We Could All Use A Little More

I still consider myself a fairly young pastor.  I’ve been privileged to sit underneath the teaching of some great men, but more and more I realize that some lessons only come with time.  As I am privileged to pastor a wonderful group of believers known as the International Baptist Church at Dumaguete, I watch for people’s needs and there is one thing that keeps coming up again and again as something we could all use a little more of.  Patience.

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” – Hebrews 10:36

If these words were necessary for the believers in the Apostle Paul’s day, how much more are they relevant to this time when we are living at a much faster pace.  In this day of instant everything – instant coffee, instant messaging, instant cash at an ATM, etc., we’ve grown to expect that if something doesn’t happen quickly it is either an inconvenience to us, or not good at all.  Nothing is ever fast enough for us.  We need the newest computer processor because our computer is too slow.  We need the bigger engine so we can drive faster.  We need the microwave so we can warm things faster; and on and on and on.

The problem is that we take these conveniences of the modern world and we expect to see their speed also in our spiritual lives.  When we have a need, it’s not that we don’t pray, but because we don’t see an instant response to our prayer, we find another solution.  God just doesn’t move fast enough for us.  He doesn’t help us with our finances fast enough, so we make bad choices that will, in the end, compound our problems.  He doesn’t answer our prayer fast enough about the right job, so we start looking elsewhere for anything called a job.  He doesn’t answer our prayer fast enough about a mate, and so we impatiently begin making our own decisions ignoring their consequences.  Rather than with patience be obedient with our finances in tithes and offerings, we forsake our giving in search of the get-rich-quick schemes or the promises of fast or easy money.  If a situation is not corrected with a quick prayer, we start rearranging our lives – usually what is done in haste is not in faith.

It is good for us to learn to wait.  It is a sign that we have faith in God to wait on His timing, His answers, His solutions.  When we begin to take matters into our own hands, we’ve taken the matter out of God’s hands.

I’m reminded of the time that Samuel confronted King Saul over his assuming a responsibility that was not rightfully his.

And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;  Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.” – 1 Samuel 13:11-12

So often the test of our faith is the length of time we will remain faithful; it is tested in the amount of pressure we endure while remaining faithful.  Faith is proven over a period of time in the face of diverse difficulties.  Faith is not usually determined in a moment.  Faith is seen in our willingness to endure while we trust.  It is casting our care upon God, and not walking away with the worry or anxiety.  May we all learn to let patience haver her perfect work.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – James 1:4

So many people are hurting and doing without, unnecessarily, simply because of a lack of patience.  Simply because they didn’t believe God was doing something, when in truth, He was.  It is no wonder our modern churches are compromising when we don’t see the instant success, or fast enough growth.  We plant and water, but forget, God giveth the increase.  It would do all of us good to make sure that first, we are doing the will of God, and then secondly, keep doing the will of God, and then thirdly, keep doing the will of God, until we receive the promise – whenever God decides it is time.  We can trust Him!  Just be patient.

Meekness is not Weakness

The apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12 that one of the things we are to “put on” as the elect of God, born-again believers, is meekness.  Meekness is sometimes defined as humility, because it requires humility, but meekness is deciding not to use or show all of your strength.  It is keeping your strength under control. In fact, real meekness hides your strength so well that the perception by others could be that you are weak. 

The example God gives of the man who was “very meek,” even more so than any other man on earth at the time, was Moses. One could hardly call Moses weak. He had strength. He killed a man, faced Pharaoh, led the Israelites out of bondage, across the desert and through the Red Sea.   He had gone up in the mountain while others at the foot of the mountain stood in fear.   But God said of Moses that he was “very meek.”

In the same chapter where God points out his meekness, nothing more is said of it, and no definition is given. Yet those words are there for a purpose and if we examine what took place, we can see that to Moses’s sister, Miriam, and his brother, Aaron, Moses must have appeared weak; so weak that they were emboldened and not afraid to speak against him as God’s servant. 

