May 24, 2006

What a wonderful world with you in my life!

Happy Birthday Michael!

I love you baby!

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world with Michael

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world with Michael

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces, of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, sayin' "how do you do?"
They're really sayin' "I love you"

I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more, than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself, what a wonderful world
With you!

May 22, 2006

The Pursuit of God: Removing the veil

If you have not read, "The Pursuit of God" by A.W. Tozer, please do. It's amazing. Here's an excerpt of the third chapter:

Self is the opaque veil that hides the Face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. As well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. We must prepare ourselves for an ordeal of suffering in some measure like that through which our Saviour passed when He suffered under Pontius Pilate. Let us remember: when we talk of the rending of the veil we are speaking in a figure, and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant; but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free. Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in hope ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified. But we must be careful to distinguish lazy `acceptance' from the real work of God. We must insist upon the work being done. We dare not rest content with a neat doctrine of self-crucifixion. That is to imitate Saul and spare the best of the sheep and the oxen. Insist that the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough, and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the living God. Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man. Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life. Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple. We would draw near in full assurance of faith. We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there. In Jesus' name, Amen.

May 14, 2006

"Loner" doesn't work in Christianity

I'm kind of a loner. I don't like going out and "fellowshipping" with others. I always say I want too, but sometimes the thought of having to converse and get all scared about meeting new people just makes me want to stay at home.

Am I the only one that feels this way? I doubt it. If you can relate to my confession, consider this godly advice I received from a very good friend. Thanks Brad!

"Loner" doesn't work in Christianity. Ever see a film of lions in Africa hunting? What they do is try to find the "outlyer", the one who is outside the herd. If they can find a wildebeast, for instance, all by itself, they have a sure meal. Why? The animals they hunt weren't designed to be alone, so when they are, they are weaker and vulnerable. Oh! How odd! God says the same thing about us. "It is not good for man to be alone."

Christians were designed to be "herd animals". We aren't called "the finger of Christ" - we are called "the Body of Christ". That's because we're designed to work as a group. That means that we receive the most when we are in a group. That also means that we are most able to exercise our gifts when we are in a group. All believers are called on to be ministers. "I don't like to hang around with other people" simply says, "I don't like the way you made me, God, and I am not interested in the best You have to offer." Now ... move, girlfriend!

May 4, 2006

Preach the Gospel to all Creation!

On Saturday, my husband and I have decided to go and witness at the zoo.

I am freaking out.

I am normaly a very shy, very quiet, very private person. I hate talking to people I don’t know. So how in the world am I going to be able to go up to someone and start telling them about our Savior?

The Gospel deserves more than I can give. It deserves someone who is bold and well versed, with a clear voice and a beautiful heart.

And that someone is definitely not me.

So I’m sitting here, wondering when exactly I will become that person?

Probably never. Or, at least not by Saturday!

So I’m left with one option: Trust God

Isaiah 51:12 "I, even I, [GOD] am the one who comforts you. So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear?

That is a good question God! Why am I afraid? “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” –Romans 8:31

Well, here’s the truth. I am still invested in this world. I still look for pleasures that this world brings. I want to be liked, I want to be noticed, I want to be enjoyed and I want to enjoy.

Man, the trouble is, We don't know who we are instead” – Jars of Clay

So who are we suppose to be? How can we be light in a world that is so dark? How can we overcome fear so God gets the glory?

The answer is simple. It’s something I’ve known all along: I have to die.

This death is not physical, although, it can sure feel that way. But, it’s a dying of self. It’s saying, “God, I give you everything I am. Take me, take all of me.” It’s saying, “Lord, I am scared, but I trust You.”

Jesus told us, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” –John 12:24

So in order to grow in Christ, we must die. We must kill the thoughts that make us believe we are still a part of this world. Thoughts that say, “Human acceptance will make me happy.”

And what comes from this death?

An abundence of life!

Life where suffering is sweet. Life that looks beyond this world, and see’s the promise of everlasting joy! Eyes that see Christ in every single person we meet! Ears that hear God’s voice whispering, “I love you.” And touch that conveys love...and a heart that gives hope.

How marvelous it is to die! To be one with Christ! To rejoice in His suffering! To no longer be in bondage to sin, but to be free to live!

Oh Lord, Your wonders never fail to amaze me! Give me strength to endure! Faith to obey! And a heart that rejoices when your truth is revealed!

