LEARNING PATIENCE

I have been “down” the last couple of weeks due to having had surgery on my right foot. I have had plantar fascitis, and a heel spur on the back of my heels that irritated the achilles tendon.Microsoft Word - surgery_achilles_tendon_debridement-3.rtf They remove the heel spur on the back of my heel; debrided the achilles, and reattached it.  Earlier this year, I had same surgery on my left foot, and I am now dealing with the same thing on the right foot.

One of the things different from the one I had earlier this year is that I fell, and developed a blood clot in my vein in my right calf muscle, so now I am on blood thinners. I also cannot drive now, as it deals with my right foot, and I have to rely upon my sweet wife to drive me everywhere!

Some quick thoughts have come home to me:

This surgery, though minor, has tested my patience. I like to go, and I am staying at home and resting. It is driving me crazy. I have to rely on others to go anywhere and do anything. One of my sons bought a house and is painting it, and I was not able to help, nor will I be able to help him and his family move. It is frustrating to me, but . . .

I am thankful that I can walk and will, God willing, be able to overcome this. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to run again. I hope so!

I am thankful for the fact that I am in better shape than many. As a preacher I visit nursing homes and hospitals — I have NOTHING to complain about. I’m not bedridden; not having to take chemo; nor am I in rehab struggling to walk. Yes, I am pretty blessed.

“Count your many blessings, name them one by one . . .”

 

 

 

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LESSONS LEARNED FROM PLEXUS

PlexusFor those of you who are unaware, my wife and daughter in law sells a product known as Plexus, which is supposed to help in diabetes and weight loss. Many of this congregation are on the “Plexus Bandwagon,“ and as I see them drinking this (yes, I am as well) and working to sell this, some things have come to my mind about how this should be true about Christians. Below are a few of my thoughts.

First, these people are sold on the product and the good it can do for others. And I think about the fact that Christians need to be sold on Jesus Christ and him crucified. It is only Jesus that can meet man’s greatest needs, and Christians should be the people that are sold on him enough to tell others about him. In fact that is what Jesus commanded his disciples to do in Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16 and Luke 24:44-47. As we read in Acts, they were sold on Jesus, and this is the reason why the church grew as it did. Beloved, are we sold on Jesus Christ?

Second, the ambassadors of Plexus will take “selfies” and put on Facebook and other social media bragging about how much weight they have lost and how many inches they have gone down. Again, going back to point one, they use themselves as examples of how the product is working for them. Isn’t it the case that Christians need to use themselves as example of how Jesus has changed their lives? Paul will encourage the brethren in Corinth to “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). How many of us would be willing to use ourselves as examples of how Jesus has changed us, as an encouragement to others? Is this not the challenge that we all must meet – we need to live our lives in such a way so that others will want what we have in Christ?

Third, they have meetings to encourage one another in sales, and to invite newcomers to sign up to be “Ambassadors.” Not only that, but they have meetings on the internet to encourage one another through the week! I think again about the fact that this should be true of the Lord’s church. We gather together on Sundays to worship our Lord, but we are also here to meet with the saints and encourage one another. In Hebrews 10:24 (right before the writer commands us NOT to forsake the assembling of ourselves together) he states that we are to “stir up,” or “provoke” one another to love and good works. Paul stresses in Ephesians 5:18-19 that one of the purposes of singing is to “teach and admonish one another.” Beloved, are our assemblies encouraging to one another? Further, are they encouraging to visitors who have come to hear the story of Jesus? Do we teach enough about Jesus and his life that a visitor can know about Jesus and his death on the cross – and, more importantly – what he/she needs to do to come to Jesus?

