“Direction not Intention”
Last year our family went to Mt Rushmore. Before going on this trip I went on MapQuest to plot the route we were going to take. I then knew which way to go and what highways to take in order to get there. We looked at where to stop to break up the trip and many other factors. We knew where we wanted to go and so it was important to get the direction in order to arrive there. We didn’t get in a car and intend to get there but took whatever road we felt like. No one does that when they are going to specific direction.
However, I do think this is the way many people live. They have all the best intention but don’t set on a course to end up there. They think their good intentions are enough. Ask our High School students and they want certain things in life. They want to get married. They want to find a career to pursue. They want many things and have the best of intentions, but the direction they are going in would say something else. Intention is not enough. Direction is what is necessary.
When King Solomon wrote to his son he told him: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths.” This is a verse about direction not intention. Look to God and let him give you Direction in your life.
Let me tell you the story of someone from my High School graduating class. There were many things they wanted to pursue and happen in their life. However, it was all about intention. They wanted a godly marriage but married someone who did not follow God. All the intention in the world can’t make up for that. And years later you can see the path they chose is much different from what they intended. Because it is not about intention but direction.
So where do you want to be? Forget good intentions rather focus on direction. What is the next step you need to take to get you where you want to be?
In the Gospel of John you will keep coming across this phrase “I Am…” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the Bread of Life.” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” These phrases seem to mimic the phrase Moses was told at the burning bush. When Moses ask God who should I say sent me, God told him “I Am”. Jesus uses this phrase over and over again reminding them He was more than just a man, He was God.
But perhaps one of the most stunning “I Am’s” comes in John 11. Jesus friend Lazarus is terminally ill and dies. Jesus goes there to demonstrate something very powerful. He tells Martha “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. He then proceeds to command Lazarus to come out of the tomb 4 days after being laid to rest.
It is this “I Am” which is so intriguing. Jesus makes an incredible claim – everlasting life is found in Him and Him alone. Without Jesus, there is no life, and no resurrection. Without Christ there is no hope when this life ends. And that is why Jesus came. He came to offer life. To a perfect world He created and we brought sin and death into, He comes and offers life.
And this is where Scriptures differ from many of the teachings out there today. Places where Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life are not taught. Places where you do good, act nice, and keep all the rules in order to have Resurrection and life. Places where enough praying and kneeling are enough to give life. And these ways and places are false.
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Trust in Him. He is the source of life and the source of Hope.
Let’s trust Him with our Lives.
“Your Greatest Calling”
Sometimes in life we need to be reminded about what is most important. Those lessons can sometimes come at the most unexpected times. Over the last week the news stories seem to reinforcing an important truth. Parents – our greatest calling is to our kids. Your job is important. Your service is important. But no one can replace you as the parent of your kids.
Last week there was a news story of a parent who lost track of their child and they wandered off and drowned in a lake. Tragic. Do you think whatever took that mom’s attention was more important. NO. It might have seemed so at the moment. I can’t imagine the horror and regret she is going through right now. Things can seem important when they are really not. Think about it. We are trained when our phone dings to pull it out our pocket and give it our attention. We might be driving, in church, or somewhere else and it gets our attention. This should not be. It might seem important but it is really not.
Your greatest calling is to your children. You are the one that gets to shape the course and future of their life. You get the time to invest in their values. Yes, there are times they drive us crazy, but this doesn’t mean we give up. This is our calling. God has blessed us with children and we need to give them our best. They need our best and if we want them to follow Jesus we will give them our best.
So are your kids getting your attention or do other things seem more important? Let’s remember our calling as parents and invest in their lives.
“Prayers for Oklahoma”
As I watched the first news reports late yesterday afternoon things appeared to be bad. As I turned it on last night I realized just how bad things really are. The Community of Moore Oklahoma needs our prayers. Many have homes which are destroyed. Some are still looking for family members. Several will bury their children who died when their school was destroyed by the Tornado.
You watch the news footage and it seems unbelievable a storm could destroy so much. And you realize you can rebuild homes, but what do you do to rebuild a life? Especially when it is your child killed. How do you move forward?
The biggest mistake people make in times of tragedy is to assume God wasn’t there. Because had God been attentive and watching, He would have stopped the storm and all would be well. But that didn’t happen and so God’s character will be questioned and many will believe the whispers of the enemy that God does not care.
But this does not do the character of God justice. God is good. The world is broken because of sin – our sin. We broke God’s perfect world and made it one in which tragedies happen. God is good. God is faithful. God was not absent but was there and present in the midst of the storm. The storm does not mean God was absent or asleep. The storm reminds us of the nature of our world and God works in the midst of storm in the midst of a broken world which was our doing.
