Call Me

When Billie Sue and I were dating, every evening we were either together on a date, or I was at her parents’ house, or she was at my parents’ house, or more often we talked on the telephone (you know, the land-line kind, the one with a chord, the one we actually had to sit down to use, instead of walking around doing something else at the same time).

When we love someone, we want to talk to them and listen to them!

A conversation is simple.  I talk to you and listen to you.  You talk to me and you listen to me.

“Communication is the key!” How many times have we heard that!?  It’s true for marriage, parenting, teaching, friendship, and employee/employer. Communication IS the key!

One of the funniest videos I’ve seen is by Jeanne Robertson. She sent her husband on a quick trip to the grocery store with a list of seven items.  He stayed gone much too long and came back with a car load of groceries.  Watch the video to see why, it hilarious! Its worth eight minutes of your time. Watch this!

I’m amazed how many times I come across it in scripture! “Call to me.”  “Ask, seek, knock.” “Pray.”

The Father loves us so much, he wants to hear from us on a regular basis, no, on a continual basis, as in “pray without ceasing.”

Then there’s “You have not because you ask not.”  He says to “make your requests known” to Him.

Why should we act so confidently?

  • What should cause this kind of faith to well up in us?
  • Why would we take the time to do something like talking to someone who is invisible?

Because He made world and everything in the it.

  • Everything belongs to Him! He is the powerful Creator.
  • He is the expert on everything that is.
  • He knows us better than we even know ourselves.

Give Him a call!

Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name:  Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:2-3

I praise You for You are a Loving Father. You love it when we listen to You, talk to You, and make our requests of You. Please use us, the congregation of Balboa Baptist Church, to do your will.  Work in us, through us, and in spite of us to present Jesus to people in life-changing ways. Lead us into the future by Your Spirit!

What If?

  • What if you knew you could make a difference, would you do it?
  • If you could be certain a particular act of ministry or kindness would be effective, would you act?
  • Would you work differently for the Lord if you were assured God would use it to make an impact in someone’s life?

“Of course I would!” you might say, “but I don’t know what to do.”

Did God create you? “Of course,” you respond.

Did He put IN you a unique set of gifts, likes, abilities, personality, and experiences? “Well, yes He did,” you conclude.

THEN TAKE WHAT YOU LIKE TO DO AND DO IT! Its really that simple. God has already qualified you to work in His kingdom for a specialized task that you can do as well or better than anyone else.

A principle which has permeated by soul is the “cup of cold water in Jesus’s name” principle. It only has two simple parts:

  • Whatever it is I’m capable of doing can be used by God, even if its handing someone a cup of water.
  • Whatever I do, do it in “Jesus’ name,” do for Him and literally SPEAK his name in the process of doing it.

For God loves a griping giver, right? Nope! God loves a CHEERFUL giver. So as you give yourself away in Jesus’ name in cups of kindness and service, ATTITUDE makes all the difference in the world.  Be enthusiastic!

Well, brother Paul said it better than I did anyway. Read this verse and see if you get the same thing I did!

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Cor. 15:58 NLT

Our Father, we praise you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. You created each of us with a unique set of capabilities. Thank-you for the opportunities you put right in front of us each day to serve you by serving people. Thank-you for the assurance that what we do for the “least of these” we do for your Son Jesus. What a joy to serve you with assurance that nothing we do for You is ever useless!

Livers and Gizzards

Where’s your heart? Where’s your head? Where’s your feet? Where’s your elbow? Where’s your eyes?

Perhaps you played this game with your grandkids. When I was a kid, I remember adults playing this game with me. Then to throw me off, they would ask, “Where’s your gizzard?”

Of course I didn’t know what a gizzard was or where it was if I had one or that this was a special part of a chicken which human’s didn’t have.

But isn’t the human body amazing?!

The wonderful complexity of the human eye takes light cast on objects and focuses them onto our brain and somehow enables us to visualize what is in front of us.

The human brain has about 90,000 miles of nerve fiber, about 100 billion neurons, and some .15 quadrillion synapses! I like to think of synapses as little sparkplugs in the brain.

The human brain is so amazing and complex that even the brain of a genius medical doctor struggles to comprehend the human brain.

And take the human hand with all of its bones, muscles, and tendons working together to type this sentence you are reading right now by just thinking it in my brain, causing my fingers to type the right keys and then to hit the backspace key, then retype as I struggle to put into words something I can’t quite express!!!

