Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When worship practice becomes JOY!

Sometimes I wonder if we ought not have more people come over on Wednesday night to worship practice to practice... worship. By the time that a video like this could be filmed, we've already practiced as a band and are now practicing as a unit together. We're trying to eliminate all the "glitches" and make sure the music, the vocals, and the powerpoint are all they need to be on Sunday morning when we lead worship.

But every now and then, at worship practice, WORSHIP breaks out.

It did tonight, and I think a little girl named Reagan and a young man named Ryan were used to inspire the rest of us. It was the first time Reagan had ever been at New Hope. You can tell by the video though that she figured out what was going on pretty quickly. She was awesome - pure JOY! And then one of my favorite people - Ryan Marston broke out the best Southern Baptist hand raising I think I have ever seen. Complete with swaying - all while running the powerpoint!

Frankly, I didn't want to leave the sanctuary tonight. I could have stayed there and just repeated the worship set again and again.

I love New Hope!

Looking Over My Shoulder

Okay, I read ahead.

I'm teaching tonight out of Hebrews 9, but I kept going all the way through the rest of the book. It's that good. And when I got to Hebrews 11, I slowed down and let it sink in.

People have been living out their faith in God and dying for it for over 2,000 years. They lived so purposefully and so passionately that the Bible sums it all up by saying this:

39 Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. 40 God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.Heb 11:39-40 (MSG)

That's why we look back at the Old Testament, it informs the believer today. But we don't live there. Some people want to go back and relive the feasts, festivals and laws like the Jews did back then.

They remind me of people still fighting the civil war. One of my favorite Christians of all time, Clarence Jordan, confronted someone like that.

The story is told that after one sermon before a southern congregation, an elderly woman approached Clarence and said, “I want you to know that my granddaddy fought in the Civil War, and I’ll never believe a word you say.” Returning her steely glare with a gracious smile, Jordan replied, “Ma’am, your choice seems quite clear. It is whether you will follow your granddaddy or Jesus Christ.”

I love Clarence Jordan. He cuts to the chase. Well, let me try too.

We are NOT under law, but under grace. The stories of the Old Testament saints can inspire us because of their devotion, but they lived without understanding everything that God had coming in Jesus.

Any system that substitutes a new set of rules (or requires submission to the old rules) isn't biblical Christianity. God put the old covenant on the shelf when Christ came, and the tablets He wrote on then weren't stone. He wrote them on the hearts of everyone who believes in Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

Every time I read Hebrews it feels as if those saints are looking over my shoulder and urging me to preach the fullness of God's grace in Jesus. They couldn't get there then, but they want you to get there now. Here's my favorite verse about how to do it.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Matt 11:28-30 (MSG)

Close the distance between you and Jesus. Then just follow Him with everything you've got - heart, mind, body, and soul. You're going to find peace where guilt was, and freedom exchanged for shame. For maybe the first time ever, you're going to feel like you are who you were meant to be.

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If It Was Easy, We Wouldn't Need A Commandment To Do It

When you invest your life into a ministry in the smaller local church, it becomes way more than just a job or a place of ministry. You love it fiercely and work and dream and pray for it multiple times a day. So like the Philippian Jailer's example below, when people come with a litany of issues and say they may start looking for a new church, or worse - up and leave without notice, it hurts. Hasn't happened lately, but it's happened, and when I read about it anywhere, I wince.

By now I've been here long enough to see people leave for frivolous reasons, for pride's sake, because their feelings were hurt, or because they didn't get their way. But every now and then I'll get something like this:
My friend Kathy had just finished recounting to me the myriad insufferable problems with our church. The theology was impure, the congregation was insufficiently devoted, the leadership was distracted and divided ... in short, the church was hopelessly off-course. She and her husband were thinking of leaving for another church that promised better everything: from the pastor to the laity to the doctrine. It was time to go find a congregation more pure, united, and Christ-like ... well, you know, like those wonderful first-century churches.

