Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Jesus-Would you recognize Him, really?

Hey everybody. I am sorry that it has been a while since I posted. The Holy-days have been busier for me than I thought they would be and with so much homework to do I have really been tied up. I want to take a break from the Daniel story today and ask you to do something. I have been hit really hard lately about who I really think Jesus is. It sounds like a simple question, but let me ask you and ask you to really think about it beyond the Sunday school answer, even beyond what you may have learned in Bible college, even think beyond Peter's answer. This is a great time of year to think about it:
Who is Jesus, really?
Let me also ask you to go to this site, and listen to this song by Todd Agnew, "My Jesus" then read the lyrics, then read Todd's explanation letter about this song. Then ask yourself the above question again, for real this time. Then study some of Jesus' stories in the Bible again. If we are going to tell the world who Jesus is then we need to know ourselves. I also will have a link to this song on my link list.
I love You all because Jesus loved me, and you to.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Daniel 1 cont.

Last week we had no takers. No one commented on anything. That's ok, but if anyone wants to comment please feel free. I would like for this to be a week long dialogue about each point.
Okay, here we go,
When we left our heros last, Daniel and his peeps had taken a stand against particpating in practices of a lost and broken world. They had however declined in a recpectful and loving manner. They had in essence said, "No thanks we know a better way and will be happy to show you if you would care to see." They stood strong against outside influences even though they did not look that bad and would help them blend in and be accepted. They turned down the 'sure thing' to take a risk on God's way, the right way. They were not mean and nasty, they just said no.
Well, once the results were in, everyone saw that the way they chose was the best way and God blessed them for their courage by helping them excel above all others and making them the example of how it is done. Even the King noticed the 'difference' and promoted them to high positions in the Kingdom. The King trusted them more than anybody because of their track record. So even this pagan society saw the benefits of doing things God's way. They were shown a true example of someone completely sold-out for God. These guys did not compromise one bit on their faith and they did it with love and patience and it affected the world around them. Not only were they and their methods accepted, they were honored and revered. Even a pagan society will notice when a Christian compromises their values and beliefs. They will also notice when a Christian does not compromise! And when they see the results of an uncompromised life they will respond with interest and intrigue, and maybe even a few converts will come from it! This is what in means to live the example so others will know. It has nothing to do with where and how often you go to church. Nothing to do with how many Christian shirts, bumperstickers, or CD's you have. It has everything to do with living an uncompromising life for God. And, oh yeah, don't forget to not compromise the love commandment. 1 Corinthians 13 and Revelation 2:1-7 shows us that we can do everything right according to God's plan but if we do not do it in love then we are wasting our time and God will destroy what we are doing. Spiritual haughtyness and self-promotion does nothing but make you feel good about your self even though with that attitude you really have nothing to feel good about. If you love others it will show and they will be drawn to Jesus through you even if everything else is not completely perfect. If you want to be a respected person than be a respector of persons, but a lover of God!
Cya next Tuesday! or before if anyone comments.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Daniel 1

Finally the long-awaited Daniel devo! lol! Just a couple of things before we get started:
1-I am not perfect nor am I the final authority on scripture so feel free to add to, disagree with, discuss, or whatever, just please be loving and do not argue if you can help it. We all understand that tone is almost impossible to discern from typed word so please try to use as loving a tone as you can and if you can't find a loving way to type it, don't type it until you can.
2-The discussions are not all going to happen within a certain time limit and some may take days so please do always expect immediate responses but keep check for response during the day(s) between devotional. If a dicussion from a day last into the next devo that is fine, just make sure that you comment on the day in question so we can keep dicussions straight.
3-I am not the best typer in the world(J-Rawk's cat distracts me too much) nor the best speller so please forgive me.
4-Some words and names are too long for my fat fingers to type in full each time so I will abbreviate, such as King Nebuchadnezzar will from this point on be refered to as King Neb or just Neb.
Here we go: Go ahead and read Daniel 1 right now, we may not do the whole chapter today, but read it all anyway. Go ahead and read, I'll wait.....................Go ahead and read.............................its okay keep reading.......................done?, Good. Also, try to read ahead, it is good to have a day or two to process a chapter before you try to discuss it.

