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Know-it-all? May 8, 2009

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I was teaching an erstwhile Sunday School Class last Sunday morning and something dawned on me. Yes, me, the teacher.

I was leading a discussion on Bible study as a basic discipline of the Christian life. One of my comments was that we should have an intense drive to study the Bible. I followed that statement with another statement that built upon it by saying that it should be akin some of the secular interests that we have.

And then it hit me.

Let me explain.

I recently purchased a new “toy”. It is something that I have wanted for quite some time. It was a significant purchase and I needed to sell a similar “toy” in order to have the money to buy the new one. In short it was a significant purchase.

There are many choices that I could have made. So, in order to make the very best decision I began some intense research. I looked at all of the manufacturers. I looked at the independent reviews. I researched the good and bad points about this item by reading through many of the User Forums on the internet. I even joined a few of them and began participating in the discussion. In a short few months, I became somewhat of an expert. I became a “Know-it-all” in the best sense of the word.

I now know a great deal about that item and I was prepared to make the purchase. So, I did. And I am now a happy and confident owner.

Now, juxtapose that experience with my discussion last Sunday morning. Do you get it? I got it! I clearly felt God whispering to me,

“Are you as intensely passionate and driven to study My Word?”

I had to confess that I was not at the time as intensely passionate about the Bible and reading and meditating on it.

The intent of this post is not to make anyone feel guilty. That was certainly not the way God dealt with me. God dealt with me gently and lovingly. Let him deal with you that way and re-ignite in you a drive and desire for Him and His Word.

Photo (c) FreeFoto.com

Time May 2, 2009

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We are each given 24 hours a day. No more. No less.

So why does time seem to pass so swiftly for some and not for others?

I have not posted lately. I haven’t had enough time to write anything.

No, wait a minute. That’s not right. I just said we each have 24 hours a day. Notice, I didn’t say, “You have about 26 or 27 hours a day and I only have about 19.”

But I digress. Back to my question. “So why does time seem to pass so swiftly for some and not for others?

The Day My Life Changed . . . Again March 21, 2009

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There have been many days in my life that have been “life changing.” March 19th was the most recent and one of the most dramatic.

On March 19th at 12:01 PM my daughter and her husband gave birth to their first child and my first grandchild. It was an extraordinary day and one that I know I will never forget. Just a glimpse of that baby through the glass and I knew that I had lost what little of my heart I had left. He already owned part of it from the time I knew that he was being formed in his mother’s womb.

But to see his face . . . That was special.

And then to hold him in my arms . . . That was unbelievable.

I am incredibly blessed. God has given me a family that loves me and that family is growing.

Does it get any better than this?

Foundational Thoughts Bring Me Peace February 4, 2009

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I have been thinking a lot about the subject of “Change” lately. And all of the changes going on around me have caused me to think about some foundational thoughts from our past and to look to some of the folks who have shaped our doctrine and theology. One of those “shapers” is Martin Luther, the great reformer. Below is his morning prayer as recorded in his Small Catechism.

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that you would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings in life may please you. For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Nothing gives me more peace in the midst of life’s many changes than being able to put myself into God’s hands on a daily basis. This prayer is marvelous in its simplicity. It covers all of the bases.

  • It has an acknowledgment of who God is and who His Son is.
  • It offers thanks for his protection.
  • It calls upon the only One who can truly help us.
  • It places us into the hands of a loving God.
  • And it asks for God’s power and protection.

That’s pretty powerful for such few words. I think I’ll give it a try tomorrow morning.

Change . . . Me? January 24, 2009

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Our former pastor and his wife used to sing a song every once in a while back when we lived in the Washington, DC area. That song was “Change My Heart O God” by Eddie Espinosa. Here are the lyrics in case you don’t know it.

Change My Heart Oh God
Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray

Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

That song did not mean as much to me back then as it does today. Today, my life is all about change. There are changes at work. There are changes at church. There are changes at home. Change is everywhere.

Benjamin Franklin said, “There is nothing certain in this world but death and taxes.” And I would add one more thing to that list; Change!

But let me split a few hairs with the beloved Benjamin Franklin. I would suggest that external change is in fact inevitable. While internal change is not inevitable. So, while the world around me is rapidly changing, it is up to me do determine if I will accept those changes or reject them.

We recently elected a president in the United States who ran on a platform of “Hope and Change”. Not all change is good. Not all change is bad. But this much I know. God wants to deal with changes in me at a heart level. While I may want to make cosmetic changes on the outside. god wants to change me from the inside.

So, those lyrics that Pastor John and Amy used to sing are ringing in my ears today. And I say with them, “Change my heart, oh God.” Then and only then will I be able to be effective in ministry and demonstrate life-altering change the way that Jesus Christ intended.

