Sunday, December 19, 2010

God Became Flesh

One of my favorite things to do during this time of year is to read the biblical accounts that tell about God's invasion into earth. While Matthew and Luke do a splendid job relating the story, I especially like how Paul depicts it. In Philippians 2:7 he says that "Jesus made of himself no reputation but took upon himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men."
That means he took on flesh. He came in the form of something that could be seen by the human eye as well as touched by the human hand. Why did he do it, because that's what we needed. I’m reminded of the story of a small boy's voice that penetrated a thunderstorm one night. It came from the bedroom across the hall. "Daddy, I'm scared!" Out of his groggy, fuzzy sleep, he responded with, "Honey, don't be afraid, Daddy's right across the hall." After a very brief pause the little voice is heard again, "I'm still scared." Always quick with a spiritual insight he responds, "You don't need to be afraid. God is with you. God loves you." This time the pause is longer...but the voice returns, "I don't care about God, Daddy; I want someone with skin on!" Could it not be said that the logic used by the little child is precisely the reason for the Incarnation? After thousands of years of being unsuccessful in trying to convince his people he really loved them, our Creator realized that the best way to do it was to send "someone with skin on." What a way to demonstate love. What a way to calm our fear. What an amazing Christmas gift!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Breaking The Silence

A tourist was staying overnight in a little Vermont town. He joined a small group of men sitting on the porch of the general store and attempted to strike up a conversation. Getting no response, he asked, "Is there a law against talking in this town?" "Nope," replied one seasoned old Vermonter. "Ain't no law against it. We just like to make sure it's an improvement over silence." When God broke the silence as he was preparing for the coming of his Son, it was because the eternal was about to descend to the earth to reveal the gospel of salvation. It was impossible to even imagine the beauty of what God was preparing. But it was worth speaking about. Just think after 400 years of silence Luke broke through to proclaim a message of peace, hope and joy. It was a message that brought a spirit of rejoicing then and continues now, especially during this time of the year. Enjoy the season. Allow it to speak to your heart those words that always result in a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Importance of Little Things

You and I are too impressed with size. We think the big things are important while the little things are of no significance. But God doesn't measure life the way we do. The big things don't always impress him. The prophet Zechariah asked an interesting question: "For who has despised the day of small things?" This means we had better be careful not to despise that which appears small. Just think we are getting ready to celebrate Christmas. That celebration was made possible because God chose to come to a small town, to a small stable, in the form of a small child. Everything about the event spoke of insignificance as far as the world was concerned. But to those who believe, it was the greatest event to have ever transpired. This little baby would eventually change the world. Again, God is not impressed with the big stuff. When He wants to bring about change He often uses something small. Maybe that's why He said if we give a cup of cold water in His name we would not lose our reward. As we approach this Christmas season let me encourage you to appreciate the large gifts, but don't forget the small. You will never know what changes might transpire through sharing a friendly embrace, a card, a good deed, or merely saying the words "I love you." These expressions of appreciation are the tokens that impress others, but most importantly-God!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


We have just celebrated Thanksgiving and what a wonderful time of the year it is. On this occasion we normally stop to count our blessings. I read where a group of houswives got together and compiled a list of things they were thankful for. The list read like this, we're thankful for:
*Automatic dishwashers because they make it possible for us to get out of the kitchen before the family comes back in for their afternoon snacks.
*Husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house because they usually make them big enough to call in the professionals.
*Children who put away their things & clean up after themselves, they’re such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents.
*Teenagers because they give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.
*Smoke alarms because they let you know when the turkey’s done.
While this is a humorous response, there are many things we could mention that create a spirit of gratitude. For instance with all the sin, stress, and loneliness in the world I am thankful for the mercy and forgiveness of God, for my health and sanity, and for my family and friends. These things foster within me a spirit of thanksgiving. What about you? I'm sure you could generate your own list that would far exceed mine. However, the important thing is not who has the longest or the best list. No, what matters most is that we have a list that we cite often so that our lives are never void of the spirit thanksgiving nor our lips a word of thanks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Power of Unity

