Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Using The Word "If" In It's Proper Place

I've been reading lately about great men of faith throughout history, and I've come to the realization of just how important these men were in leading others to Christ and shaping the Church, because after 85 AD there were no Disciples left who had walked closely with Jesus throughout His ministry.
 Great men of faith who took the gospel that was shared to them and spread this love throughout a world where there was literally no one left who had walked close enough to Jesus to touch His garment. Important men like: Martin Luther, John Newton author of Amazing Grace, Horatio Sprafford author of It Is Well,
William Seymour of the Azusa Street Revival, Karl Barth, and Billy Graham.
One of my favorite men of faith in history was evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, a strong man of faith who taught in the early 1900's. And one of my favorite stories of him:

"I'll only pray for you once, to pray twice is unbelief," Smith Wigglesworth, when praying for the sick.
The second night, a man approached the altar for prayer, Wigglesworth recognized him,
"Didn't I pray for you last night? You are full of unbelief, please leave the altar."

I think if Wigglesworth were around today and said that to someone, they would probably get offended.

Sometimes we have a tendency to place the word if in an improper place when making our requests known to God; we call that unbelief.

Charles Spurgeon, in reference to Mark 9:23, and our struggle with unbelief:

"A certain man had a demoniac son, who was afflicted with a dumb spirit. The father, having seen the futility of the endeavours of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no faith in Christ, and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his son to him, he said to Jesus, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Now there was an "if" in the question, but the poor trembling father had put the "if" in the wrong place: Jesus Christ, therefore, without commanding him to retract the "if," kindly puts it in its legitimate position. "Nay, verily," he seemed to say, "there should be no if' about my power, nor concerning my willingness, the if' lies somewhere else." "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." The man's trust was strengthened, he offered a humble prayer for an increase of faith, and instantly Jesus spoke the word, and the devil was cast out, with an injunction never to return. There is a lesson here which we need to learn. We, like this man, often see that there is an "if" somewhere, but we are perpetually blundering by putting it in the wrong place. "If" Jesus can help me--"if" he can give me grace to overcome temptation--"if" he can give me pardon--"if" he can make me successful? Nay, "if" you can believe, he both can and will. You have misplaced your "if." If you can confidently trust, even as all things are possible to Christ, so shall all things be possible to you. Faith standeth in God's power, and is robed in God's majesty; it weareth the royal apparel, and rideth on the King's horse, for it is the grace which the King delighteth to honour. Girding itself with the glorious might of the all-working Spirit, it becomes, in the omnipotence of God, mighty to do, to dare, and to suffer. All things, without limit, are possible to him that believeth. My soul, canst thou believe thy Lord tonight?"

A wise preacher once told me, "Pray the answer, not the problem." For within that prayer of boldness you won't find the word if.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word. They also give you access to daily devotionals like the one I just shared with you from Charles Spurgeon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

World Wide Post: That's What I Am

This was a previous post from 2011, but seems to be capturing a lot of attention lately. Perhaps it's because today more people want to be noticed and defined for who they really are.

Human Dignity + Compassion = Peace

This was California's top teacher Mr. Simon's winning essay in a contest in 1965. It was a contest in which you had to write in 25 words or less "How to End The World's Problems". Mr. Simon's answer was just 4 simple words which netted him a brand new car.

Ed Harris plays teacher Mr. Simon in the film That's What I am, based on a true story of an 8th grade class in 1965 California.The story is about a teacher instilling confidence and courage in his students and also deals with the subject of prejudice and tolerance.

And of course, within this 2011 film there are all of the humorous antics that a 13 and 14 year old will go through in school. No matter what era you grew up, you can relate to most of the adolescence high jinx. This film covers every area in funny but poignant ways:

Geek Corner: the spot on school grounds where the so-called geeky kids hung out

Cootie Contact: this story has a very funny way of getting rid of those cooties you may have accidentally come in contact with

The Schoolyard Bullies: every school had one and may still have at least one who will want your lunch money or otherwise it's "wedgie time"

Childish Pranks: I admit, for me April Fools Day was all of 7th and 8th grade combined.

 Mr. Simon, who was voted top teacher of California in 1964, pairs up for a class project the smart kid Andy with the geeky kid Stanley. The tall,lengthy red-headed Stanley with the big ears was the butt of everyone's jokes. When Andy confronts Mr. Simon and asks why he chose him to be paired with the freakish looking Stanley, Mr. Simon explains:

"You are an excellent writer Andy. I thought pairing the two of you together was a perfect fit. You want to be a writer someday, don't you Andy?"

Mr. Simon would go on and instill so much confidence in Andy that the "writer to be" was able to declare, "I am a writer. That's what I am."

Andy faces head-on the test of courage in working with the school's number one geek,resulting in some: sneers,comments,and pranks. But the friendship between the two complete opposite's begins to grow, most notably because of Stanley. Andy begins to grow within their relationship because he sees first- hand how Stanley handles all the bullying with dignity.

