Growing Weaker But Growing Stronger

On Monday nights I have been volunteering at a local nursing with some other members of our church.  I try to make the rounds, talk to the residents and see if they have any special needs or prayer requests.  The last time I was there I talked with a dear lady who shared with me about her family and some of their needs. She told me she was tired and had not been feeling well physically.  She asked me to pray for her health so that she will have the energy to pray for her family and be able to remain strong in her faith until the Lord calls her home.  She was so genuine and so sweet.  I told her that her request reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

I also told her how much I enjoyed visiting with her and how I believed she was serving as a good example of a mature saint.  I promised to pray for her strength in the upcoming weeks and we prayed together before I left.

As I continue in my own journey of “maturing” as a believer, it becomes more evident to me all the time that this outer man is decaying.  I have new aches and pains every year, I get injured more easily and it takes me longer to bounce back from those injuries.  Though I am trying to take care of myself physically by eating better and working out, I still acknowledge what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:11…eventually time overtakes us all.

But thankfully, even though this outer man is decaying and my body is beginning that steady process of slowly growing weaker as I age, I know I can count on God to renew my inner man and strengthen my spirit. He does so as I spend time with Him; in His word and His will, in His praise and with His people.  We serve a wonderful and merciful God.  The Lord is good and I am confident that He will honor my friend’s request.

Posted in 2 Corinthians 4:16, Christianity, Ecclesiastes 3:11, faith, God, growing older, prayer, Praying for Others, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Praise

I was reading that wonderful passage again about Paul and Silas in prison in Acts (see Acts 16:16-34, you will be blessed!).  I love their praise in the midst of the prison.  They start praising and in the midst of their praise, the Lord blesses them, removes their chains and sets them free and people end up getting saved.  Oh, God is so good!  This morning I was trying to imagine what they might have been singing.  I tried to picture Paul tapping his foot, hearing the chains rustling and ringing with Silas in the background starting Paul off with a deep, southern “Welllll…” and then Paul kicks in with something a little bluesy….

I used to kick against the goads,
Until that day on the Damascus Road,
The Lord dropped me to my knees,
Said, “Why do you persecute me?”
I bowed down and hid my face,
But then the Lord forgave me by His Grace!

You see He gave His life on Calvary
To pay my debt and to set me free;
He is the life, the way and the truth,
He rose again and that’s His proof.
When I put myself into His Hand,
He made me a brand new man,

That’s my story and it’s true,
What He did for me He can do for you,
You don’t have to be on the Damascus Road,
For the Lord to come and save your soul,
Just humble yourself and seek His face,
And He’ll forgive you by His Grace!

Well, it sounds good in my head.  I hope that you know the Lord loves you!  I hope that you know you can come to Him at any time; in good times, bad times, and average times.  Go to Him any time you  need His comfort, His wisdom, His mercy, His grace…that sounds like all times to me!  Have a blessed day.  Until next time stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Acts 16:16 -34, Christianity, God, inspirational, Paul in Prison, prayer, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Gotta Tell Somebody

Haley loves cookies  The other day my daughter and granddaughters came over.  I had an extra unopened canister of shortbread cookies left over from Christmas and I gave them to my youngest granddaughter Haley to take home with her.  Haley is 3 years old and Haley loves cookies.  She loves them so much she has earned the nickname “Cookie Monster.”  I gave the canister of cookies to Haley as soon as they walked in…mistake.  All afternoon Haley was smiling and telling everyone in the house, “We’re having cookies tonight after supper.  These are me and Avery’s cookies.  You can have some too.  You want a cookie?  We’re having cookies tonight.”  That girl was so excited about having cookies; she had plenty and she did not mind sharing them.  She even offered two cookies to her momma.  I loved listening to her talking with great joy about those cookies and the way she was willing to share them with everybody that afternoon.  Maybe it wasn’t a mistake giving them to her so soon after all.

It reminded me of the constant joy with which Christians should talk about the Lord.  We should get just as excited about Christ and our faith as a three year old gets about a big canister of cookies.  With Christ we have all the grace, all the strength, all the peace, all the power, and all the mercy we need.  What else could we want?  We have plenty to share with everybody and we should not hesitate to joyfully tell others about what we have and how they can enjoy the same sweet goodness from our Lord.  David said it like this in Psalm 40:

Psalm 40:9 “I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; Behold, I will not restrain my lips, O LORD, Thou knowest.  10 I have not hidden Thy righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation.”

