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A piggy back blog

One of the last sections of my previous entry may have come across harsh. My principal shared this video with the staff this morning. It truly captures what I want to convey.

God is in a continual process of molding us into the image of His Son. We look in the mirror and say we aren’t the masterpiece He has called us. We throw up our hands and say that we can’t be good. So, we decide to just be real. To continue in our filth using salvation as some sort of excuse or immunity.

There comes a point in life where we must stop claiming and start living. Let Him chip the junk away and live it.

-C

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A Very Long Blog…

It has been a VERY long time since I have written anything here. My life has been very busy. I bought a new house and got married. Lots of life changes. I like it when God pulls the rug out from under me. At least, I think I like it.

Summer has ended and I am back in the classroom molding young minds (Christ have mercy). It seems that when I’m teaching God begins revealing things to me that are very cool. I happen to teach a Bible class about the life of Jesus. Consequently I have to read The Gospels so that I have a well-rounded view. The other day I read through the Gospel of Matthew and came across several very cool passages in chapter 23.

Here’s the whole chapter if you’d like to read it.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

“They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted….”

**Pause** (I do that to my students when they are reading in class and I hear something cool we should talk about.)

Verse 5 points out something that is fairly heartbreaking about ministry: “Everything they do is done for men to see….” It happens quite a bit and I’m sad to say I’ve been guilty of it; people step into ministry just so people around them will praise them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that this is always the case. Many times I think people enter into ministry truly wanting to serve God, but over time the pats on the back and a nifty title begins making one feel like he or she is someone of great importance. Before you know it you are “ministering” for your own adoration and not because He is worthy.

Another thought I had while reading this section is the matter of leading by serving. Serving is not standing up and giving a sermon at some sort of meeting (be it Sunday morning or otherwise) or singing with the worship band or dancing on the dance team or working with the puppets (which freak me out btw). Serving is not what we DO, it isn’t where OUR passions lie. It is where His lie.

Read verse 4: “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” These Pharisees had a great love for the law; they practiced it with such zeal that it was undeniable that they loved it. But, that was it, they loved the law—what they were DOING—and not God, and certainly not others. And somewhere along they way (just like pharisees) we decided church was about us; about what we want to do, and not about serving others and Christ. We believe that if I’m doing what I love inside of a church building I am somehow serving in a Holy and ordained manner.

The Church is the body of Christ composed of many parts, and doing what you want or love to do in that body isn’t always what you’re supposed to be doing. My father is a great example here. He has Diabetes and what his pancreas LOVES and WANTS to do is make WAY too much insulin. Consequently it damages the rest of his body; damage so severe he could have his feet removed. Isn’t that interesting? One part of the body doing what it wants and not serving the body in the way it was designed actually causes damage that can injure and even remove other parts. Ministers, we should all be cautious that we are following God’s command and design in the timing He has designed it, not the timing our passions dictate.

The last verse I want to address from that passage I’m addressing because I happen to attend a church that refers to our pastors as Father. Do any of you out there call your dad’s Father? I did only a few paragraphs ago, and I’m certain no one flinched at me calling him that. Think about what Christ is talking about in this chapter. The men he was talking about were acting outside of the truth. The title we call men by should truly point to what they do/are. In my denomination the priest happens to represent Christ in such a way that we are reminded of Christ Himself. The term Father isn’t really directed at the man, it is directed to Christ.

**Read On** Matthew 23: 13-27

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?

“You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

“Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness….”

**Pause**

Verse 25 -27 (the clean cup and white washed tombs) is what got me thinking, and before I knew it this had been written. People quote these all the time because people are very hypocritical. The accusation being that some Christians are going through the motions of being a Christian while, on the inside, they are just spiritually dead. I’ve been accused of this before. Sometimes my excitement about what God may be doing in or around me may be perceived as nothing more than Christianese, and some people think I’m hiding something more inside me. To be honest, I’ve been accused by folks that I think should know me better than that.

Verse 25: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

This seems to be a commonly misinterpreted verse (in my opinion of course). The idea is that as you become clean internally [spiritually], and then what you are on the outside will follow suit. That’s just the thing, many times when people quote this, or even think about it, they forget about that last little but VERY powerful phrase—“then the outside also will be clean.” People ignore this when they think they are being REAL, or my personal favorite, RELEVANT. NO, that’s not it at all. In truth you want to fit in; you don’t want to scare a believer off with your Christian-ness.

In my life I have had a problem with my tongue; I have had an incredible problem with cursing. One of my favorite phrases has been GD…I choose not to fill in the blanks, and I’m certain all of you are thanking me. But the conviction I came under because of my dirty mouth comes from a passage in the book of James:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (1:27)

We are called to be unpolluted by this world. There should be something that sets us apart, something that marks us as a son or daughter of Christ. For those of use who do/have stood in a place of spiritual leadership and decided we wanted to be REAL, all we have done is deny that we even know Christ. “But, I would talk about Jesus if someone asked me.” Yeah, I’m sure you would, but they shouldn’t have to ask. People should know something is different; that something sets you apart.

Matthew 23: 29-37

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

“So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

“Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

I’m sure some of you read this and are cheering, others may read this and find themselves ready to string me up by my toenails. I’m just presenting an opinion; I dare not claim that I’m right by any stretch of the imagination. I love you all and I hope you can see some truth in this.

Fear

In chapter 11 of his gospel John tells the story of the death and resurrection of  Lazarus. I had quite a few thoughts when reading this passage. I challenge you to put yourself into the shoes of this man, Lazarus. This man had died and laid in a grave for days. Long enough for his sister to mention that he probably stank. Christ comes and calls out to the lifeless body of Lazarus. Imagine for a moment you are in darkness and you hear the voice of a dear friend. Calling for you to come out. You open your eyes and realize you are in a grave. From that day forward what would you fear? What could you fear? You had faced the most terrifying thing to any human, death itself. But, your friend came and snatched you from it’s clutches. Why would you be a slave to fear any longer?

There is a lesson in all of this.  Those of us who have accepted Christ as our saviour are just like Lazarus. We were once dead in our sin. We were deceased spiritually. Christ called to us in the darkness and we were awakened we were spiritually resurrected. So, the question is, what do we have to fear? Live each day to the fullness of Christ’s promise.

What can I say? Christ has blessed me so much this year. I have seen his providence and love in the lives of each of my family and friends. He has written me a beautiful love letter and I see more and more how much he trully loves me. He teaches me more about his love everyday. God bless all of you. I will try to write more and more often. Peace, -C

After a long day…

Hi guys! Sorry it has been so long since I’ve written anything.

Today I decided to spend my time working on graphic stuff for the church. I’ve been steadily working on a new website and miscellaneous graphics. I spent the entire day sitting alone and staring into a computer screen. I got to thinking about the ministry I do.

There are a few ideas that I am finding are more and more common in churches:

1.) It is the pastors (staffs) responsibility to minister

2.) I’m not called to minister so I shouldn’t

3.) Once I’m finished with my “church thing” I can hang up my ministry hat until next week

Well, I can go ahead and tell ya that all of those aren’t true. Let me address #2 first. I know…I’m working out of order. It’s how my brain works sometimes.

 15He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” -Mark 16:15

That mandate is for you and I as well. It is the “great commission”. On the day we accepted Christ as our savior we decided we would live by his commandments. This is one of them. So, we are all “called” into ministry. Hmmm…I guess that kinda covered #1 and #2. Score!

The idea that ministry ends when you leave church is rediculous.

 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship.-Romans 12:1

Our very lives become ministry. So, every moment of everyday is a chance for us to minister to someone that may not know Jesus. Or maybe they just need a reminder. Live your life as a testiment to who Christ is and you will always be an excellent minister.

Well, that sums it up for me. I realize this wasn’t incredibly profound…I guess I’m a little rusty.

God Bless. -C

And…we’re back.

I’m sure most of you thought that I may have gone. The truth is I almost did. Over the last month I’ve faced a few issues. Uselessness. That sums up what I’ve felt. In 2004 I graduated college with my B.S. in Physics. From there I had been presented with the opportunity to work on a Ph.D. at Georgiah Tech. Long story short; I was too lazy to follow through with my end and missed the window.

 

Fast-forward:

I’m 26 now and as far as the “life clock” is concerned; I’m behind. Most folks are married, have a carrier, own a home, or some combination of these by the time they are my age. I, on the other hand, work a part time job, still attend school, and am very single.

It’s scary. The incertainty of my life the foggyness that has a tendancy to follow me. I live a boring life, however, I suppose there is a rather peculiar adventure that follows me. The foggyness built up to a point that I decided that the best option for me was to run. I decided I would move to Raleigh and find a job. That seems to be my solution for a lot of things. I ran from Georgia; I’ve ran from alot of other things too. Then came John’s sermon Sunday. It hit me right. I’m done running.

Who knows what the future holds for me……I’m not gonna worry about it….I’m going to be fine….

Regeneration

So, I’m completely addicted to a television show called Doctor Who. I’ve loved this show since I was a kid. About three years ago or so they decided revive the show and bring it back with a fresh style. The show has actually been around since the sixties.

Basically the show is a the story of a man (an alien) who travels around through time and space in his ship. Along the way he makes friends and manages to save the world over and over again. One of my favorite things about him is the fact that he doesn’t “die”. Not really. He regenerates. Basically in the even something happens that may kill him he changes every cell in his body and becomes a new man.

The cool thing is Christ offers us the opportunity to regenerate. When we chose to follow Christ we can allow him to transform us from the inside out, regenerating us. We can become a completely new person. The cool thing is our newness can spread. We can share what Christ has done with others and maybe just maybe change lives.