The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come (Eccl. 12:1).” Yesterday we celebrated our granddaughter’s fifteenth birthday. Someone said, “Grand kids are God’s reward for not killing your teenagers.” I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that our lives have been rewarded a hundred times over by our loving granddaughter. Actively involved at her Christian school and faithful to all her church’s youth activities, Whitney consistently remembers her Creator in the days of her youth. Most of the readers of this Monday Morning Memo know that “difficult days” do come and one way to cope with them is by remembering the Creator’s guidance in the past. This might be a good week to thankfully remember your Creator for His past leadership in your life and for assurance of ongoing divine direction.
Everywhere I’ve been I have discovered people to have at least one thing in common. Whether I’ve been in the over-crowded cities of the third world or the high-tech cities of North America; whether I’ve been in the great urban centers or in the open-country, rural areas; whether I have been among the very rich or the very poor; whether I have been among the highly educated of academia or among those with little formal education; whatever the age group; whatever the scocio-economic level, I have found one thing in common with everyone I have met. Everyone has a desire to be happy. Not everyone defines happiness the same way, but all desire it. The formula for genuine happiness is stated in these words from Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all you ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your path.” It is my prayer that this week will open up for you a deeper level of happiness than you have ever known before.
Taken from the introduction of Dr. Dan’s latest book, “God’s Formula for Genuine Happiness.”
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Currently I am compiling a book for America’s National Prayer Committee that includes multiple authors from various denominational backgrounds. Chapters from authors are arriving daily. I used to wonder why God chose eight or nine men (depending on who wrote Hebrews) to write the New Testament instead of just picking one and inspiring all of it through him. The second answer I was given (after the first answer of “We don’t ask that kind of question.”) was because God loves diversity. God knows, as I read the various writing styles and ideas of my contributors, I am trying my very best to love diversity, or at least appreciate it. I need to. We all need to. Paul wrote, “we have many members in one body” (Rom. 12:4). I keep reminding myself that there are no majority parts in the body/Body. We are each uniquely created by God and placed in the Body to accomplish a divine purpose. No two of us are exactly alike. This might be a good week to celebrate the diversity in the Father’s forever family.
I have a younger brother of whom I am very proud. He is heavily involved in the Southern Gospel Music industry. If you log on to www.solidgospel.com on Sunday morning, you will hear him as Breakfast Bob. When Bob was young he came home from church one Sunday having memorized Eph. 4:32, “Be ye kind one to another” from the King James Version of the Bible. There were a couple of other versions back then, but only liberals used them (or so we were told). Our parents were very proud of Bob for his scripture memory. I was not. Every time I started to hit him or do him some other bodily harm, he quoted that verse to me. What he was doing, although we were both too young to know it, was stabilizing our relationship before it needed repair. Most of us are not so fortunate. Our relationships need repair. I encourage you to repair some strained relationships this week, or maybe stabilize a few before they need repair. “Be ye kind to one another” this week.
This week – with flags and fireworks, parades and picnics, back-yard cook-outs and ballgame tailgates, water sports and watermelon, patriotic church services and patriotic goose bumps – we will celebrate our nation’s birthday one more time. Make no mistake about it, I am proud to be an American. I am glad I live in a country where I can celebrate my nation’s birthday with fellow Christians in a church service. However, I have worshipped with enough people groups in other countries, to not want to wrap up the Gospel in red, white and blue. If we sincerely pray for God’s will, “on earth as it is in heaven (Luke 11:2)” we need to remember that heaven is populated with people from every tongue, tribe, nation, and people. Red, white and blue will be only three of the colors in the heavenly mosaic. While I’m proud to claim them here on earth, the eternal perspective is different. Nevertheless, happy birthday, America – one more time!
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.
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