Monday, December 27, 2010

Penitent Knees

Today I confide again, hurting inside again
while knowing that I once again--

Have created this tragedy, asking how this has come of me--
that I still fall short in my sin?

So take all of my bumblings and infinite wanderings
and lose them in the vastness of your grace.

Take the prideful remains and the shame that just stains
and find them forgotten in your longsuffering love.

Today I'm made whole again, restored in my soul again
while your mercy falls heavy on me.

What moments ago was a tragedy now is a symphony
conquered on these penitent knees!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Next Thirty Years with Hints of the Previous

THIRTY! Really? Already!?! Are you serious!?! The calendar verifies what my heart is still questioning as I write this blog update. My good Lord in Heaven! I'm 30! I was 19 years old in June of 2000 when I heard a hit country song by Tim McGraw entitled My Next 30 Years. I remember first hearing that song on a county road between my home in Samson and Hwy 27 leading to Enterprise, AL.

As I heard it, for that first time, I thought in my mind that I still had over 10 years before I turned 30; yet, I pondered, as the song prompts, if there would be things that I would want to do differently when I turned 30. Well, today is the date. And the question still looms, "Do I want to do anything differently?" What changes do I wish to make? What adjustments? I mean, this is my life. This is my only shot at living. The only 30th birthday that I will ever have. My NEXT 30 years will find me turning 60 on the other side.

I've had the benefit of hearing many older, albeit wise, individuals give that same redundant warning that haunts the ever-aging and evades the young and indifferent, "Time flies." The truth of the matter, in honest reflection, is that time most definitely does fly by! Thank God for those words of wisdom, for they are true.

At my Senior Year Class Night event in May of 1999, This was the forecast concerning my future:

That 10 years from graduation, I would be driving down the interstate in my 1956 Jaguar Roadster convertible with my supermodel girlfriend. I would be living it up as a successful anesthesiologist.

Big dreams, huh? I mean, what 18 year old teenager could ever read that without saying, "Sweet!"

But, I'm not 18 anymore. Perspective has become a close friend that I once vaguely even knew. I read those words now and find them lacking--just small utterances. I read them now through the benefits of the experiences of my life. I look back now to that once "Sweet" statement and find it small indeed. That was dreaming small!

I may not be driving down the interstate in a Jaguar Roadster convertible. But, the Lord has blessed me with a beautiful Porsche convertible daughter named Ellie Kate and a fully loaded Toyota Tacoma 4x4 of a son named Emmett--with a new vehicle being custom built in the factory as I write (expecting a 3rd addition on Feb. 1, 2010)!

I do not have a supermodel girlfriend. That was a small dream as well!Instead, I have been blessed with a wife that I truly believe to be the most beautiful woman in the world! She is a wonderful mother! She is a wonderful wife! She is my best friend! I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night with a peace in my heart simply because she is in my life. Money cannot replace that. Antique cars cannot replace that. I am blessed. On May 8, 2003, a stunning brown-haired, brown-eyed beauty agreed to allow me to take her out on a date. Apparently, I made a good impression! ;)

And, I am not an anesthesiologist. I do, however, have the blessing of preaching to a wonderful congregation every Sunday morning! And, I hope my preaching has the exact opposite effect! ;)

In addition to these things, I have been blessed with a wonderful, godly family. Not perfect, but perfectly forgiven. Not perfect, but perfectly loved. I would not trade my family for anything! I often thank the Lord for each and everyone of them.

In reflection, I hope that my next 30 years are filled with hints of the previous 30--with hopes for growth in holiness, health, happiness, and the favor of the Lord.

So as that famous Tim McGraw song plays in the back of my mind and entertainings of what I would/will do differently are mulled over in my heart, I am content. I am grateful. I am satisfied.

Here is to hoping that the next 30 years are as good as the previous!

