My office was moved again last week – this time into a “Retirement Office.” It is my seventh office in twenty-two years on the Southwestern Baptist Seminary faculty, and my last. My wife won’t let me bring all the books and file cabinets and pictures home. So I have two options: keep teaching as an Adjunct Professor, thereby keeping an office, or die, in which case my entire library will go to the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Spiritually, I’m ready to die. Physically, I’d like to teach a few more classes. Speaking of spiritual, I need to draw something spiritual out of this situation or this will cease to be the Monday Morning Memo it was intended to be. For me, at least, life has been a series of moves – some geographical, some vocational, some emotional, some spiritual. Hopefully, all have been directed or at least, allowed, by God. This last move – to retirement and a retirement office – was a bit more traumatic than I had anticipated. As has been my custom over the years, I looked to God’ Word for help. Standing in the midst of the Areopagus in Athens, Paul said, referring to Jesus, “in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).” I trust that last week’s move was “in Him” and I pray that all of your moves this week will likewise be “in Him.”
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I’ve just returned from the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, Texas. More amazing to me than the inspiring sermons, the uplifting music, the debatable reports, and the non-binding resolutions, was hearing an experience from a colleague of mine. Staying in a hotel just a few block from the historic Alamo, this long-time John Wayne fan drove 127 miles to Brackettville, Texas to see the movie set of the film, “The Alamo.” Never mind Davie Crockett, Sam Houston, William Travis, James Bowie, and a host of others, Brackettville is the location of the Alamo where the legendary John Wayne was. Amazing!
One day, the disciple, Philip, said to Jesus. “Lord, show us the Father.” Patiently (or maybe the Biblical record hides the Lord’s frustration) Jesus replied, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip (John 14:8-9)?” Also amazing! Poor Philip! Like my colleague, he missed the real while looking for the spectacular. I pray that doesn’t happen to you or me this week.
I have been reading with great interest the activities surrounding the dedication of the Billy Graham Museum in North Carolina. Proving that no family is perfect, the Graham family has had their disagreements aired in the media. Finally the Museum is dedicated and open to the public. The most interesting event to me was reported on Billy Graham’s first visit to the Museum. Upon entering he reportedly said, “Too much Billy; not enough Jesus.” The comment caused me to wonder where else that same quote might be used:
• Too much personality; not enough Jesus.
• Too much program; not enough Jesus.
• Too much building; not enough Jesus.
• Too much talking; not enough Jesus.
• Too much curriculum; not enough Jesus.
On the Mount of Transfiguration three disciples saw a lot of extras. Moses and Elijah appeared after being dead a long time. There was a bright cloud and a voice coming out of the cloud. The extras caused them to fall on their faces. When they looked up again, Moses and Elijah were gone. The cloud was unseen and the voice unheard. Matthew 17:8 records that the disciples, “saw no one but Jesus only.”
With all the extras that surround me, I may not be able to see “Jesus only” this week but at least I’m going to try to experience more of Jesus and not so much of the other. How about you?
Ever had an Elijah complex? Elijah was a 9th century prophet in Israel during the reign of King Ahab. At the darkest hour, God sent him to confront Ahab. There had been no rain for three years in Israel. Elijah had encountered the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and killed all 850 of them before praying for rain. Ahab rushed to tell Jezebel with Elijah running along side. Jezebel’s message to Elijah was, “You’re going to die!” Elijah sat under a broom tree and “prayed that he might die. (I Kings 19:4)” Elijah made three symptomatic statements and added an additional statement in verse 10, all describing an Elijah complex:
• “It is enough.”
• “Take my life”
• “I am no better then my fathers”
• “I alone am left.”
Before the chapter is over there appears a cure for an Elijah complex. God told Elijah to get back to doing what he had been called to do. I have discovered when I am doing what God called me to do – no more and no less – I don’t have to worry about the Elijah complex. How about you?
Spiritual conflict! You have likely thought about this subject in terms of something that happens elsewhere–such as on the front lines of missionary service. After all, isn’t the heat of the battle always on the front lines? It is until the front lines reach your front door. Conflict is no longer something for other people in other places. It is here and now, up close and personal, and at just the time when you were trying so hard to grow in your discipleship. How do you know when you are growing in discipleship? Measurement is not just in the number of hours spent in Bible study, the disciplines involved in your prayer life, the amount of money given to spiritual causes, the miles of missionary journeys you have traveled, or the number of persons to whom you have witnessed, but it is often in the way you respond to conflict. Just as true metal is tested in the fire, so the believer is tested in the conflicts encountered. Many a believer, successful in the eyes of the world, has failed in the face of conflict and thus negated much of the ministry entrusted to him or her. Conflict that could have propelled them toward God instead drove them away from God. Cope well with your conflicts this week.
