background-3Worship is a word that is often times misunderstood.  In the church setting it can be even more confusing.     Merriam Webster defines worship as :

  1. reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also :  an act of expressing such reverence
  2. form of religious practice with its creed and ritual

If we look at the worldly definition of “worship” we see it’s a reverence for the Divine, an expressing of that reverence, and practice.   Reverence is having deep respect.  In our culture this word is often bantered about but little practiced.  Practice, is synonymous with sports and exercise.  It’s also something you do with almost any type of activity such as art, music, dance, and the likes.  Practice is taking something you know and doing it and a becoming proficient at it.  Apply the lesson you have been taught.   So how’s your practice going in the Christian faith?  What does worship look like for the Christian? Are you worshiping “weakly” or “weekly”?

Worship is something we do in a public group/corporate setting and something we do individually.  As a Christian, it is another thing that should be part of our Christian DNA.  Worship is more than just getting together with a group of others whenever we feel like, in a familiar building or space, and singing a few songs, hearing someone say some words, and going back home until we hit repeat the following week or month or Easter or Christmas.  Worship is putting into practice what we have learned about the Triune God.

Unlike earthly teachers and coaches in sports and activities, we have Jesus Christ as our example for worship and how to practice and revere.  We learn from Jesus by being connected to the words He left for us in the Bible. Jesus and the Bible are our syllabus for this life as a Christian and we have much to learn about Worship.  So what did Jesus do in the area of worship?  Since to be a disciple means to follow the master, we should look to see what Jesus did when it came to going to church. Here are a few statements on whether or not Jesus went to church.

Matt 12:9 Going on from that place, [Jesus] went into their synagogue

Matt 13:54 Coming to his hometown, [Jesus] began teaching the people in their synagogue

Matt 21:14 The blind and the lame came to [Jesus] at the temple

Mark 1:21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue

Mark 3:1 Another time [Jesus] went into the synagogue

Luke 4:16 [Jesus] went to Nazareth . . . and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom

Jesus went to church. If we are to be Christians – Christ ones – followers of Jesus, we are to be in church.

God’s word also says: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23–25, NIV84)  Did you catch it?  Meeting/Worshiping together encourages the others that have come to meet God.  When we give up meeting weekly, we are cheating others of the full worship and joy that God has designed for us to help strengthen one another on in the faith.  These times are hard and we need God and one another to keep encouraged.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11–13, NIV84).

We have been given people on this earth to help us in our life of Worship and we should give thanks and praise for those God has called into the vocation of earthly leaders (Pastors and Ministers of Music) in our churches.  They have the tremendous joy and responsibility of weekly giving us God’s word in speech, study, and song.  They have been entrusted to give us the full word of God for all times and all places.  They are part of the lifeline of our Christian Discipleship and Life in the area of Worship.  They are our coaches in the journey of life. To be strong in practice, it takes more than just an occasional visit or nodding acquaintance with the playbook to be proficient.  If one practices poorly, there are weak results.  If one practices daily they see positive results.  Often times you get out of something proportionate to what you have put into it.  Worship is no different.  The more you put into preparing and practicing worship, the more you will be ready to hear God’s message.

How do I prepare for worship you might ask?  Spend some time in prayer and study before walking into cooperate worship.  Ask God to give you eyes to see Him and ears to hear from Him in all that is going on in words and music.  Just like you practice hard for an exam, job training, music recital, or sporting event where you will be an actively participant, put all your heart, mind, soul, and body into the effort.  Be dripping wet with the sweat of eager expectation that God will meet you in Worship, just as He has promised.   Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.” (Psalm 22:3–5, NIV84)

We are blessed each week to have God minister to us in corporate Worship.  Yes, we have the only God that reaches down to His people.  The True Triune God, Father, Son- Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit, visit us when the Word is preached and sung.  But the greatest act of Divine Service comes at the table of Christ’s forgiveness and mercy.  God wants us to know that He is present with us now and forever and that our sins are forgiven.  He tells us that in receiving His very Body and Blood at the Lord’s table.  We are assured that our sins are forgiven, we are made new creatures, and God lives in us.  That is communion!

