Wednesday, October 21, 2009

trc interactive response

Sorry this has taken longer than it should have, none-the-less here are some of my responses to some great questions. A lot of these questions were answered naturally during the teaching, if you were not there you can hear the whole sermon on our podcast at iTunes by searching Two Rivers Church.

1. so isnt the issue sexual immorality and lust rather than the persons preference

Response: I believe that we covered this in the teaching, but let me state it again in a different way. The biblical model is one man and one woman commit their lives together and are monogamous. Anything outside of this marriage covenant is sexual immorality. This includes heterosexual sin and homosexual sin. There is no difference in these two sins. A person's preference if it is not for the opposite sex and with the person they are married to equals sexual immorality.

2. How does the view of homosexuality apply to people who undergo surgery/treatment to change how the world precives them?

Response: I believe we are created by God intentionally, therefore we should not alter our bodies. This goes hand in hand with my belief that God does not create someone genetically homosexual. Homosexuality is a choice not a chromosome. While the media has adopted this idea as true, there is no scientific evidence only theory.

3. Unsuccessful apology = calling homosexuality a struggle, like its a disease that you can be cured

Response: I am sorry that my apology was not accepted in the way that it was intended. Here it is word for word:

"On behalf of God and His church we would like to offer this apology. We are sorry for our mistreatment of homosexuals. We are sorry for vilifying those who struggle with this issue of morality while we neglect to address our own hatred and bigotry. We pray that our actions will not keep others from hearing about the love of God and the salvation through the name of Christ."

The fact that we cannot agree on the science of homosexuality does not change the fact that there are some Christians who have consistently mistreated those who have a homosexual orientation. That is why an apology is necessary. There is no excuse for those who preach hate toward homosexuals. Unfortunately we will still disagree on the science. I do understand why someone would call this apology unsuccessful if they disagree with the root premise that homosexuality is morally wrong. This is why I took so much pains to explain the platform from which I was talking about this subject.

4. even with your view that homosexuality is a sin, how would you welcome a person(s) to your church?

Response: This is the best question of the day and one that speaks most directly to the issue that we as a church should be most concerned with. The answer is simply love. My prayer is that Two Rivers Church is a place where all people can find love. Anything less than that and we have failed as a church.

Thanks for all the questions. TRC interactive will be back soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

trc interactive: 09.27.09

Yesterday at Two Rivers Church we tackled a very difficult topic in our series "Confessions of a sinful church." Our apology was this, "We are sorry for our mistreatment of homosexuals." As you can imagine this was a very sensitive subject and our interactive text message element reflected this.

Before I list every comment, let me give you a couple statistics:

According to Gallup's 2008 Values and Beliefs survey
48% of Americans believe that homosexual relations are morally wrong &
48% of Americans believe that homosexual relations are morally acceptable

In 2001:
53% believed it morally wrong (that's a 5 point drop)
40% believed it morally acceptable (that's an 8 point increase)

According to Lifeway research:
39% of Catholics
61% of Protestants
79% of evangelical Protestants said they do believe homosexual behavior is sinful.

29% of Americans said their decision to visit or join a church would be positively affected if that congregation taught homosexual behavior is a sin.
32% of Americans – almost one in three – said their decision to visit or join a church would be negatively affected if that congregation taught homosexual behavior is sinful.

TRC Interactive:

so isnt the issue sexual immorality and lust rather than the persons preference
even with your view that homosexuality is a sin, how would you welcome a person(s) to your church?
How does the view of homosexuality apply to people who undergo surgery/treatment to change how the world precives them?
we are still called to love
love the sinner not the sin
how do you draw a line between loving a homosexual and being seen as hypocritical?
So just because a couple can't reproduce means its wrong?
how do we help other christians (that represent option one) understand the need for relationship evangalism?
it is not our place to judge. God still loves the sinner..(us!) so why should we not love others?!
reproduction has nothing do do with it. lust and sexual immorality as sin is the issue
Should we hate them and terrorize them, NO. But are we supposed to except what the bible clearly say is wrong?
...and if were really growing in Him we LOVE like Him...God sent His Son to die for all sinners because He loved is the answer.
We should not accept and do nothing. We are to accept the person, and in a loving manner..lead them to the truth
Unsuccessful apology = calling homosexuality a struggle, like its a disease that you can be cured
as we grow in Christ, we must grow closer to Him and become more like Him and in order to do that we must learn to love like He loved and loves
homosexuality is a strugglejust as one would struggle with any other sinful temptation
still.. How do we argue against legalization of same sex marriage without looking like we don't accept homosexuals
In order to minister to someone, you must love them enough to want to show them God's love -3 Little Birds

Great comments / questions. Later this week I will tackle some of these.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

interactive questions

So, we had a lot of responses to our interactive element this past Sunday (see previous post) and out of this plethora of feedback there were actually a couple of really good questions. Each week we use this element I will follow-up here on my blog with answers to the questions which did not get answered on Sunday morning.

