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When a pastor makes the decision to quit, they immediately quit being the pastor that they were, and they become a new kind of pastor.
The lone prophet Elijah challenged King Ahab and 450 prophets of the god Baal and the base of this mountain.Elijah challenged them to a contest. Each would build an altar to their own god, Elijah to the one true God and the 450 prophets to Baal.
The 450 prophets went first. They slaughtered a bull, placed it on the altar and prayed to Baal to send fire. They danced, they sang, they shouted, they cut themselves with knives and spears. They did this all day. Nothing happened.Then it was Elijah’s turn. Here’s what 1 Kings says happened:
30 Then Elijah called to the people, "Come over here!" They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, 32 and he used the stones to rebuild the LORD's altar. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons. 33 He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood. Then he said, "Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood." After they had done this, 34 he said, "Do the same thing again!" And when they were finished, he said, "Now do it a third time!" So they did as he said, 35 and the water ran around the altar and even overflowed the trench. 36 At the customary time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself." 38 Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the ditch! 39 And when the people saw it, they fell on their faces and cried out, "The LORD is God! The LORD is God!" 1 Kings 18:30-39
Church on top of Mount Carmel
Perhaps you need to rejuvenate your faith. Maybe you lost your faith and you want to find it again. Where have you been looking? Are you dancing around all the options? Where are you placing your faith?
I encourage you to stop dancing around your problems. Stop cutting yourself with the dagger of doubt and drop the spear of a wavering faith. Place your fears upon the altar. Call upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and may His Holy Spirit come down on you like fire and burn away every doubt and fear so there is nothing left but His presence.
May you filled with the fire of His Spirit today.
Sea of Galilee
One day, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus made the disciples get in a boat. He didn’t say, “When you’re ready, get in the boat” or “After you’ve gathered everything and said your goodbyes to everyone you’ve met, get in the boat.” Jesus made the disciples get in the boat. A more accurate translation would read, Jesus forced/compelled/urged/insisted that the disciples get in the boat.
It was this very boat trip that the disciples got caught in the storm. All night the boat was tossed about by the wind and the waves. The disciples remained far from the land because the wind was against them. There’s a sense that the wind has been personified. It is against the disciples. It’s personal. It does not want them to make it back to shore where Jesus is.
What has always amazed me is that Jesus must have known this was going to happen. Yet, he made the disciples get into the boat. Jesus knew the disciples were going to suffer. He wanted them to experience life in the world without him. And the disciples learn that the world is against them.
When Jen and I were in Israel we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. I could picture the disciples out on the middle of this sea. For us, it was a calm day. But the thought of a storm coming up and swallowing our boat did come to mind. Then our guide shared something I never knew before. The wind for this particular sea comes from all four directions. I thought of the disciples. They truly were being persecuted by the world.
There is good news to this story. In the middle of the night, at the darkest, windiest hour, Jesus came walking on the water toward the disciples. When the disciples see Jesus they are afraid, they think he’s a ghost. I suppose that’s not a stretch considering that this really was an unholy storm. But Jesus calms their fears when he identifies himself by saying, “Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Mat 14:27) Once Jesus is in the boat the wind dies and the sea calms down.
This begs the question, has Jesus made you do something that you’re afraid of? What is the boat that Jesus is making you get into? Is it a conversation with someone? Is it facing your addiction? It won’t be easy. You know it, Jesus knows it. But we know that while we may have to face something, we won’t have to face it alone. Before hope is lost, Jesus comes. If we let him into our lives, the storms of life will calm down.
The miracle in this story is not that Jesus walked on water. I’ve seen that done by other magicians. I even saw a guy make a train disappear. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus did something amazing by walking on water. But other people have mimicked that. The miracle of this story is that Jesus brought order out of the chaos of the world. That’s power my friends.
Do you need a little more order in your world? Then get in the boat. Face your storm. It’s not an option. But then again, if you look, you’ll see Jesus coming toward you. Let him in.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and
eat with him, and he with me. ~ Jesus, in Revelation 3:20
The world is full of options. Just try to order food at a restaurant without hearing the words, “Do you want a side with that, we have several options…” Things are the same when it comes to finding purpose in your
personal life. There is no shortage of choices when it comes to finding meaning in life. As the Mad Pastor,
I want you to consider Jesus to be your last option.
Many people look for meaning in their families. I’ve known moms and dads who have found great comfort in raising their children. Kids make mistakes and shame their parents. They grow up and move out. When that happens, those parents struggle with living in an empty home. Purpose is lost.
Couples without kids may find happiness in their relationship with each other. But people fail us.
Relationships end. Husbands grow old and frail. We’ve all known a man or woman who has face great hardships after the loss of a loved one. When we lose another, we lose ourselves.
