Spontaneous

It is football season in Texas! Friday nights find us out at the various stadiums cheering for our teams. I love the thrill of seeing our boys take the ball and run through all the defenders as they return a kcik off for a touchdown. In all of my years of watching football, I never tire of seeing that. As I think about it, I don’t recall a single time that the fans just sat there passively and watched it happen. Spontaneously we all jump to our feet and begin to yell. We can get excited and cheer with abandon when a great play happens.

However, when it comes to our worship, we seldom see such spontaneous praise. I wonder why that is? In worship, we are showing reverence and adoration for God. Worship is to be a part of our daily walk with Him. As we read the Scriptures, we come across many examples of worship. Many of the Psalms are hymns of adoration for God. One of my favorites is Psalm 95. Hear the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 95:3-7

“For the LORD is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

7 For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.”

In these few phrases, God is exalted. He is acknowledged as King above all. His supremacy over all creation is declared. The Psalmist calls us to worship and bow down before our awesome God.

When was the last time you broke out in spontaneous praise? When did you last see God’s hand at work in the world or in the word and it lead you to worship? My prayer is that God would open our eyes and hearts and we would worship with abandon. When God is at work, it is for more worthy of celebration than the greatest play in football.

Honor the Past

Honor the Past.

This Sunday, we honored our past at Craft Baptist Church. God has blessed us with 127 years of shining His light and love in Cherokee county. The past is our story. It has brought us to this moment. The faithfulness of those who have been here before us is our legacy and challenge.

While we honor the past, we must also look to the future. As we think about the early years of the church, things were different than today. We have lights, air conditioning, etc. People are different. We are far more mobile than 127 years ago. The gospel and love shared will always be the same, but things won’t always look the same. Methods change while the message will always remain the same. Our delivery must change but doctrine never will.

I am grateful for the lessons we can learn from the past. They were perseverant in difficult days. They shared Christ’s love with families in our community. They focused on the future. In fact, many have shared how they were children here and the active ministry to children and youth discipled them to serve as they now do. Many ministers and teachers began their ministry here at Craft.

As we celebrate our history, I also look forward to writing the chapter we are currently living. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.

Back to School

It is back to school time! Many districts and universities have already begun classes and Monday, the rest of us join them. The rooms and lessons are prepared. The students have the new backpacks, new clothes, and supplies ready to go. There is a sense of expectation and hope as we begin.

In your preparing, remember that we also are entering our mission field. Each day we will have a great opportunity to represent Jesus to people who desperately need Him. Your students/classmates, teachers/coworkers all need the Lord. How we interact with them will be an opportunity to share His love. Our life should put Him on display in every circumstance.

Jesus said it this way,

“”You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

​​Matthew​ ​5:13-16​ ​ESV​​

Salt and light both make a big impact. You notice them! You miss them in their absence. But it isn’t just about getting attention. Notice that last verse. As they see our good works, they give glory to the Father. We must live in a way that points people to God. Otherwise, we are no good like salt that has lost its flavor.

As we begin a new year, let’s be salt and light. You know, this works everywhere we go, not just at school. All disciples of Jesus need to shine His love and glorify the Father every day.

Pray

Paul constantly prayed for people.  His letters are filled with references to his prayer life on behalf of others.  One of those blessed to be in Paul’s prayers was Timothy.  Timothy had diverse interactions with Paul.  He was his friend, fellow traveler, son in the faith, and a pastor in the Christian church. Although the two men were often separated from each other, their prayers provided a source of mutual encouragement.

Paul said, “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did when I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.” 2 Timothy 1:3 HCSB

We too should pray consistently for others, especially for those who do God’s work.  Pray for each other.  Pray for your pastor, teacher, worship leader, missionary.  Pray for those you lead.  Prayer should be a part of every moment of every day.  It should come as easily as breathing does.

Let’s pray for each other!

 

 

Water that Plant

have two plants in my home which are the same species. One is thriving and adding new leaves all the

time. The other looks pitiful. What is the difference? The good looking plant is by the kitchen sink. We

regularly water it since it is by the source. The other is a couple of rooms away from water and only gets

water when we think of it, or happen to notice it looking badly. Yesterday, I went in the laundry room

and noticed it was wilted and sad. The funny thing is that shortly after giving it water, it perked up. But

the weeks of neglect have left it stunted in comparison to the healthy plant by the water.

As I congratulated myself on emergency hydration for my plant, Psalm 1 came to mind. In the first Palm,

the life of one who spends time in the word is contrasted with one who doesn’t. The blessed person

meditates in the word of God day and night. They are described this way in Psalm 1:3 (ESV)

3 He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

Just like regular water to my plants, God’s word is a vital need for our spirit. Regular and complete

access to water keeps one plant healthy and has caused it to thrive. They cycle of

drought and meager rescue water is barely keeping the other plant alive. Our spirits

need frequent and abundant nourishment from God’s word.

Don’t Wait

We just returned from SOAR 2018 (Sold Out and Radical) youth conference.  One of the great things that happened this week, is the conference recognized modern heroes of the faith.  Two such men, Bobby Tucker and James Schoenrock, both surrendered to God’s call to preach young, 13 and 11 years old.

This prompted me to think back on my life.  I surrendered to special service at about 12 years old.  From then until I was 17, I had plans which didn’t include much thought of God nor the commitment I had made.  As that last year wound down, I started an elaborate negotiation with God.  I bargained with every possible position in His service of which I could think.  Finally, as my senior year in high school began, I yielded to His will wholeheartedly without any lines I would not cross.  The rest is history!

This week made me wish I had not waited.  My advice to all would be yield to His call now.  Don’t wait for the right time and place.  Don’t wait until it is more convenient.  Like Samuel in 1 Sam 3, when God calls, respond, “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And respond as Isaiah does in Isaiah 6, “here I am, send me”.

Don’t wait, yield to God today!

The Rock

Have you ever had a book change your life?  As a kid, I discovered JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series.  I read them many times.  I was captivated by the struggle of good versus evil and the little guy playing a major part in the final outcome.

There is another book which captivated my mind and heart at a young age which still impacts my life.  As a young child, Momma would read us Bible stories.  The heroes of my childhood were Samson, David, Moses, and Joshua.  Later, I learned about the teachings of Paul, John, and Jesus.  I still learn something new and see how the word of God shapes my life.  It is no wonder the prophet Isaiah sad “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”  Isaiah 40:8  NIV

God’s word is alive and works within us to conform us to the image.  They key is to put it into practice.  Jesus said, Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24  NIV Jesus instructs us that life built on the rock of His word stands the test of time.  He also contrasted that life with a foolish one. “ 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:26-27 NIV.

God’s word is a solid foundation upon which we can build our lives.