waiting…

He was just sitting on a stump and watching sheep. That’s all. Pretty boring. He had not seen this as a career option when studying in one of the world’s most prestigious universities. But I think it is safe to say that later in life, Moses looked back with gratitude on those days. Without this first wilderness experience, it is unlikely that there would have been a second, and successful, wilderness experience. The Psalmist sang, “He has made known His ways to Moses…” (Ps. 103:7). How? Where? In the wilderness. A dry and desolate classroom. Degrees from this school are not highly sought after but they are highly regarded. You may only see sheep and wild terrain where God wants you to see Him instead. It’s in the wilderness that God made of Moses a leader and a servant. And it is in the wilderness that He will do the same for us. Development and maturity are not an events. Time in God’s classroom is necessary.

Moses spent almost two thirds of his life in that school and he eventually saw in the wilderness what others could not see. He saw God. The Psalmist goes on to say in that same verse (Ps. 103:7) that “He made known… His acts to the people of Israel.” Of course, Moses saw the acts of God too but He saw more. The people saw what God did – “the acts”. Moses saw Who was behind “the acts” and came to understand the “ways of God.”

Even during the first wilderness visit, Moses did not just see a burning bush. That was not uncommon in a dry and desolate place. He saw more. He saw a bush that would not stop burning and he stopped. In that moment God revealed Himself to Moses and sent him back to Egypt. Moses had always wanted to free his people but Moses couldn’t. Only God could. And He did! He did it through Moses.

We get angry with the mountain in our path. Finding it insurmountable, we try to tunnel through or walk around it. Only God can move that mountain. We question what God is doing today as well as what He has told us in the past. This was not the path we chose. Perhaps it’s not a mountain but a messy mire you’re stuck in – family, marriage, boss or colleagues – and you cannot find your footing. You think you’re wasting time, spinning wheels, in the wrong place, detoured… and cannot see that God has you where you belong. Maybe it’s time to stop and look. Somewhere nearby God is waiting to reveal Himself to you, show you His ways, and give you direction but only when you are ready. And that will not be until you have seen and heard Him and learned His ways for you. Not your way – His way – will lead you over that mountain and through that mire. Being by thanking God to love you enough to put you where you need Him and where you can get to know Him and then wait. Listen as He builds you, develops you, and trains you for what’s next!

Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

(Ps. 27:14)

On Mission Today

 

Wherever you are today, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are on mission with Jesus. This is intentional, not coincidental. Primary, not peripheral. Normal, not extraordinary. Adam and Eve were created and then commissioned to fill the earth with His glory. The first man, Adam, failed. However, Jesus Christ, the last Adam succeeded. When He walked out of the tomb, He was the first of a new creation. As new creations in Christ, we have been “re-commissioned” to fill the earth with His glory. It is not a career choice. It is not an unusual thing done in a far-away place. It is why the Spirit made you spiritually alive and indwelled you – to be a witness. It is God’s call to all who wear His name. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ today. Doing discipling is dong life if you’re a believer.

 

Ministry Update

It has turned cold and I’m heading north. Something may be wrong with this plan but I think not. Not if things go as well as they did herein southeastern Michigan. My heart was warmed by the time spent with about twenty good friends here in Ypsilanti.

Friends who grew up together, former leaders, colleagues, classmates, teammates, co-laborers in the Lord’s work, church members… the people who have impacted, been patient with, and even suffered me as a friend. True friends who know the chaff and wheat in me and yet encourage, pray for, and stand with me.

The only failure was in not hearing their stories. They have all been faithful even though many of them have hit career walls and suffered reverses. Not hearing how God has stood with and enabled them through the years of family life, fighting serious illnesses, hitting the ground and getting back up – as a righteous man does –was my loss. My biggest disappointment was in talking too much and listening too little. Nonetheless, it was a refreshing time.

The blessing of the night was that we got to dine with Mike and Lauvonia Smith. We were honored by their presence. In the circles I grew up and from whence came my spiritual DNA, these people remain highly respected and much loved. Rightly so. As many of you know, Mike Sr. is fighting terminal cancer and after reminding us that we are all terminal, he testified of God’s sustaining grace and of his determination to live out his days glorifying God. We took time to pray for Mike, the Wesco family, for Evan. Ken Ouellette’s family and one in attendance that night with another serous medical need.

