Monday, March 30, 2015

The Essentials 5: The Church

Too many people claim that all they need is "Jesus and me" and that they don't need the church. There are even some who claim to be followers of Jesus and profess to hate the church. There is a truth in Scripture about the nature of His church and our place in it. What is that truth?

Check out this episode!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Essentials: Salvation

The next essential is the point of our faith, the salvation found only in Jesus. How do we find that redemption and what does it mean?

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Essentials: Sin

When we tell people they need to be saved, what are they being saved from? The next essential doctrine is the nature of the problem we all face as humans, sin and its consequence.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Essentials 2: Christ

In all of the world, in all of history, no one has ever been like Him. Jesus in all His fullness is the next essential truth that anyone who claims the name Christian must hold. 

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Essentials: The Word

The first essential doctrine that we must hold to is the one from which all others must flow. That's why it's the most attacked. If we are to be followers of Christ and stand against the tide of evil in this world, the Word must be our foundation.  Get equipped to stand upon it.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Why of The Essentials

The big thing that's been brewing is starting. If we are to grow and continue as a church, there are truths we must embrace, the Essentials of the Christian faith.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Tyranny of The Urgent

I first came across the concept in business. There's a list of tasks that need to be prioritized and completed. Once sorted in to their proper order, the items on the list need to be checked off in order of importance. Inevitably, something happens that throws the list into chaos. Under normal circumstances, this usually isn't an issue because once the new issue is resolve, the normal priorities return. The problem happens when this happens over and over again. Urgent problems take the place of the truly important things that need to get done. This is the Tyranny of The Urgent and it's destroying lives in ways that few recognize. It's one of the most potent weapons in arsenal of the enemy.

The urgent gets in the way of the important and prevents us from actually getting anywhere. Often, the important that the urgent blocks is the very thing that will solve the urgent problem in the long term. To use finances as an example, someone takes a lot of odd jobs to solve immediate financial concerns but doing so prevents an actual job search. The urgent need of unpaid bills drives the decision to solve the short term problem because there seems like no choice. The urgent prevents the long term solution from coming to fruition.

People do this every day. More of us are governed by the this tyranny than we even realize. I have to confess that the last several months have found me in that position. My lovely bride and I have been facing a whole list of issues from health issues to financial problems that have been in the way of doing anything meaningful. Perhaps that's why I'm writing this post. I need to confess my own sins and at the same time try to bring you some hope that you too can overcome your tyranny through prayer and allowing the Lord to actually be in charge.

The root of the Tyranny is fear and worry. What happens if I don't do this? Can we survive if I let this slide? In many ways, as this world slides and the economy just continues to languish, more people will move into survival mode, the essence of the urgent. Fear justifies way too many decisions with finances and relationships. Worry eats us alive.

Like so many issues of life, the answer is simple but not easy. Jesus Himself gave it to us in the Sermon on The Mount. (Matthew 6:25-34)

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

As I said, the answer is simple but not easy. In truth, this is one of the more challenging teachings the Lord has given us. It's easier to overcome adultery than worry. The urgency that is driven by worry is what keeps us from doing what really needs to be done. The urgent is really a shut down. We get tied up, scrambling from one crisis to the next, never getting anywhere. All we seem to do is just spin our wheels. We were meant for better.

Jesus takes hold of our fears and worries and assures us that God knows our needs and will take care of us. There are times, even for the most spiritually mature, when this truth is hard to grasp. Financial, health, or relational issues get in the way. Here, the Lord is telling us not be worried about such things.

He tells us that God will meet our physical needs if we put His Kingdom first. In truth, all of our needs are found in Christ. The Father knows not only that we need food, clothing, and shelter but so much more. He will meet all of them. 

One of the laments I have taken up over the last several years is that so many important decisions have been made based almost entirely upon finances. This is more than simple budgetary concerns. It's been based upon finding enough money to solve a looming crisis. I'm ashamed to admit how little prayer went into most of them. Now, as the Lord is convicting me of my lack of faith, I look back and see how much damage foolish, prayerless decisions have done. I even see some of my recent choices going awry after choosing to trust God more only a few months ago.

That's when the enemy hits us with urgency. The first of the year, my lovely bride and I undertook a new step in life fueled by faith. It was a huge leap that had been basked in prayer. Two months in and we're facing a huge disaster. Questioning that choice is natural when it seems to go badly. We were hit with a series of health issues affecting by my bride and me. These problems had a profound negative effect on our finances. Combined with other unplanned problems, we've been forced to make decisions we didn't anticipate. Many of those choices at the points of decision went against our better instincts but, because of the problems we face, we made them anyway. In several, those decisions have exacerbated the long term problems. Now, we have to find a way back to the important through the clutter.

That's the problem we all face when we fall into the Tyranny. Now begins a process to reclaiming our position of trusting the Lord. Some of the choices cannot be undone easily. There will be resistance not just in the spiritual realm but the physical as well. This is to be expected whenever moving back to where faith guided decisions rather than urgency. That's why prayer for wisdom is essential. The Lord promises that whosoever asks for wisdom will have it given to them liberally. (James 1:5) That's what all of us need when getting back to the priorities He sets for us.

Allowing the Lord to set our priorities is how we break the cycle of tyranny. "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed." (John 8:36) The law of liberty means that we are set free from the constraints of sin and the world's system. That includes fear and worry, the root of the tyranny of the urgent. Walking out the law of liberty and shedding the shackles of this world is the abundant life Jesus promised.

If you are in this situation now or find yourself there in the future, prayer and faith are the only way out. None of the time management solutions I learned in all my years of business education are truly sufficient for breaking free. Trust me, I've tried. This isn't our first time in this mess but it's at one of our more critical junctures. Faith has freed us before and will do so again. It will just take time. The same is true for you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Never Leave a Man Behind

Never Leave a Man Behind! We hear it all time in movies and on television. Many Congressional Medal of Honor recipients went back for wounded comrades. The church is at war and the battlefield is littered with the wounded. How do we live out the truth of that statement when the fight is spiritual instead of physical?

Check out this episode!