Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rise And Shine

Rise And Shine                                           10-27-17

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV) 1  Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

I posed to myself and others this week the old maxim about the need for a reason or a purpose for getting out of the bed each morning.As my buddy says,"you have to have a reason to get up in the morning." I believe that statement in it's entirety and I will tell you why.

Quite a few years ago,for unimportant reasons,I was battling depression.So much so, that I spent about two days in bed. Not sick. Not injured. Depressed. It was VERY real, it was VERY exhausting, it was VERY tiring,and in MY particular case, it was
VERY MUCH a case of SELF ABSORPTION!! And herein lieth the lesson.

I was thinking about a conversation that I had this week past. The more I thought about what I had said, I was taken with the number of times that I used those words. What words Ronnie?.......I What's that again?.................I I wish this. I think that. This is what is wrong with my life,my circumstances,my job,my heart. I I I I I,MY MY MY MY MY. Yes,I am exaggerating for effect but only to a degree.Here's how it goes.

 We go through a rough patch,or worse. It is VERY easy and convenient to start looking inward.What's wrong with ME. What's wrong with MY heart. Why am I like this. Why is this happening to ME. Folks,when searching around in our hearts trying to find out what is really in there,it is better left to the professional. What professional Ronnie? The only pro that counts.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) 23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

You start looking around in your heart and the deeper you or I go.. the worse it will get. Let God do the searching and allow Him to tell you what's wrong or right on the inside.I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes.Paraphrasing what someone once said,life is full of ordinary days,accentuated from time to time with the extraordinary. It's not the extraordinary days that we must concern ourselves with. It's the regimen of mundane,same ol' same ol' that present the challenge. You see it is the grind. The daily routine. Day after day,month after month,year after year. That is where we will face the temptation to get discouraged,to allow the spirit of depression a cracked door,to LOSE HOPE.

I know all too well those feelings. I routinely battle in that arena.I watched my dear mother fight those demons the last years of her life. If we are not careful,we will allow ourselves to become self absorbed and caught up in ourselves to the point that we can't see anything except our own problems and what not. You feelin' me here?

As my friend Pastor Doug used to always say,"you have to get involved in something bigger than yourself." We must become a part of a larger picture. Look again. 

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV) 1  Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

Isolation,or to separate yourself is unsound. Those words "breaks out" are better rendered defies. If we isolate ourselves we defy all sound judgment. One person defines it as "radical individuality."Absent the wisdom of many counselors,our only counselor is a fool....ourselves.

We have to be a part of a larger community. Something that takes our minds and hearts off of ourselves. Don't you think God has designed us that way? Family, job,church,on and on and on.We need to be involved with something bigger.We need to know that there are other folk out there that are experiencing the same tests,trials and also BLESSINGS that we are.

I remember the old church cliche that is so so true. God don't have any lone rangers. I know from personal experience. We get hurt. Family hurts,job hurts,church hurts on and on and on. If we pull away and isolate ourselves. If we move to our own private island, sooner or later we will turn in on ourselves and become so absorbed and filled with US that we won't have time or inclination for anyone or anything else.

Let's find something bigger than ourselves.That being said, I would fancy that MY search begin with ME and JESUS, letting Him direct ME where and to whom or what He will. Amen?

Psalm 119:37 (ESV) 37  Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

God Bless

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

Isn't It A Pity

Isn't It A Pity                                               10-20-17

Came across a video this week of one of my favorite musicians(Eric Clapton) performing a song written by a member of my all time favorite band(George Harrison of the one and only Beatles) I have played it about 50 times over the past couple days. Have loved the song for years but this version has something about it that is haunting to me.The first stanza caught me.

"isn't it a pity,isn't it a shame,how we break each others hearts and cause each other pain?" All ya'll hippies out there remember that one?

Anyway about twenty five times in(smile) this verse in Proverbs came strolling into my consciousness.

Proverbs 17:14 (ESV) 14  The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.

Admittedly a little crude for western sensibilities but that's what the Bible

I hummed and sang the parts I remembered all day yesterday while driving the bus.That verse reminded me of something my grandfather told me when I was a youngster standing on the front porch with him one day. He said that when ever he and my grandmother were angry and about to start dropping the bombs on each other,he would get up,walk out to the front porch and stay there until cooler spirits  prevailed. And herein lieth the lesson. 

Proverbs 17:27 (ESV) 27  Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

You know sometimes,MANY TIMES it's not what we say and do....but, what we DON"T SAY AND DO that counts. What are you saying here Ronnie? Just this.

A hateful word NOT spoken, an opinion or a point of view NOT expressed,a rancorous deed or action NOT done...... stops all the strife,pain and broken hearts before it gets started. Look again.

" QUIT BEFORE(caps mine) the quarrel breaks out......."  

Go on down a couple of verses in your Bible.

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV) 2  A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

I have this one highlighted AND underscored in MY Bible. (smile)

I am reminded of King David all of a sudden. I will conclude with this lengthy passage of Scripture.

2 Samuel 16:5-12 (ESV) 5  When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually.
6  And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
7  And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!
8  The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

9  Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.”
10  But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”
11  And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
12  It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.”

