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August 2015 entries

Who is that Man in the Mirror and What did He do with my Hair?

As I sat looking at the charcoal grey apron pinned around my neck covering my form down past my knees I noticed a stark contrast. Locks of nearly white hair lay against the dark vinyl apron. It had been a couple of months since my last haircut and my hair was both noticeably whiter and thinner. How could this be? My father is 86 and his hair isn't this white. It isn't white at all. My brother is four years my senior and his hair isn't white either. What gives?

Sunday morning before services began my grandson Graeme grabbed his Poppy's hand to lead me on our stroll through the worship center and out a side door. It's a tradition that was started as soon as he was able to walk without assistance. When we finished our circuit I handed him off to "Howie." She is known to everyone but her grandson as Marilyn, my wife. I quickly returned to the worship center to glad hand as many visitors as possible before the service officially began. Shaking hands with one sweet lady I listened as she remarked, "I remember when my grandchild was that small. Just las week I sent him off to college." After sarcastically thanking her for her uplifting words I grimaced as a flashback of carrying Graeme's dad through the worship center suddenly invaded my thoughts. It seemed like just yesterday I was introducing him as our precious baby boy. Now I was introducing his son as my grand baby. What gives?

Can time pass so quickly and exact such a toll on our appearance without our notice. One day I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room listening as one of my members is trying to convince someone that I am old enough to be his pastor, and the next I am trying to convince myself I am not too old to be relevant. It all seems to have happened overnight.  It truly is as James wrote "What is your life? It is but a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." So true! So true!

So here's the question I'm asking myself; "Do I have any less time to be productive than I did when I was twenty years old?" Do I need to write of many of my hopes and dreams as unattainable since I have reached my late fifties? Actually, after some reflection, I have determined I have the same amount of time I had as a young man; I have this moment. No more and no less. No one is promised tomorrow. No age is exempt from hardship, tragedy or death. All of us, regardless of our age, have a purpose and a reason for being. So I'm glad God is highlighting my hair. Lots of people pay good money to have someone far less capable do that. And so what if my hair is thinning. It couldn't happen at a better time; bald is cool again.        


Affirmation and Opposition: Two Indicators of Positive Change

After Sunday's third service I was blessed to meet so many new families visiting Dallas Bay for the first time. Their wonderful comments encouraged me once again confirming we are following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Unsolicited affirmation is a great way for anyone following Christ to measure if they are fulfilling their God given purpose. Ironically, another is unexpected appearances of the enemy. I believe the only people, or Christian churches, that aren't opposed by Satan are those that are simply not threatening to reclaim enemy ground. This leads me to Sunday's last meet and greet.

As I worked around the coffee shop spending time with one great family after another, one man stood in the corner apparently waiting his turn to speak to me. After everyone, except myself and the deacon of the week, had left I approached the man to shake his hand. Immediately I could tell something was bothering him. He quickly informed me that he had waited to show me a video on his wife's phone. The man was visibly shaken. He told me he had watched it only once and would not watch it again. He even walked out of the room and into the hallway as he handed me the phone. Since I have not asked the man's permission I cannot tell you what the video revealed. I can only tell you that it was the creepiest thing I have ever seen. It was a clear manifestation of the demonic.

After watching the video I called the man back into the room. His first question to me was, "preacher, what do I do?" After asking some clarifying questions I told him that he needed to take control in the name of Jesus. Jesus has told us that He has been given "all authority in heaven and on earth" and that He had invested that authority into His followers. I'm not sure if the man did that or not, but I haven't  heard anything from him since Sunday.

I know the story is vague but let me assure you if I told you everything you may be sleeping with the lights on tonight. The point is this; Satan will attempt to frighten, confuse, or distract believers who are serious about their faith. The key word is attempt. He has no control over us except that which we give to him. I remember my former mentor telling a story of a late night demonic visitor. He had traveled to another city to preach a series of revival meetings. That Saturday evening an evil spirit sat upon his chest as he lay down in his motel room to sleep. He quickly rebuked it in the name of Jesus and the pressure on his chest was gone. However, activity continued in his room. As items were moved and as eery sounds emanated from the darkness, the preacher simply stated, "You can entertain me all night if you want, but you can't scare me." The activity ceased. The week was a great success in which the Lord delivered many in that church from the darkness into the light.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that "we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) This is the norm for a believer. Spiritual opposition is an indicator that you are being used by God to peel back the darkness and let His light shine through. 


Watch!

I'm spending much of my study time as of late preparing for the series "Timeless" that begins this Sunday. The messages look at the past, present and future through God's eternal eyes. It's not really a study in prophecy, although prophecy is a part of it. So the study got me to thinking about the events that are before us as believers. Here are some of my thoughts:

The Pentateuch, first five books of the Bible for you Gentiles, predicts that the Messiah will return after the Jewish people return to the land after being disbursed around the world.  (Deut. 30:1 - 3) Jewish people began returning in mass after Israel was reborn as a nation on May 14, 1948. Jesus concurred in His teaching when He declared that in the last days Jewish people in Jerusalem would be surrounded by their enemies. (Luke 21:20)

If we are to understand a generation to be 70 to 80 years in duration (Psalm 98:10) then the statement by Jesus in Matthew 24:34 must make us stop and think. 

Matthew 24:34 (NKJV)
34  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
 

He was referring to the generation that would experience the restoration of the Jewish state. The time would be near if we began the dating to the re-establishment of Israel in 1948 or even the control of Jerusalem by Israel which took place in 1967. The first date would place the Lord's return from 2 to 12 years in the future. The second date would place His return as early as 21 years down the road. If you believe as many believe that 7 years of tribulation occurs before His return then His return could be very near indeed.

We know that no one can predict the time of the Lord's return. He warned His disciples of setting dates:

Mark 13:32 (NKJV)
32  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Future events are better understood once they become past events. The birth and death of Jesus are classic examples. However, the Bible did foretell both happenings. The Bible has more to say about the next appearance of Christ than all other events combined. Certainly we will not know the moment but we are encouraged to be ready when it occurs. So it would serve us all well to heed Christ's words:

Mark 13:35-37 (NKJV)
35  Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning-- 36  lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37  And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"