Tuesday, January 27, 2009

God reminds me of His faithfulness.

’ll never forget the day that we found out that we were gong to have our first baby. I was only 20 years old and my wife was 18 and we had only been married a little over four months. I was stationed at the Naval Hospital in Millington, Tenn. and making $199.00 per month. We lived in military housing and our duplex was among approximately 10 duplexes and was segregated from all other military housing. We almost lived in the back door of the hospital. In fact it was much nicer than all the other housing and we were blessed to live there. At that time, the hospital was an old World War 11 barracks type of building and had several wings which spread out from a main building. The maternity wing was almost directly in line with our house. We were very excited about becoming a Mom and Dad and I’m sure there were times that both of us were also somewhat afraid but none the less we were happy just knowing that Mom was healthy and every time she went for a check up, the report was our baby girl was also healthy. I remember going to Liberty Market close by and buying a blue outfit because we didn’t know at that time if it was a boy or girl. It only cost like less than $2.00 but that was enough with the salary I made. Seems like those 9 months was like 9 days and it was time for having that precious baby. Being a Military Hospital, and also being many years ago, they kept both Mom and baby in the hospital longer than they do today. I’m telling you all this to say, I remember the day after our daughter was born, that I had gotten off work, having stopped by the maternity ward to see my precious wife and precious daughter. Nothing unusual, just the regular talk and being anxious about when they can come home and how that will go. I’ve never been a Dad before and my wife had never been a Mom before and here we were, Mom and Dad and all that comes with it. A precious little girl with glows of auburn strains of hair. Beautiful by anyone’s point of view and especially her Mom and Dad. I went home that day thinking about what can I do to get ready for this new way of life. Everything had changed in an instant. One minute Mom is pregnant and the next here is a precious little girl and I must say both her and her Mom were beautiful to me. But what can I do to get ready. I could clean the house and I did as best I knew how. I remember going to the bedroom that we had decorated for our precious little girl and inside her bed was a baby rattle. I picked it up and made it make it’s noise and for some reason, I just started crying. I can’t tell you why, but I remember crying almost uncontrollably. We had just received the greatest gift any Mom and Dad could ever hope to receive and she was coming home tomorrow. I was scared to say the least and I wanted disparately to be the best Dad in the world, but I was just so scared. I also had to go to the grocery store because my Mom and Dad were coming down to help us out and perhaps even give us some pointers on babies and how to do the things we had never had to do before.

Yesterday, I met with a young couple who had their baby with them. It was a boy and he had blue outfit on and he began to cry and as he did, his Mom picked him up and a baby rattle feel out of the blanket that was around him. It was the same baby rattle that I had picked up the day after our daughter was born. It had the same design and same Y as a handle. I can’t tell you why but all of this came back to me immediately and it was “da-ja vu”.

Why did I remember vividly all that I have written about this? Why after 43 years, did my mind remember as if it happened yesterday? If you knew me, you would know that I don’t remember yesterday in most cases. Well, I believe it was God who caused me to remember this because He wanted me to just thank Him again for the blessings of my children. You see, as I wiped away the tears, that day in her little bedroom, I promised God that I would do the very best I could to be a good Dad but that I knew I was going to need His help and I begged him for it. You see, I didn’t live up to my part of that bargain, but God did and He just wanted to remind me how faithful He had been to me and my precious family. Yes, that precious auburn hair little girl is now grown and has 3 children of own and her oldest son is scheduled to get married in May and perhaps they will have children and Lisa and Mitchell will have to go and spend some time with them just to show them how to take care of something they’ve never had to do before and I’m trusting that they too will commit to God to be the best Mom and Dad that they can be. I know his Mom and Dad are the very best because she is that little auburn haired girl with a little blue outfit and a rattle with the Y handle.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's our real problem?

