Archive | July, 2013

Prayer and the Spirit World

27 Jul

Tomorrow we finish our study of Daniel.  What a life that guy lived!  For the past couple months, one of the postures we have seen Daniel take, time and time again, is that of kneeling in prayer.

Daniel is a Jedi master of prayer.  We’ll look at chapters 9 and 10, which play this out in very colorful fashion for us.

What kind of prayer did Daniel pray?  How did he do it?

How did God answer?

Do different intensities of prayer receive different responses from God?

Does prayer really make a difference?

And what might be of most interest of all is that connection of prayer to spiritual warfare.  Angels vs. Demons.  Are they for real?

What do you think?

Dreams and Visions

19 Jul

I admittedly gave Phil Bartelt a tough assignment this weekend.  Phil is preaching at Faith Church because I was at Dads-n-Lads camp with my son Jared at Twin Pines for the better part of the week.

Phil is preaching on four chapters in Daniel.  7, 8, 11, 12.  Check them out, and you’ll see why I called it a tough assignment.  Not only is it four chapters, the material is very, well, strange.  It is filled with dreams and visions, prophecies about the future.  That should come as no surprise to you if you have been following along with our study of the book of Daniel.  From the first chapter we learn that God blessed Daniel with the gift of interpreting dreams.  Then God gave the Babylonian kings some powerful dreams and visions which no one could understand except Daniel.

In these chapters, God and Daniel are at it again.

So it is four chapters, it is about dreams, but it is also about prophecy, the meaning of which scholars have debated for centuries.

And Phil is going to figure it all out for us!  😉

But I need you to prep for this sermon.  Read those chapters ahead of time.  Also read what Jesus had to say about prophecy and future times.  He talked about it in places like Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Acts 1:6-7.

People have at times requested that I preach about the book of Revelation.  This will come very close!

Civil Disobedience

12 Jul

Maybe you had to read Thoreau’s paper on Civil Disobedience in high school or college.  It is a transcendentalist classic work of American literature.  Here is a brief summary.

Have you ever practiced civil disobedience?  I’ve heard of people who rationalize not paying taxes. I’ve heard of people who try to pay their electric bill with private currency.  Imagine you’re a small business owner, and a customer tries to pay you with a bunch of gold coins. Liberty Dollars But they are not imprinted with the markings of the US Federal Reserve.  What would you do?  Many people believe that money in the USA should be based on the gold standard, so they buy gold and try to pay for things with gold.  It is an act of civil disobedience.  Some have been put in prison for this.

That’s what happened with Thoreau.  He disagreed with some government policies and decided not to pay taxes, so he was thrown in jail.  In our study of the book of Daniel, this coming Sunday we come to one of the most famous cases of civil disobedience in the history of humankind.  It involves bloodthirsty lions too!

Take a look at Daniel chapter 6.  Ask yourself, are there ways you need to be practicing civil disobedience?  How did Daniel do this?  Why?

How do you feel about job evaluations?

6 Jul

It is summertime, and among many other things we do every summer at Faith Church (like the 4th of July picnic at Long’s Park, VBS and summer camp at Twin Pines), we also do staff evaluations. 

Usually I bring along a ministry volunteer that serves with the particular staff member, and we talk with them about the previous year.  The Pastoral Relations Committee handles my evaluation.  Each member of the committee receives an eval form, they fill them out, return them to the committee Chair, who compiles them, and we all meet in August to talk it over. 

Anybody else dislike job evaluations?

Or are you strange enough to welcome them?!?!  Maybe you get excited for someone to tell you how you need to improve?  Or maybe you are so awesome at your job that your eval is perfect every year! 

Or maybe not…

Have you ever had one of those evals where you go into the meeting, and you get generally high marks for your job performance?  You’ve been a very good employee, and your boss wants to tell you that.  But they also feel they have to point out things that needed improvement, even if those areas are minor or far and few between.  Like they will somehow fail as a boss if they don’t at least give one or tow critiques.  Nobody is perfect, right?  There has to be something wrong.  Maybe you’ve been in one of those eval meetings that I’m talking about, and though you look at the official report they give you, and the report is glowing, you walk out of the meeting feeling like you just got kicked in the gut.  How do you feel about those job evals?

Then there are other kinds of eval meetings.  These are the ones you walk into confidently.  You are feeling good about the past year or past six months, and you feel like you’re about to hit a home run.  Instead, you strike out.  The job eval points out things in your performance that shock you.  You think “That’s not true!  That’s not me.  This must be a mistake, this must have been meant for someone else.”   But it was meant for you.  It was about you.  It is the truth.  

How does that feel?  How did you miss the truth about yourself?  How can you have a perspective about your job performance that was so misguided? 

Is it possible, as we look to Daniel 5, that the job performance scenario could be said about your discipleship to Jesus?