Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youth by John Wright

Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youth        
by John Wright

            On August 6th, Carla and I celebrated our 30th anniversary.  Thirty years may not be a huge milestone, but it is long enough that I had a number of people comment about how rare it is today for couples to stay together so long.  It may be rare today for a couple to stay together, but it is still the ideal, and respected when accomplishedThere is a proverb that Solomon wrote that I have been chewing on for about twenty five years.  It is a proverb that speaks about how much a family suffers when the ideal arrangement of one man one woman for life is not adhered to.  This Proverb has meant a lot to me because I have always tried to interpret it from the life experience of the writer concerning things he did, and the things he experienced growing up in a very broken and dysfunctional home.  Remember that Solomon's Father, David was a great King, but his family life was broken primarily because of David's sin, and his many wives.  I think it worth mentioning that the scriptures tell us in 1 Samuel 18:20 that Michal, David's first wife was in love with David.  I do not know anywhere else in the bible where a woman's love for a man is recorded, but tragically they never lived as a married couple in love.  Listen now to what the proverb says:  Proverbs 5:15-18 (NIV)

15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

            I have read this proverb many times over the years and I know that the context is about avoiding sexual sins, but when I read it, I detect an emotion of regret that is heavy on the authors mind when he penned this.  I think it is fair to ask: where is the wife of King Solomon's youth?  1 kings 11-3 tells us that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and these women turned the heart of Solomon after other gods.  There is a saying "it's good to be the King," but a life of excess also leads to a life of regrets.  King Solomon knew how his father's life ended.  The details of King David's days are described in 1 kings chapter 1.  David had a entourage of servants and advisors to care for him, but apparently there was no family around to care for any of his intimate needs.  David's servants found a beautiful girl to attend to the King, but this was a futile gesture.  Where was Bathsheba, Solomon's mother?  The text tells us she was alive and well.  She was busy making sure that her son got the throne over any of Solomon's step-brothers.

            What does all this say about a happy marriage?  Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well is speaking about being happy with your wife and enjoying each other all of your days.  Yes there are things that are private and only shared between man and wife.  The strong assertion is that marital bliss is to be private and yours, alone.

            All young married couples should read this proverb, because its lesson is to be happy now and this will give you happiness later, yes much later.  May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't emphasize that my point is that I am fortunate to still be rejoicing in the wife of my youth whom I am still in love with, more and more with each passing day.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

With God by Mike DeCamp

With God

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.  After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.  Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.  Genesis 5:21-24

The verse above has always intrigued me.  It strums on my curiosity strings.  How cool must that have been?  What would it be like to actually ‘walk with God’?  What is it like when God just takes a person away?  Where exactly did Enoch go?

To walk WITH God.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

 Let’s say you’re on the beach…strolling the warm sands with the breeze in your hair…alone…thinking of life and love; the future and the past…suddenly, there at your side…you glance over…it’s God.

Maybe you’re hiking a mountain trail…sweat streaking down the sides of your face…your thighs are on fire from the exertion…you’re bent forward…leaning into the climb…contemplating the meaning of your life…why are you here?...what are you supposed to be doing? glance up…just ahead…there’s God.

Wouldn’t it be cool?  Wouldn’t it be awesome?

Apparently Enoch did just that.

It seems that God enjoyed that relationship so much that one day he just looked at Enoch and said:  “Come WITH me.”

Away they went.  Away they still are.  Enoch is still walking…WITH God.

I think from my youngest days I’ve always wanted to be close to God.  I’ve always wanted to talk to God.  I can remember looking up into the sky, watching the clouds roll over my head, and asking God to open up the heavens so I could see Him.

Have you ever felt that way? 

Think back to your days of innocence, those days before the messes of life cluttered your heart and your mind.  Remember when you simply yearned for the wonders of God.  In those days, it almost seemed possible…right?…maybe He would just sit on the other end of the teeter totter and bounce up and down with you.  Maybe.

But, isn’t that the promise we have?

Isn’t that what we have to look forward to? 

