Too Many Gifts

Comment

Too Many Gifts

The bustle and excitement of the camp created a happy, incessant hum as the young man drew the canvas tent flap aside and squinted into the morning sun. It seemed only a few days ago that Moses, their leader, had gathered everyone together and announced plans to build a tabernacle, a tent that God Himself would live in. Moses had encouraged all the people, young and old, to give generously and cheerfully. Eliab had given a few pieces of gold himself! But now, Moses was again gathering everyone together in the center of camp where the tabernacle was going to be built. Hurrying between the tents, he noticed how happy everyone was. Not too long ago there had been a terrible ordeal when Aaron had made the golden calf. Families were divided and many lost their lives. But since the announcement about the tabernacle, a different spirit had come over everyone!

Arriving in the center of camp, Eliab noticed Moses and Aaron, standing near the mountain of treasure that had been built over the last few days. They both had huge smiles on their faces. Once a crowd had gathered, Moses raised his arm, silencing the people. He then made this shocking statement, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary" (Exodus 36:6). "We have too much material! Please stop giving!" A cheer erupted all around Eliab and everyone scattered throughout the camp to spread the news. They had more than enough for the tabernacle! It's a wonder, thought Eliab, how much is given when it's given cheerfully. I wonder if God multiplied the things we gave? No, that's a silly thought. He shook his head, laughed, and ran to tell his best friend the wonderful news.

Comment

Equipped to Serve

Comment

Equipped to Serve

I love learning more about myself and those around me through personality assessments. As I'm sure you know, there are quite a few different personality typing systems out there. There is, of course, the Zodiac Sign system, which tries to classify you based on the time of year that you're born (I'm a Taurus, which means I'm smart, ambitious, and trustworthy). The Myers-Briggs is probably one of the best known personality typing system out there. It takes into account four different aspects of personality, coming up with sixteen distinct personality types. I'm an Advocate, or INFJ, meaning I'm introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. Check out 16 Personalities for more information and to take an assessment for yourself. Another very popular system is the Enneagram. I have learned more about this one more recently and discovered that I am a Type 4, The Romantic. Apparently I'm creative, sensitive, and moody, and motivated by a need to be unique and understood. To find out which type you are, check out Explore Your Type.

The more I learn about personalities and how unique God has made each one of us, the more I marvel at how we all work together by carrying out distinct roles. Paul used the analogy of a body as he tried to describe the church. To the church in Corinth he said, "But now indeed there are many members, yet one body" (1 Corinthians 12:20). We are each unique, yet we each have a specific role God has equipped us to fill. We should look at our various personalities as the tool belt that God has given us and find ways to serve Him the way that He designed. How has God specifically equipped you to serve Him and the world around you?

Comment

Communication Problems

Comment

Communication Problems

A couple of years ago, shortly after getting my pilots' license, I started renting a Piper Cherokee 140. Unfortunately it had old radio equipment that had its quirks. One of the first trips I made in the plane was a 30-minute flight to pick up some books from one of my friends who was giving them away. I made periodic radio calls as I was taking off, in flight, and landing. No one responded to any of my calls, which was not completely unusual, and I just assumed that there must have been no aircraft around. Come to find out, there was a little switch on the intercom box which was in the wrong position, meaning I was not broadcasting my voice on the radio frequency. No one responded to my radio calls because nobody heard them. Another time, months later, Chelsea and I were flying around sunset, enjoying the beautiful evening. Again, no one responded to my radio calls and this time, as we were coming into the traffic pattern for a landing, I saw another aircraft headed straight for ours already in the pattern. I turned the plane to get out of the way and made a very negative comment to Chelsea about pilots who don't communicate their location. After landing, the pilot of the other plane walked up to me and informed me that my radio mic had been stuck on, meaning that everyone in the air heard everything Chelsea and I said to each other on our entire flight. We also had been hogging the frequency, meaning that no one else could say anything on the radio.

Thankfully, shortly after that, the Cherokee had new radios installed and we never had any problems after that. But thinking about those two experiences in that airplane makes me think of how I feel sometimes when I try to talk to God. It sometimes feels like I'm praying into thin air and He doesn't respond. But could it be that, just like the Pharisee Jesus talked about in Luke 18, sometimes I'm praying with myself, the switch on my soul's intercom in the wrong position? Or maybe I'm so busy talking, hogging the frequency, that I don't even give God time to respond! God promises us, "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you" (Jeremiah 29:12). He hears and answers your prayers. Just make sure you give Him the opportunity to respond.

Comment

Why Were You Created?

Comment

Why Were You Created?

Why were you created? It's a simple enough question, but do you know the answer? Some will say that we were created to do missions and evangelism, others will say that we were created to show love. Still others may say it's to relieve the suffering we see around us. Each of these are wonderful reasons, but they don't adequately answer the question. John Piper says this in his book Let the Nations be Glad, "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”

As we think of the heavenly beings, we realize that they, also, were created to worship. There's a beautiful picture that John describes seeing. "The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!'" But not only them! The passage goes on: "Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 'You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created'”(Revelation 4:8-11). Those who are already in heaven, such as the four living creatures, exist to worship their creator. In addition, the twenty-four elders, humans who were raised with Jesus and who are now in heaven, also continually worship Jesus. If our ultimate purpose is to worship God, don't you think we should start fulfilling it here and now? How can you make worship the foundation of all you do?

