When They Call Me Daddy!

Nothing can melt a Daddy’s heart quicker than one of his baby’s running to him arms open wide excitedly

Photo courtesy of : Photostock

yelling, “Daddy”! If you have never experienced it….you have missed one of life’s most beautiful moments.

Little girls especially can have this affect and sometimes learn at an early age that a bat of the eye lashes and a soft “Daddy can I have…” and the next thing you know you are emptying your wallet and she is headed to the mall to buy who knows what.

I have so many fond memories of my babies and those early years. It doesn’t happen very much later on in life when they get older I am finding out.

I found myself reminiscing about those times the other night and the thought came to me, “Imagine how God feels when we call Him “Daddy””. When we feel so deeply and intimately toward Him as a child to his Daddy. Think of how you feel when your child looks at you lovingly and says “I love you Daddy”, now multiply that many times over and we might just begin to scratch the surface of how our “Daddy” God feels when we do the same.

We know without doubt that He loves us so very deeply. We can see it in everything around us. He has shown it through His Grace and Mercy toward us and in His gifting of eternal life for us.

    “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” (Romans 8:14-17, NRSV; cf. Gal. 4:5-6)

I can imagine that much like you or I would do when our child call us “Daddy”, I can imagine Him saying, “I love it when they call me Daddy”!

(On God as Daddy)

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Just Another Example!

Wikimedia Commons

This past fiasco about Harold Camping predicting that the rapture would take place on May 21st 2011, is another prime example of how preachers, prophets, and churches who spend their time preaching a message other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are making Christianity a laughing stock.

All this hullabaloo about the rapture and the impending Zombie Apocalypse is a load of crap.

Yes…I do believe in the rapture. I do believe that it will happen. But I also know that according to scripture,

    “…no no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 NIV

Far too much energy and money is being spent spreading either gloom and doom and the impending apocalypse, or the name it and claim it prosperity message. How many “if you believe it you can receive it” messages do we need? How many self help, motivational speeches do we need to hear?

The message that the world needs to hear is that Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins so that we could have eternal life!

They need to hear that there is a hope and a peace beyond all understanding!

They need to hear that this fantastic gift can be had to anyone who believes and will receive it because of the price Jesus paid on the cross of redemption!

Christianity owes the world…and God an apology for allowing these so called preachers and their idiot ideologies and the stupid things they say in the name of God.

God’s Amazing Grace

Grace.

We have heard of it, talked about it, sang about it, and gladly received it, but have we ever really thought about it?

* Grace, according to the Strong’s Concordance taken from the Greek is “the state of kindness and favor towards someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object. OR favor, kindness, or displaying a favorable disposition” it is also defined as unmerited or undeserved mercy.

David is one of my very favorite characters in the bible.

I guess I can identify with him so much because…well…let’s face it….he was a screw up…and I can relate to that.

One day, as David was looking out over his kingdom. No doubt admiring all that he was in control of, and probably feeling quite proud of himself, he saw something that really peeked his interest. Evidently Bathsheba was a major hottie and David got her digits and gave her a ring. He slept with her, she got pregnant. he then brought her husband back from war hoping that he would sleep with her and therefore cover up his transgression. That didn’t work so David had him sent to the front lines and he was killed and he then married Bathsheba. Problem solved…or so he thought.

“1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity. 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

“13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD. Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” 2 Samuel 12

Let’s recap…David Slept with another mans wife, got her pregnant, tried to cover it up, then had the man killed and then married the woman.

Deserving death, he repented. God Forgave him…before he even asked!

Unmerited, undeserved mercy.

One of the things so amazing about God’s grace is that we don’t have to be good enough to get it. You don’t have to work hard to deserve it. You don’t have to jump through flaming hoops to get to it. He gives it freely, willingly to anyone who will receive it.

We are all deserving of our fate, which is death from sin.

“1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:1-10

Amazing Grace….no longer a slave to our sin nature, not bound by death or the cravings of our flesh man.

