No is not an option

Since the creation of man, people have wanted to be in charge of their lives. Some have a real problem with having other people tell them what to do. Teens do not like their parents telling them what to do, so they leave home and join the Marines! [Go figure.]

It is no different in the Christian world. People come to Jesus Christ confess their sins and receive forgiveness, but then the real struggle begins.  Some think now their sins are forgiven; their “ticket” to heaven has been punched and it does not matter how they live or who is in control of their lives. But Jesus came to earth not only to be our Savior but also our Lord. As Lord, He expects us to follow His leadership in all areas of our life.

The Apostle Peter was an exemplary Jew. He kept ALL the Jewish laws, but he had a problem of accepting Gentiles as fellow believers. God gave Peter a vision of a sheet being lowered down from heaven. In that sheet were animals that Jewish law forbid them to eaten. Acts 10:12-13 God commanded Peter to kill and eat them. Peter responded, “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” verse 14. God repeated the vision three times but Peter reply was always the same, “No, Lord.” God’s response? “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”

For the true Christ-follower, saying no to Christ is an act of disobedience; a rejection of His Lordship.  Saying NO is not an option. We sing a chorus that says, “Yes Lord, yes, to your will and to your way…”

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The Word of God still amazes me. I have read the Bible for over forty years and I still find nuggets of truth that I have overlooked. Today while on the way home from church, I was listening to a preacher on the radio. Unfortunately, I started listening in the middle of his message or I would gladly given credit for his insight.

He spoke on Exodus 34:28-30 “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.

He brought two very interesting truths:

  1. The people were very aware of the radiance of Moses’ face. When you spend time in God’s presence; people know it. Your face may not glow, your outside appearance may not change but you will have a different attitude, a difference internally that people will notice. Acts 4:13 “After they found out that Peter and John had no education or special training, they were surprised to see how boldly they spoke. They realized that these men had been with Jesus.” Being with Jesus does make a difference.
  2. This second truth totally escaped me. Moses was unaware that his face was radiant. Moses had just spent 40 days and nights in God’s presence. He was so awed by God’s presence that he totally forgot about himself.

One day we are going to stand in His presence and as Charles Wesley penned we will be “Lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

The Ministry of Presence

We have all been faced with situations where a relative or good friend was going through a crisis in their life. Maybe it was the loss of a loved one or they were facing a terminal illness.  Without a doubt this makes us uncomfortable. You want to help them but what do you say? What do you do?

In Galatians 6:2 we find one of the most important ways that believers can serve one another. We are told that we must “bear one another’s burdens,” and that by doing so we will fulfill the law of Christ. This verse means we come along side ans help in anyway we can to lift their. This ministry of presence means that we will serve people even when it might make us uncomfortable. We will stand with people in the midst of anxiety and fear.You do not have to be brilliant, persuasive, articulate, or experienced. Through the ministry of presence, you can bring comfort to the hurting—without ever being ordained or certified. You do not have to be anything but available to be a wonderful tool in the hand of God.

Today, I saw a real-life example of this ministry on Facebook. A good friend of my wife and I has two-year-old twin girls. With her permission she has allowed me to use her post. “Bekah is having a rough day and wants to be held, you know the fragile emotions of a 2 year old girl! I needed to leave the room, so I asked Hannah is she would take care of Bekah for a few minutes…….this is how I found them!!” 

twins

“…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Church leaders and pastors are always looking for something that will draw people to their church. They have tried the Bus Ministry, the Seeker-sensitive approach, Small Groups and a host of others. But I think that the Biblical approach still works best! This way does not cost any money. Everyone is gifted and can be trained to use this approach.

The first recorded instance is found in Exodus 3; “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.  So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” The King James Version says, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” Some may say that it was curiosity that drew him to the bush but I think it more than that. It was the presence of God that drew him.

When Jesus walked this earth, He always drew a crowd. People were attracted to Him. When God’s presence is manifested in a worship service, people might not understand (just like Moses didn’t understand) but they will be drawn. When Jesus spoke of His coming death, He said, “And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.” He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.”  John 12:32

 Christianity was different than any religion. It offered a personal relationship with God. The void in man’s soul can only be filled by God. This what people are looking for. This relationship brings meaning and purpose to people’s lives.

Empty Quiver? Empty Nest?

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! Psalm 127:3-5

One of the greatest joys of our lives  having children! Oh, we had some wonderful experiences. One of the hardest things my wife and I did was send our kids off to college. The day my son left and I was driving home, I had to pull to side of the road because I could not see for tears. Many of you have experienced that bitter-sweet moment. No matter how much joy  our children bring us, there is a time to let go.

The Bible uses the analogy of arrows representing our children and rightly so. For an arrow to accomplish the purpose for which it was created, it must be released. It must leave the quiver and bow towards its intended target. We must remember we are not raising children but we are raising future adults. Do not wait until they are 15 or 16 years-old to start to instill in them  the principles and character you wish to see them possess in adulthood.

My wife and I have now reached that time when we are seeing our grandchildren leave the nest (quiver). Our granddaughter, Kimberly, left this week for college.kim grad 2 I miss her already! Her parents have done an excellent job in raising her. I see qualities in her that many adults do not posses.

So parents, if you have not reached this moment, start preparing now. And but lots of tissues, you will need them.