Sunday, May 25, 2014

He Remembered

I heard the story recently about a guy named John who had a serious memory problem. One day he ran into a friend he had not seen in a long time. He greeted him and said, “Bill, do you remember what a bad memory I had?” Bill answered, “Yes, I certainly do.” “Well, it’s not bad any more. I went to a seminar that taught us how to remember things. It was great, and now I have a wonderful memory.” Bill answered, “That’s great! What was the name of the seminar?” “Well,” John said, “wait a minute, my wife went with me. I’ll ask her.” He turned and saw his wife nearby. Then he turned back to Bill and said, “What’s the name of that flower with a long stem, thorns and a red bloom?” “Do you mean a rose?” Bill answered. “Yeah, thanks,” John said. “Hey, Rose, what’s the name of that seminar we attended?” All of us have problems remembering on occasions.  We forget people’s names, phone numbers, and special events just to name a few. However there are some things we cannot forget. Memorial Day is one of those. This is a time when we should focus upon the men and women who died fighting to maintain our nation’s freedom.  But it’s also a day when we should reflect upon those who lost their lives fighting for our faith. They refused to abandon their convictions. Hebrews chapter eleven mentions multitudes that fall into this category. They would not surrender to denial and because of that they were tortured, crucified, beheaded, and beaten to death. However, the ultimate person to remember is the one who fought for our future. When we were full of sin and without hope, Jesus died that we might become the righteousness of God. That’s one of the most important reasons we participate in Holy Communion.  Jesus said “take the bread and drink the cup and as often as you do, you are doing it in remembrance of me.”  But as hard as it is to admit, sometimes we forget. It’s not that we block him out of our memory altogether, we just don’t keep him as a priority in our lives.  This causes me to ask, “Can we forget the one who did not forget us?” A serious reading of the scripture reveals that Jesus as the supreme sacrifice remembered us in everything.  He knew we needed forgiveness--He remembered.  He knew we needed peace—He remembered. He knew we needed comfort—He remembered. He knew we were human—He remembered. He knew we needed healing—He remembered. He knew we needed hope—He remembered. He knew we needed encouragement—He remembered. He knew we needed provision—He remembered. He knew we needed deliverance—He remembered. He knew we needed power—He remembered. He knew we needed a home—He remembered. Yes, He remembered us in all things. That being said let us be sure to take the time, especially during this Memorial week to remember Him.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recognizing God

A few days ago I pulled into Kroger’s gas station to fill up the church van.  A gentleman across from me was doing the same. I spoke and he responded by asking, “What church are you with?” I replied “Gracepoint.” “Where is it located” was his next question. As I began to explain he interrupted and said, “Oh yes, I watch your pastor on TV regularly. He preaches on Monday or Wednesday right?” I said, “Yes it’s Monday.” He never recognized who I was and I did not tell him.  My curiosity tempted me to ask, “Does he do a good job?”  However I refrained thinking he might answer negatively.  Why did he not know who I was? Had I been dressed incognito I would have understood, but that was not the case.  Strangely enough two of Jesus’ followers experienced the same.  They were on their way to Emmaus when the Lord drew near to them. Although they had been in his company on multiple occasions and had heard him speak, on this day he was unrecognizable. Luke says “their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.”  We are not given the reasons as to why this happened, but let me suggest a few.  Possibly the problem was lack of focus. They just failed to look closely refusing to entertain the idea that it just might be him. Maybe they were too preoccupied with their loss and were overwhelmed with grief. Or one cannot rule out the suggestion given by the author that Jesus just wasn’t ready to reveal himself as yet. He had them on hold. Regardless of the reason, they did not have the capacity at that moment to entertain him.  This holds true for us. There are those occasions when God stands in our very presence but we fail to recognize him. How wonderful it is when He lifts the veil allowing us to see and hear Him as He is. When this happens our hearts will feel the same burning as Cleopas and his unnamed friend mentioned earlier.  The encounter may come on your job, at the grocery store, or while taking a walk through the woods. The important thing is not the place but the person. It is about our being successful at recognizing God!        

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Importance of Mothers

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was covered with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide and dog food was spilled on the floor. He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened. He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls. As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked, “What happened here today?” She again smiled and answered, “You know every evening when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?” “Yes,” was his incredulous reply! She answered, “Well, today I didn’t do it.” An article in Forbes some months ago asked the question, "Think you can put a price on motherhood?" Then they presented a study on how many hours moms work and what the family would have to pay for outsourcing that duty. The 2012 survey determined the following: The average stay-at-home mom should make an annual salary of $112,962 based on a 40-hour per week base pay plus 54.7 hours a week of overtime; the average working mom should make an annual salary $66,969 based on 40-hours of mothering duties and 17.9 overtime hours per week. The question is “how much does yours make?” Very few of us would have the resources to pay those kinds of wages. However, I have found out that mothers really don’t require it. All they want is a little gratitude, a generous hug, and a sincere “I love you!” Because if we care to admit it all of us could agree with the words of Abraham Lincoln who wrote: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."  If you praise her appropriately she will know she is stupendous, priceless, and matchless. She’s really important!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Demonstrating Love

Has the Lord ever asked you to do something difficult? Watchman Nee in one of his teachings told a story about a Chinese Xian man who owned a rice paddy next to his. The Xian man irrigated his fields by pumping water out of a canal. Every day, after the Xian had pumped enough water to fill his paddy, the Communist man would come out, remove the boards that kept the water in his neighbor’s paddy, and allow the water to drain into his paddy so he wouldn’t have to pump the water. This continued for some time, until the Xian was just fed up with it. He prayed, “Lord, if this keeps up I’m going to lose all my rice, maybe even my field. What can I do?” The Lord responded by putting a thought in his mind. The next morning the Xian man got up early and started pumping water into his neighbor’s field first. Then he replaced the boards and pumped water into his own rice paddy. This resulted in both rice paddies becoming productive and the Communist man was moved by his neighbor’s loving action. The two men became friends and eventually the Communist man became a follower of Jesus. It comes as no surprise that God often asks us to do things we consider strange in order to develop character in us and to impact the lives of others. Such a request might involve praying for an enemy, mowing the lawn of a hateful neighbor; volunteering to fill in for the mean-spirited co-worker who drives you nuts; or being helpful and kind to an ex-spouse or estranged family member. It’s amazing but when God’s will involves development He often chooses a teacher that is diametrically opposite of us.  He may place you beside a co-worker considered to be the most distrusting person in the department, or a cantankerous neighbor. Your quiet neighborhood may become the next project in the city’s reconstruct the street initiative. Or even worse, the building you work in may be invaded by those nasty jack-hammers creating noise that goes right to the bone. Whatever the circumstance, once the project is completed you are a much better person because of it. In any event, no assignment is without its challenges but greater still its opportunities. God gives us the right situation in which to demonstrate His love.