Monthly Archives: March 2014

Scars

Scars

Greetings in the Lord,

Do you have any scars? I know that’s a pretty personal question…and, No, I do not want to see them! But scars are a vivid reminder of something in our life that was painful. Whether it was an appendectomy or an old football injury. We see those scars and think, “I remember that injury…I remember that surgery.” The injury has healed, but the scar remains. It’s a visible reminder to us and to others of something painful.

I was reading in the newest Christian Standard and the author Steve Wyatt writes, “The venerable apostle Paul was reminiscing about his ministry exploits in a letter to the believers at Galatia. He’s nearing the close of his letter when he suddenly states, rather matter of factly, ‘On my own body are scars that prove I belong to Christ Jesus’.” (Galatians 6:17)

But he doesn’t elaborate…He doesn’t say “Man, those rocks left some nasty reminders of the pain at Lystra, I got this one from the snakebite at Malta, these are from the lashes and rods put to my back in Rome.” He’s not looking for pity. He just wants us to know…”I’ve got some scars.” And he connects those scars to the cross of Jesus Christ. He wears them as a badge of testimony for ministry.

I do not know all the scars in your life, and many of them are not visible. For many of us the most intense scars are not the remains of surgery, but deeper cuts in our hearts that no one can see. And here’s the 64,000 dollar question when it comes to scars: Do we allow those scars to be a vivid reminder of the healing power of God, or are we just looking for pity?” Joni Erickson Tada took the scars of being a quadriplegic and turned them into a ministry concerning God’s power in her weakness. John Walsh took the scars of an abducted and murdered son and turned them into a campaign to protect other abused and neglected children. Corrie Ten Boom took the scars of the Holocaust and turned them into a ministry of forgiveness and grace. If we choose one path concerning our scars the injury never really heals, but if we choose the same path as Jesus, the apostle Paul, and the above mentioned, not only does the injury heal, but the scars that remain become object lessons of grace.

I might not know a lot about medical procedures and biology, but I know a little about scars, both the ones that are visible and the ones that are not. And it is my prayer that these scars will be a reminder that “His power is made perfect in my weakness.” And that the scars will make me a better minister to those who are also scared by life. So here is my challenge. Will you, like Jesus, allow the scars in your life to be used for the glory of the Father? Will you allow those scars to be used for healing or pity? It might be the most important decision you ever make in your life!

Reaching for the Nail Printed Hands,

Rick

Commitment

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Hey Everyone,

The writer of proverbs says, “a friend loves at all times, a brother is born for adversity.”  What Solomon is really saying is…There’s no such thing as a fair weathered friend.  If your not there when the storms rage, or the inheritance runs out, or at the cross…there is a problem.  It takes commitment for real friendship to be formed.  Commitment and forgiveness are probably the two essential factors for any relationship.  For just a moment…..

Think of someone you know who is “a person of good character.” Lock his or her image in your mind. Now take a moment to reflect on the things this person says and does…the personal characteristics that make him or her a role model for you. What comes to mind? What do you see?

Chances are that high on the list of your role model’s qualities is COMMITMENT – the unwavering dedication to being a good family member and friend…to doing his or her best at work and away from the job…to doing what’s right, noble, and decent.

Committed people like your role model just seem to have their heads and hearts in the right place. They keep their priorities straight. They stay focused on what’s important. They know, inherently, that what they believe must drive how they behave – and how they behave ultimately determines the character they possess, the reputation they enjoy, and the legacy they leave.

Abraham Lincoln had this to say about commitment:

COMMITMENT is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words.

It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.”

The world renowned pianist, Van Cliburn, after one of his magnificent concerts was approached by an admirer who had been in the audience.

The emotional fan grasped Cliburn’s hand and said,

“I would give my life to be able to play the piano like that.”

The pianist smiled and replied…“I DID.”

 

There are many good things in life, but only one best thing.  Only one thing worth seeking first and committing our lives to!  Thank you for being part of the committee of the committed, the fellowship of the faithful.  It’s a privilege for Jesus to call us His friends!

 

Rick

 

 

 

Can You See Land?

Can You See Land?

Hello Fellow Swimmers,

Have you ever felt like giving up? Stupid question, huh? All of us have been at the end of our rope. Our physical, emotional, psychological resources almost gone. The tanks on empty…and we look up only to discover we’ve got miles to go…That’s the very reason I love this story:

It was a fog-shrouded morning, July 4, 1952, when a young woman named Florence Chadwick waded into the water off Catalina Island. She intended to swim the channel from the island to the California coast. Long-distance swimming was not new to her; she had been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions.
The water was numbingly cold that day. The fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her party. Several times sharks had to be driven away with rifle fire. She swam more than 15 hours before she asked to be taken out of the water. Her trainer tried to encourage her to swim on since they were so close to land, but when Florence looked, all she saw was fog. So she quit. . . only one-mile from her goal.
Later she said, “I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” It wasn’t the cold or fear or exhaustion that caused Florence Chadwick to fail. It was the fog.
Many times we too fail, not because we’re afraid or because of the peer pressure or because of anything other than the fact that we lose sight of the goal. Maybe that’s why Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Two months after her failure, Florence Chadwick walked off the same beach into the same channel and swam the distance, setting a new speed record, because she could see the land.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” and then just a few verses later it says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Heb. 11:6)

Confidence…Assurance….Faith. How do those three words go together when we can’t see land? How do we have confidence and assurance when the bottom has fallen out? Some would say, “Well just suck it up!” “Come on, this too will pass.” or some other really cute cliche’ that makes you want to punch them in the throat.

