Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

In God I Trust

Holy Father, find me. Search for me quickly! I feel as though I am adrift at sea and no one can spot me. I am but a speck, at a great distance away, too small to find. Father, your great waters are bobbing me up and down so that I am sick. I am unable to rescue myself, and no one else can hear my cry for help. I have sent out distress signals, but no one is watching. Everyone is busy emptying their own boats which are taking in water. I have given up on putting my confidence in those 'round about me. You have taught me that no one else is as reliable as you are. I have learned that I also have not heard or seen those flares from my friends. Father, forgive me for not being prepared, ready, and waiting for their signals.
Father, you are my refuge. I am swimming hard to reach your shores. Please do not allow me to be removed from your safety. I know you are concerned for me, because there is no other who can protect like you. Where you are is always a good place to be found in times of trouble. Father, all of my troubles, cares, and worries - I throw them onto you. You receive them all so that I may rest easy and that I may be glad. You know how weary I am from running so hard away from them. You rub my sore muscles with your healing hands so that I fall quickly asleep.
Father, you have rescued so many who have put their trust in you. You have delivered so many from such deadly perils, and you will deliver me as well. You are my only hope; there is no other on whom I can depend. There are many who have never heard of you, and therefore do not trust you like I do. But Lord, I cannot help but tell everyone how you have saved me. I have put my trust in you, and you have never left me alone. You have taught me in some difficult ways, but your lessons have become clear to me. It took me a while to see the answer clearly, but now I see how only you can be trusted.
Father, I thought it was good for me to be proud, but you have taught me that I cannot. Instead, I boast only in what Christ has done for me, not what I have done for thee. Nothing I am; no matter how long I've followed you, can increase my worth in your eyes. I am no better than the best or worst in my life, I am only proud to be covered by Christ's blood. Without His life, sacrifice, and resurrection, all my hope would be lost. But because He reigns by your right hand, everything you've promised has already been guaranteed. Only in him and through faith in him may we approach you freely and confidently.
So it is because of him I can come to you with my cries and petitions, knowing that you hear me. I am confident that you care for me, and that you will come quickly to my rescue. Have you not told me that I am worth more than the grass, the flowers, or the little birds? I know you care, and I will only trust in you. Please Father, now pick me up and place me in the cup of your hand and cover me. Dry me, warm me, feed me, protect me, provide for me, exalt me and elevate me in front of everyone. Allow me to proclaim to everyone how good you are, and what you've done for me. You have molded me, Father into a vessel of honor. Now Father, I am ready to be used for your purposes. Use me to pour out your Spirit onto others, Father. Use my touch to heal others pain. Use my voice to encourage others sorrow. Hear my prayers as I cry to you for them. Lord, come and rescue your people, and save us from this sorrow filled world. May the Holy son, Jesus Christ, my brother, take these words, and present them to you in his own way.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Psalms 25

1 A Psalm of David. To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.
3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.
4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.
5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses, For they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness' sake, O Lord.

8 Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
9 The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name's sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
12 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.

15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses!
18 Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins.
19 Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred.
20 Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.

22 Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Are You Suffering?

Sometimes, it's hard to be motivated when bad things are happening all around, and also to yourself. In fact, when bad things happen to me, I'm often guilty of blaming God, or asking God why these things are happening. I am learning that our God is a perfect father in every way. That's not to say I believe if something bad happens, it's because God caused it to happen. Remember Job, God allowed Satan to have his way with Job. God was confident that whatever Satan did to Job, Job would remain faithful. But God does allow things to happen in our lives to break us, to strengthen us, and eventually cause us to depend on Him. Whatever situation I find myself in, it's helpful for me to remember that God is with me and will never leave me. God always remains. I might find myself to have left him, and squander my gifts and talents on something useless. But at the end of the day, when I find myself sitting in the muck, I know that If I return to God, He'll be there, waiting for me, and once He sees me walking down that road, He'll run to take me in.

