A New Name

Comment

A New Name

How important is a person's name? I tend to think they are quite important. In fact, have you ever found out someone's name and then visualized what they look and act like even before you met them? Apparently parents tend to like names that go along with their own personalities and since children tend to have personalities similar to those of their parents, the names match their personalities as well. And of course, based on the name, we can usually have a pretty good idea of how old the person is, since different names are popular different years. I just read a list of the top ten boys and girls names for 2018 and here are the results. The top ten boys names were: Jackson, Liam, Noah, Aiden, Caden, Grayson, Lucas, Mason, Oliver, and Elijah. The top ten girls names were: Sophia, Olivia, Emma, Ava, Isabella, Aria, Riley, Amelia, Mia, and Layla.

In the Bible, names are really important. In fact, when an angel appeared to a woman and told her that she would have a child, the angel usually named the baby. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary; and later, to her fiancé, Joseph; he told them to call their baby Jesus; because He would save His people from their sins. Of all the names on earth, I think the name of Jesus is the most precious of them all. But as we accept the gift of salvation Jesus came to offer, our names no longer apply to us the way they once did. Our characters and personalities begin to change to match His glorious character and personality. And when we finally get to heaven, we will have a new name, describing who we truly are in Christ. Jesus describes it this way: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). I want to know what my new name is, don't you?

Comment

God Hears

Comment

God Hears

Chelsea and I are currently in California, taking a few days of vacation surrounding Thanksgiving. We spent a couple of days in northern California, visiting my grandparents, and we are now in the Napa Valley area, visiting Chelsea's family. Most of our visit here has been quite smokey. There has been a constant haze with limited visibility, and our lungs burn after awhile due to the constant irritation caused by the smoke. Today it started raining, which has helped alleviate the smoke smell, but it has been a constant reminder that, just a few miles away, many people have lost everything due to the Camp Fire. There have been 18,421 structures burned, including over 13,500 homes. There have also been 81 confirmed deaths so far. With Thanksgiving approaching, it seems that those who have lost everything have nothing to be thankful for.

Hannah was the first wife of Elkanah, a Levite who was no longer needed at the tabernacle due to corruption and politics surrounding the worship services. She discovered that she could not have children, however, which caused Elkanah to marry another woman, so he could carry on his family name. Being barren was a fate worse than death, and Hannah cried out to the Lord, asking Him to give her a son. He finally did, and as she held the baby Samuel in her arms, she exclaimed, "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him" (1 Samuel 1:27). In her darkest days, she was reminded that God is a God who hears and answers prayer. I'm not sure what you're going through or how dark your days have gotten, but don't give up! God hears and answers your prayers, and that's something to be thankful for.

Comment

Go to Search

Comment

Go to Search

Pastor D. J. Soto was a mega-church pastor in Pennsylvania. He had helped pioneer what had now become a multi-site Assembly of God church. This was his comfort zone, his safe place. But he felt like God was calling him and his family into a unique church planting ministry. They moved into a thirty-foot travel trailer and began driving. Suddenly, an idea came to D. J. Why not start preaching online in virtual reality? Out of this idea was born the VR Church. It is the first virtual reality church and each week people put on their virtual reality headsets from wherever they are and worship God together. It provides a sense of community and a way for people to get to know God together with people they would never meet in real life. It also allows people who would not feel comfortable walking into a regular church an opportunity to worship within their comfort zone.

When I saw something about this church in the news this morning, it immediately fascinated me. As a church, we should be the first ones to take advantage of new ways to share Jesus with people. Christ Himself gave us the example, not only in His own life but also in His teachings. He once told a story about a shepherd who had lost one of his sheep. “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4). He didn't expect the sheep to find its way back to the fold. He went to where the sheep was and brought it home. As Christians, we should be doing the same. Find ways to connect with people who wouldn't have a chance of finding their way to Christ on their own. You'll be surprised at who you may find.

Comment

Looking and Trembling

Comment

Looking and Trembling

In our prayer meeting in Pulaski, we are reading through the book Patriarch’s and Prophets by Ellen White. Yesterday we were talking about the Israelites, their Exodus from Egypt and crossing of the Red Sea. Psalm 77 was referenced in the chapter, where Asaph writes a thrilling, poetic account of the occurrences that day. Here it is in the New Living Translation: “When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths. The clouds poured down rain; the thunder rumbled in the sky. Your arrows of lightning flashed. Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world! The earth trembled and shook. Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds” (Psalm 77:16-20, NLT).

