Children with Special Privileges

Quentin would die as a fighter pilot in World War I; Ted became a highly decorated soldier who saw service in both World Wars; Archie became a businessman; Kermit grew up to become an adventurer and soldier of fortune; and Ethel served as a nurse in France during World War I and later became involved with the Red Cross.

As children they had a very unique experience in common. They had access to the Oval Office of the President of the United States! Can you imagine?

They are the children of President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife, Edith . (See Photo)

As believers in Jesus Christ we have access to the throne room of God! We are the children of God through a second birth.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 NLT

As a child of the King, we have special privileges.

1. We can come BOLDLY into God’s throne room at any time. This does not mean arrogantly, but confidently. We are his child!

2. We can receive MERCY when we mess up. We all mess up. With a genuine sorrow for the sin and full intent to turn from it we will receive his forgiveness and mercy.

3. We can find GRACE when we are weak, incapable, and need resources, which is just about all the time.  These grace-gifts are given freely to His children. We have not because we ask not.

Freedom to stroll into the Oval Office to consult with a sitting United States President seems like nothing compared to the privilege we actually do have to boldly enter God’s presence any time we choose!

Our Father, what an amazing privilege to write these words knowing you see and hear them. Thank-you we can come into your very throne room boldly and confidently as your child. Please have mercy on us in our sins. Please provide all we need to serve You effectively and faithfully.

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!

I Don’t Like Talking about It

I often get overwhelmed and depressed. There, I said it. I didn’t want to say it. I don’t like talking about my weaknesses.

I fall into the trap that many other pastors do. We often feel we must appear to have it all together all the time.

We don’t have it all together all the time! But you already knew that, didn’t you!?

I would rather talk about my spiritual gift inventory that reveals the strengths of teaching and encouragement. I would rather point to (brag about) the things I’m “good at.”

I regularly pray rebuking these spiritual attacks attempting to defeat me.  I ask often that these feelings of inadequacy and depression be covered by the blood of Jesus. In Jesus’ name I tell Satan to get behind me and out of my life. I use memorized verses to replace the thoughts that want to tear me down.

Why can I be honest about something I really want to pretend doesn’t exist? Because the apostle Paul with all of his strengths, letters he wrote, sermons he preached, churches he started, and mission trips led did the same thing!!!!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Admitting my weaknesses helps me realize that the grace of Jesus Christ is enough for me!

Being honest about my humanity helps me see His power at work in my weaknesses!

Only by admitting my weaknesses can the power of Christ truly rest upon me!

Jesus did not suddenly appear on eath as a victorious, conquering King. He revealed himself in weakness. He came as a helpless baby dependent on his mother. Even in Christmas we celebrate power revealed in weakness!

Since the Son of God became weak to show God’s great power and love, how much more must we follow in His steps!

Our Father, we are weak, dysfunctional, and damaged in many ways. THANK-YOU that Your grace is enough for us, Your power is perfected in our weaknesses, and the power of Christ rests upon us in spite of ourselves. We admit to You our many weaknesses so that today Your power will shine brightly through us. Thank-you for the constant presence of Jesus in us who makes this possible.

Panic Attacks

His panic attacks came from two sources.

First, taunts and scoffs hit him like a punch to the gut. Those throwing these verbal missiles did not believe in the Creator God, his Father God, and especially rejected his faith the Messiah. The blasts from unbelievers’ mouths are real and hurtful. “Where is your God?” “Human life is not sacred, it is ok to kill an unborn baby!”

Second, a claustrophobic discouragement and sadness pressed upon him from within. He felt like it would crush him. The onset of loneliness from these internal attacks overwhelmed his faith. “Why has God forgotten me?!” “Oh, why can’t it be like it used to be?”

Who is this guy? Boy he needs help! Sometimes its me.  Sometimes its you. In this case it is the Psalmist in Psalm 42.

He struggles in these eleven verses between putting his trust in God and the discouragement of the spiritual battle going on. Read it. Feel the tug of war! The hurt is real! The pain is palpable.

In verses 1 and 2 he compares his desire for God to a deer parched with thirst looking for a cool stream of water.

In verses 3 and 4 he remembers a better day of believers worshipping together compared to his current situation of  unbelievers taunting him. Today’s media packed with unbelievers taunt our faith in God. They label holding high standards of morality and ethics as hatred.

In verses 5 and 6 he reminds himself to put his hope in God. He’s encouraged that God is like a mountain from which a river flows.

In verses 7, 8, and 9 he puts his trust in God. The crashing waves of the seashore remind him that God’s unfailing love is constant like those waves. He sings and prays to the one who gives him life. God is his rock.

Yet in verse 9b and 10, he once more reflects on the taunts of the enemy. The attacks are real and discouraging.

But his conclusion is worth the battle! In verse 11 he says:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.  Psalm 42:11 ESV

Why should I stay in such a state of being down and out? Well I don’t have to! Hope in God! Praise Him again and again. He is my salvation. He is my God!