Four, as I overheard a meeting Monday evening my wife was on, I listened to how one lady said that she may get discouraged, but, “I think about the people I have helped and will help. When I get discouraged, I think about those whose lives have been changed by my introducing them to Plexus.” Wow! What about us as Christians? We have let Satan and the world beat us down and make us cower in our buildings, and have stopped preaching the gospel of Jesus. When we are discouraged, we need to think about what this lady said about Plexus. We need to think about those whose lives would have been the same, or worse, because they did not know Jesus. We need to BELIEVE again in Jesus’ power to save lives, and change them for the better! While Plexus may help the physical body, Jesus helps us physically, socially and spiritually. Jesus saves us so that we will truly live forever with God in heaven – the only life that really matters.

Jesus said in Luke 16:8, “So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” The world knows how to attract people – make a product look good, and show the difference the product has made in other people’s lives. Beloved, our responsibility is make Jesus look good by the lives we live. We are to assemble to encourage and help others to see Jesus. And when we get discouraged, we are to remember lives that have been changed by Jesus!

Pray for me, as this article has made me realize how much I need to get to work!  Encourage me!  Thanks

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SOME LESSONS FROM THE RICH YOUNG RULER

Do we want to go to heaven more than anything else in this world? Jesus asked, “For what profit is it to a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26). Sometimes I have become so comfortable here on earth that I do not think about going home to be with God and His Son Jesus. I become too attached to stuff and things here on earth – and I am upset because I don’t have my comfort and my way. I have been trained by society and the media to want what I want and I want it right now. I have been coddled, and I get annoyed when things don’t go exactly the way I think they should go. I am too comfortable here on earth.
In Mark 10 Jesus met a rich young ruler who was the same way. He wanted to go to heaven, but he wasn’t willing to pay the price to get there! Consider some lessons that we need to be reminded of when we see his narrative in Scripture.
HE REFUSED TO BE SAVED BECAUSE OF THE “SECURITY” OF RICHES. He had what he needed down here, and to do what Jesus said meant having to give all of that up and trusting God. Beloved, sometimes we do put too much stock in our possessions and money, our IRAS and retirement; so that we think we are secure. But Job lost everything in the space of about an hour (Job 1). The foolish farmer of Luke 12:16-21 emphasizes that we may store up all kinds of wealth in this world, but die in a moment, and then whose shall it be? Beloved, we can’t take the things of this world with us when we die. 1 Timothy 6:7 says “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
JESUS MADE A CLAIM – DO YOU THINK OF ME AS GOD? When the ruler said, “Good master. . .”, Jesus then asked “Who do you call me good. There is only one good, that is God.” By saying this Jesus was telling the young man that he (Jesus) had the right and authority to tell the man what to do when it come to making preparations for his soul. Jesus has all authority today (Matthew 28:18) and does have the right to tell us what to do and how to live to go to heaven. Submission to the authority of Jesus is vital.
IT IS HARD FOR THOSE WHO HAVE EARTHLY TREASURE TO ENTER THE KINGDOM! Why? Those who have earthly treasures have a tendency to trust them to much. Jesus makes the statement that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Much discussion in commentaries has been made as to what exactly Jesus meant by that – one of the basic things I remember learning is take we need to take the Bible at face value first, unless something else may be meant from the surrounding context. How hard is it for a huge animal like a camel to go through the eye of a needle? How hard is it for a rich man to enter heaven.
THE DISCIPLES WERE ASTONISHED. Americans are astonished that Jesus would make such a statement – yet Jesus has called upon us to leave all and follow Him. Leave all – family, security, whatever may get in the way of serving God – and trust God with it all.
GOD, AND ONLY GOD, CAN SAVE! Our riches will not save us. Our government will not save us. Our jobs, our recreation, our _________ will not save us. Only God can save us, and it is thus important that we make sure we get this right above everything else.
WILL HEAVEN BE WORTH IT? You bet! We will be blessed beyond belief later by leaving it all now and offering at the feet of Jesus. Is this a gamble? A calculated risk? Of faith in GOD who will not lie or fail in his faithfulness to his promises! There’s the rub. Do we (I) have that kind of faith in God?
The rich young ruler went away sorrowfully. Will we walk away from Jesus sorrowfully, or give it all to live a life of adventure and faith in God? What is my choice? What is your choice?

