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03.01.2015

posted Feb 27, 2015, 2:36 PM by Lakeview Office

Acts 9:31 - So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and it increased in numbers.

This verse is important to believers today because it teaches that the Holy Spirit is acting in His primary role, as the church carries out its mission.  The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to be our helper.  A form of that word is translated “encouragement” in Acts 9:31.  Four times in John, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Counselor (HCSB).  When we transliterate the Greek word, the term in English is paraclete.  The basic meaning is someone called to one’s aid.  It is made from two words,  παράκλητος (paráklētos) - pará, "from close-beside" and kaléō, "make a call".  Properly, a paraclete is a legal advocate who makes the right judgment call because he is close enough to the situation.  This gives us the basic role of the Holy Spirit.  A helper who is crucial because He is close enough to help at need.  He is close because He is in us.  He knows what is going on.  He knows what is best. 

 

The four passages in John teach us what the Spirit means to our lives.  It is loyal companionship, dependable guidance, reliable prompting and a valuable advantage.  The disciples had all this when Jesus was physically with them.  Disciples today have this in the movement of the Spirit.  As the church began to grow, the give and take of daily life began to press on Christians, who share in the mission of the church.  More than mere mortal strength is needed.  The encouragement of the Spirit is essential. 

 

The encouragement of the Spirit strengthens and fills the follower of Christ.  Good counsel, comfort and perspective comes during times of peace.  The paraclete prepares us for the next battle.  The Christian knows that whatever place they find themselves, whether the marketplace, the outlets of culture, defending our country or teaching the next generation, we will be battling the spirit of our time and we must be ready to match power with power.  Always remember, “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.”

-Dennis

 

02.22.2015

posted Feb 20, 2015, 11:55 AM by Lakeview Office

It must have been joyful and gratifying to be one of “The Twelve.”  They knew there was something very different about Him, He was from God and being around Him made them feel valued.  For three years they walked in the dust of their Rabbi, following Him and learning from Him.  Then one day, he drops an emotional bomb on them.  He is going to leave, it won’t be a pretty departure and it will be at the hands of the Jews.  They were perplexed.  He was going to be killed, but not because He was a murderer or a thief, but because He loved the Light; because He did good on days committed to God; because He taught that the Law was about so much more.

In their confusion, Jesus speaks clarity and truth.  He tells them He is going away.  He has to go away; but even though “sorrow will fill their hearts,” it is for their benefit.  He said if He did not leave, the Counselor would not come (John 16:5-11).  The Counselor would fill many roles.  He, the Holy Spirit (or Counselor) would be active in the world convicting men and women of their sin.  He would also be in us.  Jesus would not leave His disciples (or us) as orphans (John 14:15-18).

As the church of Christ, we have to embrace these truths.  The key to our mission and success is the power of the Spirit.  Jesus is with us when the Spirit is in us.  That is very comforting, knowing that I never walk alone.  Even at those times when I feel alone, I am in fact not alone.  When I feel inadequate for the tasks ahead, I have to know that I am not inadequate.  I am strong and able. 

Being a follower of Jesus and student of Scripture means I am a disciple of the Holy Spirit.  If you listen and look, you can hear the echoes of the footsteps of Jesus along the road and you can see the face of the man who knows love.  When we are disciples of the Spirit, transformation begins to take place and we become people who look like Jesus.  This is joyful and gratifying, with a sense of purpose and mission.  With this we too, can turn the world upside down.

-Dennis

 

02.15.2015

posted Feb 13, 2015, 3:00 PM by Lakeview Office

I wanted to let all of you know about a special program we are going to have in May.  On Wednesday May 6, 2015, we’re hosting a Praise & Harmony Workshop with Keith Lancaster.  Our purpose for this workshop is to help us bring about renewal in worship. 

The workshop has two parts.  This first part we will start in March on Wednesday nights.  Our class in the auditorium will cover the topic, Worship Is A Verb.  It is intended to develop and enrich both our congregational and personal worship practices.  Included in the class will be a section dedicated to learning new songs that will be used by Keith Lancaster during the Praise & Harmony Workshop.  During the two-hour workshop (6:30 - 8:30 pm) Keith will teach principles of worship and harmony.  The workshop will have four goals:

· Encourage 100% active participation in worship.

A cappella congregational singing is ideal for reversing the contemporary trend of viewing the worship assembly as a spectator activity. Everyone’s heart, voice and contribution is vital.

· Teach everyone (especially beginners) how to sing harmony.

Learning “by ear” through repetition is emphasized through the use of personal training CDs, and by sitting in sections during classes.

· Provide an easy and fun way to learn new songs.

