First BLOGtist Church
Another place to hear the word of God. Cause Blogs are cool.
Spending Time with Jesus
All Day. Every Day.
By Pastor Adam Fox
Being married has brought a new experience to my life, living with a female. Some days are filled with hugs and affection, some days are alone days. It is a new adventure for me, and learning to adjust my perspective has been the hardest part.
How much she eats. Where she sleeps. Where I can pet her... to give some examples. Living with a cat has been hard.
(See what I did there)
Andrea has had a cat for 11 years. Isabella Diana Cat is our middle aged grey house cat. Andrea grew up with a dog, then transitioned to a cat and has never been happier. For me, we have never had a pet longer than a week. I was the inexperienced one.
I have always seen families with pets, with cats. And had thoughts of how cats and humans interacted. Like, I thought that cats enjoy lasagna, being picked up and cuddled, wearing hats and costumes, and easily be made to do tricks.
Boy oh boy was I wrong.
Living with a cat has been different than I expected. Both for the good and bad. But living with someone is difficult. It means taking the individual, all the ideals and beliefs and putting them together with another free thinking individual. Thoughts will be different. Habbits will be different all the way down to the little things like toilet paper will be put in the wrong direction (over the top), habits will be made and adapted. That is what it takes to live with another person or persons.
To abide with them. The other week I heard a wonderful sermon perspective being given on John 15. Normally, this passage is given about God and Jesus, or the Vine dresser and the Vine. And there are many great points that we can learn from this chapter. From analogies on growth and pruning to about Hell. But what struck me was the word abide.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Abide, or to accept or bear, in this sense does not seem to match up with what John wrote. The definition fits as well as Shaq in a tiny sport car.
But if we get to the root of this word, and most importantly how Jesus is using it in context, we will understand more of what the Good Teacher is trying to learn us. And abide is more than just live with.
Jesus wants us to abide or trust and believe in Him and God the Father. This trusting in God, this belief in Jesus in who He is and what He did for us is the most important moment of your life. It is that moment where you realize that you are a sinner and you deserve punishment for what you have done. But because of Jesus and His grace and mercy and kindness, He took the punishment that we deserve and paid for it with His life. Dead. Buried. Stone cold dead. But three days later rose from the dead and is alive today.
That moment, that special moment of trust in Jesus, when you become part of God's forever family is a life changing moment. But that is the problem. We as believers choose to stay stuck in that moment.
Think of it like this, the Catholic Cross. The cross was an important moment in History, our and the Worlds. But Protestant Christians do not worship that moment. We see the cross and understand its place, but praise the Risen Savior - the empty tomb that is no longer needed.
We are more than just Christians at that moment in time, we ARE Christians now. And should think of ourselves as abiding in God in the present tense of the word.
We are in a relationship with the Messiah. It is not just an excellent moment in time, it is a life long celebration. It is a life long relationship. and like any relationship it requires growth from us. I would like to assume that the Ideal Pastor Adam comes to a saving moment with God and stays perfect till death. But that is not it. I am a sinner. I am growing and learning still what it takes to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus here on Earth.
If we are in a relationship with the Lord, learning and growing, or abiding. We need to understand that like any relationship, it will not be perfect out of the gate. Look at the example of me and Isa the Cat.
I have learned that just because I want to pet the cat or try to put her in a funny hat, does not mean that she wants to or will let me. Let's just say she says no with her tiny little pointy claws. Eventually I will learn, and so should we. Learn and grow our active relationship with God.
We are alive and no longer dead to our sins because of Jesus. We need to live our lives every day with the confidence and understanding we are children of the risen King and are still living and following, abiding in Christ. Not just that singular moment in our past. Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep fighting sin.
We need to let the Bible, the complete and accurate Word of God change us. Mold us. Shape us into the image of Him. Will it be easy? Nope. Will it cause us to hurt? To some extent yes. If I give up smoking for example, it will be a struggle and some pain until I adjust to life without it.
Or let the Skit Guys show you how God molds us and the greater good in the Chisel.
A great way to abide in God and molded into the image of Him is by being in His Word. Studying and reading. Letting the Words of Scripture change you. Talking and Listening. All things that make us less like ourselves and more like God. Let the powerful Word transform you.
What areas do you need to let Christ mold you and form you?
Are you letting the Vine Dresser and the Vine change you and strengthen you? Or do you still thing of Jesus as that one special moment instead of a life time with us?