1. Was Back to the Future based on a novel?

According to Wikipedia, Back to the Future was a 1985 science fiction adventure film directed by Robert Zemeckis, co-written by Bob Gale and produced by Steven Spielberg. Zemeckis and Gale wrote the script after Gale mused upon whether he would have befriended his father if they attended school together.

So the answer to the question is no, Back to the Future was written as a screenplay not a novel.

2. To kill a mocking bird- I don't know if this is American. Ha!

This is almost a question so I will answer this as well. To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was instantly successful and has become a classic of modern American literature. (again from Wikipedia)

3. Does goat milk spoil faster than cow milk? ((VNS&DNE)<3)

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything and there is not much information about the subject. What I did find out is that raw goat or cow milk does spoil faster than pasteurized.

4. Wouldn't it be funny if someone jumped out of the booth??

No, actually what would be funny is if someone repelled down on top of the Confession Booth.

5. Are Christians to think of themselves as slaves to Christ?

The idea of being a slave to Christ is mentioned one time in the New Testament in the book of Ephesians chapter 6:

5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men

The context of this passage is to teach those who were slaves (most likely indentured servants) to be true to their position and honor the relationship they have with their master. Paul makes the analogy that they should serve their masters just as they would serve Christ. In the 1st century church there were many who were slaves and had become Christians, so this analogy would be familiar to their culture. For us today the analogy still rings true, we should submit to Christ as a slave would submit to their master.

Another of the interactive texts stated that we are not slaves, rather sons of the King. This is also a New Testament principle. Galatians 3 states:

26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We are all heirs to the promise of Abraham, children of the King. There is no distinction when it pertains to the availability of salvation to all.

6. Why was slavery permitted in Jesus time?

Slavery is something that has been around in different forms for as long as history has been recorded. The fist mention of slavery in the Bible is in the book of Genesis as Abram is introduced. Most scholars believe that many of the slaves in Jesus' day and culture were more like indentured servants than what we think of as slaves. Those who were in debt could work for the one who they were indebted to as a means of working off their debt. Jewish law states in that Hebrew slaves must be set free after six years. While we are certainly appalled by the idea of slavery we cannot change history or past cultures, we can only hope to work for those who are still in slavery in parts of the world today.

7. Is flying the confederate flag offensive to others?

I would say, and this is strictly my opinion, that there are some who are offended by the confederate flag and there are some who are not. Just like there are some who fly the confederate flag with only southern pride and no racist intent and there are those who fly the stars and bars because they want to make a racial statement. I believe that as Christians we should be careful how we celebrate our heritage whether it is southern, African, or otherwise, we should always do our best to represent Christ first. That means that there may be times when we don't do something that might be offensive even if it is not meant with that intent.

Overall, I really like the fact that we can have dialog about the teaching, so we will continue to use the interactive element with some tweaks. May we all strive to learn and grow as a community of believers.

new worship element

This past Sunday at TRC we ushered in a new element to our adult teaching time. After much effort we figured out how to have interactive text messaging. Essentially our attenders could text questions or comments about the teaching and they were displayed on the screen. Most of our folks liked the concept, but we all agreed that there needed to be a few tweaks to make it more effective.

Below is the thread of all the comments we received starting from bottom to top: (Note- there were two directed questions that I asked which is explains some of the responses, 1. What's your favorite American novel? 2. What's the worst kind of insect sting?)

