Aldersgate Men

Friday, March 31, 2006

Wondering about 'prayer' today?

This was funny..
http://www.scrappleface.com/?p=2229

My Evidence

Many of us require 'evidence' before we are convinced. Two books that serve as the foundation of evidence for my position as a 'believer in Christ' are:
- Mere Christianity, CS Lewis
- Evidence that Demands a Verdict

There are others great ones (e.g. "Case for Christ"), but these two are my favorites.

Piled on top of that foundation are hundreds if not thousands of big and small events and coincidences (I prefer 'God-incidence') that further seal that faith.

Two more to add this week:

1) My small group is studying "Growing Strong in God's Family", a Navigator's study. I consider this study one of the most powerful studies I've ever done, what I learned in this study remains at the heart of my daily walk with Christ. I had not heard from the person who led me through that study in several years.

This week, while leading the small group through this study - and in turn revitalizing my own walk and my daily discipline - I get a card of encouragement from him. No doubt in my mind that was divine confirmation that I was on the right path.

2) I was listening to one of my favorite tapes (yes, my car has a tape player!) on the way home from basketball. I had listened to most of the 50-minute tape over a few days of intermittent driving, which included at one point having to press the PROG button to get to side B (better than 8-track, not as good as CD).

Somewhere on side A Mr. Hybels introduced a working definition of Love (see post below). I could not remember it but knew it was somewhere on side A. I pressed PROG expecting to have to fast forward or rewind until I found it. The first thing I heard when I pressed the button: "Seeking the well-being of others". It was like God was saying, "here, I'll get that for you". More divine confirmation..

3) I'll throw a bonus one in here (3 for the price of 2: your lucky day!). The morning is the best time for me to connect with my Lord. This week in spite of being up late several nights, I have awakened every day at 5am (4:59 today) WITHOUT ALARMS AND WIDE AWAKE!

Not only have I been able to do my quiet time, but also take a quick nap on my couch before my daughter comes down at 6am to get ready for school. That just does not happen - not in my life - without some other force. He is alive, and a great alarm clock!

I pray this at night: "Lord, wake me up early so that I can spend quiet time with you in the morning." Try it, you'll like it.

"Seeking the well-being of others"

Bill Hybels uses this as his definition for love:
Seeking the well-being of others.
We are so often tempted to use the world's love definition. Think about what 'love' means to you? I'm sure each of us has many connotations surrounding that word given to us by a life of worldly influences, some good, some bad.

But in Christ's most vivid example of 'loving neighbors', the Good Samaritan was 'seeking the well-being" of the injured man.

So next time you're wondering if you've loved, of how to love, or when to love, or why to love.. replace the word love with 'seeking the well-being' and try those questions again.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The ___ Samaritan

The Good Samaritan is Christ's most powerful parable on love (IMHO).. While Christ taught what the Samaritan did, there are a few things not in the story that are worth noting. While most often called 'good', I wonder if these other labels might have applied:

The Active Samaritan
Mr. Samaritan (Mr. S) was not sitting at home playing game cube or watching the tube. He was out and about. With spring on us, I'm making a point to GET OUT!!

The Undercommitted Samaritan
Mr. S had time to stop to help the injured man. Too often I am maxed out, my calendar booked top to bottom, or just simply in a rush to complete the many 'urgent' things in my life. Do I have time to stop for someone who needs my aid? Undercommit, overdeliver...

The Observant Samaritan
Mr. S was not so caught up in his own little world, with its challenges and issues, that he did not notice the man in the ditch. How often my head is full to the brim with the things going on in MY LIFE that I completely MISS that man in the ditch.

The Git-R-Done Samaritan
Mr. S did not go back and diagram the perfect rescue operation. He used what was at his disposal and got the man some help. Call it analysis paralysis, form over function... We need less thinking, more action.

The Flexible Samaritan
Mr. S did not go for a walk looking for someone to rescue. Often I'm most open to serving when I want to serve, but less open when I have my sights on other things. Sure, I'll serve Sunday morning, but don't take my Saturday afternoon from me. Not sure if God keeps stats on these things, but I'm willing to bet that He most often needs my help when I'm NOT in 'serve mode'. Like Mr. S, I'll also bet that God drops the people He wants me to love in my path..

