Monday, October 31, 2011
I ended my last blog by asking the question, “Is there any spiritual merit in Halloween?” And since today is Halloween, it is a fitting time for me to answer that question. I described in my last blog entry the cultic background of many of our modern day Halloween traditions and how they stemmed from a day in which the Druids of Scotland and Ireland would honor Saman, known as the Lord of the dead.
In 834 AD, In order to combat these occult practices, Pope Gregory IV moved the church festival of “All Saints Day” to November 1st. This was a day to honor all the Saints who had died. The eve of the festival was called, “All Hallows E’en” (E’en is a contraction for evening). This gave us the modern name, “Halloween.” No matter what your feelings and convictions are about participating in Halloween traditions, I do believe that there is an aspect of this holiday that can spiritually benefit all of us.
We can make Halloween a very spiritually motivating day if we understand the true heritage and the benefit that there can be in remembering the life’s testimony and message of Saints who have already gone on to glory. We must first understand that one is not made a “saint” because a church council declares it. A “saint” is anyone who has been made righteous through faith alone in Jesus Christ. It is Biblical and profitable for us to remember saints who have gone on before us. That is what Hebrews chapter eleven is all about…remembering men and women of God who have shown great faith and then allowing their life’s message to still motivate and challenge us even today.
So let’s start a new Halloween tradition. It’s one we can all enjoy without compromise. Let’s take time to reflect on such great saints. We can break it down into 3 categories:
1. Saints of theology: These are individuals from the pages of Scripture whose life message greatly influence us for Jesus still today. For me, this is a man like Joshua from the pages of the Old Testament who led Israel in possessing the Promised Land.
2. Saints of history: These would be individuals who lived in history and whose testimony for Christ still impact us today. For me, that includes men like Dr Jerry Falwell and singer/songwriter, Keith Green.
3. Saints of family: These would be family members or close friends who are now with Jesus but whose heritage causes us to walk with Jesus today. For me, this is my Grandpa Distler, who was in full-time ministry for some 50 years before he died.
When we take time to reflect on great saints of the past, even Halloween can become spiritually profitable to us today. After all, it was on Halloween in 1517 that a great man of God named Martin Luther climbed some steps in Germany and posted his “95 Thesis” on the doors of the Wittenberg Church setting off what we know today as the “Great Reformation.” Ah, yes, I believe there is most definitely spiritual merit in Halloween.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
This Sunday will be our final week here at Gaylord E-Free in our Mansion of Prayer message series. Over the month of October we have been imagining prayer as if it were a Mansion with 5 huge and wonderful rooms. Each room represents an aspect of prayer and we have been taking time to explore one room each Sunday making sure we understand exactly what that room and that aspect of prayer entails. Below are the rooms we have explored so far:
Friday, October 28, 2011
Boo! Did I scare you? I should have. After all, it’s that time of year again…Halloween. Perhaps this is the most controversial day in the Americanized church. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it evil? Is it Satanic? Is there any merit in it at all? My most favorite Halloween memory stems back to when I was working as a Youth Pastor. Each Halloween we had a big party that we called a “Halloween Turn-About.” We dressed up like everyone else and went “trick-or-treating,” but instead of asking for candy, we asked for canned food for needy families. After a time of food and games at the church, we then took the canned food that we collected and dropped them off on the doorsteps of needy families within our church, ringing the door bell and then running.
I assigned one couple on my youth staff to take a group of our teens in their van and go out to a specific area to drop off the food at a specific address. It was dark and their van inched up the street trying to read the house numbers. They would often stop and send a teen running up to a door to see what house number it was. Suddenly, without any warning, they were surrounded by police officers. We didn’t know that a credible threat had been made concerning an abduction in that area and Law Enforcement was on high alert. When they saw our van creeping up the street and people running back and forth from it, they thought we might be the culprits that had made the threat. Happy Halloween!
Well, there is no doubt that the history of parts of Halloween is founded in occult themes. Nobody I know debates that. It goes way back to
Jack-o-lanterns also go back to this era, only they started as large rutabagas, carved with gross faces and lit with candles. This is due to a tale about a man named Jack who was a notorious drunkard but who was also smart. As a result, the fable says that when he died, he was turned away from both heaven and hell. As a result, he put a glowing coal into a carved turnip and he has been wandering the earth ever since. Poor Jack!
