Monday, December 29, 2008

Out of Work, but Not Off Mission

I recently spoke with a Hoper (a believer who lives by these values)who lost his job. As we talked, I began to get more and more excited about his life and the journey God has him on. Remarkably, in the midst of what should be a time of doom and gloom he senses God at work in his life in wonderful ways. He knows that God is good and has always provided for him and his family. Sure he'd like to have income coming in like he was, but he knows it is just a matter of time before God provides. What great faith!

The thing he asked me to pray for was also astounding. He didn't want me to pray for the job he is interviewing for. He wanted me to pray that God would allow him to live on mission no matter where he works. This man wants to show and share the love of Christ with our lost and dying world. He believes that the job he will be getting will simply be a tool that allows him to pay his bills so he can live to give the hope of Jesus to other people. Those he will be working with in the near future are simply soon to be dear friends that he is going to share his life and Lord with.

I am praying for him. I am encouraged by his faith and his Biblical mindset that has him focused on the Great Commission - Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

His story reminds me that God has us all where He wants us right now. Some have a little and some a have lot, but those who have Jesus have all that is needed to do everything God wants with their life. Like Paul, they can say "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12-13).

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments." Habakkuk 3:17-19

Friday, December 19, 2008

Do You Agree or Not?

From the mouth of an atheist. Do you agree or not? Click here.

Penn says:

I don't respect people who don't proselytize. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, 'Well, it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward'... How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Suffering Saints in India Need Our Prayers and Support

The group of men are Christian refugees in Orissa, India.
The man laying down has lost his sanity after seeing His family murdered in front of him by radical Hindus.

I sat last night with my family and listened to the most beautiful Christmas music I have ever heard. I was in my church surrounded by siblings in Christ along with their families and friends. We enjoyed three of those services over the weekend and raised over $11,000 for Hope House - a new nonprofit organization created to care for a specific 3.6 square mile area of our city where the Gospel is not going forth, churches are not growing, and poverty is destroying families.

That morning a couple of thousand people came to our regular worship services and sat under the preaching of God's Word. Lives were impacted and the Kingdom of God took a step forward.

Throughout the weekend, no police or angry mobs showed up to attack us or to try and keep us from worshipping God. I was not arrested. My house has not burned down. My life was not threatened nor were the lives of my family members. We slept in our warm beds safe and well last night.

For all of these blessings I take for granted far too often, I give God praise and thanks today.

In Orissa, India yesterday over 50,000 Christians who have been forced out of their homes and into the jungle struggled to get their basic needs met. A radical group of Hindus have killed many of their pastors, their families, and many leaders in the church. They have burned down churches and Christians' homes. They have made it clear if the Christians come back they will kill them. These radical Hindus are now confiscating the property of the Christians.

In our prosperity, we must remember those that are in need. If you are a member of Living Hope, please give to the Gift for Christ. That money will go to fund mission efforts all over the world in places like India. If you are in a church that is a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, please give to the Lottie Moon Offering. This will provide resources for places like Orissa, India and other locations of need all over the globe where there are IMB missionaries. If you are a part of another church tradition, you can still give to the Lottie Moon Offering and make a difference in the world.

This morning I read Revelation 6, as a part of my daily Bible reading plan. I look forward to the day, when Jesus brings justice to our world. Here is what D.A. Carson said about the martyrs pleas in heaven to Jesus. The martyrs who are “under the altar” cry out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (6:9–10). It is a great comfort to know that justice will be done, and will be seen to be done; it is an even greater comfort to know that God is more forbearing than Christians.D. A. Carson, For the Love of God, December 15.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Defining Success as Parents

I want my children to do well. Defining what that means is very important. My wife and I are investing our best resources into their lives. It is important that we understand and agree what success looks like. Does that mean that they are popular, rich, powerful, happy, healthy, or what?

The words of D.A. Carson help us tremendously. Commenting on 3 John 4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Carson writes, "In a world where many Christians derive their deepest joy from advancement, ease, promotions, financial security, good health, popularity, and a host of other things, it is delightful, not to say challenging, to hear an apostle testify that nothing stirs his joy more than to hear that his “children” are walking in line with the Gospel. That tells us all we need to know of his heart—and of where we should find our pleasures too." D. A. Carson, For the Love of God. Volume 1, December 8.

I want them to know Christ and the power of the resurrection.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wonderful Perspective

I read this during my morning devotion today. This is the perspective I want for myself, my family, and my church. I believe it would provide mental, emotional, and spiritual health, if we could possess this perspective at all times.

"But Christians make their evaluations in the light of eternity. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (2:17). Pity the person whose self-identity and hope rest on transient things. Ten billion years into eternity, it will seem a little daft to puff yourself up over the car you now drive, the amount of money or education you have received, the number of books you owned, the number of times you had your name in the headlines. Whether or not you have won an Academy Award will then prove less important than whether or not you have been true to your spouse. Whether or not you were a basketball star will be less significant than how much of your wealth you generously gave away. The one “who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 1, December 3.

Wonderful Perspective

I read this during my morning devotion today. This is the perspective I want for myself, my family, and my church. I believe it would provide the great mental, emotional, and spiritual health, if we could possess this perspective at all times.

