Wednesday, June 5, 2013
There is an amazing event that takes place every June in the Denver area. The barn swallows come out by the thousands. They divide up into smaller groups, with each group locating themselves around major intersections. At each intersection, the birds swoop and dive, barely missing cars, sometimes touching the ground, and sometimes actually touching cars as they fly by. What they do is pure artistry, like a ballet that takes place all day long.
What is the point of the invasion of the birds? Well, there is another phenomenon that takes place at the same time. The month of June brings a brown moth that is harder to see, but present nonetheless. They enter houses and irritate families when they swarm around lights and windows.
What do the two events have to do with each other? The answer is fascinating. Cars driving on the roads collide with the flying moths, sometimes on the windshield, and others in the grill area. When the vehicles approach the intersection, they slow, and eventually stop for the light. This allows the moths to fall off of the vehicle and on to the ground. When that happens the birds take advantage of the vehicle’s work and enjoy a great meal.
Birds know something that we should understand and apply to our own lives. They put themselves in the place of greatest opportunity. They swarm at the intersections with the most cars, because that is the place where the most bugs will be found.
Are you putting yourself in the place of greatest opportunity? Are you gravitating to the locationwhere you receive the most blessings? The Bible identifies that intersection as the place of prayer. God wants us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is like gathering at the biggest intersection knowing that all trials, needs, and decisions travel through that intersection. All blessings pass through the intersection of prayer. Are you in that place?
Sunday, May 5, 2013
When the day arrived, we settled into our seats and enjoyed every minute of the performance. At the conclusion of the play, everybody cheered with joyous applause as the cast took their bows. The play concluded with one more rendition of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. As the song began, a little girl, of no more than three years, could hold herself back no longer. She pushed her way into the isle, where she sang and dance to the best of her ability. Though the cast was singing their swan song, hundreds of eyes were on this precious little girl who could not contain her joy.
As I watched this little girl, I forgot that I was at the theater, and my mind transitioned to my faith in Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is a source of great joy. He produced boldness in the apostles, vibrancy in the church, and the conviction that a spoon full of grace made everything better. I thought about today’s perfectly choreographed church services, practiced and timed to the minute to insure that everything flows perfectly. But, God’s swan song should have us dancing in the isles with unbridled joy. Jesus Christ has died for our sin, freed us from bondage, and offered us life with him in the glory of a city paved with streets of gold. He has given us a new name, a new family, and a new purpose. He has made us heirs, and priests.
How can we be so casual about our faith when we have been given so much? Is it any wonder that Jesus took a child, like that little three year old girl, dancing in the isle, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
If you took this passage seriously, what would change in your behavior, your witness, and your faith? If we were so filled with joy that we could not contain ourselves, how would our world change? The world will not be won through casual observances by restrained believers. But, it will be won through people who cannot be silenced, people who say, “one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). It was unbridled joy that caused the woman at the well to leave her pots, run back to her own city and proclaim, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” Oh, how we need to be like that woman today.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
For many years, I took students to Catalina Island for a week. The island, off the coast of California, has rich and amazing marine life. Many of the kids had never experienced a camping trip, bon fires, kayaking, snorkeling, or even being away from home.
One year, as we prepared for our first snorkel, a female student nervously informed me that she did not want to go with us. She gave me several excuses why she did not want to go, but none of her statements impressed me. I was determined that she was going with us.
She gave in to putting on a wetsuit, but the nervousness continued to rise. Finally the truth came out. “I can’t swim, and I am terrified of putting my face in the water. Please don’t make me go!” I assured her that I would be there with her. We could take a paddleboard, and I would not let go of her. “Please come with me. You need to experience this.”
The wetsuits kept us afloat. Without them both of us would likely have drowned. She held on so tight that it was difficult swimming for both of us. As we moved through the water, the student began to relax, but she maintained the resolve not to put her face in the water.