Isn't that a powerful account? Think of how amazing it would have been to stand there as the waters saw God and trembled. Imagine the arrows of lightning as they flashed and the thunder rumbling in the sky. And yet, those who were there soon forgot the amazing things God had done for them. It seems that every time some new trouble showed up, they blamed Moses and wanted to go back to Egypt. Just a few days after the Red Sea had split for them to walk through, they again were complaining; this time, because they were out of food. "And the children of Israel said to them, 'Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger'” (Exodus 16:3). We can wonder at their unbelief, but how many times do we do the same thing? God shows us that He is powerful and that He can lead us and yet we doubt His love and goodness. Oh let us remember the working of God even when things don't seem to be going well, because the problem may very well be looking at God and trembling.

Comment

Priceless Advice

Comment

Priceless Advice

Have you ever had someone give you advice that you use on a regular basis? Maybe it was something that you've never heard anyone else share, yet it's something that you couldn't imagine living without. I can think of a couple examples. I still remember when my dad, as I was learning to drive, taught me that you turn on your blinker around the same time you put your foot on the brake before a turn. Even though I have never heard anyone else teach that, there is hardly a time that my foot touches the brake that my hand doesn't automatically turn on my blinker. Another example has to do with aviation. My flight instructor gave me a rule of thumb for knowing when to start my descent into an airport. I've read all kinds of complicated formulas and equations online that give this answer, but my instructor told me to start descending three miles out for each thousand feet I need to descend. He said it works in nearly every situation with nearly every kind of aircraft. And so far, it has. I couldn't imagine flying without knowing this even though I've never heard anyone else teach it.

When Jesus was on earth, He was teaching a lot of things that no one else was teaching. In fact, the people were tired of listening to the rabbis and religious teachers of His day; but when Jesus began His ministry, they were constantly following Him. After Jesus finished His Sermon on the Mount, the Bible says, "And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matthew 7:28, 29). Jesus is still giving priceless advice with authority today. Read the Bible and I guarantee you'll find something in there that no one else is teaching that will change your life if you let it.

Comment

Follow Me

Comment

Follow Me

A question Chelsea and I occasionally consider is this: If Jesus were on earth today, would we be His followers? At first it sounds like a silly question. I mean, we're Christians, I'm a pastor; of course we would follow Him! But would we? Stop and think about the question for yourself. Jesus' followers left everything behind and went completely against the church to travel with someone who was a celebrity at times and an outcast at others. Would you do that? If some guy showed up at your workplace and invited you to follow Him, would you walk out those doors? Now do you see why I consider the answer to that question?

There was a time when several people came up to Jesus and asked to be His followers. But each one had some excuse why they couldn't do it just then. "Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, 'Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' Then He said to another, 'Follow Me.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.' And another also said, 'Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.' But Jesus said to him, 'No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God'" (Luke 9:57-62). It's easy to come up with excuses and find reasons to not step out of our comfort zones. I realize that Jesus isn't showing up asking for people to literally follow Him anymore, but He does still ask us to step out of what's comfortable. I want to challenge you, as I challenge myself, to follow Him no matter the cost.

Comment

The Gift of God

Comment

The Gift of God

Earlier this year, a young man by the name of Mamoudou Gassama, an immigrant from Mali living in Paris, went with a group of friends to watch a football match at a little restaurant. Suddenly they noticed a commotion across the street. People were yelling and cars were honking. Looking up, Mamoudou noticed a four-year old boy dangling from the railing of a fifth-story balcony. He was hanging on for dear life nearly fifty feet above the street below. Without a moment's hesitation, Mamoudou ran across the street and began pulling himself up the exterior of the apartment complex from balcony to balcony. Finally reaching the boy, he pulled him to safety while everyone cheered. As a result of his heroic actions, he was given a medal and certificate of heroism from the French president, was granted French residency and a fast track to becoming a French citizen, and was given an internship as a firefighter. Last month he became a citizen of France.

You know, each one of us could be represented by that little four-year-old boy. We wander outside where we don't belong and clamber over the guard rails that have been set up to protect us. As we dangle there, we realize that the only thing our actions have earned us is death. But just in time, Jesus comes rushing over to rescue us. He lifts us up with his big strong arm and hauls us to safety. Paul tells us that, "the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). We've all climbed over that railing. We all have earned death. But Jesus is there to rescue us. Isn't that wonderful news!

Comment

When Did Fairs Begin?

Comment

When Did Fairs Begin?

