Sunday, August 23, 2015

It Has Been an Honor

There are various ceremonies and celebrations that are related to honor. We watch and listen as people describe the privilege of serving or being served by those most often in attendance. The words are carefully chosen and spoken with a distinct level of passion so as to leave every ear tingling with a sense of appreciation.  While I am sure my words will not be comparable to those who speak with such eloquence, I pray they will leave the same indelible impression. Eleven years ago the Bewley family entered Bristol for the very first time to fulfill a speaking engagement which we thought would be a two service adventure. However, we like many others overlooked the wise words of Solomon who stated, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Little did we know the path God had chosen for us. It is one that has taken us into the lives of some of the most incredible people on the face of the earth. Grace Point your love has made our journey easy. We have received more than we have given. You have allowed us to witness incredible faith, contagious worship, and fervent prayer. You have granted us the privilege of dedicating your babies, marrying your children, and blessing those who have preceded us in death. You have treated us as friends and loved us as family. To you we would like to say, it has been an unforgettable honor to serve as your pastor. Our lives will never be the same for having served you and known you. We love you and want you to know “It has been an honor!”

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Unappreciated Dance

It was one of the most glorious days in Israel’s history. After years of absence the Ark of God was being returned home. This initiative began by a King who had a heart for God and believed the Ark should be restored to its rightful place. Thus, David upon taking the throne made it a top priority. With everything in place He and his men made the trip to Obededom’s house and began the journey home. Every six paces travelled resulted in a dance, a sacrifice, shouting and the blowing of the trumpet. Why all the celebration? It was not by requirement but because David felt God deserved it. This king left nothing in reserve.  He parted with his royal vestments girded himself with a linen ephod and danced before the Lord with all his might. The people loved it. They saw the King’s actions as a statement of humility. However, not everyone was pleased. Watching from a distance were the eyes of one that judged his actions with great disapproval. The one observing was none other than Michal the queen.  In her opinion the king’s actions created embarrassment and she could not wait to share her critique.  Upon his arrival home, she meets him and begins her verbal assault. “How glorious you were today uncovering yourself in front of the handmaids and servants.” The point was well understood.  The King had not acted kingly. However, David refused to allow her to deter his worship. To his enemy this was an unappreciated dance.  In your pursuit of God you might find yourself being faced with similar words of opposition. If so I encourage you to remember two things: who you are worshipping and why. Our dance is the music God loves and its purpose is to escort glory. Although unappreciated by some heaven’s audience will applaud. That being said dance with all your might!  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Encountering the Glory

In John chapter 11 there is a remarkable story. Jesus has been summoned by Mary and Martha to come and visit Lazarus who is terminally ill. But he decides to take his time getting there. It is a decision that results in death because His beloved friend dies.  Upon arrival Martha approaches him and shares her disappointment.  If He had only been there this catastrophe could have been avoided. Then Jesus gives an awkward response. “This has happened for a reason and if you will believe you will see the glory of God.” I’m not sure she understood or greater still if she had ever experienced glory.  She’s not alone is this respect. It took almost 22 years of ministry for me to arrive at this portal. I had encountered God’s presence continually but not His glory. And then in 1997 it happened. What an awesome experience! The same manifest presence that carried Lazarus from the tomb carried me out of the grave of discouragement and despair. Now some 18 years later I find myself once again surrounded by the same cloud. Words cannot express my appreciation for God’s kiss.  But the truth of the matter is He is no respecter of persons.  The timeless admonition given to Mary and Martha is one issued to all—“if you believe you will see the glory of God.”  To all who read this blog and especially Grace Point Church, the heavens are open; God’s glory is available and attainable.  Go after it with all that is within you!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Making Plans

I read the story recently about Joe who was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sick father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune. One evening at an investment seminar he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years, my father will pass, and I’ll inherit his large fortune.” Impressed, the woman took his business card and three months later, she became Joe’s stepmother. Oh how the poet’s words “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” are ever so true. Life is about interruptions and status changes. That’s why James by inspiration wrote “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” This means the Father sets our daily agenda. We can never know for sure what He has in mind which confirms the wisdom of the humorist who remarked "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."  He is the creator of revisions and detours but the one thing I have learned is you can trust Him. So chill out, lean back, and enjoy the ride. Make plans but realize you will always be living a plan--less life.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Generational Gap

Have you ever found yourself being faced with what’s called the “Generation Gap?” It’s a given if you are the parents or grandparents of older children. Just recently Addison our granddaughter came for a visit. During all of her previous trips clothing was not an issue; however this time was different.  When Sunday came she appeared dressed for church in what we old folks would call questionable attire. Her grandmother immediately said “Addi honey, those shorts are not appropriate for church.”  Of course this was not an issue to a twelve year old getting ready to become a teenager. She then informed us that her dress clothes had not been packed. After some deliberation and searching, her grandmother found some black pajama bottoms that were suitable. On the way to church our little girl was unhappy. She was quiet and preoccupied which is unusual for her. Although the clothes looked fine to me I knew the thoughts running through her mind. “I can’t go to class like this. All the kids will know I’m dressed in pajamas; how embarrassing.” So, upon arrival I told her to stay in the car that we were going shopping.  We rushed to the K-Mart down the street and went in. I told her to go pick out something. She replied, “I can’t. I never go shopping. Mom always goes for me.”  That’s okay simple enough, so I asked what size she wore. She responded, “I don’t know.” Now I’m stressing because I certainly did not know and time was of the essence. Needless to say I felt helpless and frustrated. Finally with the intervention of a Good Samaritan cashier we were able to accomplish the task. The end result—she looked great and was very happy. Years down the road when much older she will remember that day. What will she reflect upon? Hopefully her thoughts will turn to a grandfather who faced a Generational Gap crisis, but in that moment took the time to care and relieve the worries of a little girl who felt temporarily embarrassed and humiliated while wearing pajamas.  God our father is forever closing the “Gap” on our behalf letting us know He cares. That’s what makes visiting with Him such a wonderful experience.    

