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Archive for February, 2010

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

They were a relatively new church…filled with baby Christians.  They were an attacked church where another group of Jewish leaders had tried to scramble up Paul’s teachings.  I am reminded that the context of Chapter 13 is in the discussion of spiritual gifts.  Instead of ending this line of thought with the three greatest gifts he speaks of character.  He speaks of holiness.  Without the proper character of faith, hope and love, all the gifts that we do have simply causes division instead of unity.  When I decide that my gift is more important than being holy and being a person of character I actually cause more harm in the church.  I am reminded today that this is a verse for believers.  These three can only be produced by the indwelling Christ within a person.  These are not things you do…they are Christ in you and through you.

I used to laugh at Smith when he preaches on the Prodigal Son.  When he would describe some crazy off the wall ungodly behavior on the part of a Christian, he would say that, “It smells like hog, to me!”  I would hear someone try to justify a wrong relationship with someone else, I would think of that phrase, “Smells like hog to me!”  Arrogant use of my gifts, self centered service, and the like has a unique odor to it for it comes from religious places that smell of hog.

The uniqueness of this day is that the blood washed children of God get the joy of gathering in the house of God and worshiping a loving Savior.  It is better than that…Jesus did not die to make us nice…He died to make us HIS!  And the fact of the matter is I AM HIS.  I am HIS Child.  He is My Father, My Savior, and the One who dwells in me.  I should get around people today and they should smell the sweet aroma of His Presence IN my…it should smell like Faith Hope and Love.  And the most potent, powerful, overwhelming to the senses of others should be the LOVE.

Cut me, and I should bleed love!  Oh, let it be so dear Father!  Let them see the Love of Christ in me!

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7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.

This coming Sunday Night I am preaching using the 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 as my focal point of discussion.  Paul, after affirming that God had given him this wonderful ministry and is using him stated clearly that he was “…afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”  I think about Paul’s ministry and I realize I did not sign up for all of that afflicted stuff.  No one told me that being perplexed and persecuted – even struck down – was in the cards for this “calling ” that was on my life.  Not only is God not “safe”, but I am discovering those whom He has called us to work with are not safe, either.  Looking back has provided the testimony that he leads us over high mountains of joy but also through the valley of the shadow of death…  One minute you are leading someone to become a believer in our Christ and the next you are negotiating a disagreement between brothers in Christ.  I don’t know why it amazes me, but people are so normal.  They are not safe.  They are so much like me.  We are all in process…we are all growing in Christ.  We are all becoming more of what God wants every day.  I guess the process reminds us that the end is wonderful.  It’s the process that stinks.

David is obviously going through a tough time with some folk that he calls “wicked”.  I love the scriptures this morning because God allows us to stand in His presence and “calls ’em as we sees ’em”.  David tells God that the Wicked are getting under his skin bad.  For a few moments I thought he would obsess on the wicked.  My heart was blessed as he turned and affirmed that the

Lord is his strength

Lord is his Shield

His heart trust in Him

He discovers he was helped – God never misses

He experiences joy

He Worships…

The one place that David knew he could go was to the Lord God.  Out of all the things you could say about the man, and all the names you could call him (some very justified) He knew He was God’s child and David placed his trust in God.  I am reminded this morning that He is MY strength.  He is MY Shield…I don’t have to pick one up because HE IS my shield.  I am trusting completely in HIM.  I will be helped.  Whether it is the vision that I am casting, my voice that needs healing, my family that needs guiding, my…”whatever”…I can trust him with it all.

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Gamecocks will Win!

It is actually snowing outside.  That’s right sports fans!  I am sitting at my computer, reading the Word of God this morning and looked out the window where the birds are eating from the feeder that is almost completely empty and I notice the snow falling…in Florence!  The University of South Carolina Gamecocks must be in the running to win a basketball game….WOW!  I get excited when I see the white stuff.  If it snows any more than it is now we will have to close Florence School District One for three weeks.

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

“I’m a child of the King, A Child of the King, With Jesus my Savior, I’m a Child of the King.  He calls me “O mighty ones…” this morning.  He reminds me that I am the privileged Child of God who has the Spirit of God living in me.  I am His special child.  I am not a mighty one in and of myself.  It is His presence that makes me a mighty one this morning.  I am mighty because I have MIGHT living in me.  The Strength of Heaven lives in me now.  I don’t have to beg for it.  I don’t have to earn it.  It was provided for me solely on the basis of the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am hearing the verse in my own heart that repeats, Greater is HE that is in you than he who is in the world.  His child!  His Mighty one!  It is the ask of Christian leaders and those who lead their families to simply remember that our number one responsibility is as a mighty one that our first duty is to focus on the Lord.

