Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
This was the first time that I cooked 40 chicken breasts all at once. I was rather proud of that! They all fit on the KFC BBQ pit at once too. I had forgotten a light to see the chicken, so by the end it was hard to see if the chicken was completely done or not. It all worked out fine and we praise God for the fun we had last night.
I wonder how much energy we are going to put into walking with the Lord today. Are we going to think about all the details? How are we going to decorate our lives with Christ today? What supplies do we need to gather? Ask for God's Spirit to guide you closer to him today.
Monday, October 29, 2007
They displayed excellence in a way that I have not experienced in a while. From us driving up to knowing where we should go to what they provided for Kayla to their worship to their use of drama to their use of many different people and talents. I was overwhelmed at how they were giving God their best! We will certainly tell them about our experience yesterday morning. It was refreshing.
I have since been thinking about excellence. I don't give God my best all the time. Perhaps because I am not encouraged to this end, perhaps because I can skate by on God-given talent rather than push for excellence in areas in which I am not gifted, or perhaps because I think God will take me just as I am and give him my mediocre self.
I need to pursue excellence in my organization skills. I need to push for excellence in how present I am with my wife. I need to press on toward excellence in raising Kayla and Tyler. Excellence needs to be my focus in my preaching and teaching. God demands all of me. He desires me to be in the business of newness at my very core; he wants excellence.
Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of this calling toward perfection. It is refreshing to experience it anew. I know that I can only do this for a certain amount of time by my own power. For this reason I need your power to sustain me. Help me wake up every morning with the newness that your excellence brings. Empower me with your spirit to be excellent.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Seasons come and seasons go. It is a relief that the whole year is not the same season. Makes me think of the value of the seasons of our spiritual life. It is a relief that there is a season for what might look like spiritual death, but we know that new life will come in due season. Praise the Lord for the insight he has brought my way today.
Keep me close, Lord, as I experience the seasons.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Keep learning new things..especially spiritually. God is in the business of making all things new. Allow him to work today.
Monday, September 24, 2007
A crazy thing happened to me that showed me how sectioned off my life has become in regard to the prison system in Huntsville, Texas. Here is what happened.
I was on campus (like I said). I heard a college student run up to another student yelling about what was happening. I heard this student talk about inmates out, everyone on lock-down, shotgun, hostage, still happening, let's go find out more. The other student receiving the information said, "Hell yeah! Let's go!" as he grabbed his bag and they ran off together.
My first thought was, "Wow! I guess they have it under control so I don't need to worry about it too much." I looked around and briefly thought that it wasn't too serious because they haven't done anything on campus to get people to leave. The prisons have been on lock-down before, and nothing big happened. I heard the helicopter, continued to sit there reading my book, got up at the time I normally do, and went on with my day as I had planned it.
Why was my first thought not about calling Tanya to tell her to lock the doors and not go anywhere? Why did I not think about praying for the supposed hostages? I guess I did pray that these guys on the loose not hurt anyone else, but it was a passing prayer; I didn't dwell on it too long. Why was I not too concerned about the development of this crazy scare our city was experiencing? What is going on in my head!!??
There is a separation in my mind concerning the prison system in Huntsville, Texas. "It really doesn't effect the goings on of everyday life too much," I think to myself. "That is what 'they' do, but it doesn't penetrate 'my' world." "Stuff like this just happens; I can't control that." I'm a little concerned about what happened today in my head.
Lord, help me to understand how this city has affected the way I see what you are doing. Please use me to show others the way they section off their life in regard to the prison system. May we develop a sensitivity to the evil that presides in Huntsville, Texas and grow in our compassion for those you really miss the most.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
In Randy's discussion on humility during the second day he made a comment about silence. His phrase about practicing silence is, "Only speak what love requires." I think that is pretty cool advice. So, in some situations, I would need to speak because that is the loving thing to do. In other situations, I would need to refrain for the sake of love. These are some words that I am trying to put into practice recently.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I am so encouraged that God is doing amazing things in his world. I pray that he show me what he is doing in Huntsville so I can be a part of it. I anticipate much discussion happening about God's mission.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Two days ago a student came to me pointing to the sign. She said, "I need this." A really close friend was tragically killed in a car accident a week before coming to college. She was headed to the counseling center for this very reason. I told her that I will be here if she needs something. It was at this moment that I was positioned right in front of the counseling center on campus. More students will probably come.
I continually see students from our group on campus. Some of these students stop by regularly and we have great conversations. These are conversations that would not have ever happened had I been in the office.
I praise you God for giving me the courage to go out on campus and be available to students. Continue to bring students to you through my being available to them. You are such a good God.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
This semester I am doing a couple of small things differently in an effort to put myself in situations to advance the kingdom of God. The first thing is to spend less time in the office and more time in an area where God can use me for his glory (I thank Dan Kimball for giving me this idea at NCMS a couple of weeks ago.) Monday and Tuesday are in the office. Wednesday and Thursday are somewhere else. Currently, I am sitting in Kaldis, writing this post. I hope to slowly get to know the workers, the regulars, and other people who come into these places. The Lord knows how he will use me here. I just wait for the small moments over the course of a few years. Lord, keep my eyes open to see these moments you want to use me. Don't let me be consumed with work here and lose sight of how you can use me to advance your kingdom.
The second thing I am doing will begin next week when school gets back in. I will sit on campus for a couple of hours (the busiest times of the day student-wise) with a sign next to me that reads something like, "I want to pray for you. I'm here to listen." I have no idea what will happen, but over a period of time this is what I imagine might happen. Someone's world comes crashing down one night and the thought occurs to them, "I wonder if that guy I see everyday is going to be there tomorrow. If he is, I will stop." Honestly, I don't know if that is going to happen or not. All I know is that I am compelled to be available to any student on campus and I am compelled to pray for our campus. Lord, again give me the courage to be available outside of the "office." You alone know who needs more of you. I want to be used for your glory. Please bring students to yourself.
All of these things are part of my idea of transforming my ministry into an incarnational one; I want to be Jesus to others.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The whole day passes...nothing. The next day...still nothing except more candles and some carpet freshener. That doesn't do the trick either. What is it!!!!????