"But Christians make their evaluations in the light of eternity. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (2:17). Pity the person whose self-identity and hope rest on transient things. Ten billion years into eternity, it will seem a little daft to puff yourself up over the car you now drive, the amount of money or education you have received, the number of books you owned, the number of times you had your name in the headlines. Whether or not you have won an Academy Award will then prove less important than whether or not you have been true to your spouse. Whether or not you were a basketball star will be less significant than how much of your wealth you generously gave away. The one “who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 1, December 3.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter Is Here

I just came in from outside and it was snowing. Winter time is upon us. This morning Spurgeon reminded me that just as there is a winter season for the world there is also a winter season for every soul. This winter of the soul is by God's design and for His purpose for His beloved kids.

Read this and be reminded of God's providence and work in the hard times of life.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: he casteth forth his ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, he is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord’s sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soul. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! how pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw nigh to him, and in him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of his promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings December 1 AM.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What a Wake Up Call

Night is Coming by Henry T. Blackaby
Read more wonderful insights like this at

We live in a world of artificial light in so many ways. If we go to a ballgame and nighttime is approaching, we watch as the stadium lights come on in the transition, and we are led to believe that daytime still exists. In essence, we are deceived about the night because of the “artificial light.”

We may function well with artificial light in the physical world but this certainly is not true in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said to His disciples, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5).

We, in our day, tend to believe that we can ignore the real “night that is coming” by turning on our artificial lights to make us think and act as if nothing is wrong. We can spend time in the “artificial light” of Hollywood with its make-believe world of reality. And, of course, the world of sports offers a constant stream of escapism to the real world as well. We literally have hundreds of media channels in which to get lost. And in so doing, we can live carelessly in our unreal world and ignore the real world. This also can apply to the relationships we have in our marriages and families. We can fail to see “the night is coming on,” and it may become too late to work on these precious relationships.

Too many of us today see the darkness approaching in our nation and in our world but convince ourselves it’s not as bad as it truly is. We simply throw on the switch of artificial light so we will not be overtaken by the darkness. And as we do we go on in reckless and fatal abandon.

Jesus gave us a clear warning of this moment. We must face the real time in which we live just as He did and work the works of Him who sent us. Are there “good works” which He ordained that we should work and not postpone (Ephesians 2:10)?

Be encouraged: “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12:36a). Look carefully around you:

-- for what you see “while it is day.”

-- for the approaching “night.”

-- for the deception of the world’s artificial light.

-- for opportunities to let Christ’s light shine in you and through you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Motivation for Evangelism

This week I had the opportunity to discuss evangelism with a handful of pastors and a missionary back home for a break. We were discussing the "why?" of evangelism from a believer's perspective. We are all evangelicals and believe Romans 10:14-15 and the blessing and necessity of sharing the Gospel with the world.

What we were discussing is the motivation to share. We concluded that there are several reasons why people share. Not all of them are actually God-honoring or sustainable, but we fully recognize that the only person to ever share the Gospel rightly - with the right truth and heart - was Jesus. Everyone else does the best they can and in God's grace and for His glory the Lord chooses to work through jars of clay.

The three obvious motivations we all saw were guilt, pride, and love. We concluded that the first one was not sustainable. We believe that the last one is sustainable and appropriate. We acknowledged that the second one would only be as sustainable as it was gratifying to the person's ego.

Guilt is not a healthy or sustainable motivation for sharing the Gospel Sharing because you simply feel sorry for people and want them to have it as good as you, is not enough. The fact of the matter is there are times when we don't feel that we have it all that good and in those moments we won't share. Sharing because we owe it to Jesus and we feel guilty, if we don't, denies the very Gospel that is to be shared. We can never pay Jesus back for what He has given us. The eternal gift that cost the Lord His life is a gift that we will never never never be able to provide proper thanks or pay back. Sharing out of a sense of payback dishonors the gift of grace and the gift giver.

There are a lot of people that share out of pride. They share because they have a quota to meet and it makes them feel great because they shared with a certain number of people. When someone does respond, it puts another notch in their belt. There are a lot of dangers in sharing out of a sense of pride. One is it is easy to turn people off who feel like they are getting a sales job. People know when someone is interested in them and when they are trying to be won to another person's side. Another danger is that it can create an elitist attitude. I have heard many say for the wrong reason, "I don't know why more people don't share." What can make a statement like that inappropriate is if in their heart they are thinking, "I wish more people were more spiritual like me and were as active in sharing their faith." One more danger I would mention is that it minimizes the power and impact of the Gospel. When the Gospel is shared in pride, it becomes a means to the end of stoking a person's ego. The Gospel should produce humility and awe of God. It should never produce pride and awe of self.

The one motivation that is healthy and sustainable is love. When we share the Gospel because we genuinely love God and want to honor Him for what He has done and because we possess an authentic love for people that we want to see saved from a life separated from the rule and love of Christ and an eternity separated from God in hell. When we share from this motivation our plea is passionate. Our joy is in what it does for others and God's glory. Our peace is in giving hope and finding assurance of our own faith, as we define it and at times defend it. It remains faithful to the Gospel itself, which was given out of love to produce a life of generosity and compassion.

