Recently I was given a DVD copy of Lee Strobel’s latest production ”The Case for a Creator.” Since receiving this DVD, I have watched the video several times. I personally find that Strobel makes some very compelling arguments about scientific evidence that points toward God. I pray that everyone (both Christian and non-Christian alike) should strongly consider. You may watch the video in its entirety at the link above or you may watch it in segments on youtube. God bless!
Monthly Archives: November 2010
Although I had been there before; this time was dramatically different. The last few times I had attended College Station to watch the Oklahoma Sooners play the Texas Aggies in football; the Sooners came out and dominated the game early and never looked back. But on this particular day, things were different; much different.
If you have ever attended a football game, you have probably witnessed firsthand the effect the home crowd can have on the outcome of the game. Fans are dressed in their team’s colors, faces painted, holding up signs, and cheering loudly until their hands hurt and they have no voice left. It is one of the most exciting spectacles in all of sports.
Growing up in Oklahoma, you are either “Sooner born, Sooner bred, and when you die you are Sooner dead” or you root for “Boon Picken’s University.” (OSU)
If you know me you know that OU is the team that I follow and root for on a weekly basis. However; I am not ashamed to say that I also like Texas A&M. Some of you might be reading this and wonder, WHY!?! It is because I absolutely love the tradition and pageantry of that school.
The fans at Texas A&M are referred to as “The Twelfth Man.” (If you would like to learn how they received that title, go check out this webpage: http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/team/12thman.html. The Aggies take great pride in their team, tradition, and school.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the OU/A&M football game with my friend Scott. I was very excited that he invited me to attend the game. The seats were great and the atmosphere was electric. As the game was underway, I was enamored with the Aggie crowd as they stood, cheered, yelled, clapped, their team on to a 33-19 victory over my Sooners. There were several keys to the game but nothing like the FOUR goal line stands made by the Aggie defense.
We could spend way too much time debating why the Sooners lost. If you witnessed the game, you have your perspectives and I have mine. But coming from this Sooner fan who was at the game I must say that in my humble opinion, I strongly believe that the encouragement contributed by the Twelfth Man made all the difference in the outcome of that game.
When we are being encouraged we try harder, we focus more, and we give it all we have. That is why Paul stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:11- “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Paul was a great encourager of people. I believe Paul understood the value of encouragement because he spent time with Barnabas the “Encourager” (Acts 4:36). What an honorable title to have bestowed upon you by others! What a reputation to have. I don’t know about you, but that is the type of person I like to be around while ministering to others.
I want to become more of an encourager. I want to strive to become more like Paul, Barnabas, and Christ by uplifting others. Let’s look as Scripture to see if we can determine ways/principles Barnabas encouraged others so we too can become more encouraging to others around us.
“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” (Act 11:19-26)
The account found in Acts 11:19 is a pickup from Acts 8:4. The conversion of Greeks to Christianity caused some concern to those converted from Judaism in Jerusalem (v. 22). As a result the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas! (23-26) to help clear up the confusion. Notice the approach Barnabas took to help encourage those involved.
1. He was not envious of the success of others (“was glad”–23a). If we allow ourselves to be competitive with others to the point that we cannot rejoice with them, it only will cause harm and heartache.
2. He became involved by using the gift God gave him (23b). Once we come to the conclusion that all the gifts we have come from God and that those gifts are bestowed to us to glorify others and God, then we can be better and uplifting others.
3. He encouraged faith and commitment to God (23c). It is through our personal relationship with God and His church that true joy is received. By growing in our faith and commitment it will aid us in our quest for happiness with ourselves and towards others.
4. He practiced what he preached (24). If we want to be uplifted and encouraged, then we need to display that trait within our own lives. We reap what we sow.
5. He got others involved (25-26a) Just as a head cold is contagious; so is encouragement. We often hear the phrase, “Pass it forward.” The more encouragers we can motivate the better off everyone will be.
6. He had patience (26b). The passage shares that Barnabas worked with this body of believers for an entire year. We must be steady in our plotting and realize that the harvest will come if we will only be patient.
The world needs more Barnabas’. It is in desperate need of men and women who intentionally find ways to build up each other and the church. The question now is will we go out of our way to make a difference in the life of another; or will we continue to do things the way we always have. It is easy for us to grab our pom-poms and cheer for our sports team. Will we begin to share the same enthusiasm in regards to our appreciation and encouragement of others?
As I walked into Starbucks with my friend Scott, I never knew that something meaningful was about to occur. As I stood in line trying to decide what I wanted to drink, I noticed a gentleman in full military attire walk in and take his place in line. I have always had an appreciation for the men and women who are willing to fight for our freedom and protection but sadly I have neglected to show them my heartfelt appreciation. I knew it was time to make a change and the Lord had provided me a great opportunity. I turned to the gentleman, stuck out my hand; looked him squarely in the eyes and said, “Thank you for serving our country.” “Because of your willingness to serve; you have made this country better for all of us.” The gentleman seemed a bit surprised at what I had to say and then replied, “You are welcome. It is an honor for me to serve.” I left the store feeling a little bit better about myself and was appreciative of the chance to speak with that gentleman.
