Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shaken and Stirred

“…He stirs up the people…” (Luke 23:5 – ESV)

If you’re from around here, or have lived here long, you know about our great traditions of cooking hog meat and pots of stew. Apparently these practices are not normal everywhere, but my belly sure does appreciate the normality of our local eating customs!

Every year my father-in-law, one of his friends, and his two brothers cook a stew on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The key to cooking a stew is a good recipe. Assuming you have a good stew recipe, you need a good crew of stirrers. One thing you do not want to happen is for your stew to stick to the pot! This is catastrophic! Thirty gallons of ingredients can be wasted if not stirred properly, but this same potpourri mixture of meats, vegetables and other stuff can be a wonderful treat if cooked slowly and stirred properly.

Funny…sometimes a good stirring is just what’s needed, with both stews and people.

The snippet of Scripture in today’s devotion is taken from the end of Jesus’ earthly life and it’s very appropriate for this time of year, even as we celebrate the beginning of His earthly life. This comment was made by the religious leaders of Israel who had arrested Jesus and taken Him before Pilate to be tried and punished. They had many complaints, but one of the main accusations was that Jesus “stirs up” people with His teaching. It’s true! He’s guilty!

It’s perfect that Jesus was guilty of stirring people up with His teaching because His whole life was about causing a stir.

The announcement alone that Jesus was going to be born of Mary’s womb stirred Mary and Joseph up in a terrible way. John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb at the very presence of the fetal Christ. God called a census through the Roman government that stirred up thousands of people as they were charged with being counted in their ancestral hometowns. He even moved critters out of barns just so He could be born!

An angel came down from heaven, announcing His birth to shepherds, interrupting their work. A multitude of angels joined the herald angel to worship Immanuel as He was being born. All of this ruckus occurred before the Christ Child set a tiny foot on the soil! He certainly was responsible for stirring things up!

The Christ Child made the star move and led Wise Men to Himself. He caused the scribes to search scrolls and ponder prophesies. He made Herod the king so nervous that Herod called out the troops to kill Jesus (they failed, but I guess you knew that). He made His family move from one place to the other until they settled, at some point in His childhood, in Nazareth.

Even then, as he grew to be a young man, Jesus astounded religious teachers and stopped the family caravan whilst they searched for Him.
When Jesus began His earthly ministry He really stirred things up. He made religious leaders insanely angry. He made demons run away by the hordes. He made sickness disappear and forgave sins, sometimes to the fury of religious system. He made political figures have to consider the worth of His ministry and the intent of His actions. He made people leave their jobs, forsake their sins, and transformed lives. He made sisters disagree and brothers switch allegiance. He denied Satan and embraced the down-trodden. He incensed the proud and healed the humble. Jesus turned society, the church, homes and the government on its ears!

Yes! He stirs things up! Even today, we can stand on Him as the cornerstone or be crushed by Him as the Rock of Ages.

Frankly, the truth is that if Jesus’ hasn’t stirred you, you’re probably stuck and in danger of being burnt. As for me, I am thankful to be shaken and stirred.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Luke #70 – Gift of Grace Shared

Luke #70 – Gift of Grace Shared
“And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, ‘Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him” (Luke 5:7-11 – King James Version).

My dad had a friend named Charlie when we lived in Texas that was a lot of fun to be around. Charlie loved kids and he did a lot of nice things for us. The first time I met Charlie he asked me to come over to his house; “It’s on the lake; you can go fishing,” he said. Well, fishing or no fishing, I didn’t know that fellow very well and I wasn’t too keen on the idea. My dad said, “Go ahead, boy, it’s all right.” Trying to find something that might interest me, Charlie said, “I’ve got a big, pink yacht over there and you can ride it!” Well, now…that changed things dramatically! First off, I liked riding boats and secondly a pink boat was a sight that shouldn’t be passed over. I decided to go.

On the way over to Charlie’s house he stopped at a convenience store. “Do you want a piece of gum?” asked Charlie. “Well, I guess so; thanks,” was my weak reply. I didn’t want to turn down Charlie’s kindness, but I wasn’t (nor am I now) in love with bubble gum. If I had to chew the stuff I wanted Super Bubble. I got a piece and was blowing bubbles pretty good when Charlie came out of the store. I noticed right away that Charlie had one of those large, plastic buckets of gum under his arm. He got into the truck and presented the bucket to me, exclaiming, “It’s all yours!” Though I neither needed nor wanted that much gum, I liked Charlie from that moment on.

We had not been in Texas long, so I was in want of making new friends. I found out that many kids went to the Dairy Queen every day. I went down to that ice cream shop and handed out gum. I made some new friends with that big bucket of Super Bubble. The bonus was that I was making friends with gifts that didn’t cost me a dime. (For the record…Charlie did have a big, pink boat…it was grand!)

When I reread these verses today I remembered good ‘ol Charlie and that story above. The big boat and the chewing gum served to get my attention and from there Charlie and I became good friends. Charlie was always good to me, so I tried my best to respond in kind.

The great catch of fish got Peter’s attention. From there he went on to become well acquainted with the Lord Jesus. How did Jesus first get your attention?

I cannot help but notice that Peter’s first instinct was to share the Lord’s blessing. Peter and his fishing mates “beckoned unto their partners” and both ships were filled with fish. The Lord has blessed us all in some way and many of us in many ways. What have you shared from His benevolent hand? I gave away gum that cost me nothing just as Peter gave away fish that cost him nothing. The Lord Jesus gives us things all the time (even the air of our lungs and the blood in our veins) and I truly believe He intends for us to share. Has God blessed you with money? Share it. Has God blessed you with the abundance to have more things (cars, property, clothes, houses, food, etc) than you have NEED of? Share them. Every thing we have comes by His grace and we have the RESPONSIBILITY to share those things. If Peter had kept all the fish his ship may have sank (verse 7). He gave them away and both boats nearly sank! We are drowning in things! We NEED to give some of them away before they pull us under!

The story with Charlie stops at things, but the truth of Jesus’ giving only begins with things. Christ then called those fellows to become fishers of men. Sure, they would continue to share the things that God gave them, but a higher gifting was at hand. The giving would be better as well as the gifts. Where once Peter had only fish to share, now he would be given the privilege of sharing the message of life (Acts 3:6)!

Do you want to give away something that cost you nothing? Do you want to have the proper response to the grace of God? Share the grace that has been given you! Share liberally for the supply is unending. Share confidently; “fear not,” the Giver will insure the gift! Share often, it cost us nothing and the price (a dear one at that), has been paid! Rather than material gifts that may weigh us down to near sinking, the gift of life in Jesus lifts us up! SHARE IT! Bubble gum will serve to make friends for a moment; the gift of life makes friends that last forever. Share it!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Luke #69 – Reality Series

Luke #69 – Reality Series
“And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, ‘Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him” (Luke 5:7-11 – King James Version).

