You are not your own; you were bought at a price. 1 Cor. 6:19-20.
A while back I used to meet at a local coffee shop with a group of men from First Baptist Church. We’d spend about an hour and a half studying, praying for needs, challenging each other in our relationship with Christ and generally drinking too much coffee. It is one of the highlights of my week.
One morning as we were studying Crazy Love by Francis Chan, someone asked if we knew anyone who was totally in love with God. You know, a completely sold-out, every fiber of their being doing little more than living, breathing, talking, thinking about and obeying Christ.
We all got silent for a few moments while we racked our brains trying to think of someone we knew who was totally and completely sold out and in love with God. As the silence lingered, I thought it rather humorous that none of us at the meeting thought anyone at the table fit that description. Even the two pastors who were there, yours truly being one of them, weren’t named by anyone else in the group as being totally in love with Christ. Well, that was humbling!
The first person who came to my mind was Mark Buntain, who visited my Bible college in the early 80’s. A missionary to India, Mark founded Calcutta Mercy Ministries, which reaches the poorest in India through schools, a homeless shelter, a church, massive feeding programs, an orphanage and a large church. I remember hearing him teach in the chapel, and I was struck with his sincerity, complete humility, and absolute dedication to the work Christ called him to. When he finished speaking, instead of coming down front and meeting the students like every other every other speaker did, listening to their compliments and signing autographs, Mark turned around and dropped to his knees at the choir pew and engaged in prayer. That image is still burned in my mind. Continue Reading
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” — Deuteronomy 8:10
If you’ve been involved in Christianity for more that two weeks, you’ve probably sat around the dinner table with other Christians and prayed before you ate. This is a good practice, for reminds us that God is the source of all the good things in our life. However, I think our practice of praying before a meal can become nothing more than a religious habit, especially when we are in the presence of other Christians. To be honest, the only time I ever pray over a meal is when I’m with someone else. Otherwise, I just jump right in and eat.
Although I believe that gratitude for the gifts of God needs to be a 24/7 attitude, I find I’m usually grateful on a ½ /1 basis. That is, about a half hour one day a week. Then I go and stumble upon Deuteronomy 8:10 and I feel like a worm.
Deuteronomy is the farewell address of Moses to the Israelites. Deuteronomy means “repetition of the law,” since God gave all the commandments to Moses at Mt. Sinai in the first year of the Exodus. Since most parents get really serious when they repeat something to their children, I figure God was very intentional about helping us learn the lessons found in this book.
Deuteronomy 8 is God’s reminder that we are to remain in an attitude of gratitude, and He encourages us not to forget that He brought us out of our desperate situation and into a place of abundance. God commands us to give thanks after we have eaten, otherwise “your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God” (8:12). Moses goes on to warn, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (8:17).
It’s the “after” part that I keep stumbling over. Continue Reading