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.”