Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Poem created from Isaiah 43 - God protects so that we might testify!


The following is a poem by Sarah Laney Long. She has talent and more of your work can be read at Sarah Laney Long.

My Only Savior

You gave me life, You created me
All for Your glory, The one who formed me in the beginning.
You summon me by my name, And I am Your claim
Promising that nothing Not fire, rivers, nor people, will harm me.

I am precious in Your sight, You say. And honored everyday.

You tell me You love me, Promising to exchange men for me.
And people in exchange for my life, me.
How can I be afraid, when You are always with me?
You demand for me to be free.

I was chosen by You, To humbly serve You.
So others may believe, That You are the Majestic, He
The Father of all things, Yes, and from ancient days, You are He.

You are my only Savior.

(Based from Isaiah 43) SarahLaney Long

Thank you, Sarah for the reminder. God Bless, Don

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trouble, Hardship, Struggles, Persecution, and any other hard thing!


"I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God." Isaiah 43:11-12

Dr. Carl Bridges of Johnson University taught in one of the main sessions last week's 2012 Homecoming on Isaiah 43. He taught us that in verses 1-7, God is speaking to the Israel nation in the singular voice. God promises he will put the welfare of his people above all other things. This is the case in that as an Old Testament promise...Jesus would come. In verses 8 and following the case turns to a plural and that is the clarification for God's protection. He protects us so that we might be God's witnesses to all the world.

The same God that rescues the Israel nation of the Old Testament is the same God that rescues us. He is a God that rescues in so far as and so that the one being rescued will serve as God's witness in the world. It is God that rescues and protects us in trouble but doesn't promise to keep us out of trouble. Keeping us out of trouble would not demonstrate his power over trouble. Just as a quarterback of a major football team never takes his eye off of the ball after it is thrown even when players are pounding in on him in every direction, the Christ-follower is to never take his/her eyes off of Jesus even when trouble is pounding in on us in every direction.

He is a great and mighty God that prevails in every circumstance. His protection is given in the proclamation that He will prevail. Therefore, we can take heart and wisdom in knowing we do not have to fear.

Thank You Dr. Bridges for the reminder and the great teaching. We do serve a great God!

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 20, 2012

Claim, Proclaim, Acclaim!


Psalm 89:14-15: "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD."

DEFINITIONS

Claim:
VERB:
1.
to demand by or as by virtue of a right; demand as a right or as due: to claim an estate by inheritance. 2. to assert and demand the recognition of (a right, title, possession, etc.); assert one's right to: to claim payment for services.3. to assert or maintain as a fact: She claimed that he was telling the truth. 4. to require as due or fitting: to claim respect.

NOUN:

5. demand for something as due; an assertion of a right or an alleged right:
He made unreasonable claims on the doctor's time. 6.an assertion of something as a fact: He made no claims to originality. 7. a right to claim or demand; a just title to something: His claim to the heavyweight title is disputed. 8. something that is claimed, especially a piece of public land for which formal request is made for mining or other purposes. 9. a request or demand for payment in accordance with an insurance policy, a workers' compensation law, etc.: We filed a claim for compensation from the company.
Proclaim:
VERB:
1. to announce or declare in an official or formal manner: to proclaim war. 2. to announce or declare in an open or ostentatious way: to proclaim one's opinions. 3. to indicate or make known publicly or openly. 4. to extol or praise publicly: Let them proclaim the Lord. 5. to declare (a territory, district, etc.) subject to particular legal restrictions.

NOUN:
6. to make a proclamation.
Acclaim:
VERB:
1. to welcome or salute with shouts or sounds of joy and approval; applaud: to acclaim the conquering heroes.
2. to announce or proclaim with enthusiastic approval: to acclaim the new king.

NOUN:
3. To make an acclamation ( defs. 1, 2 ) .


Are you claiming? Are you Proclaiming? Are you Acclaiming? The power of God in your life so that His throne that is established and founded on righteousness and justice will bring you love and faithfulness? It is the truth we gain in knowing and claiming Jesus as the Lord of All!!!

