Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Jack London, the author of adventure books, such as The Call of the Wild and White Fang was passionate about the kind of life that he wanted to live.  He described it this way; “I would rather be ashes than dust!  I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot.  I would rather be a superb meteor every atom of me in a magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.  The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist.”  Jack London lived his life with passion.

It’s better to burn out than to fade away, my, my hey, hey. – Neil Young

What kind of person are you? Are you willing to step out and take a risk?  Are you the type that would rather be ashes than dust, or do you want to play it safe?  Never venturing out and risking for what God wants to do in your life and through your life? 

It’s interesting what happens to us as we age.  When we’re young we’re filled with excitement.  We aren’t afraid to take a risk.  We aren't afraid to do things that would frighten people.

Former president George W. Bush when he was asked about his college lifestyle, responded with these words:  “When I was young and irresponsible I was young and irresponsible.”  How many of us could say the same thing about certain times in our own lives, but we grow out of it.  We mature with age, and one of the things that happens to us as we age and acquire things is that we become settled and unwilling to risk the things we care about.  We begin to look at passion as irresponsible behavior. 

Charles Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest.  “Because it’s there,” he answered.  In his day that caused quite a clamor because he was married and had children.  People thought that it was an irresponsible act for a man with children.  He was obsessed with the idea of standing on the highest mountaintop in the world.  He was passionate about what he did.  He was passionate about who he was.

He wasn't afraid to do whatever it took to stand on that mountain and that passion cost him his life.  I want you to know, though, there’s room for passion in our lives.  Much of what makes life interesting and exciting is the passion for life that’s in us.

When I took my first job after college at Davis Waste Removal Company in Davis, Ca there was a young man there who would prepare himself every day before leaving on his route.  He would stand next to his truck in the morning, or in the break room, or anywhere there was people and say:  “I’m fired up…I’m gonna do it.  I’m fired up!”  If you asked him how he was doing when you saw him in the morning, he would say, “I’m FIRED up!”  It was infectious, after a while every one was saying it, “I’m fired up!”  This guy loved his job.  He was passionate about going to work.  It was a workout for him and it made the job exciting.

His passion not only helped him to be successful, but it worked on all of us who worked alongside of him.  We all loved our jobs.  There’s room for passion in the things of God.  In fact, it’s a requirement of Christ, that we be passionate about his calling on our lives.

Someone once said, “Apostasy makes Jesus unhappy but it is passivity or the lack of passion that makes him angry.

Today I want to post on maintaining passion in our day and hour, from this portion of scripture:

Revelation 3:14-22 (NKJV)
3:14 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' "

The Laodicean Age

This scripture is an indictment of the church as it is today.    Our Time is a time in history when churches are goal oriented, and purpose driven.  They have a mission.  The question is, “Is it the same vision as the builder of the church.”  It really bugs me when people from other churches try to win away people from our church to theirs.

This always happens when people first get saved.  Someone witnesses to you and you come and get saved and suddenly…everyone you know is a Christian.  They all start inviting you to their church.  They never mentioned they were Christians before.  You never knew that they even went to church, but now they want you to go to THEIR church.

In our church we’re trying to reach the lost.  We’re trying to touch people who don’t have Jesus.  Why do people want to try to reach their friends in other churches?  I think what we’re seeing is the idea that people want to respond to the command to preach the Gospel but that there is a fear that holds them from reaching out to people they don’t know.  It’s always easier to talk to someone who’s like-minded, especially when it’s something that might be a bit controversial.  What did our parents teach us?  Never talk religion or politics, right?  Why not?  For one thing, those things are things that we’re likely to be passionate about and passion makes people uncomfortable, so they just try to avoid the controversy.

I've heard a lot of strange things.  I've heard people “witnessing” about the Starbucks that shares their parking lot.  Our church in Riverside had a booth at the city’s market night.  People would come to our booth and invite us to their church.  It was like they were standing outside our door and outreaching for their church.  In fact, one time we did a music outreach INSIDE the church building and some people came inside and passed out flyers for their church.

