Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blessed Rest-7/26/2012

"The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves." Mark 6:30-32

Beloved, not only did the Lord rest from his labors from time to time (being fully human as well as fully God), he also advocated that his followers do so as well. It is wise to take time to rest, reflect and spiritually recharge.

For the next week and a half or so, my wife Michelle, my daughter Paris and I will enjoy a well needed vacation and rest from our labors. In fact we will be joining several families from our fellowship on what we have come to call the St. Louis Area Family Gospel Cruise (so in keeping with the scripture, we actually will be going away on a boat). We look forward to this time of fun, fellowship and family and solicit your prayers for our safe travel, stay and return.

My constant encouragement to you is to stay in your word and seek the face of the Lord daily through prayer and study. Blessings to all who read these words. I look forward to renewed sharing with you soon.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


P.S. If you still need a daily dose of the Minister's Meditation, visit

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Traditionally Speaking-724/2012

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." 2 Thess 2:15

"Tradition" can be a dirty word in the church today. As we contend with one another about the way things ought to be done, the word "tradition" comes up all of the time. The argument is about what the bible says vs. what we have fallen into the habit of doing. There are times that we have done something a certain way for so long that it rises, in the mind of some, to the level of scriptural authority. In fact, a visitor who was looking for a new church home recently told me that he could not continue to worship with us because we have a separate children's worship service and that this was against what the bible says. Of course the bible doesn't address this topic or anything like it anywhere, but because this brother was unaccustomed to such a practice, it put us on the outside of what he thought was right. It put us outside of tradition.

Beloved, the only tradition that matters is that of the apostle's teaching. The bible is clear in its central and fundamental messaging. We must hold to the gospel tradition that involves the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and savior, Jesus. We must love God with all of our hearts, souls and minds and we must love others as ourselves. Naturally, this list could be considerably lengthened, but everything on that list would come back to these three statements. So the message does not change but the methodology does. The scriptures were written thousands of years ago when there was no internet, automobile, printing press, cameras, church buildings, PA systems and the like, yet we use these things to advance the message.

Let us be sure that we do not invalidate the word of God by human tradition which establish and hand down; for we often do many things such as that, Mark 7:13.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, July 23, 2012

Answering the Call-7/23/2012

"Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.'" Acts 2:38-39

If someone were to ask, "Are you saved?", what would you say? If someone were to ask, "How do you become saved?", how would you respond? If someone were to ask, "How can I be saved?", what would you do?

Unfortunately, questions like this are far too rare. Most Christians do not experience having people just walk up to them and ask these questions. Perhaps the world does not see the things in us that would draw them to the God that we serve. Nevertheless, it was Jesus who instructed us to go to all nations and make disciples of them. He reiterated this in his last recorded statement to his followers when he said, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be my witness both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even the remotest part of the earth" Acts 1:8. It was subsequent to the fulfillment of this promise that the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon Jesus' disciples and they immediately began to serve as his witness. During the very first gospel sermon, the people asked, "Brethren, what shall we do?"

Beloved we must not only maintain readiness to answer such a question, but to initiate the conversation. Events such as the movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado on July 20th prove that we live in a sin sick world and that there are people in serious need of God's love. Would this event be part of our history if someone had shared with the man who committed this heinous act? There is no sure way to say, but it might have. What about the victims? Could they have used the opportunity to hear the gospel of the Lord? The survivors surely can.

We are here for a purpose, just as those are who shared with us. Let us do what we were created to do.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, July 20, 2012

Role Model-7/20/2012

"The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked." 1 John 2:6

Over the past couple of days I have been having a friendly conversation with an acquaintance about role models. He tends to give me a hard time about two of my favorite sports teams (the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Cowboys) and I do the same to him about the Lakers and the Rams. Recently one of the Cowboys was accused of an egregious act of violence against his own mother, to which my buddy offered,
"That's some role model you've got there."

