Wednesday, October 31- High Voltage Faith- Auxiliary Power

      (Wednesdays are Bible Study Day here at Stick With Jesus. Today, we begin a new study about power called High Voltage Faith.)
     When I was a kid, my brother had a car stereo with an 8-track player. He wasn’t using it so he had it on a shelf in the basement. Well…I thought it would be totally awesome to have a stereo, so I cut the plug off of an extension cord and hardwired it to the car stereo. (Can you see what’s coming?!) I then went to plug it in…to the wall! It NEVER dawned on me that there were no speakers in the system, so even if the whole power thing HAD worked, there would be no sound! I plugged it into the wall…and a huge blue fireball flew out of the wall! It made a horrible GRRBBNT sound and a charmingly acrid smell poured out of the outlet! Oh yeah, and the power went out! As I stood there, stunned to the point of paralysis, I heard my dad yell my name! Aaaaawwww SNAP, son!
     Today we will look at auxiliary power – the power that is required for correct operation of an electrical device. Auxiliary power is supplied by an external auxiliary power source rather than the main line. It is an energy that is supplemental to the main power source- imagine a car battery. 
     So, an external auxiliary power source rather than the main line. Let’s look at a Biblical example of that. The background to this particular story is this- Abraham leaves his home for a land God is going to show him and his nephew Lot tags along. There is, along the journey, some strife and the two decide to go their separate ways. Lot heads to the fertile Jordan Valley, while Abraham goes to the desert hills of Canaan. Then there is an uprising from the 4 northern kings in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot is captured. Abraham hears of this “revoltin’ development” and goes out and rescues Lot and his family.
     The situation in Sodom and Gomorrah becomes critical and God intercedes! 2 angels arrive in Sodom and Lot is sitting at the entrance to the city. He sees the angels and bows with his face to the ground. He invites them in for dinner and they agree. Some men from the city come and want to do so bad stuff with them. The angels have seen enough.
    
Genesis 19:12-26-  12 The two angels said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.  15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
     In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to keep their lives will lose them. But those who give up their lives will save them.” Wait…remember her? We don’t even know her name. Why would we remember her?
1. We should remember her because who you hang around with is important. Do you think your friends and acquaintances are a positive influence? Willie McGee was a rookie outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and all-star shortstop Ozzie Smith was his roommate. McGee ended up being a league Most Valuable Player and a World Series hero. When asked about what had helped him get where he was, he said that hanging around with a future Hall of Famer strengthened his game. But the opposite is also true- hanging around “worldly” people weakens our faith.
2. We should remember her because our lifestyle has a direct impact on others. If we fuss, fight, argue and have a bad attitude, what will we expect our kids to do? If we attend church sporadically, focus on ourselves, never pray, study the Bible or talk about Jesus, what do we expect will be the logical outcome? If we never evangelize, never get involved, what will our kids do? But if we lead Godly lives, then perhaps the next generation will, also.
3. We should remember her because the 10 commandments are not trivial. We should take God seriously. Is God serious about worship? Hebrews 10:25 says, “You should not stay away from church meetings, as some do, but you should meet together and encourage each other.” Is God serious about prayer? 1Thesselonians 5:17 says, ?Pray continually”. Is God serious about priorities? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Is God serious about evangelism? Mark 16:15 says, “Go everywhere in world, tell the Good News to everyone.” Is God serious about repentance? Acts 2:38 says, “Change your hearts and lives, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We should stop always questioning the process and start enjoying the product. We want to know the why and how so bad that we often miss the result. God wants to take us to a better, more prosperous place, so why would we choose not to move?
     Lot’s wife was warned, yet…how could this happen? How could there be such a horrible end to life when she was so faithfully warned?
1. She didn’t fail because of unbelief- When the angels came, it never says that she laughed at them or made fun of them, so she must have believed!
2. She didn’t fail because she didn’t respond to the message. She LEFT with Lot…but she lingered. It is easy to understand- we often linger, let our best years slip away. Some Christians come service after service, week after week, year after year, Pastor after Pastor, and yet they never take 1 step toward repentance! Lot’s wife did what some never do- she started. But…she looked back.
3. She failed because she had a divided heart! God was calling her to the hills, but Sodom was screaming at her from the valley. She wanted to follow God, but she didn’t want to let go of the world. She hears the rush of the water. She feels it lap at her feet. It’s decision time. But her divided heart says, “Don’t change, go back”. Then she’s in up to her ankles. God says, “Come on, reach out, there’s a new day ahead.” Then the water is up to her waist, her chest, her neck. And then, as it threatens to go over her head, she looks back…and turns to a pillar of salt. All because of a divided heart.
     And what is the outcome of a divided
heart?
A. A divided heart robs our joy! Faith does not have be a painful pilgrimage but can be a joyous adventure.
B. A divided heart slows our forward progress! God is moving, the church is growing, things are happening- that’s forward progress. But a divided heart cripples our walk, weakens our power and slows our forward progress.
C. A divided heart costs us our spiritual life! Every step becomes slower than the last, then we grind to a halt. 
     So, auxiliary power is an external source rather than the main line. It is us…without God. Do you have doubts about that? Listen to Jesus when He said, “Remember Lot’s wife”. In one ear she heard, “Turn back, just over your shoulder are the good times”. Meanwhile, in the other ear she heard, “Move forward, climb to new heights, keep going-  better days are ahead.” We want to quote Lennon and McCartney who said, “Get back to where you once belonged.” But God wants to quote REO Speedwagon who said, “Keep on rollin’”!
     Lot’s wife looks back and becomes a pillar of salt. Lot could have follow her, but he had to choose not to. The choice is ours; how well we listen determines the outcome.
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- Trunkin ‘ and Treatin’!

