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Wit and Wisdom of Gateway Church Athens GA

As we begin our new church life … so too a new blog!

Category Archives: Faith

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

19  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I am on a business trip at the home office.  The meeting is all day Thursday and part day on Friday.  Last night we had a meeting at a local restaurant that I’ve eaten at numerous times in the last 15 years.  It’s in a really nice section of town.  We were finishing up dinner when one of my coworkers received a phone call.  “Hey it’s you” he said and gave me the phone.  I picked up the phone and listened but there was nothing there.  They asked me why my phone would be calling him.  I told them android phones do that at times, just ask my wife!

We get ready to leave and I saw it.  Someone had taken a bat and broken my passenger side window and stole my phone.  It was like my phone was calling the guy across the table and asking for someone to save it.  Of course, no one did!

I asked the Lord for help.  A plan came to mind and I pursued it including getting a replacement phone.  I borrowed my bosses phone and called Julia first thing.  We had what I would call a vigorous discussion about my leaving the phone in the car.  She has warned me repeatedly about it.  I wasn’t worried about it though.  I knew right where it was.  It was right by my ipod.  Oh by the way, did I mention that I can’t find my ipod either?  She was right and I was wrong.  That’s not the issue here.  The issue is she is my God given partner in life.   By divine right She has a say in my life.  The Lord speaks to her just as surely as He does me.  He just speaks to her differently than me. 

As I worked through the evening issues with insurance, and car window repairs many thoughts came to mind.  Forgiveness was one.  So I asked the Lord to forgive the little tattooed, skin headed weasel that stole my stuff.  Before I said amen, I asked the Lord for painful boils, razor burn on his head and infected tattoo’s and other physical afflictions as well.  I wanted to make sure I did the “Christian” thing and forgave the little thief!

As I am prone to do, I asked the Lord what was the lesson here?  What is there for me to learn through this?  There are a number of obvious lessons.

First of all, stuff doesn’t matter.  I am a stuff’s kinda guy.  I have a lot of stuff, although not as much as I had when I left home yesterday.  The scriptures tell us not to put our trust in rust (my version).

The second lesson is forgiveness.  Clearly I understand that (see my above prayer for forgiveness).

The next question was a bit more complicated.  “Where was the protection we prayed about before I left home?”  I truly wasn’t upset, but I thought it was a legitimate question.  Well the Lord protected me by not allowing me to go outside and catch him.  I would have gone after him.  I know I would have.  Then the Lord spoke to my heart about being 60, being overweight with a bad shoulder and arm and attacking a 25 year old thief that just used a baseball bat to break into my car.  I got the picture!  (Thanks Lord.)

Part of that question was why didn’t you warn me?  Well the answer is simple.  He did warn me.  Many times through Julia he warned me.  I chose to ignore it.  I will not ignore her again!

Through God’s mercy and grace I’m simply out a phone and an ipod that my insurance will most likely cover.  But I am also a much wiser man.

Lord: Thank you so much for your grace and mercy.

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General David

I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know I was thinking about you. Your lovely wife gave me your address and I have been trying to find time to write. It’s now 06:15 and I thought I would simply take the time. I’m sure you’re relaxing and catching up on some shut eye since it’s so early.

Things are going well here in Dawg country unless of course you are a Braves fan. Seems there aren’t that many around here lately. Any way things at church are getting interesting. I’ve been blogging on the book “The Goodness of God” by Randy Alcorn. Every since Tom asked us to reconsider our mission statement of “Helping people experience God” I’ve been doing that exact thing. It’s funny, but you pop into my mind during this entire exercise, especially recently. Let me tell you why.

I have been reading a book by a pastor in Oklahoma, Craig Groeschel. “Chazown”. It’s the Hebrew word for vision. This book challenges the individual believer to take risks for God. He poses a series of questions that I put on a business card (one enclosed for you). Here are the questions:

Chazown (pronounced khaw-ZONE)

Passion: What do you absolutely love to do?

Impact: What do you do that has significant impact on others?

Secret Belief: What do you secretly believe you can do but never tried?

What gifts do you have that you have never put to use?

