I sit at my desk
     with a poem that is stuck.
It started to form,
     then it froze in the muck.
But that is okay,
     no reason to fret.
I keep listening to God,
     He’s not done with me yet.
The poems aren’t the real gift,
     this now I see.
God’s using them greatly
     as He calls to me.

God is the author
     who puts poems in my mind.
He calls me to Himself
     to see what I find.
This gift He has given,
     so what should I do.
I’ll collect them and type them
     and share them with you.
God likes to give good gifts,
     these poems I received.
If you had just told me,
     I may not have believed.

The real gift is greater
     and it’s not only mine.
To seek God’s face always
     is the gift that’s quite fine.
I pray that you seek Him
     and gaze on His face.
Enjoy the warmth always
     of His loving embrace.
And as you do listen
     on how you should live.
You’ll find that God loves you
     and to you He does give.

So when you consider
     the things that you’ve got.
Don’t think they’re your doing,
     of course, they are not.
So spend time with Jesus
     as you examine His gift.
Then look all around you
     to find someone to lift.
For the gifts God has given,
     quite out of the blue.
Are meant to serve others
     and not just for you.

That is my story
     as I sit here at home.
I need not be worried
     if my mind has no poem.
If my mind’s filled with Jesus,
     then that is the best.
If the poems do keep coming,
     I pray that you’re blest.
To share these poems with you,
     still seems kind of odd.
But when I am giving,
     I’m more like my God.

I had a poem start to form in my mind but when I went out to clear the driveway, it’s as if it just froze somewhere in there. When I came in and tried to “thaw if out”, I kept thinking about getting stuck. We don’t like getting stuck because it means, or at least feels like, we’re not going anywhere. God reminded me that even when I’m stuck He is there and He is more important than any gift or ability He has given. I pray that you actively seek God’s face during the times you feel stuck.

In prayer,

Christmas Reminder (Matthew 25)

Christmas is here,
     the day’s finally come.
When people will gather
     for good family fun.
As you come to dinner
     and pull up your seat,
There are people are out there
     who have nothing to eat.
You have two choices,
     what to do with that news.
Sharing with others
     is the one that I choose.

God tells us clearly 
     to help those in need.
But often I fail to
     because of my greed.
I need reminded
     to care for the weak.
To stand up and speak out
     for those who can’t speak.
It doesn’t take too long
     to notice out there,
Someone who’s hurting,
     then show them you care.

To visit the lonely
     and care for the sick,
Give food to the hungry,
     and the message might stick.
It’s all about doing
     what God said is best.
To hear Jesus tell you,
     “Enter into my rest!”
I pray that this Christmas
     you’ll clearly see,
Hope is for everyone,
     not just you and me!

I pray that you consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 this Christmas as you celebrate the birth of Jesus. His birth, death, burial, and resurrection was meant to be good news for all the people! What are you and I doing to make that good news known?

In prayer,


The Act of FINISH (Acts 28)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

Well, this is it.  I made it through the book of Acts in my preaching series and it only seems fitting for the final chapter/message to be “The Act of FINISH”.  I have to say it has been a joy to preach through the book of Acts!  It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply.  As I continued to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter had the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid.  Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.

In Acts 28, Luke concludes his account of the foundations of the church.  Paul is on his way to Rome, as a prisoner, when the storms overtake and destroy the ship he is on and everyone onboard takes refuge on an island.  After interacting with the people of the island for some time, the weather finally breaks and a ship headed to Rome is found so that the journey continues.  Finally in Rome, Paul has opportunity to address the Jewish leaders there and to continue to preach and teach the gospel even while living under guard in a house-arrest situation.  There is much to learn from this chapter, and from Paul, as we consider how we live out the Act of FINISH in our life. 

