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Showing posts from 2008

How Hard We Try

I've been reminded this week of how hard we try to please others, outdo others, and impress others. I've both seen and participated in a frenzy of activity intended to accomplish one or more of the above.
Of course, the only important thing is pleasing God. That means spending quality time with Him daily, and giving Him the "first-fruits" of our time, talents, and possessions. It seems that Christmas is especially a time when we fall prey to the temptation to get involved in the flurry of the season and ignore the Reason for the season. We try to cram so much into the time we have off work and out of school that it is very easy to push Christ aside. We get out of our routine, and even our personal time with God is often forgotten or pushed into some niche at the end of a hectic day. Quite often, it is our loved ones that contribute to our lack of continuity in our devotional life. They make plans without thought to your primary commitments. They, perhaps unwit…

Twas the Day Before Christmas

After a 12 hour drive from Sebring, FL to Birmingham, AL, we arrived at our daughter's @ 7:30 p.m. last night.  We slept (kinda) on the blow up bed we brought, on the living room floor.  During the night we were visited at various times by one or both of the family cats.  Also the temp dropped enough that at various times Rae and I both searched the room for additional covers.  I'm not sure how much I slept, but it was not enough.  Today (the day before Christmas) has been filled with walks, football, baseball, table games,etc. with the grandkids.  We've just returned from lunch at Krystal (it's a southern thing). Rae, Carissa & I split a bag full of Krystals, while the kids polished off some chicken bits & fries.  Now, hopefully, everyone will catch a nap (except the son in law, who is installing a new dishwasher.)  I've offered my services, but, as of yet they aren't needed.  It's just as well cause I'm sleepy.
Hopefully the Christmas Eve servi…

I Hate to Pack

Today will be packing day. We are leaving for about 2 1/2 weeks to visit with family during the holidays. Because of the difference in climate, we have to take many more, and much heavier clothes than we wear here in Florida. Besides that, my wife, the ultimate Christmas gift giver, already has the van full of Christmas gifts. I'm not sure where we will put the suitcases, coats, etc. I always either pack too much, or forget something really vital. Even if I start days ahead, as I did this time, I usually wind up cramming some things in at the last minute "just in case". I don't expect this time to be any different. However, I do have a plan. Several pairs of jeans, some long sleeved pullovers, a nested Columbia jacket (2 in 1) gloves, a stocking cap, 1 pair of dress pants, a regular long-sleeved shirt for Sunday, walking shoes, 1 pair of regular shoes, undies & tee shirts, and my shaving kit. That oughta just about cover it. However, I still expect to…

The Power of "For"

Today I inadvertantly answered one of those phone calls that I normally would let the answer machine pick up. Upon realizing that I had answered a computer-generated call, I listened for a moment and then hung up. The caller was representing a national "ministry" that seems to be constantly against something or other. Now, I agree with their right to be against evil, and even applaud it. But I wonder what the effect would be if the same amount of money, man-power, and effort were put into spreading the Good News of Jesus to our world. Somehow I think that being "for" something is so much more powerful than being "against" something. Granted, Jesus came out four square against the Pharisees and Sadducees in His day, but His main focus, and the mandate that He left us was to "go and make disciples of all nations..."
Wouldn't it be great to get a call one day that says, "Hi. I'm calling to tell you about the greatest news that wo…

Christmas Musings

This past weekend we really got into the spirit of the season. First we attended the Christmas Extraviganza at First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach. I don't know what else to call it. There were dancers, acrobats, singers, musicians, dramatists, pyrotechnics and animals (Bart, the camel) included in the performance...some 400 in all. 144 of these were on the Singing Christmas Tree. Then on Sunday evening we attended the Singing Christmas Tree performance at First Baptist of Sebring. This was almost at the other end of the spectrum so far as "extras" were concerned. I came away from both with a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy, because that is what the season and the music, drama, etc produces, but sorrow, because our sin made the first Christmas necessary. I wonder if anyone else thinks about this.
Yes, there were, "Good tidings of great joy!" at the first Christmas, but the coming of the Savior was made necessary because of man's sin. Apart from …

Irritating Comes Naturally; Obnoxiousness Takes Practice

Last night my wife and I attended a dinner theater at the clubhouse where we live. We wanted to support one of the guys who comes to our Home Group and was in one of the plays. As usual at such events, people who imbibe, BTOB (bring their own bottle). We were a little concerned because we didn't know who would be at our table and whether or not they would want to share their "cheer". Fortunately, there was only one "imbiber" at our table and she never even asked if we wanted to share. Thank goodness.
However, at the table next to us was one woman who seemed to have gotten a head start before coming to the event. She was sipping wine throughout the evening, and getting louder and louder both with her talking, laughter and "hooting" both during and after the performances. I noticed that some at her table seemed a bit uncomfortable. Her husband just smiled alot. Several of her friends dropped by the table to see what was going on. One of them to…

Christmas; What & Why?

