Friday, January 29, 2010

SAVE THE TREE

TREES

by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

      THINK that I shall never see
      A poem lovely as a tree.
      A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
      Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
      A tree that looks at God all day,
      And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
      A tree that may in Summer wear
      A nest of robins in her hair;
      Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
      Who intimately lives with rain.
      Poems are made by fools like me,
      But only God can make a tree.

Don't worry. I haven't become a tree hugger, but I do think trees are great additions to God's creation.

I have visited the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forrest close to Robbinsville, NC. It is a beautiful forrest and makes for a lovely walk. God makes trees and Kilmer's poem Trees is a wonderful tribute to God's glorious creation.

But I have a sick tree in my back yard. We are treating it with tender loving care and hoping that we can bring it back from death's door. Trees take a long time to grow to offer shade from the summer's heat and piercing rays. This tree blocks the sun from our backyard deck late in the afternoons to make our deck even more enjoyable.

I am praying for this tree for health and healing. God cares about sparrows and lilies and me. I believe He cares about trees too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FAMILY PRAYER

One of the highlights of my day is our morning family devotions. Wanda and have gone through two devotional books for couples and now we are into a third devotional book that isn't couple focused. They are all good books and have blessed our marriage and lives.

Typically after a delicious breakfast which Wanda prepares, with some help from me, then I read from the devotional book. After a few brief moments of discussion and reflection, we join hands and pray.

I take the lead and pray for Wanda and the needs she may have. I pray for God's blessing over her and for His strength, wisdom, and guidance for all she does. I pray for personal renewal in my life and ask God for His direction and help. Then we turn our thoughts in prayer to our children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and church family. We pray for our Nation and President and our next door neighbors. We pray for missionaries that we support and for others that God puts into our hearts.

After beginning the day with acknowledging God and worshipping Him and asking for His help, then we are ready for the day to go forward. Our devotions unite us as a couple and prepare us for the rigors of life, ministry, and everyday issues.

Family prayer is still the glue that holds families together. When we join hands in prayer, it unites our hearts in pure and powerful ways. Prayer works. It is working in our lives.

Do you know where I learned to have family prayer?

Glad you asked.

My parents taught me to pray in family prayer as I grew up.

Do you know where my parents learned about family prayer?

Guess.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A BLOWN FUSE


Do you believe in providential delays?

Well, I do. I cannot fully explain them all, but sometimes unexpected delays have unknown consequences. Again, I cannot explain it, but God directs our lives and I believe He allows divine interruptions for our good.

Friday, Wanda and I experienced one of those delays. We had packed "Big Red", our honda goldwing motorcycle, and were headed to Mom and Dad's for a late Christmas. Ten minutes down the rode, I noticed that my speedometer and gas gauge were not working. We backtracked to a motorcycle shop to have the problem checked which came down to a blown fuse caused by a wiring shortage. It was going to take more time to repair than we had so we took our car instead.

It was really hard passing all the motorcycles enjoying the beautiful weather as we drove down and back. Over and over, we both shook our heads wishing we were bike riding. It was a gorgeous day and just perfect for a nice ride.

But, God knows and sometimes blown fuses are allowed as divine interruptions. Obviously I don't know if we were spared other bad problems or even an accident. I do know that I can rest in God knowing that He works all things together for our good.

Even blown fuses.

Friday, January 22, 2010

GREAT FRIENDS

For over fifteen years Mike and Dana Hammontree have led the music and worship ministry at Southside Assembly of God where I serve as pastor. They are outstanding talents and have used their gifts to glorify the Lord. Gifted, inspiring, and anointed are a few words that describe them.


But the word that I like to use to describe them most is friend. They are great friends. I have thoroughly enjoyed ministering with them and being their pastor, but those relationships fall second to the fact that there are my friends.

Over the seven years that I have had the privilege of working with them, we have never had one harsh word or major disagreement. They have honored me, respected me, and stood with me in the darkest days of my life. I will forever be grateful for their kindness to me.

This Sunday will be their last day of ministry with us as they are now moving toward a broadened traveling ministry in many churches to an even large audience. It will be a sad service in one way, but in another it will be a day of rejoicing. We will miss them as they go, but we will also be happy knowing that they are following God's direction. We will rejoice and be thankful for the tireless and sacrificial way they have served. We know that God is going to use them in an even greater ministry.

Their boys, Chad and Chase, have grown up at Southside. They are now fine young men have have helped their parents, their church, and their pastor too. I am very proud of them and what God is doing in their lives.

Great friends are not easy to find so I plan on working to keep the friendship with the Hammontree's alive and growing.

video

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WHAT ABOUT PRETENDING?

Just another brief thought about hypocrisy which I wrote about on the last post. Hypocrisy is easy to spot in others. It shows up so clearly in what someone else is doing, but hypocrisy is virtually impossible to self diagnosis.

