Repetition (part two): 7 Biblical Truths That Need to Be Repeated

1. Jesus Christ is the only Savior.

Pastor and leaders, keep telling the church — over and over again because the lie of “there are many roads to heaven” is creeping into the Western Church.

Parents and guardians, keep telling your kids that Jesus is the only way to heaven.  They spend most of their time away from you in a world that teaches them the opposite.

Christians, keep telling the world Jesus Christ is Lord.  He’s their only hope of salvation.

Always stay focused on The Lord Jesus with people.  People aren’t offended by the word “God” but use the name of Jesus Christ and many are.  Why? It’s because there are many gods, but only one true and live God!

2. The church is an essential part of the Lord’s plan, for all followers of Jesus.

I am referring to your local congregation. The church of Jesus Christ is more than our local assembly, I know.  However, it is impossible for world-wide church or universal church to carry out God’s will without strong local churches.  In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells His followers to go and make disciples.  This includes baptisms and teaching them to obey God’s word.  The most effective place of discipleship is a local church.

Many people claim to be able to live for Christ better without the church but I’ve never known it to be true.  Left alone, nature always moves towards the wilderness.  To produce much fruit a tree needs to be pruned, watered, fertilized etc.  The local church is the means Jesus created to disciple us.

NO ONE who followed Christ in the New Testament church stayed on their own.  They were “added daily” to the local church (Acts 2).  When you read the New Testament 90% of verses that talk about the church refer to a local gathering.  All the Epistles of Paul were written to a local assembly.  The word church itself means “those called out to assemble.”  There is a move today to make it unimportant to be part of a local church and the result is carnal, weak, immature believers who have not been properly discipled.

3. The Bible is the inspired word of God.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” David said the godly man’s “delight is in the Word of God and in that Word (law) doth he meditate day and night.”

We must combat the lies that the Bible is a collection of good stories or that the things in the Bible didn’t really happen but as simply allegories.  When it says Jonah was swallowed by a big fish or Peter walked on water, those things really happened to real people!

People have tried for years to disprove scripture, even the history of the Old Testament, to disprove that is was divinely written.  No one ever has disproved on verse.  A great book on this subject is Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell.  It’s not easy reading but the facts are great. Josh set out to disprove the Bible and became a preacher after realizing he couldn’t!

As far as the Bible itself.  Repeat verses to yourself and your kids.  Memorize passages. Repetition is a great teacher. In fact, it may be the best teacher on the planet.  If the Bible is the Word of God then let’s do our best to learn it.

I know you’re thinking “WHAT?  There are only 3 truths here!”  Well, it was getting long so the rest will come next blog.  Follow me so you’ll be notified!

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Laughter is NOT Optional

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

We’ve been laughing a little more lately. Why? Because our new Children’s Pastor (J Travis Montoya) has worked as a stand up comedian and he makes us laugh. Had a hard day? You know what helps? Laughing about it.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. – Proverbs 17:22

My wife Joanne and I have had our share of people betraying us, lying to us, lying about us, fighting against us as leaders, or just plain hating on us, in the last twenty years. How do you through it? We get through it by laughing with friends and kids. Laughing refreshes us. Have you ever noticed that people that never laugh have trouble forgiving others? They become so focused on the problem, that life happens around them without them noticing.

One time someone came up to me and said that four years before they had left our church over some offense. To their credit, they felt bad about it and wanted to make it right. They stated, “I know this has been a thing between us for years.” The sad fact, I didn’t know who they were or what they were talking about. Have you wasted precious time stewing over someone who isn’t thinking about you? Move on.

Allow your spirit to be lifted by laughter. It will improve your responses to people, it will make your faith walk sweeter, and it will change your church. There are good, clean comedians, funny sitcoms and movies…laugh, forget, heal.

King David knew how to have fun.

But as the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David skipping about and laughing with joy, she was filled with contempt for him. – 1 Chronicles 15:29

Like Michal, a lot of people can’t even enjoy the presence of God because they are too worried about what others think. (More on that in a minute.)

I smile as I read this story of David because I recently tried to skip. You heard me right. We watched an episode of a little known TV show called the Middle starring Patricia Heaton (Deborah from Everybody Loves Raymond) and Neil Flynn (Janitor from Scrubs). It’s kind of a Malcolm in the Middle rip off but I still like it. But I’m on a tangent…back to topic.

In an episode of the Middle, the mom has a thought “Why do we ever stop skipping?” She muses that we were all happier as children and it’s because we skipped. She decides to skip everyday and she, in fact, felt happier. The dad in the show would not skip. “Too girly.” My children commented that I would not skip either but mom would. I was insulted! “I’m a fun guy.” I objected. They didn’t believe me so I got up to skip.

I could not skip.