Worship is communion with God.  It’s relationship.  It’s something we are called upon to do with our family, the others who believe in the Triune God. It’s how we live out our faith in our daily lifestyles.  From the way we serve Him by serving others.  From the way we greet and treat others in Jesus’ name.  It’s in the way we give thanks and praise to the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  Worship is ceaseless and is our lifeblood to the Lord.  As we would no more than cut off blood supply to our brain and vital organs, let us not cut off the Lifeline of our faith and family by cutting off our corporate and individual worship. May we truly show and give reverence to God, while joining and encouraging others in the faith, and then carrying it out to others in our daily lives as we practice a life of Worship here and into eternity.  Let’s face it, heaven is all about being in the presence of the King in worship and praise for all eternity.  No better time to start practicing, than now.

2009-july-27-019-small-web-viewWe may know the mechanics, the right phrases, or even the method of conversation, but do we know how it works and its importance?  Do really understand the heart of conversation?  Do we grasp how much dialog exchange means to relationships?

There are some very interesting, historical lessons and principles we need to grasp before we truly understand the EPIC proportions of this week’s topic.  There is a ton of information out there on the topic of prayer but unless we unpack it from a few angles, we will miss putting that information into useful practice, which is the heart of knowledge.

In recorded history, we know that one could never walk up and just start talking to the Ministry Head, Pharaoh, or King or Queen, let alone the Deity of that country or group of people.  There were always gatekeepers and guards and unless you were summoned by an Official, one’s life could, and often times would, be demanded. If one was summoned to appear in their presence, it was never certain if this was an esteemed moment or one for retribution.  This was true even in Biblical times:

“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” (Esther 4:11, NIV84)

Prior to sin, Adam and Eve walked with God and had direct fellowship and conversation with God.  When sin severed the direct, physical presence, God did not abandoned His people, but left a door open for relationship.  One of those ways was prayer.  God did place the priests over the people and the only way for sin to be atoned for was through the sacrifices given to the priests and them entering into the Holy of holies.  The Holy of holies was where God resided in the Tabernacle and a sheet hid this from the view of the people. Only those priests called by God were allowed in. The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.” (Leviticus 16:2–3, NIV84)

Sin made it impossible for God’s people to be in His presence and live and it required sacrifice to know forgiveness was offered.  The people could only know it once a year and what a heavy burden to only have assurance once in 365 days.  What we learn, when we look to Christ is that His perfect sacrifice, dying on the cross, ripped the curtain in the Holy of Holies from top to bottom and gave us direct access to the King of Creation.  Christ became the way for us to stand in the presence of God without worry of retribution.  The Throne Room of God was made available for the commoner to freely enter.  Christ won for us the privilege to walk in, unannounced, and just start talking to the King!  Who wouldn’t want to have open access to a head of state let alone the Creator of All Things?   That is what prayer is, friends!  It’s open communication and relationship with our God and Savior.  We are blessed to have this, especially when God calls upon us to seek Him and be with Him.

There are so many reasons to talk with our Lord.  One of the best reasons is to change us. When you are in the presence of people and talking with them, you learn more about them, if you are listening, and you develop a deeper, richer relationship. The same is true with God.  In our times of prayer and communication, we share with Him our hurts, cares, concerns, and sins that we need to turn away from.  It’s also a time to get honest and ask for the Lord’s will to be done.  That is putting ourselves in the proper position of who we are:  we are the humble subject, seeking the wisdom and direction of the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who knows best.   We go seeking for the right answers and not as one going to the slot machines dumping in our quarters/requests and expecting a massive return of blessings/more money.   We go knowing that prayer is about changing us from the inside out and not changing God. Because our God never changes.

Prayers is privilege and sometimes with privileges, one can begin to take it for granted. As much as we wouldn’t take for granted a call to go see and talk to the Heads of State or Royalty, we shouldn’t take for granted the great access that Christ won for us to go and daily  talk and learn at the feet of the King of All Creation.  Crawl up into His lap and tell Him all that is on your heart and mind.  Let Him comfort Your soul and then listen to Him, through His Word, and take His direction and will.  See, God always answers our prayers with what is best for us, even if that answer is no.

Not sure if you are getting answers from your times with Him? Start a prayer log and write down how He has answered and when you finally see the answer to your prayers.  Sometimes our eyes are clouded by our sinful desires and it takes times for us to see God in action.  By doing this, it will help you learn how to pray more in line with His will and reassure you that we have a God who listens and responds.

Not sure what to pray for?  Not sure how to start?  Want to start exercising this discipline again?  Great!  Here is a quick list of things to include in your daily conversations when you walk into the Throne Room of God:

Praise – tell Him how special He is in Your life. Focus on the wonderful things He has done and what great things are going on in your life.

