Monday, October 24, 2011

The Evolution of the Wave

8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.  -Galatians 6:8-10 (KJV) 

I loved southwest Virginia almost from the moment we moved here.  One of the features of this region which so endeared us to it is the friendliness of the people.  Folks here don’t seem to be in such a hurry as they are in some of the larger cities in which we have lived.  People are also willing to stop and pass the time of day in conversation.  Another manifestation of peoples’ friendliness is their willingness to wave at perfect strangers when passing them on the road.  I love driving by someone’s house on a clear summer day and waving to the people sitting on the front porch.  They don’t know me, yet they wave back as if I am an old friend.  You just don’t get this in larger cities. 

This brings to mind my visits to the country in eastern Kentucky when I was a boy.  My parents would sometimes take me along to visit the family who resided in Menifee County and I have many fond memories of those trips.  I remember riding with my uncle in his pick-up truck and I always was fascinated with the way he waved at everyone he passed on the road.  Yet, I could not help but notice that Uncle Orville didn’t always wave.  Instead, his wave to a passing motorist consisted of a subtle lifting of the hand from the steering wheel.  On other occasions he might only lift his index finger in acknowledgement of the other driver.   

Over the years I have wondered if maybe he and others simply grew a little weary of waving at everybody, so the wave evolved into this gentle lifting of the index finger.  It makes sense actually; waving frantically at every vehicle you pass on the road would wear anyone out.  Simply lifting a hand, or one’s index finger, seemed to suffice.  I point this out because as followers of Christ we can easily grow weary of serving the Lord day in and day out, month after month and year after year.  However, we are challenged in Scripture to not be weary in well doing.  Keep on serving the Lord and do not grow tired of sharing our faith. 

There are no term limits on the Christian faith.  We are in this for the long haul of life.  When Jesus called and invited us to take up the cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24) this was intended to be a lifetime calling.  When you begin to feel weary in well doing take heart and seek the power available through prayer and time in the Word.  The Lord will strengthen and empower us to continue serving Him.   

Do not give up and do not give in.  Continue serving the Lord and continue shining His light.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Priority of Serving the Lord

31In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.  32But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.  33Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?  34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.  -John 4:31-34 (KJV) 

God bless you, my readers, for not giving up on me.  I have taken on a part-time job to help makes ends meet and this has cut into my writing time more than I had imagined.  So, please bear with me as I seek to re-orient my schedule to having less time to devote to my blog.   

The other day was one of those where I went from one meeting and obligation to another.  Breakfast was a piece of toast at 6:00 AM as I was dashing out the door, lunch was a chicken burrito from Taco Bell while driving to a meeting, and suppertime was overlooked completely due to an evening meeting of the local association of Baptist churches.  Following this event I went to the fellowship hall of the church hosting the meeting to partake of the refreshments which were provided.  40 or so people had been expected at the gathering, yet nearly 80 had shown up.  Those refreshments were going fast. 

As I made my way to the food table, which was an assortment of tiny egg-salad sandwiches, chips, dips, and carrot sticks I was intercepted by a man who greeted me and inquired as to the health of my wife Andrea who is a cancer survivor.  I gave him an update and he rejoiced with me over how well she is doing.  He then went on to tell me about the major surgery he underwent recently and how well he was doing.  I listened intently and expressed my thanks to God for this man’s recovery.  All the while my stomach was rumbling.  The man finally released me and suggested I eat something as he thought perhaps I was looking a bit undernourished.  He didn’t know the half of it. 

I quickly made my way to the table, snatched one of those flimsy paper plates so common at these functions, and began filling it with the leftovers, which by then were fairly scant.  With my mouth watering I was about to find a place to sit down when someone caught me and began to ask me about the ministries at my church.  By then I realized that sitting down and eating simply wasn’t in my immediate future.  I resigned myself to my fate and had a nice discussion with this interesting person. 

About that time I thought of the words of Jesus, who said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”  God knew I was hungry and about to collapse, yet He would provide.  When I was sure everyone who desired an audience with me was finished I found a place to sit down, alone, and began to eat.  I was quickly joined by some acquaintances who may have found it odd that nearly my entire conversation took place with my mouth full of food.  It couldn’t be helped. 

God will give us the strength, when we need it, in His time and in His way.  The Lord will provide.  What a broad and bold statement!  It is absolutely true.  Doing God’s will must come first.  Let this be top priority for followers of Christ.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Peace of Christ During Life’s Storms

23Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  24Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.  -Ephesians 6:23, 24 (KJV) 

I heard a story the other day which was both sad and amusing.  It seems there was a teenage girl who went to work for a local fast food restaurant, she worked there for one week, received her first paycheck, and then promptly quit.  With her newly acquired wages burning a hole in her pocket she hurried to the bank and cashed it.  The amount of this relative fortune was undetermined as this detail was omitted from the story.  The young lady placed the cash in a wallet which she then proceeded to misplace while on the school bus.  A day or two later the wallet reappeared on the bus minus the cash.   