A future WITH God.  A home with the Creator.  An easy meander down the Main Street of the New Jerusalem next to our Friend.  Do we believe that is really in our future?

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be WITH me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”  John 14:1-4

The way?  Which way?

THE way.  The WAY!

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.”  John 14:6-7

All of history has been orchestrated by God in order to give us a path…a road…a way to lead us to be WITH Him.  That path is found in Jesus…the Christ…the Savior…the Way.


…Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Genesis 5:22 

Enoch walked “faithfully” with God here on earth, so God took him.  If we are faithful friends here…we will be brought in faith to be friends there. 

Here’s the thing…to WALK faithfully means to be doing faithful things.  It is an active faith.  You may not be able to walk perfectly, but you must walk faithfully….and faithfully walk.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am WITH you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18b-20

I’d love to be out on my bike for a ride in the country some Saturday morning…the sun on my shoulders…the wind at my back…then, have another rider pedal up beside me…and as I look over, I realize…it’s God!  Oh man!  How incredible.  I really cannot describe the feelings that would explode in my heart and mind!  But, in reality, HE is WITH me…and you…already.  If we are walking faithfully in Christ, he is at our side…surely, and to the end of the age.

I don’t know all the intricacies of walking WITH God.  The men of Southeastern are going to explore those things in our upcoming Men’s Advance in September, but in reality, we will always be finding more ways…more trails…more country roads…more avenues…more walks of life…where we can be WITH God.  When we are at work…when we are in the car…when we are at a restaurant…when we are alone…when we are in a crowd…on Sunday morning…on Friday night. 

We are never alone…when we are With God.


MEN:  I encourage you to sign up for and participate in the upcoming Men’s Advance to be held on September 27-28, 2013 at the Spring Hill Camp in Seymour, Indiana.  This will be a great opportunity to better understand what it means to be WITH GOD.  The cost is $30.  Sign up in the foyer, or call the church office and ask them to put your name on the list.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Golf's Sacred Journey"--Frank Black


(Frank Black)

Hey, wait a minute; isn’t this supposed to be a write-up for our church?  Not about golf!  You’re right; and no, I haven’t sent this article to the wrong place.  I’ll explain.   

      First, I want to recommend a book, Golf’s Sacred Journey  – by David Cook, PhD – Sports Psychologist.  It came out in 2006 and has since been made into a movie starring Robert Duvall - the movie’s title was changed to, “Seven Days In Utopia”.  The book and movie are about golf, yes; but oh so much more.  It uses golf as a springboard to teaching about life principles – Christian principles.  These are woven into the plot all throughout.  I recommend it strongly.  You’ll be glad you read the book or saw the movie. 

      How many of you play golf – or have attempted to play golf in the past?  Or are you like one of my daughters who thinks golf is as exciting as “watching grass grow”.  But anyway, you all know what the game is.  I’m here to tell you that it’s the most difficult game in the world!  “Now, wait a minute Frank, no way!”  “All you have to do is hit a stationary ball and get it into a hole.”  My answer to that is, “Try it.”  The variables are infinite – like they are in life. But more about that later. 

      You may still be thinking, “That’s fine, but how does this relate to me?”  I’ll list a few of the areas presented in the book and how they relate to a living a Christian life:

·         Learning:  We should be constantly learning!  Never stop.  Age is not a factor in this. 

·         Teaching:  We as Christians should always be looking to teach others – by word and example and more.  The book depicts Robert Duvall as the teacher or mentor [a golf guru] for his younger pupil.  Certainly we adult Christians should look to become teachers and mentors [a guru, if you will] for those with whom we have influence – those younger, the same age, or older.

·         Mistakes:  Golf played by the very best [or worst] is a game of mistakes [bad shots, etc.] and overcoming them.  Now isn’t this an analogy of our very lives!?  - making mistakes or bad decisions and prayerfully, painstakingly, and actively overcoming them. Our Christian lives should be about forgiving, repentance, rebounding, recovery, resilience, perseverance, and more.  [These words and traits just roll off the keyboard but are so very difficult in our real lives.  Let us all pray regularly regarding our areas of weakness and enlist the help of other Christians.]

