Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cheering Christ

I love to cheer for famous athletes who are Christians.  When Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin are successful, I cheer.  I cheer because I feel a connection with them through the faith.  I cheer because they often thank the Lord for their success and I like to see Christians honor Jesus publicly.

Josh Hamilton is also a famous athlete who is a brother in the faith.  He has had a tremendous amount of success.  In the midst of that success, he has also had some personal and public challenges.  Hamilton, one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball, has wrestled with drug and alcohol abuse for most of his adult life.  He credits his faith in Jesus Christ for success on the field and in recovery. 

Earlier this year, Hamilton had a relapse and made some poor decisions.  He held a press conference to apologize and recommitted to his recovery.  He said that his recovery is a day-to-day process.  He went on to say, “My recovery is Christ.”  Meaning: Hamilton’s sobriety is rooted in a day-to-day walk with Jesus.  Like Tebow and Lin, Hamilton was giving credit where credit is due.  Though this certainly wasn’t a high moment in Hamilton’s career, I found myself cheering for Hamilton the way I cheer for Lin and Tebow.

It is easy to cheer for Christian athletes during the high times.  We cheer when they give credit to the Lord after a big win.  We cheer when they thank Jesus after winning an award.  We can also cheer those who call on Jesus after heart breaking failures too.  After all, “my recovery is Christ” is a true statement for every single follower of Jesus.

Going through the coming week, remember that your “recovery is Christ.”  As you do, celebrate when your brothers and sisters seek Christ, no matter the circumstance.  People in our lives are navigating victories, failures, and everything in between.  When those brothers and sisters turn to Jesus, and give Jesus credit for success, celebrate it.  Jesus certainly deserves the praise.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cheerful Hearts and the DMV

I went to renew my car registration this week.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I can’t say I’ve had a fun experience at the DMV.

As I sat in line, waiting to have my truck’s emissions tested, I looked at my fellow drivers.  They didn’t look happy either.  We were on the same page:  the DMV is not fun.

After a short wait, it was my turn.  I pulled into the garage, stopped the truck, and got out.  A cheerful woman met me with a smile, took my registration, and began the test.  She seemed happy enough that some might wonder, “Doesn’t she know she works for the DMV?”

We had a pleasant conversation as the test ran its course.  We talked about the weather, my truck, and even discussed my experiences with other DMVs.  The attendant’s disposition was infectious.  By the time I left, I was smiling and had a bounce in my step.

Proverbs 17 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up bones.”  The writer of the Proverbs suggests that a joyful disposition influences others like medicine.  The attendant at the DMV proved the Proverb to be true.  Her cheerful heart was medicine for me.

As you go through the coming week, let Jesus influence your disposition.  He gives our hearts a cheer that runs deeper than laughter or tears.  That joy isn’t just for us, but it can be medicine for the world around us.  Let your cheerful heart declare Christ’s goodness in ordinary places like the DMV this week.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mothers of the Faith

Bea Strickland was an important person in my life.  She was an older lady that my family met at church.  Over the years, as I grew, she became a close family friend, taught me about the Bible, scolded me when I was running too quickly in the church, taught me old Pentecostal hymns and on, and on.

Bea was important because she invested in my spiritual life like I was one of her own children.    She didn’t replace the wonderful mom that the Lord had given me.  She simply came along side my parents to encourage my faith in Jesus Christ to the best of her ability.  In many ways, Bea was a mother of the faith.

The Bible refers to a woman named Deborah as a mother of faith.  Judges 5 says Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.  Obviously, Deborah didn’t give birth to every person in the nation of Israel.  But she did nurture and care for the spiritual welfare of Israel as she led them.  Deborah was the spiritual mother of God’s people.

We honor the mothers in our lives this Sunday.  There are wonderful women who have invested in our faith in Jesus Christ.  They may be our biological moms and/or spiritual moms like Bea Strickland.  Either way, they are God sent blessings that are making a difference in the Kingdom of God.

As you worship this morning, thank the Lord for the women who have invested in your faith.  Celebrate their faithful leadership in classrooms and Bible studies and prayer closets.  Let this Mother’s Day celebrate what God has done through the faithful service of the spiritual mothers in our church family.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who says Biblical literature isn't God inspired truth?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wealth Isolates

Wealth isolates.  I heard that phrase a few years ago.  A friend pointed out that wealthy folks have a hard time living in community.  She used examples of technology and business practices to illustrate her point.  The idea stuck with me.  Wealth isolates.

Many refer to the United States as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  It is easy to see how our wealth and access to technology isolates people.  We keep personal contact with others to a minimum using ATMs, facebook, smart phones, vending machines, automated customer service and on, and on.

Jesus didn’t like the tendency to isolate.  The Gospel of Mark describes a rich young man asking Jesus what he needs to do in order to be saved.  Jesus tells the young man to sell everything, give it to the poor, and follow Him.  The rich man rejects Jesus’ instruction, keeps the money, and walks away - isolated.

In that passage, Jesus invites the rich man into the Kingdom of God.  An important part of the Kingdom of God is a community of people who have Jesus’ rule in common.  Among other things, the rich man doesn’t like the implications of living in a community of Jesus followers.  He opts out and returns to a life he can rule all by himself.

You may have some money in your bank account.  You may have very little.  Either way, Jesus’ message is the same: enter His kingdom.  Jesus calls us all to a life of following Him in relationship with others.

As you go through the coming week, see how the wealth (big or small) God has given you can be used to develop relationships with others.  Invite friends over for dinner instead of ordering take out and watching cable.  Ask some friends to help with a project instead of hiring others to do it.  The blessings God has given you can be invested in your relationships, rather than helping you escape them.