Monday, December 24, 2012

12/24/12

During the Christmas holidays it is traditional for families to gather together.  But, although it is traditional, that does not necessarily make it 100% positive and pleasant.  Some family relationships can be strained for various reasons.  There may be offenses of the past or aggravations in the present or anxieties about the future that have to be navigated relationally.  For Christ-followers, we have a deeper motivation and extra empowerment for relating to anyone and everyone… especially those to whom we are related:

Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  Acceptance is vital to loving others.  We tend to want to change people first, but, in fact, our best pathway to seeing change happening in others is for us to begin accepting them, valuing them.  In other words, the initiation of an attitude change in us triggers changes in the way they respond and relate to us.  When others feel our acceptance, when they feel valued, it will result in a different chemistry.  Remember this when you are around that neglectful adult child, that critical mother, that controlling father, that annoying brother-in-law, that unresponsive son-in-law over the holidays.

Pray with me…  Father in heaven, thank you for accepting us and receiving us and adopting us into your forever family.  And thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit that is at work in us, as we yield to His power, to conform us into the likeness of the one perfect person who was born at Christmas and lives evermore.  In His dear name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, December 17, 2012

12/17/12

THE HEROD DEFECT of the first century is still in effect in the twenty-first century.  Matthew records in 2:16, “… Herod… was furious, and he gave the orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time…” And the times have not changed.  The evil that was resident in the paranoid mind of Herod also infected the mind of a 20-year old young man in Newtown, Connecticut, now over 2000 years removed.  Surely the last step down in depravity is to wantonly take the lives of innocent children.  The irony… and tragedy… is that both of these unspeakable crimes against God and man were perpetrated in the season of the advent… Christmas.   The fear and suffering that surrounded the birth of Jesus then has now been deposited in the impressionable minds of surviving children and their families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The heart-pain of the Bethlehem mothers on that first Christmas was prophesied by Jeremiah 31:15, “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”  This lament parallels the anguish in the hearts of the mothers in Newtown, Connecticut this Christmas 2012.  But, as we wring our hands and pound our fists against our foreheads for an answer as to why these things happen… can we be reminded again that the only way these tragedies can be resolved is by the presence and power of the One who came to earth who was ‘full of grace and truth’ [John 1:17]?  He alone will bring justice where His love has not been received.   And, without Jesus, there is no help or hope.  Without Him there will be no resolution or glad reunion with these little lost loved ones in the greater life.  Because He lives, we too shall live.

Pray with me [and the apostle John in Revelation 22:20]… “Come again Lord Jesus.”  Amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken



Monday, December 10, 2012

12/10/12

2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”

It was obviously a few years back, since the reporter for ‘Good Morning America’ at the time was Joan Lunden… But, I remember the Christmas that she detailed some extraordinary gifts you might want to include on your wish list.  [Of course you would have to up the ante to allow for inflation in these prices.]  One of them was a Jaguar 220.  It requires an $80,000 deposit with the remaining $587,000 due upon delivery.  [They only make 250 of these a year.]  She also mentioned that if you were to purchase such an automobile, you might also be interested in the new car wax that promises to give your Jaguar the ultimate shine.   It retails for $3400 for an eight ounce can!  Or, if this package is too much, you could opt for a $28,000 pacifier, a $27,000 pair of sunglasses, an $18,000 frisbee, a $12,000 mousetrap or a $10,000 yo-yo.   These gifts stagger the imagination, but they are not indescribable.

There is an often-quoted Christmas card that goes like this:

“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator.  If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist.  If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an entrepreneur.  If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer.  But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.”

Pray with me… Our Loving Father, You are the giver of every good and perfect gift, but the best gift and the most perfect gift is the indescribable gift you gave us in Jesus.  We thank you for seeing beyond our faults to supply our needs.  In Jesus’ dear Name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, December 3, 2012

12/3/12

One of the greatest places to be in this life is in the place of contentment.  And there is but one source of ultimate contentment.  Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life…. then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”  But, too many people are discontented and it leads them into attitudes and behaviors that are personally depressive or destructive, both to them and their loved ones.  Spending excessively, going into unmanageable debt, indulging in carnality, uncontrolled anger, drug and alcohol addictions, obsession with the physical appearance, a manipulative or controlling personality, criminal activity…. all these and more are manifestations and expressions of discontentment.  The wisdom of Proverbs is that love and respect for the Lord at the very center of who we are means abundant life/contentment, but without the Lord at the center of who we are, we will be touched by trouble.

Now there is a sense in which we are all exposed to trouble.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation [trouble], but, be encouraged, I have overcome the world.”  So, for the child of God, the Christ-follower…. even though exposed to trouble because of life on this fallen planet…. we are untouched.  We are living daily with the security of knowing we are in Christ and that life in Him is a place of grace, peace and contentment.  I think it is what our incarnate Lord meant in Matthew 11:28 when He extended to us all what has been called The Great Invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest [contentment].”

Pray with me…. Our loving Father, we come to you in renewed devotion today.  We praise and thank you for the gift of contentment, the blessing of knowing You, loving You and serving You above all other priorities in life.  In this busy season, at another year’s end, we pray for special moments that remind us we have ‘fullness of life’ in Jesus, the Source of our contentment.  In His name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, November 26, 2012

11/26/12

I have never understood why Christians are notoriously poor tippers in restaurants in light of 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”  I know that, in context, this passage is specifically referring to the Apostle Paul’s appeal to the Corinthian Christians to provide a financial offering to advance God’s purpose.  But, it seems to me that this statement from scripture is a universal axiom for living on planet earth.  There is a smallness of life that characterizes those who are selfish hoarders of all they earn and own.  It is impossible to escape the negative consequences of living such a life.  On the other hand, there is a largeness of life that characterizes those who love to give their time, their energy and their resources to honor God and bless people.  It is impossible to miss the positive rewards of living such a life.

So, maybe the next time we have an $8 check for lunch and a $10 bill in our wallet/purse, we could save ourselves a struggle over what to leave as a tip.  Instead of spending 5 minutes doing the math and getting change to save $.50, maybe we should just go ahead and leave a $2 tip instead of $1.50?  You could bless the waiter/waitress.  It may not seem like much, but the message that goes along with it can mean the world to someone.  It says, “Thanks, you did a good job. I appreciate your service.  I value you as a person.”  But, even if the message is lost on your server, you will still receive a blessing.  You ‘sowed generously’ and so, you will ‘reap generously.’  Such small acts of kindness set the tone for our day.  And each act of generosity strengthens this giving aspect of our character.

Pray with me… Gracious God, Your Word teaches that You are the Giver of every endowment and every perfect gift.  May we follow your lead and be bighearted, openhanded children of God.  In the name of Jesus… amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

11/20/12

In order to have a grateful heart you must learn to be thankful for flawed people and imperfect gifts.  Be grateful when your daughter helps set the table for Thanksgiving Day, even though she does it imperfectly.  Be grateful when your son attempts to make his bed in the morning before school, even though he does it imperfectly.  Be grateful for your spouse’s expression of affection, even if it is done in a way that you may not fully appreciate.  Be grateful your body is responsive enough that you are able to get around, even if it is showing its age.  Don’t postpone thankfulness.  Just do it today, because a ‘grateful’ expression or act will lead to a ‘great-full’ feeling.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  This is a command to be obeyed, not a feeling in the gizzard!  It calls for a decision, an act of the will, not an emotional response.  It’s why we American Christians call this upcoming holiday Thanksgiving – not thanks feeling!  Paul writes in Ephesians 5:14, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Every once in a while we do wake up.  And when we do, what we sometimes wake up to is gratitude for the things we take for granted.

There are many positive spin-offs for us when we exercise our will by expressing thankfulness and appreciation for others. They will be attracted to us, because we all love to company with positive people.   We will be lifted out of self-pity and negativism.   Remember Debbie Boone’s big song, “You Light Up My Life?”  This is the way others will feel about you if you are thankful for the flawed people and imperfect gifts in your life.

Pray with me… Father God, I pray for the self-discipline to give thanks in all circumstances… to wake up… to experience all the good you have for me and all I can do in the lives of others with my expressions of thankfulness.  In the name of Jesus, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

11/13/12

We are hearing a lot these days about the looming ‘fiscal cliff,’ which portends the possibility of another recession before the end of the calendar year… the potential negative economic impact of the elimination of past tax cuts… effectively triggering an increase in taxes.  There is also concern about what this ‘fiscal cliff’ will do to our national unemployment figures.

