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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Builder Part 3 (Luke 6:49)

But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:49 NASB)

In the previous section, we saw that the person who was obedient to Christ was like one who built a house on solid rock. No matter what came, the house could withstand it. That is exactly how our lives should be. So solidly built on the truth of God that we can withstand anything life brings our way. 

Today, we see the life of one who has heard truth but not acted accordingly. That person is like a man who built a house on shifting sand, without any foundation at all. The house may be big and grand. It may look exactly like the house on rock. There is one vital difference however. The foundation. There is no anchor for a foundation-less house, and, when storms come and winds blow, the house cannot withstand it.  Our lives have much the same problem. We must have a solid foundation to which we can hold in times of trouble. There must be something in our lives that gives meaning, direction, purpose. 

What is that "something" to which your life is anchored? Will it withstand the storms of life? Jesus said there was only one way to build a house, or a life, that could withstand anything.  The foundation must be build on something solid and immovable. For our lives, that "immovable" is Christ alone.  How firmly are you anchored to Him?

Pray today that our loved ones would recognize the destruction in the lives of those without Christ and choose the Solid Rock of Christ for their lives. Pray too that our lives would mirror Christ to them. 
Link to last might's post:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The kong in the pocket

This morning I slept later than usual and it threw my whole schedule off. As I was walking downstairs, I noticed a small Kong, a chew toy that Maggie and Mamie share, on the floor. Snatching it up, I stuck it in my scrub pocket and promptly forgot about it. 

Tonight, Maggie jumped in my lap and was suddenly on the alert. She patted my pocket, scratched me on the arm, pushed me with her head. It was obvious she wanted something but I couldn't tell what. The longer I delayed in meeting her need, the more insistent she became.  Finally, she started scratching at my pocket and trying to get her head in the pocket. "Maggie, what in the world are you doing?" I asked. She was not giving up. Finally, I realized there was something in my pocket that she wanted. Sure enough, the Kong was still there. I pulled it out and we had dog heaven for a few minutes. Maggie was thrilled. She immediately snuggled in, safe from Mamie, and chewed away. 

Maggie's persistence in getting what she wanted reminded me of the story of the importunate widow in Luke 18. She wanted legal protection and the judge was the only one who could provide it. She was like Maggie, pesky persistent. She kept on and on until the judge, who did not care one bit about the widow or her need for protection said, "Enough! This lady is driving me nuts. Let her have what she wants so she will leave me alone!" 

That lady wasn't worried about the judge being tired of her. She just wanted what she needed and she was not giving up. Jesus said an interesting thing about this.  "now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly." (Luke 18:7,8 NASB)

Maggie and that widow knew something we would do well to emulate. When you need intervention from your mama, the judge, or Almighty God, it pays to persevere. If we addressed our prayer concerns with the tenacity of those two, not stopping until God met our need, whatever it may be, we might see more miraculous answers. If we prayed nonstop for our loved ones who have been led astray by the enemy of our soul,  and prayed with insistence that they be freed from the bonds of the evil one, perhaps we would see some divine intervention. Now I do not at all mean to imply that loved ones remain in bondage because we didn't pray enough. That's not true. Our prayer can, however, make a difference and this passage suggests that pressing on in prayer can yield a tremendous result. 

Are you concerned about a loved one? Pray! Is it taking too long? Pray! Are you tempted to quit because of the delay? Pray. Keep right on praying until your answer comes. 

The builder part 2 (Luke 6:47, 48)

Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. (Luke 6:47, 48 NASB)

In this passage, Jesus addresses the life of the one who is obedient. "He is like a builder who builds on a solid rock foundation," he told His listeners. 

The house with the solid rock foundation may look like all the other houses in the neighborhood. It may be simple or elaborate, large or small.  It is not the costliness of the decor or the beauty of the landscaping that makes the difference in this house. It is the foundation. 

What matters about this builder's house may only be apparent when storms come. They will come, of course. There is no avoiding them, and when they do, this house is so anchored that neither the rain nor the wind shake it at all. The house holds firm. 

