About Me

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Saginaw, Michigan, United States
A sinner who may come before God because of Christ

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Encouragement from Saginaw 6-24-08

This is the latest Encouragement from Saginaw e-letter.

Dear Brothers and Sisters through Christ,

Greetings from Saginaw where it appears that summer has finally arrived (though our April showers have come here in early June). As a result, the grass is green and the Michigan State Bird (the mosquito) is in full force.

Since my last letter, Pastor Mark has completed the Romans series and embarked on a summer look of people in Scripture who had Encounters with Christ, and what we can learn from those Encounters. (by the way, shameless plug alert: all sermons are available on line at http://podcast.immanuelbiblechurch.com/).

The two so far brought home some very solid, and simple, reminders about who He is and who we are (or aren’t, as the case may be).

It is so easy while we are in this world to be distracted and pulled off course. Sometimes it can be big, life changing events like a marriage, a death, a divorce, a birth. Sometimes the littler things like a change in job duties or a rough (or good) phase of a relationship. It seems we have poor spiritual attention spans.

Earlier this year, Pastor preached on the need to encourage new believers to seek to know Christ more and to seek to fall in love deeper with Him – that we did not exchange one set of rules, the Law, for another set: the 35 things every Christian must do. No, we exchanged the rules for the relationship, and just like any relationship, it takes both parties effort to make it better, to have it grow stronger, to have it achieve a depth of meaningfulness. Christ is already there with us, but we are not there with Him, I would assert, until the day we go before Him and truly experience the joy and pleasure and sensation of His love in His presence.

What we are living now is just a plodding along as we struggle with our sinful flesh, but it is a trek worth taking and one that we are not walking alone as The Spirit is with us and Christ is interceding for us.

If I remember just one thing from the list of conclusions that Pastor culled from the encounters of others, is that this is not a journey to Him but with Him, for I have already gained through Christ.

My hope is that you are remembering what you gained from Christ and that your journey is with Him in all that will come your way. His is our goal, He is our aim, He is who we now are.

For His Glory,


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Abortion and voting

For me, the stance on the legalization of abortion is a high priority. Putting my faith aside, where Christ showed us, through His sacrifice on the cross, that every life is important to Him, the pro-life position is most logical.

How can one draw a line and say that life is only worth protecting if it has reached a particular point in development. Whether you call it a fetus, an embryo, a baby, a toddler, a teen, an adult, or a senior - they describe the various phases of human life.

The highest measure of a person's integrity is how that person views life. This will play in a lot of areas of public policy. For instance, why is protecting a child at an elementary school in a poor side of town not as important as protecting a fetus in a middle class high school teen or a frozen embryo that might one day after millions of dollars lead towards a cure for cancer?

Most stances are arguable. Raise taxes, lower taxes (I prefer the lower); end the war, continue the war (I prefer end, but in a way that does not endanger my family); help the poor (but not through conscripted and involuntary donation).

But for me , a stance on abortion is one of those "make-it-or-break-it" issues. It says much about how important life is to that candidate, so I will never vote for a pro-choice candidate because I cannot trust him or her to protect all lives, especially our most vulnerable ones.

It is pretty simple as that.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Hypocrit Christians

I recently received a communication that called me a hypocrite.

My first response was, yes, I am a hypocrite. I sometimes do opposite of what I profess. I stumble. I sometimes do, as Paul said in Romans 7:15 - I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

But actually, that is not hypocrasy, at least as the word is defined.

Hypocrasy has an element of not doing what one believes, but it is actually pretending to believe something and doing the opposite of that. Hypocrasy involves not the action, but the belief.

So, for me to be hypocrite, I would have to profess something that I do not believe and then act in an opposite way.

So, after this introspection, I am not a hypocrite. I am a sinner. I have sinned and will sin until the Lord returns, but I strive to live as I believe though I fail. I am inconsistent. I fail to live as I profess. I make poor decisions. I succomb to temptation.