"Okay, Kathy", I said. "I completely understand. I just ask you one favor. Call me when you find the perfect church."
HT: The Philippian Jailer: In Search of the Perfect Church:

You should read it all.

If your church has holes that you spot, what if God has placed you there to fill them? How will it ever get to be more effective in its areas of weakness if people don't step up and serve?

I know it can be tempting to find an easier place, a shinier building, more of this or that and yet... in marriage, the glory of committing yourself to a particular body of believers is in actually honoring the commitment. If loving one another was easy, we wouldn't have to be commanded to do it. Every church has problems, many of them severe. Every church struggles, changes, has bad apples, and goes through ugly trials. It is the nature of a congregation of sinners that they will, in fact, sin, and that will be unpleasant for all involved.
HT: The Philippian Jailer: In Search of the Perfect Church:

Yes it is. We will in fact, sin.

We will in fact, fail
from time to time in different areas.

There will be times when we move too slowly to fix what needs fixing.

There will be changes we do make that just don't work out. And yet...

Again from the Philippian Jailer's post
In relationship to my local church, as in my marriage, fidelity must be my first and overwhelming inclination, my consuming passion, and my ultimate objective. As long as there is still love for Jesus present, there is still work for me to do in the place where God has planted me.
There are some things that can improve, some things that have improved, and some things we do well here. We are NOT perfect by any measure. But God has worked here and is working here. Lives have been changed and are being changed. Relationships have been born and continue to be.

If you serve your church. If you love her, and love Jesus, then bend your heart toward making it your forever church home. Bend your knee frequently to pray for her and for her pastor(s). Build a relationship with him so that you can help by not just spotting what needs fixing, but pointing out how you and others you enlist can help it get fixed.

It won't be easy at times. But it will be the right thing to do.

Sunday Recap 9/26/10

Had a great day at New Hope Sunday. I was excited because I was going to get to teach our Kidmo kids about loss and God's answer to the pain and grief. Can't tell you how impressed I was to see that the Kidmo writers not only tackled the issue of death, but how they did it for these elementary aged kids. We need more Biblical teaching about real life events as early as the kids can grasp it. Good job, Kidmo guys.

The class went well, with the kids telling me about losses of pets, uncles, and in one case, their father. We learned that it was okay to be sad - Jesus was too. But we also learned that God had given us Jesus who conquered death by rising from the dead, and had given us all a place in heaven if we believed in Him. They actually drew a map to heaven and it began with Jesus.

It all begins with Jesus, doesn't it? If we could just get everyone - whatever age - to begin every day following Jesus wherever we went, the Kingdom of God would advance faster.

The worship set:

Holy Is the Lord
God You Reign (first time we have sung this - love the words)
A Shield About Me (so worshipful)
Amazing Grace

The message finished our walk through Colossians 3 with a call to work for God no matter who your earthly boss is or whatever your earthly job is. In this military community, I tried to draw a distinction between "Employed" and "Deployed." We might be employed by McDonald's or the Air Force, but we are deployed by God to be His agent there.

Had some folks back from extended vacations which was awesome. New Hope together is a force for God. On that note, our Child2Child girls' efforts on behalf of the Full Belly Project netted over two hundred dollars which will help the group help the poor to rise up and provide for their families. Great job again girls!

Here's the powerpoint, the sermon audio should be up later.

Monday, September 27, 2010

He's Listening

Our friend Mary is one of the most giving people I've ever known. She and her husband Jim are a great team that have gone the extra mile for people so many times it's just become who they are. They're followers of Jesus. That doesn't mean they haven't been visited with heartbreak and loss, just that they know they're not alone in it and that their God is doing what He promised to do - work it all together for good.

Mary's had a gaping hole in her heart for over 50 years. When still a little girl, her mom went away, never to return. It could have turned Mary into a bitter person, but it did just the opposite. Mary's a great mom and Grandmom. She's there for her kids even when it's beyond tough.

Still, it hurt. How could a Mom do that? Mary's been wondering that all these years.

Well, God was at work, and last week Mary had a tidal wave of grace break over her.

