We exist to TAKE the gospel to all people, to TRANSFORM hearts to be like Jesus and to TRAIN disciples to make more disciples.

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GO TOWARD THE LIGHT

March 11, 2010

This past week I was working on my sermon.  I was sitting at the computer pecking away at the keys.  Over my shoulder, illuminating my fingers as they tapped their way across the keyboard, was a light bulb from a single lamp.   As the thoughts of my mind melted through my fingers and spilled on my monitor, my concentration became distracted by the flickering of that light source.  First, I thought the blub was about to blow.  I expected any moment to be in the dark with my face reflecting the glow of my computer screen.  The flickering continued, but now I was hearing a tapping sound---not made by my dancing fingers across my computer keys.  I stopped my typing and looked behind me only to find a single moth flying around the light.  I thought, hasn’t it been too cold for these little creatures?   In the moth’s confusion it was hitting against the hot bulb with its hard head and burning its velvet soft wings.


     This event brought a question to my mind:  “Why would this insect be so attracted to the light?”  So I brought up my web browser and began my research.   The answer to my question surprised me.  

Moths spend most of their time sleeping, looking for food, and looking for mates.   Most of the time they sleep is during the day.  Their search for dinner and procreation takes place at night.  Moths by their very nature are not fortunate enough to be provided with maps, street signs, or neon lights flashing “EAT” to guide them to feeding or mating spots.

They use starlight, and particularly moonlight, for navigation.  By maintaining a consist angle in reference to the light source, the moth knows where to fly.  Unfortunately for these insects, however, humans introduce artificial light sources that lull the moths into assuming that a light bulb is actually their natural reference point.

An English biologist, R. R. Baker, developed the hypothesis that when moths choose the artificial light source as their reference point, and try keeping a constant angle to it, they end up flying around the light in ever-smaller concentric circles until they literally settle on the light source.  Baker even speculates that moths hover on or near the light because they are attempting to roost; falsely believing that it is daytime, their regular sleeping hours.  Moths have been known to burn themselves by resting on light bulbs.  Others become so disoriented that they can’t escape until the light is turned off or true sunlight appears.

Christians do the same thing, don’t we?   We are supposed to navigate through life by using the Son as our Light, our natural reference point.   Yet, we find ourselves in a dark moment of our lives and we head for the first thing that glitters:  a new car, a fancy house, a quick fix or easy money.   When we need to be waiting for the True Light we begin chasing after the artificial.  Often we end up running in circles seeking for a place to rest only to get burned in the end. 

Have you lost your direction?      In John 9:5 Jesus reminds us, “I am the Light of the world.”   He is our True Source of light.   2 Corinthians 11:14 warns, “Satan is an angel of light.”    Don’t be fooled by Satan’s synthetic creations.    Let your light shine because you are reflecting the True Light.   Become so accustomed to the True Source that you will not be tricked into following deception.

The next time you see a moth heading straight for a flicker of light remember he is not flying toward the bulb, but he is looking for the moon.  Bear in mind the lesson of the moth: Don’t settle for a glimmer of light when you should be seeking the moon---the true source of light.

 

SEVEN STEPS TO GOD'S WILL

February 16, 2010

      One of the most frequent questions asked of me as a preacher is "What is God's plan for my life?"  Everyone sometime or another seeks an answer to this question:  teenagers, parents, grandparents, handicapped and the educated all want to know if God has a plan for their lives.   Godly people desire to be where God wants them to be, but because God is not always specific to our situation people find themselves searching.  They are searching for the right move, the correct direction, and the proper response; all because they are seeking after a sincere purpose for their lives.   So they come to me, sit in my office, and sincerely ask, “What is God’s plan for my life?”

There is something you need to know.  Whether you're flipping hamburgers in the middle of nowhere or just about to receive a highly acclaimed college degree, be assured that God has a perfect, blessed, and exciting plan for you.   He says so in His Word:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10, ASV)

Once a person recognizes that they are not placed serendipitously on this earth, but that they are predestined to walk out a perfect plan for their life, designed by God Himself, the quest for their destiny begins.

But where do we start?  Here are seven steps you can take to find God's will for your life:

1.
     
First Of All Submit To God’s Program.

This seems obvious, doesn’t it?  Yet, this is where the majority miss it.  In our society many have claimed as their theme the Frank Sinatra song "Do it My Way."   Most people live their lives playing a tug of war game with the Lord.   They want God to lead them but then they pull against Him to do it their way.    Why would you ever want to design your own life, when your possibilities are so vastly limited compared to His?  Besides, He is more interested in your well-being than you are and we must not forget that His wisdom is greater than ours.

So the beginning to knowing God’s will for your life is to begin to stop pulling against Him and surrender to Him---willing to follow Him in whatever direction He has for you.

