Everything For God

23 03 2016

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

ToolsWe’ve all heard this verse (and most of us have quoted it) many times. It’s one we pull out when we’re at car washes and missions events. I personally have used it to ‘encourage’ kids to quit complaining and just get the job done.
Over the past few weeks, though, I’ve looked at this verse another way. There was something said during a staff meeting that struck a chord with me. It was partly responsible for these thoughts.
“It takes teamwork to make the dream work.”

Now…how in the world does that apply to working for God? Sometimes – if we’re not careful—we can get caught up in what we’re able to do. Many of us have become a “Jack of all Trades” and forget that there may be others that know more about a particular thing than we do. Maybe not here, with you but they’re out there.
All professions have them. In the medical field they’re called general practitioners. In the technical field they’re called generalists. In the construction world we know them as general contractors. There’s nothing wrong with being a generalist. They know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. Knowing all this stuff can also cause trouble if they’re not paying attention.

Let’s run an experiment. Draw and color a landscape scene. Don’t worry about your drawing skills (or lack of thereof.) Detail isn’t what is important here. This landscape must have a tree with brown trunk, light blue sky, and yellow sun. The grassy field should be littered with little purple flowers. WAIT! STOP! Before you start pulling crayons and markers out of the box there are some limits. You only get four colors: blue, red, yellow, and white. How did you do?

If you were like me when God dropped this in my heart the first thought is, “It can’t be done.” But look at what you were given. Individually the crayons can’t accomplish the task. But they can be combined to complete the assignment as needed.

crayonsBlue+Red=Purple
Yellow+Red=Orange
Orange+Purple=Brown
White+Blue=Light Blue
Yellow+Blue=Green

It’s when we are willing to combine our efforts using the knowledge of all involved that the best picture is drawn. Doing things for God rather than for people accomplishes this exact thing. When we look at it in this light it puts 1 Corinthians 12:17-18 in perspective. “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” Those involved aren’t worried about who signs the picture because they’re too busy making it the best it can be. Then they allow God to sign it because He put all of us together in the team anyway.





Keep Christ in ME

23 12 2013

Ok…so I don’t normally do ‘themed’ posts but I couldn’t get away from this one either. Well…I should say God wouldn’t let me get away from it. There seems to be a widening gap between those that view this time of year as a set of holidays and those that view it as the Christmas season. I see (and understand) both sides really. If you really want to know, I sort of hold to both at the same time. Let me explain.

Image Credit: s225.photobucket.com

The holiday season (for me) starts at Thanksgiving. It is the beginning of really looking at being thankful for everything. Following that is Christmas. It’s the time to remember Christ’s birth and all that it brings. You can read more on that in my previous post. Following closely behind that is New Year’s Day. It reminds us to look toward the future rather than the past, and to embrace new beginnings with confidence. That’s why I can say either phrase to anyone. I’m not offended when people say, “Happy Holidays” to me. Although I normally respond with, “Merry Christmas.”

Ok…now that I have explained that part it brings me to the real point of this post. The disconnect between popular culture and Christian culture. I have friends that have had heated (really heated) arguments on this point of view. I see signs, banners, cards, and a host of other things that say things like, “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Keep Christ in CHRISTmas” While I agree with all of these statements, and at the risk of upsetting some people, I think that we Christians have lost sight of this season too.

Why is it that people (including Christians) only bring out the glad tidings and good cheer at this time of year? Could it be that Christians are just as guilty of moving Christ to the margins during this season as the rest of the culture? Before you get really angry and stop reading, please understand something. I am not trying to upset anyone. I’m simply asking a question on something that I see.

I had a friend that worked as a server in a restaurant. She liked her job but dreaded one particular shift every week, the Sunday afternoon crowd. I asked her why and her response shocked me. “The people who come in after church are the worst. They are demanding, sometimes downright rude, and never appreciate anything. Few say, ‘Thank you.’ and most leave little or no tip.” As I heard that my heart sank. We, as Christians, are supposed to be the different ones. We’re supposed to be the ones who smile and offer love, compassion, and kindness because that’s what Jesus did.