But the question I want to focus on isn't, "Is Halloween bad?" I want to focus on just the reverse, "Is there any spiritual merit in Halloween?" Be sure to read my blog posting on Monday to hear my answer.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Here at the Gaylord E-Free Church we have over 20 Ministry Teams that really are the backbone of our ministry. Each of these teams reports to a Leadership Team made up of lay people in our church of men and women who are genuinely committed to seeing our church reach its redemptive potential. Last Monday night all of the leaders of these Ministry Teams met together with our Leadership Team and each took several minutes to share answers to the following 3 questions:
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Yesterday we talked about praying for others with muscle. Today let me "stretch" that thought to the idea of praying for others with "agony." That's what Paul asked for when he asked the church at Rome to pray for him. He didn't just say, "Hey, if you think about it would you throw up a prayer for me?" No! He said, "I urge you to 'strive together' with me in prayer to God for me!"
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Will you pray for me? WAIT! Before you answer, let me share with you a description of how I would like you to pray for me.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Hello, Community Church! My name is Scott Distler and let me just say, “I love your church!” I really do. No local church in the entire world has meant more to me over my life than yours. Back during the summers of 1985 and 1986 I worked right there at Community Church in West Milton, Ohio as a Summer Intern Youth Pastor. Then, after graduating from college and getting married in May of 1987, my wife, Laura, and I started our lives together in West Milton where I spent the next several years serving on the pastoral staff in a youth and associate role.
To this day those early years of local church ministry at Community Church remain some of the best memories of my life. I remember Youthquake Rallies that saw literally hundreds of students come to Christ. I remember putting out that big chicken in the church yard each summer to officially announce to the community that Bible School was coming (even if it meant me wearing green panty hose…but we won’t talk about that). I remember Friend Days, Sowing Sundays, and Saturday Night Alternatives. In fact, I could literally walk through every room of your church and have a flood of amazing memories race through my mind.
It was at your church that I cut my teeth in ministry. It was at your church that I developed my philosophy of ministry. It was at your church that I found my mentor and my pastor for life – Pastor Steve Peters. It was during our ministry years at Community Church in West Milton, Ohio that both of our kids were born. Amazingly, Joy is now a senior in college studying Education and Jonathan is a sophomore in college studying Worship Arts.
But without question, I remember the most exciting time of the year at Community Church was always Mission’s Conference. I can remember dressing up one year as the Pope when our Sunday School class was assigned the country of Italy. I remember dressing up as a European fisherman from Portugal one year and even as a native from the jungles of New Guinea another year for Missions Conference. Missions Conference was always an awesome week.
Laura and I are looking forward to being back at Community Church for this year’s Missions Conference in November. We are really excited to see and catch-up with old friends. And we are equally as excited to make new friends.
I have been praying that God would use our time together at Missions Conference in amazing ways – literally that He would accomplish abundantly more than anything that we could ever ask or imagine. I believe He’ll do just that.
We are looking forward to being back at Community this November and I hope that each of you will make it a point to be at each service for this year’s Missions Conference!
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I told you in my posting yesterday how excited I am about all that our Worship Design Group and Creative Ideas Group has in the plans for Sundays in November and December here at Gaylord E-Free. Below are just a few teasers of what is to come as we worship the Lord together:
Friday, October 21, 2011
I laughed this morning when here at the church I went to make myself a cup of hot tea and saw that one of the tea options people can chose on Sundays here at Gaylord E-Free is the "Sweet Dreams" tea bag - you know, the one that relaxes you and helps you to sleep better! I couldn't help but laugh at the apparent irony I saw in that.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
In my blog yesterday I shared that I tend to interpret the Bible literally. As a result, on my radio program here in Gaylord, Michigan yesterday, I answered the controversial question, “Is hell real?” with an emphatic “YES!” But how can a loving God send people to such a horrible and eternal place of punishment? The truth is that in reality, few doctrines in the Bible reveal the love of God more than the teaching of a literal hell. How so?
Let me start with this question…"If hell is real, who do you think deserves to spend eternity in it?"
-Does Satan deserve to spend eternity in hell?
-Do the demons deserve to spend eternity in hell?
-Does someone like Adolph Hitler deserve hell?
-What about child molesters? Do they deserve hell?
Now let me ask you two more questions along the same line:
-Do I, Scott Distler, deserve eternity in hell?
-Do you deserve eternity in hell?
Again, if you are going to take the Bible literally, the answer to all of the questions above is “YES”! Yes, Satan deserves hell! Yes, the demons deserve hell! Yes, Adolph Hitler deserves hell! Yes, Child molesters deserve hell! Yes, I deserve hell! And, yes, you deserve hell too! Why? Because everyone on that list is a sinner. Everyone on that list, including you and including me, have sinned against a holy God (Romans 3:23). And according to the Bible, what we each deserve because of our sin is death – eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). You see, sinning against an eternal God is deserving of eternal punishment. That is the fact – cut and dry!
