Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Worthless Shepherds

I've been reading a chapter a day from the book of Zechariah. I just finished chapter eleven. It came at an opportune time. In preparation for 2010 I had been contemplating my ministry. I've been in the same place of service over fifteen years. What will I be doing in 2010?

As I thought about the direction I will be pursuing God reminded me that I need to be sure it is his direction. It's easy to get sidetracked. It's easy to desert God's call on one's life to pursue other goals. When I pick up a book by a well-known pastor and read how God has blessed his ministry and how I can follow his plan for success it's easy to adopt that plan.

When I forsake God's will for someone's plan I know he's not happy with me. When that becomes a pattern for my leadership of his people I suspect that he is angry. That's the word I get from Zechariah. Now, here's the verse.

Zechariah 11:17 (HCSB)
Woe to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock! May a sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm wither away and his right eye go completely blind!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Leaving Loved Ones

Last weekend I had to make a quick trip to visit family. First I visited with my son and his family. Then I had the opportunity to visit with my brother and my mother. I had a quick visit with my daughter and ended the weekend visiting with my in-laws. As I drove home I realized I was already missing them.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll leave home to drive to St. Louis so I can fly out early Monday morning to go to Austin, Texas. While I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn how to better study God's Word I am already thinking about the days I'll spend away from my loving wife. I'll be surrounded by people, but I'll be lonely. It's just not fun when I'm away from my wife.

As I thought about that I wondered why it is that we can wander away from God and not think much about it. We manage to miss our quiet time with Father and get through the day okay. We can even go two or three days without serious times of prayer and Bible study and not seem to miss it.

I know God longs to spend time with us, so the problem has to be us. Maybe we don't miss Him because we don't love Him deeply enough. How deeply should one love Him? Well, maybe we need to take a serious look at the Great Commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5 (HCSB)

Love is born out of relationships. As I spend time with my family I love them more and more. As I spend time with the Lord I learn to love Him more and more. I learn to love Him with all my heart, with all my sould, and with all my strength. And then it happens: there comes that day when a day without spending time with Him is a day of loneliness.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Willfull Disobedience

Recently my son and his family came for a visit My oldest granddaughter is going to be four in December. She is a sweet girl. However, she pushes the boundaries, and at times during the visit she exhibited willful disobedience. On a couple of occasions she was told to do something and disobeyed.

That wasn't enough. After her father or her mother patiently explained why she must do it she still refused. Then they spelled out the consequences of her disobedience, giving her one last chance to do the right things. Still, knowing that there would be consequences that would be unpleasant, she was determined to have her own way.

I couldn't help thinking about our spiritual disobedience. God often asks us to do something and in willful disobedience we tell Him no. He patiently asks again, reinforcing the fact that we need to be obedient to Him. Finally, we are reminded of the consequences: obedience brings God's blessing while disobedience brings His discipline. Still, we choose to be disobedient.

It's not fun to watch my three year-old granddaughter willfully disobey her parents. It's painful for me to watch when she continues to disobey, knowing the outcome. And, I know it's painful for her parents to have to discipline her.

I don't think our Father enjoys it any more when we disobey. I think He is just as patient, encouraging us to do the right thing. But when we willfully disobey, He lovingly disciplines us.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thirty-Five Years

Today I celebrate thirty-five years of marriage to my wife. I have said on many occasions that it seems like only yesterday that we walked down the aisle to stand before God and pledge our love and faithfulness to each other. At the same time, it seems like I have been married forever. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that it really is hard for me to remember what my life was like before we were married.

I’m counting on completing my life on earth married to Becky. She has been my soul mate and love of my life and I can’t imagine life without her. Nor, do I want to contemplate it.

When Becky and I were first married I thought I was in love with her. I found out that I had no idea what it was to be in love. Whatever it was I felt when we were first married just can’t compare to what it is I feel now.

