1

THE MONSTER IS DEAD

Today, I share one of my daddy’s writings.
It is an excerpt from an April 1998 sermon. coffin

Let me share with you a story I recently read in one of the history books in my library. It was about a man named William Knibbs and how on July 3l, 1838, on the Island of Jamaica, he gathered 10,000 slaves for a great praise gathering. They were celebrating the New Emancipation Proclamation Act that would abolish slavery on the island.

They had built an immense coffin and into it were placed whips, branding irons, chains, fetters of all kinds, slave garments and all the things that represented the terrible slavery system that was now coming to a welcomed end.

At the first stroke of the midnight bell, Knibbs shouted out, “The monster is dying.” At each stroke of the bell that followed this cry was repeated and the great crowd began to join in the cry. At the twelfth stoke 10,000 voices cried out, “The monster is dead, the monster is dead; let us bury him.”

They then nailed the coffin lid down and lowered it into a huge grave and covered it up. That night, every heart rejoiced and 10,000 voices grew hoarse, shouting and crying with joy. Once they were in bondage to slavery, but now they were free.

There is a tragic side to this story.

While many rejoiced in their new liberty and freedom, there were some slaves that lived in remote areas of the island that did not know they had legally been set free. Because they didn’t know, for many years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been made a law, they still continued to serve their slave masters. Their former masters successfully kept the news from them as long as they could. By law they had been declared free men and did not have to live as slaves any longer. However, ignorance of the truth kept them in bondage.

Let me tell you an even sadder story.

If we heard a story like this happening today, we’d be shocked, sympathetic and even angered. But the same thing IS happening in our day. Jesus Christ, because of his victory against sin on the cross, has issued an Emancipation Proclamation of liberty and freedom from sin to everyone on this earth. But like some of the Jamaicans, there are those that don’t understand they no longer have to live as slaves to sin; and the devil tries to keep them in that mindset.

The message of the cross is this:

Satan has been defeated and sin’s penalty has been paid. We no longer have to surrender to sin or be controlled by Satan. We can belong to Jesus and live to please God. I am thankful that I have been set free by the Emancipation Proclamation of the cross.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because I am marked out by him to give good news to the poor; he has sent me to make well those who are broken-hearted; to say that the prisoners will be let go, and the blind will see, and to make the wounded free from their chains…” Luke 4:18

3

DEATH CAME KNOCKING

andreaYesterday I saw a post on Facebook; a post I had hoped to never see. A wonderful friend of mine lost her daughter to cancer. As I read the post, my heart was overcome with grief for the family. Today, three children mourn the loss of their mom, a husband mourns the loss of his wife; a mom and dad mourn the death of a daughter.

There are no words of comfort that can fill the empty hole created by death. I remember the day my daddy passed away from cancer. Surrounded by family, he exhaled his last breath and peacefully left this world. The finality of what I just witnessed was not yet realized; that would only happen over time.

Whenever I see a hospital gurney, I am reminded of a warm September day when death visited our house and forever changed our lives.

We were given four years to digest the prognosis of his Stage IV diagnosis; but no matter how much time you have to prepare, no one is ever ready for a loved one to succumb to their last breath. I am sure this was true for my friend and her family.

I wonder what emotions God felt when Jesus died.

Scripture is clear that Jesus came to earth as both God and man united in one divine Person. As the Son of man, Jesus showed emotions. Jesus wept when His friend, Lazarus, died and also as He drew near the city of Jerusalem for the last time. We also know He showed anger and felt pain. But what about God, the creator of the universe, does He have emotions?

When sin separated God from His only Son, was He heart broken? When Jesus drew his last breath on the cross and ascended into the darkness of hell to redeem us; did God cry tears in His human form? I may never know the answers to those questions in this life, but there is one emotion God clearly demonstrated when His son died; that was love.

“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.” John 3: 16 NIRV

I am thankful my daddy and my friend’s daughter believed in Jesus. In their death they were gifted eternal life. Not everyone is given the opportunity to prepare for death. Death can visit any one of us in an instant. Don’t let sin separate you from the eternal love of God the Father.

I pray you choose to believe in Jesus. After death, it’s too late.

