Archive for December, 2006

31
Dec
06

Ten Questions

In today’s message I referred to Don Whitney’s blog, biblicalspirituality.com. As promised, I am providing in today’s blog the list of ten questions he believes you should ask yourself at the beginning of each year and also at your birthday. I provide them for you, hoping you will take time on this last day of 2006 to prepare for every day in 2007.

As I said in my message this morning, I am not big into New Year’s Resolutions. However, I am big on the critical evaluation that comes naturally as the result of entering a new year.

Take time today to wrestle with these questions:

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
24
Dec
06

Giving Grace with Being Gracious

Just when some thought Donald Trump had figured out the gift of grace, he proves them wrong. It appears Mr. Trump’s “second chance” opportunity with Miss USA Tara Conner was more for pumping his image than it was for promoting grace.

Where is the proof?

Surely by now you have heard of Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell exchanging verbal barbs over his act of grace. It started when Rosie O’Donnell said on her morning television show “The View”:

“Because his show ‘The Apprentice’ is starting again in January, he held a big press conference to see if he was going to allow Miss USA, such a prestigious title. It’s basically a model competition . . . They have one question in Miss USA, yeah and they’re like ‘I’d like to cure cancer and end world hunger – and then I’d like to go to Studio 54 and do some crack.'”

“There he is, hair looping, going everywhere; everyone deserves a second chance. He’s the moral authority? Left the first wife, had an affair, left the second wife, had an affair, had kids both times, but he’s the moral compass for twenty year olds in America. Donald, sit and spin, my friend.”

She also said she expected him to sue her but added “he’ll probably be bankrupt by that time so I won’t have to worry.”

To that Trump retorted:

“Rosie’s been a loser for a long time,” he told Access. “Her magazine failed, she got sued. She folded up like a tent.”

“Rosie is somebody out of control who really just doesn’t have it and she ought to be careful because I’ll send one of my friends to pick up her girlfriend and I think it would be very easy,” he said.

Just a few days ago many were giving Mr. Trump kudos for his act of grace toward Miss USA. You will recall I asked some serious questions about his motive and intent. Today, I think some of those questions have been answered.

Once again, the Donald has prompted me to ask some questions and provide some thoughts about grace.

Here is a good question: can someone extend true grace to another human being with being gracious? That is what Mr. Trump has pulled off. He extended grace to Tara Conner, yet did so without being gracious. For if he was truly gracious, he would have withheld his comments about Rosie O’Donnell.

Here is another question worth asking: how can someone seem so merciful on Monday and yet turn so callous two days later? Were they actually being merciful or was their mercy a mere act?

If I were one of Mr. Trump’s advisers I would suggest he let Rosie O’Donnell’s words fall by the wayside. Rosie accomplished much when Trump decided to respond with his own spiteful comments. By lashing back, Trump gave credence to Rosie’s thoughts. If he had remained silent, no one would care what she said by this weekend. Often times the best response to a vengeful word is to respond with silence.

While watching this scenario unfold over the last few days, I started comparing Mr. Trump’s and Miss O’Donnell’s tirade to the words Jesus gave us in Matthew 5:1-12. In case you have not heard, if the Lord is willing I want to preach the Sermon on the Mount for much of 2007. The message series begins January 21 as we examine each of the eight beatitudes.

Read what Jesus said as you think about Donald and Rosie’s outburst:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter
all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:1-12

Can you imagine the kind of stir Trump would have created if he had remained focused on his motives from Monday? Better yet, what if he responded with one of the Beattitudes instead of with vengeance? There would be no way possible to measure the response according to hype and ratings. Instead, it appears Donald extended grace without being gracious. Again, I ask, is that possible? Is it possible to give grace to others without being a gracious person? Perhaps it is in Donald Trump’s empire, but I know it is not true in the kingdom of God.

