10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10 NIV)
During the past two weeks there has been a spotlight shining continuously on the Oklahoma City area. The spotlight has been shining brightly not because the Thunder won the NBA Championship or because the Sooners or Cowboys won the National Championship, but because of heartbreaking tragedy. Unimaginable damage has been done to thousands of homes and businesses, 24 lives have been lost, and every major news network has traveled to our area to tell the story. All of those who have come to visit us have recognized the outpouring of love and selfless sacrifice of those who have seen a need and simply wanted to help. People have given money, time, their material possessions, and even opened their homes to folks who had no place to go. I’m not just talking about people from the surrounding area either. I got a phone call from a friend of mine from Plano, Texas last week who works for Krispy Krunchy Chicken. She said, “My boss wants to come to Moore and cook 36,000 meals for the people who are in need.” I said, “We’ll help.” Some of us from the church went to First Christian Church in Moore and jumped in alongside their folks on Wednesday and Thursday. After packing chicken and biscuits in grocery sacks I jumped in Harriet Weirich’s Suburban with Harriet and Alyson Geister and we headed out to the neighborhoods. The first place we went there were some folks working so Alyson grabbed a bag and headed one direction while I grabbed a bag and headed another direction. I saw a family, a man, woman, and a couple of teenage girls, working out in a front yard so I asked, “Are you hungry?” She looked at her husband and said, “I told you somebody would come by.” We started talking as I handed them their lunch and then I asked, “Is this your home?” The man said, “No, we’re from Hopkinsville, Kentucky.” I said, “Really? How did you get out here?” The woman said, “We were watching TV Friday night. We saw all of the damage and the Lord told us to go help. We left Saturday morning and have been here since.” And people from all across the country have heard that same voice of the Lord saying, “Go!” and they’ve come to help. Continue reading “Love God By Loving Others
Last week we began our study of Hebrews 12:1-3. The writer of Hebrews used the illustration of a runner to teach us how important it is for us to lay aside everything that will slow us down in the race of faith. If you will remember “the laying aside what will hinder” doesn’t necessarily describe things of an immoral or “bad” nature, but rather anything that will slow us down in our passionate pursuit of Almighty God. He did go on to point out that we should lay aside “the sin that so easily entangles us.” The important word for “entangle” that is used in verse 1 teaches us that sin acts like a boa constrictor in our lives. Once it latches on it begins to constrict, choking the life out of us, and immobilizing us so that we can’t run at all.
The last important lesson we learned from verse 1 is that we are called to “run with endurance.” We are called to run through the finish line, to break the tape at full stride, and never let up. I remember a few years ago when Maurice Greene was running in the Texas Relays. Maurice won the Olympic Gold medal in 2000 at Sydney in the 100 meters, but two years later he was anchoring the 400 meter relay team in Austin. Maurice was, at that time, the fastest man in the world. As he took the baton Maurice began to pour it on and take the lead. Just before the finish line Maurice raised his hands in victory instead of running through the tape. Maurice Greene, the fastest man in the world, lost the race for his team by .01 seconds. How did he lose the race? He lost because he raised his arms in victory before he crossed the finish line. Maurice said,
‘You’re supposed to run all the way through and not fool around,’ he told the crowd of 20,000 at the University of Texas at Austin. ‘I took a look, threw my hand up and he came by.’
We can’t let up, we can’t give in — we must run the race with endurance until we hear the Master’s voice say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. NOW enter in to your rest.” The “now” of our rest will only take place when we have crossed the finish line – not one second, not one foot, not one moment before. We must run the race with endurance! Continue reading “Running With Purpose
I have absolutely loved watching the Olympics. It doesn’t matter which sport you watch, it is evident that those who are competing have spent an incredible amount of time practicing, getting stronger and faster, preparing mentally and physically so that they would be ready when the competition began.
One of my favorite competitions within the Olympics is the Track and Field competition. I love watching the men and women line up on the starting line and race to the finish. So many of us watch the races and think, “Boy, wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of talent!?” The truth is that all of the runners have talent, but that is not what got them to the Olympics. The runners that you and I are watching compete have something in addition to talent—they have dedication and perseverance.
