Sunday, March 2, 2014

It's Been Thirty Seven Years, and I'm Still Ashamed!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue:
 and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Psalm 18:21

It's Been Thirty Seven Years, and I'm Still Ashamed. I was a junior in high school. I even remember exactly where it was: headed up the front "B" wing stair case. I remember exactly what I said, and to whom I said it. And, to this day, when I think of my words and the harm it could have done, I cringe.  

As I walked up the stairs, a girl, one of my class mates passed me. That's when I said it; one sentence, six words that would start a small fire storm. (If you went to high school with me and are reading this, you may or may not know about this incident. If you don't know, don't ask. If you happen to remember, please be discrete. I am omitting names deliberately.)
I said it to sound cool. I said it to impress the one listening: it did neither. It was not true. It was something I heard said by another classmate. It was vulgar, senseless, and worst of all, false. How could I say something so flippant and so destructive? 

Strange that I could be so careless when only a year earlier I had been the object of such a rumor. I was deeply involved in an organization at my high school in which I was training for what I thought would be my future career. A rumor was started within that organization that I had reported another member for smoking pot. It was not true. I didn't know of anyone in our group that smoked pot; nor would I have ever said anything, if I had known. Nobody wants to be labelled "a nark." But labelled I was. I was ostracised by the entire group. I was warned that I was facing severe reprisal. They would have made good on their threats had it not been for a mutual friend who intervened. Within a week the it was all cleared up and I was back in their good graces. But I could not get past how quickly my "companions" turned on me. At the end of the year, I left that organization and my life took a completely different direction: all because of one rumor. So it makes no since that I would commit the same awful transgression that had caused me so much grief. 

As with all rumors it didn't take long to have its effect. Two days later another classmate confronted me. She was of the impression I had made the statement about her. I explained, "No! I was talking about this other girl!" Well that made it all better! Now I had spread the rumor further. It didn't take long for my words to get back to the girl about whom I had lied. One of our mutual friends confronted. His name was Tim. His is the only name I'm using. He was well loved and respected by all who knew him including me. Tim first asked me if I had said it. He didn't jump to conclusions. He had learned something about integrity that I had not learned at seventeen. He was not threatening, nor did he lose his temper. But he let me know in no uncertain terms that I what I said was hurtful and unacceptable. 

As sincerely as I could, I apologized. I asked him to tell her I was very sorry for my words, and it would never happen again. Although Tim and I got along after that, we never had much of a friendship. Fortunately, nobody really believed the lie. The only one who's reputation was damaged was mine. I lost the respect and friendship of about a dozen or so acquaintances in our circle. I'm happy it wasn't worse. It usually is. If we are to guard anything, it is our words, 

If you were to mention me or the incident to this woman, she may or may not remember. I would like to think she has long forgotten. After all, it has been thirty seven years. But, I cannot know that. Nor can I forget. The Bible says: Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, 
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Col. 4:6) 

Measure your words. We can never measure their damage or their benefit. 

Just a thought.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day: An Awkward Day for Me This Year.

LD Cannon circa 1947
 "How do you feel about Father's Day?" would be a hard question to answer for me this year.
This coming Sunday is Father's Day. I have a lot of mixed emotions about Father's Day this year, and quite frankly, I am having a little trouble processing it all.

First, I am coming to grips with the fact that this is the first Father's Day since my dad passed away.  (Reference my earlier blog from November honoring my dad at his passing.) The last part of his life he suffered dew to Parkinson's disease. Because of his suffering, in a way, I felt relief, knowing his suffering was ended. Although he and I were distant geographically, we were very close all my life. But I can't call him tomorrow to wish him a Happy Father's Day. Albeit I know Heaven is a happier place this year with him there. So, this year I join the ranks of those remembering dad en absentia.

What makes Father's Day a little unique for me is the path of fatherhood I have chosen. We have six children; all adopted: all at different ages. Our first daughter we adopted at birth. We later adopted a sibling group of three; ages nine to twelve, the later, two sisters ages nine and thirteen. Each of these children bring a different perspective to Mother's Day and Father's Day. They are all old enough to have memories of biological parents, so they bring their own perspective to Father's Day. It is a hard day for some of them. 