giant radio active pamlico county mosquitos
A lady bug bite...ugh me it can happen
My ex husband
Eddy put c's answer on the board. ((VNS&DNE)<3)
Twinrivers man spidermonkeys are bad one bit my leg off.
Lol ((VNS&DNE)<3)
A wasp on your eyelid lol.
An ant bite to the toe...the day before my wedding!
Since people are putting spiders which are not insects, im going to say a snake bite
Bullet ants..I have never been stung but this guy was on tv
We are not slaves of christ but sons of the king
The poisonness kind. ((VNS&DNE)<3)
Horse fly
Horse fly
Cow killer ants
A wasp sting on your behind.
fire ants...they sting and itch and swell. jerks
Scorpion... Trust me it was really bad. Like hospital bad!!!
Red hornet
An ant bite to the toe...the day before my wedding!
A lady bug bite...ugh
Ground Bee
Fire ants
Brown recluse spider
Red ants
That wasn't intresting that was boring
Sorry mean 1710
Mennonites were some of the first settlers of new bern in 17101 interesting!
Because people were too indolent to do things themselves. ((VNS&DNE)<3)
Yours is working i see it
Why was slavery permitted in jesus time
Are Christians to think of themselves as slaves to Christ?
How do i know if mine is or isn't doing this?
Why is mine not up there
Yes it would be
Wouldn't it be funny if someone jumped out of the booth??
A walk 2 remember
Not working still.
Does goat milk spoil faster than cow milk? ((VNS&DNE)<3)
Reedeming love by francine rivers
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Shack by William Young
Nicolas sparks is a good author. ((VNS&DNE)<3)
Star Wars!
The Lion, Witch , & the Wardrobe ΓΌ Chronicles of Narnia
LOTR is not an American work
all harry potter books
My sisters keeper
really? lol
The Outsiders
The stand
Turn Up The Heat
I love that movie.
Message in a bottle
To kill a mocking bird- I don't know if this is American. Ha!
Lord of the Rings
The sisterhood of the traveling pants
The cat in the hat
Breaking Dawn :Stephanie Meyer
lords of Dicsipline
The hardy boys
Nicolas sparks is a good author. ((VNS&DNE)<3)
The Notebook
Marry poppins
Old Man and the Sea
My favorite author is Frank Perretti
My favorite book is The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks. £@UR¤N
Reedeming love by francine rivers
TWILIGHT! By: Stephanie Meyer
tom sawyer
The Pact by Jodi Picoult
To kill a mocking bird- I don't know if this is American. Ha!
A walk 2 remember
The stand
The Godfather
Where the red fern grows
was Back to the Future based on a novel?
Frank Perretti
Twilight. ((VNS&DNE)<3)
Of mice and men
Just trying it out
This is super cool :) ((VNS&DNE)<3)
can you hear me now...
I don't read
how do i know if mine is working or not?
Of all sermons to be serious this is THE one. Stop the text joking.
Is The confederate flad offensive? £@UR¤N
All ants.
a wasp sting on your booty.
Is flying the confederate flag offensive to others? £@UR¤N
A 20 ft tall yellow jacket
a wasp sting on your booty.
jellyfish sting.
fire ants!
I HATE it when bed bugs bite!!!
Chores are slavery! £@UR¤N
To kill a mocking bird- I don't know If this is American? Ha!
this is pretty cool. hey everyone!
this is pretty cool. hey everyone!
Does prostitution count as slavery? £@UR¤N
mine isnt working
Riding Lessons £@UR¤N
why is william sanders so old?
The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks £@UR¤N
harry potter
The Scarlet letter £@UR¤N
To kill a mocking bird- I don't know If this is American. Ha!
Wait yes it did
plus your comments
Why is this not working?
harry potter books
My phones not doing this.
of mice and men is my favorite book i haven't read it though
i don't understand how to do this
my favorite book is of mice and men i haven't read it though
Marley and Me
The Pact by Jodi Picoult....anything by her is great!
i think jrr tolkien was british. i thought he said american writers.
to kill a mocking bird- I don't know I'd this is American. Ha!
Of mice and men is my favorite book i haven't read it though
The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks £@UR¤N
a child called it. £@UR¤N
I don't read
i don't read
Gone with the wind
the appeal
White Fang

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

be like the sun

I have been reading in the book of Judges this week and there is a common theme echoed throughout this ancient record. God's people disobey and God allows them to be overtaken by their enemies. Time and time again the Bible reads, "Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of their enemies."

It makes me wonder how they could forget their own history. And not even ancient history, but recent history. What was it that enticed them so frequently that they would forget the tyranny of their enemies? And how could they forget that Jehovah God would not change? The thing that they kept falling for was the worship of other gods. Why? Was the God who led them out of Egypt not present enough? Was the God who split the Red Sea not close enough to them? Did it seem fashionable to worship the idols of their enemies? And don't we do the same?

Those things which God wants us to be separated from are the same things that we get hung up on today. The difference is that we are not so overt. We still go to church, say our prayers, but we still have other gods. We would never bow to an idol or Baal, but we do give our hearts over to this world. God wants us to be holy. The word holy literally means separate. God wants us to be separate from the world. Different. Holy.

