Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Humility Leads to Greatness

The five year Bible School plan called for a quarter-long study on the book of Numbers. Even the staff complained: "Numbers? It's thirty-six chapters of self-centered people who whined every time they didn't get their way! I'll hate that! Give us something relevant!" (see Discipleship Journal, Spring 2008, p. 78)

"Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice" (Prov 13:10).

Pride, the root of selfishness, is the breath behind quarrelsome words. The Israelites did whine about everything, it seems; and so do we. If we don't get what we think we deserve fast enough, we complain. If we experience some discomfort when someone else could have prevented it, we moan. When we are convinced that something should go one way, and someone else thinks it should go another, we quarrel. When our weaknesses are exposed, we argue out of defensiveness.

Self-centeredness (pride) precedes destruction because quarrelling wrecks relationships (Proverbs 16:18). Humility leads to greatness – for yourself and your relationships! That's Life at Work!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This Is Huge (Bigger)

This is huge! What is it? It is the sin that gives us the most trouble. It is the temptation with which we constantly struggle. It is the most frequent failure, lost battle, step into the shadows, and missing of the mark. I don't know that the Hebrew writer was thinking specifically or generically, but it is the "sin that easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1).

The huge temptation is different for me in regard to the different roles I play. As a man, I struggle with keeping my eyes off of the impure images everywhere around me and keeping my mind out of the gutter. As a husband I realize I'll fight with my wife much more quickly that I would anyone else. As a dad, sometimes I veg out having given my energy to everybody else.

So what it is for you? What is it for you in your various roles? Certainly, Christians are forgiven because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We live in a relationship with God in which our sins are not counted against us. Our sins are forgiven. Our transgressions are covered (Romans 4:6-8).

But it is God's forgiveness, his Amazing Grace that compels us to put these sins to death. Since we died to sin, we must keep killing it whenever it resurrects. We have risen to walk a new life. We offer ourselves as living sacrifices because of God's mercy. We don't want to return to sin like a dog returns to his vomit! No way! We want to reduce this huge sin to nothing!

So let's expose it! Let's get it out on the table! Let's examine its power in our lives. Let's admit its presence. Let's agree with God that it is wrong and destructive. Let's agree with each other that we hate it. Let's make ourselves accountable to each other. Let's throw it off like an old coat so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us! That's Life at Work!

Help me out! Send an email listing what is huge in your life or what you recognize in huge in the lives of the people you know. I promise, I'll take it as an observation, not a confession. Email what's huge to thisishuge@southyukon.org. When we know the enemy, and identify his schemes, we can resist him so that he runs away!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This Is Huge

I'm beginning a series of sermons called "This Is Huge." What are the most significant temptations and struggles for various age groups and life settings. Let me know!


According to Consumer Reports, last year over $900 million on gift cards went unused. It's terribly sad when something of great value goes is unused. You might even say it's looney! Whether it is funds that could be used for God's glory, an ability or talent, a week, an opportunity to forgive, an hour to spend with a child, a word of admiration for a husband, an act of loving service for a wife, or a vote for something good and righteous – use what ought to be used to the glory of God.

"So the temple was once again used for worshipping the Lord" (2 Chronicles 29:35). That was such a wonderful time for the people of God. The doors of the temple had been closed for a while because of the wicked kings of Judah who followed the unbelieving nations into trusting images made of stone and wood instead of the living God! In his first month, though, Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple and ordered that it be cleaned up and purified. He acted quickly and so did the Lord. God helped them get the temple ready in record time; and they used it for its intended purpose!

Be Hezekiah in your own life. Recognize the tragedy of a wasted temple, or whatever is unused in your life, and get busy cleaning it up for good use. God will see what you are doing and he'll speed up the process because he loves to see people using what they have in meaningful ways! That's Life at Work!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Comprehensive Marriage Ministry

In the last two weeks, we've heard the heartrending news of three marriages in families involved in full-time ministry that have ended in divorce. God's heart must be broken! It grieves him to see us go through such pain. The likelihood is that recently you have mourned over wrecked marriages; perhaps the mourning has been for your own marriage. Tragically, often help is sought too late; but the answer to the high divorce rate is not simply better or more timely crisis management. The answer is much more complicated, yet when the solution is in place the impact is incredible and hope abounds!