·         Consistency:  Every golfer [no matter what their level of play] would just love to play with consistency.  Our lives as Christians should also be ones of consistency – we should be viewed the same in the church building, our car, at home, at work, on the golf course, etc.  Are you?

·         Variables:  I mentioned this above.  Everyone reading this can quickly enumerate many variables in your lives in just the last month.  Golf basically has infinite variables [weather conditions, whether the ball is sitting up on the grass or down in the weeds, distance from the hole, hitting up hill or down hill, on and on – I won’t bore you anymore].  Golf and life are about overcoming variables – adjusting, having flexibility, not being stymied by unexpected events or changes, and then moving on with your very best.

·         Enjoy the journey:  Golf is a game.  Enjoy it!  Enjoy being in God’s wonderful creation, being with friends, etc.  Look beyond your mistakes and bad shots.  Life is not a game of course, but the other principles hold true.  Pray for the qualities mentioned; pray to remain positive – to be a mentor – to finish well.



·         Hebrews 13:8  -  Jesus showed CONSISTENCY – He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

·         I Cor. 9:22 – Paul showed FLEXIBILITY – He became all things to all men……

·         Hebrews 5:12 -  We are told we should be TEACHERS

·         Romans 2:7; James 1:12 – PERSEVERANCE.  There are many scriptures on “perseverance”; therefore, God knew of our human difficulty in sustaining, maintaining, persevering.  Pray to enlist God’s help in your life in order to persevere.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Imperfect Glorious Body by Chris Kirby

An Imperfect Glorious Body

This past Sunday was a special night for the Youthreach.  Each year on the first “Sunday Night Live” of August we take an evening and say farewell to the seniors who have been engaged in the youth ministry.  Let me just take a second and really brag on this year’s group!  Jordan, Zach, Anna, and Sharee have been true leaders in the youth ministry at Southeastern by setting examples for our group through multiple ways. They’ve taught classes, led small groups, invited friends, worked hard when we are serving, stepped up to greet visitors, written and performed songs, led singing, organized youth events, served as student interns, and challenged younger kids in the group to mature when they needed a “nudge” and encouraged those same teens when they’ve done well.  The list of what they’ve meant to our group could go on and can’t just be judged by what they did but who they are.  In fact, Sunday night I learned things that some of these teens have done that I wasn’t even aware as I listened to the teens share stories with each other.  It brought me joy to be reminded how this group has lived out their faith.

However, it was also a little bitter sweet.  After Zach and Jordan head off for college (Good luck Lipscomb and York, you don’t know what’s headed your way!), I will only have one student who was in the Teen Center when I started here 6 years ago.  And that’s just because Tim snuck in some as a 6th grader!  Wow, a complete turnover in our group.  In youth ministry it happens every 6-7 years, but it still hits you as a minister to have a new group.  Even without losing the whole group each year, it’s a crazy part of youth ministry to realize that each year our group will look just a little different as leaders that you’ve worked with and seen grow will be heading off to continue their growth as young Christians.  However, it is also a reminder of just how powerful, resourceful, and creative God is!  A few years ago someone told me they heard the youth ministry was really struggling and lots of people had left.  I scratched my head and asked them who they were talking about.  He proceeded to name the teens who had just graduated and acted as if we couldn’t possibly have recovered from those loses.  I said, “well, we are having more kids coming right now than any time last year.  And, we did lose some really good leaders, but others were stepping up to take on more responsibility.”  That conversation took place in September.  We went on to have one of the strongest years in ministry that I can remember in a long time.  New leaders stepped up.  New kids were introduced to the group.  I was able to remind this person that we shouldn’t underestimate what God can do with people.  Did we miss the individuals who had left?  Absolutely!  Were we going to sit around and sulk because we lost a group of leaders?  Absolutely not!  Why? Because God is bigger than any one individual or group of people!  So, we kept on going and proceeded to see God grow up some teens in a powerful way.

