To Die Must Be a Gain

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Here’s a great test of your faith: What are you living for? What are your biggest aspirations in life?

If it is anything other than “Christ” you are off. Obviously, “to live is Christ” can look different for different people. Paul is not calling us all to mimic everything he has done, go to all the places, write all the same stuff and talk to all the same people, etc.

Many gifts in the One Body. Here is how you test your life direction, follow it with the second part of this verse. Does it make sense? For example:

“For to me to live is saving a million dollars and to die is gain.”

How is dying going to gain you anything toward that goal?

“For to me to live is gardening and to die is gain.”

How does dying bring gardening gains?

“For to me to live is leadership and to die is gain.”

In other words, if your life direction is based on earthly power, prestige, or gain of anything earthly, dying is not going to gain anything in that direction. However, if what I’m doing is for Christ, heaven, eternity dying will only benefit me and bring me great gain!

Cool. Thanks to G. Campbell Morgan for the idea.

Spiritual Service is Tough Even for Spiritual People

People often joke that some Christians act on the premise “if you’re laughing you must be sinning.”

Although I wouldn’t go that far, I would throw out a caution that if your flesh is totally enjoying something, odds are, you’re in pretty good sin mode.

At the same time, if you are not fully enjoying what you are doing, odds are you’re getting pretty close to spiritual activity.

I have heard many times people make assumptions that since I’m a pastor I must really like serving people, visiting people, studying, praying, working with kids, etc.

Now I will say this, I enjoy these things more than I used to, but still, much of my flesh is in outright rebellion while partaking in these activities. The idea that “spiritual” people absolutely love doing spiritual things and that’s why they should do them, is goofy.

This usually gets taken further that “I will wait until I enjoy these things before I do them.” Good luck on that one.

Doing spiritual things is a struggle for anyone’s flesh I don’t care how many gifts you have or don’t have. The Bible tells us what is right and we are supposed to do it whether we find it enjoyable or not. Period. The end.

“The man who does as he likes is the greatest slave. The man who never does as he likes is God’s free man.”
–G. Campbell Morgan

Desiring Leadership is Wrong

It bugs me that leadership get so much attention in supposed “Christian” circles. We are sheep following our Great Shepherd. There should be more books on following than on leading.

But alas, new leadership books come out each week telling us the REAL secret to leading idiots.

Matthew 23 blasts religious types and particularly their head honchos. Jesus warns them to not desire special treatment as bigwigs, not even special names. We all jump on the Catholics on this one as Jesus clearly says not to be called “father.”

But lets go ahead and jump on evangelicals too.

“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”

This is the only time this Greek word for “masters” is used in the New Testament. It means a guide, or, ah-hem, leader. In fact, look at the NASB, “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”

The verses continue to say to seek out humility and serving, not leading people. If only we actually did what God said. And don’t fall for this “servant leadership” garbage either. Doing stuff for others so I can control them is hardly what Jesus has in mind.

Sitting Idle

“How can you sit idly by while the world falls apart?”

Well, God is.

God seems to let things play out, run their course without intervening to stop genocide, human trafficking, abortion or many other ills. God said to Abraham “the sin of the Amorites is not yet full.” There’s more sin they need to be allowed to do.

Revelation tells unjust people to keep being unjust and righteous people to keep being righteous.

God’s wisdom on this issue is way past ours and yet how arrogant we assume we are with our ability to stop sins even God does not stop.

The job of the man of faith is to sound the alarm, to give the warning. The man of faith is never told to make people stop doing things. He is never told to freak out at the awful condition of our world. We speak the truth and show the love of Christ to the neighbor nearest us at the moment.

The sin of the world will continue until God puts an end to it. Be more concerned about the sin of your own life and your faithfulness in carrying out God’s Word. Fear not, God still runs the joint.

