Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When You believe in God but won't share your faith part 3

An old friend of mine is an author and blogger. I recently received an email from him about making an impact on others lives. Thought this was a great practical read as a follow up to the message from this past Sunday...ENJOY!!!
Article by Matt Anderson (Matt Chat)

On September 25, the Texas Rangers cliched their division's championship in Oakland. It was cause to celebrate. This was rarefied territory for the frequent AL West cellar-dwellers. It would be their first playoff appearance in 11 years. Per tradition, bottles of champagne were popped open and freely dispensed over the heads of teammates.

But Josh Hamilton was nowhere to be found. After hugging and shaking hands with his teammates, he changed in the trainer's room, far away from the raucous celebration. Why would he eschew a moment craved by every baseball player? Two reasons. Hamilton is a believer in Christ who didn't want to send the wrong message to fans, and he is a recovering addict.

Hamilton is one of Major League Baseball's most interesting stories. Drafted as a "can't miss" prospect, his rampant addiction to drugs and alcohol had taken away everything - his career (suspended from the league), his family, and almost his life. At rock bottom, he made a decision to follow Christ, eventually got clean, and got back into baseball.

Now he's arguably the best player in the game. But he's far from perfect. Relapsing almost two years ago, he made the mistake of believing he could handle one drink. That dalliance snowballed into a binge and an indiscretion that once again could have cost him his career and family. Finding forgiveness from both his wife and team, he moved forward. These days, the right fielder has to live on a much shorter leash than most. He has no cash or credit cards in his wallet at any time, to eliminate the temptation to purchase alcohol or drugs. Even his per diem funds are handled by his manager. He is only allowed to hang out with teammates who don't drink alcohol. Which explains why Hamilton was nowhere to be found when the champagne was flowing.

This past Friday night, I watched from home as the Rangers defeated the Yankees to win the American League pennant. The team charged the field, huddled, hugged, and celebrated by pouring beverages over each other's heads. But this time, Hamilton was right in the middle of it. Why? What the lead broadcaster said next floored me. He remarked that, in deference to Josh Hamilton, the team was showering each other with liter bottles of ginger ale. From my living room, all I could say was, "That's totally cool." I know. Not the profundity you look for from a writer, but that's all that worked. I was amazed at the respect they showed to a valuable teammate.

It's not easy for Christians in the workplace. Even today, many of us will be regaled with tales of unholy conquest and behavior from the previous weekend. We seem to almost be speaking a different language than others in the office or the plant. It seems a gulf too big to span. However, I would suggest than when we are a valuable teammate and value those we work with, we will have the respect of (at least) some. If we refuse to go out for drinks with friends/co-workers and tell them we're concerned about getting drunk and what that does to us, only a complete moron (non-spiritual diagnosis by author) would be disagreeable. Yes, there will be those who can't wait for us to "relapse" and be less than perfect, but in their hearts they'll know we get it right a whole lot more than we get it wrong. And that counts for something.

If you're in that spot and think you're not making an impact, I want you to know that you are. When the loud mouth's head hits the pillow, it's your life he wishes he had. He wished he could live without the constant shame, guilt, and pain that only substances can anesthetize. Be as consistent as you can, be a good teammate to the company, and be available to your co-workers. Who knows? The next invitation to drinks may turn out to be ginger ale.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Penn Gilette...won't share your faith part 2

Below is a video I wanted to show on Sunday at our gathering. It's the video blog of Penn Gilette (from Penn & Teller Illusion Show) talking about sharing faith. Now remember, he is an atheist. What profound and challenging words he shares.

Monday, October 25, 2010

When you believe in God but won't share your faith!

Yesterday we finished our Christian Atheist Series. The entire series was designed to shrink the gap between our words & beliefs we profess and our actions.

When it comes to sharing our faith, we talked about inviting people to church, sharing your story & serving others in love. Sharing our faith doesn't mean trying to fix others ourselves or get them to act right.
I came across this blog from a another pastor Julie and I served under in Northville. Check it out...
#1 way for us to be Spiritual NOT Religious
October 21, 2010 by Sonny Hennessy

This past year Shawn and I went to a Spiritual renewal retreat lodge in Colorado for 10 days. It was life altering! We felt like our Bachelor of Arts in Theology and 12 years of experience in “full time” ministry dimmed in comparison to the fullness of the Word we received 12-14 hours a day for 10 days.

