Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Free Greek Class in Person County

There will be an exciting opportunity to learn to read your New Testament in Greek! Dr. David Black, Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, will be offering a course at Bethel Hill Baptist Church. It is entitled “Greek For Dummies”. This is open to anyone over the age of 10. The class will begin in mid-January at Bethel Hill and meet weekly on either Monday or Thursday night from 7-9PM (no later than 9). You don’t need any foreign language experience, or even a high school diploma! There is no fee for this course! The only thing you have to purchase is Dr. Black’s textbook, “Learn to Read New Testament Greek” You can get that on Amazon.com for about $15 used. The course will last 8-9 months (taking some weeks off). By the completion of the course you will be able to read and translate your Greek New Testament! This is open to anyone who is interested. Homeschoolers are welcome. Pastors are welcome. Church members are welcome. Unbelievers are welcome too!

If you are interested (no commitment needs to be made right now) please email Jon Glass at jon@cavelbaptist.com by December 30th. Also, let me know if you prefer Monday or Thursday evening.

Jon Glass


Ca-Vel Baptist Church



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Volunteer Announcement #5

Dearest Volunteers,

You might not have the ability to view videos because not all of us are blessed with highspeed internet service.

I'll be managing Ye Olde Warehouse this weekend, so I am pumped about a chance to serve students and to serve you and with any of you who feel the Lord sending you this way.

Speaking of that, only come because God is indeed sending you. Now, wait, that's not me being a meany, that's just my way of saying it is not my intention that anyone be guilted into serving. It should be an act of joy provoked by the Spirit of God. Know what I mean?

So, the gist of this video is a begging of servants to come out to serve this Saturday night, November 15 from 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM or in one of the partial night windows, meaning from 4:00-7:00 PM or 7:00-10:00 PM.

We think we'll have a decent group of volunteers on Friday night, but the more the merrier there as well.

Also, it's stated in the video that I love it when people come up with ministry ideas that they can bring to the table. We can do all sorts of sports related things or even craft-related ideas.

I really want all of us to own the ministry, so the more ideas that are generated by the church teams or by individual volunteers the better we are.

BE CAREFUL: IF YOU COME UP WITH AN IDEA IT SHOULD BE AN "I THINK, SO I WILL" type of idea, not simply a "I THINK, SO Y'ALL SHOULD" type of idea. I can be an "I THINK, SO I NEED" or an "I THINK, SO WE SHOULD" type of idea too.

I love to hear from you all!

Love in Christ,
Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mumble Gets and Quits a Job

Election Results, Part 1


It would utter foolishness to let your hearts be troubled this morning. God is immovable, unshakable and in total control. Regardless of who won, God is King, President and Unanimously Unelected LORD; HE is Sovereign and HE is the Boss.

So, rest in Christ this morning. Don't worry about the parties, revel in the Person of Christ.

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth. --John Wesley

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Volunteer Announcement #2

Please listen to this short announcement concerning THIS AFTERNOON and this weekend.


Friday, July 18, 2008

A plea for a Christian Brother

Dear Friends,

I am writing to humbly endorse a great friend and fellow laborer in the Gospel in his calling as a laborer in God's East Asian fields. This man, Mr. Casey Adams, is serving his second summer with us here at Youth For Christ as a summer intern. In 2006 Casey served as a "Warehouse Staff" and this summer he is serving as both Warehouse Staff and Co-Director of our summer day camps. We love Casey!

We are also proud that Casey is a "local boy", hailing from the Roseville community and calling Clement Baptist Church his home church, where he also completed an internship in 2005 under the leadership of Pastor Hal Dickerson.

In recent years Casey has graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in religion and pursued further studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The latter studies are being "interrupted" by this calling to go unto the "ends of the earth".

Here's the beginning of where I am asking you all to help:Casey must raise all the money he needs for his 12 month mission to East Asia. He is being sent by God through Campus Crusade for Christ. His ministry will be to college students in East Asia.

TOMORROW, SATURDAY, JULY 19 there will be a benefit dinner held for Casey in the fellowship hall of Clement Baptist Church (http://www.clementbaptistchurch.org/directions2a.html).

The benefit will consist of a chicken plate dinner ($6.00 per plate) and live music. The benefit will last from 4:00-7:00 PM.Now, I believe $6.00 is a mighty low price to pay to help send a "called" man to the place God desires to send them. As a matter of fact, I encourage you all to eat a LITTLE and GIVE A LOT!

I have never believed in "coaxing" people to give by asking them to buy things, so I offer this endorsement and make this plea very humbly. I would encourage you to stop by the benefit and leave a generous gift; Casey still needs to raise in excess of $7,500.00 before he leaves in August.Please, as the Spirit moves you, please consider a gift to my co-laborer and friend.

The Scriptures finds the apostle John commending BELIEVERS for their support of one who sought "no help from the pagans" (3 John 1:7), so I appeal, to you in the faith, in a special way.If you cannot come to the benefit a gift can be sent to 66 Roseville Loop Rd., Roxboro, NC 27573. Any checks should be written to Campus Crusade for Christ.

If you have questions about Casey's mission or would like for him to speak to your Sunday School class or entire church, please call him at 336-504-4885 or feel free to email him: casey.adams@uscm.org

Monday, July 07, 2008

Luke #58 – More Than a Good Teacher

Luke #58 – More Than a Good Teacher

“And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, ‘What a word is this! For with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.’ And the fame of Him went out into every place of the country round about” (Luke 4:36-37 – King James Version).

It was a funny scene…let me tell you about it. I am 5’10” and weigh 297 pounds. Needless to say, I am a big ol’ boy! There is a lot of me packed between that first and seventieth inch. I was having an after church discussion with some of the young women and young men of my youth group about cheerleading and gymnastics. Brittany Brown, a talented cheerleader and athlete in her own right, had performed several gymnastic moves and we were discussing the difficulty of said moves. She did a thing called a toe touch. That involves holding one’s hands straight out, palms up, and jumping up and touching the toe of one’s shoes to the palms of one’s hands. I said, “I can do that.” Several of the youth laughed, especially one young man. Well, I’ll let you know that I did it, not once, but THREE times in a row. The young doubter tried several times without any success. I used that little experience to teach them not to judge a book by its cover, nor to take people at what they say only, but to understand their commitment and ability by what they can and will do.

When Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum the people there were “astonished at His doctrine” (verse 32). He was a teacher of no comparison; those people had never heard a person teach with such power and knowledge. Now they were amazed in a whole new way. Not only did Jesus teach in an amazing way, but He had POWER in His words. With little effort, Christ spoke and by His words the demons were forced to leave from the man. The people basically said, “What kind of word is this?” because they were amazed that Jesus’ words didn’t only make sounds but caused action. Clearly He was more than a man. Clearly Jesus was more than a good teacher. I think this account of Jesus casting the evil spirits from this man is one of the places we can firmly establish that Jesus is God.

There is another lesson in here for us today. There is the lesson of living what you say. I am wearied of people who know all the Christian talk but display little of the Christian walk. We know how to give all the Christian answers and to say all the right church phrases and repeat all the Sunday School answers, but there HAS to be more! God desires that we produce spiritual fruit, not that we sit around naming them! Don’t get me wrong; knowing all the Christian facts and the lingo in which to express them is not a bad thing. What I am saying is that if there is not some action to match those words, well, we had better check ourselves. There are too many people that are all talk and no action!

Jesus would have earned fame with His teaching alone. It was different and He was different. His teaching was more than reminding people of rules; He taught them how to apply God’s word and how to live it. He did not do that alone. He did miracles and lived in a way that showed there was more to God’s word than knowing it and being able to talk about it.

Do you want to be known near and far? More importantly, do you want fame before the Lord? Here’s how to get it…don’t just talk “God stuff”, but live it. Jesus was more than a good teacher…He was the word come to life. I believe He desires the same from us. I don’t think that my youth would have been satisfied by me simply saying I could do a toe touch, but they were very satisfied when what I did matched what I said I could do. I think the same applies to our Christian lives. We must do what we talk!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

For the educated folk...

Luke #57 – Damaged Goods Cart

Luke #57 – Damaged Goods Cart

“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God.’ And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Hold thy peace, and come out of him.’ And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not” (Luke 4:33-35 – King James Version).

Two little stories…

When I was a kid I didn’t go into town very often. When I did, it was mostly to go to the grocery store. One of my favorite things about going to the grocery store was looking at the damaged goods. The store we shopped at always had one or two shopping carts sitting in the main aisle filled with dented cans, torn boxes, and other damaged containers. I loved to sift through those carts searching for a treasure. We didn’t buy much junk food, so a trip to the damaged goods cart often yielded some treasure that mom would buy for me just because it was priced to sell.

Second little story…I used to do prison ministry. I was privileged to minister to many hurting people in jails. I also was privileged to introduce a few to my Savior. While in town one day I ran into a fellow that I’d led to Christ while the man was in jail. I asked him how things were going. He’d found a job and was doing well with one notable exception; he was not going to church. When I asked why that was he said, “Nobody wants a convict in their church.” “How do you know?” I asked, “Have you tried to find a church?” “Oh, yeah,” he said with a touch of sadness, “I have tried a couple. Everything is fine until I share that I have been locked up. People change when they find that out.”

When I read today’s passage I think of those two little stories. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and it left the man. It is notable to mention that the spirit left the man “and hurt him not.” Jesus sent the unclean spirit away, but Christ did not send the man away. That will preach!

We tend to forget that when a person is freed from an unclean spirit or from the bondage of sin the person is still there though the sin is gone. The old man has passed away and behold, there is a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Often we cast off the new person because of the reputation of the old man. We must remember to keep the person, minister to them, accept them, love them, and disciple them and at the same time rejoice with them that the old man has been cast off.

We forget that sin occurs with sinners and sinners are people. We want to be rid of the sin, but we get the two mixed up sometimes and cast the sinner off with the sin.

At the end of the day we are all damaged goods. None of us is perfect (Romans 3:23). It’s as if Jesus rummaged through the damaged goods cart of the world and picked out some choice treasures and bought them. The difference is that Christ did not pay a reduced price for we who are those damaged goods…He paid dearly and fully with His precious blood. He took damaged things but paid the full price. That, my friends, is a beautiful thought and reality!

I recently heard someone say that it is not our common good or our common social status that draws us together, but our common need for Christ to minister to our weaknesses. It’s not that we have like hobbies or equal bank accounts; rather we have the sin sickness in common and the Savior is the solution for us all.

Personally, I love damaged goods. I have found that once the package is peeled away or torn off, it is the stuff inside that counts. The amazing thing is that Christ takes goods that are damaged inside and out and MAKES them whole and worth using.

How do you view the sinner? Should they be cast off with the sin? Should damaged goods be allowed into your fellowship? Do you hunt for damaged goods that you can carry to the Master? Do you welcome damaged goods and treat them as equals in Christ? If you don’t you obviously have forgotten exactly how bent, broken and torn you were when the Savior redeemed and restored you.

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” That comes from the fact that families in medieval times all used the same bath water for their bi-annual bath. They used it by order of age, from the oldest to the youngest. Often, by the time it would be the baby’s turn the water would be so dirty that one might not be able to see the baby in it, thus creating the certain danger that the baby might be tossed out with the dirty water. We, as the church…the manifest presence of Christ in this world…need to throw out nasty bath water (sin), but we need to be careful not to toss baby Christians out with it.

However we state it, there is the simple fact that sinners are kept and sin is thrown away. Don’t forget that! If God doesn’t love damaged goods, then He doesn’t love anyone because that is exactly what all of us are. Let us be like Him in this regard. If we don’t excitedly search through and use the damaged goods of this world, not only will we miss out on a great many treasures but we basically throw away the merchandise. Remember these things when you minister to people.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Sunday Night Worship was such a blast! Berry's Grove choir did an AWESOME job in performing the Experiencing God musical. What was so wonderful were the MANY filled pews. I was so happy to have so many visitors from Berry's Grove, a few from Long Memorial and quite a few of our own people.

What particularly pleased me about the crowd were the many children and teens who came to worship service. Many times Care has a good group of children on Wednesday night, but many of those same children have told us they don't want to go to worship service because they do not want to sit still for that long. Lord, change us all; teach us all to love learning, to be joyful when singing to You, to find great pleasure in sitting at Your feet, both alone and with others.

I want to log somewhere my hopes in making singing an important part of our assembling, so I do it here. For the two people who might read this, let me give some background; (1) I love singing; (2) We plan on having a full song service every fifth Sunday.

