Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Busyness Can Be Like Quicksand

Busyness Can Be Like Quicksand

That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near -- Luke 23:54; New King James Version

Do not mistake activity for achievement. I was digging a ditch to install a drain pipe. The area in which I worked was on the Albemarle Sound; one needed only dig a couple of feet before hitting ground water. I was digging like a weighted man in quicksand! I looked like a hyper gopher! The problem was that I wasn’t getting anywhere. The boss came around, saw that I was sweating hard, but little seemed to have been done. He said, “Why don’t you pump the water off as you dig? It’ll stop caving in that way.” DUH! Why didn’t I know that? Busyness was not the answer. Doing things the right way was the answer.

Today’s Scripture is one that is a hidden treasure. Jesus had just died on the cross (23:46). Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus (23:52). Pilate consented, Jesus’ body was wrapped in linen, and placed it in the tomb (23:53). Those precious women who had followed Jesus went home to prepare the usual things for Jewish burial (23:55). They couldn’t come back and properly honor Jesus’ body and prepare it for proper burial because time ran out. You see, it was the time of the day to prepare for Sabbath. By Jewish law, they were no longer able to do anything.

For some reason, I think this is strange. Their Master had just died! I mean, really! Jesus’ followers were so bound up by rules that they missed the point of them; they are to draw us closer to God, not make us so busy that we can’t see Him.

It’s easy to get overly busy, especially for church folks. The sold out, “want-to-serve-the-Lord-with-all-I-got” Christian usually has a hard time saying no when asked to do something. There is nothing wrong with that, however we need constant refreshing. For those in small congregations, often there is the need to wear many hats and do many ministries, so this danger is much greater.

Martha could well understand what I am talking about. Read these Scripture from Luke 10; “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it – and I won't take it away from her.’” (verses 38-42 – NLT).

Let’s not get too busy to sit at Jesus’ feet. Be careful, it’ll happen before one realizes it. Don’t get caught up in rushing around (especially on Sabbath day), and miss out on an encounter with God. Make sure that the main thing stays the main thing!

Praises and Prayers

Youth for Christ Roxboro              Feb 28, 2007

Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me;
let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell.
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. Ps

Praises: Thank You for 3 different groups of people, none of who knew about
the others, coming to Tim to ask about putting together a youth center and
ministry in Caswell County. You are always working, always mercifully
sending forth Your light and truth to a rebellious, self-absorbed populace.
Thank You that You are SO Good! Thank You for the flood of young people
that have come in the doors with warmer weather. Thank You for all the
county mentors using the Warehouse as a place to hang out with their teens.

Pleas: We need workers full of Your light and truth to work this weekend to
bring more youth to Your holy mountain; and again we ask for 4 interns to
build deeper relationships with teens this summer; 1 after-school program
coordinator for the next school year; 15 board members and 7 physical
petitioners who find joy and delight at Your altar; and 400 people to hear
about what You are doing on March 27. Please, Father, send forth Your light
and truth this week. Holy Spirit, convict hearts and guide them into all
truth, including DW. Bring our staff and volunteers to Your altar to be
filled with the joy and delight of Your presence so they can shine for You.

Attractive Employees

Attractive Employees

“Slaves must obey their masters and do their best to please them. They must not talk back or steal, but they must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way” (Titus 2:9-10 New Living Translation).

Replace the word “slaves” with “employees,” and the word “masters” with “employers.” Read it again.

Do you ever think, “I hate my job!” I bet we all have. I’m sure that the vast majority of people wish they enjoyed their jobs more. They say that if you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t seem like work.

That is the key to work; enjoy what you do! Jesus understood the importance of everyday tasks. In the time and place that He spent His earthly ministry; a Roman soldier could make a private citizen carry their equipment for a mile. Jesus told His disciples, “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41 NKJV). Jesus advised His followers to serve above and beyond what was required of them. The idea was that the person would be impressed by the servant’s attitude. The servant, then, would have a softened heart and an open platform for a presentation of the Gospel.