This is where God’s love comes in! Even though we all, me included, deserve eternal separation from God and eternal punishment in the hell that was created for Satan and the demons, God loved us so much, He made a way of escape! Remember the most popular verse in the Bible?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life!” (John 3:16)
God loved you and me so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus into this world to live a perfect life and die on the cross in our place. And while He was on the cross God put our sin on Jesus and God poured out His wrath on Jesus as a punishment for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). As a result, everything that had to be done to appease the wrath of a holy God due to our sin was accomplished by Christ on that day when He died for you and for me, paying the penalty for our sin! Against the backdrop of the horror of a literal and eternal hell, we see the love of God.
You see, hell is real. And yes, you deserve to go there…you really do! But God loves you so much that He made a way for you to escape. He sent Jesus to die for you. If you will believe that and put your trust fully and solely in the death and resurrection of Jesus for your sins, you can have eternal life. That’s why God loved you enough to send His son to die for you, so that instead of perishing (spending eternity in a literal and eternal hell), you will have eternal of life (forgiveness of sin that brings about eternity in heaven).
Yes, hell is real! That does not contradict the love of God - it heightens it!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
This morning on my radio program on the only secular radio station in Gaylord, Michigan, I answered the question, “Is there really a hell?” I know that this is a controversial topic, even in the church. It seems that more and more pastors and theologians are diminishing the Biblical account of a literal hell or an eternal hell. Some will teach what we might call “A Second Chance View” which says that after death there will still remain a way to escape hell. Others teach “Universalism” that teaches that at the end of the day everyone will go to heaven. And still others teach what we would call “Annihilationism” which teaches hell simply means that we cease to exist. This view says that this life is all there is so “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die!”
However, I am more of a literalist when it comes to the Bible. I believe that the best way to interpret the Bible is to do so literally unless it obviously is meant to be symbolic. In other words, I literally believe things in the Bible like that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it in a 6-day period. I believe that there really was a universal flood that destroyed all life except for Noah, his family and the animals on the ark. I believe that a guy named Jonah was actually swallowed by a great fish and survived in the stomach of that fish for 3 days and 3 nights. So, as someone who takes the Bible literally, I also believe that there is a literal and eternal hell. So below I have listed some literal facts seen in Scripture that I really do believe is true about hell:
-I believe that everyone will exist eternally in either heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2, 3; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28; Revelation 20:14, 15).
-I believe that everyone has only one life here on earth in which to determine their eternal destiny (Hebrews 9:27).
-I believe that your eternity in heaven or hell will be determined by whether you put your trust in Christ alone for your forgiveness of sins (John 3:16, 26).
-I believe that hell was originally designed for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
-I believe that hell will also be a place of eternal punishment of sin of those who reject Christ (Matthew 13:41, 50; Revelation 20:11-15).
-I believe that hell is a conscious torment (Matthew 13:50; Mark 9:48; Revelation 14:10).
-I believe that hell is eternal and irreversible (Revelation 14:11; Revelation 20:14, 15).
Perhaps one of the greatest arguments against a literal and eternal hell is the age old question, “How can a loving God send people to a horrible hell?” Actually, nothing shows the love of God more than the reality of hell. I will explain how in my blog posting tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Yesterday at staff lunch one of the guys mentioned that summer weather days are now gone which means that my first winter as a resident of Gaylord, Michigan is just about upon me. I may not be saying the same thing this time next year but as of right now, I am looking forward to the first real snowfall of winter.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Last Thursday, I sat down with our Director of Counseling here at Gaylord E-Free, Jack Dutton, and we watched a video of one of the sessions of the recent World Conference he attended. The speaker was John Ortberg (one of my favorite authors/speakers) and he talked on the topic of "Saturday." When we think of the death and resurrection of Jesus there were 3-days involved. We know all about Friday when Jesus died on the cross. And we certainly celebrate Sunday when He arose from the dead. But what about Saturday?
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Some people have major amounts of trophies. You can go into an athlete’s house and find dozens upon dozens of trophies and game balls. And that athlete can tell you a specific story behind each one of them. You can go into the home or trophy room of a hunter and see all kinds of animals and heads mounted in all sorts of forms and positions. That hunter can walk you through that room and tell you amazing stories behind each and every animal trophy and mounted head. That is the purpose of trophies. That’s why we keep them. They are physical reminders of great victories and accomplishments in our past.
