Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

Are you excited yet about Christmas? Are you looking forward to all the fun and festivities that accompany the holiday season? This is a great time of year. School will soon be dismissed for a couple of weeks so kids are thrilled. Decorations cover houses, stores, and civic buildings. Favorite recipes for all manner of sweets are being prepared. People are thinking of what gifts to buy that loved ones will enjoy. Old friends and family members send cards back and forth, some sweet, some funny, some with the latest family photos, and some that touch hearts deeply. Trips are being planned. Parties are soon to begin. Did I mention the sweet treats? Oh, it is a wonderful time of year.

Or is it so wonderful? The same activities that to some cause great excitement and joy to others cause anxiety, frustration, and WORK. Lots of work! Some will become a bundle of frazzled nerves before the first present is opened. What should I get Aunt Susie? Does Uncle Joe like Old Spice? Why do Christmas tree lights work for everyone else but me? With all the joy of the season, there are also those for whom this time of year is one filled with sadness, despair, and grief over lost loved ones.

Whatever your take on the whole thing, there is something we can all focus on this time of year. This is when we celebrate the birth of Christ. It may be cliched to say but it is true nonetheless, He is the reason for the season. Jesus was not born so that your kids could get a new iPod. He did not come into this world so that Macy's, JC Penney, Wal-Mart, etc. could have a Red Day Blue Light Rollback special from 4 AM until noon the day after Thanksgiving. He came to seek and save that which was lost. He came for you. And for me.

Jesus gave us the best example of gift giving by simply giving Himself. I know you are going to shop for presents. I am too. But let us not forget to give the best gift this Christmas. Give yourself and your time to those around you. This really is a great time of year. I pray that Christmas for you is filled with love and joy rather than anxiety and heartache.

From me and my family to you and to yours, Merry Christmas to all and to all a .......goodnight, where is that wrapping tape? Will someone please get the cat out of the Christmas tree before it chews the light cord again? Brandon will you stop asking when.........

Merry Christmas,


Friday, November 14, 2008

Gobble Gobble

I'm sorry that so long has passed since my last post. I could list numerous plausible excuses, but suffice it to say that I have simply been lazy. With that said, lets see if we can make a few timely observations.

Well the end of the year is fast approaching and I expect that turkeys everywhere are growing nervous. Their "last supper" as it were is only two weeks away. I am sure turkey growers are happily expecting increased revenue from the coming Thanksgiving season. And we, consumers, will likely make those expectations come true.

I know that I am anxious to see ol' Tom Turkey roasting in the oven or being smoked by my brother-in-law, Matt. I love Thanksgiving. I love the food. Oh, the joy of seeing a table spread with turkey and dressing, candied yams, broccoli and rice casserole, green bean casserole, apricot congealed salad, corn on the cob, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, and freshly buttered home-made rolls. Oh, and then there is dessert. I spy with my hungry eye, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, coconut cream pie, Italian cream cake, and peach cobbler. I had better stop there. Thinking of all that stuff is about to make me cry plus I am really hungry.

I love the people of Thanksgiving. Our church family will gather on the Monday before Thanksgiving for a church-wide dinner. I love my church family. So many are dear friends. Among them are many stories of God's goodness extended to Man. They encourage me and brighten my life. I love my immediate and extended family too. Some we do not get to see very often, so spending time with them is especially precious. Even for those family members we see every week, the time spent together is sweet.

I love the God of Thanksgiving. He has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams. He is bigger than my mind can begin to fathom and He takes time to know me, love me, and make a way for me to be related to Him so I can in return know Him. That alone is a great deal for which to be thankful. But He goes and adds the other things I mentioned above plus so much more. If we were to start naming all the blessings God bestows on us then we would never finish.

Your list of Thanksgiving treats will be different than mine. Your family situation will not be the same either, though I hope your family is filled with love one for another too. But the Lord is the same for us all. As He looks down on us in love and compassion, we should look up to Him with love and thanksgiving.

So before November 27 arrives and before we gobble gobble on all the good goodies, remember to remember that everything we enjoy was given to us by our Heavenly Father. Delight in Him and His greatness and be thankful. He has already given us so many desires of our hearts and more are on the way.

Because He lives,


Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Titanic

The story of the Titanic is certainly a tragedy. Many lives were lost, the so-touted "unsinkable" ship sunk, and reputations were tarnished. I recently read an article that said the reason the Titanic sank so fast was that the rivets on the forward hull were inferior. Imagine that. A 900 foot long ship sinks in two hours because of faulty rivets. Care was evidently not taken to make sure those rivets were made of the right material in the right way. Sometimes the smallest pieces cause the biggest troubles. Assumption and arrogance are the real culprits to the tragedy of the Titanic. The captain and the owners assumed that nothing could harm their ship. Warnings were ignored that could have saved lives or even completely avoided the collision. Pride goes before a fall says Proverbs.

I wonder how many times we live as though we are the Titanic, unsinkable. We feel invincible. We are Christians and have everything under control. Ha! We too have inferior little rivets. It is called our flesh, the old sin nature. We hit a temptation and a rivet snaps as we spiral downward into an ocean of sin. Someone cuts us off in traffic and a rivet snaps sinking us into a fit of rage. Someone at church hurts our feelings and we plunge headlong into self-pity which might even keep us home from church.

