Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hot Topics

The Hot Topics have been chosen and the series has been put together.  We are going to spend some time seeking biblical answers and perspectives on these tough issues.

July 26 – Ground Rules – Use/Misuse of the Bible & FAQ’s
Topics included: Reliability of the Bible, Biblical Inspiration and interpretation.  Biblical worldviews and other worldviews and what to do when they don’t agree?
August 2 - Talking to and hearing from God
Topics included: Discerning God’s voice, Speaking in tongues, prayer  
August 9 – Racism, Sexism and other ism’s
Topics included: Racism, Sexism, Class-ism, Us and them vs a we mentality
August 16 – God, Sex and Sexuality
Topics included: Is sex God’s idea?, Pre-marital sex, homosexuality, sexual identity
August 23 – Marriage
Topics included: Same sex marriage, Christian Marriage & Legal Marriage, Polygamy, Monogamy
August 30 – Can Christian’s Divorce?  Can Christians Remarry?
Topics included: How does God feel about divorce?, divorce, adultery, remarriage.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Intent and Purpose of Reading the Bible

"How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you."  Psalm 119:9-11

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do." James 1:22-25

Psalm 119 and James 1 are just two of the many places in the Bible that talk to us about the purpose and intent of scripture reading.  The intent of reading the Bible is not to merely read it.  It is not like other books, wherein we seek to read it to just be entertained by a story or to gain some knowledge.  The ultimate intent of reading God's word is to have it written on us.  To have what we read and who we encounter in the Living Word transform and change who we are.  Reading and meditating on God's word is intended to change our hearts, our minds and our character.  The goal is not that we can quote the scriptures word for word but rather that we live the scriptures by doing what it says.  In fact, the Bible warns us about just having knowledge of the scriptures and what they say and not living the truth of scripture.  Ironically, doing so is a sign of not having knowledge of God's word.

When we read with the intent of getting the scripture all the way through us and etched on the core of our being rather than just getting through the scripture, we are open to the work of the Spirit through the word to change us.   Reading the Bible with the intent of being changed by God through it means that as we read and meditate on its truth we allow it to read us.  It is a mirror that reflects back to us who we are in our weakness, in our sin, in our frailties and our shortcomings.  It reflects back to us our defiance and our rebelliousness.  However, that is not all that it reflects to us.  In it we see who we are in Christ.  We can see what we are becoming as we allow God to transform us through his Living Word.  We discover God's love, grace and purpose for our lives.  We encounter God.

This is what makes the Bible different from all other books.  This is what makes it a Living Word packed with the only power to transform and change us from the inside out.

May we all be changed by the encounter that we have with God in and through His word today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What Translation of the Bible Should We Read?

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 
Romans 12:3 (New International Version)

 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 
Romans 12:3 (King James Version)

Because of the privilege and authority[c] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Romans 12:3 (New Living Translation)

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. 
Romans 12:3 (The Message)

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 
Romans 12:3 (New American Standard Version)

Por la gracia que se me ha dado, les digo a todos ustedes: Nadie tenga un concepto de sí más alto que el que debe tener, sino más bien piense de sí mismo con moderación, según la medida de fe que Dios le haya dado.
Romans 12:3 (Nueva Versión Internacional)

As a pastor people will often ask me what translation of the Bible should they read.  I always tell them they should begin with one that they can understand.  I do not know Spanish.  I can't even begin to understand what God is speaking to me when I read a translation of the Bible in Spanish.  This is the very reason that the Bible is translated and we have multiple translations.  So  that we can hear and understand what God is saying to each of us through the scriptures.  

We need to find a translation that is easy for us to read and understand.  The blessing of the many translations is that we can usually find one that is written in a manner that  we can understand.  When preaching I tend to read from the NIV because it is pretty easy for many to understand and is not filled with language that is different from the everyday speech of the people of my congregation.  However, when it comes to study of the scriptures and meditating on their meaning I will read multiple translations.  They help me to think bigger and understand more deeply the thought being expressed.

Romans 3 says to think about myself soberly or with sober judgement.  What does this mean?  Well, by looking at other translation I can see that this is about being honest in my evaluation of myself.  It means that I should not think that I am better than I really am and that I should not misinterpret as someone that brings goodness to God but that God brings goodness to me.  

As you make scripture reading and reflection a daily part of your life I encourage you to read multiple version and reflect upon what the different translation help to bring out for you.  Allow His word to be written on your heart and your life so that others might understand more fully what God is saying to them through you.