We could’ve spent hours together. As it was, we shut down the restaurant. (The staff at Haab’s was excellent and patient). We caught up as much as we could and I was so honored to see each one who came. I’m not sure any support was raised for the three “for generation four” 2019 trips but other more important things took place.

I m so grateful for each one of you who showed up and for those who would’ve been there had they been able. Thank you for the fellowship and encouragement. If we have another opportunity, we’ll take more time to hear others honor God for His sustaining grace.

Please pray as I hit the road tomorrow and head through Michigan’s U.P. over to Pembine, WI. Ask God to bless us Sunday at Faith Baptist. I’m looking forward to meeting with them at the Lord’s table. The cold weather has begun up there but I pray the fire of God will warm our hearts as we worship.

Yours for generation four, Bill

When God Pulls the Rug Out

By: Ed Welch

Has this happened to you?

  • You read all the signs that were so blatantly from the Lord—“yes, this is the path, go this way, I am with you.”
  • You have been amazed at the way he opened doors—you were scared but you walked through them.
  • The Lord confirmed his will for you through other people too—they were excited that God was doing this.
  • Finally, you were on board. You were excited. You were all in. You had peace about your decision.
  • And then, splat, he pulled the rug out from under you.

How will you be able to trust God again?

This, I think, is a common experience. Very common. It happens with all kinds of decisions: business, vocational, financial and relationships. You pray earnestly, you see God moving, you are amazed, and then…  it looks as if he simply vanished and left you on your own. You especially see it in broken relationships. That is, you seek the Lord about a marriage or relationship decision, it starts almost too well, and then the relationship takes a sudden and tragic turn, and there is no explanation for it.

You want to know why

Some problems are universal, but this one is for those who are spiritually mature. It happens to people who are earnestly seeking God, and only the mature do such things. And though anger toward God might flash occasionally, it isn’t the real issue. The real problem is that you feel you no longer know him. You want to know why God did this, yet he is silent. It doesn’t make sense: he gives with one hand and takes away with the other.

“Why?”

When no response comes, you start filling in the blanks. Maybe you deserved it. Maybe you have done wrong and you need to figure out what it is. That’s what maturity gets you; you see yourself as the culprit. This approach is understandable and—misguided.

 Not a scavenger hunt for sin

“Why, O Lord?” is a recurring question in Scripture. In response, God does not send anyone on a scavenger hunt for sin, and does not fill in all the details that the asker might want to know either. Instead, he reaffirms that he does see trouble and grief (Ps. 10:14), and he will strengthen those who are weak (Is. 40:27-31). With these words he is revealing to us what we really need to know.

 Check your assumptions

But there is another matter to consider.

All this started with our assumptions about how God works—we had confidence that we could know the will of God. We could discern the “open doors” and had that “peace.” Even more, we were confident that those open doors would lead to blessing, according to our definition of blessing. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate.

The Apostle Paul held very different assumptions yet he believed that he knew plenty about God’s will. The King reigns, the Spirit has been poured out, the nations are ripe for the picking—that was enough for him. The times he received specific direction, he was confident that it would mean blessing for the larger church and hardships for him. He knew that if God was in it there would be challenges—challenges that reveal weaknesses and test faith.

God is not playing games when he pulls the rug out from under you. He is up to something, but it is probably not what you think it is.

Written by Ed Welch / Published: Sep 10, 2012

Why was Paul so Tough?

Why was Paul so tough on those guys in Galatia? Not the members but the leaders. In chapter 5:7-12, Paul lays into the teachers without mercy accusing them of hindering spiritual progress in the believers. The word used here (5:7) means to obstruct their growth and at times to stop it! Not what you expect a spiritual leader to do with his flock. Paul says what was being taught by these leaders was so unlike the gospel that it could not have come from Him who “called” them (5:8). He gets even tougher and describes their ministry as a leaven which changes everything (5:9) and states that such teachers are worthy of judgment and condemnation (5:10).

