the sacrifices. They served God on behalf of the people. They made the connection between God and man. The people brought their offerings and the priests did the rest.

This was holy work and only the holy can perform the work. You see the exclusion.
Then there were the prophets. God spoke to His people through His prophets. Regular folks didn’t hear from God directly. They listened to what He said through designated spokesmen. The barrier was strong between God and His people and only a few could get through that barrier. Hear the exclusion?

It created two problems: (1) it gave the impression that connecting with God was only for a select few and (2) it limited the people’s understanding of God because their knowledge had to come from what others wanted them to know.

In the late 300s AD, the Church wanted to separate Christianity from its Jewish roots. Since the New Testament is a largely Jewish book, written primarily by Jews who had realized their fulfillment in Jesus, the historical and spiritual connection between Christianity and Judaism was and is strong. Unfortunately, it was too strong for early church leaders, so they forbid Christians from reading the Bible for themselves. Why? To disconnect the people from their Jewish heritage and tell the people what the Church wanted them to know.

Try to push indulgences or the immaculate conception of Mary or purgatory when your people could check it for themselves in their Bibles. Even paintings of Jesus were of a European white man and not a Middle Eastern Jew.

By the 1200s a Council was convened where it was decided: “We prohibit that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”

At that time, the Bible was only available in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. No common person could read any of these languages.

In 1536, William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. According to Tyndale, the Church was forbidding owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance.

But from that English translation and later German, the people could now read the Bible for themselves. When they did, they realized it was God’s story of the favor He had granted His people to teach them, lead them and empower them. They understood they were a people created to hear His voice and follow Him specifically and personally.

God’s people can all hear directly from God—not just the prophets.  We all can go before God and serve Him personally—not just the priests. We can all draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of needHeb 4:16 

You can see why some churches don’t want you to know that. It levels the playing field. It makes everyone of equal importance. It values everyone. Each of us carries meaning and the purpose of God stamped our hearts. There are no big shots and little shots. We all matter. We matter individually and collectively because the church is a redeemed community designed to connect together.
You can fake church but you cannot fake connection. Some think church is like a bag of marbles. Their goal is to collect more and more marbles. It doesn’t matter how many marbles you have in the bag they don’t connect. Instead the church is like a puzzle with interlocking edges. My life connects with your life until we produce a picture that defines what God has called us to be.

What’s a fake church. It is a church that sets its own goals and acts toward its own purpose, targets who it wants to attend, desires people for what it can get out of them. Has no interest in who they are and what God wants to accomplish through them. All they are is fodder, steerage, place holders, pew warmers, unless they can be used to help hold up the organization. A fake church is a throwback to the hierarchy era when all the church wanted was attendance and money. These churches have counterfeited God’s design. Why would they do that? They want the value of connection but don’t want to lose control.

You don’t counterfeit worthless things—like a paper sack or a rubber band. Hey buddy, make you a deal on a paper sack…Or, got some find rubber bands here. You counterfeit things of value you can’t get any other way. Money, diamonds, ladies hand bags or designer clothes. Things made to look like the original but don’t have the value of the original.

In NY, a guy from Nigeria stopped me and was showing me ladies designer hand bags from a box on the sidewalk. That should have been my first clue. Suddenly, he took off and left me there with the box. I looked up and saw a police car at the intersection. When the police turned a different way, the man came back. After I bought Jan a purse I realized the stuff was all counterfeit and I could have been arrested just because I had it in my possession.

People produce counterfeits or buy counterfeits when they want what they don’t know how to have any other way. Even churches.

They want what other churches have but don’t know how to make that happen, so they try to create a church by their own methods. Which may work for a while but soon will fade away. Paul lays it out. It is simple: it’s not the programs; it’s the people. It’s not the promotion; it’s the prayer. It’s not the product; it’s the life. It’s not the production; it’s God.

The church isn’t an organization, it’s the body of Christ. For it to function properly there can only be one Head and everyone else must serve through their gifts, providing the body the parts the church needs to do what the Father wants.

1Co 12:12-26 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 

Somebody’s got to be the big toe. Somebody’s got to be the liver. Somebody’s got to be the elbow, the hands, the feet. It takes each of us and all of us to be the body that goes by the name North Shore Church. That’s why you’re here.

Like an orchestra. At the end of the performance, you don’t applaud just the percussion section or the trombones. You applaud the whole orchestra. Each instrument did their part but it was through their part added to the rest that made a successful performance.

A great orchestra is one where each instrument is tuned to all the others, with each musician playing from the same score, following the same conductor, intent on performing their best to make the whole complete.