It has been said many times that we may be the only Bible that some people will ever read.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A New Command

In our day and age with technology we really have no excuse not to read God's word.  It can be accessed online and on your phone and you can receive daily reminders through text, email and other means to nudge you and say "read the Bible today".  I use several different means to encourage me to get into the Bible and read it.  I have a couple of friends who text me each morning with a scripture and a reflection.  I have the Bible app on my phone ( well as BibleGateway ( that each give me a daily scripture reading.  We print the Revised Common Lectionary ( in our bulletin each week for everyone to have access to daily readings.  Many people tell me I want to read the Bible but don't know where to begin so I never pick it up.  Try using one of these resources or the several others available to take the first step in opening the book.

This morning the Bible app gave me this verse to read and reflect upon.

"A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples of you love one another." John 13:34-35

These are the words of Jesus.  In some Bibles, Jesus words are written in red.  This is red letter stuff. This is a new command given by Jesus to us and it expresses what is at the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus and and live in relationship with him.  If we are following Jesus our love will give us away.  Our love, the way that we love one another will be the true mark of whether we are living in relationship with Jesus or not.  As we grow in relationship with Him our love will grow and become more like His.  Jesus says, "as I have loved you, so you must love one another."  Our love will give us away.  It is not how well we know the Bible or how often we go to church that will allow others to know that we are followers of Jesus, it's our love for one another.  While reading the Bible and church attendance helps us to have his word written on our hearts and worship, serve and grow in relationship with Him they are not the marks of true disciples, they are what disciples do so that there love becomes more likes His.  If not, if they are our end rather than the means to a deeper relationship with Christ, we are just playing church.  We fool no one.  They don't see love.  Too often they see people who claim to be followers of Jesus casting judgement and condemnation.  Instead of love they see churches that wont except them or that look down at them.

"A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Gracious God, I pray that I might love like you so that other may see in my love that I am a follower of you.  Amen

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,

Monday, June 1, 2015

Try it! You will like it.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."
Psalm 34:8

I remember as a kid, and with my own children, how when trying something new it would often take some encouragement.  Whether it was a new food or a new practice my parents would encourage me to give it a try.  You can't say you don't like it or that it does not work until you try it.  Give it a shot. Try it!  Taste it!  You don't know until you try.

I am encouraging my church family to try arranging their lives around six practices that we see the people in the early church doing every day.  I am encouraging them and anyone else reading this blog to try and spend time each day reading God's word and reflecting upon it so that it shapes the way that the live their lives.  To devote each day to intentional spiritual growth through encountering God in His word, Spirit-empowered prayer. life-changing worship, Christ-centered fellowship, risk-taking missions and service, and radical hospitality and faith sharing.

They say that it takes 21 days to make a habit and I want to encourage to try for 21 days arranging your life around these practices that will help you connect to God and grow in relationship with Him. Create a habit of scripture reading, prayer, worship, service and faith sharing.  Try it! You will like it.

I would love for you to share your experience with me through this blog.  Let me know how it is going and what God is revealing to you.  Let's grow together.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,

Friday, May 1, 2015

More on "Instead"

This word is just hanging with me and continuing to cause me to reflect upon my relationship with God.  I wonder what are those things that we chose to do instead of growing and maturing in our relationship with Christ.  If we are not growing and maturing the truth is we are doing something else instead.

I think it was Ray Kroc, the McDonald's founder that said, "when you are green, you are growing and when you are ripe you rot."  When the growing stops you start dying.  This is true of living organism.  It is true of plants.  It is true for us.  Instead of growing we start dying.  Instead of living the life that God calls us to and becoming the people that God calls us to be, we start dying.  We don't grow and mature, instead we wither and die. We dry up.  We are drained of life giving power.  We are emptied of life.

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ."  Ephesians 4:15

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:15 NIV

Reading Ephesians this morning I was drawn to the word that starts the 15th verse.  It is one of those words that we can just rush by in reading or, like it did this morning, make you stop and really think about what it is being said.  Paul is saying we should do something instead of something else. He is saying that we should speak the truth in love and grow and mature and become like Christ.  Instead of, if we read the previous verses, not maturing or growing up and just going with the flow and listening to whatever teaching is popular for the day.

He is saying try something different than what you are doing.  Instead of doing what everyone else is doing, instead of doing what feels good to me, instead being immature in the faith, grow up.  Instead of acting like everyone else be like Christ.  Instead of doing what the world wants you to do be what Christ is calling you to be.


Things can be different.
We have another choice.

The other option is one that we often fail to grasp hold of and claim for our lives.  We can allow GOd to do a work in us to make us grow and mature and be like Jesus.  To make our heart, mind and character like Jesus.  I chose love.

Love today instead of not loving.
Care for others instead of just looking out for yourself.
Spend time recognizing that God is with you today instead of just hurrying through the day.
Live today instead of existing.
Grow today instead of being stagnant and unchanged.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,