#WriteAHappyStoryIn4Words

The title of this post was a trending hashtag topic on Twitter on Dec 6. If you don’t understand hashtags it is basically a topic that people are talking about. If it is “trending” then lots of people are talking about it.

I saw the hashtag and my imagination started running wild. I posted a few and then sat and “daydreamed” more…

[this may sound like I am being lazy but pastoral day-dreaming can actually be very hard work];

…turning this into a devotional exercise. I then decided to group them all together to share with a wider audience.

[see, I am working]

So here are my “happy stories”; all using just 4 words.

[with a little commentary thrown in for good measure]

Feel free to leave a comment and share your “happy story” here.

[I don’t recommend doing the “pastoral day-dreaming” at work if you are not a pastor :-)]

Jesus IS coming back
Death has no power
Jesus is Lord forever
Me weak, Jesus strong ~ I know, I know, sounds caveman-like, but you get my point.
Jesus wins, I win
Jesus knocked Satan out ~ A little violent but hey, it’s Satan getting hit.
God is in control ~ Cliché? Maybe, but this still holds true.
Jesus died FOR YOU
Jesus is alive, ALLELUIA
God first loved you
God is our refuge
The Light shatters darkness ~ Notice the captial “L”
God’s Word is forever
You are not alone ~ Taken out of context this can actually be scary, so let’s stay focused 🙂
Jesus good, Satan bad ~ I used to have a t-shirt with this on it.
Jesus is the reason ~ (for the season), This may be borderline cheating.
Thy will be done

I thought of more, but of course it was while I was driving home yesterday and then I forgot when I got home (that’s what I get for starting a post one day and finishing it the next). Grrrr… In any case, feel free to add your stories for there are many more. Happy day dreaming 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Facebook and Twitter Hiatus

It seems more appropriate to write about my Facebook and Twitter hiatus here rather than on Facebook, since it is Facebook and Twitter that I am stepping away from for the time being. Oddly enough, though, some of you are reading this via Facebook or Twitter since these posts get posted to those social media outlets.

O.K., enough typing “Facebook” or “Twitter”. On to my point.

Since the election last week, I have been keeping a close eye on social media to monitor the reaction of people. I was surprised by the outcome of the election but even more surprised by the reaction of this nation’s citizens. It has saddened me to read stories of people feeling empowered to lash out against people of color and immigrants (legal or otherwise) and others who have been marginalized. I have also been saddened to read about people lashing out at the millions of people who voted for Donald Trump; and basically that is what people are doing by protesting the election. This has nothing to do with the man who was legally elected to the office of president but rather everything to do with the nation who elected him. We have our issues but I don’t see how taking to the streets shouting “Not my president” is going to solve them. We need to pray and work together to make this a better nation.

And so, as I perused the likes of Facebook and Twitter, I have read angry and sometimes hate-filled words. I have seen “news” articles that I wonder if they are even true. There are petitions to rescind a legal election. So much negativity. So much hate. So much division. As I have been reading these things I have been finding myself getting drawn into the fray. I have been tempted to lash out and mix it up with people, but that would accomplish nothing. So therefore I am taking a break from the aforementioned social media outlets (Did you see what I did there? I didn’t mentioned that “F” or “T” word). I am going to take a break to care for my soul. It almost feels like Satan has been prodding me; drawing me in. I need a break and maybe even rethink my social media habits. I am not going to let Satan distract me from living faithfully in the Kingdom of God. And so, the only things that people will see from me on “F” or “T” will be faith related posts coming through third party apps (like my blog or my Bible app, for example). I am not going to sign in and check who has responded to what I’ve posted or respond to any comments. The only social media I will be doing is writing here on my blog, and therefore the only comments I will be responding to are ones posted here. What I am doing is simply taking a break from “F” and “T”. I am not sure how long the break will last but if you want to keep up with my ramblings then you will have to find them here.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to set myself up as some morally superior, super Christian by doing what I am doing. I have my issues as well. My hope is that people will consider following my example. As a people we need to watch what we post. Does it glorify God? Does it honor one another? It is truthful? As a nation, we need to bring GOD back into the fray. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Our only hope is to turn to the Creator as this world is in His hands. Let’s not let Satan tear apart this nation. We have our issues but together, and with God, we can combat that which Satan is trying to do and in the end, praise God for the victory already won through Jesus Christ.

