Dec 04

PLEASE…No More Pain: Longing for the Day of Glory

 

Photo Credit: pcgn7 via Compfight cc

                              Photo Credit: pcgn7 via Compfight cc

The last 4 days have been unusually difficult. It was just a little over 4 days ago that a beloved dentist and brother in Christ from my former days in Middle Tennessee lost his life while out on a morning bike ride with a friend. What was supposed to be a typical morning quickly turned into a nightmare for one family. To make matters worse for this family, their son was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident only a few months earlier and is still not fully recovered from his accident.

I did what many of you probably do when you hear of someone passing from this life, I prayed for the family and asked God to bring the comfort that only He can provide to this hurting family who now must spend the holidays without a husband, father and friend.

Then something else happened. Tuesday afternoon two Knox County buses were involved in an accident that sent nearly two dozen children to local hospitals and took the life of three others (an adult school aid and two young children). I am heartbroken for all those involved and their families. As a parent, I cannot begin to image the pain and agony those families must be feeling right now. They put their children on the bus that morning fully expecting to see them get off the same bus that afternoon. For some families, that never happened.

And just when I was starting to finish up my work for the day, something else happened. My wife informed me that our neighbors had just received some pretty devastating news. Only a couple of days earlier they were celebrating their son’s 11th birthday. Last night, they were praying for God to work a miracle in the life of this same son. Their son was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his skull. Due to the size and nature of this rapidly growing cancer, he will need to receive chemotherapy and radiation immediately before they can perform surgery to remove all the tumor.

As I arrived home last night, I hugged my wife while trying to fight back the tears. I didn’t say much, I just held her tight. Then I walked over to my son and picked him up. Usually daddy comes home and immediately chases him around the living room while he looks for a place to hide. On this night though, I didn’t want to chase my son. I simply wanted to hold him in my arms and never let him go.

As I sit here today and reflect on the events of the past couple of days, I am reminded of a few lessons I sometimes easily forget.

  1. Life is short. James tells us our lives are like a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away (Jam. 4:14). We need to cherish every moment we have with those we love because we never know when it will be the last moment we are able to spend with them.
  2. Satan is an ever-present entity whose main desire is to rip the faith we hold dear right out of our hearts. He wants nothing more than to bring sadness, heartache and pain into our lives in hopes that we will turn our backs on God. Remember Job? Satan told God the only reason Job was so faithful was because God had placed a hedge around him and his house. Then Satan went and attacked Job and his family in hopes of destroying his faith (Job 1:6-22). This is the same hope Satan has for you and me today. He wants nothing more than for us to turn our backs on our heavenly Father.
  3. God is always there for us. In our darkest hour, it’s easy for us to want to blame God for not being there for us and for not having our backs. The truth is God was, is and always will be there (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). He has never once left us alone, even during our darkest hours. When we hurt, God hurts. Likewise, when we rejoice, God rejoices. God loves you and me and will be there for us during every step of our journey (Rom. 8:38-39).
  4. The pain of this life is temporary. Just as our lives are but a vapor on this earth, so is the pain that comes with living here. We may hurt today, but for Christians the day is coming when God will remove all our pain and never allow us to feel pain again. John wrote, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Rev. 21:4). What a glorious day that will be!

I woke up this morning hoping the last few day were just a dream, but they weren’t. Each tragedy really happened and the families affected are still grieving this morning and will continue to grieve for a long time to come. Please join me in praying for these families in the difficult days that lie ahead. The road will be rough and they will certainly need our prayers.

Friends, may we all cherish the time we have with those we love while on earth and long for the day of glory where there will be no more heartache or pain ever again.

Nov 12

I Need You and You Need Me

                              Photo Credit: [phil h] via Compfight cc

Have you ever felt alone? If so, you understand how this one emotion can create a roller coaster of negative thoughts and feelings in one’s life. We hate being alone. Sure, there are times we probably prefer to be alone; after all, sometimes you just need to get away. However, at its very core, no one desires to be alone.

When God was finished creating the world and everything in it, He looked over it all and “Behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God was proud of His creation, at least, until He saw that Adam was alone. Then God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Although the context of this passage involves the marriage relationship, it’s apparent God didn’t intend for us to go though this life alone. God saw we would need help along the way and decided to take action.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we need other people. We need other people to help us with our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Yes, it is true…I need you and you need me. To get through this life with all its difficulties and trials, we need to rely on other people. God knew this was the case and gave us exactly what we needed, one another. I’m grateful God saw the blessing of having other people involved in our lives.

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Oct 07

Moved to Act

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Photo Credit: cristianbernal.com via Compfight cc

What would you do if your home was unprotected from outsiders? Would you just leave your home as is, or would you do whatever was necessary to ensure your home was protected even if it was inconvenient for you?

