Almost Grown-Up

I couldn’t wait to grow up. I dreamed of turning 16 so I could get my driver’s license and drive a car like a “grown-up.” As a grade school boy, I drank coffee because my Dad drank coffee and I wanted to feel “grown-up.”

May Dad went hunting a lot while I was growing up.  Many times I watched him put on his Carhartt overalls, headlamp, pistol, and load up his registered black and tan coon hounds in the truck and drive off into the night. I asked to go with him because I wanted to feel what he felt. I didn’t know what that feeling was, but it must have been a good feeling since he did it so often.

One night he let me go. I didn’t have the Carhartt overalls, just some thin pants of some kind. We marched through the dark woods following the whine of the hounds as they trailed by scent. My little flashlight was no match for the darkness. We often encountered brier patches. The briers went right through my thin pants. The only feeling I remembered that night was pain!

It was a humbling and miserable night.

In 1 Peter 5:1-4, the apostle gives instructions to those who are mature to take care of the flock of God, the church. He gives great advice for any church leader whether you are a pastor, deacon, Sunday School teacher, youth or children’s leader, etc.

But then he says to the younger, more inexperienced ones who are watching and wanting to feel “grown-up”:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV

We all get “destination disease” from time to time. We think that the next “experience” or “destination” will make us happy. So this verse is great advice for all of us regardless of our age or experience.

I am looking forward to 2015 as pastor of the congregation called Balboa Baptist Church. Many new experiences are on our horizon. So let us as a body of believers enter this new year by daily applying this truth to our lives.

On the one hand, I can’t wait to feel “grown-up” by reaching some lofty goals we have set for ourselves. On the other hand, these goals make me anxious at times. So, I’m committing to obeying Peter’s instruction. will you  join me?

Our Father, thank-you that you care for us! Thank-you that your hand is mighty! We humble ourselves before you and cast all our cares upon you. Please work mightily through Balboa Baptist Church in 2015 to accomplish Your will!

You Have an Appointment

“Honey, I made my favorite thing for dinner tonight!”

“Oh really,” he replied quizzically, “what’s that?”

She replies, “Reservations!”

Last week my parents asked me to go with them to his appointment at the U.A.M.S. Reynolds Institute on Aging. Memory loss issues runs in the family as they near their 80s. My Dad is no exception. I went with my Mom and Dad to help negotiate the morning traffic, construction, and the U.A.M.S. complex of buildings.

Every fall I get a physical. Every six months I get my teeth cleaned and checked.

Appointments, we look forward to some and others we don’t.

But there’s one appointment everyone has and no one will miss it. It is an appointment made by God himself.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.  Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV

Our Father and Creator has provided everything we need so we can be ready for this appointment. We celebrate the first coming of Christ at Christmas. Christ will come a second time for those who are eagerly waiting for this appointment to arrive.

The first time Christ came he dealt with sin once for all. He is the total and complete sacrifice needed for sin. The Old Testament sacrificial system required sacrifices to be done over and over and over again.

It sounds gruesome to some, but I’m actually looking forward to dying. No, I’m not in a hurry to leave this earth. But as the writer of Hebrews says it, I am “eagerly waiting for him.”

That’s an appointment I look forward to keeping. I rejoice that my name is written in heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

At the same time we wait with tears. We all have those we love and know who ignore the fact that they even have an appointment with God.

Reality check: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

EVERYONE will keep this appointment!

Pray urgently this Christmas for those who need to know Jesus as their Savior. Witness as the opportunities arise. Pray for our International Missionaries, over 4,000 of them scattered around this globe, that their sharing of the gospel will be successful!

Give a generous, sacrificial amount to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year. My challenge is to think in terms of giving your largest Christmas gift to this offering. How much did  you spend on your most expensive gift this year? Give at least one dollar more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions!

Our Father, thank-you for sending Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Thank-you for the salvation that will be fully revealed on that day we stand before you. We urgently request that our friends, grandchildren, children, neighbors, and acquaintances come under the deep conviction of your Holy Spirit of their urgent need for a Savior. 

 

Oh, To Be Young Again!

“If I could go back and live my life all over again, I would ________________.”

“What do I regret?” was one of my first thoughts. If I could re-live my life, what would I change so that I don’t live with regrets today?

The writer of Ecclesiastes had a long life, experienced all of life’s advantages, and God gave him great wisdom.

Now that the results of aging overtook his body and he reflected on his life, what’s his conclusion?

In Ecclesiastes 12:1, he describes the aging process. In verse one he tells those who are still young,

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”

The aging process is further described in verses 2-8: eyesight dims, legs and shoulders get weak, the hearing starts to go, fears grow, and friends’ funerals are attended.

But at the end of a life lived weighing many proverbs, reading numerous books, and trying many forms of pleasure, what’s his conclusion? Life is meaningless, all is vanity, EXCEPT for two things!

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV

An ATTITUDE, “fear God” and an ACTION, “obey God” sum up the only things that truly make life meaningful.

Jesus said it just as succinctly,

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

If a young man or woman is reading this now, you will avoid a thousand regrets if you commit your life to this attitude and action.

First, have an awesome respect, a healthy fear, for your Almighty God and Creator and love His Son Jesus Christ with every fiber of your being.

Second, do what God tells you to do. The Bible, His written, inspired Word reveals His will. Take it seriously and do it.

Our Father, thank-you for the wisdom of your Word that shows us the real meaning of life. Thank-you for Your Son Jesus whom we love with all our being. By the power of your Spirit living in us we commit our lives to translating that love into obedience. Thank-you for your constant presence with us to give us courage and strength.