Monday, January 11, 2010

What Are You Waiting For?

Waiting has got to be one of the least favorite activities of life. We wait in the checkout line at Wal-Mart as the three checkers leisurely checkout the 800 people ahead of us. We wait for the cable guy, who may arrive sometime between 8 AM and 5 Pm, to connect us to hundreds of viewing possibilities, most of which we will never actually sit and watch but we MUST have total access and we need it TODAY. So we wait. We wait for all manner of things and we love to complain about waiting and even brag about how long we may have had to wait for what we wanted.

Waiting is a part of life, a bigger part than we likely realize. It is part of the price we pay for what we need and desire. That price is time. We spend time waiting just as assuredly as we spend money on the things for which we are waiting. We budget our time accordingly.

Since we spend a significant amount of our allotted time waiting, what happens to those minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years? Are they wasted? Can they be utilized? If we are in a restaurant waiting for food, those empty minutes could be filled with family interaction and conversation. Instead of staring blankly at the walls for 15 minutes maybe we could have real quality family time. You might learn something and you will definitely teach your family that you are more interested in them than the restaurant's decor.

While we wait to hear from our doctor about test results, maybe we could spend time praising and thanking God for His goodness to us. But wait a minute Robby! (pun intended) Should not I WAIT until I get a good report before I start all that praising and thanking business? Let me answer that lovingly with one word, NO. Exercise some faith and begin praising God before you know the results. You may not get a good report but God is still in control and we should all sure be thankful for that. Another good thing to do would be to take extra time to pray for others while you pray for yourself.

Many times we ask God what it is that He would have us do with this time we have been given. That is a good prayer because God gives purpose to us all. Part of the purpose He gives us is general and part is specific to each one. While we wait to hear from Him on the specific purpose for our lives let us be actively pursuing the general purposes He gives us all.

We should talk to Him. Pray without ceasing means that we pray persistently and consistently. Behave like a Christian. Paul taught us that if we will live in the Spirit then we will not live for the world. Let people see Jesus alive in you and hear words of faith from you. Jesus said if we deny Him here then He will deny us to the Father. God did not call us to be undercover Christians.

God gave a great promise in Isaiah 40:31. He said that if we will wait on God then God in return will renew our strength. Waiting on God demonstrates our faith in Him. Waiting on God means that we continue to obey Him. It is not wasted time. In fact, waiting often prepares us for what is coming next.

Waiting is probably not your favorite thing. It is not mine either. The point is, what will we do with the time we have? As we wait for one thing or another, will we use that time well or will it be wasted? I think we might all be surprised at what can be done with those moments of waiting. Right now, consider how you can be productive while you wait. Then get to it. What are you waiting for?

Because He lives,


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

There are 14,008 acorns in my front yard. That number may not be exact but we have a gob of the little oak nuts everywhere. Most of the time I view acorns as eyesores on my otherwise unattractive yard. Their main function is to make Brandon tippy-toe around them as he retrieves the mail. He makes me think of the old TV show "Kung Fu" as he works his way to the mailbox. His steps look like some martial art form. Careful, Grasshopper!

What are acorns good for? Most of the time I view them as a nuisance. I know. Squirrels eat them. Deer eat them. Koreans even make staple dishes with acorns but then Koreans eat some other things that I would not feed to the neighbor's cat, much less set on the dinner table for me and my family to eat. Culinary preferences aside, I have not seen much use for acorns until today. Today my heart has changed. Today I intend to lift the lowly acorn to heights worthy of my admiration. I have found in the modest acorn a model for Christians.

What is an acorn? Well, it is the seed of an oak tree. It is used both for nutrition of animal and insects, and as we have discussed, some Korean dietary plans and for propagating a new generation of oak trees. Hmm, so not only is an acorn a food source but it is also the means to grow a new tree. That sounds like something very familiar to me, the gospel. God's word contains the seed for new life in Christ, the gospel, and provides nourishment for Christians to grow.

Oak trees to do not strain and struggle to produce acorns. Acorns are the natural product of oaks. Oak trees do not worry that their acorns will not be eaten or that they will not grow into new trees. Oaks do not feel that they are not good enough to spread their acorns neither do they fret about doing the job well. Also, they do not wring their branches over what other trees might think of them or that they might be made fun of for dropping their acorns. They just do it.

Christians have seeds to sow too. We have a God-given commission to share the gospel with the lost. But unlike the oak tree, we often stutter and stammer over what should be a natural byproduct of new life in Christ. We do worry about what people might think or say. We do fret that we might not know enough to share the gospel or that we might do a poor job and in doing so we fail to cast the gospel out to those who are in need of salvation.

