Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ouch, That Hurt!!

Almost a year ago now I was trimming the hedges in our backyard with an electric trimmer. I was being a stupid man, standing on the ledge of our picket fence about six feet off the ground, walking along the ledge and the top of the pickets trimming the hedge line. The next thing I knew I was lying in the neighbor’s backyard shaking my head while stars went around and around. I wasn’t sure what happened. I assumed I lost my balance. I got up, shook myself off, and walked to the garage. I put the hedge trimmer up and decided that was enough for one day. Later that evening, the index finger on my left hand began to swell and hurt.
“Great,” I thought. “I’ve jammed my finger.” I still didn’t think much about it.
Until the next day.  It continued to hurt and turn blue. Then I went to the doctor. It was x-rayed and the doctor determined no broken bones. A few more days, more pain, more swelling. Finally a CT Scan. Still, all the tests were coming back that there was no muscle or nerve damage. Finally, I went to see a hand specialist. In the meantime, I had no use of that finger. After spending time with the hand specialist, he said, “tell me what you were doing when this happened.”
I told him what happened and he looked at me and said, “I think we need to do surgery and see what is going on.”  I don’t have to tell you that did not excite me at all. I’m not one for doctors, medicine, surgery, or the like unless it is absolutely necessary.
I’ll never forget me coming out of anesthesia in the operating room, and the doctor walking over with something lying in the palm of his hand. It looked like half the size and span of a toothpick.
            He smiled and said, “I think we found the culprit.”
            Apparently, the electric trimmer had sliced off a part of the bush with such force that it entered my hand like a bullet. There were never any puncture marks in my hand, but the piece of wood was there, nonetheless. I’m glad the doctor asked me what I had been doing when it happened. Everybody else had told me just to let it heal.
“Wrap it up, it will be fine,” someone said.
If I had not gotten that piece of wood out, something that didn’t belong in my hand, there would have been serious repercussions along the way.
            If we want to see a movement of God in our world, we’ve got to start with the right mindset. The right mindset comes from thinking the right beliefs. The right mindset is kept by knowing what caused the wrong beliefs in the first place. We must get the wrong beliefs out of our minds, or we will have serious repercussions along the way. If we don’t know the history, we may be rendered ineffective like a hand with a piece of wood stuck inside.

I'd like to know what wrong beliefs you struggle with that need to be removed. Let me know.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Millennial Barrage

I really am beginning to tire of hearing about all this “millennial” speak.  I don’t know if my mom and dad’s generation spoke so often about the “Gen X-ers” or not, but I sure don’t remember it. I think, in part, we have so hyped up this terminology, that is has become nothing more than a marketing gimmick for books, lectures, seminars, and the like and the revenue that come along with these.

Make no mistake, the world is different now than when I was a young person, but the world was different from when my mom and dad were young people, too.  And the world will be different for the next generation. We act like “millennials” have just arrived on the planet from some far off galaxy and know nothing about planet Earth. The fact that we continue to lump everyone born during those years (and no one can agree the exact years, some say 1980-2002) is the easiest way to build obstacles when it comes to communicating to them.

Baby boomers had the television, Gen X had the personal computer, and Millennials have the smart phone/tablets. Baby boomers main form of communication was the telephone, Gen X was the email system, and Millennials has become social media: Instagram and SnapChat.
Serving as a student pastor for many years, along with producing a nationally syndicated radio show for students for fifteen years, I’ve come to a certain realization about young people. With all of the differences generationally and technologically, there are some simple truths that can be used to communicate with this age group.
They are:

1-Be real. That means be yourself, not someone you aren’t. Young people see enough “plastic people” in their every day lives.

2-Don’t sugarcoat the issues. Be honest. It’s possible to speak truth and still make an impression. In fact, even if they don’t like the truth, they’ll probably respect you for telling it to them. Eventually, if not immediately.
3-Admit when you are wrong.  I already know you aren’t perfect—so do the millenials.
4-Listen as much as you want to be listened to.
5-Make them feel like their ideas matter. Why? Because they do.

So, what do you think? Sounds like an easy list to me. As a matter of fact, I think this list would apply to most of us, regardless of age.

Follow Jack on Twitter @jackeason 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Looking for Love?

If you are over forty, you probably read the title and wanted to break out into song. “Looking for love…in all the wrong places…looking for love…” This Willie Nelson song is well known by most. And the title reflects the reality of our lost world and the culture in which we as Christ followers live. What’s unfortunate, however, is those who are outside the church have often looked to the church for love only to walk away feeling dejected, perhaps even rejected, and empty because they couldn’t find the real love they were searching for. Even when I type out that statement, my heart is saddened. I hope your heart is as well. If not, then, please keep reading because I hope this book will help you begin to realize why we as the Church are part of the problem when it comes to our world b
eing transformed.
The reason I am saddened is because people who are outside the kingdom of God have no happy ending if we truly believe the Scriptures. Their eternal destiny is not in a place of hope or refuge or eternal happiness and joy. The Bible teaches us that the destiny of unbelievers is a place called Hell. The reason hell is bad is not because of the heat and the little red demons we have popularized and reduced hell to be; hell is bad because God isn’t there. The absence of the presence of God. No protection. No provision. No power. No God.
As I am writing this, we are in the midst of another election cycle, and the whole world is in “freak-out” mode about whom the next President will be. Wars are breaking out around the world, terrorism is on the rise, opinions are being thrown out into the social media landscape, and in many American cities there is civil unrest. Some people are even asking, “Where is God?”
God is here. His presence is in His people. Let that sink in. God is present in you through the Holy Spirit. He is present in other believers through the power of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine what the world would be like if the presence of the Holy Spirit was not in us? If God’s Spirit in the world was gone? Talk about chaos! The world would be much worse than it is right now!