So why do we have to suffer? I'm only going to offer up possibly one reason for now. I was talking with one of my older brothers the other day, and he gave me such a great reminder! By the way, I am so thankful for times when God's Spirit uses people to encourage others. My brother reminded me of the story of Joseph - in Egypt. Talk about a bad situation. Joseph was HATED by his brothers, in part because he was his father's favorite, also in part, because Joseph said the wrong thing at the wrong time. [Gen. 37:3, Gen. 37:5] So, his brothers stripped him and left him down in a well, only to raise him up again and sell him off to slave traders who were passing through. Joseph suddenly found himself caged, hungry, exposed, homeless, and far from home. That's a pretty bad situation in which I have never found myself in. Joseph was soon sold to a high ranking official in Egypt to serve he and his wife. Joseph quickly realized that God was on his side. Joseph realized that God was blessing him and he remained faithful to God. Once again, something else bad happened to Joseph which would quickly change his situation and level of comfort. He was accused of behaving improper to this official's wife and he was quickly thrown in jail. Again, I've never found myself to be in this bad of shape, but Joseph acted admirably. The jailor quickly realized that God was with this young man, and promoted him to be over all the prisoners and every activity that happened was first approved by Joseph. After serving a few years in prison - for nothing he had done, Joseph was quickly brought before Pharaoh - the leader of all of Egypt to interpret a dream. Joseph clearly explained to Pharaoh that he himself could not interpret, but that his God alone could. With God's help, Joseph explained to Pharaoh what his dream meant, and offered up a wise solution for them to follow to avoid ruin and devastation. Pharaoh realized that there was no one wiser than Joseph and immediately promoted him over all of Egypt. With God's help and the plan that He divinely explained to Joseph, Joseph's actions benefited all of Egypt and the surrounding nations. Everyone came to Egypt to buy food during a long famine and it was during this time that he was reunited with his family. Joseph realized and explained his greatest purpose in life was to be used by God to help save his family. [Genesis 45:5, Genesis 45:7, Genesis 45:8]

God can use people and their bad circumstances to bless others – if we allow ourselves to be used this way. It wasn't a joyous thing for Joseph to be mistreated, hated, sold into slavery, alienated from his family, and imprisoned. Joseph definitely trusted in God to take care of him, and God did bless Joseph greatly. As a result of Joseph's faithfulness, God blessed and protected a nation which would usher in the savior of the world!

Remember too, another mighty example of suffering found in the New Testament. The apostle Paul, an apostle of Christ who served much later after Jesus' life, was a faithful minister of God and Christ. Saul or Paul was chosen by God to serve him, and He wasn't going to make it easy for Paul either. [Acts 9:16] Some of his sufferings included these: [2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 2 Corinthians 11:23, 2 Corinthians 11:24, 2 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 11:26, 2 Corinthians 11:27] But Paul realized that God was going to keep him going, that God was going to use him to further God's kingdom. In fact, Paul talks to his Christian brothers and sisters about his afflictions when he writes in Ephesians 3:13, clearly expressing that his sufferings were for THEIR glory. Just like Joseph suffered many things to secure and protect the people of God, Paul too was suffering for the benefit of the people of God. Think about even now, the benefits we have because of Paul's sufferings. What a blessing it is to open up the word of God and read Paul's writings - writings which were spoken to him by God, given to us so that we may know the will of God. [1 Timothy 3:15, 1 John 5:13]

As we suffer, may God give us His blessings and knowledge that our sufferings are first made to build us up and make us stronger so that we might encourage others to also be made stronger. [2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, James 1:3-4]. Take the challenge of recognizing our sufferings as being something from God then realize how it is we can bless others to their benefit. God works in mysterious ways, and He works in His own time.

Monday, May 25, 2009


The other morning I was driving along on my way to work, listening to another good sermon on the radio. By the time I was getting close to the office, the signal was starting to cut out. The radio signal apparently comes all the way from St. Louis and reaches to parts of Memphis. This happens each day for me. Some days, If I leave later, I can hear the end of the program. If I leave sooner, I can catch the beginning of the program. Rarely do I leave at the perfect time to catch the whole program. But the other day, I was wishing I could have caught the ending. I was frustrated a little that in the best part of the sermon, the signal was cutting out – actually competing for a more local station. It would come and go, skipping over words and phrases, making it impossible for me to understand what was being said.

It reminded me of the old antenna I still have on my house that brings the TV signal into the TV in my bedroom, and the stereo in my living room. Ever so often, I’ve got to go outside and turn the antenna so that it points to the source. By turning the antenna to the source of the signal, I can get a perfect picture – without any static. With the antenna in my car, I’ve actually got to be within the area of the signal. When my car reaches the limit of the signal, I loose the signal. If I were able to turn back around and head toward the signal’s source, my car would again pick up the signal loud and clear.

So again, to have a good signal in my car depends where I am. In my home, it depends where my antenna is pointing.

Where am I standing at this moment? Am I facing God’s signal source? Or am all I hearing is static? Do I need to go and turn my antenna to face His signal? Or do I need to move closer? Do I need to get out of the area that I’m standing, and move to higher ground? May God grant me the strength and wisdom to always be in His signal, and when things around me distract or compete with His signal, may I turn or move closer to Him.

(sigh) I’ve got to get out there and turn the antenna now, the wind keeps blowing it around.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Water Into Wine

There was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, "They're just about out of wine." Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother - yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me." She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it." Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, "Fill the pots with water." And they filled them to the brim. "Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host," Jesus said, and they did. When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!" This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him. - John 2:1-11

I am always happy when God’s Spirit reveals a little nugget to me. Jesus promised that if we seek for Him, he will reveal himself to us. Luke 11:9; Luke 10:22. I too am always happy to know when God chooses to work on me. I know God continues to shape me and mold me into something that I’ve never been before. Sometimes I feel myself become hardened to his touch – being unwilling to bend or move. Sometimes I feel myself melt in His hands, completely yielding to his touch. Whatever shape, O LORD. Bend me to your will. Make me into your vessel so that I may serve you the way you intend me to.

