May 23, 2008

Obey His Commands

Last week I started looking at a very key verse in the book of Joshua:

Joshua 22:5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul."

This is a warning that Joshua is giving to all the people. His cautions them to keep the commandment and the law that Moses had given to them. This was the law that Moses had received directly from God. Joshua then broke it down for them into 5 simple parts. He told them to first love the LORD your God. Then he told them to walk in all his ways.

The third thing was to obey his commands. God has given us His Word as a guidebook for our lives. There are principles for living throughout this book that will only lead us in the right direction. But what good is reading and memorizing God’s Word if we don’t obey? We must faithfully obey his commands – no matter what. I guess it must seem obvious that keeping the commandment would include obeying his commands. But for many, this must not be so obvious.

Many look at the Bible, and Christianity, and think it is just a list of a bunch of rules, a list of do's and dont's. How can a Christian ever enjoy life, if all they ever have time to do is try to obey all the commands. They say Christianity is too restricting, a joy-killer, all about taking fun our of life.

But the reality is, rules are good. Rules actually give us freedom. Let me explain. I drive a car, on the road, just about every day. I noticed a solid double yellow line down the middle of the road. I'm sure we all know what that is there for. But suppose I decided one day that the double yellow line was just too restrictive - a joy-killer! I don't have to follow that rule, I just want to have fun! In fact, I don't even have to stay on this road! Who made these rules anyway? I just want to have fun!

Of course we all know what would happen. I, or someone else, would certainly get killed or seriously injured when my car collided with another, or a tree, or a house...

Rules are not there to ruin our lives. They are there for our own good, our own freedom. God knows what we need. God, the creator of the universe, has given us commands that are for our own good. He wants us to be successful…and we will only experience victory through obedience to Him.

May 22, 2008

Answering Oprah

We had such a great night last night at church. I started a new series called "Answering Oprah." We are taking a look at the teachings that Oprah has been promoting lately - the teachings of Eckhart Tolle in his book A New Earth.

Oprah is a powerful woman. She has accomplished a lot in her lifetime. She has come a long way, overcoming many obstacles to get to where she is now. I admire her for several reasons. She is a great communicator, a wonderful giver, and she has the ability to lead many people. She has a huge influence.

My problem is not that Oprah has this kind of power. The problem is what she is teaching. The philosophies and ideas that she is putting out and promoting are not new. They have been around for centuries. And sadly, they are all a lie. She has deceived many people. She has herself been deceived.

Oprah's teachings are largely based on the New Age Movement. There are many suttle, underlying elements to this that most people who call themselves Christians are going to buy right into. The things she says sound right at first. But just lift the covers, and underneath is a world of deception.

I hope you'll try to join us over the next several weeks as we take a look at what the NEw Age Movement is really all about, and how deceptive it all really is.

May 19, 2008

Luke Worm

I love it when my kids pay attention in church. It is so great to watch them learn. It gives me a sense that Nancy and I are doing something right. So when Garren (11) came home from church yesterday with the notes he had taken, it was really cool.

Pastor Rob spoke on Tough Choices, a new series about making everyday choices as Christ followers that can make a huge difference in our lives and in the world. He talked about 'fence-sitters,' and 'fat Christians.' He talked about the dangers of being lukewarm.

Garren apparently heard 'luke worm.' Here are his notes:

Walk in All His Ways

The natural result of love for God is a desire to walk in His ways. Joshua reminded the people to walk the all of God’s ways (Joshua 22:5). Love Him, and walk in His ways.
This is what it means to be in God’s will. If God is so good and loving, why does He allow such horrible things to happen? We look at the senseless murder of two innocent children and we say “Why God?” We may never know the answer to such questions. But if we love God, we must trust Him. If we trust Him and love Him, then we must walk in all his ways, wherever those ways might lead. Wherever that takes us.
We tend to look at our lives and think: “I did everything I was supposed to do, why did this happen?” That is not trust in God. The correct, and I’ll be the first to admit, most difficult thing to say is this: “I love you Lord, and I lift my soul to worship you. I trust that you are in control. I wish I didn’t have to go through this pain, but because you are God, I will trust you, and I will walk in the way that you lead me.”

Remember the words of the beloved Psalm 23:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

The Great Shepherd leads and guides us, not just through good times, but through the tough times as well. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will trust in Him. Even when life seems to be caving in all around us, God is leading us. Trust Him. Follow Him. Lean on Him only. There is no hope anywhere else. No other religion or system of belief gives any hope in troubled times.

We must not only love God, but walk in all His ways. And this can only truly happen when we obey His commands.

May 13, 2008

Love the LORD Your God

What does that even mean? Especially if you are a regular church goer, or seasoned Christ follower. Of course we're suppose to love God! Duh! But have you ever thought about how? What does this really look like?

Whenever I try to understand the how of my relationship and interaction with God, I often try to think of it in terms of a relationship with another person. My wife, my children, my family, or even friends. How do I show my love to these? I think one of the most important things to do here is to get to know the person you are trying to love. How could I ever say that I love my wife, if I never even knew her? You can't love someone without knowing them. And the longer I know my wife, the more I love her. Why? Because I continue to learn more about her, about her amazing personality, about her hopes, and desires. And the more I get to know about her, the more I love her.