Do you watch those reality shows on TV? I am very wary of them. Reality is defined as “state or quality of being real” or a “resemblance to what is real.” These shows are real, because there are real things happening to real people, but it stops there. There is a fine line right here…these shows are drama, not reality. Regular folk DO NOT go and live on a deserted island with people they cannot stand and hardly any food. Regular folk do not get into vats of cockroaches or eat live critters. Regular people do not get their spouse from a game show. Regular people do not trade wives for a month to see if someone else’s is better. This is not reality, but I am afraid that through popular television, people will begin to think that it is. All that it is TV setting people up to perform an unrehearsed drama and sacrifice their self-respect at the altar of ratings.

Today’s Scripture presents us with reality that we would rather think of as fantasy. The Lord Jesus causes the fisherman to receive such a great haul of fish that their nets brake. At the command to cast out and fish, Peter had been obedient, but he did not believe any thing would happen. When Peter saw the great haul of fish, his unbelief was revealed and Peter fell before the Lord confessing. The reality is that much of the church walks behind a veil of unbelief.

What do I mean by that? Simply this, we go through the motions, careful to do the right things, but we don’t really believe anything will happen. We are like some surreal “reality” show that fakes the appearance of true reality. We pray because we are supposed to, but do we expect God to not only hear, but to move? Do we have unbelieving hearts that need to fall broken before God?

Another plain reality is this: when we see or realize the power of God, we will fall down before Him. When we have an encounter with the Lord Jesus we will fall down before Him crying, “I AM UNWORTHY!” Too often we are trying to get some kind of warm fuzzy feeling from Jesus, when what we should have is an awesome reverence for Him.

Another plain reality: when Peter realized the power of this God-Man, Christ Jesus, Peter’s concentration was no longer on the stuff. By stuff I mean the fish in this particular case. His concentration switched from things to his soul condition and Peter’s concentration also switched to worship of Christ. Too often we want stuff from the Lord, but what He wants from us is worship.

Another plain reality: the moment Jesus got those guys attention He gave them a new agenda. Their agenda was no longer fishing for fish, but fishing for souls. Too often we want the stuff, and we want our own agenda, and we want Jesus on the side or mixed in with that mess. Jesus calls His followers to a new, different, higher, and better agenda. It is certainly not a personal agenda.

Another plain reality: when Jesus calls and when we respond, it cannot be a half-hearted venture. Verse 11 says that those fellows “forsook all” and “followed Him.” Can each of say today that we have taken this posture with the Lord? Are we trying to cling to the old man, the old life, and the old way? Are we trying to have this life and the one Jesus offers at the same time? They have very different ends; which do we want?

Another plain reality: our service and devotion to Christ is not conditional. Jesus gave no time frame to these fishermen’s call. He gave them no mission directive; it was an open ended call to follow Him…come what may…at His discretion.

I really believe that today’s church (that’s you and me) wants something that resembles the Christian life, but we don’t want it to be too real. We want ratings over reality. The reality is that we are sinful people in the presence of a holy God. We cannot act as if it is any other way and we cannot ignore God’s holiness or our sinfulness and claim to know Him or serve Him. It is not a drama, but a reality. The reality is that we cannot live the old life and the new life at the same time. We MUST forsake all to follow Him. God will not settle for our definition of a reality that “resembles” something other than the real deal. God will not settle for a dramatic reality that is anything but real. He wants real people, sure, but He wants people to be real with Him…recognize who we are and who He is, count the cost, forsake it all, and follow Him and His agenda. Are we living television’s idea of reality or God’s?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Luke #68 – Under New Management

Luke #68 – Under New Management
“Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.’ And Simon answering said unto Him, ‘Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net.’ And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake” (Luke 5:4-6 – King James Version).

I had just left class in Wake Forest when my cell phone rang. It was Care and I could tell she was very upset. “What’s wrong?” is all I said. “It’s Katie,” Care replied, “Her arm is hurting and she has been crying for over an hour. I can’t tell what’s wrong with it!” I said, “I am coming!” When I got home (about an hour later) Katie was still crying. Now, Katie is a daddy’s girl, so when she saw me she began to cry all the more. I sat down and pulled Katie into my lap. I began to inspect her arm and she commenced to wailing all the harder. I thought her arm might be dislocated. She had fallen while walking; as she was holding Care’s hand, Care tried to catch her. That sounded like something that might cause her arm to pop out of place. I have been involved in all sorts of injuries and thought I could pop it into place…wrong move! I thought Katie was going to fall apart she was screaming so loud. Flustered, at wits end, and tired of my little girl being in pain I concluded that a trip to the emergency room was in order. Then it occurred to me that we had not prayed; asking God to intervene. As per James 5:15-16, I prayed, believing God to move. Katie let me lay hands on her and I petitioned God with confidence. After the “Amen”, Katie wouldn’t let me touch the arm anymore. We got in the van and headed for the hospital. I wondered What did I do wrong? Before we were half way to town, she lifted the arm above her head and declared, “My arm is all better!” Praise God!

As Simon Peter had been fishing all night and I imagine he was pretty tired, yet at the word of Jesus, Peter pressed on. Under new management the fishing crew hauled in a catch that was too great for their equipment! After an experience like that I would imagine that Peter would want Jesus as a fishing partner anytime!

MANY lessons can be found here in this simple piece of Scripture. We can learn to press on, even when tired. We can learn a lesson in obedience; even when the situation seems bleak, just obey the Master. We can learn a lesson in trust; let God have His way and trust the results to Him. We can learn a lesson about usefulness; it’s not that we need grand equipment or strategies, but that we need to allow everything for the Lord’s usage. We can learn a lesson in preparedness; be ready to be used or to have your possessions used (remember…when this passage began, those fellows were cleaning the nets – verse 2).

There is a lesson that just jumps out at me for today. It is a lesson about management. I cannot stand those signs that are often seen on car plates or bumper stickers that say “God is my Co-pilot.” Phoooey! He ought to be the pilot! Personally, I don’t want to drive! I did that for a while and wrecked my life! The Bible says that there is a way that SEEMS right to a person, but that way leads to death (Proverbs 16:25). Mankind doesn’t need someone riding shotgun, watching them wreck the ride. We need someone to grab the wheel and not fight the direction He wants to drive in.

Peter’s fishing enterprise came under new management and the results were vastly different. That’s what I want! Take over my life Lord! I am tired and weary, but at Thy bidding, I will give this enterprise to You! I want to turn every part over to this God that does so much with so little; my mind, my time, my hands and feet, my mouth, and yes, even my money. Even when it comes to giving tithes and offerings the Lord God will bless until the equipment bursts (Malachi 3:10). The Lord God Almighty wants to take over our lives and produce a better and different product than what we were doing. How about it, my friend? Are you under new management?

