Saturday, January 28, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

Quote of the Day


"If you really want to write for God, then you have to understand that your words may never be bound between a cover and placed on the shelves of a Lifeway Bookstore. They may only be meant for the person sitting next to you. When you get your head around the fact that the words belong to God and not you, then He can and will use you."

- Dr. Alton Gansky

His Name is Jireh

His name is Jireh, He's my Provider.  He's the Provider for me.

So go the lyrics of a song by the Southern Gospel group The Hoppers.  Jireh may be the most recognized Old Testament name of God.

Twenty-five years ago, as a college student I picked up Kay Arthur's study LORD, I Want to Know You.  In it, she teaches the reader many of the names.

The book of Proverbs says, The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The rigtheous run into it and find safety (Pr. 18:10).


Over and over, the psalmist writes of boasting in the name of the Lord.  You have exalted above all things Your name and Your Word (Ps. 138:2).

God's names reveal His character.   They show us reasons to trust Him, expectations of the covenant relationship.  They remind us of who He is.

In the familiar text of Genesis 22, God reveals His name as Jehovah-Jireh.  God tests His servant Abraham, asking him to take his promised son Isaac to the region of Moriah and sacrifice him on a mountain.  Through great struggle, the father of faith obeys.

Terry Akrill said, "Sometimes God likes to do things ten seconds before midnight."

Well, in like fashion, as Abraham prepares to kill his son, God immediately intervenes.  As an old Derek Floyd song says,

"Lay down the knife, O Abraham.  Behold the bush, I've sent a ram.  Untie the boy and hold him, he'll be going home with you today."

Abraham and Isaac sacrifice the animal and worship the Lord.  They call that place Jehovah-Jireh, which is often translated "The Lord will provide."

A deeper look into the words meanings reveal more of God's faithful nature.  The word Jireh derives from a word that means "to see."  Note the similarities between the words provide, provision, and providence.

God has provision.  Or pro-vision.  He sees.  He sees beforehand.  He sees ahead.  He knows what is coming.  And in seeing, He provides for the need.  Nothing surprises Him.

What a wonderful word - the word "Providence."   It speaks of the activity of the Lord in the affairs of humanity.  He sees.  He knows.  He has pro-vision.  And He provides.

Steve Farrar writes, "No matter where you are in life, no matter how dark your present circumstances, you can stand on the providence of God."

Farrar, in his book Tempered Steel: How God Shapes a Man's Heart through Adversity,  refers to an author from the 1800's named Thomas Watson, who wrote, "God is to be trusted when his providences seem to run contrary to His promises. . . .  Trust God when providences seem to run quite contrary to promises." 

The Floyd song continues, "Lay it down at Mount Moriah.  Offer up what you hold best, giving in complete surrender, that you may know God's faithfulness."

The name Jehovah-Jireh  reminds us that God sees, He knows, and He is faithful.

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.  And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided (Genesis 22:14).  

Father, thank you for seeing us.  For knowing all about us.  And thank you that in seeing beforehand, you provide.  Enable us to trust you and surrender our best to you.




Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week One


I told my wife last weekend, "I am excited to see what the new administration does in week one!" And I have not been disappointed. Glad they are moving ahead, making progress, and getting things done. So pleased with his inauguration speech - not political eloquence but instead "I plan on keeping my campaign promises."

My Congressman Jeff Duncan posted the following today:

"President Donald Trump has approved both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.

This is exactly the kind of pro-growth action I was hoping the President would take in the early days of his Administration. These two pipelines bring us much closer to American and hemispheric energy independence, and may even herald a new day of energy exports that will bring more wealth for our country. Construction of these pipelines will also provide thousands of good-paying, private sector jobs and get more Americans working. This is a win-win-win scenario for America – more jobs, more energy, more economic benefit. This is also a step clearly in the national interest that should have been taken a long time ago.

I applaud the President for taking these bold steps towards energy independence. Now it’s time to further unleash the power of energy producers by ending the terrible regulations of the Obama Administration, opening up federal lands for production, and approving permits for offshore seismic testing. With a free-market, all-of-the-above energy approach, we can be an energy independent nation by the end of President Trump’s first term. I stand ready to work with him in Congress to achieve this crucial goal."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Great Promises


Have you ever had a week where it seemed like every time you turned around someone you love was hurting? My email and Facebook page have been filled with requests for prayer. Most of them have been for huge, life-changing situations, from serious and sometimes life-threatening illness to wrecked relationships.

Frankly, I have felt overwhelmed, helpless to do anything but say, “I love you, I'm praying for you, and I’m here if I can help in any way.”

I suspect we’ve all faced times like this. Or times when we’re the ones going through the fire. So I thought this would be a good time to share some of God’s sweet promises that we can cling to during difficult days:

Read the entire article, 5 Promises for Difficult Days, here by Michelle Cox.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

New Day in America


It's a new morning in America. After eight years of not being excited about the direction nor leadership of our country, of being disgusted time and again, I am thankful and hopeful. Donald Trump was not my first, second, or third choice for President. But today I am thankful he will be my President, am thankful he defeated the Clinton machine, and am thankful for the hope of a Constitutional Republic. I am thrilled with his choice of Mike Pence as VP, I have been pleased with most of his cabinet picks including Ben Carson and Sonny Perdue, and I am disgusted with the way much of the media, the far left, many Democratic Senators, and the Hollywood self-proclaimed-pundits have reacted since the election. Move forward, President Trump and VP Pence. My prayers are with you!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Resignation from The Spring Church


Tracey and I are preparing to move into a new season of life.  