God bless!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Of Peace and Pillows

Ellie Kate turns four today! I've called her "Tooter Bug" ever since she was little. I'm not sure I'll be able to call her that much longer--before she starts objecting. But, for some reason, that name just came to be; and, I love it! She means the world to me. And, her smile can definitely light up my day! She knows that her daddy loves her very much. I make it a priority that she always knows that to be true.

Several months ago, I walked by her room and looked in to check on her. I was absolutely captivated by her as she slept. This is what I wrote that night before I went to sleep.


The bedroom nightlight is cast tonight
softly on her cheek.

It is blessed to find this landing place,
as she is comfortably asleep.

With covers to her waist
and her dolls by her side,

I'm helpless as my heart skips beats
watching from the hall outside.

I wonder what she is dreaming
as she shares a midnight smile.

Is she far away in her dreams
playing princess for a while?

What a joy it is to have such peace!
What a blessing for daddy to know!

His little girl is far away in dream--
of peace and pillows.


Monday, August 23, 2010

This Son of Mine now Two of Years

This son of mine, now two of years,
has brought many laughs, smiles, and tears.

In my talks with God, I have often prayed
for strength, love, and truth as my son is reared.

Strength to say, "No," when it must be said
and to say, "Yes," when wisdom permits.

Love to hold him with caring arms
even when he screams and pitches fits.

Truth to guide him in right and wrong
and to point him in the way he should go.

To teach him consequence, good and bad,
and responsibility as he grows.

As I watch him delight in simple things
such as trucks, cars, and chase,

I understand that these are moments
even time cannot erase.

I often find myself in prayer for him--
that he would have health and many years.

Without a doubt, I'm proud to be the Father of my Champ--
this son of mine now two of years.

Happy Birthday Son!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

She Speaks

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard." (Psalm 19:1-3)

She speaks again today.
From above, I hear her silent voice.

It is loud and clear, far and near,
and in every language choice.

Listen as she speaks.
Be still. Look above.

She testifies of heavenly things
and of the Father's love.

Doubts subside when her voice is heard
and people turn to understand.

For how could all that is have come to be
without the Creator's hand?

She expands above the mountain tops
with intrigue for those who seek.

The works of God are thus proclaimed.
Each day and night she speaks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Pure Way

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
(Psalm 119:9)

Around me are distractions
that cloud my troubled mind.

From right to left, on every side,
so much corruption I can find.

As I go down this way,
my integrity is at stake.

I look into your perfect word--
for decisions I must make.

I'll keep this truth in mind,
as I walk along today.

I pray my mind your word will guide--
to keep my path on the pure way.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Roof Breakers (Mark 2:1-12)

Sickly does he lay today;
Yesterday was much the same.

His eyes roll back. His complexion pale.
His body weak and lame.

We've heard of a miracle man--
who heals the blind and sick.

He's in a house in town today;
but, the crowds around him are thick.

Yet, there are four of us who call him friend.
Four of us can share the load.

"A shoulder from each," said one of the four,
"All the way down the road."

Up the house onto the roof--
his life is now at stake.

This roof cannot detour us now.
This roof we must now break.

Down to Jesus we send our friend,
believing in our hearts.

For this is where the sickness ends
and where the healing starts!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hold Em' Close but Hold Em' Loosely: A Toy Story 3 Lesson on the Joy and Heartache of Parenting

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord...blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!" (Psalm 127:3a,5a)