The other question we ask during this time is what can I do? We want to do something. We feel helpless watching news broadcasts. So let me offer a few suggestions. First we must all remember the power of prayer. We do have a great option in prayer. Pray for those who will be dealing with the tragedy for months to come. Those who will bury loved ones, especially the parents burying their children. Pray for the responders pulling bodies out of the massive destruction. Pray for the local churches who have a chance to show the love of Christ in these difficult days. Also, look for ways to give. Samaritans Purse is the organization we use every year at Christmas when we participate in Operation Christmas Child. You can go to their website and find ways to help. They are on the ground working and serving. There are other organizations like the Red Cross on the ground working and helping.
May God work in a powerful way through the storm and may people turn to God instead of running away from Him.
This is one of the most exciting times in your life. The chapter known as “High School” has ended. But as one chapter ends a new one begins. However, we should not rush through without celebrating this chapter. Take time to remember the great friendships which you found. Take time and celebrate the accomplishment achieved. Take time and be thankful for this season of life God has given to you.
Many will tell you to start solidifying what you are going to do. But it is always a mistake to ask what am I going to do without first asking who am I going to be. So who are you going to be? Are you going to be the person who wants to be liked? And in wanting to be liked you will compromise any and all values in order to get it. Are you going to be the person who wants to be popular? You will do whatever it can to win people over and again in the process compromise any values you have learned along the way. Or perhaps you would pursue a life of honoring God.
Many your age will not choose this path. Mostly because they are afraid to live a life of pursuing and following God might not give them what they want. We are trained in our culture to be successful. Success looks like a 4,000 square foot house, a sports car, a high paying job, and one day a family. All these things become possessions which we desire and get jealous at others who accomplish it first. So you will pursue these things all the while forgetting the simple command of Jesus which you started off with “Follow Me”. And one day if you continue down the American Dream with Jesus on the side you will wake up in your big house and feel empty. Empty because you ignored the whispers of God for the glory of this world.
So what are you going to do? I want to remind you that when you were a sinner Christ died for you. I want you to know above everything else the wisest decision you can make is to live a life which brings God glory. This is a life which full of peace and empty of regrets. I want you to learn to trust God. He has great plans for you.
Today begins the new chapter in your life. High School is done. A new adventure with God awaits. Don’t miss it!!
Who are you Following?
In doing some look ahead planning for the fall I have been doing some reading concerning the statement of Jesus “Follow Me”. It seems like a simple statement but I am not sure how many of us are actually doing it. And this really should not be a hard concept to understand because we all have people in our life we want to be like and want to follow.
Remember back to when you were a kid who did you want to be like? Was it an older brother or sister? Perhaps your parents? Sometimes it is a friend. We all have people we want to be like. Because we want to be like them we try to walk the way they walk and talk the way they talk. We want to do and say the same things they do. What they consider right – we consider right and do it. What they avoid – we avoid. And on and on it goes. It fact when I was a kid a shoe company pushed this to an extreme. If you buy the right shoes you can be like this person.
But here is the big question today: Do we follow Jesus? I am not talking about whether you come to church or have prayed a prayer in your life so you can get your “Get out of hell” card. Rather you are actually trying to be like Jesus and following Him. So you will walk the way He walks and talk the way He talks. Jesus command in the Gospels is really rather simple. He didn’t ask us to pray a prayer and go to church and then do whatever we want. What He did say was “Follow Me”.
So do you? Do you follow Him? We are all following someone. But if you call yourself a Christian, then you must follow Christ.
So take a few moments and think about this simple truth and ask yourself – really – Who am I following?
“The Cost of Lies”
Lying seems to be a given in our culture especially when every so often we will get a big scandal in the government and people are lying. Now I am not just picking on the current President. When I was a kid it was the Iran/Contra hearings. Remember those? Huge inquiry in order to find out the truth of what happened. Think about this for a moment. When someone in government decides to lie and cover things up and then the truth starts creeping out, think about the cost. Congress has hearing and call witnesses. Literally millions are spent on finding out the truth.
Now this might be extreme but we need to remember there is a cost when it comes to lying. Trust gets broken. People get hurt. Families break apart. There is a great cost with a lie. And isn’t it true parents we try to make sure our kids understand this. We are much easier on our kids when we don’t have to investigate to figure out what happened. When they come clean in the beginning we are easier on them. But if they lie we just get angry and upset. And ultimately we want to teach them the cost of a lie.
We see this in sports as well. I am a big baseball fan and have been my entire life. The big scandal in baseball has been the steroid use. Some of the players have spent years and lots of money covering things up and it is costing them dearly. When one of guys I enjoy watching Andy Pettite was accused of steroid use he took a different approach. He came clean. He called a news conference and told the truth. Others have lied and been a part of a huge cover up. Andy came forward and confessed. And most of you maybe have never heard of him linked with steroids. Why? He came clean and now he is actually able to leave the past behind him because he came clean.