How can we keep those rivets from popping so easily? Paul asked a similar question in Romans chapter 7 where he asks who would deliver him from the body of this death. He realized that even though he was born again, he still had an old sin nature that wanted to sin. His flesh was weak as is ours. That is why Paul said in Galatians 6:14 that he would not glory in anything except the cross of Christ. How much more then should we rely on the Holy Spirit and take no pride in ourselves?

God gifts each of us. His Spirit indwells us. We have all spiritual blessings available to us and yet we sometimes let pride well up and a rivet pops. We forget that the power to live successful Christian lives does not come from us. Philippians 2:13 teaches us that both the desire and the ability to please God comes from God. As long as life is going well we often rely less on God. We figure we can handle things for a while. Then when trouble comes, as it will for us all, we race back to God pleading for His help. God loves hearing from us and helping us but we ought not treat Him like a genie in a bottle, hoping He will rescue us from the consequences of our wanderings.

We can be strong in the Lord and the power of His might but we must always remember that the power is His. Left to our own devices we will steam straight into an iceberg of sin and worldliness that so easily pops our rivets causing us to rapidly sink. Like Peter on the water, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, knowing we are weak without Him. Our rivets are faulty too. We must heed the warnings and steer away from temptation so we do not sink into the chilly depths of sin.

Because He lives,


Friday, October 10, 2008

Man on Fire

Man on Fire is a movie about an intelligence officer who becomes jaded and disillusioned with people until he regains his fire for life while attempting to rescue a little girl who he was protecting and had befriended. That's the movie. America is full of men who too have become jaded, disillusioned, and apathetic. Is that such a big deal? Does it really matter what the character of America's men is like? Has it affected our families? Does it impact our future? I say YES it definitely does make a huge difference.

Scandal rocks seemingly every facet of the corporate world and governmental agencies. By and large, fairness and integrity have been tossed out the window if another dollar can be made. The average working man is taught to go along to get along rather than being encouraged to stand for his principles. So, he does what he feels he must and loses his trust for leadership and authority. That attitude then spills over to other areas of his life.

He looks for and finds injustices everywhere. His boss is a jerk to him while the boss' cronies get treated nicely. His kid does not get to play enough on the little league baseball team. When his wife asks him about his work day, he feels threatened and becomes sullen and withdrawn. He thinks to himself that she is really asking him if he has yet mustered the guts to ask for that overdue raise he was promised two years ago but somehow never got.

In the end, he becomes numb and stops caring. He doesn't care if he performs well on the job. He doesn't care if his wife is happy. He doesn't care if his kids are doing well in school. He figures life drones on until we die, all marriages get stale, and kids will eventually muddle through school like he did. He turns on the TV and tunes out til bedtime. He teaches his family his new dogma of "you leave me alone and I'll leave you alone, just let me be." Does any of that sound familiar? Did I miss the mark too far? I must not be too far off. The divorce rate is alarmingly high, teen violence is on the rise, single-parent homes are becoming the norm, and the men of America seem to be missing in action.

Would more money solve the dilemma? No, but better money management would help some. Do we need more stuff to make us happy? No, we have more material possessions than ever and yet we are unsatisfied with what we have. Maybe we need more leisure time. I don't think that is the problem either. We already spend too much time and money on empty activities such as all-access, digital, high definition, forty-football-games-a-week cable programming. I love watching football too, especially if the Cowboys aren't fumbling and stumbling, but come on, enough is enough.

No, the problem is much deeper. It is a matter of the heart. I believe many American men have stepped away from the plate because we have lost our sense of purpose. We have taken our eyes off the eternal and fixed them on the temporal. God through Christ Jesus gives us eternal purpose. I want to mention two here.

First, we are here to glorify Him. To do that we must first be in right relationship with Him. That is, we need to be saved. We need to place our faith and trust in Christ, ask Him to forgive our sin, and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior. Then we need to be in right fellowship with the Lord. Unconfessed sins need to be confessed and forsaken so that the Lord will hear our prayers and so we can hear His Spirit leading us. The psalmist David said in Psalms 66:18 that if I regard sin in my heart the Lord will not hear me. Now we are ready to let our lights so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven (Matt. 5:16).

Secondly, we are to emulate Him. We are supposed to be growing into Christlikeness. He told the apostles in the upper room as He washed their feet that the one who would be greatest of all would be servant to all. Men, we are too often waiting on someone to wait on us when we should be leading in the care of those near us. Paul, in Ephesians 5, says that, yes, men are the head of the home as Christ is the head of the church but we like to stop there and misuse that verse to lord over our wives and families. Paul went on to say that husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. Do you see the service aspect of our position as head of the home? Men, our wives would follow us more willingly if we would first willingly follow the Lord. Let us set that example. God has called us to be His children and He has called us to SERVE as leaders in our homes. Who He calls He empowers to accomplish.

The Philippian jailer asked Paul what he must do to be saved. Paul said believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, and your house. Each member of the jailer's family had to trust Christ as well but when Dad believed, the family followed his lead. I was saved at age 11, in large part, because when I was 10 my Dad got right with the Lord and got us in church so we could hear the gospel.

