Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!”
If you saw Joseph in his prime, you’d probably think, “Oh, that must be nice.” Or negatively, “He’s sold God out, and all he cares about now is power and money.”
Really? Here’s the backstory:
Betrayed by his brothers and thrown into a pit. Then sold intoslavery. Then falsely accused of rape by his master’s wife. Then thrown into prison. All this over the course of thirteen hellish years. And the Bible says that through it all, God was positioning him to save a nation and his family.
We’ve got to be very careful about being jealous over other people’s blessings without knowing the backstory. It can be so easy to look at someone who’s in a good position or a church that’s really successful and be envious of what God has given them. Or be critical of it.
But you don’t know the road that person had to take to get to where they are today. You don’t know the price they’ve had to pay to get their church to where it’s at today.
They might have had to go through hell. Just like Joseph did. And they might have been faithful through it all. Just like Joseph was.
Would you still want their blessing if you knew the backstory? Would you be willing to go through the same thing to get it? Would you be as critical if you knew the whole story?
God’s blessings were never meant to trigger envy or suspicion.
Don’t waste any more time being jealous of someone else’s blessings. God has given you exactly what you need to do exactly what He’s called you to do.
And don’t be critical of other people’s blessings either. God’s given them exactly what they need, too.
Don’t envy where God has taken other people. Stop lamenting the hand He’s dealt you. It’s better than you think.
So good, in fact, that there’s someone else in the world that would probably be jealous of it.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I don't want to judge them too harshly because I really haven't watched more than 15 minutes. Maybe I am missing something. If the show is really about indulgence in sex, alcohol, and boorish behavior I can't believe anyone watches it. Yet they have good ratings. What does that say about the culture?
I think that we have a lot of work to do. We need to figure out how to reach the generation that is captivated by the rich and pampered. Any ideas?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
The same thing is true of the things we do to keep our mind, body and spirit in shape. A little exercise and some attention to a proper diet will allow our body to do well as we age. If we keep the fat in check and continue to maintain our flexibility we will be able to lead productive lives well into our advancing years. This is also true of the spiritual exercises that engage in. As we study the scriptures, pray and spend time in worship, it will prepare us for whatever challenges and blessings come our way. It will not always be easy to devote the time to these spiritual disciplines but it will be well worth it over time.
So now that the car is all set, it is time to take care of this old body. Talk to you soon.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I couldn't believe it because anything that had been out in the snow would have looked worse for the wear. This was brand new like it had floated down from heaven. It was almost as if someone had walked by while I was shoveling and set it there for me to see.
The thought hit me that it was a sign from God to tell me that Benny's had everything I needed to clear my walk and driveway from the snow. Get your shovel's snow blowers, extension cords, gas cans, lock de-icer at Benny's now. I laughed and was reminded how God often gave wonders and signs to the prophets in the Bible. Moses had the burning bush. Gideon had the wet fleece. Elijah had the fire from heaven. John the baptist had the dove descending from heaven. I had the Benny's circular.
The truth is that God often will give us a dream, a vision, an unlikely coincidence to tell us that he is with us and wants us to do something. Most of the time we ignore it. Every once in a while it is so clear that we have to pick it up and see what happens next.
That happened to me last fall. I received a letter from a pulpit committee in Westerly, Rhode Island and it struck within me that I had to check out. In the following weeks it became clear to me that God was calling me and I needed to respond. The events that unfolded brought me to the place I stand today. This past week I gave my notice to the members and friends of the First baptist Church that I was leaving. My last Sunday will be March 6, 2011. I will answering God's call to become the next pastor of the Central Baptist Church of Westerly, Rhode Island on March 9th and begin my walk with them as they enter the season of Lent.
It has been my good fortune to serve the people of First Baptist and of greater Norwich for the past quarter century. I consider myself the most fortunate man on the face of the earth. I thank God for that and I thank all of you.
As I did on that day when I was shoveling snow, I saw the circular, made note of it, and went back to the work I was doing. So now I do that with ministry. For the next two months I will celebrate and enjoy the work God has given us to do here and then move on as we both begin a new chapter in our worship and service of God.
In his service,
Monday, January 10, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Guess what? Last night it snowed and we had seven inches fall on our walk. I got up early this morning and blew away the snow. It was a snap and the new cord worked perfectly. This afternoon I cam back and cleaned it up a little better. While I was out there I noticed my neighbor's walk hadn't been done so I went to work on it. I thought I would pay forward the kindness that was offered me during the last snow storm. The new 100 foot cord worked perfectly and gave me enough cord to do her walk as well as the rest of mine.