To be honest, I was never a person who acquired a lot of trophies. I did get a trophy once for the “Most Original Car” in a pine wood derby. The only problem was that the award for “Most Original Car” was given to the only car that never made it to the end of the track. It was their way of making sure that nobody felt like a loser (I’m not real sure that philosophy actually worked but oh, well!). I also have a few trophies from my stint in Little League Baseball. Again, don’t get too excited. Every kid who played Little League got a trophy. The truth is that I was only ever to achieve a .032 lifetime batting average.
But there is one trophy that I received back when I was in the “Webelos” portion of the Cub Scouts. When I tell you what it was for it will blow you away. This Sunday I will be bringing that special trophy of mine to church with me and telling you its story. You will find out how I achieved it and why it is the most special trophy I own. Hopefully, it will help you to understand the next room we will be exploring in our “Mansion of Prayer” message series.
We have already seen “The Foyer: Place of Confession” and “The Throne Room: Place of Adoration.” This Sunday we move on to “The Trophy Room: Place of Thanksgiving.” Together as we explore this room we will see the components of Thanksgiving. And from Psalm 100 we will identify 6 ways that we can give thanks to God for what He has done in our lives. And, as we are doing with each room of the Mansion, I will end the message this Sunday by giving you a key to help you better open up this room in a practical way that I believe God can and will use to add energy to your prayer life!
See you this Sunday at the Gaylord E-Free Church!
Friday, October 14, 2011
We saw in my blog posting this past Wednesday that the spirit world is teeming with life. God is a spirit and the third person of the Trinity is called the Holy Spirit. We also know that God created countless numbers of spirit beings called angels, of which one-third of them were deceived by Satan, followed him instead of God, and became what we know to be demons today.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Yesterday in my blog posting I introduced the topic of "ghosts." Are they real? We saw that the spirit world is teeming with life and that in Jesus day people, even His own disciples, believed at least somewhat in the existence of ghosts.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Remember that old Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray movie, "Ghostbusters"? In a haunting way, the theme song to that movie remains stuck in my head to this day..."Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!" This morning on my live program here in Gaylord, Michigan, I talked about the topic, "Are there such a thing as ghosts?" After all, it is October and Halloween is right around the corner.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I was surfing the web via Facebook over the weekend and found some pictures of my old stomping grounds. They sure brought back a flood of memories. I grew up in a neighborhood on the east side of Akron, Ohio called Goodyear Heights. Above are some pics that will mean absolutely nothing to you but which sent me on a serious trip down nostalgia lane.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I read an article on the internet Saturday that has really stuck with me. The whole gist was asking what people say when they leave your church on a Sunday. So tell me, what was the first thing you said when you left church yesterday?
Saturday, October 08, 2011
This Sunday here at Gaylord E-Free we continue our message series entitled, "The Mansion of Prayer." Last week we explored the foyer - place of confession. This Sunday we move on to the throne room which we will identify as the place of adoration. In this message we will answer the following questions:
Friday, October 07, 2011
Most church growth experts agree that the first 5 minutes of every visitor’s experience makes the biggest determination as to if that visitor will return to that local church. One seminar that I went to said that there are 9 “must haves” to connect visitors so that they will return. These 9 “must haves” include:
1. Clear signage on the street
2. Designated parking for visitors
3. Trained, friendly greeters
4. Direction signs in the church
5. Information center
6. Children’s classroom greeters
7. Clean bathrooms
8. Knowledgeable, helpful hosts
9. Professional bulletin (the average attender refers to the bulletin 7 times a service)
The worship service alone cannot effectively connect visitors. Why? Because people do not connect with programs, they connect with people. Starting new ministries are not the key to connecting visitors. People are the key to connecting visitors. Why is this so important? Because if a visitor returns a second and third time, they are far more likely to become regulars. For example:
10% of first time visitors become regulars
25% of second time visitors become regulars
45% of third time visitors become regulars
Visitors will ultimately ask themselves two very crucial questions. It is the answers to these two questions that will play a huge factor in if they will return. These include:
“Am I welcomed here?”
“Am I accepted here?”