Meekness is not weakness. But it can appear to others that way. Jesus called Himself meek. 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” – Matthew 11:29

Who of us would call Jesus weak?  But there were those who thought He was weak because He did not show His power when most men would believe it necessary to show their strength.  He allowed Himself to be arrested. He did not answer His accusers, He allowed the mock trial to proceed, and allowed Pilate to think himself in charge by not challenging his power.   As they stood around the cross, they mockingly called to Jesus to save Himself. He could have, but He did not use His power or strength for Himself. He restrained His power for our sakes. 

We need to put on meekness even though those around us may feel emboldened because they perceive in us a weakness.  Meekness is a thing of beauty to God; as it is in a woman to a man. 

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” – 1 Peter 3:4

In a world where boys are being feminized, or at the other end manliness is associated with macho. May the Christian man find himself the gentleman. The man who has strength and knows when and where to properly use that strength; in the service of others and not for self preservation or self promotion. 

Put on meekness. 

Thankful for Consistancy

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” – Psalm 30:4-5

The holiness of God describes many wonderful things about Him; one of things it describes is His consistancy. God is impartial  in many regards. He is not a respector of persons, meaning, He is “just” in His judgments. In fact, judgment will start at His own house (with His own children) lest He be accused of giving his own children a pass for wrong in what He judges others for. 

However, even in judgment, we have reason to be thankful for another aspect of His holiness — (His consistancy); His anger doesn’t last forever. 

Our God is predictable because He is faithful to be the same, yesterday, today, forever. We do not have a God Who has mood swings and irratic behavior. How comforting to know that His mercy endureth forever. 

For the Lord will not cast off for ever:” – Lamentations 3:31

Our God does not hold a grudge; He deals with the problem, forgives, and moves forward without bringing it up again. We have a lot to be thankful for and at the top of that list is that our God is holy. He is completely perfect and does not change. His consistency means that whatever He’s allowing us to endure at the moment is for a moment. Joy is in our future. Juts another reason to be thankful!

When It’s Not About Others

The longer I live in this world and walk with the Lord, the stranger this world seems, and hopefully, the stranger I seem to this world. That is not a problem, that is by design – God’s design. 

This world is in constant reaction mode — responding to crisis after crisis. Politicians feel the need to respond to the latest media fed frenzy, and have press conferences and meetings in response to the issues of the day. 

There is a lot of talk of inclusiveness. From the world, it is the idea of globalization and the global community. For years we’ve heard terms like “one-world government” and “gobal partnership.”

In our churches, it takes a slightly different look or speech, but still, it is an attempt to erase, as much as possible, the boundaries that separate us so that there is less difference between us and the world we live in. 

These thoughts were somewhat prompted by listening to a recent, news-making press conference given by the newly elected president of the Philippines. I will not get into the politics of the nation, but something that seemed appalling to the media and many other “globalists” were his comments about how that if the United Nations did not like what he was doing, they (the Philippines) could just leave the U.N..   (Many of us have wished we had a president and congress in America bold enough to lead us to do that very thing.)

Here, however, seems to be the thinking of this nations’ new president, “The Filipino first.”

May I say, though I may not understand all of the politics here and would not want to advise on political matters, I do believe this man understands that he is elected to be the president of “the Philippines.”  Filipinos elected him and he is to serve the interests of the Philippines. 

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

Certainly, we want to get along with those around us. Certainly, we want to help those around us who are in need. Certainly, we want to be good neighbors and lend support where it is needed. Certainly, we want to be friendly and have and be an ally. But, those are secondary to meeting the needs of our own. 

Some may call it selfish to care for your own and not help someone else – I call it being responsible. God made me the husband of my wife. God made me the father of my children. God made me the pastor of International Baptist Church. 

None of that prohibits me from helping those outside of my family or church; in fact we are also instructed to love our neighbor. Yet, my first responsibility and responsibility above helping my neighbor, is meeting the needs of my own. My family, and then your family. My church, and then your church. 

