On Wings Of Eagles

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lesson From a Single Nail.

1 Timothy 4:14-16 (N I V)
14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

As the story goes, they built a new church building and people came from far and wide to see it. They admired its beauty! Up on the roof, a little nail heard the people praising everything about the love structure-except the nail! No one even knew he was there, and he became angry and jealous.

"If I am that insignificant, nobody will miss me if I quit! "

So the nail then released its hold, slid down the roof, and fell in the mud.

That night it rained and rained. Soon, the shingle that had no nail blew away, and the roof began to leak. The water streaked the walls and the beautiful murals. The plaster began to fall, the carpet was stained, and the pulpit Bible was ruined by water. All this because a little nail decided to quit!

But what of the nail? While holding the shingle, it was obscure but it was also useful. Buried in the mud it was just as obscure, but now it was useless and would soon be eaten up by rust!


You may, like the nail, feel obscure at times, but just like the nail, your absence is felt. When you are not present for worship, in some way the body of Christ hurts.

We are ALL a part of the Lord's ministry.

Dear Lord we pray today that when we feel insignificant help us remember that You want to use us just the way You made us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are you Rooted in Christ?

Ephesians 3:17-18 (New International Version)
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

The Inside Passage of Alaska has the highest annual rainfall averages in the country. Ketchikan, for example, receives 150 inches of precipitation annually, close to three times Juneau's total, and ten times of what Anchorage receives. But no town gets more rain than Little Port Walter with averages of 220 inches! Rubber boots seems to be the most popular shoe, and they are worn so frequently that they're called "Alaska tennis shoes" and "Sitka slippers".

Snowfall isn't any better, ranging from 36.9 inches in Ketchikan to 122.6 inches in Haines. Someone in Juneau told me they got up to 150 mile an hour winds in the winter. The Internet only recorded winds up to 41 miles per hour, however this is still significant!

Let's imagine for a moment that you are a tree. (I could think of far worse comparisons!) The soil in most coastal areas is only two to six inches deep. Not much for even ideal climates, but combine this with heavy precipitation and strong winds, and one can only wonder how trees can survive in such hostile environments.

It is true that some fall down, especially in the wintertime, but many remain standing tall, facing the inclement weather with confidence. What is the secret to their success? Their root systems are intertwined with one another. The more roots a tree has that are intertwined with other trees, the more the tree can resist the challenges of the weather. The weather does not phase them because there is confidence and strength in unity.

The same is true for us. If we face hostilities on our own, these turbulences will eventually tear us down. Only by being intertwined by faith with our families and friends, with fellow believers, and especially with our Forever Friend, can we stand tall and face the storms of our life. We can't make it on our own!

May we learn to depend more and more on Jesus and on our fellow believers so that we can face the challenges of life with a smile. The storms of life are learning opportunities! Instead of bringing us down, they can lift us higher and higher in our dependence upon the One who can calm turbulent waters!

Dear Lord we pray that we would allow ourselves to be rooted in You, so that when the troubles of live come we can stand strong. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

We are Jesus' Hands

1 Corinthians 12:27 (New International Version)
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

During World War II, a church building in Strasbourg was destroyed. After the bombing, the members surveyed the area to see what damage was done. They were pleased that a statue of Christ with outstretched hands was still standing. It had been sculpted centuries before by a great artist.

Taking a closer look, the people discovered both hands of Christ had been sheered off by a falling beam. Later, a sculptor in the town offered to replace the broken hands as a gift to the church. The church leaders met to consider the offer and decided not to accept it. They felt the statue without hands would be a great illustration that God's work is done through his people.

Truly, in the church, we are the "hands of Christ". If Christ is to minister to the poor, it must be through our hands. If he is to take care of the sick, it must be through our hands. If he is to reach out to those who are lonely, it must be through our hands.

See something around you that Christ needs to take care of today? He has no hands........but your hands!

Dear Lord we thank You that we are Your hands. We pray that we would use them to help show Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Doing to Others.

Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. People were filling the church to its fullest capacity! As they entered, each were given a bulletin filled with announcements, topic of today's sermon, what songs they would sing and who to pray for. At the end of the line stood an older man. His clothes were filthy and you could tell that he had not bathed in days. His face was covered in whiskers where he had not shaved for a very long time.