We can only hope a number of valuable lessons were learned from this incident such as responsibility, commitment, learning to keep track of valuables, and the importance of having an active bank account.  Sometimes during our greatest triumph tragedy can strike and the unthinkable can happen.  As one insurance agent said in a moment of bitter sarcasm, “They never wreck old cars – only the brand new ones!” Wallets stuffed with cash get lost the first day of vacation, flat tires happen on crowded interstates, car keys become lost on the day of the big presentation at the office (this is also the morning when the car battery decides to die), honor students have run-ins with the law, and the dog actually does eat the homework.  This last one happened to my son recently.  Our new puppy did eat his homework.  Bad, bad dog.

The trials of life will come in all shapes and sizes and in all forms and situations.  The key is to be ready.  If we have the Lord in our hearts then we will daily be acquiring the spiritual strength necessary to stand firm during life’s struggles.  A brother in Christ reminded me the other day that nothing takes God by surprise.  He knows what is coming, and if we take time to seek Him in prayer the Lord will daily empower us so we will not fall apart during the hard times.   

Everyone needs an anchor, we all need stability, and we all need hope of a brighter tomorrow.  No matter what you are facing please know the Lord stands ready to help.  Christ has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  We can have the peace of God in our hearts even during the darkest days of our lives.  Stand firm, keep looking up, and learn to laugh and appreciate the good times.  Let Christ lead you through the storms.   

Today is ours and for the moment it’s all we have.  Make the most of it and let the Lord bring you His peace.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Healing Touch of Christ

40And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  41And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.  42And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.  -Mark 1:40-42 (KJV) 

Jesus demonstrated He was none too rigid regarding the traditions of His day.  In fact, He did the unthinkable; He touched a leper.  Even the disciples were probably shocked that the Lord would actually make physical contact with a diseased person, and not just any diseased person, but a leper.  Didn’t Jesus realize He was risking contraction of an incurable disease as well as making Himself ceremonially unclean?  Jesus knew exactly what He was doing and He was always consistent in choosing human need over tradition and the letter of the law.  When it came to keeping to tradition or helping others, human need won out every time. 

How willing are we to break the traditions of our day in favor of meeting human need?  Would you touch a leper?  Would I?  What about those who unlike the leper Jesus healed are carrying wounds and painful sores no one can see?  The wounds could have come as the result of shattered dreams, poor decisions, circumstances which couldn’t be controlled, or the overwhelming stress of simply trying to cope with day-to-day life.  When we see suffering people reaching out to God, to us, or to anything which resembles stability, will we follow Jesus’  example and reach back, or will we shun them and turn away?  

Not once did Jesus ever take such an attitude toward people in need.  He was willing to get involved, He made the time, and He didn’t bother with issues of blame and responsibility.  He simply responded in love to those seeking the blessed healing touch.  Several years ago during a conversation with a lady in the community, the subject turned to church attendance.  “We would love to have you and your family come and worship with us this Sunday,” I said.  “You would all be most welcome.”   “We’d like to,” she replied, “but none of us have any nice clothes to wear.”  “That’s not a problem,” I said, “just wear whatever you have and come on.  We aren’t worried about what you wear; we just want you to experience the love of Christ.”   

Following Jesus’ example of placing human need over our traditions dictates we look beyond the clothing and see the needs that are all around us.  God forbid we deny them access to the healing touch of the Lord Jesus because they had nothing to wear.  Regardless of what we are wearing, we all will have scars of varying degrees inflicted upon us by the struggles and pain of life.   

Look to the Lord, for He is able to bring the healing touch of grace to our lives.  Reach out to those in need and show them there is hope in Christ.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taking Time to Listen to the Voice of God

6…I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.  7Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.  8When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.  -Psalm 27:6b-8 (KJV) 

As a pastor I have had the experience of not only seeing myself on film, but also hearing my voice on tape.  Both situations make me most uncomfortable.  “Do I really sound like that?”  I think.  No doubt if you have ever heard your own voice on tape you had a similar feeling.  We can’t believe how we actually sound.  The other day I happened to see a morning news program in which a woman who had been deaf from birth was able to hear her own voice for the first time.  This miracle of medical science was accomplished through a process of electrodes connected to her brain and the inner workings of her ear. 

The effect on this woman hearing her own voice was one of tremendous emotion.  She was so overcome at the sound she immediately burst into tears.  I could not help but become emotional myself as I witnessed this remarkable event.  I considered how most of us hear our own voices every day, yet we have become so used to it that we do not even think about it, let alone become emotional over the wonder of it all.   

Know that when we call out or cry out to God He hears us.  The Lord is willing to incline His ear in our direction and take time to listen to what we have to say.  God never gets used to the sound of our voices.  Neither does He cease from being interested in what we have to say.  Likewise, we can take time to be still and listen for the voice of the Lord.  Some wag might ask if I am hearing voices in my head.  My answer would be no, just one; I listen for and hear the gentle, still, calming voice of God.   

Believe me when I say I am no super saint, if there even is such a thing.  I am simply a person of faith who speaks with the Lord and communes with His as friend to friend.  I highly recommend this as a daily pursuit.  Take time to pray and talk with God.  He will hear, and He will surely answer.  

Comfort, peace, hope, and joy will then follow.