Friday, December 9, 2011

Greed or the Hand of God: A new thought on Albert Pujols

Hey all..thanks for really has been a long time since my last post. I am not really sure it is because I haven't had anything good to write, but that I have had not had the time to sit and write. It has been a very busy year. Right now it is 5:30am and I am writing. Well let me just get to it:

Yesterday was a huge day in the life of St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans. Our Iconic first baseman Albert Pujols signed a HUGE contract!...with the Anaheim Angels. Yes, that is right, we lost possibly the best player in baseball to a huge contract. $254 million dollars over 10 years. Holy cow that is a lot of money. Many people including me had some initial reactions to that signing. Greed and betrayal were words being tossed about. My thoughts were not totally about greed (although I did believe that was part of the motivation). I began to think of potential pitfalls of this deal for Albert. He his a professing believer and by all accounts both public and private (by individuals I know and trust who know him) he is genuine. I thought of Scriptures like 1 Timothy 6:10 where it talks of the Love of money being the root of evil. That is a reasonable and fair Scriptural warning about the dangers of wealth. And I think they still apply. After all this deal had to be all about the money...right? After all he did say in February of this year he wanted to be a Cardinal for Life...right? So what changed? Is he greedy or just a liar?

Well, maybe not either. Here is what I am thinking and you may not agree but as I tell people all the time, "you have the right to be wrong if you want" :-). I want to relate this to you and I believe God has shaken it out in my mind so bare with me, I am really not just rambling, but remember it is 5:30am!

In January of 2000, Joann and I were called to serve the Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church in Ware Missouri. It was my first Pastorate, I was excited. When we arrived on field my wish and my desire was to serve there until I retired. I can recall making several "public" statements to that fact. I had no intention of moving anywhere else. We were home and we loved it there. Well it is 2011 now and I am writing from my living room in Wright City, Missouri. I am now the pastor at the First Baptist Church in Wright City (where I fully intend to serve until I retire). Did I lie then? Am I lying now? NO!! In late 2007 God began to do some things to cause me unrest in a position in which I was fully satisfied and happy. He did all that to move me to this town and this church. I have no doubt in my mind that I am where God wants me to be! Some very painful things had to happen in my life to make me willing to move to make me want to move and God made those things happen to get me where he wanted me. Now we didn't leave for Millions of dollars, in fact it was what many would call a "lateral" move. The new church was about the same size as the old church and our salary was about the same. God just had to make me so unhappy I had to move and he did! And I am thankful! What does it take to get any of us to leave a job we love? More money? Better Benefits? Better Schools? More opportunity? Just being generally unhappy? What does it take?

Now back to Albert...was he lying in February when he said he wanted to be a a Cardinal for life? Maybe not...let me ask a question if it is true that Albert loved St. Louis and believed it was truly the best baseball city in America and he wanted to stay here for the rest of his career and it is true that Albert loves the Lord and is a man of prayer and God wanted him to move to LA, what was it going to take to make that happen? Could it be $254 million dollars? I mean Miami came in and offered Albert 10 years Over $200 Million and he didn't jump. I mean to get him to leave this city was going to take a TON of money. This team in LA to come in and offered an astronomical amount of money that the Cardinals would not match and could not match. Could it be that God simply used this contract situation to take another one of his Kingdom assets and move it where He wanted it to be? Let's be honest LA isn't exactly overflowing with influential Christians. Maybe, just maybe God wanted Albert in LA and has arranged the details to make that happen. Does that stink for us here as Cardinal fans? ABSOLUTELY! But in the grand scheme of things we are really talking about eternity!

Just a thought...thanks for reading my rambling...

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Pastor Chad

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Time Sure Flies

Today I came to the realization that this month..June 2010 marks 18 years of ministry for me. I don't feel old enough to have done anything for 18 years but it is true. I began to think of those people that God has allowed me the honor of serving with for those 18 years and I decided to offer Him praise by honoring them. Here is my list of many (not all) of the men and women I have been blessed to serve alongside and under during the course of my 18 years of Gospel is a long list but not complete...these are not in any particular order of importance...if you do not find your name on this list it is not because you were not significant but because I am flawed in my memory....I thank God for each of have shaped me and blessed me by your walk with God and I am truly blessed to have known and served with all of you...May our God be richly praised by my honoring you all!

