Tag Archives: Why am I here

Another World?

Today I began a journey of a different sort. I disconnected from Facebook and am opting, instead, to express my thoughts on platforms that give the opportunity for legacy and Image result for sword and trowelmeaningful discourse. At the same time, I am acknowledging that I am a stranger and alien in this world (Eph 2:12-19) and that the dialog in that particular public square is more about “civilian affairs” (2Tim 2:4) than things that matter for the generations that follow, and indeed, for eternity.

Am I backing away from the public square? No. I continue to believe that we should be in the world but not of the world. Yet, as I told a dear friend, posting words of wisdom is quickly lost in the haystack of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). Those who would spread FUD without wisely discerning the truth of what they’re posting have begun to far outweigh the caring and personal touches that once were the hallmark of this platform. The vitriol has reached such a noise level that truth is impossible to discern. I believe that the rhetoric is being used by the principalities of the air to create confusion even among those who want to follow Jesus as the Truth, the Way, and the Life.

In another transition of leadership thousands of years ago, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. (Joshua 1) He repeated this message several times until Joshua got it. God told him that I will never leave you or forsake you, so be strong and courageous. This is a message that is decried in our society today. A life with God is not a FUD life, but rather one of being strong and courageous. A life of faith requires conviction and confidence. God has told us that he has put government leaders into place (Rom 13). We can choose to believe that our God is sovereign over all of his creation … or not. If, indeed, God does rule over his creation, then what have we to fear. We should go forward being strong and courageous!

School break is a wonderful thing and it afforded me the opportunity to have coffee yesterday with two of my grandsons. We just hung out and talked about life. One is a gifted writer who will be a spokesman for others one day. He writes with a passion not often found in today’s young people. The other is three years further on in life and looking for answers on such things as work/life balance. Wow! Where have the years gone? This is a world to which I am choosing to dedicate my energies. Teaching the next generation what it means to live a life that is pleasing to God. Christ’s half-brother James, led by the Holy Spirit, wrote these words in chapter 1 of James, “26  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. The prophet Micah wrote similarly in chapter 6 verse 8, “He has told you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Teaching this world, one person at a time, the meaning of the two great commandments is a mission upon which I have set myself years ago and one that I must once again take up renewing my energy with strength and courage. The next generation will lead in a very different world, but a world, that is no less under the sovereign watchful eye of the God of the universe. The efficacy of Christ’s work on the cross is not fading. It is and will be as powerful as it was in the days of the early church.

So, at least for the moment, I must focus my energies on building up the next generation and put aside the civilian cares of this world, pressing on to the mark of the high calling to which we have all been called.

In the picture with this post you’ll see a sword and a trowel. Nehemiah took on the mission to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. His workers needed a sword to defend themselves from the attackers and a trowel to continue building the wall. Nehemiah 4:17-18 says, “Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped to his side while he built.” In the same way we need to be about the business of defending the faith while building up and preparing the next generation to carry on the work to with we have been called.

God bless you all and let’s prepare today’s world for the world to come.

Preparing the Next Generation

This past Sunday evening I had the privilege of participating in a rare type of ceremony. Six men had gathered together to welcome one of my grandsons to manhood on the eve of


his 18th birthday. We had held a similar event for his brother three years ago on his 18th birthday. The young mens’ father believes strongly in positioning men for success in all aspects of life, including how to be a man who is successful in life.

In this circle of men were gathered, both of his grandfathers, his brother, his uncle, his track coach, and his dad. These are all men who are committed to helping Matt succeed in life. Such success begins with a thirst and search for wisdom. These men are available to Matt as resources from whom to draw wise counsel and direction when confronting decisions that we all know he will face. This special evening generated some reflection on how we prepare the next generation for the world they will face. Some of those thoughts would be:

  1. Without a biblical worldview and a level of absolute truth they will be tossed about by the leanings of the loudest voices in their world. We all know how stable those voices will be in providing a foundation for truth and values. Even churches who profess to value tradition find themselves being tossed to and fro as the demands of society weigh on those traditions.
  2. An intentional committed group of mentors and elders will be an invaluable resource for someone figuring out his or her role in life. Breaking down barriers to communications across the generations is essential to the success of learning from the wisdom of our forefathers.
  3. A peer group firmly grounded in a biblical worldview with a firm grip on an eternal truth system is essential. There is a reason that the Bible continues to be the best selling book year after year, generation after generation. There really are  eternal absolute truths and values. Choose your friends well.

