April 20, 2010

A Cemetery - You've Got to be Kidding! (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the post from yesterday, written by my former pastor, Rev. David Gales:

The question of where? when? and most of all why? had to be answered for me (as well as with you). In 2002 I started looking for a place to walk because my doctor wanted me to get daily exercise. Starting at a nearby school track, it became boring and it was just not for me. One day I noticed a cemetery across from the school. Something {I feel it was the Lord Jesus} drew me to begin walking around and in the cemetery each day for one hour approximately three miles. The well kept grounds provided such a quiet peaceful place. Who would have thought that this would become my meeting place for fellowship with my Lord?

Seeking not to become stressful with a rigid schedule, I would and do walk in the cemetery sometime every day. Weather does not play a roll. I love to walk in the rain with my little umbrella. Whether it is in the snow or sunshine, my walking in fellowship with my Lord overrides the elements. I have always carried a golf club with me (kind of like Moses and his staff) as I walk. It is now 2010! I have been walking in the cemetery with my Lord now for eight years. It is one of the top ten highlights of my life. I didn't know what I was missing for sixty-one years before 2002.

The most important question is the WHY? It is hard to explain. Fellowship with Christ is somehow undefined with words. It is an experience in one's inner being. Walking physically and mentally is refreshing and rewarding to one's health. Walking with Christ though is much more rewarding to one's spirit (the place where Christ lives in you). It is the inner man described in the Bible. Well, this is kind of how it works with me. I always begin by thanking Him for the privilege to walk with him. I then thank him for Phyllis as the great gift he has given to complete me. I claim the promise for her healing everyday in Luke 8:50."Be not afraid, only believe, and she will be healed." It varies as to what we do as we walk together. (Christ and I) Sometimes I sing out loud (it doesn't bother anyone there).

Such old hymns like "Leaning on the everlasting arms", “Sunshine in my soul", "When we walk with the Lord", and "How Great Thou Art" spring forth at times. My desire is to live before the audience of one. Sometimes, I recite the ten doctrines of God's character that I learned in the early 70's. Maybe I will recite the different names of God given in the Bible that describe who he is. There are times when we just want to talk to each other. I put all my cares in my two hands and throw them over my shoulders to the Lord (I Peter 5:7 and Psalm 55:12). It really feels so good.

The greatest blessing has been in memorizing and meditating (marinating) passages of scripture that speak to my own life. As of this day in March 2010, I have memorized around eight-four verses and passages that I constantly repeat and claim as my own promises from God. Dr. J. Allan Blair was my example and mentor in memorizing. These verses and passages are printed out on paper and I carry them with me as I walk with my Lord. Never thinking that I could do this, what a rich experience!!!

Seeking not to boast, but only in the Lord, opportunities to let Christ live through me to folks I have met while at the cemetery, has been a pleasant surprise. One fellow named Ray Kinley has come to know Christ and now is happy and in church. Another has thought God was asking him to go into the pastoral ministry. It is like having a small congregation as new encounters keep showing up as I walk. Friendships have been established with cemetery workers and many people I have met. I have found that every person that I meet in the cemetery is hurting and in need of the Lord's love and encouragement. Some have said, "You are an angel sent by God to me today". When I come home and tell my wife, she quickly brings me back to earth saying "You are no angel." I agree!

Well, that is my story of fellowship with Christ daily. It was the main thing in Jesus' life with his father. He desires it to be the main thing in each of us. I believe it is the missing ingredient in modern Christianity. There is a lot of churchianity but it appears that there is little Christianity. Where is your cemetery? When is your daily time? Why not let it be unique and special with you and your Lord? Would it please the Lord for you to cherish this fellowship? He cherishes it with you. As he did in the Garden of Eden, he still comes seeking fellowship with his created ones.

It's the real deal! "Fellowship with Christ makes the complicated simple."

A Cemetery - You've Got to be Kidding! (Part 1)

My former pastor, Rev. David Gales, was the pastor of Plaza Baptist Church for many years. It was while a member of this church that I met my wife, was called into full time ministry, preached my first sermon, and received my ordination. Reading this email spoke to me in a special way, and I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Becoming a Christian is having a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Life. Being a Christian is having fellowship with the risen Jesus on a daily basis as he lives in and through us to meet the challenges that confront us in life. Salvation is a relationship. Sanctification is a fellowship. The sin question has been settled once and for all by the cross. The life question is settled by constant fellowship with the living Son of God. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith"

Hebrews 12:1.

Some people have churchianity instead of Christianity. They have fellowship with their church. They attend, serve, administer, give, love one another, and have great fellowship with their church family. Other folks have real Christianity. They have fellowship with Christ. Oh yes, they will love his church, but their main fellowship is with Christ. The church can take the place of Christ. The devil's cunning devise is to lull us into putting fellowship with the church in the place of fellowship with Christ. You can have churchianity without Christ, but when you fellowship with Christ first and foremost, the church will be a loving extension of that fellowship.

David said, "One thing I ask of the Lord, and this is what I seek. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock” Psalm 27:4-5 NIV.

Do you see it? Fellowship with and dependency upon Jesus Christ is the main thing. Well, how is this made practical?

For it to be practical it must be so personal. You cannot copy another believer because fellowship with Christ is just between you and him. He knows your human and divine DNA. He wants your fellowship to be so special just between the two of you.

Having said that, I can only share my own walk with the Lord. Here it is for what it is worth (it is worth everything to me). I have struggled throughout my spiritual track record with finding what would be my unique fellowship with the Lord. I read and heard about giants in the faith and wanted so much to be like them. Vance Havner, the author, evangelist, and revival preacher, had such an attractive private walk with his Lord. He loved the outdoors, birds, and being alone with his Lord as he walked. I am sure he had an influence on my fellowship alone with Jesus daily as I too have walked. Reading his book "Threescore and Ten" several times has been such a blessing.

(to be continued)

April 14, 2010

Family Devotions

So we hear that we are supposed to do it. We know it's supposed to be a good idea. But the reality is, very few do. Trying to gather the family around the table for any amount of time is nearly impossible to do these days. But I decided several years back that that is exactly what we are going to do, every day (well, Monday - Friday anyway).

It is required in our home that everyone be at the table, ready for school, with breakfast in hand, ready to walk out the door, at 7:20am - for family devotions. Does everyone like my rule? NO! In fact, more often than not, I seem to get complaints. "It's too early!" "I could have slept another 15 minutes!" To which I respond "Wah..."

I know - I'm mean. But I have a higher motivation. Here's what I've noticed: everybody seems to enjoy the time. We laugh together, we pray together, and then we laugh together. It hit me, my kids are going to look back on these moments and remember that our family was intentional about spending focused time together. These are memories that will be instilled into who my kids grow up to be later in life.

It's not hard to do - it just takes a strong conviction, a desire to see our family bond. I choose a devotional book, or a book of the Bible. I spend about 10 minutes reading to the family. Sometimes we discuss it, sometimes not. Then we spend about 10 minutes sharing with each other what our plans are for the day - what tests, or other challenges we are going to be facing. Then we pray. That's it. Oh, and we laugh a lot in between all of that.

I love my family. I am blessed by God to have such an amazing wife and such great kids. My prayer for you is that if you haven't already, that you would start a family devotion time with your family. What are you waiting for?