Thursday, July 22, 2010

Precious Promises

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises…” (2 Peter 1:4).

My writing may be a little sparse this week. Monday and Tuesday my son and I drove 1600 miles from Grand Junction, CO to San Antonio, TX. My wife, Kathy, had already been there for three weeks. We went to visit her Dad and Mom who live in the Air Force Retirement Village. Kathy’s Dad has been battling cancer for several years and these past few months has had bouts with pneumonia also. Wednesday morning her Dad passed away.

My son and I got to talk with him Tuesday evening. Then we spent most of the night sitting with him along with Kathy’s mom and sister. We prayed and sang hymns. He was resting peacefully for a change. We talked and laughed and cried. We left the room for just a few minutes to get breakfast and when we returned, he was gone.

This morning I read from Psalm 116. Some of the promises from the Lord that stood out to me are:

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.    (Psa 116:5 NKJV)

Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.    (Psa 116:7-8 NKJV)

Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.    (Psa 116:15 NKJV)

O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.    (Psa 116:16 NKJV)

I have found all these promises to be true and precious in our time of distress. As the rest of the family arrives over the next few days, and as we prepare for the funeral services on Monday, I pray that God will remind us of these promises daily. I pray that His love will enfold our hearts, His peace will guard our minds, His hope will encourage our souls.

Thank you for your prayers also.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Richard Sipes, Obituary

Richard Sipes, MER Sipes
A few weeks ago as part of a
31 Days to Be a Better Blogger project I set up several Google Alerts to track subjects related to my blog. Google Alerts searches the web for occurrences of the words or phrases you want to check, then generates a report on them for you. It is a useful tool.
One of the alerts that I set up was for my name, “Richard Sipes”. Now, I do not have the most common name in the world. It’s not like my last name is Lee, Smith, Garcia, or Brown. My surname is not even in the top 1000 in the USA. Here are the facts about my last name:
·        SIPES ranks # 4784 in terms of the most common surnames in the United States for the year 2000. (You can see where your name ranks here).
·        SIPES had 6,740 occurrences in the 2000 Census, according the U.S. government records (that’s out of about 300 million people in the USA).
·        Out of a sample of 100,000 people in the United States, SIPES would occur an average of 2.5 times.
Now when you add my first name to that, it makes it even rarer to find a Richard Sipes. There are just not that many of us around, only a handful—and two of them live in my house. So imagine my surprise when this google alert showed up:. Richard Sipes, obituary. Here is the rest of the article:
MARSHALL - Graveside services for Richard Sipes, 53, of Marshall, will be 10 a.m. Friday, July 9, 2010, at Center Cemetery in Harleton, with Bro. Jim Houston officiating. Arrangements are by Downs Funeral Home. Mr. Sipes died July 6, 2010, in Marshall.
Born July 5, 1957, in Marshall, he was a truck driver for Baker Hughes and a member of Agape Fellowship Church. Survivors include his parents, Thomas Fulton and Patsy Sipes; sister, Jackie McGee; and stepchildren, Jennifer and Scotty Rawson. Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. today, July 8, 2010, at the funeral home.
E-mail condolences may be sent to the family.
How relieved I was when I remembered that I didn’t live in Marshall, TX; I am not yet 53 years old; and I’ve never been a truck driver. And I know none of the relatives that are listed. Whew! Escaped that close call!
Now I am not trying to make light of this family’s loss. I feel for them, and pray for them. But really, it got me to thinking, I am not much younger than Richard Sipes of Marshall, TX. What would someone write about me in an obituary? What would I want them to say?
It made me think of the “obits” of the kings of Israel and Judah in the Old Testament. Here’s a couple examples:
·        Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him. (1 Kings16:25).
·        Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. (2 Chron. 14:2).
Here’s what I notice about these two kings:
  1. What really matters is how I look “in the eyes of the Lord” not just in the eyes of men.
  2. The best life is the one that is lived for God.
  3. The life that is lived for God will do good and right.
Have you thought about your obituary?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jesus' Supernatural Claims

Why Do Some People Not Believe?