Guys, our wives need to depend on our leadership and strength. Our kids are desperate for our love, attention, and example. Let me use an oil lamp as an analogy. The lamp's flame burns low when the wick is dirty and when the oil is old. Trim your wick. Confess and forsake that sin that has dirtied your heart. Replace the old oil. Ask God for a fresh anointing of His Holy Spirit on you. Then set that lamp where it sheds light on all around it. Our lamps may be dim but God is faithful and eager to make them burn bright IF we will let Him. For our sakes, for our families sakes, and for our country's sake, we need to once again be men on fire, on fire for the Lord.

Because He lives,


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Paying the Bills

Today is bill paying day here at my house. It is one of my least favorite days of the month. The bank account goes from looking fat to looking thin all in a few keystrokes as my wife pays bills online. I always feel as though my personal stock market has just crashed. However, I surely am thankful that we have the resources to pay those bills. There may be very little left over after the payments clear but I remember days when paying bills was like running my own lottery. There were a few winners and several losers each month.

The thing that galls me most about our bills is all the little credit accounts we have open. Those $15 and $25 bills add up quickly to a significant amount if one is not careful and disciplined. The euphoria of instant gratification from buying on credit turns into a painful sting at the end of the month when the bill comes due. The misery is heightened by the interest added to the balance. I know it feels good to get what you want when you want it. And I know it can be easy to disregard the added expense of credit buying. After all, who does not need QVC's special value of the day? Sometimes I think I do. I may even need two since they are offering "easy pay" on my credit card.

Do you remember the old commercial where the mechanic says you can pay me now or pay me later? That later payment was always more expensive. That is what buying on credit is like when the balance is not paid off each month.

With that economics lesson in mind let us consider our spiritual lives. Care and discipline are needed there too. Our flesh, the old nature, wants instant gratification. It is selfish and short-sighted. The flesh does not care about end costs. It may want love (physical relations) but is willing to substitute lust for love. Lust is the inordinate fulfillment of any desire but what I mean here specifically is illicit physical relations between people who are not married to one another. The flesh may want rest but is willing to be lazy and put off until later some work that needs to be done presently. These are just two examples. The Bible says in Galatians 6:7 to not deceive yourself because a person will reap what they sow.

To use our examples, love and rest are good and necessary things. There are costs involved with both. Love requires a person to give himself to another. Rest costs time. God has declared in His word right ways of enjoying both love and rest. Married couples enjoy physical love with one another as a blessing and benefit of their union. The resulting satisfaction is guilt free and fulfilling. Sadly, I feel the need to state that when I speak of marriage I mean the union of one man and one woman. Rest is another good and needed thing and when properly taken rejuvenates the whole person.

The flesh wants to distort God's rules and causes the costs to rise dramatically. Lust (as stated above) adds interest to the costs by causing guilt due to infidelity, lost fellowship with God (not lost relationship) due to sin, and lost self-esteem due to disappointment. Laziness adds to costs by guilt over missed opportunities and wasted time and also affects one's self-esteem. God's word and His ways can not be ignored without the penalty of additional and, sometimes, painful costs.

In Proverbs 10:22 God says, "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." Just like the sorrow of paying bills loaded with added interest, there is sorrow from paying for choices that ignore God's principles. Do not fool yourself. Bill paying day is coming.

Because He lives,


Friday, October 3, 2008


Have you ever wished to be like Spiderman? If you are a Christian, you may be more like him than you thought.

The story of the comic book hero Spiderman begins as the teenager Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider. The next morning after the bite, Peter wakes to the initially painful reality that he is now different. He is the same guy but he has new abilities. The circumstances of his life have not changed but along with his new abilities, Peter realizes he has new opportunities which turn into new obligations. At first, Peter is confused about his overnight change. The confusion quickly yields to exhilaration as he swings from building to building. His keen new senses inform Peter when injustices arise to which he races to lend aid. A new mission is born in him. He saves peoples' lives. He rights wrongs. He becomes a protector of the people from those who would steal, kill, and destroy. And he is misunderstood by the general public. He is portrayed as a villain by the local newspaper editor whose main concern is circulation driven by fantastic headlines and equally fantastic photos.

Misunderstood and even unjustly vilified, Spiderman remains undaunted. He knows who he is and that he must keep the vigil of his new calling. While he senses great joy and fulfillment with his new life, he also deals with the temptation to be like everyone else again. There was no great struggle in his old life except for making money and pursuing the girl he loves. His new life has not changed those struggles and at times he feels the weight of responsibility bearing down heavily upon him. At his darkest moments he even contemplates denouncing his new calling to return to life as it once was. In the end, Peter Parker, Spiderman, chooses the destiny to which he has been called knowing that the good of others outweighs his old, personal, selfish desires. He has a job to do and is determined to finish it well.

Spiderman is fiction conceived in the minds of Stan Lee and his associates. In real life, spider bites do not impart to us their attributes. We are the people we were born to be. But, there is someone who can impart to us new life with new abilities and new responsibilities. Jesus Christ came to this world to save the lost and we all fit into the category. When a person comes to faith in Christ as his or her Lord and Savior then life is new. They are born-again, born anew with new powers and responsibilities. As a saved person grows in grace, those responsibilities turn into opportunities. The got-to's turn into get-to's.

