Every school day around 6:20 am, I get my two children corralled into the truck and we leave for the thirteen mike trek to school. We get to do this because my daughter has choir and recorder practice early every morning. She also likes to read. Being dark in the truck at that hour, she has devised a scheme to get light by which she can read. She turns on a flashlight, and gets under her jacket or a blanket with her book. This usually works well, but the other morning, the blanket slipped and the truck was flooded with light. I couldn’t see the road or anything but the light. It was shocking!
The impact of that light reminded me of the story of Moses spending time with God. After making the second set of stone tablets, he returned to Mount Sinai. “Moses was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets. As Moses descended from Mount Sinai — with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands as he descended the mountain — he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord.” (Exodus 34:28-29 HCSB)
Moses had spent time with God and it showed. His face shown with God’s glory. I wonder if we reflect the glory of God like that? Perhaps our lives don’t shine with holy glory because we aren’t putting the time in with God. There is no shortcut that I have found in this. It takes time. Spending time with the Lord in prayer and in His word is an investment we must make if we want to reflect His glory to the world around us. We should want the world to see God when they look at us. That doesn’t happen just by saying it. We must invest the time with God.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Everywhere you go this time of year you see signs of the season in full swing. Candy canes, Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, etc cover the landscape. For some, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it may be the busiest most hectic time. Some even dread this time as it reopens old wounds and clearly reminds them of what they don’t have. But we must always remember what we are celebrating. Christmas is the day we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We don’t the exact date, so for centuries, December 25th has been used.
One of the things I love about this time of year is there are so many reminders of Jesus if we just have our eyes open to see them. Evergreen trees and wreaths remind of the eternal life He came to bring. The stars and all the lights remind us of the star which shone over Bethlehem and caught the attention of the wise men who traveled to see the newborn King of Kings and Light of the World. Even the custom of giving gifts can remind us that God loved us so much He gave His Son, Jesus, to open the door to eternal life to all who place their trust in Him. (John 3:16-18) Sharing the good news should be easy this time of year if we will only not lose sight of the reason we celebrate.
Let us remember to keep Christ in Christmas. Let this be a time of sharing His love with all around us.
Thank you! Two simple words, yet combined they have great power. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. We all want others to acknowledge what we do. We don’t serve for the praise of man, but it is nice to be appreciated. Many people walk away from churches because they feel unappreciated.
Today, I want to express my appreciation to you. To every church which blessed me by allowing me to serve in staff I say thank you. I especially appreciate my early churches. You put up with me when I thought I knew everything. You helped mentor me and blessed my family. I am amazed as I reflect back to how much you had to tolerate as I was taking my firsts steps in ministry.
I am also overwhelmed with gratitude for LBC Mexia for allowing me to serve here for 17 years. When I became a pastor, I hoped I wouldn’t have to move much. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be able to stay at one church for nearly two decades! The typical tenure for pastors is 4 years. You have been amazing people. It is your hard work and sacrifice that keeps us moving forward. Thank you for supporting us through difficult times. Thank you for loving us with all our faults. I love you and am grateful to be your pastor.
This Thanksgiving, let’s take time to give thanks and show appreciate.
Last night I was teaching road safety to my Cub Scout den. We went over walking on the left so that you face oncoming traffic, crossing the street at crosswalks, looking both ways when crossing the street, etc. It struck me that there are a lot of hazards to consider when just walking in our neighborhood. Why do we spend the time discussing and practicing these things? Failure to follow safety rules can lead to injury and death.
It stirred me to think about our “other” walk. You know the one to which I’m referring. Our spiritual walk is often like an untrained child playing and running in the road with no thought about possible hazards. We often do what feels right at the moment, or what we see others doing. We are often too careless and haphazard in our walk with Christ.
