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6/29/12

LESSONS FROM CASH

I've had the pleasure of having an almost-2 year old as a houseguest for the last week.  He's Cash Allen, my grandson from Oklahoma.  Needless to say, it's been a while since my house has been inhabited (or should I say, taken over) by a 2 year old.  It's DIFFERENT!  But, I've observed him long enough to learn a few things.
1.  Questions are good.  He's not embarrassed about what he doesn't know.  He asks questions...constantly...endlessly.  Did I say constantly?
2.  People are most important.  Most of those questions involve "Where is...?  Why?  Where did they go?  When are they coming back?
3.  Love is unconditional.  Kisses and hugs are the norm.  Even if you're an inanimate object.
4.  Go till you drop, then drop.  Work hard, play hard, live hard...then crash and rest, so you can start it all over again.
Let's face it, sometimes we can learn more from these little guys than we teach them.  Sorry, gotta go till I drop!

6/28/12

LIFE RHYTHMS

Ever thought about life having a rhythm?  Those who are musically inclined may relate to that better than others, but even those who can't carry a tune can listen to a band and tell when one musician is totally out of sync with the rest of the gang.  It doesn't matter how good the rest of the band is, one bad drummer can spoil the whole barrel.  You just want to speed him up or slow him down.  Being out of rhythm is a KILLER.

What's true for the band is true for us as well.  It's easy, if we're not careful, to get out of the rhythm that God has created for us.  Think of God as the Master Conductor and we're all part of a massive symphony.  The piece we're performing is called, LIFE.  Follow the conductor and we make beautiful music.  Go at your own pace and you have a mess.

Two things Jesus did to exemplify how to be in rhythm:

1.  He observed a sabbath.  One out of seven days was a day of rest, relaxation, recreation and reflection.  Even the God of the Universe paused weekly.  We tend to think of the sabbath as something to complete and check off our to-do list.  If I can get to church for an hour, I'm good.

No, that's not it.  God knew you needed a day to pause from whatever you do.  A day to worship, but also to rest and recreate and relax and recharge.  Don't make that a priority and you're out of rhythm.

2.  From time to time he got away.  This was an extended Sabbath.  He needed to get away form it all...from the demands of life, from the people that had expectations of him, from his daily schedule, from life.  Extended time away is a necessity, not a convenience.

Get out of rhythm, all you make is noise.  Get in rhythm and make beautiful music.

6/27/12

BODY TALK

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity of leading another STARTING POINT 101 Class. I get to talk about our church...where it came from, how it operates, and how you can become involved.  One thing I stress is that the church is a BODY.  One thing about a BODY is that its made up of many parts, all of which need to function for maximum health.  In a local church that means EVERYONE SERVES.  EVERYONE DOES SOMETHING.  EVERYONE USES THEIR GIFTS.

Oftentimes we choose default areas of service based on gender.  EXAMPLE: "I'm a woman...I guess I could work with babies or serve coffee."  "I'm a guy...I guess I could tear down things or work in the parking lot."  Sound familiar?  Those are fine choices, but maybe we need to skip the default and look outside our gender-induced assumptions.

ROCK THE ROLES
What if guys thought, "I think I'll work with kids...can't stand 'em, but what the heck."  Then what would happen is a lot of little boys, some with no male role models would discover that this Christian stuff is for guys and not just girls, girls and more girls!"

What if women thought, "I think I'll work in the parking lot...maybe drive that golf cart."  Then when a single mom with three kids rolls up and sees another female face motoring toward her, she'll feel like this person probably understands better than anyone what she's going through right then and there.  Big relief.

When you think ministry (and you should), think outside your gender box.  You could rock somebody's world!

6/26/12

TALK TO ME

Tell me you favorite Jesus story.  I want to hear from you.  One of my favorite Jesus stories is when the woman is caught in adultery and he says that whoever is without sin may cast the first stone.  But, first, he writes in the sand.  What do you think he wrote?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

6/25/12

Leadership Summit

Saturday morning, I met with about 60 leaders from our church.  In and of itself, that's pretty cool.  But, this was a day when we were  unveiling some changes.  Not always the favorite thing for most folks (change).  Nobody likes when you move their cheese.  But, we have leaders who "get it".  They don't simply look at what's changing, but the reason behind the change.