When he reached the usher, he removed his tattered old brown hat in respect. His hair was a long, dirty, tangled mess.

He had no shoes on his feet, and wore only soiled, black socks. The usher put his fingers to his nose and glared at the old man and said, "Uh, I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid we can't let you in. You will distract the congregation and we don't allow anyone to disrupt our service. I'm afraid you'll have to leave."

The old man looked down at himself and with a puzzled look on his face, he placed his old brown hat back upon his head and turned to leave. He was sad as he loved to hear the choir sing praises to the Lord. He loved to watch the little children get up in front of the church to sing their little songs. He carried in his pocket a small worn out Bible and loved to see if the minister preached a passage from the Bible that the old man had underlined. He was respectful enough and didn't want to cause any commotion, so he hung down his head and walked back down the steps of the big brick church.

He sat down on the brick wall near the edge of the church yard and strained to listen through closed doors and windows to the singing going on in the church. Oh how he wished he could be inside with all the others.

A few minutes had passed by when all of a sudden a younger man came up behind him and sat down near him. He asked the old man what he was doing.

He answered, "I was going to go to church today, but they thought I was filthy and my clothes are old and worn, and they were afraid I would disrupt their service. Sorry, I didn't introduce myself. My name is George."

The two gentlemen shook hands and George couldn't help but notice that this man had long hair like his. He wore a piece of cloth draped over his body tied with a royal purple sash. He had sandals upon his feet, now covered with dust and dirt.

The stranger reached out to touch George's shoulder and said, "Hello, George, don't feel bad because they won't let you in. My name is Jesus, and I've been trying to get into this same church for years, and they won't let me in either."

Dear Lord we pray that we wouldn’t look down on others because of what they look like. We pray that we would like at those around us as somebody that needs You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Good-to-See-You" Sunday Morning.

Matthew 11:28-30 (New International Version)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It's another "good-to-see-you" Sunday morning. A few more handshakes and I'll make it to my pew. "Doing great," I answer, a smile spreading quickly across my face. Lord, I hope these eyes don't give my thoughts away.

A kind word to the preacher, a hug to an elderly lady and I arrive at my familiar spot. I'm sure glad those visitors aren't in my seat again this week. Well, just look at that song leader, he wore that tie last week. Please Lord, not that same old hymn again. As I routinely move my lips to another favorite, I'm surprised to see a new couple walk the aisle and stand across from me. I hope someone welcomes them here today.

The man who grips the gospel gun stands behind the pulpit ready to fire away. It's time again. Only forty more minutes to go. "Let's pray," he says.

"Turn in your Bibles to..." My thoughts drift away. Where will I go this time? The deer woods? No, that was last Sunday. What's for dinner today? Hey, there's a bit football game tonight, I wonder who will win... I lose myself to one more day's indifference. The clouds start rolling in again as a fog covers my mind. Lord, if that baby doesn't stop crying...

Point number two, we're moving right along. I do wish those teenagers would stop giggling, though. They are going to distract someone. I've said it a thousand times before, if you're mind isn't on the message, God won't speak to you. A chorus of "Amens" break my concentration. "Preach it, brother!" I unknowingly say aloud. I like to be involved, you know.

It's five 'til twelve, he better start winding it up. Well, look who's in church today. It's about time she got back in church. I just hope it's not too late. "We're going to have a hymn of invitation," the preacher says. "Praise the Lord," I mumble softly. We bow our heads. "Let's pray," the preacher says again.

Well, I guess I'd better pray too. "Dear Lord, Mrs. So- and-So needs to repent. Show her the error of her ways. Help that preacher to start getting us out on time. Lord, thank you that I'm not like the rest. Amen."

That wasn't so bad. Wait a minute, why is everyone crying? Where are all of those people headed? What's happening here? "The Spirit is really moving this morning," the preacher announces. "Won't you come?"

I bow my head, ashamed I'm feeling nothing. I'm here, but my heart's a thousand miles away. I search my heart for signs of something that's long gone. "God is calling someone this morning to get their relationship right with him," the preacher continues. "Won't you come right now?" Is he talking about me? Should I go down there?

