Sunday, April 15, 2012

Are you Okay? Am I Okay?

Do you ever question your "okayness"? Remember the warm fuzzies that were popular in the 70's to let someone know they were okay? So without the fuzzies, how do we know we are okay today?

Jesus considered us okay enough to give up his life for us. I'm not sure I'm okay enough to give up my life, yet. But I am trying to be a living sacrifice, submitting to God daily, renewing my mind and not being conformed to this world. 

Jesus tells us we are okay when we love one another as he has loved us.

 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34 - 35)

I am trying to use my spiritual gifts in ways that are pleasing to God and will encourage others to follow his teachings. But I can not do this alone. As Hans Denck wrote. "For whoever thinks they belong to Christ must walk the way that Christ walked." He wants us to love him enough to take up our cross and follow him.

I think Martin Luther's words best describes how we will know we are okay: "God does not want hearers and repeaters of words, but doers and followers who exercise themselves in the faith that worketh by love."

Thursday, April 12, 2012


"Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress (Alfred A Montapert)

Why are you sitting on top of that horse, just rocking back and forth, going nowhere? Has the Lord inspired you to ministry or some other work in his name and you keep rocking instead of deciding what to do? Are you rocking in fear of failure, trying to figure out how to do this perfectly? Are you getting dizzy from going back and forth with all the negative thoughts that are destroying your confidence in your ability?

Have you forgotten what God has said? Didn't he tell you to "fear not for I am with you?" Didn't you hear him say to "be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to him?" So what is holding you back?

Have you considered that it isn't all up to you? When God calls, he provides the skill and the way. Just trust and obey. Take the first step and he will guide the rest of your steps.
He even opens door for you. Remember what he says in Romans 12 about how he equips us for our calling:

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith. if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosituy; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."

Get off your horse and walk into God's purpose and light being confident in his promises.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What Do You Feed 19 Kids?

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:9-10 NIV

Limited population growth is being advocated world wide because of growing scarcity of resources. Besides the cost of food, clothing, health care and shelter, parents are also concerned about the cost and availibility of good educational resources. Then many parents have unfulfilled goals they have set aside until the children are grown such as career development, continuing education, travel, pursuing a risky career move, etc. Each family has their own list of reasons to limit the size of the family. 

"What's for breakfast?" This was the theme of the Today show this morning as they visited the Duggan family in Arkansas. This is the family with 19 children and now the older ones are marrying and starting their own families. Just imagine how many eggs were colored and hidden in the yard for Easter egg finding. This family seems to be managing its growth financially and with open arms. They admit to having faith that the Lord will provide and he is doing just that. So why can't everyone believe that the Lord will gift us in caring for our families?

When we depend strictly on our own resources and think selfishly of ourselves, we indeed  need to worry about how we will manage. In doing so, we are limiting what God can give us. He is better than the bank because the gifts he gives are given freely with no interest charged. When we give our children everything they ask for, but don't give them God as their resource for all good gifts, we are depriving them of the greatest gift we can give them for living a good life...Jesus and the cross. 

Therefore when planning a family and how we will feed them, remember it's about more than just nourishment. They need nurturing which comes through love...the love of God through his son, Jesus. Feed your family on trust and faith. Believe that our Father in heaven will give us more than we ask.

"Father in heaven, give us faith and confidence that in whatever situation we are in need that we will depend on  your gifts to sustain and satisfy us. Help us to provide for the needs of our families by placing you in the center."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

THE EMPTY TOMB (revised)

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (Jn 20:1-2)

Have you ever had something very precious to you stolen? How did you feel? Disappointed? Angry? Lost? Confused?  Those who loved Jesus were grief stricken. Even though he had foretold them his death, they did not fully understand. Their loved one was gone. They felt lost without him. Now to add insult to injury, the tomb was empty. Some one or some thing had stolen the body of their beloved friend. They were filled with emotion. So much so, they had forgotten his promise of resurrection.

Sometimes our lives feel like that tomb. Empty! Jesus isn't there. We feel lost, incomplete, confused, angry, disappointed? Who took him away from us? Consider which of our own attitudes leave us feeling empty. What about envy, negative thoughts, unforgiveness, pride, greed, stubborness, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, drunkenness, sexual imputities and the like? When we focus on these things, we leave little room for Christ in our lives.

He promised more to his disciples when he had to leave them to be with his father, God. He promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. When we invite him into our lives we receive the gifts of the Spirit which include: love, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. When we are filled with the Spirit, we are never empty. Our lives are filled to overflowing and we can follow his command to love one another with great generosity.

"Lord, while we wait for your return, keep your Holy Spirit in our hearts so we can follow your example of loving generously and abide by your commands. Help us to be humble servants and worthy of your sacrifice on the cross."