Today’s post is fourth in a series from John 6 on why some people believe and others do not. Read Do You Believe the Impossible? to set the stage for today’s topic. The first reason why some do not believe was The Spiritual Nature of Jesus' Mission. The second was The Gracious Nature of Jesus' Offer. The third was The Demands on Jesus for a Sign.

Part 4: The Supernatural Nature of Jesus' Claims.

In the gospel accounts Jesus makes some astounding claims. In John 5 there is a long discourse between Jesus and the religious leaders in which Jesus claims over and over to have come from God, indeed to be the Son of God. And again, in John 6, he is claiming a uniquely divine origin.

It's the sort of thing you expect to hear in a mental hospital: from people who have lost touch with reality. In the space of a mere 7 verses, from 34 to 40, Jesus uses the words 'I' or 'me' or 'my' 17 times. His claim is for a divine origin: “I have come down from heaven;” a divine mission: “I have come to do the will of him who sent me;” and, a few verses earlier, a divine ministry: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35).

Yet, Jesus' claims, as amazing as they are, are tempered by an equally amazing modesty. He isn't on about his own agenda. No, he's come to do the will of his Father in heaven. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." (John 6:38-39). Jesus has come to satisfy the most important need of human beings: the need to fill the spiritual void caused by sin.

Do you know that hunger? It's a profound hunger that only God can satisfy. It's a hunger that Jesus says he has come to satisfy, as both the giver and the gift. "For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. . . . I am the bread of life." (John 6:33-35)

But, if you'll pardon the pun, they just couldn't swallow that. After all, they thought they knew Jesus. They'd seen him grow up. They'd bought furniture from his father. They'd eaten with his family. How could he claim to have come down from heaven? That's ridiculous! He may have a strange ability to heal people, even to produce food in unexplainable ways, he might be able to do amazing miracles, but it's another thing to claim to be a miracle. That's a bit unbelievable wouldn't you say? Yet that is his claim.

Of course it's still his claim today and it's still an obstacle to faith for many today. You see, we're so intent on understanding our world, of being able to judge for ourselves what's true and what isn't that we find it hard to accept someone who claims to come from heaven and to be so beyond our field of measurement.

Jesus made greater claims for himself than any major religious figure, before or since. In the biblical accounts of Jesus we clearly see Jesus as supernatural by all the miracles he did. And we clearly see Jesus making claims to be the Son of God, to be sent from heaven, to be the only way to God, to have come back from the dead, and to be equal with God.

You owe it to yourself to consider them with as objective and sincere a mindset as you can. I can testify that if you do you will not be disappointed. I have found Jesus to be the loving and just Savior and Lord that he claims to be. He also claims he will be our eternal judge concerning eternal punishment or eternal life. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:40).

The only way to discount these claims is to discredit the biblical accounts. Of course that is what many try to do. If I can call into question the accuracy of the biblical record then I don’t really have to deal with the supernatural claims of Jesus. And if Jesus is not who he claims to be in the Bible, then I don’t have to deal with his claims on my life either.

What does it mean for you to take the supernatural claims of Jesus seriously?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Here’s Your Sign

