Jesus For President?

13876112_1275860749114813_3324922387622109000_nThis Fall we are launching a Wednesday night Bible Study at our church entitled “Jesus for President”.  Our staff even produced a really eye-catching billboard to promote this concept. Many have asked, “what does this mean?” Here is an article that will publish this week in our local paper to explain.

The Democratic and Republican National conventions have recently concluded and they have both put forth the problems and their solutions for our country. Regardless of your political persuasion we must all agree the problems we face as a nation are bigger than any one candidate or political party can solve. Although I strongly believe in Christians being engaged in our political process I do not believe that the full answer for the problems we are currently encountering in our nation lie in politics. Let me encourage you to pray for our nation, our leaders, our candidates and vote based on who will do the most God-defined good for this nation. There are no perfect candidates, there are no perfect parties and the best they both will do is short of the need that we have in this country.

So what is this “Jesus for President”? The Direct answer is, it is a BIBLE STUDY that we will be doing on Wednesday nights at 6:30 PM beginning August 31 and running to November 16. During this time we will be taking the Top Ten Political issues of this year’s campaign and simply asking “what does the Bible say about this issue and what does Jesus want me to do to fix it?” It will be a Bible Study on issues such as Immigration, Economics, National Security, Social Issues and more. We believe the Bible is true and speaks relevantly to these issues today.

Believe it or not this article is not a back-handed solicitation for the community to come to EastLake. Although you are certainly welcome, on a typical Wednesday night we already are full and overflowing. What this is, is a challenge for every one of us who believes in God to look to the Word of God for answers and then to live out those solutions every day.

As you well know, Jesus is not actually on the United States for President ballot this Fall. (Oh How I wish he were) But what we may have forgotten is that he is on the ballot in a more consequential election every single day. He is on the ballot of our hearts, our minds and our behaviors. I believe that if more of us would choose to follow and obey his plan for our lives this country would be so much better off. The words of Jesus heard and obeyed in the lives of a million citizens will do more good in one day than a single candidate who spends a billion dollars to get elected can do in 4 years.

The beautiful thing about Jesus he not only gives us the path to walk but through his grace he gives us the supernatural ability to walk in obedience to his commands. What we need in this nation is not an external cure but an internal healing of every heart that is full of self-centeredness, lust, deceit, anger, hatred, rage and wickedness. This only Jesus can do. There are not enough laws or law enforcers for a nation whose people’s hearts are turned against what is right and true. We need God to do what he promised he would do in Ezekial 36“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.”

Elections matter and do have consequences. I will be active and vote, but as we enter into the final leg of this presidential campaign, as we make phone calls, put up yard signs and knock on doors may we never expect a bombastic billionaire nor a perennial power-hungry politician to solve this nations greatest problem, Only Jesus can do that!


Apologies, Acknowledgments and Answers

635863500410521737509662757_police_officersUPDATED 7/8/16 8:00 AM

(This post was originally posted just moments before the news broke in Dallas last night. I have edited the first paragraph to include this shooting as well)

This week I saw the news report about an African American man who was shot and killed  by a Minnesota Police Officer. This followed a similar shooting in Louisiana the night before.  Now we have a retaliation on Police in Dallas where several police officer have been shot and killed by those acting out of vengeance.

First, the apology.  In the instant that I heard the news from Minnesota and the seconds that followed I made a judgment that “another law-breaker was probably running from the police and was shot only after attempting to pull a gun on the officer.” My original feelings were cavalier.  My thoughts were undoubtedly driven by my love for law enforcement.  I believe we should have laws and that people should obey them.  I believe law-breakers should be punished.  I believe that law enforcement officers have a very difficult job and are both underpaid and under appreciated.  But I watched the video.  Although it doesn’t show what happened leading up to the shooting it appears evident that this man was shot and killed in front of his 4 year old daughter and his fiancé without merit.  I am so sorry about that.

I am sorry that I made a snap judgment when I didn’t know the facts.  That is wrong.  I am sorry that I am thankful to be white every time I get pulled over by the police.  That is wrong.  I am sorry that this man died in front of his family in such a brutal way.  Any way you cut it, That is wrong.   I am sorry that no one offered him medical help while he passed away right in front of an officer.  That is just plain wrong!  I am sorry that so many white conservatives, like me, have such a coarse view of this.  As a pastor, I am sorry that I didn’t instantly weep for his eternal soul.

