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Showing posts from 2014

Look Then See

Two friends expressed their views on traveling through West Texas.  After coming home from recent trips, they both described their time in West Texas quite differently.  The first friend thought the drive was pretty boring – nothing to see or to do on the road in that part of the state.  He found the sole purpose of the drive to be getting through as quick as you can, to arrive where you really want to be.

The second friend saw her drive quite differently, noting the jackrabbits and armadillos, mesas, cactus and canyons, dry riverbeds and underground caverns, to name a few treasures along the way.  This friend saw West Texas as a place where one can think, hear God’s voice, and there’s enough room to stretch out and not worry so much about what you’re wearing or driving.
These reports on West Texas reminded me that God has created hidden treasures for His people to find and experience.  Just like these hidden splendors of West Texas, there are precious jewels of wisdom waiting to be sou…

GOD MADE YOU

Most of us don't like something about ourselves—usually something we had nothing to do with or can do nothing about. Such as: "Why can't I be taller, skinnier, better-looking? Why couldn't I have been born rich? Why couldn't I have been born in another place, or another time? Why couldn't I have a more pleasant singing voice or a better jump shot?" 

You might be dissatisfied with the raw material you were given to work with, but the Bible says that God made you just as you are, and he specifically had you in mind at the time.
Here's how David expressed it. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!” (Psalm 139:13-17)
Abr…

EMPTY CALORIES

As I get older and my metabolism slows, I am starting to pay the price for not paying attention to what is known as “empty calories.”  Empty calories are foods that offer little to no nutritional value.  While I try to make arguments about the dairy found in ice cream or the protein found in the nuts of a bag of M&M’s, for the most part those foods offer nothing of nutritional value for the healthy maintenance of my body (although, I must say, at times, I do think they help my mental state! LOL!).  

Empty calories leave us feeling full, but eventually they turn to fat and can lead to our depriving ourselves of the minerals we truly need.  At times, we must admit we are guilty of this even in our spiritual lives.  We go through the motions, skim off the top of a sermon, pray only when we need something, or simply sit and wait to be fed instead of seeking truth, digesting sermons and small group interaction, and spending quiet times with God in order to listen and grow in a healthy w…

KNOWLEDGEABLE ZEAL

John 3:16 is one of the most famous of all Bible verses.  It owes its recognition partly to a fanatic sports fan that spent over a decade holding huge John 3:16 posters at hundreds of sporting events.  Due to the crazy colored wig and colorful personality, he was called the “Rainbow Man”.  His mission was simple.  He wanted to reach the masses with the saving message of Jesus Christ.  He was the most famous sports fan through the 80’s, even appearing on Saturday Night Live.  The question, however, is did he send the right message?

On September 22, 1992 the Rainbow Man’s sports days came to an end when he held a maid hostage in a hotel room in LA.  When asked why he held the woman hostage his answer was simple.  He wanted camera time to share his message of Jesus Christ on the national news.  His act landed him in jail convicted with three counts of hostage taking—each one of those counts carried a life sentence as the consequence for his actions. 
Christian passion and zeal is an amazi…

READY SET SHOP

The day after Thanksgiving —also known as Black Friday— marks the official start to another Christmas shopping season. Many a valiant soul will venture out to local malls, fighting the crowds to find good deals as they work through their Christmas shopping lists. In fact this year many retailers have jumped the gun and are advertising their Black Friday is already in progress. There is a lot of competition for the money in our pockets.

Some time ago, I read a newspaper article that referred to the opening of a new mall with this statement: “… a pastor was so moved by the retail magnificence around, that he quoted Scripture, ‘Jesus said, I came that you may have life and have that life abundantly… and what do you suppose abundance means? All of this, of course!’”
That’s a troubling notion that somehow our material prosperity is directly related to our relationship with Jesus. Does the abundant life really mean that Jesus came to help us shop ‘til we drop? I don’t think so! Try telling th…

LEARN AS YOU GO

A recent home project that I thought would be rather simple turned out to be an education in “trial and error” — a phrase used countless times — and it suddenly occurred to me what the second half of that equation actually means. It means that in the learning process there will be errors: mistakes, mishaps, shortfalls, unmet projections, and disappointing outcomes.

You might be thinking, "Duh"; I guess the statement really is obvious. But it occurred to me that I have a tendency to want to learn by trial and success.  I want things to work the first time I try so that I can be done with it and move on.
Think about it: How much more productive you could be if everything worked as planned. How much more efficient your life would be if nothing ever backfired. However, this is not how God set it up. His plan is that you learn through a process that isn't always easy and is rarely painless. But the results are always worth it.
David wrote, "My troubles turned out all for th…

IT MAY BE ME

A concerned husband goes to see the family doctor: "I think my wife has a hearing problem. I often have to repeat things again and again before she hears me."