I like Blue Collar Comedy. One of my favorites is Bill Engvall. What Engvall is most famous for is his catch phrase “Here’s your sign”. His explanation of this: “I just hate stupid people. They should have to wear signs that say, ‘I’m Stupid’. That way you wouldn’t rely on them, and you wouldn’t ask them for nothing.”
Here are some of his best:
  • (In a hallway waiting for an elevator) A stranger approaches and asks, “Excuse me, are these the elevators that go up?” Engvall replies, “No, these are the ones that go side to side. The ones that go up are down the hall.” Engvall then explains to the audience, “He walked away!”
  • Engvall’s wife (Gail) says, “Why do they put those [deer crossing] signs up? Deer can’t read.” Engvall’s reply: “No, but they can recognize pictures of themselves. Here’s your sign.”
  • (Engvall and a buddy were getting off of a boat with a string full of bass) A stranger asks, “You catch all those fish?” Engvall’s reply: “Nope. Talked ‘em into givin’ up. Here’s your sign.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could count on a sign to direct us in every decision? But life is not that way. The Bible says, “we live by faith not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7). We cannot always depend on God to drop down a neon sign from heaven to point the way. And even if He did, would we really follow it?
In John 6 Jesus is talking to a crowd of people who have followed Him after He miraculously fed 5000 of them. They ask Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
It strikes me as odd that this crowd would ask for a sign in order to believe. They started following Him because they had heard of His miraculous signs or seen Him perform them. The experienced His miraculous feeding of the 5000. His disciples had seen Him walk on the water. Now they ask for a sign. Wasn’t all that enough? Do they really need more evidence to believe?
Elsewhere Jesus said, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." (Matt. 16:4).  To the crowd in John 6 Jesus answers, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Jesus is the sign: His life, His death, His resurrection. Nothing else is needed. Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.”
Miracles do not ensure faith. Many have seen the signs but refuse to believe. In fact, sometimes miracles can be a hindrance to faith because people look for the sign, rather than looking to the One to whom the sign points. Too many times I have heard people say, “If God would only do _________ for me, I would believe.” Only to make up another condition if that sign occurs.
When will we finally stop searching for a sign and simply trust the One who has already revealed Himself so clearly in Jesus Christ.?
Today’s post is third in a series from John 6 on why some people believe and others do not. Read Do You Believe the Impossible? to set the stage for today’s topic. The first reason why some do not believe was The Spiritual Nature of Jesus' Mission. The second was The Gracious Nature of Jesus' Offer.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Working for Heaven?

Earn ItToday’s post is third in a series from John 6 on why some people believe and others do not. Read Do You Believe the Impossible? to set the stage for today’s topic. The first reason why some do not believe was The Spiritual Nature of Jesus' Mission. This post discusses the second reason:  The Gracious Nature of Jesus' Offer
A church had a yard sale. Well, it was actually a storage room giveaway. The pastor said, “We didn’t really sell anything. We had so much stuff that it took up too much space. Also, we wanted to reach out to the community. As people came up we told them, ‘Everything is free! Take as much home as you can. We want you to have it.’ People responded in curious ways. Many were noticeably uncomfortable. Some didn’t come thinking there was a catch. Others refused to leave without paying. Others, after much convincing, finally took the stuff to their cars, not believing their good fortune. And I thought to myself, ‘That’s pretty much the way people are about God’s grace.’ We insist on paying or working for it.”
The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of Karma, the Jewish covenant, and the Muslim code of law—each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional (Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?).
In John 6 a crowd had followed Jesus. He told them about, “eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27). He offered a gift. They offered to pay for it. They responded with the question, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" And in asking this question they demonstrate their world view. They think that eternal life is all about pleasing God through doing good works.
John Stott writes of man trying to justify himself by works, "It has been the religion of the ordinary man both before and since. It is the religion of the man-in-the-street today. Indeed, it is the fundamental principle of every religious and moral system in the world except New Testament Christianity. It is popular because it is flattering. It tells a man that if he will only pull his socks up a bit higher and try a bit harder, he will succeed in winning his own salvation. But it is a fearful delusion. It is the biggest lie of the biggest liar the world has ever known, the devil, whom Jesus called ‘the father of lies.’ Nobody has ever been justified by the works of the law, for the simple reason that nobody has ever perfectly kept the law."
Instead Jesus says to come by faith. Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." (John 6:29). Believe, it sounds too easy for some. They want to work for it, to earn it. But you cannot earn a gift, that is the nature of a gift. An old Middle Eastern story shows the futility of salvation by works:
A man was traveling on his donkey when he came upon a small fuzzy object lying in the road. He dismounted to look more closely and found a sparrow lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust skyward. At first he thought the bird was dead, but close investigation proved it to be very much alive. The man asked the sparrow if he was all right. The sparrow replied, “Yes.” The man said, “What are you doing lying on your back with your legs pointed toward the sky?” The sparrow responded that he had heard a rumor that the sky was falling. The man replied, “You surely don’t think you’re going to hold the sky up with those two scrawny legs, do you?” The sparrow replied, “One does the best he can.”
The little bird’s futile works were obvious. In the same way man’s condition is so desperate that his works are no more effective than a bird’s legs in the air trying to hold up the sky. No one will ever be saved by works.
Believe. So easy a child can do it. So hard the wisest stumble over it. The humble receive it. The proud refuse it.
Have you seen people who refuse to believe because they are trying to earn God’s favor?
Next post will look at the supernatural nature of Jesus' claims.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Do Some People Not Believe?

