Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Will Draw All Men

The salesman was talking to his supervisor about the sales pitch he had just made that had ended without a sale. The salesman sought to dismiss his failed attempt with the adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

His supervisor responded pointedly, “You job isn’t to make him drink. Your job is to make him thirsty.”

Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

Jesus is so attractive. Not in regard to his appearance. Scripture says that Jacob was good looking, but nothing is ever said like that about Jesus. His attraction is in his power, love, justice, holiness, and godliness. Much of his nature was revealed prior to the Golgotha event, but when he was lifted up, all of those attributes were magnified a thousand fold! If people will notice him, they will be drawn to him. When people see Jesus, really see him, they get thirsty.

If people hear what we say, and they are not drawn to Jesus – they don’t get thirsty – could it be that they are not really seeing him? If the picture we paint with our words as we speak about Jesus is consistently ineffective, could it be that we are not “lifting up” Jesus, but something or someone else? There will be those who consider the cross foolishness, but if we rarely see someone who sees in our message the “power of God” and believes to their salvation, we need to rethink our words. Are we trying to make people drink with our reasoning, or are we trying to make people thirsty with the good news?

When we lift Jesus up, he will draw all men to himself. That’s Life at Work!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Golden Rule

Sometimes my understanding of scripture is impacted by my selfishness.  What did Jesus mean when he said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt 7:7-8)?  I have discovered that it’s not about me and what I would petition for, seek out, and knock to enquire about.  Matthew connects this saying of Jesus with teaching about God’s goodness as a Father, and then he commands that we do to others as we would have them do to us.  That sums up the Law and the Prophets.

God gives us what we need when we ask, seek, and knock.  Since God is that way, shouldn’t we be that way.  We are so glad that God doesn’t give us stones and snakes when we are seeking bread and fish.  If he gives me good things, how could I, as his child, not give good things to people when they ask me?

There are two questions to consider, then, when someone asks me for something.  First, would I be like God if I refused this request?  Second, how would I want them to respond if the tables were turned?

Do to others as you would want them to do to you.  That’s Life at Work!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Brooks and Dunn released “Believe” a few weeks ago, a song about a young man who was unofficially mentored by an old man in his hometown. The old man had experienced much grief, and the young man was amazed at his sanity. “How do you keep from going crazy?”

He said, ‘I'll see my wife and son in just a little while.’
I asked him what he meant
He looked at me and smiled, said

‘I raise my hands, bow my head;
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red.
They tell me that there's more to life than just what I can see.
Oh I believe.’

There will always be something more in the words written in red for you to find in your search for truth. There is an endless supply of living water and bread of life for you. You’ll never be thirsty or hungry, but you’ll never empty the stream or the storehouse. How should I live in these circumstances? How should I treat this person whom I have contacted? How can I have peace in my heart? What does love look like? Why do I feel like God is against me? How could God forgive me for what I’ve done? Why has God blessed me so much? How can I have hope for tomorrow in the darkness of today? How can there be anything better than what I am experiencing with the grace of God right now?

All these questions, and there is truth in the words of Scripture about them. There is more to life that just what you can see. It doesn’t all end in a slow riding hearse. I believe! That’s Life at Work!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Judas, DaVinci, and Jesus

The discovery of the Gospel of Judas and the publication and production of the book and movie The DaVinci Code draw attention to literature from an early Christian period to which few of us give any thought.

So, now that they have drawn our attention, what do you think? The Gospel of Judas, though recently discovered does not reflect ideas that are only recent ideas. Most of what we have heard of the Gospel of Judas involves details about Judas’ relationship with Jesus and how that story differs from the story in the gospels of the New Testament. There are other details in the Gospel of Judas, however, that reflect influence by heretics of the early days of Christianity. The early Christians knew to disregard the philosophies of these teachers, and we should follow their lead. These false teachers were not leaders of a rival Christianity who were put down by the stronger group. They were heretics rejected by Christians who held to the teachings of Jesus as revealed in gospel accounts that they knew were authentic.

Here are three important things to remember in regard to recent exploration of the gospels of Judas, Philip, Thomas, and Mary Magdalene. First, there is little newness here. The agenda to make Jesus what people want Jesus to be is not new. That is what is happening here and we do not need to be disturbed when darkness acts like darkness. Second, the assertion that the books in our Bible are the result of stronger group beating back a weaker group is false. Third, the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are reliable. The early church knew it, and that fact can be demonstrated today. That’s Life at Work.

