Recently our pastor at church spoke on “Cross Bearing”. An interesting topic for me at this point in my life. Jesus says Matthew 16 and in verse 24 “If anyone desires to come after Me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”
His words that followed spoke to my heart and mind. He said, “even when you are abandoned and forgotten by friends and co-workers, follow Jesus.” It is tough to go through times of suffering where very few people talk with you but instead they talk about you. It is tough when your good is negativity spoken of and your life is turned upside down. But Jesus says, “take up your cross and follow Me.” If I desire to follow Jesus, I must deny myself, my feelings, my aspirations, and follow Jesus. It is in following that we learn that Jesus will never turn His back on us, never leave us or forsake us. He will always be there to listen and give us peace and comfort and guidance for the days ahead.
In my life from this point on it is “all about Jesus” and not about me. I wish to follow Him closely each day, and when I fail, I know that He is there to pick me up, dust me off, and put me back on the right path. In Psalm 147:11, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His Mercy.” Amen.
I heard a sermon once from Proverbs 22:28 which says “Do not remove the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.” What true words from the Word. Our fathers have provided a straight and narrow road for us. I remember quotes from Dr. Forrest, the founder of TFC, and his conservative views. I have tried to use that as a guideline to help me continue the conservative views and actions of our founder. From this passage I highlighted three landmarks which I have followed:
1. Landmark of Faithfulness Psalm 31:23 which says “Oh love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful and fully repays the proud person.” As I walk faithfully before Him the Lord will preserve me.
2. Landmark of Obedience I Samuel 15:22 which says “Samuel says, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” And yet today there are many who do not obey the Lord or His servants.
3. Landmark of Trust/Loyalty I Samuel 14:1 – 14 where Jonathan’s armor bearer makes this very loyal statement in the face of extreme danger; “So his armor bearer said to him, Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.” His armor bearer was loyal and ready to follow Jonathan even if it meant peril to his life.
So as I continue my ministry I will look for the ancient landmarks. In Jeremiah 6:16 we read, “Thus says the Lord, Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.” May that be our prayer.
The Word of God says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10. This seems to be something that we all struggle with over time. Throughout my lifetime I have noticed that some people I have known tear down others to try to lift themselves up. We degrade others accomplishments and strengths and make ours look better.
The Lord says “humble yourselves and I will lift you up”. The Lord is there to provide for us and put us in the position to be best used by Him. We need to trust Him and allow Him to “lift us up.” Our prayers should be “use me Lord and use others as well for your glory”.
This summer my wife and I were blessed to visit the ranch of a member of the Board of Directors for Toccoa Falls College Foundation. The ranch was beautiful and the scenes in Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks were fantastic. We saw wildlife and rode horses. I did take a fall and have a right leg that has muscle pulls because of this.
We did a white water run down the Snake River and certainly enjoyed the rough ride and water. The temperature of the water was 52 degrees and so we were in wet suits. The air temperature was 72 degrees.
We saw Old Faithful, Mud Volcanoes and many other geysers in the National Park, and of course the Grand Teton Range. Thanks to Turpin Meadow Ranch for a great week of relaxation.
Memories! Those wonderful memories which flood the mind at a retirement party. My dorm mother of 44 years ago was there and brought a poem that I had written her in 1966. In those days your room had to be perfect and clean before you went to class, beds made, sink clean, etc. So one day I wrote the following as a plea to let us slip by just one time. It is called an “Ode to Mom”.
To us you are so very kind.
Our little jokes you do not mind.
You make life so enjoyable here.
Your smiling face, your heart of cheer.
A million more like you we need
For you are sweet in word and deed
So we hope that you will understand
And against us not lift a hand
If sometimes our room is not neat
For we must be in our seat,
In the class our teacher to see
So pass over us this time we plea!
And you know, it worked.
In Philippians 2:3 – 4 we read “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others beter than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but for the interests of others.” That spoke volumes to me as I read these verses and considered our theme at TFC to equip men and women to be Christian servant leaders who will be impact their world with the love and message of Jesus Christ.
On March 28 the “Daily Bread” devotional spoke about these verses and stated this. A track team began the year with the theme to run not for their glory but for the glory of God. As a result their giving their gold medals to the losing team spoke volumes to Kansas and all who read about it. Even me. “When we set aside our own interests and accomplishments to recognize that it is better to care for the interests of others, we see God’s name glorified. Acting with grace and kindness toward others is one of the best ways to point people to God.” Sometimes it takes us a lifetime to learn that but when we do we can make an eternal impact on our world.