Richard Blackaby writes in The Seasons of God  about Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”   

This passage helps us ‘to see perpetual change not as something unsettling but as an unfolding pattern, scintillating and God-given.’  We might suppose we’d prefer a permanently stable life with fixed and comfortable routines, but ‘there is something better . . . .  Instead of frozen perfection there is the kaleidoscopic movement of innumerable processes, each with its own character and period of blossoming and ripening, beautiful in its time and contributing to the overall masterpiece which is the work of one Creator.

Click here to read my resignation from The Spring Church in Laurens, South Carolina.

Boycotting the Inauguration: Childish and Silly



Monday, January 16, 2017

Quote of the Day


"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." 

 --Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ten reasons I’m glad I was homeschooled


Excellent article by Ellen Densmore, Colorado Christian University student 

“ 'Do you have any friends?' 'I wish I could stay in my pajamas all day.' 'I couldn’t stand being around my family all the time.' Those are just a few of the common questions and assertions I’ve grown up hearing as a student who was homeschooled all the way through 12th grade. 

So, since you asked: Yes, I have friends; no, I don’t stay in my pajamas all day long; and I rather like my family, thank you. Homeschooling is an empowering institution—not a lazy one. It’s a system that builds family devotion, personal initiative, and communication skills, and allows individual passions and interests to drive each student. There are a plethora of reasons I’m thankful I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, and I’d like to share just 10 of those with you.

#1. Christian Worldview

Instead of being subjected to indoctrination in the state’s public school that have effectively eliminated God from the public square, I was educated in an environment where God was a key part of every aspect of life. The sciences are packed with evidence of His hand and design in creation; geography and social sciences are studies of His people; history is 'His-story,' and I grew up recognizing His divine plan for Israel, the world, and America. Beyond textbook schooling, my parents instilled me with what I like to call a 'worldview filter' through which I examine every book, movie, and song lyric. My Christian worldview is the foundation of my intellectual and spiritual identity.

Read the entire ten reasons here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Detours


Sometimes God takes us on detours that dismantle our comfort level in order to do something bigger that God had in mind for him.

Brother Tony Evans talks about God's detours in our lives.


 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Jim Williams - A Steady Hand

 
Twenty five years ago I walked into the small town barber shop of Jim Williams.  It was like walking into Mayberry.  The interior was old-fashioned.  Classical music lightly played through the speaker.  Theater seats, newspapers, and conversation welcomed customers.  Old and young men sat and shared recent news.  Every Christmas he gave out black combs marked with “Williams Barber Shop.”  He would give me several saying, "Here, give some to your boys."

I was nineteen years old - a freshman at Presbyterian College. Mr. Jim was in his sixties.  We began a friendship that would last a quarter of a century.


At our first meeting, we found common ground in our faith.  We both believed in Christ, read the Bible, and were Baptists.  I doubt if there was one time out of the several hundred I visited his shop that we did not talk about God's Word in our conversations.


He cut my hair for much of those years, except for the four years I was in seminary.  He remained an encourager in my life, he often wanted to talk about the Lord, and he shared many of the faithful qualities of his generation. 


Jim opened his shop in 1952.  When he celebrated his 60th anniversary in the shop, he asked me to come and sing at a special gathering.  I was unavailable, but I appreciated his thoughtfulness.  I later sang at his request at his brother’s funeral.


Jim was opinionated and didn't mind sharing those thoughts.  He had a "this is what I think, and you can take it or leave it" mindset.  He had the exterior of a stubborn old man who was set in his ways.  I would often come home and share with my family something funny Jim said.  But knowing him for many years, I knew that there was depth and goodness beyond the outside.  And I knew that he sincerely wanted to please his Lord.   


Jim always asked about my life.  He showed interest in my family, my education, my various pursuits, and in the churches I served.  Occasionally he would stop cutting, put his hand on my shoulder, and offer unsolicited advice.  I knew he genuinely cared about me and hoped for my best.  I think in some ways to him I was always that nineteen year old college student who walked into his shop.  When I gave him one of my business cards a year ago, he looked at my picture and began laughing.  He said, “I forget that you aren’t a freshman in college anymore.  You don’t look like you did then!”


He was excited when my wife and I recorded our musical CD's.  I received a memorial from him when my father died.  He even assisted me during my doctoral research by allowing me to interview him.  In recent years as I became a published author, he took interest in hearing about my writings and regularly asked where I was being published.


Jim taught a Sunday School class weekly.  I could expect an update from him regarding what book of the Bible he was currently teaching to the Knights of the King class.  He embodied faithfulness.  He was proud of his boys.  He often talked of his late wife, what a wonderful woman she was, and how he missed her.  I remember his stopping cutting hair one time and saying, "When she was here I had a home.  Now I have a house."   


The day I learned of his death, I told my wife, Jim is one of those folks that you thought would always be around.  You just never thought he would be gone.  


I will miss his steady hand on my shoulder. 


God bless you, Jim, and goodbye old friend. You are now with Christ and those who have gone before you.

Happy New Year!


A blessed 2017 to you and yours from The Wilsons!!!

 

Open Windows Devotions


If your church receives the devotional OPEN WINDOWS, look for the devotions I wrote for January 1-10.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year

The first days of January offer a great time for evaluation, reflection, and planning.  The following is a helpful article by Donald Whitney.  

"Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. 'Consider your ways!' (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.


Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God."

Read the entire article, 10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday, here.