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MY LOSS

It has been two weeks that have really made me stop and think about my life and the lives of those around me.  Back in December, we lost a friend; a wise man that I respected deeply.  Then, in the course of one day, I received the calls about two other men who were associated with the church.

As I sat with the families and reminisce over the lives of those they lost, I realized that I did not know these men as well as I thought I had.  And the reason for that was that I was so busy trying to take care of other things (preaching, teaching, preparation . . . ) that I did not take the time to talk with them and get to really know them.  Many men will not talk about themselves – they keep a lot in.  And I missed getting to really know them and how they think, what they considered to be important, and how they interacted with their family.

One of the men, as I talked with the family, “knew his bible backward and forward.”  And he tried to live it by supporting his family in every way that he could.  What a testimony to his life!

As I sat and listened, I thought to myself over and over – it is my loss that I did not get to know this brother better.

James says in James 4:14, “For what is your life, it is even as a vapor, that appears for a little time, and vanishes away.”  As I grow older time seems to fly by – I used to think it took a year for a year to go by – now, it seems like a matter of weeks. We get so busy paying the bills and living our lives that we don’t stop and take the time to really get to know our brothers and sisters in the Lord – sometimes we don’t even know our own brothers and sisters (blood relatives) that well anymore.

Jesus developed relationships with the twelve – and to develop relationships takes time. 

Will we take the time; make the time to get to know others in a way that we will not regret not having known them better?

I hope to, before it is my time to go!

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Disappointments and Lessons from Alabama Football!

ImageWell, being an Alabama fan, I was disappointed about the way the season ended.  I’ll be honest, for many years I never watched football or was interested in football until after I was married to my wife, LaRheasa.  The first year we were married I went to her parent’s home for Thanksgiving, and it was there I was exposed to football.  I knew when I lived in Alabama of the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn, but didn’t really pay a lot of attention to it.

I remember going to visit my dad in 2007, and when Alabama hired Nick Saban that was all folks in Alabama talked about.  I started paying attention to Alabama football then, mainly because I wanted to know what all of the hoopla was about.  I became sold on Nick Saban and Alabama football.  I have watched with excitement as the team went to victory after victory – I was so involved that I would feel let down when they lost, and watched every game with feelings of frustration when things didn’t go the way I thought they should.  I will admit I would feel my blood pressure rise, my stomach churn watching some games.  The Auburn/Alabama game this year was so disappointing in the way it was won (I know, not to Auburn fans).  But let it be known that now that I am a fan, I will be faithful to Alabama football no matter what.

Some things I have considered about football, and making some comparisons to life:

  1. Sometimes you work hard and come up short.  I respect the coaches and the players for Alabama when I consider the untold hours they practice to play football.  You have to give it your best constantly.  But as a Christian, I wonder if I am as disciplined as I need to be.  What if all of us would be as disciplined as these guys are to play a game for three hours a week.  What if Christians were as dedicated as these guys are – we would turn our world upside down again  (Acts 17:6).
  2. We can’t win them all.  In fact, I won none of the games.  That is why I refuse to second guess the coaches or the players on the field – I am not there and having to play.  But as Christians, we know that we have already won (see the book of Revelation).  We just have to be there for the games every week – some we will win against Satan, and some we will lose.  I wish that I could say that I had as good a season against Satan as Alabama has the last few years.  But it comes back to discipline, doesn’t it!
  3. Do your job.  This is Nick Saban’s mantra!  I appreciate his work ethic – and I wonder again if I prepared myself as he and the team has, if I would be a better Christian husband, father, preacher, elder . . .
  4. Sometimes it is not the big things, but it is little things.  Fumbling the football, missing a field goal, is what often loses the football game.  The small things are what cause us to lose our battles with Satan as well.  But we need to consider the importance of the little things as we think about the big things.  Christians need to be daily, constantly looking for their neighbors good (Luke 10:25-37).  It is the small things that we must be faithful in. (Luke 16:10).

