TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

Monday, August 13, 2018

Lessons from the Hummingbird


I enjoy having a hummingbird feeder outside a window that allows me to watch these fascinating creatures feed during the summer months. Towards the end of summer, they seem to feed more vigorously, causing me to refill the feeder often. 

As mid-August comes, it seems as if the birds start to fight more than they eat. There is plenty of food for all of them, and when it runs low, I refill the supply. As long as I am here, they will not run out of food in this spot. Add to that the fact that the feeder has multiple feeding stations and you would think that these beautiful birds could easily share, and that there would be harmony in the skies surrounding my home.

Yet, they seem to be thinking that this is the last meal they will have, and that there is only one feeding station. The fights can get brutal as they begin to resemble fighter planes more than cute little birds. 

I am amused by their acrobatics, and wonder if God observes us in the same way that I am observing these birds. 

God, too, has supplied all that I would need, and has given mankind many “feeding stations”from which to drawAs long as He is around, and He will be around for eternity, those who depend on Him will be adequately supplied. 

Yet, we seem to be thinking that we, too, have limited supply, and that there is no possible way for us to enjoy what we have if others are moving into our territory.  We watch others so closely that we cannot enjoy the provision we have, and we guard our territory as if the supply is soon to be exhausted. 

God loves us and is perfectly capable of caring for us and every other person He has ever created. Those who know Him, trust Him, and are thrilled when others join them at the “feeder” that He has provided, filled, and sustains. 

According to the local bird watchers, and without any real scientific observation or reasoning,when the Labor Day holiday comes, one should stop feeding the hummingbirds so that they will start to head south for the winter. The theory continues that if I keep an adequate supply during that time of year, I might encourage them to stay too long, and see that my provision for them has caused them harm, when it was meant for good. The intent of the free food is to help them, not to harm them. (I realize that migrating birds seem to know when to go, so the local bird watchers may be wrong in their understanding of migrating animalsbut, since this is a thought and not a scientific paper, we will go with it.)

As the natural food supply runs out, I let the artificial food supply run out as well.  It is difficult for me to watch the hummingbirds come to the feeder and find nothing. I can almost hear them moan and blame me, and even accuse me of not caring. I realize that these birds would eventually migrate, however, the thought of one crazy thinking bird that decides to hang out because the supply is plentiful and easy is enough to say “enough.”

God knows what we need and when we need it, and He is capable and willing to provide all that we need. He also knows what is needed during each season of life, and He will give abundantly and cease to give according to what is best for us. (No scientific reasoning is needed on this thought.)

God is older than us, smarter than us, and loves us. We can trust Him.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Owners and Managers

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV)
How does one honor God with one’s wealth? We all have wealth, to different degrees. We have resources, and these resources are really ours to manage, not to own. If we think we own things, we act like owners. If we manage things, we act like managers.
Owners have little accountability. Managers have much accountability. Owners make decisions based on what suits them best. Managers make decisions based on how it benefits the owner’s best interest.
When we talk about someone taking ownership, we mean that they act in accordance with ownership, not that they act like the actual owner, for if they did, they would not last long.
All positions of authority on earth are stewardship positions, not ownership positions. Even if you own a business, you really do not own it, God does, and one day you will give an account of how you used His resources, the resources with which you have been entrusted.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Wheat


Look carefully at a stalk of wheat: its height would be something like four and a half feet and the diameter would be a mere sixteenth of an inch. For comparison let us imagine a building 1,250 feet high. (It would be a building of something like 100 stories). And this on a surface of only one square yard. Now, just at the top of the stalk is the heavy fruit. It is moved by winds but does not break. The stalk contains a splendidly conceived mechanical system. It is still a mystery to men how the water ascends to the very top. We need pumps to provide water for the upper floors of our high buildings. We could not make something as marvelous as the stalk. 
( Richard Wurmbrand)






Sunday, July 29, 2018

The more things change.....

Through the years we have witnessed many plans implemented to improve our situations. In my youth, those who attended church were actively involved in what the church was about. We went to church Sunday morning (Sunday School and Church), Sunday night, and Wednesday night for prayer and deep Bible Study. When I was in high school, I went to my high school youth club and was a leader of a club designed for third through fifth-grade boys. 

