Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Going to Work with Dad

A short story:

Today Tommy woke up excited.  Today he didn't have to go to school.

But that wasn't why he was excited.

Today Tommy woke up excited because he got to go to work with his dad.

Tommy's dad called the school secretary on Monday to tell her that Tommy would not be in class with Mrs. Meiers on Friday.  And today is Friday and Tommy is excited.

Tommy woke up excited and sprang out of bed.  Without his mother's nagging he shot up and went straight to the bathroom to shower.  After showering he brushed his teeth, without being begged to do it.  After brushing his teeth, Tommy put on his work clothes including the jeans with the carpenter's hook for his hammer.  Tommy was ready and excited to go to work.

When Tommy's dad got to the front door to leave he didn't have to yell for Tommy because Tommy was there with his shoes on and half a Pop Tart in his hand and the other half in his mouth.  Tommy was ready and excited to go to work.

So, Tommy and his dad walked out to the driveway where Tommy's dad's big F-250 truck awaited.  Tommy climbed into the passenger side which was no easy task for a young guy Tommy's size.  Tommy then quickly put on his seat belt and sat ready and excited to go work.

As Tommy and his dad drove to the worksite, Tommy looked out his window down at the little Prius and Civic next to them at the red light stop.  Tommy felt like a big man on his way to work.

Once they reached the worksite Tommy and his dad got out of the truck.  Tommy was ready and excited to work.  They went straight to work and Tommy's dad handed him a hammer, which Tommy promptly slid into the carpenter's hook in his jeans.  It was finally time for Tommy to do some real carpentry work.

Tommy's dad started several nails into the board and said, "Alright, I need you to finish hammering these nails into the board.  This is a very important job."

Tommy pulled his hammer out of his carpenter's hook in his jeans and approached the first nail.

"Clap" "Whack" "Clunk" "Whack" "Clap" "Dunk" "Dunk" "Dunk" "Whack" "Dink" "Whack"

Tommy's hammer hit the board just as many times as it hit the head of the nail and when it did hit the nail the nail bent to the side and Tommy had to straighten it and whack it again.  The board had little hammer halos surrounding the nail Tommy had just driven into it.

"Good work, buddy!" said Tommy's dad as he continued to keep a close eye on Tommy.

Tommy beamed.  He was ready and excited to keep working with dad.  And guess what?  Tommy's dad let him work with him all day.  And even as Tommy worked he was ready and excited to work with his dad again on another day.

Could Tommy's dad have gotten the work done faster without Tommy?  Did he need Tommy's help to get the job done?

We all know the answers to those questions, but to Tommy it doesn't matter because he got to go to work with his dad.

It's the same way with us and God.  He allows us to go to work with Him even though He could do it faster and better and even though He doesn't need us to get the job done.  The question is, are you ready and excited to go to work with Dad?

Be ready and excited to go to work with Dad today.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Answered Prayer and Pillows (A.K.A. Why I Love My Church)

I know many of you reading this blog do not go to my church, Grace Baptist in Waverly, IA.  That being said I want to brag on my church and tell you about how God answers prayers.

I'll start the story from the beginning.

My small group has just started going through a study by N. T. Wright called "Surprised by Hope".  Last week was our first week of the study and I'll already say that I highly recommend it.  Anyway, at the end of the first session we were asked to pray the following things: "Pray for eyes to see the needs of the community around you.  Pray for your local church to become a beacon of hope in your community."

We specifically talked about how our community has greater needs than we first think.  As an example I began to describe the needs at Cedar Valley Friends of the Family www.cvfriendsofthefamily.org.  So, we prayed that our group would have a concrete way to be a beacon of hope for an organization like Cedar Valley Friends of the Family.

That prayer brings us to this morning.

This morning in the announcements at church that specific prayer was answered.  Pastor Brian said that Grace was pledging to provide pillows for Cedar Valley Friends of the Family (an organization I can't ever remember us giving to).  In the bulletin was a perforated sheet that could be filled out to pledge to give a pillow.  When that announcement was made I heard a cascade of tearing as people tore out the sheets to pledge a pillow.  It was awesome and immediate.  I almost teared up.  It was a fantastic reminder of one of the reasons I love my church.  People are people and differences will exist and frustrations will be expressed from time to time; but boy do they love.

This morning was great.  I had God respond to my prayer request quickly and clearly; and on top of that He reminded me again of the loving brothers and sisters He surrounded me with.  Sorry Pastor Jim, but that is the good news I heard this morning and that good news was proclaimed loudly in a cascade of tearing bulletins.