Judges chapter 5 records a song of the prophetess Deborah. I love the way it ends,

"Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord!
But let those who love Him be like the sun,
When it comes out in full strength."

So, be like the sun at full strength. Serve God only. Be holy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

good question #4

Follow-up Question:

What if I have made a mistake previously, can I still have intimacy?


Another good question.

You can never go back, which is to say that you will always have to live with whatever consequences that might occur because of your past. That being said, God is not as concerned with your past as He is your future. Now that you have had a change of heart, will you follow through and stay pure. That is what grace is all about. You can be forgiven even if you still live with some of the consequences of your past.

Now, knowing that you can be forgiven is not an excuse to sin. Paul addresses this in Romans 6,

"should we go on sinning so that grace can increase? By no means we died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that anyone who has been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father we too can live a new life."

We can be forgiven, and that means we have a new life. So commit that new life to living for Christ, out of respect for the sacrifice that Christ made for us. To use a military analogy, if someone in your unit made a sacrifice that saved your life in combat, you would always want to honor that person by living a life worthy of that sacrifice, right? It reminds me of the movie Saving Private Ryan at the end when the old man Private Ryan is at the cemetery and asks the question whether his life had been worthy. We will never be worthy of the sacrifice that Christ made, but we should live for him out of respect and gratitude.

The most important thing to remember is that God loves you and forgives you. You cannot go back and undo what has been done, but you can move forward from here and do the right thing. It will still be very special to your future spouse if you start from this day forward and save yourself for her/him, and I'm sure that you will be glad if they do the same for you.

On a practical side, here are a few things that you could do to make things a little easier to resist temptation.

1. decide ahead of time what your boundaries are. (a good way to help decide this is to imagine that you had a daughter and ask yourself what would be too far for a boy to go with her?)
2. never put yourself in a situation where it would be easy to go too far. (never at your place alone, never at home with no one around, never in the car somewhere... you get the point.)
3. don't do anything that makes you want to do everything. (draw the line way before you think you need to)

Friday, May 22, 2009

good questions #3


What can you tell me about avoiding the temptation of sex outside of marriage? I'm looking for any advice that you can offer or any tools that you can tell me about.


Great question. Let me see if I can get this discussion started.

First, I believe that an understanding of the goal of relationships from God's perspective would be a good foundation for this discussion. God created us and he loves us and he knows what is best for us.

In the book of Genesis the Bible tells us that God created Adam and after some time had passed God looked at Adam's situation and stated that "It is not good for man to be alone." So, he made a "suitable helper" for him in the form of the first woman, Eve. God realized that man by himself was not good, so he made woman. I believe that the most healthy way for a man and woman to live is within a covenant relationship. This covenant or promise is one that is made between a man and a woman and God. This covenant relationship is what we call marriage.

I also believe that God intends for one man and one woman to live in an intimate relationship with each other for life. In our culture we have been told that intimacy is sex, while in God's eyes there is so much more to intimacy that just the physical act of sex. As a matter of fact, one of the things that sets us apart from animals is the ability to experience real intimacy, not just sex. When we have sex outside of this covenant relationship we are really just having sex, there is not true intimacy and just having sex is a sin in God's eyes. True intimacy includes covenant, trust, commitment, sacrifice, discipline along with desire, attraction, and all the things that go along with the physical side of sex. People who have sex outside of this covenant relationship think they have intimacy, but really they are just settling for sex.

Now, along with these positive reasons there are also some negative things which can motivate us to want to wait until we are married to have sex. There is the risk of physical disease, pregnancy, emotional damage, and other consequences of sex outside of the marriage covenant. From a practical sense it just makes life easier, from a spiritual sense waiting is pleasing to God and not waiting is disobedience or sin, and intimacy is better than just having sex.

I don't want you to think that this is an easy way to go, it's not, but it is a better way to go. Decide together that you choose intimacy over sex. God created these urges, but He intended them to be expressed within the marriage covenant. Choose to wait. Choose intimacy. This is God's design.

Tell me your thoughts and we can talk about some other stuff.

grace & peace.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

good questions #2


I am concerned that earlier in my life I may have blasphemed of the Holy Spirit. What is that, and is that the unpardonable sin?


