Jesus Speaks to the American Church


Marvelous Marv Gerbig(The following is a GUEST BLOG POST written by our friend Marv Gerbig in Illinois, senior pastor at Wyoming 1st Church of the Nazarene in Wyoming, Illinois. Marv wrote this in response to my challenge posted on Facebook to identify “Seven Survival Tactics for Thriving Churches.” Thank you Marv for sharing…)

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ~Revelation 2:2, 11

This is what I commend you for:

You have excelled in education. You have studied and gone very deep into my Word. Your system of education in the Church is unparalleled in all of Church history. Anyone who desires to go deep into the Word of God can fill their desire in your churches. You educate believers.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you:

You have taken your educational system in the churches and made it a stumbling block for the sheep of my fold. Especially when it comes to Sunday School, you have made learning the Word of God difficult. You have taken too much authority from me, Jesus, as the Teacher. Have you forgotten what I said? “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah” (Matthew 23:8-10). Too many of my people feel as if they need the church to tell them what the scriptures mean. You have created a dependent church and have made people think they cannot learn from me directly.

This is what I commend you for:

Your leaders have been highly educated and somewhat trained.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you:

You have created a professional office of ministry that only those who are of a certain learning ability can achieve. While you may think this is a way to qualify those called into ministry, you have created a system that is not duplicable. If the leaders of the church were to be taken out, your churches would cease to exist. How do you read Acts? My church, from the beginning, was not dependent on professional leaders. If a leader was taken out, the church could not be stopped!!

This is what I commend you for:

You have taken into account how I created believers to understand my Word as they age. Your ministry by age group is truly amazing as far as it goes.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you:

Yet, you have segregated the generations from each other. No longer do my people congregate together as families, but rather on Sunday morning we look like the age-segregated secular world I am saving you from. Separating families from the time they enter into your churches until the time they leave is not my command. If my servant Paul were to see your world today, could he tell the difference between an elementary school and your church?

Creating age barriers is not my heart. Take a look at all the churches in America that are filled with seniors and no young people in the service. That is the fruit of generational segregation. Repent.

Your desire to build the church is admirable. You have many ways of attracting people and attempting to lead them to me. Yet, did I not say that I will build the church on your faith (Matthew 16)? Why have you tried to do my job? Did I not command you to “go and make disciples”? Why then do you try to get people “saved” when I told you to disciple them? I am Lord! I am the Savior! You are my friends and servants and your mission is to teach obedience in everything I have taught you. Yet, I see no obedience training anywhere in your churches. You have educated believers, but not many true disciples that understand how to be disciple makers.

My heart grieves as I see the American Church look more and more like the Gnostics. Prepare for the last days. Again, look at the Great Commission as I gave it to you in Matthew 28, and GO, MAKE DISCIPLES, for I am the Lord your God—and I expect obedience from you.

(Rod’s Comment: And so, dear brothers and sisters, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts! May we listen continually to the still small voice of our Lord. And may we glorify him in all we do!)

“Holy Libido” in a Nutshell


Holy Libido_3-D CoverAs you might imagine, the book title “Holy Libido” raises eyebrows. In a nutshell, here’s what the title means:

“Holy” can mean to be whole and complete, living life in submission and obedience to the design of God; living life with an intimate connection with our Creator, made possible through the righteousness of Jesus. I believe we can think of being holy as becoming the masterpiece we were created to be. (Granted, the word “holy” is so much more; this is my “nutshell” version.)

“Libido” is an intense craving or desire, a longing after, straining for fulfilment. Although the word “libido” is typically used to express sexual desire, it may be used to express our longing – or craving – for anything.

What if we were more passionate about an intimate relationship with God than we are about our “natural” cravings…cravings that have no eternal value? What if we longed for completion in God!

Holy Libido ignites something within us that is unstoppable, incomprehensible, irrefutable. It is adventurous life with God…empowered by the unrestrained flow of his  Spirit to accomplish the work we were designed to do…for his glory!

So, what do you think? What does the title mean to you? Looking forward to your comments!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Ephesians 2.10

http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Libido-Craving-Passionate-Life/dp/1414124449/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371563001&sr=8-1&keywords=holy+libido

Was Adam a Wimp…in the Beginning?


Adam (3)When did Adam become a wimp-of-a-man like us, blaming his wife for his foolish mistakes? Did God create him to be a milk toast kind of guy…a man who was too cowardly to take responsibility for his disobedience? Not likely. God created Adam in his own image.

