Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Not My Job

As many of you know, I was a banker before I entered the ministry. I once had an employee who was especially challenging. He was good at his job. He worked well with the other employees. He was punctual. In fact, on the surface he seemed to be the model employee. However, it didn’t take long for his true colors to show.

As I stated he was good at his job. He performed his job description well, but it ended there. If he was asked to do anything outside of his job description he was quick to tell me that it wasn’t his job. He simply refused to do anything besides what was in his employment contract. At times I wanted to fire him, but I couldn’t. His production was good and he was doing well in all the areas where we measured his performance.

I think the driver of a bus in Texas, last week, must have had the same attitude. This driver was taking a group of prisoners from the state prison in Huntsville, Texas to Dallas. However, the prisoners were dropped off in front of a convenience store about sixty miles outside of Dallas. She said her hours for the day were over.

Police said the bus was chartered from Greyhound Bus Lines Inc. The driver pulled over in front of a convenience store around 4 p.m. and told the passengers her allotted driving time was up and another driver was on the way.

A clerk in the convenience store called the police. Officers arrived to find the prisoners milling around the bus. Dispatchers exchanged several phone calls with Greyhound and prison officials while two officers stayed with the bus and the passengers until another bus could arrive.

Do you know any people like that? Do you know any Christians like that? Do you know any church members like that? Are you, perhaps, one of them?

What makes us think that in our walk with Christ we can just get by with the minimum? Yes, we are saved by grace. Yes, our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. Yes, we can never be taken from His hand once we accept Him and truly believe. Unfortunately for some of us, it doesn’t end there.

We are not brought into God’s family and then expected to just bask in the knowledge that we are children of the King. We are also given tasks. We have a commission from our Father to go out to the world and bring others in. He wants us to go above and beyond just being His children. He wants us to also be ambassadors for Him.

Can we just accept Christ, do nothing else and still go to Heaven? Yes, but God wants and expects more from us. He wants us to put action behind our faith in Him. What good is good news if you can’t share it with anyone? It’s like the preacher who called in sick from church to play golf. He sneaked out to a golf course in another county, and played the best round of his life. He even got a hole-in-one on #18. In Heaven, Peter asked God why He allowed the pastor to have such a great game since he had lied to his congregation. Peter thought he should have been punished. God said “I am punishing him. Who’s he going to brag to about his great game today?”

We have the greatest gift inside of us. We need to share it, not hoard it. I challenge you to ask God to engineer circumstances so you will have opportunities to share Christ with others.

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. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:14-19)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Penguin Pondering

What do you picture when you think of a penguin? If you are like me, you think of a bird that waddles a bit, swims very well, lives in cold weather, and is dressed in a tuxedo. OK, granted, I didn’t do well in biology or geography, but I think most people have the same basic ideas about penguins.

I knew that some of them look different from others, but I never really realized how many different species there are until my six year-old became interested in them. He quizzes me about them, just to reinforce how much he knows and how much I do not.

Just last week, when we were in the car, he asked my wife and me if we knew what type of penguin could do a certain thing. We both responded in the negative. He informed us that a Rockhopper penguin was the type that could do what he asked about. I asked him if he made that up. I had never heard of a Rockhopper penguin. Of course, I went right home and got on the internet. Sure enough, the Rockhopper penguin really does exist. (Yes, that is a picture of a Rockhopper on the right). In fact, there are sixteen different species of penguin. Who knew!

That’s just scratching the surface in the animal kingdom. It is estimated that there are up to 100 million different species of animals living in the world today. That’s pretty diverse.

Interestingly enough, those numbers do not include humans. The world population right now is estimated to be about 6.7 billion people. Do you know how many different types of humans there are? About 6.7 billion. How many humans are exactly alike? None.

In the entire world, there is nobody just like you. There may be someone out there who looks like you, but get down to the genetic makeup, and they will be much different. Even twins have major differences that can distinguish them. Just ask a parent of twins and they can tell you quickly how different their children are from one another.

God made you to be you. You have gifts, talents, interests, skills, and physical abilities that nobody else has. God designed you just the way you are. You are hard-wired to accomplish certain things within the Kingdom of God.

