Looking at Jesus


sermons and soda water

morning-and-evening-cover

“Looking to Jesus”

Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Here is a thought from Charles Spurgeon, adding to the previous post about the consequences of our contemporary obsession with ourselves and the notion that our truest ‘happiness’ is discovered by getting (and going) our own way.

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from…

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Week Two of the CPE Journey: The Inward Look


All too often in this life the business of life often causes the lack of introspection. This is particularly true of those that are care givers and ministers. Much of the time of these dedicated people is spent on serving yet service falls far from those who care. Even more those that provide services specific to pastoral services need clear understandings of themselves so that when providing care to others their own worldviews play little role in providing that care. Let me explain.

Saul (Paul) was under the persuasion that the Christians of his day were anti-God. This was because if his worldview of Judaism. As such Saul sought to silence and punish those that he perceived to be the antithesis to what he thought to be correct. Then Saul’s worldview was challenged. While on the road to Damascus Saul was knocked off his horse (both literally and figuratively) having caused Saul to consider his ways. Yes, Saul was very educated and sat at the feet of the best teachers yet his worldview was the thing that hindered him in the ministry.

The point is that as ministers and even as lay members of the church often the things that have been placed in us over the years impact the way we minster. The things in us have not only impacted our worldviews but also the way we handle ourselves in situations as they arise. This can be a good or not so good thing depending upon the individual and the way matters are handled. It is for this reason regular introspection is imperative. It is very necessary that continual inward looks be made not only for the sake of ministry but also to insure that the Christian remains on the path of holiness.

In his second letter to the church in Corinth the converted Saul urged his audience to “examine” or test themselves in order to see if they remained in the faith (II Corinthians 13:5). This examination was to be juxtaposed with the things that were taught be Jesus and re-taught by the disciples and apostles. This examination meant that there had to be a continual and constant self-reflection which allowed the Christians to be mindful of worldviews that might be in conflict with the teachings of Christ. As such the chaplaincy is not about the views and perspectives of the chaplain rather it is about pouring the love of God into the recipient of healing. It is about laying aside the desire to impose one’s views and give way to the spiritual needs of the hurt.

Often when introspection occurs there are found things that the one looking in does not like or may even take issue with. These things could be attributed to the individual’s worldview or the things found might be the results of negative occurrences have happened in his life. In either case there comes a point in which those things within must be challenged so that ministry to others might be beneficial first to the growth with the one looking inward and then to the one to be ministered to. The fact is that healing must begin with the “physician” who can then be in a place to present healing to those under his care. With this it becomes evident that inward reflection becomes paramount in the lives of those providing care.

The Pauline charge becomes abundantly clear in the Amplified Bible with the translation, “Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing proper fruits of it.” The term “evaluate” seeks only to highlight the idea of an inward look. The look inward serves to consider not only the actions of the self examination but also motives and attitudes. With this said the importance of faith pushes the examination process beyond the expectations of man rather the requirements of our Father. If the exam proves that there are items lacking then the examiner will do well to seek out prescriptions designed to heal himself so that he will be better able to work in the healing process of others.

True inward looking requires absolute honesty. Without honesty introspection is worthless. As such I would urge all to take that look inward in order to determine if worldviews are in conflict with the one faith. If there are conflicts resolutions are necessary for growth and healing of all concerned.

The Bible’s Songbook


Thinking about the Psalms…

sevennotesofgrace

I’vpsalmiste been thinking lately about the way many churches (including mine) have let the practice of Psalm-singing slip away. I also wonder why. Why do we neglect singing from the Bible’s songbook together? Surely there is much to be gained by singing directly from God’s word, especially when it is written in the form of song. So I’ve decided to embark on an epic journey to find some great arrangements of Psalms with a more with contemporary style. (I would LOVE to hear your suggestions! Please comment if you know some.) In the meantime, consider some of these thoughts on the Psalms from MERE INKLING’srobstroud:

 . .  . the Psalms are the foundation and epitome of worship music for Jews and Christians alike. One could read a Psalm each day and since there are one hundred and fifty, when you returned to the first psalm five months after…

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Week One of the CPE Journey: Presence


The week started off with a quiet bang. I was quickly reminded of the text in I Kings chapter eight wherein the glory of the Lord was revealed in a cloud. The cloud was such that the people were not able to stand by reason of the cloud. In fact the presence of the Lord was in the place where the people came to worship. The worship brought in the closeness of the Lord thereby creating a presence that would not allow the people to remain upright.