I picture the newly created Adam as a confident man. It seems to me the moment his lungs were filled with the breath of God, and his eyelids opened, revealing the inexpressible beauty of his surroundings, Adam’s connection with his Creator would have instilled a deep sense of confidence. He had no competition, he had no hero image to live up to, and he had no shoes to fill. It seems that his primary inclination would have been to explore the wonderment of his surroundings—fearlessly. He would have been inclined to walk confidently with God in the stunning beauty of the garden.

Even so, Adam disobeyed God. Intentionally. He betrayed the One who breathed life into his body; the One who had instilled within him the almighty Spirit. Adam was not tricked or deceived; his choice was deliberate. We know we are inclined to disobey God, but we attribute our inclination to our “fallen nature.” Adam did not have a fallen nature. His nature—in the beginning—was pure and virtuous. So what could he possibly have been thinking when he took the bite of the forbidden fruit?

Something changed in an epic way when Adam took the bite. Perhaps at that very moment Adam became aware of his plight. He realized how ill-equipped he was to take responsibility for his rebellious choice, once he stepped out of the intimate fellowship he had enjoyed with his Creator friend. At that moment, Adam became a wimp like us. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say we have become wimps like him, since he was the first.

What if there was a way to regain the masculine strength Adam had in the beginning?

Actually, I believe there is a way to regain the sense of confident manhood we are intended to possess. But it doesn’t happen the way we think it should happen. It is not the result of our effort, or by pretending to be better than we are. It happens when we surrender our weaknesses to God. Men, it is in the admission of our weakness that we connect with God’s strength. God’s gracious strength flows into our lives through the humility of our spirit.

“God said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” ~2 Corinthians 12.9

…and yet have BELIEVED!


Empty tombWhile Rose and I watched the crucifixion of Jesus during the final episode of the Bible, I felt ashamed for the times I have not been faithful to God’s call. I regretted the times I avoided the “discomfort” of bearing witness to the work of God in my life.

Watching as our Lord was beaten mercilessly—as an innocent man—was almost too much to bear. There were times when I wanted to look away. But I was reminded that since he was willing to be beaten to death as the payment for my sin, how could I look away! How can I ever be a faithful witness to his grace if I cannot even bear to watch as he took my place?

After the beating, and the gruesome death, in three days the morning came. And the resurrection! I thought my heart would burst as I shared in the elation of Mary and the others when they discovered that the tomb was empty. All of my shame melted away as I witnessed Jesus’ kindness toward his disciples, even Peter. Their past failures and disbelief no longer mattered. Jesus died to release them, and us, from the penalty of sin. And he died to release us from the guilt and shame of our past foolishness.

I imagined what it would have been like to have been visited by Jesus after his resurrection from the dead. The look in his eyes supercharged my desire to “risk” being faithful to him, especially when things get a little uncomfortable. One day we will look into his eyes—and he will look into ours—as we give an account of the opportunities, and the gifts, he gave us to serve him.

Jesus commended his disciples for believing in him. And then he said something that reignited my faith: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~John 20.29

Rose and I looked at each other with a renewed awareness: That’s us! We, and all those who believe because of the witness of the disciples who were there to see with their eyes our risen Lord, are those who have not seen. Nevertheless, he has given us eyes of the heart to believe. Jesus tells us we are blessed for believing.

May we each experience a surge of confidence as we go about our day-to-day activities. Our Lord suffered the death that was meant for us, so that we can have everlasting life. How can we do less than bear witness to his amazing grace in our lives!

Runnin’ Naked…and Lovin’ It!


Running Silhouette“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” ~Hebrews 4.12-13

So here’s the question: Knowing the Bible “exposes” our innermost thoughts and desires, do we feel comforted…or condemned? Do we think of the revealing Word of God as a good and beneficial thing, or as a frightening thing?

It seems to me that the answer depends on our level of trust in the goodness of God. The more we trust him, the more safe we feel in our “nakedness” before him. Otherwise, we feel violated by God’s “intrusion” into our secret thoughts and desires.

I’m beginning to welcome the search light of God in my life. Knowing that he is for me and not against me makes all the difference. Although in the past I typically imagined God exposing the “bad” things lurking deep within my soul, it has occurred to me there are a few good things within me that God is exposing. For instance, one of the things he is exposing is my deep and enduring desire to be the man he designed me to be, and to be a husband and father and grandpa that will honor him.

