Am I good enough for God?

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8

I take great comfort in the story of David.  David had his successes, but he also had some big failures.  Most importantly, however, he had a relationship with God.

In Acts it states that David was a man after God's own heart and that he served the purpose of God in his generation.

Could someone like you or me be good enough to serve God's purpose in this generation?  Taking the example of David, we see that God doesn't require perfection.  Our Creator understands we are human and we are going to make mistakes .  While God didn't grant all of David's wishes, and David had to pay a price for some of his poor decisions, God showed incredible patience and love with him.  In the big picture, God focused on David's victories, not his defeats, and I believe He does the same with us.

Jim Minton

Ephesians 6:7-8

A devotional I wrote for my church, St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Decatur IL.

Ephesians 6: 7-8   Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

In a speech to striking sanitation workers, Martin Luther King said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.”

In Chapter 33 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren discusses how the world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige and position.  If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived.  In our self-serving culture with its “me first” mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.  Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood.

Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status.  God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.  

Today, you often hear people complain that there are no good factory jobs any more.  Unfortunately, many of the jobs in the U.S. now are service jobs, and that doesn’t seem to interest many.  If you take a job and do it well, hopefully people will eventually notice, and you will get paid the wage you deserve.  But even if you don’t receive a worldly reward,  you will know that God is pleased with your effort, which is the ultimate goal.

Ephesians 5:1

A devotional I wrote for my church, St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Decatur IL.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.    Ephesians 5:1

What makes God smile?

Have you seen the movie Evan Almighty?  It’s a modern day story of Noah in which Evan, a newly elected Congressman, prays that he wants to change the world.  God answers his prayer, but not in the way Evan expects: he is instructed to build an ark.  Of course, people laugh at him - until the dam breaks and floods out the valley they live in.  Everyone is saved because Evan listened to God and, in the process, defeated evil Congressman Chuck Long (a character who appears to have captured all the earthly rewards).  

Morgan Freeman does a great job playing God, and the movie is a good example of how I believe our relationship with God goes.  We ask for things, and God grants many of those requests, but not always in the way we expect.  The happy ending of the movie has God telling Evan the way to change the world is by doing one “Act of Random Kindness” (ARK).    

Does your life make God smile?  Genesis 6:8 says, “Noah found favor with God.”  Watch the movie; it might give you some ideas on how to be like Noah.

Ephesians 2:1-10

A devotional I wrote for my church, St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Decatur IL.

Everyone likes to be a winner.  In kids’ video games, the goal is to advance to the next level.  Do we realize how easy it is to advance to the next level in the game of life?  All we have to do is accept the free gift that God gives us.

One of the big turning points in my life came from the phrase, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”  Up to that point, I always questioned if I was good enough to be a Christian.  I know how selfish I can be.  I know the stupid decisions I have made in the past and continue to make.  How can I be a Christian?  But this phrase made me realize it’s not about me and what I’ve done.  It’s about Christ and what He did.

In Rick Warren’s book The Purpose of Christmas, he points out that Jesus didn’t come to rub it in, but to rub it out.  So many people view God as this “ready to strike you dead” type.  In reality, He is the exact opposite.  No matter what your addiction, no matter what pain you have caused or feel, He is always ready to accept you back with open arms, if you will just turn and run to Him.

With that being said, I think life is easier if you get an education and learn a trade.  Life is easier if you learn good habits, as opposed to bad.  Life is easier if you don’t give in to all of the temptations of this world.  Life is easier if you don’t see yourself as a victim.  Life is easier if you learn to serve, rather than expect people to serve you.  Life is easier if we live out the Bible’s concept of family.

I wish I could live up to the phrase that says the richest man is not the one that has the most, but the one that needs the least.  While we struggle with all these things, we don’t have to struggle with the most important thing in being a Christian.  God’s gift of grace is right there waiting for us to accept it.  It’s easy to be a winner.

Serve rather than deserve - my favorite bible study.

Out of the sun, packed in a diamond formation and flying as one that day, the Minute Men dove at nearly the speed of sound toward a tiny emerald patch on Ohio's unwrinkled crazy quilt below.  It was a little after nine on the morning of June 7, 1958, and the destination of the Air National Guard's jet precision team was the famed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just outside of Dayton.

On the ground, thousands of faces looked upward as Colonial Walt Williams, leader of the Denver-based Sabrejet team, gauged a high-speed pullout. For the Minute Men pilots -- Colonel Williams, Captain Bob Cherry, Lieutenant Bob Odle, Captain John Ferrier, and Major Win Coomer -- the maneuver was routine, for they had given their show hundreds of times before millions of people.

