Tuesday, January 30, 2007

But God #10

But God #10

...but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -- Romans 5:8; English Standard Version

I just watched End of the Spear. I recommend it. It is the story of Nate Saint's family and their attempt to show God's love to the Waodani people in Ecuador in the 1950's. For their efforts, Nate Saint and three other missionaries were murdered by the people they sought to reach.

In the movie Nate Saint, as he lay dying, to one of the Waodani people said (in the Waodani tongue), "I want to be your sincere friend." As near as anyone knows those were Nate Saint's dying words.

Before leaving on one of his attempts to reach those people Nate Saint's son urged him to defend himself with guns should they be attacked by the Waodani peoples. Nate Saint refused noting that he and his fellow missionaries were prepared to meet God, but the Waodani peoples were not. They did have firearms when they were killed at the ends of spears, but the missionaries did not use them.

Amazing.

What love!

Later on Nate Saint's sister, wife and Jim Elliot's family lead some of the Waodani people to Christ. In 1995 Nate Saint's son moves to Ecuador to continue ministering to the Waodani people, continuing his father's work and his recently deceased Aunt Rachel's work. Nate Saint's son actually forgives and ministers to the very man who murdered his father.

This is the most beautiful of all "But God" devotional thoughts. While we in rebellion against God; while we turned our backs to Him; while we sinned against His holiness...HE LOVED US!

It was not empty talk of love that, but GOD ACTED, giving us Christ's life and paying for our sin. He showed us His love while we were at war with Him.

He didn't wait for us to "straighten up". He didn't wait for us to turn to Him. He didn't wait until we deserved it (we never would).

In the grandest, most tender demonstrations of love the world has ever known, God proved His love to people who could care less; worse, to people who were His enemies.

We, who deserved the end of the spear or the cross' nails, were shown love through Christ Jesus.

We war. We hate. We rebel. We sin. We ignore.

But God...

Monday, January 29, 2007

But God #9

But God #9

And he said to them, You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. -- Acts 10:28; English Standard Version

I am going to tell you something about myself that I absolutely HATE to admit. I used to be a racist. You might think that, being a Caucasian man from the "Old South", I was racist towards black people. Nope. I was often misunderstood as such because of my former wearing of a Confederate kepi most of my way through high school and a few years beyond; that was completely due to my personal, historical affinity to the styles of the nineteenth century. Nope; I was racist towards peoples of Asian heritage. Now, I could "justify" my racism in the fact that many men in my family served in horrible wars against the Vietnamese, Koreans and Japanese. I was constantly bombarded by racist thoughts and comments about Asian peoples.


I was never really comfortable with it. I could clearly see my own hypocrisy, but I learned to live with it; even to embrace my racist attitude. I would pass by an Asian person and suggest something to them, such as "GO HOME!" (Funny thing I realized...I bet there are a great many Native Americans that would like to tell my Western-European hind-parts the same thing!)

A "strange" thing happened while I was in the army in South Korea. A fellow soldier--a kind, Korean Christian gentleman--became my roommate in the barracks. His family had been led to Christ by missionaries from the "Old South." Added to that irony, he thought those missionaries had come from North Carolina, my home state.

Hmmmm....

I began to think rather deeply about my racist convictions. This was even before I surrendered to Christ.

One of the very first things I came under deep conviction about when I did surrender to Christ was those racist attitudes. God broke me and healed me and I will forever be thankful.

Here lies the "But God" thought of the day...

We all have these social, familial, historical, cultural, experiential, religious, and self-created ideas about a lot of things...BUT GOD.

The Apostle Peter was raised as a "good Jew". He didn't mingle with any persons but other "good Jews". Messing around with Gentiles was bad juju! (Yes, pun intended!)

But, here, in today's verse, that is precisely what Peter is doing. He is mingling with Gentiles. Oooooo! Do you know what it took to break all that Peter had been taught about Gentiles? It took a vision from God!

We MIGHT have a vision from God. I have certainly had a couple of dreams in which God confronted me! Most likely a good dose of God's word will serve as proper confrontational material.

I could spend all night typing examples of stuff we believe, think or do that we could find ample "justification" for. There is really no need for that. We KNOW we believe some things that run contrary to what God would have us believe. And, we will probably be discovering more things as long as we have breath.

The question is not "if" we disagree with God on certain issues. The question is will we change when we realize it?

Racism is wrong. Divorce is not in God's will. Gossip is a sin. Pornography is iniquity. Gambling is a sin. Drunkenness is a sin. Selfishness, adultery, greed, laziness, waste, pride, arrogance...

Need I go on?

All of these are socially acceptable in our society. Some of these things are even mistakenly believed to be commendable.

But God...


Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Fragments by YFC President Dan Wolgemuth

January 26, 2007

$75 million. That’s what the Denver Post reported that the leading presidential candidates would be working to raise and spend before the national conventions next summer. The announcements of the candidates were timed to optimally facilitate the cultivation of these funds. If one candidate gets too much of a head start, he or she can gain financial momentum that would be nearly impossible to overcome.

$75 million is a tremendous amount of money. This is especially true when you realize that this is not to actually become the President of the United States, but simply to prove to the public that you are an appropriate candidate for your party. It’s believed that these dollars are required to prove personal credibility, political viability, and public electability. It’s an enormous price tag to prove that a candidate is qualified.

Being qualified is no small matter. God certainly understood this. That’s precisely why He inspired the apostle Paul to write in Colossians 1:11,12...

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father; who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (ESV)

God knew that our future was doomed. He knew that our resume, that our experience, that our education would never measure up… and so He personally stamped “Qualified” across our request at incredible expense. In fact, at an expense that makes campaign fund raising look like child’s play.

In this promise God declares that this action belongs to Him alone. The demands of legalistically pursuing qualification are both unnecessary and impossible. We will never and could never.

We’re qualified. Period. So our behavior, our obedience, our lives are no longer lived on the campaign trail. We’re no longer kissing babies for the photo opportunity, we’re not shaking hands for the sake wooing, we’re no longer giving speeches to manipulate, and we’re not working to convince… we’re qualified.

Consequently, we obey out of love. Our actions are a reflection of who we are, not what we’re trying to prove. Our motivation is liberated to reflect the transformation of unconditional love.

$75 million just to prove we’re qualified… and it’s not close to enough. But we know what is and that propels us to love and live in holiness and obedience… not to prove we’re qualified, but to demonstrate that we are, by God’s grace.

Glory!









But God #8

But God #8

But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven... -- Acts 7:42a; English Standard Version

I don't recommend the following, but it is funny.

My brother used to do that thing that older siblings are known to do where they don't actually touch you, but they put their hand or finger near you and say, "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!" Honestly, it bugged me to no end, but I didn't want to let him know it. I put up with it for quite a while. One day while he was doing that, quite unexpectedly, I hit him in the face! He never saw it coming! (Of course, for the record, my brother kicked my butt for that, but I felt better.)

This is another of the sobering variety in the "But God" family of devotions. It's point, which I want to state up front, is very simple. Just because someone has ignored something for a little while does not mean they will ignore it forever.

My brother picked on me a lot growing up and I ignored him much of the time, but every once in a while I would erupt. Usually I would do something he never saw coming. I could tell you all kinds of stories that would keep you in stitches. Usually he whipped me royally afterwards.

The verse above is taken from Deacon Stephen's testimony that he offered before being martyred. In that sermon / testimony Stephen reminded his countrymen, who were about to kill him for believing in Jesus as Messiah, of their very long history with God. The verse above recounts the time in the Wilderness when the Nation turned away from God. Stephen had reminded them of how uniquely called they were and how God had delivered them from Egypt and how they had turned from God in spite of His goodness toward them.

This is one of those "But God" moments that I never want to hear in my life for as long as I live. This is the type of "But God" that indicates that God had gotten tired of the people's foolishness and turned them over to their own devices. The people were offering their worship to creation rather than the Creator.

We think we are immune to this kind of thing these days. Surely no person, here in the sophisticated confines of America, will worship a pole, a golden calf, or a statue, would they? Sure, they would. Worse than that are the masses that play with God on a daily basis, offering Him lip-service for devotion, but truly giving their lives to _________. You fill it in; the possibilities are endless. It is far more subtle than bowing down to a golden statue and ten times more dangerous.

The most frightening thing to me is the possibility that God will remove His presence from me. I can still remember life without Him and it stunk!

People who think they can do "whatever" and that God will ignore them forever are sadly mistaken. Sooner or later God will do something! He will not act like a petty human. Far worse than a butt kicking, at least in my mind, is that God will just leave me to do whatever I want to do. That He might remove His favor from my life is enough to terrify me, but to remove His presence? Wow! I don't even want to consider that!

There is some urgency here. We CAN continue to deny God. He MIGHT let it go on for years. He MIGHT not. Just because He doesn't immediately punish sin does not mean that He never will. For me, that is eerily sobering.

We might go on for years ignoring God, giving Him lip-service, playing religious games, giving our first and best to other things or _______.

But God...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

God #7

But God #7

And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. -- Luke 16:15; English Standard Bible

I've always heard it said that you can't judge a book by its cover. I could tell you a thousand stories of how I've seen this proved true. Some have been very disturbing.

