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Archive for November, 2012

Some encouraging words I found on Facebook

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page…

In happy momentspraise God.

In difficult momentsseek God.

In quiet momentsworship God.

In painful momentstrust God.

In every momentthank God.

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Jonah’s Journal: Trials and Triumphs of a Prickly Prophet, Part 1

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

We all know Jonah was a grouchy man of God. Specifically, a prickly prophet. Ever wonder what it was like for Jonah as he became the first person in history to ride in an organic submarine? I do.

Day One: Supplies are–well, there are no supplies. Morale is not only low, but it’s far below sea level (as I am right now). I can’t see, and it stinks so much in here I can barely breathe. I suspect God is supernaturally allowing me to stay alive even though technically I’m not breathing enough to live.

Where am I? Here’s the short story.

God told me to preach to the Ninevites. Yeah, those people. We Israelites hate them. Who wants to see the Ninevites in paradise? Not I! That’s why when God told me, I chose instead to disappear. Surely, He had to be kidding.

He wasn’t. I got on a boat to go elsewhere and immediately a storm struck the ship. I knew what it was about and after the sailors tossed all their cargo overseas, I explained they should toss me overboard instead.

They yelled in some strange language, and I suspect they were saying, “WONDERFUL, Israelite! Telling us to throw you overboard would’ve been useful information before throwing OUR cargo overboard!”

Into the water I went and then almost immediately a huge fish swallowed me.

Getting eaten by a fish is a terrifying experience. At first, I thought it was getting revenge on me for all its relatives I ate out of the Great Sea*. But then I remembered, gee, I disobeyed God and didn’t preach to the Ninevites. Maybe that’s why this is happening.

Well, it’s very dark in here. It smells like vomit. There are a few other fish flopping around in here. I’m hungry but…eating them, blech.

And so I lay down here, getting sick and nauseous as the fish swims deeper and deeper into the ocean…and up again…and down again. Icy cold water floods in as the fish eats more and more fish.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad to go to Ninevah after all…

*What the Ancient Israelites called the Mediterranean Sea.

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Keeping on, even when it hurts

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Back in 1989, we had a revival at church. It was considered a “mystery meeting” since the revival was designed more for the church members rather than as an evangelization tool for the public. Topics included “Church Attendance”, preached by one always-energetic evangelist who would end up making a statement my pastor didn’t quite agree with; “Bible Study” by another pastor…

…And to close out the week, “Keeping On” by one pastor from the Austin region. The pastor approached the pulpit in suit jacket and tie, but his Sunday-morning-appropriate attire didn’t last long. As he began preaching energetically in a medium, gravelly voice, he removed the coat and took off his tie. Soon, he thundered from the pulpit wearing an open-throated, short-sleeved dress shirt.

I suppose to a person who loves to think of Independent, Fundamental Baptists in caricatured concepts, it would’ve been an interesting spectacle. But to a Christian who has seen other believers get chewed up and spat out by Satan, it carried a very serious message: no matter what happens in your walk with God, you have to “keep on”.

Forget about trying. Instead, DO!

Hoo-boy.

This past week, I got some very sad news from my family. Add that onto living in an area of the country where, save for my sons, I have no blood relatives within about 1,000 miles; working to make ends meet; seeing the world get uglier and uglier; being alone in the emotional sense; seeing wonderful Christian friends drop from the faith over the years like flies.

What is the sense of keeping on? Why not just give up?

I’m 39 and will turn 40 in a little over two months. I’ve been a Christian for 31 years. There are many days where I feel I still have much to learn and much more maturing to do. Sometimes I find myself amazed at how I’ve changed in my walk over the years. Some for the good. Some…it’s hard to say if it’s realizing God’s not inside a box as I thought He was or if I am indeed floating too far off the path.

There are times when I wish the race were over. It’s like being on lap 5 of an eight-lap race and being encouraged by a coach to keep going. Before you know it, the race will be over. You try to convince your aching legs and burning lungs of that news.

In reality, what matters is not how far you run the race but how you run the race. Some do wonderful things for God and are dead by their 30th birthday. Some live to be 95 and do nothing for God. Nothing is worse as a Christian than running the race poorly and seeing all the missed opportunites to be a blessing.

Keep on. Please.

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Understanding God’s Will as Mrs. Robinson says goodbye

November 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I began my freshman year at Pensacola Christian College in the Fall 1991 semester. For Speech Lecture class on Friday mornings, Mrs. Robinson would often speak. She was clear and concise and very likeable. I enjoyed hearing her speak. Once, she spoke affectionately about her husband’s adorable habit of hanging a shaving razor from the toothbrush holder in the bathroom. The way she paused, I could tell she adored him. I had also worked with her husband that summer and knew he adored his wife as well.

That year, she was in a play called Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. I forget the character she played, but I do remember at one point she spoke in a flawless French accent.

