Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why worry?

In Job 42:2, Job tells God: "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted..." It’s the beginning of a great statement of faith that Job delivers after realizing just who God is. It’s a statement that most of us would readily agree with, without much thought at all. God had convinced Job that his power was unlimited. Let me ask you this: Are you convinced that God’s power is unlimited? Really???? "I know that you can do all things..." He’s God, of course He can do all things. We believe that...don’t we?

Worry is one those areas of sinfulness that we don’t often think about. When is the last time you asked forgiveness for excessive worry? I’m not talking about normal concern about the everyday comings and goings of life. I mean those times when, after praying about something, we obsessively worry about it, too. Ever laid in bed at night, unable to sleep over something you’ve prayed about? Probably so. What’s the message we’re sending God? When we let worry consume us, aren’t we really saying God this is so big and so important to me that, yes, I’ll pray about it, but I’m really not sure you can handle I better stress over it, too. We’re really saying one of three things:
1. I don’t trust you God, to do what You say.
2. I don’t believe you God, that you can do what You say.
3. Or, I don’t love you God, enough to hand it over to you.

But when we acknowledge the Unlimited Power of God, we’re saying YOU ARE GOD, and I AM NOT. I love when science tries to prove or disprove miracles in the Bible. Television shows like "Mysteries of the Bible" or "Miracles of the Bible Explained" always try to put scientific reasoning into Biblical occurrences.  But they usually miss the point....they usually leave out the only real factor: God.

I’ve heard meteorology people debate scientifically whether or not any weather phenomena could cause the Red Sea to part – but Exodus 17 says "the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land and the waters were divided," It was a God thing...

Science debates whether a man could possibly live in the belly of a fish for three days, but Jonah 1:17 says "But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah," the Lord provided...See, it was a God thing...

Astronomers have long debated what star, if any, shone so brightly in the East guiding the Magi, ignoring that Genesis 1:16 tells who the creator of the stars is...It was a God thing.

And the greatest provision God has made for us. John 3:16 tells us that He loved us to the point that he PROVIDED His only son, "that whosoever should believe..."It’s a God thing...

Let me to ask you this...What impossibilities are you facing? What worries are eating you up? What are you lying in bed at night worrying about? What do you have that God can’t handle? You make it a God thing...make it a GOD thing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


You can find just about anything on the internet these days. To this point, I Googled "building a hang glider," just to see if I could find basic instructions on how to build my own apparatus for soaring high in the air. Sure enough, I found enough information that I feel quite confident that in the little corner workshop of my garage I can build a hang glider, suitable for flight. Only problem is, I’m not too crazy about being up high, so I’m looking for a test pilot that would be willing to try out my new hang glider. My house is pretty tall, and has the proper pitch facing the west, from where the prevailing Kansas winds usually come, so take off from my roof should be, well, a breeze! Like I said, I’m quite confident that with the information I’ve found on the ‘net and some basic flying instructions, one of you will be soaring off the top of my house in no time. All I need is a volunteer...anyone?

Now, if anyone of you are considering my offer, please drop me a line so I can immediately contact your closest relative. Obviously they need to take you somewhere for some serious evaluation!

I John 5:12 makes a statement in which we should have the utmost confidence. It says:
"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."

There is no wiggle room here. Christians are often called out for being intolerant, having the audacity to believe that we have the only avenue to God, to heaven. It’s as if Jesus said something like "No one comes to the Father except through me." Oh wait, He did (John 14:6). We can have the greatest confidence in these words of Truth.

One of the greatest myths Satan has spun is the concept that Hell is only for the most despicable of people. Whenever a Timothy McVeigh or Sadam Hussein dies, the world instantly feels something like "well, now they’re getting their just due." With anybody else, "they’re in a better place." The problem with that way of thinking is it leaves Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross out of the equation. Satan has a majority of the world thinking in terms of "earning" salvation. Even Christians can fall for this notion. I was teaching a Bible study once and discussing Mother Teresa. I asked the group of believers how many of them thought Mother Teresa was in heaven today, and they instantly raised their hands in unison. Then I asked, "Why is she in heaven?" Immediately I started hearing about the wonderful works she had performed while living on this earth, and how compassionate and loving a person she was...all true attributes to her character, but none of which got Mother Teresa one inch closer to heaven. No, Mother Teresa is in heaven today only because of her acceptance of Jesus as Lord of her life, her Savior. Romans 10:13 tells us plainly, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved," another concrete statement we can put our full confidence in.

