Thursday, July 29, 2010
This morning, at prayers, JP and Jordan were cuddled up in the church commons area watching a Jesus video while Penny and I prayed. As we began, I was tucking JP in with a blanket which usually hangs over the back of my chair... actually a pretty old wool blanket from my first international mission trip way back in the day.
They seemed to be set, and I set out to go have my prayer time. About the time I began to back away from their position, JP grabbed my arm and declared, "Daddy, you sit here with us..."
I leaned in and gave him a big Daddy-hug, and softly told him that I couldn't because I had to go pray and read my Bible. At that point, JP did the coolest thing. He simply began to un-tuck himself from the blanket, grabbed his favorite bear which was along for the ride, and declared, "All-right, I'm coming with you, Daddy!" Now what do you say to that but, "OK, Buddy!"
We went into the Worship Center, where I sat at the back for easy connectivity with those praying and my kids, and JP simply leaned up against me and rested while I read the Bible and prayed. One arm holding the Scriptures, the other arm serving as blanket to my son, and a renewed idea of prayer time.
Interestingly enough, this morning's New Testament passage was one of my favorites, Romans 12. "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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." (Rom. 12:1-2, ESV)
"...good and acceptable and perfect." That's a great description of what happened this morning.
Oh, what I would have missed should I have chastised JP into staying away while I prayed and sought God! I had to shift my mindset. I had to remember that when I was a little boy, "I'm coming with you" was often my own declarative as I learned and grew toward becoming a man. I had to remember the heart of Christ's own invitation to the disciples, "Come, follow Me." Not, come and be convenient; not come be my friend; not come be all you can be; but come with me... "follow Me."
This morning JP and I had great fellowship together as he joined me in following the purposes of God.
There's a lesson in there for me... maybe for all of us!
Let us say to the One Who made us, "I'm coming with You!" It's always the right move.
May the peace of Christ sustain you along the way!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
This coming fall, I will be leading many of you here at Journey Church New Orleans to write out the where-when-how of your personal time of embracing the grace of Jesus Christ. Some call it your "story"... others call it your "testimony"... it's really just the starting point of life in Christ!
So to whet you whistle, so to speak, I thought I'd give you my own personal testimony... here goes:
In the year preceding my sixth birthday, after being raised in a Christian home by parents who played “42” with the pastor and his wife, I began aggressively seeking answers to questions about God.
From time to time, usually out of the blue, I would ask questions of my parents and my pastor, until on Labor Day of 1976, while my mother and brother were away at the store, I asked my father to help me pray to be saved. His face turned a little white, I remember his hand shaking a little as I grabbed it and asked him to help me, and after some minutes of watching him search through the family bookshelf for the salvation tract our pastor had provided for this occasion, we decided to settle on the swings in our back yard.
From that point forward, my father led me through the basics of giving my life to Jesus Christ. We talked about our sin problem and the need for forgiveness; we talked about how and why Jesus died to offer that forgiveness to us; and he told me about the fact that Jesus would then get to “be the boss” of my life from that point forward… that was the bargain.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget asking him at that point if he thought that was a good deal… salvation in return for life’s submission to Christ. He told me, as only an accountant could, that he thought it was, but that I had to decide for myself. So we counted the probable years left until I would “get to go to Heaven” and I agreed that “it was a good deal” indeed. I prayed with my father out there on the squeaky old swing set of our house in Ft. Worth, Texas on a hot Labor Day before we cooked out as a family. I confessed belief in Jesus as the only Son of God, admitted my sin to God, asked Him to forgive me, and committed my life to follow Him.
Just a few years later, the Holy Spirit called me to preach the Gospel. Just a few years after that I began being mentored by the ministers of my church and teaching adult classes upon request; and a few years later, at the age of sixteen, I preached my first sermon on a Sunday night before about three hundred folks… I was both terrified and long winded. The first has gone away, the second hasn’t changed so much!
At the age of seventeen, my home church licensed me to the ministry, and later, my second church plant ordained me. I’ve seen much of the United States in ministry and have been honored to plant five churches, tour as an evangelist and singer/songwriter, be pastor, mentor, and friend to some amazing people along the way, marry my very best friend, grow the most wonderful kids I’ve ever known, and to currently pastor a church in New Orleans, Louisiana, as it solidifies it’s footing after being planted, all but destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and replanted again.
Almost thirty-four years after the fact, I’ve found my life in Christ to be “a better deal” than I had imagined. It has cost me most everything… I expect that it will cost even more; but what would I gain should I ‘gain the whole world but forfeit my soul?’ (Mark 8:36, nasb)
This is my testimony, that I would do no different but to follow the Christ who has saved me with greater resolve and with deeper determination. What else could I reasonably bring to the service of the Almighty God?
What's your story? In the comment section, take a moment and share the when and where of your starting point with Jesus... I'd love to hear about it!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
In the realm of Napoleonic warfare, French troops were instructed that, once the battle had begun, they were to move toward the sound of the guns. Thus, Napoleon combined the flexibility demanded by endeavors which engage the human element, along with the intensive curbs of strategy toward execution.