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February 5, 2018, 2:15 PM

Surprise!

“Surprise!”  Nobody can say that word quite like Gomer used to.  It’s usually something people shout out for a good reason or at a happy time.  The pleasant surprise is always welcomed in the form of a gift, a little extra time, or an unexpected guest.  However, surprises don’t always come with good tidings.  We can rest assured that nothing takes God by surprise.  But since we are not God, it’s safe to say that life will throw each of us that special surprise from time to time.  Psalm 139 tells us that each day of our lives was known by God before even one came to be, that He knows us in our inmost parts, and that there is nowhere we can go that He can’t see us.  That doesn’t mean that He must ask us for approval in order for things to happen.  Unexpected events happen to all of us and my family is currently living in the middle of one of those surprises.  These types of things can be very overwhelming and humbling.  When you are forced to allow people to do things for you and there seem to be more questions than answers it can be easy to look with bewilderment to God and say, “why me, Lord?”  I was having one of these moments as my wife drove me to another appointment and my anxiety seemed to reach yet another level of intensity.  Then a song came on the radio and I was reminded that there is always a bigger picture.  Circumstances in life are seldom about only us.  I have seen the Lord do amazing things in the last few days that might not have taken place if not for a surprise.  I have gained a deeper love for my wife and children as they have had to take care of me instead of me being the one to always watch over, care, and provide for them.  When I listened to the words of that song and thought about the bigger picture, it’s as if the Lord asked me back, “Why you, Robert?”  I’m still trying to figure it out, but I know it has something to do with my faith in Him and how that affects my response to this surprise.  Listen to the song and ask the Lord why He’s chosen to use you for His glory.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUT4trsrBCw

Robert




February 2, 2018, 3:37 PM

Love Those Who Curse You

Unfortunately we live in a world where everyone doesn’t always get along.  Even Christians don’t always act like they ought.  It’s easy to respond in kind when someone treats us as if we are their enemy.  That is often the simple and most common natural reaction.  Matthew and Luke both quote Jesus saying that we should love our enemies and bless those who curse us.  Not only does He tell us what to do but He also shows us how to do it.  As Jesus is hanging on the cross, He pleads for the Father to forgive those who were hurling insults and spitting on Him.  Why? Because they didn’t fully understand what they were doing.  The most dangerous animal is one who is injured and backed into a corner.  A dog in this situation will even bite the hand extended in peace, love, and generosity because it is acting out of fear and pain.  Humans are not the same as animals but we can respond in similar manners.  Often we act out aggressively from a place of brokenness, pain, and fear.  We treat others as enemies when in reality they are not.  These actions are rooted in the flesh as described in Galatians 5 and stand in stark contrast of the fruit of the Spirit.  Paul cautions that we should be led by the Spirit and not the flesh because even those filled with the Spirit can experience times when the flesh dictates behavior.  The key is to remember that when people treat us as if we are their enemies, they are being led by the flesh and that should evoke feelings of mercy rather than anger.  They are merely acting from a place of pain and fear or other emotional damages.  The point of praying for an enemy is not that they would fall off the face of the Earth but that healing of brokenness would lead to reconciliation of relationships and the image of the Gospel would be apparent for all to see.  Two parties in positions of opposition being reconciled in love.  The only real enemy we have is Satan and he will do all he can to disrupt peace, love, and mercy among people, especially the children of God.  Love those who curse you, extend forgiveness even without it being asked for, and be a picture of the reconciliation of the Gospel. 

Robert




January 23, 2018, 10:23 AM

Pruning, Anyone?