Do you know how good the Lord is?  Have you tasted of His mercy, His forgiveness and His faithfulness?  Have you offered to share those things with someone else? Have you spoken of His faithfulness and salvation?  If not, this week would be a great time to get started.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, grandchildren, joy, Love the Lord, Psalm 40:9, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spoiler Alerts and A Touch of Glory

**SPOILER ALERT**  Those words typically warn that information about how a story or a movie ends is about to be revealed. Such a warning gives one time to change the channel, leave the room or cover their ears if they don’t want to know how the story ends. During Christmas vacation, I was blessed to spend some time watching a few of her favorite movies with my 5 year old granddaughter Avery.  Apparently Avery is unfamiliar with the term “spoiler alert.”  She has seen all of her movies dozens of times and she knows each story very well.  She introduced me to all the characters and in the scenes with some tension; she made sure I knew that everything was going to be okay.  In her excitement, she even told me how the story ends…several times!

Was I upset?  Of course not, I love that girl and I love the joy she has for life. Not only did we have a good time together but she provided a good example for me of a practice we should engage in as Christians.  We should regularly issue “spoiler alerts” in regard to faith in Christ.  Although, I must say that I would suggest a better name   How about “Glory alert.”  You see, the Bible says in Philippians 2:10-11 that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

No matter what type of cinematic adventure people may imagine themselves to be taking part in; whether it be a tragedy, drama, romantic comedy, from time to time, they need a glory alert.  They need to know who can be trusted.  They need to know who to turn to.  They need to know that the tough times don’t last forever.  Can you issue a glory alert?  Do you know the characters in God’s word well enough to describe them to someone who does not yet know God’s story?  In times of tension can you assure others or yourself that everything will be okay?  Do you know how the story ends?  I do.  **GLORY ALERT**

Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.  Romans 10:13

The Lord shall never leave you nor forsake you.  Hebrews 13:5

The Lord is our light and our salvation, whom shall we fear?  Psalm 27:1

Sorrows may last for the night but joy comes in the morning!  Psalm 30:5

I can do all things through Christ strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

“…He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain…”  Revelation 21:4

Posted in Christmas, faith, God, grandchildren, Psalm 27:1, Psalm 30:5, Revelation 21:4, spoiler alert | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year – Be Blessed

Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.”

The Lord definitely blessed me and my family during 2014.  We had some great times as we celebrated some special birthdays and other wonderful occasions together including Eric and Amanda’s wedding.   Yes, it was a great year in many ways.  Now, I am not saying that it was a perfect year or that it was not without its challenges.  But I can say that even in the “less than premiere times” we were still blessed.  The Lord was with us.  He had His hand on us and He took care of us.  Our trust was in Him and will continue to be in Him in the upcoming year as well.  The Lord made a promise through the prophet Jeremiah to those who place their trust in Him:

“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:8

I pray that you will have a blessed and prosperous 2015.  I pray that your trust and confidence will rest in the Lord.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Being Blessed, faith, God, Happy New Year, Jeremiah 17:7, Love the Lord, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Songs – What a Blessing

I love the tradition of gathering together with friends and family at Christmas.  I love this time of year.  I love the food, the fun and I love singing songs of adoration and devotion as we prepare our hearts celebrate this most glorious time of the year.  I do love the songs of Christmas.  As a kid growing up I did not spend a lot of time in church.  What I learned about God, heaven, and Jesus I picked up in Vacation Bible School and I also learned a lot from Christmas songs.  I love the truth found in the Christmas carols.  For example that verse in “O Come All Ye Faithful” which says:

“Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given;  Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

There are some great foundations of our faith presented in the words of those songs.  But even beyond the words of truth present, what spoke to me was the spirit of the songs.  I don’t see how anyone can listen to those songs and not experience a sense of reverence, a sense of peace and God’s goodwill.  I can tell you that as a child when I heard Silent Night and Away in a Manger my heart was filled with peace.  The chaos of life, the problems of this world always seemed to slow down as I listened to those songs.  It seemed as if God was telling me that because of the gift of His Son everything was going to be all right.  I needed that.  I grew up in a home where there were some issues from time to time.  It was a place where sometimes it was just best to lay low and I was not always good at laying low.  No, my home life was not always characterized by peace.