Sunday, July 19, 2015

How Do People Identify You?

Just recently I was privy to an amusing conversation between my two oldest granddaughters. They were discussing the number of houses that had been built in their subdivision recently.  A definite point of contention arose between the two of them as they were counting. The oldest declared there were thirteen, the youngest countered with fourteen.   What created the amusement was the way in which Addison described her neighbors while counting.  She said to her sister, “You don’t even know all the people who live in the neighborhood.”  As she went around the circle she began to identify them.  “The people who never come out of their house live here; the weird people live there; the nice people on the corner; our friends live at this location, and the mean people live in the house up the street.”  The saga continued until she had named everyone while at the same time winning the argument. Indeed there were fourteen houses. While laughing I began to reflect upon the dialogue asking the question, “Wonder how people identify us?”  This brought to my mind one of the teachings of Jesus.  He used a similar tactic by stating, “You will know them by their fruits.”  Some will have the semblance of rotten apples, others wild grapes, while a few will carry the aroma of a melon patch. However, in essence the best identification can be found in Paul’s writings to the Galatians.  Each should be indelibly branded with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith.  Such marks will allow us to be pleasantly remembered as friends and neighbors of high regard. So, let me ask again “How do people identify you?”

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Cloak of Conviction

A young police officer was taking his final exam for the police academy and was given the following problem to solve. “You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street. On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby. Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured. You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is at present away in the USA. A passing motorist stops to offer assistance and you realize that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery. Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent. Another man is crying for help, having been blown into the adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim. Describe in a few words what actions you would take.” The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote, “I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.” Are we the church guilty of taking off the cloak of our convictions and mingling in the crowd? Over the last few months radical decisions have been made that has altered the face of our nation.  However, those making the decisions did not rise to positions of power by themselves. They had to have help.  When you calculate the numbers, there are enough Christians in America to amend any decision that stands in opposition to their faith. Through the power of prayer and our vote we can make a difference. It’s sad to say but it appears as if too many have removed the cloak of conviction and are merely mingling in the crowd.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Blessed America!

President Ronald Reagan once stated, "America was founded by people who believe that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side." No truer words could be spoken especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage.  This decision has sent emotional tremors throughout our nation. While multitudes are erupting in praise, others stand weeping. The turmoil has caused me to reflect upon God and our Christian response to decisions of government that disappoint us.  So, how should we react? The humorist, Mark Twain once said "It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them." That directive will result in a display of wisdom in most situations; however, it will not work for all of life’s challenges.  These are days of anger, frustration, and perceived futility. But for the Christian they can be looked upon as a season of testing.  We have the freedom to express our thoughts and feelings; the freedom to uphold and embrace those convictions that are in keeping with a pure conscience believing that God is standing with us. Yet, in the expression of that freedom we must continually ask, “Are we on God’s side?”  Although we find disagreement with decisions that oppose our faith, any speech given without prayer, any statement offered without love, and any attitude displayed without respect, places us at odds with God.  In essence, we are to exemplify the life of Christ. He wasn’t given to compromise but was considerate. He never sought for uniformity but for unity. He never lingered with the antagonists of God’s law but loved them ceaselessly. We as Christians should do the same. Following His example will merit the Father’s favor and will perpetuate a blessed America! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Underdog—A State of Mind

A few days ago my son and his family came to visit. The day before making the journey he adopted a Great Dane. Of course this newest addition to the family could not be left at home by itself so he brought it along. If you know anything about dogs you know Great Dane’s are huge and can be rather intimidating. Two of our pets, Cassie and Tiny were terrified of the beast but not Coy. Although much smaller in size, he refused to allow our guest to make him feel inferior so he dug in and stood his ground. As far as he was concerned this brute had invaded his territory but would not be granted the privilege of becoming King of the Hill. That was his position and it would not be relinquished regardless the cost. Needless to say it developed into an interesting visit. But most of all the experience helped bring me to a state of reality—being an underdog is a state of the mind. It has to do with our thinking as much as anything else. For example Israel saw themselves as grasshoppers when seeing the giants of Anak so they were defeated before ever going to battle.  On the other hand, David saw himself as a champion before ever stepping towards the giant.  All of us will face insurmountable odds in life but just remember being an underdog is nothing more than a state of the mind. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Father’s Legacy

I had the privilege of spending a few days with my father this week.  Since he and mom live five and a half hours away our time together is a cherished commodity. At 85 years of age his step is getting much slower and his memory slipping. Yet dad’s mere presence demands such respect.  Throughout the years he has been a steady influence and an invaluable source of wisdom and knowledge. All the children know when we sit down together we will hear the same stories and will get the same reply from mom; “Honey you have already told them about that.” I’ve often wondered why life delivers such repetition. On the one hand it creates humor but on the other concern. But could it be that God in His infinite wisdom orchestrates such a plan because of purpose. Is it His intention that we hear over and over precepts that should not be forgotten? For instance, during this visit Dad chose to tell me again how he came to be appointed to his last pastorate.  It involved fasting, prayer, a vision, a demotion, and yielding to God’s will. To the natural mind these variables might seem insignificant, but not to me.  Somehow this time was different. Whether intentional or not, God allowed me to walk away with some truths that cannot be ignored. Here they are: communication with God is needed especially in times of transition; visions make clear those things that appear to be a blur; bigger is not always better; and there is no greater satisfaction than finding God’s will in life. For me those ingredients add up to the gift of a father’s legacy.   

