Thursday, July 31, 2014


(Submitted by Kerry Patton)
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14 

The Oblivious Ant
So there I was, sitting in the front passenger seat of Donnie O’Fallon’s pickup in Azle, Texas.  He and I were on a mission of mercy for a member of our faith family.  Our mission had been a success, but before we headed back to Weatherford, we had stopped momentarily at a business.  I waited in the truck.

As I sat there in the air conditioning, listening to the radio and waiting for Donnie to return, I observed a rather large insect…an ant, as it crawled across the windshield.  Back and forth, up and down the glass it crawled.  Was it looking for food, water, or some sense of the trail that would lead it back to the ant mound that it called home?  I didn’t know.  I did feel a bit of pity on it though, because I knew that very shortly, Donnie would return and we would head back to Weatherford.  The ant would likely blow off the truck…Lord knows HOW far from where it had come from.  Even if I had wanted to get it back to its mound, I had no idea where that would be.  That ant would NEVER find its way back home.  Never.  It would live its entire life lost…perhaps not even knowing that it was lost, and then it would die.  I don’t want to blow too much drama into the scene…but this was an ant…without hope.

Oblivious People
Driving back to Weatherford, Donnie and I passed many dozens of people.  People in passing cars, pedestrians, and people on bicycles.  Did these people have hope?  Shortly before getting to the bridge that crosses Lake Weatherford, half of the road was closed due to road construction.  So we sat still for several minutes waiting for a flagman to give us the signal that we could proceed.  An obviously weary man sat in the road on a water cooler holding a sign that said “STOP” on one side, and “Proceed Slowly” on the other.  The temperature bearing down on that poor man must have been near 110 degrees reflecting up off the road.  He hid his face under his helmet and left arm to reduce the glare from the mid-day sun.  I wondered what this man’s life was like.  How many hours would he be able to endure the torturous heat?  I did pity him and wished I could get him out of the sun. 

Shortly, the flagman reached up and spoke into the mic of a walkie-talkie he had.  He then stood, turned his sign so that it read “Proceed Slowly” and waved us to move forward.  As we drove away, I wondered if the man knew Jesus.  Or was he like that little ant who had been slaving away on the windshield of Donnie’s truck...oblivious to the fact that he was lost?  But there was a difference, wasn’t there?  Because unlike the ant…this poor man, sweltering in the heat was NOT without hope!

While he may have been lost spiritually (and I only speculate that he may have been for the sake of this devotion), he was not without hope.  Jesus of Nazareth had brought that flagman the same hope that you and I have.  But did the man know?  That’s where you and I become so very important.  As followers of Jesus, we are here to share the Hope of Glory, communicate the love of Christ in our words and deeds, and let the people of the world around us know that they are NOT without hope.

A Survivor
Donnie and I arrived back at our destination in Weatherford.  He pulled into a parking spot and turned off the truck’s engine.  As I unbuckled my seatbelt, looking forward through the windshield, what did I see?  Amazingly, that crazy little ant!  It seems that it had found a place to lay low and had survived the journey from Azle to Weatherford.  He hadn’t blown off the truck after all.  “Welcome to Weatherford, Ant…” 

Now I was thinking about second chances…If I get to see that road construction worker again, I would like to get to know him a bit.  I want to let him know that I appreciate him suffering the heat for my safety.  I’d like to hand him a soft drink or a bottle of Gatorade and share a bit with him about Hope.  I may learn that he is well acquainted with Jesus, but I could also be the person who helps him know Hope…for the very first time.

Who will the Lord place in our path today for his service?  How will he get our attention?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Personal, Not Private

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:1-2

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Bizzaro World
Introduced in the early 1960’s by DC Comics, Bizarro World was a comic book world where bizarre versions of existing Superheroes lived…only they were opposite to the personalities of their normal world counterparts.  For example: in Bizzaro World, Aqua man could NOT swim.  Just something wrong about that, right?  This comic book concept caught on enough that today in popular culture ‘Bizarro World’ has come to refer situations which are in the words of Wikipedia: “…weirdly inverted or opposite of expectations.”

I have an opinion that our current culture has devolved to the point that the inhabitants this country and most other “modern” governments have become Bizarro Worlds in and of themselves.  Let me illustrate:

·      According to current news and politicians, having secure borders means borders are being breached by literally tens of thousands of illegal alien men, women and children.  Keep in mind, this statement is not about those crossing, but a point being made about the borders themselves.  They are unenforced, porous, and seem to do nothing; hence they are “secure.”