Ephesians 5:15-16 HCSB says, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time,[a] because the days are evil.” We are advised to pay careful attention to our walk. We can’t afford to coast and drift through life. That way surely leads to dangers. We must be wise and walk with a purpose. That purpose is to glorify God. In all things, we must carefully choose our steps. What dangers lurk out there in the spiritual realm? The sudden oncoming heresies, those teachings, which may seem harmless but are hurtling toward us and can wreak havoc upon our faith. There also ditches to avoid. When we stray from the path the Lord has laid out for us, we can land in sin and error. In addition to all that we can bring on ourselves, Satan, our advisory, is a lion roaming around looking for easy prey. If we are careless, we could be his next victims
One day in my 8th grade science lab, a kid pulled the chair out from under another as he was in the process if sitting down. Naturally this caused him to hit the ground, and the room erupted in laughter. The wounded student jumped up and wanted to fight. The perpetrator said, “I was only joking!” And the other smiled and laughed. NOT! Saying it was a joke didn’t undo the hurt and diffuse the anger. As a teacher, I witnessed this phenomenon regularly. The details were different but the behavior was always the same. The excuse of “only joking” was never sufficient.
Proverbs says this, “Like a madman who throws flaming darts and deadly arrows, so is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking! ” (Proverbs 26:18-19 HCSB). Pretty strong language here. The point is we cannot undo the damage done by saying, “only joking”. The arrows and flaming darts have already wounded and destroyed. I love a good joke as much next as the next guy, but not at the expense of others. Once the damage is done, it leaves scars, we are supposed to speak words which build each other up and encourage each other. Deception dies not encourage anyone.
Don’t be a madman!
Jean Valjean, the lead character of Les Miserables, faces a moment of crisis. He had been living under an assumed identity while hiding from his past. He had stolen a loaf of bread, and was thus permanently branded a thief in France even though he had served 19 years of hard labor. When he hears news that a man has been taken into custody believed to be him, he knows he has a chance to make a clean break. All he must do is let that man be imprisoned for his violation of parole, and he is forever more free. Yet, he cares about doing what is right. In that moment of anguish, his inner debate is captured in the song, “Who am I?”. He has to decide if personal freedom at the expense of another can be lived with. I will let you research and find his answer.
We too face that question often. Every day we face temptations and decisions. We ask ourselves, “Am I the type of person who ….”. We don’t normally break out in powerful song as we wrestle with the issue, but we do face a moment of introspection. We must check our proposed actions and attitudes with the person Christ wants us to be. It isn’t always a moral dilemma. Sometimes the options may both be fine, but we must know which choice is in keeping with our God given purpose.
If we skip over this step, we are doomed to make a series of bad decisions. We will get involved in side tracks rather than staying on mission for God. We stray into sin instead of resisting temptation.
If we hesitate too long, our indecision can cost us as well. We miss the opportunity due to timidity. Fear of getting it wrong keeps us locked in place. Making no decision is in fact a decision!
To me, the secret is in answering the question now. Who am I? What is my purpose? What defines my character and ministry for the Lord? Knowing these things help us make decisions in keeping with the core of who God wants each of us to be. Then, when those moments come, make the decision which advances us forward in the goals God has given us. Sin’s temptation weakens when viewed in light of our call from God. Decisions become easier if we look for the one which is in keeping with our purpose. Know who you are.
When I was in High School, I showed animals in FFA. One year, I had a pig named Pork Chop. Pork Chop was the best animal I showed. From day 1, it did exactly what I wanted. I would touch its ear, and it would turn. Showing Pork Chop was a dream. Then there was Bari. Bari was a steer. I was so proud when I picked him out at our auction our Ag teacher had arranged. I took Daddy to see him afterwards, and was stunned to see this massive steer trying to jump out over the top of the pen. As the months went by, I would drag him away from the pen, and he would drag me back. We pulled him behind vehicles, and spent hours trying to train him. He never would break. He never would do as I wanted. On the day of the show, it was all I could do to hold him in place and pray he didn’t escape and kill half of Ferris.
As I remembered Pork Chop and Bari this morning in my quiet time, I thought of my walk with God. Looking back on life, I know there were times I was as stubborn and bull-headed as Bari. God would pull me in a direction, and I would pull the opposite way. Other times, I have yielded to His leadership and complied without hesitation. The times I remain submissive to His will have been far better than the other times. Unlike my fiasco with Bari, God is able to break my stubborn will. Ask Jonah how well running from God turns out.
If only we would be compliant to God’s will, we would save ourselves a lot of trouble. Like Pork Chop, let us do what God wants when He wants. Let us pray with Jesus in the model prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”