Many of you have seen the movie “Close Encounters”. it was released in 1977 and it took the movie world by storm. It instantly became a classic and is still considered by many as one of the top Sci-Fi movies of all times. It won an Oscar and was nominated for 29 other awards of which it won 10.
Steven Spielburg’s, masterpiece tag line was simply (1) Close Encounter of the First Kind – Sighting of a UFO. (2) Close Encounter of the Second Kind – Physical Evidence. (3) Close Encounter of the Third Kind – Contact. WE ARE NOT ALONE
Although, until recently I never saw this movie, the title has stuck in my mind for years. I believe it is because it speaks to the very essence of what I long for and look for in my walk with God. I want, desire, and cry out for a close encounter of the third kind with Him. I have had close encounters of the first kind – sightings of Him. From my earliest days as a child in church I have seen Him work. I have close encounters of the second kind – physical evidence of Him. I have watched Him step into the physical realm and move on my behalf. However, I am holding out for me and holding out for you for a close encounter of the third kind – contact. Daily interaction. Daily communion. Daily presence. Daily relationship.
I have come to the conclusion that we encounter many things when we talk about God and church. On a regular basis we encounter men. We encounter slick presentations. We encounter professional lighting, professional sound, professional programs, and slick promos. We encounter church. We encounter emotional moments. We encounter exhilarating times of worship. But my question is when was the last time that you had a close encounter with God? Notice I didn’t say when was the last time you were impressed with a church. When was the last time you were impressed by the music, the lights, the logo, the people. When was the last time you had a close encounter with God?
It has often been said that “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.” This is especially true in the spiritual realm because we are engaged in spiritual warfare against a powerful enemy who is determined to challenge the plans and purposes of God in his attacks against God’s people. Just as the land of Canaan belonged to Israel….but to receive its benefits and blessings they would have to conquer many enemies….so new experiences through the gaining of new ground belongs to us, but there are enemies to be fought, and walls to be torn down.
Jericho was a fortified city surrounded by two walls fifteen feet apart. Some scholars believe the outer wall towered six to eight stories high and were so thick that soldiers could drive chariots on top. Inside were well-armed and fiercely warlike people. What Joshua saw was indeed a giant of immense proportions. As far as mere man was concerned the walls were impenetrable! But, with God all things are possible!
How was it that Israel experienced such victory? Well, it began as only it could have: with a God-given vision. In Joshua 6:2 God said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, it’s king, and it’s mighty men of valor.” Read the rest of this entry
I went to see a doctor the other day and it took two hours and forty-five minutes! It wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to spend my day. The first thing the doctor said when he came into the exam room was, “I’m sorry to keep you waiting.” This little part of me was thinking, “Have you never been to see the doctor, Doctor? Are you actually surprised that I had to wait? I’ve never not had to wait unbelievable amounts of time. Thanks for the apology, but it seems a little too little too late.” Someone needs to do a study and find out how much time Americans spend in doctor’s waiting rooms each year.
Then I went to the pharmacy! Let me just say one thing. We put a man on the moon. It just seems to me that there has to be a way to have your prescription ready for you when you leave! How long does it take to put pills in a bottle?
I hate waiting. I don’t like waiting for food when I’m hungry. I don’t like waiting in traffic. I don’t like waiting in the store. I don’t like waiting for the light to change. I don’t like waiting for green eggs and ham. I don’t like waiting Sam I Am.
I hate waiting, but here’s the deal. If you want to experience a miracle you can’t just seek and believe. You’ve got to be willing to wait. Most of us love quick and easy miracles, but there is usually a season of waiting before a miracle happens. Unfortunately, most miracles are forfeited because we give up too soon. Learning how to wait is as important as learning how to seek and how to believe. Read the rest of this entry
Let me put a frame around this series. Every time I read through the gospels and I can’t help but notice the sheer quantity of miracles that happened. Sure, they were spread out over a three year period during Jesus’ ministry. But I think most of us would be happy if we experienced one miracle in three years. Now take that into account with what Jesus said in John 14:12: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” That would be amazing enough if Jesus had stopped right there. But he adds an amendment. Jesus says, “He will do even greater things than these.”
So here is what I realize as I journey through the gospels: there is a gap between our theology and our reality. We believe John 14:12, but we’re not there yet. There is a pretty big gap between what we believe and what we experience. And I’m praying that God would close the gap.
Here is the mistake many of us make: we make our theology conform to our reality. You have probably heard of the Jefferson Bible. Thomas Jefferson could not intellectually digest the miracles in the gospels so he extracted them. Everything that was left he compiled into his own version of the Bible called the Jefferson Bible. It’s a miracle-less Bible.
Now here’s the thing. Part of us says, “I can’t believe Thomas Jefferson would have the gall to do what he did.” But most of us do exactly what he did. We don’t physically cut the miracles out of the Bible, but we ignore them or explain away why we aren’t experiencing them in our lives. Read the rest of this entry
As we begin 2009, I want to also begin teaching you a Course on Miracles. I’ve asked God to make 2009 a Year of Miracles. I’ve always wanted God to do something unexplainable and uncontrollable and uncontainable in me and in Life Church. I think we’re on the verge of that.
Luke 5 gives us a picture of what God wants to do in all of our lives. The disciples had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught a thing. Jesus told them to move the boats and try again. I’m sure the professional fisherman really love Jesus give them fishing tips! But Peter was obedient. He said, “Because you say so.” They let down their nets and “caught such a large number of fish that the nets began to break.” They actually had to signal another boat to help them haul in the fish. And both boats were so full they began to sink.
Here is my take on that passage: Jesus did something uncontainable. They hadn’t caught a single fish all night. And then they caught more fish than their boats could contain! That is a picture and that is a promise of what I believe the Lord wants to do in our lives! He wants to bless us beyond our ability to contain it. Read the rest of this entry