Let me tell you a funny one though. I used to dabble in the fight game a bit. I was scheduled to spar with this little gentleman. I took one look at him and thought, I am going to pound this guy! Let me tell you something...the bell sounded and that little guy hit and kicked me about seven hundred and eighteen times before I could say "Good luck!" Yep, I got fooled by that cover!

There is absolutely nothing funny about today's "But God" devotion. It's about seeing the "real you", just as God sees you.

There are a great many people today who put on a religious act that is an "abomination" to God. I want to be as straight and sincere with you dear people as I possibly can. The people who put on a fake life to impress others are like bad books with pretty covers. The substance of what's inside will come out, and even if it never does to people the Great Reviewer in heaven will open it and reveal all one day. Such a life can be filled with all the frills grammar can afford and say nothing of interest to Him who sees through the fancy language and into empty appearances of importance.

I long for people to just be real with me. I want people to simply be themselves. Lost people are easier to deal with sometimes because they are just being lost. Lying, selfishness, hiding their real identities are all "normal" things.

I cannot imagine how God must feel about such things. You see, people can fool me. I am pretty gullible. Most anyone can pull the wool over my eyes. It's not that way with God.

When Jesus confronted those religious leaders He called them out big-time! Particularly, He scolded them about their attitude toward money, but the principle applied to many things. At one point Jesus issued this scathing indictment: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27; ESV). What a incriminating statement for those that play at religion and holiness!

God knows the hearts and motives of every single person's acts and thoughts. That is a sobering truth.

Let's play dress up, go to church and smile and let the world think everything is okay. Let's pretend to love God and honor every ritual known to man. Let's find some kind of justification for every sin we enjoy.

Or let's just get real.

Sure, we can pull off the game with our church members, friends, coworkers, and even most of our family (though we only THINK we are fooling many of them). We can do it, at least for a while. We can fool the world and even ourselves.

But God...

But God #6

But God #6

But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? -- Luke 12:20; English Standard Version

In MY best estimation, there are three things that will cause a person to look seriously at their lives: (1) A traumatic experience, such as a near-death experience, or an unexpected, dramatic change in one's circumstances, such as one losing one's employment and not being able to secure new employment or any of many other traumatic possibilities. (2) A BRUTALLY honest life inventory; this is a time when we look with complete, open honesty at what we have done in and with our lives. I know there are many people who have sought help through Alcoholics Anonymous who have done this. (3) An encounter with the Living God.

The third is the most productive and I have heard many testimonies that the first two listed above were simply circumstances that God used to cause the third.


Personally, by way of testimony, I went through all three at once and KNOW it was God getting my attention turned to Him.

Today's "But God" moment is taken from a parable that Jesus told in Luke 12:16-21. Jesus told a parable of a farmer who was very self-centered and thought of God but very little. Here is the whole passage: And He told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops? And he said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God (ESV - emphasis mine). Note all of the personal possessive pronouns the man used. I call it the "I-me-mine-complex". The only time the farmer said "you" was when he was talking to himself!

Here is the blunt truth of this "but God" devotion; we can live our lives as we wish, "BUT GOD" will have us give an account of how we have lived. The question will be simple: Have we lived in respect of Him?

The man in Jesus' parable lived for himself and gave no thought to God.

Many of us do no differently today. We build. We tear down. We plant. We reap. We buy. We sell. We pursue riches. We enjoy them. We inventory our stuff and get more. It's all about self.


But God...

This is perhaps one of the simplest AND most challenging thoughts one could have; whether we live to self or give thought to God.

Sure, we can do whatever we want, that's a fact. One day the books of our lives will be opened and fearless audit will ensue.

One who is "rich toward God" is one who puts God first in their affections. When that happens, those affections will drive one's actions. Such a one will store up riches in heaven and do much good to others between now and the day God calls them home. Such a person gives ALL into the hand of God and trusts God for the keeping of such.

Yes, we CAN do whatever we want. We can spend every moment of our lives figuring how we might please ourselves. It doesn't have to be that dramatic; we can spend the majority of our time on ourselves. Even more subtle, we can just ignore God. We can consciously or unconsciously pretend He doesn't know or care what we are doing. We can simply not intentionally seek Him.

I don't want to wait for another traumatic experience. I want to continually encounter the Living God and be completely, brutally honest with Him and myself. I never want to come to the end of my rope again before I look to Him.

The farmer never sought God. Till his dying breath the farmer's thought was "Me!"

But God...

Interesting article

Here's a sampling...

Chaplain Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt has been court-martialed and dismissed from the U.S. Navy. His crime? Praying in Jesus' name in uniform outside a chapel. You read it right. After 15 1/2 years of exemplary service, Lt. Klingenschmitt is being drummed out of the Navy.