Keep in mind that epistles were usually read publicly to the church and these men were likely present. Paul was not playing politics. He was playing for keeps!  He goes on to claim that their “gospel teaching” removes Christ and the cross from the Gospel. He was still preaching the Christ and the gospel and was even being persecuted for it! That Jesus died for their sins on the cross was the very heart of their standing with God. His Calvary work assured them of His presence and power in their lives and their eternal future. So dangerous were such teachers that Paul wished they would slip with their own Pharisaical knives and emasculate (castrate) themselves. And yes, that is the literal and accurate translation of the Greek Paul used in verse twelve. Wow! Why was Paul so tough on these guys?

Because the minute self-effort is mixed into the Gospel, it becomes powerless to save. Adding one’s own works to the gospel makes it like all other religions in the world – based on human works and empty of grace. Grace is removed and now one’s salvation depends on being good enough to earn favoritism from God. But God will not ever be in debt to anybody. The minute one can earn their way or “keep” their salvation by their own meritorious works, they become the boaster and God the debtor and it is not possible for God to be God and to be in debt to anyone. God owes no one anything and no sinner can ever produce works enough to put God in his debt. He owes no man salvation or a place in heaven. We cannot do the work it would take. Jesus did the work. The only man who was not a sinner and who was infinitely righteous and eternally existent and able thereby to do the work, earn the merit, pay the debt man owed to God, and please the Father was the God-man Jesus.

The minute the false teachers arrived in Galatia and began to spread their leaven, the glory and majesty of Jesus took a blow. Calvary was no longer the message but a footnote. The glory of God was diminished and the love of God was tarnished. What was their problem? Did they believe the Father did not respect the obedience of His Son? Did they think the life and Calvary-work of Jesus marred and sinful or that it contained errors and missteps? What was it about God’s character that made them think He would send His Son on a mission and then refuse to honor the Son’s worshipful obedience, holy toil and sinless sacrifice? What kind of Father did they think He was?

When these false teachers stepped in and began to devalue the work of Jesus and diminish the glory of God is when Paul got tough. As Paul Washer says in The Gospel Call and True Conversion, “This is why the apostle Paul labors with all his might in his writings to accentuate the depravity of humanity and prove their utter inability to please God in the flesh. He desires that ‘every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God’ (Rom. 3:19). Only then will people turn their eyes from themselves and look to God in faith. Only then will they cease from their work and fall into the arms of grace. Only then will their boasting in self become a boasting in God. ‘As it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD’’ (1 Cor. 1:31).”

Wherever the Gospel of grace has been preached, this heresy follows. Satan is quick to send his preachers to mix the message, dilute the power of Christ, and diminish the name of God. Many believe they’ve been saved but that they had better be good so that they can stay saved. It is as though they believe more in their conduct and behavior than in the conduct and behavior of Jesus. Jesus lived a sinless life and died a perfect death and rose again with new life for those who trust in His work – not their works. No man is saved by his works. One can only be saved by Jesus’ work. Let go of your works and accept His. He obeyed because we could not obey and His obedience can be ours only by faith.

These false teachers did not like the idea that God’s Son had to die for them. This was, as Paul said, an offense and scandal to them (5:11). They must have been embarrassed that there was nothing meritorious within them that would impress God and force him to owe them their salvation. Their pride and desire for self-honor refused to let them give God His honor. We can all understand their struggle. We are strongly bent to please ourselves and seek respect and value in the eyes of others but the only true value and honor we can ever find is that which is found through the infinite value and perfect work of Jesus who invites us to join Him in the Father’s family as joint-heirs. There is our proper and right rejoicing – not in me but in what He has done for me and for who I am through His work – a forgiven and cleansed saint in the eyes of the Father. Beloved and in the family of God. I am child of God and that I can boast in. As Paul exclaimed, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Is being a Church Member relevant?

Thomas Rainer wrote a short, clear, and simple book on church membership. It’s an excellent book. I’ve used it as a pastor in  new members classes. Here are some recent comments he made about the relevancy of the term “church member.” I wholeheartedly agree.

