Until the Nets are Full

3-26-2020

Good morning Church family! I am writing this blog as we enter into third week of dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic. On my way into the office, I learned from the radio that the unemployment numbers had just come out with nearly 3 million people applying for benefits. That’s not surprising when you drive through town and see all the vacant parking lots of businesses. The pain of this COVID 19 pandemic is far reaching. We have those whose health is failing and they are fighting off death. We have the non-profits like Renewal Ranch who give their lives to do a job that no one would sign up for losing funding. We have the business owner to the single mom who is a waitress feeling the seriousness of financial collapse. Despite all of this, we can rest assured that this has not caught God off guard. 

We can rest assured that God has a reason for all of the calamity of COVID 19. One of those reasons is found in Acts 17:27. Acts 17:27 says “God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.” Let me explain, no doubt many of you have gone to Walmart and have found the empty shelves. If you are looking to purchase bottled water, meat or toilet paper you had better get to Walmart when the truck is being unloaded. While the shelves at Walmart are empty for bottled water, meat and toilet paper, there is one more item that is quickly disappearing. This item is not found in the food section of Walmart but the book section. The book that is now all of a sudden flying off the shelves is the Bible. God is not allowing this virus to effect all of us in such a serious way because He is mad at us. He is allowing all of this to happen because He loves us. He is giving us a chance to reach out to Him. He is giving us all a chance to reset from our lives that have become so busy that we forgot Him. He is giving those who have never professed Him an opportunity one more time. Rest assured God has a reason for all of this!

I know each person reading this blog is feeling the pain of this virus either economically or physically. As many of you know, my family’s business is property management. I received a call a couple of weeks ago from a single mother who is a waitress that rents a duplex from us. She called saying she could not pay the rent that she was already two weeks behind on. She picked up extra hours at the restaurant but in 7 days she had only received $70 in tips. She normally received more than a $100 per day in tips. She then a few days later told me the restaurant that she had worked at for 10 years has shut down their doors for lack of business. This young mother was devastated and without hope. All I could do for her was point her to Jesus. In her desperation, she was willing to listen as I was able to point her scripture. Is her financial crisis terrible? Yes, it’s devastating to her. Is the fact that she cannot pay her rent hard on my family’s business? Yes, the bank will still want to be paid for the mortgage and I am guessing the property taxes and insurance man will expect payment regardless if we have been paid or not. But I am telling you, if this is what it takes for this young single unemployed mother to reach out to Jesus…it’s worth all the pain caused to all parties concerned!  Church family, rest assured God has a reason for COVID 19. That reason Is for people to find Him. The good news is that He is not far from anyone of us and whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!
 


3-24-2020

Can you name this city? At first, this city was not a place of much importance, but soon it acquired a high degree of prosperity. In part, that prosperity came because this city was on a major transportation highway. The city began to flourish because of its advantageous position on this road. This city had businesses popping up left and right to handle the influx of people wanting to move to this area. People also wanted to move to this city because of the school. The school was known as one of the greatest in the area. The fine arts building, stadium and gymnasium this city had were second to none. Many of the citizens of this city began trusting their wealth instead of trusting God. They began worshiping sports and put these events in front of worshiping God on Sunday. Can you name this city? Of course I am talking about the ancient city of Laodicea! What, did you think I was talking about Greenbrier? Eerily, Laodicea and its citizens sounds a lot like Greenbrier in many ways. So what’s the point and where is the city of Laodicea? This real city is in modern day Turkey but you can find out about what Jesus is telling this city in Revelation 3:14-22. Verse 17 says “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. ‘But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

 As we now struggle as a society to cope with COVID 19, might we consider that God is trying desperately to get our attention. It is obvious that we as a society have no control over this invisible and contagious virus. We can’t throw money at it and make it go away. We can’t hide from it in our beautiful new athletic arena or homes. This virus does not discriminate between those with wealth and those who struggle to survive on a daily basis. If you survive this virus, you as well as everyone will feel the adverse economic effects of shutting down an economy for weeks can do. No one will escape unscathed from COVID 19.  So what should we do right now as people.? Quite simply, we should repent. We should use this period of time to seriously reflect on how our sins have offended a Holy God. We should have this conversation with our children and admit with them failure of putting sports, careers, selfish pursuits and trusting in money instead of God. We should make a decision to turn from things that we know are not God honoring. We should listen to what Verse 19 says “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline, so be earnest and repent.”

In closing, I think we have much to consider during this crisis. 1) God is in control and He knows our needs. Let’s start trusting Him in ways we never have before. This is silly to say, but if we trust Him for our Salvation, why can’t we trust Him in this situation? 2) Know God is allowing this pandemic to happen because He loves us. John 3:16 proves He loves us. As a parent, I become furious at my children when they disobey, that doesn’t mean that I do not love my children. It means I want a course correction to take place for their own good. God is desperately trying to get our attention to turn to Him. 3) During this crisis God has given us a chance to reset.  A chance to slow down. A chance as a family to actually be together instead of the mad dash out the door to make the next sporting event. Let’s use this period of time to disciple our children. You have heard me say many times that approximately 75% of young people leave the faith by the end of their freshmen year of college. I think the major contributing factor to that statistic is we never disciple our children. We leave that responsibility to the Church. While the Church should share or accompany, the major responsibility lies on the parents to disciple. 4) If and when this pandemic ends, let’s not go back to our old selves. Let’s put God in front of sports, finances, careers and selfish pursuits! 