Oh Lord, if it is your will, please send us hearts that will be receptive to the Good News. Help us plant the seed, so that You might make it grow.

And even if we meet those whose hearts are hardened, let us not be afraid.

Philippians 4:4
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!

May 2, 2006

In response to the Westboro Baptist Church protestors

Amazing. Absolutely Beautiful:

An Apology to the Families of Fallen Soldiers,
as well as to the People of Denver and the State of Colorado.

While it normally is not my practice to devote valuable time and energy responding to individuals and groups whose actions I do not consider worthy of acknowledgment, something took place in our area recently that demands a biblical, Christian response—and apology. In a humble effort to maintain my conviction, however, I will not grant the respect of mentioning names.

Our city and state was visited recently by a group of individuals claiming to be not only Christians, but also Baptists. Their stated agenda was to protest the funerals of fallen American soldiers, claiming that their deaths were the judgment of God on a nation that has condoned homosexuality and other sins.

Before commenting on this group, let me be very clear on two fronts. First, I in no way condone homosexuality or any other sinful action addressed in the Bible. Neither do I support the climate of our culture which grows increasingly tolerant of such actions. At the same time, I believe that God is passionately in love with all sinners and has addressed His displeasure with sin by giving up His own Son on the battlefield of the cross. Therefore, I am unapologetic in stating that every genuinely Christian church should be a safe haven for those seeking freedom from sin through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Our God passionately hates sin, but with equal passion He pursues sinners with His unfailing love, hope and freedom in Jesus Christ.
Second, I do not believe that it is beyond God’s character to levy judgment on America or any other nation that turns its back on Him. To identify the casualties of war, however, as the evidence of His displeasure with one particular sin is a connection that neither I nor any other honest Christian is capable of making. Furthermore, to insensitively celebrate the deaths of brave American soldiers as God’s judgment on our nation is the epitome of disgrace and hypocrisy before the families of those who sincerely gave their lives in an effort to bring freedom and justice to an oppressed people.

Any careful comparison with the biblical text, evangelical Christianity and historic Baptist belief reveals that this group can be categorized neither as authentically Christian nor Baptist. There is little, if anything, in their actions or attitudes that reflect the character and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ or the moral influence of our Baptist forefathers.

The critical spirit, slanderous accusations, abusive language and flippant mockery that have been expressed by this group reflect not only horrific disrespect, but a heart condition that is counter-Christian. Jesus clearly declared in Luke 6:43-45,

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Jesus’ brother also wrote in James 3:9-10,

With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

These Bible passages clearly suggest that the mean-spirited message and methodology speak for themselves regarding the true nature of these self-professed prophets.

So, to the families of fallen soldiers in our state, please accept my deepest apology for the actions and attitudes of these who unjustly operate under the banner of Christianity and Baptist belief. I beg you to know how proud I am of your husbands, wives, children and parents who have died on our behalf and on behalf of those who seek justice everywhere. I am truly sorry for the additional grief that has been heaped upon what is already yours by those whose hearts have been hardened by pride, arrogance and ungratefulness. Know that my prayers and the prayers of the people of Riverside Baptist Church are with you.

To those whose lives currently involve the struggle with or practice of homosexuality, I extend my heartfelt apology for the derogatory and inflammatory rhetoric with which you were and are referenced by these people who unjustifiably call themselves Christian and Baptist. While I embrace the biblical conviction about God’s displeasure with homosexuality, I in no way share their seeming hatred toward individuals who practice it. When it comes to its effects on a relationship with God, your wrong is no greater than mine, that group’s or anyone else’s. I want you to know that I, our staff and entire congregation embrace the opportunity to show you and all people the true love, forgiveness and freedom found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Finally, to all who live in Denver and the state of Colorado, let me sincerely apologize—with tears—for the blatant misrepresentation of Jesus Christ, true Christianity and Baptist ministry. While I extend this apology because of my conviction about corporate responsibility, I pray that you realize the gross disconnect between groups like this and others of us whose names and designations they have stolen. I am truly thankful to God that I have the privilege of serving a congregation that refuses to stoop to such depths, but instead seeks to speak the truth of God clothed in His love and compassion. Our congregation counts itself blessed to live and serve with you in this part of our country.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be yours.
Jim Shaddix, Senior Pastor
Riverside Baptist Church
Denver, CO