Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Heart to Heart

Heart to Heart
One heart for God, leads another to Jesus. That one leads another. Pastors to congregations, parents to children, children to friends, and even children to parents. Along the line some become leaders with a target on their back. 

Have you seen the sites that blast today's leaders in Christ? If a person is in any way public about their views, someone will have an opinion about them. And believe me, those things can be quite a stretch. One is credited to maintain that heaven is closed to Jews. Another person is called unattractive and embarrassing. Really? Others are declared mystics, or preaching doctrines of demons. These quotes are about well established, sincere, and trust worthy ministers. Even Billy Graham has had his share of quotes taken out of context, and his name smeared.

How about in your own church? How do you treat your leaders? If they don't agree with you on an area like music, finances, or structure do you rant to others? Or worse yet, not go to them to discuss it, but leave for another place of imperfection? 

How can churches grow if we keep flipping through the revolving doors in a never ending search for perfection? 

There have been times when I have been misjudged, accused, and mistreated outrageously by a church body. One resulted in a young teen losing her life. But I did not leave that church. They were my family. My commitment ruled over my need to be right. 

One time my Dad fought his church leaders to have some apartments on the church property refurbished and rented out. Making this a place of low rent for those in need and helping the finances of our little church. The meetings were held, the discussions heart felt as each side plead their case. My Dad held his own, but in the end the vote did not go his way. 

At the very next meeting they called for volunteers to help demo the property. Everyone was astonished when my Dad raised his hand to lead the project. I asked him later, why? He said, "I said my peace. They voted it down. It's my job to support whatever is decided."    

Paul tells the Corinthians not to make rash judgement about people, but wait until Jesus comes. He will bring light into the situation. Only God knows the motive of the heart. If anyone judged Paul, though he knew he was not without mistakes, he would take God's judgement, not others. 

But be encouraged, leaders! God knows you hearts. And after all, what really matters what the Father says about you! Amen?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Boast in the Lord

                                                              Boast in the Lord\
Colorado Springs, the new Corinth?. How are we like the people in Corinth? "The Jews demand signs and the Greeks look for wisdom" Pastor Greg compared these two cities in a sermon a few weeks back. We have our universities and people of knowledge in this modern day, too. So, do we change our message to please these minds?

Paul says he preached Christ crucified. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

The Jews did not want to hear of Christ. a stumbling block to their religious teachings. They were stuck on doing things to be righteous. Who are these in our Colorado Springs? Greg did not bring this out in his sermon but it makes me think of many who also look for signs to ratify others as Christians. A place I have been as well. We look for those who make the check list of politics. Abortion, guns, gay marriage, evolution, undocumented aliens, tattoos, gaming, America and everything Republican are opinions. (The list goes on) These do not preach Christ and Him crucified. Maybe to reach out we need to be more like Paul.

"Therefore, as it is written, the one who boasts boast in the Lord."  

Friday, December 6, 2013

When God Sends An Angel

Message From God

God sent an angel to Mary. Not an automatic email or a form letter. He wanted Mary to know it came personally from His hand. Mary responded at first with questions. "How can this be?" Even the brilliance of an angel's visit did not stop her from needing more information, with such a huge task before her. 

But Mary's final response was one of total trust and faith. "May it be to me as you have said." 

When God sends you a message how do you respond? Okay, maybe not from an angel but perhaps a verse, a circumstance, or a strong urgent feeling that you know is from God. Fear can keep us from taking on the task, because it often can be something far beyond our present capabilities. Take in what is being said or felt with fervent attention. Asking questions is okay, but the final response should always be reception, trust, and obedience, 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holy Spirit Come

