Faith


“The wise man built his house upon the Rock/The wise man built his house upon the Rock . . . And the house on the Rock stood fast.” Remember those words from the children’s song? Based on Matthew 7:24-27, this little song is a reminder that when we go to build a building (or a wall, or any structure for that matter), if we want to last we build on a firm foundation.

In matters of faith there is only one firm foundation, only one strong stone on which to build our house—and that foundation is Jesus. Yes, people place their faith in many things. In the 1920s, many people placed their faith in a strong and growing economy. As the ‘20s turned into the ‘30s, the formerly rich and famous discovered just how feeble that foundation was.

People also repeatedly put their faith in other people. Part of the problem with this is that we may attach our belief to the wrong person (or group of persons). At any rate, people have a tendency to act like, well, people; and not being infallible or perfect, people will constantly fail in our expectations.

Others can be found to put their faith in systems—political, economic, educational, religious, and the list goes on. Systems are a man-made commodity, and since men are flawed, flaws find their way into systems. At a certain point all systems breakdown (this is why we are constantly waiting on our smart phones to upgrade their operating system).

And so, if you want to find a foundation to build your faith on that will not fail, look to Jesus. He is the firm foundation that will shore up your faith when the doubts and fears arise.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”   —Ephesians 2:8-9

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When people ask me who or what inspires me, some of my first thoughts turn to Mother. There is just something utterly inspiring about a mother. In general, many people are inspired by the thought of mothers, if not by an actual mother. Mothers are there from the very beginning of a person’s life. They are present at the birth, present for the nurturing, present for the good times, present for the bad.

Often, we have been inspired by a mother-figure. In the Christian life, we are inspired, encouraged, and challenged by the life of the little nun who was known as Mother Teresa for all of the good she did in life, for the Christ-like example she lived, and for her ever-present smile.

Personally, I have been inspired by my own mother repeatedly. It was my mother’s influence that led me to believe in Christ as a little child. It was her commitment that helped me stick with it many times when I wanted to give up. I have also been inspired by the mother of my children (I call her my Blushing Bride). She is the epitome of love and devotion. She hurts when our children hurt, she cries when they cry, she laughs when they laugh, and she even finds time to correct them when they get out of line.

What is the best way to honor these inspirational ladies today on Mother’s Day? Lend a hand to someone in need; tell a friend about Jesus; walk with Jesus and share the love.

Happy Mother’s Day!

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  —Paul, 2 Timothy 1:5

My son is easily distracted. He is distracted when eating—by everything on the table, everyone in the room, and every sound that happens within earshot. Even more, he is a distracted walker. I often find myself holding more tightly to his hand and reminding him to watch where he is going when a school bus, or a friend, or a stranger happens by. More often than not he is looking to the side or behind him instead of paying attention with his eyes on his destination. The big problem with not looking where one is going is that it may cause the person in motion to run into another person, or perhaps a tree or pole that is in the path, or even step into a hole or obstacle that is in the way perhaps even suffering injury because of inattention.

Driving is also an example of the need to look ahead. Looking away from the road—to read, text, do your makeup, (you fill in the blank)—for even one second can have tragic results. So much disaster has been caused by distracted driving prompting many states to create motor vehicle laws to cover it—some general mentioning the sweeping category of “distracted driving”; while others are specifically dealing with our nation’s addiction to handheld electronic devices that we just can’t seem to put down.

Living the Christian life is just so. There are numerous things to distract the believer, a whole mountain of events, people, and places to get us off-track. Even so, it is important for the follower of Christ to, well, follow Christ. In order to do this we must face forward, pay attention to our Leader, and watch where we are going.

“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”  —Paul, Philippians 3:13b-14

In math classes in school they still teach a concept known as “greater than/less than.” This is not the technical name for the concept, but as children we learn that some quantities are greater than others.

The book of Hebrews is a testimony to this concept on a much deeper level than what quantity is greater or less than another quantity. In the book of Hebrews we find that Christ is greater than every other person or thing that we know.

The prophets of Old Testament days were important. They had a direct line to God. He spoke to them and gave them a message that was always true. As a group, these prophets were revered long after their death because of the intimacy they had with God. But the book of Hebrews teaches us that the prophets of old had nothing on Jesus. As closely as these men walked with God, as spiritual as they were, and as important as they were to the history of Israel, Jesus walked closer; He has a greater spirit; He is more important to the history of the World.

Jesus is the great Greater Than.

 “[T]hat at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” (Philippians 2:10a)

Hardly anyone does anything without the aid of the Internet these days. For someone to get on-line to do research, check email, or a number of other tasks, he must have a “service provider.” When the provider has problems the access to the internet goes down. And in our area, I find that my provider is not always adequate to the task I am doing.

Healthcare has jumped on the “provider” bandwagon, too. We no longer get to see our doctor, but must make appointments with our “primary care provider” which is often a group that has been approved by our insurance—that’s how healthcare providers get paid. This kind of system makes it cumbersome to need and see a physician.

There is one provider who never lets us down, though. God has chosen to be the provider for all the needs of mankind—He just wants us to receive this provision. He does all the work. As the hymn writer said, “Have faith in God, He provides for His own.”

 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

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)

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)

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