Rick Ferguson, Kathy (Ferguson) Litton ,Duane Arlege ,Summer Arlege, Rob Works, Larry Gingrich, Brad Newbold, Nathan Cothen ,Brad East, Karen East ,Richard Adams ,Jerry Frazier ,Willie Isaacson , Donna Isaacson, Jim Plymale ,Ray Shumake, Rick Auxier ,Gary Taylor (both of them) ,Gerald Davidson, Bill Curp, Scott Lee, Ernie Downs, Randy Wigger, Ed Brinley, Jim Shockley ,Jasper Rains ,Rick Tucker ,Gary Gann ,Aaron Sutton ,Kerry Skinner, Tom Bray ,Marvin Nobles, Dennis Bradley, Curtis McClain ,Dale Allen ,Andy Chambers, Terry Chrisope, Steve Harter, My Parents (Steve and Barb Hodges) ,My beautiful Wife Joann ,Kelly Green ,Ronnie Hill, Steve Holdaway,

As I sit here and write I can think of dozens more...some I cannot even remember their names...but people who have profoundly impacted my life. For all of those listed I praise God for you! I am blessed to know you and to call you brothers and sisters and fellow laborers for Christ's sake..

"To God Be the Glory, great things He hath done and great out rejoincing thro Jesus the Son; But purer and higher and greater will be Our wonder, our victr'y when Jesus we see. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! O come to the Father thro Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He hath done."

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Bro. Chad

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When Life Becomes Stormy!

Today I sit in my office and try to process the events of the last several days. It is January 6, 2010. We have celebrated Christmas, welcomed a New Year and yesterday my family buried my Uncle Earl Hodges. What a swing of emotions! And so for my first blog of 2010 I want to tell you a bit about the amazing man that was laid to rest yesterday. I hope I don't bore you, I just think I need to write a bit to process my feelings.

To begin with I think it is important to mention the unique family connection. Earl was my Dad's brother as well as my Mother's sister's husband. To clarify a bit my Dad and his brother married sisters. So Earl wasn't just my Uncle, he was my double Uncle. The reason that is important to note is because it means that Uncle Earl and my Aunt Diana were at all family functions we had growing up. If we had a get together with my mom's side of the family...they were there. If it was my Dad's side...they were there. We always seemed to live near each other, within usually a mile or two and when we didn't live that close we were always at their house or they at ours.

Uncle Earl and Aunt Diana are more like "other" parents to me. I wish I could put into words (and still be able to see my screen through the tears) all that he meant to me. Losing him was very much like losing a parent for me. It is going to be hard to imagine life without him, because I have never known life without him.

I had the amazing privilege of being his Pastor for about 8 years. Which I admit was a bit strange to look out as your are preaching and see people who once changed your diapers. But the truth is he always looked so proud. I used to say I didn't know if it was pride or boredom, but the truth is I know it was pride because I felt it and he told me from time to time. But it is here in this relationship that I find the blessing of it all...Earl Hodges was a child of God by virtue of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He has truly gone home to be with the Lord.

I shared briefly at his graveside yesterday a few words of hope to my family and now let me share them with you. Maybe, just maybe they will bring hope to you if you will allow them. We have just celebrated Christmas. In the book of Isaiah Chapter 7 we find these words "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (v. 14 NKJV) Now I can tell you that the word Immanuel in Hebrew means God with Us. but rather than me tell you and hopefully you think I am smart enough to know that, let me take you to yet another passage that confirms that statement...Matthew 1:22-23 ( NKJV ) 22So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”£ which is translated, “God with us.”

I find that incredible...God with Us. God is not some distant being watching us from a distance and Bette Midler tries to suggest. He is right here with us. He came to earth in the form of a man and lived among us. After his death, burial, resurrection and ascension He is still right here with us, we are not alone!

There is one other verse I shared with them, I have written about it before so let me just offer it in passing and if you want more just look for my previous post on it...Zephaniah 3:17 ( NKJV ) 17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Hold on a minute while I SHOUT! This verse tells us right from the start where God is...He is in our Midst. As if that were not comforting enough...we are told that He rejoices over us! You know on December 30 when my uncle left his physical body (at 59 years of age) to become present with the Lord there was great rejoicing in heaven and some of it even came from my uncle, but I suggest that most of it came from the Lord as He rejoiced over Earl with gladness and singing. Oh, what a beautiful song that must be! Imagine!

I will miss him soooo very much, but this is not the end for Earl Hodges it really is the beginning! I love you Uncle Earl, I will miss you...but thanks to Jesus we will meet again!

Thanks for listening!

Bro. Chad

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is it Meaningless?

Wow! It has been a long time since I have had a good thought! I can't believe I have not posted an entry since February. Life has been busy and God has been good. I hope this thought is worth posting.