Comment

Walk With Integrity

Comment

Walk With Integrity

One of my goals in 2019 is to make sure my life is consistent with my core values. Last summer I completed a class for my graduate degree on time and life management for pastors. One of the assignments for that class was to spend time alone and in prayer writing a personal constitution, starting with twenty to thirty core values. I ended up with thirty, which is surprising to me and anyone else who knows how short and to the point I am. These values cover things from doing all things to the glory of God to delegation. One that I'm especially trying to focus on in this new year is value number nine: Embrace humility (Proverbs 27:2). Silence is golden. As the saying goes, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” Don’t defend yourself. Don’t think you are better than others. Remain teachable.

In the book of Proverbs, the wisest man to ever live wrote this: "He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known" (Proverbs 10:9). The word integrity has its origin in the French and Latin and simply means to be intact. It has developed a meaning of being upright and moral; but in its simplest form, integrity means cohesive and unified. It basically means that a person with integrity lives a life that is in agreement with the core values that person professes to believe. This makes the person intact, or whole. What are your core values? If you don't have any, I would suggest finding a quiet spot where you can jot some down. Then live a life that exemplifies them because when you walk with integrity, you walk securely.

Comment

My Resolution

Comment

My Resolution

Happy New Year! It's hard to believe that 2018 is now just a memory and we are already two days into 2019. We're probably far enough into the new year that you've already failed at some of your resolutions. Which, talking about resolutions, when did that become a thing? According to History.com, the Babylonians started it somewhere around 4,000 years ago. Their new year, which began when they planted their crops in March, was a time of celebration, reaffirming their loyalty to their king and promising the gods that they would repay their debts and return any objects they borrowed. The Romans picked up the tradition when Julias Caesar created the calendar we now have around 46 BC, and January 1 became a time to offer sacrifices to their god Janus and promise good behavior for the coming year. Christians picked up the practice of welcoming the new year with a look back at the mistakes of the previous year and resolving to do and be better in the future.

When I think about resolutions, my mind goes to several passages of scripture where people resolved to do things. I think of Daniel purposing in his heart not to defile himself, or Paul deciding to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. I remember Joseph, who wouldn't sin against God by taking Potiphar's wife for himself, or Jesus Himself who said, "Not my will, but Thine be done." But the one that seems most applicable to me right now is found in Paul's epistle to the Philippians: "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13, 14). May this be our one resolution as we move into 2019. Let's forget those things which are behind, reach toward those things which are ahead, and press ever onward toward the prize.

Comment

The Reason

Comment

The Reason

It's one of those phrases that makes it onto cards, ornaments, Facebook posts, and a whole array of other Christmas marketing. I've seen it a hundred times and don't really care to see it again. But here I go, reminding you of the phrase: Jesus is the reason for the season. I'm sorry - I know you're probably just as tired of the mantra as I am. Yet, I wonder, when was the last time you actually thought about it? In the midst of all the tinsel and lights, the picturesque snow villages and manger scenes, have you taken a moment to realize what all this is for? Jesus came - giving up everything He held dear, possibly forever - for what? A life where He was hated, despised, and ultimately nailed to a cross? Why would He do such a thing? To quote an old song written by Dottie Rambo, "For what earthly reason would the Heavenly Father send down His Son / To suffer rejection and pay for crimes He had not done? / For what earthly reason would the Father let Him hang on a tree?" The answer finally comes: "I wept with the answer, that one earthly reason was me."

Next time you see the phrase, "Jesus is the reason for the season," instead of rolling your eyes, pause a moment and think about what it means. Two thousand years ago, a man by the name of Joseph had just found out that his betrothed was pregnant with a baby who was not his son. As he was preparing to divorce her quietly, an angel appeared to him, telling him that the child was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. He went on, "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). What an amazing sacrifice Christ made - for you! Won't you thank Him this Christmas?

Comment

Harnessing Difficulties

Comment

Harnessing Difficulties

Last week we were on a cruise in the Bahamas with my dad. While sitting on the beach in Nassau, he spied a couple catamaran sailboats that people were using to go out into the ocean a little ways. He talked with one of the guys and was able to work out a deal for us to take one out for an hour. The problem is, none of us had ever operated a sailboat before. But no worries, the guy gave us some quick instructions and we were off - at least, off the land. We were, however, drifting directly into the swimming area. After nearly running over someone, the sail began to fill with the wind push us out to open water! Over the next sixty minutes, we learned how to tighten and loosen the sail so that the wind would propel us any way we wanted to go - even into the wind! It boggles my mind, but there's something magical about harnessing this powerful force of nature and allowing it to propel you.

Often, we look at wind as a negative thing. We think of the winds of strife and imagine our lives battered and tossed around by them. However, as we were sailing, I saw that the wind can be harnessed and used for good, even when it was pointing in a direction we didn't want to go. The Apostle Paul was sitting in a prison cell, writing a letter to the believers in Philippi. Many people would have been discouraged and disheartened to be in his situation, yet he confidently proclaimed that he was content in all circumstances, finishing his statement with, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Through Christ, we can harness the difficulties that come our way and allow them to propel us forward. What an incredible God we serve!

Comment

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