Friday, November 30, 2007

Top Ten Being Real Reasons

It's been a while since I did a Top Ten list, so I thought I'd do one that might possibly show up at the beginning of my lesson this next Sunday. We are studying and praying about Being Real in our desire to know Jesus and be like Him. So, this Top Ten is: You might Be Real about seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus if...

1. Your first "Good Morning" was to God!

2. You increased your church family giving rather cut back to help pay for Christmas gifts.

3. Throughout the day you keep reflecting on the passage of Scripture you read earlier.

4. You notice all kinds of things to be thankful for besides leaving work.

5. You don't mind the crowds at the Mall because it only reminds you of how God has blessed so many people (including giving you the time and money to go shopping).

6. You understand that loving one another is not an option - it's the reason we get together.

7. You know you can't have a relationship with God without talking to Him - so you do it often.

8. You're excited about the challenge to Be Real and not just "doing church."

9. You fasted and prayed to draw closer to God, not to be seen by others.

10. You're excited and looking forward to doing anything that will bring you closer to Jesus.

I actually wrote this the first time as Ten Reasons you might be Un-Real about seeking Jesus. I didn't like the negative points - even though they were somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Hope this finds you Being Real!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Myth Thanksgiving

There are few subjects that I have thought more about over the last several years than being thankful. I believe with all my heart that our decision to be thankful - with every beat of our heart - is the single biggest spiritual step we can make. Since we just got in from the birth of our new grandson the night before I presented this lesson (see previous blog), I had to be careful that I didn't become a blubbering grandad all through it as I reflected on how thankful I was. So here are the main points of what I shared.
Introduction: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the whole year. I grew up with it being important to our family. I still remember having to miss Thanksgiving when I went off to Georgia Christian in the seventh grade at the ripe old age of thirteen. That was a sad Thanksgiving for me. But it is a memorial feast, to remember our blessings, and not unlike the Jewish feasts of old or even the agape feasts of the new. Still, our view of thanksgiving is impacted by our culture and traditions. Here are some simple thoughts about the worldly vs. the godly view of thankfulness.
1. Thanksgiving is a holiday, but giving thanks is a way of life! (or should be)
A. It's hard to commercialize thankfulness - it fosters contentment and good stewardship.
B. It gives us great priorities, like family, friends, and good food, but it must be a heart matter not just an event.
C. Thanksgiving is the way Christians choose to look at life! Makes us spiritual adults. Look at 1 Thess.5:16-18 and see what God expects us to always do!
2. Thanksgiving is not just gladness and appreciation! (Dogs & cats can do that!)
A. It's a matter of building character. Character is controlling and defining needs. We always seek a higher value in life because we are seeking God.
B. Our Thanksgiving is recognizing and seeking God - our greatest choice!
C. It's all part of our journey in Him. 2 Cor.4:4-15
3. Thanksgiving (the heart not the holiday) is the foundation upon which every spiritual quality rests (and grows).
A. Faith comes from what you tell yourself. Thanksgiving is what you tell yourself!
B. Each fruit of the Spirit rests on being thankful - Gal.5:22-23
C. Thanksgiving is relationship cement! It holds together and builds every relationship from marriage and friendships to God and Jesus and His church. Relationships don't die when we choose to be thankful! We choose it and cause it! Look at 2 Cor.9:6-15 and think about how what we do causes others to be thankful. It's never just me being thankful!
Conclusion: Being real is being thankful. Being real must be a full time job. It's time to stop being part time with Jesus.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Number Five

As you can see in the above picture, I had better things to do last week besides blogging. This is our newest grandson, Curtis Michael, who was born around 7:00 P.M. last Wednesday evening. Elizabeth called us that morning telling us that the Dr. was sending her to the hospital. We threw stuff together and were on the road from Florissant by 11:30 and got the hospital by 5:00. Elizabeth looked really good when we saw her and, praise the Lord, had a fairly short labor. What a beautiful Day-Before-Thanksgiving gift. Chad, Elizabeth, Carter, and Ashlyn were all thrilled and excited. Nana and Papa were pretty excited too.
This is the next day, in Nana's lap, as Curtis discovers for the first time what a treat it's going to be to have Super Nana as a grand mom.

This is Curtis and Mom & Dad arriving home Friday morning. He was unimpressed with his reception committee.

