Posts Tagged ‘men of faith’

I like eating in the local diners in small towns. I like eating at Pat’s. I like eating at the Halfway Restaurant and Tire Shop. The local diner is where you can hear about all the small town gossip. In fact, at one little diner I ate at, there was even a note under the glass counter where you paid that said:

“Not much happens in a small town, but what you hear makes up for it.”

We love to talk, to communicate with each other. After all, we are made in the image of God, and God is a God of communication. He loves to talk with us. He loves to communicate His truth to us in His Word, in His creation, in the social orders that he places us. In fact, I am a firm believer in the truth that if you want to speak to God, if you want to find God, He will reveal Himself to you. But you must seek Him as God of your life, and not as god911 to call when you have an emergency. He is not a god you can go shopping for like a good luck charm, or a piece of jewelry you can wear. If you seek to know your creator God, and live your life in Him and for Him, He will communicate with you.

Communication is important to us. Lydia and I just spent a week with over 3000 people in a small environment. All we did was talk; make new friends; meet people from different countries, different accents. One thing that I saw was common, regardless of what country we were from, is a little verse in James:

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7, 8)

Now most of the time our conversation was polite, friendly, and civil. But every so often you would hear an occasional grumble. It might be a waiter we had befriended, complaining about the politics among the wait staff. One time a very pleasant older man made a comment about the town we had docked at, and the condition of the stores and the impoverished people. One time it was about all the children begging for money. One time it was even me grumbling about the price of taxi rides. Other times it was a comment about an older man with a much, much younger woman. Our tongues are great for communicating, but sometimes that communication can be negative.

This has been a year of not saying can’t, of seeking God’s Will, of learning all the great things we have through the Cross of Christ, of purposely seeking to be peacemakers, of getting close enough to our neighbors so that we can open our hearts to their needs, so that we can begin to be the physical representative of Jesus Christ.

The next few weeks are our holiday time, a time of giving thanks, a time of reflecting upon the incarnation of God in human flesh, the Baby Jesus, the Savior of the World. As we look forward to the New Year, 2011, God has challenged me to see 2011 as the year of DOING! I am convinced God has some great things in mind for this body to do, to reach for, and to accomplish. As He challenges me, and as I in obedience challenge you, the real test will come in our communication with each other and to our neighbors around us. What are we going to communicate?

What are we as Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church going to be saying to the world around us?

Rev 3:19-20  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Jesus has a huge investment in our church. He stands at the door of our church, knocking, and one of two things can happen. We open the door, let Him in, and through our communication with Him and with each other we feast, we fellowship, we grow, we see our body increase and grow stronger. Or something else happens; our communication turns negative, as James mentions:

Jas 5:9  Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

James is saying that when we start to grumble against each other, instead of Jesus coming in for fellowship, he comes in as our judge!

Now which Jesus do you want coming into our church?

This grumbling can be out-and-out grumbling, but it can also be more subtle, like a sigh, or a groan.

When you were in school it could be the sound all the students make when the teacher says Pop Quiz. Or the coach saying “ten laps” or the Pastor saying …well, anything.

It also pictures a person who is fretful or impatient. I don’t have to complain with words to my wife when we are shopping. All I have to do is fold my arms, tap my foot, look at my watch, or wander off. My impatience is grumbling! Wives, you don’t have to verbally complain about your husband, all you have to do is sigh, roll your eyes, slam the plate down.

If your toes are starting to hurt, don’t think I’m picking on anyone. In fact, it’s time for me to come out of the closet! I am a closet grumbler! Anyone else want to admit it?

When it comes to grumbling, 99% of us are guilty. It is almost American to grumble about something. It can be the weather, it can be taxes, it can be politics, it can be the preacher, it can be this or that. Face it, we grumble. All I want us to see is how devastating it can be to the faith-life of a church. Because the minute a spirit of grumbling enters a church, that church has taken its eyes off Jesus Christ!

So, in light of Thanksgiving, and in light of Doing in 2011, my word to each of you this morning is to:

  • Stop your moaning.
  • Cease from Groaning.
  • Zip your griping.
  • Lose your beef
  • Throw out your carp.
  • Kill the grouse
  • 86 the complaining.

But most of all:

Quit Your Bellyaching!

The last sign I want to see over the door of PPBC is: “Not much happens in a small church, but what you hear makes up for it.”

I heard David Ring preach back in 1985. David Ring has Cerebral Palsy. He jerks his head and arms, has difficulty walking, talks with a jerky stutter. He is the last preacher you would want to listen to. But when he preached that morning, my heart was touched.

You think your life is tough? You think you have a reason to complain? How would you like to depend upon someone else to go the the bathroom? How would you like to depend on someone else to get out of bed in the morning? How would you like to take ten minutes to order a Big Mac?

