Monday, August 20, 2012

How is your relationship with God?

His name is Snobberish, Broderick Snobberish to be precise and he is precise.  He is a snob, a rich snob, but morally perfect, never steps out on his wife, never drinks anything stronger than a diet coke,(at least in public anyway), he sits on many boards including school boards, council meetings, and he is a deacon at the first assembly of the rich and famous.  But tonight he is angry, because he gave in to his fellow deacons and invited the new minister (radical minister at that) to his annual Christmas party.

The house is full and the mayor is there, along with lots of rich contemporaries who he hopes to get support from in the upcoming election.  Everything is perfect except for him, yep him, the new minister, Benjamin Doogood.  This guy has turned Snobberish's nice quiet church around.  He preaches on equality through the cross, and feeding the poor, and reaching out to the hurting, but that’s not the worst part.  Mr. DooGood is actively involved in all of these ministries and is encouraging the church members to do the same.  That means hanging out at the downtown disgusting soup mission, and allowing alcoholics and drug addicts to use the building for their “recovery” meetings.

Now this; among the exquisite delicacies, and his best fine china; among all the who’s who in society is this radical, unstylish, ordinary guy who wants to tell everyone about Jesus.  I mean, that’s fine in church, but not here.  It’s like he didn’t get the hint from the cold shoulder, the lack of greeting, the last minute invite, that he really isn’t wanted here.  Wait a minute, what’s that commotion, and why is everyone gathered around someone in the living room? 

Who let her in? She looks like, well like what she is, a street hooker, prostitute, lady of the night, whatever you want to call her.  She showed up looking for Doogood, some sort of emergency and now she is studying the Bible in front of his distinguished guests in his living room, on Christmas Eve of all nights.  Why doesn’t the “good minister” just fill up the bathtub and baptize her right now in her low cut, tight, indecent dress that makes her look like the whore she is.  Wait a minute, is that water running, seriously? 

That’s why Mr. Snobberish is angry.  He’s lost sight of what Christianity is, and instead he is steeped in religion and tradition.  Yes this is a modern day version of what happened to Jesus Himself in Luke 7:36-50.  Jesus said something to Simon (or Broderick Snobberish) that still rings true today, Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."  Any relationship that isn’t first based on love is weak at best. The Apostle John put it this way, “we love because he first loved us”.  When examining your relationship with God, make sure that you aren’t basing your evaluation on what you do, but rather who you love, which is exactly what this woman did, and the exact opposite of what Simon did.  So I'll ask again, How is your relationship with God?


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Moe, Moe, Moe"!!!!!!!!

No, I’m not delirious and yes I know that the word moe, is not actually a word.  Let me explain; tonight I was sitting at my back patio reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan (good read, by the way) while watching my children playing.  They were on the trampoline and then graduated to our $20 Wal-Mart pool.

Mind you they weren’t in the pool, but rather Carter had found the joys in filling up a cup with water and then dumping it out on my bare feet, giggling all the way.  I wasn’t paying that much attention until I heard Carter yelling “moe, moe, moe, moe”; Which in year old language means more.  I looked up to find that the water had gotten low enough that he could no longer reach the water to fill up his cup, so he was shouting at his brother to fill his cup with water.

As Cade filled it up Carter would delightedly dump it out, all while yelling….. Yeah you guessed it, “moe”!  This experience combined with the book I was reading led me to the idea that every day God fills us up; with His goodness, His holiness, His compassion, His love, His peace, His joy, etc., and we tend to take it for granted, while it leaks out a hole in the bottom of our cup of life.  In some cases, it’s not a hole so much as a cavern, or even like Carter was doing, we dump it out all the while yelling to God, “moe, moe, moe, moe”!!!!!

My prayer tonight as I write this, is that I will recognize all of the things God fills me with, and be more aware of them so as not to dump them out while demanding more. May I be filled not only with more of His Spirit, Eph. 5:18, but also with a greater awareness of His Spirit.  I want to be filled not only with a joy that I can’t even put into words, 1 Peter 1:8, but also with a calm delight that overshadows my fears, worries, and the circumstances and stress of everyday life.  But most of all I want the love of Christ to fill me up so much that I am overflowing to everyone around me, and filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19

Here it is in everyday terms; God, help me to stop wasting my opportunities to love my family because it’s inconvenient, or they are trying my patience, or interrupting my (selfish) time to do my things.  Help me to see people’s needs all around me, instead of being consumed with life, ministry duties, and other things that distract me from the two most important things in life – Loving God, and loving my neighbor as myself. 

