When the Foundation is being destroyed

As a follower of Christ, my faith in Him  is my foundation.  I know that sounds strange to have something abstract in someone who I can’t see to be the very thing that grounds me, but it is truth.

The longer and better I know Christ, the more my faith levels increase, but at times, if I’m honest, the foundations of my faith seem to be cracking.  Difficult circumstances, persecution, stressful times, family crisis…and the list goes on as to the things that play a part in weakening my foundation.

In Psalm 11, David was having this same struggle.  As a matter of fact, he asked the question (yes, it is ok to question God, as long as you listen to His Word for answers!) “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Well, the first question, we must ask ourselves when the foundations are being destroyed is, “Who or what is our foundation?” Ephesians 2:20 tells us that if we are “in Christ” then we are “…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

So the obvious conclusion then, if our foundation is Christ, is that it can’t be destroyed!  But you say, “Kevin, it certainly doesn’t feel that way sometimes!”  Well, frankly, I agree and I bet Martha, the sister of Lazarus would have agreed as well!

We all know Martha, the busy, serving friend of Jesus.  Her and her family held a special place in Jesus’ heart.  Lazarus gets violently ill and news of this travels to Jesus and Jesus does something that shocks Mary, Martha and even those disciples who are closest to him!  NOTHING!  That is what Jesus did – NOTHING!

Now, let’s stop right here and ponder this in our lives…how many of us have petitioned on behalf of ourselves or someone and we were persistent and faithful and claimed the glory of God and Jesus answered with NOTHING?  NOTHING!  That word is hard for us to swallow, especially in regards to faith and especially when we’ve been so seemingly faithful!  But yet it happens…people get sick or die, people lose their jobs or a relationship…NOTHING – Jesus did NOTHING!  Can you identify?  Good, then we can proceed…

Jesus finally arrives at the tomb of Lazarus and there are mourners everywhere, the grave is sealed and Martha is “fit to be tied.”  She comes to Jesus and announces in John 11:21 “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

Now, I would say that the foundation of Martha’s faith here is pretty great in that she knew the power of Jesus to heal the sick!   She trusted, knew, the power that Jesus had and that if He had been there, He would not have let Lazarus die.  AND SHE WAS RIGHT!  If Jesus would have been there, Lazarus would not have died, so Jesus didn’t go!  He wanted her to see a side of Him that she and no one had ever seen!

You see, like David and Martha, there are times in our lives, when Jesus can swoop in and save the day, but the reality of that is simple:  Our faith would remain stagnant, the same if He did this – so He does NOTHING until all hope is seemingly gone so that we can see more of Him!  The foundation is being destroyed right before our eyes.  Like Martha, our faith may extend to the next life because she told Jesus that she believed Lazarus would rise in the “last day.”  We are like that too.  We hold hope and faith in heaven and sometimes we allow this future hope to get in the way of today’s hope!

The reality for Martha, was that Jesus was not going to let Martha’s faith be destroyed, but He was, in fact, going to make it larger!  He spoke to her dead brother 3 words…”Lazarus, COME FORTH!”  At that point Martha’s faith was made stronger than ever and I bet she never, ever rushed Jesus into acting in her time again!

So back to us…when it seems like Jesus is doing nothing, and everything is slipping away and our faith is taking a pounding…rest easy – Jesus is still on the throne and He is planning a miracle to raise your faith to the next level!  Back in Psalm 11, David trusted in this as well… “The Lord is in His holy temple, and on His heavenly throne…the Lord examines the righteous…upright men will see his face!

So if you think your faith is being destroyed…take heart!  God is still working even if it seems like something in your life is dying!  He is your foundation and at times, He must expand your vision of Him and take you deeper in the foundation of your faith than you ever expected to go!

hatchets, rivers and never-going-to-eat-again hunger

I have read several books with my son Nathan.  Hatchet is one our favorites and its sequel “the River” is as equally as exciting as we are finding out.  In the story of Hatchet, a young boy, Brian is on his way to visit his father and the small plane that he is in crashes in a lake and the pilot of the plane dies.  Brian is left to fend for himself in the wild.
In the sequel, Brian goes back to the woods with a psychologist and no equipment to repeat the same things that got him out of this amazing situation the first time so that he and his methods can be studied and learned from in training agents and so forth.

Brian recalls something to his new friend, David, about his first real survival situation.  FOOD!  Food is everything.  When you are trying to build shelter, fire or survive, you are always thinking about food.  It is the same for all of life, Brian explains…the bears, fish, birds – even the dreaded mosquitoes are all looking for this substance we call food that sustains us.

I went to bed thinking about this.  In the book, Brian talks about not hunger like missing a meal hunger, but hunger when you realize that you are never going to eat again hunger.  Matthew 5 tells us that we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  That the Word of God should be my sustenance for life.  The question that I found myself asking myself is…”do I really hunger for Your Word, God?”  Oh sure, maybe I hunger for it like I missed it yesterday, but do I really hunger for the Word of God in my life like I may never eat again?  Is my hunger for the Bible and how it applies in my life and becomes alive and moves me something that is VITAL to my life?

I pray that God’s Word will again become so important to me that I can’t live without it!  Not for sermon prep or for teaching, but for my life!

