Archive for September, 2010

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. He said this, “I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘is-ness of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘ought-ness’ that forever confronts him.” I have shared this quote with many people over the past five years or so but have never attempted to explain why this statement so deeply resonates within me.

 The first time I read this quote I must have reread it ten times or so. I highlighted it in my book and then typed it out on my computer. I then printed it off my computer and hung it on the wall in front of my desk so that I could read it every day.

As an idealist and a person who quite often shares grand ideas with those around me, I found a simple truth to be true; most people are defeatist. I have seen the rolled eyes and heard the “yeah rights”. Usually they come from people who make a relatively small impact on the world around them. For rarely do people who believe change is not possible seek to initiate change. Therefore life goes on as normal in their world.

 The reason Dr. King’s quote so moves me is because he recognized the ability of man to make profound difference on the world. He did not allow his race or ungodly politics and social issues to dictate what he was capable of. He strove for something higher. He had a calling that was beyond even what he could dream of.

He got the fact that he did not have to be defined by oppression. He realized the condition of the society he lived in needed a change. It would not be convenient, fun, free from great pain, or a money making venture. Ultimately, it would take his life. Yet he pressed on.

 Another quote that moves me comes from a man by the name of Marcus Buckingham. He is an author and speaker and has spent many years doing research for Gallup Polls. He said this, “I am not satisfied. This is the mantra of the leader. As a leader you are never satisfied with the present, because in your head you can see a better future, and the friction between what is and what could be burns you, stirs you up, propels you forward. This is leadership.”

The concept of what is and what could be is a road many people rarely allow themselves to travel down. Yet, it is a road that they should travel down. I strongly believe it is a road that has been traveled by all who have achieved greatness in our history.

I just finished reading a book about Abraham Lincoln last week. Truthfully it was rather depressing. He lived a hard life from beginning to end. Yet even in the midst of hardship and great turmoil he had the unique ability to focus in on what he believed to be right. The civil war was all about preserving the union. It drove him, it got him out of bed in the morning. It would have been easy to quit but he could not. Why? Because in his mind’s eye, even when others failed to believe, he saw what could be.

I suppose if I wanted I could offer quote after quote and give illustration after illustration. Yet, I won’t. Rather than do that I will mention something I strongly believe. Christians need to apply these two quotes to how they live their lives. Do not be satisfied with the present state of our world. Do not allow what some would consider to be insurmountable odds to drive you to inaction. Focus on what can be.

The sad truth is many Christians fail to live biblically. They allow culture and family history to dictate how they live rather than on the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible. I have to wonder, what would happen if a few people dared to dream about how God really wanted them to live and how God really wanted to the church to function?

 I know, I risk sounding a bit like an extremist but when it boils down to it, wasn’t Jesus? We are told time after time in Scripture to follow His example. Wasn’t Paul an extremist? He himself tells his readers on more than one occasion to follow his example.

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Here is a fun did you know fact. 

I recently conducted a little mathematical problem.  I was curious how big a church would be in five years if every member in the church actually fulfilled the great commission. 

I started with a church of 200.  Then I assumed that all of these members led 1 person to the Lord.  I then assumed that the church was able to retain 50% of these new converts.  If a church did this effectively, then this church of 200 would be a church of 1517 at the end of 5 years!  

Impossible you say? Well, in Acts 2 we are told that the Lord added to the number of believers every day.  Perhaps many people don’t get saved on a regular basis because the church of the modern era does not function how Christ originally intended it to.

Interesting article in USA Today

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Thoughts
Tags: , ,

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html?em&exprod=myyahoo

I am curious what you think.  Is this biased reporting from a liberal paper or is this reality?

I am curious what those of you out in cyberspace think.
Tell me, who is really to blame for the moral downturn of our country?
Who is really to blame for the removal of God in our society?

Opinions welcome: Let’s dialogue.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found twas blind but now I see. 

As some of you read the first line of the hymn “Amazing Grace” you started singing the hymn or quietly humming it in your head.  Maybe you recalled the other lines of this song that were penned so long ago by the great hymn writer, John Newton

Yet for some of you the grace is not so amazing anymore.  In fact maybe it has become run of the mill and bit boring.  Sure you acknowledge its existence but fail to recognize it with any enthusiasm much less amazement.  Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself a bit.  I should probably start by sharing a simple definition of grace.  Grace is easily defined as unmerited favor.  In the context of Christianity we often refer to God’s grace.  Meaning God’s unmerited favor that is directed towards humanity by sending His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins which results in salvation.  The day I got this concept I was amazed.  I was overcome and overwhelmed by God’s goodness and that He would sacrifice His son for a person like me. 

Like many of you reading this today, I have lived close to Niagara Falls for most of my life.  I have been the falls dozens of times in my life and many times I have gone to the city and not bothered to even go and look at the falls.  I suppose my attitude has gone to the been there done that routine. 

This summer has changed my perspective somewhat on the falls.  I have made two trips to the falls.  The first trip was for a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist with my wife.  I promised her when we still dating that I would take her to the falls and that we would go on the Maid of the Mist.  She didn’t realize then that my promise would take eleven years to happen but I am a man of my word and I never did attach a timeline to my promise. 

The second trip I took was for my daughter’s birthday.  Each year we ask our children if there is anything special that they would like to do for their birthdays.   This year for my daughters sixth birthday she requested a trip to Niagara Falls. 

The sense of wonder and awe that I saw in the faces of my three little children was a reminder to me of the awe I once felt when I first visited the falls many years ago.  I was further reminded of this when I saw the many people who had traveled all the way from different parts of Asia and Europe to view something that was only 30 miles down the road from my home.  These people traveled from the other side of the globe to see something that I had become indifferent about. 

Reality set in.  The falls had not changed, but my perspective had.  The same is true of our God and us.  Perhaps you no longer see Him as you once did.  He has not changed rather, it is your perspective. 

The power of Niagara Falls can be almost overwhelming when you stand on boat located just below the falls in the Niagara River.  The beauty of the falls can be seen when you look into the face of a child or tourist who is viewing the falls for the very first time.  Your perspective on something can change everything.

I needed a new perspective of Niagara Falls to once again appreciate its beauty and its power.  Yet some of you need a new perspective on God and His grace to once again appreciate His beauty and His power.  You may feel alone in this endeavor.  Rest assured you are not alone.  It has happened too many before you  and will happen to many in the future.  The key is that you recognize that you need a new perspective.

Some of the things I do on a regular basis to have a perspective shift on my God include three things: reading, listening, and asking. 

Reading:  I read many Christian authors.  They give me new ideas and insights from their point of view.  It helps me see what others think and how they apply God’s Word.  It keeps me fresh when I might by myself get stale.

Listening: I regularly listen to my pastor on Sunday morning and listen to other preachers or teachers while I am driving in my car.  Currently I have a series of CD’s in my car that is an expository set of messages that were preached by James McDonald on the book of Philippians.  Again, like reading, my listening to others widens my perspective.

Asking:  I purposefully maintain contact with many men in my life that I view as Godly.  I ask them questions about life and pursue their counsel on a regular basis.  I want to know what they think about not just my trials but also about my victories.  This allows me to once again widen my perspective and open me up to new thoughts and ideas rather than stayed focused on my own limited perspective.  

(I recongnize that Scripture reading, prayer, and fellowship with believers was omitted.  I have made the grand assumption, that they were already being done so don’t get mad at me:)

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/9372879
This link will take you to last Sunday’s message (9/5/10). The sermon starts around the 30th minute.