Wednesday, December 11, 2013


20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20)

            There are many times in our lives when we have expectations. These could be about meeting or interacting with certain people. The expectations could be about an upcoming event. During these times, we could be filled with excitement or dread.
            But what happens when things just do not meet those expectations? Currently, there are many, many college football teams that would love to be invited to the Bowl Game Alabama will be playing. It is an honor to be selected to go to one of the BCS games. But Alabama had different expectations for their season. They were focused on a National Championship Game. Though what they are experiencing would be considered outstanding by most, they are sorely disappointed.
            How do we handle these same disappointments? Our office Christmas party is a bomb…our family gathering is poorly attended…no one remembers our birthday that falls way too close to Christmas…our kids don’t make it home for the holidays this year…how do we handle those times?
            Often when we are disappointed, it becomes harder to honor Christ in thought and deed. Our focus strays from the main purpose of our lives which is to bring glory to God. We get “blue” and do not want to participate in the rest of the holiday cheer.
            Paul had many reasons to be “blue” or even down-right depressed. Over the course of his ministry, it may even seem more things went wrong than right. There were shipwrecks, beatings, snakebites, persecutions, imprisonments…the list goes on and on. I am not sure exactly what his expectations were for being an apostle and an ambassador for Christ, but I think they were all under-whelmed. It turned out like nothing he would have imagined; yet, he found joy in all of it. He found joy in spite of the disappointing expectations.

            As the year comes to a close and we look back on what might have been, I encourage you to look ahead and stay focused on what is truly important – Christ. He will never “under-whelm” or fail to meet our expectations. When we keep Him in our sight, the rest will pale in comparison…

Let Someone Else Do It

"So David's fame spread throughout every land, and the LORD made all the nations fear him" (1 Chronicles 14:17).

            Our times are filled with those who promote themselves. Millions of dollars are spent on advertising campaigns in an attempt in influence the public into voting for one political candidate over another.
            Sports companies, agents, and marketing firms attempt to create fame and fortune for their clients and products. It was said at the height of his career that Michael Jordan earns several times the amount of his basketball salary in product endorsements. There were even tennis shoes named after him – “Air Jordans.”
            There is, however, a great danger in all of this self-promotion. Sometimes we may be attempting to place ourselves in a position far ahead of where God may want us. There is nothing wrong with becoming famous or popular as long as it is a blessing from God. But if we are trying to inflate ourselves for the sake of gain then we have crossed the line.
            David’s fame and acclaim came to him as a result of fulfilling God’s mission for his life. Yes, at times, David fell down, but we always see him owning his mistakes and repenting. We always see him walking humbly before the Lord. He never tried to exalt himself above what the Lord ordained. The Lord is the one who raised David up.
            We must always be careful whether we are marketing ourselves or watching ads on television. We must carefully discern whether it is designed to educate or promote and manipulate. Is the product or service being truly described or inflated in an attempt to manipulate our thinking?
            If we remember this one Proverb, it will help us stay focused on God’s method of promotion….

Proverbs 27:2: Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Barak Moments

8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” 9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:8-9)

            How often do we know what God wants us to do but we simply do not do it? Or perhaps we want to add our own conditions to it? This is a great example of a lack of faith and trust in the Lord.
            God called Barak to lead the army to victory. Deborah the prophet was speaking for God when she said, “This is what the Lord commands you…” Barak did not want to go alone. His lack of faith in the Lord led him to ask that Deborah go with him.
            We too like to strike bargains with God. Our faith in His ability to get us through may be weak at times. God had guaranteed Barak the victory, but he still wavered. God had already determined the number of men needed and from which tribes these men would come – still Barak wavered. He never thought about the consequences of those actions – but they were there.
            Deborah could have been harsh with Barak. This, after all, was a direct command from the Lord, “Go…” But she obliged him and went along, allowing him to reap the consequences of his disobedience.
            God worked out His purposes even through Barak’s wavering faith. Too often we can look back at our lives and see God working out His will even through our disobedience and weaknesses.
            My own journey seemed to have many detours before I totally surrendered to what God wanted me to do. There were questions, and fleecing like Gideon, and many prayers questioning the path to which I felt drawn.
            The biggest comfort is knowing that grace covers all of those errors in judgment, all the weak times in our faith, and all of the wrong path we have taken. When we truly love Him, He will work things our in spite of all of our “Barak” moments.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On Mission or Going Through the Motions?

