Seldom do I come home on Sunday and feel like everything was perfect. Most Sundays I feel like little things could have been better. It’s not usually big things. In fact, most of the time it’s little things that no one else would ever notice. That is not the case with yesterday. I can’t think of a single thing that didn’t go well. The music was spot on. i want to say a big thanks to Nick and the band for all they do to usher us into God’s presence every week. The arrangement of the worship set this week was excellent. Everything flowed extremely well. Yesterday was also one of those rare Sundays that I felt great about the message. I am sure that I said exactly what God wanted me to say, and it was very encouraging to talk about how He loves us so.
I thought it might be fitting to mention a couple of the highlights from yesterday and expound briefly on them as a reminder for those who were there and for clarity for those who weren’t. From Genesis to Revelation we see a pattern develop that is ironic when considering the greatness and holiness of God. In spite of the fact that He is self-sufficient and doesn’t need us, and we are rebellious and defy Him, He pursues our affection. We sin. We rebel. We defy. We hide. We try to cover our sin, justify our rebellion, explain away our guilt, and God chases. God pursues. God loves. it’s overwhelming when you consider it. He doesn’t need us, yet He created us. He is fully self reliant, yet He pursues us. We rebelled and deserve wrath. He loves and extends grace. That’s what so loved is. God loves us so much that He gave. He gave His Son. Nothing demonstrates His love more clearly.
So what should we do? Understand there is nothing you will do to make God love you more, and nothing you will do to make God love you less. So stop trying to do, and just stop. Let Him catch you. Feel the embrace of the Almighty. Climb up in the lap of the Lover of your soul. Sit with Him a while. Baskin His presence. Slow down and let Him catch you. Here’s to quieting the noise, slowing down the itinerary, and letting God catch us. I am so thankful for the chase.

Sometimes Sunday nights can be like the film room after a football game. i find myself rewinding the day trying to determine what went well, what didn’t go well, what could be improved, and what needs to be left alone. Last night was one of those nights. i feel like Nick and the band did an excellent job of leading us into the presence of God with every element of the worship set yesterday. I was very pleased with the first gathering and greatly enjoyed teaching about the what God is like. But then the second gathering happened, and my mic decided to go haywire. It seemed as though every time I felt like I was trying to make a crucial point the blooming thing malfunctioned. It was very distracting to me, and I assumed others. I became aware of some very important lessons yesterday.
1. i learned that it is not about me. Now bear with me. I’ve known for a long time that it isn’t about me. I’m not that talented, that special, or that good for anything to be about me. In fact I am keenly aware that it is in spite of me. However, I still often feel as though I am playing a small part in all that goes on on Sunday. Yesterday I learned that God speaks even when i am flustered, or even down right frustrated. It isn’t about me, it’s about Him and He can pursue His glory any way He wishes.
2. I learned that God can use anything to get people’s attention. I actually had one person tell me that it helped him pay attention wondering when the mic would mess up again.
3. Distractions can be detrimental. This is true in every arena of life. Cell phones have become a leading reason for automobile accidents-they distract us. Fun often distracts us from responsibility. I must admit that the tool the enemy uses most to derail me is distraction. I can become distracted by the imminent and miss the important. I can address the squeaky wheel and miss the person crying out for help. I am very easily distracted. Perhaps yesterday can serve as a reminder to shut out the distractions and hear God.

I was studying this week in 1 John and was taken captive by something John wrote: “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” This captured my attention immediately. Seeing as how I believe scripture to be steadfastly reliable, and experiencing complete joy would be something I would be quite fond of, I was determined to discover the recipe. It would seem that it must be something extremely elusive since “complete joy” isn’t one of the many descriptions I hear people readily using to describe their lives. In fact, it isn’t the way I would describe my life at most times. “Somewhat joy” or “a long way from joy” maybe, but definitely not “complete joy.” So with pen in hand and exuberant anticipation I read on.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 NASB)

Did you catch it? Complete joy isn’t a recipe at all. It isn’t the result of wealth or health, circumstance or situation, peace or prosperity. Complete joy isn’t found in what, it is found in who. John writes to tell us how to have complete joy and then teaches us how to have fellowship with the Father. That’s it. Complete joy is found in the presence of our heavenly dad. To be in fellowship with the Father is to have complete joy. To have incomplete joy is to be living out of fellowship with our Father. That’s it. So what is required to have fellowship with the Father? We must be open toward God and honest about our sin. Our Father doesn’t expect perfection for fellowship, just integrity.

My prayer today is that we might war with our tendencies to justify our sins, instead confess them, and find complete joy in the fellowship of our dad.

I was reminded this weekend of the truth that “what we believe affects how we behave.” Intuitively, we know this to be true. It is true in average, everyday things like believing in the law of gravity. it is this fundamental confidence that the law of gravity is reliable that keeps us from jumping off of bridges just to see if if it is still true today. it is also this fundamental confidence in the law of gravity that causes me to tremble uncontrollably with paralytic fear when i am find myself in a high place or on a balance beam on Sunday morning. What is true in average, everyday things is equally true in more important, complex things like belief in a sovereign God or infallible scriptures or Salvation by Christ alone through Grace alone. Belief indeed affects or behavior.
Belief often leads to “foolish” behavior. This is an appropriate day to see this reality. Tonight, Alabama will play for the BCS National Championship. We live in a state divided by football loyalties. Both Alabama and Auburn have fans whose beliefs that their team is the best has led to all types of radical behaviors. I am always optimistic of the Tide’s chances regardless of who they are playing because I “believe” in them.
Throughout history belief in the reliability of scripture has mandated much “foolish” behavior. The confidence that God has revealed himself through the pages of scripture, made a way of redemption through the shed blood of Christ and His resurrection from the dead, and called us to holy living as describe in the pages of scripture has resulted in saints who have been persecuted, taunted, despised, and even martyred. All because belief affects behavior.
I was reading scripture this morning and ran across this passage:
Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet – see! – we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:1-10 NET)
This is very interesting. Paul says that all of these things that they endure was to “commend” themselves. I looked this word up. It turns out that a better translation might be to “prove oneself.” In other words, our behavior proves our belief. After reading this passage, I found myself very convicted. I believe scripture is infallible, reliable, accurate, life-giving, and profitable. But does my behavior prove my belief? I am intrigued by the passage defining the fruit of the Spirit and have decide to study that passage to better understand it. But I must say that initially my behavior doesn’t seem very congruent with that passage. I don’t seem to be very patient, gentle, or self controlled. The tendency is to attempt to modify the behavior, but I want to do an experiment based on the aforementioned hypothesis. Instead of modifying behavior, I want to better understand scripture and believe it wholeheartedly, that it might affect my behavior. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I Corinthians 3:18 says, “Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.” Most of us are convinced that we have it all together, and most of us are doing a fairly good job at convincing everyone else as well. We make decisions based on our own intelligence or ingenuity, and spend countless hours and endless resources constructing castles of sand unto our own names. All the while, our families are degrading, our integrity is sacrificed, and our sanity is threatened. Why? Because we are convince that we have become wise by this world’s standard. I suggest that we become fools-that we set aside our arrogance and self-sufficiency and rely on the power of God, heed the call of God, and stand in awe of the glory of God. I suggest that we “foolishly” fall so head-over-heels in love with the sovereign God of the Universe that the only conceivable option is to “foolishly” chase Him relentlessly in anxious anticipation of where the chase will carry us. Let’s become fools.