Monday, January 22, 2018

January 22, 2018 - Heading To The Right Goal


The past few weeks have brought a few instances on the basketball court that brought confusion… All were in sincere excitement or effort but nonetheless confusion…



First was when our high school boys team was playing in a holiday tourney in Florida. They were in the championship game, and at the time sporting an undefeated record. I pulled up the internet sites that had updates and streaming of the game; with great anticipation of seeing how they were doing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the live stream to work, so I went to looking at comments to try to keep up. When I first checked in we were down and obviously not putting the ball in the hole. As I checked back in we had closed the gap tremendously and made a game of it. When I finally got an update, I read what I had been longing to see, that the Lions had won! (I even bragged to the people I was with.) Then came the realization that I was confused… as I read the comments about our boys’ good effort and that the other team was also called the Lions. SAME NAME BUT DIFFERENT TEAMS…



The other times of confusion as of late, were not on my part but instead on the part of some eager players on our middle school teams. it happened twice, once in a boys’ game and once in a girls’. The players were trying so hard and so excited to get an opportunity to score that they took off dribbling to the wrong goal… RIGHT MOTIVES AND RIGHT EFFORT BUT WRONG DIRECTION…



These came to mind during my drive today as I was thinking about the confusion that takes place so often in the sharing of the Gospel. I don’t think it will come as a shock to anyone reading this that not everyone who uses the name of Christian is on the same team… often times, that name is attributed to a works-based, man-made religion. Yet my big fear is that we often fall victim to sincerely trying to share our faith but getting caught up in common phrases, clich├ęs, and church-speak that points us in the wrong direction and leads to the wrong goal…



This is nothing new… in fact, Paul confronted Peter about adding things that distorted the Gospel and pointed to the “wrong goal.” Galatians 2 records that some false teachers had come in, (verse 4 stating they “came in by stealth…”), but that he (Paul) and his brethren stood firm in the true Gospel. Later in the chapter Paul admits that Peter and others were playing the hypocrite and needed to be reminded firmly of the clarity of the Gospel.



I love verse 16 as it points us back to the “right goal”, JESUS!, and what He has done. It states, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”



So we need to be sure that every Gospel message is completely focused on the work of Christ… what He has done for us… not what we do or promise to do for Him!



I write about this often… reminding us of basic truths that it is not our commitment to Him that saves, but His commitment to us. And lately I have been thinking through another time that Peter was “heading to the wrong goal.”



In John 13 is one of my favorite stories of Christ… but we can learn a lot from Peter as well. Peter is sincere and motivated to do the right thing… and as Jesus prepares to wash Peter’s feet, Peter boldly proclaims, “You shall never wash my feet!” (See verse 8) Peter is recognizing Christ lordship and making it clear that Jesus is the leader and he the follower, yet that is not what Christ called for at the time… Christ instead tells Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (And on top of all of this Jesus already knew that Peter would mess up some of the following promises.)



I could go on and on about this topic, and you may already be tired of reading, so I will wrap up with reminding us that the Gospel needs to “point at the right goal”… directly at Jesus. Always ask if you are telling a person to serve or be served… it is good to serve but that is not what Jesus says is first… we must always tell that it starts with allowing Him to serve us… and celebrate His death and resurrection on our behalf!

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 15, 2018 - PARTICIPATE NOT SPECTATE


For the past couple of weeks, I have been writing about the importance of playing with a purpose... about “lacing up our shoes” with intention of competing hard…



In yesterday’s message, our pastor made a couple points that flow well with our theme. He brought up how frequently fans use the term “we” when talking about their favorite teams. The pastor is in Alabama and proved his point by quoting how Crimson Tide fans tend to talk; he used the national championship game from last Monday as an example… i.e. “we need to get Jalen Hurts out of the game” – “we need to get Tua into the game” – “we need to block better” – “we need to… (fill in the blank)” – “we won!” I think you get the picture…



He then reminded us that the “we” is stated by people that never put on pads, lay down a block, run the ball, catch the ball, etc. The “we” is mostly coming from spectators, not participators…


I have no problem with excited fans; yet in the church we have a lot of “we” talk that is accompanied by complaining or even celebrating by folks that follow the mentality that being a spectator makes one a part of the success of the team.



As believers, we need to be reminded that we are all called to participate! (Not for salvation… that is due entirely to Christ’s participation on our behalf!) But once we are saved, we are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” (Eph. 2:10)



WE ARE CALLED TO GIVE… TO PRAY… TO SERVE… NOT JUST TO WATCH AND CHEER!



I don’t know what your resolUtions were this year, but today’s should be to Make A Difference by being an active participant in God’s work in the world!



1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, ALWAYS abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.