Tuesday, August 31, 2010


"And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness." Mark 1:12

Lots of things are happening here, but the thing that strikes me the most is the notion that the Spirit of God DROVE Jesus into the wilderness.

I've seen that wilderness. It's so dry you think you've left this world. Mile after mile of what we would call mountains and they call hills, but they're desert hills, the kind of hills you wouldn't walk up on a dare.

And God the Father sent his Spirit to MAKE Jesus go into that wilderness down South of Jerusalem somewhere near Jehrico. Amazing.

What are we to think of that?

Only this: God does cause and allow difficulties in all our lives. Why? What did Jesus get out of 40 days of nothing but Satan hammering him with thoughts of getting out of that literal Hell-hole?

Preparation, I would think.

Preparation for the next spiritual step. Preparation for the hard times ahead. Preparation for the worst of days.

I remember playing football often during this time of the year. The smell of freshly cut grass. The notion that I could hit folks and get away with it, even be cheered for it was outstanding. But before we ever played a game, there was about a month of blazing temperatures, heavy humiity and something called grass drills. In those drills, one would run in place, then fall prone to the ground, get back up and do it all over again many times. I HATED those things. Saw no reason for them.

Till we played a game, and somewhere in the fourth quarter, when someone blocked me and I missed a good hold on a running back and I hit the ground and I bounced back up and took off after the running back, perhaps it hit me. All those grass drills, and running and practice was but preparation for those moments that were the hardest.

God prepared His Son for the days to come. His angels, the scriptures say, made sure He made it through, but it was all on Jesus. His humanity needed sheltering, but his deity understood.

So must we be. Our worst moments are preparation for our best. The thing we must do is simply hold on, then continue on.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Last remembrance

What if one day I had no words?

What if one day the thing I think I do best,I couldn't do?

How would I react? How would I function?

There are many out there who have to find that out, against their wishes.

Today five years ago, Katrina had come and gone and things were not that bad. Then, suddenly, the levees broke and things were worse than anyone thought they could be. It isn't often that a person can pinpoint a day that their life changed forever. I can. It was this date.

Looking back I see more similarities with the Nehemia case.

Nehemiah 2: 10
But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of my arrival, they were very angry that someone had come who was interested in helping Israel.
The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not spoken to THE RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS, THE OFFICIALS OR ANYONE ELSE IN THE ADMINISTRATION. But now I said to them, "You know full well the tragedy of our city. It lies in ruins and its gates are burned. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rid ourselves of this disgrace.

Four years ago I wrote this: Today I will journey into the city. I will head directly into areas that have few people still. I will go to a high school that is a shell of itself, though it has certainly fared better than most. I will talk to persons who were forced into exile a year ago. I will talk to them about their return, about what they lost and what they will never regain.

It disturbs me daily that people have to meet to make a plan to make a plan. It disturbs me that there is no one who will simply step up to the plate and say, this isn't cutting it. We need to rebuild. Or this isn't worth it, we're not rebuilding, we're bulldozing.

It's a year. People are dying from stress, literally. People are not dealing with the pain and the loss and they're taking their own lives in some instances.
And we talk, seriously, about comedy shows and fireworks.

Nehemiah 2:19:
But when Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptously, "What are you doing, rebelling agains the king like this!"

There will always be naysayers, doubters, those who say they can't, or we can't, and the will be those who don't and those who won't.
We follow a God who can and does. We need to be like him. We're trapped only if we choose to be.

The fact remains that I'm still grieving for a lost life. Now, I understand intellectually that God has placed me where He wanted me. But my heart, my heart? How much of this journey was me making dumb decisions and how much of it was God moving me along? I'll not know, I suspect, till I am in the throne room with him

As I write, I'm listening to a cut of my son's CD, Too Old Now, and I can't get those words out of my mind. I'm too old to start over, too old to wander and probably too old to wonder.

I've lived through a hurricane that killed others, not been directly affected by a flood that galvanized a nation and shrunk a great America city by 100,000. What now?

Goodbye Katrina. Let me rest in peace.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How do you feel when things are going swell? Swell....headed, perhaps?

The fact is that Isaiah has it correct. "Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; all who were incensed against him shall come to him and be ashamed."

It is an easy thing, far too easy in fact, to forget who is responsible when things are swimmingly good. When the skies are blue and the funds are flush and the joints aren't aching, we must turn to the same God we cry out to when the storms are coming.

I wrote his a while ago in a book called Storms...

