Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Payback

What do you do when someone says something to you or about you that's wrong, that's sinful, that's hurtful?

Do you payback the hurt with a hurt? Or do you payback the hurt with a blessing? Paying back the hurt with a blessing is what a mature follower of Christ must do, right? "Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing" (I Peter 3:9).

In II Samuel 16, we read about a dark day in the life of David, the ancient King of Israel. David was suffering the disastrous aftershocks from his adultery and murder. Nathan, the prophet, had told David that trouble was coming to his house. And it did.

David’s son, Absalom, had conspired against his father, had gathered a bunch of malcontents, and had assumed the role of king. David feared for the safety of his family, friends, and servants. So, he and his people gathered their belongings and left Jerusalem. The true king was on the run.

On the way, David was met by a man named Shimei. Shimei cursed the king as he came by. He also picked up rocks and dust and threw them at David and his servants. He called the king a violent, wicked man. Shimei said as he cursed, "Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood" (II Samuel 16:7-8).

What was Shimei’s problem? He was a descendant of Saul, the king whom the Lord had rejected and the man from whom David inherited the throne. Maybe Shimei had been waiting for such a chance to launch the words of anger, bitterness, and jealousy that he had allowed to build in his heart over the years. Maybe he thought, "The throne should be in our family, not his." So, he hurled all kinds of abuse onto David and his court.

Now, how would David respond? After all, Exodus 22:28 says, "You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people." One of David's leaders, Abishai, said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head."

But David's response was humble. His response displayed an amazing trust in God. "Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today." II Samuel 16:11b-12 (ESV)

I think that this is truly an amazing response. David refused to payback the hurt with a hurt. There was a time in his life when that would have been his first response. But not this time. He had been humbled.

This refusal to payback the hurt with a hurt is very much like Jesus. Often in Jesus' ministry the people did not respond like the disciples thought they should. On one of those occasions, His disciples, James and John said, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them" (Luke 9:54-55). Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught us not to pay back a hurt with another hurt.

F.B. Meyer once said that a key to spiritual power is this: "Never defend yourself." Evidently David knew something about that.

Shemei had said that David was guilty of bloodshed against Saul's family. That was simply not true. Once Saul realized that David was God’s next choice for the throne, he tried several times to have David killed. But David always escaped. David even had several opportunities to kill Saul. But he refused. He repeatedly told his friends and relatives he would not lay a hand on Saul, the “Lord’s anointed.” And he never did. No one could have been more innocent of the blood of the house of Saul than David was. But David didn't correct Shemei.

Please hear this: Innocence will not necessarily guard you from malicious accusations and lies against your character. Don't be surprised if someday you are accused of something that you have been careful to avoid. It's a good thing that we will not stand before men as our judges. We must be like Jesus, entrusting ourselves to Him who judges righteously (I Peter 2:23).

David was patient and submissive under this unjust abuse. Why? He had a humble heart and was able to turn the unjust reproach into a just reproof. David knew that he had been innocent of Saul's death, but he also knew that he was guilty when it came to Uriah and Bathsheba. When someone unjustly accuses you for a sin you did not commit, just remember that there have been many times you have gone undetected for sins you have committed.

David saw the unjust accusation as being part of God's plan for his life. He saw the hand of God in what happened to him. So, instead of letting the lies get the best of him, he let the lies bring out the best in him. We would save ourselves from so much heartache and trouble if we would just see that even the injustice said and done against us is governed by the Lord. David looked above the person hurling the accusations (the secondary cause) to the Lord (the supreme director, the primary cause). In this regard, he was very much like Job, who, when he had lost his children and his wealth, said, "The LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). Matthew Henry wrote, [There is] "nothing more proper to quiet a gracious soul under affliction than an eye to the hand of God in it."

The longer we live, the less we ought to be surprised by trouble in this life. Even unjust suffering ought not to catch us by surprise. Expect it. As we see here, it happened to David. And it happened to Jesus. Like them, we have to trust God to make things right for us in His time. God has told us not to worry about those who speak badly about us unjustly. "Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, so a curse without cause does not alight" (Proverbs 26:2).