In this case, the changes were precipitated by either our ability to grow deeper in Christ, grow numerically as a church or do things with greater excellence.  RESULT: No problems.  If it means we fulfill our mission, let's do it.  Bring it on!

That's the kind of leaders we have at Crosspoint Church.  They don't do church for their convenience, but for the glory of God.  Pretty cool.  Bet other pastors are jealous!

6/24/12

TODAY IS THE DAY!

This morning at Crosspoint Church we'll be celebrating baptisms.  A whole bunch of them!  NOTHING excites me like people going public with their faith.  I love to hear their stories of how they came to embrace Christ and follow him and obey him.  AWESOME!!!!  Let's get this PARTY STARTED!!

We continue putting the microscope on the life of Jesus in #jesusstuff.  Today we look at Jesus going postal in the Temple.  GOOD AND MAD.  Can you be both...GOOD and MAD?  We'll see.

6/23/12

Today/Tomorrow

Today I'm meeting with all the great leaders of our church to discuss where we go from here.  Churches, like people, must constantly change in order to grow.  Growth is change and change is growth.  It's not an option, just a fact.  We have great leaders with great hearts to see God use our church to reach people for his glory.  I'm excited to be with them.

Tomorrow, we'll continue looking at the liFe of Jesus with the series #jesusstuff.  But, one very special part of our service tomorrow will be BAPTISM.  We'll have the ultimate joy of experiencing almost 20 people GOING PUBLIC with Jesus.  Lives are changing at Crosspoint Church.  DO NOT MISS IT!!!

6/21/12

#jesusstuff

A:  OK, role reversal.  My turn to ask the questions.  Here it is...Did Jesus have a sense of humor?  Easy to see him smiling at children, but did he ever laugh?  He got invited to a lot of parties, but did he ever tell a joke?  What do you think?  I'd like to hear what you think and why.

6/20/12

#jesusstuff

Here's one from me...

Q:  What about when Jesus cleared the temple, turning over everything and whipping people?  It appears he lost his temper, but that would be a sin and he didn't sin.  How do you reconcile that?

A:  It would appear that Jesus really lost it in the temple.  FLIP, the switch went on and BOOYAH, Jesus goes postal in the temple.  Breaking news at 10:00!  Is that how it happened?  That's certainly what I believed.  But, are there clues to the truth that we're overlooking?  No matter what the truth is, what does it say about anger and temper and us?

All those are great questions...and I'm going to deal with every one of them this Sunday.  The answers might surprise you.  Don't dare miss it!

6/19/12

#jesusstuff

Q:  Why did blood and water come from Jesus' side on the cross?

A:  When someone was crucified, we tend to assume they died from the terrors and trauma of the crucifixion itself.  However, that is a misnomer.  Death by crucifixion was actually torture that consummated in asphyxiation....death by the inability to breathe.  The victim was required to pull himself up in order to take a breath.  When his strength was gone, he would no longer be able to pull himself into a position to inhale, therefore, cutting off his air supply and killing him.

If the Romans wanted to expedite or assure death, they would break the legs, making it impossible for the victim to push up and gain breath.  Then death was either proven or quickly facilitated.  In Jesus case, however, the legs were not broken for some strange, unexplained reason.  Instead, a spear was forced into his side to provide proof of death.  This accomplished two things: 1.  It unknowingly fulfilled prophecy that "no bone of his body would be broken".  2.  It revealed something about the cause of death.  The heart is surrounded by a sack called the pericardium.  During great physical stress, like would be experienced during a crucifixion, the pericardium would begin to fill with fluid.  When the spear was thrust into Jesus side, the pericardium was pierced.  Therefore, water flowed from the wound.  However, scripture states that blood and water flowed from his side.  The explanation for that is one of two things.  Either the spear pierced the pericardium and the actual heart itself, or the heart had actually burst and the blood filling the heart was mixed with the water of the pericardium and both flowed out together.  If the latter were the case, the cause of death for Jesus would have been a heart that had literally burst.  I guess another way of saying it would be that he died of a "broken heart", literally and figuratively.