Holy Spirit Come
There is a generation of American young people that have walked away from the church. The generation above them has wondered why they would leave God.
The elder one says, “Those young people are too self-absorbed.”
          The younger says, “The church is old fashion, and immoveable. Why can’t it come along with the times?”
          The seniors grumble, “What they wear is so strange. Why do they dress so sloppy all the time?”
          “Church music is from the past.” The youth cry out. “People there are hypocritical, holier than thou, and hell bent on the rules. That’s right, I said, ‘Hell’”
          So, the younger generation left the church in droves.  Many of these young people fell into addictions, lived in the streets, and worried their parents to death.
          Though I was not one of the ones that left, I am a part of that generation. No, I’m not a millennial, I’m a baby boomer.  Many of those I speak of lost hope, and some their lives.
          Most churches stayed stubborn and insisted that only they knew the right way to live the Christian life. Surely, Jesus would want his children to wear ties and dresses to church. How could you have a service without an organ? If you sang songs with rock tunes, instead of hymns, you were courting Satan. And long hair on men? Never, in this church!
But I believe there were many parents of this generation that continued to pray. God inspired other individuals that cared more about loving with the love of Christ, then who was right about order of service.
That’s when it happened. Someone loved instead of arguing about stupid points on dress codes, rules, and who is correct about back word masking on rock music. One hippie received the love that was given. He opened himself up to a new life that spilled the glory of God to whoever stood next to him. He didn’t dress up. He used the music he knew and put words of truth to the notes. He kept his long hair and flower child ways.
He had gone into the world to find peace and love, and found it wanting. He realized his need for God. An explosion of revival ran a thick line through our rebellious generation and a whole new group emerged. The Jesus freaks. Soon others got on board. New music emerged. Some churches stayed the same, refusing to realize that God was about love, not judgment.  Many of these churches died with the generation that refused to give up their way of doing things.  
Now we have a new generation. Those of us still in the church say, “Those young people are too self-absorbed.”
          The younger says, “The church is old fashion, and immoveable. Why can’t it come along with the times?”
          The seniors grumbled. “What they wear is so strange. Why do they dress so casual all the time?”
          “Their music is from the past. People are hypocritical, holier than Thou, and hell bent on the rules. That’s right, I said, ‘Hell’”
          “The past? But we play contemporary music!”
          “If you’re in the 90’s”
Instead of the ungodly fashion of the day being long hair, now tattoos and piercings receive the brunt of our pointed fingers and laments of the evil world. So the younger generation has left the church in droves.
Okay, now it’s my generation’s time to pray, reach out, and be willing to change. No, we don’t have to agree with everything.  But we shouldn’t be condemning, and we need to listen. Many of these young people still believe in God but not how our churches have isolated themselves, sent out condemnations instead of hope, and turned to politics instead of coming alongside those that need our help, love, and compassion.
Let’s stop, back up the truck a little, and be ready to work on our own failings instead of rushing to point out their’s. Willing to get sweaty and hands dirty to do love, and be the hands of Christ.
Holy Spirit, come down as you did for the Jesus Freaks. Wash into the hearts of the generation that texts, knows they are special, and will carry on Your light to the following generation. Teach my generation to be open, listening, and willing to change, because it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and our job to love.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Contentment is Not in a Dog's Name

