Saturday, June 28, 2014
Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it. I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress.” - Chuck Swindoll
Friday, June 27, 2014
The following is a great article by Dennis and Barbara Rainey on how much we need rest in our lives . . .
This woman's story expresses well how Barbara and I feel too often:
My husband works a night shift, while I work days. Thus our cars always pass going in opposite directions on a street just a few miles from our house. When we pass, we both yell, "I love you!" One day, after our rush-hour rendezvous, a man who had obviously witnessed this scene several times pulled up beside me at a stoplight. "Hey, lady," he said, "you two seem to like the looks of each other pretty well. Why don't you stop and introduce yourselves sometime?"
Like that couple, many others live lives that flirt with exhaustion. Wayne Muller writes that the standard greeting everywhere is "I am so busy." He goes on to say, "The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family ... to whiz through our obligations without time for a single mindful breath—this has become the model of a successful life."
He's right: We're a culture of weary people. And a significant part of our weariness is not because modern life is "so busy," but because we have forgotten or never learned how to rest.
Read the entire article here.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8).
One day while getting my hair cut, I noticed a father and his two young sons enter the shop. The man sat in another barber chair while his children waited. In a few moments the boys began misbehaving. The father looked at them sternly without saying a word. The boys quickly responded compliantly. Several minutes later those children pleasantly played with each other. The father glanced affectionately at them as if to say, “I love you.” The children smiled back. That afternoon, the father did not have to use words to communicate with His boys. The watch care of his eyes spoke volumes.
My experience in the barber shop reminded me of the way Jesus desires to relate with His family. He does not want to shout or scream. He will not write messages in the clouds. At times his overtones of love come quietly. The Lord Jesus wants us to walk closely with Him. He desires to guide us with His eyes.
Jesus cannot lead us with His eyes if our eyes are not looking at Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let’s take time today to turn aside and look at Him. We may need to turn off the smart phone, walk away from the computer, and ignore the television. Taking a walk to be quiet and pray, singing songs and hymns to the Lord, or reading a Christian biography may help us turn aside from distractions and focus on Jesus.
He loves us, and He wants to share Himself with His children. What do we need to do today to get our eyes fixed again?
God can guide us better when we look at Him.
God can guide us better when we look at Him.
Prayer: Jesus, teach me to keep my eyes on You, not only on the problems of the day.
Monday, June 23, 2014
"God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God's hand as a means, I say - and say it deliberately - trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith." - George Muller
Friday, June 20, 2014
Two weeks ago, my nine-year old son Dawson and I spent the weekend with eight other dads and sons from our church. We experienced Camp McCall, a boys camp in South Carolina sponsored by the South Carolina Baptist Convention. This trip marked my fourteenth time at the camp. I attended seven times as a camper in the 1980’s and have returned seven times as a dad for their father-son camps.
By the seventh time, the experience feels routine. The schedule, the activities, the games, the songs, and yes, the long hikes uphill stay consistent from year to year. On every father-son camp I have attended, we always sing “Father Abraham” at the missions time. The post-canteen night schedule always consists of campfire one night and night games in the gym the other. I can finish most of the jokes that are retold every year.
Though predictable to me, the experience seems always fresh for my boys. Without exaggeration, I believe Dawson talked about going to camp every week of the past year since our last time at McCall. Weekly I hear, “Daddy, when we go to Camp McCall next year . . . .”
So ten men and boys left Laurens and drove to Sunset, South Carolina, on a June Saturday morning. We braved Lake Chiliwater, played dodge ball, hiked to the Little Waterfall, slept in an old cabin, showered in a dingy bathhouse, laughed around the campfire, sang songs in chapel, and quickly emptied our food dishes onto our plates so that we could send a camper to the front for seconds.
I suppose every father who goes to camp with his son hopes that memories are made that will far outlast the reminders of inconveniences like a sore back or lack of sleep.
Two days in a row, Dawson wanted to go to the Craft Hut. I preferred swimming at the lake, but agreed to walk to the hut and help my son make crafts. One day we purchased a glue-together wooden plane kit for $4.00. It took two free-time periods to sand, paint, and glue the toy together. Dawson worked steadily on the project with Dad offering assistance as needed.
On the third day, ten very tired boys and men left camp and returned home, tucking away another year of camp into our memory banks.
The next weekend was Father’s Day. Every year I request that my children make cards for me on Father’s Day. I tape them to the wall of my office and enjoy looking at them. Dawson’s card was creative. The children poke fun at the fact that when I am in charge of lunch or supper, we often have pizza. So the card granted me an award for the father who makes pizza for his children. Dawson created a prize envelope in the card.
