Questions Lead to Answers

Nearly 30 years ago, I remember very clearly sitting in Mrs. Wilson’s 4th grade class when a classmate raised his hand to ask a question. The question he asked was one that most of the other kids already knew the answer to so when he asked that question several students in the room laughed out loud at him and his question.

My admirable teacher, Mrs. Wilson, took that moment to stop and teach us all a valuable lesson. She said “Don’t laugh at a question. There is no such thing as a dumb question. For questions lead to answers. If you don’t know something, then ask. That is how you learn.” I have never forgotten that moment and lesson = questions lead to answers!

In John chapter 3 we learn about a man named Nicodemus who comes to Jesus, rather secretly, seeking some answers. In this story, Nicodemus has lots of questions.

  • In 3:4 he asks Jesus “How can a man be born when he is old?”
  • In 3:4 he asks another question “Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
  • In 3:9 he asks Jesus “How can these things be?”

In this fascinating passage, Nicodemus hits Jesus with 3 questions. Jesus is answering his questions but it seems Nicodemus is not understanding. Jesus continues answering and teaching, but the gospel transitions on and we do not hear much more about Nicodemus.

In 7:50 there is another mention of Nicodemus, and ironically, he is asking a question there too. Then we don’t hear anymore about Nicodemus until the end of John.

In John 19:39, the ending of John’s gospel,  we find Joseph of Arimathea taking the dead body of Jesus after the cross to give him a honorable burial. And with a striking surprise Nicodemus is the one who is there to assist Joseph take care of the body of Jesus in preparation for burial. Wow!

The Pharisee of John chapter 3 who comes to Jesus with lots of questions looks like a disciple in John chapter 19 who now has some answers.

His questions were about getting right with God and having eternal life. The answers to those questions are found in Jesus and his death on the cross.

If we are looking for answers, lets be sure to ask questions. Questions Lead to Answers!

Finding comfort

Coming out of the holidays is always tough for me. I feel tired, I feel emotional, I feel distracted. This year is especially tough because of the cold. I’m so cold, I don’t feel like doing anything.

When I feel this way, I know the solution = I have to lean into God. I can’t allow myself to drift. I can’t allow myself to get wayward. I have to press on. I have to lean in. When I do, God will meet me there.

One of my heavy thoughts during this post-holidays/emotional season is about all the hurting people I know. There are a lot of burdened and hurting people these days.

So I was reminded of a phrase in 2 Corinthians 1. In verse 3, Paul describes God in this way “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

That is just what I needed to hear. That is life to my soul. That is fuel to my faith.

God is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. If you need mercy, you can find it in God. If you need comfort, you can find it in God.

The Fairdale Fair: 5 Reasons Why I Love It!

This weekend, September 7-9, is the Fairdale Fair for Fairdale, KY 40118.

This year’s fair is the 87th Annual Community Fair! The theme this year is: HOME SWEET HOME! Fairdale is located in the South End of Louisville, KY, and while most of the city and state don’t even know about the Fairdale Fair for those of us who live here it is quite a big deal.

I hear that there are some local residents who aren’t big fans of the Fairdale Fair, but in my experience over the last 14 years the large majority of Fairdale truly enjoys this special weekend!

Here are 5 Reasons Why I Love the Fairdale Fair:

  1. PEOPLE – The Fairdale Fair brings so many people to Fairdale! I am not sure if they are Fairdale residents just coming out to take part or if some outsiders come to Fairdale for the fair – either way, this weekend Fairdale will be crowded! There will be more people in Fairdale this weekend than any other time of the year.
  2. PARTY – The Fairdale Fair is supposed to be a fair, but in actuality it is more like a party.  In truthfulness, the Fairdale Fair is a big celebration! It is all of Fairdale coming together to celebrate our small town. It’s like a big party! A city-wide party with everyone included is pretty cool!
  3. PASSION – The Fairdale Fair is a big demonstration of how much people love their town. Fairdale people love Fairdale! Fairdale people are passionate about their town. I know that throughout the year this passion may come and go, but during the Annual Fairdale Fair weekend everyone shows their passion and love for Fairdale!
  4. PURPOSE – Each year when I am at the Fair, I am reminded of why God brought me here. Fairdale is a great place with a lot of great people. I am happy to live and work here. I am happy to have a purpose in Fairdale.
  5. POTENTIAL – This full weekend always reminds me of the great potential there is in Fairdale. Many businesses, schools, churches, organizations, groups, etc will all come out to contribute to making the Fair great. In this unity and common effort, it is easy to see that their is great potential. It is true – there is strength in numbers! The Fairdale Fair is a picture of all the potential numbers and strength for our town.