What will everyone think? Oh, I feel so empty. I need to go down there. I know something is missing. Something isn't right. Ok, I'll go...no, no, no. I'll wait until next week. Oh, no. Not another verse. Why is he dragging this out? Hurry up. I'm getting hungry. It's past time to go. "Invitation time is over. I hope you did what the Lord told you to do," he finally says. "Let's pray."

A few more handshakes and I'll make it to the door. "Have a nice day," I exchange pleasantries with a few people. Don't forget, Lord, send someone to welcome that new couple, I think silently.

"Good service, preacher. I really enjoyed the message. I can't wait until next week," I say with a smile on my face.

Praise the Lord, I'm walking out the door.

Christian, does what you have just read sound familiar? Does this article that I wrote about myself many years ago ring a bell? Maybe not all of it, but some of it?

What about it, friend? Are you headed for another "good-to-see-you" Sunday morning?

You can have your joy restored, you know. You can get your peace back. All you need to do is go before the Lord and ask Him to reach out and touch your heart.

Dear Lord we pray that our joy will be restored.  We pray that we always have the peace that You can bring. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jesus is Our Cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:19-21 (New International Version)
 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

Back in the days when the Old West was being settled, there were a lot of pioneers who made their way over the Oregon trail. When they got to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, they found a stream a little too wide to cross in one step. So they "two-stepped" across by using an ugly lump sticking up out of the water in the middle of the stream.

As the years passed, other pioneers settled in that area, built their cabins, strung fences and plowed the fields. One man built his cabin near that same stream. But he had a problem -- his door flapped in the wind. To solve his problem, he found a heavy lump in the middle of the stream. So he carried it to his front step and it became a door stop.

More years passed. Railroads were built across the nation, more people pushed west and modern cities sprang up. A nephew of the old pioneer went east to study geology at a large university. He returned home during vacation. Lo and behold, on the front porch of his uncle's cabin by the stream, he found not just an ugly lump, and not just a heavy lump, but a lump of pure gold, the largest gold nugget ever discovered on the eastern slopes of the Rockies!

It had been there for three generations, but everybody saw it in a different light, some as an ugly lump, some as a heavy lump, but only the nephew saw it for what it really was -- a lump of gold. The same thing is true of Jesus. The same Jesus whom others have seen as a stumbling rock was actually a very precious stone -- the chief cornerstone.

The cornerstone was the major structural part of ancient buildings. It had to be strong enough to support what was built upon it, and it had to be precisely laid, because every other part of the structure was oriented to it. The cornerstone was the support, the orienter, and the unifier of the entire building. That is what Jesus Christ is to God's building, the church. The whole building ties together because of the cornerstone.

Dear Lord we thank You for being the cornerstone of the church. We thank You for being the chief cornerstone. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Are You Part of the Building Crew or to the Wrecking Crew?

Ephesians 4:29 (New International Version)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

10 Little Christians standing in line

1 disliked the preacher, then there were 9

9 little Christians stayed up very late

1 overslept Sunday, then there were 8

8 little Christians on their way to Heaven

1 took the low road and then there were 7

7 little Christians chirping like chicks

1 disliked music, then there were 6

6 little Christians seemed very much alive

but one lost his interest then there was 5

5 little Christians pulling for Heaven's Shore

but one stopped to rest , then there were 4

4 little Christians each busy as a bee

1 got his feelings hurt, then there were 3

3 little Christians knew not what to do

1 joined the sporty crowd, then there were 2

2 little Christians, our rhyme is nearly done

differed with each other, then there was 1

1 little Christian can't do much 'tis true

brought his friend to bible study- - then there were 2

2 earnest Christians, each won one more

That doubled the number, then there were 4

4 sincere Christians worked early and late

Each won another then there were 8

8 splendid Christians if they doubled as before

In just so many Sundays, we'd have 1,024

In this little jingle, there is a lesson true,

you belong either to the building or to the wrecking crew!

Dear Lord we pray that we would be on the building crew and not the wrecking crew. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lessons from the Wheat.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (New International Version) 
 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The wheat is still in the field. They are still young sprouts.... "Hey friend!" says one stalk to a "new" neighbor. "Where did you come from?"

