Of Judgment and Community Learning

Today’s Reading: Romans 1:18-2:10

I want to talk a little ‘inside baseball’ here.¬† I am a pastor and have been in full-time ministry for 8 years this month.¬† Often times, no matter how much Biblical knowledge you have on any given subject, it can be hard to know what God wants to have happen.¬† During those times, a plurality of Godly leaders is a real advantage, as you can collectively consider a matter from several angles and more correctly interpret the consequences of any given action.

There’s a reason for this.¬† I am going to let you in on a little secret that not everyone knows – The Bible doesn’t explain everything completely.¬† I think it was designed that way for a reason…so that we would come together around God’s Word more, but the bottom line is, there are tons of unanswered questions for any given passage.

In my reading today, Paul warns the Roman believers about judging each other.¬† The paraphrased version is this: Don’t judge each other.¬† If you judge someone for something they do when you do the very same things yourself, you only make it worse on yourself.

Seems pretty straight forward right?¬† Well, it’s giving me fits tonight.¬† I mean, on one hand, I can see the obvious implications of it.¬† But what does this look like in not-so-obvious situations?¬† For example, one of my responsibilities at Lakeside is to assist in finding other leaders in the church.¬† Often times, their personal character and how they live plays a huge role in who is selected.¬† Now, is that not judging someone?¬† Am I not really saying “Well, so-and-so yells at his kids and wife a lot so he doesn’t really possess a Godly character for leadership.”¬† I am basically rendering a verdict on whether or not that person is fit to lead.¬† Is that not judging?¬† After all, rendering a verdict is what judges do best!

Also, I’ve yelled at my wife and kid before.¬† Am I saying that I just don’t do it as much?¬† Is that not saying that my level of righteousness is appropriate but the person’s is not?

Anyway, these are all tough questions from just one passage in the Bible that at first glance seems so harmless.¬† 1 Timothy gives us the qualifications of a leader and one of them is slowness to anger.¬† I have a responsibility it would seem to pick our leaders on that basis but yet, I know it’s wrong to judge as well.

I am thankful that I do not make these decisions alone.  I have been a part of a team of Godly men in our church who are God-fearing and humble and I have more confidence in decisions that we make together.  I believe this is how we should operate as a church, and I am so proud to see it happening at Lakeside.

Many of you know that Mike Roos, one of our Shepherd Leaders, is moving to Washington soon.¬† Also, Gregg Freeman is deploying to Iraq.¬† They will leave big shoes to fill and we must grow again and fill them.¬† Some of you all will have to step up…All of us will, actually.¬† But we will do it well, because we’ll do it together.

From start to finish

Today’s reading: Romans 1:8-17

Of all the books in the Bible, I think Romans has by far the most doctrine.  In our culture and around the world in religion, the issue of faith and works and how they work together is a huge subject.

Paul says in this passage, that the Good News or the gospel “tells us how God makes us right in his sight.¬† This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. (v.17)”

Faith completes the work.  Completely.  We are changed from the inside out to do good works, but faith is what makes us right Рcompletely right, as in perfect Рwith God.

Other passages I am reading: Proverbs 1:1-33

Jesus: more than a man with a resume

It’s time to start a new book in my quiet time and I decided to study Romans ¬†since it’s been about a year. ¬†I hope I try to at least read through Romans once or twice a year, but this time I am going to try to study it more and I will try to write about what I’m reading here.

Today’s Reading: Romans 1:1-7

I hope I articulate this well, but here is what struck me about today’s reading. ¬†As Paul opens up this letter, he talks about who Jesus is; that he was a man, born into David’s lineage and one who basically meets the requirements of what the prophets spoke of concerning the Messiah. ¬†I want to specify that He ‘met the requirements’ but probably didn’t ‘fit the profile’. ¬†This is why so many had a hard time believing in Him. ¬†However, I don’t think that Paul thought much of Him ‘meeting the requirements’. ¬†Instead, I affirm what he says in verse 4, that he was “shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit.”

Fulfilling prophecy is an important part of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. ¬†It completes the picture of God’s redemptive plan…one He had from the start. ¬†However, without the resurrection, Jesus is just a man with a good-looking resume. ¬†The resurrection affirms His deity.