In chapter one we are introed to King Neb (see it is a long name, what was his mom thinking!), and four totally awesome teenager,Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (I'll use the names that most are familar with). These teens are proof that God loves to accomplish His will through the youth of a nation or at least a youthful attitude.

vv. 1-2: In about 605 B.C. God gave King Neb a victory over Israel, but that does not mean that He favored Neb over His chosen children or that He was blessing the evil empire. He simply used Neb to accomplish His will. People who don't follow God yet seem to have good fortune aren't always being blessed by God, they may just be a part of God's bigger plan. Make a mental note of the stuff Neb stole from God. You know the stuff from the Temple, cause God resided in the Temple in those days. This suff will play huge when we get to Neb's son in chapter 5.

vv.3-5: The Babylonians (henceforth Babs) are like most pagan thinkers in that outward appearance means everything to them. They only know what they can see. They only wanted the best Jews to try to assimilate (nice Star Trek term) into Babs. The only problem is that there is a reason some of these kids are the best, their extreme devotion to God! A strategic mistake by Neb, but a perfect fit for God's plan. They forced this Bab diet and regement on them because they thought it was the best, but is really all that they know. They don't know nor care to know that there is a better way. Sounds like most lost people today, huh?

v. 6: Dan, Shad, Mesh, & Abed were all from the tribe of Judah. Why does this matter you say? I am glad you asked, Judah is the tribe that God ordained would be the preist and spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel. It is no coincidence that the four who would stand the strongest for God were from this tribe. Judah means praise which is what they did through everything they endure, they praised God and much of the 'trouble' they get into is because they are praising God unashamedly.
v. 7: They all 4 were renamed by King Neb and for some reason the new name given to Daniel didn't really stick with the writer, but the new names did stick with the other three, I do not know why. Ask a deeper theologian than me about that sometime, maybe it was because the new names for the other three were easier to remember for our sunday school teachers since they were more poetic than there original names. I really don't know.

vv. 8-14: Back to the diet and regement, Daniel and his boys knew that there was a better way. They were determined to follow God's way. Then when their captors couldn't see what they saw, they didn't just give up, crumble under pressure, and take the easy way out by doing things the Bab way. They in essence (v. 12) they said, "Here, let us show you the better way and its results so you can see it and understand." They stayed true to what they knew was right from the very beginning, no matter what they faced for it. It was a big risk. All this other food guaranteed that they would gain weight and make them look healthy, but what it would do their insides was destable to them. So they opted for the original Atkins diet. This could have made them look thinner and weaker than the others, but they risked it all for God.
In our lives we deal with lost people all the time. They have their way they think is best and we have our way, God's. Their way looks good on the outside and it seems to work for them. It looks so good in fact that they can't see out of it to see ours. Our job is to not give up on them when they don't see it our way nor is our job to just take the easy way out by going along with and doing their way. We are to come along beside them and lovingly say, "Here, let me show you my way so you can see for yourself and then you can understand." Be paitent and kind until they see it. Satan has them blinded. Let God open their eyes and you be there to be the true example of God's way they see when their eyes open. Their way may look good on the outside and it may help us to fit in if we join in. But, what it will do to our insides will be detestable. Also note that Daniel did not say, "Hey, I'll do a little of yours, but I am doing mostly God's then everyone will be happy!"He went all, God all-the-time! Just dabbling in the ways of the lost will help us blend in, but helps because it keeps us lost! Of course the lost blend with the lost, you can't 'blend-in' with the lost if you aren't lost.
So, even though God's way stands to make you stand out from the crowd in 'bad' way according to them, it is worth all the risk. Risk it all for God, all or nothing!
Next time we will discuss how this risk worked out for our 'Four Amigos' (I know the movie title is actually Three Amigos, but we have four heros in this story so deal with it)
Tell me what you think, comments(any), additions, reiterate, contradictions, disagreements, etc.


