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May 2011 entries

You Might Not Understand Grace If....

Sitting in my car at lunch I was enjoying the rays through the sun roof and pondering the most often asked questions I get from week to week. (I know, I need to get a life right?) Anyway, I came to conclude most questions I receive are based in an insufficient view of grace. So, with my salute to Jeff Foxworthy, I want to list the top   reasons "You might not understand grace if..."

You might not understand grace if you think one sin is greater than another,

You might not understand grace if you think God is more surprised by your failures than you are,

You might not understand grace if you think God loves you less when you sin more,

You might not understand grace if you think you are better than another believer because you attend church more often than they do,

You might not understand grace if you think everybody who goes to heaven will only come from your denomination,

You might not understand grace if you think you can do anything worthy of salvation outside of throwing yourself into the arms of a merciful Savior,

You might not understand grace if you think rock & roll will send you to hell (you may fill in any brand of music here from hip-hop to Lady Gaga in place of rock & roll,)

You might not understand grace if you think crying during a Bill Gaither Homecoming video means you are saved,

Finally, you might not understand grace if you think you deserve better treatment from God because you are a good person.

If you doubt these profound statements then turn to the Word.

 

John 3:16-18 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)
44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

1 John 1:8-10 (NKJV)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

 

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

 

 

 

 


Generous and Wise

I want to do something to help. That thought has been running through my mind this morning as I have contemplated how fortunate my family is to have avoided damage from the recent storms. We didn't even lose power and so many people lost eveything. I have been thinking of ways a large church can organize an event to get people together and supply what is needed for them to get their lives back in order. Something like a "StormAid" concert day on our property. While investigating what the most pressing need might be, I found some alarming stories.

It seems people have been generous to contribute much needed supplies, while others are not. In one story a small town in Alabama had no place to store much needed canned food because they had been inundated with used underwear and broken toys. It seems some people have used this tragedy to get rid of unwanted items around the house. The residents of these storm stricken communities are wading through people's refuse while they sort through the rubbage of their homes. In one instance a city official said that the contributions of unwanted items was a bigger eyesore than the rubble left from the storm.

It seems to me this would add insult to injury. The fact that others would offer me their dirty underwear would be humiliating. These people haven't lost their dignity, just their homes. I'm sure they're doing just fine with their own dirty underwear. How about new and clean clothes? Why not purchase a new toy for a child whose lost everything? In doing so we can help add value to their lives as well as our own.  The truth is most Americans are generous and good hearted people. Unfortunately, there are others who are not. I wonder what some of these people will claim on their taxes next year under charitable contributions. How much is a broken toy worth? How about a pair of previously owned BVD's? 

Let us be generous and wise. I am watching to see what is really needed in these communities. Let us be able to respond to the needs of others in a way that does the most good. For those of us who were spared from the storm it is the least we can do.       


Faith in Reality TV

While watching two popular shows with my family last night, I was impressed with how the Lord gets His message out through unexpected ways. There are dedicated Christians making an impact on Survivor and American Idol.

On Survivor one young man is spending most of his 38 day ordeal on what is known as "Redemtion Island." The camera has followed his struggle with lonliness and betrayel as he wrestles with God's purpose in his misery. Through it all he has been able to witness to millions of Americans as he continues to lean on the Lord for strength. I don't how it will all pan out in the end, but I know multitudes of viewers have a better understanding of what it means to be a Chritian than those who buy into the message of slick haired purveyors of the prosperity gospel they usually see on tv..

Then on American Idol God has been displaying Himself through young talented artists with strong faith and morals. It was never more evident than last night. The coach for the week for these young contenders was Lady Gaga. She suggested to one young man that he act as if the microphone were his girlfriend and stick his tongue down it's throat. He was obviously rocked by her comment. I don't know how all of the conversation went because we are only privy to what the producers want us to see. They did show this young man say "I think after that I need to kiss my cross" and proceeded to do so. Lady Gaga also advised another young artist not to shy away from calling herself evil in a song popularized by Elvis. The young southern belle understood what Gaga was saying, but insisted on camera that she was not evil. While the popular shock singer has lost all sense of shame, it is good to know that not all Americans have.

Seeing these young reality tv participants stand up for their faith is encouraging. I know they will all be tempted to sell out for a buck. That has always been the way of etertainment. I'm praying that they buck the trend and stay true to their convictions. If they do their impact will be felt long after Lady Gaga is forgotten.    


Don't Get Too Big For Your Britches

My mom used to say, "Kenton Reid, don't ever get too big for your britches." Hard to do since as a child I had to shop for my blue jeans in the "Husky" department at Sears. I came to realize she wasn't being literal of course. She meant for me to never forget where I came from. A little 2 bedroom, one bath house, my father built by hand, was my childhood home. We wore our clothes until they were worn out. The main requirement for  school clothes was durability not fashion. I wore my shoes with cardboard in the bottom and my jeans with patches on the knee. I'm not complaining. I didn't know anything else. So mom was just reminding me no matter how far ahead I got in life to not forget from whence I came. I have really tried to remember her advice.

This morning I attended a meeting of local pastors. We met at a meat and three known for their sign which usually includes the daily special and a Bible verse or spiritual truth. Things like, "Breakfast special w/gravy & biscuits. $4.25 Jesus Loves You!" I know some of these men, but not all of them. I respect them all. Some are retired from 50+ years of ministry. Others pastor obscure country churches. I would imagine all of their memberships together would not equal the size of our children's ministry at Dallas Bay. So why do I go? My momma's words come back to me, "Kenton Reid, don't ever get too big for your britches." And more than that, I would miss a tremendous blessing if I didn't go. Take this morning for example.

A distinguished 80 year old retired pastor gave his testimony. Just last year he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer. I heard this humble servant of God tell how the Lord walked with Him every step of the way. I remember he said, "I didn't ask the Lord to go with me in this trial. I asked to go with Him through it all." He said that he saw his illness as a ministry opportunity equal to any church God had allowed him to lead. What a perspective! He witnessed to the love of God with every person who walked through the door of his hospital room. He shared how God had shown Him his will in His Word throughout the ordeal. He told us how one morning God led him to read the account of the woman who touched the hem of Christ's garment and was healed. He came to Dallas Bay to be with his son's family and I preached from that same verse. That was God's way of affirming that he would be healed. And he was. There he was standing in front of us testifying to the goodness of God as waitresses shoved breakfast specials across the table before him. The cancer is completely gone. What a blessing. And to think, if I would have gotten too big for my britches I would have missed it all.