Friday, May 30, 2008

Between The Father and Child


“Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
(Psalm 51:10)


We must see, as David did, that real forgiveness, the cleansing of our souls, does not come from a simple, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” It has to come with a heartfelt desire for the Lord to change me…transform me…remold me! Make my deepest desires and interests for You God. You are indeed the potter and I desire to be the clay in Your hands to be used as You see fit. I want Your will! Make me a new creature, evolving day by day by the power of Your Spirit into Your likeness and image.

“You must be born again.” (John 3:7)


Jesus said this to Nicodemus, a leading teacher in the Jewish Sanhedrin. We need to hear it today. Being born again is not a freakish thing, a cultish activity, or a denominational sacrament. It’s biblical instruction from Jesus Himself! We can’t change ourselves: it’s the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a re-birth! It’s a new life! Once truly saved by the power of the blood of Christ, God has designs upon our lives. We must allow the Spirit free reign in our personal life, our marriage, our jobs, and every aspect of our life. We have a new life from above…from the Spirit of God. These questions are now BETWEEN THE FATHER AND CHILD… “Am I truly born again?” “Am I a new creature?” "Have I allowed the Lord’s Spirit free reign in every nook and cranny of my life?”

“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John3:21)

Once born-again, we can begin to influence others. This is vital in the relationship BETWEEN THE FATHER AND CHILD.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Father Knows Best!


“WHEN HE HAS TESTED ME, I SHALL COME FORTH AS GOLD.” (JOB 23:10)

Trial after trial…tests after test…disappointments, failures, rejection…more and more pain. Will it ever end? Will things turn around? When will my ship come in? When will the sun shine and the clouds go away for a while? Why do the ones who seem to do everything wrong have so much fun and happiness? Why is all this happening to me?

Have you asked these sorts of questions? Are you finding yourself asking them even today? You’re not alone! As Christians, sometimes we believe that God is a genie in a bottle that we rub every once in awhile to get a wish or two. Maybe if I ask for this or that, I’ll get it and all my troubles will go away! NOT TRUE! Temporary fixes work for a minute or two, but we have a lifetime to live for Christ and a legacy of faith to leave behind. One thing we must trust and believe:

“…‘FOR MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS NOR ARE YOUR WAYS MY WAYS’, SAYS THE LORD.” (ISAIAH 55:8)

Even as we are going through a series of storms, as Job experienced, we must realize that God is in control and has our best interest in mind. His best is not our best! He desires holiness for us, not constant happiness. That is why it is so important to stay connected to the Body of Christ as to not get confused and dejected. I don’t think I could have handled Job’s friends! I’m so glad for my church family! While they tell me the truth, it’s in love and that is so important in order to continue growing along our journey with the Lord!

God is always at work to mold us for His plans for our lives. It’s important to stay in touch with His will and respond in a way that we continue to grow and not doubt God. Let’s remember to be encouraging to one another and help one another grow stronger through our trials. Allow God to work things out for His good, for those of us who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

After all, FATHER KNOWS BEST and the best is yet to come!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

05 28 08 Lean On Me


“Some people did accept him. They believed in his name.
He gave them the right to become children of God.”
(John 1:12 NIrV)


From his early boyhood, John Paton wanted to be a missionary. Before studying theology and medicine, Paton served for ten years as a Glasgow City Missionary. After graduation, he was ordained and set sail for the New Hebrides as a Presbyterian missionary. Three months after arriving on the island of Tanna (located between the South Pacific and Coral Sea), Paton’s young wife died, followed by their five-week-old son. For three more years, Paton labored alone among the hostile islanders, ignoring their threats, seeking to make Christ known to them, before escaping with his life. Later, he returned and spent fifteen years on another island.
Paton was working one day in his home on the translation of John’s Gospel—puzzling over John’s favorite expression pisteuo eis, to believe in or to trust in Jesus Christ, a phrase which occurs first in John 1:12. “How can I translate it?” Paton wondered. The islanders were cannibals; nobody trusted anybody else. There was no word for trust in their language. His native servant came in. “What am I doing?” Paton asked him. “Sitting at your desk,” the man replied. Paton then raised both feet off the floor and sat back on his chair. “What am I doing now?” In reply, Paton’s servant used a verb which means to lean your whole weight upon. That’s the phrase Paton used throughout John’s Gospel to translate to believe in”1


In believing in His name and His work upon the cross, do we lean our whole weight upon Him? Are we born-again believers of the 21st century putting our entire trust in the Savior? With the Bible written in nearly every known language and many various translations, do we get the meaning of what we commonly call faith? Is He our source, our strength, our life? Is He our Alpha, Omega, and everything in between?

As a full time missionary, I am learning year-by-year what faith really is! The more of my weight I lean upon Him, the more I experience His grace, mercy, and providence. The more I try to stand on my own two feet, the more unstable I become. The more I experience His presence, the more I am encouraged to trust Him and continue in that faith! Remember the Footprints poem: it is surely His set of footprints carrying me through those trying times! As I look back, it encourages me to focus ahead on what He has in store!