Katrina became a Cat 2 hurricane, near Cat 3 on this date in 2005. It entered the gulf stirring up fear and surf all along the Gulf Coast.
In 2006, Ernesto churned toward the gulf on the same date.
I talked to a friend of mine a while earlier and we talked about the unspoken fear everyone has now. Storms can be 1,500 miles away and people still worry.
Nehemiah 12 concludes with the words: They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced.
The joy of Jerusalem was heard a long way away, the Bible says.
Isn't that what we long for, here, on the Coast, in this country? The joy of living, of being?
The joy that makes no sense but is right there anyway. The joy that means so much but costs so little. Isn't that our goal, our longing?
That's the joy of the Lord and it isn't present anywhere else. Like Jesus said, If it wasn't true I would tell you.
I would.
There isn't.
In late August 2005, my good friend Gene's church was destroyed .
It is important, it is vital however to remember two things. 1) Katrina missed New Orleans. Man did not. 2) It is time to remember to forget, to say goodbye, to end the grieving, to get past the pain.
For a year afterwards, we were victims. Though I loved what I did and where I wound up after we sold our house and moved, I didn't choose to leave my friends or my church. Katrina did that for me. Obviously there are people with much, much greater losses. But we've all had to live with this for a solid, daily, year.
It weighed on all of us in one way or another. Concern for loved ones or for ourselves doubled and tripled and eventually crippled some. Debris, trees still down without being cut, houses still not gutted, houses lying on their sides, businesses gone, all that weighs on us.
It did not go away, fast or otherwise.
The president came come and said what he wanted, but he never really dealt with all this. The mayor didn’t, the governor didn’t.
You get the point.
In today's devotional in My Utmost for His Highest says: Faith must be tested because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict...Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us.
Friends, we (in all shapes and sizes) made it through. Some of us were lost, lives and/or souls. We went charging into the valley of the shadow of death, which was flooded by the way, and we swam out the other side.
I trust we are better for it. I trust that our faith, all of us no matter our circumstances, has been tested and it is now our personal possession to fall back upon when the next storm, big or small, comes blowing into our lives.
Nehemiah ends sort of weirdly. There is no end, really. Life just goes on.
Maybe that's the real secret to be found here, the real answer.
Life goes on. Storms come and go, but life, even hard life, must go on.

But when it is sweet, remember to say to God, "Thanks Be To You, O God."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Live a goal of love

1 Corinthians 14:1, says, "Let love be yur highest goal."

Uh, it's a goal?

When's the last time you got up in the morning and thought, "today I'm gonna love someone new?"

I hope it was today.

Love is something, Paul tells us, that is beyond even speaking in tongues or any of the Spirit gifts. Peter tells us love overpowers a ton of mistakes. Jesus said we are to love one another.

Second only to telling us to not be afraid, we're told in scripture to love.

And now we've read it's a goal.

I get up, make my toast, have my bananna, maybe a strip or two of turkey bacon crisp, my coffee with skinny latte cream and, uh, set out to meet by goal of loving.

Thankfully it gets easier. It gets easier to love. It really does. Why? Because the king of kings, Lord of Lords, the absolute Prince of Peace is living -- through His Spirit -- in us. So......we learn to love when we get out of the way.

Today I want you to understand this more than anything: Paul writes, "Three things last forever -- faith, hope, and love -- and the greatest of these is love."

That's my goal today. I love you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God's purpose

This notion of purpose intrigues me. What is our purpose? Why are we here?

It's clear that many set personal goals (and achieve them). It's clear that many wander wondering.

Christians are fortunate. We are given a purpose, a meaning, a duty. Matthew 28:19says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Jesus is telling us clearly what our purpose is.

The problem came when we tried to implement the duty. We, us, humanity got involved. We created committees. We developed plans. We wrote how-to books. We did everything we could to muck it up including those little incidents like the inquisition and the crusades.

Why didn't Jesus say, "And this is the way I want it done?"

Don't know, but I can speculate.

The reason the third portion of the Trinity is included there, I think, is that the role of the Holy Spirit was and is to teach us how to go and make disciples. Only when we lean toward Him do we do what we're supposed to do in the way we're supposed to do it.

I would do anything to have a meeting or a session or a service in which 50 people came to Christ. I would. I would love to have to baptize a bunch of folks at once. It simply has never happened. I don't know that it will.

But I plug on, fingernails clawing at the cliff of salvation, waiting for that purpose to be a successful one.