I love the “spotlights” that NBC shows during their broadcast showing the behind-the-scenes looks at what the athletes have gone through to get to the Olympics. They have paid a price that few are willing to pay and that is why they are successful. Continue reading “Running With Endurance
The days were long and the nights were filled with nursing sore muscles and trying to reassure one another that hope was not lost, that YHWH would one day replace their sorrow with celebration. Days were filled with the sounds of the whip cracking on someone’s back, being bossed around, forced labor, and shouting slave masters. Nights were spent feeding the family, spending time with the children, and nursing wounds inflicted from the hands of the overseers, the workers called them “slave drivers.” They had been held captive for so long that nobody even remotely remembered what freedom felt like and yet the hope of deliverance never faded. Generation after generation had taken their place in Pharaoh’s pits mashing mud, water, and straw until it was pliable enough to be molded into bricks. When Pharaoh grew angry he would take away the straw to punish the Hebrews.
Of an evening the fathers and mothers would gather with their children just before bed to say their prayers and try and encourage their little ones. They would tell their kids that YHWH would send a Deliverer one-day who would release them from their labors and return them to the land that He had given to their forefathers. They would tell the children stories about Abraham and Sarah and how YHWH had given them a son when they had long given up hope of having a baby fill their nursery. They would tell them about Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, but the story they loved to tell, the hope they held onto, was Joseph. Continue reading “Nothing But The Blood
Several years ago, when the boys were small, Connie and I bought our first swing set. We went to the store and found just the right swing set — not too big and overbearing, not too small and childish, but one that was just right. We loaded the big box in the back of my truck and headed home. We got home, unloaded the box, and put all of the pieces in their proper place as we prepared to assemble what looked like the Eiffel Tower in pieces. Connie quickly grabbed the instructions and began to encourage me to read them thoroughly before I began trying to put the swing set together, an encouragement that was written in big, bold letters on the outside of the box. I, being Bob Villa and an avid viewer of HGTV and the Discovery Home Channel assured her that I didn’t need to read the instructions. After all, it was just a kid’s swing set. I began implementing my meticulous, well-thought-out process of assembling the swing set. I would pick up a bolt, grab a piece of the tubing, and then see if the bolt was long enough to make it to the other side. I did pretty well with the big pieces. There were only four eight foot pieces of tubing. I was gaining confidence.
Continue reading “Come Into His Presence
Leviticus 16; Hebrews 4:14-16”
We are down to the last section of this wonderful letter written to the Hebrews. The letter is over 1900 years old and yet, as we have been studying together for the past several months, I have continuously been amazed at how powerful, relevant, comforting, and challenging this letter is to those of us who are seeking to live our lives for the glory of God today. I hate to see our study of Hebrews come to an end, but I praise God for the blessing of our time together gathered around God’s Word – gleaning priceless nuggets that we can carry with us for the rest of our lives.
Continue reading “Shepherds of The Soul
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born into a family where faith was not much of a concern or topic of conversation, but as a 14 year old, Dietrich Bonhoeffer announced that he was going to be a pastor and theologian. His family was stunned and his older brother tried to persuade him that he was making a huge mistake. His brother said that the church was powerless, irrelevant, and unworthy of Dietrich’s commitment. Dietrich responded to his brother, “If the church is really what you say it is then I shall have to reform it.”
Continue reading “Life Outside
We are a desperate people. You see it everyday. People are searching. People are seeking. People are striving for something in this life, anything in this life to give them some sense of adequacy, some sense of purpose, some insightful information that can help them feel better about themselves. What can we do to make us feel more worthy, more secure, or more self-confident or self-assured?
Continue reading “Follow The Leader
Back in 1987 a blockbuster Hollywood movie hit the theatres. Wall Street starred Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, a corporate big shot who was willing to stoop to any level to make a buck. Mr. Gekko was the point man for corporate takeovers, insider trading, and every devious business practice that one can imagine. Gordon took a promising, young leader and enticed him to compromise his ethics in return for big pay offs. This past week, as I was studying our Scripture for today, I was reminded of a speech Mr. Gekko gave to a group of stockholders. In the speech Gordon Gekko says, The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed cuts through, clarifies, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. (Gordon Gekko, Wall Street.)
Continue reading “Greed Meets The Need?