Here is where you come in. You took a big risk for God. While I am sure you’ve asked yourself “What was I thinking” more than once in the last few weeks, still, you searched out God and you took the steps. What an inspiration that is for me personally. What I admire about is that you had the guts to do it and trust God to take care of your family. You and I haven’t spoken much in recent months. That’s my loss and I am sorry I haven’t taken the time to be more available. But I wanted you to know what I believe the Lord want’s me to say to you.

I want you to read Luke 4:1-30. This is where Jesus announces who He is and what His mission is. Then he proceeds to talk to everyone about 2 incidents in the old testament. The widow at Zarepath (1st Kings 17) and Naaman the Syrian (2nd Kings 5). When the congregation heard what He said, they exploded with rage and wanted to kill him. They were going to pitch Him off the cliff but Luke tells us he simply walked away. While there are months of sermons in here just a couple of points for you to consider.

Read the stories Jesus referred to in the passage. They are remarkable. The widow woman was in the midst of a three year drought. You can bet water and meal were at premiums and very scarce. She had no resources to draw upon and things are so bad, she is getting ready to make a biscuit or two and then die. Along comes Elijah and asks her for the first biscuit and drink. She says ok and does it. She risked EVERYTHING she had for God and God came through for her in a big way, the meal and oil miraculously never ran dry. Then after that experience was over, her son dies mysteriously. Elijah again calls on God and He comes through with another miracle.

Naaman on the other hand was very wealthy and yet had a disease no one could help him with. He took a risk and did the simple thing God asked him to do and washed in the river Jordan and he was healed.

You’ve stepped out in faith and God will honor that big time. Tom spoke last Sunday of Oral Roberts and his faith. Bob Tuttle described Oral as a man who would lower his head and run at a brick wall expecting God to move it before he hit it. You know what? God always did.

The actions you’ve taken are tough. You’ve had the faith to do what you believe God has called you to do. He will honor that for you David in many ways. There will be many times when you will ask yourself “What was I thinking?” Yet don’t’ despair and don’t give up. NEVER NEVER NEVER give up (Sir Winston Churchill). Remember, Jesus had things to do for God as you do. When they were going to kill him He simply walked away. He hadn’t fulfilled what he was called to do. It wasn’t his time yet.

Lord: Keep my friend David in your arms. Keep his lovely wife and his two wonderful sons and protect them while David is away enjoying the leisurely life of the military. Encourage him Lord when things look horrible as they often do in military training. Let him know you love him and we love him Lord.

Oh and Lord please let the Holy Spirit awake David in the morning and not allow him to oversleep. He needs to get to breakfast on time so he can have strength for the day!

(He he he he ha!)

The most difficult element of Christianity is by far the problem of evil.  Where did it come from and how did it get here.  Those two questions have been the subject of countless books, articles, blogs, coffee table discussions, home fellowships, editorials and well you get the picture.  We must understand what Scripture teaches us about the origins of evil if we are to have a worldview that accurately reflects Biblical principles.  This blog is long, because of the inclusion of the Scriptures describing satan.  I felt is was important to actually include them here because I wanted you to read them in the amplified version.

On page 10 of “The Goodness of God” the author describes two kinds of evil, primary and secondary.  This sets a foundation that makes sense to me.  Primary evils (murder, rape, robbery, adultery and so forth) provide fertile ground for secondary evils to flourish.  This is a very good classification scheme.  So with this framework, let’s dig into how sin started.

How the Rebellion Began

The Bible gives us some enticing peeks into the spirit world.  While I truly enjoy reading other peoples accounts of their “encounters” with the spirit world, I do not rely on them for guidance.  I know what people say they have seen and experienced.  I know much of it is interesting and gives us some new ideas to pursue and think about, but they are not to be given serious weight unless they align with the Scriptures.

So what does the Bible say about the origins of evil?  Well the book of Ezekiel 28:12-19 (AMP) gives us some insight into satan’s origin and activities.

Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, Thus says the Lord God:

You are the full measure {and} pattern of exactness [giving the finishing touch to all that constitutes completeness], full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the carnelian, topaz, jasper, chrysolite, beryl, onyx, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald; and your settings and your sockets {and} engravings were wrought in gold. On the day that you were created they were prepared.

You were the anointed cherub that covers with overshadowing [wings], and I set you so.

You were upon the holy mountain of God; you walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire [like the paved work of gleaming sapphire stone upon which the God of Israel walked on Mount Sinai].