Now, compare what the Navy has done to Lt. Klingenschmitt to this report from WorldNetDaily. "[T]he Pentagon recently promoted a Wahhabi-trained Muslim chaplain who catered to al-Qaida detainees at Guantanamo and fought to establish the first Mosque in Marine Corps history."

Read the rest of this article here... http://www.newswithviews.com/baldwin/baldwin343.htm

Monday, January 22, 2007

But God #5

But God #5

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. -- Psalm 73:21-28; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)

Please, go back and slowly soak in those verses above; they are simply beautiful.

My two-year-old, Rachel, does this really cute thing all the time; she will say, "I'm a girl. You are a boy, Daddy." I don't know why she does it, but it's cute! She'll also call someone's name out and indicate their gender as well. For example, she'll say, "Katie's a girl. Mommy's a girl. Daddy's a boy." None of this is relevant to today's devotion; I'm just a dad that loves his little girl.


Perhaps I thought of that because I was thinking of people that knew who and what they were. Rachel is very petite for her age. Just as she notes gender differences she will also indicate size differences. She will say, "I'm little, but I'm a big girl. You big, Daddy!" She also reminds me that, "You got a big belly, Daddy." (Then she'll slap me on my belly! GREAT FUN!)

I love it when Rachel grabs my finger to lead me somewhere (jabbering all along the way). My finger fills her entire little hand. The other night Rachel came into my office, led me into Katie's room, and said, "I need the stool." It's a little stool, so I said, "You can move that. You don't need me!" To wit, Rachel replied, "You big, Daddy. You can do it."

I love moments like that! It's not that Rachel necessarily needed me, it's that she wanted me. She was strong enough, but preferred my ability over her own. (Conversely, I hate it when I KNOW she is just being lazy!)

All of that may just be "daddy talk", but my kids get me to thinking about my heavenly Father a lot of the time. It's a comforting thought to think at times: "You are God. I am not." Also, I often think, "I just need You, Dad...I just need You." I want to get to the point that Rachel is; she calls on me as much when she WANTS me as when she NEEDS me. To the average little girl her dad represents much of her world. I want to come to the point when my Dad is ALL of my world.
That's the sentiment I see in today's passage. The average little girl is often surprised to find out that her dad can't do some things. The average little Christian (like me) seems to be surprised when they realize God CAN do something! Dads, like me, are VERY limited. My heavenly Dad is not!


So, where does this fit in with the "But God" theme we have been pursuing? It is the very comforting realization that the exact moment that every thing that makes up all that we are becomes exhausted is the same moment that we just begin to realize where God begins. The Psalmist was saying, "I may run out of energy; I may run out of good health; I may run out of ideas; I may run out...BUT GOD never will!"

It is the realization that we should come to, NOT when we have become exhausted, but BEFORE! We all know our weaknesses; that's no secret. Do we always realize our strengths? When we count those strengths (or if we count them), where do we number God in them?

I love John Gill's commentary on verse 26: "when overwhelmed with distress through outward trouble, or in the lowest condition with respect to spiritual things; when grace is weak, corruptions strong, temptations prevail, and afflictions are many; then does the Lord support and sustain His people, and strengthens them with strength in their souls; and in the moment of death, by showing them that its sting is taken away, and its curse removed; that their souls are going to their Lord, and about to enter into His joy; and that their bodies will rise again glorious and incorruptible". When all is lost there is always the "But God" factor!

When I face poverty I won't fear; though I may see no provision I can victoriously say, "But God!" When I face weakness, and see no strength dawning, I may securely say, "BUT GOD!" When the chips are down, when the white flag is being unfurled, when my knees buckle and my heart faints I may say with faith-filled confidence "BUT GOD".

Likewise, when my energy abounds, when the bank account is full, when life's sails are full of wind and no storm is in sight I can lovingly say "BUT GOD!"

I tell you friends, I get to the end of myself and the cable of hope from which I securely hang is the "But God" of His infinite ability. It is necessary for me to draw near God in my need. It is better to draw near Him in my abundance. That is to say, I want to depend on God even when my resources have not been spent! I want to depend on Him more than ANY OTHER THING ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET! I want to testify with the Psalmist, And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. What praise it must bring God when we cling to Him because of "desire" just as much as we cling in times of desperation.

I have made Him my refuge, even before danger comes. I have made Him my all, because my own all is nothing compared to Him and useless without Him.

Like Rachel wants her dad, though her ability is enough, I want to want my Father to be a part of all that I do. Even when I can, I want to consider how much more I could be if I would consider and involve "But God".

It is in the moments of fellowship we enjoy with Him when we have strength and resources that we become sure of Him when we don't. That way, when all seems lost (and at some point it will seem that way, if only in the valley of the shadow of death) we can grab hope and say...

BUT GOD!