The Short-Order Samaritan
Mr. S did not adopt the injured man and take care of him the rest of his life. He did what he needed to do and moved on. While there are clearly a few life-long love assignments, I believe that most of the 'aid' He wants us to give is in short doses: "...fix him up, get him to shelter...". Each day we should be on the lookout for the short dose of love God needs from us.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I thought this was interesting...

Some cool Bible facts, from an aquaintance of mine...I especially found the left-handed slingers information intriguing.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Guilty?

One of the things I gladly left behind when I joined Aldersgate was the guilt of my previous faith. I was raised with guilt: a stick, not a carrot.

People tell me that they 'feel guilty' at Aldersgate. It has nothing to do with the church you are at, or the people you are with.

It is all about strategic vision for your life. "First things first" is one of Covey's 7 habits, but to put first things first, you need to know what is first. To know what is first, you need to have a life strategy. Once you claim a goal, you become focused on that goal, and the prize associated with that goal. You may temporarily get knocked off course, but when the goal is worth it, you will get back on course.

The best part about being focused on the prize is that you stop feeling guilty about all the OTHER things the world throws at you, even things that seem good. Charity calling for money? You know you tithed at church and gave to others. Ministries at church asking you to do more? You know that you are spending time on the important things.

Get strategic. Find a goal, focus on the prize. The only guilt you should feel is when you purposely take your eyes off that prize.

The Prize I have chosen - Jesus Christ:
- promises me peace, strength, joy
- promises me new life here, and life eternal
- realizes that I'm not perfect, that I will stumble
- forgives me when I repent

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wandering & the Power of God

Often when I'm reading my Bible my mind wanders off. I'm never sure if it is the Enemy distracting me, or God leading me somewhere.

Today while wandering - and still reading - my pen underlined Colossians 2:12:


...through your faith in the power of God...

I snapped back and realized I had wandered, then read what I underlined without even knowing it. That has been the theme of my quiet time this week: the power of God, and my faith in it.

While I can never give you an algorithm to prove the existence of God (we are called 'believers'), it is an overwhelming collection of these moments that has convinced me beyond any doubt of His existence. While these moments were sporadic before, since I've incorporated quiet time into my life - as often as possible - these moments come fast and furious.

As a human I can do nothing but underestimate God. I cannot comprehend His power. But I take it further. I underestimate Him even in places where I have evidence of His work.

Even when I recognize His work, or I can imagine His power, I do not live by faith in that power.

Those who know me know that I struggle with my weight. After a lifetime of chubby/obese, diet after diet, I prayed to God: "I can't do it, I'm going to rely on you." At the time several close to me thought I was quitting. Hardly, I was having faith in His power.

Two days later a Christian friend shared with me a Christian diet. Coincidence? God-incidence. I lost 50 pounds following that diet. It was simple and God-centered: Pray before you eat. Trust God's work in the human body (ie listen for signs of hunger, signs of being full). Eat slowly. Food is not bad, it is your attitude towards food that is bad. Turn to God - not food - when you are stressed, bored, need rewarded, etc.

I've seen His power, and I had faith in it. The results blew me away.

Since then I've gone back to running on my power. 40 of the 50 are back, and counting. Lately I feel like God is just pounding that message into my head: "Have faith in MY power". So that is what I shall do.. again..

I am so glad He expects me to slip and stumble... yet always welcomes me back!

Conversion: The Penalty Phase

I've been watching THIS STORY for two days now. Abdul Rahman has converted from Islam to Christianity. The problem for him is that he lives in Afghanistan...where the penalty for apostasy is death.

Some things that made me think, in reading the article. First, they are trying to find a way to get him "off the hook" and be spared.
One state prosecutor, Sarinwal Zamari, said: "We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person.

No, he probably doesn't talk like a "sane" person. I think that's part of it. Called by Him, we are asked to be different. In the world, but differentiated from it as not part of the world. It begins with our speech.
Mr Rahman reportedly lived in Germany for nine years before returning to his war-scarred homeland. Mr Rahman was arrested just over two weeks ago when his parents told police about his conversion.

His parents told the police? I don't even know where to go with this one.
He told a judge last week he became a Christian while working for an aid group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Again, I see that call to serve. How important it is, and how others will come to know Jesus: by our love.

So, Abdul is facing the death penalty for his conversion. What's the worst thing I face? What's the worst thing you face. And how far would you go?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

When you pray....

