Jan 21

Stop Talking About It!

Photo Credit: Justin Morton

Photo Credit: Sarah Smith

This past weekend over 1,600 people from across the southeast attended an annual event in Savannah, TN known as Evangelism University, including 21 of us from Karns. This is always one of our group’s favorite events of the year. EU is a weekend devoted to training high school students to be more evangelistic among their peers.

Students are typically given a booklet to take home and study with a friend. Over the course of the weekend, the students are led through the course themselves so they will better understand how to teach the material to their friends who have never obeyed the Gospel plan of Salvation.

On Saturday night I got to thinking about what it would look like if everyone in attendance made just one disciple for Jesus this year. What an incredible impact such an action would have on the Lord’s Kingdom. Unfortunately, some of us who attended will choose to let multiple opportunities pass us by this year for one reason or another.

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).

Jesus has commissioned us to go into the world and make disciples. Notice this is not a suggestion for us to follow but rather a command for us to obey. What if all 1,600 who attended EU this year went back home and made one disciple for Christ? Just imagine the impact. Now, let’s not stop there. Imagine if each of you reading this made at least one disciple for Christ this year. How incredible would this be?

When are we, who claim to be disciples of Jesus, going to stop talking about being disciples and start acting like disciples? Jesus commanded us to GO, MAKE DISCIPLES and TEACH. What are we waiting for? There’s no better time than now. Jesus promised, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Let’s stop talking about making disciples for Christ and actually start making disciples. Why not make this the year we lead at least one lost soul to Jesus. Just imagine the impact!

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Jan 13

A Forgotten God

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Isn’t it amazing how quickly our attitudes can change depending on our circumstances? We can go from feeling happy and blessed one moment, to feeling sad and depressed the next. Too often we allow our disappointing and difficult circumstances to cause us to forget all the blessings from God (Jam. 1:17) we have experienced along the way in our journey.

Take Israel as an example. Israel was coming off one of the most miraculous moments in their history. They were celebrating and praising God for victory over Pharaoh and his army as they escaped Egypt and crossed the Red Sea unharmed (Exo. 14:30-15:2; 11, 18). And that’s when it happened, that’s when it always happens.

22 “Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.” And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” (Exodus 15:22-26)

The Israelites were wandering around the desert for three days without any water. If you have ever been really thirsty you can probably imagine how difficult this would have been. Without water, they would eventually die.

Finally, after three long days without water, they had a glimmer of hope. They came to Marah probably expecting another blessing, this time in the form of water being provided to them. Unfortunately, their hope was quickly defeated. When the people of Israel saw they were unable to drink the water, they started to complain. Oh, how quickly their attitude changed.

Have you ever felt like Israel probably felt at this moment in their history? Have you ever found yourself standing before water too bitter to drink? Standing in the midst of disappointing circumstances you really didn’t want to be in? It doesn’t matter who we are or even where we are in our lives, we have all experienced disappointing circumstances.

Like Israel, too often our response is to grumble and complain about the hand we have been dealt. And that’s when it happens. We get so focused on our disappointing circumstances we forget all God has done for us in the past. This is exactly what happened to Israel. Their forgetfulness led to a serious problem; a lack of faith and trust. You see, when we forget what God has done in the past, we will always fail to see what God can do in the future. 

The problem for Israel was they had forgotten God was on their side. Because of Him they walked out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea unharmed. Israel just needed to trust God and be obedient to His commandments and promises even in the mist of their current disappointing circumstances.

What about you? What disappointing circumstances are you currently facing that have caused you to forget all God has done for you in the past? Whatever the circumstances are, may I encourage you to place your trust in God and reflect on all He has done for you?

It’s interesting to me, had Israel only been more patient and trusting, they would have seen God had already made provisions for them.

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” (Exodus 15:27)

Elim was only a few miles away. Although they didn’t know what was going on, God did. He knew exactly what He was doing. Elim had twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. It was a place that would satisfy Israel’s need in a big way.

Friends, we all face our own Marah at some point. What’s important to remember is that if we will remain patient and trust God, He will lead us through Marah into the land of Elim; a place of great joy! After all, He is the great healer.

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Jan 07

When Your Greatest Teacher is a 3 Year Old

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It was only three short years ago that my life was completely turned upside down. Most of the time when this happens it’s never a good thing. Having your world turned upside down usually involves some aspect of heartache and pain, but not this time. On January 6th, 2012 at 8:19 a.m. God blessed Miranda and me with a little baby boy. Little did I know that this small bundle of joy would be one of my greatest teachers; a teacher from whom I would learn some of life’s most important lessons more fully.

As a parent you are suppose to teach your children, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). That was and still is my plan for Caden. However, in the three short years he has been a part of our lives, he has taught me much about some of life’s greatest lessons. He has taught me about love, patience, care, concern, affection, kindness, joy and a host of other things. But, perhaps the greatest lesson of all deals with God’s love.

I have always been told about how much God loves me. As a minister, I have spent a great amount of time telling others how much God loves them as well. However, until I had my own son, I don’t think I ever truly understood the depth of God’s love for me.

The apostle John wrote, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4:9-11).

God’s love for us as His children is unlike any kind of human love. I love my son with all my heart. And yet, as much as we love our children, it fails in comparison to the love God has for us as His children. His love for us propelled Him to offer His only son as a sacrifice for sin so we could have hope of salvation from the wages of our own sins. According to Paul, the wages of our sins is death (Rom. 6:23).

Friends, God loves YOU so much He was willing to offer up His only son to suffer humiliation, shame, torture and even death so you might be able to spend an eternity with Him. Jesus himself said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

God loves the whole world and every one living in therein. And yet, although His love is universal, His abounding love is very much personal towards each one of us. Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

The love of God is truly hard to comprehend. The closest I have come to comprehending God’s love for me is by examining the love I have for my one and only son. It is an amazing kind of love; a kind of love that would propel me to do anything for him and his well-being.

Yesterday my son Caden celebrated his 3rd birthday. I don’t know where the last three years have gone, but it has been the greatest three years of my life. I hope and pray God will bless our family with many more wonderful years together. With those years may God work through my son to teach me many more important lessons along the way, lessons I might otherwise never truly understand.

Happy 3rd birthday, Caden! Daddy loves you more than words can say.

 

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!