It is similar to bad breath in that the last person to know about it is one who has it. Now that is getting really rather personal, but it is true. Then it become more complicated in that we don't want to admit the deadly sin. Then it gets worse in that it is really tough to clean the bad habit up.

The Apostle Peter was pretending that he was following Jewish traditions according to Paul's writing in Galatians 2. Actually Peter was eating with the Gentiles and letting the letter of The Law go when he was around the Gentiles, but with when the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem came Peter became a pretender. He acted like he was truly following the traditions of The Law when he really wasn't. He shunned the Gentiles and acted pious as he begin to hold to old traditions, but he was just pretending. He was living a lie.

That is the sin of hypocrisy. It is a sin of pretending to be one thing when really we are not.

Here is some good news.

We can clean our act up and get real. We can deal with our fleshly ways and come into the blessing of the sunshine. That is where life is. It is in The Light of the Son.

My prayer:

Lord remove pretense from my life. Help me to live openly and honestly without pretense or hypocrisy. Let your truth go deep into my most inner being. Be real in my and in my life. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Amen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

WHAT ABOUT HYPOCRISY?

Part of my message Sunday dwelt with hypocrites. I was amazed at Paul's writings in Galatians 2 in which he bluntly called the Apostle Peter a hypocrite. Now that is fairly strong word of accusation. Yet it was true.

Gal. 2: 11-13 reads in the NKJ:

"11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy."

Peter had been eating with the Gentiles until some of the leaders from Jerusalem came for a visit. Then Peter changed and reverted back to Jewish traditions of The Law and began demanding Jewish traditions be placed upon the Gentile believers. Paul called Peter to task for being hypocritical by living one way and then changing and putting unreasonable demands on the Gentiles when the Jerusalem leadership appeared. Peter was living the life of a pretender. He wasn't living up to the moral standards he was placing on others.

Peter was being hypocritical.

To be honest, I felt challenged by Paul's writings. If Peter was guilty of hypocrisy, then I wonder how often I am guilty too, not over the issues Peter struggled with but other things. After all , we are talking about the Apostle Peter.

Yes, hypocrisy still exists in the church and sometimes in the least expected places. Maybe we all need to take a close look at what we are doing and the inconsistencies of our lives. Maybe we won't judge others so much if we take a closer look at ourselves.

Friday, January 15, 2010

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Prayer makes things happen because God answers prayer.

Once, years ago, I called my father late at night when I was in college and was worried about college life. Apparently I woke him up from deep, sound sleep as it was well after midnight when I called.

He patiently listened to my needs and request for prayer and then asked me if I had prayed about the matter. Sadly, I admitted I hadn't prayed. All I had done was worry and fret. Dad prayed with me and then kindly suggested that I spend some time in the prayer effort.

That made an impact on me. I wanted others to pray about my need, but I had not put any effort to pray. I don't even remember now what the need was, but I do remember realizing that I needed to put effort in prayer. Sadly, many people think more about prayer and wanting others to pray than they actually spend in prayer themselves. That was my mistake.

That gentle nudge by Dad convicted me and changed me. My prayer life was never quite the same. Certainly we do need the prayers of family, friends, and the church, but we need to pray too.

So, what is it that you are worrying about? Have YOU prayed about it. Or are you as guilty as I was in wanting others to pray but not spending personal time praying over the need.

Well, here is the nudge. Make it happen now. Go to God now with your need. He can really make it happen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TRY SOMETHING NEW

New things are not always easy to do, adjust, and accept as norm. But all of us need to be open to new things, new ways of doing things, and better ways of normal functioning.

I enjoy faster, cheaper, and more effective ways of communication.

I'm glad that we're far beyond horse and buggy days.

I like all the different ways I can use my high definition TV.

Boredom comes from doing the same thing over and over in the same way. Different colors and styles in dress, and different hairdos, and different recipes, and different scenery all add spice to life and perk things up. Sometimes we need to add a new approach to prayer, Bible study, ministry, and even marriage relationships.

I'm trying something new. In fact I'm trying several new things. Can't list them all, but one is drinking coffee without sweetener. I like my coffee black and really sweet, but it's all black for now. It's stronger, bolder, and my palette is slowly adjusting to this new taste, but I'm beginning to like it.

Why this change? I'm leaving off sugars and sweeteners and going for a healthier approach.

Oh, and I'm trying something new.

Monday, January 11, 2010

BRRR, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE

It is cold in Sunny Florida.

How cold is it?

It is so cold that the "snow birds" didn't stop here.

It is so cold that Starbucks is serving coffee on a stick.

It is so cold that fireplaces in Florida are in vogue.

It is so cold that swimming pools could be turned into ice skating rinks.

It is so cold that I wonder why I moved South?

It is so cold that I've parked my Goldwing with no thoughts of riding right now.

It is so cold that if we had snow that the snowman wouldn't stay outside.