All this to say, Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”  Has God ever failed you?  No, and he won’t now.  Joel 2:26, “You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you.”  We like to figure everything out ahead of time.  Instead we should lean on God.  Psalm 37:3-5, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and you shall be fed.  Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass.”  Just keep doing what God has told you to do.  Don’t be anxious; God won’t fail you.  Matthew 6:31-33, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  We have only begun to review the promises of God to his faithful people.  There is so much more.  So just relax… He is Jehovah Jireh, “The Lord will provide!”  His name constitutes a promise of provision for all who belong to him.

Pray with me… Great and gracious God, we Your people have entrusted ourselves to You and we trust You… to protect us, too provide for us and to preserve us for Your purpose now and Your possession in the greater life.  In the Name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

11/5/12

I am sure it is partially because I graduated from high school in 1965, the peak year for the draft of 18-year old young men for service in the Viet Nam War, that I feel a special debt of gratitude to our military veterans. They went into harm’s way in my place.   Consequently, I did not have to go.  [Am I speaking/writing for some of you who are reading these words right now?]  My feelings of deep gratefulness extend to many other veterans as well.  Because of WWII veterans, I do not have to learn to speak German or Japanese or Korean to get along in life. Because of the Viet Nam War veterans, I was able to stay in the states and focus my attention on Bible College and Seminary education to prepare for a lifetime of Christian leadership…. marry and start a family.  Because of the Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, I do not have elevated anxiety about being victimized by acts of terrorism like 9/11.  How in the world do I adequately express the breadth and depth of my heartfelt thanks for such blessings of security, peace and joy for my children and grandchildren now and into the future?  These are sacrificial gifts that were purchased by the personal sacrifices of veterans…. Their physical injuries or disabilities, their mental health or, in too many cases, their life’s blood.

I do not have it in me to be detached, preoccupied or distracted when it comes to praising God and honoring our military veterans. Opportunities like our ‘Freedom Isn’t Free’ event at Crossroads this coming Saturday from 8:30 – 1:00 PM, don’t present themselves often enough for me.  I hope you will vote twice this week.  Once on Tuesday, November 6th with your ballot at your polling place and once on Saturday, November 10th with your body at the Crossroads Worship Center. 

Pray with me…. Father, we praise you for our freedom as Americans because of the sacrifices of others and we praise you that we are free indeed because of the sacrifice of your Son and our Savior Jesus.  In His name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10/30/12

Not so long ago we were all celebrating a great economy.  My, don’t times change?  Skyrocketing fuel prices have us carpooling, parking our gas-guzzlers and riding the bus.  We’d never heard of a ‘sub-prime mortgage crisis;’ now the equity in some of our homes has flat disappeared, or we are ‘upside down’ on our houses, or they are being auctioned off on the courthouse steps.  Tsunamis hit Japan and Hawaii.  Earthquakes hit Chile and California.  Tornadoes hit Alabama and Joplin, MO.  Wild fires rage in Colorado.  And today we are anxiously awaiting reports on Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the eastern seaboard.  It seems that our security blanket has been stripped away and our comfort zone has shrunk dramatically.

But there’s a groundswell.  If you listen you’ll hear it: “It’s time to seek God, to repent, to change the way we’re living.”  It’s an old message for a new generation.  II Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  You say, “The people around me aren’t saying that.”  Then you might want to examine the company you’re consistently keeping!  We don’t need a majority to turn things around.  God told Abraham that just 10 people with a heart for righteousness could save Sodom.  The question is, will you be one of them?

Pray with me… Our Creator and Lord, we come to you in humility, seeking your grace, praying for your mercy to fall on our people, many of whom are in rebellion against your law of love and liberty.  As we move ever closer to our national elections, now just days away, give us wisdom and discernment… to vote for what is right and true… to vote for Biblical values in this generation when many call the truth a lie. Give us hope in the midst of all the bad stuff that is happening around us.  We pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10/23/12

When you get a card in the mail, what means the most to you?  Is it the beautiful poem written by a professional, or the little handwritten note scribbled by your family member or friend at the bottom?  For most of us it is the handwritten note, even though it may not be as articulate or eloquent.  We appreciate it more because it is personal and heartfelt.

Likewise, Jesus said, “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”   He taught that chanting the same words over and over was not a prayer that God would honor.  He taught that droning on and on has no merit.  He taught that when prayer is rote and ritualistic, it may be therapeutic for the person praying, but the God of heaven is not attentive.  Instead Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

As children, our prayers often consist of a memorized verse or series of verses… “Now I lay me down to sleep…” or “God is great, God is good.  Let us thank Him for our food…” But, as we mature, both in age and faith, our prayers should change.  They are not to be a memorized recitation, a fingering of beads, or even repeating the Lord’s Prayer without thinking about it.  Prayer should be an authentic expression of what is in our hearts and on our minds… a personal conversation with our Heavenly Father.

Pray with me… Dear Father, we want to be focused and thoughtful as mature children of God when we pray.  Forgive us when we revert to the practice of saying a prayer instead of truly praying.  In Jesus’ dear Name we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, October 15, 2012

10/15/12

“9/11” is a day that will live in infamy.  That day 3,497 people died.  1609 people lost a spouse and 3051 children lost one or both parents.  That day is at least a scar, if not still an open festering wound, in the psyche of millions of Americans. You know don’t you, that on those airplanes and in those towers and at the Pentagon, there were desperate ‘9/11 prayers’ screamed and spoken and whispered as men and women and children realized they would not survive the ordeal?  For some of them, that prayer moment would have been like the peaceful words of Jesus from the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  For others, that prayer was likely more of a panicked exclamation of a dramatic reality they never expected they would have to face.

A man named Jonah prayed such a prayer of desperation.  He found himself being digested in the stomach of a great fish.  His fate of an unsavory death seemed certain.  We read about it in Jonah 2:1, “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.”  And, in this passage we can actually read the prayer Jonah offered up in his 9/11 hour.

And many have a prayer life that could well be identified by a sign saying, “Use only in case of emergency!”  Such prayers are offered in an hour of extremity, when there is no other viable alternative but to look to heaven and cry out for help.  In His mercy, God often answers, providing a temporary solution to an immediate problem.  But, the Lord wants us to enter another level of experience with him.  This is why Jesus said that when we pray, we should close ourselves off in a quiet place [Matthew 6:6].  Christ visualized a time of intimacy with the Father in which the objective of our prayer would be life transformation, the enjoyment of a relationship with Him.  In our best moments, this is the prayer life we want to cultivate, the prayer path we want to walk.



Pray with me… Our Father and God, once we have known the joy of your presence, the peace of your presence, the overpowering love we experience in your presence, we will never be able to settle for a ‘9/11’ prayer life again.  So, meet us at the point of our need as we pray and impress on us by the Holy Spirit the difference between religion and a relationship, formality and fellowship, duty and delight in the beauty of your presence.  In the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray, we pray… amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

10/8/12

We are in a season of prayer at Crossroads, interceding for our nation and our national leaders for these 40 days leading up to the elections on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.  We are also going to experience prayer challenges in weekend worship for the next 4 weeks.  ‘Faithfulness in prayer’… ‘for your family,’ ‘for our church’ and ‘for the nation.’  In keeping with the spirit of this season in our ministry, today I want to reference a verse in Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings.  He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”

We know very little about Epaphras.  To us he is one of thousands of anonymous heroes who played a part in the expansion of the church during the first century.  However, this verse gives us a glimpse into his character.  He was a man of prayer who understood that, even at a distance, he could affect lives through intercession and petition on their behalf.  According to Paul’s testimony, he carried out this prayer ministry with tremendous fervor and intensity, revealing a passion that is not often seen even among Christians.  With prayer we can touch lives in ways that are impossible through activity.  Many believe the real work of the ministry is attending meetings, teaching and counseling.  Richard Foster, in his book, Prayer, reminds us that, “If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer.  Intercession is a way of loving others.”

Pray with me… Our loving Father, give us more of a conscience, more of a heart and more personal discipline to pray purposefully, intentionally and intensely for our family, our church family as well as our national leaders.  In the name of Jesus, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken







Monday, October 1, 2012

10/1/12

It hasn’t been too long ago [2008] that Focus on the Family surveyed Christian leadership couples with thriving marriages to find out some of the things they habitually do, as a couple, that builds their marriage.  If some of the following [in no particular order] habits are missing from your marriage, I encourage you to take the initiative to develop them:

-They schedule a regular time for undistracted [no I-phones, no TV, no I-pads] communication.

-They kiss hello and good-bye.

-They fight fair.  They don’t attack each other.  Rarely do they raise their voices or start sentences with “You never…” or “You always…”

-Their differences compliment.  For instance, the organized and detailed spouse balances the checkbook, while the night owl stays up until the last teenager is home.