When I finally wised up and let the Lord take over Katie’s injury, His results far outweighed what my efforts produced. It might have seemed like a small thing, but it taught me a great lesson in having the proper management in charge. The Lord God, in Christ Jesus, has healed my dislocated soul, repaired my broken heart, and mended my distorted mind. I sure am glad I gave this messed up project to Him! It was not easy…I had so much work in it that it was hard to turn it over. I wasn’t sure He could or would fix it at first, but now I am running over with HIM! I glad He fired that old man and Jesus took over management of my life!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Luke #67 – The World Was His Pulpit

Luke #67 – The World Was His Pulpit
“And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship (Luke 5:1-3 – King James Version).

Recently my wife and I were talking to an old friend, Bob McLaughlin, at our neighborhood swimming hole. I met Care at the pool after going to the grocery store, a chore that Care particularly hates. The baby went with me and Katie Ruth went with her mom to the pool. Bob said, “Care, stop being so rough on your husband.” My extremely good-natured wife was puzzled, saying, “Bob, what are you talking about?” “Well,” Bob continued, “you get to go to the pool while Tim takes the baby to the grocery store. I already know he does all the cooking in the house. Give the boy a break!” I was laughing my head off by this point. Care, without missing a beat, said, “Bob, all that may be true, but I have to listen to Tim preach everyday!” Knowing my penchant for a soapbox and a sermon, Bob said, “Yep, didn’t think of that…that does change everything…Tim should do more since you have to listen to him all the time!”

The night before this incident I went fishing with my brother and nephew, David and Travis. We were on a pontoon in the middle of the night, in the middle of McGhee’s Mill; we had played several games such as naming songs with certain words in the title (always a good thing to do while waiting for catfish to bite!). We began playing another game; we started telling Bible stories. The rules were simple: tell the story from memory and in our own words. Things like this sharpen our ability to share BIG truths from the word of God in ways that are easily grasped. I was with a group of teenagers once, doing the same thing, at a bunch of picnic tables. Afterwards, one young lady said, “I didn’t know I knew so much about the Bible!” Most of us would be surprised by how much of the Word is implanted over the years; we might not even begin to understand how much is there until we begin letting it out. Sharing sharpens.

I think it is totally amazing that Jesus was always ready to teach people; lead them in understanding God’s word. The entire world was His pulpit! Jesus did not need just the right circumstance, the right time, or the right place. Everywhere He went He was ready to preach and teach. He taught in the local worship halls, on hillsides, in the street, or beside (and IN) a lake. We would do well to emulate Christ in this!

Sometimes I do my greatest preaching in Wal-Mart. Being a local boy, I see tons of people I know when I shop, or at the swimming pool, as I fish, when I go to ball games, or wherever I am in and around town. How will people know about the love and plan of God unless someone tells them (Romans 10:13-15)? I want to be ready in season and out; ready at all times to share God’s word with people, that as I go along, folks may be helped and changed (2 Timothy 4:2; Galatians 6:9). I notice too that Jesus didn’t need to get into or out of priestly robes to share God’s word. One moment He was teaching and preaching and the next He was fishing (verses 3 and 4). Nothing interrupted Him; He went about His day and every moment was an opportunity to share God’s messages of salvation and judgment. He was always ready! Can we say that we are following His lead in this?

I don’t just hope it will happen, that I get to share; I pray it happens! I prepare; I constantly read and study Scripture. I often preach to the empty walls of my house so that I will be ready to preach to people. I tell Care all the time that I am going to make a pulpit with wheels so I can roll it all over the house practicing my preaching. Care hears more sermons than anyone, but she is helping me prepare and we are growing together. Sharing sharpens.

Friend, the devotional thought for today is simple: don’t wait for the right place, time, or circumstance to share God’s word. Don’t think that you’ve got to do it at church only. Don’t think that you can’t share in Wal-Mart while wearing shorts and flip-flops or at your work place wearing a polo shirt or work boots. The thing we need to do is be prepared. Study and share; both sharpen. The world was Jesus’ pulpit…everywhere He was and went…can we say the same?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Fat Body, Big God and Discipline = Entry #5

Still fat. However, I want to rejoice in God at my pursuit. I am not dieting, but I am making choices. The big choice is to eat and drink with more wisdom. I have been doing that. I have been drinking extremely reduced amounts of tea and soft drinks. For example, I only drank three soft drinks and one glass of tea between the beginning of September and Thanksgiving. I must confess, for most of Thanksgiving weekend, I ate and drank whatever I wanted to eat and drink. I simply enjoyed the holiday gatherings.

That's been a good change, but it's not simply a declaration. It's been facing every meal and every snack by making good choices.

I haven't weighed in a long time, and don't care to do it now.

After much prayer, this week I started to consciously cut down on carbs. I haven't gone nuts, but I've really cut back. I didn't throw the croƻtons out of my Caesar salad yesterday, but I didn't eat the bread with it.

Lord, help me, I'll get there...

Luke #66 – Hand in Hand

Luke #66 – Hand in Hand
“And He preached in the synagogues of Galilee. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 4:44-5:1 – King James Version).

I love to play billiards. I hardly play these days for lack of time and a decent place in which to do it. Recently, I was playing at a friend’s house. A young person saw me using two items on the end of my stick and wanted to know what I was doing. First, I showed them a small block of blue chalk that I put on the end of my stick to help the stick and ball make good, non-slipping contact. Later on, the young person saw me using an abrasive tool on the end of the stick. “Doesn’t that take all of the chalk off?” asked the teenager. It was good thinking and I said as much. Then I explained that many times the end of a pool cue becomes so slick that it will not and cannot hold chalk. One must take the abrasive tool and rough the shooting end of the pool cue; this roughing process not only softens the tip, but it provides a means by which the chalk can then stick to the shooting end of the cue. Both items not only have a place, but are very much needed to help the cue function properly.

In today’s verses we find our Lord Jesus teaching in the synagogues and on a lake shore. As you investigate the Gospels you will see that Christ shared the message of salvation and how to properly walk with God no matter where He was or what platform He had to speak from.

There are two key things that this passage makes me think of. First, we need para-church organizations. Some Christians frown on para-church organizations, but I am a great fan of these ministries. Often an organization that works outside the boundaries of church life can have a more focused ministry than the staff and laypersons of the local church could have. In the same way, many times a church cannot go where a para-church ministry can with laws that govern the separation of church and state. Also, the average church has many ministries going on at one time and a para-church organization can devote itself fully to one type of ministry. Many times a para-church ministry focuses on more than one thing, but I have never seen nor heard of a para-church ministry that has as many different ministries as any local congregation.

The church is a well organized body whose main focus is growing saints into the fullness of Christ Jesus. The synagogues of Jesus time functioned much in the same way. One moment Christ was teaching in the organized synagogue and the next Jesus was out on the lake shore doing the same thing. Both of these ways of ministering to people were important in Jesus’ time and are important today.

The second thing this passage makes me think of it the fact that we must leave the hallowed walls of the church building and meet people where they are. Too many times we sit back hoping people will be dazzled enough by our programs to come to us when what we need is to take to them what they need. Jesus understood that there was plenty of ministry to do to people in organized religion, but there was a lot of ministry to do outside of that as well.