So, as we move toward another Sunday, which will undoubtedly bring us many more visitors, what role will you play in people’s first five minutes here at E-Free? Will you…
2. Purposefully seek out those who appear to be alone or look hesitant?
3. Smile and greet people you do not recognize?
4. Ask the name of someone you have never met?
5. Sit next to someone in the service that you do not know?
6. Invite someone to your Sunday School class or Life Group who doesn’t attend one?
7. Find a common interest with someone you know nothing about?
8. Invite someone out or over to lunch that you need to get to know better?
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Yesterday I shared in my blog posting the top ten things I as the Lead Pastor want my staff here at the Gaylord E-Free Church. I then left the room and gave them 40 minutes as a team to come up with their top ten things they as a staff want me to know as their Lead Pastor. Here is their list to me:
Teamwork - We have things to contribute because of our past experience and knowledge. It's not only about you as a lead pastor, it's about us as a pastoral team.
Encouragement/Vision/Direction - Help us stay energized by focusing on the future. Keep reminding us about our strengths and what we do well/best.
Change Issues - We need your support when we are proposing change. Talk to us before proposing changes in our ministry to others.
Office work - We know that a good portion of work is done outside the office. You don't have to be at everything we plan or promote. You bless us tremendously with the creative ways you lead staff meetings and prayer times.
Three Legged Stool: Representing us to the Elders and Leadership Team - We expect you to look out for our best interest and represent us on the Elder Board and Leadership Team level. We function best when you are the glue in communication, team building and mutuality.
Mutual Accountability - Hold us personally accountable for our lives and ministry practices. You can tell us the truth, even when it hurts. Lead by example.
Job Performance - We don't expect you to be perfect. Please don't expect perfection from us all the time. It's okay to fail, learn and move on.
Relational - Know how to interact with staff members, their ministries, people's likes, and dislikes.
Support/Shepherding - We have your back. We desire that you would pastor and shepherd us and it gives security and love when you do (and brunch at your house at least once a month)
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Yesterday in our staff meeting here at Gaylord E-Free, I shared with my staff 10 things I want them to know as their Lead Pastor. Here is what I shared with them:
It’s not just about your area of ministry…it’s about the ministry of the church as a whole. Sometimes one area has to sacrifice for the betterment of the organization as a whole.
Even if we disagree in private, you must be a sold-out cheerleader in public. You should take personal responsibility to be sure that those under your ministry and under your influence are fired up, not just about their area of ministry, but about all areas of ministry within the church.
Never do “just enough.” Always go the “extra mile.” As my High School band director use to say, “Just because it is Christian does not mean we have to settle for being mediocre. Shoot for excellence in everything you do.”
If you don’t keep me informed, I can’t protect you. I don’t expect nor do I want you to do everything the way I would do it but be sure you are communicating with me so that if someone shares a concern about what you are doing, I am not blind-sided.
To be effective in your ministry inside the church, you must be building bridges outside of the church to people who do not know the Lord. Evangelism must be the engine that drives the church
One bad attitude can bring down the whole team. Paul tells us in the book of Philippians to do all things without grumbling and complaining. Paul tells the Colossians to do all that they do heartily as to the Lord.
You can’t rely on written announcements to fill needs…you must be creative in recruiting workers and filling holes. Please don’t come to me telling me how no one in our church cares enough to be involved when all you have done to get people involved is put a note in the bulletin. Never underestimate the power of “the ask.”
Though ministry is often tough, I need you to have fun. If you don’t enjoy your job and ministry, you will hurt the ministry as a whole.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
There are two primary reasons why I believe that most Christian husbands do not see any specific answers to their prayers. Sadly, the first reason is that most Christian husbands do not pray. James writes that we have not because we ask not. The second greatest reason why most Christian husbands do not see any answers to their prayers is because of the way they treat their wives. This is the principle taught in 1 Peter 3:7. It just may be the most frightening verse in the entire Bible for husbands.
Peter begins by telling the husband that they must treat their wives in two ways. First, they are to live with them in an understanding way. Second, they are to honor their wives. To do this we must view our wives properly. This involves they way we view our wives physically and the way we view them spiritually.
Physically, Peter tells us that we are to view our wives as a “weaker vessel.” The word vessel refers to our physical body. Though there are certainly exceptions, on the whole women are physically more fragile than men. I would imagine that if married couples were to have a best two-out-of-three arm wrestling competition with each other, my money is on more husbands to win 2 out 3 then wives. As a result, we must protect our wives and treat them with gentleness. We must view them as a fragile and cherished treasure that we handle gently and carefully. In reality, most husbands are simply way too harsh in how they speak to, speak about and treat their wives. Let me remind all of us husbands that outside of our salvation, our wives are the greatest treasure that we will ever have on this earth. We need to treat her in that way.
