Monday, December 22, 2008

Celebrating Christmas

I just finished writing an article on my website about celebrating Christmas. In that article I suggested that the best way to celebrate the birth of our Lord was to share His love with others. I wanted to follow up on it here.

One of the greatest themes of the Bible is God's abiding love for us. Even though we do not deserve His love, He loves us. Celebrating the birth of Christ is best expressed in having a Christ-like love for others.

There are a couple passages of Scripture that bear quoting at this point.

John 13:34-35 (NASB) 34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Luke 6:35 (NASB) "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

I've found that it is not easy to love other believers and it is not easy to love unbelievers. At least, not with the love that God would have. God's love is unconditional. It doesn't require anything of us. It often is beaten, trampled, and rejected. Yet, God continues to love.

My greatest desire is to be able to love like my Father. I want to love unconditionally. When other believers hurt me, I want to be able to love them. When the unbeliever I am most prejudiced against confronts me I want to be able to love them like my Father.

The only way I know to do that is to let Father love them through me. When I allow His love to fill my life I will be able to love as does He. As I celebrate the birth of my Savior I want to do so by allowing my Father's love to fill me so that I can love like Him. I want to share His love with others.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Home, Really!

My last blog entry was about home. I was getting ready to travel and lamented how much I really enjoy being home. After I wrote it I began thinking about home. My Father impressed upon me that when I got home again I would not really be home.

You see, since I have become a follower of Jesus, the Christ, my Heavenly Father has a home for me in heaven. My Bible tells me that Jesus returned to heaven to prepare a home for me there. My Bible also reminds me that I am an alien here. That means this is not really my home. Instead, I am a pilgrim passing through a foreign land.

While I am here, though, I am my Father's ambassador, telling others about Jesus, who died on the cross for them. I am here on business --- my Father's business. My greatest challenge is to remember that this is only a temporary home for me.

In fact, the physical place I live on this earth is really just a motel suite where my Father allows me to stay (and covers the expenses for me) while I am about His business.

So, though I am back at that physical place I call home, I'm not really home yet. And, I find myself longing to be home, really home. I'm like the Apostle Paul at that point. I am certainly happy to enjoy the blessings of this world and I am blessed that God has chosen to use me as His witness. But, I am also desirous of leaving this place and finally arriving home.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I'm getting ready for another road trip. In a couple of days I'll leave home to drive about two hundred miles to attend a pastor's conference and an annual meeting of our Baptist state association. As I've gotten older I'm not as big a fan of road trips as I used to be. Now I think more about the effort it takes to pack and the time I'm away from home. By the second day I'm always ready to return home.

Several times in recent years I've had the opportunity of considering a change in ministry. At least two of those opportunities would have involved a lot of road trips. When the last opportunity presented itself I was sure of one thing: I didn't want to pursue it.

There are some things that make some trips more enjoyable than others. One of those is when my wife can travel with me. On this occasion she'll be going with me for my trip. It makes my time away from home much more bearable. The other thing that makes some trips more enjoyable is when I have time to visit with family. This trip, on the way home, my wife and I will have time to visit with our parents, our children, and our grandchildren.

I'll enjoy my time at the pastor's conference and at the state annual meeting. I'm happy my wife will get to go with me. And I'm looking forward to spending time with family. Still, it will be good to get home again. At this point in my life I'm a little like Dorothy in the movie, "The Wizard of Oz." I want to join her in saying, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Divine Intervention

It must be the nature of our society. We want to control every little thing about what we do and where we go. I recently had to fly to Austin for a conference. I booked my passage both ways, with layovers in Memphis. The trip to Austin went without a hitch. Coming home was a different story.

I arrived at the Austin airport in plenty of time and hurried through the security check so I could get to the gate and have some time to read and study. I no sooner sat down than a message flashed on the monitor in front of me: my departure was going to be delayed by thirty minutes. No! That would make me miss my flight from Memphis to St. Louis. I searched for an agent of the airline I would be flying on and nobody was in sight. I finally gave up and went to eat an early lunch.

Arriving back at the gate an agent was there and booked me out of Austin on another airline about twenty minutes later. Unfortunately, it took me to Dallas, where I would have a three hour layover before catching a flight home. I worried about transportation problems in St. Louis because of the changed schedule. My daughter could no longer pick me up and my son was on his way to New Jersey. However, my daughter-in-law made arrangements to pick me up at the airport.

