Are you tired of social distancing? Social distancing is not a new thing. In the Old Testament, God required social distancing, if you will. The people were not allowed to approach His presence. When God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the people were warned not to get too close or they would die. The Holy of Holies, in both the tabernacle and temple, was a special place of God’s presence. No one was allowed in, except one priest on one special day of the year, the Day of Atonement. A heavy curtain barricaded the most holy place, and to enter unauthorized would mean death. When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain was literally torn in two, meaning that now the Holy of Holies is accessible to all. In Jesus, we can boldly enter God’s presence wherever we are and whoever we are. Social distance from others right now, but don’t be socially distanced from God. You can be in His presence at any time.
What crazy times we live in! I cannot help but think of one of my favorite songs, The Heart of Worship. One part of the song especially has my attention, “When the music fades and all is stripped away.” Doesn’t that sound like what’s happening? All is being stripped away from our lives. Sports? Gone. Church? Gone. Stock market stability? Gone. School? Gone. When all is stripped away we realize that it’s Jesus that really matters. I remember a saying from one of my pastors from long ago, “If God is all you have then you realize God is all you need.” Let this be the desire and song of our heart:
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
Bro. Bill Robertson recently passed away. I surrendered to the ministry under his pastoral leadership. It’s caused me to consider all the men God’s used to influence my life and ministry. Here are a few:
- Pastors: My pastors before I became a pastor
- Professors: From the seminaries I attended
- Laymen: Deacons, SS Teachers, godly men in the churches I have served
- Friends: Those who serve God in the ministry. In addition, friends who are not in the ministry, but who also love the Lord and serve Him faithfully.
- My dad: He was not a preacher or pastor, but he showed me how to honor God in the business world, and more importantly, at home
Who has influenced you? Make a list, and thank God for it! Here’s another thought: Is your name on someone else’s list? Are you pouring your life into others? We live in a day and age when men need to step up and live for Jesus. Men, live for Jesus. Set an example for others to follow. You don’t have to be a preacher or pastor. Be a godly dad. Encourage young men in the church. Live in a way that inspires us to not settle for a life of just video games, cell phones, and YouTube. Ladies, pray for the men in your life, and encourage them to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.
I love basketball. My three favorite players are Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. I never was a fan of Kobe, but I do appreciate his game. He’s dead now. 41 years of age, three years younger than me. It’s shocking. To make matters worse, his 13 year old daughter died, too. It hits home because I have a 13 year old daughter. How are we to respond to a death like Kobe’s?
- We can admire his gifts and legacy, but we are not to worship him. Kobe is no god, he was a basketball player. Nor was he perfect, no one is.
- Pray for his family, and pray that God uses this to draw people to Christ as they contemplate death.
- Remember that life is temporary. Death comes to all regardless of age, status, wealth, etc.
- Love your family, you never know what day will be their last.
- Never forget the most important death of all, Jesus’ death on the cross, who died so that we may have eternal life in Him.
Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions? Time management is key to making the most of the New Year. To make the most of 2020, make the most of your time, and use it for what really matters. You want to lose weight, but are worried there isn’t time in the day to exercise or eat healthy. You want to read the Bible more, but you’re not sure when you can do it. Of course you want to spend more time with your family, but when? Someone once said, “Time flies, but you’re the pilot.” We all have more than enough time for what really matters. If you really want this year to be special, do this: Put your phone down for a little while, pause Netflix, step away from the news and Facebook. Spend that time on what really matters. Just imagine if you did this for an hour a day, how that would radically change your year, your life! Just redeeming an hour each day will give you 15 “extra” days in 2020, time to work on you, your family, and your walk with God. If you were even more radical, put aside two hours a day, and a solid month would magically appear in 2020. Remember, “Time flies, but you’re the pilot.” Get in the cockpit, take the wheel, and soar to new heights in 2020!
A thief was in my car Sunday night. It’s not uncommon in the small, somewhat peaceful town I call home. When night falls, thieves canvass the area for money and items of value. A friend and neighbor’s car was broken in just a few weeks ago. I started leaving the carport light on at night hoping it would steer the vandals away. I also made sure our vehicles were locked and secured. Then came Sunday night. It was our annual Pastor’s Open House. My wife and I opened our home up Sunday afternoon, enjoying food and fellowship with our church family. It was such a chaotic day, we forgot to lock the doors on our vehicles. My daughter noticed it Monday morning. Both cars had been pilfered through. Nothing was taken thankfully. Lori’s purse was in the house. My wallet was in my car, but the thieves didn’t find it.
I am reminded of a warning in the Bible. Jesus said this of Satan, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” Just as thieves scour my town, Satan scours our lives, looking for an easy target, a mind that is unlocked, a heart that is not secure in prayer, a family that has neglected the Word. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
I just turned 44 years of age. It’s strange to say I am 44, especially since I feel more like 34. Since Thanksgiving is next week, and since I just celebrated a birthday, I want to reflect on 44 things I am thankful for:
- Good health
- Lori, my wonderful wife
- My three precious daughters
- Good friends
- Eternal life through Jesus Christ
- Maci, my dog (man’s best friend!)
- A church that loves and supports me
- My mom
- The godly legacy my father left
- Heat for when it’s cold
- AC for when its’s hot
- A cozy bed to sleep in
- The Bible
- Hot Tea
- Jan and Lisa, my two sisters
- Jenny, my mother-in-law
- My friendships/partnerships in Belarus
- God is using my story/book on depression
- The staff members I get to work with
- My children go to a good school
- My wife is healthy
- My children are healthy
- The gift of adoption
- My daughters’ birth parents
- My daughters’ birth families
- A reliable vehicle
- Jason, my brother-in-law
- Ways to communicate with others: Phone, e-mail, etc.
- The calling God has has placed upon my life
- The godly legacy my father-in-law left behind
- Hope through Jesus, no matter what
- Love through Jesus, no matter what
I have many more reasons to be thankful, but I often fail to stop and consider how blessed I am. I want to encourage you to take a few moments this week and list reasons you are thankful. List 44, 94, or just 4. The point is this – you are blessed. Reflect on it and thank God for it!
I had a brief layover in Amsterdam after Belarus. I stumbled upon the Red Light District, famous for its drugs and sexual “window shopping.” It was around 10 am, and I was in the area to visit a church – no kidding. The oldest building in Amsterdam is a church built in the 1300’s. It just so happens to be located in the Red Light District, which I soon learned. I walked down a side street and was startled by three windows, filled with prostitutes advertising their services. They were clothed, but in a highly suggestive way, like Victoria’s Secret mannequins posted in the storefront window. One tapped her nails against the window, trying to get my attention, imploring me to buy her services.
How did I feel at that moment? Honestly, I was sick to my stomach. I thought of my three daughters, hoping and praying they never take this path. How did these women get in that window, showcasing their bodies for purchase? What do their fathers think about this? I pray these ladies find Jesus and exit their window to a life of true joy and peace. I pray we are all on guard. We don’t have to be in Amsterdam to see immorality. The world is one big display window, whether through Netflix or Google, tapping on the window, luring us away from Christ.
I can’t believe my kid did that. Emma was playing in my wife’s car recently and put a dime into the CD/DVD player. This is my wife’s “new” car. She has this “new”car because her car was totaled while visiting her dying dad in the hospital. The wreck wasn’t her fault, yet we had to file a claim on our insurance. Needless to say, this “new” car is attached to lots of emotions, not all good. So, when Emma did this I was furious and snapped at her. She didn’t realize how serious this was. Maybe she thought it was a juke box! After settling down, I apologized to Emma and then spent two hours taking the radio out and dismantling the CD/DVD player. I was paid a dime for my labor! It fell out and thankfully the CD/DVD player is working again.
I’m sure your kid has done something similar. You know what, it’s not only kids that disappoint. Have you ever said this about someone, “I cannot believe so and so did this.” Maybe, like Emma, the person doesn’t really mean anything by it. Maybe they are upset because someone else has upset them, or worse, stuck a dime in their CD/DVD player. When someone frustrates you, show a little grace and patience. Besides, my sweet Emma is far more important than a car or CD/DVD player. The person you are upset with is far more important than whatever has you rattled.
My wife and I celebrated our 24th anniversary two weeks ago. (Not in Hawaii unfortunately. This was for our 15th!) Here are a few things I have learned along the way:
- There is no such thing as a perfect spouse, including and especially me.
- The tough times can bring you closer together, if you respond in the right way.
- You cannot change your spouse. You can make them a better person, but they are who they are.
- My wife has been the one true friend I can always count on.
- Even if you “win” an argument, no one really wins unless you settle the matter together and both of you are at peace.
- Your parenting styles will probably differ a little, and this can cause conflict and inconsistent parenting if not dealt with properly.
- In some ways, marriage gets easier as the years go by.
- In some ways, marriage gets harder as the years go by.
- People are watching your marriage. Just by sticking together you will stand out as a godly example for others to see.
- It is better to talk openly about a disagreement and get it all out rather than sit and stew, or give the silent treatment.
- If your walk with God is not right, it will affect how you treat your spouse.
- Every sin you commit drives a wedge between you and your spouse.
- Every confession you make to God diminishes a wedge between you and your spouse.
- Praying with your spouse is one of the most difficult and humbling things you can do.
- Praying for your spouse is one of the greatest things you can do for your marriage.
- Don’t try to make your spouse better, focus on how you can be better.
- Remember the cardinal rule for marriage, love covers a multitude of sins.
- Your spouse will not complete you, only Jesus can do that.
- Your spouse will not bring you true joy. Your spouse can make you happy, but only Jesus can give you deep and abiding joy.
- If you are not intentional in your marriage, you can grow apart from your spouse. When you do, Satan sees an opportunity and will do all he can to wreck your marriage.
- Dates are still important in a marriage. Take your spouse out to eat once a week or once a month.
- Children can become the center of your marriage. Don’t let this happen. Children are not the center of your marriage. Your spouse comes before your children.
- When you are married for a while, it is easy to run out of things to talk about. There is more to life than your kids and your job. Try to talk about something else at times.
- It is easy, really easy, to take your spouse for granted. Don’t do it.