Happy To Welcome You To The Hallelujah Chorus

I will exalt you my God, the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and exalt your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"I AM SET FOR LIFE!"

You've had them too, one of those days/weeks/months when you look back after it's past and just let out a deep sigh of relief. Details aren't necessary here because we've all been there and can immediately identify with the experience. In the moment, the heart kind of flutters and the blood rush causes a perceptible ringing in the ears and vision becomes a blur. Mistakes are one thing, we all make those too. Stupid mistakes however almost always introduce us to some very unwanted consequences which can be anything from mild embarrassment to serious injury or death.
Sometimes the completely innocent have to pay for the stupid mistakes of others. They had no control over the action or the outcome but find themselves in the middle of someone else's mess. It happens in marriages, families, churches, schools, cities, countries even friendships.
David knew all about his own stupid mistakes and the impact they had on his family and his countrymen. He confessed his sinfulness in just about every song he wrote, but he always verbalized his faith in the love and forgiveness of God. I have learned to truly appreciate that in him because I need to learn to do the same. Maybe you do too. Check this out, it is awesome.
"God, the one and only - I'll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He's solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul. An impregnable castle: I'm set for life." Psalm 62:1-2 MSG
The true power of faith is this - IT ALWAYS POINTS US FORWARD, keeps us looking ahead rather than behind. Faith gives Hope a place to exist in the human spirit. Without Faith (a positively certain vision of the future) Hope (confident expectation)cannot breathe, it cannot live. But, when the two come together and meet in beautiful communion, they produce Love, the greatest of all spiritual powers.
David repeats his previous words at Verses 5-6 and then adds these words on the end of his song, "God said this once and for all, how many times have I heard it repeated? 'Strength comes straight from God'. Love to you Lord God! You pay a fair wage for a good day's work." Psalm 61:11-12 MSG HALLELUJAH! AND HALLELUJAH!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

THE ULTIMATE DEFINITION OF GOOD

Mark 10 records two graphic scenes that depict the heart of Jesus in two very different contexts. In the first he is seen reprimanding his disciples for attempting to prevent parents from bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed by him. His holy indignation at their misguided actions is obviously aimed at teaching them a very different truth about the heart of God the Father than they had ever known.
In the second scene, a young man of considerable wealth came to Jesus to ask what we might assume to be a serious question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus' response must have been a real shocker to the young man, especially since he felt confident that his commandment-keeping lifestyle had been intact from early boyhood.
But what truly intrigues me is Jesus' immediate response to the young man's question. Jesus sort of reprimands the young man for calling him "good master/teacher" with a question of his own, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."
David wrote: "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works." Psalm 145:17 NIV That is the best definition of "good" that I have ever read.
Jesus was right about God, comparatively there is no one "good" like God the Father. However, Jesus' comparison of himself is what intrigues me.
I have never EVER heard anyone make any kind of statement about Jesus that could be characterized as anything other than good. But, he seems to pretty severely reprimand the young man for calling him "good". He was/is good, but maybe the lesson for us is that nothing and no one compares to the absolute goodness of God our Father, not even his Son.
If there is anything in me that can be called "good", it is only because of what I have learned from God my Father. Maybe Jesus felt that way too. So did David. God is the uncaused first cause, not only with reference to the creation of our universe but with all that is good in it. Praise His holy name! HALLELUJAH!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I HOPE SO

If today turns out to be THE day and your life ends in some way, can you say with absolute assurance that God will reach out and gather you to himself like any loving Father? I've asked that question in various ways to thousands of people over my years in ministry and have found that many have just never seriously considered it.
Some have briefly entertained the thought of the end of their life but it was more than they had the stomach for, so they pretty quickly dismissed it and immersed themselves in what they know deep down is a pointless existence. After awhile it's just easier to ignore it than deal with it. There certainly are plenty of distractions to keep the mind occupied.
Many Christians, mostly older saints, answer the question with a quick, "I HOPE SO", an answer that falls somewhere between bragging pride and "it's a possibility". Not wanting to offend God with a statement that might go too far, they have been taught that no one knows if they are saved or lost until the JUDGMENT DAY. Well there will be a judgment day and it obviously wont turn out well for some folks, but to live every day on that sort of edge isn't really what Jesus came to achieve for us.
I like to be around people who can say without a blink of hesitation when asked that question, "ABSOLUTELY YES!"
David wrote: "Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:23-24 NIV
I think "the proud" are those who choose to live pretty much oblivious to there even being a life after this life. To them, life is all about their sports, their family, their career, their possessions, their friends etc., with virtually no real regard for what God has had to say on the subject. They may "go to church" on Easter and Christmas and are somewhat charitable and think that buys them credibility with God.
For many years we lived across the street from an older couple who seemed to have no spiritual orientation at all. She spent most of her time going back and forth to the gambling casinos and he spent virtually every day sitting in his driveway watching every movement on the street. After about three years of working slowly to build a relationship with them, I decided it was time to broach the subject with him. He had recently been hospitalized with a mild heart attack and it seemed like the right time to approach him with the question. His reply was simply, "Oh, me and God have an understanding." When I pressed him to expand on that a little, he became agitated by my nosiness, so I left it alone. As his condition deteriorated over the next two years I tried again with a little different approach. Same result. Of course, he eventually died and I was sad that since this couple had no church affiliation, they just had a simple graveside service. To this day I'm not sure either of them had any belief in God at all.
Hope is the purest expression of faith. Neither can exist without the other because hope is an extension of faith, real, genuine, soul deep faith. Without hope, faith has nowhere to go, so it goes nowhere. It gets stalled in a sort of 'no man's land' and eventually shrivels up like old fruit left to rot on the ground.
Hope in the Lord. Today. Don't be afraid or hesitant. Be strong and of great courage to say "YES" when someone asks about your hope. Let it flow around you, in you and through you. It's a good thing. HALLELUJAH

