Archive for December, 2011

December 18, 2011

The Drum (Part 2)

Luke 2:1-20

Back to the drum…

As I said last week, the song “The Little Drummer Boy” was a favorite of mine growing up but I never really got it, or at least what it means to me, until just recently. A small boy, in a humbleness that only a child can bring, stands before Christ, the newborn King, the Savior of the world, and brings all he has, a gift of noise made by two sticks on an animal skin draped over a piece of wood.  If you listen to the words of the song, it says, “ I’m a poor boy too…I have no gift to bring…that’s fit to give the King…Shall I play for you…on my drum…” His gift was not the beautiful tones from a violin, or a flute, or a harp. He banged on a drum.  I can only imagine what God must have thought as He looked proudly down at the boy, His child. No doubt His response must have been, “That’s all I want you to do. I gave you a drum. And all I ask is that you do your best with what I have given you and then give it, your life, back to me as a gift.” By the way, He wants the same from us today.  The song goes on, “I played my drum for Him…I played my best for Him…” What happens? The last line of the song says it all… “Then He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum pum, me and my drum.”

How awesome, and humbling, and incredible, and unbelievable is it that we can stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords empty handed and with nothing more to offer but our messed up and shallow lives …noise, and receive unconditional grace, love, and forgiveness…a smile? Wow.  That’s my God.  Men, our worth in this life is not in the status we achieve, in the possessions we have acquired, in the fortunes we have amassed, or in the gifts we are able or unable to give. Our worth resides in the eyes and arms of our Heavenly Father and in the life, and noise, we bring to the manger of Christ. Merry Christmas.

Challenge: Simple…we must make sure not to forget the reason for the season…the reason we celebrate Christmas. This coming Sunday, Christmas Day, before the room fills with discarded wrapping paper, open God’s word and read aloud Luke 2:1-20. Remember, the greatest gift ever given came in the form of a baby…the Messiah.

Prayer: Lord, simply saying “thank you’ doesn’t quite seem adequate. I am so grateful for Your forgiveness, Your love, Your grace….all undeserved and unconditional. Most of all, thank You for giving us the greatest gift ever given…Your Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Door to the Father and to everlasting life. Help me never to forget the manger. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

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December 11, 2011

The Drum (Part 1)

Luke 2:1-20

It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s Christmas. The time for decorations, lights, sweaters (everywhere except Florida), cider, great food, friends, family, traffic, stress, overcrowded malls, and gifts. It also means carols that began just after July 4th and will go through Memorial Day. Sorry, maybe it just seems that way. No, I like Christmas carols and Christmas music …during Christmas. I digress.

The song “Little Drummer Boy” was always a favorite of mine growing up. But I never really understood the meaning or took the song’s message into context as it relates to “the giving of a gift.” Now I have to be honest when I say that I am not the biggest fan of the Christmas holiday. Yes, you read it right. No typo here. I know that I have just thrown many of you into an uproar and simply cannot believe that a Christian, especially one who claims to be an “outspoken and highly motivated servant of the Almighty” would say that he was not a fan of Christmas.  I am going to pause here for a second……or two….. Good. Hopefully things have calmed down where you are, you didn’t lose your testimony, and your blood pressure has come back to a relatively normal level. If it hasn’t, please take some deep breaths and think happy thoughts. It’s okay. I’ll wait for you. I don’t want you to miss out on the rest of the message.

I said I wasn’t a fan of the Christmas HOLIDAY, not the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Christ was the greatest Gift ever given. Period.  And the gift He brings is eternal life with Him in heaven. While I could jump into full pastoral discourse, I see no need for it. Bottom line: It really doesn’t get any better than God’s Gift and the gift of salvation. Now. What I am not a big fan of is what the Christmas holiday has turned into…a “keepin’ up with the Jones’ and trying to get everything that’s hot this year while making sure the kids get more than last year in order to outdo the neighbors and coworkers in a quest – to the death if necessary – for the ultimate gift despite the mounting debt but it’s never quite enough” holiday. I have to ask you, does that sound like a holiday where Christ is at the center? You don’t have to respond. We know the answer.

We as people, especially us men, need to realize that we bring absolutely nothing to the table. It’s God’s unlimited grace that allows us to enter into His presence. It’s not what we bring through our abilities, talents, or our works. He doesn’t need us. He created the heavens and the earth for crying out loud. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. But despite our inadequacies, He wants to be involved in every single little aspect of our lives. All He asks of us is…us. We think His love is because of us and what we do for Him. Is this you? However, as Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.” On the other side, many of us feel so unworthy, so undeserving of anyone’s love, much less God’s love, because of what we have done or even continue to do, that the gifts of grace and forgiveness are far beyond our reach or comprehension.  We feel there is no way God wants to hear from me, could ever love me, or would ever want a “gift” from me. Is that you? Romans 5:8 (NIV) says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Check out Around the Corner next week for Part 2 of “The Drum”.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

December 4, 2011

Real:

“Walking the Talk”

Colossians 3:7-10

I was having a conversation with a gentleman just this past week who told me that as much as he hated to say it, he was really getting disheartened by the lack of genuineness among the men in his church. He said the more he thought about it, the more he saw it among the “Christian” men he knew and associated with. He told me that as much as he would like not to admit it, it made him not want to go to church. He said he could see why more men are not “stepping up” in the way they should because despite what many “men of the church” speak from their mouths there is very little observable difference between the actions of men inside and outside of the church. No matter how many times I get hit with that reality baseball bat, it still hurts. Our actions speak much louder than our words. And, if I am real and honest with my own self assessment, I must admit that I am as guilty as anyone. Question to self: Is there enough evidence in my actions to substantiate my claim of being a follower of Christ? Too often, the answer breaks my heart.

