30 July 2007


Reading JOHN 2:13-25 there are some amazing faith lessons. But tonight the two that come to mind, stir my mind and convict my mind are the following -- the SECOND one is from this passage, and the FIRST one is from the story John tells just before this one in the beginning of JOHN 1.

FIRST … John began with Jesus doing a
MIRACLE OF CONVERSION – changing water
into wine at a wedding in Cana.

SECOND … John shows Jesus doing a WORK
– cleansing out the Temple
in Jerusalem. And gang, this is exactly how
Jesus always works in our lives …
comes first and then CLEANSING.

Jesus spent time with God the Father … talking with Him and getting His game plan. He didn’t go to Jerusalem just for PASSOVER. God had things He needed Jesus to do in Jerusalem – and going there for PASSOVER was just the first thing on the “To Do List”. And because of the time Jesus spent with God the Father, He was discerning in everything He did … and because He always discerned what God wanted Him to do, He was also courageous – even when that meant He had to swim up stream, and live differently than the people around Him.

Listen to me friends … if you’re just fitting in with the world, and living your life just like everybody else is, then let me break it to you … you’re not living a discerning, courageous life as a follower of Jesus Christ. But if your priorities are shifting to represent the priorities of Jesus Christ … if your affections are shifting to mirror the affections of Jesus Christ … if your commitments are going though a transformation process and they’re beginning to emulate the commitments of Jesus Christ … then the good news is that you’re becoming more like Jesus and less like the world.

Do you want to be more discerning and more courageous in how you live out your faith? Then spend more time with Jesus Christ. Let Him CONVERT you and then invite Him to begin to CLEANSE you. Godspeed.



24 July 2007

2nd Street Community Church | Sunday, 22 July 2007
Gregg Lamm | lead pastor-teacher

We just studied JOHN 2:1-12, the story of Jesus’ first public miracle where He turned water into wine at a wedding in a town called Cana. As a pastor-teacher who’s worked with nearly countless people who’ve struggled with alcohol addictions – and like many, if not most of you, as a human being who’s seen up-close-and-personal the pain caused by alcohol in so many people’s lives, this passage leads me to ask the question, “Is it okay for followers of Jesus Christ to drink alcohol?” I’d answer, “a qualified yes.”

Grape juice isn’t wine, and wine isn’t grape juice. In Jesus’ day there was no way to keep grape juice from fermenting so people didn’t actually drink “grape juice”. And people knew the difference between wines. What was good wine and what was bad wine. And so if this wine Jesus made hadn’t been real wine (as some Christ-followers strongly advocate) and if it hadn’t been the best wine, the people wouldn’t have asked why Jesus saved the best wine for last.

With impure water the norm, wine was the beverage of choice much of the time. But it was usually mixed with one-part wine with two or three-parts water, lowering the alcohol content considerably. Paul even recommended to Timothy to drink wine medicinally for his stomach's sake (cf., FIRST TIMOTHY 5:23); probably after he’d had some impure water.

There are over 20 million alcoholics in the USA today – which means that it is a disease that has touched, in some way or another, every one of us. In light of that staggering reality, there are three guidelines regarding alcohol that I’d like to offer you …


FIRST, DON'T GET DRUNK. Jesus said in LUKE 21:34 … “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap.”

Paul writes in EPHESIANS 5:18, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation [indulgence], but be filled with the Spirit.” And he also writes in GALATIANS 5:19-21 that a person who is continually drunk isn’t living in the Kingdom of God and is letting their sin nature tell them how to live life instead of giving God that opportunity.
And finally, The Old Testament book of PROVERBS offers a lot of wisdom and warning about the pain and separation alcohol causes between God and His people (cf., PROVERBS 23:29-35).

SECOND, DON'T BE DECEIVED BY ALCOHOL. Again, PROVERBS has a lot of wisdom about this, as do other books in The Old Testament (cf., PROVERBS 20:1; PROVERBS 31:4-5; LEVITICUS 9:23-10:3; LEVITICUS 10:8-10).

Paul writes in FIRST CORINTHIANS 6:12 … “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” In other words, just because we may have the freedom in Jesus Christ to drink alcohol, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I under its power?”

THIRD, DON’T STUMBLE SOMEONE ELSE. You may have the freedom in Jesus Christ to enjoy wine with your supper, but it's not all that easy. We live in a society where alcoholism is rampant. Is there someone watching you whose conscience will be harmed as they watch you drink? (cf., ROMANS 14:13-15)

Your response to this question might be, “Well, if it harms them or causes them to stumble, that’s not my problem?” To which I’d say …

“Brother or sister, that’s not the response Jesus Christ would have. His compassion for the hurting and the broken informed every decision He made, and every step He took. Choosing to not carefully and compassionately consider the effect our actions have on others (irregardless of our intent), is a self-centered way to live, and doesn’t mirror the heart and mind of Jesus Christ.”

If a fellow Christian who is an alcoholic sees you drinking at the table next to you in the restaurant, is it going to make him think that he can do it too? What would you think if while you were waiting for a table at the Dundee Bistro, you saw me sitting over in the bar belting back a few? I bring up these questions, because “Yes, as followers of Jesus Christ” we have great freedom when it comes to drinking alcohol … but with all the trouble that alcohol can bring, and since we don't live in a world where the only safe thing to drink is wine, then I challenge us to consider the question of “why drink alcohol?”

If you, or someone you know is struggling with issues related to alcohol, drugs, or any other hurt, habit or hang-up, consider connecting with 2ND STREET COMMUNITY CHURCH’S CELEBRATE RECOVERY PROGRAM – WHICH MEETS EACH SUNDAY EVENING FROM 6:00-8:30 P.M. IN THE CHEHALEM ARMORY YOUTH BUILDING.