Tuesday, October 30- A PLEASANT Charge Conference…Who Knew?!

     Two words- Charge Conference. You are, right now, having one of 3 reactions:
1. if you are either not a United Methodist or haven’t been one very long, you are saying, “Charge WHO?”
2. If you have been a United Methodist for a while but haven’t been a part of Charge Conference, you are saying, “Oh, I think I remember hearing about that!”
3. If you are a United Methodist and HAVE participated in Charge Conference, either as a pastor or a lay person, you are saying, “Where’s the nearest baseball bat so I can club myself senseless in a vain attempt to avoid…Charge Conference?!”
     Charge Conference is an annual event in the life of any United Methodist church. It’s purpose is to celebrate the ministries of the churches and finalize their ministries for the coming year. Or at least that is the STATED purpose. I fear the REAL purpose is to slowly drive people insane, much like the Chinese Water Torture! As the pastor, I HAVE 
to go- it’s part of the job description. But I’ll be honest: if I didn’t HAVE to go…I probably wouldn’t! 
     The process begins every early fall with about 3.9 BILLION pieces of electronic paper that need to be filled out. (At least it’s electronic paper- it used to be REAL paper!) Some of them are mere carbon copies of last year’s form…and the year before that and the year before that! I would NOT be surprised to find that the information that I am dutifully transferring word for word from last years’s form to this year’s form was originally put on paper in 1943! While 3.9 billion MIGHT be a SLIGHT exaggeration, there ARE a lot of forms! And each form requires about 14 different committees, each meeting about 14 different times, in order to produce the information necessary to complete said form.
     Then, suddenly, out of the blue, all the paperwork is due…TOMORROW! (OK- it’s NOT out of the blue! It’s due 10 days prior to the date of Charge Conference and had been due at that same time since Lincoln was in office!) So finally…ALL the paperwork is done. All of the “i’s” have been dotted and all of the “t’s” have been crossed. And all of it has been electronically submitted. And then…you’re done! Wait…no you aren’t! You still have to ATTEND Charge Conference!
     So you suck it up, cajole a handful of faithful parishioners to attend with you…and off you go. You sit in a hot, stuffy church and try desperately to stay awake while you pray to God above that you have completed the paperwork properly. And inevitably…you haven’t! And finally, painfully, mercifully…it ends. You celebrate the completion of this United Methodist Boot Camp- one that happens on an annual basis- and then head home and try to forget that the whole thing happened!
     Well, I went to Charge Conference on Sunday. Counting me and my wife, there were 14 of us from my church in attendance. (There were a total of 4 churches represented there.) The folks who went were great company…seriously! The setting was comfortable. And my new District Superintendent, who is A. an old friend and B. dislikes dry, boring church as much as I do, was in charge. And it…was…great! We sang a few songs. We walked through a church service (I got to preach, which ALWAYS makes the service more enjoyable for ME!), we “voted” on about 2.5 things, ate some cookies, and then went home! It started at 2PM in a neighboring town and I was sitting in my favorite chair in my own living room by 3:10PM. Oh. My. Goodness!
     So…thank you new District Superintendent for the best Charge Conference I have attended in the past 16 years! I pray that this was a harbinger of things to come!!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- High Voltage Faith- Auxiliary Power

Monday, October 29- A Major Milestone…a Million!




     A major event happened yesterday in the life of this website! I started this site on the 19th of December, 2009. (I actually started it on the 14th of September, 2009, but I didn’t “migrate” the site to its current hosting home at godaddy.com until 12/19/09. That means the site, as it now sits, has been in existence for just shy of 3 full years- about 34 months. I have NOT posted EVERY day for all of those months…but I have come PRETTY close! I have tried a variety of things- some have stuck, some have quietly gone away. I now post two things each day- my regular post and a Bible verse of the day. 

     stickwithjesus.com got off to a very slow (one might say glacial) start! (And it wasn’t even stickwithjesus.com for quite a while- it was .net. But then .com came available and I was on it like white on rice!) There were days when I was lucky to reach double-digits on site hits. But I just kept on plugging away. Establishing a DAILY look at life forces you to do one of two things: 1. give up and quit or 2. just write, write, write…regardless of whether you feel like it or not. I chose the latter! And because of my stubborn refusal to give up, a major milestone in the life of stickwithjesus was reached yesterday. How appropriate that it was a Sunday! The milestone is that yesterday, Sunday, October 29, 2012, stickwithjesus.com experienced it one millionth hit! Yep! This site has been visited one million times! I must confess- I had NO idea what to expect when I started this, but I never imagined it would reach a million hits in less than 3 years! 

    I would like to take this moment to say, “Thank you!” The ONLY way I was able to reach this milestone, the ONLY way this site is still active and thriving is because of…YOU! You have been so steadfast in coming back again and again to read the goings on that emit from my rather odd mind! And I greatly appreciate it!

     So, this milestone begs the question- what next? Where does stickwithjesus head after a million? Well, at least for the time being, it’s “stay the course, full speed ahead”! I don’t necessarily plan on changing anything. BUT- if you have a suggestion or a request…let me know! I can’t promise I will be able to do it, but I will sure give it the consideration it’s due. Again…thank you. Please share this through social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or email a link to a friend. 

      Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

  Tomorrow- A PLEASANT Charge Conference…Who Knew?!