This attitude can transform simple, mundane, or hated tasks into service for the Lord! What a testimony it would make if we performed every task with the thought in mind, “I want people to know that Jesus has changed every aspect of my life, even my attitude at work!” People may then respond by saying, “Wow, there is something to this Jesus!” Enjoy your work by enjoying the Lord at work!

Your dedicated service in your work place may be the very way to win co-workers and employers to Christ. You see, Christian, our Sovereign Lord has placed us right where we are so we can be lighthouses of His grace and love.

You letting Christ be in your workplace will serve Him and give proof of His transforming power. Work just got better!

Friday, February 23, 2007

YOU are an Awesome Instrument

“We must heed the memorable words written by Robert Murray McCheyne to the Rev. Dan Edwards on 2 October 1840 after his ordination as a missionary to the Jews: ‘I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man,—I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword,—His instrument,—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.’”

John R. W. Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait, Some New Testament Word Studies (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1961), p. 120
From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:17a

“God! Thou art love! I build my faith on that!” – Robert Browning
Robertson McQuilkin was president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. His wife, Muriel, was not only a devoted wife and mother, but also a painter, speaker, hostess for the college, fabulous cook, and host of her own radio program. Then Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Initially the college board arranged for a companion to stay with her so that McQuilkin could go to the office each day. As her condition deteriorated, McQuilkin was faced with a choice between taking early retirement to care for his wife or putting her in an institution for the rest of her life.

In McQuilkin’s own words:
When the time came, the decision was firm and it didn’t take any heavy-duty calculation…The decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel “in sickness and in health till death do us part.” So, as I told the students and faculty, as a man of my word, integrity has something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially all these years; if I cared for her the next 40 years I would not be out of her debt…She is a delight to me…I don’t have to care for her…I get to! It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person…It’s more than keeping promises and being fair, however. As I watch her brave descent into oblivion, Muriel is the joy of my life. Daily I discern new manifestations of the kind of person she is, the wife I always loved…I also see fresh manifestations of God’s love—the God I long to love more fully.

In spite of her deterioration, McQuilkin stood by her and continued to love her deeply. Eventually she rarely did more than mumble “nonwords.” He wondered if he would ever hear her sweet voice again.

Then came February 14, 1995. McQuilkin writes: Valentine’s Day was always special at our house because that was the day in 1948 that Muriel accepted my marriage proposal. On the eve of Valentine’s Day in 1995…I bathed Muriel on her bed, kissed her good night…and whispered a prayer over her, “Dear Jesus, you love sweet Muriel more than I, so please keep my beloved through the night; may she hear the angel choirs…"

The next morning I was peddling on my Exercycle at the foot of her bed and, while Muriel slowly emerged from sleep, I dipped into memories of some of the happy Lover’s Days long gone. Finally she popped awake and, and as she often did, smiled at me. Then, for the first time in months, she spoke, calling out in a voice clear as a crystal chime, “Love…love…love…” I jumped from my cycle and ran to embrace her. “Honey, you really do love me, don’t you?” Holding me with her eyes and patting my back, she responded with the only words she could find to express agreement. “I’m nice,” she said.

You husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church (Ephesians 5:25).

(Excerpted from The One Year Book of Christian History; E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. Pages 90-91)

Love Him Back

I would think that as soon as someone says "February" we think of Valentine's Day. That may cause us to think of our sweethearts or be sad because we don't have one! Romance is nice. I certainly enjoy being married and cannot get enough of spending time with my wife. We have been together, either dating or married, for over ten years and I still love being with her.

Love from people often comes with strings attached. Whether we mean to or not, we usually want something in return for our love. We want special favor, kindness, and attention. We want excitement! We want flowers and candy; poetry and songs! Even love between parents and kids is often loaded with expectations. Kids want parents to let them do whatever they want. Parents want kids to obey and stay out of trouble.