It is better to give up our rights for the rights of others.
Donna and I were in Alaska a few years ago and took a rafting trip down the Kenai River. We were dressed for the cold water and had a guide who would steer the raft through the rapids and down the river. When we began he turned the raft into a rapid so that I could get splashed and water ran down my overalls. I turned and looked at him and said, “is that all you got”? For the rest of the 4 hour trip he tried to get me even more wet than I was at that moment.
On the Sunday our church celebrated its 50th Anniversary Donna and I took one daughter and her three children to church with us. When the pastor announced the time for giving our Anniversary offering I went forward and gave the gift for the family. When I returned to the pew my 9 year old grandson looked up and me and asked, “where do you put the offering?” He showed me that he did have some money in his pocket. I told him where to go and he went up, placed his offering in the plate and came back.
When he got situated I asked him, how much did you put in the plate. He answered “All of It!” WOW! That really impacted me and brought tears to my eyes as I heard those words resound in my mind. “All of It.” This young man heard the call and had given All he had. Every piece of money went in the plate. Nothing was held back.
It reminds me of the little boy with five loaves and two fish. It reminds me of the widow’s mite. They gave all they had. And ultimately it reminds me of Jesus, who gave all to redeem you and me from our sins.
Can we do anything less? May each of us give all we have, our time, our money, our talents, to Jesus. It doesn’t leave time for the opportunity to take it easy, to not do our job, to not respond to the needs of our world. May we all allow Jesus to live His life through us. Praise the Lord!
As we live the Christian Life we meet many people who impact our lives. They make a difference in how we view the present and future because of their influence on us. After all, leadership can be defined as influence.
These people who have impacted my life over the years have made a difference in how I view the world and how I react to circumstances and situations. And I have been forever changed by those influences on my life. Jesus Christ eternally changed my life as I accepted Him as Savior and Lord.
My friends make an impact on my life as well. Their acceptance or rejection of me or my thoughts do make a difference in the way I view myself and others. It is like a play which I saw last year. It was a musical and one of the songs in that play had a statement that is very appropriate for each of us. The characters are in school and getting ready to leave. One says to the other, “It may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part, so much of me is made up of what I learned from you. You’ll always be with me like a handprint on my heart, and now whatever way our stories end, I know that you have rewritten mine by being my friend.” Are we and am I one of those type friends?
In 2 Corinthians 3:3 the Word of God says, “you show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not in ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone but on the tablets of the human heart.” May this be true for each of us.
Continue reading Hand Print on My Heart
Last year I was challenged by a donor I met with as he questioned that God didn’t really cause everything to be good for those who belong to the Lord. I thought about that question and when I met with my next appointment, whom I knew very well, we talked about that statement of Romans 8:28. He would help me to understand that we need to read on to verse 29 and see that all things work together for good to those as He conforms them to the image of Christ. To me that made sense.
So I asked my administrative assistant to do the word study and found that we have 181 verses in the Bible talking about “all things” and many are not good things that happen to the person but each of the “all things” can help us be conformed to the image of Christ. So I thought back in my life and in the life of this college. And you know the fire in Haddock Inn, the financial struggles of this college, the fire in LeTourneau, the fire in Gate Cottage, the dam break, all these things have conformed and molded this college to be what God desires it to be, a training ground for servant leaders who will go and impact the entire world with the love and message of Jesus Christ.
So I found that when verse 28 states “all things” He clarifies this in verse 29 by saying “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” We go through these things so that we might be conformed to the image of Christ. Jesus suffered trials and tribulations, pain, and death for us. He was ridiculed by the legalists (Pharisees) of His day and continued to stand for what He believed.
So all the things we go through, personally and as a college I believe are to conform us to the image of Christ and we might not know the reason while on this earth, but some day the picture will be clear. We will not see through the glass darkly but full bright light. So from those conversations I learned to never give up and I learned to realize that Christ has been there before us and with our focus on Him we will also make it through. The situations and circumstances may not make sense right now but one day we will see the big picture and know what the Lord was doing, conforming us and this college to the image of His dear Son.