Monday, January 25, 2016

Look Closely.

If you were to take a look at the parking lot of our church yesterday you'd have seen a primarily clean and dry area thanks to the generosity of a church member. The parking lot was clean and waiting on cars to park in it. But on the day Christians gather to celebrate the risen Savior, the day Christians gather to worship the God Who has provided them with salvation, the church was empty. If you look at the picture to the right you can't really imagine why the church (the body of believers) hadn't gathered for corporate worship as commanded in the Bible. Yesterday afternoon I played basketball with one of our church members in this nice clean church parking lot. It really felt weird to me as I played basketball and it wasn't because I was playing in shorts and a t-shirt with several inches of snow on the ground (I've done that before). I considered it an almost double-standard for not gathering for worship but gathering to play in the church yard. But there's more to the picture if you look closely at a wider picture of the same parking lot. See the bottom picture is one from just a few feet further away from the parking lot. This shows the real reason we didn't have worship yesterday. It's not because the parking lot or church property wasn't prepared to receive worshipers. We couldn't have worship because of the poor road conditions leading to the church. Even today there are still hazardous conditions on the roads causing workers to be delayed and schools to be cancelled.

We're all tired of hearing about snow and the roads and all that comes along with a huge snow storm like the one we just experienced. But the point of today's post is not about the snow but about the perspective we carry with us of others. Often times we look with a cursory view of someone's situation and make a snap judgment. We all do it. Don't say that you don't. From time to time we all make a quick evaluation of someone. The problem is we are usually taking a view of their situation like the upper picture of our church. We don't have all the information and our judgment of them is exactly that, a judgment. Instead we need to take a wider view of someone's situation before we come to a conclusion on why they are doing what they are doing. Some times people are experiencing the worst days of their life. Others are just having a bad day. Regardless of what is going on in their life we need to be wise like James tells us to be in James 1:19 where he writes, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (NIV). What we really need to do to follow James' counsel is to look closely at the big picture and not make a snap decision based off a narrow view. It will help us not sin and it might even help the other person out on a very bad day.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Don't Worry!

For the past few months I've had a personal need that needed to be resolved. At first I wondered how it would be met and set it on the back burner while I tried to figure out how to fulfill my need. As the weeks of wonder rolled into months, I noticed that my wonder was turning into worry. I found myself worrying about how I would figure out how to fix the situation. Finally, after months of worry and useless attempts at self-sufficiency, I finally made a half-hearted, less than earnest attempt at asking God for help. To be honest with you, my prayer was much like a spoiled child who hasn't gotten their way and is forced to apologize or ask nicely for something. Looking back on it, I'm embarrassed at the way I prayed because it was a poor and pathetic attempt at approaching the God of the Universe for help. But in that moment of desired self-sufficiency and downright spiritual immaturity God taught me a valuable lesson.

See, God could have said no to this half-hearted attempt at prayer. Based on my attitude, I didn't deserve His help. He could have let me continue to wallow in my own self-sufficiency and self-pity over my inability to fulfill my need. He could have sat back and waited on a more mature version of myself to reconcile my needs and His ability and desire to provide. But He didn't. Like a good and gracious Father, He looked past my sinfulness, lack of respect, and I-can-do-this-myself attitude and He provided what I needed. Yesterday when He provided for this particular need, I was speechless (ask my wife, it's surprising when it happens because it doesn't happen often). But more importantly I was humbled. I was humbled that God had looked past all my faults and still loved me enough to provide for my needs. In that moment of humility before God I learned a valuable lesson that I seem to need to learn regularly. The lesson He taught me was to not worry. I had worried and fretted over how I would resolve my need. I had tried to figure out how I would fulfill my need. I found myself worrying about how I would fix my situation. All along what I needed to do was humble myself before God and pray, rather than worry. In His moment of provision, He reminded me of my inability to provide for myself and His desire and ability to provide for me. Reflecting on it now I'm still humbled by His act of generosity towards me, regardless of my attitude and pride.

Today if you are worrying over something, then I would encourage you to put down your pride and humble yourself before God. Ask Him for help with whatever situation you are facing and then trust Him for the answer. Don't make it a less than earnest appeal. Instead make it a whole-hearted appeal to Him who is able to supply. In His time, in His will, and in His way He will answer your prayer. It may not be the way you want or expect, but He will answer. So don't worry. Pray.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Death is certain and life is not.

There is a new show advertised on Discovery Channel titled, "Killing Fields." In an advertisement I heard the other day one of the persons on the show, a police detective, makes a comment to the affect of "I carry two things with me every day. Death is certain and life is not." The reality of this phrase has become more real to me over the past few days. As sometimes happens in ministry, I've helped with two funerals in three days and will perform another within a week. Spending time in the presence of so many people hurting because of death helps to put life in perspective. It will remind you to hold close those that you love. It will remind you of what is really important in life. And most importantly it will turn your attention towards being ready when death comes calling.

About 13 years ago when my grandmother was dying of cancer my grandfather said something that has stuck with me. Talking about death, he said, "That is something can't none of us dodge." Boy was he right. Last time I checked the death rate is hovering around 100% and the only thing certain in this life besides taxes is death. When we move past the inevitability of death, we have to consider what it means to be prepared for death. Do we have our affairs in order? Have we made any arrangements we needed to make? Have we given directions to our loved ones about services? Have we done all those things we think need to be done prior to our final good-bye. But more importantly, have we settled our account with God. Have we made clear to Him, and ourselves, where we stand on a relationship with Him. Have we sought His forgiveness for our sins or are we taking the penalty of our sins into eternity with us? Have we accepted the free gift of salvation that is offered through Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross. 

The beauty of the situation is we don't have to wait until we are on our death bed (if we are fortunate enough to have one) before we make a decision concerning salvation. As it says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, "Today is the day of salvation" (NLT). Today is as good a day as any to accept God's free gift of salvation. All it requires is for you to put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, believing that He is the perfect Son of God, who died for the sins of mankind, and who was raised from the dead by the power of God. Seek His forgiveness for your sins and as the Prophet Isaiah said, "Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near." (Isaiah 55:6). Because one day you won't be able to make that decision any longer. You will either be in heaven with God for all eternity because you made the decision to follow Christ, or you'll be separated and cut off from the presence of God for all eternity in hell. It's that simple. Eternity holds two destinations and you choose where you'll be.

My encouragement to you today is to put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior so you don't have to worry about what happens to you when this life is over. You can enjoy what this life has in store for you as you walk through it with Him as your guide. If you're ready to make that decision and need someone to talk to, email me at and I will be glad to talk with you about it. If you have a friend or family member who needs to hear this truth about life, death, heaven, and hell, then I encourage you, out of your love for them, to share this post with them. It's never to early to share Jesus with someone who doesn't know Him.

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