Matthew 16:18
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
            This verse gets a lot of attention for the way in which Jesus connects to and plans to build upon Peter’s confession that He is the Christ. But that is not the thought on which I am going to build. My focus is on the word ekklesia.
            In 1526 William Tyndale had completed his translation of the Bible from Greek texts rather than Latin and began smuggling printed copies of this English Bible into his homeland. This caused a huge stir. It was about control. The Church officials had total control of the Scriptures. How dare he translate it so that the common man could read the Bible for himself? This made him an outlaw in his own country.
            Another problem was Tyndale’s translation of the term ekklesia. He did not superimpose the German word kirche (church). Instead he translated the term as congregation. This correctly reflected the Bible’s original emphasis on church as a movement rather than a location, on church being a people rather than a building, and especially on the message of the Gospel rather than traditions, preferences, and hierarchies.
            In the 21st century, how often to we substitute kirche for the ekklesia of Jesus? Are we a part of a movement or are we simply meeting? Are we making a measurable, noticeable difference in the communities in which we live or are we simply conducting Sunday services? Do we have a solid, organized mission around which to rally or are we simply following an antiquated model inherited from previous generations? Are we using our resources, time, and talents to deliver of the message of hope that is Jesus Christ or are we spending our time greasing the squeaky wheels?
            Are we truly ekklesia or have we settled for kirche?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just the Facts...

Did you know…

Did you know that there have been over 6 billion Bibles printed?
Did you know that the Bible has been translated into 451 languages?
Did you know the shortest and longest chapters in the Bible are both in the book of Psalms (117 and 119)?
Did you know the shortest verse in the Bible contains only two words?
Did you know the longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9?
Did you know the longest word in the Bible is found in Isaiah 8:3?
Did you know “God” appears 4379 times (KJV)?
Did you know “Lord” appears 7738 times (KJV)?
Did you know “fear” appears 397 times and “hell” 53 times?
Did you know there was a person with a 13 ½ foot long bed (Deut. 3:11)?
Did you know there was a man with 12 fingers and toes (2 Sam 21:20)?
Did you know there was a man who had 88 children (2 Chr 11:21)?
Did you know that Jesus was born of a virgin?
Did you know that Jesus feed 5000 people at once?
Did you know that Jesus put mud on a man’s eyes and he regained his sight?
Did you know that Jesus walked on water?
Did you know that Jesus healed lepers?
Did you know a woman was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment?
Did you know that Jesus turn water into wine at a wedding?
Did you know that Jesus raised a man from the dead?
Did you know that Jesus walked on water?
Did you know that Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70?
Did you know that Jesus’ ministry only last a little over 3 years?
Did you know that Jesus was brutally beaten and crucified and laid in another man’s tomb?
Did you know that Jesus was only borrowing the tomb because He walked out of it three days later?
Did you know that knowing a bunch of facts about the Bible does not make you a Christian?

Did you know that knowing a bunch of facts ABOUT Jesus does not mean that you KNOW Jesus?

Did you know that the way you act, the way you treat others, the way you tell people about Jesus, the way you pour your heart out in worship, the way you make disciples of others, and your priorities already tell the world whether you KNOW Jesus or you simply know ABOUT Jesus?

Do you KNOW Him?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Welcome or Acceptance??

           When I was growing up, I played Little League baseball from age 8 to 12. When I was nine, I was placed on a team called the Cardinals. We were a pretty good team and always competed for the league championship. We went 14-1 when for in both of my last two seasons.
            There were many kids from different walks of life, but it did not seem to matter. Once we put that uniform on we were all Cardinals. There were guys that I really like and others not so much. But, again, that did not matter. We were a solid team. If you messed with one of us, you messed with all of us.
            I remember going to the lunchroom as school and being waved over by kids that were not in my class but were on my team. Even the ones that I did not like so much would want me to sit by them, and I usually did. The camaraderie extended well beyond the things that we did not like about each other.
            We accepted each other, warts and all, because we were Cardinals. It was a bond that reached beyond social and economic barriers. It did not even matter if you played in every game or sat on the bench most of the time. You were still a Cardinal and were welcomed without question to any group gathering.
            The real question is what team are we on today, right now? Who is the coach that is running the plays in our lives? We should all be on the Jesus team. The Bible, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God should be making the calls in our lives. But too often that is not the case.
            When a guest walks in the door of our building, are they accepted beyond social and economic barriers? Do they feel welcome by everyone on team Jesus? We know for a fact that Jesus wants them on His team. So when our guests do arrive, are they treated like royalty? Do they get the feeling that they can belong to the group, the whole group?
            Each person that walks through our doors should be tired by the end of service from shaking hands, giving out facts about their lives. They should be overwhelmed by the love and graciousness shown by our members of the Jesus team. When they do finally walk out that door, I want them to be thinking, “They are truly glad that I came. This is somewhere where I can fit in and belong, in spite of my warts. They really want me here. I am coming back!”
            Ask yourself honestly, “Is that how each and every guest that walks into our building feels?” Or do they get a big dose of, “How are ya? Fine? I am fine to. See ya!”
            IF we are to grow as a body and increase the Kingdom for the glory of God, we must leave each precious soul that walks through our doors with an overwhelming sense of welcome and joy. What can we do specifically to make that happen?
            Let me KNOW!!!!

Tough Sayings...

            There’s a question that I have that has been bothering me for a while. It has to do with a lot of the hard sayings of Jesus – the sayings like “pick of your cross and follow me,” or “whoever wants to save his life must lose it,” or “if you are to be my disciple you must hate your father and mother.” We often end to gloss over a lot of these sayings either because we do not understand them or the impact they would have on our lives is too radical. It would cause us to break way out of our comfort zone.
            My question is: How much of the New Testament do we tend to ignore? These are the saying of the Messiah. Why do they not carry much more weight than a passing glance? Are they too confusing to deal with or is the real problem simply that we do not want to? It is hard being a living sacrifice day after day after day.
            When reading through the Gospels, they spell out a life well lived that we should be doing our best to imitate. How is it that our lives are so far off this course that we might ask if there is any resemblance at all? Jesus said He came not to be served but to serve. How is this reflected in our daily walks? How is this reflected in our attitude? What can we do this very day to be more like our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ? It is vital that we pick up our cross every day and follow Him. Do you understand what He means?
            I am intent on not settling for a watered-down version of Christianity. We need to use all of our efforts, our strength, our time, and our money to grow the kingdom for God. We are to be living sacrifices. When we lose our lives to servanthood now, we gain crowns of glory and gain our life in the next. By no means is this an attempt to earn salvation, but it is an appropriate response to the grace and mercy that has already been given to us.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


           We have been talking about transformation lately, not at just a church level, but at an individual level as well. When I think about transformation, I think of a caterpillar creeping along a life. When the time comes that caterpillar goes and makes a cocoon. During the time in the cocoon the caterpillar is transformed into a shape that is hardly recognizable.
            Many times we may see ourselves as caterpillars just creeping along the leaves of life. We may know or have some sense that we were made for something more or something greater. But, for now, we are happy being caterpillars. We resist the change we feel called to make. We don’t want to go into a cocoon. We like things just the way they are.
            During these times we get so caught up in our own little needs and desires that we forget about the big picture. We forget that the transformation of the caterpillar produces the beauty of the butterfly. It produces a shape that has wings and can soar through the air. It produces a shape that is very beautiful and is chased after by kids and grown ups alike.
            The next time you are crawling along a leaf in life, remember the caterpillar. In God’s eyes we are all beautiful and we were made for more. We were made to transform into the image of His Son. We were made to soar like butterflies and gracefully land on the petals of beautiful flowers. We were made for His pleasure and His glory.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tradition for Tradition's Sake

Tradition For Tradition’s Sake

            These days many people have asked me to define myself religiously – i.e., put myself in a category. I usually tell them I am a Christian. More often than not, they will push the issue and say, “Okay, but what denomination?” If they do press those buttons, I usually respond, “I am really more non-denominational than anything. I am simply a Jesus nut.”
            They usually give me a quizzical look because they are not really sure what to do with “Jesus nut.” But, I have found this actually piques people’s interest for a moment, and they will listen to what you have to say for at least a minute or two.
            When I was growing up I only did the things that were traditionally seen in the ‘old school’ Church of Christ. I did not associate with other denominations because they were doing it wrong (or so I was taught). The is unfortunate because it really stunts a person’s spiritually growth and usually finds the resulting behavior running contrary to the things Jesus taught, like love your neighbor (ALL of your neighbors!).
I do love some of the traditions that I grew up with but I cannot hold to those that really conflict the idea of grace. We cannot accept things just because ‘that is the way we have always done it.’ Tradition for tradition’s sake may actually be harming our growth as an individual and as a church. Yes, there are certain ‘battlefield that we would die on’ like the deity of Christ, the exclusivity of Christ, and others, but these are rooted firmly in Scripture. Remember that we are to be fishers of men. If we are fishing for trout, we do not use the same methods or tackle that we use for catfish. But the idea (and the Message) is still the same no matter what tools we use or change.

The Black Dot

THE BLACK DOT: There was a woman’s Bible teacher named Verlin that was known for the use of the following illustration in her ladies’ Bible class. She would take a white cardboard and place a small black dot in the middle of the board.
            “What do you see?” she would ask.
            “A black spot,” was the general answer without hesitation.
            She would then ask, “What else do you see?” And many strain but could not find anything else to see.
            “You see only the spot,” she replied, which some folks thought might represent the troubles of life. Then she would point out that they had overlooked the massive white space that made up the rest of the board. She would remind them that many of us overlook the obvious or forget the many blessings we have by focusing on the minor.
            The same thing can happen in our lives when we get so engrossed in our problems, even the small ones, and forget to count our blessings – one by one. We are not able to see the forest for the trees.

Psalm 100

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.