Ascribe to the Lord what?  Is He even needy of anything?  Is He lacking that I should ascribe anything to Him?  Pleeeeaaaaaasssssseeee!  You have to be kidding!  I stop and recognize this morning that HE is the Lord and mighty.  I stop and realize he is the one that created all that is and is in total control of it all.  I ascribe to him glory!  I do not understand what He is doing.  I do not understand all that HE is about but I do love Him recognize that He alone is God and is Holy and Perfect.  Ascribe to the Lord Glory that I have access to the throne of God this morning.  I call out His name and He hears me and allows me audience with Him up close and personal.  He allows me to be me in His presence.  He is not ashamed of me.  He loves me.  He wants me to become all that He intends for me to be.  I am able to stand in His presence and be loved by Him and to communicate with Him about what He is up to in my life.  I can call his name and he receives that love.  I enjoy getting little text messages from my children.  I cannot tell you what that means to me.  The other day my son, Jeremy, who has been under a lot at work stopped and told me how much he loved me and thanked me for doing all that I was for him.  He ascribed glory to his father.  I in turn am reminded to ascribe glory and honor to God alone!  It is His strength I operate in.  It is His wisdom that I direct my path.  It is His power that is of effect in my life!

I am reminded this morning that life starts with Worship.  A life today that reminds me that He is in charge and I am not.  I honor Him today!  I remember that He is in charge.  I will joyfully follow Him.  The God of the Universe has invited me to go through life WITH Him today.  What a deal!

Father, it all starts with YOU!

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4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth,

I can hear it today!  If I don’t like what the Word of God says, I will simply find me another leader and we will go where we think we should go.  That kind of thing is as old as the dirt we walk on.  When life get’s tough or it isn’t what “we want” then we quit trusting the One that loves us so much even though we are walking through the tough stuff.  It was Steve Brown is the one I first heard say the phrase, “Christ did not die to make us nice.  He died to make us His!”  He did not die to make all of our circumstances easy and give us the promise of success – American Style.  He did say that He loves me and that in the current assignment that I find myself in, to look for His face and follow him…He will guide me through it all.

The thought hit me as I read this that “I don’t want to go back to prison.”  Some inmates get so used to living in the confines of prison walls, eating prison food, being in the controlled environment of the prison, and are so ill equipped to face the joys and responsibilities of freedom that they long to go back to the place where life is controlled for them.   We are free.  Our past is forgiven.  We are filled with the very presence of God and now we can face the world and fly.  We are free.  I want to confess my sins and stay clear in my relationship to God so I can hear his voice.  I want to dance with Him today as we journey through this day…in this land…facing the future with delight.  I don’t want to be pinned down by religion.  God is not safe…but He is good.  I will trust him today.  I don’t want to go back where I came from.  Egypt has nothing for me.  I want to follow Him today!  I want to hear His voice!

The other verse that knocked me around was the one that stated that “…the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth…”    My response to that was, “G0d, I want you to let my eyes begin to see the glory of God everywhere…”  I want to see what God is doing.  In the Mark passage for instance, I saw him heal a hand and confront the religious folk with the truth.  I would have liked to have been there…not just to see the old religious prudes try and handle Jesus being God and then desire to kill him, but to see one or two of them “see the light of God click on” in their own experience.  The devils dodge him and call out that He is the Son of God… wow!  He heals a boy with a demon spirit.  He confronts a group of religious people.

Yesterday I had the chance to enjoy a group of different people.  I was encouraged by my staff who is beginning to dream with me where God wants to take us.  I was encouraged by a group of friends who sit at a table and love on one another each week.  I am indebted to Daniel Inabinet who took some time out of his busy schedule and helped me think through where we are as a traditional church and where we go from here.  I watched a young man begin to become free from obsessing over his own struggles and shared some time with a wonderful young man who is dealing with how God is at work helping him deal with his relationships.  They both are winning.  They both are learning to be free and follow where God is leading them.  It is not a path of ease with either, but they are winning…it is good.  I went last night after enjoying a meal with my wife and daughter and spent sometime with a wonderful family.  I watched as my friend Brady became a Believer in Christ last night.  His brother John did that Sunday and he wanted to make a commitment to Christ as well.  Two 14 year old young men are now in the Family of God.  I will have the chance to baptize three in that family this coming Sunday.  The glory of the LORD really does fill the whole earth.