Granted, oak trees are not self-conscious beings and we are. We make excuses for not doing what should come naturally to us. Ephesians 2:10 teaches us that we are created in Christ unto good works and part of that is telling others, sowing seeds.

As you meet people in your daily life, I pray that you (and I) will be found to exemplify Jesus and openly live your faith. Share the gospel when you have a God-given opportunity. Will someone think you are a nut? Maybe, but if so just tell them you are being an oak tree and sharing your acorns of truth. After all, sometimes we ought to feel like a nut...for Jesus.

Because He lives,


Monday, October 5, 2009

Share the Wealth

Last night at church we heard the testimony of a young man and his dad for whom God has done some wonderful things in spite of horrific circumstances. At age 7 this young fellow underwent a routine tonsillectomy. Routine soon turned to ruin as he lay medically dead on the table for 15 minutes. Once revived he was rushed to a large hospital in Dallas where a few days later he was talking and laughing and making plans. Those plans were stifled when he fell into a coma one evening.

Two weeks into the coma, doctors were asking his parents to allow them to harvest the boy's organs. His parents could not agree with that course of action. One night as the boy's father struggled with the weight of the situation, a lady approached him. She told him things that only a person close to the family could know. She said everything would be alright with his son. She asked to pray with him and told him to let go of his anger. As he prayed and let go of his anger, he reported that he felt his burden vanish which was replaced by a sense of peace.

The woman, who seemed to know him, prayed also. Filled with a new sense of joy he was anxious to share what happened with his wife. Suddenly, he realized that he had forgotten to thank the lady. As he turned back to thank her, she was nowhere to be found. You may not believe in encounters with angels but this man sure does. I agree with him that God sent an angel that night to direct his attention to the only physician who really can heal, God.

The doctors became persistent that the boy's parents allow them to harvest their son's organs. They were even more adamant that their son would survive and in more than a vegetated state. A few days later as the father told jokes to his son, the boy came out of his coma laughing. Even the skeptical doctor had to admit it was a miracle and no medical reason could be given.

Since then, the boy, who is now 14, has overcome seizures, regained his sight, speech, and ability to walk. The story is too long to tell of all their struggles and hard work. He can run a mile these days. He is doing well in his school work. Through all his struggles, he has witnessed the persistence of his parents and the faithfulness and grace of God.

God has called the young man to preach. God has given him a tender heart that yearns to share the gospel and to share what God has done in him. His circumstances were horrendous but God is greater than any circumstance. He shares his testimony every chance he gets.

You and I may not experience such dire events and maybe we have or will. But God has shown Himself faithful in us as well. We have a story to tell also. He has worked miracles in or lives too. The same God that has shown Himself faithful in this young man has been just as faithful to us. Should not we then be happy and willing to share God's grace with others?

The young man and his dad do not embellish their story. They tell it simply and honestly. Yet, there is great power displayed when they testify. People are moved and God is glorified. Only eternity will declare what all God will produce from the testimony of this young man. God wants to use you the same way.

Tell your story of God's grace in your life. Let the power come not from your words but from the God who demonstrated His great love in YOU. Be a channel of blessing and share the wealth.

Because He lives,


Saturday, September 12, 2009

What would Jesus do at Taco Bell?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant or especially a fast food place where the person waiting on you seemed to be bored out of their skull? They look at you as if your very presence offends them. Their body language screams at you that they would rather be anywhere else doing anything else but standing there taking your food order. You are in the way. They are there simply because they HAVE to be. They exhibit no joy and they make no bones about the fact that they are not thrilled to see you.

I do not know about you but when such a case happens to me, I tend to react poorly, at least initially. I remember one instance in particular. About a year ago, my wife and I went to the local Taco Bell for supper. It was just the two of us, which rarely happens, so we were looking forward to a pleasant meal. We had high hopes. Those hopes were dashed as soon as we approached the counter. The expression on the young lady's face who manned the counter let me know she was having a bad day and that she fully intended to let that ill feeling infect us, too. Her tone was surly. He face was sour. Our order was wrong when we got it and when asked by another employee what to do, the young lady with whom we placed our order, literally shouted at them to FIX IT!

Needless to say, I was less than impressed. The infection had indeed spread to me. I sat grumbling as I ate. How could they let such a person work here? Why could they not get my order right? And what had I done to evoke such a rotten attitude from her? I vowed to my wife that I would NEVER return IF that girl at the counter was working.

I reacted just as poorly as she had acted. As we left the building, the Holy Spirit placed a thought in my mind. "Did she see Jesus in you or did she see one more example of selfishness and pride?", He asked. He made me consider her soul. The Holy Spirit showed me that I had no chance at witnessing to her about the love of Christ with a scowl on my face.

