August 25, 2011
This summer we took a trip to Kerr lake for an afternoon swim. My wife, baby, sister, two labrador retrievers, and I were crammed into our little Buick. Needless to say, we were packed! We had a great afternoon swimming. As the lazy hours at the lake rolled by, we enjoyed watching a group that was swimming a few yards away. It was a church group, and all throughout the afternoon I remember hearing the kids trying to get pastor Eric’s attention: “pastor Eric, look! Pastor Eric.” As the sun began to set, we decided it was time to pile into the car and head home. All the dogs were situated and our gear squeezed in, but we had a problem. Our car would not start! Now it was 7:00 in the evening, and Henderson is not known for being a very friendly town. But I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that we were broken down near a church group. Here is a chance to see brotherly love at work! I approached the church group, who were still splashing in the water, and hollered for a jump-start. They paused, and then replied that none of them had jumper cables in their cars. They continued playing in the water.
Now, I’m not telling this story because I am bitter or to embarrass this church group. I’ve simply been challenged as I’ve thought about their reaction. Here was a perfect opportunity for them to be the good Samaritan, to go out of their way to help someone in need. I understand that this would have meant ending their swimming early for the night, and probably also driving to a nearby gas station to borrow some jumper cables. But the group did not lift a finger or show even an ounce of concern.
But then came the good Samaritan, in the form of a park ranger. This park ranger was exceedingly patient. He drove me a couple of miles down the road to fetch help, he stayed with me as long as I needed, and he ended up solving the problem. One of our battery cables had become slightly loose. He had a wrench and tightened it for me. As we got in the car to go merrily on our way, the park ranger handed us a prized cantaloupe that he had in the cab of his truck. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the kindness of that park ranger.
Now, some may say that the park ranger was doing his job, and that’s true. But, I still can’t help but feel like the church group missed an opportunity. And that makes me ask myself a few questions: Do I help others even when it is inconvenient. Am I willing to interrupt my leisure to love my neighbor? Do I unknowingly miss opportunities to show the extravagant love of Christ?
I was telling a friend this story last week, and he had a very similar story he shared with me. He and his family broke down on the side of the road within eyesight of a church. It was a Sunday night and the church just so happened to be having a business meeting. My friend walked in and asked for some help. The church instructed him to walk down the hallway, take a left, and there would be a phone that he could use. They continued their business meeting.
Sadly, a lot of believers miss opportunities to love their neighbors. May I always be ready to love someone in need — even when I least expect to do so.
February 7, 2011
TIM DECKER has written a very challenging post entitled “Radical Family.” He writes,
[Have] your parents, children, or spouse become an idol? Remember, God wants all of your love. The result of total devotion to Jesus will be the ability to love your family correctly. That is how husbands fulfill Ephesians 5:25 (husbands, memorize it if you don’t know it!).
Thanks a lot Tim, just when I was starting to get comfortable, you had the nerve to go and remind me of Jesus’ teachings!
November 1, 2010
There is so much joy in knowing that God wants to use me in simple ways to impact the lives of others. To be honest with you, there are many days where I do not feel like even the slightest tangible opportunity came my way. I simply go about my routine mindful of God’s presence, seeking to be faithful in my responsibilities, and willing to be used should God so choose. Saturday, however, was different. It was one of those days where it seemed God heaped opportunities in my lap.
Now, the surprising thing about God’s timing in all of this was that I was not doing anything different than usual on my end. In fact, I had been convicted about several things and had been asking for God’s forgiveness. So there I was, thanking God that his grace is greater than my depravity, when he saw fit to use me.
When I say that He used me, don’t think that I mean anything dramatic, as if I led a dozen people to the Lord, or performed some miracle. Instead, he provided me with open eyes and a willing heart to bless those around me through simple acts of service:
(1) I had the chance to pick up some extra food for a friend who is struggling to pay bills.
(2) On my way home from work Saturday night, there was a man walking along the side of the road with an arm full of groceries. I pulled over and asked if he needed a ride. He gladly got into the car. Driving the few miles to his home took just a few short minutes, but would have taken a couple of hours by foot and would have been somewhat difficult in the dark. We had no earth-shattering conversations as we drove, I simply said, “May the Lord bless you” as I dropped him off at his home. (Incidently, he asked me if I was in high school. I told him that I was done with high school, married, and with a kid on the way. I thought the beard was supposed to solve this problem by making me look older!)
(3) As soon as I pulled in the driveway, my neighbor came over and asked for a favor. He needed help lifting an engine he was rebuilding. I told him sure, and that since the job required brute strength, he came to the right person.
So there you have it. Simple opportunities, but joyful nonetheless. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10 NIV).
June 27, 2010
6 signs that it’s time to check my priorities as a Christian:
1) When other believers know not to bring up certain (secondary) topics around me–I’ll simply become bull-headed, stop listening, and act like an annoying nuisance.
2) When none of the issues I’m passionate about are secondary issues–at least not to me.