Here is the whole NEW Milom clan in the basement of their home. We had a big Thanksgiving dinner Friday night that Nana made and it was soooo good. Who cares what day the world says Thanksgiving is supposed to be. We celebrate it 365 days a year!

Little miss moma couldn't get enough of her new little brother. She was so tickled to see a real, moving little baby doll. She soon began to realize that baby Curtis was going to require a lot of Mommy's attention and that will be a difficult adjustment for her to accept, but her excitement over Curtis will help offset that a lot - I'm sure. I'm glad that we got to be there for his arrival and help with the kids some. We are so thankful that God blessed us with another beautiful and healthy grand baby.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Myth Happiness

One of the biggest challenges in preparing this series of lessons on Sunday about Myth America Contest, has been dealing with the huge overlap between the topics. The myths about success, things, and happiness (just to mention a few) are nearly the same. Our culture has bombarded us with the lie that life is all about self, feeling good, and doing whatever turns you on. It's hedonistic, animalistic, and - because we want to believe it - it's seems realistic! These lessons all overlap because they are all about fighting off the world view of life and accepting the godly view of life. So that having been said, here are the main points I made in last Sundays lesson on Myth Happiness
A. Nothing defines our true character like what makes us happy. What does it tell us about our character. Happiness is a huge subject, but the simplified definition I give it is Happiness is basically fulfilling a need!
B. Our character comes from controlling & defining our needs. What are needs and what are wants? We all have physical, emotional, psychological, & spiritual needs - God given, but each can be ignored, neglected, or abused. Control = balance; Define = priorities! We must keep our balance in each, and be guided by proper priorities.
C. The world says "If it makes you happy, do it!" The MYTH is Happiness is all about ME! The IRONY is that we KNOW it's a lie, but lack of character makes us "Buy the Lie!" We buy it with two lies of our own: First, it's not so bad to be a little out of balance, and second, it's not so bad to have flexible priorities! We don't have values, we have restrictions! Does Rev.3:15-17 make you squirm?
D. Young people have such a hard time because it's the time in life when they are determining balance & priorities. It's always when they "Buy the Lie," especially the "It's not so bad" lies.
E. The truth about happiness is it's not about ME! Happiness is seeking God's balance & priorities and finding real joy!
1. Godly joy is nothing like worldly happiness!
A. Compare what world says to each of the "blessings" Jesus discussed in Matt.5:3-10. I contrasted each one.
B. God's balance and priorities = blessed = joy!
2. Godly joy is nothing like worldly happiness because they produce two completely different results.
A. Gal.5:19-21 "...those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God"
B. vs.22-23 Aren't these what we really want and need?
C. vs.24-25 Clear balance & priorities: "crucified passions and desires" = balance; "live by the Spirit" = priorities
Conclusion: What makes you happy? Relationships teach us that happiness is a bi-product of making others happy. Giving! Happens in life's school w/ family, friends, marriage, parenting, church family, etc. - learn the joy of giving. Real faith is making God happy - even if no one knows about it! His balance & priorities are always blessed. Look at Psalms 1 again.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So You've Seen Some Deer?

Several people have sent me this picture of this herd of deer under someones backyard trampoline. There is actually a series of several pictures of all these deer finding shade where they can. For several years I've been amazed at the number of people who report to me about all the deer they have seen in their neighborhood, at the ball field, crossing the road, standing in line at the store, or flying a fat guy in a sleigh around town. I suppose it's because they know how much I love bowhunting, and they are just trying to connect with me by talking about something that I'm interested in. But I don't think a lot of people really understand the point of bowhunting. It's not about "seeing" deer. I see plenty of deer. It's not as if they're buzzing me like flies, but I see some nearly every time I go hunting. If I were gun hunting, most of them would be well within range of a high powered rifle or even a shotgun, but I'm bowhunting for a reason. It's the challenge of getting close. I need my target (not the store) to be within thirty yards and preferably twenty (Donna would settle for a Target within fifteen minutes drive). Not only that, but I don't shoot every deer that walks within range. This year I started out the season intending to harvest (PC term for kill) a doe or two for our freezer, but then, well I saw a couple of the "Big Boys" in IL, where I've been hunting. So I've been holding out to get a chance at one of those big monster bucks I've seen. Just last week I had eight does within ten yards of my stand - all within easy bow range. They knew I wasn't interested in them. They were doing line dancing to an old Clint Black song right under my stand, just daring me to take a shot! They knew I was waiting for King Kong to walk out! They're mean animals I tell ya! So starting tomorrow, it's no mercy. I've got to get on with the business of putting some venison in our freezer, so those little cuties better be careful. I'm still looking for an IL buck with huge bone on his head, but it's time to show folks - yes, I've seen some deer too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Myth Things

