July 2016


When he was about two, my son decided that he would venture up to the top of our van. As best as I can piece the events together, when Mom and I had our backs turned, he proceeded to climb up on the bumper then the hood and windshield of the van until we looked up and he was sitting on the roof of the van. It happened so fast that we missed the whole thing. Then the trauma came. He knew he must come down, but was afraid to move. Going up was one thing, descending another thing altogether.

Daddy to the rescue: I stood facing him with my arms out-stretched and called to him, “Trust me. I’ll catch you.” Through tears and fears, he finally inched close enough for me to bring him safely into Daddy’s arms.

Sometimes it’s difficult to trust Jesus. We get ourselves into tricky situations—either by design or accident—and we need someone to bring us to safety. We need to trust Jesus. He comes to us, advises us of the right action plan, and waits with open arms to draws into safety. Will you trust him today?

 “Humble yorselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

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I measured a room this week. We are in the home study process for a forthcoming adoption, and we wanted to be sure that the room where our new family member will live meets the standards set up by our state.

We measure lots of things. One of our favorite things to measure is the growth of the children. Some entrepreneurs have capitalized on this desire to measure and created colorful measuring charts to hang on the wall (some are even in the shape of happy animals) so that we can keep periodic measurements of the kids. Some families have the kids stand at the same doorpost every year to mark with ink this year’s growth in height. This post will never see paint because it bears the family record.

Whenever we embark on a new task, we want to figure out just how to measure up. What score should I make? How many widgets must I produce? What are the expectations I must live up to?

Interestingly enough, in the one area where we want most to “measure up” we will always fall short. That is in the arena where eternal life is earned. I will never be good enough, smart enough, or rich enough to earn, trick, or buy my way into heaven. I will always fall short of the measuring standard because that standard is Jesus—Perfection Personified. That’s hard to take. But wait! There’s good news! Even though I don’t and can’t measure up, Jesus (the measuring stick Himself) is good enough—perfect enough—to lift me up to the standard. And He’s powerful enough to lift you up to the standard as well. With Jesus, we can measure up with room to spare! (And by the way, the room measured up with space to spare!)

 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24)

[My annual Post-VBS Post]

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

This has been the inner instruction for myself and all of the volunteer workers this week as we tried to keep up with the children in Vacation Bible School. We now have another successful year of VBS behind us. Children roamed the halls of the church, spent time in worship, ate interesting-looking snacks, and studied some of the fun and ancient Bible stories. Stories about Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, Nicodemus, a blind man, and the children, were highlighted by Jesus’ presence and understanding. During the week, seven children came to know Christ, we averaged 66 children for the week, and attenders gave over $300 to benefit the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services. In the midst of all of this we learned some new songs that linked our Bible stories to the over-all theme of “Submerged! Find the Truth Below the Surface.”

Interestingly enough, the new songs highlighting the old stories brought to my mind some of the old songs that I learned as a boy. You may remember some of them, too. Songs like: “I May never March in the Infantry,” “Deep and Wide,” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” helped me to learn some really deep truths about God, His Son, His love, and how He desires to be a part of even the most “insignificant” of lives.

That will lead us to a study of some of the great Sunday school songs from childhood. Hopefully, we will be inspired by some familiar verses over the next few weeks. In the meantime, breathe, breathe, breathe.

 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God”    (Psalm 20:7)

Many a Bible study teacher has confided in me that he feels he is learning more about applying the scripture to life than his students are. Or she might say that she discovers more studying for the lesson than she ever had when she simply participated in the class. I’ve found this to be true myself—discovering greater, deeper truths when I’m preparing for teaching than a cursory reading of the Bible would grant.

This week our halls will be filled with children who will be challenged to dig below the surface. Old familiar stories—Jesus & Zacchaeus, Jesus & the Woman at the Well, Jesus & Nicodemus, Jesus & a Blind Man, and Jesus & the Children—will be presented with the goal of finding more than the surface meaning behind the story. Our hope is that children will come to see that Christianity and life are much deeper than what they seem on the surface, and that Jesus cares about those deeper parts of our lives.

Perhaps with this in mind we can help our children (and maybe even challenge ourselves) to be more than just casual in our approach to living our faith in the real world. As Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key sang several years ago, “I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be a casual Christian/I don’t wanna live, I don’t wanna live a lukewarm life/Because I wanna light up the night/With an everlasting light/ I don’t wanna live the casual Christian life.”

“Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food.”   (Hebrews 5:12)

One of my favorite quips goes this way: “Two things I have learned in this life – there is a God, and I’m not Him.” Sometimes in this land where we relish freedom and individuality it is easy to forget that we are not as in control of life as we would like to think we are. We make decisions and change direction from time to time, often thinking that we are the ones driving our life. But scripture teaches us that there is more to our life than what the human eye can see. There is a greater control over what happens in life than our mere say-so.

An ancient term for this is providence. Used in the right manner, this word reminds us that we have a Creator and it is He who makes all the decisions in life. He is the one who makes even the choices that we make possible. In short, God is in control. This is a huge realization to make. First of all, because it relieves me of the responsibility to always make the right decisions. And also, because I can rest in the assurance that He will never make a wrong move.

As we celebrate our nation’s birthday this week, let us remember that God is in control of the little things and the big things that are in our life. You may have seen the video of Red Skelton as he explained the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag phrase by phrase. He closes with this sentiment: “Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, . . .?”

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides Me.”  (Exodus 20:2-3)