The modern church is in danger of being like the church in Laodicea, a church that has lost its passion and willingness to risk for the Gospel to move forward.  How did the Laodicean church lose its passion?

Revelation 3:17 (NKJV)
3:17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--

Laodicea was the wealthiest city in Asia Minor.  They produced garments made out of black wool.  The wool wasn't dyed black the garments were made from wool that occurred naturally in the sheep of that area.  It was a wealthy enough city that in 61 AD when there was a destructive earthquake the people rebuilt on their own, refusing to accept money from Caesar.  They were a wealthy and self-sufficient people.

This is a reflection of the church world today.  Prosperity has become the measure of success for a church.  The church has stepped into the Laodicean age.  This is what churches are becoming in our times.  They’re wealthy with the world’s goods:  Huge buildings, beautiful grounds and all the latest technology.  They believe that they’re spiritually enriched:  That because of the crowds and the resources that they’re blessed of God because of their spirituality.  They have need of not even one thing.  They are self sufficient; “God has blessed us.”

That’s the same way the Laodiceans must have felt.  Have you ever witnessed to rich man?  You tell him all that God wants to do for him and he has no need of God…and then tells you why.

“God has given me everything I have.”

That sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it:  “I’m rich, I have increased in goods, I have no need.”

What is God’s response in this:  “You do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked…”

The Laodiceans had become comfortable because of their prosperity.  They became passive; they didn’t want to risk what they had.  God hates passivity.

Revelation 3:15-16 (NKJV)
3:15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

You know Oolong tea should be served at exactly 85 C (185 F).  If you allow the tea to get cooler that that it changes the taste of the tea.  I can tell you from experience that lukewarm Oolong tea is not good.  If it’s hot it’s good; if it’s cold, it’s good.  Lukewarm is not good, though.

Another way to say passion is fervent desire.  The word fervent implies glowing, burning, boiling passion.  This is the calling of the church:

Romans 12:11 (NKJV)
12:11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

God is refreshed by our passion, our fervency for his commands and His calling on our lives.  He doesn't want a tepid, lukewarm response.  He’s looking for passion.  There are three things that have happened to Laodicean church:

  1. They lost their passion and fervency for the faith.  There’s no longer an excitement for the things of God.
  2. They have become arrogant; conceited.  We’re rich, increased in goods.  We must be the church that God has called us to be because we’re so blessed.  Jesus reminded that they’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.
  3. Finally, they’re Christ-less, Jesus isn't a part of the church.  He’s outside knocking looking to be allowed in.

This isn't the church that Jesus had in mind when He began the church, but this is the church it has become and even more so in our time.

Where a Passionate Church Begins

Eric Liddell, an Olympic Gold Medal runner and missionary to China unlocked the secret to the passionate life.  His was a model of passion as described by Paul in:

Colossians 3:23-25 (NKJV)
3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

During Liddell’s university years that phrase, “Whatever you do,” centered on running, on being the fastest possible.  Afterward his life focused on his missionary work in China.  He did them both “heartily” – flat out, wide open passionately – “as to the Lord.”  Passion causes us to approach all the activities of our lives the same way Liddell did.

What’s the secret to a passionate church?  The secret to a passionate church is passionate people.  Where does passion in a person come from?  It comes from a decision to be passionate:  Just like Eric Liddell made everything he did as if he was doing it for the Lord:  Just like my trash collector friend made a decision to get “Fired up!”  What decision have you made?  Is your faith passionate?  Are you going flat out, wide open?  Or are you holding back?

There is a place near where I grew up called, Carnegie Cycle Park.  It was place where off-road motorcycle riders would go because there were a lot of trails and hills to climb.  There was one particular hill that my friends called, “The Drag Hill.”  The hill was nearly a 45% grade, and covered with loose rock.  The strategy was to make a run at the hill with the throttle wide open in the highest gear and power your way all the way to the top.  You had to stay on the throttle all the way.  If you let off it was over, you’d never make it and would probably crash.  I saw this happen often enough. 