“Daddy, take out the prize card!”
I did so, and it read, “Look in the grill.”
For birthday and Christmas gifts, we sometimes send our children on treasure hunts around the house and yard. The last clue will direct them to a spot where their gift is located. So, in like fashion, Dawson directed me.
We walked outside to the large grill. Dawson, grinning from ear to ear, exclaimed, “Open it, Daddy!”
Lifting the top revealed a present roughly wrapped in bright red paper, covered with scotch tape. Having no clue what was inside, I tore open the paper. Immediately recognizing the gift, I fought back tears as Dawson jumped up and down.
The Father’s Day gift was the painted purple and red plane that we assembled together at camp. Nothing bought from a store could have made me feel as good as I did that afternoon. We embraced for a priceless moment, and I sure was glad we went to camp together.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Read Genesis 15:1-7
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Abram probably wondered if he had forfeited God’s promise. Many years passed since the Lord first spoke of a multitude of descendants. The patriarch gave into fear while in Egypt, lying about his wife and putting her in potential danger. Quarles arose between his people and those of his nephew Lot, causing a separation. Circumstances necessitated that Abram do battle with several nomadic kings. And still no child was born to Sarai. Perhaps he didn’t deserve God’s promise anymore and would never receive the blessing.
After all these things, the Lord appeared again to Abram and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Gen. 15:1 NIV). God told Abram to get out of his tent and look into the night sky. In other words, let go of that which your hands can accomplish. Leave the limitations of the man-made tent and come out into God’s expanse. Under the night sky, the Promise-Maker tells Abram that his descendants will outnumber the stars. The troubles and dark spots of Abram’s life have not hindered God’s ability to bring the promise into reality. Abram would still experience the grace of God in his life.
The fulfillment of God’s purposes does not ultimately fall on our shoulders. Scarred and broken though we may be, God’s grace abounds again and again. Our scars may be the death of a child, the loss of a job, or the debilitation of a disease. As we keep coming to Him, bringing the years of our wanderings, He is able to pour out His grace and fulfill His purposes. Our brokenness does not limit God from working in our lives.
Prayer: Thank you, loving God, that Your grace is enough to cover my past, present, and future. I trust myself to You.
Thought for the Day: God is not finished with you.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Friday, June 13, 2014
Skeptics of the Bible have used Cain’s wife time and again to discredit the book of Genesis as a true historical record. Sadly, most Christians have not given an adequate answer to this question.
Is She the Most-Talked-About Wife in History?We don’t even know her name, yet she was discussed at the Scopes Trial, mentioned in the movies Inherit the Wind and Contact, and talked about in countries all over the world for hundreds of years.
Skeptics of the Bible have used Cain’s wife time and again to try to discredit the book of Genesis as a true historical record. Sadly, most Christians have not given an adequate answer to this question. As a result, the world sees them as not being able to defend the authority of Scripture and thus the Christian faith.
For instance, at the historic Scopes Trial in Tennessee in 1925, William Jennings Bryan, the prosecutor who stood for the Christian faith, failed to answer the question about Cain’s wife posed by the ACLU lawyer Clarence Darrow. Consider the following excerpt from the trial record as Darrow interrogates Bryan:
Read the entire article from Answers in Genesis here.
I recently attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. The BRMCWC is one of the largest meetings for Christian writers in the country, occurring annually in May. This year almost 400 people gathered to enjoy learning and collaborating about writing and publishing.
The BRMCWC holds a contest for unpublished authors. Contestants may enter into categories that they have not been paid for publication. I was awarded the following three awards for the unpublished authors contest: Honorable Mention in Devotions for the devotion God in the Bookstore, 3rd place in Poetry for the poem A Clean House One Day, and 2nd place in Non-Fiction Books for the book Hurt by the Church, Healed by Jesus. Here I am pictured with the directors of the conference, Dr. Alton Gansky of Fresno, California, and Edie Melson of Simpsonville, South Carolina.
Friday, June 6, 2014
"I think we can agree that being a pastor is nobler than being a convict. But announce that you are a former pastor and there will be raised eyebrows and whispers as though you had identified yourself as a former inmate. Either will likely elicit the silent response, “I wonder what he did.”
Unless you are 65+ years old and retired from ministry, being a former pastor seems to be an indictment of your character, your faith & perseverance, and/or your obedience to God. Regardless, you didn’t finish the race. You either quit or got disqualified; and both are considered disgraceful.
