Sunday, July 12, 2015

TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN

I’M TRULY AMAZED! I’ve just discovered that I’m in the top .08% when it comes to my household income!  That makes me the 4,516,051st richest person in the world!  Who would have guessed? Now, it must also be noted that part of my household income also includes what my wife brings in through her business, still, I am a little overwhelmed . . . but truthfully, sadly so.

According to my salary and benefits I make about $50.00 an hour, while the average worker in Zimbabwe makes $0.53! I know that it most likely costs less to live in Africa and there isn’t that much to buy, but I can’t  help feeling guilty about my wealth versus the wealth of those who live in 2/3rds of the world.

As I have been thinking the past few weeks about poverty in the world and its attendant inequities, my mind has been drawn to Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 12:48, “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Many of us will say, “Well, I give my 10% in the offering. And I even give a little more when there’s a special offering, that’s what the Lord requires.” But it seems to me that Jesus is always calling His followers to go above and beyond, just like He did for us! According to Jesus’ words if we have been entrusted with much, then I must be ready to give much.  This giving comes in the form of monetary gifts, but also in gifts of compassionate service to those with less.  The one with the strong back helps the one with the weak. The one with knowledge help the one seeking knowledge. The one with a car gives a rise to the one without.

To put it another way, “We have been blessed to be a blessing.”

By the way if you want to see where you stand among the wealthy in the world, point your browser to: http://www.globalrichlist.com/

Sunday, July 05, 2015

POOR PLANNING

I LOVE TO WALK DOWN PACIFIC AVENUE, except for one thing, the panhandlers. It’s not that I am against their place there, or even their asking for assistance, it’s that I feel guilty for not being able to help all of them, or to take the time to get to know them. I guess I could say that I am overwhelmed by the problem.

There are so many poor. I can understand the Lord Jesus’ words, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. (Mark 14:7) There’s another point worth considering as well and that is to define “poor.” There are many poor in Santa Cruz, and not all of them panhandle. We have poor in our valley, though they may not always be seen. And then there are the poor of the world.

Is poor not having a place to live? Is it not having enough food for your family? Is it not having the right clothing so you can go to school, or to have a good job? Is being poor not being able to go a doctor? Is being poor not having an adequate and clean water supply?  Yes, to all of these and so much more.  The problem is overwhelming and there are no easy answers, and there are quite a few bad ones.

What is the answer? I don’t have the answer to the problem of poverty in our community, country or our world, but I do have a plan to get us headed in the right direction and it means going back to Mark 14:7.

The plan starts with the end of the verse, “But you will not always have me.” We must start our work with the poor with Jesus. Before we spend time with getting to know the poor, we need to get to know Jesus. It is by His heart, His wisdom, and His power that we will be able to effectively help those in need.

So, here’s the plan: Spend time with the Master and then minister to the least of these. (Matthew 25:35-46)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

BEING ALONE

THE TRUTH IS I LIKE TRAVELING ALONE. I enjoy flying alone. I enjoy being in a rental car alone. I enjoy having a hotel room all to myself, and I don’t even mind eating alone.  I guess you could call me a loner, or in the parlance of the psychological world, an introvert.

All the above is true, except for one exception. I love having Linda with me! When I travel to seminars and conferences I miss being able to turn around and talk with Linda; to point out something I see along the way, or to share something I just learned.  Yes, I am a loner who doesn’t always like to be alone.  It’s great to have a good traveling partner. One that is Okay with my introverted, not always wanting to go and do something with someone, personality.

The reality is, I don’t like being separated from my wife. I need to have the one who loves me and the one I love, close at hand.  We don’t even have to be in conversation, it is just enough knowing that she is near.

This week at VBS we talked about “God’s Crazy Love,” and as part of our activity with the kids we learned Romans 8:38-39 (complete with hand motions.) The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Church,

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This portion of God’s Word is an important reminder that wherever we may be, or wherever we may go, or whatever may happen to us, there is nothing that can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

And that’s a truth that even an introverted loner can live with and say, “AMEN!”

Sunday, June 14, 2015

GOD'S CRAZY LOVE!

Logo Design by Jordan Kay, All Rights Reserved
CHECK THIS OUT, GOD CHOSE TO LOVE US! He didn’t wait for us to get good. He didn’t require us to pay some sort of ransom. Nor did He make us grovel in the dirt of the earth begging for a slight bit of His mercy. None of those things were required, rather as the Apostle Paul tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He loved us and demonstrated that love not through some mushy sentimentality of a Hallmark card, but through the precious, unfathomable, costly and atoning death of His Son, Jesus, the Messiah.