David took comfort by hoping that God would somehow bring good to him out of this trouble. As David experienced hurts, he hoped in God - that God would be merciful and gracious and reward David for his patience under the trials.

David was a man after God's own heart. Ultimately, he did what we should do. He turned the pain into prayer. And his prayer is recorded for us in the scripture. It's Psalm 3, a song David wrote during this painful episode in his life.

Have you been unjustly accused? Have people been saying things about you that are not true? Are people hurling abuse at you? Maybe you should make David's prayer your prayer.

O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Psalm 3

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Speaking in tongues
The May 24, 2007 edition of USA Today has an article about Christians in America who speak in tongues in public worship services. Below is some of what the article said.
This Sunday, Christians will celebrate Pentecost, when the Bible says God sent a "mighty wind" among Jesus' disciples and they prayed in unknown languages. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit," the Book of Acts says, "and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
Though all Christians mark the day, only some speak in tongues. Those who do describe an immediate, ecstatic and personal experience of God. Those who do not have called it phony, weird and even dangerous.
At the conflict's heart are differing interpretations of the purpose of tongues. Some believe tongues and other "gifts of the Spirit," such as prophecy and divine healing, died with Jesus' disciples. The primacy of the Bible, they say, cancels the need for such gifts. Other Christians — known as Pentecostals, charismatics or, more generally, renewalists — believe those gifts remain available.
"If I say 'If you don't have this experience, your Christianity is inferior,' that gets very personal," says a member of North Cleveland Church of God, a Pentecostal congregation near Chattanooga, Tenn., speaks in tongues during prayer. "That is a very judgmental statement."
Dallas Theological Seminary and Campus Crusade for Christ, two strongholds of independent Christianity, have done away with restrictions on tongue-speaking for students and staff.
"I see much more acceptance of it today in America than ever," says J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, which covers the renewalist movement. "I see groups that had a hard line against teaching it now do not. There is a relaxing of old tensions."
So, where does CVC stand on this issue?
There are people who attend CVC who have never had an experience of speaking in tongues. And there are people who attend CVC who have had such an experience and who speak in tongues in their own devotional lives.
At CVC, we say, "In essential things, unity; in non-essential things, liberty; in all things charity."
For example, the essentials for us are major points of truth, such as the authority and inerrancy of scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, the dignity and depravity of mankind, the sufficiency of Jesus' death on the cross for the salvation of all who repent and believe, and the return of Christ.
For us at CVC, the issue of speaking in tongues is not seen as an essential. For us to function as a church, we all must agree on these essentials. But speaking in tongues is, for us, a non-essential area. Some at CVC do and some don't. And whether you do or don't doesn't matter as long as we are focused on "helping people grow to be passionate followers of Christ."
While we do not believe, as some Christians do, that the gift of tongues has ceased for today’s church, we are not a body where the expression of this gift is emphasized. Personally, I have never had this experience. I have close friends who have had this experience. I don't question them and they don't pressure me.
In our services at CVC we are attempting to create what we call "irresistible environments" so that the claims of Christ can be communicated clearly to those who don't yet know Jesus. For that reason, we are sensitive to the fact that the public expression of the supernatural sign gifts can be distracting to people and may lead them to focus on our methods of worship, rather than the Savior Himself.
I Corinthians 12:23 makes the point: “If the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?”
In addition, it is clear from scripture that not everyone should expect to receive this gift of tongues. I Corinthians 12:29 says, "All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?" The answer to all these questions is obviously, "No." Therefore, it is wrong for Christians to see tongues as the normative experience for everyone. We firmly stand against the attitude that says that any Christian who has not had an experience in speaking in tongues has not experienced the fullness of the Spirit and is, therefore, somehow deficient in his or her faith.
I Corinthians 12:31 says, "Earnestly desire the greater gifts," i.e., not a lesser gift like tongues. And I Corinthians 14:39 says, "Do not forbid to speak in tongues." So, at CVC, our position on gifts like tongues is basically “seek not, forbid not.” We want each believer to experience freedom in this area. We will take a stand against believers who say, "Thou shalt not speak in tongues." And, likewise, we will take a stand against believers who present tongues-speaking as a normative experience for all as a sign of the filling of the Spirit.
Remember, "In non-essential things, liberty." People have the liberty to speak in tongues in their own devotional lives at CVC. And people have liberty to not speak in tongues. But neither group has the liberty to disturb the peace and the unity of this local body of Christ. It is our earnest desire and prayer that controversy concerning the gifts of the Spirit will never bring division to this local body of Christ.
(For a fuller understanding on the position of CVC, please read chapter 13 of Billy Graham’s book, The Holy Spirit.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fulfilling A Dream