You know I love ya, Don

definitions taken from: Dictionary.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Got deleted...but still being heard!


Acts 8:4-8 - "Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds HEARD Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city"

I found a great article with some very recent statics on how to be heard by Ed Stetzer. This is an excerpt...
Shout to the Neighborhood, Or Speak to Your Neighbor?

In December 2008, LifeWay Research conducted a survey of 15,000 adults for the North American Mission Board to try to determine which of 13 approaches is the best-received when a church wants to be heard.

The best-received means of “marketing” one’s church is the personal invitation. The survey found that 67 percent of Americans thought a personal invitation from a family member would be at least somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church. Additionally, 63 percent said they would respond favorably to an invitation from a friend or neighbor.

Nearly two-thirds would be willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member, while 56 percent would be willing to receive similar information from a neighbor or friend.

What About Advertising?

Trailing by a good margin is the reception Americans give to various forms of media advertising. Those who said they were somewhat willing or very willing to receive church information via newspaper ads stood at 46 percent; radio ads rated 41 percent, while television ads were at 40 percent. Outdoor advertising came in at 46 percent, and 45 percent viewed letters mailed to the home positively. How many think such ads would be at least somewhat effective at getting them or others to follow through and visit a church? About 20 percent less than invitations from family or friends.

Even “new media” efforts prove ineffective among most Americans. Only 30 percent say email would be at least somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.

Still, the revolution that has occurred in social media since 2008 [nearly half the U.S. population is on Facebook] has changed the church communications landscape. A LifeWay Research study in September 2010 sponsored by Digital Church partner Fellowship Technologies found 47 percent of Protestant churches actively use Facebook today. The study found that 62 percent of churches use social networking tools for “interacting with individuals outside of the congregation.” We do not know what will be the next great social media revolution, but it will once again challenge the church to rethink how to interact effectively and contextually with our neighbors.

Regardless, a critical lesson for us is that marketing and media efforts help but can never replace personal relationships. Marketing while ignoring relationship is inappropriate at best and possibly even unhelpful.

For more information click the link - Outreach Magazine.

Speak the words you speak with intentionality. The world is listening...what are you saying?

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 13, 2012

Engaged? Things we don't hear a preacher say.....


Park Chapel had a tremendous weekend we titled "Global Impact" weekend over the past few days. In the church I grew up in, we called it a Missions weekend. Powerful testimonies of missionaries would be on the preaching schedule to preaching to the congregation and give us listeners words to inspire and encourage us to engage in ministry. I remember some wonderful weekends of workshops, games, FOOD (always a potluck) and then on Sunday we would worship in song, preaching, prayer, fellowship, and breaking bread.

We would often go to other sister church revivals or mission Saturday events. We had one church we would go to and at the end of the service the preacher always gave an alter call. I am not talking about an time of invitation, but an alter call. He would say, "Every head is bowed and every eye is closed. If there is anyone that needs Jesus, would you slip your hand up. Just slip that hand up. No one will know and I will pray for you. Is there anyone that would like to meet Jesus just put your hand up." He would go on like this for 15 minutes. As a teenage, I was often at the organ playing as the guest organist because I was willing to play more of the contemporary choruses. My eyes could not be closed and I would glance out to the crowd and I never saw any hands. Then the preacher would say, "I see that hand...yes, I see that hand...yes, sister I see your hand and will pray for your need....and on and on and on."