Blessings,

Kevin

This is a tough one…

I’m as patriotic as anyone…just ask my family.  I am all the way red, white and blue.  I have friends and family serving in the military here at home and abroad – even in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I am proud and appreciative of what they do and how they do it.  Every night when I lay down on my pillow, I thank God for those men and women who have died and fought and defended so that I can sleep in freedom.  I pray every Sunday and thank God for the privilege of being able to worship freely.  So as you read this understand the heart from which it comes.  I am an American and I am proud of it!  As a matter of fact, as I am typing these words, I can hear Lee Greenwood in the radio of my mind singing those famous words…”and I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free…”

First and foremost, though, I am a follower of Jesus.  As hard as it is sometimes in this body, I must look at things through the lens of God’s Word.

As I think about the events of the last few hours with the finding and killing of Osama Bin Laden, I can’t help but think about those horrible images of September 11, 2001.  I remember where I was, what I was doing and who I was with.  We all do.  I think about not only that but the other bombings and terrorists acts that were directly caused by the planning of this man.

As I think about these things, I am also grieved for all of the evil in this fallen world.  So many horrible things that people have to experience and the  pain that is felt.  I do believe in justice and I think that the death of this man does spell justice in a sense, especially for those who have been directly affected by his acts of evil.

As a follower of Christ, though, I am reminded of what Paul told the church in Ephesia.  “For weare not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.

2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that “The Lord…doesn’t want anyone to perish, but desires everyone come to repentance.” 

So let me encourage you or maybe challenge is a better word…before you rejoice in this terrorist’s death, think about how God sees his death and how would Christ have us respond.  Maybe if nothing else, it will burden us to pray more and share the love of Christ with EVERYONE – even those who hate us! (Matthew 5:43-48)

So let us be glad that this mastermind of terrorism can no longer plot his evil (no doubt someone will take his place), but let us also be motivated to pray and be burdened for EVERY soul that doesn’t know Christ and will spend an eternity in hell apart from God, even those who hate and persecute us.

If you want to make a difference in the war on terror check out this site…www.atfp.org

Psalm 8

Wow is all I can say!  Today in my time of reading and studying Psalms, I came across this chapter and was blown away!  I just needed to share it because it is something I could not keep in!

David starts off with the “Big Idea” in verse one that says, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (NLT) Charles Spurgeon says of this verse, “We need not wonder at this exclamation, for no heart can measure, no tongue can utter, the half of the greatness of Jehovah!”

What a way to start!  Then I was reminded in verse 2 of how many times my kids have had to remind me of the this fact in the little things that they say and do!  Remember to enter the kingdom of God we must have the heart of a child!

Verses 3-4 reminded me of one of my favorite books that I highly recommend to you – i am Not But I Know I AM by Louie Giglio.  These verses illustrate to me how GREAT God is and how insufficient and insignificant I really am in the grand scheme of life, yet for some reason God sees fit to be ‘mindful’ of me and love me!  I am so unworthy!

The next 4 verses tell of God’s gift to us.  He gives us responsiblity to take care of his creation and make his fame great in this world.  The question to myself as I read these verses was, “Am I being faithful to Him?”

Then to wrap things up, David brings us back to the BIG IDEA!  Lest we get so caught up in verses 5-8 and all of our responsibility that we forget the reason for all that we do in the first place!

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

God, may this resonate in my life and may I come back to this BIG IDEA over and over again!  You are worthy to be praised with my life and how I live it!

Blessings,

Kevin

uncomfortableness, grace and perfected weakness!

I just concluded a sermon series on becoming FULLY DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST entitled Denial.  While it seems so simple to say that we are “disciples,” the literal translation of that word means “apprentice.”  An apprentice is someone who is learning in a hands-on environment.  That is a tough thing to do with Jesus because, as I’ve learned over the last 6 weeks, Jesus calls us to a life of uncomfortable, luxury-free living. In Luke 9:57 Jesus has an eager man come up to him and boldly proclaim “I will follow you no matter where you go!”  Now it stands to reason that this would have been someone that Jesus would have wanted to have follow him!  After all, I’m a pastor, and I love it when people say, I’m ready to do whatever you need me to do.  But Jesus’ response to this “gung-ho” potential follower  is pointed and discouraging. “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head!” (Luke 9:58 NLT)  If you say you want to follow me, then you better be prepared to be homeless!  No comforts, no pillows or blankets, no luxuries!  Jesus goes on to discourage even more people!  Understand that when we come to Christ and seek to follow Him, there is a price to be paid!  There is a cost to be counted!  Our comforts, our luxuries, our responsibilities and even our families pale in comparison to following Christ!

That is a tough one to swallow isn’t it?

To conclude our time on this subject I challenged my congregation to “give up” a comfort for ONE WEEK for the sake of pursuing Christ!  I know that this sounds simple, but we have to start somewhere, right?  I pray that losing our comfort for a week, will help us gain some insight into what it truly means to follow Christ.

I was reading this morning in  2 Corinthians 12 where Paul is talking about the “thorn in the flesh” that has been allowed upon him by God.  Paul desperately prays time and time again for this to be removed from Him and time and time again the words of Christ come to Paul loud and clear, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness!” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)

To be followers of Christ, we must come to a place in our lives where we realize that comfort, strength and luxury in our lives is a detriment to the Kingdom of God!  His power in us is perfected as we follow him out of weakness and uncomfortableness!  As followers of Christ, we must desire to deny ourselves of anything that is going to get in the way of the power and grace of God in our lives.  Most of the time our stuff and our comforts do just that!  Get in the way!

I want God to make me a follower. How about you?  I don’t think we really know or have even scratched the surface of what it means to follow Him.  I do believe, though, that we CAN truly follow (the way those disciples followed – with reckless abandon) and see the glory of God grow and the kingdom of God impacted!

Happy Apprenticing!

Kevin

To listen to thoughts on this subject click here!