January 2017

In the devotional book, Voices of the Faithful, a missionary shares how her prayer in the midst of a dark-of-night burglary (that could have and probably would have ended in her physical violation and even death) was answered by God striking fear into the hearts of her assailants. Although bruised and scratched from the encounter, she remained alive with her purity intact. Her faith had grown to the point that she shares, “Even if I had not been delivered, He is still trustworthy and faithful.” (p. 33)

Where is our faith and commitment today? Are we ready, in the middle of a dark moment, to pray for deliverance? Even more, can my commitment to God hold fast if He chooses a different path for me than deliverance as I understand it?

Graciously, most of us will not be face to face with death by a violent means. My prayer is that we, in even our simply uncomfortable tests of commitment, will join this Christian worker in the understanding that God is trustworthy and faithful even when deliverance this side of Glory does not look like we expect it to look.

 “But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel 3:18


[Please note: this article is a follow-up to last week’s. I have been posting to coincide with weekly sermons at FBC Mulberry Grove, and due to a slipping accident, a dear friend preached in my stead last Sunday. To provide continuity, I will be preaching “All Things through Christ” from Philippians 4 that I had planned for Jan. 15. This article is related to that message (as was last week’s post).]

As I have paid attention to our national history being made this week with the instatement of our 45th president, it dawned on me that as divisive and derisive as our nation’s politics has become, neither our outgoing leader nor our incoming administrator has the capability of “saving” our country—not even from ourselves.

Regardless of my ideology, or your theology, our true help comes from a place of higher standards, a Person of higher power. If this life is to find meaning; if the tough questions are to be answered; if any good is to ever be seen on this or the other side of eternity, our hope must find this higher resting place: God Almighty.

So many things are out of our reach; so many goals unattainable; so many dreams unachievable. And then there is Jesus. As we step out into the unknown thing we call “future” let us hold a firm grasp in the hand that holds more firmly onto us. Trust in Jesus for a future. Trust in God to be your Guide.

  “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Jesus, in answer to the question, “Who can be saved?” Luke 18:27

Drawing a straight line is really kind of difficult to do. Most of us can take a pencil and paper and draw something fairly close to a straight line, but if examined in detail, we’d find that the pencil moved and wriggled a bit in our hand as we worked on our line. How can we make it work out better then? With a little help from a ruler it can be done. Just place the ruler on top of the paper and keep the point of the pencil up next to the edge of the ruler, and our shakiness is removed.

Sometimes we need a little help to do the things that need to be done. Even the Lone Ranger really wasn’t alone—he had help from his faithful Indian companion Tonto.

God, who is in the habit of giving extraordinary assignments to His people, knows that we are often shaky in our attempts to accomplish the tasks that are handed to us. But we need not fear because the God who made the assignments also gives us help—more than a little help for that matter. He has equipped us with the talent and skill to fit the assignment. He has granted us friends and co-laborers to help ease the task. But best of all, He has determined to help us complete the assignment given, and all we have to do is ask for His aid!

  “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  – Philippians 1:6

[There is a message that is centered on Christ Jesus. It is the same today as it was 2000 years ago. It will continue to be the same 2000 years hence. What is my role as a Christian and a pastor in this ever-changing, always-corrupt world in which we live? To make that message known, to make the message clear, to shine a spotlight on the relevance of Jesus Christ to every age.]

As a high school senior, I was assigned to memorize the preamble to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in old English. Although it was English it looked and sounded like gibberish to me. Reading and reciting the words meant nothing to me—just like my dad’s toolbox. Today we should make the message make sense for those around us to hear and understand.

When I was growing up, I thought that my dad could do anything. And rarely was I ever disappointed when I asked him for help or even just to do something for me. He was what many people would call a “jack of all trades.” He could figure things out; he could make things work; he could take things apart and put them back together again. He just knew stuff.

While I have not inherited his ability to work on machinery, and I don’t often have the patience to try and figure out how something works, I can take a lesson from my father’s life. That lesson is: do what is necessary. As we walk through this world living our Christian lives, it is important for us to figure out how to make the message plain for the world to hear.

In our world today, people are not hearing the Word of God, not because the Word is no longer relevant, but because we’ve packaged the Word in a way that does not get through.

  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  – Hebrews 13:8

[My prayer for you, dear reader, is that 2017 will be a monumental year in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ–whether that means that this is the year that you trust Him fully, or follow Him more completely, may Jesus be the cause and effect for your life. Happy New Year!]

I love to read. Some would even call me “bookish” and that’s all right by me. There is just something about turning the page of a book. It is satisfying to close one chapter and start another—to complete one text and begin a new one. What wonder the memories of the old book provide, and what mystery lies ahead with the new?

Today we are turning the page on 2016, and beginning to consume 2017. All of the ups and downs of the previous year are but a memory. The new year stands before us fresh, untried, and unsullied by the marks of time.

I would like to encourage you today to determine a couple of things for the new year before us; things that are completely up to you. Sure, you have no control over the accidents and happenings of the year. You may have an idea or a plan, but there are certain things that are out of your control. So, to make 2017 one of the best years ever, let me suggest that you first decide that you will dedicate each day to the service of Christ Jesus. It’s something that He wants, and it would allow you to have fewer regrets and more positive outcomes at the end of the day.

Secondly, might I suggest that you shower each day of the new year with prayer. Not only when you know of or hear about a special need, but really praying, every day, as often as you think to pray. Then when the next new year rolls around, let us look back and see what kind of difference these two simple decisions have made over 2017.

  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18