I am thankful the Fairdale Fair weekend is here. I look forward to the Parade at Noon on Saturday. And I look forward to taking my kids to ride the rides. Lord willing, it should be a fantastic weekend!

Swinging and Talking

 

Just the other day, my youngest daughter and I bonded while I pushed her on the swing. The weather was ideal. It wasn’t hot. There weren’t any bugs bothering us. We just stayed in the backyard swinging for about an hour. I pushed her, and she was swinging.

As I pushed her on the swing, she was smiling and laughing. As she was cutting-up, I was talking to her.

This is how it went:

-“Lili, it feels nice outside, doesn’t it?”

-“Do you like swinging?”

-“Lili, you know, I love you! I am so happy to be your daddy!”

(To all of this, she is just laughing and not really saying anything)

-“You know, God gave you to me. I don’t know why He let me be your daddy, but I am so glad He did. I love you so much!” “Your mom and I love you a lot!”

-“Lili, you know what else? Jesus loves you too. He loves you a lot. He loves both of us. He loves our family. He forgives us of our sins. He will forgive us of all our sins.”

-“And Lili, I want my love for you as your daddy to show you how much God loves you.”

It was truly a special moment for the two of us. We were both so happy. We were both smiling and laughing a lot. We bonded that day in that moment!

I told the full story at the close of my sermon on Sunday. You can listen to it here. (The whole sermon is 43 minutes. But you can here this story beginning at the 39:45 mark.)

5 Simple Ways to Pray with Your Family

Two of my biggest desires in life are to be a praying man and a family man.

I want to pray more because I know that I am completely dependent upon God. I want to be a family man because I know that God has given me my wife and children. I want to lead my wife and kids to know the Lord!

I enjoy praying with my children, and my children have grown to enjoy that I pray regularly with them. With that said, I sometimes fail at being a family man and praying man. I know that God is patient with me to give me endurance and encouragement to keep striving to be a faithful man. Over the years, I have found these 5 Simple Ways to Pray more often with my family:

  1. Before School
    I have the great opportunity to take my sons to school each morning. Each morning as we approach the school, we turn the radio off and I pray for them. I pray about all kinds of things: schoolwork, classmates, teachers, safety, athletics, projects, new students, friends, field trips, etc.  This routine has become such a key piece to our mornings together. Beginning your day by seeking the Lord is wise.
  2. Big Events
    As the kids grow, life gets more and more full. This season of life and parenting is so much fun. It seems we are always headed to some special event. We have been to spelling bees, speech meets, ball games, tryouts, tournaments, programs, dance recitals, services, etc. Before we hop out of the car, I like to stop my family or child and pray with them – Asking God to lead us and use us. Often times we are walking into the event, and I pray as we walk with my arm around their shoulder.
  3. Before Meals
    This is a common prayer time for many people, but I want to remind us that it is still meaningful. Praying before your meal should not be neglected. Whether at home or out at a restaurant, we pause to pray and thank God for the food. We pray for the food wherever we are – in a gas station, at a park for a picnic, in the school cafeteria, in the car for a drive-thru, etc. If God has provided the meal, we want to Thank Him.
  4. At Bedtime
    Life is busy and fast-paced, and there are many nights when the kids are getting into bed too late. Honestly, there are many nights where I carry them to bed because they have already fallen asleep. However, as often as I am able, I love to pray with them before they go to sleep. Nearly every night, I will talk to them and then turn out the lights. Then I pray with them. Before bedtime is also one of the best times to teach them to pray and to lead them in prayers of their own. Ending your day by seeking the Lord with Thankfulness is special.
  5. In the Car
    We pray in the car all the time! On the way to an event; beginning a road-trip; ending a road-trip; thanking God for food; passing a bad accident; etc. When life is busy, there are not many times when we are together with peace and quiet. In the car is an excellent time to settle down and re-group. The car rides together have become a joy to our family.