He said over and over QUIT YOUR BELLYACHING!

I like to use bellyaching instead of grumbling, because the root of most complaining is pride, and the Bible uses the belly as a picture of pride:

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Php 3:17-21)

Satan rebelled from God because of his own pride. He appealed to Adam and Eve on the basis of their pride. “Isn’t that fruit beautiful? God doesn’t want you to eat it because He wants to keep you ignorant. You have a right to eat it. You have a right to know as much as God.”

So God said, “You think pride is such a good thing? Well, I’ll show you-since your belly is your god, try crawling on it the rest of eternity!”

So the next time you start bellyaching, just ask yourself: Is my belly my god? Is my pride my god?

  • “I paid a lot for this cruise; I shouldn’t have to put up with this.”
  • “I am an excellent waiter; they have no right to treat me like this.”
  • “That person shouldn’t do that, I know better how they should act.”
  • “I know how best to run this or that…”

Here is Life Advice from God’s Word:

Heb 13:5-6  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Bellyaching closes our eyes to God and His presence, God and His power!

God wants us to see Him in every situation we face. He wants us to depend upon Him in every circumstance, every hardship, every difficulty. Even when you want to bellyache about someone else in the church or at work, God wants you to look to Him. Jesus is entering the door of your heart and saying, “quit your bellyaching!” You are making your belly your God, and not me! Your contentment in not in me! You are minding earthly things! Stop it, because you are a citizen of heaven! He wants you to say the Lord is my helper! The Lord is in control! Don’t you believe that I AM your helper, I AM with you!

Remember when you were little, mom would say quit your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about! James is saying the exact same thing!

  • Quit Your Bellyaching! Or the judge will enter your life and give you a real bellyache!

If you are a closet bellyacher, this is hard to do!

Every day we are bombarded with situations, with news, with difficulties that just seem to bring out the bellyaching. Once a few people start, it just starts gathering more people, and soon it is an unstoppable boulder of bellyachers rolling down the hill.

One day there was a loud commotion coming from a children’s Sunday School room. Several adults hurried to the room to see what was going on. The door opened and a second grade boy came out saying: “We’re being bad, and we don’t know how to stop.”

Sometimes we adults don’t know how to stop either. We go on doing things the way we’ve always done them. We go on being critical of every new thing that comes our way. We go on running down our spouse or our church with our tongue and bellyaching without it even occurring to us that it takes a foul bird to (crap in) besmirch its own nest.

Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of heaven in Isaiah 65:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.(Isa 65:17-24)

In Heaven there is no remembrance of the past. The past destroys the beauty of God!

Paul knew that looking forward is the best way to stop bellyaching:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Memory does become a blindfold that keeps us groping in the darkness. Isaiah, by pointing the people to what God is going to do was the only way to get the people to open up the power of God and to stop them from bellyaching.

When we keep focusing on the past, or the things we don’t like about the present, we will never stop bellyaching. We’ll be like those second graders, “We’re being bad and we don’t know how to stop.”

What has the power to stop our bellyaching and get us to focus on God’s presence His power, and His future for us?

How do we stop our bellyaching?

We allow the Gospel of Christ into our daily lives. Not just on Sunday, but everyday!

When someone does something you think is wrong, remember, Jesus Christ loved that person enough to die for them. Whenever you are inconvenienced a bit, or have to sacrifice your precious time, remember what Jesus experienced for you. Remember what He sacrificed for you! Is it too hot? Jesus felt hell for you! Is it too cold? Jesus experienced the cold rejection of God for you. Is it too rainy? Jesus cried eternal tears for your salvation. No money to go out to eat-Jesus fasted 40 days for you. Complaining about a sickness or disease-Jesus became cursed and sin-sick for you. Down in your back? Jesus gave his back to the Cross. Your blood pressure a bit high? Jesus sweat drops of blood for you!

The Gospel of Jesus means that there is nothing to bellyache about! We have so much, we should be rejoicing all the time!

Hebrews 10 paints another picture of a True follower of Jesus:

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Heb 10:36-39)

  • Bellyaching is the enemy of endurance.
  • Bellyachers shrink back and are destroyed.
  • Bellyachers lack faith
  • Bellyaching  is a sign of a weak soul.

