Crossroad Online2020-08-18T14:02:54-04:00

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When integrity speaks people listen – June 10, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…When integrity speaks people listen.

From the mid 1970’s and into the 1980’s there was a well-known advertisement campaign for the Wall Street brokerage firm, Hutton. Most of the commercials were set in busy places such as bars, restaurants, or concert halls. An actor playing the founder of the company, Edward Francis Hutton would lean over to say something to someone nearby. As he began to speak the entire room, noisy a second before would go quiet and everyone would lean toward him to try to hear what he was saying. The narrator of the commercial would then say the line that became famous…”When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”. The idea of course was that the Hutton firm was so successful that everyone wanted to know what E.F. Hutton thought.

Do you know who everyone is always interested in hearing from? A person of unwavering integrity. Pastor Rick was speaking about just such a person this past week. In Mark 6:14-20 we read: 14 Now King Herod heard of Him, [Jesus] for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.” 16 But when Herod heard, he said, “This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18 Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

King Herod was not a godly man, but the Bible tells us that he liked to listen to John the Baptist. He didn’t like listening to him because John would only tell Herod things he wanted to hear, in fact the scripture says quite the opposite was true. John was incredibly candid with Herod. Herod had married his brother’s wife, and John couldn’t have been more clear that this was an ungodly thing to do, he didn’t hold back the truth at all. He called sin what it is…sin, and if we know anything about John, he most certainly implored Herod to repent and get right with God. This passage points out, as did pastor this weekend, that though Herod apparently wasn’t willing do what was right in terms of his marriage, He did like to listen to what John had to say and as a direct result of some of those conversations, Herod made quite a few adjustments in his life. The bible says And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

In Mathew 11:11 it is recorded that Jesus said of John: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist…”. John wasn’t perfect, he was a fallen human being just like you and I, but he did have unwavering integrity. What I mean by that is that when John was confronted with evil he called it what it was and made the remedy (repentance and godliness) known to the offender. His entire ministry surrounded repentance, and he couldn’t have had a ministry of repentance if that ministry hadn’t included calling out unrighteousness when he saw it. John didn’t decide who he would call on the carpet for their sin based on the repercussions to him. He once told off a group of Pharisees for their hypocrisy. We know from the account above that is recorded for us in both Matthew and Mark that John did not waver from telling King Herod of his sin. Sin was sin to John and he was going to point it out and the way to repentance and a renewed relationship with God regardless of the personal cost to himself. John took the charge found in Ezekiel 3:18 & 19 very seriously: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

So what am I saying? Should we beat people over the head with their sin? No, and I don’t think that’s what John the Baptist did either. The sheer number of people he was able to influence and the influential people like Herod who John almost got through to, indicates that though He was direct he must have also been seen as sincere and caring. People must have been able to see that his concern was for their very souls. That coupled with the fact that he was unwavering in his message, regardless of the personal price, caused people to want to hear what he had to say.

So if you want to be one of those people that others want to hear from, you don’t have to be a Wall Street tycoon like E.F. Hutton, you simply need to have integrity. You need only be consistent in your message. We can’t be good Christians on Sunday and then look and sound no different than anyone else on Monday if we want people to listen to what we have to say. Consistency and integrity and love are the keys. I know messages like this are not popular, few are willing to put themselves out there like John the Baptist did. But it is the only right thing to do. If you saw someone getting ready to do something you had knowledge would get them killed would you not out of a sense of concern for their very lives, try to warn them of the danger they were in? Would you remain silent in fear that if you spoke up they might tell you to mind your own business and not to judge them? Of course you wouldn’t. James 5:19,20 says: Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

So now, walking and speaking with integrity and love…go be awesome!

Blowing Our Minds!

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Blowing Our Minds!

Have you ever had your mind blown? If you are like me, it has happened countless times. Some of those you recall others you do not. Some were likely categorized as positive experiences, while others were filed in the not-so-much receptacle. Sometimes when our minds are blown it is such a powerful experience we want to go share it with somebody…anybody that will listen. Other times it leaves us a bit shell-shocked and we really just want to be alone with our thoughts.

Just uttering the term ‘Having our mind blown’ conjures up all kinds of mental images. There is even a well-used emoji to express to someone that what they have just shared with us has had that effect. What does the term mean? Certainly we are not trying to say that a literal explosion has just happened between our ears. That would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we have already agreed that it has happened many, many times. So what do we mean?  When I use the term, I mean that I wasn’t ready to consider whatever I find myself having to consider. That was a mouthful. What I mean is that if one of my grandkids ‘blows my mind’ they probably just did or said something I would not have expected them to say or do. If Pastor Rick ‘blows my mind’ he has likely revealed a truth or a concept from God’s word that I have not yet considered and would not have considered if Pastor hadn’t offered it up for thought. If my sweet wife has just ‘blown by mind’ she simply entered the room, or answered to a call of “Mrs. Brown…” It still ‘blows my mind’ that woman said yes when I asked her to marry me!

When people ‘blow our minds’ they have caused our mind to stretch beyond its normal limitations because they have said or done something beyond the expected. Though not a literal one, an explosion of thought has just taken place inside the realm of our consciousness. As Christ followers these “explosions” should be happening with regularity. In fact, I would say taking into account the after-shocks, our minds should be under a continual state of bombardment.