Monday, December 4, 2006

How Long Does It Take To Get To Heaven

Hey! I am planning to start blogging my devotional on the book of Daniel tomorrow,but before I do I want to post this first. Some of you know this, my Grandmother in North Carolina died in September on the same day that my latest child was born. Being that it was the same day and I live in northern Indiana, I was unable to attend the funeral. Because of this I e-mailed my Dad a letter to read at her funeral if he wanted. He did and the response from family has been special. I wanted to share it, so here are my ramblings about how far heaven is from us and what may have happened the day my Grandma left the world and Victoria came into it:

How long does it take to get to Heaven?

You know, I have often wondered, "How long does it take to get to Heaven?" This should come as no surprise to Momma & Daddy, kids always want to know how long it is going to take, but they ask with the annoying phrase, " Are we there yet?"
When I was a kid I probably would have said it takes about ten to fifteen minutes to get there because that was how long it took to get to Grandma's house. Or about 24 hours depending on which Grandma we were going to see. Let's face it, for a kid, Grandma's house is always heaven because you can do anything you want to do and there is always plenty to eat! I remember so well as a kid going to Grandma's and every time we pulled into the driveway we could see her looking out the kitchen window, waiting for us to get there so she could spring her favorite question on us as soon as we walked in the door, "Do you want something to eat?" Grandma was always trying to feed us and when we did eat we would be so stuffed we could hardly walk and then she asked her second favorite question, "Are sure you don't want just a little more?" We never could eat enough for Grandma, but this was how she showed her love. There was always room at Grandma's table for us, but never with a hat on, that was Grandpa's rule!

As of this Wednesday I would say that it only takes about 5 or 10 minutes. I say that because Grandma left the earth between 8 & 8:30 Wed. morning and my daughter, Victoria, came into the world at 8:36 wed. morning. I believe that grandma went to heaven, picked-up Victoria, and brought her back to earth; and it only took a few minutes. I'll also bet that along the way, Grandma was asking her, "Are you hungry?" I know that Victoria must have been with Grandma for a while because for the first hour or so of her life she wasn't hungry and wouldn't eat anything. All Sheffield's are born hungry! Unless Grandma got a hold of them first!

Grandma or any other Senior Saint might say that it takes a life time to reach Heaven. After all, Grandma spent 89 years getting there. And as a pastor I would agree that getting to heaven is, for us, a life-long process and journey. In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul says, (my paraphrase) 'I keep working toward the day when I will be all that Christ wants me to be; I am forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead; I strain to reach the end of the race to receive the prize for which God, through Jesus, has called me up to heaven.' Paul saw it as a life-long race and to finish the race he had to keep reminding himself of the prize at the end, or you could say, keep his eyes on the prize of going to heaven.

As a theologian I would have to say that it takes no time at all to get to heaven, zero! Why? Because to God, time means nothing and He is not restricted by time or location. In Heaven there will be no clocks because eternity never ends. Clocks only measure when something begins or ends. God has neither beginning nor ending, He always was, is, and will be!

Another fond memory I have of Grandma is setting next to her Sunday morning listening to her sing, "He walks with me, He talks with me," or "Just as I am without one plea." This gives me great comfort because I know that Grandma always kept her eyes on the prize and she ran her race to the very end, and she stands today whole and pure before her creator, and holding hands again with Grandpa. I remember once when Grandma complained to Grandpa about a discarded cigarette of his still smoking he replied, "Aw, you'll live through it." He was right, she lived through it all, she even lived through death and lives in heaven now with Grandpa and her Jesus! And if we, if you and I, fix our eyes on the prize and keep them there, then it won't matter how long the journey takes or doesn't take, He will walk with us and talk with us the whole way through. And if you have never set your eyes on that prize, all you have to do is look at it and cry out to Him and he will come to walk with you too, just as you are, no matter where you are, and it will only take Him until yesterday to get there. And when you ask the ultimate Daddy, "Are we there yet?" He will say, "Yes my love, we are there!"
Grandma, thank you for the spoiling, thank you, for the food, thank you for the love, thank you for Daddy, thank you for escorting Victoria to us and for feeding her along the way, but most of all thank you for the legacy you left for us by always keeping your eyes on Jesus and on the prize!
I love you, Grandma!
Cya later.
David Jr., Nicole, & the girls.