6/18/12

#jesusstuff

Q:  Remember when Jesus was told that his family was outside wanting him and he said I am with my family, the disciples. Did he have conflict with his family? Did Mary and Joseph believe he was the son of God? What does this say about honoring your father and mother?


A:  Well, we have several questions here.  First, I think it says less about what he thought about his earthly family, and more about what he thought about his commitment and connection to us, his followers.  I don't believe Jesus' intention was to show any lack of respect to his family, even though they, at that time, seem to be showing him a lack of respect.  They appear to be thinking he was losing it and wanted to take him away.  Jesus' response was both practical and theologically correct.  As the Son of God, those that would truly be his family eternally, would not simply be those that were family members, but, rather, those that believed in him and put their faith in him.  In the instance you mention here, those he was with were, indeed, more family to him than his siblings who were casting doubt on him.  


Remember, too, that Jesus had earthly parents to obey, but also a heavenly Father to obey...just as we do.  In several cases that may have been in conflict (i.e.: teaching at the Temple), but Jesus always managed to respect the authority of his parents (he left when they asked him to), while at the same time obeying his heavenly Father (he taught in the Temple).


We don't know much about Joseph after Jesus' birth.  I'm sure that Mary was like any other woman, sometimes full of faith and sometimes full of doubts that HER son could actually be the Messiah.  She was human, just like you and I.  


I'm sure Jesus had conflict with his siblings.  Know any family that doesn't?  He was the kid that slept in their bunk bed, shared a room, played hide-and-seek, got splinters in his hands and jumped in mud puddles.  How could he be the Son of God?  He was just their brother.  Talk about sibling rivalry!  Sure he was the oldest and maybe mom's favorite...but God?  Come on!!!

6/17/12

#jesusstuff (Father's Day Version)

No, I haven't forgotten how to type.  Actually, I never really knew.  But, that's another subject altogether.  My blogging exodus can be attributed mainly to internet problems I encountered at Student Camp.  The Inbox worked fine, but the Outbox was nonexistent.  Made it difficult, to say the least.

Tomorrow, we'll hit the #jesusstuff questions hot and heavy, but for now, let me just say it's great to be home, your kids really rock, and tell your dad you love him...BIG.  By the way, he's not so interested in the tie you get him or the after shave, or the card you spent 20 minutes picking out, as much as he is your telling him how much you love hime and respect him and that you're grateful to God that he picked you to be his kid.  That's what he really wants for Father's Day....and an iPad.

6/8/12

#jesusstuff

I asked you what you would do as your first miracle if you were Jesus.  I got answers like, feed someone, heal someone...but that wasn't Jesus' first miracle.  Not even close.  Every time I think I've got Jesus nailed, he totally blows me out of the saddle.  I'm convinced Jesus is the most interesting and misunderstood man in history.

This weekend at CrosspointChurch.tv we'll be looking at the surprising Jesus that few of us know.  I really hope you'll join us.  I promise you you'll leave with a new appreciation for Jesus and a new challenge to understand this guy.

6/7/12

#jesusstuff

I have a question for you.  Everyone knows that you only get one chance to make a first impression.  So, for one moment, put yourself in Jesus' shoes.  You're the Son of God.  You've lived on this earth for 30 years.  Now it's time to begin your earthly ministry.  WHAT'S THE FIRST MIRACLE YOU DO?  Could be anything.  So, what miracle would you do to kick it all off?  

Don't leave me hanging.  Don't get all super spiritual.  Just tell me the truth...your first miracle.  What is it?

6/6/12

#jesusstuff

     I've been writing answers to your questions about Jesus for some time now.  Pretty simple scenario.  I appreciate your questions and hope you've enjoyed my answers.  But, that's kind of where it's all come to an end.  You act...Questions....I respond...Answers....then, that's it.  No Reaction.  I'd like more of a conversation.  I'd like to hear your reactions.  What do you think?
     You've had the chance to shoot some questions and read my answers, but I'm dying to know what your reactions are to my answers.  I'd like this to be more of a conversation than Tom the Bible Answer Man.
     So, I want some response.  I know you're out there.  I think you're out there.  OK, maybe no ones out there.  Maybe I'm talking to the Twitter Black Hole.  Bottom line:  I've been doing all the talking.  Now you talk.  Say something.  Anything.  HELLO!...IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?
    I love it.  I hate it.  You're wrong!  You're mother dresses you funny.  Get a haircut!  Whatever you think, I'd like to hear from you.  Questions.  Comments.  Complaints.  Anything.
     I'll be waiting anxiously!