Secondly, the acknowledgement.  Something is broken.  If you are a black man your chances of having a negative experience with the police are much higher!   Let’s face it, if the man in the car would have been wearing a white dress shirt and tie do you really think he would have been shot so quick?  The answer is NO. We have a problem and we must acknowledge it.  Why? I don’t know but that is a problem.  Actually there are lots of problems.  We have a problem in the minority community with broken families and absent fathers.  Most shootings in the African American community are not from Police Officers  they are  from other minority males.  Does this contribute to the original reason for this post?  I don’t know but we can never fix a problem until we admit we have one.  And we have problems on both sides.

Finally, Answers.  I wish I had an easy one.  But it is impossible to even attempt an answer r9vlzWLs_400x400without falling into one of the two extremes in these discussions.  Either we are pro-police or pro-thug.  If you question the actions of the law enforcement officers you are viewed as pro-crime.  If you challenge the moral deficiency in the inner-city, African American community you are a racist and don’t understand the plight of the oppressed.  Is it possible to embrace traditional values, love the rule of law and defend a black man who was shot during a traffic stop?  It should be, but it is difficult.

We have proven the answers are not within us.  When we lean on ourselves we divide, fight and drive both sides further into our own biased holes.  Each night we gather our best pundits and have them scream it out on TV News shows.  This is no answer, actually it is part of the problem.  There is no political answer.  Noble ambition that we will all wake up and come to our senses is futile. A problem this big needs supernatural help.

We need Jesus!  We need to fall on our face and repent of our arrogance, we need to cry out for mercy for our lack of concern for the dying.  We need to beg God for forgiveness for our lack of respect for authority, our bitterness and rebellion.  We need to earnestly seek divine intervention for our broken families and culture. This would open us to His grace that when extended melts heart, changes minds, restores lives and makes friends out of enemies. Without this kind of transformation we can only expect another protest, more name-calling, even greater polarization around faulty premises and most of all more senseless deaths.  God help us… God help me!

 

 

 


The Danger of Freedom

This past weekend we celebrated our 240th year of independence as a nation. America has been a shining light to the world for more than 2 centuries as we have pursued the experience of freedom. Although we haven’t always got it right we have steadily moved forward towards “liberty and justice for all”.

As we celebrate our freedom let me pose these questions. Is freedom without limits? If freedom has limits who gets to set them? If freedom has limits is that really freedom at all?

If you Google “freedom” we find the following…”the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”  In this definition freedom is without “restraint”.   Everyone doing anything and everything they desire. This is defined as freedom. One blogger recently wrote, To me, freedom is not only being free, but feeling free; to do, to say, to be, to literally (anything) – whatsoever and however, wherever and whenever. Because I am myself, and only I own me.

As I have pondered that thought I began to question if this is at all a possibility. Although no one wants to be that person who restricts another’s rights somewhere freedom must have a limit. Freedom without “restraint” is potentially a very dangerous thing.

All freedom comes with the responsibility of restraint.

There is no such thing as healthy unbridled freedom. Even in the perfect world after creation, God gave Adam and Eve the gift of free moral agency —the freedom of choice—but even then God gave them limits to their freedom.

The danger of freedom is unrestrained behavior. True freedom must involve both liberty and limits because freedom without restraint always leads to bondage.

Food without restraint… creates major health issues, Driving without restraint…kills people, Pleasure without restraint… creates laziness, Spending without restraint creates debt, Morality without restraint… breeds corruption, accumulating without restraint creates selfishness, and on and on freedom without restraint goes further into bondage.

Our first parents learned this early. As soon as they exercise freedom without restraint and eat that which they were free but forbidden to do, We then find them hiding from God, accusing one another, being kicked out of the garden, and suffering the consequences of their actions by witnessing their son murder his brother. Actually through their unrestrained freedom they entered into and brought all humanity into the greatest bondage of all…. SIN.

When freedom is exchanged for a license to do whatever you want apart from God’s laws of life, it becomes sinful tyranny in your life and in the lives of others.

