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  Happy Reformation Day!  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 31, 2012  
     
 

Not really a celebrated holiday in America, but it should be.

October 31 is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, originally known as, “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” to the doors at All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Luther’s anger was not towards the Catholic Church, per se, but to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel to raise money to rebuild St. Peters Cathedral in Rome. This act spawned the protestant revolution which would later label those outside the “Church” as Protestants.

In celebration of Reformation Day we have an ebook to give away. The book is called, Concerning Christian Liberty: with, Letter of Martin Luther to Pope Leo X. You can download a copy of this book for free by using the coupon code SG75Q when checking out. Just click on the book below and it will take you to Smashwords where the book is located.

 
     
   
  Remember, use coupon SG75Q when checking out!  
   
     
  I have the best job!  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 30, 2012  
     
 

There are some days that things go really well and yesterday just happened to be one of those days—well actually the past three days.

By far I probably have the best job in the world. I know, you think your job is better, but listen to mine. I have the privilege of pastoring a church in the mountains of northern California. A place where you are surrounded by beautiful scenery. Where rivers actually flow, and wildlife is abundant. However, that is not the reason I have the best job—although those things don’t hurt. No, instead it is because of what I get to do.

To some it might not sound like I have a great job, but to me it is the greatest. Why? Because I get to serve. That’s right, I get to serve people. Not just the members of the church, but people throughout the community. Take the other day for example.

I had been looking forward to this for a few months. For about a year a friend of mine and I had been talking about going firewood cutting together. Things just seemed to not work out so we never could get together. Then last week we were talking and our schedules were clear for this week. The plans were set, the date was confirmed, and the wood was going to be cut. Everything looked like it was a go—and you know what? It happened!

We had the greatest time cutting firewood. Talking about how to fell a tree between several others. How to get the most power out of your saw (his saw was bigger). Everything went very well. Personally, besides the great time we spent together, I learned a lot about felling trees and cutting the rounds. This was a great day.

Then it happened again. Yesterday, another friend and I went out to cut some more wood. This time we were cutting wood for a raffle at the high school. Unfortunately, in California, many schools have to raise monies to keep programs like athletics going. Anyhow, there we were, just two good friends cutting wood and talking about how our football team is doing—Going to the playoff! That’s how!

You know, neither of these men are members of the church I pastor. Fact is neither go to church. But they are great friends who I pray will one day find the Lord and find a church. But until then, I get to cut firewood with them and serve them.

They are my friends, not because they did they did anything for me, but because I chose them. I remember something about that in the Bible—God chose us before we even knew He existed. Friendship is not based on what they do for you, it is based on you. So, let’s go out today and make a new friend, and then serve them.

 
   
     
  So how do you live in continual forgiveness?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 24, 2012  
     
 

This is always the question. Can you forgive someone and keep on forgiving them? The answer is, "Yes." But to live in continual forgiveness you need three items.

Number one—you need to have the attitude of Christ. I know it sounds like I am beating a dead horse, but there is no way around living in forgiveness without having the attitude of Christ. I encourage you to go back to the original blog on this subject and read forward (Before we begin by Richard D. McCormack - September 18, 2012)

Number two—Pray! This is so key to forgiveness as well as having the attitude of Christ. There are many times Satan will meet me in the morning and remind me of the hurt someone has done to me. Some days, I almost relive the entire event. That is when I take it to prayer and find encouragement in my relationship with the Father, and how He has forgiven me. I also remember the prayer that the Lord told His disciples to pray: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name . . . And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:8-13).

Finally—you need to stay in the Word. This is America’s downfall. We feed our physical life every day, yet our spiritual life is so anorexic. The Bible is the Bread of Life. It is the breathed word of God. You are actually reading the words of God, given to the writers, through the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I tell my parishioners all the time that 90% of what God wants you to know He has written it down in His word. 10% is what He personally wants you to know to fulfill His kingdom through you. However, we have to master the 90% before we can use the 10%.

So how do you live in continual forgiveness? Have the attitude of Christ who prayed without ceasing, and hid the word of God in His heart so that for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Father.

 
   
     
  Is it necessary to forgive and forget to live in continual forgiveness?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 22, 2012  
     
 

Forgive and forget?

I wanted to start today’s blog with a belief that is often overstated, “You must forget if you are to truly forgive.” I wish that was the case. I wish I could forget every wrong done to me when I forgave someone. However, the majority of the time this does not happen—and often for good reason (more on this later).

