Sunday, March 26, 2006


NOW – in life “do-overs” are not the norm… Not many second chances exist in the world today.. Just ask the kid who didn’t make the hockey team or the guy who got fired or the mother of two who dumped for a ‘pretty little thing.’ Not many second chances. Nowadays it’s more like, “now or never,” “Around here we don’t tolerate incompetence” “Three strikes and your out..”

BUT wouldn’t it be great if there were do overs.. A cop stops you for speeding, you just tear up the ticket and say – “Thanks officer but I’ll be taking a do over today…” You fail a test, blow a presentation at work, or invest in the wrong company, forget to send in your taxes – JUST take a do over…I wonder if, in our relationship with God, a do over is not a dream it is a reality….That GOD, is the GOD of the do over; the GOD of the fresh start!
When Do You Need A Do Over?

1. When You Give Into Temptation and Fall Into Sin
David was the man. He was the one everyone looked to. He was a hero. He was a mighty warrior for God. When an entire army was afraid he was the one who stepped into the valley to face a 10 foot giant. He was a powerful king who won many victories for God. This man wrote some awesome songs of praise and he was not the least bit afraid to let it all hang out in worship. The people loved and praised him and when God looked at him he said, “there is a man after my own heart..”

David was riding high and that is what made his fall. 2 Samuel 11 opens with David sending his armies out to fights and he stays back in Jerusalem and this is where his problems start.. . David stayed home he should have been out doing battle for the Lord, but he stayed home. Understand, if he had gone where he should have gone and had done what he should have done, these chapters in his life could have been avoided. Isn’t this when we get ourselves into trouble, when we are not doing the things we should be doing, and when we are not going where we should be going. It is at these times when we are most susceptible to temptation and sin.... and when we will write chapters in our live that one day we will regret. David was home and, he was not home alone. One evening he went up on to his roof to take a walk and while he was up there he saw a beautiful woman bathing (Bathseba)... Whether David went up there to see just such a thing we do not know -- but we do know that he could have looked the other way -- but he didn’t…

2. You Need A Do Over When Life Beats You Up
“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters and he owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys, and a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the east.” Job 1:1-3How would you like to be that guy? When we think of Job we don’t think about him being the greatest man among all the people of the east. NO, we think of man who in an instant lost all his children, he lost all of his wealth, he lost his health and when his friends come to comfort him, they tell him that he must have been pretty bad to get it so bad… Sometimes life beats us up as well, and we need a new beginning… Relational storms, health storms, financial storms and emotional storms beat against us…The damage can be severe. Maybe right now life is beating you up, you’re tired, discouraged, you’re not sure how much more you can take…you don’t know where to turn… You need a do over.

3. You Need A Do Over When You’ve Got The Blues
When people looked at him they said “Elijah, you’re the man!” And they were right. If the Biography channel was to do a story of Elijah it’d be awesome… They’d show him multiplying a widows food, raising her dead son, Going toe to toe with false prophets on Mt Carmel and kicking all their butts and no doubt the final image would be of God taking him to heaven in that fiery chariot. But in 1 Kings chapter 19… Elijah got a major case of the blues. For some reason when the wicked Queen Jezebel threatened him, Elijah got scared and ran away to the wilderness. “’I have had enough Lord, Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors’ Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep..” 1 Kings 19:4,5

Have you ever felt that way? You’re doing all you can and that one thing happens and you can’t take any more. “Lord I’ve had enough… I can’t take anymore of this…”

4. You Need A Do Over When Pride Has You Headed Down The Wrong Road
Saul knew he was right. He was sure that he was doing the right thing. He was confident in the actions that he was taken. But he had no idea that what he was doing, was wrong – very wrong. In an instant all the wrongness of his actions became crystal clear in the glare of that bright light on the road to Damascus… Saul of Tarsus needed a do over, a fresh start, a new beginning…. Maybe your pride has sent you at breakneck speed in the wrong direction. Maybe you are beginning to realize that a lot of what you were doing is wrong…IF so you need a do over…

5. You Need A Do Over When You Didn’t Do What You Said You Do
“Lord even if everyone else falls away – you can count on me, I’ll never deny you.” And the rooster crowed and Peter denied Jesus three times. MAYBE – you are in a similar situation… “Not me I’ll never do that – I’ll never be like them…”

Why would God give us a ‘do over….?’ What are your ‘do overs?’

Monday, March 20, 2006


On February 13 I started a discussion on Fasting. If you go back to that post, you will see in the comments that I left much scripture in support of the need to fast in the comments. So I continue…

“The Christian fast signifies, above all, an exercise of penitence and sacrifice; but, already for the Fathers, it also had the aim of rendering man more open to the encounter with GOD and making a Christian more capable of self-dominion and at the same time more attentive to those in need.”(

Fasting is univocally commended by the early church Fathers, along with disciplines such as prayer and silence, interestingly enough fasting is the universally applied spiritual discipline.

The saints of the church speak with one voice: gluttony is a great sin and fasting is a great virtue. The New Testament sets forth a powerful concept that the appetites or lusts of the body are seen as the root of much evil. Anyone can appreciate the inner battle between the good the “spirit” wants and the sin that is the tendency of our flesh. Simply put, physical disciplines aid our spiritual development precisely because the body and the soul are so intricately intertwined. One reason we should fast is to develop self control. Through out his writings, Paul consistently urges moderation and self-control; something that our culture is not good with.