The Christian's power is not from a spider bite but from the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within the believer. This power enables the believer to understand the spiritual principles found in the word of God, the Bible. Also, the Holy Spirit gives Christians boldness to share with others what God has done in them. Christians can and should grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Christians can speak directly to God Himself and hear back from Him in the still small voice in their minds. The believer is part of God's family and thus connected to all blessings from God through the Lord Jesus.

Life has new purpose even though, like Spiderman, life's circumstances have not changed. There can be times when a Christian finds himself looking back at his old life with some amount of envy. The old desires remain in the Christian and are at war with the new self who has a new set of desires and priorities. That struggle is constant and can wear out a person. In Romans chapter seven, Paul said he was worn out from that struggle. He understood that only the power of God residing in him could win the battle over the flesh, the old desires. When we feel the weight of responsibility, we are faced with a choice. We can either run away to the old way of living and live a frustrated defeated life or we can rely on the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to face what is before us and live in victory and joy.

Will life then be easy and prosperous? Probably not. Remember when God saved you, He did not lift you out of your circumstances. He gave you hope beyond your circumstances and promised to never leave you to face those circumstances alone.

Finally, let us choose to finish well what we have been set to do. Jesus said in John 4:34 that His sustenance was to do God's will and finish the work God sent Him to do. Dear Christian, you have been saved for and with a purpose. You have a job to do. You will be vilified and even hated. You will be misunderstood. Your struggles may not get any easier. But the reward is great. God can use you to aid in saving people from eternal damnation. You can encourage other Christians. You can openly praise the name of God. There is too much at stake to stop. Finish well what God has empowered and called you to do.

Because He lives,


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Man vs. Wild

The Discovery Channel has a show called "Man vs. Wild" starring a guy name Bear Grylls. Each episode finds Grylls in some remote location where he must survive using only his wits, a bare minimum amount of supplies, and whatever he can glean from the location. I have seen only one episode. He was dropped onto the snow-capped, mountain region of Patagonia in South America. He made a make-shift shelter by digging a hole into the snow along the side of a slope of one peak. The second day, he hiked down the slope and repelled down the face of a waterfall. Then he continued through a dense thicket, slopped through a chilly bog, and attempted a lake crossing on a raft he constructed from driftwood (the raft began sinking so he made a cold swim back to shore). For nourishment, he ate bugs, weeds, and worms. Yummy, huh?

The show was fascinating but painful to watch. Obviously, he is well versed in survival techniques. He has experience and knowledge that the average person does not have. Even with his ability to live off the land, Grylls' task is not easy. In fact, it is potentially very dangerous. The harsh environments he visits are not too forgiving. A small lapse in attention or a minor misstep can literally mean life or death.

I have no desire to be thrown into the wild to see if I can stay alive. I doubt there are many people who would sign up for that. If you ever hear that I am away alone in some desolate area, know that I was forced there against my will. Call the police, the FBI, the Texas rangers, even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, if you have to, but come get me! Oh, and bring a sandwich. I'll be hungry.

We like comfort. We like having plenty of stuff to make life easier. Life is tough enough even with an abundant store of resources. Grylls' show serves as a warning against trying to do what he does and a reminder to be thankful for what we have.

God has not left us in the wild to fend for ourselves. In II Peter 1:3 tells us that we have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness. That means God has an endless supply of everything we will need to successfully live the Christian life and He has made it all available to His children. It is our job to take advantage of all that the Father offers. We can choose to live abundantly or to face the wild on our own.

Let us consider a few things to which we have access. We, as God's children, have relationship with God through Christ. We are part of the Lord's family and are never truly alone. We can talk directly to the Father and He speaks back to us by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:16 says that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit. We have the Bible. In it we find God's will concerning so much of our life and how to live it in a way that glorifies Him and benefits us. We have the body of believers from which we can learn and be encouraged. Those are a but a few supplies for you as you travel life's road. I urge you to read God's word so you can find many many more.

When I catch myself attempting to face life unarmed or when I see a fellow Christian doing the same, I ask why. Why would we try to survive in the harsh conditions of an unfriendly world living off the grubs and weeds when we could be in the comfort of God's resources? It may be fascinating to watch such fetes but it is also painful. Go to God's storehouse and claim the supplies He said are yours. Don't face the wild with an empty backpack.

Because He lives,


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vintage Value

My wife and I spent an hour or so today rummaging through an antique store. We bought a few things and admired many others. Some of the items were beautifully preserved and some showed the wear and tear of daily use from days gone by. So many of the items reminded me of Grandma and Grandad's house. There were several long cylindrical water buckets used to draw water from a narrow deep well. I loved pulling the chain to lower and then hoist the one beside their old place. There is a release at the top that you pull to let out the water. That always seemed fun to me as a kid. The store had old plates and kitchenware, tubs, tools, furniture, and so many other articles from decades ago. Much of that stuff is prized now for its decorative value but it is also still valuable for the practical use for which it was crafted.

Tomorrow my family and I will visit another place filled with vintage valuables. Those valuables are not really prized for their decorative value. Sadly, neither are they still being utilized for that which they were designed. Many of them need professional care. We are going to a nursing home. Each week we provide a church service at a local nursing home where my wife plays piano while I lead singing then I preach and have prayer with the folks who attend. I like to linger there too because they also remind me of Grandma and Grandad.

