My Privilege

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
- Col. 3:15

It is an understatement to say that thankfulness is big with God. It was big in the Old Testament, mostly because Israel forgot to be thankful for what they had been given. Likewise, Christians are instructed to remain thankful, lest we fall under the same condemnation. Paul told the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). But what do you do when someone thanks you? That has been an awkward thing for me. Deep down I don’t believe I deserve a “thank you.” Especially when I believe I should be the one thanking someone else.

Often, I will say “my privilege,” which is intended to express both my gratitude for the “thank you,” and my deep sense that I was blessed to do whatever it was that prompted the thanks. Over the years it has been my privilege to be involved in the lives of other people, because they have blessed me greatly.

It is truly my privilege to be married to my wonderful wife, she has been such a ray of light in my life. It is truly my privilege (and a wonderful responsibility) to have been given a healthy and happy boy. It is my privilege to be attending the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions (aka SEIBS), where it is my privilege to know some great guys. (Since you are reading this it might be my privilege to know you.) Most importantly it is my privilege to serve a great and awesome God! He ultimately does not need my service, but  being full of grace and mercy, He allows me to offer my imperfect life to Him.

So, to you reading this blog, I say, THANK YOU. Now, what are you going to do with that?

Let God Hold You

l+j When my son, Jeremiah, was a newborn I would often hold him when he was crying. At times it seemed as if the only times I held him were times when he was strung out. It seemed as if I rarely had a chance to hold him when he was happy. Now that was not completely true, but it sure did seem like that at times.

I wonder if sometimes our heavenly Father feels that way about us. We go to Him when we have nowhere else to go. We readily approach Him when our hearts are broken or when we are stressed out. We let Him hold us only when we are strung out. God certainly wants to take our cares and our worries. He is, after all, called the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). When we are in great need, we should let God wrap us in His arms. However, that should not be the only time when we let Him hold us.

Friends, our God wants to be involved in our lives all the time. He wants us to remember Him in the good times as well as the bad. He wants us to embrace Him and to be embraced by Him, not only in our sorrow but also in our joy. The apostle Paul would, on many occasions, break out into praise in the middle of a letter (Rom. 9:5; 11:36; Gal. 1:5; Eph. 3:20,21; 1 Tim. 1:16,17; 2 Tim. 4:18). When times are bad, quickly go to God for help and comfort. But don’t shut Him out of your life when times are good. Let God hold you today!

“The Secret of Life”

On February 28, 1953, sixty years ago today, two scientists made a discovery that wouldADN_animation change the way people understood the human body. On this day, James Watson and Francis Crick conceived of the famous “double helix” structure of DNA. This ground-breaking discovery proved that DNA could indeed carry complex data. It also allowed people of all ages to understand the human body in new and exciting ways. In announcing their discovery the scientists exclaimed, “We have discovered the secret of life!”

As meaningful as this discovery was, I would propose to you that the secret of life is something else entirely, something radical even. I suggest that the real secret of life is death. You see, Christ died so that we might live (1 Thess. 5:10). Christ’s death makes it possible for us to have eternal life, but only if we will die to self (2 Cor. 5:15), and to sin (1 Peter 2:24). Scripture informs us that death is inevitable, “it is appointed unto man to die once” (Heb. 9:27). However, for those who have already died to self and to sin, this physical death is merely a gateway to eternal life (1 Cor. 15:36-37).

You see friends, the secret of life is not really found in the structure of DNA. Rather it is found in the death of our Lord and in our being united with Him in a death like His (Rom. 6:1-6). There will be a day when Christ comes again, and all that is perishable will cease. It is on that day that death will be swallowed up in victory, and we will say, “O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54-57). Because of Christ’s death we can live forever more, and that is the real secret of life. Praise God for His great gift!

Character

Sarah Darling did a good dead, and almost lost something of great value. As Sarah walked by Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man in Kansas City, she took out her coin purse and emptied it into his cup. It wasn’t until the next day that she noticed her engagement ring was missing. Her ring had hurt her finger the previous day so she had taken it off and put it in her coin purse, the very purse she had emptied into Mr. Harris’ cup. She returned to find Mr. Harris in the same spot as he was the day before. She inquired about the ring and he returned it to her. He was quoted as saying, “My grandfather was a reverend. He raised me from the time I was 6 months old…I do still have some character.”

How easy would it have been to take that ring to a pawn shop and never be seen again! But Billy Ray Harris had something that prevented him from doing that, character. That character instilled in him by his grandfather saved Sarah Darling from losing something of great sentimental value. That character also brought a few good things to the life of Mr. Harris. After his story was broadcast on the national news he began receiving donations, $16,000 so far.

The Bible speaks often of character, you might call it integrity. This trait is essential to a disciple of Christ. We must do what is right even when it may hurt. We will be blessed in eternity if we have integrity on this earth. Proverbs 19:1 states: “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.”  As for me, I would rather be poor and have integrity than be crooked and have an easy life.

Well done, Billy Ray Harris, you do indeed have character. How about you?

Rusty Swords

5096303686_eb20be5362_zI have Bibles; quite a few of them actually. Small ones, large ones, in between ones. Study Bibles, Chain Reference Bibles, Personal Reference Bibles, no reference Bibles. I can count 14 print Bibles, and who knows how many electronic ones that I have at my disposal. I might just be crazy, but I suspect you likely have several Bibles of your own. According to the Barna Group, 85% of households in the United States own a Bible; the average number of Bibles per household is 4.3.  With the word of God so readily available and so easily accessible, we must be reading God’s word often, right? Unfortunately, no.

According to the same study, 26% of people surveyed say they never read the Bible, another 10% read less than once per year, and still another 10% say they read once or twice per year. A full 46% percent of people surveyed say they rarely or never read the Bible outside of church related functions. Compare that with only 13% who read everyday and another 13% who read at least four times per week.

It is truly a blessing to have God’s word at our fingertips. It has not always been so, and even today many people in the world are not so blessed. What are we doing with this great blessing of God? If you never use a particular muscle that muscle will eventually be of little use to you. If you don’t exercise your mind it begins to grow dull. If our Bibles collect dust, then our spiritual sword grows rusty. We have been fortunate to have been born in a time and place of great freedom and tremendous riches. What shall we do with what we have been given? Will we allow God to speak to us through His written word? He greatly desires to tell you how much He loves you. Will you listen?