Like the sanding tool and the chalk, para-church ministries and the well founded, organized church do not seem to go hand in hand, but they do. Like the two tools for preparing a pool cue to function properly, both in-church and outside-church efforts are needed. The sanding tool prepares the stick for the chalk. Outside-church and para-church ministries often prepare people for church.

Support and participate with God honoring para-church organizations. Get out of the church walls and meet people where they are. The point is not to bring them to your church, but to introduce them to your savior. That introduction alone will get the vast majority into a church body. Church work and the work done outside of the walls go hand in hand. Forsake neither…support and participate in both.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Luke #65 – Crumbs or Buffet?

Luke #65 – Crumbs or Buffet?
“And when it was day, He departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought Him, and came unto Him, and stayed Him, that He should not depart from them. And He said unto them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.’ And He preached in the synagogues of Galilee” (Luke 4:42-44 – King James Version).

I am notorious for picking up hitchhikers. The way I figure it is that for a few moments, at least, I have a captive audience to share the Gospel with. I also figure that if a person is walking somewhere and is trying to get a ride along the way, then they aren’t walking because they necessarily want to walk. That tells me that person may be experiencing some difficulty or some laziness…either way; I think they are people to whom I can minister.

While in Roxboro, NC I picked a fellow up one day who told me that he had been walking from Georgia to Virginia. He’d been sleeping under bridges and eating hand to mouth, as he was broke. We went through a fast food drive through, and I headed toward South Boston, VA where the man said he was from. Along the way (I was driving slowly) I shared God’s love with the man and shared God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. He listened, but did not respond. He wanted me to drop him at the Hardees in South Boston. As we stopped in the parking lot the man asked me for some money. I immediately gave him enough to use the pay phone. I asked the man did he own a copy of the Scripture; as he did not, I gave him a Bible. I also attempted to give him an Eternal Life tract, but he refused. I guess he wanted a ride in my car and the food I could provide, but he didn’t want the greatest gift that I had offered, which was Jesus (not that Jesus is mine to give, but you know what I mean). Here’s the kicker…while the man was on the phone I put a $20 bill in the tract. He didn’t take the tract, which was of greater importance than the money, and he missed out on the money too. The only other money I had was $7 and some change; I gave it to him and headed home. He got the crumbs when he could’ve gotten the buffet.

As was plainly stated yesterday, the people of Capernaum did not want Jesus to leave. They begged Him not to go. I could not help but notice that when Jesus says that He must go preach, not one of them says, “OH, PLEASE STAY HERE AND DO THAT!”

You know, it seems like the folks in Capernaum then are just like the people around here now. They want Jesus, but only on their own terms. They want the healing touch of Jesus and the salvation that would keep them from hell, but they don’t want to give their lives to Him. They want what He has without obeying what He says. It seems people want God’s love without God’s requirements. People seem to want to experience Christ’s healing hands without heeding His call to holiness. It seems people want the power without the preaching! They want the call without the conviction!

Those folks in Capernaum wanted what was good for them, but were not concerned about the kingdom. That’s the way of most people and churches these days. If it doesn’t help them personally or grow their own church, they seem to not be interested. Christ wasn’t concerned with putting Capernaum on the map (so to speak), rather He was concerned with the Kingdom which is never limited to a map or an individual.

Human beings, by our sinful nature, are selfish and self-centered. Christ ministry on earth was centered on the will of God and He stayed focused on that. He looked beyond what was comfortable for Himself to what was good for us all and profitable for the Kingdom; had He not, He would have never died on that cross. Human beings, also by our sinful nature, tend to worry more about pleasing our bodies and satisfying our minds than seeking what’s best for our souls. The body is like grass that fades away. The soul, whether in heaven or hell, lasts an eternity.

The problem with that mentality is that if we seek to please ourselves first and God second, not only will we lose what we put first but will lose what we put second as well. Also, the opposite is true too; if we put God first and ourselves second, then we will gain God and He’ll take care of us (Matthew 6:33). That man to whom I gave the ride refused the sermon and missed the $20…he missed the greater temporal blessing and the more important heavenly blessing. I see that happen a lot with the way Christians spend their money. We work hard to buy a boat, a new truck…whatever ...during the process many forsake giving SACRIFICIALLY to God, or even forsake tithing. Ten years later, if that long, the boat is gone; the truck is gone and all that money that was spent didn’t make a hill of dry beans to the Kingdom of God. Sure, we can use boats and trucks and bigger houses to serve God, but how often is that done? Most of the time we are just trying to please self. I wish it was only a little money that was at stake. Take Jesus and get the whole package…salvation and security (salvation alone is plenty security!). Try to create your own brand of security and you’ll miss the whole deal.

Who is Jesus to you today? Is He simply your personal assistant; someone you call when you need help or when there is something you want? Are you heeding the things He says? Do you want His sermons or simply His favors? Do you want God to only give you what you want and leave everything else alone? Will you take the cross or only the crown? If any of us want Jesus, we’ve got to take the whole package. Don’t take the crumbs and miss the buffet. Beg Him to stay for a healing touch AND for a convicting sermon that heals the soul eternally.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Luke #64 - I Get Sad When You Leave

Luke #64 – I Get Sad When You Leave
“And when it was day, He departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought Him, and came unto Him, and stayed Him, that He should not depart from them” (Luke 4:42 – King James Version).

At the writing of this story, Katie was a wonderful little 3 1/2 year old person that God had blessed my life with.

Recently, she and I were reading a book about feelings. The book identified and gave the proper name to a range of feelings that we often feel. It has helped Katie tell me how she feels on several occasions; it’s not often that a young child her age knows how to tell someone that she is “disappointed.” I asked Katie several questions about her feelings, like “What makes you happy?” and “What makes you angry?” Of course, she gave me childlike answers like “When I go to church.” or “When someone takes something from my hand.” Then, as she often does, she floored me. I said, “Katie, what makes you sad?” Already seated on my lap, Katie laid her head against my chest, began to rub the back of my head, and said, “When you leave.” I almost lost it! I nearly began to weep. I realized that my child so loved me that she was saddened when I was not around.

Another story (if you don’t mind)…I am always amazed that the young people I minister to hate to go home from retreats and camps. I usually cannot wait to go home and see my family. Something occurred to me one day when we were packing up after a retreat. During these various outings these kids find themselves in an insulated environment, away from routine and distractions, and they meet with God. When it comes time to leave they do not want to go because they are afraid that the preciousness of that encounter with God cannot be duplicated in another place.

Jesus went to spend time alone with God and the people followed Him, sensing that He was preparing to leave Capernaum. They had seen and felt the awesome power of God’s healing in Christ Jesus. They had felt the dear touch of God and wanted Him to linger among them. They wanted more! Nearness to this wonderful power had become sweet and they begged the Christ to stay.

When God stepped down from heaven and took the form of man in Jesus it was Isaiah’s prophecy coming to life…God was with man (Isaiah 7:14)! He walked among us, talked with us, died for us, and defeated death and sin for us. Jesus healed, taught, and broke the power of sin and broke the bonds of sin. I cannot blame the people of Capernaum for begging Jesus to stay.