How about you today? Have you taken that step, the only step that will gain you access to the Father, accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior? Don’t fall for the notion that somehow you’re living a pretty good life, so you’re probably going to be okay in the end. That’s like meeting me on the roof with my homemade hang just won’t fly.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Following at a Distance?

In Luke 22: 54-62 we read:
54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him."  
57 But he denied it. "Woman, I don’t know him," he said.
58 A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them."
"Man, I am not!" Peter replied.
59 About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean."
60 Peter replied, "Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

This passage is often referred to as Peter’s denial. Two things jump out at me here. Verse 61 says Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter. Jesus looked him straight in the eye. Was this the all time case of conviction, or what! Only hours earlier, Peter vowed to follow Jesus, "even unto death," and at his first opportunity to make good on his vow, he fails miserably. And yet, I have so many times failed in my efforts to serve Christ. And, like Peter, God can look us dead in the eye, holding us accountable for those failures. But as we later find with Peter, God redeems us, forgives us, and give us more opportunities to feed His sheep.

The other aspect of this passage I find telling is at the end of verse 54, "...Peter followed at a distance." Simon Peter was at his most courageous, impetuous self when he was in Christ's immediate presence, wasn’t he. When Jesus came walking on water toward the boat full of disciples, it was only Peter who:"... got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (Matthew 14:29)

When Jesus was arrested in the garden, we see:
Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear; (John 18:10)

And finally, it was our friend Peter, who boldly and correctly answers Jesus’ question of identity with the statement of statements:"...Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)

Much like ourselves, when Peter followed "at a distance," his demeanor changed. His boldness weakened. We have to be careful not to follow Christ at a distance. When we put other activities or events ahead of serving or worshiping Christ, we’re guilty of following Christ at a distance. When we hear the Lord’s name used inappropriately and remain silent, we’re guilty of following Christ at a distance. We wouldn’t tolerate someone speaking about a family member in the same manner we tolerate the use of profanity with the Lord’s name, now would we. And finally, when we put other things or relationships ahead of our relationship with Christ, we’re guilty of following Christ at a distance. Our relationship with our Lord and Savior is to be the number one relationship we have. Jesus tells us plainly to:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:37)

Christ proclaimed that the greatest commandment of all...How's your relationship measuring out these days? Close by Christ, or following at a distance?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Titus2:7 instructs us " in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine..." and 1Timothy 4:12 tells us to " Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."

How many of you would think of yourself as a powerful person? Most of you probably would say "not really," but stop and consider real power. Power can be demonstrated through the examples we set for others to see. Most of us don’t consider the true power we possess. One book I read years ago gave a great illustration of how we sometimes don’t realize the power that we possess. If Clark Kent woke up one morning and forgot he was really Superman, just think of the damage he would cause, ripping doors off the hinges, breaking bones as he shook someone’s hand, etc. He had to constantly remember his physical power and keep from doing utter destruction during his everyday walk. We’re not that different. Everyone of us holds an unrealized amount of power or influence on someone else. That power is much more potent than we realize. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Many years ago in Alexandria, Louisiana, I had the great pleasure of leading an early morning men’s Bible study and prayer group. Men from all age groups would stumble in at 6:00AM on a weekly basis, and share needs, discuss issues, and pray for each other. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. One of the regular attendees of the group was a 85 year old, retired preacher we lovingly called Brother Kelly. Brother Kelly was as godly a man as I’ve ever known, having served God from the time he was a teenager as a pastor. When he was in his mid 80's, Brother Kelly would go to the senior center every day where they served lunch, not to eat himself, but to help with the "old folks," serving meals, cleaning tables, etc. Oh by the way, whenever he got the chance, Bro. Kelly would sit down himself, and tell one of those "old folks" about Jesus...One morning during our Bible study, we were discussing our fathers, and the influence they’d had on our lives. Bro. Kelly told a story that I’ll never forget:

