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Judge Dredd

February 2, 2013 — Leave a comment

Judge Dredd

There has been a huge increase in the last few years of super hero movies, and many have been blockbuster hits. Add to that another genre, spy movies, and a trend emerges – people want to believe that there are those in the world who can overcome anything, defy all the odds, save the day.

Some of the biggest hits have been Batman, Spiderman and James Bond. But no hero movie may ever eclipse the popularity of Marvel’s Avengers. This movie alone brought in over 1.5 billion dollars in box office receipts worldwide. Only a handful of movies can claim to have exceeded that amount.

What is the fascination with heroes? Why do you think they are so popular? Imagine for a moment that you had a say in the next super hero movie –what would it be about? Who would be the star? What powers would the hero have? Who would be the villain?

Often when we look at the bible, we see stories of individuals who have accomplished great things – heroes! Nobody in the bible could turn invisible at will, and there were no armored flying suits, no aliens from another planet who wielded a hammer of justice. But they did have a Hulk!

Have you heard the story of Samson from the book of Judges? Samson had great strength, and it seemed that the more angry he became, the more damage he could do. He killed a lion with his bare hands, destroyed an army with a donkey’s jawbone, and pushed an entire pagan temple to the ground.

Also in the book of Judges is the story of the hero Gideon. The Israelites were under judgment because they had sinned against God. Their crops were being destroyed, their animals slaughtered by a persistent enemy from Midian. An angel appeared one day to Gideon, and he addressed Gideon as “Mighty Warrior.” Gideon looked around to see who the angel was talking to. As far as Gideon knew, he was pretty average – he said, “my family is the weakest, and I’m the youngest in the family.”

Gideon was told by the angel that he would deliver Israel from the Midianites. How could Gideon, just an average person, do such a great thing? He doubted that he was the right person.

In Judges 6:17 he said to the angel of the Lord “If you’re talking to me, give me a sign.” In fact, Gideon was so fearful of the things God asked him to do, he asked for 3 signs, and God did what Gideon asked each time.

So, Gideon raised and army and prepared to go to war. God saw the assembled army and asked Gideon to send the majority of them home. In the end, he went to war with 300 men against the nation of Midian, and by the power of God alone, the entire army was defeated.

Has God ever led you to do something that was beyond your power? What did He ask of you? How were you able to do what He asked? Do you think “average” people are capable of doing incredible things? Give some examples of “average Joes” who made a big impact on history.

Low Hanging Fruit

January 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

peach tree

When I was a kid, I was like Forrest Gump – if I was going anywhere, I was RUNNING! Where I lived, the land was divided into one mile square sections, and I would run around the section my house was on almost every day. I didn’t have a good reason, I wasn’t in track, I just liked to run.

One day, in the summer, it was really hot but I ran anyway, and when I was still about a mile from my house, I started to feel pretty bad. I didn’t have any water, there weren’t any other houses around. If there’d have been a pond I would have jumped in it. Then I remembered Spencer’s Peach Orchard. It was just right up over the next hill!

Now, I wasn’t into stealing fruit, but I figured that anything that was in reach was fair game. There were branches hanging right over the fence, and the fruit was almost eye level, so I took a few peaches, sat in the shade, and before long I felt refreshed and was able to make my way home.

One of my favorite verses, one that made me think of this story, is Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What I was thinking, as I was running, was “I sure wish I had some cold water right now!” Peaches, ripe peaches, right off the tree were so much better! The peaches took away my thirst, filled me up, gave me energy, and I was able to get home after eating them.

God is able to do so much more for us! The bible says “take delight in the Lord.” It’s like low hanging fruit – it’s no effort at all, just reach out and take it! It’s yours – there’s no reason to let it just sit there – take it!

Once you do, the door is wide open for the blessings of God to fall upon you – if you take what He offers, He will give you the desires of your heart!

How many of us walk through life, from activity to activity, relationship to relationship, experience to experience – and maybe all these things are even good things – but we still feel empty at the end of the day. This is not what God wants for you – He wants to give you the desires of your heart, but first you have to reach out and take something that He is offering you. He is offering you the chance to be delighted with your life!

Trust Him to do this, trust Him to be your delight in life, and then expect that he will give you your heart’s desire! There’s nothing greater in this life than a relationship with the Lord – He will fill you, He’ll quench your thirst, He’ll renew your strength. All you have to do is reach out and take it!