As a pastor I often had to counsel young couples planning to get married. One of the things I was particularly concerned about what their relationship with the Lord. You see, no matter how much they thought they loved each other I was firmly convinced that they could not love each other rightly unless they had experienced the love of God through Jesus, the Christ.

That’s why I would press them on their relationship with the Lord. A believer who had experienced the love of God would expect godly love from their spouse. If they married an unbeliever their chances of experiencing that love dropped tremendously.

One of the reasons our marriage has been successful is that Becky and I have both experienced the love of God through Jesus. We both know the depths of love our Father has for us that allowed Him to give His Son for our lives. It’s that kind of love that manifests itself in our marriage. I have no doubt that the love of my life puts my needs before her own. And, my desire is that I always put her needs before mine. I’m not God, so I sometimes fail. But it’s my goal.

So, today I celebrate thirty-five years of marriage to my beautiful wife and thank my Father for sending her into my life. And, I’m thankful He send His Son to die on the cross for me.

John 3:16 (NASB)
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I don't know how much you have thought about it, but eternity for us is not the same as eternity for our Lord. Everyone is going to live into eternity. Some will spend eternity in hell and those who know the Lord will spend eternity in heaven. And, when we think about living for eternity we mean we believe that we will live on and on.

Jesus' eternity, though is different. You see, we have a beginning. One day you and I were born to earthly parents. We celebrate our birthdays each year. I've celebrated over a half century of birthdays, now. You might say my eternity started whenever I was conceived. Others might say my eternity started when I was born. I might say my eternity started at the age of seven when I gave my heart to Jesus and was born spiritually. The point is, for human beings eternity has a beginning, but has no ending.

Jesus, though, has no beginning. He was with God in the beginning. That's what it says in John 1:2 --- He was in the beginning with God. (NASB)

I confess that I do not understand that. I can't comprehend a "no beginning" life. My mind tells me everything has to have some beginning, including Jesus. But my faith tells me that His Word is true because He is truth. So, when I read that He was with God in the beginning I just accept it. I accept it with the understanding that it makes His eternity and my eternity two different things entirely.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Wow! I just realized how long it has been since I have added a post. During that time a lot has happened. The most notable of those things was the death of my father. It was sudden and unexpected. Dad had asked me to preach at his funeral. While it was a sad occasion for me and my family it was a glorious occasion for my father. Today he is at home with our Lord.

I've been reading and studying in the book of John. Sometime ago I read the first chapter. One of the truths I contemplated is the "foreverness" of our Lord and God. The first verse of John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1 (NASB)

I can't wrap my mind around eternity. It's simply a concept that eludes my grasp. God has always existed and the Son was there with Him all the time. Furthermore, even when I can get a handle on a beginning (I was born on May 30), I still can't grasp the concept of living forever.

My father would have been 80 on April 3 of this year. He missed that day by a little over a month. Every time I go to visit my mother I am acutely aware that Dad is no longer here. The good news is that he is in heaven with the Lord and he is continuing his "foreverness."

Now here is where it really gets interesting for me. No matter how long his "foreverness" is, he will never be as old as our God and our Lord. That's at least a double wow!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This year I've started a new Bible reading plan. I will take the year to read through the Old Testament. While I am doing that I will read following a different plan for the New Testament. I'll read the same passage for a month. If it's a short book I'll read the entire book each day for a month. The longer books I'll divide into five or six chapters and read that section for a month. I figure it will take me about two and a half years to read through the New Testament that way, but I'll have a greater understanding of the New Testament.

Right now I am reading the book of 1 John. Reading it every day has been enlightening. I have been impressed anew at the importance of love. It is the hallmark of Christian faith. John reminds us that God is love, and that one who loves God must love others. Failure to love others is an indication that one does not know Jesus as Lord and does not love God.

As I re-read 1 John each day I cannot escape that simple truth, and I find myself examining my life. Do I really love others, regardless of who they are? Am I demonstrating the love of God each day? I pray daily that God will love others through me and that I may be a living demonstration of His love for others.