Some years ago in North Carolina there was a story about two female musicians who performed together. One was black and the other, white. They called their duo Ebony and Ivory. Both of the women only had one hand. One had lost her left hand in an accident. The other had lost her right hand. Neither knew of the other, but both were brokenhearted after the tragedy they had individually faced because they would never play the piano again. But a third woman heard of their plight and put them in contact with each other. When the two one-handed pianists came together, they found that each could supplement the other. Together they could again play their beloved piano. When the black hand and the white hand were skillfully coordinated with each other, the maimed musicians could coax beautiful sounds from the instrument. God calls us together in our brokenness and with our differences because He has given us to each other. Each supplements what is missing in the other. Together and only together with our differences are we whole and ready to serve, and compliment each other--and that's the power of unity.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting What We Ask For

In Matthew's gospel there is a verse given that is quite refreshing. It goes like this, "Ask and it shall be given you." I don't know about you but I think that's some kind of promise. While it builds my faith it also creates questions for me. I can't help but ask, "do we always receive what we ask for?" The reason I even dare to question such a thing is because there have been times when in my asking for something it appeared that God did not hear or He gave me right the opposite of what I wanted. This could be disconcerting but the following words help me to keep things in perspective. I hope they do the same for you.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for;
In spite of myself, my prayers were answered -
I am among all men most richly blest.
God in His infinite wisdom does answer. The thing I must remember is to the take what he gives me. Although it may not look like what I asked for, it will be exactly what I need.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What is the problem?

For more than twenty years Professor Edwin R. Keedy of the University of Pennsylvania Law School used to start his first class by putting two figures on the blackboard 4 2. Then he would ask "What's the solution?" One student would call out "six." Another would say "two." Then several would shout out "eight!" But the teacher would shake his head in the negative. Then Keedy would point out their collective error. All of you failed to ask the key question: "What is the problem?" Gentlemen, unless you know what the problem is, you cannot possibly find the answer." This teacher knew that in law as in everyday life too much time is spent trying to solve the wrong problem. Could this have been the case with the miracle performed in John 6? Here we find thousands of hungry people. Jesus wants to feed them so He asks Phillip where they can buy bread so that the multitude can be fed. In mere pessimism this disciple responds by saying, "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little." The verse prior says that Jesus "said this to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do." Jesus had the answer but he wanted Phillip and the other disciples to discover the problem. Simply stated they suffered from poor eye sight. They had the inability to see the vision Jesus had in this situation. What they saw was an impossibility; Jesus saw an opportunity. The issue was not the hungry multitude but rather their lack of vision. Could this be our story. Is it possible that Jesus has the answer for our needs, but is desperately trying to get us to see the problem? He sees big things in store for our lives. However, the question is "what do you see?"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Pool

Let me begin by asking the question "what is your biggest problem at present and how is it hindering your life?" In John chapter 5 we are introduced to a man that has been sick for 38 years. When Jesus sees him and asks if he wants to get well, he responds by focusing upon his biggest problem. He says, "when the water is troubled I have no one to put me into the pool." Jesus was offering this man an opportunity to be healed but he was preoccupied by the pool. He like many was focused upon the wrong thing. Too often our problems become our pool, which limits our lives. The problem becomes the focus of our lives. It becomes our pet and each time we are challenged to move beyond it we grab it and say "you see I have this problem." It is easy to blame our problems for where we are in life. According to the Bureau of Standards in Washington a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into about 60 billion tiny droplets. Yet when those minute particles settle over a city or a countryside they can almost blot out everything from your sight. Many Christians today live their lives in a fog. They allow a cupful of troubles to cloud their vision and dampen their spirit. Anxiety, turmoil, and defeat strangle their thoughts and limit their potential. Jesus offered the paralytic the opportunity to move beyond his pool. He took the deal and received physical and mental healing. Jesus offers us the same; the ability to move away from our problems and into the realm of promise. I'm ready, aren't' you?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Attaining Maturity

My wife and I just returned from spending a week with our daughter and grandchildren. Needless to say we were very busy. A part of my responsibilities for the week among many was escorting the kids to school. It had been a long time since I had run the family taxi. Immediately the realization came to me that I had become far removed from the everyday skirmishes that transpire among siblings. All the memories returned as I heard statements like, "I called the front seat first, move over" and "That's my shirt you're wearing." It all came back to me. These are the kind of things that cross the boundary lines of every generation. The reason being is immaturity. While we expect this out of children, we don't expect to hear it resonant from adults. But yet such things remain a part of our vocabulary. This is especially true in the church world. Is that not a major reason for much of the disunity in the body? We want to be first. We want position and we don't want anyone wearing our gift. Was this not the issue Paul was addressing in Ephesians 4 when he emphasized flexibility and versatility in the body? Through forbearance, meekness, and long suffering we are to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" and strive to become the "perfect man." This means that at some point maturity is to be attained. When this happens we find ourselves acquiescing to the point of yielding to others in prayer and preference that the body can be a proper display of Christ. While achievable, it may be easier said than done. May God help us all as we engage in the process!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Blessing