Have you given any thought to what Christmas is all about, really, and why we have Christmas? As I hold our Christmas celebrations up to the template of scripture, I think we're missing the point.
Why is Christmas? It is the result of man's sin. Apart from that, Jesus would not have had to come to earth and endure all He did. Our celebrations should include times of extreme, remorse for our own sinfulness, and thanksgiving to God that He didn't just write man-kind off, but had a plan in place before creation for our redemption.
What is Christmas? It is the fulfillment of the Father's promise to provide a way of salvation for all people who would believe in His Son, Jesus, and receive Him a personal Lord and Savior. Christmas is a time of remembering, renewing, and returning to our first love. It should be pivot point for our year; the time when we recalibrate our spiritual sextant and focus on Jesus as our Redeemer, example, elder brother, mediator, friend and con…

License to Over Indulge

On Thanksgiving Day my wife and I ate at a Golden Corral restaurant in Orlando. I love people watching, and this was a great place to do it. First, I was amazed at how many people were dining out on Thanksgiving. Next, I observed people making absolute gluttons of themselves. I observed one fellow make at least three trips to the dessert bar, after cleaning several plates of entrees. It occurred to me that we have turned holidays into excuses for overindulgence. The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, arguably the biggest retail day of the year. On this day people will eschew sleep to get a "bargain". I saw in the paper where one store employee was trampled to death as the doors were opened and the crowds surged forward. This will be followed by Christmas, once the celebration of the birth of our Savior, but now an excuse to give and receive gifts personally. How would you like it if on your birthday everyone else got gifts except you? I've observed my own…

Observations of a Church Shopper

For the first time in our lives, my wife and I are church shoppers. We've been visiting different churches until God gives direction as to where He wants us to "plug in". Here are a few of my observations as a visitor.
All of the churches we have visited are "inner-directed". That is, they are more concerned with getting their own itches scratched, and having their own backs patted than they are in reaching the world for Christ.
Worship is an after-thought in most, if not all of the churches we've visited. The pre-set order of service precludes the Holy Spirit leading in any direction other than what has been prescribed. Very little of the worship is God-focused even though the words to some of the songs are. We're still mainly singing to ourselves or each other...not to God. Almost all worship is confined to singing or listening to singing. Little thought is given to the fact that music is only a small aspect of true worship.
Sunday school classes…

We Have Met the Enemy and His Name Is...

The old quote is "We have met and enemy and he is us." In this case though the enemy of the committed disciple of Christ is the same enemy that Christ encountered during his stay on Planet Earth. The truth of the matter is that he is a defeated foe. Jesus took care of that on Mt. Calvary and in the Garden Tomb over 2000 years ago. Someone has said, "At Calvary Jesus pulled Satan's teeth. Though he can no longer bite the believer, he can certainly gum them alot." There are some safe guards for the believer against the arch enemy of Christ.
Confess all known sin and repent of it. Unconfessed sin gives Satan an entry into your life and affairs. Confession should be a part of your daily prayer time, and also should occur whenever the Holy Spirit makes you aware of sin in your life.
Remove all idolatrous and satanic trappings from your home or person. Often posters, books, statuettes, album covers (or CD gem cases) DVD movie covers, tattoos, jewelry etc have…

This is the Beginning

I keep hearing people whose candidate did not win say, "Well, Obama is my president now." Why? Did your convictions disappear with your vote? Are you now in favor of abortion, same sex marriage, a soft approach with terrorists? Although we do have a responsibility to pray for President-elect Obama, we don't have to buy his bill of goods. We are strapped with him and his ilk for the next four years at least, but unless we get off our duffs and get busy about promoting the convictions we have that are based on scripture, this will only be the beginning. I've just read Isaiah 3. Among the things that God promised and delivered upon His people (Jerusalem and Judah) was
Strip them of their economy; vs 1Deplete their military; vs 2Take away their leaders and advisers; vs 3Give them young, inexperienced, immature leaders; vs 4Abandon them to "distress" one another; vs 5Allow their children to become insolent and disrespectful; vs 5And that is just through t…

Where is Intellectual Honesty?

