Tuesday, November 24, 2009

met needs

I worked with a family yesterday who were displaced due to crsis that threatened their safety. It was my day off but because I knew the family and was aware how critical the situation was, I plunged into it with confidence.

Why was I confident? I thought of all the people I knew who would be willing to help and a catastrophe--which it continues to be because it reflects a broken home--was diminished for the moment by the realization of how great the family of God is...

*Housing was found for the family while they awaited a longer-term solution

*A suitable rental was located, and offered "free for six months" until the family gets established

*A friend to clean the very dirty carpets was located and changed his schedule to accomodate their needed transitional timetable

*Someone donated a refrigerator to be used while they were in the apartment...and offered to deliver it

*People who don't know the family have offered to help them move

*Food from the church perishable pantry will help them get through the next few weeks

All of this happened within the space of six hours--from the time we heard the news to the signing of papers with PGE and the water company to get them settled by week's end.

My confidence is not in myself, but in a God who promises to "supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory."

And He is a God who can fix families, too. Keep praying with me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

men praying together

Eight of my good buddies joined me today at 6:30 a.m. for a time of prayer together. We welcomed a new friend today, spent time reading the Word, sharing requests, praying together and eating breakfast.

What a great way to start the day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The pursuit of eschatological truth

For Christians eschatology (the study of "last things") remains one of the most challening areas of study. Due to its imagery and apocalyptic content, agreement about interpretation is not easily reached among scholars. As I am preaching through I Thessalonians I am confronted in chapter four with the idea of a "rapture" and the debate about whether or not it is a spearate event frorm the second coming.

Last week I preached from 4:13-18 and affirmed the pretribulational rapture position that I, as well as our church statement of faith, embrace. My reading and preparatory study was fascinating as I surveyed a wide array of opinions and comments, some of which labeled opposing views as "heretical". I would have to admit that there are some perspectives that seem far-fetched, but the honest debate about dispensationalism and the teaching of the Word regarding Israel and the church--does the church replace Israel in prophecy is a critical question--leaves room for healthy dialogue.

Without dismissing these conversations, I want to make a few observations from my study of I Thessalonians that are critical for me personally, independent of one's eschatological stance.

1. We should look forward to Christ's return, I Thessalonians 1:10.

2. Christ's return will usher us into the rpesence of our Lord Jesus; that is our hope and joy, I Thessalonians 2:19.

3. We will be with the Lord forever, I Thessalonians I Thessalonians 4:17.

4. We are to encourage one another with this hope, I Thessalonians 4:18.

As you work your way through the details of eschatology, don't get stuck along the way. Keep focused on the certainty Christ's return--regardless of the chronology of events--"for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself just as He is pure." I John 3:3.

The pursuit of eschatological truth should not deter us from living living holy lives; it should, in fact, make us more determined to walk even more closely with the One we long to see.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

What...me worry?

Alfred E. Neumann, a fictional person of the past, prompted those words--"What...me worry?" For me, the answer is a sad, but self-effacing, "yes!"

Someone phoned me this morning and they were worried about a set of circumstances they were facing, and they had some legitimate cause for concern. My default response--one that I believe in my heart--was to remind them of Philippians 4:6 and 7, "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of Goid which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

And we prayed together over the phone--another thing I recognize as essential in dealing with the ravages of worry--I felt a calmness and a sense of God's peace enter our conversaion together.

So, here I am, sitting in front of my computer, confessing my worry over a littany of things, admittedly, things over which I have no control. They are things which run the gamut of family issues, church challenges and personal concerns.

And I am worrying...

I just picked up my Bible, read Philippians 4:6ff for the umpteenth time, and bowed my head in prayer before God.

As I prepare for a funeral service in another fifty minutes, I am glad to report that God has brought some peace to my heart once again.

"What...me worry?"

Probably, I will again.

But for now, I am grateful for God's transcendent peace.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

sunday sundries

Every Sunday is an adventure but today was especially exciting...

*I taught the concluding class of an eight week class on "Rebuilding Bruised and Broken Relationships" (probably a subject to be taught every year...)

*I preached another message from a series taken from I Thessalonians; today's study was from 4:9-12 and was entitled, "Simple Rules for Daily Life" (turns out, they aren't that "simple"...)

*Bev and I visited a young mother and father whose first baby was born yesterday afternoon! (I held the baby...)

*We "lunched" at a Japanese restaurant with two special church families ( I skipped the sushi...)

*We visited a young man whose wife died a year ago; we came to his estate sale to get some books his wife and set aside for me...and tried to encourage him as he walks through his grief (lots of old books!)

*We visited an elderly woman who is dying from cancer; her family was gathered around her as we prayed for her imminent "home-going" (she's a believer...)

We came home tired, but rejoicing in the opportunities this Sunday provided us for sharing with the family of God.

It is like that every week...no wonder we feel blessed!