In the end God can use all three motivations to spread His Kingdom. As Paul told the Philippians what is important is that Christ is preached. Philippians 1:15-18 "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,"

Share your faith today, but share it with love. Don't share it out of a sense of guilt or to build your pride. Share because you love God and want others to know how great He is. Share because you love people and want them to know the gracious life giving God you know.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Order of Things

“And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.”
— Genesis 29:26

"We do not excuse Laban for his dishonesty, but we scruple not to learn from the custom which he quoted as his excuse. There are some things which must be taken in order, and if we would win the second we must secure the first. The second may be the more lovely in our eyes, but the rule of the heavenly country must stand, and the elder must be married first. For instance, many men desire the beautiful and well-favoured Rachel of joy and peace in believing, but they must first be wedded to the tender-eyed Leah of repentance. Every one falls in love with happiness, and many would cheerfully serve twice seven years to enjoy it, but according to the rule of the Lord’s kingdom, the Leah of real holiness must be beloved of our soul before the Rachel of true happiness can be attained. Heaven stands not first but second, and only by persevering to the end can we win a portion in it. The cross must be carried before the crown can be worn. We must follow our Lord in his humiliation, or we shall never rest with him in glory." C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings November 14 PM.

As there are seasons in nature, there is an order to life. Just as summer comes before fall so faithfulness comes before fulfillment. So many times we want to get the blessing of God without first being faithful. In order to live in Christ we must die to self. There is a divine order to all things. We must surrender before we can be saved. We must seek first the Kingdom of God and then all the other things will be added.

Is your life in order? How and from what have you excused yourself from obedience? What wrong expectations have you placed on God?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring Our Veterans

Today is the day we honor our veterans. One of my great regrets I have in life is that I did not serve my country in the military. I come from a family of men who did and I am extremely proud of them and their service.

I am proud of my country and I am thankful for the men and women who currently serve and have served in years past to protect this great nation and defend our liberties. It seems in the media and even in some Christian circles that the US military is viewed as a great evil. I do not see it that way. I by no means believe that it is without its faults, but so is the church and every Christian I know.

What makes me so thankful is their willingness to sacrifice their lives for me and for the nation I get to live in. Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Many of our veterans paid the ultimate sacrifice to provide the freedoms we enjoy. There are many who are putting themselves in a position to pay that price today. These are men and women who love us and our great nation and so I say thank you and honor you today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Really Not About Us

So many times I and other Christians assume that what is happening in our lives and in our world is about us. We are like my baby boy Asher who believes the world revolves around him and should be structured to his benefit and liking. We Christians think that way a lot. You can hear it in our prayers, our attitudes toward difficulties, and in the way we complain. We take Romans 8:28 to always mean that God is going to make something bad good for us. Why? Because we think it's all about us.

The first line of Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life" he writes, "It's not about you." Oswald Chambers explains, "If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all; they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across" (My Utmost for His Highest: November 5).

God is the potter; we are the clay. Jeremiah 18:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

The question is, what kind of clay are we? Are we dry and uneasily transformed? Are we hard and break easy under stress? Are we too soft and fall apart easily? Or are we weak enough to be changed and strong enough to take form?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Power of Perspective

On Sunday I had more message than minutes. Here is something I left out of Sunday's message, when I made the point that LIVING BY FAITH DEMANDS THAT WE BELIEVE GOD EXISTS. Hebrews 11:6b "because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists".

If you believe that God exists that belief will impact your world-view. Everything you do and think is based on your world-view and everybody has a world-view. A world-view can be defined as the lens someone sees the world through that defines reality.

As Christians, we have a distinct world-view that is based on that fact that we believe God exists, is knowable by grace through faith in Christ, and is at work in our lives and our world. But as soon as I say that I must admit that the church of Jesus is facing a crisis right now that is hurting not only the church, but the world the church is called to serve. The problem with the church is that many within the church know what the Bible teaches, but many do not actually believe what the Bible teaches nor do they see the world through a Biblical Christ-centered world-view. There seems to be a gap between the stated beliefs and the actual behaviors of Christians these days.

The people of the church says they believe certain things based on their membership in a local church, but many do not live what they say they believe. This is not true of every Christian or church. We are blessed at Living Hope to have a majority of people that genuinely believe the God exists and are living out of a Biblical Christ-centered world-view. But in general the church in North America isn’t and there are serious consequences to this gap between what is believed and what is lived.

One consequence of this gap is an unhealthy church that is not growing. According to Ed Stetzer, Director of Lifeway Research and all around great guy, "North America is the only continent in the world where the church is not growing. In North America, the church is in decline. Some even claim it is dying." That is startling, when you think about the number of people and the amount of resources that are at the disposal of the church in North America. The church is not dying, but it is struggling as a result of this gap between what the Bible teaches and how God’s people are living.

Another consequence is an unhealthy world that believes the church is irrelevant and hypocritical. According to David Kinnaman, the president of The Barna Group "(studies show)that 16- to 29-year-olds exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations when they were at the same stage of life. In fact, in just a decade, many of the Barna measures of the Christian image have shifted substantially downward, fueled in part by a growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment among young people. For instance, a decade ago the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity’s role in society. Currently, however, just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a "good impression" of Christianity. Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%)."

When 87% of these young people surveyed think of Christianity, they do not think about grace. They think about “judgment” and not of God's judgment, but of His people. I recently saw a bumper Sticker that said, “Jesus save me from your followers!” They see the church as a group of scary people.

When 85% of these young people surveyed think of Christianity, they do not think about authenticity. They think hypocrite.

The people of the world are looking at the church and not wondering if what we say is true, but they are questioning if we truly believe what we say is true. The world is questioning Christians because they claim to believe in a gracious loving God, but do not seem to be gracious and loving themselves.

All people live out what they believe is true based on their world-view. People who believe that God exists will live like it. The text tells us that to live by faith and please God, we must first believe that God exists and live like it. To live the Christian life we must embrace a Biblical Christ-centered world-view and then live it.

