I don’t have a half billion dollars, because I didn’t win the big lottery this week. I’m sure it didn’t help that I didn’t buy a ticket.
I’m not saying that because I consider myself morally superior, but because I can do math. If ever there was a bad investment, buying a lottery ticket would qualify.
I did find it interesting to read several social network “friends” mentioning what they were going to do with the money if their lotto numbers were called. One said he would build his church a new sanctuary. Another promised that UAB would finally get its long-awaited on-campus football stadium. Yet another suggested that he would help his mom buy a new house and get out from under her financial woes.
It reminded me of a story I heard a while back about a Sunday School teacher who asked the children in her class if they would give a million dollars to the missionaries. “Yes!” they all screamed. “Would you give a thousand dollars?” Again, they shouted “Yes!” “How about a hundred dollars?” “YES, we would!” they all agreed.
“Would you give a dollar to the missionaries?” she asked. The 6-year old boys all exclaimed “Yes!” again, except for one little boy. “Eric,” the teacher said, as she noticed the boy clutching his pocket, “Why didn’t you say ‘Yes’ this time?”
“Well,” he stammered. “I HAVE a dollar.”
It’s one thing to talk about what you would give if you had it–when you don’t–but it’s another thing altogether to actually give what you have. The reality is, that’s all God wants from us–to give Him our time, our money, and our talents, from a willing heart. Like the little boy who gave Jesus his lunch, when we release what we have to Him, He uses it and blesses it, and blesses us in the process.
You don’t have to win the lottery to have something to offer the Lord. And you don’t have to have a million dollars to support the missionaries. But you can give what you do have, and better yet, you can give of yourself. That’s better than blowing two bucks on a lottery ticket, and the dividends on your investment will bring a return for eternity.
I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Thanksgiving weekend means different things to different people. For some it’s all about food, for others it’s family, for others’s it’s faith….and for others, it’s…football.
In addition to the non-stop football on TV all weekend, I understand there’s a pretty big game being played just down the road this Saturday. And although the game has lost a lot of it’s lustre this year, it’s still quite a big deal for most people who live in our state. At the very least, there’s still “braggin’ rights” at stake for fans of both schools.
The sad truth is, however, that so many folks in these parts base their worth, significance and happiness on the outcome of a football game between young men most of whom they’ve never met. And even if their heart and soul is wrapped up in a game, they themselves won’t be participating or competing in any way. They are, merely,fans.
Which brings me to a popular new book I recently started reading, entitled “Not a Fan.” Author and pastor Kyle Idlerman contrasts the difference between being a fan, and a follower, especially in our relationship with Christ. In a culture where sport and celebrity have become an obsession for so many millions, it would do us all well to understand that difference.
The dictionary defines a fan as “an enthusiastic admirer.” The word itself comes, of course, from the idea of being a fanatic–and we do understand that in our state. But it’s important to note that in reality, a fan sits in the crowd and cheers for the player, the actor, or the cause, but never really gets directly involved. It rarely costs him anything, other than the price of the ticket, the attire, or the required accessories.
But being a follower of Jesus is much more than being a fan. It requires sacrifice, sold-out commitment, and getting in the game. No more sitting on the sidelines. No more kicking back in the Lazy Boy with the pizza, wings, chips and remote control. There is blood and sweat and tears to be offered.
“If anyone would come after Me,” Jesus told His disciples, “he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23). That’s not the call to be a fan, but a disciple. And it’s my hope and prayer for each of you, that you would move beyond being merely a fan, and take your place in the lineup as a fully committed follower of Christ.
I hope all you football fans enjoy the big game on Saturday, however it turns out, even though I realize that about half of you will not be happy with the result. More than that, I hope you’ll realize that at the end of the day, it’s just a game. But the call of Jesus to follow after Him is the stuff of real life, for eternity sake.
May He be honored as you follow Him today. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
This Sunday, Nov. 18, we will have what we call a Family Dedication time during our morning worship service at Shelby Crossings. We usually do it a couple of times a year, so I guess that means it’s sort of a tradition. In a non-traditional way, of course.
