Welcome

If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Revival



God reveals Himself through yielded vessels. To say it again in another way, without the Christian-eeze, God puts men and women to work who empty themselves, and surrender to His will allowing His Spirit to work through them. God used an ordinary cupbearer to the king of Persia to rally the Israelites and finish both the building of the Jewish Temple and the wall surrounding Jerusalem. Nehemiah allowed God to work through him becoming a great leader who successfully led God’s people to restore the walls of protection one stone at a time.

Today, God is doing a new work. Instead of building walls of protection around a city, He is intent on having His people tear down denominational walls of separation. Since the very first Sunday service in Jerusalem, the church has continued to grow. With its growth the truths that Jesus left us with have been continually re-interpreted, qualified, quantified and changed. With these new rules and regulations, the people of God slowly developed their own dogma and interpretation of what the Messiah came to say and do.

I love Jesus. He is Master to all who believe in Him. He was the embodiment of “true love” and held that compass point right to His death on the cross. Jesus would walk over to a person covered in leprous sores, putting His hands on them, and would tell them how much God loved them. Jesus never turned away from anyone who truly was interested in who He was. He would sit down to eat with tax-collectors, harlots and thieves, people the world saw as lost and unredeemable.

Friends, we need to begin working together. Putting aside all minor, doctrinal differences that separate us and begin to work together shining the true light of Jesus Christ! We are all ministers for Christ, living stones being built up together hand in hand into the kingdom of God. There is only one mediator between man and God and that person is Christ Jesus. So let’s put aside our pride and begin to worship the Creator together in unity!

Listen to what Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament letters, as he compassionately tries to exhort and encourage all in all new churches that were beginning to sprout up all around the Mediterranean world.

 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:1-6.

There is only one god. And there is only one mediator between God and His creation who is Jesus Christ. The church, men and women who have put their trust into Jesus Christ, is really a living organism. It is definitely not defined by building walls, church membership or denominational rules and regulations. Jesus commanded us to go into the entire world preaching the “Good news of salvation” to all people. Then we are to teach the ones who believe all the things that Jesus commanded us while He was here walking on the earth.

A 19th century preacher, once speaking to a crowd on church revival, stooped down to draw an 18” circle in the dirt. He then told everyone interested in revival to step into that circle. The preacher stepped into the circle demonstrating that true revival begins with a single human heart. One person at a time must hear the Master’s call for revival and step into that circle.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Let your light shine, in other words take time to get to know your neighbors and strangers that you cross paths with during the course of your day. Don’t be shy to offer a meal, kind words or even a hug to another human being.

It’s all about the relationships we make here on earth. In fact these relationships are the only thing we will take to heaven with us. Our bank accounts and all the monuments we leave here on earth will stay here on earth after we are gone but we will remember each other and the way we were treated. So just as Nehemiah rallied the people of Jerusalem to build up the walls, let us work to tear down walls of separation and reach out to one another in unity of Spirit to minister to everyone we are privileged to help.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Repentance



When Nehemiah surveyed the city of Jerusalem to assess the damage, it could have been overwhelming to him to try and imagine how he was going to accomplish such a momentous task. But instead of letting fear control him, he rallied the people of Jerusalem to work together to rebuild the walls and the gates. Every family worked on the section of wall that was directly in front of their own neighborhood. Slowly and steadily the walls and gates were rebuilt by a community of like-minded people.

They prayed to the Lord for protection but, because their enemies wanted to thwart their efforts, they stationed look outs to keep watch day and night. God expects us to be practical; He wants us to talk to Him, asking for the things we need to survive but He also expects us to put rubber on the road.

The late J. Vernon McGee use to say that someone sitting in a lawn chair looking at his car in the driveway, thinking about going to church will never actually get to church unless he gets up and gets into his car and drives there. Our salvation is kind of like that where just thinking about Jesus is not enough. Indeed it’s the first step towards salvation but unless we put our trust in Christ, believe and put our faith in Him, we will just be sitting in our lawn chair going nowhere.

I sat in church for much of my adult life. I have been a worship leader, bible study leader and an associate pastor. Much of what goes on in our modern day evangelical settings is like the man sitting in the lawn chair on his front lawn thinking about getting to church. Folks, until we repent and clear the rubbish out of our lives we can’t be holy and set apart for God’s use.

You can’t live like hell and expect to land in heaven. True salvation is a gift from God and we can’t earn, purchase or work for it. However once we put our trust in Christ, we are new creatures. The old man passes away and we are “Born Again”. We have to repent and turn our lives over to God. We need to allow God access to the secret places in our minds and take steps towards a life that reflects God’s will.

I believe many sitting in church on Sundays are fooling themselves into thinking that they are saved when their lives are full of habitual sin and they are not making an effort to change. Going inside McDonalds doesn’t make you a hamburger so why should going to church make you a Christian?

