Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ice Cream Lessons

Today I enjoyed one of the good things in life. A vanilla ice cream cone, dipped in chocolate.


I had my first chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cone at a little roadstand burger joint between Lemoore and Armona in central California with my grandpa when I was just an itty bitty dude. Since that time I have been hooked. But as good as they are, and as much as I like them...well, let's just say that there is a time and place for them....and driving in the car while trying to merge onto the freeway is neither the time or the place.

If you've ever had one of these heavenly ice cream delights you will know exactly what I'm talking about and I bet you will be smiling as I describe to you what happened. If you've never had one, well, hopefully you will still get what this blog is going to be about, but you won't get the full effect.

Anyway, while driving and trying to merge onto the freeway, my delicious chocoloate dipped vanilla ice cream cone turned evil on me. It did what they always do, which is kinda cool when you're a ten year old boy eating at a picnic bench with your grandpa...but not so cool while trying to merge into traffic at about 65 miles an hour.

The ice cream began to melt and run down the cone....and then onto my hand...getting my hand all sticky. I tried to steer with my knees, while wiping my hand with a napkin...and then a big piece of chocolate broke off and fell onto my lap somewhere, so I looked down trying to find it.

Not a good idea.

There's a reason why you're not supposed to take your eyes off of the road.

While you are trying to find the chocolate before it melts and leaves a stain that will be there until Jesus comes back, the chocolate has moved from your lap to the seat and your car has just merged into the lane next to you while there is still a car occuping the lane next to you there. Now as we all know it is impossible for two cars to occupy the same must move...or the two cars will become as one...and that is not a good thing.

While all this is going on, and I'm still looking for the rapidly melting chocolate I happen to turn the cone upside down....and get some vanilla ice cream in my lap. So now here I am, a sticky, melty, chocolate mess, as well as a bit on edge having almost caused a pile-up on the freeway.

Thankfully, everything ended up fine. I finished the ice cream cone, the chocolate wound up on the floor mat, the ice cream in my lap was easy to clean up and some handi-wipes took care of the rest.

So what is the point of this blog...well, other than the very good lesson that you should not eat a chocolate covered vanilla ice cream cone while driving on the freeway?

The point is a little three letter word.


Yep. Sin.

You see, the chocolate covered cone is kind of like sin. It looks good. We've had it before and it tasted fine. But once the newness begins to wear (melt) off, you're left with a mess. And unlike the ice cream cone mess, you cannot make everything better with a handi-wipe.

In fact Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death..." And sin always pays its wages. Every sin we commit results in death. Death of trust. Death of health. Death of innocence. Death of a marriage. Death of relationships. Death of friendships. Death of a job. Death of life. And the worse....eternal death.

Sin looks good...and honestly, for a little while it is pleasing and pleasurable. But then the chocolate coating begins to melt...and it gets messy. One addiction leads to another. One lie leads to a lifetime of habitual lies. One broken relationship leads to a string of broken relationships and hardened hearts. What started out as pleasing and pleasurable winds up a mess.

You know one of the "funny" things about my chocolate covered ice cream story is that it was not the first time it had happened. I had done this before. But this time I told myself it would be different. I was more experienced. I was more mature. I talked myself into something that I knew from experience was a bad idea.

We do the same with sin. "One last time", we tell ourselves. "I can handle it this time", we say. "This time it will be different" we lie to ourselves.

Sin cannot be managed, excused, coddled, trivialized or played with. It must be dealt must be hated. It must repulse us. We need to move from being sin-sick to sick of sin.

And there is only one way to do that. The same verse in Romans that tells us that sin pays its wages also says, "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Oh man, you gotta love that! Eternal life!!! Wooo-hooo! Now there's something to shout about!

