I've read that the once Soviet Dictator, Stalin, was so fearful for his life that he actually had eight bedrooms. He would select a different one in which to sleep each night without giving any advance notice.
Have you ever been afraid?
A few nights ago I was awakened by someone in the house who had a terrible nightmare. You've heard the expression, blood curdling? Well, that's the scream I heard late one night. I jumped out of bed and went running. After several minutes of consoling, peace was restored, to the house, but not to me. There was just something about the scream that I couldn't get out of my head. I had never heard anything like it before. Needless to say, I was up the rest of the night tossing and turning. I guess you could say that I was afraid.
I'm thankful that while there will be things in life that startle us, God has made it so we don't have to live each day in fear. The Bible says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tm. 1:7).
Someone once said that, "Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child."
Life happens. Challenges confront us. Storms blow. The wind is taken out of our sail. Yet, God promises us that in the final analysis, He will make it all okay when we trust Him. Yes, He calms our soul (Phil. 4:7).
Today, don't live in fear. Instead, if you're a faithful child of God, live your day with "peace, perfect peace."
I hope you have a great day!
A cultural critic by the name of Michael Medved said that by the time a child graduates from high school, he has spent "vastly more time on TV than in all the classrooms [he's] ever entered." He goes on to make the point that we should care more about our kids being good than just looking good. He said that television hinders this, and it's a huge problem with America's children because it teaches "that the biggest crime is not being immoral, but being unattractive."
The times have changed. Culture has changed. Technology has changed.
Today's kids are not just addicted to television, but now the internet, games, texting, email, social media, and more. They have easy access to such things through devices like internet ready gaming systems, iPods, tablets, and smartphones. An increasing number of our little ones are carrying smartphones. Hard to believe. My wife recently told a class of sixth graders that she was married before having her first cell phone--they couldn't believe it.
While I certainly am not anti-television, technology, and the like, I am however concerned about who and what is rearing our children.
When a young person can tell me more about the latest fashion trend, the newest gadget, who's sexually active with whom on their favorite sitcom, but can tell me very little about the Word of God, much less tell what Jesus did for them and how they intend to live for Him, then "Houston, we have a problem!"
This is where parenting comes in--not the church, not the Bible school program, not special youth programs. Parents are told to "bring [children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). That's OUR job, parents. How's business?
Take extra time today to share Jesus' story with your kids.
Have a great day!
I've heard preachers use illustrations from the life of Fritz Kreisler, famous violinist, a number of times over the years. However, I've never heard this one until just recently.
When Kreisler had a little time before catching a boat to London to give a concert, he went into a music store. While there, the store's owner asked if he could take a look at the violin that he was carrying. Kreisler agreed and the store owner disappeared.
Shortly thereafter the store's owner returned with the police and Kreisler was arrested. When Kreisler asked why, the officers said this, "You have Fritz Kreisler's violin." He of course responded with, "I am Fritz Kreisler." They said, "You can't pull that on us. Come along to the station."
Kreisler, knowing that his boat heading to London was soon to leave, he asked if he could see the violin that he was accused of stealing. They agreed and Kreisler then played a piece that everyone was familiar with. He played it, like only Kreisler could do. Kreisler then asked the officers, "Now are you satisfied?" They certainly were.
Question, if you were asked to prove that you are a Christian, could you do it? So many claim Christianity, why they even go to church on Sunday. Yet, what happens the rest of the week is far different than the way God's book tells us Christians are to live.
Could you, when challenged to take a stand, be proven as a true New Testament Christian? Could you satisfy the doubters? Could you tell someone to imitate you because you're imitating Jesus?
The Bible says, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am a follower of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
I hope you have a great day!
Job said, "Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1). And for some folks, it's their "trouble" that seems to be all they want to talk about.
Now, PLEASE, don't misunderstand. I really want to know how people are doing. Yet, with some folks it's always the "trouble" that folks like to tell rather than the "good stuff." Trust me, there is "good stuff" in your life in the midst of trouble.
As Jerry Clower used to say, "If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'." So, I'm not pulling your leg when I say that despite your difficulties, you are blessed. You see, the Psalmist said, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Psa. 68:19).
I recently read this statement made by Tommy Lasorda, former MLB Coach, "I found that it's not good to talk about my troubles. Eighty percent of the people who hear them don't care, and the other twenty percent are glad you're having trouble."
While Lasorda's figures are off, and there are those of us who do care--and God certainly does, it would be good to share the positives and not always the negatives.
Something to think about today.
You go out and make today a great day!