To be honest, for a long time I wasn’t much of a fan of baby dedications–even when my own children were babies–and never planned to have them in a church I pastored. There was no particular reason for my disdain, except for maybe a general avoidance of all things ritual and ceremonial. However, several years ago, after a few parents in the church I was pastoring requested a time to publicly dedicate their children to the Lord, I decided to search the Scripture to see what God had to say on the subject.
I found that such public commitments of children were a way of life in the Bible, and expected of parents who were a part of the community of faith. They were not just superstitious rituals, or ceremonial displays. Instead they were times of sincere dedication and commitment of children to God, and of parents to the Biblical task of raising those children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” There was also a mutual dedication by the “community” to share in the responsibility of caring for and discipling those children to godliness.
And so we decided to go for it, and I’ve been participating in these dedications ever since (including the dedication of all six of my children). Still, the reality is that it’s not so much what we do or say publicly during Sunday’s worship service that will reveal our true dedication as parents. It’s what we do privately, when no one else is looking–face-to-face with our little ones, practicing loving discipline, praying for them, teaching them, and showing them how to live a “God-pleasing life.” Our commitment is evidenced by how we make use of the precious opportunities we are given as parents to make a difference in the lives of our children.
That’s what it really means to be a part of the “family” of God. To be dedicated to Him, and to one another. To live out our public commitments in a private way. To be Christian, on Sunday mornings as well as on Friday nights. My prayer for each of you this weekend is that you would truly dedicate yourself to being all that God wants you to be, and commit your family to Him as well.
Let me also take this opportunity, as we approach the Thanksgiving week ahead, to say how very grateful I am for the privilege of serving as your pastor. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from the fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” (Romans 13:1-5)
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the talk of foolish people. Live as free people but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:11-17)
“I urge you, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Let us pray. I’ll see you Sunday.
In case you missed the news, there’s an election a few days away. From the non-stop talk of politics on every news and radio program, to the down-and-dirty attack ads, to the campaign phone calls, to the incessant tweets and Facebook posts from those passionate about their candidates, most of us are just ready to get it over with.
But as much as you may be sick of the rhetoric by now–and even sick of the candidates!–it’s still a crucial opportunity for us as citizens to exercise our rights to vote. I hope that you will not miss the privilege, and Christian responsibility, of participating in the elective process of our local, state and national leaders. Make sure that you are informed of the candidates’ positions and values, especially as they relate to the standards set forth by God’s word.
Then, be sure you make your way to the polling place on Tuesday and cast your vote. This is a chance to take a stand for Biblical values and have your say in how decisions are made in Montgomery and Washington. Recent elections have revealed the importance of just a few votes, and many are calling this election the most important of our lifetime. So don’t miss doing your part.
Still, in the larger scheme of things, there’s an even bigger election you have to vote in, one that requires you casting your “ballot” every day. A few years back, a group of local churches pooled their resources to wage their own campaign, to coincide with an election. The slogan was simple: “Elect Jesus Your Savior and Lord!”
There were road signs, bumper stickers, t-shirts and hats, all aimed at using political-type strategies for getting out the message of Jesus Christ. There were no negative ads in the campaign, accusing the opposition of a laundry list of bad things. The strategy was to let the candidate run on Hisrecord. Campaign flyers called Him “the world’s greatest leader,” who has “changed more lives for the good than anyone that ever lived.”
Now, that’s a real-life platform worthy of our consideration, and it doesn’t come from any political party. Only Jesus can provide real hope, and real change, and He’s got the record to prove it.
May the Lord bless our upcoming political election, that His will be done. I hope you’ll be praying for our nation especially during this crucial time in our history. I also hope you’ll make sure to cast your vote for Jesus as the Lord of all your life, and then choose to “elect” Him to have complete control over your life every day. It’s a vote you’ll never regret casting.
I’m praying for you , and I can’t wait to see you Sunday.”