Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just Stuff...

Work work work...and for what? Just to get stuff? We spend many hours working each year to earn a paycheck. Some may have funds given to them by family or draw a check, but no matter if you have a job or acquire means some other way, the question still remains, what are you going to do with your money? Well of course, you're going to buy stuff! Stuff to go on the wall, stuff to cook, stuff to put in your car, stuff to make you smell good, stuff to wear when you go out, stuff to play, stuff to sit on your shelf. Some buy stuff with the intention to give it away to other, but only keep it for themselves, and you know what happens? It gets piled in your spare bedroom. Sometimes I wonder if some people suffer from being a hoarder but dont realize it? My wife tells me I have that problem all the time due to my reasoning to keep EVERYTHING and throw away only things that smell bad or could be deemed expired.
I was actually at my Aunt Helen and Uncle Bills house just last week, both of whom have passed away well into thier 80's. I remember going to thier house as a kid and loving every minute of it. Aunt Helen always had something good to eat and would slip me candy before, during and after dinner. Like most of my family, Uncle Bill and Aunt Helen had accumulated alot of knick knacks over the years. They used to own a little neighborhood store and still had old clocks, thermometers and wat knots all over the garage. In the kitchen, Aunt Helen kept wooden spoons and wrought iron utensils hanging on the wall along with other bowls, mixers, etc on the counter. The real treasure trove was in the dining room where she kept a buffet table, shelf and curio cabinent covered and jam packed with, candy dishes, old news papers, books, games, clippings, pictures, gadgets and other odds and ends that I was intrigued with. One of my favorite things was an electronic bird that was her "pet" as she called it. Every now and then she would reach into that cabinent in the dining room and pull out this little bird in a box and tell it to sing for me and oh how much fun I had with that little guy. She also had one shelf dedicated to souviners that thier family had gotten on different vacations. A little calendar from Florida that flipped over each day as the date changed, little ash trays from little towns they had visited, oh and of course salt and pepper shakers from our very own dog patch trading post here in London.
Being back in the house last week brought so many memories to mind. As we walked through the house looking at different things, even noticing the picture that hangs on the wall behind the couch where it always had, an oil painting of Uncle Bill and Aunt Helen, one thing kept coming to mind. When you leave this place called earth, everything you leave behind stays behind. You can keep everything and anything. Put back all the canned veggies, paper bags, newspapers, dishes and tools, but one day when God calls you home, in the end, its just stuff. That ash tray that you bought in Montana, is now just stuff to be packed. That can opener that didnt work right but you hated to throw it away so you stored it in the attic, is now just stuff for somebody to dispose of. The clothing that you cant wait to wear out to dinner, but only wear it once, now becomes stuff that somebody else will give away. The bedroom suit that you maxed out your credit card to purchase, now becomes stuff that somebody will buy at a discounted price. From shoes, to cars. from golf clubs to jewlery. From old cool whip bowls to fine china, when the final buzzer sounds in life its all just stuff.
So keep in mind that when you spend your hard earned paycheck on something that makes you look as cool as somebody else, or you make that large purchase that puts you into debt when you could have gotten by with something much less expensive, ask God to give you wisdom on how to spend your money, because there could be a better way. But not only should we consider the Lord in our spending, but in our giving! The next time you buy a new shirt, give one of your old ones away. When you purchase a new sofa, find a new couple just married in your church or neighborhood and bless them with new furniture. Big, small, pricey, or cheap...when you leave this life, in the end what you leave behind, well its all just stuff!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Campus, new challenges!

Well here we are, over 15 weeks at the new Hawk Creek campus and God is still amazing us weekly! Not just on Sunday but throughout the week. It seems that everywhere we look there are people hurting and in need of love, forgiveness and Gods grace. In fact, those same people have been our main reason for building anything at all. As we journeyed through the building process, we tried to keep in mind those families and individuals who were not even part of the faith family yet, but in time would hear the gospel and respond.
Like every new home, car or other items, the building still has that "new" feel to it and some people are overtly excited just to have a place that the sound system doesn't require set up and seats do not have to be rearranged weekly. The carpet still looks new, there are barely any markings on the wall and there are no permanent stains as of yet from Cletus dropping his coffee in Sunday school. But stains on the carpet or paint chipping are not the obstacles that we want to avoid. After all, if you're going to love on people, no matter where they come from, you are going to get dirty. The challenge that we face as humans is, that we don't become complacent!
It would be so easy to look back over the last year and say "Thank you Lord for the building and allowing everything to be completed. Since you brought us here, I think we'll sit down a while!" That would be a dangerous place to be...God did not allow us to build, only to finish the project and declare victory. A building project completed, does not a complete ministry make, and it is simply just another tool in our belt that we pray God uses to reach our community with news of Gods grace! We could say that now we have room, lets just chill out a while, but living the Christian life requires action, not just through a relocation process but throughout our entire lives.
What an opportunity to give God worship by simply standing firm in our commitment to continue working, serving, singing, and loving. I pray that God will give us extra zeal to keep moving, making a greater impact on those who are watching. Let our testimony be that we didn't stop to take a break, but that our joy was found in going forward to reach as many as we could with the gospel! In our perseverance, God is honored and our lives will be a testimony of worship to our great God!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

God is not fair!

