A Minute With Pastor
"If we do not engage our minds and hearts for Christ, we will experience long-term implications in our decision making, daily choices, and life patterns." Pastor Jim
January 3, 2016
Scary movies, dark hallways, certain heights, distressing noises, eerie sounds, sudden movements, nightmares, icy roads, a lost child, unfamiliar situations, tight spots, final exams, asking a girl for a date, public speaking, flight turbulence, doctor’s visits, spiders and snakes. There are an endless number of things that can create the element of fear in us and unfortunately, not one of us is immune!
Even a new year stirs up inward struggles. Will this finally be the year that the business moves forward? That I finally graduate? That I get married? That we move mother into our home? That terrorism directly impacts me? That my son gets his life together? That my health changes – for the worse?
Indeed, there is much to be concerned about in this broken, fallen world in which we live. Our bodies do fall apart; this world isn’t becoming a better place; conflict will only increase; wars will continue to occur, and persecution persists. The bad news is … bad!
Thankfully, the good news is great! Jesus Christ came to set the captives free. Though imprisoned in sin, we have by grace been set free. Christian, fear not! The God of the universe has you safely in His hand. You are absolutely indestructible until He is finished His purpose in you. Trust in Him as you live boldly for Him. It’s a new year! Rejoice!
December 20, 2015
It’s that most wonderful time of the year when families crowd into the car or couples grab each other’s hand and off they go to experience the splendor of Christmas lights. Whether at the local zoo, in the nearby neighborhood, or just around the town, “taking in” the lights is an enjoyable moment filled with beauty and brilliance which make for many happy memories.
Yet consider what Christmas would look like without lights! What, a tree without luminary strings hanging on it? That’s crazy. What, a house decorated without even one lighted ornament? That’s bland. What, “Main Street” without one single electric bulb? That’s ridiculous.
Thankfully that doesn’t happen! But it really isn’t too far-fetched if you pause for a moment. This Christmas, many people will truly miss the “reason for the season.” To most, it’s about gift giving and getting, parties and festivities, traveling and socializing. But without Christ, there is no Christmas.
The Bible informs us that “the Light has come into this world” (John 3:19a). Yet if we miss Jesus, we miss the Light and without the Light, Christmas is ultimately dark. In fact, the Bible goes on to say this: “and men loved darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19b). Sadly, if you don’t have Jesus this Christmas, you’re left in the dark. Christian, it’s time to shine. Go light your world with the good news that Jesus has come!
November 29, 2015
Good morning, Mr. Phelps. This is your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it. As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in ten seconds. Good luck, Jim. Then smoke rises from the tape and the instructions are destroyed.
This is the opening for the television (and now movie) series, “Mission Impossible.” In some ways, it parallels the believer’s mission from God. However, unlike that tape, God’s Word will not be destroyed. And unlike man’s mission, God’s mission does not involve luck but sovereignty and providence. And unlike the show, God’s mission is always possible, for with Him all things are possible.
The closing verses of the Book of Malachi remind the people of God about their mission for God. It’s not mystical or mysterious, but it’s miraculously revealed in the Bible. It’s incredibly ironic when you consider that these are the final words of God before He goes silent during the next four hundred years. Yet when we next hear from God, it isn’t just from His spoken word. Indeed, now it comes through the very living Word.
Good morning, believer. This is your mission that you are to accept. I will always be with you, in persecution or distress. My Word will never fail you. Grace and peace. Love, God.
November 22, 2015
Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Light traffic as you’re driving to work. Sunny weather for the entire week of vacation. An unexpected bonus check at the end of the year. A nice compliment from the neighbor about your yard. A good report from the doctor after your latest exam. Lower gasoline prices at the pump. The smell of coffee brewing.
Life is filled with many blessings that capture our senses, seize our emotions, and warm our hearts. It’s encouraging and inspiring as favors from above bombard us in the things and through the people around us. Yes, it’s good to be alive!
But how many favors from God each day do we actually miss? How many blessings each day do we take for granted? How many bestowments from on high do we ignore by the end of the day? Sadly, too many!
We won’t truly grasp many of God’s divine intercessions in our lives that spare us from added injury, attack, heartache, misery, discomfort and duress. But perhaps we would do well to take a more penetrating look at our lives each day and thank God for His overwhelming grace as joy and delight fill our plates.
Move away from your protective cocoon of self as you look around and look up. Pause at intervals each day to give Him thanks! It shouldn’t take a national holiday to remind us.
November 15, 2015
If you want to see how much you weigh, step on a scale (or not)! If you wish to check your blood pressure, slip the cuff on your arm and let the machine apply the appropriate pressure. If you desire to make sure you aren’t breaking the law, you can glance at the speedometer. If you want to know how well you are doing in school, you can check out your grades – on line. It’s usually pretty objective.