She found out that her Mom was alive and living in a small town in France. Then she was able to speak with her by phone. Mary found out she has a baby brother she's never met, and that her Mom was looking for her and her brothers too. Soon, Mary and her brothers will journey to France to reunite as a family.

Friends, maybe you've given up on something, but that doesn't mean God has. Maybe you've even stopped praying about it. Doesn't mean God's forgotten it. From your heart to God's ears. Keep believing. Keep praying. Keep living the life of someone who is wholly and dearly loved.

God just might have something for you that you never could have imagined.

He has never let you down,

never looked the other way

when you were being kicked around.

He has never wandered off to do his own thing;

He has been right there, listening.
Psalms 22:24 (MSG)

Grace and peace,


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hey David, What Have You Been Reading Lately?

It's been a while since I posted on what I've been reading and what's sitting on ready. Basically I read an awful lot during the week directly related to the Bible and its historical context. Then I read current information that might help me connect the truth from the Scriptures to life today. That goes on all week and what I'm reading might bear directly on this week, or it may be for a sermon or series that I'm working on for later.

God gave me the ability to read very quickly and retain a great deal of what I read. Then He gave me the tools of today and off I went.There are times though that I read outside my major focus - for information and for pleasure. It's amazing how often I read a blog post or hear about something and go off to find out more. Or Sean leaves a book around and I pick it up after he gets through with it.

And that's how I wound up with "The Hobbit" by Tolkien.
Having read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as the The Silmarillion, I realize I'm way late to this book. That said, it was warm, engaging, and a great story in its own right. The "back-story" of Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves was just as good as the Rings books were. Really liked it.

I finished a really good book earlier in the week called "The Unforgiving Minute - A Soldier's Education by Craig M. Mullarney. It traces his education from West Point, through his Rhodes Scholar experience at Oxford,Ranger School, and as a young platoon leader in Afghanistan. In each venue, he is tested and learns a little bit more about himself and life. I've always had an interest in the military and of course am a pastor in a military community, but I was drawn to the book by the title.

"The Unforgiving Minute" for the author takes place in Afghanistan when his patrol is under attack by the Taliban. One of his troops was killed by small arms fire and the action and the aftermath tear at his soul. I live with the knowledge that what I do as a pastor touches eternity. And I am not perfect. The "what if?" question is a part of my life too. Mullarney comes away changed but stronger. That's my goal too. Good book for people interested in leadership, in the education of a professional soldier.

We have an opportunity at our church to be God's agent of change for some neighborhood boys. They're rough, and at times disruptive. They can try your patience and then turn around the next minute and grab your heart. We all want to see God become first in their lives and our brief snippets of their lives don't seem to provide much influence. So I've been looking for help. Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors and has just written a book that's part a raw view into his own experience as a boy without a father and part call to action. I'm almost through with it - should finish it tonight - and it's both sad and encouraging.

It's a great book.

Up next:

My parents both worked in Willingham Cotton Mill in Macon, GA. Most of their families did too. I was born in a mill village shotgun house. So the stories in this book should resonate with me. Rick Bragg writes Southern about as well as anyone alive right now so it should be a treat.

And I'm beginning a study of the Psalms for a sermon series coming up.

What are you reading?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Church - Just the right place to be wrong

On a morning that dawned, or rather clouded and rained, I spent some time waiting for a friend to undergo a procedure. As I watched the people come and go, it dawned on me that there were way too many people with problems in that place. It seemed like every person that came to the sign in desk had something wrong with them and needed help.

And as I watched the staff try to help them, I wondered just how much all this was costing someone - the person, or their insurance, or the taxpayers. The place was real nice. Did they have to spend all that on TV's for the waiting room? That coffee maker over there - it must have cost a bunch. All those machines in the back, those tests, the professionals - my head was swimming just thinking about it.

About that time a young woman came by in a wheelchair, surrounded by family. She was carrying in her arms a newborn baby. On a dark and rainy day, her smile and of all those around her, brightened us all.