Assigned songs are learned before (in preparation for) the workshop through the church starting singing classes and through everyone’s daily usage of the ear-training disks. The special disks isolate the harmony parts on the left and right sides of the stereo spectrum, making it easy to hear the parts. Sitting in sections during the song-learning classes reinforces the learning process.

· Equip believers in worship renewal.

Our goal is to help every congregation realize their tremendous potential. Even churches with good singing have the opportunity to take their singing and worship to an extraordinary level of excellence. We are encouraged when church leaders recognize the importance of worship and singing enough to invest in necessary training. The first three steps are only the beginning of the worship renewal process, mobilizing the entire church in participation. The most important worship renewal principles are easier to teach and grasp once people are actively engaged. When hearts are open, we have witnessed transformation in the congregations who have chosen to make this a priority.

 We will have learning CDs available in a few weeks so you can begin learning the new songs.  I will be in contact will all our song leaders and involve you with facilitating the Wednesday night class.  This class should include all Lakeview members as we all have a role in the corporate worship of our God.  -Dennis

 

02.08.2015

posted Feb 6, 2015, 12:56 PM by Lakeview Office

The Holy Spirit is a very misunderstood part of God’s plan for people.  What God wants to accomplish through the Holy Spirit isn’t always what we want.  We want either more or less.  One way that people today make “more” of the Holy Spirit is the emphasis on speaking in tongues.  The following presents research by John Kildahl, a clinical psychologist who devoted ten years to the study of modern tongue-speaking, also known as glossolalia.  He deals with the nature of present day tongue-speaking, and the so-called interpretation of the tongue speakers. 

 

Kildahl concluded from his study of hundreds of examples of tongue speakers that it is not a human language that is spoken in modern tongues-speaking.  This finding is a contrast to the phenomenon that is presented in Acts 2, which does tell us that the disciples were speaking in actual human languages.  Kildahl also tested charismatic “interpreters” who claimed to be able to understand tongue speakers.  He found that their “interpretations” were not consistent with those from other “interpreters” of the very same discourses.  Surprisingly, this did not bother the tongue speakers that he studied.  They were comfortable with the obvious inconsistencies in what they practiced, which they attributed to the Spirit. 

 

His study revealed that what actually happens in modern tongue-speaking is a type of emotional regression.  The person(s) involved seem to go to a level of maturity during which the rational, common-sense, ego-controlled way of relating to life is somehow diminished.  The participant is more child-like, less critical, and generally more free-floating in its nature.  The glossolalia experience was generally introduced under the mass pressure of a group or a crowd that is emotionally charged by the leader’s charisma.  This atmosphere reduces the participants otherwise critical faculties. 

Other researchers pointed out that the very same experience of “non-sensible imitation of language” (glossolalia) occurs in other world religions and mystic-oriented cults.  It does not take divine power to practice glossolalia.

 The “more” of glossolalia feeds a need in self-indulgent and self-expressive individuals, to have an experience that stirs the emotion.  When you read 1 Corinthians 12-14, you get the sense that Paul is dealing with the excessive use of tongues and other spiritual gifts.  He is not giving instructions on how to use tongues, but how to stop misusing them and making them a badge of spirituality.  As we seek the genuine work of the Spirit in the life of the believer, it is important to highlight the things which seem appealing, but are actually a distortion of how the Spirit works.  Glossolalia, in many denomination groups today is not a genuine gift of the Spirit, but an imitation that gives people “more” of the Spirit than God intends.

-Dennis

 

02.01.2015

posted Jan 30, 2015, 1:21 PM by Lakeview Office

Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

 

As Jesus was having this discussion with Nicodemus, it becomes clear that Nicodemus is struggling with the concept of being born of again.  It is a difficult concept, because it is something we don’t control.  It is not our plan and we can’t measure it by human standards.  Now I realize some of us think we can.  We are not comfortable with God being the lead partner and deceive ourselves and others that we are somebody and should be considered an authority.  However, the proof is seen in details.  If we say we are spiritual and allow anger and pride to be primary emotions, we are wrong.   Perfect attendance is admirable, but what about doing mundane tasks like reaching out to visitors and preparing to give an answer to those who ask about our hope.  Nicodemus was not picking up what Jesus was putting down.

 

Brother Lawrence was a monk known for his devotion and ability to bring God into every aspect of his life. His classic Christian work, Practice of the Presence of God, details how to gain that constant and comforting connection to God. He rejoiced in everyday tasks, prayed constantly, and was known around the monastery for his kindness and willingness to help others. He was not skilled or educated, so his tasks in the monastery were repairing shoes for other monks and working in the kitchen.  Not celebrated tasks, but he did them well.  He knew the secret.