Confess – dump the “perfect” life façade that you try to hold up and get honest.  Tell the Forgiver of our Souls where you are struggling, give Him your hurts and pains from where you have walked away from His ways and will.  Seek the Holy Spirit’s  help so you can truly turn away from those areas of sin and walk the other way.

Thank Him – give gratitude for all the things in your life, the good as well as the bad.  Walk down the road of history and thank Him for all you have and have had in your life.  Thank God for being Him and caring for all things, most importantly, your redemption through Jesus Christ. In giving thanks, you will see how dependent you are on Him for everything He has created, because all that we have comes from Him and it is nothing we deserve.

Lift Up Others – this is the time for you to put others first.  Take the needs of others to God and not only tell Him what they need but also ask Him how you can make a difference for them.  Especially pray for those who hurt you and seem to be your enemies.  It’s hard to hate them when you pray for them.  This is also the time for you to continue to ask God to change you and how you respond to your enemies.

Prayer is a faith exercise that will always bring about a strengthening of your faith.  May God give you the strength and stamina to tap into this wonderful source of power, strength, peace, and privilege.  Go have a meeting with your Lord, Savior, Comforter, and King of Creation!



word_14088cThe law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11

As we start down the road of our in depth travels of discipleship, this week, we are going to look at the basic, foundational requirements of the Christian Life and how to keep the Christian strong for the journey.

Just like the human body needs DNA, and is made up of many cells, and is the basic building blocks of life, so is Bible Study to the one following Jesus Christ.  The Word is so foundational that this is the means by which one comes to faith. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, NIV84)

God’s Word is such a building block  to our living a Christian life that without out it, we are trying to live without food, oxygen, and water for the soul.  We can try to travel in this life journey without God’s Word  but we cannot live on the “junk food” of this world.  The world just wants to tell us what our “itching ears want to hear” and quite simply we starve faith and have no nutritional value.  It just can’t be done!

God’s Word is pure and unaltered and is Truth.  All things outside of God’s Word will never satisfy or fulfill.  So if the Holy Scripture is so vital, how much do we know?  Where do we go for more and how much is too much?

When we honestly look at our lives, none of us knows enough about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Not even the most learned scholars in a seminary know enough.  The only way to know more is to be in the Presence of the Lord.  The best way to be in His Presence, on a daily basis, is being in the Word.  That is one of the reasons God left us this divinely inspired writing, so that we can daily have a relationship.

If we want to know what God thinks on a subject, we go right to the source and look at His Word.  If we feel God is silent on a matter, maybe it’s because we are not in His Word.  God calls each of His children to be in fellowship with Him and that means spending time with Him in His Word.  Not looking for what others think of Him, or what someone Twitter’s, Instagrams, or Facebook Posts about.  Going to His Word and to Him should be second nature, just like our DNA and breathing.  To actually “study the Bible” is more than a quick once over or a paragraph of a devotional.  It’s sitting and digesting what God has actually had written down in the Bible.  It’s investing time and then acting upon what one has learned.  It’s not a quick  hear it, read once over, and done.  James addresses this philosophy:  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22–25, NIV84)

Part of helping you study is being together on Sunday Morning in Bible Study at church.  It’s a time to dig deeply in the Word and learn about the history and hidden nuances that come from of the Hebrew or Greek. It’s about being with your brothers and sisters in Christ and feeding upon the Bread of Life that is in the Scriptures.  It’s about being so hungry for God that you won’t stop until you get the sustenance that only He only provides.

Many things are able to help you get a deeper meaning of Scripture and one of them is the Concordance in the back of your Bible or if you have a Chain Reference Bible following the road map of Scripture and carefully spend time on each passage.  Get a good Commentary.  If you need help in picking out one, ask your Pastor.

Pray about the texts you are reading. The Holy Spirit is always there as a guide to help you understand more.  God didn’t make His love letter so hard that you can’t understand it.  If you still have questions, take them to Bible Study on Sunday and ask your Pastor.  Nothing makes a Pastor’s day like someone truly wanting to know more of what the Lord has to say to them.

By now you should have the answer to our last question, there is NEVER a time when you have too much of God and His Word.  May you feed on the Lord’s Word, always growing in the wisdom, of Him, and putting that wisdom in to action which is actually knowledge.

4_1196909807_baseball_playerEach day we are faced with choices and opportunities in this game of life.  We have days where the game seems to go easy; the bats swing and we hit the “sweet spot” and life comes off like a base hit, homerun, or grand slam. Sometimes each moment of each day is an active struggle to choose the right play as we hit foul balls,  get hit by a wild pitch, or we just plain strike out. Depending on how life is going, can often times determine how a person will respond in the game.  Choices, choices, choices.  How we choose is just as important and what we choose.  Day by day we have an active choice if we are going to be a Player, Bench Warmer, or Spectator.