Then followed an older woman, also being wheeled outside, whose husband walked beside her in pride and happiness, as if he were escorting a queen. From the looks they shared, he was.

It made me stop and consider just what that place was all about. Even though everyone entering had something that needed care, or something that was wrong with them, it was okay, because they were in just the right place to be wrong.

Reminded me of Church.

Romans 3:12 (Msg)
They've all taken the wrong turn;
they've all wandered down blind alleys.
No one's living right;
I can't find a single one.

Everyone that comes through the doors of a church has one thing in common with everyone else. There's something wrong with them. Oh, the maladies may be wildly different, but in the end they are the same. The one who just got there to the one whose been there 50 years. The one who stands up front and preaches, to the one who sits on the back row and sleeps. Lots of time, energy and money are used to create and maintain a place for the sole use of people who cannot seem to ever be cured - they still do things wrong.

That's okay, because all of them are in just the right place to be wrong, if they want to get better. God has whispered a diagnosis, prescribed a treatment, and in order to really get cured, they need to get close enough, regularly enough to be exposed to His love, until it becomes theirs.

Hypocrites? Sure. But trying to get better. Will they take other wrong turns? Absolutely. But they've stopped by to get directions. They're on their way to getting better.

A church like New Hope is just the right place to be wrong. Come and see what it feels like to be loved no matter what.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Makes You Come Alive?

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Harold Whitman

"I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full." -Jesus


What are you doing that makes you feel not just alive, but reborn?

One thing we're trying to exhibit as part of our DNA at New Hope is service to Jesus through love for people. Locally and globally. Across all age groups.

You'll be amazed at how alive you feel when you are serving God in that way.

Even if you are not yet a follower of Christ.

So come and walk with us on the journey.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Am FURIOUS - Arlington Cemetary Outrages

Certain jobs have sacred responsibilities. Every time I stand before people and proclaim God's Word, I do so knowing that eternity is in the balance. My role is to be faithful to my charge and do everything to the best of my ability.

In our nation, there are jobs which carry responsibilities that are sacred to the ethos of the nation - to what we hold dear - beyond price - of incalculable value. One of those jobs would be taking care of Arlington Cemetery. The men and women that are buried there -many of whom gave "their last full measure of devotion" on the battle field to quote Lincoln - deserve the same full devotion to preserving their resting place and their memory.

Recent revelations began as a trickle. Discarded headstones. Delayed implementation of computerized databases. Then it got worse - confusion about who was buried where.

It has now led to this. Click on the link if you choose to be shocked, saddened, and outraged. But I'm warning you, what you read there will make you sick.

If I were the Chief of Staff of the Army, I'd be out there personally with the Old Guard and ushering those who don't grasp what Arlington means to America out the gates at bayonet point to waiting police cars on their way to Leavenworth. Might be time to call or email your Congressman and Senators, and all you who served, can't you get the VFW and American Legion on this?

Updated link of Salon magazine article

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sno-cones at Lewis' Relay For Life

According to John Anderson, we gave away over 225 free sno-cones this morning at Lewis School in support of their Relay for Life Race/Walk. I think every member of the NWFSC baseball team had at least one. Maybe we can get "official NWFSC Baseball sno-cone" status. :)

John, Amy and Ian Anderson along with the always smiling Diane Weech served outside, and Frank Weech and I served inside. We stood behind our Water Project - "Bring the Change - Make A Change" display and explained how New Hope's heart is bent toward drilling a well in Africa with the "Water Project" organization.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

David Wilson - Cat Herder :)

Just was looking at who had come here to the blog lately and saw that someone from Canada had arrived by searching for "david wilson cat herder." If you could have seen my grin.:) I may break out into a stirring rendition of "O Canada" any minute. Thanks visitor from our friends up north, you made my day. And now, the commercial that started it all

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

God Knows

Went to bed last night and thanked God for the day and all His blessings and laid my head on the pillow. That's all I remembered until awakened by the Airedale gang at 6:15 in that insistent, not to be ignored, raise your blood pressure way they have. An Airedale standing over you, the other one pulling the covers off the bed - that's an incentive to get up.