Did you talk and listen with God today?
Did you read and think over the Scripture too?
That is all for now my friends. School is back. So it will be a busy two months. Pray for me.
Cheers and Excelsior!
Sabbath does not need to be Black
More busy = more better?
By Pastor Adam Fox
Sometimes a TV show stumbles into a correct prediction or point about society or life. Simpsons has done it a hand full of times. But Seinfeld has too. And it is correct with George Costanza. Who in my opinion is the best character on the show.
George tells the diner gang about how he gets out of work at the New York Yankees. If he is always looking angry and frustrated and overworked, no one will ask him to do more.
George and the writers of this show stumbled into a trend of Americans today, we have to be busy. the busier the better. If our schedule or inbox for the day is not overloaded with things that only Dr Strange could do in all his mystical time powers, then we have a problem.
How did we get to this point? Why do we think it is needed to overload our work day, and then off-time as well to catch up and stay ahead. We are doing life wrong and our souls are suffering.
The temptation of busyness is something we can all fall into. Society almost has convinced us if we do not let life, or our jobs, or our social standing, or our volunteer, or whatever swallow us up, we are weak.
One area that bothers me is the urgent. My work week is different than most of peoples, and I am okay with that. I come in on Monday and plan out what I can do when and how best to us each day of the week to do my job to the best of my abilities. But I must admit, it is filled with a schedule or game plan for each day.
Planned and ordered, that is until the urgent pushes its way into my life. While urgent things are not always bad, just need to be dealt with.
More busy. More needs. More things that need to be done. Less time. What needs to be cut in order to fit it all? The time off.
Am I complaining? Nope. My work week is not much different than that of corporate America, or of a home-keeper (And I LOVE it!!). But the point is consistent through many careers and walks of life, more is not always smarter or better.
Is taking time off or resting weak or is it needed? To me it is needed and commanded.
From the first few chapters of Genesis and consistently through the Law section of the Older Testament, Sabbath rest is shown and told to do.
God set the example of resting one day a week and commanded the Israelites to do so in the Law.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11
And this is not the only time God mentions this, it is a consistent calling. But why? why is resting your body AND your spirit so needed?
God created us and knows us. He knows that while we can grind and push and labor all day every day, we will break down. We need the rest for our body, but most importantly the spirit and soul needs a break.
I can grind everyday all day until I snap. That is not healthy. But my spirit cannot come close. It needs to stop, and be refilled by the Lord.
I need to stop and come to the Lord. Spend time in the Bible. Praying to God about my needs and concerns and listen. Worship Him for who He is. That is what a Sabbath is.
It is not about the lack of work, that is not the point. It is about stopping your normal activities so that you can spend time with the God who loves you.
And it is important! Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 11.
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
God wants us to rest in Him and through Him. Look at the example of Mary and Martha from Luke 10. Martha was busy making and doing things while Mary sat in the presence of the Master.
While I am not giving you an excuse to not do your work, but Mary understood the importance of spending time with Jesus and being there.
We can learn a lot from these ladies. While work is important and needed to life, spending time with God is just as if not more.
Taking rest on a regular bases is needed. It does not mean you are weak, it means you are healthy. Make sure you find your day, your time away from the tyranny of the urgent and the busy and Sabbath. Spend time with God – the Lord of the Sabbath and He will give you rest.
Cheers and Excelsior!
Finding the Family in the Family of God
Sister Sledge had it right all this time
By Rev Adam Fox
The honeymoon was amazing, beach, theme parks, relaxing, fun, everything you want. But it ended in the best way possible, we watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 together.
Guardians 2 is the sequal to the amazingly funny space hero action comedy from Marvel. It follows a rag tag group of misfits led by Peter Quill, the Star Lord. Star Lord is determined to find out who his father was. In only the way Marvel can do it, we find out that this human's father is none other than Ego the Living Planet played by Kurt Russell.
Throughout this reunion of father and son, we learn that this father is not a great person(spoiler!), and Quill's friend and mentor, Yondu, makes him realize that Ego is his Father, but not his dad.
(I'm not crying, you're crying)
As Yondu helps us realize the importance of Family in our life. Both the ones given to us, and the ones we choose. Either way, it is something we need in our life and often over look.
Family has been on my mind for a while now. Getting married in February, and planning the sucker for the past 6 months has been a stress filled joy. But during this time, it makes me see how great and massive my family is. And now, it is even larger, deeper, greater - with a big welcome to the Moormann/Schaack family.
