Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On

Not long ago I was walking to a restaurant in the Short North and came across a plague in the window of a store with the catchphrase Keep Calm and Carry On. I really had no idea where it came from and why there was a crown on the top of the plaque until I did some research.  I discovered that it was catchphrase that originally appeared on a World War II-era British public safety poster, hence the crown! It was intended to be used to strengthen morale in the event of a large-scale attack or occupation, which many considered inevitable at the time. Though more than million of these posters were originally commissioned, the poster was distributed only in limited numbers, and never saw public display. After the war ended the posters were kept in storage where most were destroyed.
However in 2000, Stuart Manley and his wife Mary found a poster folded at the bottom of a box of old books they purchased at an auction for their bookshop. Not knowing its origins, the couple had it framed and hung it in the shop, where they began selling prints of it the following year. It caught on and has since been used as the template for a number of popular phrases, Keep Calm and _________. 

Well needless to say I bought the plague with the original saying and it now hangs on our wall at home. It’s a reminder that God doesn’t “grade” us on success as the world defines success but rather on our faithfulness.  Jesus didn’t say “be successful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” rather He said, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10.  

So sometimes it’s a victory just to get out of bed and show up, whether it’s attending one more class, changing one more diaper, fixing one more meal, making one more call, preparing one more message. Keep Calm and Carry On,” until He comes!  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Is Perception Reality?

"The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too" (1 Kings 19:14).

The CEO walked into his manufacturing plant only to observe an employee standing by idly not working. Angrily, he walked over to him, peeled off a $100 bill and gave it to him: "Here, go spend your time elsewhere!" The man looked at the CEO somewhat puzzled, but left with the $100. "How long has that man worked for us?" said the CEO to the employee standing nearby. "Well sir, that man does not work for us; he is only the delivery man."

Perception is not always reality. Elijah was in a crisis. Jezebel wanted to kill him. The nation was falling to Baal worship. From his vantage point - it was all over. He was the only prophet remaining in all the land who had not bent his knee to the idol of Baal. He wanted to die.

Then, the Lord sent His angel to correct Elijah's perception: "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel - all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18). There were seven thousand Elijah knew nothing about! Elijah's perception was not reality.

Whenever things are going poorly, there is a temptation to believe God is not working in the situation. We may even believe our life is over. Everything from our vantage point is dark. We see no future. However, even in these times, God's plan is being orchestrated behind the scenes. He is accomplishing His purposes. But we need a fresh perspective on our situation.

Do you need a reality check on your situation? Ask God to show you the truth. It may be very different than your perception.

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Something “Better” Than Answers

Usually when we pray, we pray hoping that God will answer our prayers.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Jesus invites us to ask and it will be given, knock and you will find, Matthew 7:7-8

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

But sometimes I think we settle for less when all we ask for is answers to prayer.  The truth is God is waiting to pour out something better than what we ask for, something that is in fact better than we can even think or imagine, Eph. 3:20.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

For instance when the early church asked God for boldness to speak His word in the face of opposition, Acts 4:29.

29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.

God not only answered their prayer and gave them boldness to speak the word but He sent a power that shook the room they were meeting in, Acts 4:31

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

That’s pretty much the same thing he did in Acts 2:1 where they had been praying together in the Upper Room following the Lord’s ascension.  God poured out the Holy Spirit and enabled them to speak in languages that everyone understood.

The problem is sometimes when we pray all we ask for is answers when what God really wants is to pour out his power upon us in a way that shakes the foundations of the church and leads to an outpouring of His glory.  What I need to do then is stop just asking for answers to prayer and ask for an outpouring of His power upon my live and His church.

Friday, May 31, 2013


TGIF stands for more than "Thank Goodness it's Friday" it's also an acronym for "Today God is First."  "Today God is First" is a devotional series for Marketplace Leaders by Os Hilman.  His devotional really hit home for me today so I thought I'd pass it on. Happy Friday!

"Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel" (1 Chron 21:1-2).

God always requires total trust in Him alone for our victories in life. Throughout scripture we are cautioned not to place our trust in the strength of horses, other men or our own abilities. David's decision to take a census was a failure to keep his trust totally upon the Lord.

David's purpose in counting his population was to assess his military strength, much like the second census taken under Moses (Num. 1:2,3). David found 800,000 men eligible for military service in Israel and 500,000 men in Judah (2 Sam. 24:9), more than double the previous head count.

David's commander evidently recognized the grave error that his king was about to make. "But Joab replied, 'May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord's subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?'" (1 Chron 21:3).

This census displeased the Lord. David was falling into the temptation of trusting in the size of his army rather than in the Lord. God punished David and reduced his forces by bringing a plague that killed 70,000 men (1 Chron 24:14,15). How do we do this in our lives today? We trust our bank accounts, our skills, and the security of our workplace. When we begin placing our faith in these things instead of the provider of these things we get into trouble with God.

