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C&S media publications | 972-442-5515 OPINION & COMMENTARY January 20-21, 2016 5A

article-pic Small Things

My dad was a drum and bugle corps fan. I remember as a child going with him to witness competitions between bands…anyone who has seen the movie ‘Drumline’ knows what this is like. There came a time when my dad wanted to start a small drum line with myself and some neighborhood boys. We were all excited to get some uniforms and begin receiving drum lessons so that we could play like the professionals. When our instructor arrived, he taught us a very simple routine that only required us to hit the practice pad twice, and we were to practice that routine all week long. Needless to say we were disappointed, as we were expecting to learn the routines that would dazzle the audience.

The Bible tells us that David was a shepherd boy with no idea that he would be king of Israel. He didn’t realize his potential, but God did. While David’s brothers were all being looked at to be the next possible king, David was in a distant place with the sheep…he was being faithful to the simple menial task that was set before him. Many of us have great potential and passion to do enormous things for God, but we often despise the small tasks that God has already given us, while expecting God to give us more. David had a heart for God, but we also see the character of his faithfulness in action through the small thing…the tending of the sheep. As much as we wanted to amaze the crowd with our smooth drumming sounds, we failed to realize that it was the practice and faithfulness of the simple hand movements that would posture us and build a foundation for the professional skills of the future.

Jesus tells the story of the talents in Matthew 25. He tells how the master distributed various amounts of wealth to different servants. But the master compliments and rewards one particular servant in verse 23 saying,“…Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Did you notice something? The master called him a ‘good and faithful’ servant. The servant took care of what the master gave him and increased it. And as a result, the master rewarded him with being in charge of many things.

Not only was there an increase in the servant’s responsibilities, but we see a couple of other principles that are applicable to our lives. First we see that the master was looking for these character qualities (good and faithful) and not looking for the amount of money that was produced. We often get caught up in wanting to do something impressive that everyone desires to see, rather than being good and faithful over something that not many people will observe. Secondly, the servant is told to share in the master’s happiness. In other words, there’s a sense of joy from the master concerning the faithfulness of his servants.

Here’s the point…we must remember to focus on executing the small things. God has something planned for us that we could not imagine, and He wants us to do greater things. But God often waits to open the door of opportunity for us when He sees that we’re good stewards over that which He has already given us. Look around for the ‘small things’ in your life that you haven’t handled very well, change your action toward it and watch God open the doors of opportunity for you to grow and succeed beyond imagination!
 

C&S media publications | 972-442-5515 OPINION & COMMENTARY March 9 – 10, 2016 5Aarticle-pic

The Walk of A Lifetime

As consumers, we want to spend our money on things that last…preferably for a lifetime. I’ve had an account with a nationwide auto repair center for twenty-four years now. And over the years I’ve learned that some of their best deals are the ‘lifetime’ services they provide…services such as lifetime brake parts or lifetime wheel alignments. When you purchase this ‘lifetime’ service, it means that the repair is covered for as long as you own the vehicle, with some exceptions. I’ve used these type services on several occasions, and it’s worth it!

 

Enoch was a unique character during biblical days. He was one of only two people who did not experience death. But what was so special about Enoch and why was he so privileged? Well, one of the things the Bible tells us about Enoch was that he walked with God. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11 (commonly known as the ‘Hall of Faith’) we see a list of all of the great men and women who had great faith in God and experienced extraordinary things in their lives. As the author lists all of these people, right in the middle of the list (verse 6), he inserts this pivotal statement: ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God…’ He places this statement right after describing Enoch in verse 5 as one who ‘pleased God.’ Enoch’s walk with God was obviously different…so different that he did not experience death.

 

God swooped Enoch up and into heaven because Enoch pleased God, and verse 6 reveals how he pleased God…Enoch had faith. Now, I’m pretty sure you’d like to experience what Enoch did…not having to die but just walk right up into heaven…what a blast! There’s not much said about Enoch in scripture, but this one thing stuck out to me. Twice in Genesis chapter 5, it states that, ‘Enoch walked faithfully with God.’ The term ‘walk’ implies a steady progressive relationship with God. Most of us are so busy with home, work, school, kids, sports and the Dallas Cowboys that our relationship with God tends to be a bunch of sprints, rather than a steady walk. That’s not the kind of relationship that God wants with us…He wants a steady progressive relationship, not a bunch of intermittent sprints. If we’re really going to please God, we must have a steady progressive relationship with Him, not a casual acquaintance. Walking with God is the business of a lifetime, not the performance of an hour.

 

How long is a lifetime? From God’s perspective, it’s a relationship that lasts forever and is designed to get better with time. Lifetime parts and warranties are great deals for us as consumers, but there’s something much greater…it’s a lifetime walk with God. This is not an excuse to be slow in your relationship with Him, but it is an encouragement to be steady and progressive. Look for spiritual areas in your life that have become inconsistent and sporadic, and submit them to the Lord with a plan of steadiness and progression. Maybe it’s establishing a consistent prayer life or routine Bible reading and church attendance. Do a self-examination…is your life pleasing to God the way that Enoch’s was? If not, don’t hesitate any longer, because every day that goes by you’re missing out on the relationship and walk of a lifetime!

