The God Who Sees Me

•March 9, 2018 • 2 Comments

As a regular attender of my church and an active participant in ministry as a function of my calling, I sometimes neglect to remember that God sees me from a perspective I not only lack: I often intentionally avoid it! You see, God sees me as I really am. Others see me as I present myself, whether I behave well or have an outburst of temper or whatever I do. God sees me without anything hidden from His eyes!
I think of the passage in the third chapter of Revelation when God’s perspective of the Laodicean church is revealed to be in stark contrast to the perception the church has of itself. He says, “For you say, “I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” The contrast between the two views is dramatic. Perhaps you and I do well to learn from the passage that God sees us as we are.
When I reflect on this matter, I am reminded of David’s invitation to God at the end of Psalm 139. He writes “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; and lead me in the everlasting way.” My prayer is that God will do that for me: examine me from His perspective and then lead me by His grace and mercy in the everlasting way. When I look at my reflection now, I want to remember that God sees me the way I really am. For it is then that I know I have no hope apart from His mercy and grace in Christ Jesus!

Leave Different Than When You Came

•February 24, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Reading the other day, I came across a saying posted over the exit doors of a church which read “Come as you are. Don’t leave as you came”. It reminded me of a song we sang years ago in churches I attended. The lyrics of that song said “I’ll not leave here like I came, in Jesus’ name; bound, oppressed, tormented, sick or lame. For the Holy Ghost of Acts is still the same. I’ll not leave here like I came in Jesus’ name!”

Reflecting back on those words, I suspect that many who attend worship in our churches today may often leave just as they came. A single blog post doesn’t provide adequate space to delineate the multiplicity of reasons this may be true. Let it suffice for now to merely consider the possibility without debating its accuracy. Think for instance about your own experience when attending church. How often do you leave the worship experience with a genuine sense of change in your life? How often do you leave the same as when you came?

So, what do we do? How can we work towards experiencing a difference? Once again, a single blog post really is not an adequate platform to address the possibilities. For now, I just hope some of us – no, many of us- commit to intentionally seeking to worship God in a way that transforms us so we leave different than when we came!

From the End of the Earth

•January 22, 2018 • Leave a Comment

During a time of intense heartache and disappointment, I read the first four verse of Psalm 61.  In the first part of the second verse, the writer says, “from the end of the earth will I call to You when my heart is faint”.  I remember reading that phrase in a version that says “…when my heart is overwhelmed”.  Have you been there?

Have you been at the place where you are simply overwhelmed with sorrow, regret, heartache, confusion, disappointment?  Have been at the point of simply wanting to give up?  Regardless of whether you reached that place because of your own mistake (as I did) or because of something you might not even have been able to control, the feeling is just as disheartening.  The words of the psalmist describe it as being “the end of the earth”.

So, what do you do when you find yourself at that place?  You see, at the end of the earth you are without companionship.  You are at the place of being overwhelmed in you – no one else is there to share the pain and the burden.  You find yourself alone.  So, what do you do?

The writer of Psalm 61, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, declares his plan of action as being turning to God.  Listen to the plea in the opening words of Psalm 61 – “Hear my cry, oh God; give heed to my prayer”.  He can pen those words because he has found God faithful in times past.  God has been his refuge and his tower of strength.  So David’s request is that God would let him dwell in God’s tent forever and find shelter in God’s wings.  That’s where I want to be.  How about you?

Knowing Christ

•January 15, 2018 • Leave a Comment

As I was reading in 1 John 2, I began to reflect on the thought of “knowing Christ”.  In every church, including my current church, there are people who say we know Him.  Any church going person who claims to be a follower of Christ will readily profess to “knowing Christ”.  I wonder how many have taken time to reflect on what it really means to know Him?

The writer of 1 John 2 says this is how we know that we have come to know Him – if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3).  The passage goes on to declare “the one who says, ‘I have come to know Him’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4)!  Those are pretty strong words!

So, what are the commandments of Christ?  Without getting too deep or trying to be super-spiritual, I can think of two commands Jesus was pretty clear about.  First, Jesus clearly commanded us to love one another as He loved us (John 15:12).  The second command I find that Jesus is pretty clear about is the one we know as the Great Commission: “go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Here’s my question for those of us that claim to know Christ: how are we doing in terms of keeping those two commandments?

How We Are Like Jonah

•January 8, 2018 • 1 Comment

In the opening verses of the story of Jonah in the Bible, we discover that after hearing God’s call to go and preach to the great city of Nineveh, Jonah “got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence” (Jonah 1:3 HCSB).  That thought came to my remembrance the other day as a friend told me about a young man who had sensed the call of God in his life but had gone off to college and now has no interest in the things of God after obtaining his degree and beginning to pursue a career in the professional arena.  The connection caused me to realize that we are sometimes like Jonah.

