Sunday, September 30, 2012

Try something New

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. —Mark Twain

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fighter Verse For Today!!

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won't leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord's house is finished. 1 Chronicles 28:20 (HCSB)
These are the words of an aging, dying King David, to Solomon, his young and inexperienced son.

Notice the relationship to being and doing:
be strong, be courageous
so that...

You can do the work (God's work).

Why? Because we cannot accomplish anything of value as long as we are overcome with fear and discouragement.

God is with you...
God is committed to you...
God will never leave you or forsake you until the work he has for you is finished.
God will gather all the resources of heaven to ensure that this happens.

So whoever you are, where ever you are, what ever you are doing...
leading a church
preparing sermons
starting a project
dealing with failure...

Remember, what you are going through is not unique to you. Many people are dealing with the same challenges you face. Don't pity yourself. Take your eyes off yourself and fix your gaze on Jesus, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despised its shame and is now seated at God's right hand (Hebrews 12:2).


Friday, September 28, 2012

Slow to anger

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19: 11

What ticks you off? What pushes your button and makes you seethe with anger?

Scripture reminds us that anger has its place (Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26). Some things are worth getting angry about: children being abused, teens dying in the streets of America, war, destruction of our natural resources, extortion of the poor, are just some of the things that should make us angry.

But really, how many of us spend our days angry over these injustices? Unfortunately, most of us spend our time angry that our favorite team lost a close game; or we are angry that someone said a bad word about us. Some people are are angry because they were stuck in traffic, or had to wait in line at the store.

Remember what James said,  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
(James 1:20 ESV)
I love today's verse from Proverbs. It suggests that we have a choice; we can exercise God's wisdom in the situations that might trip us up and lead to anger. We can also overlook an offense. We don't have to be angry at the things people throw our way.

And this reminder:  A man or woman without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28 ESV)

As you go through this day, remember Jesus before his accusers. People told lies about him, they mocked him, physically abused him and yet he did not retaliate. May the transforming mind of Christ fill each us with peace, love, and joy in the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The cost of family violence

He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother
is a son (or daughter) who brings shame and reproach. Proverbs 19:26

Proverbs is one of my favorite books in the bible because it is loaded with practical wisdom for daily living. Consider reading a chapter each day and in 31 days you will finish the entire book.

The verse above is an example of the wisdom of this great book. Long before family violence became the epidemic that it is today, the writer of Proverbs recognized the causes, the consequences and what must be done to avoid this sinful scourge.

My father died about sixteen years ago and I wish he was still with me. During my teen years I did not have a harmonious relationship with my father. But when I became a follower of Christ, I realized that by honoring my father and mother, I was honoring the Lord. Becoming a believer renovated my attitude toward my parents. I would do anything to have another chance to honor my father. I know that one day I will see him in glory and this gives me great joy.

My mother is still with us and I am grateful to God for the many opportunities I have to simply express my gratitude to her and thank her for loving me.

If your parents are alive I encourage you to do everything in your power to honor them, thank them, and bless them.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Being Christ to others

Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, wrote the delightful children’s story Martin the shoemaker to illustrate what it means to practice the example of Jesus.
His story is about an old shoemaker who gets word that Christ will be visiting him tomorrow. The old man is not quite sure whether he made this up out of his own head. The following day, Martin, with eager anticipation looks up and down his street for Jesus.
During the day he encounters a boy shoveling snow and invites him in for a hot drink. Then he encounters a woman shivering and he gives her a warm coat. At the end of the day Martin is disappointed that Christ did not come and he concludes he is a little touched in the head. Later as he sleeps that night the word comes "Martin did you see me?”
“Where Lord?”
“It was I the boy shoveling snow and it was I, the woman shivering in the cold."
From the letter of James the encouragement is to welcome each person as a chance to serve God. If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:15-17)
See Christ in others; be Christ to others.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Without Bias

While preparing for this weekend's services, I reread parts of Being the Body by Charles Colson and Ellen Vaughn. The following story closely mirrors James' teaching. Compare James 2:1-13 with their story and see what you think!
The late Max Cadenhead, when he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Naples, Florida, riveted his congregation one day with a bold confession.
"My message today is on the parable of the Good Samaritan," Max announced. "Let me start with an illustration.
"Remember last year when the Browns came forward to join the church?" he asked. Everyone nodded; the Browns were a very influential family. "Well, the same day a young man came forward and gave his life to Christ. I could tell he needed help." No one nodded; no one remembered.
"We worked with the Browns, got them onto committees. They've been wonderful folks," Cadenhead said to muffled amens. "The young man…well, we lost track.
"Until yesterday, that is, as I was preparing today's message on the Good Samaritan. I picked up the paper, and there was that young man's picture. He had shot and killed an elderly woman."
Chins dropped throughout the congregation, mine included, as the pastor continued. "I never followed up on that young man, so I'm the priest who saw the man in trouble and crossed to the other side of the road. I am a hypocrite." (Chuck Colson and Ellen Vaughn, Being the Body (Word, 2003) 333.
More of that kind of sober honesty in the church would be very healthy. For God's kingdom is just the opposite of ours. Some churches go after the rich or the influential, thinking if they can just bag this one or that one, they’ll have a real catch for the kingdom and their prestige will surely rise. Like the folks profiled by the apostle James, we offer our head tables to the wealthy and well-dressed and reserve the back seats for those we consider unimportant.