If our faith does not bind us together so that we see ourselves as one body (family or church), then others do not see our faith as relevant.  If those who faithfully sit at our table are not being helped by those who sit at the same table – yet we help those who never show up at the table – we may think we are leading people to our faith — but the truth is, we’ve denied the faith. 

God takes care of His own. They are peculiar to Him. A people above all people – a people unto Himself. We must care for our own before we care for those who are not.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other – we can do both and wisdom dictates where we’ve done enough for our own so that we can and should begin helping or working with others. 

We are to have and give identity. Meaning, it should mean something to be added to the church.  Being an active church member does not mean the church owes you anything, but it should mean something.  Being a part of a family should mean something. People need to be part of something that is defined – distinct.  Let’s not lose our identity, otherwise, where do people go when they need something different than what they have?  When what they are doing is not working?  Let them see that we take care of our own. Let them see that our faith is real and binds us together. Let them see that our faith works, as God supplies our needs. 

We can’t help everybody, but let us start by taking care of our own. 


I just did one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve had to do in my life. I dropped my oldest child off at the airport to head off to college; not just a state away, but half-way around the world.  We won’t see her for Thanksgiving or Christmas as so many other parents will see their college-bound children. Maybe we will see her when summer comes around. Why is it so hard to say, “goodbye?”

I’m happy for our little girl who has grown up to be a good and godly young lady. Her smile and the twinkle in her eye still capture her daddy’s heart as much now as they did when she was a little baby in my arms.  

I remember well, a conversation I had with the Lord the day she was born.  I recall speaking to God about this “new love” I was feeling in my heart that I had never known. I felt a little closer to God, understanding now – the heart of a father. Again, I feel that I’ve entered deeper into His fellowship, learning what it is like to be separated from someone you love while they go to do His will. 

Things in life are not permanent. Even our offspring must spring off to begin lives apart from mom and dad, just as we did many years before. I suppose letting go of anything is hard, but some things just have more of an attachment than others. Some hurt more when they are taken from your hand. 

Goodbyes are not easy, in fact, they keep becoming more difficult. Comfort is found in that this is not a goodbye to send her off to the unknown; she is in good hands – God’s hands.  We realize that the next joy we’ve not yet experienced would evade us if we did not first go through this sorrow. 

We now look forward to, with anticipation, what God will do with her life. I suppose that God, with anticipation, looks forward to what He knows He is making of our lives. Let us not disappoint Him. 

Punishment with Promises

There is nothing more the devil would like to do than convince us that punishment is hatred and that chastening is permanent. His goal is always to separate us from our God. He tempts us with sin, understanding that our flesh is weak; knowing that sin will separate us from God. When God’s chastisement comes because of sin, he then would convince us that God is against us and cruel and unfair. “I mean, what does He expect? We’re only human.” Again, his attempt to drive a wedge between God and man. 

Yet, when we are the children of God, we need not fall into this trap if we know God’s Word and take God at His Word instead of listening to the lies of Satan. 

Consider the nation of Israel in the days of Jeremiah the prophet. Judah was in trouble. She had not learned the lessons from her sister to the north and was following in the same footsteps of sin. God sent the prophets to warn them to turn and return to God, but they refused.  Chastisement comes to the people of God, from God. However, with God’s punishment also comes God’s promises:

“For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.

For thus saith the LORD, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.

There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines.

All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.

Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.” – Jeremiah 30:11-15

The punishment was just; they  deserved to have God chastise them. In fact, God basically told them to stop crying about others afflicting them, He sent it and wasn’t going to do anything about it – like a parent who takes Solomon’s wisdom:

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” – Proverbs 19:18

However, with the punishment there is a promise, and therefore hope.  The chastisement isn’t the end of the relationship, it is the salvation of the relationship. 

“For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.

And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.” – Jeremiah 30:17-19

“And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” – Jeremiah 30:22

May God be our example when we are called upon to chastise – and we are. Always give the promise of a future that’s better after the punishment has ended. Make it known there will be an end, and the relationship restored. 

