Where’s Your Dependency?

There’s a lot of debate going on about government’s role in people’s lives. Many decry what they consider an over dependency on government in every area of life.

Sadly, I see a similar trend in Christian circles today: a growing dependency by Christians on what someone else says about the Bible. What someone else has written about how to ______________. You fill in the blank. 

While I certainly recognize ministry gifts in our midst, such as teachers and evangelists, they are not to take the place of our own personal time with God and His Word. 

The Bible says that the entrance of God’s Word gives light (Psalm 119:130). Light is knowledge. God’s knowledge is worth having.

Here are three suggestions for receiving the knowledge of God:

First, get alone with God. Talk to Him as you would to someone who knows everything about you, which God already does. 

Sometimes, talking to God is easier than hearing from Him. Just remember that God also has things He wants to say to us.

My second suggestion is get into God’s Word for yourself. Just you, God, and His Word. The more you do this the quieter your mind will become. With a quiet mind you’ll better hear from God.

While all Scripture is good, our main focus should be on the Epistles-letters written to fellow Christians, from Romans to Jude. It is in the Epistles that we learn why Jesus died, as well as our rights and responsibilities as sons and daughters of God.

Thirdly, Get a pad of paper and something to write with. God will share truths with anyone who’ll quieten his/her mind to hear what He saying to ones spirit, including yours. Simple, yet rewarding.

Again, God put good teachers and preachers in the Church universal to inform and inspire us. But not at the expense of us hearing from God for ourselves in times of prayer and study.

If you’re already doing these three things, good. Perhaps seeing these suggestions will help you-or someone you know-to hear from God for himself/herself. While still being blessed from the preaching and teaching of those gifted of God to do so.

Six and 76

For years the name Billy Graham has been a household word. Say his name to many and visions of stadiums still come. Stadiums where faith-not football-was preached, where thousands responded to a simple Gospel message given by, as he was often called, Mr. Graham.

There was another person named Billy who preached the Gospel. This Billy preached in the late 1800s and up unto 1935, the years after Billy Graham received salvation. The other Billy was Billy Sunday, a one-time professional baseball player who became the leading evangelist of his day.

Billy Sunday was influenced by J. Wilber Chapman whose ministry, in turn, was encouraged through that of one F.B. Meyer. Meyer’s own ministry grew under the tutelage of Dwight L. Moody who was won to Christ by his Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, in 1858. 

In Charlotte, North Carolina, one of Billy Sunday’s converts was a young man by the name of Mordecai Ham. I read that in 1934 Billy Sunday was invited to preach in Charlotte but couldn’t. Instead, Mordecai Ham, himself now a minister, came and ministered. In one of those services 16 year-old Billy Graham gave his life to Christ. 

Six individuals over 76 years. Each one obedient to go and speak life to multitudes, or the one. Too often we look at numbers for marking success. God’s markings may be more on the one, the seed of many to come. Your faithfulness to God’s plan for your life may be marked more by that one than those masses. 

Edward Kimball, Dwight L. Moody, F.B. Meyer, J. Wilber Chapman, Billy Sunday, Mordecai Ham, and Billy Graham would, no doubt, agree.

What Season Are You In?

As I write, it’s cold and wet outside. Surface conditions could be worse if this rain turns to snow. After all, my calendar tells me that it’s winter. 

Winter is a season in Oklahoma where outside conditions remind us of the wisdom of having warm clothes to wear, and actually wearing them.

Spring, Summer, and Fall comprise the remaining seasons all of us live in. Regardless of where you live you will go through all four seasons-hopefully many times. The more seasons you go through the longer you’ve been living.

Here are some things about natural seasons: 

  1. You don’t skip seasons. It’s Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, in that order.

  2. It’s to your advantage to recognize the season that you’re in. Grass is best mowed without snow on it. Christmas lights in July? Wait awhile. 

  3. Your actions in the present season affect the ones coming next. Spring planting affects summer cultivation and fall harvest. Works every time.

These same principles apply to our lives, spiritually speaking. 

Your winter may be a time of preparation for the next season God has for you. Your spring may be a time of planting time, talent, and/or other resources for a harvest of promotion or other increase in your fall. Your summer may be a season of maintaining/guarding what you’ve planted. Your fall may be a season of harvest after seasons of preparation, planting, and patience. With God not all seasons are the same length.

