Thursday, May 26, 2011

A New Beginning

Last Sunday evening we celebrated our Senior Blessing Service. It is a time of celebration and fulfillment as we see our young people, whom we have labored to bring up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”, cross the threshold into adulthood. Over the years it has been a joy for me to see so many of our youth go out and live rich, full lives serving the Lord!

For some reason, it seems difficult for most people to consider graduation as a new beginning. It just seems more natural to associate it with the end of what is certainly a significant chapter in life. Perhaps this is because for most, this next phase of their life will require them to assume more responsibility; it means it’s time to grow up and begin to stand on your own. The Apostle Paul phrased it this way:” When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”. This is a daunting proposition, which no doubt can be somewhat intimidating to accept.
But, the odd thing is, graduation is often referred to as a “Commencement Ceremony”, and the very definition of commencement is “to begin”, to “start anew”! Rather than viewing this as the ending of one chapter, it should be seen as the beginning of a new and exciting time of life! It is a time to grow, mature and develop the necessary character which will provide the foundation to prosper and successfully fulfill God’s will for your life. What could be more exciting than that!

As our seniors graduate, it may be a time for all of us to reflect and take stock of our own lives. Each of us can recognize past events which signified a commencement or a new beginning in our own experiences. Possibly the Lord is prodding us to “commence” in a new direction in our own spiritual paths? Perhaps we should not only watch our seniors graduate, but perhaps it is time for us to graduate as well!! It may be time to turn the page and move on to a new and greater chapter of life.
I love and appreciate you folks!
Don’t forget Sunday morning’s lesson from Genesis, and Sunday evening we’ll continue our study in Revelation titled “What in the world is going on in our world?”
See you Sunday!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Can Do All Things Through Christ ...

Harry Emerson Fosdick once commented "Life is a landscaping job. We are handed a site, ample or small, rugged or flat, picturesque or commonplace, whose general outlines and contours are largely determined for us." Essentially, Fosdick was using this as a word picture suggesting the basic circumstances we encounter in life are often beyond our control.

In one of his many movies, Clint Eastwood delivered this memorable line: "A man has got to know his limitations." Indeed, as humans, we all have shortcomings, faults, and flaws that certainly may be considered liabilities which prevent us from successfully confronting the many challenges of life. We all have a tendency to sit around and groan about our weaknesses, while looking at others who we believe are stronger and have more potential than us.

So how does the average, everyday Christian respond to these rather depressing philosophies?

First, an appropriate inventory of our individual worth is warranted. George Gallup, the famous pollster, did a study of self esteem. His findings were that people with high self-esteem are more successful, more satisfied, more willing to help others, hold themselves to a higher moral standard, have more satisfying relationships, are more productive, less affected by stress, healthier physically, and are more likely to see God as loving and forgiving. So it seems having a properly balanced level of self esteem is beneficial.

Now, the Bible informs us we are made in the “image of God’; that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator; and this same God valued us so much, he came to this earth and bore our shame and guilt all the way to the cross. If these truths straight from the Bible don’t boost your self esteem, I don’t know what will!

Second, although we indeed have to humbly acknowledge our shortcomings, we also know we do not confront life’s challenges alone. As God’s adopted children and joint heirs with Christ, we know we will not be forsaken, and we have the assurance that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Thus, as our trust is firmly placed in this loving, righteous, and sovereign God, we should not allow a spirit of pessimism to develop within our hearts because of the prevailing conditions presented to us by life, but should rather recognize them as an opportunity to be good and faithful stewards in our divinely appointed workplace.

Whatever you are facing, you can win through. It is not you, but Christ in you, the hope of glory. Happiness is found in a well-lived life. Live your life well, knowing that God can make up for any lack you may have.

God bless you! See you Sunday!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Judgement Day?

Recently a well-known radio and Bible preacher and teacher has predicted the imminent return of our Lord will occur on a particular day in May. You may have seen the billboards proclaiming it as "Judgement Day 2011 - Repent".

Although I am reluctant to be critical of another preacher, in this case I must humbly disagree. Jesus may indeed come back on May 21st, but He may also come back today, or tomorrow, or on January 12,2030. The scripture is emphatically clear that only God the Father knows the day and the hour! This fact alone makes me question the rationale for making such a bold prediction.

That being said, it is absolutely scriptural to live our lives in the light of His coming. We could indeed be living in the last hours. To properly understand this and its Biblical application is certainly relevant to the Christian life. Though believers may not agree on all the specific details of His return, most can agree on the Biblical command to be about our work of kingdom building if He should tarry.

So when you see the billboards displaying Judgement Day is May 21st, recognize that though it may be folly to so brazenly predict what only God knows, as Christians we should also prepare ourselves, for He may come today!

If not, I'll see you Sunday! Remember our Sunday evening series, "What in the world is going on?"

God bless,keep looking up!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Moving On

One of the greatest problems we Christians have is leaving the past behind us and moving on to the future with hope and optimism. The Apostle Paul admonished the Christians at Philippi regarding this when he wrote, "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high-calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Often it is our past that induces a sense of defeat in our lives. We become obsessed with memories of failures from the past, or we allow previous mistakes to stifle our spiritual growth. Hurts, emotional pain, disappointments can become like a cancer, metastasizing into anger, bitterness, and frustration that paralyze us, and keep us on the bench rather than in the game.

Paul recognized these symptoms, and that is why he advocated the importance of letting go and moving on. Often in counsel I have expressed a similar statement "You can't go back, only ahead."

To use a sports analogy, one of the things every sprinter learns is the importance of focusing on the race, and not his competition. Just one glance behind to see if someone is gaining ground may cause a misstep, and the race may be lost!

That is how we believers ought to be. Keep your focus on the Lord Jesus. Relinquish the debilitating power the past may have on you. The hurts, disappointments and failures. In all honesty, the only thing we ought to see when we look back are the blessings of God. And let’s not forget, God can use of the past to make us wiser and stronger. We are not to allow past circumstances to render us helpless in the present.

As Warren Weirsbe puts it, "Focus your gaze and concentrate on what God has for you in the future.

See you Sunday!