One of the books that was part of our daily curriculum was, “The Valley of Vision”. It is simply a collaboration of Puritan’s journaled Prayers. To hear them repent for the need to repent among other cries for God’s Mercy and Grace stunned me. These particular puritan’s, not that all were this way, were consumed with their own Holiness. Their focus wasn’t on others need to be Holy but their own need. They knew if they caught flame, others would follow but it was their responsibility to check their motives, heart, desires not just first…..but period. They were aware that they had so many sinful ways as flesh of flesh that they could spend all day everyday working on themselves. It was introspection, Fear of God, trembling in His presence. Who were they to judge others if they felt unworthy themselves? That is where God wanted them…aware of their unworthiness and their need for Him.

We have come so far from the pure fear of working out our own salvation that we honestly feel it is our duty to work other’s out for them. This is Religion.

It is saying I want to have a fence built around me by man- made rules and obligations so it is simple and fool proof. Next step is I need to get that fence around those who become Christians so myself and my earthly leader can prove this faith is “fool-proof”. We must realize we are fools, and those who don’t know Christ yet may really look foolish but I’m not the wise guy to change em! We want so bad to control any bad thing that may come our way, and don’t see that delima’s allow God to turn us in the direction of our true destiny if we let HIM!

We also feel obligated as Religious people to “take a stand against sin”, in fact we hear that preached often. It’s always a sermon that will get the Pastor some “Amen’s” and a “Preach it” here and there. Problem is, we believe we are making a difference “taking a stand” against sinners through picketing and making stern comments when opportunity arises. Shouldn’t we first take a stand against that darn plank in our own eye before we hold up our angry sign with a plank?

I recently was surprised to hear about a great Pastor we know who was rallying his congregation to show up and picket a topless bar. I asked Shawn if he thought the same time from the pulpit could be spent receiving an offering so some lovely church ladies could take money and hand it to one of the girls going into the bar to work a shift. This could be the “seed” God is sending to end the cycle of their need for this paralyzing career. The money may help a single mom support herself and poor babies so she can get out of the job that makes her a lot of money a night.

Oh, I know what most are thinking, “You don’t know what she will do with that money”….hold up right there…. is that us determining she answers to us not God? And how many preachers have used our offerings for the hotel bills to stay with one of these girls…ouch, that was just mean, I know! Sorry

Anywhoo, if we Religious folk (I act it too at times) would focus as much on ourselves and our holiness, we would ooze with Love and Mercy for others. Our heart would break for what breaks His!

There is no way you can be on your knees and in the Word and walk away looking for a sinner to reprimand. Those who are disgusted by “sinners” have not been with Jesus lately because you would be crying not raging. Jesus only ever got angry at Pharisees, Saducees, and temple workers…oh and at the devil.

With love and gentleness….;D


Monday, October 18, 2010

When you believe in God but trust more in MONEY

Yesterday was part 6 of the Christian Atheist Series. We looked at how easy it is for us to allow money to take the place of God in our hearts. Money is the #1 competitor to God. However, Jesus made it clear that we cannot serve both God and money. We will either love one and despise the other. You can listen to the message by clicking on this link
One of the things we talked about is how to combat selfishness and being discontented? One of the ways was to take action!

1 Timothy 6:18-19—Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the age to come, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Pause for a moment and spend a few minutes in prayer. Ask God how wants to use you this week and how you can be generous today to bless others. Remember, God isn't against His people having money or things but He is against money & things having His people.

TAKE HOME (ways to grow in generosity)

#1--Go back and re-read the story of the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19 starting at verse 16) and the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19)
#2--Pray every morning asking God to make you more like Jesus (a giver)
#3--Purchase this economical and power teaching by Rob Bell Nooma: Rich at This video is full of challenging and mind blowing statistics on how rich we truly are in America.

Monday, October 11, 2010

When You Believe in God But Don't Think You Can Change

Yesterday, we had special guest speaker Brian Pruitt with us. He talked about When You Believe in God But Don't Think You Can Change.

He spoke from John 5:1-8 (I would encourage you to read it again)
Go ahead, pause, grab Your Bible or go to
and look up the verses.
The question from verse 6 is still echoing in my head, "Do you want to get well?"

Remember, God is unchangeable but we are not. Every life surrendered to Jesus can and will change.

Have a great week walking in FREEDOM!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The God Bag

Yesterday we talked about "When You Believe in God but still worry all of the time."I read a story about a gentleman who took a brown bag and wrote "God Bag." He put it above the kitchen door as a visual.

Every time he began to worry about something, he paused, prayed about it and then wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it in the God Bag. This was symbolic of him trusting God to handle the situation and that he didn't have to worry or stress about it.

If he began to worry again about that same issue, he had to get the step ladder out and climb up to grab the item back out of the paper bag symbolizing he wasn't letting God handle it and that he was taking it back out for him to carry.

I thought this would be a good visual for all of us to try as we move forward this week to "TRUST MORE AND WORRY LESS."

Philippians 4:6-8