Pain in the Neck Church Members

“Don’t expect to be carried! I want to tell you that the churches are altogether too full of perambulator [British word for baby carriage] Christians–men and women who have to be nursed and coddled by the ministers to keep them there at all; men and women who say, “If you don’t call, then I am going.” Oh go! Give us a chance!”

–G. Campbell Morgan

Leaven of Pharisees and Sadducees

Theology can be a very tacky subject. It gets down into the nitty-gritty, dealing with Greek and grammar and big words with intricately worded definitions. Some people avoid this stuff because it seems as if it only brings argument and disagreement.

I understand that and I agree. At the same time, it has to be done. Although it may appear that we are spending way too much time addressing a minor detail of a “minor” doctrine, one slip up in one spot can have disastrous effects in other places.

If you switch one detail of your understanding of say, the old and new nature, it can lead to a change in your view of sanctification, justification, the work of Christ, the divinity of Christ, the relation with Adam, indwelling sin, etc. It changes everything just because you slipped up on one “minor” point.

Therefore, it is necessary to examine things, to get into the nitty-gritty and figure out truth. One drop of leaven can spoil the whole loaf. It’s amazing how quickly error can spread and how quick the flesh seems to be in picking it up and running with it.

I understand this may not be for everyone and I get why it makes people uncomfortable, but don’t forget the necessity of testing the spirits.

“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
1 Corinthians 11:19

A Test of Your Faith

Our underlying assumptions about Christianity reveal much about the depth of our faith. I want to give you two options, which one is more palatable to you.

1) God does everything for Himself
2) God does everything for you

When they are boiled down like that we, no doubt, pick number 1. However, when we examine the content of most Christian conversation we know it’s really number 2.

Most talk amongst Christians is about how God healed this, God needs to help me sell my house, pray that I get this job, etc. It’s not about God doing anything for Himself at all, it’s all about getting God to do stuff for me.

In fact, most people revolt at statement 1 because it makes God look like an ego-maniac, a proud, arrogant, power hungry dictator. However, if God does everything for us, well, that’s love baby! That’s what I’m talking about!

Yeah, so which is it? The answer makes an awful lot of difference in our understanding of faith, life, the Bible and all else.

Christianity is Not About You

The only name in “Christianity” is “Christ.” It’s about Christ, not you.

How easily this notion is dropped. Christianity becomes about my best life now. Or how great we must be that God thought we were worth dying for. Or how to pay off your mortgage in 12 months by following God’s plan for your house. Or how you can defeat this or that sin, etc.

It’s not about you, it’s about Christ.

But what about God loving the world and coming to save sinners? Isn’t that about us? In a way, yes, it certainly involves us. But it’s not about us, it’s about Christ.

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

We were saved not just because of God’s love for us, but because, before we were made and before our world was even made, the Father loved the Son. It’s all about the Son.

The Bible centers on Christ. Every man who shows up in the Bible pictures an aspect of Christ or is a metaphor that reflects the Son. We are most glorified when we are glorifying the Son.

It’s not about you, it’s about Christ.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day doesn’t get much attention. It’s certainly not as big as Mother’s Day. The reason for this is that fathers take very little joy in their children doing things for them in comparison to the joy a father has doing things for his kids. Which is why Father’s Day is usually used having fathers spend money on their family.

Jesus’ prayer in John 17 shows this off quite well. Jesus came to get His gift from the Father! John 17:9 for instance speaks of those the Father has given Him. We are God’s gift to His Son!

Usually when we think of gifts in relation to salvation we think of our gift of grace. Certainly a good deal. But the bigger gift is the presentation of God’s people to His Son, we are His inheritance!

Now, if you want to do something nice for me, do not, I repeat, DO NOT give me people as a gift. No thanks. I’d much rather have ice cream. But this is God’s expression of love for His Son, the greatest thing on earth He can give His Son is pathetic sinners.

O the deep wisdom of God! I wonder if Jesus feels like little boys who get socks and underwear for Christmas. “What? I get Jeff? That’s it?”