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve… yourself or God.” Joshua 24:15

0

GOD DOESN’T PLAY FAVORITES

Robot2I watched as the grandkids put the finishing touches on their Valentine boxes for school. Each box was unique and the openings for cards were all different. Olivia’s box was a tall castle and the cards dropped in at the top, Carson’s robot accepted cards through a mouth and a porthole on Fischer’s pirate ship opened with a cork handle.

As I lined up the boxes for a photo, Carson asked, “NeeNee, what box do you like best?”  

Each box had been created and uniquely designed by the maker; there was no way to choose. I loved them all the same and appreciated the creative diversity displayed by each child. Carson’s question was similar to asking a parent who is your favorite child; there is simply no way to pick.

I am thankful God feels the same way about each of us.

We are created and uniquely designed us for a specific purpose. Perception, knowledge, talents and the materials we have to work with determines the end results. It’s what we do, with what we have, that matters most in the eyes of God.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” Roman 12:6

“Those who have been given a trust (to manage a gift given by God) must prove that they are faithful.” I Corinthians 4:2

God gifts us with different talents to fulfill those things he has purposed for our life. Just like my grandkids, the point of entry God uses to deliver special message can vary.

God is the founder of diversity.

Make no mistake, God is the founder of diversity; he doesn’t play favorites. Of the millions faces upon on the earth, no two are alike. Personality traits, fingerprints and genetic factors are specific to you. That alone speaks volumes of God’s love for diversity. He uses a variety of colors, materials, textures and embellishments to individually identify us as part of His unique creation. God is no respecter of persons; we are equally loved and each of our Valentine boxes will be different.

Is your heart open to accept delivery of God’s message of love and salvation?

God is the final judge and it won’t be a comparison contest. God doesn’t measure or judge based on outward beauty; His standard is much higher. His judgment is based on what we did with what we had.

0

A PIECE OF HEAVEN

Heavens_carpetIt was a hot, humid day in Southern Missouri when my grandpa unloaded barbed wire and wooden posts from the bed of his pick-up truck to construct a cattle fence; I was age eight. When finished, he took a handkerchief from his work pants and slowly wiped his sunbaked brow. He lit a cigarette and inhaled the tobacco like it was a breath of fresh air and each time he exhaled, a dense cloud of smoke hung in the air. It’s funny the things you remember as a kid.

A few yards away, my grandma spread out a hand-made quilt beneath an oak tree and poured iced tea into plastic cups. As I sipped the cold drink, I pointed to something that clung to the base of several tree trunks.

I found a little piece of heaven.

“What’s all that green stuff, Grandma?”
“God uses that to carpet the gardens in heaven so you can walk barefoot without hurting the bottoms of your feet,” she answered.

“Grandma, do you think God would mind if I took home a little piece of heaven to show my teacher and classmates?”

She dug her fingers into a mound of moss and placed a handful into my empty cup and said, “I don’t think God would mind at all.”

I ran to show grandpa my cup filled with a foretaste of heaven.  As grandpa bent down to pick up another roll of barbed wire he pointed to a grassy area and said,

 “Over yonder, you might find some flowers for your heavenly garden.” I danced off in the direction he pointed to fill my cup with a little bit more of heaven.

For obvious reasons, the moss and wildflowers didn’t survive.  The flowers wilted in the heat and the moss turned brown from lack of water.  There was no opportunity to show classmates my little piece of heaven.

We are all given a piece of heaven while on earth.

God sees us as empty cups; vessels that need to be filled. He places a handful of abundant mercy and grace into our cup, and then fills it to the brim with everlasting life. The only thing that God requires from us is to water the contents of our cup daily with the Word of God and shade it from any heat generated by apathy.

 “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isaiah 58: 11 (NIV)

When it’s time for show-and-tell before God and His heavenly audience, what will be the condition of the contents he placed within your cup? I pray it will be lush and green; filled with flowers that bloom in every season.

0

HELP ME! I’M LOST.

dreams_carsWhat a stressful week! On Monday I couldn’t find my hotel room, Tuesday I couldn’t find the exit out of the mall where my car was parked; and yesterday, I couldn’t find my car in a parking structure. After a six hour search, I called it quits and awoke from my dream exhausted and frustrated.

