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Today is the day that if you aren’t on your toes someone will get you. It’s not even before noon and you’ve already been duped by someone on facebook or twitter. Maybe someone in your office or your spouse got you this morning. Even the Division I Big South Conference played one this morning.

We really enjoy seeing the genuine reaction of surprise from someone in our culture. Candid Camera, Kids Say the Darndest Things, Undercover Boss and Secret Millionare have been on TV. You can put all kinds of craziness on Youtube and people watch much of the time simply to see the reaction of someone who gets some unexpected news.

But foolishness is not all fun and games. Being a fool is hard work sometimes. The Bible tells us that we are “fools for Christ’s sake”. What does that mean? I think in our day it means that believing in a God that is not tangible or easily seen, following orders from a book that is “culturally outdated” and believing that someone actually came back from the dead, is foolish in a humanistic view.

We want to believe we are so educated and smart. Whenever we start thinking that way, we would be wise to read 1 Corinthians 3:18-19a “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (NKJV)

The “wisdom” of the world and the people within it are so much less than the one who created it. Therefore, if we who are fools, see our own wisdom as wise and the word of God is foolish, we may end up on the wrong end of an April fool’s joke ourselves.

-Jared

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Christmas, Kids, and More…

I know, I know, lots of time has passed since the last blog post (and believe you me the finger is pointing at me as it always is). Just wanted to let everyone know that God is doing some awesome things in the life of Lily right now. Our church over the past few months has welcomed in new families into the membership and we are seeing so many new families visiting Lily as well. We have also seen God answer prayers financially for our church as well taking care of things that are broken and helping us stabilize our finances. We have been able to minister to children around the world through Operation Christmas Child, soldiers oversees with Treats for Troops and families with members at Hospice providing snacks. Now with the Christmas season upon us, our church will be growing by one more no later than Dec. 6th as Sarah, myself, Liberty and Lucas will be welcoming our new son and brother Riley into our family. I pray that God would bless you during this wonderful season and hope to see you at Lily soon!

 

-Jared

Comfort: The Silent Killer

There is a spot in my living room that I love more than any other spot in my house. In a corner sits my recliner. It’s not the fanciest recliner in the world but it is soft, broken in, and one of the best parts of my day is when I come home and I lift the footrest up and plunge into utter comfort. In that spot even the toughest problems seem to fade away. The only problem is that if I allow it can be a counter-productive spot. It’s easier to sit there than to get up and help my wife with dinner. It’s easier to sit there than to get down and play with my kids. What would my family think of my recliner if I never got out of it and ignored them? They wouldn’t like it very much would they? They wouldn’t think much of me either.

Unfortunately sometimes this is the way our churches can get if we aren’t careful. It is really easy for people who love church to come every week (sometimes 2-3 times a week) and listen to music they like, hear encouraging teaching and sit in the same place they’ve sat for years. But what happens when that is all we do? What if we sit and soak it all in and then don’t get up and exercise our faith? What happens to the people around us that don’t go to church? They see us walk in and walk out but never stop and say hi to them or do anything to care about their needs. They assume that we sing and pray and listen to a speaker but may not get invited to come and hear or have their concerns in their lives prayed for.

Sometimes it is nice for us to get to sit in our favorite recliner or pew. But at some point it is time to get up.

-Jared

Right now I am in a season where I need some guidance. My wife and I are expecting our third child, a boy, in December and are going to have to find a vehicle that our whole family can fit in. At Lily Church we are in the process of praying about where God would have us do for the future of the church. It seems that right now there is a big decision that has to be made just about every day. So I figured a good place to look for wisdom would be the book of Proverbs. I started in the first chapter and stopped at verse 7 which reads “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (ESV)

The word “fear” usually when it is followed by “of the Lord” we usually take to mean reverence and respect. So basically the beginning of human knowledge comes from knowing and revering God. In other words, God is all powerful. His plans are best and when we make our own plans and try to use our own understanding things aren’t so great. So knowledge comes to us when we understand that God is the one with the right plans and what we must do is submit to Him.

So how do we not have the “fear of the Lord”? Well, when we “despise wisdom and instruction”. We do this by not acknowledging God for who He is and the power He has. When I think that I can handle something all on my own, I don’t have the fear of the Lord. When I drum up plans on my own that I think would be good for my church or family or life and then take them to God and ask Him to bless these plans, I am not showing the fear of the Lord. You may think that’s a bit harsh. I think it’s biblical. When we move forward with any plan that has not been given to us by God we do not have a fear of the Lord and because of that, we do not have knowledge and God’s word calls us fools. Not only that, but it even says that we, by using our own plans “despise wisdom and instruction”; the very things that we need in these situations.

God is working and His plans are best. So stop focusing on what you think would be a good idea and allow Him to lead.

-Jared

So it has already happened.  I have already slacked on updating this blog only a few posts into it.  Believe it or not, this is actually as far as I’ve ever gotten (excuse the bad grammar).  But it isn’t my fault.  You see, the knowledge that I have gathered in my 26 years on this planet has given me an exciting theory about who’s fault it is. 

