Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Tune of the Unknown



 I love Calvin Miller’s title for today’s Advent Devotion from his book, "The Christ of Christmas."

The Tune of the Unknown.  Years ago Renee and I visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virgina and stood at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was powerful display of discipline, patriotism, and gratitude. The message to us was that there will be no man or women who has served our country forgotten.

Luke 1:51-53 (NKJV)
51  He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52  He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. 53  He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent  away empty.


The high and mighty rarely seek God’s help, so most of
His work is done by those with less reputation.


It doesn’t appear in Scripture that Mary saw herself as an almighty saint, but as a person of lowly status.  God was the Great One. Only He was mighty, exalting those of low degree.  Most of the great bible heroes would have been surprised to look down from heaven and see how venerated they became.  Perhaps no one was more surprised than Mary.  How she must have trembled at the Almighty’s request of her.

God’s will for her was not only hard to bear, but also impossible to explain.  Here’s what I love about Mary.  She didn’t wait until God’s plan was complete before she rejoiced.  She sang her Magnificat form the very first moments she yielded her life to God.

You will find that you may not complete all that God has for you to do in order to find your own joy.  Joy begins with the moment you begin to yield your life.  It is the “yes” moment, the moment you throw your reluctance overboard. You will feel praise welling up inside you.

Lord, today may you use the yielded.  Help me to yield to your will.  Help me to never think that I am somehow deserving of You.  Help me to realize that I cannot do anything major with minor trust.  Help me to say yes to you, so that my song can be, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Don't Belong

Today I attended the funeral service of a friend and colleague in ministry, Fifty nine year old Pastor Rick Shoemaker. He would have turned sixty this Sunday.  Rick pastored the First Baptist Church of New Carlisle, Ohio for thirty four years. While we were not in weekly communication, we did touch base periodically.  At one time Rick was even considering becoming the Associational Missionary for our Association. He was always kind, and gracious.  As you see from his picture, he usually had a smile.

His  memorial service was absolutely packed with family, his church, and many friends and fellow pastors. Those that spoke , spoke passionately about the impact he had made on their lives.  He invested in people! His life, and even in his death, he has reminded this pastor that you really never know the impact or the reach of the ministry that God has place us in, or me in.  A Missionary from Thailand I believe preached the sermon and it was powerful!  Love his thought when he opened to Rick's wife and family and shared that this is not a precious day, but it is a precious thing to the Lord. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15.

Buddy Greene in his ballad the Sojourner's Song sings it this way on the chorus:

I don’t belong and I’m going someday, home to my own native land.
I don’t belong and it seems like I hear the sound of a welcome home band.
I don’t belong; I’m a foreigner here just singing a sojourner’s song.
I’ve always known this place ain’t home and I don’t belong.



I don’t belong and I’m going someday, home to my own native land.
I don’t belong and it seems like I hear the sound of a welcome home band.
I don’t belong; I’m a foreigner here just singing a sojourner’s song.
I’ve always known this place ain’t home and I don’t belong
Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/i-dont-belong-sojourners-song-lyrics-buddy-greene.html#UISV4UoMWdqRFaZX.99
I don’t belong and I’m going someday, home to my own native land.
I don’t belong and it seems like I hear the sound of a welcome home band.
I don’t belong; I’m a foreigner here just singing a sojourner’s song.
I’ve always known this place ain’t home and I don’t belong
Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/i-dont-belong-sojourners-song-lyrics-buddy-greene.html#UISV4UoMWdqRFaZX.99
Fifty nine has made me once again consider my own mortality.  I will not live on earth forever.  May the Lord somehow use this weak vessel of clay for His Glory through the preaching of His Word. Lord may I be found faithful.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Home

Lost! Do you ever spend part of your time dealing with the word lost?  I don't know about you, but I spend many minutes a day looking for misplaced things or lost things.  The urgency of the search depends on what value I place on what is actually missing. Luke 19:10 (NKJV)  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." If Jesus came to save us from being lost, there must be some place we are supposed to be. That place is in a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. What value God places on you.  He loves you and me and died so that we could be found, be saved!

Today marks another loss in our personal lives.  Twenty nine years ago today, Renee's dad, Floyd Smith said goodbye to a great family and a cancer stricken body and went home to be with the Lord.  Today as we remember him, I thank God for the great daughter he handed to me thirty years ago to take care of as my wife. He would be so proud of her. 


