As a teenager, my youth group and I sang a chorus that spoke of the heart that we each (as Christians) desire to develop:

Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus

Anywhere He leads me I will follow.

Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus

Anywhere He leads I’ll go.

 

Across the river, down through the valley,

Or if it be on the mountaintop.

I’ll go, Lord, anywhere You want me

Take me here am I.

It is this heart, surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ that brings about a relationship where God treats us as His children. Yes, He loves everyone because we are His creation (that’s why He sent His Son—see, John 3:16), but those who follow Jesus are God’s children—bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus. When we follow Jesus (and so become God’s children), God provides care, direction and protection for us. I encourage you to follow Jesus—anywhere He leads you—and trust God to lead, guide, and protect you as you follow Him.

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”   —John 1:12

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Today is Mother’s Day. It is a day that is made special by honoring those special women who have made life special to us. Some of those women have borne different titles in our lives. Some have had special nicknames. Some have, very readily, answered to some form of the name “Mother” in our lives. Whether they are the mother who gave us birth, the mother who gave us nurture, or just a mother figure to us, they are important. This is why it is important for us to stand up in honor of the mother (or mothers) in our lives.

Personally, I have known a variety of mothers in my life—from two grandmothers who taught me love, to some church mothers who helped my parents keep me on a track not only to salvation, but to striving for God’s best in my life. I honor some of those today: Mrs. Gertie, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Moore, and Mrs. Moore (yes, there have been three over the years), Momma Hedge, and Mrs. Kate, and I am sure to be leaving out an army.

I also wish, on this special day to honor my Mother. She not only gave me birth, and a name, but she taught me about Jesus and all that He had in store for me. She loved me even on my unlovable days, she gave me a love for learning and laughter. Thanks, Mom, you have always inspired me.

Finally, I would also like to honor the mother who stands in the gap for my children, caring and protecting them as they need, and helping them to become the best decision-makers that they can be. Thanks for the greater help you are to me than you could possibly know.

“Here children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her.”   —Proverbs 31:28

Long ago, I heard some unnamed evangelist say, “I asked Jesus how much He loved me, and He stretched out His arms and died.” In the midst of that sentiment we learn a lot about how God cares for us. He cares for our eternity, and He cares for our here and now.

Because He cares so much He made provision for our future when we couldn’t afford the price. Yes, God is that loving Heavenly Father. So, I thought that it might be appropriate for us to talk about how much He cares for our earthly existence as well.

He knows when our world is turned so upside down that we can’t find “up” any more. James Taylor used to sing, “When this old world starts getting me down/And people are just too much for me to face/I climb way up to the top of the stairs . . . On the roof it’s peaceful as can be . . .” (“Up On the Roof” by Gerry Goffin and Carole King) And the song only gets it partly right. Whenever we find ourselves overwhelmed by the world, it is good to look up, but not just to see the stars up in the sky, but to address the God who dwells in heaven.

Since He knows all of the goings on, He can tell when we are struggling. He wants to help us find the right solution to our times of despair and despondency. Our first line of defense is prayer—communication with the God who cares for us. As we entrust our cares into His care, He leads us into the place where we can find relief.

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”   —John 3:16

Several years ago, I was reading through the Sunday comics and came across a Ziggy strip. The artist, for this particular Sunday, had combined all six panels into one in which he had painted a most beautiful and realistic looking sunrise picture. The magnificence was breath-taking and made one think of the splendor of watching the real thing happen on a crisp spring morning. Tucked away into the corner of the panel stood Ziggy with his little dog beside him and the simple caption, “Go God!”

That is the manner of God. When He shows Himself it is a spectacular event—something that cannot be duplicated in the lab or on the computer screen. Even with the master artist’s brush, we find it hard to capture the everything, the anything, of all that God is able to do. And what He can do, will do, and has done all does one thing: prove that He is God!

