Sunday, May 29, 2011
In Scotland there is a ruined tower known as the Tower of Repentance. A skeptic passed by it one day and seeing a shepherd boy reading his Bible scoffingly said, “Can you tell me the way to Heaven?” Instantly the lad replied: “By way of yonder tower!” His was the right answer. Although Jesus preached repentance it did not originate with him. It was resounded over and over by the prophets as well as the forerunner John the Baptist. This wild looking man dressed in camel’s hair proclaimed “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This message remains the hope of the world as well as our individual lives. But what does it mean? It is not merely admitting that sin has been committed. Neither is it feeling sorry for your sin. Repentance means that we experience a change in our lives. This process goes beyond forgiveness. It has been stated that "Forgiveness will make you feel better but repentance will change your life." How true this statement is. Often we deal with the act of sin but we never address the principle of sin. However, when one repents he is determined in his mind, heart, and will that change is not an option but a necessity. This is what God calls for in each of our lives. We all should find ourselves daily confessing and repenting, for this is the only way to remain in good standing with God. Once we grasp this truth it's easy to understand why I chose to name this blog "Repentance--It's necessary." Indeed it is!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
If you are reading this it means the end of the world did not come on Saturday, and if it did both you and I missed it. This latest prediction was just one of many which have proven to be untrue. Such prophetical failures leave believers frustrated, the world more cynical and the news media buzzing. Will the end of time come? Emphatically I can say yes! When will it happen? No one knows! Jesus was very clear on this when he said, “no one knows when the end will come, not the angels, nor the Son, only the Father in heaven.” If that be true then why do men make such fools of themselves by making predictions? While there are many reasons, let me name a few. First, I think it involves curiosity. The disciples were captivated with this same problem. They asked Jesus to pinpoint a day- a month- a season when the end would come. Secondly, it involves sensationalism. People love the sensational and will do just about anything to create it. Third, we could say it involves publicity. As sad as it is some people love to be in the limelight so they conjure up weird scenarios to get media attention. However, the biggest reason involves deception. People may be sincerely deceived but they are nevertheless. Whatever the reason episodes such as this latest saga only bring criticism and cynicism towards the body of Christ. To avoid creating disappointment and disillusionment should we not simply follow the admonition of Jesus by watching and praying, leaving the urgency of hour to the Holy Spirit who is fully capable of preparing hearts for that long awaited event—the coming of Christ and the end of the world?
Sunday, May 15, 2011
On Monday of this past week I was called to the hospital. Upon arriving I made my way into the room of the patient who had summoned me. I sat and listened as she told her remarkable story. She had survived a deadly tornado that had ripped through her little community just days earlier. However, her husband had not been so fortunate. He had died while trying to hold on to and protect the family pets. I was intrigued as she told me of that fearful night. She and her companion had stayed awake listening to the weather reports of the impending storm. Finally, when feeling the threat of danger was over they went to bed. Then without warning they were awakened by an incredible roar. The 140 mile an hour winds blew apart their little home taking both of them with it. She with tear filled eyes told me about her experience. “I was conscious of everything while flying through the air. I was praying “God help me” when suddenly it was as if He took me in his hands and set me back down softly on the earth.” Although she had some broken bones due to being hit by one of her household appliances, she was alive. What followed next was her account of being rescued by some college students who had come to the neighborhood in search of family and friends. After hearing her faint voice, the beam of their flashlight fell upon her face. Joyfully she was carried to safety. Needless to say this visit left me with an indelible impression. First, I thought what a miracle it was that she survived. Greater still was the fact that here was a person who had suffered a traumatic event that resulted in personal injury and the loss of family members, yet she was filled with optimism and praise. I left saying to myself, “wow what an incredible testimony.” As I reflected upon this later, I was reminded that all of us have a story to tell. We all have those experiences that we encounter where God intervenes in our lives. Granted it may not be to the magnitude of this lady, yet we all have a story to tell. Upon leaving that hospital room I was asked to do one thing. “Please tell my story.” I have fulfilled that request. Now I ask you “what is your story?”
Sunday, May 8, 2011
This week all eyes have been glued to the TV awaiting updates on tornado damage as well as the risk of severe flooding in several states. However, no subject has captured our attention more than the killing of Osama Bin Laden. I for one anxiously awaited the report that revealed this headline news. America has felt vindicated and in the words of the president, “justice has been served.” It has been more than a decade ago since Osama masterminded the destruction of the Twin Towers that led to the death of thousands of Americans. As hundreds lined the streets and celebrated, I could not help but ask myself several questions. “Should I be excited about the demise of our arch enemy? Can I take pleasure in the thought of someone dying lost who seemingly was the epitome of Satan himself? Should I even care that he willingly chose to practice a religion that thrives on hate and destruction?” While in my flesh the temptation to join the celebration in the streets was overwhelming, there were several issues that held me back. First, I was reminded of the scripture that states, “vengeance belongs to me says the Lord.” Were the “Navy Seals” right for going in and taking action? Yes, without question. Yet, in spirit our thoughts must be that of good instead of evil. Second, regardless of how demonic a person seems we are to pray for the best and not the worst. To do otherwise is to allow ourselves to drop to the same level of those whose deeds we despise. Last of all, I was reminded that the Father calls upon us to “love those who hate us, to do good to those who despitefully use us and forgive those who frustrate us.” At times this is the most difficult aspect of Christianity to practice. If you’re like me you want to play God attempting to be both judge and jury. However, I realize that we must pray “thy kingdom come; Thy will be done.” When doing this, we have the guarantee that justice will be served. Although we may only see parts of that justice revealed, eventually we know that God will see that every deed receives due judgment. Knowing this allows me to experience a sense of peace and gives me a definite reason to rejoice. Hopefully, you will agree.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Have you ever heard the statement, "It never happens here." Just a few days ago I was guilty of saying that very thing. When tornadoes were touching down in other states I said, "we live in the mountains, it never happens here." And then last Wednesday came and all of my preconceived notions were blown away in one short but long evening. While my wife and I were taking refuge in the corner of our basement, I realized you can never say "never." We sat in great anxiety while the winds blew ferociously and hail the size of golf balls pelted down. It was only around 3:00 am that we felt safe enough to return to our bedroom. When the sun came up Thursday morning I quickly went outside to assess the damage. We were very fortunate but others were not. Since that evening I have attentively watched the news and driven up and down the interstate looking at hundreds of homes and businesses that were completely destroyed. My heart has been touched by all the loss. In my attempt to rationalize and theologize about the reason for the events, I continue to come up empty handed. I have come to the conclusion that no answer is adequate. And I'm not sure that we need to know the reason, we only need to know how to respond. Situations like this give us a great opportunity to demonstrate the true spirit of Christianity. We have a chance to bind together and provide loving care to hurting people. The saddest commentary to a tragedy such as this would be for the traumatized community at large to feel like we failed them. However, I have no doubt the body of Christ will show forth their best. We will not ignore the needs of the people. I am confident the response of the informed church will be the same as my misinformed one, "it never happens here."