·      According to current cultural values, marital fidelity is undesirable and dysfunctional, and homosexuality is normal (and apparently preferable)

·      Unbridled sexuality is not immoral, but suitable for songs, literature, movies, television, cellphones, and computers…no matter who has access

·      For Americans to fly the American flag or wear clothing with the flag represented on it is bad because it might cause problems with others living in America who hate America.

·      Persons who oppose conservative values can say ANYTHING and are applauded as sensitive and intuitive; persons who uphold conservative values who say ANYTHING are accused of being intolerant and committing hate speech. 

I don’t know how else to describe the times we live in other than: Bizarro World.

Shhhhh. Keep it down a little!
Believe it or not, the body of Christ has been affected by this Bizarro World mentality as well.  Our faith…the Good News of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection…that which the scripture suggests we are to “shout from the rooftops” (Matthew 10:27), has become a ‘private’ thing.  Freedom OF religion is largely interpreted as freedom FROM religion, so we have translated ‘personal faith’ to be experienced as ‘private faith.’ We cannot pray together in school.  We have to be careful how we pray in City Council meetings.  We have to be careful where we place the Nativity Scene at Christmas.  We have “Holiday Trees” rather than “Christmas Trees” because out here in Bizarro World America, personal Christian faith should be PRIVATE Christian faith. “Go ahead.  Worship your god.  Just keep it to yourself, or I might become offended…and that’s bad.”

NO, that’s just the way it is.  That’s the way it has ALWAYS been.  The Gospel is offensive to all who hear it but don’t believe. But to those who do believe, it is LIFE! 1 Peter2:6-8 reads:

“For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.”

So what’s it going to be?  Are we content to live in Bizarro World?  Are we sheeple who will practice our faith in private and keep it to ourselves so we don’t offend anyone?  Or will we stand in the current; will we not lean against the winds of culture and proclaim what we know as personal, not allowing it to be stifled as ‘private.’

Be a city set on a hill; a light not hidden under a bushel.  We are not called to be obnoxious, but we are called to be obvious. We are described as salt that seasons, not sand that lays in silence.  We are not merely those who believe, but those who follow…and lead others to do the same.  Right?

Almighty God, we have no interest in embarrassing our Lord with obnoxious religious behavior.  But neither are we interested in letting the Gospel we know to be true become a legend untold and unillustrated.  If there has ever been an age to let the Light of Christ be shined, it is today.  Help me shine.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not My Home

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16
So, where are you from?
Maybe you are like me in that I have lived in a good number of Texas towns and cities.  Born in Abilene, across my 49 years, I’ve lived in Hawley, Tuscola, Sundown, Rochester, Amherst, O’Donnell, Wolfforth, Roscoe, Clyde, College Station, Eula, and Weatherford.  At different times over the last 21 years, I’ve lived in three separate homes here in Weatherford alone. 

I have occasion to drive past the former residences now and again and the familiarity is always strange.  They look just like they did when I lived in them…like I could pull right up in the driveway, walk in, and fix myself a glass of iced tea.  My belongings would be there, and so would my family.  But that isn’t true of course.  As I look at the home, say over on Case street, or Mockingbird lane, I realize that I was just a traveller through time there.  A pilgrim…and that abode was but a temporary residence. 

It’s a little humbling to realize the same is true about where we live now on Ellis Creek drive.  The house there is where I call home, and yet…I do realize that this too is only temporary.  How long will Laura and I reside there? Ten years? Twenty?  Is this house my final earthly dwelling or will there be others?  All that is truly certain is that I slept there last night and plan to be there tonight.  Right? Only the Lord knows the events that lay ahead.

Not Here…But There
The further I travel down the road of my Christian faith, there is a truth that becomes remarkably more and more clear.  This world is not my home.  Oh, it feels like home, to be sure.  It’s all I’ve ever known.  I know the feel of the wind and sun on my face.  I’ve come to know the sounds and smells and anticipate the seasons.  The fellowship of family and friends are familiar as we all move forward on this line of time…but this world is NOT where we belong!  It’s…well, it’s temporary.  We didn’t get this as children, but as adults, we know it all too clearly as we’ve felt the sting of family and friends…even pets as they’ve been here one day for us to love and share with, and then are absent from us the next.  This is home for only a little while…for a season.  And then the season is over.