Understanding our world from God’s view is essential to navigating the challenges put before us in a fallen world. Man was created in the image of God. In this image he has the ability to make choices. From the very first man and woman (Adam and Eve) the choices we’ve made have strayed from God’s desires and wishes for our welfare.

God gave us Scripture so that we could know Him better and learn from the way He has loved us and given Himself for us. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof and  correction. If indeed Scripture is God-breathed, wouldn’t it be prudent to develop our worldview around His instructions?

As we prepare our children and grandchildren to lead in their world we should position them to win with truth and commitment to being available as counselors to help guide them until our days are completed. We need to make the most of every opportunity to invest in the future leaders of the world we will leave behind. We need to teach them to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We need to help them change the trajectory of relative truth to a system where there are some foundational truths that are not circumstantial nor do they have the flexibility of bending with the loudest voices or even the vast majority of voices.

I consider it an honor to have been invited into my grandson’s world through his celebration of his 18th birthday and launching into manhood. I hope and pray that I made the most of that opportunity.

I would urge all my readers to consider by what vehicle, event, or method they will launch their successor generations into responsible manhood and womanhood.

Preach the Gospel …

There is an old saying that counsels us as believers to preach the gospel and if necessary to Image result for Word of Goduse words. Christ advised that the two great commandments were (1) that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and (2) that we are to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. Christ later challenged us to love our neighbors in the same way that He loved us. So what are we to do with these commands? How then, should we preach the gospel?

First of all, we need to have the word of God hidden in our hearts so that we would not sin against God (Ps 119:11). With God’s word as a foundation and guide for our lives, we have a body of truth on which we can conduct lives and interactions with others. Following God’s word we will do such things as leaving the judging of the world to God. We will do everything in our power to point people to Jesus in such a way as to not be a hindrance to God’s desire to draw all men to Himself (Jn 12:32). I’ve told this story before, but there was a time when I carried the burden of being God’s salesman. One day He showed me that no one comes to the Father unless the Father draws him (Jn 6:44). This changed my entire approach. This gave me the freedom to set aside my agenda and focus on being a friend and pray earnestly that God would use our interactions to draw my friends. It really is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that opens the eyes of our hearts to the truth of the gospel and the battle that we are waging against evil.

Secondly, when Christ was dealing with the world, he knew their hearts and knew how to address their heart needs. In the same way, we need to know our audience. We need to learn to speak God’s word in such a way that will shed light rather than confuse. Remember we are to be salt and light in this world. Our job is to facilitate the seeing of God’s truth and through our love to help others see God. The Bible calls this speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Recent history is filled with stories where well-intentioned Christians simply point hurting people to scripture, without loving them first and guiding them to the truth of scripture later. Yes, we know what the Bible says, but the writer of the book of Hebrews penned these words, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.” (Heb 5:12-13). And the Peter wrote in his letter to the church, “Like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)

So we see that we are all on a journey. Some of us are ready for the meat of the word  but others who are just beginning, are needing the milk to nurture their growth into salvation. Children, grandchildren and friends, let us be men and women who, under the power of the Holy Spirit, are able to discern the needs of those with whom we come in contact and communicate Gods’ word (truth) in love. Jesus said in his prayer recorded in John 17, “Your word is truth.” Communicating the truth in love does not mean hiding the truth. It means speaking God’s word like we believe that it is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword penetrating to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Allow God’s word to flow through you by your actions and allow it to flow in love.

Hopefully this will help encourage us to rightly handle the word of Truth.

Let us consider …

This week I saw a post from a friend asking for others to share stories of what God was doing in their lives. I thought it was a good entry and one that we should see more of. I sent her some of our story going back to the time we left Atlanta. She thanked me for the encouragement. But this raises a fundamental question in relation to the Hebrews 10:24 passage calling us to consider how to stir one another up to love and good works. How should we, as Christians go about encouraging one another? Is there a set of rules that guides such behavior? Ephesians 5:19 tells us to be filled with the Spirit, talking and singing with one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.