I've just had a frustrating exchange with an unbeliever who refuses to even consider any scripture because he doesn't consider it "divine" whatever that means. He is trusting his "body of work" (never heard that one before) and his "resume" to get him into heaven. My question is, doesn't he read other writings that he does not consider to be "divine"? If so, why not read the Bible, just as any other writing? It would seem to me that if one is to be intellectually honest, he must do that.
I'm convinced that if a person read the Bible with an open mind, the Spirit of God would communicate truth to them so that they would be without excuse. That is to say, they could never say again, "But I didn't know.". Perhaps that is the reason they don't want to read it in the first place. Somehow they know that if they did, their excuses for not believing would be gone.
So, anyone who reads this, please pray for "Jo…

What are People Thinking?

As we get closer to the elections, and I hear poll results that show a socialist leading, I just have to pause and ask "what in the world are people thinking?". Have we learned nothing from history? We have seen the Soviet Union, and Cuba up close and personal, and still there are people willing to go down that road? It sort of reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 1. Summed up, he said that when people reject God continually, He eventually gives them up to "a reprobate mind". They begin to think that wrong is right, etc., and God lets them do it. It just may be that America is about to experience getting what they think they want only to discover when it is too late that they have been duped.
The last I heard, America was listed as the 6th most pagan nation on earth. This election may be the tipping point that plunges us into the abyss from which we'll take generations to recover. If you doubt that such is possible, just read the saga of th…

Americans! Cry Out to God!

The time has come for American Christians to cry out to God as never before. Remember, God would have spared Sodom if only 10 righteous men had been found there. We are somewhat in that position now. Unless Believers "stand in the gap and make up the hedge" (Ez. 22:30) God may well "pour out His fury" upon us. It would be well for us to read Ezekial 22, and take heed. No longer can we assume that everything is going to be alright. Even the most optimistic polls are showing that we are about to elect a socialist slate of leaders for our country. Just because we've been spared in the past doesn't mean that God will continue to be patient with us. Remember His statement in Genesis 6:3 "Then the Lord said, "My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time.""(NLT)
This may come across as a bit alarmist. It isn't "a bit", it is absolutely alarmist! For much too long we've presumed on the grace of God to del…

No Guarantees

There are no guarantees that the US will be any better off even if McCain-Palen win the election. The truth of the matter is that America has moved so far from obedience to God, that even given a conservative, evangelical leader, we may still find ourselves in the cross hairs of God's wrath. We didn't get in the situation we're in over night, and there is no quick fix for it now. Someone has defined discipline as "a long obedience in the same direction". That is what it is going to take for God to relent. As Leonard Ravenhill put it years ago, "God will either have to judge America, or apologize to Sodom and Gommorah."
That being said, we Believers still need to get out and vote according to Biblical principles and not according to party lines. We need to discern which candidates have Godly character, and support them with our vote. Then we need to pray for them daily. If we are not praying for those whom we collectively have elected, we have n…

What a Day to Be Alive!!!

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=289370
In the midst of all the gloom and doom about the economy the Christian should be shining like a lighthouse, showing where safe harbor is for those who are adrift in the world today. Scripture tells us that we have a hope that the world doesn't have. Romans 15:13 records these words of the Apostle Paul. " Now may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, so that you may over flow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." The writer of Hebrews reminds us that "Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' Therefore, we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What canman do to me?""(Heb. 13:5-6)
Another scripture passage that should give us comfort in these trying times is 2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the eart…

What Goes UP...

Well the story today from the stock market is positive. If you are one who checks the figures everyday, and your emotions are governed by the ups and downs of the market, then today you're on a high. But hang on...tomorrow is coming and who knows what that will bring? I have an answer for that...God knows. And what's more, He is prepared to protect and provide for those who trust Him instead of their bank account or their stock portfolio. The scriptures tell us that He is the same "yesterday, today and forever". What a relief! God is not going to change at the whim of the market, OPEC, or the latest hot-shot politician. The promises He made to His people in the Old Testament are still there for His people today. However, the requirement for benefiting from those promises is also the same...obedience. Jesus summed up the promises and the requirement in Matthew 6:32-33. "Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heaven…

Our Time to Shine!