2.      Draw Closer To Him.

Check your datebook.   It probably reveals how busy you really are.   Meetings, doctor appointments, ballgames, church events, school programs fill the spaces with very few free days.   Then there are other responsibilities not noted on your calendar  that also steal your time:  laundry, cleaning house, mowing the lawn, fixing the deck, painting the kid’s room, repairing the desk drawer, grocery shopping and on and on it goes.  By the end of the day we are asleep before our head touches the pillow because we are exhausted.   “Busy” seems to be the immediate response when people ask how we are doing.

If we want what God wants for us, we must add one more thing to our list.   Take a few minutes each day to be still.   Slow down and take time to hear His voice.  Ask Him to reveal His plan to you.  God will always respond.  Spending time with the kindest Being in the Universe will change your life forever.

I have found that if I make this a priority I get more done---even though it is one more thing added to my to do list.   There is something to be said about seeking God first.   I have found if I do that, everything else seems to fall into place (see Matthew 6:33).

3.      Read The Bible Each Day.

It goes without saying, God's Word will not give you the name of whom you are to marry or share with you the business name of the business to which you need to send your resume.  God does direct the path, but He also gives us many choices along the way.  

You can be sure God will reveal His known will as you read His Word everyday.  And from that, you will know to look for a man or woman with Christian character to spend your remaining days here on earth.   From His guidelines presented in His word you will know what company shares your values and models strong ethics, so that you will have a peace about seeking employment.   God’s word will give you the guidance you need to make wise decisions.

Don’t know where to start?   Begin with the book of Proverbs. You'll be surprised how much insight you will get about God's will for so many different areas of your life.    

4.      Act on That Word.

God will reveal something to you if you invest time in His Word.  If He reveals some changes He wants you to make or a step He wants you to take, do it.  He will not reveal the next step if you haven't been obedient in taking the previous one. 

Psalms tells us that “God’s Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).  We often desire a spotlight---something that will illuminate way down the road, but God’s plan is a “lamp unto your feet…..and your path”   That means He shows enough light for the next step and you must trust Him with one step at a time.

5.      Find Out What Your Particular Gifts Are.

God made you unique.  He gifted you with abilities that are distinctive to you and you alone.   You have been endowed by God Himself with a unique combination of talents and you can guarantee that He will help you develop to walk out His plan for your life.  Use what is in your hands to do what is in your heart.

6.      Pinpoint Your Dreams And Passions.

If they line up with His Word, they are probably from God Himself. He put them into your heart to give you a vision to pursue.

7.      Start Moving.

Nobody can drive a parked car. God's plan for your life will be a great blessing for you, more than you could ever imagine, but more than that, His plan is for you to be a blessing to many others. So start sowing your gift into other lives. It will launch you forward more than anything else can because giving is more blessed than receiving.

Many never move forward because of fear.  Fear that they may make a mistake, go the wrong way, or the upmost fear of all . . . fear that they may fail.   These people are not going against the will of God.  Yet, the sin is just as dreadful because they are not reaching for it either.  

Honestly . . . you will probably make some mistakes in your journey.   However, we serve a God that forgives and He is a God of second chances.  Don’t just sit there; get busy and take hold of what God has for you!  

 

SERVE OTHERS

February 14, 2010

 

It has been said of Jesus that He came to earth not to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.

The idea of “serving someone” seems so foreign in America.  The closest thing that comes to mind is a server at a restaurant.   That is a sad commentary on today’s society.   How often do you serve someone whole heartedly without expecting ANYTHING in return?    Think about it . . . even servers get tips.  I would assume that most of the time we expect the favor to be returned---no matter who it is.   Many get a little ticked-off and scream that it’s not fair when they worked harder than the other person. 

In many ways I do not have much to offer the world.   I can’t heal the dying or raise the dead.   I can’t cure cancer.   I can’t feed all the hungry nor take away everyone’s pain.   However, I can preach God’s message.  I can help those with heavy burdens by making them more bearable.  Often something as simple as offering friendship and providing an extra shoulder to lean on is a powerful act of service. 

Put simply, I am very excited to serve with whatever I have.   I have learned that truly serving others improves who I am by keeping my focus off of me and places focus on others.   Serving humbly and selflessly allows me to care about people in a way that God does.   For me to be more like God I must begin with serving others.   This means looking at someone else’s needs more than my own and using my “little” to help others “a lot.”  

 

Serving Takes Sacrifice

 

When one decides to be a servant they must make sacrifices for their service to be blessed.   It is for this very reason that so many people shy away from serving others.  They conclude that it will cost too much. 

Jesus served His fellow man.   His service was impressionable because He did not have the clothing of royalty, live in a fancy mansion or hang out with society’s elite.   He did, however, use what He had.   He gave His all to everyone around Him.   People followed Him because He gave with sincerity and His devotion touched their lives in a personal way.  In the end Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice---His life.

