Monday, July 25, 2016

A Father knows His child's voice.

One evening last week I was called to the hospital and made it home just after supper. Ready to sit down and grab a bite for supper, I came in and headed to put up my truck keys and take off my shoes. As I walked down the hall towards my bedroom, I heard my oldest son Dru make a statement. This statement is the same statement he's made time and time again. The only thing different about the statement is the tone in which he spoke. Like any conversation you have, his tone reflected something different about the statement. All he said was "Hey dad." The thing that caught my attention as I made my way to the bedroom was that his tone implied he needed something. He might have had a question. He may have needed some help with something. He might have wanted something. In the end, I knew my son needed something from me.

I thought it was interesting that after 11 years I had tuned my ear to my child's voice in such a way that I could tell the inflection of his voice when he needed something. I find it even more interesting that it doesn't take that long for God to recognize that we have a need. Sure, God's ear is probably tuned to each of His child's voices like mine is, but the Bible tells us that God knows our needs before we even present them to Him. Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 (NIV), "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." How reassuring is this. How comforting is it to know that before our need even arrives in our life God already knows about it. Not only does He know about it, but He's already made plans to meet your need.

Many times though, rather than relying on God to meet our needs we seek help and guidance from every place under the sun except Him. We talk to our friends. We Google an answer. We read articles. We do all this extra and unnecessary work when God has planned to provide for our need before we were ever born. All we have to do is ask Him for help. James 4:2 (NIV) warns us as to why we don't have God's provision in our life when we go chasing after help from the world. James wrote, "You do not have, because you do not ask God." Many times we wallow in need when God, who already knows and is ready to provide for our need, simply wants us to ask Him for the help. This isn't because He is some sort of power hungry, egotistical, self-absorbed megalomaniac. It's because He wants us to see He is our provider and He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to put our faith in Him for everything in this life, including when we need some help.

I'll end with this. I stopped in when I came back down the hall past my son's room. I simply asked him if he needed something and he did. If you're struggling with something and need God's help, don't wait. Go to Him in prayer and share with Him your need. He'll provide for your need as His will determines and you will begin to trust Him more as you see He is faithful to provide.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

The one thing some Christians will regret most.

Regret is a natural part of living life. We regret not taking action when we should have done so. We regret poor decisions we made. Even when someone says "I have no regrets," deep down there will always be regrets over things they would have done differently. 

So why do we have regrets? We have regrets because we eventually have clarity that only comes with time. In the moment we can't see how a particular decision affects every aspect of our life down the road. It is only when we get farther down the road, further removed from the decision, that we see what we would have done differently.

The Christian life is no different. As we grow older we start to look back on our walk with Christ and feel regret over things we would have done differently. Some would have given their life to Christ much sooner. Others would have spent more time in prayer. Some would have spent more time reading and studying God's Word. While others would have served Him more faithfully. The list could go on and on and on.

So what would be the one thing some Christians will regret more than others? In a word, "apathy." I think that the one thing some Christians will regret more than anything else will be their apathy towards God, their relationship with Christ, and their service in the Kingdom of God. They will look back on their life and realize all of the time they wasted on things of this world all because they were apathetic towards their faith. They will look back over their life and see all the ways they tried to enjoy life and make the most of it, only to find that those things will pass away. The only thing in this life that will endure for eternity are the things we do for Christ. If we have nothing, or at the most very little, that we have done for Christ when this life is over, then we will see the regrets creeping in.

If regrets occur only after we've had time to see the affects of our decisions, then when will some Christians regret their apathy towards their faith? It could be when their older. It could be when they see their children and grandchildren growing up without a strong spiritual foundation. It could be when they take their first glance at Christ in heaven. The best time to have those regrets is right now, so you still have time to do something about it.

To the Christians who don't take seriously their walk with Christ, I hope you will hear this as a wake up call. A call to set aside the excuses of "I'm busy," "I sleep in on Sundays," or "I will get back in church soon." Hear this not as judgmental words but the truth spoken in love. Set aside the apathy and do what God designed you to do. Worship Him. Serve Him. Teach your family to do the same. Quit putting off to tomorrow what you need to do today. Because if you don't, eventually you will wake up with plenty to regret.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Is swearing a matter of integrity?