That’s what living by faith is. It’s believing God exists and then living like it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Seven Days to the Election

I found this video helpful and informative for Christian citizens at

Click here to see it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Christianity vs. Socialism

I am not trained in economics, but from what I can see socialism seems to bring out the worst in people. For those who receive help, the danger of an entitlement attitude seems too strong of a temptation to overcome. For those who give the help, the danger of social, and therefore, emotional separation seems too easy of a temptation to overcome. It brings out the worst in people. On the one hand a person becomes apathetic about their responsibility to provide for their family. On the other hand a person becomes apathetic about their responsibility to care for families around them and not just write a check.

Christianity demands more of people and produces a better result. In 1 Timothy 5 Paul is training his young protégé in the social functions of the pastorate and the church. He is teaching him how people are to be cared for and how they are to give care within a church family. His instructions require the leaders of each family to provide for their family. 1 Timothy 5:7-8 Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. How’s that for high expectations and clear accountability? If you don’t provide, it is clear you not only don’t believe, but are even worse than an unbeliever.

The church is then responsible for those who cannot care for themselves. 1 Timothy 5:3-5 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. The people of the church incapable of working and providing for their needs must be cared for by the church. Note that they are to be people of the church being cared for by the people in the church.

I love the way I see this happening in our church. We have a benevolence fund, but that is more of a last resort option in my opinion. What I see happening is people who are in small group, service team, or an adult bible fellowship caring for each other. Someone loses a job and the others come together and help out until they get on their feet. A young mother has to go back to work to help make ends meet and another mom provides child-care. Two families with changing needs swap houses rather than incurring unnecessary expenses in buying and selling a home. Someone is called to go to Africa, so everybody chips in to cover the costs, provides meals for the person’s family while they are gone, and helps with child-care and other errands. A health crises erupts suddenly and people are taking shifts to stay with the one in the hospital and helping out at the family’s home to keep things going.

It’s not complicated. It’s love. It’s Christianity and it brings out the best in people receiving and giving the help. There is no sense of entitlement nor is there a buffer of separation. It’s just people doing life together.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Christian Economics

"Churlish souls stint their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that they are thus impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses. Our God has a method in providence by which he can succeed our endeavours beyond our expectation, or can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay; by a turn of his hand he can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the liberal and leaves the miserly to find out that withholding tendeth to poverty. In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance have been always the most happy, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the liberal giver rise to wealth of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the mean, ungenerous churl descend to poverty by the very parsimony by which he thought to rise. Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; he gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed the Lord makes the little much by the contentment which the sanctified heart feels in a portion of which the tithe has been dedicated to the Lord. Selfishness looks first at home, but godliness seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, yet in the long run selfishness is loss, and godliness is great gain. It needs faith to act towards our God with an open hand, but surely he deserves it of us; and all that we can do is a very poor acknowledgment of our amazing indebtedness to his goodness."

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995), October 26 AM.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hope in the Midst of Despair

This morning, Blackaby’s devotion (click here to get it) gave me great hope as I was reminded by the truth of God’s goodness and faithfulness regardless of circumstance. In our country we are facing difficult economic times. We are also in the midst of an election where the media is pulling for and telling us that a pro-abortion president and congress will be taking office in ’09.

You can listen to Obama’s view on abortion and then compare it with McCain’s view by clicking here.

Here are some Scriptures that guide my thinking about life and when life begins. Even before conception God has a plan for every person ever conceived. Once life begins at conception God knows and forms that person. To end that life is to murder it and rob that precious baby of the right to live. And that kind of killing takes place everyday in this country.

Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Anyway, even in the midst of these discouraging times God is still God. God is still good. He loves us and will guide us, as His people, to live out the purpose for which He created us. Perhaps these trying times will bring our nation back to its senses and will will become one nation under God.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Heart of Worship

I appreciate the profound truth of today's devotion. Worship is a vital part of the believer's life. If a person is not able to worship well in the community of the redeemed, over time...

Check out the rest of this blog I wrote for Living Hope's Prayer blog here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Daughter Is 12!

I cannot believe my little girl is 12. She is two thirds of the way through her childhood. I have six more years to prepare her to head out on her own. The prayers of my wife and I have been consistent. We pray for her Spirit, her mind, and her body. We believe that if she has the Spirit of God working in her, a mind for Christ, and a healthy body to serve the Lord with that there is not much more a parent can hope for. From that solid foundation we know she can be guided by God and make good decisions for her life.

We are extremely proud of our little girl. I see in her the beauty and common sense of her mother and her willingness to take risks like her father. I see a love for God and for people. I see a willing heart open to God's directing. I see a life and body that is rapidly changing, but a fundamental commitment to honor God and her parents that stays the same.

Here are some pictures from the early days. Check out dad with hair!

One of the events my wife and I can look back on now and laugh about is the first month or so of Mackenzie's life. She was colic for the first several weeks. If she was awake, she was crying. She was so miserable and so were we. One afternoon I came home from work and my poor wife was in the back bedroom. When I came in she simply said, "Change the diaper." There was no smile or any emotion at all in the statement. It was just a command that needed no explanation, but did tell me all about how the day had gone.

While I was changing the diaper, I heard the door shut. By the time I got the diaper on and carried this crying bundle of love to the window all I could see were the tail lights of my wife's car. I looked in the face of my screaming daughter and said, "Oh, I hope she comes back."

In time she did. She just needed a break. Those were tough days, but we now look at the daughter God has given us and the tough times are seen as worth it.