You may be wondering what I’m talking about.  I have come to find that no human being is ever at fault for any of his actions.  It’s true!  It is always someone else’s fault.  Like for example, if a kid acts up at a young age, its blamed on the parents.  Then the parents blame it on the TV for raising their children wrong.  The TV then shifts the blame back onto parents for not controlling what the children watch while secretly blaming advertisers because they pay more money for higher rated shows which have to contain “adult situations” or “salty language” to be interesting enough to be highly rated.

Do you see?  Now seriously who could blame anyone in that situation?  The simple fact is that everyone is looking for a scapegoat.  No a scapegoat is not a horned animal that makes your lawn look nice.  A scapegoat is the person on whom blame is put for something that someone else did.  Humans are the #1 producers of scapegoats on the planet.  It’s our primary export.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of a scapegoat.  We are all sinners.  Christ took the blame for our sin and paid the price for it.  We no longer have to live with the eternal consequences of sin if we will only admit, confess, and believe.  If we don’t do that, we are basically saying that we have no remorse for what we have done against God.  And one day, there will be no scapegoat to take the place for us.  We will have to deal with the consequences ourselves!

-Jared

Stupid Questions

Every teacher whose class I have ever attended has always said “There are no stupid questions”.  I think that is great when it comes to kids trying to learn things because you never want them to be afraid to ask a question.  But today as I was walking into the church office I asked God a stupid question.  I asked Him, “Why do I have to deal with a new problem everyday?”  I could actually hear God laughing and I laughed too when I heard the answer…”Because it is a new day”.  Problems don’t just go away, or if they do they are simply replaced by new ones. 

I think that is why we are always compelled by God and His word to focus on what today holds.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:34

“Therefore do not be anzious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (ESV)

James also takes a stab at things and tells us “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. …” (James 4:14a, ESV)

There are times in my life where I just have to stop and ask God a question that I already know there is an answer to, just to serve as a reminder that I don’t have it all figured out and I can’t do it on my own.

-Jared

Church Signs

Yesterday I was coming home from church and I saw a funny church sign.  Maybe you are familiar with these.  Funny church signs happen when someone takes the sign to mean one thing but if you think about it in another way it means something it totally didn’t mean at all.  The sign said (paraphrase) “Looking for a church that really loves you?  Come join us!”  I laughed.  My wife didn’t get it at first.  She always sees sincerity before humor in everything.  I love her for that.  It made me think though for a minute about what the sign really was saying.  It was saying “I know there are some of you out there that have felt unloved by a church that you go to, went to or maybe visited.  Here we will really love you.” 

That’s something I wish didn’t have to be on a church sign.  The fact is that people sometimes don’t feel loved at church.  If they are members maybe they feel like their needs aren’t being met or they have a squabble going on with someone that isn’t “loving” them.  But mostly the people who feel like churches don’t love them are the ones that don’t go to church period.  For whatever reason.  Bad experiences as a kid, not anything for them, no one talked to them, etc.  That is a sad commentary on churches in general today.  Jesus told us that God so loved the world that He sent His only son into the world so that people could be with God and know His love and forgiveness. 

But where is the real blame?  Well, as usual it is with…me.  You see churches are made of people.  They are not organizations even though that’s what the government titles them as.  Churches are made of imperfect people trying to understand a perfect God.  And the church of me needs to understand that Jesus came to love me, but He also came to love others just as much as me.  So I need to take the round about advice of the church sign and remember to REALLY love others.  Even if that means I have to consider them before I consider myself like the word of God says to do.

Until Later,

Jared

The Alpha or the Omega?

So here it is.  Another guy with another blog.  Maybe it makes it worse that I’m a pastor.  Just what this world needs.  Another voice telling people what their problems are or what they should believe.   Well, that is not quite what this is going to be about.  You see there are a whole lot of problems in this world that we pretend we can overcome through “the power of the human spirit”.  I submit to you that the real problem with this world is…me.  I can scapegoat just about anyone I please to take the blame for this or that.  In fact, that seems to be all that we as humans do anymore is blame each other.  I have figured out that I cannot trust myself, my thoughts, my ideas, even my hopes and dreams because I am corrupted by a little thing called…sin.  BUT.  If I allow myself to be subject to Christ, my life will have some meaning.  So I embark to share this journey with you…whoever you are.  I hope that if you are a Christian, you will be able to find some common ground with me and hopefully I can encourage you in your walk.  If you are a Pastor, minister, or church leader, I hope I can encourage you with the small amount that I have learned in my very short ministry experience.  If you aren’t a Christian, I hope I get the chance to let you see the difference that Christ has made in my life-but just remember, I’m not perfect and I don’t have it all figured out.  Even us Pastors who are supposed to have the answers sometimes don’t (even if we don’t want to admit it).