The church is a group of Believers, tuned in heart to God and each other, reading from the same Book, led by the same Master, with the shared desire to please the Lord.

  1. If I asked you to find one word that describes what you think God’s opinion of you is, for many that word would be disappointed.
  2. We feel God is disappointed because we don’t think we measure up to what He expects from us.
  3. Failure or the fear of failure creates anxiety that drives us inside ourselves so we can remain safe and not risk any more disappointment.
  4. Actually, it’s just the opposite; if anything disappoints God, it is His people not living according to their potential.
  5. North Shore Church gives you permission to deny your fears and open yourself up for opportunities to be blessed and to become a blessing.
  6. You are valuable here.

Monday, July 9, 2018

BodyLife Pt. 1

I grew up on potluck dinners at church. All the ladies of the church would bring a dish from home, put it on a long table and we’d just roam around the table getting a little bit of this and a little bit of that to fill our plates.

These dinners were scheduled but never organized—hence the name pot luck. Something was prepared at home, brought to church, added to whatever else was brought, and then we all made a meal out of the assorted collection. Somehow, there was always enough and always a proper variety. And it was always so good that many a horizon was broadened as a result.

Church is like that. We each are a dish prepared by God, brought together to help nourish the flock. And when that happens, much is accomplished to enlarge the Kingdom of God.

In the past, church was seen as a formal hierarchy of people and positions with a distinct separation of the bishop or priest (pastors, staff) from the people. These clergy did the spiritual work in behalf of the people. The people were simply objects of the religious
efforts. Nothing more was expected from them than their attendance and money. The church was an organization too complicated and holy for the people’s input or help.

Then we became an army. Regimented into officers and enlisted. The officers were in charge and told the enlisted what was expected. The goal was conformity. Everyone was to look the same, act the same and live the same. We were trained to fit into the box of what the officers believed it meant to be a Christian. The church became structured as an outpost of discipline. Everyone must fit in and become like the rest of us, which was a task so difficult only a few were needed to control what that looked like.

Then we turned into a school. The Principal oversaw the school and set the curriculum. Teaching was now the most important activity. Everyone must learn the same things and embrace the same practices before they can proceed through the educational process. The goal was for everyone to have the same beliefs. We must all be Calvinists or all be Armenians. All be pre-millenialists or all be Pentecostal. Whatever the main emphasis was, everyone was to be indoctrinated into that belief. The teacher was focused on everyone learning the same material. The church turned into a place focused on content and correction where everyone must have the same mindset to be right.

But when we study the Bible, we find the church is Family. We are brothers and sisters in the faith. In a family, all grow at different rates, have graduated responsibilities and expectations. We forgive mistakes, pick up the fallen, restore the broken. The goal is to help each one mature toward responsible adults who can handle life and serve the Lord faithfully. We are sensitive to help fill the gaps in understanding how to apply the truth. Loving God and each other become objectives. The church is relational. The goal isn’t indoctrination or forcing everyone into a defined box, but helping each one live as who we’ve become—Children of God.

So when Paul began the study of spiritual gifts and how the church was to operate, he started with what we have in common, regardless of where we are on the growth curve.
1Co 12:1-3 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 

What we have in common is our commitment to the Lordship of Christ. When we believe in Him as our Savior we grow toward a greater understanding that He is Lord. Granted some may be further along in that understanding than others, but each of us realizes He is greater and we are lesser. He is Master and we are servants. He is God and we are His children.

1Jn 4:2-3  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God

It’s what we have in common. It’s the family DNA. It’s what ties us together.

Matt 7:21  Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  

Matt 14:28-29  Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 


Luke 4:8  Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.

Rom 1:1  Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

Rom 10:9, 13  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

Eph 5:8-10 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 

Eph 6:10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

Col 2:6  Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

Col 3:13  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Rom 12:10-11  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 

Eph 2:8-10  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

What makes our works good works? They are Gods working through us to accomplish His purposes. Not what we bring to the table, but what God intends to do through us. By our works, God is glorified. How so? They indicate His goodness in us.

Matt 5:16  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

To make sure it’s not just our efforts but Him working through us, whatever He expects from us, He equips us to be able to do.

We are adequate for what He’s asking us to do. When that sinks in, we realize how complete and empowered we really are.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant. (2 Cor 3:4)
Adequacy takes away:
·       I can’t.
·       I don’t know how.
·       I might mess us.
·       There’s someone better at this than I am.

  1. In a family, nobody is more important than another.
  2. Each person has value and contributes to the whole.
  3. Our church is a family.
  4. You are as vital to this church as anyone else.
  5. What you are is a gift from God to help make North Shore the church God intends us to be.

