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,


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From Blunder to Wonder

Saturday I bought a new shirt for Easter. I wish the story was that simple and direct but, as is usual for me, it was not that simple. The day started well and ended well but in between the beginning and the ending there sure were lots of oh-well's.

The morning began with a fine breakfast made by my wife. I like to give her a plug when I can and the fact that I make points with her for it does not hurt. All I had remaining to do that day was to attend a wedding. I was scheduled to preach the next morning, Easter morning, at a church in Dallas and I was actually already set on what I wanted to say. Whether or not it sounded that way the next morning to the congregants of First Missionary Baptist Church in Cockrell Hill is another matter. In my mind, I was ready.

Since I had such a lightly loaded day AND since I would be preaching Easter Sunday morning, I had the bright idea to buy a new shirt. Not just any old shirt. I needed (the word "wanted" is more appropriate here but to garner your sympathy I will stay with the needs based approach) a gonna-preach-on-Easter-Sunday-morning shirt. My journey began three hours before time for the wedding. Surely, anyone can drive 50 miles and buy a shirt and return in such a time frame. Well, I am not anyone and neither am I Shirley. I returned home at 9 P.M. and I missed the wedding.

My first stop was the Longview Mall. I arrived when I expected to arrive. I had two stores in which to shop, JC Penney and Dillards. After 45 minutes of fretting in Dillards, I hurried to Penney's where I found nothing. It took me 15 minutes to realize that though. My hour of shopping was up and I had nothing to show for it. So, I went back to Dillards. I must not go, and empty handed. After 20 more minutes I decided to leave Longview with no new shirt.

Driving toward Gilmer I knew I had stayed too long in the mall which meant that I would miss the wedding. I called the preacher and left him a message. Minutes later I was speaking to the sister of the prospective groom and making heart-felt apologies. I called my wife and informed her of my fruitless trip and that attending the wedding was lost. She was dutifully sympathetic and I knew she would console me once I got home. Then I had another stroke of genius. Let's go to Tyler. There is another mall there!

So, I called Amy back and informed her of my bright idea. She agreed that since I was already out and had missed the wedding that it made sense to continue my search for the "needed" shirt. Bless her heart, she is a good wife.

I must pause here and explain why finding a new shirt is such an ordeal for me. I am picky. And I am not exactly svelte. Reference my pictures to the right of this blog and you will understand. I needed a cool new long-sleeved shirt that was neither blue nor white and sized in extra-gargantuan. They don't grow on trees. Being the day before Easter made such a shirt even harder to find. This was the toughest Easter egg hunt I had ever been on.

Once at the mall in Tyler, I again tried Dillards and JC Penney. I actually found a couple shirts at each store. In fact, I had two shirts in my lap in JC Penney and was rolling toward a checkout when I suddenly became disgusted with both my choices. One was an orange checked pattern that the more I looked at it the more it made me think of a rodeo clown. Rodeo clowns are fine fellows. I know a few. I am not disparaging rodeo clowns or their attire but that shirt just was not what I wanted. Both shirts would have been okay for attending church. They would have been fine if I was singing on a Sunday evening. But neither shirt would do for preaching Easter Sunday morning.

After much inner debate and consternation, I left yet another mall empty handed and dejected. I had one more possibility. There is a big & tall store near the Tyler mall so I drove over there with little hope of finding my Easter egg, uh, I mean, shirt.

I had not been in the Casual Male for more than 3 minutes when I spotted it. It was not blue neither was it white. It came in extra-gargantuan. And best of all it was a bright Eastery kind of color, PEACH. I found my new gonna-preach-on-Easter-Sunday-morning shirt. I was near tears as I made my purchase. Not really, but I sure was relieved. I had persevered and finally found what I was bound and determined to get.

When I returned to my van to come home I noticed the front tires and the near complete lack of tread on them. We had a two hour drive the next morning and the forecast was for storms. Well, those front tires would not do. As I left Tyler, I called a buddy who works in the tire department at our local Wal-Mart. I asked if he had two tires like the ones he installed a few months ago on my rear wheels. He checked and sure enough he found two. I told him I was just over an hour away. It was 7 P.M.