3-17-2020

It’s now clear that COVID-19 is a deadly serious global pandemic and all necessary precautions should be taken. So as Christians, how are we to deal with this trial in all of our lives? James speaks on this very subject to those early believers. Those early believers mentioned in James1:1 were “scattered” because of trial. Worse than what the world is experiencing with Corona Virus? We know that these early believers who were in Rome were dipped in animal fat, lit on fire and hung on poles for the street night lights used in the city. Some of these early believers had wild animal skins attached to their bodies and were chased down and eaten by dogs. Still others were made sport in a stadium to be eaten by lion’s while the crowd cheered on. These early believers knew what trials were all about! James’ message to these early believers is the same for us. James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Joy? Joy is not exactly what we thinking about with COVID 19. People are losing jobs, retirement accounts are evaporating, and some have lost life. However, verse 3 in James explains that trials are a “testing” of our faith. The word “testing” here is from the silversmiths of that day. They would test the silver by putting it under extreme heat and turn it into a liquid form. The impurity found in the silver would surface to the top and was scooped away. The impurities were scooped away and what was left was the bright silver. So pure was the silver that the silversmith could see his reflection in the liquid silver. That’s what God is doing for us when we are under trials. You see God is not trying to make us happy during times of trials, He is trying to make us Holy like Him! The ideas here is that through testing, we rid ourselves of the things that are not of Him. James 1:3&4 tells us “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its works so that you may mature and complete, not lacking anything. God wants to be like the silversmith looking at his reflection at the silver. God wants to look at us and see a reflection of Him!  So what can we learn from this trial we are going through? 1)God maybe using this as a reset in our lives. To purify us and and rid ourselves of things that are taking us away from Him. Those things can be hobbies, activities or careers that we have made as a god with a little “g”. 2)God maybe using this time for us as believers to help others who do not know Him. In this mass hysteria, people are looking for hope. Let them know your hope comes from a personal relationship with Jesus. People may never be so open to hear where your hope comes from than now. When people are flat on their backs, they are in a perfect spot to look to up to God. 3) Let’s not act like huddled frightened sheep constantly thinking about COVID 19. If COVID 19 is going to take our lives, let it take our lives while we are praising God, loving others, praying, teaching, working, reading, playing with our children and laughing with friends. 4) Consider it pure joy in what we are going through now. Look through the lens of eternity. Don’t get so caught up in the 70,80 or 90 years we will live on this earth. Look with an eternal perspective.

I love all of you my Church family. Put your hope in the finished work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



3-13-2020

What is outsourcing? The dictionary defines outsourcing as the ability to
obtain goods or services from an outside or foreign supplier in place of
an internal source. If you are in business you know how important it is to
outsource. For example, if you were to examine the business owned by my
friend A.J Wright you would find that his company is a welding service.
You have no doubt passed by his business on HWY 65 and have noticed all of
the trailers on his lot. Trailers are built by welding them together but
the trailers (most) on A.J’s lot are not built by him. Why is that?
Because A.J’s business is a welding service and not a trailer
manufacturing business. A.J certainly has the ability to build one of the
best trailers in the world, however he has found that by outsourcing he
can focus on his welding service and sell trailers that someone else has
build. Outsourcing is a brilliant business move for A.J. While
“outsourcing” is a brilliant solution for business owners, it’s a terrible
thing when it comes to “discipling” your children. Yet “outsourcing” is
what a majority of parents do when it comes “discipling.”
I shared a couple of weeks ago about a father than came to me with his
greatest regret in life. He did what most people do in the Church. He and
his wife got their kids to salvation and then after that they turned the
discipling over to the Church. After the kids were saved, they got caught
up in the busyness of life. Their kids did sports and other activities. As
parents they had their own hobbies and careers. Life was so full and fast
and exhausting that there was no time in the home to study scripture and
disciple their children. So they did what most folks do…they outsourced
and made sure the kids were in Church when possible. What this man has
discovered is that God never designed for his children to be discipled
completely by the Church. God’s design was for he and his wife in the home
to get this done. Proverbs 22:6 says “train up a child in the way he
should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” One of the
best ways to train up a child is to place scripture in their hearts. Psalm
119:11 says “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin
against thee.”
Last Sunday evening we had 10 boys stand in front of the Church and recite
by memory Proverbs 3:1-6. This happened because the parents of these 10
boys made an eternal investment in their sons life to disciple and
encourage them. What about you as a parent reading this insert? Are you
“outsourcing” or are you getting the job done that God has designed for
you to do? What I can tell you for sure is this. Your kids will be gone
and raised in the blink of an eye. My reason for writing this weeks insert
is so that someday you won’t wake up realizing the greatest regret of your
life was not investing eternally in your child’s life. Start today in your
home being the disciple maker God has created you to be! Start today!



