Wasting Brings Wanting

Connecting Points

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Today’s Topic: Waste Not, Want Not

Today’s Text:  Luke 16:10  “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

A grandma’s wisdom is usually spot on. As a little boy I remember standing in my grandma’s kitchen in Cleveland, Ohio while she made bread. She made the most amazing bread without a written recipe. I wish she had written it down so I could taste it again, but I can still vividly remember its incredible flavor.

On the kitchen table was a huge lump of dough – probably enough for at least a dozen loaves of bread. I followed my grandma’s instructions and retrieved a large container of flour from the cupboard and brought it to her. She removed the lid, and carefully inserted her hand into the flour and grabbed just enough to spread a thin layer over the table and the lump of dough. She replaced the lid and made sure the container was out reach as she prepared to knead the dough.

Back and forth over the table she moved that dough, lifting it, folding it, punching it and squeezing it. Every once in a while she would pause, remove the lid from the flour container, and sprinkle a thin layer of flour over the table. In one such pause she asked if my hands were clean and if I would like to sprinkle the flour. What little boy wouldn’t? So I washed my hands, dried them thoroughly, and plunged my hand deep into the flour bin. Flour exploded into the air, covering not only my arms but grandma’s as well.

She stopped me with a gentle word of rebuke, and said this to me. “John, be careful. We can’t waste the flour like that. Waste not, want not.”

I asked her what that meant, and she explained in words a seven-year old could understand. “When we waste things, we will want more things. But if we use them carefully they will last longer and we won’t need more.”

I thought of that bit of wisdom from grandma when I filled me car with gas this morning. In Eau Claire we have two major competitors for automobile fuel. They are usually the same price, except when a price change is occurring. It seems that consistently one of them – and it happens to be the one I usually choose as my fuel stop – raises their prices before the other one. Such was the case this morning. A five-cent increase in gas prices was displayed on their well-lit sign. So I pulled into the other station. Nineteen gallons of gas later and I had saved a whopping $.95.

Don’t laugh – waste not, want not. It made me wonder how many other areas of my life are wanting because I am wasting? So as I remembered my grandma’s wisdom, I decided to review the five basic principles my wife and I try to live by in our management of the resources God has entrusted to us.

  • I will save more and spend less.
  • I will make good use of what I already have.
  • I will look for the best value.
  • I will budget my money, time, and energy.
  • I will not confuse what I need with what I want.

I can guarantee you that when Jesus said “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much,” He meant it. How do I know? Because I am living it!

Thanks grandma for showing me how to knead dough so I don’t need dough.

Waste not, want not.

Pastor John

Worry Weakens

Connecting Points

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Today’s Topic: Worry Weakens

Today’s Text:  Matthew 6:25 (ESV)   “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

In response to the news, people rushed to the stores to buy what they could. Within hours the shelves were empty. Warmth was the goal, and for those who trusted their natural gas furnaces and fireplaces, warmth was threatened. Electric space heaters became a priority.

As my wife and I sat layered in sweatshirts and blankies in our living room with our electric space heater near us, I began to wonder what would happen if the gas supply was completely shut down. I would have no way to heat my house except an old fieldstone fireplace that seems to suck more heat out of the room than it emits. I wondered if I should spend some money and begin to prepare for the possibilities of tragedy. I began to feel like a doomsday prepper.

Now I’m not opposed to planning wisely and having contingency plans in place. What I am opposed to is the worry that typically accompanies such plans. So is God. I want to be prepared, but I don’t want my preparations to diminish or replace my trust in Jesus Christ’s promises. I do not want to live life weakly by looking at life weekly. I want to live life fully by trusting God faithfully.

Jesus knew that worry weakens us. He spent a substantial portion of the Sermon on the Mount addressing it. Here are some sound bites from what He said in Matthew 6:

  • 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
  • 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
  • 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
  • 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Worry weakens us because it replaces trust in God’s plans and promises with trust in our own plans and provisions. The Prophet Jeremiah heard the Lord address that issue as well. 5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8 (ESV)

When Jesus visited His friends Mary and Martha, Mary came and sat at His feet, while Martha stressed over how the house looked and what to serve her Guest to eat. She even came to Jesus to complain. Jesus simply said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

The good portion of life is the time spent in fellowship with the Savior, putting all the worries and cares of life aside. When we switch those priorities, we are weakened. Everything that typically causes us concern is to be brought to Jesus. The Apostle Paul said, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)  Seems pretty clear to me – anything and everything is to be turned over to God. That means anything and everything that makes us anxious makes us weak unless we turn in trust to God.