If someone offers what they have, they too must make sacrifices.  The preacher makes sacrifices when he preaches; he does not have the luxury of listening in a crowded church building to the message of hope because he is delivering it.  The song leader and the pianist make sacrifices when they lead the music; they do not get the joy of relaxing in the worship time because they are focused on leading a service that will connect people to God through the harmony.   The servers at the communion table make their sacrifices as they deliver the emblems to the hands of God’s people; they often are unable to spend an intimate, quite, personal time while everyone else is doing so through their meditation.   The person feeding the hungry makes their sacrifices; their enjoyment of the meal is suspended because of their efforts in preparation and serving the food.  While everyone else is filled, they go hungry.    The man teaching in the prison makes his sacrifices; with each visit he sacrifices time and freedom so he can meet with men who have broken the rules of society.   He sacrifices to give these prisoners a new hope for an eternal reward.  The missionary makes sacrifices too as he carries the gospel across the borders.  He is faithfully presenting God’s Word to a people who often reject his preaching, reject him and his family---leaving the missionary in a condition of loneliness and suffering feelings of rejection.

Do you get the picture?   True service leads to making necessary sacrifices to make the service beneficial.

 

Serving Marks Maturity

 

Serving others is not for the faint of heart.  It costs you something.  The one being served often reaps the rewards; the one doing the serving pays the price.   Often there are no accolades, no promotions, no credits.  Just a lifetime of scars and stories of being offended, hurt, pushed, and criticized.

Most would crush under such punishment.  However, service brings maturity. Each act of grace ripens the fruit of maturity in the life of a servant.  Each challenge faced brings accomplishment.   Each accomplishment delivers wisdom, experience and responsibility.  

Endurance and longevity are the marks of mature servant.   One cannot be considered a reliable servant without hanging in through the tough times.   Jesus proved this when He passionately prayed to his Father, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  He served to the very end by paying the highest price.

We never read of Jesus complaining about the hardships.   We do not read of Him giving up when He was faced with another obstacle or had to endure a crushing moment.   He faced all of it and continued to serve faithfully.  That is maturity.

 

Serving Gives Satisfaction

 

How can a battered servant be satisfied when they have been through so many struggles?  The Hebrew writer speaks of Jesus when he says, “For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross.”   What?   Did he say “joy”?   That is what he proclaims, but how?   

Simple . . . Jesus looked past the immediate and He focused on what He accomplished.   The immediate was the pain of the cross.   The accomplishment was the satisfaction of knowing He has completed what He set out to do----to seek and save the lost.

When a mother delivers a baby she is satisfied when she hears that first cry and she puts the pain behind her and focuses on her precious child.   When a Sunday school teacher sends a student to Bible College he is satisfied because those hours of laborious study becomes justified.  When foster parents hug a child and deliver her into the hands of loving family and a new home they are satisfied, excusing those frustrating moments of teaching a wayward child obedience.

Satisfaction is defined by an inner peace of knowing you served well and an outward joy derived by an accomplished goal.

Are you looking to be served or are you searching for opportunities of service?  Serve others around you and you will discover it makes all the difference in the world.

Go serve someone.

--------------------------------------------

 

I asked my Facebook friends to tell me what SERVICE means to them and what effect it has had on their life.   Below are a few quotes I received:

Karen wrote, “Being a servant is the ultimate choice we can make.”

Buddy wrote, “Being a servant is doing our duty without expecting the praise of men.”

Karen C. wrote, “Service is about helping others.  Pay it forward as my grandmother taught me.”

David wrote, “Service is a natural result of love.”

Jerry wrote, “You’re never more like Jesus then when you serve.”

Ray wrote, “Service is helping without thinking of the aftermath.”

Dianna wrote, “Service is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It is about giving of oneself unselfishly.”

Beth wrote, “In American Sign Language the sign for service is made with both hand open, palms facing up and you move them back and forth.  This reminds me that true service must have some give and take.”

Stan wrote, “Service is giving 110% and leaving with the hope/satisfaction that you have made a difference.”

Sharlene wrote, “Service is anything big or small that is helping someone else.   No questions asked and ending with joy and happiness of making someone smile.”

Wayne wrote, “Service is using our God-given abilities to glorify Him.”

Lynn wrote, “Service is putting others ahead of us without expecting recognition.   Service shows our love for Christ.”

Susannah wrote, “Service is using our personal gifts to reach out to help our brothers and sisters.”

Lori wrote, “Service means doing something for someone without expecting anything in return.”

 

JESUS WHO?

July 31, 2009

I love to go into the bookstores and try to find a bookmark, a coffee mug, or pencil with my name on it.   You know what I am talking about?   Something labeled with your name and under it a brief description or a simple meaning of your name.   As of yet, I have never found anything with my name on it; I guess my name is too unusual.    It is interesting to go back and look at where your name came from, where you got it, and what it means.

 

Do you know the name of Jesus?  Did you know that Jesus means Savior (Matthew 1:21)?  His name aptly describes what he did when He left Heaven to dwell among us---He came to save men from the penalty of their sins.  Dr. Luke points this out in Luke 19:10 when he states, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”    Jesus must have loved us deeply to offer His life in our place.

 

I guess that is why the church so eagerly reaches out to a lost world.    The love of Jesus consumes us with a desire to save others from eternal destruction.    How wonderful it is to know we have such a wonderful Savior In Jesus Christ.

