We enjoyed an awesome Christmas this year with lot's of family and food. It's hard to go wrong with that combination. One of my gifts was a beautiful leather bound journal that I can hardly wait to start filling up. I'm looking forward to hiding out in a coffee house with my Bible and this journal, reading the Word and writing out my thoughts.
Posts from December 2010
The 1930's had businesses struggling to survive a downward spiral in the economy. One New York insurance office had rumors floating around that there would be major layoffs and salary cuts in the near future. During this time, a twenty-two-year-old clerk in that company was offered a radio contract with NBC to make regular appearances on programs as a singer. The young man was a Christian, a minister's son, and while he saw opportunity for fame and fortune, he also struggled with using his talents for anything other than Gospel music. The executives from NBC agreed that he could sing an occassional Gospel song but that was not what they were really looking for.
The young man wrestled with his decision for several days. His mother knew of the struggle he was having with this decision and she was praying earnestly for him to make the right choice. One Sunday morning he sat down at the piano to practice a hymn he was going to sing in church that morning. As he played and sang he noticed a piece of paper that had been left on the piano by his mother. On the paper, she had copied by hand the words to a poem by Rhea Miller. His eyes swelled with tears as he read the words. They pierced his heart. He immediately began to play a new melody on the piano that today has been heard by millions.
I’d Rather Have Jesus
Words By Rhea F. Miller
Music By George Beverly Shea
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands; I’d rather be lead by His nail pierced hands;
Than to be a king of a vast domain, Or be held in sin’s dread sway, I’d rather have Jesus than anything This world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause; I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause; I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame, I’d rather be true to His holy name.
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom; He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb; He’s all that my hungering spirit needs, I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
George Beverly Shea chose Jesus over fame and fortune and went on to sing to millions and millions of people while traveling with Billy Graham. One night he asked Reverend Graham if he had ever thought of closing his sermons by simply saying, "As the choir sings, you come". Billy Graham used that phrase to close not only the sermon that night, but most every sermon thereafter.
There is nothing as valuable as having Jesus in your heart. There is no possesion as dear as knowing Jesus. There is no experience as enjoyable as being in the center of His will. "I'd rather have Jesus than anuthing this world affords"!
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:1–4 (ESV)
One of the things I have always loved about the Farmersville Free Will Baptist Church is the emphasis on impacting young people for Christ. I thank God often for the impact this church has had on my life. I've been preaching the Gospel for almost thirty years now, but my first sermons were delivered to this church. They took an interest in a fifteen year old preacher-boy and encouraged me to follow the Lord's calling on my life. I feel so honored to serve as pastor in this church today and my desire is that together we will continue touching young lives and encouraging them to serve the Lord.
Last night at our Christmas Program we watched children parade through the chapel and then up on to the platform dressed as sheep, cows, shepherds, wise men, drummer boys, and Mary and Joseph. Some of the children performed piano and trumpet solos. High school students quoted scriptures, junior high students shared cute stories about the real meaning of Christmas. They did all this without hesitation, in front of a full auditorium, because they just love Jesus and want to be a part of the celebration of His birth. I pray they never lose that humble spirit that allows them to do anything for the King of Kings.
As I watched the children at church celebrate the birth of Jesus, I kept thinking about the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:1-4. Jesus, while holding a child in his arms, said that the "greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven" are those who "humble" themselves "like this child". Yet one of the great tragedies of growing older is that we tend to wrestle with pride much more than we did as young children. Pride will keep us from giving our all to Jesus. Serving requires humility. God may not ask you or me to dress up like an animal from the manger scene, but He may ask us to speak up for Him, sing in church, serve in the nursery on Sunday mornings or evenings, teach a Sunday School class, sing for and minister to precious senior citizens in the local convalescent hospital, run a vacuum cleaner each week, clean windows, mow the lawns, or minister to (serve) His children in one way or another. Are we willing to "become like children", humble ourselves, and do anything Jesus asks us to do?
I pray that you are having a wonderful Christmas! Take some time to put aside all the grown-up stuff this week and just celebrate Jesus! Find something special to do for the King of Kings!
The folks over at OUR DAILY BREAD have a way of just reaching out and slapping you in the face every now and then. If you're looking for something to jumpstart your devotional time going into the new year I would highly recommend subcribing to their daily emails. Here's one from this week that'll make quite a few say "OUCH". Enjoy!
