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True Compassion

I have worked two different jobs with a certain lady, whom I will call Linda. This last Friday I went to the local high school civil war football game. I enjoyed the game, but my team was slaughtered brutally. Last year, they won the state title. This year, they have lost at least two games. But that’s another story. 

I saw Linda at the game and we waved at each other. That was all, at least for the time.

The game ended and we were getting ready to go when Linda came very slowly down the steps of the Grand stand. We started talking at the bottom and learned that she was getting divorced after her second marriage of 21 years. I hadn’t really been engaged in conversation too deeply, but then as she looked out onto the field, talking about how cold she was getting, I noticed she was tearing up. I dismissed it as just the cold hitting her eyes, but I knew better. 

Just then, I called my wife over and we talked a few minutes and I told her my intent was to pray for her. She is a very strong believer. As I told my wife what was going on, she agreed to pray with me. Before I was half through my prayer, I began to cry and tear up myself. I could genuinely feel her hurt and pain. I told her that and she was very wet under her eyes by the end of the prayer. 

That has only happened twice where I was talking with someone and felt compassion and empathy with them.  

That was a divine appointment, set up by God Almighty. I would have avoided Linda because she loves to talk the hind end off of a horse, but because she was there, coming down the way with my daughter in her way, I visited with her. Glad I did or this would not have happened. 

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Expectation 

What is expectancy? Simply, it’s a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen. I wanted to look at some other words to help understand what it means to have expectancy. 
Webster’s thesaurus gives some excellent words. 
Promise. Eagerness. Joy. Impatience. Preoccupation. High hope. Awareness. Forefeeling. A feeling in one’s bones. 
I used to have an easy time with expectation. I used to come to church and immerse myself so deeply in worship and in what God was doing. It was just natural. 
It’s not as easy now. I have times where I have expectancy that I am going to meet with God and that He is going to meet with me. But as soon as something distracts me from my intentions, I lose focus and expectancy. 
I can be so involved in worshipping God that when I look out to make sure my kids are behaving, I get distracted with what they are doing. 
Other times, I may come full of expectancy, but the lack of expectation in some of you has hindered my own expectation. I don’t say this in a negative light, but it’s true. 
Sometimes, we come to church simply because it’s what you do on Sundays. How many of us have been there before? How many of us are there today? How many of us came to church today because there wasn’t anything else to do? The mall is closed and there aren’t any football games in today. May as well see what’s going on at church. 
There are also some of you who came here this morning that came full of expectation and faith and God came through for you. 
I want to suggest that our lack of expectation is because of a lack of faith and lack of consistent personal time with God. If we don’t spend time with God in our personal lives outside of Sunday mornings, how can we expect to connect with Him at church? 
God longs and yearns for us to connect with Him. It’s what He created us for. The Bible teaches us that we are to seek the Lord while He may be found. The Psalmist wrote that he seeks the Lord in the early morning. He said my soul follows hard after Thee. Early in the morning will I rise up and seek Thee. In another place, he said as the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after You. 
David had a feeling in his bones, an impatience to connect with God. He knew his maker on such a personal level. He was trained as a worshiper while a lowly shepherd boy. God taught him how to connect out in the countryside. 
We need to be like David. We need to be a people after God’s own heart. When we come to church and expect God to show up, He will. It’s not that He’s not here, because He’s always here. It’s more that we need to invite Him to move and work. As we minister to Him, He will then minister to us. 
When we meet as a body of believers, the purpose is for equipping us and for fellowship. It’s not a social gathering place to catch up on the latest gossip. If that’s what we go to church for, we may as well stay home and watch a soap opera. 
I know it’s not always easy to come with expectant hearts, but here’s a secret. We need to learn to quiet our minds. We need to have un-conflicted minds. If our minds are so busy, wandering around about everything else, it makes it difficult to engage and we miss out on what the Spirit wants to show us. 

What’s in Your Wallet?

Your wallet is where your money usually goes. Unless you don’t have any. Then pictures or credit cards? Receipts that remind you of money you have spent. For some, spare keys and condoms. Yes, I did just say that word. 
I see it like this. The things you value most go in your wallet or purse. Unless you’re one of those tech junkies who stores EVERYTHING on your iPhone. Almost like me. Convenient, but not necessarily smart. No. Wait!  I didn’t mean that about me!  Haha! I meant that about using our phones to store everything on them. 

If you’re like me, you’ve got a debit card number at least stored somewhere in your phone. You’ve got thousands of pictures to show at the drop of a hat. You have instant access to bank accounts, credit monitoring apps, games, emails, calendars, thousands of reminders for this and that. You have a Kindle app with hundreds of books you probably haven’t even read yet. Then you’ve got the Bible app, your favorite social media apps and your preferred GPS navigation app. I like to use Waze

But all of that stuff on your phone doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have an internet connection. No internet, no social media, no access to Google photos, no email- you get the idea. 

That’s like my wallet. It doesn’t require the internet to do its job, but what good is your wallet without something to put in it? You can have all the wallet pictures of your loved ones in it. You can have receipts of your purchases and if you think you need them, credit cards. But without hard earned money in it, your wallet is not functioning to its fullest potential. 

How does this apply to me, you are probably asking right now. 

You, reader are the wallet or smartphone. The things you fill your life with either help you or prevent you from becoming the person God created you to be. If your plate is so full of dates, jobs, places to be and people to see, with little to no time to work out your salvation with God, what’s the value in that kind of life? 

Time For a Change

In the wake of another senseless act of violence in Las Vegas, six tropical storms and seven hurricanes just this season, NFL national anthem controversies, and a myriad of other things, I want to share some thoughts with you.

