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Posts from July 2009

Forgiveness Is Not About Feelings! It's a Command.

As Americans, we hold fast to our rights.  This is difficult as Christians.  For, as Christians, we are supposed to surrender our rights to God.  That's why it's sometimes to difficult to live wholly surrendered to Him.  We keep hearing that we have a right to this and that and the Holy Spirit is saying "Really?  I thought you surrendered your life to Christ?"

Last night I led a Bible study on the concept of forgiveness.  I had a great time leading it, but I realized pretty quickly that I was going to be moving quickly away from "head knowledge-status quo" type of teaching. 

I believe God was using this time to rearrange some beliefs and possibly step on some toes.

We have a great group of folks at our church, but I'm not naive.  I know there are some that just don't quite "get" what I'm doing and, honestly, aren't totally supportive of my leading the church to be more missional.  I used to take it personally until I realized that they are really just bitter and don't like much of anything.  They didn't like the previous pastor much either and have become known more for their negativity than their spirtuality among the congregation.  I referenced them last night as disgruntled fish.  They used to be big fish in a little pond and I believe would rather the pond always stay little.  Too bad. . .the kingdom of God is growing around them.

So what's going on their hearts? 

That's a question that has come up in my mind often.  Last night, it hit me.  It was as if God was saying "Here's the deal."  These folks, like me at times, have believed the lie and the Liar.  They are becoming bitter because they are harboring unforgiveness.  Worse than that - they are believing they have a right to and have even "spiritualized" their feelings.  Ah, the Enemy at work.Now, I'm not throwing stones here.  I realized last night that I, too am guilty of this. 

Let me tell you, when God reveals the sin in your own heart and you repent of it, it's as if a great weight has been lifted off.  I have done this and pray others will as well.

I read through the passages of Matthew 18 and the parable where Jesus told of the land owner who forgave his servant.  This servant then went out and did not forgive another servant.  The story is simple, but relevant.

God is the master in the parable.

We are the forgiven, yet unforgiving servant.

God forgives our sins based on His love and the death of Christ - the payment.

We forgive others based on our depravity.

How can we not forgive knowing that we have had all our sins forgiven?

It's not about feelings, because we rarely feel like forgiving others when they have hurt us.

It's about obedience.  Read the parallel story in Luke 17.  Christ was pretty blunt and to the point - forgiveness is our command.

But why do we have such a hard time with this?  I believe it is because we don't know what forgiveness truly is.  Forgiveness is not telling the one who hurt you that what they did was OK.  Forgiveness is saying that you choose not to hold it against them.

"Forgive and forget" is the theme we all hear, but is that really possible?  No.  Some say that God forgets our sins.  Really?  The omniscient, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe forgets?  No.  Rather, He chooses not to hold our sins against us.  It is "as if" He has forgotten them and separated us from our sin as far as "the east is from the west."

Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and realizing after the fact that the prisoner was you.

We're Number One. . . .Twenty!

As many of you know, I graduated from the University of North Texas (not North Texas State University - they changed the name to UNT when I started there as a junior.)  UNT has much notoriety in the world of music (multiple Grammy's for the Lab Band and accolades for numerous artists.)  We're known as the alma mater for such notables as Larry McMurtry (author of Lonesome Dove,) Phyllis George (who was on the NFL Live years ago,) Norah Jones, Dr. Phil, and Mean Joe Greene.

11.10.07UNTvsNavy_TeamGreeted_123 The UNT athletic program has had it's ups and downs.  There have been highlights.  When the football team moved to the Sun Belt Conference, it found success.  I believe it was three years in a row that UNT was the Sun Belt rep in the New Orleans Bowl.  Now, this is not a BCS bowl game (far from it) but at least it was a bowl.  For some reason a few years ago, the athletic department decided to no longer refer to the team by the mascot it's had for years (Eagles) but to go by a nickname that developed decades ago.  Now, we're known as the Mean Green, except for the lady athletic teams, which I think are still called Lady Eagles.  Confusing.

I just saw the ranking of all Division I NCAA football programs and this year, under the coaching of third year coach Todd Dodge, my beloved Mean Green are number 120.  Wow!  What makes this more interesting is when you realize there are only 120 teams in Division I.  At least we make Idaho feel good.  They're number 119.

I knew not to get my hopes up when I received a Twitter update from the alumni site that said "2009 football wallpapers available online.  We may win 3 games this year so download now.  These are going to be hot."  Hmmm.  Three games.  I downloaded the wallpaper - the "football" wallpaper and noticed right off that three wallpapers downloaded.  One had the cheerleaders on it.  One had a guy running across the field with the UNT flag on it and one had football players (they weren't playing - just jumping up.)  Then I saw the schedule.  Whew.  Bet that game against Alabama is going to be fun.  At least we'll make some bucks.

The other day I was flipping channels and noticed the old Scott Bakula film with Sinbad and Kathy Ireland called "Necessary Roughness" was on.  Not a great movie, but it was filmed at UNT.  Maybe we should do what they did in the film, go find a 30 year old quarterback and a supermodel place kicker.  Couldn't hurt.

There's always next year.  Who knows?  If we do win those three games, we may jump up over Idaho.

Preaching at the Haitian Church

Last night I was given the honor of preaching the message at our Haitian Church's revival service.  For this week's revival meetings, the Haitian Church has been meeting in our Worship Center.  Though the building is First Baptist Church's, we were the guests last night.

We talk of going overseas on international mission trips and how to engage different cultures, but last night reminded me that international ministry is available right here at home.  Of course, I knew this, but it's good to have an "in your face" reminder every now and then.

Services are a little different.  The start time was 6pm, but we began around 6:15pm.  No need to start until the people show up, right?  In our services, we'll plan for about 20-30 minutes of worship through song.  The Haitian Church provided an hour and a half.  This was surprising to many in our congregation who stayed. 

The thing about the singing was the evidence of God working through their music.  There was joy and hope and excitement.  I recognized a few of the hymns and sang along in English.  I figure God translates all these songs as we go anyway.  I also was reminded that "Hallelujah" is the same in English and Creole and just about every other language.  Made me feel multi-lingual just by saying that word.

Overall it was a great experience.  I pray the message, through translator, was clear.  Trusting God to make it so.

The Haitians will be meeting again tonight and Friday.  Sunday evening we are hosting an ordination service for one of the young men in the church.  We're planning this service, so there won't be an hour and half of music (I don't think I know that many songs,) and are proud and honored to be able to offer this.  Hope to see you Sunday evening at 6pm.

"Africa" by Perpetuum Jazzile

From the Kim Komando Web Site:

This fun YouTube video features a 1980s pop classic. The rock band Toto scored their biggest hit with Africa in 1982. The song is instantly recognizable. But it has been reinvented.

Perpetuum Jazzile is an a cappella jazz choir from Slovenia. It’s hard to think of something further from an ‘80s rock band. But their version of Africa may best the original. The group has amazing voices.

But the beginning of this video is really striking. Group members simulate an African thunderstorm with their hands. It’s really something to see and hear.

Never Forgotten

During WWII the Marines landed on Makin Island to fight the occupying Japanese.  A number of Marines were killed and as the Marines left the island, they didn't have time to gather their dead.  They asked the tribespeople to bury the dead.  In the late 1990s, the Marines returned and brought the dead Marines bodies back to the States.  This is a moving video.

News Headlines that Caught My Eye

In this age of tweets and brief news updates, I rarely read an entire news article.  I know this isn't good, but I have found this to be a trend for me.  I'll even read 90% but skip the last paragraph or so.  I have found that more often than not I'm just reading headlines.  Here are some just from today that caught my eye.