Family is what God has given us. To me that means the blood related folks like your parents and siblings and such. But it can also be the chosen family too. Like my chosen Grandparents - Jim and Ilene Payne and all their family. Or like my bonus brother Bobbo.
If family is both blood and chosen family, couldn't it then be Spiritual family too?
As believers in God, we are apart of a greater group than just the folks we share a pew with on a Sunday Morning.
Paul writes in Romans 12:5 "So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." One body, one big and close family!
Or look at what Paul writes in Ephesians "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."
The hardest part of being the church, of understanding that we are ALL apart of a closeness, a bond, a group of individuals that are one becuse of the saving action of Jesus on the cross. Where Jesus became my sin, He took on all the sins and evil of the world, of all of us so that we can be forgiven.
So, you have a family and a church family, and hopefully the two groups are one. But what does this extended family get you? How should we handle these new brothers and sisters?
On our honeymoon, Andrea and I stayed at the Riu Palace in Jamaica. It was as beautiful as expected and relaxing and restful as needed. One of the great features, well great for me, was the dining options. It was all you can eat, and had 6 food options in this hotel alone.
Every morning, Andrea and I would go to the breakfast buffet and find a table, and the waiter would bring out our drinks that we ordered, one coffee, one hot tea, one iced tea, and one diet coke. (guess away who had what). By the end of our trip, i noticed that the waiter remembered us and brought them out without asking.
I was so thankful, and he told me "of course my family". And it hit me, he treats the hotel guests like he would family members. With love and respect.
That is how we need to act, with our family, chosen, blood, or spiritual. And I know, easier said than done. But we need to be a unit, a family of closeness. Sharing in the joy of another believer, grieving in their loss, supporting and encouraging. Pushing and sharpening.
"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." 1 Corinthians 12 Like a family, we support each other and share in the emotions of another - happy or sad.
It hurts me to see my family being so childish or hateful towards each other. And while I have been guilty of that in the past myself, it cannot be. We need to be the Earthly examples of Jesus - of His love, and grace, and especially his kindness. And that means treating each other with the respect we each deserve.
How different could it be coming to church if you had the attitude, "I get to be with my beloved family!" Celebrating and worshiping together. Instead of "I hope blah blah blah isn't here." or " she looked horribly fat in that dress"
We are the arms and feet of Jesus here on Earth. That means how we act and how we live. And life is not always kind. We will need the support of our family, all of our family. Enjoy it.
Just as I am enjoying the Moormanns as well as the Foxs and the Paynes. Who is your family?
What Kind of Veggie is Prayer? Lettuce! (Let us Pray)
Talking to the Most High and listening to our Father
By Pastor Adam Fox
We do it before we eat. Before we sleep. In emergencies. And for good luck. It is filled with promises, some of which we do not keep, hopes, dreams, and truths. They are our prayers. We are called to be a people of prayer, but do we understand what that calling means?
I went back to college at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. I remember my first class there. It was Intro to Christian Ministry. It was a very simple course for 18 year olds, and my old self, that asked them a simple question. Do you want to be a pastor? Are you sure?
It was led by Dr Mark Quanstrom. I am lucky to have had him as my professor since now he has transitioned to a department chair and senior Pastor of College Church of the Nazarene. But while we were there together, Q always made me think. While we never saw eye-to-eye on all matters, he always made me think.
One of those areas was the simple question, "why do we pray?" There were many correct reasons why we pray, but the simple answer was the best.
We pray, because God answers prayers.
As believers in God, we can pray, and should. But what are the reasons for us. Is it because these recited phrase are good luck? Or the more we ask the more we get - the Squeaky wheel theory? Or the magic lamp theory of prayer.
No. His simple point we pray to God because God answers prayers. The answer is not always yes, it can be a no, or a not now. But God always answers them. And we as believers need to get comfort with that. The Creator of the Universe, the one who formed the snow and tells it where to go, listens to me. Cares for me.
Back to the story, Q told us this simple fact, that we pray because God answers them. He encouraged this new generation to pray, to ask for anything. God will answer. And follow up with him about what the answer was.
So, I thought about it. What if I would of prayed to win the Mega Millions and find a brand new Lamborghini. I doubt the answer would have been yes.
So I sat there in that class thinking, and prayed for two things. God answered one that year, the other has just been answered.