I don't mention this to toot my own horn but just to note that every time we do something nice for someone else, it always seems to come back to us. Maybe that is why Jesus encouraged us to treat others as we would want them to treat us. I think he knew something.
So next time you have been blessed, pay it forward and watch it come back to you in time.
Friday, January 7, 2011
1 Pet 1:6 In which time you exult, though for a little while
at present, if it must be, you have been made sorrowful by
various trials, (7) So that the proving of your faith, much
more precious than of gold which perishes though it is
proved by fire , may be found unto praise and glory and
honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
We should not only believe in God's love but also in His
wisdom. He loves us, and He knows everything. His love never
changes, and His wisdom never errs. Nothing will come upon us
that is not profitable for us. God's power will bring us
through everything we need to go through, and this power will
enable us to bear the burdens that come upon us. Therefore,
we can say before the Lord, “Thank the Lord. Praise Him
because His will is never wrong.” Praising God for His grace
is initial praise; praising Him for His will is mature
praise. Initial praise is praising Him for what we have;
mature praise is praising Him for what we lose. Brothers and
sisters, we can rest, and we can rejoice because in
everything we see God's love, His wisdom, and His power.
In the book The Streams in the Desert (Oct. 24), there is
this passage: “A piece of iron that is worth five dollars
will be worth $10 when it is cast into a horseshoe. If it is
made into needles, it will be worth $350. If it is made into
fine blades, it will be worth $32,000, and if it is made into
springs inside watches, it will be worth $250,000.” What is
the difference between a piece of iron worth $10, $350,
$32,000, and $250,000? It is the same material, but after
many trials and much beating, it becomes stronger, more
pliable, and more valuable. In order to make us more
valuable, God brings us through many trials and beatings. In
order to become a useful and valuable vessel before the Lord,
we must not bemoan the things that God has allowed to come
upon us. Instead, we should rejoice and rest. We should say
to the Lord, “Father, I thank You, because everything You
have allowed to come upon me is good.” If we submit to the
will of God, our heart will find rest, and we will be filled
with joy. Our mouth will be full of praise, and our burden
will no longer be a burden.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I thought about this and was reminded of the way God takes us, broken with an uncertain future, and gives us a second chance. He offers us forgiveness and the opportunity to turn our lives around so that we can reflect his glory.
I went through a severe depression in my second year of college and began drinking to relieve some of the pain. It didn't help. It actually made things worse. I ended up flunking out of school. All my dreams seemed to go right down the drain. Yet, thanks to the love of a few special people in my life, I was able to turn things around. I got a second chance and made the most of it. I finished school, went on to get my Masters and Doctorate.
Today I am blessed to be the pastor of a great church and am able to share the love of God through the church to the whole community. It all happened because of the grace of God. God is so good. It happened for me and it can happen to you to. All you need to do is ask him.
If your life is a mess right now, invite God to come into your life and he will give you a second chance and help you start over. So what are you waiting for?
By the way: I hope Brad Penny is a tiger next year and that he recaptures the magic he had a few years ago.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
It is then that I realize that all she sees me as is a source of food and drink. She couldn't care less if I lived or died as long as I am there to feed her. It is so sad. She will never be able to appreciate all the things I can do for her.
The truth is that many of us do the same thing to God. We look at him as a supplier of our needs. We call on him when we need something and then forget about him when the need is met. Yet God wants to do so much more for us. We simply won't allow him to be God.
The people who really get it are the most blessed people in the world. They enjoy a deep and abiding relationship with their creator and know his peace. They live lives filled with joy and go about their daily routines with a knowledge that God is always with them.
I pray that you might find this type of relationship with the lover of our souls. If you haven't done so yet, stop thinking about what God can do for you and begin living life with him at your side. You will be glad you did.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
It is amazing how our perception changes over time and as things get closer and move away. Nothing looks the same as the relationship of distance and time change. We kn ow that is true of the physical world. It is also true of the spiritual world.
We often think of God as distant and uncaring especially when life becomes difficult. That is only because we haven't invited him in to our struggles and asked him to walk with us. Once God begins to draw near, problems never look as big and troubles soon disappear.
God doesn't do it magically. He sends people like you and me to help and to encourage us. That is the gift of faith. Thanks be to God!