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Archive for April, 2010

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

He was 30 years old when he started this “I am the King” deal and the gig lasted 40 more years.  Those guys led a whole different way than we do today.  They carried shields and swords and didn’t let the enemy hang around a lot.  He obeys God.  He protects the nation.  As one of the boys said the other day “He ain’t scared!”  (except the boy said the word “scared” in some country dialect – that makes me sound like I teach English at Harvard – and that’s scary).  He could fight but more than that David was in a relationship with God that blows my mind.  He talked to him openly.  He complained to God with confidence.  He cried out to God.  Part David’s life has been recorded in the Bible and we are able to see not only  his conquering power, but we also glimpse into the ugly side of his life.  We get to see him struggle with lust and decide to murder a man but we also are given a chance to walk with him in the most intimate moments of his life with the Father.

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus - Casting Crowns!

God let me join him in watching David write and sing this song.  He started singing a song that gave me confidence as I stand in the presence of the Lord.  It was one of those “God get to lookin’ in every crack and cranny of my life…” kind of songs.  I kind of like keeping some of the more damnable things in my life hidden (…don’t go there…you have them, too).  David was comfortable talking to the Lord about them.  YOU ONLY DO THAT WITH PEOPLE YOU DEEPLY TRUST.  There are a few.  Only a few that know some of the hidden.

There is something about learning that I am forgiven.  There is something so powerful, though, about being able to hear the Father tell me HE loves me and that nothing I could ever tell him would cause Him to walk away from me.  I am confident in that relationship and I can TRUST him.   I can ask him to search me.  He helps me know my heart…he already knows it.   He is able to test me and know my anxious thoughts…he is able to help me see the offensive ways in me…and he does lead me in the everlasting.

This morning I travel to a deep place.  I was remembering a dear friend, Rev. Stafford Hebert, who first taught me to love this song of David.  I remember the sermon he built around the points of Search Me, Try Me and Lead Me.  I hear his voice.  I remember his allowing me to have his notes.  I remember preaching it with honor and pride…even used some of the Cajun dialect “Preacher” used in his preaching.  I learned from one of the best.  He, too, was willing to allow God to look into his heart and clean out the junk and he did it with such confidence in the Lord.

This morning, Father, I rejoice in the fact that you are my Father and in the fact that You call me Your Child.  I woke to find You present with me caring for me and for that I am grateful.  You have answered prayers in ways that I perceive is powerful and that is just those I am aware of.  Watching you work is some more kind of wonderful.  I have total confidence in You this morning.  I will watch You work in my life…You will help me look into the deeper parts of my life…You will help me see my own heart…You will help me see what causes me to be anxious even though I am in your hands…You will help me see again the offensive ways in me…offensive to You…and You will lead me.  As the song goes, Father – Jesus Jesus How I trust Him…How I’ve proved him ‘ore and ‘ore…Jesus, Jesus, PRECIOUS JESUS…Oh, for grace to trust Him more…

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28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

He was a Jew.  She was a Gentile.  He said nothing.  He refused to deal with her.  He rebuked her.  He healed her daughter.  She called him “Son of David” – a Jewish Name… She called him “Lord…” and it seems that the tide turned at that point.

Jesus threw her a crumb.  Her faith was great in the crumb that was given.  Her request was granted and her daughter was healed.

God help me, a person filled by Your Holy Spirit, fully able to see you work, to have faith in the whole of what you show me today in the Scriptures that matches and exceeds a woman’s faith in the crumb.

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Thank you Byron Harvey!

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13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.

The heat is turning up on Jesus.  John the Baptist (the one that baptized Jesus) had been arrested, put in jail, beheaded because of Herod’s wife’s hatred of John and had the head of John brought to him on a platter.  What evil there is in this world that would cause such as this…all because John “preached as he saw it”.   Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead.  Jesus was just as blunt as John when he said “Go tell this vixen”…He knew where the power was in the kingdom…and it wasn’t the one with the crown.  By the way – History is no respecter of persons.  At least by what we know, eventually Herod was defeated by the Arabs.  His wife seemed to be ticked that she wasn’t in power so she pressed him to ask the Arab leaders if he could be king.  They refused.  He was banished to what we know today as France and then to Spain where he died.  “Big Shot” to “Nobody”…

Jesus’ response?  He withdrew.  He went by boat to a private solitary place.  He was tired but not scared.  I think that what drove him was the timing of God.  When you are tired, you rest.  When God’s timing is important then you follow God.   Jesus wanted to remain on schedule and he needed to get away from where Herod could get his hands on him BEFORE it was the appointed time.  He will have a meeting with Herod prior to His death…it was too soon to have that confrontation right now.  God simply moved His precious Son to a place where events could take place.  The timing of God is always perfect.  From God’s perspective, he was right on time.  Jesus simply followed the One who led him.  He lived it out a step at the time.