Hope in God. How do I do that? See yourself as a thread used in sewing. See God as a massive rope used to ties ships to a dock. Hoping in God is the act of binding that weak thread into that massive rope. HIS STRENGTH BECOMES YOUR STRENGTH. Weave yourself into God. Hope in Him!

Our Father, thank-you in the midst of spiritual battles we can bind ourselves into You receiving real hope. We are like a weak thread, but You are an unbreakable rope. Today we choose to bind ourselves into You.

Love and Boldness

My TV consumption has dropped considerably. I watch an occasional football game and some news.

I recently watched one of the new detective dramas. The underlying tone disturbed me. “Hate crimes” provided the theme.

Now I believe prejudice is a sin. Eliminate it from your attitudes and actions! But, to me, it is obvious that this “hate crime” legislation is the foundation in America to persecute Christians. In fact, it already is.

If I disagree with someone does not mean I hate them. But now, in America, if I disagree with the abortion law, then some define me as a hate-monger. If I say that homosexuality, adultery, or pornography are not good lifestyles, then some define me as having a “phobia.”

Society’s treatment of first century Christians “scattered” them. That means they fled for their very lives! Their society defined them as haters of Caesar and haters of Judaism because they loved the Lord Jesus Christ..

America is quickly moving back to this barbaric attitude that condones the imprisonment and even killing of Christians.  To love God more than this world, stand for salvation in Christ alone, and call sin a destructive force will increasingly cost us more.

As a nation, we have moved back to the secular attitudes the early Christians knew in the first century. Peter and Paul in the New Testament faced these situations with courage and spoke the gospel story of Jesus Christ.

Don’t lose hope! Jesus still changes lives! The love of God in John 3:16 is still the center of the gospel.

What was true for the Psalmist centuries ago is still true for us today!

O Lord, how many are my foes!

Many are the rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.  Psalm 3:1-4

Our Father, the tide is shifting just as you prophesied in Your Word. Keep us confident in You. We believe in Your Son Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We believe every knee will one day bow to Him. Thank-you that you love us and live in us. Fill us with boldness and love.

 

Don’t Give Up!

What if God gave us the desires of our heart? Could we define what our heart’s desires are?

The list would likely become very long.

  • Stop the tide of militant Islam in our world.
  • Heal a disease or injury.
  • Give a few more months of life to the dying.
  • Free the captive and persecuted Christians enduring severe persecution.
  • Bring my neighbor, grandchild, or friend to salvation.
  • Save my child’s marriage.
  • Ignite a wave of revival and spiritual awakening.
  • Heal the consequences of my sin or my loved one’s sin.
  • Stop the evildoers from robbing our freedoms.
  • May our nation be obsessed with repentance and revival instead of sexual expression in all kinds of perverted ways.
  • Make me happy.
  • Grow our church.
  • Bring thousands more to saving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
  • Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Psalm 37 gives hope! Meditate on these verses for a few minutes:

1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!

2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will act.

God wins! Keep doing the little things you can do here and now. Fret not. Don’t worry. Don’t envy the seemingly successful evildoers. They will wither away soon. Trust in the Lord. Be faithful. DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD! Commit your way to Him. God will act!

Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Share the transforming power of Jesus Christ in spite of the growing antagonism in our secularized society. Jesus changes lives!

Our Father, forgive us for fretting. We commit ourselves to DELIGHT in You! We pray for spiritual awakening and revival in our nation and in our world. You are our only hope and salvation. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Look Out the Window

Take-off was a rush! I never dreamed that the initial thrust would set me back into my seat the way it did. In no time we were off the ground quickly gaining altitude.

As an adult I experienced my first ride on a commercial passenger plane. I felt like a kid. The thrill of take-off put butterflies in my stomach.

Then came the view! I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the patchwork below me. Seeing things from thousands of feet above the earth gives a whole new perspective!

I thought to myself, “God sees the world like this all the time, yet he knows me personally!”

Our Father always has the big picture perspective for our lives, disasters, sins, set-backs, diseases, and celebrations.

Jeremiah told his countrymen who had just been carried off to captivity to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

We often see this verse on plaques . It is certainly an encouraging verse. It is one I meditate on when I get discouraged.

But the context is a horrible situation of defeat and exile! Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 in a letter to settle in, build homes, have lots of children and grandchildren, and make the city prosperous and peaceful, because you will be there a long time, seventy years!

Are you going through a disaster or an exile now? Perhaps your disaster has already lasted a long time. Or maybe it is just beginning.

Remember God has the 35,000 feet view even though you can’t seem to see 3 feet in front of you. God’s really does have the big picture.

Honor and love your Father in Heaven in the middle of your chaos. He indeed knows the plans He has for you! He wants your good, not disaster.  So whether He delivers next week, years down the road, or in heaven, He will come through! The LORD is still your hope!

Look out the window.

Our Father, thank-you for the hope, assurance, and confidence that you never lose control of this universe, this world, and the circumstances of our lives. Fill us with hope in the midst of our exiles. Help us to live faithful lives honoring You inside our disasters.