Have you ever been something that you now look back on in amazement? Maybe something in your past that as you think about, or even see an old photograph, you now have a chuckle at? I can remember a time when I had a head full of hair. I laugh about it now, but I also claim that I’m even better than before, as far as that goes. People can change for either good, or bad. What amazes me about the story of Jesus’ first miracle is the fact that it was a miracle about change. Jesus, the son of God, changed something ordinary, into something extraordinary. Something good was changed into something even better. I compare myself and everyone else who has answered God’s call with these water pots, these jars of clay. God is willing to use us – these jars of clay, for His purpose. Philippians 2:12-13.

Granted, I agree that there are many similar stories that can be learned from this story, but this morning, this is what popped into my head.

God can use you and me, such simple vessels to be filled with something so pure and sweet that we can have powerful influence over the world. How did Jesus demonstrate this? Jesus said this in Mark 10:45. Jesus lived his life perfect and free from sin. Not that we could ever attain to his perfection, but we should strive to follow his example. The apostle Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:5. Paul also states that in his own teachings, he lived a life of servant-hood so that he might have more influence over those whom he taught. 1 Corinthians 9:19.

Dear God my Father, be merciful to me today. LORD, fill me up with your Spirit. Live in me. Move about me and around me, LORD and wash me and cleanse me of my sin. Make me holy, LORD so that you might dwell in me. LORD, change me into something better, for your sake, so that I might have influence over those who do not know you. Use me LORD. Pour me out onto those whom you want to know – onto those who are looking for you and have not yet found you. Amen.

How do you want to go through the rest of this life? Do you want to be a plain person – not having much influence or impact on others? Or do you want to be used by God. My prayer is that God will also touch you, and with His word, fill you with His Spirit so that you may be willing to be used by God. Study the story of Cornelius found in Acts 10:44-48 and witness an excellent example of a changed life. Yes friends, Jesus is still able to turn water into wine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's Seed Planting Time

Last month I started planting lots of seeds for my upcoming flower garden. For me, seeds that are planted and come to life are a reminder that God is our creator, and through His creation we can believe and come to know Him. Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:16.

You can see in the picture above that the plants that are now visible are casting off their old bodies. Do you see the seed shells of the sunflower seeds? They are no longer useful for the new plant that is growing. Just like they, we too will have a new body, and will cast off our old decaying body and be raised a new creation. Thanks to God!

Just like the seed is buried in the garden with hope for a resurrection of a new plant and future harvest, we too are buried with Christ in baptism, the symbol of being buried with Christ. We will also be joined with him in his resurrection. Casting off all unrighteousness, our old bodies which lived a life of sin, are then raised with Christ to live a new life. Romans 6:13

The Apostle Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 when he talks about the familiar practice of farming to the Corinthians when he speaks about sowing seeds into the ground, the seeds rotting and decomposing, but still being far from being permanently destroyed, but instead they grow up into something more beautiful than the seed. Seeds are normally dry and hard, but they spring up green and alive by the power of God. If God is able to demonstrate to us his abilities in the simple lives of seeds, how much more is God able to raise our corruptable decaying bodies from the dead, into a far more excellent body with will not see corruption? I admit, it's hard enough for me to understand much about seeds, and even harder for me to understand about the resurrection. But I believe.

This story brings us back to the Gospel. Christ died for our sins, [just as the scriptures said he would/did] and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day. [just as the scriptures said he would/did] - 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4. The early Christians didn’t understand his purpose for dying, until after he was raised. They came to understand Jesus' burial was a necessary but temporary prelude to his resurrection.

The Apostle Paul takes the connection one step further by applying it to baptism. In Romans 6:3-5, and Colossians 2:12, Paul symbolizes baptism as being buried with Christ. Through faith, Christians are then raised with Christ to walk a new life. So then, burial comes to be connected with the hope of a future resurrection, as shown in proof of Christ burial and resurrection, but also the reality of a new life in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 1 Thessalonians 4:14

Again, praise be to God for the hope that is found only in Christ Jesus! Romans 5:10

So, here’s my recommendation; go to the store and buy a pack of sunflower seeds. Plant the seeds either outside in your garden, or in pots and water them and care for them, and sit back and let God work in those seeds. I want you to witness the resurrection that God will work through those seeds. I want you to know, that you too can have that same hope of being resurrected in the same way those seeds were, and in the same way Jesus Christ was. Jesus went through it for us, as proof that God is faithful and will do the same for us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Do You Have A Giant

Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." - 1 Samuel 17:45-47

For many times, I’ve hesitated to speak about the story of David and Goliath. Figuring it was a story that most everyone had heard before, I figured that I certainly could offer no more than has already been said about the story. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some great sermons in the car while driving to work each morning – a blessing that I’ve certainly come to look forward to. And the other morning, I heard a great lesson about this same story. Like many of you, I’ve heard this story many times, and perhaps heard the same points as this most recent time. But isn’t God’s word wonderful in that each time we hear it, God reveals something new to us that we’ve never thought about before? God’s word is alive and searches the heart to know what we need, when we need it.