I prayed for friends. True friends that would support me in this new life adventure. And God provided. Bearded Steve. KP. Wide Can. Joshy and Corey to name a few. Men that sharpen me, and encourage me and I them.
The other prayer was for God to show me the woman I should marry. While God took His time in answering that, He did answer. Gods is faithful and has a plan for us. He waited for the right time for me to find Andrea.
And as of February 17, Andrea will be my wife. An answer to prayer, and an example of God's faithfulness.
But what about us? What can we pray for? How should we pray? What can prayer teach us?
We pray, openly and specifically. Let me remind you, while Prayer is this special thing, it is not something to fear. While broken down, prayer is talking and listening. We are great at talking. We talk to God about our dreams, our hopes, our fears, our goals, our leaders, our country, our family...
But we need to learn to listen. Communication is half listening. God talks to us, through different ways, but as we see in Scripture through Elijah - God speaks softy too us. He whispers.
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19
God is there, He is listening to us. He cares for our needs and desires. It is our responsibility to talk and ask, but to listen. To have good communication. And to never have the attitude that our prayers do not work.
Our prayers matter. They can do miracles because God does miracles. Look at the prayer list that we email out and print out. How many times has God done what man says cannot happen? Healing people. Saving people. To the glory of God.
And if God can heal the sick, could He heal our broken nation? YES!!!
We need to pray. Pray for our nation, it's leaders, our community leaders, our pastors, pray specifically for people. Like the great revival verse tells us to do.
14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
We need to be active in our prayer life. Using the example of Jesus Christ, the man who prayed often and always. A great example or model to follow would be the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6.
Or like the Apostle Paul who taught us by example in prayer. Who in his letters in the Newer Testament, talked about how often he prays and loves the people he regularly prays for.
Get a reputation like the Apostle James. Who has been called "Camel Knees" over his frequency to go to his knees in prayer.
Or be a modern day Daniel. Who openly prayed to God and only God. Even though it should have cost him his life. He knew it was needed and important. Especially being in a country as sinful as Babylon… or like ours.
Friends, pray hard and pray often. This is a private matter between you and the Lord. But it is important. It needs to be more than before meals and at holidays. We need to have an active prayer life with the God who loves us and sent His Son Jesus to die in our place. Talking on the punishment we deserve.
While the answer will not always be yes, and not always come in our own time period. God ALWAYS answers them and always has a plan for us. He hears us and loves us and is talking to us. Listen with me.
Will be gone for a bit to the islands. But will be back for the winter fun of Smarch. Until next time my friends.
Do You Believe in Miracles... YES!
Understanding the un-understandable
By Pastor Adam Fox
My two favorite movies are polar opposites but describe me well. The first is Dead Poets Society staring the effervescent Robin Williams.
It is a movie that challenge the human to be the best and most that they are capable of. It is filled with poetry from some of the best, and the brilliant comedy of Robin Williams.
( Bet ya didn't know Pastor Adam liked poetry?)
I would encourage you to copy the link above and watch that final scene of the movie.
It will always be in my top three.
The other movie, is kinda the opposite. It personifies patriotism and teamwork, and overcoming the odds. It is Miracle. The story of the 1980 US Olympic Men's Hockey team.
"Hockey? Blahh. " You may be thinking.
But oh no my friends. This is worth the watch.
Kurt Russell portrays determined head coach Herb Brooks as he takes an unusual group of collegiates who have to learn to work together, to put team before self, to take on the super power of the USSR Hockey team.
For them to medal, let alone win would need to be a miracle.
This was a true story and real event, but is still a movie. Hollywood has a habit of glamorizing true stories and twisting truths.
But the question is then, Do Miracles still happen?
The short answer is yes, but.
As a Christian, it is easy for me to see things in the world and say" Miracle!" Where others would just say science or nature.
Do you give credit to the hospital staff and medicine for the healing of someone very sick, or do you give glory to God? We would blinded if we do not give credit to both. But we cannot forget God. Miracles happen every day.
Look at some examples from the world of medicine.
Cancer gets treated and many people recover from it.
People that should not survive an illness, recover.
Medicine can not explain it. It just happens. It is a God moment.
Look at the Older Testament for more examples.
Abraham is walking miracle in himself. The father of many nations, but for years he was childless. But he believed and trusted. And God provided in the correct time.