Been There, Done That
I had served as an assistant pastor in large churches for almost 20 years when I moved to the largest of the churches—a growing mega-church outside Nashville, TN. In retrospect I was ripe for a crash. It was with profound grief that I left the staff and the loving congregation of a church in South Carolina. When we moved to South Carolina I envisioned ministering in the Greenville church until my retirement which was decades removed. The pastor and I were childhood friends. This was going to be great! And it was… for a short while."
Read the entire article by Ramon Presson here.
"Remember who you belong to!"
Ma-Ma often left me with this challenge when I was a teenager and left the house to go out with my friends. As I walked out of the kitchen door, her exhortation followed me.
Those few words summarized a whole lot. I knew then and now that Ma-Ma was saying . . .
- You belong to the Lord. You are a representative of Jesus Christ to the world, so live like it.
- You belong to our family. You represent the Wilson and Hendrix families.
- Make decisions that honor the Lord and your parents. Don't be a fool!
Every good mom and dad wants their children to grow up to become adults with good character. We want them to shine like stars, as we often say to our children today.
As a father of three children, I want their character to outlast me.
As a young married couple, Bill and Gloria Gaither wanted to purchase some property in their hometown of Alexandria, Indiana. Having been told that the man who owned the specific land they desired would not sell, Bill decided to go see him face-to-face. After discussing the land, the owner realized that he once knew Bill's grandfather. The man told Bill that he would sell him the land because of the character of Bill's deceased grandfather. The man's character outlived him. His character was his legacy.
I have a few short years to influence my children when we live together in the same house. However, I can influence them for decades to come through my prayers.
The Scriptures provide several lists of noble character traits. Several years ago I took some of these lists and divided them up into specific prayers for each day of the month. There are twenty-nine traits here, one to pray daily. On months with thirty or thirty-one days, there is grace in case I miss a day or two.
Why not begin praying these simple traits for your family? The legacy just may outlast you.
1. Above reproach (a good reputation)
2. Husband of one wife (maintains moral purity)
3. Temperate (exemplifies balance in words and action)
4. Prudent (being wise and humble)
5. Respectable (serves as a good role model)
6. Hospitable (demonstrates unselfishness and generosity)
7. Able to teach (communicates sensitively)
8. Not given to wine (not addicted to substances)
9. Not self-willed (not self-centered)
10. Not quick-tempered (void of anger that becomes sinful)
11. Not abusive
12. Not contentious (not argumentative nor divisive)
13. Gentle (sensitive, loving, kind)
14. Free from the love of money (not materialistic)
15. One who manages his own house well (a good husband and father)
16. A good reputation with those outside the church (a good testimony to unbelievers)
17. Love what is good (pursues godly activities)
18. Just (wise, discerning, not prejudiced)
19. Devout (holy and righteous)
20. Not a new convert (mature in the faith)
The first twenty qualities are taken from Paul’s descriptions of the character of an elder. These character traits should
mark the life of any godly, mature man or
woman. The last nine traits come from
the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (1 Tim. 3:1-7; ; Galations 5:22-23) Titus 1:5-10
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
The test of spiritual maturity is not how high someone goes on top of the mountain but how well she fares coming down. Any believer can experience a high, a mountaintop experience. Not everyone, however, walks down into the plains of life gracefully.
Some posts on this blog I share not primarily for someone else, but for me. It is a way to remind myself, "This is an article you need to remember."
Dee Dee Parker wrote Coming Down from the Mountain after attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference two weeks ago. Dee Dee, an award-winning author, shares wisdom for the journey when we must walk down instead of up.
Your mountaintop may not be a writers conference, and your walking down into the valley will look different than mine, Dee Dee's, and anyone else's. For every Christian, though, to walk with God necessitates learning to walk down the mountain with wisdom and faith.
I hope you enjoy her article. It blessed me immensely.
I live among the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Awaking to their majesty each morning never grows old.
One thing I’ve learned after years of climbing the hallowed peaks is that you have to be careful on your descent. You have to be sure of your footing. Dangers await those who, after glorying at the pinnacle, don’t choose a wise path downward.
I’ve been on a mountaintop of sorts…a writer’s conference…Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers' Conference. Writers gather there each year to hone their craft, pitch to editors, and find agents and fellowship with like-minded folks. Writing, because of its nature, can be a solitary endeavor. The conference affords time of fellowship with those who share our love and fascination of words. We gather on the mountain and eat meals while discussing writing between bites, we relax in the hotel lobbies while sharing our newest projects and we walk to classes with others, talking about what we hope to glean from the next presenter. We come out of our writing dens and share our passion for the written word.
Read the entire article by Dee Dee here.