That is exactly how our lives should be. In fact, the way we handle the storms of life reveals our foundation. When a horrible thing happens (a storm comes), we respond to it in one of two ways. When we put our trust in God alone and seek to be obedient in every area, it reveals our firm foundation. If we put our trust in anything other than God, it reveals our foundation, as well. 

When we thank God for allowing the adversity into our lives because of what He is going to do through it, bless our enemies, forgive offenses, have peace in the midst of turmoil around us, we show the world our firm foundation. Those are not easy responses to trouble, but they come more easily to one who is accustomed to obedience already. It is one of the reasons why daily obedience is so important. 

What does your response to the trials of life reveal about your foundation?  What does mine?  

Pray today that God will reveal our foundation clearly, and that we will make any changes needed. Pray, too, that our response to the storms of life (as well as that of the believers in the lives of our loved ones), will be so startling different to those we love, so powerful, that they will want our peace, our Solid Rock for their own. 
Here's the link for last might's post:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Community Development.

Tonight was the Union County Development Association meeting and, as an elected official, I attended. The speaker was Mrs. Jackie Hogan from Toyota Mississippi. She was introduced by David Rumbarger from the Community Development Foundation, and he spoke briefly about the process involved in bringing Toyota to Mississippi. 

Jobs were evaporating in the northeast Corner of the state and community leaders were desperately trying to find ways of bringing some sort of long-term manufacturing to the area to provide jobs and replace those that had been lost. The leaders from three adjoining counties had tried and failed. There was not enough land available in one large tract.

Mr. Rumbarger was at hunting camp with Randy Kelly, and they were discussing the situation. Mr. Kelly had a great idea. Why not work together? Instead of competing with each other, why didn't leaders from the three counties work together as one to accomplish something enormous?  That's exactly what they did. People stopped putting their personal priorities first and started putting the greater good of the region first. An amazing thing happened! After many difficulties and incredible effort, Toyota announced that they were building their new plant in Mississippi. In fact, they were building their new plant just outside my little village of Blue Springs. 

How likely was it that this little corner of the poorest state in the Union could recruit an international powerhouse like Toyota? Not at all likely. How did it happen? Teamwork and unity. 

What is really unusual to me is that community leaders are great at working together for the good of the community, but the body of believers in Jesus doesn't always do so well. It seems to me that the body of Christ should be THE model of unity, teamwork, and vision. People should look at us and say, "If you want needs addressed, those are the people to do it." Are there hungry people? Call the Christians. They can figure it out. Homeless people? Call the Christians. They will make a plan. I'm not sure that's how we always work, but I think it's how it should be. 

It's my dream that all the denominations in my area would work together as one and function as the body of Christ, in harmony and unity, working from our commonalities and leaving our differences behind. We do that sometimes, but there's a tendency to group along denominational lines. Can you imagine the incredible things that could be accomplished for the Kingdom of God if all we cared about was bringing people to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith rather than protecting our own little area? Imagine the needs that could be met, the lives that could be changed!

How could that happen? A few people who say let's do it, then never quit until the job is accomplished, could bring this miraculous effort to pass. It has to start somewhere. The question tonight is will you be one of the few?  

The builder. Part 1 (Luke 6:47,48a)

Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock (Luke 6:47, 48a NASB)

Jesus wanted to explain to his followers how obedience to His words would affect their lives. They would be like a builder who built his house on solid rock, he told them. The foundation was firm and unshakeable. There was no danger of shifting ground and a crumbling foundation in the future. It was going to stay where it had been "planted". 

What a great foundation for a life! Solid rock. Unshakeable. Trustworthy. That's the foundation I want, one that can withstand the storms of life and still be standing after the storm has passed. 

It is important to note that not every person in the crowd around Jesus was so firmly rooted and grounded. Not everyone who listened attentively in the crowd was building their life on solid rock. The solid rock foundation requires more than hanging out with the church crowd, attending an occasional service, and knowing the "faith language".  It requires more than listening carefully to the sermons and taking extensive notes. To have a rock-solid  foundation, we have to come to Jesus, hear with understanding, and do what He says. We have to obey, and it is not optional. 

