Friday, April 24, 2009

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up.....

My job requires that I drive to different areas of our state quite often. During my travels, I’ve seen some rather interesting things. You are about to see why I now keep my camera with me whenever make these trips.
The following are a collection of a few of the photos I’ve taken during my travels around our state. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Apparently, this is where they bury the Old Baptists.
Not sure where they put the younger ones.

Obviously, part of Obama’s new economic plan….

The sign pretty much says it all. And, no, I have not eaten here.
I’m afraid to.

Now THIS farmer harvests his corn really faast!

Before you try to dispose of the body, make sure to check their ID first.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip to our state.

Please come back anytime.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Gathering Force - by Francis Chan

I just finished reading the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. I also used to be a member of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California (Francis Chan’s church). The article below is exactly what Francis talks about in his book, talks about in church, and is how he himself lives his own life. I know this man personally, and you can trust what he says…….

Is there any logic in believing that God started His Church as a Spirit-filled, loving body with the intention that it would evolve into entertaining, hour-long services? Was he hoping that one day people would be attracted to the Church not because they care for one another, not because they are devoted to Him, not because the supernatural occurs in their midst, but because of good music and entertainment?

Try to imagine what conclusions you would come to if you had no prior church experience. The things in church services might make sense to the American church-attendee, but they don’t make sense biblically.

Picture yourself on an island with only a Bible. You’ve never been to a church-you’ve never even heard of one. The only ideas you have about church are what you’ve read in your Bible. Then you enter a building labeled “church” for the first time. What would you expect to experience as you entered that building? Now compare that to what you actually experience when you attend church.

A while back, an ex-gang member got baptized at our church. He fell in love with Jesus and turned from his old lifestyle. But after several months at the church, he stopped attending. When we asked him why he stopped attending, he answered: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week-we were family.”

That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church was intended to be. It saddened me because I realized that the gangs paint a better picture of loyalty and family than the local church body does.

But what if the church looked like this?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

That describes what the ex-gang member was looking for. It describes what the world is waiting for. I used to look at this passage as something that was wonderful but could never happen in the twenty-first century. There are just too many cultural obstacles for the Holy Spirit to overcome. He is powerful enough to raise the dead, but not powerful enough to form a sharing and loving body in our individualistic society. I doubted God’s ability to stir a body of believers to love tirelessly and give without restraint. I reasoned that this type of fellowship was probably not intended for our time. Besides, we don’t have time to love like this.

Looking back, I wonder if I came to those conclusions because there was a part of me that wasn’t sure I wanted it. It’s interesting how much our theology is driven by desire.

There came a point where the elders at our church concluded that there was no reason why God wouldn’t want the church to look like it did in the beginning. From there we reasoned that if God wants that, then we want it too. But the exciting part came when we resolved not to settle for anything less. We would pursue this for His Church regardless of how many would be turned off and move to other churches. If this is God’s standard, then we will one day give an account for how we led His people toward the biblical model.

But where do we go from here? The hard part is answering the question of how. There are probably many who want our churches to function like the early church, but how do we get there?

In other words, start with yourself. It’s wrong to blame others for the condition of the Church. And it’s silly for leaders to blame followers. God wasn’t satisfied when Adam blamed Eve or when Eve blamed the serpent.

Our elders started with what we could control. We can’t control other people. We can’t make the congregation “break bread in their homes” or “sell their possessions.” We also can’t control God. We can’t make Him do “wonders and miraculous signs” through us. I can, however, sell my possessions as people have needs. I do have control over that, so that became the first logical step. As we do our part, we trust God to bring about the “awe” and “wonders” in His time.

It was a beautiful time of sharing as our elders laid “everything” at each others’ feet. We surrendered the keys to our cars, homes, and bank accounts. I actually believed the elders who looked me in the eyes and said, “What’s mine is yours. If anything ever happens to you, I will support and care for your kids as much as I would care for my own. I will be your life insurance.” And because they had a history of genuine sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, I trusted what they said. From there, we began going to some of our friends in the congregation and expressing our commitment to them (something anyone can do).

And now this mentality is spreading. New life is permeating the church as individuals are backing up their words with sacrifice. Cars and homes are being sold or given away. Expensive vacations are joyfully replaced with spending on others. People are being taken into homes-not only for meals, but to live. It’s still the beginning of the process, and most people probably still come for the teaching or the music, but there’s a growing number at our church who are coming to be with their church family and they don’t care about who’s teaching or leading music.

Something real was happing in the early Church. It was something of the Spirit, too powerful to be replicated by human effort. Imagine taking a friend to one of their church gatherings. Your friend might not experience a smoothly run, professional service. But one thing he would experience: God. Do we even need to ask which is better? So much of church growth today has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. The right team of talented people can make any church grow. When people sit through creative services, is it really God they’re experiencing?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give our best to God. If you’re a musician, work diligently at your music. If you’re a teacher, labor intensely over your messages. I’m just asking you to be willing to rethink what you’re doing and ask: How can we create a more biblical environment where people see and experience God?