Our Lord has given us much to consider in regards to showing respect and honor to others. We find Paul discussing the subject of submission to authorities in Romans 13. We find at the end of verse 7b, “(show) respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
This week, we will celebrate our American Veterans. Our nation has set aside this time for remembering those who gave some and those who gave all so that we could be here today, enjoying what we enjoy in this most blessed of nations.
I am thankful for Veteran’s Day. I am grateful that it has been set aside as a day to remember and to honor those to whom honor is due. Have you ever said something to someone just to find out they didn’t remember who you were? That has happened to most people at one time or another, and it is very embarrassing. Nobody likes to be forgotten. God put us here to focus on others around us. So we are to bestow our personal blessings on others around us by simply remembering to remember them.
In 2 Timothy 1:3 we see where Paul remembered Timothy. “I constantly remember you in my prayers.” Going on into verse 5, Paul tells Timothy that He is reminded of Timothy’s faith. He could not have been reminded of Timothy’s faith unless he was remembering Timothy. And that is what we are to do, too. We are to remember those around us so that we will know best how to help them, honor them, and in some cases to guide them towards Jesus.
In Romans 1:8-10, Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome. “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness how I constantly remember you in my prayers at all times.” Paul always remembered other people.
May God bless those who remember our veterans. God bless those who remember their departed loved ones! And may God bless all those who know that people count more than anything else. None of us want to be forgotten if we should leave before Jesus comes back, and none of our ancestors want to be forgotten either. And God does not want us to forget them, or what they have done for us.
To you, veterans, we owe a debt of gratitude because you were willing to go, to serve and to give on behalf of the United States of America! God bless you!
I thought I was only going in to get a drink at Starbuck’s, but instead I left with so much more.
As Susan began to get Connor ready for bed, the doorbell began to ring repeatedly. Kid after kid came through our neighborhood for the annual “trick or treating.” I got tired of getting up and down to pass out candy so I decided to get out my camping chair and sit on the front porch. I was amazed at how creative some of the costumes were and frankly, disappointed in the lack of effort by others.
Due to the extreme flow of children coming through our neighborhood, I chose to give each child three pieces of candy. After all, Halloween candy is NOT cheap. After passing out candy for roughly 30 minutes, it happened. A young boy which I would guess was in 4th grade came up to me and said, “Trick or treat.” I reached into my big bowl of candy and got three pieces of candy and dropped them into his bag. Then this young boy looked into his bag and said, “That’s it?!” “I want more candy!” I immediately felt my blood pressure rise and the desire to “set this boy straight”, but I refrained. I took a second and said, “I didn’t have to spend money on candy for you tonight; but I did.” I continued, “However; I don’t like it when people are selfish and only think of themselves, so get a moving.” The young boy rolled his eyes and went to the next house. But then a very comical event occurred. I was unaware of the very large crowd of children that were waiting in line to get some candy. I began to hear them say; almost in a surround sound kind of way, “I am not selfish.” “I am thankful for the candy I get.” All I could do was sit there and smile. Due to their kind words I gave all of them some additional candy.
How often have we as children of the Most High approached Him with selfish petitions and requests? Frequently as I look back on life I come to the understanding that many times I am selfish with my requests and expectations. It is as if I am trying to turn Jehovah God into a genie that is there to fulfill my every want and desire. Instead of asking God for opportunities to be a blessing to others, I make it all about myself. I am reminded of Philippians 2:21 – “For everyone looks out for his own interest, not those of Jesus Christ.” So how can we become selfless servants for Christ?
Change our mind set. We must decide to think and focus on others and not only ourselves. When a person only cares about and focuses on himself, it prevents a person from establishing and experiencing true and genuine relationships. It also hinders an opportunity for God to act. Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Change our perspective. Understand the importance of honoring people as opposed to revering things or money over people. Know that people and good and genuine relationships are more important and more valuable than having money and material possessions. 1 Timothy 6:10 states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Change our spending habits. Begin to start giving to the poor, widows and orphans via church organizations and charities that help the poor and needy. Giving significantly is one way to combat selfishness. Jesus clearly stated in Luke 16:10-13, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” By giving to others, God is using us to accomplish His will of being good stewards to others. It also allows an opportunity for personal growth of our faith by fully relying on God.
Change our focus. Be sensitive to people’s needs around you in your environment. Discern who may be in need of your help and assistance and reach out to them in a caring manner and help them. This will help to keep the focus off of “self” alone which will help you to be a more whole and healthier person emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Jesus stated, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” When we give to others we are giving back to the Lord and bringing praise to Christ.
A few other verses to consider are Romans 15:1 which reads, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” and 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” May we all be able to refocus our lives in ways so that we will be the “light” and the “salt” of the earth which is so desperately needed. My prayer is that we can all overcome our selfish desires and be faithfully used by the King for His glory and honor!