  • Faith:  If we plan to accomplish the Act of FINISH well, we must begin the entire process in Faith!  It is our Faith that allows us to believe and trust God even when we don’t understand.  As Paul faced persecution, false accusations, imprisonment, and shipwreck, his faith never seems to waver.  In good times and bad, our faith in God must constantly remind us that God both knows what He’s doing and His love for you and I and the people around us never fails.  Our faith provides the foundation for God to work in and through us in ways that are “immeasurably more than we can think or imagine.”  As God moves you along in your journey with Him toward the Act of FINISH, be sure that Faith keeps you trusting that God can, and will, accomplish His work in you. 
  • Invitation:  As we consider how we live the Act of FINISH, it is important to pay attention to the Invitations that we both give and receive.  How we respond to invitations, and who we extend them to, can have eternal consequences in the lives of people around us.  In Acts 28, Paul and those that had been on the ship with him were invited to spend time with the unknown islanders and then invited by the chief official of the island to spend time in his home.  How do you and I respond to invitations from strangers to have some type of involvement in their life?  Many of us have become so skeptical that we have a difficult time seeing the hand of God moving in the lives of people to cause them to actually invite us into where they live.  The other side of the equation is who we invite to spend time with us.  Once Paul made it to Rome, it was he who invited the Jewish leaders to meet with him!  How often do you think of inviting your enemies —  your chief accusers — to hear your story and know why you follow Jesus?  Most of the time we have come to believe that if I a person hasn’t yet accepted Jesus then they probably don’t want to and don’t deserve our time.  Refusing to invite people into your life for the purpose of seeing God at work will certainly stifle any real efforts to FINISH as God would want you to.  We are able to grow in the FINISH when we are willing to accept and extend invitations to those we would normally ignore or even those who we view as our enemies.
  • Notice: The Act of FINISH calls us to live a life that is worth Noticing!  The caution that must be issued with this is that we want people to Notice Jesus and not us as they watch Him work through us.  As Paul arrives on the island, the people notice that he is bit by a viper yet doesn’t die.  That gets their attention right away.  Later, they notice that the power of God working through him can bring healing to those who are in need.  Then as he arrives in Rome, the Jewish leaders notice that he is a consistent follower of Jesus and they want to know from a first-hand source about this “sect” that they have heard much negative talk about.  Do the people around you each day even notice that you are a follower of Jesus?  Jesus tells us to live in such a way that people see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.    As we live life looking toward the Act of FINISH, we must live in such a way that we are so transparent that the only thing others Notice in us is Jesus.
  • Insight:  One advantage of the Act of FINISH is that the longer we live, and the more we listen to God, the more Insight we should have in matters that are most important.  As we approached chapter 28, Paul was able to share the great insight he had received from God on how everyone on board the ship could be saved.  Our time with God through His Word, His Spirit, and prayer gives us insight on how everyone in life could be saved!  The insight that God gives us also helps us to see beyond the surface and into the genuine needs that the people around us have.  The insight we need is available, the question really comes in two parts; one, are we spending time with God to better see people as He sees them, and two, what are we doing with the insight God gives us?  As we grow in the Act of FINISH, it is important to not only seek Insight from God, but to use it for His glory and purpose.
  • Sharing:  Our life only accomplishes what it is meant to in the Act of FINISH if we are deliberately and consistently involved in Sharing.  Paul was constantly involved in sharing not only his faith and belief in Jesus, but pretty much anything he had.  Paul shares his knowledge, his ability, his resources whether great or small.  As I think about the Act of FINISH and Sharing, I can’t help but think about Matthew 25 where Jesus tells a story about a multitude of people who are divided into two groups — one group is welcomed into the King’s presence and the other is sent away into utter darkness.  What was the difference between the two groups?  Not how much they knew, not how much scripture they had memorized, not how often they had attended any religious gathering, not even how many religious acts they had done!  No, the difference is in how much they shared with the King!  While neither side seemed to think they had shared, or not shared, with the King, Jesus makes it clear that it is in what we share (or don’t share) with “the least of these” that we share with Him.  I believe we ought to use caution and the common sense that God gives us, but are we so afraid of being taken advantage of that we simply fail to share?  Have we become so greedy that we can’t bring ourself to give anything to a person in real need?  Are we so fearful of how people might react that we refuse to share the good news of Jesus?  The Act of FINISH that hears the Master say, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into your master’s happiness.” is the Act of FINISH that has learned how to Share.
  • Honor:  The Act of FINISH wraps up with a focus on Honor.  We tend to like honor when it is directed our way but we are a little more selective when it comes to actually showing or giving honor to someone else.  Paul knew how to both receive and give honor.  As Paul allowed God to work through him on the island, the people who were experiencing God’s healing in their lives were showing honor to Paul and his companions “in many ways”.  Paul had learned to receive honor with humility and grace.  He also knew how to give honor to those around him.  Even his inviting the Jewish leaders to hear him out was a way of honoring a group of people who his experience may have said didn’t deserve much honor.  As God does a great and might work in and through us, He also calls us to accept proper honor with the same humility and grace that Paul showed.  On the other hand, God also calls us to give honor to people that we may not think deserve that from us.  We dishonor people who are made in the image of God when we refuse to have a conversation with them for whatever reason we make up.  The Act of FINISH gains its real power from our willingness to humbly receive and give honor when honor is due.

