Another Year Gone

It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone.  At the beginning of the year, God placed on my heart Ephesians 5:15-16 as His verse for me for the year "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15-16, NASB).

The verse begs the question, did I make the most of my time?  I wish that I could answer with a resounding yes, but I can't.  I can look back over the last 12 months and see too many times in which a few minutes, an hour or two, or a day has slipped away, never to be regained again.  The time lost did nothing to help the Kingdom grow, nothing to help me draw closer to God, nothing to make me a better follower of Christ, a better husband, a better dad, a better minister, a better friend.  It can't be reclaimed, and there are no do-overs.  It's gone forever.  Perhaps I can be more sensitive to this in 2010, perhaps we all can.  Our time here on earth is short, each moment precious, we must make sure we are doing everything we can to redeem the days, to do what should be done, to say what must be said, so that as we reach the end of our earthly days, we can look back with no regrets and knowing we have done everything that Christ has asked.  We must invest wisely and be deliberate with each choice, whether it be how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how we think our thoughts, or how we use our words.  Each will be accounted for in eternity.  I am grateful that God's grace is sufficient for me when I fail…it is indeed amazing!

H1N2 Virus

I believe that there is a dangerous new affluenza virus affecting America.  It is the H1N2 virus.  It is the have 1, need 2 virus.  We are afflicted in America with affluenza, believing that if we have one of something, that we really need 2 more of it because it is new, improved, different, better or a new model.  This happens in spite of the fact that the one we have works and functions just fine.

In most of the world, they have H0N1…have none, need 1.  I believe that God wants to get us to the point where were are afflicted with H1N0…have 1, need none…so we can share the resources that we would have spend for that which we don't need for those that are in need of just the basics.

Paul wrote "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim. 6:7-8, HCSV).

It seems that this season more than any other brings out our unhealthy desire to want more of what isn't necessary.  May God guide us to a more simple expression of love during this holiday season so that we can be cured of this H1N2 affluenza virus.

Passion

The theme the Lord has been speaking to my heart about this month is passion.  To reach a lost and dying world more effectively is not going to take better methods or more gimmicks, but a renewed passion from the Lord that the sets our hearts on fire for Him.  When our hearts are burning for Jesus, we'll reclaim and urgency to the task of telling others Jesus saves.  We'll be reminded that our assignment is to go makes disciples and as we tell others about our Jesus, He will renew our joy and refresh our worship.  When our hearts are burning for Jesus, we'll pray with an urgency for the lost to be saved and the for God to answer in a mighty way.  When God's people were in difficult situations, they just didn't pray, they cried out unto the Lord.  Have we called out unto Him in a mighty way recently to save a lost soul, see someone healed, conquer a troublesome sin or habit.  God responds to our cries, our calling out.  We might see His hand at work so much more if we would let Him set our hearts on fire.

One

We vastly underestimate the power of one…the difference that one can make.  I was reminded today after receiving a nice card in the mail recently from a visit the visitation team I am a part of made.  The person wasn't home that night, but we left some CD's and a magazine and a note that we came by.  One visit made a difference to someone.

What would happen if…

We gave one percent more to the cause of Christ through the church to use to reach one more person for Jesus;

We gave up one snack food item each day and gave that one dollar to feed the hungry;

We asked God for victory over one area this coming year in which we struggle;

We made one visit or call or wrote one letter or email to someone we didn't see at church last week;

We woke up one minute earlier each day than the day before for one month and gave that time to study and prayer

God can use one…YOU…and me…to make a difference for the Kingdom!  Let's do that today!

Is It Necessary?

I came to a sad realization today.  I was cleaning out my closet because the rod in the closet decided to give way.  That was a disaster a couple years in the making as it gave way under the weight of clothing never worn.  As I sorted through clothing today, I realized…I am giving away more clothing than most people in many countries might ever own in their lifetime.

How does that happen?  How do you slowly and subtly become overrun by things you thought you needed at the time but found that you have not used in forever?

I don't see myself as a kind of person that needs a new pair of shoes every week or a new pair of slacks and a shirt for every occasion, but, sure enough, my poor closet rod collapsed under the weight of that which was not necessary.

That seems how our lives can get if we are not careful.  Paul admonishes us to make "…the most of our time…" (Eph 5:16).  With such precious little time, we must make the most of every moment, and to be sure that our lives don't collapse under the weight of that which is not needed.

House of Horrors Squalor

This article is a reminder, sad though it is,  that there are opportunities all around us to share the love of Jesus and be the love of Jesus if we keep our minds and hearts open for the opportunities.  This situation occurred just down the road from me.

House of Horrors Squalor Case
Shared via AddThis

It reminds me of the song by Bruce Carroll that he sang many years ago – "Elm Street"

Saturday night in plainville

saw some local people go

to the downtown corner movies

for a late night picture show

And it's 90 mindless minutes

of the best in blood and gore

They all come out laughing,

just can't wait for more.



While on the other side of

town a child 4 years of age

huddles up a weak defense

against his fathers rage

and as we spend our time and money on

Life's Moments Cheapest Thrills

In our city there's an Elm Street

where the nightmare is real.



