Thursday, October 13, 2016

Washout to Breakthrough

I have been preaching on Breakthrough, and how God uses various means to break through to us. We can't take those steps of faith when we are stuck in a rut. We don't grow when we are not stretched.

With the major flooding in eastern NC, people are responding with kindness and generosity. Mobile feeding stations provide hot meals; trucks loaded with supplies bring hope; one store offered to fill propane tanks for free.

But I was surprised to see another perspective on this disaster in today's News and Record. The story quotes Lumberton resident Keira McGirt saying, "Lumberton needed this. We needed this to come together as a city." The town has struggled for centuries as black, white, and Indian residents have worked through racial tensions. This 23-year-old mother believes her city can do better.

The town has flooded before, but this may be the worst on record. Now, people have to work together to rescue the stranded, to care for the elderly and young, to find ways to prepare food, to obtain clean water. Working together brings healing. Our differences become trivial when we are united for survival.

This could become a Breakthrough moment for Lumberton. Fellow residents become friends, neighbors become co-laborers. The town can break through with a new spirit of cooperation, a new attitude about others, a new faith in God who brings them together. I pray that the Spirit of God works powerfully to change hearts there.

Right now, they need some of what we've got--like clean water and clean clothes. So this Sunday we are collecting cases of water bottles, packages of new socks, and boxes of baby wipes. We will deliver them on Sunday afternoon to those who need them.

But right now we need some of what (apparently) they have got--a powerful trust in God, a spirit of loving one another, a determination to make a difference.

We all need a Breakthrough of some kind. A flood of water can bring a flood of prayer; and that can bring Breakthrough to our souls.

May the power of Jesus Christ overwhelm this hurting city. May God break through to them and to us.

Image result for flood in lumberton

Friday, October 7, 2016

Politics: The Most Persuasive Liar

The airwaves reek of campaign commercials. Candidates love to say that their opponents are lying. They try to find any vote or sound bite that will make the opponent sound untruthful or extreme.

This is Tim Keller, not a politician. I did not have
a picture of a politician speaking.
Generally there is a kernel of truth in the charges, but far too often, the "facts" are devoid of context. Candidates try to counter the accusations with equally outrageous accusations.

We all know that mudslinging in a campaign goes with the territory. They only sling mud because it works. Enough people in the public buy the lies that elections are won and power is delegated based on untruths.

Think about it: the candidate who wins is typically the candidate who is the most persuasive liar.

We keep falling for the lies and government becomes more and more corrupt.

Can't we choose leaders on the basis of honor, truth, and good will?

They say that a nation has the government that it deserves. That's a scary thought.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Real Power of Martin Luther King

As our church prayed last Sunday for racial reconciliation in our country, someone mentioned the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I suddenly realized how blessed we are that he, and not a voice of violence, rose to such prominence in the 1960s civil rights movement.

Revolutionary leaders have emerged in other countries, calling for vandalism and armed rebellion to throw off oppression. But in America, we are blessed--more than we can imagine--that Dr. King is our nation's conscience for equality.

Even now, 50 years later, civil rights leaders look to the example of Dr. King for inspiration. Think of the powerful principles he embodied.

King firmly believed that might doesn't make right. Right makes right. King called us to recognize equality because it is right in the eyes of God. His peaceful resistance spoke truth to power.

King applied the gospel of Jesus Christ to the problem of racism. This gospel demands that the oppressors repent, and it empowers the oppressed to forgive. Only through such changes of heart can healing begin.

The methods of King, inspired by Jesus, kept the tensions from spiraling into civil war. Protesting for equality with peaceful but defiant actions forced our nation to repent.

Yes, things have gotten better, but we have a long ways to go.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Out of Gas

What do you mean we are out of gas? How can that be? There's no oil shortage.

Suddenly we evaluate every trip we make. We wonder if we can find fuel at our destination.
I can think of a few errands I could run, but I really want to preserve my fuel. My process of evaluating has changed.

I see again how much I take for granted. I never really thought about where this gas comes from. It comes out of hose at any gas station. I had no idea that we rely on a pipeline that covers 11 states, from Texas to New York.

Yesterday I went to three gas stations before I found one with fuel.

One leak in one pipeline puts a serious cramp in our daily lives. Turns out, we can't imagine life without gasoline.

What else is essential to life for us? And is gasoline essential? I'm just glad this is not a food shortage.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Why We Need a Breakthrough

We all need a breakthrough. Life is more than survival and accumulating things. God can break through to us so that we see what really matters, what life is really all about.

