Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to Love Life

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
'Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil'" (1 Peter 3:8-12, NIV).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Prayer Warriors and Prayer Worriers

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7, NASB).

Some people are prayer warriors; some are prayer worriers. Thankfully, God has room in his kingdom for both.

Some approach prayer with confidence; some approach prayer with anxiety. Thankfully, God cares for both.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

God Sent Us A Savior

If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Savior.

---from a Dayspring Christmas card of the 1990s

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Doing Good

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone" (Titus 3:1-8, NIV).

We do not get the full story from what we read in the newspaper, hear on the radio, or watch on the television. In the news media, we tend to get the ugly side of life. We see the problems, the evil, and the heart-breaking stories in heavy doses. The news is real, but it is only a part of what is going on in this world.

Throughout the world, people are being impacted by the Spirit of Christ. How many people are seeing the injustices and doing something good about them because of trust in God? How many are stepping up to abusive people in order to protect innocent victims? How many are learning to honor their parents despite their failings? How many are helping people in need without any fanfare? How many are extending forgiveness and seeking reconciliation with people who have been estranged from them? How many are deciding to embrace sexual purity? How many are extending mercy and friendship to people who have made a scandal out of their lives? How many prayers are being said by men and women who genuinely care about someone who is in trouble? How many are sharing the reason for their hope despite the risks of rejection or opposition? How many are keeping their promises despite the difficulties?

How many people have been changed by the mercy, kindness, and grace of God? How many are eager to do good in this world because of their hope in Christ? We may never know the numbers, but we see many of them all the time. Let's look for them, allow them to inspire us, and look past them to the God who motivates them to do good.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Anniversary of Janet's Baptism

"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38, NIV).

Yesterday marked the 31st anniversary of Janet's baptism. (She was only 11 years old when she started following Jesus Christ...and she has never stopped!) Happy anniversary, Janet!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


"The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.' But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD" (Jonah 1:1-3, NIV).

While reading that passage tonight, it occurred to me that another missionary to non-Jewish people faced his bigotry at Joppa also. Unlike Jonah, the apostle Peter did not run away from the opportunity to bring God's message to the Gentiles (see Acts 10). From Joppa, Jonah fled from God and his mission to save his enemies. From Joppa, Peter embraced God's vision to bring his enemies into the kingdom of Christ.

We must learn the lessons of Jonah and Peter. We need to see people as God sees them. People who are very different from us share one thing in common with us: we all need Christ.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Panthers for Christ

Sometimes I like to quote from Ron Babbit's newsletter to supporters of his ministry. Ron is one of our ministers in the Contact Church of Christ. He and our other ministers receive support from other Christians and congregations in order to serve the Contact Church, a ministry to the urban poor in Tulsa. (Thanks to everyone who supports the urban ministry!)

In his recent newsletter, he wrote about Panthers for Christ, a club that the Contact Church started at Clinton Middle School. He said,

"Panthers for CHRIST continues to grow. Panthers for CHRIST is GOD'S challenge for us to go to a Middle School and love some clowns and darlins. Recently this school was an at risk school---low grades, whatever it takes to be placed on that list. But, Good News! The Clinton Middle School is no longer on the at risk list! Recently, Panthers for CHRIST was complimented by the Clinton Middle School Principal, Mr. A. He wrote a letter to the Tulsa Public School Superintendent stating that one of the reasons Clinton Middle is off the at risk list is because of the largest organization in the school---Panthers for CHRIST! We continue showing up with healthy donuts purchased by a godly brother who believes in serving and loving others. The challenges come when some bad clowns show up and are ready to 'dance' (translated---let's start a fight). My constant prayer is that I don't knock one of them naked! I'm not ready to do prison ministry! GOD is great!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jesus: The Baby Who Was God

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14, NIV).

What was it like for Jesus as deity to become human? In one moment, he was present everywhere; in the next, he had limited himself to the form of an embryo. In one moment, he knew everything; in the next, he was learning everything. In one moment, he had all the power in existence; in the next, he needed to be cared for by his mother.

Within a few decades, Jesus Christ would experience every aspect of humanity (with the exception that he never sinned...he always lived in complete harmony with God). He would experience loss. He would know rejection. He would enjoy a good meal and good friends. He would suffer opposition. He would depend upon prayer. He would feel the effect of sin, and it would kill him. He would go through the resurrection that his followers long to experience someday.