Holidays were always a little awkward at our house; each family member coping with the reminder of what was lost. It was seldom spoken in those terms by most of us, but we all felt it. That idea of, "What if things were different?" was always there. My wife and I had a truly monumental task of bringing "normal" to the mix. (Please do not tell me what saints we are for what we did. We saw an opportunity to give something we had to give, with no guarantee it would be accepted or appreciated. We did what we could to make a difference.)

Those children are now ages twenty two to thirty. Some have reunited with their bio-families, but all still keep in touch with us. They still love us, and still call us "Mom and Dad." But that title means something different to all of them. When my kids left home I gave them all the same two statements. First, "I will always be here, and I'll always be dad." Second, "You, as an adult will now chose how close a relationship we have. I will not chase you down. I will not hover. If you choose to be close, I'm here and grateful for it. If you are distant, I'll be right where you left me. If you come back in later years, we will pick up where we left off." 

Of course, the response to that statement is as varied as the children themselves. It even varies with each  child with time. Some are close, some not so much. Some close for awhile, then distant, and back again. Today we are all on good terms. I love them all dearly, and can honestly say I don't have a favorite. (This will certainly be disputed should my children read this, but oh well.) I am proud of what they have all achieved, and I tell them so every chance they give me. Chances are, I will hear from most of them on Sunday; either with a gift, by phone call, card or text message. I will be grateful for what I get. 

To top it off, my wife and I are now foster parents and have three little boys in out home ages two to four! They are, in their young minds dealing with their own definition of family. It is a sad but present part of our culture. Again, my beloved bride and I are just trying to do what we can.

With this back story, I anticipate a very emotional Father's Day. All I ever wanted to be was a husband, a father and a pastor; in that order. These three titles are the only ones that matter to me. It has never been what I anticipated. Before taking custody of the three sibs their foster mother asked me, "Mr. Cannon do you have any idea what you're getting yourself into!!??" I replied, "No ma'am, I don't. But neither do they. We'll just have to figure it out as we go." I'm not sure I ever figured it all out, but I'm glad for their sakes that we tried. I guess that's fatherhood. Figuring it out as you go; looking the men who filled that roll for you while figuring out. 

I hope Father's Day is a happy day for you. I hope those of you who still have your dads present will draw close to them and linger. If, like me, your dad is no longer present, I pray you find comfort in his memory and what he instilled in you while you had him. If you are one who's dad chose not to be in the picture, I hope you find the strength and courage to be in the picture for others. It's what you can do. 

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Pastor's Thoughts on the Resurrection

A Pastor's Thoughts on the Resurrection

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1 Cor. 15; ,3, 4

 Today is Easter Sunday. This day has been called the Prince of Sundays. It is called that because is it on this day that we commemorate the resurrection of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. How important is the resurrection? Why is it significant that Christ died for our sins, then rose again? Some theologians and scholars have downplayed the importance of the resurrection.     
So, what is the resurrection? What is its importance?

    The resurrection is the key to all we as born again Christians hold dear. The resurrection is key to our salvation. Without the resurrection we have a savior on the cross. Without the resurrection we have a King in the grave. Without the resurrection our hope lies in a crypt; our confidence rests in a coffin. Our defense is in one who is defeated, and our protection in one held captive.
    How can the dead offer life to the living? How can the tomb hold the key to redemption? Truly, outside of the cross of Calvary we must toil and sacrifice to a vengeful God with little hope of mercy. And truly, outside of the resurrection we must bow to a religious system that relegates our relationship with God to little more than ancestor worship. Without blood there is no remission, and without the victory there is not spoil.

    But, as the angel in Luke 24 ; 2 asked, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen." He is risen. Those words turn a cross into an alter. Those words turn a sacrifice into a Savior. "He is risen!" Those words shake the gates of Hell, open the windows of Heaven, bring peace to the cursed Earth and make the grave into a pleasant place to wait for the resurrection.
    "He is risen" turns wrath to mercy.
    "He is risen" turns death to life.
    "He is risen" turns judgment to grace.
    "He is risen" turns fear into hope.

Because of the resurrection we can look to the cross and be saved by one who conquered Hell for us. Because of the resurrection we can face the grave holding the hand of one who defeated death and the grave. Because of the resurrection, Hells dread is turned to Heavens hope. 