It is so cold that dogs are wearing cats.

It is so cold that grandpa's teeth are chattering....in the glass.

It is so cold that squirrels are throwing themselves against electric fences.

It is so cold that I wonder why in the world they could ever believe in global warming.

It is so cold that pickpockets were sticking their hands in stranger's pockets to keep them warm.I

But it wasn't cold in church on Sunday. The good news is that church was great. There was a warm spirit and hearts were ignited with new passion for God.

Wanda and I are staying inside and trying to get over colds and coughs.

This is Florida and the cold will be over soon.

Yeah!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

HOW SWEET IT IS !

Alabama won the National College Championship Thursday night against Texas 37-21.

How sweet it is. The Tide Rolled IN! Yeah Alabama! We are # 1.

It was a hard fought game even though Texas got way behind in the first half. but they came back and made it close until the last minutes of the game. Colt McCoy, the Texas outstanding quarterback, got hurt right at the beginning of the game and didn't get to play anymore which really hampered his team.

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I was impressed with his statements after the game. He still gave God glory even though he didn't get to play. Wow! That was an impressive moment to me.

Alabama rules, but Colt was a winner too.

Can you act like a winner when you lose? Colt did.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I GOT LOST

My Iphone GPS has some wonderful features, but sometimes it is hard to read, follow, or make heads or tails. That happened to me Tuesday morning as I had to get my car to a garage at a downtown location before work.

I looked up the repair shop on the GPS and headed off to drop the car for repairs. Wanda followed me and the next thing I know I'm speeding in heavy traffic up the ramp to I-95 needing to get over into the flow of traffic. That can be a hassle with morning work traffic. Wanda is behind me and does a good job of keeping up.

The next thing I know I'm in the wrong lane and can't change quick enough to get over to the correct lane to get me where I needed to go. Then I get dumped downtown going the wrong way and am trying to figure out how to go the right way with one-way streets all going the wrong way.

Get the picture.

Wanda is patiently following me around downtown as I am turning and turning and giving her the scenic view of some of the older buildings in Jacksonville. Finally, I stopped and called her on her cell.

Patiently, she asked, "Do you know where you're going?"

Apologetically, I weakly and meekly said, "I think so. I just missed my turn off I-95 and I am having a hard time finding my way to the shop."

Finally, after more turns and u-turns I made it to the shop and left the car. As I got into Wanda's car for her to take me to work, she remarked, "Men, they just can't stop for directions."

I sat there guilty.

Monday, January 4, 2010

IS CHRISTMAS OVER?

We're back home and ready to get into the groove for 2010. The Christmas Holidays have been great as we have have five different Christmas celebrations with our family and even more with our church family and friends. Actually, I have one stop yet to make in celebrating Christmas this year and that will be with my parents. That will happen in the next couple of weeks or so. Christmas isn't quite over yet at our house, I guess.

Wanda plans on getting our 11 Christmas trees down in the next couple of days as well as all the Christmas decorations. It will not be looking like Christmas here shortly. I will miss it. This has been a most wonderful Christmas Season.

So what will 2010 hold? God knows and that is why I am taking time to prioritize prayerfully for 2010. What is it that the Lord has for me that is new? What should I change, or add, or stop doing? All those are valid questions in annual goal setting.

My prayer is that His will be done in my life and in my home and in my family. I want His will done and I want to finish 2010 with Him being pleased with my efforts for His cause.

I have encouraged one goal for 2010 for my church family, and that is to do one thing each day that has significance. Of course we can do may things each day that has value, but wouldn't it be great to look back at 2010, if Jesus tarries and He gives us a full year, and then know that we have accomplished 365 significant things? I think that is a noble and worthy goal.

So, what is your primary goal for 2010?

Friday, January 1, 2010

365

A whole new year is before. No mistakes yet, at least that I am aware of making. HA!

I haven't made any New Year resolutions as I will take the first week or so to seek God for His direction for my life in 2010.

It is interesting that sometimes God reveals His way and plan so quickly and easily to me and at other time I have to wait patiently for His guidance. One of the most amazing and one of the biggest decisions in my life was when God brought Wanda into my life. There are literally only a handful of major decisions in my life that have been a clear to me as when God brought her to me.

How do we know God's will for our lives? Here are five steps that I use:

1. What does God's Word say about the matter? If there are no objections to the issue found in His Word, then it is on to step 2.

2. What does the Holy Spirit say about the matter? If the Holy Spirit seems to approve, then go to step 3.

3. What does Godly counsel say? If they can affirm, then look at step 4.

4. Is there an open door and if it does it seem practical? If all goes well here, then step 5 is the clincher.

5. Is there a peace in my heart?

Once these steps have been worked through, then I go for it.

Theses five steps have done we well for all my life. I know God will guide me in 2010 if I will trust Him and let Him be Lord. I am believing that all 365 days of 2010 will count for Jesus.