Our founding fathers envisioned this idea of self-government, that within every American there would be a sense of moral understanding that would guide our behavior. They knew without this God-given moral self-governance it would be impossible to maintain our freedom. In his writing on the American freedom experiment the Frenchman Tocquevville pondered the need for moral restraint when he said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” “When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education . . . the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint. It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold.   They neglect their chief business which is to remain their own masters.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

In America we cannot continue to exercise liberty without limits without the consequence of enslaving ourselves. Many a society in history has “freedomed,” their way into bondage.

As a nation, let us never forget that freedom is a gift from God that was given to us at a great cost. Millions of men and women have paid a dear price for our national freedom, we owe it to them to live within the moral restraints of our Maker so that we ensure their sacrifice was not in vain.

As individuals true freedom is found in the garden of God’s grace, in abiding in God’s presence and living again in a right relationship with our creator. The only access to this kind of freedom is found through Jesus who is able to set us “free indeed”. (Jn. 8:36)

May God grant us the grace to know true freedom, the wisdom to know where the limits on our freedoms lie, and the courage to live within the lines.

 

 

 

 

 


What do we do now?

This headline is not original with me. Shortly after the news began to break about the tragic terrorist attack in Orlando, a friend posted this question on his Facebook timeline. I believe my friend articulates the cry of every one of us as we watch the world we live in get more difficult to understand. What do we do now?

On Sunday morning as most were waking up preparing to enjoy a beautiful day of worship or relaxation a nightmare scenario was unfolding in Orlando. For more than 3 hours a man had been shooting, holding hostage and destroying the lives of dozens of families. What we witnessed on Sunday was the worst mass shooting in American history: 49 lives tragically killed in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. The terrorist was Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, a devout American-born Muslim who had pledged his allegiance to ISIS and who this morning (Tuesday 6 AM) has been identified by CNN as himself a gay man.

Few news stories have the convergence of so many controversial cultural issues all wrapped up in one. Nabeel Qureshi once a Muslim, now a Christian summed it up well this week when he said,  None of us can think entirely objectively, especially at the heels of a terrorist attack charged with so many political controversies. The rhetoric and agendas are flying, even though the dust has not yet settled. Gun control? Homophobia? Islamophobia?

What are we going to do? Although we all have the same reality, we all certainly do not have the same reaction. Everyone has to answer that question for themselves. Some believe this is primarily a Gun issue. Perhaps there is something we can do to limit gun crime. If there is we should do it! Yet it seems impossible to prevent someone who is determined to do harm to another from finding a way to destroying lives. If people want to hurt people, they will find ways to do it. Hate is stronger than any restriction!

Others believe this is a Gay rights issue, that those who are gay are being persecuted. Let me be clear, there is no place for violence towards anyone based on a difference of opinion. Just because we disagree over something doesn’t mean we should hurt the other nor does it mean that we should, for our disagreement, be called hateful! In this case this is complicated given the news that this man was himself gay and had been active in that lifestyle for years.

And then others believe this is a God issue. Dr. Everett Piper said “This man didn’t have a gun issue, he had a god issue.” According to this terrorist his god allowed for the slaughter of innocent Americans. The greatest influence in any of our lives is our god, defined as that thing that we love, serve or fear the most. Our god will ultimately have the greatest influence in our life. The issue of his Muslim faith and radical Islamic views are certainly relevant to this discussion as all these things are.

So, What are we going to do?

John 1:17 tells us something about Jesus that I believe helps us as we wrestle with this question. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  In my understanding we must deal with every issue of life trying to understand how these two things apply; GRACE and TRUTH.

Jesus came into this world and illustrated these for us like no other. On the one hand no one was more gracious, kind, loving and forgiving than Jesus. And yet, no one was more unbending and direct about morality, truth, sin and eternity than our Savior.   He exhibited beautifully both sides of the coin, grace and truth. His life was the portrait of grace and truth.  His death is a beautiful, painful picture of his love for us and yet his view sin.

So what should we do? My aim is to be like Jesus and never lose grace towards those I disagree with. I want to love the hurting, care for the broken, lift up the sinful. Like Jesus I want to “do good to those who hurt me and pray for those who persecute me”. And yet I want to do this without compromising God’s truth on the issues of morality and religion that are so prevalent in our society. It is possible to be both gracious and have an unrelenting commitment to truth. Oh may we all find the truth about these issues and express grace to a hurting world!


