Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Best Father's Day Gift

I want a pair of astronomical binoculars. If you're wondering what I want for Father's Day this year, that's it.  They are these huge binoculars that are about three times as big as a standard set of terrestrial binoculars. They are so heavy that you just about have to mount them on a tripod. You use them to look at the moon, stars, galaxies and other night time objects in the sky. Last year I don't remember what I wanted, but the year before it was an iPhone.  What I really want, though, is to be a man of honor, integrity, one who brings honor, not shame, to my God, my church, and my family. 

You can give me a gun, binoculars, or a phone, but you can't give me what I want and need the most, but God can, and He said He wants to.  So, for the next thirty days, will you join me in praying for men.  We'll pray right through Father's Day, and on to the end of the month.  Each day I'll post a Biblical prayer for us to pray. Here, let's warm up today . . .

Father in Heaven, you are the perfect Father. You have loved us perfectly. Thank You, Father. Help us now to pray. Make us desperate for You in prayer. Make us believe that we can do nothing apart from You, and that we must pray.  Father, we commit to You to pray for the men in our lives, fathers, brothers, sons, pastors, and friends.  May this month be a month of revival for men.  In the name of Your Son, Jesus, I pray.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Put On Your New Clothes

When we come to Christ, there is a radical transformation that takes place which Jesus calls being "born again."  One of His apostles describes it, "Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life." (Rom.6:4)  He then describes the quality and scope of this life we have been given in Christ, saying, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come." (2Cor.5:17)

The gift is like a new wardrobe. We have received it, now we must open it and begin to put on this new clothing. It is a daily choice we make, we will either put on our old life over this new life we have been given or we will put on the gift of Christ.  The apostle writes about this contrasting wardrobe, telling us "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires." (Rom.13:14)

Once we have been born again all things are new, new things have come, and we are radically changed. Yet, the only set of clothes we have ever been comfortable with is the old set. So, we must make the choice to put on what Christ has given. This change must take place in what we think so that what we do will reflect who we now are in Christ.  We know how to think and behave like people who were not born again. Now we must continually unpack the new clothing, given to us in Christ, and described in detail in His Word. "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." (Rom.12:2)

One of the places where Jesus describes this new wardrobe is found in great detail in the 5th through the 7th chapters of Matthew. It is a sermon He preached to a crowd of people on a hillside one day.  Read it, then put it on.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cures, Coaches & God's Word

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." ~ Deuteronomy 6:5-7

I know a young man who travels thousands of miles a year to receive specialized treatment in the hopes of curing an illness that, if not cured, will take his life. He believes that the trip is worth it because his life is at stake. He is willing to go to this great expense and this great length to get to the cure.

Years ago in Texas I worked with a friend whose son was a baseball prodigy. They spent thousands of dollars and hours preparing him to pitch in the pros. He got his chance, signing with the Pirates, but because of moral failures and character issues he was dropped. They had sacrificed everything for him to pitch, but had never taught him the thing that could have made him a real success. They never taught him the Word.

I know parents who have made other sacrifices for another purpose. They have sacrificed time and resources.  Sometimes they have sacrificed their children's popularity so that they could learn the Word of God. They have worked hard to be part of a local church where the Word of God is taught, sacrificed time and effort to make sure their children were part of Bible teaching ministries in that church, and given of themselves and their resources to teach other children the Word of God.  They do this because they believe that the most important thing is defined by God, not the world.

While most of us would do whatever it took to find a cure for a illness, especially for our children, there is a limit to medicine. Everyone will still die. All of us want the best possible chance for our children's future success, but there is a limit to talent and success.  In the end the greatest athlete, most successful businessman, and most popular politician will be nothing more than a byline in history. And, even that history will one day come to an end.

These things are not unimportant. They are just not the most important.  God has defined what is most important.  Give all you have to know and love God, to know His Word, and to teach it to your children. Only God's Word can give us what we need, both for life and eternity.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Golf, God, Church, etc.

I had to stop playing golf years ago because of a rare condition. I loved the game as a teen, even beat a future PGA pro at a junior tournament. Sadly, my game was inconsistent at best. I might play a round in the low 70's one week, and work to drop under 90 the next.  I tried in college, but because of my condition my game deteriorated. Through the years I would try again, usually when someone else bugged me into playing.  Yet, my condition continued to affect my game.

It's not a physical or mental condition. It's spiritual. I lose my Christianity when I play golf. Maybe it's because I used to be good, and now I am very, very bad. Maybe it's because I have to buy golf balls by the dozen just to finish 18 holes.  Maybe it's because I kept losing my clubs - finding them wrapped around trees . . . watching them fly through the air into water hazards. Whatever the cause, my entire language changed when I played golf.  So, to any of you golfers who want me to play with you, don't ask.

What's crazy is that I still have a set of clubs. I saw them in the shed the other day and said, "Wow, there are my golf clubs."  I haven't played in years, and have no intention of ever playing again, but they were still MY clubs.

It's kind of like when so many people say, "hey, there's MY church," and they haven't been in years, much less actually participated in the ministry of that church.  Or, like when someone says, "he's MY God," when they haven't had a decent conversation with Him since the last job they lost, or the last time someone got really sick.

I guess they have a condition, too.

Monday, May 2, 2011

So Osama Bin Laden Is Dead

Bin Laden was not just lost, but was a preacher of lostness. He followed a religion that denies Christ, and his brand of that religion kills Christians. It also kills its own adherents who differ in theology. That is why many millions of Muslims around the world will rejoice at the news of his death.  The gospel Bin Laden preached increased the occupancy of Hell. His false god, Allah, and his false prophet, Mohammad, send sons and daughters to die for their faith in the hope of gaining access to a false paradise. The one true God sent His son to die for us. He does not send us to die for Him. Bin Laden led thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of sons and daughters to their death and an eternity of suffering. Can we possibly mourn his passing?  Should we, or should we dance in the streets that our enemy is dead?

God says it is not wise to gloat at the death of an enemy. "Don't gloat when your enemy falls, and don't let your heart rejoice when he stumbles, or the Lord will be displeased, and turn His wrath away from him."  (Prov. 24:17)  While we can be thankful that an enemy of mankind, of freedom, of our country, and of our faith has been stopped, there is no reason for us to throw a party.

As long as Bin Laden lived, we prayed for his salvation. I have often dreamed of hearing of his conversion to Christ, and his subsequent death. Make no mistake, his compatriots would have quickly dispatched him if he had believed in the one true God through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Now, given what he preached, his fate is eternal suffering.  Maybe you have heard it said, "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."  Well, there was no worse enemy than Osama Bin Laden, and I would not wish Hell on him. I do not, cannot wish it on anyone.

We wish Heaven on everyone. Our mission is not retribution. Vengeance belongs to God.  Our mission is the gospel to all nations, all people, all individuals. We can rejoice today that one purveyor of evil and death will no longer murder. We can rejoice that God is on the throne. We can give thanks that justice has been served, but we cannot rejoice that our enemy has gained a soul. As long as there is life, as long as we live here and preach the gospel, until all is said and done, one more occupant in Hell is no cause for dancing in the street.