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
(1 John 5:13 NKJV)


1 Morning Glory, Sept. /Oct. , 1997, p. 50, copyright © 2005-2008 bible.org

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

05 27 08 Social Freak

Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves. Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God's people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes. Bless those who hurt you. Bless them, and do not call down curses on them. Be joyful with those who are joyful. Be sad with those who are sad. Agree with each other. Don't be proud. Be willing to be a friend of people who aren't considered important. Don't think that you are better than others. (Romans 12:9-16 NIrV)

Christian character is contrasted with that of the world in that it endures hardship and difficulties. How can that be? It’s based upon a love that does not observe the surface, but the core. In serving the Lord, a believer rejoices in hope, perseveres through tribulation, while devoted to prayer. There should be a thoroughness and enthusiasm in our lives not typical of others. While we serve God with passion, the world-at-large views us as fanatics. Being a fanatic is accepted as long as it’s for a sports team or social causes. A fanatic (somebody who is very enthusiastic about a pastime or hobby) for Christ is still somewhat of a SOCIAL FREAK!

Why is that? The CHRISTian is characterized by expectation; the world by despair. The CHRISTian observes a physical need and does his or her best to meet it. The CHRISTian opens his home and wallet to those who need hospitality. The CHRISTian responds to mockery and rejection by speaking a word of blessing, rather than a curse. The CHRISTian can share in one’s joy as well as their pain. The CHRISTian is at ease with those of humble means and does not seek to gratify only the wealthy. The CHRISTian knows himself, his sinfulness and the waywardness of his heart. CHRISTian would rather run to trouble than away from it, because we can offer assistance, reassurance, encouragement, comfort, and hope! Are we that CHRISTian that we are deemed freakish?

Why not?

Friday, May 23, 2008

05 23 08 A MEMORABLE LEGACY
“‘I know what you are doing. I know you aren't cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other! But you are lukewarm. You aren't hot or cold. So I am going to spit you out of my mouth. You say, "I am rich. I've become wealthy and don't need anything." But you don't realize how pitiful and miserable you have become. You are poor, blind and naked’…” (Revelation 3:15-17 NIrV)

Laodicea was a well-to-do city some 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia and 90 miles east of Ephesus and one of the seven churches in Asia Minor (areas of present day Turkey) as John was receiving and delivery the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Laodicea was a thriving town, with a medical school, a textile industry, banking centers, and a theater. Yet it had a meager water supply! Present day excavation reveals thick lime deposits showing heavy contamination of their water supply. The city water had to be piped in, so by the time the water arrived in usable condition, it was neither hot nor cold, but disgustingly lukewarm. Their water supply was pitiful and miserable, like their spiritual attitude. So when the Lord reveals this to them, they get it! They recognize the taste of lukewarm.

So what does this ay to you and me? How does this tie into to a Memorial Day holiday? I am glad you asked. I ask the Lord the same thing!

We desire to leave A MEMORABLE LEGACYfor our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We want our name and the name of Christ to be honored down through the generations. I think of my father and father-in-law: they both served in the U.S. Army as young family men, raised a family despite challenges and crisis, provided all that was needed (and then some), kept the Douglas (Frederick Douglass) and Carroll (Charles Carroll of Carrollton) names honorable, and still care as best they know how for their family! They are leaving A MEMORABLE LEGACY.

With all the advice and counseling we receive in this day and age, we are nothing and possess nothing if our character is pitiful and miserable. Like the Laodiceans, we Americans have so much to be proud of. We have great industry, wonderful schools, and even mega-churches. But if the Lord would examine our very souls today, would He find hot running water for the Kingdom and His purposes? Would He find a husband and wife burning to lead their families in prayerful devotion, public worship, and open and energetic witness for Christ? Would He see men and women building A MEMORABLE LEGACY for Christ or for themselves? Would His name be growing in honor and respect among the family or being dragged into nightclubs, pornographic movies, common-law relationships, and abusive households? Would Jesus say “You make me sick” or “Well done, good a faithful servant!”?

This Memorial Day Holiday 2008, let’s honor those who have left A MEMORABLE LEGACY for us to continue. Let’s also honor the One whose LEGACY as the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Messiah, our Savior says to all who will listen;

“Come! And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirst come. Whoever desires let hi take the water of life freely….Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:17-20 NKJV)

Knowing Him, serving Him, honoring Him will bring AN ETERNAL LEGACY for all who come.

HAVE YOU ACCEPTED THE INVITATION?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

05 22 08 WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?


“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
(Ephesians 6:1 NIV)


“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord.”
(Colossians 3:20 NET)


"Scripture says, ‘Honor your father and mother.’
That is the first commandment that has a promise.
‘Then things will go well with you.
You will live a long time on the earth’… (Deuteronomy 5:16)"
(Ephesians 6:2-3 NIrV)


As a father of four and grandfather of four (well, two more on the way soon), I am concerned about children and families. So much so, my wife and I have dedicated our life’s work to follow God’s call to serve at-risk children and their families. Our goal is to keep the family together and to do it by God’s proven standards rather than the failed attempts of a sinful world system.
As I listened to Christian radio today (Grace to You) Pastor John MacArthur really got my attention. As he focused on the biblical instruction on child-rearing, he also mentioned some eye-opening statistics concerning ADD/ADHD and the medications commonly used: parents are you listening?

