Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Don't deal with the devil.

In the first chapter of Exodus we see the tables turn on the children of Israel. Once honored by their Egyptian hosts they now find themselves oppressed and abused. Pharaoh demands that the Hebrew midwives kill all the male newborns in order to suppress the prolific growth God had blessed His people with. The devil is always trying to rob God's people of God's blessings.

Here is what I want to focus on in this post. The midwives refused to comply at the risk of their own lives. They concocted some cockamamie story about Hebrew women giving birth during their 15 minute OSHA mandated work break before they could get there. Really? Did they really think that Pharaoh would buy that and even if he did would it get them off the hook? I don't know but I do know that they were unwilling to compromise and for that God rewarded them. Apparently they were unable to have children of their own. Can you imagine the personal pain they felt with every birth they witnessed?

Verse 21 says that 'because they feared God', more than Pharaoh I might add, God was 'good to them' and 'established households for them'. Here is the deal -

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." - Galatians 5:1 NASB

If Jesus has set us free then why in the world would we settle for a longer chain? The midwives could have carried out the king's decree and ensured their survival but at what personal cost? Let me give you a modern day example.

A single lady has been praying for God to send her 'the one'. You know the drill, as time passes the standards lower. She started out asking for Jesus Himself and now is just looking for someone with a job (or at least a good job prospect). She finds a guy who says that he is a Christian but, "Just hasn't found the right church." He attends with her for awhile and then starts picking apart the music, the message, the people, the pastor, etc. Before you know it they are church shopping which is just his way to get her disconnected because his end game is him on the couch or at the lake or in the deer stand every Sunday. You think I'm exaggerating? I can name names.

When we settle for less than God's best we are making a deal with the devil. Compromise may eliminate the immediate pressure but it always comes at a great price. Stay the course, keep your eyes on the prize and finish the race. Whatever it is that God has for you is worth the effort and the wait.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Off Center

I'm not even sure how the conversation started. The other day I'm riding down the road with a friend and we came to the realization that most men fall into one of two categories -

  1. Workaholics.
  2. Couch Potatoes.
Both are out of balance and outside of God's plan for MANkind. Check this out -

  • "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves." - Psalm 127:2
  • "Don't you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? "If you don't work, you don't eat."" - 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Some might see a contradiction, but I see two verses that perfectly complement each other. I believe that God's plans for a man include a balance of hard work AND an understanding that we work to live, we don't live to work. Even God enjoyed a well deserved day of rest at the end of a productive week of work.

So work hard, with all your heart, to the very best of your ability but remember a job well done is not the same as a life well lived. At the end of the day their are a lot of things more important than career - your wife, your kids, your health, your relationship with God, etc.

Some guys need to get off their butt and do something. Some guys need to unplug and do nothing. And a few guys have found that sweet spot right in the center where God wants us all to live. So -

  1. Which one are you?
  2. What are you going to do about it?
FYI I'm writing this at 9:43 PM from my couch AFTER I left work early to help my kids work on their tree fort.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Burger King Jesus.


I believe that prayer has the power to move mountains. I have seen it change hopeless situations, heal broken bodies, restore ruined relationships and so much more. I have also seen saints struggle after believing with all of their hearts for God to intervene in their situation and seeing nothing happen or worse. Why does God answer some prayers and seemingly leave others unattended? Is He too busy, or possibly playing some sick cosmic game with our lives? I am convinced otherwise. 
  1. God has a purpose.
  2. He is Sovereign.

His Word tells us that He knows the end from the beginning and that He had a plan for our lives before we were ever conceived. The problem is that we want what we want, when we want it, with a smile, hold the mayo with extra pickles and yes I would like that King sized all for $4.99 plus tax. 

Matthew 7 tells us that we can... "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."  But if you are asking for the wrong thing, seeking in the wrong place and knocking on the wrong door God loves us enough to patiently wait. He sees the big picture and orchestrates all things within His masterful plan for our ultimate good.