Hand, Head or Heart?

For sure, we are living in crazy times. Not a day passes that we do not watch another tragedy of evil unfold before us. A red scrolling banner declaring “Breaking News” at the bottom of a cable news outlet is now a regular occurrence in our homes. Our news feed is bombarded with another breaking story; A car bomb, a hostage situation, a terrorist attack in Paris, or San Bernardino or an active shooter right here at Bridgewater Plaza.

As each tragedy comes and goes the days following are dominated by the discussion of the same question, Why do these things happen? Why do people walk into a Christmas party and open fire with automatic weapons? How can the mother of a six-month old baby go on a homicidal rampage knowing she is leaving that child alone on earth? Our airwaves are filled with experts all wrestling with the problem of suffering and evil in the world.

What is the answer to this question? Eventually everyone has an answer and the answers seems to center around one of three things, the Hand, the Head or the Heart. For some the HAND is the issue. For them at the root of the problem lies a need for more laws. Particularly in our culture today there is prominent discussion about passing more restrictive gun laws. The proponents of this are adamant that if we have greater laws then suffering of these kinds will be diminished. If we can restrict, by law, the hand of an individual we can bring an end to this. Others see all of these tragedies as an issue of mental health. The logic is that “no person in their right mind shoots people on live television”. We spend considerable time looking into the background of the perpetrators of these deeds and surmise if we could have gotten them to a counselor sooner or prescribed a medication prior to their tragedy this could have all been prevented.  For some all of this is a HEAD problem.

I am not an expert in either the field of gun legislation or mental health. My belief is there certainly is a place for sensible gun laws. I also have been involved in the compassionate treatment for people who genuinely suffer from mental illness. But are these the root cause of all of this madness? Is everyone who does something wicked mentally ill?  Would a new law prevent another murder?

Not much is spoken in our culture about the HEART as the source of the evil and suffering in the world. Perhaps it is because this is a theological answer in a culture that is not big on including God. However, I believe at the core of the issues in this world lies a heart that is twisted against doing what is right. The heart drives a man to look then lust then leap into sin shattering his marriage. The unbridled heart full of anger causes rational people to do the unthinkable.   Jesus said it like this;  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

We should know by now there are not enough laws to prevent a heart bent on destruction nor can we simply lock-up, medicate or counsel beyond those who have propensity to hurt others, for that is all of us. We have a heart problem.

When we realize this as the core issue not only do these things begin to make sense but we are also closer to finding legitimate answers to this age old question.   The one who created us can re-create us into his image and make us something better, different than we were before. It is why my friend Randy can today pastor in NY state although he was once a felon and a fugitive from the law. His hand and head changed when his heart was changed by the power of Christ!

We must understand that we all need good laws, and we must serve to heal those who may be mentally broken, however, we must realize there will never be peace in the hand or the head until there is peace in the heart. And that my friend, only Jesus Christ can give.


BE READY: Instructions for Last Days living

8 things you ought to be doing to prepare for the end of the world.

We live in interesting days don’t we?  Some are even saying that the days in which we live are the “last days”.   There has been significant discussion even books printed concerning the total lunar eclipse that has happened 4 times in 2014 and 2015 producing a Red (Blood) Moon.

Many are intrigued some infatuated with the potential of earth shaking events taking place in the near future. There has been quite a conversation in the church world with regards to things that may take place even this Fall. (perhaps even this week) A few popular authors have inspired discussion amongst Christians revealing to them that we can know the signs and the seasons and perhaps even the day when the Lord Jesus will return. I’m not that good or that confident but I do read and have been reading an author who wrote under divine inspiration concerning these things. The one I’ve been reading is not a popular televangelist nor a prominent modern, Messianic Jew. I’ve been reading the Bible.   Peter under divine inspiration deals end times matters very directly.

The book of I Peter is filled with admonitions for Christians of all times and all places on how to live READY for the coming of the Lord.   It is a mistake for us as believers to think that we should change the way we live today because there is about to be a rare lunar eclipse…   The Apostle Peter under divine inspiration did not see a difference between normal Christian living and last days Christian living. He believed that all Christians at all times should live READY for the coming of the Lord.