Now, here's where it gets really cool. I arrived in Dallas and spent my three hours reading and window shopping in the terminal. As I was getting ready to board the plane I looked up and saw a friend I had not seen in over fifteen years. He was in Dallas for a meeting and would be flying back to St. Louis, too. I had a great opportunity to visit with him as we waited to board our plane.

I was switched to another airline and routed through a different airport because of a mechanical problem that put my original plane a half hour late. Was it fate or a coincidence? I don't think so. I think it was divine intervention. My heavenly Father made it possible for me to meet up with an old friend. Now I think that's pretty cool.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Might Have Been

Recently I did some thinking about the past. I began to think about decisions I had made in my life. I came up with several decisions I made that, had I taken a different road, would most probably have seriously altered my life. A couple of decisions would have led me away from vocational ministry. A few would have changed the direction of my ministry.

I wonder what my life would have been like had I taken one of those other roads? Where would they have taken me? That's not to say I wish I would have taken one of those roads. I'm pleased and at peace about the path I've taken. It's been great.

But it does bring to mind one of my favorite Bible verses. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "

I don't pine for the "road not traveled," as I believe I am right where God wants me. He's led me throughout my life. At every fork in the road God has directed my path. It's been a great ride and it's not over yet.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Asking the Wrong Questions

Let's see. I've served in eight different ministry positions. I've been interviewed for several others in churches or Christian organizations. Recently I had the opportunity to reflect on the process of being interviewed. I've been reading a book by Gregory Frizzell, Seeking God to Seek A Pastor. Dr. Frizzell makes the point that search committees often start with the wrong questions. They never seem to ask about the pastor's personal spiritual qualifications.

So, as I reflected I realized that I've not once been asked about my personal time in prayer and Bible study. I've been asked to tell when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and about God's call on my life for vocational ministry. I've been asked to discuss the growth in my last ministry position. I've been asked all the regular questions, but I'm convinced I've not been asked the important questions. In short, there have been no probing questions about my daily relationship with the Lord. I guess those doing the interview have assumed that I had a good daily relationship with the Lord because I was in vocational ministry.

I've come to the conclusion that this is a faulty assumption. Depending upon which survey you read the average pastor spends, on average, someplace between fifteen minutes and thirty minutes in prayer each day. How can one who will be the spiritual leader of a church do so without spending time with the Lord?

We have a host of writers telling us the most important thing in the church is leadership. They take a passing stab at the importance of spiritual leadership and then move on to talk about leadership qualities that could easily be divorced from spiritual leadership. Two of the greatest leaders mentioned in the Bible are Moses and David. Yet, neither of them read the latest John Maxwell book on leadership or one of Thom Rainer's contributions to leadership. They simply spent time with God and allowed Him to direct them.

Maybe that's why the church is struggling so much today. Without leaders who spend vast amounts of time alone with God how will they provide the spiritual leadership necessary to lead our Lord's church?

It's time we stop asking the wrong questions and start answering the right questions about those who would lead our churches and Christian organizations. Tell me about your private time with the Lord each day? What has the Lord said personally to you today? How much time do you spend in personal Bible study and prayer?

How would you answer those questions?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Multiple Personality Disorder in the Church

Recently I talked with a pastor of a church, who told me he was asked if he could bring together the two factions in the church. He told me that he had already identified at least eight factions in the church.

I've been thinking a lot about that and church health. If the church is the body of Christ, and has factions, it's a little like a person with multiple personalities. It isn't good and isn't easy to fix. I guess everyone has seen some movie on television where someone has multiple personalities. Whatever happens depends on which personality is dominant at that particular time. And, they can switch personalities quickly.

That seems to me to be an adequate description of a church with factions. Whatever happens in the church depends upon which faction is dominant at that particular time, and the dominate faction can change quickly.

It's an unhealthy situation in the life of the church. As I thought about that pastor and the question he was asked, I remember thinking that he would never be able to fix the problem in that church. A church with factions is a far cry from what our Father wants. Jesus prayed to Father God asking that there would be unity in the church. That's only going to happen in a church of multiple factions when they allow God to heal them.

It begins with a realization that the church is sick and that factions are sin in the body of Christ. Then comes confession, admitting to God that the church has sinned. Then the church will have to ask God's forgiveness and His healing.

When that happens God will hear and heal. Revival will come to the church and the body will become one under the lordship of Jesus. You know, there are a lot of churches that have multiple personalities and need the divine healing that can only come from God. Could your church be one?