So what did Jesus mean when He said, "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." in John 14? I suggest it has everything to do with what He prayed in Luke 22 when He prayed, "not my will, but yours be done." The secret to having your prayers answered is praying according to God's will and not our own. I know it seems basic and obvious but then why don't we do it more often? It's because even though we call Him Lord we like to call the shots from time to time. Asking for something 'in Jesus Name' is not a magic spell we tag onto the end of our proverbial wish list. We might as well just finish with 'abracadabra amen'! It is literally praying for those things that line up with who he He and what He wants. Is it possible if we spent more time focusing on that, seeking His heart and His plans, that our prayers would become exponentially more powerful? Not only possible but probable and more profitable!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cuss-tomer Service

So the other day I was killing time literally waiting for paint to dry. Pastor Scott and I walked into a store where a half dozen or so employees were 'working'. After looking around and being ignored for 10 minutes or so one of the employees walked across the showroom and turned the lights off. Figuring it was time to leave Scott and I headed for the door. I guy behind a counter mumbled something as I walked by. I assumed that he was speaking to someone else so I continued to leave. He raised his voice, "I SAID, 'Is there something specific you were looking for?"

My response, "Not in the dark".

Defensively he informed me that they had always closed at 3 PM on Saturdays and always would (never mind it was only 2:55). What happened next floored me. He grilled me about what time I got off of work and if I wanted to go home when I was done. I was almost speechless. He finally ended his tirade with, "Y'all come back now ya' hear."

I wasn't going to lie, "That's not going to happen." And we left.

The point of my story... sadly my experience is what many people encounter when they visit a church for the first time. They don't know the rules, they don't know the format, they don't know the facility and they are just left to fend for themselves. The only time anyone pays them any attention is when they single out visitors during the service (which most people hate) or they do something wrong and everyone let's them know.

What a tragedy! Customer service in a business is one thing but in the church we are talking about people's eternity. We ought to do everything in our power (and His) to make guests feel like they are welcome and wanted. I am convinced that 1st time guests are the most important people at a service in any given week. Imagine what they had to overcome just to get there. You know that the devil has done everything possible to make it impossible. Their forever is at stake. We can't sit idly by in our little holy huddles, ignoring people like they don't matter, watching the clock so we can beat the Baptists to the buffet (love my baptist brothers).

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

FYI we go home when the job is done!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Idols, Idols, They All Fall Down.

I love God's Word. Within its pages are the greatest stories ever told - not just entertaining or informational but life changing. Take the next passage for instance -

"After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained." - 1 Samuel 5:1-4

Can you imagine the scene? After celebrating a great military victory the Philistines carry the Ark of the Covenant (think Indiana Jones) into the temple of their idol Dagon as an offering. The next day to their dismay they find their false god face down (an act of worship) in front of the ark. Oops, better prop him back up. Fast forward another 24 hours and the scene repeats except this time poor old Dagon breaks his neck and both wrists. A fatal blow.

So what's the lesson? Most of us don't have a metal/wood/rock figurine that is the object of our worship so we're good right? Maybe and maybe not. At it's core an idol is anything we put ahead of God. Our personal 'Dagon' might be something like a house, car, career, relationship. etc. We are consumed with greed, fear, anger, pride and self.

The solution is God's presence. That is what the ark represents. In God's presence things happen. In God's presence idols come crashing down. In God's presence we are forever changed. By continually pursuing God's presence we can overcome whatever we are facing once and for all. Never underestimate the power of his presence!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Betrayal


As the holidays wind down I want to hit the Christmas story from a little different angle. Mother and Child seem to take center stage and rightfully so, the angels and shepherds and wise men all have there time in the spotlight but what about dear old dad?

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." - Matthew 1:18-19

Can you imagine for a moment the sheer sense of betrayal that Joseph felt in that moment? He must have been completely overwhelmed! A man who had determined in his heart to get it right and honor God by waiting to have sex until marriage. What good did that do him? How would any self respecting man feel when his (soon too be) wife shows up pregnant and he KNOWS that he isn't the father? Crushed, furious, ashamed, homicidal, suicidal...?

The first thing I want to point out is that Joseph didn't REACT to the situation. 

"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:20-21

Reacting in the heat of the moment rarely if ever works out well. Take a breath, take a moment and take it before the Lord. 

"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." - Proverbs 13:3

God may have a completely different perspective than you do and regardless of what you are facing he has a plan and a purpose.

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." - Matthew 1:22-25

Joseph chose to RESPOND and found himself in one of the leading roles of the greatest story in human history. We have all been betrayed, or thought we have been. Either way it hurts. There is no getting around it. The question is will we allow God to write the story of our lives or will we go off script? Will we allow betrayal to define us or drive us deeper into God and forward in his plans for our lives?

Are you ready for a LEAP of faith?

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