Here is some interesting information I discovered while searching the web today:

The main observed side effects of Ritalin as reported by the ADD/ADHD Information Library (Copyright 1996-2007) are loss of appetite, some irritability or anger and possible short term growth inhibition. "While Ritalin is an effective medication that improves the quality of life for many children with ADHD, accurately diagnosing and identifying the correct treatment regimen for the disorder is essential, especially when considering health effects that can last through adulthood." (William Carlezon, Ph.D., director of McLean Hospital's Behavioral Genetics Laboratory and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School 2004) In an article published by McNeil Pediatrics™, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc (which is solely responsible for its contents). Some common symptoms of ADHD were listed below. A child with six or more of these symptoms was to be considered a candidate for ADHD and possible medication: child may fidget; talk excessively; run around at inappropriate times; frequently disrupt class; blurts out answers in class; takes action before thinking; makes rash decisions; has difficulty with hyperactivity/impulsivity; not paying attention; makes careless mistakes; is not listening; is not finishing tasks; is not following directions and is unusually or easily distracted.

Did this alarm you at all? What six year old (boy especially) is not fidgety, careless, unthinking, talkative, inattentive, and easily distracted? My sons were and are. My wife will tell you I still am! We all just became candidates for Ritalin! With all due respect to the medical professionals, to me this is an epidemic. Too many children are being made candidates for drug dependency when God has wired them to be overactive, multi-tasking, hyper-energetic, impulsive, and ever-ready battery missionaries, pastors, teachers, and yes, doctors!

What more of us parents need to do is spend more time getting to know our kids and less time in the doctor’s office, as he studies them. We need to be in the classroom more with the teachers and on the field trips. We need to be watching shows with our children and playing the video games with them. We need to coach them, teach them, and study with them. The main ingredient of parenting is the parent; not the pastor, teacher, youth director, coach, or babysitter (TV?). WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?

Children are crying out for love, attention, and guidelines. They will not admit it, but they need structure and discipline. For children to obey, honor, and respect parents, we must first be the parents God has instructed us all to be. We must do our part! Then children, it’s up to you!

A child raised in a God-centered home cannot sensibly say, “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do” and not expect God to step in at some point. If his or her parents are doing all they can possibly do to care and provide for them, they are accountable to their parents and to the Lord. Many things are not going well (Ephesians 6:2-3/Deuteronomy 5:16) for young people today because of the simple fact that they will not or did not honor their parents…in the Lord! (Ephesians 6:1/Colossians 3:20)

Many things have been left to the medical world and juvenile justice system because we have failed the Lord; as parents and as children! Is it not time to change? Is it not time to live in the Lord and for His sake? WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

05 21 08 MERCY AND TRUTH
“Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart…”
(Proverbs 3:3 NKJV)


MERCY AND TRUTH (Checed, 'emeth): the Hebrew words combine to reflect the meaning of a faithful covenant love. Binding them around the neck and writing them on the heart reflects a lifestyle of the disciple and his very nature. It speaks faithfulness, loyalty, trustworthiness, reliability, and stability. These are words we do not hear much in the world today, but must be reflective in character and actions of a Christian.

God’s covenant with His people was one that trusted, sealed, and unwavering. Christ’s sacrifice for us is a once-for-all sacrifice. It’s binding and unchanging. As we live in a world where we face minute-by-minute challenges to our faith and to our Christian character, MERCY AND TRUTH must prevail. Faithfulness to Christ and to one another must be evident in our daily speech and actions. We must be loyal to our promises and the commitments we make. Our word must be trusted. We need to be reliable as to where we say we’ll be and do what we say we will do. We must have a stable character as to reflect the strength and security our Savior provides. All this represents Christ and our faith in Him: a faithful covenant of love grounded in MERCY AND TRUTH.

Here’s our challenge: are we living these values on the job, in our commitments to the church and most importantly within our home (toward our spouse and children)? Before my wife calls me out, let me say how much I need to be aware of these words from Solomon!

We must be careful. We learn so much in our study and get so involved in ministry, we lose track of the relationships. As my friends in New Orleans would remind me, it’s not about the work, it’s about the people! Jesus loved on people. He didn’t do ministry! Throughout HIStory, God has placed an emphasis upon relationship; between Him and His people. His relationship with us is a faithful covenantal love. How would friends, family and fellow believers describe our relationship with them? Would MERCY AND TRUTH be in the description?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

05 20 08 JUST AROUND THE CORNER

“Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes. See how the farmer waits for the land to produce its rich crop. See how patient he is for the fall and spring rains. You too must be patient. You must stand firm. The Lord will soon come back.
Brothers and sisters, don't find fault with one another. If you do, you will be judged. And the Judge is standing at the door!
Brothers and sisters, think about the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. They are an example of how to be patient when you suffer. As you know, we think that people who don't give up are blessed. You have heard that Job was patient. And you have seen what the Lord finally did for him. The Lord is full of tender mercy and loving concern.”
(James 5:7-11 NIrV)


Probably one of the earliest New Testament books, James is leading the Jerusalem Church and here attempts to disarm some impatient Christians who are growing weary of this world. Like many Christians today, as strangers in a foreign land, they longed for the comforts of home and the fellowship of their coming King. To these suffering saints James calmly whispers “Wait.” What we long for and desire so desperately is JUST AROUND THE CORNER, and we are being asked to persevere and wait patiently in the meantime.