20
Dec
06

Second Chances

So, what did you think of Donald Trump giving Miss USA Tara Conner a second chance amid stories of her bar hopping and underage drinking? (By the way, she turned 21 on Monday!)

I would be curious to read your thoughts. I have a few questions followed by some thoughts.

Did you hear Trump’s rationale for the decision? Trump said of Miss USA, “Tara is a good person. Tara has tried hard. Tara is going to be given a second chance.” Okay, what is it in Trump’s mind that makes Tara Conner a good person? Is it that she showed genuine remorse for her behavior? What would distinguish Tara as a bad person? Better yet, why was she given a second chance?

Here is another question worth asking: is it a bit duplicitous for Donald Trump to be making a moral judgment about someone else’s behavior?

Here is an equally painful question: what motivated Trump to make this decision? Was it an attempt to generate positive publicity? If this were not a public issue, but a private one, would he had said, “You’re fired!”?

Did you hear Miss Conner’s response to Trump’s second chance opportunity? Fighting back tears, she said, “In no way did I think it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me.” Then she commented directly to Trump, “You’ll never know what this means to me, and I swear I will not let you down.”
Don’t you wish she followed James imperative to “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes” and your ‘no’ be ‘no’”?
Let’s take a minute to think about forgiveness and second chances.
First, the Bible defines forgiveness as a pardon. To pardon is to choose not to punish. Donald Trump, as the owner of the Miss USA Pageant chose not to punish Miss Connor for her behavior. I think that is noble. However, I think we should also realize that every sin has its consequence. And even though we may be pardoned for our sins, we will never escape the consequence of our sin.
One of the key ingredients associated with true remorse is to accept the consequence. Otherwise, it appears you are just trying to get out of paying your wrong.
I believe a strong indicator of true remorse and repentance includes SAYING you intend to do differently in the future, and also ACTING differently about that behavior.
Thus, the true test of Miss USA’s remorse is whether or not she actually means it and shows it by her actions. And the validity of Mr. Trump’s pardon will be seen in whether or not he holds this act over her head.
Finally, and most importantly, aren’t you thankful the Lord Jesus Christ gives us second chances? And let me add third chances, fourth chances, fifth chances, and sixth chances and…I think you get the picture. If it were not for grace of Jesus Christ, none of us would have a shot at a first chance, much less a second chance; not Trump, not Miss USA nor you or me.
18
Dec
06

A Christmas Prayer

What can I say about last night? It was a truly worshipful experience. If you were part of the standing-room-only crowd, you know what I am talking about. Steve Parr and I are already thinking about offering a matinee next year to accommodate the crowd.

I am so proud of Bryan Haskins, our children’s choir, adult choir, orchestra and media team. I commend everyone for making the evening a time of true worship.

Just think, last August CrossPoint officially formed its first ever choir. And last night that choir communicated the birth account of Christ through a powerful demonstration of worship.

I know I am prejudiced when I say this, but I think I would rather hear our choir sing than any other choir. When Bryan and his choir lead in worship I am always conscious of the presence of God.

Wow, we should be thankful. Again, last night was tremendous.

16
Dec
06

This Weekend and Next

The next two weekends are big weekends of celebration for CrossPoint. This Sunday, Bryan Haskins, along with our orchestra and choir will be presenting “A Christmas Prayer” at 6:00 PM. I walked through the worship center last Wednesday night and the rehearsal sounded awesome. The choir ministers to CrossPoint once a month, and this Sunday night promises to be their best and biggest ministry opportunity yet. I hope you have invited a friend to worship with us. You will be glad you did.

The next Sunday is Christmas Eve. We have decided to offer two Christmas Eve Celebrations in order to compensate for the overflow crowd. The first worship is at 9:30 AM, followed by the second worship at 10:45 AM. A very special guest has been invited to sing for us that morning. Some of you know this guest, many of you do not. After you hear them sing, you will be glad you know who they are. Even though they live in another state, I consider the guest and their entire family CrossPointers at heart.