This put me in mind of all of the people to whom we look up. Athletes, entertainers, titans in business and other individuals of wealth, power, prestige and notoriety tend to grab and hold our attention prompting many of us to pursue their particular path. Why? Is it our desire to achieve what they have gained? What about the ways they made those gains?  Perhaps you have heard of the very famous television contest (and its many clones and derivatives) that are designed to give talented individuals the opportunity to become  role models as many of their own role models have done. A person can literally become an American idol.  Having followed others are we that anxious to attract followers of our own?
Beloved, I tend to agree with the stance Charles Barkley took in a well crafted 2007 advertising campaign. He, as an athlete said, "I am not a role model." He goes on to say, "Because I can dunk a basketball does not mean I should raise your kids." While there are those in all walks of life who display admirable traits and accomplish laudable deeds, every human being is flawed and fallible. The one person who ever lived that is worthy of the ultimate role model status and label for EVERYONE is Jesus. And what is it to have a role model but to follow in his footsteps? If you are a Christian, by definition Jesus is your role model. And if he is your role model, you ought to, to the very best of your ability, do what he did.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Help For Your Unbelief-7/19/2012 (rp)

"Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Jesus' disciples had just failed at casting a demon that caused convulsions out of a young boy when the desperate father came to the Lord and asked him to do something if he could. Jesus replied that "all things are possible to him who believes."

Having faith in anything we cannot see with our own eyes and touch with our own hands can sometimes be difficult. As long as we are clothed in flesh, we will always be subject to its limitations. Matters of the Spirit do not come naturally to us, yet as a moth to a guiding light, we are drawn to them.

We seek the Lord in all of his glory, wisdom, benevolence and love while sometimes doubting his very existence somewhere within ourselves. We sometimes think, "After all, it is possible that he exist(ed) but are all the things recorded about him literal and true? Can I really look forward to a heaven where I will see him or will we just cease to exist?"

If these thoughts sometimes float through your mind, don't be too hard on yourself. John the Baptist was once described by Jesus as the greatest man that ever lived. Consider this: "Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" Matt 11:2-3. John had seen with his own eyes, touched with his own hands, saw the Spirit descend on him like a dove, heard the voice of God acknowledge and identify him and he still had questions!

Surely if Christ's forerunner needed reassurance, we ourselves might have the same issue. In response, the Lord sent word back to him that was not a rebuke, but an assurance. He told John's followers to tell him what the Lord had been seen doing, not what he said.

Beloved, should your faith ever falter, consider the things the Lord has done in your life. Remember the prayers that have been answered. Remember the healing you have experienced. Consider the meals you have never missed and the children that make your heart swell. Most of all, remember the quiet times when it was just you and him. Remember what that communion and that peace felt like. It is still there. Always there. He is help for your unbelief.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, July 16, 2012

Tear the Roof Off-7/16/2012 (rp)

"Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying." Mark 2:4

Human beings are amazingly resourceful and resilient. There are ways found to do just about anything. We investigate, analyze, solve, plan, execute and evaluate. Most every problem that faces us is eventually solved. We then pass along the solution to others and set ourselves to tackle the next obstacle.

As Jesus was in a home sharing wisdom and knowledge, a few friends desired to see him in order to obtain healing for one of their number who was afflicted with a palsy. He was unable to get himself to Jesus. When they arrived and could not gain entrance because of the crowd, they put their heads together and found a way to get to the Lord.

Beloved, we should all use the resourcefulness that God gave us to get to Him. It was all to easy for humankind to leave Him. From that very time He has been making ways for us to be returned, reconciled and reunited. Having been advised that there is a way, we must overcome all obstacles to get to Him. We find ways to accomplish so many things that do not contribute to our salvation. Why not do similarly for that which does?

It also seen in this passage that there was an effort to deliver someone who could not deliver himself. The Christian must be willing to overcome obstacles to getting others to Christ as well. Once we have been saved, it becomes a priority to conduct others to salvation as well. Through their own circumstances, they may be hindered from seeking and gaining him on their own...perhaps as some of us may have been.

Let us tear the roof off if we must, but let nothing stand between us, our duty and our Lord.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, July 13, 2012

Take a Break-7/13/2012

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Matt 11:28

Beloved, do you ever just get tired? Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Perhaps what is most overwhelming is when we find ourselves out of position with God. We know what it is to be and do right, but we sometimes find that we have slipped into an area that the light does not touch. This can generate a trapped feeling and the struggle between good and bad and right and wrong can be burdensome.