This time, God revealed through His word a story that was awesome to me. It’s a story for me, about who should fight my battles – me or God. It’s a story for me, about who I trust more – me or God. It’s a story for me, about who I fear more – others or God. It’s a story for me, about who I should listen to and follow – others or God. It’s a story for me, about facing giants – and how much power they have over me.

The story is laid out in 1 Samuel 17 and is told that the army of the Philistines lined up on one side of a mountain facing a valley on which the Israelites lined up across the valley on the opposing mountain side. The giant Goliath came out and with loud and proud talk, harassed the Israelites and challenged them to fight a one-on-one battle with him. “If anyone can defeat me, we’ll call it quits and serve you. If I defeat your champion, then all of you can serve us. There’s no need for all of us to fight, only one of you and me can settle this and the rest of us and you can be spared.” Goliath did this for 40 days. Goliath had already defeated the whole army of God’s people on the very first day. Every man had given up. Every man had already determined that someone else besides himself should head out there to defeat Goliath, but it wasn’t going to be “me”. Every man had also listened to the other man, and that man was telling him there’s not a man in our camp who can defeat this Goliath. We’re all doomed. Can’t you just hear God sigh?

God had already been working in the life of David. God had already been showing His young servant – a man after His own heart, that He will work through him. David loved it to. David loved to be used by God. David was going to let God use him again, and this time God was going to show a lot of people a great lesson. In fact, God is still using David even today, to teach us the same lessons.

Goliath had already defeated God’s army, the Israelites by his bluffs. Goliath was dressed for battle, wearing all the proper armor, helmet, leg and arm guards, shield, sword, and spear in hand. Goliath was an awesome sight to behold. One look at him, and everyone cowered in fear with trembling. Then Goliath spoke and intimidated them even further.

The Israelites also defeated themselves from the beginning in the fact that never once in the story did they call upon God to rescue them from this champion. Never once in the story did they call back to Goliath in the name of the LORD. But in every time, they considered Goliath too big of a match for just one person, too big for themselves individually, so much so that this battle was over even before it began. The Israelites also defeated each other because as each man looked at each other, they admitted that this champion was too much for their friend or partner to go up too as well. In fact, see what King Saul told David in 1 Samuel 17:33 "You are not able to go..." This is the saying that went throughout the whole camp. “You are not able to go, and I am not able to go. Who is able to go?” They were defeated and defeated themselves.

But God used David to show the Israelites and the Philistines that with man nothing is possible, but with God all things are possible. Luke 18:27 David also would not allow anyone to tell him otherwise. David would not listen to the cancerous talk that had filled the camp with fear and strangled it from allowing God to work through them. No, David knew that with God’s help, God would defeat this small giant, because David worshipped a God that was much bigger than this small giant. David worshipped a God that made the heavens and the earth, and there was nothing that could stand in His way. 1 Samuel 17:37

We know the rest of the story. We know that God used such a small boy, a boy that men did not put their trust in, to defeat a giant. David put his trust in God, and God worked wonders that day through him. Do we face giants in our own lives? Do we allow ourselves to convince us into failure? Do we allow others to convince us into failure? Do we turn everything over to God and trust in Him to fight our battles? Do I trust in myself more than I do in God, thereby defeating myself even before the battle has started? Do I fear what others might say or do I fear what God might say? Whom should I fear more? Do I listen to and follow those who trust more in themselves, more than they do in God? Do I realize that God is in control, and there is no one bigger than God?

Turn your giant over to God, and give your complete faith in Him. Do like David did. Read this story again and remember it. God left us this story for that very reason.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lord, Increase My Faith

At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them [the disciples in the boat] walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid." Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come ahead." But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!" Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" ("Your faith is so small!" he said. "Why did you doubt me?" (NIRV)) The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, "This is it! You are God's Son for sure!" Matthew 14:25-33 - The Message

Have you ever found yourself alone and afraid? Or even in a moment in life where you were vulnerable to danger or despair? I can remember as I was growing up when my parents started leaving me briefly “home alone” on occasions. It was a good learning experience and a way to develop my independence and maturity. But at times, especially after dark, my mind started creating scenarios and events that likely would not happen, but filled me with fear regardless. If I acted properly and my parents saw that I could be trusted, then they would continue to trust me with bigger and better things – more responsibility. If I acted improperly and my parents learned that I could not be trusted, then it would be a while before they would trust me with this responsibility again. This is great learning tool that can be taught and practiced by parents to help train their kids up in the Lord. And, I believe it is also a tool used by our heavenly father to His children even today.