Now, that being said, let me explain the reasons I think that is important and that will explain why we had the Berry's Grove choir leading our service this past Sunday.
(1) EVERY song has a message. The message in many songs is downright horrible; some songs offered in church are bad too.
(2) We want people to really connect to the fact that every song we sing in our worship services carries with it an important message in the song; that the songs do something to lead our minds and hearts Godward or to soften us to His speaking.
(3) We want people to do more than simply "get through the songs" because it is time to sing. We want them to anticipate hearing something, and possibly saying something very important to God. The song may be the very prayer of our hearts, the proclamation of our faith, the praise of our lips or the proclamation of our belief.
(4) If worship music is just singing, I don't want it. If it's there because it's "supposed" to be, or because we value tradition, I don't want it. It is my belief, like the spoken Word, the Word sung can be filled with powerful messages, heavy truths that encourage, convince, convict and call to movement within and without.
(5) In short, we believe that the music can do as much preaching and praying and testifying as do the spoken elements of all three.

So, we want to convey that every song selection is supremely important; that we are seeking to hear from, speak to, glorify and please the Lord. We want it to be known that we are serious about every element of our services are intentionally meant to help us engage our total person in meeting with the Lord. We want to REALLY worship; to ascribe to Him His true worth. To take any part of a worship service casually is to be disrespectful.

All that being said, yet desiring to say more, the Berry's Grove choir "preached" a wonderful message and I was glad to be there. Though I'd not sang that particular musical in quite some time they graciously allowed me to step in and sing along. It was good to sing those great songs again. My record of yet making it through When I Survey the Wondrous Cross is alive and well. It's a heart lifting and a heart wrenching song.

More later...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Fragments from YFC/USA President, Dan Wolgemuth

June 27, 2008

It often seems to me that as Jesus taught His disciples an important lesson, He didn’t take the “shortest route.” For instance, in Matthew 16 Jesus warns His band of followers about the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It was clear that Jesus had a deep concern about the doctrinal stance and the practical outworking of the teaching of these two groups.

However, instead of simply declaring His concern, Jesus takes a trip through the countryside…

The disciples, having arrived at a particular destination, realize that they have done so without packing lunch. “When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread.” ~ Matthew 16:5

From this intersection, Jesus turns in the most unusual direction… “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

As the disciples worked to decipher the map of Jesus’ teaching, winding through “Betty Crockerland” and the perspective that He had enrolled them in a baking class, they finally arrived at the outpost of His intended destination by verse 12: “Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

How utterly inefficient. What a waste of intellectual fuel to turn this simple lesson into a group project, and yet how amazingly consistent with Jesus’ typical approach.

The lessons of Christ, the ones that He wanted deeply imbedded in the hearts and minds of His followers, were communicated in a way that engaged multiple senses. He could have written this statement on the whiteboard: “Pharisees are hypocrites” ~ Luke 12:1, but instead, He meandered through the educational countryside.

And yet I’m confident that Jesus’ intent and His methodology were precise and intentional. His design was for life to provide classroom reminders, long after the disciples had misplaced their lecture notes. Jesus wanted to connect the vital spiritual lessons to everyday experiences, which would provide poignant refresher courses long after Jesus had returned to His Father.

From this experience forward, every time a disciple walked by a bakery, every time he held a crust of bread in his hand, every time he witnessed the invisible, yet comprehensive impact of yeast, he would remember the pointed reminder. Jesus knew that the more senses he could engage in His teaching, the more likely the lesson was to connect.

Real lessons, connected to real life. You can almost smell the impact. It’s Theology 101 in the classroom of Jesus.

All staff and volunteers of YFC/USA receive Dan's Fragments automatically. Anyone else can subscribe and unsubscribe. Please feel free to pass this Fragment along.

East Rock Community Church

Some people who keep up with me may be wondering if I have an update on East Rock Community Church.

For my part, I have two dilemmas (or mistakes) that I'd like to amend: (1) To schedule more time to work with the people whom God has given us some influence; (2) That I'd started with a few more committed Christians with whom we could share the work and increase our circles of influence.

That being said, I love it! I love working with people! We are finding that the new believers that God has sent among us are growing. We are also finding that God is sending us a few baby Christians and a few others who are trying to find a place to be accepted and comfortable.

Speaking of comfortable, I preach the same everywhere. I DO use different language depending on my audience, such as speaking with less "churchy" words in front of less churchy people. However, I speak with the same passion and forthrightness in front of every audience. You say, "What's this have to do with 'comfortable'?" Simply this, I preached a tough message at a local church not too long ago and people walk by me -- you know, the preacher at the door routine -- and say, one after the other, "I enjoyed that." I think to myself, I don't know that I was looking for you to "enjoy" that. I never hear that at East Rock. I mean this as a compliment to the people. I see them struggling to grow in faith. I see them struggling against their own flesh. I see some succumbing to it. I am not talking only about "them" as if there are some that are more "spiritual". I am talking about "them" as "us". There is an openness and humility that I really enjoy. There is an expectation of change in the air.

I mean, hey, it's great if the service is enjoyable. It's great if you are encouraged. It's great if God gives you joy. But, and believe me on this, when you come before the Lord, it's not about your comfort or how much you enjoy something; it's about Him working to make you into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). That's not always fun and rarely is it easy. Let me illustrate it this way: One man in our midst recently was "done wrong" by a supposed friend. He'd helped this man strictly upon the basis of the teaching he is receiving at ERCC. The man wounded our East Rock friend and our friend was really hurt. He was convinced that he would never want to do this "Christian *&%^#%@" again. He was also convinced that his peace was stolen and that he could never forgive the other man. A sermon spoke to our friend's heart and began to both heal his pain and speak into his anger. After church one evening, we laid hands on our friend and prayed mightily for him. It was a very cool event that showed that a sermon is not always enjoyable, but it can bring joy through breaking and healing.

So, what am I getting at? I like where we are, but am not satisfied. I like our people's reactions to how God is moving. Yes, I want more people. Yes, I look forward to the day when there are more workers in the field AND more people to work with. Yes, I see God moving. Yes, I see people receiving. Pray for us.

More later...

Luke #56 – Spotting the Enemy

Luke #56 – Spotting the Enemy

“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil” (Luke 4:33a – King James Version).

Some of the most wonderful people I ever met in my life were the people of South Korea. For over a year I roomed with a Korean soldier in our post barracks. Also, my day to day assistant was a Korean soldier. Both were fine young men who I am privileged to have known and served with. Cpl. Jo worked along side me each day and I had a running joke with him. Often we rode together on daily missions and I used to look over at Cpl. Jo and say, “You know Jo, if war breaks out with North Korea you are going to be the first one I shoot.” Trust me, it was a joke and Jo knew that. The joke stemmed from a conversation Jo and I had once in which I asked him how I would tell the North Koreans from the South Koreans if war broke out. Jo couldn’t give me an answer. Hearing Jo and I joking about this one day, the executive officer of our battalion said, “Don’t worry boys…the 6/37 Field Artillery (that was our unit) is the number one target of the entire North Korean Air Force. If war does break out, you boys will probably be annihilated so fast, you will not have time to worry about whose side someone is on.” I knew Maj. Fernandez was kidding, but only to a degree.

