Monday, January 12, 2015

Devotion 1.13.15

Who are the least among us?  Are they the frail, the weak, perhaps even someone who has a condition that causes a disability?  Are they those in a circumstance they didn't cause?  The children of people with an addiction that takes their time, money, and attention away from the child?  Do they lack skill or ability to care for themselves?  Are they people, as we see it, who got themselves there? Someone we might walk past without concern or even notice?

Isaiah, speaking of the coming Messiah, said, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." (42:3)  He will care for the most fragile among us.  He will not abandon them.  In Matthew, he speaks of our accountability to take care of those among us in need, when we question  His judgment, "When did we see you hungry or thirsty or....?" (25:44)  In other words, "Jesus, if I had known it was you, well, that have been different."  Christ replies, "...whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me." (45)

We have our opportunities.  They are there before us.  Pray that we care of those among us when the opportunity arises.  Pray that we take care of "the least of these."  Pray that we are slow to judge and quick to show compassion through prayer and action.  Pray that we encourage each other daily.

Peace in Him Who Gives Us Hope -

Hope Men's Ministry

Devotion 1.12.15

Is the era of instant replay working or not?  The past two Sundays have given us questionable calls that were either reversed on the field or reversed after review.  There have been non-calls as well.  Jason Garrett, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, was gracious after the game by saying that one call was not the sum total of the game, that they had 60 minutes and did not get the job done.

Is that true?  Or can there be a call or non-call that is so great that it swings momentum?  It changes the direction of the game?  All of us can attest to seeing just that happen.  Had a call gone another way then it would have been a different game.

Baseball acknowledges such with how it reviews plays and calls.  The last three innings open up a broader array of who can request a review or what can be reviewed.  So, is a 4th and 1 yard to go decision in the first quarter more important than in the last two minutes of a close game?  Well, the intensity of play seems to indicate it is.

What is "crunch time" in our faith life?  In the parable of the "Rich Fool," Christ seems to tell us that each day is "crunch time." We read in Luke 12 that a wealthy man decides to build up his storehouses in order to live a life of leisure.  "I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax,eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you....'" (v. 19 - 20)

Pray that we use our time wisely, as well as the gifts he has given us.  Pray that we focus on each day in front of us and that we not dwell on those days behind us or ahead of us.

Hope Men's Ministry

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Devotion 1.8.15

Honor, Glory, and Praise

I am certain that those of you who know me thought this would be the topic yesterday - Tuesday's announcement of the 2015 MLB Hall of Fame inductees, especially with Craig Biggio, the Houston Astro extraordinaire, being in that group.  Among them, Randy Johnson, former pitching great, Pedro Martinez, pitcher as well, John Smoltz, pitcher with one of the deadliest rotations ever in MLB, and Biggio, a 3000+ hit in his career/catcher/second baseman/center field/All-Star.  Yes, the Biggio decision made me proud.  I had seen him start and end his career in Houston from a young age through retirement.  When he had an ability to go with the Yankees in the late 90s, he stayed with Houston for a lesser amount.

Other sports have all stars and halls of fame, but baseball seems to be the premier among them.  Selection is done by the baseball writers, who see their role as protecting the game (especially a game that cannot protect itself).  Alcohol, drug use, and steroid use have been among its problems, so the heroes we honor in baseball should reflect more than the game they played but rather be able to live up to a standard off the field as well.  They are our heroes.

We love our heroes, and we love to honor them.  We stand with tears in our eyes with them as they parade by at events such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Veteran's Day.  We get chills when they fly over at the start of games.  Lumps go in our throats as the battalion of bagpipes walks by playing "Amazing Grace" in honor of or to glorify a fallen hero.  And even in our sports, we enjoy giving them a status or level of respect because they exemplified what is best in all of us.  Heroes are truly in all walks of life.  Yet, we are very disappointed when we see our heroes have human qualities as well.  When they stumble, we withdraw support quickly, and maybe even join in the throngs of people who condemn them.

If we look at scripture, we see that our honor needs to have a measure of sobriety.  "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us," we read in 1 John (1:8).  Our heroes are human, worthy of honor, but not to be idolized.  Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and professions but they are fallible, one and all.

There really is only one who is worthy of worship, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To God, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1:9)  Only faith in the resurrected Christ gives us this assurance.  He is the one worthy of worship and praise.  Humans are just that, human.

Peace in the Risen Christ -

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Reminders 1.7.15

Second Saturday - This Saturday at 9 a.m.  Breakfast and Bible Study.  See you then.

Worship and Bible Study - Thanks to Pastor Hiner and his staff for a well-planned and thought out Sunday, with worship, Bible Study and Sunday School aligned and times changed to meet a need.  Great healthy turnout in Bible Study and Sunday School last Sunday.

Monday - A simple idea for spreading the good news, all from your desk, for the men of Hope.