"Well," the doctor replies, "When you go home tonight, stand about 15 feet from her and say something. If she doesn't reply, move about five feet closer and say it again. Keep doing this so we can get an idea of the severity of her problem." So the husband goes home and does exactly as instructed. He stands about 15 feet from his wife, who is standing in the kitchen, chopping some vegetables.
"Honey, what's for dinner?" He gets no response, so he moves about five feet closer and asks again. "Honey, what's for dinner?" No reply. He moves five feet closer, and still no reply. He gets fed up and moves right behind her, about an inch away, and asks one final time, "Honey, what's for dinner?"She says, "For the fourth time, vegetable stew!"
A running jo…

SOMEBODY to SERVE

I came across this story and would like to share it with you.

Ever feel like a frog? Frogs feel slow, low, ugly, puffed, drooped, and pooped. I know. One told me. The frog feeling comes when you want to be bright but feel dumb, when you want to share but are selfish, when you want to be thankful but feel resentment, when you want to be great but are small, when you want to care but are indifferent.
Yes, at one time or another each of us has found himself on a lily pad floating down the great river of life. Frightened and disgusted, we are too froggish to budge. Once upon a time there was a frog. But he really wasn't a frog. He was a prince who looked and felt like a frog. A wicked witch had cast a spell on him. Only the kiss of a beautiful maiden could save him. But since when do cute chicks kiss frogs? So there he sat, an unkissed prince in frog form. But miracles happen. One day a beautiful maiden grabbed him up and gave him a big smack. Crash! Boom! Zap! There he was, a handsome …

NEW (worthy words 2007)

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”—Luke 18:16-17

It was just a few weeks back. I was driving to my Mom’s house for Sunday lunch. My great-nephew, Joel, hitched a ride and was sitting in the back seat of my truck. We carried on conversation about what he learned in G-Force and other assorted preschooler ramblings when all at once with no particular context he busted out with, “Uncle Eddie, today is the best day ever!” I thought to myself, he was really inspired by my message today. (Hah! Hah!) I responded, “Really, why do you say that?” He said, “I don’t know. I just know it’s going to be the best day ever.” 
Looking at him in the rear view mirror with his boyish grin, blonde hair, and blue eyes I was awakened to something that lay dormant in me since my own kids were t…

BIBLE NAMES

There are 30 books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much, he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or a scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in ou…

FUEL FOR CHRIST-FOLLOWING

In the movieCity Slickers, Curly (Jack Palance) tells Mitch (Billy Crystal) that the secret of happiness is found in one thing. Mitch asks, "What's the one thing?" Curly says, "You have to find that out for yourself." 

Paul defined the one thing for himself: "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
His "one thing" was winning the prize — the prize of knowing and being known by Jesus. This goal was the driving force behind all that he did.
A subtle, but crucial, distinction is this. Paul wasn't driven by the idea of success in ministry, of building growing congregations, of reaching unchurched people with the gospel. He did these things — and he did them well — but he was driven first by the desire to know Jesus. His devotional life, not his ambition, fueled his ministry. 
Here…

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

Ben Stein once said, "The first step to getting the things you want out of life is to ”Decide what you want." This sounds obvious, but the fact of the matter is that many folks can't articulate what they want, beyond some vague desire to "be happy." 

When we invest time thinking about what we really want, we learn some things. First, we learn that we don't really want what we think we want — at least not enough to do something about it. We don't want to be healthy enough to give up unhealthy food; we don't want a good family life enough to give up drinking; we don't want to change the world enough to sacrifice a little money. We also learn that many of our wants are in conflict with one another. We want financial peace but we also want to spend ourselves silly according to our whims; we want to be leaders but we also want to be the most popular; we want to be spiritual but we also want to hold on to our favorite sins.
David wrote, "Take deligh…

KEEP IT REAL

Have you ever heard the statement that once you decide to follow Jesus, your life makes this dramatic turn for the better, a turn that includes being “blessed” and having everything “work out” for you. Now don’t get me wrong, I think following Jesus is the very best way to live your life, the way we were created by God to live. I just struggle with this image of being a Christian that tells people that once they “come to Jesus” everything just seems to “work,” everything just gets better and better. Where did we get these notions about God?

This is not the truth that the Bible presents. The truth is the Bible is filled with people who chose to follow God, only to see their lives not get better, but in fact get worse. The truth is the Bible is filled with people who cried out to God from the depths of their soul, “Where are you, God?” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out by day, but you do n…

HIS CHALLENGE

The Social Media sites have gone viral with the recent Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) “Ice Bucket Challenge.”It has at the least put ALS on the map for awareness to this disease and raised in excess of $100 million for research.I received an ALS challenge and was reluctant at first but considering the sources of the challenge — a Christian Brother, Chris, and my wife, Dawn (whose uncle died of ALS) — I put myself under the ice cold bucket and accepted the challenge.