Today’s verse shows us that evil lurks everywhere, even (or especially!) in the church. Jesus was in Capernaum, teaching in the synagogue, when a man with an unclean spirit cried out. One might think that places of worship would be the safest place to avoid the powers of evil, but I contend that Satan and his minions are never more present than in the times Christians gather together.

In Matthew 13:24-30, our Lord teaches us that Satan sows his weeds amongst God’s wheat. In that same passage Jesus says, “Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn” (13:30 – NLT). Well, if we aren’t supposed to pull the weeds from amongst the wheat, what are we supposed to do? I think that answer is found in the instructions of the apostle Paul to Titus: “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9 – NKJV). Simply put, we are to work alongside God in seeing them changed! Certainly, if Christ can transform water into wine, He can transform weeds into wheat! Our job is to be salt and light, show Jesus, and share the truth of the word.

Sadly, I don’t think many of us care that evil is in the church. All too often we stand idly by and hope that we don’t have to get involved. That unclean spirit got mighty uncomfortable when Jesus came to the synagogue that day. In our churches, those unclean spirits sometimes never get uncomfortable because Jesus hasn’t shown up! What I mean to say…and I want to be perfectly understood here…is that we aren’t showing people Jesus! Believers are the vessel of His presence and if we are not letting Him be Lord of our lives from second to second, then often evil is not confronted by His holy presence. We are good at being nice and signing petitions, but we often fail when it comes down to actually being Christ-like.

When Jesus spoke in that synagogue that unclean spirit became afraid! He said, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!” (4:34 – NKJV). Realizing this, we should also realize that when we are truly letting Christ live in and through us some folks are going to be uncomfortable around us. We are not to Lord it over them as if we have cornered the market on Jesus; rather, we should be ministers of reconciliation desiring freedom from bondage and forgiveness of sins for those caught by evil.

Yes, dear friends, call them weeds; call them tares; call them unclean spirits; whatever we call it evil is in the midst of the saints. Like my experience in South Korea, we may not be able to tell the difference between the enemy and the ally until it is too late. Jesus may come back to harvest the church before some are identified. Know this though, be Christ-like and they will cry out in holy terror.

I never wanted to kill a potential ally. I wanted to identify who was on my side. I wanted to win over those who were not. In my service to God through the church today, I take much the same attitude. Not only do I want to identify my adversary, but I want to win them over to my side too. That day, in the synagogue, Christ did just that. Today, in our churches, we can do the same. Jesus did not participate with the enemy, but He did not tolerate him either. Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and freed the man who was the vessel of it. Personally, I am not willing to wait until it is too late to see who is what. I am resolved to be Christ-like. If that makes people uncomfortable, so be it! At the end of the day, I hope I will be used of God to bring some over to His side. How about you?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Luke #55 – Too Mad to Change vs. Open to Learn and Transform

Luke #55 – Too Mad to Change vs. Open to Learn and Transform

“And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passing through the midst of them went His way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power” (Luke 4:28-32 – King James Version).

I have an old saying that I use all the time that deals with folks that complain about sermons. I use this saying often when identifying those who were convicted but refuse to surrender to God on the issue at hand. Usually it applies perfectly. I always say that when you throw a rock in a pack of dogs the one that yelps is the one you hit. Now, friends, I never seek to be politically correct nor popular. Neither do I want to be arrogant or mean. I do want to tell the truth when I preach and exhort the lost to salvation and the saved to growth in Christ. When you do that faithfully by the whole and inerrant word of God, sometimes folks get mad at you.

Recently I preached a sermon to a group of folks about the subject of encouragement. I was rather frank and I thought the sermon itself was very encouraging. I had no more said “Amen” when a lady rushed toward me and began to berate my style (too forthright), complain about my language (she said I talked too fast), question my education (obviously not enough in her opinion), carp about the message (not what people needed to hear) and criticize every other thing she could think of (and believe me, it was a long list…I think she even told me I ought to shave my beard off!). I said to myself, “I know where the rock hit!”

Jesus hit a few dogs in Nazareth! The folks there got so mad that they ran Jesus out of town. They wanted to pitch Him off of a hill, but He just walked right through them and on to Capernaum.

God pierces my heart with brokenness when I read this passage. God chastens those whom He loves and He loves this world full of sinners (ref. Revelation 3:19 and John 3:16). He chastens us so that He can show us our sin, point us to Christ who is the solution, and draw us to Himself. I become broken at the very thought of God communicating with people and people refusing to respond. I hear His holy voice calling to sinful people; “Come to Me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” The rest He wants to give us is from the bondage of sin. He MUST point out that which holds us away from Him.

The sad thing is that He will call and if we do not respond, He may move on (Romans 11). Now that is a sad thought, but a reality. I’ll tell you something I find sad; I can find no record of Christ ever returning to Nazareth after this point. Many people respond to God, but not in brokenness; rather in pride and anger.

How do we respond to convicting messages? They come many forms; through a preacher, another believer, by Bible reading, or in our circumstances and certainly in our prayer life. Just as Jesus did in Nazareth, He is speaking to hearts today. He is calling us on our sins and desiring us to respond in brokenness (Psalm 51:16-17).

Do you get so mad that you refuse to change? OR, are you open to hear the voice of God and experience transformation? It does no good to get mad at the messenger. My pastor always says that when we encounter God one of two things happen; “You either change or die.” Which will it be? Will we change and draw nearer to Him? Will we deny His message and see our relationship with Him pass away? The people of Nazareth got mad; Jesus walked away. The people of Capernaum were astonished; Christ healed there.

This one is for Jason...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

YFC - OMC Breakfast Rap

This was a couple of young men we took to Outdoor Mission Camp. I asked Tyree (right) to give me a few bars before breakfast; he asked Ridge (left) to give him a beat and dropped this little diddy right off the dome. Funny and fun...good, clean fun.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Luke #54 – Don’t Miss a Blessing

Luke #54 – Don’t Miss a Blessing

“And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph's son?’ And He said unto them, ‘Ye will surely say unto Me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.’ And He said, ‘Verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian’” (Luke 4:22-27 – King James Version).

