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Posts from December 2011

Two Ways God Views Death

12567267537C8eceIOver the years I have performed many funerals. They are always marked by tears and sorrow. There are different types of sorrow though. Those who have placed their faith in Christ grieve differently than others.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–14 (ESV) But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

And the difference is...Hope! Hope, based on our faith in the Lord.

We learn from scripture that there are two ways God views death...

  • No Pleasure

“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” ~ Ezekiel 33:11

  • Precious

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." ~ Psalm 116:25

And the difference is...Our relationship with the Lord.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

 


A Cause For Joy ~ Proverbs 23:24

McAlister

I had the privilege of attending a funeral service in Corcoran, California today. Sister Archibald, a long time member of the Farmersville Free Will Baptist Church was laid to rest. She was 94 years old and had a wonderful testimony. Her children and grandchildren shared wonderful stories of Sister Archibald and her faith.

Our Deacon, Kevin McAlister, spoke at the graveside service and did an amazing job. Kevin's father is "The Preacher", 87 year old JL McAlister. I happened to have my Nikon in the car and was able to snap this shot before leaving the cemetery. Needless to say, "The Preacher" was very proud of "The Deacon" today. And this pastor, is very happy to serve alongside both of these great men.

Have an awesome weekend! See you in church Sunday...


Childhood Fear Versus Grown-Up Fear

Fear

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.  Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave."  ~Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar, 1894

Earlier this week I wrote about Two Obstacles Every Leader Must Overcome and I've been thinking about one of those obstacles a little more today. Fear! Fear is a pretty large topic. I thought about the things that I have been afraid of in life and realized that the list would be better if I broke it down into childhood fears and adult fears...

  1. Spiders ~ Anything that crawls around with facial expressions too small to read
  2. Shots ~ Blood tests, vaccinations, etc.
  3. Bleeding ~ One of my goals growing up was to not bleed
  4. Dentists ~ Obvious! 

That's about it! Life was pretty simple as a kid. I know these may seem silly, but I bet they're at the top of almost every kid's list of fears. Things change as we get older though, most things anyway... Today my list looks like this.

  1. Spiders ~ My wife is the designated Spider Killer in our home and I'm OK with that!
  2. Shots ~ I avoid needles at all costs, and I look the other way when the doctor draws my blood, keyword "MY" blood
  3. Bleeding ~ Still a major goal in life ~ Don't spill any blood. It doesn't hurt if it doesn't bleed...right?
  4. Dentists ~ Duh!
  5. Failure ~ Fear of failure doesn't keep us from failure though. It happens and we survive it, but it's like being shocked with a low voltage jolt - it still makes you jumpy. We must not let fear keep us from attempting things though, not trying is failure. We can overcome our fear of failure by understanding that God's love and care for us are not conditioned on our being successful at everything we attempt.
  6. Rejection ~ Rejection is painful! I don't know anyone that enjoys it. I have met some that didn't seem to be bothered by it. I'm not one of them. Fear of rejection can keep us from our mission of reaching the world for Christ. I try to keep in mind that it's not really me someone is rejecting wheh I share the Gospel. And if I allow the fear of rejection to control me, I rsiking missing out on some of the greatest blessings in life.
  7. Getting Hurt ~ If you've ever put yourself out there and been hurt then you know what I mean. Whoever made up the whole "Sticks and Stones" thing was WRONG! I'd rather be hurt physically than emotionally any day of the week. The fear of being hurt causes us to put up walls to protect ourselves.
  8.  Being Forsaken ~ As kids, some of the most dreaded words were "I'm not gonna play with you anymore". That thought still brings chills to us now and then. And the fear of being forsaken may keep us from doing or saying the right things. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us!
  9. Loss ~ The fear of losing something or somebody is huge! I hate losing my keys, wallet, phone, etc. I seem to have more instances of this the older I get. As a parent, one of the greatest fears we have is that of losing a child. I remember one day thinking I lost my middle daughter, Alyssa. She had got upset and hid under her bed, sending us into a panic looking for her in the neighborhood. We found her and practiced Biblical discipline (i.e. she got a whoopin') Of course, one of the worst things to lose isn't a thing at all but someone we love. I can't even imagine what it would be like to lose my wife, or one of my children. But we never really lose them, they're waiting for us in Heaven. We should never forget that none of these things are ours to lose...they belong to God. We are blessed to enjoy so many things in this life but they are just on loan to us. We shouldn't spend our lives fearful of loss.
  10. God ~ This is the only fear on the list that I don't really think we should try to get over. Our fear of God isn't the crippling kind of fear, it's a sense of awe, wonder, and amazement. It is to respect and reverence God in His power and majesty. We need a revival of the "fear of the Lord" in America. This "fear of the Lord" is a good thing...It produces good things in our lives.
  • Proverbs 8:13 (ESV) "The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil..."
  • Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..."
  • Proverbs 10:27 (ESV) "The fear of the Lord prolongs life..."
  • Proverbs 14:26 (ESV) "In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence..."
  • Proverbs 14:27 (ESV) "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life..."
  • Proverbs 15:33 (ESV) "The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom..."
  • Proverbs 16:6 (ESV) "...by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil"
  • Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) "The fear of the Lord leads to life..."

"The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13

OK, So tell me, what are some of the fears that you wrestle with? Share your thoughts. I'd love to hear what you have to say...



Two Obstacles Every Leader Must Overcome

Obstacle1

I was praying for a fellow pastor this morning and asking God to keep him going strong. As I prayed, the scripture in Joshua 1:9 came to mind...I quickly sent him a text message reminding him "God is with you wherever you go." A few thoughts from my devotions today...

Joshua 1:9 (ESV) ~ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Two of the greatest obstacles we face in ministry and life are FEAR and DISCOURAGEMENT...Think about it. These two big uglies show up often and are fierce in their attacks. One of God's first discussions with Joshua, before turning the leadership of His people over to him, was about FEAR and DISCOURAGEMENT. God commanded him to "Be strong and courageous" and to "not be frightened, and not be dismayed". God's assurance to Joshua was simple and powerful, "for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go".

What are you fearful of today? Seriously, what fear is keeping you from moving forward in your life or ministry? Fear can be paralyzing. What are you discouraged about today? Discouragement is a trap that's easy to fall into and difficult to escape. We must overcome these two obstacles in order to go where God wants us to go and lead others to that same place.

  • Combat FEAR and DISCOURAGEMENT with STRENGTH and COURAGE.
  • Remember that GOD is our STRENGTH and GOD is our COURAGE.
  • Never forget! "The Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Two Ways To Have Exciting Churches

An exciting service today here in Farmersville has had me thinking about how to have exciting churches. Two things come to mind...

  • Crowds
  • Changed Lives

"I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth." ~ 1 Timothy 3:14–15 (ESV)

A crowd on Sunday may be exciting but "being there" should never overshadow "behaving there".

The most exciting churches are those that witness changed lives and celebrate those lives on Sundays. If we focus on crowds rather than changed lives our churches become chaotic. The excitement of a crowd can be achieved any number of ways, the excitement of changed lives can only be achieved One Way...

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

  • A crowd, while exciting, doesn't neccesarily produce a changed live. Jesus does!
  • A changed life, on the other hand, has a tendency to attract a crowd...to Jesus!

 

 


A Whisper In The Water ~ Mineral King

December 2011

I love the mountains and rivers around Tulare County. It was beside a river, at a youth camp, that I surrendered to God's call to ministry. I have always enjoyed the sound of water flowing over rocks and I can still hear God whispering to me when I stand still and listen. He is faithful! He never leaves us alone! I'm so happy to be wherever He leads...