So I let them out, and they did their thing and came back in and we all went back to bed for a little while. This is Tuesday, and it's a day of preparation - reading and studying, touching base with people, band practice later in the evening. Pretty laid back unless something happens, but that's just the way this job works. I laid back down and could not sleep. My mind would not calm down, and it took me to places I'd just as soon not go. Anxieties, fears and doubts flooded my mind and I began to pray that God would remind me that I'm His - that I operate in His strength - through His wisdom - that nothing could separate me from His love - that He was ever present and ever aware and had not changed. I prayed hard and peace came and by that time almost an hour had past. Never did get back to sleep. But I did resume thanking God.

Just a few minutes later Bunny received a text from Amy Anderson - friend, coworker for Christ, amazing teacher, great wife and mom. She wanted Bunny to pass along that her son (and our heart friend) Ian Anderson had prayed for "Brother David and people like him" this morning. 

God knows, friends. God knows. And in His Spirit, He spreads out this load we bear, and the opportunity for every single one of us to be a part of His loving response and help. When Bunny relayed that, I smiled on the outside but on the inside my soul reverberated with praise and thanksgiving. For Ian. For his parents who have brought him up to be sensitive to God and to follow Jesus.

Maybe I'm writing this today because you need to hear it. You are the "other people like him." Well, consider yourself  loved and cared for. Maybe no one else knows what you are going through.

God knows, and He's letting you know right now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday Recap Sept 12, 2010

Any time a pastor is led to open the Bible and teach on one of the "submission" passages, it brings the same sort of pleasure as exhibited above. Yes, it's great to be able to help people see God's plan for marriage and not what people have twisted it to supposedly mean. But it's like tap dancing in a minefield.

Knowing your congregation doesn't help. Just makes you more aware of the mines. But pastors need to suck it up and preach the Bible for all its worth. We have to make sure that we give people a chance to see what God intended marriage to be. Too many times people let friends or the culture set the narrative for their marriage.

 The synopsis? Marriage can only be what God designed it to be if each person has died to self and placed Jesus at the center of everything they do.

Our worship set yesterday was:
Today Is the Day
You, You Are God
O Worship the King
Unfailing Love

- Thought it went pretty well. We were down some with several folks out of town but also enjoyed our visitors.
- Still enjoying teaching the High School guys. They are pretty sharp.
- Maybe the lack of donuts and coffee before Sunday School helped, I don't know. :)
- We really have to fix the A/C breaker flipping issue. I noticed that the congregation gets unruly when heated. :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Outside Looking In - The Wrong Window

 Not at New Hope!

 I started scanning an article on the Daily News website that was comparing the area's support of dogs and cats through shelters and the lack of the same for homeless people. The writer made her case that something seemed wrong in an area where there was such an outpouring of caring for animals, but over ten years, despite numerous attempts, no homeless shelter has been built. Then she wrote:

"a network of churches shelters the homeless when temperatures drop below 40 degrees. Churches also have cobbled together a feeding program" -Wendy Victora of the Daily News

A commenter then wrote
"Wow, how very humane that the area churches can help on occasion. Otherwise, they're to busy using their tax free funds to build more church stuff, buy more property (taking off the tax rolls), and go to retreats. A real caring lot those church going folks."

That's the view from the outside I guess, but he's looking in the window of the wrong kind of church.
There are times when it feels like the mission we are on at New Hope is completely out of step with what the majority of churches in our area are seeking after. Yes, we have buildings, and a mortgage. But that writer should come and see how we agonize over spending money on anything other than our mission. Every time we think about the two A/C units that went out earlier in the year, we put their cost in this context - "we could have drilled two wells with that money." Two wells that would have supplied 2000 people with clean water and lowered their chance of water-borne disease. We had to replace them - people in Florida expect to be cooled at church - but it spoke volumes that we counted the cost in a different way that most.