When I was in the military I played a lot of basketball. It was a good way to stay in shape. Once I was the twelfth man on a twelve man team. I rarely even got to sit on the bench; most of the time I had to sit on the floor! Our unit had two teams and mid-way through the season I was switched to the other team because it was riddled with injuries. Pretty soon after the switch I played against my old team. Before the game, one of my old teammates jokingly said, “Take it easy on us.” I know the fellow was poking fun at me; most likely he thought I would sit the bench for my new team just like I’d done with my old team. I scored seventeen points that game. Another of my old teammates said, “How come you never did that for us?” My reply was to the point; “Because you guys never let me in the game.”

I think Jesus could relate to my story. The people of Nazareth never let Him in the game. They didn’t expect much from Jesus. They had only saw Him sit the proverbial bench. He took His miracles to another team, so to speak.

Perhaps the people of Nazareth expected special favor from a hometown boy. Surely they didn’t think He was the Messiah, but they did know that the hand of God was upon Him. They knew of His deeds in Capernaum; a place where Christ often was, and where He cured the centurion's servant of the palsy, and Peter's wife's mother of a fever, and another man sick of a palsy, and the woman of her bloody issue, and a man that had a withered hand, and where he raised Jairus's daughter from the dead. Perhaps they thought that Jesus owed them special favor. How could He show favor to a people who did not believe He was who He said He was?

Jesus used the examples of Elijah and Elisha. These two prophets were God’s messengers in a time when Israel was not living for God. The people took God for granted; were apathetic toward Him. They missed many blessings; so much so that God sent His prophets to do mighty works outside the covenant nation family of Israel. Jesus was illustrating how God would take His blessings where people would appreciate them; where people would believe Him.

How many times do we leave Jesus on the bench? How many times do we think we deserve some favor just because we know Him? How many times do live with a spirit of unbelief or apathy but want His miraculous power in our lives? How many times do we live like Jesus doesn’t exist until we want something from Him?

We cannot trifle with God. We cannot expect to live in unbelief concerning Jesus AND have Jesus do mighty works in our life. We cannot make Christ the twelfth man in our life. He must be given first place. He should not only be the star player in our lives, but the coach, manager and owner. Do you ever wonder why He is not working more in your life? What position does He occupy? We’d all better be careful…He might take His works to another team.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Luke #53 – Preconceived Notions

Luke #53 – Preconceived Notions

“And He began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’ And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph's son?’” (Luke 4:21-22 – King James Version).

We used to camp on the back side of an area of Hyco Lake called McGhee’s Mill. Growing up I had camped, swam, and fished in this spot more times than I can count; it was my favorite spot. There was a rock jutting out over the water that we used to jump off of all the time. It might have been three of four feet high and it was perfect for diving. There’s no telling how many times I’d jumped off of that rock.

Late one night I took a group of my school friends out to that favorite spot to go swimming. We goofed around awhile, splashing and playing in the water. I said, “Let’s go jump off of the rock.” As we walked over toward the rock one of my friends asked, “How deep is the water here?” “Oh,” I replied, “Don’t worry about that. It’s deep enough.” With that said, I let out a great shout, ran and vaulted feet first off of the rock. When my feet hit the soft mud under the water I landed on a piece of glass and nearly cut my toe off; it was slashed down to the bone and tendon. Not only was there glass in the water, but apparently someone had dumped such a great amount of dirt and trash there that the water level in that spot was three or four feet more shallow.

Familiarity, it is said, breeds contempt. That’s true in a great many cases. Familiarity also breeds preconceived notions. Take my slashed toe for example; I assumed that the water was deep enough and the conditions were safe because I had jumped from that spot so many times. A smarter guy would have checked the area out before taking the plunge.

In today’s Scripture we read the reaction of Jesus’ fellow hometown neighbors when He verbally revealed that He was the Messiah. They basically said, “Wow, this guy is an amazing speaker, but isn’t he just the town carpenter’s son?” Familiarity, in this case, caused preconceived notions. They thought they had Jesus pegged. They had watched Him grow up and obviously thought “There is no way this guy can be the Messiah! He’s just ol’ Jesus…he’s nobody! How can he be the Messiah?” Maybe, just maybe, some investigation was in order. The Gospel writer, Dr. Luke, did not write in a chronological style, but in a logical style. I say that to say that Jesus had already been performing miracles before this visit to His hometown (verse 24). I would even have to imagine that news of the twelve year old Jesus’ visit to the temple would have spread while He was growing up. Surely His neighbors had heard how Jesus had wowed the teachers at the temple and realized there was more to Him than met the eye. Yes, I firmly believe that investigation into Jesus’ Messianic claim would have dissolved any preconceived notions.

People have all kinds of preconceived notions about Jesus today too. They base much of what they believe on what they already feel or WANT to believe rather than investigating the facts about Jesus. That may lead to missing out on who He really is and what Christ is all about. For example; I recently heard someone say that Jesus always went against the system—that He was a true rebel. Hogwash. The only system Jesus fought against was the system of sin. When it came to doing God’s will (the most important thing), Jesus followed the plan exactly. A little investigation would have fixed that. I also heard someone say recently that Jesus was more concerned about people’s happiness than their sin. Hogwash. Just because Jesus was so tender and merciful with people does not mean that He excused sin. He is a good Lord, make no mistake about that, but He’d rather us be holy than happy.

There are always two matters to deal with when we receive information. The first is what we already believe and the second is the truth. Often those two conflict. When it comes to Jesus and who He is, don’t let preconceived notions cause you to miss something. Investigate Him in the Holy Scriptures. I bet we’ll all be surprised to find that He was much more than a good man, a carpenter’s son, or a good teacher. He is God. He requires full commitment from us. There is neither half measure of belief when it comes to knowing Him nor any half measure of commitment. Faith in Him is not simply going to church and knowing Bible stories. Somehow, especially in America, we have some preconceived notions that Jesus is something less than God Almighty; that He allows anything less than holiness and dying to self. We had all better check ourselves and our notions. Failing here will cost far more than a gash in the foot.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Luke #52 – The Position Jesus Left Us In

Luke #52 – The Position Jesus Left Us In

“And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears’” (Luke 4:17-21 – King James Version).

About three years ago during a Wednesday night youth group meeting the kids were wild; when I say wild, I mean WILD! I let them have fun for a few minutes, but soon it was time to get down to business. I said “Okay, open your Bibles…” and that was a far as I got. I tried to be polite, figuring that asking them to open their Bibles would be a sure signal that we were about to begin the study. For the most part, it was like I was not even alive. “Listen up everybody! It’s time to begin,” were the words of my second attempt at polite rebuke. After a few more tries I became pretty frustrated and screamed, “That’s it! Pick your stuff up! Get out!” The group stood around in stunned silence for a moment trying to decide if I was serious. I was. I kicked the whole youth group out of church at one time.