...say a word for the people of Belarus. They have begun a revolution, of sorts, and there is no telling how or when it will end. After fixed elections (old-school Soviet style) the people have begun taking to the streets.
It is a frigid, risky vigil, given the Belarussian weather and the government's history of reflexive brutality against those who dare to stand and call for better lives than Mr. Lukashenko's island of Soviet nostalgia and corruption has been able, or willing, to provide.

This story gives a good overview of the situation. Many of you know about the people I met during my stay there. You can read more about my trip HERE.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A resume for your consideration

The Resume of Jesus Christ

Address:
Ephesians 1:20
Phone: Romans 10:13
Website: The Bible
Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior and Jesus.


Hello. My name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent you my resume because I'm seeking the top management position in your heart. Please consider my accomplishments as set forth in my resume.

Qualifications:
I founded the earth and established the heavens, (See Proverbs 3:19)
I formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis 2:7)
I breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis 2:7)
I redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Galatians 3:13)
The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life through me, (See Galatians 3:14)
Occupational Background:
I've only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49).
I've never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful.
My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See Matthew 3:15-17)

Skills Work Experiences:
Some of my skills and work experiences include: empowering the poor to be poor no more, healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are bruised, (See Luke 4:18).
I am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6). People who listen to me shall dwell safely and shall not fear evil, (See Proverbs 1:33).
Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of your sins, (See I John 1:7-9)

Educational Background:
I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, (See Proverbs 2:6).
In me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (See Colossians 2:3).
My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp unto your feet and a lamp unto your path, (See Psalms 119:105).
I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See Psalms 44:21).

Major Accomplishments:
I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all times, (See Genesis 1:26).
I laid down my life so that you may live, (See II Corinthians 5:15).
I defeated the archenemy of God and mankind and made a show of them openly, (See Colossians 2:15).
I've miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead!
There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here. You can read them on my website, which is located at: www dot - the BIBLE. You don't need an Internet connection or computer to access my website.

References :
Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healings, salvation, deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance

In Summation:
Now that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the only candidate uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart. In summation, I will properly direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you into everlasting life, (See John 6:47). When can I start? Time is of the essence, (See Hebrews 3:15).
Send this resume to everyone you know, you never know who may have an opening! Thanks for your help and may God bless you!

Test Post

Good day,

Just trying this out, first time blogger. Wife and I were out of town for last men's study, missed it and all who participate. Always learning things... great group of guys we have here.

Frank

Struggling? With whose energy?

Today in quiet time, Colossians 1:29: "To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me."

First, are you struggling? Before you answer, consider our friends in Belarus, or members of the persecuted church in China or the Middle East? We are SO comfortable here in the US, where 'struggle' means that our boss gave us an assignment we don't like, or the kids have too many activities going on. (cue tiny violin playing in background)

I too often enjoy the peace I'm promised being a disciple, but forget about the struggle.

Now, if we're struggling, or we now know that we SHOULD be struggling, whose energy are we relying on? Before you answer that, consider that His energy created the world, healed hundreds while on earth, established a church body of billions, has influenced hundreds of generations.

Think of the most energetic human you know, other than Christ. What have they done? Doesn't seem like a fair fight.

So, whose energy are YOU relying on? Did you sell that 1,000,000th gadget? Did you break 80? Did you make 8 3-pointers? Ho hum..

Did you lift up your wife today, not physically (though not bad), but spiritually? Did you build up your children with love and a foundation that will enable them to build others up now and when they grow up? Did you make room in your calendar for the person in the cube next door?

The downstream effects of these acts - acts of love - dwarf that gadget, that scorecard. But they often require strength that we struggle to muster.

...unless we are relying on Him.

St. Patrick's Lorica (Morning Prayer)

Lorica of Saint Patrick
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

Men of Words, Men of Action

We are uniquely called to be men of words and action. We rely, daily, on the word of God for our strength, our courage and our solace. But, having heard and believed the words of our Lord, we also believe that we are called to act upon those words, His commands to us:
--Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
--Matthew (yes, I know, Matthew!) 22:39 That we Love our Neighbors as we love ourselves

And so my brothers, we recreate this place to give words of love, encouragement and strength to one another.

Do not be afraid. He is with us, even unto the end of the age.