If all this sounds a little crazy well it is! Crazy might not be the best theological term to use, but let’s face it, that kind of demonstration of life-saving love is way beyond normal. It’s a love that is both deep and wide. It is a love that is compassionate and sacrificial. It is a love that is beyond searching out and yet is available to all who will seek it out.  It’s crazy love!

It is this Crazy Love of God that we are going to celebrate with over 230 kids from our community in that great and fun-filled week we call Vacation Bible School. This year, as in years past, we desire to reach out to the kids that enter our doors with the love and grace of our Lord Jesus. Through great music, crafts, games, drama, snacks and mission activity we seek to help each child encounter the Crazy Love of God.

I invite you to get a little crazy with me for a moment and imagine the impact that could be made in the lives of kids, their families and in our entire community if we saw 100’s of kids receive and act upon God’s Crazy Love!


What is needed to make that a reality? Your prayers!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

GOD BOXES

YOU CANNOT PUT GOD IN A BOX, if you try to you will limit your experience of the greatness of the character of God. Please note I said, you will limit, not that God is limited by the box in which you try to place Him. The boxes we try to place God into can come in all shapes and sizes, but they will all limit our experience of who God truly is.

Now, I must give this one little caveat, that is even if we work very diligently to not put God into any box whatsoever, we will still never grasp the depth and breadth of the sovereign, eternal creator of all that is and ever will be. Our minds are just too small to take Him all in, and in reality that is a good thing, for who wants a God who is limited by our understanding of Him? Surely not I.

Though we should not place God in a box there are boxes that God places us in so that we can learn of His power, love, forgiveness, compassion, healing, presence and peace. These boxes, as you can imagine, can seem restricting, confining, uncomfortable and down-right not enjoyable. But here is what I have learned; it is in those places of feeling unloved that we can best experience the love of God. It is those places of restriction that we can best know His freedom. It is in the box of loneliness that we can know His presence. And, when we find ourselves in the box with the lid taped shut and dwelling in the darkness, it is there we can know best the One who is the Light of the world.

Today if you find yourself stuck in a box, rather than wearing yourself out trying to kick and claw your way out of the box, rest in it.  God, the eternal One, is there in the box with you. He is ready to sooth you with His loving presence and to give you His peace.


Receive today the gift of your box. It might be one of God’s greatest gifts He has for you, for in it you will meet Him.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

NOT WHAT I PLANNED!

THIS WEEK LINDA AND I WILL CELEBRATE thirty-eight years of marriage, and to be honest with you, it’s not at all what I thought it would be!  Whoa! Wait a minute, put down the rocks! Let me explain.

When I saw my beautiful bride walking down that long aisle at Garden Grove Community Church on June 3, 1977, I remember thinking to myself, “What is this I am getting into?”  It wasn’t a question of doubt; I REALLY wanted to be married to Linda! It wasn’t a question of fear; I knew this would be a great adventure! It was more a question of how am I going to be the husband that Linda deserves and what is this thing called marriage all about?

As the title describes marriage is not what I had planned, it’s not that it’s bad, it’s the fact that I had nothing planned.  I was just in love. I knew that Linda was the one for me. And I was pretty sure she felt the same way toward me. I didn’t really know what was next, and I could have never planned or guessed, or even imagined the great life God had planned for us.

Moving, pastoring, schooling, children, grand-children, ups and downs, joys and sorrows, great memories and a couple we’d like to forget. Yes, I can most definitely say, “It’s not what I had planned,” even if I had been smart enough 38 years ago to plan something.

You know, I’m OK with that.  I’m OK with what God set before us. Of course, what makes it all OK is that God has granted me a wonderful gift in the person of Linda Joann Kay. If one is to take a journey whose steps are not always planned, a man could not ask for a better journey partner, wife and friend. For this I am thankful!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

STICKS AND STONES

SO GOES THE LIE: “Sticks and Stones can Break My Bones, but Words Can Never Hurt Me.”  In reality, the little ditty should be, “Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones and Words can Really Kill Me . . . over and over and over!”

Let’s be honest, the hurtful things that people say to us, even in jest, can stick with us long after they first passed through our ears and penetrated our hearts. In fact, some of those words can last a lifetime. The bruises and breaks that come from sticks and stones may last awhile, but the cutting knives of hurtful words can pierce the soul leaving scars which forever mark us. Yes, we can learn to live with these scars, but they seem to be there as a constant reminder.

Words are powerful. They can hurt. They can heal. Therefore, let us choose wisely how we will speak to each other.  Consider God’s Word to each of us as we seek to live in community.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

And finally,


Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. . . . Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:1-2, 18-20)