6/5/12

#jesusstuff

Question: Where do you believe Jesus went for the 3 days he was in the tomb? Do you think he actually went to hell as some say to get the "captives", or maybe the Holy Place that Heb. 9 talks about to pay our price with his blood?


Answer:  According to the Apostles Creed, upon his death, Jesus went straightway to Hell to fight for and achieve the release of all those who had died before his death and were thus being held captive in Hell.  


According to that belief, even those who were trusting in God, keeping his law and looking forward, by faith, to the Messiah, were sent to Hell.  Not some nice corner of Hell, just until this all gets figured out, like a person who's been wrongly imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit...it's just a misunderstanding that should be cleared up soon.  No, these aren't people awaiting trial.  They've been tried, convicted and sentenced.  It's over.  Then Jesus walks in and does a little MMA action on Satan, wins the match and his prize is to take whoever he wants outta there.


OK, nice picture.  Makes for some good preaching, great creeds and cool songs.  But, is it scriptural?  Take a look at Hebrews 11.  It's a roll call of faith.  It talks about those who lived totally by faith and their reward.  PROBLEM: A preponderance of those mentioned are from the Old Testament.  It talks about their faith and their rewards.  What kind of an award category does Hell fall into?  If Hell's a reward, I'm really hoping I lose that one.  


I believe it's more likely that Jesus walked into the place known by a number of terms...Abraham's bosom, Sheol, the grave. It's inhabitants lived by faith looking forward to the coming of the Messiah....died before he came on the scene and paid the price for their sins.  They obviously weren't held captive by Satan in Hell.  They weren't his property.  But, the price hadn't been paid yet for their ransom.  They were held captive by death.  Then, Jesus died for them and for the first time they, and we, could say, "Oh death, where is your sting?".  Gone.  Only Jesus had the power to set them free from the power of the grave and complete their faith journey home.  


People in Hell are Satan's property.  Jesus had these folks in law-away.  He paid the price and took them home.


Maybe they were at K-Mart?

6/4/12

#jesusstuff

Question:  Was jesus a pacifist?


Answer:  This is a common conclusion.  It's usually based on one statement he made about, "If someone slaps you on your cheek, turn to him the other cheek".  It's only natural from that statement to infer that Jesus was teaching pacifism.  However, to base an entire conclusion and point of theology on one single scripture is dangerous.  For instance:
*Was Jesus was referring to his followers individually or collectively?  That makes a big difference.
*Was Jesus referring to when someone attacks you personally, or when someone would unjustly attack another?  Is this a command to simply stand by and be inactive when we see a rape in progress or an old lady being robbed?
*Was Jesus suggesting that we not defend our country?  If so, participation in the military would be precluded.  In fact,  a military would be unnecessary for a Christian nation.
*Is war justifiable, or does this preclude war as well?  Is there such a thing as a "just war"?


Bottom line:  What I believe Jesus was teaching was not pacifism, but control.  If someone slaps you on your cheek, you have choices.  You can allow it to take over emotionally, strike back and watch things escalate...or you can do the unthinkable...the abnormal...you can calmly say, "Would you like to try the other one too?".  Rather than being controlled by the situation, your emotions and your anger, you can have total control of the situation and respond in a way only possible for someone who is controlled by the Spirit of God.  


This, I believe, in no way precludes defending oneself, others or a nation.  Pacifist...no.  Unique...yes.
#templetableturner

6/3/12

#jesusstuff

Question:  How did Jesus deal with people who lived a sinful lifestyle? Did he run them out of church until they quit sinning?

Answer:  Actually, that's a pretty tough question.  The bottom line is that Jesus didn't have this cookie-cutter method for dealing with people living sinful lives.  There would be times he would deal with someone in open, disgusting sinfulness and simply tell them, "Go and sin no more".  Other times he would deal with people who had life-altering conditions, heal them and then say, "Your sins are forgiven".  

