Monday, March 29, 2010

Who Is This?

You're staring out your window watching a tornado in the distance. The sirens have been going off for the last fifteen minutes. The helicopters from the news channels are broadcasting video of this destructive beast and the predictions are that it will be in your neighborhood in five minutes. A man walks across your line of sight. He's in your yard. You wonder, "Doesn't he know? Doesn't he care?" He's looking at this storm. He seems to have no fear. You rush out to warn him; perhaps even to bring him inside to whatever safety you can offer. Instead of running back inside to safety, though, he looks at the tornado and… now get this… he rebukes the storm and says, "Quiet. Be still." Then the wind died down and it was completely still (Mark 4:39).

There are tons of parents who can't even say that to their five year old and it actually happen, but Jesus spoke to the storm and it obeyed! The storm obeyed Jesus!

Who is this? Read that with a voice of terrorized amazement! That's the question that the disciples in the boat asked. Who is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?

Frankly, Jesus seems somewhat surprised. Could he be annoyed, even? Did Jesus get annoyed?

Anyway, Jesus asked them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith? What does he mean by, "Do you still have no faith"? Well, remember what Jesus has already done. He's gotten the "thumbs up" from the great, yet decreasing man of God, John the Baptist. He has cast out demons and amazed people with his teaching. He has cleansed a man of his leprosy, restored health to a shriveled hand, and gave walking ability to a man flat on his back. Why are they afraid? Don't they know their traveling companion by now? Haven't they figured out who he is? Don't they realize that they can put their trust in him?

What about us, though? Here we are on this side of the exorcism of Legion, the healing of the woman who just touched his clothing, the resurrection of Jairus' child, the feeding of the thousands, the walking on water, and his own resurrection and ascension to the right hand of Almighty God! And when somebody asks for the reason for our hope, we have doubts as to whether we'll really be saved? When we're hurting we question whether he is "with us?" When we're in financial straits, we wonder if we can stay devoted to his kingdom and righteousness? Really? After all that? Including his resurrection?

You can trust him! You can have faith! You can rely on him! That's Life at Work!


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Devise a Plan for Reconciliation

Have you booted anybody out of your life? Whom have you banished from your presence? Anybody? I'm not necessarily asking who literally is not welcome around you anymore. Perhaps that's true of someone; but who can't get close to you? Are you so angry with a wife, disappointed in a child, irritated at a parent, or hurt by a former friend that you have shut them out?

King David had a son named Absalom who had killed his brother Amnon because Amnon had raped his sister Tamar. It was a horrible chain of events fueled by lust, lying, and unbridled anger. The result was that one son was dead, a daughter was in mourning, and Absalom was banished. David longed for Absalom, but he couldn't move beyond his torment.

A wise woman approached David with a sad story of her own, but it turned out her story wasn't true. Instead it was designed to help David think outside of his own circumstances. She illustrated David's need to let Absalom back in with these powerful words: "But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him" (2 Samuel 14:14).

God creates a way for shut out people to come back in! Is it time for you to let somebody get close again? Isn't it time to end the pain with reconciliation? That's Life at Work!

Tell me, what's the most important part of the plan on your part when you want to reconcile with someone who has been banished from you?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Somebody Better Say Something!

The demons identified Jesus as the Son of God, and Jesus gave them strict orders to keep quiet about his identity (Mark 3:11-12). His family thought he was out of his mind, and the Pharisees used their words of doubt as an occasion to accuse Jesus of being possessed by a demon himself (3:20-22). The demons knew the truth, but didn't need to be speaking it. Jesus' family and Pharisees didn't know the truth, so their doubts and accusations were detrimental to the cause.

Somebody needed say something! And Jesus found the somebodies. He found twelve men and appointed them ambassadors. We usually call them "apostles." He called them so that they would spend time with him; and then be sent by him to preach, and to show that he was not possessed by demons, but had power over them (3:14)!

The doubters are still talking. Believers better say something! That's Life at Work!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Passing the Torch

My blog buddy, fellow-servant, MBC grad, and friend John Dobbs is asking about preachers who influenced us. He wants to know who Passed the Torch to others. One of the preachers who passed the torch to John was my Dad, Cecil May, Jr. He passed to me, too.

When I was born, Dad was preaching for the Fulton Church of Christ in Fulton, MS. When I was 6 months old, he got a job at Columbia Christian in Portland, OR; but that was on the left coast in the late 60's, and we didn't stay long. By the time I was three, we were already back in Mississippi, and dad was preaching at the Vicksburg Church of Christ, high on the hill on the north side of I-20. We stayed there until I was in the 5th grade, so I began listening to sermons while in Vicksburg. I heard some great ones. I can't tell you the title of one of them. I couldn't give you an outline or the name of series he preached. What I know is that I grew there and I know other people grew; and I believe that was a result of his preaching.

When we moved to Florence, AL, in the middle of my fifth grade year (and I only had one 5th grade year), we went to the church that met on the campus of International Bible College, now Heritage Christian University. There were some great preachers there. Great preachers already, and others who would be great preachers. Charles Coil was powerful, and his way, if you know what I mean, was something to be respected. James Long was preaching a sermon about dying to self on the day that I was baptized. He was a great preacher. Jim Martin was there. He's a great preacher. But the preaching that I remember the most was the preaching I heard from Dad as we travelled all over Alabama and Mississippi. One sermon he called "Husbands, Wives, and Tongues." He preached that in a lot of meetings. I was never sorry to hear that I was going to hear it again. It was the most practical sermon. I wonder how that sermon played a role in my passion for marriage ministry now.

Even after we moved from Florence, then, Cecil May was the preacher who most often had my ear. That changed finally in 1989. Another preacher got my ear then. I've heard this guy nearly every Sunday since. He is me. But I like to think, that in all of my sermons, I still get to hear a bit of my dad.

I've got to say that the most significant lessons I learned from my dad, I learned watching him. I could write about what a good pastor he was. I think you know what I mean. But he was, and is a great family man. He loves my mother, and I never had reason to wonder if I would live in a broken home. He is also a great dad. If I had a dollar for every time he told me that he was proud of me, I could have funded Magnolia Bible College for the next hundred years. I preach a lot of grace, and I learned grace from him – from his sermons certainly, but moreso from his home-life – from the way he treated me.

As my dad grows older, he is still doing some great preaching. He spoke at a church leader's event for Oklahoma Christian two years ago. He did a great job! I'm still hearing about it from leaders from around here who still tell me that they heard it and appreciated it.

When I think about the preachers dad has influenced, including me, my brother, and my brother-in-law, this verse comes to mind with a little adaptation for the circumstances:

"The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but his blood runs through my instrument, and his sermon's in my soul; my life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band."

Thanks to Cecil May, Jr., my Dad, who is still educating and training preachers at the V.P. Black School of Biblical Studies, for passing the torch to me!