My wife and I took our children to the movies tonight to watch Toy Story 3. It was a wonderful movie. Ellie Kate (my witty, beautiful 3 year old daughter) sat in my lap nearly the entire movie while Emmett (my blonde-haired, blue-eyed and very determined 1 year old son) sat next to us in Amy's lap. The Kilpatricks were together at the movies in full force--even our unborn child was present. I guess that means that Amy actually had 2 children in her lap at the same time! ;)
I was prepared to watch a great movie with the family. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the emotional, parental lessons that would present themselves during the movie. And as I held my daughter, watching the eager expectation in her eyes, the movie began. The opening scene was a doozy. Without spoiling the movie for those of you who have not watched it, I will simply mention that the opening scene is a flashback to Andy's youth. It sets the stage for the transitional theme of the movie: Children grow up.
Hold em' close.
Not even 5 minutes into the movie, I found myself holding Ellie Kate a bit tighter and doing my best to soak up these few short minutes of family movie watching. Occasionally, I'd glance over to look at my wife and son in the chair beside us. Emmett was loving the movie too. I could tell that Amy was probably thinking the same things.
Andy grows up. The entire movie hangs on the balance of the enormous life shift. Although Andy has gotten older, there is still just enough child in him to struggle with whether or not to hold on to some of his toys or give them away for good. In the end, Lord help me, Andy does the unthinkable. Without giving specifics, I'll simply say that he does indeed let go.
Off to college. Off to his own independence. The quiver is now empty. The parental bow was strung, tightened, and ready to shoot. Andy was taken out of the quiver and shot into the world. The Toy Story 3 release was made. And, it all revolved around the maturity of Andy.
The toys had played their part. They had been there for Andy from the time his imagination ran wild and his adventures with them were many until he cared very little to play with them at all. And it was in this part of the movie that I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach over a haunting, heartbreaking fact. Are you ready for this? Parenting, in many ways, is much like being the toy. As I held Ellie Kate in my arms, I realized that Amy and I were in the stage of parenting where the children are still fascinated to play with us and enjoy wild imagination adventures while the world was still larger than life. But as she gets older, things will change.
Hold em' loosely.
From the toy's perspective (and the parent's perspective as well) we can understand that there is a rich, heartwarming truth found even in this transitional tragedy. And this brings me to Psalm 127. Children are a heritage. They are a blessing. And the real blessing is found, get this, in the simple fact that we were given the opportunity to be there for them and guide them through their growth.
Of all the people in the world. Of all the toys. We were the ones blessed with this opportunity. The opportunity to be there. The opportunity to be held. The opportunity to be confided in. The opportunity to listen when no one else would. The opportunity to be a parent.
Hold em' close but Hold em' loosely. And love them every minute of their changing lives.
God bless.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Absolutely Relative: The Breakdown of Truth Bravado

"If you abide in my will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31b-32)

Post-modern thought (and beyond) has led to a historically unique understanding of truth. Truth has been redefined in our time to fit nicely with any and every alternative. This is the popularized version. Truth, simply put, is not understood as truth anymore. Truth is much more of an "and/or" than an "is" for an increasingly larger portion of Americans today. A book written over 16 years ago by Don E. Eberly recognizes that nearly 70 percent of Americans did not believe in an absolute truth. What does this mean? It means that an overwhelming majority of Americans (much higher today than the nearly 70 percent in the mid-90s) no longer understand truth as truth at all.

Truth, by its very definition, means its alternative(s) is false. If something is true, something else has to be false. If something is true, then, it has to be absolutely true by definition, doesn't it? What seems to be a no-brainer has become such a pool of confusion today. Relativism is in. Absolute truth is out. Since the reality of truth establishes a standard and a benchmark of right and wrong, post-modern culture has sought to remove all standards through the introduction of a relativism that no longer challenges falsities. R.C. Sproul magnifies this by explaining:

Relativism says this: “truth is what you perceive it to be, and what is true for
you may be false for somebody else.” In our present society, you’re
perfectly free to believe whatever you like, but the one thing you may not do is
to deny its antithesis. You can say, “I believe that this is true.”
But you cannot say with impunity that that which opposes it is false. We
have a whole generation of Christians who have been brainwashed by the spirit of
relativism so they’re completely hesitant to say, “I deny that error over
there.” We don’t have heresy trials anymore because, in relativism, there
is no such thing as heresy.
How should the church respond to this cultural shift away from absolute truth? Answer: Proclaim truth! Stand for what you believe. I have heard it said, "If you stand for everything, you are no longer standing for anything at all." How the church needs to rediscover the absolutely reliable truth of the Word of God! The absolutely reliable truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be upheld! The church needs to reclaim its bravado and truth fortitude!