We send out every penny we can to those the Bible refers to as "the least of these."

And we are a blue collar church, a smaller church in a small community that's shrinking and may shrink more with the F-35 noise abatement issues. One employee - me. I wear many hats, and my wife some more. We serve alongside other people who volunteer their time and give their money to make a difference for God locally, in the States, and around the world. They "do something!" to change this world.

We've helped Love146 , The Water Project , From HIV To Home, Africa Bags, and more outside of the disaster relief, hunger help, and other activities funded by our participation in the SBC. Our members sponsor kids in the Compassion and World Vision programs, and one class also supports the Amazima orphanage in Uganda. We've sent Buckets of Hope to Haiti, and our girls program Child2Child has been more active in more ways that most churches as a whole are. Blankets to the Navajo elders, formula to orphanages, stainless steel bowls to Haitians, those are just a few of the projects they have taken on. They actually kicked the whole church into high gear and we haven't let up. During Thanksgiving week, we'll be challenging each other to eat rice and beans at each meal and give the money we would have spent to the drilling of a well. Does that sound like we don't care?

It's cost us to be this kind of church. We don't measure with the same metric as most other churches do. We don't follow the same consumerist path. As a result, we're not nearly as visible, and frankly not as attractive to people who want to come in and observe and be cared for as opposed to our "Do Something!" method of operation where all of us - children, youth and aged - new believers and older saints - work together to love and serve. It ain't about us - it's about Jesus. Our growth has been slow and at times unsteady. Our finances - well, let's just say my prayer life has been strengthened. But I want the writer of that comment as well as those who may share his views to know - there's a church that isn't on a mission to buy and build. We're on a mission to share and to love.

I keep thinking and praying to God that one day we'll see people like the writer decide to look for a church that really is trying - with all our imperfections not withstanding - to give and to serve - to sacrifice to help those who need it. We've got room. The writer should know he's just looking through the wrong window. We'd love to do more. Maybe he could come and give us some ideas. Or maybe he could come and help.

How about you?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When You Miss the Chance To Change

They listened to his heart.
Little - less - nothing! - and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

(from Out, out, by Robert Frost)

It's the anniversary of one of the worst events to befall my generation. The attacks on America that beautiful day in September were a shock to our collective soul. For a while, we rallied - uniting as a people against the hate that would drive some to spend their life's blood as casually as a coin tossed in a fountain. For a time, we cared - cared about those killed, cared about those wounded, cared about doing something about the evil that spawned such hate.

For a while we stepped back and considered just how brief a life we have.

We even thought about God.

Then, since we weren't personally affected, we went back to the mall, back to the web and TV, back to our American lives.

Because life goes on.
Because that's what we do.
Because it's hard to focus on what really matters and exclude the trivial.
It's hard to truly change.

That's not a new development.

19 As they left, a religion scholar asked if he could go along. "I'll go with you, wherever," he said. 20 Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know." 21 Another follower said, "Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father's funeral to take care of." 22 Jesus refused. "First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life." Matt 8:19-22 (MSG)

Harsh, isn't it?

You'd have to look further into the culture to realize that what's happening here is that the religion scholar wants to place a down payment on salvation rather than putting himself fully into Jesus' care. His father almost certainly wasn't dead - grieving people did not go to public gatherings like this one. His father might have lived for 10-20 more years. Jesus was challenging the man to decide right now to follow Him - no hesitation - nothing held back. He wanted the man 100% personally invested in a changed life.

Jesus first today. Jesus first tomorrow. Jesus first everyday of your life.

Can you do that?

It goes against everything this culture tells you - against everything you've learned. You've been trained to be superficial. To gradually go back to the way you were before the world changed - before you changed.

Decide to follow Him. Not just one time down the church's aisle, but everyday.

Don't miss this chance to change.

Friday, September 10, 2010

One Minute From Eternity - Decide Now

They had just met a few hours earlier. (LA Times story)

One had just come in country, the other was just about to leave. In terms of where they were placed on the official chain of command, no one would have noticed them. A corporal, a lance corporal.