First, the passage in question is in three of the four gospels. (Mt. 12:29-32; Mk. 3:29-30; Lk. 11:221-22)

The context is an encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus drives out a demon from a man who was blind and mute. The Pharisees accuse Jesus of using the power of Satan to drive out the demon from the man. Jesus casts out the demon by the power of the Spirit. But the Pharisees attribute it to the power of Satan. Thus, they call the Holy Spirit the unholy spirit.

The Pharisees were unable to accept Jesus as the Messiah, so much so that they accused Him of being under the power of Satan. Such cynicism and unbelief is motivated by a refusal to accept the evidence of God that is right before them. Essentially, their problem was a lack of faith. Without faith there can be no forgiveness of sins. The thing that is unforgivable is their willful unbelief. (see 1 Jn. 5:16 & Heb. 6:4-6)

I believe that the same is true today. Anyone who willfully chooses to disobey God and does not believe is not going to be saved. So, what about someone who walks away and then returns? The question is does that person now have faith? If so then they can be forgiven. Prodigal son. I don't believe that God cares as much where you've been as where you are. He is not as concerned as much with what you have done, but what you are doing. And that goes both ways. You can't become a christian years ago and then walk away from God and expect to be in good standing with Him at judgment, in the same way you will not be judged by what you did if you are now walking in faith.

I also found this interesting. There are a number of sins against the Holy Spirit like Rebellion (Isa. 63:10), Lying (Acts 5:3-9), Resisting (Acts 7:51), using the Spirit for Selfish Gain (Acts 8:18-22), Grieving (Eph. 4:30), Quenching (1 Thess. 5:19), Disobedience (Heb. 10:29). Blasphemy is the only of these that is unforgivable.

I will continue to think and study through this difficult passage and maybe we can get together again to discuss it.

grace & peace.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

good questions #1

Since the launch of TRC we have had a lot of interest and a lot of questions. I thought over the next few days I would post a few of the questions that have been posed to me and the response that I sent. It has been a real blessing to meet so many diverse people and get the opportunity to share the truths of the Bible with them. Some have been receptive and others have never returned, but either way I always learn and grow. Any comment to these posts will only help me respond more clearly and accurately in the future.


I wanted to know where your Church stands on Gays and Lesbians? I live in New Bern, I am gay and still believe in God to guide me and direct me in my life. My partner and I would very much like to know more about your Church and its beliefs on these issues.


Thanks for your interest in Two Rivers Church.

The short answer to your question is that I believe God loves Gay and Lesbians as much as He loves any person in the world. My hope is that TRC will be the kind of church where people of all backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, and groups will feel loved and be able to explore their own personal relationship with God.

That being said, there is also a longer answer to your question, and one that strikes more precisely to the question I believe you are really asking which is, "Does Two Rivers Church consider same sex relationships a sin?" The answer to that question is yes. Though, I do not think that this sin is any different than anyone else's and we are all on level ground when it comes to our mistakes before God. Each moral failure, mine or yours, separates us from God because He is holy and incapable of sin. It is very difficult to convey my feelings about you or this subject through email, I would be glad to meet with you and your partner for coffee and talk more about the subject.

I love the fact that you still believe in God and look to Him for guidance, unfortunately most gay and lesbians in our culture have rejected the idea of God, probably because the church in America has done such a poor job of conveying Biblical truths in loving ways. I hope that you will come and worship with us and we can continue to discover together what God means for our lives.

Please feel free to call me anytime, my cell number is below.

grace & peace.


Monday, April 27, 2009

a bad day

1 Samuel 4 describes a bad day. First, the Philistines rout the Israelites and capture the ark of the covenant. Then Eli's two sons Hophni and Phenehas die. A young man named Benjamite ran from the battle to tell Eli that his sons were dead. Eli was then told that not only were his two sons dead, but the ark had also been capture by the Philistines. When Eli heard this news he fell out of his chair and broke his neck. Now if that were not enough, Eli's daughter-in-law went into labor when she heard the news, gave birth to a son, named him Ichabod which means 'The glory has departed from Israel,' and then she died.

I wonder if anyone ever told Ichabod what happened on the day he was born? I wonder if it became his stigma for the rest of his life? I wonder if he could ever overcome such a bad day?

