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March 15, 2018, 1:52 PM

You Feed Them


With the recent passing of Billy Graham, many are left wondering who will be next to follow in his footsteps.  Who will be the next Super-Christian to impact presidents, fill stadiums with thousands to hear the Gospel, and have such an impact on multiple generations around the world regardless of race or language?  I don’t know too many pastors who, if given the opportunity, wouldn’t jump at the chance to be the next to accomplish all that he did.  Honestly, I don’t know if there will ever be another man like Mr. Graham.  He obviously walked in the favor and power of the Lord.  Throughout the Bible, we see example after example of God using individuals, men and women, to accomplish His purposes and bring Him glory.  I know not everyone is called to be an Elijah, Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Esther, Mary, or Martha.  The one thing all believers have in common is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.  When we are saved, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to convict, lead, and empower us.  Not for our glory, but to the glory of the Father.  The same God that empowered all those mentioned in the Hall of Faith in the Book of Hebrews, empowers every believer today.  So, as we stand around anxiously anticipating who the Lord will use to accomplish the amazing tasks done by those in the past, I give you three little words.  You feed them.  If those words sound familiar, they should.  It's what Jesus told the disciples when they were standing around contemplating how they would feed some 5,000 people who had come to hear Jesus.  The disciples rightly responded that they weren’t able to feed so many with their limited resources.  However, when Jesus intervened no one went away hungry and there were leftovers.  The need of the people was met by Jesus through the service of the disciples. The point is this, it’s not just the pastors, teachers, or leaders of the church who have the responsibility to share the Gospel.  If we wait around to see who will be the next great leader, how many people will die without salvation?  How many babies will be murdered in the womb? The message is clear, stop standing around and waiting for someone else and watching hungry people starve to death, be a faithful steward of the Gospel and in the power of God who has provided the resources, “YOU give them something to eat.”

Robert




March 12, 2018, 9:00 AM

Anguish Gives Birth to Joy


I recently read a statement that said something to the extent of, what you are currently going through is God preparing to give you what you’ve been praying for.  I took it kind of personal because I see that very thing happening in our family right now.  I began to think of some other instances in the Bible where that may be true also.  Where people had to endure some hardships in preparation for what God was bringing them.  The Israelites wandered in the desert in preparation for the Promised Land.  Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness prior to beginning His earthly ministry.  Paul was blinded on the road in preparation for God using him.  The list is long and would take much room to name all of the examples.  I was in a type of wilderness for a period about 6 weeks and by wilderness, I mean a place of preparation where I had much to learn prior to moving on to where the Lord was leading.  In the middle of it, I was having one of those “grumble” moments where I was frustrated and complaining wondering why the Lord hadn’t left me to die in Egypt. (reference to Exodus and the wilderness wanderings.)  It was a Wednesday night and I didn’t really want to go to church because I was very discouraged.  The study that night came from John 16 and verse 21 jumped off the page and slapped me across my bald head.  While Jesus is speaking of the sorrow of Him leaving the disciples turning to joy at His resurrection, there is a second implication that can be taken from this verse also.  Notice that the very same act, the process of giving birth, brings both pain and joy and the joy doesn’t come without first enduring the pain.  The circumstances don’t change, just the perspective of the woman.  What begins as anguish (GRK implies suffering, lamenting), is the very same thing that brings overwhelming joy, joy that makes a person forget about the pain.  In that moment and since, I realized that the current “anguish” I was enduring would be the very thing to bring joy into my life.  Not just material or physical, but most importantly, spiritual. As soon as a new mom beholds the beauty of a newborn child, the pain of labor is turned to joy at the realization of the gift brought forth from the suffering.  If you’re enduring a little anguish in your life, ask the Lord to show you a glimpse of the joy that is to come.  Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.  Though we may endure hard times now, eternal joy is our hope and promise from God through Jesus. 