    In that we now have the confidence given us by the resurrection of Christ, we rest in the confidence of our resurrection in the last day. Easter Sunday is our day. It is resurrection Sunday. Rest in it; joy in it; celebrate in the day of His resurrection. The glory of the cross and the hope of the resurrection are in Him. "He is risen."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Dad

Last week, we said goodbye to one of the dearest men I've ever been blessed to know: my Dad. Dad went home to be with the Lord last Saturday after a long illness. I had the privilege of eulogizing him. I wanted to share this in honor of LD Cannon today.

 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
                             Psalm 16: 5, 6

As I considered how to best eulogize the man I call Dad, two things came to mind. The first was this verse in Psalm 16:6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
When Steven Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer passed away he was one of the wealthiest men in the world. Someone asked, "How much did he leave?" The reply came back, "All of it!"
The second thing was a conversation I had with dad in which he told me about a chat he had with my niece, Jennifer. I think Jen was about 10 years old. She asked dad, "Grand dad, are you rich?" Then he said he thought about that question; "are you rich?..." 

I have a goodly heritage. 

 I heard about a man who actually believed the purpose of the funeral was to read the will. We'll not do that today. But let me share with you today what LD Cannon did leave for us.

First, he left us a very rare and very valuable work ethic.
Dad was born into abject poverty the son of a share cropper on a cotton farm in Arkansas. My grandfather died when dad was only three years old. He was raised by a step father who, by all accounts was a very harsh man. Dad dropped out of school in sixth grade to work the cotton fields. At 15, he moved to Dallas, Texas to live with his older brother. He worked in job shops by day, and went to trade school by night. He worked! Dad was never one to lay around. He always had a job; often two jobs to take care of his family. He was blue collar, working class people. He passed that work ethic on to us. That's how two people who didn't even graduate from high school raised 3 kids; all with college degrees, all in professional fields. Years ago, during a phone call, one of his cousins was asking about the family. He said, "Well my oldest daughter is a high school teacher, my middle daughter is in the insurance business and my son Pastors a church in Kansas City. She replied, 'It's no surprise your kids did o.k. LD. You and Alma always worked like Trojans. And work, they did!

That brings me to the second thing LD Cannon left us; a priceless set of family values.
Dad was working in a machine shop that was across the street from a hat factory. There was this girl working at the hat factory that caught his eye.  She was asked if she would go on a date with him, she told a friend, "That boy's a smart alleck he'd be the last boy on earth I dated." True enough, He would be the last boy on earth she dated. They were married April 29th 1949. Mom and Dad dedicated sixty three years to one another in marriage. The thought of my family splitting up never crossed my mind. I never wondered when dad was coming home. He was a husband and a father who took his commitment seriously. We learned that marriage is a commitment. Its really not a surprise, and its not a coincidence that their three children have had strong long-term marriages. We came by it honest. Mom said one time, "We never considered divorce ... murder, maybe, but never divorce

Yes! The third thing we inherited was a valuable since of humor.
We laughed as a family. Times were not always easy, but we had our laughs. Dad had a dry kind-of back handed since of humor. I remember asking him one time if I could borrow a chain saw. He said, "I don't have one, but what do you need one for?" I said we were clearing some land at our church to build a parking lot. Being a protective mother, Mom said, " YOU"RE not gonna be using a chain saw are you?" I said yes. Dad blurted out, "Boy, you better be careful with those things. You're only 21 and  I didn't use one o' them 'til I was 12." Mother gave him that look; the look only mom can give; the look I'm probably getting right now.  We grew up knowing how to laugh.
You see how, there was wisdom in his back-handed wit! When I turned 40, I spoke to my dad about it. I jokingly said it was too late for me to become a famous country singer. He said, Aw, son, you could have made it big if you had stuck to that."
I said, "Really? You think so?" Dad said yeah! Yer 40 years old now. If you had gone into country music, by now, you'd have 5 gold records,  3 ex wives and you'ld already be out of drug rehab! Then you could go sing Gospel in Branson!
See, there was perspective in that humor.

I believe the most important thing Dad gave us, was a his beautiful simple faith.
My dad was raised in a very legalistic religion; a religion that would send you to Hell for the slightest infraction. He found, as with all  religion based on works,  is always impossible to merit. But that girl he married was a Baptist preacher's daughter. When the time came, Papaw shared with dad the simple truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins. It was not a religion, it was a relationship! I have a picture in my office of my grand father baptizing my dad in a river. I have a recording of my dad testifying of how he, as a young man placed his faith and trust in Christ. He shared that simple faith with us: the Faith that teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

His favorite Bible verse was Matthew 11:28-30. I heard him quote it many times. 

