Monday, March 30, 2015

I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I WAS AND I DIDN'T CARE!



We have been traveling across this great nation of ours for 8 days now. We are not making a mad dash across the county this time as we have always done before. Just a few more days and we will be to our goal, home with our family.

Yesterday was an especially long day of driving and driving an almost 40 foot long motor home and towing a car behind it, making it closer to 60 foot takes lots of concentration. Yesterday we drove through several areas of "road construction" (very narrow lanes to negotiate) and I was very tired. 

We were in Missouri (stretching our driving day to try and stay ahead of some storm fronts) and had planned on stopping at a RV park at a particular exit, but when we got there the RV park was not, apparently it had closed. I kept driving for another 30 miles or so down the highway and I was getting tired. We finally spotted a small RV park off the side of the road, made a quick exit and stopped.

Once we got set up and settled the stress of the day started to set in and I was really tired. We made a couple of calls to family and we were asked the inevitable question, "Where are you guys?" My reply was, "I don’t know and don't really care, I'm just glad to be off of the road for the night". I still don't know because I haven't cared enough to check it out. I do know we are somewhere East of Springfield, MO, but that's it. I'll get out the road maps and check it out later this morning to find out more accurately because I do have a destination in mind, a goal of where to be tomorrow night. I want to be on the right highway going in the right direction.

Of course as I thought about my response, I thought about how this is like the response of so many people regarding their relationship to God. Someone might ask, "Are you a Christian?" or "Are you right with God?" to which the response often is, "I hope so," or "I think so". So basically like me they are saying, "I don't really know and I don't care enough to check it out and see where I am".  

God has given us a "road map for life," His book, the bible. You may not know where you are in your relationship to Him and may not really care, but I can guarantee that someday you will care. Jesus had these words to share on the subject in Matthew 7:13-14.  "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." (NLT)

I don't know about you, but I check the road map for life often daily. Why, because I want to be on God's road going his way. How about you?




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ROUGHING IT SMOOTHLY



Last week I had a change in my "life situation," of which most of you are probably not aware. After 44 years in ministry I have "semi" retired. My wife and I are "roughing it", by camping our way across this great country of ours. But we are "roughing it" rather smoothly as we are currently traveling back to Ohio in our motor home. I set here at my computer, in my comfortable living room chair and am writing this from Holbrook, AZ. We are "roughing it" with about 450 square feet of living space, a queen size bed, microwave oven, full refrigerator, satellite television and with a furnace and air conditioning.  So as the title says, we are "roughing it," but rather smoothly.

We plan on living full time in our motor home when we get back to Ohio, so that is a change also. We have had some questions as to our sanity in making this choice, such as, "How can we give up living in a conventional house?" But as you can see, we have a house, it just has wheels. Where that house is and what it consists of is really secondary as we consider what is really important in life.

I know that some folks don't like change. I've met some folks that fight "tooth and nail" to keep things from changing in their lives. But life is about changes isn't it? You can fight against it, try to prevent change in your life, but from the minute we are born we begin to experience change and changes continue even after our life on earth ends. What needs to be our focus in life is not preventing change, but preparing for the ultimate change. 

In 1Corinthians 15:50-57 the Apostle Paul tells us about the ultimate change when he writes: "I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (NIV)


Change is inevitable, you can't stop it, so it really is best to prepare for it the best that you can. You can make it though life (and death), roughly, or smoothly, the choice is up to you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bark Less – Wag More

 


For those of you who are dog lovers like us in our household, you understand the meaning of the title above. We have a little 13 year old dog (Chewy), that understands what that is about. I honestly don't think she has ever met any person she doesn't like. She gets so excited when anyone comes to the house that not just her tail wags, but her whole backend wags. She can bark, but rarely does and never at people, cats and squirrels however, are a different matter, at those she will bark most excitedly.

I wish I could have a personality more like hers, to bark less and wag more. But, I also understand that sometime you have to identify the evil and speak out against it (or them), to bark a little, or a lot.

Our example in all things, Jesus Christ did that. He was loving and compassionate to most, but when evil raised its head, he didn't hesitate to speak out and call it, (or them), what it was; evil, sin, rebellion against God's clearly stated commandants. He even took violent action at one time against those who ignored the righteous instructions of God and brought sinful activities right into the temple, where worship was suppose to take place.