Thursday, Courtney comes in and there is a note on the board from Cory: "I found the smell. It's in the refrigerator." She opens the door and almost lost everything in her stomach! The doors from the fridge had opened somehow! We had all kinds of meat, vegetables, cheese, and more in the freezer and fridge. All ruined! After gathering herself, she actually took it all out and threw it away. She couldn't do anything else because the smell was THAT bad.
I happened to be late that day. Courtney called and told me what it was. I said I would clean it. SO...for about an hour I cleaned up the fridge and freezer. The smell was bad!! I really haven't ever smelled anything that bad before in my life (at least I don't remember). All I remember thinking is that it has to get clean. It got all over my hands to where I smelt a hint of it the rest of the day. Bleach helped a ton. That sucker got so bleached that the black turned white! I got it how I wanted it for the time being and went on with my day; my work continued.
Coming back in to a Student Center that has no smell was great! It also got me to thinking about ministry. I have to get into the gunk of other people's lives (bad smell and everything) if I want them to begin smelling the aroma of Christ. I might get smelly myself, but the power of Jesus (and the power of the gospel) is to change bad to good. That is GOOD NEWS!!!
Please use me, Lord, to spread your aroma to the craziest places. Give me the courage to walk where others dare not walk! You are my strength and encouragement. This is the same path you took...even to accept the stench of death on a cross.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tomorrow is our last day of reading. God is still using us. Our conversations are still important. In fact, this afternoon I have a new reader I have never read with before! We are here to plant seeds so new readers coming two days before we leave is still a good thing! Tomorrow night we have our farewell Churrasco where we will give our readers a certificate and a little bookmark to remember us. We will get many pictures so others can see.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
This is one of my readers named Wagner. He is a really cool guy. He says it is encouraging to have discussions with someone in another part of the world that has the same beliefs.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Lee Ann and I are in our second day of reading. We are working hard. There is a wide variety in our readers' level of English. Some have more difficulty than others. Even some of the one's who can't speak well, however, are receiving the seed of God's word in their hearts. We can only praise God for this. Here I am reading with one of my readers, Felipe. Our conversations normally last about one hour. We read with up to eight people per day.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Tomorrow is our first reading day. I have four readers scheduled right now, but I will be working to get some of my other readers scheduled once I get a small break. Please pray for my readers hearts. May our conversation be full of grace.
It is such a blessing to be in this country. God is working amazing ways. Hopefully I will be able to let you know about this as I report on the project here. May God continue to guide our conversations.
Friday, July 13, 2007
As you can see, tonight I am packing for my two-week trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We leave tomorrow! Trying to get everything into one suitcase is going to be a chore; I don't know how I am going to do it. I do have one little bad that I can check if need be, but I don't want to carry this one around too.
I am going to miss my family tremendously! This will be the longest time that I have been away from everyone since Tanya and I have been married. Wow! God will give us strength though. He has also provided Skype...a cool way to keep in touch with them with video calls...yes!!
Well, the work ahead is going to be hard, but rewarding at the same time. Lee Ann and I have been preparing for this trip since way back last fall. The journey has been amazing and I look forward to seeing the people God will touch through us. We are focused on Sharing Jesus and Sharing Ourselves. I can't wait to read the story of Jesus with people!
Lord, protect us as we travel. Let our hearts be prompted by your Spirit to move us where you need us to accomplish your will...whether we are aware of it or not. Give us the words to say, the energy to love, the compassion to listen, and the guidance to grow. Please continue to prepare the hearts of our readers. Let them encounter you as they interact with us. Grow them to be your disciples telling others about who you are. Keep us in your arms. Amen.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
It was the last yard we had to do that did it. I needed to get home quickly to take a shower and run off to college devo. Tardiness was already calling, so I got after it. I went way too fast! I didn't want to be late! I knew I was pushing myself in that last yard, but I knew it would be over soon. Even on the way home I knew I was tired, but I didn't know that things were pretty bad.
When I walked in the door I told Tanya I was really tired and a little dizzy. I rushed off the get my body temp down in the shower (something normal after a hard afternoon of mowing lawns). As I got out of the shower, I just wanted to lay there. I was still hot, still dizzy, and my muscles were give out (a good Texas description for ya), and my heart was still beating pretty fast. Tanya asked if I should be going to devo like this; I thought I would be okay.
I bent down to hug and kiss Kayla bye and then I had to run to the bathroom. All the water in my stomach came up. Uncle Ralph and I had a good conversation...twice in thirty minutes. Tanya helped me the rest of the night as I tried to keep fluids down me. It was not fun. Even the next day I stayed at home trying to recover...doctor Tanya's orders. No mowing lawns...no double-header softball games. That stinks dude!
Spiritual lesson: moderation is the key. Don't overdo it. Spiritual accomplishments will not happen overnight. Take on one vice at a time. Otherwise, Satan may overwhelm you making you worse off than before. It is okay AND NECESSARY to take breaks to re-connect with God who will sustain you through all things. Know also that God will not give you anything (temptation or otherwise) beyond what you can bear. You can stand with God's help (1 Cor 10:13).
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Thinking about this I find myself compelled to give people a taste of Jesus so that they will make a b-line to have more of him. I give people a taste of Jesus whenever I do something "for one of the least of these brothers of mine." (Matthew 25:40)
What do people taste when they are around you?
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
“The blood of American soldiers was great for American freedom…how much greater is the blood of Jesus for the world’s freedom…from sin and death”
“Having inalienable rights that cannot be surrendered is great…how much greater is having these rights and surrendering them regularly and without hesitation because of Jesus’ name”
“Being considered by many countries a Christian nation is great…how much greater is it when many countries encounter real Christians living out their faith just like Jesus”
“The freedom Americans have is great for America…how much greater is the freedom Jesus gave the entire world”
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Yesterday, my feet were comfortable as I mowed away! No problems. Get this...after mowing lawns for a few hours, I came home, took off my new shoes and was amazed at the cleanliness of my socks! Wow! No grass. I tell you what! I have got some really cool boots.
