Friday, November 30, 2012

Lets Change the Words for TV

I was watching a movie on ABC Family and noticed something that appears to happen on a frequent basis. The actor says something and his lips express something different. It is obvious that a voice-over was edited into the movie as to allow a more "family-friendly" version to be shown on TV.

The movie I was watching was actually really good - even with the profanity edited out. This should tell anyone watching that the profanity does not make the movie and not having it in the movie does not break it either. So why do movie houses feel that it is necessary to add that "shock factor" into the film?

I think the reason is exactly what the phrase describes it as "shock-factor". Do screen writers believe that their scripts are not quality enough without adding that component? Do they feel as if the American culture is so conditioned and the film needs a little shock to keep the interest?

In either case, it is a sad state of our culture if we are so conditioned that we need a punch to make entertainment more interesting. What has happened to decency? What has happened to films that inspire? What has happened to the expression of love by words and actions. Ephesians 4:29

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Working in Ministry; Failing in Spiritual Growth

Over the years I have made plenty of friends who are in ministry. During that time we spent evenings around a table or at a restaurant studying and learning from the precious truths in the Word of God. Sometimes I miss those opportunities because life and even ministry get in the way. I know numerous people who have worked in ministry whether as a Pastor or in a support position and experience the "run of the mill" walk of life. Some have even gone as far as stepping down from ministry. You look at them and ask "why is there no excitement?" What has changed since the time they first started in ministry? I believe the answer is simple. They have lost the ultimate priority in life which can be broken down in these simple areas.

There is no daily quiet time or devotion in their lives. The fast paced world we live in demands time and energy. The ministry is no different in this respect. I believe there is also more of a demand by the general public rather than from an organization or a supervisor. Ministry is about people and those people have needs outside of the 9 to 5 time period. With the crazy schedules and demands, people have a tendency to get to bed late and sleep late. The alarm clock rings and before you know it we are on the road going back into work. What happened to the time we were going to spend in the Word or in prayer? Does that sound familiar?

Sometimes ministry requires being outside of small group Bible studies and we do not find another avenue to replace that small group time. Too often ministers believe they are okay without attending some sort of Bible study. I don't care how much you know, or how much you think you know, you need to be challenged and fed in a small group setting.

When I was a Youth Pastor I spent time with other Youth Pastors in small group devotions. Every other week we would meet together just for Bible study. We would rotate the leader of the study and it became one of the most filling times for ministry. It was really special because we were all in the fight for the same ministry demographic and we were facing the same battles and questions from parents and teens.

I just finished a non-traditional time of Bible study with some other guys. It was not only challenging, but also refreshing. Are you getting the routine fill of God's Word and Bible Study? This question holds true even if you are not in ministry. If you are not allowing the Spirit to pour into your glass then you just may be failing in Spiritual growth! We need to pause for the important things.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Roadblocks in Life

Have you ever been driving and found yourself almost late for an appointment? As you are cruising down the road you feel that based on your speed and distance you will make it with no time to spare. Next you turn the corner and the road is blocked. A detour to a new route will make you late for your appointment. Now what are you going to do?

The past couple of weeks have been a life of detours. Plans have been roadblocked, deadlines have not been met, and things have not ran as expected. Each time this happens I am faced with a question. When the engineer doesn't show, what are we going to do now? When family plans have to be cancelled, what are we going to do now? When equipment is back-ordered or is not going to make it on time, what are we going to do now?

This question has two potential results. We can panic and add a tremendous amount of stress in our lives or we can accept the fact and follow the detour. I prefer the second option. In John chapter 11, Jesus is with His disciples when Lazarus dies. He returns with His disciples to Bethany where Mary and Martha live. It is here the reader sees the sisters' stress due to their expectation of Jesus' presence before Lazarus' death. Notice before this event what Jesus says to His disciples in verse 15. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe [John 11:15, NKJV] I am sure this was a shocking statement to the disciples, however, there is a point to learn. 

If this event did not happen, the disciples would not have had the opportunity to have their faith strengthened. Seeing the power of Christ in one's life when everything seems hopeless can impact you forever. The disciples had a moment to realize just that. The next time you find yourself in a detour with some unanswered questions, allow Christ to teach you some essential elements of faith. Maybe your detour is a time to learn.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Being an Encouragement

As a part of the mentoring process, we must be willing to be an encouragement to others.

Acts 9:27-28 says "But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord."

The name Barnabas was a nickname meaning “son of encouragement.” Did he live up to that name? I would say yes because he stood up in defense of the young man, John Mark. He also persuaded the Jerusalem disciples to receive Paul (9:27).

Ananias was the first to welcome him into the church fellowship (Acts 9:17), but the Christians in Jerusalem were still too frightened to associate with him because of his past reputation. Barnabas was responsible for introducing Saul into the core group of church leaders (Acts 9:27–28).

If you felt like you were all alone in a situation, would you not want someone to stand up for you? When someone does, it is a great encouragement. Can you be an encouragement to someone today?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Double Portion

Our last post concerned mentoring and used the passage in 2 Timothy chapter 2 to illustrate how we need to invest in the lives of others. In this post, look at the passion of Elijah that attracted Elisha to want more of what Elijah had.  