Challenge: It doesn’t matter where we are, who we are, or what we are, a lack of genuineness puts a barrier between us and those around us. For men of God, if we are going to heed Christ’s commandment of “making disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19) and reach generations of men where they are and impact them for Christ, there has to be a distinct and consistent difference between us and men of the world. Talking the talk but not walking the walk hurts our testimony more than if we said nothing at all. This is true for men of any age. This week, we need to take a long and hard look in the mirror. We must be honest with who we see and ask ourselves, “If someone said something about me, either way, would there be enough evidence to convict me?”

Prayer: Lord, please help me be honest with myself and more importantly, honest with You. You already know me better than I know myself…and You love me unconditionally and call me your own. I pray that You, who are Absolute Truth, shines through me in all that I say and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

God Dreams

Posted: December 1, 2011 in Articles

Well, guys, welcome to December. Can you believe that 2011 is almost over? Wow, how fast it goes. Christmas is here. The sound of bells and carols can be heard all around. Decorated trees have been erected and lights have been affixed (both with minimal injury, I hope) and buzz with a holiday glow…and massive amounts of electricity. The stockings are hung and the college football bowl season begins only days from now…which, for many of us, is really the most wonderful time of the year. I’m only half kidding.

Now, think back over the last 11 months. What kind of year was it? It was a challenging year, economically, for many individuals and for certain sectors of our economy. A large number of people spent much of the year out of work while others prospered in their business and vocational endeavors. Life is certainly never dull. However, I also know people who, despite their circumstances – whether bad or good, set courses for adventure and stepped out in faith to do something…something they felt called to do…something God put on their heart. What about you? Did the year transpire the way you thought it would? If you set goals, did you end up doing what you set out to do back in January…February? What about this…Did you act on a dream? I love the story of Joseph. Man, you can carve up the events in his life in so many ways and see so many truths of God’s sovereignty that it is astounding. Unfortunately, and I’m really bummed about it, time and magazine page space restraints won’t let me dive into them all. I think I literally heard your sigh of relief. For now, I want to talk about dreams…God dreams.

I once heard someone say that God dreams are always met with opposition, always require greater than our current capabilities and character, and are always for a purpose much greater than ourselves.  In my experience, that is a dead on assessment. And when we look in God’s word at the story of Joseph, these three characteristics fit his dreams perfectly. In Genesis 37, Joseph shares two of his dreams with his brothers and father. In both dreams, objects representing his brothers and family bowed down to him. That, of course, was met with significant opposition. Joseph’s brothers, who already didn’t like him because he was his dad’s “favorite”, essentially told him that he was sadly mistaken if he thought they would bow down to him. They even plotted to kill him. That sounds like push back to me. Secondly, his dreams were certainly greater than his current ability and character as he was just a young shepherd boy and not one who “the sun, moon, and eleven stars” would bow down to. And lastly, the reality of his dreams would end up for a purpose far greater than himself as he, through incredible circumstances and faith,  would eventually become second in Egypt only to Pharaoh and save millions from starvation because of his plan to gather grain during prosperity in preparation for a 7 year famine. It’s a great story and a must read.

While most of us will never have a life story like Joseph’s, we are all given God dreams. I will tell you that Servant Warrior Ministries was one. ..still is. There are countless testimonies of people who stepped out in faith and followed a God dream. From a vocational change, to a business venture, to something like teaching a Sunday school class, going back to school, even starting a new hobby, if it is a God dream, the three characteristics will be clearly evident. We often times place a level of expectation on a God dream and think it has to be some earth-shattering, world changing endeavor. It doesn’t.  God dreams are simply those things He places on our hearts that we cannot do ourselves in our power and abilities, require Him at the helm, and are for a purpose much greater than ourselves. They usually require us to leave a comfort zone and/or go where we feel wholly ill-equipped…knowing we have no reason to be there…but realizing it is exactly where we are supposed to be. “’I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree.’ Isaiah 55:8 (MSG).

Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the greatest Gift ever given. “God showed us how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” 1 John 4:9 (NLT) Just as we marvel at and celebrate the birth of a new life, we celebrate the blessing of a new life in Christ. “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT). It is in Christ that we receive the blessings that come with a life given to Him to use as He sees fit. And it is through the dreams He places on our heart…dreams that through Him alone can become a reality… that we fulfill the purpose He has for us and receive our reward.

What dream has God put on your heart? If there is a question of which dream is from God and which one is the result of either bad pizza or a too-good-to-be-true infomercial…a dream from God has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him, is a major pride extractor and humbler, is the ultimate in risk/reward with the reward not readily visible but the risk clearly evident, scares us to death but excites us to live, allows us to watch others be blessed and experience God right before our eyes, and, puts us right in the middle of the Almighty’s will for our lives. Can you think of a better place to be in 2012 than smack in the middle of God’s will? Me, either. If God has put a dream on your heart…act. Take that step of faith. It’s worth it. Until next year…keep it real, Mighty Warrior…and Armor Up!

From my family to you and yours, have a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year. And please remember our military men and women, many in harm’s way, who are away from their loved ones protecting our freedoms and our way of life. May God be with them and protect them.

The above article appears in the December 2011 Issue of Power Source Magazine, http://www.powersourcemagazine.com, and can be viewed HERE