You may be going through a tough time in your life right now. It may be in your marriage, with your children or other family members, with your finances or work, or maybe with friends or church. No matter what you are going through, don't give up on God. Don't walk away from this opportunity to grow. If you stay the course that honors God no matter how hard it may be, you will be glad you did in the end. If you quit now, you'll find it easier to quit again and again on other things. Don't quit! Stay the course and trust God to provide.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Man on a Mission in South India

I got word this morning that Moses, a man of peace in India that works with our missionaries there, is in Orissa. He will be there for four days providing relief. He has received $3,000 from the IMB to go in and do all he can. Please pray for his safety. Pray that he will be able to provide love and care for our siblings in Christ who desperately need it. Pray that God will use this persecution to strengthen the church in India and grow it so that the billion plus people there can know that Jesus loves them and is Lord.

You can see some of what happened last month to our siblings in Christ by clicking here and here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pray for Our Siblings

Please join me in praying for our siblings in Christ who are facing terrible persecution in South India.

You can read an article explaining some of what is happening here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hiking in India

We have 16 members of Living Hope hiking in the Himalayas sharing the Gospel with villages filled with people that have never heard the name Jesus Christ. This work is tiring and draining. It is draining on the soul to see people living in such great darkness. It is draining on the mind to have so much to say, but so few ways to communicate. It is draining on the heart to know that these people are in spiritual peril without hope. They are sheep without shepherds in a land of the lion looking for people to devour. And the devil is devouring these precious people with his entire arsenal of death.

Please pray for our team members seeking to share the only hope of salvation - Jesus. Pray for their physical safety. They are surrounded by water that can make them sick and are walking up and down trails that can cause a painful stumble. Pray for them spiritually that they will rest in the grace of our God and in the victory of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for them emotionally. They are far from home and what they know and are surrounded by suffering.

Pray also for their families and friends back home. They are concerned for their loved ones, but also hopeful that God will use them for His glory and Kingdom purpose.

What we are doing as a church and this team is doing on the field is what the early church did and what we must continue to do. We must share the hope we have with our neighbors and take that Gospel around the world to those who have never heard. We must do this with love. Our love for each other as a church family should show our community our Christ in us and that same love must motivate us to go to those that feel forgotten and live unforgiven. This is what the early church did according to the book of Acts and that is what we must continue to do.

These are pictures of my trip a couple of weeks ago in the same area our team is in now.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thinking about India

My thoughts are in India this morning. Our team of 16 just arrived there. Their senses are being overwhelmed right now. They are not tired. Their bodies believe it is 7:30 am, but outside it 9:00 pm. The sights, smells, and sounds of poverty, spiritual darkness, and dense humanity is bombarding them as they make their way to cabs to get to a hotel in preparation for a long train ride tomorrow.

Please pray for this team.

I remember just two weeks ago experiencing the same thing, but also sensing God's peace knowing that I had been sent their by my master to do a vital work for His Kingdom.

This team, like I was, has been sent by God to take the Gospel to people that have never heard the name of Jesus. They will be surrounded by four thousand years of demonic worship and strongholds. Pray that the light of the Gospel in their souls will burn brightly and be seen by those living in the great darkness.

Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Here are pictures of what I experienced getting off of the plane, to the hotel and train station, and on the train.

Click here to see better pictures and to read more stories to get a sense of what God is doing with our team.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Last Night at Wendesday Night Worship

We had a sweet experience of praise, prayer, and preaching last night during our Wednesday Night Worship Service. We have two teams going on mission. Our high school ministry is headed to Scotland and we have sixteen adults headed to South Asia to the same area I just returned from. We prayed for them and after our time of prayer the place erupted in song, while others were hugging and encouraging their family and friends. All I could think was this is church. This is what it's all about - praising God and loving each other.

Unfortunately, for me with all of our praising and praying I was left with more message than minutes. I ended up rushing through the last few points of the talk and I want to make sure that these truths are taught. They have to do with personal development in Christ. The main point of last night's message was that maturity in Christ leads to greater dependence on God and not less, which comes from a humble heart that approaches God in a childlike, but not childish way.

God in His grace will discipline us according to Hebrews 12. But the mature believers is one that disciplines their own life. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.

One of the ways we train our soul is through the study of God's Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1. Correct – this deals with behavior and seeking to change it or align it to God’s will.
2. Rebuke - this deals more with correcting the person’s motives by convicting the believer of sin leading to repentance.
3. Encourage – this deals with letting believers know what they are doing that is right.
The Scripture does all three. We must train ourselves with it and discipline our lives.

But reading is only a part of the training. After reading, we must take time to think through what we've read and make that truth a part of our world-view. The Scriptures lead us to a theistic world-view where we are aware that God is at work in the world and His Word shows us where and how and sometimes even why. Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer

Then we must act on what we've read. Each day we should make it a point to live out at least one truth we have read in God's Word. James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Discipline and Sin

I posted some thoughts on Living Hope's prayer blog this morning. Click here to read it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pastor's Conference

The first function of our mission trip to South Asia was to train a group of pastors. Many of them brought their families and some people from their church. There were eight people who decided to follow Jesus in baptism. I am not sure if they came to Christ at the conference or if they were already believers when they arrived, but had not been baptized. The people the pastors and I are praying over are the believers to be baptized.

This is a huge step in their life. It's not like what happens here in the States where we have a nice baptismal service in the midst of Sunday worship and then a nice lunch with family and friends afterward to celebrate.

