Archive for April, 2013

A problem solver…

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

I don’t know about you but I spend way too much time trying to solve my problems, and everyone else’s. I think I have to fix stuff. Are you that way? I have pretty good ideas, pretty good advice, a little bit of godly wisdom – so why not try to solve my problems and everyone else’s? Because that’s God’s job, not mine. When I’m in problem-solving mode, I tend to be anxious, unable to rest. God’s love and strength can’t work on my behalf when I’m distracted by problems. He calls me to rest in Him and let Him solve my problems. I can only do that when I come into His presence with hands open and heart trusting. He wants to be the problem solver – because He knows just how to do it.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).

Hope

Trust God’s hold on you…

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Trust God’s hold on you more than your hold on God. His faithfulness does not depend on yours. – Max Lucado

Oh how I needed this reminder today! Sometimes it’s hard to hold on to what we know to be the truth. Sometimes it’s hard to hold on when everything in our life is pulling us in so many different directions. Sometimes it’s hard to hold on to God’s promises when the evidence of a promise is yet to be seen. Sometimes it’s hard to hold on to our faith when those who mean the most to us fail us. Sometimes it’s hard to hold on. But praise the Lord that His faithfulness does not depend on ours! His hold on us CAN be trusted! Our grip is weak a lot of times, but His hold is strong and firm and secure and sure. He will never let go of us – no matter what. He isn’t faithful to us with the condition that we be faithful back. He knows we’re human. He knows our weakness. He knows how difficult it is for us at times. He created us! And He holds us in His steadfast, everlasting arms. He has us in the palm of His hands. And nothing – NOTHING – can separate us from His love.

His faithfulness does not depend on ours. Whew, that’s awfully good to know.

“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand” (Psalm 73:23).

“What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all” (Romans 3:3 & 4).

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38 & 39).

Hope

How’d I miss the beauty?

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Here are a few lines from today’s Jesus Calling devotional:

Welcome problems as perspective-lifters…The problem can be a ladder, enabling you to climb up and see your life from My (Jesus) perspective.

We get caught up in our surroundings, letting our problems bog us down. We can’t see past the details, so we miss the perspective that Jesus wants us to have. I just completely went off on my own devo-tangent, this is not where Jesus Calling went with it. But it’s what the Lord spoke to me through the visual of allowing our problem to be a ladder, allowing us to climb up over the circumstance and see our life the way Jesus sees it. We’re so entangled with the details that we miss the lesson Jesus wants us to learn, and we miss the beauty and love and support around us.

The picture to the right is an aerial shot of my hometown, Bryson City, NC. The town looks much different looking down over it. When I saw this picture posted to Facebook this morning, my first thought was that I didn’t see the small town as a quaint city nestled in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains when I lived there. Not at all. I walked these streets, I shopped with my Mom at the Sears & Roebuck catalog store, I was almost ran over by a car at 6 years old when I ran into the street in front of the small Belk department store. On a very rare occasion Mom & Dad could treat their family of 7 to a delicious cheeseburger at either Bes-Burger or NaBers Drive-In. But there was never a time that I rode into town and thought, “This is a beautiful place to live.” I lived there from birth until I was 16 years old. I can’t remember ever taking a moment to bask in the beautiful mountains that surround Bryson City. I can’t remember ever thinking “Wow, these hills and meadows are gorgeous!” I completely missed the beauty of the Western North Carolina area. How could I have missed all that? Because I focused on the day in and day out details of life. I was young, grant it. But I was old enough to appreciate God’s creation. Yet I didn’t. I never saw the small town as this picture depicts it. I was too focused on how hard life was, how difficult it was for our family being raised on a part-time mountain pastor’s salary and Clyde’s Bait & Tackle income. I was too bogged down by the drama that comes with growing up in a small town where everybody knows everybody, and everybody knows more about their neighbor’s business than they do their own. I missed the blessings because I never took the opportunity to climb the ladder of my circumstances and see things from Jesus’ perspective. He was working it all for my good. I just couldn’t see it.

I love to go back home now. I don’t get back there but a couple of times a year. I love walking the streets and meandering through the shops, eating breakfast at Everett Street Diner and dinner at Pasqualino’s (an Italian restaurant in the old Belk building). So much has changed there. Bryson City is now a tourist town, but the beauty remains. How did I miss it all those years? I was too busy looking at my circumstances, and I missed the big picture.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17 & 18).