So there you have it. My hiatus from “F” and “T” is underway. May God be praised and glorified.

The Pastor -|—

Don’t be a Jerk

I saw a Facebook post recently that said:

“Sometimes the best evangelism is simply telling people you’re a Christian and then not being a complete jerk.”

There is some truth to that but it definitely does not go far enough in today’s world. There are way too many people who claim to be a Christian but do not follow Jesus (which doesn’t make sense to me). For some, “Christian” is just a title to be used when it suits them but when opposition comes the title is abandoned. Then there are people who claim the title “Christian” but under a new and “relevant” definition. It’s like a Twitter post I saw recently,

“Saying you’re a new kind of Christian with a new kind of Christianity is basically saying you’re an old kind of heretic.” [Burk Parsons]

To “simply” say you’re a Christian doesn’t tell me much now days, which is kind of sad. “Christian” used to mean something but now it is just a watered down title. So now what? Well, you can’t simply tell people you are a Christian and then not be a complete jerk. In today’s world, Jesus-following Christians need to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead. That is salvation and that is the message that needs to be proclaimed.
Jesus is Lord.
Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus died for you.
Jesus was raised for you.
Through faith, when you confess your sins, you are forgiven.

So don’t “simply” stop at Christian, but confess with your mouth what you believe in your heart…and THEN don’t be a complete jerk.

The Pastor -|—

A Spiritual Kick in the Pants

Pursuing Christ is not an occasional hobby to receive some spiritual high but rather a way of life because he loves you.

The above quote is something I wrote and posted on my Twitter feed (Feisty Pastor, @EricSpeakingUp). I wrote it because of personal experience; using spiritual practices to feel good and/or (believe it or not) to ensure that things will go my way. I would engage in spiritual practices; diving into scripture, writing, reading theology books, praying and meditation, to find this closeness with God and thus feel this sense of peace. And I would continue this for awhile until something would happen or I would slowly fall out of “practice”. And after going through a low time or feeling nervous about something coming up, I would start all over again.

Basically, using God as a drug to deal with life.

The weird thing is, deep down inside, I knew something wasn’t right but yet I kept at it because God was (and is) always faithful. God gave me this sense of peace when I would pursue Christ. And of course God knew what I was doing but yet God continued to love me and bless me with this peace. Part of me wishes that God would not have done that because I definitely did not deserve it.

I am not sure what happened but some spiritual kick in the pants woke me up to the reality of what I was doing. Maybe it was God’s love that kicked me. Maybe this peace that surpasses all understanding overwhelmed me to the point of conviction. I am not sure, but whatever it was I saw the error of my ways. But more importantly, I saw what I was missing.

An intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

The fact of the matter is, pursuing Christ is NOT a hobby. A hobby is something we do to take a break from life. It’s also something that does not consume one’s life (at least it shouldn’t). A hobby is only a part-time commitment. One of my hobbies is reading, but I only do that in my free time. Jesus being a hobby means that Jesus is not really part of your life. It means that you control the terms of the relationship. It means you are in charge. And this flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Lord. A lord is in charge, not the subject.

But also, it flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Savior. Jesus has saved me from my sins through dying on the cross. Through faith, Jesus has saved me from eternal condemnation. Through faith, Jesus gives a comfort that gives me strength no matter what this world throws at me. And therefore, why wouldn’t anyone want to get to know this Savior better and be close to him ALL the time?

Knowing this and receiving this should move “pursuing Jesus” from hobby status to a way of life, and not to get a spiritual high to get through your day, but rather to get to know this Lord and Savior better and better. Pursuing Jesus, then, is something that is every bit natural as breathing is natural.