The real hypocrite is someone who professes with their mouth but does not believe in their heart.

Since a true Christian is one who believes in their heart and professes with their mouth the Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9), then a true christian cannot be a hypocrite even though they sin.

A false Christian, one whose profession is from the head and not the heart, even though they live as they profess, they are hypocrites.

If we profess Christ, we must first search our heart if it is turned to Christ, submitting to Him, and seeking His glorification and pleasure above our own.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I just read an article where the (alleged) footprint of Jesus (when he was a child) in a rock was damaged in a fire in a Church in Egypt:http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080618/32871_Egypt_Church_with_Jesus_Footprint_Damaged_in_Fire.htm

Supposedly, this was a footprint from when Joseph & Mary fled with their child from Herod.

I won't go into how far fetched it seems to me that, first a child's footprint would be in a rock and second, of how anyone could possibly know it was Christ's since this event would have to have occurred some 25-30 years before His ministry.

Putting that aside, which is hard, the article, from Christian Post, allows for discussion. These discussions are usually as interesting and telling as the article itself. Christians have some pretty strong and diverse opinions on these things and non-believers often jump in the mix.

One post really struck me. The author was arguing that, despite the danger of idolitry, people need something tangible to grasp onto, and this helps their faith to grow.

I am not sure about that. Hebrews tells us that "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb 11:1)

I would like to visit the Holy Land, to see where Christ walked in His human form, speculate on what He touched, what He saw, but I should not worship that ground. I should not "venerate" or make holy some object that was His (or in most cases might or might not be His).

He, Christ, is about salvation. We, us, are about knowing Him better and doing His will.

It is interesting that in the New Testament we are given few "rituals" to perform, and the focus is on the inner man and not the outer appearance. We are told we are new creations, made children of God, freed from the bonds of sin, and that we have the Holy Spirit living within us.

The Christian walk does not require pilgrimages to some sacred site or paying homage to some iconic object.
It IS about seeking more of God and less of self. It IS about sharing the good news and doing good. It IS about standing firm for His Word and His Way.

Our response to these should be, well, that would be really interesting it really was Christ's footprint as a child in a rock, but what is important is Christ's imprint in my heart and life. That is where I would prefer to place my energies.

For His Glory,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day is much different than Mother's Day.

There is an intrinsic bond to our mothers that goes deep. We were once as close as two human beings could be, nuzzled inside her, relying totally on her for our nourishment. Over time, the developmental process continued until the inevitable day of separation from her physical connection.

We don't experience that with our fathers. There is a different kind of emotional link. Our mother's comes almost instinctively, our father's is because he chose to do this (and there are many fathers who choose not to do so).

This is our relation with the Father. He chose to link to us. He chose to make that route to us through Himself as Christ. He softens our heart, which is not naturally linked to Him, opens up our eyes, and draws us to Him where He makes us His child.

So, this Father's Day I am reminded that it is a day to remember the ones who chose to love us - our father here but more so Father God.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The hardest form of persecution

As Christians, we should expect persecution to come to us from any side, at any time as our faith is a radical repudiation of the world's standards.

I think, though, that the hardest persecution comes from within. It is those moments of doubt. Those times of realization that I am so far from being the Christian that I want to be or think of myself as being that the pain runs the deepest because it lingers the longest.

I wish I could point you to a Bible verse, snap my fingers, and say "go away", but that is a power God has not given to me or the Scripture. Perhaps because this is the reminder that I am not only not God, but that I am so far from being God.

The other day I got into a "pity" party with some friends about the state of the world. It is spiraling so far away from the Creation He made that it is hard to fathom...but then when was this world as God created?

The solution to this problem is to accept that one is a flawed individual. That one has great penchant for doing evil - as defined by God. That one cannot change one self but must relinquish the power to change over to God.

That is not a pretty sight. It is not an easy road. It leads to more purifying and testing and struggle. It is the hardest persecution, but it is also the best because we become just that much closer to God.