Thursday, November 27, 2014

Responding to the new attacks on Scripture

If you have an hour this video will be important to your faith and understanding of God's word.  The simple truth of the Bible is vital to a strong Christian faith. I'm grateful for men like Dr. David Farnell.  May his tribe increase!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful


.....Life!  I'm thankful I get to be part of God's wonderful creation!

.....family.  It is so great to have family!  I'm thankful for a wonderful family.

.....love!  I am so grateful to know and experience love.  The love of a wonderful wife.  The love of God for me even when I'm less than I should be.  The love I can give to others.  It's the very heart and passion of God....love.

.....purpose.  That  sounds strange, doesn't it?  But I'm thankful I am here for a reason, I have a purpose.  I'm not just an animal without a purpose....I'm made by God to be part of his great plan for time and eternity!

......friends.  Oh how wonderful that is!  I celebrate the wonderful and amazing friends I know, love and care for.  How sweet it is to have people who I can call friends.

.....hunger.  I'm thankful for hunger of body and soul.  The pangs of the stomach, the longing to know are hungers that make life exciting.  I'm thankful that something as simple as hunger is a wonderful blessing of God.

.....and on the list goes.  There is so much.  As I begin to think about all I have been given I have to humbly say to God, "Thank you.  You are most kind to bless me so richly.  I deserve none of it! Thank you."


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Jesus is done....

Even our scars look good when Jesus is finished with us.


Reconciliation

This morning a friend and I were visiting about reconciliation and God's work in our lives.  It made me ask...who have I wounded and not reconciled with?  And so I offer this note for your response.  If it's something that applies to you in your relationship with me would you offer me the opportunity to pursue reconciliation in our relationship?

I’m thinking through the people I’ve known and cared about for many years and fear that I have left something undone with you.  Are you and I “ok”?  My goal is reconciliation,  the healing of any wounds I may have caused.  Is there something between us that I can address, deal with or repair?  Have I offended you in some way and left you wounded?  Please do let me know.  And thank you for the grace you give me to be broken and still on the journey to become like Christ.

Monday, November 24, 2014

So many worries, so little time!

There is so much to worry about how will I ever get it all done?

As I watch the news, read the paper and interact with those around me my list of things to worry about grows beyond the time I have to worry about them all! 

That worries me.

We have hundreds of cute little mottos and slogans to deal with worry, but they really don't resolve the subtle fear that drives worry in each of us.  First it's bad news, then fears arise and worry follows.  The seed of a bad word, a troubling event, impending war give fear all it needs to conceive almost anything...and it does! And then we really have something to worry about!

But what I have found, just as you have, is that the worries birthed from our fears rarely ever change our lives for the better.  

To be honest I am hesitant to address this topic again, I worry I have visited it too often (smiling as I write that), but I see a world rapidly offering our fears much more to work with.  And yet our fears really need very little to grow into worries of all kinds.  

The fear of what might be creates worries that even the best fiction writer can't duplicate.  This morning, after reading the paper and visiting news sites, I feel those fears working....cultivating a crop of worry that will produce fruit and keep me busy all day, but I know better.  I know I can't let that crop grow.  Worry never produces fruit that gives life, but only something that feeds death and so I run back to God for his word on the fears that grow into worries and I read what Jesus told his disciples and us.

Jesus said it, but it's woven all through scripture...every time an angel shows up, every time God has to calm a prophet, every time we think our world is out of our control....and it always is out of our control by the way...we fear, worry and panic....and to those emotions Jesus says this,

"...do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  
The question I have to answer is a very simple one- Is there a God in charge or not?  If the answer is "yes" then fears can be dealt with, worries can be calmed.  But if the answer is "no", there is no God in charge, then worry away!  All is lost, we are doomed!
 I'm so thankful that I know and believe in a God who is king of everything, fully in charge...even when it seems all is falling apart around me.  I often run to a verse that has comforted me many times. It's a brief verse in Psalms where David writes these words,

The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever! Ps. 29:10





Saturday, November 22, 2014

Uncertain

As a pastor I face life changes every day.  Illness, death, financial problems, family issues....the list goes on, doesn't it?  One thing you know about life is that it is uncertain.  In a moment everything can change and our lives are never the same again.

Yesterday I got a note from a friend.  My wife and I love her dearly.  She told me her worst fears have proven true and she will see the doctor next week to find out more.  In a moment her life is changed.  We are praying for her.

But one thing is true for all of us...life is uncertain.  We never know what will come tomorrow, will it be success or disaster?  A sunny day or a tornado?  Health or imminent death?  Every moment we face one thing that is certain- life is uncertain, unsure and shaky at best. 