 

Willis R. Hotchkiss, missionary to Africa, searched for many months for a native word that would express the idea of Savior to the community of people he was serving.   Nothing seemed to convey his important message to his people.  

 

One day there was a great commotion in the village.   When Mr. Hotchkiss joined the crowd assembled in the square, he found a native, torn and bleeding.  He was excitedly telling of his escape from the claws of a tiger.  The saved man used a word to describe another man who had saved him, but in doing so had lost his own life in the battle with the beast.

 

Immediately Mr. Hotchkiss wrote this word down.   The next Sunday he preached on Jesus as Savior and used this new-found word.  As the people crowded around him after the service they said, “Now we understand that Jesus died to save us from sin and Satan.  That is what you have tried to tell us for so many moons.”

 

Mr. Hotchkiss says, “I have dwelt for years practically alone in Africa.   I have been thirty times stricken with the fever, three times attacked by lions and several times by rhinoceroses, ambushed a number of times by natives, for fourteen months I never saw a piece of bread.  But let me say to you, I would gladly go through the whole thing again if I could have the joy of again bringing the word ‘Savior’ and flashing it into the darkness that enveloped another tribe of Central Africa.”

 

I pray often that those of us in America would see the great importance of sharing with our neighbors, friends and coworkers that Jesus Christ is the Savior.  The Bible clearly states that only through obedience under the Name of Jesus are we saved (1 Corinthians 6:11).

 

Before we can ever talk to someone else about this great truth, we must ask ourselves the all-important question:  Is Jesus Christ my Savior?  Over my many years of ministry I have had the opportunity to ask hundreds of people if Jesus Christ is their Savior.   So I direct the question to you today. 

 

When people have not understood the question I take them back to the Bible to see what Jesus himself has to say, as well as those trusted disciples that walked with him as His students.   From their teachings we conclude that at baptism Jesus Christ becomes our Savior because it is there that the blood of Jesus is applied to our lives.   Over and over again in Scripture we see that baptism is associated with Salvation.  Jesus communicates that immersion into water is necessary (Mark 16:16); Philip, the Evangelist, believed in immersion (Acts 8:38);  Peter preached baptism (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21).    

 

Is Jesus your Savior?

 

It does not matter how many thousands, or even millions, have made Jesus Christ their Savior if you have not made Him your Savior.  He died for you.  If you were the only one that needed saving He would have took your punishment and died.  Have you obeyed His commands to be right with Him?   If you would like to talk about this I would love to open up a conversation with you.   Let me know today and we will make an appointment.   I love you and desire to help you in your Christian walk.   Call me at 412-788-8818 or email me at FaronFranklin@hotmail.com.

 

COUNTING THE COST

July 18, 2009

City officials in Bullhead City, Arizona, are in hot water with that town’s military veterans over an “eternal” flame. The question seems to be whether to make the flame “eternal” or only “occasional.” And I am sensitive to both sides here.  On the one side is the principle of honor where honor is due; on the other is the matter of fiscal responsibility in these challenging days needs attention. Here’s the story, according to the Mohave Valley Daily News.

 

With great fanfare last Veterans Day, the flame was ignited for the Medal of Honor Memorial at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Park. An agreement between Bullhead City and Veterans United – a veterans group that had worked to design, build, and pay for the memorial – called for the city to maintain the park and the new memorial. The perpetual flame was one of the most distinctive features.

 

But last week the eternal flame sat cold and dark. The first month’s gas bill for $961.17 had come to the city. After deciding to leave the eternal flame on through the holidays, it was turned off last Monday as a cost-cutting measure. The city manager explained that the perpetual flame might have to be only an occasional flame – set ablaze only for special events such as Veterans Day, the Fourth of July, and Memorial Day. The uproar began.

 

“It’s an ‘eternal’ flame,” said one spokesman for Veterans United. “That’s just not proper.” Said another: “You just don’t shut off a ‘perpetual’ flame!”

 

“But at this point,” said the city manager, “we don’t have any money budgeted, you know, a thousand dollars a month, to pay for that eternal flame.” Said the mayor: “You know, under the present financial circumstances, we’re very careful on how we’re spending our money.”

 

So they’re negotiating now. Veterans insist figures for the gas expense were projected in discussions all along.  At least one city official says he didn’t think the city understood they had to pay the gas bill.  I hope they work it out satisfactorily.

 

When I read the story, I thought immediately of a dozen---no, a bazillion---other situations that parallel it. Businesses have started up without a workable business plan or adequate capitalization.  Crazy-in-love kids have gotten married with no clue of what adult responsibilities for work, education, mortgage, auto insurance, and the like would entail---much less kids of their own. People have made emotional decisions to get baptized and soon leave the fellowship of the flock.   Other have commit to a mission project and never follow through.

 

It was Jesus who gave this counsel to some who were thinking about joining his band of disciples: “Don’t begin until you first count the cost” (Luke 14:25ff).

