Archive for the 'Enouragement' Category

18
Jun
09

George Washington on Serving

portrait_of_george_washingtonOne day, during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington stepped out of his tent.  It was extremely cold, and the wind was blowing.  The demands of leading an army were weighing heavy on him, so he decided to go for a walk around the camp.  In his long coat, and with his collar turned up no one could recognize him as the commander of the Continental Army.

Washington came across a group of soldiers under the command of a corporal who was out to show he was in charge.  They were building a tall rampart of logs and the corporal kept barking orders, “Up with it!  Push harder!  What’s your problem?”  Trying with all their might to push the final log in place up top, they couldn’t do it.  Every time the last log would come crashing down.  The corporal would shout out again, “Up with it!  Push harder!  What’s your problem?”  Once more they would heave hoe only to have the log fall again.

Washington finally ran up and pushed with all of his might and finally the log fell into place.  Before the soldiers could thank him, Washington said to the corporal, “Why didn’t you help your men with the heavy lifting?”  He said, “Don’t you see?  I’m a corporal!”

Washington replied, “I see.”  He then opened up his coat and revealed his uniform, and he said, “I’m the Commander-in Chief.  The next time you have a log too heavy for your men to lift, send for me!”

In life there are some things that just don’t change.  We should pray, read our Bibles, worship with other believers, grow spiritually.   To that list we should also add serving.  It doesn’t matter how highly you are ranked, or how highly you get “promoted.”  It doesn’t matter how much responsibility you shoulder in your place of work.  Your IQ score, your popularity, the number of friends you have on Facebook, the amount of text messages you send and receive, the size of your family, the size of your 401K, or the size of your salary.  None of that changes the believer’s call to serve.

Washington was a great leader because he wasn’t afraid to get in there and do some heavy lifting.   In reality the best leaders are great servants.  If you don’t serve well you’ll never lead well.  The example of Washington reminds us of an even greater leader and greater servant – Jesus.  He humbled himself and served us graciously by dying for us on a cross, washing our sins by his grace when we were unable to wash ourselves.

Notice Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

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29
May
09

Precious Promises

I was reminded the other morning just how wonderful the Word of God is.  It is packed with precious promises for each of us.  Often when reading it therej0435886 comes those special moments when you know God is speaking to you through a particular verse or portion of Scripture.

Wendy and I are getting ready to have number 5.  The way things are going so far it looks like it will be another girl.  The Whitlow chicks are multiplying fast.  I’m so thankful for each of our kids.

But I have to say, I have been thinking quietly to myself, “How am I going to be able to support all these girls?”  There’s clothes, braces, sports, vacations, college, and the big one….the wedding, or in my case weddingsssss.  I can’t marry them all at once and do one big reception.  My wife would kill me.

The other morning I was reading in Proverbs and I came across this verse – There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls. (Prov. 27:17).

That’s my new life verse!  The goats’ milk is God’s provision.  Honestly, I have put this verse to memory and I believe for me its God’s promise of provision as we stay faithful to His call upon our lives.  There will be enough for the maintenance of my girls.

There are promises for you as well in God’s Word.  When you come across one that jumps off the page write it down, memorize it, review it, hold on to it.  It will give you reassurance and strength.  God’s promises are for you too!

26
May
09

Hireling or Shepherd?

ADVENTtable_html_m6196dac4John 10:11-16 – 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

We find in this section the care of the Good Shepherd Jesus being compared with the hireling.  The hireling is not a shepherd.  He’s not personally connected to the sheep.  In fact when danger comes the hireling runs away and leaves the sheep to be scattered.  The hireling cares nothing for the sheep.  He’s only in it for the money.

How unfortunate that in many churches today there are hirelings.  For them it’s a job.  It’s a gig.  They come in and clock in and clock out.  The people of God are not on their minds during the week.  They don’t pray for the flock of God.  They don’t have a heart to serve, sacrifice, or protect.  They’re there until a better gig, a bigger position comes along.  And when hardship comes, when its time to stand and fight and sacrifice and defend, they run.

For those that volunteer, in our areas of service in the church, like the hireling, we can easily start thinking more of ourselves, and what we want, instead of what is best for the flock of God.  God wants to fill his church with good shepherds who like Jesus, truly care about the flock, and are willing to put the needs of the flock before themselves.

28
Apr
09

Jesus – the Bread of Life

anadamabreadWhat are you trying to fill the hunger in your soul with?  Money can’t do it.  A facelift, tummy tuck, Botox injection, hair weave, and breast implants won’t do it.  An affair won’t do it.  Neither will a new car, nor home.  A night out with the girls or guys at a club won’t do it.  It has to be followed by another night and another night and another.  A great meal on Saturday night has to be followed by a good breakfast in the morning.  A new outfit has to be followed by even newer clothes the next year.  These material things are not enough to fill our souls.

In John 6:35; 47-50 Jesus said to a crowd of people focused on finding soul satisfaction in material, temporal things the following, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”

Do you hear what Jesus is saying?  “I’m the bread of life.  You can be filled and satisfied in me.”

In these verses Jesus refers to the manna provided by God in the wilderness for the children of Israel.  In Kent Hughes’ commentary on the Gospel of John he mentions the similarities between the manna, a kind of bread, and Jesus, the “bread of life.” (pg. 206)

Manna was white, like fallen snow.  Jesus was the holy Son of God, without sin.