Bark less; wag more, what a difficult thing to do sometimes, yet that is part of the concept of having the mind of Christ in us. Christ gave up his own right to demand people bow down and worship him and gave mankind the option to refuse and reject him. If we had been in his place we probably would have been barking more and wagging less, but he didn't. If we had been in his place, we might have called down fire and brimstone upon most of the known world who rejected him, but he didn't. If we had been in his place, most likely we would have rejected even ourselves and those like us, who try to serve God, but still have secret sin and rebellion in our lives.

Jesus had one purpose in his life, Luke 19:10 tells us: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."  That was his purpose and he did that with more wag and less bark.

Why didn't he bark more, or just destroy the sinful world that rejected him? 2 Peter 3:9 explains it to us: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Maybe we should think a little more about God's desire for the world and the purpose he has for us, which is to carry his message of love to the whole world. A little more wagging and a little less barking may be what is needed.

Russ Lawson


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Adventure

I have had a small note, (which I read often), stuck to the front of my computer for a good while. It is a quote from Helen Keller that says, "Life is an adventure, or it is nothing". One definition of the word "adventure" is: "an undertaking involving unknown risks," another is: "and exciting or remarkable experience," and if Helen Keller didn't understand what that meant, no one could. Both blind and deaf, she overcame this challenge and with the help of others, turned her life into "a remarkable experience," which has been an inspiration to so many in our world.

My wife and I often talk about "the adventure" our life has been. Granted our life decisions are not for everyone, what we choose to do would not fit your life. However, having said that, it doesn't mean that your life has not been or cannot be an adventure also. We may be different physically and emotionally, but we each have the God given Spirit of Life and as long as there is breath and life in us, our own personal adventure continues.

God's Word is filled with the records of people who have chosen to live a life of adventure, undertaking the unknown risks, having (sometimes) remarkable experiences. Isn't that what draws us to God, isn't that what causes us to read with excitement the stories recorded in his word. How many of you remember the stories first taught to you by your Bible School teachers of Adam and Eve, of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Esau or of Noah and his family in the Ark? What about the early disciples of Jesus as they left their homes and followed him, then they spread out through the whole world sharing his message.

But, that is not the role he has given to most of us and it may seem like your life lacks adventure. To some God has given the role of husband or wife, or teacher or factory worker, or Elder or Deacon, or encourager or contributor. Your life may not seem particularly exciting or adventurous, but our greatest adventure is the one in which we all share, we who follow Jesus. It is the adventure that comes when this life is over, the great transition of our physical death or our eternal life with our God in Heaven.

For the time being, "The Adventure Continues," our life never lacks purpose (or being a remarkable experience), if we just focus on being the best wherever God places us. The apostle Paul writes these words to encourage some who may have felt cheated because they couldn't do what others could. "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work". (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) I pray that you will see the adventure in your life and find fulfillment in it, whatever it may be!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Singing to the Creation

Have you ever thought about how large a roll singing plays in the world? We sing when we mourn, and we sing when we worship but most of all we sing when we are happy. God intended it to be that way and shows us by example how to rejoice and share our happiness.

Can you imagine the first morning Adam awoke in the Garden of Eden and heard the birds singing? Can you imagine God walking through the garden and humming to himself as he enjoys his creation? I must admit that it is somewhat of a stretch of even my active imagination, but do you think HE just might have?

God tells us through Isaiah 49:13: "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord has comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted."

Our son Kirk shared this little incident that happened with our granddaughter Allison last week: "So I have picked up my 7 year old daughter Allison and we are driving home. She is singing happily to herself when she suddenly decides to talk about her future employment and career options. She says to me, "I do like singing. But I also really like science! I guess I could sing to the creatures I create." Apparently I am the proud father of a budding mad scientist! "

If the mind of a child can imagine that, why not the mind of God? There is a scripture we primarily read at Christmas time, but I want you to think of it in a different way. What's the scripture? Luke 2:1-14: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

I believe God was happy and rejoicing as the heavenly host sang to His creation sharing his Joy. That's why the angels sang. 