Last week it seemed all of Lawrence County came to a standstill to enjoy the Middle Tennessee District Fair. The Lawrenceburg church had a booth there, so Chelsea and I spent quite a bit of time organizing that and making sure it was covered for most evenings at least. There's just nothing quite like a good, old fashioned county fair. The deep fried foods, especially funnel cake and deep fried Oreos; the art and handcraft projects; the produce and livestock; and of course, the carnival rides; all these together make it a unique and unforgettable week each fall. For one week the entire community has one thing on their mind. It brings us together and wears us out. But no matter how exhausted we are by the end of it, we're already looking forward to next year.

This last week got me thinking. When did fairs start? What is their origin? The website for the International Association of Fairs and Expositions has a history of fairs and that's where I learned that fairs originated back in the time of the Bible. Nearly 600 years before Christ, Ezekiel records a lamentation about the destruction of the city of Tyre. Over and over he talks about the different countries that would come and sell at the fairs the city would hold. Finally he says, "Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin" (Ezekiel 27:27). Fairs have long been a place where people gathered and sold their wares. Slowly the fair evolved in Europe from simply a marketplace to a venue for competition and entertainment as well. During the 19th century fairs became increasingly popular in the United States, something that lasts until today. No matter how fun these events are, however, we need to remember that one day, as it did in Tyre, all these things will be gone. The only thing that will be left is our relationship with God and those who we have invited to join us in heaven. Always remember that this world is not our home, we're just a passing through. We should enjoy our time here, but let's not get too attached. And let's use every opportunity possible to invite others home with us.

Comment

Love Stories

Comment

Love Stories

Love stories fascinate us as humans. We are obsessed with the pursuit of the "happily ever after." The intrigue and mystery of a budding romance captivates us. They are the plot lines of every major motion picture and every story worth writing down. I have to admit that I'm not any different. I love the idea of love and especially enjoy it when it happens to someone I care about. This week I was privileged to be there as my brother, Seth, asked his girlfriend to marry him. As he got down on one knee and Agnes said yes, I have to admit that there were a few tears welling up and spilling over. It's such an exciting moment and while I know that love is hard work and marriage isn't easy, I know that, with God's help, their marriage will be amazing.

Maybe we love love stories because we are all caught up in the greatest love story ever known: the love story between God and His people. There's a beautiful passage in Isaiah where God says, "You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you" (Isaiah 62:4, 5). As with any relationship, love is hard work and a relationship with God isn't easy. But the good news is that God is there to help us every step of the way and very soon we will enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb. I can't wait for that day!

Comment

It Will Stand Forever

Comment

It Will Stand Forever

I was listening to the radio the other night and a song came on that mentioned somebody getting their phone turned on. And suddenly it hit me that people used to have to get their phone turned on, much like they do their electricity. Now, if you're laughing at me, just realize that I have never had a home phone. My parents did when I was growing up, but I have never needed one since leaving home. It's amazing how things have changed and how many things are different than they used to be. Even spending money has changed drastically. It's becoming more and more common to be able to pay with Apple Pay from my watch or phone so I don't even have to pull my wallet out of my pocket. But if someone only takes cash, I better want it bad enough that I will drive to an ATM, withdraw money (in multiples of 20), and then go to wherever I'm spending that money. If I don't want it that bad, I'll find somewhere else to purchase it.

As I think about how things are changing, it makes me all the more thankful for something that doesn't change. In the book of Isaiah we have a beautiful promise: "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). Yes, the format of His word has changed. We no longer read it in Hebrew on parchment scrolls. Today it has been translated numerous times into English and we can read it in a bound book or on our iPads or iPhones or even listen to it being read or dramatized. But even though the medium has changed, His word has remained the same. And no matter how crazy life gets or how many other things change around us, God's word will stand forever.

Comment

For a Common Goal

Comment

For a Common Goal

Thinking of a group of people from different backgrounds, with different experiences, coming together and being in one place at one time is very fascinating to me. I think of this as I sit in a restaurant or on a bus. I look around and wonder about the story each person has. One of the most dramatic instances of a group of forty people from many different backgrounds coming together was on United Flight 93. This morning I was sitting in my chair, tears streaming down my cheeks as I read an article published a month and a half after September 11, Flight 93: Forty Lives, One Destiny. It tells the stories of the forty passengers and crew who banded together on that fateful day, to create such a commotion that the terrorists had to crash their aircraft into a field in Pennsylvania rather than accomplishing their goal of crashing into the Capital. And today, a memorial is standing in that field, commemorating the dedication and selflessness of forty people who chose to unite when it mattered most.