People will ooh and aah over the patina of old metal or wood finishes even if rust or decay is present. The patina authenticates the age of the article and increases its value. When we see the marks of age on our older folks, too often we shy away from them. They have a glow about them too but one has to spend time near them to see it. We forget or fail to consider the years of toil that produced those wrinkles and age spots. Those are badges of honor.

We are rapidly losing what Tom Brokaw dubbed "The Greatest Generation." As they slip into eternity we are losing more than mere memories. We are losing teachers who, if consulted, could tell us a thing or two about gumption, determination, faithfulness, and sacrifice. The generation who lived through World War II knew how to take less and make it go farther. They made things that lasted. They unashamedly loved their God, their families, and their country. They may have been less educated and enjoyed fewer technological advances, but they were no less intelligent and their level of morality shames the wayward culture of today.

In your family, or your church, or even at a local nursing home you can find folks who would absolutely love for you to take but a few minutes to spend with them. Talk to our older generation. Listen and you will find wisdom that comes only from those who have travelled farther down life's path than you have. They will be blessed. You will be blessed. And maybe, just maybe, you will come away the wiser for the time spent. Their signs of age will seem like the prized patina from other vintage valuables. They are worthy of your time.

Because He lives,


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Power Outage

Saturday, Hurricane Ike blew through town. The eye crossed directly over Mount Pleasant around 6 or 7 PM. Rain fell in sheets and filled rain gauges to over three inches. Winds blew knocking down trees, limbs, and scattered debris. Sustained winds were 40 MPH making the large trees on my street sway like grass in a meadow. The effects of the storm were much worse farther south and, of course, near the landfall site, but for my money things were tough enough right here where Ike was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Amy and I had planned a small gathering at our house on Saturday evening. We made those plans earlier in the week before we knew that Ike would come screaming across our skies. Not wanting to disappoint our guests (or me), we decided to go ahead with the get-together as planned except for a menu change from grilled meat of some sort to chicken taco soup. (Note: this is really good soup and if you would like the recipe just email me. It is easy to make and oh so satisfying on a cold blustery autumn evening) Ok, the evening was not cold but Ike surely covered the blustery part.

Ten minutes before our guests were scheduled to arrive, the electricity, like Elvis, left the building. We had no power. Thankfully everything was cooked. People showed up to a dark house, so we lit candles and for two hours enjoyed each others' company by candle light. Actually, it was rather nice. We joked about the romantic evening we were having. Two hours into the party, the power was restored. We were almost sad to have the lights but I do think everyone was glad to have the air conditioner working again. A small gaggle of Baptists can produce a large quantity of hot air. For those of you who were there and are reading this, you know who you are.

For two hours we visited without the benefits of electrical power and we truly barely noticed that the power was gone. I wonder if the average Christian is much the same. Are we walking through life with little to no spiritual power? Sadly, I believe we are. We, Christians, seem to be having little influence on our society in general. Violence fills the land. Abortion rights remain the law upheld by our Supreme Court. People look to the government first for help since the Church, by and large, has abdicated its potential to render aid. Many other examples could be named and remember I am speaking in general terms. I know that there are still faithful churches doing great work through the power of the Holy Spirit.

How do we restore power? What must change? Change begins in my life and yours. It begins in individuals who will decide to once again seek God's power to course through our veins and change us from the inside out. Then those living by the power of the Spirit bind together and the effect is magnified exponentially. I read an article not long ago that related a story of Thomas Aquinas. The story goes that he had an audience with Pope Innocent II. As Aquinas entered the room, the Pope was counting money and stated, "Thomas no longer can the Church say silver and gold have I none." To which, Aquinas replied, "Yes, and neither can she say rise up and walk." I am afraid that exactly describes the average Christian.

We have Earthly resources but precious few Heavenly resources. The worst part is that many may not even realize their own lack of spiritual power. Jesus told the church at Laodecia to buy of Him gold tried in the fire that they may truly be rich. He was speaking of eternal riches. We have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness Peter told us in II Peter 1:3. First make sure you are connected to the power source, Jesus Christ. Then ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and trust that He will. Life will be more electrifying once you are fully connected to the real power of God.

Because He lives,


Friday, September 12, 2008

Worry Who I?

I have let worry chase me in circles for the past two or even three days. I did not realize what was going on until today when it hit me that I had been withdrawn. There were no fusses or tantrums. No cross words were exchanged but I have just not been my usual self. I like to think that I am typically a happy guy who is kind of fun to be around. This afternoon talking to my wife, it dawned on me that I had hidden in my own little world for a few days. The culprit was worry.

Several important events are all taking place today and subconsciously I let myself become consumed with figuring out how to make all the pieces fit perfectly together. But as I looked at Amy I realized that all my mental anguish was not worth compromising one moment of my fellowship with her. Truth be told, my fellowship with the Lord was similarly affected. I was taking on everything and leaving nothing for God. That is a recipe for disaster.

Worrying means that I am not truly living by faith. It flies in the face of our trust for God and what He will do in and through us. Worry lures us to take our eyes off the Lord and place our focus on the circumstance. Remember when Jesus and the disciples were on the boat during a raging storm? Jesus was asleep while the winds howled and the waves rolled. The disciples were all afraid for their lives and rushed to wake the Lord to spare them. I think He was disappointed because they were consumed by their fears. He said they had little faith. They forgot who was in the boat with them and that He is greater than the storm.