Every day the headlines scream about the economic disaster that is upon us. Gloom and doom is heard on the one hand and pipe dreams on the other as this political football keeps being kicked back and forth. Lost in the morass of words and prophecies is the fact that Christians have an opportunity to really shine in days like these. I know, we are all going to feel the pinch. I'm recently retired, and every report from my annuity shows my nest egg to be shrinking at an alarming rate. The good thing is that I'm not dependant on my annuity, I'm dependant on God.
As believers, we are in a marvelous position. 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us that "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." Wow! What a statement. My job is to have a heart that is loyal to God. His promise is to show Himself strong on my behalf. What better spot could anyone be in given the current situation…

The Magic of "Fireproof"

"Fireproof", like its' predecessor, "Facing the Giants" is confounding Hollywood. So far they have not been able to figure how a church can make a movie for $500,000, and beat some of the multimillion dollar projects that the Hollywood machine puts out. There is a one word explanation; GOD! He alone has made this possible.
If you haven't yet made it a point to see this movie, put it at the top of your "to-do" list and go this week. In our location, we had to drive @ 40 miles, but it was well worth it. If you are a member of a church, Sunday school class, or Bible Study group, this would be a tremendous group project. Plan a "Dinner and movie" night, order group tickets, and GO!
Too often we complain about the drivel that Hollywood puts out and do nothing about it. This is something you can do. By going to this movie you cast a vote for positive, character-building films. Sooner or later, Hollywood will get the message...when it a…

Still Seeking Our "Place"

Having been recently summarily dismissed from my church staff position, my wife and I find ourselves in a most unusual position. In our 42+ years of marriage, we've never wondered where to go to church because I've always been on staff. We have visited a former pastor who is now a staff member of a church in a city not far from here, we've been back to one of our former churches for their 115th anniversary celebration, and today, we visited another church in our area for the second time. We're not really sure what we are looking for. We've enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing being "people in the pew", but still feel that God has more for us to do in the kingdom. Some opportunities are opening up for me to do conferences, but that still doesn't address the need to be an active part of a local "body" of believers. We have our home Bible study each week, which gives us a great time of fellowship and study with other believers, but…

Home, My Bed, Ahhhhh

After 13 hours on the road yesterday, we finally pulled into our driveway about 7:30 p.m. last night. We unloaded just what we had to. Rae went through the mail and phone messages, and I emptied my luggage, and hooked up the lap top to check e-mails. After showering and getting ready for bed, we watched the season premiere of Criminal Minds, and then...ahhh, we got in our sleep number bed and snoozed. There's nothing quite like coming home to your own bed after a trip.
I kind of think it is going to be that way when we get to heaven. We're going to have that "Home at last!" feeling like sleeping in our own beds. The longer I live, the more homesick I get. After spending a day with Rae's mom in a Nursing Home, I'm more convinced that at some point, life becomes a sentence rather than a blessing. I saw people who were definitely homesick. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should hurry the issue. God is in control. There may be issues that n…

Friends

We have just had a whirlwind weekend. Went to the 115th anniversary celebration of a church we had served 28 years ago. We had the opportunity to see people who had been in our youth group back in the late 70's. We also saw the pastor with whom we worked. There were many memories revisited during the day, and it seemed as if we had not been separated by all those years.
Today I had the opportunity to spend most of the day with a dear friend who had once been in my college ministry, and later served as an intern with me between college and seminary. We spent the day remembering things we had learned together in ministry and in studying to become certified as Intentional Interim Pastors. The beauty of this time was being able to think out loud and bounce ideas off one another without fear of being put down, or worse, ignored. As we plan together for some mutual ministry opportunities, our friendship is deepening. The truth of the matter is, real close, deep friendships are ha…

Family

I'm enjoying one of those terrifically tiring family trips. My wife and I are the ones traveling. So far we have visited my Dad, my brother and sister-in-law, my sister, neice & her kids. We spent one night on the road in a motel; one night at my brother's house, tonight and tomorrow night we are at our daughter's house, then on Sunday we'll spend the night with a former intern then to Rae's brother's house, and finally an all day drive back to so. central FL. Whew! I can imagine that it will take a week to recover from this trip. Don't get me wrong, I love family. I love seeing them, being with them and all, but the getting there and back are the real drags. Kind of makes me wish for the days when families all lived in the same town, and sometimes on the same block. I remember that every Monday night my paternal grandfather walked the 2 blocks from his house to ours and we popped pop corn and visited. I lived only 2 doors from my maternal gra…

Be Careful Who You Listen To

This morning I was reading in 1 Kings 13 a very interesting story. There was a "man of God" who spoke a word of prophesy which immediately proved true. When things happened exactly as he said they would, the King invited him home for dinner and a reward. He refused, however, because God had told him not to eat or drink in that place and to return home a different way. Up to this point, he was obedient. Later and "old prophet" pursued, caught up with him, and invited him home for dinner. Once again, the man of God told what God had instructed him to do. The old prophet then said, "An angel appeared to me by the word of God and told me to bring you home." At this point, the man of God was persuaded to forget what God had told him directly and assume that He had sent a new message through the old prophet. Bad decision!!! The end result was his death by mauling by a lion because of his disobedience. Too bad he didn't have the benefit of the Apo…

