01.18.12 - Ethiopians, Leopards & Sinners
Several months ago, I was doing some preaching through the book of Jeremiah and came across a portion of scripture that I've heard quoted (at least some of it, anyway), but never really understood what it meant. As Jeremiah addressed the nation of Israel, he asked the question in 23:13: 'Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? The obvious answer to both of those questions is: NO. Just as an Ethiopian cannot change the color of their skin, the leopard is unable of getting rid of the spots. As Jeremiah ask this question, he follows it up with a simple statement that few ever give attn. to. The statement is this: '...then may ye also do good, that are accumstomed to do evil.' What does this statement mean? To paraphrase it, we could say it like this: "Is it possible for the person who is used to doing evil, able to start doing good?". The answer would have to be the same for the sinner as it would be for the Ethiopian or the leopard. The answer is: NO...it is not possible. The context of the scripture would indicate this: It's impossible for sinners to 'stop sinning' because, by nature, they are sinners! Sinners (all of us) are unable to stop living a life of sin in & of ourselves. It requires the power of God working in our lives. I guess what I find interesting about this passage, is: We live in a day where so many people (including many in the church) believe that they can somehow bring about the needed changes in their life. That is as impossible as a leopard deciding it will no longer have spots. Sadly, we see a lot of this going on in our churches. People who make temporary changes in their spiritual life based upon their own effort; however, they are unable to maintain the changes & the old self comes shining through somewhere down the road. My encouragement to you, as it is to myself, would be: If there's something in your life that needs to change, recognize that you can not produce that change on your own. Only through the power of God will we get true victory over sin. Take care.
06.23.11 - What Would Happen If The Pastor Quit
Over the yrs, I have read through the bible many times. As I have done this, one of portions of scripture that I have always enjoyed has been the book of Nehemiah. If you are familiar with the story, then something you know, is: Nehemiah was used to lead the nation of Israel in the rebuilding of the city wall. The key to that last statement is that I said Nehemiah was used to lead. The point is this; Nehemiah did not rebuild this wall on his own. There were many involved in this great work. While this great work was accomplished, something else the student of scripture is aware of, is the fact that not everyone rejoiced to see the wall rebuilt. There were scoffers, detractors, and outright enemies. Some of those enemies were Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. At one point, they asked Nehemiah to come to the plain of Ono. The bible says they had plans to do mischief to Nehemiah. Whenever I started paying attn. to the scripture, the response of Nehemiah has always gotten my attn. He said in 6:3 'I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you.' The implication of the statement is simple. Nehemiah suggested that if he left the building of the wall, then the work would cease. The question I have thought on different occasions is a simple question. It goes like this: 'Was Nehemiah arrogant in assuming the work would cease without his leadership, or, was he aware of human tendency? The tendency that goes like this: When a leader is not present, people often tend to stop the good work they were engaged in. I think if we look at how God used Nehemiah, we'd be hard pressed to prove he was arrogant. Therefore; the latter assumption must be true...that good people have a tendency to stop good works when there is a void in leadership. That truth brings me to this question: 'What would happen to the spiritual work you are engaged in if there was a void of spiritual leadership in your life?'. Would the work continue on as it should, or, would it cease. I trust we recognize that the work of the Lord should not hinge on the leadership of a man, but all too often, that is what we see in our churches. If you've taken the time to read this entry, ask yourself how much you do in the service of the Lord without the prompting of someone else in your life. We may be surprised to realize how important a leader is in our life. We may have to admit that if we didn't have someone encouraging us to be involved in the work, we might just quit. Just a thought. Have a great day.
03.30.11 - How Valuable Is This?
