Tuesday, August 17, 2010

STAYING POWER

LIFE CAN DEAL YOU SOME POWERFUL BLOWS!

Over the past few weeks, whether it has been while reading the news paper, or watching the news on the internet, or getting a phone call from a member of our church, or sharing an ever-increasing litany of prayer requests with our prayer teams, I have been struck by just how bad and cruel life can be.

Floods in Pakistan. Murdered missionaries. Plane crashes. Military personnel wounded or killed. Cancer. Job loss. Foreclosures. Broken marriages. Need I go on?! It is beyond obvious that life can knock you down and then kick you in the head and leave you for dead.

As I look at the lives affected by these tragic events I notice that there are those people who seem to stand strong through the midst of it all. It's not to say that they take it like water off a duck's back, but even though they are suffering they choose to stand erect even under tremendous weight. They are quick to admit that "this hurts," but they choose not to live under regret or bitterness. They have chosen to push through, and in many cases that I have witnessed, they have remained gracious and thankful people.

I am amazed at their staying-power.

The question is: "How do they do it?" Its got to be more than just some Pollyanna world-view, that all will be "OK." It comes from deeper than just spouting some positive thinking mantra. And it surely is not found in some pill or body-wash. Where does it come from?

This coming week's sermon passage comes from Genesis 26:1-35. Last week we looked at the growing strain between the brothers Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:19-34). (#22 in "Origins: Beginning Again with God") Now we focus on Isaac and the troubles brought on by drought, hostile neighbors, poor decisions, and even wealth. Through it all we see a man who chooses to remain where God has him. We see a man with staying-power.

Not to give away the whole of the sermon (hey, then some of you wouldn't come to church), but suffice it to say, to develop staying-power we need the "three P's" of Promise, Presence, and Peace. And we will see that when we develop these in our own lives we can also use them to develop staying-power in our children, which is, as a parent, a real desire for me.

Therefore, I encourage you to spend some time in Genesis 26:1-35 and see what is needed to be a person who can stand strong, even when life knocks you down.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

WHAT'S YOUR FAITH WORTH?

WHAT'S THE PRICE OF YOUR FAITH? For Esau it was a bowl of stew. Oh sure, we may say that he really did not stop believing in God, but his actions belied deeper issues, that of being willing to sell that which was a of great worth in order to enjoy some momentary pleasure.

My sermon text for this week is Genesis 25:19-34, which actually covers quite a bit of territory. Yet, what has grabbed my pastoral eye this week is found in the final verse of the section where the writer of Genesis records, "So Esau despised his birthright." (Genesis 25:34).

I suppose many of us have "despised" our birthrights from time to time, especially that birthright granted by faith in Jesus Christ. There are times we have essentially sold out our faith because we desired, or maybe even acquired, that which would bring momentary pleasure. Sin seemed to satisfy better than the Savior.

As I have been studying this week I have been struck by how many different times this issue has come up in conversation (as at our men's weekly Bible study) or in my own conviction and even on other blogs.

One blog that I subscribe to, "Out of Ur," posted a sad, and yet interesting article by Gordon MacDonald. In the blog-post brother MacDonald deals with the question of "How do we respond when someone quits the faith?" His musings are worth the time to read and ponder. So, I encourage you to do so, and then, take a hard look at this week's sermon passage, or better yet, if you're in the area, come and join us as we look at the topic of selling our faith.

Of course, if you have any thoughts, pertaining to the topic at-hand, feel free to post a comment below.

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