Monthly Archives: September 2010

Give Thanks

As I sat watching a television show I heard Susan yell from Connor’s bedroom, “KEVIN GET IN HERE QUICK!”  As I sprang up from the chair my mind quickly began to theorize different things which could have happened to Connor.  As I rounded the corner Susan put her index finger to her lips and went, SHHH!  What I witnessed was something that I often heard parents share with others of their children bringing them items from all over the house and now we were experiencing one of those moments.  In Connor’s room we have a large box filled with all the cards he has received from loved ones.  Connor had decided to open the box and one by one began to bring them to Susan.  As Connor dropped them off, Susan began to say, “Thanks!”  After a few trips, Connor began to repeat those words and would say “thanks” on his return trip to obtain more cards.  It warmed our hearts to hear him say “thanks” for the very first time.  It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Sadly, in our everyday encounters we experience less and less people who show appreciation to others.  I must admit there have been a time or two in which I have held a door open for a family entering an establishment and they did not say a word to me.  I have been known to remind them with a warm, “You’re Welcome!”

As children of God how often do we take the time to truly express thanks to God?  When was the last time you took to time to communicate with our Father and tell Him how thankful you are for all He was done and will do for us?  I believe that far too often we are like spoiled children who are constantly ASKING God for things but never take the time to THANK Him.

Scripture is full of examples of Godly men and women proclaiming thanks to the Lord.  I would like to share a few scriptures with you for your meditation and consideration.

Psalm 107:1-3 – “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.”

Psalm 130:1-5 – “A song of ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

Ephesians 2:4-10 – “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Colossians 3:15-17 – “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When we begin to slow and meditate on God’s Word, we can clearly see that we have so much to be thankful for.  The same God who spoke the world into existence; who breathed life into man; who redeemed us from our sins is still alive and working in the lives of His children today.  May we all take the time to go to our Father in prayer and pour out our hearts unto Him for all that He has done.  As the song “Thank You Lord” states, “For all that You have done I will thank You.  For all that You are going to do.  For all that You have promised and all that You are; is all that has carried me through, Jesus I thank you!”

As parents may our children be witness to our prayers and may we instill in them the desire to be thankful and to express it to others.

God bless!

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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Armchair Quarterbacks

“What was he thinking?”  “Why in the world doesn’t that coach pull that guy?”  “Why do they keep running the ball instead of passing it?”  “Those players are terrible, they have no idea what they are doing!”  “Cut Roy Williams and Alex Barron!”  Sadly, I have said all of these statements about the beloved Dallas Cowboys at one time or another.  My wife constantly laughs and says to me, “I know honey; you would do a much better job of calling the plays because you have put in years of playing Madden NFL on the PS3!”  (Susan is right by the way…)

Susan recently was asked to be the keynote speaker at a ladies function at church.  For several weeks, I watched her work extremely hard on her two sermons.  It was a very surreal experience for both of us.  In fact it was a complete role reversal.  I am normally the one who would come home and run my sermon by her but instead she was the one running her sermon by me.  Even though I didn’t hear her present her lessons at the ladies function, I heard glowing remarks and I could not have been more proud of her.  When the experience was over, I recall Susan sharing how much more respect she has for preachers because “preaching is harder than it looks.”

I began to think about all the times in my life that I sat “on the sidelines” and was critical of others because after all that is the easy thing to do.  Personally, I do get tired of being around people who constantly complain.  They complain about the not having any rain and then when God blesses us with rain they complain because it interferes with their personal plans.  People complain about the coaching/playing of their sports teams and often are never privied to what is happening in the locker room or personal lives of those players.  Even more importantly, I am saddened by the number of Christians who say negative things about leadership:  elders, deacons, ministry leaders, preachers, etc.  I often wonder if all the “armchair quarterbacks” were put into the positions of the “players” would they have more respect for the hard work and effort of others?

In the book of Hebrews chapter 13 we four principles about how to treat those in leadership positions.

(vs. 7) REMEMBER your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”  As Christians we are told to remember those who influenced our spiritual relationship with Christ and have now gone home to be with the Lord.  We need to reflect on how their lives deeply impacted our faith and we need to display faithful living to all of those around us.