It is amazing what happens when you actually start working with the right equipment for the job! What equipment do you need to start using for the job God has given you to do?
Monday, June 04, 2007
With this said, every time I go on vacation I learn again that I like routine. There is just something about going through a normal day that gives me some security, some peace, some contentedness to life. When there is no schedule, I am stretched. What am I going to do next? What am I not going to do next? Usually, without a schedule, I tend to want to do nothing. I usually don't accomplish much when I am on break. I guess that is a okay.
At the same time, breaks also help me remember that routine is not what brings about security, peace, and contentedness. God alone in Christ is what brings these things. So...when I am at home with routine or when I am on break without routine...my security, my peace, and my contentedness come from Jesus.
Where do you need to learn this in your life?
Thursday, May 31, 2007
I knew that it would be more fun--especially for my dad--if we could play a scramble. I didn't care if it was a four-man or a two-man. I knew that it would just be a fun thing to do. My family tends to be incredibly competitive, so I wanted to diminish this a little. A scramble takes some of the individual competition out of play so we can just enjoy playing.
Through five holes my dad and I were four under par! Then we had to stop playing because of a HUGE storm passing through. An hour-and-a-half later we continued play. It wasn't the same. We finished the front nine two under and shot two over on the back finishing even par! Oh well! It was fun, we spent some good family time together, and that is what matters.
How many times do we forget to enjoy life? We tend to make too many things a competition. I behave better that him...I have better clothes than she does...We raise our kids better than they do...and so on it goes. Let's enjoy each day to its fullest with what God has already given us! Then we can point to God rather than ourselves when we finish even par, 18 under, or 46 over.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I really like the chapter that challenged the kind of lifestyle that prevents wasted lives. My use of money and my attitude toward possessions needed some focus. He uses a wartime type of mindset to advocate living for Jesus. The stories he tells of people from various wars in history brought me to tears! Kids becoming war heroes who did not consider their own lives worth saving. I can't possibly recount all the stories, but this remains in my head: how many of our teenagers would really consider giving up their life for a greater cause? Not many that I know of. I'm not absolutely positive that I would either.
Anyway...good book. I'll let you borrow it if you come by my office sometime. Worth the read.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Today is the first day that I have brought Kayla up to the office with me. During a normal semester this would not be too much of a problem. There are students all over the place who can at least entertain her for a little bit. In other words, I don't have to always be the one watching her and figuring out things for her to do.
That is good, but school is in between semesters right now. I have not seen anyone at the Student Center for over a week now. SO...I am the one making sure she is not getting into everything. When she gets tired of one thing, we must go on to the next. This takes some creativity on my part. What a joy it is to figure this out!
Yesterday I spent a good amount of time getting together a pile of papers that she could sort through. The papers were all trash, but she didn't know that. Well...that only lasted two minutes! There went that plan. Oh well!
The joy of parenting! I love it. God, please give me strength...and creativity.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Saturday I had huge fun playing a four-man best-ball scramble. We shot one under 71. It was fun. Chilled the rest of the day with the fam. Went on a walk with everyone. That is a fun thing to do with the family.
Sunday we came together with a group of Christians to worship and praise our creator. We had a new prayer section in our worship that was especially moving. Took a nap, meet with elders, went to New Waverly, and went to bed.
Last night I had an interesting dream that I will share about later.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
For each book that I am studying, I want to filter what I read through several different categories. I hope to spend 12 days asking text questions. What does the text say? How is it translated? What is my outline? What do I learn from the text about the author, the intended audience, and the setting? What are critical or key issues that the text addresses? What do introductions, dictionaries, articles, books, etc. say about my text?
Then I hope to spend 5 days asking history questions. What is the historical context of my text? What is the history of translation for this passage? How did the early church fathers interpret and apply this text? What do other major historical figures say about this text?
Then I move to theological questions. I hope to spend another 5 days asking these. What do we learn about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit? How does my text address sin, salvation, and mankind?
Finally, the last 8 days are spent asking pastoral questions. This centers around application. How does this text address the way we live? What does it teach about church? What are real-life applications of this text? How can this text be used in a congregational setting? In a campus ministry setting?
In the end, I am still not sure what I want to do with this studying of God's word. Do I write a synopsis of my research? Do I just keep the notes handy for future reference? Do I need a longer period of time to bring everything together? What is a good balance of Old and New Testament books? Any suggestions would be helpful.
I guess I will figure this out as I go. For now...I started yesterday going through 1 Peter. May God be near as I journey through his word.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
When I was in grad school I had a laptop. But this was a clunker of a laptop. It was take-a-nap slow! Also, if it was not plugged in, it would shut down! How annoying was that!?
More than one time when I was in the middle of class, typing away at my notes, someone came by in the row in front of me and accidentally kicked my power cord so that it my computer shut down immediately. The WONDERFUL thing about that was that I had not saved my file for a while. I lost all those notes!! It really wasn't a wonderful thing!
So...I learned to hit ctrl-s to save my file. It became second nature for me. I wouldn't even think about it. Sometimes someone would come by and again knock my cord out of socket. The computer would shut down. I would panic only to find that I had just unknowingly pushed ctrl-s before this happened. I was happy that I had developed this great skill. Many a notes have been saved because of this habit.
The bad thing about this now is that the laptop is long gone, but the habit remains. Admittedly, I have gotten better at not always pushing ctrl-s, but occasionally Mr. CTRL-S rears his head at unfortunate times.
Just a second ago was one of those times. On blogger, there are many shortcut keys that I can use. ctrl-b bolds a piece of text, ctrl-i italicizes my text, and (here it is) ctrl-s publishes my blog. So...for those of you who have subscribed to my blog by email...my last post was actually posted prematurely. Someone walked into my office, I stopped typing, and my fingers automatically hit ctrl-s "so I could make sure my work was saved." But...right when it happened, I realized that I just published what I had been working on. ahhh! Thankfully, not much changed this time.
I hope you enjoy yourself Mr. CTRL-S. Laugh now! Your day will come...oh yes...your day will come!