Today’s post is second in a series on why some people believe and others do not. See yesterday’s Do You Believe the Impossible? to set the stage for today’s topic.
Part 1: The Spiritual Nature of Jesus' Mission.
Spiritual - MaterialAt the end of John 6, Jesus speaks some words that show the insight He had into the minds and hearts of His hearers. He says, "But there are some of you who do not believe." And John adds the commentary, “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him … From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:64,66).
What caused some of these people to walk away from Jesus and not believe in Him? The episode here in John 6 gives us several clues about their unbelief. First, let’s understand the context. Jesus had just fed over 5000 people with a little boy’s lunch (John 6:1-15). Now these same people had caught up to Jesus again on the other side of the lake, looking for more to eat. Some of the people recognized what Jesus did as being a sign that Jesus was the new deliverer, like Moses. They thought Jesus was the one who would bring them liberation from the Roman oppression, the way Moses brought deliverance from slavery in Egypt. They thought Jesus would provide food to eat that could sustain an army in battle the way God provided manna in the desert.
Jesus says to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." (John 6:26-27).
Jesus says that they've got it all wrong. There are two kinds of food: "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life." There's the bread that nourishes our physical existence, but which is doomed to perish in the end; and there's also bread that nourishes our spiritual existence which is destined to last forever.
The trouble was, these Galileans were basically materialists. They'd eaten the loaves and had their fill. They saw the economic benefits of following Jesus and had decided they were onto a good thing. But they'd completely missed the spiritual significance of what had happened. They'd seen the miracle but they’d missed the sign.
One reason many fail to believe is that they are so stuck in the material that they refuse to see the spiritual. This is especially true in 21st century America. Let's face it, we're probably more materialistic now than the people of Galilee were in Jesus' day. We certainly have more material. People spend so much time, effort and energy working for material needs and wants today to the neglect of spiritual needs. Some will follow Jesus as long it pays off in this world, but walk away if the perceived gain is not forthcoming.
So Jesus' words come to us today with renewed urgency: "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."
Jesus’ mission and message are essentially spiritual, not material. And some simply will not move beyond the material. Do you remember what Jesus said to Satan during the first of his temptations in the desert? “Man shall not live by bread alone.” or “Human beings don't need just physical bread.” There's far more to life than our material needs.
Yet there are still those who disagree; who argue that such an idea is just a way of seducing the masses; of stopping them from worrying about their real state of existence. Marx claimed that religion (especially Christianity) was the opiate of the masses, something to keep the poor happy and ignorant of the economic oppression under which they live. But according to Jesus the opposite is true. It's actually materialism that's the narcotic, which deadens us to our spiritual state.
Just listen to our politicians some time. They'll tell you that all that matters is our economic well-being. And it seems to be true doesn't it? As long as we're acquiring the latest gadget, the newest car, the toys we enjoy, we don't seem to think about the spiritual side of life. Not, that is, until we realize what a spiral we're in: where our latest purchase is never quite enough, where the appetite for more becomes insatiable, where our buying becomes a substitute for satisfying what's really a hunger for something else—for significance, for acceptance, for love, for a relationship with the living God.
Do you know unbelievers who fall into this category?
The next post will examine the gracious nature of Jesus’ offer.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do You Believe the Impossible?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).

“Let's consider your age to begin with - how old are you?”

“I'm seven and a half exactly.”

“You needn't say ‘exactly’,” the queen remarked: “I can believe it without that. Now I'll give you something to believe. I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day.”

“I can't believe that!” said Alice.