Ah but great love is at work. It must make sense somehow. John 17:10 gives the answer, “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” Jesus gets a good gift because His gifts glorify Him! That’s our job, more or less, and when we do it it brings great, eternal joy.

Believers are a gift the Father gives the Son!

The Greatest Sin

I think most people have bought into the idea that all sins are equal, that there is no gradation of evil. I’m not sure that is exactly a Biblical idea. In fact, the exact opposite seems true.

Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, showing that there is a gradation of rightness. It was to love the Lord your God with all your heart. This gives us a real good idea what the greatest sin is.

Romans 1 is about the depths of sin cultures can delve into. It seems as if homosexuality is the greatest sin as it gets the most attention in Romans 1.

However, a better reading begins in 1:21–they did not glorify God, they worshipped creation, and they did not retain God in their knowledge. After listing each of these things it said God turned them over to their sin, which is then described in the rest of the chapter.

The greatest sin is to not keep God in His place. His place is not first in your heart, His place is to be your whole heart. If you worship something else, glorify yourself or something else, or do not even think about God or consider Him you are on your way to lots of other gross sin.

It may even be said that those sins are the beginning of judgment from God. When people do not glorify God He turns them over to a reprobate mind that glories in vile sin.

The greatest sin is not glorifying God.

Kitchen Table Refinishing

IMG_1901IMG_1899IMG_1542While I’m still at it, being all personal etc., I desire to give a plug to my wife. My wife is uber-talented at woodburning. We just refinished our kitchen table where she woodburned a to scale world map with a two-tone stain finish.

If you would like to have us redo your kitchen table send us an email and what you’d like my wife to woodburn on it! It’ll cost you an arm, but hey, you can keep both legs and get an awesome table.

David Yeager Band

While I’m at it, being all personal and what not, I’ll give a plug to my bro-in-law, Steve Wick, and his band’s new cd. You can catch some of the songs by clicking on the link and get your cd for a cool $10.

You can also buy some of Steve’s excellent guitar work cd’s. If there’s a talent I wish I had I wish it was the talent of sticking with the guitar long enough to learn how to play it well. Until then, I live vicariously through cool people like Steve.

Linda Weddle

Although I refrain from putting personal things on the blog for the most part, I am doing a post here about my mother. She’s a fine woman. Still makes some of the best cherry cheesecake you’ll ever have and makes a mighty fine lasagna.

On top of that she is an author and has published many a book in her oh so few years. Her recent book just came out about parenting. Obviously parents are all more or less brain dead these days, in my opinion, and can use all the help they can get. You can get some from my very own mother, provided you want children that may resemble me.

However, even if you don’t want a kid like me you probably won’t because I don’t believe there was a chapter on teaching your kids sarcasm, skepticism or idiotness. So you’ll be safe.

Here’s an article about the book

For a limited time you can see my mother star in her very own video at the top of the Awana homepage.

Click here to buy your copy today, before your kids turn out like creeps.

Satisfied with not Reaching the Dissatisfied

Read this today: “And how can the global Church reach the dissatisfied?”

The context was a snippet on a “new study” showing how 65% of people don’t like church. Oh dear, oh dear, what can we do to make whiners like it better?

This sort of thing really bothers me. The squeaky wheel getting the grease may work on a wagon but not so well when it comes to following the Lord’s instructions for running His Church.

I see verses that say, “Teach these things to faithful men.” I don’t see “Teach these things to people who are hardly there and do little if anything.”

I see verses that say, “Do not cast your pearls before swine.” I don’t see “Cast all your pearls before swine, I mean, you know, if they ever show up.”

The Church is not an institution for the World. People mess this one up all the time. It is specifically given (Ephesians 4) for the edification of the saints. It’s for the saints not the world. You can’t run the Church off worldly wisdom but on the Wisdom of its Head, Jesus Christ.

God Works in Mysterious Ways?