The church is also a place where people from different backgrounds, with different experiences, are supposed to come together in one place, at one time, to accomplish the impossible. We are facing a much more dangerous enemy than Al-Qaeda, but Jesus promises that Satan cannot overcome us. In fact, in the book of Matthew He says, "I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it" (Matthew 16:18). It's easy to get distracted by people's faults or the ways that they annoy us, but if we would just remember the common enemy and unite with our brothers and sisters, we too can thwart Satan's ultimate plans. May we pray for the dedication and selflessness it will take to unite together when it matters most. And may God be honored and glorified through His church.

Comment

Soar Above

Comment

Soar Above

History was made on Sunday. For the third time in a week the Airbus Perlan Mission II Glider flew in the stratosphere above Patagonia and for the third time in a week, it broke its own world record. This time it flew higher than the famous U2 - the Air Force's reconnaissance aircraft that climbed to 73,737 feet in 1989. With only rare stratospheric air currents to power it, this glider soared to a remarkable 76,124 feet. Of course, it has yet to break the record created by the SR-71 Blackbird at 85,069 feet, but since the glider is designed to fly up to 90,000 feet, it's simply a matter of time.

Airbus-Perlan-Mission-II-surpasses-U-2-02.jpg

It's baffling to me how an aircraft weighing only 1,500 pounds and lacking an engine can meet and surpass the records held by much larger aircraft with powerful engines. Yet the engineers and pilots at Airbus have managed to harness the wind, a force that can be deadly and wreak terrible destruction, and are using it to cause the glider to soar higher than any glider before it. Isn't it the same in our lives? There are those around us who seem to have it all together. They are equipped with the latest and greatest and have the thrust behind them to catapult them to great heights. And then there's the wind. Our lives aren't easy and it sometimes feels like we are battling a hurricane. But as a child of God, we can look at the storms around us and smile into the wind because we know that God can turn the things that could kill us into something He can harness. We believe the promise found in the book of Isaiah, "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31). Allow God to harness the wind in your life and cause you to soar higher than anything has ever soared before.

Comment

Pride Goes Before a Fall

Comment

Pride Goes Before a Fall

One of Chelsea's favorite TV shows is Masterchef. Now, when I first heard of this show, I thought it sounded like one of the most boring ideas ever. A bunch of people cook and bake a bunch of things and get eliminated based on how they do, finally leaving only one "Masterchef." Well, I'll have to admit, it's not as boring as it sounds. Somehow cooking food competitively is rather exciting! But what tends to be even more interesting is the interaction of the contestants and how they individually deal with stress. It's also interesting to see the personalities of the different "home cooks." One of the girls on this season was honestly really good. She was an incredible baker and could easily have won the entire thing. The problem was that she knew it. She was constantly talking about how she would come out on top of a challenge and how her stuff would always be the best. And every time, she did. I began to wonder if she would actually get away with it or if her pride would catch up with her. Well, in one of the recent episodes, she chose to go head-to-head with one of the other contestants on baking a cake. She was trying to send the other girl home, but through a fluke lapse in judgment, she made a mistake that ended up sending her home instead.

In the book of Proverbs we read, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). It's ok to be confident. It's ok to be good at something. But when we let it go to our head, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Remember that every talent you have, every ability you acquire, is a resource you are managing for God. He's the one who has supplied you with these things so you can bring honor and glory to Him. If we forget that and start thinking that we are doing everything in our own strength and for our own glory, we are one step away from disaster. It may look like we're doing well, but in the end, pride always goes before a fall.

Comment

Failure is Sometimes Best

Comment

Failure is Sometimes Best

Looking at successful people and companies, it's sometimes easy to get discouraged. It's easy to think that some people are just lucky and that we could never achieve what they have. What we don't see is the hard work and failure that most of these people and companies have endured. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Colonel Sanders are synonymous for their fried chicken recipe, but it wasn't until the Colonel was 62 that he was able to sell the recipe that made him a success. In fact, it was the 1,010th prospective buyer that actually bought it. Had Sanders given up after even a thousand no's, he would have never achieved success. Similar stories are the ones of the game company Rovio who made the highly successful game Angry Birds. It was their 52nd game and they were on the verge of bankruptcy when they had their break. Or Walt Disney who was fired from a Missouri newspaper for not being creative enough and went bankrupt within two years of founding his first animation studio. Or even Steve Jobs and Apple who both experienced failure before making the biggest come back in history. But it was Jobs who said years later: "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me."