I felt like I was in a storm these past few days and I was caught wave watching. My wife's peaceful expression reminded me that God is in control and that He is bigger than the raging seas. When I once again set my gaze on Christ, the waves calmed. The storm passed. I still have several things to get done today and I will get to them. The difference is the peace in me that comes when my trust is fully in Jesus rather than in me trying to be life's little helper.

Hurricane Ike will hit ground around midnight tonight. We have evacuees already here in Mount Pleasant. Gas went up 30 cents this morning and Wal-Mart is more of a madhouse than usual. A storm is coming and people are preparing. Some are making extra profits on the hysteria. The storm will come and then it will go. There are always storms on the horizon. That is simply part of life.

Worry will neither prevent nor slow down the storms. Worry will lead you around in unproductive circles and leave you right where you started. You will feel drained and might have a few extra gray hairs. Faith, however, will point you toward the only lighthouse in the night. Worry makes you look down at the terrifying circumstances. Trust and faith says "look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28) The storm is coming and has even arrived but this time it will find me not worrying because I am looking up to Jesus.

Because He lives,


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

John Tesh

John Tesh is my wife's favorite musician. She loves his music and has several of his CD's. He is performing a concert this Friday night in a town only 45 minutes from where we live. He will not be returning to this part of the country for the foreseeable future. Friday is my wife's birthday. For her birthday we had planned to have a few couples come over for dinner and an evening of fellowship (Baptist lingo for fun). Today we changed those plans so I could take my wife to see her favorite artist live in concert. We have front row tickets. Being handicapped sometimes has its advantages, though not very often. I should note that while my wife adores John Tesh's music, I do not. It's just not my style but the evening is not about me. Friday night is about my wife and doing something that she will love and possibly not get the opportunity to do again.

If I had my preference, we would stay with the original plan of having folks over Friday night. I could have pushed for that and gotten my way. I could have used guilt over ticket prices and told her that it would be rude to our guests to change our plans. It would have been easy and even though Amy would have been disappointed, she would have gotten over it. But I was reminded that we are taught to put others before ourselves. We are not supposed to just think of us.

Paul's letter to the Philippians spoke a great deal about joy and rejoicing but another major theme to the letter was how to get along well together. He said in chapter two that we should esteem others better than we do ourselves. He explained that as not just thinking of ourselves but to always consider others as well. There was some conflict among two of the believers in the church, Euodias and Syntyche. He urged them to be of the same mind. I believe he was asking them to each treat the other's wants and needs as they would their own desires.

Jesus is the supreme example of considering others over one's self. He left His glory in Heaven and abased Himself by taking on human flesh. He did not make Himself to be a big deal while He lived on Earth. Everything He did was to fulfill the Father's will and accomplish His purpose. Completely selfless, He bore the shame of the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and yours. Now that is putting others ahead of self.

So, while I could have nudged Amy toward what I wanted for her birthday, I was reminded that sometimes I really must consider others ahead of me. I'm not bucking for husband of the year or a pat on the back. I just believe that the right thing to do was to think of my wife and esteem her ahead of me. Our relationships would sure benefit from more selfless acts. Guys, our wives are precious. Let us be the leaders in our homes and set the example of putting others first. I promise it will be reciprocated. I am going to see John Tesh in concert....for Amy.

Because He lives,


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Keep It Fresh

Do you remember the old coal oil lamps? They gave off quite a bit of light when properly maintained. But if the chimney was allowed to become darkened by soot, or if the wick was left untrimmed then the light became significantly dimmer. Light still shined but not nearly so brightly. Impurities hamper the light. A dim light is functional but its scope of usefullness is limited, whereas a bright light serves a far greater area.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14 that we are the light of the world. In the next verse He noted that a light is not placed under a basket but rather is put on a candlestick so that it benefits all in the house. When we shine brightly we not only receive benefit from the light but we also provide helpful light to others.

Let us consider the parts of a lamp and relate them to our lives. First is the flame, the light itself. Jesus is the light and He never goes out in a believers life. Upon salvation we are born-again into Christ. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. That is a precious promise from Jesus. So we always have the Light.

Next is the oil. It is the fuel for the flame. Impurities mingled with the oil will affect the amount of light. Oil represents the presense and work of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 tell us that when we were saved we were sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the earnest of our salvation. He is the down-payment, if you will. That means that we always have fuel. The Light and the fuel are given to us. We do not earn nor can we purchase either. Salvation is the gift of God as Ephesians 2:8-9 says. Sometimes we try to use our own abilities as fuel but it only gets in the way of the true Oil. As I heard evangelist Gene Williams once say, "I never did one good work before I got saved and I never did one good work after I got saved. The good works done through me after salvation were all performed by the Holy Spirit." He was right. Even when we mean well, our efforts amount to impurities mingled with the Oil.

We come to the wick. It is where the heat of the flame, the air, and the fuel combust into light. When the wick is clean, the light is bright. The wick represents us. We shine brightly when we remain in right fellowship with the Father. When we allow sin into our lives then we, like a dirty wick, grow dimmer and dimmer. To clean a wick, we trim off the sooty black end down to new white material. God has to trim us from time to time. In John 15:2, Jesus said that we will be purged (pruned) so that we can bear more fruit. For our example of a lamp, that means that God trims our wick so we can give off more light. Also, we must be mindful of sin to confess and forsake it. God said in I John 1:9 that He would faithfully forgive and cleanse us when we do.