Though the wife is a bit weaker physically, it is important for us to realize that spiritually, she is our equal. Peter describes her as a “fellow heir in the grace of life.” Yes, God has made the husband the functional head of the home but this does not mean that he is spiritually superior to the wife. It simply means that he is the one responsible. Listen, my wife is as much a child of God as I am. The same Holy Spirit that indwells me also lives inside of her. The same is true of your wife if she knows Jesus. Men, this means that we can learn from our wives when it comes to spiritual things. They can help us become more like Jesus. This also means that we ought to be very hesitant to insist on a course of action for our marriage or family if our wives do not have the same peace about it as I do. Maybe it is we who are reading things wrong. The best decisions are the ones where both the Christian husband and the Christian wife both have the same peace.
So how seriously does God want us to take this? Peter is very clear that the man who fails to treat his wife properly must answer to God. It is as if God is saying, “I have given you a valuable treasure…treat her right or you will have to answer to me.” And what is the consequence for those of us husbands who fail to take this task seriously? Verse 7 teaches clearly that failing to treat our wife properly will definitely hinder our prayer life. So why don’t husbands see more answers to their prayers. My guess is that they either aren’t praying or they aren’t treating their wife properly…maybe it’s both!
Monday, October 03, 2011
Several years ago, a young girl wrote in to the Ann Landers advice column that was in her local newspaper with the following question:
“Dear Ann, I am a 13 year old girl who is tired of getting yelled at by my parents all of the time. All I hear from morning until night is, ‘Clean up your room! Pick up your clothes! Do your homework! Finish your chores!’ How can I get them off my back? Signed, Sick of Parents.”
Ann Landers wisely responded in this way:
“Dear Sick, You want to get your parents off of your back? It’s easy…clean up your room; pick up your clothes, do your homework and finish your chores!”
Why is it that so many of us, even as Christians, struggle with being obedient and hating sin in our lives? I think that one of the main reasons is due to the fact that we do not understand how they catch monkeys in some parts of
Sure enough, a monkey ultimately comes along. He picks up the coconut and puts his finger and thumb inside the hole, grabbing a piece of the fruit inside. Try as he might, the monkey can not get his finger and thumb back out. He shakes the coconut trying to free it from the stake. Meanwhile, out of the bushes come the hunters with their knives, spears, tanks and bazookas. The monkey sees them coming. He knows he is in danger. The monkey knows that all that he has to do is let go of the piece of coconut inside and scram. But instead, the monkey becomes monkey stew.
Such is the case with many Christians. We have coconuts in our lives. These are sins that we know are displeasing to God. We know that they are causing us harm. Yet, we won’t give up the coconuts. What does it mean to confess sin, hate sin and forsake sin in our lives? It means to take the coconuts that we are hanging on to and to throw them as far away from us as we possibly can.
So tell me, is it true in your life? Are there any coconuts in your life that it’s time to get rid of? Are there any secret sins that you have been holding on to for far too long? How true are the words of the Psalmist when he writes, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2). Maybe it’s time to clean up the room, pick up the clothes, do the homework, and finish the chores.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
“Nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer!” If I heard Dr. Jerry Falwell say that once in the four years I spent attending
But why is it that so many Christians today have anything but an effective and exciting prayer life? May I suggest a reason? You’re not going to like it. Oh, well, here it goes. I believe that most adults struggle with their prayer lives today because they grew up listening to thousands of prayers offered up in church services. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we should throw out church prayers. In fact, we probably need to pray more in church. But let’s be honest. Most prayers that are made in church services are not stated for the ears of God but rather for the ears of those who are sitting in the pews.
As a result, our prayer lives have become filled with religious clichés that are quoted regularly but without much thought or meaning. I wonder if we even know what we are asking for when we pray things like:
“Bless the missionaries!”
“Bless the gift and the giver alike!”
“Bless the food to our bodies and the hands that prepared it!”
And then there’s the one that bothers me the most. It’s when some well-meaning Christian prays, “God, we know You are with us because the Bible says that where two or three our gathered, You are there in their midst.” Now, come on! Yes, that quote is in the Bible but it is found in Matthew 18 dealing with the issue of confrontation as part of church discipline. Are we to take it that when we are by ourselves, God isn’t there? Of course not. Folks, we need to think when we pray. Sometimes our prayers are like:
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
And if he hollers, ‘let me go’
Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe!”
Beginning this Sunday here at the Gaylord E-Free Church we are going to take all five Sundays during the month of October to revisit the topic of prayer! After all, "Nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer!"