Low across the fresh, green grass the jet stream streaked, far ahead of the noise of the planes' own screaming engines.  Judging his pull-up, Colonial Williams pressed the microphone button on top of his throttle: "Smoke on -- now!" The diamond of planes pulled straight up into the turquoise sky, a bush tail of white smoke floating out behind.  The crowd gasped as the four ships suddenly split apart, rolling to the four points of the compass and leaving a beautiful, smoky flower design on the heavens.  This was the Minute Men's famed "flower burst" maneuver.  For a minute the crowd relaxed, gazing at the tranquil beauty of the huge, white flower that had grown from the lush Ohio grasslands to fill the great bowl of sky.

Out on the end of his stem of the flower, Colonel Williams turned his Sabre hard, cut off the smoke trail, and dropped the nose of his F86 to pick up speed for the low-altitude crossover maneuver.  Then, glancing back over his shoulder, he froze in terror.  Far across the sky to the east, John Ferrier's plane was rolling.  He was in trouble.  And his plane was headed right for the small town of Fairborn, on the edge of Patterson Field.  In a moment, the lovely morning had turned to horror.  Everyone saw; everyone understood.  One of the planes was out of control.

Steering his jet in the direction of the crippled plane to race after it, Williams radioed urgently, "Bail out, Johnny! Bail out!"

Each time, Williams was answered only by a blip of smoke.

He understood immediately.  John Ferrier couldn't reach the mike button on the throttle because both hands were tugging on a control stick locked in a full-throw right.  But the smoke button was on the stick, so he was answering the only way he could -- squeezing it to tell Walt he thought he could keep his plane under enough control to avoid crashing into the houses of Fairborn.

Suddenly, a terrible explosion shook the earth.  Then came a haunting silence.  Walt Williams continued to call through the radio, "Johnny? Are you there? Captain, answer me!"

No response.

Major Win Coomer, who had flown with Ferrier for years, both in the Air National Guard and with United Airlines, and who had served a combat tour with him in Korea, was the first Minute Man to land.  He raced to the crash scene, hoping to find his friend alive.

Instead, he found a neighborhood in shock from the awful thing that had happened.  Captain John T. Ferrier's Sabrejet had hit the ground midway between four houses, in a backyard garden.  It was the only place he could've crashed without killing people.  The explosion had knocked a woman and several children to the ground, but no one had been hurt, with the exception of Johnny Ferrier.  He had been killed instantly.

A steady stream of people began coming to Coomer as he stood in his flying suit beside the smoking, gaping hole in the ground where his best friend had just died.

"A bunch of us were standing together, watching the show" an elderly man with tears in his eyes told Coomer.  "When the pilot started to roll, he was headed straight for us.  For a second, we looked right at each other. The he pulled up right over us and put it in there."

In deep humility, the old man whispered, "This man died for us."

A few days after this tragic accident, John Ferrier's wife, Tulle, found a worn card in his billfold.  On it were the words "I'm Third."  That simple phrase exemplified the life -- and death -- of this courageous man.  For him, God came first, others second, and himself third.

True to his philosophy, John Ferrier sacrificed his life for the people he had never met.  If you ever found yourself in a similar situation, would you do the same? In the coming weeks we're going to ask how one develops the attitude of a servant.


For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. - Galatians 5:17

That sinful nature we talked about yesterday often rears its head in the form of the thought I deserve more.  It leads us to demand the best deal, the lion's share, the most credit, and the finest everything.  From earliest childhood, as we have seen, our impulse is to focus on ourselves and to disregard the needs of others.

And, yes, this "I-deserve-it" attitude can permeate marriages.  Resentment can build over who works the hardest, who spends more than his or her share of the money, and who is not doing enough to serve the other.  Anger then erupts over insignificant irritants that bubble up from the cauldron of emotions.  Many fights in marriage begin with the belief that we're being cheated in the relationship.

Beware of this trap.  The minute we begin thinking that we are entitled to more, we've started down the slippery road to selfishness.  It can devastate a relationship.

John Ferrier didn't deserve to die in an Ohio neighborhood -- but when crisis came, he chose to sacrifice for others.  Jesus didn't deserve to be nailed to a wooden cross -- but out of love for the Father and for us, He allowed Himself to be crucified.  This kind of sacrificial love seeks to serve, not "deserve" -- and that changes everything!

-taken from Dr. Jim and Shirley Dobson's "Night Light" book.

How Real (Christians) Servants Act

"Whoever wants to be great must become a servant." - Mark 10:43 (Msg)

You can tell what they are by what they do. - Matthew 7:16

We serve God by serving others.

The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position.  If you can demand service from others you've arrived.  In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.

Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status.  God determines your greatness by how many you serve, not how many people serve you.  This is so contrary to the world's idea of greatness that we have a hard time understanding it, much less practicing it.

Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood.  Everyone wants to lead; no one wants to be a servant.

"If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded." - Matthew 10:42