Sunday, September 30, 2007

Giving Up

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14

Sir Winston Churchill, the great English statesman of World War 2 era, went by the nickname of "Old Winnie". I am not sure what that was all about, but I do that despite the very stupid sounding nickname, at least to American ears, a man of fortitude lived behind that name. Churchill was called to America to give a speech to a college graduating class and this is the text of the entire message he gave, "Never, never, never give up!"

What words of hope that is for us as we live out our Christian walk. When hard times come our way, stand firm. When the world around us is falling down, stand resolute. When people are chiding us for our faith, stand tall! We must never give up.

Look at it this way, in the Bible three rewards are promised to those who are willing to be sacrificial and serve the kingdom. The first reward is to be in the presence of Jesus. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). For some people, that may not be their hope and dream, but for the Christian, it is. The second reward is the inheritance of the kingdom prepared since the beginning of time. (See Matthew 24:34) What God has wanted to give His children since the beginning of time, a great Kingdom, beyond description is what we receive. The third reward is seen in the closing chapters of Revelation (see chapters 21 & 22). That is, a place where there is no suffering and heartache because it will all be gone.

So, when it seems like the sacrifice is too much or you can't hold on any longer, remember what Old Winnie said, "Never, never, never give up!" In the words of an old gospel song, we are too close to the crown to give up the cross!

Father, thank you for the hope of today and tomorrow and memories of the past. May we learn from each of them to stand firm when we are tempted to fail. You have given us Christ and for that we shall be eternally grateful! In Jesus name, Amen!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Words, Words, Words

James 1:26: If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his relgion is worthless!

Have you ever said something you were sorry for. In the old novel, "Man Without a Country", after many days of traveling on boats and just seeing land in sight, the man who so vehemently denied his country began to long for a return to the land he remembered. Oh, if only he had been more careful with his words!
Have you ever said that, "I wish I had been more careful with my words!" Did you ever say something that hurt others so deeply, life would never be the same. You can no more take those words back, than you can squirt the deodorant you use back into the can! And it hurts.
Maybe you have made promises to someone else you didn't keep. Maybe you made promises to God you didn't keep. Whatever the case, you sure wish you had.
Each Lord's Day, we have a chance to come and look at where we have been this past week. Maybe you can't change the hurtful things you said, but you can repent of them. And you can make it right between you and God because of the death of Jesus on the cross. Today, start to decide you want to do what is right and you want to mean what you say and you want to do what you say. It will change your life.
And while you are thinking about your words and seasoning your tongue, don't forget on September 26 to stop and praise God for our schools and the people who lead them. They may not always make the "right" decision but they usually make the "best" and I am thankful for them. Would you encourage your children in school to be at the flag pole at the school at 7:45. And, maybe you could join somne of us adults across the street as we pray as well.
God, we don't intend to say mean and unkind words. Sometimes they slip out. Please forgive us when we don't do and say what we should. Help us to be different because the world needs to see different. And, Father, thank you for our schools. Guide its leaders and administrators. Direct its teachers to teach in wisdom and its students to learn. We want to be more like Jesus where we live. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Friday, September 14, 2007

And A Time For Everything Under the Sun

The writer of Ecclesiastes understood very well. Life comes at us in cycles. It is day and then it is night; we are born and then we die; we laugh and then we cry; we work and then we rest.

If this is true, and I am sure that it is, why are we so surprised when we discover we have good days and bad days. You know what I mean--some days we are joyful and excited and everything is right with the world. And the next day, we are down in the dumps and even our faith in God can't pull us out of the shadows we feel, or at least so it seems.

Our hope is this: the Hebrew writer reminds us that Jesus Christ is the same everyday. His love and compassion of yesterday is still the same as today, no matter how bad today is going. And the joys and mountaintops of today, when when we are in the valleys tomorrow, He is still there with us encouraging us and kicking us on through despite the blackness we feel.

Friends, don't give up. If the Bible is right, and I believe it is, this old globe has been spinning for 6000 or more years. And from the very onset, God has been watching it and holding it together and taking care of us. He has seen the cycles; he created them I suppose it is fair to say. So, as you face them, go with God. Trust Christ! And get ready for the ending of the cycles is the ending of the world. And we will go to be with God forever. Praise His Holy name.

Dear God, I confess there are things in this world I don't understand. But as I see the cycles of life, help me to be prepared to face both the good and the bad with integrity. And prepare my soul to be with you forever. Help that to always be good enough for me. In Jesus name, AMEN!

Friday, September 7, 2007


We have received some much needed rain the past couple of September days here in Mulberry Grove. While I don't have the exact numbers, I can see the results of the thirsty ground drinking in the rain. The grass has begun to green and my dried and parched garden is beginning to once again show signs of life. The cracks in the ground are beginning to close and the swimming pool is a bit fuller than it had been. When water quenches the thirst of a parched ground, things begin to happen.

It is safe to say that this applies to our spiritual lives as well. Or at least it should! If you have ever heard anyone tell their "story" of how Jesus changed their lives, it usual starts with a starving or thirsting longing to find something they were missing. And the moment comes when Jesus touches their lives and refreshes them in a new, different, and nearly unbelievable way. Even for those who don't have the remarkable "stuck in the gutter" experiences, the moment when Jesus began to refresh their lives was totally amazing.

If you remember the accounts in the Bible of the final moments of Jesus, you will remember that one of his last 7 phrases was, "I thirst." At that time, someone there gave him a sponge soaked in cheap wine and drugs for the pain. At that moment, Jesus took in the fluid and shortly thereafter he died. Was this a moment in which the laws of nature did not come true? No, because His refreshing brought an even greater refreshing to our lives.

Today, are you thirsty? Why not try a drink of the "living water" that shall means you shall never, deep down inside, thirst again? I am sure all of us could use a little drink!