Monday, April 18, 2011


On Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning of this week, the Apostles were hopeless.  They had seen their leader executed before their very eyes.  There was a bounty out on each one of their heads.  What had started out as a glorious week of triumph as they victoriously entered Jerusalem had now become a life and death struggle for survival.  They were wanted men and had nowhere to go.  Their insurrection had been snuffed out in just a few hours and their unbeatable commander was in the grave.  No hope!  Their dreams had been shattered.  Their visions of grandeur had been trampled.  One of their cohorts was also missing.  They were hiding away, counting on the charity of a few women as they plotted their escape from Jerusalem.  But where could they go and what could they do?  They certainly couldn't return to their jobs because the Romans would be hunting them down to bring them to justice.  No hope!

We may not be a band of outlaws on the run and boxed in, but we have been in hopeless situations.  We have faced the death of loved ones and there was nothing we could do.  We have been told we have an aggressive form of cancer and the doctors have no cure for it.  We have spent all of our money and there are still more bills piling up and needing to be paid.  We have invested in a relationship which has just come crashing down.  We have tried our best in Algebra and it looks like we will fail with Summer school on the horizon and we may not even graduate.  Our boss has told us that the business has gone bankrupt and in two weeks we will be unemployed.  The list of hopeless situations could go on and not.

The point of this Sip is not to dwell on the overwhelming circumstances we face, but to remember the One who conquered the most deadly and damaging of circumstances - Jesus, the Messiah.  On Sunday morning, a hopeless situation turned into a life-changing situation for those eleven Apostles.  Jesus did what He said He would do - He rose from the grave!  Resurrection power kicked in!  Good Friday was followed by Easter morning.  These Apostles who had been hidden away for fear of being arrested, tortured and killed, now boldly stepped out to tell of the risen Savior.  They willingly gave their lives as martyrs because of Resurrection Sunday.  This Sunday had such a profound impact on their lives that they changed the day of Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

Of course, you know where I'm headed with this.  If we focus on the circumstances, we will never experience resurrection power.  Jesus does not promise to make all of our pain go away, but He does promise to be there in the midst with us.  He promises to give us comfort and peace.  He promises to never leave and abandon us.  He promises that ALL things will work for the good.  He promises to give us an eternal home in Heaven where thieves can't break in and steal and where moth & rust cannot corrode.  We are simply passing through in this life on the way to that awesome home He prepared for us.

Colossians 1:27 reminds us, "To them God has chosen to make know among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory".  We always have hope!  We are never in a hopeless situation!  Would you take a moment to thank God for the situation you are in now and celebrate His power at work in you?  Let's stop living self-centered and sadly.  Let's live like Jesus has conquered death for anyone who will trust Him!  We have THE hope!

I pray this Sip will refresh your soul to face the struggle God has brought into your life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What Am I Losing?

When I first started pastoring, I had an older pastor take me out to lunch.  He wanted to impart his wisdom from his many years of ministry, of which I was grateful.  He shared some very beneficial comments with me which I have tried to incorporate and be more effective as a pastor.  But he said one thing which caught me off guard.  He told me that he didn't understand the new breed of pastors who felt it was okay to take a day off.  Then he went on to tell me that he never took a day off because Satan never took a day off.  I kept my comments to myself, but my first thought was, "I'm trying to imitate Jesus and He took a day off".  But that comment may not have been appropriate at that moment.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I didn't take one day off, I took two days off during the week.  Here was a man of God whose whole life revolved around the church, which had kept him from spending much time in the world where most of his church lived.

A few years later, I was talking story with a pastor of one of the largest churches in our country.  As we talked, he told me he was so busy with what God was doing at the church that he had not been home for one evening in the past three months.  Now, he was a station in life where his kids were grown and out of the house, but I was stunned by that.

Now, I don't share these two pastors with you to run them down, but to point out a truth of Scripture.  Take a moment to read Matthew 16:24-26. 