And when God told Abraham to sacrifice this child, his only child. Abraham understood that the God who created everything, including his son Issac, had the power to provide and give.
He lead the nation of Israel out of Captivity by demonstrating some of Gods power in the form of the 10 plagues. Miracle number 1.
Then when the Egyptian Army tried to mow them all down in the desert by the Red Sea. God parted the Sea and gave them a path to cross to safety. Miracle 2.
If they happen so frequently, and noticeably - why do we not want to give credit to God for these miracles. For God stepping in and doing the impossible.
It requires us as humans to acknowledge that there is a God and that He is in control of everything at all times.
And that is difficult for some of us. We want to know everything. Not just that a Hot Dog is delicious, but where it is made, what is inside it, how they make it, down to what specific animals they use.
This past week, I have been studying the a miracle of Jesus in the feed of the 5000. This amazing story which can be found in Mark 6, shows Jesus making something out of very little.
With over 5000 men, plus unknown amounts of women and children, from the surrounding towns there to listen to him talk and heal. Jesus challenges His disciples to feed the crowd.
A disciple remarks it would take 8 months of waged to give the bare minimum to the people.
That is one expensive meal.
But one little boy offers his lunch. 5 small barley loves and two tiny fish, sardine size.
Not a feast, but a sufficient meal for a person. Jesus takes it, give thanks to God the Father for it, and divides it up.
Only there is always more. And more. Each person gets all they want and there is still more left!
I believe we are still living in a society where God does miracles, but we are too blind to see them.
Granted, Jesus is not here turning water to wine, or healing a leper in the middle of town. But He does still do miracles today. Then why do we find it so difficult to understand and believe?
That is the answer itself, we struggle to believe.
Miracles by definition are an unwelcome event that is not explainable by any law, that requires belief.
So, where does that leave us?
Do we ignore science and natural order completely? No.
Do we ignore God and believe in only the tangible? No.
For me, I believe in God. I am a Christian that trusts Him and His plan for my life. But that does not mean I am against science or the learned things. God created those as well.
Trust in God.
Believe in God.
Pray to God.
And God will answer.
I had a professor that exhibited His faith in God by praying. He prayed regularly for miracles for his parishioners. He taught us to pray for miracles. Pray for the everyday things. Pray for your hearts content. Just keep praying.
Nothing is impossible for our God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
Amen and Amen.
Miracles are still happening all around us. From the common tiny miracles, to the grand and eye-catching. We need to keep praying and believing that our God is in control and listens to our prayers.
Cheers and Excelsior!
Christmas movies, the real reason of the Season?
Or is it???
By Rev Adam Fox
Christmas is a very busy time of the year. It is shopping galore balanced with working like crazy for said shopping money. With family and festivities and winter weather all bunched up in a few weeks. It is a very magical time of the year, but it is also stressful. Perhaps that is why it is acceptable to have so many delicious foods and drinks. Thank you egg nog.
Outside of food, one way to battle the stresses of December, is with movies.
There are so very many Christmas movies. It is a very easy movie to do, and every sitcom to movie franchise has done one. Even Star Wars. Some traditional classics like Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Scrooge to name a few. Of course the Muppet Christmas Carol and who can forget classics like Elf or A Christmas Story or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or even Home Alone. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? (Yes. It forever will be)
Is there a movie or tv show that warms your heart more than any Peppermint Mocha ever will?
For me? The competition is great, but the best Christmas Movie is National Lampoons. Nothing beats The Griswald's and the craziness that is there family. Toss in a boss who is cheap, a cousin who is very hillbilly, and dream of a pool. And you got a great movie.
Do you need to see Tim Allen in order to do so?
Movies are wonderful and to me, they can make any day feel better. Even if I have to drive through Chicago snow, to a shopping mall to get a gift. Movies make Christmas better.
But are they the ultimate of the Christmas season?
No they are not. Movies are great. Music is festive. Trees and decorations and creative light shows are nice. Shopping, well, it is always great. But none of them are the point. The point is Jesus, God the Son stepping down from Heaven to be born of a Virgin girl to forgive sin.
Snow can be nice - I guess - Music is nice too. Presents are pretty grand. But those things are just the footnote to the real point of the season, and that is Jesus being born.
I had the opportunity to teach the other day on the Innkeeper. And while I have heard his line of Scripture from Luke 2 many times, a thought occurred. He missed it too.