But our lives, our moments are in the hands of a loving father who offers us a life that is certain, that will not be shaken.  Although we all know this life will not last, our wealth will not last, our health will not last, there is one thing that will.  The author of Hebrews says it this way,

"Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe."

In the midst of uncertainty I look forward to an unshakable kingdom, a world where God rules, where fear, failure and death will never again be remembered.  


In the midst of uncertain days, uncertain moments I look forward to that unshakable kingdom.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Caught "red handed"

This perfectly describes our common dilemma when God 

shows up. We are all caught "red handed." And, you have to 

laugh at these sweet boys as they declare their innocence.

 It looks so much like us as we try to tell God we 

didn't do anything, it wasn't our fault.




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stumbling to glory


I fear, at times, I'm much too honest about my own walk and struggle.  In just a few weeks I will come to a day that will mark 50 years of faith for me, but I still feel like a small child stumbling over nothing, falling down and trying again.  The path to become like Christ is much longer for me than I had hoped.  I thought I would be there by now, but it seems I've only just begun.


Often, I will read catchy little phrases in Christian writing that annoy me to distraction.  Here's one-  "Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones."  As if!  I'm still on the ground with a bloody nose and scrapped knees and you're trying to tell me how to take those stumbling places and grow? Come on!  Catchy little slogans do nothing to help me grow, to help me walk.  I need Christ and I need him constantly!

And, to be honest, it doesn't take a stone to make me stumble.  I'm pretty good at stumbling over sand, over a crack in the sidewalk.  It's never a big thing or I would avoid it.  It's always the little things that cause my fall, my failing.....and then I grieve, beat myself up and tell God I'm sorry, I won't do it again (but I will)....and that I should be past all of this by now, but I'm not.

And, then, like a child, embarrassed by my failings, but suffering in my pains, I run back to God and am welcomed by his grace, his love and forgiveness.  I'm always embarrassed to face him, to come to him and tell him "I did it again!  I'm so sorry!!"  And he forgives, he bandages my wounds and he offers to walk with me even as I stumble along.

There is a passage of invitation in Matthew that has helped every believer I know as they have stumbled to glory and it's this one, paraphrased for my purposes, but you will recognize it,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens...stumbling and falling as you try to follow me, and I will give you rest, I will bandage your wounds, wipe your tears. Let me live my life through you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  You need to know that as you let me live through you, you will see this life is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I'm honestly thankful that he already knows my weakness, my frustrations and he's waiting for me to come to him, once again, to begin anew with him at my side.
Truthfully, I must tell you, that as hard as I try I find that this walk of faith is impossible.....without him.  
Each time we walk away from him and tell him, "Ok, I can do this now, I've got it!"  It's at that moment that we begin to fall again.  The Christian life is impossible without Christ,  he is (if you don't mind the visual picture) my guide for blind eyes, my crutch for broken legs, my life when all I bring to any situation is death.  Without him I can't do it, and even with him I find I still stumble at times....but that's ok, he's knows me and he loves me anyway.

So Your Life Didn’t Turn Out the Way You’d Hoped

So, your life didn't turn out the way you hoped, did it?  Your great plans and dreams failed?  Now you wonder what life is all about, don't you?  What do I do now?  You might be surprised to know we all go through this.  We all find our lives different than we hoped.  Now what?  

I read this article in "Relevant" yesterday and loved the words, the thoughts, the insights.  It's an article you need to read.  Here's the link,



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chance encounter or life changing event?

Forty one years ago today was a Sunday.  I remember it clearly.  Life changing events do that.  Somehow we remember every detail from events that changed everything decades ago, but forget what we had for breakfast this morning.

Forty one years ago for me found me as the minister of evangelism as a growing church in Arkansas.  A college friend of mine had asked me to come and help him with the church and I was glad to take a break before going to seminary.  So here I was, at the end of a worship service on a Sunday morning forty one years ago.

David had just finished his sermon and given an invitation for those who wanted to trust Christ.  My "job" (it was more fun than anything else) was to meet and pray with those who wanted to become believers and followers of Christ.

On that Sunday morning forty one years ago today a beautiful young lady came down the aisle to make a decision for Christ.  I remember her pretty face, her long dark hair.  But I was there to help her with her decision.  We talked, prayed together and then, as we closed the service, we all held hands and sang a closing chorus together.  It was a weekly tradition.  I remember that petite little hand.  It seemed so small.