The irony is, when someone does come to Christ because God used you or us or even something we said inadvertently, we might not even know it.

That's the beauty of salvation. It's God's purpose.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A day later

Ah, what a day.

I think it's call a rebound.

Ever have those days when you hit and you, uh, bounce. I'm bouncing. Seems my book, God on the Line, Answering Heaven's Call, is going ahead into production. Money is flowing in, by God's grace, and it has just been miraculous what He does. I feel it will be a blessing to someone, the right one, very soon (couple months maybe).

My back still hurts, but less. I slept unfit fully last night, but I've managed to stay away from afternoon naps so maybe tonight will be different.

But overall, it's just a feeling (as I wrote on a Sunday sermon) that God cares so much for me, for my family, for us all.

Look at Psalm 116 (from the message):

I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn't know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
"Please, God!" I cried out.
"Save my life!"
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.

7-8 I said to myself, "Relax and rest.
God has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you've been rescued from death;
Eye, you've been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling."

9-11 I'm striding in the presence of God,
alive in the land of the living!
I stayed faithful, though bedeviled,
and despite a ton of bad luck,
Despite giving up on the human race,
saying, "They're all liars and cheats."

12-19 What can I give back to God
for the blessings he's poured out on me?
I'll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!
I'll pray in the name of God;
I'll complete what I promised God I'd do,
and I'll do it together with his people.
When they arrive at the gates of death,
God welcomes those who love him.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
I'm ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice
and pray in the name of God.
I'll complete what I promised God I'd do,
and I'll do it in company with his people,
In the place of worship, in God's house,
in Jerusalem, God's city.

The tales of how God's call will be told. The stories of many call stories that wouldn't see the light of day otherwise will be told because of some gracious friends. Hallelujah!

Monday, August 23, 2010

We all have our times and our situations.

I had me one at the end of a pleasant week. I had a bad back weekend where the pain was more than I had pills for and I simply haven't slept since Friday and I have nothing strong enough to take the pain away till a week from Friday. When this happens, all I can do is hold on. I'm trying.

Then I had me a Katrina moment after reading a story in the paper. It's come to my attention that I have never grieved over what we lost with Hurricane Katrina. In taking training to help others with their recovery and grief, I began to understand that I never grieved myself. I've spent five years saying God simply wanted us to move. That can be a way of coping, but it isn't grieving. We didn't lose a house. We didn't flood. But we lost the closeness of our family, and now with grandchildren everywhere, we only see them by driving 60 miles instead of three. Because of Katrina. We had a wonderful contemporary service at the church I was serving, and we lost that. I was forced to move to the Northshore because of Katrina. In other words, my life was changed against my will. I wouldn't have the back trouble I have no without Katrina. My best friends would still be together with Katrina. I hate Hurricane Katrina. Hate it.

And speaking of contemporary services, I tried one at my present charge, in the evening on Sunday. It failed. After three weeks. For the first time since I've been in the ministry, nobody came. Nobody. I practiced for and hour on the guitar and wrote a second sermon and got the sanctuary switched around and prepared communion and nobody came. So I quit.

It all has me hurting, spinning, wondering. Lord of heaven and earth, help me this morning. Help me find myself again. Help me recover. Help me through the thousands of Katrina stories and through hearing contemporary music and wondering why I can't serve a church with folks who want to worship the way I do.

And let me quit feeling sorry for myself. The hurt is what the hurt is, physically and emotionally. I can't change either. Can't. So I must not try.


Friday, August 20, 2010

The blessing of no blessings

From Job we read: "Why do the wicked live on, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? Their children are established in their presence, and their offspring before their eye. Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them. ... They say to God, "leave us alone! We do not desire to know your ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?'"

Ever been that way, wondering why you've spent so much time in the Bible and in prayer only to see something terrible happen while across the street, someone who doesn't go to church, doesn't read scripture and makes fun of you when you pray has all the "luck in the world?"

Truthfully, who hasn't? Who hasn't said, or thought, why me, Lord? What did I ever do? Why won't you bless me and mine? What's the point of all these spiritual disciplines if they never get me one step closer to knowing you or hearing from you or even being blessed by you?

Those propserity preachers' churches are growning by leaps and bounds because they prey upon those who believe God will give them things for their faith. But the scriptures I read point out that great men of faith bled and died without receiving much of anything.

The 11th chapter of Hebrews points out "Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground."