John Newton wrote a short verse that declares the truth by which we should all live when it comes to daily worries.

What Thou shalt to-day provide,
Let me as a child receive;
What to-morrow may betide,
Calmly to Thy wisdom leave.
’Tis enough that Thou wilt care;
Why should I the burden bear?

Worry weakens.

Anxiety annihilates ability.

Trust tranquilizes turbulence.

Let Jesus calm the storms of your life and give you peace.

How Should We Respond?

Connecting Points

Monday, January 27, 2014

Today’s Topic: React with Reverence

Today’s Text:  Revelation 3:19-20 (ESV)  19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

I purposely did not watch the Grammy’s last night. After reading what made headlines this morning I’m glad I didn’t. Now I am trying to respond to what happened with a heart that totally trusts the Divine purpose of God in all things.

I will not respond to those who are opposed to Christian thought and theology except with a heart of compassion as for a blind man stumbling towards a precipice of certain death. He does not need a reminder of his blindness, or shouts of impending doom. He needs someone to come along side of him and gently redirect his steps.

Last night was a reminder to me that there is a spiritual darkness that blankets our culture in sins of self-fulfillment. My response is not directed at the culture, but rather at the one who may be caught up in the swarm who wishes to escape. My activity will be to enter the culture and rub shoulders with the culture as Jesus did, so that when any one wishes to reach out and touch even the hem of His garment, they will be able to do it by touching me.

In order to do that, I need to be in a place of intimacy with Jesus that provides grace, strength, and wisdom. I want to be alert to the presence of Jesus and His purpose in all things. I will not respond with the heart of Jesus if I have not first captured His heart through intimate friendship and fellowship with Him.

Ours is not the first culture to be caught up in the horrors of self-honoring sin. One such culture was in the days of Abraham around 3500 years ago. If you watched last night you will understand the significance of that number. In a verifiable historical event, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were about to be destroyed by a righteous, loving, and just God. As a culture they had chosen to pursue the sins of self-gratification to such an extent that they stood publicly opposed to God and His truth. God’s judgment was pending.

On His way to announce the verdict and impose the sentence, Jesus and two angels stopped off at the tent of Abraham. He knocked, and Abraham invited Him in for a meal and for intimate fellowship. Here’s how author F.B. Meyer describes the event:

Christ knocks at the door when His Judgments are in the earth. That God has arisen to shake mightily the earth is hardly doubtful. This is a day of the Lord of Hosts, when judgments are abroad upon all that is proud and haughty, upon the cedars and the oaks, upon the high mountains and the uplifted hills. But it is at such a time that He draws near to reassure us.

On the eve of the overthrow of the Cities of the Plain, He came to the door of Abraham’s tent, partook of his fare, and gave promises of assurance to himself and Sarah which unfolded the Divine Purpose. Standing before the Lord, Abraham was prepared for the tragedy of the morrow, and was permitted an intimacy in which he seemed possessed by a passion for God’s rectitude and righteous dealing.

Do not fear the things that are coming, but open to Him who knocks for admission. He has come to spend the dark hours in your fellowship, as a mother runs to her child’s cot, when a sudden thunderstorm sweeps the sky.

May my response be not one of fear but of faith that comes from fellowship with the Father. May I not respond with judgment that is not mine to impose. May I respond with compassion to seek out the few who desire deliverance from the swarm as Abraham did for Lot and his family. May I respond with courage to ask the Lord of Judgment to show grace in the midst of it as Abraham did. May I be the one who extends His arm of rescue to those who desire deliverance. May my focus always be on the one that is prepared to listen rather than the throng that is moving as a mob.

May I react with reverence and respond with reason. May my response always be one that expresses the hope that lies within me – the hope of glory, and the certainty of God’s perfect purpose.