“Can't you?” the queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There's no use trying,” she said: “one can't believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven't had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Alice in WonderlandLewis Carroll is commenting in that passage from Through the Looking Glass on the enigma of faith. Why is it that some people manage to believe things that others find utterly incredible? As far as the Queen is concerned it's all a matter of effort. Just hold your breath and shut your eyes. You can believe anything if you try hard enough. But we, like Alice, realize that it isn't that simple. There's a big difference between faith and mere wishful thinking. To fail to understand that is to confuse reality with fantasy. If you have to make yourself believe it then there's probably something wrong.

Yet having said that, many people do believe the impossible. Certainly we Christians appear to, don't we? That God would become a human being and walk on earth. That He would be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. That He healed the sick, raised the dead and did other miraculous signs. That He would be killed but then come back to life in a body that could be touched and yet at the same time walk through walls.

Alice would be excused for laughing at such an idea wouldn't she? Yet most Christians would argue that they're not forcing themselves to believe. They're not suspending their rational faculties in order to believe all this. No, rather, we believe because of a deep inner conviction that the Christian message is the truth.

Now why is that? It can't just be that we're all gullible. I’m sure that there are plenty of gullible people and probably even gullible Christians around. But there are also plenty of intelligent, reasonable, rational Christians around as well. So why is it that some people believe, while others don't?

Well that's the question that Jesus addresses in the conversations we find in John 6. Stay tuned for the next few days as we examine why some do not believe and why others do believe.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What’s Your Testimony?

TestimonyHave you heard Christians get up and testify along this line? They say, "I used to do drugs and steal and hurt people and all these terrible things. But I don't do any of them any more. I believe in the Lord. I've stopped all these things." They leave the impression that it ought to make everyone become a Christian, to see such a tremendous change.
But what I have discovered is that people are not always impressed by what you have stopped doing. Even non-believers can stop doing these things if they have a good reason. And sometimes they succeed in stopping. If that is the basis of our Christian testimony, we have got nothing more to say than they do. No, the world is not necessarily impressed by stopping something.
What does impress them is seeing you do something they cannot do. That is love. Denton Lotz, leader of the Baptist World Alliance, related this story at the 1999 Arkansas Baptist State Convention:
A Romanian woman accepted Christ as her Savior and was immediately transformed by the unbelievable love of God. She began going into restaurants and other public places and simply declaring to all who could hear, "Jesus loves you!"
She came to a railroad station and shared her message, "Jesus loves you!" with two men who were drunk. Immediately one of the men slapped her across the face. She looked at him and declared, "In the name of Jesus, I forgive you." Again he slapped her, and again she said, "In the name of Jesus, I forgive you." As the men continued to beat her, she continued to testify to the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Finally they left her, nearly dead, where she was found by fellow believers.
A year later, she had recovered. One day she sat outside the front door of her home, and a passerby noticed her and approached her. He said to her, "I am a believer."  In order to test his sincerity (she was fearful that he might have been trying to trick her), she said, "Get down on your knees right there and praise God out loud." He did so. So she invited him in.
He said, "Don't you know who I am? I am the man who beat you up. Every time I would hit you, you would say, 'In the name of Jesus, I forgive you.' Because of your testimony to me, I could not help but turn to Jesus."
Love Your EnemiesJesus says that the mark of a genuine Christian is not just that we stop doing bad things (Matt. 5:21-32), but that we begin to love -- not just those that love us (anybody can do that, Jesus says) -- but beginning to love those who do not love you; to treat kindly those who mistreat you; to return good for evil and to pray for those who spitefully use you; to welcome and treat kindly those who are against you and are trying to hurt you. This is Christ in us, isn't it? You forgive freely. You no longer treat those who have needs around you with callous indifference, but you respond to them and do not shut them out of your life.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 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, 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?” (Matt. 5:43-47)
How will you show Christ in you today?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aim Higher by Stooping Lower

Wendys Dave ThomasThe late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s hamburger chain was known for his humble service within the multi-billion dollar empire he founded. When asked what made him so successful; he replied, "my MBA." But he didn’t mean a graduate degree in business administration, he meant "a mop- and-bucket attitude." In other words, no work task was too insignificant for him to tackle; he simply jumped in and got the job done.