I’ve heard it said, "I would rather attempt something great and fail than attempt nothing and succeed." What challenge is God placing in your heart? Don't sit back and wait for someone else to make a difference when you can be that person. The world doesn't need more armchair quarterbacks; the world needs people like you to get in the arena and give it everything you can! 
President Theodore Roosevelt once said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled o…

RE-ESTABLISH JOY

Why do you involve yourself with sin? Hasn’t it cost you enough already? You’ve been burned by it before, so why do you still play with fire?What are you thinking when you find yourself again in the grip of its deadly jaws—does that make you want to take a second shot at it? Have you not had enough of that old sneaky-snake? Hasn’t he stabbed his poisonous fangs into you one too many times already? What kind of thrill is there in jumping into the snake pit?Don’t get mad at me for bringing up your sinfulness!It’s foolish to think of it as fun! Did sin ever produce real lasting pleasure? Have you found lasting satisfaction in it? If so, go back to your old ways, and wear that ball and chain again, if it makes you happy.

In as much as sin has never given you what it promised to deliver—only to deceive you with lies—don’t seek a second chance at being snared by the crafty Deceiver. Because, you doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is Albert Einstein’s de…

STARVED SILENCE

We live in a world filled with noise. It seems like everywhere we turn, it is increasingly more difficult to find places of silence and solitude in our lives. From, Television, Cellphones, iPads, Xboxes, Pandora Radios, and Social Media it seems as if we are addicted to noise... and afraid of the silence.

Think about this. Why is it that we fill our lives with chatter? Why is it that we are afraid of silence? And more importantly, is there a connection between a lack of hearing God’s voice and the deficiency of silence in our lives? Be still, and know that I am God.—Psalm 46:10 Often, noise is our drug of choice. We self-medicate ourselves with noise because we are afraid of silence. Silence has a way of stripping us bare of all pretenses, forcing us to take a good long look in the mirror of our soul. For some of us, this is just too painful, just too raw for us to face. So we surround ourselves with racket, thinking that the longer we can drown out the voices, perhaps they might go awa…

MALWARE

A friend’s computer died.  They brought it to me to fix and said, “One moment it was on and working fine, and the next moment nothing.”  For no apparent reason it would restart without warning. It seems that some sort of “Malware” (malicious software) had taken over and was holding it hostage and preventing any use of the PC’s capabilities. This cyber predator attached itself to the chips of this computer, leaving it utterly useless.

After reformatting the hard drive and re-installing all the software, the computer was finally fixed. The Bible says sin is crouching at the door.  Throughout the Bible sin is not an inanimate object. It is personified and active.  Sin seeks us out and waits for us to make a wrong move or decision.  It is not God who sends temptation, it is the evil in this world that waits and pounces when given the chance. “When tempted no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when, by …

LAMENTING FAITH

A person going through some difficult situations made this comment to me, “I just need God listen to me. I need to know that God hears what I’m saying. Is that too much to ask for?”

Maybe you’ve found yourself in the same situation. You’ve found yourself in a place where you are crying out to God, and the whole time you’re questioning— is He even listening? Perhaps you’ve found yourself at this stage of your life where you are looking around and asking, “God, if you’re who you claim to be, then why is (fill in the blank) happening?”

If you have been there — even at this moment— you’re in good company. The Bible is filled with folks who were fought with these exact questions. In it you will encounter people who, having tremendous doubt, cried out to God, “Where are you?” The Word of God uses a term for these kinds of moments. It’s called “lament.” Lamenting is having a deep cry in your soul. It is an emotion that ensues in the face of your present struggles—you remember the past goodness …

Generously Bless

God of the Bible makes an astounding statement to His called out one, Abraham. He tells him, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).  With these words, God lays upon Abraham a blessing — but also a responsibility.

It’s unfortunate we’ve been trained to see the word “blessing” and automatically think of it as being directed toward our personal wellbeing. God “blesses”— we receive the “blessing.” Looking closer at what God says to Abraham, it quickly becomes apparent. “Blessings” are always something to be given away. You have not been blessed in order to enjoy them for yourself. It’s not like taking and hoarding the last piece of birthday cake long after the party is over. No, the fact of the matter is you have been blessed in order to be a blessing. It is important to …

STRAINING FORWARD

Have you ever experienced a personal failure? I had one when I was in middle school.I look back at it and I’m reminded of the lack of performance and effort I gave at the age of twelve for my football team at Zundy Junior High in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was a team of champions who won the city title that year in 1966. But not me! During a regular season game I let the coach, the players and myself down because, as a 4th string player, I refused to go into the game when called on. I was scared because I didn’t know the plays. I didn’t prepare myself. After all I was way down on the list and the bench warmer never gets in the game—right?