-They pray together and look for ways to develop spiritual intimacy.

-They carve out time for regular dates and getaways.

-They encourage each other, concentrating on the positive, not the negative.

-They laugh together.

-They often say, “Please forgive me” and “l love you.”

Now, most reading this will say, “I’ve heard that. I knew that!”  But what we know is never the issue is it?  It is much more important to say, “I do that!”

James 1:22, “ Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”

Pray with me… Father, thank you for your wisdom that is so easy for us to tap into as we read and meditate on your Word each day.  And thank you too for your wisdom that is not necessarily revealed in a book, chapter and verse in your Word, but is available to us if we ask you in faith, nothing doubting.  Thank you for the way prayer and intimacy with you make us wise for salvation and models of wisdom for those who are watching us, those close to us we are teaching by example.  In the name of Jesus, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, September 24, 2012

9/24/12

I do love the four Gospels.  Speaking personally, they are my strongest spiritual vitality ‘lifeline.’  I am especially blessed by the eyewitness accounts of the synoptic Gospel writers [Matthew, Mark and Luke] about their experiences with Jesus.  One of these is the dramatic parallel narrative found in Matthew 8, Mark 4 and Luke 8, as they tell about Jesus calming the storm – I said, “What!?”  Yes, that’s right… and the disciples’ response on that occasion is just like ours when we read about it.

A furious squall came up, the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it nearly swamped it.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke him and cried, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet!  Be still!”  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”  They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

I am sure that the Holy Spirit prompted the Gospel writers to record this moment for some important reasons.  I cannot think of a more reassuring passage for us to internalize for life… so many great lessons:

-       Storms happen, even to the disciples.
-       Fear is the ‘knee jerk’ reaction to storms.
-       If you belong to Jesus, he is in your boat.
-       The fact that he is asleep should help you keep your perspective.
-       Panic may be predictable, but it is not admirable.
-       Jesus has the authority to calm any storm.
-       Faith should ‘trump’ fear if you are a disciple.
-       There is always going to be peace and calm after the storm.

When Job’s trial ended, God removed his affliction and returned to him twice as much as he had lost [Job 42:10].  Joseph, after years of slavery and imprisonment, reached the highest levels of government, all the riches of the country at his disposal [Genesis 41:39ff].  When Christ’s confrontation with the devil in the desert had ended, angels came to minister to Him [Matthew 4:11].  When the storm is over, He restores and multiplies His blessings to us.  As the psalmist observes, “His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  [Psalm 30:5]

Pray with me… Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit thank you for the many places in scripture we are reminded that the strength of our faith will sustain us in the storms of life.  Forgive us for the way we nibble around the edges of faith instead of internalizing its substance and experiencing the kind of strength to be able to enjoy the ride when the storms come, knowing that with Jesus asleep in the boat, the storms are powerless and the calm is just ahead.  In Jesus’ strong name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

9/18/12

The “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” code was broken recently when someone partying with Prince Harry snapped cell-phone photos of the naked royal in a hotel suite after a game of ‘strip billiards.’  The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority [LVCVA] isn’t taking this violation lightly.  “Las Vegas is about adult freedom,” is LVCVA spokeswoman Courtney Fitzgerald’s response.  “It’s important for friends to know what activities can be shared publicly and what activities are protected by the code.”

The city tourism arm has launched an ad campaign condemning the person or persons who took the photos of Harry that wound up being video-cast and viewed around the world. The ad urges defenders of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” to sign a pledge to keep Vegas indiscretions in Vegas and to report offenders who share embarrassing Vegas pictures on Facebook.  Britain’s Daily Mail reports that Virgin Holidays is seeing increased demand for Sin City air/hotel packages since Harry cavorted around pool tables and cued up in the buff.

But before these faddish/impressionistic types book their reservation, they should think deeply about the reality behind a short-lived hedonistic romp in Las Vegas… Here it is:  Psalm 90:8, “You [God] have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.”  Hebrews 4:13, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give an account.”  2 Corinthians 4:2, “We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God.” Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

Does it really matter who else does not know where you were or what you did whether in Vegas or anywhere else on earth?  The fact is, we must all give an account to the only One who truly knows and the One who truly cares about the character of your life on earth and your destiny in the greater life to come.  It was the young Scottish preacher Peter Marshall who offered this counsel: “When asked about whether or not to engage in a questionable activity, ask yourself this question: Of what shall I think of such a thing in my dying hour?”

Pray with me… Father, there is no escaping Your watchful eye.  Your Word reminds us that Your eyes are upon us from the beginning of the year even until the end of the year.  And that is not threatening to those of us who know Your love and grace in Jesus Christ for we are your children by Your choice and ours.  Mature love for You has cast out all our fear.  We have no secrets from you Lord.  You are not only the silent Observer of our daily activities; you are the Discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts.  We are secure in You.  In the name of Jesus our Lord, amen.


Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, September 10, 2012

9/10/12

Nineteen-year-old Liu Shih-Kun was an esteemed concert pianist in China until the Cultural Revolution banned all things related to Western influence.  Refusing to renounce his beloved music, Liu was deemed an enemy of the people, beaten and imprisoned.  There he languished in a tiny cell with no books, no paper, and even worse for Liu – no piano.  Six years later, for propaganda reasons, he was asked to play in Beijing with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  After years without an instrument to practice on, he performed brilliantly.  And eighteen months later when he was finally released, he again played flawlessly.  His secret?  Stripped of everything musical, for seven and a half years Liu disciplined himself to shut out negative thoughts and practice hour after hour on an imaginary piano.


We don’t realize the extent to which our disciplined thinking contributes to our performance in life.  If we are able to be thoughtful moment by moment day after day, it will elevate our quality of life.  Our thoughts have power to direct our lives and determine our destiny.  That’s why the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.”

Pray with me… Father, we want to exercise discipline… self-discipline… In the single most important area for us to use it… our thought life.  Jesus told us that ‘as a man/woman thinks in his/her heart, so is he/she.’  Nothing defines us more than our thought life. We pray we would seek to honor you there, in that vitally important space between our ears.  Lord, deliver us from ‘stinkin-thinkin’ and move us, by the Holy Spirit, to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.  In His strong name we pray, amen.

Blessing,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

9/4/12

The most famous story about lying in American history is the one about George Washington chopping down a cherry tree.  When his father asked him who did it, George supposedly replied, “I cannot tell a lie; I did it with my little hatchet.”  That story was in a biography written by a man named Weems in the nineteenth century.  But listen… he later admitted to making the whole story up!  Can you believe it?  The most famous illustration in America about not lying was itself a lie!  And truthfulness is still in short supply.  Politicians spin promises and facts during an election year, telemarketers scam the elderly to make more in commissions, job seekers pad their resumes to gain an advantage in the competitive marketplace, repair shops shamelessly inflate their bills, college students steal essays from the internet to pass classes and spouses lie to each other about money and infidelity.

And did you know that the IRS maintains what is informally called a ‘cheater’s account,’ to which people with guilty consciences can send money they know they owe?  There is a story about one letter the IRS received that read, “My conscience is bothering me because of cheating on my taxes, so I’m sending $10,000.  If my conscience doesn’t clear up, I’ll send in the rest of what I owe.”  Now some think that since most everybody seems to lie and cheat, it’s no big deal.  Wrong!  God’s Word says: in Proverbs 12:22, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men/women who are truthful.”

Pray with me… Help us to be ‘in the moment’… living the truth, every day so it can be said of us as Jesus said of Nathanael… ‘Behold an Israelite in whom there is no deceit/no false thing.’  Lord, in this world of lies, distortions, half-truths and propaganda, we want to walk in the truth, because we know that you have no greater joy than to know that your children walk in the truth.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

8/28/12

At Crossroads, for the next seven weekends, we will be developing a theme from the Word of God that seems totally out of sync with where things are in our world today.  The theme is ‘The Good Life Now.’  Come on…. is this even remotely possible?  With the war against terrorism raging in both Iraq and Afghanistan?  Or, the national debt close to the breaking point at over $16 trillion dollars?  Or, unemployment stuck at over 8%?  Or, a morally divided nation on the issues of abortion and same sex marriage?  Or, a politically divided nation during an election year?  Or, you fill in the blank….

I submit to you that experiencing the good life now has more to do with the inner life of the believer than the outer circumstances of life in the world in our generation, or any generation for that matter.  The epistle of James [the half-brother of Jesus…. same mother, different fathers] has a powerful message that can open up a whole new approach to processing whatever daily life deals us.  I will explain and apply scripture in the following ways in this series:

The Good Life Now: Blessed in Our Trials

The Good Life Now: Victorious in Our Temptations

The Good Life Now: Controlling Our Tongue

The Good Life Now: Controlling Our Temper

The Good Life Now: Living With Patience

The Good Life Now: Living With Wisdom

The Good Life Now: Faithful in Prayer


Pray with me…. Father, we need to first understand and then be empowered to life a life without limits…. the good life you desire for us to live abundantly now and eternally with You one day.  Lead us to hear and know and obey your Truth so we may live life to the full.