3-4-2020

Hiroo Onada was an imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer who fought in World War II. He was assigned to serve on a island in the Philippians.  General MacArthur and the U.S. troops were supporting the Filipino army and supplying resources. Hiroo and his men were stationed on that island to take the Philippines for Japan. Hiroo was instructed by his superior officer not to surrender. If the enemy overtook them, he was to take his own life. Despite Hiroo and his soldiers fighting hard the Filipino and U.S. troops succeeded in securing the island on February 28th, 1945. All of the Japanese soldiers were either killed or captured. All except Hiroo and three of his men who fled to the jungle to hide. These four men had no way to attack an army so they adapted to the tactics of guerrilla warfare in pursuit of their mission. Over the course of several years, the men found pamphlets stating the war was over. Even airplanes flew over with banners attached saying the war was over. However, Hiroo and his men thought this was a trick in order to get them to surrender. Hiroo and his men ignored these messages of the war being over and continued to hide and would not give up.  For decades, Hiroo and his small band of men fought the locals and police on this island. All of these men eventually died with the exception of Hiroo.  A Japanese student by the name of Norio Suzuki had read about all the stories of Hiroo and in 1972 he set out to find him. Norio Suzuki eventually found Hiroo but despite his best efforts could not convince him that the war was over. Suzuki then returned to Japan to find Hiroo’s commanding officer whose name was Major Yoshimi Taniguchi. Major Taniguchi had since left the military and was now a civilian. Upon hearing about Hiroo, Major Taniguchi flew to the island and located him. He told Hiroo that the war had been over since 1945. On March 9th of 1972, Hiroo handed over his sword and rifle. Twenty seven years after the battle was over, Hiroo finally surrendered.  Hiroo’s story reminded me of Paul and how God tirelessly pursued him. Despite God’s efforts Paul (Saul) would not surrender. Acts 26:14 says “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Is it hard to kick against the goads?”A goad was long sharpened stick with a sharpened piece of iron on its tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. To kick against the sharpened piece of iron would be painful. Paul literally saw the “light” at that moment and surrendered it all to God!  How long will you kick against the goads? How long will you hide in the jungle like Hiroo? To run from God’s endless pursuit is futile. Can’t you see fighting God for control only creates more problems? Can’t you see the battle is already won by God? What do you need to surrender to give your life fully to God? What relationship or idol or foolish pursuit needs to be surrendered? Let me close with Proverbs 8:35 which says “For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.” I am personally so grateful that in the summer of 1986 I quit fighting God and let Him have it all. How about you?



3-1-2020

I heard an interesting story this week told by Jonathan Evans who is the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys. When Jonathan was a young man his father took him to the big city of Dallas to look at a construction site of a skyscraper building. Jonathan said his father took him as close to the constructions site tape as possible to look at the massive hole that was dug into the earth to serve as a foundation for the building. His father told him the deeper they dig, the higher the building could rise.  Jonathan’s father is a very wise man and used this construction site visit as an illustration as to why we need to dig deep into God’s Holy Word! He told his son that the deeper he dug into God’s word, the higher he would excel in his walk with God. The deeper he would dig into God’s word, he would find long life and peace. The deeper he dug into God’s word, he would find favor and high esteem with God and man. The deeper he dug into God’s word, he would not trust his own understanding but God’s. The deeper he dug into God’s word, he would acknowledge God and He would direct his paths. Jonathan’s father is a very wise man. What he did was set his son up for success in both this world and the world to come. What Jonathan’s father did was give his son a foundation worth building on. A foundation that was not built on sand but on the rock of Jesus. Matthew 7:24 says “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  This week I received a very difficult call from a father whom I admire and love greatly. This man and his wife raised their children in Church. If the doors were open, they were present. Once their children accepted Christ as their personal savior, the pressure was off. What they did is what I as a youth pastor see most folks do. After the salvation of their children they began to get on with their life. Church was still a steady thing, but the activities of kids (sports,etc), hobbies and full time careers left little energy to have family time sharing and memorizing scripture. They left that duty to the Church. This father has raised his children. One whom has had a set back. This father searched what he could have done differently and he came to this conclusion that he wanted me to share with you. He told me he would do anything to take back those “influencing” years. He would have backed off things that zapped the energy out of him (and the kids) that could have been used for the life giving energy of God’s Holy word. He regrets not having those important teaching times inside of the home, on a hunting trip, inside the car traveling, around the kitchen table or before the kids went to bed. This father has convinced me and I hope he has convinced you! Spend that time with your children reading them scripture. Memorize scripture with them.  Let them see evidence of you yourself reading scripture.  Explain to them your favorite verse. Explain why God’s word is so important to you.   Start this legacy in your home. Tonight could not be soon enough!