“24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;” 1 Peter 2:24

Here are some things we need to consider.

    *It is no longer OUR sin…but his.

    *Sin is no longer our nature. We are no longer held captive to it.

Most of us though have a hard time letting go of OUR sin. Why do we try to own it? Why do we try to keep it?

Here is what we need to get into our minds….

    *OUR sin is not just covered by his mercy/grace, but actually TAKEN AWAY!

    *It is no longer ours!

    *He took them away from us, and took them upon himself.

I don’t think we realize that enough.

Unmerited, undeserved mercy!

Amazing things about God’s Grace

    *You don’t have to be good enough to get it.

    *You don’t have to jump through hoops to get to it.

    *He freely gives it to everyone.

    *It was given to you before you asked!

He is just waiting for us to realize, confess to him, and turn away from the sin that is no longer ours and turn towards His righteousness..

All of us struggle, all of us fail at times or fall short of what we believe God’s expectations are of us.

    *We don’t have to let sin define us!

    *We are no longer condemned by sin through His Grace!.

We have been granted the unmerited, undeserved Grace of our Gracious God.

A few days ago I was thinking about this, and the song “Amazing Grace” came to my mind. I had heard and sang that song probably thousands of times…but this time the first line stuck out to me.

“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound..”

That started my little brain to thinking and I posted this question on Twitter..

“What does Grace sound like?”

And one of the responses I got floored me because I had never thought of it this way.

“A sigh of relief!”

I don’t know about you, but God has forgiven me much…so I can identify with that sentiment.

I am thankful for God’s Amazing Grace!

Why I Stay In Church.

I walked out of church during a service with no intent to ever go back.
Once.
I was twelve, maybe thirteen. We were visiting my Grandma and she went to a church that believed in “faith healing.” The guy preached a “good” sermon (I say good because every time I hear the story I hear that it was a good sermon). He preached, he prayed, and then he started healing people. He’d call one guy up and then he started talking about him and whatever his disease was. Then he hit the guy upside the head, said some word I’ve never heard of and BAM the guy fell over. I remember my brother’s eyes got really big. Then the preacher called up another person (I think a woman this time). My mom grabbed my wrist and started pulling me towards the door.  We were Baptists and we didn’t believe in what was happening so we were leaving.

As an adult, I’ve thought about leaving the church. I’ve thought about just walking away and calling it a career.  I’m serious. My “reasons” list is long and colorful:

  1. I’ve been lied to in church
  2. I’ve been lied about in church
  3. I’ve been hurt in church
  4. I’ve had things stolen from me in church.
  5. I’ve heard some of the meanest, nastiest, most terrible things in church
  6. Some of the meanest, cruelest, nastiest people I’ve ever met have been in church.
  7. I’ve seen grieving mothers told to “just suck it up and get over it” at church.
  8. I’ve seen relationships stop because of where someone went to church
  9. I’ve seen mass emails sent out as prayer requests because of church
  10. I’ve sat through numerous gossip sessions prayer request times

I’ve tried to paint the broadest of strokes there in order to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.  After our last church, I really thought it was time to leave. There were so many problems, my wife felt used and abused and I wasn’t too far behind on her that path.  The truth is there are so many problems in the church. Right now, I have at least five friends that are all thinking about getting out of ministry completely. Not just leaving their church but leaving church completely.