I’ve heard it said many times that “God works in mysterious ways.”

I don’t really think that is generally true. God generally does exactly what He said He was going to do with very little mystery whatsoever.

I had one of those moments tonight, I knew what was going to happen and indeed, it happened. And, yes, I think it was God!

My experience tells me that God is not all that mysterious in His ways. I decided to look the phrase up in the Bible. Guess what?!

I can get some translations to say stuff about God’s mysterious plans, I agree that the notion is sort of there. However, there is no biblical statement claiming that God works in mysterious ways as a form of habit.

Go ahead, prove me wrong, give me a verse.

American Religious Faith

Barna came out with a new study on church goers, here are some highlights:

–88% of American adults say that “my religious faith is very important in my life.”
–75% say they sense that “God is motivating people to stay connected with Him, but in different ways and through different types of experiences than in the past.”
–45% say they are “willing to try a new church.”
–50% say “a growing number of people I know are tired of the usual type of church experience.”

I imagine I’ll “show my age” in biblical years by my comments and deeply distress cool, hip non-church goers, but alas, whatever.

Two verses regarding the last days popped in my head after reading these statistics:

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. . . Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

I know I am supposed to be thrilled that 88% of Americans view their faith highly. But I’m not because I know America. I also know the statistics are more a showing that Americans view themselves highly.

It’s a selfish ambition to find bigger and better experiences in any realm to improve THEIR relationship with God. Note there’s not much about helping others develop their relationship with God.

In other words, there’s no edifying the Body, there’s just I’ll do what it takes to get my faith where I want it to be. Self-centered, narcissistic, pseudo-faith driven to find more experiences that will magically make me happy with God. Pretty much sums up America to me.

This is not good news.

Listen To ME!

Leaders will face the temptation of making their leadership all about them. It is easy to slip into thinking, “Man, if people would just listen to me everything would be fine.”

In some cases this might actually be true. In most cases it’s a leader’s over-inflated view of self.

Pastors often get bummed because they make their living talking to people and saying stuff, most of which goes unheeded for various reasons. When people and churches fall apart the pastor takes it personally, “It’s my fault, I didn’t say the right thing, I couldn’t convince them to listen.”

This is a main reason why pastors get burned out. But let me pose this slight possibility: pastors might be totally wrong here. I know, hard to swallow this line of reasoning, but hear me out.

Continue reading “Listen To ME!”

Mysticism and Twitter

Mysticism gets a bum rap in Christianity. Mysticism, in my words, is personal experiences you’ve had with God. I have had several moments of sheer beauty and thrill that can only be chalked up to God. I’ve told very few people about them.

The reason for that is that no one would understand. It’s awful hard to explain it in such a way that doesn’t sound corny, dumb, or just plain weirdish.

When you do explain it, people condemn it, convince you it wasn’t what you thought it was and wonder, “Hmm, you going charismatic on me?”

Therefore, the chief rule in mysticism is to not tell anyone. If something is too hard to explain, don’t explain it. Hast thou faith, have it to yourself before God. There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

Modern Christianity is ruined by technology. We have our blogs and Twitter and Facebook. We put up our updates about our thrilling lives for all to see. This is mostly good and I enjoy it. Keeps people in touch.

But some Christians attempt to share every little detail of their faith and quite honestly, give it a rest. Much of faith, your “personal relationship with Christ,” is supposed to be between you and Christ, not you and the millions upon millions of potential readers on the internet.

How much of our growth and learning is squandered because we share every single spiritual thought with others? We get bogged down in explanations, arguments, defensive structures raised because someone didn’t get what we were saying.

Let it go. Enjoy what you have with Christ. Keep it private, between you and your Lord. Jesus spent time with His Father alone and we have no record of what took place there. Be like Christ here.

Does God Call Pastors?

When I began as a pastor nine and a half years ago I read all manner of pastor books. I read tons of them until they bugged me too much. Maybe I’ll read one or two a year if someone gives me one.