I was thinking what would have happened if instead of saying, "I see that hand," what if the preacher said;
"Put that hand down, James, everyone knows you don't mean it."
OR
"Put that hand down Betty and stop being such a gossip. You're killing the Spirit in this place."
OR
"Put your hand down Don, everyone knows your providing half the county with drugs."
OR
"Put You hand down Roberta, and put some clothes on for once."
OR
"Put that hand down John, your just going to cheat someone out of more money tomorrow."
OR
"Get a grip Jess, and put that hand down. You could care less about God."
OR
"Put that hand down Steve, your hand was up last week and look how serious your were about that.
You get the idea. I wonder if there would have been more revival in that place instead of more complacency. I am so thankful, that was not our church. Our preacher was sincere, authentic, and genuine. He and his wife were well aware of our faults. He understood there was no need to guilt us to the alter every week because he opened the word of God to us in a well prepared sermon and God had made us well aware of our faults. Yes, there was a time of invitation, but it was for prayer, repentance, and receiving individuals that wanted to know Jesus. Guilt was never part of the equation and that is probably why I feel so compelled to be a minister and preacher today.

Karen and I want to be engaged in what God has laid out for our lives. He has given us a calling for Children with special needs and specifically children with Down syndrome. We are not climbing the mountain of India, or traveling into closed Muslim countries, or even washing the wounds and feeding the hungry in Africa. God has called us to minister to people with special needs and their families. He has called and equipped us to add two boys with Down syndrome into our family. He has engaged us to be His people on the front lines of isolation, fear and neglect.

I know He is willing to do the same for you. All you have to do is ask..."yes, I see that hand and I will be praying for you." You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being a good Reader


In order to read well, you must learn to ignore yourself. You must remember that the text is not about you. That you are reading it in order to get something from it, ultimately from its writer. Who, if he/she is doing his/her job right, is working for you, for your benefit.

The next step is to become more conscious of the whole reading-writing dichotomy. Every text is produced by an actual writer (a real person), who in the act of writing automatically places in the text a version of him/herself, the implied writer (a persona or role played by the real person writing). What may not be so obvious at first is that the implied writer automatically creates a mirror image of another persona, the implied reader, which the actual reader reading the text in question is implicitly asked to play. This complex interaction between real persons playing roles both in the act of writing and in the act of reading should get a special lift in our understanding as we reflect on the fact that the Latin origin of the modern English word "person" is persona, meaning "mask," originally a hand-held mask that actors on the classical stage used to cover their faces with while playing their roles. Both writing and reading are, in fact, acts - that is, roles that writers and readers voluntarily take on. (taken from, "The Art of Reading" by Steven C. Scheer)

Every time we open a scriptural text we must understand these two rules. Consider Matthew 26:6-13. "While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked, 'This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor?”

"Aware of this, Jesus said to them, 'Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her'.”

Who is the implied author? The answer is the Apostle Matthew. There is some discussions as to if Matthew truly wrote the Gospel and what sources he used, but for our point in this short blog post, we are can be assured that Matthew is the author. Who is the implied reader? The implied reader would be Jewish Christians living in the Palestinian region while under Roman occupation. There are terms used to suggest their knowledge of the culture and surroundings was good. So, when Matthew records the above story of Jesus' being anointed, we can be the implied reader and join in their knowledge of Roman occupation, the awareness of the poor, the arrogance of the religious leadership, and that Jesus was going to die.

It is important for today's students of the scripture not to read into scripture facts or actions that are not there. Making this mistake is easy to do when we read ourselves as the implied reader. In the scriptural example above, we could read into the text a lack of compassion for the poor. Jesus is telling us that we will always have the poor. Yet, is that what Matthew is recording and teaching? Absolutely not! A good student knows that the are other texts that teach a Christ-follower is to be a servant and to serve the poor. The implied reader or the reader that text is intended for has an understanding that Jesus was going to die in just a short while and that what the woman did by pouring the perfume on Jesus was preparing him for His death. We don't typically pour perfume on our dead, yet in the culture of the text, there was not embalming or refrigeration. Perfume covered the smell of death. What the woman was doing we making a statement of faith, submission, and love. She was a sinner and she is anointing the One who would restore her and forgive her of those sins.

With careful study and appropriate dedication to the implied author and the implied reader, today's student can gain insights that are relevant and essential to the application of God's word. We study to show ourselves approved by God. We also hone our skill through committed and regular study of techniques around us.