Today I am now a father in law.  With a wonderful daughter in law, Ashley, who loves Drew and is raising two great boys, and a fine son in law, Kyle who loves Stacy and faithfully preaches the gospel.  We are blessed! God help us slow down and enjoy today.  May we linger in the moment of being a family.

When we lose a loved one who knows Christ as their Savior we often say we have lost them.  When we know where they are, they are not lost, are they?  They are simply home.

In memory of Father in Law Floyd Smith - Oct. 16, 1984.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Flag Poles and Prayer

  On this See You at the Pole Wednesday, students across the nation gather around a flag pole to pray and ask God for his blessing in their lives, this nation, and our school campuses. O. Hallesby writes," Listen my friend! Your helplessness is your best prayer.  It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas.  He hears it from the very moment that you are seized with helplessness, and He becomes actively engaged at once in hearing and answering the prayer of your helplessness.  He hears today as He heard the helpless and the wordless prayer of the man sick with palsy."
   As a nation we turn to God when tragedy hits.  When we have a national crisis we are all about prayer from the White House down. It is during these times that we get it.  There is no other place to turn to find comfort for the hour, and hope for the future.  Jesus Christ is the answer friends, do you know Him as your Savior? Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."John 14:27
Let's make sure we pray everyday.  

--

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy 30th to my girl!


Today Renee and I celebrate our 30th Anniversary. What a blessing to be able to travel this journey with such a great wife, mom, and memaw! God knew what I would need when He was shaping me to be a pastor.  We have been blessed with a great family and I am honored and humbled to pastor a great church.  It is exciting to think of the days ahead.  Let us be faithful to the call!
        
Proverbs 31:10
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.

Vv. 28-30
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29"Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all."
30Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 

Thank you Lord!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to Something!

Where the Bible Meets Life
   I love this time of the year.  College Football and the Ohio State Buckeyes are certainly two reasons, but they are only two of many things that I appreciate. Leaves, pumpkins, marching bands, Pork Festival, Black Walnut Festival!  It is a time for kids to go back to school, a time for farmers to harvest crops, and a time for many after being away during the summer to get back to church. 
   We have designated September 8th as Back to Church Sunday.  That seems to be a little odd just saying it, but we live in a day where we must make choices and my prayer for our church family and for my family is that we choose to worship and to make that choice a priority. I am excited about our new Bible Studies for Life Sunday School that we relaunch on September 1.  All of our age groups  looking at the same lesson together weekly.  The beginning study of James will set the tone for a great quarter of ministry and discipleship together.  I hope you will join us for Sunday School or perhaps it is time to get back to Church.  I pray you will come and I look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Joy in the Journey

As we prepare for a family vacation.  This time it is a little different. Since our last trip to the beach as a family, we have added a grandson, Drew and Ashley's second,  and Stacy's husband Kyle.  The anticipation for a trip all boils down to arriving at your destination.  While that is true, I want to slow down and take in the joy in the journey to get there.  The laughs, memories, and sometimes best sermon illustrations actually come from the journey itself. I am going to be looking for those kind of things on this trip, this adventure!

As a Christian, I pray you are finding joy in the journey of serving the Lord.  God gives us something to celebrate, and that is a peace that the world cannot produce.

This summer slow down a step or two and take a look around.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One Step At A time

I hope you were part of the viewing audience that watched Nic Wallenda walk the tightrope over 1400 feet across a section of the Grand Canyon. To make it even more sensational, he did it without a tether or any kind of safety device. If that weren’t enough, he prayed and praised the Lord all the way across with a microphone that went out to the world that was watching. You talk about a public testimony.  I have come to find out that this is nothing new for him to pray and talk to the Lord as he performs. When asked if he got into trouble on the tightrope what would he do, he said, “He would go to the rope as a point of safety.”  At one point he told his dad that he didn’t want to talk to anyone.  It was just him, His heavenly Father, and his earthly father. Our rope of safety as a Christian is in the Divine Hand of a Sovereign God.  When the winds of life knock us off balance, the Lord is there to steady us and to hold us.

Nic Wallenda’s feat reminds us all that the Christian walk is one step at a time.