When I think about forgiveness, I think about the ultimate forgiveness of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. How He took the debt I owed and nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). It was not "just an event," Jesus made the forgiveness personal, but He did so without forgetting the act that put Him there.

Now wait. Before I’m marked as a heretic, I know what Isaiah 43:25 says, and we will deal with that in a moment. But first think back for a moment to a group of disciples huddled together in small building—the Bible calls it a room. How the ten were there, less Judas who hung himself, and Thomas who was gone for some reason. There were possibly others in the room, such as Mary, Jesus’ mother, and maybe Martha along with other women. It doesn’t seem like a pleasant time.

The Bible says they were all terrified. Frightened! Shaking in their boots (figuratively). Then a spirit, possibly an angel stood in their midst. They knew Jesus was the Son of God and knew they had betrayed Him. Yes Mary Magdalene had just arrived and said Jesus was alive; but now, with the Jews looking for them, the thought of things getting any worse was not what they wanted to hear. Yet there it was—a spirit, an angel, a man? Who knew? What they did know, at that moment, was fear.

Then came those wonderful words of grace, “Peace be with you.”

They had to be puzzled at the comment, for they did not know who or what it was that said this. What was offering them peace? Yet at that crucial moment Jesus stuck forth His hands and showed them His side and again said, “Peace be with you.”

With all the knowledge of what was done, He said peace. Showing them the fresh nail prints, the spear whole, the whip marks, and the scars on His brow Jesus says to them, “I forgive you.”

Did we miss something? Isn’t Jesus suppose to forget what has been done to Him if He is truly to forgive? Shouldn't He have a new body without the scars and marks so He can fully forgive? When you say it out loud it does seem kind of crazy. It does seem kind of illogical that the God of the universe can forget certain events of our lives. Take for example David and Bathsheba, did God forget David’s sins? If He did He just needs to read 1 & 2 Samuel and it will all come back to Him.

Forgiveness does mean to pardon or release the offender from the debt; to return the offender to their prior state before the offence. However, it doesn’t mean you have to put yourself back in the situation where the person can hurt you again. Trust and forgiveness are two different things. I forgave the man who abused my daughter, but it doesn't mean I am going to allow him to be alone with her. However, forgiveness means I no longer look at him with hate, bitterness, rage, etc. I have forgiven and will keep on forgiving.

Jesus forgave knowing full well what the disciples did to Him. He opened his hands and showed them the scars and then He said these words, "Peace be with you." Today, we can be just like Christ, and all we need is the attitude of Christ.

 
   
     
  The cost of non forgiveness  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 18, 2012  
     
 

I am asked, every once in a while, why am I blogging a lot on forgiveness?

It is easy to throw out the "God-card" and say, "Because God led me to blog about forgiveness." But that is often so speculative that people become skeptical. Then there is that I am trying to work out this subject in my life. Thus I am blogging about what I need to do. There is a lot of truth in this. I always talk and blog about things that are heavy on my heart—struggles I am having and issues I am dealing with. But there is another reason. Today, society is so bent on revenge and personal justice that we are no longer acting in forgiveness.

You might say, "This is how we handle the hurt and wrong that is done to us." That might be true. You might even say, "If I forgive, I am releasing the person from his debt." This is never true, and the two should not be connected. However, there are still a number of reasons why we do not forgive. But have you ever thought about the effect the bitterness and rage is having on your life and other relationships?

Yesterday, I blogged about the report from The Mayo Clinic. Basically, the report stated that if you do not forgive you are destined to carry the bitterness, rage, anger, lack of trust, and other negative feelings and emotions into other relations. In other words, you can doom other relations because you will not forgive.

Also, there are health risks which are brought on by stress and hypertension caused by the unwillingness to forgive. These are real issues that can shorten your life (I don't think we need to bring up all the medical reports on stress and hypertension). But why is this? Why must I suffer when I am the victim?

The direct answer is this: You are not your own, you have been bought with a price, thus you must have the attitude of Christ and forgive just as God has forgiven you. (1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 2:5-11; Ephesians 4:10)

So then why do we still struggle to forgive? It all stems back to the idea of self—we want our justice. Thereby, the question changes. It is no longer, "Why I need to forgive"—for we know why—but, "What if I refuse to forgive?"