The other day I was online looking for some baseball trivia and I saw a picture of me playing for the Nashville Sounds in 1979. It showed me making an error at first base. I didn't like seeing that too much. So, I kept looking for something good. I found it. To the left is a picture of me receiving congratulations from teammate Bob Mayer, equipment manager Rags Drennon and catcher Dave Van Gorder back in the dugout after a third-inning triple drove in a pair of runs in the first of two game against the Orlando Twins at Greer Stadium.

To be honest, I don't really remember this at all. The only reason I can write about it is because the picture online had a caption to go along with it. Something good must have happened because I am smiling. I wish I could remember that triple. I can more easily remember the hundreds of ground-outs to the secondbasemen. In the scorebook, you write that this way: 4-3. Too many of those is why I didn't make it to the show.

When I was six years old, I had a dream of making it to the major leagues. That dream stayed alive for me through four years of college baseball at Vanderbilt University and five years of professional baseball in the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds organizations.

In baseball, I had many exciting moments and opportunities. In my post high school career, I played on four different championship teams. I competed against 2 Cy Young Award winners – Rick Sutcliffe and Steve Bedrosian; 2 MVPs – Dale Murphy and Fred Lynn; three NL and AL Rookies of the Year – Darryl Strawberry, John Castino, Joe Charboneau; and a Hall of Fame inductee, Eddie Murray. Once, as a catcher, I even threw out the all-time major league stolen base leader, Ricky Henderson.

But the highlight of my career didn’t happen on the field. I was a follower of Christ who, as an athlete, wanted to influence my teammates for Christ. That was tough sometimes because baseball players are notorious for living wild and ungodly lives. Bad language, alcohol and drug abuse, and marital unfaithfulness were a prominent part of the lifestyle for many of my teammates. Often, I faced a mixture of ridicule and respect because I tried to live a faithful life that honored God. I didn’t pretend to be perfect. I was far from it. My teammates knew my flaws. But they also knew that I was honestly seeking to follow Jesus.

At times, I had opportunity to talk to my teammates on an individual basis about their relationship with God. Some of them came to see that athletic success is really fleeting and unfulfilling. They saw that their biggest need was finding forgiveness and a meaningful life with God. The greatest baseball thrill for me was seeing some of my teammates understand what Jesus did for them when He died on the cross to pay for their sins, ask Jesus to forgive them, and seek to follow Him as their leader in life. 100 years from now, when all my trophies are tarnished and forgotten, those teammates and I will be celebrating together in heaven forever because God drew them to Himself. That’s exciting!

Athletes sometime hesitate to give their lives to Christ because they are afraid that He will make them weak and non-competitive. I never have been able to understand that. You see, an athlete without Christ is only a two dimensional athlete. He competes mentally and physically. But an athlete who follows Jesus is a three dimensional athlete. He not only competes mentally and physically, he also is alive spiritually. I’ve learned that Jesus doesn’t diminish us. He came to give us abundant life – life at its fullest. Jesus adds more meaning and power to our lives. Jesus makes people complete competitors.

When I played the game, most hitters wrote their uniform number on the knob of their bat to help them identify it from all the rest. But I wrote down references to Bible verses like Matthew 6:33 to remind me that if I would seek first God’s kingdom then He promised to take care of me. I wanted to play for Christ, not for the applause of the crowd.