“Two years ago I released a book…and I’ve been blown away with the response; sales are about to reach one million books. One of the more frequent question readers have asked me is: ‘Do you think the term “church member“’ is still relevant?’’‘  My simple response is, ‘Yes I do.’ In fact, I have seven reasons why I emphatically believe churches should never let go of this descriptor.

It is biblical. One of the best descriptions of church membership is in 1 Corinthians 12. The Apostle Paul specifically uses the term “member” at several points in the chapter. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12: 27, he says: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.”

It is a perfect metaphor for belonging. Read the same chapter, specifically verses 15 to 20. Look how many times Paul uses the word “belong.” To be a member of the body of Christ, the church, is to belong to an incredible gift given to us by God.

It is a perfect metaphor for contributing. As Paul describes the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, he highlights the diversity of gifts of the members, and emphasizes the absolute mandate for every member to function and contribute. There is no place in the church for non-contributing members.

It is a perfect metaphor for caring. Because church members all belong to the same body, they are motivated and mandated to care for one another. Paul states this truth clearly: “So there would be no division in the body, but the members would have the same concern for each other” (1 Corinthians 12:25).

It is a perfect metaphor for unity. Church members are members of something greater than themselves, the body of Christ. Once again, we are reminded of this truth in 1 Corinthians 12:27: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it (emphasis added).

It is commonly understood by most people. Some churches use terms other than church member to describe those affiliated with their congregation. My purpose in writing this article is not to disparage them, but to advocate for a term that is both biblical and clear. Most people do indeed understand the basic meaning of church member.

It does not yield to culture. We have abandoned too many things in our churches in order to accommodate culture. While we recognize that some people will think of membership in the sense of country club membership, we in the church need to reclaim its biblical intent. Church membership does not mean we get perks and privileges because we “pay our dues.”

It means we give, sacrifice, and serve.  The essence of church membership is the sense of belonging to something so much greater than any one of us individually. We are thus motivated to give, serve, love, and care. The biblical understanding of church membership is an incredible concept. It is not a term we should abandon.”

Treasuring Truth

What is the value of truth? Priceless. “Buy the truth and sell it not” counseled the wiseman in Proverbs 23:23 because no price can be set that matches its value. Of course, the wiseman speaking of more than just the matter of truth-telling though the clear implication is that honesty is to be highly valued (even by fishermen). But the rare and valuable commodity the sage is referring to primarily is the matter of wisdom and understanding. Core truths, foundational principles, and unchanging realities. Spurgeon said, “…we must never sell the truth, but hold it fast as a treasure that will last us when gold has cankered, and silver has rusted, and the moth has eaten up all goodly garments, and when all the riches of men have gone like a puff of smoke, or melted in the heat of the judgment day like the dew in the beams of the morning sun. Buy the truth. Here is the treasure. Cost it what it may, buy you it. Here is the piece of merchandise which you must buy, but must not sell. You may give all for it, but you may take nothing in exchange for it, since there is nothing that can be likened unto it.”

The following news item demonstrates the clear value of God’s truth that is found in His inspired and inerrant word. What happens when a church decides to no longer stand on that priceless and worthy truth? Read on..

WHEN “DISCERNMENT” LEADS TO DISASTER   

“The historic First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina, announced in May that it would declare itself be ‘open and welcoming’ to all people and that it would allow same-sex marriage and ordain openly homosexual ministers.  The move came after the church had undergone a ‘discernment’ process under the leadership of a ‘LGBT Discernment Team.’ That team brought a report to the church’s deacons, who then forwarded it to the congregation. The church then approved the statement by standing vote.

The statement is very clear: ‘In all facets of the life and ministry of our church, including but not limited to membership, baptism, ordination, marriage, teaching and committee/organizational leadership, First Baptist Greenville will not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.’….The congregation, now more than 180 years old, is one of the most historic churches in the South. It participated in the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845…. Few churches in the South can match its historical record.

Nevertheless, First Baptist Greenville and the Southern Baptist Convention had moved in very different theological directions in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The church was moving steadily in a more liberal direction and the Southern Baptist Convention was moving to affirm the inerrancy of Scripture and a far more confessional understanding of its identity.  The church and the denomination were set on a collision course, and the congregation voted to withdraw from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1999. If that had not happened, the SBC would have moved to withdraw fellowship on the basis of the church’s announcement in May. The denomination has adopted a policy of withdrawing fellowship from any church that affirms or endorses homosexuality….

The central issue of dispute (between the SBC and the church) was the inerrancy of the Bible. The more liberal faction in the SBC affirmed that the Bible is ‘authoritative,’ but would not affirm inerrancy. Conservatives focused their arguments on the necessary affirmation that the Bible is completely without error. Both sides knew that the issues at stake ranged far beyond inerrancy, but both sides also knew that inerrancy was the central axis around which all other issues revolved.”

Mohler goes on to say, “There are big lessons here for every church, every denomination, and every Christian institution. Once biblical inerrancy is abandoned, there is no brake on theological and moral revisionism. The Bible’s authority becomes relative, and there is no anchor to hold the church to the words of Scripture and 2,000 years of Christian witness.  The discernment process at First Baptist Church in Greenville offers us all ample lessons that should lead to a more fundamental discernment: Without the affirmation that the Bible is inerrant, ‘discernment’ leads to disaster.”

(“WHEN “DISCERNMENT” LEADS TO DISASTER” was written by Dr. Charles Wood and copied, with permission, from his private blog THE WOODCHUCK’S DEN.)

Why Do Daily Bible Reading?

For fifty-four years, I have been awash in God’s grace. However, I can’t say I always understood that nor when I did, I cannot say I embraced it daily. Fortunately, it has held me every day. Many undeserved gifts were given thorough the work of Christ. One was the ability, through the sending of the Holy Spirit, to understand His word. His Word and His Spirit are a packaged gift, and like all gifts, it can be received with varying degrees of ownership. How I wish I’d read and studied it every day of my life. To have memorized and meditated more on it and to have always owned it as my own would have done much for my life, my self, and my loved ones. Why? For many reasons but here are a few.

1. Wisdom: Every morning, my mind wakes up worrying or wondering or wandering. It has sometimes awakened me with outright fear, angst, and, upon occasion, with a wonderful idea or plan. Sometimes it is in a great state and sometimes it is in a deplorable state. My selfish ambitions, fleshy desires, and vain ideas are all swimming around and I need to sort through them quickly and center my thinking with clarity. Some of that sorting happens quickly and easily. Praying through morning duties and talking to God in one’s heart can clear much clutter but how clear other matters become when I open God’s word. It is my habit to read a chapter in Proverbs every morning. On a practical level, things that matter most in duties and relationships jump off the page. A few Psalms will focus my soul on the greatness and largeness of God. At 4AM, that family or church issue looked so daunting but after a little time in worship before God’s sovereign throne, life gets scaled back to the standard of realism. Reading with an ear to the Spirit on a daily basis reminds me of who I am, who He is, and why and how much (or how little) others matter. It equips me with a mountaintop from which I more accurately perceive life’s vista. Sometimes, it’s only a treetop but God’s will in my life becomes doable.

2. Truth: While it is not enough to have right doctrine, it is necessary. Don’t forget that the demons could likely pass any seminary exam as they have a lot of experience with holy things (James 2:19). So deep theology is not a cure-all for weak or poor spirituality or for bad character. However, poor theology means a poor view of God and a poor view of God will warp all of one’s thinking in a wrong direction. Understanding God better and more deeply will widen and heighten the space in one’s soul to experience joy, peace, grief, disappointments and to rest in the beauty of God’s gospel. Also, understanding what is real and what is true and what is not real in this world is not easy. Constant bombardment with other’s views, opinions, slants, and spins is a reality of our hi-tech culture. Being connected yet disconnected is so easy today and not just relationally but in regards to God’s truth as well. One can easily hear more views and opinions today in an hour than ever before yet never hear God’s voice. Daily Bible reading will deepen you and connect you to ancient and eternal truth needed in any and every age.

3. Worship: My agenda is made and I am ready for the day. Does it include worship? If I have not stopped to be reminded of the beauty and power of God, my list may reveal my idol. It could be me. If I have to get this list done to feel fulfilled and accomplished, respected and admirable, whom am I worshipping? Whom do I fear? Others? My boss, the crew, and my family can easily supplant a righteous motive in my heart with a good one – and that is one step (or more) down we’re asking God to take in our hearts. Daily Bible reading brings me to commune with the architect of my soul and helps me become more effective in ordering all the lesser priorities and less, but significant, relationships and enables me to keep Him high above all.

The danger of Bible reading (yes, it can hinder you) is that one may trust the Bible or the habit of reading it to be all one needs. Approached in this manner, it can become a tool or an idolatrous sacrament. What one needs is God – Father, Son, and Spirit – and what one needs to do is come before Him at the throne of grace for help. Properly read, this is where the Bible will take us – to our knees! The value of Bible reading is lost when one treats it as a formula for success, a sacrament or ritual that adds spirituality to one’s life, or as a good luck charm that guarantees that God is happy with them and will bless them that day. I am reminded of the impact that Bible reading had on George Whitfield as a new believer. His first time through the Bible, he read it on his knees. He was not worshiping the book. He was worshiping its Author. He was in wonder at the God the Bible revealed. He was humbly positioned to receive the teaching of His Master. Are we?

STAYING SHARP WHEN GROWING OLD

How can one stay current even as they move into the last two decades of their lives? I do not mind growing older – who can avoid it? – but I don’t want to be one of those older folks who holds others back.  It seems many older folks are oblivious to what is going on around them and, therefore, become less and less relevant, practical, and helpful. The following counsel is from an octogenarian that I have known for many years. I met him when I was in college. He has walked a consistent and authentic walk in life and ministry over the years. You may not agree with everything he says here but it is all worth thinking about.

SECRETS TO STAYING ON THE “CUTTING EDGE:”
No one will ever convince me that growing older and duller necessarily go together.  The old bod tells me that I am growing older (then there’s Vin Scully, five years older than I and still doing play-by-play for the L. A. Dodgers), but the mind is still at least marginally functional.  I work with and am around people the age of my children (and younger) very frequently (our church is multi-generational), and I don’t want to loose that certain edge.  Here are ten of my suggestions for staying sharp while growing older.
1.  Keep on dreaming.  I know he is as annoying as all get out, but “Dickie” Vitale, who is 75, wants to be the first broadcaster to do live play-by-play when he is one hundred.  Now that’s a dream.  When all your dreams have come true, you had better get some new ones.  There are still things I want to do and accomplish before the Lord takes me home (I’ll spare you the list).  Here’s a neat little outline on dreams: dare to dream; prepare the dream; wear the dream; repair the dream and share the dream.
2.  Keep in touch.  I always try to talk with some of the younger people (and that includes some in their teens) every opportunity I have.  I also try to do something very difficult for a man my age (especially one with hearing problems), I try to listen.  Although at this point a hearing aid is in the dream realm, I don’t want to be the guy about whom someone – I think it was his wife – once said, “I wonder why he has that hearing aid, he never listens anyhow.”  Spend time with people.  Do what Jesus did – walk slowly through the crowd.
3.  Keep growing internally.  Let’s face it, the standard of greatness keeps rising, but the means to achieve it is also rising at an even faster pace.  Get around great people.  Listen to great videos, visit great places (when possible), attend great events, read great books.  Try Tim Keller’s Center Church – if that doesn’t give you a brain freeze, it will give you a ton of things to think about.
4.  Forget the fear factor: Fear is the thief of dreams.  There is always more lost in what we don’t do because of fear than in what we actually do.  I’m not sure the battle with fear is ever over, even if it’s just the fear of being considered an old boor.
5.  Focus on recruiting, mentoring, etc., leaders to eventually take your place.  I think it was John Maxwell who said that leaders who last, recruit and mentor strong leaders.  What are you doing to leave behind a legacy of shared insights, constant encouragement, lessons learned?  That’s one of the reasons why there is a Woodchuck’s Den.  I don’t know a whole lot about a whole lot of things, but I have been there, done that, and am more than willing to share the consequences of a whole lot, whether good or bad!
6.  Ah yes, fatigue.  I tire more easily than I once did, and it takes me longer to get it back together than it once did (and sometimes even longer to remember where I put it after I had it all together), but He promised me that my strength would be sufficient for my days.  I have previously quoted the profound wisdom of Warren Wiersbe, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”  And sometimes that’s all I need to get back after it again.
7.  Watch your priorities.  Sure, there’s a tendency to meander in life, but things that matter most must never be subordinated to things that matter least.  As our days grow shorter (and that is true of everyone), we need to prioritize such things as money, time, people, activities, gifts, to say nothing of family.  Just this exercise might well prove difficult enough to keep you on the cutting edge (be careful that you don’t get “cut” on that family thing.  Grand kids are great, (and great grands even greater), but be careful of the priorities.
8.  Keep the big picture in mind.  We get so wrapped up in who we are, what we are doing, how people are treating us, etc., that we sometimes forget that it really isn’t all about us.  God’s work on earth is vast (one of the reasons I struggle with those content to stay in little denominational or positional boxes), and I want to be involved in it as long as I possibly can be.  By-the-way, hopefully, your church won’t close the day you leave it.
9. Be open to change – there I said it, and I meant to say it, and I’m glad I said it!!!  My doctrine hasn’t changed a bit over the years, but a whole lot of others things have because I live in a world that is constantly changing.  Change itself is neither good nor bad, but part of staying on that cutting edge is keeping abreast of what is changing, evaluating it and making a decision regarding it.  I’m a bit weary of people my age who have an automatic negative reaction to change.  For instance – and I’ve said this before – I don’t like all of the new music, but I didn’t like all of the old music either, and I love some of the talented kids that are involved in the new music.  May I make a suggestion?  How about concentrating on the words instead of the instruments, repetitions, unfamiliar (and sometimes, un-singable) tunes.
10. Beware of hidden private sin.  Just because you are no longer the lead man doesn’t mean that you have a certain quota of sin that you are allowed without offending God.  Yes, we’re physically immune to some of the more fleshly lusts, but our often insufficiently occupied minds are fertile grounds for the devil to work.
And a final, unnumbered word: be careful in keeping on the cutting edge that you don’t fall off the edge.  More than one of God’s older servants has done something later in life that has destroyed much of what he spent his life building.  And if you are a younger whipper-snapper, don’t hesitate to share these thoughts with your older members and blaming them on me.

Vote. Then open The Book.

This past Sunday, I urged our people to vote. Jesus commanded His followers to be salt and light and to love their neighbors. That being said, let me state that I do not believe that the hope of America rises and falls on any election let alone this one. The government does not have, never has, and never will have, the answers we need. Our society’s great need is a spiritual revival among us believers. Call me cynical, but I am not sure that is going to happen without the the rug being pulled out form underneath the culture Christians have accommodated themselves to. The answer to our national ills is not in an election but in The Book. I thought this poem was a breath of fresh air in its perspective. It does express a hunger for truth and a lucid awareness that truth is missing in our society. That is not a shocking event in a post-christian world where all is relative and the public square no longer allows a fixed point of view. Without a “true north” on the compass of one’s soul, how can anyone find their way? There is only one Absolute. “In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God” (Jn. 1:1)

 
The Last Election 

Suppose there are no returns,
and the candidates, one
by one, drop off in the polls,
as the voters turn away,
each to his inner persuasion.

The frontrunners, the dark horses,
begin to look elsewhere,
and even the President admits
he has nothing new to say;
it is best to be silent now.

No more conventions, no donors,
no more hats in the ring;
no ghost-written speeches,
no promises we always knew
were never meant to be kept.

And something like the truth,
or what we knew by that name-
that for which no corporate
sponsor was ever offered-
takes hold in the public mind.

Each subdued and thoughtful
citizen closes his door, turns
off the news. He opens a book,
speaks quietly to his children,
begins to live once more.

John Haines

What if Americans opened the Book, spoke quietly to their children, and began to live — some for the first time?

Don’t just vote. It won’t be enough. Pray. And, above all, open The Book.

exhorting others to run