Here I Am

If you weren’t able to make it to the Missions Conference this week, you missed a blessing and a challenge. We had the privilege this week of having 5 missionary families with us that have an amazing passion for sharing the love of Christ with the people of Turkey, Peru, Greece, East Asia and Mexico. It gave me goose bumps to hear Kat Compton talk about being homesick for Peru and her & Elmo’s desire to get to Lima to share Jesus Christ with the 9 million people who live there. It made me glad to be a part of Bible Baptist Church when I heard Cristina & James Sinde talk about how welcome they felt.

As I thought about these missionary families, I thought about each of you and even as I write this, I’ve got those goose bumps again because I know each of you has that same passion for sharing Jesus with people that these missionaries have. Our mission field might is Mexico, Peru, East Asia, Greece, Turkey, DeQuincy and so many other places. As we invite people we know to church, we are carrying out the Great Commission. As we make our commitment to Faith Promise for the next year, we are expanding the field we are reaching. As we commit to give to missions we are a part of the work that the Lillys, Comptons, Williams, Sindes, Mortons and many others, we are their mission partner. We don’t have to get on a plane, a boat, a train, a hot air balloon, a blimp or other wacky form of transportation and go to some far off corner of the Earth to be faithful to God’s command to go and preach the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the world.

We should pray daily for our missionaries, for the people they are trying to reach and for ourselves, that we will be faithful to give and encourage these families. In the coming weeks, I’m hoping to use this space once a week or so to spotlight a missionary family and hope you will take the time not only to pray for them but also to send them a note or email that will encourage them. My prayer is that missions will become an important part of who we are and our relationship with Christ. That we will have a passion for sharing the Gospel throughout the world. That missions won’t just be something we talk about but something we are engaged in. That when the call to help with missions goes our, we will respond, Here I am God, use me.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NLT


Why Won’t We Listen

At some point in your life as a parent, you will ask your child/children, “Why won’t you listen to me?” or “Why aren’t you listening to me?”, it happens, they choose not to listen. For whatever reason, our children will choose not to listen to us. Just as we, for whatever reason, choose not to listen to our parents and as children of God, choose not to listen to our Heavenly Father.

This week our lesson focuses on our inability to be obedient to a Holy and Just God. He has given us His perfect and complete Word, filled with promises and we are quick to dismiss it. From the beginning of time, in the Garden of Eden, mankind has chosen to ignore God’s instructions. God says don’t eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and they ate. God says don’t touch the Ark of the Covenant and someone just had to touch it and they died. God says don’t make any idols and the children of Israel make a calf of gold, why?!? God says come to me and I’ll give you rest and we’re so busy running, we run right past Him. So we return to the question of why.

Well, I have an answer, but you’re probably not gonna like it. Adam and Eve got tricked, plan and simple, the devil pulled on over on them and they disobeyed God. As for us, we do it because of our sin nature, even though we have the Holy Spirit in us, we still sin, we still fail, but we are covered by the blood of Jesus. When God looks at us, even when we’ve sinned, He doesn’t see our failure or short-coming, He sees the redeeming blood of Jesus.

It is our responsibility as children of God to be on guard against the devil and his tricks and listen to the Word of God. To make it a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We should make the choice to listen to God and be obedient to His Word

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:11-13 NKJV

What Did I Just Do?

Have you ever had one of those moments, where you did something and after you did it, you stopped and asked yourself, “What did I just do?” or “Why did I do that?”. Even as children of God, we have times where our sin nature takes over and we sin. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, we know what we ought to do and we don’t do it and we know what we shouldn’t do and do it anyway. It can be frustrating, embarrassing and discouraging; you might even feel unworthy of your relationship with God because of what you’d done.

The truth is, we aren’t worthy of our relationship with God. There is nothing we can do to deserve this relationship, nothing that will make us worthy, but the best news is our relationship with God isn’t dependent on anything we do. It is a relationship initiated by God through the calling of the Holy Spirit, made possible through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

We aren’t done yet, there is more good news! Our failures, our short-comings, our “what did I just do” moments, they don’t define who we are with God. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we become a child of God, a joint heir with Jesus Christ and that is who we are with God; one of His children. Consider if you would your own child/children, despite what they may or may not do, it doesn’t change the fact they are your child. The same is true with God, once we become His child, that’s a forever relationship because He chose to make it a forever relationship. The promise of God is nothing can separate us from His love. We are now defined by what Jesus did at Calvary. We should live as a child of the King, dependent upon God, filled with the Holy Spirit, covered by the atoning blood of Jesus!

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8

Great Expectations

Expectations. Have you ever started a new job and spent the first day (or several) and wandered aimlessly because you didn’t know what to do? Or volunteered for something and just stood around because you weren’t sure how you were supposed to pitch in? Without expectations, we’re lost; unsure where to go or what to do, we need that direction; we were designed for it.

Fortunately for us, God knew of our need for direction and He filled His word with expectations. Whether it is our relationship with God, with people or how we live our life with need direction. Unfortunately, many times we live like a man on trip; we have a map, we have an idea of where we’re going but somewhere we miss a turn or make a wrong turn and we refuse to stop and ask for directions. Our pride gets in the way and we don’t want to admit we don’t know or made a mistake. Pride can destroy us, it ruins marriages, friendships, costs people jobs, a lifetime of work and it is not worth it. Stop and ask for help, it is not a sign of weakness, it is a indication of some sense, some wisdom.