But where they stood on that day was with the greats.

The day started out normally for any marine on security detail, with Cpl. Jonathan Hale explaining how to run a checkpoint - what to look for, how to handle the flow and the traffic to Lance Corporal Jordan Haeter. Only minutes had passed since the two had met as the sun rose over Ramadi.

Suddenly the two spotted a Mercedes truck coming through the winding lanes of the security barriers. They yelled at it to stop, and waved at the driver to tell him to slow down. But the truck, laden with over 2,000 pounds of explosives, and its driver wired to a switch that would detonate them even if he were killed, sped up.

The Iraqi police who were the first line of defense cut and ran.

The two Marines engaged the truck as it barreled toward them - Hale with his machine gun, Haeter with his M-16. Before the truck was able to make it into the base, it exploded, leaving a crater 5 feet deep and 20 feet across - flattening a house and a mosque nearby.

When the dust settled, Haeter was dead and Yale mortally wounded. 30 others were wounded, but the dozens of Marines and Iraqis who were inside the base were unharmed.

The commanding general of all Marines in Iraq, Gen. Kelly, personally investigated the attack, and when he viewed the security tape, there he saw the two Marines, put together minutes before, standing as brothers firing at the truck headed directly toward them. As the tape rolled you can see the others running for safety, but the two Marines were faithful unto death. They were awarded the Nary Cross posthumously.

When do you think the two men who gave up their lives for their friends made that decision? Was it done in that moment?

Or was it when they made the decision to serve their nation by becoming a United States Marine?

Friends, what kind of decision did you make when you decided to follow Jesus? Did you decide that no matter what happened in the future - you were going to follow Him?

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.
John 15:12-13 (NLT)

Will you be ready when the time comes to live out what you say you believe in - like those Marines?
Will you deny yourself and pour out your life as an offering out of love for the One who gave His life for you?
Right now, you are moments from eternity.
Are you ready? Always Faithful?
Decide now.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

On those Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

There was a book I read a few years ago, a children's book called " Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" . In it the authors presented a day in the life of Alexander, a young boy whose day just turned out badly.

It happens to all of us.

And how we react can help us get a grip on just how much we reflect the character of God.

1 In early spring the people of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried.2 There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people blamed Moses and said, "We wish we had died in the LORD's presence with our brothers! 4 Did you bring the LORD's people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? 5 Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, figs, grapes, or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!" Num 20:1-5 (NLT)

Moses buried his sister Miriam at the place when his greatest disappointment as a leader had taken place. Kadesh was where the people of Israel refused to trust God to deliver the promised land to them. So God sent them away, into the wilderness for 38 years. A place with bad memories just got worse.
Moses has heard an unending murmur of criticism and rebellion from the people - for 38 years! He had interceded with God again and again for them. And today was just another Groundhog day, as the people complained like they had the day before. At least he could go to God and know that God would be mad at the people too.


Moses and Aaron went to meet with God. His glorious presence appeared and instead of wrath, God granted the people's request. Instead of affirming Moses, God told him to go and bless the people with water for themselves and their livestock. Moses wasn't pleased. He did as he was told, but can you tell anything about his attitude from what he said once he assembled the people?

"Listen, you rebels!" he shouted. "Must we bring you water from this rock?" Num 20:10 (NLT)

Uh, Moses. "We?"

Got a frog in your pocket? Big Queen Elizabeth fan? Too big for the little people?

God is the author of miracles, not Moses. He alone deserves the glory. Then Moses compounds his error by not speaking to the rock, but striking it with his staff. The people never realized Moses had sinned. They got their water and God got the glory. But Moses knew that he had deliberately disobeyed God.

Moses left God's presence that day and decided he'd do what God told him, but he'd do it his own way. Did the people deserve God's grace? NO. They were classic gripers and complainers sired by a previous generation of gripers and complainers.

Here's the deal though.

There's only one way to obey God, and that's to obey His instructions.