This week my wife and I are taking a few days of vacation. We are headed to Olive Branch, Mississippi to visit with our daughter and the grand babies. We are so excited because it has been several months since we have seen them. The mere fact that we get to visit will be a celebration within itself. However, added to this excitement will be the opportunity for us to participate in a wedding ceremony and to welcome into our family a new son-in-law. For me an occasion such as this provides the opportunity to speak words of blessing. In a world where curses are unleashed daily through the use of inappropriate words it is refreshing to change the atmosphere by speaking blessings. It is a well known fact that our words can light up a room or bring incredible darkness. They can produce hope or hopelessness as well as fear or faith. In light of this, it is so important that we be prepared to say the right things. So in my preparation I came across what is called the "Irish Wedding Blessing." I thought how great it will be to speak these words over my family. But even greater was the thought of what a privilege it would be for me to speak it over those who read this blog. Although it is intended for a specific audience, I close by offering this as a blessing to you and your family!
May God be with you and bless you
May you see your children's children,
May you be poor in misfortunes,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness,
From this day forward

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rising out of Difficulty

We often find ourselves in the midst of difficulty. How we respond makes all the difference in the world as to whether we sink or survive. I read a story a few years ago that put a new perspective on the subject for me and I thought you might enjoy it also. A farmer had a mule that was old. He decided not to shoot the mule but to put him in an old well and bury him alive. Every day or two he would come and dump stuff into the well. The old mule would just shake it off day by day and move up a little bit higher. The final day arrived and the farmer came along with a load of rocks and tires. He dumped it in. They fell on the mule and hurt the mule but he shook it off and stood on it and said "this well is not my limit." He stepped on the stuff jumped out of the well and ran across the pasture, stopped at a stream and drank some water. He looked up at the farmer and said, "you tried to bury me but you only gave me stepping stones to success." Our difficulty can be the grave that buries us or the platform that saves us. As troublesome as it may be, let my encourage you to shake yourself and rise above those things that would try to bury you and keep you from your destiny.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Curve in the Road

A few years ago some friends and I decided to go on a motorcycle ride. What should have been an enjoyable day turned out to be one of misery. The morning was spent riding in heavy rain. And if that wasn't bad enough later in the afternoon I failed to negotiate a curve, which resulted in my losing control and winding up in a field. There I lay with scratches, a hurt back hurt, but even more an injured pride. As I reflected upon my experience I thought about a statement I had heard, "A curve in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn." Needless to say I had failed to make the turn so I asked "how did this happen?" This led to several conclusions that I applied to my accident and eventually to my spiritual life. First, was the possibility of speed. Maybe I was going too fast to make the turn. Most of the accidents we face in our journey with God has to do with speed. We simply fail to slow down and hear what he is saying to us. Second, was the aspect of preoccupation. Was I so preoccupied with the things along the road that I failed to pay attention to the basic principle of safety; that is to stay on the road itself. This happens also in our walk with God. We become so engrossed in the blessings and manifestations that we lost sight of the main thing; God himself. The final possibility had to do with relaxation. Had I become so relaxed in my ride that I dozed for a brief second which led to my losing control. The threat of this is all too common in the spiritual realm. That's why we are admonished in scripture to be "alert" and "awake" at all times. It only takes a second to face disaster. Whatever the case, from that day on I determined in my mind that I would slow down, remain focused, and stay awake in order to negotiate the curves before me. What about you?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ministry to India