My second semester for Speech 102, I tried to get one of her classes but, unfortunately, the only time she was available was either when I had other classes or when I had to work. I did get to meet her, for the first and only time, to review a monologue I had to do for class. She was extremely helpful.

Mrs. Robinson and her husband were people I never got to know closely, but I found them very fascinating. I friended her husband on Facebook and then read his posts about what they were doing. Most recently, they were trying to get a coffee shop going and had plans to use it in some sort of ministerial capacity.

And then, tragedy struck as Mrs. Robinson got cancer.

I read the updates, prayed and hoped things would improve. Finally, earlier today, her husband posted that she lost her battle.

My initial thought was, Dear God, why is Mrs. Robinson deceased but a certain retired hedonistic NBA basketball star still alive?

One friend, Stephanie, made an excellent observation: “Look at the life she lived.”

You know, quality versus quantity.

Mrs. Robinson was well-liked, well-loved, well-respected, by all accounts a very kind person who went out of her way to help others.

In other words, the type of Christian I fail at being on a daily basis.

I wish I knew what to say to her husband and their two sons, but I don’t. There are personal tragedies and pains God allows to happen that we simply won’t understand this side of eternity.

One thing I firmly believe is that God’s Will for mankind is a vast montage, a myriad of information. If placed in written form, it could easy fill our galaxy, maybe even the universe. It consists of countless trillions of pieces. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get to see two or three pieces in our lifetime.

After 31 years as a Christian, the only thing I know about God’s movements through man is that it is twofold: 1) Allow mankind maximum opportunities to receive Christ and enter heaven and 2) Allow mankind maximum opportunites to not only grow as Christians, but to encourage and edify others.

No, I don’t know why God allowed Mrs. Robinson to die at such a relatively young age. I also don’t know why He allowed a college friend, Terry, to die from cancer in his late twenties and leave behind a wife and young daughter. All I know is He is in control and that there is a reason.

And until I get to heaven, that is all I will know.

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Listening to your instincts

November 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep in today? I thought as I lay in bed, thinking of how nice it would be to get more sleep. I’d slept about eight hours and enjoyed catching up on sleep. Recently, I’d been working two jobs, taking care of my sons and rehearsing for a play. I averaged about five hours of sleep a day. I seldom took naps just because there was too much to do.

But then an instinct gently reminded me that I needed to take advantage of a Sunday morning off (I work today from 2:30-11 p.m. at the gas station) and that I’d regret not getting my boys into church. So, I got up and asked them how they were doing. Fine, they said.

We live only about a mile from church, so getting there isn’t the problem. If my car isn’t working, big deal: we can always walk.

So, we went and I heard great, encouraging messages in both Sunday School and in church. I wrote down Bible verses on encouragement, spiritual intimacy with God and comfort from God. I also signed my sons and I up for the church’s Thanksgiving dinner (we’re taking mashed potatoes and gravy). My sons had a good time.

None of that would’ve happened if I’d allowed the devil to have his way.

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

When the devil tickles our ears, it’s that warm instinct that encourages you to sleep more, or tells you that you’re too poor to tithe. For the lost, it’s that instinct that tells them the salvation message is a simple solution for a complex problem, that there are countless religions, how could Christianity be the true one, or that there’s always next Sunday to make a decision.

Next Sunday, of course, never comes as lifelong procrastination sets in.

Today I also reminded myself the importance of daily Bible reading and will work on reading the Minor Prophets until the end of the year and then take another try in 2013 at reading The Word chronologically.

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Marathon vs. Sprint

November 14, 2012 1 comment

Amazing how Christians can be. I can think of two Christians at college that seemed destined to go nowhere in life. One left after a semester because he didn’t like PCC’s rules and the other seemed to teeter on getting kicked out due to his attitude.

Both are serving the Lord now. One ministers through music and the other is a pastor who blogs.

Then there are the Christians I knew growing up and on-fire Christians I knew at college who are not only no longer serving God, they question their faith. One who studied for the ministry tells me he no longer thinks of the New Testament as God’s inspired word. In high school, I knew of a young man who was absolutely on fire for God. Today, his walk seems much less so.

If there is a way to describe it, I’d say it’s because Christianity should be lived as a marathon and not as a sprint.

As a sprint, it’s easy to burn white-hot bright for about five years…and then fade into cold darkness.

As a marathon, you pace yourself and purpose each day to do the basics: read the Word of God, spend time with God, talk to Him and let Him talk back to you. Sometimes it’s through the still, small voice, sometimes through something in the Bible that speaks to you in capital letters, and sometimes it’s through intuition.

I’ve been a Christian for 31 years; ever since the age of eight I’ve been on my way to heaven. Frankly, the finish line marking the entrance into heaven doesn’t seem any closer today than it did back in 1981. Ironic, since my death or the rapture could happen at any time. At times, it’s like I gasp for breath as I complete yet another lap and groan at how much further there is to go.

Please don’t give up. The worst thing is to look back upon your life and utter these two words: If only

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