The world screams for “fans” but being a Spectator really doesn’t require much.  You just come watch the game go by and yes you may get excited about something but there is no real involvement or personal expectations. You can choose to stay with the same team or root for another team that might get your heart rate up for another day.  When the game, day, is finished, you have nothing more than what you started with and you wait to watch another day.

As a Bench Warmer, member of the team, you have at one time put in some practice, learned some play books, played in some minor league or major league games but now most of your days are filled with sitting and watching.  You can still talk the game up, you still have a closer seat to the action but sitting in the dugout huddled up with the active players is thrill enough for you.  You occasionally dream of what it “used to be like” when “you made the big play” but reminiscing is about as much action as it gets.

As Christians, God has called us to a lifetime of fulfillment and purpose.  He has called us to active roster duty as a Player or let’s put in another term, Disciple. He has given us the playbook and the game is really very simple.  In Matthew 28:16-20 the clubhouse talk Jesus gives, as our Life Coach, says:  Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

Did you see it in the passage?  The disciples went to the mountain where Jesus told them to go.  They were already there dressed and ready for practice and action.  Being a Servant/Disciple of Christ is active and intentional.  Christ tells them that there is more to this game of life.  The entire game is played out and the playbook is written and it says “Go and Make”, “Baptizing and Teaching” and “Obey”.  Then Jesus promises that He is with them always.  Since He is with us always, then their is no reason to throw in the towel and give up on the mission.

Often times life seems so hard because we have lost touch and not stayed connected to our Coach.  We have strayed from the mission/game plan that Christ laid out for us. We can fall back into what the world says and be a “fan” or “bench warmer” and in doing so we miss out on so much.  Being a member, or on the team roster, doesn’t fulfill the Coach’s direction.  We are called out to play with all our might and be of the nature of a Servant/Disciple.  Another way to say it is: A disciple is a mind though which Christ thinks. A disciple is a heart through which Christ loves. A disciple is a voice through which Christ speaks. A disciple is a hand through which Christ serves.  It’s all about living for Jesus.

We never know what living for Jesus is going to be. Living for Jesus may be “business as usual” today – sacrifice and suffering tomorrow. A disciple remains faithful through good times and bad. A disciple takes the lowliest job just as joyfully as the high-profile job. A disciple is just as happy doing what only God sees as he is doing what everyone sees. The logo for the Baptist Missionary Union makes this point very well. It pictures a bull standing between a plow and an altar. The caption reads, “Ready for Either.”

Over the next six weeks we will take a deeper look into what Disciples/Players are and what attributes they possess.  My prayer is that we stay in God’s Word and fulfill His mission as He has called us.  May the Holy Spirit move our team mightily for Jesus.  In the areas we are weak, may we exercise and practice in Worship, Bible, Study, Giving, Serving, and Witnessing.  May we truly be more than a bench warmer or fan and be the Great Commission in our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.  May we follow Jesus, our Coach, and master the life of Discipleship.  May we be faithful no matter what comes our way in good and bad times.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen


brokenhearted-4If you have ever been a parent, I know you have heard your child or children say “that’s not fair!”  Yourself, as a child, undoubtedly said the phrase more than once.  In looking at things in your adult life, I know you have expressed these sentiments.  You might have not used the exact words, or maybe you have, but when you suffer injustice or it is done to a loved one, you have expressed the concept.

When that job is offered to someone else, when the raise doesn’t come, when the spouse goes looking and grazing in “greener grass”, when your children have walked off into a lifestyle so different from how they were raised, when you get that diagnosis…it often times sends people off into the land of “It’s not fair!”  Let’s face it, what happened on September 11, 2001 was definitely not fair!

In our scripture reading for this week, Paul is writing to the young preacher, Timothy.  Timothy is facing some major things in life that are just “not fair”.  He is being looked down upon, discriminated against, because he is too young.  30 is just too young in human eyes of the day.  He was dealing with false teachings by false teachers inside the church.  He was dealing with disruptions and disorder in worship.  To top it all off, he was dealing with a lack of true leaders to step up and help him carry Christ’s full message.  So what does Paul do?  He takes the time to stop, encourage, and give a personal testimony and witness to Timothy.  Let’s take a look at 1 Timothy 1:12-17:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul takes time out of his very busy ministry life to lift up Timothy and is explaining to him that God is the one who qualifies someone.  Sometimes the best way to lift up someone, who is being beaten down by the injustice of this life, is to remind people who you were before Jesus Christ knocked you off your horse and started you down a new road.  It’s good to take the blinders off and be honest with yourself and with others that you, on your own are a sin-filled, opponent of Jesus Christ. That you before Christ saved you, you lived a life that was far from being holy, set apart, for the Lord.

