Sunday, April 29, 2012

Losing Jesus

Losing Jesus:

Lets take a look at the Book of Luke, in chapter 2. Joseph and Mary had lost their son. Lost him in the most unlikely place of all, in the temple. The church.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
Luke 2:42-46 (NLT)

We would think the last place on earth we would lose Jesus is in the church. Yet, that is the very place where most of us lose him. Just a few weeks ago I was in a conversation about all the different churches in town and how many if not most of them where founded by splits of other churches. Not planned church plants. Coming from California I find it hard to understand. We had a hard enough time keeping our church up and running. Planting new churches was a fight with the local planning commission and zoning commission. Not founded by infighting of fellow church members. So to hear a church was founded by splitting off from another church takes me to the edge of understanding.

This is where we lose Jesus. For a time everything is just going fine and well within a church. Then the pastor preaching a service which the message comes from God, and it hits too close to the heart for some members. Without warning someone's feathers get all ruffled up and starts screaming, “Get the torches and pitchforks!” Or time comes to replace the carpet. One group likes green. The other wants blue. Again the Torches and Pitchforks come out. The piano gets moved or the music seems too modern or the choir director tries to appeal to a larger and a more diverse audience. Getting crucified for it when all he is trying to do is please everyone. I hear these stories over and over again. Some churches have such a bad reputation that local neighborhoods will have nothing to do with them. These churches go through pastors like kids go through shoes. Bright and shiny at first will all kinds of ideas and on fire for God. Then crushed when the truth of what they are really part of comes crashing down around the poor new pastor.

Any church staff member can tell you how hard it is. How would you handle having 50, 100, a 1,000 pairs of eyes looking over your work in the smallest detail each week? It can become disheartening and down right depressing. When someone does tell you good job. It is like a cup of water after you have spent days in the desert.

Losing Jesus happens all the time. One time when I was part of the church basketball program as our gym's time keeper. We had a game were the parents were a little too emotional to put it lightly. Two men sat close to me always making sure I heard their comments when our referees did not make a call to their liking. When the night was over I was so grateful that I would never have to deal with those men again. Oops! Just lost Jesus!. Should have been praying for them than counting myself lucky in abandoning them. God was about to teach me a lesson.

Two days later I was with my oldest daughter and her boyfriend. We had stopped at McDonald's for lunch. There was only one person in line when we got there. Who was it? You guessed it. The same man from the basketball game. Talk about God giving me a clear message. It was the father's son who broke the ice. Recognizing me from the game just two nights ago. Sounds like Peter when asked if he was with Christ? To make matters even more obvious there was only one table open for us to sit. Yes you guessed it again. Right next to them. We continued to talk and I learned his brother who was the other man at the game had suffered a stroke. He did not like to speak much and I was wrong just 48 hours ago thinking he was rude to me. You see. I had lost Jesus. We both left with renewed spirits. A lesson well learned.

So how about you. When have you lost Jesus? In church when you are trying to focus on the pastor preaching and you get distracted by a child crying thinking their parents should keep that kid quite? At work when someone cracks a joke that rubs you the wrong way? At the store when someone cuts in front of you? At home? Around friends? With family? We seem to lose Jesus just as easy as Joseph and Mary did. Like them, when we lose Jesus. We need to run back and find him immediately.

Teach, Preach and Reach.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Never Give UP!

Never Give Up!

I have nearly finished reading the book, “Trump, Never Give Up.” by who else, Donald Trump. As I look back on my life nearly 62% of my adult life I spent in the Real Estate industry/market. Everyone has their heroes in their particular field of interest. In basketball your hero might be Michael Jordan or Larry Bird. In football maybe Joe Montana or Ken Stabler and so on. Mine is the icon of real estate, Mr. Donald Trump. The man is in the Guinness Book of World Records for biggest financial turnaround in history. He exemplifies the phrase, “Go Big or Go Home.” Great victory takes great risk. To lose it all and then stand up, come back and try again? How many examples of our ancestors in the Bible have gone through much worst? How many Christian Martyrs have taken the ultimate risk and given the ultimate sacrifice? The fact is that whether it be sports, business or life you have to take risks. As my mentor and broker would say, “He who dares, wins.” Thank you, George.

My life has always been about percentages. In real estate, mortgage finance, title and escrow if you made a 100 dollars or 100,000 dollars it was the percentages that told the story. Once you reach 55% the wheels stop turning. It sounds a lot like gambling. You are right. Gambling is all about percentages. At least it should. You invest when the odds are in your favor. We do it every day we drive a car. We invest our lives because the odds are in our favor that we will be able to travel from point A to point B without getting killed or injured. Yet we see auto accidents on the road every day.

What does any of this have to do with Christianity or my life as a Christian? On April 2 is the anniversary of my salvation through Jesus Christ. I was saved April 2, 1995, hence my call sign, BAC4295. Born Again Christian April 2, 1995. Later that day I prayed that God would let me work for the church. In my mind I saw myself using power tools helping to build and fix things in the church. Perhaps help others in building and repairing their lives through Christ. At the time I was long into my Real Estate career. So I figured if I work harder I could make enough money so I could take time off to work more at the church. Problem and trick the devil had for me was the harder I worked the more successful I became. The more successful I became the more money I made. It does not take a lot of head scratching to figure out I focused on the money and not God.

So what would you say are the percentages of me listening to God. Giving up a successful career. Having my wife give up her career which she spent nearly 21 years at the same company. Literally give up our lives because Dad knows in his heart God wants us to leave and start anew? That's what we did in 2005. We left our careers, sold our condo, burned our bridges and left the only home we knew. No family. No job awaited us in Alabama. Just knew God wanted us here. It has been a financial disaster. A spiritual crisis. A humbling of near biblical proportions. But our faith in God is stronger than ever. My wife and both children accepted Christ here in Alabama. Baptized in our church. Forever children of God. What would you calculate the percentages for all that? Perhaps 10,000 to 1? Or perhaps 1,000,000 to 1? To just get up and move over 3,000 miles for what? The unknown? That is how it has been. As a family we face that challenge to, “Never Give Up!” God has carried us through this and will continue. We cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel but we do not need too. Our faith is in God. Are we bullet proof? Absolutely not! Are we scared? Shaking in our boots. Like the song says, “I don't have to be strong enough.”

God has given me a street witnessing ministry. A quest to build an army of witnesses to engage our enemy on the field of battle. To “Go” as it is written.

Then He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15 (HCSB)

There is no money in ministry. No financial reason for anyone to look at it as a career choice. The percentage of ministers leaving the ministry is at epidemic proportions. The average stay of a pastor at one church has dropped to 18 months or less. Not encouraging. Pastorate is just one part of the body of Christ. For the true church is the Body of Christ. Not four walls and steeple.

The problem with the church is simple. We are not outside those four walls plowing the soil and planting the seed. If I did. If we did! Hundreds of new Christian brothers and sisters would be rushing to our churches. Begging for the bread of life. Our pastors would be preaching daily instead of once or twice on any given Sunday. Our cup would simply run if over. Discouragement within the ministry would fade away. Few would question why churches receive a non-profit status because our society would clearly see the benefits the church is doing for the community. As it was not so long ago.

I think Donald Trump has it right. Never Give Up!

Teach, Preach and Reach

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