(vs 17) OBEY your leaders and submit to their authority.  They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.  Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden for that would be of no advantage to you.”  Here the Hebrew writer is specifically discussing the role of elders.  Elders have the oversight of the congregation. Christians are to obey them and submit to them. Elders are to look after the spiritual life of the Christian as a shepherd looks after his sheep. If Christians obey and submit to the elders, their work shall be a joy. If not, the elders’ work will be grief. Elders desire that Christians live faithful lives. They must do all they can to assist and guide Christians because elders will give account of their work before God.

(vs. 18)  PRAY for us.  We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.”  The word of God teaches that we need to continually pray for one another because it is good and effective.

(vs. 24)  GREET all you leaders and all God’s people…”  Here the Hebrew writer concludes the epistle by sending greetings to the leaders and elders and all the Christians.

What would happen in the church and in the hearts of every believer if we began to meditate and put into practice these four principles?  Do you believe that there would be more peace and joy within your life and within the lives of those in leadership? Personally speaking…those of us, who have dedicated our lives to serving the flock, do it wholeheartedly.  We are striving to put our spiritual gifts into practice to glorify God and to serve others.  Far too often, leadership hears nothing but criticism by the flock because the flock feels they have all the right answers.  Is this the attitude that God longs for His children to display in their lives?  Is this the type attitude that Jesus displayed?  We all need to be more uplifting and encouraging to others but more importantly we need to stop serving as armchair quarterbacks and put ourselves in the game by actively serving our Lord Most High.

A few years ago I remember Kyle Bolton sharing a statement that I have written in the bottom of my Bible.  “When a servant of God is in the will of God; teaching the Word of God; the people should submit.”

May God bless us as we strive to become more like Jesus.

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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Down From the Mountain

Several years ago I was given the opportunity to travel with some friends to Green River, WY.  I had never been that far north and longed to see that part of the United States.  I recall the scenery being unlike anything that I had seen before.  The rolling hills, the various types of shrubs and bushes were magnificent as I stood in awe of God’s wisdom and power.

One day we decided to make a couple of hour drive over to the Grand Teton National Forest in Jackson Hole.  I must admit that I had never hear of the Grand Tetons and was excited to see them for the very first time.  As we arrived the snow began to fall.  In a matter of minutes if went from a light, gentle snow to a heavy snowfall which instantly limited our view to only a few yards in front of us.  Ultimately, we were only able to see the base of the Teton Mountains.  Therefore we did the only thing we could do, we went into a local store and bought some postcards.

What is it about mountains that draw us to them?  Why do many have a deep sense of longing to travel great distances to see a large pile of rocks which seem to ascend high into the heavens?  We all have our different answers, but to me, I always feel closer to God when I am on (or even very near) the mountains.

Throughout history, mountains have stood as a symbol for unity or covenant with God’s people.  Think back to Abraham’s act of obedience through his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen. 22).  Remember the giving of the law on top of Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19-20) Elijah took on the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18).  Jesus was on a mountain when he delivered the “sermon on the mount” (Matthew 5-7).  Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives to pray to God (John 17) and then is taken to a mountain which ultimately led to His death on Mount Calvary (Matt 27).

There have been so many great things which have occurred on top of the mountain.  But of all the mountaintop experiences, the one which really speaks to me we find in the beginning of Mark 9.  Here we find where Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him up on the mountain and Jesus is transformed.  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could clean them and there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

What would you have done?  How would you have reacted to this special event that Jesus wanted to share with you?  I often wonder how I would have reacted if I would have been there.  More than likely I would have remained silent due to the fear of saying the wrong thing.  But one thing is clear, this event was one of epic proportions that solidified in the hearts and minds of those men who Jesus claimed to be.

Often we mentally end this incredible account with Peter, James, John, and Jesus coming back down the mountain to rejoin the other disciples.  But we must not stop there…we must read on to (in my opinion) gain a very valuable life lesson.  As we continue reading in verses 14ff we learn that the other disciples are having a very difficult time healing a boy with an evil spirit.  We read in verse 16 where the crowd, disciples, and the teachers of the law are arguing as to why this boy wasn’t healed.