I had no idea what the girl's day had been like. I did not know what jerks may have ruined her attitude. I had no idea if she was a Christian. I did not know what in her life might be so deeply disturbing to her that it overcame her attitude at work. What I did know, however, was that I had not exemplified Christ to her. I have no doubt that she knew from my expressions just how angered I was even though I never uttered one cross word to her.

She was wrong to treat a customer the way she did. I was more wrong because I treated a person for whom Christ died with resentment rather than kindness. "Be you kind one to another", Jesus said. This girl might have needed someone to just be kind to her whether or not she would have immediately responded likewise. I missed an opportunity to be like Christ. Does that ever happen to you?

Daily we all face many situations where we need the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to show us how to be like Jesus and to embolden us then act as He would. I think we forget how needy we are. I think we over-estimate our spiritual strength. We really do need to be filled with the Spirit every day. There may be an unhappy person behind the counter who needs to see Him and we may be the only living witness to cross their path.

Be kind. Be thankful. Be like Jesus even when, and especially when, people treat you with indifference and insolence. Treat them in return with grace and love. Your order may still be wrong when you get it but your heart will be right and your witness will be intact.

Because He lives,


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Will the REAL Dad please Stand Up

Happy Father's Day.

Just as we honor our mothers, it is only right that we set aside a day of recognition for our fathers. Being a father is not an easy task. That certainly is true for Mom but today I wanted to direct my thoughts toward Dad. The task of parenting seems to be more complicated than in generations past. New technologies, increased extra-curricular activities, and busier lives have changed the landscape. Parents need to be even more aware of how their kids spend their time and with whom. Love and time are the keys. Our time will follow our love.

Children are gifts from God. They are handfuls of purpose. And sometimes they really are handfuls. Regardless of the challenge, our kids are worth our efforts fellas. They need us. They will often view God in much the same way they view you and I. I have a healthy, loving, and reverent view of my Heavenly Father because I have the same view of my earthly father.

My dad is not perfect and neither am I as a father but, like my dad, I am committed to my children and to their well being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Perfection is not the issue. Faithfulness is. I have had to apologise to my boys on a few occasions because of wrong I had done. I have had to discipline them for wrong they have done. In both apology and discipline, my motivation was love. I desire that my sons grow to be godly men who desire to be faithful to the Lord and to their own families when God blesses them with such.

We do not have to be experts. We need to give ourselves. That means we love, protect, provide for, listen to, nurture, and teach our kids. We can not do those things without spending time in the process. God will, I believe, give us the wisdom to teach our kids what they need. Often that means living in front of them a godly example for them to want to follow. Be as kind on Monday as you are on Sunday. Keep your promises. Tell your kids often that you love and approve of them just for being who they are.

We live in a generation of drop-out dads. That is not new news but it is true. Far too often a biological father shows up only for special occasions and is granted celebrity status while Mom's faithfulness is all but forgotten. A good step-dad has to take a back seat to "real" Dad. I realize not all marriages last until death do us part. I know that divorce is not all the fault of men. But I do fault men who regularly neglect their kids except when those guys feel a need for an ego boost. They get to wear the title Dad when they please.

I guess it sounds like I have a chip on my shoulder and I suppose I do. I have two sons. They are more to me than my wife's sons from a previous marriage. They are not my biological sons but they are mine nonetheless. There are many across our land like myself. We adopt, in our hearts, minds, and lives, these kids we call ours. We give ourselves to and for them. We are dads.

Remember, having the title of "real" dad may not make a guy a real dad. I salute every father who invests himself in the lives of his children even if he and his kids have different last names. I urge every father to stand up, be a man, and love your kids enough to spend time with them. Earn the title DAD.

My sons do not bear my last name but by God's grace they do and will continue to bear the marks of my love and time.

Because He lives,


Friday, May 22, 2009

A Fresh Coat of Paint

We are scratching an itch this weekend. What is the itch? Well, our family room has pinkish colored walls and carpet. It looks like we are entombed in a Pepto-Bismol room. Pepto is supposed to soothe, but the family room is far from soothing. So, we are painting and ripping out carpet.

We have already applied one coat of primer and I will be applying a second coat as soon as I finish this blog. I may take longer than usual to formulate my thoughts today. Not that I am procrastinating on the paint job though. Perish the thought! I was hoping one coat of primer would suffice, but no, those mauve walls need really need a thick coat to hide that hideous color. (I have nothing against the color mauve. It is a good color when used sparingly, but being surrounded by it is suffocating.)

Once primed, we will paint the ceiling white and the walls misty surf, which is a light, grayish blue. We hope it looks as good on the walls as it did on the sample card at Home Depot. Then we plan on ripping out the carpet to expose the hardwood floors. We expect a drastic difference and are anxious to see it finished. Amy's sister and her family are coming down for the weekend to lend a hand. Poor Jeff, he always has honey-do's waiting for him when he comes to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. If you feel the urge to come help, just message me for directions. We are accepting all applications, with approved credit, of course.

