Monday, August 31, 2009


At Living Hope yesterday we enjoyed a time of Spiritual Renewal. Dr. Bobby Welch was our guest speaker for the day. Bobby is a man I have admired for many years. It was an honor to have him come and share the Gospel at Living Hope. You can listen to his message to us by clicking here. We put up the 8:00 and 9:30 service because what he said at the 8:00 service was somewhat different than what he said at the 9:30 and 11:00 services, especially at the end.

He talked to us about authentic faith. One of the things he shared that I had never heard and absolutely loved was how the people in his small Northern Alabama town would describe someone that had become a Christian.

When a person in their town would come to that place in their life where they surrendered their life to the risen Christ, they were said to have changed. For instance someone might ask, "Jimmy, what year was it, when you changed?" Or asking about someone they might say, "Has Joey had a change yet?"

What I love is that this language speaks to what happens to a person's life. When a person comes to faith in Christ, they are changed. Jesus saves by grace through faith and not by works, but anyone who has been saved by grace through faith always has works. A person of faith always lives out their faith and their life is changed and other people can see the change in the way they treat others, speak, and approach their life.

I think I am going to start using that because it is Biblical.
James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

John 15:8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Great Expectations

I have pretty high standards for myself. I am sure there are others that might think I am a slacker, but on the whole I think I make a good case for my work ethic and productivity.

One thing I have learned in life is that, although I need to live with great expectations of myself, I do not need to live with great expectations of others. Living with great expectations of others creates stress on a relationship and disappointment that is many times unnecessary.

I spoke with a pastor recently that is living under the pressure of great expectations of people that demand that he do what they want. The kicker is that the people are not willing to help meet the need. They just want to enjoy the benefits of something without helping make it happen. He is incapable and is not called by God to work alone and to provide for the interests of people. He is a man ordained in the Gospel ministry to make disciples. God has given him a vision and a functional method to produce fruit, but there are people that are coming to him not asking what can I help you do. They are coming and asking, "What else can you do that fits more into what I want?"

If you are a member of a local church, please encourage those leaders that serve you and come along side of them and help them. Instead of going to church with great expectations of others, go to church with great expectations of yourself and give your time and energy in providing for the needs of others within the paradigm the leaders of your church believe God desires for the ministry they lead.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Morning

Lamentations 3:22-23 "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

I am a bit of a morning person. Since college football, when we would be up at 5 am to workout I have been accustomed to getting up and getting going. One of the things I love about the morning is the freshness of a new day that provides new opportunities. I also love the compassion of God that is new every morning. Each new day I am reminded of God's grace to me and His promise to love me eternally. Life has ups and downs, but our God's compassion and love never fails. He is always faithful.

This week I have spoken with two Godly women that can testify to that. One buried her husband this week and the other has struggled with a painful illness for months. In each instance these ladies have found that God's grace is sufficient to provide what they need each day. They have also found that God's compassion is made new every morning.

God's compassion and love does not remove our pain, but they provide the hope that produces perseverence.

Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Out of Control and Liking It

I am typing on a borrowed computer today. Mine is dead, but Stuart the IT man here at Living Hope was able to save the contents of my hard drive. I was able to rewrite the message I will bring to the church on Sunday, but it is somehow two points shorter. I do not think anyone will mind. I have never heard anyone complain about a short sermon.

So all is good. Except the fact that I had a bit of a panic attack this week that has caused me to have to repent and relook at my life and faith.

This week has been a tough week, but why should that matter? If God is always God, and clearly He always is, that means that He is always at work in all things to make them good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). That means that there is never any good reason for a follower of Jesus to ever be overwhelmed by the contents of their work or the circumstances they face. We can be content under any conditions (Philippians 4:12-13).

The fact that I was overwhelmed only means that I was taking responsibility for something that goes beyond my human capacity. There is in me a desie to control what happens to me and to the ones I love. That is not something I can actually do and taking responsibility for something you can not do will lead you to be discouraged and drained in every way.

The question before me and all of us is this: Do we believe God (Romans 4:3)? Not do we believe in Him, but do we believe God. Do we believe He is in cotrol (Psalm 135:5-7)? Do we believe He loves us (John 15:13)? Do we believe that He works everything for good (Romans 8:28)? Do we believe He has a plan to provide for us (Jeremisah 29:11)?

If we believe God, then we can stop fighting to try and stay in control. There is a lot I can do to protect my life, my family, my church, and my friends, but I am limited. I can't keep them healthy, happy, or free from life's pain and problems. Although I cannot do everything, that does not keep me from doing what I can. At the same time because there is a limit to what I can control, there must also be a limit to the responsibility and anxiety I bear.

In Genesis 32:22-32 we find a man trying to control the outcome of his life and family. He does everything he can, but at some point he must learn to trust God. God wrestled with Jacob to get him to surrender control of his life. Jacob put up a good fight like we all do, but with a limp as a reminder, Jacob came away from his bad week with a greater faith and a freer heart and mind. He was able to live out of control under God's control.

I do not know what you are dealing with this week. If your week is good, praise God. If it is bad, praise God. God is always God and we can simiply believe God and live out of control under His control.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Begin Again

Well... my laptop died in Atlanta. No big deal except it had my 5 page manuscript for Sunday's message on it and being in Atlanta I had not backed it up on the server. What does that mean? Tomorrow morning, when I get to a working computer at the office, I will begin again to write Sunday's message. At least I know what I want to say and can remember most of it.

That's a good thing about mistakes, tragedy, and life challenges that don't kill you. You can begin again, but with some idea of what to do better this time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Feeling Wise

Proverbs 13:20 "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

I was in the presence of some wisdom yesterday, as I visited with one of our senior saints that is sick in the hospital. In the midst of our conversation I received some insight for life. Here are two of the gems I walked away with.

"Teach your children and remind yourself of the ABCs. You A-Attitude and B-Behavior will always determine your C-Controllable Consequences." That is rich.

The second was a story. She had documentation that did not need to be seen so instead of using white more transparent trash bags, she opted for the black heavy duty kind. Her strategy was to hide her trash. It was a privacy issue. She wanted to get her trash out of her life and have someone take it away without other people seeing it. As she carried these black bags to the curb, it dawned on her that this is what she seeks to do with her life. She wants to take her trash - her sin - and turn it over to Jesus and have it taken away without the fear of reprisals from others.

There is certainly a place for confessing our sins to our siblings in Christ. James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." But we do not have to be a public spectacle. Jesus was that for us so we can be free from the trash of life.

Anyway, I got that from one hospital visit and feel wiser for it.