Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Good morning, beautiful

I awoke this morning thinking about my wife. She went to bed last night not feeling well. I am hoping she is feeling better this morning. She is still asleep as I write. Trish is the love of my life, the best thing that has ever happened to me outside of Jesus. She is to me a shining example of Christ. Her devotion to him challenges me. She will be embarrassed that I have blogged about her today.

I suppose it was because of my thoughts over her as I sipped on a cup of coffee that the words to an old country music song came to my mind. "She don't know she's beautiful." As with many songs, especially of the country vein, the English isn't correct. But the statement is definitely so. My wife is beautiful in many ways to me.

As my mind continued thinking about this, I began to consider how God thinks of you and I. Throughout the bible, His thoughts toward us are expressed. I love this verse, from the Song of Solomon, chapter two and verse ten: "Arise my darling, my beautiful one..." NIV. As you know, this book is a description of a man and a woman in love, but also of Christ and the church. Yes, we are the beloved of God. He made the sunrise for you today.

No matter what you have done, His love remains. That is reassuring in this world, isn't it? Friends may forsake you. You may have experienced a bitter divorce. You may have been told that you are worthless or ugly. But, you know what? The ONE whose thoughts matter above all else thinks otherwise.

In a few minutes she will arise. I will tell her how beautiful she is. I think God wants me to tell you the same thing today.

Good morning, beautiful!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I will bless

"I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1

I love the Psalms. I love to read them, quote them, and even sing them. The book of Psalms is one of my favorites of the bible. The irony of my statement is that, although I love to preach from Psalms, I confess that I don't always practice what I preach. I miss it sometimes.

For example, sometimes I complain. I get upset over trivial things. I am bothered by someone's response, or the weather, or the guy in front of me going too slow. The drive through at McDonald's didn't get my order right. These are just examples, but they relate to things that can happen during the typical week. And, unlike some, I am high energy, high maintenance type personality. I have taken the test. My dna drives me, but without the discipline of the Holy Spirit, it can also hinder me.

The last few days have presented challenges. Some good, some difficult. I awoke this morning thinking that instead of allowing the outside circumstances to dictate how my day went, I would set myself in the word and establish God in the day. A few minutes of meditation brought this psalm to my mind. Let's look at it:

I WILL- I choose to do so. It is a personal decision. No one can do it for me. I WILL

BLESS- The Hebrew word is barak. Strong's Concordance uses a number of words to define, which include abundantly bless, to kneel before, thank

THE LORD- Think about it. God blesses us every day. Have you taken time to bless Him back?

AT ALL TIMES- Not sometime. Not when things are going well. Not just when I have money in the account. In other words, my life will be an expression of praise and blessing unto the Lord.

HIS PRAISE- Hebrew word palal. A song of praise

SHALL CONTINUALLY- Constantly, perpetually, regularly

BE IN MY MOUTH- One of the words used to define this word in the original language is to boast. The Psalmist was declaring that he would boast of the goodness of God.

I hope you enjoy the devotion this morning. Be blessed, in Jesus' name!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Disappearing blogs

Every once in a while I do it. I write something that I realize some time later I wish I hadn't posted. Just did that on my blog. It was nothing much, just observations about an appearance of a young lady. But when I thought about it, I realized the blog did not meet my objective in writing.

It was not encouraging, it was not anything relational. It was not about family or friends, Jesus, or the church. And a blog doesn't have to be. There are blogs posted that are about pretty much anything. But that is not my purpose.

So if you happen to read a blog and then it is gone, I just decided I didn't want it posted. It may have been something too personal, or something such as this one. It wasn't bad-- it just wasn't something that would benefit.

God Bless!
Pastor Ronnie

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Love expressed

Love is a beautiful thing, isn't it? I performed a wedding ceremony the other day of a young couple. As they held each other's hands and repeated their vows, it reminded me of the love I have for my wife of thirty seven years. Our love has not diminished, but has grown. Through good times, and bad times, joyful times, and sad times, it has stood.

Love is both overstated and understated in our English language. I love chocolate cake, I love sports, I love cars. I love my wife, family, grandchild. I love Jesus. As you see, though the same word is used, it applies to different things. And it goes without saying that my love for cake is not the same as my love for my family, or for God.

Love is more than a word. It is a choice, and it is an act. Love is expressed. It states something, shows something, does something. Read the thirteenth chapter of the book of Corinthians in the bible. Read it in a contemporary version. You will see how true love is expressed.

Love is expressed with a kiss. I have included a picture with this blog. It was taken yesterday from my cell phone. Although the pic is not good quality, it captured the essence of what I call, "love expressed." It was a beautiful spring like day here in North Carolina yesterday. Zach (my grandson) and I decided we would ride on the golf cart. We also decided to let Buster (Zach's lab) ride with us. As you can see, the moment Buster got on the golf cart, he decided to give Zachary a kiss. Zach is trying to brace himself and turn from Buster's slobber as I capture the view on my cell phone.

Have you expressed your love today to someone? Have you told God that you love Him and are thankful for what He has done in your life? What about that mate, child, teen? What about someone you work with or go to church with? No, you don't have to plant a kiss on them? But an encouraging word will do!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help for Haiti

Like you, my heart is torn for the people of Haiti. I don't think anyone can hear the news and view the pictures being shown without being touched with compassion. The earthquake has crippled what was already a nation in dire need. Emergency teams are arriving to respond, but the need is great. The restoration process will not be overnight.