 

As one rethinks the dilemma in Bullhead City of the perpetual flame, it illustrates the sound advice of Jesus. Heeding that advice spares embarrassment later. It keeps a good thing from becoming a failed one.

 

One needs to understand that commitment always cost something.   It costs Jesus His life because He committed to the will of the Father.  All but one of the apostles died because of their strong commitment to serve Jesus. 

 

Have you counted the cost lately?   Have you maybe dropped to a lower level of commitment?   Do you miss church without guilt?   Have you stopped talking to that friend about accepting a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Have you stopped romancing your spouse?  Have you been lax in building strong relationships with your children?

 

Commitment will always cost you something.   Yet what you get in exchange is so much more valuable than what it costs you.

 

CAMPING REWARDS

June 21, 2009

I had forgotten how much I loved church camp until this past week.   Last Sunday through Friday I spent my days with a group of high school kids at Camp Christian in Mill Run, PA.   I must admit I am a little tired, but spiritually I am refreshed.

 

Like people in the church the young people came from a lot of different backgrounds which helped develop their individual personalities.  Some love living on the wild side (Like Tanner who would try to skateboard through the boys’ dorm every time my head was turned).  Some were melancholy (Like Sarah who went with the flow of the day).  Some were a little apathetic (Like Kyle who would rather be home working on the farm; and who one day found him napping in the dorm when he was to be at an activity).   Some were super Christians (like Penny who would speak up in devotions and would be the first one to serve without being asked.)    These different traits blended together and made for some interesting experiences through the week.

 

On Sunday I knew only one person in the entire camp; that was Lynn Wix.   So on the first day everyone was a stranger to me.   Of course I felt a little uncomfortable, but as I looked in these kid’s faces I yearned to know something about each of them.    Yet I was nervous because I wondered if my new acquaintances would accept me.   Could I still relate to them?   Would they welcome my thoughts or would they brush me off like an old antique?     I have to admit I am getting older and my grey hair doesn’t help me conceal that fact very well these days.  My fears melted away with each passing day.

 

By Tuesday the acquaintances had moved close to friendship.  Now the faces were not images of just another high school kid, they were icons of someone who had hurts and pains just like me.  They were someone that needed Jesus just as much as I do each week.   With that realization I came to the conclusion that this is the moment that ministry can now take place.   And it did.   

 

I ministered to some and others ministered to me.   To the ones I ministered to I gave a sympathetic ear or godly counsel.    The ones that ministered to me were those who were bold in their Christian walk.    How can a 15 year old kid minister to a preacher of 25 years?   Their love for the Lord encouraged me.  Their servant heart inspired me.  Their testimony put a lift in my weary walk.  Wow, how I have been blessed.

 

By Thursday we had built strong friendships with campers and faculty.   We had been with each other enough to see weaknesses and strengths in each other.   We had helped one another over some rocky terrains during the hike to the river and constructed some strong bonds on the obstacle course.   We shared some of our intimate feelings about our relationship with God, family, and friends in our discussion times. 

 

One thing for certain, we knew much more about each other at the end of the week than we did coming together on Sunday.   How did that happen?   Simply by spending time with each other, listening with the heart, and sharing the same space for a short period of time.  

 

This year one of the blessings of camp was that I gained friendship from people I had never met before.  These new-found strangers went for nobody to friends in only a week.  Now I am looking forward to next year to see everyone again.

 

What is your relationship with God like?   Are you strangers?   God is not a part of your life and you really do not see what you are missing.   Are you acquaintances?    God is like the greeter at Wal-Mart; you recognize His face and your throw your hand up for a quick wave or you nod your head to say a quick hello.  You know Him, but you don’t know Him.   Or, do you have a relationship with God?   You look forward to your time with Him.   You share intimate thoughts and quiet moments alone.  You feel lost without His presence. 

 

I do not know where you are in your relationship with God, but you know if things are right or not.   You know if you have drifted from where you need to be.  You know if you need to focus in on a deeper commitment.  You know if there is a sin that has created a gulf, something that is distancing you, from God.   I can encourage, give wise counsel, and direct, but you must be the one to make the changes to get back to the side of Almighty God.

 

I am sure you can come up with many excuses to why you keep your distance; why you do not develop a deeper relationship with God.  You and I both know it profits nothing by not being prepared.  God sent His Son to have a connection with you.  Do it now, before it is too late.

 

This past week our theme for camp was taken from a phrase the Lord repeats five times in the book of Revelation, “Behold, I come quickly.”    As faculty you get toward the end of the week and you ponder the events and experiences and you wonder if the campers “get it”.  Do you get it?   Do you know He is coming soon?   Are you prepared for the Lord’s coming?    My hope for you is the same for the campers---I hope you get it. 

 

 

Dear Lord, use Your Word to deepen my faith and help me to heed Your statues.   In Jesus Name----AMEN

 

SHHHHHH! I'M MEDITATING!

June 14, 2009

Psalm 119:97, NIV – “Oh, how I love your law; I meditate on it all day long.”