This was the idea presented in the first worship service for the chaplain residents and interns at Huguley Hospital. The basic premise is that in order to bring about healing and other ministerial acts there needs to be a closeness by which the recipient is able to feel the love of Christ through His servants. It is impossible to have such a presence unless one is in the room. It is in presence that healing takes place. It is in presence that comfort is made. This is the presence that brings the sin sick soul to a place repentance, healing and deliverance.

I am reminded of one lady I was allowed to minister to. She is oppressed with depression. As she began to speak it became more than evident that there were deep seated hurts that had been there for some time. When I took occasion to pray for her the welling of her tears were such that it was impossible for the tears not to come pouring down her face. This was because all this lady needed to know was that she was loved not only by humanity but also that the ever-present God of the universe counted her to be much.

There was another lady today on staff of the hospital who saw herself as less than worthy. As some of my co-laborers and I were “blessing hands’ today there stood off to the side this lovely young lady who saw herself as just a linen worker. I took time to let her know that she was just as important as everybody else and that she, too, was welcomed to have her hands “blessed.” So she came and I cannot express the gratitude this young lady showed.

The point that I am seeking to express is that most seem to think that it takes wondrous works to help the downtrodden. Sometimes all it takes is a mere presence. Sometimes people just need to know that they are loved and appreciated. It does not take much simply to be present for those that need just one person to let them know that they are loved. So, as I journey through this journey of CPE training I will endeavour to be present with those in need so that the glory of our Lord can rest on His people. As I am present professionally perhaps you can be present in the life of that one that just needs an encouraging word, a hug or a simple pat on the back. Yes, it is time we all became a bit more present.

Don’t You Dare Quit


There are times when you just have to walk in faith. This is to say that in life an absolute dependence on God and His Word become paramount in good times as well as bad times. I can attest to faith on God on both levels. There is no doubt that God has been nothing less than incredible in my life and to speak of things most recent would take a book just to begin to understand the many twists and turns that have led me to this point. Let me explain.

Many may be familiar with the fact that I am in Texas as a result of the Fort Worth veteran’s health clinic offering me a chaplaincy internship. Now, the Fort Worth clinic is part of the larger Dallas VA medical system. Still, with that offer I quickly accepted the position while I was still in Baltimore and began in earnest to make my way to Texas. Of course this was not an easy task because I had been unemployed for some time and was unable to pay for any means of transportation. Well, this was nothing for God. As a matter of course I was put in touch with the founder of an organization called The Open Table (http://theopentable.org/). Without hesitation the founder sponsored my trip to Texas and provided other financial aid. So, someone please tell me that God does not take care of His own!

Still, that is far from the end of the story. I also needed a place to stay and while researching what could be done I learned of Veteran’s Community Outreach (http://www.vetsco.org/). I received the same type of response from its founder as I did with The Open Table. Without hesitation the founder simply said, “I’ll help you.” And with that he did help. I was picked up at the train station in Fort Worth, transported to a hotel that Sunday evening, picked up Monday morning and transported to a wonderful four-bedroom house in Arlington, TX. It is true that God does put people in our way to be a blessing to us. The fact is that God uses people to bless people so I would encourage all that have a hard time receiving to open wide your hands so that God can do what He does best.

To my dismay the Veteran’s Administration was not nearly as accommodating. After getting to Texas and doing all that was required I soon learned that things within the Veteran’s Administration are far from honorable. No doubt that many have heard of the atrocities at the hands of the Veteran’s Administration in which a number of veterans died waiting to be served. While my situation is not as dire as that suffice it to say that I served in the United States Marine Corps. I was honorably discharged in 1985. From that time I have had no problems because of my not registering with the Selective Services. In fact the Selective Services letters I have clearly show that because of my service I should be denied nothing from the Federal Government.