Image Credit: momstransformed.blogspot.com

What the Christmas season (or holiday season…depends on your viewpoint) really needs is a focus shift. Paul nailed it when he wrote, “…And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. (Colossians 1:27 — NLT)” When we make our focus one of passionately pursuing Christ and the relationship between us and Him…then Christ will automatically be in Christmas because He is in US. We won’t have to worry whether people know the real reason for the season because they’ll see it resonating out through US.

We have all heard the songs that talk about making Christmas (the feelings, attitudes, and actions it brings) last throughout the entire year. Well it’s really possible to do that. How? By keeping Christ in US. He’s not only the reason for the season…He’s the reason we have abundant life. He’s the reason we have a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He needs to be in this season…but he needs to be in us more.





Healing Isn’t Always The Answer

7 11 2013

nopainI got some sad news this past week. In a conversation with my mom I discovered that my grand father (affectionately known to all of us as “Papa”) has cancer. We don’t know what type of cancer or the prognosis yet since we’re still waiting for appointments to be scheduled with the doctors. Suddenly there was a rush of feelings that I thought I would never have to deal with. I felt almost a panic as my mind tried to make sense of the news. Almost immediately I thought of all the prayer chains and groups that I would submit him to. After all…this is my papa.

Last night in our Family Night at church we had a guest speaker, Pastor Terry Wong from Hawaii. He was talking about praying for the sick and seeing them be healed. As I absorbed all the information he was presenting God — as He always does– dropped something in my heart. Pastor Wong made this statement (and I’m paraphrasing), “Why is it that we pray for physical healing and neglect the spiritual healing that is, many times, needed?” That one question let God work on my heart with this.

I should probably tell you that Papa’s spiritual condition is excellent. He is a man who modeled Christ-like living for as long as I can remember. He is a retired pastor of 40 years and had a successful radio ministry that reached millions with God’s Word. He has written devotionals that have become the standard of recovery programs where he lives in West Virginia. He gave a 15-year-old boy his first opportunity to preach because he felt that boy was called of God to do it (that’s me in case you’re wondering). He doesn’t need spiritual healing…he needs physical healing.

No where in life are we promised anything — even healing. We sometimes wonder why things happen to people, families, or churches like they do. But there is a stark reality that we forget. We live in a fallen world and as a result of that fall sickness, disease, hurt, pain, and a whole lot of other horrible stuff happens — sometimes to us. “…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45 — NIV)” That thought is of little comfort to anyone when you’re in the middle of something like this. God never promised exemption from any of these things though. He just promised to walk through it with us.

reach

Wayne Watson, a contemporary Christian artist, has a song titled Home Free. It talks about the ultimate healing and how it’s not always a physical healing. Sometimes the ultimate healing is to be home. To be where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4 — NIV)” That’s exactly where Papa wants to be. We have talked about it on many occasions and I could always hear the longing in his heart. He just wants to be with the Father. How can I now pray that God heal him physically and take that away from him? As that thought settled into my heart my prayer requests for the groups and lists started to form.

So if you add my Papa to your prayer list please pray like this:

God, You are in control of all things. You see Your son, and You love him, in a way that I never could. As He walks through this trial be with him. Ease any pain he may feel. When You are ready to call him home may he joyfully find himself at the feet of the One whom he has so faithfully served. He is in Your hands.





Guilt and Regret — Not Friends of Mine

29 07 2013

I’m going to ask a question that I already know the answer to. But I’m going to ask it anyway. Has anyone ever messed up? I mean really, really bad? I thought so. We all have. So…how did that make you feel? Yeah, I know the answer to that one too. Not all that good, huh? It didn’t make me feel too great either.