I am a gift from God.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

One Nation Under God

I want you to know I am fit to be tied. I’m riled up. I’m about to have a hissy fit. My hide is chapped. My grits are over-cooked. My righteousness is indignated because things have gone on this week that have taken me to the limits of my ability to understand.

For some reason, the presidency of Donald Trump, has taken the lid off of protocol, manners, decency, truth and doing what’s right because it’s right.

There has always been an undercurrent of disapproval for the other side within political parties, but never has that escalated to a clear and vocal movement devoted to the destruction of the American political system. This week warnings of an approaching civil war were actually spoken within the capital building. I’m not sure that’s a good idea. One side has all the guns and the other doesn’t know which bathroom to use.

Bless her heart, Maxine Watters’ public cry for verbally assaulting people because of the side of the political aisle they represent is more than trash talking. It’s instigating violence. It’s harassing. It’s profiling. It’s attacking someone because they disagree with your political position. At some point this thing will turn physical. Which is what many have said about the shooting in Maryland this week. One editor for Reuters is under fire because he immediately blamed the shooting on Trump. He apologized when he learned this was the culmination of a feud the man had had with the paper since 2012.

The Supreme Court demonstrated political bias as they supported, by a 5-4 majority, a President’s authority to enforce regulations that protect our country from people indiscriminately coming here from terroristic nations. It was a constitutional matter, not political.  The dissenting justices admitted to voting against it because to them it gave the president the right to discriminate even though it was well within the constitutional guarantees granted to the office of president. When they vote, are they not to measure their decisions against the Constitution and not base their opinion on a political agenda?

The attention given to people crossing our borders illegally has been more on the separation of families than on the laws being broken. There is no country that doesn’t control its borders and exercise the right to decide who can come in and who can’t. It’s a national security issue. Our country has long standing rules that explain how one can legally enter and what law enforcement is supposed to do if that person chooses another route. Some Congressmen are actually wanting to get rid of the laws regarding our borders or stop enforcing them. How ridiculous! Even more ridiculous was the call this week to abolish ICE—Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, as though those charged with enforcing the law are the problem. A new congressional candidate won her primary by running on this platform.

Fake news is everywhere, but it’s nothing new. It’s called propaganda. Telling people what you want them to believe to sway them to your position. But now, it seems, every newscast is so mixed with fake and real, it’s hard to tell the difference. Journalism is supposed to be about the facts, but even when they tell a story accurately you’ll hear inflection in their voices or the special meaning of words they use they intend to show bias or make you doubt the implications of the story. The media is at its lowest credibility rate ever because few can trust they are telling the truth.

California Assembly considered a new law this week that would make it unlawful for a business to engage in distributing resources, selling books, offering counseling services, or directing someone to a biblically-based model for getting help with gender confusion and homosexuality, making it illegal to advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in sexual orientation change. Even if somebody wants out this law shuts the door to help.

Canada has made a decision that will eventually affect schools in the US. They have taken away the credentials away from a Christian Law School because its statement of beliefs violates socially acceptable practices. They will no longer certify Law School graduates because of the school’s stand against lifestyle choices among other Biblical matters.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has resigned. Immediately, cries were heard that Trump had better not select a justice who doesn’t support abortion or the tenants of Obama Care. Instead of wanting a Justice who understands the Constitution and will serve without bias, they want a political justice.

Deu 16:19 You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.

In the Enews articles I receive each day have been message after message telling pastors to stay away from political issues, immigration issues and other matters of social concern.

That was the approach Martin Niemoller, German pastor took before he was arrested and said: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The world wants a silent church because silence is passive agreement. Stay within your building and don’t bring your message outside. Russia just created a law requiring the very same thing.

There is a war raging and it has two targets with one bullseye. One target is the Constitution. Even though it is considered one of the most well-established documents from which a free country can remain free, it is under attack.

Thomas Jefferson – Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. … If it is, then we have no Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.

Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice – I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever ‘fixed’ at the Philadelphia Convention … To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start.

Joe BidenJust talk to me as a father—not what the Constitution says. What do you feel?

There is a growing sector of our society that feel the document interferes with how they want America to change. Their mission is to change the Constitution.

Proverb 22:28  Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set. 

Hosea 5:10-11 The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary; on them I will pour out My wrath like water. Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to follow man's command

Hillary Clinton, during her run for president, said that Christians must be forced to change their religious views to accommodate abortions. “Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed…”

Which brings us to the other target – the Bible. Two weeks ago, FBC, Dallas, was preparing a patriotic service for this past Sunday. They bought and placed a message on billboards around the city. They wanted everyone to know America is still a Christian nation. The kickback was so harsh, the billboard company was forced to pull the messages down.

