Monday, October 31, 2016

Desiring and Having

(submitted by Kerry Patton)

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.”
Psalm 37:3-6
What do you want?
Unbridled desire can be a treacherous thing…and not just in a sexual sense.  The desire for anything can become consuming to the point that all proper perspective is lost and the only thing in our vision is that thing…whatever it is.  And the diversity of that thing can be vast.  Desire may set its eye upon a relationship, or a material possession.  It can be something as simple as a personal goal, or as complex as the control of a company, a group of people, or an entire country.  When we become so fixated on one thing, our vision becomes practically blinded.  We become myopic to everything except what we desire.  I hear this sometimes in counseling persons who are looking back on a bad decision, or a moral or ethical failure.  Common in their stories are words similar to: “I don’t know what I was thinking…It’s like…all I could see was (insert their failure or decision).  Nothing else mattered.  I didn’t think about the consequences…”
Merriam Webster defines the word Myopia as:
·       a condition in which the visual images come to a focus in front of the retina of the eye resulting especially in defective vision of distant objects… and
·       a lack of foresight or discernment:   a narrow view of something.
Have you ever been so captivated by a temptation…or a possession…or a relationship…that you could not see anything else?  Have you fallen into spiritual or relational, or material myopia?  I have.  I think at one time or another everyone has.  And the end result of me being there is generally the same: having is rarely the same as desiring.  I say again for emphasis: “Having is rarely the same as desiring.”  Most generally, whatever thing that catches my eye brings far less satisfaction upon having it as the yearning I suffered while captivated in desiring it.  In our faith, this could be described as temptation.
James 1:14-15 says: 14…but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Changing Desires
Verses 4 and 5 of Psalm 37 speak wisdom into the realm of what we desire: “4Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the Lord…” The logic could be easily misunderstood.  “Hey… If I will simply get really committed to the Lord, and take my delight in him, then he will give me every desire of my heart!”  Uh…no.  That’s not the point.  The point is that as I take delight in the Lord and commit my way to him, I find that my desires change, my priorities change, and the passions of my heart are transformed toward higher and better desires, priorities, relationships, goals, needs…EVERYTHING becomes more and more Christ like.  And truly, that is the point, isn’t it.  Not whether I get what has enticed my flesh or ambition.

Adjust Your Advertising
Every year, more money is spent than you and I could count on advertising.  Everything is for sale: clothes, food, automobiles, sex, cigarettes, and…you name it...  It’s being marketed to us through television, radio, print, internet ads, music, and movies.  We are being directly baited to buy into things that we may not necessarily need.  Yet millions upon millions upon millions are being spent to ensure that we suddenly realize how much we “need” those things.
The same thing is happening in the spiritual realm.  Satan and his minions are without ceasing in their campaign to get humanity to buy into any number of indulgent sins at any given time.  They are “advertising” toward the human heart and mind to get us to become myopic toward what he is selling: eternal condemnation and spiritual death.  If we are wise, however, we will recognize how we are being attacked and we will refocus our attention away from what is being sold.  We can avoid spiritual myopia quite simply by being evermore diligent about keeping our eyes on Jesus.  As the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:8-9:
 8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”


Almighty God, your word describes the human heart as deceitful…and truly it is.  Today, I pray for and inventory of those things I desire.  As King David prayed, “Search me, O God and know my heart, try me and know my mind…and see if there be any wicked way in me.”  Teach me to set my desires upon you so that what I will have is what you desire for me.   In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Good Name

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.”
Proverbs 22:1
What’s in a Name?
I can’t imagine what it would be like to carry the burden of an infamous name.  Imagine if any of us had been born a son or daughter of Charles Manson, or Lee Harvey Oswald.  Can you imagine growing up and having to explain over and over… “Yeah, Charles Manson…he’s my dad.”? In public interviews, Rachel Oswald Porter & June Oswald Porter, daughters of Lee Harvey Oswald, detail what life is like living with the legacy of their infamous father. 
Another father, Isidore Heath Campbell gained national infamy in 2008 when he insisted that a baker spell out his son’s full name on his birthday cake. This became controversial because the child’s full name is Adolf Hitler Campbell.  Why?!?!  What was this parent thinking?

My Own Inheritance
I’m very proud of my name.  My father gave me a good name…as did his father give him.  We both share the middle name of David, after the Biblical King.  Dad entered the ministry in 1959 and retired in 2005.  After being retired for a year, he re-entered the ministry and served another few years until health issues forced him to retire completely. 
Growing up, I remember feeling proud that I was the son of Norman Patton.  Not simply on Sunday mornings, but also at many a Friday night High School Football games as my father’s name would be spoken over the public address system: “And now, leading our invocation is Norman Patton, Pastor of First United Methodist Church.”  And then would come my father’s distinct voice: “Let us pray…”  Countless times, I would introduce myself to someone and hear the reply: “Oh okay…You are Norman’s son!” 
Never was my father’s name anything to be ashamed of.  He gave me a good name. I likewise desire to give my sons and daughters a good name.

