“We take in strays, orphans and widderwimen.” (see James 1:27)
Y’all all remember Lois. She was the old lady that used to babysit for us when Lindsey was a little baby. She was pretty crazy, and she had a drinkin’ problem off and on during her life. She had some pretty hard times, what with her husband dying when he was a young man, and them having a boy with Downs Syndrome. She had to raise that boy by herself. He lived to be about 20 years old. But oh what a caring heart that lady had. She was like a member of our family. She went camping with us in Big Bend; and she took y’all fishing at her lake house. She took us out there to feed the chickens and have puppies in her living room floor. She needed us and we needed her, and God saw to it that we all got what we needed, which was mostly somebody to love us, and hug us, and answer the phone when the call came in the middle of the night. I was glad to know her.
And there was this guy named Dave Twoomey. I’m not sure how it happened (somehow thru the church I think) but we ended up with his wife and two little girls living in the basement apartment while he was sitting in jail for kiting checks. Somehow or other he finally got out after about a month and they all left; but in the meantime we fed ‘em and talked to them about Jesus; and got ‘em clothes and stuff. I don’t think we changed their lives or anything, but something was going on. And at the time God had blessed us with extra stuff and money; so it didn’t hurt us one bit. We even gave him a Bible, but I think he left it there when he left.
When I first got baptized in the Spirit, I was working for Paul Campbell remodeling apartments. He had this cabinetmaker named Jim Haynes who was a recovering alcoholic who hadn’t quite made it to recovery. One time he didn’t show up for work for 3-4 days and Paul got me to go with him to Jim’s apartment to see about him. He was so drunk he couldn’t even get his clothes on, so we helped him. Continue reading →
I thought Karma was like Gal. 6:7-8, “Reap what you sow.” But the Hindu man on the plane explained Karma to the preacher. He said, “Karma means that you get exactly what you deserve, based on what you did in your life.” The preacher answered, “I don’t get what I deserve, because Jesus died for me on the cross and His blood redeemed me from all that I have done.” So there really is “No condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, to those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. We don’t have to pay for all the bad things we’ve done! We are free!!! We’ve been delivered from sin and death. (and from the “wheel of existence”, as the Hindus might say.)
‘Course I guess you might say that Karma (as the Hindus perceive it) applies to your ‘natural’ life, in the sense that there are consequences for our actions. We end up being responsible for the things we do, whether we like it or not.
But in the spiritual realm, Jesus has provided us a way to be delivered from the sin that so easily attacks us. If we trust Him, Jesus will (and DOES) deliver us from sin and death.
Just between me and you, I think God lets that deliverance seep over into our (us believers) ‘natural’ lives as well. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
This is my last post about “small groups for Jesus”, at least for the time being. I just have a few more comments to make.
1] In my opinion, small groups are like family; they’re not about enforcing rules, and everybody being disciplined; they’re about letting God’s love flow through you into other people. You may not believe this, but I’m convinced that almost every single person is acutely aware of their short-comings, and what they really need, on a regular basis, is encouragement and moral support. (I find a lot of support for this attitude throughout the Bible; call it grace and mercy) Small groups are, and should be, about sharing and expressing the fruits of the Spirit; and while self-control is one of the fruits and is therefore important to God and should be important to us; it is the very last thing on the list. Wonder why that is? (I don’t even know if there IS a hierarchy of the fruits, but I hear a lot more about love in the Bible than I do about self-control.)
2] One of the central, indispensible ingredients of a small group is trust. Continue reading →
So I went to the fabric store with my wife yesterday. I’m telling you, my wife knows more about fabric and fabric stores than most of the people who work there. She is buds with almost all the little ladies that work in the fabric stores in our area; on a first-name basis, if you know what I mean. My job was to hold her place in line at the cutting table while she picked out the material and the pattern she needed. So mostly I just get to watch and listen; maybe put in a little side-bar or two.
There were two ladies working the cutting tables, measuring and cutting the material. At my table was a grandmother and her late teen granddaughter buying bright picture-pattern fleece material. The cutting lady was showing them how to do some complicated sewing maneuver. I said, “This is a great store. You can buy material and get free sewing lessons.” We all laughed. The grandma said, “We need all the help we can get.”
At the other table was a family of Hispanic ladies, an ‘older’ lady (not as old as me, but older than the others), two younger ladies and two or three children. Continue reading →
Yesterday, I talked about how most mornings I read a few devotionals and Bible verses; I write the pertinent points in my journal; and then I get down and have a conversation with the Lord; and when I listen, He tells me how the passages fit together. So . . . today—
MAX (Lucado) says: Psalm 37:23-24 reminds us the steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand. It’s essential you understand this— God’s grace is greater than your failures!
OSWALD (Chambers) says: We are saved by what Jesus did on the cross. Not by what we do. Not because we are sorry for our sins or because we repent, but because of God’s grace, we are justified. Because we recognize that it applies to us. [and accept the gift of Christ’s atonement.]
CHARLES (Stanley) says: Paul’s life demonstrates what it means to give Jesus first place. Because the apostle made Christ the Lord of his life (Gal. 2:20), he knew joy amid trials and received the strength to face turmoil and difficulty. These blessings will also be ours when we give highest priority to our relationship with Jesus.Continue reading →
When I was about 50, I figured out God wants me to ‘make disciples’ for Jesus. What does it mean, ‘make disciples’? It means two things:  tell people what they need to do to have a personal relationship with God, and  teach them what they need to do to grow and develop as followers (disciples) of Jesus. I’m 66 now, and I’m starting to get number ‘2’ down. I’m really learning to teach people to “observe all things [Jesus] has commanded us.” Matthew 28:19-20. Sometimes we have a real ‘victory in Jesus’ in that area. PTL!
But I still struggle with number ‘1’. I never quite know what to say to start a conversation about God. Most of the time I ask questions like ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘What do you like to do?’ Pretty soon you stumble on something you have in common. Continue reading →
In Psalm 18:25-27, David says, “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.” In Matthew 5:3-12, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed (happy) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the meek (the humble) for they shall inherit the earth.” Continue reading →
My friend Red Smith, serving a 25 year sentence, sent me a letter one day, and it began with this line, “I thank God every day that he delivered me from myself.” That’s all I remember, but it’s enough. That leads me down several paths, but the one for today is what is really going on in God’s plan to deliver us from ourselves and all the other evil that is lurking out there.
The truth is this: that God sent his Son to save us: and the way He chose to save us is by changing us from the inside out. He saves by delivering us from the evil that is in our heart. The war between the flesh and the Spirit, between Satan and God, between God’s will and my will, is one that is going on in my heart. When God sends His Spirit to move in our lives, He doesn’t change our circumstances to affect our world, He changes our hearts so we see things differently. When we are changed inside, that changes what happens to us on the outside. Oh, God uses all kinds of things in the world to get my our attention, but his main purpose is to have us surrender our hearts to Him so that we can begin to see His eternal design for our lives. A good example is the Prodigal Son, it says, “When he came to himself, he said, ‘I will return to my father.’ ” It was because his heart was changed.
Two brothers and I had a discussion in our office building this morning. We do this once a week usually; to talk about what God is doing in our lives. This time we were talking about the standard we use to decide what is right and wrong in making decisions in our lives. We were talking about whether it’s right (OK) to use torture to get our enemies to tell us what they know about their plans and operations. One brother said it is definitely OK to sacrifice one guy’s comfort (or even his life) to save the lives of a bunch of others, especially if those people are ‘our’ people. He said it was reasonable, even admirable to act in that fashion. Continue reading →
Can we be changed? Yes, but not by ourselves. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” To be changed, we must accept the gift of God. We must realize how badly we need Him, and then give our whole selves to Him, and trust Him to take care of us, because we finally figured out we can’t take care of ourselves.
The guys at your family table are your brothers. Christ’s challenge to you is to take care of them. To stick up for them. To meet regularly with them for prayer and share group.Continue reading →