Series 19




“It’s working,” Jodi said. “I’m praying for my teacher.” Just two weeks prior he so disliked his teacher that he wanted to change schools.

I had listened to Jodi’s concerns, his complaints and his slanted perspective. I thought for a moment: “I have a solution to your problem . . . pray for your teacher.”

My conversation with Jodi definitely revealed that he was struggling with submitting to his teacher’s authority. He needed to know what the Bible says: “There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” The Bible continues: “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.”

So what if Jodi’s teacher truly was at fault and poor in executing his duties? This was Jodi’s claim.

Reminds me of another time. A few other people and I were studying the Bible one evening. Our discussion focused on the importance of honoring, respecting and submitting to the God-established authorities in our lives.

We were closing down the discussion. Quietly, hesitantly Andy said, “My boss calls me stupid.”  He went on to reveal some totally inappropriate verbal harassment. So what do you do now? Is it time to tweak the Bible, making an exception in recognizing his boss as an authority from God?

We prayed some serious prayers regarding the situation, shoring up Andy’s new-in-the faith resolve.

When we saw Andy a week later he was goofy-happy. He told us, “My boss lost her voice; she couldn’t talk all week.”

The Bible tells us to pray for, “all authorities, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.”

God’s ways fall out of the sphere of human logic. But so do the ultimate results. Just ask Jodi. Ask Andy.

Experiencing difficulties with a person in authority? Do what the Bible says—pray. And expect the unexpected.


High On the Music

She described the sensation as being high at church. That was months ago. In contrast, on this Sunday Becky’s focus is on Jesus.

She talked about what was the pinnacle of her Sunday church experience: “I used to get high on the music.” This was not an expression of a drug manipulated brain but of a tangible response to emotional music.

Becky continued telling about the past: “And then all I thought about was where we would go out to eat after church and who we would go with.” She was being vulnerably honest in admitting her church experience at that time in her life was focused totally on her own fulfillment.

In Revelations 2 and 3 Jesus comments on what He sees in the church. While mixed with some compliments, He uses these words, “I will vomit you out of My mouth.” And, “Do you not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.”

His first words refer to a person who is cruising in the “whatever” mode in church. Maybe the music is the highlight with no real life change. Jesus’ second words address the in-need-of-nothing attitude-- I have everything under control, I’m in charge, what’s-for-lunch mind set.

Following His harsh comments, Jesus lays out the way of reversing the situation. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.”

Where is Jesus Christ in your church experience? Is your relationship with Him as if you are dining together? If not, do what Jesus said, “Repent.” Change. Refocus.

Everyone has a responsibility to revere Jesus, worship Jesus as the central theme of their church experience.

Truthfully. I need some fine tuning. How about you?


Church of Tears

He was near tears. And then droplets started trickling down his cheeks: “Can I go tonight?” Michael’s dilemma? He wanted to attend church that evening.

Eighteen months prior my friend John and I felt compelled to start an adult Bible study group targeting non-church goers in our community. We passed out invitations and put up posters around town. In total more than a 150 invitations were distributed.

Months later, beside the group leaders, one person attended regularly. We pushed on, continuing to wait on God.

One evening before the meeting, I was down the street inviting a lady who desperately needed the power of Jesus in her life. Again she declined. Then her eight-year old grandson Tyler said, “Can I go?” I hesitated. Tyler started crying: “I never get to go anywhere.”

I told him the meeting was a serious adult Bible study. He kept crying.

I relented.

The next week I relented again—before the tears. Tyler and his brother were allowed to attend. And in the following weeks other kids wanted to come. Soon the kids outnumbered the adults. Some would be lying on the floor; others looked like they were totally disengaged in the meeting, yet they returned the next week.

I remember thinking, “God what are you doing?”

The Bible states, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them.”

Soon all the adults drifted from the group, except my wife and me. And even more kids started coming.

Now sometimes after “kid’s church” I feel like crying—I am in awe of what God is doing.

God has good works prepared just for you. Please…please do not miss them. Missing God’s plan for your life—is there any greater crying shame?


Give Secretly; Receive God's Reward

“Hey Rudy, this is Rick,” I said, “There’s a family that needs some food.” I have made similar phone calls probably fifty times.  He responded: “How many people in the family?” That’s all he asked. I drive over to his house. Rudy pops the overhead garage door open and helps load the food into my van. 

“Thank you so much Rudy,” I said. He shruggs his  shoulders-- almost resistant to receiving the thanks.

Jesus said: “When you give to the poor; do . . . so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly.” Rudy’s neighbors are unaware of his generosity. So is his family. Even the people who benefit from his kindness have no idea who he is.

I get the fun of delivering the goodies. Two people are home-- two boys, nine and thirteen. The oldest boy says, “Rick you saved our lives!” Not literal, but their emotions were busting lose.

Taking the last box into the house; they practically yelled, “Thank you Rick!” I informed them that the food was not from me. I said, “You need to praise God.” In unison the two boys power punched the air, yelling: “Yeah, praise God!”

I can tell Rudy what happened, yet he will only experience a minuscule amount of the emotional buzz.

It’s not very exciting stacking canned goods into a box. No one is going to be jump-up-and-down excited as Rudy secretly purchases food on sale, stocking it away for the next crisis.

Doing what God tells us to do is not based on excitement or praise from people. God’s formula—secret giving equals open reward. Could you use a reward, a blessing from God?

In faith—give secretly.


Preach to the Hungry

They clung together across the street-- nearly obscured by darkness. Four older teenagers; one yelled, “Do you have any food?” 

I was dropping off kids from church. As I ushered six-year old Dakota to his home, I replied, “Yeah, I’ve got some food. Come over to the van.” Truthfully-- I had no food. I had delivered food in the neighborhood before; still I was surprised at their request. I figured they were alluding to my mom’s homemade cookies which the church kids munched on frequently.

I had zero food.

When they asked, I instantly thought: “Spiritual food.”

Minutes later I was back at the van. They stood in a line paying me uncommon attention. I confessed, “I don’t have any food.” And in a flurry of words I promised to bring them a batch of Mom’s cookies.  I said, “But I do have some spiritual food.”

Surprisingly, Robert, Steven, Cody, and Allen held rank. I grabbed a pocketsize New Testament from the van, holding it out: “Here’s some spiritual food.” Completely opposite my expectations, Steven reached for it, instantly hiding it in his pocket. Of the four, he was the only one I had ever talked with before. Our longest conversation had lasted about forty-five seconds. I had injected God; Steven seemed disinterested.

The Bible says: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season…” The four teenagers continued to hold rank. And focus. This was definitely an in-season moment. I was ready; the sermon from church was fresh in my mind.

The under-the-street-lights-mini-sermon lasted less than eight minutes. By the grace of God, four people unexpectedly received and enjoyed spiritual food.

Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the entire world.” Your assignment? Stay ready; speak the goodness of God into hungry lives.