Jesus Jr.
According to Biblical record and traditional accounts, Jesus, the son of Mary, begotten of God by the Holy spirit, never took a wife, nor bore any offspring.  Yet, I suggest to you that he has given us, through our adoption into the faith, a Good Name.  Have you ever thought about that?  As members of the Christian faith, we assume the title of “Christian.” 
Acts 11:26 tells us that followers of Jesus were first called Christian at Antioch.  The Greek word for Christian, Χριστιανός, is best transliterated as: Christianos, and is perhaps best defined as “follower of Christ.  Χριστός (Christos), meaning “anointed one”, and an added descriptor -ιανός (-ianos) which is a Greek diminutive which carries in this case essentially a double influence upon the word it is attached to.  Effectively, it renders Christianos to mean: “Little follower of the anointed one.” 
History tells us that the term was initially meant as a derogatory reference used against the early followers of Jesus.  However, it came to be cherished by the followers themselves as a badge of honor.  We can almost hear the echoes of those sneeringly jeering at the early Christians… “Oh look!  Here comes one of those little followers of the ‘anointed one’…”  To which, the body of believers eventually came to essentially respond: “Yes.  Yes, I am a Christian.” because they came to realize that they had been given a GOOD name. 

The Name Above All Names
Philippians 2:8-11 reads:
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [a]on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
As a follower of Christ; a bearer of His name, I feel the weight of responsibility upon my shoulders to live up to His good name.  I feel the responsibility to live before my children, as well as those younger than me in the faith, and the non-believers of this world to imitate as well as I am able to the life and example of Jesus, for it would grieve me deeply should I cause anyone to stumble in coming to follow Jesus themselves, or hinder his or her growth in the faith.  For they too, have been given a Good Name in the resurrected Son of the Living God…and I dare not cast a stain nor dispersion upon it.


Almighty God, guide my steps.  Set a guard over my mouth, and lead me in your way.  You have given me a good name, an honorable estate, a place of esteem in this world that I hold so dear.  Help each of us, O God, to ever live in such a way as to bring you glory, and show others the loving Christ for which we are named.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Heart of Serving

by David Miller

I know that one of the basic fundamentals that we hear as Christians is servanthood.  We are taught that to lead we must first learn to serve.  It is the idea of servant leadership.  But what is there about servant leadership that is so important. 
First and foremost, it was modeled by Christ Himself and Peter addresses it in his first book.  "Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, [his speech should be] like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, [his service should be] from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."  -1 Peter 4:10-11 (HCSB)
Bottom line -- it is hard to serve others especially since we live in such a competitive world. What does it mean to serve others?  If it had been you in the situation above, would you have turned to go back? When it comes to serving others as Christians, there are 4 P's at the heart of serving that God can use in our lives: Power, Purpose, Plan and Passion.
1. The Power of Serving:  There is power in serving others. Not natural power but supernatural power. It is not about getting power but giving power. Many people serve so that they can be served. This is not serving that pleases God. Power comes through purity. As Christians we are supposed to be different; set apart for God purposes and ready to be used by Him. In 2 Timothy 2:21-22, Paul writes, "So if anyone purifies himself from these things, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
2. The Purpose of Serving:  The purpose of serving is "For His Glory" -- that is, God's glory. After we have served others, they should say, "God is good," not "You are good." The purpose of serving is to lift the name of Jesus. Period. When we serve, we represent to the world what Jesus looks like.
3. The Plan of Serving: The game plan of serving is simple. Take every gift, skill, talent and ability that God has given you and use it to serve others. Whatever that talent is, use it for His purpose.  You experience joy when you do what God has created you to do. It is in serving that we truly lead. 
4. The Passion of Serving:  The passion comes from the heart. We know all about passion when it comes to our school, sports, etc. But do we have passion to serve. Does it consume us? Do we say, "Who can I serve today?" Samuel Chadwick nailed it when he wrote these words. "Spirit-filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They serve with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the fire of God."
So here are my challenges for you today:

  1. Is there power in your serving?
  2. Is there a purpose when you serve?
  3. Do you have a specific plan to serve others? Are you using your gifts to serve?
  4. Are you serving with a passion that consumes?
  5. Is your serving ablaze for God?

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