The man had a business and was buy during a busy season in Bethlehem due to the census. There were many travelers, and few rooms. He had a business to run and many people to take care of. But when Joseph and his pregnant fiance came to find a place to stay - he turn them away. There was a no vacancy.
This man missed the point too. The human mother of God, carrying God the Son came to his doorstep and he did not notice. Work will always be demanding. Family and friends will always want to be together. Music and Movies run non-stop all this month. Christmas events and parties are there too. But those should be secondary compared to celebrating the fact that Jesus came to Earth. The Messiah, the one who saves. He chose to come to Earth taking this human form in order to be the perfect sacrifice for my sin. For your sin. For the WORLDS sin.
Christmas is great and memorable. But we need to remember, we celebrate because Jesus came to Earth to save sin. Let's not be like the innkeeper, and miss the point.
Cheers and Excelsior!
Say it ain't so Joe? Say it ain't so?
Identifying a REAL hero
By Rev Adam Fox
It is not a secret, I love the Chicago White Sox and I tend to idolize certain people. So it is no secret that of all the Sox achievements and great players, one of the best was Joe Jackson. Shoeless Joe was the best player in the league for a decade, and led the Sox to the 1919 World Series, until he was accused, along with 7 other players, for taking a bribe and throwing the series.
The national heart ache of such a baseball hero doing such a bad thing. The hurt. The outrage. The over-reaction.
It was just one turn in an endless cycle of heroes rising and falling for various reasons.
We all have heroes from literature, film, television, sports, politics, and so forth. When I was a little fox, I used to love watching Pee Wee's Play House hosted by the wacky Pee Wee Hermon.
It was everything a kid needed. But one day, my parents sat me and my brother down and explained that we could not watch that show anymore because Pee Wee did something wrong and disgusting. I was crushed.
Only later, when I was older did I learn what he actually did and was disgusted and appalled, a childhood hero down the toilet. But when I was little, I bounced to the next kid oriented show - Hello Ninja Turtles!
In early October, little by little, one by one did more and more accusations come up against Hollywood big wig Harvey Weinstein.
(There actually are pictures of him, I just choose not to show that jerks face.)
But scores of women have made claims that Weinstein assaulted them sexually. This ripple of sexual assault has snowballed into more women sharing personal stories of people in power abusing that authority and power into sexual assault.
This led to the #metoo campaign to give all victims a voice. If this was it, it would be horrible enough, but as the kids say - hold my avocado.
In the recent weeks there has been leveled accusations against former Presidents, congress and political men, actors and directors, sports stars, comedians, television media... and while I am not here to prove or defend the charges. It is not my place to justify these claims or to verify them. That is what the court system is for. I am not here to make this a political debate either.
Should we disregard all the claims and accusations because they are against someone we enjoy, or voted for, or root for? Yes and no. We always need to respect and love the other person as we are loved and respected. Even if we think they are wrong. Respect, but hold judgement. Let it work it's way out, the truth always finds a way out eventually. And let God be the final judge, not us.
However, I am here to ask the question no one is asking.
Who should we as believers have as heroes in the first place?
It is easy to be an American Christian and look at our favorite movies and fall in love with an actor or sports star for what they do on our television. I am guilty of placing other humans and fictionals at hero level. Mitch Trubisky can throw one heck of a spiral, Hero. Peter Parker is selfless and is Spiderman. Hero. Rainn Wilson made Dwight Schrute come alive. Hero.
But reality is not just in 30 minutes a week. There is more than just the glimpses of life we see on our screen. Football players are more than just amazing athletes. Comic fictions are not real. Actors have beliefs and choices that may not match what you expected.
But are these people who we as Christians - men and women who have chosen to believe and repent and follow the risen Lord - should be following and claiming as our heroes?
The Hero we need AND the Hero we deserve is obvious! It is the Messiah, JESUS!!!!
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17
Jesus is Hero worthy. He came to save me, to save us. Flawed and broken, and as we are. Look at Philippians 2, Jesus loved you and I so much, in that He stepped down from Heaven, and took the form of a servant, and became obedient in humility - even to death. For me. For you.
Look to the saints of old, men and women from the Scriptures as inspirations. Hebrews 11 is called the Heroes of Faith chapter. A list of the Heroes of old. More and more examples. Men and Women who chose to follow Christ and believe in the coming Savior.
Friends. What I am saying is not easy. It means we need to be more careful in who we idolize, in who we think is awesome and why.