In his first letter, Peter helps us understand his INTERPRETATION of the LAST DAYS.

His analysis of the days in which they lived and we live are described in these verses

1:5   “Salvation is ready to be revealed in the last times”

1:13 “Prepare for the revelation of Jesus Christ”

4:5b “To him who is ready to judge the living and the dead”

4:7a “The end of all things is at hand”

4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin”

5:4   “When the chief shepherd appears”

5:6   “So at the proper time”

5:10   “After you have suffered a little while”.

It sounds as though he was referring to his own days being the “last days”. Was he mistaken? Or did he know more than we know?

Note 3 things about these passages that are referenced from I Peter…

  1. Peter understood and believed that the “last days” in Biblical understanding was the times between the ascension and the second coming of our Lord Jesus. He and we are living in the “last days”… I John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
  2. Some of these phrases from I Peter refer directly to the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 AD (this being written in approx. 60-65) while others refer to the coming of the Lord. (Which we still await)
  3. Peter saw no difference between normal Christian living and last days Christian living…

What Peter does is give INSTRUCTIONS for LAST DAYS living.

The Book of I Peter is literally filled with admonitions and instructions on how all Christians should be living…Whether it is the destruction of Jerusalem that is coming or the judgment of the world that is near.

So, If you are wondering what you need to do in the perilous times here are 8 instructions from Peter to us for last days living

 1. Be proven GENUINE in your Testing.   1:3-9

that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

The first thing we must do to ensure that we are ready is to make sure that we possess saving faith in Christ. Without genuine faith in Christ no one is ready for him to return.   We need a baptism of genuine conversions in this day and age!

2. Be HOLY in your Living. 1:13-15

as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

This book is filled with the admonition to live according to the power provided by the Holy Spirit and therefore living a life of purity.

We are told that we have been ransomed from our old ways.. That we have been chosen as a holy people… We are told we are not at home in this world… but are sojourners… strangers here… therefore do not embrace the wicked lifestyle of the world. We are told to abstain from passions of the flesh… 2:11 Told to keep our conduct honorable among unbelievers…2:12   Told to die to sin and live to righteousness… Keep our tongue from evil and are lips from speaking deceit turn away from evil and do good. 2:11 Live according to the will of God by the Spirit. 4:2 Live in the Spirit the way God does… 4:6 Everything we do bring glory to God 4:11

3.  Be SUBMISSIVE in our Serving. 2:13-17

Peter envisions that the believer who is living ready for the Lord’s return will be one who honors those who are placed in authority over them…

15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

God doesn’t need us to rise up and create his Kingdom on earth, he needs us to live right and holy in a dark and sinful world and earnestly await his appearing…

4.  Be FOCUSED in our Praying. 4:7

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.

The reality and sobriety of the coming destruction of Jerusalem led Peter to remind these believers that they should be sober and self controlled in order that prayer might be a regular and powerful part of our lives as we live ready!

5.  Be INTENTIONAL in our Loving. 4:8-10

v.8 Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sin. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

He envisions that believers should love one another sincerely and graciously.   He further admonishes us to regularly, freely and intentionally spend time encouraging one another.

6. Be PATIENT in your Suffering. 

Peter tells us a few important things about suffering…

  • We should Expect it… 4:12,19
  • We should suffer because of Good not Evil. 4:15
  • We should Rejoice in it. 4:13 Because Jesus suffered 2:21, Faith is purified through it, 1:6-7
  • We should Realize we are not alone. 5:9
  • We should Trust God to bring us through it. 4:19 entrust their souls to a faithful creator

7.  Be ALERT in our Striving.       5:8-9

 v.Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith,

8.  Be ENCOURAGED in your Waiting.       5:10-11

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Conclusion

So what is going to happen this week in the world?

What is Iran going to do? Will there be another stock market crash?

Will we as Christians soon be persecuted?

I don’t know. It matters not, what does matter is that we live ready for the coming of the Lord!

Do not get caught up in the hype and panic of a moment… Satan wants us to be confused and in to live in fear. But if we will embrace Peter’s admonition we will be ready when the Lord returns.

