1 Timothy 6:11

Last night, my family and a couple Zach’s House friends went bowling. I averaged around 130 pins knocked down on each game. We felt pretty inadequate bowling next to the super studs from the varsity bowling team at a local High School. I overheard this one kid say at the end of the night, “I don’t feel like I accomplished anything.” He was speaking of this evening of bowling. I couldn’t believe my ears. This kid had just finished bowling a 216 and had earlier bowled a 231. If I could ever bowl a 216, I would be amazed at my accomplishment.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about spiritual growth. That’s always a big desire of mine and it should be. I was thinking about it in relation to a Bible class I’m leading the discussion for tonight. I can always bring some trivial tidbits to our Bible discussions; I have great commentaries filled with those. I can get a bunch of discussion going if I just shut up and let one of our talented guys in the class speak. I’m not much of a dictator so most everyone gets their say. But I always remember that all the Bible knowledge in the world doesn’t matter if we don’t grow spiritually.

I really want those in our Bible class to grow. I need to find out from those in our class where they are lacking and what spiritual attributes they would like to see increased in their lives. There needs to be accountability. How does that occur? Do some of us even want to make known the spiritual aspects of our lives where we struggle? I want to make those areas known, but it’s scary to take the charge towards openness. What does all this have to do with bowling?

One reason we don’t admit our spiritual struggles to others, which is one of the first steps to grow in those areas, is because our little baby steps towards spiritual maturity often feel like no accomplishment at all. And if we feel that way, others must feel identical about our baby steps. Better not admit anything then, or just admit something very generic and non-threatening. I’ve admitted to you, readers of these tidbits, my struggles with self-control in regard to my eating. I’ve admitted my struggles with anger towards my family. My accomplishments in those areas may seem great to others, but I’m not so easily impressed. I can do so much more and allow God to do so much more in my life.

Our Bible verse says to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. These are some mighty spiritual attributes we should have. Paul doesn’t tell Timothy go possess these immediately. He says “Pursue.” That is the key. We shouldn’t feel bad if we pursue and don’t obtain on our timetable. We should keep on trying to grow, that is the key I need to remember. Accomplishments don’t need to be great; they just need to be made.

Christian Graces, devo and blog, Encouargement

The Power Game

The Power Game
Amos 6:12-13

I have power. I can lift 50-75 pound boxes if needed, maybe a little bit more. I also have different kinds of powers. I can make decisions that leave me struggling for direction. I can say things that hurt people. I also have the power to wallow in pity. Wow! You should see me wallow, what a sight! I have the power and strength to do all kinds of things incorrectly simply because I choose to do them on my own. I choose to do them without God. When I forget to rely on God for strength, or refuse to rely on Him, I fail; there’s no other way to put it. Any of us can fall into this trap, but I hope you can stay away from it.

Since losing the sponsoring congregation for our mission work (a new church plant), I’ve been trying to rely on myself and my abilities to find a way to replace our lost funds. That can be, and usually is, a big mistake. Anytime God is left out of the equation, mistakes abound. I’ve not tried to leave God out of my picture, but right where he is supposed to be on my canvass is a big blank spot. There might as well be some text that says, “Insert picture of God right here.”

This is a time when I should be relying on God and letting him have control, more control than ever. I don’t take a lot of comfort in knowing that God’s children have desired to do things their own way since the beginning of time. Just look at the Israelites in our Bible verse today, “But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness – you who rejoice in the conquest of Lo Debar and say, “Did we not take Karnaim by our own strength?” They conquered a city, but they did it by the strength of God, not by their own strength. They were punished for their arrogance and forgetfulness. God warns them in the next verse that He will rise up a nation against them, and He did. And you know what? “Lo Debar” literally means, “nothing.” They probably also thought they conquered Lo-Debar on their own. Imagine that, by their own strength, they conquered “nothing.” That was their big accomplishment.

I’m like the Israelites sometimes. It’s not so much about not giving God credit, it’s doing things that we think are the best, without considering Him or His will. If you’ve been acting like me lately, trying to yield power without considering God, instead of staying strong through His guidance, you too have probably conquered “nothing.” Let’s try to get out of the power game together. I promise you, it wont’ be easy, but it will be better.