Peace, saftey, and economic prosperity are all threatened in the world's current crises. Peace seems so far away when we speak of it since we are presently ingaged in two different wars. Wars and rumors of wars are everywhere we look. Israel is engaged in warfare with enemies bent on eliminating them off the face of the earth.Terriorism seems to be a way of life for many who claim their hatred and desire to kill comes from their God whom they worship. Uncalm is the by-word of the day when we think of all those in this world who are being killed on a daily basis just because they are different, poor and without protection. Safey, even within the U.S. is becoming a forgotten memory and now we are learning to live with the possibility of being shot on any given street within America all because some have and some don't have. In some cases it is because some are greedy and in some cases it's because some desire to have without the process of working for their needs. Economic prosperity went out the window in a period of about 6 weeks and many have lost their entire savings and many their entire retirement funds.

To say we as a nation are stressed and distressed is the condition of many (statistics say 3 out of 4 people)of our citizens. Many are asking the question, Doesn't God know what's going on and if He does, why don't He do something? I read a statement the other day that says it as well as anyone could conclude concerning the subject of peace, saftey and economic prosperity. This person said, "What the world needs to realize that the world's main problem is that it's inhabited by people like us sinners in need of redemption." That's true and yet many are still asking the questions of what can I do and where do I turn, so here are some comforting scriptures that can help bring our present situation into perspective and bring about comfort.

Life on Earth is short, prosperity is fleeting: Psalms 39:4-5
God does not change: Hebrews 13:8
Circumstances do change: Proverbs 27:1
Be diligent to look ahead and plan ahead: Titus 3:14
Be a wise financial steward: Romans 13:8
Seek and heed wise counsel: Proverbs 12:15
Don't fail to plan or to work because of laziness or indifference: Eccl. 10:18
Make your focus treasures in Heaven, not on earth: Matthew 6:19-24
Don't trust in riches and don't be greedy: Proverbs 11:28
Trust God; don't worry; be at peace: John 14:27
Be content, even if you end up with less than you're used to having: Proverbs 30:7-9
Remember God is the owner of all: Psalms 24:1-2
Remember God will require an account of us as His stewards: Romans 14:12
Remember God is sovereign over all thiings: Proverbs 19:21
Be generous with the needy; graciously share what you have now and in hard times:
James 1:27
Face trials and hardships with eternal perspective: Psalms 114:7
Remember God builds Character in times of trials: 1 Peter 4:12-13
Practice generosity: 2 Corinthians 8:13-15
Remember our true home is not in this world but in Heaven: John 14:1-3
Never forget, Jesus is coming back. 2 Peter 3:10-14

It will be hard to help someone else see our need for trusting in Almighty God if we ourselves are struggling with the day to day trials of a world that is lacking peace, saftey and in economic peril.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let me hear what you think!

This morning, I've been able to study some for our men's conference that happens on the last Friday and Saturday of January and the first Friday and Saturday of Feb. The event has gotten so big that we have had to break it in two in order to serve everybody who wanted to come. We anticipate 12 to 14 thousand men. Now that's a lot of steaks to prepare and a lot of people to move around in a timely fashion even at Woodstock. I will be speaking on "The Temptation of Acquisition" which describes our antiquated theory of acquisition which changes our hearts from being a generous heart to one of greed. I was doing so well when my phone rang. My secretary was holding all my calls, but here is one that came through. On the other end was a women in rage. She wanted blood and she wanted it now. It just so happened that she had talked to one of my employees who didn't give her the answer that she wanted and she was just giving this person down the road. My flesh wanted to tell her some fleshly things, but believe it or not, I just remained calm, cool, collected and when she got through, I did what Proverbs says to do, I gave her a soft answer. Well, she wasn't having any part of soft answers, she continued to want blood and she wanted it now. I can't repeat some of the things she said, but I can assure you that everything and I mean everything was down grading and demeaning and harsh and terrible and devilish. She had nothing good to say about this person. Again, I tried the soft answer approach and I had already made up my mind, that if it didn't work this time, I was going to give her the "Hobbs" approach and you can only imagine what that is. Well, she did quiet down considerably and I assured her that I felt she had only misunderstood and that I would discuss this issue with a particular employee. I know this employee front and back and there's no way this person would say the things she accused them of. She didn't like what she heard because she wanted this person to agree with her opinion and thinking and when they did not. She let them have it. After hanging up, I wanted to call her back and unload on her but I knew that wasn't right and it would only allow Satan to have front seat attention and I didn't want that. I prayed for her and for my employee and I went back to my study. As I was searching for a particular scripture, I believe God allowed me to turn to Mark 7:15-23. There it was!. This women's heart, not her mouth was defiled. Her heart had gotten hard and it's no wonder why she misunderstood the employee. It's the same hard heart that cause all the other sins which are mentioned in these verses. Then immediately, I was reminded of Jeremiah 17:10 Where God says the heart is deceitful above A L L things, who can know it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart and I give to every man according to the fruit of his or her doing. It wasn't my position to unload on this women, it is God's position to do this and He says He will. Well, I just wanted to tell you the the Bible is alive and the Bible never lies or deceives but the Bible always leads us to right and to Christ. Hope this encourages you to serve God and love His Word. I'm also reminded of Beth Moore's statement, "A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek God first to find her." Wow, what a statment and for us men, we should be able to say the same thing about us, by just changing the wording around to men rather than women.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why gunnysack Shepherds?

Yes, I know that Christmas is over and for certain reasons, I'm kind of glad. But in reality, Christmas is never over because if it were not for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Christ, we would not have Good Friday and or Easter. We all know the importance of those two celebrative Holidays. I'm intrigued by the Shepherd and why on earth did Almighty Sovereign God give the announcement of the birth of the Messiah to lowly gunnysack shepherds? Why not to priests and or to Kings? Who were lowly Shepherds that they should be eyewitnesses of God's glory and receive history's greatest birth announcement? During the time of the Patriarchs, shepherding was a noble occupation. Shepherds are mentioned early in Genesis 4:20. Jabal is called the father of those living in tents and raising livestock. In nomadic societies, everyone whether sheikh or slave was a shepherd. The wealthy sons of Isaac and Jacob tended flocks. Gen. 30:29; 37:12 and Jethro, the priest of Midian, employed his daughters as shepherdesses. Exodus 2:16 In Christ's day, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers. Only Luke mentions them. When the twelve tribes of Israel migrated to Egypt, they encountered a lifestsyle foreign to them. The Egyptians were agriculturalists and the farmers despised shepherding because sheep and goats meant death to crops. In fact the first murder mentioned in the Bible was a farmers resentment of a shepherd. Gen 4:1-8 I could go on and on how Shepherds were looked down on, until a young boy named David, who tended sheep ,also became a King. But later during the days of the Prophets, sheep herders symbolized judgement and social desolation.
Smug religious leaders maintained a strict caste system at the expense of shepherds and other common folk. Shepherds were officially labeled "sinners" a technical term for a class of despised people.
Into this social context of religious snobbery and class prejudice, God's Son stepped forth. How surprising and significant that Father God handpicked lowly, unpretentious shepherds to first hear the joyous news: "It's a boy, and He's the Messiah!" What an affront to the religious leaders who were so conspicuously absent from the divine mailing list. Even from birth, Christ moved among the lowly. It was sinners, not the self-righteous, He came to save. Mark 2:17
Today, Pastors who shepherd their flocks are immortalized by the Lord Jesus when He said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11 Christ is also the great Shepherd Hebrews 13:20 and the chief Shepherd 1 Peter 5:4 No greater illustration so vividly portrays His tender care and guiding hand.
Let's never forget that it was a handful of shepherds, marginalized by the social and religious elite, who were chosen to break the silence of centuries, telling of the Messiah's birth. Happy Birthday again Jesus!