If the Lord doesn’t return before August, another season of football will begin, and it will be another season of wins (hopefully no losses).  But if my favorite team wins or loses it won’t make a difference in my salvation. But, until the game is over (when I die or the Lord returns) I need to be disciplined in working for the Master to glorify him.  I need to pay attention to the small things that may make a difference in where I spend eternity.  I need to do my job!  I want to win this game; and with God’s help, I will!

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IS GOD PLEASED WITH ME?

2_jesus-baptismMatthew 3:17  And behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (NASBU)

God said this to those who heard after the baptism of his Son, Jesus.  As John the Baptizer protested baptizing Jesus, Jesus told him it was to “fulfill all righteousness.”  Jesus’ baptism showed his obedience to God’s command to John to baptize and “prepare the way of the Lord,” thus validating John’s baptism as acceptable and needed by those of that time.

Hebrews 5:8-9 tells us that Jesus “learned obedience by the things which he suffered, and having been

perfected, He became the author (source) of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”   That has always amazed me, as Jesus had to learn, as a human, what obedience is.  Yet he set the example of perfect obedience, showing man that we can obey if we choose to do so.  Disobedience stems from not knowing what God requires (hence, the need to study Scripture); it also stems from an unwillingness to do what God says (James 4:17).

A few quick questions:

  1. Am I an obedient son with whom God is well pleased?
  2. Do I have a
    rowing relationship with God that creates a desire in me to please my Father?
  3. Have I availed myself of entering and maintaining that relationship by believing the good news of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection; and obeying what was commanded in Acts 2:38? Do I avail myself of his forgiveness daily?

Am I a beloved son, in whom God is well pleased?  ARE YOU?

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WHAT I HAVE LEARNED PREACHING

ImageAs a preacher each week I teach two Bible classes, and preach two sermons in an effort to encourage, rebuke and sometimes plead with my brothers and sisters to try to imitate Christ, and allow God to make them in the image of his son (Romans 8:29).  I never knew, when I began to preach, how rewarding this would be, and how, sometimes, it is frustrating.  There are a few things I have learned in my years of preaching.

  1. I have learned that people will do what they want to do, and hear what they want to hear.  This makes preaching somewhat challenging, because it means that I need to do what I can to encourage people to listen to God and his word.
  2.  I am constantly made aware of the fact that people will judge the message on the life of the messenger, and I know that my life has sometimes detracted from the message.  I continue to work on that daily.
  3. Years ago, I felt like I could change the world.  Now, I work most of all on changing me.  I can change no one but me, and that is a full time job.  But God and His Word can change people.  Hence, I work to make sure than when people hear me preach, they hear the Word of God, not the opinions of Tommy.
  4. Often I feel that I have not studied enough for all of my lessons, and I beseech the Lord to “speak through me.”  Again, this is not something miraculous, but many have been the times when I have been weak, and the lessons came out strong.  I attribute that to God.
  5. I am amazed at how much I learn as I preach.  Many times I preach God’s Word thinking and praying that it might help the church to grow, and I realize how the message hits me square in the eyes. Last week I discussed walking with God, and how when a person walks with God they go “in the same direction, on the same path, and at the same pace as God.”  What hit me was the idea that we often walk in front of God – and wind up worrying about the future because we can’t see that far ahead.  So now, I am working on dealing with one day at a time, and doing the best I can with the information I have, and leaving the rest in the hands of God.

I am sure that I will learn more before my earthly pilgrimage is over.

“Lord, help me keep my eyes focused on you, and help me to change to become more like you and your Son.  This will keep me pretty busy, so I ask, Lord, that you will give me the strength to continue on.  In Jesus name, AMEN.”

Thoughts, comments?

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