Friday, January 19, 2007

But God #4

But God #4

But God said to me, "You may not build a house for My name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood." -- 1 Chronicles 28:3; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)

Have you ever seen (or been) a kid that tried to play one parent against another? I tried it a couple of times growing up, but never got far, so I quit. I remember asking my mom if I could go swimming once and she immediately asked, "What did your daddy say?" MAN!

Now my kids try to do it. My wife and I don't fall for it. We immediately will ask our children what the other said. Sometimes our kids will rebelliously try to press on with their plans. My wife will ask, "What did you daddy say?" I can hear Katie say, "I just wanna..." My wife will sternly break in, asking, "But what did your daddy say?"

That's what kind of "But God" this is. This can be a humbling kind of thing. This "But God" is the type where we want to do something, but God says something else.

We can take any example...imagine yourself getting out of a tight spot with your boss or parent by telling a "little white lie"...BUT GOD said, "you shall not lie" (Leviticus 19:11; ESV). Think about the far ranging effects of this type of "But God". Here's another...think of a person who believes they can live a "good" life and go to heaven, BUT GOD says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6; my paraphrase).

This is deep and far reaching...man makes plans, has ideas, proffers solutions, etc...BUT GOD has something to say about all of this.

Today's Scripture is a prime example. King David had built himself a wonderful palace and he realized that the Ark of the Covenant still abode in a temporary dwelling. David thought it only fitting that God's presence have a proper place, so he decided to build the Temple for the presence of God among the people. Good plan; nothing inherently evil about that, "But God said..."

This brought David's plans to a screeching halt! David's reaction to his very own "But God" is exactly how we should react. David stopped his plans and followed God's.

There are a lot of subtleties in this kind of "But God". There is a need to recognize God's authority and wisdom over our desires and limited views. There is a constant questioning of whether our desires match God's or do we need to repent and obey. There is a continual seeking to know if we should follow ours or the world's advice or consider the "But God" factor of determining what to do or think. And, of course, there is the great question of attitude upon realizing that a "But God" moment ruins our personal course.

It boils down to the same decision every little kid faces at some point: will we follow the "I just wanna..." or submit to the "What did your Daddy say?" There are always our plans, desires, and will to consider...

But God...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

But God #3

But God #3

But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. -- Exodus 13:18; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)

Recently I was playing golf with some friends in a charity tournament. We were perplexed about a certain situation we were in, wondering whether we would break the rules if we proceeded with that which we had in mind to do. There was no one around to ask at the moment. I reasoned that we should do one thing; one of my teammates agreed; one of my teammates thought we should pursue another course; the final teammate said he honestly didn't know what to do. As we reasoned one of my teammates suggested that another team had followed a certain course of action; I said that method would constitute cheating. There we stood, four Christian men, honestly wondering what to do. I said, "Listen, those guys have to sleep with their own consciences, but we have to answer to God." We agreed to pursue what seemed to be the most ethical course BECAUSE of our love for the Lord and His truth. The moment we agreed a tournament official came by; we asked which course of action was correct and he confirmed that we had selected the correct course of action.

Golf is a silly game and that was a long illustration to make what I hope to be a very good point.

In seeking what to do, where to go or in every decision of life we should consider the "But God" factor. In this case I am simply talking about entering God into every aspect of our thinking...even silly golf games.


Think of the Israelites wondering around in the Wilderness in the years between Egypt and the Promised Land. We often make it sound like they just roamed around from here to there; groping for direction. Not so! They had the "But God" factor in full effect!

Physically, they were literally following God by a pillar of fire at night and pillar of smoke during the day. Spiritually speaking, God gave them His law during this time and helped them figure out how to follow Him through it. They had physical, moral, legal, and spiritual leadership in God. Through that, God took all of the mystery out of discerning what to do in life.

Now, we often think our decisions are clouded by ambiguity, and we usually call such things "gray area". There are plenty of principles AND precepts to cover gray areas if we will but hunt them out. Not to mention the wonderful privileges of prayer and wise counsel. Also, in making moral decisions it is ALWAYS better to err on the side of caution until clarity comes.

Back to the point...it is clear that our lives should be led and ruled by the "But God" factor. In that I mean to assert that we should constantly consider what God would have us do. That should overrule logic and feelings.

I believe, like the Israelites, that God would NOT have us wondering around aimlessly. He desires to give us direction! Like the Israelites, we have God's law. Unlike the Israelites, we don't have God's presence going out before us (at least we don't have only that...as if only is not enough); we ALSO have the Spirit of the Living God in us! That is an important difference!

The points I want to make are simple...

I didn't know what to do with my life, BUT GOD did.

I don't know what do with a lot of things that are happening in my life, BUT GOD does.

