What's Going On?

Unless you have been in hibernation to avoid the heat and disconnected yourself from all electronic devices and social media, you have to be wondering what is going on. The violence, lawlessness, and unrest in our country and around the world has reached unparalleled levels. We have seen examples of those who think they are above the law and others who want to take the law into their own hands. Terrorist activity has escalated. Police officers are being murdered in our streets by hate groups. While we were on vacation a police officer where we were at was murdered conducting a simple traffic stop. Often we find ourselves wondering what kind of world our children and grandchildren will grow up in.

All of us have ideas for solutions to our chaos and the answers are not found in the government or with politicians. (In fact the broken system they have created is part of the problem). Most of these problems are directly related to the breakdown of family and home. It is in the home that we should be taught respect for authority. It is in the home that we should be taught the value of every life. It is in the home that children and youth should be taught responsibility for their actions. In the home our young people should be taught there are consequences for our actions. In our homes our youth should be taught that God should be first in their lives. Unfortunately, many parents are either absent or neglectful when it comes to these responsibilities. We need fathers and mothers who will take the responsibility which comes with the birth of a child to train and teach that child and also live what they teach. Scripture clearly puts that responsibility on parents (read Deuteronomy 6). 

As Christians, we have a tendency in times like this to withdraw, isolate, and pull away from all the chaos. However, the great need is for us to be bold and courageous, crying out to God strength and wisdom and for Him to intervene. In these times of chaos, we need to be the light of God showing the way in the darkness. We need to be on our knees crying out to God for help. Our homes need to be strong pillars for others to see. Take responsibility to be the example God calls all of us to be. When you do, it will impact the lives of others.

Gold!

In just about one month many of us will nd ourselves glues to our television screens. (No I am not talking about the political conventions!) People from all over the world will be traveling to South America to participate in, support, or watch the Olympics. Millions of dollars have been spent in preparation for this event and millions more will be spent by the host, participating countries, and spectators. For many of the athletes, they have dedicated their lives in preparation for this event with one goal in mind. The ultimate goal is to stand on the top of the award platform and to have the gold medal placed around your neck recognizing you as the very best in the whole world at the event you participated in. No athlete just walks into the Olympics, participates, and wins the prize. There is a life time of preparation and faithful training that leads to the victory. When Paul was near the end of his life he wrote to Timothy (II Timothy 4:7-8), “I have fought the good ght, I have nished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” There is a prize to be won: heaven! The prize is not just given to one person. Everyone can win the gold. But we do not get to just walk in unless we have prepared to get there. We must receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. We must become true followers of Jesus Christ. Just as the athlete prepares their body and their skills for their event, we must discipline ourselves with God’s Word as our training manual so that we can receive the prize. When the event of my life is over I want to be able to receive the crown of righteousness and hear the Lord say,“Well done!” I challenge you to prepare every day to receive the prize. Go for the Gold

Make Your Mark

In February I had the opportunity to attend a preaching conference in Florida. Not far from where I was, the Detroit Tigers players were reporting to spring training. (You know my love for baseball and especially the Tigers). So having a little free time I decided to pay a visit to camp. I saw a few players come and go from camp and snapped a few pictures. While I was there the staff meeting ended and coaches and staff began exiting. Among them was my childhood hero and one of the all-time great players, Al Kaline. He certainly made a mark on my life by enhancing my love for the game and most definitely influencing how I played the game. As he walked my way, he was kind enough to give me an autograph, pose for a picture, and engage in a brief conversation. 

In April and May I have been preaching a series of messages on Making Your Mark from the Book of Acts. As much as I appreciate the baseball mark Al Kaline made on my life, I am eternally grateful for those individuals who have made a spiritual mark on my life. I am thankful for a praying grandmother who could seem to pray heaven and earth together. I am thankful for Godly parents who set an example before me. I am thankful for Godly people who I have watched live their lives totally sold out to God. All of these and more have left their mark on my life influencing me to live for God. So as followers of Jesus Christ, each of us should be asking, “Who am I making a mark on for Christ?” Will anyone be compelled to live for Jesus because of the influence of my life? As we see in the Book of Acts, the secret to making your mark is the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. The truth is we are all making a mark. The question is what kind of mark are you making? I urge you… let it be the mark of God!