But then the flip side of that idea should make you and I ask, “If the Holy Spirit is in me, and in other believers, what kind of impact could we make?” The key, if you will, to changing or transforming our culture is Jesus on display through us where we live, work, and play everyday. That’s the only way we will see a move of God in our neighborhood or in our nation. Christ in me, the hope of glory, right?
According to Paul’s letter to the Church at Colosse, that’s the way to see a movement of God. I love how the New Living Translation states it: For God wanted them to know the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you
How awesome that CHRIST IN YOU can transform the world! How have you seen God use you?
Share with me in the comments below please.

Follow Jack on Twitter @jackeason

Monday, August 8, 2016

What is Real Fellowship anyway?

Growing up in the South, I thought fellowship was a noun, a thing. I always used to hear “there’s going to be a fellowship.” And of course, in the South, it always revolved around food. In fact, to make it alliterative, we always talked about food, fun, and fellowship. The three could not happen independent of one another and when fellowship happened, it was understood that food and fun would be accompanying it. What really is real biblical fellowship?
The real companionship or communion that describes real fellowship is found in...
Acts 2.

 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
The text says that one of the proofs of fellowship is that all of the believers were of “one heart and one mind.” I love that! Don’t be confused here. It’s not saying they all agreed. It’s not saying they all liked the same things. They each had their own personality and maintained their own individuality, but they were of ONE heart and ONE mind. How is that possible? I believe, in part, it’s possible because they had the bigger picture in mind. Have we lost the big picture in North America? Our churches sometimes act as clubs to which we are members and when we don’t get what we won’t, we complain or move on to another ‘club.’ Is that the picture of the New Testament fellowship we see here? I don’t think so.

The people in John and Peter’s day saw the big picture. And they were able to see the big picture because their focus was on the right person: Jesus. Notice they prayed and worshipped, and as a result of their focus, fellowship happened. They had ONE heart and ONE mind. Does that describe your church? Is there ONE heart and ONE mind? For that to happen, each individual mind and heart must be focused on the WHO of Christ. And for that to happen, it means self-denial. Not a common word you hear anymore, especially in our churches. We think self-denial is a bad thing, but it’s obvious that without it, there is no way a group can be of ONE heart and ONE mind.  Are you wiling to deny your self for the wishes of someone else? Do you have to always get your way? Are you the one always being served?

I must be honest. I am still working on this. But I think I have come a long way. What really begin to change my heart were long-term mission trips out of the country. I have had the honor of seeing God at work in many countries like the Dominican, Haiti, Bolivia, Brazil, and Africa. In each of those overseas trips, God always took us by surprise. Schedules changed, transportation was not dependable, we were unable to meet at regular meal times, the amenities of indoor plumbing and/or heat and air-conditioning were not always available. In a sense, God used these experiences to break me and humble me. I began to realize the things I thought I needed to survive were not really needs, they were “wants.” I remember standing in a shower in Salvador Brazil looking up at the sky one morning. Yes, it was no inside shower. A showerhead sticking out of the side of a falling concrete wall and semi-warm water, that was it.  I was there leading worship for a M.K. (Missionary Kids) Camp. Standing under that showerhead that morning, I thought to myself, “If I can handle this, I can handle anything.”  I realized that week (and am reminded every time I go overseas) that most of the stuff I get agitated about when it comes to material possessions really doesn’t matter that much. I wonder if that was how the people in Peter and John’s day felt. It had to be. We are told from the text that they shared everything they had. When someone had a need, the group met it. Do you belong to a church like that? Are there people in your church who have a need that is going unmet? Have you seen your church provide for people in your midst in a phenomenal God-like way?

Follow Jack on Twitter @jackeason

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Passion!- Where is it?

It's become increasingly hard for me to watch TV because of all the ridiculous advertisements that use their version of passion. Trying to sell cars, hamburgers-you name it, with scantily clad ladies licking their fingers as if to tempt us to buy what they are selling.

The world around us is confused about what true passion really is. What I see missing in the world, is real zeal and passion for things that matter. The current generation has taken their lead from us, and unfortunately, we have not done well at showing them true passion. We have left them dazed, lethargic, and apathetic because we haven't modeled the passion that God gives to each of us to help us in fulfilling His will.

All of us as believers should have a passion to be used by God. We should all desire to impact His Kingdom for His Glory. Ferdinand Foch, commander and chief of the allied armies in France during WWI said, "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."  Passion is very important in leadership.

There is a tale told of that great English actor Macready. An eminent preacher once said to him: "I wish you would explain to me something."
          "Well, what is it? I don't know that I can explain anything to a preacher."
          "What is the reason for the difference between you and me? You are appearing before crowds night after night with fiction, and the crowds come wherever you go. I am preaching the essential and unchangeable truth, and I am not getting any crowd at all."

Macready's answer was this: "This is quite simple. I can tell you the difference between us. I present my fiction as though it were truth; you present your truth as though it were fiction."

Are you passionate about serving God? We are all passionate about something. Some of us are passionate about sports. Some passionate about music, etc. Are we as passionate about our service to the Lord? People are watching us to see if we are. Do you know anyone that exudes passion for life, for God?

I'd love you to share their name below as a sign of honor for their lives!