Some of us can remember a time in our life when we knew God had called us to a mission or a task.  If our story were being written, it might be said of some of us that we “got up to flee…from the Lord’s presence”.  Some of us got side-tracked from God’s calling in college.  Some of us got distracted from God’s purpose in our life due to demands or attractions of our professional career.  Some of us got hamstrung in our pursuit of God’s call through entanglements with ungodly people.  Whatever the reason, many of us can identify with the beginning of Jonah’s story.

I doubt any of us living today have come to the point of being in a fish’s belly for three days, but I am sure that many of us who “got up to flee…from the Lord’s presence” have spent enough time in bad situations to at least have some idea of kinship with Jonah’s runaway days.  In the Bible’s account of Jonah, he eventually comes to his senses and calls out to God for forgiveness.  The fish vomits Jonah up on dry land at the end of Jonah, chapter two.

In the opening verses of the third chapter of Jonah, we discover that God again calls Jonah with the same call God originally issued to Jonah.  This time, however, Jonah “got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command” (Jonah 3:3 HCSB).  In my story, I tried to escape the Lord’s call and ran from His presence for ten years.  When I came to my senses and called out to God for forgiveness, God moved in my life and I once again sensed the same call He issued to me when I first became a believer at age 15.  Now, I am seeking to walk “according to the Lord’s command”.

How about you?  Where are you in the story of Jonah: running away from the presence of the Lord or trying to live according to the Lord’s command?

Chastened and Loved

•January 5, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Some of you may be familiar with the saying “The Lord chastens whom He loves” (see Hebrews 12:6 and Proverbs 3:12).  So, I am happy to report the Lord loves me!  Last evening, just as we were about to begin the first of four special sessions of prayer at our church, I received a notification from a reader of this blog who gently pointed out that I have not updated nor posted since August of 2017.  The Lord used the gracious words of a stranger to bring home the point my wife has been bringing to my attention regularly.  Please accept today’s post as my repentance and apology!

There really is no justifiable excuse.  It is true that my calendar has been full and my time consumed as we moved through completing the new buildings; getting through occupancy inspection and receiving our Certificate of Occupancy; working with multiple issues toward the grand-opening and dedication service; rescheduling our special guest for the service; continuing to serve as the church planter and lead pastor; showing up at the holiday season events…well, you get the picture.  Nonetheless, I committed to blog and I let my followers and the Lord down.  Guilty.

The good news is I firmly believe God’s Word is true.  The Lord chastens/corrects whom He loves.  I rejoice in God’s love and I praise Him for mercy, grace and forgiveness.  My hope is that you, too, will find God’s love real in your life and I pray He will use more of you who follow this blog to correct this imperfect and sometimes side-tracked blogger!

One more thing:  I hope you have a wonderful and prosperous new year as you pursue the knowledge of and relationship with our Heavenly Father!

Giving God Our Leftovers

•August 6, 2017 • 2 Comments

For some time now, I have been troubled by the way so many believers treat God.  I am troubled because I can see that I, too, have been guilty of the same thing I see in others that grieves me so much.  Here’s what bothers me:  we tend to give God our leftovers.

How many times have you known of someone who contacts the church and offers to give something such as a piece of furniture, a computer, or some other thing they are about to get rid of?  Maybe you have even had a business that is going to remodel their facility and they make a charitable donation of the old furnishings to the church.  Maybe you, yourself, have even donated some old clothes, some books, a desk or chair or other furnishing that you no longer want.  So, what is wrong with that?  Why not give it to the church and take the tax credit, right?  Or maybe we are more spiritual and just give it but skip the tax credit.

Think about it.  God, who owns it all anyway, gave us His One and Only Begotten Son to die on a cruel cross for our sins.  God gave us His best and we give Him the stuff we no longer want?  It just bothers me.  Somehow it seems to me that we should give God our very best instead of our left overs.  I’ve been thinking about bible verses concerning giving and hoping I could find one or two that tell us to “bring into God’s storehouse the things you are about to throw away”, but I am having no success.  Instead, I find instruction to bring the “first fruits” and the like.  I find that God valued the small, penny-like offering a poor widow than He valued the larger gifts given by the rich.

The thing that really bugs me is that our attitude toward giving things carries over into our attitude toward giving of our time and self.  We give God our time as long as we “have time” and are not too busy with trips to the beach or lake, with family get togethers, with getting caught up on yard work, and so on.  God gets the time we have left over after we do all the things that are important to us.  He even gets what’s left of us, once we’ve done all the things we want to do.

Maybe we should all give more thought to what we give God.  Is He getting only what I have left over or am I giving God my very best in all things?  Thoughts and comments?