The "new" neighbor looked at the stalk with a rough, gloating glare. "I was put here a while back by my farmer. He wanted me and some of my friends who are here also, to help you guys grow right!"

"Oh?" said the wheat stalk. "Just how are you supposed to do that?" he then asked. "Well," said the stranger, "If you will let me, and if your farmer will allow it, I can help you to see things that would be unknown to you other wise. I can teach you things of great value to you, for growing strong and healthy. Actually, they are things your farmer would not tell you, because he does not want you to really get as good as you could."

"Well, that is strange?" said the wheat. "The farmer told us he has a special purpose for us. Why would he not tell us about you? I am just going to have to ask him myself. This is strange?"

"NO...." said the stranger. "Don't ask him. He will not be honest with you any way. Just do what I tell you, and you can surprise him with your growth and strength!"

"Well, I don't know," said the wheat. "Let me think on this a bit!"

The wheat thought and thought. He found it strange that his farmer did not tell him these things. He decided to ask the farmer next time he was out in the field. A few days later, his other neighbor, another wheat stalk was enjoying the sun, and just talking up a storm. "Boy, am I glad I listened when farmer told us about these "tares" who moved in next door to us!" he said. "I am not prejudiced or that, but these guys have some real strange ideas of right and wrong! Hey Jim, what was it farmer called them? "Weeds?"

"Yeah, weeds," said his friend.

"I heard farmer say his enemy planted them in the night to try to mess us up!" said Jim the wheat stalk. "He said the only reason he did not pull them up and get rid of them, was because that might hurt us in the process. He decided to let them grow along with us. Just ignore them!" The little stalk heard this and listened carefully as they continued to talk. Suddenly, he remembered the farmer talking to them about such things. He remembered what farmer had said about these strangers, these "tares." At the time, he had not really been paying attention to what the farmer was telling them, he was having too much fun enjoying the sun and wind. He began to realize the farmer had told them this for their own good. Especially since his "tare" neighbor was getting pushy.

That same day, the farmer came into the field with his workers. He looked at each stalk with love and pride. "You are growing well. Strong and healthy, despite the "tares." Keep it up a little longer. Soon I will harvest you, and will separate you, from them. Just keep in mind all I have taught you, and stand strong and sure!" said the farmer. "At harvest time we wil "trust Me" and ignore them. They can only hurt you if you allow them to. I have provided you with enough "space" to grow no matter how hard they may try to choke you. Just stay in the area I set for you, and you will be fine." Then the farmer left.

The little wheat stalk looked at his "tare" neighbor. Now, he was angry. "You lied to me!" he said. "You are not here to help me! You are here to try to hurt me! I will not allow you any more space next to me! Out of my way "weed," I am going to grow like the farmer told me to!"

"But...I have knowledge?" said the weed. "I can show you "new" things."

"Get behind me weed.... I will not listen to you!" said the wheat. "My farmer has never lied, and I will trust him now. You on the other hand are crowding me.... So, Get behind me! I will do as the farmer said! And listen to him only!"

The field grew and all that the Farmer had said happened just as He said it would! The "tares" were, as Farmer had said, pulled up at harvest, and burned in a big bon fire. In addition, the wheat came into the full reward the farmer had for them since sowing the "Good Seed."

Dear Lord we pray that we would listen to You and not the many things around us that can lead us astray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

He Who Finds a Wife Finds What is Good!

Proverbs 18:22 (New International Version)
He who finds a wife finds what is good
   and receives favor from the LORD.

I woke up on August 23, 1985 a single man and ready to start the adventure they called marriage. That was 26 years ago today and I continue to count my blessing each and every day for the special gift God has given to me.

I certainly have found what is good! The best honor I can do for Becky is to continue to pray for her.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for this life, for the gift of love, and the blessing of our marriage. We give you praise for the joy you've poured into our hearts through this love, for the contentment of family, and the happiness of our home. May we always treasure the experience of loving each other in this holy union. Help us to remain forever committed to our vows, those we made to each other, and to you, Lord.

We will need your strength daily Lord, as we live together with the goal of following and serving you. Develop within is us the character of your Son, Jesus, that we might love each other with the love he demonstrated—with patience, respect, understanding, honesty, forgiveness and kindness.