"God's Smile"

The ring, in The Lord of the Rings, provided me with a great illustration of how things can be given way too much focus in our life (excluding all mystical powers of course). Achan, in Joshua 7, is a good example of someone being pulled by possessions with disastrous results for himself, his family, and all his other possessions. Solomon's wisdom, in Eccl.5:10-20, provided again the concept of balance, because he declared things a gifts from God to be enjoyed but not something to love and focus on. That's really the point isn't it? Things are only things! To love things is to get our priorities out of balance and even become guilty of idolatry. Here are some of the simple points about things that I shared in this lesson.

1. Things may bring moments of happiness, but not joy!

A. There is a huge difference between a thrill and contentment. In Phil.4:11ff, Paul said the secret what not a What, but Who!

B. Ask yourself some tough questions when you're seeking things. 1. Will it feel good or build good? 2. Am I seeking stimulation or improvement (esp. when shopping)? 3. Is this driven by wisdom or weakness?

C. Be Real: Does Jesus want us to have happiness or joy? Moments or life? Why do we keep pursuing happiness, especially when in Him we can fine eternal joy?

2. Things build ego not character!

A. i.e. the Rich Young Ruler, Luke 18:18-25, Jesus saw his heart.

B. Ego is driven by what we want others to think about us! Character is being real about pleasing God! (Even if no one else sees it!)

C. Be Real: Ego is superficial stuff! Character is integrity of the heart!

3. Things distract rather than clarify our focus!

A. i.e. the soils, Matt.13:22 = thorny ground was shallow, easily distracted by things.

B. Is it true that "It's more blessed to give than to receive"? Jesus said it is Acts 20:35

C. Be Real: Distraction of things is a huge reason why so many are half-hearted about seeking Jesus. Just look at how higher gas prices effects how we view our economy, our country, and our abundant blessings!

4. Things are temporary!

A. They rust, rot, and ruin! Them and us! Matt.6:19-21

B. Seen sign "Temporarily Out of Order"? Need signs on everything that read "Temporarily Working" because that's always true!

C. Be Real: How many things have you actually worn out? (Not counting underwear and socks)

5. Things become our master!

A. Didn't plan on it or want it, but obsession created it!

B. Matt. 6:24 Jesus was clear - CAN'T have two masters!

C. Be Real: The reason Jesus isn't your Master is there is no room in your heart for two masters!

Conclusion: I love The Lord of The Rings movies! I have all three. After seeing them several times, it dawned on me that it really could be called The Ring Is Lord!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who's Telling On You?

Discovery is totally dependent on what you're looking for. That is why we miss so much. No where is that more true than when we look a God's Word. It is so totally new every time I look at it because I'm not the same person who looked at the last time. I'm different, changing - with the help of God, being transformed into His likeness. I want to be real about that journey, so I see things I didn't see before and that makes the journey exciting, amazing, and scary.

Here's a discovery that knocked-my-socks-off spiritually. When you're in the Word looking for affirmation that our number one goal is to seek Jesus and be like Him as much as possible, you get hit with a passage like this (and how many times have you read it?): "Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord" And just what do you want him to do Paul? "HE WILL REMIND YOU OF MY WAY OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS, WHICH AGREES WITH WHAT I TEACH EVERYWHERE IN EVERY CHURCH." 1 Cor.4:16-17

I don't know whether to say "WOW!" or "OUCH!". First of all, how comfortable would you be asking everyone to imitate your walk with God? Would the people you know be better off spiritually if they were more like you spiritually? Would it bring them into a deeper relationship with Jesus? And who's telling on you? Are there people in your life who are witnessing to the exemplary way you live for Jesus? Are they proclaiming that your walk matches your talk? Paul's credibility in correcting their spiritual immaturity depended on them KNOWING that he not only knew Jesus, but he REALLY lived like Him. Is it important to "Be Real" about this personal relationship with Jesus stuff? Without it, all the doctrinal problems in the next twelve chapters were meaningless.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Myth Success