If and when these believes are baptized, they will be persecuted. They will miss out on educational opportunities for their children, they can lose their homes and jobs, they could be removed from their extended family, and they could be ostracized and attacked by their neighbors. They will probably have to travel some distance to find water suitable for baptism and then they will face a life of pain and difficulty.

Why would they choose to do that? Because like Moses they have their hearts set on something greater and more significant that this life's comforts. Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Team Life

The Christian life is never to be lived in isolation. God has made us to be in community. God Himself is three in one and is in constant community in His divine existence. A Christian must always be in the midst of community or have the support of community, even when they are at a distance physically from those they love.

I was reminded of the importance of the Team Life in India. Scott, David, and I went to India as a team. This was crucial to our success. As a team, we brought our individual strengths and used them to help God's effort He had called us to. There was no wasted gift. Each strength was used for the whole.

There were four basic activities on this trip where the team in God's grace and power was able to succeed.

The first activity was travel. Traveling is one of the most difficult parts of any trip. If anything is going to go wrong, it usually involves travel. Many times planes or trains are delayed. Luggage can easily get lost or not delivered. Sometimes cab drivers take passengers to the wrong places without the passenger even knowing they are in the wrong place. Our team was able to use our cumulative strength, wisdom, and discernment to get the team where we were supposed to be.

The second activity was preaching. Each of us brought three messages to the pastors and their families and friends. Scott focused on the what the Gospel is and how prayer works. David focused on Discipleship and the principle components that are necessary for people to be made into disciples. I focused on leadership and what the specific roles and functions are for a leader. We each had different strengths and areas of competency that were utilized to bring a holistic training to these indigenous leaders.

The third activity was hiking. We had to traverse a long windy wet trail for several hours to get to the villages where we would be sharing the Gospel. The rain actually made the trail a creek in some parts. We had to deal with detours, leaches, and falls. All along the way we were there to pick each other up and provide strength and direction for the trip. We sang hymns and prayed as we went and gave God praise and joy to each others' hearts.

The fourth activity was encouraging the mission team. We spoke into these precious people's lives with a Word God had given us to give to them. Each of us had a different perspective that brought together a single message from God: "You are here by God's divine calling and are equipped for this good work. Continue in the task before you and do not lose heart. Know that the Spirit of God has gone before you. Jesus is with you. God is working in all things to accomplish His perfect will. The churches are with you."

Our team was a good one. We were able to serve the missionaries who are serving as an amazing team.

Everyone needs to be a on a team. You need to have people that you are journeying through life with and sharing your experiences. You need other people and they need you.

Who is on your team? Write down their names, pray for them, and get together with them soon and talk about team life.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back from South Asia

On Monday, September 15, 2008 I left for an eight day trip into a dark dying portion of creation half way around the world. I went with two trusted brothers, Scott Patty and David Atchison. Scott is the pastor of Grace Community Church in Nashville, Tn. If you are ever in Nashville you should take advantage of the opportunity to worship with some of the greatest people in the Kingdom of God and sit under a gifted Bible expositor. David Atchison is a Christian Business man and an elder at Grace Community Church.

I partnered with Scott and David for two reasons. One, Scott is a man God has used to disciple me for 20 years now. He is a dear brother and a strong voice in my life. The second reason is because we each have a family from our church serving together in the region we visited. Scott and I both believe in global missions and have sought to raise up missionaries from our respective congregations. We were going to visit the outcome of our prayers and efforts and encourage their work and experience something of what God is doing through them for the praises of His glory and name.

The plan for the trip was simple. The impact on my life was immense.

We led a pastor's conference for approximately 60 people from this nation. Some were pastors who are actively sharing Christ and seeking to build house groups to develop them into house churches. Some of them were family members of these pastors, leaders involved in their churches or groups, or people that were on the edge of committing to Christ.

To commit to Christ in this culture and be baptized is a great sacrifice. The believer must truly die to their old life in order to live a new life in Christ. It will mean that this person and their family will miss out on financial opportunities. There might also be an estrangement from family for having faith in Christ. Those who are in Christ are being heavily persecuted in parts of this nation. You can click here to see an example of this persecution from a couple of weeks ago. Be warned that this is very disturbing footage.

We saw eight people choose to follow Christ by faith and decided to be baptized. It was overwhelming to see such great faith and a willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ. I was humbled and reminded of what a great honor it is to know Jesus and be filled with the Holy Spirit. In American it is easy to take God for granted. Thankfully, I don't know that I can do that anymore.

In a later blog I'll provide more insights and details from the pastor's conference. It was a glorious encounter with the risen Christ and with my Spirit-filled siblings.

Next we headed to the mountains to do evangelism. We hiked in the foothills of the Himalayas and shared Jesus with people who had never heard His name. The entire experience of hiking for hours in the pouring rain, falling down the hill and getting knocked silly, seeing poverty and pain, sharing Jesus, and seeing new in Christ begun was overwhelming. In a later blog I will share the details of this experience. It changed my life.

We had a precious worship time on the Lord's Day with our hosts in the mountains and then were to head back down to do some additional evangelism before getting back in the valley, but a rock slide changed all of that. Instead we had to take an eight hour detour into the heart of darkness past the Ganders River where it seemed we enter back into the New Testament world where Paul had sought to share Christ. Here were pagans worshipping idols - demons that did not know and had not heard of Jesus. It was surreal. The darkness was oppressive to me. I will share more pictures and insights from that experience later.