I just finished having lunch with a Church Planter in our area. It was great to sit down and visit with him for a while. He and I had some Seminary classes together and we knew each other by name, but what a blessing to get to know more about him and his vision for the church he is trying to build.

As we talked and shared about ministry, vision, church planting, theology, evangelism and so on (we talked about a lot) one theme became apparent. One source of absolute agreement and solidarity popped up (and we did agree on much more than this, but this is the pin that holds it all together). Our world is LOST! People need Jesus!

I have been studying from the OT book of Ecclesiastes this week, preparing my message (God's message) for Sunday morning. The book of Ecclesiastes is kind of a "memoir" of King Solomon's life and adventures. His search for significance and meaning in this life. And the funny thing is this King who is said to have been the wisest man of all time, who had all the wealth and fame and pleasures of life still felt empty. Listen to how he opens this book:

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 ( NKJV ) 2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” 3 What profit has a man from all his labor In which he toils under the sun?

Other translations use the word "meaningless". This word can mean many things, but ultimately it means unsatisfying and fruitless. This book chronicles for us the search of one man for "meaning" in life. And each new adventure, each new investment produced the same result, meaninglessness (I am not sure if that is a real word not not, but let's go with it). He searched for satisfaction in wealth...meaningless. He searched for satisfaction in women (about a 1000 of them between wives and concubines)...meaningless. He searched for significance through work, the labor of his hands...meaningless. Everything was meaningless.

Have you ever felt that way? No matter how hard you work, how much you have, how good your family is...everything leaves you feeling a bit empty. A bit unsatisfied. I think our world and more specifically our community is that way. We search and we search for meaning to this life for significance in this world. Our efforts produce everything but what we are looking to find.

Well, then is it all meaningless? Yes and No. The search for significance and meaning in things or in people is meaningless and the best it can hope to produce is heartache! But, listen to Solomon's conclusion after a life of searching he finally returns to this:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ( NKJV ) 13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

Fear God and Keep His Commandments for this is man's all. It all comes back this, LIFE IS MEANINGLESS APART FROM A DEEP, ABIDING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!

Jesus said it best... John 10:10 ( NKJV ) ... I have come that they may have LIFE, and that they may have it more abundantly. (emphasis mine).

John 14:6 ( NKJV ) 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (emphasis mine)

I could list more...but there in 2 verses Jesus tells us, that LIFE, real LIFE only comes through HIM!

So life outside of Christ is indeed meaningless. It is a search that will never end and never satisfy.

BUT life IN Jesus is ultimate. It is fulfilling in every way. It is satisfying to the core. IT is MEANINGFUL!

Pursue meaning, pursue satisfaction, PURSUE CHRIST!

Just a thought!

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Bro. Chad

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Great and Mighty is He

I don't know why it takes me so long to come back here and record what I have been thinking. I truthfully don't even know if anyone is reading. But as you can see if you do read this blog, occasionally I have a good and maybe even an inspirational thought. When I do I try to record that, simply because I enjoy writing and most of all I enjoy looking back at what the Lord has been teaching me.

I remember as a teenager going to camps and we would sing a chorus, I don't know if I remember all the words (those days get further and further behind me) but it went something like this "Great and Mighty is He: Great and Mighty is He: Great and mighty is the Lord our God; Great and Mighty is He" It was a fun song.

This week in our Mid-week service I was teaching on the Book of Isaiah. And I came across an idea that reminded me of that song. Most of us are pretty familiar with Isaiah, particularly at Christmas time as we read from Chapters 7 and 9. We are familiar with other chapters such as Isaiah's vision in chapter 6. Who hasn't memorized Isaiah 40 as a young person to remind us to be patient and wait on the Lord. Then at Easter is Isaiah 53.

I came to the realization this week that I am good at compartmentalizing my favorite passages of Scripture. That is to say, I am good at taking my favorites and separating them from the rest. For example: I love Isaiah's vision of God in chapter 6, remember " In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."(NKJ)

Isn't your mind just filled with awe at the thought of such a Holy and Powerful God. Here comes the song: Great and Mighty is He...

I also love Isaiah 53 remember: "He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; he was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.(NKJ)

Wow, what a savior. That Jesus would take our sin upon him. Here comes the song again: Great and Mighty is He...

Here we go and compartmentalize. Chapter 6 an amazing view of the Creator of the Universe. Chapter 53 an Amazing view of the savior. But wait let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Both of these chapters are from the same prophet. Both of these chapters speak of the same God.