Robert  




February 28, 2018, 1:31 PM

Hot as Jalapeno


I will never forget the day it happened.  I had cooked a skillet full of veggies sautéed with spices and different types of peppers.  I enjoy searching for that perfect combination that makes you feel like your taste buds are having a party.  Maybe one day I will figure it out, but it wasn’t that day.  After I finished putting all of the ingredients in the skillet, I rinsed my hands, cooked the veggies and sat down to eat with my family.  When dinner was over we cleared the table and I went to the bathroom to take my contacts out.  It took a whole 0.12 seconds for my brain to register that my eyeball was on fire and I began screaming as loud as I could for Emily to come help me.  Tears began pouring from my eye and my vision was blurry to the point I couldn’t see anything from that eye.  By the time Emily got to me, I had tears rolling down my face and my eye was blood red and swollen.  However, my screams of pain and panic had now turned to hysterical laughter.  You see, I realized that I had only rinsed my hands with water after cutting up the jalapeno peppers and didn’t use soap to thoroughly clean them.  Needless to say, we got a good laugh that day and my kids still bring it up.  Some people try to deal with their sin the same way I dealt with the jalapeno juice on my hands.  They try whatever means necessary to rinse it away or cover it up, but even if they can’t see it, it’s still there.  Relationships, drugs, alcohol, work, money, success, popularity, or anything else found in this world can’t cleanse a person from their sin.  All it does is serve as a cover up until that day it will come back to burn them.  Sin is a problem we all have in common, and there is only one way to have it cleansed.  The blood of Jesus that was shed for our atonement is the only way to be completely cleansed of sin.  Anything else, though it may cause you to think your sin is no longer an issue, is only a simple rinsing and not a soul cleansing washing.  And the worse thing about only rinsing away sin and not having it cleansed by the blood of Jesus is  the burning that will be experienced is in the lake of fire and will never cease.  Hell will burn much hotter than jalapeno juice in the eye.  The Good News is that there is cleansing, the forgiveness of our sins, in the blood of Jesus, freely available to all who will place their faith in Him.  Have you trusted in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  Don’t get burned by only rinsing and not being fully cleansed. 

Robert




February 23, 2018, 2:59 PM

Soap in the Eye!!


When my kids were little we used to buy the tear-free type of shampoo.  The last thing we wanted to do was make them more upset about bath time.  Eventually, each of them learned to keep their eyes closed when they were being rinsed.  As they got older we reinforced the importance of keeping their eyes closed during the shower.  As an adult, soap in the eye is an undesirable experience.  If you have ever had a refreshing shower interrupted by soap in the eye, you understand how painful it can be.  The reality is, if you want to really get clean, soap is required. Depending on how dirty you are, the stronger the soap the better.  Soap is effective for cleaning skin but it’s not anything you want to clean your eye with.  It might work but there are other less abrasive ways to rinse the eyes.  Discovering the best strategy of presenting the Gospel has become a course at seminaries across the world.  It can be very difficult to find the middle ground that is effective without being too abrasive.  Paul provides us with a perfect example of this during his time in Athens.  According to Luke in Acts 17, Paul met with the leading religious groups of that time and region and tried to relate to them the truth of Scripture in a manner that they could understand.  He referenced statements and ideals they would have been familiar with and used them to point the Stoics and Epicureans toward Christ.  He even acknowledged their misplaced attempt of worship of idols and even the unknown god.  The point of his teaching was that Jesus is the Messiah and the time of ignorance had come to an end.  He shared the Gospel in an effective and nonabrasive way. Note that it was not a watered down weak version of the truth, It was the full truth delivered with love.  As with every presentation of the Gospel, there will be those who reject, those who are interested but not right now, and those who accept and are saved by faith in Jesus.  When we share the Gospel let us be mindful of Paul’s model and try to keep the soap out of the eyes of the ones we are trying to help get clean.  The Gospel can be offensive enough on its own, it doesn’t need our help to make it more so.  We just need to faithfully speak the truth in love. 

Robert




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


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