Devotion 1.7.15


Power and the use of power.  Today, during my workout routine at the local gym, several news channels were on, including Fox News, which was covering the challenge to the speakership of the US House of Representatives.  Some conservatives, it seems, believe the current speaker to not be conservative enough and hence a challenge to his leadership.  Conventional wisdom is he will certainly retain his post, but at what cost to the challengers?

Power is derived from two sources:  the perception of power and the use of power (real and perceived).  As I watched the report (wasn't listening to it), I wondered if, during his time in the Senate, a member of the Democratic party would have ever had the notion to challenge LBJ's power?  In today's media driven, blog driven, 24/7 news cycle from a thousand sources, Leader Boehner will have to be careful and use his power judiciously so as not to appear heavy-handed.  But the people who moved against him will probably, over time, pay.  LBJ?  Choice assignments, a deft hand, and another hand left to strangle an opponent with whatever means necessary, no challenges. 

This has always been an interesting subject for me to study for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, I've never had power to any real degree.  Secondly, it is extremely interesting to watch someone exercise the use of power and mishandle it.  In the ultimate end, they all get whisked away because you either have power or lose it, and the aftermath is mostly sad.

In 1 Kings 3, Solomon is granted by God a request for basically whatever he wants. He responds by saying he would like wisdom (discernment between good and evil).  His request informs us he probably already had wisdom, so he is seeking God's insight, spiritual wisdom.  God grants his request and blesses Solomon with great wealth, power, and wisdom, which, in the end, as with all of  God's servants, he squanders.

Christ comes to earth as man, yet God.  He has great power, knowledge, and wisdom at his access, but he understands his commitment as being obedient to the will of the Father (true wisdom).  In Luke 2, we see the boy Jesus in the temple displaying a great command of the Word.  When his parents inquire of is whereabouts and failure to let them know where he was, he says, "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (2:49)  Christ "had" to be there.  It was his obedience to his Father to be there in his presence.  Our pastor said the word in Greek literally means, "It is necessary for me" to be here. 

Christ's wisdom takes him to the cross out of obedience to the Father.  It is his Father's will.  Pray that we learn that wisdom as well.  What is truly necessary for us as believers in terms of God's will?  Pray for the strength, courage, and wisdom do Christ's will in our lives. 

Peace in Christ

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, January 5, 2015

Devotion 1.6.15

Leadership/Goal Setting

Well, it is certainly that time of year when we take an assessment of our life and say, "In this new year, I'm going to resolve to .... " (You put your own resolution here.)  I have another word for them:  failure.

What causes us to fail at our plans or resolutions?  Time.  Commitment.  Support.  Lack of an actual plan for success.  In running, we were encouraged by the experts to state our goal because that goal actually stated to others created accountability.  "I'm going to run the Dallas Marathon in December of 2015" for example.  You say that to others, and sure enough, they will ask how it is going periodically.  In addition, if you are going to run a marathon and are currently a casual runner, you will need to put a plan in place to eventually run 26.2 miles.  It's not something that is going to happen on its own.

In the world of academia, I think they refer to those kind of people as ABDs. All But Dissertation.  Yes, I got the required coursework, but I didn't complete the requirements of the program. Yes, I got the required coursework, but I didn't complete the requirements of the program.  In other words, I didn't have the time, commitment, support, or plan to see it through.  So, we see it occur in all forms of life, not just running.  So, what did you say is going to be your resolution?  What is your marathon?  Your dissertation?

So, what did you say is going to be your resolution?  A new you?  A better parent?  A better specimen of manhood in terms of physique?  A better spouse perhaps.  Maybe even sobriety or ceasing in unhealthy living.  How will you do that and how will you know when you have achieved such?

May I suggest that for all of us, we observe the following in whatever goals we set (really at whatever time we set them, not just New Years)?  Place Christ at the center of your goal.  Prayer, scripture, time to meditate on such things, regardless of how brief that may be, to me, assures a proper focus.  Those activities provide encouragement when you are low and feel as though you aren't achieving what you wanted.  I would also find an accountability partner whom you can trust and can speak candidly with if it is as simple as weight loss to whatever your plan is.

Christ at the center of our plans gives us that focal point.  It doesn't ensure success, but it is a start.
"I can do all things to him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:13

Good luck with your goals for the New Year -

Hope Men's Ministry

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Devotion 1.5.15

Modern Day Issues

Today's devotion is brief because sometimes all it takes is a quote to drive a point home like a hammer drives a nail.  As we live from day-to-day, facing certain issues, problems, or opportunities, this quote is one worth remembering.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

"Be careful not to allow your circumstances control your theology.  Is your eye on the Savior or the storm?" Tony Evans

Peace in Christ -

Hope Men's Ministry

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Years to you and your family.  You may begin practicing - January 2, 20142015.

The Men's Ministry Devotions will resume Monday, January 5, 2015.

Reminder of Sunday's time changes:

8:30 for the first service
9:45 for the Sunday School/Bible Study hour (a full hour now)
11:00 for the second service

We also have time between our services to greet properly those we do not know or have not met.

Christ's Peace to each of you -

Hope Men's Ministry