For the believer today, we need not hearken to some certain place or cling to a location for we have a much sweeter Jesus amongst us…by that I mean to say that He is no longer ONLY “God with us” but GOD IN US! Praises to His wonderful name! Bless God, O my soul, bless God! By His dying on the cross; by His going up, ascending to the Father, He provided a coming in for Himself…an indwelling in believers that assures us the never ending access to His presence. After all, that was His promise (John 15:5; Matthew 28:20). We do not have to depend on a solitary moment or place to experience His presence.

Were we like to Christ as my sweet little girl is to me…that we would be saddened by His absence, or even at the thought of the possibility. Were we to so love our Lord that to not be near Him would make us sad, we would finally grasp the intimacy that He wants with us.

The sad truth is that He doesn’t leave us, we leave Him. We sin or become apathetic. We drift away, sometimes not even knowing exactly how it happened. Maybe it’s got something to do with the distractions. Maybe it’s got something to do with busyness. I am sure it has a lot to do with lack of focus and much to do with our selfish and sinful hearts.

This much is certain…if we seek Him, He will be found (2 Chronicles 15:15). That’s a promise that we should gladly accept and pursue. He will not abandon us (Deuteronomy 4:31; Joshua 1:5; 1 Samuel 12:22; Hebrews 13:5…and many more!). We simply must walk in His ways and in humility meet with Him in prayer and the Scripture. Trust me, He’ll show up.

How sweet is fellowship with Christ to you today? Are you saddened when He’s not near to you? Do you need a place or a certain feeling to meet with Him? Seek Him out today; beg Him to be near. He will.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Luke #63 - Time For Everything But That

Luke #63 – Time For Everything But That
“And when it was day, He departed and went into a desert place” (Luke 4:42a – King James Version).

I remember very plainly that I was sitting in my office when the planes struck the twin towers in New York. My pastor and I went to his house and watched the news. We did not speak for an hour and a half. We were listening; we wanted to know what went wrong and were in stunned silence at the events that we witnessed.

Every time I go to the doctor the nurses put me in this little room. Eventually the doctor comes in and at some point he sticks a stethoscope on my chest and back. We both like to talk, but when he is doing that we are both silent as church mice. I want him to hear clearly to tell me what’s wrong and he wants to listen intently to hear if anything is wrong. I don’t want a single thing to interfere with a proper diagnosis.

I was working through a personal prayer and repentance guide at a recent retreat when I became convicted of the time I actually devoted to my prayer life. Part of that morning’s retreat instruction was to spend time, and I mean serious time, praising God. As I went through my repentance guide I kept thinking I pray quite a bit, but I don’t have the time to spend that these instructors are urging me to spend in prayer! Finally, the convicting voice of God broke over my protests and excuses and made me realize that I have time to watch Sportscenter almost every day and many times TWICE a day. I realized that I MAKE time for the things that I want to do!

I know that you all know where these illustrations are going by simply reading the Scripture for today. Jesus rose early to have QUIET time, alone with God. I am sure that the hectic ministry that He did in Capernaum required a time of refreshing, but I believe that more than that was His desire to fellowship with God on a personal and intimate level.

Having a meaningful quiet time is essential for a good walk with God. We can say we don’t have time, but we seem to have time for anything that we WANT to do. We have time to pursue hobbies. We have time to go to movies, watch TV, listen to music or play video games. I have been freshly convicted of this and Lord, before You even now, I repent. Having a quiet time with God is not only something I want, but something I desperately need. Do you feel this is important too? Do you feel the drawing of God; calling you to spend more intimate time with Him?

Most of our days are filled with shocking events; our emotions are shocked. We need to sit still before the Lord in the morning to prepare for those things and sit still before the Lord during them so that we may survive and thrive during them, and sit still before the Lord after these events to recover from them. We need to hear from God; gain HIS perspective on things.

There are things wrong with each of us; most of it sin that we may not even realize (sinful thoughts and attitudes are often hard to detect with a quick analysis). Like going to the doctor, we need to be silent and still before the Great Physician as He examines us and shows us the things that ail us. We need all the distractions to be out of the way that we may hear clearly during these quiet times with God.

More than recovering from days of shock and more than being examined, we need to experience intimate fellowship with Almighty God on a regular basis. That may require that we rise early or depart from our normal routine. I am sure we will have to sacrifice something to make time for God. I am also sure we won’t regret it. The question: will we do it? When it comes to spending time with God, alone, unimpeded, it seems we have time for anything but that.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Luke #62 - Too Close for Comfort

Luke #62 – Too Close for Comfort
“And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, ‘Thou art Christ the Son of God.’ And He rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that He was Christ” (Luke 4:41 – King James Version).

Relay For Life is a wonderful fundraising organization that helps the American Cancer Society help raise funds to fight cancer. Individuals form teams and do various fundraisers; then, the teams get together for an all night, non-stop relay in which team members take turns walking to symbolize the twenty-four hour struggle that cancer is for those stricken with any form of the disease. I wholeheartedly support what they do and have helped them raise money for several years.

I say all that to let you know that I support them; these next comments will not be flattering, but will serve as a perfect illustration for today’s devotion. Recently a team from our church participated in the all night relay event. We were given shirts to wear. On the back of the shirts were the names of corporate sponsors. One was a tavern; I blacked it off my shirt. I won’t endorse drinking in any way. The Bible never says “Thou shalt not drink!”, but I have seen too much damage done by alcohol (Scripture does say “Don’t get drunk” but I haven’t found many folks that drink without wanting to be drunk!). Another sponsor that sickened me was a company called PHE. I have no idea what the p, h, and e stand for, but that company sells pornography. I blacked that out too (FERVENTLY!).

One person saw me marking it off with my paint marker and asked me why I was doing it. I simply told them that I refused to walk around with that trash on my back. They didn’t know what the company sold. When I told them they said, “Well, at least they are giving money to a good cause.” To which I replied, “If it were up to me, Relay for Life wouldn’t take a red dime from them. Dirty money, earned by immorality and sin is still dirty!” Needless to say, I feel pretty strongly about this. The person then said, “Well, I didn’t know what it was and most other people won’t either.” I said, “I don’t care what other people know; I know and God knows the filth they peddle.” The person then said, “Well, people can look at other shirts and know what it was that you crossed out.” I replied, “They sure can…and I hope someone asks me why I crossed it out. I will be pleased to tell them.”

We live in a world that compromises too much! We have church buildings full of people who compromise too much! We have too much to do with too many things that God would call evil and hellish! Sure, we are to be IN the world, but not OF the world. Christians live by a different rule (or at least they should) than that of the world.