Money and power are tempting options. We all seem to envy those with big houses, nice cars. We’ve all dreamt of winning the lottery and what we’d do with our newfound riches. And yet, have you ever seen the documentaries on those who have won the lottery and found themselves devoid of any true relationship or even filing for bankruptcy?
Yes, the world provides a lot of options. I’ve touched on just a few. Many options are even good ones… for
a season. But all options run out at some point. There is an option beyond this world.
Often times, people go to Jesus Christ when all other options have run out. They’ve tried everything else, there’s nothing left so they turn to him. It’s then that they find true life, true purpose in living in Christ. Sometimes you’ll hear someone say that they would have saved a lot of time if they had gone to Jesus sooner.
If you’re looking for purpose in your life, if you want to find meaning you’ll find that there are an almost unlimited number of options waiting for you. Why don’t you respond to the option that is not just waiting for you but looking for you… even knocking on your door? Save yourself a lot of time and disappointment, open the door to Jesus and make him your last option. Once you found him, you won’t need anything
…I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me… Deuteronomy 5:9
This is a tough passage to read in today’s world. Why should we be punished for the sins of our parents. It doesn’t seem fair. But it happens. Read on…
I must say that I received some good wisdom on this passage from a book I’ve been reading called, The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. Here’s the book on Amazon. A.J. is a self proclaimed agnostic. But he wanted to learn more about himself and faith so he ventured into writing this book. As he ponders God, he came across this passage. He likens the relationship that God has with his children and that A.J. has with his own.
If you interpret this passage to mean that a child would be struck down with a disease if his grandfather did something morally wrong or corrupt than such a God would seem cruel. If God is a fair God as the Church teaches, wouldn’t each person be born with a clean slate for themselves to tarnish? But A.J. (and I) don’t think that God is threatening us with such an outcome.
Think about a child. A child’s behavior is learned, usually by their parents. If you as a parent cuss, then get ready to hear those same words coming from the mouth of your three year old. If you cheat on your taxes, you’re teaching little Suzy to do the same. Men, do you ogle women? Chances are, Jr. is going to view women through the same set of glasses as you. I think you get the point. Children, whether they like it or not, often grow up to be the parents that shaped them.
Let’s go back to that verse. God is talking about worshiping other idols. If we worship idols, then God will punish “the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” This could mean that when parents act badly, their bad behavior will be passed down to the next few generations. Consider how the New Living Translation interprets it, “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.”
Do I believe that my children will face some kind of retribution two generations from now if I ignore the speed limit? No. I really don’t. But I do believe that behavior is learned and we pass down our behavior to our children. When they act bad, isn’t it fair to say that there is a part of us acting through them? And isn’t it fair to say that our children will face the consequences of our lifestyle?
Now don’t read too much into this. We are responsible for our own behaviors. Plus, I don’t think this kind of defense would hold up in court. “Your honor, the reason that I stole that loaf of bread is because 75 years ago my great grandfather didn’t return that wallet he found with all the money in it.” (Of course, if you think that kind of defense would work, please let me know when your court date is. I want to be there when try it out.)
I do believe this. I am called to live with Jesus Christ as my measuring stick for my behavior. The more I model Christ, the more the generations that follow me will also model him.
God’s words in Deuteronomy serve more as a love warning than anything else. Your behaviors follow you. You have a responsibility to those that come after you. Change your behavior and you will change for family tree in a way that it will produce abundantly.
A woman faces a possible fine and jail time for baptizing her two children (ages 5 and 7) without first notifying her ex-husband. According to www.foxnews.com Lauren Jarrell, a Presbyterian, “must face a criminal contempt hearing for violating a court order that said major decisions regarding the religious upbringing of her two children should be made jointly with the children's father.” The father, Emmett Blake Jarrell, a Methodist, preferred the kids be baptized when they are older and can better understand the significance of the sacrament.
Speaking as a Presbyterian pastor, we believe that when a young child is brought to be baptized, that child is presented on behalf of the parent’s faith. I have to wonder, did Lauren’s pastor ask where the dad is? If the pastor knew the father disapproved and proceeded with the baptism, why is he/she not being charged with violating the court order also? Because the pastor is not mentioned in this story, I am assuming he/she was not aware of the court order. But it is an observation worth noting.
Assuming Lauren withheld the information of the court order from the pastor, how can she in good conscious and Christian faith bring her children forward to be baptized? One of the questions she would have answered as part of the ceremony is, “Do you intend to provide for his/her Christian nurture?” Call me crazy, but deception is not part of Christian nurture.
The father is not upset that his two kids are baptized. Emmett is upset because they were not baptized in a way that he himself wanted them to be baptized. He wanted them to first have a better understanding of the sacrament. It should be noted that both the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches practice infant baptism. We baptize infants because we believe that God Himself initiates our relationship with Him and grace works in our lives before we are even aware of it or can understand it. If the father is a good Methodist he should not have issue with his children being baptized. This is not to side with the mother; I just question the father’s motives.