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells his disciples, especially Peter, that forgiveness has to be limitless. In two quick verses Jesus gives the answer to that age old question, "How many times must I forgive my brother, friend, and later enemies, if they wrong me?" Yet Jesus does not end there. Instead, He follows the statement with a parable of a lord and two slaves. The lord in the story is calling in all the money lent or used by his slaves/servants. The first servant owes him about $10 million, but he cannot pay. So the slave begs for mercy and is forgiven the entire debt. The servant in turns goes to a fellow servant who owes him about $19 and some change. The second servant cannot pay so he pleads for mercy. However, the first servant does not give mercy but throws his fellow servant in prison until the debt can be paid. Soon the lord of the servants here about incident and takes the first slave and throws him in prison until he can pay back what he owed.

That ended the parable, but not the lesson. Jesus tags on a little comment that gets our attention even today.

"My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."

 
  Matthew 18:35  
     
 

First, this passage is not about salvation. It is not discussing whether or not you can lose your salvation. What it is talking about is the torment that a Christian faces in their life, both physical and spiritual, because they will not forgive. Our heavenly father has called us to forgive. Yet, if we chose not to forgive, but, instead, keep the rage, bitterness, anger, and lack of trust that comes with an unforgiving heart then our Heavenly Father will let us have it all. He will allow it to eat you away until you deal with it. In our bitterness we yell out, "That's not fair!" but why not? You can't have your cake and eat it to.

If we chose not to forgive then we are turned over to the tormentors of our making. It is in forgiveness that we can find peace.

 
   
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  Forgiveness: The Mayo Clinic Report  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 17, 2012  
     
 

One of the best reports I have read on forgiveness came out of The Mayo Clinic last November. It was entitled, "Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness." The paper, written by The Mayo Clinic staff addressed what happens to a person if they do not forgive and concludes with the reasons a person needs to forgive.

The opening statement, or sub heading said, "When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge—or embrace forgiveness and move forward." But, what I found intriguing was how the paper corresponds to what Jesus said in Matthew 18.

I have often said, "Everything is Spiritual." At the heart of this statement is that your physical life effects your spiritual, and your spiritual life effects your physical. We cannot separate the two—nor should we. Too often, we try to compartmentalize our lives into: family, entertainment, work, church, etc., and never shall they meet. However, this often causes splits in our lives and we run around like Little Boy Blue trying to plug the holes in our lives. But what if we tried to combine these separate lives and become whole? And we start by forgiving—completely?

Forgiveness is a spiritual act, but like the Mayo Clinic staff pointed out, it is also physical and emotional (psyche). And don’t we need to heal completely?

Read over the report from The Mayo Clinic and we will talk tomorrow about forgiving others.

 
   
     
  The most difficult part of forgiveness  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 15, 2012  
     
 

When I talk with most people about forgiveness, they are very interested in learning how they can forgive some who has wronged them. How to make the hurt go away. How to get through the memories and get on with their lives. We talk about the pain, the sorrow, the anger that wells up in the person. Forgiveness is difficult to give, but seeking forgiveness is difficult to do.

We don’t talk about seeking forgiveness very much. Next to a message by Charles Swindoll I cannot remember a message on the subject. Yet, if we were talking about forgiving others there is a plethora of writings on the subject. Many will make comments like:

“They started it!”

“I can’t remember offending anyone.”

“All that is in the past. Why bring it up?”

“They probably don’t remember it.”

—and the excuses roll on.

We don’t seek forgiveness mainly because of one or two reasons. The first is apathy. The incident happened so long ago we are apathetical to the incident. We are no longer connected by feelings or emotion. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Too often this floods over into our Christ like walk and waters down our empathy or feelings for a brother. Apathy is one part of our life we must fight against.

The second reason is regret. We know we did it. We possibly caused a person great harm and we have been told that if we admit to what we did we are opening ourselves up to possible punitive damage. Well, this part is true. By seeking forgiveness you make yourself vulnerable. I believe this is why seeking forgiveness is so difficult.

Then there are the people of today, who say the Bible does not explicitly teach seeking forgiveness. They point out the teaching that the person who is offended needs to work out the differences. Well, these ideas are wrong.

Forgiveness is mandated by God. We do have a biblical foundation to seek forgiveness. It is called reconciliation. Jesus said,

first be reconciled to your brother,

 
  Matthew 5:24  
     
 

It is our responsibility to reconcile our differences between each other.

However, ultimately you must seek forgiveness from God for the wrong you have done Him. I know, many say, “I was born this way.” or “It’s not my fault.” or one of a million excuses. However if you will not repent and turn to Jesus and ask him to forgive you then your destiny is sealed.