In fact, I hope that I always take time to make adjustments to my life. It would not be a good thing to get to the point where I feel like no more adjustments are necessary. That would be like saying, "I don't have to change with the ever-changing world." Then I would be stuck in an archaic period of time disconnected from real life unable to connect.
We must adjust...there is no way around it. How are you going to make adjustments today?
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
This is the first time this year that I am trying to catch up on my One-Year Bible readings. Hopefully, it won't take too long. I definitely feel like I need to spend some time in the word. My focus has been elsewhere lately. Lord, come visit me with your presence as I open your word.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Thank you, Lord, for your provision. It is good to be assured of your presence. Help your people understand that you care for them. That you will sustain them in times of need. That you care for them and desire to have a deeper relationship with them. You are an amazing God!! Amen.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I look down at my phone after our third (of four) commercial yards and see that Doug had called twice...I think this is a little odd. He also left a voice mail, so I listen to it. His words were something like, "I was just checking to see how Tyler was doing. Give me a call or something when you get a chance." WHAT??!!
Before I call him back, I decide to call Tanya to make sure nothing happened! Since her cell phone is out of commission, I know she would let me know if she left the house or IF SHE WENT TO THE HOSPITAL!!! or something like that. She knows I can't get a hold of her and she can't me. As the phone keeps ringing, my thoughts begin to percolate in the unknown. I decide to call back because sometimes she doesn't hear the phone the first time or she is tied up with Kayla. After the second failed attempt at getting her at home, I decide to call Doug to see what's up!
He tells me that a church member just called him after not being able to get a hold of Tanya on her cell or at home. Obviously, the thoughts turn toward Tanya going to the hospital. Doug thought, "Since Chris isn't answering his phone...maybe they ARE at the hospital. Just in case that is so, he thinks it would be good to leave a message about checking up on Tyler!" WHAT???!!!
My percolating thoughts of the unknown have now simmered, because I knew that Tanya would be doing everything she could to get a hold of me before anyone else if she was going into labor. I finish the evening of mowing and come home to a wife who had made a spontaneous trip to Conroe for shopping.
It is in moments like these that we can sit back and praise God for the joys of life! Don't blink. You might miss something exciting.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Last night we had another training meeting for our LST project this summer to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Larry came too because he wants to go. While I'm not sure if this will even be possible, it is exciting to think about the future.
Perhaps we can really get many in our congregation excited about God's mission in the world. How exciting it is to think about people being so passionate about God's mission that God begins to flood our doors with those who need him! As the number of workers goes through the roof, so the people who need God.
Not only that, but our students could begin to catch a glimpse of where God can use them. Brazil... Japan...Germany...Argentina. Maybe mission teams will form in our ministry. Together they leave SHSU after graduation seeking to become a mission team. Together they catch a vision of campus ministry and seek more training to become campus ministers.
God got me thinking about the future last night.
Monday, April 09, 2007
With all this excitement of new life in the air, I do have my moments of stress. When is he going to come? Who will take care of class? Who will do devo? Is everything ready for his arrival? What else do we need done? All these questions drain me even thinking about them! I wish he would just come and let me have some peace. I just can't stand not knowing when. Today...tomorrow...a week?
Surely, these feelings are some of the same feelings the early Christians had when they were waiting for Jesus' return. They knew he would be coming back "soon." We don't know exactly when it is, but it is soon. But, does that mean we don't go to work? Well...maybe. What about worrying about the harvest? Surely he'll come back before then!! All these same feelings cause me to have some sympathy with these early Christians. No wonder they thought they missed Jesus' return! (see 1 Thess 5:1ff.)
Let us continue to be alert and self-controlled as we build each other up until Jesus returns! And when you pray...put in a plug for Tyler's arrival!
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
We got stuck outside our house on Sunday trying to lock and unlock our front door! The key would not move. The sad thing is that I knew my key was getting harder and harder to use each day I used it. I have always had to lift up on the key to unlock it...but not too much. Sometimes I could push the key in and out a couple of times quickly and it would do the trick. Other times...well...I don't know how I got it open.
But Sunday was different. Sunday was the day that Tanya's key wasn't working either. After her failed attempts, I gave it a whirl (because guys can always do what women can't, right?). Five minutes later (after being humbled in my pride) the door opened. I don't know what I did except get a little bit more impatient with my efforts and this dumb door!
Finally, we got it locked in time to go to church. As we were pulling out of the driveway, Tanya realized that we had forgotten something! What!!?? You are kidding me!! So, my door and I had another go-round. It didn't take quite as long, but I switched from my key to Tanya's several times. It was frustrating. The door finally opened and we went to church.
The next morning I finally got around to taking it apart and fixing our door lock. A little lever was a little bent, and it needed some lubrication. All is well now and our keys work fine. The door unlocks and opens when we want it too.
This got me to thinking (surprise, surprise!). This passage jumped to my mind:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
I noticed the door being opened. There is no key to the door mentioned. It is not "knock and a key will be given so you can open the door." No, knock and the door will be opened to you. It is not by my power that the door opens. The door just opens. It is not by my efforts. It is not by my efforts. God is working, not Chris.
Let us knock on the door and have the patience for it to open.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
But I read about something different in David's Psalm here. Sin is present...no doubt about it. David wants mercy. He wants to be washed. He wants joy and gladness. David wants to be clean.
So, how does he get clean? I see David appealing to God's character. It is because God is an unfailing-love kind of God. It is because he is a compassionate God. It is because God is the one who saves. God cleans us because God is all these things. He cleans us by being all the things. God's character is powerful enough to bring cleanliness to us.
Well, surely we have to do something, don't we?
Yes, but it is not burnt offerings. And it is only in response to his cleaning us.
Well, what do we do?
According to this Psalm, we fall down in humility. Our sacrifice is a broken spirit, a contrite heart. There is nothing we can do, but appeal to God in true humility. Any justifying of my actions that happens shows that true humility is not yet present. I must know and recognize that I am sinful...period.
I also notice that we teach others, but only afterwards. David says that he will teach transgressors God's ways and sinners will turn back to God. It is only after God cleanses us that we are able to tell others about what God has done. This brings glory to God and God alone.