Here’s the problem. They can’t. You and I can’t. Seriously, we are the church. We are this thing that gives so many of us so much trouble.. We can no more leave the church than we can leave the human race. We’re in it. We ARE it. Short of death, it’s still there. Even if I stop gathering with other believers weekly, I’m still part of the body. There is no “out clause” in Scripture. It’s a vicious circle. Railing against the church is like railing against oxygen. It just isn’t all that profitable. Now, I know it’s cool to do it now a days. I even realize that I’ve done it too often. Kary Oberbrunner is the first one to make me stop and think about how I do it.
And how God might view it.  In his book, Journey Toward Relevance he says this:

… a couple of years ago I found myself badmouthing somebody else’s girl. The first time it happened , I was sitting in a coffee shop with a few of my buddies. I didn’t intentionally bring it up, it just happened.  We somehow got on the topic of a guy we all knew. Pretty soon we started to talk about his girl and negative comments started flying.
I kind of felt bad for the guy. We all liked him; he was our friend. His girl just really annoyed the heck out of us. … I suppose degrading this girl was pleasurable because it made us feel separate from her.  …
I think the problem was that this girl was so ugly. It was an ugliness that was both internal and external. …

It went on like this for several months. In fact more people knew her than I first thought. It became an opening line to talk about this girl. I even went to parties and initially met people by communicating my distaste and shame for this girl.

Then one day I ran into her guy. It was not cool, let me tell you. I didn’t expect to see Him. I just kind of bumped into Him. He turned around and just looked me in the eye. He said to me, “Kary, why? How could you talk about her like that?”

I felt really low. I could see how much He loved her, and I could feel how much I hated her. I guess I just felt wounded by her. I felt judged by her….
pp. 58-59

That book started my healing and my wrestling. Because we have to wrestle with this animal called the church. We have to figure out how do we love the Bride of Christ when it just absolutely drives us nuts? If you haven’t read the book you should.

The problem is that I need the church. I need other believers around me. I need to be in community with those other people.  My list of things that I want to see change is long, but I’ve learned there just isn’t that much to be gained by going all “Ken Silva” about stuff I don’t like.

About two years ago a friend recommended a book where the central question of the book was/is “What if God designed marriage to make you Holy not happy?” That question changed much of my life. It also drove me to change how I view church. I’ve already talked about how I think you will be marked by regularly gathering with other believers if it is important to you. But this goes further than that. What if God designed church to
work like marriage? What if God designed church more to make us holy than he did to make us happy?  Now, hang with me here; God could have done this thing we call church any way He wanted to do it. He is God after all.

I mean He didn’t have to create church this way. He could have done it another way.  How many people in church annoy you? How many people in church are just irrelevant to your life? How many people are lying to you? How many are cheating on their spouse? How many could care less if you can’t pay your bills this month?

So why did God design it this way and why should we stay. What are some common problems in the church and how might we wrestle through them? I hope to address those questions and more over the course of the upcoming weeks.  I am going crazy busy with school, work and family right now, but I think this is important. What would happen if we looked at church more as a means to make us holy than we looked at it as a means to make us happy?

What Can American Idol Teach Us About The Church?

I confess that I have a few American Idol alumni in my Itunes, but just like my voting policy, I’ll never tell you who they are. Last night, my wife reminded me as I was doing homework with one of my daughters that the season premier was on in a little bit. A couple of years ago watching what I like to call the American Idol pre-season became a tradition of sorts for my wife and I. Back then we could only watch one channel and we were in a little cabin waiting for something a little bigger to open up for us. Of course like a lot of Americans we laughed at some of the contestants, wondering what in the world they were thinking. So last night I stopped what I was doing and from the first commercial on we watched the carnage. I’d like to tell you that we had empathy for those people who tried and failed but the truth is we laugh at most of them. The truth is after the auditions I’ll hardly watch any of the episodes. About half way through, I said to my wife, “There’s something we can learn from this, I just don’t know what it is.” Believe it or not, I actually pondered this for the rest of the show. I pondered what can the church learn from American Idol? Not, how can the church emulate American Idol but what are the inherent truths here that I’m missing.
Then it happened.
Near the end