God became an embryo, a baby, a toddler, an adolescent, and a man. He knows humanity. With the apostle Paul, we can say,
"Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV).

Joseph: A Man of Quiet Righteousness

"Joseph her husband was a righteous man" (Matthew 1:19, NIV).

The Bible does not record a single word spoken by Joseph, the husband of Mary and adoptive father of Jesus Christ. But his actions speak volumes.

Joseph was a man of faith, trusting the word of God as it was delivered by an angel in his dreams. He was a generous man, willing to accept his pregnant fiancee even though he knew that he had not been involved in the child's conception. He was a responsible and brave man, risking his reputation and his life to protect his wife and Son.

Joseph was a quiet man, but a righteous man. He was determined to do right. He lived in a right relationship with God and the people around him. Joseph was an ideal father for the young Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mary: The Sentimental Mother

"But his mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51, NIV).

Without a doubt, Mary was a special young woman. The Scriptures paint a picture of the mother of Jesus Christ as a woman of strong faith, humility, and willingness to serve. When God chose Mary, he honored a young woman who could be trusted with nurturing and guiding the development of the Son of God.

The Bible reveals another interesting aspect of Mary's personality; she was a sentimental mother. She treasured her memories of Jesus' childhood. She remembered the surprises with fondness:

*the angel's appearance
*Joseph's acceptance of her and her Son
*the unusual location of Jesus' birth
*the responses of the shepherds
*the words of Simeon and Anna
*her Son's words and actions as he grew into manhood.

Each memory touched her heart. Her Son had changed her life in profound ways, and she would be forever grateful.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Discipline

Assuming that Tulsa has recovered sufficiently from the ice storm (and we do not get hit hard by another one before Sunday), I will be finishing my class on biblical parenting this coming Sunday morning at the Contact Church of Christ. These are my notes:

*Every child needs discipline in order to make it in life. In order to become godly men and women, our children must learn to submit to proper authority.

*Tommy Nelson tells this true story: "In the early 1970s I was the chaplain of a high school football team. And on the team I served was a young man who was the finest high school player I have ever seen. He was one of only three athletes in the history of Texas to be a three-time high school all-American (meaning, he was a high school all-American as a sophomore!). When he was ready to graduate, he had his choice of colleges...The question was not whether this young man would be good, but whether he was going to win the Heisman. After he made his decision, I said to his high school coach, 'What do you think? Will he win the Heisman someday?' His coach replied, 'He'll never carry the ball in college.' I was shocked. 'What do you mean?' I demanded. And he told me this young man had a character flaw that would eventually disqualify him...Well, this young man ended up attending four different colleges---he quit two and was kicked out of two. He finished without a degree...What was the character flaw that the coach saw? 'He cannot submit to authority. He cannot submit to his parents. He cannot submit to an employer. He cannot submit to a teacher...We've carried him along for the sake of the ball club. But I assure you, he will not submit to his college coaches. His football career is done'" (The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, pp.81-82).

*The Bible tells us, "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently" (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

*We must care enough for our children to discipline them.

*"Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death" (Proverbs 19:18, NASB). We must act while we can. We do not want to see our children die in gang violence or from AIDS, because they never received appropriate discipline at home. They must learn to respect authority if we ever want to see them learn self-discipline and submission to God's standards.

*Discipline needs to vary depending on a child's temperament, age, and nature of the wrong committed. However, breaking the rules must be punished. Sometimes a verbal reprimand is sufficient; sometimes spanking is necessary; sometimes privileges must be taken away. However, something must be done to stop what would eventually become destructive behavior. If something is not working, add another punishment to it until you get the child to see the seriousness of the situation.

*While stopping inappropriate behavior is essential, discipline also includes working toward developing positive qualities in our children. We should want our sons to develop the character qualities of an elder or deacon (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13), and our daughters to become women of noble character (as described in Proverbs 31:10-31).

*We must point out positive role models (like members of the local church or celebrities like Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy) for our children to admire. We must discuss life issues with our children. We must guide them in selecting good entertainment choices. If we can help them to want to do good, we have won the war even if we lose a few battles occasionally.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Prince and the Kingdom

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this" (Isaiah 9:6-7, NIV).

