Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Building Your Calendar

Wow, it's that time of year again to go purchase a new calendar for 2016.  Some of you may still work off of a paper calendar and you need to go month by month and transfer all of those important dates.  The question remains, will you remove the lesser important items and make room for the significant things that really need to be in the calendar?  I'm talking about creating more room in your calendar for you to focus on you.  Would you be bold enough to remove some of the expectations that others have placed upon you so you can do what you feel is most important.  Would you consider creating a little matrix to determine if some of those things should even be on the calendar; like, do they help me accomplish my life goals, do they have eternal value, do they contribute towards building others up (in Christ), or do they make me a better Christ-follower?

Many of us build our calendars around our work, families, church, hobbies, and even house chores.  But do we take the time to truly invest in our own lives that we might be refreshed spiritually and physically.  Do we build our calendars based on our calling in this life?  Is God factored into our calendars?  This is convicting because many times Christians are so busy doing ministry and investing in others that they forget to replenish themselves.  Most men that I know who have fallen from ministry admit to the fact that they have been running dry spiritually and failed to spend time alone in prayer and in God's Word.  Many people are so dry spiritually that anything that looks wet they believe will satisfy their thirst.  The reality is that only drawing water from the well of living water that Christ supplies will quench our thirst.

Jesus Christ said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)  Christ was challenging the woman at the well not to think temporary but to think eternal.  As Christians, we should be living with another day in view and this should affect our calendar and the things that we place in it.  Paul said to, "make the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16).  

Let's take this challenge to heart and build a calendar that reflects a year that is dedicated to Jesus Christ and builds us up at the same time.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Finding What You Want or Need

I love this photo as it speaks to me in a certain way.  I see a precious little girl who has already been taught the joy and happiness that can be gained through the purchase of things. It appears to me that she is in good control of her situation.  For such a little girl, she comes across as very satisfied with her wise purchase and ready to take on life.  Some parent has really trained her well and early.

I really no  longer enjoy shopping unless I can do it at home on the Internet.  The only exceptions that I would make would be for Cabelas or Gander Mountain--I guess it is a man thing.  The enjoyment about the internet is that I can seek the best product very quickly and get all of the details that I would want in order to make my purchase.  I guess I feel a little bit empowered, and then the item is brought right to my front door--how great is that!  It is nice to feel special.  In fact, I can have it picked up for a return if I don't like the product.  It is certainly all about the shopper today, regardless of age.  We do live in a consumer driven society where the customer is king!  It is all about keeping the customer happy if you want repeat business.

Interestingly enough, the church wrestles with this same issue as it tries to be all things to all people.  There needs to be something for everyone. After all, people come in all different shapes and sizes.  Is this real and is this good biblical thought?  Many people shop for Jesus Christ on their own terms.  Have the lost world and Christians developed an image of Jesus Christ in their minds that is consistent with the Jesus of the Bible?  Would we want the Jesus of the Bible if we really knew who he was?  He calls us sinners who are in need of a Savior.  He asks us to repent of our sins and to follow him.  He instructs believers to "take up their cross and follow him".  Many people want to shop for eternal life, but sometimes they forget to read the fine print in God's Word.  Becoming a Christian is more than a matter of not having to go to hell.  Becoming a Christian is a matter of repenting of one's sins and following Jesus Christ as the Lord of their life each and every day.  It means that they refuse to dishonor His name in questionable activities.  It means they long to be holy because HE IS HOLY--and He asks that of his people.

I'm concerned that the commercialized Jesus that the world shops for is not the Jesus found in Scripture.  Many times believers can even package Jesus the way they want to see him--I suppose it keeps them more comfortable with themselves.  They fail to see him in all of His glory and righteousness.  Those who truly see Jesus Christ for who He is live differently--and yes, they even shop differently because they look for a different fulfillment in their life.

By the way, I still love the precious photo!

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Waiting for Christmas

Looking back, one of the highlights of Christmas as a family was being able to give the gifts that we purchased to the children.  It was very difficult not to give them to them early.  My wife and I finally came to agreement as a couple and decided that we would open the gifts on Christmas Eve.  Some may view it as spoiling Christmas or caving into our kid's demands.  However, we were so excited about what we had to give them and we loved our kids dearly.  To my defense, I have found some families who give the kids their Christmas gifts  when they  purchased them--they  really make me  look pretty good : )

When I consider Scripture, I think about Simeon in the book of Luke chapter 2.  We don't know much about him but he is described as a devoted, righteous man of God.  Scripture identifies him as waiting for the "consolation of Israel" and that the Holy Spirit was upon him.  The Holy Spirit had told him that he would not see death until he would first behold Jesus the Messiah.  It happened.  Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple and what a Christmas gift Simeon would receive.  Could you even imagine being handed the Son of God (the God man) in your arms--the promised Messiah--the Redeemer of all mankind?  What more could you ever want--wow!!!  Waiting is indeed hard but when we consider the gift of salvation--nothing else compares.  It is well worth the wait!

Scripture says that Simeon praised God and blessed His holy name with a short song: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32  Simeon was thrilled and fulfilled!  He was now ready to enter the presence of the Lord.  The waiting was over and nothing could ever be compared to the gift of God's Son.  Indeed the light of the world had entered the world and the gift of God's Son had arrived!!!

Application:  Would you be willing to share the gift of eternal life with someone this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


The lady in the photo reminds of a time when I went on a missions trip to Mexico with our church youth group.  I was 15 years old at the time and the trip still holds valuable lessons for life.  We drove a school bus from Detroit, Michigan to a location 150 miles north of Mexico City, Mexico to work with some missionaries from our church.  We had about a week to work on the church building, run a vacation Bible school, make home visits, preach my first sermon in a small village church with an interpreter, and to take in the scenery.  It was a summer trip to Mexico and we were not allowed to wear short pants. 

Many of the home visits were made on foot and at one point we even took a boat to ford a river.  At one of the ladies homes, she was so honored that we came to her place that she rolled out the red carpet for us.  It was a hut and we sat outside in chairs that were hand made.  The situation and moment was very foreign to us all and we were coached to always show great gratitude for every act of kindness.  We were made to feel like celebrities everywhere the missionaries would take us.  This specific lady wanted to show her generosity but she had very, very little to her name.  She went inside her house and brought out a large armful of oranges--it was all she had to share.  They were not the same shape, size, or color that I was used to seeing in the supermarket.  We all accepted them with great gratitude and enjoyed them.

That sister in Christ not only ministered to us but she worshiped Jesus Christ in her great generosity.  It has taken nearly 35 years from that moment to fully appreciate what it means to give almost all you have to love on someone else.  After all, that is not the American way.  I'll never see that sister in Christ again as she is probably with the Lord now.  We couldn't even speak the same language but I did understand the language of love.  Although most of us would not think of ourselves as having much, how generous are we?  Are the things that we have from Jesus Christ truly on loan from Him for a period of time?  How will we use them to build and advance the Kingdom of God?  Imagine if we all gave freely towards one another and God's work then what the world would look like?

Missionary, Jim Elliot, who lost his life in a brutal attack by the people he was trying to reach while on the mission field, once said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."  Is our life a mission for Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ once said in Matthew 25:31-40, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “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.’