But we never know whether a meeting is just an encounter that passes and we move on, forgetting the person and the conversation or if it's a life changing event we will never forget.

I have held that hand now for forty one years and it feels just as wonderful as it did that first day.  She tells friends today that she met Jesus and me on the same day, but she never gets us confused. Everyone laughs. (It is easy to tell us apart because I'm much taller than Jesus.) 

There is no way to know how God orchestrates the events of our lives and takes chance encounters that become life altering events.  This was a meeting like that for me.  A day that looms big for two lives because God was in it and we didn't know it.

Less than three months later I waited for that sweet lady at the front of the church once more, but this time to be her husband.  Forty one years later I will tell you I am the luckiest man in the world and am thankful for God's love for two young people whom he prepared to share life together.

Chance encounter or life changing event?  

We never know, do we?  

What will happen from each meeting, each encounter with someone new.  Will we quickly forget them or will our lives be changed by the encounter?  Don't ever treat any meeting lightly....you never know what God is up to.

For me, looking back on these events, I am most thankful for God's love for me that would bring such a wonderful friend and partner into my life on this day.....forty one years ago.  I love you, Joye.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Second fiddle


Last night we had the great joy of attending a concert at our church.

The concert was performed by four amazing musicians.  It was a glorious two hours.

One of the artists was Phil Keaggy, the world renown guitarist.

As I listened and watched I realized that all of them, all four of them were world class musicians.  A flutist, a violist, a pianist and singer, and Phil.  All of them could have been the featured artist in any concert and so I watched the three who supported Phil.  Each serving, supporting, a part of a team of artists making the music wonderful, but something was happening that most did not see....there was a humbling of personal pride to achieve the glory of another.  

Each of these artists had to humble themselves and take the role of "second fiddle" to make all of this work.  It was a collaboration of each to put pride aside.  They all did it well, but it demanded humility among them all for it to work.

This is our situation in the Kingdom of God.  We are part of an orchestra whose sole purpose is support for the featured artist, Jesus Christ.  Our role is to humble ourselves, play our instruments, use our gifts in such a way that the featured artist is applauded and all praise goes to him.

It demands a humbling of pride, a setting aside of our desire to be acknowledged, to be applauded and a deference to the star of the show, Jesus, the KING.  

As I watched the artists in the shadows last night I thought how wonderful it was that beautiful music was happening as they each humbled themselves and their gifts for the glory of another.  It was fascinating for me to watch and imagine their hearts as they used their own great gifts for the glory and applause of someone else.

What a lesson!  As part of a grand orchestra of saints from all history I get to play "second fiddle" so the star of the show looks wonderful and is applauded by all.  I am doing my very best when I am not noticed at all. And, as he is applauded I find joy because the whole show is about him!  


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Danger! Danger!

As I watch and read the news of the world there is one word that describes what I see all around me- danger!  And the result, the response of men and women is fear.  It's a scary world!  I don't think anyone would disagree with that.  There is no longer a safe place to be.  If it’s not war then weather.  If it’s not terror then trouble.  If it’s not drought then disaster.  If it’s not disease then dread of what might be.  

All around us the world screams "Danger! Danger!"  But as I thought about it I wondered if this is the application for the follower of Jesus Christ.  Are we really ever in danger?  Are we ever in a place, a time when dangers around us should cause us to fear?  And so, I looked up the definition for danger.  That's always a great place to start.  Here it is,

Danger- liability or exposure to harm or injury; risk; peril

And suddenly I realize that I am NEVER in danger!  I am a child of the God who made everything!  I am a son of the sovereign of the universe.  I am never in a place where the world's definition of danger affects me because I'm a son of God.

If I do suffer martyrdom for my faith it was part of God's great plan for my life and in a moment I step into eternity.  Danger is for those who fear death, but when fear of death is gone so is danger.

If I suffer financial loss and find myself homeless I am never in danger because my father will care for me.  Peril in the world may be part of God's great plan for me as I live for him.  If it's from his hand there is no danger in it.

And suddenly, as I unfold all the fears I have about life in this world, the dangers and terrible results that might come with them disappear.  When the sovereign is in charge I'm never in danger!

David, the one man who knew "fear" and "danger" better than anyone wrote these words.  Each time I read them they dispel all fear, all threats of danger in the scary world we live in,

"God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam.
    Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" Ps. 46


Danger?  Never!  Everything ahead is an opportunity to see God work or an opportunity to see God in person.  When God is in charge "Let the mountains tremble".....I'm ready for anything because my Father loves me and he’s the sovereign of the Universe!