Personally, I have had a place in my heart for the nation for about 15 years. On our first missions trip to the Dominican Republic, we worked in a very poor village near the Haitian border. Our team was providing clothes to the children, food and gifts, and holding services in that particular area, as well as working on a church. On one of the days while there, we took some time to go to the Haitian border. They allowed us to cross over into Haiti. I remember walking from the D.R. into the Haiti and praying for the people of that land.

We (our church) are not personally involved in ministry, but we have some contacts who are. Friends in ministry, missionaries with links there, and pastors whose churches are actively serving in the nation. Some of them are already in contact with their people there, some are planning on going or sending relief.

Our missionary friend, Danny Stone, who serves in the Dominican Republic, has sent information about a team there, along with all their needs. I will post it in the church (send me a request if you wish to receive it). As there are many reliable avenues to send help through, I am not sure as I write which one we will use. But this I do know. We WILL do something. Our small church family has always responded, both locally, nationally, and internationally.

This Sunday, January 15, we will receive a special offering for Haiti. ALL monies received will go directly to the emergency relief there. Thank you, and God bless you, for your response.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Can't do anything but pray

I hear this often. My wife and I sit in our office talking to someone new in the church. Some are multi-talented and it seems can do anything. Others have a low self estimation of themselves. Then the words come out. "I can't do anything but pray."

Its as if prayers are the lowest form of service in the church. They do not have an ability to teach, sing, nor lead. They are not qualified to play a guitar, keyboard, or sing on the praise team. They are not good at public speaking. All they can do is pray.

But prayer is not the lowest of the "things to do" in church. In fact, Jesus stated that his house would be called a house of prayer. Not a house of preaching, teaching, singing, or playing music. Not a house of children's ministry, youth ministry, outreach, and missions. Yes, all of these are a vital part of the makeup of the church. However, prayer is the priority. Good preaching, good music, and good programs will not make up for a lack of praying.

Leonard Ravenhill once said, "A church that is not praying is playing." I agree. It is vital that we pray. As a pastor, I want every service saturated with prayer. I want the intercessory prayer team to cover every aspect of the service and ministry.

Prayer should go beyond the walls of our church and into the world in which we live. Marriages are shattered, people are hurting throughout the world. Souls lie in darkness. Someone today needs your prayer. A marriage is saved, a life is rescued, a need is met- because you prayed!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Extravagant love

I'll admit, I have used the text a number of times in the last few years. It is one of my favorites. I am speaking of the scripture in the book of Luke, chapter seven. It speaks of a woman entering the house of Simon where the disciples were gathered with Jesus. This woman is nameless, and has a reputation. It is noted that she was a sinner. What else that is noted is what struck me as the Lord brought this text to my mind.

It seems that everyone had forgotten that our coming together is not about us, it is about him. The object of adoration should have been Jesus, and yet he was neglected. That is, until this woman with a past brought her alabaster box. She poured her love upon him.

The words echoed by Jesus are that "this woman has loved much." It was not said of Simon, nor the disciples. They had seen his miracles, and shared his message. But Jesus had become common to them. They were not in awe of his presence. This nameless woman with a past brought a vial which was valued at a year's wages. She broke it upon Christ. She anointed his head, she washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair.

Jesus said she has loved much. He didn't say it about Peter, James, nor John. He did not say it about anyone else in the house that day. But he did say it about a nameless woman with a sinful reputation.

I don't want to lose the awe of his presence, the wonders of his touch. It happens in church, it happens in ministry. Love grown cold happens in our hearts. Like the woman in the story, I want to love him deeply.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Going on a DIET!

Oh no, here we go again. I am going to say it. That four letter word. You know, the one we hear every time this year. It is on the top of the new year resolutions. it is the one that is abandoned by about the third week. I speak from experience. I have begun the diet thing the last two years at the start of the new year, but was not committed.

It is a difficult thing, isn't it? I personally know people who have no weight issues, and can eat anything they want. I also know those who are disciplined in this area. My wife and I have struggled for years. Several years ago she went through the process of joining Weight Watchers. It was a good system for her by holding her accountable and giving her charts and menus of food that was healthy. They taught her about portion sizes and the need of exercise. I never attended a class with Trish, but began with her. I lost 60 pounds in a process of about 8 months time, and she lost about 50 during that time. I never felt better in my life.

When I reached my goal, I retreated to my old choices of junk food and sweets. Within a matter of time, I had added the weight back, and then some. Now I am five years older, and I can tell it is affecting me. My stamina is not as strong as it was, and I feel it is affecting my ability to do what God has called me to do in the manner that is pleasing to him.

So I begin again. I have already started, as of this past Monday. I had intended not to say anything about it, as I don't want people looking at me should I slip. I am writing this blog, more or less, to record my goal. I may post it on Twitter, it is less personal for me. More of my "up close friends", those who are local, are on Facebook. I probably am not going to post it there. My trials and errors in the diet thing is known by those close to me, and I don't want it to be a conversation piece for them.

To help me avoid seeing my diet as a bad word, I have made an acronym for the word:

Discipline. It will not be easy. But I make a daily decision to reel in my desires for unhealthy foods

Intentional. I will intentionally monitor my weight, calories and fat intake, and exercise. Losing weight will not be automatic, I must take steps to insure that I progress towards my goal.

Exercise. I love to walk, ride the bike. I will take the time and make the time for this.

Time. This is a process. It will not happen in a day. I have set my goal of what I want to accomplish. I have broken it down in smaller segments so that I can rejoice in milestones reached along the way. I will occasionally eat something not on my diet list, I will indulge. But I purpose by the help of God and my commitment to reach my goal. It will take time.