Category Archives: Faith

An Embarrassing Reminder

I was planning on sharing something different this morning, but then I read another post (from Matthew Winters) that changed my mind.

I won’t go into detail, for, as truth would have it, the Devil is in the details; I will just give you a thumbnail sketch of what happened to me a couple of hours ago.

Early in the morning hours I made a call over the radio on my school bus. It was not a serious call, just one to add a little humor into the day. I called into my dispatch (everyone could hear this) and said, “All of my elementary students are acting right for a change…please advise.” After a silly reply or two, a serious voice came over the radio from the head boss, the manager of the whole show, and asked to see me in his office when I got back to the lot.

Why did he want to see me? Well, it was nothing important, at least nothing I need to recount here. However, for an hour I had to think about what it was that he wanted to see me for. I kept thinking to myself, “What did I do?”

It wasn’t long before I was considering how I would explain to my wife and family my firing. How would we make it? How would I pay the bills? It’s already tough at the moment, but what would I do now? I was literally ready to hear the words, “We are going to have to let you go,” and I hadn’t a single reason.

I was shaking. I was nervous. I was fearful. I was ashamed of myself. I was faithless.

Once the short meeting was over, my boss, a Christian guy, asked me, “So, you still looking for a new church to pastor?”

I left his office feeling like a fool. I left embarrassed. I left with only one short prayer on my lips…”I’m sorry, Lord.”

This is how Satan attempts to defeat the children of God. He accuses, even when there is nothing for which to answer! He makes us look for wrong in ourselves, judge ourselves unjustly, and forget that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and watches over us. He seeks to destroy our faith with fear: fear of the unknown; fear of what doesn’t even exist.

In my weakness, partly because I didn’t start my day with prayer, I fell victim to the enemy’s lies and nearly defeated myself.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

“…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:20

Next time the devil starts whispering those accusations in my ear, let me be reminded Who’s side I’m on and Who has already won the victory for me. That might save me some embarrassment when next I fall on my knees.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, Life Lessons

There Is a God!

Oh, hallelujah! I woke up a little while ago with my face burning and itching. But the waking up led to me checking my phone, and long story short, discovering this song and this group. 

I have a new favorite song and a new favorite group! 

Go ahead, watch and listen if you want to get blessed. THIS is good stuff. 

“There Is a God,” by Mountain Faith

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Filed under Faith, God, music

Blues and Better

The following post was originally posted in 2013. The truth of it is even more relevant today.


Post-Christmas Blues

At some point in your life you have probably experienced the “blues” after Christmas. You know, those sad, melancholy feelings that come after all the expectations of Christmas day are over? They’re the “now what?” feelings.

Well, it took a while, but sometime this afternoon I began to feel depressed and kinda sad. In one way I was glad everything was over, but then I was also sad that there was nothing more to look forward to.

Next on the list? Clean house, clean carpet, paint a cabinet, plan sermons, clean a garage, wash windows and blinds, and wonder how to repay what we just borrowed to make people happy for one day.

Post-Christmas Perspective

But if you have experienced the blues after Christmas, be thankful. Being sad that the expectations of this world only bring temporary happiness is a good thing – actually, it’s a great thing! It means that there is something else…something more…something better…something that won’t get old the next day…something that will leave you never having to wish for anything ever again.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

The post-Christmas blues are just reminders that I haven’t made it home.

“I’ll Rise”

Several years ago I wrote a song talking about a place better than this one, a place called Heaven. This year, standing beside a Christmas tree and surrounded by crumpled wrapping paper, my daughter wanted to sing it.

You can believe that this world is all that there is, and that’s OK. If you are right, then an infinity of nothingness won’t bother either of us. However, since no experience in this world, even the best Christmas present, can satisfy for long, I am going to assume there is better place, somewhere beyond the “blues.”

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Filed under Christmas, Faith, Future, Relationships and Family, the future, Uncategorized, World View

From Fear to Joy

An Update

It is truly wonderful to sit down and type on a real keyboard, not an iPhone! I finally picked up my computer yesterday, new hard drive and all, and just plugged it in. It’s like Christmas came early ūüėČ

The only downside is that my wife now thinks I will never get anything done around the house, because I will be here clicking away for the next two days ūüė¶ Wait! why a frowny face? Typing is good for the soul! ūüôā

Actually, if you want to know the truth, we have a whole house full of life that has to be packed and moved by December 29th; I don’t have time to sit and write a lot. We were finally able to secure a place to live just yesterday, so we will be moving out of the parsonage after Christmas. What a way to spend your Christmas break, right?

Fear

There is a great temptation to fear the future. For example, I recently suffered two/third’s cut in annual pay with no idea how I’m going to make that up; we are moving into a house that is not ours and is only guaranteed through April or May; and the company I drive school buses for is now facing huge law suits because of the Woodmore bus crash. The future is definitely uncertain.