Manna was on the ground, easily accessible.  All a person had to do was get out of their tent and go get it.  In the same way Jesus the bread of life is here for you.  You can come and receive of him, or you can walk on by.  I’m sure people stepped on the manna in the wilderness.  In the same way you can trod upon Jesus or pick him up and receive him as your Savior.

Manna was a kind of bread that had all the carbs, nutrients, and proteins that a person needed to be filled.  Jesus has everything you need to be truly and completely filled.

It’s interesting that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and Bethlehem means “the house of bread.”  Jesus is the bread of life.  Isaiah 55:1-3 – Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

02
Apr
09

Complaining Will Make Your Life Bitter

cartoons-complain-2

Exodus 15:23 -24 –  When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.   And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

You need water.  It’s essential to life.  I don’t like to drink, but I know I have to.  Out in the wilderness the children of Israel were three days without any – about to dehydrate.  Then they came to Marah and saw water.  Imagine what joy!  They made a quick dash to the water, but when they lapped it up they found it bitter, undrinkable.  How disappointing!

At this point they had a choice.  Would they complain or call on God?  They had witnessed the plagues, the parting of the sea, the Egyptian army defeated.  Even more, God had led them to this place with his cloud.  Surely God was up to something.  But, instead of calling on God, they chose to complain. 

Like the Israelites, we often give our mental, emotional, and verbal resources to complaining when life gets tough.  We grumble.  We whine.  You know what complaining will do?  It will make your heart bitter like the waters of Marah. Over time you get stuck in a continued cycle of frustration and complaining, frustration and complaining, until it makes the whole flavor of your life brackish and bitter tasting.

We too are in a sense in the wilderness in this life on the way to the Promised Land, our eternal home.  I don’t want to be like the Israelites.  They complained for most of their 40-year journey.  In the journey of my life I don’t want to waste my mental, emotional, and verbal energy griping and complaining.  I want to use it in a more positive way. 

What’s the alternative?  Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Whatever the circumstance, good or bad, you can always rejoice in the Lord, in who He is, and what He has done. 

17
Feb
09

What Do You Think About?

thethinkermuseerodingreenresizedWhat do you spend your time thinking about?  That’s a decision that we can make.  You can decide to fill your mind with pornography.  You can fill your mind with images of violent acts, and go through your day playing and replaying acts of violence.  You can fill your mind with thoughts of hopelessness, despair, surrender, and defeat.  You can think about how you’re going to make an idiot out of yourself.  You can have pictures in your mind of you being another “Chris Farley” kind of character.  You can fill your mind with shallow gossip.  But know this, what we put in our minds, shapes and impacts our lives.  The old computer term GIGO is really true – Garbage In Garbage Out.  You put garbage in, what do you get?  Roses?  No…just garbage.

I recently came across a band on the Internet called Cradle of Filth.  I would like to read to you a piece of their lyric taken from their song As Deep as Any Burial – “Thrill, kill the black cult, Walk among the weak by night, Affliction…Deep as any burial, take their worthless lives..” If you dump a cradle of filth into your mind it’s going to impact and shape your outlook, the way you live.

If I bake a cake and instead of using sugar I use dirt, or instead of eggs I use motor oil, or instead of flour I use chalk dust, the cakes going to come out wrong.  The taste will be ruined.  When we mix into our thinking these kinds of thoughts and simmer and stew on them it impacts the taste of our lives.  It ruins the flavor of our lives.  People get a taste of us and they walk away saying, “There’s just something not right about that person.”

Recently, my wife’s computer got a virus.  It aggravated the fool out of us.  The computer slowed way down to the point it would barely respond at all.  I wanted to throw it out the front door.  It was sick.  All of its processing power was occupied dealing with this virus, and it couldn’t respond. 

Many of us have viral thoughts in our mind that occupy us, and distract us.  We’re unable to respond to God.  It’s like we’re moving in slow motion.  Inside we’re sick.  God’s Word can wash our minds, renew our minds, delete the viral thoughts, and give us a clean start so we can be ready to answer him when he calls.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Romans 12:1-2 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world,  but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

22
Jan
09

Friends – Do you have any?

paulWhen the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, during his final imprisonment before being put to death, many of his close companions deserted him.  They were afraid of being associated with him now that he was in jail, and many believed that his suffering was proof that he was not a true man of faith and power.

There in prison, with many on the run, one man was different.  His name was Onesiphorus.  Instead of running he traveled to Rome, to the hometown of Nero the great hater of Christianity, and began to search for Paul.  Being from Ephesus, he was unfamiliar with Rome, and had to stop and ask for help constantly.  But after much diligent searching and prayer he found his friend in need.  What a tremendous encouragement that was to Paul.

Paul writes about this in 2 Timothy 1:15-18 – 15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

What a great thing to have some real, Christian friendships.  Do you have any today?  People who will suffer inconvenience to help you in your time of need?  How do you know who your friends really are?  Just go through a rough spot.  Go through an embarrassing moment, a trial, a season of suffering and see who comes to help you.  You don’t need a ton of friends like that, but you do need two or three.  As we’re just starting out in 2009, what a great goal to try and cultivate two or three meaningful Christian friendships. 

Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.