Presently I am in India with a ministry team. We have been here for seven days conducting crusades, conferences, and prison ministry. I have been unable to access the Internet until today. But I am happy to report that God has been gracious to us. We have seen hundreds touched by His power. This has transpired amidst a nation that is predominantly Hindu and Muslim. Christians represent less than 5% of the population. But in spite of this, God continues to show forth his power. I am so thankful that in the midst of darkness the light of Christ continues to shine through. Although the religious leaders are in a state of resistance, the people are hungry to hear the word and to see the work of God. They rush to the front to be prayed for. Tears fill their eyes and the look of desperation lets you know that their need far exceeds their ability. Looking at them reminds me of the passage where Hezekiah prayed and said, "Lord we can't handle this on our own, so our eyes are upon you." It is my prayer as they look in His direction, God will perform the miraculous by providing for their needs. I ask that your prayer be the same.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Power of a Touch

The gift of a touch is a powerful thing. I conducted the funeral today of a parishioner. One of the last conversations I had with him was about this very subject. Someone had told him that he had been touched by God and he wanted to know what that meant. With my limited ability in the area of interpretation I tried to give him an adequate explanation. I reflected upon the touches we read about in Scripture in order to choose the appropriate one that would fit his situation. I thought about the healing touch in Matthew 8:1-3. Since it was apparent that he was still battling his illness I knew this one did not fit. Going further I thought about the resurrection touch in Luke 7:12-15. Obviously death had not occurred so this one would not apply either. Next, I thought about the testing touch in Job 19:17-21. While this man would have been open to life’s test this one just didn’t seem applicable either. Then I thought about the disabling touch in Genesis 32:24-32. Would he have been up to a wrestling match? Although weak in body I suppose he would have tried. Last of all I considered the sustaining touch in Daniel 10:15-19. This seemed to be the one that made the most sense to me. God in all of our weaknesses shows up with His presence and sustains us so that we are able to endure whatever comes our way. Cecil, being so weak in body needed God’s sustaining touch. I said to him, “being touched of the Lord means that God’s presence has been given to you so that you can feel His nearness as you battle this sickness. God works in different ways. Sometimes He heals us. Other times He gives us His touch in the form of His presence so that we can know He is close by.” Indeed God was near as His sustaining touch became a transitioning touch into eternity. Which leads me to conclude by asking, “What does God’s touch mean to you?”

Monday, September 6, 2010

His Workmanship

My wife and I are in the process of refurbishing a second home we own. Needless to say it has been a challenge. The bathrooms and kitchen have been gutted and completely redone; the floors sanded and refinished. While there is work yet to be done the project is near completion. When comparing this to our spiritual lives I am reminded of Paul's words in Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." As we remodel the earthly, so does God the spiritual. The interesting thing is that both works contain similarities. I see three in particular that merit consideration. First, the project always cost more than you expect. We have spent far more than we intended on this house. The same holds true when God chooses to do a new work within us. We often find ourselves saying, "Lord are you sure this is what you want, the request seems incredibly expensive." Second, the project always takes longer than expected. We want it done yesterday, but reality sets in letting us know that the task is a process. So it is with God. He rarely finishes a work overnight. Normally, the job involves days, months, and even sometimes years to complete. Third, when finished you will always see things you wish you had done differently. If you were doing it over you might choose a different size room, color, or cabinet. The same can be said of God's work. After its all said and done we wish we had let God do more in us and through us. We realize the changes he wanted to make but did not force upon us would have resulted in our lives being much more attractive and worthwhile. Yet in spite of this, amidst all the disarray, inconvenience, and time consumption when we look back over what has been accomplished we realize the experience was worth it. Let me encourage you to always yield to God's hand allowing Him to fulfill his workmanship within you. Beleive me it will be worth it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It came to pass

This past weekend a friend and I took a trip to Johnstown Pennsyvania. While making this journey there were several times we gave into frustration because people would get in the passing lane and just meander along slowing down the traffic. Now when this happens you find yourself saying, "will they ever speed ahead and move into the appropraite lane so the rest of the traffic can pass through?" Sometimes we feel like this spiritually. There are times when the storms of life seem to linger and we find ourselves being bogged down in our journey. When this happens we start asking, "will I ever get through this?" Well, there is a phrase in Scripture that I find very consoling. It is "and it came to pass." We all like it when things pass. But sometimes they just don't pass by quickly enough. Normally when we experience this it results in a bad attitude. Paul expecting that we would have this happen admonished us to "Have the attitude of Christ." But how do you maintain that kind of attitude? One, you don't let the reality of the storm blot out the revelation of the Savior. You keep your eyes on Him. Second, you realize that storms don't last forever. Third, you focus on the fact that it is not what happens to you but in you that makes the difference. Every storm is intended to bring spiritual development within us. As with every traffic jam you don't force but you flow your way through. The same holds true in the spirutal realm. Flow with God and He will see that you pass through.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where's The Action?