Some of you may think I am going a bit far with this, but I don’t. We are to be different than this world. The Living God abides in believers and He did not tolerate evil in any form. Don’t forget this; He loved sinners and hated sin. I don’t hate the people that produce pornography; I love them. Their sin is no worse than mine. I don’t go around wearing advertisements for my sin on my shirts and I’ll not wear theirs either! I am not having a part of it! I do hate pornography and will stand against it any chance I get. (For the record, I stand against gossips, murderers, drug dealers, grudge holders, pride, and the entire host of sin that Jesus stood against too!)

That day, as Jesus walked around Capernaum healing people, He casts demons out of some of the people. When the demons came out they identified Jesus as the Christ. Jesus told them to hush! He did not want to be identified with these fallen, evil creatures so even their accolades were unwanted. Those demons were telling the truth; Jesus was and is the Christ, but Jesus did not want any part of their rebellious endorsements…even if it was the truth. Jesus was not denying the truth, but He was refusing association with those evil ones who were saying it.

I’ll you as plain as I can do it…we need some of this in the church today! We need to disassociate ourselves from a bunch of this mess! Too many people are endorsing things that God would hate! I don’t care how much money some company or person gives to a church or good cause, evil is evil and sin is sin and we should have no part with any mess like that!

Listen, I could write a list that would take days to read noting the things I have seen Christians consciously and unconsciously endorse, but I want to make a simple point. It’s up to each of us as individuals to let God deal with us on the trash in our lives. My point is this: Christ wouldn’t let a demon speak a truth…a good truth, that He is the Christ…because He didn’t want any association with them, yet we have part with trashy things that are just plain trashy with no kind of goodness or truth about them at all! It’s wrong and ridiculous! It’s time to get right and live holy! It’s time to cast away the altars to this world and live solely for God! We are sojourners, foreigners in this land that is not our home…it’s time for us to realize that too much evil is too close for comfort! It’s time to get uneasy about the junk we endorse and allow. It’s time to live Godly! It’s not time to be politically correct; it’s not time to be tolerant to a fault. Love the sinners, hate sin. Rebuke evil by the power and in the name of Jesus; let’s clean up and live wholly for Him!

Remember this too…it’s not our actions that most concern God, but the heart attitudes that cause the actions. If we get our hearts right…get the demons and sin out of our lives…our actions will get right.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Luke #61 - Demons? Here? Now?

Luke #61 – Demons? Here? Now?
“And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, ‘Thou art Christ the Son of God.’ And He rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that He was Christ” (Luke 4:41 – King James Version).

It was late at night and I can’t even remember the city I was in, but I lay awake watching that city’s local news. There was a high speed chase on the streets that night; praise God no one was injured and the culprit was apprehended. As the news teams talked with the police, I could see the man in the background, sitting in the police car. He kept insisting that a demon was after him. The policeman chuckled and said, “He’s hopped up on dope.”

Drugs do make people do some strange things, but I cannot believe that every evil or strange things that are done these days can be accounted to drugs alone. That man may have been on drugs that night on the news, but whatever was the case, he looked awfully scared. Whatever was after him scared him more than those policemen. Even considering drugs cannot account for all the crimes and horrible things that are done. I believe, just in Jesus’ day, there are still demons at work within and around the realm of mankind.

Now that reality doesn’t sit well in many minds of the day, but that doesn’t change the truth of it one iota. What then do we do with the knowledge of this reality? We pray against evil; we cast evil away by the power and in the name of Christ Jesus; we win those captured souls to our Lord. Paul said, “A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 – NLT).

No matter the stage, no matter the odds, stand against the powers of evil that are raging. Not only did demons possess people in Jesus’ time on earth, I believe they still do. We need to realize and be ready for them.

I know this…demons could not stand to be around Jesus! So, that’s where I want to be…near Jesus! He promised He would never leave us and I am going to do my best to stick with Him. As a matter of fact, I want to be so true and pure of a vessel for the presence of Christ that demons get almighty nervous around me or flee altogether. There is nothing in me, save that presence of Christ in the Holy Spirit, which can stand against these supernatural powers, so I know, if for no other reason than to keep me from this evil, that I want Jesus to be near me and in control of me.

How about that? Demons in the 21st century might sound strange, but I truly believe they are at work here and now. I know this too…my conquering and good God is still alive and still on His throne! He reigns! He is jealous over His children! He is able to save! I will call upon His name and He shall my shield and strength be! Jesus’ touch cast out demons; my prayer is this: Take not Thy hand of mercy and grace from me, O God of my strength and salvation!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Luke #60 - I Can Help

Luke #60 – I Can Help
“Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, ‘Thou art Christ the Son of God.’ And He rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that He was Christ” (Luke 4:40-41 – King James Version).

At my chiropractor’s office the lady always answers the phone with this greeting: “It’s a good day at Williams Chiropractic! This is Rana; I can help you.” I usually am lying on the table getting my neck snapped back into proper order when I hear her say that and I wonder; “Oh yeah...can you?” Rana is a nice lady and Dr. Williams is a wonderful chiropractor and they both have confidence that the chiropractic field can make the world feel better. Rana answers that phone and declares she can help with such surety that I want to believe her when she says “I can help.” Sure, my neck feels better, but there is so much more wrong with me!

Jesus started His day in Capernaum teaching in the synagogue. He cast out evil spirits from a man and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Now the crowds thronged around Him with divers, or all kinds, of sickness asking for healing. He moved among the crowd touching people and casting out sickness and demons. That must have been a beautiful scene; to watch the Lord Jesus tenderly laying hands on person after person and dramatically changing their lives.

When Jesus said, “Come to me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” He meant it! That was His way of saying “I can help!” There are a lot of people in this world who want to help, but none like Jesus.

There are a great many unsolved mysteries of the human body known as sickness; man cannot cure them all and in many cases do not have the first clue as to how to treat or maintain them. I would be presumptuous at best to say I have any clue. Though I know Jesus CAN heal them, I would be doubly presumptuous to try to guess why He does in some cases and does not in other cases. Yes, some sickness IS caused by sin and can be cured by repentance (a subject that is little talked of these days). Yes, some sickness is to glorify God, that as He works His glorification in us we praise Him beyond (or in spite of) our circumstances. Other than that I just don’t know.

What I do know is that Jesus did not come to the earth, live and die to heal every sickness, but He did come to fill the pain with Himself. The disappearance of human suffering will not happen this side of heaven, but the filling of God through Christ Jesus can happen the moment we turn in full surrender.

Let me challenge you to think about something…

Who do you turn to FIRST for your health, emotional, spiritual, and mental sicknesses?

Do you turn to doctors, friends, 12 step programs, psychics, or any other of the host of worldly solutions? Yes, God uses doctors and friends and the occasional 12 step program (though I am POSITIVE He doesn’t use psychic weirdos who take money to tell people junk!). The question at hand is not who God uses; the question is who do you turn to first?

Even the demons believe in Jesus and tremble; today’s verses teach us that. They obviously recognized and feared His power. Do we? Today’s lesson is really quite simple…no matter the problem you may be facing, turn to Jesus. He may not heal your sickness, but He will fill you with Himself. Whether in the throes of depression or grief, burdened with sin, or beat down in the body, there is nothing He cannot handle and we certainly will not surprise our sovereign and omniscient God when we come to Him with our problems. His holiness may be offended by our sin, but His healing hand of grace will answer confidently with “I can help!”