I don't know what is going to happen between now and heaven, BUT GOD does.

I am not alone. I am not without purpose. I am not without direction. I am not without help. As long as I have breath I can seek God's face and presence and KNOW that He desires to intimately lead me where only He knows is right to go. I may DECIDE to go this way or that or DECIDE to do this or that...that is the wonder of free will...

BUT GOD...

Think about that for a moment.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

YFC Praises and Pleas

Youth for Christ Roxboro              Jan 17, 2007

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and
multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your
righteousness. 2 Cor 9.10

Praises: For the young man newly determined to behave so that he can come
to the Warehouse; for the opportunity to sit next to a teen at a computer
and discuss what he thinks about what is
on the screen; for the opportunity to plant seeds in their hearts and minds,
thank You, Lord. Only You, Father, can supply and multiply those seeds.
Thank You for doing that on a daily basis in Campus Life meetings, at the
Warehouse, in the lives of volunteers.

Pleas: Hearts with plowed soil to receive gospel seeds and the hoeing,
watering and fertilizing necessary to produce true disciples. Volunteers,
especially mentors, willing to come alongside these young people and help
them feel valued by You. For the rap group, Bible studies, Campus Life
meetings, guitar lessons, and nightly talks to be used by You, Lord, to do
Your will. Wisdom for our board and staff; new people to pray for YFCR; 15
board members; for Tim, Care and Brett to be fed, encouraged and challenged
at the international YFC meeting in 2 weeks; the March 27 banquet to further
the vision and bring You glory; for Secretary Sandra Whitt on Mercy Ships
and Cheryl Torrence, her temporary replacement; for Allies to build on their
unity and strength; for a ministry to 20s; DW; for Your continued
protection against the chief liar, thief and murderer and his schemes.

But God #2

But God #2

And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand. -- 1 Samuel 23:14; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)

I love "historical" movies. One of my favorites is Gods and Generals, which is an account of some of the events of the American Civil War (more correctly known as "The War of Northern Aggression" ;-p). It's not the best movie ever made, but I liked the way the movie portrayed the faith of Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. At one point bullets are flying all around him and Gen. Jackson is unfazed. Later he testifies, when asked how he kept so calm, that he had nothing to fear because God was the one that controlled whether he lived or died.

It wasn't portrayed as arrogance; rather it was portrayed as simple faith that trusted God.

That's the "But God" we see today. It's the "But God" kind of faith that lives a life that is NOT crippled by fear.


How many people spend much of their time worrying about this, that or the other thing? How many are made lame by worry, slowed down by insecurity, or literally disabled by different fears? I think there are many.

Today's verse comes from a time in David's life in which he was being pursued by Israel's first king, Saul. Saul wanted David dead. David hid in a mountainous region which provided much natural cover. He was surrounded by 600 men that were totally devoted to him (23:13). A person might say that David was pretty safe in Ziph and had nothing to fear from Saul. Phooey! It wasn't the naturally difficult terrain or the many men that stood behind David that insured his safety; it was the "BUT GOD" factor!

David had men. David had the security of a mountainous region in which to hide. None of those things stopped Saul! The Bible clearly says that Saul sought David every day, "but God did not give him into his hand." At one point Saul led 3,000 choice soldiers out to find David, but God preserved David. See, it's the "BUT GOD" factor!

We may make our plans, set up our defenses, hide in our places of safety, but, in all honesty, the only hope for any of us lies in nothing "BUT GOD". We may worry about the schemes of others; we may constantly fear the forces at work which are out of our control, but God is all we really need to get through ANYTHING.

No fear. No worry. No nail-biting-can-I-get-through-another-moment-of-this-rotten-situation / existence kind of debilitating weirdness of life. No; we stand in the face of a world that is crumbling around us, people who use us and a real devil that hates us screaming with utter joy from the top of our lungs, "I cannot defeat any of you, BUT GOD is over all and NONE OF YOU scare me!"

From the Wilderness of Ziph to the Stronghold of Engedi to the office of our boss to the line of our neighbors yard to feared whispers of a doctor's report and at every stop and twitch in between life is happening, BUT GOD has a proactive hand and an eternal plan. We must simply trust HIM. Yes, all the evil of the universe may plot and scheme against us, all the pain of life may hang over our mortal bodies, all the hate of sinful man may come against us, even the crumbling decay of nature may at any moment sweep us away in disaster, BUT GOD...

Left to my own devices I may wither. Planting my own defenses I may be overcome. Trusting my own wisdom I will be fooled. Relying on my own discipline I will fall. Counting on others to bail me out will often find me alone. But God, who is rich in mercy, will never change; will never forsake me, will always work in spite of what I or others do. Yes, depressed in the shadow of the valley of human despair, exposed on the plains of human weakness, and even in the mountain of human (so-called) strength I am confident in the "BUT GOD" factor.