Where's the prosperity in these champions of the faith?

The writer of Hebrews though captures what it means to have faith when he writes, "yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect."

If one concentrates on the did not receive what was promised part of the sentence, one will live a joyless life and continually wonder why the person across the street is doing so well. If one concentrates on the provided something better part of the sentence one will see that our reward for faith often, in fact very often, doesn't come in this lifetime but in the one to come.

Does God answer every prayer, every Job question? Yes and no. Sometimes the answer is silence and sometimes the answer is flat out no. On this side of the River Jordan. But it's a mighty, wonderful YES on the other side.

Faith means we have the possibility of waiting it out. That when we cry out to God and get nothing but the wind in response, we still, still, STILL, remember that God is just as responsible for the wind as he is for anythign else.

God loves us, but he doesnt' always bless us with things. Job, remember, lost everything before he gained everything. If he had given up while he was still among the lost, he never would have gained anything.

He never would have said, "God understands the way to (wisdom) and he knows its place. For he looks to the end of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned out the waters by measure;"

God knows. He understands. He listens. His patience is as abundant as His power. Oh that we grow some of that fruit of the Spirit. Patience that is.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stormy weather

Signs that the end is near:

The village of Cridersville, Ohio, describes itself as "small town America at its very best." On Aug. 21, the town will honor the frontman for the 1980s heavy metal band Twisted Sister by changing its name to Snidersville.

We life in a society today that has changed so much since the 50s that what is America at its very best no longer exists.

We've bled the country of its goodness, taken God out of schools but allowing Allah to be worshipped near the site of Islam's worst tragedy, the World Trade Center.

We've changed the way we all view the local church, making it something that one attends (perhaps) on Sunday morning and forgets the rest of the week.

We've allowed Godlessness to become the law of the land instead of Godliness.

We've simply changed. Anyone who would argue that either is too young to remember or is part of the Godlessness.

Blue laws anyone?

The question is, however, whether this is a better land for you and me or not? Is the fact we've loosened the way we worship better or worse?


In Paul's letter to the chuch in Galatia, he rails against letting the law be added to the formula he has laid out: Faith in Jesus allows grace to be administered as a salvation tool by God.

In other words, Jesus plus the law equals salvation. Paul says in no uncertain terms, no, no and furthermore, no. Faith in Jesus alone. Jesus plus nothing.

So adding blue laws, mandatory prayer to start the school day, allowing prayer before school events, church being the focal point of the community, and you name it will not get you one step closer to heaven.

This I say is true.

It's Jesus plus nada. We are not held hostage by the law of Moses, because we can't do it all we shouldn't add one iota to the formula for salvation.

So where have we gone wrong, if we have?

The answer is we can't work with our own freedom. Paul says it this way: For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only DO NOT USE YOUR FREEDOM AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SELF-INDULGENCE.

He goes on to add but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandments: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. If, however, you bite and devour one another; take care that you are not consumed by one another.

There is the rub. We've been given freedom, freedom of religion but also freedom FROM religion. We've taken the from and run with it. We've decided we're so free we have no ethical nor moral fence to keep us out of the self-indulgent pasture on the other side of the hill.

We simply couldn't police ourselves, so we fell or are in the process of falling.

We're free, yes, free indeed. But free to do what?

The sad answer in America today is free to do whatever we want. So free we no longer even notice our neighbor. So free we've devoured everything we come in contact with.

Were the 50s so much better with their blatant racism and sexism? Only in this regard: We understood that we needed help in loving Jesus. We put up shelters from the storms, such as blue laws and mandatory prayer. Once we took those shelters down because we decided we no longer needed them, the storms overtook us.

They still are.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fruit shake

What is growing in you?

Paul said the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

But fruit is not sprung from the vine fully grown or fully developed. It grows.

So, what is growing in you?

Have you noticed lately a growth in your patience? In your self-control? In your love?

What is it? I think it helps not only to pray for the growth in those things, and to notice that you can have all these things as opposed to one Spirit gift, but I think it helps to be on alert for them. In other words, watch and see which is growing and do what you can to help the growth. Fertilize it spiritually would be my recommendation.

I've noticed a growth in my faithfulness. There has been ample opportunities since he humongous step of going full time into the ministry and leaving our house behind. Though it remains without a renter, we've taken steps through the Spirit's help to pay for it anyway. Mary has been blessed with a job or two and the problem simply has gone away for now.