God's love is different. The expectations people place on each other does not mean that the love is not real; they just mean that the love is not as pure as God's love. God's love comes with no strings attached. He loved us before we ever knew about Him. He loved us while we were still lost in our sin (Romans 5:8). God loves us when we are whiny, selfish, or unkind. God even loves us when we are unfaithful...He keeps loving us and keeps waiting for us to come back to Him. What jilted boyfriend or girlfriend does that? God even loves us when we ignore Him. God's love is true and absolutely free to us

When Jesus came onto the scene He revolutionized everyone's views about love. In Matthew 5 Jesus talked quite a bit about love. He said "Love those who hate you and do bad things to you." That was a strange thing to say! Those people had been taught that it was an "eye for an eye." Jesus told them not to worry about revenge; love in spite of how others treat you. That was a love revolution! He'd say the same thing to us today. Jesus even said that if we only love the people that love us we have nothing over the lost sinner (Matthew 5:46).

Jesus made some other very strong statements concerning love. He said that if we really love Him we will prove it by our obedience (John 14:5). He also said that that we must truly love one another if we claim we love Him; disciples of Christ prove they are His when they love one another (John 13:35). As a matter of fact, Jesus said "I am giving you a new commandment: love each other" (John 13:34a - NLT). That was NOT a suggestion! In that same verse Jesus said "Just as I have loved you, you should love each other" (John 13:34b - NLT). How did He love us? You've got it...He gave His life on the cross for us! He was talking about that very thing when He said "I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you" (John 15:12 - NLT). Next, Jesus said that the greatest way to prove our love for another is to lay down our life for them (John 15:13). For Jesus that meant that He would die on the cross. Seldom is that measure required of us. What we are challenged to do is to lay down our selfishness and put others before ourselves. The list could go on of the ways Jesus challenged us to think about love.

Perhaps the greatest revolution was of the heart and mind. Jesus said “'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind'” (Matthew 22:37 - NLT). What was so wild about this was that He challenged us to encounter God with our whole self. He challenged us to lay down our ritual and religion and get personal with the God of the universe.

I think it a very natural response to how deeply God loves us…to love Him back. Human love is fickle and finicky, but it’s still good. Love between people is wonderfully beautiful, but it cannot be compared in fervor, degree, or devotion to the everlasting love of God. God loved you and I so much that He gave is only Son to make a way for us to experience Him fully again. What will we do in response?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Youth for Christ Roxboro              Feb 14, 2007

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Ps

Praises: Brett learning a lot from other Campus Life leaders at YFC's
mid-winter conference; Caswell Co. wanting to do a center similar to the
Warehouse; new Warehouse volunteers from Salem United Methodist; new
volunteers for Campus Life at Northern; new fundraisers: bass fishing
tournament, proceeds from a devotional book by Tim; new opportunity to help
Triangle YFC chapter; another teen wanting to become a student staff member
which means getting to sit down with him and talk about what it really means
to belong to Christ; a middle school student asking all sorts of questions
about God at Northern's Campus Life mtg yesterday

Pleas: Father, when talking with the kids, there seems to be no conviction
of sinfulness�no shame for doing wrong�not even a clear knowledge of right
and wrong. Lord, please do not "give us over" yet. Teach us Your children,
and through us teach these young people, to fear You. Help us, Holy Spirit,
to tremble at Your word; God, to feel the heat of Your consuming fire;
Jesus, to understand that we cannot love both You and the world. Make us
listen, Father. We take You at your word, that You will teach us to fear

Lord, to fear You is the beginning of wisdom, and we need Your wisdom about
YFC pursuing an organized afterschool program in the future, about four
summer interns, about which opportunities to turn down; Lord, please grant
us repentant, open hearts among both youth and volunteers; DW; 15 board
members in 2007; 400 people at the March 27 banquet; more people to listen
to You and talk with You about YFC