When we read the passage above in a casual light we miss the fact that Jesus did not finish the verses He was reading from Isaiah. To be specific, Jesus was reading Isaiah 61:1-2. He stopped short of finishing the latter part of verse two. As Christ read it in His hometown synagogue Jesus stopped in this way: “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”. The rest of Isaiah 61:2 says this: “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (KJV).

The reason Jesus stopped in that place was because of the comma. NO…I am being silly! There is a comma where He stopped in the Bibles you and I read today, but in the Hebrew Bible that Jesus read there was no comma. He stopped in that spot because the verses He read told what He came to do; namely “to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”. It was not yet time for the full vengeance of God to come or the time for final comfort. He read those Scripture and said “Now…I am going to make this things happen!” (my paraphrase).

This is still the age we are living in; one might accurately call it “God’s Age of Grace.” God’s vengeance is coming; make no mistake about that. One of the most famous sermons of all time was preached by a man named Jonathan Edwards; it was called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (ref. below). In that sermon Edwards pointed out that God was holding back His wrath, but only because God is merciful and is extending grace towards mankind. Edwards stated that at some point God’s wrath would be unleashed; that’s a fact too. Another famous sermon, perhaps the most famous of the twentieth century, was preached by a man named R.G. Lee. It was called “Payday Someday” and in it, one of Lee’s most famous quotes, he said, “Even though the mill of God grinds slowly, it grinds to powder” (second ref. below). Lee’s sermon tells us that payday is coming; that payday where the wage of sin will be given to the unrepentant. God’s vengeance and wrath are coming…make no mistake about that.

You may ask, “Why point this out?” I believe I am pointing it out for the same reasons Christ did. NOW is the age of grace; work while it is light; turn to the Lord while it is yet called today.

God’s love is perfect and for we who have experienced it there are volumes of testimony and truckloads of experience that testify to the goodness of our Father. God’s mercy is real and for any who have fell prostrate at the cross and felt the covering of the blood we know of God’s gracious, merciful hands as they encased us in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

Now is a time of healing; a time of grace. Now is a time of forgiveness; a time of salvation. Soon, the time for the righteous judgment of God will come and a lost and dying world needs the love and salvation of Jesus TODAY! Without it there is certain doom and eternal hell; many are looming, even teetering, over the abyss today. We live in an age of grace and we’d better not forget it. We’d better pray as if all depends on God and work like it depends on us.

Like that night with my youth group, quiet rebuke is available, but it has bounds. Now, I don’t profess to be God; the illustration is simply to point out that people seem not to believe there is penalty for their wrongs until it is too late. Those young people did not imagine that I would ever kick them out of church, but I did. Soon that eastern sky will split wide open and it will be payday for God’s vengeance.

This is a message for Christians too. Are you living in this age of grace as if God’s wrath will never come? Stop it. The position Christ left us in is that of grace, but it will not always be so. Get right or get left.

Share the message of salvation like today is the last day you may have to do it, because it very well may be. I do not profess to know the day of God’s vengeance, but I am sure it is coming. On that day the heathen will be given to Christ and they will be ground into bits (Psalm 2:8-9). As for me, I want to live like I know that’s a reality. I want to witness, no matter what others think of me, so that I may be used of God to help others escape that day of vengeance. How about you? Enjoy the present peace that Christ left us with, but know that it won’t last forever. Payday is coming.


Reference #1 (If you want to read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, check it out on the web: http://www.jonathanedwards.com/sermons/Warnings/sinners.htm).

Reference #2 (If you want to read R.G. Lee’s sermon, check it out on the web:


Saturday, May 17, 2008

May 16, 2008

He had the crowd leaning in on every word. His insights had captivated their hearts, minds and souls. His message was uncluttered with political baggage, and His lifestyle defied anything they had witnessed before. This guy was amazing.

So about the time that He landed on “The Golden Rule” in His most famous of all sermons, the crowd was agreeing, smiling and ready to join the bandwagon of this new religious teacher. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” (Matthew 7:12) Yes, words to live by.

But you’ll notice that Jesus didn’t close in prayer at that point. He didn’t dust off His best, most-inclusive, camera-ready smile and wave a politician’s wave… no, Jesus hit the crowd with one of His most difficult realities before the oxygen of The Golden Rule had fully expanded their chest.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ~ Matthew 7:13, 14

While heads were still nodding in agreement, Jesus reeled off a string of non-tolerant, non-inclusive, non-marketing friendly words that had to feel like an ice cold bucket of water right after a warm and comforting bath.

Narrow, destruction, hard, few.

Jesus resisted the urge of growing political momentum to sway Him off course from the reason for His existence. There was no tidal wave of popular opinion that was strong enough to pull Him off His anchor. Jesus’ words were a hot dagger through an ice cold religion.

In the end, Jesus knew that a more “marketing friendly” gospel was not good news at all. That the power of sacrificial action (The Golden Rule) came when it was birthed out of the womb of heartfelt repentance. It’s the narrow gate that leads to life. A turnstile with a ticket taker.

Jesus’ offer of hope included authentic and demanding realities. But isn’t that what makes it good news? Isn’t that what compelled Him to come? Isn’t He the only one that understands what’s required at the turnstile?

Perhaps these were some of His most compassionate words, for they underscore the cost of authentic hope. Yes indeed, this is the Golden Rule.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Random Thoughts

So, this is probably something that only matters to me, but I've got to share is somewhere. Here is a song from the Doyle Lawson album that I've been listening to tonight. I wish you all could hear it.

There is a God, and only One
Who made the earth and sun
He made all things, created man
According to His plan

There is a God
He is real
Deep in my heart
His love I feel
When I am there
beneath the sod
I'll see and know
There is a God

When I was lost in sin and shame
The blessed Savior came
He lifted me on higher ground
For heaven I am bound

There is a God
He is real
Deep in my heart
His love I feel
When I am there
beneath the sod
I'll see and know
There is a God

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Luke #51 – The Ministry Jesus Did

I dedicate this devotion to my friends, The Hatfields; I think Rebecca is the only one that notices when I haven't blogged in a while! Plus, these folks don't play the "look at me" game; they love the Lord and live like it. And, one thing to Coach..."C'mon guys, RUN!"

Luke #51 – The Ministry Jesus Did

“And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears’” (Luke 4:17-21 – King James Version).