My Children Are Not Perfect

Many are familiar with the story of Job, a man whom God recognized above others. A man whom God trusted enough to allowed Satan to hurt him that He might prove that Job did not serve God only for the good that God did for him.  We’ve heard of the patience of Job while his “friends” took potshots at him. 

But in the beginning of the book of Job we see Job, the father.

“And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” – Job 1:5

Job prayed for his children.  Job sacrificed for his children. Not the type of sacrifices that we often think of making for our children, but sacrifices to God to intercede for any sins they may have committed.  

I see some things about Job concerning his children that I believe would be good for every father (or parent) to understand:

1. Job realized that his children were not perfect.

Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned.”  How refreshing to hear a parent who can readily admit that their children may have done wrong.  I know every parent wants to believe the best about his or her child, but some seem to truly believe that their child is incapable of doing wrong. 

The best of men are men at best, and the best of children still have some foolishness bound in their hearts.  Job accepted that he could not know everything about his children; and as parents we should not be fooled into thinking our children might not have a secret life we are unaware of.  Walk guard around your children, but pray a hedge about them as well. 

When our children are accused of wrong, may we not immediately jump to their defense without considering that it could be true that our child may have sinned. It doesn’t make you a bad parent that your child is a sinner, remember, “for all have sinned.”  

2. Job did not ignore his children’s sin.

To realize our children are not perfect is not to throw our arms into the air and give up on trying to make them do right.  It does not mean that we excuse their sin either.  We have too many people excusing themselves of wrong with that old adage, “nobody’s perfect” or “humans make mistakes.”

I have no reason to doubt that Job was a father who taught his children to do right, and the difference between right and wrong.  I believe he insisted on their adherence to right.  I don’t believe for a moment that Job excused his children’s sin.

But Job took it a step farther.  He understood that the ultimate judge of sin is God, and Job did what he could to intercede on behalf of his children to stay God’s hand of judgment in their lives.  Sin was real to Job.  Sin was really bad to Job, and thus he saw the need to come continually to God to make sure his sin, and the sins of his children were confessed and dealt with before God.

3. Job was concerned about his children’s relationship with God. 

Job’s concern for his children was that in their hearts that they had not cursed God.  He understood that the real issue is a heart issue. We can make our children do all of the right things, and we should, but if in their heart they are against God, against His Word, against His will, they may eventually rebel when they realize they can no longer be forced to conform. 

Many a good child on the exterior is a rebel in the interior.  The appeal of Solomon is what I believe to be God’s appeal to us, “Son, give me thine heart.”  I want my children to give their hearts to God, so that He becomes the reason they do what they do. 

I want to walk right, so that I do not become the reason they may curse God in their hearts; but if they do, I still want to intercede on their behalf.  I want God to have their hearts. Parents, are you turning their hearts toward God?  Do they see that God has your heart?  Or, are you imparting to your children a heartless Christianity?  

4. Job believed his children would turn out, but didn’t take it for granted. 

It takes work to raise children for the Lord. We hope, we pray, we sacrifice, we spend, we educate, we do all of the things we believe are necessary to raise them properly.  But we should not for a moment believe that there isn’t a chance for them to go astray. 

At this stage, I believe all of our children are headed the right direction, but I will not allow myself to believe that they are immune from sin, or that it’s a done deal.  I still want to take every opportunity to teach  and to train. But above all, I want to take every opportunity to bring their names before God, to seek His forgiveness and mercy for where they may have sinned, to petition His grace in their daily lives, to ask that He grant them wisdom and understanding as life begins to peel back the scales from their eyes and they are met by a cruel and sinful world that they’ve been largely shielded from. 

I want to believe they will do God’s will, but I will not stop praying that they do.  Job’s children were already grown and married with houses of their own while Job offered these sacrifices for them. Let’s not wait until they are out of the nest before we show this concern for them. 

My children are not perfect – so I am not done being a parent.