You know, it's easy to look at other Christians or giants of faith in the past or present and see only their successes as well. We think about how strong their connection with God is and that they are so blessed to have such perfect lives. But what we don't see is the pain, the struggle, the failures, the doubt that these people deal with. And then there are plenty of people who just pretend that everything's alright. Maybe they know that they can't achieve any of this on their own so they fake it, hoping no one will notice. Jesus told the story of such a person. It was a religious leader who acted as if everything was good and was proud of his religion. But there was another character in the story - a known sinner who had reached rock bottom. Someone who knew he couldn't do it but embraced failure as an opportunity to allow God to do something different in him. Jesus ended the story by saying, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14). Everyone fails. Everyone makes mistakes. Don't try to hide it and pretend everything's alright. Admit your failure, humble yourself, and see the failure as an opportunity for God to transform you.

Comment

Are You a Body Double?

Comment

Are You a Body Double?

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day when I stumbled upon a video of the actress Reese Witherspoon introducing her long-time body double, Marilee Lessley. A body double is someone who stands in for an actor when the actor is not specifically needed, such as shots from behind or over the shoulder with someone else talking. They also stand in when an actor is playing two separate people and they both need to appear in the same scene. Basically it means that Marilee has appeared in many of the films Reese Witherspoon has yet you would have never known it had you not read the credits very carefully. Her life and career is caught up in being invisible, living someone else's life.

Thankfully, Marilee's life doesn't simply revolve around being a body double. She's an entrepreneur and someone who has a life of her own, but I began to wonder how many of us are actually living our lives as body doubles. Everyone around us seems to be telling us what life we need to live. Commercials show us what we can't live without, social media is filled with our friends' and influencers' highlight reel, and even our own minds tell us we need to talk and act a certain way to fit in. But is the life that we live really the one that God is calling us to live? The Psalmist says, speaking to God, "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139:16, NLT). God has a plan for your life. Are you following it? Or are you to busy being somebody else's body double?

Comment

Slow Down!

Comment

Slow Down!

One of the things I love about traveling is the ability it gives to step into someone else's culture and get a snapshot of how other people live. There's a quote attributed to St. Augustine which goes like this: “The world is a book, and those who don't travel only read one page.” This summer when Chelsea and I were in Europe, the thing that struck me most was the pace of life over there. Each country is different and obviously differences arise within countries, but overall the pace of Switzerland and Italy was far slower than it is in the United States. Even Rome, which I thought would be hectic and rushed, was laid back and relaxed. I realize that Lawrenceburg has a slow pace when compared to the rest of the US but even our quiet town seems to be balancing on a treadmill compared to the places we visited. Of course, expecting to spend a minimum of two hours whenever we went to eat was something that at first was frustrating, but by the time we left, I was getting used to spending a little more time and actually enjoying life.

As I think about the pace of life we are accustomed to in the United States, I can't help but think about how different it is from God's ideal. I don't believe He ever intended us to run around, cramming our schedules and destroying every bit of margin we may have. In the book of Genesis we read that God came down and spent the evenings with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3 tells us what happened that first night after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8). After they had sinned, they didn't want to spend time with their Creator anymore. But before that, they looked forward to this time of fellowship and relaxation. Walking with their maker in the cool of the day was the highlight of their lives. Even though we can't physically walk and talk with God anymore, He still longs to spend time with us. Only when we slow down, however, can we hear the voice of God calling for us. Won't you create the space needed to spend time with Him today?

Comment

People Need the Lord

Comment

People Need the Lord

One of my all time favorite songs is a song made popular by Steve Green in the mid eighties: People Need the Lord. The verse begins so melancholy, yet so real. "Every day they pass me by // I can see it in their eyes // Empty people filled with care // Headed who knows where // On they go through private pain // Living fear to fear // Laughter hides their silent cries // Only Jesus hears." Isn't that what we see, day in and day out? Isn't that what people all around us are experiencing? Maybe you're experiencing this yourself. The pain is so relatable, so real, yet we mask it by laughter so no one will know. But the chorus gives the ultimate remedy. "People need the Lord // People need the Lord // At the end of broken dreams // He’s the open door // People need the Lord // People need the Lord // When will we realize // People need the Lord."

I don't know what you're going through. I don't know what you're broken dreams are. But Jesus is the open door at the end of those dreams! He is promising you just as He promised the Apostle Paul so many years ago, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). When you look at the world around you, when you look at yourself in the mirror, and all you see is empty eyes and broken dreams, remember that His grace is sufficient. You may not feel useful, you may not feel worthy, but you don't have to be because Jesus is. And with His strength inside of you, He will accomplish extraordinary things! Yes, all people, including you and me, need the Lord.