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until iniquity {and} guilt were found in you.  Through the abundance of your commerce:

you were filled with lawlessness {and} violence, and you sinned; therefore I cast you out as a profane thing from the mountain of God and the guardian cherub drove you out from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was proud {and} lifted up because of your beauty;

you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I lay you before kings, that they might gaze at you.

You have profaned your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities {and} the enormity of your guilt, by the unrighteousness of your trade.

Therefore I have brought forth a fire from your midst; it has consumed you, and I have reduced you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who looked at you. All who know you among the people are astonished and appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and shall never return to being.

Many Biblical scholars believe this to be a word to the King of the city of Tyre as well as directly to the prince of the power of the air actually ruling the city of Tyre satan himself.  This is an amazing insight into satan’s background.

Isaiah 14:12-17 (AMP) gives us a further look into satan’s activities.

How have you fallen from heaven, O light-bringer {and} daystar, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground, you who weakened {and} laid low the nations [O blasphemous, satanic king of Babylon!] And you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit upon the mount of assembly in the uttermost north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol (Hades), to the innermost recesses of the pit (the region of the dead). Those who see you will gaze at you {and} consider you, saying, Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms?–Who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who would not permit his prisoners to return home?

I think these two sets of Scriptures give us a very clear view of our adversary.  In order to sharpen the picture even further, let’s take a look at the names the Bible assigns to our adversary.

The names of satan

Name Reference Definition
Abaddon Revelation 9:11 a destroying angel
The accuser of our brethren Revelation 12:10 against one in the assembly, i.e. a complainant at law; specially, Satan
The adversary I Peter 5:8 an opponent (in a lawsuit); specially, Satan (as the arch-enemy)
Apollyon Revelation 9:11 a destroyer (i.e. Satan)
Beelzebub Matthew 12:24 Mark 3:22 Luke 11:15 dung-god; Beelzebul, a name of Satan
Belial II Corinthians 6:15 worthlessness; Belial, as an epithet of Satan
the Devil Matthew 4:1 a traducer; specially, Satan: false accuser, devil, slanderer.
dragon Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 probably from an alternate form of derkomai (to look); a fabulous kind of serpent (perhaps as supposed to fascinate)
the enemy Matthew 13:39 from a primary echtho (to hate); hateful (passively, odious, or actively, hostile); usually as a noun, an adversary (especially Satan)
father of all lies John 8:44 a falsifier
god of this world II Corinthians 4:4 god is used generically and refers to Satan
king of Babylon Isaiah 14:4 confusion; Babel (i.e. Babylon), including Babylonia and the Babylonian empire
king of Tyrus Ezekiel 28:12 a rock; Tsor, a place in Palestine. Satan is the false rock. Christ is the true Rock.
little horn Daniel 7:8 a horn (as projecting); by implication, a flask, cornet; by resembl. an elephant’s tooth (i.e. ivory), a corner (of the altar), a peak (of a mountain), a ray (of light); figuratively, power
Lucifer Isaiah 14:12 (in the sense of brightness); the morning star: lucifer (the king of Babylon). Satan is the false morning star. Christ is the true morning Star.
man of sin II Thessalonians 2:3 Satan was the first to sin. See Ezekiel 28:11-19
that old serpent Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 old = original or primeval
serpent = (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake, figuratively (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan
power of darkness Colossians 1:13 "shade" or a shadow (literally or figuratively [darkness of error or an adumbration])
prince of the power of the air Ephesians 2:2 prince = a first (in rank or power)
power = privilege, i.e. (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence
prince that shall come Daniel 9:26 a commander (as occupying the front), civil, military or religious; generally (abstractly, plural), honorable themes. See II Thessalonians 2:3-4 and Revelation 12:7-9
prince of Tyrus Ezekiel 28:2 a rock; Tsor, a place in Palestine. Satan is the false rock. Christ is the true Rock.
prince of this world John 12:31 prince = a first (in rank or power)
world = orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration; by implication, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally])
rulers of the darkness of this world Ephesians 6:12 rulers = a world-ruler, an epithet of Satan
darkness = shadiness, i.e. obscurity (literally or figuratively)
Satan Job 1:6 an opponent; especially (with the article prefixed) Satan, the arch-enemy of good.
serpent Genesis 3:1 properly, to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate
son of perdition John 17:12 ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal) also to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively
II Thessalonians 2:3
the tempter Matthew 4:3 to test (objectively), i.e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline
the wicked one Matthew 13:19 hurtful, i.e. evil (properly, in effect or influence) figuratively, calamitous; also (passively) ill, i.e. diseased; but especially (morally) culpable, i.e. derelict, vicious, facinorous; neuter (singular) mischief, malice, or (plural) guilt; masculine (singular) the devil, or (plural) sinners
   

Scriptural Forensics and if it walks like a duck ….