 

Many of today’s Christians get a little anxious when they hear someone talk about meditation.    There are many secular groups that spout off today’s buzzwords like transcendental meditation, yoga and new age that causes God's people to avoid the reference of meditation.   They are afraid of the occult or pagan worship.  What they miss is how often God talks about meditation in His Word.

 

Meditation is purposely thinking on a spiritual truth after you here it.  The illustration is not pleasant to hear, but it is the best I have come up with to explain what biblical meditation is about.   A cow will go out in the morning and graze on the green grass.  In the afternoon that same cow will lie under a shade tree and will belch up her cud and chew again the grass she partially digested that morning.    That is spiritual mediation; bringing back up Biblical truths and chewing over them again to aid in the spiritual digestion process.

 

The Bible offers three important truths about meditation.

 

First, meditation is more than a quick read of Scripture.  The Bible presents it as serious pondering.  It is not a quick study or a pick-me-up Bible verse.  I am not against those things, but meditation is deeper than that.   God’s Word is meant for repeated serious concentration.

 

Second, the Biblical contexts define meditation as something that is a consistent habit.   In Joshua 1:8, God told Joshua to meditate on the law day and night.   We get the impression that God wants us to continually throw our minds in this practice.   Psalm 1:2 also says that the godly person will meditate on God’s law day and night.

 

Third, meditation has its rewards.  It’s not just to meditate or go through a religious ritual.  In most of the biblical passages where the term occurs, the writer goes on to point out the results.  Again in Joshua 1:8: “. . . For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.”

 

Psalm 1 describes the godly person who meditates day and night on God’s law and then adds, “. . . and every thing he does shall prosper.” (v. 3)

 

Despite what I have pointed out, we do not talk or teach much on meditation.   We definitely do not practice it.   When is the last time you took your notes from the Sunday sermon, and everyday that week, reviewed them and made some daily applications to your life?   When is the last time you memorized a verse of Scripture and took it into your daily prayer time and talked with the Lord about it?  Do you recall through your day the Bible verses you read that morning?   Meditation is hard work!  It demands time.  It demands your undivided attention.

 

If you desire to win the battle against Satan, meditation is a powerful weapon to use.  Get into the Word.  Take notes on sermons and lessons.   Begin digging deeper in the Word of God.  Focus and study on a topic in Scripture and specifically make applications to your life.  Memorize verses of the Bible, repeat them out loud and keep them in front of your thinking through the day.   Repeat those verses again and again until they become a part of your life and your thinking.

 

You see the idea is that you will never put the Word of God into practice physically until you put it into practice mentally.

 

 

Dear Lord, help me to treasure Your Word.   Reveal Yourself to me as I meditate on Your statues.   Define Your will for my life as I dig deeper in the truths of Scripture.    In Jesus Name---AMEN.

 

 

BLOWING HOT AIR

June 10, 2009

I removed the wet clothes from the washing machine and placed them in the dryer.    Before closing the door I cleaned the lint trap and walked up the stairs, like always.   A couple of hours later I carried my laundry basket down the stairs to retrieve my fresh-smelling dried clothes.   As I opened the door I discovered that the clothes were still wet.   Thinking the weight of the drenched clothes may have jarred the door open enough to turn off the drying cycle, I reset the timer and headed back upstairs. 

Bounding back down into the basement I opened the door and reached in to retrieve the clothes. Confronted again with a load of wet clothes I breathed a heavy sigh of frustration.    My dryer was not working and more dirty clothes were beginning to take over my basement floor.

A Facebook friend suggested that the clothes could be worn again by turning them inside out, and further suggested they could be made fresh by a few sprits of Febreeze.   Jokingly I responded that I had done that and now my only option was to go shopping for new clothes.   She quickly typed back with a more simple and less expensive solution:  “Not new clothes. . . different scent of Febreeze!”

As tempting as her suggestion was I knew I had to get my dryer working.   So I begin the work of opening up my dryer to get a look at the inside.   I was confident my heating coil had stopped working and a simple removal of that old coil and a replacement of a new one would do the trick.  Simple, right?   Right.   I begin taking out screws.   How do I get into this thing to get to my heating coil?  With each removed screw it looked less possible to get to the damaged part I desired.   Am I going to have to remove every screw to get inside?

I went to my computer and googled the GE serial number and discovered I have one of the few dryers made where you have to completely disassemble the dryer, including the drum, to get to the heating coil.   Now my frustration is mounting.  A job I thought would take thirty minutes has turned into hours.

To make a long story short, I got the part and repaired my dryer.  I now have clean clothes to wear.  

I have found many things in life are like fixing my dryer.  You have a quick plan only to discover that it will cost more and take longer than you expected.  Here is what I have learned to do when life gets complicated.

 

Seek Out The Expert

With my dryer I consulted with my Dad, a couple of handy men, did research on the internet and even read the manual.   I wanted to make sure I had made the proper diagnosis and thought out the solution to my trouble.  

