Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Where My Party People At?"

Maybe you know this song by Nelly featuring Fergie?  It’s one of my favorites and it is my ringtone I set for my friends who are my “Party People.”  But there is another group of “Party People” that are also my friends and I am always looking for more to include in on the party.  In fact, this party that I am going to is a party to end all parties, it is going to have the absolute best food, with everyone wearing the most stylish clothes and everyone should be talking about it (if they aren’t already)! …You have gotten the invite haven’t you? …well, maybe no one has told you yet, but you are invited….let me tell you a little more about it….

In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus talks about what the kingdom of heaven is like.  He compares it to a wedding banquet, or a wedding reception.  I like to call it a party. 

The king is having a major wedding reception to celebrate his son’s wedding.  So he invited a group of people, but they refused the invitation.  When the king sent his servants to tell them that everything is ready for them (the best food that you could possibly imagine), and to just come to the party, they ignored the invite!  The people just kept on with their everyday activities; working at their job everyday, facebooking, driving their kids to their endless activities and so on.  Some of the people even abused the servants who were delivering the message of the invitation and some were murdered. 

The people, who were refusing the invite, just didn’t pay any attention to what the servant was saying and the ones that paid attention decided they were offended and wanted the message to stop being delivered to the point of killing the servants.

Well, of course this made the king mad, so he decided that he would destroy those murderers and the place that they lived.  The king then told the servants to open the invitation up to everyone.  He told his servants to go out and stand on the street corners, telling everyone about this fabulous party and that they are all invited.  Every single person was invited this time, not just a select group. So they found all the people both good and bad and invited them to come into the wedding hall to wait for the party to start. The hall is a place of gathering together, but not the place where the party really was happening, no, that is just into the next room.  Everyone was waiting, waiting for the king, the host of the party, to open the doors for the party people to come in and get this party started! 

Just as the king came in to the hall, he noticed a man there who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for the party.  The king called out to the man, “Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?”  The man was speechless.  He was totally caught off guard.  He thought he was dressed properly, he thought he was prepared for the party just like all of the other invitees.  The king then told the attendants to kick the man out of the party outside of the palace walls while everyone else went in to the party of a lifetime.

So there it is, the party that everyone should be talking about.  So what about those wedding clothes???  I for one don’t want to get kicked out of the party right before it starts! Galatians 3:27 (NIV) “for all of you who were baptized into Christ, have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Baptized simply means to be fully immersed.  As long as you are fully into relationship with Jesus Christ, then you are wearing the proper wedding clothes.  –and believe me, I’m sure this type of clothing is the most fashionable clothing you will ever wear.

The man in the parable obviously thought he didn’t need a relationship with Jesus to enter into the party.  Most likely he thought he could get in by wearing what ever he wanted; by his own way of salvation.  What could that “own way” look like?  I believe it is simply by believing that there is another way to God besides through relationship with Jesus. 

The party I am going to, I hope, is the same party you are going to.  “Where my party people at?” is what I am asking now, so who’s going to party with me for eternity?  Are you going to be there?  Do your friends know that you are going and do they know that they are invited too?  So next time you hear that song, “Where My Party People At?”, I hope you think of the upcoming party and pass along the invite to everyone that will listen.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Who is SALT?"

You might remember a movie that came out last year, 2010, with this tag line at the end of the trailer, "Who is SALT?" with the movie title as "SALT", it starred Angelina Jolie as a US agent named Evelyn Salt accused of being a sleeper Russian agent. It was a constant questioning of the character's identity, was she really a true blooded US agent or was she a secret agent for Russia?  SALT was a woman with unique abilities, mysterious abilities and no one really knew who she truly was.  She was very effective at what she did, flawlessly executing her plan to reveal the truth of who she was.  You might say that SALT was trying to regain her true self, her flavor, her uniqueness. 

I myself at times have questioned who I am, who I truly am.  Do I appear as one type of person one day and the complete opposite the next?  Are the words that I am speaking holding true to who I truly am, or are they reinforcing an image of someone that I am pretending to be?  Do people really know the real me?

Quote from the movie SALT: "Do you think everyone is who they say they are?"- Evelyn Salt.

The bible says that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ then we are SALT (Capitals are added).

Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses it's saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

This statement made by Jesus really got me thinking, I certainly didn't want to be "thrown out and trampled underfoot" or in other words, discarded and worthless.  I want to be the type of believer who makes a difference in this world for Christ, so I decided to find out how I could avoid ending up in this situation.  I started researching salt, Dead Sea salt (that's where the salt in that region came from, the Dead Sea) and as I was researching salt, and trying to figure out how salt could lose it's saltiness or it's flavor, I came upon several answers that aren't totally certain.  Some websites say that Dead Sea salt can lose it's saltiness when mixed with other molecules creating a whole new molecule, and some say that when you add minerals to your salt, it has become impure and now no longer in it's pure salt form.....this is just too technical for me!  So then I found a quote based off of the usage of sea salt in food, (now this I can relate to)!