When Nehemiah learned of the situation in Jerusalem and how the city was still in ruins because the walls were broken down and the gates were destroyed by fire (Neh. 1:3), he was heartbroken. Those were his people and Judah was where his ancestors were buried (Neh. 2:3). He couldn’t just sit back, pretend he didn’t know what was happening and do nothing.

After months of prayer and fasting, Nehemiah went before the king and requested a leave of absence in order to travel hundreds of miles back to Judah and to rebuild (Neh. 2:1-8). With just a quick reading of the text it may be easy for us to miss the significance of Nehemiah’s request. First, he was willing to appear sad in heart before the king which was forbidden. Second, he was willing to make some pretty bold requests of the king for provisions (papers for safe passage and timber for the rebuilding project). Third, he was willing to give up a position many people would love to have in the king’s court. Being the cupbearer in the king’s court was a great honor and one only for those who were considered trustworthy. Most likely with this position came access to private information and considerable wealth (Neh. 5:14-18).

Why would Nehemiah want to put his life on the line and go before the king and make such bold requests? Why would Nehemiah allow his life to be inconvenienced by the happenings back in Jerusalem? It appears he was so deeply concerned about the people back in Jerusalem, he had to act.

What moves you to act? Are you moved to act out of concern for what’s going on around you or are you only moved to act when and if it is convenient? Nehemiah’s concern for Jerusalem and her people led him to take action in spite of the inconvenience it demanded. May we all be moved to act courageously, even when it’s an inconvenience to our lives.

Now that’s Something to Think About!

QUESTION: What are some things that move you to act even though it may cause an inconvenience to your life?

Aug 14

You’re in Good Company

Photo Credit: Justin Morton

Have you ever had a bad experience with someone solely because of something you taught from the Bible? As a preacher and teacher, this happens more often than most people realize. When someone starts a personal attack on one who publicly teaches the truths of God’s Word, it generally stems from the fact that they do not like what is being taught.
Remember the prophets of old? Their message was never popular. Most of them were persecuted and some even killed because of the message they delivered.

  1.  Elijah had to run for his life from the wicked queen Jezebel (I Kgs. 19:1-8).
  2. Most scholars believe Isaiah was sawn in two (Heb. 11:36-38).
  3. Jeremiah was beaten, cursed and thrown in prison by his own people (Jer. 11:18-12:6; 20:1-6; 32:1-3; 38:1-13).
  4. John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod (Matt. 14:1-12).
  5. All of the apostles are believed to have died for their faith with the exception of the beloved apostle John.

Although most people I know, including myself, have never been persecuted to the extent of the prophets mentioned above, standing for the truth and presenting that truth sometimes comes with a price (2 Tim. 3:12). Some people will personally attack you and your family when you teach on a topic that hits too close to home (divorce, homosexuality, abortion, priorities, parenting, attendance, etc.).
Paul said, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
It is a given, people who publicly teach God’s Word will often be ostracized because of the message they present. Instead of backing down or stopping all together, our job is to endure the suffering and criticism that comes and continue to preach the truths of God’s Word. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:10-12). Remember, next time you are attacked because you teach God’s Word, you’re in good company.

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Jul 17

More Than A Fan

Photo Credit: Justin Morton

Photo Credit: Justin Morton

Who are you a fan of? The word fan means, “Enthusiastic admirer.” With that definition in mind, obviously some of us are fans of certain sports teams, while others may be fans of actors/actresses, authors or musicians. We can be fans of pretty much anything we choose.

 
Most of us have probably heard of Jesus for about as long as we can remember. From the time we were young toddlers, our parents and/or grandparents probably took us to worship and taught us about Jesus and the sacrifice He made on our behalf. Many of us have probably done the same for our children and grandchildren. We have grown up hearing about Jesus and all the wonderful things He has done for us, thus turning us into big fans. The problem with this is that some of us are nothing more than fans of Jesus.

 
When reading through the Gospel accounts, it is evident some people followed Jesus simply because of the amazing miracles He had done (Jn. 6:2). Their motivation to follow Jesus was centered on the wrong things. They weren’t really followers of Jesus the Christ, they were only fans. Eventually, when things got tough, they turned away from their fandom (Jn. 6:60-66).

 
What about us today? Are we truly followers of Jesus or are we just fans? Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). Fans never really take the field to follow after Jesus; they just stand on the sidelines and cheer. Jesus doesn’t want cheerleaders, He wants followers.

 
Friends, Jesus is inviting you to do more than just stand on the sidelines and cheer. He is inviting you to take the field and be a part of the game. Jesus is inviting you and me to take up our cross daily and follow after Him (Lk. 9:23).

 
Are you a follower of Jesus or just a fan? If being a Christian doesn’t interfere with your life on a daily basis, perhaps you are nothing more than just a fan. It’s past time to get out of the stands and follow Jesus. He needs more followers and less cheerleaders.

 

Now that’s Something to Think About!