Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Will Not Serve

This past Sunday in worship, I began a series titled, In His Image. In this series, we are exploring the qualities a Christian should have since we are all made in His image. The first area we covered concerned our attitude. Without a good attitude, we cannot serve God in the way He wants. He wants us to serve out of love, not duty and obligation.

Next Sunday, February 3, we will discuss commitment. For some reason, some of us think we can choose to be a Christian and do what God wants us to do, then bail out whenever we are ready. God, however, has plans for us to be there for the long haul.

We sign on many times and get the title of “Christian” without really ever meaning to truly serve. We just want some kind of “backstage pass” that gets us into heaven. We really don’t want to have to “do” anything here in this world. We just want to know what the minimum responsibility is, so we can meet it.

Perhaps you read the story last week about Ed Hamilton of San Antonio, Texas. He is running for County Treasurer in Kerr County. He is a Republican, challenging the incumbent republican Mindy Williams. He just might win too. His slogan is, “Elect me and I won’t serve”.

He said the job is redundant and costing the county money it doesn't need to spend. The duties should be assigned to another county office, Hamilton said.

"I don't plan to do the job," he said. "I won't accept a paycheck."

Hamilton said if elected, he would hand the duties to someone else and petition state officials for a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would allow any county to eliminate the treasurer position if it chooses.

Mindy Williams, who was appointed last spring to the $46,000-a-year post, said the job shouldn't be eliminated. It provides accountability on the county's spending, a check and balance that is "essential to county government." Hamilton says "check and balance" is "a euphemism for duplication of effort."

I’m not sure who’s right in this, but I do know that Mr. Hamilton’s slogan is much like ours when it comes to serving God. Oh, we don’t really say out loud “God, if you’ll cleanse me from my sins, I promise to never serve you.” However, our actions say it clearly.

When was the last time you stepped up and volunteered to teach a class, lead a Bible study, host a youth or senior fellowship, sing in the choir, or just visit and pray with someone who needed a lift? Have you ever prayed for God to show you more ways to be an effective tool for His plans or do you play left field hoping you can get by without the ball being hit your way?

I challenge everyone reading this to begin praying for God to reveal an area where He wants you to work for Him. Be ready though. When you ask, I assure you, He will answer.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blue Monday???

Blue Monday, how I hate Blue Monday, got to work like a slave all day.
Fats Domino

British psychologist Cliff Arnall has designated January 21, 2008 as Blue Monday – the most miserable day of the year. Arnall used a mathematical equation to determine that January 21 is the gloomiest and most depressing day of the year.
His equation takes into account six factors:
  • bad weather
  • unpaid Christmas bills
  • post-Christmas fatigue
  • failed New Year’s resolutions
  • low motivation levels
  • the feeling of a need to take action

Taken together, they calculate to equal "Blue Monday.""The truth is a lot of people feel down at this time and a lot of people have depression as well, particularly men, and they don't want to talk about it," Arnall said.

While we all get in an emotional slump from time to time, for the Christian it should only be a short walk through the valley. When we are experiencing a down or “blue” time it is usually due to focusing on what we are lacking or haven’t done correctly instead of considering what blessings we have in our lives. I am not talking about clinical depression, which is a result of some chemical imbalance in some people’s genetic makeup. I am simply talking about the times when we allow circumstances to bring us to an emotional breakdown.

Just in case you need a reminder of just how blessed you are, consider the following:
  • If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are richer than 75% of this world.
  • If you have money in the bank and in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthiest.
  • If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ... you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
  • If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
  • If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death ... you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
  • If you can read this blog, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

I am going to make a statement that might make a few uncomfortable, but as a pastor I feel it needs to be said. To allow the minor things of this world to eclipse the great blessings God has given us is sinful, and we need to ask our Father to forgive us for forgetting His goodness. In your prayers, ask God to remind you how rich you are in Him. After all, we are children of the King of all creation and no matter how bad things get in our lives; we have the promise of a perfect eternity with Him.

Count your blessings Name them one by one Count your blessings See what God has done
Johnson Oatman Jr.

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:31

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


One balmy day in the South Pacific, a navy ship spied smoke coming from one of three huts on an uncharted island. Upon arriving at the shore, they were met by a shipwreck survivor. He said, "I'm so glad you're here! I've been alone on this island for more than five years!"
The captain replied, "If you're all alone on the island why do I see three huts."
The survivor said, "Oh. Well, I live in one, and go to church in another."
"What about the third hut?" asked the captain.
"That's where I USED TO go to church."