When unemployment was at its peak in recent years folks would talk to me, sometimes in tears, about their job loss. While the unemployment numbers are down slightly, there are still some who are struggling to find work. Others are battling with working at a job they hate, but are keeping at it until something better comes along. The saying is true, "it's a whole lot easier to find a job when you already have one."
On occasion, I've recommended a book by Dan Miller called, 48 Days to the Work You Love. From my reading of the book it seems that Miller has two primary points. 1) You can find a job that you love in just a few days. 2) Learn to love the job you have.
The author deals with the false notion by some that "work" is an ugly 4-letter word. That it's punishment handed down as a result of Adam and Eve's sin in the garden. Miller rightfully deals with the fact that work can be and should be something we enjoy.
While some may argue with me, I feel like what I do everyday is work. Some days it's really hard work. In fact, there are days that I really don't like "going to work." The days that I visit children in hospitals who have been severely injured or burned. Times that I must sit in a hospital room with someone who is dying. The occasions when someone has asked me what to do about a marriage when one party realizes after decades that their marriage is unapproved by God.
So, there are days that I might not like going to work, but I LOVE my work! Never once have I considered it a punishment for something I've done, or the consequence of Adam and Eve's sin.
"Yes, but you're a preacher. You're doing work for God." True, but did you ever stop to think that you're working for God too? You see, there's a sense in which every job can be and should be a service to the Master. And, when approached in that fashion you can learn to love your work.
A couple of passages:
"And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God" (Eccl. 3:13).
"And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isa. 65:21-22).
Go to work with this thought, "today, I'm laboring for the Lord." You might find that your job is not that bad after all.
I hope you have a great day!
In "Bit's and Pieces" the author writes about and event in the life of one of my favorite President's, Abraham Lincoln. He tells:
One afternoon in 1865, President Lincoln's Cabinet entered a council room for a meeting and found the President seated at the head of the table, his face buried in his hands. Presently he raised his head. His face was grave and worn. "Gentlemen," he said, "before long you will have important news."
Someone inquired, "Have you bad news, Mr. President? Is it something serious?"
"I have heard nothing; I've had no news," he replied. "But last night I had a dream. I dreamed I was in a boat, alone. I had no oars, no rudder. I was helpless in a boundless ocean." There was silence for a moment. Then the President added: "I have had that dream many times during the war. And each time, some great battle came within a day or two. Yes, gentlemen, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in just a few hours, you will have important news."
Five hours later, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
As I read the stories of Lincoln's life I seem to notice a recurring theme--he's a man who appears to often be disappointed, discouraged, and depressed.
Some would suggest that his emotional battle was a result of the job. It has a way of aging a man--we've seen it time and time again. No matter which side of the political aisle you find yourself, it's indeed a heavy burden to bear. It has the potential to weary even the strongest among us.
Others have said his depression came about as the result of losing a child prematurely. If you've seen a child suffer, then perhaps you can put yourself in Lincoln's shoes and relate to how he must have felt. Still yet, it's been thought that his discouragement was the result of a tumultuous relationship with his wife.
Neil, you're being a Debbie-downer this morning. That's not my intention at all. Here's the point. Today, you will come face to face with a "Lincoln"--discouraged, disappointed, and maybe even depressed. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He may not have presidential responsibilities, but big ones nonetheless.
Perhaps she's a mother stressed out about a child who is getting on her last nerve.
Maybe it's a husband whose wife is threatening to leave him if he doesn't get a higher paying job.
It could be that it's a child who has been severely and emotionally abused by a parent who can't seem to get hold of his own emotions.
Whether you realize it or not, there is someone you'll come in contact with today that needs you. They need a smile, they need a friendly embrace, they need a word of encouragement. and above all, they need the encouraging words of Jesus (Rev. 22:17).
Today, be a friend, and help someone else to have a great day!
Theodore Roosevelt said, "We have got but one life here...It pays, no matter what comes after it, to try and do things, to accomplish things in this life, and not merely to have a soft and pleasant time."
I know what comes "after it." I'm trying to get ready for it the best way I know how, and God willing when life's final curtain is drawn, it will be heaven for me.
But I know that the ultimate rest only comes to those who have spent their days on this earth working diligently for Him. As we begin this week together may I put before each of us a few challenges?
1. Rise up early to worship the Lord (Exo. 24:4). It's amazing what you can accomplish for God by getting up just a few minutes earlier each day. What if, before getting up to pack school lunches, fixing breakfast, having that first cup of coffee, and watching the morning news, you went into that quiet den and let God talk to you through His Word? Then, when He's finished, you talked to God about the day's itinerary? Reckon it would help to guide your focus for the day?