After that, the next two weekends slow down a bit for CrossPoint, and rightly so. The next big celebration on the horizon will be Sunday, January 14, 2007, when we celebrate our second birthday as a church.

It’s fun being a part of a choice church like CrossPoint. Even when we slow things down, it is still exciting!
14
Dec
06

They Get It!

My baby girl, Kelsey, is in the ninth grade this year. School for Kelsey is more of a social experiment than a learning exercise. I am not saying she is a bad student. Kelsey does well in school, and works hard for her good grades. What I am saying, however, is that school for Kelsey is a place to mix and mingle. She is my social child. Kelsey loves people. (I wonder who she gets that trait from.)

The other night during supper Kelsey related a story from school that motivated me mightily. She said her English teacher wrote three words on the chalkboard—omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Then the teacher asked if anyone knew what those words meant.
Kelsey confided that she knew their meaning, but was embarrassed to raise her hand. The teacher paused, and then asked again if anyone could provide a definition. Kelsey finally raised her hand after no one else responded and said, “Those are three words used to describe God, meaning He is everywhere, He can do anything and He knows everything.”

I am positive our neighbors thought we were cheering for a football game when her mother, brother and I erupted with applause and cheers. Taylor gave Kelsey a big “high five”. I responded with “You go girl!” Her mother called her our “trophy child!”

Wow, my baby girl gets it! She does more than experience God in worship; she actually knows who He is.

Many other CrossPoint students get it as well.
For example, the other night I was leaving a high school basketball game when one of our students informed me that he had not sworn all week. He said, “I either say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I have not said, ‘I swear’ all week.” I hugged his neck and then gently informed him I would continue praying for him, especially since it was only Monday.

One more example of our kids getting it, and I am done.

I spoke with another CrossPoint student this week. He wanted me to know why I had not seen him recently in worship on Sunday mornings. He said, “My dad has moved to the other side of town. And I feel like I need to go worship with him until he finds a church he likes. I still come here every Wednesday night. As soon as he finds a church home, I will be back at CrossPoint on Sunday mornings. I feel like if I go with him each Sunday I can help him get involved somewhere soon.”

CrossPoint’s student ministry and her parents must be doing something right. We’ve got too many kids who get it. They have learned who God is and what He expects from them.

Do you get it?

12
Dec
06

Only A God Like You

Wow, as of Sunday afternoon our World Missions Offering reached $65,553.68. I am most positive that amount will approach $66,000 by the day’s end. Who knows what the total will be by the end of the week, or by the end of the year. This I know for certain: our goal was $45,000, while our Father’s goal was much higher.

While reflecting on such a record-shattering accomplishment, the Lord put Tommy Walker’s song “Only A God Like You” in my heart. I sang it several times Sunday afternoon as a testimony to what God did Sunday morning.

“Only A God Like You”

For the praises of man
I will never ever stand
For the kingdoms of this world
I’ll never give my heart away
Oh shout my praise
My allegiance and devotion
My heart’s desire and all emotion
Go to serve the Man
Who died upon that tree
Only a God like You
Could be worthy of my praise
And all my hope and faith
To only a King of all kings
Do I bow my knee and sing
Give my everything
Only a God like You
Could be worthy of my praise
And all my hope and faith
To only a King of all kings
Do I bow my knee and sing
Give my everything
To only my Maker my Father my Savior
Redeemer Restorer Rebuilder Rewarder
To only a God like You
Do I give my praise.

Only the God Who left His throne above
He came to live with us
Came to be one of us
Who stopped to heal that blind man
Took the time to save that one last lamb
To only the King Who wore that crown of thorns
So I could wear the crown of life
And to only the One Who conquered sin and death
So we could be set free
So we could stand here and sing
Only a God like You
Only a God like You
Only a God like You
To only my Maker my Father my Savior
Redeemer Restorer Rebuilder Rewarder
To only a God like You
Do I give my praise
I give my praise.