Part of being in the body of Christ is realizing that God wants to use all the parts to reveal His glory on earth and is looking for those who will jump on board and follow Him!  He sees the promise and ability in people before we do.  You remember that group of kids at the start of this writing?  In addition to the really good things they’ve done, there are some things they aren’t real proud of.  And they shouldn’t be.  Want an example?  Last year, Sharee was…  Just kidding!  But, it’s in our recognition of our need for God’s grace that we open ourselves up to be redeemed instruments in this wonderful organism called the church.  Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 sometime.  Think about the promises and challenges of that passage.  God sent Jesus so that we could have reconciliation with God despite our sin.  He also goes on to remind us that it’s not just in order to be saved and get to Heaven, but so that we could be part of the Kingdom’s work here.  While I see that process in youth ministry as a snapshot of just a few years for most of our teens, it is a life-long calling for us as God’s ambassadors.  Let us follow our calling to love God, grow in our faith, and bring His love to the world as a body of believers living redeemed lives!  Not because we are so good that God can’t do it without us, but because we are so thankful that he made us whole that we can’t help but share His message of Goodness! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pleasant? Kind? by Terry Gardner

Pleasant?  Kind?
By Terry Gardner
Self-examination is hard depressing work.  However, hard work is always essential to spiritual improvement.  Neither diet nor exercise are fun but the result is worth the effort.  James contrasts the effective hearer who is a doer of God’s Word with the man who looks into a mirror and immediately forgets what he saw.  This forgetful man’s hearing is worthless for it does not lead to a change in his life.  Change requires that I don’t just glace at a mirror but that I look “intently at the perfect law” … and that I “abide by it.”  (James 1:25).
Recently some staring intently into the perfect law led me to two questions.  Am I pleasant?  Am I kind?
Ten years ago my friend Robert Welch passed from this life into the next one.  He lived a long, full life serving as a gospel preacher.  At his funeral his son-in-law observed:
I thought in my first encounters with Bob, even before I was a Christian that he was pleasant.  I understand that that’s not considered a great virtue in the “dog-eat-dog” world of today, but I thought he was pleasant.  One of Solomon’s proverbs says, “Pleasant words are like a honey-comb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”  Usually when we read from Proverbs 16 we focus on pleasant words, but it occurred to me that if words show the heart then pleasant words come from a pleasant man.
With Bob, I thought that there was no particular edge to his words.  We have all known men and women both, who in conversation with them, you are always aware that there was some sort of competition going on and someone was trying to get an edge or keep an edge.  I never felt that way around him, there was no particular edge to his words, there was no particular warning that was necessary before going to see him, where someone had to say, “Watch out, he’s in one of his moods today.”  I never heard that said or felt it one time in the number of years that I knew him.  Quite simply … I just thought he was easy to be with and enjoyed it.
I am from a very competitive family of people who hate to lose.  As a kid my father once told me, “Son, show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”  I am also from a family of preachers who liked to debate and argue.  Sarcasm came naturally.  Am I pleasant?  Well I am better described as intense, focused, goal-oriented.  Pleasant … I don’t think that is generally what I see in looking into the mirror of God’s Word.  I can be pleasant but smart might better describe me.  This reminds me of Jimmy Stewart’s great movie, “Harvey” where as Elwood P. Dowd he said, Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' - she always called me Elwood - 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”
Peter tells us that we are to add “brotherly kindness” to our character as Christians.  Paul calls kindness a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22).  Dorcas is described as “abounding with deeds of kindness.”  (Acts 9:36).  Solomon, in describing wisdom, states, “the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Prov. 31:26).  Micah advises us that the Lord requires us to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.”  (Micah 6:8).
Generosity is not the same thing as kindness.  You can be generous and yet not be kind.  Kindness and humility walk hand in hand.  If my speech is arrogant or condescending it is not kind, even if I am right.  The goal of a Christian’s speech is to teach not win an argument.
Kindness in speech is a challenge.  Old habits die hard and are difficult to change.  That said, the only way to be pleasant and kind is to look intently into the Word of God, to count others as better than yourself and to do deeds of kindness.  This is what Jesus did and it is what I must do too if I’d be his disciple and servant.