Does that mean burn down Hollywood and Washington DC? No.
What I am saying is we need to be more selective of who we idolize and what about them makes them our heroes. Is it there ability to hit a ball? Look good in a swimsuit? Read from a piece of paper? Make people laugh? Even lead our country? Or is it because they motivate you to be a better person, and sharpen you into a better believer in God?
"Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another."
Friends, there are lot of people that we can believe in. But the thing about us humans, we are all sinful and in selfish and in need of a savior. Placing one of us above ourselves, in the place of God is dangerous and will end up in peril. Or as the saying goes, the harder you pull on supermans cape, be ready for what you find out.
My hero is God. And I am thankful for the Godly men and women who sharpen me and grow me and I the same to them. Are they heroes? No. Just other men and women who want to be more like our Lord.
Cheers and Excelsior!
Do You Trust Me?
Learning about Trust from Mickey Mouse
By Rev. Adam Fox
It is hard to avoid Mickey Mouse and Disney. They are everywhere! Including possibly buying 21st Century Fox. But Disney is still Disney, and they produce amazing cartoon movies. But this got me tho thinking, what is the best Disney cartoon Princess movie. Ariel? Belle? Lion King? To me, my favorite Disney movie in the Golden age was... Aladdin!
It was in my opinion, the best of the best. It had adventure, love, comedy, magic, everything any boy-teen-adult would need. What kid didn't want to ride a magic carpet, have a friendly monkey and a Genie! (Bless your soul Robin Williams)
Outside of the amazing music, one of the coolest scenes was when Al asks Jasmine to trust him and come with him on his magic carpet ride. "A whole new world..."
That is a loaded question. Do you trust? Do you trust others? What about God, how much do you trust Him? Trust is defined as "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something."
Trusting is hard for some people. Sure, they trust the chair that they sit in to hold them. But on a larger scale, they have a hard time trusting in sentiment, in God, in their fellow man. I have a friend, but am going to give he/she a fake name ... Batman.
He - Batman - struggled in this area. I do not know if his history or what made him struggle in this area, but he did. And Batman is no different then the rest of us. Call me jaded, but when an election occurs, I do not trust or believe in the freshly elected candidate that they will accomplish a majority of their promises made.
Trusting is hard. Trusting in the goodness of man, in people doing the right thing, in our leaders leading as civil servants, trusting in our celebrity heroes, trusting that the work we do actually matters.
Trusting is hard. And then there is trusting God - which is even harder.
As believers, we are called to trust the Lord, the triune God who loves us and created us. But it doesn't mean that it is easy.
But if we are charged to trust the Lord, why is it so difficult?
My friend Batman has struggled with this. He knows God loves him, and has a perfect plan for him. But never understood why his day is filled with so much disappointment and struggle and fear. How much easier if God would have written that He promised to never put us in a place of danger. But that is not what the Bible says. Instead the Bible tells us to trust the Lord at all times.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:4
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
The Scripture is filled with a calling for us as believers to trust the Lord. Trust God completely.
It does not mean that if we are 100% trusting in God and His will for our lives that we will be completely problem and struggle free.
WE still live in a fallen sinful world. Satan is going to do everything he can to drown us with fear, to keep us chained and bitter and untrusting towards everything and everyone - especially God.
Let me remind you of my friend Batman. If you have noticed, I have only used past tense to talk about him. That is because over the last few weeks, Batman has surrender his fear to God and Trust him. Every day I talk with Batsy, and even though Batman is scared and afraid of things. He still trusts that God will provide and will protect Him. Trust is like a new born pet. It is small at first, but grows and matures over time.
For my friend Batman, He is like that small doge or cat, his trust in the Lord is growing every day. While there is still fear in work, in family, in America, in World Powers, in finances, in so much. God is bigger than our fears. We need to trust the Lord more so.
Look at what the prophet Jeremiah says, when we trust we are like a tree. Trees grow and enjoy water and sunshine. Trees do not fear the winter or the frost or fire, the tree keeps growing and does not stop producing.
In-spite of bad circumstances, the tree grows.
We need to be that tree. Produce fruit, even under the worst of circumstances.
So where does that leave us? How do we learn to trust? What is the quickest and easiest answer? Bad news my friends, there is not an easy fix.
Learning to trust someone, or something, and especially God is not a miracle pill. It is possible, but it takes strength and a lot of patience.