I promise not to complain when my printer doesn't work, or my sermon is not coming together, or the girls are a handful, or I shoot a ninety-five. May I always rest in God and may His glory never leave.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

remember me with favor, o my God

Nehemiah 11 - 13

The final chapters of the book of Nehemiah stand in contrast to each other. Chapters 11 & 12 describe those who came back to Jerusalem to live after the walls had been rebuilt. And the celebration and ceremony of the dedication of the walls. The Bible describes a very cool scene in chapter 12 when Nehemiah and the priests walk on top of the walls and dedicate this work and this wall to God. The ceremony included choirs and singing and the sound of rejoicing could be heard far away. The dedication ended at temple where tithes & offerings were brought into the storerooms

Chapter 13 is a different story. Nehemiah, true to his word goes back to work for King Artaxerxes and serves him for many years. After some time Nehemiah asks the King for permission to go back to Jerusalem. There he finds that the people had fallen away again. They had not followed the Law. They had defiled the temple. They had forgotten the Sabbath. They were living in the same way as before which lead to the destruction of the walls and the capture of the city in the first place. Nehemiah does not walk away, he begins to reign judgment on the people. At the end of this chapter, the end of these writings of Nehemiah he writes this one simple statement. "Remember me with favor, O my God."

May we live like Nehemiah, holding unswervingly to God's Word & God's will. May we be willing to speak boldly about the things that are wrong in our culture, and in our communities. And may we be like God's servant Nehemiah who relentlessly pursued what God would want for His people. And may we be remembered with favor, O God.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Nehemiah chapter 10 describes what the people decided to do after they had returned to the city of Jerusalem from exile and rebuilt the walls. After a time of rejoicing over the Law being read in the city the people make some promises to God. It is very interesting the things mentioned that they decided to rededicate to the Lord.

First, they promised not to give their daughters and sons to be married to people from other nations. One of the ways that they had fallen away from God is by marrying outside of the nation of Israel. Now that they were repenting of this they were promising that they would dedicate these relationships back to God and be faithful to what God had asked them to do.

Next, they promised to keep the Sabbath rest as holy to God. They said that they would not buy merchandise or grain from neighboring peoples on the Sabbath or any other holy day. They were promising to keep these holy days as an offering to God. They would dedicate these times to God. They would work hard on six days and give to God the Sabbath to honor Him.

Finally, they promised to give to God from the first fruits of their crops and herds. They had gotten out of the practice of setting aside their tithes and offerings to God and now were repentant of this and were dedicating their possessions to God. All of what they had God was to get the best.

So, how does this apply to us? Very simple. If you want to check your dedication to God. If you want to put God first. If you have walked away from God and need to put Him first again. If you would like to continue to grow in your relationship with God then do these three things. Put God first in your Relationships, Time and Money. Where do you spend your time? With who do you spend your time? And how do you spend your money? Are you putting God first in all of these areas? If not, maybe it is time to repent - to make these things right with God.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Recently at Two Rivers Church we have been looking at the book of Nehemiah. We looked at Nehemiah chapters 1 - 3 on February 1st and chapters 4 - 6 this past Sunday. We will not be continuing through the rest of the book at this time, so as promised I will continue some study and give some thoughts to the rest of Nehemiah here on this blog. As a side note, it has been several months since I last blogged in this space so I hope to get back into the swing of writing here on a weekly basis.

Nehemiah chapter 6 and the first part of chapter 7 describe the finishing of the walls under the leadership of Nehemiah. It only took 52 days to complete the task. Talk about Extreme Makeover Walls Edition. I wonder if they stood out there and all yelled, "Move that bus!" The rest of chapter 7 is filled with a list of those people who had been exiled from Jerusalem and were now returning. This list is essentially the same list found in the book of Ezra.

What happens starting in chapter 8 is amazing. The people asked Ezra to bring out the Book of the Law and he began reading it aloud. Verse 3 says that he read it aloud from daybreak until noon, standing on a wooden platform which was made for this occasion. And here is what is amazing, the people listened and were moved. In essence what happened was a revival. All of these people who had been exiled had forgotten about the things written in the Book of the Law. They had not been practicing their traditions and ceremonies while in exile. So now having come back to Jerusalem, they listened to the words of the Law being spoken aloud by the priest Ezra and they remembered what they had been missing and it changed their hearts. In verse 6 it says that at the reading of the words the people bowed down and began to worship God.

Here are a couple of my thoughts concerning this passage. First, isn't it interesting that revival begins with the reading of the Words of God. It was not the rebuilding of the wall, or even the great return and reunion of these people that drew them back to God, it was the power of the words of God. Second, the natural outcome of this revival was worship. The people heard the words of God and fell down and worshiped Him. Amazing.

May we seek God and His word personally and corporately and may those words change our hearts and draw us back to Him. May we have revival. And may God be worshiped.