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

That is the Gospel that I preach today.  He gave us that faith. 

"Grandad, are you rich?" He told her this:  "Well, I got a nice place to live; I got food on my table, I don't want for anything. I got great kids, and wonderful grand children. I got more than most people I know, so in that since, I guess I am rich."
Dad left us so many things: a strong work ethic, a since of commitment, a since of right and wrong; a dedication to family; a since of humor, a strong and simple faith. This is what my dad left to all those who's lives he touched. And if this is what we have received as the children and loved ones of LD Cannon, then we are truly very rich indeed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our Conversation is in Heaven
(From a sermon preached June 10, 2012 at Hope Baptist Church in Bettendorf, Iowa)

For our conversation is in heaven; 
from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Php 3:20
You're not from around here, are you?
I get that a lot here in Iowa. People catch onto my slow Texas drawl purty quick up in these parts. Why? because of my conversation. In this passage, the Apostle Paul uses the word "conversation." This is not simply our speech. It refers to our life style; our manner and custom. 

One of the difficulties we face as Christians in America is that we are Christians in America. We measure everything against our freedoms, our customs our "manner of life" which we have enjoyed being citizens of the most prosperous and free nation on Earth. We see our liberty being threatened and our way of life in danger of being lost to a socialist "nanny state" that controls all that is subsidizes, and subsidizes more and more each day. 

If we are not careful we will lose sight of the fact that, though our Christianity has been allowed to flourish in this free society, it is not a product of that freedom. True Christianity and Christian values existed long before America did. We get spoiled thinking that Christianity has given us our prosperity; it has not. Our prosperity is the result of a free society, and not all Christians have that.  Granted, our free society is due, largely to those founding fathers who sought to build a biblicly based society. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "A true democratic republic cannot exist unless founded on Christian values." But that free republic is only the fertile soil in which the Christian church has prospered.

We Christians are spoiled in America. 
We are spoiled in that we believe that our view of Christianity, our lifestyle, is indicative of what Christians have enjoyed throughout history, and it is not. The majority of Christians throughout history and even today have never experienced the liberty we have as Americans. Most Christians in the world are a poor and persecuted lot. Many are familiar with starvation, illness and poverty because many live in countries where that is the norm. If we as Americans point to our brand of Christianity and tell others around the world, "This is how it ought to be!" we are sending a scewed message to the world. Our missionaries are not to go and change society, they are to go and enlighten the hearts of men with the Gospel of Jesus Christ: to produce citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, not to "Americanize" them.

I am convinced more and more each day that we must get our eyes and our hearts adjusted to a "Kingdom world view." When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done." The Kingdom of which He spoke was not America! I love America! I love the freedoms I have here. She is truly the greatest nation on Earth. I am convinced that is because we were founded on biblical principles. But the Bible does not protect or promise my religious freedom, the Constitution of the United States does. And we know governments change. 

We need our conversation to be in Heaven again. I've heard it said that some people are so 'heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3:18  condemns those who "mind earthly things. I am reminded of the old hymn that we still sing occasionally in our services:

This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through. 
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. 
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door 
And I can't feel art home in this world any more."

Americans have heard so much preaching on America, they forget about Heaven.  Consider for a moment all the Scripture says we have in Heaven!

Our Father is in Heaven
Mt 6:1* Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Mt 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Our Savior is in Heaven
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Our relations are in Heaven
1Th 4:13-15 ¶ But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
Heb. 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Our riches are in Heaven
Mt 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Mt 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Heb 10:34* For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

Our inheritance is in Heaven
1 Pet. 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
 4* To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
 5* Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Our reward is in Heaven
Matt. 5:1 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
 12* Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Our Hope is in Heaven
Col 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Our reservation is in Heaven
Php 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Re 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

We are ambassadors for Christ here on Earth
2Cor 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Heb.  11:16* But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

I truly believe God's people can be no earthly good unless we are heavenly minded. Do you know your reservation is in Heaven? Have you, by faith placed your trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin? If you are not 100% sure you will go to Heaven when you die, please do not hesitate. Christ died on the cross to pay your sin debt and through Christ you can receive that free salvation. Confess to Him your sin and trust Him today. Make sure your reservation is made. If you have questions please contact me at my e-mail address: and I will gladly assist you in understanding the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is your conversation in Heaven?  