"Christ is the Prince of Peace,
the Church of Christ is the Kingdom of Peace" (Barton Warren Stone).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Acceptance and Affection

These are my notes for my parenting class for this coming Sunday at the Contact Church of Christ:

*In our last lesson, we talked about developing esteem (or a healthy sense of self-worth) within our children. We discussed the idea that we must love our children for who they are.

*In this lesson, we will focus on acceptance. We will love our children no matter what they do. Then we will concentrate on showing affection to our children.

*The Bible says, "A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17, NIV). In this sense, parents need to be their children's friends. We need to love them at all times.

*Accepting our children is very different than merely tolerating them. Each child must feel that we love him or her genuinely. They must be celebrated.

*God loves us even when he is not pleased. In the same way, parents need to love their children.

*In The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, Tommy Nelson warns, "When a child senses that his parents' love ebbs and flows based on what he does, he eventually becomes a neurotic child. A son will always be left wondering whether he has done enough this time to earn the attention and affection that he craves. A young daughter who can't find acceptance and unconditional love at home will look for places where she feels loved no matter what she does" (p. 186).

*One of the strongest bonds in life is family. Affection builds strong families. Children need hugs and kisses from parents. Girls need hugs, even when they are older. Boys need to wrestle with their dads. We need to show affection. Children with affectionate parents will grow up with a good sense of their value and an understanding of love.

*Parents need to "love their that the word of God will not be dishonored" (Titus 2:4-5, NASB). When we are parents who show affection to our children, the word of God will be honored. Our children (as well as outsiders) will view God's way with respect.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What Love Is

"I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is" (Forrest Gump).

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16, NIV).

Sunday, December 02, 2007


"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities---his eternal power and divine nature---have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20, NIV).

Todd Box, one of our ministers in the Contact Church of Christ, preached today.

About five years ago, Todd was a homeless man staying at the Salvation Army shelter. He had recently returned to serving the Lord after a number of years of running from him. Today, in his sermon, Todd mentioned that he would ask the guys at the homeless shelter every Sunday, "Hey! How about coming to church with me today?" Many would respond, "No thanks, man. I'm busy today." He always thought, What? You're homeless. How could you be too busy to come to church with me? What in the world do you have to do?

I thought, excuses certainly sound funny except when I make them.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mike Huckabee

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men" (Titus 3:1-2, NIV).

I have decided to vote for Mike Huckabee in Oklahoma's presidential primary. A former Baptist preacher and Arkansas governor, Mr. Huckabee impresses me as a man of good character, wisdom, and experience who would surround himself with excellent advisers to form a very good administration.

I have included two quotes that demonstrate the character of Mike Huckabee. The first is from an article in Newsweek magazine describing how he has dealt with racism. The second is from his web site describing his pro-life views. After reading both, I think you will understand why I intend to vote for Mike Huckabee for president of the United States.

"Huckabee took the pulpit of a small but growing church in Pine Bluff, Ark., and started a Christian radio and TV station, which aired his Sunday sermons. One day a listener contacted him. He was a black teenager and was interested in attending services at Huckabee's church, but worried he wouldn't be welcome; Immanuel Baptist Church had been all white since its inception in the 1890s. 'Of course you can come, I told him,' Huckabee recalls.

"The minister prepared his flock. 'I hope that nobody has anything except warm feelings,' he recalls telling them. 'In fact, if he is not welcome, I don't want to be here either.' The speech didn't go over well among some church elders, who threatened to fire him. Several members quit in protest. But most of his parishioners stood with him, and in the years that followed, the church slowly integrated. 'I grew up with a lot of people who really resisted integration,' Huckabee tells NEWSWEEK. 'The more I listened to them, the more I became convinced that racism was an incredible evil.' Rex Nelson, who worked for Huckabee when he was governor, says his racial awareness 'comes from being raised poor...He knew what is was like to look up at other people who were looking down on him.' (Huckabee later carried these lessons to the statehouse, where he pushed to end racial disparity in drug sentencing and urged compassion for the children of illegal immigrants---a position that put him at odds with some in his party.)" See for the full article.

"No candidate has a stronger record on the sanctity of life than I do. I have always been actively and aggressively pro-life. I first became politically active when I helped pass Arkansas' Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it can to protect life...To me, life doesn't begin at conception and end at birth. Every child deserves a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water. Every child deserves the opportunity to discover and use his God-given gifts and talents." See for more details about his pro-life convictions.