In the Name of the Good Life-Giver…. Jesus, we pray, amen.


Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, August 20, 2012

8/20/12

Related to our sermon on the family, I want to recommend a book titled, Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna.   The book explores ways that parents can raise ‘spiritual champions.’  Here are the bullet points that reveal the content:

-Revolutionary parents know you can’t pass on what you don’t possess.  Kids become Christ-followers largely because they see it being lived out consistently by mom and dad.

-Revolutionary parents know godly parenting is their primary full time job eclipsing all other responsibilities.

-Revolutionary parents have a constantly developing and maturing faith.

-Revolutionary parents focus on instilling godly character as a priority.

-Revolutionary parents know that they are not called to be their child’s best friend, only his/her best parent.

-Revolutionary parents know the distinction between quantity time and quality time is a myth.  There is just time.  Spend all you can on your kids.

-Revolutionary parents trust the Bible as their family guidebook and sourcebook.

-Revolutionary parents engage in Biblical living, not just Bible knowledge.

-Revolutionary parents know their children were created in God’s image, not theirs, and they want to raise them to be imitators of God as loved children.

Pray with me… Our loving Heavenly Father, we cannot fully take it in…  The fact that we can create living, eternal souls…our own offspring…our own children.  Thank you for the gift of life that we enjoy as we seek to raise our children to know you, love you and serve you above all else.  We pray for these priorities to be evident in us and we pray that we will be successful, above all else, to plant and nurture these priorities in our kids, who are really Yours, on loan to us.  In Christ, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, August 13, 2012

8/13/12

I Peter 4:1 says, “If anyone serves…do it…with the ability…God supplies.” When God gives you an assignment He gives you all that’s needed to fulfill it. In fact, by studying your core competencies you can actually discern your calling. You can’t always be what you want to be, but you can be everything God wants you to be. That’s because He assigns and directs us “each according to one’s own ability” [Matt. 25:15]. What do you love doing and do consistently well? Is music your forte? Crunching numbers? Working with children/middle-schoolers/teens/senior adults? Paul says, “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving” [I Cor. 12:7]. That means some of the things other people find boring, will actually energize and enrich you.

The Bible teaches us that God is building a “spiritual house” [I Peter 2:5]. And there’s a place for each of us in it. Knowing this dispels the misconception that you’re not valuable because you don’t have the same talents others do. It also defines your actual responsibility by doing away with the myth that you’re supposed to doeverything. No, your goal should be to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for you. So instead of apologizing for the skills you don’t have, discover the gifts God has given you and put them to work for His kingdom. I find it tragic that the most fulfilling experiences of the Christian life seem the most daunting and demanding when in fact, they are the most pleasurable and rewarding: giving our resources, serving others and sharing our faith. Try it, you’ll love it!

Pray with me…. Father God, You have provided ways to bless us in the deepest parts of who we are. When we are most like You, we are the most fulfilled inside. Thank you for building into us the abiding satisfaction that is the by-product of entering into people’s lives in ways that meet their needs and elevate them to higher levels of living. And Lord, thank you for giving each of us gifts that we can use to bless others in your name. And it is in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

8/7/12

Just a few weeks ago now, Illinois’ U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. fairly disappeared from sight.  A few days later, a carefully crafted statement came out of his office explaining that he had been admitted at an undisclosed facility to undergo treatment for a ‘medical condition,’ which was later identified as clinical depression.  His personal life has been in upheaval since he admitted to a sexual dalliance with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed hostess at a Chicago area restaurant, devastating his wife and disrupting his family.  He is also being investigated for setting in motion a plan to raise $6,000,000 to ‘buy’ the vacated senate seat of Barak Obama from, [then] Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich [now serving a 14 year prison sentence for corruption related charges – 12 years mandatory].  Early reports are that Jackson’s condition will require long-term treatment and hospitalization.

During the first part of the 20th century, J. C. Penney presided over an empire of 1700 stores nationwide, each one bearing his name.  But, although incredibly wealthy, J.C. Penney’s personal life was plagued by setbacks and troubles.  Then came the Great Depression of 1929.   Penney was exposed because he had borrowed heavily to finance many of his business ventures.  Constant and unrelenting worry began to take a toll on his health.  Eventually he checked himself into the Kellogg Sanitarium in Battle Creek, MI.  Penney would later recall ‘a rigid treatment was prescribed, but nothing helped.’  He was constantly tormented by periods of hopelessness and despair.  His will to live was rapidly eroding.  In his words, “I got weaker day by day. Nervous and physically broken, I was filled with despair, unable to see even a ray of hope.  I had nothing to live for.  I felt that I hadn’t a friend left in the world, that even my family had turned against me.”  After taking a sedative, he was sure he was living the last night of his life.  So, he got out of bed and wrote farewell letters to both his wife and son, saying that he did not expect to see the dawn.  The next morning he was surprised to find himself alive.  Making his way down the hallway of the hospital, he could hear singing coming from the little chapel where a devotional service was held each morning.  The words of the hymn he heard being sung spoke deeply to him.  Going into the chapel, he listened to the singing, the reading of the scripture lesson, and the prayers.

“Suddenly something happened,” he said.  “I can’t explain it.  I can only call it a miracle.  I felt as if I had been instantly lifted out of the darkness of a dungeon into a warm, brilliant sunlight.  I felt as if I had been transported from hell to paradise.  I felt the power of God as I had never felt it before.  From that day to this, my life has been free from worry and the darkness of depression.  The most dramatic and glorious 20 minutes of my life were those I spent in the chapel that morning.”  The words of the hymn that Providentially lured Penney into the chapel service that morning were these:

Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you;

Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

God will take care of you, through every day, o’er all the way;

He will take care of you, God will take care of you.


Pray with me… Our loving Father, we praise you for your patient love and your faithful grace that lift us out of our rebellion and our waywardness and catapult us into your comforting presence.  There is no limit to the peace which passes understanding that will fill our lives when we decide to stop, to stand still and to seek you in the stillness.   In the Name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

7/30/12

Former Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, has declared August 1st as National Chick-fil-A Support Day.  I think I will plan to lunch at one of their restaurants on Wednesday of this week.  It is something I can do to express my personal advocacy of CFA president Dan Cathy’s outspoken validation of Biblical marriage.  Here is what he said, word for word, “We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than You what constitutes a marriage.’  And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude; that has the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”

The knee-jerk response from the liberal community has been predictable, dramatic and reactionary.  Elliott Spitzer [and everyone knows what a credible source he is] was one of the first calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A…. so much for freedom of speech and ‘tolerance’ from the left.  Then the mayors of Boston and Chicago jumped in and took turns vowing to keep Chick-fil-A out of their cities.  Big talk.  Of course, this restriction of commerce, based on Dan Cathy’s honest expression of a personal conviction, cannot be supported legally.  Even the ACLU came to the defense of Chick-fil-A on this one!  It is strange indeed when the ACLU defends someone who has made a statement of Biblical conviction.  I was encouraged that even after the back-lash from some Hollywood ‘celebrities,’ Cathy pled ‘guilty as charged’ and continued to be very ‘supportive of the family – the Biblical definition of the family unit.’

The core issue here is the difference between those who believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ/the authority of the Bible vs. those who do not.  Jesus said in Matthew 19:4, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh?’  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together [male and female], let not man separate.” There is clearly an assertion here about what constitutes marriage in God’s sight; and there is also included here a warning about changing it.  Can we disregard the teaching of Jesus?  Sure.  Can we disobey it?  Certainly.  Will there be personal and societal consequence?  Yes, as there always is with all sin.  Am I an unloving person for saying so?  No.  In fact, the true-lovers are always the truth-tellers.

Same-sex marriage is a ‘hot-button’ issue only because it is the current ‘lightening rod’ for the two fundamentally different worldviews: the Biblical and the carnal, Christian and pagan.  Here is the thing…. Gay activists, politicians and the media have succeeded in making the definition of marriage a political issue.  It is not a political issue.  It is a moral issue.  It is not a question of rights.  It is a question of right and wrong.  But, as a nation we are quickly retiring words like sin/righteousness, moral/immoral, truth/lies, good/evil.

I am called to be a pastor, and I am also called to be a prophet….  A pastor, trusted to gently apply Word of God as a healing balm; but also a prophet, trusted to wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, in contemporary spiritual warfare.