Home make-overs are all the rage. You can hardly turn on the TV without running into one. One teaches you how to remodel or redecorate while another shows you how to rearrange and yet another whets your appetite for all the latest gadgets and materials that you do not have but that your neighbor probably does have. Run! Run to the store and get what you need to keep up with the Jones. The problem is that the Jones are already at the store buying newer and even better stuff.

We like making over everything. We go to tanning salons to make-over the tone of our skin. We eat with Jenny Craig, run with Oprah, and work out with the Biggest Losers in order to make-over the shape of our bodies. We wear the latest fashions and get the latest hair-do as we make-over our appearance. Now, healthy living and looking nice are not bad things. I may even try it some day. But I wonder how much of that effort is really about dissatisfaction with what we have and wanting to be like someone else who we deem as the ideal. I wonder if most of it is just superficial.

Can I suggest a real make-over? Let God change you from the inside out. Jesus looked at the Prarisees and called them whited sepulchres full of dead men's bones. He was saying they looked good on the outside but were rotten on the inside. God makes us new on the inside and teaches how to transform our minds by the renewing of His word. Read your Bible. Pray everyday. Ask God to change you on the inside and you will see beauty emerge on the outside.

We are using paint to cover up what we considered unattractive. We can do that with our lives, too, by turning over a new leaf, making New Years resolutions, or addressing habits from a human point of view. That may clean up the outward man but may do little for the inward man. It is like prettying up a pig. When you are done, the pig will still run to the trough because it is a pig and that is its nature.

God gives us a new nature. We are created fresh and new in Christ Jesus. Let Him continue His work on you by changing you from inside out. The exterior that is produced will reflect the beauty within by how you live and love. When we accept God's love and love Him in return then we can fully love others and be loved by them.

Let the walls be walls and paint them when you wish but let your heart belong to God so He can make an eternal change in you. The difference will be drastic.

Because He lives,


Friday, May 8, 2009

Doing the Laundry

Today was laundry day here at the Holcomb house. That is not such a big deal. It was probably laundry day at many houses. It may be laundry day at your house, too. The difference for us was that for the first time in more years than I can remember, laundry day meant a trip to a laundry-mat.

Our dryer decided to wage a strike a week or so ago, so Amy strung a clothes line on which she has been hanging our freshly washed clothes to dry. That is not such a big deal either. Many folks still use clothes lines, I think. We celebrated the raising of the clothes line with pictures after which I officially welcomed Amy to the sticks. A bonus is that clothes take no electrical energy to dry on a line. We are hoping it helps on our electric bill. So, we are in no hurry to buy another dryer. Amy says you can not see those pictures, though I can not imagine why not.

We loaded basket after basket that was pressed down shaken together and running over. We got a roll of quarters and a few dollar bills just in case we had underestimated how much it would cost to wash and dry 12-15 loads of laundry. I was certain two rolls would be too much, after all, each roll is worth $10. (Amy is so proud I am telling this story so please pray for me)

Two hours, two regular washer loads, three triple washer loads, three ungowa-sized washer loads, and six dryer loads later, praise the Lord, we were finished. Wives don't you love how I am using the inclusive "we" pronoun in this story? Oh, did I mention that I had indeed underestimated the cost? Well, I did. Our little trip to the laundry-mat cost us about $45. See, I knew two rolls of quarters was not right.

With bad weather coming, Amy knew she would not get to hang clothes for a few days and we needed to get our stuff clean. We did it all at once, but since we had quite a bit to do, it cost us quite a bit more than I expected.

Sin in our lives can be like a pile of dirty clothes that will not clean themselves. The pile gets bigger and bigger until someone deals with it. As the pile grows, the person may get intimidated by it and want to ignore it. The pile never goes away by itself though and neither does our sin.

As sin lingers and grows in our lives we may want to ignore it. We may feel overwhelmed by it and convince ourselves that it has become so large that we will always be defeated by it. Satan would like for God's children to believe that kind of lie. The Devil wants you and I to live in fear, shame, and defeat, but God says He has given us the Spirit of power, and love and a sound mind.

God desires that we live free from the burden of sin. He promises that if we will confess our sins that He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. What a wonderful God we serve. We would do well to deal with sin quickly when we let it in our lives. But even if we let the pile grow and we feel overwhelmed, God is still quick to forgive and cleanse.

Go to the laundry-mat at the throne of God and take care of any dirty laundry you may have. All of our laundry is clean. It cost more than I expected but we dealt with it and now it is done. Sin can cost us more than what we expect, so let us deal with it today for we may not want to know the cost of waiting until tomorrow.

Because He lives,