You Can’t Understand Until…

There’s an old adage that states you shouldn’t judge a person till you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  There is a reason people say that… it’s true.  I’m going to give a few situations for you to think about, then a Bible thought or two…

Until someone in your family goes through the pain of a broken marriage, you don’t know how you would react.  Until someone in your family has a chemical addiction that destroys their life, you don’t know what you would do.  Unless you have been told by a physician you or a loved one has the “C” word, you don’t know how you’d respond.  Until someone close to you leaves this life for the next, how grief will effect you is unknown.

Sooner or later every one of us will encounter a situation that will bring us to our knees (A position to pray).  Eventually life will press down with such force so as to make us look up because God is our only hope.  Even those of us who are the strongest emotionally, physically, and spiritually can get depressed and feel like giving up and even ask God to end it all.

Aside: Consider Jonah’s request for God to end his life as found in Jonah 4:3.  Elijah also had the same request of God as found in 1 Kings 19:3-5 as did Job in Job 3:3-26.  Wanting God to take drastic steps to end our pain and suffering is not a sin, but taking steps to bring an end to suffering is.

Now for a few passages of encouragement and hope…

  Psalm 103:13-18, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are (but) dust.  As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and it’s place remembers it no more.  But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children… with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

  Isaiah 42:3-4,A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking wick He will not snuff out.  In faithfulness He will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged till He establishes justice on earth.  In His law the islands will put their hope.”

Those are verses for us to remember during difficult times about God’s faithfulness to us.  Now for two passages for us to be of help and encouragement when others are struggling…

  2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

  Galatians 6:2,Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.”

None of us knows what we will face tomorrow, but this is promised to every believer from God… He will not allow anything to come into our life that we cannot handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).  It might be tough… we might think we’re about to perish… we may even ask God in our desperation for things of desperation.  But His promise is to provide, protect, sustain, help, and encourage us!

Concluding thought.  No matter how tough it is, you can’t go it alone!  You need God AND you need other believers.  Not only that, others can’t make it without God and without you.  So when you see someone in need of help and/or encouragement… be there for them.  Encourage them and build them up as God has done for you in the past. 

 

Our Plans, God’s Plans

In Proverbs 16:9 it is written, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Don’t ever forget that!  You and I can make all the plans we want, but bottom line, God’s will is what will prevail every time.

This past week is a good example in my life.  Last Sunday after church I planned out the next two weeks of activities I would be engaged in regarding family, church, study, and ministry.  We would have Huntely Brown coming to give a concert, many games to attend, a lot of things to do to prepare for a prospective Worship Leader presentation.  In my mind I mapped out all that I would be having to do… but then came Monday.

I had a big flare up of my gallbladder.  I was hospitalized and after two days it was determined it would have to come out.  Thanks to a contact through my sister in law with a surgeon in Huntsville, we went on Thursday to have the procedure done.  But due to complications, what is usually a same day procedure became a three day hospital stay.  And as a result all my plans were out the window.  I found myself at the mercy of a sick and infected gallbladder, medication, and a longer than expected recuperation.

The lesson for me?  I can plan my life, but bottom line the Lord is in control.  It is at that point I have to determine who know what is better for me… Me or God?  And of course the answer is God.  I was reminded of another passage found in James 4:13-16…

  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.

Could I suggest that we all… every one of us… take a step back and realize just how fragile life is?  Could we stop and think for a moment that maybe… just maybe… God has something in mind for us that is NOT what we have in mind?  And then should we not have the faith to trust that WHATEVER God has for us is ultimatley much better that anything our plans are?

Yes… my plans were upset.  But on the other hand, I don’t know what God did (Or will do) as a result of this past week… yet.  I must trust Him and keep James 4:13-16 in mind whenever I make plans… that IF GOD WILLS I will do this or that.  Otherwise I am being presumptive and arrogant.

Was this past week fun?  No… not by a long shot!  Was it God’s will?  Of course it was!  Can I reconcile the two in my mind?  Not yet… but by faith I’ll trust that God is good and everything He does is for His glory and my ultimate good.

Take a while… evaluate your plans and the turns they take… then consider that God may be doing something you are not yet aware of.  If you’re confused, pray James 1:5, “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives (understanding) to all men liberally.”  And consider this, if you aren’t given understanding it means that God in His infinite and perfect wisdom has determined you don’t need to understand… or else you would understand!

Special thanks to Pam, Amy, Trey, Britton, Pace, Beth, and Brad!  You all are the most special people in my life and I love you all.  Another special thank you to all of WABC who prayed for me this week!

“It’s got to come out…”

Brad told me two weeks ago about my gall bladder, “It’s going to have to come out.  But we can talk later unless you have a flare up.”  Well… I had a flare up and it’s coming out! 

I have made a quick stop here at the house on my way to Hunstville for the procedure.  This little note is to thank all of you for praying for me since this past Monday when it started causing problems.  Now just pray that everything will “come out” okay and I’ll be able to be there for Huntley Brown’s concert Sunday night.

These last few days have given me a chance to ruminate for a while & I have a few things to post when I get back… God willing.

Huntley Brown In Concert (WABC)

  Huntley Brown will be at Woodward Avenue Baptist Church (God willing) January 28th at 6:00 PM.  He will be playing a few songs during the morning worship service and giving a full concert that evening (It’s free!).  I can’t tell you how excited I am about him coming!  Personally, I put Dino on par with Huntley.  Take a look at all the CDs he has and their different styles by clicking here.

  Huntley’s music ministry has taken him all over the world, with TV, radio and concert appearances in Canada, England, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, Italy, St Vincent, Barbados, Bahamas, St Marten, among many others. In the states, he has performed from coast to coast, with ministry opportunities at churches of every size and denomination.