Monday, June 30, 2008


Yesterday I took my blood pressure twice, and it was really high. I commented about it to my wife and her response was, "You know what you need to do." I replied, "Yes, it's stress-related and I need to quit my job." We bantered back and forth about it. By the way, that's not the problem, but it was better than admitting the real problem.

It dawned on me today that we do that a lot with God. When things are not going well His Spirit says, "You know what you need to do." Our reply is similar to mine. We offer God all kinds of things we think will fix the problem or answers we know are no solutions at all. Doing God's will seems too painful. It means giving up bad habits and letting God take control.

Yes, I really know what I need to do to deal with my blood pressure. Most of us, when we get to the point of bantering back and forth with the Spirit also know what we need to do. We're just resistant to doing it. Don't you think we should just surrender and do it?

Oh, by the way. Today I started exercising again. And, I'm working on cutting back on the sweets. It won't be easy. I think I'm busy and it seems like a waste of time to exercise. And I love chocolate way to much for it ever to be healthy to give in to my addiction. But it's time to bit the bullet, exercise, and reduce my sweet intake.

Maybe it's time for you to bite the bullet and surrender to God's will for your life.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Recent events in my life gave me cause to think about the blessing of family. I was blessed to be born in a Christian home with loving parents. As my family expanded through marriage, children, and grandchildren I have experienced more love than one deserves.

On May 28 our second granddaughter, Liza Madden Davis, was born. There were a couple of moments of concern after she was born, but God is good and Liza is now home with her parents and big sister. As I returned home and thought about the experience several thoughts came to mind.

Family is precious. Everyone is born into one, but some are not as blessed as others. To have a family that loves each other and wants the best for each other is a blessing not all have. God has blessed me with a loving family.

One can do well in his/her chosen profession. You can distinguish yourself academically. You may have the biggest house on the block or the finest car money can buy. However, all of those things pale in comparison to family. My greatest desire is to worship and serve my heavenly Father. My next priority is to be the husband and father my family needs. That means they need to be able to see my Lord in all my life.

Father, thank you for parents who love me unconditionally. You allowed me to grow up in a Christian home where you were loved. Thank you for a godly wife who's worth more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10). Thank you for children, including our daughter-in-law, who love you. And thank you for two beautiful granddaughters.

Father, I love you and ask you to guide me so that I can be a godly example for my family.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Living Through Suffering

It's a tough month for me. At sixteen years of age I started having problems with allergies. After a lot of tests it turned out I was allergic to most things that grow. (Well, let's just say the list is long.) I took the shots to desensitize me. It didn't help. At the age of twenty-six I was told I needed to live in air conditioning and forget any outside activity. Later, I went to another doctor who started a new round of shots and told me I was "mostly" cured.

I've lived with my allergies for forty years. For six to eight months every Spring I suffer. And, for forty years I've asked God to heal me. I've faithfully trusted God to heal me on his time frame. I've considered the possibility that God has left me with the allergies so that, like Paul, I can declare that God's grace is sufficient.

This week I lost it. It's been a particularly bad week for me. My allergies have been at their worst. One night this week I couldn't breathe. My medication didn't seem to be working. And, because I couldn't breathe, I couldn't sleep.

So, I spent my sleep hours trying to breathe and wipe my nose. In between I prayed. No, I begged. I pleaded. I asked God why. I reminded God I had trusted him. That I had given my life to ministry for him. Then I offered an ultimatum. I told God I wanted him to either heal me or take me home.

The next morning I was still on this earth and still suffering. I made an appointment to see the doctor, who gave me a shot and prescribed a new medication. Things are better, but I'm still not healed.

That means I'm a little calmer in my prayers now. I'm still reminding God that I've suffered with these allergies for forty years and that I want to be healed. And yes, I'd rather be home with him than to suffer with the discomfort of my allergies.

Here's the thing that strikes me most. I was hurting and angry. Yet, I knew (and know) that God still loves me. My life is in his hands.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Evangelism vs. Discipleship?

As I was worshiping in a local church the pastor announced that he longed for the day when he baptized people every Sunday. My immediate thought was, is there water in the baptistry? After all, if one longs for the day for it to happen it seems to me that he should be ready for that to happen.

I suppose that some churches just are not reaching people for the kingdom of God because they are not yet prepared. They really do not expect it to happen and are not doing everything on their end to be prepared for it to happen.

However, no sooner had the thought come into my mind than another followed. The Spirit raised another question in my mind and heart. Why would the Father allow a church to baptize people into the kingdom if they were unwilling or unprepared to disciple them? Ouch!