Lastly, the light is enhanced by the chimney. Again, soot negatively affects the ability of the chimney to function properly. To me, the chimney is those near us that our light influences. Cares for this world are like soot in a chimney. We can get so caught up in daily concerns, worries, and struggles that they cloud the the light we were meant to display. Sometimes we need to wipe the chimney clean. We may have to look at our lives for built up clutter and remove it.

The light, that Jesus said we are, was meant to light the whole house. We and everyone in the house are supposed to be blessed by the Light. I am reminded of the old song "Give Me Oil in my Lamp."

Give me oil in my lamp, Keep me burning,
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp, Keep me burning,
Keep me burning Till the break of day.

Take a close look at the light you give. If it has grown dim because of sin, or the cares of this world, or even your own well-intentioned efforts, then do some trimming. Keep it fresh. Someone may need your light to show them the way to God.

Because He lives,


Monday, September 8, 2008


For the past hour, I have been tweaking this blog page. You may have noticed that I added some links, listed a way to subscribe to this blog, and at the bottom placed a box denoting events that happened on this day in history. I had also added a polling question but I decided not to make the page too busy so I deleted it. There are many items offered that can be added to these blog pages. If one is not careful there could be so many add-ons that the intent of the page gets lost in the mix. An old adage came to mind, "keep it simple sweetheart." I know, the last word is supposed to be "stupid" but that seemed harsh, especially since it was me that sensed the need to simplify things.

Have you noticed that life seems to get more and more cluttered with add-ons? Life is not just work, school, and church any more. Civic organizations abound that one can join. Kids can play sports year round, especially if they excel. Besides sports, kids can enroll in scouting, martial arts, gymnastics, and no telling what other types of good activities. Schools offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities. And every group or club we and our kids can join all need to have fund raisers. We are urged to hit up all our friends and family to buy $5 candy bars and $40 tins of popcorn while we are expected to buy our fair share or more to make up for cheap Uncle Joe who won't buy anything from anyone.

We get so busy and spread ourselves so thinly that areas of our lives can suffer. Sadly, the first to feel the strain is often our spiritual lives. It becomes easy to miss personal time with God. That leads to guilt and feelings of failure. Even our church attendance can suffer. Or we pile everything on our backs and onward we trudge. Either way, the most important parts of our lives can get lost in the jumble.

What is most important? Solomon, near the end of his illustrious life, concluded that the whole sum of man was to fear God and keep His commandments. Jesus said we must first love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Then He told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. That is just two things to remember.

Now, God knows we must work to pay the bills. God never said to not play baseball or join the Lions Club. What He does expect and, yes, demand of us is that we never leave our first love, which is our love for Him. Whatever add-ons we attach to our lives whether they be in the secular world or even in the church, we must always keep God first. That makes life much simpler to me. I have two preset priorities and the rest is optional.

So when you feel overwhelmed by the stress and strain of constant activity, you might want to step back, take a deep breath, and remember to KISS.

Because He lives,


Saturday, September 6, 2008

For Solomon

My head was shaved today. It looks funny. It feels funny. I will get teased about my bald head for a while and that too will be funny to some. The humor ends there though. I did not allow my hair to be clipped to the scalp on a whim. It was no stunt or attempt to get attention. A Christian brother who is a member of my church and attends my Sunday School class has cancer and, medically speaking, his prospects are bad. He is 40 years old and has a wife and three kids. Today, folks from our church assisted in a benefit to raise money to help the family. As a part of the benefit, I and two other guys (the brother's boss and his boss' boss) let a barber take his electric clippers to our heads when a certain amount of money was raised for each one.

To us it was simply hair and some good-humored teasing. To his family the money donated will mean so much more. We made a choice that was not afforded to him. Chemo therapy has taken his hair. Our choice was based on our love for him and his family. We can not take the cancer from his body but we can stand beside him and demonstrate our love.

His circumstance is not unique. Many people fight cancer every day. His is not the most tragic story one might hear, though it is heart rending. He has hope that so many do not have. He has One who sticks closer than a brother. He told me a while back that two years ago he would not have been able to handle what he is facing. He now can because within those past two years he came to faith in Jesus as his Savior. He still has cancer, but he is not alone. He would much rather be healthy but he understands that God has a plan and is in control. I believe that God can use a testimony like that to reach the hearts of others.

While I can not make a difference for the masses, I can do something for those near me. Literally hundreds of people demonstrated their love today in a very tangible way. They gave of their time, efforts, and money, but mostly they gave of their hearts. They allowed themselves to be a blessing right where they live. I so strongly believe that God places us where He desires to use us. The choice falls back to us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's call and then to be obedient.

My friend's name is Solomon. I let my hair be cut today because I love Solomon and it was what I could do here and now. I love him because we have the same Father, our Heavenly Father. I love the Father because He first loved me. Jesus hung on a cross and loved me right where He was. Will you love right where you are?

