Monday, April 29, 2013

The Lord's Prayer - Pt.1

"Lord, Teach us to pray."

That was their request, "Teach us to pray."  Do we ask that of our Savior?  No, but perhaps we should.

Instead we go about the task of praying as if rubbing a bottle and expecting a genie to grant our every whim, or we view it as grueling and tiresome.  More of a requirement than the privilege it is.

Prayer is unfortunately an area where many believers are weak and in need of instruction.  "Lord, teach us to pray."

To my dismay, the model that Jesus used to 'teach' the disciples has become something it was not designed to become, but before we tackle that hurtle let us first heed the instructions of our Lord.

In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus provides both negative and positive examples of prayer.  To address what NOT to do, He used the hypocrites (a term He often called the Pharisees), who desire "to be seen by others"  and the Gentiles, who use "meaningless babble" so that "they will be heard for their many words."

What's the problem?  Well, as I see it the issue Jesus was addressing was that of their hearts not focusing on the right thing when they pray.  You see, prayer (in its simplest definition) is communication with God.  It is to be for an audience of One - that being the Sovereign, Almighty, Creator God.  Anything that distracts us or seeks to reward us for our prayers actually robs God of the glory due His name.  The reward sought by these will be achieved, but at what cost?

What is the cost of self glorification?  I'm sure you could read pages of negative results from this behavior, but as I see it the ultimate cost is the personal relationship with the Father.  This behavior is driven by pride and pride is not conducive to a healthy relationship with God.  Pride is sin and sin is what separates us from the Father.  A healthy prayer life fosters communication with God and maturity in the life of the believer.

So, what positive examples did Jesus give?  First He instructs that prayer is a secret act.  This does not mean that prayer cannot be done in public, but rather that prayer begins in the heart.  No one knows your heart but the Father and He sees and rewards that which is done in secret.  Secondly, our prayers are not 'meaningless babble' but rather honest communication with God.  God knows what we need (even before the words touch our lips), our prayers express our faith that God will supply that which we need (not what we GREED).

How is your prayer life?  Could you use some instruction?  Let the Master teach you to pray.

For the full message shared on 04-28-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
The LORD's Prayer - Pt.1

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Where is God?

Don't deny it.  You've asked that question before.  This past week many have had their faith shaken and have even come to the point of asking, "Where is God?"

We look around and see the tragedy of the bombings in Boston and ask, "Where is God?"  We reflect on the events of the past year in New Port or Aurora and wonder, "Where is God?"

Where is God when bad things happen to good people?  Where is God when our lives are shaken and our faith is tested?

Where is God?  He is where He has always been; right here, there, everywhere.  In Genesis we see that in the beginning there was God.  And it was God who created and formed the earth, the sky, and the seas.  It was God who placed the sun, moon, and stars in the sky.  It was this Creator God who formed the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and every animal that roams the earth.

Then, this awesome, powerful God made man in His image and formed woman out of man's rib.  He placed man in the Garden and gave him dominion over everything with one caveat - Don't eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  In an act of rebellion, Adam and Eve chose to listen to the serpent who deceived them with a lie.

Their rebellion, sin, forever created a chasm between God and man that man is unable to traverse.  So God, being great in mercy and full of compassion, sent His Son (Jesus Christ) to bridge the gap created by sin.  It is only through Jesus that we have opportunity have fellowship with the Father.

But where is God when things like the Boston bombing happen?  He is right there.  He has never left, but because of sin we simply don't see His presence.  But God is there.  Where ever suffering is, you can find God.  You see suffering has its purpose.  God uses suffering to bring Him glory, to correct sin, or to develop character in the lives of His children.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't understand why children die in despicable acts of violence; but through suffering I do know that God has His purpose and I do trust Him.

For the full message shared on 04-21-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
Where is God

Monday, April 15, 2013


Over the years my wife and I have remodeled the homes we have lived in.  Now, if you have never undergone the process of a remodel there are a few things you need to know.

Remodeling can be disruptive.  There is the noise of cutting and hammering and removing the trash; but you also have to deal with all the dust that remodeling creates.