A young friend was telling me about his experiences working for a particular restaurant recently. He said that his first day on the job a coworker offered him some advice: “Whenever you run out of things to do, you’d better look busy or they’ll have you scrubbing rust spots.” He said he stuck to that advice for a little while, but soon the game was up; whenever he had nothing to do, he scrubbed rust spots. Not only is staying busy to deceive someone wrong, but it is boring and it accomplishes nothing.

The prophet Isaiah told us what kind of ministry Jesus would do during His earthly ministry. Jesus stood in His local synagogue that day and read that Scripture and then announced “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears”. Not only in that moment did Jesus identify Himself to His neighbors as the Messiah, but He affirmed the content and substance of what His ministry would be. Jesus would preach, heal, and free people from sin and bondage.

Read the Gospels for yourself; you will find Jesus there ministering to all whom He encountered. No wasted words or time; no looking busy. When Jesus talked to an adulterous woman or with a Pharisee He always got right to the point; pointing out and confronting their greatest problems and offering to them Himself as the solution.

There are some huge lessons here for us as individuals and as the Church. We need to live lives that keep the main things the main things. Too many times we do things, place God’s name in amongst them, and call it serving God. Wherever Jesus went He left behind transformed lives. It was nitty-gritty ministry that affected people. He promised that we would do greater things than He did; Christ knew that His presence would be multiplied when the Holy Spirit came and filled hordes of believers.

The word the Lord has laid on my heart is a simple reminder to not just seem busy for the Lord. Don’t simply do programs and call it serving God. Don’t fall into that trap. Programs are fine, but don’t forget that programs are nothing if they are not encountering God, following His leading, and affecting lives. The ministry Jesus came to do and subsequently did was practical and effective. Christ kept His focus on the Father and the Father’s will. We need to do the same.

Let us not be weary in doing good things. Let’s not do things just to look the part. Let’s ask God for guidance and the filling of His Spirit and ask Him to use us to impact lives. Whether you keep a nursery, teach Sunday School, sit with elderly folks, go on visitation, cook for church socials, sing in the choir, or simply witness to coworkers and neighbors or work on a church staff…don’t do anything for the sake of appearances or to seem busy. Be effective; do practical ministry; serve God by impacting people. DO the ministry Jesus did; not just what He did, but the way He did it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Resisting the Devil

Days of Praise

Resisting the Devil

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (1 Peter 5:8, 9)

The devil is far more powerful and intelligent (as well as subtle and seductive in his malignant purposes) than any combination of human enemies we could ever face, and we would be utterly unable to defeat him with our own human resources. Yet God’s Word makes it plain that we are neither to yield to him nor flee from him. Instead, the admonition is: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

But how can we resist such a mighty foe? As in our text, we must constantly maintain sobriety and vigilance against his enticements, and be careful to remain "steadfast in the faith." Otherwise, the pseudo-intellectualism and social peer pressure to which we are subjected daily could quickly persuade us to compromise the faith, or even to depart from the faith.

We are commanded not to yield and not to compromise. Instead we must "put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." We have "the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the |wicked one|," and also "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:11, 16, 17).

This mighty sword with which we can make Satan flee from us, is literally "the saying of God"--that is, an appropriate individual word from the complete Word of God. This was the instrument with which the Lord Jesus Himself resisted the devil, parrying each temptation with an incisive thrust of Scripture. The result then--as it will be now with us also--was that the devil "departed from him for a season" (Luke 4:13). HMM

Friday, March 07, 2008

Set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday before going to bed.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Essentially from Dr. Dave Rahn

from Dr. Dave Rahn

NSC StaffHave you ever looked at the 5 ESSENTIALS and thought they could have easily been 3 ESSENTIALS, plus 1 OPTIONAL and 1 FORGETTABLE? What is missing in a ministry site where the focus is on only three or four of the ESSENTIALS?

If Widespread Prayer is an afterthought I wonder if it doesn't testify to a pretty significant flaw in the humility chamber of our hearts. I'm a big fan of humility. In fact, I hope to someday win the President's Trophy for Most Outstanding Example of Humility, delivered at a future MidWinter along with the keys to a new Escalade. The truth is, humility puts us in the first fundamentally necessary position to see God work through us. Asking for prayer — lots of it — keeps us humble. Think of this ESSENTIAL as a gift for your heart.

Some might think it's okay to practice a different definition of Loving Relationships. They take their cue from the old song, Love the One You're With, though they mean something different than the songwriters. But unless there is a consistent pursuit of lost kids we quickly wander off mission. Understand that we can still genuinely minister to young people, but we'll begin to look like the community youth group rather than the Rescue Squad we're called to be. And this ESSENTIAL also compels us to love real kids in real time in the real world. That means we sometimes tutor, feed, clothe, intervene… I think the work for some of us at ministry sites is not that we don't love kids, it's that we don't love them aggressively enough. God's love is Big Time, large enough to make a difference in every encounter with a kid.

Likewise, few of us would consider Faithful Bible Teaching to be an unnecessary part of what we do. But some of our preparation practices don't speak well about our convictions. And instead of being so confidently armed with God's Word (2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2) that we move naturally into conversating the Scripture as we coach kids, we can minimize this ESSENTIAL by exiling it to only formal meeting times like clubs or small groups. Don't be misled. I'm not just talking about our schooling here. Practicing this ESSENTIAL may have more to do with how fresh the biblical meals are that we serve kids than how much we know. We'll feed well when our own Scripture feasts are steady and satisfying.

What is there about Collaborative Community Strategy that's truly ESSENTIAL? Argue with Jesus if you want on this, but it seems that His prayer for our unity is directly connected to evangelism effectiveness (John 17:21). Like others of the Big 5, this ESSENTIAL aligns us with how God works rather than asking the Lord to bless our mess. Does He really care if we can credit evangelism results to a particular organization? We can be so caught up in doing our thing that we can't truly partner with others. In that case our thing will lose power fast.

For Adults Who Empower to be a practical ESSENTIAL our vision needs to be crystal clear and we need to anticipate well. If we wait until we need staff to start looking for staff we're missing the boat. Always be looking! God is raising up people and we need His eyes to scout for prospects for the team. When the light switch gets flipped on for this ESSENTIAL it will no longer be tucked away on a back shelf. Like Jesus calling the boys away from their nets, we'll begin to see the hope and potential in every young person (that would make a great national ad campaign!). Nothing disrupts the flow of transformational ministry like the unplanned loss of co-workers, be they adults or students. And very little predicts fruitfulness as well as having a full bus of the right people.

I've gone over this and over this and still can't figure out which of these is not ESSENTIAL to our important work in the Spirit. By all means, let me know if you think differently.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Luke #49 – A Good Habit

Luke #49 – A Good Habit

“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16 – King James Version).

When I was growing up there was absolutely no discussion about whether we liked the food that was put in front of us. If mama cooked it and put it on that table, we were going to eat it. For some reason I used to abhor lima beans. One time I tried to hide them under the edge of my plate; on the side opposite of my dad’s eyes. That didn’t work. I had to eat them and another helping before I was allowed to leave the table. You may think that was cruel, but I am actually thankful for those lessons. To this day I am not a picky eater. Eating what is put in front of me became habit.

This little verse fills in a lot of Jesus’ childhood years. We know that on the Sabbath Jesus was in the Synagogue because the Scripture says that was “His custom”. As I said in an earlier devotion, a lot of folks think there are a great many missing years in Jesus’ childhood, but that’s not entirely so. This Scripture takes care of about thirty years of Sabbath days.

There is something to be learned here. Making congregational activity a habit on the Sabbath is a good habit to get into. It will never be that if we don’t discipline our lives towards that. I hear too many parents today tell me that they give their children a choice about Sunday worship. That’s a bunch of mess! Teach a good habit! Have one yourself! A little personal testimony: if my family goes on vacation, one of two things are going to happen; we are either going to a worship service wherever we are or we will be home by Sunday morning. That’s that; end of discussion. You may say, “That’s different Tim; you work for the church.” So what? I didn’t always and that was our habit then and it will remain so. Weekend getaways? No problem; the same applies for our family…end of discussion. It is our habit and I believe it is a good one.

Another thing to be learned by the example of our Savior is participation. Christ got up to “read” Scripture during the worship time. Too many folks simply go to worship service on Sunday mornings without participating in the mission and ministries of the church. We need to be involved. We need to take part in ministering to others and take part in Kingdom work through our local church. Just sitting on the pew from 11:00-12:00 won’t cut it. If participation was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me!

Without reservation or condition make regular attendance and participation a good habit in your life. Good habits are usually tougher to begin, but begin they must to become a habit. What do I suggest? Let nothing outside family emergencies (real ones, not Aunt Gertie stumping her toe) or bad sickness stop you from going to worship service each week. Set a goal to not miss for the next six months. Most likely, you will have a habit that will stick after that. Also, research the ministries of your church; pray, asking God which He’d have you participate in; ask someone how to become involved. Bad habits are a dime a dozen. We need some good habits. Make attendance and participation good habits in your life.

Volunteer Newsletter

Just click on each section to enlarge:

Youth For Christ Newsletter

Just click on each part to enlarge (I think!)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

As things might appear...

Sometimes God uses strange things to tenderize me...

I think quite often about Matthew 9:36; it says, But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd (KJV - emphasis mine).

I want to tell you a story...at first it will seem like I am judging someone, and perhaps I was. I don't feel like I was; I feel like I was simply being observant.

I was in a neighborhood store called Roseville Grocery. I stopped to get some gas. As I pulled up a man was walking over from the license office, which is beside that store. I noticed he had a little girl with him; she might have been 5. They got inside the store before I did. The man pulled lots and lots and lots of change out of his pocket. The little girl had a dollar bill in her hand. It didn't take long to determine what was going on; the man was broke and needed to renew his driver's license. He'd gathered his change to do just that; rather than going to the bank, he asked the store clerk if they could use the change because he'd like bills. So, they began to painstakingly count change as I waited a bit impatiently for my turn. (All I wanted was to pay for my apple juice and gas and move on; I had places to be.)

I noticed the man's clothes; work clothes. The shirt had a trite southern phrase and a Confederate flag. He had a matching flag and trite saying tattooed on his inner, right forearm. I noticed the little girl and thought, "Wow, she's cute. That's a home haircut." The little girl was patiently holding her dollar. I think her dad had told her that he might need it if he didn't have enough change. She pensively offered it to him several times. He patiently, tenderly said, "Wait honey" or "Just a minute, baby..." She had stains on her shirt. Her shoes were too big.

The little girl had beautiful eyes. She looked at me several times. Of course, I smiled and winked. I was a bit worried that she would have to give up her little dollar and was wondering if it would be okay to give her one; I realized I had NO CASH. Wow, I felt bad, but I almost felt relieved because there was no possibility to become involved if I had no way to help. Then I felt guilty that I was in a rush. Then I felt powerless again, except this time I was said because I realized that I WANTED to become involved.

I've been known to complain. I noticed this little girl and her dad. Obviously they were poor. I began to imagine scenarios. Did they drink it away? Did they waste it on dumb stuff? Were they the "working poor" that I know so intimately from my own experience? I don't know.

The change counted, the dad had a nickel extra and gave it to the little girl to bring her total to $1.05. I stepped aside and chose to wait a little longer. I wanted to watch the rest of this scene unfold. Would she pick chocolate? Gummi worms? Chewing gum? None of that; she chose a $.65 package of cheese and crackers -- you know the type with the little, flat red stick that you use to spread the cheese. She paid and the total was $.69. She looked at me and this time she smiled back.

I wanted to cry.

She was happy!

Here I am, in touch with the God of the universe and I wanted to rush through my day. This little girl was happy with cheese and crackers. I felt shame for me and joy for her.

I began to think about a lot of things in life. How many people are struggling every day to pay for license renewals and buy cheese and crackers for their precious little children? How many people wear work clothes everywhere they go because that's all they have? How many people are struggling in general? Many, I know, make bad decisions. Many suffer under the hardship of foolish parents. Many are socially decent people simply struggling to live in a tough world. Many young people are holding their little valuables (sense of decency, self-esteem, etc.) wondering if their parents will require that they give what they have. How many people could use a heart of compassion and all the receive is a look of judgment?

When Jesus looked on the world, it was with a heart of compassion. Tim, not so often.

Lord, change me! Give me the heart of Jesus that I might see the world through Your eyes and discern it through Your heart. Help me to, not only UNDERSTAND my world, but to be moved with compassion when I see what's going on. Help me point people to the Good Shepherd.

This little writing might not make sense to you, but it does to me. What a great way to get the bulk of my day started; just watching a family work through a little of life awakened my senses to the compassionate heart of God. I stopped thinking about my wife's broken down car, my cramped schedule, my feelings of insufficiency, all the things I am running behind in...I began to talk with God, hear from God and a parade of faces came into my mind and I sensed God saying to me..."Tim, be moved with compassion today." I was. Thank God what He does in me.

What might be different in our lives if we are moved with compassion more often?