Dave Thomas, was a high-school dropout, he was always ashamed of that and it would have been easy for him as he tasted success to demand every perk and privilege as a way of covering for his own inadequacies, but instead He lived by the creed of the Mop Bucket Attitude. In fact, Dave Thomas’ picture in the corporate annual report shows him wielding a mop and a plastic bucket. That wasn’t a gag either, it was done intentionally so that he could lead by example. Dave Thomas showed that service at the lowest levels makes for great success.

Jesus displayed a mop-and-bucket attitude as well. He said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45).

One example of His servant attitude is the night of His betrayal. He was sharng the Passover feast with His disciples. He got up from the meal, laid aside His garments, took a basin of water and a towel, and began to wash His disciple’s feet.

In those days they only wore sandals--feet would get dirty from walking around all day on the dusty roads. Common practice in every Jewish home to have a basin of water and towel ready at the door to clean the dust off their feet. This was a sign of respect from the host to the guests.

The host would have never washed the guests’ feet himself, this was a task for a servant, not a master. It was a job that was so looked down upon that many times the Jewish slaves were not even required to do it-it was a task that was reserved for the Gentile slaves.

Yet here is Jesus, getting down to wash the disciple's feet because they wouldn't do it for each other. Jesus is telling us that our importance is not in some position we hold, or in some title or degree--it's in service.

Jesus, was the Lord of the Universe. If anyone didn’t have to humble Himself to wash the feet of farmers and fishermen, He didn’t. But because He knew He was Lord of the Universe, Because He knew He was not diminished by showing His love in humble service, He took up the towel and basin and stooped to serve.

That evening, Jesus washed 24 stinky feet and 12 proud hearts.

How are you aiming higher by stooping lower?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gone Fishing

Gone FishingI had a great time last Friday. I went fishing. Now I am not the best or most experienced fisherman around. But I do enjoy being in the great outdoors. And in this case I also greatly enjoyed the company. I was invited to go fishing by the husband of one of my church members. Although he had been active in church years ago, he had only been to church with his wife once in the year I have been at New Covenant. But we had met together a few times outside the church for dinner and had gotten to know each other a little. He invited me to go fishing.
Thursday night I went over to his place to check out the equipment. Then we went to buy fishing licenses at the local grocery store. A little before 6:00 a.m. Friday morning I got to his place, we loaded up the tubes, waders, boots, flippers, poles, and tackle. From there I drove about an hour and a half up to Weir and Johnson lakes on the Grand Mesa. We got to talk about a lot of things on the way up the winding mountain road. It sprinkled a little on the way up, but the whole time we were on the lake it was perfect weather.
We got there about 7:30 a.m. What a beautiful place! At an elevation of about 10,500 feet, the water is cool and clear. We could see the trout swimming and the mosquitoes flying around at the water’s edge. We quickly sprayed ourselves with deet; got into our gear; and were soon one the lake paddling ourselves in the Caddis cat fishing tubes.
Although I have fished before, I had never done fly fishing before. It’s a lot of fun. My friend gave me some good tips and showed me how to cast. Soon I was casting out that fly like I had been doing it for years.
And praise the Lord, I was not a total failure at fishing either! I was able to catch quite a few small trout. We did not keep any, just pulled them in, unhooked them, and let them go again. It was so much fun! And so relaxing just floating around on that beautiful lake. We were the only people on the lake. There was still snow in a few shady places under the trees. We saw a fox trotting along the shore. We talked, fished, relaxed, and enjoyed God’s handiwork. We came in about five hours later, packed up, and started back down the mountain. Had another great conversation about all kinds of things including God on the way home.
Lake on Grand MesaSunday morning my friend came to worship again with his wife. I got to talk to him alone a little before the service. He told me that he had never given up on God, just on some church people. I told him God had never given up on him either. After the sermon, during the invitation time, he came forward wanting to join the church, having rededicated his life to Christ.
Fishing—for fish or for men. It is so fulfilling!
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’"    (Mark 1:17 NKJV).