Holier Than Who?

June 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

I was never really a bad kid. Just saying that, though, negates the entire statement I think. I have generally been a “I’ve done what I’ve done” kinda guy – I do what ever it is I’m going to do and I’m happy with whatever the outcome is, good or bad. I’ve changed recently (for the better – ask my wife or my boss!), but the majority of my life was spent exerting my own will. And again, the outcome was either spectacular brilliance, or utter failure.

When I’d have one of my “spells” there were many people on hand to let me know just how bad it really was. I started calling those people “Holy Spirit” since they were trying to make me feel convicted for messing up, but they were also there to knock me off my horse when I did something really good and started getting a big head or bragging.

A long time ago, I was a youth minister in a small church in my college town. It was a wonderful experience – and the ministry grew beyond the means of the church to support it. Other youth guys from bigger churches were asking me all the time what I was doing, and I was even interviewed once by a mega church guy.  Maybe it was for a project or something. Probably. But either way, I was thinking, “Wow look at me! I’m the bomb!”

I came to the conclusion it was all about me, and forgot all about Jesus. I still preached, but it was showboating. I forgot where my source was, and (in case you didn’t see this coming) I lost everything. And when I say everything, I spent one Christmas in a broken down 1971 Buick GS behind a gas-n-sip in the middle of Nowhere, OK. I literally lost everything – ministry, home, vehicle, family.

Can I just say one thing? It was worth it. It was worth doing it my way, on a small scale, and losing what is now comparatively just a little, because now I know. I know it’s not about me one little bit, and when I am serving on church staff again, I will not be that guy. I will never again forget who it was that saved me and called me, I know who I owe everything to, I know who empowers me to fulfill the calling. HINT: It ain’t me.

There’s someone in the bible who did it right the first time, bless his heart. The Apostle Paul – so many great accomplishments, so many reasons to boast, and he did boast, but never in himself or anything he did.

Still, Paul probably had more reason to boast in his accomplishments than any other person. It was his efforts and his willingness to follow God’s plan for him that took the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Even before that, though, Paul had every reason to be proud of who he was. He was the model Jew, and the model Roman citizen. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, which was the tribe of the first king of Israel, with whom he also shared the name “Saul.”

The thing Paul would have been the most proud of, though, was that he was a Pharisee. The Pharisees prided themselves on the way they obeyed the Law of God. Nobody was as close to God as the Pharisees, or so they thought.

This is the life Paul had chosen for himself, before Jesus found him on the road one day and ruined everything. And this is the life we often choose for ourselves. We get so wrapped up in our accomplishments and our own holiness that we forget who called us. We forget that God is the source – the source of life, the source of everything. We rely on our own power, and we fail again and again and don’t understand why.

We should be like Paul! We should lay our desires aside and we should put no faith in our own accomplishments. Instead, we should boast in Christ and what he has done for us!

Read Philippians 3:1-6

Why do you think Paul says in verse 3 that we can have no confidence in our own efforts?

What reasons does Paul give for being able to have confidence in himself? Are these valid reasons? What is the reason for your confidence?

What motivates Paul to boast in Christ? What has Christ done for you that is worth boasting about?

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now?

 

Folsom Prison Blues

April 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

Johnny Cash is the *bomb* – I love that guy.  I’ve been listening to his music since I could, well, listen.  There’s something about it – soulful, haunting, sometimes even angry.  I can always find a Johnny Cash song for whatever I’m going through in life.  I can identify with Folsom Prison Blues right now.  Nope – not incarcerated at this time, but I feel trapped.  Have you ever felt that way?  Trapped by circumstances, by life, by a job or a relationship?  Ever felt that things will never change, and there’s no way out?

Out of all the people in the bible, if you feel this way, maybe you can identify with Paul.  He actually did spent some time in the pokey, and he didn’t even do anything wrong.  Maybe that’s why I can identify.  Everything is good in life, I have no reason to complain, and yet here I am, trapped.

Philippians 1:12-19 tells a little bit about Paul’s attitude while he was cooling his heals. Can you imagine being joyful while being imprisoned for something you didn’t do?  Can you imagine suffering for something that you did that was the right thing?

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