Built Strong...AFCStrong

How do you measure strength? Some would measure strength by how much weight they can bench press. Others would measure strength by the amount of horsepower under the hood of a vehicle. In our socio-techno world you might measure strength by the power of your signal (can you hear me now?) or by the number of friends you have on Facebook. The strength of a church can be measured by the impact it is making in the lives of individuals and in the city or community it serves as it seeks to carry out the Great Commission of spreading the gospel both locally and around the world. Over the last one hundred years the strength of this church has been demonstrated in many ways.

Most of us are aware that we maintain strength by continually staying actively involved in our regular activities. Confine someone to bed for a couple of weeks and there will be considerable loss of strength. The process of regaining strength can be painful. So as a church it is essential that we stay actively engaged in carrying out the Great Commission so that we remain strong in doing the will of God.

In a few short days we have the opportunity to demonstrate strength in our presentation of Tragedy into Triumph, March 13-16. This simulcast will have a strong appeal to many who do not attend church. It offers hope and transformation. The testimonies of those who have overcome addiction, loss, adversity, and the pain of abortion will speak to so many who are looking for hope. As we seek to be #AFCSTRONG going forward and each commit to winning someone this year, I URGE you to use this tremendous opportunity as an outreach to connect to those you are seeking to reach and minister to. This outreach will help you in your effort to engage your friends in spiritual conversations.  Do not miss this opportunity to demonstrate strength as you reach out to people who need to know Jesus. Extend an invitation and trust God to work through the message. Let’s be AFCStrong!

Got Power?

It started out as a typical winter Sunday morning in Hoosierland. Sure, we were getting a little snow, but that is expected in Indiana in January and nothing that a native Hoosier could not handle. By 8am the early prayer troops had arrived and then for the next hour and a half people were arriving and going about their responsibilities and taking their places in Sunday School. About ten minutes into Sunday School a major power outage hit a large portion of our city which included us. Many people found themselves in pitch black class rooms. Fortunately, many people began to turn on the flash lights on their cell phones so that people could find their way out of the darkness. Most people gathered in the foyer where there was natural light waiting for the power to return. Unfortunately, it became evident it would not be on and I had to make the disturbing announcement that we have no power and we are done for the day.  

Later I reflected on the words in that announcement. “We have no power.  We are done for the day.” My prayer then became a plea to God that this would never be said of the church or of us as individuals. The truth is that without God’s power at work in our lives, we are done.  Without His power we are hopeless against temptation. Without His power we are defeated by the enemy. Without His power our testimony is lifeless and meaningless. Without His power our witness has no impact.  Without His power we are done. As that is true in our individual lives it is also true of the church. Without the power of God we are done. We must, as Paul challenged Timothy in II Timothy 1:6, “fan into flame the gift of God.” Acts 1:8 reminds us, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Let’s keep the power on and see the things God wants to do.

How Do You Smell?

10…9…8…7…6…as everyone anxiously awaits the arrival of the New Year! Many will stay up to see the clock turn midnight. Some will gather with family or friends to celebrate the passing from one year to the next. Unfortunately somecelebrations will create a lack of memory. Some will be glad to close the book on this past year while others will reflect on it as the best days of their life. Some will makeresolutions which will be forgotten within the nexttwenty-four hours. So much emphasis, excitement, and expectation is placed on that moment when the countdown reaches zero.

However, more importantly is what you will be doing on February 1st or April 1st (or 15th) or June or August. Many start the year with great intentions which soon fade away with busyness, the influence of friends, neglect, laziness, and on and on the list goes. Paul said inII Corinthians 2:15 that we are to be “the aroma of Christ.” Have you ever walked past someone and picked up the aroma of their perfume (or lack of it)? Scripture is saying that everywhere we go people should pick up the aroma of Christ as they pass by us or stand in our presence. That is not just a New Year’s aroma when people are prone to making resolutions. There is not a perfume-free area for this aroma. We are to radiate the aroma of Christ everywhere we go every day of the year. It is not an aroma we put on. It is an aroma that comes from what we put in. When we put Christ in our heart, His aroma will radiate to others. I am planning a sermon series to begin the year I am calling “Starting Right.” Plan to be here every Sunday. Let’s be the aroma of Christ to Anderson.