Folks, I urge you and plead with you that we all need to pull out the weeds in our garden of life. Thereby, the scripture will be fulfilled when it says,

whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

 
  Matthew 18:18.  
     
 

I urge you today, get rid of the apathy and regret in your life and seek forgiveness from those you have wronged.

 
   
     
  Should we apologize for social media?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 12, 2012  
     
 

What a strange question? Should we apologize for the best thing since slice bread? People across the globe are able to connect. Grandparents who live hundreds or even thousands of miles away can see pictures of their grand kids. They can even interact in their daily lives. There is so much good that takes place on social media. Why, O why, should we apologize for it?

I have a close friend who would remind me that, “Any truth over extended is a heresy.” It doesn’t matter which way you take something you can turn it bad. Think about Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount as he addressed prayer, tithing, fasting, and even helping a brother in need (Matthew 6:1-7:6). All these subjects are good and we need to do them; however, the context Jesus placed them in was the ideology of hypocrite. The Pharisees seized upon good practices and made them something vile before the Lord, and people.

But what about social media, what wrong could it possibly have?

The wrong is the disconnect from responsibility. We voice our opinions without any thought of whom it hurts. We say what we want to say—after all, it is our right. Yes, we do have a right to voice our opinion, but at what cost? The cost of family? The cost of friendships? Sometimes even the cost of a life?

We get frustrated and angry at a person so we type out a “tweet” or a “post” of what hurt us or wronged us, but are we not wronging the other by throwing our personal business into the public arena? What happened to the teaching if it is between two people handle it between the two?

So here we are in a world where everyone can say what they think regardless of the consequences. All they need to do is type (in 140 characters or less) what they think and press send. So another friend is lost—that’s OK, I have hundreds more; another life is ruined—they shouldn’t have hurt me first; all because we have the right.

I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul said,

“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”

 
  1 Corinthians 8:9  
     
  I agree that we have a right to say what we want, but sometimes it hurts.  
   
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  Forgiveness is a difficult topic  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 10, 2012  
     
 

Anytime you mention forgiveness you set yourself up for a lot of criticism. When a minister, friend, or colleague suggests that you should forgive it can cause a lot of resentment and pain against that person. Why?

First, forgiveness is personal. It comes with a lot of baggage. There are the circumstances, the relationships, and other reasons, not to mention the event. Often there is the surprise of the action, how if you had known the event was going to happen then you would not have put yourself in the predicament. Included in this baggage are old friends that we have become so accustomed to. Friends we know we must remove from our lives. Friends like hate, bitterness, and rage, these too we find tucked away in our baggage.

Then there is the belief that if we forgive a person we are releasing that person from the debt or responsibility of the action. Their guilt must continue or we feel we have lost or given in to the action.

Third, forgiveness always deals with emotions and feelings. This is possibly the single most important reason the subject of forgiveness is hard to talk about. Opening up the subject connects the person to the event whether they need to offer forgiveness or seek forgiveness from someone else. It is what holds us at the point of not giving or seeking.

Forth, seeking forgiveness is possibly harder than giving forgiveness. Most believe the opposite because of the first three points; however, when you seek forgiveness you make yourself vulnerable to the other person. Seeking forgiveness can make you culpable to punitive damages. We see this in lawsuits where the company or person agrees to pay without admitting any wrong doing.

I personally think the fifth reason is so huge that we often overlook it. It is the white elephant in the room that is tearing up everything but no one wants to address it. This would be social media (and I am planning on addressing this by itself).

Sixth, the reason forgiveness is hard to talk about is because the last words we probably said were words of anger and bitterness. Words like, “I hate you!”, or “Go to —!” were probably the last words you said? Words are hard to take back. I know the old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This is a lie! Words you can’t take back. I would rather someone break my bones than to belittle or run me down with words. Bones heal, words hurt for a long time.

Then there is the personal reason forgiveness is hard to talk about. It is because I am guilty of the very thing I am talking about. This is where getting the log out of my eye first comes to play.

When I started this series about forgiveness all these reasons not to talk about forgiveness flooded into my mind. Yet, the bottom line is this, if we don’t talk about forgiveness, we will never forgive and that is not good for us. I hate to be the one to open up the old wounds and bring out the skeletons in the closet, but we must. Either we can address the need of forgiveness or society, whose psyche is bent on revenge, will win. Forgiveness is a choice. My prayer is you move to seek or give forgiveness.