My weekends were often spent traveling six hours north to the camp with whom our church partnered (where I serve today), and my summers were spent serving young people from back as far as I can remember. Our senior pastor, my dad, would often be the driver, and led us in work, attitude, and Bible Study. I remember that it was normal for youth pastors, leaders, and high school and college-age people to spend the entire summer serving others in this remote location. 

We were busy people.

The problems we faced were not new to our generation, and the solutions we attempted to apply, in retrospect, did little to solve the real problem, and have now entrenched itself as normal in our evangelical experience. 

It seems that after a while, the demise of the family and all social and spiritual ills were attributed to being too busy. The idea of busyness being next to Godliness was and should have been challenged, but we seemed to be focused on issues that had little to do with the actual problems the church was experiencing. 

It is not new or prudent to blame exterior circumstances, people, and programs for our deficiencies. The family was falling apart due to our increased narcissism, not our busyness. 

In fact, what was normal was challenged, and in doing so, a new normal was declared. This new normal was not something that was new at all, and it did not really take full effect until the old normal, and those who embraced it, became evil themselves. 

The old guard became accused of being non-relational workaholics who cared more about doing than being. They were also accused of being dogmatic, legalistic, and out of touch with modern times. 

While there are not sacred methods, only sacred principles, they were accused of making their methods sacred, and for a society where individuality ruled, corporate methods were, well, downright evil. 

Throughout time, we began to switch the focus from God and Bible Study to me and hours of immersion in the culture. The new normal took over, and the old guard was tolerated. The focus, supposedly, was now on the family, self, and relationships, and structure was only valid if it benefited my personal agenda. 

We somehow reduced the church to one service a week with a clever message, about twenty minutes long, that appealed to the masses, and we hired more professional to make sure the music, ambiance, and coffee were just as the masses desired them. We made the chairs more comfortable, the atmosphere more secular, and the times more convenient. 

We lessened the commitment of those who were asked to serve, and in doing so, reduced the effectiveness of their service. We somehow considered it a sacrifice rather than a privilege to teach Sunday School, be a youth leader, or to clean the church bathroom. 
We turned our pastors into specialists, and then hired more of them to do the jobs that the members of the church used to do. 

We changed when the youth clubs met, and moved them to one night, so we would not disturb the family, and even shortened the night and club year to accommodate busy schedules.

With all the changes over the past 25 years, we should be able to look and see that we now have a healthier church. We should see stronger families, people who know more of God’s Word, and who have the habit of walking with Him. We should see more service and more impact in the workplace for our King. 

You would think we would see fewer suicides, depression, anxiety, and stress. Our youth works should be thriving, and, with the amassed wealth of Americans, the church should be sitting on a sound financial foundation. 

Yet, we do not see these things, which means that the changes made had little or nothing to do with the problems we were encountering, and that, once again, we, as people, were duped into blaming something other than ourselves for the problems we experienced. 

I am not sure that being busy is an answer to anything, just as I am sure that focusing on anything other than God is a not a good idea.

In the museum of antiquity in Constantinople, there is the oldest piece of writing known to men. It bears the following inscription: “Alas times are not what they used to be! Children no longer obey their parents, and everybody is writing a book about it.”


The more things change the more they stay the same. Perhaps I need to admit that I am the problem, and then go from there and make myself available to God so that He can work in and through me. Perhaps I need to stop focusing on what is “good” for me and instead focus on the best way to show those around me who God is. Perhaps we need to see the church as a place of corporate service, rather than a service to the corporate. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tentmakers?

Tentmakers

We are all tentmakers.

The apostle Paul made tents by day and used his free time to teach and minister to those with whom he had an opportunity to do so. Indeed, he did not want to be a burden to those he ministered to, but perhaps there is more to the story. 

Paul was one who understood that God works through the ordinary, and it was ordinary for him to work at making tents. The work of making tents was a sacred calling, not just a job, and he used his resources to meet his needs (so he would not be a burden to others), and to meet the needs of those around him who were “needy.”

Acts 20:34-35 says this: You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Our first calling is to be faithful in the job we are currently doing. If we are a tentmaker, we are committed to make tents and to use the resources and the work itself to represent Christ. We were made to glorify God, to show the world who He is, and by working hard and being generous, we can do that. 

Today, at times, it seems as if young people who love God, spend time with Him, and want to serve Him are encouraged to go into “ministry.” We seem to treat people “like that” as if they are unusual, thereby admitting that we think that God does not especially call the ordinary worker in his/her everyday work. 