The Importance of Young People

We cannot overstate the importance of young people!

JJ party

We need to invest in the younger generation, and I am leading our church in this effort.

Take a moment to think on these few verses. Notice the difference!

Psalm 71:18 “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God,  do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

Exodus 13:8 “You shall tell your son on that day ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me.'”

Judges 2:10 “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.”

Yesterday, April 2, 2017, I preached a message from Mark 10 on “The Importance of Young People.” You can listen to that message here.

In this message, I talk about the priority of BRINGING kids to Jesus; the problem with NOT BRINGING kids to Jesus and Jesus therefore REBUKING us; and the reward of kids BELONGING to Jesus. There is nothing more important than teaching young people about God!

In this message, I also mentioned a similar sermon that I preached a couple years ago. That message was from 2 Timothy 2:2 and  called “Why all the emphasis on Young People?” You can listen to that message here.

In this message, I talk about the REACH, the REALITY, the RISK and the REWARD of investing in Young People.

I hope and pray that you will listen to these messages and that God will move you to invest in the next generation!

 

That’s Shameful!

“You should be ashamed of yourself!”

Im sure we have all heard someone make that statement!

What actually is shameful? What type of thinking or living is shameful?

In Romans 10:11 God’s word says “For everyone who believes in Him (Jesus) will not be put to shame.”

So it is shameful to not believe in Jesus Christ.

It is shameful because life is about God, and until we are wanting to be forgiven of our sins because we know that our sins are against God then we do not love God sincerely. Through Jesus we can be forgiven of our sins. To not believe in Jesus is shameful because it ultimately is saying that we don’t want to love God sincerely.

But it goes much deeper than just this one verse. Follow along.

So we started with that expression in Romans 10:11. But Paul had already stated that in Romans 9:33 “Behold I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

And in Romans 9:33 Paul is actually quoting from two places: 1 Peter 2:4-7 and Isaiah 28:16. And then those verses also have come from Psalm 118:22.

Once you see that Paul in Romans, Peter in 1 Peter, Isaiah in Isaiah, and the Psalmist of Psalm 118 all play a part in this powerful statement on Shame and Faith in Christ, you can then begin to understand the seriousness of it.

We need God’s forgiveness. It is shameful to not seek it through Jesus!

If you want to study this a bit further, look at Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10,11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11 and Ephesians 2:20. All five of those passages are quoting the Bible passages I mentioned earlier. Jesus is the Cornerstone. Jesus is the answer. There is no salvation without forgiveness. There is no forgiveness apart from faith in Christ!

Lets make sure we understand what is shameful! Don’t be Ashamed!

when you pray?

Often times there are some common habits or characteristics among admirable people. Some are early-risers, some are committed to exercise, some are high-energy, some are serious readers, some are caffeine dependent, some are introverts, some are extraverts and so on and so on. I find it fascinating to look into the lives and practices of people that I look up to.

There is no one I admire and adore more than Jesus Christ. He is the most complete man. He is the most worthy man of any and all emulation. In short, Jesus is the one we all should be like. Jesus is the standard. With that said, we should look to Jesus and his way of life. We should want to know what He was like.

Recently I was looking into just how often Jesus prayed. Wow! I knew he prayed. I knew he was faithfully committed to prayer. And I knew he prayed often. But I was totally taken back by just how much Jesus prayed. He prayed all the time. He prayed about everything.

As I look to Jesus’s life as an example to follow, I am convicted and encouraged to be more committed to prayer. I want to pray like Jesus. I want to be a praying man.

I want to be a praying husband. I want to be a praying father. I want to be a praying pastor. I want my church people to know that I am praying for them. I want them to be sure of that!

In Matthew 6:5, Jesus says “And when you pray …”

Jesus teaches us to pray, asks us to pray, commands us to pray, and even expects us to pray.

Not only do I want to be like Jesus, but I really want to be what Jesus wants me to be.

Again, I want to be a praying man. And that desire for myself is the same desire that I have for our church.

Let me, along with God’s word, encourage you to begin praying!

Andrew Peterson’s song “Family Man”

The older I get and the more committed to parenting that I have become, the more this song means to me. I am not sure if you know this song, but I thank God so much for all that He is teaching me about Himself, myself and family.