As a child, we grow impatient with what we long for: the long-awaited vacation, the promised refund check, the promotion, the day off. It’s human nature to want rest, comfort, enjoyment, contentment…less and less stress! Oh, but then there is this world we live in day by day that we must traverse through.

If you are familiar with the story of Job, you realize that he questioned God; he was not overjoyed concerning his situation; and he wasn’t always patient with other people. It is encouraging to me, though, that despite those things, he is an example of patience. He was stressed to say the least! What kept him focused? What kept his anger and impatience in check? What allowed him to trust God, the One who gives and takes away? I like to think that he knew what was JUST AROUND THE CORNER. He trusted God that He knew what He was doing!

The knowledge that Jesus will return some day should affect our lives in practical ways.

It gives me hope. When I watch the news, read about the threatening evil, and view calamity and suffering all around me, I’m comforted to know that God has it all under control. He’s in charge of the last days just as He was in charge of Creation! He has not taken His hand off the wheel.

Knowing that Jesus will return helps me to set priorities. There is no shortage of demands on my time, energy, and money. There are ample opportunities for entertainment and leisure, and pure laziness. I could let guilt or pride drive me to say yes to everything that seems good and worthwhile in my eyes. But knowing His coming is JUST AROUND THE CORNER, it gives me a sense of security and it gives me much joy to stay faithful to the work and lifestyle He has blessed me with.

I find the last stanza of the hymn “The Solid Rock,” an encouraging prayer:

When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.


Hold on…wait a little while longer friends. He is JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

Monday, May 19, 2008

05 19 08 God and His Work First


“When he went through the city gate, there was a widow gathering wood. He called out to her, “Please give me a cup of water, so I can take a drink.” As she went to get it, he called out to her, “Please bring me a piece of bread.” She said, “As certainly as the LORD your God lives, I have no food, except for a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. Right now I am gathering a couple of sticks for a fire. Then I’m going home to make one final meal for my son and myself. After we have eaten that, we will die of starvation.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go and do as you planned. But first make a small cake for me and bring it to me; then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD God of Israel says, ‘The jar of flour will not be empty and the jug of oil will not run out until the day the LORD makes it rain on the surface of the ground.’” She went and did as Elijah told her; there was always enough food for Elijah and for her and her family. The jar of flour was never empty and the jug of oil never ran out, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah.
(1 Kings 17:10-16 NET)


Parenting is such a difficult task and gets no easier as our children get older. As a father and husband (and now grandfather as well) my biggest desire is to provide for my family. I want them to have all they need and even a few wants. I want to provide comfortable shelter and transportation. I want to look in the pantry and see food on the shelves and open the refrigerator and see meat, fruit, milk, and other essentials. I want my wife and children to be dressed appropriately. It breaks my heart not to be able to meet a need of my family.

I understand the widow’s desire to feed her son. While I have never been as desperate as she was, I know what it’s like to have just one meal left in the cupboard. I know what it’s like to eat bologna for dinner and boxed macaroni and cheese for a vegetable! It’s been a while, but I do remember those days. One thing I did learn from it all: God provides as long as I give first to the things of God. As the lady met the needs of God’s servant Elijah, God met her needs for her family. It’s a question of trust in His Word and faith in a person, namely the Savor, Jesus Christ. We must choose to meet the desires of GOD AND HIS WORK FIRST!

“Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” They said, “Caesar’s.” So he said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,and to God the things that are God’s.”
(Luke 20:24-25 NET)


It is truly a leap of faith here lately in my life. I learned however, in past years when I struggled financially, to obey the Lord, not common sense! My money is not mine. My home and vehicles are provided by my DADDY. The food we eat and clothing we wear is by His providence, not my efforts. Because He taught me in the past how to be in need…and satisfied, I can look back today and be obedient. But it’s not easy!

I believe His Word when He says to trust Him to supply my needs, according to His riches in glory. I believe He’ll care for me and my family even more so than the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. It’s a challenge to continue to tithe, to give to mission work, to assist with those establishing churches, and to open up our home for the traveler or someone in need. But it is GOD AND HIS WORK FIRST!

I tell my six-year-old son I understand how hard it is to be good…to obey. He really doesn’t understand, but one day he will. I feel so inadequate when I can’t meet a need, when I have to say “I can’t” to my wife, children, or elderly parents. My wife and I have made a commitment to follow the Lord’s call and we trust and believe He will do His part. I also trust that He will allow us to be a light to others as well along the way. Some things I can do, but the rest I leave up to my DADDY. It’s not that I love people less…I just love the Lord more! It’s GOD AND HIS WORK FIRST!

