The White Blazes

We made it!!

If you have ever wondered what it is like to hike the Appalachian Trail, it is apply defined by the words extreme adventure!

As you trod over the well-worn path, one step after another leads to decisions, caution, carefulness, speed, slowness, rest, joy, possibilities, views, varying weight, anticipation, etc.

As I recently hiked a section in Virginia with a friend, the AT reminded me of participating with Christ in living His life, the Christian life! Indeed, when Jesus invites us to follow him (Matthew 16:24), a good synonym would be extreme adventure!

As you hike the AT, there are many items needed such as hiking shoes, back pack, trekking poles, tent, food, much planning, and major will power to make this trek successful. But above all, there is something you must have to make it from Springer Mt. in Georgia to Mt. Katadhin in Maine. What is it? The infamous white blazes. There are approximately 165,000 of these rectangular 2 x 6 inch white markings that are found on trees, posts, and rocks. The distance between each blaze varies but they are the “law” on the trail; they are the surety markers if you are to stay on trail.

In this extreme adventure of following Christ, we have an eternal white blaze that guides us every step in this journey of life, the Word of God (Psalms 23:1-3; 32:8-9; 119:105; John 14:6; Colossians 2:6). Just as I cannot stay on trail without the white blazes, neither can I participate in Christ’s life without His Word (Galatians 2:20).

This life will offer many different side paths to take (e.g. blue blazes) that may or may not be beneficial. There will be rocks, creeks, roots, decisions, caution, carefulness, speed, slowness, rest, joy, possibilities, views, varying weight, anticipation, etc. along the trail of life, but you must daily follow the white blaze of God’s Word. These white markers are surety on the AT; the Word of God is the same in this trek of life.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:16-21)

Establish my footsteps in Your word… (Psalm 119:133).

Brief Retreats

Last week I celebrated my 62nd birthday tucked away with my wife in a cottage on Watauga Lake in East Tennessee. Besides acknowledging another year of life and my wife making the day special, we went away for other reasons, too.

First of all, just as Jesus went withdrew Himself from the crowds (Matthew 14:23) and went to the mountain to pray (Luke 6:12-13), we as disciples of Jesus Christ need to do the same (Matthew 11:28-30). Two days removed from cell phones, internet, normal life, distractions, and responsibilities is an investment in your walk with Christ that is more than worth the effort. You have time to pray, listen, write, read, and be still. All you need is your Bible, journal, a ready heart, and a quiet place.

Second, marriages need maintenance like many other things in life. No matter if your marriage is humming or in need of a tune-up or a major overhaul, you and your spouse need brief times away to talk, plan, be attentive to each other, pray, read, play games, take a walk, laugh, sit on the porch swing, take a hike and share what God has been teaching you. All you need is place to get away and leave everything else behind.

May I encourage you to plan a brief retreat in the next six months? You need it in your walk with God and your marriage needs it. Sometimes, it’s good to retreat before you can advance.

And What Will We Do?

On this important day in American history, we (born again believers, John 3:16) will and must do what we are to do everyday, and especially today!

PRAISE THE LORD!

I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
(Psalm 145:1-3)

READ GOD’S WORD!

And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

PRAY!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

MAKE DISCIPLES!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

LIVE THE CHRIST LIFE!

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

You see, friends, the ultimate daily, lifetime step for every believer is wrapped up in one word no matter the circumstances of this world or who’s in authority . . . obedience. The joy of fellowship and the appropriation of blessings in Christ are revealed as we walk in obedience to our righteous, holy, perfect, loving transcendent Heavenly Father by His grace!

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6).

Finish Well

A few weeks ago, I was driving down Route 75 near my home in Johnson City, TN, and I heard the following lyrics on the radio sung by Karen Peck and New River.


FINISH WELL
There will come a day
I know without a doubt
Around the throne the saints will bow
And lay down every crown
How glorious that moment
To see Him face to face
To hear Him say “well done my child”
You’ve finished your race
But for now the sun’s still rising
There’s work to still be done
While we’re waiting for the promise
Of what is yet to come.

Finish well
Every day that we are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish strong
Until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have
Finish well.

There’s no truth in saying
We’ve seen our better days
These are the days to be courageous
Bold and full of faith
So wherever He may lead us
Whatever it may cost
Let the Church arise and lift
The banner of the cross.