Stain Removal

Connecting Points

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Today’s Topic: The Past is Gone

Today’s Text:  Malachi 3: 2 (ESV) For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Right before supper last night I decided to get comfortable. Because of the extreme cold and wind chill factor all of our activities at church were cancelled, so it was an opportunity to spend a relaxing evening with my wife. I put on some comfortable jogging pants and grabbed my favorite sweatshirt. There is something comforting about loose-fitting clothes. I used to own a lot of them but they seem to have all shrunk.

The off-white sweatshirt I picked out was perfectly clean. It had not been that way the day before. Those of you who know me well know that I am usually not allowed to wear white or light-colored clothing. It has nothing to do with how it looks on me – everything looks good on me. It has to do with my sloppiness. Whether it’s eating or just every day activities, I get things dirty. Not just ordinary dirt, but hard-to-remove stains. Well, I had spilled some food on it the last two times I had worn it, and my wife had to wash it several times to get the stains out. In my defense, it’s hard to eat without spilling when laying horizontally in a recliner.

So I picked up the perfectly clean ready to be worn sweatshirt and went to the kitchen to prepare supper. You’ve already figured out the rest, right?

As I ate my hamburger plugged with bacon and red peppers, and dipped my crab sticks into melted butter, I suddenly noticed three dark spots on the front of my clean off-white sweatshirt. My wife noticed them as well and reminded me of how hard she had worked to get it clean. I agreed that I would clean it this time.

After I was done eating, and cleaning up the kitchen, I remembered that in the past I have used Dawn dishwashing soap to remove other stains in my clothes. So I put a few drops on each stain and let it sit while I washed the dishes. A quick spray with the kitchen faucet rinsed the butter and bacon grease right out, and the sweatshirt was perfect again. There was no evidence of a previous stain. I now know the reason why the dishwashing soap is named Dawn. Darkness is gone when dawn arrives.

The prophet Malachi declares that the Lord is coming and when He does He will be like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. Focus on the soap for a moment. The word fuller’s may be confusing. The basic Hebrew word means washing. The people of these ancient cultures washed their clothes by hand, and then laid them out to dry in the fields. That’s where the phrase fuller’s field came from. So the soap that was used for the washing was called fuller’s soap. When someone takes soap and washes something, the expectation is that it will become clean.

That same expectation applies to our spiritual lives. When Jesus Christ comes to wash us with the soap made from His blood, we must expect to be made clean. There is not enough man-made soap in the world to clean the stain of sin from our lives. We have tried. The Lord declared it through the prophet Jeremiah when He said, Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD. (Jeremiah 2:22)

But the Fuller’s Soap – which in this analogy is respectfully named Dawn – washes the stain of sin away, never to be seen again. The blood of Jesus Christ, the eternal soap for the soul, removes the evidence that the stain was ever there. When Dawn arrives, darkness leaves.

We have a choice: live with the stain, or let Jesus remove the stain. But if we choose to let Jesus wash us and remove the stain of our sin, we still have another choice. We can choose to remember that the stain was there and live in fear that we will get stained again, or we can choose to trust the Fuller’s Soap to keep us clean.

As for me, I choose to live by faith in the constant cleansing of the Fuller’s Soap. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) I do not mean to say that I will carelessly live making a mockery of God’s grace, but that because of my love for Him I will walk in His light, knowing that when I do stain my life with the spill of sin, He never runs out of soap.

In other words, I will keep wearing the sweatshirt, not with the intention of spilling, but knowing that if I do, the stain can be removed. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Let it Go

Connecting Points

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

 Today’s Topic: Forget the Past

Today’s Text:  1 Samuel 11:13   But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.”

Noble Doss dropped the ball. One ball. One pass. One mistake. In 1941, he let one fall. And it’s haunted him ever since. “I cost us a national championship,” he says.

The University of Texas football team was ranked number one in the nation. Hoping for an undefeated season and a berth in the Rose Bowl, they played conference rival Baylor University. With a 7-0 lead in the third quarter, the Longhorn quarterback launched a deep pass to a wide-open Doss.

“The only thing I had between me and the goal,” he recalls, “was twenty yards of grass.”

The throw was on target. Longhorn fans rose to their feet. The sure-handed Doss spotted the ball and reached out, but it slipped through.