Friday, May 16, 2008

05 16 08 The Power of a Praying Parent

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”
(Ephesians 1:17 NIV)


Nothing is more powerful in my humble opinion than the prayer of a parent. Our children need to know Him better day by day, if not for the first time. Many times, my wife and I have been found pleading with God in the dark of the night (even while riding in the car or truck) to protect our children, heal our children, speak to our children, care for our children, even early on to save our children. Daddy heard those prayers and still has an ear toward us. Hey, I still plea on my own behalf for my needs and wants!

Seriously though, I recall praying for my children’s’ protection from the time they were in their mother’s womb. I take nothing for granted and I realize that our very breath comes from the Lord. Each birth is a miracle in itself and every day of a child’s life needs to be covered in prayer! They face so much in this world that is in stark contradiction to the things we would have them to understand and it gets worse year by year and from one child to the next. Children need THE POWER OF A PRAYING PARENT.

I know my parents prayed and still pray for me! From the days of partying all night after college basketball games; challenges through a divorce and single parenting; and eventual remarriage to the most beautiful bride I could ever imagine, I needed to be covered in prayer! Through it all, the Lord found me and took me from the muck and mire and placed me upon solid footing in a Rock-solid church with sound teaching and biblically modeled servant–leadership! I needed THE POWER OF A PRAYING PARENT!

All of our prayers may not be answered in a way we deem fitting. Our children will make decisions we do not agree with. Like each of us, they will make mistakes and need our help and re-direction. But the time we spend on our knees, head down upon our desks, or on teary-eyed drives late at night, we find a deeper relationship with our DADDY! We learn to trust Him at His will and in His timing. We realize our children are really His and we need Him so desperately if we are to have any success at all as a parent. . We also discover just how much our Father cares for us as we feel the loving warmth of His embrace. We still need THE POWER OF A PRAYING PARENT…it’s within us and we need to use it daily!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

05 15 08 Looking Forward
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18 NIrV)

Yes things seem to be getting worse as we live from year to year. We see and hear of things happening that never happened before or with such magnitude: disaster after disaster; violent storms in areas once untouched; moral leaders tumbling like dominoes; parents murdering innocent children and children and teens killing their friends and even family members.

Where is God? Why hasn’t He returned? As Peter warned believers in the late A.D. 60’s, we must not believe the lies of the false teachers…yes false teachers today!

We must keep LOOKING FORWARD friends. God’s patience means salvation (verse 15),that is others are coming to Christ in the middle of all this mess. Praise the Lord. We have work to do…amen?

We must be on guard (verse 17) against the lies, the casualness, the dummying-down of the Gospel. We have to stay on alert, continue to grow in the knowledge of Scripture and the grace of our Savior (verse 18). We need to be equipped for a time such as this!

These are the best of times and these are the worst of times for sure. But I am not simply LOOKING FORWARD to the parousia, (the return of Christ), but I look forward to today and tomorrow and every other day the Lord gives me. For this day, someone needs to hear the Word of God. Today, someone is searching for the Savior. Today, someone needs to find their way home. I am LOOKING FORWARD to what God will do next!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

05 14 08 A LOVING MOM AND DAD

“He himself carried our sins in his body on the cross.
He did it so that we would die as far as sins are concerned.
Then we would lead godly lives.
His wounds have made you whole.”
(1 Peter 2:24 NIrV)


Jesus’ suffering saved us. By His obedience to the Father’s will, we are saved. He was beaten, mocked, spat upon, pushed, shoved, whipped, nailed to a cross, and lanced into His side (the heart?) all in obedience to the will of God and for our salvation. Remember, He had the power to get up, retaliate, and even destroy the enemies attacking Him. But the enemy was sin and He was in the process of defeating it! Ultimately, the Risen Christ is proof to all that He indeed was victorious in defeating the enemy!

“Do not withhold discipline from a child;if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death." (Proverbs 23:13-14 NIV)

In my growth as a Daddy, I had a genuine object lesson concerning the rod recently. While we hear so many modern suggestions as to the raising of our children, I have come to prefer the proven and God-breathed words of Scripture. I have made the mistakes of withholding the rod. Too many words go ignored and many times fall upon deaf little ears. Too many words get lost in the deficient attention span of our youth. Disobedience requires immediate and consequential discipline…i.e. the rod (or a form of it).

It was brought to my attention by the Spirit that as Jesus suffered from the severe physical blows of His enemies on our behalf; He defeated sin and brought salvation to all and any who believe. As we parents raise our children, how beneficial it is to use the physical rod to exemplify the pain and consequence of sin. For a child to know Jesus suffered pain on our behalf (much greater pain than we could imagine) would to God that he will recall that sacrifice as the rod is applied as a result of his sin. Because of my sin and yours, Jesus suffered greatly. How will a child understand the consequential pain of sin if it is not applied by A LOVING MOM AND DAD? Loving discipline will not injure or kill a child, but save his soul from death!

