Monday, October 26, 2009

Christian Friends

There are some blessings in life that mean more than others. One of those blessings that bears great significance is the sense of belonging. Many people in this world struggle to ever find their place - in their families, in the communities, in their society. But I am not faced with this particular problem. Why? Because I am a Christian!

One of the best things about being a Christian is that you have family everywhere. When we went to Florida on vacation a few weeks ago, I found some of my family at the South Walton church of Christ. This past Friday and Saturday I spent come time in Kentucky, and got to be with some of my family again - Garrisons, Obrons, Stubblefields, Fortenberys, and Fergusons. I had some great moments just talking with some of my best friends in this world, Greg and Frankie Ferguson, and just catching up on what is going on in their lives.

When Sunday came around, I was in Alamo, TN. Though I missed my wife and children and my family in Lawrenceburg, I was still not alone. I spent the day with my Christian friends. Some who I have never met were there, and some who I have have known and who I have come to respect and love were there as well.

One lady in particular that came to worship reminded me of the importance of the church in my life. Her name is Frances Bruce. She is 97 years old and still drives. She is as sharp as they come. She stopped me before I went up to preach and told me, "You have a friend of mine who worships with you in Lawrenceburg. His name is David Pinckley." She went on to tell me that she has a relative that receives our bulletin. I also found out that her brother and his wife were best friends with David's parents for many years.

I immediately called David and told him about Frances. I know it was a joyous thing for him to hear that she was still living, and to know he had a connection to his parents. I am confident her name being mentioned took him back to precious memories of good times, that could only be available to people who are in the church who have Christian friends.

When you are a Christian, you are never alone. The greatest people on earth become your family. And no matter where you go, even when you are not at home, you can find a place that you can call home for a while.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Reachable Goals

Imagine what it would be like to try and hit something you cannot see. If you have ever been to a birthday party and there was a pinata or a "pin the tail on the donkey" contest, you may remember how difficult some of that was.

How about trying to bowl strikes without being able to see the pins? Actually this is not as hard as you think, because bowling lanes have markers and arrows that make it possible for a person to aim at something other than the actual pins in order to have success. In fact, in 1933, a man by the name of Bill Knox demonstrated this fact. He had a screen placed just above the fowl line so that he could not see any of the pins. He could not see most of the bowling lane, either. But Mr. Knox used this method to bowl a perfect 300 game, 12 strikes in a row!

How did he do it? He used a method called, "spot-bowling." This method simply suggests that a person use a close marker on the lane just past the foul line. You just use the same motion and hit that close mark every time. It makes perfect sense. If your form is good, then easy targets will line you up for success.

The concept that produced "spot bowling" is an idea that really can work for us in our daily Christian lives. We often miss the mark when we place our spiritual targets too far away. We end up feeling like miserable failures and our faith is weakened by how many times we find the gutter. But if we will set reachable goals with nearby targets we will hit them . This involves consistency in form and confidence that God will help us to improve every time we do our best.

Stop looking so far down the lane! Find a reachable spiritual goal and hit it! Hit it again, and again! You will find that in attaining reachable goals, you will have the confidence to be a stronger Christian than you ever thought possible.

Being a Christian is not as difficult as many people make it. It is not about your perfection, it is about faith, obedience, determination, and executing the simple plan of the One who will perfect all things for us.

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 3:14

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Greatness of Goodness

Bernie May made the following remarks in "Learning to Trust":

For the past forty years Eunice Pike has worked with the Mazatec Indians in south-western Mexico. During this time she has discovered some interesting things about these beautiful people. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked, "Who taught you to bake bread?" the village baker answers, "I just know," meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone's help. Eunice says this odd behavior stems from the Indian's concept of "limited good." They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well--"Have a good day"--means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired.

While this concept of living seems to make no sense, there are many of us who in practice also believe in the concept of limited goodness. We feel our energy and time are often too important to be wasted on others. We decide what our limits are with regard to how often we pray, read the Bible, worship, do benevolence, and share the gospel. We tend to think there is a point at which we have done enough.

Jesus once said, "
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away" (Matt. 5:40-42). The Son of God taught that true religion was goodness beyond measure. It has no limitations. It seeks no completed time. It is simply an attitude that is born out of godliness which grows into a life spent on the consideration of others.

If goodness subtracts anything from our true self, it is only worthless ambition and pride. Goodness actually amounts to greatness when humility is involved. This is what our Savior meant by the last being first and the first being last. Until you come to the conclusion that the best thing for your advancement is to get in the back of the line, your life will be vacant of the power of the cross.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." ~ Galatians 5:22-23

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Omnipresence of God

An elderly woman met a preacher while traveling across the country by train. As they talked she told him how lonely she had become since her crippled daughter had died. She was used to caring for her, and had done so all of her life. In spite of all the heartaches and labor in caring for her sick child, when she could no longer watch her bed, an insurmountable feeling of emptiness came into her life.

The man gave her great advice. He told her to greet Jesus each time she came into her home. After the greeting, she was to tell him about her day. If someone had been kind or unkind, if something interesting or significant had occurred she was to share it with Jesus. She was to tell him about her life and talk about all of the things that she would normally have talked about with her daughter.

The woman took his advice. Within six months she believed that not only had she overcome her loneliness, but she had gained a best friend. She had no time to think about her loss, because she was so busy buidling her relationship with the Lord.

There has never been a human being, except Jesus, who ever had to go without God for even one minute outside of their own choice. David once asked of God, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Psalm 139:7). Truly God is everywhere, and is with us at all times if we would just recognize him and talk with him and share with him our lives.

We are supposed to be spending our earthly time living in such a way that we will assure ourselves of an eternity with the God who created us. If we are going about it in the right way, this means we are literally fleeing unto him, running into arms that are willing to embrace us with love at the end of the road.

We need to remember that God has never left us. He wants to be in our hearts and in our homes. He wants us to lean on him and live in harmony with him. He wants to be at our very core and live as the most important thing in our lives. God is right here. He is not going anywhere. He is at our door and ready for us to tell him all about it.

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." ~ Psalm 16:11