Friday, June 16, 2006

He Used His Authority

Ferdinand I, emperor of Austria in the mid 1800’s, was insane; and according to historical accounts, wasn’t too smart even in his more controlled moments. He knew, however, that his position was one of authority, and he could demand whatever he wished. His one recorded demand that is worthy of note reflects his poor leadership quality. He said, “I am the emperor, and I want dumplings.”

You would hope that a man with an emperor’s authority would at least leave a legacy of notable anecdotes. Ferdinand wanted dumplings.

Jesus said that “all authority in heaven and earth” was his. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Did he know that his position was one of authority? Yes, he did; and he did leave a legacy of notable sayings. Some of the more famous ones are: “Do to others what you would have them do to you” and “Blessed are the merciful because they will be shown mercy.”

Did Jesus do anything significant with his authority? Of course he did! He conquered sin and death! He set the captives free! He’s gone to prepare a place for people of faith, and we will rule with him. Jesus knew what to do with his authority. He is worthy of our trust and discipleship. Have you submitted to his authority? That’s Life at Work!

You Can Call Me....

The day after Henry Kissinger was nominated as secretary of state in the early 1970’s, he held a news conference. One of the newsmen asked this final question: “Do you prefer being called ‘Mr. Secretary or ‘Dr. Secretary’?”

“I don’t stand on protocol,” Kissinger said without a flinch. “If you will call me ‘Excellency,’ that will be okay.”

I doubt anybody every addressed him “Excellency,” except in jest, perhaps. Nobody has ever addressed me that way. But I, along with other forgiven faithful folks, do have several names or designations that are important to us.

“Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:13-15; NIV)

“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

Friends, Christians, and Children of God! Notice that no follower is called those things because of his own greatness. Everything we are is by God’s grace. Obey him. Praise Him. Thank him for his wonderful love! That’s Life at Work!

Fathers and Leaders

Leadership Journal’s website featured an article titled “Like Father, Like Leader” that revealed some great thought that are worth sharing. The entire article can be read at The Christianity Today website is good to have in your list of favorite sites anyway. Check it out.

Gordon Dalbey suggests three things to remember in your role as a dad and as a leader in general:

Watch for what God is doing in people and bless it.President Kennedy once recalled, "If I walked out on stage and fell flat on my face, Father would say I fell better than anyone else." Good fathers look for opportunities to encourage their children, not with false praise, but with honest appraisal.

Our tendency is to be quick with criticism and slow with praise. We forget that even our kids need to hear words that build up instead of tear down. Is your attention to what your kids do right at least as keen as your attention to what they do wrong. By the way, you may want to ask them instead of asking yourself. Remember that even if you don’t agree with their assessment, it is still their perspective and “perspective is reality.”

Don't coerce behavior, no matter how righteous, but lead into deeper relationship with Jesus.Trying to force "proper behavior" without a loving hand of grace stirs rebellion because it violates the child's heart, which God has already oriented, if not to do the right thing, certainly to do what Dad does. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" (Eph. 5:1).

Surely the command to avoid embittering your children in Ephesians 6 should cause us to reconsider manipulation and browbeating to coerce good behavior. Go out of your way to model integrity, compassion, generosity, and honesty to your children. God’s primary way of changing you is not via threat of punishment, but calling you to imitate Christ.

Recognize your faults, but don't pass them on.

All of us are going to make mistakes in front of our kids and our children will likely imitate us in it at some point. When you mess up, admit to you children, apologize and vow to do better. Why should your kids respect their mother when you speak disrespectfully to her in front of them and never apologize? Why should your sons respect females when they see you gawking at the Victoria Secret ad? Apologize today. Don’t pass on your faults!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

God Has Spoken

“If we are going to have answers for the twentieth century world, we must not only have a God who exists, be we must have a God who has spoken” (Francis A. Schaeffer).

I read that first from the preacher’s perspective. It’s likely that you didn’t. I read it as if someone has asked me a question. I know that if I have any answer to offer, I must go to God’s word to offer the answer from heaven.

But not everyone asks the preacher. And often, the preacher has questions himself about God and heavenly things related to him. It’s not enough at the time of questioning to know that God exists. If I am going to find the true answer to my most significant questions, I’ve got to know that God has spoken and that his truth is found in scripture.

The writer of Hebrews confirms, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). I believe that careful contemplation of our universe can direct an individual toward belief in the existence of God and even the truth that he rewards those who seek him. However, to know how to seek him, we must have a God who has spoken. He has spoken. He has the answers for you and for me. That’s Life at Work!