I never did fulfill my dream of making it all the way to the major leagues. I didn’t become the complete ball player I wanted to be. But because I have Christ in my life, I know that I am “big league” in God’s sight. I’m on the way to heaven. And I’m trying to take as many people with me as I can. Jesus is committed to helping me be all I can be for Him. Pleasing Him. That’s my new dream.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wisdom from Proverbs on handling relational conflict
Conflict. Sometimes,even at home with the people we are supposed to love the most, it feels like we're in a hockey fight.
Right now, we are in a series on "famlies" at CVC. This coming weekend, I'm preaching on conflict. I won't have time to touch on everything I'm learning, so here's some advanced "bonus" material from Proverbs on handling relational conflict.
Demonstrate a trust in God
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe. Proverbs 29:25
Seek to defuse the situation
For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. Proverbs 26:20
Be careful with your words
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23
Be generous
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22
Show restraint
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19
A fool (kesil) gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:14
Note: Kesil describes someone with a closed mind. This kind of individual is stubborn and rejects information and feedback from others. (From “Fool-proofing your Life, by Jan Silvious, p. 30)
Steer clear of strife
It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool (ewil) will be quarreling. Proverbs 20:3
Note: Ewil is a word characterizing a long-standing fool – a nagging, whining, “my way or no way” person, a person who is crusty and unbendable. (From “Fool-proofing your Life, by Jan Silvious, p. 32)
Tend toward silence, not belittling anyone
Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Proverbs 11:12
Take into account past efforts to confront
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool (kesil). Proverbs 17:10
Refuse to argue with an unteachable person
If a wise man has an argument with a fool (ewil), the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. Proverbs 29:9
Avoid danger
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Proverbs 22:24-25
Leave the presence of a fool (kesil), for there you do not meet words of knowledge. Proverbs 14:7
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. Proverbs 27:12
Know when and if and how to respond
Answer not a fool (kesil) according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool (kesil) according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4-5
To “answer a fool according to his folly “ is to engage in the same emotional invective that the fool uses. On the one hand, one should not deal with a fool on his own terms lest the imitation of folly become habitual. On the other hand, one must sometimes answer fools in words they understand in order to reprimand them effectively. (From The New American Commentary: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, by Duane A. Garrett, p. 211)
The text presents two sayings together that each contain an aspect of the whole truth. The meaning of the two together is that one should not lower himself to the level of a fool but that there are times when the lesser evil is to speak out rather than be silent. We are reminded that Paul talked like a fool to correct the foolish thoughts of the Corinthians (II Corinthians 11:16-17; 12:11) (From The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 5, ed. By Frank Gaebilein, p. 1088)
Wise men have need to be directed how to deal with fools; and they have never more need of wisdom than in dealing with such, to know when to keep silence and when to speak, for there may be a time for both. 1. In some cases a wise man will not set his wit to that of a fool so far as to answer him according to his folly "If he boast of himself, do not answer him by boasting of thyself. If he rail and talk passionately, do not thou rail and talk passionately too. If he tell one great lie, do not thou tell another to match it. If he calumniate thy friends, do not thou calumniate his. If he banter, do not answer him in his own language, lest thou be like him, even thou, who knowest better things, who hast more sense, and hast been better taught." 2. Yet, in other cases, a wise man will use his wisdom for the conviction of a fool, when, by taking notice of what he says, there may be hopes of doing good, or at least preventing further, mischief, either to himself or others. "If thou have reason to think that thy silence will be deemed an evidence of the weakness of thy cause, or of thy own weakness, in such a case answer him, and let it be an answer ad hominem—to the man, beat him at his own weapons, and that will be an answer ad rem—to the point, or as good as one. If he offer any thing that looks like an argument, an answer that, and suit thy answer to his case. If he think, because thou dost not answer him, that what he says is unanswerable, then give him an answer, lest he be wise in his own conceit and boast of a victory." (Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 3, by Matthew Henry, p. 941)
Sometimes a fool, or wicked man, is not to be answered at all; as the ministers of Hezekiah answered not a word to Rabshakeh; nor Jeremiah the prophet to Hananiah; nor Christ to the Scribes and Pharisees; and when an answer is returned, it should not be in his foolish way and manner, rendering evil for evil, and railing for railing, in the same virulent, lying, calumniating, and reproachful language; lest thou also, who art a man of understanding and sense, and hast passed for one among men, come under the same imputation, and be reckoned a fool like him. The Targum is, “but speak with a fool in thy wisdom;” and the Syriac version, “yea, speak with a fool according to thy wisdom;” which would at once remove the seeming contradiction in these words to the former, but then they are not a true version; indeed it is right, and must be the sense, that when a fool is answered, as it is sometimes necessary he should, that it be done in wisdom, and so as to expose his folly; he is to be answered and not answered according to different times, places, and circumstances, and manner of answering; he is to be answered when there is any hope of doing him good, or of doing good to others; or of preventing ill impressions being made upon others by what he has said; when the glory of God, the good of the church, and the cause of truth, require it; and when he would otherwise glory and triumph, as if his words or works were unanswerable, as follow; lest he be wise in his own conceit; which fools are apt to be, and the rather when no answer is given them; imagining it arises from the strength of their arguments, and their nervous way of reasoning, when it is rather from a neglect and contempt of them. (An Exposition of the Old Testament, Volume 3, by John Gill, p. 569)