  You can read his biography by clicking this link.  His life story is interesting and unique.  He grew up in Jamaica and learned to play the piano by imitating his brothers.  When Huntley came to the United States he enrolled at Judson College in Elgin, Illinois where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance. He then went on to Northern Illinois University, where he earned a master’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy.

Huntley performed two times at the church I served prior to coming to WABC.  Both times there was great excitement and all those in attendance were blessed.  He plays just about any style you can imagine… does them well for the glory of God… and has more fun doing it than you can imagine.  Not only that, he has a wonderful personality and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you attend his concert because the one thing Huntely wants to do is glorify our God.

UPDATE 1/31/07!  The concert was a huge success with several hundred in attenedance.  The mood of the night was worshipful and everyone I have heard from enjoyed the evening of worship and celebration.  I couldn’t help but include a picture I had taken with Huntley with my family.  God willing, I think we might try to bring him back to Muscle Shoals again next year if we can find an open date.

Personal note to Huntley… Bless you man!  Our God used you to encourage us and lift our hearts in praise to God.

Virtual Trip To Israel (Ray Pritchard)

Several years ago I was blessed to be able to go to The Holy Land as a gift from a number of people at the church where I served.  It was one of the highlights of my life and something I reflect upon regularly.  That was the set up, now for the pay off…

  My friend Dr. Ray Pritchard is presently in Israel and is writing about his trip.  Many reading this may not be able to go there themselves… but you can take a virtual tirp to Israel by reading about his experiences.  I encourage you to do this by clicking on the following link… Virtual Trip To Israel With Ray Pritchard.

  P.S.  Dr. Pritchard will be coming to deliver God’s Word to WABC on April 15th if the Lord wills.  Reading about his travels might give you a contact point with him before he worships with us.

157, 65, 280 – 280, 65, 157

If you’re wondering what those numbers mean, they are the highways I traveled recently as I went from Muscle Shoals to Columbus, GA and back again to see my 92 year old Grandmother in the Hospital.  The trip takes 4 3/4 hours… one way… to complete.  And I treasure the solitude those 4 3/4 hours gave me.  Let me explain…

  I had time… alone… by myself… to reflect, meditate, and ruminate.  Just me and God for 4 3/4 hours… TWICE between Wednesday and today (Friday).  During that time I got to listen to 8 (!) messages from one of my favorite preachers (Dr. Tim Keller).  I also had plenty of time to worship by listening to several CDs with songs that led me to the foot of the cross and reminded me to look up for the return of The LORD.  Then I had time just to be quiet and hear from God (No voices… just gentle whispers).

  As a result when I got back to the office Friday (About an hour ago), I had notes to transcribe that I had written while driving and getting flashes of ideas to follow up on.  I take them to be proddings from my Savior.  And now for the lesson…

  YOU need time ALONE with Jesus (Just like me)!  You ARE too busy… running around like a head with your chicken cut off (I wrote it that way on purpose).  You wake up going full speed, rarely slow down during the day, and then collapse every evening.  As a result you miss the burning bushes God places along your path.  As a result of that, you don’t hear God whispering in your ear.  As a result of missing time with God, you wonder why you don’t experience God in a greater way… why there are so many emotional struggles you can’t get your arms around… and why it seems God is so distant when you need Him in times of crisis.

Don’t rationalize it by saying you give God “quality” time, because you can’t have quality time without QUANTITY time with Him (Slow down and read that sentence again… twice).  The ONLY way you can get to know God better is by spending more than a minute here and there with Him.  Trust me… on this I know what I’m talking about!

Is it hard to find the time?  Of course it is.  Is it worth finding the time?  Do I really have to answer that one?  And don’t say “I don’t have the time…” because you DO!  It all depends on what you decide to do with the time you have.  “Everyone does what they want to do, then they find a reason or excuse for doing it.”

It is written in Mark 6:31,Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Is that Jesus I hear calling…?

The End Of The World?

From Fox News… 

“The end of the world may be drawing a bit closer.  Scientists on Wednesday changed the time on Chicago’s Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight, or the apocalypse, based on what they said is the “most perilous period since Hiroshima and Nagasaki… Scientists based their decision on countries increasingly seeking nuclear technology, the United States’ and Russia’s ability to readily launch 2,000 of their 25,000 nuclear weapons, as well as threats posed by global warming, bioterrorism and an overall increase in worldwide terrorism, the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said in a press release.  It is now five to midnight.”

You can read the whole article from Fox News about The Doomsday Clock.  (Make sure to watch the video linked at the end of this post.)

If we believed the secular news media, we’re about to destroy ourselves as a species.  That’s why the news about The Doomsday Clock is making such a stir.  And if we believed people like Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsey, and John Hagee, the antichrist is most certainly alive now… bar codes are the mark of the beast… and Armageddon is sure to commence soon.

How are we to understand the prognostications of scientists in Chicago and alarmist preachers about current events?  Well, my opinion is no better than theirs (Meaningless), however God does have something to say.  So consider these passages whenever you hear people say “The End Is Near!”

Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.  Above Him were angels… calling to on another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.”  (In other words… God is still on His throne!  No matter what happens that upsets the nations, God is not bothered and remains in complete control… thus He’s still seated.)

Matthew 24:3-6  As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”  Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will decieve many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come…”  (In other words… no matter what happens in this world and no matter how alarmed others might be {Thus the Doomsday Clock}, Christians are NOT TO BE ALARMED.)

I don’t care if scientists in Chicago and Europe set their clock to 11:59:59 PM and say that the apocalypse will begin at midnight.  I will choose to believe Jesus and not be alarmed!

Matthew 24:36 No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day our Lord will come.

In keeping with Matthew 24:40 watch this video about what part of the rapture might be like.  Rapture VideoMatthew 24:27  “As lightning comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…”