David understood that trusting in God was most important to him. David, the man who had such a difficult life, filled with family drama, fighting, escaping, murder attempts, and so much more said in a psalm
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:4
As believers, I and we need to trust God. We cannot let men, rumors, fear of any kind trap us from being the light of God everywhere. It will not be easy. But I am greatly encouraged when David says, "what can man do to me?"
Let us learn from the example of Batman or me. Trusting in the unknown and unseen is difficult and challenging, but it is worth it. To become the men and women of God, or as Jeremiah says a tree that is planted by the river and does not change due to circumstances.
Until next time my friends
Cheers and Excelsior!
Pride goes before the Rock Bottom
By Rev Adam Fox
It is no secret, but I spent and still do to some extent, many a day following the WWE. While it is not the same today as it was in the 90s, it is still fun to watch. Yes, I know it is fake - I think of it as a Male Soap Opera. But I still love it.
The Heels and the Faces. The Jobbers. The insults. Gold, pure gold.
Over the time of the WWE and the other initials like WWF, WCW, OVW, ... there have been many wrestlers I loved. Making a top 5 is tough, but here it goes.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
There are many great wrestlers. Some who have passed on, Owen and Eddie. But there is one name that is not on my list, but is taking America by storm all over again. The Rock.
Who is The Rock? Let me remind you.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was a wrestler, from a wrestling family. He was the best of the best for a decade. But that was not enough. Hollywood came calling. Movies. TV. Commercials. And maybe even the Presidency.
But looking at the Rock, he always portrayed a brash, arrogant, and over-confident character. It is what made us like him, and despise him.
But is he the best role model for us as Christians?
A quick word study of Greek words for Pride, Arrogance, and Haughty are used 200 times in the NIV Bible. 200 times. That seems quite a lot, almost like God is trying to warn us about the attitude of pride and our nature to be arrogant people.
I am guilty of it just as much as anyone.
Pride is a sin that is like a flowering weed. It is difficult to detect unless you are looking for it, and kept unchecked - it will run wild.
Pride and arrogance are something that I struggle with. I remember 8 years ago talking with a Pastor about the Youth Ministry that I ran and enjoyed doing. I actually remember telling him that "Without me, there would be no Youth Group". It makes me shudder thinking about how foolish that thought was.
The Bible is clear about how we should act.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, andcoming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11
Paul is clear in his writing to the church in Philippi, that we need to have the attitude and spirit of humility. The two areas that humility comes to play is our need of a Savior and our attitude toward others.
Pride is telling ourselves we do not need anyone, even God. And that is not true. Humility is understanding that we are not fine and need help, need a Savior. It is the ultimate act of humility. Accepting the help of Jesus Christ who came to Earth to save us fro the penalty of our sins. Our arrogance is thinking we do not need that help. And that is a dangerous attitude my friends.
The Sin of Pride is what stops so many from even thinking they need help. From thinking that they are sinners, that there wrong is so terrible and in needing of this person to come in and save them. After all, we do not need help ever! (Sarcastic font)
The other area is how we treat and think about other Believers. The fact is God loves all of us, equally. I know it is hard to wrap our Modern American brain around that fact but it is true. Black, white, Asian, men, women, rich, poor, smart, dumb, saved from a horrid past, saved from a Christian family. All of us.
Knowing that fact, why do I or why does anyone think differently? Why do we struggle with the fact that we are a better Christian than all of us?
If we think of ourselves as above others, we are not different than King Saul. Saul was Israel's first King and outside of him being super tall and being head and shoulders over everyone, he was not a great king, he was a pride filled man.
Another example would be the Prophet Jonah. Ignoring and running away from God's calling to minister to the people at Nineveh. Sure, Jonah had excuses but the source goes back to his pride. We cannot be blind to our own pride and assuming our fellow believers are not good as us.
It is pride. It is Arrogance. And it is dangerous.
Jesus had zero pride in Him, and we need to be thankful for that. Would he have come down from Heaven to save the hot mess that I am if he did?
While being overtly confident and prideful may make for great TV shows, that is really the only area it should exist. Definitely not in the church or in me.
I am calling each one of us out. Take some time, study yourself - all of yourself. And let's kill the sin of pride. It will not have a place any longer.
Take that Pride! Cause that's the Bottom Line!
Cheers and Excelsior!
5/15/2017 9:41:12 AM
These Blog posts are so helpful and insightful. I love reading them!