Sunday, June 14, 2015

No Back Moves

In his book, “The Luggage of Life”, Dr. Boreham has a chapter titled, ‘Back Moves.” He begins by recalling an incident that happened to him in his own home.  He was sitting reading by the fireside.  His children were playing a game at the table.  Suddenly the quietness was broken by one of the children calling out sharply, “You can’t do that.  There are no back moves.” No back moves? Is this true?  While it may not be absolute with everything, it is in relation to life.  None of us has the luxury of living our lives over. If we could I’m sure there are multitudes of things we would change, but it’s just not possible.  That being said we begin to understand why the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the oft quoted words concerning the sinful; “their sins and iniquities l will remember no more.”  When you can’t step backward the only other alternative is to move forward, and the initiative that allows us to do that is forgiveness.  It is only through this medium that we can go back in time and transcend the past. So, the next time you hear that all familiar voice whispering in your ear, “there are no back moves” tell him it’s not so. Bring correction by saying, “for you this is true but not for me.” The removal of those things formerly held against me has been made possible by Christ, the redeemer of my past, present, and future.”  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

He sat Beside Me

A few years ago I made a trip to Israel with my brother. Since it was such a long journey I booked our seats together and made sure mine was an aisle. The day arrived and we flew out of Knoxville without a hitch. However, when boarding our connecting flight I suddenly realized our seating was incorrect. For some reason everything had been switched.  Ken was near the window and I wound up in the middle next to a stranger who had the aisle--my seat! I’ve heard of people in church getting upset because someone sat in their place and on this day I was like one of those disgruntled members. The last thing I wanted was to spend thirteen hours crunched between two robust men. That within itself would have been enough but it got worse.  The man sitting beside me was completely inept when it came to personal hygiene. The sweaty body odor was so bad it made me nauseas. It took away my appetite and ability to rest with any sense of comfort.  Needless to say I was not a happy camper. I moaned, complained and thought “if I had a bottle of cologne this dude would be experiencing a baptism right now and it would not be in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Was I ever thankful when we landed and disembarked the plane. While remembering that experience a few days ago the Lord began to speak to me. He said “that’s exactly what happened to me when I entered earth and sat down beside you. The smell of sin was unbearable but yet I refused to change seats; and you need to know it was not out of obligation but because of love.” Having heard the Lord’s voice it gave me a whole different perspective and suddenly I was thankful that a stranger sat beside me. I realized once again it is by God’s grace that the repugnant is turned to righteousness, and the rank to the smell of the rose. For that I am forever thankful!      

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lest We Forget

We have just celebrated Memorial Day; a day set aside for us to remember. Being forgetful can be a good thing especially when certain memories are focused upon our sinful past. However, remembering those who sacrificed their service and lives for our freedom is something we should never forget. That’s why we stop and pay reverential honor to those men and women in the military who are presently serving or have served our country.  Their sacrifice is greatly appreciated. But this is also a time to reflect upon and memorialize the one who fought, died, and secured the forgiveness of our sins. Without His selfless service we could have never been promoted to the position of kings and priests becoming righteous in God’s sight. I think the following story says it best. A certain Persian king was elevated from a poverty-stricken home to the glory of a royal throne. After he became king he sent his servants to the old shack where he was reared, with orders to gather every relic of those days. They brought fragments of his home: many broken toys, his patched shirt, a crude wooden bowl from which he ate, and numerous worthless mementos of his childhood. All these he arranged in a special room of his palace, and each day he spent one whole hour sitting among the memories of his humble past. On the wall hung a prayer: “Lest I Forget!”  Should our story not be the same as this king? God has brought us so far and blessed us with so much. We should be filled with gratitude and always cautious “Lest we forget.”

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I’m Not Budging

Have you ever heard anyone use the statement “I’m not budging?” Normally we hear words like these when someone wants their way on a matter. However, such a stance has proven more than once to be devastating.  For instance, in the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction-or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late. Was this not the case with King Saul when he refused to obey the command of God regarding the Amalekites? Was his attitude not the reason he was rebuked by Samuel and told “stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” In other words it’s as evil as it gets. The problem is we so often attribute such feelings as being inherent in the worst of sinners. Not true! I more often than not find myself wrestling with this culprit wanting to have my way. God speaks I refuse to listen; He gives a command I fail to obey. In essence by yielding to this inner sanctum of the will is to say “I’m not budging.” And if the truth be known you have been guilty of the same.  Added to it is the irony of such resistance. Are we not to treat the enemy with this kind of behavior rather than our Father who loved us and gave Himself for us?  Saul lost his kingdom due to being stubborn and so do we. God’s will is to enthrone rather than to dethrone. He wants us to be kings and priests but the only way to do that is to have the attitude of Jesus which was one of a submitted will. He refused to budge in respect to the Father’s will and word. Oh yes the words “I’m not budging” was certainly in His repertoire. When the devil tempted Him, the religious crowd ridiculed Him and His friends doubted Him He wouldn’t budge.  Having this level of stubbornness is the recipe for success. But used in the wrong way will result in certain defeat. How are you using yours?    

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I want to be a Hit Man

Over the last few days I have been reading what I call a pleasure book. Those are the ones that fit into the less than spiritual, theological category. The aversion helps me to momentarily escape the world of endless responsibility and obligation. The journey during this particular read carried me into the life of an ex-mafia leader.  Needless to say each page was filled with excitement and intrigue.  The leader’s sinister lifestyle involved wire fraud, gambling, tax-evasion, and brutality. While any of the aforementioned was bad enough for judgment the most hideous of sins was the hit put on people’s lives.  And while this leader never ordered a personal hit on anyone he confessed that it happened often.  The knowledge of one ordering the death of another person was not a surprise. Some of the greatest hit men of all time are read about in the bible. Pharaoh ordered the deaths of hundreds of Hebrew babies.  Herod upon being deceived after the birth of Christ put a hit on every Israeli child two years old and younger. Saul before he became Paul put a hit on Stephen. All of these did so because of fear and insecurity. Those kinds of emotions can result in a person doing some desperate things. Strangely enough I want to be a HIT man. However, my desire is not to bring physical or emotional harm but to act in faith—the kind Robert Schuller talks about in his book “Be Happy You Are Loved.”  It’s an occupation that refuses to surrender in defeat.  It’s the kind of faith that says, “I’m not going to give up! I’m going to be an H.I.T.—Hang-In-There person. Things will turn around.”  Such a lifestyle is not void of suspense. When one chooses to be a HIT man the enemy will always present challenges. Yet, in the end it’s worth it.  Like the Mafia, God is always looking for recruits. But He needs those who will beckon to every command refusing to back down. Would you like to a H.I.T.—Hang-In-There-Person?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Vapor of Life