Today's culture says that claiming an absolute truth is narrow minded and hateful. The Word of God says that the absolutely true Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16).

This creates a dilemma for the church in a culture of relativity. Are we willing to proclaim the absolute truth of the gospel, even if it means we are to be labeled as narrow minded and hateful? Or will the church lose all remaining bravado and surrender into a culturally acceptable institution of relativity? If the answer is the latter, the church will cease to be the church. In fact, it will become everything else but the church.

We live in a time in which the church must "cowboy up" and once again hold fast to the absolute truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church must abide in the Word of Christ. Only the truth of God in Christ Jesus is able to set the world free.

Do you believe this to be absolutely true?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Warning to the Self-Righteous

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 6:1)

Jesus begins Matthew 6 with a warning against the spiritual sin of self-righteous hypocrisy. Using the examples of those who may seek the praise of men (instead of the favor of God) through their public alms giving, praying, and fasting, Jesus gives us the sharp warning to, "Beware." Instead of devotion to God being the goal of their alms giving, praying, and fasting, they desire to be considered religious by their viewers for doing so. They wanted to be known as, what we may call today, as "Super-Christians".

The Greek word used here for "beware" is prosechete. It simply means to "be on guard". As I've studied this passage, I have come to understand that this is not simply an indictment against the Pharisees. It is a warning for all believers. All of us need to beware of this sin. We have to be on guard against the desire to be known as the "most spiritual Christian" in our church. We have to guard against the tendency to want to be known as the most liberal giver, the most powerful prayer, and/or the most committed to fasting. And in this warning, we are reminded of why we should ultimately do these things--to show devotion to the Lord!

We should strive to honor God in all of these things, understanding that we will be rewarded for our devotion and faithfulness to God. When our own selfish ambitions and motives muddy our clarity to the point that we begin doing things for our own recognition, we must hear the words of Christ. We must be reminded that there are no frequent flyer self-righteous awards in heaven. In fact, if we do these things for our own recognition (whether it is preaching a sermon, singing a special on Sunday morning, teaching a class, saying a blessing, etc.), we will not be rewarded by the Father.

The first will be last. The last will be first. God never sees what we do without also being able to see the motives behind our doings. Keep the right perspective. Be on guard against self-righteous hypocrisy.

Keep glorifying God. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He rewards those who earnestly, diligently seek Him.
And remember, there are no self-righteouss, Super-Christians in Heaven. There are only forgiven sinners that have been saved by the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

God bless.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Limited Atonement in Light of the Mission of Christ

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

There is great news about the purpose for which Jesus Christ was sent into the world: He came to seek and save what was lost. That is the stated mission of Jesus. Seek and save. These are two very important words that shed an incredible amount of light upon the mission of Christ; and, they shed much needed light, I believe, upon the measure for which salvation is extended to humanity.

Now right from the outset of this devotional, I must confess that I believe that God is omniscient in salvation. By this, I mean that God knows all who will ever be saved, even before there is a profession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So, from this perspective, I agree that although salvation has been extended to the whole world (John 3:16), many will reject Christ. And in God's omniscience, he knows from the beginning that there is a "limited" (narrow is the road and few find it) number of lost people who will be truly found, saved, and ultimately atoned for by the blood of Jesus. Some call this God's foreknowledge.

What I have problems with, then, is the school of limited atonement that says that God only intends to save a predetermined amount of people. Same coin. Different side. Although God would be completely just if He were not to save a single soul from sin (we've all sinned and fall short of His glory), I have great troubles reconciling the seek and save mission of Christ with this version of limited atonement. It is the seeking "what is lost" that brings this limited atonement into question. What is lost, after all, includes all of humanity, doesn't it?