Since I am a pastor, there are some people that I may reach for Christ due to what I do for a living. However, there are people who will never enter a church door, who also need Jesus. God hand-picked you and wired you to be the perfect one to reach someone like that.

Instead of wishing you could sing, speak in public, run marathons, play in the NFL, act, dance, make good grades, or whatever it is you may be envious about, embrace who you are in the Kingdom, and ask God to show you what your role is in it. If God’s Kingdom was full of preachers, what would that be like? If everyone was athletic or smart, would the Kingdom be better off? No. God needs us all; just the way He made us.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-19; 27 NIV)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Praying for Bob

This is one of my favorite cartoons!!!

What do you leave behind?

With my schedule and two small children, I don’t get to watch a lot of television. As a result, I only have a few shows that I truly enjoy. I’ll watch football most any time, I like Deal or No Deal, and I love CSI.

CSI is one of the top rated shows on television. With sister shows like CSI Miami, Las Vegas, and New York, it may live forever in syndication when the new episodes are long gone. The show is all about investigators who use science to solve crimes. It focuses on the evidence found at the crime scene. One of the ideas you gather from the show is that there is always evidence left behind. They may be able to deduce where the perpetrator lives based on a soil sample from dirt left behind from his shoe.

As modern as this may seem, it is not a new concept. In 1910, Frenchman Edmund Locard founded a small police laboratory in Lyons, France, dedicated to forensic science. Locard was the first to put forward the theory that a criminal almost always leaves behind a physical clue at the scene of a crime­: a fiber, a fingerprint, a bullet, all of which are vital pointers to the criminal's identity. Locard was the Sherlock Holmes of France. Locard founded a theory that is the foundation for CSI today. Locard’s Exchange Principle states “with contact between two items, there will be an exchange.” In other words, you always leave something and take something whenever you encounter any setting.

This is true of people also. This is generally thought of as an impression. I knew a woman in Greenville, SC who was a wonderful person. She was helpful, fun, and enjoyable to be around. She also had bad breath. I don’t mean she just needed to brush, I mean all the Crest and Listerine you could find wouldn’t help. So as a result, I tried to avoid any conversation with her that required me being closer than 10 feet away.

So what do you leave behind? Each time you encounter someone, you leave an impression. I was talking with someone who was thinking of joining our church about a year or more ago. This person said they knew some of our members, but also said that some of them had left a bad impression because of their foul language. I’m sure whomever the person was speaking of had no idea that his choice of colorful language would one day have an effect on someone who might be attending church here, but it did. That was the impression left behind.

Jonah was running from God. He did not want to preach to the people of Nineveh even though God instructed him to do just that. He thought God should wipe them from the planet, so he chartered a boat and headed for another country. It didn’t take long for the crew of the ship to realize something was wrong. A storm arose, and was just before killing them all, when Jonah finally admitted to running from God. He told them to throw him overboard and they would be safe. When they did, the seas and winds calmed.

Here’s the point. Jonah 1:16 says, “At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.” Jonah had unwittingly left a witness behind. They realized the power of God when they saw the results of Jonah’s reluctance to follow Him. From this they were all saved.

So what do you leave behind? Do you leave Christ and His love with those you meet day to day or is that reserved for Sunday morning? Do you leave the forgiveness and mercy that Jesus has shown you to others or is that only given to those who forgive you? Let Christ show through in your life and you will never leave a bad impression.

You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 The Message)

Friday, February 1, 2008


I was not prepared for the comments I have received due to my post on "Preferences". Folks, please read the post again without inserting your bias. I am not saying that we should only use contemporary music to worship God. That is not the point.

In fact the point I was trying to make in this post, has been unwittingly reinforced by those who thought they were making negative comments about it. My point is this. Why do we have such "lightning rods" in the church today? We spend waaaayyyy too much time discussing whether to sing Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosy, or Chris Tomlin in church, and waaaayyyy too little discussing how to reach the lost.

Paul believd in reaching a lost world for Christ in any way he could. I think we should do the same.

16For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. 19For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. (1 Corinthians 9:16-23 KJV)