It seems as though the school shooting at Columbine on April 20, 1999, was the day it all started. I remember this day well because I was in my freshman year at college. I remember it well because it was the first one I had ever heard about. It sticks out to me because it was a senseless act of hate. I remember this one because Rachel Scott’s funeral was televised on my birthday, April 24, 1999.

Jump forward two years to September 11. The day the twin towers fell. A day when America saw terrorism on its own turf. Fast forward to the last couple years. There have been even more shootings in many venues, such as a movie theater in Denver (I believe), and much closer to home at the Roseburg Community College on October 1, 2015.

Countless millions of tears have been shed these last 18 years than have ever needed to be shed here in America by not just the victims and the mourners, but also by the families of the accused. Countless numbers of people’s lives have been taken for reasons unknown to man.

Today, it is no strange thing for a fellow neighbor to plot evil against his neighbor. It is quickly becoming no strange and unusual thing to read about yet another school shooting or a bombing or heinous mass murders. And if they aren’t successful, it’s attempted. I’d ask what our once God-fearing nation is turning into, but I already know the answer to that question.

We have turned ourselves into a nation more concerned with our own rights than the rights of others. We pull out the “free speech” and “right- to- bear-arms” cards when we feel personally violated, but what’s the motivation behind our doing that? We do have those rights, but they are not the end-all, be-all to every problem that arises. President John F Kennedy said in his inaugural address something we have all grown up hearing. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

We have become a people for the most part whose voices have become silent when it comes to things that truly matter. We depend on the government and President to fix our problems. We’ve always been good as passing the buck on to someone else. America needs to change that. We teach our kids to own up to their mistakes. We teach our kids to speak up about things they don’t agree with. We teach our kids that their voices do matter, but what do we do? We sit down on our grumpy stumps and passively let our nation get out of our grasp and numbly watch the fruit of our choices. We truly do reap what we sow.

America, when will you wake up and actively do something to correct your actions? I no longer want to stand by and just watch as things get flushed down the sewer system of political correctness. Let’s call a spade a spade and call things as they are and stop covering up things with bandages while things fester beneath the surface.

Help in the Unexpected Ways

I don’t know about you, but I find myself asking God a lot to help me out of my messes. And I mean a lot! When I ask Him for help, I have this picture in my mind of what I think He should do and how it should be done. 

We all secretly just know if God would let us wind the lottery, our financial problems would end. Or if He would just tell someone to give us a brand new car with more than we could ask for, we would not have to worry about car problems. 

If God would just listen to me, everything would be okay. 

You all know the routine I’m talking about and if you don’t, what’s your secret? 

For real, I usually find that when God sends help to me for one meas or another, I don’t want that help because it’s not what I wanted. It’s not from who I wanted the help. It’s not what I wanted the help to look like. 

The truth is that God knows exactly what we need. He says that His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are higher than ours. That means that He knows just the right way of helping us out of our messes. It usually means that He will have us walk through the mess and that He will walk through the mess beside us, guiding us through. 

He could just fix the mess for us, but what profit is that to us? We don’t learn anything that way. That’s not to say He won’t do it like that, but it’s usually not His preferred style. 

Remember the story of the guy whose boat sprung a leak? He kept asking God to save him and God kept sending different forms of help. The guy ended up dying because he didn’t allow himself to be saved. He blamed God and God told him that He did send help to him. Three different ways and he ignored them. 

The Messes of Life

I will be the first one to tell you that I am most definitely not the cleanest guy on earth. But I do have certain places for certain things. I like to have certain things done a certain way and if it’s not, it will drive me nuts. 

I have five kids. Not all of them are at home all of the time. Only one of them will clean up their mess when asked. It may take a couple times of being asked, but she will clean up. The rest of them- forget it. I could ask for two and three months for something to be done and not even an effort will have been made. 

How many of you know what I’m talking about?  No?? You’re blessed then. Yes?? You’re blessed then. 

Wait a sec! I am blessed either way? Yes! Let me explain. 

I absolutely love having kids. The truth is that kids are messy and love to make messes. It’s part of life. They love to come behind you and make a mess out of what you just spent hours cleaning up. 

Proverbs says that a man is blessed if he has his quiver full of children. They are his heritage. 

If you have kids, cherish them. Be patient and just deal with the messes and teach them that it’s okay to make messes, but that they also need to clean up their own messes. They really can make for some excellent entertainment from time to time. Who needs a tv when you have kids?  

If you have kids, enjoy the experience because life is not them same when they’ve all grown and moved out. Don’t worry. My youngest just turned three a couple days ago. 

If you don’t have kids, I’m not sure if I should be sympathetic or not because some of you may have been trying for a number of years and have not yet been blessed with them. Others of you may just not want to have them for one reason or other. 

My point is this. I am preaching to the choir here. If you are a parent and have kids who haven’t learned to help keep things cleaned up, relax. Those years will be over faster than you realize and you will have wasted your energy in the wrong thing. They do need to learn to help in that aspect, but that’s not all they need to learn. 

They need to be taught most importantly to walk with God and be taught how to succeed in life. Neither of those depend on how clean the house is or isn’t. 

Thoughts

This is going to be the shortest blog yet from me.  I typically share novels, but for this, I am feeling something much different. It has to do with prayer. 
The enemy always will try to hinder your prayers because he knows they are powerful. James 5:16 tells us that the prayers of a righteous man avail much. 

What’s the lesson?  Learn how to “catch” a praying spirit, heart, and attitude.  Since prayer is not anything that can be “learned” in the sense that we learn how to read or play an instrument, it is born out of the spirit of one whose mind is fixed on God.  True, Spirit-filled prayer is simply allowing the Holy Spirit pray or speak through us. We are to always pray the will of God and not our own will.