I got one recently. It bugs me. As with most pastoral books they build you up as God’s man on earth and there’s no hope apart from pastors. Please.

One of the issues that has bugged me is the whole idea of being “called to be a pastor.” There is no such thing in scripture. The closest you get is Paul saying he was called to be an apostle. However, based on the manner of Paul’s calling, i.e.–being blinded while talking to God–I doubt any pastor could claim such certainty. It’s just not there. Yet every pastor book talks about it as being a legit test. “Calling” usually means “you got hired or not.”

Continue reading “Does God Call Pastors?”

Old and New Nature

The Bible is often in conflict with what we believe. I’ve been thinking about the old and new nature lately and am troubled by some of the stuff I’ve heard and what the Bible says.

1) There is no such thing as the “old nature” or the “new nature,” at least not in scripture. If Scripture does not use the terms, why do we? The immediate comeback is always, “Well, we don’t see “trinity” or “rapture” in the Bible but people believe that.”

True enough. I am not denying the existence of the old and new nature, I’m simply stating that the terms are not scriptural.

2) Many people believe the old and new nature are two personalities within the believer. Two separate entities. The problem with this notion is that it causes the need for a third personality, the neutral party, who decides which nature controls.

There is no indication in scripture that there is a neutral third party that picks who runs the show at the moment. In fact, when I do good evil is present with me, there are always two at the same time. It’s not an either/or kind of deal.

3) I also am troubled by the flippancy in which believers treat sin as no big deal, “oops, guess my flesh got the best of me there, ha ha.” I don’t get the idea from Scripture that sinning is suddenly less bad or even funny because my flesh did it.

Forgiveness and Enabling Sin

Yesterday a person told me they were told that forgiving people in their sin enables them to sin more and thwarts God’s plan to drive them to their knees. We shouldn’t enable people, therefore it’s wrong to forgive them.

Well, I had some response to that. It went like this.

If we decide what to do based on what we think other people “need” rather than on simply doing what God says, seems we’ve entered very subjective territory. When in doubt, forgive, when not in doubt, forgive, seems to be the Bible’s way. Seventy times seven.

People will take advantage of forgiveness. How often do we sin knowing we can have God’s forgiveness? If forgiving enables sin, God would be the largest enabler. In the long run, constantly being forgiven will drive a person nuts.

If God chopped off a finger every time we sinned I bet we’d knock it off, but I also think we’d hate God’s guts. God forgives, He went to the extreme of becoming flesh to die and shed His blood for His creation in order to forgive us, in order that we might love Him.

Forgiveness is an option that does not make common sense, but it is God’s way. At the same time, it’s very easy for the one forgiving to hold grudges and belittle. Forgiveness is harder on the forgiver than the forgiven in the short run. In the long run, forgiveness will drive the forgiven nuts until they just go ahead and embrace love. It aint easy, but I think it’s what love and grace are all about.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Free Sermon Idea

Here are four verses that would make an awesome sermon:

Psalm 119:142, “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”

John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Ephesians 4:20-24, “But ye have not so learned Christ;  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Oh no, you’re welcome.

Real Repentance

Just read this: “Real repentance is hilariously exciting.”

Wow. What?

The context said when you repent you get into fellowship with God, you let God be God in your life. This is true repentance and this is hilariously exciting.

That seems an awful happy spin on the word. All the usages of the word “repent” or “repentance” in the Bible don’t come anywhere near expressing hilarity nor excitement.

What are people thinking out there? The cutesifying of Christianity has sent more people to hell than atheism or liberal politicians.

Effective Ministry, Or Not

I live in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. I recently got an email from a blog reader in Australia. Among his kind words were the fact that my blog “ministry” was reaching people half way around the world.


This got me to thinking, if my ministry reaches someone else in Rhinelander, am I then reaching people all the way around the world? Hmm. I think technically, it does!

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