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.