Faith, Struggles

I Just Want to Help You See

I Just Want to Help You See
Mark 8:22-26 and 10:46-52

We went to feed the homeless in downtown Ft. Worth last night. This has become a normal occurrence for my family and those friends of Zach’s House, our new church plant, who choose to come with us. This was an unusual evening because I wasn’t able to help serve. I was prevented from serving by my own stupidity; I locked our keys in the car. I promptly went to the security guards to see if they could help. They couldn’t and suggested I get a locksmith. I then asked a couple people in the parking lot, no one could help. I could have used a coat hanger to break in, but our car was shut up too tight. I then realized we’d have to use a locksmith and I asked a few folks if they could loan us some money so we could get our keys. Nothing happened on that front either. The last couple I asked said we should just go inside and help feed and see what Jesus would do for us. Unfortunately you know if you read my last devotional, that I don’t always think that way first.

I saw Perry, a regular volunteer at the feedings, and asked if he could help us. He said he knew someone that might be able to help. I then went ahead and got ready to serve. I was going to serve Alice and the guests at her table. Perry called me over a few minutes later and introduced me to Larry who told me he had an AAA membership and before he could finish telling me that they unlock doors for members with no charge, it dawned on me that my wife has an AAA membership we got last year. Perry and Larry, that dynamic duo, opened my eyes to what should have been right there in front of me all the time, an opportunity to get my keys at no charge. They didn’t actually do anything physical for me, but were used by God to help me see. And to show you how the Lord works, Alice had said she’d give us the money for a locksmith. All these things happened only because I went inside like the couple in the parking lot had suggested, and waited to see what Jesus would do for me. I missed serving because I had to wait for the AAA guy to arrive, and while I watied, I got to witness another side to the Agape meal, ask me about it sometime.

This entire incident reminds me of a movie I recently saw which included one of my all time favorite quotes, “I’m not trying to prove you wrong, I just want to help you see.” This is the attitude I have towards anyone I meet that is unchurched and antagonistic toward God or Christians. I don’t try to prove them wrong, I just try to help them see they have a need for something bigger than the busyness of their everyday lives. That something bigger is Jesus. Please pray for Mary Ann and me as we strive to do what God has put right in front of our eyes. He has put us smack dab in the middle of 5,000,000 people and 89% of them on any given Sunday do not attend church! You talk about work that must be done, the Lord has opened our eyes and we see it each and every day!

devo and blog, Evangelism

Where Are My Emails?

Where Are My Emails?

Matthew 28:5-7

I’ve been having problems with my email. I called customer service and related my problem to them, but they didn’t believe me. They didn’t have enough faith in what I was saying. Besides, I was trying to prove a negative and I think that’s nearly impossible to do. Let me elaborate on my email problem. Over the past 2000 nights, after I fall asleep, electronic letters have floated through cyberspace, making their way to my cozy inbox. Each evening, I receive about 50-70 of these e-mailed correspondences. Of course, most of it is pure junk and some of it is obscene. But like the mailman who is always faithful in making his rounds, the emails are waiting for me in my inbox each morning. Just like death and taxes, those 50-70 emails every morning in my inbox are a guarantee…until Tuesday morning.

When I checked email Tuesday, I found five of them. That was it! Did all the spammers die overnight? I doubt it. What I had was a real problem. This morning was worse. I had only three emails. After approximately 2000 nights in a row of having 50-70 emails sent to me, now I am averaging 4 emails per night. I called customer service and found it impossible to prove a negative to them. They continually told me “You’re email program is configured correctly. Everything is working fine.” I replied with “I know it’s working fine but 90% of all the emails sent to me aren’t arriving. They’re being sent but not arriving in my inbox.” I’m surprised one of the tech support people didn’t ask me to prove it. Before one of them had a chance to ask, I suggested this was sort of like trying to prove Jesus rose from the dead. Sometimes, and that sometimes a person needs to have faith.

I had planned on writing a devotional on Jesus’ resurrection the other day after watching the Steelers come back to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars late in a playoff game. I was going to call the devo “The Greatest Comeback” and relate it to Jesus coming back to life. But if you watched the game, the Steelers kind of messed up the analogy. Nevertheless, God provided me another life experience to relate to Jesus and his resurrection. Now, here’s hoping none of you sent me an email while my service was extremely messed up.

Peace y’all,

devo and blog, Faith, God's Love, Jesus