Sunday, June 21, 2015
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
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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
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
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
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)
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)
Sunday, May 17, 2015
BEING A CHRISTIAN IN AMERICA carries very little cost. But it should! Considering the cost that our Lord and Savior paid for us upon the cross our commitment should be high.
This week I read a blog post from Greg Strand (Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing, for the Evangelical Free Church of America) and I was greatly convicted by what he wrote about the cost of commitment, specifically referring to the high cost involved for those who are willing to be baptized into Christ’s Church located in Asia.
Our greatest fear in getting baptized revolves around embarrassment of standing dripping wet in front of a large gathering and mumbling out some word about our belief in, and desire to, follow Jesus. Not a high cost factor, if you ask me. But think of our brothers and sisters in Asia and consider what Strand writes.
A Christian missions agency in South Asia, listed a series of questions that church leaders must ask new believers who are considering baptism. These are the seven questions asked to help determine a new convert’s readiness to follow Christ:
1. Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father?
2. Are you willing to lose your job?
3. Are you willing to go to the village and those who persecute you, forgive them, and share the love of Christ with them?
4. Are you willing to give an offering to the Lord?
5. Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny your faith?
6. Are you willing to go to prison?
7. Are you willing to die for Jesus?
“If the new convert answers yes to all of these questions, then leaders invite that person to sign on the bottom of the paper that of their own free will they have decided to follow Jesus. But here’s the risk: if a new convert signs the paper and is caught by the government, he or she will spend three years behind bars. The one who did the evangelizing faces six years in prison. If you were being baptized, would you sign? If you were the pastor, would you perform the baptism? Would you consider it a joy and privilege to do so?”
Now, that’s paying a high cost of commitment.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
THE OLDER I GET the more I am convinced that my mom (many moms for that matter) had a special relationship with the Holy Spirit. Just as He knows all about me and what I am up to at all times, so did my mom. Just as the Holy Spirit both convicts of sin and comforts the sinner, thus it was true for my mom. And just as there are times when I can feel the Holy Spirit’s presence and I can see His work in me, so it is with my mom. Not that she is in some way looking down from heaven and directing my steps, but rather her many years of work and prayers are still at work in me.
My mom was not perfect and I have not met a perfect mother yet. (Except for my wife and the mother of my children, of course. A man has to eat!) But the truth of the matter is that my mom, and many of the moms I have known and even called “mom,” were always at the work of seeking to ensure perfection in their children and their homes. Sure, they failed often, (they are not the Holy Spirit in the flesh) but they often sought to give their best even at great cost to themselves.
Therefore, on this hallmark of a day called Mother’s Day, I would like to offer this blessing to all the moms and those who stand in the place of moms to kids in need of a mother’s love:
Gracious Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
I beseech that You would bless the mothers of this world
as they seek to care for those You have entrusted to them.
May You grant them;
wisdom as they guide,
strength as they serve,
compassion as they care,
and courage as they protect their children.
May they know Your power, peace, protection,
and most of all, Your great love.