Churches must develop comprehensive marriage ministries. What does that mean? Churches need to address the significant themes of marriage with adolescents (beginning in Jr. High if not before) and pre-engaged and engaged couples in addition to couples already married. Churches that offer a number of marriage enrichment opportunities including classes, seminars, special studies, retreats, mentoring and coaching, along with easy access to crisis intervention are going to experience greater success in serving families in the church and the community. Comprehensive marriage ministry is critical for growing married Christians to spiritual maturity and reaching out to communities world-over.

JeannaLynn and I are committed to helping our church develop such a program. Because of our own personal struggles, we have a common passion for helping churches help couples; and helping couples move from wherever they are now to a greater marriage. For us, that's Life at Work!

Go On Getting Older

Konrad Adenauer was a German statesman and from 1949-1963 was first chancellor of the Federal Republic. He, as I understand, did much to advance the international prestige of West Germany and presided over its postwar recovery. When Adenauer, lovingly nicknamed, "the old man" was approaching ninety, he caught a bad cold. His physician, unable to be very much help, had to put up with Adenauer's impatience. "I'm not a magician," protested the harassed doctor. "I can't make you young again."

"I haven't asked you to," retorted Konrad. "All I want is to go on getting older."

I suppose it's true that most of us want to "go on getting older." Bless your hearts; there are some of you who are desirous of the end of life right now. Don't take your own life. Talk with someone about your feelings. Let them know how you are feeling. Things can be better, and with some help they will be. Some among us, because the poor shape of their health, are longing for death to come as relief. Paul described himself as one caught in the middle. He knew that to depart to be with Christ would be a wonderful step for him. On the other hand, he knew the importance continuing to preach the gospel and encourage the saints. Most of us though, want to continue to live and enjoy life.

The problem is that we just don't know if that is going to happen. We can do some things to make sure that we stay healthy, and we should. We go to the doctor when we are sick so that he can do some things to make us well, and we should. It is true, however, that heart attacks, strokes, cancers, car wrecks, murders, and accidents can and do happen. James wrote, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (NIV) Not only that, but Jesus has promised to return and the time of his coming is growing closer every day. Even if we don't die, then, our time on earth could still be over today.

What should I do then? What kind of direction does God give me since my time here is limited and some day I will cease "going on getting old." Peter wrote "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation." In a similar context, Jesus directed that a blameless life would be characterized by feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, caring for stranger, and giving drink to the thirsty.

Maybe some day I'll be nearly ninety and telling a doctor that I want to go on getting older. I hope that my health will be such that going on is a blessing rather than a pain. What will still need to be true at that time is that I am ready to be with the Lord. Surely the day of death will be closer than it is right now. I'll have to be ready.

Right now I'm forty-two. I hope that I will live longer. I love my wife and my kids and enjoy the life that we are spending together. I delight in working with the South Yukon Church. The truth be told, being prepared for death when I'm ninety is no more important than being prepared for death right now. We have always got to be ready. That's Life at Work!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

When It’s On the Line

"When everything else is on the line, you better be there, too." (Deacon Jones)

There are times when you have to be there! Imagine Joshua stepping back instead of sounding the "as for me and my house" charge (Joshua 24:15). Imagine Esther deciding that going before the king was just too risky (Esther 4:6-17). What if David had stayed in back with his brothers (1 Samuel 17)? What if Moses ignored God's report of the cries because his previous attempt to rescue had failed miserably?

Your marriage is at a crucial point, your kids are facing serious difficulties, or the time has arrived to announce the final decision and you know that though it is right, it is not popular. You've been convicted of your sin, and you have the opportunity to make it right with God and the people you love. Those around you are walking in sin and straight for disaster; no one else is going to step up to stop them! These are some of those times when you have to there!

Get on the line! Today is the day of your salvation! Say like Nehemiah, "Should a man (or woman) like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!" (Nehemiah 6:11-12). He was right to stay out of hiding!

"Be strong and courageous," were the words for Joshua. Don't ignore the tough times as if nothing is really happening as long as you don't look. Your presence is needed today! That's Life at Work!