But how does that help us deal with sin in the here and now? Read it again...."but the gift of God is eternal life IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD." Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, once we have comitted to following Jesus with our lives, we are IN CHRIST...and not in sin. We have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to help us combat sin. We are no longer identified as sinners, but as children of God! I understand that we will still struggle with sin. We will even still sin...but we are no longer on sin's payroll. We have been forgiven and cleansed from our sin. While it is true that we will never be sinless before we are untied with Jesus, we will sin less. We are set free from sin. When sin calls, I don't have to answer the phone any longer. When sin comes knocking at my door I don't have to open it. I am so grateful to Jesus for this. It took me years to appreciate this part of my relationship with Him. But I am so glad that sin no longer has a hold on me. Thank you Jesus, for dying for me, for saving me, and for keeping me safe....even when I'm making a chocolate covered vanilla ice cream mess.

Ok, that's all for now.
Pastor Dave

Friday, April 9, 2010

God is God

I have been reading through the book of Isaiah the last few days, specifically chapters 42 through 55, and I've been working my yellow highlighter overtime. There is so much great stuff in this book. Of course, that could be said about every book in the Bible, but I guess that even though I have read Isaiah several times, this time it was different. This time, the place I am in my life, in my ministry, caused the Lord to use Isaiah in a different way.

I noticed that over and over again God keeps telling us that there is no one like Him. Chapter 43:11 "I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior." Chapter 44:6;8;22 "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god....Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any." Chapter 45:5-6 "I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God...I am the Lord, and there is no other...Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." Chapter 46:9 "...for I am God and there is no other, I am God, and there is none like me."

I have just begun to realize these past few weeks how much I put before God. There is NO ONE like the Lord...there is NO OTHER GOD...nothing and no one else offers salvation, peace, security and contentment. Maybe I should rephrase that last statement...lots of "things" offer salvation, peace, security and contentment...but God is the only one who can actually deliver on the offer. Everything the world has to offer will let us down...even our friends and family will let us down...but God will always be there for us. Our salvation is secure in Him.

So why do we chase after so much? Why are we a people who must be constantly entertained? Why does the average Christian spend more time watching televison in one day than they will spend in the Word of God all week? Why does culture and popular opinion shape our decision making process more than God?

We have so many Bibles to choos from in this country. Go to any Christian book store and you will find a variety of translations to choose from: KJV, NKJV, NIV, TNIV, ESV, NLT, The Message, The Living Bible, RSV, Amplified and more. On top of that, we have more "types" of Bible than you would ever think we need: There are Men's Study Bibles, Woman's Study Bibles, Army, Navy, and Marine study Bibles. You can choose from the Bible that looks like a magazine, or you can even pick up the comic book Bible. You can find a Bible that looks like a tennis shoe, a Bible with a metal case, and even the duct tape Bible! There are Bibles with special helps for single men and women, married couples, mothers, fathers, and new believers.

Sadly, the most common type of Bible you will find is the one that is not read.

We need to get back to the Word of God. We need preachers who will not follow the flavor of the day, the trend of the moment, the hottest thing on the market, but will open up the Word of God and feed it to their flocks!

The church chases after the things of the world and seeks advice from Oprah and Dr. Phil more than we do from Obadiah and the Apostle Paul! Why? Because our eyes are glued to the televison instead of having our nose in THE BOOK!

Why is it that we get all excited over a multitude of things, but can't muster up even a sparkle of excitement over the Word of God? I've seen Christians get more excited about getting a good parking spot at Wal-mart than they do about finding a life changing verse in the scriptures! I've seen Christians get more worked up over someone pulling out in front of them in traffic than they do about the reality of their friends and family members that are heading for hell!

Why are we not burning for revivial in the church today? Why are we not passionate for the lost? Why are not more of God's people on fire for the Lord? Because you cannot start a fire without fuel...and the Bible is the fuel, but it sits in the container instead of being poured out on the lives of believers where the Holy Spirit will then strike the match to start a blazing inferno!

After reading Isaih, I have been on my knees and face crying out to God for revival, for passion, for a downpour of the Spirit and to see a movement of God in my life, my church, my town, my state and my country.

God I pray that you will rend the heavens and ignite in your people a passion for YOU, for YOUR WORD and for the LOST....may your people begin to realzie that You are the Lord and besides You there is NO Savior.

In His service,
Pastor Dave