Quote from eHow Health:
However, the Food Network states sea salts are "usually expensive; it is worth keeping in mind that they lose their unique flavor when cooked or dissolved," making them a better choice for sprinkling on top of food than using as an ingredient in a recipe

Read more: The Advantages of Sea Salt |
Ah-ha!  So when you cook or dissolve salt in food, it loses it's flavor or it's saltiness!  Sea salt has a uniqueness about it, just like us as followers of Jesus.  When we, as SALT, are not living out who our true selves are in Christ, then we are just simply cooking and dissolving away our flavor or our effectiveness.  The bible says that if we continue in this way, then we will be discarded for we are good for absolutely nothing in the Kingdom of Christ.  The good news is it it's not too late, as long as we have life in us, we can make a decision to change; repent.  Start living out our true selves.
So to answer the question, "Who is SALT?", it is you and I as believers in Christ.  Are you who you say you are?  Are you living out your true self?  Maybe you are in the process of regaining your identity just like Evelyn Salt, don't give up, find out who you truly are in Christ by asking Jesus himself and make that change.
Feel free to comment, what changes have you made to reveal more of your true self as SALT?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Every Believer Should be a Pro-Wrestler

Pro-wrestling? Yes, I am talking about professional wrestlers, not the ones in WWF or in that movie “Nacho Libre” but the ones that are found in the bible, more specifically in the book of Genesis chapter 32. 

As I was writing my book and reading over the passage, a funny thought occurred to me, the thought that God loves to physically wrestle with his people.   Have you ever watched two siblings (usually boys) wrestle in the living room, all the while laughing and grasping at each other trying to get the best hold on the other?  I believe this is the kind of wrestling that God wants to engage in with us.  –and God is not just good at it, but he’s a Pro.

Still wondering where this is leading?  Well, in Genesis chapter 32 Jacob wrestled with God for a blessing, and they both wrestled all night and into the dawn.  Here’s an excerpt from my book:

   That night Jacob got up and sent everyone across the stream with all of his possessions leaving Jacob alone.  Genesis 32:24 “…and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.”  Interesting to note that Jacob was fully awake, this was not a dream or a vision, but a physical encounter with the living God.

   When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Verse 26 “Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ “ 
   Jacob knew that this was a heavenly messenger and that he had the capability of blessing him.  There he goes again, chasing after the blessing of God.  Was this because he recognized this man as the Lord?  The last time he saw the Lord, was when he was surrounded by angels and then the Lord spoke blessing over him.  Jacob realized the value of blessing.

   Then the man asked Jacob what his name was and told him that his name will now be Israel, because he has struggled with God and with men and have overcome.  Then he blessed him there (vs.29) the bible doesn’t say exactly what the blessing was.  But if you look at the text, just by changing his name from Jacob to Israel, was the blessing.  From his name, came the name of the nation of Israel. 

   Jacob calls the place Peniel, saying, “It was because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” Jacob came away from that with only a limp from his hip, but the Lord was showing mercy to Jacob.  If God wanted to he could have overpowered Jacob unto death, but that wasn’t part of God’s plan.  He simply wanted to give Jacob another blessing and Jacob wanted to make sure that the Lord didn’t leave without giving him one.  Wow, Jacob was determined!

Jacob didn’t just chase after the blessings of God, but realizing the value of blessings in his life, was willing to risk everything and physically wrestle with God just to receive from him.  So what does that mean for us?  We should get in our wrestling outfits, and head out there to the mat. ….You know what I mean, get our minds in prayer and get alone with God…… The more we practice, the better we’ll be at receiving what the Lord has for us and before you know it, you’ve gone Pro! 

God is waiting for us to bless us, don’t let his presence leave without you receiving all that the Lord has for you.

What blessings have you wrestled for and received?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How to Live a Life Set Apart by God

In my last blog, I talked about the beatitudes, and Jesus described how we ARE set apart from the world.  You might ask yourself, "Well, if Jesus sees me that way, how in the world am I to live that out in today's society?"  You can find the answer to that question in Matthew chapter 5 verses 13 through the end of chapter 7.  So let's break it down....and I encourage you to read Matthew for yourself and see what the Lord is saying to you.

How to Live a Life Set Apart:

  1. By letting our light (our good deeds) shine before all men
  2. By practicing and teaching the Ten Commandments
  3. By not being angry with another person
  4. By not lusting after another person
  5. By not divorcing unless there has been unfaithfulness within the contract of marriage
  6. By doing what we say we are going to do; follow through
  7. By not responding to the insults of another and if that same person asks anything of you, bless them
  8. By loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you
  9. By giving to the needy in SECRET, not bragging about it or announcing it to others
  10. By praying sincerely and humbly, not to impress others with your words; pray the Lord's Prayer forgiving everyone
  11. By fasting in a humble manner, not bragging about it or announcing it; dressing like you would normally do taking care of yourself
  12. By using your wealth for things that have eternal value
  13. By living free of worry about your financial future
  14. By being wise in what you say before others and not judging them in a hipocritical way
  15. By treating others the way you want to be treated
  16. By expecting good gifts from our Heavenly Father when we ask (an example to others of our faith)
  17. By thinking of others before yourself
  18. By being in relationship with God; knowing him, and doing his will not ours, even if our desire is for something spiritual, if it's not God's will for us to be involved in that activity we are not demonstrating a life set apart
We not only need to HEAR the words of Jesus in this Sermon on the Mt., but also PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE.  Our lives will remain indestructable in times of storm and will be an example for all to see. (Matt. 7:24-27)

So tell me, have you had experience in any of these areas and been blessed because of it?  I want to hear from you......