1 Kings 19:19-21 states "So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him."

If you look at the phrase "cast his cloak upon him" it essentially means to pass one's power or office upon another. Elisha knew what this meant. So he said I want to go home and tell my family and I will follow. Elijah obliged.

Now think about the following passage in 2 Kings 2:6-10.

Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so

What does a double portion of your spirit on me mean? A double portion is the blessing of the firstborn. But Elisha was not wanting a physical blessing but a spiritual blessing. One in which only God could give.

Does your life exemplify God in such a way others want you have.. Are you willing to invest your time and resources so others can obtain it?

Doug Johnson

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Mentor Example

2 Timothy 2:1-2 says "You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

This is part of a letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy. Timothy was very special to Paul. Paul probably led Timothy to the Lord during his first trip to Lystra and then taught him the foundational principles of the gospel.

Paul asked the younger man to accompany him on his second missionary journey, and from that point onward began to invest in him as his co-laborer in the gospel. These two were ministering together from Macedonia, to Achaia, to Ephesus, to Corinth, to Asia Minor, to Jerusalem, and even to Rome during Paul’s first imprisonment. After Paul’s release, Timothy again traveled with him, but eventually Paul had him stay at the Ephesian church to take care of some problems. Their close relationship is verified by the fact that Paul names him as co-sender of six of his letters.

Paul’s challenge to Timothy is a commission for all of us who will be in involved in mentoring relationships. Are we investing in the lives of others? Have we decided to pour into one individual over a long period of time? I hope so, because it is an example presented multiple times in Scripture.

Doug Johnson

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012

Today is election day! For kids it usually means a day out of school. For adults, it is a day of decision. Over the past four weeks I have made it a point to ask people in our community what they plan to do this election day. I know you are not supposed to talk about politics or religion, but I want everyone to break that rule because it is just silly. The surprising thing that I have realized is that everyone has an opinion but many will not cast their vote.

The simple rule of thumb is if you don't vote then don't complain. The complex rule is if you don't vote, you don't care about the direction of the country. As each year passes we see an increasing level of apathy. Outside of their own little world, people just don't care about others or their country. People don't know the sacrifices that were made so they can live in freedom. If we do not care enough to understand what is going on, then we obviously don't care if our freedoms are taken away.

In the last three decades we have seen two major shifts in direction. The first has been against freedom. Challenges have been placed against freedom of religion. Challenges have been placed against the 1st and 2nd Amendments. We have also seen a shift against life. We do not protect the unborn and it seems as if there is less concern placed on the elderly - all of this in the name of convenience. Actually, all of the challenges stem from the shift away from God and Christianity. This will take us from freedom to bondage.

I know there are issues of jobs and economy on the table. These are very important, however if we cannot see Biblical morality as an issue then we will never be able to satisfy the economy. They are tightly connected. Our current president has a worldview beyond national business and politics. It is what drives him to make the decisions he has made. We need to quit focusing on a verbal promise of a result and start looking to see if the candidates are like minded in the area of their worldview. This big ship called America needs to be turned back in the direction of its roots.

So today, talk about politics, and everyday talk about Christ!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hanging On With All We Have

Check out the guy in this picture!

He is working hard and he is hanging on. The bolts he is tightening are almost out of reach. He has to position himself in such a way that both hands can compliment each other for the job, while at the same time making sure that he does not fall from his position.

There are a few things that must take place for this to happen. First, his fear level must not be such that shuts him down from doing the job. Second, he must know how to complete the job, and third, he must have all if the tools to do the job.

This is a lot like sharing our faith. First, we must deal with our fears so they don't shut us down. The task can be daunting, but we have to be willing to take the first step. Next, we have to be prepared. When God radically changed our lives, He gave us a testimony. We need to be prepared to share it. Third, God's Word is the greatest tool that we have to introduce someone to Christ. Learn how to use it to make that connection.

Let's work toward the building of God's Kingdom.

Doug Johnson

Friday, November 2, 2012

We Have Lost Our Keys

Have you ever lost your keys? It happens to me about once a week. When I come into the house I usually put my keys down on the corner of the table. This process has become a habit unless I enter a different door then I can usually predict that my keys will be lost. At the time I do not think about it, however, the next morning I am turning the house upside down trying to find where I placed them.

Our Spiritual life is similar to the habits we apply to our daily lives. For example if we rise every morning and the first thing that we do is grab God's Word then we usually are satisfied with our routine. However, if we remove that element from our day, then we find ourselves turning everything upside down trying to locate that item that is going to get us to the next stop. We find ourselves stressed and unsure of the day.

Let me encourage you to start your day with the Lord. Develop that routine where you start it off with the creator of the Universe. You may realize that your problems are not so big after all. So, surrender your mind to the Lord each day, which essentially is an element of dedication.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ro 12:1–2.]

You will find that presenting yourself before the Lord every morning is the key to a better day.