Don told me his boss had okay'd the installation and that he and a co-worker would wait on me. What I had not realized was that the tire center closed at 7. I thought they were open until 9. They waited on me for an hour so they could get me the one new thing I really did need that day, tires. Had I not parked the way I did in Tyler I would not have noticed how bad the front tires were. Had Don and his boss not been willing to wait for me to drive back to Mount Pleasant, we would have had to weather the winds and rain on slick tires. Had God not been in control of it all and had He not watched over me and my family there is no knowing what might have happened on the road to Dallas. But He is in control and He does watch over His kids even when their minds are on frivolous things.

While Don and his co-worker waited for me, a couple from Arkansas came into the shop. They were pulling a trailer and trying to get back home when one of their tires threw off its tread. They were in immediate dire need. Those two guys put on a new tire for them. God took care of them, too. He saved them a possible overnight hotel stay or a possible wreck. He used Don and his co-worker to bless more than just me Saturday night.

I do goofy things and I suppose we all do from time to time. It sure is good to know that God watches over all His kids and gives us what we need when we need it even when we have no clue what we were really in need of. He is able to take all my blunders and make them into wonders that accomplish His purposes and give Him glory.

"Thank you, Father, for your abundant grace extended to me even when I have my eyes on the wrong prize."

Because He lives,


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Apples of Gold

Sunday evening we (South Jefferson Baptist Church) hosted the Hoppers in concert. The concert was great. They sang wonderfully and ministered spiritually. We have enjoyed bringing in the Hoppers annually for the last 5 years or so. They are a top southern gospel group and it is nice having a big name group come sing. They pack the house and several smaller area churches even dismiss their evening services so they can come be a part too. I love the good singing and I love the fellowship between churches. Would to God that churches did more fellowshipping and serving together but that is another post.

After the concert, I quickly made my way to the booth where the Hoppers sold their CD's and DVD's and other things. I was on a mission. Our older son, Riley, has a drum set and wishes to learn how to play them. Since neither Amy or I play drums and since we have declined to pay $65/hr for lessons, I was in line to buy a drum instructional DVD made by Michael Hopper, the family's drummer.

With DVD in hand, I gathered up Riley and we went to the front of the church where Mike was chatting with folks as they drifted by offering words of joy and thanks for a wonderful service. When I could, I asked Mike if he would sign the DVD for Riley. I knew Ry would like that and it afforded us an opportunity to get to know him a bit. He was very gracious and encouraged Riley to learn to play the drums.

We had been blessed by the whole evening. We had made our purchases. We had gathered autographs. We had visited with friends and visitors. I thought we were finally ready to go home. But there was yet someone else with whom I needed to speak. I believe that appointment was set by God.

As much as the singing blessed my heart, there was something else Sunday evening that meant even more to me. Claude Hopper, the group's patriarch and founder, introduced to the congregation his older sister, Virginia Steele. Mrs. Virginia is now 84. This was the second time she has attended their concert held at our church. Both times, Claude has introduced her and asked her to share a few words of testimony. She is a charming lady who loves the Lord deeply. With a captivating, deep-south accent she eloquently expresses her love for Christ.

After getting Mike's autograph for Riley, I turned to roll up the aisle when Mrs. Virginia looked my way and began moving toward me. Naturally, I turned toward her and smiled as I reached out to shake her hand. I thanked her for coming and for her words of testimony. She smiled and said she remembered me from the last time she had come. That was sweet but what she said next moved me deeply.

She said she had often prayed for me and that because of me she was more lovingly mindful of people with disabilities. Glory Hallelujah! That's a God thing. Her facial expression was so sweet. Her eyes were glassy with tears as she talked with me. I immediately teared and swallowed the lump in my throat. I thanked her profusely and told her that I believe God uses me in a more impactful way because of the wheelchair. I believe that. She understood. The moment was precious to me and I will not soon forget it.

Do you remember the words of Proverbs25:11? "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Mrs. Virginia's words were that to my heart. We only spoke for a couple minutes yet the blessings linger still.

We will each encounter around ten people every day. We will speak on average about 25,000 words every day. How many of those meetings and how many of those words could someone reflect on and say that we were to them apples of gold in pictures of silver?

Our words matter. Just as we love to be encouraged, let us be ones to speak encouragement to others today. You don't have to memorize anything. You don't have to be profound. Be sincere. Be loving. Most of all, be ready to be a blessing to someone you meet along your journey. The blessings will far outlast the effort and will mean so much to both of you.

Because He lives,


Friday, April 3, 2009

When The Chicken Is No Longer Finger-Licking

We are all feeling the impact of the current economic climate. Effects are felt nationally, locally, and personally. We probably all have varying opinions on government bailouts, employee bonuses, tax rates, and the like. The stock market is like pond ice in Spring, dubious as to whether or not it will support one's weight. I am sure you have noticed that store prices have risen. And gas prices are also inching back north of $2 per gallon.