Let us always be there to support each other—a friend to listen and encourage, a refuge from the storm, and most importantly, a warrior in prayer.

Holy Spirit, guide us through the difficult moments of life and comfort us in our grief. May our lives together continue to bring glory to you, our Savior, and testify of your love.

In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicken or Eagle?

Isaiah 40:31(New International Version)
but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.

There's an old fable that talks about a man who found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen.

The eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet in the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked. "That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth--we're chickens."

So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

How sad when we who are children of the King live as chickens when we could fly with the eagles.

Dear Lord we pray that we would soar as Eagles and not be like the chickens . We pray that we would not be like the world but that we would soar with the Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We Are Truly Rich.

When you feel like you have nothing, Just sit back and take inventory of what we each have in Christ.

“First , I have everlasting life (John 3:16).

“Second, I have a mansion in heaven (John 14:2).

“Third, I have peace that passeth understanding (Philippians 4:7).

“Fourth, I have joy unspeakable (1 Peter 1:8).

“Fifth, I have divine love which never faileth (1 Corinthians 13:8).

“Sixth, I have a faithful precious wife (Proverbs 31:10).

“Seventh, I have healthy, happy obedient children (Exodus 20:12).

“Eighth, I have true, loyal friends (Proverbs 18:24).

“Ninth, I have songs in the night (Psalms 42:8).

“Tenth, I have a Crown of Life (James 1:12).”

“Truly we are rich. Share the wealth with those around you.

Dear Lord we are thankful today for the many things You have given to us. We pray that we will never take it for granted but that we would share them with those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Well Done, My Faithful Pencil

Matthew 25:21 (New International Version)
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The Parable of the Pencil
Part 1

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. "There are 5 things you need to know," he told the pencil, "Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.

"One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone's hand.

"Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil.

"Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.

"Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside.

"And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition you must continue to write."

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in his heart.

The Parable of the Pencil
Part 2

But now the pencil lay on the dark wood table, feeling insignificant and rather sad.

Beside him on the desk was a colourful tin can, filled with every kind of beautiful pen to be had. There were silver fountain pens and a neon felt tip marker. There was also a classy ballpoint whom everyone called Parker.

"What a loser," they said of the pencil, as they observed his wooden frame.

"Don't bother with him, he's a nobody," said Parker, "He doesn't even have a name."

Now the world was at war and their owner was a Soldier who was tasked to bring peace to the land.

"What we need is a map," the Soldier had said, at the desk across from his Officer the other night. "If someone can fly me over the city unseen, I can draw a map from the sky. The map will tell you where to go and how to win, and soon we'll put an end to this fight."

The Officer had agreed and now the Soldier would fly, but first he discussed with his wife. "I'll need something to draw with, something dependable... something that won't fail me mid-flight."

The Soldier looked at his dark wood desk, and observed all the pens in the can. He studied each one, their bodies all shimmering, and he weighed them all in his hand.

"This one won't work," he said of a pen, "the ink might blot on the map. This one needs to be refilled every few hours, and this one will dry out without a cap."

He looked at each one and always found something wrong, or anticipated problems if he used it in the sky. "I need something that would work whatever the conditions, and I need it soon my dear wife."

"Then take this pencil." his wife finally said, handing him the frail and battered yellow thing. "It will write no matter what, it will write on a plane - it's the best writing tool you can bring."

The Soldier smiled, kept the pencil in his pocket, and took it with him on the plane. He finished the map and the map helped bring them peace... and the pencil has never been the same.

The Parable of the Pencil
Part 3

The pencil was now nothing more than a stub; what was left of his lead was now broken. His eraser was gone, his wood frame had split, and some time ago his metal ring had been stolen.

Now he stood before the Pencil Maker, and waited for him to say those 5 words.

"Well done, my faithful pencil," the Pencil Maker said, "You have written what you were meant to write in the world."

Dear Lord we pray today that we would that we would live our life so that we would hear “Well done good and faithful servant” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Name Do You Wear?

1 Peter 4:14-16 (New International Version)
14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

When the 1960s ended, many hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. They got married and had children. But they didn't name their children Melissa or Brett. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. And eventually Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school.

That's when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, parents applied name tags to their children, kissed them good-bye and sent them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy's name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it.

"Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" They offered.

And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn't seem much odder than Heather's or Sun Ray's.

At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses.

"Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?" He didn't answer. That wasn't strange. He hadn't answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn't matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children's bus stop on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony."

We often hear folks say, "There's nothing in a name!" But there is very much something in a name. Our name identifies who we are and where we came from (and sometimes where we're going). That's why Abram's name was changed to Abraham ("father of a multitude"), and Simon's to Peter ("the rock").

As Christians, we are proud to wear the name of the one who is our Lord, our Savior and our head.

Dear Lord we thank You that we can wear Your name because it shows where we are going. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Loving Your Enemies

Luke 6:27-28 (New International Version)
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

In the Christian catacombs of Rome, the following story (retold in Modern English) was found:

"A rich man named Proculus had hundreds of slaves. The slave named Paulus was so trustworthy that Proculus made him the steward over his whole household. One day Proculus took Paulus with him to the slave market to buy some new workers. Before the bargaining began, they examined the men to see if they were strong and healthy.

Among the slaves stood a weak, old man. Paulus urged his owner to buy this slave.

Proculus answered, "But he is good for nothing."

"Go ahead, buy him," Paulus insisted.

"He is cheap. And I promise that the work in your household will get done even better than before."

So Proculus agreed and purchased the elderly slave. And Paulus made good on his word. The work went better than ever. But Proculus observed that Paulus now worked for two men. The old slave did no work at all, while Paulus tended to him, gave him the best food, and made him rest.

Proculus was curious, so he confronted Paulus, "Who is this slave? You know I value you. I don't mind your protecting this old man. But tell me who he is. Is he your father who has fallen into slavery?"

Paulus answered, "It is someone to whom I owe more than to my father."

"Your teacher, then?"

"No. Somebody to whom I owe even more."

"Who then?"

"This is my enemy."

"Your enemy!"

"Yes. He is the man who killed my father and sold us, the children, as slaves." Proculus stood speechless. "As for me," said Paulus, "I am a disciple of Christ, who has taught us to love our enemies and to reward evil with good.""

Do you love your enemies?

Dear Lord today we pray for your enemies. We pray that today they would follow You and make You the Lord of their life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are You Guilty?

Matthew 7:17 (New International Version)
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Somebody's always watching...

Imagine for a moment that the government has been following your every move for the past six months. And now, an official representative of the government is at your door with the announcement...

"You are under arrest!"

The charge? That you are a Christian.

Your trial begins and one by one the prosecution calls to the witness stand those who know you best. First, there are your spouse and children who are asked to share what you say and do around the house. Then, they call your mom and dad and other relatives to testify. Your neighbors, friends and co-workers are all asked to tell what they know about you.

But it doesn't end there. The prosecution also brings to the stand some casual acquaintances that you barely even know...

...and they are all asked what they know about you. Folks like the cashier from the grocery store, your barber, the gas station attendant, the video store clerk and your accountant - they are all asked to take the stand and give an account of what you say and do. They talk about the kinds of movies you rent, the way you conduct your business and everything they know about your life.

Then, the prosecution calls their secret weapons to the stand...

...some people that you have never even seen before!

These people announce that they do not know you, but they have seen you around. The elderly lady that pulled out in front of you on the highway and then drove 10mph is called. So is the guy who watched and listened as you smacked your thumb with the hammer while you were making a repair. People who stood in front of you in line at Wal-Mart while the cashier's light blinked on and off for ten minutes while a price check was being conducted.

Yep, the prosecution called all of the people who watch you from a distant. You may not even know them, but they have overhead all of the things you said in private and saw all the things in your life that you thought no one else saw.

One by one they are called - all to testify on what they have seen you do and heard you say. They give an account of your life.

The jury leaves for a private room to determine the verdict. My question is...

....would they have enough evidence to convict you?

Would you close friends and relatives, casual acquaintances and business associates, folks you don't even know - would they all agree in unison, "Yes, you are a Christian?" Do they all know where you stand because of the way you live your life?

If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

My brethren, may we live our lives in such a way that the jury would find it easy to return an emphatic verdict of...

...guilty as charged!