My faith has been tested and like the disciples when they began feeding the 5,000 and were amazed that as they fed they didn't' run out of food, I've been amazed that we have been able to accomplish this with little or no worry. That's so un-Billy-like.

Watch and see where the fruit is growing in your life. Paul says that if you're walking in the Spirit, you will have growth in these fruits.

The love you have for others will supernaturally grow. The joy you feel despite setbacks in your life will grow. The gentleness with which you live your life will grow.

The wonderfulness of all this is that, again, fruit doesn't spring forth fully grown. It grows, sometimes very slowly. But if you're looking, and if you're living it, you will actually get to see the growth. Faith is rewarded with growth and growth stretches your faith.

So sometimes when you don't feel you prayers are being answered and it seems that God is so far away and the desert is so hot and dry spiritually, it is good to note that some fruit grows even in the desert. That growing fruit is as good a confirmation as answers to prayer. It lets you know, if you still need that confirmation, that the Spirit is still alive and well in you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

He hears my voice

The 116th Psalm says: "I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.
3 Death wrapped its ropes around me;
the terrors of the grave[a] overtook me.
I saw only trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Please, Lord, save me!”
5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
6 The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
7 Let my soul be at rest again,
for the Lord has been good to me.

Slowly but surely God is changing the way I view things. My wife got a second part-time job today, doing something she likes to do (crossing guard for a local school), and we believe we now have enough to pay for our house even if we never rent it.

The thing is having trust in God when we believe the emotional, financial, spiritual end is near. God is good all the time, but all the time we might not see the good. We simply have to trust. If we could see faith and hope realized, they are not faith and hope.

But it surely is good when God does bend down and listens. It surely is good when God protects those of childlike faith.

I praise Him for what he's doing. He's let us go to the edge of the financial abyss and look over the side before he pulled us back. We have enough to live on, to do ministry on, to do well on and that's all we need.

Let my soul be at rest again for the Lord has been good to me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pressing on

Paul tells us what life sometimes comes down to when he writes, "Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." He adds, "I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."

I press on, when things are going poorly.
I press on, when our checking account doesn't equal or better my bills.
I press on, when our goals are unachievable.
I press on, when our relationships are rocky.
I press on, when the path we've taken is clearly a poor one.
I press on, when the decisions made are not the right ones.
I press on, Paul says.

Have you felt that you were doing that? Or is there some give up in your game?

Pressing on means not quitting though the times are tough and the ideas for getting out of the tough times are few.

Pressing on means taking what God has given and running with it, against all odds, against all means, against all jeopardy.

Pressing on means never taking no for an answer, or at least not doing it too quickly or for the wrong reasons.

Pressing on means understanding that we can't do anything about what's happening to us at the moment, at least on our own.

Pressing on means understanding the idea of serenity in the first place, which is accepting what I can't make a change in or fix.

Pressing on means taking charge of the situation by letting go of the situation and letting God be God.

Pressing on means turning aspiration, inspiration and perspiration over to God. He will honor all of the above.

Pressing on means trying when giving up would be a bit more rational.

Pressing on means believing in something so much you don't let others talk you out of it.

For Paul it simply meant straining for what lies ahead. What lies ahead if the marvelous eternal time spent with God.

I press on...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Against the law

Paul wrote to the church in Galatia:
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather be known by God, how can you turn bac again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits?"

That's a bunch of big ol words to say "how can you continue to mess up even though you know the creator of the universe on a personal level?"

Good question.

This notion of "elemental spirits" might refer to all sorts of things, but it probably meant the idea that in the ancient world the movement of stars and planets were thought to be controlled by spirits. In a larger sense, what it means is now that you truly know God, how can you fall back on legends and myths and those things that yo mama taught that simply weren't true.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness is a fine example of good thoughts but not in the Bible thoughts.

My mama believed in that so well she could have had stock in cleaning chemicals.

But it's not Biblical.

This notion that you can transform yourself, make yourself good enough to be "right" with God is a fine thought, but not Biblical.

ou simply need a savior. That savior is Jesus. Jesus is the answer to those problems. None other. Knowing God should help you to understand that, but sometimes, like the Galatian church, we fall back. That gives us guilt. That gives us pain. That gives us a feeling of being unworthy.

Paul says over and over that the law can not save you. If it could, he reasons, there was no possibly reason for Christ to have died.