3) When I find myself more often in a contentious debate or a heated discussion with another believer, instead of gently encouraging them or contending at their side in the cause of Christ.
4) When I feel that certain passages of Scripture belong more to me than to you. “I’ve spent more time studying that passage! What right do you have to quote it?”
5) When you hearing me becomes more important than me genuinely listening to you.
6) When I know I’m the most spiritual one in any group, and must make sure everyone knows it (but in a humble way, of course).
June 7, 2010
I’m reading through Edward’s Charity and its Fruits and was blessed by his thoughts on Christ-likeness:
The spiritual image of God does not consist in having a power to work miracles, and foretell future events, but it consists in being holy as God is holy: in having a holy and divine principle in the heart, influencing us to holy and heavenly lives. Indeed, there is a kind of assimilation to Christ in having power to work miracles…. But the moral image and likeness of Christ does much more consist in having the same mind which was in Christ; in being of the same Spirit that he was of; in being meek and lowly of heart; in having a spirit of Christian love, and walking as Christ walked. This makes a man more like Christ than if he could work ever so many miracles.
-Edwards, Charity More Excellent Than the Gifts of the Spirit, 55.
May 30, 2010
When my wife and I were newly married, we were advised to occasionally evaluate our relationship. Asking the questions, “How are we doing?” and “How can I love you more?” are great ways of doing so.
I’ve been doing the same lately in my times of prayer with God. I’ve been asking, “Jesus, do I really love you? How can I love you more?”
I think there are several reasons for doing so. We see several examples in Scripture of those whose love grew cold. I think of the Ephesian church in the book of Revelation, a church which had a reputation for being alive and did all sorts of good things, but had lost their first love. In other words, they looked good outwardly, but inwardly had forgotten what it was all about.
I think also of the parable of the soils, particularly of the third soil. These plants were growing, were beginning to form fruit, but were choked by thorns–the worries of this life, the pleasure of the world, the desire for other things. Personally, these three areas are by far the biggest dangers to my love for the Lord. Is anything choking out that love?
Then, there’s those who think they love the Lord, but who really just love the benefits that he affords. They serve him to get the praise of men, respect and reputation, a profitable occupation.
So, do I really love Jesus? How can my love for him grow? 1 John is helpful here, saying “We love him, because he first loved us.” This verse, I think, is not just saying that we begin to love Jesus but continue loving him because of his love. In other words, his love initiates and establishes the grounds for our love, and then continues to fuel it. So then, as I reflect on his great love, my love will be nourished. This great savior died for me, will never leave me, wants to spend the rest of eternity with me, and has lavished on me all of his very best. Yes, as I reflect and worship and praise him for such a love, I find my own love increasing.
April 25, 2010
Jonathan has been preaching through some of Jesus’ parables. Speaking about the parable of the soils, he said that the Christian faith is a fruit bearing plant. “If what you have seems to be a plant, but it’s not producing fruit, I don’t know what you have, but it’s not Christianity!” he said. And last weeks message was about the Good Samaritan. The Pharisee inquiring, “Who’s my neighbor?” asked the wrong question. Rather, Jesus taught that we should ask, “What kind of neighbor am I?”
With this in mind, I have been praying for opportunities to be a doer. Tonight on my way home from work I noticed a moving truck sitting outside my neighbor’s, who is a divorced woman. I wondered if she might need some help. The last thing I felt like doing was helping out after a long day. As I prepared my dinner, I kept feeling like I should go offer my assistance. So I went and simply asked her if she might be in need. Her response: “I’ve got things lined up, but thanks for being a good neighbor!”
December 11, 2009
I am eagerly looking forward to hearing my wife sing this Sunday. Check out these words she’ll be edifying the body with:
Sometimes in the Chaos I forget the real story
God became flesh, the infinite, ultimate You, found in a tiny baby
All because of your love
As you lay in that manger, O Lord
Do you think about me
And know that you gave up your glory
Became a man just so that you could reach me
All because of your love
Tell me the story again for the first time
Babe in a manger, who’s really the Savior of all mankind
Tell me the story again for the first time
Passionate God who would live and would die
All because of your love for me
You came down so humble, so meek, that’s just how you are
The world didn’t know you, went on with their lives
On the day that you were born
All because of your love
And the ones who came to worship were the poor the wretched and The lame
Funny how things never change
For we are the weak become strong, who worship you today
All because of your love
November 30, 2009
I don’t want to be remembered
As a man of great riches,
But as a man who suffered
the loss of all things
and was rich towards God.
Read the rest of this entry »
November 17, 2009
This post is more of a confession than anything.
Yesterday I was busily typing in the Seminary computer lab. Many other students were also typing, giving the computer lab that rythmic whirring sound from the many keyboards. Suddenly our quiet solitude was rudely interupted. “HEY!” Shouted a student. “Does anyone know anything about computers? I need help!” I must admit, by the look on other faces, I was not the only one to feel slightly annoyed. Read the rest of this entry »