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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Lukewarm

I just finished the fourth chapter of Crazy Love by Francis Chan titled, “Profile of the Lukewarm.” In this chapter Chan makes a statement and I have taken the liberty of rewording into a question addressed to the follower of Christ. If you suddenly stopped believing in God would your lifestyle look any different? After reading Chan’s description of the “lukewarm” backed by several scripture verses I feel somewhat convicted.

Before I came to know Jesus I wasn’t a very nice person. Although not a criminal I would consider myself back then to be socially unacceptable. I was a foul mouthed bully who drank too much. I was abusive and cheated in marriage. I hurt several people emotionally and they will never know how sorry I am. My world changed in the Fall of 1987; I met Jesus in a real way. Professing Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my life began to change. Was it an overnight transformation we read or hear about? No. Yet, over time He has “pruned” and “molded” me into what I am today. There’s a verse in the Bible, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 1:6) I have to rest on this verse to know I am still a work in progress.

2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-unless indeed you fail the test?” I think this where I am right now. There are aspects with my life that fall short of the test. Am I a sold out Believer? No. Do I want to be? Yes. Do I want to sacrifice the things to achieve that? I’m not so sure. I equate this to my physical body. Back in the day (we all say that) I used to be a little on the buff side, but time and age have left me somewhat soft. I would like to look that way again someday but knowing the hard work it took to achieve that body leaves me a little unwilling to put in the effort. The diet, the exercise, all leaves me apprehensive. I don’t want my spiritual walk to be that way. I know God’s love for me is endless and very real and the only way I reipicate is through my lifestyle.

So take a spiritual inventory of your life. Don’t compare your self to anyone else. Hold your life up to the light of God’s Word. It’s my prayer you are a little better off than I am but just remember you haven’t arrived until He comes to get you.

God Bless,
Vernon

A Father’s Love

If your a father would you agree there’s nothing greater than the love you share for your children? I never realized how much my parents, especially my dad, loved me until I became a father myself. When I think about my boys my heart wells up and I push back tears while typing these words. Words can not express the true feelings in my soul.

I was extremely lucky growing up with parents who loved me and weren’t afraid to show me as much. My dad was in the Navy and thus spent a good part of time away from home but there was never any doubt. He loved me. Our time together was not as long or as often as either of us would have liked but he made it the best he could. I find the relationship with my boys in the same state. As a merchant marine, away from home some 240 days a year, I often times struggle making the time a high quality one. My boys are grown and I find myself relying on words more so than actions. Luckily I’m pretty sure they know my heart and we have a fluid relationship.

As strong as my father’s love for me, and the stronger love I have for my boys, it doesn’t compare to the love God has for both you and I. This is the subject of the third chapter of Crazy Love by Fancis Chan. Chan shares his personal relationship and experiences with his father and how it kept him from developing a healthy relationship with our Heavenly Father. He said, “I had no aspiration of being wanted by God; I was just happy not to be hated or hurt by him.” I wonder how many of us have that same feeling. I don’t share Chan’s feelings but my hang up is how often I disappoint Him. All He asks of us is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37-38) How hard is that really? Apparently it’s pretty hard for me. I struggle praying like I should. I struggle letting other things occupy my mind. I know when I fall short it saddens God and the blessing He has intended for me can’t flow my way. The challenge for me is to get my brain wrapped around the fact there’s nothing I can do to disqualify God’s love for me. When I get to that point I’m sure my life will reflect His love for me. Hopefully your already there.

Take care and God bless.
Vernon

What If Tomorrow Never Comes

World renown country legend Garth Brooks has a song titled, What If Tomorrow Never Comes. Some lyrics in the song go something like:

“If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I love her?
Have I shown every way, have I shown her every day she’s the
only one?”

This song has really been the cornerstone of how I approach my relationship with My wife, Debbie. Working away from home and being gone so much it’s vital she know (I mean really know) how much I love her and how much I cherish her. I think I do a good job of that.

Chapter two of Crazy Love, by Francis Chan is titled, “You May Not Finish This Chapter.” The theme of the chapter is really “What if tomorrow never comes?” We really do take take life for granted, especially when we’re younger. Yet when middle age comes and sunset the years approach our human mortality enters our mind more frequently. That thinking is contrary to God’s word and the Bible’s teaching. James 4:14 says “… your life is but a vapor…” and we are only here for a moment. Just look at the thousands of lives lost in the recent earthquake in Haiti. The truth is we are not guaranteed our next breath and we need to approach our relationship with Jesus the same way we approach our relationships with the loved ones in our life. Does God know you love him? The lyrics to our song could go, “Have I shown God every way, have I shown God every day how much I love Him?” What a sobering and extremely convicting thought. I know I haven’t.

