Friday, June 29, 2007

Bearing the burdens of others...

Today, I came across something in my daily devotional that really struck me. I seems that this week I have been struggling with some problems that have been rather annoying, and this devotion really convicted me. Perhaps you will get something from it as well… It is from Experiencing God Day-by-Day, by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby, and it’s titled Bearing One Another’s Burdens:

When God places people in your life who are in need, He is aware of what they lack, and He knows He has given you the resources to meet those needs. You know God does nothing by accident. When a need surfaces around you, immediately go to the Father and say, “You put me here for a reason. You knew this was going to happen. What did You intend to do through me that would help this person become closer to
You?”

Recognizing a need in someone’s life can be one of the greatest invitations from God you will ever experience. It’s easy to become frustrated by the problems of others. They can overwhelm you as you become aware of need after need. Rather than looking at each new problem as one more drain on your time, energy, or finances, ask God why He placed you in this situation. Allow God to help you see beyond the obvious needs of others to the things he wants to accomplish in their lives. Don’t miss God’s activity because you’re reluctant to carry the load of others.

Is God blessing you materially? It may be He is developing a “supply depot” in your life through which He can provide for others. Has God granted you a strong, healthy family life? It may be that He requires such a home to minister to the hurting families around you. Has God released you from sinful habits? Has God’s peace comforted you in a time of great sorrow? Has God miraculously provided for your needs? It may be that He has been purposefully building things into your life so that you can now be the kind of person who will carry the burdens of others.

I have to confess, that I have frustrated by the problems of others. Perhaps God has placed me in this position to help them overcome their problems, and experience Him in a new way. Perhaps you have read this, and something struck a chord, and you may now know how to reach out to someone in a way different than you have in the past, a way that will minister to them.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Side by Side...

I found this poem, forwarded to me from email ministry. This should give food for thought...

They lie on the table side by side,
The Holy Bible and the TV guide.

One is well worn and cherished with pride,
Not the Bible . . . but the TV guide.

One is used daily to help folks decide,
No, not the Bible . . . but the TV guide.

As the pages are turned, what shall they see,
Oh, what does it matter, turn on the TV.

Then confusion reigns, they can't all agree,
On what they should watch on the old TV.

So they open the book in which they confide,
No, not the Bible . . . but the TV guide.
The Word of God is seldom read,
Maybe a verse as they fall into bed.

Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be,
Not from reading the Bible . . . from watching TV.

So then back to the table side by side,
Lie the Holy Bible and the TV guide.

No time for prayer, no time for the Word,
The plan of Salvation is seldom heard.

But forgiveness of sin, so full and free,
Is found in the Bible . . . not on TV.

-- Author Unknown

In your house, which is more used, the Bible or the TV Guide?

Congratulations Dave & Crystal!

I had the honor to officiate at a wedding last weekend for my niece and her now husband.

What a great day, the weather was great, we had a wonderful service, and the celebration afterward was fitting of the event itself.

These two are great people, and I pray that God will grant them a long and happy life together!

Congratulations Dave & Crystal!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A thought on worry...


I’ve been worrying lately. There is a situation in my wife’s family that has caused a rift, and I am really worrying about it. I’m not going to get into details, but I don’t know what to do, if anything, about it.

Since this has started, I’ve heard (over and over again) those passages that talk about giving our concerns over to Jesus, and for the most part, I do that. But I also remember Rick Warren’s quote in The Purpose Driven Life, “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” Perhaps I’m dropping this concern at the altar, only to pick it up again as I leave.

I’m not unusual. Many of you may do the same thing. Many are filled with worry, when we should be enjoying the fruits of the Spirit. In my quite time this morning, I came across the passage in Matthew commonly called the parable of the sower. In this parable, we see that the seed of the kingdom is scattered to all. But many don’t receive it. Some of the seed feel among thorns, where it grew, but the weeds and thorns choked it out. Later in the passage, Jesus explains this to His disciples. “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

As I was thinking on this passage, I began to see how worry chokes us of the Spirit and makes us unfruitful. Am I being unfruitful because of this family concern? Is God withholding fruit because of my worry? Are you as fruitful as you could be, or is worry choking your fruit as well?

There is another verse we can cling to, from Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Let’s all of us, you and me, allow God to work through these things that worry us, that good might come of them. Let’s let go and let God work.


I know it’s a lot easier to say than to do this, but we can, if we are confident in God’s word to bear fruit in our souls. One thing for sure, our worrying can’t help the situation. It only hinders God’s work.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I'm only human...

I caught myself uttering these words yesterday, and afterward thought about what God must think of our making that excuse.