In life when we find ourselves in a difficult circumstance we may need to talk with a respected spiritual leader, a Christian friend or seek God’s advice by a study of His word.  Proverbs tells us that a wise man seeks counsel.

 

Focus Verses Frustration

I begin breaking down my dryer.  Just when I thought I had found a way to get to the heating coils I desired to replace I would hit a road block.  More screws, more time and frustration begin to build.  I even rationalized it would be better for me to purchase a new dryer then to go to all this trouble.  More than once I threw up my hands and paced the floor with frustration.   With each screw my aggravation grew.  Finally I had to walk away a few minutes to regain my focus. 

Life is much like this too.  Troubles in life are like those screws in my dryer.   With each turn they disappoint us and we become weary in our efforts.   Just when we think we are making headway we run into a road block.   

If we allow the frustration to control us we act in ways that is unbecoming or we rush ahead too soon.   Do you need some examples?  A person loses hope in ever finding a mate to their standards so their frustration leads them to settle, opening the door to future pain.  A Christian stops serving the Lord early, missing the eternal reward.   A man allows his job to be more important than his family and begins to slowly disconnect causing irreversible damage and the breakdown of his home.

There are times we need to take a walk, go on a retreat, and seize a few moments for reflection.   It is called focus.  It is a concentration on what you are there for---the end goal.   When you focus the frustrations melt away because you are envisioning where you yearning to be.

 

Do It Right

My Dad had a saying when I was growing up that has helped me even now that I am an adult.   He would sternly say, “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”   

In my repair experience this week I could have completed the project with cheaper parts only to lower the quality of my work.   I could have left out parts I thought were unneeded or leave out screws I thought unnecessary.   By doing so, it would have worked, but most likely would have cheapened my efforts and I would have had to redo my work a short time later.

At the repair’s completion there was a great sense of pride as I turned on the dryer and felt the hot air shoot out of the vent.   It was worth doing right.

 

Celebrate The Victory

What did I do at the completion of my project?   I drove to Sonic and had me a lemon-berry slush; I celebrated my victory.   There needs to be more celebration in our lives.  The people in the Old Testament celebrated milestones with special feasts.  It was a way to rejoice over past victories and appreciated God’s hand in their lives.   Celebrate those victories and allow them to stand as a powerful testimony of the evidence that God is working in your life.

I am thankful my dryer is blowing hot air and I am not.

 

DO YOU LOOK LIKE JESUS?

June 2, 2009

The local newspaper in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, carried the headline "Man Who Looks Like Jesus Arrives in Town."  His name is Carl Joseph and he does resemble our interpretation of what Jesus looks like.

Mr. Joseph has wandered through forty-seven states and thirteen countries over the last nine years.  He looks very much like the Jesus of movies and storybooks. Flowing hair, beard, head at an angle, white robe — he has the standard look of a Hollywood Jesus of Nazareth.

He is a 39-year-old man with Catholic background who sometimes hitchhikes but usually walks everywhere on bare feet. A Washington Post story said: "He owns nothing but the robe and blanket he wears on his back and never takes money for any reason. For food and shelter, he relies on the goodwill of people he meets along the way. Somehow, he is always immaculate, down to the fingernails."

The controversial man draws big crowds. They listen to him for hours on his typical theme of God's love and grace.  When he stops, hands go up.  "Why do children die?" someone asks.  "Are angels real?" another inquires.  "How can we be happy?"

Joseph doesn't claim to be Jesus, just that he tries to model his life on Jesus' example.  And people trust him with their innermost thoughts.  They tell him about their drug addiction or depression.  They ask him to pray with them.

I'm not urging you to give up business attire for white robes and to go out everywhere on bare feet. Maybe he's just "nutty."  But there's more to the story . . .

A woman who had lost custody of her two sons because of drug addiction asked to talk to the man, and he obliged her.  She has stayed clean since that day.  A physician asked him to speak with a woman whose husband was dying.  He did.  They prayed together. And she found peace in coping with his death.  All of us need someone to challenge our cynicism and invite us to focus on God.

The task of Christians is to furnish a sense of what it is like to have Jesus roaming the world.  Wherever we go, the winsome aroma of His presence should surface.  Suddenly, chaos gives way to calm, fear to hope, indifference to unfeigned concern.  People begin to trust you, ask you to pray for them, and take heart from your concern.  Such a presence changes situations and people for the better.

Your task today is to re-create Christ's presence.  Treat people so they will know that someone who "looks like Jesus" took the call, handled a complaint, sensed the anxiety, or shared the grief. The secret isn't clothing; it's attitude.

 

Do you look like Jesus to those you rub shoulders with everyday?   Do you love the unlovely, reach out to those who push you away, give to those who cant’ give back or accept people in spite of their differences?   Today, go out and be like Jesus.  It will make a difference in your life. . . and in the lives of those you come in contact with.