Baylor rallied and tied the score with seconds to play. Texas lost their top ranking and, consequently, their chance at the Rose Bowl.

“I think about that play every day,” Doss admits.

Not that he lacks other memories. Happily married for more than six decades. A father. Grandfather. He served in the navy during World War II. He appeared on the cover of Life magazine with his Texas teammates. He intercepted seventeen passes during his collegiate career, a university record. He won two NFL titles with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Texas High School Hall of Fame and the Longhorn Hall of Honor include his name.

Most fans remember the plays Doss made and the passes he caught. Doss remembers the one he missed. Once, upon meeting a new Longhorn head coach, Doss told him about the bobbled ball. It had been fifty years since the game, but he wept as he spoke.

We all live with regrets. The memories of past failures and hurts haunt us. We spend a great amount of time and energy trying to right the wrongs in an attempt to heal the wounds. We sometimes seek revenge against the ones who hurt us.

Such was the case in Israel at the beginning of the reign of King Saul. Some men, described in the tenth chapter of First Samuel as worthless men, tried to discredit Saul and keep him from being honored as King. They spread the word that Saul was incapable of leading the nation and bringing victory against their enemies.

On another front, the Ammonites were invading part of Israel’s land and making frightening threats about gouging out eyes. When Saul got word about it, he rallied the people of Israel, and under the power of the Holy Spirit of God he came with an army of men and wiped out the Ammonites.

During the victory celebration people started to demand justice against the worthless men who had dishonored King Saul. They fully expected that their king would respond according to the flesh and want to make a public spectacle of these guys who had been so wrong. Who wouldn’t want to set the record straight?

But King Saul, with the wisdom of God, said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.” The past didn’t matter. What mattered is what God was doing in the present and what He had planned for the future.

The Apostle Paul understood this truth when he wrote in Philippians 3, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way…”

We all have multiple memories of past hurts and failures. Do not let them define you or consume you. Bury them under the present Presence of Jesus Christ in your life. Do not spend time focused on death when you are the possessor of eternal life. Release the hurt and let it go for good. Embrace what Jesus is doing today.

Pastor John

Hey Beautiful!

Connecting Points

Monday, January 20, 2014

Today’s Topic: The Great Beautifier

Today’s Text:  Psalm 149:4  For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

 We are surrounded by constant messages to be beautiful and good-looking. As soon as the Christmas shopping ads were over, the health-related commercials started. Every day we are bombarded with the lure of gym memberships, exercise programs, diets, and even pills, all promising that if we just looked better we would feel better about who we are and have a happier life.

Did you know that in 2009,  45.5 million people in America had a gym membership and spent 20 billion dollars on them. But here’s the real shocker – according to StatisticBrain.com only 33% of the people who had memberships actually went to the gym.

You see, we all want to look better, but two things keep us from getting there. Maybe we don’t want to do the work it takes to have that picture perfect body, or maybe after all the work we’ve discovered that it didn’t really change the quality of happiness in our lives. I think down underneath we all know that happiness doesn’t really come from how we look. If it did, we wouldn’t see so many beautiful people in so much trouble and even ending their own lives.

I came across a quote this morning that stuck out to me. It’s from the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote – There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.

But there can be no wish to scatter joy if we do not have any joy. So where does the joy come from so that we can scatter it to others and thereby be made beautiful?

First, we must understand that human existence in sin is the great joy killer because it is downright ugly. I mean hideously ugly. I mean repulsively ugly. Yet we have embraced it because we have been lied to by the enemy of our souls and told that it’s really kind of pretty. We have declared what is ugly to be beautiful in an attempt to make ourselves appear beautiful.

The truth is that we haven’t change our appearance one bit. In fact, it has made us uglier than ever. Every chance we get we step on our neighbors, co-workers, and friends to move ahead of them, believing that this gives us more value. We lie, cheat, and steal to fluff up our own financial pillow thinking that when we lay our head on it we will have peace. We are dreadfully ugly.

It is only when sin is conquered that beauty can be exposed. Beauty can’t be seen in the dark. Only when the light – the True Light of God’s salvation – shines on us will the beauty of life be seen. Only in the joy of the Lord can we find the strength for each day.