Let me know what you think

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Welcome to Church!

Yesterday I wrote a 'welcome' for my page on my church's new website. It forced me to think about, 'What could I say about our church that would incourage an unchurched person to come see us, and not lie?' I mean do we really know what the unchurched are searching for? Being that I was business major, I thought it would be a snap to market my church, but remember I wanted to be honest. I was farily pleased with what I was able to write, although there is much room for improvement. I was pleased, not content. Well, the project had two good outcomes: One- it caused me to take a real look at where our church is vs where it should be a year of two from now. Second-it made me think about what I think I know about what the unchurched need, and instilled in me a desire to get my church out into the community and find out for sure!
Here is what I wrote, tell me what you think:

Hello! I would like to welcome you to Albion Wesleyan Church! We believe that the Church is an extension of the family of God, and what better family to be apart of than God’s?! I mean, God invented the family so being in His family should be awesome! I would like to invite you to join our family anytime. You can always feel welcome and loved here in God’s family. We do lots of things together as a family such as having dinner together as a family on Thanksgiving or just because; celebrating the harvest season together with a Trunk or Treat on Halloween; worshiping the true Father of our family together every week; community service projects; or just hanging out together like families should do. We worship together and work together; and we pray together and play together. If you have a great family life at home you will find that same love and acceptance here at AWC. If you have less than a good family life then you find all that you have ever hoped for in a family here, people who will love you no matter what and will listen to you about anything and will try their best to understand where you are coming from in life. We love everybody and we have no requirements for you to meet before you walk in our doors. Now that you know what you will find here, here are a couple of things you will not find here. There will be no cover charge. It doesn’t cost any money to meet and/or worship God. There will be no bouncer to toss you out for any reason. All are always welcome in God’s house, He loves everybody and we are doing our best. No dress code. As long as you have on clothes we don’t care what they look like! No tender to cut you off and tell you that you have had too much Jesus, or God, or the Holy Spirit. No tab. What’s the point? Since we could never do or have enough to pay God back for what He has done for us He doesn’t ask us to. No blacklist, or A-list. After we ask forgiveness God never keeps a record of our wrongs to hold against us later. At the same token, He doesn’t love anyone more than anyone else, or hold anyone I higher esteem than anyone else; we are on the same plain with God. You also will not find perfection here either. We love and worship a perfect God, but that does not make us perfect and we know that. So, there will be no perfect standards of others shoved in your face to live up to. We are all broken and cracked jars of clay doing the best we can to live the best we can and hold as much of God as we can. You will find love and acceptance from the people and we will introduce you our best friend Jesus. From Jesus you will also find love and acceptance, but He can also offer you protection and salvation.
We are all God’s adopted children so come and hang with us and you can be adopted too!
God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor of AWC

1) Does this look like where a church should be? or at least be trying to get to?
2) Is this an appropriate welcome for a church website?
3) If you attend my church, does this look like an accurate and honest statement?
4) Any other thoughts you may have, honestly.

PS: Next Tuesday I will be starting a daily or semi-daily devotional here on Daniel. It is a gret book, more than all the end-time prophecy we hear about it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish anyone who reads this a Happy Day of giving thanks to the Lord.
Please use this a time to reflect on all that God has done for you. Spend some time thinking about the benefits you receive from a love relationship with the Father. If you have a hard time thinking of any benefits lately, then maybe you may need to take inventory of your love for Him.
To hear more about the benefits of this relationship, come see me at Albion Wesleyan Church this Sunday at 10:00 am.
"For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you." Jeremiah 29:11
David Sheffield

