Monday, January 31, 2011

A Unifier or A Divider, A Reconciler or A Destroyer?

I have been thinking lately about how our lives impact others, for good or bad. We can build up or tear down. We can encourage or deflate. We can bind or liberate. We can embitter or cause rejoicing. We can reconcile or destroy. We can unify or divide.

I want to keep in step with God’s Spirit living through me.  I want to be someone who is part of the solution rather than someone who is part of the problem. I want my love for God to result in more love for others. I want to be a person of grace. I want my life seasoned with grace. I want to be a forgiver! I want to be a unifier, not a divider.

Are you familiar with the history of the apartheid policies of South Africa and the unspeakable violence committed against blacks under the white regime? After Nelson Mandella’s release from prison, he asked Bishop Desmond Tutu to set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring to light the ugly truth of what had happened, and do it without exacting revenge, but rather reconciliation. Under the rules, if an oppressor faced his accusers and fully confessed his crime, he could not be prosecuted. Many protested that this was not justice, but Mandella insisted the country needed healing more than it needed justice. In one of the trials:

“A policeman named van de Broek recounted an incident when he and other officers shot an eighteen-year-old boy and burned the body, turning it on the fire like a piece of barbecue meat in order to destroy the evidence. Eight years later van de Broek returned to the same house and seized the boy’s father. The wife was forced to watch as policemen bound her husband on a woodpile, poured gasoline over his body, and ignited it.

The courtroom grew hushed as the elderly woman who had lost first her son and then her husband was given a chance to respond. ‘What do you want from Mr. Van de Broek?’ the judge asked. She said she wanted van de Broek to go to the place where they burned her husband’s body and gather up the dust so she could give him a decent burial. His head down, the policeman nodded agreement.

Then she added a further request, ‘Mr. Van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him. And I would like Mr. Van de Borek to know that he is forgiven by God, and that I forgive him, too. I would like to embrace him so he can know my forgiveness is real.

Some in the courtroom spontaneously began singing ‘Amazing Grace’ as the elderly woman made her way to the witness stand, but van de Broek did not hear the hymn. He had fainted, physically overwhelmed by grace.” (Phil Yancey 'What Good Is God?')

She literally followed the Scripture which says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).

May we walk in God's Amazing Grace with Him and each other!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Integrity of Heart and Skillful Hands!

Wow! What great services are occurring at The Vine. The testimonies are numerous and glorify what God is doing in the lives of Vine members. It is encouraging to see God moving here at the Vine. His presence and activity are evident. That is a sure sign of a healthy, living Spirit filled church! I am believing God for more of His presence and revelation of His love for us.

I am thankful we are a church that:

(1) is scripturally sound,
(2) is stable and loving,
(3) has Godly, moral leadership,
(4) is exalting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and
(5) making a reasonable effort to minister to all and their families!

I am thankful for how blessed we are to have a healthy church like that. I have ministered here for 20 years with that in my mind. The Lord called me here to shepherd His people. I have always endeavored to keep that call foremost in my mind everyday!

He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Ps 78:70-72 NIV

That scripture is my daily prayer!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Steve McVey - Grace To Shut Up!

Ps 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.NIV

I have been learning when to speak and when to keep quiet. It has been hard, but a valuable exercise and discipline! My friend and great Pastor Danny Tice tweeted this scripture today: "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his own opinion." Proverbs 18:2

Steve McVey, author of 'Grace Walk,' along with many other fine books, had this blog today and I want to share it with you. Steve will be speaking at the Liberty Fellowship Family Conference in July(2011) this year.

“I just say whatever is on my mind,” a person who was expressing an opinion in an animated way recently said to me. I didn’t respond to the comment, but couldn’t help but think about the Bible verse that says, “A fool uttereth his whole mind, but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Proverbs 29:11, KJV).

When I was young man I felt an internal mandate to not only express my opinion, but also to convince others that mine was the right way to see a matter. I’m not sure if it’s simply a matter of maturing with age or maturing in grace, or maybe a combination of the two, but I don’t feel the need to always make others agree with me anymore. To the contrary, I find myself often saying nothing at times when my thoughts may be in direct contradiction to what somebody may be expressing to me.

The Bible makes it clear that there is a virtue in learning when and how to be quiet. James wrote that we should be quick to hear, but slow to speak. (See James 4:19) Paul wrote to “let your speech be always with grace” (Colossians 4:6). Another time he taught that we should study to be quiet and mind our own business. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Highly opinionated babblers can be trying at times. I know because I used to be one. Maybe I still am at times, I’m not sure. I do know that I’m a verbal processor who tends to sort through things by talking about them. I recognize that I need grace to enable me to shut-up sometimes.

When I see opinionated, non-stop talkers like the one I mentioned in the first paragraph, I occasionally ask myself, “Do I still act like that at times?” That’s certainly not what I want.

Do you say too much, too often? If so, pray for God’s grace to flow through your actions in such a way as to cause you to know when to say nothing and then enable you to do it. Sometimes grace never looks better than when it enable us to simply shut-up.

Steve's blog on this and other relevant blogs of his can be found here.

So, I think God is speaking to me about this and I am taking these wonderful God thoughts to heart. I am asking the Lord to help me shut up and keep it shut!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sarah Palin's Amazing Response!

What a great response to the tragedy of the Arizona shootings! 
She gets it, many in elected office and media don't!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Your Significant Life!

I preached a sermon on ‘Your Significant Life.’ It followed the my theme of my last blog, We are here by design not accident and have an important role to play in the lives of others that only we can accomplish! I have had people give me additional information of personal accounts of ‘The Butterfly Effect’ in their lives!

Joni Eareckson Tada writes: "In her quiet sanctuary Diane turns her head slightly on the pillow, toward the corkboard on the wall. Her eyes scan each photo. Every torn piece of paper carefully pinned in a row. She's praying. The creeping limitations of multiple sclerosis encroach further each year. Her fingers are curled and rigid. Her voice is barely a whisper. People might look at her and say, 'What a shame. Her life has no meaning.' But Diane is convinced that her life is significant; that her labor of prayer counts. She moves mountains that block the paths of missionaries, helps open the eyes of the spiritually blind in Southeast Asia, and pushes back the kingdom of darkness that blackens the alleys of the gangs in East Los Angeles. Diane is on the front lines, advancing the Kingdom of God.

This woman sees her place in the world. It doesn't matter that others may not recognize her significance. She is a woman of major significance influencing the lives of millions!

It's my prayer that you will discover the significance that has been yours all along as a child of the King. You may not be able to know the full meaning of every event, but you can know that every event is meaningful-and that you are significant!