Folks, this was 48 years ago, and it still hurts to think about it. If I could somehow reassemble that group for a second shot at it, even today, I would jump at the chance. This is almost funny, because today there are certainly other things more worthy of my attention. We all made mistakes we're tempted to revisit. Most of us have a quiver full of…

ADD AGAPE

The seventh virtue to add is finally before us as we conclude this study of the seven characteristics of a godly life outlined in 2 Peter. “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

This word is special not because it was the last virtue Peter shared but because it is the key to making all the other virtues meaningful. Sacrificial love is to be our hallmark expression of Christ living in and through us. We are not instructed to like everyone, we are told to love everyone. This is not the Philadelphia kind of love talked about last week, no; this is the kind of love Jesus Christ our Lord displayed when he went to the cross. This word used by Peter in verse 7 is “agape” love. When we demonstrate brotherly love w…

ADD PHILADELPHIA

Now at week six, we continue the discovery of the seven characteristics of a godly life outlined in 2 Peter. “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

The word this week is “brotherly affection or brotherly kindness”(the Greek word for this English phrase is “Philadelphia”— the name of a city in the state of Pennsylvania). I’m inclined to think that Peter learned this character trait the hard way. There is ample evidence that the disciples of Jesus Christ were frequently in disagreement with one another and debated each other heavily (see: Acts 15; Galatians 2). But he grew in grace and matured. Peter did learn to love his brothers in the faith. “Love each other deeply with all your heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)
We a…

ADD GODLINESS

At week five we continue uncovering seven characteristics of a godly life outlined in 2 Peter. “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

The word this week is “godliness”. A word we tend to avoid because it means “God-likeness” and we think, “Not me!” In the Greek wording it meant “to worship well” by describing a person who was right in their relationship with God and with his fellowman. Maybe the word “reverence” would come closer to describing this term. It is a character quality that makes a person distinctive. Even at that we say, “Not Me! There’s nothing that stands out in my life.” Well, you should be able to say as a Christ-follower that you are special and you do stand out from the crowd. You should …

ADD PATIENCE

Here at week four we continue exploring seven characteristics of a godly life outlined in 2 Peter. “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

The fourth quality is patience. This is the ability to endure. Last week’s self-control had to do with dealing with the pleasures of life, patience relates primarily to the pressures and problem of life. In a specific way this is the ability to endure problematic people. Paul describes it in Galatians 5 as “long-suffering.” More times than not the person who gives in to the pleasures of life is not disciplined enough to handle the pressures of life either and simply gives up. Patience does not develop automatically. You have to work at it, just like James instructs in cha…

ADD SELF-CONTROL

This is week three as we are exploring seven characteristics of a godly life as outlined in 2 Peter. “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

The third virtue is self-control or the KJV’s use of the word “Temperance” denotes personal restraint. In the root of that word is “temper.” Used as a noun it would jive with the phrase “control your temper” which is contextually correct. But even more meaning is derived from the root of the word used as a verb “to increase toughness.” This is done with metal and with glass when each is heated to a specific temperature then cooled at varying rates which result in increasing the toughness of the metal or glass making them more useful in adverse and stress-induced situat…

ADD KNOWLEDGE

Last week we began exploring seven characteristics of a godly life as outlined by Peter in the first chapter of his second letter by adding to our faith moral excellence. “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Knowledge is now introduced as another element in our growth as Christ-followers. The literal meaning of the word suggests a knowledge that is a process of growing in practical knowledge or discernment. When you are putting your knowledge into practice you will develop the ability to handle life successfully. In fact, it is the opposite of the notion of being “so heavenly minded as to be of no earthly good!” It is what Paul recommends when he says in Ephesians 5:17; “Don't act thoughtlessly, but…

ADD EXCELLENCE

The characteristics of a godly life are sevenfold and Peter list them as being goodness, knowledge, self-control perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). We are to add these qualities to our faith. A Christ-follower develops one quality while exercising another quality by providing more than is barely demanded in the process of spiritually growing through living out a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not enough Christ-follower to “let go and let God,” but it is essential to put forth the effort to work in concert with your heavenly Father in the development of these qualities.

The first quality listed by Peter is “virtue” (NKJV) or some translations use the word goodness (NIV), or excellence more specifically (NLT) “moral excellence.” When you were in school and submitted a mid-term paper for a grade and it was returned marked not only “A+” but in red ink the word “Excellent” was inscribed next to it, the instructor’s additional note meant that t…

FAITH STANDING ON PROMISES

Faith involves God’s promises. “He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)

The Lord has given you all that you need for life and godliness, but he has also given you his Word to empower you in maturing your life in godliness. These promises are great because they come from a great God and they lead to a great life. They are precious because their value is beyond comprehension. Where would you be without the Word of God? Isn’t it time you begin taking your stand on his promises for your life?

Standing on thepromises of Christ my King, through eternal ages let His praises ring, glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God. Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.  Standing on the prom…