Thank you God, for giving me this reminder tonight in the form of my little Carter, and help me to be full with you, in you, and of you.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Are you medicating on God's Word?

My son (Cade), was practicing quoting Psalm 1 for last Sunday’s service, and when he got to verse 2 he said, and I quote, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on this law he medicates day and night”.  Jen and I were laughing to ourselves but trying not to show him as he continued on, but since I’m a preacher I immediately began to think of how I could use this funny story as an illustration. 

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that we do treat God’s Word as we would a bottle of Advil or Aspirin often times.  You typically don’t take medicine until you are sick, and often it only treats the symptoms.  Hmmm sound familiar?  We could go weeks w/o picking up the Holy Scriptures (except of course on Sundays at Church) and then as soon as things begin to fall apart, or we need some special guidance, or we need deliverance, we run to God in prayer, and even venture to pick up His Word and read it.  Oftentimes we use the Bible to treat our symptoms rather than the real problem.

The 1st Psalm clearly says that we are blessed, contented, and happy when we meditate (not medicate) on God’s Word.  Does the Bible help us in time of need? – YES!  Does it help to heal our hearts? – Amen to that – etc., but I submit to you that if that is the only way you are using God’s Spoken Word, you are missing out on huge blessings that are yours to claim as a Christian.

We sometimes associate the word meditate to Eastern religions and maybe even tend to discount it, but I would challenge you to find an older book that talks more about meditation than God’s Written Word.  I have had my thinking challenged recently as to whether I am filling my heart (not just reading) with God’s Word on a consistent basis or not.  I’ve also asked myself if I am consciously and intentionally taking time to meditate on how His Word can impact and change my life, my thinking, my words, my actions, my ability to be a Godly father, and husband, and minister, and friend, and so on.  And so, I pass this challenge on to you.

Would you consider this week how you can begin or improve upon the intentional process of meditating on God’s Word and see how it changes your life?  Then get back to me and let me know, because it is encouraging to hear about others who allow God’s Presence and Scripture to change their lives.
In Christ, Lance

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Prayer Journal - Day One

But God, what am I to do with my list?

Time for some honesty –

I am a Christian, and by Your grace, God I try to live like You would want me to live.  By Your grace and my efforts of course, okay, in fact maybe I should reverse those and say, I am going to try my hardest to live like You want me to live, and hopefully You can help me with this chore.  But to better help Your efforts of changing me and transforming me I have prepared a list of things to do, attitudes to have, and steps to get me to where I am pleasing to You on a more regular basis.

Can any of you reading this relate to what I just said?  Now to extend my honesty, my list has changed over the years.  Not only in content, but in mission, purpose, perspective, etc., but it’s still a list and it tends to be what I use to determine just how “good of a Christian” I am at the current moment.

In my early years it was a list of just doing enough to get by and somehow eek my way into heaven, and then it changed drastically to a list of rules and regulations that were so strict and severe any good legalistic law-keeper would stand up and cheer.  It’s changed many times through the years but always it has been there.

I believe with all my heart that this list has kept me from realizing the greatness of a true uninhibited relationship with my God.  So back to my original question; God what am I to do with this list?  It’s full of good things; like how to be a better dad, and a better husband, and what I need to do to be a better Christian, and what I need to do to be a better minister, and what I need to do to be a better friend.  All of these things are important aren’t they? I’ve even recently added things that will help me lose weight, and be healthier, and fell better. 

The problem is that it’s all my effort and I still haven’t accomplished the only real thing God wants from me.  My life, He wants it all, He wants control, He wants to be at the helm, He wants to be the reason for my existence and as long as I keep trying to be a better person driven  by my ever changing list, He’s only getting what I allow Him to have, and even on my very best day, that is soooooooo weak.

So God, I’m giving you my list.  I know that there is a good chance that I’ll take it back, and please forgive me when I do, but each day, starting today, will you lead me in a quest to be list free and debt free (not money debt, but the sin debt you took from me so long ago).  I’m ready to let you be my everything, not just my pilot.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Can a "True Christian" struggle with depression?