I like the word action. It depicts aggressive movement and energy which is what I experienced as Nascar rolled into Bristol this past weekend. People came by the thousands to watch their favorite driver chase after the checkered flag. The cars were fast and furious; the crowd loud and boisterous. It was an experience to remember as a sole driver was able to achieve the feat of winning the triple crown. However, with any race the action can be seen from different viewpoints. One can sit high in the air or down low near the track. It just so happened that I was blessed to watch the race perched in a suite. While this offers the advantage of air conditioning and the absence of noise there is one disadvantage, you do not feel the intensity of the action. Because of this I always like to leave my coveted space with all the comforts and make my way down to the bottom of the stands near the track. Standing there I suddenly feel the wind from the car and the rubber from the tires whipping against my body. It is there that you realize the true speed and the danger of the sport. To be frank it's quite scary especially if you stand where the cars negotiate the steep turns. I always find myself saying, "wow this is intense." This seems to be the point Paul was trying to make in Ephesians 6:12 when he states "we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places." He was declaring that there is a serious battle transpiring in the upper stands. Many times we find comfort watching from ground level. But the closer we get to God and the more focused we are on heavenly things the more intense we will find the battle. It is only when we get near the competing forces that we sense the seriousness of our need and the sufficiency of God's grace. So if you find yourself saying "this is intense" just realize that you have moved to where the action is. And lest you forget, remember that although intense this is also where the checkered flag of victory is.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Light

I returned home this evening from a long day to a house filled with darkness. Our power is off. It's amazing how accustomed we become to the blessing of light. Little do we assess its importance until we find ourselves without it. Once you get accustomed to the brightness of hundred watt bulbs, the flicker of candle light just doesn't suffice. As I roam around the house walking is difficult, eating is an even bigger challenge and reading is just out of the question. "What do I do in this darkness?" It is at this point that I am struck with the truth that light is just as important to us spiritually. Wasn't this the point Jesus was trying to make when he stated, "I am the light of the world; whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Everything about us depends upon our being exposed to Jesus the light of life. Our walk, diet, and perception are all dependent upon it. With this in mind, suddenly I hear a sound, and witness a flash. Darkness is expelled and once again light fills our home. I can see. This experience leaves me with a greater appreciation for electricity but more importantly Jesus. I just wonder "has the light come on for you?"

Monday, August 9, 2010

Running The Race

I enjoy running. Although I do it most every day there are those times when I choose not to. It dawned on me recently that I can do this because my running is done out of convenience rather than necessity. When I am busy, tired, or just lazy I can say not today. However, when it comes to the spiritual race there is no such latitude. Paul in Hebrews 12:1 states "Since we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight that so easily besets us and run with patience the race that is set before us." When I think about this it is necessary that I keep running for three reasons. First, because of those who are ahead of me. I want to assure that great cloud of witnesses that their work has not been in vain. Secondly, I must run because of those who are behind me. They need a legacy to show them the right path to follow. Third, I must run because of those around me. They need my encouragement to stay in the race. So to run or not to run is not an option. I heard something recently that helped put it all in perspective. It goes like this--Every day in Africa the gazelle awakens to the fact that it must run faster than the fastest lion if it is to survive. And every morning the lion awakens to the fact that he must run faster than the gazelle if he is to keep living. So it doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle when morning comes you better be ready to run. That's the way it is with us. When morning comes we must run and run hard that we might finish the race. Our spiritual life and the life of others depend on it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Standing Together