The awkward Stanley enters the school's end of the year talent contest and signs up to sing. And of course Andy and some of the geek squad try to talk him out of it so he wouldn't be faced with complete humiliation. When the talent show comes on they find out that Stanley can actually sing pretty good. Stanley declares,

"I am a singer. That's what I am."Along with the development of the kids within this great film comes the story of Mr. Simon. One of the school bullies who returns from a school suspension spreads a rumor about Mr. Simon, which in the end the truth is revealed and the rumor is proved false.

I love this story because it makes you define yourself within the boundaries of life.

As for what became of some of the characters in this story:

Andy became a writer, married with children.

One of the school bullies is serving a sentence in prison.

Stanley spent some of his life helping underprivileged children. He then won
$40 million dollars in the lottery and now lives in France with his wife and 3 kids.

This PG film is a good story to share with the family. And may it help you define who you are so that you may declare, "That's what I am".

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Freedom Reigns

Twas' a dreary, cool morning last week as I found myself traveling behind a school bus in my neighborhood. As the school bus made a stop in front of a house and two children hurried themselves out the door, the music blasting through my car stereo was the worship song Freedom Reigns:

Where the spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom

Lift Your eyes to heaven
There is freedom
Lift Your eyes to heaven
There is freedom

Through the picture window of the house I could see the two kids father watch as his children boarded the school bus. What grasped my attention was the fact that this father was probably praying under his breath for safety for his children, while I was listening to a song about freedom, a different freedom nonetheless, but still one that we take for granted each day.

Here in America we take our freedom for granted, even when it seems like everyday some of those freedoms are slowly disappearing. But, we still have the freedom to choose what type of school we may send our children to. We still have the freedom to raise and teach our children a certain way. And we still have the freedom to choose if we want to teach our kids whether or not to worship God.

And probably the most important freedom that exists is that freedom to allow God to enter into our hearts.
A freedom to allow God to do what He does best when we may feel hurt, broken, or carrying a heavy burden.

If your burden's heavy
He brings freedom
If your burden's heavy
He brings freedom


If you're hurt and broken
He brings freedom
If you're hurt and broken
He brings freedom


Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on every face
There is freedom


Great is Your faithfulness
Great is Your faithfulness 

It's always good to know and be reminded that God's faithfulness is a freedom that can never be taken away from us. 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

At a Loss For Words

"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."
- Mark Twain
Sonny was a cab driver who would throw in a load of laundry at the laundromat and then stop in my establishment for a cup of coffee and talk. The business I owned at the time was a Christian Music Store Coffeehouse, and everyday I would get curious and thirsty customers from this laundromat. It was an open door for me to minister to those in need and to those who were just curious in this man we call Jesus.
Most of the times when Sonny would stop in he was a bit tipsy from drinking, but not enough to where I couldn't reach him where he needed it most. This poor guy was hurting deeply inside, living in a motel, and had his wife in a nursing home. 
Sonny's interest peaked each time we talked, he was like a little kid in Sunday School. One day he asked me how to pray to God, so I showed him how, but Sonny felt he wouldn't be able to express his feelings verbally. So, I gave him the idea of just writing a letter to God and then read it to him. Sonny asked God to help him get his wife into a nursing home closer to where he was living at. I told him I would pray for him and his wife,too.
A couple weeks later Sonny came into the store with the biggest grin you could ever ask for in someone who had been hurting for years. His wife had been moved into a nursing home close to where Sonny had been living at.
Believe it or not there are still believers out there who think the only way to approach God is with an established prayer carrying big theological words. But, as I mentioned in last week's post, God wants us to approach Him like a little child; thinking of Him as our Father.
When you begin to think of yourself as a Son or Daughter to the Heavenly Father, your prayers become as a little child's cry for help to their father.
For all the promises of God are Yeah and Amen. (2Cor.1:20)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Leave it to a Kid, Again!

"The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any." - Fred Astaire

So, here's yet another child setting an example for us adults:

An 8 year-old girl in South Carolina has set up a lemonade stand in a pet shop to help raise money for a disabled Iraq War veteran. The money being raised is to help the injured soldier give his German Shepherd formal service dog training. Just by this child's compassionate actions alone, publicity and finances have grown enormously in such a short time.

Have you ever wondered why it becomes so easy for a child to step up when needed? To rise to the occasion while us adults waste time pondering each and every situation?

Today children have a knack for making the impossible possible. They see things differently, their eyes are open with rose-colored glasses. They have their sights set on reaching a goal, accomplishing any and all things without seeing the mountain that may be blocking their path. Perhaps this is why Jesus calls us to simply come to Him like a little child:

 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 18:1-4)

God wants us to do all things with a heart of a child, a heart of compassion with rose-colored glasses. A heart that sees the good that can be done when just humbly thinking of ourselves as just that, a child; a child of the Kingdom of God.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.