Tag Archives: wonder

Can you top that?

Kim and I went to see illusionist David Copperfield years ago. In a career that has spanned over 40 years, his illusions have included making a Learjet disappear, escaping from Alcatraz, levitating over the Grand Canyon, and making the Statue of Liberty vanish. He is the best-known and most commercially successful magician in history. He even owns a chain of islands in the Bahamas!

The challenge for people like Copperfield is that the next illusion has to be better than the last one. He has to be more sensational. He has to cause consternation at higher levels than ever before. He wants to go beyond “How did he do that?”

Our featured song this week was written by George Beverly Shea, the man best known for his singing at Billy Graham crusades for many years. The text for the worship service is Psalm 8. Both Scripture and song extol the magnificence of the Creator – the One who brought the universe into being and breathed life into humans.

“There’s the wonder of sunset at evening, the wonder of sunrise I see;

But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is the wonder that God loves me.”

“O Lord, our Lord, Your majestic name fills the earth!”

The songwriter and the psalmist knew that God didn’t have to top anything. He didn’t have to come up with a new trick. As our knowledge of the universe expands, we realize more and more that there is no end to the wonder of God’s creation. As we grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord, we realize we will never fully explore the depths of His love for us.

Oh, the wonder of it all!

The Cup of Wonder

In his marvelous collection of meditations on the Lord’s Supper, Lloyd John Ogilvie wrote of the wine of astonishment, citing Psalm 60. The setting was one of staggering events, both personally and corporately. Hard times had sent the people reeling. Yet there was a message beyond the judgment the nation had experienced. God promised rescue and salvation. In verse 4, we find these magnificent words: “But You have raised a banner for those who honor You – a rallying point in the face of attack.”

Think about that. Almighty God has raised a banner of protection and victory over His beloved. Whatever you and I face, we belong to God and “With His help we will do mighty things” (v. 12).

You are invited to sit under the banner this Sunday. We gather at His table, a vivid reminder of what Christ did to rescue us. The elements of bread and cup are symbols of the price He paid for our salvation.

November will be a month to remember:

  • Sunday morning, November 2 – Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in worship. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead!
  • The weekend of November 7-9 – “All In” Leadership Retreat with special guest Dr. Doug Dortch – see details in our newsletter
  • Sunday morning, November 9 – Dr. Dortch preaching, parent-child dedication for the Shaw family
  • Sunday evening, November 9 – Our first “2nd Sunday, Live at Wieuca” will take place in the Peachtree Room, 6:00 to 7:30 – an evening of fun, fellowship, food, and surprises
  • Sunday, November 16 – Worship in the PEACHTREE ROOM, parent-child dedication for the Barros family, Light lunch served, Quarterly Conference to include Year 3 Strategic Plan presentation
  • Launch of Operation Christmas Child with collection Sunday on November 23

Thanksgiving affords us the significant opportunity to express our gratitude for the blessings we enjoy. For those to whom much has been given, much should be expected. Let’s pray together how we can give of our time, talent, and treasure in this wonderful season.

God, the Artist

A little boy was asked to describe God. Without hesitation, he responded, “God is an artist.”
“Really,” said his teacher, “How do you know that?”

“It’s in the prayer … ‘Our Father, who does art in heaven.’”

Makes perfect sense. The magnificent artistry required to paint a sunrise or construct a flower is constantly on display. The wonders of nature provide our God with an incredible canvas of possibilities. The sad thing is that we are so busy we seldom take the time to notice.

With the beauty and intricacy of the universe, God saved His best work for the crown of His creation. In most works of art, the painter or sculptor inserts his or her name or identifies the work with some recognizable symbol.

In His finest work, God placed His own image. When He created humans, He made them in His own image (Genesis 1:26). Paul wrote that God not only created us, He also recreated us as His masterpieces …”He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do all the things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

His creative genius should continue to wow us. Eugene was six when he wrote: “Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made on Tuesday. That was cool!

I saw lightning bugs last night. I haven’t seen them for a long time. Did they just show up or did I take the time to watch? Lord, forgive me for the things I miss because I’m just too busy.

Make a list. Write down ten things you notice today about creation that gives you joy or wonder or gratitude. Spend some time thanking God that He gave you another day; He gave you eyes to see and ears to hear; He gave you family and friends to cherish; He gave you hope and peace and grace and love; He gave His Son.

This amazing God deserves more than our notice; He merits our praise.

  • “Dear God, Count me in. Your friend, Herbie.”
  • “Dear God, Your book has a lot of zip to it. Your reader, Jimmie.”
  • “Dear God, Do You like what You do?” Sharon
  • “Dear God, Thank You for giving me my dad and mother, and their children, and dog and fish. Thank You for giving us the nice world to live in and eyes to see it and what we eat and brains to think. Thank You for everything. Love, Maxine.”
  • “Dear God, You’re nice. Your friend, Allen.”

