Pouring out the Perfume

There are so many people in the church who are talented and have been blessed with so many things.  Some are wealthy with finances, some are wealthy with knowledge. Whatever it is they have one thing is sure, it is God’s blessing in their life. So what happens when we use those blessings?

In the twelfth chapter of John we find the story of Mary coming and anointing the feet of Christ. The text reveals to us that what she used to anoint Him was a very expensive pint of perfume, about years’ worth of wages. (vs .3,5) The fragrance of the perfume filled the air. I’m sure that all who had not originally seen her walking in and cracking open the bottle soon turned their heads as they could smell the wonderful fragrance throughout the entirety of the home.

Sadly this moment of humbling worship was interrupted by the Judas who reprimanded the woman for wasting it. He claimed it could had been sold and the money given to the poor! (vs. 4,5) While this true we find in the following verse that his true motives were not so noble, rather he knew if it were sold he’d have control over it and its use.

What can we draw from this?

For starters let’s point out the fact that the scent of the perfume filled the air. When we humble ourselves in worship it leaves a lasting impression. When even though the meeting went south the men left the room with some of that scent on their clothing and they would continue to remember how someone was able to humble themselves and bless the Lord.

Whether it’s through your giving of finances to this project or another, your ability to lead others in worship, your ability to teach the word of God to young child or adult, your ability to simply pray and serve, it will ALWAYS leave a lasting impression. It will impact someone somehow and they will be drawn back to the truth that someone was so willing to humble themselves to bless the Lord, and in turn will be inspired to do the same.

Next, we can take away the fact that when someone is willing to truly humble themselves someone is bound to get offended. “Why are they doing that? That money could be used for better purposes! Their skills could be used in other ways then something as trivial as this. Their time could be better spent in other places!” Are these things true? In a way, however, when we take time to truly honor and bless  the Father in heaven then time and energy is never wasted because He honors those whom faithfully serve and bless Him.

Now I’m not saying you need to go out and give all your money to some charity, I’m not saying you need to go out and do something that puts your family in terrible debt or pain.  What I’m saying is you should not be afraid to bless Him. After all who  is more worthy of praise and blessings? NONE! In his new album “The Attributes of God,” lyrical theologian Shai Linne has a chorus line that simply says “Not to us, not to us! BUT TO GOD BE THE GLORY!” This simple proclamation sums up the reasoning for us to bless and extol Him.

I encourage you dear brothers and sisters of the faith, bless our Lord in whatever fashion you can. If it be through monetary giving, through teaching a Christian Education Class, joining a prayer group, serving in THP Kidz (Nursery Ministry), The Deep (Kids Ministry), or OPEN (Youth Ministry), or whatever it is that the Lord has placed on your heart then do it! Do it gladly.

Go Deep.

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Baptism: what is it and why do we do it?

Dear Parents,

I’ve recently had the kids ask a lot of questions about what baptism is and why we do it. Due to this massive amount of questioning I decided to do a teaching on baptism.  Due to this teaching your kids may began asking to be baptized! Baptism is a wonderful part of our faith and step in our walk with God.

My general rule of thumb, however, is that I do not baptize kids unless the parents and I are both sure that the child knows what baptism is and that they are doing it for all the right reasons.  Kids being kids they will often want to do things simply because their friends or siblings are doing it. It is for this reason that I hold off on baptizing them, so to make sure they are doing it for their personal walk with God.

I’d like to encourage you to discuss with your children about the topic of baptism.  I’d like to encourage you to sit down and see where they are in their walk with the Lord and teach them about what baptism really means. Some of you may not be completely aware of what baptism is actually about and need help understanding it yourself.  This brings us to the second reason for writing this letter, as I’ve stated several times, it is my job as your Children’s Pastor to come along side you the parent and help with the spiritual upbringing of the kids. Below I have given you a little write up on what baptism is and what it means.

Take your time discussing this with your children over the next week or so. If you feel that your child wants to be baptized or you feel they are ready to be baptized then feel free to contact me.

First you should understand is that baptizing people is actually a commandment given to us by Christ himself.

 

Matt 28:19-20

19 ” Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

NASU

 

In the book of mark we find that Baptism appears to be part of our salvation process.

 

Mark 16:16
He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved;
NASU

So the question now is why? Why is this part of our walk with God. Part of this dates back to the Jewish tradition of Mikveh, which is a ritual cleansing process. In Jewish ceremonies the people of God would immerse themselves underwater (be baptized) as a way of becoming ceremonially pure or clean. It was also required for a gentile (non-jewish person) to go through the Mikveh to become Jewish. The idea was that they would go into the water as an idolater and when they came out of the water it was as if they were reborn as a Jew.

As Christians our baptism fulfills a very similar role. The concept of being pure before the Lord and being reborn is very much part of our baptism. In the book of Romans Paul writes,

Rom 6:4
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
NASU

When we go down into the water we are declaring that us as a sinner no longer exists [dead to sin/dead in Christ], much like the as the gentile went down he declared that his days as an Idolater who followed false gods was over. When we come back up it is a declaration that we are reborn with Christ as children of the Kingdom of God, just as the former gentile is now Jewish.

Now generally this is a one-time thing. You do at times see people get re-baptized after a long season of their life, when they have walked away from the Lord and they are now making a statement that they shall not fall back again. Some even do it later in life because they feel that when they did it the first time they did not truly mean it, whether it is because they were just faking their faith or because they honestly did not know what was happening.