It's usually when we can't keep up with something, or we find it extremely difficult to do something, or when we outright fail. We're only human, after all...

But does God see that as somehow justifying our behavior? Does God realize that humans are imperfect creatures? He certainly didn't make us that way! We were created in the very image of God. We are as perfect a creature as God has made.

Next time you are tempted to say you're only human, think about what it means to be human, to be made in God's image, with the free will to follow Him and be in fellowship with Him. Being "only human" is one of the greatest blessings we have. It's not a curse.

And maybe when we fail, we should remind ourselves that we are fallen, that we are sinful. We weren't made that way. That's where any curse might come from, from deep within ourselves, our sinfulness.

Isn't it great that we are "only human." Isn't it a shame we couldn't stay that way. Maybe with the help of the Holy Spirit, God will help us act as human as he intended us to be...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Life seems unfair...

Have you ever wondered why some seem to get everything they need and much more, and others seem to struggle for every little thing? Doesn’t the whole thing seem so unfair at times?

I suppose you’ve felt that way from time to time. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the unfairness of life, and wondered why God seems to allow this.

I don’t write this to give you any answers today. Because I have to admit that I don’t understand it myself. Sometimes I see sinful people get so much, and righteous, God-fearing people that don’t have anywhere near enough, and it makes me ask “Why, God?”

And I have to admit that hasn’t answered that question to me yet. I know that it’s a question that many others have asked, and I bet that they haven’t received an answer to their question either. But I have found a passage in Scripture that reminds that God is in charge. That he is aware of the unfairness here, and in the end it will be okay.

The passage involves John the Baptist and some of his followers. After John had baptized Jesus, Jesus and some of his followers also baptized people in the Jordan. And it got to the point where far more people were going to Jesus than were coming to John. Some of John’s followers thought this was very unfair, and so they brought it to John’s attention and asked him about it.

John was very wise, and knew that Jesus was the Christ, and replied in John 3:27, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” We can’t know why God chooses to bless some and not bless others. But we can know that God has a reason for those he blesses.

And that in the end, we can only receive what is given to us from heaven.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are we relevant?

There is article in the latest REV! magazine that indicates that after decades of talking about the church being relevant to people, particularly to our youth, most churches aren’t any further along than they were at the end of the 20th century.

I was thinking about that, and I suppose that many in our community would agree with that statement. And as much as we do to try to be relevant, in the end, we are still perceived as not being terribly relevant.

But on the other hand, most in our church would disagree, and claim that we are very relevant. The church holds the answers to many of the struggles we face. More specifically (I hope) that Christ has the power to transform us from our pain and trials into lives of hope and peace in the midst of chaos. I agree with them.

Yet I also agree with those who still hold that the church is irrelevant. I think that both statements are true to an extent. Perhaps this is another example of perception being everything. For those that are outside the church, and have not benefited from the church, they find us irrelevant to their daily lives. Yet for those who have had contacts with the church, or are part of our church family, they see how relevant we can be.

After all, we have a food pantry that feeds the hungry, we have a Samaritans Loft that houses the homeless, we have many outreaches that help those outside the church know that we care – Valentines Share Boxes, Memorial Day Remembrances, Funeral Dinners for families who have lost a loved one, Prayer and Visitation ministries, sponsoring families at Christmas time, Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Boxes that reach children all over the world. How much more relevant can you be than these? We reach out and touch people when they are hurting and when they need help the most.

Perhaps the bigger issue is how are we communicating this to people outside the church? How do we let them know? How can we be relevant to those that we aren’t currently relevant to? I would love to hear your thoughts…

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Seeing the living Christ

I was very blessed in that I grew up in the church. Perhaps you have grown up in the church – you were blessed, too. I say I was blessed because I learned growing up about God, and about His love for me, his love for each of us. I grew up knowing what He expected of me, I grew up knowing the basic fundamentals for a life of faith.

I didn’t always do them. There was time I wandered away, and didn’t always do what I knew I should do. But because I grew up in the church, I had the fundamentals in place, and I knew what I had to do to get right God.

Many don’t have that foundation. Many are wandering through life with no moral compass, no foundation of faith, no idea how to be right with God. And with all of that comes no hope. Probably the most serious of these is no hope. Our streets are full of people with no hope. Christ brings hope.

The Apostle Paul had a foundation, but he found out that it was the wrong foundation. He persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. He was advancing Judaism and was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers. But he found out that these traditions were not godly traditions. He didn’t know God. He thought he did. But his actions were actually taking him farther from God.

Do have a firm foundation of faith? Do you Scripture, and believe it all – or does some not really agree with what you believe? Could your foundations be faulty like Paul’s were? Pray that Christ might reveal himself to you. After seeing Jesus, Paul was never the same. When Jesus reveals himself to you, you will change, too!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Peace


I wonder how much there is truly is in the world today.