To live in a world that says everybody has to be treated equally and that we should do everything we do with the consideration of making everybody feel the same, it seems almost passe' to make the statement that God Is Not Fair! In fact, my own ears almost curled when I first heard somebody make the assumption that the loving, gracious and holy God that I have served for the last 20 years could be unfair. In my mind, the idea of God as unfair or not considerate equated to a un-loving or cruel God that I did not want to serve or worship, and didn't resemble the God I had developed in my head. We love to see God as the God of blessing, prosperity and giving, but what about those people who have spent the last decade in war torn, poverty stricken nations who cry themselves to sleep because they are starving and are not even sure that they will wake up when the do finally doze off? They don't know life any other way, or see that it could be better, like we do. What about those children who are sold into the sex trade without even being able to say no and end up brutally tortured and some murdered? How is it that I have been blessed to grow up with good parents, loving family, always having a roof over my head and food to eat yet many kids will never experience what I know as a normal life? Many times we shape and mold God into an idea that suits our fragile minds and allows us to still get all warm and fuzzy. We make God out to be a very "Americanized", version of who He really is. The fact is though that while Gods character is equivocally without doubt, love, grace, mercy and justice, it is not in any shape, form or fashion even close to being fair, at least not as we see fair. You can still be loving without being fair. You can still be love and serve justice, without being fair. If there are 4 kids on the baseball field, 2 who can really play and 2 that can not even catch a ball or run very fast. Lets say we put choose all 4 kids to play on our team no matter what their talent. While it might be fair to the 2 kids who cant play, just to make them feel good to be on the team, its not really justice because as a coach part of my job is to develope and manage a winning team. I havent served justice to my team sponsor, other kids, or parents by placing bad players on our team just so I can be fair. It would even be true to say that I averted justice by putting the kids who can not catch well at all by placing them in the outfield, only to be fair and allow "everybody" a turn. If the object is to win, and in most games it is, then I will play the best players at the best times in order to score runs and accomplish the win. When we come to the conclusion that God is not always fair, it will help us deepen our love and appreciation for who He is in our lives and all He has done for us. I don't know all of the whys behind God's choices, but I do know His motives are pure and that He has my best interest at heart. Accepting the idea that God is not fair will also cause us to worship Him more passionately! You ask, "Daniel how in the world would deciding that God really isn't fair make me want to stand up, shout and raise my hands to somebody who doesn't value fairness?" Take this into consideration... The fact that you are able to have access to the Internet, have obtained enough education to read this post and that I have written it in a free society where I am afforded the right to free speech, tells me that you and I have been shown much much more grace by God than we would ever deserve! Knowing this truth should kindle a deep fire inside of us that crys out to God just to say THANK YOU LORD! We have been allowed to hear the gospel, worship in comfortable church buildings, read a well printed, leather bound copy of the word of God. If God were really fair, and had given me what I deserved, I would have never heard the gospel more than once, and really not even once! If God were really fair, I would have been born with far less belongings, in the middle of a jungle somewhere never knowing what friendship or family meant, but that was not the plan! To God be the glory, that He blessed me to have the life I have lived and have been able to hear the gospel, accept Christ, and live out my faith! We should worship Him for not only the simple things such as breath and blessings but for allowing us, to be His child, serving Him and giving us the chance to serve Him and others! Is God fair? I don't think so, but it does not mean that He loves us less or wants to mis-treat us. Because God will always do what is right, and I can trust Him with everything I have in this life and all that will be, in the life to come! While God may not be fair as I see fairness, I do know that He is faithul and will always love and lead me for His glory and my good!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New ideas!

Today is the first day of the next decade! Can you believe that 1/1/11 is here? No doubt there will be some exciting and modern couple who will take advantage of the unique sequence and tie the knot in the morning or tomorrow night at 11am/pm. That will make thier wedding date be 1/1/11 at 11:11am/pm. Yeah that might be a little far but you get the picture. With a new year, usually comes new resolutions, thoughts and ideas. Along these same lines, I want to challange you to find new ways to worship and respond to God. There are many ways to express worship to the Lord, some of which you may have never even thought of or even tried. Think about it this way...God, who is very creative and loving, made you with personality, talent, and so many other traits, but how many times do we use these other "things" to worship or respond to God for His goodness? How many times do we try things, we never tried before to honor the Lord? Maybe you have never raised your hands in praise, or sang loudly. Maybe you only give the minimal and have never really given till it hurts. Maybe you have never been on a mission trip, but are ready to venture out. Whatever it may be, step up and be the kind of worshipper that God desires! One that is not afraid to be passionate and creative in the way you worship Him! Give financially till it hurts, and watch God provide! Lift your hands during that song that you love and sing to the top of your lungs to the Lord! Find that neighbor or friend that you have a hard time loving, and serve them as Jesus would! Whatever you do, do it with passion as unto the Lord! It's 2011...what new ideas will you come up with to worship and respond to our great God? Let's go all out and be "city shakers" with the gospel and truth that is found in Jesus. Let's sing Gods word, read Gods word, study Gods word and live out Gods word! Find that new idea, and lets get busy worshipping Jesus in this new decade!