Well, this did not matter to the Dallas Veteran’s Administration. I had already started my internship and was fully seated. My background was clear; I was able to get through a very intense interview process among other things. And while human resources did not fire me they did say that my package had to be sent to Washington, D.C. for clearance. The process could take as much as ninety days. So, after much hard work my program was suspended impacting not just me but also my co-workers. With that it seems that well qualified veterans such as I deserve extra scrutiny in order to work with veterans. For real? Is this the way veterans should be treated?

It needs to be made painfully clear that my experience with Human Resources of the VA has nothing to do with my immediate supervisor. In fact my supervisor in the Fort Worth clinic, insofar as I am concerned, is a superior and wonderful person. In fact all the chaplains I have met in the Texas VA have proven to be high quality people many of whom are themselves veterans. My issue is the administration and the administration alone. The fact of the matters is that  my supervisor was kind enough to refer me to a chaplain at Huguley Hospital (http://www.texashealthhuguley.org/) in Fort Worth. After meeting with him his words were “I can see why they hired you” and immediately offered me a position. Yes, there was some red tape but nothing like that of the Veteran’s Administration. My work at Huguley is to start Monday the sixteenth.

Now, this will be a very intense program. Within two and a half months I will put in at least four hundred hours and about ten on-call days. This means that I will be spending much less time online as I walk further into my destiny. And while I will not be online a lot my plan is to chronicle my experience with the Huguley Hospital internship weekly. Please be sure to follow what is going on in my walk as I continue to press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

With that said it is my hope that all be encouraged. It took several years for me to get to this point with considerable opposition. Some have said that I was not qualified while others mocked my faithfulness. Some saw no reason for me to perform academically while others have chosen to smother themselves in the stench of jealously. This will also happen to you if you choose to go after what God has for you. But, be not dismayed. Do not give up. Keep on moving toward your destiny and your end will be most victorious. No, don’t you dare quit!

Praising God makes our joy complete


How is your praise-life going?

sevennotesofgrace

made-to-praise_tWe all know that self-praise is no praise at all – and seeking the praise of others is even worse. Nothing sounds so bad as someone describing or complaining about all their great efforts and actions simply so we can praise them for it!

So why then does God so eagerly and perhaps egotistically command us to praise Him? The pages of Scripture (which are in fact ‘God-breathed’ – 2Tim3:16) constantly direct and urge us to praise God. So basically he is asking for it. He created us for His pleasure and he does delight in our praise. Yet he doesn’t need our praise, surely? He is not insecure like us!  On the other hand, yes he does deserve praise, so why shouldn’t we praise Him?

Perhaps the short answer to this dilemma is that praising God is good for us! God knows this, so directs us to praise Him…

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You Are God’s Building


You are God’s building.  As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift that God gave me to lay the foundation for that building. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it.  After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ.  People may build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw.  The day will make what each one does clearly visible because fire will reveal it. That fire will determine what kind of work each person has done.  If what a person has built survives, he will receive a reward.  If his work is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire. – 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 http://bit.ly/13lThSR

The peace of God…the God of peace…


Singing in Babylon

King David Art

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8 ESV

Doctor G. Campbell Morgan commented on the word alone in Psalm 4:8, saying,

“We are in danger of missing something (helpful) by treating the word ‘alone’ as though it meant only, and relating it to Jehovah, as though it meant that only Jehovah could do this. While that is true, it is not what the singer meant. The thought of the word alone is ‘in loneliness’, or…’in seclusion’; and the word refers to the one who is going to sleep. This is a glorious conception of sleep. Jehovah gathers the trusting soul into a place of safety by taking it away from all the things which trouble or harass. The difficulties and dangers, the mocking foes and opposing forces, are all excluded

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