Pray with me…. Our Father, it has always been the responsibility of your people to contend for the truth and walk in the truth, in a world of lies, under the control of the Father of lies.   Help us to be wise about when to speak and when to be silent.  We want to know how to truly love our generation into the Kingdom of God while upholding the Word of Life.  In the name of the One who is the Living Word and the Life we pray.  Amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

7/23/12

I recently heard a true story of incredible forgiveness.  A young man named Tom McGee, got drunk, lost control of his car and ran into a 16 year old teenager by the name of Ted Morris, the only son of Jack and Liz Morris.  Ted died as a result of his injuries.  Jack and Liz were devastated by the death of their son.  They were so bitter against Tom McGee, they prosecuted him to the full extent of the law and saw him sent to jail.  And they were gratified.  They were disappointed that his sentence was not longer.  When they learned he was out on parole, they dogged his steps, waiting for some infraction, some violation of his parole, so they could report him.  They succeeded in getting him re-incarcerated.  But Jack and Liz Morris became Christians, members of a non-instrumental Church of Christ, and they began to read/study the Bible for the first time.  One day they read these words in Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” And they were honest enough to both realize and admit that a bitter root had grown up in them. They read Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

And as they grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, they were able to will themselves to forgive.  Jack Morris went to the prison to visit Tom McGee.  He told him, “My wife and I have become Christians and we want you to know that we forgive you.  And we are not going to prosecute you further.  You are free.”  On a return visit, Jack took some cookies.  When McGee was eventually released on a weekend, the Morris’ invited him to come to their house for dinner and to visit their church.  Tom McGee and the Morris’ sat in the same row.  Several weeks later, Tom McGee stepped forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ and was baptized in their church.  Incredibly, the Morris’ have now actually adopted Tom McGee as their son and he stands in line to inherit their estate.

Does this sound familiar?  It should.  That’s like our Lord Jesus who said, “I was killed because of your sin, but I forgive you and I will adopt you into my family.  You stand in line to inherit my eternal riches.”

Pray with me… Our Father in Heaven… Freely we have received Your forgiveness; freely we will forgive.  In our better moments we are resolved that no one misses the grace of God.  So may Your grace flow out of us to others even as Your grace has touched us in your Son and our Savior Jesus, in whose name we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

7-17-12

Stan Blaylock tells about a clear glass dining table in a condo that their family used for holiday get-a-ways.  One of the favorite family pastimes was to begin assembling a picture puzzle and complete it during their stay.  The glass table became the favorite place to put the puzzle together.  Late one afternoon, after playing a round of golf, Stan and his father-in-law came in to find his wife lying on the floor under the table.  She was coaching her mother about where the next piece of the puzzle should go.  When asked why she was on the floor, she said it was easier to determine where a difficult piece of the puzzle should be placed from the back side, because it was not as confusing as looking at all of the colors and objects on the front side.

His life lesson can be ours today as well:  Life can be confusing on this side.  We can’t always see where the pieces of life’s puzzle fit in. Heartache, bitterness, loneliness, inferiority and depression… our ‘Secret Struggles’… just don’t seem to fit, but if we could see it from the other side [God’s view] it makes perfectly good sense to place that difficult piece in that exact place.  We can’t always see how Romans 8:28 can be true, until we take this perspective.  When we look at it from the other side, we will realize it has worked for our good… Trusting God in the sad seasons of life, when we have hidden hurts, will result in a stronger faith as we trace His hand through it all.

Pray with me… Loving Father, as we trace your hand in our yielded lives, we come to trust your heart for us.  We trust that the plans you have for us are plans to prosper us and not to harm us.   We trust that your Word is in our best interest always.  We trust that you are at work in us, by the Holy Spirit, to shape us into the likeness of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus.  In His name, amen. 


Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, July 9, 2012

7-9-12

Paul Harvey once told of a woman who went to the local newspaper to report the death of her husband.  She took a 4 pp. glowing report about her husband to the obituary desk.  “I’m sorry,” the reporter said, “but you should know that the charge for this kind of copy is $.25 a word.”  She thought for a moment and simply wrote, “Henry Johnson dead.”  “I’m sorry,” the reporter said again, “there is a minimum copy requirement of seven words.”  She thought for a moment and counted out seven words… “Henry Johnson dead; 2008 Ford for sale.”  Obviously, this woman was not too heart-broken about her husband’s passing.  She seems just a little too practically minded does she not?

Now, I do not communicate this anecdote to, in any way, diminish the seriousness of heartbreak, or heartache.  It is very real.   And, my guess is that each one of us… at one time or another… has known this pain.  You could probably reflect on your life and easily identify an event or a time when you first experienced heartache.  I remember the day, as a 7 year old boy, when our family dog, Pokey, following me to the grocery store, ran out onto Route 150 and was hit and killed by a car that did not stop.  We buried Pokey in a cardboard box and had a tearful funeral in the back yard.  My little brother and I were devastated.  It felt like life was not going to be worth living.  I don’t remember ever really grieving before that day.   Regardless of the source of our heartache, here are a couple of verses that will touch and heal us from the inside out, in the deepest parts of who we are…

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Pray with me… Father, You are the God of all comfort.  You sent Jesus to heal the brokenhearted.  You Holy Spirit are called the comforter.  May we never forget your kindness and compassion when we are dealing with heartbreak or heartache.  Thank you for your promise that one day you will dry every tear from our eyes.  In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.


Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7/2/12

This week, on July 4th, we will celebrate our nation’s 236th birthday.  For some Americans, it can be just another day off.  They easily forget the reason for the celebration.  The real purpose of the holiday fades into the background behind the parades and the picnics.  Younger children might think that the Fourth is just an annual ‘fireworks day.’

But most adults know better.  On July 4th, 1776, fifty-six American leaders signed the Declaration of Independence separating the thirteen British colonies from England.  The fact that that was 236 years ago makes ours the world’s oldest surviving democracy.  At the same time, America is young when compared to Egypt, China, Japan, Rome and Greece.  Do you realize that our country was born just a little over 4 generations ago?  When Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration, died, Abraham Lincoln was a young man of 17.  When Lincoln was assassinated, thirty-nine years later, Woodrow Wilson was a boy of 8.  When Wilson died in 1924, Ronald Reagan was 12.  Ronald Reagan just died in 2004!

Although we are young in years, yet America stands tall among the nations of the world.  We are the most prosperous nation on earth. The poorest among us are much better off than the average citizens of most nations of the world.  All of the complicated economic theories aside, the greatest cause of poverty is tyranny and corruption.  In other words, there is a direct link between our morality and our prosperity.

In the 1830’s French historian and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to America.   He was curious to discover what set the young democracy apart from her European counterparts.  At the end of his trip, he wrote, “I have toured America, and I have seen most of what you have to offer.  I’ve seen the richness of the fields and the wealth of your mines.  I’ve seen your industrial might, the beauties of the rivers, the streams, the lakes, and the grandeur of the mountains.  I’ve noticed the abundance of the forests and the marvelous climate with which you are blessed.  In none of these things did I see the cause for the greatness of America.  It wasn’t until I went into your churches that I saw the reason for America’s greatness.  America is great because America is good; and as long as America is good, America will be great.  If it ever ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.

The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty to intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.”

Pray with me… Our Great God, we know Your Word declares that ‘righteousness exalts a nation.’  May we never forget that in our day-by-day personal moral choices, ethics and values we hold the most valuable component of freedom and prosperity.  We thank you that more than our efforts to be good, the imputed righteousness of Jesus, your Son and our Savior, is available to us by faith.  We want to spread the Good News of the Gospel throughout our land to produce faith in this and future generations.  If we do, we know our nation will continue to be truly great because it will be greatly blessed by You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Thursday, June 28, 2012

6-25-12

Reflections on Father’s Day with a piece below that some of you fathers/grandfathers out there may want to copy and give to your children/grandchildren. [Written by one of our faithful Crossroads fathers/grandfathers…Used with permission.]

“I am reminded each Father’s Day of the wonderful blessing I have been given by the Lord.  Being a father and grandfather is one of the greatest gifts in this life.  But we are not perfect you know, unlike our Heavenly Father.  There are many things, looking back, that we would have done differently.  To be a father and grandfather carries such a great responsibility.   We work to provide a living and we try to balance that with family time.  We try to always be loving and thoughtful, but we often fail.  We talk when we should listen and give advice when we should take it.  We take when we should give and we admonish when we should praise.  How grateful I am that we all have a Heavenly Father that does none of that.  He is always faithful, never compromising.  He loves us for whatever reason, never admonishing, never criticizing, always listening, always forgiving.  To be like him, that would be my goal as a father and grandfather.