David was the King. He had the authority and means to have this insolent,dead dog killed in he street. Right where he stood or sat.Ya feelin me here? Indeed Shemei was WRONG in his railing accusation against the King. I think,but am not sure,I think Shemei broke Mosaic law with his rant.Nevertheless,with ALL the power and authority at his bidding, David chose to take the high and less travelled road of restraint;choosing instead to allow the Lord to do His bidding. He put Shemei and his cursing in the Lord's hands. It has been said of this incident that David examined his heart and ruled AGAINST it's interests. Powerful medicine indeed.

Brothers and sisters,many times if we will take a deep breath,walk out on the front porch,and rule against our self interest,we will save ourselves and others the pains of hurt feelings and broken hearts. Amen?

Psalm 19:14 (ESV) 14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

God Bless

P.S. If I knew how to put video in message I would. Anyway going to post it on FB. Great video and great song.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Voice Of One

A Voice Of One                                     10-06-17

John 1:21-23 (ESV) 21  And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
22  So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23  He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

John the Baptist was quoting Isaiah 40 in his response to the Jewish authorities who wanted to know who he was. I oftentimes reflect on how John must have felt some time later,as he sat in a prison cell,alone and lonely.I wonder if he still brimmed with the confidence and boldness that he exhibited when HE truly WAS the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I wonder if doubt and discouragement tormented his mind and soul in that prison,cell as his own words became dogged reality in his life.

John 3:30 (ESV) 30  He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I believe he must have struggled mightily in that dark place,with those tormentors, as he awaited his final,God appointed destiny. A voice of one. I witnessed a modern day John the Baptist last Saturday. And herein lieth the lesson.

I was over at Neyland Stadium this Saturday past as the hurricane called by the name Georgia,thundered through and totally destroyed my beloved Vols. While there, I was able to run quickly from where I was stationed,about a hundred yards or so to get a video of the Vol Walk starring Peyton Manning in the flesh. But,while standing there watching all the commotion,something in my periphery caught my attention. Standing on a small one step ladder,clad in overalls,t-shirt and sunglasses,stood a man with a Bible in his hand,preaching what I knew to be The Gospel. It did not appear to me that anyone was listening,and to be truthful neither did I.

Well,video of Peyton in hand,I scurried back to my post,in the midst of literally thousands of people. If you have been to gate 21 at Neyland pre game,you know what I am talking about. I spent about 45 minutes there directing traffic and enjoying all the buzz and excitement of the gameday atmosphere. Well,low and behold,about an hour later,unnoticed by me,up walks this same guy with a one step ladder. He steps up and begins preaching the Word of God. Now folks,out of all the multiple thousands of people,and all of the different vantage points,this man picks a spot not five feet from where I am standing!

So, I take notice this time and watch him as he begins to preach. I inwardly admire his boldness. I understand that is not everyone's cup of tea. I understand there is a time and place. But there's something about this guy...just as I am thinking those thoughts up walks a woman and begins to openly mock this man. Laughing and insulting him to his face. The folks she was with turned and smiled as she belittled him. That went on for about a minute,while abruptly turning the woman went back to her party. The man never missed a beat and kept on preaching. Well,he had my FULL attention now.

This goes on for about five minutes and all of a sudden the aforementioned lady returns appearing very agitated. Her insulting tone has turned angry,no,not angry,belligerent.She starts berating him and demanding that he shut up and leave. No further detail is needed. As she whirls around this time the man very politely and gently invites her to come back and talk,to no avail. This is all happening not ten feet from where I am standing. 

I begin to think to myself this very thought," Would I have the courage to do what this man was doing,in this environment,if God asked me to do it." Taking all this abuse and mockery and for what!!?? No one was responding. All he heard,while Rocky Top played in the background,were the jeers of this woman joined with the indifference of those within earshot.

And then it happened.

As this guy,whom I now have infinite admiration for,was stepping down off the ladder,a man walked up to him. He wanted to talk about something. I moved farther away not wanting to intrude into the conversation. They spoke together,just the two of them in the midst of thousands and I believe this single respondent got saved. I can't say with certainty,because I didn't hear it. But,it sure LOOKED like that guy accepted Jesus as his Savior right then and there. The point being that miraculously there was someone LISTENING to the preacher! AN AUDIENCE OF ONE!! In a very short while it was over. The preacher folded up his ladder and moved on. I watched him walk off,ostensibly to his next pulpit,thinking to myself,"There goes a modern day John the Baptist." A voice of one crying in the wilderness.

And trust me.......outside Neyland Stadium last Saturday was a wilderness.

My point? Just this. Maybe you are discouraged today. Maybe those tormentors are screaming in your spirit what's the use? Maybe you are a "voice of one" to a family of loved ones that have no interest in anything you have to say. Maybe you are a"voice of one" in a work environment that not only is disinterested,but openly mocks and ridicules your walk with Jesus.Just maybe you sit somewhere alone and lonely. Maybe the enemy is telling you that you are stupid. That no one is listening or even cares about your Jesus. Maybe you, like John the Baptist, are wondering if Jesus is the Messiah or should you look for another.

Matthew 11:2-3 (ESV) 2  Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples
3  and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Rest assured brother and sister you have it right Keep walking.

As Pastor Doug often says we are performing for an audience of ONE.

Psalm 40:10 (ESV) 10  I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

God Bless