The last part is why I am writing this letter. Parents, I encourage you to take some time and sit down walk your kids through the concepts of baptism, to do as our Lord commands in Matthew 28:19-20

19 ” Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
NASU

Go Deep,

Dallas

Simple Prayers

I had heard this story and wanted to share it with you all.

“There is the story of the uneducated Jewish boy who wanted to pray but did not understand any Hebrew, [apparently traditional Judaism has always stressed the importance of praying Hebrew although it is perfectly ok to pray in any language that you can understand] so he began reciting the only Hebrew he knew: the Aleph-Bet. [Hebrew alphabet] One day, as he was davening [praying] the letters, a rabbi came to him and asked him why he prayed in this manner. The little boy replied, ‘The Holy One, blessed be He, knows my heart. I give Him all the letters, and He puts the words together!’”

How amazing is it that such a child could grab hold of an amazing eternal truth.  The Lord knows our hearts. He knows what we think and how we feel. Yet how often have we been challenged to pray, both in private and publically, but found ourselves unable to do it out of fear of not being able to speak eloquently? The Lord does not care what you say, if all you can muster up is a simple “thank you Lord” and then you sit in silence to hear from Him, then all praise to the Lord. He simply seeks communication with His children, not a 3 point sermon or a theological break down of your problems and cares.

Parents, women of God, & men of God; the children watch you. Like you they fear saying something wrong when it comes time to speak to the Lord. But if you humble yourself and earnestly seek His face in prayer in front of your children I promise you this, your children will learn to pray too. It may simply be a, b, and c; but, “The Holy One, blessed be He, knows my heart.”

Personal Meditation: Culture

Culture… the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group

This is a hot topic for people. In the Christian world it is often argued over how to handle it. There is one extreme that believes in taking upon cultural practices and thought processes are so necessary that they allow “cultural norms” to over shadow Biblical truth. A common term for this in the “church world” is the presentation of “water down gospel.” This extreme leaves a generation of people who are loosely Christians if even that.

The other extreme believes that culture has absolutely NO relevance to ministry. It is this belief that has caused such great tragedies such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the horrific crimes committed against the Native Americans. (if you’re wondering what it was like for them check out Native American Christian musician, Red Cloud’s song Koyote Gospel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HSCpwhMXLw )

There is a balance in all things. These two extremes have left many broken, lost, and confused. So what does Scripture say about Dealing with culture? Check out what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

19For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I becameas one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Paul is not saying he has allowed himself to be consumed by the cultures of these people groups. But he’s also not saying that a person’s culture should be ignored. Instead he shows that he has taken the time to learn and understand the culture of the people he ministers to. He knows that by having an understanding of people’s cultures he can reach them more effectively.

Being culturally relevant doesn’t mean you sacrifice gospel truth to be hip. It means you, because you have an understanding of how people think and speak, are able to present to the gospel in a way they understand.

Knowing your audience is preaching 101.  If I stand in front of kids I don’t use terms like propitiation, exegesis, or pneumatology. (but I do teach those words to them along the way) I use words they understand. I don’t use illustrations involving taxes and the government; I use illustrations involving cartoons and school.

Do I change what the gospel says? NO! Holiness is holiness, righteousness is righteousness.  If you die without your Christ you do go to hell. If you fake your walk with God, yes you will go to hell. But how to explain what sin is to a person who’s never grown up in church?  Fact of the matter is our “Christian-ese” does not make sense to people. Understanding a person’s culture helps us to help them understand God’s culture.

At the same time we must be careful not allow ourselves to overstep the boundaries set by God for the sake of being culturally relevant.  There are certain cultural practices and aspects that are against God completely and we should NOT partake in. There are those out there who have used the excuse of being culturally relevant to justify blatant sin!

Friends I encourage you, find the balance.

Regeneration… Thought from my personal mediation and prayer time

Regeneration…

According to the dictionary to regenerate is to re-create, reconstitute, or make over, especially in a better form or condition.

When we as Christians become Christians, we are in essence regenerated. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

So what does this mean? What does it mean to be a new creation? For many they believe this is a simple painless process. However, the fact of the matter is death is a painful thing. The old things pass away means our mindsets, our patterns in life, the way we see things are different.

Many of you know that I am a big fan of the hit BBC sci-fi show Doctor who. In this show the main character, the Doctor, is a member of the alien race known as “Time Lords.”  This race as an interesting ability, right before they die their body goes through a regeneration process.  They are still the same person with all the same memories of who they are, where they’ve been, and what they were doing.  The difference is they look different, their personality is somewhat different, they like different things, they don’t like others things.  They are new.

In the midst of the show you find out that the regeneration process is hard, scary, and painful. They realize that in order to live on and complete what has been entrusted in them, they have to die.  They have to give up who they are at that moment to become something new.

here’s a clip showing you what i mean

We as Christians are called to do the same. It’s hard, it’s scary, it’s painful. We have to give up old way so thinking, old way of speaking. We may lose some friends in the process.  But in the end we have to realize it’s for a greater good.  It could be that some of those things from your past were the exact things that were holding you back.  It could be that some of those “friends” were actually feeding back into you fear, doubt and destruction; when you (or even they) thought they were trying to give you “helpful” advice or where trying to support you.

Friends I encourage you to walk through that painful regeneration process. Become the new creation that God is calling you to be. Yes this means both physical and mental changes, but I promise you, in the end… it is all worth it.

At the end of the process, you’ll find yourself surrounded by new set of friends and family. People who love you and encourage you in the righteous and holy things of the most high God.  And who knows, it could be that once you have become the man or woman of God that you’re supposed to be; those friends from your past will see the truth of God too.