In the book of James we find an often used passage. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” Normally we hear it read and addressed at funerals or in evangelistic settings.  And although it may seem like a strange passage to write on in reference to Mother’s Day, I think it’s very appropriate. Let me explain why. When thinking about the life of Jesus a few days ago I found it really interesting that in Scripture, his life is presented to us in three brief segments. There is his birth, his trip to the temple when twelve, the start of his ministry and then his death somewhere around the age of thirty-three.  While it could be said the Holy Spirit chose to limit total disclosure of his life, in this blog I would rather like to think He did so for a purpose--to show us the brevity of life. Life passes so quickly. I can’t believe my son just turned forty and my daughter will be 37 in a few days. I can’t believe our oldest grandchild is 16, old enough to have her own car.  Time flies by! The weeks and years pass so fast.  Mary at some point may have said, “Wow where did the years go.” Jesus himself may have thought “my goodness I can’t believe my life has passed by so quickly.” In any event because of its brevity I think we should take note especially when thinking of Mothers. Moms I would encourage you to cherish every diaper changed, bottle washed, ballgame attended, conversation held, and every picture taken. That two-year old will turn twenty-two in a vapor. Sons and daughters take note of the deeds done; prayers prayed, words of wisdom spoken, trips taken and hugs given. Your mother’s dark hair will turn a distinguished gray and her fair skin will wrinkle with age in a vapor.  Given this reality for those of you whose mother has already passed on take every opportunity to reflect upon the good times and the legacy she left you. For the rest who continue to be blessed by her presence, take advantage of every occasion to communicate your appreciation and love; because in the end all the time spent will seem like a vapor. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Excess Weight

August 10, 1628 was a dark day in naval history.  On that day the royal warship Vasa set out on her maiden voyage.  The ship’s builders had worked two years on the magnificent vessel. This pride of the Swedish navy lavishly decorated and holding 64 canons sank only one mile out to sea. What went wrong? The excessive load was too heavy to make her seaworthy. Excess weight pulled the Vasa to the bottom of the ocean. When you think about it we all wrestle with the temptation of taking on too much weight. Physically we hear people say, “I’ve got to shed all these extra pounds.” The same can be heard in the spiritual. “I’ve got to back away from a few things.” Both can be life threatening if not addressed.  Due to the physical threat we have become bombarded with health conscious programs and products. Also, because of spiritual excess the writer of Hebrews through the Holy Spirit gave warning. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Whether it be in the flesh or the spirit weight loss is never easy. And while I am a guru of neither, wisdom tells me that I should draw upon the words of those who are.  What do the health experts and the bible have to say about losing weight? Take in plenty of liquid—water and Spirit; exercise often by utilizing tracks, treadmills and truth; eat a balanced diet of greens and grace; practice forgiveness daily; meditate, learn to say no, and last but not least resist the late night temptation to feast on carbs and sensuality that  pack on the pounds. This will move us from sinking to sailing because we have chosen to deal with those things considered excess weight.      

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Love’s Energy

Several years ago my wife and I while in Las Vegas decided to tour Hoover Dam. Needless to say it was a magnificent sight. During the visit we learned about the Dam’s construction and its generation of power.  However, there was something very intriguing that we discovered.  Although it has enormous turbines that are able to produce tons of energy it produces nothing if the gates are closed.  That means its ability to produce energy only happens when the gates are opened and water is allowed to pour through them. A similar truth came to me the first time I visited the Holy Land. The guide took us to the Sea of Galilee which is alive with fish; afterwards he showed us the Dead Sea which is dead—salty, incapable of supporting any life. Both are filled with the very same water from the Jordan River. However, there is a great difference between the two.  The Sea of Galilee gives all its water back. It takes the Jordan in from the north and gives it back to the river in the south. The Dead Sea takes in the water of the Jordan and holds onto all of it giving nothing back. The same can be said of love. It is only energized when given away.  Imagine a young bride being told she is loved by her husband but he never releases that love. Their marriage would lack energy because energy is produced by the gift of love. This is true of any relationship. Oscar Hammerstein in The Sound of Music said it best, “A bell is no bell til you ring it. A song is no song til you sing it. And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay---Love isn’t love Til you give it away.”  You want to be energized—love God and your neighbor as yourself. In other words give it all away, then you will experience love’s ultimate energy.        

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Walk of Faith

The story is told of a famous tightrope walker named Jean Francois Gravelet, who was known professionally as the Great Blondin. Blondin was famous for balancing on thin wires and walking across just about any chasm. No height or stunt was too great. On June 30, 1859, he became the first man in history to walk on a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Over twenty-five thousand people gathered to watch him walk 1,100 feet suspended on a tiny rope 160 feet above the raging waters. He worked without a net or safety harness of any kind. The slightest slip would prove fatal. When he safely reached the Canadian side, the crowd burst into a mighty roar. One reporter applauded his success and said enthusiastically, “I bet you could even do that pushing a wheelbarrow.” Sure enough, Blondin did. The reporter was blown away and exclaimed: “I bet you could even walk across with a person in the wheelbarrow.” Blondin replied. “If you’re so sure, hop in the wheelbarrow. You can be that person.” At that point the reporter’s faith waned and he declined. The ability to believe is a powerful thing. Yet, there is distinction between believing in something and believing it. For example, there are people who believe in airplanes, but they are afraid to fly. They say planes are a good thing, but they do not believe a plane will carry them safely to their destination. Similarly, there’s a big difference between believing in God and believing God.  Those who walk the walk of faith know that God exists but their belief goes far beyond that.  They know God can do all things. They’re not afraid to get in the wheelbarrow when the Creator is working on a tightrope and it doesn’t get too risky or outlandish for them to follow. They do not walk according to feelings but facts because they know the word of God is more absolute than mathematical equations or scientific speculations. He’s God and they are never afraid to trust Him.     