God, I am looking.  Help my eyes and heart to see!

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12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

NewSpring had a big task in burying Officer Clayton – a young man.  The front page of the paper was interrupted with the lead title – “A Final Salute” followed by two pictures – One of the officers carrying his flag draped coffin out of the church and the second, a picture of Chief Shells handing the late Officer Clayton’s daughter that same American Flag after it had been appropriately folded.  His words of thanks and appreciation for the services her father had rendered for our protection was a reminder to me that life is short.  Life is a gift and we should treat it with respect.  While at the skating rink last night with the McLaurin Elementary School children and their families, I was told of another police officer from a surrounding city who had been shot.  The paper said that he was shot in the chest and in the back and thank God for protective vests that stopped one of the shots.  As best I know he is still alive after surgery.  These two events caught my attention yesterday.  They were both younger than me but I am certain share a common desire and that is to live to see and hold my grandchildren and spend sometime as an old man.  Officer Clayton slipped from this life to the next.  The other officer is blessed by medical care and wisdom that has helped him survive the attack.  All three of our lives have changed.

In this prayer of Moses, I was reminded that God knows all about my life.  I was reminded that there are times that I need to re-evaluate my life in keeping with what He desires for me.  I was reminded that He loves me and calls me His child.  I am special to Him.  You confront those you love and He did that for me this morning.  Even though he sees all of my iniquities and knows when I have done what is not right before Him, I come to him not as a beast with a club waiting to bash me in the ground, but as a loving Father who is bringing me back to himself.  He dealt with my sin at the cross.  His heart is rich in love for me this morning.  I find forgiveness and healing only in Him.  He can be honest with me and I can spit and cuss and find myself OK enough to be honest with Him about me.  I don’t have to hide.  I hear my heart say…

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.

16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

I am reminded of a story that Barry Lord tells about a particular place in the Philippine Islands where he did some missionary work once.  On the event of a person’s birthday, the group would gather at their home outside and sing together the prayer of verse 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  The verses of the rest of Psalm 90 have become my own prayer this morning as I turn my attention to God!


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4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

Context:  Biblical Christianity asks three questions!  What does God get out of it?  What do I get out of it?  What do others get out of it?  Another way of saying that is to suggest that Worship, Fellowship, and Missions should consume my walk.  Worship is about God.  I put my family in the car on Sunday, take them to the church house and with a group of believers join in saying thank you to God and listening to His voice speak to me.  It also has personal implications to me.  I put my self early in the morning where I can hear his voice, I tell him thank you on a daily basis, and I open my own heart to a conversation that I can have with the Father in His Word as he speaks life into my own heart.  Worship.  The second is Fellowship.  This is where I get with a group of believers and share life.  It has nothing to do with attending a meeting or sitting and taking notes from some speaker.  It is about sharing life with others who have a common heart for God and you grow old together as you grow up in the Lord.  That answers the question what do I get out of this or what do we get out of this whole deal.  Fellowship.  The third has to do with giving what is in me away to others at my expense.  If it doesn’t cost you, it ain’t missions.  Giving your time, talent, treasure and what ever other word that starts with a “t”…for the specific purpose of ministering to and loving the world around us.

What does that have to do with the text?  Well, there is an order that happens and it is reflected here.  I am reminded that it is worship first, fellowship second, and missions third.  My Christian experience finds it’s white heat hot spot not in missions and fellowshipping with other believers…the “hot spot” the life giving “home” for my heart is in the presence of God.  Being in HIS presence and gazing upon HIS Beauty…seeking him in HIS temple… all of these provide me with the context for everything else.  I am so human.  There are days where I really would like to depend on other Christians to give me strength.  There are days where we put way to much credibility in other believer’s walk with the Lord to feed our own hearts.  I don’t care how good the preachers, teachers, and Bible Expositors are.  They are no substitute for spending time in the quiet place and looking into the beauty of the Lord and feeding your soul at his table.  It is his voice I want to hear.  It is his face I want to see.