We are to consider how to spur one another on. I am in a Bible study with a group of men whose stories and journeys are becoming well known among the group. When we talk of God’s goodness and faithfulness we have our own set of stories that are sort of a library of battle wins that we can use to encourage one another. When we see the instruction of scripture, we have case studies and examples that we can use to create the picture. Some of these are stories that we share with others, and some we keep within the walls of that room.

This is not the kind of thing that we quote Bible verses to each other whenever we see each other. We know the stories and draw strength from how God has worked in our lives and our faith is built up. There is real value in knowing and being known. I just had a friend go through a very difficult illness, one that threatened her life on at least two occasions. We praise God together now, because he has brought her through the valley of the shadow of death. The stories are endless and in the process of knowing and being known, we remind each other of God’s faithfulness. We can say, “Remember when things were not going well, and we prayed and God answered our prayers?”

Some of this encouragement comes from the Ephesians 5 passage, because we have seen God’s faithfulness in our own lives and sharing an appropriate verse has greater meaning because it is shared in the context of our shared experience and in the remembering of God’s faithfulness. Suddenly you have the living and active word of God (Hebrews 4:12) intersecting with real life and the word comes to life! This becomes part of your testimony.

You know, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but our testimony ought not to be about the single event or moment in time when we invited Christ into our hearts. Our testimonies ought to be on-going developing stories of God’s faithfulness and how he is bringing growth to our spiritual lives.

How can we live in encouraging community? Who are those whom you would invite to be your guides and encouragers when the wheels seem to be coming off? Think ahead to upcoming interactions. Think about how you can be an encourager to get someone to use their gifts. I love how the New Living Translation says it: Encourage someone to outbursts of love and good deeds!

Have a blessed day!

The 5 Worst Beliefs a Christian Parent Can Have in an Imploding Society

Important read. This is from a blogging Christian mom that I follow and I thought worth referring to all of you. I thank God for giving Natasha Crain clarity of thought on this and many other basic parenting issues.

America is changing fast, and not in the direction we’d like. Our beliefs at a time like this matter. Here are 5 of the WORST beliefs we can have.

Source: The 5 Worst Beliefs a Christian Parent Can Have in an Imploding Society

On Worship

How we connect with God is a very personal matter for all of us. It is also a topic that carries with it a great deal of emotional energy. There is so much wrapped up in this activity (yes, worship is a verb) that many people try to find that church and worship experience that provides the mysterious connection with God. Yes, it is a mystery when we are able to hear the Creator, God of the universe, Father Son and Holy Spirit, speak to us and know that He is telling us that He cares for us, wants to hear our heart’s cry and our praise.

The concept of worship is expressed in the Old Testament in the Hebrew language as the word shaha pronounced shaw-khaw’. This word is translated as “worship” 99 times in our English Bibles, 31 times as “bow,” and 18 times as “bow down.” The Webster Unabridged Dictionary provides this definition: “The act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; religious reverence and homage; adoration, or acts of reverence, paid to God, or a being viewed as God.” We get from these usages and definitions that worship is an act of humbling ourselves, bowing down to a being, in our case, God, to give him the honor and to revere Him as our Source. 1 Peter 5:6 advises, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

In today’s settings, we gather on Sunday mornings for gatherings labeled as “Worship Services.” Millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of Christians gather each week for worship. Many, if not most, have a firm grasp on the process and purpose of worship, but an increasing number of people can be found church hopping trying to find a worship style that suits them. There are multiple variables in this space, including but not limited to: relevant teaching, deep teaching, expository teaching, the hymns written since the reformation, contemporary songs with a faster beat, music of choruses with repetitive expressions of awe, communion every Sunday, communion periodically to keep it special, taking an offering as part of worship, letting my giving be done in secret either online or placed in boxes around the sanctuary before or after the services, and the list goes on. Still others look to the style of church leadership to be comfortable that the governance is focused on maintaining spiritual growth of the body.