In times like these, we need to remember who we are and whose we are. We are reminded in scripture that, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [sin]" Gal 6:1. Further the Hebrew writer advised, "let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" Heb 12:1. We need not carry guilt and sin burdens alone. Jesus lovingly and compassionately offers to take those spiritually heavy things away and replace them with belonging. He promises rest.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can You Hear Him Now?-7/12/2012

"When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice." John 10:4

It is doubtful that many of us grew up in a farm environment. It is even less likely that if you were raised on a farm that you had sheep. Nevertheless, domestic animals have a number of similarities to people. They depend upon someone for food, shelter and care. They know the difference between the suppliers of their needs and those who are not. Perhaps most interesting of all is that they respond to the voice of their provider and follow its direction.

These things can be seen among humans as well. From the moment of birth, we coo over our babies in an effort to express love and to build relationships. As they grow and become mobile, we teach them to respond to our voices and our direction by calling to them. We also teach them to recognize the difference between ourselves and strangers with specific instruction to not heed their voices.

Beloved do we know the voice of our Father? Do we recognize that He is the provider, protector, sustainer and enabler? More importantly, do we respond to His call when He beckons us away from what would harm us and toward that which will save us? If we do not know His voice, we must avail ourselves of it. It is all around us. We must get to know Him through His word and through prayer. The more we listen for it the more we will hear it. Once we are able to discern it, we must heed it. Let us not make the mistake of putting God on "mute" that we might listen to and heed other voices. It can be said of those who are truly His, "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers,” John 10:5. Follow the voice you know.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to Handle a "Bad Day"-7/10/2012

The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;" Acts 16:22-25

Beloved, have you ever had a bad day? Think a moment about your worst day ever. Was it a situation that was completely outside of your control? Did it involve something you did? Was it public or private? Though it is important to understand the who, what, when and whys of negative things that happen in our lives, it is by far more important how we respond to such events.

Paul and Silas had what some would interpret as a very bad day as a result of doing the will of God. Their work was very unpopular with some people who reported them to the local authorities who in turn had them publicly beaten and thrown into jail without the benefit of any due process whatsoever. Anything remotely similar to this would be an extremely challenging situation for just about all of us. There is, however, more than one way to both look at and respond to "bad days," particularly as a child of God.

After having a similar day Peter in Acts 5:41 rejoiced that he was "counted worthy to suffer shame for his [Jesus'] name." To him, and his associates, it was not a bad day at all, but a good day of both obedience to the will of the Lord and the opportunity to share the gospel with all who heard it. This brings us back to Paul and Silas. Despite being in pain, prison and shackles, they did not bemoan their circumstance, but sang praises to the Father.

It may be counter intuitive to do such a thing, but not for the person of faith. As Christians we must grow into Job's faith who said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" Job 13:15. We must believe that according to Rom 8:28, "all things work together for good for them that love God and are the called according to His purpose." And we must remember that, "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" Rom 8:18.

As an epilogue to this passage, note that the other prisoners were listening to the singing. What a tremendous testimony! If they could continue to praise God under even the worst conditions, that could cause even the most avowed unbeliever to develop questions. Further, we know that the jailer and his family came to Christ as a result.

No, we may not look forward to or enjoy "bad days" but we trust God through them and praise Him for every one in which we draw breath.

Let us comfort one another with these thoughts.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, July 9, 2012

Well Done Christianity-7/9/2012

"Ephraim mixes himself with the nations;Ephraim has become a cake not turned." Hosea 7:8

You may be aware that the House of Israel was separated into two kingdoms after the death of David's son, Solomon. The northern kingdom, sometimes referred to as Ephraim was exceedingly wicked. The distance they had traveled away from God and the activities and other gods was both tragic and profound. Despite this, God sent his servant Hosea to make one last appeal to the adulterous nation. In so doing, he referred to them as "a cake not turned." In their refusal to heed, they were taken into captivity and to this day, never brought together again as a nation.

Most of know what it is like to make pancakes. We mix up the batter, pour it on the griddle, wait until it begins to bubble and then flip it over, keeping it there until done. Can you imagine what it would be like to pour the batter and remove it in order to serve it once it starts to bubble without cooking the other side? I doubt you would get many takers.