For the person who has been in church any amount of time, a name they are familiar with is that of Solomon. For those who know a little about this man, they know he served as the king of Israel for 40 yrs. They also know that he was a man who had great wisdom, along with great wealth. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes that if he saw something and wanted it, he got it. He kept nothing from himself. Solomon certainly lived in a 'financial state of mind' that is different than most folks today. That said, in Proverbs 22, Solomon made this statement: 'A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches...'. Obviously, he did not condemn the idea of having riches, but he made this point clear: If a person was ever forced to choose between riches or an honorable reputation/testimony; the honorable testimony is of much greater value than the wealth of this world. How could he say such a thing? Well, he certainly knew what it meant to have wealth and he knew how empty that could leave a person. At this stage of his life, he was much more mindful of how people perceived him as a person, rather than the 'things' he possessed. What's interesting about Solomon's perspective (in my opinion) is: most people completely disagree with Solomon and they prove it by how they govern their lives. A persons desire for money, possessions, hobbies, and toys seems to control their actions, regardless of what it does to their testimony...even as a professed believer. I wish more people who identify with the name of Christ gave as much time and effort to their testimony as they give to the acquiring of more wealth. If Christians put as much effort into their Christian life as they do the carnal things of this world...this world would be a much different place to live. God bless.
11.17.10 - Called to be a Christian...even during the holidays.
Last Wednesday night, I preached a simple message from the book of Galatians on the works of the flesh in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit. I explained that, among other things, the works of the flesh consist of anger, strife, jealousy, contention, etc. while the fruit of the Spirit consist of things such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. In light of this truth, I tried to remind our people that we who are called to be led by the Spirit are not given a seasonal exemption What did I mean? I meant this: the holidays are crazy with schedules and programs...parties and meals. During all the rush, it is easy to become impatient...unkind...selfish...hateful. We know these things to be wrong, yet, it seems as though some people excuse it when the stress of the holidays are upon them. Remember- that lady at Wal-Mart may be rude and obnoxious, but you are still called to be kind and loving. Your kids may not be at the Christmas dinner on time, but you are still called to be patient and sweet. The traffic may get ridiculous, but we're not allowed to scream at people. (Even if our kids are not in the car with us) You get the point. Everything that God would call us to be in the middle of March or April, we are called to be in November and December. I hope we allow ourselves to be Spirit filled believers as we make our way through the holiday season. If we allow this, our holidays will go so much better than usual. I hope you have a Blessed Thanksgiving...a Merry Christmas...and a Happy New Year.
7.07.10 - Getting where I'm headed.
Having lived in the panhandle of Texas now for almost 10 yrs, there are a few driving lessons that I have learned, unintentionally...it just happened. What I have learned is: If you leave my house and head north, you will eventually find yourself in a town called Perryton. Travel south and your future destination is a town called McClean. Head west and you find the little town of White Deer. Head east and you are in Miami (Mi-am-uh). Humanly speaking, the road to Perryton will never get me to McClean and the road to White Deer will never get me to Miami. To suggest that it will would be ridiculous. All of these roads have ultimate destinations that will not be avoided and to act as though there are other options available is absurd. Understanding this simplistic way of thinking, I'm reminded of two 'roads' that Christ spoke of in Matthew 7. One was a strait gate; the other a wide one. Christ made it clear that the strait gate led to life...abundant life. A life of joy and gladness...a life without regrets. The wide gate/road leads to destruction...death. A life robbed of joy and gladness...a life filled with regrets. Does this mean that the strait gait never has obstacles and challenges while the wide gait is filled with nothing but pain and misery? Of course not. Every life has a mixture of many experiences and emotions. However, Christ made it clear that both of these roads have ultimate destinations and for a person to act as though either road has a different destination other than what Christ said is ridiculous. Obedience eventuall leads to life and disobedience eventually leads to death. To put in terms that this transplant Pampan can understand, I could say it like this: 'Spiritually speaking, we all get where we're headed.' This is what amazes me after almost 10 yrs of pastoring: The number of people who are still trying to argue this fact after there have been millions; if not billions of people who have proven the words of Christ to be true. As I write this, I guess what is on my mind is: What road am I on? What road are you on? Where am I headed because of the road I have chosen? If I don't like where I'm headed, then what do I need to do? Turn around and get back on the right road. Think about it. It could save you a lot of pain in your future.