There are many things that get my attention.  I watch God work in my life – a day at a time.  I am not God so I am not aware of the journey I am on except one day at a time.  I watch God work in our marriage – one day at a time.  We are a whole lot different now than we were when we first were married.  God is working in her life and is working in my  life and it is all at his time schedule – one day at a time.  I find myself watching God work in my children’s lives  – one day at a time.  I so want God to show me the big picture so I will be able to take a breath wondering if a 19 and 22 year old will get where they are going on time…and God is getting them there but it is  – one day at a time.  I am confident that God is at work in our church – one day at a time.  I know that God is at work moving us as a church to be what He wants us to be.  Sometimes he causes us to move fast and then at other times he slows us down but he does it – one day at a time.

Worship is one focus…private worship where the folk under my leadership are developing a quiet private worship time and life with the Lord Jesus where God is speaking to them.  There is also a corporate worship where we will be focusing the attention to helping our multi-generational congregation validly worship God each week in a way that is meaningful and consistent with Scripture.  I am longing to see the groups of our church “share life” together and not simply attend meetings.  I long to see them Love the lord with all their heart, soul and might AND to love their neighbor as themselves.  That also adds the mission, evangelism part to it where we care about those who are not part of the church fellowship.  It is working out over the next ten years – one day at a time.  We have over 500 Sunday’s left to work it out…I am confident that God is leading and we will follow but it happens one day at a time.

It’s not a matter of fear- it is all about timing.

God help me to trust your work in me today knowing that you perfectly hold every second of my life in your hands.  I trust you today.

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Pause to Listen!

The first thing I saw was a Cardinal outside may window!

3But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

There is something about receiving that causes one to open their mind and understand and then produce.  I am reminded as I think through my own experience of yesterday and other days that on of the goals in loving the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and might and loving our neighbor as ourselves is to learn to receive what God is telling me, opening my mind and seeking to really hear what He is saying and then adjusting my life accordingly.  Life change is one of the byproducts of a life that “receives the seed” especially if that seed falls on good ground of my heart.  I am reminded that the enemy comes for to steal, kill and destroy and he could care less about the garden of my life except to destroy the work of God in it.

I am reminded again this morning that God wants to speak to me more than I want to hear.  I also realize that I need to practice putting pauses in my life where I can look the Lord in the face when He is speaking and take in what He is saying.  I know he will speak in some pretty interesting places and at least my own experience is that He never screams and is never pushy or rude.  If I do not want to hear he will not force it.  I must invite him to speak.  I want to keep the soil of my heart tilled up and ready when he decides to speak as we walk together through this day.  I have to stop and listen…push the pause button…and give full attention to the moment.  I will admit that it is tough especially with one eaten up with the ADHDDDDDDDDDDDDD.  I don’t need help being distracted.  I can do that well.  Every noise becomes a new challenge and a new place to discover.  But to stop and listen and draw every bit of life out of what God says…that is a real delight.

By the way…my study at home has a window right beside my computer.  I have a bird feeder outside and the birds are beautiful.  God made the reds on cardinals unbelievable.  I also am a fan of the Gold Finch, and the blue birds…When the sun hits them they shine.

Thank you God for what my heart can feel, my soul can sense and my mind can be challenged with today.  I am glad you love me.  I am thankful that you still speak.

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12How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

I remember yesterday thinking about the conversation between Jesus and a rich young ruler.  The inquiry focused on the ruler’s interest as to what the greatest commandment would be.  Jesus said to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and might and the second is like unto it – to love your neighbor as you love yourself.  When Dr. Joe Cothen (seminary professor and major player Vice President at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and “preaching machine” I might add) was asked what he job description would be at the church, he replied, “To love God, love the people and work accordingly.”  I thought that was pretty much spot on.  It would work well with my marriage – love God, love Nancy, and work accordingly.  It would work well for my children – love God, love my children and work accordingly.  I know it would work well at the church house – love God, love the people and work accordingly.

Jesus did that well.  He loved God.  No Question!  He loved people.  No question about that at all…  He worked accordingly…and perfectly at it I might add.  He goes to church.  He sees a man with at shriveled hand.  He stands in the presence of God under the power of the Holy Spirit…so the Godhead is present, the disciples are watching, the man with the shriveled hand is there and the religious snobs who have so many rules that it keeps them from loving people are present.  God is honored.  The disciples are blown away.  The man is rejoicing because he is healed and Lord God placed a great deal of significance on him telling him he was more important that all the rules that burden down the insensitive religious people.  And he did good on the Sabbath because the greatest goal in life is to love God with all your heart soul and might and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.  He had the ability to help him.  He did!

