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Archive for July, 2010

When you look at things under a microscope the beauty jumps out.  When one thinks of the many different bacterial that we probably have running around in our body anyway, it is unbelievable what happens when one of them get’s loose and goes to work.  I am not certain I had what the doc called “Campylobacter” in a file folder somewhere in my body.  I am assuming it was something I ate.  Nancy and I eat out every where.  There is no telling where in the world this little devil started his visit with me…but…I am certain it came from hell because I could smell the smoke of hell all around it.

It has been about 11 days since I have been fighting this monster.  Complicate that by add gout and it makes me feel even better.  The vicious shakes and temperature companioned by periods sweating and diarrhea were just part of the journey.  When Dr. Tim Spurling put me in the hospital and began to give IV Fluids, I could begin to tell a bit of a difference in the temperature and it gave me a partner I could drag around to the bathroom. Now released from the hospital and scared to eat anything for fear of all my stomach visitors returning, I wait for the healing of God along with all the meds that doc had prescribed.

5 In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.  8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Ken Smith reminded me with this verse this morning.  Give all our worries and cares to God for He does care about me.  This will be an interesting week for me.  Rick Estes, our Minister of Music, is taking his family and moving them according to the will of God to Tampa FL. where they begin setting up camp.  Ginger Lewellen, one of our three Ministry Assistants,  starts her last week with us for she, too, will be moving along with her daughter back to North Greenville College where she begins work next week.  David Murphy has graciously accepted the request of our Personnel Committee to begin an intentional interim as our Worship Music Leader as of August 2nd.  Jay will be traveling back from China this week and joining his family and our staff again as he has been teaching English and hopefully having a chance to share the Gospel message with the folk there.

Today is a new day.  I will trust Him.  He will guide me all the way through it for the Book says He cares for me…and the Book don’t lie!

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6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[d] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!

Won’t it be a wonderful day when CHRIST is enough.  I wonder sometimes if the baby boomer generation (and I am one) has not made life and worship about “me” instead of “HIM”.  Just this past week in the Baptist Courier, our South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention printing, the author of the article commented on Monty Hale as it was reported,  “Hale thinks it’s directly related to the rise to power of baby boomers, a generation that came of age “telling ourselves it was all about us, and that [attitude] washed over into our thinking and into our Christianity.”  The issue there related to control in the church.  I wanted to suggest that the issue of our worship these days is rarely about HIM but more about us.  It is what we want.

The passage in front of me reminded me that in God’s good timing, He will send a Child and a Son, and it will all rest on HIM.  His government and peace will never end.  He will rule.  It will be the passionate commitment of God that will make it happen.  It is not about us.  But we have made it so different.  We have made about our experiences.  We are a group of folk today that chases experience and feeling and we will do anything and go any place where “we” like what “we” want and it seems that we miss that it is not about us but about HIM.  It is OK Christ is good, but there is more… and the list could be endless…  for example.  Some say it is to experience the baptism of the Spirit.  Some would suggest that it is Christ plus the right kind of worship style.  It is Christ plus conferences, especially if it is about Beth Moore or Joyce Meyer, or some other great teacher.  It is about Christ and the kind of music that “I” like.  We have become so consumer oriented and forgotten that the only consumer that should consume out attention is the ONE who is totally sufficient…the Lord Jesus Christ.

May it be about Jesus today.  God has already said it will be about His Glory as revealed to us in the Son under the leadership of the Spirit.  So whether the music is loud and smoke rises and lights flash, or whether it is in the quiet moment of solitude – it is not about me – it is about HIM.

Forgive me, Father, when I take my mind off of you…when I become consumed with what I want, my seat, my pleasures, my favorite style, my – oh, my.  Forgive me.  We are no longer looking for the Child, the Son, the one upon whom the government rests, the one who is Wonderful, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.  We no longer need to look for we have found HIM.  Forgive me for wanting what He can give me, rather than being consumed with Who HE is.  It puts me in my right perspective.  Again, I travel to the place where I realize YOU are God and I am not.

I worship you, Father.

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Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.

1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Her name was Ms. Hodges.  It was 1960 and she was no young lady when I was a lad in first grade.  Her age and wisdom and the age we lived in allowed for unbelievable training as a child.  This morning I was reminded how blessed I was to be raised in a different time in society.  Every morning with a bible on her own desk, Ms. Hodges would stand in that first grade class at Waterman Street Elementary School, have all the rest of us stand and she would lead us in quoting the 100th Psalm, repeat our pledge to the American Flag, and finish by quoting the 23rd Psalm.  The Lord’s Prayer was in there some where.  I still remember that experience.  I was wondering around in some old pictures of Marietta looking for a glimpse of a picture that would contain that old landmark.  It is now gone.  Wooden floors that captured every step of those walking the halls, air that was conditioned by opening the windows of the tall windows, heating the room with radiators filled with steam, and being greeted each morning as the principal would step out on the porch and ring that hand held bell.

Home, Church, Schools, patriotism and words like that were held in ultimate respect.  Prayer in school and Bible reading were expected and respected.

I remember the 100th Psalm.  I hear the teacher’s voice as she invites us to stand and repeat this old section from Scripture.  I remember.  He is God.  He made us…not the other way around.  We are His…he is not ours.  We are His people and we are the sheep and he is our Shepherd.

Taught those things as a small lad from school no less… Go God!

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25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.

28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

I believe it was Max Lucado who said, “To qualify for welfare you have to admit you are poor.  To qualify for bankruptcy you have to admit that you are broke.  To qualify for entrance into the hospital you have to admit you are sick.  To qualify for heaven you have to admit you are hell bound.”  The first three are easy to deal with.  My experience has been that in order to deal with the fourth is quite a different story.

Now to be honest about it, I have seen folk who are in a dark place find it easy to come to Christ.  The messier the life – the tougher the situations – the hotter the heat – the easier it is to see things from God’s perspective.  When you are at the bottom you need God…it seems.

However, when life gets better and the bills are paid…when our bellies are full and we are out of the hospital enjoying the healing that God brings – we tend to forget.  We get proud.  Our American blessings tend to make us cocky and we get to feeling like God ought to feel pretty lucky that we are alive right now.

All of a sudden I since a movement  where Jesus is an option.  He is necessary…just not everything.  It is Jesus plus going to church.  It is Jesus plus having the right doctrine.  It is Jesus plus the right translation of the Bible.  It is Jesus plus going on a mission trip.  It is Jesus plus visiting the hospitals.  It is Jesus plus what I do.  And it seems that if I am not careful, I get lost and prideful about what I have done and forget that none of this would be possible had it not been for Christ.

Then I read, “Whom have I in heaven but you?”  Jesus is not one way among many by whom we are able to reach the Divine.  He is the only way.  The writer here says “I desire you more than anything on earth…”  OK!  Let’s get honest.  It is time to take a survey of our life and start to list the things that are in the way in my own life.  How I long to say that I desire you more than anything on earth.  I feel small all of a sudden…kind of like getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar…shocked that I got caught but even more ashamed that I would have discovered my own focus slipping away from the true center of life.  And I guess as I think about it – it is not what I say about myself – it really is what others who know me most would say about me if they were asked “Whom does Crooks have in heaven but Christ?”

I am near Him because He made that possible through Christ.  I am saved (as Lucado says) because Christ rescued me – not because I learned to swim.  It is not what I did…it is what He did.  I was drowning and the Lord Jesus Saved Me!  And He did that all because He loved me.

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