Taken from the introduction of Dr. Dan’s new book, Coping With Conflict: A Measure of Discipleship.
To download a copy of the eBook, click here.
I’ve never walked on water, although I have gotten my feet wet a few times. As far as I can tell, Peter just had one chance to walk on water (Matt. 14:22-33). He made the most of it. There comes a time when you have to act, step out on faith, get your feet wet. Peter did. At one time Peter had wayward feet, but Andrew brought him to Jesus.
Then he had washed feet when Jesus knelt before him and washed his feet. He had wandering feet when he denied the Lord. He also had willing feet. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace” (Rom 10:15). Here, Peter had wet feet because he was attempting to walk on the water (He actually made one step on water, which I one more than I’ve made). When the opportunity comes your way to exhibit water-walking faith you too have to act. Such an opportunity may well only knock once. Sometimes I get stuff in the mail that says, “For a limited time only.” That could be written over a lot of possibilities in life. Look for opportunities this week – opportunities that may come your way only once – and if you can’t walk on water, at least get your feet wet.
The other morning I got up with a list of things that had to be done that day. When I lay down on the same bed that same night, none of the things I had planned to do had been done. Have you ever had a day when you never got to your “To Do” list because of interruptions? Some weeks, I have about three of those days. I hear the term “The Ministry of Interruptions” and it bothers me because I try to be so organized. How could an interruption be meaningful, much less ministry? But it was for Jesus. He had an entire of day of interruptions – a man named Legion with emotional issues, a government official named Jairus with a family concern, a woman with a physical problem that doctors couldn’t solve, and a young girl that appeared to have died. I don’t know what he had planned for that day, but if you’ll read Mark 5, you will discover what Jesus did with the interruptions that came into His schedule. May you and I do as well with the interruptions that come our way this week.
While I’ve always believed that the Bible was fully inspired by God, lately I’ve been inspired by even the divine arrangement of ideas in the Bible. For instance, the Psalmist – in the Psalm without equal – proclaims God “restores his soul” then goes on to affirm that God leads him “in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3). When I was young, there was a still-popular phrase, from a generation or two before me. Seems folks had a mental image of “getting the cart before the horse” and often warned against such an arrangement. In fact, as I made my plans for the future, my grandfather often cautioned me to avoid getting my cart before my horse. While I did not then, nor do I now, own a cart, nor a horse, I do have a similar problem with more modern terminology. Too often I get the order of scripture backwards. I want to be led in righteous paths, but I don’t want to wait for my soul to be restored. So as you plan your week, be sure you have your cart in its proper alignment or your horse will have great difficulty in finding “righteous” paths.
You don’t really know what is in someone’s mind until it comes out in words, (unless, of course, they are a pantomime artist). Jesus was a reality in the mind of God, but we didn’t really know it for sure until the Father sent the Son as “the Word made flesh.” As Jesus, the eternal Word, lived and taught, the message of the Father was communicated to mankind in a way that did not misrepresent God’s plan. Recently, I sat on the Emergency Door row of an airplane. While waiting for take-off, I decided to read the emergency card in the seat pocket. “Do not sit on this row if: (You are physically unable to open the door, etc.) The last “If” on the list was, “If you cannot read English.” Hmmmm! Barring a language barrier, words are helpful in clarifying thoughts. As Jesus, the eternal Word, lived and taught, He clarified the meaning of God. Watch your words today. They may clarify what’s in your mind.
We’ve just witnessed the nation’s worst shooting in history. Thirty-three students and faculty killed at Virginia Tech in one morning. Repeatedly I heard students and others saying in interviews, “I just want to forget it” and “I just want to get back to normal.” It’s not likely to happen. As far as normal has to do with our spirit – fear, anger, sadness, anxiety. etc. – things will never be normal again. Have you forgotten Columbine? Members of our church in Fort Worth, Texas haven’t forgotten September 15, 1999 when a lone gunman with two guns, two hundred rounds of ammunition and a pipe bomb, took twelve minutes to kill seven, seriously wound seven, traumatize hundreds, including members of my family, and finally take his own life. We learned that you don’t go back to normal. A new normal must be created. Maybe that’s part of what the Psalmist meant when he asked God to renew a right or steadfast spirit within him (Ps. 51:10). Come to think of it, this might be a good week for another renewal of spirit.
To download my eBook of the account of the Wedgwood Baptist Church shootings, click here.