What about you? Are there any big changes going on in your life? Are there big changes going on in your heart?

Mobile Blogging January 16, 2009

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It seems that this may need to be a more necessary means of blogging until my schedule slows down a little.

Is anyone else out there using the mobile blogging features of Blogger?

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

A Wedding to Remember October 4, 2008

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You always want your daughter to have a wedding that she will remember for a lifetime. Well we certainly got that the weekend of September 20th when our daughter Libby married her fiance Taylor.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with where we live, I will tell you that we live in the path that the eye of Hurricane Ike’s passed over recently. Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast four weeks ago. The eye of the hurricane passed directly over our neighborhood early Saturday morning the 13th of September. This map shows the path that the eye of the storm.

We lost electricity the evening of the 12th of September and did not receive it again until the afternoon of the 23rd. Did I mention that the wedding was on the 20th?

As we awoke on the morning of the wedding, this was the situation relative to electricity in our zip code.
But the story of this wedding deserves to be told. And it is a story of beauty, grace, priorities, and love.

It is a story of the beauty of the bride (and her mother).

It is the story of the pride of a big brother for his little sister.
It is the story of the love a groom for his bride as he saw her for the first time that day.
It is a story of the grace of those who felt the pressure of planning a wedding under these weather conditions.

It is a story of the priorities that became clear when it became obvious that everything would not be as we had planned it.

And yes, it is a story of the love of a bride and groom for each other, a father and mother for their daughter, a brother for his sister, friends and family’s love for one another. But even more importantly, it is about the love of a Heavenly Father who provided for a memorable day.

My prayer for this young couple is that they would get to experience God’s love in such a real and dramatic way that it will make their marriage into the most sacred and blessed relationship that we can have. And I pray that they would be a beacon of encouragement to others and a shining example of what a christian marriage is all about.

Family October 4, 2008

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My family expanded on September 20th. At noon on that day my daughter married her sweetheart. And when she did, our family grew by one as her husband forever became a part of our family. My daughter took his name. But we took him into our hearts and lives.

Taylor, welcome to the family. We love you and we are happy to have you as part of our family.

“Family” is a topic that I am coming to have a greater appreciation for.

The Last Word on Life August 23, 2008

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We all live with some kind of hope. We hope it won‘t be too hot today. We hope we will get a raise. We hope our candidate will win the election this fall. We hope to shoot par on at least one hole. But what is hope? The Bible tells us that it is more than just wishful thinking. It is “he assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen“ according to Hebrews 11:1. When the Bible talks about the “hope of heaven,” it isn’t talking about hoping we get into heaven, but rather the hope that comes for the reality of heaven.

Do you live with calm assurance that God will do what He says He will do? Maybe you feel that God has let you down in the past. Maybe you have been hurt by folks in your relationships or in business. Everyone that you thought you could count on has let you down. That is the way it seems sometimes. And in fact that may be your experience.

At a time of such uncertainty in the world, people are looking for something or someone to believe in. They want to feel secure, but then the stock market plummets and gas goes to more than $4.00 per gallon. People just want to be happy, but happiness seems so dependent upon our circumstances. They want to be independent, but then they realize that they do not have the resources for today and tomorrow. They want to trust, but their own feelings betray them. Self-help books and prosperity teachers are a dime a dozen.

Why did God make it possible for us to spend eternity in heaven? Was it because of our goodness? Or was it because of His mercy and His grace?

Well, if it is because of His mercy and grace, and He is never changing and never failing, then we can have hope for today and for tomorrow.

“Living hope“ means that it isn‘t something that we store away for the future. It is alive. The hope that we have empowers us to live today the way that God intended us to live it — in holiness. What we hope for won‘t fade away, rust, or shrink in significance because it is “incorruptible and undefiled.”

The Apostle Peter went on to explain further that our faith is secured not by us, but by almighty God. When we experience true salvation and turn to Christ in repentance, we have a place prepared for us in heaven. John 14: 2 and 3 are fairly clear. No one, not even Satan himself, can take it away from us.

Now this doesn’t mean that life will be easy or without trials. Peter acknowledged this but still assured his readers that the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven is worth whatever the struggles are here on earth.

Have you ever camped outside a store in order to be there when the doors opened in order to get the big sale item? Have you ever stood in line for the chance to buy concert or playoff tickets? I remember getting up before dawn once to be in line to get one of the first Teddy Ruxpin animated talking bears. (Some of you are too old to have had one and too young to remember buying them for your children!)

We get so mixed up in our priorities. We make important the things that are so fleeting. And we minimize the things that have eternal implications. We go to a lot of trouble for what pleases us for a moment. But we ignore the things that will provide peace for today and a hope for tomorrow. We live in the present and yet we are created for eternity.