What’s the issue: freedom of speech or not making statements that offend some within the community. All it takes is an individual or group to be offended by something then complain and everyone must change to correct that offense. One lady this week didn’t like the writing on a tee-shirt. It was pulled from the shelves. Folks, I’m offended every day by what I see and hear.

But back to the statement on the billboard in Dallas: Are we a Christian nation?

Willamette University law and history professor Steven Green, who three years ago published a book: Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding said, "From where did the idea of America's founding as a Christian nation arise? In a nutshell, it arose in the early 19th century as later generations of Americans sought to establish a national identity, one that distinguished and exemplified the founding by sanctifying the nation's origins. This is the origin of the 'Christian nation' myth."

By what I see, I’m not so sure we are today what we’ve been in the past, and I know we have fallen from what the Founders had in mind. But I am absolutely convinced that how we were established, as one nation under God, isn’t a myth.

John Adams: The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.

George Washington – It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.

Thomas JeffersonGod, who gave us life, gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?

In the Congressional Record, May, 1779, Whereas, ... too few have been sufficiently awakened to a sense of their guilt, or warmed with gratitude, or taught to amend their lives and turn from their sins, so He might turn from His wrath; and whereas, from a consciousness of what we have merited at His hands. Resolved, That it be recommended to the several States to appoint the first Thursday in May next to be a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer to Almighty God that He will grant us his grace to repent of our sins and amend our lives according to His holy word; that He will diffuse useful knowledge, extend true religion, and give us that peace of mind which the world cannot give ...

The push to de-Christianize our nation defies what the Founding Fathers intended. But today that push has extended from removing Him not only from politics but from the market place, the schools and all of society, with the ultimate attempt being to remove Him from life, creating a secular society devoid of His blessings.

In other words, the two targets: the Constitution and the Bible have a similar bullseye: God Himself.

But what does the Bible say: Ps 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD

We who have been blessed by the Lord understand what that means and want our Country blessed by that same Lord. No one wants the church to control the nation, but we want the God to whom we credit for its founding to get honored for the blessings we enjoy. We want His principles for society to govern our land. We want His best for us, instead of the evil we have permitted.

So, what can we do? We can pray.

When the boys were younger and were a bit bent out of shape because of something they had no control over, I’d tell them to draw a circle on the floor and get into it. They were ultimately responsible for only the person in that circle.

·       You can’t drive somebodyelse’s car, even though you disapprove with how they are driving.

·       You can’t sing somebodyelse’s song, even though you don’t like the style of the song they’re singing.

·       You can’t make somebodyelse’s decisions, even though you dislike the decisions they are making.

·       You can’t make the country comply with your ideals, even though you think your ideals are better than theirs.

What can you do? Draw a circle. Get in it. Then, give the person in that circle to the Lord. Doing so will take away your anxiety as He gives you His peace even in unsettling days. God, hold me tight in the midst of my concerns. Please help me be all you want me to be. Use my life for your purposes and fulfill your intentions through it. Let me represent you accurately in whatever I say or do. I want to be faithful to live faithfully and not let the world, society or politics press me into their mold. I believe You hold the future, not man, and I want to be a part of whatever you plan. Help me keep my eyes on the prizes of Your goodness, Your mercy, Your grace, Your forgiveness, Your will, Your ways, Your word, Your truth. And may I honor You without exception for all the rest of my days.

When there are disturbing things I can do nothing about, I look to the only One who can perform the impossible. I look to Him who can move on the hearts and minds of others to turn them toward His will. I look to Him who can make a way through a sea of hostility and lead us through the secular wilderness toward a great and glorious promised land.

Only He can turn the great leviathan of politics from a path of destruction to a path of deliverance.

Can I influence Donald Trump and help him make his decisions? Of course not. Can He? Absolutely. Then I will pray for Donald Trump that he might yield to the influence of Almighty God. Can I influence Congress to refuse special interests and produce laws that are best for our nation? No. Can He? Absolutely. So I will pray for Congress. Can I make Supreme Court Justices refuse political bias and rule according to the Constitution? Not at all. Can He? Absolutely. So I will pray for the Supreme Court.

What good does praying do? It invites the One who holds the answer, to accomplish His will in and through me. It gets my perspective right. It places me on the correct side of the argument. It steadies my head and hands to deal with whatever I face. And when my prayers are connected with your prayers even greater things can happen.

2Chron 7:14  If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 

The only hope for America or any nation is for its people to cry out to God. Only He can fight the invisible battle with evil pushing its agenda to disconnect us from His blessings.

Only God can bless America!