04.06.10 - 'Unwilling to pay the price'
As I start this entry, I want to begin by saying that my children have enjoyed having a pet dog for the last seven years. That disclaimer out of the way, I want to share a quick story with you. Two Saturdays ago, we were at the church for an outreach campaign we were doing when a stray dog made its way to one of the doors of the church. My kids were immediately attached to it and asked if they could keep it. Because there was a pink collar on the dog, it was obvious it had an owner and I told them we needed to take it to the pound. If no one claimed the dog; we would keep it. Their eyes lit up with genuine excitement. Ten days passed and they kept asking about the dog, so, I took my son with me to the pound to see if she was still there. As we walked to the cage where the dogs were being held, he said with excitement: 'Look dad...there she is!' I have to admit, I was excited on their behalf. Upon learning that 'Peaches' was still there (they had already named her), we went inside and asked what was required to adopt the dog. The man informed us it would cost $95.00. Guess what- I grew up having nothing but free dogs and I wasn't about to spend $95.00 on a dog. I turned to my son who still has Christmas and birthday money and asked if the dog was worth $95.00. It was then that he told me Peaches wasn't worth it and we left. Immediately, I could see a change in my son's countenance. He was sad and disappointed. I told him more than once; all he had to do was be willing to pay the price and they could have the dog. He kept saying she wasn't worth that much money. Later, he was still so bothered by it, he couldn't help but shed a few tears. It was a tough lesson for him and his youngest sister to learn: Sometimes, if you want something, you have to be willing to pay the price.
Having said that, I can't help but think about so many 'Christians' who go through their Christian lives wanting so much more than what they currently have. They want joy, peace, contentment, satisfaction, etc. They are tired of the frustrated life they are living. The only problem is; it's going to cost them something. They will have to die to their own will and they must submit themselves to Gods will. They must take up their cross and follow him. They must seek His kingdom first...not theirs. It's at this point that I have watched people shed tears, become emotional; yet, they walk away. Why? Because it's going to 'cost' them too much and it's just not worth it to them. The sad thing is: They fail to see how great life would be if they would 'pay the price.' I just wonder how many believers could enjoy such a better quality of life if they would just be willing to pay the price. In the end, it's not as though it cost them anything. In fact, they are the ones who get to reap all the benefits and blessings from it. Again...this is just my perspective on things. :) Have a great day.
1.12.10 - I believe, help thou mine unbelief...
For the last couple of months, I've been tracking the progress of our church and I have been amazed at how God has chosen to bless. He has done things in our church that I have dreamed of, but never really believed it to be possible. I often find myself in a similar position as the man in Mark 9. Here was a man who had a son possessed of a devil. This man came to the Lord and asked him to deliver his son from this situation. The Lord said it was possible; the only 'catch' was: the man had to believe it was possible. As the father stood there, it says in vs. 24 that he cried out and said: 'Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.' Here was a man who knew he should believe in the power of God; yet, he was struggling to 'REALLY' believe that God could work. Again, I find myself in that position more times than I care to admit. 2009 was a great year and I have found myself wondering how 2010 could be any better. I keep waiting for the bottom to fall out...for the bad news to come; whatever 'it' may be. It's sometimes referred to as a realistic approach to life. It could also be described as a life of no faith. The last I checked, my bible said it is impossible to please God without faith. I'm not preaching at anyone here, I'm just saying...If you are anything like me, you need to have a greater measure of faith that God can and will do amazing things in our lives if we will just believe him for it. This is not a prosperity gospel...this is not a name it and claim it approach to living. It's just a reality that our lack of faith is often what keeps God from doing greater things in our life. Think about it. Ask the Lord if you (like me) need to have your faith increased. If you do, ask him to help you in the midst of your unbelief.