Thank you for reading

Sunday, April 22, 2012

God Knew Where He Would Find You.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee;

and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,

and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:5

For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.

Psalm 103:14

For He remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Psalm 78:39

In the 1800's men went out west and built their farms and ranches. Many times they would do this as single men, or they would go as married men and lose their wife in this rugged new world. So to get a wife they would go to organizations located back east to help them find a bride. Thus the advent of what came to be known as the "Mail order bride." Now if you think the idea of meeting a spouse by mail is odd, consider the following statistics (sources sited):

5% of Internet users have paid to use an online dating service. (Pew Internet Cash for Content Study - December 2010)

17% of couples that were married in the last three years met on an online dating service. (Chadwick Martin Bailey Study - April 2010)

1 out of every 5 singles in the United States have dated someone they met online (Chadwick Martin Bailey Study - April 2010)

Online Dating is the third most popular way for singles to meet, behind school/work and friend/family member. ( Chadwick Martin Bailey and Study - April 2010)

Imagine what it was like having a wife show up you had never met. Imagine travelling across the country, which took weeks back then, to meet your husband! Would you go through all that not knowing what you were getting?

Now let me translate that illustration into this truth about your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. On this day, this date, God wants to do something great an wonderful in your life. He wants to use you. He wants to forgive you, bless you and give you victory over the trial you are in. Ultimately, God wants to be glorified through your life. Some would say, "But my life is not what it should be. I have failed. I've messed up. God cannot do with me what He has done with others. I have too much baggage." God is not surprised by your baggage. He knew where He would find you!

My wife and I have six children; all adopted, five of which came out of foster care. When we took custody of our first sibling group of three, the state of Texas sent us a banker's box full in files of information on these kids and their background. We had medical records, court records, police reports, psych evaluations, (mostly wrong) placement hearing records and state reports. Under the laws of Texas, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, (TDPRS) had to divulge all information they had available to adoptive parents. This box of nearly 2000 pages of info on the kids was all they could tell us. I learned in the first year, that was about one tenth of what there was to know about my children. We had no idea the "baggage" with which they came.

When you come to Christ He knows all about your "baggage." The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet. God told Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

God said, "Before you were ever born, before you were completely formed in the womb, I knew you. I had a plan for you way back then."

He knew from the beginning your condition, your past your failures , your sin, your experience. In other words, He knows what He is getting. God knew where He would find you. He knew what He was getting when He called Jacob the "con artist" and changed his name to Israel, "Prince of God." God knew what he had when He used Rahab the harlot and Ruth, the gentile Moabite widow. Look closely at Scripture and you will see both of these gentile women in the lineage of Jesus Christ. He knew what he was getting when He found Saul hiding behind the cattle; when He found Gideon hiding in the threshing floor and when he found Moses hiding in the wilderness.

God knew what he was getting when he reached out to the crippled man at the pool of Siloam, to the woman at the well and to the thief on the cross. God was not caught off guard by the arrogance of Peter, the religious zeal of Paul, the fearfulness of John or the doubtfulness of Thomas. And God knew what He was getting when He reached out to you.

The late Dr. Curtis Hutson used to say, "Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God?" God knows us! He knows our failures, our past, our sin. God knows what He is getting.

This is all part of God's divine plan for you!

He found you in sin with a plan to forgive you.

He found you in your grief with a plan to comfort you.

He found you in your sickness with a plan to heal you.

He found you in you loneliness with a plan to walk beside you.

He found a you in your weakness with a plan to make you strong.

God knew where He would find you. Now let Him take you where He wants you to be. Let Him do the cleansing and the healing. Let Him change you. One Pastor I know will say to the congregation, "Come as you are, but leave changed." That is the work of grace in the life of a sinner. As a Pastor, I might be surprised by what I find in the life of a person, but God is never surprised. God knew where He would find you.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Out of Weakness Made Strong

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak,

and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong,

waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Hebrew 11:32-34

"There is so much more I would do for God if I were ..." and you fill in the blank. So often, God's people are stymied, dettered, even crippled in this thing we call faith. "I desire to walk closer with God, do more, do greater but I can't because of ...." and you fill in the blank.