Recently I made a mistake. That mistake had the potential to do some pretty big damage. Fortunately the people involved are loving, kind, and forgiving. But it still weighed on my mind and heart. How could I have done that? Why did I ignore the situation? Why didn’t I just take care of it earlier? Do any of these questions sound familiar? I would wager that they do. And they all have one thing in common. Guilt. We feel guilty for the mistakes that we make.

jail cellGuilt is an interesting thing. It easily locks us up in the prison of ‘If Only.’ If only I had made a different decision. If only I hadn’t done that one thing. It’s a lonely place…the prison of ‘If Only.’ And guilt never comes alone. It always brings a friend. “Let me introduce you to someone,” says guilt. “This is regret.” “Don’t you feel bad,” hisses regret. “You should have known better. But you can’t go back and change it.” And they go on and on making us feel worse and worse about the mistake we made. And we retreat deeper and deeper into the prison. Willingly walking through the halls into solitary confinement. And we shut the door ourselves.

But is there a way to avoid being imprisoned? There sure is! While it’s a hard thing to battle we must understand that guilt and regret can only work on us if we let them. We step into the cell. We stay in prison. I’m not saying that we need to ignore issues that need to be dealt with. But once they are…move on. It’s done and no good can come from beating ourselves up over past mistakes.

A reason that guilt and regret are so devastating in us is that they keep us from moving forward. They anchor us to past mistakes by making us relive them over and over. This causes us to stop being effective in life because our focus is now on something that we can’t change.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18 — NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 — NIV)”

If it’s done, understand that it’s done. We can’t change the mistake…we can only learn from it and move on. Life will be full of mistakes and missteps. But we don’t have to condemn ourselves for past mistakes. God doesn’t. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1 — NIV)”

So…if you’re an inmate imprisoned by guilt and regret for a past mistake, I challenge you to walk out of that cell. They can’t hold you there. And staying in jail only hurts you. It’s time to set yourself free. Your sentence has been overturned.

surrender





What an Influence

28 11 2012

I’ve been thinking about influence today.  One of the biggest people to influence my life is my grandfather…or “Papa” as we all call him.  Yes, even his adult grandchildren call him that.  Growing up around him brings back a lot of fond memories.  So many times we (my brother, sister, and I) would be headed out the door for school.  Here comes Papa in his truck ready to take us fishing for the day.  We’d excitedly look at mom and she would smile and nod her approval.  Then off we raced to change our clothes and get our poles.  What fun that was!

He was an influence in many ways.  He is, in fact, one of the reasons that I am in ministry today.  Now a retired minister…Papa was my pastor until I was 16 years old.  He is a man of integrity, honesty, conviction, compassion, and so many other things.  I saw all of these at work in his life.  He affected my life for the better.

If you look up the word influence in the dictionary you will see that it is both a noun and a verb.  As we all know…a noun is a person, place, or thing.  Someone or something is an influence on you.  That person or thing affects you in noticeable ways.  A verb, on the other hand, is an action word.  Someone or something does something to influence you.  Hmm…isn’t that interesting?  We can look at those who were an influence on us and will probably see both the noun and verb.  That’s true in my Papa’s case.  The person he was affected me…but his actions also affected me.

I believe that being an influence — the noun, the thing– comes from good character.  A character that is God shaped.  It is something that we are because God has placed it there and continually works on it in us.  The verb influence — the action part — is a result of what occurs in our life because of the God-given character.  Our integrity, honesty, trustworthiness.   It’s the compassion on others that changes them and compels them to have it on others.  It’s the integrity in our family, home, school, and workplace that others notice and strive to live out because of us.   All of these things are what we do and, by doing them, we affect the lives of others.

So my prayer for today is this…”God…may You be the greatest influence in my life.  May I always feel Your presence changing and molding me.  Help me to see those that you place in my path to influence me.  And may I be the instrument of your influence in the lives of others.  May this be all for Your glory.  Amen”








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