 
   
     
  Have we forgotten about forgiveness?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 9, 2012  
     
 

The other day I was perusing the internet just seeing what the big topics were. Sometime I like to see what is trending outside of the news media. It didn’t take long before a pattern started to emerge. One that has its roots sank deep into the fabric of society. I’m talking about revenge and getting our justice. Sometimes it is referred to as getting what is due us.

I honestly can say, I did not know the desiring for revenge was as prominent as it is. It is embedded in every part of our culture. Let me give you an idea:

ABC is into its second season of the program, Revenge. Which is about a woman who comes back to the Hamptons to seek revenge for those who put her father in prison when she was a little girl. Let’s not forget CBS’s hit show The Mentalist who works for the CBI only because it aids him in getting revenge on Red John, the man who killed his family. And those are just the openers. Hawaii Five O – Chin kills the man who killed his wife, after he had captured him; NCIS – centers around Leroy Jethro Gibbs who has a dark secret that everyone is protecting, he murdered the man who killed his family; Homeland – Everyone thinks the hero in the story is crazy because she believes a POW who has returned home is brainwashed and wants to commit a terrorist act. Well she is right. He wants revenge upon the Vice President. And the list goes on with Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad.

Don’t get me started on the morning soap operas.

Then there is our music. From Aerosmiths, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, to rapper music that tells you how to get your revenge; even Country and Western music like Burn One Done for Me by Clint Black and others talk about getting even, revenge, or you get what you deserve.

Revenge and getting our due is all around us. We have forgotten what it means to live in forgiveness. We watch the news and the Republicans are after the Democrats. Iran is trying to destroy Israel. A mother wants “justice” for what happened to their child. Revenge and due justice enslaves us in our misery.

Then there is Social media where we say what we want without any regard as to whom it effects. Yes, it is your right to voice your opinion (as I am doing now) but it still hurts. We type in out comment and press send without any regret or conscience guilt—we tell the world whom we hate.

But whatever happened to forgiveness? What happened to releasing the pain and agony of having to get our just rewards? I see people all the time that will not go to church because a family is still attending. Can you imagine, not going to church because you have a problem with someone—you’re going to hate heaven.

I think we need you practice this idea about forgiveness. To live as Christ. To forgive others as Christ forgave us. Let’s work to releasing the pain and revenge that is in our lives. Let’s live as Christ.

 
   
     
  Being exalted in humbleness  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 8 , 2012  
     
 

I must admit, opening myself up in humbleness is sometimes not that great.

If there is one thing about me, I am honest in my walk with Christ—the good and the bad. I am not one of those bloggers who throw around foul language so that they can prove they are saved by grace (Romans 6:1-2 takes care of that). However, I am one who admits my short comings and my feelings on topics. I believe you have to present yourself a living sacrifice every day, and sometimes every hour. It is a continual process as long as I am bound to this world by flesh. Did not Paul say that he also had the problem with the battle of flesh? (Romans 7:14-25)

So here I am, admitting I do not like to be humble all the time. I love to serve people, but sometimes we become someone’s shoe leather. We get taken advantage of. So then it is quite obvious as to what is holding me back from not having the attitude of Christ—self.

Right now, I want the attitude of Christ, yet by being humble through obedience opens me up to those around me and makes me vulnerable—that’s right, it makes us vulnerable.

I heard a young youth minister tell his youth group, “Ministery is taking your heart out and putting it on a platter and then handing someone a knife.” It makes you rethink ministry. Nevertheless, the vulnerability that we face by being humble through obedience is not the end of the passage. Paul finishes the hymnology with:

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him,

 
  Philippians 2:9  
     
 

God did not leave Jesus in the state of a bond-servant; instead, He lifted Him up and bestowed upon Him the greatest name. God exalted Jesus because of His humbleness through obedience. This also reminds me that we too will share in His exaltation if we are humble through obedience.

So today, things might look down. I might not be the greatest pastor or preacher, but I still must remain humble if I am to share in Christ’s exaltation. I know God will not leave His servant here, but will raise him up and exalt him on high.

 
   
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  The only game play  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 5 , 2012  
     
 

There is a standing rule in Texas: If you want people to show up for your wedding, don’t schedule it on Friday night during football season. Now that might be harsh, but Texas high school football dominates Friday nights—they don’t call it Friday Night Lights for nothing.

I mentioned in one of my blogs that I started developing a message series on forgiveness—which by the way starts this Sunday. Anyhow, as I was preparing the message the high school boys were starting two-a-days, and I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to pay attention to what is happening. To make it short, God had opened my eyes to the fact that we need to prepare our hearts to be like Christ’s if we are going to be able to forgive. Well today we come to the only play in the play book to have the Attitude of Christ—and if we get this one play wrong we will never win the battle of having the attitude of Christ.