You see, I don't believe that our calling is simply to make converts and baptize them. I believe we have a responsibility to help them grow in their relationship with the Lord. And, if we are unwilling to do that why would God ever allow us the joy of seeing others come to know Christ?

Needless to say, the Father has been speaking to me a lot lately about discipleship. Today He showed me that evangelism and discipleship cannot be separated. They go hand-in-hand. If we have a responsibility to share the good news we also have the responsibility to disciple those whom we lead to Jesus. My prayer is that I'll have ample opportunities to share Christ and lead others in discipleship, to grow in their relationship with God.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Church

It's seems like I've been involved in ministry forever. Early on I started out working with youth and moved to the education ministry. I went on to the pastorate and now I'm involved as a denominational minister. And, before all of that, I was raised in the home of a minister. So, I guess it's fair to say I've been involved in ministry all my life.

In the past few months I've been thinking about the current condition of the Church. I've got to say that it doesn't look all that good to me. You see, I've been involved, over the years, in all kinds of methods and plans to assist the churches in growing. In fact, I've done my part in leading some of the programs, traveling around the country. All of these methods and plans sounded good at the time. Indeed, for awhile they seemed to work. Churches reached people and things looked good. But in just a few months they lost steam and things returned to normal.

Sadly, churches today are still looking for the latest method, plan, or gimmick to help them grow. Just as soon as the latest idea loses its steam, it's on to the next great plan. To borrow from Shakespeare. There seems to be much ado about nothing.

I think we've done everything humanly possible, and that's the problem. We really haven't relied on the Lord. That's why the Church doesn't look to be in great shape to me right now. Perhaps it's time we confess that we've tried to do it our way and ask the Lord's forgiveness. Perhaps it's time to remember that Jesus said it is His Church and He will build it. What would happen if we would just allow God to do what only He can do in our churches today?

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I've been doing a study on discipleship. In the Great Commission Jesus tells the disciples to go and make disciples. It seems like most people want to assume that's about evangelization---producing converts. But a convert and a disciple are not the same. A disciple is a follower and not all converts are followers.

My study of discipleship reaffirmed that discipleship is not an easy walk. Jesus promised that disciples would be persecuted. He said a disciple was not above his master. In Matthew 10 Jesus talks about discipleship. He says that following him may mean being set apart from family and friends. He says no one who cares more for family and friends than he/she does Jesus cannot be a disciple.

Jesus also talks about "cross bearing." The first century believers understood what Jesus was saying. Following Jesus would result in persecution and could result in death. Unless one is willing to face persecution and even death they cannot be a disciple. It's a difficult chapter to accept.

I began to ask the hard questions. Would I be willing to give up my possessions? I found the answer was not what I would like it to be. I could easily give up some things, but others would be hard. Could I give up my job? Could I give up my parents, spouse, children, and grandchildren? Would I be willing to face persecution and even death? In other countries these kinds of things happen, but not in the United States. Still, I wonder?

I began to examine my past. I'm probably more than halfway through my earthly lifespan. There have been times I haven't forsaken all to follow Jesus. There have been times I would have gladly forsaken all to follow Jesus. I know this: I want to follow Jesus as a committed disciple, willing to follow Him wherever He leads.

In Mark 10:28 Peter said, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You." I want that to be my attitude. And, when called upon, I want it to be demonstrated in my action.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


We've got family coming to visit and I thought it would be a good idea to clean up my home office a little. As I looked around I saw my 2007 tax file laying in the floor. It's been several weeks since I had my taxes figured and that should have been filed. Over a year ago I bought a new Smartphone. I still see my old one laying on the desk. I attended a meeting in January and I have a paper on my desk that needs to be added to the computer file I started while there. I could go on, but you get the picture. There is a lot of clutter in my office and I need to take a serious stab at taking care of it.

As I looked around I was reminded that our lives often get cluttered. It doesn't happen all at once. Like my office, it's a piece here and an event there. Instead of dealing with it at the moment we put it off until later. Then, one day we look around and marvel how cluttered our lives have become. And then we understand why we've had difficulty hearing from God lately.

There's a parable in the Bible that reminds one of the need to deal with clutter. Jesus told the parable of the soils and one of the soils he talked about was the soil that was covered with thorns. There the seed could not produce an adequate crop because it was choked. (See Luke 4:1-20)

In the explanation of the soils Jesus explained that the seed in the thorn-choked soil represented the word of God in the lives of people who are cluttered with the things of this world. The word never adequately grows in their lives.