I know that we see the news each evening and see the wars, persecutions all over the globe, violent crimes in our own neighborhoods, and we might easily question whether there is any peace anywhere.

But I wonder if real peace isn’t found out there somewhere. Maybe it’s found inside, deep inside, those who seek it.

I think maybe peace is something like joy or happiness. It isn’t dependant on what others do for us, or to us. It isn’t dependant on circumstances that are outside our control. Those who need the circumstances to line up, need others to do things, or need things to make them complete, aren’t really happy. Even if they get everything they want, they will one day find something else they want, and once again, won’t be happy until they get it. Real happiness and joy comes from within. People who are genuinely happy don’t need things. They don’t need circumstances to line up just right. Their happiness comes from deep inside, and others can’t take it away.

I think peace is like that. We can be at peace with our neighbors, regardless of what our neighbors do. Sometimes it’s difficult, but I think that’s why it has to come from within. Too much can happen on the outside – peace from the outside doesn’t last. Peace from deep within does.

The question, I suppose, is where does that peace come from, and why don’t more people have it? Peace is listed in Galatians chapter 5 as a fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said, in John chapter 14, “Peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you.” In light of these passages, I would have to say that peace comes from God. It is one of those “fruits” that comes when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It comes from faith in God, through Jesus the Son. It is a gift.

Cherish this peace. Don’t let outside circumstances rob you of your peace. Your peace is a gift from God and is as valuable as any other gift you’ve ever received.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Homeostasis


HOMEOSTASIS: is the property of an open system, especially living organisms, to regulate its internal environment to maintain a stable, constant condition, by means of multiple dynamic equilibrium adjustments, controlled by interrelated regulation mechanisms. Simply put: people and systems of people (churches) often work hard to avoid change EVEN if change is inevitable.

I came across this definition last week, and I thought it was worth taking a look at. It sounds terribly difficult to understand, but to try to put a little simpler, people fight all change as a way to regulate their environment. When things seem out of control, people do everything they can to hang on to what they are used to. It’s the only thing they may be able to control.

The problem is, when things are out of control, often change is required to restore control, and resisting change, though very natural, may tend to keep things out of control.

To apply this to churches, declining attendance in mainline denominational churches is one of the biggest threats to the church, at least here in America. In order to halt that decline, change is desperately needed. Yet churches resist that change at all costs. Many churches actually close, rather than change.


I find this very sad. The body of Christ is suffering because some churches in the body resist change. But God is bringing restoration and new life to those churches that will change. Which church is more like your church?

Friday, June 1, 2007

God's Choice


Today's thought is the last of our reflections from the book, God’s Blessing for You. This one is also by Max Lucado, and is also from his book, The Great House of God.

“Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. (Eph. 1:3-5 NLT)

“And you thought God adopted you because you were good looking. You thought he needed your money or your wisdom. Sorry. God adopted you simply because he wanted to.

“You were in his good will and pleasure. Knowing full well the trouble you would be and the price he would pay, he signed his name next to yours and changed your name to his and took you home. Your Abba adopted you and became your Father.

“You and I both know that an adoption is not something we earn; it’s something we receive. To be adopted into a family is not a feat one achieves, but rather a gift one accepts.

“The parents are the active ones. Adoption agencies don’t train children to recruit parents; they seek parents to adopt children. The parents make the call and fill out the papers and endure the interviews and pay the fee and wait and wait. Can you imagine prospective parents saying, ‘We’d like to adopt Johnny, but first we want to know a few things. Does he have a house to live in? Does he have money for tuition? Does he have a ride to school every morning and clothes to wear every day? Can he prepare his own meals and mend his own clothes?’

“No agency would stand for such talk. Its representative would lift her hand and say, ‘Wait a minute. You don’t understand. You don’t adopt Johnny because of what he has; you adopt him because of what he needs. He needs a home.’

“The same is true with God. He doesn’t adopt us because of what we have. He doesn’t give us his name because of our wit or wallet or good attitude. Paul states it twice because he is doubly concerned that we understand that adoption is something we receive, not something we earn.

“God is no fair-weather Father. He’s not into this love-‘em and leave-‘em stuff. I can count on him to be in my corner no matter how I perform. You can, too.

“Your Father will never turn you away. It is right to call him Holy; we speak truth when we call him King. But if you want to touch his heart, use the name he loves to hear.

“Call him Father.”

God's Omnipotence and Omnipresence

Food for thought... Last Sunday we had a visitor in services.  After service he came forward and introduced himself and told me he had h...