So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of FINISH?  As you move from where you are to where God wants you to be, do you constantly walk by Faith?  Are you open to recognizing, and responding to, the Invitations that are both extended and received by you for the purpose of investing in the life of another?  Are you living your life in such a way that people Notice your good deeds and glorify God?  Are you spending regular time with God to gain His Insight into the way He would have you go?  Do you make the most of every opportunity to Share everything God has given you — including your possessions and your relationship with Jesus?  Are you growing in the practice of giving and receiving Honor with humility and grace?  I pray that your involvement in the Act of FINISH will boldly take you from where you are to where God wants you to be as you show, and tell, the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!

1 Samuel: Lesson 33 — Share and Share Alike

The following are discussion questions from a weekly study I am leading through the book of 1 Samuel.  We meet each Wednesday evening at the Deer Run Church of Christ.


Here Comes A King:
A Study of the Book of 1 Samuel

Lesson 33 (Share and Share Alike)
1 Samuel 30:1-31

The Text:

  1. Where do David and his men go?  What is this place to them?  What has happened while they were gone?  What “good news” detail is given?
  2. What is the initial response of David and his men?  What do the men want to do?  How does David deal with his great distress?  Who does David go to?  For what purpose?
  3. What answer does David get from the priest?  What happens at the Besor Ravine?  Who is found in a field by David and his men?  Why was he there?  What does he agree to do?  What condition does he set for doing this?
  4. What are the Amalekites doing when David and his men catch up with them?  What does David do?  How much of what was taken is recovered?  What else is taken?   
  5. What do some of the men want to do when David and the men who fought the Amalekites with him rejoin the rest of the group?  How are these men described?  What is David’s response to them?  What reasoning does he give?  What else did he do with some of the plunder that was taken from the Amalekites?


The Application:

  1. How do you feel when you’ve been away and finally return home?  Do you ever worry that what you leave won’t be there when you return?  Do you tend to notice, or look for, the “silver-linings in the clouds”?     
  2. How would you feel if your family and possessions were taken from you?  Have you ever been blamed or held responsible for someone else’s loss when you weren’t the one who took their possession?  Who do you go to when you are distressed and need answers?  
  3. Have you ever had to drop out of a task you began because you physically couldn’t continue?  Have you ever continued with a task when others with you had to drop out?  How does either of those situations make you feel?     
  4. Are you a “finisher”?  Do you stay at something until it is done or do you quit when you have what you want out of it?  
  5. What things keep us from being willing to share?  What role does pride have?  How is our giving a reflection of our heart?


Next week: 1 Samuel 31:1-13; 2 Samuel 1:1-15
The Mighty Have Fallen