I don't rely on me and that may be the best thing I've got going. I run out of ideas, strength, resolve and every other thing one could possibly muster, BUT GOD is inexhaustible; BUT GOD is ever-watchful; BUT GOD is truly in control.

Yes, I relish the thought that when all is falling apart, when all the odds are stacked against me I can whisper, shout, cry, or laugh my way to heaven's bank knowing nothing can come touch my account...BUT GOD.

Monday, January 15, 2007

But God #1

But God #1

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. -- Genesis 50:20; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)

I could literally tell you a thousand stories of things I regret. Some are stupid things I have done (yes, I said STUPID, because that's what they were!). I wrecked a motorcycle doing over 100 mph once and WALKED AWAY with hardly a scratch. I could tell you all kinds of stories of the way I mistreated people. I could tell you how I once got a ticket for driving under the influence. I could tell you that I went bankrupt once. I could tell you of countless bad decisions that got me in more trouble than I'd care to recall.

I could make a list of the things others have done TO me as well. But I don't even want to look back at what others have done to me when I can share plenty of idiocy that is my very own. Plus, what's the use of dredging up that mess anyway?

I am sure some of this blatant honesty surprises some of you. Trust me, if there was no point to it all that I felt may help someone I definitely would NOT want to share any of it.

Here's the deal...I have caused myself a lot of grief over the years, BUT GOD has taken many of the very things that were bad in my life and brought glory to Himself through them. That's the point of this "BUT GOD" devotion.


Take Joseph for example: his brothers sold him into slavery and he basically became the man in charge of Egypt. Joseph's brothers meant to do harm to Joseph, BUT GOD had plans for Joseph that went well beyond the pettiness of people.

Of course, it took years for Joseph to gain perspective in all that happened to him. I am sure that when he was marching to Cairo (or wherever) to be sold as a slave Joseph was hard-pressed to see the hand of God at work. I am sure that when Joseph was thrown in prison for doing nothing with Potiphar's wife it was hard to see that God had good things in mind for him. I am sure that as Joseph languished in jail for years, despite a friend's promise to help him, he was curious as to whether God had forgotten him too.

We get to a point in Joseph's life, as indicated in the above verse, that he realizes that no matter what kind of junk he'd gone through he had the "BUT GOD" factor working in his life.

We've all got the "BUT GOD" factor working in our lives. Sometimes it takes years to realize it. The fortunate few are those who are tuned into the "BUT GOD" factor and realize in the MIDST of horrible things that God is at work, even when we cannot see it.

There was a time when I couldn't see it at all. I look back on those times and see that I was on a path of total destruction, BUT GOD had a plan for me! Not only that, BUT GOD has so healed me and founded my identity in Him that I can even see where my bad experiences can be used to minister to others. For example, have you ever been bankrupt? Bless the Lord, I hope not! But, I am sorry to say, I have! I can sit in front of someone and say, "Hey, I am living proof that you can make it through this! You can't see the other side of this thing, BUT GOD can and does!" Do you get what I mean?

God cares about us. Our sin and the sin of others often has very adverse affects upon our lives. A life can swing on a dime in a moment's notice and the entire process can be recorded in two simple words...BUT GOD. He is the ultimate factor in bringing good from bad. He is the ultimate factor in making even the most mundane things of life, whether these things are good or bad, have eternal significance.

There has been much to regret in my life, BUT GOD stepped in and changed me forever. I look back at my life and say, "But for the grace of God things could be a lot different." I look at my life now and logically see my shortcomings and problems and simply face them without fear, because I can confidently say, "Here's what is in front of me, BUT GOD..." I look ahead at the dismal future of mankind and say, "I am not worried. I know mankind is headed for certain doom, BUT GOD..."

Are you cognizant of the "BUT GOD" factor in your life?

Friday, January 05, 2007

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As per our volunteer meeting of this past Tuesday a few changes need to be mentioned. The Warehouse will now be closing at 8 pm Monday Tuesday, and Thursday.

To better facilitate reaching our target audience we will now limit our clients to those ages 20 years and younger. However, we know it will take some time to bring this to fruition. Many adults have been coming to enjoy shooting pool and playing basketball. We fear their presence interferes with our main objectives, which is reaching the middle and high school age population. Now, we do understand that some of our clients are “older” but have a younger mental capacity, so we want to respond to that group with loving care. For example, some group home workers bring their charges to visit the warehouse.

YFC National Service Center requires we keep an account of all volunteer hours. Ordinarily you have been signing in each time you volunteer. We will continue that but have refined the process to a degree. We have a volunteer schedule that will be kept in a green notebook at the reception desk. This new scheduling system will also further help us insure full coverage for al volunteer positions each night.