As you study the word keep in mind satan’s characteristics.  Also keep in mind what the Bible tells us about Jesus’s ministry:

1 John 3:8 [But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done].

When Jesus was accused of casting out demons by demons, Jesus’s response was classic:

Mark 3:24-26 And if a kingdom is divided {and} rebelling against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided (split into factions and rebelling) against itself, that house will not be able to last. And if Satan has raised an insurrection against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is [surely] coming to an end.

When you have to analyze a situation and there is no one around that was an eyewitness, you resort to the basic principle of forensics: Every contact leaves a trace.  Every time satan gets involved in a situation, he leaves a trace.  The above scriptures give you his playbook.  He hasn’t altered it and continues to use it against each of us every day.  Look at the results of the situation.  If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it smells like a duck, it’s a duck.  If it steals, kills and destroys, it’s satan’s handiwork.

I want to give you the outline of the book.  There are 11 very interesting chapters.  I plan on following the order of the chapters, but I will supplement many of the ideas in the chapters with other author’s material.  Authors such as CS Lewis, Brady Boyd, Joni Ericson Tada and many others have a lot to say on the subject of suffering and I want to get every one’s perspective.

The 11 chapter headings are:

1.    Tragic Choices: Determining the origins of Evil and Suffering
2.    What’s wrong? I am: Accepting the reality of inherited sin
3.    Alternative Answers: Examining Explanations for Evil and Suffering
4.    A Clash of Worldviews: Investigating relativism, atheism, and the "problem" of goodness
5.    The Great Drama: Reviewing the roles of evil and suffering in Christ’s redemptive work
6.    Why so much evil?: Questioning why God allows Evil and delay’s justice
7.    God’s control and our freedom: Discovering how God rules despite our choices
8.    Are we promised prosperity?: recovering a Biblical view of health and wealth
9.    The World we long for: Exploring God’s eternal solution to evil and suffering
10.    Wanting more clarity: wrestling with the reasons for our suffering
11.    What we can do: Finding perspective in our suffering
   
Today we start on chapter 1, "Tragic Choices".

The book begins with a story we are all familiar with.  Somebody’s child is killed in a car accident.  The father (who is a pastor) rants and raves at God asking the understandable question: “Why?”  Then he makes a statement I found insightful.  He states:
    “In the silence I began to hear the voice of God … then, without any announcement, when I became silent, God spoke to my soul.  He had an answer for each of my three questions.”

When it comes to asking why, I think I must move to the head of the line.  Why is my middle name!  In one of our recent adult classes, the teacher mentioned that she had asked God this question: “Where were you when the sexual abuse was going on?”  I asked God the same question.  Where were you?  I found what the pastor said was true.  When I became silent, God gave me some very specific answers to my question.

When it comes to suffering and all of the associated pain and grief that goes with it, it’s ok to ask questions.  I think this pastor’s brief testimony brings out some excellent points we should remember.

1.    You have to cultivate the ability to hear God.
2.    It’s ok to ask questions.  God will answer you, He wants to communicate with you.
3.    It is hard to hear God in the middle of a storm.

Elijah is a good example of hearing God.

1 Kin 19:11-13 NASB ¶ So He said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; {but} the LORD {was} not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, {but} the LORD {was} not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, {but} the LORD {was} not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard {it,} he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice {came} to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

I think this speaks of God’s presence in the middle of the storms we face.  With all of the noise and tumult we experience when we are in a storm, we must remember to listen for the small voice, the quiet voice.  That is the voice we want to follow.

Jesus spoke of hearing God’s voice:

John 10:3-5 NASB "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."

Hearing from God has two immediate benefits that I can see.

