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August 13 / August 20 / August 27

August 6, 2017 - Everyday

Can you believe it is August already? Summer is starting to end. Students are getting ready to go back to school, Labor Day is just around the corner, and something strange is happening... stores are playing Christmas music and filling their aisles with Christmas things, including Christmas trees. Yikes! That's crazy, right? Hmmm... maybe not. Follow with me as I try to make sense of these seemingly fooling activities. As we continue to suffer through this still very hot summer, let me meander a bit with you and try to connect some dots. Did you know that the month of August was named after the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus who ruled from 27BC to AD14? And of course, you know him as the ruler that oversaw the empire during the birth of Jesus... which is why we celebrate "Christmas!" So it makes all the sense to dream about Christmas in 100 degree heat and five months earlier in August, right? At least that's my story a nd I am sticking to it.

I know that for most of our country, people really are not thinking about the most important birth in history until the day after Thanksgiving. Suddenly, Christmas is all that matters, and for the next five weeks it's Christmas on every corner. But the real meaning of Christmas matters every single day of the year. It is the birth of Jesus, the Son of God so that mankind can have the possibility of having a personal relationship with God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) That's what Christmas is all about. This message is not limited by the seasons of the year. It is not just December 25th. In my car I have a Christmas CD, and I confess that I listen to it every once in a while all year long. Let me suggest that you do that too and see if it doesn't help make your hot August rush hour drive home a bit more joyful.

August 13, 2017 - Good and Worthwhile

I can't believe when we arrived back to Houston this past week, we thought, "Wow, it's so cool here." Yup, we left a place hotter than Houston, TX in August. That place would be Sacramento. Most of the time we were there, it was in the mid 100's. That was hot... of course they will always add, "But there's no humidity." I was walking in my son's parkin glot without shoes one day and almost got third degree burns. That was really hot. While there, we went to another place that was called 85 degree... Café. We heard that there was one in Houston, so we decided to try the one in Sacramento. I have to say that Taro bun was amazing. It was so good we went back another time to fill up with more bakery goods. They were kind of expensive, but well worth it. I think I am going to be visiting that bakery on Bellaire many more times in the future.

When something is good and worthwhile, it is not hard to get someone to come and experience it. Being a pastor and former church planter, I am always looking at how we can reach people with the gospel and bring them into the fellowship of our church. This is a passion I have and the purpose of my life. Sometimes I think a lot of people go to church out of guilt or false expectations. Their motives are not good and their longevity is not going to last. Maybe that's why we see such tremendous exodus of people from church attendance. 3,500 people leave the church every day in America, 1.2 million each year (The Fuller Institute). There is only so much you can do to force, guilt, or manipulate people, especially the youths into going to church if they don't want to. That's why I am always intrigued by the statement in Acts 2: 47, "...And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Every day the church increased in numbers, not decreased. People were drawn to it. Why? Because the gospel was powerful and impacting. Lives were being affected and changed, so people wanted it and they came. The church and her message of salvation were good and worthwhile for people to come discover and then embrace. Guess what, it is still the same today. CBC and our message are just as good and just as worthwhile as 2,000 years ago. Let's invite the folks to come and experience it.

August 20, 2017 - Pray for Our Youth and Educators

What a busy couple of weeks we have been in! Everybody is getting ready for "back to school" moments. You who are parents with school aged children are busy getting school supplies, clothes, and a hundred other things to prepare your children for another year of education. If you are in college, you are packing up, registering for your fall semester classes and spending your last few summer days with friends. Some of you are teachers and you are swamped with orientations and preparations. In CBC, we have been getting ready for the first year of Trinity Classical School to begin. So much excitement, anticipation and... maybe a bit of anxiety too. Barb and I remember those days when our boys were school aged and we were involved in all these things. We knew how important those formative years were for them. We understood that the best 6 hours of their lives every day were often in the hands of people we did not know well and may not have our values at heart. They would be training our sons' young minds. We endeavored to do the best we can for them. For us, we sent them to Christian private schools even though it was far too expensive for us. Some of you do the same while others home school your children. Most send them to public schools hoping that they will grow well intellectually and personally. But ultimately we must trust in the Lord for them as they grow, mature, and develop their inner values and character as persons created and loved by God.

Let me encourage you to keep our young people in prayer. Also, will you pray so that our parents, teachers and leaders can be successful in raising these young ones? Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." What a tremendous task requiring dedication and efforts, but the end results are so awesome worthwhile. I believe that our church can be a force for positive influence for our youths if we together determine to encourage and pray for them all the time. Will you join me in this endeavor?

August 27, 2017 - God Always Has Something Better

As I am writing, this I am watching the weather channel about Harvey. It is now a Tropical Depression possibly becoming even a hurricane by the time you are reading this. Suddenly all our well made plans for this weekend are up in the air so to speak. Possible 60+ mph winds and 15 inches of rain will pretty much change most plans for anyone. Normal people have a semblance of a schedule in life where plans play a big part. While some may want to have a bit of spontaneity, we all need an element of predictability in order to operate effectively. Isn't it impossible to live with constant surprises and last minute changes all the time? One of my favorite passages comes from Ecclesiastes where Solomon writes about times for different things. Here in Ecclesiastes 3:1 he writes, "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven..." It seems that God has given to us a plan for life. And since he is a good God, that plan must be a good plan. But you may say there are so many difficult and bad things that happen to us... like a hurricane. How can they be good? They ruin our plans and may even ruin our lives. Wouldn't it be better if God will remove all those terrible events and allow us to just glide through life without much pains and sufferings? Hmmm, that's not an easy question to answer.

I was reading how diamonds are made. 1) Bury an ugly coal 100 miles into Earth. 2) Heat to about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. 3) Squeeze under pressure of 725,000 pounds per square inch. And when it cools, a beautiful diamond pops out. If a diamond can speak, it will say that this is a terrible experience to go through. But that's how diamonds are made and it is perhaps the most precious natural resource on earth. We can try to live life with lots of plans, but God always has something better. He will bring them to pass for us and sometimes they may come with pain. Nevertheless, if we walk with him step by step, he will make our lives beautiful. So let the hurricanes come. God has all things in his hands. And he is a good God.