Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Def Leppard–You are absolutely correct!

“Alright, I’ve got something to say
It’s better to burn out than fade away!”
(www.lyricsfreak.com)

Love it!

I can’t believe Def Leppard agrees with the Apostle Paul!  Those words which I found at the beginning of their song Rock of Ages reminded me of the challenge of both the life and the words of the Apostle.

Several days ago, I watched a Francis Chan sermon (I’d rather watch sermons than television).  After applying the text to the young people in the audience, he focused on the mature.  While doing so, he admitted that he personally did not know many older Chrisitians who were truly wholeheartedly devoted to Christ.  Although he did not mention Caleb, I am drawn to him as I consider the truthfulness in Chan’s observation.

We remember Caleb as the young spy with Joshua who exhibited great faith in God.  But the Bible also informs us that Caleb’s YHWH-fueled faith and courage continued as he aged.  Probably in advance of sixty years, Caleb is found still active on behalf of God and country (Joshua 15)!

Do you see any “fade away” in the person of Caleb?  Not at all!  The same is true of the Apostle Paul!  Neither coasted into eternity.

Do you desire to coast into eternity?

I don’t!

Many of you don’t want to do so!  You want to continue to make a difference in the lives of others until you breathe your last breath.  Some of you actually desire to grow in your ministry effectiveness as you grow older.  That’s awesome!

My encouragement to each of you today is simple.  And, it is stolen from the words of a strong finisher.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Friends–let’s turn every gray hair into another opportunity to do good.  Let us always be abounding in the work of the Lord–even as our physical bodies begin to grow weary.

Without a doubt, it is better to burn out than fade away!

Safety in the Rock Place

You have yet to convince me that cats are intelligent life forms.

Here’s the story.  So as not to further embarrass the feline, pictures are not included.

When I got in my truck to leave work on Friday, I had no idea that a calico cat was hiding behind one of my tires.  Typically a cat will scurry away when you approach or get in a vehicle that it was using for shelter.  Not this cat.  He stayed put.  After starting the truck, I began to reverse out of my parking space.  As soon as I did, however, I felt a bit of resistance.  Thinking it to be a rock or something similar in size, I applied more pressure to the gas pedal.  That’s when I felt the truck slightly rise.  That’s also when I heard a sound that resembled a scream. And a scream it was!

“Hey!  Stop!  You’re driving on me!”

The poor thing limped off into the woods, shaking his head.  If that was the beginning of the end for him, I can only hope several of his nine lives remain!

Hiding behind someone’s truck tire is not the wisest thing to do.

I wonder–Is there a spiritual lesson hidden in this unfortunate event?

I wonder–Where are we hiding?

In one of my favorite Psalms, David calls the Lord his safe spot.

“You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance” (Ps. 32:7)

That sentiment is repeated in Psalm 119:114 where the poet also calls God his shield.  The concept is that of protection.

Due to my new vocation, I often find that my illustrations are related to the computer world.  When the subject of protection is raised, I tend to think of anti-virus and anti-malware software.  Both are needed for any system accessing the internet.  And both need to be active and updated.  But we too often allow them to expire and fail to keep them updated.  And what happens when we do?  We get run over by a truck!  We get a nasty computer virus!  Been there?  I have.  I know many who have!  It’s not a good place to be.

That’s the same place in which we find ourselves when we hide somewhere other than in God.  When we seek safety and security in alternatives to Christ, we unwittingly open ourselves up to attack.  As crazy as it sounds, we consciously put ourselves in positions of danger.

Beloved, this should not be!

This morning I compared the lyrics of two songs–both entitled Rock of Ages.  The first song I considered was from Def Leppard.  I chuckled as I read the meaningless words.  For entertainment’s sake, allow me to share a stanza:

I’m burnin’, burnin’, got the fever
I know for sure there ain’t no cure
So feel it, don’t fight it, go with the flow
Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme one more for the road
(www.lyricsfreak.com)

Now–in contradistinction–I share the words of a classic poem written by Augustus Toplady:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.
(www.hymnsite.com)

Def Leppard wrote a song to celebrate rock ‘n roll.  Augustus Toplady celebrated The Rock of Ages.  Did you notice anything similar in the stanzas I selected?  The word “cure” appears in both.  Apparently there is no cure for the rock ‘n roll fever.  But there is a cure–a double cure–for sin!  That’s why Jesus–as opposed to a rock song or a concert event–is the only truly safe and secure place to hide!

Beware of hiding behind places which appear to be immovable, but only prove to be dangerous when the gear is placed in reverse.  Do not think that you will be protected if your anti-virus is not renewed or your anti-malware has not been updated in forty-five days.  And–if Jesus is your Rock of Ages–stay close to Him!

Lance Armstrong–What kind of a man are you?

Cheat
Lie
Fail as husband
Fail as father
Multiple failed relationships
Former teammates testifying that you are a jerk
What’s next?
I dare not ask
Time to defrag
Time to look in the mirror men
What kind of a man are you?

I wrote those words today at lunch.  The report of Lance Armstrong finally admitting he used performance enhancing drugs dominated sports radio today.  What really stood out to me, however, was the topic raised by ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt.

All men want their Dad to be proud of them.

I think that that is a universal sentiment.  It would be difficult to find a man who did not care about what his earthly father thought.  Deep down, we care.

My Dad is gone.  But my heavenly Father is alive and watching what I do–my actions, my reactions, the level of my faithfulness to my commitments.  And although my Father does not see perfection in me, I very much desire for Him to see consistency.  I want Him to be proud of me as I strive to take my responsibilities seriously.

One of the mantras that my sons often hear from me is: “Do the small stuff right.”  I am training them to do their best in the little so that they might prove faithful in the big.  Lance Armstrong failed in some pretty big (fair-play, truth-telling, family, etc.).  I do not want the same to be said of me.  I especially do not want that to be said of my sons.

Boys–What kind of men will you be?

“Whether, then, you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31

Packers Lose; I win

It was strange.

I turned off the TV before the game had officially concluded.  The 49ers had just gone up by three touchdowns.  The Packers were run out of the play-offs.  And I was happy?!

Before you think that I have completely lost it, please allow me to admit that I very much wanted the Packers’ season to continue!  I had really hoped to see them win another Super Bowl.  And you can bet that I was cheering as they scored all of their twenty-four points.  But the San Fransisco offense, led by a very talented young quarterback, was simply too good for the Packers’ defense.

And another year of rooting for my team had reached its conclusion.

I turned off the television and went to bed with my wife.  The kids were tucked in.  The house was quiet.  And I was happy.

“It’s only a game.”

That’s what I said to Jodi when I realized my unexpected contentment.

“It’s only a game.”  It doesn’t really matter.  My personal satisfaction does not spring from whether or not the teams I like win championships.  My joy is not located in entertainment.

Beloved–I HAVE GROWN!

Rarely do I notice my own spiritual growth.  I see maturity much quicker in others.  Yet I find myself rejoicing this weekend that “I am not as I have been” (From Much Ado About Nothing)! I am also thankful for the means of grace at my disposal, like the local church, prayer and the Word of God.  My plan as this  year continues is to use these–and other gifts of God–to grow in my love of Christ, not this world in which I temporarily reside.

PS–I do still really like the NFL.  What a great ending to the Atlanta-Seattle game!  Hopefully fans on both sides of the line can be joyous in Jesus today!

Not Paying Attention Is Dangerous

I think he was looking at his cell phone.  It may have been the radio.  Whatever he was doing, he was not paying attention.  And–his inattention put me and others in danger.

On Thursday, I was traveling from Dayton to Decatur–a small town across the Tennessee River.  Due to the fact that the HWY between the communities is being widened, there are several construction zones.  As I approached one of them–about one mile from Decatur–I noticed the large, orange flagman sign.  In other words, I needed to be prepared to stop for a one-way traffic zone.  When I neared the flagman, I was watching him closely.  I also read the sign in his hand.  He was looking down at a device.  The flag in the other hand said, “Slow.”  As a result, I cautiously passed him–assuming the lane was mine.

I was mistaken.

After I passed the flagman, he began to wave at me–attempting to get my attention.  From his reaction, I knew that I had better find a place to pull over.  Thankfully, I found a spot on the side of the road (right next to where a supervisor had parked) and was able to avoid the line of oncoming traffic.  Has that ever happened to you?  It was a first for me!  A man assigned to protect me actually put me in danger simply because he wasn’t paying attention.  I pointed that out to his supervisor.

Not Paying Attention is Dangerous.

Let me give you another example.

Jodi and I are reading the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke prior to Easter this year.  We decided to begin in Mark.  Several days ago we read and discussed Mark, chapter two.  Due to the urgency of how Mark wrote his gospel account, I was paying attention.  However, it was clear in the text that not everyone who encountered Jesus was.  I am thinking, in particular, of the Jewish religious leaders.  Jesus was providing God’s “new wine” (2:22), and they were offended that He did not keep the traditions of men (2:18, 22-23).  I wanted to jump into the text and shout, “Pay attention!  God is walking in your midst!” 

I suppose we all need that wake-up call from time to time.

Have you had one recently?

Sometimes we hear, “Pay attention! God is walking in your midst!” as we read His Word.  Other times the message comes through others–like in a blog.  Sometimes experiences remind us that God is for us (Rom. 8:26-39).  As His people, we know that from His Word.  We rest in His promises.  But sometimes–like the Pharisees–we focus on the wrong things.  This morning I was challenged to ensure that the description of Mark 4:19 not be true of me.

“And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the  word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19; NASB).

“The desires for other things.”

Desires for other things assumes a lack of desire for the right things.  The Pharisees had desires.  The Apostle Paul clearly teaches us that these were passionate men.  But they were passionate for the wrong things.  They were zealous for their religion, not for God.  Friends, I deeply hope that the same cannot be said of me!   I want to desire God, for God is the most desirable!  In other words, I want to pay attention to what is most important!  And–I do not want to be “unfruitful.”  Instead, I want to be someone described as “one on whom seed was sown on…good soil…[someone who] hear[d] the word and accept[ed] it and bear[s] fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold” (4:20).

Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (4:9).

Let us hear.  Let us pay attention.  The alternative is danger.

My 2013 Opportunities

In the order that these came to my mind, I thank the Lord on January 1st that:

I have more opportunities to put others before myself (Phil. 2:3,4).

I have more opportunities to cherish Christ, finding Him to be my greatest good (Ps. 73:28).

I have more opportunities to teach my children the Word of God (Dt. 6:1-9).

I have more opportunities to grow in my love for Christ (Dt. 6:5; Mt. 22:37).

I have more opportunities to love my wife like Christ loves His church (Eph. 5:25).

I have more opportunities to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead (Phil. 3:13).

I have more opportunities to bless those within the sphere of my influence (Lk. 10:25-37).

I have more opportunities to work, providing for my family and others in need (Eph. 4:28; Col. 3:23; 1 Thess. 4:11).

I have more opportunities to offer my body as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2).

I have more opportunities to know God and know God’s Word more and more (Ps. 1; Phil. 3:14).

I have more opportunities to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Pet. 2:9,10).

I have more opportunities to pray for those God has placed in authority over me (1 Tim. 2:1,2).

I have more opportunities to teach God’s Word in my home and on the campus (Rom. 12:6-8).

I have opportunities!  You have opportunities!

What are we going to do with them?