There are two things in play here: the objective and the obstacle. Whatever the objective is, I want to focus on the obstacle.

The obstacle might be a past failure, a sin habit or simply some perceived inability. Whatever the obstacle, we can refer to it as our "weakness." We know our failures. We know what stands in our way. People spend thousands of dollars going to "motivation speakers" trying to figure out how to overcome their weakness. That may have some positive results but there always seems to be another "weakness" crop up that needs to be conquered. I have good news! Being a faithful, faith-filled Christian is not about being strong! Its about being weak!

Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the "Hall of faith;" a chronicle of great people of God doing great things because of their great faith. But these are not great because of their faith. I read the names in this chapter and think, "great faith? Really? Abraham lied about his wife to Abimelek to keep from being killed. Moses killed an Egyptian and ran off in the desert for 40 years. Noah got drunk! David ran from his own son and hid. Gideon gave us the phrase, "putting out a fleece" because he did it repeatedly after God spoke to him. Now, before you think I'm judging, let me say these were all great men; not because they had great faith, but because they had faith in a great God! These were men of weakness and flesh just as we are. The key is not overcoming weakness, but rather what God did in it. Let me give you a few facts to help change your outlook.

God knows how weak we are.

For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.

Psalm 103:14

Our Creator deals with us as we are. We are fallen creatures. We have nothing to bring to the table and say, "Here ya go LORD! This is what You need to do great things!" No. We are dust. I know the positive thinkers won't like it, but we are nothing outside of the grace of God. He knows our weakness and He is o.k. with that! That IS good news!

Our weakness, not our strength, shows our faith.

My former Pastor, Dr. Bob Smith used to say, "If you can figure out a way to do it on your own, it's not faith. Faith is not the lack of doubt or weakness. Faith is when the doubtful and the weak act, trusting God. Four times in the Psalms, David the great fierce warrior prayed, "Help me." 15 times, he prayed, "save me." And four times in the Psalms he prayed, "hide me." Does that sound like a man without weakness. No. It sound like a man who has God as a source of strength. The father of a sick child came to Jesus asking for healing.

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Mark 9:23,24

Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. To me, that is one of the most moving statements in Scripture! Isn't it great to know that there is help for our unbelief; that unbelief is a qualification and not a disqualification for crying out to God?

God relies on our weakness.

The Apostle Paul was used or the Holy Spirit to pen 13 books of the New Testament. He was highly educated. God used him in great ways. But Paul does not glory in his abilities. He glories in his weakness.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations,

there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

1 Corinthians 12:7-9

God's strength is made perfect (completed) in our weakness. That is why Paul says, " Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." What good is an all powerful God if He has no one to for whom He can be strong. Where is He glorified in the lives of His children if we would "rather do it ourselves?"

You can have faith because you are weak.

Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6:25-30

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;

nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;

yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven,

shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

When I am convinced that I cannot do it, then I can more easily depend on Him. We find ourselves weak while trying to be strong. If we would lay our weakness before God the He becomes our strength and the Object of our faith.

You cannot understand faith unless you are weak.

Faith is depending on Him. You will not depend on anything else if your own strength is sufficient. The danger of our own strength is the inability to see our weakness for what it is. If I know I am weak then I know I need help. When I am weak, trusting God makes more since to me. That is when I know I must trust God. It is necessary to be weak to show my faith, because if I am weak, then I am compelled to lean on Him.

You cannot be saved unless you are weak.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly

Romans 5:6

If you think you can be good enough, or religious enough, or generous enough to earn Heaven and the forgiveness of sins, you are sadly mistaken. Christ died on the cross to redeem us from sin's penalty. There is no other way to attain this thing we call salvation. We are too weak! If you have never trusted Christ as your personal Savior you must come to Him; not as a good person, or a church member or by some religion. We must turn to Him and Him alone for salvation. Have you trusted Christ as your Savior? Come to Him right now. Repent and confess your sin to Him. Pray trusting only Christ for forgiveness. Only in Christ will you find the strength to be free from sin's penalty. If you have any questions about this, e-mail me at

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