Fasting is a spiritual remedy to what is, really, a spiritual problem. To fast shows our reliance on GOD for all things. It reminds us that we are, ultimately, spiritual beings. It confirms that “man does not live by bread alone.” Fasting trains us in righteousness and as we practice this form of self control we are not alone…the Holy Spirit is there with us as we develop the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Most people find fasting next to impossible simply because food has both a physical and a psychological hold on us. The cravings can be hard to deal with but the psychological dependence on food can be ever harder to break. Most of us pattern our lives around to three meals and many snacks per day and we feel incomplete with the oral fixation of food or coffee or gum. One of the disciplines of the fast is to find other prayerful or otherwise productive ways to use the time usually spent eating and drinking.

John Chrysostom said:

“Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works!
Is it said by what kind of works?
If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him!
If thou seest an enemy, be reconciled to him!
If thou seest a friend gaining honor, envy him not!
If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by!
For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles.
Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties.
For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the while safety of the soul: but if it be lawful and safe it adorns fasting.
For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful foods because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Doest thou not eat flesh? Food not upon lasciviousness by mean of the eyes.
Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speaking and calumnies. “Thou shalt not receive a false report,” it says.


Monday, March 13, 2006


Just what is ‘balance’ in a spiritual community? The word ‘balance’ is not always perceived as a good word. For those who embrace ‘balance,’ they may have in their minds the need for security, keeping away from extremes or playing by the book. In a spiritual community there is a lot of validity in this outlook.

However, others when they hear the word ‘balance’ they shudder. For them, when they hear the word ‘balance,’ they thinking BORING! These people are the ones who will say if you want to get things done in this world you will have to take risks and maybe even be perceived as an extremist. Jesus was hated by the ‘balanced’ religious leaders of the day because he was viewed as extreme.

Now, the proponents of ‘balance’ as well as the opposers each have a valid viewpoint and to complicate things, GOD created us all differently. We are all wired to react in different ways to different situations and one person’s balance is another person’s extreme.

In a spiritual community (church) many people see the Christian life simply in terms of their journey with GOD. They spend time in prayer and study, they gather at church as long as it helps them with their connection with GOD. They are quite happy not to get involved in the lives of others. If we were to look at Christian history, a logical extension of this kind of lopsided Christianity was found in the monastic period. Then, life was spent in prayer and study, but the truth concerning evangelism, being the salt and light in our culture, and providing input and solutions to many of the problems the world was facing was conveniently forgotten. The irony is that many of those who practiced this monasticism have given us great insights on topics such as solitude, prayer, personal discipline, but one has to wonder if they failed in fulfilling the Great Commission?

Without question our relationship with GOD is highly important, yet it appears that our faith must always be connected to one another. Jesus talked about loving GOD with all our heart, soul and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. So does worship lead to work? Does prayer lead to preaching? Does contemplation lead to community? The Christian life is not just about GOD, but it is about people as well! Where is the balance? The church is about worshiping GOD and loving people and from my personal experience the latter area is the hardest of all. Learning to forgive, and receive forgiveness, loving and serving and encouraging one another is what real Christianity is all about. Where is the balance?


Monday, March 06, 2006


Sunday, we looked at John 6 and I elaborated on a question by Jesus where he asks his disciples: “Are you offended?” I also asked, "Does GOD offend you?"
OFFEND!!! Somehow, I did it again. It doesn’t take much time for people to put their thoughts and emotions in the form of an email or a phone call. Someone asked me… “Are you waiting for someone to get up and punch you out?” That was really funny! So I got to thinking, “Does anybody care when I get offended?” (Insert your answer here)
Thanks for caring?

This is what I love about being a follower of Jesus Christ! There are all sorts of believers There are thin ones, fat ones, tall ones, short ones, single ones, married ones, conservative ones and even liberal ones, there are those who are dressed to kill and those who could be more dressed.(Offended yet?) There are those who are holey and those who are afraid of needles. There are those who are fans of 80’s rock and those who are lovers of Bach. There are those who love the Family Guy and those who love Monty Python. We have Coke drinkers and Pepsi drinkers, beer drinkers and wine sippers, sushi tasters and spaghetti feasters and I think you get the point!

It is difference that makes the world and especially the church. I love the fact that in our spiritual community we embrace a host of political, economic and … shall I say it???? Ethical positions. I would go so far to say that our spiritual community is a bag of mixed nuts! (Actually that is the name that a small group has called itself!) And I love it.

I recognize that we are all on a spiritual journey and can easily wander off the road, even one of the characteristics of a cult is that it teaches that TRUTH leads to an extremely narrow range of opinions and behaviors. HOWEVER, an encounter with authentic Christianity reveals that depth and variety are not enemies to be scorned but friends to be embraced. I love the fact that GOD gave us diverse personalities, and that we are all wired in multiple ways, and interspersed among us are many kinds of gifts, and everyone has their place in GOD’s economy. The coolest thing is that what holds us together is far stronger than what tries to separate us. One of the most important things for me is that we are not to denigrate other believers and thier churches because their worship style or theological emphasis is different from our own. We must realize that not all people have OUR needs, or OUR background, or OUR culture, even OUR personality and that to reach all types of people we need all types of churches and shall I say, denominations.

A key issue in being a follower of Jesus Christ is learning to appreciate those who are different from ourselves…actually that is a mark of a mature believer. So my question this week is what is out there that you appreciate in the expressions of Christianity that may not be your regular preference?