We have allowed God to be removed from the homes, schools, the community, the work place, and even some churches! Let’s reclaim our homes first! To be true disciples, we require discipline. Let’s apply that to our children as well. They need discipline. They require boundaries. Christ took a beating for us. A timely rod once in a while will remind our children of His suffering on their behalf and well and curb their desire to sin!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

05 13 08 God Didn’t Stutter

“God didn't give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.”
(2 Timothy 1:7 NIrV)


Earthquakes…tornadoes…floods…financial woes…illnesses…there is a lot to fear today. However, as believers, we have no reason to be apprehensive, dreading, or in awe of anything or anyone but God. We must realize God has all things in His control!

Paul has no woe is me attitude when it comes to his abilities to minister for the Lord, but he is nonetheless keenly aware the situation around him. Despite what he faced, he knew his strength came from God. The work of God is not carried out by people who are in themselves adequate for such a calling. But as Paul instructs Timothy, we must remember the gift of God that was given to each of us and the purpose for which God had saved us all. Like Timothy, we have the Spirit of God, the people of God, and the Word of God as our allies. When we get into the heat of battle, as Timothy was, we tend to forget what is central and, therefore, move away from the most important things.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”
(2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)


Reading the Word, meditation upon it both privately and as a group, and making proper application is the key to success in personal and public ministry. Another key to growth and confidence in ministry is continually reviewing how God has provided throughout the years, for us and for others. Finally, one must know the gift God has endowed upon them and the specific area to work.

So how do we know our gift? How do we know our passion? How do we know where God has called us? Again, it comes from specific and guided prayer, counsel, and discipline. GOD DIDN’T STUTTER in His word to us. He didn’t send His Son to suffer and die for no reason. It was for our salvation and for our service for Him. He redeemed us. His Spirit seals and equips us. His Word instructs us! We have one another for encouragement.

That’s confidence, not fear! GOD DIDN’T STUTTER then and He is still God!

Monday, May 12, 2008

05 12 08 Between Sundays

“Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
(Matthew 24:3 NET)


Jesus; disciples had a valid question: When will the Temple be destroyed…the city turned upside down…when will Messiah reign? Jesus’ answer is the same answer we receive today: only we are 2,000 years later and closer than ever to His return. If the problems the disciples would face were simply the beginning, how close are we today? Jesus told His followers that no one but the Father knew the exact time, but to be ready. We are to be working; we are to be watching for the signs…BETWEEN SUNDAYS.

A few signs from the news headlines of Monday, May 12, 2008:

 A massive earthquake struck central China on Monday and state media reported that as many as 5,000 people were killed in a single county while nearly 900 students were trapped under the rubble of their school.
 Myanmar's state television says the death toll in this month's cyclone has gone up to 31,938. The United Nations said Monday that the actual death toll could be between 62,000 and 100,000.
 The U.S. military says Air Force fighter jets have dropped eight large bombs to destroy an al-Qaeda in Iraq training base south of Baghdad.
 Stunned survivors picked through the little that was left of their communities Sunday after tornadoes tore across the Plains and South, killing at least 22 people in three states and leaving behind a trail of destruction and stories of loss.
Heavy rain drenched the mid-Atlantic region Monday, knocking out power to more than 70,000 customers, flooding roads and forcing evacuations. Up to four inches of rain fell across the region from Sunday afternoon into Monday morning, and the National Weather Service extended a flood warning for some areas into the afternoon.

“You will hear about wars. You will also hear people talking about future wars. Don't be alarmed. Those things must happen. But the end still isn't here. Nation will fight against nation. Kingdom will fight against kingdom. People will go hungry. There will be earthquakes in many places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
(Matthew 24:6-8 NIrV)


We get used to the terrible news week after week and go to church every Sunday (those who are still going). Bad News…Good News…Bad News...Good News and on and on. Sometimes, the only emotion we show is fear. However, a believer has no reason to live in fear, but to live in hope. We are living in a time when people need to hear the GOOD NEWS along with all the bad news. It may not wait until Sunday. Everyone is not going to church. How will they hear?

So my question is: what are we going to do about it, BETWEEN SUNDAYS?

Friday, May 9, 2008

05 09 08 A DIFFERENT KIND OF PAYCHECK

“Without faith it isn't possible to please God. Those who come to God must believe that he exists. And they must believe that he rewards those who look to him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NIrV)

Biblical faith (Greek pistis) lends the understanding of persuasion, assurance, belief, and conviction based upon hearing. This word is used thirty-two times in Hebrews, and twenty-four times in Hebrews 11 alone! Faith is the confident conviction of, reliance upon, and promise in the character, work, and Word of God. Faith includes firm certainty in acknowledging God’s truth, personal surrender to Him, the conduct inspired by such surrender, and it pleases God.

Faith equips believers to obey God, to take risks, to face mountains of despair, and to endure affliction within difficult circumstances despite unknown consequences. Faith gains God’s endorsement and will be rewarded. “Faith obeys God, pleases God, and will be rewarded!” (Vickie Kraft, Footsteps of Faith; Following the Call, 2006, Biblical Studies Press; reprinted with permission from www.bible.org)

Life as a full-time local / part-time travelling missionary:FAITH!

People still ask us how we do it…why we do it…how long we have been doing it… will we stop doing it….and what is it we really do…what are your hours…do you get paid? Sometimes, to be honest with you, I ask the same things.