Because He lives,


Friday, September 5, 2008

Notice the Little Things

This morning we had a minor catastrophe. Today is trash day. As our older son carried a trash bag filled with yucky spoiled food from the refrigerator, it burst open just before he got to the curb. What a mess. Befuddled as to what to do and horrified at the thought of touching the awful spillage, our son in tears stood paralyzed in the driveway. My poor wife had to clean up the mess. She sure was not happy about it but it had to be done.

A ruptured trash bag is not the end of the world (unless you are a traumatized 11 year old). Though unhappy at the prospect of handling the garbage, my wife's day was not ruined. The incident is a little thing in the grand scope of life. There was no fanfare save for the few tears of a young boy. But the clean-up needed to be done. She immediately did what she needed to do. Now the mess is gone and she and our 11 year old can get on with their day. By the way, I did take a moment to let her know how much I appreciated her taking care of the matter and that it meant a lot to me even if no one else noticed. In life, even the seemingly little things need attending. If left undone, those small matters grow into a heap ripe for decay.

In our Christian lives if we fail to tend to the "little" things then we may soon find ourselves standing on a mountain of rotting filth. Are we quick to deal with sin as it rears its ugly head or do we let it remain and stink? The Psalmist, David, said in Psa. 66:18 that if I regard sin in my heart that God will not hear me. The Apostle John tells us in I John 1:9 that if we will confess our sins then God is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. A particular sin might seem like a small thing to you and I but to God it is not small. Sin hinders our fellowship with the Father.

Do we guard our relationships or do we allow wounds of hurt feelings or unkind words to fester? Paul told Timothy that the tongue is wicked and asked the rhetorical question as to who could tame it. Oh, how easy it is to offend with words. The childrens rhyme "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is not true. Words can cut deeply. A thoughtless remark can severely damage a relationship of not quickly addressed. Let us go to an offended brother or sister quickly seeking restoration and asking forgiveness. Proverbs 25:11 says that words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver. They are precious. So are our relationships. Make sure a "little" thing does not ruin something precious.

Eternity rests on one little thing. What have you done with Jesus Christ? Do you believe Him? Have you placed your trust in Him? Have you asked Him to forgive you and save you? He does not ask us to perform great and glorious tasks to win His favor. He does not ask us to self-actualize into the very best person we can be before we approach Him. He simply asks us to believe. It seems so easy, so simple, so small. Yet, your eternity depends on whether or not your faith is in Christ.

Do the small things while they are still small. If we ignore them, we will find ourselves in the middle of a garbage dump without a shovel.

Because He lives,


Thursday, September 4, 2008

First thoughts

Many of us computer users have spent years searching, reading, admiring, and internally commenting on other people's web pages. We have wished for a way to express our thoughts without spending gobs of money publishing a website. Blogging now gives us that long sought after venue.

As a Christian, I want whole-heartedly to share words of encouragement with as many people as I can. God's word speaks to every person and to every situation that will arise in each person's life. My aim is to comment on many of those life events and share insight into them as I keep the Bible's perspective in mind.

A bit of background on who I am and how I came to be here:

I am a native-born Texan (for better and/or worse). My family began attending South Jefferson Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, Texas, when I was 10 and I placed my trust in Jesus Christ at age 11. I surrendered to the ministry when I was 16. My life suddenly and drastically changed at age 22 on November 5, 1984 when a pick-up truck struck me in the back as I walked along side a road. Since then I have been paralyzed at the waist. The most amazing part of my injury is the abiding peace of God that continues to afirm to me that He is in control, He has a plan for my life, and that life is still good.

I spent four years at the University of Texas at Arlington cramming two years worth of study into those four years. I took my time because I was a member of the university's wheelchair basketball team, the Movin' Mavs. During that time, we won two national collegiate basketball titles and were received at the White House by President Clinton. After graduating in December, 1995, I moved back to Mount Pleasant. Even though many neat things had happened for me, there was something missing from my life. I had stopped listening to the word of God and allowed my fellowship with Him to grow cold and distant.

In 1997 as I visited a friend in the hospital, I was urged to come visit church at South Jefferson Baptist. I did. And, praise God, I knew I was home. I knew God had plans for us but I figured I had messed everything up by living just for me for a dozen years. Thankfully, God's plans are bigger than we are. I was happy to be in church again and to again be right with the Lord and in close fellowship with Him. Late in 1999 our associate pastor left for full-time evangelism. I told our pastor, Bro. Tommy Oglesby, that if he ever needed help checking on our sick folks then I would be glad to go visit them in his stead. Some weeks later, Bro. Tommy approached me and asked me to join the staff as the Minister of Pastoral Care. I was thrilled. God really was not through with me after all. I joined the staff in January, 2000.

In August 2003, I met a Christian lady online and began chatting to her. Those chats led to a date. A year later those dates led to a wedding. I had been single for 17 years and had nearly given up hope that God would allow me to be married again. He not only answered my prayer for a godly wife but He threw in two great little boys to boot. She is my best friend and is more than I ever asked from God in a wife. Ain't God good?

God is so wonderful to me and my family. I owe Him all I am and ever hope to be. He is everything and I am nothing. I have no trouble admitting that truth. In the coming posts I want to share thoughts of God's goodness as expressed in His word and as demonstrated in life. I hope those who read will get a blessing and I hope to have blessings shared back with me in comments and discussion.

God bless you real good. Come back and answer back often. Let us grow together in the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Because He lives,