As I thought about my office I also thought about my life. I found some clutter there that needs to be cleaned up. I'm trying to take care of that because I want God's word to take root and produce a good harvest in my life. I hope that's your desire, too.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Just Do It!

Just Do It! That seems to be the advice for a lot of things in life. When you contemplate a certain action there finally comes a time when you have to make a decision. Friends or family may advise: Just do it!

That's not to say one doesn't (or shouldn't) give thought to an action before one does it. However, it does imply that, sooner or later, action needs to take place. Let's face it, a lot of times we know what needs to be done. We just procrastinate. We have all kinds of clever games we play to keep from doing it, whatever "it" may be. We tell ourselves we have higher priorities, but that's not always true. We tell ourselves action is not really that important, but you and I both know it is. We say someone else will do it, but we know we are the ones who should really do it. Well, you get the idea.

Here's the thing. I think we do this too often in our relationship with God. Here's a classic example. As believers, we know that we should spend time in Bible study. I'm not talking about devotions, here. I'm talking about serious time in God's Word. Our relationship with our Father has already shown us it's the right thing to do. However, we play clever games. We tell ourselves we have other priorities right now, but we'll get to it seriously a little later. We may try to fool ourselves by saying that it's the pastor's or Bible study leader's job to lead us in Bible study. What excuse do you use?

Yet, despite all of that, we know Bible study is important. We understand that it's important to our relationship with God. We even understand that, as an act of obedience, we should "study to show ourselves approved." So finally, we understand. It's time to "just do it."

Be forewarned, though. It's addictive. If you once start to spend serious time with God in His Word you'll meet Him on every page in every word. And one day you'll realize that one of the great joys in your Christian experience -- in all of your life -- is your daily time with your Father. And you'll crave more time with Him each day.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


My house is old and outdated. Lately, I've been thinking of getting it ready to sell. I'd like a lot newer house with a lot more room.

I've also got an old truck that I sometimes wonder how much longer it will run. It's a third vehicle, and as it's just my wife and me, it probably doesn't matter about the truck. But I'd really like to have a better one.

My son and his wife recently bought a new flat panel television. Now that's really nice! Maybe I can get one of those.

Since Vista has come out I've been thinking about a new laptop computer. The one I'm currently using is about three years old. From what I've read about Vista, I'm not a big fan, but I figure I'm going to have to make the move, so I've started looking at new computers.

Then I open my Bible. I try to read my Bible through each year. In fact, I try to do it in about a third of the year. So, yesterday I was reading through Psalms and came to Psalm 119:36. It hit me hard. Here's what it says: Turn my heart to Your decrees and not to material gain. Psalm 119:36 (HCSB)

Ouch! I began to think about the things I wanted. I was involved in thinking about how I might prioritize my list and get the things I wanted. Then I came to this verse and realized that I needed to turn my eyes away from the material things and focus my heart on the Lord and His decrees.

Living in America, it seems to me that most of America seems to be about material wealth. If you don't have it, you want it. If you have it, you want more of it. Even among those who are believers, I wonder if we are more concerned about our material wealth than we are about turning our heart to the decrees of God?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why I Can Trust God

Sometimes you follow a course of action without really thinking about it. For instance, I've trusted God most of my life. I believe he knows my life and knows what is best for me. If I faithfully live for him I can trust him to bless me.

I can't say I've given it a lot of thought as to why I trust him, though. This past week I was reading in the book of Job. It's an interesting book that raises a lot of questions. Near the top of my list is why God allowed Satan to inflict such suffering on Job. But I think the real question that comes from reading Job is, Can I trust a God who would allow this to happen to someone?

While pondering that I read Job 34:10 and came to the conclusion that God can do no wrong. If he did wrong or acted unjustly, he wouldn't be God. I mean, if he did wrong or acted unjustly he wouldn't be perfect and I don't want a god who isn't perfect.

So when God allowed Satan to inflict pain and suffering on Job did he act justly? Though I can't explain it, I think so. The closest I can come to understanding this is to look for an example I can understand.

A child often thinks their parent acts wrongly or unjustly. The real issue is that the child sees only from his or her perspective. Mom or Dad is acting justly, but the thinking of a child just doesn't see that.

My spiritual immaturity may make me question God's actions, but he's still God. So, despite sometimes not understanding why God does what he does or allows things to happen, I'm going to continue to trust him.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My First Post

This is my first post. I thought I would give this a try. I currently have my own website, and I don't know if I will be disciplined enough to do this. I guess time will tell.

Primarily, I created this site to record my thoughts, musings, and anything else I might want to share with others.