Friday, September 28, 2012

Answer to a Prayer

Working behind the scenes at the sound board, light board or running the presentation software, that's where you can find me on most Sundays. At the young age of 22 I have already been working back there for 7 years and will be many more. I say this just to bring up the fact that it isn’t the most glorious job in the world, in fact the only time those in the production booth are noticed is when a big noticeable mistake is made. 

I have made my fair share of mistakes and then some, many of them recently. Being a perfectionist (who went to school for this) when even the smallest mistake occurs I feel like I have failed on some grand scale. On a Wednesday where I put Sunday's songs in the presenter software, gave a speaker a mic with a dead battery, and replaced it with another mic that for some odd reason worked on the line test before handing it over and after service but not when the speaker had it.

 I was beginning to wonder why I do this. When I least expected it a young man who for lack of better words was at rock bottom (more than I’m sure I know or could even fathom) walks up into the booth. I was happy to see him but confused as to why he needed a towel at that very moment. Turns out he heard the man up on stage give his testimony before being baptized and wanted to join him upon hearing that Jesus didn’t want people who were perfect but those who were rather imperfect, like him.

 Long story short I was very happy to abandon my post for a moment and get him that towel. The following Sunday, the countryman mic the speaker was given (by me) ended up having a short in it. Despite the offer of others in the booth I decided I would be the one to suck it up and take the blame in front of the congregation via a very public mic exchange.

 Days later a woman approached me to thank me. At first I was a little confused as to why but she explained that lately she had been praying to hear God’s voice more clearly. She hadn’t expected the prayer to be answered by a 22 year old boy! It's easy for me to think of things in my terms as far as what is success and what is failure, what is important and what isn’t, but I think that God measures these things on a drastically different scale. I needed to be reminded of the true purpose of the   equipment in the booth, not to illuminate the stage or make the perfect mix of the worship band but to illuminate God’s love and make His voice heard among His children.  (end)

The above message is from the blog of my great-nephew, Kendon.  What a tremendous insight into the purpose and work of those who are usually behind the scenes. It doesn't have to be in a sound booth or in the area of lighting. It could just as easily be someone who sends a card to those in the hospital or someone who gives rides to the grocery store. As Paul told the Ephesians," For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Even when we make a mistake or create a comical blunder before the entire church, it is such a blessing to know those who are devoted to the work of the Lord are all helping to make God's voice heard among his children. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Healing of a Land

Today's post is repeated from last February by request. We have touched on the subject matter and the verse of scripture used in the post, but considering our country's upcoming election of leaders, we are happy to post this article again.  --RonB

The Healing of a Land

There is some bad stuff happening in our country. The God-fearing men who established our nation wouldn't recognize it today. The inscriptions of the Ten Commandments on our national buildings have been met with court decisions to have them removed or covered. 
This is a land of freedom in which you are free to express yourself by burning an American flag, but if you wish to display an American flag in front of your house, you must get permission. That permission is often refused if the flag offends anyone in your neighborhood.
New laws are enacted which protect criminals while victims still suffer. Our courts are so backed up with cases that a person might be charged with a dozen DUI offenses before his trial begins for his first offense.  Yes, bad things are happening. It just doesn't seem fair. (Our favorite response.) The sad part is that a long time ago, God gave the remedy for a nation gone bad. His truth still stands.
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Do you feel any personal responsibility for the condition of our country?  Does the Christian have such a responsibility? Can we, individually as one person, make a difference? We are God's people, called by his name.  He instructs us to be humble and pray and seek his face. Do you see that happening in today's world? Has it happened in your life?
The turning from our wicked ways, gives some encouraging promises. God says he will hear us from heaven, and he will forgive our sin, and he will heal our land.  We know the condition of the world, and we know the willingness of God to heal our nation. Consider accepting God's remedy in the above verse. Commit the verse to memory, share it with others, make it your responsibility today to seek God's healing for our country. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Have and Have-Not

Take a moment today and read the story in Matthew 25:14-30. it's a story that couldn't be considered suspense because the thoughtful reader can just about figure how things are going to turn out.  There was a wealthy man who was about to leave on a journey and he entrusted the safekeeping of his fortune to three of his servants. 