1.    You can hear him concerning comfort.  When you are in the middle of a muddle, you need comfort.  That’s the Holy Spirit’s job description.
2.    You can hear him for directions.  Obviously, when you are in serious difficult situations you need to have guidance and understanding of how to proceed.  Again, this is what the Holy Spirit does, provide guidance as well as comfort.

John 16:13-14 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose {it} to you.

As I write this, I learned one of my favorite athletic personalities just revealed she has the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  Pat Summitt has been a model of leadership in the world of women’s athletics.  She is a fine Christian woman and a strong leader.  I am sure she would agree she find’s herself in a difficult situation.  She probably was caught off guard by this.  Yet her response is indicative of her strong faith.  I pray for her and hope you will too.  This statement from the Tennessee athletic department speaks for the impact of Pat Summit’s life:

For Pat to stand-up and share her health news is just a continuing example of her courage. Life is an unknown and none of us have a crystal ball. But I do have a record of knowing what Pat Summitt stands for; excellence, strength, honesty and courage.

He is right when he says life is an unknown.  This fact alone is why it is important for us to prepare for life’s unknown elements as much as we can by studying God’s word and developing an intimate relationship with Him.

Today, the Lord taught me a lesson I hope I NEVER forget.

I went to the doctor this morning to figure out what was wrong with my shoulder.  I was sitting in his office when they called me to sign in.  I went to the window and paid my $40 co-pay.  I was grumbling about it but when I went back to sit down I saw a vision of Frieda in Sunday school class saying "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you".  I knew immediately I was caught in the sin of un-thankfulness and being un-grateful.  I recognized the sin and as I sat down, I spent the better part of the next 10 or 15 minutes apologizing to the Lord for being un-grateful.

I told the Lord I don’t want to exhibit these sinful patterns in my life.  I thought about what I have and how fortunate I am to have a good job with good insurance the $40 bucks for the co-pay.  The more I thought about what I have, the more apologetic I became to the Lord.

I also thank God for Frieda and her faithfulness to teach our Sunday School class.  She and the Lord chose a book that is stimulating in discussion and provides me with much thought and discussion with the Lord.

I had an experience yesterday that I find to be utterly amazing. I’m not at all surprised about God’s part in it, I’m just surprised He used me.

Tuesday as I was eating dinner, two Muslim women cut in front of me in line. They were fully garbed in Muslim dress and I just stood there. As I think back on it, I am sure I was glaring. As I “glared” at them, I had the most horrible series of thoughts go through my mind. The thoughts were simply right out of the pit of hell. I immediately told the Lord I was sorry, I hated the fact I thought those thoughts and worse, that they represented what I actually thought inside. I repented but I don’t think I asked for anything. I was really too ashamed to ask for anything. I just shook my head and moved on.

Fast forward to yesterday. I am on my way home and buzzing through Atlanta traffic. I had just talked to a friend for quite a while concerning prayer and a number of other church related issues. I hadn’t eaten and thought I would stop at one of my favorite restaurants to eat. I jumped off 85 and went there to eat. As I walked in, two Muslim women were in front of me in line. I stood there looking at them, not really thinking about anything. The taller of the two looked at me, smiled and told me to go ahead. I did and as I went by them, I sensed something about them that was stirring my spirit. I didn’t know what, but something. I ordered and as I walked down the line and started to pay, I looked back at them and I immediately saw a $20 bill flash in my mind. I was shocked and looked back at my tray and paid. I looked back at them again (thinking I might get a 10 or two 5’s) and again the $20 bill was there. I turned to the little Chinese lady running the cash register and gave her a twenty and told her to apply it to those ladies bill. She smiled and nodded.