My desire – this is what I seek – this is what my heart longs for…

God help me keep the main thing – the main thing…  It seems I can’t get away from this verse…

I would be crazy if I did not admit that I struggle with the changes that are around me.  I am getting older.  Surprise!  Someone has moved the front door of the church from Sunday School to Worship…and people are making their first introduction to the church through the worship services and not through our traditional Baptist Sunday School world.  Someone has changed the way we do church all around and I am going crazy thinking about it all.  I am watching new churches adjust and find myself involved in conversations about NewSpring in our area and Cornerstone Baptist.  I have great friends that attend both of these and have some context with the two preachers.  There are others.  I have been watching and God has used them to help me re-orient my own mind and heart about what we are to be doing here at Southside.  I find it uncomfortable when we get to slamming other preachers for what they are doing or saying…and must repent for I have joined in on some of those conversations.  I was convicted this morning t0 celebrate what God IS doing in these great fellowships…and to refocus my own mind and heart on what is being done at my own church.  Maybe sweeping up around my own porch is a healthy and vital activity…and I might leave the cleaning up around the other churches to the Lord God who made them…  Against that context –

– The other verse that burned in my mind today was in Numbers 11, “…29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.”  It reflected my own heart as I consider my own role in the Body of Christ.  I am one preacher among many.  My heart pounds today for the NewSpring Church family as they conduct a funeral for one of Florence’s finest police officers, Matthew Clayton.  His family must be hurting today.  I am reminded that we have so many preachers in our area, some I agree with most on all points and some I find myself struggling with in regards to their theology and the way they do church…but nonetheless they are still brothers in Christ and part of God’s Family.  I respect Who they serve and honor their commitment to Christ.  Paul faced the same struggle that Jesus did.  The disciples came to Jesus and said in Mark 9 that there are preachers out there doing what you are doing as if they were competing with the Son of God and Jesus settled the disciples down in by telling them “He that is not against us is for us.”  Paul said that some were of this preacher and some of this preacher but He is completely different.  I am reminded to honor those who serve the Lord.  I am asked to do what I do well…and to pray today for my brothers in this great task of sharing the gospel with the world.

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The Fire Within!

t On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire.   Numbers 8

I will start and end my blog this morning with the same song.  The first an unbelievable moving rendition of “Total Praise” by the choir of the Chrystal Cathedral in California and the last done by the Brookland Tabernacle Choir.   This song fills my own heart this morning as I prepare for leading in worship and as this small place in my study becomes a place where I meet with the Father.

Much money had gone into the preparation of the tabernacle in the wilderness.  Special craftsmen and women had spent consistent effort in preparing this worship center following tedious instructions and preparing for the Lord’s presence to fill that special place.  Both the Tabernacle and the people were  placed in their proper places.  Important cleansing and procedure had to be followed as the people prepared for the most important act to happen right in front of their eyes.  The God of Heaven would visit with them in power allowing his presence to be seen as HE fills the Tabernacle with his visible presence.  His glory filled the place.  They had nothing to do but to prepare for it.  Then they waited and watched and beheld the glory of God.

From the Tabernacle in the desert to a stall in a Bethlehem where the Word of God became Flesh and dwelt among us, to a most amazing twist.  He, God, chooses to live IN me.  He has come to “tabernacle” in my life…to let HIS presence live in my life.  The same God that presented Himself in visible f0rm to the world in the desert as He filled the Tabernacle, now resides in power in my own life.  I am honored.  I am humbled to be the chosen clay pot that he lives in.  I try to wash and cleanse and spend the time thinking that I need to do something to make myself worthy of that presence and all the efforts come up short until I realize that when I became a believer in Christ, He covered me in the presence of God with HIS righteousness and as I stand before the Father I am clean…accepted…and called HIS child.  This morning I worship my God that loves me that much.  I confess my need for you.  I celebrate that you are my God.  You are God and there are no other that hold claim to any worth in my life.

Father, in a few hours I will have the chance to hang around one of the greatest group of people in the world.  They are weird like me.  They have no other claim to fame except that they are yours.  We would starve to death should you not feed us today.  We have tendencies especially as free Americans to have our minds in a thousand places.  I give you my mind and my heart this morning and expect fully that these two will not go away hungry as I feed at your table.  I will be looking for the strength to preach and the healing of my voice to declare the riches of your heart to the people today.  Beyond the suits and ties, the Bibles, the religious activity…may we be still and see Your glory today as you work in our lives today.

I did not change my mind…I finished this piece and was worshiping the Lord as I sat here and ran into this piece by the choir…Oh, God in heaven thank you for the cleansing I find in Christ…these two are back to back from the same event the second followed the first…

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