Now if you are a part of Grace and you missed this morning you still have the opportunity to give.  Bring a new pillow to church Sunday or before Sunday I guess.  We, as a church, have pledged to give twenty pillows but we are going to blow that number out of the water.  If you have any questions call the church 352-1464.  If you are not a part of Grace I'd encourage you to remember why you joined your community of believers.  I can tell you that it's so good to remember the blessing God gave us when He gives us a community of brothers and sisters.

God answers prayers.  Amen!  God puts the lonely in families.  Amen!  Thank God for His many blessings and for the community of believers He has given you today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jesus the Thirst Quencher

Everyone remembers that Gatorade's tagline used to be "the thirst quencher."  In John 7:37-38 Jesus claims to be the thirst quencher.

"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." John 7:37-38

I've always thought that this was a neat passage, but I never saw the significance until I took a deeper look at what the Feast was and what Jesus was claiming to be.  Hopefully you'll be as amazed as I was after I explain it.

The Feast in this passage is the Feast of Tabernacles (which is briefly explained in Leviticus 23:33).  On each day of the feast there was a procession of priests to the pool of Siloam to draw water.  The priests then would return to the temple, where the water was taken in procession once around the altar with the choir singing Psalms 113-118, and then the water was poured out as a libation at the morning sacrifice.  All day and all night celebration surrounded this ceremony.  The celebration was associated with Isaiah 12:3 "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."

Jesus came to the Feast "on the last and greatest day of the Feast."  On the last day the same procedure was followed except the procession circled the altar seven times instead just once.  The last day of this ceremony reached a fever pitch of excitement.

It was during this awesome celebration that Jesus shouted "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."  Jesus was claiming to be able to offer people the water of salvation.  In fact, Jesus was saying even more than that.  Ezekiel 47 talks about a deep and wide river that flowed out of the temple that cause trees to provide food and healing leaves.  Revelation 22 describes the River of Life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  This tree also provides healing leaves for the nations and food.

Jesus, as He stands in the Temple, is claiming to be the source of the River of Life.  Jesus is making a bold, bold claim.  And, get this, because of His bold claim we can boldly claim the promise of sustenance, healing and salvation that His claim provides.

How awesome is this passage!  Go to Jesus and drink today.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What is Worship?

This morning in discussion with some guys the question was raised, "What is worship?"  This question is central to the Christian life because we were created to worship.  Let me first show one passage that tells us that we are created or at least chosen to worship.

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."
1 Peter 2:9

Christians were chosen by God to worship Him.  We were chosen that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.  To further this point let me share with you a catechism of our faith.  In the Westminister Shorter Catechism the first point is this:

Q: "What is the chief end of man?"
A: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."

So, we were chosen to worship God.  Therefore, true worship requires that we be born again.  As 1 Peter says, "that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."  We must be called out of the darkness into the light because otherwise we are unable to see God.  To be in the darkness is to not correctly see God.

But we are still left with the question, "What is worship?"

Here is what worship isn't.  It isn't only something done once a week in a pew.  It isn't only trying to make ourselves worthy of the calling.  A. W. Tozer put it well when he said, "We please Him (God) most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections and believing that He understands everything... and loves us still."

Here is what I think worship is: Worship is anything that demonstrates what one values or desires.

Given that definition we need to make sure that we are worshipping God.  A lot of what I do demonstrates that I value and desire myself or money or people.  How much of what I do demonstrates that I value and desire God?

We are left with another question.  "Why do we worship God?"  "Does He need it?"

First, let me say that God absolutely, without question, does NOT need our worship.  Why then does He ask for it?  He asks for it because we benefit from worshipping Him.  We were created and chosen to worship Him.  We are fulfilled by fulfilling our purpose.  We need to worship God; He doesn't need us to worship Him.

Secondly, we worship God for our own good.  We humans were designed to appreciate greatness.  Why else would we drive to the Grand Canyon to look at it?  Does the Grand Canyon need us to look at it in awesome wonder?  No; rather our spirit longs to be wowed.  God can wow our spirit in ways the Grand Canyon never could.  A. W. Tozer said, "The blessed and inviting truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings, and in our worship of Him, we should find unspeakable pleasure."

Worship is not just singing.  It should be everything we do and we should be thrilled in doing it.  Again, worship is anything that demonstrates what one values or desires.  Does your life demonstrate that you value and desire God?  Are you thrilled in Him?

Worship God in spirit and in truth today.