That’s right. I don’t mean I wasn’t willing or was too embarrassed to. I was physically unable to. It was pathetic. I tried over and over but it was more like a gallop. All my daughters howled and shrieked with uncontrolled laughter. Joanne (my wife) wept actual tears as she fell out of the chair laughing. (I don’t believe I have ever actually seen someone ROFL before.) It was an unbelievable melee for twenty minutes.

My name is Lon Dean. I possess a high IQ and advanced degrees. I won the Presidential Physical Fitness award in High School and played several varsity sports. I have spoken to thousands of people around the world, AND I AM SKIP CHALLENGED.

Instead of being embarrassed about this fact, it became our little “pick me up” in the Dean household. If Joanne had a hard day or the girls wanted a laugh with friends over…”Watch this. Skip for us Dad.” would be the request whispered through already growing giggles of anticipation. I skip, or gallop, whichever you wish to call it. It still gets big laughs months later and refreshes us all.

Some final thoughts:

When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”

David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” – 2 Samuel 6:20-22

When David came back from skipping and praising God, he wanted to bless his family but his own wife mocked him. If you’ve got a skipper, leaper, laugher in your house, encourage them. Don’t dampen their joy. I might just become your joy too.

If you are enjoying life and laughing don’t let haters get you down. Find other gigglers to skip with and U B U.

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A post-blog update: My 7 year old wants me to have the fun of skipping in my life. Even though she thinks, “It’s hysterical, whatever it is I’m doing.”…she is secretly giving me skipping lessons. As of the time of this blog I can skip short distances with her, if she holds my hand. No success on my own but I am hopeful.

Stress Reducing Tips

As I think about stress it occurs to me that most of my stress is caused by not responding properly to unpleasant situations.  I eat.  Some people need a drink or cigarette to calm down.  These coping strategies may temporarily make us feel better, but they cause more damage in the long run and therefore ADD to our stress longterm:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol (needing one glass to relax is still dependency)
  • Overeating or under eating
  • Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer (a screen’s a screen)
  • Withdrawing from church, friends, family, and activities
  • Using pills or drugs to relax
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Filling up every minute of the day with busyness to avoid facing problems
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, violence)

So what are proper responses?  Well teacher says you can get an A+ for these healthy steps to reduce stress:

Absolve – Forgive. It’s that simple. Let go of the hurts of the past and move on.

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15

Unforgiveness is like strapping the person to you back and carrying them with you forever, letting them hurt you again and again. Forgive someone is for YOU.  It puts you back in right standing with God.

Not forgiving yourself for a failure or sin is just as destructive.  God forgives you, don’t call unclean what god calls clean, you.

Adapt– Most stress can be reduced responding properly. Adapt your strategies in a hostile environment.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. – Proverbs 15:1

When one of my kids says, “I hit them because they made me mad.”  I respond that no one can make you mad…you choose to respond in anger.

Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

Adjust–  Make reasonable goals. Perfectionism is a major source of stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, by learning to accept “good enough.” I’m not talking about not doing your best and making excuses, I’m talking about not obsessing over every detail.

The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing. – Proverbs 10:28

Admire–  Choose to be an optimist.  That glass is half full! When feeling stressed, reflect on all the things you’re thankful for.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise His name. Psalm 100:4

Avoid– I’m not talking about procrastination. Putting off unavoidable stress such as studying or confronting a difficult person actually increases your stress level. I mean avoid unhealthy situations or relationships.  Example: “Every time I hang with my old friends I drink again.”  Then don’t hang out with them!

Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

I hope these simple five simple “A’s” help you have less stress in the New Year.

30 Days to Live – Day 24: Reality

Today the reality of 30 Days to Live hit us in a very personal way.  My wife (Pastor Joanne) found out that her mom (Fran) has terminal cancer.  As Joanne sat in the hospital room with her mom and other family members, the doctor told Fran to “get her affairs in order.”  Her response was, “So this is a death sentence.”  It is one thing to be writing about facing your final days on this earth it’s another when death actually is right in front of you with someone you care about.

While we are praying and asking for God to do a miracle, first responsibility is to make sure your loved one is ready for life after death.  Fran has believed in God and has been attended church regularly so there was no need to convince her of her need for God’s forgiveness.  Instead Joanne focused on forgiving others.

The truth is we are all under a death sentence.  Maybe not as brutal and short as the one my mother-in-law just received, but this life is short and we are not promised tomorrow.  We must all “get our affairs in order” to make sure we are ready to meet our Savior.  One place people usually overlook is forgiving those who have hurt you.

As we prepare for the next life we want our sins to be forgiven and if we want to be forgiven for our sins we must forgive others. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray He gave us an example that has become called The Lord’s Prayer.  In it Jesus prays this:

Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. – Matthew 6:12

As Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray effectively He knew that our prayers are useless if we refuse to forgive others.

Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37

Why is this such a big deal to God?  Because HE is the Righteous Judge.  If we decide to judge others we are in effect saying we want to sit on God’s throne and do His job.  He has never tolerated that, just ask an angel named Lucifer.

Prayer

Pray this 3 Step Forgiveness Process:

  1. I take back any authority I gave the devil in my life through unforgiveness, especially towards ______ for what they did to me.
  2. I choose to forgive this person for what they did to me.
  3. I ask you God to help me to forgive this person, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thoughts

  • Who has hurt me?
  • Have I chosen to forgiven them?

Action

  • Forgive all the people who have hurt you, now.

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Written May 2010: prayers for Fran and our family gratefully accepted.

Facing Forever

We brought my mother home from the hospital, home to face forever.  The doctors say that she will leave this earth soon, leave it forever.  Nothing more they can do they say.  I know my God is a healer but somehow I know that’s not part of His plan here.  As we mournfully, painfully, watch her breathing slow we begrudgingly acknowledge that she will soon be facing forever.  Was she ready?

I prayed a week ago, “Lord either heal her or wake her to give me a chance to talk with her about forever.”  I know my mom had asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior, to forgive her sins.  she had attended church for almost two years with me while she was well enough and we would pray, talk scripture and take communion together at home when she could no longer go to church.  I had only one concern really, unforgiveness.  Had she forgiven all sins against her?

The Lord gave me my petition and she awoke, clear minded and able to talk for over a day.  She spoke that she had forgiven all who had hurt her.  Then I had the honor of leading her to pray asking God to forgive her sins again.

Mom told me she love me and that she was ready to face forever, knowing she would spend it with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Now I’m ready too.

Table Manners

The family dinner is really a lost art.  People are too busy. Working late, running to soccer practice, after school activities, grabbing a burger on the run, to busy to sit at the table together as a family.

We’ve made a commitment to sit together as a family for dinner 4 nights a week. That might not seem like enough but when trying to plan the schedule of 6 people, it’s a good start.  We eat together more than we don’t.

Take a look at your dinner schedule for the last week.  How often was the whole family (that lives under the same roof) together for dinner?  If you’re not at home for meals together, your lives are out of balance.  It’s time to emphasize what is important.   Commit to the 4 out 7 goal.  You’ll be glad you did!

Restart

I was talking to someone the other day who was discouraged because they hadn’t kept a comittment they’d made.  Last year many of us at the House of Praise made a commitment to give the Lord the first 15 minutes of our day reading His word.  Well this well intentioned friend made it six months and then got distracted and stopped.

This year they were afraid to try again because they didn’t want to make a comittment they didn’t keep.  I understand that thought.  The Bible does teach us it is better not to vow than to vow and not keep it.  However…I believe it is better to read God’s word 6 days a week for 6 months than to never have tried!

“It’s time to restart.” I said. You know?  Sometimes our computers get bogged down and aren’t working right  (Well not mine it’s a Mac, but most of you know what I mean.) sometimes the best thing you can do is restart it.  We need to restart our walk with God sometimes.

“Is there something in your life you need to restart Pastor?” They asked.  I thought for a moment about a couple things.  1. Date nights with my wife had grown too few. 2. I need a vacation.  3.  I miss blogging.

So here we are.  I took m y wife out ALONE for dinner and a movie and I’m restarting the blog.  Those of you who make comments and follow me, please come back again.  I’m even going to try and learn twitter to make it easier.  God Bless ad let’s get restarted!

Anticipating Sunday

What is your routine on Saturdays?  Mine is normally to spend some family time and then look at my sermon again to try and commit to memory.  After that it’s creating the power point presentation and printing out the notes for to hand out Sunday.  In short, my thoughts Saturdays are about family and the Sunday service.

Saturday is marked by scripture as the Sabbath and we are told to keep it holy.  We sometimes forget this as we celebrate the Lord’s Day on Sundays to commemorate our savior’s rising from the dead.  I’m not here to argue about the best day for worship or even if the Sabbath is still Saturday.  What I am trying to say is that if we put some time into our family and to preparing ourselves for worship we will get more out of both.

If family time is simply “showing up” then are missing the point.  If we just come home, grab some food and turn on the TV we stop connecting as a family.  I’m not anti-TV, I’m simply talking about spending real time together.  “Tell me about your day.”  “What are your dreams?”

It’s the same way with our church family.  If we walk in after the service has started, rushing to get there, stressed about finding a seat, we miss the prep time that gets are heart ready to connect with God in a meaningful way.  If we rush right out after never speaking to a soul then miss the chance to make new friends and connect with old ones.

So today, if you’re reading this blog, take a few minutes to pray for the service, call up a friend and invite them to join you.  Lay out your clothes for tomorrow and find your bible.  Put your cars keys on top of your bible and put both near the door.  Set the alarm to a wake you with worship music with plenty of time to make preservice prayer.  See you there, prepared, calm and anticipating s a great day!!