Monday, May 14, 2007


Guidelines for Writing Your Testimony

What to Do:

· Ask God to give you wisdom.
· Keep to a 3-5 minute limit.
· Be realistic, don't exaggerate.

What Not to Do:

· Make statements that reflect negatively on any church organization.
· Make statements that reflect negatively on any individual.
· Mention denominations or church names.
· Speak or write in a preachy manner.
· Use vague terms like joyful, peaceful, or changed without explaining them.
· Avoid religious terms like saved, sin, or convicted without explaining them.

Writing Style:

· Begin with an attention-getting sentence or incident.
· Be positive, accurate and specific - details arouse interest.
· Use Bible verses directly related to your experience. Delete references, for example, say, "One of Jesus' disciples said..." rather than writing "1 John 5:11-13 says..."

As you begin writing your testimony, write things just as you would say it to someone in person. Such as, "Before I received Christ as my savior, my attitude was...," or "My life was filled with problems I could not solve..."

Preparing your personal testimony begins with telling the story of what your life was like before you received Jesus Christ. It is not necessary to go into extreme detail. Effective communication is usually brief, to the point, and clear. In fact, orally explaining your testimony should not take more than 3 or 4 minutes.

All right, now you're ready to write! Just answer the following questions:

* * *

Before Christ

My attitudes, needs, and problems before I received Christ...

My life revolved around, and I gained happiness and security from... (Use an example from your personal life here. For instance, did your security come from money, your relationships, etc? Remember, avoid being overly sensational.)

How did this disappoint me?

How was this unfulfilling? How did you come to realize this? What were you struggling with (if anything) just before you received Christ?

Receiving Christ

This part of your personal testimony is where you come to the transition in your life, where God's work begins to become evident in you. Remember to follow the same guidelines as before.

When and how did I first hear about Christ?

What were my struggles just before I received Christ?

What happened when I received Christ and how did my attitude begin to change, and why?

After receiving Christ

When giving a personal testimony, many people concentrate on the sin they had before they received Christ - even the sensationalism. However, an effective testimony focuses not on our sin, but on the work of the Holy Spirit in us, so that Jesus Christ takes center stage. It is at this point that your testimony should begin to shine.

What happened after I received Christ?

How has my life changed and when did I notice that change?

How am I motivated differently now?

Friday, May 11, 2007

The “Love God” Journal

The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37). We can’t fulfill this command without spending quality and quantity time with God. Spending time with Him has been called the morning watch, the quiet time, an appointment with God, personal devotions. Whatever we call it, it’s important to know that the goal is to build a love relationship with God by spending regular, consistent, and unhurried time with Him.

