Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Last One

Dear friends and followers of "The Open Mike",

I am setting a new course of action and resolution to blog more often in this next year. There is a certain accountability to publishing that I miss. So, for the next year, I am endeavoring to blog at least three times a week, using the Bible reading schedule, books, articles, conversations, other blogs, etc. as fodder. I am switching the focus over to the new blog, "The Pastor's TABlet" and attempting to connect with the people of Ithaca. Look for more production in 2010. I hope you will join in on the conversations and the journey! :)

Thanks, Mike

Monday, April 06, 2009

Good Mourning

(Enter weekend weary worker)
Co-worker: (obviously a morning person) Good morning!
Weary Worker: yeah I guess, whatever... is the coffee on?

When you hear this greeting, today, think "good mourning". Mourning is rarely thought of as good. (although we use the phrases "good grief" and "Good Friday") John MacArthur sparked me this am with his devotional thoughts surrounding this verse in the beattitudes:

"Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted." Matt 5:4

The fact that God does comfort his weeping, sad, grieving children is very reassuring. It is a truth very clearly communicated in other passages (see Ps 23:4, 119:50; 2 Cor. 1:3-7). God loves to wrap His arms around us and hold us like a parent.

But the truth of the beattitudes is that there is comfort following repentance. When we are broken to the point of grieving over sin, He delights in resting and repairning our spirits. He "comforts us" or "restores us". According to Jesus, He blesses us. Blessedness is a function of completion or wholeness. He puts us back together or brings us back to spiritual health. The healer (Jehovah-Rapha) has brought peace again (Jehovah-Shaloam).

John MacArthur summarized this truth well when he said "When your sins are forgiven, you are a happy person." Grief and mourning over sin comes first, then repentance, then forgiveness and then restoration. The relief that comes from being forgiven is huge! The comfort that comes from being restored to fellowship is even huger... more huge... more better!

Once we have experienced that kind of relief, we then should become ambassadors of healing -- medicine men and women that bind up the wounds of people with forgiveness. (see Isaiah 1:5-6 to see what unforgiveness looks like before God). The world around us is chasing after "life, liberty and happiness". We, who have found it, owe it to others, who have not, to show them that real blessedness -- happiness at their soul level -- comes from Christ and forgiveness of sins.

Spread some salve, bind some wounds,
find spiritual health, get/give forgiveness

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Authority Brings Accountability

Ever been witnessing, proclaiming the good news of Christ to a friend, relative, neighbor or associate and have them respond violently to this claim of Christ as the Son of God? There is a good reason for this response. While the person may not articulate it in this way, it is ultimately a refusal to accept the authority of Christ on their life because of the connected and resultant accountability. They refuse to accept Jesus because He commands their obedience.

Luke 20:1-8 tells about an encounter that Jesus had like this with the "spiritual leaders" of His day. As He was teaching and preaching the gospel, they questioned His authority. In other words, they wondered, "Who does this guy think that he is? He can't tell us that we are wrong! He can't tell us that we are going to hell!" They began to ask Jesus questions about His right to say these things with authority.

The answer to these questions is obvious to us as believers. This issue of "who is Jesus" is the entry point to a relationship of discipleship that many of us have already addressed and settled. These leaders had not settled it! Jesus asks them about John, the Baptizer, and his authority. Jesus was claiming that He and John were on the same team and sent by the same authority. The leaders discussed and reasoned amongst themselves (in a huddle?) their answer to Jesus' pointed questions.

Their discussions revealed that they were more concerned about being stoned than getting the right answer. Their fear of men controlled their thinking. They were lost in their sin. They couldn't see past their own security and position. They refused to bend to a higher authority and become accountable to God (as Jesus and John had done). The threat of dying for what they believed (that John was a man on his own agenda) drove them to give an angry non-answer. They tried to refuse submitting to God's/Jesus's authority (a futile effort).

Jesus is the exact bodily representative of the Father, obediently doing the Father's business with all of the Father's authority and power. We must acknowledge and submit to the authority of God in our lives. Our lost friends need to hear and believe these truths too -- else they too will perish.

I am committed to following Christ's example,
to submitting to the authority that He has,
to obeying what He has instructed me to do,
to teaching the truth,
to preaching the good news,
to being accountable for my actions to One who higher than I.
To Him be all the glory,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A House of Desolation

It has been a whole month since the last post -- sorry to those who are faithful at checking the open mike! I have been reading through the gospel of Luke at a snail's pace, just stopping and sniffing at each flower. Sometimes, I might think through a passage for days before moving on to the next one. This meditative meandering has proven very refreshing to me. In a world that demands that I run full-tilt for six days out of seven, I love the slower, more deliberate pace.

Today's rumination on the Word brought me to the spot where Jesus is lamenting about Jerusalem and its not so stellar track record with the prophets. Jesus is bummed (is that a Biblical word?) about how Jerusalem has ignored His frequent attempts to bring them close and into his protective custody. Instead of being embraced by God, they have stiff-armed Him and killed His loved ones. Jesus must now proclaim over them "desolate house". The emptiness of those who are without Christ ought to sadden us too. To continually reject and ignore the advances of a loving Christ is spiritually arrogant.