2. Write down the name of one person you would like to bring to worship this Sunday (Mk. 16:15). Post that name somewhere that you will see it every day, many times a day--on the refrigerator, on your nightstand, or next to your computer. Every time you see that name pause for a moment and pray for him/her that they will be receptive to your invitation, and that you'll have the courage to give the invite. On Friday evening, make the call. Let the person know you've been praying for him this week, and would love for him to sit on the pew next to you this Lord's Day, and then join you for lunch after that.
3. Pick out one person in the church that you don't know very well and make it a point this week to call, pay a visit, or write a note of encouragement (Eph. 4:29). Let that person know that you were thinking about him and praying for him.
4. Choose one evening, maybe tonight, that you're going to go and visit a shut-in member of the church (Jas. 1:27). I guarantee to you that his heart will rejoice and yours will too.
I know you have a busy week. Perhaps you have a lot of housework that needs to be done. Maybe you have a big school project, or special task at work that needs your attention. No matter what you have going on this week, don't forget about the Lord.
Remember, it's the Lord's work that we must accomplish in this life in order to receive the favorable reward that lies ahead in the next life.
I hope you have a great day!
Bonnie Miller writes,
Our minister's wife told of filling out a form in her pediatrician's office. Beside the blank marked "occupation" were these words: "If you devote the greater part of your time to loving, caring and making a home for your family, put a big star in this space."
In deed, the mother is the "star" of the home. God himself said so through the penman in Proverbs 31 as he writes about the "worthy woman." She's honored and praised by all within her house, but more importantly, by the Father of the universe.
This Lord's Day, while we first honor our heavenly Father in our worship, we likewise will be honoring mothers around the world. We'll buy them candy, send them flowers, purchase jewelry, and take them to lunch. All of which is wonderful, but what better compliment we could give our mothers than that of letting them know how important their Christian living was and is to our faithfulness to the Lord?
A mother's first mission field is her family. The first soul(s) she is responsible for (after her own) is her husband (Gen. 2:18); secondly, she has a duty to rear children for heaven's glory (2 Tm. 1:5).
Mothers, you're worthy of honor this Sunday and everyday, because of your value in the home, the kingdom, and even to the world at large. God bless you and keep you!
I hope you have a great day!
When I grow up, I want to be like Rebekah. In case you're wondering, Rebekah is our three year old daughter. This sounds weird, I know, but it's really not.
It's not really strange to want to grow up and be more like a child, that is, unless you're not familiar with the words of Jesus. He said, "...Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3).
Lately I've noticed that Rebekah has been talking (really more like singing) about Jesus. For instance, this week I heard her singing, "twinkle, twinkle, little star up in the sky, Jesus Christ." I guess she was thinking that the "star" in the song was Jesus.
Two things that Rebekah has been teaching me this week about Jesus: 1) Jesus should constantly be in our minds, and 2) Jesus should forever be the "star" of our words.
It's so important that we have the right mindset. It directly impacts who we are, and even determines what we say. If our mind is constantly on Christ, then it stands to reason that our actions and words will be more Christlike.
Today, have the mind of Christ. Learn to be more like a child. Children help us to better see God.
I hope you have a great day!
I love telling the stories of the day to my family. When I got home this week, boy did I have a good one.
While out trying to visit one of our, shall I say "gracefully aging," members to wish her a happy birthday, I found myself in the wrong location. I don't know why this happened, I've been by to check on her before. But, for whatever reason I knocked on the wrong door and an unfamiliar face answered.
She was no doubt as surprised as I was. I introduced myself, and so did she. She invited me in and I accepted. I told her my funny story and we had a good chat.
Most times when I knock on a stranger's door to pay a visit I'm kindly told "not interested," and sent on my way. Thankfully, this was not the case this time. We talked about our families, religious background, and in short our "stories." I learned that this friendly lady was retired, had recently moved to town to be closer to family as she deals with some health issues, and at one time thought of becoming a nun.
Before leaving, I asked her if I might come by and study the Bible with her. She was surprised that I'd offer to come back and study with "just her" as if I needed a larger group before I would offer to teach the Bible. I assured her that I wanted to talk to anyone and everyone that would listen. So we'll be getting together again real soon. She was so very pleasant and I look forward to that time.
You know, there is more said in the Bible about Jesus teaching in a one-on-one scenario than giving large public discourses. Statistically, more people decide to become members of a local church when they are invited by an individual, than by hearing public preaching.
What does that tell us? Perhaps we should knock on the "wrong door" a little more often. The Bible says, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel" (Mk. 16:15). That's our job. How's work going?
I hope you have a great day!