There was a series of failed contestants walking out the door, some sad, most angry, and all of them talking about how they were going to make it “without American Idol!!!”
Now, let’s think about that for a moment, here is two of the best talent evaluators in the business (Randy and Simon–I’m not really sure why Paula is on the show) and they’ve just told you that you’re not good enough but you’re gonna go make it on your own. Sure, there probably will be somebody who will do that once, maybe.
Realistically, though these people are not going to make it. They’re just not that good. All of the Princess Leigh like hair do’s and chest hair waxing isn’t going to make their voices any better. No amount of one finger salutes or complaining about the make up girls that all look alike is going to change that. It’s amazing really, these people just lie to themselves. The truth is too hard to face. It’s easier to blame the judges. It’s even easier to get angry instead of facing the truth that your hurting. I imagine for many if not all of these people this is a life long dream. Many have probably had the flames of this dream fanned by well intentioned friends and family members who have listened through ears that are well… friends and family ears. Rather than hurt the person they love they encourage them that they could make it, that they might have a chance and their voices might be good enough. The idea of being dishonest in an effort to be nice is a topic for a whole other day. So they rant, they rave and they blame everyone out there.

Before we get too hard on these idol wannabes I want to ask, doesn’t the church do this?
Seriously, the conservatives blame the emergents, the emergents blame the conservatives. One denomination blames another, free willers blame Calvinists, Calvinists blame free willers, etc.
I know of a pastor who led a church to a third of the size it was when he took over. You know what he says the reason is? People just cannot handle good hard preaching anymore. Now, I wonder what that says about the guy before him, who hired him and groomed him to take his place. Is he saying that guy didn’t preach solid Biblical truths? That church has lost most of its influence in the community in which it has historic roots, mostly because it fought the wrong battles. Read the gospels. It’s fascinating. Jesus was hated or loved depending on who was around him but he was never marginalized. He was never ignored. Everywhere he went people talked about Him, they knew about Him. Same thing with the Apostle Paul. It’s amazing, people tried to kill him in a variety of ways. The early church grew. Maybe it was because it didn’t have the time to blame outsiders because those outsiders were persecuting them.

I love when a church or some para-church ministry rants and shrieks about “the Culture Wars” and taking America back to the golden age when “it was a Christian nation.” When I was a kid we used to spread that kind of talk on our fields as fertilizer.
I’m afraid the church has lost some of its effectiveness because we’ve failed to tell ourselves the truth. We’ve failed to look at the mirror and see where we are failing. We’ve been too busy blaming people who don’t believe like us for not acting like us. We’ve gone crazy trying to defend things are extra-biblical. It’s time we take a long deep look at us and ask if we are redeeming the time or punching a time clock.
The problem is that this is hard. It’s hard to say that you were wrong, It’s even harder to ask for forgiveness. If you really want to do something extremely hard that Christ commands us to do, don’t worry about taking the gospel to some third world country–just try to forgive someone who has really hurt you. For many, going to that third world country will be far far easier.
There are people who actually fight over the terms we should call ourselves. Christ-follower or Christian? I sincerely doubt that the label we proudly slap on our chest has ever shown anyone what it means to be loved. I doubt that anyone has ever decided to follow Christ because of some label. Both terms drives at people looking like Jesus. One of the terms actually means “little Christ.” I wonder if Christ would have thumped his chest over a label? When the disciples were exercised over someone doing Kingdom things they told him to stop because he wasn’t one of them. How did Jesus respond? He told them to let the guy alone.
The time has come for the church to stop blaming “those people” whoever those people are take a long hard look at the church. What if every church, every Christian/Christ-follower were to just ask one simple question this year? What if we asked how much we looked like Jesus? The Bible is full of great ways that we can demonstrate that we are like Christ. They all involve actions. If you really want to be relevant to your community, go love somebody this week. Let the person behind you jump ahead at the checkout next time. Write a thank you note to the person who’s opening the envelope that contains your check for a bill you owe. Forgive the person who wronged you. It’s time we started telling ourself the truth. It’s not some catchy phrase on a sign that is going to show people that we love them and each other and that is important, after all how well we love each other is a sign of who we’re following.