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE SOUND OF GOD SINGING

This year has been a new spiritual adventure for me as I have wandered around in the Psalms of David. I don't actually recall any time in my life that I have not had faith in God, but as I have matured physically and spiritually, I have come to know God in a much different way than in my earlier years. David had that same experience and came to know Yahweh in a more personal way.
At some point in his 40 year reign as Israel's king, David wrote these words: "Let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found, surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are a hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:6-7 NIV
Maybe about 420 years (give or take) after David's reign, the OT prophet Zephaniah may have had David's words in mind when he wrote his own prophecy about God. The prophet had most likely sung David's songs often during his life so it may be safe to assume he recalled David's song when he wrote, "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
In all my years no one ever taught me anything like that about God. Even after I had discovered Zephaniah's words a few years ago, I still struggled with the idea that God would actually "sing" over me. I realize the Holy Spirit may have used this word as a metaphor for God's care over those who love and serve him. But my heart wants to believe more.
As a father too, some of my most joyful experiences have been connected with my three children and their families. In addition to singing such songs as "Happy Birthday" and all kinds of children's songs, I too have rejoiced to sing with them in worship and sing over them in prayer and thanksgiving. I feel certain that one of the memories my family will share at my funeral some day will relate to the songs I have sung over them and with them.
Here is the bottom line - I HAVE HEARD GOD SING! It isn't an audible sound in my ears, but a powerful stirring of emotion in my spirit. Over the years I have asked many servants of God if they have heard God sing and without exception, they all have affirmed that they have. Even though they may not have realized what it was at the moment, they came to hear God's singing in their spirits too.
If you have never heard God sing over you, maybe you just need to check your heart and determine if you have a listening spirit. He wants you to hear him singing! HALLELUJAH!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

THE PREACHER'S NEW LAWNMOWER

I like a good preacher story. Here is one I heard recently that made me laugh all day. A preacher was riding his bike and came upon a young boy sitting beside the road with a lawnmower. "Whatcha' doin' son?" he asked. "Well sir, I'm hopin' to make enough money to buy me a bicycle." Always eager to help out a fellow traveler the preacher said, "Just so happens I need a lawnmower, how about we trade?" "Well" said the boy,"let me try out that bicycle." So he hopped on and rode the bike down the road a short distance. "Okay", he said, "its a deal." The preacher said, "Let me try out that lawnmower." So he pulled and pulled and pulled, but the lawnmower wouldn't start. The preacher looked up at the boy and said, "Son this lawnmower wont start." "Well sir" the boy replied, "you gotta do some cussin'." "Do some cussin?, the preacher said. "Son I'm a preacher and I haven't cussed in so long I have forgotten how." The boy looked at him and said, "You just keep pullin' on that rope and it'll come back to you."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

WHO LIGHTS MY LAMP?

Throughout the Bible "darkness" is used as a metaphor for being in a very bad place. It usually refers to ignorance (lack of knowledge) or a heart that refuses to recognize the obvious, but it sometimes even refers to eternal punishment. On the other hand "light" is used to depict God's revelation of Himself and His word and those of the human family who have heard Him and live their lives in that divine illumination.
Within this context, David wrote: "It is you who lights my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God--his way is perfect, the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." Psalm 18:28-30 ESV
We seem to have an instinctive fear of darkness, at least I know I do. When I first moved back to the country in Kentucky from Dallas, one of the hardest adjustments I had to make was living in darkness again. After living virtually all of my adult life in cities, where light is everywhere, I had to get accustomed to not having street lights and abundant ambient light. Although I no longer jump three feet at every little sound in the darkness around our house, my first action when entering a dark space is to reach for a light switch.
Ignorance of God and his great love is the Biblical definition of darkness. He wants us to live in his light, without fear, without blindness, without frantically groping around trying to find the light switch. But the darkness hides what we do not want to see or have others see in us. None of it is hidden however from God and probably not from those who know us best. There is a very good reason the Bible refers to Satan as the "prince of darkness", for that is where he reigns.
People who are ignorant, who don't know or refuse to know, they are the ones who truly are "powerless". It is true that "knowledge is power" because knowledge gives us the light we need to function in a consistent positive way. The "light" we receive from God, the revelation he has given us in his word and the blessing of his Holy Spirit, teaches us what to look for and what to approve in our own lives. In my experience, one of the best things a new disciple of Jesus can do for their faith is commit the entirety of ROMANS 8 to memory. There is more than enough "light" there to crush whatever fear of "darkness" might linger.
I encourage my friends who read this blog to stand with David and say, "The Lord my God lightens my darkness." As we teach our children to sing the song, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. I will not hide it under a basket and I will not allow Satan to snuff it out, I'M GONNA LET IT SHINE!" HALLELUJAH! SHINE ON!