Archive for March, 2013

Our False Claim

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

This morning at the “Y” a man asked me what is the most difficult part of being a pastor. I think getting people to fully trust God by moving from selfish to selflessness is the greatest challenge. My experience is that it is relatively easy to get seekers to accept Jesus’ incredible offer of mercy, grace and forgiveness. That means to accept Jesus as their Savior. But getting them to accept Him as the driving force of life (Lord), while not impossible, it is extremely difficult. We are all selfish. We all want to be in control. I do and so do you. We want to write the rules for life. I do and so do you. We want to love whom we want to love and hate whom we want to hate. I do and so do you. We want to choose the people we will forgive and the hell with the rest. Most all of us need someone or some group to look down upon. We want to do what we want when we want. With few exceptions we are this way. Oh, how we do want to be in charge!

The night before Jesus was murdered He modeled for us what should be the mantra of every Christ follower when he said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet, I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39 NLT)

Earlier he had summed up, in two succinct bullet points, exactly what God expects from us.

● Love God with our whole heart.

● Love everybody.

That is Jesus’ action plan for life. My guess is that nobody reading this is actually doing either. Think what would happen to us and everybody else if we did. We would be like Jesus — the Man most of us are falsely claiming to follow.

Something to Think About

Embrace It

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

As I talk to more and more people, it seems to me, that many of us have developed varying degrees of confusion over our self perception.  The self–portrait we paint  of our self is mostly based on how we think the important people in our life see us. They may not have actually seen us that way at all but we think they did.  For those of us who grew up in dysfunctional families, some of the baggage that we carry has put deep and wide wounds on the heart of our self image.

Maybe we were told we were not good enough, that we were stupid, that we were ugly or unlovable.  Maybe you were made to feel guilt and shame as a child. Perhaps you were taught that you had to be perfect in everything you did – nothing less was acceptable.  Today for reasons unknown to your conscious mind you feel one down from most everybody you know.

I venture to say that even if we grew up in the near perfect All – American family,  we still fall far short of seeing ourselves as God sees us. When we began to understand how God sees us and when we accept the fact that He loves us with an unconditional love and that Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross for each of us, that is the point when we start to sense the immense value He has placed on us.  Then we can begin the process to overcome the negative self-perception that many of us secretly carry around in our hearts.

In Psalm 8 King David was blown away when he realized the high value God had put on mankind and on him personally. “For you made us only a little lower than God, and you crowned us with glory and honor.”

Think through the implications of those words on your worth as a person. God wants every man, woman and child on the planet to have a healthy self perception anchored in His love, mercy and grace.  He longs for us to realize the high value He puts on us and for us to see ourselves thorough the filter of His love. Think of it this way.  If Jesus thought enough of you that He would take those three rusty nails for you, what does that say about your worth? Embrace his love!

 Something to think about

Never Be Afraid to Try

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

I suppose that all of recorded history back to the days of Abraham and Moses is replete with folks who were either afraid to try or tempted to give up too soon. Certainly I’ve missed out on opportunities because I was afraid that I couldn’t do something perfectly or that I would look silly or bring up the rear.  Like when I was in high school, I loved football but didn’t play because I thought I was too small. Later at the University of Tennessee, I dropped Speech 101 because I didn’t think I could master public speaking. A few years ago when I first started riding a bicycle, I pushed my bike to the top of the first really tough hill because I didn’t think I could pedal to the top. Those are just a few of mine off the top of my head.

A while back I took part in a spur of the moment 40 mile bicycle ride with a few friends but mostly with folks I didn’t know. It was a near perfect day along a new route and very enjoyable. More importantly I saw the most amazing person I’ve ever seen atop a bicycle. This young man was visiting the area from another state and had learned of our ride online. Without knowing anyone else or having any idea what the course would be like, he decided to ride with fifty or so strangers.  I’m positive that if I had been in his shoes I would not have demonstrated that degree of bravery. Once, as we were going down a steep hill on a rough road, I especially worried about him because it was all I could do to maintain control myself.

What made  this particular rider so amazing was that he had only one arm.  Maintaining your balance on a bicycle using only one hand is a challenge. Try it sometime. Wonder if that man has any idea what an inspiration he was to the rest of us?  Probably not.  I have no doubt that God sends people like the one armed man into our lives for a reason. I hope I never forget him. Perhaps you shouldn’t either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Garbage

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

For several weeks now I have been eating out of the garbage. Let me explain. Will, one of our church house band members, comes in every Sunday with a six- pack of those powered sugar covered mini-donuts. Some time back I noticed that he had discarded the last two (still in the package) in a waste basket we keep back stage. I didn’t think anymore about it. The next week I again saw another two mini donuts in the trash. This time I made sure nobody was looking then I reached in and picked them up. They looked fine so I ate them. Next week same deal — two donuts in the trash became two donuts in my mouth. I’m a slow learner but I finally got it. Will only eats four of the six donuts! So now each Sunday I look forward to “my” two.

Will and I are different. I’ve hardly ever known when to say when. We can’t keep sweets in our house because I will keep eating until they are gone. As far as I can recall, I’ve never in my life thrown a donut away. I can’t have just a piece of pie! We only buy ice cream in the little round containers. Yet, when I eat those two donuts out of the trash, they satisfy me. Two are enough. I wish I were more like Will. I also wish Will liked just three of the mini-donuts instead of four! There is one more thing I’ve noticed about Will. He doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him.

My Bad Back Flip

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Yesterday, totally out of the blue, I received some news from a person that I have known, respected and trusted for twenty years. This information was about a man that once cussed me out in a crowded restaurant with the vilest  and sickest  conglomeration of obscene words that I have ever heard strung together and who has stalked me via email for years.  A while back, he sent me another of his odious dispatches, informing me that he was “retiring” from his position and was going to enjoy life and even suggested that we should fight each other.  I am at a loss as to what has prompted his years of harassment and hate.  But knowing him and how much he delighted in his “dream job” I was a bit surprised why he would suddenly choose to retire. I suspected that there might be more to his “retirement” than he was telling.

Well, the information that I received was that he was actually fired from his job for a major issue. When I heard that I could have done a back flip. As a matter of fact it made my day. Who would blame me?  I expect that, given what this man has put me through most anybody would react about like me; wouldn’t they? Perhaps, but the problem is that was the wrong reaction. That is not the way a man who claims to be a Christian should ever react.  My Savior forgave the men would were in the process of driving nails into his hands and feet. He died for me and he died for this guy too.  We are both in the same boat. I would be very surprised if Jesus did a back flip when the guy was canned. I find that for me living a Christian life is a constant challenge. I fail at it a lot. Today, I am praying for the man and his wife, which is what I should have done yesterday.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NLT) But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. 

Something to think about