By reading a few verses that preceded the above text in Matthew 14, we find that Jesus and the disciples had a huge day. It was already getting late in the day even before Jesus had fed the 5,000 men and their families. But even after the supper that more than likely took a few hours, Jesus told the disciples to “go on ahead of him” v. 22 by boat to the other side of the sea of Galilee. Jesus then dismissed the crowd and went up on a mountain alone to pray. It was dark. Here at this time, Jesus had purposely left his disciples alone, vulnerable and even possibly afraid. Jesus may have even stirred up the winds that now were pushing the boat all around, and were also stirring up the sea and tossing the boat up and down.

Why would Jesus possibly do this or cause this to happen? (If he did in fact plan this – and I’m only guessing that he did) Jesus could possibly be testing his closest follower’s faith. He had just miraculously fed over 5,000 people, maybe double that number due to the women and children. Had they even noticed this miracle? Or had they quickly forgotten his concern and care for this crowd because now they were facing a real storm in their lives. That’s my best guess. Jesus was no where to be seen, they were alone, in a boat, on the water, in a wind storm, with large waves crashing all around. I’d be scared too. But then again, Jesus might also rebuke me in the same way as he did his disciples, “Your faith is small, and why did you doubt me?”

Please note, that Jesus did not call them faithless or without faith. But Jesus rebuked them for their forgetfulness, since they were a witness to many miraculous events by his own hand. Even though Jesus had left them alone for a time, and allowed troubled waters to buffet them and bring about fear, Jesus was there. Even further, Peter boldly tested this ghost’s claim of being Jesus, by saying something rash and impetuous. “If you are Jesus, command me to come to you. Because I know my Jesus would not let me sink and drown.” The ghost said, “Come.” Peter gets out and makes his way to this ghost. “It’s going pretty good so far. Wait a second,” Peter said, “I’m walking on water. This can’t be right.” And he starts to sink. The moment Peter starts to think, he starts to sink. The closer Peter got to Jesus, his more his faith was leaving him. Jesus was there. As soon as Peter cried out to Jesus, Jesus immediately reached “down” and gripped him, lifting him up out of the water, placing his feet on the water, and holding him as they walked to the boat. Jesus was there.

Now I wonder, if this story were to be repeated later in Peter’s life, how would it play out? I believe Peter and the others learned a great deal that night. I believe that Peter and the others learned to trust Jesus to save them, in good times or bad. I believe that their faith grew greatly that night so that they would not doubt Jesus that way again. How about you? How about me? Do I feel like I’m being tested? Do I know or remember that God is always there for me? Isaiah 59:1. Do I remember God’s promise that He will hear those who call Him in truth? Psalms 145:18. I’m also learning that God brings His children up with proper and righteous training. God’s working on me and others. James 1:2-4 I pray that I might be strengthened, that my faith and reliance upon God will grow, and that I might pass the test and be blessed even more abundantly afterward.

If I can learn to trust God to take care of me, to put my complete trust and faith in him, to seek after the kingdom of God and after His righteousness, then God will bless me with all I need. Matthew 6:33. Matthew 6:25-34.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Seeking The Lost

Yesterday at work, I started singing this great old song that popped into my head. I hadn’t sung it in a while, but it really was a great encouragement for me. The song was Seeking the Lost written by William A. Ogden in 1886 at the age of 45 years old. The song is a tender song showing the passion that Jesus had when he came into the world to bring salvation to mankind. He knew full well that most of the whole world would reject him, but he knew that there were those who would accept him. Luke 19:10. Remember too that Jesus himself told those who felt like they did not need him; to those who felt like they were already righteous and saved, the He did not come for them, but for those only who needed salvation. Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17.

The song is a song of compassion that we too should have as children of God for those who do not yet know Jesus, for those who are searching for a purpose in their lives, and for those who simply choose to live in sin – outside of the hope of Jesus. The song sings of a dedication that one might feel about going far and wide for those in sin – whatever it may take, however far one might need to go to bring an erring brother or sister in Christ back into the body – to once again reunite with the church so that the body might be made stronger. The song is also a gentle reminder that Jesus, the only son of God came to this earth to be the only sacrifice that would be capable of paying the debt of sin to which we all owe. Otherwise, our wretched life of sin would go unpaid and unforgiven. Romans 7:24, Hebrews 9:28, Revelation 5:12. It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive. Jesus Christ is the world’s redeemer.

