I know how stressful weddings can be. Everyone wants everything perfect, and there are so many working parts. The responsibility to organize all that can be intense, and it falls on the pastor to keep that straight.
I remember when Pastor Adam officiated at his first wedding. I coached him and answered his questions. He was ready to go. But when the wedding was about to begin, he couldn’t find his wedding book. In all the checking and rechecking, he had laid it down somewhere and couldn’t find it. He was in a panic because the wedding was minutes away. On the inside I was smiling, because I’ve been there and done that. But on the outside, I wanted to fix it for him, but couldn’t, since he was using a different book that I use. All I could do was join the search party.
After sweating bullets he finally found it and the wedding proceeded without a hitch.
Ever been under that kind of pressure in your life? Jesus was put there repeatedly by needy people all around Him. How did Jesus deal with that stress? He stayed focused on the main thing: seeing the Kingdom expand. He remained focused even in the stress. As long as he helped others improve or succeed, He was always a winner. So, get back out there and help someone else improve or succeed; that’s making disciples who make disciples.
Anita and I were playing pool last evening. She won the first game and I won the second. Then, we had our play-off. The tension was great and the competitive spirit kicked in. We threw challenging words out there and made it a lot of fun.
Ten minutes after that game I sat down at the computer and can’t even remember who won that big play-off. What was such a big deal at the time completely escaped my memory. And then it hit me: it really didn’t matter.
How much of what we go through in life really doesn’t matter in the end? We fret and stew and pay big bucks, all for naught in the end. Maybe we should just enjoy life more and focus on what really matters: Jesus Christ and His Kingdom’s expansion.
Last Sunday afternoon Anita and I were outside cleaning her bicycle. We both noticed with great interest a wasp-type insect dragging a huge spider across the concrete pad behind our garage. The wasp would let go, check out a 12″-16″ area in front, and then go back and drag his victim backwards for that distance, then go ahead and check out his route again, and then come back for the haul. The spider was freshly killed, because his legs were very limp as his body bounced along the rough surface.
The wasp checked his route carefully before he backed up with his cache. Its my prayer that more people would check their route carefully before they proceed. It would save a lot of bankruptcies, divorces, and heartache. Think before you make decisions today.
The four gospels are the same story, but told from different perspectives. Matthew wrote about Jesus as the King of the Jews, so there are many Old Testament connections. But Mark wrote the story for the Greeks, so we see many shades of Grecian culture in there. Luke, who was a physician by trade, wrote the story from the perspective of His humanity, so we can see the personal side of Jesus. These three are called the Synoptic Gospels, because they all tell the same story. But John, who wrote his gospel long after the rest, was writing to a new generation of believers, which included many Gentiles. So he tells the story from the perspective of Jesus’ deity, that He was indeed God, come in the flesh. Four different angles, or faces, of the gospel story.
The Prophet Ezekiel had a vision of God appearing in a whirlwind: “Also out of the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings” (Ezekiel 1:5-6). This vision corresponds with Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6 and John’s vision in Revelation 4.
God wanted the whole world to know about His Son, Jesus Christ, that’s why those He chooses are so diverse in this world. God’s grace is multi-faceted.
Squire Boone was Daniel Boone’s brother. They explored the Mountains of Kentucky and fought Indians together. On one trip to what is today southern Indiana, Squire and Daniel discovered a cave behind a waterfall. Years later, Squire was being chased by Indians and hid himself in that cave. As the Indians searched diligently for him all around, he remained quiet in the cave and prayed. It was there that he had an experience with God that changed his life.
When Indiana became open for settlement he moved his family to southern Indiana to be near the place where God saved him from the Indians. In his will, his final request was to be buried in that cave where he met his God. In his last days he made his own coffin and his sons placed it in the cave. That was all legend for decades.
In the 1970s the cave was discovered and historians attempted to excavate the cave to find markings Squire was said to have left there while hiding from the Indians. Instead, they found Squire Boone’s skeletal remains. The cave is today known as Squire Boone Caverns.
Where did you meet Jesus?
Friday and Saturday 31 teens from our church attended the ‘Encounter God’ conference at Soul’s Harbor Assembly of God in Auburn. It was a great experience for them and the adult chaperones. After they returned Saturday afternoon they attended the church service, where they sat as a group in their green ‘New Hope’ T-shirts.
After my message, I opened the altar to people who felt they might be under demonic oppression. About a dozen came forward. To my disappointment, none of the teens responded. I figured, at that age, there should be someone who is having some difficulty. But when I asked for prayer support behind these dozen at the altar, the entire youth group, 31 strong, immediately walked to the front and began laying hands on people. It was awesome.
And the Lord taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t judge. These young people had just had a powerful encounter with God at the ‘Encounter God’ conference and had already dealt with that. Now they were ready to serve others. Praise God for His mercy on the next generation of church leaders.
I lost a maple tree to blight last year and had to cut it down, which left an ugly stump in my backyard. Someone made the suggestion that I bore several holes in it, fill them with kerosene and let it soak. Do this four or five times and it will burn the stump completely out down through the roots. So I gave it a shot and it didn’t work. The kerosene burned hotly, but barely touched the wood before it burned out. I went through several gallons of kerosene before I realized this just doesn’t work.
The next time I soaked it down with kerosene and set it ablaze, I set several pieces of really old and dried firewood on top of the burning stump. That really ate away at the stump. I had to do that several times, but adding the extra fuel to prolong the fire is making all the difference.
That’s probably a good lesson for our own spiritual fire that keeps burning out. We need to add some extra fuel to the fire. Fuel is spending time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in meditation. A book I’m reading right now that is fuel to my spiritual fire is Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. What are you adding to your spiritual fire today?