Let me assure you of this…In the early morning hours, when my mind is clear and the cares of the days are gone, I pray for you.  I lift up each of your names to the Lord.  I pray for your safety, and I pray that your minds and hearts, and the things you say and the things you do are in His will.  I pray for that protective shield around you that will follow you all of your days.  I pray that you will love the Lord with all your heart, and that you will, in turn, lead others to Him by what you say and do.  I pray for Him to forgive when you fail and when you stray.


I count among my greatest blessings the gift of being able to participate in the baptism of both of you [adult children] and witnessing my grandchildren being baptized.  You see, it doesn’t matter how much education you have, the amount of holdings you accrue, or your stature in society.  It doesn’t matter how nice you’ve been as a father and grandfather, if your children or grandchildren are lost.


Being a father and a grandfather is and will continue to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.  I promise you this…I will continue to fail miserably at times. I’ll continue to be insensitive at times, when I should be sensitive; and at times I will fail to set the example I should.

But remember this: I love each one of you with all my soul and all my heart.  I’m terribly proud of each one of you…And I truly would die for you.  I have been blessed with a wonderful wife, and a wonderful family.  I have been blessed in innumerable ways.  All of these blessings have come from my Heavenly Father, the very same Father you have.  So my prayer for you is this:  Every day be thankful, and then, be thankful again, for the perfect Father in heaven that we all have.

With love, Dad and Grandpa”

Monday, June 18, 2012

6/18/12

Norma Jean Mortenson…. Remember that name?  Norma Jean’s mother, Mrs. Gladys Baker, was periodically committed to a mental institution and Norma Jean spent much of her childhood in foster homes.  In one of those foster homes, when she was 8 years old, one of the boarders raped her and gave her a nickel.

He said, ‘Here Honey…. Take this and don’t ever tell anyone what I did to you.’  When little Norma Jean went to her foster mother to tell her what had happened, she was beaten.  She was told, ‘Our boarder pays good rent. Don’t you ever say anything bad about him!’  Norma Jean at an early age learned what it was to be used and given a nickel and beaten for trying to express the hurt that was in her.  In time, Norma Jean turned into a very pretty girl and people began to notice.  Boys whistled at her and she began to enjoy that, but she always wished they would notice she was a person too – not just a body – or a pretty face – but a person.

Then Norma Jean went to Hollywood and took a new name – Marilyn Monroe.  And the publicity people told her, ‘We are going to create a modern sex symbol out of you.’  Her na├»ve reaction was, ‘A symbol?  Aren’t symbols things people hit together?’  The said, ‘Honey, it doesn’t matter, because we are going to make you the most smoldering sex symbol that ever hit the celluloid.’  She was cast in dumb blonde roles.  Everyone hated Marilyn Monroe because she would keep the filming crews waiting two hours on the set.  She was regarded as a selfish prima dona.  What they did not know was that she was in the dressing room vomiting because she was so terrified.  She went through three marriages used and abused by heartless men.  And so finally, on a Saturday night, at the age of 35, Marilyn Monroe took her own life.  When the maid found her body the next morning, she noticed the telephone was off the hook.  It was dangling there beside her.  In the last moments of her life she called to tell a Hollywood actor that she had taken enough sleeping pills to kill herself.  He answered by saying, in so many words…. ‘I don’t care.’ 

What really killed Marilyn Monroe, the love goddess who never found love?  The dangling telephone was the symbol, a metaphor of her whole life.  She died because she never got through to anyone who understood or cared for her.

She needed a Savior.  She needed a Lord.  She needed forgiveness and a life purpose.  She needed a community of caring friends who would surround her with genuine unselfish friendship.  How many 8 year old or 35 year old Norma Jean Mortenson’s will there be in our life path?

Pray with me…. Father, give us Your heart for the little ones, the lost ones who are around us every day.  Get us outside of ourselves so we can be used as a channel of your love and grace to the people with whom we interact today.  In the name of the One who went about doing good and loved the weak and the wandering, Jesus….amen.


Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, June 11, 2012

6-11-12

God’s Word speaks clearly of the deep joy and satisfaction of sex in marriage.  It also warns of the shame and emptiness of sex outside of marriage.  A cartoon offered an insightful commentary on our times:  Moses had returned from Sinai where he received the commandments.  He said to the people, “I’ve got good news and bad news.  First, the good news…. I talked Him down from 20 to 10.  The bad news is He won’t budge on number 7 [you shall not commit adultery].”

God limits the gift of sex to marriage for our benefit.  But our 21st century culture has difficulty with His limits.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “We grow up surrounded by propaganda in favor of unchastity.  There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us.  Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales resistance.” But there are some very good reasons that breaking the 7th commandment constitutes sin….

Adultery is a sin because it defies God.  After King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he recognized his failure.  Restored to his senses, he confessed to God, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”  [Psalm 51:4]  When Joseph refused to be seduced by Potiphar’s wife, he said, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”  [Genesis 39:9]

Adultery destroys families.  God designed the family – He is committed to it.  Adultery destroys the unique and sacred quality that is the basis for the family

Adultery defiles the marriage.  God established the standard for marriage. “Male and female He created them” and ordained that “a man leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.”  This love relationship represents a oneness that is more than sexual.  It is the physical expression of a spiritual and emotional union.  Adultery defiles that union.  Sex outside of marriage is never right, nor can God bless it.  The Bible says, “A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.  But blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away.”  [Proverbs 6: 32-33]

Pray with me…. Father, You are the Creator.  You are Sovereign in all the universe and on earth.  We have seen, both in the past and in the present, that Your Word is true and that it works when applied to life.  Life in the Son is life indeed, life abundant, life eternal.  We trust and have experience that your way is narrow and straight, but that it leads to eternal peace and joy that actually begin on earth when we are wise enough to conform our lives to your truth.  In the name of Him who is the Truth…. Jesus…. we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

6/5/12

Years ago Lewis and Clark set out across the western wilderness to blaze a trail over the Rockies.  Their party included a French guide who took along his Indian wife.  Life was rough and harsh for these men in the untamed wilderness.  Each night the French guide would offer his squaw to one of the men for a price.  Each night the men refused.  Finally, these men crossed their last river east of the mountains.  They needed horses to carry their luggage, their boats, and supplies.  They asked the chief of a nearby Indian tribe for help.  The Indian replied, “No help white man.  White man cheat.”  Lewis and Clark begged for help, but to no avail.  “White man lie!” the chief roared.  The Indian wife of the French guide stepped out of the party and said to the chief, “These men are different.  They keep their promises to their squaws back home.”  Then she told the story of nights by the campfire and the refusal of these men to commit adultery.  She was able to persuade the Indian chief, and he subsequently loaned Lewis and Cark the needed horses.  The explorers were able to cross the Great Divide, put their boats in the headwaters of the Columbia River, travel to the Pacific Ocean, and claim the Northwest for their government.  Consequently, their greatest achievement was not geographical or political; it was moral.  And without their moral character, Lewis and Clark would likely not have made it to the finish line of their journey.

Our journey through life will have some long and lonely stretches, times when compromise would seem a good escape, a way to make life more exciting, more mystifying, more self-satisfying.  But, when we are tempted, if we can keep our heads and exercise righteous moral discipline/judgment, we will find down the road that we can experience God’s best in this life and His best in the life to come.


Pray with me…. Father, give us the wisdom of the man who said when standing at the intersection of right and wrong, trying to decide which way to turn, …. ‘Of what shall I think of such a thing in my dying hour?’  Thank you for history’s record of those who have chosen to make decisions with eternity in view.  In Jesus’ name, amen

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5-27-12

I once heard preacher Tom Ellsworth tell of visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.   He stopped at a souvenir stand across the street to check out the wares.   He picked up a little bronze replica of the flag raising memorial to the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima in WW2.   The disinterested man behind the stand suddenly perked up, sensing a potential sale. “Cheap!” he said with a smile.  “Only $10!”   Tom nodded, put the bronze replica back and walked on, thinking to himself, “No, not cheap…. not cheap at all.”   In 36 days of fighting, the Marines sustained over 25,000 casualties on Iwo Jima—including 7,000 fatalities.   More Marines received the Medal Honor for their service at Iwo Jima than for any other battle in U.S. history.   There was nothing cheap about it.

On Memorial Day, we as Americans remember such sacrifice.   Though we enjoy our freedom at no cost, we remember that others paid a great price.   Our freedom is free, but it is not cheap.   So we value our freedom.  We do not take for granted the privileges it provides…. we can worship without fear, we can speak openly without reprisal, we can choose our vocation and share in the rewards of our labor, we can have a voice in our government, we can go visit our family without driving through a war zone.  Today we pause to remember these blessings and to say thank you to those who made them possible.

