The highly advertised and, for some, long awaited, History Channel mini-series “The Hatfields & McCoys” wrapped up last night. I know that my wife, Billie, and I, as well as many of our friends and family, we’re glued to the tv, either live or via DVR, for the three two-hour episodes. From what I have seen and heard (Facebook comments, etc) it seems that everyone enjoyed and learned from it. One of my friends even commented Wednesday night that they were glad and sad to see the final episode finally air.
This evening Billie and I were discussing the show and some of what it depicted. Overall we both really liked the series and thought it was a good production. But we also both agreed that the first episode, Monday night, was the best of the three. Billie commented that it was a shame that all six hours weren’t as good as the first two. And I agreed that Monday night set a high bar for the show, one that would’ve been tough to meet the next two nights.
You know, there are a lot of things that we see in this life that are filled with all kinds of hype and publicity. Many times the actual things or events fall well short of our expectations, ones that have been heighten by the “generated” enthusiasm around it. One other thing I know: after this life there awaits a place that we can’t even imagine it is so perfect and pure, Heaven is where I speak of, of course. For those that have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, there’s a place to go that will more than surpass all of our thoughts and dreams. It’s no wonder Paul wrote “to die is gain” for it surely is for those that are covered by His blood.
Have you ever watched a little boy learning to use a hammer? The lad grasps the hammer near the head of the shaft and is merely able to go “tap, tap, tap,” hardly working the nail into the wood. He has the right tool but no power. Compare the craftsman carpenter as he holds his hammer down at the bottom of the shaft gaining all the leverage he can. His arm goes “bam, bam, bam,” driving nails home using a few swift hard strokes without damaging the surface of the wood. He holds the tool to get the power. And the craftsman continues to grow in strength and skill with each passing year that he remains active in his craft.
This is a good depiction of the Christian’s life: beginning as a babe and progressing toward Christ-like perfection. As we begin our walk of faith our “skill” and knowledge is limited but, as long as we walk faithfully, we become stronger in our faith and knowledge of God and His Word until we reach our reward: seeing Him face to face.
Next week is the start of our revival services. My hope and prayers are that we will see many people saved and they will draw closer to God. The church has a message and it can change the community one person at a time. Paul tells us in Acts 20:21 that he preaches faith and repentance everywhere and to everyone. That was the message that changed peoples lives two thousand years ago and it is the same thing that our people need to hear today. We can have the best speaker God has ever ordained to speak, and we have a very good one in Allen, but unless people hear the word their lives will not be changed. Paul also tells us in Romans chapter 10 how important it is for lost people to hear the preaching of Gods word. Without hearing the word of God they can never be saved because it takes preaching to build faith and without a portion of faith it is impossible for anyone to be saved. Preaching, or the hearing of the word, is the single most important thing in the road to salvation. Knowing what is at stake (people being lost forever) and how important it is (only way lost can build faith) makes it imperative that we get our people out to church.
Most of you know that I love working with leather; it is my number one hobby and favorite pastime. But you may not know that I used to really enjoy and do a lot of woodworking, too. Many factors have greatly limited how much (or little) I’ve worked with wood over the last 10-15 years but a new trend called “upcycling” has brought this hobby back into the forefront of my mind.
If you’re not familiar with it, Upcycling us basically taking some worn out or generally worthless item or material and re-making it into a new, functional and valuable item. For instance, I have been working on a coffee table made from 100% salvaged wood that looked like it was good for nothing other than the landfill or burn barrel. In fact, upon seeing it piled in the bed of truck a few weeks ago one of my Brothers called “craft wood”, or maybe he used a similar word that only sounded like “craft”; I’m not sure. But I digress…
It occurred to me that the grace extended to us is a lot like the Lord’s way of “up-cycling” us. After all, we are, in our unregenerate state, nothing more than depraved sinners worthy of the justice of a holy and righteous God. And yet He made a way for us to be “up-cycled” into a brand new creature, imparting His pure righteousness to each one that will by faith accept Jesus Christ as the Savior they so desperately need. Think about that: from enemy to heir in an instant! Thank God for His way of “up-cycling” us from worthless to priceless. And thank God for Jesus, the One who paid the price for each of us.
I have always enjoyed the wit, wisdom, and preaching and teaching of Dr. Adrian Rogers. I subscribe to the LWF daily devotion and on occasion share them here. One from this past week particularly spoke to me, as I think it will most Christians, and wanted to share it, too.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
One of the greatest secrets I have ever learned is this: God doesn’t want me to do anything for Him. He wants to do something through me.
People say, “Well, I just serve God in my poor, little, old weak way.” I feel like saying, “Well, quit it. He doesn’t want you to serve Him in your poor, little, old weak way. He wants you out of the way, so He can flow through you!”
We need to make ourselves available to God and say, “God, I’m tired of being inhibited. I want to be inhabited by You. I want You to live Your life through me.”
Where have you been standing in the way of God instead of surrendering to God and letting Him live through you?
