Sunday, June 29, 2014

God’s Master-Plan

Craig Brian Larson, in his book “750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers” states, “In 1937 Walt Disney released the first full-length animated movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Producing an animated movie was a gargantuan task. Disney artists drew over one million pictures. Each picture flashed onto the screen for a mere one-twenty-fourth of a second. As we watch the movie run at regular speed, it seems so simple. We have no idea all that goes into it. Our lives are like that movie. God puts infinite thought, skill, and careful attention into every detail. Yet as our lives run at “regular speed,” we have no idea how much God’s providence fills every single second.” How true this is! So often we feel as if God is totally disengaged in the developments that surround our lives. Yet, the Psalmist reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” When you consider those words grammatically you find that they imply meticulous care.  Nothing goes into the fabric of our being without superimposed inspection. However, there are seasons when we feel as if God has forgotten to put on his eyeglasses having no clue what is coming against us.  But, reality proves just the opposite; every part and partial of our assembly is being monitored under the microscope of His loving, tender care. Human observation would leave us to believe that some parts of our DNA would have been better left out. God believed otherwise and chose not to assemble us with just a plan but a master-plan. That being said we must be careful to view our lives as He does. When the projector starts and the film is rolling we’re not just watching a low-budget, under-rated movie. Rather we are seeing God’s Academy Award winner. Although, we are common actors and actresses, our lives display the Creator’s best because He always works with a master-plan.       

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Making Impressions

When you think about it making an impression is such an easy thing to do—you place your hand around a glass, touch wet paint, say the wrong thing, or dress the wrong way.  Immediately your actions make an imprint. I witnessed this truth in rare form last week.  It came during one of our annual Camp Meeting services in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The worship leader for the service was Eddie James. If you are familiar with this artist you know he is greatly anointed and animated when singing. While he was in the middle of leading us to the throne room in praise, I happened to notice a young African American child in front of me.  He looked to be about two years old.  In hand was a pen which served as his microphone.  He was rocking and having the time of his life. It was evident Eddie had made an impression and this young man was imitating his every move. Needless to say I was impressed that he was so impressed. The sight brought to reality once again the fact that impressions are easily made. That being said I think there are three things that must be considered. First, they can be good or bad. Secondly, we can make them and be totally unaware that we are doing so; Eddie had no clue this young boy was watching his every move. Third, impressions are left upon everyone but especially children. Their immature wills are fickle with little ability to discern right from wrong.  A serious reflection upon these thoughts should lead us to consider our ways, making sure we are living lives that merit imitation. Because whether we like to admit it or not people of all ages are watching, which means you and I are making impressions!  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

It’s a Privilege

This week we celebrated Father's Day. What a privilege God has given to humanity; we can have a Father as well as be one. However, with the blessing comes great responsibility--a task that some take lightly. First of all men are to be priests and leaders. This means that we do not expect others to fulfill our role authoritatively.  Bill Cosby in one of his jovial comments once remarked "I'm not the boss of my house. I don't know how I lost it, I don't know when I lost it, I don't really think I ever had it. But I've seen the boss's job ... and I don't want it!" While jokingly stated, this response defines the attitude of so many dads. Voddie T. Baucham Jr. commented "It has been said that as goes the family, so goes the world. It can also be said that as goes the father, so goes the family." This is especially true as it relates to leadership; when father's fail in this area the family finds itself struggling for meaning and direction in life. Thus, someone or something else steps in, fills the vacancy and normally without positive results. Secondly, fathers are to be role models. Clarence Budington in speaking about his own father stated, "He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." Children are always in the observation mode; meaning they do not have to be coached to follow the path we trod it's an automatic response. That's why it's so important to allow God to order our steps, then the steps of our children will follow suit. Thirdly, fathers are to be providers financially but even more so emotionally. What does emotional support look like? Jim Valvano explains it with his statement, "My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me." Sigmund Freud gave input by suggesting "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." Harmon Killebrew insinuated it meant playtime. "My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You’re tearing up the grass." "We’re not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We’re raising boys." Others would describe emotional support as being a hug, a kiss, a kind word, or a supportive smile. All of these are important to the mental DNA of our children. While working at fatherhood just remember it does not require perfection just performance. Reed Markham may have said it best. "Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow." So dads get out there and do it again--fatherhood is not a problem but a privilege.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Boss

The boss was concerned that his employees weren’t giving him enough respect, so he tried and old fashioned method of persuasion: He brought in a sign that said “I’m the Boss” and taped it to his door. After lunch, he noticed someone had taped another note under his. “Your wife called. She wants her sign back!”  While this is a comical story it speaks of the plight of our modern day society.  When you look at politics it can leave you asking, “Who really is in charge? Is it the president, the congress, the senate, or the American people?”  The same can be said when observing the family. Often we see a great discrepancy as it relates to control. Children act as if they are the parent and vice versa. Sometimes we witness the same scenario in the religious spectrum. Is the pastor, elder board, or the parishioner in control? However, when we take a closer look at the world and the kingdom, the same does not hold true.  God is clearly declared “The Boss.” He defines Himself through the penmanship of Isaiah in these terms: “I am the first, and I am the last and beside me there is no God. I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God beside me. Peter described God as the Chief Shepard. John in the book of Revelation described Him as the “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” For centuries man has tested God’s control only to realize it was a big mistake. Pharaoh, Herod, Nero, and Hitler flexed their muscles only to find out that God is boss. The Philistines, Amalekites, Syrians as well as other nations commissioned their forces and found out God is boss. I must admit there are times when it appears the world is out of control and the Devil has taken charge of every facet of its operation. However, a thorough reading of Scripture reveals the opposite.  When Isaiah was in question, he writes, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” When John was unsure he was caught up in the spirit taken to heaven and reveals what he saw. “I looked and behold there was a throne set in heaven and one sat on the throne.” The one positioned on the throne was clearly in charge of everything transpiring on earth. Nothing happening was beyond God’s control.  That being said, when it feels as if your life and the lives of those around you is out of control be assured that nothing could be farther from the truth. Be at peace; God has never surrendered or vacated His throne. He remains in charge which means He is the ultimate boss!   

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting Our Attention

A few years ago, a young successful executive named Josh was traveling down a Chicago neighborhood street. He was going a bit too fast in his sleek, black, 12-cylinder Jaguar which was only 2 months old. He was watching carefully for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed the spot no child darted out, but a brick flew out and - WHUMP! – It smashed into the Jag’s shiny side door. SCREECH! He slammed on his brakes and his gears ground into reverse, tires spinning the Jaguar back to the place where the brick had been thrown. He jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a parked car. He shouted, “Who are you? And what the heck are you doing?” Building up a head of steam, he went on. “That’s my new Jag, and the brick you threw is going to cost you a lot of money. Why did you throw it?” “Please, mister, please…I’m sorry! I didn’t know what else to do! I threw the brick because no one would stop.” Tears were dripping down the boy’s chin as he pointed around the parked car. “It’s my brother, mister,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Sobbing, the boy pled, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.’ Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Straining, he lifted the young man back into the wheelchair, took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything else was okay. He then walked with them to make sure that the younger brother was able to get them back home all right. It was a long walk back to the sleek, black, shining 12-cylinder Jaguar XKE – a long and slow walk. Josh never did fix that side door. He kept the dent to remind himself not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick to gain his attention.  There are times when God has to do the same. Bricks in the form of trials, tribulations, sicknesses and temptations come from the dark to stop us in our tracks. However, when this happens we realize the dents and scrapes in life only serve to make us better people. It is through these experiences that we begin to see, hear, and understand what God really wants to do through our lives. So let me end by asking, “Is God having a hard time getting your attention?”