First. let me say confidence and cockiness aren’t the same thing. Confidence come from knowing something is not only true, but knowing there is a preparation and precedent to make you believe in a certain outcome. It does not mean the absence of doubt or fear

so, with that in mind assurance is a feeling of the soul…a calm belief that you are in safe hands. It does not mean you have to like the present circumstances….just that you trust the one who made a promise to you that He will not let you go…and will even use this horrible situation to show you His power and grace

Many confessing believers never allow God to show His power and grace because they will not move on from the hurt and pain….of divorce, or death, or pain…..they choose to stay in it or wallow….almost as if to prompt others to wallow with them.

Faith doesn’t wallow. Faith expresses the reality…but with hope. Faith and hope swim together. Without hope you give up because you cannot see the land….

Please know that God keeps His promises. He will not desert you or try to damage you…but He will allow you to be tested. He will ask you to walk up the Mountain with your son, or daughter, or mate or parent and He will ask you to trust Him. Sometimes when it makes no sense. And a mile later….there’s the land or a ram caught by his horns in the thicket as Jehovah Jireh becomes, “The God who provides.”

I pray that you will be a messenger of hope and encouragement to thos who are swimming in the storms of life and cannot see land. I want to be one of those messengers of hope because I sure remember those who kept me going by saying, “you can do it. Just a mile more. Don’t give up. Don’t give in…don’t become weary in doing good. At the proper time…God will give the harvest…..”Hey. Look!!!! The Promised Land!”

THE POWER OF WORDS

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Hey All,

 

King David’s son Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat it’s fruit.” (18:21)

 

Here’s the question….what kind of fruit would you like to eat?  Fresh, juicy, vitamin filled, or rotten, nasty and filled with parasites?  Easy answer right?  I’ll take the first one!!!!

 

But Solomon says…our words, our conversation daily are like those two choices…and both we, and the people we serve the “fruit” of our words to will either be strengthened or poisoned.  

I remember my Senior year of High School…I’d only been a Christian for a very short period of time, and I needed someone to write me a reference to go to Johnson Bible College.  As many of you know the six years preceding my surrender to Christ had been very rebellious ones…drugs, darkness, rejection of any authority….including God and His Word.  So, six months after that lengthy time of rebellion, finding someone excited to write me a reference to go to Bible College (outside my immediate family) was tough.  I remember going to one of my parent’s longtime friends, a leader in the Church where we attended and telling him the situation and asking if he would write that reference….his response, “Not on your life…I don’t trust you and I’m not going to put my name on the line for you.”

 

I remember my soul feeling like a balloon that had been pierced by a needle.  The life went out of me…almost a sense of hopelessness and despair.  I was only 18 then, so I look back now and at least at 53 I can understand this man’s concern.  What I do not understand is his failure to at least think like Jesus in terms of redemption.  Inside I knew I wasn’t the same…there just hadn’t been enough time gone by to prove it to the outside world. I’m pretty sure that was kind of what the Apostle Paul was trying to communicate when all the believers, except one or two, were afraid of him right after his conversion.  You can hear them say, “What…are you kidding….he arrested my Mom, he persecuted my Uncle….I don’t trust him!”  The words that came from that first leader were like poisoned fruit…I’m not sure how he felt, but I know how I felt.

 

So, with great, great trepidation I went to my Dad’s Boss, Bill Bachanan, the Chairman of the leaders at our Church and said, “Mr. Bachanan, I need a reference to go to Bible Collage…I know what my life’s been like, but I’m not the same anymore…would you write it for me…I don’t want you to do anything but tell the truth.”  And he laughed out loud and said, “Ricky, I’d be honored to do that…and I want you to read it.”

 

It was honest about my past…but filled with Scriptural words about forgiveness and grace….and redemption.  After reading Mr. Bachanan’s letter, all the air was back inside the balloon…and even more.

 

Today we write part of our life’s story…and the words we put on the page are important….They are important because those of us who follow Christ claim to have the words which are powerful enough to save everyone.  The Gospel…the :Good News…is the story of Jesus sacrifice for all sin, and His resurrection from death.  How can people who claim to be representatives for “the resurrection and the life,” speak words of death.  Important question, huh?  Someday I won’t be the one asking that question.

 

Looking for the right words,

 

Rick Burdette