Jesus set the example for us concerning the quiet time. He took time to connect with the Father regularly. "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed” (Mark 1:35). The quiet time is a very important part of our day. As we read God's words, we begin to see God’s heart for us and for the world. Doing daily devotions renews our minds. When we face the challenges and opportunities of the day, we will more and more begin to respond the way God desires. And God already knows what will happen in our lives each day. Spending time with Him givens Him the opportunity to prepare us for what will be coming our way.

Journaling is an excellent way to both record and process what God says to us. It's also a useful tool to use at a later time to reflect on and review some of the loving wisdom that we have received from God. Without writing what God says down, we may forget some very important lessons. And while journaling is a very personal time with the Lord, from time to time we can share some of our daily journaling with our community group or our friends. Through discussion, we may be able to look deeper into what God is saying to us, gain new insight, and bring encouragement to others.

What follows is a simple guide using the word “LOVE” to help you write in your journal as you build your love relationship with God day after day.

* * *

L for Learn

Open your Bible to the reading found under today's date of your One Year Bible reading plan. Take your time reading the scriptures. Allow God to speak to you. When you finish reading, be selective. Look for a verse or verses that particularly spoke to you and seek to learn the verse of verses by writing the words in your journal. L is for learn.

O for Observe

What do you think God is saying to you in the verse or verses? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal God’s love to you. Write what you observe in your journal. You could use the following questions to help you get started: What is a title that you would give this passage? What does this teach you about God, about others, about yourself? What are some cross references for the passage? O is for observe.

V for Value

Based on what you have learned, how will you show God that you value Him and His word? You show God that you value Him and His word by obeying what He’s teaching you. So, personalize what you have read by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps God is lovingly teaching you, reproving you, correcting you, or training you in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16-17). You can use the following questions to help you find an application: Is there a sin to avoid? A promise to claim? An example to follow? A command to obey? A service to perform? Write down how you intend to apply the scripture to your life today. V is for value.

E for Express

Now, you can express yourself to God in prayer by writing out at least a portion of your prayer. Adore God by telling Him that you love Him and why you love Him. Confess your sins of thought, sins of attitude, sins of relationships, sins of omission, sins of commission, sins of self-rule, or sins of self-reliance. Thank God for the many blessings that He has given you. And ask God for the things that are on your heart. Especially ask God to help you apply what you have learned from Him. Ask Him for greater insight on what He is seeking to reveal to you. E is for express.

* * *

During your time with God, you may also want to sing praise songs, read a daily devotional book, or simply be still and listen. But keep it simple.

Your goal isn’t to have a quiet time out of a sense of duty and obligation. Your goal is to build a love relationship with God by spending regular, consistent, and unhurried time with Him. The important thing is to show up for your daily appointment to build your love relationship with God. Don’t forget that God is always waiting for you. He loves you. Now, love Him in return (I John 4:19).

