Tuesday, May 29, 2007
This is Pentecost weekend, the seventh Sunday after Easter. Pentecost was originally an Old Testament celebration called the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. Shavuot was an agricultural celebration where the people gave thanks to God by bringing their first fruits of the Spring harvest as offerings to the Lord (Leviticus 23). As time has passed and we have moved from an agricultural society, the Feast of Weeks has become a time to commemorate the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.
One year during the first century, after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, God birthed His Church on the Day Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. It was on that day, when Jews from around the world were in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5-12), that God filled the 120 with the Holy Spirit and they were given power to be God’s witnesses (Acts 1:8). On that day 3000 became believers and many of them took the message of the Gospel back to their hometown, and the church had begun worldwide.
We believe that the same promise of Jesus is for believers today. Acts 1:8 says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be the church and witnesses He has called us to be. Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be continually filled with the Sprit. We need a fresh infilling of the Spirit on a daily basis. On this, the birthday of the church, let’s celebrate by receiving a fresh God’s gift of the Holy Spirit!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
A Gallup Poll used the following scale to measure church attendance: How often do you attend church or synagogue — At least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never? The breakdown of responses to this question for all of 2006 were 31 percent reporting attending once a week, 12 percent almost every week, 15 percent once a month, 28 percent seldom and 14 percent never.
Those who reported attending at least once a month — 58 percent of the current sample — were asked why they attend. The reasons were:
For spiritual growth and guidance (23%)
Keeps me grounded/inspired (20%)
It's my faith (15%)
To worship God (15%)
The fellowship of other members/The community (13%)
Belief in God/Belief in religion (12%)
Brought up that way/A family value/Tradition (12%)
No reason in particular (1%)
The complete survey can be found at GallupPoll.com.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples who people thought He was. He then challenged the disciples to answer the question for themselves. “Who do you say that I am?” So let me get personal with you today, “Why do you go to church?” I know there are a lot of reasons. A lot of good reasons. We enjoy the worship, the Word, seeing our friends, being with our family, being encouraged, connecting with God. God even tells us in His Word that we are not to neglect going to church (Hebrews 10:25).
Take time to examine why you go to church. I believe there are things God can only do in our life when we gather together. He wants us to experience His presence in our celebration of worship. He wants to touch our lives and change us when we gather together. Let there be no more church as usual. Come expecting to meet God and be changed by Him!
Friday, May 11, 2007
I have been blessed to have strong women and moms in my life. I have a wonderful mother who many know as Mrs. Merrill who has taught our children Sunday School for the past fifty years. I have had two godly grandmas Mary Merrill, who went to be with the Lord, and Ella Meade who I admire. I have a great sister, Jodi Bechtold, who impresses me with her mothering skills as her family continually grows. I have a wonderful and beautiful wife and mother of our boys, Leslie, who I grow to love more each day as I watch her love and care for our family no matter how complicated life becomes. I even have a terrific mother-in-law.
I am blessed to have these women in my life. I wondered if there was a common thread to their greatness. When I began to think about it, I realized how different these women all were. They all have very different personalities and temperaments. Some had small families, others large. Some worked outside of the home, others were homemakers. In all of their differences, however, there was one consistent trait: each of these women puts God first in their life. They embody Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Life is hard. Family life can be very hard. That’s why our priorities need to be in proper order so that no matter what comes our way we can handle it because God is with us. Today I honor the moms in my life. I love you all. Your faithful and genuine relationship with the Lord has and will bless generations.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
This week our eldest son Luke mowed our lawn for the first time. I have to admit I couldn’t be more excited. I have waited for this day since he was born. I believe it is one of the reasons you have children. ;-) You see, I have been mowing lawns since I was young and I now have someone who will take over. I am ready to retire from my weekly summer ritual.
The funny thing is that as excited I was to turn our lawnmower over to Luke, he was equally excited to take on the new responsibility. He sees it as a right of passage into young adulthood. He now asks everyday if he can mow the lawn. Perhaps it’s the $5 he earns, perhaps he feels more grown up, or perhaps it’s the feeling he gets from knowing he is doing something significant for me and our family.
I didn’t just hand him the lawnmower and a gas can and say, “Go at it.” There was training involved. We talked about the lawn mower, how to cut the lawn, and the various important safety concerns. All of these things are second nature to a veteran lawn guy like me, but to someone who is beginning, all of this is very important. I cut the first track around the yard. I helped Luke cut around his first couple of trees. I then watched carefully, helping when needed, as took on his new grown up task. The rows weren’t always even. He missed a couple of spots. But he had a great first outing.
When I was watching Luke I thought about God watching us as we take on new callings in life. I like the thought that God is always there watching. He never leaves us alone. He is always there to help. And as we get good at one task, He gives us a bigger one to tackle. Remember the words of Jesus this week as you live out your calling, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20