One thing we must understand is there is no unfairness in the amount of his money which he entrusted to his servants. Jesus said they received different amounts, each according to his ability. So one servant received five talents of money, another two talents, and the third received one talent.  The first of the servants took the five talents, put it to work and experienced a gain of five more talents.  The same with the second; he gained two more talents. But the third servant took his one talent and hid it in a hole in the ground just so it would be safe. 

Needless to say, at the return of the wealthy man, he was happy with the first two servants because they had doubled their master's money. The third servant was a disappointment and was called a wicked and lazy servant. His punishment was the loss of the one talent he had been given.

Responsibility over the things entrusted to us is always important. This man's wisdom in passing out the money to his servants was in realizing ahead of time that each of the servants had different abilities. On the day when the master returned the time for accountability had come. The wisdom of the first two servants is seen in their respect for their master, and in preparation for the time to give an account. The third one confessed that his fears had kept him from doing anything other than hiding the talent. He was cast outside, far away from the master who had trusted him. 

While we could see all this coming from the very beginning, there is a vital truth here that even many Christians have not grasped.  Where was your mind focused as the story unfolded?  What was the important part to you?  Most people miss the point of the story because they think it's about money when in reality, Jesus was talking about the kingdom of God. 

Hopefully, that throws a different light on the story for all of us. Jesus was using an illustration about money to show us the valuable importance we should place on things of the kingdom, namely the treasures of God's grace and mercy.  The real message of the parable is those who manifest in their lives a richness of being gracious and forgiving toward others, will receive even more mercy and grace.  Those who are poor in compassion and concern will find themselves lacking . 

The world around us will probably continue to miss the truth of this story. It's a story we should share through example and proclaiming it to others. This is the treasure of the kingdom, entrusted to us. Our lives of love, peace, mercy, meekness and righteousness, will hear the Master say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!"  


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I will pray

Are you sick of all the political ads on TV?  Brace yourself. In the coming month it's going to get worse. For some time we have been enlightened by the position and beliefs of one candidate, only to have the opposing candidate try to cancel out the statements made by the first. The next day candidate number one tries to negate statements made by candidate two. Many voters exit the voting booth in celebration because the political ads and arguments are finally over....till next time. 

Numerous opinions on which candidate we should vote for can be heard in the coffee shops, on the street, and even in the discussions with friends at church.  That might bring up the question, "Is there a candidate that would be the right choice for a Christian?"  

While you mull that over in your mind, you might also ask yourself about your feelings and motives in selecting the candidate which will receive your vote. After all, Jesus has said in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should not be judging each other.  We should always be aware that the judgment we use on someone else is the same judgment God will use on us. 

Entering a voting booth and pulling one lever is a form of judging. It is also a form of selecting the right man for the job, according to our opinion. So in the established method of us selecting our leaders, there is the opportunity to decide which candidate is better. Harsh and cruel statements about either candidate has no place for the Christian. 

All of this leads me to encourage everyone to join in with one of the numerous religious leaders of our country in 40 days of prayer prior to election day.  Because of the importance of our country's leadership, nothing could be better for us than spending time in daily prayer for America.  Seek God's direction as you pray and be constant in your prayers. 

Here is a list of things I am going to pray about. You would do well to make a list of your own.

1.  I will pray for America. I would like to see America return to its roots of being a God-fearing nation that places emphasis on spiritual matters. 

2. I will pray that God will lead me in my selection of a leader.  I need to have the assurance that my vote will be cast according to the will of God. 

3. I will pray that God will make himself known to the winning candidate. Elected officials that place their trust in God are needed in today's world situations. 

4. I will pray that good, not evil, will come from this election. With so many locations across our globe in strife and conflict, my prayer will be for the will of the Father to prevail in all places, foreign and domestic. 