Monday, May 07, 2007


Mother's Day...
What are you thinking about doing for Mother’s Day? It’s this coming Sunday!
I’ve been thinking. Most moms have a Proverbs 31 desire. God has wired moms that way. That means your mom! She wants to know that the following Proverbs 31 passage is true in her life: “Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all’” (NASB). So, I want to encourage you to honor your mom this year by writing a tribute to honor to her. Rise up! After all, this is the first commandment that ends in a blessing (Ephesians 6:2). I’m going to do the same with my mom.
Basically, in 15-20 minutes, you can write a tribute to your mom that will last a lifetime and will have eternal impact in and through your life.
Here are some questions to get you started:
What is one thing you love about mom?
What is a favorite memory of mom?
What’s a funny story about something you did with mom?
What have you learned from mom (about behavior, manners, the Bible, or life in general)?
Write a paragraph telling her thanks and what you appreciate specifically about her.
* * *
As an example, here’s what I’m writing to my mom.
Dear mom,
Happy Mother’s Day! I wish I could see you to give you a hug. But I guess this little note will have to do.
I want to make sure you know that I love you. I love you because I know you love me… unconditionally. You always have and always will. And I love you because you could complain about a lot of things, but you don’t. You have kept your great sense of humor even though you’ve had lots of burdens to carry over the last few years.
Long, long ago, when I played baseball, I knew that I could look in those stands and see your white hair. It always made me feel good to know you were there. I knew that no matter how I played, you were proud of me. And as I think about you being here in Cleveland last year at Alan’s wedding and how you watched the CVC people go in and out of the building that you son (me!) helped build, I knew then that you were proud of me and what God has done through me.
I’ll never forget you cutting out the beer ads from the calendar I hung on the wall from the college newspaper at Vandy. And I’ll never forget you throwing away my playing cards when I came home after my first year riding the buses and playing cards games at Vandy. You didn’t want college to corrupt your kid. And it didn’t, in part, I’m sure because of your vigilance and your prayers.
From you, I have learned the importance of hard work. Why? You set a great example all those years as a checker at Krogers. I have learned the importance of obeying God. Why? You taught me to tithe because the tithe belongs to God. I have learned the value of commitment. Why? You stayed by the side of dad even when the news wasn’t good. I have learned the importance of serving others. Why? You always took care of the older people when you were younger.
So, all this to say, “Thanks and I love you.” Thank you for bringing me into this world. Thanks for the discipline – like the time when I was little and you spanked me for not picking up the books I scattered. Thanks for always being interested in what I was doing. Thanks for building a good family, a stable home, a secure home, a safe home. Lots of kids grow up in fear and condemnation. Not me. I grew up knowing I was valued and appreciated and loved. That means a lot. You made it happen.
So, today, I rise up and call you blessed.
All my love,
Rick

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Genealogy of Jesus
On Saturday nights at CVC, we take questions from the congregation about the topic of the message for the night. I really love that interaction. Sometime, people ask questions that don't have anything to do with the topic. Since I don't want people to be distracted from the "big idea" of the evening, I don't usually answer those.
So, here's a question that came my way that I didn't answer on Saturday night, but I will seek to answer now: Both Matthew and Luke trace Jesus' ancestry through his adoptive father, Joseph. How can we be sure that He is really descended from King David and Abraham?
Below is my answer:
It seems clear that Matthew (Matthew 1:1-17) and Luke (Luke 3:23-38) traced Jesus' ancestry differently. Both Matthew and Luke give a genealogical list for the descent of Jesus. But when these are compared, differences and difficulties appear immediately. The most obvious difference is that Matthew's list begins with Abraham and leads to Jesus, while Luke's list begins with Jesus and leads to Adam.
The comparison presents two problems; the difference in the number of generations and the dissimilarity of names. How can the two genealogies be harmonized without sacrificing their historical integrity?
Don't forget that Matthew wrote to the Jews to present Jesus as King of the Jews. The account is in Matthew 1:1-17. Matthew shows us that Jesus was a legal heir to the throne of David. His relationship to David the King of Israel is mentioned even before His relationship to Abraham, the father of Israel. Matthew's genealogy traces the ancestors of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus. Matthew wanted to show Jesus' relationship to the Old Testament and the Messianic kingdom. So, it was appropriate that he show that Jesus had a legal claim to the Davidic throne.
Matthew wrote his pospel primarily for the Jews, while Luke wrote his gospel primarily for the Greeks. Matthew's genealogy emphasized Jesus' claim to the throne of David through Joseph. Since Luke's readers were less concerned about the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, his genealogy differs. Luke emphasizes the humanity of Jesus and His identification with us as humans. So, he demonstrates His humanity by recording his human descent through his human parent, Mary. In Luke, His geneology is traced back to Adam. In Luke, Joseph is not properly part of the genealogy, and is mentioned only parenthetically, Luke 3:23 could then read something like "Jesus ... was the son (so it was thought, of Joseph) of Heli."
These things matter. Jesus is the true King of Israel. He reigns and we must worship. And He is truly one of us - truly human. He can sympathize with our weaknesses.
And one more thing: Keep in mind that many first century Jews were literate and were vocal opponents of Christianity. Unlike us, they had closer access to the original genealogical records. If the genealogies had not been accurate, it would have been more easy for a first century Jew to challenge them. But we have no record of the Jewish people challenging the genealogies. This is yet one more reason for us to trus the accuracy of the gospel writers.

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