Jesus has been to Bethlehem, wearing barn rags and hearing sheep bleating and cows chewing. He took His first sips of milk shivering at the feet of animals. God had come to earth in the form of a helpless baby. Countless who face the chill of empty pockets, face the fear of uncertainty or face the tragedies of everyday life turn to Jesus Christ. Why?

Because He has been there.

He has been to Nazareth where he toiled in the hot sun of Palestine; to Galilee where He recruited some who would turn and run when He needed them most; to Jerusalem where He was assaulted by the religious leaders of the day and was ultimately put to death on a cruel Roman cross.

You and I have our Nazareth, Galilee, and Jerusalem. So why turn to Jesus? Because He‘s been there!

And He‘s been somewhere you and I have not been yet. He has been to the grave. Not as a visitor. He was a resident for a time. But death and the grave could not hold Him.

So, in this walk of faith, in whom do you put your faith and in whom do hope? Why not place your trust in the One who has been there before you and who has gone before you to prepare a place for you in heaven?

Just a thought . . .

A Place MUCH Better than My Last Post August 10, 2008

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Heaven — The mention of the word probably brings as many images to our mind as last weeks topic, hell. Again, pop culture may have influenced us more regarding heaven than the Bible.

Maybe you don’t even think much about heaven. Maybe you are busy enough in your everyday life with your countless activities such that you don’t feel you have time to even contemplate heaven. However, the thought of spending eternity in heaven can bring peace in the midst of despair and in the tumult of life. But heaven isn’t about us wearing white robes, sitting on a little cloud and playing a little harp. In fact, it isn’t about us at all! It is about spending eternity in His presence.

Have you ever thought about living in a perfect world? Think about that for a little bit. There would be no need to lock your doors. You wouldn‘t need central air or heat. Doctors would be unnecessary as would lawyers. The list of things that would be different is long. For me, I would be 6′ 2″, thin and the best bass singer gospel music has ever known!

The truth is that you and I can live in a perfect world. Just not today. But there is coming a day when that will be possible. No matter how bad life gets today, we can look forward to a place of eternal perfection – heaven.

Look at our study passage in Revelation 21:1-26. John was given a glimpse of what no man had seen before and no one has seen since. The entire book of Revelation draws a picture of what the end times will look like and tells us about life beyond this earthly journey. The descriptions are the best that John could come up with. He saw the unbelievable and indescribable. And he tried to describe it to both Christians and non-Christians.

Not an easy job! Especially considering the task of trying to describe the indescribable using earthly words and images.

In the 21st chapter of Revelation, John begins by pointing out that the “first earth had passed away.” Staying on this planet doesn‘t seem to be an option, does it? It looks like we will relocate somewhere for eternity. And John saw a new location for those who are forgiven and are in a right relationship with Jesus Christ. He saw a new city in which God and man will live together in peace similarly to the way they did once before in the Garden of Eden.

Those who fail to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and choose Heaven will, by default, choose eternity in the “lake of fire.” But choosing Jesus Christ and Heaven is much more than getting a free pass or “fire insurance”. It is all about allowing God and His Holy Spirit to live in us and through us until that time that we reach the end of our earthly journey. It is an abundant life now and an unbelievable life after that.

John goes on to say that there will not even be a temple in heaven. Imagine that. God’s own Heaven and it doesn’t have a temple.

How about this as a concept. . . . Heaven, by definition, will be a place of worship! After all, that‘s what worship is. It is a natural response to being in God‘s presence. And we will be in His presence always and forever. There will be nothing to distract us from worship and from praising Him and celebrating being in His presence.

Go back and read Genesis 1. In the beginning, God designed a place where everything was good and perfect. But man messed it up by his sin and his disobedience. man chose to believe the serpent instead of the Creator who walked with him in the cool of the evening.

Since that time, we have tried to redefine good. We have equated good with big houses, fast cars and high-powered jobs. We have lowered the standard of goodness so that we can experience things that we believe to be good. But good isn‘t good unless it is Godly.

When the things we define as good can be made better, we have missed God’s concept of good. For God, good was the supreme expression of His creation. He looked at Adam and Eve and He said that it was good. God had no better. When God declared that that creation was good, He didn’t mean that it was good enough until something better came along. It was perfect and that is just what heaven will be like.

Do you want to spend eternity in the place that God calls good?

If so, then you can. Simply confess your sins and ask God to forgive you. If you have done that, then ask Him to send His Holy Spirit to indwell you and empower you to live a life of what Wesley called, “Christian perfection.” And allow the Holy Spirit to work in you to bring about a life worthy of heaven and a life that is pleasing to God and that will allow you to anticipate heaven and anticipate being in God’s presence with absolute peace.

This is the abundant life that God offers. Would you like a life like that?