Side bar:  The religious people loved it so much that they began to plot to kill Jesus.  Now, ain’t that precious!  Religious people found something that they didn’t like.  So disconnected from the people they could not rejoice that a child of God with a shriveled hand was now made whole…he could work…contribute to society…feel whole.

God, my hearts desire today is to love you with all my heart, soul and might…and to love others with the same passion that I love myself.  You love to change me.  I am glad that I get to spend a great deal of time today with the people of God.  Change me, today!

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16“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17” ‘We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge
and you did not mourn.’

Whew!  I thought that what we see today is something that just happened!

Maybe that is what I like about Jesus.  He simply tells the truth.  He is looking at this group of people and saying that you guys are so childish.  You want entertainment and something new all the time.  You can’t seem to get your fill of anything.  I have known for years that young people were members of about five churches around town and they hop from place to place finding out who has the best “show” for the evening.  This church has the better band.  This one has the better facilities.  This group is the biggest.  It has now gotten where adults have followed suit.

Just the other day I was walking through the hospital when I ran into a good friend of mine and we began to discuss issues that are similar to this.  He has a dear friend in his church that writes music and was interested in continuing to write music for which the church may wish express worship to God.  This friend of mine asked him if he wanted a vast supply of available, time tested, public domain poetry that could be used and all that was needed was for someone to arrange the music.  The fellow was excited and asked my friend to tell him.  My friend gave him a hymn book that we use in our worship services sometimes.  The song was Draw Me Nearer.  He went to work and arranged music to go along with it, and it has enhanced their worship as well.

OK, I will admit that I am getting old.  OK, I admit that I am not as hungry for some of what I hear today.  I admit that the older I get the more I want to deepen my relationship with Christ.  I find myself moved by some of the music writers of today.  Chris Tomlin is one of them and those of his ilk turn me on.  But I would be less than honest if I did not say that I find my soul moved by the depths of the old hymns.  I feel a real need to teach the lyrics to the congregations of today.  I wish God would rise up for us men and women who would help us reconnect with those heart felt poems by placing new and creative music applications to these songs which are mostly public domain songs.

I find myself either so busy or so wrapped in my own mess that there is no time for great thinking any more.  Where have all the great poets and thinkers gone?  Have we, because of technology, gaming, advancements in the pursuit of the trivial given our minds and hearts away and no longer meditate and seek to think deeply about the things of God?  Have we gotten where we are forced to do “anything” we have to do in worship both private and public, to entertain the crowd to keep them interested in the things of God and “keep a crowd coming”?  Have we created a “spoiled” generation who demand to be entertained by the flash and have the senses moved while the mind and heart stays disconnected?  Have we gotten to where we now want to no longer want to be serious about life and death?  Help me Jesus!  He did.

Jesus asked, “To what can I compare this generation?”  Children!  Kids that imitate adults without the responsibilities that go along with it.  They dress like them.   They “act” like them.  Yet when it is all said and done, they just played the game.  I can see Jesus watch the children play.  I would wonder if while he was saying that some children were playing to his left or right and he pointed to them as he said it.  There is no difference between children that act like adults and adults that play church.  They want the externals but want nothing of the responsibilities that go along with the reality of the relationship with the Lord Jesus.  They play the game.  They sing the songs of the faith – hymns of great depth and meaning – hymns that have been tested by men and women of faith down through the years – and take no effort to unpack the truths for themselves and do nothing but sing a melody with their minds disconnected and their hearts and souls have missed the chance to reflect and respond to what God wants to say to them that morning.  Or, God forbid, they complain because the melody is not of their liking.  Entertainment is of more value.  They sit in the presence of the reading of God’s word, whether in private or in a public worship experience, and it becomes something to check off of a “to do” list…and not a method to help one meet the One who wrote the Book.  The preaching of God’s word is not entertaining enough or is not “what they want to hear “…we played the flute for you and you did not dance…”  The Word of God is taught and preached and folk walk away in the same shape they were in or may God help us we walk away in worse condition.   We tried to tell you preacher that we do not like that stuff.   All of this as current as the Scriptures.  It is not entertaining enough.  Help me Jesus.

Father, help me to meet you at every point today.  Help me see you in the Word as I read it.  Help me see you in the people I meet and the places I go today.  Don’t let me miss one point.  Use the old and the new to move my spirit and heart.  God help me not to play a game with this.  I want to walk with you!

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