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Post Resurrection Scars

The subject of scars is one that everyone can identify with because most if not all bear the marks of one.  And it goes without saying every scar carries its own story.  That’s why the old adage “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” seems to apply to every generation. When you read scripture you find that Christ bore scars upon his body.  So did the apostle Paul who stated, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” If we took the time in any given family gathering or church service it would be amazing the stories that could be told as to how people received theirs. For many the memory of that story might produce great pain, especially, if those scars are connected with sin or some heart-breaking event.  This might be the case because we tend to look at our scars as being negative.  Yet, it’s amazing to me that after the resurrection Jesus appeared with scars in his hands, feet, and side. Being the Lord of glory, you know he could have reappeared without any indelible sign of physical abuse or death, but he chose not to. Just as amazing is the fact that He draws attention to his post--resurrection scars inviting the disciples to look and even to touch them. Why would he do such a thing? Roger Fredrickson in his commentary on John states, “These scars are the marks that prove the crucified Jesus is the risen Christ.  These wounds are also His credentials in ministering to all suffering humanity. They are the scars that the church, His body on earth, must bear if it is to continue the authentic ministry of Jesus.” In essence scars can be a good thing. The crucified Christ chose not to remove his scars but raise attention to them because they were proof of his overwhelming victory.  That’s why we the church must appear to the world not being marred but scared.  These scars are the testimony that we have weathered the storms of opposition and prevailed.  They are the witness of our victorious survival. In Jesus’ life they were evidence that the weapons of the enemy did not prosper, because even in death God gave deliverance.  This reality gives us great hope because when those struggling and battle weary ask “Is it possible to make it” our response can be “Yes! Let me show you my scars!”

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Resurrection—the Answer to The Six Foot Hole

I read recently about professional golfer Paul Azinger who was diagnosed with cancer at age 33. He had just won a PGA championship and had ten tournament victories to his credit. He wrote, "A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when. Everything I had accomplished in golf became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live.” Then he remembered something that Larry Moody, who teaches a Bible study on the tour, had said to him. "Zinger, we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living." Azinger recovered with chemotherapy returned to the PGA tour and did well. He spent almost 300 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking between 1988 and 1994 earning nearly $14.5 million in his career. But that bout with cancer deepened his perspective. He wrote, "I’ve made a lot of money since I’ve been on the tour, and I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but that happiness is always temporary. The only way you will ever have true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I don’t have problems, but I feel like I’ve found the answer to the six-foot hole." Is that not the truth Jesus was trying to convey to Mary and Martha at the tomb of Lazarus? His declaration of being the resurrection and the life provided the answer for the death of his beloved friend as well as for all of humanity. That’s why we feel encouraged during Easter. This day is not one of mourning but of celebration because we know that death may hound us but it will never hold us.  Because He lives we live also. In Him alone we find the answer to the “six foot hole.”  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

From a Zero to a Hero

Don't you just love those stories where inconspicuous people suddenly become hero’s? Their fame may come through a gift they give or a miraculous rescue they make. Regardless of how it happens it’s edifying to see them making the headlines.  Such was the case with the young colt the Lord chose to ride on Palm Sunday.  The story is given to us Mark 11.   “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; 2 and He said to them, "Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. 3 And if anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it,' and immediately he will send it here." 4 So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it.” In reading this passage one might get the idea that the Master’s choice was one of coincidence. However, Zechariah’s prophecy given centuries earlier proves otherwise. The colt was merely responding to its God appointed destiny; and what a response it was.  Although never ridden before the little donkey yielded in total obedience.  You never read where it bucked or stubbornly persisted in going its own way as many untrained subjects do. No, it simply walked giving heed to every command.  It chose to bear the burden of service without restraint.  In the minds of those lining the street that day, this little animal was doing what it had always done. However, only later do we find out it was doing what it had never done.  Because of obedience the colt indelibly etched its name in the greatest history book of all time—the Bible. In essence it went from a zero to a hero. You and I can do the same. It may appear as if our lives are inactive. We may feel as if we are simply tied to a post. However, as we wait and then respond to our time of destiny we will find ourselves doing incredible things, giving others something to talk about for years to come.        

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Till Death Do us Part

When this blog posts I will be on my tenth pilgrimage to Israel. There are so many sights and stories of significance in this incredible land. But the one that continues to amaze me is that of God’s betrothal. It’s hard grasp the depth of this kind of commitment when men and women today swap partners like swapping cars. In the words of Laurie Beth Jones, author of JESUS CEO, “We live in a world where the words ‘till death do us part’ have meaning for only half of the couples who recite them with all the sincerity they can muster.” However, with God they are not mere words. In spite of their idolatry, their blasphemy which led to the eventual crucifixion of His Son, and the continual rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, God remains faithful to them.  He has endlessly betrothed Himself to this people and will do whatever it takes to defend and protect His coveted possession. His love carries the same intensity as that portrayed by Jesus when conversing with the young rich ruler.  Although he knew the wealthy entrepreneur would walk away Mark says “Jesus looked at the young man and looking at him, loved him.” He did not withdraw His love because the young man walked away. Why? He continues to be obsessed with the ceremony.  The thought of “eventually but not now” preoccupies the Contractor of the universe. His commitment is one that is willing to wait until there is a change of mind.  Laurie Beth Jones sums it up like this:

Jesus never slammed a door or burned a bridge.  He said, “Just knock on the door and I’ll open it.”  He meant any time, any place.  He would be there…..No matter how long someone had been gone or what she or he had said on the way out.  He promised to be there. Every door is built with hinges… perhaps for eternal reasons. As a carpenter, Jesus must have built a lot of doors in his Father’s mansion. He knew that doors once shut could again be opened.