Believe it and life, abundantly. Try to live by the law and you will only feel the lack of freedom, not the grace by which God wants you to live. That's Biblical.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The exclamation point of worship

Continuing on a trend:

Psalm 75 reads, "We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks; your name is near. People tell of your wondrous deeds.:

Isn't that something we have lost over time, the ability to tell others of God's wondrous deeds? Perhaps we feel that God is out of the wondrous deeds department. No Red Sea. No Lazaruses. No sun stopping in the sky.

Certainly God hasn't been doing the big, big stuff lately. No entire nation has been saved from slavery lately. At least not to my knowledge.

We don't even have the tongue-talking controversy any longer. No longer do sects begin talking in tongues when the Holy Spirit comes upon them.

That's just the way it is.

So what do we praise Him for today?

Oh, we praise Him for the sun and the moon, the day and the night. We praise him for raises at our jobs and for good health and such. But we do it almost by rote, praying in the morning a litany of thank yous and at night a repetition of way to gos.

But do we do this (Psalm 76 fourth verse)? "Glorious are you, more majestic than the everlasting mountains. (Verse 7) But you indeed are awesome! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?"

Have we lost the exclamation points in our worship? Have we lost the awesomeness of God?

When Rich Mullins penned the song Awesome God, he was trying to point out that God is so muc an "other" that we sometimes can't comprehend who he is. He is so above us, his ways are so much not our ways, that we can't even understand his motives, his actions, his mannerisms.

The scriptures say that He is above all things, above all leaders, above all plans, above all. That's undeniable. But we don't act that way. We treat him as if He were one of us, just a man who walked the earth and not a deity who created it.

Today let's turn our blessings toward God himself, a God who is richly deserving of our worship.

Let's put the exclamation point back into our worship, once and for all.

(Psalm 88, verse 1-2) "O Lord, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Arrows of the enemy

Let's do some praising this morning:

Psalm 62: 5-6 God, the one and only—
I'll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?
He's solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I'm set for life.

7-8 My help and glory are in God
—granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust him absolutely, people;
lay your lives on the line for him.
God is a safe place to be.

9 Man as such is smoke,
woman as such, a mirage.
Put them together, they're nothing;
two times nothing is nothing.

10 And a windfall, if it comes—
don't make too much of it.

11 God said this once and for all;
how many times
Have I heard it repeated?
"Strength comes
Straight from God."

12 Love to you, Lord God!
You pay a fair wage for a good day's work!

The mathematical equation is this: God times two equal = God. God plus God = God. God minus God = God.

We are never alone. We are never without. We are always envolved.

The 56th Psalm ends this way: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 63 begins: O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary lanhd where there is no water. .. (In the third verse, we read, "So, I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory, BECAUSE YOUR STEADFAST LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIFE, MY LIPS WILL PRAISE YOU."

Better than life.
Better than one day in your life.
Better than all the good in your life.

Further in the same psalm, we read, "My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast."

There is this feeling, as I pray the utmost for His highest this morning, that God has blessed us, feeding that want with my very needs. Staying my wound with droplets of love.

My soul is stisfied with a rich feast of grace and mercy.

In Psalm 65, we read, "Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts."

We bless him by our actions and our deeds. We bless him by our in-activity. We bless him by what we've prayed and what we've delivered.

In John Wesley's 33rd Sermon, 'Sermon on the Mount," the preacher attempts to bring holiness and happiness to Jesus' sermon on that mountain. "Wesley brings eight beatitudes to that mountainside. They are the "religion of the heart." Wesley finds "this religion uin the psalms, whenever they encourage delight in the law of God. For example, in Psalm 40, Wesley states that Chris alone is truly and eminently taking delight in God because he alone Jesus alone "delighted in doing the will of God."

So tomorrow morn, when first you awake, try to picture Jess the Christ. Remember, it wlll be difficult at first. Remember, or try to, that God is helpful in this regard. Remember God is always there, helping. Pray to Him. Life up your mistakes and your burdens. "And the burdens of your heart will be lifted away."

The arrows of the enemy will be no match for God's faithfulness.

Friday, August 6, 2010

With a purpose

What are we here for?

Given that much thought? Have you tried to reason what your purpose is? You should. It's important.

Psalm 57:2 says, "I cry out to God Most High, to god, who fulfills his purpose for me."

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord. "They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope."

Now, that's not very specific. That doesn't mention cars and homes and jobs and bank accounts. But the fact that God plans for us to live in peace in a future filled with hope is pretty darn good.