Think about it the God of transcendent glory that Isaiah saw (that we all see) in chapter 6 -- the God who frightened him so much that he cried out. "... I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." (6:5) -- the God whose Words shook the foundation of the Temple is the very same God who would one day be,

...despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces... (Isaiah 53:3a RSV)

...wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed... (Isaiah 53:5 RSV)

Wow, The Holy God of Chapter 6 is the Savior of Chapter 53!! Ready here it comes: Great and Might is He... Can you feel it? Are you singing it too!

As the old preachers used to say :"If that don't light your fire, your wood's wet"

As Steve Brown used to say at the close of his radio show in his deep Bass voice:

"You Think About That, Amen"

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Bro. Chad

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How Great is our God!

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. Apparently it takes me some time to have a good thought. Seriously, God has been doing some amazing things in our church and I have been struggling with how to put that into words. Here is my best effort. You see it in the title. "How Great is our God!"

That is more of a statement than a question at least for me. There is a song out there with that title. My wife uses it for her ringtone. Every time her phone rings, we are reminded of the Greatness of our God.

I think that is good to be reminded of the greatness of God. My question, though, is this: Why do we need to be reminded that God is great? The honest truth is that we simply forget. Don't' we? We get caught up in our living, we get consumed by the daily grind of life. We get too busy trying to fix our problems rather that doing as scripture says and start casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (I Peter 5:7 NKJV)

I don't know why we (I) think we can handle our lives problems better than God can. I am just trying to be honest here. The truth is (and none of us will admit this out loud) we sometimes think God doesn't know what He is doing. Sure we trust Him with everybody else's problems, but "Hey I can handle my own problems"

Scripture is full of reminders of the Greatness of our God. Turn to any of the 66 books of Scripture and you can find a reminder of the greatness of God!

But let's just look to one example: He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; he was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:3-6 NKJV Emphasis Added)

I know you are thinking it so let me just say it WOW! How Great is our God! He has already borne our griefs and sorrows. He was Crucified not for his sin, but for ours (Mine). God himself paid the price that each of us rightfully owe for our sin. What more do we need to convince us of God's greatness.

I know that is an "Easter" verse and this is Christmas time, but maybe we need to be reminded that Christ, that precious little baby we celebrate at Christmas, was born to do what Isaiah prophesied 700 years earlier in the above text.

Before the creation of the World (hey there is another example!) God provided for us the plan through which we can be restored to Him. HE PROVIDED! HE PROVIDED! HE PROVIDED! Just say it over and over again. God Provided what we need most. Let's trust Him with the rest.

How Great is Our God!

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Bro. Chad

Friday, July 11, 2008

You Shall be Whole!

Wow, time flies when your having fun! I have now been on field at First Baptist Church for just over 6 weeks now. God is so good!

Today I want to talk about Holiness. It seems to be something I keep "bumping" into in my own study.

Holiness is such a scary word for us. It brings to mind images of sour faces and stern looks. It makes us think of people who don't look like they enjoy life. At least that is how I used to view it, until I really understood it, well at least understood it better.

You see there is a passage of scripture in Psalm 29:2 that describes the "beauty of holiness" Now the truth is I never really thought of holiness as beautiful. How could sour faces be beautiful? We try all types of ways to define holiness. We define it as "separate" or "different" "being set apart" and all of those are fine, but I think there is a better way to understand holiness.

Ray Steadman suggests to find the real meaning of holiness one must return to the original root of the word. Well when you do that you find that holiness is a word derived from the same root word from which we get a wonderful English word "wholeness"

So let me suggest that Holiness means "wholeness". At least I think that gets us a lot closer to what the Biblical writers meant. We all know what "wholeness" is. It is to have all the parts together as they were intended to be, and to have them functioning as they were intended to function.

In Leviticus 20:26 The LORD says to His people: "You shall be Holy to me; for I the Lord am Holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine."

If we dare, substitute the word "whole" for Holy, here is what we find: "You shall be "WHOLE" because I am "WHOLE"

You see there is nothing lacking in God. He is all together and functions perfectly. God is complete; he is Perfect. There is no blemish in Him. He lives in perfect harmony with Himself. He is absolutely what a person ought to be. He is WHOLE! And that is what He demands and desires for us. To have all the parts of our lives together as they were intended to be and to have them/us functioning perfectly. He looks at us in our broken state (and make no mistake about it we are "broken") and He says to us, I want you to be "WHOLE"

That is what we desire. To be whole. To be what God made us to be, with all the parts working in harmony. "COMPLETE, not lacking anything..."

When we view Holiness this way, at least when I began to view holiness this way. Holiness became precious and "beautiful" and something to be desired and not scared of.

Let me challenge you to be WHOLE, to be HOLY! It is God's command and His desire!!!

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Bro. Chad