Sunday, August 23, 2015

It Has Been an Honor

There are various ceremonies and celebrations that are related to honor. We watch and listen as people describe the privilege of serving or being served by those most often in attendance. The words are carefully chosen and spoken with a distinct level of passion so as to leave every ear tingling with a sense of appreciation.  While I am sure my words will not be comparable to those who speak with such eloquence, I pray they will leave the same indelible impression. Eleven years ago the Bewley family entered Bristol for the very first time to fulfill a speaking engagement which we thought would be a two service adventure. However, we like many others overlooked the wise words of Solomon who stated, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Little did we know the path God had chosen for us. It is one that has taken us into the lives of some of the most incredible people on the face of the earth. Grace Point your love has made our journey easy. We have received more than we have given. You have allowed us to witness incredible faith, contagious worship, and fervent prayer. You have granted us the privilege of dedicating your babies, marrying your children, and blessing those who have preceded us in death. You have treated us as friends and loved us as family. To you we would like to say, it has been an unforgettable honor to serve as your pastor. Our lives will never be the same for having served you and known you. We love you and want you to know “It has been an honor!”

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Unappreciated Dance

It was one of the most glorious days in Israel’s history. After years of absence the Ark of God was being returned home. This initiative began by a King who had a heart for God and believed the Ark should be restored to its rightful place. Thus, David upon taking the throne made it a top priority. With everything in place He and his men made the trip to Obededom’s house and began the journey home. Every six paces travelled resulted in a dance, a sacrifice, shouting and the blowing of the trumpet. Why all the celebration? It was not by requirement but because David felt God deserved it. This king left nothing in reserve.  He parted with his royal vestments girded himself with a linen ephod and danced before the Lord with all his might. The people loved it. They saw the King’s actions as a statement of humility. However, not everyone was pleased. Watching from a distance were the eyes of one that judged his actions with great disapproval. The one observing was none other than Michal the queen.  In her opinion the king’s actions created embarrassment and she could not wait to share her critique.  Upon his arrival home, she meets him and begins her verbal assault. “How glorious you were today uncovering yourself in front of the handmaids and servants.” The point was well understood.  The King had not acted kingly. However, David refused to allow her to deter his worship. To his enemy this was an unappreciated dance.  In your pursuit of God you might find yourself being faced with similar words of opposition. If so I encourage you to remember two things: who you are worshipping and why. Our dance is the music God loves and its purpose is to escort glory. Although unappreciated by some heaven’s audience will applaud. That being said dance with all your might!  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Encountering the Glory

In John chapter 11 there is a remarkable story. Jesus has been summoned by Mary and Martha to come and visit Lazarus who is terminally ill. But he decides to take his time getting there. It is a decision that results in death because His beloved friend dies.  Upon arrival Martha approaches him and shares her disappointment.  If He had only been there this catastrophe could have been avoided. Then Jesus gives an awkward response. “This has happened for a reason and if you will believe you will see the glory of God.” I’m not sure she understood or greater still if she had ever experienced glory.  She’s not alone is this respect. It took almost 22 years of ministry for me to arrive at this portal. I had encountered God’s presence continually but not His glory. And then in 1997 it happened. What an awesome experience! The same manifest presence that carried Lazarus from the tomb carried me out of the grave of discouragement and despair. Now some 18 years later I find myself once again surrounded by the same cloud. Words cannot express my appreciation for God’s kiss.  But the truth of the matter is He is no respecter of persons.  The timeless admonition given to Mary and Martha is one issued to all—“if you believe you will see the glory of God.”  To all who read this blog and especially Grace Point Church, the heavens are open; God’s glory is available and attainable.  Go after it with all that is within you!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Making Plans

I read the story recently about Joe who was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sick father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune. One evening at an investment seminar he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years, my father will pass, and I’ll inherit his large fortune.” Impressed, the woman took his business card and three months later, she became Joe’s stepmother. Oh how the poet’s words “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” are ever so true. Life is about interruptions and status changes. That’s why James by inspiration wrote “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” This means the Father sets our daily agenda. We can never know for sure what He has in mind which confirms the wisdom of the humorist who remarked "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."  He is the creator of revisions and detours but the one thing I have learned is you can trust Him. So chill out, lean back, and enjoy the ride. Make plans but realize you will always be living a plan--less life.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Generational Gap