The Psalmist said it was WONDERFUL! That’s a good word for it.  I think I’ll just stop and think about that. My brain has the capacity to meditate. God gave us that ability. So here goes, meditation commencing…

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14

Take an Umbrella when it Rains

If you want to build rapport with others and win their trust, do not make them the butt of your jokes, make fun of yourself.

Don’t ever take yourself seriously, but always take God seriously.

Do not expect to get stuff from others because of your position or relationship with them, but always expect to give.

Take an umbrella when it rains.

These are some great words of advice I have received over the years. These tidbits are golden when I listen and take them to heart! I benefited from these encounters when my heart was soft, my ears were open, and I acted upon them.

I thank God for strategically placing in my life at just the right decision-making corners, the right person with the right word of advice.

The book of Proverbs is a book of God’s advice to us.

Here’s some advice: read a chapter of Proverbs each day.  With thirty-one chapters, we could read through Proverbs each month.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction,

that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Proverbs 19:20-21 (ESV)

1. We have to listen to the advice God gives us through Scripture or through people in our lives.

2. We must accept the instruction for it to benefit us.

3. Often the wisdom is for a future event and not for the moment, so patiently hold on to it.

4. We devise many plans in our heads but we must discover God’s purpose for our lives.

5. In a hundred years, only what’s done in God’s purpose will still be left standing.

Thank-you Father for bringing wise people and wise proverbs into our lives just when we need them. Please give us discernment to know when and how to use this counsel. Your Word is a light to our path and a lamp for our feet. May your Word shine brightly so that we may live in the center of Your purpose.

 

I Found My Pants!

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 ESV

I’m sure Paul was not thinking about pants packed away in a box when he talked about “groanings.”  But last night I did find my pants!  The one pair I’ve been wearing and Billie Sue has been washing repeatedly can now have a rest.

Life can get very serious at times, even intense. Keeping a light heart in the face of the difficulties of life helps keep it all in perspective for me. If I couldn’t see a little humor in life from time to time, I would go crazy.  There’s plenty of “serious” to go around all the time!

The apostle Paul kept things in perspective. He said that the sufferings of this world are not even worth comparing to the glory we will soon experience! (Romans 8:18)

Even the earth, the rocks, the trees, the hills, the rivers, and lakes, that is, the whole creation is groaning, even yearning for this resolution. The universe is on edge, ready to be set free from bondage caused by sin. (Romans 8:19-22)

And that uneasiness in our own bodies, well it too is a yearning for total redemption.  Yes, we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, but we are yet to see the complete results. Hang on to your hats, there’s a lot more to come! (Romans 8:23-24)

Now back to the present. That’s where we have to live isn’t it. We must live in the “now.” The Spirit is always helping us NOW in our weakness.  Even when we struggle to pray He is there to pray for us. He even expresses our thoughts and feelings to the Father which we ourselves cannot even put into words.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 ESV

Thank-you Father for indwelling us with your Holy Spirit.  Thank-you that The Comforter is always beside us. In grief, sorrow, confusion, pain, disappointment, and obstacles Your Spirit expresses these things to You and You always understand. And thank-you that you even care about the little things in life, like my pants.

Where’s My Pants?

We’re moved!  We are now living IN the Village. What a mess! Boxes, boxes, boxes.  Where’s my pants?  Where’s my shoes?

Its overwhelming at times.  Starting a new job and moving to a new home are two of the biggest stressors in life. When we get both of them at the same time, well, you know how that feels. Most of you have been through the same thing when you moved. Many of you have moved more times that we have!

Seeing everything into which we have invested so much time and money reduced to cardboard boxes is a gut-check.  Its all just stuff. In a hundred years from now, none of it will matter.  It will all be burned up. Only eternal things will last.

Yes, we still feel a little bit like that squirrel on an interstate. Closing on a house required us to attend to multiple details. Purging many, many things in order to fit into a smaller house is daunting. Overseeing three days of packing, loading, and unloading is exhausting. Church calendaring, staff meetings, hospital visits, sermon preparation, and budgeting are always before us.

Zoom, zoom go those cars on the interstate.  I’m their leader!  Which way did they go, George?

So I find great comfort and confidence in this verse:

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

1. We are refocused on eternal results when Isaiah says “God is my salvation.” Salvation is eternal life forever and abundant life now. In all the “stuff,” this must remain our focus.