So how often do you sing, maybe not to "your creation," but sing because you rejoice or are just happy? James counsels us: "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise." (James 5:13) Maybe a better question might be, are you happy in your life or with your relationship to your creator? If you are, then sing, it's what God intended.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sometimes you get a pit

Have you ever been enjoying a nice piece of cherry pie and suddenly come across a cherry pit (seed)? I have, on several occasions in my life. Pits are unexpected and sometimes painful; at the very least they are a nuisance.

Life sometimes is that way also isn't it? That’s why we have the saying in America, "Isn’t that just the pits?" You know what I am talking about I’m sure. You are expecting a good day and along comes a pit. Your life is fairly untroubled and an illness or accident pops up. You are doing well at work and then you get the word your job is ending. Your church life is going pretty well, and the preacher announces that he is retiring. "Isn't that just the pits?"

I wish that we could find a way to make our lives always fun, always joyful, always feeling good, but that just isn't the way life is, is it? Often it seems we have the wrong idea that our relationship with Christ is suppose to make bad things stop. That idea is strengthened by what we do, say and sing to one another. I have always enjoyed singing the song Blue Skies and Rainbows.

In case you don't know the words here they are: (1) "Blue skies and rainbows and sunbeams from heaven. Are what I can see when My Lord is living in me. (2) Green grass and flowers, all blooming in springtime, is works of the Master I live for each day. (3) Tall mountains, green valleys, the beauty that surrounds me. All make me aware of the One Who made it all. Chorus: Jesus is well and alive today; He makes His home in my heart. Never more will I be all alone since He promised me that we never would part."

That song proclaims how wonderful our life will be if we only have Jesus in it and it is 100% right if you are just talking about spiritual things. However the physical side of life keeps intervening with that perfect life doesn't it? How is it that the apostle Paul could write, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" referring to all of his physical challenges? (Philippians 4:11) In verse 13 he writes, "I can do all this through him (Christ) who gives me strength."

Paul accepted the fact that bad things sometimes happen in our lives, but he wasn't living his life according to what happened to him physically. His hope and his ability to cope, was based upon what was going to happen after he left this physical world.

Yes, sometimes you get "a pit" in life when you were expecting to enjoy the cherry. Some folks give up or even get mad at God because bad things happen. They seem to say, "When I became a Christian I was only suppose to receive good things!" They will, but of course God has promised good things in the spirit and that is what they really struggle with.


So, can we still sing "Blue skies and rainbows are what I see when my lord is living in me"? Yes, of course we can if we understand what the promise is really about. Our promise is of a time to come when there will be no more tears, no more death, no more suffering (Revelation 21:4). That's what Christians really live for, so if you are not, why not start now? Your "pit" is coming, how are you going to deal with it?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

It's all about the weather!

It seems that at almost any time of the year, the first topic of conversation is the weather. In fact if any conversation every lags, just ask about the weather to get it going again. Is it going to rain, it is going to snow, how much snow is there going to be, is there going to be fog or ice? Sometimes an optimistic person will ask, "Is it going to be sunny today?," which leads to the question of how hot it might get.

I saw an interesting sign the other day that really got my interest. It said, "TODAY'S FORCAST: GOD REIGNS AND THE SON SHINES". I mean, think of the truth of that statement. Our weather is so unpredictable, so changeable, it can change in a matter of minutes, but God is the one constant in our universe.

I love what James has to say about God in regard to this in James 1:17. He tells us, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows ". (NIV)

Our lives are full of shadows aren’t they? Loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, economies which crumble, prices which climb, our ability to pay for daily necessities, age sneaking up on us, abuses, betrayals, health issues, and the list could go on an on. Shadows come and shadows go, but God is constant, "he never changes or casts a shifting shadow".

As you are dealing with the latest crisis in your life, your shadow, wouldn't it be nice to feel safe for a change, wouldn't it be nice to be able to deal with the shadows? Could it just be time to look at your relationship with God and start to put a light in your life?


I read a funny little saying the other day that said, "If they don't want you to snack at night, why did they put a light in the refrigerator?" In the same way, if God didn't want to light your life, why did the creator of all light make it known to us that he is the light? Maybe it's time you reconnect to "the Father of light" in your world. He never promised to take away the shadows, but he will give us light to deal with them as they come and go from our life. Why? Because, GOD REIGNS AND THE SON SHINES.