Beloved, most of us know enough about God to understand the basics, to know right from wrong, to know that there is a glorious eternity available and that the cost has been paid for it through the sacrifice of Jesus. This is our cooked side. This is the part of us that has significant value and usefulness. There is, however, another side, a side not turned. This is the side that, like Ephraim (who knew God but was wildly unfaithful), pursues other gods, be they job, home, relationships, money, leisure pursuits, ego, etc. This is the side that is away from God. And like a half done pancake, it is ultimately of no use, no value, fails to achieve its purpose or bring pleasure and is a waste to be discarded. In the end, the cooked side will go into the garbage with the uncooked side.

Let us not be "half-baked" in our Christianity, but let us pursue well done good and faithful servants.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, July 6, 2012

Freedom in Christ-7/6/2012 (rp)

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Rom 8:1-2

Many are familiar with the apostle Paul's mea culpa in which he admits that, "The good which I would do, I do not: but the evil which I would not, I practice," Rom 7:19. The truth is that we are all guilty of sin and trespass against the God who made us. No matter how clean and innocent we may delude ourselves into thinking that we are, none can escape the fact of what the greatest gospel writer freely and publicly admits.

Fortunately for us beloved, that is not the end of the story. The good news is that those who have named the name of Jesus have been freed from the spiritual consequences of our shortcomings. This freedom is not obtained through our own efforts but the efforts of our savior. Many at that time were advocating a return to the observance of a legalism they felt would earn them heaven. In fact this was never the design of the law nor a possible outcome. The law was presented to mankind to point toward the need of a savior, Jesus, through whom redemption is available.
Though we must continue to deal with the earthly consequences of our actions, God has delivered us from the threat of everlasting punishment through His son. Let us busy ourselves praising Him for His loving kindness and sharing the good news of freedom's availability to all who are spiritually incarcerated.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Things to Consider in Your Prayer Life-7/5/12

"When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses." Neh 1:4-7

Nehemiah had just received word from his brother that dear Jerusalem and the people of God were in the saddest state of affairs. Though they had relatively recently been freed from exile, their society was in a shambles, they were not worshipping properly if at all and the wall that surrounded the city was in desperate disrepair. Being afflicted in his heart, Nehemiah immediately sat down and prayed.

Beloved, there are many things we can learn about prayer from Nehemiah. Most of us are aware of the so called "Lord's Prayer" which is also an effective model, however note the enhanced content of Nehemiah's supplication.  It featured:
  • Heartfelt emotion-he wept
  • Consistency-he did so for days
  • Frequency-he did so day and night
  • Sacrifice-he fasted
  • Praise-he glorified God
  • Knowledge of God-he referenced the covenant
  • Confession-he acknowledged his shortcomings as well as that of his people
  • Request-he asked for an audience for his prayers and success in his planned endeavor
Many of us give prayer short shrift in our lives until we find ourselves in severe need or want. Let us always model the structure the Lord provided and the application Nehemiah made in our prayer lives. God hears. God listens. God cares. God responds.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Multiplying vs. Storing-7/2/12

"And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours." Matt 25:25

Most of us are familiar with the famous parable of the talents. In it, Jesus relates a story of a master who left his servants with varying sums of money with the implication that when he returned, he expected to see an increase. As the story goes, two of them doubled their respective shares, returned it all to their master and were praised and rewarded. The other decided to store his out of fear of losing it and returned it to his master upon his return.

Beloved, the Lord has blessed each and every one of us wondrously. He has given multiple gifts and talents to every person alive, and even more so to the Christian through the Holy Spirit. These gifts were not given that they may stored but that they may be used for the glory of God and the building up of His kingdom. The servant who hid his blessing stated that he knew his master was a man who expected a return where he had not invested, yet he failed to produce a return for his master from his own activities. Jesus does not physically come and share the gospel with each person on earth. Instead he has equipped us to do it. When he returns, he expects us to say, "you have entrusted me with 5 bags of gold; see I have gained 5 more!"

It is not enough to take care of our own houses, we must contribute to the care of His (the world of lost souls). It is not enough to be saved ourselves, but we must contribute to the salvation of others. It is not enough to sit on our blessings, we must share them with others who do not have that we might win them to Him from whom all blessings flow.

Are you multiplying or storing?

Rejoicing in the Lord,