As I read this passage, all I can do is stop and scratch my head.  I strive to put myself into the sandals of Peter, James, John, and even Jesus to try to understand who they must have felt.  These four men had just come from the top of the mountain; where the glory of the Lord was revealed to them and as soon as they get back into the “real world” they find themselves amidst quarreling, possibly shouting, anger, confusion, disrespect and a whole list of other possibilities.  How sad is this scene?  How sad for these four men…

The more we meditate of this scene; I believe the more and more real it becomes for our own spiritual walk with the Lord.  How many times have we found ourselves in a mountain peak experience whether it is in a worship service; witnessing a new birth into Christ; a brother or sister who have repented and returned to the Lord; attending a retreat or spiritual seminar, etc. only to return to “normal life” filled with sin, anger, hatred, jealousy, or wrath?  If you have ever found yourself in this arena, you know how much it hurts.  So what do we do?

I would suggest we can learn three things about this experience.

  1. We must strive to understand the purpose of our mountaintop experiences.

Mark tells us that Jesus “led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves.” The text does not tell us which mountain, some commentators have believed it to be Mt Tabor (not likely since there was a Roman fortress there at the time) – but it is more likely that it was Mt. Hermon which is the highest mountain in the whole region (9,400’).

But it was a place that was isolated, where they could be alone with God. In order to have intimate fellowship with God it is often necessary to seek seclusion from the world and its influences. The reason that we don’t experience mountaintop experiences more is because we are too caught up with what is going on in our lives in the here and no, and do not schedule time to be alone with God.

2.   We must strive to understand the privileges of our mountaintop experiences.

Luke tells us that the disciples are weary after the climb up the mount and evidently as Jesus prayed they fell asleep (Lk. 9:32). When they awoke it was to a very spectacular and surreal scene before their eyes.  These apostles have the privilege to witness (a) Jesus’ transfiguration (b) The prophets Elijah and Moses (c) a cloud overshadows them.  (This is the Shekinah glory of God – which was the visible symbol of the power and presence of God.) (d)  a voice spoke to them.  (As the cloud settled on top of the mountain, out of cloud booms the very voice of God saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!)

As Christians we today get to share in the same experience…not in a miraculous way but in a very practical way.  We too get to share in Jesus’ glory.  We get to be in the lives of the prophets like Elijah and Moses by reading, meditating, and studying their teachings.  We also get to hear the very voice of God through His Word and we can know that God is constantly overshadowing us with His love, mercy and goodness.

3.   We must strive to maintain the proper perspective of our mountaintop experiences.

Matthew in his account says that “When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. (7) But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”(Matt 17:6-7) Initially the disciples were overwhelmed, stunned and frightened. This was an experience that they were never to forget!! Peter tells that they “… were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16) Luke says that “… the appearance of his face was altered, and his robe became white and glistening.” (Luke 9:29) Matthew said that “…his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:2)

Then in verse eight we read, “Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.” Before they realized it the cloud passed away, when the visitors were gone and the voice from Heaven was no longer heard, only Jesus remained. God allows us to have mountaintop experiences so we will get our eyes on Jesus.

There was joy on the mountaintop but there was need down in the valley. We cannot live on the mountaintop, we must climb the mountain and experience intimate fellowship with God, and then we must take what we have gained on the mountaintop back down into the valley.

We must witness the glory of God on the mountaintop so that we can minister to the misery of man in the valley. At the bottom of the mountain there is always a suffering needy world that needs the ministry of those who have been on a mountaintop with God. We must meet God both in the secret place and in the public place of worship so that we can meet the sinful and needy people in the market place.

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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Every conversation seems to have the same flow.  “How is my grandson?”  “What new things is he doing?”  “Is he saying any new words?”  “Make sure you let me know when something new happens.”  My reply is almost always the same except with a possible slight variation, “I will.”  “No problem.”  “Don’t worry, I’ll let you know.”

When I got married, everyone still called me by my name.  However when my son arrived, I quickly lost my formal name and became known as, “Connor’s Dad.”  Ever since that very moment; friends and family have wanted me to keep them informed of every special moment and event that revolves around my son.