He is exposing my willingness to learn to trust him more fully.  He is revealing my confidence that he is the One who will complete the work he has begun within me. Today, my greatest challenge is to live in humble submission to the things he reveals to me…as I live in his Word.

Sometimes when we’re reading the Bible, we simply quit reading too soon. Immediately after we read about God using his Word as a sword to slice and dice our innermost thoughts and desires, we read this:

“This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” ~ Hebrews 4.15-16

May we invite—and welcome—God’s loving revelation that brings healing into our lives and relationships, and peace that boggles our minds.

Flowing with the Tide of Truth


Water TideWe are often reminded that the current of popular opinion about what is important in life flows against the tide of truth. The following is a great illustration.

I will live life according to these beliefs

God does not exist

It is foolish to think

That there is an all-knowing God with a cosmic plan

That an all-knowing God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world

Is a comforting thought however

It

Is only wishful thinking

People can do what they wish without eternal consequences

The idea that

I’m deserving of hell

Because of sin

Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power

“The more you have the happier you will be”

Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose

In a world with no God

There is freedom to be who we want to be

But with God

Life is an endless cycle of guilt and shame

Without God

Everything is fine

It is ridiculous to think

I am lost and in need of saving

Now, lest your heart be swamped in despair, read it again, this time from bottom to top, beginning with, “I am lost and in need of saving…”

by Deo Volente Media

If You Love Her…Put Her in Her Place!


Numero DosWhile I’m not a fan of all the hoopla surrounding the “Love Holiday”…Valentine’s Day, it is a great opportunity for us guys to give some special thought to ways we can express our undying devotion to our chosen bride. Some guys will be inclined to spend a few bucks on a box of chocolate and some perishable flowers, and a card written by a professional writer. A few guys will show off (excuse my jealousy) by spending some big bucks for a piece of jewelry, or maybe a Lexus or a cruise to an exotic island in the South Pacific.

And the ladies will “Oooo” and “Ahhh,” and fling their arms around our neck in giddy gratitude.

It would be rare indeed to meet a woman who does not enjoy things that glitter and sparkle, and things that make her feel like the beautiful princess she is. She is refreshed in her spirit by the heartfelt message proclaimed by our beautifully wrapped gifts, “You are my treasure. I cherish you.” It makes her feel adored, and a woman likes to feel adored, because that’s what she is designed to be…adored.

Yet hidden away in the heart of every woman is a longing for something more…something more enduring than things that glitter and gleam. She longs for something that will withstand the trials of day-to-day life, and pass the test of time. At the core of her being, she needs to know her husband is equipped to lead with strong hands and a devoted heart. She wants to know that his vision for her—and their family—is greater than his own perspective. She wants to know she is safe in his arms, and safe in his heart.

Men, there’s only one way we can accomplish such a grand expectation: Make her Number Two (or in my case Numero Dos) in your life!

In Holy Libido, I mention a revelation Rose made to me during our whirlwind dating experience. She told me about my “place” in her life. Here’s the excerpt: “Before we were married, in the spirit of full disclosure she (Rose) told me I would have to accept second place in her life because the first place was already taken. Her ‘first husband’ is her Papa God.”

I was a little perplexed at first, and then it occurred to me, “How awesome to be second in line to the Creator of the universe—at least in Rose’s world!” Who would be silly enough to want to step in line in front of God in our mate’s life!

Rose’s simple yet direct remark started the wheels in my head spinning. In order to love her the way God intends for me to love her, I must also put her in second place in my life. My first devotion must be to my heavenly Father. I need to surrender my self-centered perspective in exchange for his perspective. I must learn how to lay my life down for my wife. While this sounds cavalier, quite honestly “laying my life down” often requires little more than seeing things through her eyes rather than through my own eyes.

God instructs me to love my wife as his Son Jesus loved the church. Reasonable men will admit that this love requires something far beyond our own capabilities. Guys, when God is truly in first place in our life, and we are allowing his amazing love to purge us and fill us and empower us, our wife will be the recipient of the unadulterated love of God…flowing from him, through us, straight to her precious heart.

So go for it! Buy her a gift. And write something special in the card…something romantic like, “You thrill my heart—will you please be my Number Two?” It’s the highest honor you can possibly present to her this Valentine’s Day—second in line to her PapaGod—ahead of every other “distraction” in your life…sports, your job, and even your ministry work.

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her…” ~ Ephesians 5.25

So if you love her–and I know you do–put her in her place…

…her place of sacred honor!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: