Category Archives: OPEN UP TO GOD & OTHERS

WHY GO TO CHURCH? 010816

group of people watching a screenHad an interesting conversation with a couple of brothers today.  One of them, call him Bill, along with his wife, has been searching for a new church home.  The church where they had been going for several years was changing.  Many of the couples they had relationships with had moved away, changed churches, or otherwise lost contact with them.  Several of their friends had gone to one particular church nearby, and they tried that church, but they didn’t like the preachers. The assistant preachers were younger than Bill and his wife, and in their sermons they told stories that were not relevant to Bill’s life.

So for several months (maybe even a year or more) they have been casting about for a ‘new’ church.  They have partially settled on a large church in the area (with an auditorium that seats about 3,000 people, which is filled every Sunday morning.  They like the preaching.  The preachers preach from the Bible and they expect the congregation to participate in application of what is preached to their lives.  And one of the primary reasons for their attendance there is that their 17-year-old son  knows several kids who attend church there and they’re all actively involved in the church activities.  In Bill’s words, “If my son is willing to get up and go to church regularly, then that’s the place for me.”  His wife is not yet so enamored of that church, so they have not yet made a commitment to join.  But they are going to worship services regularly.

I asked Bill if they were involved in any church activities besides attending worship services, and he said no.  He said they don’t say much about personal involvement with small groups in the church.  He said if you want to become involved in small groups you can locate them on their website.  He said at their old church the pastors spent a good deal of time during the worship services on Sunday morning talking about small groups, where they meet, what they’re into, and what they’re studying.  (He even mentioned the “motorcyclists for Jesus” group that meets on Sunday morning before or after church.)  He again mentioned that he and his wife had many friends at the church, but they’d all moved away.  He said that was a substantial difference between the ‘big’ church and their ‘old’ church.  Continue reading

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ORPHANS AND WIDOWS.122815

Male hands with baby - parental love and careJames 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

What is this message?  Take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.  If you take care of the orphans and the widows, God will take care of you.  How do you do it?  There are several ways.  You can make their needs your needs.  You can give them food, shelter and money; and that is very important, considering that so many of them really don’t have enough. You can do what it says in this verse.  You can visit them.  You can become involved in their lives.  You can let them into your heart.  If you open the door just a little, they’ll come in, and your life will be changed. (forever)

Some people actually adopt children.  It’s a hard process, but so fulfilling if you just persevere.  There are many people out there who are actually called to be foster parents (like preachers are called to the ministry).  Some of them start out doing it for what little it pays; but more often than not, they too are changed.  It’s because of that love that God puts in our hearts.  But many kids stay in foster care until they ‘age out’, without ever being adopted.  Often it’s because of behavioral issues; or learning disabilities; or prenatal drug addiction.  Sometimes four or five kids from one family become orphans in one fateful accident.  CPS just can’t keep them all together, and they become ‘lost in the system’. (one by one)  There’s a group called ‘Foundation for Christian Adoptions’ whose mission is to find and help families who are willing to adopt sibling groups.  They do it in all kinds of ways; from making connections between the kids and the parents, to providing housing for such families.

The world is full of ways to help.  Get on the ‘Net and see. God is calling us all to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters in need, especially those who need a momma and a daddy to love them.

SMALL GROUPS FOR JESUS 2.111015

aerial view of family eating pizza at homeThere are a lot of “small” groups in the world, where people get together on a regular basis.  I’ve been a member of a number of them, such as a foursome for playing golf every week.  You get  to know the guys.  You enjoy their company.  You tell jokes.  You catch up on what’s happening in their world, how they’re getting along with their wives and their kids, their bosses and their employees.  In a lot of cases you are closer to them than some members of their own families. And you have the benefit of a little fresh air and a little exercise. (very little) Maybe you have a beer in the 19th hole.

My mother had a long-standing relationship with a bunch of girls she formerly taught school with.  They’d get together and play bridge every week.  None of them were championship bridge players, but that wasn’t the point.  The reason they got together was to share their lives with each other. When they were down they could call each other on the phone and get a little encouragement.  When they were up they could have a special meeting to celebrate.  You know it’s a great thing to have a husband and some kids to share your life with, but the girls in the bridge club are an indispensible part of a full life too.  There’s just some things you can’t, or don’t want to, share with your husband.  LOL Continue reading

SPEAKING SPANISH IS AN ACT OF LOVE.110815

smiley fashion designer holding tailors scissors and looking at cameraSo 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

MAKING DISCIPLES, HOW DO YOU DO IT? 110315

Teenager having daily devotional at home. Christian lifestyle. Peace and love while prayingIf you’re going to make a disciple, presumably you’re going to teach ’em something.  So what are you thinking about teaching them?  I’m of the opinion that if you want to have a lasting effect on someone, the best thing you can do is change their behavior; more to the point, you create some new habit that will stay with them for a long time, like having a quiet time: reading the Bible and some devotional and then talking and listening to God for a few minutes early in the morning each day.  If you don’t do anything but that, and it sticks, it’ll have a profound effect on their lives forever after.

But let me tell you.  It’s not easy to get people started on a new habit, even if it’s short; even if it gives them a whole new outlook on life; even if it changes their hearts and eventually changes their lives.  I’ve talked to my kids (I have four) about this subject on repeated occasions, and so far two have really gotten it.  I’m still waiting, and hoping, and praying that they will get it and keep it forever.  But it just doesn’t work to brow-beat them about it.  Some days I think repetition is the key.  On a good day, maybe they’ll say “Yes, I’ll do it.”  But it’s easy to fall off the wagon, even when you’ve been doing it for a long time.  I know that from experience, so I’m pretty unjudgmental about how, where, and when they have a quiet time.  The really great thing is, God is working! He’s moving in their lives, even when I’m not looking.

 

SHARING YOURSELF.103015

drinks, communication, friendship and people concept - happy young women with cups sitting at table and talking in mall or cafeAwhile ago we started talking about what it means to be a “Practicing Christian”.  We suggested that a “Practicing Christian” is one who practices the fundamentals of Christianity, which include focusing on God every day; making Jesus the Lord of your life; having a quiet time which includes reading the Bible and some devotional, praying, meditating and listening to God (every day); and sharing yourself, your life and your knowledge of God with others, through prayer and share, Bible studies, Church and Christian activities (every day).  You notice I’m stuck on the part about ‘every day’.  That’s what Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would follow Me [be My disciple, My student, My follower], let him deny himself, take up his cross DAILY, and follow Me.”

So today we’re talking about sharing yourself.  After you’ve spent a little time focusing on God and doing the things that are listed above, you’ll see that your relationship with God is beginning to develop, and without even trying you start feeling the urge to say something to other people about what’s happening to you in your heart.  (It’s that change that the Greeks call metamorphosis, sometimes translated into English as “transformation”.)  It’s the same thing that happens when a caterpillar changes from a worm into a butterfly.  That’s us, when we start to spend time focusing on God.  Paul talks about it Romans 12:2. Continue reading

PRACTICING CHRISTIAN 6: Daily Quiet Time, Part 1. Bible.102615

Corinthians 13Just for the record, a “Daily Quiet Time”, is a short (maybe 15 minute) time each morning when we focus our attention on talking to, and listening to, God.  It usually begins with reading a Bible verse or two, and a short devotional from some brother or sister or group, concerning our lives and our hearts as Christians, and writing in a journal the main point of the verse and the devotional.  It ends with a period of sitting (or kneeling) alone, in the Presence of God, and thinking about what I’ve read, how it applies to my life and what is happening to me today, and listening for God to tell me what I should do or think about it.  That’s where the revelations come in.  Do you know that verse/passage in Matthew 11:25-28, where Jesus is talking to God, and He says, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have REVEALED them to babes.

I haven’t been having a “daily quiet time” all my life.  I didn’t know what one was, or even hear the expression till about 10 years ago.  I guess I’ve been reading the Bible early in the morning almost every day for maybe 20 years or longer.  Continue reading