Then there are the kids. They will grow up viewing this event not as a ceremony in which they were brought before God to be received into His family but as an event which divided their parents and introduced court proceedings. What do you think that will do to their faith? If these children are being brought up on their parent’s faith, I wonder if they will ever want to have a relationship with God, let alone be baptized if given the option.
This is a sad story. Infant or adult baptism; we believe that God is doing something. At a minimum Christians believe that God is symbolically claiming the baptized person into His family. Can we trick God into accepting someone? Doesn’t God have a say in this? If God is all-knowing, would he willingly accept a child into his Church knowing the child’s father was being deceived? God is not a God of deception, but a God of truth. If I was the pastor who baptized these two children, I would be conflicted. Should I sign that baptismal certificate and record it with the church or tell the mom God won’t honor her deception? These parents have made the sacrament of baptism not about God or their children, but about themselves. They have used deception and revenge to try and control God. If God is the one central to baptism, why is He being left out?
…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Mark 10:43-45
In the town I grew up there was a Denny’s. Open 24 hours it served every walk of life. People ate breakfast and grabbed their coffees on weekday mornings before heading off to work. Teenagers hung out on weekend nights getting ice cream with their friends because they weren’t old enough to stay out past their curfews. After 2:00 am when the bars closed there was a whole new group of people who arrived. (I think this group might be why there are pictures of the food on the menus. They can just point at an item and say, “I want that.” Face it, it’s hard to say Moons Over My Hammy” when you’ve had too much to drink.) I was a part of the crowd that showed up on Saturday mornings before soccer games. Denny’s is for everyone. It’s a church of fellowship of sorts.
I know a lot of people who treat their church like Denny’s. They always expect the church to be open when they arrive. They sit at their “table.” They may even have a waiter, aka usher, bring them to their seats. They see their friends and talk about the week in between Sundays. Everyone has a good time and everyone enjoys the fellowship. After a cup of coffee, they go home with the expectation of repeating the process the following week.
There’s nothing wrong with the fellowship of the church. Without fellowship, there’s something missing. We need that human interaction to feel human ourselves. But everything I just described can take place at Denny’s. The friends, the food, the fellowship…
If we want to get real about our faith, we have to accept the fact that the church is more than a place to serve up fellowship. You can get that at the church of Denny’s.
When you walk into your church are you ready to do more than receive something for yourself? Are you ready for yourself to be the offering? To give yourself over to Christ? To let him take you, not just your order or your tip, and use you to do his will?
Call me mad, but the church is not just a place of fellowship. And to go to church for the fellowship alone means that you haven’t grasped what it means to be a follower of Christ. The church is a place to feed our faith yes. But it’s a place where we go not to be served, but to learn how to serve others.
Are you ready to cancel your membership at the church of Denny’s? Then put on your apron, come into the church of Christ and be his servant.
My wife and I are thinking about getting a dog. Dogs can be a lot of work. But there are a few things about dogs that really rock; dogs love you. They always want to be near you or play catch. Dogs are loyal. I have seen dogs that have been mistreated by their owners; yelled at, swatted on the nose, even kicked. But when the owner comes home, the dog wags his tail.
Dogs can be trained. I knew a pastor in Iowa who owned a beautiful Akita. The dog went with him everywhere. If there was a long meeting, the pastor would take his dog and sit him down in front of the church. He would tell the dog to stay and there Fido* sat until the master returned.
Maybe this is why we love dogs. They will always love us. They are loyal, even when mistreated. They can be trained to do what we want them to do. Oh how we wish that Jesus could be like that.
Let’s face it, if we’re not really serious about our relationship with Jesus, we treat him like a dog. I don’t mean dog in the sense of a girl who dumps her cheating boyfriend, “I dumped that dog!” I mean dog in the sense that we can treat Jesus any way we want knowing that he will always love us and be loyal to us. And if we act just right or say the right things, we might even be able to train Jesus to do what we want him to do.
How do you know if you treat Jesus like a dog? Ask yourself the following. Do you
· Ask Jesus to wait in the car while you go into work?
· Put him in the back room of your house when friends are over?
· Expect him to love you even when you don’t treat him like you should?
· Expect him to come running to you when you call his name?
· Expect to be able to train him to do what you want him to do?
When you think about your relationship with Jesus, what images come to mind? Is he walking along side you on a leash so you can keep some control over him, or do you cut that leash loose and allow him to establish the course of your journey? Are you willing to follow him for a change and allow him to set the direction of your life? Perhaps we are the ones who should show a little loyalty and eagerly await for Jesus to call our name. What would you say if he did?
* I don’t remember the dog’s actual name. But I think we can all agree that Fido is the universal name for dogs. And if you’re concerned, I don’t remember the pastor’s name either. But it was Iowa and the story is true