Unfortunately, there are billions of people in this world who have never heard the good story. There are billions of people who are lost, and do not even realize their dreadful condition. The writer of the song further describes that we should be busy “pointing the way” to Jesus. Romans 15:18. My only hope is You, Jesus. All that I need is You, Jesus.

The song also gives a subtle hint that those in the world who live without Jesus are simply wanderers in this world, like the sheep without a shepherd, not knowing how to take care of themselves, going around in circles without someone to lead them. Jeremiah 50:6, Ezekiel 34:6. The song also sings about those who have given up, who are weak, who are hurting, who have been through so much without much support from others. It’s sometimes hard to put our trust and hope in others, because we often times let each other down. We cannot always be there for each other. But the song sings and reminds us that we can put our hope and trust in God. Matthew 11:28.

The song reminds us too that salvation is not found in us, but in our message. The message of the gospel is not about who baptized us, it’s not about how good we claim to be or how we can somehow earn our own salvation. The message of the gospel is about Jesus. It’s about having faith in Jesus. It’s about following Jesus. It’s about learning from Jesus. It’s about having Jesus as our perfect example. It’s about having the same love for others that Jesus had for us. It’s about Jesus. John 14:6.

The song is a major influence to me and also reminds me that our walk with Him is not always an easy walk. Not only should we seek the lost, but we should also take time to strengthen each other in Christ. Encourage our church family, the body of Christ both when we’re strong but especially when we’re weak. Remind each other that we’re stronger when we’re together. Tell each other that we remember each other daily in our prayers. Allow Christ, God, and His Spirit to dwell in us. Allow His Spirit to work in us and let His Spirit use us to further edify each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Galatians 6:2.

Seeking the lost, yes, kindly entreating
Wanderers on the mountain astray;
“Come unto Me,” His message repeating,
Words of the Master speaking today.

Seeking the lost and pointing to Jesus
Souls that are weak and hearts that are sore,
Leading them forth in ways of salvation,
Showing the path to life evermore.

Thus would I go on missions of mercy,
Following Christ from day unto day,
Cheering the faint and raising the fallen,
Pointing the lost to Jesus, the Way.


Going afar
Upon the mountain
Bringing the wanderer back again
Into the fold
Of my Redeemer
Jesus the Lamb for sinners slain.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Most every year, I seem to get a good dose of Poison Ivy. I haven’t gotten it yet this year, but the past couple of years I always seem to get it during the winter months. For those of you who have never had Poison Ivy, let me explain that you don’t even need to touch or handle the plant to get it. In fact the past several years I’ve gotten it, has been thanks to my oldest son who’s “given” it to me. You see, my son loves to go out into the fields and woods behind our house and build club-houses and just hang out and explore. Then, when he comes home, he unknowingly “gives” me this pestilence. The allergens from the plant are all over his clothes. Sometimes I can just touch his clothes, other times the allergens just travel through the air and get on me. I don’t even realize what has happened until the next day when I start to see the reaction on my skin, and the unmistakable itching that comes with the reaction.

I’ve been thinking for a while about things in my own life, that I’ve been “carrying” around, and how it affects others around me. Do I offend others knowingly? Do I offend others unknowingly? Do I continue to carry things around in my life even if I know that it affects others? Or do I try to remove the exposed and filthy clothing and clean up my life so that I no longer offend? Or, am I satisfied with my situation and care not how I might affect my brother or sister in Christ? I would say that over the past couple of years, I have made a very strong effort to remove those infected clothes that I’ve been wearing – those hypocritical garments that were stained with sin. The Lord has been working on me and in me and has shown me that “His grace was sufficient for me.” I’ve been learning that on my own, I cannot stand perfect in front of God, but it’s only through being immersed into his blood, by partaking of the only sacrifice that can remove my sins that I’m able to stand in front of God – with confidence knowing that when He looks at me he does not see my sins, but He sees His own son’s blood covering my body.

Yes. I sin. I sin every day, unfortunately with this or that. With one thing or another, whether it’s doing something I shouldn’t or not doing something I should. But, what matters is that I should not feel hopeless, helpless, and simply give up trying. It’s when I’ve given up that Satan has won the battle. It’s the point when I stop trying or caring that Jesus’ blood no longer covers me. It’s those times in my life when I infect others with my wrongs and cause someone to stumble that affect me the most. I feel the worst when I’ve done something either to someone or around someone and made that person think less of me.

