Archive for October, 2010

27
Oct
10

Access to God

It seems that recently the numbers of people for whom I am regularly praying for has increased exponentially.  As I have interceded for each of them, I could not help but wonder about the Jewish High Priest whose job it was, once a year, to enter into the Temple past the Veil separating the outside natural world from the Holy of Holies where he would intercede and make atonement before the presence of God for himself and all the people.  In order to prepare for this task he had to meticulously follow prescribed consecration rituals prior to his appointment with God.  First he had to make sure that he washed himself thoroughly according to ritual.  Then he donned the appropriate priestly garments and vestages.  After he was properly anointed with oils he would then make the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb or calf, sprinkle the blood on the altar, fill a bowl to take in with him as an offering and prepare a burnt offering from the meat.  The interior of the Holy of Holies would then be filled with incense smoke to shield the priest’s eyes from directly viewing the Shakinah Glory of God and being slain because of it.  He would wear bells on his ankles that would indicate to those outside that he was still alive and moving, and if they didn’t hear them they could then retrieve his dead body by means of a rope that was secured to his leg.  All of this describes what sounds like a perilous and unenviable job.

It sure makes me glad that when the Lord Jesus died on the Cross, He declared “It is finished,” and the Veil of the Temple was torn open from the top to the bottom, making the throne of God accessible to every believer in Christ.  In other words every person who has placed their faith in the sacrificial atonement of Christ for their sins is a priest, under His High-Priesthood.  Trust in Him is all the preparation we need make in order to access the Most High God in prayer, because Jesus has made all of the preparations we need.  Paul affirmed this in Ephesians 3:12 when he wrote, “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” (NLT)  And the author of the Book of Hebrews similarly encourages, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT) 

Think of this.  Jesus, the Son of God, who always had access to His Father, has sought and received the approval of His Father for us to share in His sonship.  Because of our adoption (Romans 8:23-24) we have all the rights as sons and daughters of God the King to come to Him wihtout appointment needing to be scheduled or audience sought and ask Him for whatever our hearts desire according to His will.  What good father would deny such a thing to any of his children?  The answer is none and neither will our Heavenly Father. 

It reminds me of the photo I saw once of little John-John Kennedy playing in the Oval Office under the desk while his father went about his daily work of running the United States.  Same with our Father God.  He is perfectly able to continue His glorious work without even the slightest interuption when his children need his attention.

So, what is it that needs our Dad’s attention?  Is there someone you’d like to bring with you into his throne-room?  Is something that requires asking permission for or direction and counsel about?  Or, perhaps most importantly, would you like to just come and tell the Father how much you love and adore Him and thank Him for being such a good Dad?  You don’t have to wait until his assistant lets you in, or wait for Him to call you, or even send another person to represent you.  You don’t have to be afraid, or ashamed, or timid, or intimidated.  He is waiting to hear from us.  In fact, He’s expecting us, anxious to talk to us and we always have His permission to enter….BOLDLY….CONFIDENTLY…..EXPECTANTLY.  So, what are we waiting for?  Abba’s door is open….go right in!

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12
Oct
10

Bidding a Tent Farewell!

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT)

This week marks the end of an era for my family, and especially for my 83 year old mother.  We are closing up her house and moving her into our home to live with my wife and me.  She has lived in that little place for over 55 years, having moved into it when I was only about a year old.  During that time she raised me, witnessed the passing of her father and mother who lived right across the yard, and the passing of her husband and my father right there in that house.  So, today when I took her there for what will be the final time, it was a moment of melancholy, not only for her, but also in an unexpected way, for me too. 

Seeing the house bare and empty, devoid of all furnishings and the familiar pictures on the walls was harder for me than I had realized it would be.  I had grown up there.  I had played in the yard and the surrounding neighborhood.  I had pets buried in that yard.  I left boyhood and became a man there.  Most of all, during every time of crisis and turmoil in my lifetime, I had always known that I could return there to that house, and that it would always be home.  I had prepared my heart to encourage my mom, because I knew it would be hard for her, but I had not prepared myself for my own sense of saddness and loss.

My wife, Barbara, met us there today during her lunch hour.  Before we left I felt moved to approach the Lord in prayer together, and it was then that His Holy Spirit did what He does best.  He began to comfort our hearts and assure us that the place we were saying goodbye to was not really our home.  Our home was with Him and our home was not a place but the people who now held hands, bowed our heads and looked to our shared faith in Christ to give us peace.  It was then that He spoke clearly to me and then through me to my mother and my wife.  