When I was called to Beall Chapel as Pastor in May of 2015 it was a special time for our family.  The people here are so wonderful and loving and have always been so good to us.  One of the gifts we received from the church when they welcomed us was a “money tree.”  The money was a blessing but the plant would be a challenge.  Emily and I have never been accused of having a green thumb but we both knew we wanted to keep this plant alive as long as we could.  We kept it watered and made sure it was able to soak up plenty of sunshine.  When we moved to a different house we were able to transplant into a bigger pot to accommodate the growth that had taken place.  It was doing so well, growing and thriving and we were so proud of it.  Then one night recently, I forgot to bring it in the house.  On that particular night, the temperature got down into the 20’s.  The next day when we remembered it was outside and brought it in we were in a state of shock.  This beautiful, growing, thriving plant that we had taken care of for 2 ½ years was in bad shape.  We did the best we could to nurse it back to health but it quickly became obvious that there was going to be a significant amount of loss.  The choice had to be made to cut off the branches that were dead and dying in an attempt to give the others more of the life-giving nutrients they would need to survive, otherwise the whole plant might die.  It was difficult to watch this large plant be reduced to only a couple of branches.  John 15 tells of a similar thing regarding the pruning of branches that don’t produce fruit.  Unfortunately, most of us have “branches” in our lives that hinder the production of fruit and may even lead to a detrimental outcome for the whole person if there isn’t some pruning done.  I would ask you, what do you have in your life that is unhealthy and hurting your relationship with God? Is there something you need to have pruned?  Present your heart, soul, and life before the Vinedresser and let Him prune those things that prevent you from having a growing, thriving relationship with Him.  Do it today.

Robert




January 16, 2018, 10:38 AM

Words of the Farmer

We are sitting at home this morning as a family enjoying a rare event here in East Texas.  Today is like an extra Christmas present for so many people, both children and adults.  The unexpected occurrence of a snow day is something that only happens once every few years and often takes everyone pleasantly by surprise.  However, some of us expected and had anticipated this day.  Several months ago, I was standing in line at a local store and saw the latest version of the Old Farmer’s Almanac.  I picked it up and quickly turned to the section that would tell what kind of weather to expect this winter.  It predicted a cold wet winter with a good probability of snow for our area.  I’m not sure how it works but I am a believer that it is pretty accurate.  So much so that people trust their livelihood to it, basing the planting of their crops on the time suggested by the Almanac.  Another thing people plan their life around is the daily horoscope (I do not put any faith in these).  As accurate as these types of predictions may seem they are both less than perfect and have been proven wrong in the past.  One thing that is perfect and has never been proven wrong is the Bible.  People refuse to believe in the words written by men who were inspired by God to record the things they wrote.  The Bible grants assurances that people should take note of like, every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.  Also, that no one comes to the Father except through the Son, and Heaven and hell are real places that will be the eternal destiny for all people depending on their faith in Christ.  There is so much more that could be said to support the Bible and why it is far more dependable than any almanac or horoscope.  The Bible is the true and living word of God.  If you don’t believe it, I double-dog dare you to try to prove it wrong. But don’t be surprised if you become a believer. 

Robert




January 9, 2018, 8:57 AM

Plain and Dry

Plain and dry is the way my wife orders her burgers.  No veggies, no cheese, no mustard, mayo, or ketchup.  This may seem to be a simple request but you’d be amazed at how often her burger is prepared incorrectly.  In a day and time where everything is about choices and add-ons, upgrades and extras it seems the simple things have become more difficult.  A phone that is used merely to talk and text is social status killer and trying to find one grows more difficult with each passing day.  I remember the first time I went into one of those famous coffee shops that offer the half-caff triple whip with a spin and a swirl.  I felt so lost and confused because all I wanted was a black coffee.  The basic principle of coffee was lost in all of the “extras.”  I get it, people want choices because it makes them feel in control and so they can create a product, whether it be coffee or a hamburger that fits their desire.  Even in churches, the power of the choice and accommodation of stylistic preference has led to a multiplicity of church services geared toward meeting the desire of the people (Last time I checked, worship was supposed to be focused on God and not the stylistic preference of people but that is another discussion for another time.)  This inundation of choices in everything from fast food to automobiles, from coffee to Bible translation has somewhat overcomplicated what should be pretty simple.  In Deuteronomy 30 God makes it simple.  He calls the people to worship Him alone with all of their heart and soul with the promise of blessings to come from doing so.  The alternative is to turn toward idols and false gods and receive the consequences that choice.  That is the basic choice every person is faced with in this life and it determines their eternal destiny.  To either choose life and blessings with God or death and curses without Him.  Have you made your choice? Are you living faithfully in that choice? If you hope to remain neutral and not decide on one view of God or the other, then you have already made your choice.  Choose life that is found only in salvation through Jesus Christ. 

Robert


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