Monday, July 21, 2014

There's work, and then there's Work

Matthew 7:
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

I remember my first real job.  When I say real job, I mean my first job that was hard work.  I'd mowed grass and stuff, but that wasn't really all that bad.  Mow some grass, make a little cash.  No biggie.  No, my first real job was hanging dry wall with my papaw.  That was Work.  It was hot, it was sweaty, it was hard, it was tiring.  I still remember how hard it was to hold those pieces of sheet-rock up on the ceiling of a room while my papaw did his best to get the piece screwed into ceiling before my arms gave out.  

Mowing grass earned me some money, but I didn't really consider it work.  Hanging sheet-rock was a whole different matter.  I earned a lot more money, but man, it was harder work.  This section of the book of Matthew kind of goes along with the same theme.  There's work, but then there's Work. 

There's two types of work described in these verses.  The one group did all kinds of amazing things: they cast out devils, they almost certainly healed the sick, and they gave good words of encouragement or even prophetic statements.  But what did Jesus think of their work? 

The second instance of work: can you find it? "24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:"  The work that Jesus really found impressive was not the flash stuff, the big stuff that gets the attention of the crowds.  The work that really impressed Jesus was simply hearing what Jesus said and then doing what Jesus said.  He compares those who do those things with wise men, master builders, those who's work stands up to the storms of life.  

There's nothing wrong with mowing grass, and there's nothing wrong with working for the Lord.  But, I think what Jesus finds more impressive is following him and obeying him. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Getting Serious

Matthew 5:13,20

Yesterday, I stayed home from work and took care of my kids as my wife has been battling some illness the last couple days.  First thing, we went outside so they could ride their bikes.  I got out a folding camping chair and sat out reading my bible while they raced and laughed and smiled.  I read from a different version of the bible than the one I normally read. 

You see, I have this weird struggle with trying to read the word, but not letting it get so familiar that it loses its punch.  I don't want to be so familiar with it, that I just kind of gloss over it as, "Yeah, I've read that before."  If I may use an illustration: When I was dating my wife Jamie, I never would have shown up to see her in some sweatpants and an old t-shirt with paint marks all over it.  It doesn't matter if it was our 3rd date or our 30th date, I was going to take a shower, wear clean clothes, and probably splash on some kind of aftershave. 

But things change.  We've been married 14 years now, and there's been more than a couple days where I wore my pajamas most of the day and/or didn't shower.  Being familiar with her, in some ways, allows me to be a little sloppy.  I'm not saying it's right, but it happens. 

So yesterday I'm reading and watching my kids play and I run into Matthew 5:13; it kicked me in the gut.  "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."  Am I taking God seriously?  Am I taking his commands seriously, or am I playing at them, glossing over them like a magazine that I've read before in a Dr.'s office?  And then to finish off the one-two punch, I ran straight into verse 20, "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

The scribes and pharisee's were masters of religion.  They knew the right words to say, they knew the scriptures backwards and forwards.  They knew the rituals and requirements, but they didn't live it out.  They didn't live out, "love God with all your heart."  They didn't live out, "love your neighbor as yourself." Instead of living out the blessed life characteristics we see at the beginning of chapter 5 (poor in spirit, meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, peacemaking, persecuted for being righteous, persecuted for living according to my faith and being like my master Jesus)...I'm wondering if my life doesn't look more like the good moral atheist, or agnostic down the street?  I'm wondering what devout Muslims think of my faith when my holy scripture and my life don't mesh up.  I'm wondering how I got so sloppy with my faith and the commands of the Son of God?

If salt loses it's saltiness, the only remedy is to get new salt.  The old salt is good for nothing but being thrown out, so I'm throwing some attitudes, habits, and behaviors out as their righteousness.  It won't be easy, but needed things seldom are.  Serious things aren't easy, so if you would, pray for me.  Thanks. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kind of Different Post Today

Proverbs 16
9 The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Well, no anecdotal story today folks. I just want to jump right in and be real with you for a bit. Verses like this one mess with me. I don’t like them, to be very honest. If I’ve made my plans, but the Lord directs my steps, trying to rationalize and internalize it, it means that some of the roads I’ve been down, even the ones I don’t like or the ones I’m ashamed of, were directed by God.  I grew up where I grew up because God directed it.  I went to school where I went to school because God directed it.  I went down roads and paths that caused scars because God directed it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that God has it out for you.  He doesn't.  And I'm not saying that he’s trying to make you sin by leading you down some paths. It’s written that God has no part of sin and doesn’t tempt men to sin. I’m not saying, “God made me do it.” But what I am saying is that God takes us places. He took his Son places, so why should we expect any more or less. It’s written in Matthew ch.4 how Jesus was lead into the wilderness by the spirit to be tempted by the devil.