What kind of foundation have you chosen for your life? 

Pray today that we and our loved ones will not just listen but also obey Jesus, and build our lives on the Solid Rock. 
Here's the link for Orkin Dads, last night's post:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Orkin Dads

It had been an insanely busy day at the office and I was exhausted. Before leaving for the evening, it's my routine to check with the nurses for any last minute details. As we were discussing the next day's schedule, the pest control men came through the door. It was fairly close to closing time and I groaned inwardly. I did not want to end up leaving late. 

We greeted them as they approached the desk. There were two men. The older was as perky as if it was the start, instead of the end, of the day. The younger man looked exhausted. I said something about it, and the older man said, "Oh, he's fine. He's just got a new baby is all. He's not getting any sleep."  He laughed and nudged the younger guy. 

"How old is your baby?" someone asked. He'd anticipated that question, I suspect, for his hand was already on his phone.  He grinned the biggest grin I'd seen all day as he said, "He's seven months old!" That proud papa was filled with joy as he handed photos of his little son all around. We oohed and ahhed as women will do over babies, and he grinned and grinned. He was tired, but he didn't really mind the missed sleep.  

The older man was not going to be left out of the bragging. He quickly let us know he has two children of his own. He has a fifteen year old that is the greatest. He showed us pictures and bragged a little. "I've got a four year old daughter, too," he said as he showed us another picture. "Here she is. She's so sweet!" From the picture, I could see there was a problem, which he quickly verified. "I wish you'd all pray for her. She has a mild case of cerebral palsy. She just needs your prayers." He was still beaming about his beautiful little girl. 

Samantha said it first, "Ooh, these Orkin Dads are so sweet!" We were all thinking it, though. I wanted to cry because of the joy they exhibited over their children. That older dad was every bit as excited about his little girl with cerebral palsy as the younger man was with his healthy infant son. (And he should be)

They were both sweet dads and I adored the joy they expressed about their children. The older dad, though, left me thinking about our Heavenly Father. The Orkin Dads were proud of their children, they loved their children, not because of anything they had done, or any milestones they had accomplished. The Orkin Dads loved their children, despite their dificulties, simply because they were theirs. Scripture says God sees us as sinners but loves us anyway, despite our imperfections. (Romans 6:23). His loveis not  anything  we can earn, but there is good news! He loves us just because we are His, and that's the best news of all!

Saying and Doing: two very different things. (Luke 6:46)

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46 NASB)

What a perfect verse for Easter morning! As I write this, I am listening to the symphony of birds singing praise to our Lord. Wise birds. So should we also break forth in joyful song on this glorious morning! He is risen!

The question Jesus raises here is an important one. Why do we profess Christ but do not obey Him? Exactly. It makes no sense to claim to follow Jesus yet fail to follow Him. 

Can we be a follower of Christ if we don't actually follow?  

Selah. Pause and consider. 

I know the answer to the question Jesus asked. I don't like it, but I have first hand knowledge of the answer. Why don't we obey Him when we call Him Lord? We don't obey because we don't want to obey.  

Another reason we don't obey is because we don't know what He said in the first place. That is not an excuse, of course. The words of Christ are not hidden away. We can know what He said. If we don't obey because we don't know Scripture, it is because we have chosen not to know it. Even for passages that seem inscrutable, understanding is available through the help of the Holy Spirit. 

If the only verses we understood and obeyed were the Greatest commandment, "And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' (Matthew 22:37 NASB) and the second greatest, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:39 NASB), we would be able to please Him with our obedience. Obeying those two verses could change the world. Why don't we obey them? We choose not to obey. 

In the end, a simple choice separates us from calling Him Lord and making Him Lord  it is a choice we make on a daily basis. Will we obey?

As we celebrate the victory over sin and death that the Resurrection brought, let us not lose sight of the fact that victory over sin means we are not controlled by our penchant for sinning. We have a decision to make this fine Easter morning. Will we follow Jesus or just talk about Him?

Pray today that our words and actions match so completely that, when our loved ones see us, they get a clear picture of the One we say we follow.