Chan shares a story in this chapter that really hit home with me. He tells of a gentleman, Stan Gurlock, giving a eulogy at a funeral and feels led to share the Gospel with the mourners. He ends his talk with the question, “Are you ready?” Returning to the pugh he abroptly collapsed and died. Chan meets the family at the Gurlock home, comforts the wife and talks with the son and the the son says, “My Dad died doing what he loved.” Being at a loss Chan opened his Bible and read Matthew 10:32-33

“Whover acknowledges me before before men, I will also acknowlege him before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown before my Father in Heaven.”

Chan goes on to describe the scene in Heaven. Gurlock is standing before God and Jesus is speaking, “This is my man Dan. He told others about me. Let me tell you a little something about him.” Wouldn’t each of us love to stand before the Throne of Grace with Jesus by our side and hear Him say, “Let me tell you about…”

God Bless,
Vernon

The Awe Factor

The start of a new year causes many people to reflect on times past and things to come. Promises and resolutions are made and unfortunately many of them not kept. I guess I fall in with the rest of them. My last blog touted my desire to read Crazy Love by Francis Chan and share my thoughts as best I could. Well the book was waiting for me when I got home and I read the preface, introduction, and Chapter One and was totally blown away. The words and imagery of Chan showed me how very, very small I am (all of us) and how very, very large God is. Having said that, it has taken me nearly two weeks move through the fog and worship my Lord.

The title of Chapter One is “Stop Praying.” Kind of a sacrilegious title for a book depicting God’s love for you and I. Basically the material deals with how the modern church has forgotten how awesome God is in creation and has placed Him into the buildings we call churches and check marks on our to do lists. We’ve been taught to pray these rote prayers and never really grasp the righteousness of God. Never really having the reverent fear desired by Him. The following is a just a smidgen of what Chan shares regarding God and creation and then there’s five attributes of God we need to grasp before we can really approach the throne.

Years ago the comedian Arsinio Hall was on late night and had a segment called, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm?.” When you think about our planet, the galaxy, life in general, the “things that make you go hmmm” are unmeasurable. It’s in these things we find the attributes of God. The Apostle Paul wrote “For since the creation of world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, have been clearly seen…” and we wasn’t kidding. Think about the planet Earth for a second. Here we are spinning around, fast enough to thrown off and yet gravity holds us down. The Earth itself is in orbit around the Sun and any change at all in the orbit would cause all life to die. How about our solar system, our galaxy, the other 350,000,000,000 galaxies out there? Saying “Hmmm” yet? Did you know the caterpillar has 228 separate and distinct muscles in its brain? How about the fact that the average elm tree will have approximately 6 million leaves on it at one time? Don’t even ask about a pine tree…I accumulate at least 20 bags of pine straw each time home. How about the fact there’s 3000 different species of trees within one square mile of Amazon jungle? How about the human body? Reproduction and child birth? Finger prints and none are the same? HMMM!

The list goes on and on. It’s not until we see God for who He is and what He has done and is doing we realize our position and are able to approach Him with deep, sincere humility. Let’s take a look at the five attributes of God asserted by Chan in Chapter One.

God is Holy. I suppose that would be the most important attribute and regardless of what we think about God his holiness sets Him apart from everything else. “Holy” means to set apart and because of God’s “set apart-ness” there’s no way we can fathom all who he is. That used to bother me. The fact my peanut sized brain can’t grasp the enormity of God and all he is. Now I’m kind of glad I can’t grasp it and really don’t want to.

God is Eternal. Most people would agree with this statement. Everything, everyone, has a beginning and end. There was a moment in time when their existence began. Not God. He outside the limits of time. He has always existed. Can’t figure that one out either but isn’t that cool?

God is All Knowing. Now that’s a scary thought. All of us from time to time have tried to pull the wool over someones eyes. Tried to get away with something. A little secret here a little secret there. That game doesn’t fly with God. As big ad God is He still has an interest in us and we can not escape Him. He knows our thoughts before we think them. He knows our deed before we do them. Hebrews 4:13 says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

God is All Powerful. There’s all kinds of verses in the Bible referring to God’s power and how He created everything and how He created them for Himself. Chan points out we have it wrong. We live our lives like we created god, he’s here for our purposes, to bless us, almost like we are the god to be worshipped. The fact is God doesn’t need you or me and He can do and will do what ever He wants and doesn’t have to explain things to anyone.

God is Fare and Just. One definition of justice is “reward and/or penalty for what’s deserved.” If it were up to us to dispense justice there would be many different answers. But its not up to us because in God’s eyes none of us is good enough. The only one who is good is God alone. The fact all of have fallen short of God’s glory and are not “good enough” to enter his presence leaves us with a dilemma. The answer to that problem comes in a future chapter.

So, as I try to mesh the awesomeness of God with His desire to have an intimate relationship with me, I’ll try to reflect on his glory and holiness when I pray. Prayer will have a whole different look for me now. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and please feel free to comment.

God Bless,
Vernon