With constant reassurance, she finally agreed to place the glass portion of her mask into the water. When she did, my young student became giddy over the marine vegetation and the beautiful fish that were swimming just out of her grasp. Orange, blue, and silver fish captured her attention until the once fearful student’s head was completely submerged in the ocean waters. The beauty beneath the water was far better than the fear above the water. Discovery was more powerful than fear, so she let go of me, and began swimming around on her own. After a while, reality set in and my young student discovered that she was swimming in the ocean, with her head under water, all on her own. She received a precious reward by exchanging fear and apprehension for discovery and joy.
Evangelism is the process of helping people to move from fear to discovery. So many stand on the shore, waiting for someone to say, “Come with me. You will be safe. I promise that I will not let you go.” The fact is that people have no idea what lies just beneath the surface of faith because they refuse to put their face in the water. But once they are led into the waters of faith, a whole new world of discovery opens to them. They are blessed, and are blessed to watch fear melt away so that faith can take its place.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Buy a Book, Feed a Child. Is this possible? It is not only possible, but it is happening. 2t2 Ministries has created a partnership between our publishing services, Lifeline Christian Mission, and our upcoming book, The Art of Worship. When you buy The Art of Worship, a bag of food is delivered to a hungry child affiliated with Lifeline Christian Mission in Haiti, El Salvador, or Africa. Each pre-packed food bag contains enough for six meals with 75% of a child’s daily nutritional requirements for a healthy diet.
2t2 Ministries is a “Publisher With a Mission” according to the principles of 2 Timothy 2:2. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” We use the concept of Passing the Baton to describe the principles of this passage. God calls us to take in the teachings of the scripture and in turn to minister to others.
Purchase a book through 2t2 Ministries today. You need God’s wisdom, and a child needs the food you will be providing.
Pre-order your advanced hard copy of The Art of Worship, at www.2t2ministries.org and we will double our contribution to Lifeline Christian Mission.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Jerry Harris preaches to a remarkable church in Quincy, Illinois. In addition, the church has a number of satellite Churches; each one is successful and growing. But, something hit Jerry one day. He writes about it in his book Shifted: The Crossing Story.
“If we look out on the faces of our congregations, how many actual disciples do we see? How many are personally convinced that they are disciples but are sorely mistaken? How many of them believe this fallacy because of the bar we have set them? Real Life (Real Life Ministries, led by Jim Putman) chose Matthew 4:19 as their definition of discipleship seeing Jesus calling His own disciples. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” There are three criteria that help define discipleship in this divine statement. Am I genuinely following Christ? (follow me...), being changed by Christ ?(...and I will make you), and living life on mission for Christ ?(...fishers of men.) _This is the question I honestly wasn’t asking myself or confronting others with until this point. ”Are we making disciples”? The difficult truth for me was that with all my education, experience, and success, I really didn’t know how to mobilize a church to make disciples of Jesus Christ. The best I was providing was an environment for them to figure it out for themselves.” Jerry goes on to explain how they developed a Relational Discipleship approach at The Crossing.
The statement that caught my attention was, “The best I was providing was an environment for them to figure it out for themselves.”
Is the development of a spiritual life solely the job of our preachers and the leadership at our church? Can we blame others because we are not growing?
Churches are constantly exploring new ways to maximize the growth of their members. But you don’t need to wait for the next great program to come along. The reality is that the body of Christ does create an environment where you can develop into a mature believer. There is no reason to sit back and wait for the next program to come along. Take hold of your own spiritual growth. Make the most of every worship opportunity and grow. How?
Worship is an art. It takes practice, and an understanding of how to worship is essential. The Art of Worship helps you understand how to make the most of your worship experience. This book is a must read for every believer.
If you have ever been board with church, wondered if you were missing something, or felt like your faith has gone stale, then The Art of Worship is for you.
Look for The Art of Worship, at the beginning April from your favorite book seller, and begin to make sense of your worship.