Every week, we as Christians also pause to remember another sacrifice—the sacrifice of Christ.   Though we enjoy our salvation at no cost, Jesus paid a great price.   Yesterday I held in my hand the communion bread and remembered Jesus’ body, broken for me.   I held the communion cup and remembered Jesus’ blood, shed for me.   God’s grace is free, but it is not cheap.   So we value our salvation.  We do not take for granted the privileges it provides…. God’s forgiveness for our past, His powerful presence in our lives, joy and peace, the ability to begin to live more like Christ, a supernatural strength to endure trials, a new and living hope.   I value that hope highly.   Our salvation is free, but it is not cheap.  It is the most valuable thing we shall ever possess.  So today, we pause to say to the One who made it possible:  Thank you.

                                                        Matt Proctor
                                                        President
                                                        Ozark Christian College

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5/22/12

Are you ready to be shocked?  The Southern Baptist Council on Family Life recently discovered a gut-wrenching statistic: “88 percent of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.”  Perhaps this is due in part to these additional factors: The Barna Group found that 45 percent of those who profess to be born-again Christians believe that gambling is morally acceptable, 49 percent believe that living with someone of the opposite sex without being married is morally okay, 49 percent are comfortable with enjoying sexual thoughts or fantasies about someone and one third of those professing to be born again think it is morally acceptable to kill an infant while it is still in the womb.  According to an article titled ‘Porn Nation’ in World Magazine, of the men belonging to the Christian organization Promise Keepers [who make a promise to be committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity], 53 percent visit porn sites every week. 

In 2009, the Barna Group found further evidence that all is not well in the contemporary Church: Among individuals who describe themselves as Christian, close to half believe that Satan does not exist, one-third contend that Jesus sinned while He was on the earth, two-fifths say they do not have a responsibility to share the Christian faith with others, and one-quarter dismiss the idea that the Bible is historically accurate and truthful in all of the principles it teaches.  BINGO!

The basic reason for ‘easy believism’…. that is, ‘accepting Christ’…. without a renewed mind and a transformed life [Romans 12:2] is Biblical illiteracy!  Dads who don’t/won’t read the Bible, let alone study it and teach it to their children…. Moms who are too busy to find a quiet place, under a good light to internalize the Word of God…. Kids who are hypnotized by video games and I-pods and MTV.  And if parents and grandparents do not take seriously the responsibility to be discipled and to disciple their children, the results will be catastrophic for the next generation.  We are seeing it right before our eyes now…. Our nation is accelerating its descent into the abyss of self-eradication. Listen to the words of a prayer in Exodus 33:13, “…. Teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You.  Remember that this nation is Your people.”  Listen to the warning in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Okay, I just proofread the text of this ‘Speaking the Truth in Love’ piece.  It is heavy on the side of truth this week.  What can I say?  This is what God has impressed on my heart this morning.  I have had a ‘sudden awakening.’  I am being ‘brutally honest.’  [Remember Kyle’s sermon from last weekend at Crossroads?] Is God speaking to you about your own heart and your responsibility to teach your children and grandchildren?  If Biblical illiteracy is perpetuated in the church, the church as an agent of salvation for the lost world will be increasingly ineffective and hell will be more populated in the end.  Does that sound extreme?  Read God’s Word, especially the words of Jesus about heaven and hell, and realize in fresh ways how high the stakes are for us and our posterity.

Pray with me…. Loving Father…. save us from self-deception.  Save us from shallow commitment.  Save us from our mediocrity.  Save us from our luke-warmness.  Save us from our failure to teach our children Your Word.  Save us from our careless living before their eyes.  Save us from ourselves for Yourself.  In the Savior’s name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

5/14/12

Are you aware that there is an all-out assault on Biblical marriage and the traditional family in our generation?  It was the ‘free-love’ movement of the sixties when war was first declared on the value of sexual purity in the United States.  [And when there is wholesale sexual indulgence in the name of sexual freedom, marriage and the family will always take the hit.]  Communal living was in vogue, college campuses initiated new open dorm policies, the plague of venereal disease was spreading and number of unplanned pregnancies began to escalate.  Something had to be done, so ‘sex education,’ including condom distribution, was introduced into many public schools, taught by teachers, many of whom had personally participated in the sexual revolution.  Then the Supreme Court stepped up and imposed a humanistic solution to the growing problem of unwanted pregnancies, passing Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973, to make abortion legal as an alternative form of birth control.  Since then, we have performed in- womb executions, equivalent in number to one third of the population of the United States.  Now, the due bill is coming in with the economic reality that there are not/will not be enough employed workers in the workplace to perpetuate the Social Security system for the growing population of baby boomer retirees!  The impact on families is being felt already, a prelude to what is looming on the horizon.

With the rejection of Biblical absolutes [which are from God for our protection and preservation] the wheels began to come off.  The baggage of sexual regret being carried into marriages began to take its toll in the form of a growing number of divorces.  Pornography has gained acceptance, moving our society from ‘Playboy’ magazine to hardcore Internet porn as a multi-billion dollar industry.  Skyrocketing statistics on child abuse and victimization, the proliferation of sexual predators with offenders living in virtually every neighborhood, the scandalous sexual exposes of the entertainment, sports, business and political ‘glitterati,’ as well as high profile ‘televangelists’ and the priestly clergy, have rapidly taken us down a path of self-destruction.

Now, our Vice-President and President have come out, in the same week, with statements of unqualified support of same-sex marriage.  So, the wall of protection around Biblical marriage has officially been breached.  And, I predict that we will be overrun in the years ahead with the barbaric hoard of spin-off consequences in the lives of real people.  The patience and tolerance of our Holy God has been stretched to the breaking point.  His judgment will be inescapable. God’s wrath against sin is built into the human system.  We have never been here before as a nation. The protection of the innocent unborn has been eliminated by the state.  The protection of Biblical marriage and the traditional family has been eradicated by the state.  As a pastor, I will witness the carnage up close and personal.  As a father and grandfather, I am deeply concerned about the nation my children and grandchildren will inherit and the price they will have to pay for the sins of my generation.  More than ever before in my lifetime, I identify with the closing prayer of Revelation 22:20-21, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  Amen.”

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

5/7/12

The book of Job acknowledges the reality of pain and suffering in the world, but it also represents the deeper reality of the God who transcends the fallen world, who was there before sin and brokenness entered the picture and who will still be there when sin and brokenness are no more.  The book communicates the deep grace of God to bring us to a future time of endless joy in His presence.   Now you could read the final chapter of Job in a karmic way [put good in and you’ll get good back – eventually] or in a sentimental way [just let go and let God] or a religious way [if you push the right behavioral buttons, you’ll get the desired blessings].

But it is far better to read it devotionally.  That is, we should read Job and see ourselves more honestly.  We should see God more authentically.  We should see life more hopefully.  If we read it devotionally, we will get it…we will get the facts that:  1] We will have pain and trouble in this life.  2] Only God has answers/solutions.  Only He can heal and help.  Without Him we are fundamentally, philosophically and practically at the mercy of whatever life deals us.  3] With Him we are more than conquerors, and nothing can take that ultimate victory away…not death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.

What Job tells us is that our loving God will fix what’s broken, heal what’s wounded, rebuild what’s destroyed, cure what’s diseased, mend what’s torn, and raise what’s dead.  Just keep hanging on to the God who is hanging on to you.

Pray with me…. Almighty God, you never let go of us and we will never let go of You.  For time and eternity You are ours and we are yours.  In the name of Jesus, the One who secures this hope.  Amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

5/1/2012

Charles “Chuck” Colson, age 80, died in northern Virginia on April 21, 2012….just a little over one week ago.  In the days that have followed, he has been eulogized in newspapers around the world….remembered as a former captain in the Marine Corps, a ruthless political insider, special counsel to the President of the United States and the evil mastermind of the infamous Watergate Scandal.  But many more of us have known him as the brilliant, proud man who experienced a defining moment in his life when he knelt down in the office of Christian businessman, Tom Phillips, to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.  Describing his own water baptism as a funeral service in which he buried the old man he used to be, Colson sealed the greatest commitment of his life.  And, with that commitment, Colson began his Christian journey.  In short, the man was changed!  No longer living the life of a greedy power broker, Colson has been described as the most thoroughly converted man who ever lived, except for [perhaps] the apostle Paul.