But as I grew I learned that just like those Christmas songs say, Christ came to offer peace on earth and goodwill to men.  Those are gifts that only He can give.  He offers peace even in the midst of the most difficult situations.  Christ offers peace to us even when we have done wrong; even when we have invited chaos into our own lives.  In John chapter 8 there is a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery and Jesus intervenes even in the midst of that situation.  He brings peace.  He grants her forgiveness and sends her on her way.  She is sent on her way not as one condemned, not as one condoned but as one commissioned to receive His grace and to sin no more.  She is sent on her way to know the peace and the order that only Christ can bring to one’s life.

Christ offers peace even in the midst of our personal aches and pains.  He is the Good Shepherd spoken of by David in Psalm 23.  As David says, “He restoreth my soulYea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  The New Testament records for us person after person strengthened and comforted by Christ as He engaged in His earthly ministry.  Jesus still reaches out to comfort us and give us peace today.  He said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I did not know that verse when I was a kid.  I did not know what weary and heavy-laden meant but I knew that there were things that caused me stress and there were some things that made me tired.  And I knew from my Christmas songs that Jesus Christ offered peace to me.  I knew that in His presence it could be a silent night; it could be a holy night.  He had the power to step into my world and make it calm and make it bright.  Verse 3 of the song “Away in a Manger” captured the prayer of my heart:

“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay 
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.”

Oh my friend, the Christmas songs are right.  If you need peace, if you need rest, you need Jesus Christ.  We should adore Him.  He is Christ the Lord.  There is a need of your soul; there is a longing that only He can satisfy.  I wish you a Merry Christmas.  I wish you the peace, goodwill and forgiveness that only Christ can bring.   Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

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Taking the Right Path

Have you ever caught yourself going the wrong way? I did it this morning. I headed to the office and I went the wrong way. Now, the route I took is still a way to get there, but it is not way that I want to go. I live about 35 miles away from work and the straightest shot for me is to take I-35 and head north. It is a familiar route because it is one that I started taking almost 25 years ago. A few years back I decided that there were just too many accidents and delays on I-35. Too many times I found myself just sitting in traffic and I decided to start taking a different route and I began driving in on Mopac. Though Mopac is not without its challenges, overall I have encounter fewer traffic jams, fewer delays and my commute is less frustrating and far more enjoyable.

Every now and then I do what I did this morning. I will accidentally get stuck in “auto pilot” mode and revert back to my old route and before I know it, there I am stuck like Chuck on I-35. Such a driving error reminds me how easy it can be for people to take wrong turns in life.  There can be routes we want to take and routes we want to avoid and yet before we know it, we end up heading the wrong way.

If we find ourselves in such a predicament we should pray for strength and wisdom to do better as we move on down the road.  We can take also comfort from God’s word that we are not alone in these challenges.  Paul writes about his similar struggles in Romans chapter 7. Paul says there are things he wants to do that he doesn’t do and things he doesn’t want to do that he finds himself doing. He talks about the struggle between our flesh and our spirit. But then he goes on to praise the Lord for setting us free from the sin that reigns in our flesh and giving us the power to take the right path, to do what’s right and to do the will of God.

Even though we are in Christ and are new creations (2 Cor 5:17) we can slip back to old ways from time to time. Those ways aren’t just related to how we drive but how we live, how we cope, how we interact with others and how we handle trials and tribulations. Sometimes we all take wrong turns and head a direction we did not mean to take or do something we wish we had not done. That is just one of the reasons I am glad we serve a God of mercy and grace. The Bible says in Psalm 103: 14 “He knows our frame, He is mindful that we are only dust.” This does not mean we have license or liberty to sin, backslide or behave badly. Not at all, but it does mean we have a Lord who understands our weaknesses and our flaws. It is because of our weaknesses, flaws and sins that He went to the cross. Yes, He is mindful of our frame and He knows that we are only dust. He knows how easily we can take wrong turns but He still loves us and stands ready to place us back on the right path. Have you let Him place you on the right path today? He will, if you let Him. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, doing the right thing, faith, God, Psalm 103:14, religion, Romans 7:15 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment