Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflections on 2009 and for 2010

The past year has passed quickly. Our retirement did not start as we had planed. Helen became ill and spent nine days in the hospital the week after we moved to our new home. It took her several weeks to recover from the problem she had. It also delayed her ability to get her new home to look as she wanted it to. Thank you for your prayers during that difficult time. With God’s help that was behind us by mid spring and we were able to get into a more predictable rhythm.

We have enjoyed being near our grandchildren but we have found we must be careful or we will not have a schedule we can call our own. Between, school activities, church activities, ball games, musical presentations and a variety of other events, family has kept us busy. It has been a good busy however and we have enjoyed the freedom to do retirement has allowed us.

As you know, I did not retire to sit. I have been working hard to develop the ideas I believe God has given me for Entrusted Ministries. It has been slow going but I believe progress is being made. It looks like 2010 will give me greater opportunities to work for the State Convention in the Revitalization Department. I also hope to be able to do more teaching in the coming year.
I have completed seven months as interim at Durbin Creek Baptist Church. The folks have been gracious to Helen and me. My role has been more as supply preacher than full interim. My commitment to them ends at the close of the year, but I plan to continue with them into 2010. They understand, if an opportunity comes that would allow me to use more of the training I have received in the past couple of years, I will consider it.

As we enter 2010, please continue to pray for my discernment in regards to what God wants me to do in my preaching, teaching, and consulting ministry. This is still where my heart is. Pray, I will not become impatient with the progress it makes and will wait patiently for the Lord to work out the details.

There are two other special prayer requests I have. First, pray I will discipline myself to spend more time on writing in the coming year. I find myself too easily distracted. I believe there are two books in my head, if I can concentrate on putting them on paper. The first is another book of reflections. The second is book on the Vital Signs of a Healthy Church. If I am going to be successful in accomplishing this, I will need all the prayer I can get.

The second request is of a more personal nature. The back pain I have experienced the past six months has hindered my workout routine. As a result I have gained far too much weight. Pray I will have the self-discipline to exercise and diet over the nest year. I would really like to loose 35 pounds.

Helen and I want each one of you to know that you are a vital part of our ministry. The confidence we have that you are faithfully praying for us gives us great anticipation of what God is going to do in the future. Please continue to pray for us daily and let us hear from you from time to time, especially if you have special prayer requests.

May you and your family have a Happy and blest New Year.

Reflection - December 30, 2009

Someone once said that you could tell more about a person from their checkbook and their calendar than from anything else they have. The reasoning for such a statement is simple. People spend their time and money on the things that are really important to them. There is another important gauge of a person that is much more difficult to identify. If you can determine the things that a person thinks about all the time, you can know who they really are.

It has also been said that we become what we think. This line of thinking prompted William Barclay to write, “This is something of utmost importance, because it is the law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it.” In other words, our thoughts can consume our time and energy and can go along way toward determining who we are going to become.

If our thoughts are this important, it would behoove each one of us to make a resolution at the beginning of this year to think right thoughts during the coming year. In Philippians 4:8 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (NASV) While Paul was not writing a New Years Resolution, it would not be a bad idea for each one of us to adapt this verse and make it our resolution for 2010.

If we are serious about such a resolution, it will affect our lives dramatically. It will effect where we go, what we watch, what we read, and what we hear. The results of this resolution being kept would be changed lives. Lives that are changed positively would mean happier homes and better communities. Considering the possible benefits, it is a resolution worth at least thinking about. After all, if you think about it enough, it may become who you are.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflections - December 23, 2009

"Christmas Is For Everyone"

The account of the birth of Jesus is found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Matthew records the story of the wise men and Luke the story of the shepherds. The two accounts present a wonderful contrast. The wise men were men of great wealth. They had all that money could afford. The shepherds were common men. They were simple working people. While the former brought valuable gifts to the Christ child, the latter brought only their praise and worship.

It does not matter what your economic situation is; it does not matter what race you are; it does not matter what nationality you are; nor does it matter what part of the world you are from. Christmas is for everyone who is willing to stand in amazement at the birth of the Christ.

To really appreciate the full meaning of Christmas, it is important to look beyond the tiny stable in Bethlehem. As we gaze at the tiny baby in the manger, we need to look forward to the city of Jerusalem and to a hill called Calvary. At Calvary He fulfills His purpose for coming. At Calvary, He will die for the sins of the world. He alone could do such a thing, because He had led the perfect life. He would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of man.

His death on the cross did not complete the full story of Christmas. We need to extend our gaze to the empty tomb. It is the empty tomb that placed a stamp of validation upon all the claims He had made. It is His resurrection that finalizes His victory over death. It is His resurrection that provides the blessed hope that belongs to all those who place their trust in Him.

As we continue to reflect on the manger, we need to see beyond His resurrection to another beautiful scene. We need to see the group of His followers who watched in wonder as He ascended into the heavens to take His rightful place with the Father. As we observe the scene we need to hear and to believe the words that the angels spoke, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

When we are able to see this full picture, we will experience the full meaning of this wonderful birth that took place so long ago. My prayer is that all will see beyond the manger to the entire story. For this story in its entirety is the hope for all mankind

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reflections - December 17, 2009

"The Gift of Abundant Life"

Most of us have given a gift to someone only to have them lay it aside, making it clear he/she was not interested or appreciative of what we have offered. In such situations, my initial response is either hurt or anger. When Jesus came, God gave us the gift of His Son. His gift was for this life as well as the life to come. In this life Jesus offers us joy, peace and abundance. (If you have not read the past two reflections go back and read about the joy and peace Jesus offers.) Having read of the joy and peace God offers us, read of the abundant life He wants us to have. How it must grieve Him, when we do not open these preci0us gifts and let them minister to our spirits.