So, God cleans us by his being God. We are cleansed in our humility before the God who was and is and is to come. Let us fall before the throne of the one who is highly exalted above all gods. Amen!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the
crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in
large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,
worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'I
tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the
others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in
everything--all she had to live on.'" Mark 12:41-44
This morning as I read this familiar passage, I am struck anew with an assumption in the passage. The assumption is: everyone gave. The rich and poor alike. Everyone gave to God's work in the temple.
There are some Sunday mornings that I pass the collection plate without putting something in. Most of the time it is because I forgot to write a check that morning. This doesn't bother me because I know that the check will be written either that night or the next day. It is not that big of a deal.
However, I wonder how many people pass the collection plate with no intention to give whatsoever. Many reasons exist why people don't give to God's work; I have said them myself and heard many others. They don't make much money. They can hardly pay bills, so they definitely don't have enough for giving. They don't have regular income. They want to know that the money is going to be spent well, so they only give to special collections. They just don't want to give. The reasons go on and on.
When I read this text, I notice that the focus of the text is not on how much was given. The focus is on the attitude that must have been present in the people giving in the temple.
This text follows a little pericope that makes this focus unmistakeable. Jesus warns about the teachers of the law walking around in flowing robes. They love to be greeted everywhere and have the most important seats. He says they devour widows' houses and make lengthy prayers. Everything is for show. Jesus ends by saying, "Such men will be punished most severely." Then, our text.
Now we understand why Mark put this pericope before. It helps make sense of the widow's giving. He is making a statement here. The statement is: don't give for show. Let your attitude be, "I am giving...period. Even if it means that everything I have to live on is really an insigificant amount. I am giving to the work of the Lord no matter the cost."
It is refreshing to think about for me. It means that I can release the anxiety I feel about how insignificant my giving seems to be. God is glorified in my giving when my attitude is adjusted.
Lord, encourage us (as your people) to check our attitude in giving. Encourage us to give without letting it consume our life. Teach us to trust you like this widow we read about. You can use our "two very small copper coins" for your glory just like you can use the "large amounts." Please be patient with us as we learn your ways. Amen.
Monday, February 26, 2007
The question that lingers in my mind is this: how faithful am I? If I am being transformed into the image of the invisible God, and if my character progresses towards that of God's more and more each day, how faithful am I?
Is "faithful" the word that people would use to describe the way that I am committed to my spouse? He is faithful. Would it describe the way that I raise my children? He is faithfully present with them, especially when he says he will be. Do people use "faithful" to describe how I edify the those around me? You can really count on Chris to edify others...that is just something he does. When temptation comes knocking in its various forms, can I say that I am "faithful" to stand up under it and resist temptation for the glory of our faithful God? He faithfully resists all temptation and points to God in the process. Can "faithful" encapsulate the nature of my business dealings, my taxes, my travel logs, my speedometer, and my friendships? Is "faithful" the word that is used to describe me?
This is a scary question. Most of the time, it is so because it confronts me with my unfaithfulness. I have a long way to go toward being completely faithful. So do all of us. Yet, it also encourages me toward perfect faithfulness. Because I desire to reflect God completely, I desire to be perfectly faithful. Therefore, I press on.
And you need to also! The implications of "God is faithful" abound. How are you living out God's faithfulness in your life today? What do you need to perfect in the realm of faithfulness? Be faithful as God is faithful.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Sitting in my office last Wednesday, it occurred to me that I spend WAY too little time with students outside of the Student Center. It is embarrassing that I don't know where many of our students live. It is not good that if I were to enter a student's apartment, dorm, or house that they would think, "Okay, what is he doing here?"
If I am to take the incarnation of Jesus seriously, I need to follow his example. Jesus came to us. Therefore, in imitating Jesus, I go to students. Why do we get in our mind that students need to come to the Student Center to change their lives? While that will certainly happen by the power of God, students really need Jesus (in us) to come to them.
I will slowly begin going to our students' instead of the other way around. How are you doing the same with others?
Saturday, February 24, 2007
About two months ago, Kayla started doing something new that is really weird. I don't know why she does it or what got her doing it in the first place. As we come into her room (that has all the lights off) she stops at the little luminescent light we have in one of the plugs. She kisses it, then she gives it a hug. Sometimes she does this two times.
There are some nights that I just want to get one with it, so I try to hurry her up. We don't need to be doing this every time we come into the room. We finish our routine, get in bed, and go to sleep. See you tomorrow. That's it.
Tonight, I got to thinking about her quirky little light thing. It is like before she gets going into her dark room, she needs to take care of the light. She needs the light to see and responds appropriately...I guess this expression of love is appropriate behavior for a 2-year-old.
Our world is dark; that is the reality that we live in. In spite of this, we need to remember to love the light. While kissing it is hard, we remember to walk in the light as God is in the light. It is a good reminder to place the light in a prominent place in our life every single day. I close with 1 John 1:5-7:
"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering." 1 Peter 5:8-9.Satan is very sneaky in his vices. He tried to permanently blind me to the power of God in my storm. He took advantage of what I didn't know about my brothers and tempted me to react against the worst possible scenarios, as if these scenes were in fact going to happen. What a liar Satan is.
It would have worked had God (through his word) not been alive! As I cried out to God yesterday, he answered. Jesus stood and said, "Calm! Be still!" Then Satan fled. He waits for the next time.
I just made an observation about what precedes the passage I quoted above. 1 Peter 5:6-7 reads, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
I was letting my fear/anxiety run through my own reason, my own head, my own emotions. I didn't initially cast my anxiety on God. How foolish! That is what Satan was looking for in me. When I didn't give God my fear, Satan came running for the kill. He can use my fear when it is still with me. Once it is God's, Satan can't do anything.
Let us not act out of fear! Let us cast all our anxiety on God alone. Resist the urges of Satan.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
One of our daily readings was from Mark 4. Before getting into the text, I must say that more than rain has been around me. It is a storm! A storm of doubt, confusion, concern, questions, animosity, reflection, love, fear, wisdom, patience, jealousy, and much more surrounds me! You want to talk about emotions all over the place...the thunder is deafening! The storm clouds thicken all around me. And it came on so quickly. How did I find myself in such a place? I hardly have space enough to stay in the boat. Should I bail now? Where can I go? The waves are nearly swamping the boat.