Hope

Update on the Movie…

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Please watch the video below for an update on the ministry and the movie. I hope to get something typed up and posted very soon. Thanks so much for your prayers!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMpcASazGcM

Hope

In the middle of all this mess…

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Yesterday evening as I was running I heard a song on my iPod that I don’t remember hearing before. I haven’t added any new songs to the playlist but I don’t know the song. It is from Passion All This Glory. The line that would have stopped me in my tracks had I not been timing my run is…

In the middle of the mess there’s Majesty.

I immediately reworded it to say In the middle of MY mess there’s Majesty. Later I looked up the exact definition of Majesty and found “A supreme authority.” I have been rejoicing over that truth ever since I read it! In the middle of my mess – whatever my mess – mouthiness, whining, irresponsibility, carelessness, overcommitment, self-pity, discouragement – whatever my mess may be, there is a Supreme Authority. Let that sink in. No matter how messy our lives our – whether the mess is of our own doing or nothing we can help, there is Majesty. There is a Supreme Authority who is in total control of our situation. He gets the last word. He calls the last shot. He plays the last card. He gives us a free will and allows us to make our own decisions. But in the middle of our mess, He has supreme authority.

And this truth applies to the big ole mess our world is in. Senseless terrorist attacks on innocent lives, millions of innocent babies being murdered before they have the opportunity to see the world outside their mommy’s womb, bullying, robbery, murder, drugs, the list is a mile long! But we must not lose heart. In the middle of all this mess, there’s Majesty. In the middle of all this mess there is a Supreme Authority Who will one day make a final statement on behalf of His people. I’m so thankful I am one of His own!!

“Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the heavens. You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.” (Psalm 68:34).

“The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure” (Psalm 93:1).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Hope

Jesus is here, for crying out loud…

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I was recording a video devotional on yesterday’s devo, The Highest Place in Heaven and I got tickled at myself at one point. I was talking about Mary & Martha in the Bible. Jesus and his disciples had dropped by the ladies’ home to rest a while, and Martha was rushing around trying to throw together a meal, straightening up the house, I imagine stressing to the max. I imagine she was thinking, “Jesus is here, for crying out loud.” I chuckled when I was editing it. It comes across pretty funny, but I didn’t intend for it to. The rest of the story is that Martha’s sister, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. The Bible says she was “listening to all that he was saying.”

You know what? Jesus is here, for crying out loud. He is in this place (or that place – wherever you are). He wants to hang out with you today. Are you Martha-ing around, too busy to hear what He has to say? Will the day come and go and you will have completely missed spending time with Jesus? Or are you Mary? Are you sitting at His feet, listening to all that He is saying? Obviously we can’t get out of bed every day, pull up a rug and literally do nothing but sit in the floor and read the Bible and pray. Life must go on. We must not just exist but excel in our every day lives. But we can do that and still be resting at the feet of Jesus. He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit every day throughout the day. We just have to take time to listen. We have to figuratively place ourselves at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He’s saying. Today alone I have been blown away by what He’s had to say. You can be too. After all Jesus is here, for crying out loud. Don’t miss Him.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).

Hope

Video Devotional for The Highest Place in Heaven…

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Video Devotional for The Highest Place in Heaven…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKykSxpoiA0

Hope

The highest place in heaven…

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

One of the songs sung at Grandma Ruth’s service on Friday was Medals, Crowns & Trophies. That is one of my favorite songs from years ago when I attended church with Ruth. It is so appropriate for her testimony. One of the lines in the song says, “I’ll display my trophies at the highest place in heaven when I lay them at the Savior’s feet.” I haven’t been able to get out of my mind the visual image of Ruth, 85 years old, faithful to her Lord to her dying breath, approaching the highest place in heaven – the feet of Jesus.

Last night during our Revival service one of our own young men who grew up at  Cudd, Robert Andrews, led us in worship. Robert is in his late 20s, married to former Miss Spartanburg, Autumn McAbee Andrews, and they both are incredibly talented. I was amazed last night at how Robert’s humble heart and love for the Lord automatically led us to the highest level of worship – the feet of Jesus. And he does it without even knowing he’s doing it. He’s a natural. He plays with passion, he sings with passion, he smiles with passion. Robert loves to sing, and Robert loves Jesus. You combine all that and you leave any service he is leading feeling like you have just visited the highest place in heaven – the feet of Jesus.