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Fat Body, Big God and Discipline - Entry #4

What I love about the battle of my weight is the battle. I mean, listen, I love to fight! The life of faith is marked by fighting. And, as I’ve been here before, I can tell you I am in for a fight. It is a good picture of walking with Jesus; I am constantly faced with choices and I battle my own desires, I fight against my own ignorance and I war what is “normal.”

I contend also that it is a personal battle and a corporate one as well. What I mean to say is how I am in the fight by myself, because it’s my choices that have to be faced and it’s my problems and it’s my weight. It is also corporate because God has already sent some prayer warriors and encouragers alongside me; some cheerleaders and friends who are wanting and wishing the best for me.

I am already encouraged by that. It is amazing to me that a few small posts on my pretty obscure blog have brought 2 people into this war with me. I am being honest; albeit through my normal lens of humor and straightforwardness. I am testifying of struggle and hope and anticipation and God’s people are responding with encouraging words and prayers. I mean, hey, it’s like church ought to be!

Which brings me to one of my oft exercised side sermons…

What if we did truly share our struggles and dreams with our brothers and sisters in Christ? What if we braved confession? What if could? Would? Did? I am constantly confirming two things the Holy Spirit has taught me in relationships: (1) a person loses steam when they try to argue someone who is humble; (2) honest confession is met with kindness. We desperately need this honesty! We need confession. We need the support that the Family will give in response to our confessions of struggle and need.

Sure, there are some who won’t understand. There are some that will ridicule. There are some that will laugh. Sure. Okay; good. That’s just the way it is. But, in my experience, for every 10 people that drag you down it only takes one to erase all of that junk and lift our spirit!

Therefore, I offer these verses to you (and myself):
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I know James says to “confess yours sins” and that is necessary. Also, it is useful to confess our struggles. Both are often encased in a stronghold. We need the prayers of righteous people; we need to see the problem, have the right mind about it, and go to war against it. We need people who will tell us the truth and desire God’s best for us. We need prophets, accountability partners and cheerleaders. We need people that will lay a willing hand to our burdens!

Onto something else…

I was riding a stationary bike and I noticed that it would tell how many calories a person burned as they exercised. When I noticed this I had burned 140 calories and had ridden about 4 miles in 20 minutes. Suddenly I remembered that a Mt. Dew has something like 170 calories. I thought, “Hey, no danged wonder I am fat! I am putting in more than I let out!” (I know, you are thinking, “Duh!”) However, what was so sobering, so weirdly sobering, is to put numbers to that stuff.

I like numbers. I know them. However, I have added them up in my case. It’s called math. I am working with a negative that has built up to positively too much weight!

Now that I’ve made this calorie discovery I am afraid that some cad may reveal to me the dangers of sweet tea. If you know, keep it to yourself. One thing at a time!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Luke #59 - The Natural Response

Luke #59 – The Natural Response
“And He arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought Him for her. And He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them” (Luke 4:38-39 – King James Version).

This is a true story, but I won’t name the physician because I don’t want people bugging him. I didn’t have insurance and I didn’t have money, but I was sick, sick, sick! I went to a doctor in town and said, “I don’t have any money right now, but I WILL pay you. I don’t have insurance and cannot afford a prescription.” I knew this particular doctor to be a Christian, so I appealed to him for help. Not only did he see me for free, but he provided the medicine I needed for the very painful sinus infection that I had at no charge. Needless to say I am a great admirer of that doctor these days. I would recommend him to anyone. As a matter of fact, I recommended him to a single mom who was strapped for cash, but had a sick child. He did the same thing for that lady’s child that he did for me. Now, there is not much I can do for this guy, but if ever I can, you’d better bet your bottom dollar that I will be quick to do it! I pray for him daily and thank God that He used that doctor as a minister of His grace. I think that is a natural response to his kindness towards me.

I am amazed at the power and tenderness of the Lord Jesus. He entered Peter’s home and found there a sick woman; specifically the mother-in-law of Peter. She was sick; Jesus told the fever to go away and by jingy if it didn’t! WHAT POWER! I see His tenderness in every healing He performed. He cares about people and wants to show them His love and mercy.

I also see in this passage a woman who responded to Jesus’ kindness. He healed this woman of her sickness and right away she served Christ. I think that is a natural response to the goodness of Christ…to serve Him.

Many times we serve God out of fear; fear of punishment or fear of His wrath. That’s good! We ought to fear God; we ought to have a great reverence of Him. We ought to realize that His judgment and wrath are perfect and serve Him so that we might avoid those things.

I believe the woman in today’s verses served Christ out of appreciation and out of love. Jesus is still in the business of healing today. Sometimes He uses the hands of doctors for His own and sometimes He does it miraculously. I went with a group of men to pray for a woman that had been diagnosed with two kinds of cancer. The next week the doctor’s could find NO trace of cancer in her! We prayed and God healed!

Physical sickness is horrible and I will not begin to say that I am an authority on why God heals some and does not heal others (that is a discussion for another day!). What I do know is that there is another sickness that is worse than any the body might endure. That sickness is sin and Jesus desires to see every case healed. The cross is the cure for ALL sin! It is the medicine He has provided and prescribed for sin sickness. Not only did He prescribe it but He paid the entire bill! Rather than paying from His pocket, Jesus provided this cure by paying with His life! Have you had your dose?

Further, I hope I am writing to some people that have experienced physical healing, but especially spiritual healing. I want to ask you, how have YOU responded to His grace? Have you responded by serving Him? Did you rise up from His healing power ready to give Him your all? I think it is the natural response!

No excuses…are you serving God in response to what He has done in your life? If not, hop to it!

Fat Body, Big God and Discipline - Entry #3

So...I finally weighed...I hadn't wanted to weigh, but now I've done it. I weigh 340 pounds! I can't and don't want to believe it myself. Yes, a lot of it is my beard and muscle. Okay, I know. And, I also know that in my case it means more sexy to spread around. Still, that's heavy! However, I think I was heavier last week before I weighed. I know the way I was soaking down soft drinks that simply quitting them was a good move in this endeavor.

I've been doing great! I don't feel lighter...hmmmm...I think it's this danged gravity!

Katie's First Recital

Katie was magnificent! Please take a moment and listen to her on the video!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Man Rules

I don't know where this came from originally. It was sent to me by a WOMAN! (My good friend, Sandy Whitt, as a matter of fact.) It's funny and I like it.

These rules are so simple a cave woman could do them!

The Man Rules
At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down.
Finally, the guys' side of the story. ( I must admit, it's pretty
good.) We always hear " the rules " from the female side. Now here
are the rules from the male side.

