Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Independence Day

What do you think of when you see or hear the words Independence Day? Do you think of the Revolutionary War and people dying for a cause? Or, do you think of the action packed 1996 movie in which the world was given a reason to celebrate Independence Day? Or, do you think of bar-b-ques, swimming pool parties and fireworks? Normally that's the first thing that pops into my mind, and I hope to enjoy some of those this week.

But there's another concept that came to me just this past week when it comes to Independence Day and it has nothing to do with the Fourth of July. It's my independence day. It’s the day I declared my independence from temptation, from sin, from the pressures of worldly pleasures. I announced that I wanted Jesus in my heart and as a result gained His ticket to heaven. It’s my spiritual birthday, which also happens to be the same date as my physical birthday, April 7.

Do you have an Independence Day? Can you say you are free from the pressure of trying to keep up with all the new fads? Do you keep up with fashions because you like them or because you want to be like everyone else? I don't want anyone to feel I am singling them out, but everyone has something they struggle with when it comes to the way the world functions.

Can you say, "no," to any activity, or thing, and know you are still worthy and loved by God?

The more time I spend studying the Bible and focusing on my walk with God the easier it becomes to say, "No," and the less pressure I feel to conform to the way the world thinks. The day I realized that the pressure was gone was a liberating experience. There is no struggle of what to do, of what to think, of what to say to others. I'll admit some of this freedom came suddenly while the rest came slowly. Time with God only solidifies my stance.

Our world is quickly changing and becoming more and more like the days of Lot and Noah. We need a life-line to hold on to, to know where we need to stand, to be free to be ourselves and who God created us to be. I encourage any of you who still struggle with the world to talk to God. Ask for help. Read His Word - the Bible - for direction and confirmation. There is nothing like being free and celebrating your own Independence Day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When a Low Blow Triumphants

Last Thursday my soul was shaken when I heard about the gunman who opened fire in the middle of a church's Wednesday night prayer meeting. I feel that was a low blow at a most precious time in the Lord's presence.

This young man entered a church prepared to end lives. But he didn't charge in yelling and shooting. No. He waited until he had been in the service for an hour. An hour of singing and prayers, welcoming the presence of God into their midst. And when everyone was relaxed and focusing on God's direction he opened fire and killed nine people.

It doesn't matter the color or culture of this church; this was an attack on God and His people. And it breaks my heart. My tears have finally stopped but I still hurt over this event.

The one thing I loved hearing Thursday was when an elder of the church stated good was going to come from this. When I heard him I knew he was right - what a faith-filled statement to make. Then there was this report on CNN's News 800 site. What remarkable witnesses of God and of His forgiving abilities to those who love Him. Incredible.

My hope is that this low blow to the church here in America will open the eyes of the rest of the nation. And, that Christians everywhere will use situations that come their way not to cry, "Foul," but to cry, "God will be victorious." It's hard, but the last six days have shown us it can be done.

Friday, June 19, 2015

When is the End the End?

Is the earth going to live forever? Or, is there a set time when everything will change? When the face of the earth no longer resembles the beauty it is now. Arguments over the end of time have been happening since the days of Jesus. See Matthew 24 where the disciples asked Jesus to tell them about the end of time and what to expect.

I must admit it would be a bit of a mystery for me if I didn't search the scriptures for answers. Whenever you talk about the end of time the key to remember is that God never changes. So in looking at what Jesus told His disciples - reiterating the teachings of the prophets then adding a few new things - these still hold true. That's why we look to the Bible to see if all the craziness of this world meets the prophecies of the Bible.

Now keep in mind, the verses on the end of the age are scattered like puzzle pieces. You see, God has told bits and pieces to His prophets, but never the whole plan. It is up to us to put all the pieces together. I recently saw a sermon given by Jimmy Evans that pointed to the creation as the outline when God tells about each and every turning point in history including the end of time. I had never heard this before, and figuring you might not have heard it either I drew up a chart showing the parallel he gave.

Day of Creation
Major Impact to Man by Millenium
Light and dark that co-existed were separated.
 Adam and Eve sinned which lead to man being separated from God who is the light that shines in our lives.
The sky was created to separate the waters that mingled in the heavens and on the earth.
 Noah and his family survived a flood that wiped out the earth when the waters came back together for a short period of time.
Plants and trees that yield seed were created.     
 Abraham is promised that his seed will be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
 Lights to shine in the darkness were created - the stars, the sun, the moon.
 Prophets rose up to tell the people about God, to warn leadership and the nation when they were headed into darkness, or that they needed to stop their evil practices.
 Animals of all sizes and shapes were created.
 Jesus was born, dies, and rises to life again thus allowing man to become new creatures. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
 Man is created.
 Man now inhabits most corners of the earth.
 God rested.
 Millennial rule of Jesus

Now looking at this correlation I can now see why God waited to create the stars, etc in the heavens until after He created the plants. If I had created the earth I would have put the lights in the heavens first then started work on the earth next. But when you compare the days of creation with the history of man it totally makes sense. Which makes the rest of the comparison shine bright with truth.

So, all this being said, we could be near the end of the sixth day and headed to the seventh day of rest. I don't say this to scare you, just to prepare you. God has told us when the time of rest will come. But not the exact day. It's going to be like a surprise party, we just don't know the date and time. So be ready to go and don't be late.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

When Failing Leads to Hope

Have you ever failed at something? Did you kicked yourself for days or weeks because you didn't do what you wanted to do? Didn't accomplish what you knew would be a good thing? Or, have you ever thought to say just the right words only to have the words die on the tip of your tongue, and then you spend the next week regretting never having said the words?

It's a terrible feeling. And, I hope not many of you have experienced it. But, truth be told many of us have. At some point everyone stumbles when it comes to our words and speaking them in a profitable manner.

So what do we do when failure happens?

The Bible is a good place to find out how we should act and think. At the same time, in its own way, it tells us how we screw up. But it's definitely not a condemning book. When you read James 3:2 you see that everyone, and I mean every one, messes up. Look at the author. He grew up with Jesus but didn't really believe in Him until after Jesus rose from the dead. (John 7:5; 1Corinthians 15:7; Acts 1:4)

Knowing man sins and makes mistakes frequently is common knowledge. There's no surprise there. Churchgoers and Christian believers are expected to be closer to perfect than non-churchgoers. That's an unwritten presumption. Which makes it more difficult when we fail because we not only let ourselves down, but others around us.

There's a saying I've only heard in Texas - "He needs to pick himself up by the bootstraps and get going." Meaning, no matter what comes your way, whether it's financial mishaps, illness, or missing an opportunity to do the right thing, just get moving. Don't let anything set you back.

There's actually a verse in the scriptures that says basically the same thing - Proverbs 24:16. I'd read it many times but until my pastor, Danny Rivers, pointed it out this past Sunday I hadn't given it much thought. The verse sums up everything I've said today. One, even a good Christian is going to fail more than one time. Two, we need to get back up and try again. Learn from what we did wrong and try, try again. Remember, there's always hope for change in the days ahead of us.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

All Things Are Possible

The last few weeks I have seen or heard of changes happening because of the amount of rain Texas has received. Some people may be focused on all the bad this rain has brought. Lives lost and damage done as the wall of water made its way to larger bodies of water.

And while there were innocent people who lost property in the wake of this wall of water I still see God's healing hand in this. "How?," you may wonder.

Let's pull back for a minute and think.

Creeks and rivers that had long ago lost their flow of water now carry water from one location to another.  Lakes that were dropping to their preexistence status are now in various stages of re-filling. Some have even filled completely.

Yes there was some destruction along the way to their filling up, but some of that was brought on by the lack of clean-up and preparedness of man. Trees and debris left near or in dried up creek beds added force to the demolition done as the water made its way south. Short cuts taken on houses and bridges added to the structures demise that then lead to further devastation downstream and the loss of lives.

Was this part of a wake up call? Yes, I believe so.

Many have been praying that the nation would turn their hearts and focus back to God. God knows in a time of trouble or devastation is when the majority of people seek Him out. It's also a time when He sees His people act for those in need. Now is the time for each church to do something, no matter how big or small. Send help through organizations or even make a trip. I am blessed to be a part of a church that has made one trip up there and plans yet another in the future.

What I'm trying to say is that sometimes the answer to our prayers comes in the destruction of a storm. We also need to see that God has provided a way to return the land to life at a time when many men were saying there was no possible way for lakes to be resuscitated, that they would never return to their full glory. To quote my dad, "Never say never." God has shown us His ability to do the impossible and to show He is in charge of making all things possible.