Monday, February 22, 2010

First Stone

Jack Exum passed away on February 7 at the age of 81. Brother Exum is probably best known for the gospel meetings he held around the country called “Three Unusual Days.” I never met him personally but was privileged a few years ago to watch a video series that included several of his lessons. His wit, wisdom, and illustrative ability made him an engaging and effective communicator.

Brother Exum wrote a column for the local paper in Lake City, Florida, where he lived. In the Sunday edition of February 14, the publisher and editor of the Lake City Reporter, Todd Wilson, reminisced about his relationship with his late friend. Wilson shares the following story that illustrates the heart of this servant of God:

“Jack was quite a salesman, explaining in great detail how important his column was, why it needed a consistent place in the newspaper and how he would never miss a deadline. It was never about him; it was about his message and his readers. He sat in my office talking in his calm, baritone voice, and he smiled, even though he was firm in his position on how he believed his column should be presented to our readers. In one of his large hands, he clutched something that took up most of his palm. At the end of our meeting, he opened his hand and gently placed a large rock on my desk, a present he said he had customized especially for me. It was a brown river rock, odd-shaped with one flat side perfect to sit upright. In a black permanent marker, he had written me a message: ‘Todd…First Stone.’ ‘Every writer should have one of these, so they can think about the impact all words have,’ Jack said. ‘This one’s for you.’ He smiled, thanked me for my time, and excused himself from our meeting. To paraphrase John 8:7: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (

Jack Exum understood that words can be powerful tools for good or evil. Therefore, they should be used very carefully.

God loves you!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Does The Walk Match The Talk?

“John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’ Jesus told them, ‘Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’ ” (Matthew 11:2-6).

I find Jesus’ answer to John’s question here intriguing. When asked to provide evidence for His claim to be the promised Messiah, Jesus doesn’t offer a lengthy discussion of deep theological truths (although He would have been totally capable of doing so). He doesn’t provide a laundry list of all the ancient prophetic predictions concerning the Coming One that found fulfillment in His life and ministry. He doesn’t mention his genealogical links to prominent Hebrew forefathers. He does none of these things. Instead, Jesus simply points to the results of his work: “…the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor…” The greatest evidence He could provide was found in the fulfillment of his mission.

A wise old saying reminds us that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In other words, good food is best identified by how it tastes, not by how often the chef tells you it is good. In like manner, identification of the Annointed One of God is best established by words coupled with actions, not by words alone

My own profession as a follower of Jesus is hollow and useless without the practice to go along with it (John 13:35; Matthew 7:17-20; 12:33; John 15:8). Lord, I pray that you will help my walk to match my talk.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

We live in a culture that is saturated with the excesses of self-promotion. You don’t have to look far to find people who are more than willing to tell you that they are the best athlete, the best actor, the best politician, or the best ____________ on the planet. Publicity agents are hired for the express purpose of keeping their client’s face and name before the public as much as possible. Self-promoters have honed their craft because they have learned that the pinnacle of success in any profession is a precarious perch. They know that there is always a self-promoting newcomer seeking to replace them.

Do you find it difficult to be all you can be for God without surrendering to the desire for self-promotion? When I am tempted to exalt myself, I need to remember verses like those listed above. Peter calls me to humility instead of self-promotion. “But, Peter, you don’t know what it is like in my job. If I humble myself, I will get run over! I will never get ahead!” Peter tackles that kind of anxiety by reminding me of three key facts about God. First, He has the power to protect me. I must remember that my security is grounded in God’s “mighty hand” (i.e. His strength and abilities), not my own. Second, He knows when the time is right for me. He will exalt me “at the proper time.” And, third, He wants what is best for me. I can trust His decisions because He “cares for” me.

May God help us all to learn to trust in Him instead of ourselves. May we seek to promote Him through our words and actions instead of promoting ourselves. May we join Paul in proclaiming: “…to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21)

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Memorial Stones

“Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’ ” So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the LORD your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:1-7).

Let me encourage you to build some memorials to God’s presence in your own life. You can begin now to find various “stones” to use for construction materials. One “stone” may represent a great victory that never would have been possible without God’s help. Another “stone” might be a reminder of when God blessed you with a time of incredible joy and happiness. But remember that not all memorial stones you find will bring a smile to your lips. Some “stones” will be markers of times of pain or grief. Perhaps a particular “stone” will remind you of the death of a loved one and how God carried you through the dark days you faced. Maybe a different “stone” will bring to mind how God provided for you during the loss of your job or some other setback.

Use all of these various “stones” in your life to set up a spiritual monument to God. This marker will stand as a testimony to God’s faithfulness when your own faith is being tested.

God loves you!