You might be thinking, “but I was raised in the church and I have never been against God.”  In all honesty, yes you have.  We all have been an enemy of Christ.  Scripture tells us for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, ESV) and but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV).  We like Paul, are the worst of sinners before Christ.  We deserve all of God’s wrath, justice, and punishment. That is what is fair!

The best part, the part that Satan doesn’t want you to understand and latch onto is that because Christ came into the word to save us, because Christ died for our sins, because Christ is the Perfect Lamb Sacrifice, because of Christ’s love; we get grace, forgiveness, new life, peace, and the Holy Spirit to live out bold lives for His service.  God calls us to live each day for Him.  When we look at who we were, and sometimes who we are in our actions, we can do nothing more than fall down and worship and praise God for His abundant grace that is greater than all our sins.

We are called to live out new lives.  Lives changed and set apart for the work of the Lord.  Don’t hold your testimony to yourself. Share it with people and tell them that in this world much injustice is done but thanks be to God, we also get to say “because of what Jesus has done for me, “it isn’t fair” I get the rewards of what Jesus has done and I am His willing servant!”

surferI can already see heads cocked and hands scratching foreheads on the title of this week’s blog.  Some are thinking where on earth is this going to go?   How can this game have anything to do with surfers?  How can these things have anything in common with one another?  Better yet, how can a game focused on battles, wars, and conquest having anything to do with my life as a Christian?

First of all for those that don’t know the basic concept of the game of Risk it is loosely like Monopoly with the exception of you battle for countries.  There is strategy involved and one either loves the game or hates it.  The deeper side of Risk is the fact that just like in real war, there is a risk factor when you go into battle.  You can become land locked by other forces and you are the only one standing in the middle of the battle.   Playing it safe doesn’t win the game and even in real world battles, the war isn’t won playing it safe.

So with that thought in mind, how is this like the Christian life?  Well to answer that let’s take a look at Luke 14:25-35:

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

Christ, in this intentional contact with people, is explaining that there will be a battle for what takes first place in your life.  Mind you, at this point, Christ knew He was headed to Jerusalem to fight the ultimate battle that would lead Him to Calvary to die for us.  Christ knew the risks and did it anyway.  He is telling people that nothing, not even your family can have first place in your life.  See in this time, the Jewish people esteemed family at all cost and what Christ was saying by “hate” isn’t how we use the word hate.  He was saying I must be first and family after.  In today’s culture people are striving for the perfect family time, after work, they want the perfect family vacation, and others just want the perfect family.  Even the courts put emphasis on family at all cost.  The concept creeps in and we can put family activities and functions ahead of God and His ways.  We can be found putting sports and family activities on the front seat on Sunday and kick Christ to the back seat and not attend worship in His House.  Christ is still telling us today, that we must be risk takers and He must be first, even if that means we have to disappoint family and turn their requests and invitations down.  It even means we might have our children hate us , and we have a battle because we say no to their Sunday extra curricular activities that would take them out of Sunday School and Worship.  This teaching is a total concept shift just as much today as it was all the way back in Christ’s time on earth.

So what about surfers?  Well, they can be obsessed over getting to the risk taking and heading out to catch the big one.  They have to ride because they have experienced the thrill, excitement, and challenge of riding the waves.  They are on fire and ready for the challenge and they battle through until they can catch the right wave.  They find joy and exhilaration in the quest and journey.  What surfers have that often times Christians can forget is that meeting Jesus Christ is a life changing event!

