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.