Have you ever found yourself being faced with what’s called the “Generation Gap?” It’s a given if you are the parents or grandparents of older children. Just recently Addison our granddaughter came for a visit. During all of her previous trips clothing was not an issue; however this time was different.  When Sunday came she appeared dressed for church in what we old folks would call questionable attire. Her grandmother immediately said “Addi honey, those shorts are not appropriate for church.”  Of course this was not an issue to a twelve year old getting ready to become a teenager. She then informed us that her dress clothes had not been packed. After some deliberation and searching, her grandmother found some black pajama bottoms that were suitable. On the way to church our little girl was unhappy. She was quiet and preoccupied which is unusual for her. Although the clothes looked fine to me I knew the thoughts running through her mind. “I can’t go to class like this. All the kids will know I’m dressed in pajamas; how embarrassing.” So, upon arrival I told her to stay in the car that we were going shopping.  We rushed to the K-Mart down the street and went in. I told her to go pick out something. She replied, “I can’t. I never go shopping. Mom always goes for me.”  That’s okay simple enough, so I asked what size she wore. She responded, “I don’t know.” Now I’m stressing because I certainly did not know and time was of the essence. Needless to say I felt helpless and frustrated. Finally with the intervention of a Good Samaritan cashier we were able to accomplish the task. The end result—she looked great and was very happy. Years down the road when much older she will remember that day. What will she reflect upon? Hopefully her thoughts will turn to a grandfather who faced a Generational Gap crisis, but in that moment took the time to care and relieve the worries of a little girl who felt temporarily embarrassed and humiliated while wearing pajamas.  God our father is forever closing the “Gap” on our behalf letting us know He cares. That’s what makes visiting with Him such a wonderful experience.    

Sunday, July 19, 2015

How Do People Identify You?

Just recently I was privy to an amusing conversation between my two oldest granddaughters. They were discussing the number of houses that had been built in their subdivision recently.  A definite point of contention arose between the two of them as they were counting. The oldest declared there were thirteen, the youngest countered with fourteen.   What created the amusement was the way in which Addison described her neighbors while counting.  She said to her sister, “You don’t even know all the people who live in the neighborhood.”  As she went around the circle she began to identify them.  “The people who never come out of their house live here; the weird people live there; the nice people on the corner; our friends live at this location, and the mean people live in the house up the street.”  The saga continued until she had named everyone while at the same time winning the argument. Indeed there were fourteen houses. While laughing I began to reflect upon the dialogue asking the question, “Wonder how people identify us?”  This brought to my mind one of the teachings of Jesus.  He used a similar tactic by stating, “You will know them by their fruits.”  Some will have the semblance of rotten apples, others wild grapes, while a few will carry the aroma of a melon patch. However, in essence the best identification can be found in Paul’s writings to the Galatians.  Each should be indelibly branded with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith.  Such marks will allow us to be pleasantly remembered as friends and neighbors of high regard. So, let me ask again “How do people identify you?”

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Cloak of Conviction

A young police officer was taking his final exam for the police academy and was given the following problem to solve. “You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street. On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby. Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured. You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is at present away in the USA. A passing motorist stops to offer assistance and you realize that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery. Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent. Another man is crying for help, having been blown into the adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim. Describe in a few words what actions you would take.” The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote, “I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.” Are we the church guilty of taking off the cloak of our convictions and mingling in the crowd? Over the last few months radical decisions have been made that has altered the face of our nation.  However, those making the decisions did not rise to positions of power by themselves. They had to have help.  When you calculate the numbers, there are enough Christians in America to amend any decision that stands in opposition to their faith. Through the power of prayer and our vote we can make a difference. It’s sad to say but it appears as if too many have removed the cloak of conviction and are merely mingling in the crowd.