Verses like this fly in the face of the cozy old bearded man God that just spoils us rotten, the kind of God we would like to have. No. This God is different. He directs our steps, and sometimes that means directing us to places we’d rather not go. Sometimes the places we’re lead to are places of trial and testing, and sometimes we’re lead beside the still waters that flow through fertile valleys.

I guess this verse stood out to me today because I see more and more in my own life how I try to treat God more as a doting grandfather than The Almighty, The All-Powerful, The One that We Can’t Bear to Look Upon. This verse reminds me that God, the real God, has plans, and he’ll see them through. He doesn’t leave all to chance and to the whims of men. No matter what happens today, or this week, or this month, rest assured that God is the one directing men’s steps. And we know from scripture (Romans 8:28) that in all things, God works for the good of those that love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I don't like that I'm being directed, and sometimes to scary places.  But I can rest in the fact that God loves us.  He wants to build us up into what he had envisioned us to be at our creation, and he's working day and night to chip away at the stone we're encased in to reveal the beautiful sculpture we're meant to be. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Spotlight Tag

Proverbs 15
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.

During the summer when I was a kid, we’d play spotlight tag. All the kids who lived in our little corner of Corinne Bottom would meet up at the basketball goal by the Shifflette’s house. We’d scrounge up a flashlight, and the game was on. You could hide in yards, under cars, in trees. We were hard core. The secret of a good hiding spot for me was picking a small place kind of out in the open and stay absolutely motionless. Other kids would hide in normal kind of hiding spots. I’d hide beside a porch or by a bush by a house and no one could find me.

The point of spotlight tag was to avoid the light. If you get caught in the light, well, that’s it, you’re done, game over, you’re now it. And nobody wants to be it. Being it is the worst. So, you find a dark spot, and you keep quiet. After a while, your eyes get used to the dark; you become accustomed to it.

I think we still play this game, or try to play it with God. We don’t want the light to shine on us. It’s too bright, people might see where we’ve been in the dark. We try to convince ourselves otherwise, but you can’t really hide from God. Adam and Eve tried it and God found them. I believe it was King David who said that even if he went to the pits of hell to hide the Lord would find him there.

You see, we tend to think the Lord wants to put the light on us to put us on the spot, to shame us, to drag us kicking and screaming into the light so that our dark deeds will be revealed. But for God, it’s not a game of spotlight tag. He doesn’t want you to be it. He wants to set us free. He sent his Son, not to judge us or shame us, but to be it for us. The eyes of God see all men, good and evil. He seeks them out, not to expose their hiding spots, but to free them from a live of hiding and cowering in the shadows.  He offers a new chance.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Proverbs 14
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
That one may avoid the snares of death.

Chocolate fountains. Fruit punch fountains. But, there’s something about little kids and water fountains. My kids love to get a drink from a water fountain. Stores, parks, schools- all are ripe fields for some sweet water fountain goodness. I remember when I was a kid, one of the coolest things about school was that they had water fountains. I don’t know, for kids, there just seems to be something magical about it.

So, whenever I see the word fountain, my mind automatically goes back to grade school and water fountains and how my kids just can’t seem to pass one up. Fear of the Lord is a fountain. It’s not a chocolate fountain; it’s not a punch fountain. It’s something way better. A fountain of life. Too often, I think I’m content with a little trickle of life, when what God wants for me, and what Jesus provides, is a gushing living fountain of life.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Leaving a Legacy

Proverbs 12
3 A man will not be established by wickedness,
But the root of the righteous will not be moved.

I think for most men, legacy is important. We want to do something or leave something that lasts. We want to make an impact that makes the world different, and hopefully better, than it was before we were here.

How do I, as a normal everyday guy, leave a legacy or make a mark on the world? I’m not a rich guy. I’m not a powerful guy. Does that matter? What establishes a man, and allows him to put down lasting roots/foundations?

Over and over we read that it’s not riches that last. Power and influence rarely get passed down from generation to generation. If God’s word is true, and I believe it is, the way you and I can leave a legacy, the only legacy that will count and last in the face of eternity, is a legacy of righteousness. Fame is fleeting; riches disappear in an instant with a swing in the stock market.

But righteousness…the root of the righteous will not be moved. Though a storm comes through and ravages the plant, it’s roots hold firm and ensure new growth. The root of the righteous is held and nourished by God, the very word of God.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Proverbs 11
19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.

I remember the first 401k I contributed to. Make no mistake about it, I know next to nothing about stocks and mutual funds. The performance of that account bears witness to it. This was before the great recession, and it appeared from my statement that I was just giving money away. It was bad.

We all make investments every day. Every minute that goes by, every word that’s read, every word that’s spoken, and every relationship is an investment. God’s word tells us that we’ll reap what we sow. If we invest righteousness, we’ll reap it and vice versa. Today’s verse is another reminder: Dump those stocks that don't line up with righteousness, and invest heavily in God’s heavenly accounts.