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2.

The bible teaches that we all need to evaluate our lives, how we live, the way we treat our loved ones and especially the way we treat each other. We must put off the old man and turn towards God, living in a way that is pleasing to Him. Jesus use to say of the religious leaders of His day that they were like whitewashed tombs that are full of dead men’s bones. He went on to say that they took pride making sure the outside of the cup was clean but the inside of it was full of filth.

Just like in Nehemiah’s day, we all need to work together to build up God’s kingdom. We need to not be so concerned about keeping up appearances but rather in  making sure that our hearts are clean. The bible also teaches that it’s not what goes into a man that defiles him but rather what comes out of his heart. God’s Holy Spirit will help us to break addictions that bind us from moving closer to Him. If we are to be filled with the Spirit ready to use by God to build up His kingdom then we must empty our cups of all filth.

You see, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God has prepared good works for us to do if we will only surrender to Him. Every one of you who truly hears the Shepherd’s voice is a living stone that God is building His kingdom with. Let us encourage each other to good works as the Day draws near!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Building walls



The nation of Israel, more specifically the tribes living in and around Jerusalem, had been taken captive for seventy years in Babylon. In the year 530 B.C. the Persians captured Babylon allowing the Jewish remnant to return to their country and to the city of Jerusalem. Immediately some fifty thousand of them did return and set about the task of rebuilding the temple. Discouraged by opposition from their new neighbors, lack of resources and manpower they soon abandoned the work with only the foundation of the temple rebuilt.

Sixteen years later God raised up two men, Haggai and Zechariah who challenged the people concerning their condition and way of life and pointed out their neglect of the things of God. The people were inspired by these two men and the work of the reconstruction of the temple was once again revived. The temple was completed some twenty years after the first group had returned from captivity.

Sixty more years passed by, when another group of Jewish men and women returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra in the year 458 B.C. Ezra was a priest who could trace his lineage back to Israel’s first priest, Aaron. Ezra set out upon the task of revitalizing the peoples’ moral and spiritual health. They had been living in a deplorable state, challenged on every side by their enemies, lack of resources and reinforcements from the Persian king.

For some ninety years after the first group of Jews returned to rebuild the temple, the gates and walls of the city still remained broken and desolate. In the year 445 B.C. fourteen years after Ezra’s return God spoke to another man, Nehemiah, and began preparing him for the task of rebuilding the walls and gates.

One day Nehemiah’s brother and some other Jews returned from Jerusalem and reported to Nehemiah the horrible conditions of its gates and walls. God’s glorious city of grace was in shambles and they were to blame for it. As Nehemiah heard his brother’s account, he fell down and wept, and he mourned, and he fasted, and he prayed.

Jesus would also one day weep over the city of Jerusalem and see its inhabitants as lost sheep without a shepherd. From the Mount of Olives He saw its future destruction and mourned for it even agonizing over it only days before His own brutal death on a cross. And just as the wall and gates around the city of peace would one day be restored under Nehemiah’s leadership, Jesus three days after His death would burst forth from the tomb in glorious resurrection.

Nehemiah asked God to allow him to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and gates. Being the cup bearer to the Persian king was not a job that you could just step away from and keep your head on your shoulders. It was not as if you could just ask the king for a paid vacation or sick leave.

Nehemiah prayed and asked God to open the doors for him preparing the way. And so the king agreed to grant Nehemiah’s request and in addition also gave him rights to vast resources in the king’s forests. We are totally inadequate to accomplish any meaningful task in our own strength and with our own resources without first asking and recognizing God as the source of the works of our hands.

Soon Nehemiah was in Jerusalem quietly surveying the damage under the cover of night. He took his time to investigate and plan for a united attack on this massive building project. Nehemiah knew that the walls and gates could only be rebuilt if everyone worked together in unity. Neighbors working hand in hand with each other.

God is so good! I’m incredibly overjoyed to announce that right here in Alpine, through another modern day Nehemiah, another wall is being rebuilt. Through the sacrifice and hard work of many men, women and young adult volunteers the new Youth Center is thriving. Many kids are spending hours having fun and fellowship at the facility located at 2153 Arnold Way. Its a safe haven where young adults and teens can make new friends and get reacquainted with old ones while enjoying video games, billiards and basketball.

Lives are being changed and hearts healed as the adult volunteers supervise all teens and their activities. Everyone is learning to respect themselves while respecting others. There is an incredible united front of unity that exists as volunteers from many different organizations and churches come to join hands and help build lives. Just as in Nehemiah’s day there is a mountain of work to be done. The Youth Center only exists because of donations from its gracious donors. Won’t you be a Nehemiah and help build up the wall for the youth of Alpine?