Let’s read on and see how this works

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Heb 11:32-40)

Imagine if you will what would have happened to this great cloud of witnesses if they had been bellyachers…

  • Abraham…Come on Sarah, this desert is too harsh. These tents leak, it smells like wet goat after every rain. Let’s go back to Ur where we had a really nice home.
  • Joseph…you really made me suffer God. I had to eat rats in prison. No matter what good I did I got in trouble. I’m going to start worshipping one of these Egyptian gods. And by the way, brothers, you are going to prison for a very long time, so you will know exactly what I went through.
  • Moses…You want me to do what? God back to Egypt? No way God. You left me out here with these stupid stinking sheep for 40 years. That was no way to treat someone like me. I’m going to stay here enjoying my simple uncomplicated life. Those jews rejected me once, so they can just stay in Egypt and rot!
  • Joshua…fought a battle with trumpets
  • Gideon…faced a mighty army with 300 soldiers
  • Samson…eyes were put out
  • Barak…served under Deborah
  • Ezekiel…. laid on his left side for 390 days. Then his right side for 40

4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. 5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year. 7 And you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with your arm bared, and you shall prophesy against the city. 8 And behold, I will place cords upon you, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other, till you have completed the days of your siege. Ezekiel 4:4-8

  • John the Baptist…imprisoned

Everyone of the great men of the Bible had ample reasons to bellyache. Nothing we have gone through even compares with what they experienced. Instead of focusing on what they had, what their circumstances were, what had happened in the past…They looked forward to the PROMISES of GOD!

Thanksgiving should not be a time at just looking at the past…Thanksgiving should be a time of looking to the future!

Today these mighty witnesses are assembled over our church, cheering us on. They are saying quit your bellyaching! God is so powerful, so amazing! Trust in Him. Open your eyes to Him!

Remember the servant of Elisha? He had to have his eyes opened to see the forces of God! We should ask the same thing!

13 And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:13-17

Don’t look at what you don’t have! Don’t look at all the enemies, the hardships, the ‘impossibilities!

Get your eyes off your bellies and Look to Jesus!

Christians live the Gospel by their response to the Cross! If you think being a Christian means you are entitled, you are worshipping a Jesus that you have dreamed up. You might as well dress your Jesus up in a Santa Claus suit, because that is what He is to you. But that is not the Jesus Christ who walked this earth. That is not the Jesus Christ who one day will return as judge and King!

Your must make a choice-love your own life, or love Jesus Christ. Shrink from the cross, or carry your cross.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11

John Paton is not a well-known name in church history. He pastored a growing church in Scotland for 10 years in the 1800’s. God burdened his heart for New Hebrides, a group of islands in the Pacific. The natives were cannibals and had no gospel witness.

20 years earlier two missionaries had gone to the island and were promptly killed and eaten by the natives. Paton wrote that among the many who tried to talk him out of going was an elderly Christian who always ended his arguments with “The cannibals! You will be eaten by Cannibals!’

John Patton replied; “Sir, you are advanced in age and you own prospect is to lie in a grave and be eaten by worms. I confess to you, that if I can live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms. In the great resurrection day my body will arise just as fair as yours in the likeness of our Redeemer!”

At the age of 33 (1858) John Paton travelled to the New Hebrides with his wife. The journey was difficult. His wife and new-born son dies within four months of arriving. He was all alone, digging their graves with his bare hands. He faced threat after threat on his life. But in the years to come, countless cannibals across the Hebrides came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Churches across Australia, Scotland and the Western world were challenged by his example to send forth more missionaries to people who before that time were considered impossible to reach.

Bellyachers Make Excuses and Miss God’s Power!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted and start bellyaching! (Heb 12:1-3)

Are you a Christian? Do you know Jesus Christ? Have you been born again? Does Jesus rule your life or is he just your good luck charm?

Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

  • There is no dead weight in God’s Kingdom.
  • Service is not an option.
  • A true christian realizes it costs something to follow Jesus
  • A true Christian realizes there is no room for bellyachers

The Hard is What Makes It Good

A League of Their Own, starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. Near the end of the film, the team coached by Tom Hanks is about play in the Girls’ Baseball World Series during World War II. Geena Davis, the star catcher, has decided to go home because her husband has returned from the war. Hanks confronts her by reminding her of how much she loves the game. “I don’t love it,” she says, “Not like you.” “Oh yes you do,” Hanks replies. “It’s in your blood.” “I can’t do it,” she says. “It’s too hard.”

At that moment Tom Hanks turns slightly, grabs his face, grimaces, and then says, “You’re right. It is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it good.” With that he joins the rest of the team on the bus while Geena Davis leaves with her husband. Later she returns in time for the seventh and deciding game of the series.

“It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it good.”

That’s not just true about baseball. That’s the truth about the Christian life.

It is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it good. And it will get rough. It always does. There will be hard days, bad days, sad days, discouraging days, confusing days, angry days, frustrating days, boring days, upsetting days, discombobulating days, and then there will be some really bad days.

The hard is what makes it good. Stop your complaining. Stop your bellyaching. Stop your moaning. Don’t be afraid of the Cross of Christ! Carry it with you, relish in the splinters, cherish the weight, the time will come when there will be no more memories of the troubles of the past! Only the JOY of His presence!