"Almighty God, work with in us and guide us by your Spirit as we study your revealed scriptures. Help us to remain faithful to you and give us eyes to seize every opportunity to be the Christ-followers we desire to be. We make it our goal to please you...grant us the understanding to do so. In the name of the Anointed One. Amen."

For more study on "Anointed" check out: http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp129.htm

You know I love ya, Don


Monday, February 6, 2012

The Super "Bowl" that set it all in motion!


"Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, 'We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey'.”- Exodus 24:5-7

Indianapolis hosted the 2012 Superbowl. It has been a fantastic thing to watch. I did not go down to the city, but the news reports, facebook pictures, and general enthusiasm around our community has been a true treat. I have never been too much of football fan, but since we have moved to Indy, we watch the Colts play and generally enjoy the sport. This year has been even more so because of the Superbowl location and with Eli Manning playing with the Giants in the big game.

I was thinking about bowls and asking, "how does God see bowls in scripture?" Of course, it is not the huge gathering of people, the festivities of the games, or the arena of watching top athletes at their skills. So, I looked up the meaning of "bowl" and found in sports it is, "A bowl-shaped stadium or outdoor theater." It was in these large stadiums final competitions or championship games would be played. Thus, we see the evolution of the final games receiving title of a "bowl" game because everyone would go to the huge bowl shaped stadium to watch the game.

God used bowls throughout scripture, but there is no reference to a stadium or Colosseum as a bowl. Yet, there was a very specific bowl that Moses used to establish the redemptive process. In Exodus 24, Moses fills bowls of blood from the sacrificial bull and divides the blood in two sections. The first half he sprinkles on the burning alter. The other half he sprinkles on the people. Why? God requires the redemption of unrighteous through the sacrifice of blood. The Old Testament sacrifices were offered as that appeasement. All this was to demonstrate through the Law there was no hope of redemption, but through the Son of God, clean and without sin, Jesus would be a perfect offering in order to stand in the place of sin.

Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. He was sacrificed in our place so as to bring a restored relationship with our creator. Our sin and unrighteousness had separated us from a perfect and loving God. Yet, God is so holy, He cannot look upon sin and a sinful person cannot have connection with His Holy Spirit. In faith, we ask Jesus to forgive us, we receive his love and confess our sin along with our sinful nature. We seal that commitment in joining with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection through baptism. He responds by granting us His Holy Spirit that enters us and dwells within every sincere Christ-Follower.

In the end....all the actions and living from above is truly a Championship game. Thus, a super "bowl" that Moses used to hold blood established and put into motion the final results of Jesus on the cross and our ability to choose an eternal relationship with God. So, as I see it, it is the most super bowl ever and I am thankful for Superbowl 2012 in Indianapolis. I am thankful for the reminder of how much God truly loves me.

If you would like more information or would like to learn how you can be forgiven of your unrighteousness, I would welcome the opportunity to join in a discussion with you. My email address is dcrane@parkchapel.org.

You know I love ya....Don

P.S. - Congratulations to the New York Giants!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Defining Moment!


Micah 6:8
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."

Our good deeds define us in who we are as believers. Benevolence, missions, evangelism, worship, and study of God's word are the means a Christ-follower's strength in the name of the God is demonstrated to those around them. How you handle yourselves in those arenas define how precious Jesus is to you. You have no choice but to humbly give of yourself so that others might see the good deed and glorify God.

School Teachers – must think of their students firsts
Students – think of your teacher first.
Business People – must think of their clients first.
Clients – must think of their cohorts first.
And so on......
Every person on this planet is on display. A Christ-follower's display is held to a higher standard. This standard is not set by the world watching, but by the submission we owe to God and His Son for saving us and giving us a hope and a future. Thus, neighbors, enemies, family and friends – all must see your good deeds as a Christ-follower. The task at hand is accomplished in being engaged for God's Kingdom. He doesn't leave us alone but gives us Himself in the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. So, we can act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God by being engaged.

You know I love ya...be engaged! Don