Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Time to Start Over

It’s time to start over--it’s a brand New Year

It’s time to start over--a time to dry every tear

It’s time to start over--a time to forget the past

It’s time to start over--a time to focus on that which will last

It’s time to start over--a time when there is much to do

It’s a time to start over--a time when God wants to use you

It’s time to start over--a time to utilize your potential

It’s time to start over--a time to major on the essential

It’s time to start over--a time to stop looking over your shoulder

It’s time to start over--a time to be a destiny holder

It’s time to start over--a time of great persuasion

It’s time to start over--a time to rise to the occasion

It’s a time to start over--a time to relinquish all fear

It’s time to start over—this is the New Year


Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Second Birth for our Brokenness

We are in the height of the Christmas season the time when we celebrate the greatest birth known to man; a birth brought about for a broken world. God looked upon us knowing we were hopeless and unable to fix ourselves.   
In Subversive Kingdom, Ed Stetzer so adequately describes our condition.
“Look around. Our world is broken. I'm not talking about the "world" in terms of nature (although creation, too, bears the marks of sin's blemish and decay). I'm talking about the "world" comprised of the people, structures and systems that make up society—the moral patterns, beliefs and behaviors that result in things like unfair business practices, racism, extreme poverty, dishonest government, dirty politics, family breakdown, cheating, stealing, oppression of the weak and so many other distressors and defilers...

It stinks.
It's bad.
It's not right.
It's broken.
And in homes and hospitals every day of the week, at courthouses and gravesides everywhere in the world, people of all spiritual makes and models suffer from it—from a world that toils along in hopeless disrepair.”
Stetzer continues by saying the brokenness of the world on display before us is earth’s rebellion against its rightful King, “and only God has the ultimate fix.”  In essence what it needs is another birth—not the baby in the manger but heaven’s triumphant resurrected Lord. We need Jesus to return and set this world right. We need heaven to experience labor pains and with the blast of the trumpet deliver for the second time the savior—not the meek and mild mannered Jesus but the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” As we patiently wait let us never dismiss the evil around us or allow it to take away our joy, but may we constantly utter the prayer that will usher from the womb the next great birth, “Maranatha, Come quickly Lord Jesus.”    


Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Prayer for Help

This is the time of year when we expect to hear the sounds of joy, but this past Friday in Connecticut those were replaced with the blast of gunshots.   Amidst the screams, Satan once again revealed his hideous character taking the lives of innocent children and adults. Since hearing the news my heart like millions of others has been grieved. I cannot help but ask how and why did this happen? However, no words of explanation seem adequate. Since I find myself humanly unable to provide a proper response, a prayer written by Max Lucado in the wake of the shootings seems most appropriate.  Please join me and ask that God hastens its answer.   
Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately. These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated. The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.


Your Children


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Damaged Goods

Have you ever gone into a grocery store and noticed a cart full of items marked “Damaged Goods.” Normally you find dented cans with missing labels—just random items that for whatever reason failed to make the cut and are not considered “shelf worthy.” And when you think about it people are often classified the same way.  Life delivers unexpected lessons and incredible blows that leave us dented.  In the same way sin enters our lives and before you know it we have been stripped of all our self-worth, our dignity, our usefulness. In other words we get to feeling like the person who submitted an anonymous article to “My Ministry Minute,” a newsletter of Peniel Ministries. ”Lessons learned in the ‘School of hard knocks’ bruise us dent us and remove the label that defines who we really are. We feel as if we have been tossed into a bin, no longer worthy of a place on a shelf.” If such feelings continue to linger we can find ourselves substantiating the lie that we are second class failures and all hope is gone.  However the amazing thing is this, when you take a risk and pick up one of those bargain cans you find that it contains a very satisfying ingredient.  You may open it only to find peaches, apple sauce, or tangerine slices—all of which I love.  This brings a great realization communicated so adequately by the individual quoted earlier. “I have been looked down upon and judged by many who have seen my missing label and they have slapped their own label on me. I have wanted to say so many times to so many people, ‘Don’t judge too quickly.  My damage does not define me, but it is refining me.’  I may sometimes be at the bottom of life’s bin, but Jesus paid as high a price for those of us at the bottom as he did for those who are proudly displayed on the top shelf!”  This means if we look at each other the way God looks at us our viewpoint will be the same as the inscription I read on a tee shirt recently, “Labels are for cans not people.”  How blessed it is to know that regardless of how we feel, our God never casts us to the side to be eternally classified as “Damaged Goods.”


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Don't Count Your Chickens

Catch phrases are something I find entertaining.  Especially ones like the following: “Every tub sits on its own bottom;" "What’s done is done;" and “The buck stops here.” But my favorite is, ”Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”  A retired pastor told me a humorous story recently that helped put this one in perspective. He had a member of his church who was travelling along the interstate when his car developed a flat tire. He pulled over, got out and proceeded to fix the problem.  Opening the trunk he reached inside took out his tool box to use as a scotch to keep the vehicle from rolling. He changed the tire got back in his car and headed up the highway. When arriving home he suddenly remembered he had pulled away leaving behind the box filled with tools. Although he felt someone had surely found and claimed his forgotten property he decided to go back the next day to the spot of the breakdown and just take a look. Needless to say he was amazed beyond words to find the box sitting right where he had left it. Retrieving the tools he made his way back home. A few days later he was working on the same vehicle in his own back yard.  He stopped for a moment went inside the house and when returning to continue his work was shocked to find that someone had stolen his tools. This proves you can never “count your chickens before they hatch.” Just when you think you’ve escaped loss you find out you have underestimated the evil nature of society.  The same holds true in relation to the devil. Jesus said, “he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy.”  You may escape him on the interstate but you cannot forget that he often visits our own back yard. It is for this reason Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 2:11 “Satan will not outsmart us, for we are familiar with his evil schemes.”  While the enemy walks to and fro throughout the earth, most often he takes his greatest advantage at close range.  It is for this reason we never count him out but we remain watchful especially in those areas close to home.