"When I was about 10 years old, the little town I grew up in was forming a baseball team. I really wanted to be on that team, but I had no ball glove. I was in the local general store with my father and there was a ball glove in there for $4.00. We were very poor, and it might as well have been $400. My father worked long hours, but we barely had the means to feed our family, and oftentimes did not. I looked longingly at the glove, but knew better than to ask. We left the store and the prospect of being on that baseball team was vanishing. Over the course of the next week or so, my father was never present for the evening meal. In fact, I went to bed every night without seeing him, and when I got up early the next day, he was already gone. The first night I saw my father again, he walked into the house with a package under his arm. He handed me the package, which I unwrapped to find that $4.00 ball glove inside. You see, my father had been working before and after his regular job, chopping wood and any other odd job he could find for a quarter, a dime, or whatever, because he loved me and wanted me to have that glove..."

Bro. Kelly’s voice trailed off and we looked up to see an 85 year old man openly weeping as he remembered an incredible act of love of a father, 75 years that’s real power. As an example to others, I’m not sure I’ve always been on target, but I’ll never forget what real power a person can possess after that morning with Bro. Kelly.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

This and That - Lima, Peru

A few thoughts about our recent mission trip to Lima, Peru...
Several years ago, I made four mission trips to Honduras. I remember the exact same feeling of understanding that I felt last week in Lima, Peru...God is truly omnipresent. His Holy Presence fills every square inch of our world, and beyond.
In Psalm 139:7-12 David wrote,

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Sometimes you have to go to what seems like the ends of the earth to fully appreciate that. In Lima, we worked with Pastor Javier Francisco Severino Huaman, a true servant of Christ, if there ever was one. Pastor Javier oversaw three different church operations, very effectively. He and his wife Dewanna had two wonderful adult children, both serving Christ. The Spirit of God was all over that family and that marvelous church. We didn’t pack the Holy Spirit up and deliver it to the people of Peru. They were already basking in the Light...and God was with us when we left, and stayed with those folks as well....omnipresently.

Another aspect I took away from Lima is people are spiritually hungry for the Truth. We spent days going door to door, shack to shack at times, and not once did I encounter a person not interested in hearing our message. They had a yearning for something more than this world has to offer and God used us to deliver it. I’m sorry to say, in our country, we’re not as hungry for the Truth. Maybe it’s because we feel we have everything we need. In Mark 10:17, a man we familiarly know as the rich young ruler came running up to Jesus, fell on his knees, saying, "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Here was one who had all the world had to offer, but he lacked something. He had a void in his life that money and power couldn’t fill. In Peru, we didn’t encounter the rich and powerful, just the opposite. But they felt the same need for Christ as the rich young ruler. No matter which end of the spectrum you more closely relate to, the need is the same.

One last thought I have about the mission trip concerns the one that got away...When I was a senior in high school, our basketball team won the state championship. We had many moments that I remember with a great deal of fondness. But there was that one game that got away as I missed a shot at the buzzer that would’ve won the game. As the ball left my hand, I was sure I’d made it, only to see it fall off the rim. That, too, is etched in my basketball memory banks...In Lima, there was a young man named Carlos. Carlos, despite our efforts, clung to his mixture of Buddhism, Jehovah Witness, stirred in with some Christianity. He admitted he had no idea where he would be if he should die, but he enjoyed exploring lots of beliefs. My crusade partner and I talked to him for over an hour, pleading the case for Christ, to no avail. Carlos is still lost and while there were nearly 1700 commitments to Christ during our crusade, Carlos is like that shot that fell off the rim so many years ago, etched in my mind. Carlos is a reminder that there’s still work to do. And the Holy Spirit will never let me stop praying for Carlos...and all the other Carlos’s of the world.