The problem I have is not remembering the special moment in my son’s life.  The problem is being able to put everything into words.  It is often difficult to put certain feelings and experiences into words; words which will truly convey everything that I want to share with those I love and care about.  Have you ever felt this way?  Have you ever had a hard time sharing feelings and experiences with someone else?  Have you ever been an intercessor?

A beautiful word which isn’t commonly used in our everyday language is the word intercession. This word means: a pleading on behalf of another person; a prayer to god on behalf of another.

One of the benefits of being a child of God is when we obey His gospel we have intercessions occurring for us. We read in Romans 8:26-27 where the Spirit intercedes to God on behalf of the believer. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

There has been much debate over the centuries in regards to where the Spirit is interceding for us; in the heart of the Christian or from heaven. Personally, I don’t believe we need to bicker over this issue but instead we should rejoice knowing that it is constantly occurring for the child of God.

As we continue to read in Paul’s letter, we see where the Son of God also intercedes for us. “…Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

The same Savior who died for us is now interceding for us in heaven. As our High Priest, He can give us the grace we need to overcome temptation and defeat the enemy (Heb. 4:14–16). As our Advocate, He can forgive our sins and restore our fellowship with God (1 John 1:9–2:2).

What good news for the children of God. To come to the understanding that both the Spirit and Jesus Christ represent us before the throne of God and we do not have to represent ourselves.

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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Bearing Good Fruit

Good soil? Check.  Good location for plenty of sunlight?  Check.  Healthy tomato plants?  Check.  Planted the proper distance from each other and the proper depth?  Check.

My wife and I love fresh salsa so this year I made space in my front flowerbed to plant a few tomato plants.  Some may think it is weird to have produce growing in the place of flowers and shrubs but personally I don’t care.  Having a garden to grow fresh produce each year was a big part of my upbringing.

A few months went by and I had some of the most beautiful tomato plants that I can ever recall.  The plants were tall with deep dark green leaves.  They were full of little yellow blooms.  I began to eagerly await the fruit they would yield so I can make them into some nice salsa.

Over the next week or two I began to notice that I had a problem.  I had a great plant with plenty of blooms but it was not producing fruit!  What was the problem?  Didn’t this plant know that I had given it everything that it needed to succeed in order to grant my family a bountiful harvest?  The more time passed, the more upset I got.  “That is it!  I’ve had it!”  “I am so sick and tired on going out each day to water and fertilize these plants only for them not to produce a single tomato.”  “I have spent too much money and way too much time trying to keep them alive in this blistering heat!”  “Therefore I am left with no other option.”  “I am going to pull them up by the root and toss them away.”

John 15:1-8 states, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

In this passage we learn of four different types of branches

Throw-away branch (vs. 2, 6)   Gardeners would go and remove the dead and unfruitful branches. The branches would get piled up and tossed into the fire.  These branches represent people who were at one point faithful Christians; however, something happened to them. They stopped producing fruits of faith in their lives.

Why does this happen to people who at one time were Christians? The answer is verse 6: “If anyone does not remain in me…” Jesus tells us that anyone who does not continue to have contact with him, stops bearing fruit and becomes a throw-away branch.

Pruned branch (vs. 2) God cuts into your life, and removes some things that you might not want removed. He takes things away from you, he changes things around for you, and sometimes, it seems so drastic, so extreme, so unnecessary. Often when we are being pruned; we ask him, “Why are you doing this to me, God?”

As faithful children of God we must always remember that when God cuts into your life; it is for your own good. He wants you to reach your full potential as a Christian. He wants you to produce as many fruits of faith as possible. Perhaps some of you are going through the pruning process right now. All of us experience this in our lives. While it happens, we trust that God is in control, because the gardener does know what he is doing.


Fruitful branch (vs. 8 ) The fruitful Christian is one whose life is filled with good works. These good works first of all include obedience to God – doing what God wants, even when the rest of the world is doing something different. Good works include the way you treat other people – the people at home – your family, the people at work, our friends, even total strangers. When you’re around these people, and you ask yourself, how can I serve them? How can I show the love of God to this person? How can I witness Jesus Christ to someone else? “This is to my Father’s glory,” Jesus says, “that you bear much fruit.”

