"...and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Helpmate from Heaven

One year ago this coming Sunday, Natalie and I began the “bliss” of marriage. I was scared, but I was excited. I was anxious, but I was calm. This decision was for life, but what a wonderful decision it was!

I always heard the “wisdom from the wise” when they said “When you know she’s the one, you know!” That never seemed logical, but with Natalie, it was different. Even in the beginning stages of dating, I knew she was the girl that God had prepared for me, and I prayed earnestly that I was the guy He had prepared for her! She was everything I was looking for: nurturing, compassionate, competent, friendly, funny, and extremely intelligent. But as soon as we said “I Do”, I learned that my wife had another talent than MANY women don’t have. She is a FABULOUS PREACHER’S WIFE! It’s extremely stressful to be a Preacher’s wife! Not only does she strive to please her husband, but she also strives to please the entire congregation! She learns what it means to always “live in the public eye,” and that any decision she makes, good or bad, will affect the ministry. She understands when “date night” gets cancelled because someone is sick, someone has died, or there is an emergency in the congregation. But one of the biggest challenges a Preacher’s wife faces is listening and watching her husband get criticized, but knowing there is nothing she can really say or do!

But what makes Natalie SO special? She loves the Lord our God with all of her heart, with all of her soul, and with all of her strength. When I was at Harding, I knew it was a good chance that I would find my wife on campus, and so there was one special persona I was looking for, “Ms. Proverbs 31.” In Proverbs 31, the author describes the “ideal” wife. He writes, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”(Proverbs 31: 10-12) I certainly have found that wife of noble character, and I have full confidence in my beautiful wife. And with that confidence, I know without a doubt that she possesses the most important quality of all. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Are you looking for the perfect girl? Sorry guys, I already found her, and there’s NO WAY I’ll ever let her go! But in your search, let me give you the key to success: Marry someone who will help you get to heaven. If they aren’t that someone, that marriage is NOT for you! Thanks be to God, I found my “Helpmate from Heaven!”

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Cost of the Queen?

Economic setbacks have caused budget cuts and “pennies to be pinched.” We often convince ourselves that the difficult financial situation is an American crisis. While America has been hit hard the past few years, tough times aren’t confined to American soil!

In fact, Great Britain is currently swimming upstream as they begin to budget for the Monarchy in the upcoming year. Recent reports show that in 2009, 38.2 million pounds of English tax payer’s money was given to the Queen. (That is the equivalent of $57.8 million in American currency). From those 38.2 million pounds, the Queen used 7.9 million pounds for her staff. Experts believe that she will ask for MORE money in 2011, and that Parliament will most likely say NO, because the British government has been fervently trying to cut costs. In 2009, 15 million pounds were spent on the upkeep of Buckingham Palace and 4 million pounds were spent on travelling for the Royal Family! How about cutting costs from these “funds?” I can only imagine the conflict that will arise when the Queen gives her demands!

But have you ever thought about how much it costs Christians to have our King? Dollar for dollar, He’s a bargain! We don’t have to worry about budgeting for Him year after year, because He’s been around since the beginning of time (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1), and He isn’t planning on going anywhere either! (“The Lord reigns forever…” Psalm 9:7) In addition to that security, the “Royal Family” isn’t too concerned with thrills and frills. The King’s Son, also known as the “Prince of Peace,” is a man of humble fruition. He didn’t begin His life in a palace made of gold and silver; He entered the world by means of a lowly manger. When the time came for Him to leave his “legacy”, He didn’t enter with trumpets, riding on a stallion horse fit for a king; He rode on a mere colt, with just a few of his closet friends shouting, “Hosanna!” As the King’s people, we don’t have to grumble over the expense of luxury for our King!

But just like anything else in life, there has to be a cost, so where does the cost come in? It costs us NOTHING to make him KING, but it costs us EVERYTHING to be His people! His tax doesn’t come out of our pay check. We pay Him our dues every single day by living the way He’s told us to live! But if you “count the cost”, you will quickly say, “He’s my KING, and Oh I dearly love him…!”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Life AFTER the Game?

For the past few days, Basketball conversation has been seasoned with LeBron James, but have you ever heard of Ray Williams? If you answer “no”, don’t be concerned. You join about 75% of America who doesn’t have a clue! Ray Williams was a NBA (National Basketball Association) star in the 1970s and 1980s. He played for six teams during his career, but his most impressive feats was serving as Captain for the New York Knicks and Guard for the Boston Celtics 1985 NBA Finals team. His name may not ring out with today’s fans, but “Sugar Ray” averaged 20 points a game during his career, and he was even compared to the great Walt Frazier!

Where is Sugar Ray” Williams now? Every night Williams locks the doors of his home; a broken-down 1992 Buick, rusting on a back street where he ran out of everything. Williams is homeless! Williams’ lack of success is not due to drugs, alcohol, or gambling. He hasn’t even been arrested for any charges! His homelessness just kind of happened!

How did Williams move from the Five Star Hotels on the road, elite company with Larry Bird, and fame and popularity to a house on wheels? Williams made over $2 million a year when he was in the league (An UNEBELIEVABLE salary for professional athletes during the 70’s and 80’s), but he never prepared for the day when he would no longer be paid to dribble a basketball. When he retired, Williams invested in a few business opportunities, but all of those investments went south, and Williams was left with nothing! I guess we could blame his coaches, teachers, and mentors for not setting a better example. But regardless which way our sympathies run, the biggest fault was his own! He didn’t realize there was more to life than basketball!

Even though Williams’ legacy fell apart, his mistakes teach us valuable lessons. There is much more to life than our jobs, our homes, and our everyday concerns. What looks so great in the PRESENT may or may not help us in the FUTURE! The lives we live today prepare us for tomorrow! How should we prepare? Jesus gives us the key to success when he says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Where is your treasure? Ask Ray Williams where his was, and he will tell you where he WISHES it would have been! Prepare for “Life AFTER the Game!” It’s the only preparation that really matters!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Never Too Late?

On November 24, 1968, Pena Soltren and two of his cohorts boarded and hijacked Pan American Flight 281. The aircraft took off from JFK airport in New York, but landed in Cuba after Soltren and his accomplices demanded it to land. While the plane was in the air, Soltren claims that they “terrorized dozens of passengers with pistols and knives.” The hijackers cleared security with the weapons by hiding them in diaper bags! Security has come along way since 1968!

However, a few months ago, Soltren voluntarily returned back to JFK airport to surrender and face prosecution. Soltren had been secretly living in Cuba since 1968, but he decided to call the FBI and make arrangements for his arrest. As soon as Soltren landed at JFK from Havana, Cuba, the FBI arrested Soltren and prosecution procedures were underway. He was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan for a 1968 indictment.

What can we learn from Pena Soltren? Well, he gives us an example of what not to do, but he also paves the way for what we should do as Christians. Through his confused life, Soltren teaches us that it is never too late to repent of our sins. The guilt in Soltren’s life eventually overtook his psyche. He knew it was time to do the right thing!

When the guilt in our own lives buries our sense of justification, we should make the choice to once again become justified through our acknowledgment of sin. James tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

When was the last time you confessed your sins? Hopefully, it won’t take an airplane hijacking to convince you it’s time!