If we stop reading there, it really can be a depressing consideration.  Nothing lasts forever.  Nothing we have, nothing we do, nothing we are…nothing.  It’s all temporary. 

But there IS an eternal element to us, isn’t there.  We were created beings of three parts: body, mind, and…SPIRIT.  And that last part…the spirit is eternal.  We have a soul that is the MOST important part.  It is for our soul that Jesus lived and died, and was resurrected.  He didn’t die for our homes or cars, or for our body.  He redeemed our souls…the eternal parts of us because he KNEW what we have to figure out and understand: This life is not the point. 

This world is not our home.  I’ve said it before: This life is to eternity what pregnancy is to this life.  It is the ‘making ready.’  What would pregnancy be if there was no birth, no life in this world? But there IS life in this world, which makes pregnancy only a prelude.  So also is this life to eternity.  Life without eternity is vain…empty of promise, only a meaningless ride on a celestial ball with sight, sound, and varied experiences…and then a meaningless death. 

But weave the Love of God into the picture and everything changes!  Factor in the cross of Calvary and the Resurrection of Jesus and the storyline is changed forever!  Realize that we are being fashioned into the image of our beautiful Savior and that soon…and very soon we will be with him.  In the mean time, we are to live as he lived; love as he loved; serve as he served, and live has meaning and purpose. 

Don’t get attached to this place friend.  We are just passing through.  It may be where we sleep tonight, but it isn’t really home…not…not really our home.  No, home is ahead.  Take pictures, love people, grow plants and cut the grass.  You’ll be here for a while.  But wait until you see what is coming.  Oh man!  It’s going to be amazing!


Almighty God, keep my eyes on the prize here.  This world is so beautiful and amazing, and this life an unspeakable gift.  Yet, you have placed us here only for a moment.  How amazing must heaven be?  Let me breathe deeply this life as I prepare for the life to come, and make me an example of your promise for that which is to come.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beach Camp Blessing

Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. "Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD. Jeremiah 1:4-8

Over the past months our students have looked forward to Beach Camp in Panama City beach, Florida.  Many of them worked and saved for this very special week and the time with their friends.  As the camp approached our student ministers and some of the students would ask me if I was going.  Normally I would go down to camp for a day or so here in Texas but this was a different situation.  The thought of 15 hours on a bus and getting my daily work completed for the time I was gone pretty well canceled any consideration.  There was also the thought of hard mattresses, no sleep and noise like only teenagers can enjoy.  However, I began to see what a great opportunity this was to connect with the students and, even more, listen to them and discover the needs in their lives and their families.  I don’t know that they or I were aware of just how God was going to reveal Himself during the week.

By the time I arrived, God had already manifested His presence in a mighty way in their first worship.  Kids were saved, many sought forgiveness and others committed to lifetime service to Christ.  It was like the purpose of the camp was achieved in the first night; but it was only the beginning.  You see, one of the most difficult parts of spiritual growth is God getting our attention.  Breaking into our lives and getting us focused on our need and His desires is not easy.  After He has our attention He can begin to transform us into the image of His Son but capturing our focus is not easy.  That is why camp is so important to these students.  God gets a chance to meet with them and have a part in their lives.

Can you picture over 200 young people listening to a sermon for over an hour?  Can you imagine senior boys weeping and hugging each other in comfort and joy as they pour out their hearts to God?  How would your heart be touched to see 100 young men committing to God and each other to be Mighty Men of God like David’s men? 

As I watched and listened it was confirmed…this was where I was supposed to be.  Where else can a pastor be during the week that he can spend time with over 200 of his church?  I knew that just being a part of this had brought these students and me closer together.  They were openly confessing their pain and their desire for healing and God’s power in their lives.  Any pastor longs to hear this from his congregation regardless of their age.  Yes, I know that mountaintop experiences have to be tested in the valley.  But can we not open our hearts to receive a glimpse of the mountain to inspire us in our walk.  Bring it home students!

As I flew home I wondered if God could use these students to reveal Himself in a fresh and powerful way to their parents as well as their friends.  My thoughts went directly to Jeremiah 1:7 and God’s affirmation of Jeremiah as a youth.  There is no doubt that He can use youth  as Paul also told Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12  May God use these young lives to challenge us to a deeper and more vibrant faith and walk.

Scripture to Claim:
For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth. Psalms 71:5

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