Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lonely Travelers at Waffle House

On Christmas Eve two lonely travelers sat at the bar in a Waffle House many miles from their home. The Waffle House had been selected after driving to several other restaurants. It was the only place still open at that hour. Absent-mindedly the travelers watched the cooks and waitresses prepare food for a large number of customers. The feelings of many of the people in the restaurant that night were probably expressed by a customer who selected a "someone's done somebody wrong" song on the jukebox.
It was not the feelings of everyone present, however. My wife and I were the lonely travelers, but we were far from feeling sad. This stop had been planned for days. It was close to the halfway point on a trip to see our granddaughters. By traveling part of the way after work on Christmas Eve, we could get to our destination earlier on Christmas Day. Besides, you can't be very sad when you have a trunk full of toys for two special little girls. Thinking about the excitment we would see on their faces removed all thoughts of sadness that night.
Our Christmas Eve experience reminded us that we don't always know the whole story when we look at the circumstances around people. It is so easy to add our own interpretation to what we see when it may not be that way at all. What may look to us like sadness or unfairness may only be a stepping stone to joy and happiness. Be sure to discover all the facts before you jump to conclusions!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Party Planners

Over the years I have laughing referred to this time of year as the time when I begin my party ministry. As you can imagine, pastors get invited to a lot of parties during the Christmas season - Sunday School parties, denominational parties, parties for leadership boards, individual parties, staff parties, etc. In spite of the attack it makes on my waistline, it is a rewarding time. Being with the people of the church in times of fellowship and fun is wonderful! I think my record was attendance at four parties in one evening. As someone once said...it's a tough ministry, but someone has to do it.
Luke 15 tells us about a party that took place in the home of a dad whose son had just returned after spending far too long living a wild life. It also tells us about great rejoicing (parties?) by a shepherd who found his lost sheep and a housewife who found her lost coin. When we are told that there will be great rejoicing in Heaven when one sinner repents and begins to follow Jesus, it really shouldn't surprise us. There is certainly valid reason to celebrate when someone accepts God's forgiveness and changes the direction of his or her life.
Do you know what that tells us? That means that all of us really do have party ministries. We are party planners. No, we don't have to do the decorating or prepare the food. We just have to lead friends, relatives, neighbors and associates into a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Every time we do that, we cause a party to begin. The question we have to ask ourselves is: How many parties have I planned lately?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Questions and Answers

We just returned home from a trip to see our grandsons and their parents. Our trip there left me with some questions: Did I have to pay extra for my luggage because it went to a different city than I did? Why couldn't the airport post the correct gate information when flights change gates? Was it really necessary for us to miss our connecting flight in Atlanta just so we could have time for lunch? Isn't there a better time to deliver lost luggage than midnight?

As important as my travel questions are, they aren't nearly as important as some of these questions that people face everyday. Why did I do such a stupid thing when I knew it was wrong? Is any habit really worth placing my relationship with God at risk? Am I really happy when I am out-of-step with God? Can God ever forgive what I've done? Why am I alive? Where do I want to spend eternity? Is there any real reason why I cannot choose to live for God right now?

Let me try to answer the questions that deal with life. We usually do stupid things because we are trusting ourselves instead of leaning on God. No habit is worth risking a positive relationship with God. No one is ever truly happy as long as he or she is out-of-step with God. God can and will forgive anything we confess to Him. We are alive for two reasons: to prepare for eternity and to share God's love with others. Hopefully, you want to spend eternity with God. Surely there is nothing legitimate that can keep you from choosing to live for God.

Now, will you answer my travel questions? I can't seem to come up with any good answers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Strategic Planning

Unusually crowded days require strategic planning. A doctor's appointment followed by the need to meet a repairman followed by another appointment recently threatened my sanity and my ability to be on time for everything. To keep from missing the middle appointment, I purposely arrived at the first appointment thirty minutes early hoping that I could get in and out quickly. It worked! I was actually finished with my appointment before the appointment was even scheduled. That made it possible for me to be on time for the next meeting which made the entire day go smoothly. It doesn't work that way all the time, but it certainly would not have worked if I had not made a plan and followed it.

Strategic planning helps us in our walk with Christ as well. Leaving things to chance leaves gaps and huge holes in our understanding of God and keeps us from developing the faith we need to face life. By developing a plan and following it we can become stronger Christians and be better prepared to overcome whatever obstacles we face. Our plan may be as simple as reading the Bible every day or as complex as pursuing a degree in theology. Here is the good news: your plan will produce positive results and will help you grow stronger if you trust God to help you develop it and then put it into practice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

God Builds His Church

After enjoying an unusual visitation by the Holy Spirit in our services on Sunday, I was intrigued when I picked up the Bible for my devotions the next day. The verse that caught my attention was this one found in Psalm 127:1 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. I was also reminded that Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 (NLT) ...upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

Far too often we are so consumed with trying to "make the church grow" that we forget that it is God who builds the church. We must let Him do His work. Sure we do our best planning, but then we must place the church in God's hands so He can build it as He alone can. When He is in full control, the church is better equipped to fulfill it mission and becomes stronger in the process. It is exciting to watch as God builds His church!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Put Things Back Together

We have spent most of the day putting our house back together after doing some painting and upgrading. I couldn't help but think about how it is necessary for us to put our spiritual lives back together from time to time. If we are not careful, we get careless in our commitment, negligient in our time spent with God in prayer and Bible study and cold in our relationship with Jesus. That's when we have to put forth the effort to put things back together.

Attending church offers us the opportunity to get things put back together. Instead of avoiding church when we feel "distant," we ought to rush to church so we can take advantage of our opportunity to get it back together. I hope many will do that this Lord's Day!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rainy Days

Another rainy day...we've had an abundance of them in Little Rock this year! Already we have made the top ten most rainy years with two months to go. So many dreary days have taken a toll on our emotions and outlook. It makes us feel down and just a bit discouraged. There is good news! God's still loves us! His love is not diminished by our feelings or by the weather. He will help us get through all the rainy days we face!!!