It's All in The Way You Look At It

Today my wife and I attended Belle Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, FL. Since the end of April, the church has lost their pastor & his 13 year old son in a plane crash, and then lost their Pastor of Worship to a heart attack. They, like many churches these days, are experiencing a decrease in giving due to the economy. (by doing the math, I determined that they are @ $200K behind) However, instead of scaling back, they are aggressively moving forward in evangelism and missions. Oh, and they have just moved into a beautiful new worship center.
We were so impressed by how they went about voting for those who will serve on the Pastor search and pulpit supply teams. Before the vote, they asked the nominees to come to the front of the church where 100's of church members gathered around them, laid hands on them and prayed for them.
Since the untimely death of their pastor, they have seen an 1100% (not a typo, that is eleven hundred percent) increase in professions of faith co…

Whew!!! Retirement is Hard!

Today retirement really started. Except I wound up working almost 12 hours today in my office at home getting my computers cleaned up, getting Outlook synched, and getting out some e-mails to my network letting them know that I'm now available for conferences & speaking engagements. Rae was subbing today, so the house was quiet except for the radio. Got a lot done, but still have a lot to do.
So far I haven't experienced the "void" that many people tell me they experienced when retiring. Part of that, I guess, comes from the fact that I didn't choose to retire...it was decided for me. My immediate focus is...I'm still alive, I still have a call from God, I still have my health, and I'm expecting an new assignment from the Father. The cool thing about working for the Kingdom of God is that, even if one location doesn't need or want you anymore, there are thousands that do. The tough thing is waiting for the next assignment. Moses is one of m…

Lingering Endings...Yuck!!!

Have you ever given thought to the best way to die? Well I have. Personally, I like the way Moses went out; Deuteronomy 34:7 "Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished." Now that's the way to go!!! What I probably dread most is a lingering death due to illness. As a matter of fact, I pray regularly for my dad (who is almost 96). He loves to walk at the track at Sports First, and work out on the machines. I would not want to see him unable to do that, so I ask God that when it is time, He will just take Dad in his sleep.
Well, enough about death; that's not what this is about. In the continuing saga of the end of my ministry at FBC Sebring, I'm dealing with what I call a "lingering ending". I want to say, "Let's just get this over with already." Although this "process" has only been less than two weeks, it seems like an eternity. From the hour that I…

Lessons From King David

I've learned a lot lately from King David. I just today completed reading through 2 Samuel. The final chapter presented a strange scenario. In the 1st verse we're told that, "The anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them..." What David did was order a census, or numbering of the people. This served a no practical purpose if David was trusting God for protection and deliverance in battle as he had done in the past. This act meant that David had moved from trusting the Lord to trusting the number of fighting men he had in his standing army. By verse 10 David figured out that he had sinned by ceasing to trust God. However, the damage had been done. Although he confessed and repented, there was a price to pay for his unbelief, and God gave him a choice of punishments. David chose the one which put the people of Israel in the hands of God for discipline. The end result was that 70,000 people died in a plague.
The lesson I'…

Choosing to Respond

Any time we're confronted with unexpected, and perhaps unpleasant, circumstances, we have a choice. We can REACT or we can RESPOND. When we react, we're allowing the circumstances to dictate the situation. When we RESPOND we're taking a measured, thoughtful approach which allows us to put a positive spin on the situation. Here's how I've learned to RESPOND.
Realize that God is in control, and was not at all surprised with the circumstances.Recognize that possibly, we have contributed to the situation by word, deed, inaction or attitude, and taking responsibility for our part.Look for the positive. What can we learn, or how can we grow from the circumstances?Pray for those who may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the negative things that you're experiencing.Look for the open door or window that God provides on the other side of the circumstance.
That is where I am at the moment. I'm in the midst of some circumstances that I had not anticipat…

Life Goes On

This is my first blog post employment. Actually I'll be at the church officially for another week and a half, but, for all practical purposes, I'll be using that time to pack the office, and clean out the clutter. I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that for the first time since high school, I soon will not be gainfully employed. That is kinda scary. However, I've been reading in 2 Samuel about some of the experiences that David went through (some of his own making) and I'm beginning to get a better grasp of how God works in the midst of adversity. I"ve also been praying and meditating through the 23rd Psalm. I'm especially intrigued by the passage, "He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies; He anoints my head with oil; my cups runs over.". James Maxwell interprets that to mean that God Himself will vindicate us by blessing us in the presence of those who have mis-used us. I like that. As a matter of fact,…