Those who love God who are lawyers, teachers, judges, doctors, grocery store clerks, and more should see their callings the same, other than daily chores, as those who are set apart for ministry. The work we do is sacred, and the rewards we earn are not for self-indulgence. Instead, they are for the building up of the kingdom.

Paul makes it clear that we should care for those who we have chosen to shepherd us so those who are set apart for this role should be cared for by the people whom they serve. There need not be fundraisers or special pleas for those who have given up hope of having the resources to care for themselves to minister to others. If those they serve are too spiritually immature to see their responsibility, or incapable of meeting all of the needs of those who minister, God will provide through other members of the body who are making “tents” elsewhere. 

It seems that “Christians” have lost the idea of all occupations being sacred, and the resources gained from such work belongs to God, not ourselves. I think we have learned to use our resources as ways to care for ourselves first, and others if somehow it still benefits ourselves or our agenda. Often, those who have an idea or believe they have a call from God spend more time and effort raising funds than working the mission. 

God loves cheerful givers, and we do not give grudgingly, or of necessity, therefore, we do not give to causes out of guilt or just because of need. We give because we are excited to be a part of God’s plan and our resources are His to direct.

There are many legitimate ministries that are looking to God to provide their needs, and if those who are believers are in tune with the Spirit of God, they will be burdened to provide what these ministries are lacking. All “callings” are sacred and have responsibilities attached to them, making us all the same, yet different. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Time

All things change in time. If I saw you and told you that today is Tuesday, you would not find that astonishing, because today is Tuesday. However, when we see each other tomorrow, and I assure you that today is Wednesday, you may be confused and call me a liar because the last time we met, I had said to you that today was Tuesday.

At times, time changes reality. This has tremendous implications for man and none for God because He does not change and lives in a timeless state. 

I may proclaim truth today the best I know how and tomorrow may discover something that alters the “truth” I proclaimed yesterday. My prideful, stubborn heart might insist in holding onto this “truth” not acknowledging the fact that all my information comes from finite, changeable, time infused reality.


Once again, the importance of knowing and listening to the voice of God is paramount in that listening to Him is the only possible way to enjoy what does not change and the only way to achieve stability in this life.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Weed Seed

Life affords limited resources. Regardless of how many times the coach has told us, we need to give 110% we only have 100% available. We have 100% energy, time, money, etc. If we use 50% of our emotional capital on worry, we only have 50% left for focusing on something constructive. Since we have a time and date where we will leave this world, every second that passes brings us closer to that moment and there is nothing we can do to change that date.

The Bible often uses farming illustrations to help us understand growth, development and the end of harvesting. God, the giver of life and all good things, gives us the soil of life. 

Weeds and desirable plants both thrive in good soil. In fact, at times, all the young plants look similar. The real difference takes place as the plants distinguish themselves. 

Weeds are dangerous in that they can stunt or destroy the desired plant and yield. If they are recognized too late or ignored when the opportunity was available to destroy them, they limit potential and cause much more labor during the harvest.

In farming or gardening, this is well understood, but in life, we seem to ignore these principles. The comfort God allows us to enjoy is like the fertile soil in that both good and undesirable plants can thrive in its environment. For example, the money we have can be invested into the meaningful or the meaningless and both can grow. Our healthy bodies can be a place that allows both the meaningful and meaningless to co-exist thereby limiting any real good effects the desirable might produce. 

God always and only provides us with good seed and soil. It is possible to get bad seed, but not from God. It is possible to have good seed placed into soil that has been “corrupted” thereby exhausting any growth potential or limiting the eventual harvest. The choice of where we get the seed and what kind of soil we put it in obviously matters. (Matthew 13)

Those who pay attention to and prepare the soil should also be careful as to where they get the seed. Those who get good seed need to make sure it is placed in prepared soil. Regardless, one needs to be on the lookout for “weed seed” or be willing to pay the consequences. 

Life has choices that matter and therefore have consequences. It is not always easy to see through the lens of self what is best, and for many, who have ignored the ideas of a limited resource, there will be regrets on the day we face our King. 

Perhaps one of the most devious tactics of the Evil One is the planting of weed seed in the adequately prepared soil of our lives. As troublesome as it may be, it would be wise to identify and destroy those weeds as soon as they are identified. 

Successful farmers work tirelessly to insure a successful crop. Those who are successful in life apply the same principles.