It seems like only a few days ago that we were celebrating Mother’s Day and I wish I had the words to tell each of the women in the church how important you are to your family and to the church. Like your immediate family the church does not always tell you how much we appreciate your service and dedication to the church. No matter how the church honors you today, I do not think that it will express the true gratitude we feel for you in our hearts. It will just plainly not be enough recognition for your service to your family and the church. God has honored you with one of the greatest gifts given to mankind, the ability to bear children in the image of God. This gift is closely behind the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ or even the gift of life itself. God himself tells us the price on your service to your husband, family, and fellow man is far greater than precious jewels. With all this said, I would like to make a feeble attempt to thank you on behalf of the church for your love and service to everyone. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS.
Last week my iPhone crashed out on me. There was no warning, no “signs”, it just stopped working. Luckily I had backed it up only a day or so earlier while working on a Power Point presentation for our Youth Church service. But I was smart phone-less for several very long days. During that time I realized just how dependent I am on this wonder-gadget. Last fall I went on an intentional iFast while we were in the mountains with another couple from church. But while I was there I still was able to use it for my daily devotional reading and a few other tasks. This time around I couldn’t do any thing with it.
We are blessed to be the first generation to have such unfettered access to God’s Word; I have an entire study library on my phone! Any place we can access the Internet we can read multiple translations of the Bible, search dictionaries and concordances, and read many different commentaries and articles. Today almost everyone has web-enabled device and even more have home web access. And yet we are among the most biblically ignorant, biblically illiterate (US citizens) people on the earth. And we are, by and large, much less biblically knowledgeable than our parents and grandparents. Pitiful…
We have tools that were never before available, communication methods not even dreamed of in my grandparents time, and the most wonderful and important message in history to share, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet there are so many who don’t know Him.
When it comes to God’s Word, we stand without excuse for not putting in the time and effort it takes to know it. We have the tools but lack the love for Him that He has for us. That’s truly pitiful.
As most of you know, our church has been challenged by Pastor Danny to set aside 30 minutes a day, every day, for 40 days to read the Word aloud with our families, beginning and ending in prayer. Today I received the following in an email newsletter from author Ray Comfort at Living Waters. I must say that I know too well the “excuses” he mentions, as we have been fighting many of them in this challenge. I hope that his thoughts might encourage you and strengthen your resolve to have a “family altar” time, too.
If you want “godly offspring,” it is essential that you make the time to establish a family altar. Build it out of the unmovable rocks of resolution. You will need to be resolute about this because it will be a battle. Your flesh will fight it, and you can be sure there will be a continual spiritual battle within your mind. “Circumstances” will constantly crop up. Your kids will occasionally groan when you announce that it is time for devotions. Loved ones may subtly, subconsciously discourage you. However, your time of family devotions should be a priority for your whole family. Don’t be legalistic about it, but as much as possible, put all other things aside before you postpone or cancel family devotions.
It will be an altar of sacrifice, as you sacrifice your time, your energy, and sometimes your dignity. For years, our kids heard, “Six o’clock—reading time.” My wife and I dropped whatever we were doing, and the children learned to do the same, and we gathered as a family. Making it a priority for your family’s growth will speak volumes about its importance in their lives.
Again, you will find that there are many excuses for not having devotions. You may be pressed for time, feel tired, or think you are unable to teach the Bible. However, there is one very powerful reasonwhy you should have daily devotions: the eternal salvation of your children. (Adapted from How to Bring Your Children to Christ…& Keep Them There.)
Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
Most all of you know that I wear braces on both of my legs. They are necessary for me to walk since I have so much nerve damage from a neurological condition I have called CES. In the 13 or so years that I’ve needed them I have often had on and off repairs to be made on them; I’m on my fourth or fifth set (I think) now since they like any thing suffer from wear and tear. The most common, at least in the past year or two, repair is to the rivets that hold the straps in place: I keep having “blow outs” since I had to go to a new prosthetics maker. Since this problem has been more frequent the last 12-18 months I have found that if I replace the rivets myself with Chicago screws I have almost now repeat failures. And I don’t have to go into the office for the repair, which can take days for an appointment.
These “system malfunctions” used to really bother me: no, they would upset and aggravate the daylights out of me. Sunday evening shortly before church time I had my latest rivet pop. It took longer than usual to replace because I had my three year old “assistant” keeping a close eye on my work. After it was done I realized that I hadn’t gotten one bit irritated, aggravated or upset over the ordeal, although I wasn’t happy I missed church.
Last night I was thinking about this, wondering why my change in attitude towards this usually irritating situation. And it dawned on me why: my perspective over the years and months about it has changed. If I have to use and repair these old braces for another 10 minutes or 50 years it’s just a temporary thing. I know that I’m headed Home some day and when I get there I’ll not need these things any more. Braces, canes, and all that goes with them will be done with. And I’ll be able to perfectly praise and worship my God then. Until that day I’ll just have to be patient, fixing and making do with an imperfect body, in a fallen world, looking forward with my eyes on Christ Jesus to that Heavenly Home.