Recently I found myself somewhat surprised by the language we heard when our family was on vacation in New York and Boston. With these two cities being as large as they are, not to mention northern cities well outside the Bible-belt, and a concentration of people who hold completely different values than we do, I fully expected to hear quite a bit of swearing. The ironic thing is I can only recall one specific time where we heard swearing to a degree that it caught our attention and we were concerned our kids would hear it. No, my kids don't live in some holier-than-thou bubble where they don't ever hear swear words, but my wife and I work hard to instill in them that swearing is not acceptable or common place. We don't swear at our kids or at each other for that matter. They do hear swear words in TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, our society is shifting to see swearing as more and more acceptable. The real question we ought to be asking ourselves is this, "Is swearing a matter of integrity?"

When you look up the word integrity in Webster's Dictionary here is the definition you will find. "The quality of being honest and fair; Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values." When we think about swearing and integrity the two don't generally seem to be related. But when you think about the definition of integrity from a spiritual standpoint the two seem to more closely related than originally thought. If integrity has to do with "being honest" about who we are, say about being a Christian, then the words we use reveal how honest we are about who we are. If we have a certain moral code, say Christianity, that we adhere to and swearing is not a part of that moral code, then we see that swearing really is a matter of integrity.

If we are a Christian, then our responsibility is to live according to the teachings of the Bible. Basically, our faith determines the moral code we adhere to. That being said, we read in the Bible, in no uncertain terms, that swearing has no part in the life of a Christian. James 3:9-12 (NIV) says, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." That needs no explanation or elaboration. That is as clear as it could be. Swearing has no place in the Christian's speech.

If our integrity, us being honest about who we are as a Christian and adhering to a Christian moral code, means that swearing should not be a part of our speech, then we must work to make it happen. We must seek God's help and His guidance through prayer. We must work to replace those words with more wholesome words (Ephesians 4:29) that edify and build up. In the end, those around us will notice a difference in our speech and not only will we be closer to God but hopefully others will be led closer to Him through our speech.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

There can be only one...

There is something unusual about the way the wind blows in front of our church. It probably has to do with a couple of things: the lay of the land, the point on the hill where the church is located, and the trees on surrounding properties. One thing I have noticed on several occasions is that one of the two flags out front of our church moves more than the other. Could it have to do with the placement of the flag poles in relation to the hill and the trees? Sure. Do I take it as a "sign" of something bigger? No. The flag that seems to move regularly is the Christian Flag, as evidenced in the picture to the right. It moves with more frequency than the Flag of the United States of America. It has been a rather interesting sight to see from time to time.

The reality of what we see in those flags will one day be played out. Only one kingdom will remain standing when all others fall to the wayside. Now don't hear me prophesying doom to America because I'm as patriotic as the next red-blooded American. I stand, remove my hat, and place my hand over my heart when the national anthem is played or the pledge of allegiance is said. I think that America is a great nation with opportunity for all people and a land where, currently, I can practice my faith without fear of punishment or imprisonment. But one day my allegiance to the country of my birth will no longer matter. In that day my allegiance to the kingdom I've been adopted into will be all that matters. 

God's Word tells us in Titus 3:7 that when we put our faith in Christ we become heirs of the God of the Universe. God also reminds us in Ephesians 1:5 that Christians are adopted into His family. This means that Christians are citizens of heaven (Paul's words not mine) and that we must remember we are simply passing through this country in which we live. What that means for us is that we should be good citizens of our nation and take full advantage of the liberties God has given us in this country. We should vote. We should pray for our government leaders. We should exercise our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We should do all of this as citizens of this great country. But we must also do it with an eye to the future when there will be only one Ruler and all earthly nations, kingdoms, and governments will have passed away. We look to that future either with fear or anticipation. Fear if we don't have a relationship with Jesus because we won't be ruling with Him. Instead we would be separated from Him forever. Anticipation if we have a relationship with Him because we will rule alongside Him (read the book of Revelation for a confirmation). We will rule and reign with Him forever.

Will it be disheartening one day in the future, after Christ returns to see my country and all the countries of the world no longer in existence? I'm sure on some level it will. But it won't compare to the joy experienced by being eternally in the presence of Christ. My encouragement to you today is to be ready for that day when it arrives, so you can remember with fondness the country that afforded you the freedom of worship and experience the kingdom that will last forever.

*Not sure if you'll be ready for that day when it arrives? Click here to make sure you are ready.

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