In other words His intent could be described with the Motel 6 slogan, “We’ll keep the light on for you.” The same can be said of us. The Jewish people are not the only object of the King’s affection, nor are they the only ones to put a sparkle in His eyes. Israel is favored by covenant, we by grace, which necessitates changing the proverbial vow “Till death do us part”, repeated during the wedding ceremony. Better said, it should be rendered “Till eternity do us part.” That’s commitment!  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Good Brother for Joseph

Have you ever had one of those moments when truth came crashing into your life? The revelation will often be encouraging but sometimes can leave you in a state of shock.  That’s what happened to me recently.  I was reading and reflecting upon the life of Joseph when it hit me. It came as I was relishing in the actions of his brothers and giving in to some pretty enlightening thoughts. Thoughts like: “Man, those guys had some deep-rooted problems; they could have used some serious family counseling.” Of all the issues they wrestled with the greatest were the green-eyed monster called jealousy and the spirit of envy.” Those hideous demons Vine and Webster describe as “the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others; feelings of apprehension or bitterness.” Such evil pretenses led them to sell their sibling into slavery. The thought that he was more favored, blessed, and loved than they was unbearable. Oh the joys of looking out the window of humanity and basking in the faults of others! However, the scenery changes when suddenly you find yourself starring into a mirror. That’s when God delivers a “gotcha” moment; when it dawns upon you that you would have made a good character in the story.  Why? The answer for me was pretty apparent.  I realized that more often than not I wrestle with the same feelings. When praying for ministry success I find myself looking at others and asking the question “where is my favor, my blessing; God do you love them more than me?” In reality thoughts and utterances of thanks should be given. The true spirit of kingdom living is one that can celebrate in whatever gifts are given to others by God or man. It is when we can rejoice upon seeing our brother and sister wearing the coat of many colors that has been specifically designed for their life and ministry. After considering my own reflection in the story and offering a prayer of repentance, the thought dawned on me, I could still make a good brother for Joseph. I could be Benjamin—the youngest, the innocent one; the one who could hug his brother’s neck, celebrate his success and his lofty position without the trappings of envy and jealousy.  Which one would you like to be?         

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Thinking in a Different Way

Do you ever find yourself wishing God would explain in detail why he does what he does or allows you to experience what you do? Thoughts like this tend to surface especially when we are suffering or going through severe trials. Yet God just expects us to trust him. While we might imagine and formulate a list of reasons why we think it’s happening more than likely none that make our list will be correct.  Such lists can in no way ascertain the larger purpose God might have for our experience. In the book “Truth Matters” the authors suggest we try looking at things differently.

Think of it this way:  A basketball coach could call a time-out for any number of reasons at any different point in a ball game.  He might see a flaw in the opponent’s defense, for example, that he thinks his team could exploit with a hastily designed play. He might want to stop a flurry of momentum or a hot hand by one of the opposing players.  He might use it to try icing a free-throw shooter.  He might use it to stop the clock near the end of the half or regulation.  He might use it to force an instant-replay review of a questionable call by the officials. That’s six different options right there. Easy. And they’re all determined not by fixed logarithms but by the flow of the game, the nature of the opponent, the time left on the shot clock or the game clock – any of these factors and many others could dictate his purpose in asking for a stoppage in play.  Plus it’s all dictated by the coach’s unique, personal knowledge of his players, his awareness of what each of them can do, what makes them perform best, what puts them in the best position to win the game. Why must God’s decisions be any different?

They continue by saying, “God is not bound by any list, nor is he under orders to treat every person or every problem in the same way.” That being said it leaves us to the element of trust—a belief that refuses to entertain any option other than the one of providential care. When you allow yourself to think of God as being a loving coach you know whatever the score might be He is calling every play in your life to assure the ultimate win!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In Search of Happiness II

In 1955 Walt Disney built Disneyland, an entertainment venue that would be called the “Happiest Place on Earth” and would revolutionize the way the world vacationed. The ever tenacious developer on the day of dedication delivered his address with these words: “To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” Since that jovial speech and the park’s opening millions have visited making it one of the touristy hot-spots in the world. In the park vacationers find four junctions called Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland—all tied together by a railroad that encircles it. They can get on and off the train at any stop, however to experience the full extent of happiness visitors are encouraged to make the circle. While it would be wonderful to think those visiting Disneyland found it to be the place for happiness, if the truth be known multitudes of parents, children, and friends visited yet left unhappy.  The weather was too hot, the lines too long, and the food too expensive.  They may have experienced periods of momentary jubilation but not unceasing happiness. The reason is simple.  The secret to finding this gift cannot be found in riding a roller coaster, watching a parade in the streets, or getting one’s picture with Mickey Mouse.  The key that unlocks the door to this emotion is found in Psalms. “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” An added secret is given by Jesus, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. “These are my commandments you will be happy if you do them.” Happiness is found in knowing and doing. Being free from guilt, judgmentalism, having self-worth and a feeling of accomplishment are all parts of the ingredient. These come by knowing and doing and result in one’s being able to say, “I am okay and so are you;” an equation that ultimately creates happiness.   