Connected branch (vs. 4, 5) A person who has regular contact with Jesus Christ will produce much fruit in his life. When you remain in Him, he promises you that you will bear much fruit.

In retrospect, I sure do miss having some fresh home grown tomatoes for my salsa.  But the reminder of an open area in my front flowerbed is a great visual that I need to be producing fruit for God. May the Lord use each of us to His glory to help yield the harvest for the Kingdom!

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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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A Little Pruning

It is hard for me to believe that my son, Connor is now one.  It seems as if it were only yesterday that Susan and I were bringing him home from the hospital.  For the past several weeks I noticed that Connor needed a haircut.  Who better than his uncle Matt to give him his first trim?  So while on a family visit to Oklahoma, we headed to Take Five Salon.  In an attempt to ease an apprehension that Connor may have, Susan and I also decided to get our hair cut that day.  Well as you can tell from the photo on the left, Connor was not to happy with his first haircut experience.  In fact, he would probably want you to know that it was traumatic for him.  It broke our hearts to see the tears roll down his face but yet we knew this was something necessary and a part of life.  To this day we are not sure if it was the scissors or the fact that we were holding him still in the chair that he disliked me most.

There are times in our lives in which we experience some discomfort or even some all out pain.  But why is that the case?  We have a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants the best for us.  We serve a sovereign God who is ultimately in control of everything (Isaiah 45:5-7) so why does He allow His children to experience pain?  Since the beginning of time, mankind has responded one of two ways to pain:  It has made us bitter or better.  So I ask the question, “Why does God allow us to go through difficult times?”  I would like to share three reasons.

  • To Accomplish His Intentions – As we reflect of the life of Joseph we can see where his life was full of twists and turns; from being tossed into the bowels of the pit; to being exalted to second in command of all Egypt.  It is a story which is shared with children in Bible classes all across our country to instill faith in God during difficult times.  After being reunited with his brothers, Joseph declares (with conviction) that everything he endured in his life was to fulfill the word of God. “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5 )  “So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:8)


  • To Develop Our Character – Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
  • To Discipline His Children – The Hebrews writer declares in Hebrews 12:6; 10-11 – For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

The next time you find yourself in the midst of a storm, realize that the pain is temporary and that God has some great things in store for you.  The hardships we face will either make us bitter or better; it is all up to us.

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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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What Are You Doing Here?

As I sat in my front pew listening to the announcements, little did I know that I was about to experience something unlike I had ever experienced before.  “There will be a Men’s Movie night this Friday beginning at 7pm.”  “I would like to welcome all the visitors and ask them to fill out a white card so we can have a record of your attendance.”  “We had a baptism this past week and would like to welcome our new brother in Christ.”  “On a negative note, one of our sisters passed away at 8am this morning.”  I can still recall the gasps which rang in harmony as we learned that one of our dear sisters in Christ went home to be with the Lord after battling cancer.  You may be reading this and saying, “What is so unique about that?”  “People die all the time!”  The thing that amazed nearly everyone in attendance that morning was her husband was sitting in the pew ready to worship.  Didn’t he realize that his wife of 43 years had just passed two hours prior?  Didn’t someone tell him that he was supposed to be with his family during this time?  If there was ever a time to miss a worship service it was then.

As I made my way into the pulpit to begin leading the congregation in song, I couldn’t help but think of King David.  In 2 Samuel 12:15-23 we read where David’s son is very ill.  David fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground.  The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground but he refused and he would not eat any food.  On the seventh day the child died and his servants were afraid to share the news with David.  He noticed his servants were whispering and realized that his child was dead.  Then David got up from the ground, washed himself and went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.  This confused his servants so they inquired as to why David was reacting in this manner.  His response: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept.  I thought, ‘Who knows?  The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.  But now that he is dead, why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (vs. 22-23)

On that Sunday, I saw a real life David standing before me, and as a church we unified together in the presence of the Lord and worshipped (for many of us) on a deeper level than we had before.  I am in awe of this brother for his demonstration of faith and for aiding me in further development of mine.

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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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