Sunday, April 29, 2012

Serving: Keeping Open The Well of Life

John Ogilvie in his commentary on Acts tells of a friend who was building a home in the mountains of Vermont in a place where it’s very difficult to get water. “He asked an old Vermonter to come over and divine the source of water on his property with a stick. Sure enough, this old-timer found the appropriate spot. “Just dig fourteen feet straight down here and you’ll find an underground river,” he told my friend. “When you hit the water, pump it out every day.” My friend followed the instructions and found the river. He pumped it out the first day and more water came in. In the next few days, the water rose to four feet, then six feet. At eight feet it seemed stationary, so he left it. Returning some months later when the house was finished, he immediately turned on the water. The first day there seemed to be plenty, but by the next day there was none at all. The well was empty. In spite of his efforts to revive it, my friend ended up having to dig an artesian well at a cost of three thousand dollars. Much later he ran into the old Vermonter in town and told him the disappointing story. “Did you pump it out every day?” was the question. “No,” said my friend. The Vermonter shook his head. “You fool! An underground river is made up of thousands of little capillaries running underground. As you pump the water you enlarge those capillaries and more water comes. Once you stop, the water backs up, the capillaries close and the river is formed somewhere else.” Ogilvie goes on to say, our life in Jesus is like that. As we give our time, our love, our money, the well is always filled. When we begin to believe “What’s mine is mine” somehow our lives dry up and we’ve lost the key to everything.” That’s why serving is so important. Our willingness to give ourselves sacrificially for others allows the flow of God’s grace to continue. As long as we are pouring out, He is pouring in. You and I were saved to serve.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Out of Date

A few days ago I came home from a heavy day at the office excited about relaxing and sitting down to a quiet meal.  Looking into the refrigerator, I thought a garden salad would be the very thing to appease my appetite.  Moments later there it was; lettuce, tomato, asparagus, cheese, and bacon.  All that was left to make this the perfect meal was the dressing.  I reached and grabbed my favorite, the Honey Mustard. Looking at the label I realized it was out of date. For fear of getting food poisoning I tossed it into the garbage and reached back into the ice box pulling out the Ranch. Of course this was not what I wanted but thought it will do. Disappointment came again as the expiration date came into view. Repeating my actions, I reached once more inside and pulled out what was to be my last resort—the Italian. Tell me who likes Italian? That salad lost so much of its appeal because I had to settle for something less than what I wanted.  Often we find ourselves facing this dilemma. Just when you need something the most you find it’s out of date. While this can be said of the natural world, the spiritual is another matter. God’s promises are never out of date. They are always ready for use. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that His promises are “Yea and amen.”  That means they never expire. Someone told me recently that because of the preservatives, “Twinkies” have a 100 year shelf life. That’s great but it does not supersede the eternal. God has given us His word which carries an eternal guarantee. You can’t find a deal like that anywhere else in the world. Because of this, let me encourage you to revisit those promises you have let slip from your repertoire of faith. Doing so will allow you to tap into an up-to-date reservoir experiencing all you will ever need.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Are You Being Bullied?

I read recently that each day an estimated 160,000 students in the USA refuse to go to school because they dread the physical and verbal aggression of their peers. Many more attend school in a chronic state of anxiety and depression. It’s reported that 6out of 10 American youth witness bullying at least once a day. This has become a serious issue that is being addressed by filmmakers, educators, law enforcement, and government officials. While it is definitely a problem with individuals the same is true of countries. As a matter of fact I just returned from touring one of the most bullied countries in the world—Israel. For years this small piece of real-estate has been picked on and has suffered from the threat of brute force almost weekly. Iran, Iraq and others want her people eliminated. Nothing would please them more if her place on the world map ceased to exist at all. However, what these bullies fail to realize is Israel has a Divine Protector. She has the pledge of eternal security at the hand of God. Also, added to their lack of realization is the fact that they themselves are being bullied and manipulated by a clandestine power—Satan. But of greater significance is the reality that this invisible culprit seeks to dominate you and me. He is always pushing, shoving, and vying for position within us. However, we have a protector also because “Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world.” Students being bullied can appeal to their parents or principle. But Israel and we Christians can appeal to our God. Are you being bullied? Then turn to the One who is a “very present help in times of trouble.”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Encountering the Resurrection

The word encounter has been defined as “an unplanned or unexpected meeting or event.” This is what happened Sunday in Augusta at the Master’s. Bubba Watson didn’t expect to end the day wearing a green jacket but he did. Wayne Mitchell didn’t expect to catch a historic golf ball but he did. Jay Busbee describes the encounter like this: “National history wafts through the pines and across the fairways. And every so often, it drops right in your lap. Standing in the fairway at the par-5 second hole, one stroke behind the leaders and 260 yards from the pin, Louis Oosthuizen unleashed one of the most magnificent shots in Masters History. His approach hit 28 yards short of the pin, then rolled as if down a gutter, and with one final rotation, dropped into the cup. It was the first albatross, a 3-under-par shot (also a double eagle), ever made on No. 2, and only the fourth in the entire history of the Masters. And it vaulted Oosthuizen from back in the pack into a two-shot lead. Smiling his characteristic gap-toothed grin, the one that's given him the nickname "Shrek," Oosthuizen then did the unthinkable: He tossed the potentially historic ball into the crowd. The lucky recipient? A gentleman by the name of Wayne Mitchell, who hails from New Tripoli, Pa. He caught the ball and almost immediately socked it into his pocket.” Only later would this fan realize the significance of his catch. The same could be said of Mary and the two men on the road to Emmaus who encountered the resurrected Christ. Little did they know that their experience would allow them to be the first witnesses to hail forth the message “He is risen!” Those words proclaimed centuries ago still bring celebration every Easter. More importantly is the fact that those words introduce to us the possibility of encountering Jesus for ourselves. He indeed is risen and desires to come face to face with everyone who will believe and receive. Why not let this moment be your time to encounter the resurrection!