Finish well
Every day that we are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish strong
Until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have
Finish well every day that
We are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish well

It wasn’t long until I had tears streaming down my face as the Holy Spirit took those lyrics and reminded me that as a man, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a pastor, a mentor, and a friend, I needed to be reminded, encouraged and exhorted to Finish Well. Since then, every time I hear this song, I am taken back to that location along Route 75 that God spoke to my heart.

Men, those of us who are considered senior citizens, we are in the last years of our lives on earth. We arrived here so quick it seems. There are many blessings to being a senior citizen, but there are things that can cause us heartache, disappointment, grief, frustration, disqualification as well as loss of testimony (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12) and reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3).

In this post, I want to encourage us in the first of three areas to Finish Well.

  1. Christ Your Life

At this age, we can be prone to think that our best days are behind us. That old age is our cross to bear. We can’t work like we used to. Our vision, hearing, and minds are failing us. We just can’t keep up with the youngsters. Bottom line, we are not the men we used to be. For many, we feel like we have basically lost our identity.

Well, I have good news for us. If you are truly a born again man, you have not lost your identity. Your identity is not in you and your old age condition, your identity is in Christ and it is as fresh as the day you were born again (John 3:1-16).

Men, the Christian life is . . . Christ (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:5-7; 5:17; Col. 1:27-29)
In order for you to live the Christian life, you must understand that it is the Savior’s life.
 Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you.
 To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you.
 You die to live. It’s Christ who manifests Himself through you that makes the difference. He does not do away with your individuality nor your personality, but when people meet you they need to meet Him. (The well-said bullet points are from Evangelist Ron Lynch.)

Truth is, Christ lives His life through us so much so that you do not live the Christian life. Christ did not live the Christian life. He IS the Christian life. Therefore, come to know Him, fellowship with Him, store up His thoughts in your mind, and share Him with others (Philippians 3:10; 2 Peter 3:18). As you come to learn of Christ and walk with Him, you will think His thoughts and your responses will not be you but the Christ in you.

No matter your age, the issue is Christ . . . your life (Galatians 2:20)!! So, enjoy the journey, men, and FINISH WELL!!


Because Love Has No Limits!

“What would you do for someone you love?”

That was the headline at the top of our local newspaper insert, Parade. Oh, and yes, in this instant internet age I still read the newspaper. Nevertheless, that question piqued my interest here on the brink of a new year.

Immediately my thoughts were turned to, “What would I do for the One Who Loves me eternally? What would I become and do the for Christ Who gave Himself for my redemption and justification? What would I do for Christ Who demonstrates His for me love today, tomorrow and for all eternity?”
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

In these past few days, we have heard much through preaching, podcasts, and social media to encourage us to begin a new year with a “clean sheet / a fresh start.” Therefore, may I simply ask each of us to consider what we will be and do in 2019 for the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who motivates us by His eternal, unconditional love?

The answer should be the same one word answer as found under the question in the Parade insert that prompted this post. That word . . . EVERYTHING.

 

Like

 

like1-2

4,851 likes!  Facebook sent a year-in-review video and shared with me how many times I “liked” something in 2016!  Thank you, Facebook.  I like that!

As I thought about Facebook’s revelation of my “liked” responses, the following came to mind: How many times has my Heavenly Father “liked” or been pleased by my actions this past year?

Walk as children of light . . . and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5:8,10)

We make it our aim to please Him. (2 Corinthians 5:9)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)

What are your guidelines, your motivations for “liking” something on Facebook?

a) You really do like it.

b) You just want your friend to know you saw it.

c) You feel some emotional attachment to the post.

d) You do it out of obligation because your FB friend just might defriend you.

e) It’s part of living in the Facebook world.

f) All of the above!

What are your guidelines, your motivations for pleasing your Heavenly Father?

Because of my position in Christ, I am always accepted by God the Father (Ephesians 1:6).  In the practical out-working on a daily basis of who I am in Christ, here are some guidelines from the Word that should help me:

  1. Read, study, memorize, meditate on, and share the Word of God (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 119).
  2. Respond to life each day through a biblical worldview (Romans 8:6-8; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
  3. Live in the atmosphere of prayer; of communion with God (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  4. Obey the Word (Psalm 119:1-8)
  5. Give the right opinion of Who God is by your talk and your walk (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  6. Keep short accounts of sin (1 John 1:9).
  7. Walk in the victory that we already have in Christ (Romans 8:28-39).
  8. Live by faith (Hebrews 11:6).

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7).

LIKE!