If pursing Jesus is only a part time activity or hobby in your life, then you don’t know Jesus; you don’t understand what he did FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus ALL the time because he loves you and has died and risen FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus not for some spiritual high but because you want a relationship with him. Pursue Jesus FULL TIME.

Pursue Jesus and live with eternal joy as you look forward to living with Him on high.

The Pastor -|—

Table prayer

Earlier today I submitted this to Twitter:
Don’t just teach your children specific prayers or how to pray; teach them to know whom they are praying to. #parenting #God #Jesus #Lord

So that is where this table prayer came from.

I started thinking about this because I want to develop a prayer habit in my kids that is genuine. I want prayer to be something that is not rote; a formula prayer that we just spout off before we eat. I want my kids to think about why we pray and what we are praying for. But even more than that, I want my kids to know this awesome God to whom we are praying. I want my kids to have a relationship with our provider God and learn to give Him genuine thanks.

So here it is. I do not claim any artistic ability in writing poetry. I’m only a father trying to teach his children:

Jesus, we invite you to this table,
to bless this food so that we are able,
to live and serve you,
to praise and give you
honor and glory,
telling your story.
So bless this food, Lord, to help us live now,
Oh Jesus we praise your holy name now.
Amen.

What do you think?

The Pastor -|—

You can’t replace scripture

As I was browsing Twitter this morning, I came across an account I follow that had a picture of two theology books and a cup of coffee. The caption of their photo was this:

“Pretty much the perfect way to start the day.”

I get the coffee part and even a good dose of theological reading but immediately I noticed something missing.

Do you see it?

For me the perfect start to my day is prayer and then some Bible reading along with my cup of coffee and then later on, maybe some theological reading. So I responded to that Twitter account saying that the Bible was missing. The response I just received (as I am typing this post) was:

“There is so much Scripture in these books we could probably repiece the original manuscript together!”

Really? To which I responded:

“I get what you’re saying but these still can’t replace scripture itself.”

What I believe they are trying to say is that those books were excellent resources but they are only excellent resources because of what makes them excellent resources. So therefore, without the Bible, that picture is lacking.

Maybe I am being too picky but I just don’t want the Bible minimized and hopefully I didn’t come off as judgmental. Maybe it was an innocent mistake but if it was an oversight, does that say something? Am I over analyzing?

So now, as I get ready to hit “post” I received this response from that account:

“Definitely. I have my ESV on my phone…”

Praise be to God for that. Then let’s highlight, promote and put it out there:

The perfect start to your day?
~ Prayer
~ Scripture
~ (and of course) coffee 🙂

Rant done…have a great day.

The Pastor -|—

Satan’s seal team

The following is a tweet, I saw this morning, from Kevin DeYoung, whom I follow on Twitter.  I post this because it really got me thinking and therefore I want to get you thinking:

Satan’s plan is more simple than spooky: make you forget about God and be disinterested in Christ.

It’s really a brilliant plan, when you think about it, because it is so covertly subversive.  It’s Satan’s seal team that slips in and out without being noticed.  Satan doesn’t just start firing away (which would give away his position and plan) but rather sneaks in with distractions that quietly and subtly leads you away from God; so much so, that you begin to forget.  And once forgotten, then temptations become much more effective. That’s the power of a seal team. You can’t see them coming until it is too late and then they are gone just as fast; leaving behind the intended damage.

But the defense to this covert attack is to stay on high alert.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:6-9 ESV)

This is not a sure fire defense where you will never sin.  There will be moments (many moments) where Satan’s seal team will get in and do damage but if we can stay on high alert we will have a chance to minimize the damage and find healing as we remember the Gospel; that through faith in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness.

And that is what Satan is trying to get you to forget and thus become disinterested in Jesus:  Forgiveness.  If Jesus is just some moral teacher then we will quickly become disinterested as there are many moral teachers in the world to choose from.  But Jesus is more than that.  Jesus is salvation.  It’s no wonder that Satan wants you to forget who Jesus really is.

So…

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

And praise be to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that God has defeated Satan through the cross; rending Satan’s seal teams ultimately ineffective.

The pastor -|—