Finally, we began our trek back and experienced some fellowship and made some new friends from the IMB who involved us in a documentary they are doing for their focus on India next year.

This experience has made me a different man. It was not at all what I thought it would be like. Even though I got sick, the physical aspect was not the difficulty for me. I thought it would be. The challenge for me was the spiritual realities I had to deal with. My faith, which is content full, but weak in spiritual warfare, was challenged and strengthened. The emotional trial I faced was also exhausting. Seeing children begging in the streets was more than I was ready for. I'd seen pictures, but it is something altogether different to have a mother holding a naked baby with waste running down it's rail thin legs asking you for food in a busy traffic intersection in between red lights. That's just something that you don't get over.

I was asked by my small group last night, if I would do it again knowing what I do now. And the answer is yes. If God called, I would go. I would go out of obedience, but also in the hopes that what happened in me would happen again and enable me to believe in ways I can't even imagine now. There is no way for me to estimate the impact these days had on me. I only know that I am not the husband, father, friend or pastor I once was. God has changed me eternally.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Best Explanation of Prayer

As I read this devotion this morning, I received the best and most succinct explanation of prayer I have ever heard. It comes from Blackaby's devotion "Experiencing God Day by Day", which is available here at his website.

A couple of weeks ago, I had someone ask my why we should pray if God was sovereign. They did not understand the need to speak to God about matters He'd already determined in His will. I attempted to explain what Blackeby has written here about prayer. Needless to say, I did not do as well.

This is what prayer is and what it does. This is good.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Acts 2:1)

Prayer does not give you spiritual power. Prayer aligns your life with God so that He chooses to demonstrate His power through you. The purpose of prayer is not to convince God to change your circumstances but to prepare you to be involved in God’s activity.

The fervent prayer of the people at Pentecost did not induce the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Prayer brought them to a place where they were ready to participate in the mighty work God had already planned.

Jesus told His followers to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:4–5). The disciples obeyed His command, waiting for God’s next directive. As they prayed, God adjusted their lives to what He intended to do next. As they prayed, a unity developed among them. For the first time the disciples used Scripture as their guide in decision making (Acts 1:15–26). The day of Pentecost arrived, and the city of Jerusalem filled with pilgrims from around the world. When God released His Holy Spirit upon the disciples, He had already filled the city with messengers who would carry the Gospel to every nation. Prayer had prepared the disciples for their obedient response.

Prayer is designed to adjust you to God’s will, not to adjust God to your will. If God has not responded to what you are praying, you may need to adjust your praying to align with God’s agenda. Rather than focusing on what you would like to see happen, realize that God may be more concerned with what He wants to see happen in you.

Wow! Wrap your mind around that and give God praise. Prayer, like life in Christ, is all about what God is doing and our being aligned to Jesus. It is not about us.

Friday, September 5, 2008

But Stay Humble

Last week, I wrote about the Victorious Christian Life. I want to provide a word of caution as well. Live victorious, but remain humble.

Heed the Scripture that tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

A sure way to lose your step is to ignore the fact that you are prone to wander and quite capable of sinning to an extent that it could ruin your life and the life of those you love.

During his early teen years, Robert Robinson lived in London, where he mixed with a notorious gang of hoodlums and led a life of debauchery. At the age of 17 he attended a meeting where the noted evangelist George Whitefield was preaching. Robinson went for the purpose of “scoffing at those poor, deluded Methodists” and ended up professing faith in Christ as his Savior. Soon he felt called to preach the gospel and subsequently became the pastor of a rather large Baptist church in Cambridge, England. Despite his young age, Robinson became known as an able minister and scholar, writing various theological books as well as several hymns, including these words written when he was just 23 years of age:
Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above; praise the mount—I’m fixed upon it—mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer—hither by Thy help I’m come; and I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger wand’ring from the fold of God; He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wand’ring heart to Thee: Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it—prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart—O take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

[Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, Includes Indexes. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), 343.]

Now for the rest of the story. As the years passed, Robert lost his focus and passion for God.
A story, possibly apocryphal, is sometimes told of Robinson that one day in a stagecoach a lady asked him what he thought of the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." He responded, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then."

The Victorious Christian Life

Congratulations to Coach Bobby Johnson and the Vanderbilt Commodores!!!!

Last night Vanderbilt beat The 'Ol Ball Coach by defeating the 24th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. The special teams played extremely well as did the defense. Both put the offense in good field position and they made big plays to get touchdowns rather than field goals.

I must confess that I did not allow myself to enjoy the second half. I just kept waiting for Vandy to lose it. I have been watching The 'Dores for years and I've seen them have a lead and then lose it by turning the ball over or just running out of steam. I did what many Christians do in the face of long-term struggles with habitual sin. I miserably waited for and anticipated defeat.

All believers struggle with sin. Some have struggleld more and for a longer time. These Christians many times will do well for a while, but there is something in the back of their minds that tells them that they are going to fail. They beleive, as I did about Vandy, that they are destined to lose the battle.

Unlike football where the game goes to the strongest, believers must learn that the battle is not won by the strongest, but the weakest. The way sin is overcome is through living in grace.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Believers are made strong by the indwelling Spirit.

Romans 8:12-15 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

The so-called pramatics who live by will-power say, "How does that work?"