The play is simple, but very difficult, for the play is humbleness through obedience.

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 
  Philippians 2:8  
     
 

Humbleness or humility is often associated with humiliation. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Humility is the opposite of pride, where humiliation is a fall caused by pride. I like to look at it this way: humbleness is a free act of character, where, humiliation is a costly act of pride.

Humiliation degrades where humbleness exalts, humiliation defends where humbleness surrenders, humiliation tears down where humbleness builds up. The two might sound similar, but the actions and outcome are totally opposite.

Throughout scripture we can see many humble people, as can we see many prideful people. The Bible teaches us that “Pride goes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18), and "A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor" (Proverbs 29:23), and many men who started out well ended up failing because of pride.

However, a humble man has a different outcome. He is seen as a person who: fears the Lord, is open to what the Lord has to say, exalts others, is an encourager, and enjoys seeing people succeed. This is the attitude that is found through obedience.

When we look at society and the lessons that are taught they seem to be opposite of what the Bible teaches. We are taught that humility and obedience will never get us ahead. We will always be passed over. Yet, Paul says, if you have the attitude of Christ through humbleness that is built on obedience God will exalt you. Yes, it is opposite of the world, but I would rather be humble than humiliated.

 
   
     
  Why would we not want to have the attitude of Christ?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 2 , 2012  
     
 

You know, I think about this all the time. Why would a Christian NOT want to have the attitude of Christ? Because think about it, our paths are crossed with “Christians” who look more like the world than Christ everyday. Sometimes we work with them. Sometimes we sit next to them in church. Sometimes they are in our families or they are friends. However, no matter what they say, they make a bad example of Christ—call me judgmental, but you know what I mean. And, by the way, sometimes this person who makes a bad example of Christ is me.

Well, having the attitude of Christ takes work, and I mean constant work. It takes being intent on having the attitude of Christ. Maintenance is also required because our flesh tears holes in the path of righteousness. It also takes outward expression which means showing love and compassion. I mean, you can say you love someone or you care about someone, but without expression it is just words. Love is action (John 3:15; 15:13; etc.). It also takes humility and obedience.

Another reason we do not want the attitude of Christ is because the teaching is opposite of the worlds teachings (we talked about this in the last couple of blogs). It takes having an attitude of being a servant (which we will look at in the next blog).

So we listed a lot of reasons not to want the attitude of Christ—because frankly, it is hard to maintain.

But what about the reasons why we should want it?

I think one of the best reasons we should want the attitude of Christ is because it gives us peace, and who does not want peace? It also gives you joy, and self-control, and patience, and . . . well, the list goes on [the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-22)].

However, I believe the best reason for striving to have the attitude of Christ is because it gives me unity with the Father.

Read John 17:9-12

The Bible teaches it doesn’t get any better then this. Unity with God is the best reason for wanting the attitude of Christ. If this is not our ultimate goal in having the attitude of Christ, we will never have His attitude, because that is what the attitude is all about—unity with the Father.

 
   
     
  Don’t go to the extreme  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 1 , 2012  
     
 

Read Philippians 2:3-4

We are taught to be #1—sports, employment, life in general. Then there comes along a voice in the wilderness of the internet crying out, “Don’t be #1!” [Sometimes I feel like Amos (Amos 7:12-13)]

When I studied for a message series on “Preparing Your Heart to Have the Attitude of Christ,” I knew this subject would come up, and I knew I could be labeled as holding someone back if they do not have the attitude of:

 
 
  1. Being #1,
2. Looking out for yourself,
3. And working toward ones best interest.
 
     
 

So where is the balance? Is there a balance? Or is this teaching of Paul polar opposite of the world. Well, I think there is a balance, but to have the balance we need to move away from the extremes.

Paul is teaching that having the attitude of Christ is identified as a humble obedient servant. The world, on the other hand, teaches to go all out. Go to the extremes. In these extremes we are taught to fight to get ahead, be assertive, motivated, and ambitious, and look out for number one.

So who is right? If I am not trying to advance my career by being assertive or ambitious, I could hinder my future and possibly my family.

I don’t believe Paul is telling us not try and advance our lives. Paul himself said that he was ambitious.

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

 
  2 Corinthians 5:9  
     
 

So what is he addressing? It is the one thing that we bring with us that can be positive or negative—our attitude.