Personally most devastating is job losses. Detroit, MI has an unemployment rate of 22 percent. I hate it but I can live with that since Detroit is 900 miles away and I have no friends or relatives living there. Closer to heart and home though, Pilgrims Pride made another installment on their down-sizing today. Over 100 people lost jobs. That's tough to live with because many of those are friends and some are very dear friends. The fowl has gone foul.

I love what one friend said in response to losing their job. He and his wife both know that God remains in control and that God still has plans for their lives. They have sunshine even on a cloudy day in their life. And its not just their imagination.

The chicken industry is a major player in the local economy. It will continue to be so even after today. Even those who were ousted today will still eat chicken, though I would not blame them for trying out Tyson chicken.

How do we respond to changes in life that are beyond our control? What will we do now? Some will assess blame. Some will slip into depression. Some will grow angry and even bitter. Some will even point a finger at God and demand an answer to the question of why. Those are all responses of the natural man and, honestly, are easy for even Christians to fall victim to if they take their eyes off the Lord.

The answer to what we do now is to keep trusting Christ. That may sound really simple and obvious but it is the truth. We must keep our eyes on the Lord. Daniel in praying for his people confessed to God that they, as a people, had turned their faces away from Him. Nationally, we have done that too. Locally, let us remember things we already know and draw comfort from that knowledge. God is in control. God has both plan and purpose for His children. Keep your face turned toward God.

I am praying for my friends who have been forced to search for a new job. My heart is with them. My whole-hearted belief is that God will provide. Chicken was just a tool God used to bless them. Praise God that He has many many tools to use.

Whatever you face that has become difficult, painful, sour, or even foul, remember that God has not forgotten you nor is He ignoring you. He has plans to bless you and use you. Taste and see that the Lord is good. He's still finger-licking good.

Because He lives,


Friday, February 20, 2009

Sitting with a GIANT

Tuesday morning after breakfast, I (along with my pastor, Tommy Oglesby, and our youth minister, Kevin Welborn) received a special blessing by getting to sit and chat with a fellow who I consider a giant. He has preached and pastored for over 50 years. He has authored several books, produced many Bible study series, conducted seminars and conferences all over the country, served as president of the SBC, and so much more could be said about this person. His name is Jerry Vines. To me, he is a legend, a celebrity, and certainly, a hero of the faith.

Indulge me for a moment to make a side comment.

Men like Jerry Vines, Adrian Rogers, W. A. Criswell, and Jerry Fallwell are rare blessings from God. God uses men like them to shape whole denominations and to stand as beacons in the night giving direction and rallying other men of God to stand with them. Three of those four have already gone home to be with the Lord. Let us treasure the treasures that God has bestowed on us by giving men like Jerry Vines to our generation. Americans honor athletic talent, Hollywood celebrities, and even the infamous. I believe we should reconsider who we call heroes and revere a life given to eternal things.

Ok, back to my story.

Needless to say, spending time with Bro. Jerry thrilled my soul. He told us about what he is doing and the plans he has for his ministry. He asked our opinions on stuff. Did you catch that? Jerry Vines asked for MY opinion. Amazing. For half an hour we all chatted. My week was made in 30 minutes.

We were all in Euless, Texas, for an SBTC Empower Conference. We heard great preachers including Jerry Vines, of course, and also Emir and Ergun Caner, and others. Ricky Skaggs performed as did the Booth Brothers. We had a great time. Breakfast was the icing on the cake.

Later in the day as I reflected on time spent with a man I consider a giant of God, a thought struck me. We are all giants to someone. We may not know who that is but I believe we are heroes to other folks. Dads and Moms should be heroes to their kids. Church leaders are often admired by congregants. A stranger may witness an act of kindness we do and be moved. The possibilities are enormous. The impact can be immeasurable and eternal.

Paul and Peter told us to be sober minded. For me, that means I must daily live in awareness of my influence on those whom I encounter. Let my little story of meeting Jerry Vines be a reminder to you that someone (or maybe many) is watching you. They are encouraged by your example and are thrilled spending time with you. I say that not to swell your ego but to point out that you are a Jerry Vines to someone. Do not dismiss that or take it lightly. Someone's eternity may hang in the balance.

Because He lives,