I just returned from our General Assembly. For those of you who may not be familiar with this aspect of our church, it is a meeting that transpires biannually for the purpose of discussing our polity and doctrine. It involves credentialed ministers as well as laypersons. This gathering always provides a mixture of worship services and at times some lively debate. This one was no exception to the rule. There were several issues that resulted in a heated exchange from the floor. One could compare it to the event that took place in Acts 15. While the issues were different the overall emphasis was the same--in what measure do we allow those called by God to express their faith. I think there are three principles involved in the resolution in Acts and our Assembly that need consideration. First, when there is difference of opinion involving argumentation we can agree to disagree with mutual love and respect. Second, we reaffirm that while those who are called may not be given the desired place of ministry, they definitely have a place. Their worth to the church is in expendable. Third, and most importantly the unity of the body must be maintained at all cost. Unity can never be sacrificed for personal opinion or desire. Even though those opinions may be considered culturally, philosophically and theologically right. In the end when all is said and done the question is not "did I lose or win, but did we maintain unity in the body?" The old cliche "united we stand divided we fall" still holds true. I pray we endeavor to apply these principles in all given circles of the kingdom whether it be the family, the church or the denomination. We must stand together.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dealing With Failure

Regardless of our age, IQ, or social status failure is common to all. Since none of us are exempt how do we deal with it? If we look at the scripture we find that some try to hide it like Adam and Eve. Others deny it like Cain, while some fear it like the ten spies who returned from Canaan. Even more so some try to ignore it like Saul. But most of us are like David, we hate it. We do everything but accept it. We tend to look at failure as the ultimate defeat. But really is it all that bad? Sometimes failure is a necessary step to success. John Maxwell states, "we look at failure in a positive sense when we realize the right to fail is as important as the right to succeed." So what do you do when you experience failure? First accept it as being common to all. Second, realize it's not final. "To accept failure as final is to be finally a failure." Thirdly, when you fail let it propel you forward. In other words "fail forward." By doing this we learn from our past but also fail with our faces looking forward so we can anticipate the future. Failure cannot keep us from our destiny. If handled correctly it only gives us a greater appreciation for the journey.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A 24 Hour Turn Around

Have you ever needed a quick turn around in your life. This is what we read about in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20. Benhadad besieged Samaria and there was a great famine that developed. It was so severe that they were eating ass's heads, dove's dung, and their own children. That sounds like desperation to me. You may be at the point in your own life when you are thinking of resorting to measures you never dreamed possible for survival. If you read further in this story you will find that Elisha gave a prophecy in 2 Kings 7:1 that seemed impossible to the natural mind. He said, "Hear ye the word of the Lord, Tomorrow about this time things are going to turn around." In twenty four hours your lives are going to be different, and indeed they were. This answer came from an unlikely source, at an unlikely place, at an unlikely time. God brought about a turn around miracle. As your read this I challenge you not to give up or to lose hope. Your answer is on its way also. Although your natural eye cannot see it and your mind cannot grasp it, God is going to bring your turn around miracle. Trust HIM!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010



Freedom has many attributes. Because of the sacrifice made by those who formulated the Declaration of Independence, we have freedom of choice, of speech, and of worship. While these are wonderful they are not the most important. As we find in Genesis 32: 24-31 the greatest freedom one can enjoy is freedom from self. Jacob had spent his life living in bondage. He was bound by a spirit of deceit which drove him to take advantage of those closest to him including his brother and his aged father.

When he came to the end of his road he found himself alone having an encounter with God. In this encounter he no doubt thought God wanted to talk to him about his unfortunate life. Let's talk about Laban and how he took advantage of me. Or better still let's talk about Esau and his desire to kill me. But I hear God say "No! This encounter is not about anyone else but you. Laban and Esau are not your problem, nor is anyone else. Your problem is you!" That most often is the case with all of us. Our biggest problem is ourselves. We need freedom from self. In this story we find out how we move from beyond ourselves to being what God wants us to be. The transition involves three steps: One: When we realize there are no other options. Jacob was at the end of the road. He could do nothing else to help himself. Two: When you're willing to be honest. Jacob had to admit who he was. He had to confess his name which meant deceiver-sup-planter. Three: When we are willing to pay the cost--the cost of being alone. When we are willing to say "God it's just you and me. Let's stay here until we work this thing out." The Bible says they wrestled. One often thinks of this as total blessing. But we cannot imagine the pain brought on by a dislocated hip. Yet this brought him to the point of crying out "I will not let you go until you bless me." This cry was not one of the desire to feel goose bumps. It was one to total dependency. He was saying "I cannot let you go because without your blessing I cannot make it."

What is the result of such an encounter? The closing picture is shown of Jacob walking in the sunrise limping. He is a new man with a new name. He has experienced freedom which is the potential for all who choose to visit Peniel the Place of Freedom.

Dr. Bewley
Senior Pastor
Grace Point Bristol