Here are my answers:

How? by God’s grace…Why? because He called us… How long? since 1999 (but seems like a lifetime) Will we stop? never, it’s a lifetime call…What do we do? Bring children from at-risk to at-home, by His Word and with His grace…Hours? we are on-call, the hours vary daily and do include weekends!…Paid? Well, it’s A DIFFERENT KIND OF PAYCHECK to say the least! There is no better job and no better benefits!

As I finish another season of seminars, conferences, and studies, I am so pleased with how the Lord has rewarded us for sticking by Him. No matter how busy we might be in His work, no matter how tiresome, and at times, challenging the work is, simply reflecting upon His grace is rewarding and restful. There is definitely a peace in knowing we’re working for the Lord and His purposes. There are many challenges we face every day, but the relationship I am gaining with DADDY and His family of believers is worth the sacrifice. Knowing others have been exposed to Gospel simply by my being available to God is mind-boggling. I am blown away every day by His desire to forgive me, save me, and then to use me. It’s all for Him and because of Him. I truly can do nothing without His provisions to do it!

“Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters. Work because you know that you will finally receive as a reward what the Lord wants you to have. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
(Colossians 3:23-24 NIrV)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

05 08 08 What Does It Mean to be Saved?


“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
(Revelation 2:20 NIV)


Is this a verse for salvation? Was Christ giving the Laodicean church an invitation?

History and Bible scholars tells us those members of this church were indeed saved. We would like to believe that most members of our New Testament churches today are as well. First, if people have truly put their faith in Christ, and they understand that he alone can save them from their sins, then of course they are saved. The problem is that many people cling to the symbol but never understand the reality it is intended to represent. I myself asked for years; “WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?”

Most likely, tens of thousands of people have "invited Christ into [their] hearts," thinking that some warm and fuzzy feeling or even an emotional experience is what saves them. They go on their merry way, living their lives as they did before. If you were to ask them, "How do you know that you are going to heaven?" they would respond, "Because I invited Christ into my heart." But if you probe, there is nothing beneath the shallowness of that reply. They did what someone told them to do, but never really embraced the Savior. Many people have allegedly received Christ into their hearts without understanding what that means or what the gospel means. Salvation comes from placing one’s faith in a person, namely Jesus Christ (believing He is God and coming down from heaven in the form of a man, suffered a brutal death of crucifixion as a sacrifice for our sin, and then physically rose from the dead and assumed back into heaven). His gift of the Holy Spirit then indwells every believer to guide us in holy living.

Revelation 3:20 is addressed to the church—to believers. This is a call to fellowship with the Savior. As an invitation to all Christians, it’s a call to repent, as commanded in Rev. 3:19. It is a call for confession of one’s sins with a renewal of mind and heart to continue to draw upon the glorious life of Christ daily through walking by the Spirit and living in the Word. It means abiding in Christ, the vine (John 15:1-7). Many have the opinion that one is saved as prevention from going to hell. It’s not fire insurance as one of my teachers will say. To follow Christ is place a trust in the Savior, allow Him to be Lord over one’s life, and make a commitment to turn from the sins of which we seek forgiveness.

Because so many of us continue to live such a wretched lifestyle (while claiming Christianity) the world is confused and they ask: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED? We as believers must first be able to explain the Gospel clearly, and then live a life that clearly reflects it. Here is Jesus’ prayer for every believer:

My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one,
Father––that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us,
and the world will believe you sent me.
(John 17:21 NLT)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

05 07 08 Know Jesus…Know Peace
(no Jesus…NO peace)

“Are you cheerful because you belong to Christ? Does his love comfort you? Is the Holy Spirit your companion? Has Christ been gentle and loving toward you?”
(Philippians 2:1 NIrV)


“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy…”
(Philippians 2:1 NKJV
)

Is there comfort in Christ? Do we experience his love, consolation, peace? Do we find tenderness and mercy in His presence? The Hebrews viewed splagcna as the innermost part of a person’s heart (at times referred to as bowels). We call it kindness, benevolence, compassion, and tender mercies. It’s the picture of a Mom holding a young child who may be afraid of the dark, crying over a lost pet, or realizing their best friend is moving away. Maybe Daddy has to reassure his little boy or girl that the monsters are all gone. Perhaps it’s walking through a dark home when your spouse thought she heard a sound and reassuring her all is well.

With Christ, there is an inner joy in knowing that no matter what is going on around us, there is peace. No matter how dark it gets, how fierce the monsters become, or how many friends turn away, my Companion is always here for me. There is sweet koinonia with Him. Deep within my heart I know His peace and security. In His arms there is solace!

KNOW JESUS KNOW PEACE….NO JESUS…NO PEACE!

How do I get to know Him? Believe…repent…experience His mercy, His comfort, His strength, His peace. It goes way beyond anyone’s human understanding!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

05 06 08 On Guard Against His Tricks

“The coming of the man of sin will be Satan's work. His work will be seen in all kinds of fake miracles, signs and wonders.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:9 NIrV)


The entire world followed the beast in wonder; they worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying things like: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” The beast was speaking proud words and blasphemies, and permitted to exercise ruling authority for three and a half years! The beast blasphemed against God (His name and those who dwell in heaven). The beast was granted permission to go to war against the saints and conquer them.