In the meantime,

Do NOT be ANXIOUS

Do NOT be INVISIBLE

Do NOT be QUIET

Do NOT be AFRAID

Do NOT be DRAWN away by this world!


Fresh Air

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4 NASV

My wife and I love old farmhouses. We are fortunate enough to pastor in Virginia where they abound and are even more fortunate to own one. Call us traditional, nostalgic or just old-fashioned, we love the aura of these old homes.

It’s certainly not the amenities that attract us to these homes. There are plenty of challenges to living in an old farmhouse. Low basement ceilings, small or no closets, and walking through one bedroom to get to another, just to name a few.

Our home had the unique challenge of having no central heat or air on the second floor. This has been a nuisance since we purchased the home several years ago. We are always trying to find a simple solution. Several times I have gone to a home improvement store and bought something that was inexpensive and easy to install. We always ended up with the same thing; a portable, inefficient and inferior device trying to heat or cool the air upstairs. The air was neither as clean as the main floor, nor the right temperature. The upstairs had a simple problem, it always mirrored the outside temperature; cold in winter, hot in summer.

A few months ago we were in need of a new HVAC system and we decided this was a good time to go ahead and run the ductwork to the second floor.

There was one major problem; how would we get the air from the basement where the main unit resides to the second floor of the home? This was no small dilemma! We didn’t want to consume valuable space on the main floor by running ductwork right through the heart of the kitchen, living room or dining room. How would we get much needed fresh air upstairs? There seemed to be no good path.

As a pastor, I regularly face a similar dilemma.   How desperately I need the fresh air of the Holy Spirit flowing into my life and our church. Without the prevailing work of the Spirit, the church, like our upstairs, assimilates to whatever the outside temperature of the world is at that moment. We can be certain we are not in revival when our churches reflect the spiritual temperature of the world.   The fresh air of the Holy Spirit provides spiritual “temperature control” helping us to be different and make a difference. It is the prayer of those longing for revival that the power of the Spirit would flow unimpeded through lives, families, churches and our world once again. Oh how we need fresh air!

The effects of a Spirit-less church are tragic and visible; services are dead, prayer meetings are sparse, preaching is fruitless and worldliness abounds in our lives.

Much like my home, we often try to solve our problem with inferior alternatives. Some believe theological liberalism is the new and wonderful way, others believe we need a new style of worship, some believe we need to be more relevant, others believe the path forward is to go backwards into traditionalism, and yet others believe strict adherence to their pet issues is the answer to revival. Through our feeble attempts, our churches become cluttered with man-made religion, dead traditions, spiritual pride, human control, liberalism, or legalism and yet remain the same spiritual temperature.

We soon discover there really is no cheap or easy substitute for experiencing the power of the Spirit.

Oh, let me finish the story about our house. We discovered an abandoned chimney running up through a closet (which we had built) of a main floor bedroom. A place that if the chimney were gone would provide space for new duct work to the second floor. The contractors could easily run the new channels if we would only take the time to remove the chimney and clean out the clutter that surrounded it in the storage room in the basement. Both of these were sizeable tasks, but the issue before us was clear.   Keep the clutter and the useless brick chimney or remove everything that stood in the way and experience clean air upstairs.

Over the course of several days while I chipped away at the chimney in a small cramped space of a closet, we also worked to eliminate unnecessary clutter from the storage room. Finally new lines were installed and our second story office and bedroom were filled with the cool breezes of cold air in the heat of summer.

The spiritual application is clear.   We need Jesus more than anything in our churches, yet too often we are full of stuff we don’t need or don’t use and we find ourselves too sentimental to discard it. We need once again to simply do whatever it takes to have the Holy Spirit unleashed in our midst.

God’s path to renewal always begins by removing the stuff that takes the place of His work in our lives, be it sin or stuff, the things that crowd out the fresh air of the Spirit must go!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51 NASV

I am encouraged to know that God is more anxious to revive His church than we were to condition the air of our home.

…And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Jn 20:21-22

Lord, reveal to us that which hinders the moving of your Spirit in our life. Remove it, we ask, and revive us once again with the clean fresh air of your Holy Spirit.