I grabbed my food and split as fast as I could because I wanted to get out of line to avoid the ladies. I didn’t think it would be prudent to be there. I went to the farthest part of the dinning and room and sat purposely behind a post so they couldn’t see me. I made sure they couldn’t see me. I thanked the Lord for what He did, although I wasn’t sure of what He did. I looked up from my prayer and there was the little Chinese lady standing in front of me waving a 20 and pointing towards the cash register where two clearly confused Muslim women were standing and looking directly at me. The Chinese lady asked me if those two ladies were who I was talking about and then pointed directly at the two women. I was mortified but I said “Yes, that’s them”. She said (honestly she did) “Okray Dokrey” and smiled and walked off. The next thing I knew a very tall Muslim woman was standing beside me and said (with a huge smile) “Thank you”. I told her she was welcome and turned to finish lunch. I then heard as clear as a bell “Tell them you did that because you are a Christian”. At this point, I realize I haven’t eaten much because I lost my appetite about 5 minutes ago. So I got up, went over to their table and pulled out a chair and sat down. I had no clue what I was going to say. But as I opened my mouth here is what I told them: “I am a Christian and I wanted you to know that not all Christians hate Muslims. I believe the Lord told me to buy your lunch to let you know that He Loves you.” I don’t have words to describe their smiles. I asked their names. “I am Esra said the tall lady” “I am Wreeim” said the shorter lady. I asked her where she was from, she smiled a smile that was one of the most engaging smiles I’ve ever seen, “I’m, from Jerusalem!” Oh really I said. You know Bethlehem is close by don’t you. Her face kinda scrunched up with a bit of a confused look and Esra put her hand on my arm and said “I will explain to her” with a big smile. I smiled back and left.

Isn’t God good!!!!!!

There was a time in my Christian faith when my goals were lofty and my confidence was high because I KNEW what God was up to and I KNEW He was going to use me to accomplish great things. I KNEW it. Boy, what was I thinking!

I spoke recently with a good friend in Tulsa and asked him this question:

If you were in a Sunday School class with a young couple just married and full of Christian zeal, what one thing would you tell them that you KNEW when you were their age that has changed with your advancing years (he’s a couple of years older than me)?

Jim is a wise man and has been through many wars. He is a veteran whose wisdom I highly prize. His answer was clear and precise. “I don’t have as many answers or responsibilities as I used to have.” Translation: He doesn’t know it all and he is no longer taking responsibility for things that are really none of his business anyway. David says he doesn’t bother himself with things too great for him.

Ps 131:1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

I have a confession to make. I’ve committed the sin of worry. Worry is really getting involved in things you have no business being involved in. I’ve worried about oh so many things. I’ve worried about work. If I don’t get the crisis of the moment solved, will I get fired? Will I get a bad review? If I get fired, what will I do? What would I say to Julia? What about Gateway? What have I not done to help us grow? What about my internal failings? What will I do if something happens to Julia? I’ll be alone. What then? What about this and what about that and is God mad at me because I didn’t do this or because I did do that. What will the boss think and so forth and so on. I stand before you and confess this mess right now. I’m embarrassed because I’ve not operated in the very venue I encourage people to operate in. I want to operate in faith. I want to be what God wants me to be. I want to be helpful to Gateway. I just can’t help anyone while operating in fear. (None of you can either!)

God’s not mad though. That’s the good news here. He’s not mad at me. Actually I think we are both somewhat relieved because it is finally dawning on my lightening quick mind that I don’t have answers to most of the questions I have and in many cases pursuing some of the answers is a waste of time. God knew it. Julia knew it. Andy seems to be the late bloomer here. Again though, that’s not a bad thing. I am learning.

I experienced a real jolt of faith today. Mison Latina and the Hispanic community in our area have been devastated with the new immigration law passed last week. I spoke with Efrain and Haydée and they explained to me how it has affected Hispanic congregations. I’ve been thinking and praying for them. I love them so dearly and want to help them so much. I worry about them, all of them. (Do you see a pattern here?). Well I told Haydée that I wanted to come over Sunday and worship with them. She readily agreed and I made plans to go. Well, I just got a sense that I needed to ask Roque to go with me. So we headed over to worship with them. Of course, I KNEW the Lord was going to use me and my superior knowledge of three Spanish words to speak some words of encouragement that would uplift everyone. Boy, what was I thinking?

During the singing, Roque leaned over and told me that he felt the Lord gave him something to share with them. I told Efrain and when Roque got up and started to speak, I watched the congregation. They were captured by his testimony. I watched as they kept their eyes glued to every word he spoke. Some of my good friends there were wiping tears from their eyes. They nodded their heads in approval. I was getting nervous about the time. Then the Lord quickened to me to cool my jets and let him be. It was obvious Roque was the reason we were there, not Andy.

Oh Lord: PLEASE forgive me for my arrogance and pride. Thank you for men of wisdom and experience like Roque. His simple act of obedience brought words of encouragement to a group of people that so desperately needed it. Thank you Lord.