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

The reason for such joy is that when we renounce sin and its lies, the Lord takes pleasure in us and adorns us with salvation. (Psalm 149:4) We are made beautiful in Christ. In God’s eyes, every one of us who is covered in the blood of Jesus is eternally beautiful.

Sounds freaky, doesn’t it. People who cover their sin with cultural beauty remain ugly, but those who cover themselves in blood – Christ’s blood – are transformed into the most beautiful of all beings. The joy of our salvation is the Great Beautifier.

And when we spread that joy to others, we become beautiful to people as well, not just to God. This is what I take from what Emerson said: by spreading joy and not pain we become beautiful in complexion, form, and behavior.

Today, let people see the beauty of Jesus in you, and they will call you beautiful too.

Pastor John


He’s Meddling Again

Connecting Points

Friday, January 17, 2014

Today’s Topic: He Wants to Talk about WHAT???

Today’s Text:  Matthew 6:21 (ESV)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


I must confess I am just a little bit scared. As a part of the Wise Up sermon series I am doing right now, it is important to talk about all of the areas that Christ felt were important to live wisely in a foolish world. The subject he spoke most about when it comes to practical living is the use of our money.

WHAT?  I have to go to church on Sunday and hear the pastor preach on money?


And to prepare you for the encouragement you are going to receive to know that Jesus Christ has the priority over your possessions, here is a resource I found from Pastor John Ortberg. If you come to church on Sunday you will receive a printed version of this.


1.  Thou shalt remember who the owner is.  Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

2.  Thou shalt embrace thy work.  Colossians 3:23-24: (The Message)  And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.

3.  Thou shalt not fall into debt.  Proverbs 22:7 “The poor are always ruled by the rich, so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.”

4.  Thou shalt teach thy children about money.   Psalm 34:11  “Come, my child, and listen closely. I will teach you obedience to the Lord.”

5.  Thou shalt have a plan.  1 Corinthians 16:2  “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up”

6.  Thou shalt declare, “I have enough!”  Proverbs 30:15  “The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.”

7.  Thou shalt find an alternative way to keep score.  2 Corinthians 10:12   Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

8.  Thou shalt look around.  Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD.”

9.  Thou shalt seek wise counsel.  Proverbs 11:14 (The Message) “Without good direction, people lose their way. The more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.”

10.  Thou shalt look forward to thy final audit.   Luke 12:48  Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Seeing the Invisible

Connecting Points

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Today’s Topic: Invisible Clarity

Today’s Text:  Revelation 21:23 (ESV)  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

I confess that I have no clearly defined point in mind to what I am going to write. I am simply expressing an idea that came to me this morning as I laid in bed trying desperately to go back to sleep. I have no idea why my mind goes to these things, but I thank God that He has a purpose for it. Maybe by the time I am done processing my thoughts while writing it will make sense.

Here is my thought – Light is invisible – we only see its effects.

For you brilliant scientists out there, I’m sure you have a way of explaining light so that it makes sense to a person of average intelligence like me. But I have some questions.

  • Why is space dark?
  • Why in a dark room, when I shine a pinpoint-focused flashlight against the wall, do I see only the spot on the wall and the area between the light and the wall remains dark?
  • Or why can I see a spotlight shining on a person on stage but the area between the source of the light and the person remains dark?
  • Is it possible that light, in whatever form it travels, as waves or electromagnetic radiation, is invisible in its nature and only visible when absorbed or reflected by another object?

Now before we get into a study of the physics of light, let me direct our attention to a spiritual application that God is clarifying for me. Follow these simple thoughts from a simple preacher:

  • The Bible says God is Light
  • The Bible says no one can look upon God and live.
  • Therefore, pure light is invisible to the human eye.
  • We can only see light at its source and the effects of light on the objects it touches.
  • Jesus, who is God, came into the world as the Source of Light for the world, and unless we look at Him we are in darkness.
    •   John 1:4 (ESV)  In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men.
    •   John 8:12 (ESV)  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
    •   John 9:5 (ESV)  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
    •   John 12:46 (ESV)  I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
  • We can see the reality of Jesus by looking at the people whose lives are being influenced by His light.
  • Jesus chose us, His followers, to be the objects that have absorbed the Light so that we can become light to those around us.
    •   1 Thessalonians 5:5 (ESV)  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.
    •   Ephesians 5:7-14 (ESV)  7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.