It’s not just a one day thing.  It’s not that I was brought to the waters of baptism and now I just float on the board of life waiting for eternity to get here.  It’s more than making my confirmation and kicking back on the beach waiting for the sunset to roll in.  Surfing on the water and living the Christian life takes training, planning, practice, perseverance, and risk taking.  Just like Jesus pointed out it’s more than laying a foundation and then not having enough to finish the building.  If you have ever built a building, you now how much effort it takes to raise the walls.  It’s hard, heavy work.  The foundation is the easy part, but still must be precisely laid or the whole house is off.  Building a home with your own hands is exhilarating and life changing.  As Christians, Christ and the Cross and Resurrection is the bedrock foundation of our faith.  It’s where we must start to make sure the rest of the walls of our earthly lives will be built upon.  It’s living out each day with Christ at the center and all other plans and actions taking their lead from there.  It reminds me of the old song Living for Jesus by Thomas Chisholm:

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

Refrain: O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

The first verse shows us a good glimpse of what Christ was telling us in Luke 14.  As long as we live on this earth, there will be a deadly battle that is waged because of sin and Satan and our selves.  Satan wants us to die in the battle to him.  Battle is ugly.  Battle is hard.  Battle is risk.  So my prayer is that you will be anchored to Christ and ride His surfboard and conquer the battles and waves of this life putting your allegiance to Christ first and head boldly out into the world sharing the daring, bold message to a world that is drowning in the currents of this sinful life.  The risks God calls us to are worth every bit because Christ and eternity are waiting for us as we build on the firm foundations found in Christ and Scripture.


In the tidal waves of life, what is competing for our soul and time?  Are our moorings anchored in the faith harbor of Christ? Are we bright beacons of God’s light?  Are our role models and heroes from God or from the world?  These are tough questions that each of us are faced with on a daily basis as well as, sometimes, a minute by minute moment.

When things are going smoothly and the waters of like look like a smooth piece of glass, and we think life is perfect, we are easily lulled into the concept that all is well.  However, there is always a storm brewing somewhere. As with most storms, we don’t always see them on the radar of life, nor are we often even looking for them.

But, if we are honest there is always work to be done in the area of our faith and that takes a lot of the “old heave ho” and swabbing of the deck of our souls and lives. These storms , that come from God calling us to faithfulness and holiness can be bigger and rougher than other life events.  Actually, our faith is the only real life event that matters because our faith is the foundation to eternal life.  So how do we handle the storms of life?

We always have two choices in a storm.  We can pay attention to the “Light”house of Jesus Christ where we know the harbor of real rest and peace is, or we can be tossed about on the rocks of life looking to worldly anchors and hope for a hero.

The world would like you to look to it to define what is perfect and what is a “hero” but the world never gets it right.  Most of whom the world lifts up as heroes today might play a sport exceptionally well, or they are a high level, successful, rich guy.  Another worldly hero is found in the fame and posh of the stardom of Hollywood and the rag mags at the grocery store checkout aisle. If you look at many TV heroes, today ,the lines are blurred and they tell you that a “good” hero can do bad things if the end justifies the means.  These type of anchors from the world will also drag you to bottom and drown you.

To successfully maneuver the waves of life takes looking to the faithful of the past, in Holy Scripture, and to those God has given us as positive heroes, role models, mentors and encouragers. It takes hard work to row against the current and without the bright beacons of the faithful we can easily get off course.  And if you have ever rowed a boat in strong current, you know it’s hard, sweaty, dirty work.  Can you do it?  Absolutely!  How do I know?  Because I  look to Scripture for my answer.

You see, the waves of life brought persecution and calamity to Paul and the Thessalonians.  The odds were stacked against them.  Many waves could have over taken them but God lifted them up as people to be followed, as examples, to be banner bearers of faith, to be bright beacons of His light, to be our heroes and role models.

From Paul, Silas, and Timothy. To the church in Thessalonica, the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you and mention you when we pray. We continually recall before God our Father the things you have done because of your faith and the work you have done because of your love. And we thank him that you continue to be strong because of your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, God loves you, and we know he has chosen you, because the Good News we brought to you came not only with words, but with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with sure knowledge that it is true. Also you know how we lived when we were with you in order to help you. And you became like us and like the Lord. You suffered much, but still you accepted the teaching with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. So you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Southern Greece. And the Lord’s teaching spread from you not only into Macedonia and Southern Greece, but now your faith in God has become known everywhere. So we do not need to say anything about it. People everywhere are telling about the way you accepted us when we were there with you. They tell how you stopped worshiping idols and began serving the living and true God. And you wait for God’s Son, whom God raised from the dead, to come from heaven. He is Jesus, who saves us from God’s angry judgment that is sure to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:-10 NCV

Did you see it in the passage?  These beacons of light were bright because Jesus Christ was and is their LIGHT.  Christ is the only Light that will house all we need for this life and into the next.  Christ always provides safe harbor. He shines brighter and fairer and gives us what we need.  He gives us examples to follow and look to as we row through this life.  May you not only have faithful examples to guide you along the way, may you in turn, be a beacon of His light.