Yes, these were all dreams and over the past months my dreams are centered on being lost. I’ve never given much credence to dreams, but I wonder if the repetitive theme of these dreams represent insight into my own personal or spiritual struggles.  

In Old Testament times God spoke to people through dreams; they were symbolic, and prophets of God were called to interpret their meaning. On the surface Biblical dreams seem ridiculous. Consider Pharaoh’s dream of seven cows that ate seven other cows, or, the dream that seven ears of corn ate another seven other ears of corn. Yet, when these bizarre dreams were interpreted, they saved Egypt from starvation. (Genesis 41:15-48)

Does God speak to us in dreams today?

I can’t confirm God speaks to us symbolically in dreams.  What I do know, from personal experience, is God ministers to us 24/7 in the following ways:

1)      Scripture; it is the scale of discernment.

2)      The Holy Spirit; it is the scale that keeps our feelings and emotions in check.

Perhaps repetitive dreams are night parables that indicate underlying issues in need of a resolution. There are times I have been awakened from sleep and found myself praying aloud. My mom speaks of dreams that call her to intercede in prayer for someone she knows. Weeks or months later, she learns that person was in need of heavenly intervention at that precise moment in time. Was it just coincidence?  That is for you to decide.

Our creator does nothing in vain.

God created us to dream. For that reason alone, I have come to accept that dreams serve a divine purpose; even though, I may never understand why. The mysteries of God continue to astound me. Dreams are just one of the many ‘awe’ factors associated with the Creator of the Universe. A Steven Curtis Chapman song sums it up like this:

“God is God and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting. God is God and I am man, So, I’ll never understand it all.  For only God is God.”

Let’s consider my non-prophetic dream interpretation.

Although the scenes and characters in my recent dreams change, the underlying theme remains constant; I have lost my sense of direction. And you know what? That’s exactly how I feel about my life right now.  I have projects parked everywhere as I determine the future direction of my company. Ideas lurk behind doors I’ve yet to open and previous goals have moved to new, unknown locations.

Dream: I can’t find the right door to my hotel room. Interpretation:  I’m not sure which door to open.

Dream: I can’t find the right exit at the mall. Interpretation:  I’m uncertain how to move on to the next stage of my life.

Dream: I am lost in a multi-level parking structure. Interpretation:  It’s time to forfeit my driver’s license, or maybe it’s time to simplify my life and find a parking spot that bears my name.

Life can be chaotic and all the changes, choices, decisions and interruptions leave us little time to be attentive to signs that can warn, direct and bring us growth. Perhaps sleep is the only time God has a chance to grab our attention and He uses dreams as the mode of communication.

0

IS APATHY AMERICA’S LEGACY?

Apathy

What is happening to our nation? We have allowed our core values to be directed by the media, television, celebrities and a Godless government. The foundation of America is in a state of apathetic erosion and that indifference has the potential to create a slippery slope that could eventually bury values, morals and any form of Godliness.

Prime-time television advertises everything from sexual dysfunction medication to vaginal lubricants that will heighten pleasure. Call me a prude, but I am disgusted by the inappropriate sexual content, lack of moral values, curse words and overall disrespect for parental authority that is on kid oriented prime-time stations

When the grandkids come to stay, I have no problem with flipping channels when I am uncomfortable with the content. I refuse to be asleep spiritually and not pay attention to the commitment to my faith in Jesus.

Bible scriptures speak about a large portion of Christians who, in the end times, will be lulled into the world of apathy. It is a cancer that has infected America with tentacles that have invaded our government, schools, churches and homes. The very fabric of what once made us a formidable nation is tearing at the seams as we refuse to be accountable to God and His Word.

Mankind is more concerned with ordinary, self-centered, secular pursuits than with the spiritual work of God.  It has birthed apathy and left footprints of disillusionment and lost hope upon the hearts of the next generation. Apathy is a subtle, crafty and hardly noticed; until it has consumed you.

Signs of Spiritual Apathy

·         Self-centeredness: To make your own needs and desires first in your life; God is just an afterthought.

·         Self-indulgence: Gratification is found in all things materialistic with a constant need to feed that desire.