What a lesson this is for each of us. Today, place your total trust in the Lord for all of your needs. Copied from TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman 05-31-201, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Bridges to Brazil"

“. . . As your days are so shall your strength be”  Deuteronomy 33:25

Three weeks ago today I left for one of the most incredible journeys of my life. I went with four of the most amazing people in the world, Bill Williams, Melissa Partch, Carlo Corral, and Justin Harrington for a 12 day trip into the Rain Forest of Brazil and to the state of Rodonia.  There we went first to the city of Vihleana and then to one of the indigenous people groups in Brazil called the Aikana Indians.  We went there with five primary objectives in mind.

  • conduct Bible classes for the children
  • encourage and equip the Aikana church leaders 
  • Host a community outreach in the village 
  • clean and repaint the Aikana Village church
  • Be a witnesses to anyone and everyone that God brings across our path in the village and along the way. 

Amazingly God gave us the strength to accomplish all of these things and more.  Carlo, along with Justin and Melissa taught the children. Carlo used his talents as a professional clown, not to mention his nose, to capture and hold the attention of children and adults who gathered for four days in the heat of the day and once in the morning to hear the parables of Jesus including the Good Samaritan, the lost Sheep, the parable of the soils and more.

Bill and I sought to use our teaching gifts to encourage individually and collectively the the Aikana village church leaders.  We preached four times in the village and once in the city of Vihleana, teaching on spiritual leadership, personal holiness, stewardship and evangelism.  We were also privileged to meet personally with the interpreters who are working to translate the Scripture into their own language.

Meanwhile Melissa worked with Ana and Pollyanna to assemble gift bags for every family with the gifts we had brought from Journey, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, flashlights, combs, school supplies.  They were distributed personally to each family including the tribe’s chief, on the day of the outreach. She also personally made friendship bracelets for all of the children which she distributed on our last day there.

Justin coordinated cleaning and painting the church.  It wasn’t as easy as we thought since the building was taller and we didn’t have a lot of ladders.  Nor were they the kind we were used to but rather hand made and heavy.  We also had to battle “Brazilian wasps” which had apparently made their home in the back wall of the church.  Nevertheless we were able to finish the project with the assistance of a number of men and women from the village.

Finally all of us sought to be a witness to anyone and everyone we met along the way, whether it was someone we sat next to on the plane or Avahaw, the school teacher we met in the village, we prayed that God would help us to open our mouth to share the Gospel.  In addition all of us visited each day in the homes of various Indians.  There we we got acquainted with the villagers and were introduced to their way of life including the way they hunt, farm, cure their food, make music, and more.

Like the apostle Paul, “we were delighted to share with them not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, 1 Thessalonians 2:8 . Thank you then for your prayers and for the financial support of so many that we might be able to be His witnesses, both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, Acts 1:8.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Post Election Reflections

“In this you greatly rejoice. . .” 1 Peter 1:6

Did your candidate win in Tuesday’s election.  Chances are If he did then you are pretty happy, but if he didn’t then chances are you’re pretty bummed.  Yet Peter said that there is something we can and should rejoice in, something that is not dependent upon the results of any election here on earth.  It is our salvation.  A salvation that is reserved in heaven for everyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:4

Our rejoicing then is not dependent upon anything here on earth but rather upon the thing we have in heaven.  That’s because this world is not our home.  We are only alien and and strangers and the sooner we begin to live like that the happier and holier we’ll be. 1 Peter 2:11

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Is Every Church Supposed to be a Big Church?

Well that’s certainly what it feels like and whether the feeling comes from inside or outside yet as a pastor of “small” church, it’s a pressure I feel every day.  Yet I would never say that every Christian is supposed to be healthy, wealthy and wise, instead I realize that God is sovereign and will do for one what He wants and for another what He wants and it may not be the same, ie see parable of the laborers, Matt. 20:1-16.

So why then do I think that every church is supposed to be a big church? If God is sovereign in what he gives us individually why isn’t he sovereign and in charge of what he gives us as a church?  Well the truth of the matter He is.  Our only responsibility is to be faithful, faithful in keeping his word and not denying his name, or at least that’s what he told the church of Philadelphia, Revelation 3:8

'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Though and open door was given to them that no one was able to shut, they were not given much power or in other words they were not great in number and influence, yet they had been faithful to keep the word and not to deny His name.  Thus they earn the Lord’s commendation not for their numbers but for their faithfulness.

I am reminded then of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:2.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

So if you pastor a smaller church or are a member of a smaller church don’t let it disturb or discourage you, just be faithful. And if you pastor or are a member of a larger church “be careful” as James MacDonald said,  “not to cultivate an attitude of disdain towards smaller works that are worthy of Jesus commendation.  Maybe it is, as Jesus said, one of the ways in which the first will be last and the last will be first.”  James MacDonald,