C&S media publications | 972-442-5515 OPINION & COMMENTARY April 27 – 28, 2016 5A

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Right Things Begin With You

 

It was three decades ago when I first saw the woman who is now my wife. I’ll have to admit that I was in awe when I saw her…and even though I knew absolutely nothing about her, she was captivating in a way that I could not explain. As shy and introverted as I was, I made a choice (and a good one I might add), to pursue her…I wanted to know everything there was to know about her.

We all have a lot of ‘wants’ in our lives…as a matter of fact, our hearts are filled with so many wants that we could probably never have them all filled. Just imagine someone giving you the opportunity to have whatever you want…you probably wouldn’t know where to begin! That’s because, in many cases, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. In other words, we think or feel that there are many things that we want or even need, but later find that we really don’t want or need those things as much as we thought. I find this to be true during Christmas time…children beg and plead for things that they want, only to find those things buried in a closet a month later.

The scriptures tell the story of a man who had a want…a big want; he had been sick for thirty-eight years. He was amongst a crowd of sick people who laid around a pool where healing would take place from time to time. Simply, whoever got into the pool first when the water was stirred would be healed. This sounds easy enough, but obviously it wasn’t because Jesus asked this man a very pivotal question at the end of John 5:6. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a very smart question that was asked by Jesus. Many of us would obviously agree that being sick for thirty-eight years is an extremely long time, and the man’s presence at the healing pool was an apparent indication of his desire to be well. But Jesus learned that this man had been lying there in the same condition for a very long time. Why was this man not yet healed?

When Jesus asked the question “Do you want to get well?”, He asked it for a reason. Better put, Jesus was asking “Do you want to change your situation?” Maybe there was something about this man that Jesus either saw outwardly or inwardly that caused him to ask the question. Yes, the man was in the place to be healed, yet he was still sick. Did he really want to get well? In other words, was there an authentic desire in his mind and heart to get well, or had he sadly positioned himself amongst other sick people and subconsciously become comfortable in his state of being? Did he really want his situation to change?

I find the state of this man like many of us today…there’s something we want to accomplish, but not really doing all that we can to see it to fruition. We’ve been in our current unwanted state for a long period of time with no change. Maybe we have the right resources and are surrounded with the right people, but there’s something within that is hindering us from being in the place or state that God desires us to be. Maybe it’s to be in a better financial state, better physical condition or most importantly, better relationship with God. Whatever it is, are you doing all that you could possibly do to change your situation? What’s hindering you, because Jesus is asking you the same question He asked the sick man in John chapter 5, “Do you truly want to change your situation?” Jesus is here to help you just as He did the sick man.

C&S media publications | 972-442-5515 OPINION & COMMENTARY August 3 – 5, 2016 5A

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The Power of Bacon

Media headlines have taken a major shift as our nation experiences division. These divisions are fueled by race and a hatred of a much needed governing force within our communities…police officers. Keywords that have been constantly used are hatred, black, white, cops, racist, abuse, prejudice, unity, respect…you get the picture. But what are we to do and how are we to think concerning the issues of an increasingly divided nation?

The best example I can think of is found in scripture. You may remember that the Apostle Peter was Jewish…he was taught Jewish tradition and culture in his home and from his family, he knew the holidays, celebrations and even dietary laws surrounding being a Jew. A couple of those laws included not mingling with Gentiles and abstaining from pork because it was considered unclean food. Imagine that Peter never experienced bacon or a good old fashioned ham sandwich! But one day God spoke to Peter through a vision and told him to eat animals that were considered unclean according to dietary law. Peter immediately resisted because he was a good practicing Jew that knew his culture. But God responded to Peter with these words,

“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean”

(Acts 10:15). This vision changed Peter’s life forever!

You may be asking what does bacon and ham sandwiches have to do with the division of our nation? A lot actually…see, Peter’s vision changed him in two ways. First, it changed his diet! He could now eat pork, but the true essence of God’s message was that Peter should no longer separate himself from Gentiles. Gentiles, who were once considered ‘impure’ due to Peter’s culture, should now be accepted. Little did Peter know that God would use him to minister the gospel to some Gentiles. But here’s the deeper message…God was telling Peter to put aside his personal cultural agenda and embrace God’s greater agenda. God’s agenda is preeminent…it transcends all of the other agendas that we maintain. If we’re ever going to be united, we must first have one overarching agenda.

Every successful organization or sports team has one agenda. A football team consists of different players with varied backgrounds and skills…the guys on the defensive line are very different than the quarterback or wide receivers, but they all have one agenda, to get the ball into the end zone more times than their opponent. In order to accomplish this, they must put aside their personal agendas and pursue the transcending agenda of working together to win.

We must be careful not to elevate our personal agendas above God’s transcending agenda. When Peter embraced God’s agenda it didn’t change the fact that he was still a Jew and engaged in cultural activities, but he didn’t allow his cultural agenda to override or interfere with God’s greater agenda. And when he did, he was publicly rebuked for it (Galatians 2:14). Embracing God’s agenda didn’t change his culture, it changed his thinking and acting. We cannot have a black agenda, a white agenda or a blue agenda as our motive for who we are and what we do. We must embrace God’s transcending agenda because He’s the standard for everything that is morally good. This is the only way that our communities and our nation will ever be unified. Are you willing to put aside your personal agenda and embrace Christ’s agenda as preeminent in your life? If so, you’re a vessel that can be used toward a unified community and a unified nation.