We can have our dreams, goals, and ambitions without compromising our walk with Christ. We just need to keep the negative side of our dreams, goals, and ambitions in check, and we do this by having the attitude of Christ.

With a wrong attitude our ambitions can become self-serving, reckless, and even hurtful. Bad ambition is doing whatever we need to do to get whatever we want at the cost of anybody and anything in our path —that is the wrong attitude.

However, if we listen to Paul and with our actions remember others, and have a place for others as we work to achieve our goals, then our ambition can be Christ minded.

If we have the attitude of Christ in our day to day life and work we will remember others. We will lift them up with ourselves, in our actions. Paul does not say, “Don’t have goals and ambition.”just have them with the right attitude—the attitude of Christ.

 
   
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  We're back!  
  September 27, 2012  
     
 

Sorry for the few days of down time. The sight needed some upddates and a little cleaning up.

We moved some of our blogs to another page to help speed up page loading. Now there is a page 1 & 2. There will soon be more.

Email me with suggestions and comments.

See you tomorrow!

 
   
     
  What' holding us back?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - September 21, 2012  
     
 

Again, read Philippians 2:1-4. We will be focusing on verse 3 & 4 today.

Yesterday we discussed four actions Paul writes we need to practice having the attitude of Christ: Having the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose—restore. However, to do all this we have to get past one main obstacle — Self.

This is not easy. It means we have to overcome our nature—our fallen nature. Our fallen nature is always trying to accomplish what is best for me. We are by nature self-serving—and I can prove it.

Let’s say we are at church and the pastor wants to take a picture of the group. So we all line up next to the beautiful stain glass windows in back—even the people who hate their picture taken (need I say more?). Then the picture is taken and people start evaluating if it is a good picture or not. What determines if you like the picture or not? Answer: How you look in the picture. Am I right? We base the outcome on self. It is our fallen nature, and Paul said, if you want to have the attitude of Christ you must put away self. And he does this in three areas.

First, Don’t be selfish. This is a matter of the heart and “out of [the heart] are the issues of life” [Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)]. Selfishness springs from the heart and is reflected in attitude.

Second, Put people above yourself. This causes a great fear in us. The fear is that people will take advantage of us. Over the years in ministry I have learned that no one can take advantage of you if you give without wanting anything in return. It cannot be taken if it is freely given. Putting people above yourself is an attitude of the heart.

Third, Don’t be #1. I know that is hard today because of our competitive conditioning. However, going out and being the best at what you do does not require you to have the attitude of being better than someone else. Besides, what have you gained if you lose a friend because you had to be better then them? You do have to look out for yourself, but not at the expense of others. I think Paul makes the case by saying, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Fighting self is an everyday battle. It is a fight that takes a toll on us. However, putting God first and having the attitude of Christ gives us peace which has a longer and better lasting effect on our outcome.

 
   
     
  The next step  
  by Richard D. McCormack - September 20, 2012  
     
 

Before we get started read Philippians 2:1-4.

So we have decided to have the attitude of Christ. We realize it is a choice we have to make every day, and there is substance to the decision so I am not fooling myself. Now we move to the next step or actions. This is not the attitude of Chris, which we will examine in a few days, this is the exercise we must do to have and maintain the attitude of Christ. There are four positive actions and one negative in our exercise—we will look at the negative in the next blog.

The first exercise is seen in having the same mind. Without the same mind we are not unified. We, the Church, become nothing more than a social organization living under a charter or constitution. The church is the Bride and Body of Christ. Thereby to have the same mind means to be unified together for His purpose. Second, we need to maintain the same love. Our natural intent in this passage is to focus on the meaning of “agape” love. However, I think our focus should be on the first word—maintain. Love is the attribute of God that flows through His children, but it is something that must be maintained and worked on in our fallen nature. By expressing to a person, whom you cannot stand to be around, “I love you in Christ,” does not qualify as showing agape love. It takes work to love and sometimes it takes repairing relationships.

We briefly mentioned this as having the same mind and that of being unified. Being united demonstrates a common relationship with a group. Here, Paul uses the term “in the spirit.” This signifies more than just a group, but a body or church. Therefore, the unity is demonstrated in our worship and ministry. It demonstrates our corporate action. The basic fact is a church cannot worship God if they do not have a united spirit. Maybe that is why some churches feel like a graveyard?

Finally, Paul says to be “intent on one purpose.” And what do you think this purpose ought to be? Glorifying God. And how can we do this? Through restoring relationships.