Bible accounts are filled with God events that prove He is God and there is no other: He said, “Light!” and there where only void and darkness had been, light! In a race for life and death, God opened the sea so a multitude of Hebrew slaves could escape an angry Pharaoh. In the heat of battle, when the another generation of Israelites needed just a few more hours to win the day, God made the sun stand still. And when a king needed proof that God was greater than even he (the mighty king) was, God kept the fire at bay, allowing three young men to escape the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke on them.

God wants everyone to know that He is God. And if we will pay attention, He will flood the mountains with His presence.

As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. 3So Moses thought, “I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?”   —Genesis 3:2-3

Most of us would probably crumble under the load suffered by Job. You remember Job. In the Bible when his story is told, it goes something like this:

Servant 1: Raiders came and stole all the livestock.

Servant 2: Your enemies burned all the crops.

Servant 3: Bad storm destroyed the house where all your kids wore—no survivors.

In fact, the only survivors of each of the tragedies was the one servant who got away to tell the tale. And then, just to make matters worse, festering sores surfaced on his body. The once healthy, wealthy, God-fearing man faced a mountain of adversity that left him broken in body and bankbook.

How can you face such adversity? Whether you do or do not know the source? My best advice is to trust the One who is always faithful. When we remain faithful, we always find God to be faithful. The lesson that we learn from Job is to stay faithful even in the face of adversity. And what we fi.]nd is that God is faithful even when our adversaries seem to win the day.

(And just as a reminder, at the end of the story Job was restored with interest—from his crops to his cattle to his children.) [To read the story of Job’s tragedy, see Job 1 & 2 in the Old Testament; for his restoration story, read Job 42:10-17.]

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.   — 1 Chronicles 16:34

As He so often does, God showed up again a few months ago as we were in the process of finalizing our second adoption. We had received instructions from our adoption agency and had made travel arrangements according to the timetable they had sent us. We arrived in country as planned and then, on a daily basis, learned that the timetable we had been given was more or less wishful thinking. With each passing day, appointments we had on our schedule were delayed, and we began to think that our travel arrangements as well as the funds we had arranged would need to be changed and stretched to accommodate the delays.

The outcome was a God’s-timing thing, though. While our meetings in city number one of a two-city requirement did not happen as planned, we were able to check out city-one hotel on time without extra charge, and into city-two hotel on the prescribed arrival day. And although my anxiety continued to soar throughout the process, we were even able to head back to the USA (child Number Five in hand) a day early.

The lesson we learn (again and again) in life’s arena is that God has the most impeccable timing of anyone. The biggest struggle that most believers (even preachers) have is to wait on His timetable. When we follow His calling, trust in His leading, and hope in His providing, we are never disappointed, and often overwhelmed.

 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”   — Isaiah 55:8

One of the most difficult decisions I ever made in my life was the choice to become a minister. I had grown up in the home of a pastor. I knew firsthand what kind of demands such a life would make. In fact, during the course of my developmental years I often wavered between becoming a police officer and a lawyer (people from both those professions are now groaning over the fact that the other was even a choice). I really didn’t want to have anything to do with being a preacher. Again, first-hand I made note that my father, as a pastor, belonged to the entire congregation. I had to share my daddy with everyone, while my friends only had to share theirs if they had siblings.

So, when God began to call me into His service, I answered with, “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Father. But you don’t want me to be a pastor, do you?” As it turns out, I wouldn’t give anything for my years of service in the ministry. As the old hymn proclaims, “I serve a Risen Savior!” and that makes serving as a pastor more than worthwhile. You see, God provides the message, the protection, and the provision for me as I serve Him with my heart, soul, and body. That is something that kept the prophets of old serving as well, I am convinced.

Interestingly enough, the satisfaction of service to God does not have to be relegated to “professional Christians” like your pastor, or the missionaries who live overseas. No, His blessings are extended to any and everyone who will commit their lives to His service—and He will provide for you as you serve Him daily, too!

He who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed.  — Psalm 118:26a