Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kindness

Earlier this week a minister friend called me and asked would I be willing to speak in his place at the local nursing home service on Wednesday.  He had to be out of town that evening and hoped I would be able to fill in.  I usually attend the nursing home devotional even when I am not speaking, but on Sunday I had thought on my drive home that I would make other plans for Wednesday night.  Nothing sinister mind you, but I thought I might attend a different congregation's service nearby or just take a week off from midweek speaking.  When he called, of course, I changed my mental plans and told him I would be happy to fill-in.
I chose to speak on kindness at the nursing home service.  Kindness is something practical and it is something that you have almost complete control over.  You cannot always choose your circumstances (illness, old age, confinement), but you can choose how you will react to those situations.  I encouraged the elderly folks in attendance to choose kindness on a daily basis.  I emphasized the importance of a kind word, a friendly gesture and a gentle smile.  This lesson hit home with me also of course.  How many times have I been short when I should have been generous?  How many times have I hustled through a human interaction without noticing the person much less smiling at him or her?
If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that we all need to be more kind.  Usually it is simply a matter of taking the time and giving the effort to speak an extra greeting, give a friendly nod or even share a quick hug.  Why not make a decision to go out of your way (and perhaps out of your comfort zone) to do an extra act of kindness each day?  You will be an encouragement to others and will receive a blessing yourself.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Global Family, Global Faith

Last Sunday evening in our weekly Bible class, I challenged our class members with this question, "If you lived in Africa, the Middle East or the remote parts of South America, and you had put forth the same amount of effort into finding out about Christ there as you have put into being a Christian here, would you even be a Christian?"  Sadly, I think I know the answer for the majority of American Christians.  We are far too at ease in our faith and far too comfortable with the opportunities we have in this country.

I received two updates in the mail recently from two ministries I am proud to support.  The first organization is The Voice of the Martyrs which is a ministry specifically targeted to ministering to the needs of the persecuted church throughout the world.  I had an opportunity to attend a VOM conference this winter and left with a new perspective about the hardships and the blessings of our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.

The second organization is Compassion International.  As many of you know, I sponsor a child through Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program.  We correspond and exchange photos several times a year.  I am glad that I am able to play a part in the physical and spiritual growth of a young man who might not otherwise receive these opportunities.

I highlight these efforts because I have personally been able to share in them.  There are numerous worthy ministries that are seeking to grow and shape the Body of Christ.  Find one that is Biblically-based, well-managed, Spirit-lead and Kingdom-focused and then invest yourself there.  We cannot all go abroad to serve the LORD.  In fact, many of us are not suited for foreign work due to many factors. Despite not going ourselves, however, we are not excused from contributing to the cause of world missions.  Christ's Kingdom must go into every place and we have a responsibility to do what we can to see that the Gospel is carried into all the world.

Why not begin today by praying for doors to open throughout the world that the Gospel may be preached?  As we pray, God continues to work in and through our efforts.  May Christ's Kingdom be established throughout the world and may the increase of His Kingdom know no bounds.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Life is Relationship

Each one of us is building a life story.  We are rapidly filling our days with career, family, friends, hobbies and amusements.  Each one of us has a life to live and we can only live it once.  What will matter in the end?  What will truly count when the story of our lives is told?
I firmly believe that at the end of our lives only two things will stand the test of age, sickness and even death: our relationship with God and our relationships with other people.  Each one of us, if we are honest with ourselves, will acknowledge that we need work in both these areas.  Building a relationship with God is more than consistent church attendance: it is learning to seek God and find Him in the passage of everyday life.  Learning to pray and speak to God and learning to see God’s replies in His Word and His world are keys to creating a deeper spiritual life.
Our spiritual life though is not complete without strengthening our relationships to other people.  Many of us are living lives estranged from family and friends due to problems from the past.  Having the courage to do our part to mend these fractures is a part of spiritual growth.  We cannot claim to love God whom we have not seen if we cannot find it within ourselves to love our fellow man that we have seen.  Each one of us most likely knows of some relationship we are in that is strained.  Why not choose this week to work on that relationship?  God has never promised us that our relationship with Him or others would be easy, but He did reveal that is it is relationships that bring all the value to our lives.   Praying over our strained relationships is a good start to reconciliation.  On his deathbed, rarely does someone regret a lack of material possessions, but many times a man regrets not attempting to make things right with a parent, a sibling or a child.  Let us resolve to do all we can to build and repair our relationships because they truly are the most important part of our lives.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Truly...