But in order for you to experience the transformation that occurs in a remodel, you must put up with the pain of tearing our the old.

This is exactly what God desires to do in the lives of every believer.  Brokenness is the key to achieving breakthroughs in our lives.  God wants to reveal His Son in our lives, but first He must remove everything that is in the way: our pride, independence, self-sufficiency, and sin.

Revealing these ingrained attributes that cause us to rebel against God is messy business.  But brokenness must come before we can experience a breakthrough.  Consider the picture of a wild horse.

While living in Montana, I was privileged to know a few cowboys who broke horses.  Now a wild horse doesn't mind when the cowboy provides food, water, and shelter, but once that cowboy tries to get on their back - watch out!  That horse will buck and kick, twist and turn; anything to get that cowboy off his back.

Isn't that what we do to God?  As He begins the remodel process, we balk.  Just like the wild stallion we say, "God you can bless me all you want.  Provide me with food, a job, a house, a family, etc... but don't get on my back.  Don't tell me how to live."

You see, the goal of the cowboy is to get the horse to submit to the directions of another.  In the wild, the horse is free to go where he wants, when he wants, and with whomever he wants.  Once it is broken, the strength of the horse is not changed; its muscles have not diminished, it hasn't lost its God given uniqueness or identity as a horse.  It's just a horse under the control of another.  Same is true with you and I.

God wants to break us in order to make us.  Paul says in 2 Cor. 1:8-9, "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death”
Sometimes God will take us further than we can bear so that we can no longer trust ourselves, our resources,  our abilities.  He says, "I want you to trust Me."  Who are you trusting?  Maybe it's time for you to be broken.

For the full message shared on 04-14-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Living Sacrifice



Whenever you come across this word in Scripture you need to stop and see what it is there for...

In Romans we find four instances of "Therefore..."

We have the therefore of Condemnation in 3:20 - "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."

The therefore of justification in 5:1 - "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Then there is the therefore of assurance in 8:1- "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

And finally, the therefore of surrender in Romans 12:1 - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."

Paul calls us to fully surrendered to God because of the "depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond finding out…for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36.

He gives three ways to fully surrender: 
Offering our body, Offering our mind, & Offering our will.

This reminds me of Christ's response to the Pharisees when asked what the greatest commandment is.  He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength, and with all your soul."

ALL.  Are you ready to FULLY surrender to God?

For the full message shared on 04-07-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
Living Sacrifice

Monday, April 1, 2013

End of the Walking Dead

Of all the topics I thought I'd never use from the pulpit (especially on Easter Sunday) zombie would likely top the list... but alas God had other plans.

  A man named Brown was hanged in Philadelphia some time ago. Ten minutes after he was legally dead he was resting on a table in the physiological laboratory. Around the table were three of the most famous physiologists of the scientific world. Could motion and life be restored to that inanimate body? Science waited anxiously for an answer to the question.

 A sharp wire, charged with electricity, was applied to the various nerve centers of the body and brain. A superstitious layman would have been horrified at the result. Brown raised first his right hand and then his left. His head moved. His mouth twitched in a convulsive grin. The cords of his neck swelled and the mouth opened as if he would complete his unfinished sentence on the scaffold. The hands drew up and then extended. Unceasingly the electric wire prodded center after center in the nervous organism. At a fresh touch from the plying needle the body sat upright. There seemed to be breath, for the respiratory organs were agitated. Would he walk? Would he talk?

Science was anxious; another stroke and it had found the secret of life. But placed on the floor, the body fell over limp—dead. Science had demonstrated wonders, but had failed to raise the dead.  As I thought about this idea, initially Frankenstein came to mind, then with all the hype surrounding the finale of The Walking Dead I thought of how our lives before Christ was much like that of a zombie.  Yes, you heard me right, here it is Easter morning and I’m talking about zombies from the pulpit.  But much like Mr. Brown or the zombies in The Waling Dead, every person born into life is dead.  Yes, I know that sounds absurd; but turn with me to Eph. 2:1-10 where we find the End of the Walking Dead.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

For the full message shared on 03-31-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
End of the Walking Dead