I’ve heard this question posed before in many different ways, and in fact I’ve heard it given more as a rhetorical question with the one giving the question making it clear that the obvious answer is no.  (Btw please note that it is not up to me or you to determine whether someone’s Christianity is “true” or not)

Sometimes well meaning Christians come across as the most heartless, cold, uncaring people when they say things like, “you are just focused on the wrong thing”, or why can’t you see how blessed you are”, or “you don’t have it nearly as bad as the man on the street, or the orphan in the 3rd world country”, or countless other phrases intended to knock the person out of their depression.

Whether you know it or not someone close to you, in fact possibly many people close to you who are professing Christians are currently struggling with depression.  Studies show that in a typical congregation of 200 people 50 attendees will experience depression at some point, and at least 30 are currently taking antidepressants.  (March 2009 article in Christianity Today).

We can argue back and forth about whether depression is a disease or not, but that kind of misses the point doesn’t it?  The fact is, depression is real, and it is all around you, and contrary to some people’s opinion it isn’t a new problem.  Listen to what David said in portions of the 39th Psalm Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. 10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. 11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends — those who see me on the street flee from me. 12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. Sounds to me like the man who gave us the greatest praise songs ever also struggled with depression.

So starting today, will you make a commitment to pay a little closer attention to those around you?  Watch their body language, take note of the little self-depreciating things they say, notice when they seem to be less prompt, or take care of themselves a little less than normal, etc., and take time to let them know how much you care about them.  Send a note, give a hug, and make it obvious that you are available for them if they need it.

Maybe together we can help each other cope with the difficulties of life, instead of ignoring what seem to be signs of weakness. “What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Rom. 8:31 – and yet God is often revealed through His people, and their acts of love, compassion, and kindness.  God is for us, and we have a responsibility to help others see this amazing truth, yes even other Christians who are struggling with depression.
In Christ,

Lance Osborn

Friday, January 6, 2012


You’ve probably heard the opinion stated that Californians are rude.  They’re unfriendly, always in a hurry, and they are rude drivers.  When driving they cut you off, flip you off, and overall turn you off.  Yeah I’ve heard it too, and from people who’ve never stepped a foot in California sometimes.  To be honest when we moved here I did have to adjust to the somewhat aggressive behavior of California drivers, especially since I was coming from Oklahoma, but to be fair I learned how to drive like that in Denver, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a California only thing.

Today as I was driving back to the Church from dropping Cade off at school, there was a vehicle trying to merge onto the freeway.  He was right next to me and had to either speed up or slow down and of course he sped up.  The problem was he was running out of room and didn’t have time to speed up enough to get in front of me.  Now I can be a bit aggressive myself at times, and the temptation was to just stay where I was and make him slow down to get behind me.  In fact I started to do just that and then caught myself.  I waved him over and slowed down to let him in.

What happened next was a bit surprising if you hold to the pre-conceived notion that California drivers are rude.  His back windows were fogged over, so I couldn’t see him, so he makes the effort to roll down his window, sticks his hand up as high as he can (I checked for a gun, just joking) and waved very vigorously to thank me for my decent behavior.

Here’s the point, if I had allowed my thought that this guy is being a jerk and trying to cut me off (because after all, isn’t that what California drivers do?) to overrule my thought of extending mercy because that’s the nice thing to do, I would have gone home thinking that the guy was rude, never knowing that I missed out on someone who was polite enough to make sure I knew he was thankful.

Pre-conceived notions and assumptions are common place and unfortunately they happen not only on highways, and in work environments, they also happen in our homes and in our churches.  They are often the reason why we argue and fight with our spouses, rush to false conclusions with our children, and judge people through self-righteous condemning eyes.  What would happen in your life this year if you stopped living your life based on pre-conceived notions and assumptions, and allowed mercy and grace to be the driving factors in your life?  Would you invite more people to the worship service, would you send out more positive emails on a regular basis, would you criticize less and uplift more, would you treat your family better, would you give others the benefit of the doubt more often, would you feed more homeless people, or even go on a mission trip?

I only know one thing that everyone of us has in common, besideds being alive, and that is we are all sinners in need of a Savior.  I gave my life to Jesus 25 years ago, but sometimes I fail to extend that love to others, and I will tell you that often it’s because I choose to look at people through my tainted eyes of experience, hurt, mistrust, judgment, etc., and often it is because of pre-conceived notions and assumptions.  It’s a new year so let us all resolve to look at everyone through the loving eyes of Jesus, shall we?  And stop bagging on California drivers - lol
In Christ,