Tuesday, July 31, 2007


As many of you know, my family just got back from a great beach vacation. It was nice to get away and just spend time with my wife and kids for a week. The kids were great fun and watching them play on the beach and at the pool at their ages was a real treat.

We did many of the same things we always do at the beach. We swam, built sand castles, ate out, and wandered around at Broadway at the Beach. However, I did get to do one thing that I will never forget.

My 5 year old wanted to go fishing. Now, I don’t mean he wanted to go down to the shore and throw a line in, he wanted to go out into the ocean. I finally found a reasonably priced excursion and on Thursday morning we headed out before the roosters got up, for a half-day fishing trip.

We went out on a boat with about 20 other people to fish for snapper, sea bass, flounder and others. The captain took us about 15 miles out to sea. Needless to say, my son was very excited. After about an hour ride out into the ocean, we finally put out lines in the water to fish.

I baited the hooks countless times, and we only brought in very small fish. Others on the boat were bringing in good size sea bass and the like. I could tell my son was beginning to get frustrated, so I suggested we take a short break. We ate some crackers and just looked out over the ocean for a few minutes and enjoyed the father/son time.

I recommended that we throw the lines out again and he reluctantly agreed. After about three times with no bites, he wanted to give up. I convinced him to keep trying, because this is why we had come. He continued trying.

Some time passed, and we were about 30 minutes from heading back in when I saw his line take off. He began to reel the line in, but the fish was fighting. I helped him bring the fish in and by this time we had the attention of the entire boat. What we pulled in was about a 2.5 foot long shark.

My son could hardly contain himself as we pulled the shark in the boat and the captain told him it was a keeper. There just happened to be a contest for the heaviest fish and my son won with his shark. He won a trophy and some money, which he later spent at the Bass Pro Shop on the way home.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He spent some time with the disciples. On one of these days, Peter decided to go fishing. Some of the others who were fishermen decided to go also. They were not having much luck, when Jesus called to them, asking if they were catching anything. They just simply said “No”.

Jesus then told a bunch of fishermen, who knew the lake well that they were fishing in, to fish on the other side of the boat. When they did, they couldn’t bring in the fish because of the weight.

How many times do we give up too quickly because things that we can see with our eyes don’t seem to be working? How many blessings of God do we miss because we are fishing on the “wrong side of the boat”? What is the work we need to be doing in our churches and community that we simply do not do because we have tried to accomplish it every way WE know how, to no avail? Who does God want us to share the gospel with, but we offer up excuse after excuse, because we feel inadequate?

God wants your nets to be full, and your work for Him to be fruitful. But, we need to be listening to His voice in order to receive our instructions on how to reap His harvest. The 5,000+ people would not have been fed that day if they had only tried to use the visible resources available. Don’t make the mistake of putting God in a box and limiting Him in His work by the standards of this world. Give your all to God and watch what He can do with it.

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. (Matthew 14:19-20)

Monday, July 30, 2007

God's Protection

I do not know if the following story is true or not. I do know, however, that Jesus taught many of His best lessons through parables that were understood to be fabricated stories that illustrated His point or taught a lesson. Never underestimate God. Remember that a football in my hand is worth about $10. In Peyton Manning’s hand it’s worth millions. My life with me in control is worth some, but in God’s hands the impossible is not only possible, it’s probable. With that understood, please take this story as the parable it is intended to be.

During World War II, a US Marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific Island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.
As he waited, he prayed, "Lord, if it be Your will, please protect me. Whatever Your will though, I love You and trust You. Amen."

After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, "Well, I guess the Lord isn't going to help me out of this one." Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave.

As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.

"Hah, he thought. What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor."

As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while.

"Lord, forgive me," prayed the young man. "I had forgotten that in You a spider's web is stronger than a brick wall."

We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget how God can work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways. And remember with God, a mere spider's web becomes a brick wall of protection.

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah
For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations. He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!
So I will sing praise to Your name
That I may daily perform my vows.
Psalm 61 NKJV

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Eye for an Eye

But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:23-24 NKJV)

Have you ever wanted revenge for some wrong done to you or to a loved one? Maybe it doesn’t even have to be someone close to you. I can get very angry with people I don’t even know, or will ever meet, just watching the news.

For example, there was a story in the news this week about a couple who almost let their children starve to death because they were playing “Dungeons and Dragons” online. Stories like that are why I choose to not watch the news most of the time. My heart can’t take that kind of beating.