Remember the story found in Luke 7:36-50 when a Pharisee [considered himself righteous by his strict obedience to the old law (legalism)] invited Jesus to his house for dinner. When a sinful woman who lived in the town heard that Jesus was there, she came to the home, knelt down and began crying and kissing Jesus’ feet – pouring her tears onto his feet, scrubbing his feet with her hair, then anointing his feet with expensive perfume. When the Pharisee saw what was going on, he watched and waited to see what would happen. I could also see in my minds eye, that as she walked in, he took a deep breath and held it - so as not to become infected. He knew the history of this woman. He knew that she carried around sin in her life just like an infected person carries around sickness or allergens that might also infect others. But he waited to see what Jesus would do with her. You see, these Pharisees would not even come close to a woman like this for fear of being “contaminated” and “associated” with this sinful person. In their own minds, the “righteous” Pharisees should not even be around this “sinner”, and they thought that neither should Jesus. But by her act of repentance, by her sacrifice and offering to Jesus, by her great love that she gave the son of God, Jesus was moved with compassion for this person. He forgave her sins. Again, in my own mind, all those Pharisees finally collapsed and fell out from holding their breathe so long.

Father God, Holy God, Lord, I come to you today as this woman has. I humbly come to your feet, knowing that I am a sinner unfit to approach you, Lord. I am thankful, Lord that you are our father, that you are compassionate with us, longsuffering with us. I am thankful that you care enough for us to prepare a way for us to be made whole in your sight. Thank you for sending your only son – Jesus to be our perfect sacrifice. And thank you Lord Jesus for loving your father and being completely obedient to Him. Thank you Jesus for loving us, and for being willing to suffer humiliation and pain on our behalf. Lord, I realize that the suffering you went through was not because you deserved it, but because of my sinful nature. You died in my place, so that I could stand redeemed in front of God our father. Lord, forgive me of my sinful nature. Forgive me when I sin and become covered in filth. Forgive me when I carry that filth around and expose it to others, Lord. Lord, wash me and cover me with your blood so that I can stand pure in front of others, so that when they look at me, they can also see you living in me. Thank you, Lord for your forgiveness, and for your Love. In the name of the one who has redeemed me, Jesus Christ our Lord – Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Baby Feet

Feet are funny, feet are fat.
Some are White, Red, Tan, or Black.
Feet can run, and feet can jump,
Feet can smell just like a skunk.
Brand new feet are soft and cuddly,
Older feet are hard and crusty.
Brand new feet must walk on grass,
Older feet can walk on glass.
Oh, to have the feet of a child,
To be a youngster, meek and mild.
To put away my older habits,
And run and play like baby rabbits.
If I could make my feet brand new,
I’m sure my heart would soften too.
I’d rather not be old and calloused,
But young at heart, filled with softness.
When I can forget the wrongs to me,
And focus on the good in thee.
When I can realize that I’ve done wrong,
And my conscious will be loud and strong.
Give me a soft heart oh God,
And watch over me, wherever I trod.
Make my heart a useful tool,
And bless my tired worn out feet too.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus. They asked him, "Who is the most important person in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus called a little child over to him. He had the child stand among them. Jesus said, "What I'm about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don't, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who becomes as free of pride as this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. "But what if someone leads one of these little ones who believe in me to sin? If he does, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned at the bottom of the sea. - Matthew 18:1-6

People were bringing little children to Jesus. They wanted him to touch them. But the disciples told the people to stop. When Jesus saw this, he was angry. He said to his disciples, "Let the little children come to me. Don't keep them away. God's kingdom belongs to people like them. What I'm about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God's kingdom like a little child will never enter it." Then he took the children in his arms. He put his hands on them and blessed them. - Mark 10:13-16
Am I listening to what God is saying in His Word?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

God - Our Provider

God works in wonderful ways. It’s hard or even impossible for me to understand. But I’ve seen things in my own life – after the fact that I look back and say, wow! It gives me chills down my back to realize that at that time, when I didn’t even realize it, God was directing me. And I shutter to think of the outcome had it not been for Him being beside me. I’d rather not get off on trying to explain tragic events in peoples life – because I know they do happen. But I also see in mine and in others life – a chain of events that can only be explained as the providence of God. Praise Him!

Over the past couple of years, I was introduced to an older man at church, Mr. Rufus Organ. He went out of his way to make it a point to introduce himself to me, and I’ve been great full ever since. Mr. Rufus will be 73 this month. He’s lived an ordinary life, and he and his wife are now retired and live in Earle. He used to carry the mail out in Earle. Mr. Rufus hasn’t slowed down yet though – he’s one of the hardest working men I know. He’s sort of a do-all man, and can practically do any kind of handy work on your house. He can build anything you need. But mostly he spends his time during the day in painting people’s house.

I don’t know all the details, so I’m just recounting all of this from my perspective. Last Spring, Earle had a tornado come through and destroy some homes and businesses. A few months before the tornado, there was a lady who lived in Earle who had just lost her husband. Then, she lost her home by the tornado. Mr. Rufus felt so bad for this lady and his loving heart went out to this person. He decided to make it his project to help this lady put her home back together again. What I find amazing is that I felt like I had known Mr. Rufus very well during this time, but for six to eight months during this home’s reconstruction, I never knew the first thing about what he had been spending his time doing. You see Mr. Rufus apparently is a quiet kind of guy. There’s no bragging or showing off with him. Matthew 6:1. Every time I would talk to him about his day, it was just the standard line of, “Oh, I’ve been painting here, or painting there.” In fact, Mr. Rufus did spend a lot of his time during the day alone, painting houses here and there.