I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. —Psalm 71:14
A story is told about a family that went on a picnic by a lake. At one point, their 5-year-old son waded into the lake, stepped into deep water, and sank out of sight. None of the adults in the family knew how to swim, so they ran up and down the shore in panic while the child bobbed up and down and screamed for help. Just then, a man happened by who sized up the situation, leaped into the lake, and rescued the boy. He climbed out on the bank with the child, who was frightened but unharmed, only to hear the mother ask with irritation, “Where’s Johnny’s cap?”
So often we focus on small disappointments that cause us to grumble and complain rather than focusing on the wonderful things God has brought into our lives, not the least of which is His everlasting love and eternal salvation. When we complain about the small dissatisfactions of life, we’re asking, in effect, “Where’s Johnny’s cap?”
Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18). We may not be thankful for everything that comes our way, but we can give thanks in everything. It may be difficult to be grateful when we lose our job or our health fails, but we can be thankful for the good that God has brought to us in this life and grateful for the life to come. —David Roper
As endless as God’s blessings are,
So should my praises be
For all His daily goodnesses
That flow unceasingly! —Adams
Instead of being preoccupied with our problems, let’s praise the Lord for His blessings.
"...for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
Taking care of God's children can keep a pastor very busy at times. I was praying this evening, meditating on some scripture, and thinking about how serious ministry is. In just the past couple days I've met with folks struggling with serious health issues, depression, financial needs, marital strife, domestic violence, mental illness, sexual assault, child custody, and more. I'm not complaining, I love the ministry. I'm not trying to boast either, the truth is that every church is filled with people like this, people with spiritual needs. These past few days have just reminded me that as pastors, we must take our calling very seriously!
We must "pray without ceasing", be "filled with the Spirit", "study" so that we may be "approved" workers. We must love God with everything we have and allow the love of Christ to flow through us to our fellow man. We are called by God to "watch over" the souls of men and women and we "will have to give an account" to the Lord one day. We cannot afford to play games when it comes to ministry.
Oh, God! Let my preaching be inspired! Let my mind be sharp and focused! Give me the energy to go and the determination to overcome the temptation to sit idle. God, let your spirit guide my every step so that I'm always where you want me to be at the right time. Let my spirit be excellent! Give me love for both the saved and the lost. God, give me wisdom and the words to counsel those who are searching for answers. Don't ever let me forget how important your calling is and how much I need you. Give me the faith to turn everything over to you at the end of the day. Amen.
I recently changed the battery in my macbook pro and then noticed that my cooling fans were spinning like crazy and not slowing down. Istat Pro had them spinning at 5000+ rpms. Very annoying sound and probably not the best thing for battery life. Did a little research and found the solution was simple. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC). How? (1) Shut down mac (2) Disconnect power supply (3) Remove battery (4) Press and hold power button for 5-10 seconds (5) Reinstall battery, connect power cord, start computer.
Did the trick! Fan speed is down to 2000 rpm. Simple fix.
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." ~ Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)
I spoke with two christian men today about raising children. One man is currently raising his grandchildren and the other is raising a nephew. Both of these guys are carrying a heavy burden. There are times, I'm sure, that their faith is really put to the test. I admire these guys for what they are doing and I'm praying for them daily. God has trusted them to raise these precious children.
In Genesis 18, before God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, He reveals to abraham His plan to destroy these wicked cities. He does this because He loves Abraham and trusts that Abraham is the kind of man that will teach his children and his grandchildren to walk in the "way of the LORD". The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is so big that it's easy to miss this amazing statement about Abraham's role as a father and grandfather.
"I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” ~ Genesis 18:19 (NLT)
Thank God for men like Abraham! Men who trust God and who are trusted by God to care for children. Men, if God has blessed you with children and or grandchildren, rejoice! God has trusted you to take care of them and to raise them to "keep the way of the LORD". How do we do that? The answer is in the scripture text..."by doing what is right and just". If we want our children to follow Jesus then we must follow Jesus! If we want our children to live right then we must live right! You can do it! God trusts you!
This past Wednesday night, as Kathy and I walked by the front of the church on our way home, this lovely flower captured our attention. It was standing tall, rising above all the other flowers, and it's petals were spread wide open, as if it were offering all that it had to make God's house look beautiful.
This flower reminded me that God cares for us! If He would clothe the fields with such beauty, surely He will take care of us. It also reminded me that somebody at church cares! They had taken time and effort to make God's house look it's very best. It's nice to see so many little things around the church that make it very clear that there are people who care about God's house.
Have a great weekend!