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dealing with Dust

In Luke chapter nine, Jesus gives his disciples some rather strange instructions. First, he commissions them to go into the community and minister. Then he tells them in verse 3 to "Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece.” That makes sense. Maybe he did not want them to become encumbered with a lot of stuff as they traveled or possibly he wanted to stretch their faith. But the strangest piece of instruction followed. “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them." Why is Jesus preoccupied with dust? I think the answer can be found when you look at its definition. According to the dictionary it is “fine bits of dirt or other matter that hangs in the air and settles on surfaces.” When you think about it nothing is more aggravating than dust.  My wife battles it constantly in our home. It settles on floors, furniture, clothes, and especially your shoes. It builds so silently so imperceptibly.  But we know that Jesus has more in mind here than mere fallen particles that settle on sandals.  If that is not the focus then what is? The answer can be found in a question.  “What happens to us when we face rejection?”  Back in the early days of my ministry I did a lot of door to door evangelism.  When I faced rejection it would inevitably leave me with two impressions; fear of going to the next house, or anger because I thought the treatment received was totally unjustified. Either feeling made it difficult for me to move to my next assignment.  Why? I had been offended. So in essence Jesus is telling the disciples to “shake off the dust that is the residue of offense and move on.” If they let it build it would only get worse. They could not successfully go to the next community until they had left the last. Experience lets us know you cannot embrace the future while being bound to the past. They may not have understood the principle immediately but they soon learned that you get the best results if you adhere to the words of Jesus. Effective ministry can only transpire as we learn to “DEAL WITH THE DUST!”

Sunday, February 15, 2015

It Might Be You

Don’t you love it when you can be the bearer of good news? A few days ago I shared the story of Tiny, the little dog we were trying to rescue.  If you remember he showed up on the front porch of an empty house beside our church seemingly out of nowhere.  All our efforts to rescue him had left us exasperated.  No matter what we did he avoided our attempts at trying to provide for him a safe and comfortable environment.  With the approaching cold days being forecast by the weather man, we became even more concerned about his welfare.  How would he survive? Then the miracle of miracles happened.  One of our neighbors was walking his little dog on Saturday when I happened to see Tiny following him. I could not believe my eyes. He had been so withdrawn and anti-social.  As I watched further he even made his way up the steps near the door of the guy’s apartment. Later when sharing with Art what we were attempting to do I asked if he would be willing to try and befriend the little fellow in an effort to catch him.  He agreed. Little by little over the next four days they began to bond until finally it happened.  Tiny went inside his apartment and stayed.  Needless to say we were overwhelmed with joy—the rescue was successful.  And you might be interested to know as I write this he is laying in his own bed next to my recliner. 

Also you might be asking “What is the point here?” Simply put, just like Tiny there are friends, family, and sinners abroad that are in need of rescuing.  While you have utilized every option in an effort to win them to Christ success has eluded you.  That’s the reason God calls individuals from every spectrum of society brings them into the kingdom and diversifies their gifts. He called a miss-fit Moses, a reluctant Gideon, a fiery Peter, and a loving John.  He commissioned witnesses with every personality type and from every strata of the economic scale. He knew one person’s failure would be another’s success.  What the rest of us could not do, a tender-hearted neighbor did with relative ease.  Consider the fact that there may be someone who is watching your steps whom others have tried for month’s maybe years to rescue but have met resistance.  Just think you may be the one who holds the key to their surrender. Why not lend a helping hand; it just might be you! 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

In Search of Happiness

This week we will celebrate Happy Valentine’s Day. While we take it all in, the question that will be asked most is, “Where can I find happiness and satisfaction?” Someone or something will be missing. Many may have the experience of the lady in the following story. “A young woman was taking an afternoon nap. After she woke up, she told her husband, "I just dreamt that you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine's Day. What do you think it means?" "You shall know tonight", he said. That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it. Inside she found a book entitled "The Meaning of Dreams". Don’t you know her day ceased to be a “Happy” one at that moment? You see it takes more than a necklace, a romantic card, a nice dinner, a dozen red roses, or a box of chocolates to attain happiness.  It takes more than wealth and fame. So many people are in pursuit of happiness but are failing to find it.  I think it is good to study the life and writings of Solomon, a man in biblical history that sought for the same but came up empty handed. And it’s important to note that he was not just any man. He was not a novice. He was the wisest and the richest of his day. When reading about his life you find he sought for happiness in knowledge, pleasure, and achievement.  He found he could not learn enough, drink enough, romance enough, earn enough, or create enough to make him happy. The same applies to us. A new town, a new car, a new house, or a new job will not give happiness; the reason being, it comes from the inside.  It has to do with an emotional and spiritual adjustment not a material, positional, or financial one. So, where does happiness come from? Solomon found that it came by his relationship with God, a truth his own father referenced in Psalm 144:15 when he wrote, “Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!”  If your search has left you empty and the answer remains an elusive secret, why not try God. He can touch your heart making this occasion a real Happy Valentine’s Day!  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Only Way

We have just closed out the football season with another Superbowl. Isn’t it amazing that coaches and teams spend weeks in preparation for the big day?  They watch films, study playbooks, and talk about their strategy in order to find the ultimate secret that will result in victory.   However, when the final whistle is blown signaling--game over, what is it that we hear? As is the case with most games commentators, coaches, critics and thousands of fans talk about the one play that decided the outcome--it’s called the game changer. Maybe it was a run, a pass, or going for it on fourth and one. When I think about it the same could be said in relation to our salvation. Of all the things Jesus did, his victory came down to one play—the garden of Gethsemane. You might say he was on the fifty-yard line and things could have gone either way. But at that moment Jesus decided to go for it; the reason, that was the only way. He refused to call upon the aid of angelic offensive linemen and refused to punt the ball into the hands of someone else. No, he called the play; “Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me, but not my will let yours be done.” That call was the game changer people have been talking about for centuries. It allowed him to win victoriously. The great preacher Clovis Chappell tells a story in his book “Questions Jesus Asked” that helps solidify my point.  “A few years ago a father was plowing in the field while his two small boys were playing nearby.  Suddenly he looked up from his work to see a huge dog coming toward the boys.  He recognized at once that the dog was mad.  Therefore he rushed to meet the oncoming beast, urging his boys to take refuge in a cotton bin.  Thus the boys were saved, but the father was bitten from his face to his feet. So completely was he poisoned that medical skill could do nothing for him.  But I am told that as the end drew near, in moments when he was free from delirium, he would smile into the face of his wife and say: “Don’t you take it too hard.  Remember that the boys are safe and that there was no other way.”  By his sacrifice, Jesus stayed in the game took the beating and won. The win was more than a game and more than a single battle; he won our future. Although it results in winning many question the decisions of a player or a coach because in the heat of the moment they do not understand. Not dissimilar was the experience of Jesus, yet He called the play because that was the only way.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