But the same isn’t so initially clear when it comes to determining the eternal destiny of that friend or neighbor or family member. Unlike man’s devices, there isn’t an electronic instrument that can be used to identify one’s eternal position. But there are indicators from the Bible that help ascertain that condition and provide us with some clearer answers to this question.
Some of these signs include our adherence to God’s Word, our view of sin, our acceptance of our “goodness” before God, our interest with other believers, and our concept of self. In fact, the very last book of the Old Testament surfaces several of these as the Lord takes note of the state of His people in Malachi.
But is the real challenge that the unbeliever does not act much differently from the believer at times OR that the believer does not act much differently from the unbeliever? Beloved, are there significant evidences that separate you apart from the unbelieving community around you? There ought to be!
November 1, 2015
There are a myriad of ways we can worship God, but one in particular tends to separate itself apart from the others. It’s our giving, which ultimately aims at our wallets and purses.
Is that all the church ever talks about? They are only interested in me when I wave money their way! Didn’t I give last month? Why am I made to feel guilty about my offering? Isn’t giving a secret matter between God and me?
Indeed, giving gets a bum rap most of the time because it is often misrepresented, misinterpreted and misapplied! But at the end of the day, the offerings we bring are a pretty accurate indication of our heart. Matthew 6:21 confirms this:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
What you treasure is the outworking of your desires. What you do when no one is watching is the real you. And what you place in the offering box or plate is likely the real you too. You cannot generally fake giving. Certainly the fanfare we display and the attention we cause in so doing may cast a questionable light on it. Nevertheless, where we put our money indicates what we value. So yes, our offerings can confirm the state of our heart.
Our giving is often the last thing we bring when it comes to the local church and yet it is the first thing we yank when we are dissatisfied. Thankfully God doesn’t do the same with us!
October 25, 2015
Since life is filled with quandaries, questions abound and comments flourish. It doesn’t seem fair that such a godly man had children that chose not to follow the Lord. How is it right that the rain from heaven equally falls on the fields of both the believers and the unbelievers? To have lived such a brief life; it’s a shame that she never even made it to her teen years.
At the same time, we tend to insert ourselves into the captain’s seat as we make our armchair quarterback observations. If I were president, I would immediately install a flat tax. If I had obedient children like his, I would be a far better parent than him. If I were the boss, I would give much more freedom to my employees instead of always looking over their shoulder. And even this: If I were God, I would…
Since we don’t have God’s vantage point, we often don’t see the end, let alone the beginning. And since we live in a broken world as broken people, our methods and madness are exactly what isn’t needed. Incredibly, into an unfair world stepped the Savior as a baby who would unjustly be nailed to a cross as an innocent man. Thankfully, one day He will return to make straight what’s crooked as He sets up His kingdom.
Ultimate justice is coming. Wait for it. And as you do, live trust-worthy in a crooked world. God will straighten it all out one day.
October 18, 2015
“I do.” Two simple words that are spoken in order to somehow convey a lifetime of commitment to the sacred bond of matrimony soon to be entered into. The very fact that only two words are required in order to agree to such an incredibly challenging assignment is quite the understatement.
If only those two words could magically provide the necessary stamina one needs to go the distance in marriage. If only those two words could mystically dissolve conflict and enhance harmony. If only those two words could marvelously evaporate every misunderstanding and dismiss every disagreement. If only those two words!
Unfortunately, words can be empty and idle and insincere. Indeed, we can embellish our words to make grandiose claims which we may not intend to keep. We can disguise our words to add gravity to our unconditional pledges which we break when the going gets tough. Yes, our words alone may fail.
Thankfully, believers have the Word Himself living in them and His Word is sure and unfailing. As such, we can voice words, even just two words, to communicate commitment to our spouses both at the altar and later in our struggles. Since we have a Savior whose “I will” is certain, our words that source in Him can likewise have certainty. “I do” doesn’t have to be for a season. In Him, it can be for a lifetime.
October 11, 2015
We’re constantly measuring things. My child grew two inches this summer. She lost 23 pounds on this diet in six weeks. I got a 12% rate of return on that investment last year. Last month we received four inches of rain. He has twenty-five grandchildren and forty-five great-grandchildren. That car can reach speeds of 60 mph in six seconds. I saved $15.00 using coupons at that store. She just read six chapters of the Bible!
On and on it goes as we attach quantifiable numbers and figures to the things of life in order to give meaning and worth. Since what we see is reality, we link our accomplishments and successes and yes, evaluations, to tangible, concrete statistics. It’s what we do and how we live.
But is it possible that God sees it altogether differently? Is it possible that God evaluates and judges with another scale? Is it possible that God measures life with a different barometer? If we let the Bible speak for itself, we must agree this is true. Indeed, if God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), then what He sees versus what we see is vastly different. We see rather dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12), He sees clearly. While others hide things from us, everything is open to Him (Hebrews 4:13).
When we stand before God, “How much” and “How many” might matter to a degree. But “How well” will make all the difference!
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