Comment

The Message to Give

1 Comment

The Message to Give

This last week I was listening to the latest episode of the Building a Storybrand Podcastand one of the guests was an artist named Lisa Shirk. She had recently been through an interesting experience. She had spent five weeks as the resident artist in St. Gertrude's Monastery, a nunnery in Idaho. The lessons she learned from this experience were fascinating. She talked about how it took her about a week to adjust to the pace of life and absence of technology and influences from the outside world. Even though she participated in the meditation, worship, and meal times with the nuns, she still had most of the day to just work in her studio. At first, she was anxious because she wasn't sure if she would be able to create anything amazing while she was there but the nuns reminded her that this experience was about her and letting it transform her. Anything she created would be an outflow of what was occurring inside. Eventually she began work on a project encapsulating the seven days of creation which I think are absolutely breathtaking.

As I thought about her experience, I realized that I often have the same problem. I may not be an artist per se, but as a pastor I'm expected to "create" new content on a constant basis. Sometimes I get anxious, wondering if I'll come up with something to say. But I need the reminder that anything I say should be an outflow of the relationship I have with God. It really is just about the experience and letting God transform me. In the book of Habakkuk we read about the differences between idols and the God of heaven. To summarize the passage it says, “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him" (Habakkuk 2:20). You may not be a pastor or artist but you have a message to share. As you sit in the presence of God, waiting and keeping silence before Him, you will have an experience to share. Let that message be the one you give.

1 Comment

A Bigger Purpose

Comment

A Bigger Purpose

A small animal suddenly darted in front of the Jeep Patriot, causing Angela to swerve. Next thing she knew, cold, salty water was rising above her knees and her head was throbbing. Touching it, she discovered her head was bleeding profusely. Behind her stood the 250-foot Big Sur cliff that her vehicle had just come careening off of, landing upright on the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean. But now, her Jeep was filling up with water fast. Finding an emergency tool, she broke the glass and swam to the safety of the cliff. Climbing to a safe ledge, she curled up and slept until daylight. When she awoke, it didn't take long for her to realize that she was alone. The closest she could get to civilization was a high spot on the shore that allowed her to see the cars speeding by along Highway 1, but none of them ever saw her. It wasn't until a week later that a couple of surfers-turned-fishers due to the lack of good waves happened to climb down to the beach, walk an hour north, and come across Angela's vehicle and finally Angela. Help soon arrived and she is currently recovering in a hospital, sharing her miraculous story with friends, family, and the rest of the world. She posted to Facebook that she "can't imagine that there isn't a bigger purpose for (her) in this life."

I don't know if you've had an experience where you know you should have died but you're still alive. I know I've had a few of those. As I was reading the news yesterday and discovered Angela's story, it reminded me just how fragile life is but just how amazing our God is. He takes care of us and loves us despite our sometimes foolish mistakes. When Jesus was on earth He said, "What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it" (Matthew 10:29, NLT). God cares about the smallest creature He has created and He certainly cares about you. I believe that God has a big purpose for each one of our lives. Won't you ask Him His purpose for you is?

Comment

Rescued

Comment

Rescued

Yesterday the entire world breathed a sigh of relief and sent prayers of Thanksgiving heavenward. The twelve members of the Wild Boars Soccer Team and their coach have all been successfully rescued from the Thai cave where they have been trapped for the last three weeks. Due to falling oxygen levels, high water levels, and forecasts of rain, the rescue operation became an urgent race against time. The passage was long and narrow, flooded with water. Some of the kids on the soccer team couldn't even swim, so an hours-long scuba journey seemed nearly impossible. In fact, one of the Thai Navy SEALS died last week when he got caught by a flash flood after delivering oxygen to the team. But through what some have called a miracle, the entire team has been rescued and is safe.

As I thought about this rescue and how the world has rallied to make it possible, I thought of another rescue that each one of us is involved in. When He was on earth, Jesus made this statement: "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:20). Just like that soccer team, we are lost and in danger of suffocating. There seems to be an impassable channel between us and the fresh air and sunlight of God's presence. But don't panic! You may not know how to swim, but that doesn't matter. Jesus is on the biggest rescue mission the universe has ever seen. And He will successfully rescue all those who are willing to be rescued. Won't you grab hold of hope and follow Jesus out of this suffocating entrapment and into the glory of His presence?

Comment