How well do you know God? Of course, we're supposed to love Him. But you can't really love someone you don't know. Think about God for a moment:

He is our hope. He is our creator. Without Him we have nothing. Without Him we cease to exist. We owe Him everything, and more. We cannot repay Him for who He is or what He has done. Love the LORD your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. Trust in the LORD with all you heart, lean not on your own understanding. Seek Him first. Love is trusting Him. Love is giving sacrificially, with no regard for self. Love God first and foremost.

“How do I love God?” – learn more about Him. Study His attributes. When you begin to discover the immensity of this amazing being, you will be blown away. When you realize that He gave everything just to have a relationship with you, you can do nothing more than love and worship Him with everything that is within you.

Study God. Meditate on God. Read His Word, over and over. Consider some of His attributes: God is omnipresent. That means that He is everywhere - all the time. There is nowhere God has never been. God doesn't go places, He's already there. God doesn't show up, He is everywhere all the time.

God is omnipotent. God is all-powerful. He created the universe out of nothing, just by speaking. God can do anything. Nothing is impossible. God holds the universe together. Without Him we cease to exists. God is perfect and complete power.

God is omniscient. He knows everything. God never learns anything new. God never forgets anything. His knowledge is complete. He has perfect knowledge. There is nothing that God doesn't already know.

On and on we could go. I challenge you to get a book and begin to study and meditate on the characteristics of God. As you get to know Him, your love for Him will grow. Nothing is as important as your love relationship with God.

We want to know God’s will for our lives. But we don’t even know God! Before you can know God’s will for your life you have to get to know God. As you align your desires with His, His desires will become the desires of your heart, and His will for your life will become apparent. Study God, study God’s Word. Get to know Him in a deep, intimate, personal way. That is how you begin to love God.

May 08, 2008


Monday I received a call from Conrad Sherland. His children, Alyssa (7) and Ryan (9) had been discovered Sunday night, murdered in their beds. I immediately went to his home, where I spent several hours with a very broken man. I and several others from our church have been ministering to Conrad and his family this week. It's been a rough ride.

I covet your prayers. Please pray for Conrad - for comfort, that he would truly trust God through this tragic time. Conrad is a believer in Christ. Please pray for me, for Mark and for Rob as we continue to meet with Conrad and his family. Please pray for the community, that healing would come quickly.

Here is the link to a website that has been set up in memory of these precious children.

The funeral will be held on Monday, May 12 at Southbrook Church. Visitation will begin at 1:30, and the service will begin at 3.

Joshua's Warning

When the Israelites conquered the land that God had promised to them, under the leadership of Joshua, there were two and a half tribes who opted to stay on the eastern side of the Jordan. Moses and Joshua had given them permission to do so on one condition – they were to help the rest of the nation conquer the entire land before they could return to their inheritance. So they did. They faithfully followed and fought alongside their brothers.

Once the work was done, and the people had all received their portion of the inheritance, it was time for the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to return home. In Joshua 22, Joshua sends them off with a warning and a blessing.

Joshua 22:5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul."

Joshua warns the people to "keep the commandment" that Moses had given to them. They must never turn away from the Word of God that had been given to them. They must never forget all that their God had done for them up until now - bringing them to victory over their enemies time and time again. "Be very careful to keep the commandment." Don't turn away from it.

Joshua then breaks it down into five things they are to do. Five things, that if kept faithfully, would continue to bring victory throughout every area of their lives. And these five things are as applicable to us today as they were 4000 years ago. They are:
  1. Love the LORD your God
  2. Walk in all His ways
  3. Obey His commands
  4. Hold fast to Him
  5. Serve Him with all your heart and all your soul
Over the next few days we'll be taking a look at each of these commands. If we will take them to heart, and apply them every day, God will truly do amazing things in and through each of us.

May 01, 2008

Night of Worship Reflections

Last night we had Night of Worship. We do these once a quarter. The purpose is two create a worship experience that will connect us with God in a special way. Last night was great.

We focused on the idea of treasures - what we value most. We looked at the story of Mary, when she anointed Jesus' feet with very costly perfume. The value of the perfume was equivalent to one year's wages. Today, in America, that translates to about $48,000! And she poured it out on Jesus' feet! What a waste?

That's what some of the disciples said. "That could have been sold and the money could have been used to feed the poor!" Jesus rebuked them. He said "The poor are always with you." If you want to feed the poor - go feed the poor. Mary had done a beautiful thing. She poured out what was most precious to her, and gave it all to Jesus.

What is most precious to you? What do you value? What can you pour out to Jesus? Is it money? Is it a relationship? For me, it was pride and self-righteousness. That's right - God showed me some people that I needed to apologize to. Some relationships that I needed to fix. So I did.

What do you need to pour out? What do you need to give up? Give it to Him today. He's waiting.