 

Being born again by the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, and as surprising as God Himself. We don’t know where it begins— it is hidden away in the depths of our soul. Being born again from above is an enduring, perpetual, and eternal beginning. It provides a freshness all the time in thinking, talking, and living— a continual surprise of the life of God. Staleness is an indication that something in our lives is out of step with God.  Do we feel fresh this very moment or are we stale, frantically searching our minds for something important to do? Freshness is not the result of obedience; it comes from the Holy Spirit. Obedience keeps us “in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7).

Being born of the Spirit means much more than we usually think. It gives us new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything that is involved in the life of God.

 

 

 

 

 

-Dennis Baker

 

01.25.2015

posted Jan 23, 2015, 1:43 PM by Lakeview Office

The status of the people of Israel during their last days in Egypt was dreadful and oppressive.  Often times we forget how difficult things are and how comfortable misery can be.  Stephen, in Acts 7:11-19, gives us insight into their situation.  He tells us the King of Egypt exploited the people, was cruel to them and forced them to kill their babies.  God’s action in the Exodus was a response to the cries of the people.  God heard their cries and was already working a plan.

Some have questioned the actions of the mid-wives, saying they disobeyed the law and asked if they should have complied or done things differently.  They were dishonest and deceptive in dealing with the King of Egypt. As you read the story, you get the impression that the narrator was supportive of their actions.  It seems that God was supportive of their actions.  The truth was, they had to deal shrewdly to live in obedience to God.  The concept of government is a necessity for any people.  When government is evil, we are still to live in obedience to God.  That means we may have to break man’s law, as we live in obedience to God’s Law.  This is what motivated the mid-wives.  They lived in reverential fear of God.  They believed that God would be honored by the faithfulness of His people, no matter their role in society. 

Moses’ parents were of the same conviction.  They believed if they did the right thing, God would somehow act.  This should be the conviction of anyone who follows Christ; that we will do the right thing even if it goes against what other people expect.  When we act, that action gives God a place to work.  Moses’ parents were just being faithful when they hid the child.  God used that situation to raise up a leader.  There was no one more qualified to lead the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage than the son of faithful Hebrews, who is also the son of Pharaoh.  God would use this man to carry out a mighty act of redemption…an act that would direct the course of history.

-Dennis

 

01.11.2015

posted Jan 9, 2015, 1:47 PM by Lakeview Office

A highlight from the life of Abraham is the time when, “Abraham built an altar…; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar…” (Genesis 22:9).  We are impressed by Abraham’s actions and wonder if we could sacrifice one of our loved ones; one of our own children.  When we ask that question, we are getting at the heart of the episode.  Oswald Chambers asks, do we think that God is telling us that He wants from us the sacrifice of death?  He states that we make a mistake if we miss the fact that God is actually asking if we would make, not the sacrifice of our death, but of our life.  Paul calls it a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).  It can be a hard ethic to live out.  Even Peter missed it when he told Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).  Peter was willing to die for Jesus, but was he willing to live?  Oswald states we have to be “willing to be identified with Christ’s death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.”

 

We seem to think that God wants us to give up things! God purified Abraham from this error, and the same process is at work in our lives. God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, namely, life with Himself. It is a matter of loosening the bands that hold back our lives. Those bands are loosened immediately by identification with the death of Jesus. Then we enter into a relationship with God whereby we may sacrifice our lives to Him.

It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a “living sacrifice”— to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus (Romans 12:1). This is what is acceptable to God.

 

-Dennis Baker

 

12.28.2014

posted Dec 26, 2014, 11:20 AM by Lakeview Office

The title of last week’s Sunday morning service was Increasing Your Longing for God. It sought to direct us to hunger for, and long for the things of God. One aspect that we didn’t have time to talk about was longing for our heavenly home, and the importance of God’s presence that makes all of life different.  Everything is deeper and more significant when we know God; when we know where we are going.  I thought about this song by Rich Mullins. You may have this song on a cassette somewhere.  Look for it on You Tube. Listen through it a few times. It is called, “If I Stand.”

 

There's more that rises in the morning than the sun, and more that shines in the night than just the moon. It's more than just this fire here that keeps me warm. In a shelter that is larger than this room. And there's a loyalty that's deeper than mere sentiments; and a music higher than the songs that I can sing.  The stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things

 

CHORUS:

So if I stand let me stand on the promise

that you will pull me through

And if I can't, let me fall on the grace

that first brought me to You.