 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Prayer on Mother's Day 2013

   Lord, Mother's day is one of my favorite Sundays.  Help me to recognize and preach with a tender heart as I minister to folks in different stations of life and relationships with their moms.  To the moms in attendance, I want to encourage them. To those whose moms  are living, I want to challenge them to take steps of communication. We have several who have recently lost their mothers.  Help me to love that person in a tender way tomorrow.  To the many who have buried their mothers  help me through Your power to rally that person to remember the special memories that each one has of their sweet mother. Help me not to pretend that I know how they feel.  I still have my mom.  To the mothers that have lost children,  help me preach with boldness from Scripture that heaven is real and that reunions will take place one day.
   Lord, thank you for my wonderful mom. While she is away tomorrow, her love and my gratitude will be forever tucked in my heart. This is the first time in my fifty one years that we are not together on Mother's Day, and I am grateful that death or illness is not the barrier that separates us tomorrow. I pray for those who will endure Mother's Day for the first time tomorrow without their mom here with them. I say endure because it must be so emotional for these folks.  Many will choose not to come to church because of this, but for those who do, give me a humble spirit as I preach .  Thank you for a wife who is a Christlike example of a godly mother. Thank you for a daughter in law who is raising with our son boys to love Jesus.
  Thank you Healer, that Renee and our family can celebrate Mother's Day with her mom once again.  We are grateful for Your touch on her body.   In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lord Help Me See Clearly

Anyone who has ever worn glasses or gotten a new prescription for a different pair knows what it is like to adjust to them. Many of us have come out of the optical store high stepping our way to the car.

This new pair of progressive lens actually has far, mid, and reading ranges.  It is amazing what a small tilt of the eye or head changes.  In our Christian lives this is a good application. Oh how we long to see God up close  in our lives working, but for some reason it seems a little out of focus, a bit cloudy.

Maybe I need to fix my eyes on His Word more and lock in to what He is saying and wanting for my life.  It is easy to look around and become a little disoriented by what the world is throwing at us, but when fixed on the Word of God, on the Lord Jesus, regardless of how tough life gets, there is a hope and Someone who will stick closer than a brother.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Our Gang?

Over the weekend we had our two grandsons Aiden (3) and Eli(1) nicknamed Wreck It Ralph. Over the course of our time together, Aiden and I decided to start a club.  It would be exclusive, we would hand pick who could be in it.  It would be named the "Pistol Pete Club" due to our, I mean my love of the great past Basketball star who is now in heaven, and that I refer to Aiden with this nickname.

I asked Aiden who could be the first one in our exclusive club, and he said "MEMAW"! I forgot to tell him it was a boys club, but Memaw superseded the by laws and jumped to the top of the of list.

Sometimes when I look at the church in America today, we act exclusive.  What I mean is that we act as if some folks can be part of us and others can't. Part of us indicating that we are somehow more important than actually being a Christian. As if the church is for exclusive people.
The Gospel is for you and me and the Bible reminds us that we are all sinners.

Romans 3:10-11
As it is written:"There is none righteous, no, not one;
11There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.   Christianity is exclusive in the fact that you come to God by faith in Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. For us to act as if there is another way is to not preach the Bible.

The good news, is that the offer of salvation is inclusive to all.
Romans 10:13 For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Like Aiden and our club, we don't choose who is saved and who is not, that is God's call as He sees and knows our hearts.

Let us continually ask the Lord to help us be salt and light, taking every opportunity to share the hope that is in the Lord Jesus.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Holy Land Blessing!

First View from the Mt. of Olives
I sit here today in Nashville reflecting on the recent trip that the church blessed me with to Israel. A trip of a lifetime to the Holy Land!  Over the past 20 years the church has blessed me with many things, but this trip may have been the greatest investment they have ever made.

It was so much more than I expected.You mean I expected something less? I based this assumption on it not being what I thought it would be based on reports from other people who have visited. You simply have to see it for your self to as the Bible comes alive in a new way that will never be forgotten either in my mind or sermon.

As it all impacted me, the Garden Tomb was where I was overwhelmed with great emotion as we read the Biblical account and shared communion as believers.

To walk where Jesus walked and to stand in the synagogue ruins where He taught, it has etched images in my mind that will forever change the way I preach. to walk down the rough steps to the dungeon where Jesus was beaten  was a memory that will never be forgotten.  A beating He took for me on the way to the cross, our Hope.

The lifelong friendships with preachers like Scott Smith, Johnny Ellison, and Eric Trawick are treasures that the Lord blesseed me with along the way.  We had a great group, the Light Blue Bus, and the best guide, Shraga.

Thanks Church for blessing your Pastor, I hope to be worthy of this great investment.