How can man, in utter defiance, and in the face of an outpouring of God’s wrath against man’s sin, still raise up his fist in God’s face and follow after this beast and his system of government? This 2 Thessalonians passage provides insight into that question. Though there are issues beyond our way our comprehension here, it is centered on man’s continued deception, which occurs as a result of God’s judgment due to man’s failure to love the truth and pursuit of Satan’s lies. We must be ON GUARD AGAINST HIS TRICKS!

Many today get all bent out of shape over matters like God’s sovereignty, election, and predestination, man’s free will, sign gifts, non-sign gifts and on and on. I’ve seen and heard it first-hand in my theology classes from believers all around the world. I need to be reminded (and I hope you are as well) that what is at stake is that we know for ourselves that we have a real relationship with the Risen Lord and His Spirit has sealed us unto that day when he redeems His people. Continued debates over non-fundamental issues only serve to divide and make room for the enemy to step in and put our focus on his plan of deception.

If we’re looking for signs…Satan can surely give false ones. If we a quick fix miracle, oh, he can provide one to cause us to be weakened in our faith. If we are simply seeking a good time experience as a Christian, the old serpent can throw a great party too. Nothing pleases Satan more than someone who thinks he has a relationship with Christ (based on experience, signs, and miracles) yet the Lord has no relationship with that person at all. The only miracle we need is the sacrificial blood of Jesus and the sign is a changed heart and lifestyle. If we take our focus of the cross and our Savior, we will begin to focus on ourselves and what we desire. This brings nothing but trouble and opens the door for the enemy to step right in. God still does the miraculous, but in His timing and for His glory. It’s not about us. We need to be constantly ON GUARD AGAINST HIS TRICKS!

“You can't be saved by believing in anyone else.
God has given us no other name under heaven that will save us."
(Acts 4:12 NIrV)

Monday, May 5, 2008

00 05 08 Compassion

But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him,
“Go and do the same.”
(Luke 10:33-37 NET)


This Samaritan was not bothered by tradition or ceremonial law. He was not restricted by standing within the church or the community. He was not concerned with what others would think about him if he stopped by this unknown, unconscious stranger and attempted to help. COMPASSION would not allow him to simply ride by without stopping to check on this helpless man. He could have hoped someone else would pass by and help. He had his plans after all. He could have left a sandwich and drink, placed a blanket on the man and called 911. He could have had his reasons like the previous men who passed by, but COMPASSION would not allow it. He stopped. He cared. He committed his resources of time, finances, and love.

“And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
(Micah 6:8 NKJV)


Love God…love our neighbor: very simple isn’t it? Love…Mercy…COMPASSION…It’s really not a question of who is my neighbor, but who is my God? If I claim to be a follower of the Risen Lord, then I must do the things He requires of me. COMPASSION requires an outreach of love, concern, and commitment: for the Lord, for His agenda, and for the people He loves…ALL people! Love on people as Jesus did…everybody, everyday, every hour.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

05 01 08 Cross the Tracks

“He told them, ‘This is what is written. The Christ will suffer.
He will rise from the dead on the third day.
His followers will preach in his name.
They will tell others to turn away from their sins and be forgiven.
People from every nation will hear it, beginning at Jerusalem.
You have seen these things with your own eyes’.”
(Luke 24:46-48 NIrV)


Jesus intended for His words and His life to be proclaimed openly and freely, and with authority (kerusso). Every tribe, nation, and people group (ethnos) is intended to hear the Gospel, not whom we choose. Christ reached out to His people first, but did not stop there. We too must be willing to cross-cultures, cross fences, and CROSS THE TRACKS!

Jesus said His followers will preach in His name: not simply His apostles, but His disciples. Forgiveness of sin is offered to all who will believe in the Son of God and His sacrificial death and resurrection. We need to tell others!

Where to begin? How can I reach everyone from every nation? Actually, it’s rather simple. We speak to our neighbor or co-worker in Maryland. They share with a friend visiting from California or New York. He or she then share with a business associate with ties to oil companies in the Middle East. Before we realize it, our effort to witness to a friend in Maryland has been used by the Holy Spirit to save a soul in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or perhaps even Iraq! We never know what our effort for Christ will accomplish. We can reach the world, but it begins by crossing cultures, crossing fences, CROSSING THE TRACKS. It may be a simple as crossing the street!

We have the authority of Christ. We have the powerful witness of those gone before us; even those who have died living a life dedicated to saving the lost in rather remote areas. We have seen it done in our own lifetime. It doesn’t matter how much money we have, the skills we possess, or the city we live in. What matters is that we have a heart for Christ and for people. Are we willing to make God known in our circles?

Here’s a simple prayer: “Lord, use me…use me…use me; however and wherever, but help me to begin where I stand right now!!!”

Just so You Know

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear  a Son, and shall call His name  Immanuel. (Is...