Dear Lord we pray that there would be enough evidence to show that we are a Christian. We pray that we would live our life in a way that would give no doubt that we are Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Josh McDowell and Forgiveness.

Luke 7:47-48 (New International Version)
47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Josh McDowell was born in August 17, 1939 in Michigan. After graduating from high school, he went on to Kellogg College in Michigan. Josh was bright but he was also an angry, young man. In his second year in college, he had grown hostile to Christianity. Finally he accepted a challenge by a group of Christian students and professors to intellectually examine the claims of Christianity.

During his research to discredit the resurrection of Christ, Josh discovered compelling historical evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. Then in December 1959, he was unable to sleep or to get Jesus off his mind and Josh prayed to ask Jesus to come into his life and forgive his sins.

In the months that followed, Josh's life changed dramatically as he experienced the power of God's love. Most noticeable was his renewed relationship with his father -- the town drunk -- whom he never thought he could love again.

Since his conversion, Josh has devoted his life to telling a doubting world about Christ. He transferred to Wheaton College where he completed his college degree. Later he attended Talbot Theological Seminary where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a master of divinity degree. He has written more than 70 books on topics ranging from Christian apologetics to common problems facing youth.

For those who realize how sinful they truly are there is also a deep love and appreciation to Christ for the forgiveness of those sins. Today in prayer, thank Christ for forgiving you of your sin and give Him your life to do as He wills to bring glory to Him.

"How much have you been forgiven? More than you feel, imagine, or know. Jesus' death on the cross for sinners was something you did not request, could not resist, or can ever repay." 

Dear Lord we thank You for forgiving us. We pray that we would show forgiveness to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lessons From the Crash of Flight 1420

John 15:13 (New International Version)
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

"What evidence is there that Christianity is true?" That's the scoffing question Christians often encounter from unbelievers. But as we read about the crash of 1420, we see a demonstration of Christianity's truth and power that is hard to deny. A band of Christian choir members risk their lives during the American Airlines crash in Little Rock in order to save a planeload of strangers.

The story - hardly mentioned in the press - begins near midnight on June first in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the midst of a terrific thunderstorm, American Flight 1420, a twin-engine jet, skidded down the runway, struck a row of steel poles, and rolled into the Arkansas River where it burst into flames. Inside the broken jet, panic and fire began streaking down the aisle. But amidst the panic were pockets of calm.

On board the plane, you see, were some 25 members of the Ouachita Baptist University choir. They were returning from a two-week trip to Europe, where they had entertained Kosovo refugees in Austria.

In the chaos that followed the crash, the singers went to work. Barrett Barber, a 19-year-old minister's son, lifted passengers through a hole in the plane above an emergency exit that would not open. Choir member Luke Hollingsworth escaped from the tail section only to go back to help wounded passengers escape. On his own shoulders, the young man carried a woman with a broken pelvis across chest-deep water to safety.

Choir director Charles Fuller got his wife out, then went back into the burning plane to help rescue an 80-year-old man with a broken hip. He was later seen guiding other passengers out of the fuselage onto the wing of the plane.

The acts of heroism didn't end even after the young people had gotten survivors off the plane. Rain and huge balls of hail were pelting down on injured passengers lying on the ground. Choir members huddled over them, using their own bodies as human shields against the hail and rain. They even took off their shirts to form makeshift blankets for the injured.

When a physician arrived at the crash site, he told reporters he was "amazed at the calmness and stoicism that I witnessed." Throughout the emergency, the young people exuded a sense of peace. Where did that calmness come from?

One of the singers said he found strength by repeating to himself the words of the Psalmist: "Thou shalt not be afraid [of] the terror by night."

The heroism did not come without a price. Choir member James Harrison repeatedly ran back into the burning plane to pull passengers to safety. He was apparently overcome by smoke and collapsed. A few later, James's friends gathered at First Baptist Church of Royal, Arkansas, to bury him. Charles Wright, the head of Ouachita's music program, quoted the words of James's Savior: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Many stories were written about the Little Rock crash and questions about what caused it in the first place. But in the great untold story is the answer to an even greater question: Is Christianity true?

Indeed it is, when a man will lay his life down for a stranger.

Dear Lord we pray that when the struggles of life come that we would be willing to show Your love to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.