The world is in grave darkness. We are the Light the world needs. Jesus said, Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) And the Apostle Paul said that we are to be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:15)

We are the ones God has chosen to bring clarity to what is invisible.

Pastor John

(NOTE: My apologies for the error in Tuesday’s Connecting Points as I misspelled the name of Frances Havergal and mistakenly identified her as a man.)


Are We Available?

Connecting Points

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today’s Topic: Availability

Today’s Text:  2 Samuel 15:15 (ESV)  And the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.”

I’m preparing to go back out into the snow. I arrived at the office at 7:00 AM this morning to begin my personal study time and to write this Connecting Points devotional. At the beginning of my devotions was a poem by A. L. Waring which read:

I love to think that God appoints
My portion day by day;
Events of life are in His hand,
And I would only say,
Appoint them in Thine own good time,
And in Thine own best way..

Before I could read any further I was distracted by my computer alert which dinged to say someone had posted something new to Facebook. Of course I had to go look. It was a member of our church who was asking for help. Her son needed a ride to school today because her husband had accidently taken her car keys to work with him. They live in the area of our church where I am. I immediately responded that I could be there to do that, and in 10 minutes I will leave to serve her.

God’s appointments require man’s availability.

I returned to the devotions and read this from Francis Havergal in his old English style.

If we are really, and always, and equally ready to do whatsoever the King appoints, all the trials and vexations arising from any change in His appointments, great or small, simply do not exist. If He appoints me to work there, shall I lament that I am not to work here? If He appoints me to wait in-doors to-day, am I to be annoyed because I am not to work out-of-doors? If I meant to write His messages this morning, shall I grumble because He sends interrupting visitors, rich or poor, to whom I am to speak them, or “show kindness” for His sake, or at least obey His command, “Be courteous?” If all my members are really at His disposal, why should I be put out if to-day’s appointment is some simple work for my hands or errands for my feet, instead of some seemingly more important doing of head or tongue?

So before I leave to be on time for God’s appointment, let me ask you – Are you, as His servant, ready at any time to do whatever He asks?

God’s appointments require man’s availability.


Connecting Points

Monday, January 13, 2014

Today’s Topic: Confidence

Today’s Text:

2 Chronicles 32:7-8 (ESV)  7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

2 Chronicles 32:22 (ESV)  22 So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.

Monday mornings test my character, especially if Sunday has been filled with more ministry demands than normal. Yesterday was such a day.

There was not one part of the day that I would have missed, as every event was an incredible blessing and affirmation of what God is doing in the ministry of Calvary Baptist Church. But it was a long day and I was tired when I got home at 8:30 last night. When that happens, I feel drained on Monday, and my Monday is equally as busy every week. I can handle being tired, but what I don’t like are the attacks that come when I am tired, and the area where my character gets attacked first is in my confidence level.

Generally I’m a pretty confident guy – except on Monday mornings. That’s when I begin to doubt my abilities and question my value. I dare to believe that you do the same thing when you are tired or stressed. I’m right, aren’t I?

Well, this morning I was reminded about confidence when I opened my devotionals and the first one I read said this – “Jesus gives me confidence to be a minister of a new covenant.” It was followed by these verses in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.

So I began to do a word search for the places in Scripture that talk about confidence. I found a story that went straight to my heart in Second Chronicles. Briefly, the people of Judah were in a predicament. King Sennacherib of Assyria had come to overthrow King Hezekiah of Judah and laid siege to their territory. This massive barbaric army was striking fear into the residents of Judah.

King Hezekiah puts their fears into perspective. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

I love that line – with him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God. I am challenged by the people’s response – the people took confidence from the words. I tend to let words of people destroy my confidence, when Words of God have already been spoken that solidify my confidence. I am responsible for the words I choose to listen to. I alone choose what value I assign to what people say. I am solely accountable for my confidence level based on what words I have chosen to believe.

I have decided that the following words will be the foundation of my confidence level.

Psalm 27:3 (ESV) Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

Proverbs 3:26 (ESV) for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV)  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

1 John 5:14 (ESV)  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Check your confidence level against God’s words, not man’s. It will make a difference in your Monday…and every day.