It's simple. The fruit of the Spirit is love. When you love God, you obey God. Living the Spirit-filled life is the exact opposite of living the self-focused will-powered life. The Spirit-filled life lives to say, "Yes, Lord." The self-focused will-powered life is lived saying, "No." God wants us to live saying "yes" to him. Yes, I trust you God. Yes, I know you love me God. Yes, I love you because you loved me and gave yourself for me. Because I love you, I will trust and obey you. The self-focused will-powered life is lived saying, "No, I won't give in. No, I won't do this or that."

God wants us to live saying, "Yes!"

Whenever we sin, we in essence say "no" to God. We say, "No, God I don't trust you. No, I don't believe you want what is best for me. This sin is best for me. Instead of loving you and obeying you in trust, I am going to love myself or something/someone else and trust and obey that or them." That is what sin is. It is refusing to love God.

To live victoriously in Christ we should expect to love God at all times. We must live in the Spirit, which produces love. The love we have in Christ is revealed as we trust and obey. As we trust and obey, we avoid the failure of sin and we bask in God's grace. Grace brings the victory.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Church - Handle with Care

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple."

D.A. Carson comments on this passage writing, "In 3:16–17, the building, the church of God, becomes a temple. Later on, God’s temple is the individual Christian’s body (6:19–20), but here it is the local church. God loves this building so much that he openly threatens to destroy those who destroy God’s temple. Damage the church, and you desecrate God’s temple—and God will destroy you."

The church is not something anyone needs to mess with or cause problems in. Those who produce divisions or cause unnecessary controversy can destroy a body of believers. People who gossip, hold grudges, or try to gain power can introduce destructive elements that weaken the body.

These influences are like diseases. God will not tolerate them. He will inject a disease-killing treatment to save the body.

That is a sobering thought.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Compassion in Action

Yesterday, I talked about the need for believers to love people and provide compassion. I went long and still had stuff I wanted to share. You can find the sermon here. The good thing is using this technology, you can fast forward it if I start to bore you.

One thing I wanted to emphasize was the gift of serving that goes to those who give. We are to give compassion because God has been compassionate to us, but one of the great by-products of compassion is friendship.

I heard about a guy at church who would come and enjoy worship, but was not one to speak out or do anything that would put the spotlight on him and yet he is dearly loved and honored. This is a guy who would never consider sharing his testimony in church because it would just overwhelm him and yet he has so much love for people and a trail of friends in his wake.

Why? Because he loves people and shows them compassion using his gifts. He is a tool man who can fix things. There are people in the world, like me, who have no business being near a toolbox or a construction project. The fact is I will break what's being built, hurt myself and possibly hurt others.

That's not the case with this man.

Not long ago a neighbor who had not been real open to conversation or connection was working on his house, but wasn't doing well. I feel his pain. This tool man came over with his toolbox and said, "Would you mind if I helped? I love this sort of project?" Desperate and amazed the neighbor accepted the offer.

Within no time at all, the job was done. As the tool man was packing up, the neighbor said pointing to the tool man's tools, "Man that is an awesome set of tools. What is the best thing you've ever made with them?"

The tool man thought for a minute and smiled and said, "Honestly, the best thing I've ever made with these tools are friends. I hope I just made another one." The neighbor held out his hand and the rest is history.

In time the tool man was able to share his hope in Christ and give his neighbor a chance to receive Christ and find a family of friends at church.

That is all any of us can do. Use what we've got to give compassion to others and provide what they need more than anything else - love.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Answer to Life's Problems

I apologize for not posting for such a long time. This has been a very busy time in my life. I have been serving my church by being on-call. The on-call minister responds to all of the emergency and hospital needs for the week. I am on-call for two weeks back to back, so please pray for me.

Although it is a very busy and sometimes difficult time, being on-call is one of the great joys of my job. It is such an honor and a privilege to pray with people and bring them encouragement in the name of Jesus.

This week I have talked with people who are dealing with all kinds of difficulties. Some are struggling financially, some with an addiction, some with a health concern that will last the remainder of their life, some with a health problem that is causing excruciating pain that will be over soon, some are facing mental health challenges, and some are facing death. There are some that are children and some of that are senior adults and many are adults in between.

In any and every case there is one thing that each of these struggling individuals needs. They need love. They need someone to tell them that God loves them and then be shown through the life of one of God's people that they are truly loved.

It is amazing to me the stark difference between those who are being loved by the people of God and those who are not. I visited with people this week who are in a small group, service team, or an adult bible fellowship in our church and it was amazing how much love they received. People were taking care of their homes and families, visiting them, praying for them, and just sitting with them to show them love. They will be cared for long after their visit to the hospital with meals, cards, calls and visits to their home. I have also been with people who are not connected in a church family. Some attend a church, but are not involved in close relationships. Others don't attend church and have no way of having a church family of friends to surround them.

Those who are loved and cared for by a circle of Christian friends have such a peace. There is a confidence I find in them that is inspiring.

Here's the point. People need you and you need people. We all need the love of Jesus reigning in our hearts and living through our lives. We need the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us to bring and give comfort. You need people around you who can point you to the Lord and remind you of the hope you have and they need you to do that for them. We all need it. Those who are in the bed sick and those who are standing or sitting by the bed giving comfort need it. We need to be reminded to look to the Lord for our strength.

What is surprising is how much everybody gets out of the experience of sharing life. Those who give the most get the most. Those who provide the care to others gain a joy and even a great happiness. Those who receive the care find peace.

We may not be able to fix people's problems. We may not be able to make them better, but we can give them what they need. We can give them love.

Meditate on this. I will be speaking from this text tomorrow.

Colossians 3:12-16 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.