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Reputations Are Overrated

I am sure that when you read the title to this blog you probably almost lost your cookies. "What do you mean reputations are overrated?" "To people that do not know me, my reputation is all that I have." Yes, that is correct. As individuals we need to keep our reputations as clean and spotless as possible. As a Church (universal) we also need to do all we can to keep a clean rep. We must do our part to stay clean and show the world that the Church is a great place for them to find love, peace, acceptance and salvation. But when the Church's rep seems to go bad, don't fret over it so much. What happens in another part of the country or world with another pastor or Church leader is not the fault of all of us and we can't beat ourselves up over it. One hypocrite or act of hypocrisy does not make the entire Church and our message hypocritical.
In the wake of the recent fall of a Church giant the natural tendency is to worry about the reputation of the Church and how it makes us look. And to a degree this is a valid concern, however where is our faith in God? We preach and teach God to be an all powerful, "can do anything" God, but when tragedy hits the Church we start thinking, "Oh no! What can we do to restore the reputation of the Church?" "I can't believe this person has given 'them' such a weapon to use against us!"
Maybe we need to remember a couple of things:
1) Isaiah 54:17a "no weapon turned against you will succeed"(NLT) God is making a promise to Israel here. He is promising that they will be returned to glory and that their enemies will not defeat them. God will protect them and take care of all the weapons the enemy throws at them. God also says something interesting at the end of verse 17 when He says, "These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me."(NLT) This tells us; all servants of the LORD, for all time will fall under His protection from these weapons. So, yes we may give Satan weapons to use against us, but what good is it going to do him? Now, that is not to say that we should be care-free and give him all kinds of weapons to use, that would be stupid. He will find a way to use the weapons we give him. He will use them against the very people we are trying to reach for God. If these benefits are for those who serve Him, then those who do not, are left wide-open. So out of love for them, please let's stop giving Satan weapons; as for the Church, it will stand and will be protected. For those who try to pin this kind of behavior on the entire Church, they tell lies and in verse 17 we also see that those who lie against the Church will have their day in court and will be brought to justice, God's justice.
2) The first Christian Church did not have a good reputation. They were branded as a bunch of criminals by society and were hunted down and killed. I know that there reputation was because they were doing the work of God, or was for a good thing. I also know that the reputation we get when these things happen is for bad reasons, and there is a difference. However, in either situation we are talking about the Church's reputation to society and in each incident we had a bad reputation to society. In the early Church, God worked through that rep and the Church grew exponentially. Now, am I saying that a bad rep is a new Church growth strategy? Of course not! But if God can work through their bad rep, He can still work through our bad rep.
I am in no way saying that when these things happen it is OK and that we should not worry about our reputation. We should concern ourselves with it before we make mistakes because to those who do not know the Church or God, our reputation is the only thing they have to know us by. So, we have to do all that we can to keep our reputation clean. Run away from the temptation to sin and honor God with all that you do, say, and think. What I am saying is that when things happen that is out of most of our control, don't worry and get a defeatist attitude about it. God is going to protect His Church. His Church will survive no matter what. Do you remember what He told Peter about the Church vs the Gates of Hell? We are going to win! So, don't waste too much time worrying about restoring the Church's rep, leave that to God. Time spent doing that is time away from the mission of reaching the lost for Him and discipling the believers.
This should be comforting to the Church and to the individual who fell. All is not lost. God is still in control. No man made the Church indestructible and no man can tear the Church down. Stay focused on our mission, and "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10 (NIV).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey anybody who might actually be reading this. This is the first time I have ever blogged so forgive me if I do not do it 'right.' I really have no idea what I am doing. I named this blog 'One Rock Cries Out' for two reasons. One 'Rock' is a nickname I got in college and it has stuck with me through six years in the USMC and is still with me today after four and a half years in the ministry. I also used it as a reference to Luke 19:40 where Jesus said, "If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!" this is in response to the Pharisees telling Him to get the people quiet who were worshiping Him as he made His way into Jerusalem on a donkey. I do not ever want to be 'out cried' by a rock. Rather, I want us, His children, to be the rocks along the road. I want everyone I meet to know how I feel about Jesus. I want all of us to be the rocks crying out for Him, and I want to be one of those rocks. I apparently already am a rock, but I want to be one of those, not just a mute rock sitting around doing no good. I will have more to write about those rocks later, but for now,
David Sheffield