He did this by reminding me that He knew some other folks who looked back in sorrow to what they mistakenly thought was their home.  The Hebrew nation felt saddness when they left Egypt too.  Although it was never really their home, and even though in reality, it was always a place of bondage and slavery, it had become familiar to them.  Later as they approached the place of promise that God had set apart especially for them, they still longed to return and go back to Egypt, even if it meant returning to a life of servitude and suffering.  And it was then that God brought to my mind the words that He spoke to Joshua, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Did you get that?  “WHEREVER YOU GO!”  He did not say, “wherever you stay,” but, “wherever you go!”  

A tent is a tent.  It’s not a house.  A house is a house.  It’s not a home.  This world in which we live is not home anymore than the house we emptied this week is our home.  We are all dwelling in temporary digs….tents, and it does not matter how fancy it is or how many decorations and colorful carpets and wall fixtures you adorn it with, it is nothing compared to the incomparable mansion our Lord has prepared of us.  Our natural minds may want to convince us to stay, but the Spirit of God says….”Go!” 

So, today, we are going.  Going to a new place.  Going to a new life.  Going to a new future.  Going to fulfill a new purpose….with hope and with fresh joy.  This is not the end of an era!  This is the start of a new life…..with abundance (John 10:10).  We are not leaving anything of real value behind.  We are looking ahead where Jesus is leading us to move forward and follow Him and His plan.  And its okay, because we can hear Him saying, “I know the plans I have for you.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

11
Oct
10

The Lifepoint Point

 

As I am following the Lord’s lead to take a more active roll in ministry at Lifepoint Church, I have recently had my attention redirected to what we refer to as “The Point.”  These are 10 core values which speak to the DNA of our church.  Last evening as I heard my pastor’s emphasizing these values to a “Newcomers” group, and I was impacted in a fresh way and wanted to share it with my readers.  This is the Lifepoint Point.

THE POINT

What’s “The point”?  Plain and simple, it’s Jesus.  Everything we do and everything we say should point people to Him.  These statements are all expressions of how we point to and honor Jesus at Lifepoint.

  • We keep it simple – We live in a complex world, so simple is refreshing.  At Lifepoint, we worship together, we walk together and we serve together.
  • We expect the unexpected – We expect marriages to be restored, addictions to be broken, and for God to do the unexplainable.  When no one else expects it to happen, we do.
  • We put rocks in the sink – We put rocks in the sinks because excellence & honor define us.  We will always give God and our guests our best.  [“Rocks in the sink” is symbolic of everything we do to make our guests and partners feel welcome and special.  We actually have volunteers that make sure the bathroom facilities are clean, have decorative rocks in each sink, special handsoap at the sinks, and mints available at the door.  This is just one area each week that our Dream Team volunteers go beyond what is expected to make Lifepoint feel like home the first time our guests arrive.] 
  • We value every “one” – We never lose the significance of “one.”  One more person in heaven.  One more life renewed.  One is always greater than none.
  • We are united under the visionary – Lifepoint is built on the vision that God has given Pastor Jeff.  We will aggresively defend our unity and his vision.
  • We give people gas – We will be pacesetters in our community and our world with generous living.  We believe generosity is not something God wants from us, but rather something he wants for us.  [Again, this heading is symbolic.  It began when we had a special day on which we as a church made free gasoline available to everyone in the community on a first come first serve basis.  The news media picked up on it and coverage ensued.  When our pastor was interviewed he said, “We want to known as a generous church.  We want to be known as the church that gives you gas.”  His inadvertant gaff stuck!  Always evokes laughs, but the concept is real and we are serious about it!]
  • We are unwavering – We will not cater to personal preference in our mission to reach this city.  We are more focused on those we are trying to reach than those we are trying to keep.
  • We act in ridiculous faith – In order to reach this city with the Gospel of Jesus, we can’t think small.  We must take bold steps, abandon the reasonable, embrace the ridiculous and watch God move.
  • We are the real deal – Lifepoint is full of real people with real struggles who are being radically changed by a real Savior.
  • We will not take this for granted – We will not overlook what God is doing here.  This is His church and we will remain grateful for His hand of favor.