Too often in the things we do for God, we start out full throttle, full of power and speed determined to make the run.  Some guys, though, see something and they let off on the throttle and never make it.  I’m talking about people who've said they want to do something for God, but somewhere along the line they've let off the throttle: Lost the speed and momentum and the opportunity to make a mark for Jesus.  They are even in danger of losing the kingdom.

Often the problem is the same as for the Laodiceans.  People begin to think, “I’m comfortable.  I don’t want to risk the prosperity I've already received or the prosperity I’m working toward, because I put God first in my life.”  When that happens passion is turned into passivity and finally complacency and you are in danger of falling out of salvation, altogether.  Here’s a little truth for you.  If your not trying to move forward in your salvation, you WILL fall back.

Passion begins in individuals.  Revival is started in each of our hearts.  When there is a revival in each of us the church will begin to experience revival.  Passion is the same way.  If we’re all personally passionate then the church is passionate.  If we the church is passionate then we can do something.

One of my friends was pioneering a number of years ago.  He had a young man come in and get saved at one of his outreaches.  He came into the church and locked in, then he brought his girlfriend.  Then her mother came.  This young man began to get excited about the things the church was doing.  A passion the preach the Gospel got all over him, and so he began to street preach and witness to other young people and the church exploded as young people came in and got saved and began to follow in this one kid’s footsteps.

It started with one kid’s passion about preaching and spread to all of his friends.  These guys would get saved and see the passion in the others and they’d think that’s what being a part of the church was all about.  When your friends come an see what you’re doing what’s their impression of church?  What do they think your church is all about?  Do they think it’s a LAID BACK church?  I certainly hope not.  I've been called a lot of things in my life, but laid back has never been one of them. 

The Loadicean church was a laid-back church and it made God want to puke.  We need some wide-open, full throttle disciples.  Passion is what come from within each of us.  Are you passionate?

How do we Become Passionate Individuals?

Elisha is a great picture of passion for the things of God.  On the day Elijah was taken up he couldn’t shake Elisha. 

2 Kings 2:1-2 (NKJV)
2:1 And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!" So they went down to Bethel.

2 Kings 2:6 (NKJV)
2:6 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan." But he said, "As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!" So the two of them went on.

He saw Elijah taken up in a whirlwind and received the mantle.  Elisha was passionate about receiving the promise of God.  He held on to Elijah to see what God had for him.  He wanted a double portion of that.  In the end he did twice as many miracles as Elijah.  How dow e become like Elisha?

There are three ways to maintain our passion:

  1. Stretch Yourself. 

President John F. Kennedy once said:

Only those who dare to fail miserable will achieve greatly.

Only those who would rather go out in a blaze than be stifled in dry rot will be able to do what needs to be dome to achieve.  If you want all that God has for you, you need to be willing to risk to get it all.

  1. Spend time with passionate people.

Remember the illustration about Davis Waste Removal or about the nTeenagers who had such passion?  What got everyone going in both those instances was the passion of someone else.  Passion is contagious; it spreads to everyone around it.  My children always tell my wife, “We’re bored.”  Brenda has the right answer, though, “You’re not bored, you’re boring.”  She’s not really trying to insult them, she’s just saying that their bored and don’t have the energy to do anything, because they have no passion for anything.

  1. Look for something to get excited about.

Some of us need to get our heart rates up about something; anything.  Are you not excited about what God has done in your life?  Do you know all that God has planned for you?  No, some of it’s going to be a surprise.  Do you think that God has something good for you?  Do you want to see it all come to pass?  Maybe you need to be passionate about seeing it through.

Want to have something to get excited about?  Look at this:

Revelation 3:21-22 (NKJV)
3:21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' "

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit on my throne.  The throne of the King of the Universe; we can sit there if we overcome.  Overcome what?  Overcome what the Laodicean church needed to overcome, their lack of passion for the things of God.  That’s what we need to overcome in the modern church as well. 

I want to be able to come to church and hear people say, “I’m fired up!  God’s going to so something today and he’s going to let me be a part of it… WHOA, I AM FIRED UP!”


1 comment:

  1. How funny, I tell my kids the same thing your wife does and for the same reason. This stirred my heart. Thanx!