Just when you think you've got him figured out he meets with Nicodemus and tells him, "You must be born again".  What happened to "Go and sin no more"?  And then he deals with the Pharisees and he treats them like red-headed step-children.  He's on them like white on rice.  Not one ounce of sweetness, grace or forgiveness.  Rather than forgiving them and restoring them he calls them names like...a bunch of snakes, white-washed tombs full of dead mens bones, and dirty cups.  None of these were compliments.

Speaking of running out of church, he did do that thing where he actually made a whip and literally whipped people out of the temple for making it a circus rather than the place of worship it was intended to be.  So, I guess he does have some record of running some folks out.  

Let me take you back to one instance with Jesus.  A man approached him and said he wanted to follow him.  Jesus said sure, there's just one stipulation: You have to sell everything you own and give it to the poor and follow me.  That is very strange, because Jesus had never made that a stipulation for following him with anyone else.  Where'd the new rule come from?  The scripture explains it.  This guy had a lot of money and his security was obviously his money.  Jesus was able to see his heart.  That's the key to understanding this.  He saw that his money was more important to him than Jesus.  You don't have to give away all your money to follow Jesus.  You just have to put everything in second place.  It's a matter of the heart.

Long way to get to an answer, but I think you want the truth.  Jesus calls everyone to follow him.  Sinners all.  He loves sinners.  That's all he's got to work with, after all.  But here's the catch.  

1)  Jesus didn't expect godly behavior out of godless people.  We sometimes mess up there.  If you've never tasted of God's love and grace, there's no reason to expect a changed life.

2)  For those who claimed to be right with God and represented themselves according, the expectation level went up.  If you claim to be a child of God, you better have a life that is bearing the fruit of such claims.  Jesus had no time for open hypocrisy and double-standards.  

Would he kick out openly sinful seekers...no.  Would he kick out openly sinful saints who justified and excused their sin...probably.

6/2/12

#jesusstuff

Question:  Matthew 26:39 – 42 Garden of Gethsamane
Is Jesus’ will different from God the Father’s will?


Answer:  When we look at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we have to remember that he is God, but he is a man as well.  In fact, as a man, to truly experience everything that goes along with being a man, he has set aside the privileges of being God.  That means as God he is omnipresent.  As man, he can only be in one place at a time.  As God he was omniscient (knew all things).  But as man, he didn't know everything.  In fact, at times he states there are particular things that he does not know. (He stated that he didn't know the time or day of his return.  Only the Father knew that.)  

As a man, he also had a natural aversion to death.  He did not desire to die.  He, especially, did not want to go through the agony of a crucifixion.  He asked God, the Father, if there was any other way to ransom mankind, please take that option, but more importantly, if there wasn't he would willingly go through with it.  His desire was to a) ransom mankind and b) obey God, the Father.

In a sense, God the man didn't want to die.  Yet, he yielded to the will of God, the Father, who was not ladened with the human limitations and will.

6/1/12

#jesusstuff

Question: One that i have trouble understanding. Is drinking wine or alcohol a sin? It is written about many times through out the bible. As this seems to be somewhat of a misunderstood topic throughout Christians today?

Answer: I grew up being taught that drinking alcohol was wrong.  Sinners do that.  Since this is a series entitled #jesusstuff, we're centering in on Jesus and what he taught.  Well, for starters, let's begin with   Jesus' first miracle.  He's at a wedding and they run out of wine.  Some will say, "that wasn't real wine...it was just grape juice".  Well, as you read the story, it states that they they usually brought out the lower quality wine after everyone had had too much to drink.  Hmmm.  Never knew grape juice to have that effect.  So, Jesus made more wine.  He made a lot more wine.  

OK, now it gets even tougher...he was called a wine-bibber.  Not a term common to us.  So, what does it mean?  It means someone who consistently drank too much wine.  OK, before you go wild with that, the ones who called him that called him everything in the book.  These weren't his friends.  They misunderstood him.  They lied about him.  But, there has to be some reason they chose to call him that particular name.  

Bottom line: He wasn't PROHIBITION JESUS.  Like it or not, that's the Jesus of the Bible.  He did not come to make alcohol a key cornerstone of his message.  The Bible strictly condemns drunkenness and  tells us not to drink alcohol if it causes anyone to have a problem.  But, Jesus was a wine-maker (See John 2), and a good one.