The Old Testament, as we see above, teaches that revenge is justifiable, as long as it is equal to the offence. An eye for an eye is a very common saying in our world today, even though Jesus made it very clear that He was the catalyst for changing that teaching.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48 NKJV)

Perhaps we could all learn a lesson from the folks who were having a dinner party in Washington back in June. It started about midnight on June 16 when a group of friends was finishing a dinner of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp on the back patio of a District of Columbia home. That's when a hooded man slid through an open gate and pointed a handgun at the head of a 14-year-old girl. He demanded money from all of them and indicated that he would start shooting if they did not comply. One of the guests spoke up and said "We were just finishing dinner, why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The man then released the girl, took a glass of wine, commented on how good it was and asked for some cheese. He was given some cheese, a crystal glass, the remaining bottle of wine. As he was leaving, he apologized for the intrusion, told them that he must have held up the wrong house, and asked for a hug. He then got a group hug from all five guests and he left.

Jesus told us to love our enemies. He taught us that the only way the world knows how different we are as followers of Christ, is how we treat others. Even the worst people love those who love them. We must love those who have wronged us, hurt us, taken advantage of us, and even betrayed us.

Not only does Jesus say to love them, but He also says for us to go out of our way to be kind to them. Just giving lip service to the issue and saying that you forgive and love them isn’t enough. We must put that love into action and be kind to them.

The people at the dinner party did not claim to be Christians, but they took a chance on this principle and it worked. Why not give God a chance in your life to show you His power? If you really truly turn your life over to Him, He can do more with it than you could in ten lifetimes.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 NKJV)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Weatherman

In case you haven’t noticed in the last couple of weeks, it’s pretty hot outside. I don’t mean just a little warmer than usual. I mean it’s HOT! In fact it’s so hot outside that I saw something this weekend that I have never seen before. I actually saw a cat lying in the grass panting like a dog. I had no idea that cats panted, but there she was with her tongue hanging out just like my Golden Retriever.

I follow the weather pretty well. I am fascinated by weather forecasters and all of the technology that goes into predicting the weather. I can sit and watch The Weather Channel for hours if my wife would let me.

I am still confused about the whole “percentage” thing in weather prediction though. How does a meteorologist decide on what the percentage of rain is each day? The summer is easy for them. The typical summer forecast goes something like, “Highs today in the mid 90s with a 30% chance of scattered (or isolated) thundershowers in the afternoon”. (What exactly is the difference between scattered and isolated anyway?)

I am of a different mindset. Because I am not a gambling man, and because I never understood the laws of probability, I really think they have it all wrong. I maintain that on any given day the chance of rain, snow, sleet, hurricane or any other weather event, for that matter, is 50/50. It will either rain or it won’t. There you have it, the Stacy Williams fail-proof weather predictor. It will work for you in any season, any time. The next time someone asks you what the weather is going to be, just say “Well, it is either going to rain or it isn’t.”

Predicting weather is nothing new. It is even found in the Bible. Jesus talks about the sings that we read in the skies to predict weather.
Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. (Luke 12:54-55)
He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ (Matthew 16:2-3a)

Jesus, however, wasn’t giving the people a lesson in weather prediction. He was instructing them on reading the signs of the times. In the Luke passage above, He was speaking to the multitudes who came to hear Him preach. They were so anxious to hear Him that they were trampling over each other. Jesus knew though that not all of them were there for pure reasons. Many were there out of curiosity or to see if He was for real. In the rest of the passage He calls them hypocrites because they are able to read the signs of the weather, but cannot see the sings of who He really is.

It is interesting to note that the two times Jesus refers to the weather He uses two different examples of reading the signs of the skies, but He also refers to His audience in both passages as hypocrites. In the Luke passage He is speaking to the crowds. In the Matthew passage He is speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees.

We like to read the Bible and pretend that we are better than the Pharisees and Sadducees, but we are not. When we encounter Jesus, preaching the coming of the end of time, do we really believe it? If we really truly believed that the signs we see all around us were pointing to Christ’s return wouldn’t we want to be doing something about it? Wouldn’t we be in a rush like the week before Christmas to make sure all of our friends and family know the one who dies for us? My prayer is that you will experience Christ in such an unmistakable way that you cannot help but tell others about Him.

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
(Matthew 25:1-13 NKJV)