Thanks to this new scheduling system we know that…
we have need for volunteers on the following nights for the following areas at the Warehouse. If you can help contact the office at 503-9327 or twbowes@charter.net ASAP
Names highlighted mean time slot for that area is covered.


Friday 1/5/07 - Manager: Brett Carver
4-7 pm

Reception
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar
Fitness
Computer lab
Hang out
Whatever Jill Frisbie
Whatever Tim Bowes & Care Bowes
Mentor
Mentor

7-10 pm
Reception
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar Joel Miller
Fitness
Computer lab Stephanie Wert
Hang out
Whatever Tim Bowes & Care Bowes
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor


Saturday 1/6/07 - Manager: Brett Carver
1-4 pm
Reception
Gym
Skate Park
Snack Bar Linda Clayton
Fitness
Computer Lab
Hang out
Whatever Tim Bowes (will stay all day if needed)
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor

4-7 pm
Reception
Brittany Brown & Stephanie Brown
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar Lynn Brown
Fitness
Computer lab
Stephanie Wert
Hang out
Whatever
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor


7-10 pm
Reception Brittany Brown & Stephanie Brown
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar Lynn Brown
Fitness
Computer lab
Stephanie Wert (7-9)
Hang out
Whatever
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor


Monday 1/8/07 - Manager: Tim Bowes
4-6 pm

Reception
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar
Fitness
Computer lab Jerome Sedelmeyer (4-7)
Hang out
Whatever
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor

6-8 pm

Reception
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar
Fitness
Computer lab
Hang out
Whatever
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor

Tuesday 1/9/07 - Manager: Tim Bowes
4-6 pm

Reception
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar
Fitness
Computer lab
Hang out
Whatever
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor

6-8 pm
Reception
Gym
Skate Park
Snack bar
Fitness
Computer lab
Hang out
Whatever
Whatever
Mentor
Mentor

Thursday, January 04, 2007

This is our new Volunteer Schedule that will help alleviate several problems. It will help us to log volunteer hours and will make it easier to keep up with who is volunteering. If you look you will see that the night is split up into two shifts. This particular one it for a Friday night(as we will be closing at 8 during the week). You can choose which time slot that you would like to work and sign up for that slot. You can also sign up for both time slots to work one spot the entire night. Saturdays have been broken into 3 time slots 1-4,4-7 and 7-10.

Volunteer Schedule

Date:_____________________________

Activity____4:00-7:00____/___7:00-10:00

Reception_John Doe___/ ______________
Reception____________/ ______________
Gym________________/ ______________
Skate Park____________/ ______________
Snack Bar__Rob Roy___/ __Rob Roy_____
Fitness_______________/ ______________
Computer Lab_________/ ______________
Hang Out_____________/______________
Whatever_____________/ _Bob Jones____
Whatever_____________/ ______________
Mentor_______________/ ______________
Mentor_______________/ ______________



Church Team___________/ ______________
Church Team___________/ ______________
Manager on Duty_______________________

The only difference between this one and the real one is that we hope to have the real ones filled up! Speaking of, we slots that need to be filled this weekend. If you would like to volunteer then you can email me or call our office and we will pencil you it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

YFC Prayer Praises and Pleas

Youth for Christ Roxboro January 3, 2007

Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. -- 2 Corinthians 2:14

Praises: Thank You, Lord, for Your presence at the volunteer meeting last night where You challenged us to go “farther up and further in” to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of You to teens at the Warehouse, to “coach, rather than umpire” and make the most of teachable moments. Thank You, Father, that in 2 Corinthians 5:14, You say “Christ’s love compels us” to live for You.

Pleas: Compel us then, Father, to live for You at Campus Life meetings, at the Warehouse, in the lives of lost youngsters around us. Without Your holy pressure, we fall back into living for ourselves and that is unacceptable.

Lord, You “always lead us in triumphal procession in Christ” so we thank You now for providing more than enough weekend volunteers when most kids show up. There is only one volunteer signed up this weekend, but You are Lord of the Harvest. Father, please quickly send more volunteers to staff the computer center, and more volunteers to mentor “spreading that fragrance” so that the Warehouse is not just a place to play, but a place to find You.

Please send us all kinds, colors and sizes of empty hearts that need You.
Awaken the lazy hearts of Your children who need to volunteer here and be part of Jesus triumphal procession; assist the immature hearts of baby Christians who need to grow in the new Bible studies offered every night; and aerate those dark, dead hearts so they can smell the fragrance of life.

Without You, without Your gracious power compelling us, we can do nothing. Thank You so much for the privilege of knowing You and seeing You work.