When you aren’t sure, seek God’s direction. Before you start seek God’s direction. There is no reason to wander when you have the road map for a successful, meaningful life at your disposal. It will do wonders for filling that place within you that cries for direction and knowing what’s expected.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

Celebrate Uniqueness

One of the cool things about the Bible is there are approximately 40 different writers of 66 books over 1600 years and yet there is one Author, God, who allowed each writer to inject their own personalities into their writing. While God inspired the writers, they were not mere robots writing something that was dictated to them, they were able to write in their own style. Consider if you would the 4 Gospels; each tells the story of Christ’s life on earth, but each in a way unique to the writer. We’ll discuss why this was Sunday morning.

Just as God allowed each writer to maintain their own sense of style in writing, God allows us to keep our unique identities as we serve Him. While God does expect our life to be such that it brings Him honor, He doesn’t expect us to be ‘cookie-cutter’ children of God. We don’t have to give up all of who we are to serve God. God created us as unique beings and He wants us to hold on to those things that set us apart and USE that uniqueness to serve Him. Why? Because people are different and our uniqueness will allow us to reach people that others could not.

So many people are afraid to give their life to Christ because of what they’ll have to give up. Somehow, people have gotten the idea that to be a child of God is to give up everything that resembles fun. Where this idea came from, I have no idea. Now don’t get me wrong, there will be things we have to change and give up, but fun is not on the list. Thou shalt not have fun is nowhere in the Bible. Neither is thou shalt check your personality at the door, or you gotta look like you just lost your best friend to be ‘spiritual’. Its just not there, regardless of the translation you read from. In fact just the opposite is true, our new life in Christ is filled with joy and excitement because it is lived with a relationship with the Creator, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

I encourage you to continue to be yourself, use your uniqueness to glorify God so others might see that they can still be themselves after they accept Christ. Become a tool God can use to debunk the myth that a life with Him is dull, boring and just not that much fun.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” 1 Peter 2:9

Lessons From A Bookcase

I like to read, and before the Kindle, iPad, Nook or whatever other type of tablet one might use, that meant I had a large number of books. Needless to say, I needed a place to store these books, so I set out to build a bookcase. No this wasn’t a go to the lumberyard and buy sheets of plywood, screws, paint or stain type project, but rather a go to Wal-Mart and buy a bookcase in a box. I got home with my new ‘furniture’ and proceeded to assemble my new bookshelf. I got the required phillips screwdriver and went to work. Now I’ll admit when I finished, well past the 15 minutes the box said it would take to assemble this bookcase, what I had didn’t look exactly like the picture on the box; but when’s the last time you went to McDonalds and got a Big Mac that looked like the one on the tv commercial?

Not only did my bookcase not look like the one on the box, but I had a pile of extra parts; screws, nails, a board and I’d put one end together upside down. I began to put my books on my new bookcase and the more books I put on the shelves, the more the whole thing leaned. I ended up putting books on the floor next to the bookcase to keep it from leaning and falling over. I shared my disappointment about my bookcase with a co-worker who asked if I’d followed the instructions that came in the box, which I hadn’t because seriously, how hard could it be to put together a bookcase? Well, apparently harder than it seems.

I’m sure I’m not the only person that has ignored directions, thinking, how hard can this be only to end up with a disaster on my hands. Whether its building a bookcase, putting together our children’s Christmas gifts, going on a trip, we’ve all ignored the directions provided. But why do we do that? And even more, why do we ignore the directions God has given us for living our life? As we discussed yesterday, the Bible centers around Jesus, pointing us to the Cross and our need of a Savior and it also points us to how we ought to live so we bring honor and glory to Him. Everything we need to know about living a Godly life is found within the pages of the Bible if only we’ll follow the instructions. So rather than going it alone and living a life that leans and needs to be propped up, spend time in God’s Word, apply the truths within it and we can live the life God designed us to live.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

What Do You See

Most people when they look at an old tire for a semi-truck or trailer see trash, an old worn out tire with no value. To me as a salesman of truck tires, when I see those old worn out tires, I see something of value, something I can use. Now you’re probably asking how that old tire could be worth anything, all the tread is gone and it is too big for a tire swing. In its current condition, I can’t use it, but it has value. I can take that old tire, send it off to a retread plant where they will put new tread on it and send it back as a perfectly usable and sell-able tire. Now there is certainly more to the process than what I wrote about, but basically the old worthless tire has new life.

These old tires are representative of our lives. Some people may look at our life or someone else’s life and think it isn’t worth much, but when God looks at us, He sees something of incredible worth. Something so valuable He was willing to offer His Son, Jesus Christ, to purchase it. Think about that, as a parent have you ever found anything that you wanted so badly, that was of such value that you’d give up one of your children? Of course not, but that’s how important having a relationship with us is to God. And He takes this life and He makes it something new, something great, something of significant worth. He takes what was dead and gives it new life! When God looks at us, with all our sin, our failures, our shortcomings, our quirks, He sees something He can us.

Men, take time this coming week to show your wife that you love her & that she has value to you. Take her to her favorite restaurant, even if you don’t like the food there; cook her dinner, bring her flowers (there’s usually a cooler of in-expensive ones at Wal-Mart or Kroger), take her to Burger King for a 50 cent ice cream cone, spoil her a little. It doesn’t have to be huge, just something to show her she matters, that you care and that she’s important to you. Then make a habit of doing these kinda things.

We have value to God and He went to extraordinary means to show this. His desire is for us to have a growing, maturing relationship with Him.

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8