This is why you need a breakthrough:

  1. This broken world is a closed system, except for the revelation and intervention of God.
  2. Unless something jars us into new ways of thinking and doing, we will march on mindlessly in our daily drudgery.
  3. Drudgery leads to an unfulfilled life of regret.
  4. Life's interruptions are times when God can break through to us.
  5. These interruptions can wake us up to a better life, if we are tuned in to Jesus.

We need breakthroughs regularly in life. Life gets better when we get better (says motivational speaker Brian Tracy), and we can't really get any better without taking life to the next level. Those life leaps take place when God breaks through to us.

In our Breakthrough series, beginning this Sunday, we will learn to find and harness those Breakthrough moments of life!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Stranger Things" and Thin Places

I'm not a big binge-watcher, but I watched the whole first season of Stranger Things in about a week. Okay, there are only eight episodes, so that's barely more than one per day. To call that binge-watching is like calling Hurricane Hermine a thunderstorm.

But Stranger Things depicts a reality that's right here, but in another dimension. Researchers in the story have opened a portal to this underworld, dubbed "Upside Down" by the main characters. Other portals to this hidden world appear and disappear as the story unfolds. No one knows when, why, or how these portals open, but they provide glimpses and gateways into this dark reality.

Back to the real world. There is another dimension to this reality, a spiritual dimension. We encounter this dimension on some rare occasions in our lives. A mother senses something significant about her child--an accident, an illness, a broken heart. All alone, we feel like someone is watching us. Coincidences occur, as if someone is writing a story. We stare up into the night sky and know that there is meaning in the universe.

The realm of the supernatural sometimes bleeds over into this natural world. Many have declared that certain places lend themselves to encounters with the supernatural--cathedrals, caves, mountain tops. The Celts referred to these locations
as "thin places." There the veil between the natural and the supernatural is so thin that we can almost see through it. The supernatural is here, in our midst, and sometimes we sense it.

There are thin places that do not depend on location. In conversation, we sense something about the other person, something they have not said. In personal or corporate worship we feel the weight of God's presence. God reveals deep truth to us about ourselves or about a relationship. In prayer, the typical static from heaven becomes high definition conversation.

In thin places, heaven touches earth. God reveals himself. He gives us a glimpse into the deeper truths of reality. The closer I come to him, the more thin places I experience.

We need him to break into our lives. We all know it. And he eagerly desires to show his glory.

Our Breakthrough series begins on September 18.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Breakthrough Series

Stuck in a rut? Need a miracle? Ready for something MORE?

You need a Breakthrough. Join us at Crossroads for our new series, beginning September 18.

Every week we will see how breakthroughs in history mirror the way God breaks through to our hearts.

Pardon the Interruption, September 18
Our world is a closed system, except that God breaks in and shows us truth. His supreme breakthrough was coming to live on earth with us. As he breaks in, he reveals reality to us! See John 1:14.

A New Mind, September 25
Our thought patterns are twisted and corrupted, even though we don't realize it. God reveals our faulty thinking and helps us live in the truth. See Romans 12:2.

Better Lenses, October 2
We see reality through our own lenses. Everybody's view of the world is distorted, and we need God's perspective to see people as they truly are. See Acts 10:9-47.

Discipline, October 9
Some breakthroughs require effort over time. Persistence in spiritual discipline brings deep personal development. We don't always see it right away. But if we believe that discipline pays off, we can stick with it and find breakthroughs. See Proverbs 1:1-7.

New Challenges, October 16
Life is full of new challenges, and new challenges are opportunities for breakthrough. See 1 Timothy 1:3-7.

New Friends, October 23
It is easy to label groups of people, but if we get to know individuals, we can have a breakthrough of understanding. See Philemon 1-25.

New Reality, October 30
When circumstances radically change, we have to adapt. Our new way of handling reality can bring breakthrough. See Acts 1:12-14.

Hearing the Spirit, November 6
God leads his people through his Spirit, even today. Rather than groping in the dark, we can live with confidence and assurance, following the Spirit. Now that's a breakthrough! See Acts 8:26-29.

Being Childlike, November 13
Children see the world through eyes of wonder. Adults learn how to take things for granted. But the adult who breaks through the layers of cynicism and boredom can really live! See Matthew 18:3.

The Power of Beauty, November 20
Exposure to beauty actually changes us . . . for the better. God's beauty has supernatural power to transform us. See Psalm 27:4, 8.