Not everything is measured by seasons. Getting along is not a season. Neither is being nice or walking in love. No, these are constants. 

Spiritually speaking, what season are you in? Ecclesiastes 3 states that there is a time for every purpose under Heaven. What we do for God involves seasons. It’s not always winter or summer. Spring may seem to go on forever, but harvest time WILL come, if we stay at it (Galatians 6:9).

Recognizing and correctly responding to the season you’re in right now can affect both the length and frequency seasons in your own walk with God. Hopefully this post will help you identify and flourish in the season you’re in, as well as show you things for the season ahead.

My Christmas Suggestion

Thanksgiving Day has passed. On to Christmas, with festive displays, seasonal smells, and presents given and received. On the surface I see nothing wrong with this. I like this season.

But I have a problem with those who refuse to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. Indeed, some intentionally keep Christ out of Christmas, while (literally) banking on profiting from their products and or services finding homes for Christmas. Our homes. All at a price, of course. 

Here’s my Christmas suggestion:

All individuals, companies, and organizations promoting Christmas-related services and/or products must do the following, in order to have a “Christmas Permit”, to be permitted to profit from such services/products during the Christmas season which, for many, starts in August. Some even sooner:

  1. Have a signed statement prominently displayed on their website, windows, and/or vehicles stating their affirmation of Christmas being the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

2. Require all employees and vendors to say “Merry Christmas,” rather than “Happy Holidays.” 

Sound radical or ridiculous? Maybe, but requiring so would force those profiting from Christmas at least do so honestly. Those who choose not to wouldn’t be allowed to sell anything having to do with Christmas. 

Realistic? No, but that’s my Christmas suggestion. What’s yours?

What’s something you’d like to see to return more to the real meaning of Christmas?

What Really Matters in a House

Leave it to Beaver was a popular television series, that aired from 1957 to 1963. Those who watched the original programs or reruns may recognize the outside of the Cleaver residence. Nice house for the day.

The truth about the house is that the outside was just that: a movie set front for the Cleaver residence. There were no actual rooms inside. No places for children to explore. It was a made-for-TV front. Nothing more than a house’s front, that had no place to enter and enjoy.

People’s lives are like houses. The body is the outside, hiding the real person on the inside. The outside roof may be well designed and insulated, but I wouldn’t want to live on it, would you? There may be beautiful windows, allowing light to shine in on the interior, but outside windows fail to convey how charming the inside rooms really are.

Getting to know the inside of a person is like coming to appreciate the interior of a beautiful home: the inside-not the outside-should be the focus. Instead of living and dining rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms, the “rooms” in people contain dreams, aspirations, gifts and talents, as well as hopes for the future. All worth knowing and appreciating.

As with houses, our focus on people should be them, not the outside of the “house” they live in. Sometimes changes to our outside cause focus to be on that, rather than what’s on the inside. No matter much “paint” or changes are made to ones outside it’s just that-the outside. 

Over time a house’s front may undergo many changes. The same is true concerning a person yet, like a house, the person’s real value is found in getting aquatinted with and appreciating his/her “rooms”-those things of great value which make that person special in the eyes of the beholder. 

The inside of a house-and person-is what really matters to those looking for real value. The fake fronts, the facades? Let’s leave them to Beaver.

Lessons Learned From Puzzles

My wife is good at puzzles. Most 500-1000 piece puzzles are “conquered” in several hours, spread out over a few days. Usually during holiday breaks.

Over the years Pamela has learned a few “tricks” of successful puzzle solving. No matter how many pieces-no matter how challenging a puzzle appears to be-my wife always starts with the frame. Always; no exceptions. Once the frame is in place she knows that all other pieces have to fit, somewhere within the frame.

Some of the puzzles my wife solves have trees or other objects with similar colors and shapes to them. From a distance the pieces can appear as punishment for buying the puzzle. These take more time to overcome, for similar-looking pieces to eventually fit together.

At times life may seems like a puzzle. Pictures on the puzzle box cover are like the lives people dream about: they’re a whole lot easier to look at than to be completed in ones own life. The bigger the dream the more “pieces” there are to have in place.