In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” To fully understand the meaning of this statement, we must understand the words came, life and abundantly. Christmas is about the coming of Christ. He is the incarnation of God. He is the Word become flesh. He came from glory. His coming is about God stepping from the realms of eternity into the realm of time.

He came that we might have life. The implication is that without Him there is no life. The life of which He speaks is obviously not physical. It is spiritual. Paul expresses it this way in Ephesians 2:4,5, “But God being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ(by grace you have been saved),” Christ came from glory to provide away for us to become spiritually alive. The life that He gives restores us to the relationship with our Heavenly Father that had been broken by sin.

He also came that we might have abundant life. The word abundant means full to overflowing. Abundant life is not about possessions. It is about the inner satisfaction that comes from knowing that you are loved and accepted by your Creator. It is being filled with the eternal hope that Christ brings to us. It is never being hopeless. It is to know you possess something that no one can take from you. It is the culmination of the joy, peace and hope that Christ provides for those who follow Him and are obedient to His Word.

The world is starved for these gifts but when it observes how few Christians have opened them and allowed them access to their lives, the world questions whether they are real or not. My Christmas prayer for each one of us is that we will yield our life to Christ and let His gifts of joy, peace and abundant life light up our lives, making it possible for those around us to see the “Reason for the Season’ displayed in our actions. To do so will not only bless us personally, it will bless those around us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reflections - December 9, 2009

"The Gift of Peace"

This is the season of the year that we sing about “peace on earth and good will toward men”. However, when we log onto the daily news, we are reminded that there is little peace on earth. Whether it is the fighting in Afghanistan, the problems in the Middle East, our ongoing war on terror, tribal conflict in Africa or dozens of other trouble spots around the world, there seems to be little peace. When you add to these conflicts the racial hatred, domestic violence, violent crime, and a general ill will between so many people, it appears that the words “peace on earth and good will toward men” have little or no meaning for our world today.

A part of the problem is that we do not understand the biblical meaning of peace. To most people, peace means the absence of conflict, but in biblical days it had a much deeper meaning. The Old Testament meaning referred to the completeness, soundness and well being of the total person. Peace was considered a gift from God for those who obeyed the Law. The Jewish greeting Shalom is a wish for this peace in the life of the individual. The New Testament meaning refers to the inner tranquility of the Christian brought about by the reconciliation of the believer with his/her God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This is the peace Jesus spoke about when He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”(John 14:27 NASB) Jesus’ life was the perfect example of the peace God’s wishes for each of us to experience. He was attacked from all directions, but He never lost the inner tranquility of heart that comes from being at perfect peace with the heavenly Father. This is the peace that He brings to us today. Through Him, we can be reconciled with the heavenly Father and we can be the recipients of the peace that He offers.

At this point you may ask, “What does this have to do with “peace on earth and good will toward men”? The answer is simple. Before men will ever have a lasting peace between themselves, they must first be at peace with God. It is peace with God that prepares us to be at peace with each other. Peace with God is the gift that Jesus brings to us. He is the only One that can bring lasting peace to the world.

This Christmas make sure that you unwrap the gift of peace. Give Jesus first place in your life. Let Him provide you with the inner tranquility that He desires you to have. Let Him make John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace, in the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”, become a reality in your life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reflections - December 2, 2009

"The Gift Of Joy"

The next three weeks I plan to write about three wonderful gifts each one of us can receive this Christmas. These are gifts that were promised by Jesus two thousand years ago. They are the gifts of joy, peace and abundant living. For believers, these gifts are all ready theirs. They need only open the package and follow the directions to appropriate them in their lives. For those who do not believe, they are available by simply opening their hearts and receiving them by faith.

The first gift is joy. It is important that we do not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is determined by circumstances. It comes and goes as circumstances change. The joy that Christ gives is internal. It is not built upon circumstances, but it is built upon a humble acceptance of Christ’s love and a willing obedience to His word. It is only when we abide in Him and walk with Him daily that we can experience His joy.

The joy of Christ is that internal excitement that allowed Paul and Silas to pray and to sing praise unto their God from their prison cell. It is the joy that prompted the German Christian martyr, Herman Lange, to write these words to his parents just prior to his execution by the Nazis in W.W.II, “I am, first, in a joyous mood, and second, filled with great anticipation. In Christ I have put my faith, and precisely today I have faith in Him more firmly than ever. Look where you will, everywhere you will find jubilation over the grace that makes us children of God. What can befall a child of God? Of what should I be afraid? On the contrary, I rejoice.”The joy of Paul and Silas and of Herman Lange is not automatic for the believer, but it is available to every believer. It comes from a lifetime of abiding in Christ.

A believer who is filled with the joy of Christ is like popcorn. Ordinary corn placed in a skillet and heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit simply dries up and gets hard. Popcorn reacts totally different to heat. When it is heated to 400 degrees, it expands and breaks open its tough outer shell. This allows the pure white pulp to burst forth into an edible treat that is many times the size of the kernel, and it is a eating delight of young and old alike.

The parallel to life is clear. When the heat of life’s trials comes, many people shrivel up and become embittered. For those who humble themselves and walk with Christ, adversity becomes a catalyst for them to enlarge and burst forth with blessings for those around them.

If you are a believer reading this article, and you do not have the joy of Christ at this time, don’t let Christmas pass you by without renewing this wonderful gift that Christ gives to all who are willing to follow Him. Renew your commitment to Him and begin the New Year believing that He will help you overcome whatever your obstacles may be.

If you are a seeker, don’t let this Christmas season pass you by without at least considering the possibility of receiving this wonderful gift that Christ wishes to give to you. If you have questions about how to receive the gift of Christ, I would be happy to talk with you about them. You may reach me at