 

SOLID FOUNDATIONS

May 13, 2009
  

 

When was the last time that you dreamed of building a house?  Most young couples eventually talk with great excitement about what their dream house would be like.   Do you remember when you went to the magazine section of the book store and selected a book of house plans?  For the next several weeks you flipped through the pages and you planned your dream home.   It became a daily, fun adventure drawing up where each room would be placed, planning where the furniture would go, and deciding on what the color schemes would be in each room.  

When people sit down with an actual builder/designer they vividly describe their dreams.  They discuss in great detail what they desire in their future home and outline what they can live with and without.  Yet there is one part of the house they often never discuss.   They give no thought to the most important part of the house.   Very few ever confer about the foundation.

Jesus closed His sermon on the mount with a story about a critical part of the building. "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?  I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.  He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."  (Luke 6:46-49 NIV)

There are three realities that Jesus gives us in these four verses:

 

Everyone Is Building A House On Their Chosen Foundation.

When we drive through new sub-divisions where houses are being framed we openly comment about the size, shape or the style.  You will notice Jesus makes no statements on any of these issues.

In this parable Jesus' sole concern is only with the foundation.  I've never heard anyone say, "What a beautiful foundation you have."  The only thing that matters to most people is what other people see. They are not prepared to invest money on things that are covered up.   Jesus draws our attention to what is really important--- the foundation we build our lives on.

Jesus describes how the second man built his house. He did not build on a solid foundation, he built on the sand.  This man saw no reason to invest time and money to build on a solid foundation of rock.

Jesus declares that all of us are busy building the house of our lives and each of us chooses our foundation.

 

Every House Built Will One Day Face A Storm.

I find it highly instructive to note that Jesus did not say, "If a storm or flood comes." Jesus said, "When the flood comes."   Jesus is declaring that each house will face a storm.  The question is, will your foundation withstand the storm?

What is the foundation of your life built on?  What is most important in your life that you build everything else around?  Is it your career, personal relationships, possessions, a lifestyle, or maybe even your own family?    If Jesus is not your focus and what you are building your life on, you can be sure of future disappointment.

The storm will blow through your life at some point.   The winds will twist, leaving destruction in their path if the foundation is not solid.  People lose their careers because of misunderstandings, lay-offs, and physical problems everyday.   Personal relationships break down.  Possessions rust and decay.   Lifestyles change with time.   Family members disappoint and sometimes leave because of abandonment or death.  

What happens when these disappointments come?  Will your house stand or fall?  It completely depends on your foundation.

 

Obedience To The Words Of Jesus Is The Only Foundation That Will Withstand All Storms.

Remember the big earthquake that hit San Francisco?   Structural specialists were surprised by the inconsistency of the damage to residential homes.  Going down the streets they would notice three houses standing and a fourth nearly demolished.   All the homes were built to the same earthquake standards.  So why were one destroyed and the other saved?

The answer is simple:  eight inch anchor bolts that attach new houses to their foundations.  The investigators discovered that many of the demolished homes were not attached to their foundations.   The builders failed to obey the building code.

Here is the kicker in this parable.  The foundation is not about whether you have been baptized or not; we know that is essential.   Building on a solid foundation is about trusting Jesus enough to be immersed to become a Christian AND follow through with daily obedience to His words.

Remember Jesus said, "The one who hears my words and puts them into practice. . ."    It's essential that the nuts and washers are attached to the anchor bolts.   Obedience connects us to the foundation of Jesus Christ.  We must trust Him enough to be immersed for the remission of our sin and be faithful in our daily walk with the Lord (Revelation 2:10).

Many people claiming to be a child of God fail to obey the Word of the Lord.   That's why the homes of many Christians are swept away by the storms.

The Apostle Paul declared, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11 NIV).    

Many of you reading this have been through many storms over the years.   They have come with great force and your house has been shaken, but you have stood strong in the face of adversity.    Your daily obedience to the Lord has strengthened you because your house is built on and attached to the strong foundation of Jesus Christ.  

The application is clear.  At the base of any strong building lies a carefully planned and well-constructed foundation.   In all aspects of life - career, family, relationships, it seems as though we try to create a tower without first ensuring that we have a good foundation.  For some reason we assume that if we just keep adding bricks that the structure will grow stronger, but we never address the core issue of the bedrock.  Therefore, when hard times come and trials ensue, we have no rock upon which to stand and the boulders that we have spent years precariously stacking one upon the other begin tumbling.

This notion often carries into the realm of our spiritual lives.   God not only calls us to trust in Him, to build on Him, but He also calls us to seek Him, thus ensuring a well-built foundation. 

The parable in Luke portrays the wise builder not only erecting on a rock but also digging down deep in order to find this rock.  It is necessary to dig deep in search for the rock upon which we are to build.   We are to seek God as the foundation for our lives.  Be a wise builder; build on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

 

Dear God, Make me uncomfortable when I am not obeying Your Word.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and anchor me to Jesus Christ through each command of Yours I obey.   In Jesus Name---AMEN.

 

 

 

Evangelist

Faron Franklin
Mcdonald, Pa
Faron Franklin