Contentment is Not in a Dog’s Name
            I have a tendency to want everyone to be happy. Often my attempts result in making no one happy. A case in point is our new puppy, an adorable Labradoodle. I agonized for months over a name for this awaited pup. It needed to be cute, meaningful, and definitely not one I would hear everywhere I went.  I wanted, more than anything for my whole family, and everyone else, to love the name. I was told, rightly, that our sons are grown and we should pick a name for ourselves. But I was not content with that.
            This may be the last dog we ever have, I told myself.  I remembered how the boys always joked about bringing our dogs, Max and Sophie, back to college with them. When coming home again, these two dogs met them with ecstatic wiggles of pure love.  To me our dogs were one more reason for them to want to come home.
            Now that Max has passed, and Sophie is on the older side, we wanted another dog. Here in lies the problem. After weeks of debating, with at first no interest from the boys because he would be a “doodle” not a full “Lab,” we had several names, but no consensus.  Erin, my daughter-in-law, helped with suggestions, too. But I could tell she tried to stay in Switzerland mode. The three young people liked, Ralph, with a maybe on Rigsby. I liked Rigsby but maybe not Ralph. My husband did not like either.
Out of the melee of names I jumped on one I thought we all approved of, Clyde. An, okay name, I thought, and my husband Jon quickly put it on Facebook, making it official.
            But no, apparently the only name that was perfect enough was Ralph.  So, the two names hit the air confusing the puppy, not one bit. He came to everyone.
            So, feeling I had been too hasty, I went back to the very first name we had discussed, the name Zathras. This is a character from the sci-fi series, Babylon 5, that we all seemed to like. I could not be content unless everyone was happy. I did another pole. Yes, the boys conceded the name was, okay. But to them he just looked like a Ralph. Erin thought Zathras was a cute name. Jon, sci-fi lover that he was, of course, loved it.
            A happy ending? No, because once again in my attempt to please everyone, no one is happy, least of all me. If you visit our house you will hear the names Zathras, Zath, Zat or Z, Ralph, Ralphie, Ralphy-Mc-ralpherson, or Ralphers . Our pastor weighed in and has called him Clyde. The boys have split the difference at times and called him Ralphras.
            Contentment is something you decide to have. It’s not something you fix into being. At the Covenant Heights women’s retreat in September one of the talks was on contentment. The speaker showed us that to have contentment we mustn’t give away our confidence with fear, not envy others in what we wish we could do, and especially not allowing what others say effect our contentment.
            When she said, “camp on it” I knew I had my sketch for the sermon. Camp your mind on contentment.  Stop running around trying to solve each lack, or give up on ourselves at every road block. Quit spending time wishing for better instead of holding on to the hope of what God has planned for us.
Timothy 6:6 “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  
            Zathras, is the name of our dog. I love him, and I am content with his name, even if others disagree. I have confidence in our decision. When others call him Ralph I know they love him, and I will be content with that. Now on to housebreaking!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Story

New Story

My son, Todd Spieker, preached in my home church a few weeks ago. Here is the gist of what he spoke on.

His topic was from Luke 9:23, “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’”

Todd approached this from a unique point of view. We all have life stories.

The Roman’s story was about their great empire. They thought their book would never end. It did.

The Jews had their version of what a messiah was. This dated back to the Maccabees and a Jewish messiah that brought down the enemy and took back a nation. They thought if Jesus was The Messiah, His story should be that, too.

Others have the story that if you are rich then you are a blessed person. In other words being wealthy means that you are good. After all only good people are rewarded with wealth. If you are poor or disabled, there must be some sin in your past.

Then there are the stories many of us have. We make demands based on what we think are God given rights. The demands say I want, I need, I hope, I dream. My rights, and my ways are all that matters.

But Jesus asks us to join His narration. To let go, put down our little fables and pick up His story. In Jesus’ book He tells of an upside-down messiah. This messiah dies in humility at the hands of the enemy, and rises from the dead. His story says blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the earth.

Jesus asks us to give up our rights. Oh, yes, He does. He asks us to care for the alien, love the disenfranchised, and stand up for the marginalized. Even if these precious ones step all over our “rights” and befuddle us with the way they live their life.  

Jesus writes an epic novel. Read the chapter titles he has written for you: mercy, grace, adventure, and everlasting life. Lay down your life, pick up your cross, and join God’s story.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

First Love

First Love
Like toes in the water on the first day of spring or the satisfying swallow of fresh made ice cream, this is how beginnings feel.

Have you followed Christ for long?

When you learned of His love and grace did His glory thrill your heart?

Even being blessed with the experience of serving such a powerful and merciful God, after a while, we can become apathetic. That leaning forward at a full tilt run can become the dragging feet of a slumped shouldered march. In Revelations 2, God talks to the church in Ephesus.

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

You notice God didn’t say they weren’t working hard enough? He didn’t tell them that they weren’t faithful, or that they allowed wickedness to flourish around them? No, He told them to get back to that passion and fire that once filled their hearts. Maybe this doesn’t mean to do more, but do less. Reconnect with your God by being with Him in a conscious way. Not warming a pew, not repeating words to Him, not memorizing random strings of words that have no meaning for you.  We have the privilege of being more than going through robotic motions.

It also doesn’t mean being involved with every event, Bible study, and potluck dinner that the church offers. It means to follow, listen, and love God with a wide awake, fired-up heart and soul.

Renew, refresh, and jump back into your first love!