So when I read this morning Mark 4:37, I understand. "A furious squall line came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped." I understand how the disciples could say something like, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" a verse later. I understand. I understand their doubt. I understand their fear. I understand their lack of faith. I'm there too!
But, Jesus doesn't stay there! Praise God! He is responsive. He is the one who acts. He is the one who has faith. He is what I need right now. It is Jesus. It is my, Lord! He stands up, rebukes the wind, and says to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!"
Quiet. Be still.
It is so simple. It is not complicated. Those are the words that I need spoken to my storm! Quiet! Be still!
Lord, stand and speak. Don't let this storm overtake me. Increase my faith that you will calm the storm. Squall lines don't last long, but your words do. Please come and speak. Amen!
"The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.
The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives;
but the Lord will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,
but he soon passed away and was no more; thought I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them because they take refuge in him."
Something I needed to hear.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I feel refreshed and ready to worship our God tomorrow morning! He continues to show me his glory through the simplest things! Praise God for the moments he shows up.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
This incident got me to try to begin tackling the job of updating our website. It needs major help! I am taking the initiative because that is what our community needs. We will see what happens, but I am still waiting to get access soon.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
I must say that this sipping of God's word that I have been doing this year has proved to be refreshing. I find myself not compelled toward study. I don't think about lessons that can come from these passages as I am reading. I just read. In doing so, I notice things I'm not sure that I would have noticed before. New implications for the reading. New ideas and concepts on living that I glossed over until now.
My day is filled with more grace since the reading. Praise God for his enduring word. It refreshes the soul. It grabs the heart. It sustains life. May your word be near me, Lord. May it never depart.
Monday, January 22, 2007
I look at the factors that brought about this in my heart. The song selection had a lot to do with it. C was singing, and he chose great songs. He always seems to do a great job leading us into the presence of God. To put it another way...the focus was rightly placed on God.
He accomplished this by starting songs from within the congregation; he began the song at his seat. I love it! He also focused our minds on what this song is accomplishing in our worship time. The songs were appropriate for their purposes.
Here is what really moved my heart: I was able to freely respond to my hearts' call to clap during appropriate songs. As I closed my eyes, I rejoiced in the presence of God singing, "Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpet call..."
May God continue to lead us into his presence during our worship. Lord...revive us! Bring new wineskins so that we can carry the new wine. Let us be the new wineskins, Lord. Let us progress toward your presence according to your word. Amen!
Thursday, January 18, 2007
This reminds me of how little time we have here on earth. We were born just yesterday!! With this little amount of time given us we need to glorify God. It won't be long until our chances are up. As long as it is called today...glorify Him.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I found out about a three-part sermon series by Rick Atchley about the decision they made as a congregation. Something I can say about Rick is that he always boldly proclaims God's word! After watching the lessons, he has encouraged me in my ministry in Huntsville to seriously consider how I encourage and/or challenge those around me. This is a difficult task that many minister face, myself included. How much do I affirm what others already believe? How much do I challenge them? How much do I reorient people? No matter what, though, I must stand on the word of God. Rick poses very interesting questions that I pray glorify God.
Here are some questions I struggle with in this conversation about instrumental music:
How can healthy conversation happen without "sides" becoming polarized? Can we learn anything from those with whom we disagree?
When is it appropriate to give up my "rights" in an effort to edify the church?
What is the relationship between corporate worship and individual worship?
Saturday, January 13, 2007
"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" (Matthew 9:35-38)"The campus is full of students who are harassed and helpless to do anything about it. They are sheep without a shepherd. They will tell you that they know where they are going, but they don't have a clue. They have a plan for their career, their family, their success. All the while, they are sheep without a shepherd. They feel how direction-less they are inside. They really don't know how to deal with their emptiness, their desire to belong to something significant. This is the harvest field.
For those "insiders" (so-to-speak) we know the harvest is plentiful. Workers are needed to work. But what exactly are they working? They are working the seed of good news, that we have a shepherd who gives life. That is what Jesus was doing just before this passage in Matthew. Raising the dead, stopping the flow of blood, restoring sight, freeing the demon-possessed. Jesus was showing his shepherd abilities. It is at this point that we see the call: Pray that workers are sent out!
My prayer is that I begin with the harvest before me. Students need the Shepherd...I will lead them to him.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
He talked about the New Testament in relation to the whole Bible. It was like the meat of a sandwich giving all the flavor. You could just eat the bread or lettuce, but the substance is gone. This is the illustration that stands out to me. There were other examples that I cannot recall right now, but he continued throughout the class relating to people through illustrations.
Obviously, Jesus did the same. I have tried to get better and better at this in my own teaching too. Just this morning I realize that I need to meditate on life more. Illustrations are everywhere. Spending the time thinking through life will help me connect my teaching with students' lives. Much of my prep time this semester will be allowing God to guide my thinking in this regard: how can I present illustrations of worth
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I have intentionally not filled the intern spot praying that the void will be filled by a student leadership team that will step up. Classes start tomorrow and we still have not hashed out our calendar. This goes against every atom in my body! I know we are going to have a big welcome back activity, but I don't know what it is going to be yet. A student has taken that on.
When I close my eyes I picture what walking by faith is all about. We don't fill up our calendar just to keep us busy...act like we are doing something. We walk by faith knowing that God will show us what we need to be doing. When the opportunity comes we pray we have our eyes open to see it and the courage to do it.
Walking by faith isn't easy. You approach the day you have with eager expectation to see what God brings you this day. You trust that words will be there. You trust that the Lord will guide you. Even a day before the students come back, I am forced to trust that God will provide. We need leaders. I don't see too many...yet...we walk out in faith. Guide our steps Lord.
Monday, January 08, 2007
"Lay Your Burdens Down..." the song begins. As I stood to let people respond (obviously not me, so I thought) to the message the thought occurred to me, "Why is this the song of invitation? It is such a great song!" I stood anyway, closed my eyes, sang, and was overwhelmed.