This leads me to believe, yet again, that God's predestined and foreordained, adopted family are those that he, in his foreknowledge, knew would be the chosen. Many 5 pointers have problems with this statement. I find it difficult (right or wrong) to see it any other way, especially in light of the stated mission of Christ to seek and save what is lost.

So, here I stand. A 4 point Calvinist in search of a 5th (point that is) ;). I can do no other.

God bless! Please feel free to comment your feelings/thoughts.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Clothing of the Chosen

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." (Colossians 3:12)

Just as we often change the types of clothing we wear to fit a particular change of environment, atmosphere, or occasion, those whose lives have been forever changed by the goodness of God in Christ Jesus have been commanded to clothe themselves with the appropriate attire fitting to be God's chosen. The Greek word that is used here is endysasthe. It simply refers to the action of a person getting dressed. It is a daily wardrobe decision, so to speak.

This clothing, though, is not a fashion statement. Rather, it is a love statement. Paul would follow this list of options by saying, "And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (v. 14) Just as clothing choices can be made or ruined by the wrong choice of socks, shoes, belt, etc., the virtues will never be brought together perfectly without love.

Here are the implications:

1) The life of the believer should be evidently changed!

Compassion must replace coldness.
Kindness must replace cruelty.
Humility must replace haughtiness.
Gentleness must replace violence.
Patience must replace intolerance.

Some clothes just shouldn't fit anymore.


2) There is a higher occasion for which to live!

Because we have been chosen of God, we are given this command to change the way we "clothe ourselves". We are now ambassadors of our redeemer! Our "life clothing"should rightly reflect our new life in Christ Jesus.

As we approach different stages of our lives (i.e. grow older, gain weight/lose weight, change professions/jobs, etc.), we often alter our outward dress to match the circumstance. So it is with our lives in Christ!

Coldness. Cruelty. Haughtiness. Violence. Intolerance. Sounds like a wardrobe that could use a makeover, doesn't it? It just doesn't fit anymore. It is no longer appropriate, nor was it ever.

And, don't forget to put on love! No spiritual transformation or life change is complete without it; it holds everything else together!

Choose to wear the clothing of the chosen!

God bless.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Did He Live with Passion?

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

My wife and I have a Valentine's Day tradition that began 6 years ago in a small apartment in Louisville, KY--we watch the movie Serendipity together. This movie has it all. It has the mushy stuff that the lady folks really dig. It has the comedy and umph that men relate to. It develops the characters nicely and builds tension within the plot as the movie reaches its climactic ending. It is truly a great movie.
As with every movie that I've become especially fond of over the last several years, Serendipity meets a requirement that all of the others must possess as well. They each have at least one quotable line in them. A thought provoking quote.

To set up the quote, I must first explain its context. One of the friends in the movie is an obituary writer for the New York Times. As the series of events unfold in the movie, this friend turns to one of the main characters and explains to him that the Greeks did not write obituaries. They simply asked one question about the deceased (and this is where the quote comes in). They simply ask, "Did He live with passion?"

Jesus teaches us to love God with all that we are. Our entire heart! Our entire soul! Our entire mind! Our entire strength! We are commanded to live for God with passion!

Each year, on Valentine's Day, I am reminded of this. In my mind, I fast forward to my last day. What would the Greeks say of me? If no obituary were written of my life, how would my family, friends, and neighbors answer this question?

Was I passionate for my God? Was I passionate in my devotion and service to my family? Did I live a life that would inspire others? Or, did I simply exist through each day of my life as though I were simply waiting for my last?

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul teaches us that God has a good, pleasing, and perfect will for our lives! For each one of us! Jesus said that He had come that we would have life to the fullest!

When all is said and done, what will be said of you? Did you live with passion? If not, I hope this devotional has been timely for you. I hope that you will be encouraged, along with me, to be passionate about the will of God for your life--with ALL that you are! Live abundantly! Live passionately! Live to the glory of God!

God bless!