Chorus:

Oh God, Have mercy on us please,

For the times that You've shown

the need and we refused to see

Give us all a heart like Yours that grieves

For the lost souls on Elm Street

that need to be released





Complacency's a poison taken

one drop at a time

It fools our minds into

thinking that everythings just fine

Desensitize our Spirit with

nothing left to feel

'Till we never hurt for Elm Street

where the Nightmare is real



Oh Lord You've got to send me

where theres a need to go

Put me on their street, Lord,

'cause they all need to know

There's a God who's so much bigger

than anything their going through

Oh they need to know that there's

a place where nightmares don't come true.





Oh God, Have mercy on us please,

For the times that You've shown

the need and we refused to see

Give us all a heart like Yours that grieves

For the lost souls on Elm Street

that need to be released



Oh God, Have mercy on us please,

For the times that You've shown

the need and we refused to see

Give to us a heart like Yours that grieves

For the lost souls on Elm Street

that need to be released.

Every town has an Elm Street.  May the Lord give us great wisdom and insight to see where the pain and the need may be and be the church as we seek to meet it in His name.

It’s the Relationship with Jesus

I read an article by Henry Blackaby yesterday that challenged and reminded me again that the essence of the life of a Christian, of a disciple, is our relationship with Jesus and His Lordship in our lives.  He wrote the article in response to my denomination (Southern Baptists) and our call to a "Great Commission Resurgence".  His point was, as I understood it, if you don't have the relationship with Jesus right, then evangelism and witnessing become just more religious activity that attempts to be accomplished apart from the power of God.

Jesus said "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (Jn 17:3, NKJV).  Eternal life is not just heaven, but it is knowing, fully knowing, God and Jesus.  From this relationship, everything flows.  In his article, Blackaby writes "

"'Out of the relationship with Me, you will have an enormous witness
unto Me.' If you're not doing it now just out of relationship to the
Lord, don't look for a program that would help you do what you ought to
be doing spontaneously."

As I read the book of Acts, I am reminded that the New Testament church did not have buildings and materials and programs and ministries and overhead projectors and Power Point and tracts.  Silly church, all they had was the Word of God, and prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Didn't they know that they never would be able to reach the world around them unless they had fancy promotional materials and lots of activities and loads of musicians and other things like that to draw people? 

I had a missions professor in seminary that said that if you weren't on mission while you were training to be an international missionary, you probably wouldn't be on mission once you got to the foreign mission field.  If we aren't on fire for the Lord, no program is ever going to make that happen.

It is a humbling reminder to me that I must be ever diligent in making my relationship with Jesus my first priority, for from that, everything else flows.

The link for the article is here

10 Years Since Columbine

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since the tragic school shooting at Columbine High School took place.  Too many lives lost and so many more changed forever,  pieces of innocence stolen from students for whom their biggest concern should have been about their prom date or biology test.

Remembering events like these serves as a reminder that we battle not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of this dark age, a reminder that a single moment in time can shape and mold a lifetime, some positive, some negative, a reminder that the true battle is taking place for the hearts and minds of people.

As a parent of teenagers, I am keenly aware every day that they walk into their school not knowing if they may confront a similar situation one day.  Sadly, I am aware as well that kids much younger have to confront this same uncertainty.

If we are aware that every day may be our last one, that every hug and kiss goodbye could be the last time we see our loved ones, it may give us pause enough to remember that we shouldn't sweat the small stuff, and most of that which we get bent out of shape about is small stuff.

I am glad that schools have improved their security systems and processes, but the best security systems in the world cannot prevent the inclination of an evil heart to do what it has pondered to do.

It is a reminder that when Jesus says He is the way, the truth,  the life, the resurrection, the living water, the true vine, and when He says that He offers peace and joy and hope, this is news we must share with others so Jesus can change peoples' hearts.

Do We Dare Pray This Way?

I was reading an article in the latest edition of Leadership Journal.  It quotes Jim Cymbala, Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle and author of several books.  He says:

"The number one sin of the church in America is that its pastors and leaders are not on their knees crying out to God,  'Bring us the drug-addicted, bring us the prostitutes, bring us the destitute, bring us the gang leaders, bring us those with AIDS, bring us the people nobody else wants, whom only you can heal, and let us love them in your name until they are whole.' "

Jesus ministered to difficult, messy, troubled, challenging people.  He died for the church that we, as the church, might do the same.  I must admit, I do not pray that kind of prayer as often as I should. Let's face it, for most churches, it is much easier to have "cleaned-up" people join us than to deal with the mess we find in people's lives because of sin when it comes knocking at our door needing something.  If we're honest, we were all messes at one point because of sin.  The longer we are Christians, the easier it is to forget how sin-stained our lives really were, easier to forget that we were in the same place then that those in need of the power of the blood of Christ to cleanse are in now. 

Lord, please help us never to forget that, and Lord, please give us an endless supply of grace, mercy, compassion, patience and love so that the love of Jesus may flow out of us and impact needy lives around us.