I’m reminded of the story of Gideon in Judges 7. God tells Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.” (Judges 7:2-3)

If you remember the story, God then reduced the army to 300 soldiers. God did not just defeat the Midianites-He was careful to do it in a way that gave Him all the glory. He did not want to allow Israel to boast “that her own strength has saved her.”

May people see our churches and know that mere human beings could not have created what they experienced. May we seek the priorities of the early church and trust God to once again produce the fruit of the early Church.

“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)

Francis Chan is the pastor of Cornerstone Church and the president of Eternity Bible College in Simi Valley. In addition to being a pastor, Francis speaks to thousands of youth throughout the U.S., challenging them to deeper commitment. He can be heard on his radio program “Truth Be Known.” Francis has a great sense of humor, a genuine love for Christ, and a commitment to teach straight from the Word of God. Francis and his wife Lisa have been married for twelve years and have three daughters and one son: Rachel, mercy, Eliana, and Ezekiel. He is a graduate of the Master’s College and Seminary.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Just some stuff on my mind…..

Just thought I’d share a few things that have been on my mind lately and I’d like to get off my chest.

The Other Door
I went to lunch with some co-workers recently and the door to the restaurant had a sign on it that read “Please Use Other Door”. Well, there were a few “other doors” to choose from and the store front layout of this place did not make it easy to locate the correct door. My suggestion to anyone who posts a sign that says “Please Use Other Door” would to also post a similar sign on the correct door that reads “THIS IS THE OTHER DOOR”. It sure would be helpful.

Stimulus Money
This bailout stuff is really starting to get on my nerves. I cannot understand how so many people can be so stupid. Especially our so-called elected officials. Whether you call it stimulus, bailout, or economic recovery, it is all going to lead us to the same place. What is really happening is that they are putting money into the economy by taking money out of the economy, then putting that same money back into the economy and taxing it as it passes through. Sheer stupidity.
Would you like to know how to really stimulate the economy? I’m glad you asked. I’d be happy to tell you. (and, by the way, had you elected me as President, this is what would be going on instead).
First, instead of bailing out the major corporations (banks, mortgage lenders, etc.), I would put all those executives in jail for the illegal mishandling of the funds they were entrusted with. Those guys got rich while their companies, clients and investors went broke. They themselves screwed up and should be held accountable.
Second, lower gas prices. Please don’t whine to me about the oil companies and their problems! If they can run the price of gas above $4 per gallon and show record profits, then they can surely drive the price of a gallon of gas to below one dollar! Then, start drilling in ANWR and under the Colorado Rockies. Sarah Palin already thinks we should be drilling in ANWR, and that is in her home state. There’s more oil under the Rockies than in the entire middle east, so what are we waiting for? Oil production in Alaska hasn’t bothered the caribou any, so why should some dumb mountain goats mind either? By lowering gas prices and increasing domestic production, those middle-eastern guys will have no choice but to lower their prices as well in order to keep up.
Lower gas prices will also bring down the price of just about everything else (all that stuff that went UP when the gas prices increased last year), which means people will start buying more. When people start buying more stuff, the demand will increase, which will stabilize prices, create or reinstate more jobs, which puts people back to work, and drastically slows down the rate of inflation. Right now, by pumping more money into the economy, only serves to reduce the value of that dollar in your pocket. Bring prices down and let people EARN things, then the economy will stabilize and recover.

Social Security and Health Care
My recommendation is to take away that golden umbrella and put our elected officials (all of them) on the same system as the rest of us, and then watch how fast they fix it!

About Christians
Okay, so I started by just blowing off some steam and I got a little carried away. Being a Christian means to be “Christ-Like”. Yeah, I know, it isn’t easy and it is much easier said than done. But if you are going to cut me off in traffic, swear at other drivers, flip the finger at people, and drive like a maniac, then please go get some warm water and a razor blade and scrape that “Honk If You Love Jesus” bumper sticker off your car. And please remove that plastic chrome plated Jesus fish symbol while you are at it.
And please, I beg you, if you are only going to act nice to people, and put on your “Christian face” only on Sundays, then please don’t tell anyone that you are a Christian. Because, quite frankly, dude, you are bad for business.
Jesus told us to follow Him. To be like Him and to tell others about Him (sometimes using words) all the time. Not just when we feel like it.
I’d heard it said that the two main reasons that most people do not come to Christ is
1) They have not yet met a Christian, and
2) They HAVE met a Christian.
I had a conversation this morning with a guy who is struggling with accepting Christ because of the church people he has met who don’t practice what they preach. He feels God tugging at him, but he cannot ignore what he sees around him.

Why is it that the people who mean the most to you, that you love more than anyone or anything, that should love you back the same way, still feel the need to lie to you?

I’m just saying….


I so very thankful that God has placed in my life a few men who are allowed access to see into the very core of my heart and hold me accountable. These are some great men and are what true friends are really all about.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
JOHN 14:27