·         Ungratefulness: The gratitude for what Jesus had done for us becomes diminished over time. There is less commitment and devotion to faithfully serve Him.

·          Neglectfulness: The invasive roots of neglect will grow out of control when we fail to plant the seed of God’s Word in our heart. Prayer helps with weed control.

My Plea

Don’t allow apathy to become America’s legacy. As Christians, you can be the antidote to the apathetic cancer that has infested our nation. For that to happen, we must begin to live what we profess to believe and set the standard for Godliness.

2

GAG or GROW

(As told by my daddy, Pastor Bill Lobbs)

gagOrGrow

In my growing up years, there were certain household rules we children were expected to follow. They were rules made by Mom and Dad with the good of the family in mind. However, some of them really didn’t make any sense to us as children. For example, Mom’s unchanging rule: you have to eat a little bit of everything served at mealtimes.

You are made to grow.

Most times that presented no problem because Mom was a fabulous cook. But there was one thing she sometimes served that did present a problem. At least it did for me, because I just couldn’t eat it without gagging. Spinach was its name and slick and slimy was its game. Meals with spinach became a time of intense suffering for me. I couldn’t stand the taste of it and just the thought of having to put it in my mouth made me sick.

The goal is growth, the soil is grace.

Mealtimes with spinach became a battle of the wills between Mom and me. Another one of her rules was that until we had eaten everything on our plate, we weren’t allowed to leave the table. Many times, after everyone else had left the table and Mom was doing dishes, I was still sitting there trying to force that spinach down my throat.

I remember her saying, “Eat it; it’s filled with vitamins and nutrition. Your body needs it. It will help you to grow.” In my childish thinking, anything that looked and tasted so bad could not possibly be good for me, no matter how many minerals or vitamins it contained. I thought the logical place for it was the garbage can, but Mom’s presence kept that from happening.

In the years that followed, I learned Mom was right, spinach was good for me. I did need its nutrients and it did help me to grow. Amazingly enough, because of Mom’s persistent I did learn to eat spinach without gagging.

The end of life is not happiness, but growth in character and achievement.

The Heavenly Father promotes growth in His children in much the same manner as a mother. The goal of both is to produce strong, healthy growing children. She wants hers to grow physically; Father God wants His to grow spiritually.

To accomplish this, both know it can require children to be served things they might not like, but are necessary for growth. When it is served we push it away and say,

“I know I’m not going to like this. It’s going to be a problem to me. I don’t want it, take it away.”

 But Father God says,

“I know you don’t want it. I know it’s going to be a problem to you. But it is good for you. It will help you to grow spiritually.”

When problems are served up in their life, many people believe God is mad at them, or perhaps He has abandoned them. They think they must be out of His will or those things wouldn’t be happening to them. But that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes it is within the will of God for us to experience problems in our life.

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the thick of what Christ experienced. This is the spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” I Peter 4:12-13, (The Message)

God’s scripture doesn’t reveal everything we would like to know on the subject of problems, but He does have valid reasons for allowing problems to be served up in the lives of His children. At the time, we may not understand His reasons; but afterwards, we find it was always for our good.  Each problem promoted spiritual growth and enlarged us in ways we never thought possible.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Let me share a personal word with you.

In those moments when everything seems to be against you, when you feel abandoned and question God’s presence, I say this: take heart and heart look up. God is at work in your life. He is behind the scenes leading, directing and molding your life and using these problems to do it.

If you are encountering struggles, hardships, obstacles and problems in your life, remember this:

·         It is struggles that make a person strong.

·         It is hardships that make a person an overcomer.

·         It is obstacles that provide a person with the greatest opportunity to excel.

·         It is problems that develop and direct us.

Andre Crouch wrote about this in his song entitled: Through it All.

I’ve had many tears and sorrows, I’ve had questions for tomorrow; there have been times I didn’t know right from wrong. But in every situation, God gave blessed consolation that my trials come only to make me strong.

I thank God for the mountains I thank Him for the valleys

I thank Him for the storms He brought me through. For if I’d never had a problem I wouldn’t know that He could solve them I’d never know what faith in God can do.

Through it all — through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus; I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all — through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.