Part of last Sunday's lesson is actually in the previous blog. And since we will be out of town for the next three days, and I'm incredibly pushed for time as I try to get everything done today for the whole week - well - this will be a brief overview of last week's Myth America Contest - Myth Success.
In the story of the wealthy farmer, in Luke 12:15-21, Jesus is very clear about what worldly success is. This guy was all about possessions, abundance, bigger & better, security and easy living. Jesus said he was a fool! Death would own him that very night so what are all those things worth? His point was that we need to be rich toward God. That's godly success. So there's the conflict - worldly success vs. godly success - a problem for us all.
1. What is Worldly Success? (The list is long, but I picked out four.)
A. Impressing others = the "Wow Factor!"
B. Greed = "beware of all kinds of greed" like recognition, respect, power, winning, and just possessing things.
C. Temporary Toys = things that don't last or bring real quality or better relationships.
D. Ignoring the Ruby Slippers! Forgetting that we always have the ability to go home and refocus on the soul. Matt.16:26
2. What is Godly Success? Simply being rich towards God.
A. Honestly Seek Him - Heb.11:6; Phil.3:7-11
B. Lovingly Serve Him - serving is what those who love each other do!
C. Truly Sense Him - His presence is real. See all three in Acts 17:27-28
3. Which kind of success do we want as a church?
A. Are we about possessions, abundance, bigger & better, security, easy living?
B. Are we "Honest to God" in our desire to have a relationship with Him?
The rest of the lesson is roughly in the last blog. The shepherd's challenged the whole congregation to join then in a journey to find out what it means to BE REAL as individuals and as a church family.
Conclusion: In the hands of God!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I've been struggling for a lot of years with developing an authentic faith in God and a genuine desire to be like Jesus. I guess it's something that I'll never stop doing because it's what "seeking" is all about. I know first hand that you can preach it and teach it while (at times) not truly seek it! For the last several years, the two words that have been echoing in my heart, maybe because God keeps repeating it to me, are BE REAL. Well, to make a long blog short, for a long time I've wanted to ask my whole church family to BE REAL about seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus. I've clearly and forcefully said that in sermons and classes, but I've never asked my church family, starting with the shepherds, to confront what it means to BE REAL before we BE CHURCH. I know that's not grammatically correct, but I'm sick of "doing church" without ever asking ourselves "What can we do to REALLY build deeper relationships with Jesus?" We always start out with the usual, traditional, cultural, and expected "How can we do more of what we've always done and get BETTER results?" Is the question really, "How can we do church better?" or should it be "How can we become more like Jesus?" What would happen if a church family just forgot about all the "church goals" and "church plans" and "church budgets" and focused on BEING REAL about becoming more like Jesus? What would we really look like as a church if we looked like Jesus? What would we do differently?

We're doing it! Or at least we're going to try. For the next two months we are going to spend some extra time in prayer about how to BE REAL and then we are spending the first three months of 2008 studying and praying a lot more about how we can look and act like Jesus instead of being the church the world says we should be. I don't know where it will lead, but I'm more excited about this than anything else I've done in over three decades of ministry. Here's the tough question - the one every child of God needs to struggle with and act upon, and the question every church family needs to be helping every member confront - What is keeping me from truly being like Jesus? It's time for the people of God to start looking like Jesus, both individually and congregationally - and that needs to drive everything we do! What might happen to a church where every member was driven to be as much like Jesus as possible? I want to find out.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Take That Satan!

We had the biggest Trunk or Treat night ever this past Wednesday. After talking to John (The Head Cook) Young, and heard about how many hog dogs, chili, and popcorn was eaten, I feel we easily had between eight hundred and a thousand people come through the facilities. It was so wonderful to see so many folks from our community coming by to enjoy our alternative to Halloween and to see them truly appreciate the things we did for them. I really like the idea of something like Halloween being taken away from any ownership of Satan and used as an opportunity to share, have fun, and let people see a church family in action. And of course, one of the best things about it was all the kids getting to meet Dorothy as they walked in to enjoy the games or get some food. Donna is THE BEST ever kids greeter. She's an awesome Nana to our special four (soon to be five), but she's really a universal Nana to every child. She loves to see kids smile and learn things about God. Hundreds of children learned many Bible stories from her as they enjoyed her toddlers class through the years.

This is a visiting family getting the Dorothy/Donna treatment. She handed out the glow necklaces to the kids and they really loved it. Most people didn't even know she's been sick with allergies and colds-yuck-stuff all week too. I am very proud of all the hard work so many of our folks did that night. Of course, I'm partial to Dorothy - after all, there really is "no place like home."