This song moved me! Rather, God used this song to move me. Seriously...I was shaking at the end of it. I was even trying to stop shaking because I didn't want to be moved. I wanted to prove my point that nothing in the service could move me. Then I could wallow in my own self-absorption of empty worship. That didn't happen. I was moved. It was God. I couldn't help it!
Reflecting on this over the last day, I have learned how much I need to grow! Why am I coming to worship trying to prove that I can't be moved? I should be seeking the very thing I was avoiding yesterday: God's presence. Yet, amazingly enough, God was gracious enough to allow a song to usher his presence into my life. How many times does God use songs to move me in worship? Too many.
Thank you, God, for being so gracious. Thank you for your patience with me. I need to grow so much. Let me continue to be aware of your presence in my life. May your praise be on my lips throughout the day. Keep me from the cynicism I experienced yesterday...all for your glory. You are the one I need. Let me seek you alone.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
This makes me wonder about how we grow up in Christ. What is it like for God to watch us grow up? I know the joy I have in seeing Kayla discover new things, learn new words, play with legos, laugh as she learns she can keep the rope away from our dog, and just grow up as a human. It truly is a joy!
Solomon understood this when he began his proverbs in Proverbs 10:1 by saying, "A wise son brings joy to his father." As children apply wisdom to their life, it impacts more than just themselves. It brings joy to their parents and others who see. In the same manner, as children of the God who sees all we do, our wise choices in life bring joy to our heavenly father. I imagine a heavenly smile coming across the face of God when I choose to live according to God's word...no matter how small and basic it is. It is a joy for God to see us going t-t in the potty as well as designing a brand new potty for others. How are you going to bring joy to your heavenly father today?
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
His parents, Whit and Adrienne, were teammates with us on the Mission Miami team. They are dear friends and we want to get as many people as possible praying for them. Thank you for your prayers.
Please read Whit's blog about Benjamin's status.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I don't know what to think about this semester yet. I am a little nervous about what it will bring. We don't have the calendar planned out because we haven't met to do so. I think we will be taking things as they come. Since Daniel is gone I am relying on a group of students. More than anything I need to communicate to them that I am relying on them. I plan to do this soon. In fact, one student is wanting to plan our fun "welcome back" activity. I hope to contact him today about that. (Just in case you wanted to know that.)
Our discipleship group will be starting at the beginning of this semester too. I just ordered their books this morning. Words cannot describe how excited I am about taking my relationship with God and these men to another level. I am intentionally not going through the material beforehand so that these men can experience my unplanned thinking process. I think this will allow them the freedom to engage the material more readily. I will keep us posted on the development of this discipleship group.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Below is the sermon I preached yesterday. I know that it is a long post, but for those interested...there you go.
Title: Living Anew with God
Text: 2 Kings 22:1-23:3
Focus Statement: God continues to work newness into life
Function Statement: To foster a sense of renewal in our lives
Painting by Thomas Hart Benton in the Dallas Museum of Art. Key parts: late afternoon sun, man looking at old shack, roof about to cave in, suitcase held together by two ropes, cow skeleton, man’s hands on beard wondering something. Its name is ‘The Prodigal Son.’ In Thomas Benton’s telling of the prodigal son, we learn that the son waited too long. You’re too late! A welcoming family does not tend the house with servants, the fatted calf is now dry bones, and there is no reconciliation between father and son. The story is anything but the one I know!
Transition: But, this picture is exactly the picture I see when I look at the story of Josiah at the end of the book in 2 Kings 22. Go ahead and turn there.
The book of Kings is a long series of stories about leaders…kings…“who did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 11:6; 15:25; 16:25, 30). Time and time again a king is described as one who “forsook the Lord, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the Lord” (i.e. 2 Kings 21:22). It is as if we see all over again the sin that gets worse and worse at the beginning of Genesis, which led to the flood where God totally destroyed the world.
Then, in the chapter just before we begin to read about Josiah, God makes his pronouncement: “I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle” (21:12). Even after the story of Josiah we see the lord rejecting his people: (23:27) “So the Lord said, ‘I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, “There shall my Name be.”’”
All of this was part of the covenant God established with Israel so many years ago. Keep my commands and you will be blessed; reject my commands and you will be cursed. So…because Israel rejected God’s commands…it is set…Jerusalem will fall…there is nothing you can do about it! No amount of repentance will change my mind. You can hear the distant voices saying …you are too late…just like Thomas Hart Benton’s rendition of ‘The Prodigal Son’…you waited too long…you kings of Israel.
Transition: But, you can’t just let these distance voices convince us that there is no hope…that we should just resign ourselves to inescapable destruction as rejected property! There is more in our text this morning that compels us to keep listening. The story of Josiah is filled with hope…with renewal. Let’s move in a little closer to hear the story.
Business as Usual
As the story of the Kings comes to a close (at the very end of the book), we see this story of Josiah. He is the one we have been looking for as far as walking with the Lord. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (22:2). “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with the law of Moses” (23:25).
Josiah comes on the scene as an eight-year old boy (22:1). Ten years pass by without any mention of his activity. Nothing stands out as noteworthy to the narrator of 2 Kings. The years went on like usual. A young king doing what young kings are supposed to do…I guess. Business as usual for king Josiah. Even after ten years of being king we see business continuing as usual in 22:3. The kings of Israel regularly sponsored repairs and renovations on the temple. That is what you were supposed to do…repair and renovate the temple…and so…Josiah does this.
He sends the secretary, Shaphan, with this message. (22:4) “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. (5) Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord—(6) the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple.”
Business continues as we continue reading, but there is something new in the story…its something powerful, but not important at first. Hilkiah the high priest found a book in the temple during the course of business. He (oddly enough as a priest) doesn’t know what to do with this book, so he gives it to the secretary, Shaphan. It, apparently, isn’t too important to Shaphan either. He almost forgot to mention it to the king when he was reporting back to him about business. (vs.9) “Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: ‘Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.’” Business as usual… money… workers doing their job…normal stuff here. Oh yeah! (vs.10) “Then Shaphan…informed the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.”