So, write the words of Jesus in John 5:24 over the life of Charles Colson: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”  Charles Colson started his life over when he accepted Jesus.  He was born again and wrote about the experience with sincerity and rare eloquence in his book titled, Born Again.  For the first time, his ears were unstopped….he began to listen to the Word of God.  For the first time, his heart was open….he began to obey the Son of God.  And although some in the world have never forgotten the man Colson used to be, he had received the promise that he no longer faced the condemnation of heaven.  He changed sides.  He crossed over from death, because of his sin….to abundant and eternal life, because of Him who had no sin.

Every person on earth stands condemned because of their sin, sentenced to eternal separation from God by their choice, until and unless they have the same defining moment Colson had.  And, once that commitment is sealed and permanent, everything changes.  We all know so many who need to change, to be forgiven, to have the highest good begin to surface in their lives….so they can come to the end and hear from the God of heaven, “Well done!”

Pray with me…. Our Father, we bless the day our ears were unstopped and the scales fell from our eyes and our hearts experienced the love and grace that you made real to us in the person of your Son and our Savior.  Life change is what you are all about.  Thank you for the life and spiritual leadership of Charles Colson.  You changed him!  You want to change us and as many people as we can influence while we live out our short time on this earth.  Empower and energize us for being a Tom Phillips presence in someone’s life today.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

4/24/2012

John Tiller’s life was going along according to his plan.  He was thankful for many things, especially his healthy and energetic three-year-old son, Eli.  But, in a single day, everything changed.  Little Eli was left alone in an upstairs playroom when he pulled a chair up to the window, lifted himself up onto the sill and pushed out the screen.  A few moments later, when John’s wife went to check on Eli, she found the room empty and the window screen missing.  She looked out the window to see the body of her only child unconscious on the asphalt driveway thirteen feet below.   Eli had suffered severe head trauma and was med-flighted to a university hospital.  He lingered between life and death for three weeks.  And although Eli did live, the Tiller family would never be the same.  John has spoken about the three lessons he learned through this life-changing event:

-Determine your values before a crisis hits.  In crisis, you act on instinct.  You default to what you truly believe.  Crisis creates defining moments because it reveals the decisions we have already made.  When John met his wife in the hospital that fateful day, she was understandably distraught.  He looked her in the eyes and said, “No matter what happens, we will NOT let this come between us.”  She agreed.  They hadn’t made that decision that day.  They were simply affirming a commitment they had already made in the presence of God and witnesses on their wedding day…. ‘For better or for worse,’ and it doesn’t get any worse than the prospect of losing a child.

-Work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God.  The Tiller’s did everything humanly possible to make their son well.  They invested tens of thousands of dollars in uninsured therapy equipment.  They received training to administer home-based therapy.  For three years, eighty percent of their waking hours were spent doing physical therapy on their son.  In addition, they prayed constantly, because they needed supernatural help.

- Be willing to burn your old vision and embrace a new one.  Despite years of prayer and the best treatment available, Eli’s brain injury left him with significant disabilities.  Now, at 12 years old, he walks with a cane and talks with a severe stutter.  His sight and memory are seriously impaired.  One of the hardest things the Tiller’s had to do was to accept, several years after the accident, that it was time to live life going forward with Eli’s disability.  It was a reality they could not change.  They embraced new realities and are experiencing the blessings that come from a new vision, as Eli plays Miracle League baseball and participates in races that he seldom wins, but always finishes!  He also sings and speaks to raise money for organizations that help kids with special needs.

God can redeem our trials.  Our choice is either to grieve our losses indefinitely or to move forward in dependence on Him and partnership with Him to see how he can redeem our suffering to bless us and reveal His grace.

Pray with me…. Dear Father, we have seen it a thousand times…. how you can strengthen and comfort us in our trials…. how you can use our pain to deepen us and equip us to minister to others…. how you can redeem our suffering and use our weakness to reveal your presence and power to save.  We are secure in your care.  We have Your peace that passes all understanding, no matter what life brings.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Monday, April 23, 2012

4/17/2012

I have vivid memories of a Sunday morning 20 years ago. As Kaylene and I were getting ready for church, we had the television in our bedroom tuned to the ‘Old Time Gospel Hour,’ a weekly telecast of the worship services of the Thomas Road Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.   The preacher that particular morning was David Ring, which was a new name to me.  It turned out that he had been born with cerebral palsy.   I thought as I was shaving, “This will be interesting.”  It was much more than interesting; it was totally captivating as he shared his convicting message, “Don’t Ask Why; Ask What!”

Being born with cerebral palsy, Pastor Ring could not walk normally and he could not talk clearly.  His hand and arm motions were not coordinated.  He had facial ticks.  In his testimony, he told about his father abandoning him and his mother shortly after David was born.  Then, at age 15, his mother died, leaving him without a nuclear family.  He was alone, except for the Lord in his young life.  He often awoke in the night to cry out to God for answers and for mercy. After graduation from high school, he sensed God’s calling to the vocational preaching ministry.  People were not encouraging.  They told him, “You can’t even enunciate the name of ‘Jesus!’  During his college years he was told he would not be married or have a family because no one would want to go out with him.  

But David Ring did not ask, ‘Why?’  He asked ‘What!’  He did not ask why God allowed him to suffer so much trial in his young life.  Rather he asked what can God do with my unique experience and disabilities…. what can God do with my yielded life?  Longer story shorter…. Today David Ring is in demand as an international evangelist.  He is married to a beautiful Christian woman that he met in Bible College, and with whom he has reared 6 children.  If you ever hear him, you will never forget it.

That Sunday morning, after he preached, Pastor Ring sang ‘Victory in Jesus’…. a-cappella.  It was the most awful…. the most beautiful thing I have ever heard in my life.  Kaylene and I both just sat down and wept.  [And I don’t cry that often.] Our unexpected emotion was because of the truth of his message and the powerful application of it in his life.

Is it not amazing what God can do with our tragedies and trials?  When we stop asking ‘Why?’ and we start asking ‘What?’…. God can and will work his wonders in our lives!  Can you get excited about what your future holds knowing God can take your worst and bring about His best for you.

Pray with me…. Father, You have made us for Yourself.  Our dependence on You is the source of our ultimate strength to handle the worst that life deals us.  We pray You will deliver us from the self-absorption that causes us to constantly question why bad things happen.  Empower us by Your Spirit, when we experience trials and troubles, to ask what You can do through it all.  In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

4/9/2012

Here is my axiom today: Professing love is over-rated. Showing love is under-rated. I remember the first time my father told me that he loved me. I was 18 years old. I had been in Bible College for six weeks. I traveled home for a visit after being gone that long for the first time in my life. My dad drove me to Champaign, IL on a Sunday night to meet my ride back to college. As I started to get out of the car, he embraced me and said, “Son, I love you and I am so proud of you.” I was stunned. I had not heard that from him before. It was surely a bonding moment between us. I was speechless.

For many men in my dad’s generation, love was not something you verbalized; it was something you demonstrated. My dad gave evidence of his love by working the third shift [12 midnight to 8 AM] for 30 years. He slept during the day when I was in school so he could watch my practices and go to my ball games in the evenings. He volunteered as a scoutmaster when I was in Boy Scouts and Explorers. This involved several lost weekends when, in occasional freezing temperatures, he had to sleep on the ground in a tent and cook on an open fire. When he and I were both initiated the same night at Camp Drake, into the ‘Order of the Arrow’ we had to take a vow of silence, be dropped separately in the woods in the middle of the night without anything but a sleeping bag and find our way back the next day. The initiation also involved a fast from food for 24 hours and an entire 12-hour day of backbreaking work. My dad did that for me. I know that now. I was clueless at the time. I didn’t get it then. I get it now.

In John 21, the risen Lord Jesus met Peter on the seashore. He gave Peter the opportunity to profess his love three times, in part to atone for the three times Peter had denied him during the night of his illegal trials. Three times Jesus asked, “Peter, do you love me?” Three times Peter professed his love for the Lord, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” After each of the three professions Jesus gave Peter an imperative, indicating that Jesus is more interested in the evidence of love than the expression in words. Lip service takes a back seat to a life surrendered. Love must be observable. Love must be measurable. Love must be seen.

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs [21:15], take care of my sheep [21:16], feed my sheep [21:17],” if you really love me. There you have it. The demonstration of love matters more than the verbalization of love. Hey, it’s nice if you have both, but if you have to choose between the two…. Don’t just say it; show it!

Pray with me…. Our Father…. a simple and yet profound lesson from your Word today…. Our words come so easily. Talk is cheap. Praise can be performed while we are on autopilot. But, we want to act, move, serve and align our practical priorities with your life-transforming mission in this world. We want to be yoked with you to show you our love is real. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Blessings,
Pastor Ken