Paul concludes this section with a call to everyone of us.  The call to share the gospel with the unbelieving world.  He mentions that as members of the body of Christ, this call is extended to all the believers in Rome, and we know that this goes for us too.

My prayer today is for our church to take part in the work that God has called each and everyone of to. ¬†Be there for a friend. ¬†Help a neighbor with his yard work. ¬†Invite someone to church. ¬†And do it all with purpose…that one day God will use you to reach that person with His Good News.

The Last Lecture

About a year and a half ago, I heard of a professor named Randy Pausch who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.¬† He was married, had 3 young children, and he was dying.¬† He gave what was called “The Last Lecture” at his school, Carnegie Mellon, and it was very inspiring.¬† It became a huge YouTube hit, he was featured on Oprah and other tv shows and I started following his blog.¬† Randy died on July 25, 2008.

While preparing for this week’s message, I remembered something that Randy said that has stuck with me for some time now…

“A real apology only has 3 parts…
I am sorry. I was wrong. What can I do to make it right?”

In case some of you would like to see Randy’s lecture, I’ve embedded it below…

Current Series: Chazown

Everyone ends up somewhere…but not everyone ends up somewhere on purpose!

In five years would you like to have a stronger relationship with God?  With your spouse? Would you like to be in better shape?  What about your finances?  Your worklife?  All of these things are great things to achieve and none of them will happen unless you have a plan.

Chazown is a Hebrew word that means dream, revelation or vision.¬† Without a dream, you won’t end up anywhere on purpose.¬† Join us for this 6 week series in the month of March.

We’re not volunteers…we’re chosen

I was reading in 2 Corinthians 6 today…

We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act…
2 Corinthians 6:3

Being a Christian is tough. ¬†Being a Christian in Utah is really tough. ¬†We’re trying to walk in grace at all times so that others can see our lives and find forgiveness themselves while at the same time, we are mindful to not do anything that would hinder someone coming to Christ. ¬†That’s tough for me. ¬†When it comes to setting an example for my neighbors, in some areas I don’t have a problem and in some I struggle more. ¬†For example, while I don’t believe that abstaining from work on Sunday is necessary, I have no problem taking the day off so that my neighbors aren’t vexed by the sight of me mowing my lawn on the “Sabbath”.

I happen to not like alcohol and I don’t smoke so those aren’t problems. ¬†However, I sometimes rent movies that I shouldn’t and the person at Blockbuster knows that even if no one else does.

Why am I bringing all of this up to you? ¬†Because I’m am convicted today about the reality that we are not volunteers…we’re chosen.

You may not want to be involved in bringing the people in our community to Christ, but you need to realize that you are called to do just that. ¬†Utah is less than 2% evangelical Christian. ¬†For every 100 people, there might be 2 who know God’s plan for salvation. ¬†You may not like it, but if you live in Utah, you are called to this mission. ¬†Plain and simple. ¬†We can’t wait for volunteers. ¬†There’s a world out there that is lost and if you aren’t willing to tell them, then you’re putting all of the responsibility on that other person (out of 100) to do the work.

I want to encourage you to live as a chosen one.  The one that God has called to do His great work in Syracuse and the surrounding community.

Nicodemus is coming

I was reading John today and came across the story of Nicodemus in chapter 3. ¬†The thing that I love about that story is that the scripture points out that it was after dark one evening when Nicodemus came to ask Jesus some questions. ¬†Being one of the Jewish religious leaders who were actively seeking to discredit Jesus, he didn’t want them to know that he was struggling and needed some answers and believed in his heart that Jesus had them.

I think there are a lot of people like that in the world and in our community.  I hope our church becomes a light in the city for people to turn to when they need answers.  Last year our focus was getting into the city.  This year, our focus is being here for the city.  I am honored to serve here with you all.

New series “Kaleo” coming in April!

kaleo

1 Peter 2:21 (NIV), “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps,” is the foundation of the upcoming message series, Kaleo. Join us as we learn God’s call on each of our lives and how to be set apart and ready to follow His divine calling.

We plan to do this series just before moving in to the new building, so hopefully sometime in March!