In reading this passage, we see Jesus call us to follow Him, taking up our cross.  Many Christians I know would look at these two pastors as examples of what Jesus meant.  However, I believe when we get so busy with church work that our family and even our own health is neglected, we are being disobedient.  Jesus lived a balanced life and we often find Him getting away from even His closest friends so He could be refreshed and recharged.  If Jesus needed that, we certainly need that.

May I paraphrase Matthew 16:26 in this way?  "What does it profit a pastor to grow a huge church and yet lose his own family".  Our first area of ministry is to our family.  We also need to model for them a healthy and balanced life so they will have a road map for their own lives.  We model the wrong thing whenever our family gets the leftovers.  We can get so busy with work and providing for our family that we forget our spouse and children would much rather have our time that our provisions.  Our family can survive without The Dish, but they cannot survive without our love.  Oh, they can learn to make do without us.  But the day comes when we finally have time to spend with them and be shocked to find that they no longer have time for us.

I guess my burden is for us to make the most of the time we have to love our family members.  Maybe you and your spouse have grown distant and rarely talk.  How about getting a baby-sitter and taking him/her out on a date.  Maybe you have been so busy with the important details of your life that you haven't had time to talk with your parents.  How about stopping by for a visit or giving them a call and just listening?  As our parents grow older, they long more and more to have time with their children.  Maybe your kids rarely see you because of your many activities.  Maybe it's time to say "no" to some of those activities and "yes" to just hanging out with your kids. 

What does it profit us to be a success in the world and a failure at home?  May this Sip bring refreshment to you so you can refresh your family!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is it very valuable?

On Saturday, May 7th, my brother will host a golf tournament in memory of his late son, Neil, to raise scholarship for needy kids to attend the school his son was attending when he died.  The tournament is called the Neil Goslen Neighbor's Grove Open or the shorter form in the NGNGO.  One of the fund-raising methods is a silent sports auction with sports memorabilia up for bid.  You can actually check out the items and make bids on line by going to www.ngngo.og and look up items and make bids.  Since I live so far away, I wanted to help my brother with this auction, so I have been contacting sports icons and getting their autographs on cards.  One of my favorites in an autographed card of Vida Blue, former pitcher for the Oakland A's.  The card itself is worth about $3 if it is in pristine condition.  But with his autograph, it is worth from $30-$50!  The value increases dramatically.

I was thinking about my own life.  I look at what has taken place in my life and I realize the history books will not remember me.  I have found no cure to a disease.  I have not held public office.  I have not led an army to a glorious victory.  I have never recorded a gold or platinum album.  I have not made it into any sports hall of fame.  In all honesty, I have not even served at a large church.  I have never written a book or been asked to speak before thousands of people.  That is usually reserved for those pastors who grow a church to be huge.  In the grand scheme of things, my life would seem to be insignificant.

Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you find yourself in the same boat as me.  I doubt many famous people are reading this blog, waiting each week for the latest Sip to be published on line.  Of course, this probably applies to 99.9% of the world's population, so we are in good company.

Does that mean we are just marking time?  Does that mean our lives really don't count for much?  Does that mean we really aren't valuable?  maybe we are like the myriad of baseball players who played in the minor leagues and never go to the Show.

Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us a different story.  Please take a moment to read this passage and you might be surprised at how valuable you really are.

My life has value, not because of what I have done.  According to this passage, my life has great value because of the one who has signed His autograph on my heart.  The passage reminds me that I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.  He is a deposit which guarantees my eternal life.  My life has meaning, purpose and value because the moment I received Jesus as my Savior, the Holy Spirit came to live in me.  I am now God's possession.  That makes me valuable.  If you have received Jesus as your salvation, you have been given the gift of eternal life.  You have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and that makes your life valuable.  So, as God's possession, every movement we make can be redeemed and valuable.  We don't measure ourselves by the world's fifteen minutes of fame, but by the lives we touch by our faithfulness.

So as you go through this day and this week, allow the Holy Spirit to utilize every conversation and activity to draw someone to Christ.  May this Sip refresh you and allow you to better serve the Lord.