Aren’t we that petty about church sometimes? We somehow, along the way, got the idea that church is supposed to be just what we want, and we assume everyone else thinks and worships like us. If we experience God in a quiet reserved way, we do not understand why others could possibly find Jesus amongst electric guitars and a full set of drums.

I believe I am one of the fortunate people who has had a well rounded experience in worship settings. I have been able to find God in the tradition, awe and reverence of a Roman Catholic cathedral during Easter Mass. I have experienced the Holy Spirit in a small, wood-framed Pentecostal Holiness church in the mountains of North Carolina, where all fifteen people there were worshiping God with all their hearts. I have felt the power of the Almighty at a church in Anderson, SC where the music is very rock, and the preaching by the pastor is very “in-your-face”, “matter of fact”, and filled with a passion for the unsaved and unchurched.

My point is, no matter where you are, or what the worship experience is like, we all have personal preferences. Does every style of worship speak to every type of person? No. However, the message needs to be the same.

Let me put it this way. There is an ad that I see regularly on the inside cover of Biblical Archaeology Review magazine. It shows a photo of a young man on a farm with a box of computer software under his arm. The software is RosettaStone, a language learning program. The ad copy reads “He was a hardworking farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her.” They, of course, go on to suggest that with their language program he could learn her language and have a chance at love.

To the outside world, we are like the farm boy. We speak a different language sometimes. The words “saved”, “lost”, “grace”, and “sin” have very different connotations to others. If we are going to have a chance to tell them about Jesus, we are going to have to learn their language or at least make an attempt to communicate in a way they understand.

The world is like the Italian supermodel. They have no reason to slow down enough to speak to us unless we give them a reason. I was talking with a friend a few days ago who attends Newspring Church, that I mentioned earlier. He said last Sunday he looked around at the people and guessed that there were probably at least a thousand out of the several thousand in attendance, who would not be hearing about Christ if it wasn’t for the way they worship.

We are in a period of transition at First Baptist. We have started a new contemporary service with good response, we are searching for an associate pastor of music and worship, our youth are creating a place for themselves to meet and have fun, our preschool is thriving and expands more each year, and those are only a few examples of areas where there is change and growth. There are many more where God is moving and wants to show us what He can do. However, if we let our pettiness and personal preferences get in the way of seeing God and His plan for our church and our lives then we will miss out on His blessings every time.

Let’s embrace what God has in front of us, and use the tools He has given us to reach those who need Him the most.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Acts 2:1-6

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sitting on the tracks

They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not, I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:13-25

In this passage we read about Jesus healing a blind man. After he was healed, some who wanted to discredit Jesus took the formerly blind man to the Pharisees to tattle on Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. As the Pharisees questioned the man, they continued to try to get him to admit that Jesus was a sinner. His response is wonderful. “Whether He is a sinner or not, I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

In other words, he really didn’t want to get into the political or religious issues the Pharisees were trying to stir up. He only knew what Jesus had done for him. Isn’t it interesting how Jesus was able to heal the man who was physically blind, but the spiritually blind simply refuse to be healed?

I read a story several months ago about a man who was killed by a train in Baltimore, Maryland. While we hear of people dying in train crashes from time to time, this one was unusual because the man was sitting in a lawnchair on the tracks. No, he wasn’t committing suicide, he just simply had no idea he was on railroad tracks. He was visiting his brother who was homeless and had a campsite near the tracks. The conductor said he spotted the man but was unable to stop the train in time to avoid him. The conductor also said that it seemed the man had no idea there was a train coming.

We are very much like this man who did not see or hear the train coming. We sit in our comfortable lawn chairs without a care in the world. All the while, the consequences of our sin and disobedience are speeding toward us with the intent to destroy our lives. We sit blindly thinking we have control over our lives, families, jobs, money, health, and relationship with God, but in reality, the wages of our sin will find us sooner or later.

How can we avoid this train wreck? We can ask God to cleanse us and help us to turn from our destructive behavior that blinds us to the truth. If we seek Him, He says in His word that He will hear our prayer and rescue us. What a wonderful promise from Almighty God! Give Him your life and get off the tracks!!

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see
John Newton
You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked
Revelation 3:18

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ink Pen drawing

This picture was done with one pen stroke. It starts on tip of the nose and ends on the bottom. Check out the copyright date.