Life can seem like a giant, complex puzzle. But like any puzzle, it’s easier to fit the pieces together when the frame’s in place. It’s then a matter of knowing where to put other pieces in the frame. Still challenging, but now much more workable.

Each successful life has a frame, a border that defines both its possibilities and limits. A life’s best frame is God’s Word: what God says about who you are and what you have, in Christ, and what you can do through Christ. Good “pieces.”

This frame holds the rest of your life together. No pieces go outside the frame. It’s a frame that’s just right for every piece of your life.  Start with your frame.

The time it takes for the pieces of your life to fit together depends on when you want to start. This ministry is helping people in framing their lives for eternity. Feel free to check out our website for more simple pieces of knowledge (information), suitable for framing.

Another Hero of Success

My previous post mentioned Daniel Nash as a hero of success, one who prayed much for the success of Charles Finney’s meetings. Today I want to share another hero of success, one who labored much behind the scenes for the success of one of this country’s best-known evangelists.

The name Oral Roberts is, to many, synonymous with tent crusades, television specials, and a university that bears his name. But who ever heard of Collins Steele? Who was he, and what was his connection to Oral Roberts?

For a time, Oral Roberts held crusades under various tents, one of which could seat 20,000. These “canvas cathedrals” were massive, requiring many men to spend long hours setting up and preparing the remote facilities for services. The man in charge of these operations was Collins Steele. Collins made sure that the tent was property set up, kept safe during services, and taken down after meetings were over. The loaded tent sections were then transported to the next meeting site.

Prior to a dinner being attended with my wife, I asked Collins Steele what it was like working to set the tent up. There was a long pause, making me wonder if I had been wrong to ask the question. With a far away look in his eyes Collins finally said in a quiet voice, “It was a lot of work.” No further explanation was needed.

With all the attention on the finished product-thousands of people being ministered to-Collins Steele stayed in the background with others, supplying his part in ensuring the success of hundreds of evangelistic meetings for the glory of God.

Like Daniel Nash, Collins Steele labored behind the scenes, out of view of the spotlight and crowds. Unseen to people, but never to God. Another hero of success.

Maybe you feel like you’re working in obscurity, unseen by others. But you’re not. Everything you do is noticed by the One who views success as being faithful, right where you’re at. I value people laboring behind the scenes. People like Collins Steele.

So does God.

Real Heroes of Success

For all the success those in front of the camera enjoy, that success  is made possible by the efforts of those laboring behind the scenes. Lighting, sound, makeup, and costuming are but a few of the numerous areas critical to a product’s success on the screen. Rarely-if ever-seen, those in these and other areas are real heroes of a work’s finished product.

It’s the same with God. Too often results are looked at without comprehending the process. The most important parts of any process are people. People like Daniel Nash and Collins Steele. 

Father Daniel Nash was a Presbyterian minister who was the main person of prayer behind the highly successful meetings of Charles G. Finney in the early 1800s. Arriving weeks before Finney’s services were to being, Father Nash, occasionally accompanied by another person of prayer, would spend his time in prayer on the behalf of those in need of salvation, and for a move of God in the services. 

For all of Finney’s preaching ability, the behind-the-scenes prayers of Father Nash and a few others was what made the real-and lasting-difference. Church historians agree that 80% of those won to Christ under Finney’s ministry stayed faithful to God. But that success would not have been possible had Finney not had the prayer backing of Father Nash. 

One measure of Father Nash’s prayers was that after his death in 1831, Finney never had the same evangelistic success he enjoyed from the fruit of Father Nash’s prayers. Another reason we pray for our church services. Their success is so dependent on the prayers of people like you and me.

During Finney’s 1830 meetings in Rochester, New York, nearly the whole town got saved. Even today The Charles Finney School is in Rochester, named in the honor of one whom God used mightily to win a city to Christ. 

Only eternity, however, will tell the part of Father Daniel Nash, the one who never attended Finney’s meetings, choosing rather to pray behind the scenes for the seen to succeed. For me, a real hero of success.

Our next post will cover Collins Steele, another behind-the-scenes hero. Join me.