Archive for September 2009

Godliness with contentment . . .

September 26, 2009

“Now, Godliness with contentment is great gain.” – I Timothy 6:6

I read a story recently about a group of alumni, highly established in their careers, who got together to visit their old university professor. Their conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
 
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.
 
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.
 
What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
 
Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.
 
Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.
 
Too often in life we get so consumed with having more, or having what someone else has, we fail to appreciate the blessings we have already received.

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Are You a Nobody?

September 17, 2009

No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary . . .”
– I Corinthians 12:22

Chuck Swindoll gives us this quiz:

1. Who taught Martin Luther his theology and inspired his translation of the New Testament?
2. Who visited Dwight L. Moody at a shoe store and spoke to him about Christ?
3. Who was the elderly woman who prayed faithfully for Billy Graham for over twenty years?
4. Who refreshed the apostle Paul in a Roman dungeon as he wrote his last letter to Timothy?
5. Who helped Charles Wesley get underway as a composer of hymns?
6. Who followed Hudson Taylor and gave the China Inland Mission its remarkable direction?
7. Who were the parents of the godly and gifted prophet Daniel?

Did you know any of those answers? Half of them? Two?

Some folks will say, “I don’t need to know that “trivia.” But, think about it for a moment. Had it not been for those “unknown” people – those “nobodies” – a huge chunk of church history would be missing, and a lot of lives would have been untouched.

 While these folks’ names may not be prominent, the role they played was major. These ”Nobodies” played a vital role in the lives of some very famous “somebodies”.  They served God quietly, but faithfully.

So, if you’re not famous, don’t make the mistake of thinking you are unnecessary.

If it weren’t for “nobodies,” we wouldn’t have “somebodies,” and the work for God’s Kingdom would be less for it.  

As Swindoll says, “God chooses carefully. And when He has selected you for a role, He does not consider you a nobody. Be encouraged!”

Thank God for Sheepdogs

September 11, 2009

On this anniversary of 9/11, I’d like to share a few thoughts from a man by the name of Dave Grossman.

Before we go there, let me say I know we are all under God’s care and He is Sovereign over all. However, I also understand we live in a fallen world and I believe in His sovereignty God has instituted human measures of protection. Romans 13:3-4 says

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

So on with the “Sheepdog” illustration. This relates to every one in the U.S. who goes to sleep at night knowing (or not) there are heroes – sheepdogs – standing watch. He is retired Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) relates the following story:

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:

“Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful? For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.”

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

On September 11, 2001 many of our fellow Americans lost their lives and many of them were Sheepdogs whose heroic efforts saved many more.

May God bless and keep the “sheepdogs.”

 


 

“Fearless” by Max Lucado

September 8, 2009

Max Lucado’s conversational style in “Fearless” makes this excellent book seem more like counsel from an old friend. Everyone deals with fear on some level at some point, and Lucado guides us into how to bring those fears out into the light where they shrivel and die. Whether it is a fear of the unknown, or a specific situation, we are reminded to trust God Who has conquered all.

However, “Fearless” is not just a “trust God and everything will be okay” mantra. He unpacks typical fears, physical problems, family problems and fear for our children, financial difficulties and teaches and/or reminds us that God is not only greater than the object of our fear, but has already conquered that specific fear on our behalf.

In “Fearless” Lucado also shows how the things we typically depend on are part of the problem and not the solution. When trust in things like power, prestige and possessions they fail – every time. So we are inclined to make those things stronger, pursuing them with greater effort, all the while failing to realize they are insufficient solutions in any case. When they do fail, it only compounds our fear.

Lucado tells the story of watching two young girls with their father at a hotel pool. One daughter is gleefully jumping into the water where her father waits. The other obviously wants to, but her fears keep her on the edge – so close, yet so far from the freedom and joy of her sister. Finally, she jumps into her father’s waiting arms and realizes he won’t let anything happen to her.

“Fearless” reminds us we have a Heavenly Father Who cares for us Who will provide for us and keep us whatever the circumstances so we can live our lives with joy – in Him.

“Fearless” is no more or less than a “must read.”

(I will be posting a few of these book reviews as a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger Program J

A New (ad)Venture

September 3, 2009

Eileen and I are getting into beekeeping!

We have named our effort the “Southern Gold Bee Ranch”.

We’ve started a new blog for that part of our lives

www.sgbr.wordpress.com

come by and visit and see what’s going on with the “herd”.

Keep on keepin’ on . . .

September 3, 2009

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”     –    Philippians 3:12

 

I finished cardiac rehab last week (woo hoo!) As I was finishing they reassessed some of the markers they checked when I began – weight, flexibility, cardio-stamina, etc. It was encouraging to see progress, but also a reminder the improvement hopefully isn’t over. Physically, satisfaction leads to complacency and we often lose ground when we get that attitude.

 

You know, the same is true spiritually. When we get satisfied with where we are, or see a little progress, it is tempting to think we “have arrived” and get slack.

 

The Apostle Paul, who had accomplished so much, realized even he could not stop pressing forward in his Christian walk. The same is true for us. We need to keep our eyes on the goal, to be like Christ. Just as with physical training, there may be times when we slip, but get back up and press forward.

 

Thank God for the progress, and keep on keeping on until we finish this journey.