 

The Astonishing Courage of Ordinary Men

When was the last time you astonished someone with your courage?  Or astonished anyone with anything, for that matter? When was the last time you let yourself be astonished by someone else?

People these days can be tough to impress, much less astonish. We like to think of ourselves as nearly unflappable. It’s fashionable to take everything in stride with a world-weary sense of been-there, done-that detachment.

We look down on those who are too easily impressed, thinking that they are naïve or “wet behind the ears.” Our knowing looks through wizened eyes say, “I remember being that way. You’ll grow out of it soon enough.” Conversely, we’ve been taught to admire an even-keeled stoicism, seeing this as a sign of being mature and established.

We would do better, though, to recover a healthy sense of awe and wonder. The Christian life demands both a willingness to be astonished at Christ’s presence in our lives and a willingness to surprise others with our allegiance to God.

In Acts 3, Peter and John went out to tell people about Jesus and happened upon a man who couldn’t walk. He asked Peter for money, and Peter said he didn’t have any money. But, he said, I do have Christ and Christ can make you walk again.  So Peter helped the man to his feet, AND THE MAN GOT UP AND WALKED! Then, the Bible tells us, he followed Peter and John into the temple running and jumping and praising God (Acts 3:1-10).

If we stop right there, we have a run of the mill healing story that demonstrates the power of Jesus in much the same way many other healing stories do. But the leaders of the temple didn’t like the fact that Peter and John were demonstrating such power in the name of Jesus. So they threw Peter and John in jail and put them on trial to ask them by whose authority they were healing and teaching.  The apostles answered that they were teaching and healing in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Even under pressure from the leaders of the temple to change their story, they maintained their allegiance to Jesus.

And the Bible says that the courage they exhibited in sticking to their story “astonished” all those who were listening. In other words, when the crowds realized that these were just ordinary people, that there was nothing special about them except that they had been with Jesus, they were amazed. 

What jumps out in this story is that the questioners took it in stride that a lame beggar had been healed; that a man who couldn’t walk before was jumping around in the temple.  But they were astonished that two normal guys would display such courage in their loyalty to Christ.

Maybe the temple leaders had seen the David Blaine special or watched Criss Angel. Maybe they’d been to David Copperfield’s show. Maybe they’d seen magic tricks. Perhaps they’d experienced the unexplainable before. In any case, they were a tough crowd to impress.

But they’d never seen anything like this; two ordinary people standing up to those in power, willing to keep telling inconvenient truths; two men whose courage caused people to “take note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Impressing other people with the gospel doesn’t require miraculous signs; but it does require ordinary people to display uncommon courage; the courage to display our allegiance to God even when it’s inconvenient; the courage to be unashamedly impressed by Christ in an unflappable, even-keeled world. And it might just require (even though I know it’s out of fashion) that we set out to tell other people about Jesus every once in a while as Peter and John did.

Speaking of things that may or may not be in fashion today, if you’re looking for a personal mantra or life purpose statement try this one on for size: “Live your life in such a way that others will take note that you have been with Jesus.”  If you live that way, I promise you, you’ll astonish nearly everyone you meet.

 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” -Acts 4:13

A Minute with Mark – Learning to Crawl

970757_10100888142597017_161276303_nFor the past few days, I was able to spend time with our grandchildren in the rain-soaked North Carolina mountains. There was plenty of inside time with three preschoolers in a cabin that got a little smaller as the week went by!

I was fascinated watching our 9 month old grandson.  He is discovering how to propel himself along the floor. Two things came to mind – 1. It’s amazing what you find that close to the floor and 2. If we had strapped some Velcro to his belly, we wouldn’t need the vacuum cleaner.

He drags with his arms and pushes with his feet. One day soon he’ll figure out how to lift himself onto his knees. Then he’ll go even faster and get into more stuff. Then I’ll turn around and he’s playing T-ball, driving a car, graduating from college. It goes by so fast.

I think about the world he will encounter. He will face things I could never have imagined. He will need a strong foundation of faith and vibrant relationships with godly people. He will a need a healthy self-awareness and confidence in his skills and knowledge. He will need people around him who believe in him, pull for him, hold him accountable, and love him no matter what.

Right now, he’s learning to crawl. I want his life to be full of simple pleasures and the wonder of learning. When we knew he was on the way, we started praying for him, That will always be our greatest gift to him. Too soon, he’ll be walking and running, growing up before our eyes. We’ll pray even more for God’s grace, protection, and wisdom in his life.