1. Do you have friends who have constantly, and sometimes violently, refused to hear truth about Jesus? Does it break your heart? Weep with Jesus over the lost ones who refuse to be found.
2. Have you made the offer of refuge under the protection of Jesus to people this week? Have you made the offer known? Or is it a secret?
3. Can we make a practice of praying over our city for Christ? Is this a passage that suggests such an action for today?

I rejoice in the fact that God has the planning all worked out for us. We must trust Him to leave us here as long as the goal is unfulfilled. We journey here today and tomorrow and the next day! After that, only God knows.

in Wyoming, working the work,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The unforgivevable sin

Is there a sin that you are dealing with today? Part of the Word of Life Quiet Time Manual suggests that this is one the possible applications that may be had from any passage.

S-sin that I need to confess, repent of
P-promise that I can embrace today
E-example that I need to follow or not follow
C-command that I need to obey
T-thanksgiving or praise that I need to give to God

Today in my QT, I read Luke 11, where Jesus tells the disciples, "You can say some pretty nasty stuff against the Son of Man (Jesus), and you will be forgiven for that; but don't talk bad about the Spirit -- that's blasphemy! because that will never be forgiven." (this is a Parisphrase)
The unforgiveable sin is blasphemy against the Spirit. That is the only one! Blasphemy against the Spirit is a rejection of His power or a disregard for His work. Part of Hs work is conviction of sin. Therefore, the only unforgiveable sin is to reject the promptings of the Holy Spirit in your life. I believe Jesus is also not talking about all of the times that we blow through HS stop signs. He is talking about the future before the angels in this passage. I believe Jesus is saying that a rejection of the HS here sets you up for judgment there. SO, do not blaspheme and if you do, confess it quickly!

Listening to the HS,

Monday, October 20, 2008

City of Refuge

Here are the review notes from the message that I preached yesterday morning from Joshua 20:

Five statements that define a "city of refuge":

1. A place established according to the Word of God. (20:1-2; cf. Num. 35:6-34)

* Our goals, purposes and agendas must be Biblical and aligned to the Word.

* Ministry to people must be our priority.

2. A place to come when there is trouble in your life. (20:3-4)

* Our church must be accessible and open to all who need to come.

* Our reputation “on the street” should be positive.

3. A place where someone will listen and give Biblical advice. (20:4-6)

* Our counsel must be Biblical.

* All sin must end with us.

* Godly resolution, reconciliation and restoration must be part of our vocabulary.

4. A place filled with people who have a “rescue” story. (20:6)

* The miracle of escape from the avenger must be proclaimed often.

* Our own rescue should make us more willing to be “bound” to this ministry.

5. A place networked with others built on the same principles. (20:7-9)

* Our congregation should be strategically located.

* Our congregation should be well named and true to its calling.

Wyoming Baptist Church must be a place where broken people can find refuge and rescue from their life of running.


1. What are we willing to pay to be this kind of church? It will cost us to minister to hurting people! (Think beyond finances)

2. What might happen (positively) if we gave all to this kind of position in the community?

3. How does Luke 11:41 (from the Sunday PM service) fit with this concept of "city of refuge"?

4. Are we willing to do whatever God calls us to do even if we are criticized by others? by brothers? Are we ready to embrace the socially active aspects of the faith that we claim/proclaim?

5. If you could rename our church, what would the name to live by be? Would you include the name Baptist?

I want to offer a place of refuge to a running world,


Monday, October 13, 2008

Harvest Sunday 08

We just participated in "Harvest Sunday" last night. At the invitation of my friend Jim and Central Baptist Church, I was able to bring the Biblical challenge from the book of Ezra. It was a great joy to see people respond to the truth of God's Word and to be responsive to the call of God on their lives. Many of the people that came forward last night are simply saying I am here and available. This decision is a huge step in the process. To be willing to do "whatever" for the glory of God is incredibly freeing!

Here is the outline of the message that I shared last night:

Any great spiritual awakening results from God’s initiative:
1. He is revealing His character
trustworthiness (1:1)
sovereignty (1:2)
presence/immanence (1:3)
patience, longsuffering (1:4)
2. He is building our character (the backdrop of the exile)
3. He is equipping us to do His will (1:4-7)
4. He is stirring our spirit, inviting us to respond (1:1, 5)

All great spiritual harvests are the result of a response to God’s initiative:
1. Discover and delight in His character
a. worshiping Him
i. re-establishing the sacrificial system (3:1-7) and festivals (6:19)
ii. rejoicing over successes (3:11; 6:22)
b. proclaiming that knowledge to others –
i. Ezra made it his “job” to tell others about God (7:10)
ii. How does Cyrus know what he does about God? Perhaps by Ezra’s ministry to him? (7:27-28)
2. Appreciate His ongoing, intentional work in our lives
a. acknowledging His righteousness and justice (9:5-15)
b. growing through it (6:19-22; 10:1-3)
3. Move forward in His revealed will (both general and specific)
what He has shown us and equipped us to do (2:1; 3:8; 6:15; 7:21, 23)
4. Invite others to do the same (7:28)

So ....
  1. Is God stirring your spirit today?
  2. Are you awake now? How will you stay spiritually awake?
  3. Will you respond to His gracious initiatives?
  4. What has God uniquely outfitted and called you to do today?
  5. Will you go make a difference in His field?

I am ready, here I am,