Last month, a large group of men finally discovered what he had been doing – although it had been known by a few for a while. One of the men from our church organized a work day to help and paint as much of the house and clean up the yard out there in a day. The lady, the owner of the house had always been overwhelmed at Mr. Rufus’ generosity, but I heard that day, she was so overwhelmed her and her mother could not hold back their tears. Through tragedy comes an opportunity to serve. Thankfully this lady was not hurt during the storm. But God saved her and showed her love through hundreds of people. Many companies have donated their time, money, expertise, equipment, supplies, and material to get her house back in order. It is so overwhelming to be used by God. At the end of every day, to drive away with a huge grin on your face knowing that you helped someone in need is so rewarding – and hundreds of people experienced that feeling when they went out there to help. Again I say, “Praise God!”

New Years weekend, my friend Mr. Rufus and his wife headed down to Dallas for a niece’s wedding. They drove the whole trip in one day, with few stops in between. In fact, I’m not sure that they even stopped for lunch. Upon arriving at the hotel, Mr. Rufus was wheeling his luggage into the hotel room when he suddenly had to stop. He couldn’t breathe. He made it into his room, but realized that he was in some trouble. He started getting scared and nervous and so he was taken to the hospital and they started working on him right away. All they could tell at the moment was that he was having irregular heart beats. After the doctors got him settled down and up into a room, his wife was checking on him. Suddenly she wasn’t feeling good either. She needed to go out in the hall for some fresh air. She fainted right in front of the nurse’s station. They rushed her down to emergency to check her out. She was worn out tired and stressed over her husband. She told me that she hadn’t eaten yet that day because they had planned to eat once they got into town. They got her fixed up and wheeled her into the room across from the hall from her husband. What a way to spend the weekend – cooped up in the hospital away from home.

As Mr. Rufus was telling all of this to me, I just felt so bad for both of them. But then I heard, “the rest of the story.”

On their way down there – while they were still in Arkansas, their daughter called them on their cell. She was checking where they were by then, and was toying around with the idea that she might like to head down there with them and go to the wedding. Mr. Rufus and his wife had already passed their daughters house by some distance, so their daughter told them not to worry about turning back around for her. After they hung up, Mr. Rufus felt compelled to turn around anyway and go and pick up their daughter to take her with them. If she was willing to go, then they were more than willing to take her with them.

So it was there on the sidewalk, as he pushed the cart of luggage up to their room, when he stopped in his tracks and could go no further that his wife and daughter were there to help him up to his room, and wheel the cart up in afterwards. They were also there at the hotel with other family that had driven in for the wedding that weekend. Mr. Rufus was surrounded by family that was able to take care of him, and help him head to the hospital. Did I mention that the hospital was right across the street from their hotel? It was also fortunate that their daughter and other family were there when Mrs. Organ collapsed in the hospital hallway – not to mention the fact that maybe the best place to collapse is in a hospital. So, their daughter pulled up a chair, and sat in the middle of the hallway between her Dad and Mom’s room – going from one room to the next for that night and next day. Do you have chills running down your back yet? I still do.

Let’s talk a little about God now, or Yahweh Yireh which is translated as God our Provider. Since God sees the future as well as the past and the present, he is able to anticipate and provide for what is needed. Interestingly the English word “provision” is made up of two Latin words that mean “to see beforehand.” Listen friends, when Mr. Rufus asked me to remember them in prayer that weekend, and also when they prayed that morning asking God for a safe trip, God who sees the situation beforehand and who is able to provide – worked in wonderful ways that day.

Genesis 22:1-14 tells us the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Genesis 22:2 says that God told Abraham to go and offer his only son, whom he loved. Abraham was faithful and went – knowing that God would provide. When asked by his son Isaac, “Father, where is the sacrifice”, his father said this in Genesis 22:8. After Abraham showed to God that he was faithful, God showed to Abraham that He was also faithful by providing an alternative to his son. Genesis 22:14.

Again, I cannot understand or even explain God’s help for us today – physically. I’ve seen it happen. But I’ve also seen tragedy too. I do know that God is more interested in our spiritual welfare and desires that we all be saved. But I do also believe that He works through us and in us to bless us and others. Just like examples found in the bible of God’s work through man in the many miracles that we read about today as found in the NT, God works in ways to build us up and increases our faith. When Mr. Rufus told me this story, all I could do was shake my head and grin, and then we offered up a prayer together praising Him for being our provider.

Ephesians 5:1, 2