Speaking as a worshiper, I am often convicted that I focus more on my own preferences rather than truly engaging in worship of a holy and righteous God. It would seem that at some point we must set aside the color of the carpet and the dress code of the pastor and focus on the One whom we are there to worship. I have to confess that I too fall victim to my own preferences in worship from time to time. Thankfully, my church provides some options from which to choose so that we are able to worship as a larger community with our preferred expressions, particularly in the area of music. The teaching is consistent and biblical, but the style of music, so influential in aiding our conversation with God and expressing our love and adoration, is varied in different services.

I have become convinced in my own mind that God is musically agnostic. What He loves and wants to hear is the expression of our hearts toward Him. We must focus on the object of our worship first and foremost, while making sure that we are hearing the truth of scripture being rightly divided. We must take the responsibility for validating what we are hearing by searching the scriptures to see whether the things we are hearing from the pulpit are correct.

Family, brothers and sisters, worshiping and bowing down involves humbling ourselves and honoring the One to whom honor is due. Worship is not a time to serve ourselves, let’s cast off the things that so easily beset us and put on the armor of light and give to God the glory, honor, and reverence that is due to Him alone.

“Come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!” Psalm 95:6

Note to self: Come back to read this periodically for a reminder and attitude adjustment!

People Believed, then …

Acts chapter 2 tells us of the days following Pentecost, the days when 20151204_095731the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, were teaching all who were within hearing range. Those who believed were filled with joy and joined in the fellowship of believers sharing what each one had. Verse 47 reports that they were praising God and having favor with all the people. This favor paved the way to tremendous growth in the number of people who were being saved. Exciting days those were, believers were being added to the body of Christ every day!

Then the Jewish leaders saw that many were following “the way” because the apostles were teaching in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The Sadducees did not believe in life after death. So they threw Peter and John in jail. Life begins to become complicated for the early Christians, not because of the Roman government, but because of the religious leaders. We have a saying these days that says, “We have found the enemy and they are us.” Isn’t that so often true? We feel constrained in following the word by our denominational preferences. Time passes and Paul, formerly Saul, begins to plant churches around the Western Asia world in places like Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Corinth, Athens, etc. The church at this point is growing through Paul’s teaching, yes, but also through the teaching of those who have learned from Paul.

In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul instructs Timothy as follows: “… what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” This is how the churches where Timothy was ministering were to be (a) strengthened and (b) growing. Much of my life has been committed to mentoring and helping other men navigate life from a biblical perspective. A few years back, my son-in-law, Russell, gave me the 4-link chain shown in the picture above. I keep it on my key ring as a reminder of my purpose as I travel from meeting to meeting. Regardless of the subject of any meeting, it helps me keep an eternal perspective on the relationships interacting in those settings. How does it work?

Paul said, “what you have heard from me …” are the first two links … Paul (the first link) passing truth and the message on to Timothy (the second link). Timothy, then was to entrust those truths to faithful men (the third link) who, in turn, would be able to teach others also (the fourth link). With each sharing of the truths of the Gospel, a new chain is started. We are called to share the truth of Jesus Christ, His love and His death and resurrection and the resulting future hope with others. Recently, I’ve been blessed to observe a couple of men prepare to share their faith with others, including their children! We are all trusting God to prepare the hearts of these “others” that God has laid on the hearts of these men. Yes, some of our words will fall on rocky soil, but some will fall on rich soil eager to hear the good news of the Gospel.

A dear friend excitedly talked of “paying it forward” with another couple we both know. While scripture doesn’t have that specific terminology, the concept of sharing the good news of Jesus that we have received in a “pay it forward” manner certainly is biblical. We who have been gobsmacked by God’s grace, can’t wait to share with others who need to hear the freedom that comes from life in Jesus Christ.

My challenge to you is to be the first link in the chain. Take the scriptural truths that you have received and share them with a friend or neighbor or even someone you know at church. Be in prayer asking God to guide you to that person who needs to hear His good news (gospel). We live in a world that is fearful and doesn’t know where to turn. They know they are looking for answers, and that there has to be a better way. Even though the media ridicules God and faith, when you build relationships with people to the point where you can hear their hearts, and they can hear yours, God will open doors. We’ll talk about this in another blog, but we’re not talking here about a Billy Graham style campaign on another person. We’re talking about building a very personal trusting relationship which gives each person the opportunity to hear heart level desires.

Praying for each one of you, because you have a story to tell, a story of redemption and hope that another person needs to hear.