God promises this, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him." That's, again, not very specific, but it is very, very wonderful. God plans to give us so many blessings that no one has seen them before.

What do you plan to do today? What is your idea of what God has for you? Whatever it is, God has so much more in store for you. What a wonderful, wonderful message to begin a day with.

Today let's go out and seek the face of God. Today let's go out and seek the plans of our Lord. Today let's search for our purpose.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

So little

So very, very busy today.

As stuff starts to fall apart, I get busier, which isn't a recipe for peace.

Then as I prepare one of my two different sermons this week as I begin a third service, I read this: "And we ALL KNOW that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Ughh. My truck is having battery problems, my house didn't rent this week because they didn't like the dark colors and they said it smelled of pets, despite new paint and floor, I accidentally paid two car payments instead of one and we're running completely out of money.

But the scriptures tell me God will turn this to good. Somehow. Someway.

The Word also says, "Nothing will be able to separate you from the love of christ, including suffering, afflcition, tribulation, calamity, distress, persecution, hunger, poverty, peril or sword."


I long for the amount of trust that Paul had. I long for the peace that Jesus promised. Actually, I long for my house to rent or something because for the first time in my life, IN MY LIFE, I have nothing to fall back upon.

Lord help us all who have so little and want so much.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Of lost lambs

Static kill is working, they say. As far as I know, this is a procedure to put cement into the well that has caused so much damage.


I read in 2 Samuel 12, "So the lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: "There were two men in a certain town. One was rich and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man's own plate and rank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a rich guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man's lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest. David was furious. "As surely as the lord lives,' he vowed, 'any man who would do such a thing deserves to die. He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity. Then Nathan said to David, 'You are that man.'

What is the greatest fear we have? I suggest it is the unknown. It is the worry about what comes next.

In talking to a pastor in Dulac, a small community toward the gulf coast in Louisiana yesterday, I heard this: "We don't know what is going to happen. Our shrimp boats don't go deep water. They haven't really been affected by the oil yet. But no one knows where the oil is. Is it on the bottom? If so, when we send our boats out, they will drag the bottom and the oil will come up."

I wonder in hearing first-hand from those who have been affected, if simply payment from BP will fill the hearts of those people with calm.

Would the rich man giving another lamb of equal value have replaced the one stolen? I think not.

We have an obligation, it seems to me, to help those who have been affected by this disaster not just in terms of money. Sure, the money can be replaced. But the stress and the worry that came with no knowing what was next, with the possible change of their way of living, can't be replaced for quickly or easily.

Jesus clearly stressed to trust God rather than to worry. Much like loving my enemies, that is far, far easier to say than to do.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Today we go to the coast of Louisiana to talk to the person who are working to take the oil out of the waters of the Gulf and to the persons who no longer have quite the livelihood they did before the disaster that is the oil spill.

I pray I'm up to the task; I do not really know.

But I know that God has called, not necessarily me, but all of us to do what we can and what He wills.

Look into the Word.

In Hebrews God tells us: Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.

In Ephesians, God tells us: 1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The message is clear to me...I must do what I can to help others as a living sacrifice to God himself, as a fragrant offering to God, as a sacrifice of praise.

That is why I've packed and loaded for the coast, not that I think I can make that big of a difference because frankly I'm not sure at all that I can and I sure have other things I can do here.

But if there is the slightest chance I can listen to one human talk through their trials and troubles and gain just a bit of a foothold in that mountain, off I go.

Can any of us do less?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Greatness is....

Matthew 13:30 ... And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, andsome who are the greatest now will be the least important then."

Greatness is such a loose term in the kingdom of God, isn't it?

Henry Ward Beecher once said,“Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength.”

Can we achieve greatness and still live in the Kingdom? Sure. Absolutely, if we indeed understand just what greatness means to God.

We start with one measuring stick, God. Psalm 150:1 tells us, "God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness."

When Jesus was asked about this notion of greatness and John the Baptist, he told his disciples this, "What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A messenger from God? That's right, a messenger! Probably the greatest messenger you'll ever hear. He is the messenger Malachi announced when he wrote, I'm sending my messenger on ahead To make the road smooth for you."

Greatness lies, it seems to me, in the performance of God's will. By being humble, by allowing God to humble us, we are closest to God that we can become and conversly as close to greatness as we will ever get.

It's not in how many books we have published or how many awards we win. Those are as meaningless as days in a year.

But giving? Ah, that puts us at the front of the line.