"In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God."
~Elisabeth Elliot

Monday, June 25, 2012

Morals & Receptivity


Christ encountered much more opposition during His ministry from religious people than from those who were considered worldly.  As He healed and taught from place to place, He was met with criticism and rejection from the religious Jewish leaders while He was embraced and encouraged by the tax collectors, prostitutes and marginalized members of 1st century society.
There is a lesson in this truth for us.  As we reach out to others with the Gospel, we may feel that attempting to influence people who are already religious is best.  We rationalize that if they already are “good” people then they do not have far to go to become Christians.  While this seems to make sense at first thought, it often soon becomes clear that it is the “goodness” of people that is responsible for keeping them separate from Christ.  When people believe they are already good enough and trust in their own goodness for salvation, they see no need of Christ.  On the other hand, those who see no goodness in themselves realize that they must trust in the goodness of God for their deliverance.  We should give these people a chance to hear the Gospel by taking the teachings of Christ into our everyday world.  Some people that would not feel comfortable in a religious service can still be greatly influenced by our lives, words and example.
Never think that someone is too worldly to receive the Gospel.  Often it is those who we see as most sinful who are also the people most looking for the change in life that only God can bring.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Update

It has been sometime since I have given a general update on what is happening with me.  I understand that many of my readers see me regularly in offline life, but others of you find your only connection to me here.  So an appraisal of the way things are going is in order.

Spiritually, I continue to grow and learn and change with the passage of time.  I would advise you not to trust someone too highly who never alters a view or finds some new understanding.  Our church work at Lebanon is going well and many people are now in a better, deeper relationship with Christ than they ever have been before.  I am honored and humbled to be one of the facilitators for that growth.  We have several people who have recently started attending with us and we hope that our efforts for good, both in Dresden and around the world, will bear fruit.

My family life continues to be good.  Living so close to my physical family has been a great blessing to me.  I truly cherish the times we are able to share together.  My parents and my sister have moved beyond the realm of blood relations and are now my dearest friends.

My health, as many of you know, has been of a prime concern for the last several years.  With continuing medication and therapy, I am living closer to being symptom-free than I have been in many years.  My illness had become one of the primary building blocks of my identity and I am thankful that now it has moved into the background for the moment.  I intend to be diligent and watchful and hope that I will never have to return to the horrors of a couple of years ago.  In dealing with a mood disorder, one can only control what can be controlled and pray and hope for good luck with the other factors.

I have recently turned 28 and, overall, am in a good place in my life.  I hope to build some new friendships and continue to grow in all areas of life.

As a reader of this blog, I want to thank you.  Knowing that someone expects a post each day encourages me to make the effort to share something here.  Know that everything I put forward from this platform is thoughtfully considered and prayerfully posted.

Have a great week!
-Will

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Attitude matters...

"It's one thing not to sin - it's another thing not to want to."
~Jacquelyn K. Heasly

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All You Need...

"If you have love, you don't need to have anything else, and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have."
~Sir James M. Barrie

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So true...

"Your talents are God's gifts to you.  What you do with your talents is your gift to God."
~Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

True enough...

"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment."
~Barry LePatner

Monday, June 18, 2012

10 years


It has been ten years since the St. Louis Cardinals' legendary announcer Jack Buck passed away.  Multiple generations of Cardinal fans grew up listening to Jack on KMOX and its affiliates.  Known for his gracious manner and caring spirit, Buck's legacy lives on in his five children: all of whom work in journalism.  Most notable of these his son, Joe, who commentates baseball and football coverage for FOX Sports.  We who grew up listening to Jack will always have the memories of summer nights as fathers and sons listening to the national pastime.  His faithful broadcasting partner, Mike Shannon, still brings us the games, but with the arrival of regional television coverage many of us now see the games on cable.  With Jack, we truly "saw" it on the radio.  Through his charity work and classy demeanor, Jack Buck gave back to the fans what they had given him: a mutual respect and appreciation that went beyond baseball.

That combination made Jack Buck who he was and "That's a winner!" could be said of the man himself and his legacy that continues in generations of Redbird fans everywhere.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!


Today is the day that our nation has set aside to honor fathers.  It is a special occasion that reminds us of something we all should be doing constantly: being grateful for the faithful men in our lives and the lessons they have taught us.  Christian fathers raised many of us and many of us are attempting to be Christian parents and grandparents.  What qualities do we remember about our dads and what qualities are we trying to pass on to our children?
Many of us remember our fathers as hard-working individuals.  Many fathers work long hours to provide for their growing families.  Other people remember sharing hobbies with their dads.  Fishing, watching sports, music and playing games are fond memories for lots of people.  It is the memories of our fathers as spiritual men however that form the most lasting impression on children.  Men who pray and who lead their homes with a Christian example are demonstrating the most important aspect of being a father: spiritual leadership.  Every dad should want to be able to say along with the Apostle Paul, “Imitate me even as I imitate Christ.”  When dads lead by example, moms and children will most likely follow.  All of us, fathers or not, need to be living the example of Jesus.  When people acknowledge the Christ in us they honor us by honoring Him. 
May God be blessed in our families and in our lives now and always.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Power of positive thinking...

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." 
~Paul in Galatians 5:22-23

Friday, June 15, 2012

Proper perspective...