19 July 2007


Sorry about the lack of postings. I'm a blogger-slacker. But I'm determined to mend my slothful ways. I've been taken by this quote from St. Augustine since first reading it ... "Oh LORD, Thou didst strike my heart with Thy WORD, and I have loved Thee." Here are St. Augustine's words stylized by artist Michael Podesta (www.michaelpodesta.com).

I've been teaching from The Gospel of John lately, and recently shared from JOHN 1:35-51, the passage where Jesus called several folks to leave their own lives so they could follow Him. Here are a couple things I shared in that teaching that I thought others might connect with.

I love what Madeline L’Engle writes
about this false façade of what followers
of Jesus Christ are like in her book
Walking On Water: Reflections On Faith
And Art

The men and women who Jesus offered
this gift [of discipleship] were ordinary
human beings, faulted and flawed, just
like the rest of us. He gave his disciples
no job descriptions; he did not disqualify
Mary Magdalene because she’d been afflicted
with seven demons; he did not spend a lot
of time looking for the most qualified people,
the most adult. Instead, he chose people
who were still childlike enough to leave the
known comforts of the daily world, the
security of their jobs, their reasonable way
of life, to follow him. (p. 89)

vv. 40-42 … one of these two guys Jesus asked to follow Him was a man named “Andrew” and most Bible scholars believe that the other one was none other than the man writing this Gospel … John himself – but just like he does all the way through his Gospel, John doesn’t name himself in the story, but instead, deliberately stays in the background.

So we have Andrew and his brother Peter here with Jesus. Andrew isn’t as well known as some of the other disciples. In fact, he’s usually just referred to as “Simon Peter’s brother.” But listen to me, nobody who spends time with Jesus, nobody who becomes a follower of Jesus, nobody who invites Jesus to engage their heart and mind, is unimportant.

And while Peter may have become the disciple of Jesus who got the spotlight (he had his protégé John Mark write out his Gospel … The Gospel of Mark … he became the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, he wrote two letters included in The New Testament, and on and on and on) … and while all those things are true, it’s Peter’s brother Andrew who had the distinction of bringing him to the Lord.

And the FAITH LESSON for us here is that we’ll never know just how important our witness is until we give it. Let me tell you a true story that illustrates this …

As a young man of 18, Dwight Moody found himself part of a Sunday School class taught by a man named Edward Kimball. Here’s how Edward described a conversation that he was led by God to have with 18-year-old Dwight on Saturday morning, April 21, 1855 …

“I decided to speak to Dwight about Christ. I started down town to Holton's Shoe Store where he worked. When I was nearly there I began to wonder whether I ought to go just then during business hours. And I thought maybe my mission might embarrass the boy, that when I went away the other clerks might ask who I was, and when they learned might taunt him and ask him if ‘I was trying to make a good boy out of him.’ While I was pondering over it all I passed the store without noticing it.”

Do you hear the hesitancy in Edwards words?
God asked him to talk with Dwight about Jesus,
and Edward STARTED TO OBEY … but then he
came up with excuses and reasons why maybe
it wasn’t such a good idea.

This is the same inner-dialogue you and I go
through when we hesitate to stay in step
with the plans and the relationships God
asks us to pursue, and the words He asks
us to speak to others about our life with
Christ. But then Edward tells us what
happened next …

“Then, when I found I had gone by the door of Holton’s Shoe Store, I determined to make a dash for it and have it over at once. I found Dwight in the back part of the store wrapping up shoes in paper and stacking them on shelves. I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, and as I leaned over I placed my foot upon a shoe box.

Neither of us could ever recall the exact words I spoke – but looking down into Dwight’s eyes I made what I thought afterwards was a very weak plea. I asked him to come to Christ, to the One who loved him and who wanted his love and should have it.

Kimball wrote that when he spoke these words there were “tears in his eyes,” and he said, “it seemed that the young man was just ready for the light that broke upon him. For there, at once, in the back of that shoe store in Boston, Dwight Moody gave himself and his life to Jesus Christ.” And then Kimball slipped out from the store just a few minutes after he’d come into it.

In Boston, in 1855, a Sunday School teacher named Edward Kimball had a conversation about Jesus Christ with a young shoe clerk, who then gave his life to Jesus Christ. The shoe clerk, Dwight Moody, eventually became an evangelist, missionary, pastor and the founder of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

Twenty-four years later, in England in 1872, while speaking there as an evangelist, God used Dwight’s message to stir the heart of the pastor of a small church, but whose life with Christ was nearly dead. This man’s name was FB Meyer. By 1895 FB Meyer’s church of 100 had grown to over 2,000 people.

Then FB Meyer, while preaching on an American college campus, introduced a young man named John Wilbur Chapman to Jesus Christ. Chapman eventually became a pastor and an evangelist as well – even preaching many times alongside Dwight Moody – the man who introduced to Jesus Christ the man who had introduced him to Christ. Then Chapman, working for the YMCA, employed a former baseball player named Billy Sunday, to hold a series of evangelistic crusades in his town.

In 1934, Billy Sunday held a series of revival meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina, and afterward, a group of local men were so enthusiastic about what happened, that they planned another evangelistic campaign, bringing a man named Mordecai Ham to town to preach. During Hamm's meetings, a young man named Billy Graham heard about Jesus Christ – and that He’d stepped out of heaven so that He could step into his heart – and that was then sixteen-year-old Billy Graham gave his life over to Jesus Christ.

Friends, only eternity will reveal the tremendous impact of that one Sunday School teacher, Mr. Edward Kimball, who invested his life in the lives of others – and who one day obeyed the prompting of God, and took the risk of going to Horton’s Shoe Store to have a conversation about the good news of the Gospel with a young man in the back of the store.

And so when you sense God prompting to share Jesus Christ with someone, please don't refuse! Godspeed.