We must remember there is a cost when we lie. Sometimes it may seem unfair how big that cost is, but the reality is lies cost. Jesus knew this and told us “the truth shall set you free”. So what will you do? Will you choose to be trustworthy and tell the truth or somehow believe that lies are the best choice. In the end the cost is too great. You may get a short term payoff, but long term you are going to be deep in a truth debt and it will cause you great damage.
Lies cost too much, so tell the truth.
Any relationship not built on trust will falter.
We all understand that simple truth and have seen it at work in our lives. When you see a successful marriage, you are looking at a relationship built on trust. That trust was slowly gained and then guarded and protected. What we see is the end results of years of work at building trust and guarding that trust.
The same is true with our relationship with Christ. When this relationship is not built on trust it will falter. You will find yourself asking to be saved but not trusting Christ with your choices and decisions.
I was recently listening to a story from a lady who struggled with trusting Christ. When she was a girl her uncle molested her. He was a leader in her church. And she found herself asking Jesus to save her but not trusting Him. After all what kind of a God would allow a girl to be molested. And what type of person who is a leader in a church and claims to follow Jesus would do this kind of a thing. So what was she to do? She took a journey through Scripture to learn who God really is. What is His Character? Why do bad things happen? And what she discovered was not a shady character, but a loving Father. And now she walks with God and trusts God completely with her life.
So what about you? Do you trust Christ? Or is your story one of mistrusting Him because of the things that have happened in your life.
God can be completely trusted. He cares for you and as your best interest at heart.
When is the last time someone did something totally unexpected for you. And I mean this in a good way. For example your kids came home and picked up their room without you asking them. Someone at work went above and beyond what they were supposed to do and it helped you out in a big way. Those types of unexpected things. Maybe a better question would be, when do you do something unexpected for someone else?
We all have expectations. When someone exceeds those expectations it makes an impact. We remember those moments when someone went above and beyond. But rarely do we remember the moments when expectations were just met. Exceeding expectations can do great things for relationships.
Imagine what it would be like if your spouse did something tonight which was above and beyond what you expected. I believe it would encourage that relationship in a very strong way.
But let’s be honest, most of the time we just want to get by. We want to do the bare minimum and squeak by with barely meeting expectations. And this attitude is what is so damaging in relationships, especially when they see you exceeding expectations for something or someone else.
So today, let me challenge you to rise above expectations. Exceed them in some way with someone. I would recommend you do this for your spouse first. Guys this weekend is a good opportunity. It is Mother’s Day and perhaps your wife is thinking it will be the same old thing you have always done. What is something you can do to exceed her expectations. Perhaps doing some housework? Maybe making her breakfast in bed on Sunday morning or working hard to get the kids up and going on Sunday so you aren’t rushing out the door for church.
Let’s look for opportunities to exceed expectations and make an impact. You’ll be glad you did.
“Guilty or Not Guilty”
The Gospel is easy to understand when we simplify it to the question of whether or not we are guilty and how does the guilty get made not guilty.
Our guilt should be easy to understand. Scripture is very clear “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. We are all guilty. We all have broken God’s law. We have lied, cheated, stolen, loved other things more than God. We have All sinned. So this means we are all guilty. So since we are guilty how do we get declared NOT guilty?
Now is where the big divide comes with many religions and Christianity. Many take the path of good works while Christianity takes the path of Christ. Let me explain. If you follow Islam you are to follow the 7 pillars of Islam, pray so many times a day facing Mecca, and you can be made not guilty. And this is the way it is for many religions. Do good. Help others. Be kind to your fellow man. You good can outweigh your bad and you can be right with God and declared Not Guilty. But we can’t outweigh our bad with good because we are still guilty.
Think of it this way when is the last time you saw someone declared not guilty because they had done good things. Even in our system when we let people out on “good behavior” they still are guilty of the crime. The only way they are NOT guilty is to be Pardoned and only the President or the Governor can do that.
So we go along the way trying in our own power to do something we cannot. “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. Jesus came and died in our place so we could be declared NOT guilty by trusting in Him.
This is simple. The Good News about Salvation is simple, but for many it eludes them because they are trying to earn what they can never earn. They are trying to be NOT guilty when the verdict is in and only Jesus can stand in their place and give them a pardon.
So who are you trusting to be declared NOT guilty? Are you depending on your good to outweigh your bad or are you trusting Jesus?
There is only 1 way to be declared NOT Guilty – JESUS.
Jesus Follower, Husband, Father, and Pastor and trying to keep those in the right order....