That’s where the Lord wants us to hang out. He doesn’t want us to drop by once in a while when we need a miracle or two, or once in a while when we want to ask a favor of Him, or once in a while when we need Him to get us out of a mess. He wants us to spend quality time at the feet of Jesus. For it is there – the highest place in heaven, where we humble ourselves before the Lord and get to know Him personally, intimately. It is at the feet of Jesus where we find all we need to get us through each day. The highest place in heaven.

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (Luke 10:39).

“He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:16).

“They fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:10 & 11).

Hope

What is your crowd?

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

We talked about Zacchaeus a couple of weeks ago, and after the Evangelist for our Revival went there last night, I want to go there again myself. Zacchaeus could not see Jesus for the crowd, so he had to take drastic measures to see Jesus in spite of the crowd. For Zacchaeus, his crowd was made up of individuals he had wronged, individuals he had overcharged taxes to, individuals he had cheated, individuals who knew the truth about his life and the condition of his heart. But he did not let that stop him from his pursuit of the Messiah. He recognized his need for a Savior, and he didn’t stop until he saw Him.

What is your crowd? What is it in your life that keeps you from seeing Jesus? Is it individuals who you’ve wronged? Is it individuals who have wronged you? Is it individuals who know your life and your heart? What is your crowd? What is it in your life that keeps you from seeing Jesus? Maybe it’s not people at all. Maybe it’s a job that keeps you too busy to see Jesus. Maybe it’s a relationship that consumes your time and mind and heart so you don’t have time for Jesus. Maybe it’s circumstances beyond your control and you’ve chosen to take your eyes off Jesus and put them on your disappointments. What is your crowd? What is it in your life that keeps you from seeing Jesus?

Be like Zacchaeus. Don’t allow the crowd in your life to stop you. Zacchaeus could have seen the great crowd and said, “Oh well, I tried to see Jesus but this crowd is too overwhelming. Never mind.” But he didn’t. He went to great lengths to see Jesus – to the extent of climbing a sycamore tree just to get a glimpse. Don’t allow the crowd in your life to push you away from pursuing Jesus. Go to whatever extreme necessary to rise above the crowd in your life and see Jesus. He wants to go home with you just like He did Zacchaeus.

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way” (Luke 19:1-4).

Hope

When I read this book…

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon Caleb and Lauren stopped by my office to give me a gift from Grandma Ruth – her very worn and marked up Bible. I’ve watched her carry that faded pink Bible for years. She had several Bibles, many newer ones, many marked up. But this faded pink Bible is a trademark. That gift means more to me than I can express. I opened the cover and there on the very first page is written in Ruth’s handwriting, “When I read this book, I’m not alone.” Ruth was 85 years old. Her husband, Edgar died when she was 58 years old, and she never so much as dated anyone else, let alone remarried. Edgar and Ruth were married for well over 30 years, but Edgar did not accept Christ until 10 days prior to his death. Nonetheless Ruth was faithful to her Christian faith, to her church, to her family, and to her husband. Her life with Edgar was difficult, though he loved her deeply. I imagine that she felt alone much of her life. Ruth was unable to have children, and they adopted Scott and his brother, Tony from Edgar’s brother when the boys were very young. She spoke many times about the emptiness that being barren left her. I imagine she felt alone in spite of those around her. And after Edgar’s death Ruth lived alone for years until she took in her mother for several months prior to Granny Jett’s death; and the last few years Scott (Caleb’s dad) has lived with and taken care of her. She was a Sunday School teacher to “older ladies” for many years. She loved God’s Word and taught it with passion and conviction. She led the Ladies Auxiliary for years, again attending church and church functions faithfully yet alone before adopting the boys and then after the boys were grown.

When I read this book, I’m not alone. No wonder the pages are worn. No wonder the cover is frayed at all edges and the spine is broken. No wonder the pink is faded and dirty. No wonder there are notes of encouragement from sermons scribbled in the margins throughout the book. No wonder she held it so dear to her heart. Her Bible was well-read. Because when she read that book, she was not alone.

And it will do the same for you and me.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).

“The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:72).

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92).

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Hope