Sunday, January 24, 2016

That Moment When...


What started out as a quick post on Facebook…got long enough to make a short post here:

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That moment when you are scanning the radio dial and it comes to a 'preacher' saying, quote "the moment I first gave $1000, something broke open in my life, something was set free...and the same thing will happen to you...this really is your day for a miracle...make the investment in the kingdom of god...don't put it off, if you do, you'll miss your miracle..."

To all my friends and others who may read this: I am so sorry that people talk like this and abuse religion in the name of God for the sake of profit. For them I repent and ask your forgiveness for those who so misguidedly do such things.
 
There *is* a time and place for asking for money and donations - something I have had to learn the hard way by *not* doing it when I should have, and something you *will* see me doing in the future. And good churches and other religious organizations *do* need to be supported, especially as it concerns caring for "the least of these" - feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, welcoming the stranger.

But there is no excuse for supporting the marketing of religion for profits. Instead, we ought to be supporting the prophets who bring true religion to all who are in the market and in need.


"Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after people who are in distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the things of this world" (James 1:27, my transaphrase).

Blessings,

Phil

Thursday, January 21, 2016

TRANSFORM Throwback

One of the Daily Office passages for today is John 4:1-15, which is the first part of the story about Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  Whenever I think of this passage of Scripture, my mind can’t help but immediately go back to a chilly October evening in the small town (4,600 population) of Chariton, Iowa, in the small church (125-150 people) of Chariton Church of the Nazarene, in a small (but rapidly growing) youth group of 15-30 teenagers. 

It was there, as a Youth Pastor (while at almost 40 years old, I do *not* miss youth ministry (teen quizzing is as much or more than I can handle these days!), I *do* miss my friends in Chariton, many of whom were present that night!), that I gave a message from this passage to our youth group and we dialogued together about Jesus and the Samaritan woman, and what it might mean to “seek out the opinions and feeling of 'unchurched' people.”

Since it is Thursday, I thought this would make a good first “Throwback Thursday” for 2016.  While I wouldn’t say everything exactly the same way thirteen and a half years later, including that line I just quoted above, below you will find my ‘teaching’ (probably more like ‘preaching’…at the time an unrealized prophetic vision of the future…) notes from that night.

I would be interested to hear your comments or thoughts on what I said then, and what you would say now.  I’d be especially interested to hear from those who were there that night. 

One thing I know:  Even though some of what I said then would be a little different now, as I mentioned, that night still had a lasting impact over all these years - both for me and for those present.  Although that night was a third of a lifetime ago, it reminds me today to speak what Holy Spirit leads you to speak at the time – and that same Spirit will guide into all truth, over time, as we all have so much to learn.  And maybe these words still hold some value for today, as well.  So, enjoy your #tbt!

Blessings,

Phil

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John 4:3-42: The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Jesus HAD to go through Samaria. You HAVE to go to school each day.

He SOUGHT OUT the opinions and feelings of a non-Christian. You need to SEEK OUT the same.

Sometimes we don't even realize we are going in a different direction as those who aren't Christians.  But we are.  And unless you intentionally stop yourself to talk with those who aren't Christians and find out why they aren't, in a few years you will have passed them by and made NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER on their life.  They will still be directionless, you will still be letting opportunities pass you by.  Youth group and church have to STOP being about what YOU want them to be and START being about "WHATEVER" (remember that from last week?) IT TAKES to REACH THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW JESUS. 

The first step is to stop ignoring them as if their opinion didn't matter and start ASKING them, "What can I or my youth group or church DO that would make a difference in YOUR life."  SO WHAT if it doesn't do much for US.  You are a servant of God now; you are CALLED BY GOD to REACH OTHERS, not to make yourself feel good.  And you know what?  In reaching others for Christ you WILL get the BEST feelings you have ever had in your life!

Have you been TRANSFORMED, not into a Bible thumping fool, but into a compassionate, caring individual who loves God and loves people so much that you will do whatever it takes to find out what they need and then do whatever it takes to meet those needs?  That is what Jesus did, and as a result, many people were saved (became Christians).  Do you care about the unchurched and how THEY feel?  If what THEY need is a particular type of youth group, church, service, activity, or friend, are you willing to BE that kind of youth group, BE that kind of church, HAVE those types of services, DO those kind of activities, and BE that kind of friend?   

I urge you to DO IT!  You are not in Chariton, Iowa (or Russell or anywhere else) and going to school here by accident!  God has placed you here for THIS MOMENT, for THESE YEARS, not so that you can have a happy life, though HE DOES want you to live a life of JOY, but more than that, it is HIS purpose that you REACH OTHER STUDENTS for JESUS CHRIST!