But fear is nothing new. Take the time to read the Christmas story in its entirety and you will find several times where true, bone-shaking fear engulfed many. First there was Zacharias in the first chapter of Luke, then Joseph in Matthew chapter one, and then Mary and the shepherds in Luke 2. Each of them, when confronted with angelic messages, were greatly troubled. And why not?

Have you ever been confronted by a real angel in all its glory? Me neither. I have gotten messages from God, though. Yep, I sure have. For example, resigning the pastorate of one church without anywhere else to go was a clear message from heaven saying, “Trust me.” At first the message brought fear, but when I heard His voice saying, “Fear not,” I was able to begin to enjoy the thrill of a new chapter in life.

Joy

Believe me, I have every reason in the world to worry about the future. I had every reason to tremble in fear when I learned I would be homeless by the end of the year. But just like the shepherds tending their sheep, I have been comforted with the knowledge that my Savior was born. He was the fulfillment of the promises of God, and the promises of God are still true.

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? … 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. … 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Mat 6:25-26, 28, 33-34 HCSB

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. If Joseph and Mary could carry on with life after such shocking announcements, surely I can carry on with wondrous expectation.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – Jesus

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Filed under Christmas, Faith, Future

Even Mondays Are Made By God

Today is Monday, but I guess you knew that.

Coffee always helps.

Coffee always helps.

How did you wake up? Was it with a sense of dread? Instead of turning off the alarm clock that woke you up, did you strike it like a mosquito that had been buzzing around your head for an hour?

I don’t like Mondays any more than you. As a matter of fact, Mondays are pretty rough. Mondays should be my day off, but I am (was) what they call a bivocational pastor; therefore, my alarm clock feels like a mosquito, too.

However, the Psalmist (David) says…

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. РPsalm 118:24 

Today…this Monday…every Monday…this is the day which the Lord has made. As a matter of fact, He has made every day. So, what will we do? Will we bemoan the blessing of waking up? Will we cry “foul” even before we enter the game? Will we start the day with the expectation that Monday will be like every other Monday?

This day was made by God. He knows what He is doing. Nothing will come our way that God is not already planning to use for our good – for those who love Him.

Today you may face a storm that leaves you feeling abandoned by God. You may feel like the disciples who were out on the Sea of Galilee all night fighting winds and waves. You may think that your Savior has forgotten you. Just remember that even in the worst storm, on the worst day, Jesus knows where you are.

When the time is right you might even get an invitation to surf the waves of adversity (Matthew 14:27).

So, rejoice! Be glad! Seize the day! It’s been custom-made for you!

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Filed under Christian Living, current events, Faith, God, Life Lessons, worship

So, You Think You’re Worthless?

A while back I there was a conversation in which I was asked, “Tell me, name one thing I do well?” Distraught and depressed, broken and humiliated by disabling pain, feeling like a burden to everyone else, this person said, “I’m worthless. I can’t do anything.”

The Violin

As I remembered those words, especially at this time in my life, the image of a musical instrument, a violin, came to mind. Then I thought of my guitar and other instruments; each one capable of making beautiful, worshipful music, but only in the hands of one with talent enough to play.

I imagined the¬†violin asking, “Tell me, name one thing I do well?” All I could think to reply was, “Nothing.” What can a violin do on it’s own but rest in a case, sit on a shelf, or gather dust in a closet? In the hands of one with no skill, with other things to do, and with no love for music, the violin could even become a wearisome burden over time.

In the wrong hands the violin is “worthless.” It has no value, no worth, no ability, no projection, no tone, and no song on it’s own. Alone, it really can’t do anything.

The Master

Then, right on cue, another thought exploded in my brain: What are we but instruments in the Master’s hands? We have no ability on our own. The violin never plays itself. The only way a musical instrument can ring out notes of joyous praise is when it is given life by the energy of the Musician.

But some may say, “I’m not a violin, a guitar, or anything like that.” Maybe so, but in the hands of a skilled musician even a trash can can bring an audience to its feet.

You may not feel like you’re valuable. You may feel worthless. But don’t believe the lie of the Enemy! Your value is not determined by what you can do, or what you look like, or by what others think, but by how much the Master was willing to pay.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

Dear friend, don’t let your inadequacies, your mistakes, or your disabilities make you feel worthless. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, thought you were worth dying for, and willingly shed His blood to purchase your soul. In your own strength you may be incapable of anything but being a burden on others, but in the hands of the Master, your life can be an instrument of praise in the concert of the ages.

Who knows? You may already be on stage … so don’t give up … the audience may be ready to applaud. ¬†

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Filed under Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, Life Lessons, music, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

Perfection Not Required

Jesus Said…

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

The Perfect Candidate

Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting.  They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.

pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.

But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses¬†REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church. ¬†They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new. ¬†

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings. ¬†Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective. ¬†This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were! ¬†There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer¬†look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems. ¬†At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes. ¬†Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field. ¬†When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” ¬†But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband? ¬†Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?

Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” ¬†When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” ¬†So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” ¬†How is this even possible? ¬†

If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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