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
~Matthew 6:33

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Perspective

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
~Helen Keller

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meeting ends, Mission begins

The congregation for which I preach finished our Gospel meeting last evening.  I am always reminded each time we have a special event just how much work and effort goes into pulling off a 5-service meeting complete with fellowship meal, graduation presentation and visiting preacher.  Everyone worked together to make the meeting a success and for that I am thankful.

When we have a meeting like this we often invite friends and family who are unchurched or underchurched to come and join us.  We try to put our best foot forward and make everyone feel welcome.  We place a lot of emphasis on trying to have a perfect event.  If we are not careful, however, we can fall right back into our old habits once the special event passes.  We may go back into a lazy pattern of attendance, a unfocused attitude toward study or even a less than hospitable spirit at our services.  We must remember that though the meeting has ended, the mission is really just beginning.  The church always needs to be a place that reaches out to the hurting, the sin-sick and the sorrowful.  I hope our congregation can maintain the attitude and focus we have shown the last few days.  I also hope for you that you will be able to realize the strength of who we are as believers is not measured by crowds at Gospel meetings but by the efforts we make, day in and day out, to live for Him.

Have a blessed week!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In Honor of the Tony Awards...



Ad featuring the voice of Judy Collins which ran in the days following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Live theatre is something not comparable to any other experience.  Drama takes us into unbelievable situations and provides us with the tools to emerge as more complete people.  As the Tony Awards air tonight on CBS, we pay tribute to NYC and the theatre community.  Enjoy the show!

Remember...

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
~George Eliot

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What Makes You You

“It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” 
~J.K. Rowling

Friday, June 8, 2012

Have a great weekend!

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  If you are in the area, join us at the Lebanon church of Christ for our Gospel Meeting, Friday, June 8, 2012 - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 7:30 PM each night.

Be safe and enjoy God's blessings this weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Champions

In this season of the year, many different types of winners are being crowned.  In the sports' world, horse-racing, spring college sports and professional basketball are all in the process of competitions to decide a champion.  In the academic setting, schools have recently named valedictorians at their graduation exercises.  Many beauty pageants are held in June and they each will crown a winner from among the contestants.  One aspect of these competitions is that by their nature there can be only one champion, winner, top student or queen.  In almost every case, someone wins and all others lose.  Competition can be brutal and can leave those who do not win upset and disappointed.

We are often guilty of taking this type of approach to the spiritual realm.  We live our spiritual lives in constant comparison to one another.  We believe that the better we do the better we will look and the further ahead we will be of everyone else.  If anyone ever seemingly had a corner on spiritual competition it was Paul.  By his own admission, he had done more than anyone else in his day for the Kingdom of God.  Paul, however, realized that the Christian competition is not against other believers but against one's own nature.  He noted in II Timothy that he had indeed fought the fight, finished the course and kept the faith.  He knew he would receive a crown, but he says then that the crown is not for him only but for all those who have longed to see the Lord.  Paul had done much with his talents and abilities, but he notes that any believer who fulfills God's will for his life is a winner.

We need to stop the endless comparisons to one another.  Our only standard needs to be the example of Jesus, and while we cannot reach His perfection on our own, He offers His blood to cleanse us that we may win the race.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Broadway on Beale


With my next scheduled NYC trip over a year away, it is time to embrace the national tour of Mamma Mia! tonight in Memphis.  Looking forward to a great evening with my family and the disco-crazed crowd at the Orpheum.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
~Paul to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Practice of Patience

“We need to learn and embrace patience. Patience is a holy key that will unlock the door to a more fulfilling life. Behind the blessed door of patience are found better parents, powerful teachers, great businessmen, wise masters, and a more compassionate world.” 
~Steve Maraboli

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Technical difficulties


Technology is a great blessing, but it can also become a burden when it doesn’t work as it should.  My new car features voice commands (similar to the Siri for iPhone that is currently popular).  The computer within the car responds to the sound of your voice and calls people, plays music, gives the weather and has other useful features.  When things are going well, what you say is what you get.  When you mumble or have background noise, the result is less than accurate.  
I think sometimes our spiritual lives are very similar.  We are blessed to have many versions of the Bible, many Christian friends, a loving church family and to live in a place where being a Christian is not dangerous.  We have many advantages and when we use them correctly, we are blessed and are able to grow.  The problem comes in the fact that although we have all these blessings at our fingertips, we often do not take advantage of them.  We muddle through our days without enlisting the comfort of the Scripture and the counsel of Christian friends.  We fail to speak up and ask for prayer and we fail to use all the opportunities for fellowship we are presented with.  The advantages we have around us do not help us unless we resolve to use them to their full potential.  Let us resolve to get the most out of the blessings and opportunities we have available.  When we gain strength from these blessings, we can then turn and help others as well.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Remember when things are going well...

"Talent is God-given, be humble.
Fame is man-given, be thankful.
Conceit is self-given, be careful."