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Having the attitude of Christ is a choice we make every day. Then, once we have made the choice it takes exercise and maintenance. The reason we don’t have the attitude of Christ is because we do not want to work for it. We often believe it should just be given to us as an entitlement, but Paul reminds us, as he did the church at Philippi, it takes work, which you can do. However, there is still the big issue—SELF.

 
   
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  Choosing to have the attitude of Christ
 
  by Richard D. McCormack - September 19, 2012  
     
 

We all, I believe, want the peace of forgiveness. To be forgiven or to forgive. However, we have tried to forgive or seek forgiveness and it has never worked or lasted. This might seem a bit crazy to some but think about this:

1. Are you at this moment ready to forgive the person who hurt you most?

2. Are you at this moment ready to ask for forgiveness from the person you hurt most?

Didn't think so? Why? Well that is because we do not have Christ's attitude.

forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. ( Ephesians 4:32)

So what if we had the attitude of Christ that Paul talked about in Philippians 2. I think we would be able to forgive. There again, we don't just wake up in the morning with this attitude—it takes effort, work, practice. But the first thing you have to do is chose to have the attitude of Christ. However, we all can say we want to have the attitude of Christ, but often times we deceive ourselves without any true desire to have the attitude of Christ. I belive Paul makes a compelling argument as to knowing whether or not a Christian is serious as to wanting the attitude of Christ, and he explains this in four areas in Philippians 2:1, and he starts the passage with the single word, "IF".

First, we have to want to encourage others in Christ. This is more than just a pat on the back it is lifting a person up above yourself (v. 9). Second, there is the consolation of love. This means you have a heart felt desire to console and show comfort. To go out of your way. However, this will leave you vulnerable. Third, there must be the desire for fellowship that can only be of the Spirit. It means to be intimate, to know a person as yourself. I call this having more than a "parking lot" relationship. Then finally, there are affection and compassion. Oh, how the church needs these. Someone to show affection to the hurting and destitute and to offer compassion as a lifestyle instead of as a judgment.

This all might sound great, and we probably say we do this, but having the attitude of Christ means you chose to do this all the time. Having His attitude is not a pick and choose when and whom we want. It is choosing daily to have His attitude

 
   
     
  Before we begin  
  by Richard D. McCormack - September 18, 2012  
     
 

In a few weeks the church where I am pastoring will move into a series called Forgive.

There is nothing new that I will tell the church. No new mystery to be unveiled. All the Bible passages I have chosen---they have heard them all before. So what is going to make a difference? Why does the church, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit believe that this is possibly the most revolutionary message series that has ever been preached at the church?

The answer has to be on where God has directed us before this series was even discussed. Let me explain.

January we started a new series on the Names of God. Thirteen weeks on how God reveals himself through His name. This was an eye opening experience for the church and myself. God wants to be known, and He desires all to know Him.

Next, after Easter, we looked at Six People Jesus Met. This series looked at how Jesus changed a person completely. After that I did a couple of stand alone messages like Mothers Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, etc. before I went on vacation. I was planning on starting back with a study of Ephesians; however, while on vacation God kept placing before me the concept about the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, every time I had my devotion the Kingdom of God was in it. People I met while on vacation made references to the Kingdom of God. Sermons on the radio and even my prayer time was focusing on the Kingdom—however, I was prepared for Ephesians.

So I did what any good pastor would do—prepare your sermon and if God stepped in then He can give the words—which He did. We went through a six week study on the Kingdom of Heaven and how we are living in it today. At that same time God was moving me towards a series on forgiveness. I was thinking there wasn't anything new about this series. I had preached on most of the passages and subject before.

At this same time two-a-days football started at the high school. I photograph the players in action and then put the pictures on the web to be downloaded. However, while I was there for the first practice I sensed the Holy Spirit say "Watch this."

"Watch what?" I thought. But nothing.

This went on for two weeks until the first scrimmage. Then the feeling was different, "This is why."

It took me a couple of days in prayer to understand what I believe the Holy Spirit was impressing on me. To be a player you have to do the drills and practice before you can play the game. And before you can practice you have to decide to play. All this was becoming clear to me. The reason we do not forgive is because we do not have the attitude of Christ. And the reason we do not have the attitude of Christ is because we will not chose to have the attitude and practice to have it the way Paul tells us to.

This was an eye-opener for me and the church. So as we move to the series of Forgive, we are first taking the steps to have the attitude of Christ so that we canforgive.

 
   
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