These are our rules! Please note.. these are all numbered "1 " ON
1. Men are NOT mind readers. ( FIRST & FOREMOST RULE )
1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it
down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining
about you leaving it down.
1. Sunday sports, It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.
1. Crying is blackmail.
1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do
not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just
say it!
1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's
what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In
fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.
1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.
1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways
makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it
done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it
1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during
1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.
1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach,
for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We
have no idea what mauve is.
1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like
nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the
1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer
you don't want to hear.
1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine..
1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to
discuss such topics as Football or Hockey.
1. You have enough clothes.
1. You have too many shoes.
1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!
Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch
tonight; but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fat Body, Big God and Discipline - Entry #2

First, an update on what I said I would do:
What will I do?
1. Stop drinking soft drinks (I will finish the few ginger ales I have, but no more). (DONE and DOING)
2. Check into getting a health club membership and start riding a bike. (Not checked yet, but I will)
3. WHEN I snack, snack healthy. This means I need to buy some fruit. (No fruit, but no snacks either)
4. Pray God make me HEALTHY, not necessarily skinny. (Doing)
5. Pray God becomes glorified in this struggle. Indeed, it is a struggle. (Doing)
6. I WILL NOT become entangled in a fad. (Doing)

I want you to go back and check out the video called “Campus Life Showdown #2” ('s a great illustration. I did all that you see there for the show...I did it to pump the kids up; to have something funny to end our Campus Life meetings on. I would have done this if I weighed 179 lbs* However, when you are overweight, people say things that you know they are saying without wisdom. I turned to some students and said, "Who do you think will win?" One kid immediately said, "You will! You are fat and [he] is skinny!"

If you are overweight, you’ve heard stupid things like that. It really doesn’t bother me (much). It has taught me to try to understand people’s struggles; we’ve all got them.

You won't believe this...

A friend saw Entry #1 and sent me what was quite possibly the most affirming and encouraging email / letter I have ever received in my entire life. My friend told me she was always impressed that I am "Tim Bowes" no matter what, I am happy that someone recognized that, because, in the words of Lynyrd Skynyrd, I am just "a simple man..."

One thing I want to say today in the spirit of journaling this adventure is that I believe the Holy Spirit has led me here. I believe God is calling me into an area where I am not in control; an area where I am uncomfortable; an area in which I will have to learn new disciplines, and to “beat my body under” yet again.

I have gone through dramatic weight gains and losses on multiple occasions. It’s always tough. This is the longest I’ve been and the heaviest I’ve been. All of my weight gain has accompanied one of, or all of, the following things:
(1) An injury; back, knees, ankle
(2) Stopping another bad habit; drinking, chewing, smoking
(3) Worse eating habits, especially rushing to eat, eating at odd times and eating NOTHING
(4) A physically easier job
(5) Getting older (“Of course,” you’re thinking, “we all get older! Duh!”)
(6) Sheer laziness

It’s helpful recognizing some of the causes. Hopefully I recognize the strongholds that God wants to strike down.

This time has to be about worship and habit change. If it’s not that, it’s nothing. If it’s not that, it’s just another endeavor of the flesh. I don’t want that.

Thanks for reading and for those encouraging friends who spoke to me or sent me an email. Pray for me, and I’ll be praying for you…

*The weight my doctor says I SHOULD weigh.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fat Body, Big God and Discipline - Entry #1

So, here goes...I am going to journal a struggle. I am going to seek the Lord in this thing. Along the way I am going to journal some frustrations, some victories, some hopes, some prayers, and a host of other things. Whoever reads this, good. If you are offended, stop reading. Okay?

I bet you are wondering, "What is he even talking about?" I'm overweight. I hate it. I hate what people mumble about me. I hate the insinuations and the judgment. More than that, I hate that people are right about it. It IS a lack of discipline. It IS a problem. It DOES NOT glorify the Lord. I believe it ruins my witness. How can I urge people to discipline and holiness if I seem to be overindulgent myself?

My friend Andrew said, "Tim, your testimony could be much stronger if you weren't so overweight." (He didn't say it exactly like that, but that's what he meant.) I agree, Brother Andrew. I like the way he said it; blunt, but with love and truth.

Fact: I have some genetic issues.
Fact: I have a thyroid issue.
Fact: I use these things as crutch.
Fact: I DO NOT exercise properly.
Fact: I DO NOT eat properly.
Fact: I attempt to justify my overindulgence by saying things like the following:
A. I don't drink, smoke, do dope, or chew tobacco anymore, so I've got to do something.
B. My knees and back kill me when I run or do most kinds of exercise. (This is true, but it's a cop-out; pure and simple.)
C. My schedule makes eating healthy and regular difficult. (True, but, again, it's a cop-out.)
D. Eating healthy is expensive. (Don't know if it's true, but I believe it is!)
E. I work too much; it's hard to fit a work out into my schedule. (True, know, a cop-out!)

Belief: I believe God can help me.
Belief: I believe God will help me.
Belief: I believe He is asking me to show discipline and hard work in this endeavor.

Desire: I want a quick fix.
Fact: We don't always get what we want!

I do not want to lose weight because of vanity. I do not want to lose weight because I fear or care for the comments of man. I don't.

I want to run the race in a way that will honor the Lord.

Whether I eat or drink, no matter what I do, I want to do it to glory of God.

So, here we are, day one...

What will I do?
1. Stop drinking soft drinks (I will finish the few ginger ales I have, but no more).
2. Check into getting a health club membership and start riding a bike.
3. WHEN I snack, snack healthy. This means I need to buy some fruit.
4. Pray God make me HEALTHY, not necessarily skinny.
5. Pray God becomes glorified in this struggle. Indeed, it is a struggle.
6. I WILL NOT become entangled in a fad.

What can you do?
1. Pray for me.
2. Encourage me.
3. Keep faddish diet ideas to yourself. (Forgive the bluntness, but I am sick of everyone sending me links to diet gurus and the such.) (More on this later.)

My confession to the Lord:
Father, I am way out of shape. I do not believe I am glorifying you. I do not believe you want me to be unhealthy. I do believe you want me to be an example in all things. This is a stronghold; a struggle; often a sin. You are right, Spirit, in convicting me. I agree. I desire to walk with You in all things. Please, Father, help me. Jesus, You say if I ask for anything in Your name the Father will grant it; I ask for victory for the Father's glory in Your name, and I pray in Christ Jesus, my only hope. Amen.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Duke Basketball Tickets; Duke vs. Maryland, January 24 @ Noon


By the gracious hand of a good friend I have in my possession three tickets to a Duke basketball game at Cameron Stadium in Durham, NC for January 24 at Noon.

They are three seats in section one (seating chart:

I would love to offer them as a "silent auction" via email with ALL PROCEEDS going to benefit Youth For Christ Roxboro. Their face value is $30.00 each. Bidding begins at $90.00.

Pass this along to whoever you think would be interested.

Please send in (1) your name and (2) your bid to Bidding will end Thursday, January 22 @ Noon.


Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus the Son,
Tim Bowes
Executive Director
Youth For Christ-Roxboro
Romans 12:1-2