May we all grow closer to God and experience the love of the body of Christ in the days ahead. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Bedtime Grace

It's bedtime and you are preparing to turn in for the evening. The kids have been tucked in bed for a while but you check on them once more before you retire. You have watched your favorite TV program or read a few chapters in a book. The evening news and weather reports have just ended. All the lights are turned off except your bedside lamp and you make your way to bed. 

 What is usually on your mind at this point? Perhaps a few minutes to read something from the Bible? Maybe some thoughts about the day's activities or thoughts preparing you for tomorrow's responsibilities? Finally you reach over and turn off the lamp, but while you are resting your head on the pillow in the darkness of your bedroom, other thoughts come to your mind. 

One man I recently talked to said that is the time he starts asking himself questions.  Most of his questions are things like, did he make the right decision in the discipline of his children today? Was he productive at work, meeting the expectations of his supervisor?
He confessed that as a Christian, there were times when he questioned his relationship to God and wondered if he was living the life and being the person God wanted him to be. Further, this is the time he questions himself about helping people who are in need, being a friend to the friendless, and even his reaction to others in the church when there are disagreements.

As we talked, he admitted that he goes to sleep at night only after spending some time in prayer while wrestling over questions that are almost impossible to answer.  Then he asked if all that was normal or was he the only one that went through this procedure? I chuckled a bit and told him he had asked me a question that I couldn't answer. 

First of all, I did assure the man he was on the right track by taking these things to God in prayer each night, and the continued prayer of searching for answers to his questions was the correct way to ultimately find God's answers.  

I keep being reminded and also reminded my friend that some of those unanswered questions could be directly related to God's claim in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Above all, I told my friend that as a Christian, he needed to live his life knowing the blessing of God's grace.  Grace is God's gift to us because we are imperfect Christians, lacking, sinning, causing chaos, bringing disappointment, and not meeting expectations. Romans 5:1-2, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Observing the Lord's Supper

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The event which we know as the Lord's Supper is important in the lives of Christians.  There are probably as more differing opinions on the Lord's Supper than any other biblical subject. The when, where, how, and how often questions will probably never be settled. So the seemingly main event which Jesus left for us to observe together until his return, in many cases becomes a point for our division. 

In the scripture written above, Paul is instructing the Corinthian church on the importance of participating in the observance.  The words are reflective of the earlier scene in the upper room when Jesus and his disciples gathered together to celebrate Passover. That celebration had continued for centuries as the Jews remembered their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and passing through the Red Sea when God's power had parted the waters. To the ancient Jews, the observance of the Passover Supper was THE event that helped them to remember what God had done for them. 

At the end of the Passover, Jesus had told his disciples, "Do this in remembrance of me."  Paul was making sure the observance of remembering Jesus, and especially remembering Jesus' death, burial and resurrection which makes our salvation possible.

What do you usually think of while observing the Lord's Supper?  While we are commanded to observe the supper in remembrance of Jesus, there are several remembrances worthy of our consideration. For each individual Christian, perhaps it is a time for them to remember their life's journey since meeting Jesus.  It would be a time to remember the salvation experience, or to remember an answered prayer, or perhaps to remember when a new biblical truth was learned. It's actually a time for us to remember all of the interaction of Jesus in our hearts and lives. 

That leads me to expand on the thought of our remembrance  of what it means to have him living in us. His presence in us is a source of guidance in making decisions, comfort when we are sad, and strength when we need the spiritual power to work through a problem. In the observance of the supper, it is always uplifting to think of Jesus who lives in us. 

Of all the good things we can remember about Jesus, and especially when sharing the Lord's Supper with our spiritual family, it's a good time to remember Jesus has promised to come again. Christians are to live in expectation of the Lord's return. Just as real as the elements which are symbolic of his body and his blood, is the reality that he is coming back.  Remember who he is. And remember who we can become because of him.