Transition: At this point in the story, business as usual is over! Life changes. Josiah’s response is unprecedented. Even though we don’t know what the contents of the book are until later, it must be powerful to make such a dramatic change in a person.
Josiah’s Initial Response
Josiah rips his clothes. He orders three other people (more people are involved now) to go with Hilkiah and Shaphan to inquire of the Lord through a prophetess (Huldah) to see if these things are true. It seems like Josiah fears that something bad might happen soon because of the disobedience of his predecessors. She affirms his suspicions (vs.16): “This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.”
At this point, I still don’t see anything good about this story. Nothing has changed! Destruction is still coming. There is something about the words of the Lord “my anger…will not be quenched” that doesn’t give me hope. I see the image of Thomas Benton’s prodigal son. Those voices comes around again, “Its too late.” “You can’t change anything.” “Don’t even try.” You know Josiah was probably thinking that when he received the news from the prophetess…wasn’t he? Let’s see.
Josiah’s Complete Response
2 Kings 23:1-3. What does Josiah do? He tells as many people as possible. More people need to know what is written in this book. We learn here that he is reading from the Book of the Covenant. There are many ideas of exactly what is contained in this book that Josiah read. It could be the laws of Exodus 20-23. It could be pieces of Deuteronomy. It could be the whole Pentateuch, the first five books of the OT. Whatever it is…it contains the idea of blessings and curses predominant in Deuteronomy. Meaning…those who keep the commands of God will be blessed, while those who reject the commands of God will be cursed. Josiah needs to tell everyone the contents of this book.
Beyond just telling people about the book, Josiah did something else. He also renewed the old covenant between Israel and God. He is interested in following the Lord despite the circumstances (despite the fact that God is about to destroy Israel), Josiah decides to renew the covenant in the presence of the Lord.
Taking things even further than verbally renewing the covenant, Josiah completely reforms the entire kingdom (23:4ff). He tears down idols in the temple set up to Baal and Asherah. He does away with all the pagan priests, mediums, and spiritists. He tears down the houses of prostitution. He breaks down shrines, burns other altars, scatters the ashes, and desecrates the so-called “holy places” throughout the land. He takes bones from tombs, puts them on altars, and burns them…total desecration. He slaughters all the priests of Samaria’s high places on their altars and burned human bones…again desecrating them.
On a slightly more positive note, Josiah commands all the people of the land to celebrate the Passover. The narrator says the Passover had not been celebrated since the time of the judges. They again participate in an event that defined them as a people…God showing his favor to Israel when he passed over them when he killed Egypt’s first born. They celebrate the Passover!
Overall, when you read about “Josiah’s reforms” (as they are called), you can’t help but say that it was complete reformation. Josiah truly had a heart that was responsive and humble just like the prophetess said (22:18-20). And you could tell this by the way he behaved. The narrator says (and I read it again) “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with the law of Moses” (23:25).
Transition: I can’t help but ask (when I hear the story of Josiah), “Why? … Why does Josiah respond this way? Why doesn’t he just resign to his fate and carry on business as usual? No harm in that right?”
Living Anew with God
Well…yeah there is if you’re Josiah. [pause] Apparently, if you are going to walk right and “do what is right in the eyes of the Lord,” you are going to do this regardless of the circumstances. Regardless of the fact that Judah is going to be destroyed regardless. Repenting is just the right thing to do. You do what is right, period. Josiah hears the words of the Lord and responds accordingly. He doesn’t say, “If my repentance doesn’t change God’s judgment against Judah, I am not going to repent.” Josiah instead says, “Living anew with God means responding to his words that never change.” So, he stands by the pillar and reads the words of God to everyone! That is bold.
This is the message that confronts us here today: how are we going to live anew with God and respond TODAY to his words? The world around us seems to be telling us (ever so subtly), “It doesn’t matter! If you want to do that to make you feel better…go ahead. But it really doesn’t make the world a better place by doing all these things.” They might whisper in our ears that living with God is just about going to church and saying the right things. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Living anew with God means…living according to his word. His word still speaks to us today…just like it did to Josiah. The words that God has spoken are not hidden away in the basement. Instead, they are accessible. They are alive. They are real. They guide us. They speak to us right now! Where are they? They are in the Bible.
Our job…no…our responsibility…is to stand by the pillar and read them! We must be committed to God’s unchanging word despite our circumstances. All of our circumstances change by the minute, but God’s word never changes. The message he spoke to Josiah is the message he speaks to us today. It is an invitation to life with God. His word needs to be close to our heart. Now is the time to renew yourself to God’s enduring word.
The question I have for us this morning is this: How are you going to get into God’s word this next year? Even more than that…how are you going to live according to his word? You can read the words all you want. You can even praise God for his glorious words that offer life. But it is completely empty if you don’t do anything about it. As James tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says….the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22, 25)
As we encounter God’s word again, we need to ask, “What are we going to do to live anew with God?” Reformation needs to happen.
God needs your commitment to him despite how tough times are for you right now. I really do get tired of people saying to me, “I need to do better, I know. But I am about to get this new job. Or I am about to retire. Or I am about to do this or about to do that.” There is always something. But, we can still serve God and live life anew while doing all these things. You don’t have to wait until everything is perfect before you begin. Begin now! I can’t think of a better time of the year.
Perhaps you are going through life thinking things are just business as usual. Life is going along pretty normally…nothing major is happening in my life and I am going to work on keeping it that way. But, if we are to take this passage in 2 Kings seriously, we are to be continually looking for ways to reform our lives according to God’s word in a responsive and humble manner. We want to be ones who DID right in the eyes of the Lord. Not the ones who WILL DO or ARE ABOUT TO DO right in the eyes of the Lord. We don’t want business as usual. We have that chance right in front of us. Right now. What are we going to do?
I want to close by reading the chorus of a song from a Christian band.
Watermark song: All Things New
Because of who You are and who I am in you
You make all things pure
Because of who You are and who I am in You
You make all things true
You make all things new
It is because of who God is and whom he has made us to be that we can begin anew with life with God. God truly makes all things new. That is his business. He can do it. Let’s respond as a community. It is not too late! Let’s live anew with God.