2. We are refocused on internal attitudes when we read, “I will trust, and will not be afraid.” Attitude, not aptitude, determines one’s altitude. John tells us that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  So I chose today to trust the God who perfectly loves me instead of trusting myself which always produces fear.

3. We are focused on our immediate future, our next steps, the living of today when God’s word says, “for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” So I go through the day humming a chorus of confidence in God or whistling a tune of rejoicing because God is in full control of it all.

We will always have enough time in the day to do what God wants us to do. So if we can’t get it all done, then we are doing things He does not want us to do or we are doing them in the wrong way.  We need not to be anxious for anything.

Our Father, You are our source of eternal security, inner peace, and abundant life. Thank-you that you have it all under Your control. Now please help me find my belt.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18

How May I Help You?

  • Relationships based on lust, infatuation, and a what-can-you-do-for-me mindset.
  • Lifestyles that love evil, rejoice in sexual perversion, and a don’t-judge-me-I’m-free-to-do-what-I-want attitude.
  • Daily letting go of good and decent things in order to grasp and hold fast to temporary things.
  • Continually holding grudges, unforgiveness, and treating others as objects instead of fellow humans.
  • Always trying to outdo one another is getting recognition and climbing to the top of the heap.

What have I just attempted to describe? I’m sure a lot of things came to your mind! 

I have just stated the opposite of Romans 12:9-10 (ESV) in which Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, pens five brief commands that are to be obeyed in someone who is transformed (click Romans 12:1-2) Jesus Christ:

Let love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil;

Hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

These actions do not happen naturally.  They happen supernaturally.  They can only be sustained in a living, breathing, walking, talking fellowship with Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus Changes Lives! And that change … must happen everyday in an overflow of HIM living in and through us.

  • Jesus is genuine in His love.
  • Jesus abhors what is evil.
  • Jesus holds fast to what is good.
  • Jesus loves us as a brother.
  • Jesus honors the lowliest. 

Want a simple way to do all five of these at once?! Your assignment today, if you choose to accept it, is to ask at least one person today, “How can I help you?”

Our Father, flow through us today through your Son, Jesus.  Overflow your love, your view of evil, your grip on good, your love for others, and your ability to honor those around us.  Thank-you that you asked us, “How can I help you?” and in our inability to even answer that question, you answered it for us with Jesus!  Thank-you!

Today’s Packing Day

 

The movers are coming this morning to pack everything in our home in Benton.  They will load everything tomorrow on the truck.  On Wednesday they deliver it and unload it at 13 Busqueda Lane in Hot Springs Village!  Then the fun begins, unpacking, they don’t do that part!

I still vividly remember getting on my knees beside my bed several nights in a row in the fall of 1972. It was the beginning of my Senior year in high school.  I asked God one question over and over, “What do you want me to do with my life?”  For many nights in September and October I laid myself open to God for Him to do whatever he pleased.

Gradually the word came.  Only one word.  The still quiet voice of God spoke to me. “Preach.” 

Uh, Lord, I don’t know anybody in my family that’s a preacher. “Preach.” Uh, Lord, preachers have to stand up there for a LONG time and talk to people. “Preach.” Uh, Lord, those guys are really boring most of the time. “Preach.” Uh, Lord, don’t you want me to stay in Glenwood and sell groceries with my Dad for the rest of my life? “Preach.” Uh, Lord, I don’t know how to do that. “Preach.”   

After about two months of that, I said I would.

On the second Sunday morning in November 1972, I walked down the aisle from the youth section at the back of the church.  I took my pastor, Bro. Jimmie Taylor, by the hand and said, “God has called me to preach.”

No one except God knew I was going to do that.  My pastor was pleased and said he saw God working in me.  My parents were SO surprised, they had no idea!  I had no idea what I was getting into.

God told Abraham to go.  Where Lord?  Just go.  So he did.  That’s what I did.

Four years of college at Ouachita majoring in what preacher boys majored in, “Religion.” God imported for me a precious girl all the way from Pinetop, Arizona to Glenwood, Arkansas (I was pretty much kin to everyone else in Glenwood) for me to marry.  What a God-send she is!  She is my completer and balancer. (I love you, Sweetheart!)

Six years as a children’s minister while working 50 hours a week at my Dad’s grocery store. Our life-long mentoring relationship began with Bruce and Whanda Swihart.  Then began four years as a youth minister while going to seminary in Fort Worth.  We moved back to Arkansas and pastored at Bradley and El Dorado. Sixteen wonderful years at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention as a “missionary” in my home state preaching, teaching, and consulting in over 800 churches. I really thought I would retire there. Then Roy Henderson called.

Now over 40 years of ministry has come to a new chapter.  You people at Balboa Baptist Church have welcomed us with such loving arms, we are reeling with amazement! I came with fear and trepidation. Billie Sue was just excited to get back into a church.

Last night, an ordination service for Victor, Roger, and Charles as deacons, was another HIGH MOMENT in the first month of ministry with you!  WOW! God really showed up!

You have far exceeded our expectations.  God bless you!  Thank-you for calling us to this new chapter in our lives.

WELL, I GUESS I BETTER GET UP FROM THIS LAPTOP AND GET TO PACKIN’!

So, Psalm 16:11 (ESV) rings special this morning … 

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Our Father, thank-you for the ability to look back and see your hand in each chapter of our path of life.  Thank-you for the fullness of joy.  Thank-you that we can look forward with confidence that Your hand will continue to always be there! We look forward to eternity at your right hand enjoying Your pleasures forevermore!  Now, please help me pack and move.

Have You Seen a Good Movie Lately?

Guy movies and even chic flics often have vengeance as a theme.  Its a good feeling.  Someone does someone wrong. The smart, manipulative girl finds the perfect way to make sure the other girl gets her “come-uppin’s.”  Or Sylvester Stallone gets his over-the-hill commandos together and exacts severe punishment on the bad guys.

Its a gut-level thing. Its what we think we would like to do if we could. Oh, come on, you’ve felt too. Right? 

Some take it to the next level. They learn martial arts or handling of a weapon.  Some even go looking for an opportunity to use it.

Our friends’ daughter recently married. She and her new husband exited a major league baseball game.  Four inebriated guys made lewd comments toward the young bride.  Her husband told them to back-off.  Their beating put him in ICU.

Now, that’s sad and extreme.  But we often take offense at the slightest turn of phrase and hold a grudge for long time. Little things can do it.

But as I read my Bible, holding on to bitterness, unforgiveness, and grudges is very harmful spiritually, physically, and psychologically. 

Boy, Jesus could turn a phrase couldn’t he! He hit the nail on the head. When seemingly trapped by a hard question, “What’s the greatest commandment, Jesus?” 

“Ha Ha, we’ve got him now!” they might have thought. “We’ve been debating this one forever and with all the thousands of choices and opinions, he will surely offend someone!”

That gives me pause. Think about it, they tried to trap GOD!? Yeah, right!  Anyway, He said that to “Love God” is the first command.  But then He surprised them further and gave the second also, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Wow, genius!  How did He pull THAT our of thin air.  He didn’t.  He had already said it centuries prior.

The context of this command is very interesting to me.  It was given in the context of getting revenge and holding a grudge. Check it out …

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 19:18 ESV

Father, we deserve your greatest revenge possible for our sin against You.  Thank-you for your forgiveness. Thank-you for sending Jesus, Your one-of-a-kind Son, to be our perfect sacrifice. We worship You. Please give us your divine ability to forgive those who trespass against us so that we may be forgiven in the same way we forgive others.

 

Oh, What a Day that Will Be!

Oh, what a day that will be! 

Imagine it.  Well, it’s hard to imagine. Every human speaking the name of JESUS in holy reverence. Those who cursed him, those who killed His followers, and those who swore He was just another shyster, will declare Him LORD!

Oh, what a day that will be!

In light of the great false religion of Islam, in light of their violent murders of Christians today, in light of the great deception of Satan in millions of people’s lives, all will declare with reverence the most holy name of JESUS as Lord.

Oh, what a day that will be!

All the wrongs of this world, every misunderstanding, each frayed emotion, all maimed bodies, every broken relationship, will be resolved in a moment when in unison JESUS is declared Lord of the universe.

Oh, what a day that will be! 

It will wash over us in sobering reality when some will instructed to stand to His right and some to His left. The separation will be for an eternity.  Some will hear, “Depart from me for I never knew you.”  Others will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter your Master’s happiness.”

Oh, what a day that will be! 

A day of rejoicing beyond imagination for His followers. A day of unbridled worship like we have never known on this sin-sick earth.  A day of total reconciliation of all things.

Oh, what a day that will be!

As the great hymn says, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Click here for Hymn

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9-11 ESV