And if I sing let me sing for the joy

that has born in me these songs

And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

 

There's more that dances on the prairies than the wind. More that pulses in the ocean than the tide. There's a love that is fiercer than the love between friends; more gentle than a mother's when her baby's at her side. And there's a loyalty that's deeper than mere sentiments, and a music higher than the songs that I can sing. The stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things.

 

CHORUS:

So if I stand let me stand on the promise

that you will pull me through

And if I can't, let me fall on the grace

that first brought me to You.

And if I sing let me sing for the joy

that has born in me these songs

And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

 

And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

 

When you long for God, it is going to show in every part of your life. Nothing is compartmentalized but everything has meaning because you come to know that God has made everything. His love not only transforms you, but it changes how you see things.  “all things were created by Him and for Him…In Him all things hold together.”  -Dennis

 

12.21.2014

posted Dec 19, 2014, 2:17 PM by Lakeview Office

I have a friend that is a wheat farmer in Oklahoma.  He is a hard worker and he is clever.  He has also taught me much about faith.  Jimmy believed in God.  As a wheat farmer in Oklahoma, he had to believe.  His existence was a matter of faith.  His mode of farming was dry farming.  That means he did not irrigate his crops.  What he did do is plow the land, plant the seed, and fertilize the plants.  The watering he left up to Mother Nature and Father God.  He trusted that he would get enough rain at the right time to grow a good crop.  He also trusted that he would get enough sun so that the wheat would not have too much moisture at the time of harvest.  After the seed was planted and the plants fertilized, all he could do is watch.  He trusted that the increase would come and he would reap a hundred fold during the harvest.  While the wheat was growing, Jimmy made sure the combine was ready.  He pulled maintenance on the wheat truck and swept out the storage bins.  He got ready for the harvest that he hoped would come.  All his energy was directed to that goal.  It seems to me a fitting analogy for faith in God.  It is also a fitting analogy for life. 

 

We all have a beginning, a cycle of life and an end.  We need fertilizer, water, sun, and time.  It is easy enough to observe the how of life, what humans struggle with is the why.  There are three basic answers to the question of why: One, life is a random product of cosmic energy; Two, aliens from another planet brought DNA seed to a planet that could support life; Three, we were created by a loving God who wants us to experience beauty and fulfillment.

 

The story of Jesus fits option #3.  The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus paint a picture of value and meaning for humans.  The story of Christ provides a perfect explanation and solution for the problems we face.  The other two options are like growing crops without water.  You can’t grow life without the love of God, the knowledge of God, and the Spirit of God.  When we fully grasp the Christ story, we will be like Simeon in Luke 2:25-32.  He took the Christ child in his arms and praised God Saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”  Do your eyes see this?  Do you see the truth of God in the Christ child?  Let this story define every part of your life, and you will know the meaning of the phrase, “Peace on earth to people He favors.”

 

-Dennis

 

12.14.2014

posted Dec 12, 2014, 12:59 PM by Lakeview Office

This week’s CrossTalk is the second part of Ann Brazile’s article on Death and the Christian.  Last week focused on the fact that death touches us all.  This second part focuses on faith and dying.

At this point we have to bring faith into the thought processes.  And this is the answer to the question of how a Christian deals with death: FAITH.  The New Testament gives us insight into this.  Paul tells us, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Despite his desire to “depart and be with Christ”, he would remain “for your sake.”  Yes, it is human to want to stay and watch your children and grandchildren grow up and to be a part of their lives.  The Apostle John painted for us the most beautiful description of Heaven in the last chapters of Revelation (who wouldn’t want to experience that?!?)  He ends his writing with these two sentences; “Yes I am coming quickly.  Amen.  Come Lord Jesus.”  He conveys a strong desire for Jesus to return.  John was ready for death because of his faith in the Lord’s promises.  Our Lord Himself faced a certain awful death His whole life.  Philippians tells us that “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”.  He knew the kind of death He would endure but accepted it saying “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but thine be done.”  He too, knew human fear, but didn’t let it take control of His life.

Hebrews 2:9-18 gives us the real clue in what takes away the Christian’s fear of death.  We don’t have to fear death because Jesus “destroyed him who holds the power of death…and freed those who were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  We experience total freedom when we die.  The author of Hebrews in Chapter 11:13-16 tells us that the founders of our faith “desired a better country, which is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared a city for them.”  And for us, too – the one that John described so beautifully.

How strong is your faith?  Hebrews 11:1, 6 states “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him.”  If the fear of death overwhelms your faith, then at death your whole life of service to the Lord – no matter how short or long it may be – will have been for nothing.

And, after all, death is a win/win situation for the Christian.  For if you live, great!  If you die, even better!!  You do not have to be fearful of death.  All will be well.  The Lord has control of our life and our death!!

 

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