When we have a bad day, when we are stressed, stretched and strained to our limits - we do NOT get a free pass from God. He expects us to obey when every thing's going well, and obey when everything is not.

And even though people might see us doing things that would seem to say that we are a person following Jesus closely, our heart and attitude may very well reveal that we aren't doing them for God at all, but for the praise of people.

Moses had an opportunity that day to show that God was Holy, set apart, beyond all human ability. Instead of pronouncing God's grace, he shouted in his anger, and assumed credit that wasn't his.

It was a bad day for Moses.

So how do we guard against such behavior?

On those days when you are being pushed to your limit, by work, by people, by whatever - pray!!! pray for God's peace, for His heart, for His wisdom. If you look at the situation and see it as beyond your ability to bear, then confess that weakness to God and let His strength flow through you. Rely on His power, made perfect in your weakness.

Moses was a person just like we are, with a faith that had to fight its way through everyday life. He had lots of successes in his walk with God, but on this one day he let his own emotions lead him out of God's will.

Guard your heart friends. Guard your heart.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sunday Recap Sept 5th

Was led to take a break from Colossians and look at Jesus' interaction with the Pharisees in Luke 14 Sunday.

Had a great worship set with: Everlasting God, Mighty To Save, Revelation Song, and Come Home Running.

Great to have David and Susan Hess from Savannah with us in worship. They were down on an Anniversary vacation and dropped in.

Really great vibe Sunday.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sam the Airedale needs a forever home

Got a call this morning from the Florida Airedale rescue group. Sunshine Airedales is dedicated to promoting and protecting Airedales in our state, and are part of a network of breed specific rescues across the nation. Cindy Trumble is the president of the group and called to ask a favor - there was an Airedale listed near to me, and they had no one near enough to go check him out. So I said I'd be glad to.

Sam the Airedale had been found wandering on the beach by a couple vacationing down here. He was emaciated, his fur was so matted they had to shave him, but was so friendly that they felt they had to help him. So they took him to a local shelter. I had been there before. Great people, sad place for so many dogs. But today I had a reason - to see if Sam was indeed an Airedale.

And he most definitely is.

sam the airedale

So if anyone out there is up to the challenges and the joys of Airedale ownership, I can put you in touch with the people you need to talk to. Better hurry though - Sam is the class of that shelter for sure. :)

The Rest of the Story - Abraham

Paul Harvey - didn't you love him? - used to do a 5 minute spot on the radio called "The Rest of the Story" where he would let you in on something that had happened to a person and then provide the background that REALLY let you know what happened. You'd be familiar with the opening part, thinking you knew everything about the event or person, but there'd always be a twist - a surprise - at the end and you'd hear that awesome voice say  "And now you know… the rest of the story."

Well, I don't have Paul Harvey's voice - you'll have to supply that out of your memory banks. But here's something I think Paul would approve of.

The story of Abraham is one of the greatest and most central to all of the Bible. Great drama, right? Abram leaves family, home, culture and religion to follow Yahweh to "a place I will show you." Due to his obedience,  God promises to bless Him, and ultimately does. In a moment - "the rest of the story."

Human beings have a habit of projecting sainthood backwards when they read the Bible. They'll read the New Testament and see how Abraham was held up as an example of someone who lived his life by faith. Very true. He had AMAZING faith. "Go to a place I will show you..." faith. "Take your son, your only son Isaac..." faith.

But that faith grew over time. Abraham made decisions out of faith, but he wasn't a statue. He had the same feelings and even frustrations that we do today. We forget that.

So I'm reading the verse below prepping for small group last night.

And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise.
Heb 6:15 (HCSB)

Sounds like a saint, right? Waited 25 YEARS for God to fulfill His promise to give Abraham and Sarah a son. Waited patiently.

The word chosen for "patiently" has the original meaning of something that does a slow BURN.

That doesn't take away from the faith Abraham had in waiting 25 years and faithfully following God all the while. But it does make him.... wait for it..... HUMAN!

And now you know, the rest of the story. :)