If He Only Knew

Over the last few days my wife, myself, and a friend have been trying to capture a homeless dog.  He showed up on the front porch of a house beside the church just after the occupant passed away.  It’s rather strange that he seemed to appear out of nowhere.  Since he was nameless and we had no knowledge of his history, Phyllis decided to call him Tiny; a name that is more than suitable for his small size.  In our attempt to win him over we have discovered a few things. He is very fearful, anti-social and lacks trust. Yet, on the other hand his intelligence and survival skills far exceed his stature. We have tried feeding, talking, and trapping in an effort to rescue him but have had no success. When we try to approach him he runs off the porch to the back of the house or to the neighbor’s yard. When we set the trap he avoided it completely as if he knew our intentions.  All our efforts have left us exasperated; we have run out of options. On the way to church this morning Phyllis looked over, saw him in his usual place and gave a heart touching response. “If he only knew, he could live like a king.” Words were never truer spoken.  Any dog that finds itself at the Bewley’s is treated as royalty. Our pets are fed when hungry, nursed when sick, and pampered when in need of attention; “If he only knew.” His world could change with just one act of obedience.  This reminds me of the occasion when Jesus tearfully stood looking upon his beloved people and uttered the following words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” (Matthew 23:37 NLT) Their Messiah wanted to rescue them but they fought the very initiatives that could bring deliverance.  Could not the same be said of us? God reaches out to embrace us, to love us, to save us, yet we pull away in distrusting fear. His only intent is to provide safety and to treat us like kings; “If we only knew!”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It all comes Down to Desire

Do you remember the episode in the Bible where the Disciples miserably failed in an attempt to deliver a demon possessed boy? Jesus accepted the challenge completed the task and moved on. Later his defeated emissaries asked the question that has been posed for centuries. “Why were we unsuccessful?” His response was “this kind only goes out by fasting and prayer.” He goes further to address their lack of faith which I believe addresses a much greater problem and that is “the lack of desire.” Notice how the writer of Hebrews describes the prayer life of Jesus. “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him (5:7 NLT). That doesn’t sound like the way most prayers are offered up by believers these days.  Mere listening causes us to confess that our praying often lacks passion, power, and productivity. We hear no pleading, no loud cries, and see no tears. Yet, if we are going to be successful, it requires that we fast and pray with unfettered desire. As E. M. Bounds expresses in his book, Man of Prayer;
        Desire gives fervor to prayer.  The soul cannot be listless when
        some great desire fixes and flames it . . .  Strong desires make
        strong prayers . . . The neglect of prayer is the fearful token on
        dead spiritual desires . . . There can be no true praying without

John Eldredge in his book Desire states, “We don’t pray like Jesus because we don’t allow ourselves to be nearly so alive. We don’t allow ourselves to feel how desperate our situation truly is. We sense that our desire will undo us if we let it rise up in all its fullness.” So what was Jesus saying to his disciples? Fasting and praying that impacts humanity and gets results is the kind where desire is at the optimum level.  It’s more than ritual or a seasonal exercise. It becomes our heartbeat. It becomes something we want to do rather than a task we are asked to do.  Ministry calls upon us to fulfill a variety of assignments.  However, like the disciples there will be those occasions when we will meet challenges that bring inevitable defeat unless we are filled with unquenchable desire. This desire will allow us to face every assignment without ever having to ask “why were we unsuccessful?”

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It’s not just a Ritual

As I write thousands associated with the church world are participating in 21 days of fasting and prayer. Many I’m sure have already been approached by the enemy with the question, “Isn’t this just a temporary ritual that has no lasting impact? Why continue?” If you remember it did not take the devil very long at all to present himself with questions once Jesus was driven into the wilderness. All of which I might add were an attempt to bring doubt and discouragement. However, Jesus remained focused. Why? He knew this act of dedication was far more than a ritual. Quite possibly he thought of the words his Father had relayed to the great prophet Isaiah. "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail….Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken." With this promise it is no wonder the enemy pushed for abandonment. With this promise it is no wonder why Jesus was so resistant and determined. The infinite Savior knew that a season of temporary inconvenience would result in permanent blessings. And we see those demonstrated throughout his ministry. Destinies were forever changed because he obeyed.  The same will be manifested in our lives. Be tenacious in your commitment and know that what you are doing far exceeds the ritual.     

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It’s Unbelievable

A few days ago I drove to Mississippi to pick up my daughter and grandchildren for the Christmas Holidays. On our return trip we happened to make a bathroom stop for Brody the youngest.  When he came out of the restroom and returned to the car, he said “Momma I saw something mysterious. Somebody drew a picture of a naked woman on the wall.  I turned around and saw it momma.  Why would someone do that? That’s just not right.”  He went on to give a description by pointing to his sister while saying, Momma I saw this and that.  Stacy stopped him and said, “That’s enough details, let’s leave it there.” Although the seven year old did not have an understanding as to why someone would draw such an obscene picture, in his little mind he did have enough discernment to know that this just wasn’t right.  Of course in years to come he will have a much greater grasp of the truth which will bring enlightenment.  However, for now we can find the answer in the book of James.  Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. The flesh when yielding to lust thinks and does the unbelievable. However, when surrendered to God it behaves the opposite. It thinks in terms of what is pure and righteous; meaning its artistic renditions are those absent of shock to the viewer. They are ones that create praise, resulting in what I would call the “believable.”