I believe there are two premises we need to get settled if we are to allow God to ‘blow our minds’ on a regular basis. First we have to understand that we don’t understand. What I mean by that is that we have to start from the position that we have not, do not, nor will we ever be equipped on this side of heaven to fully comprehend the word of God. God says of Himself in Isiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Did you hear that? As much higher as the heavens are than the earth…which part of the heavens is He talking about? Is He referring to the Troposphere that extends heavenward about 12 miles? Perhaps instead He is referencing the Stratosphere with goes farther upward to nearly 30 miles above the earth. Maybe God meant His thoughts were higher like the Mesosphere which reaches 53 miles above the planet, or perhaps it was the Thermosphere He had in mind when He made this statement to Isiah which would extend 372 miles above the earth. Maybe it was the exosphere or outer-space He was thinking of. Is your ‘mind blown yet’? The truth of the matter is the full depth God’s thoughts are out of reach for you and I. And yet, we are instructed to seek to know Him above all else.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 tells us: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. To whatever level we are able we are to seek to know the Lord, to know His word and to understand it as best we can…AND to welcome Him to ‘blow our mind’ as He further reveals greater and greater truth…even if it undoes something we thought we already had settled.

Second, we have to recognize that we are seeking to understand the Living Word of God. It is not stagnant; it does not simply have one application for its truth. It is truth that is always applicable. As our lives change, as other people around us ‘blow our minds’ (not necessarily in a positive way) and we find ourselves questioning everything. God’s word is that Living truth that we can run to for stabilization, for discernment, for understanding…for truth that will allow our reactions and responses to be grounded in godliness. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

 

Paul summed it up beautifully in Ephesians 3:14-21 where essentially he writes that he is praying that the mind of the reader will be blown. For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

 

So now, expecting and inviting God to blow your mind continuously…go be awesome!

Just Do It – May 27, 2021

Hi this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Just Do It

This slogan used by the Nike footwear company for many years was a very successful ad campaign. These three simple words sold a lot of shoes over the years. Why? Perhaps it was because most of us carry in our hearts and minds dreams of things we would like to do. Nike was able to use the presence of some of those dreams, and the often accompanying thought that we just don’t have what we need to make those dreams come true, to increase their sales. If you had a dream…and bought their shoes…you could ‘Just Do It’.

I am a bit of a woodworker and have built many pieces of furniture over the years, in fact as I have mentioned in past podcasts I actually did that as my vocation for a while. Though that business has been closed for many years now, I still carry the dream of building something I never have before…Windsor chairs. In preparation for the undertaking I did what I often do…I went to YouTube University. There I became familiar with one of the premier Windsor chair makers in America today. He is a gentleman by the name of Curtis Buchanan. Curtis has graciously documented on video every step of making a chair from choosing the trees all the way to applying the milk paint finish and lacquer. He not only describes the necessary actions one must take to build a chair, he also talks about other topics of interest to him as he instructs how to duplicate his craft. He is self-taught, and yet viewed as one of the best chair makers in the industry. During an interview I watched he was asked, “How did you go from being self-taught to being one of the most well-known chair makers of our time. His answer was simple, yet profound. In his southern drawl he said, “I don’t know if I am…but if it’s true I guess it’s just because I kept at it the longest”. In other words, Curtis didn’t let anything stop him…he just did it.

We all have dreams in our hearts and minds. I’m not talking about me making Windsor chairs or some young kid dreaming of being the next star running back in the NFL. I’m talking about those dreams of ministry, those dreams of ways you and I can love people. Some of those dreams are big ones and will require many resources to accomplish, some of them smaller in scope, but still requiring investment to make them come true. What makes some people able to realize their dreams while others never get past the drawing board? I know this…It’s not the shoes.

I think what differentiates those who see dreams fulfilled from those who don’t is ownership. Who owns the dream? Is it in your heart and mind because it is yours? If so, you need to find all of the resources to make it happen. You are responsible for setting all of the necessary steps in motion to see it come to pass. If I want to build that chair, I need to attain the knowledge, I need to buy the tools, I need to collect the wood, I need to dedicate the time and effort, I need to solve any problems that arise. If I do all of those things and stick with it as Curtis Buchanan suggests, then I can build my very own hand crafted Windsor chair. However, if I am not the owner of the dream, most of those aforementioned steps are someone else’s responsibility. So, if the dream’s author and owner is God’s Holy Spirit then all of that is on Him. I only have to…Just do it!

Pastor Rick says often, “If God has said it, it’s like money in the bank.” What he means is that if God puts a dream in your heart, on your mind, of a way to love others…Just Do It. God doesn’t ever simply drop a dream into our minds and then leave the logistics up to us…He has already made the preparations, all He needs from us is to…Just do it! Ephesians 2:8-10 in the New King James Version read as follows: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. God’s word is clear, in Christ we have been renewed so that we can do the good works, or in other words fulfill the dreams He puts in our hearts that God has intended all along for us to do. All you have to do? Just do it.

Allow me to read a few selected verses from John chapter 15 from the New Living Translation. Verses 5,7-8,16 & 17: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing… But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father… 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. I love this scripture because it points out that the dream isn’t mine or yours. We wouldn’t even have it, nor could we do anything about it if we were not connected to the vine. Because the dream comes through the vine, we can look to the vine to provide what is needed to see the dream come to fruition. This scripture concludes by reiterating, we were chosen to carry out the dream, the background work is already in progress. Anything we might imagine is necessary to carry out the dream can be requested of the owner of the dream and we are assured it will be granted. Philippians 4:19 confirms this: 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Again in 2 Corinthians 9:8 the point is made: And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

If God puts the dream in your heart, it is as good as done. It has been purposed for you to be the one to carry it out. There is no need to be overwhelmed by that. It’s His plan not yours, He will make the way. It is His plan, don’t try to hijack it. Do it His way, He has already been working in the background to make it happen His way. Just do it…and give Him all of the glory and praise. I will conclude today with Ephesians 3:20, 21 and allow the scripture to put the exclamation point on this entry.  20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

So now, recognizing who owns the dream, and who needs to…Just do it…Go be awesome!

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