Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Angel Among Us

Donna Scott Rogers was born on December 1, 1969. I had the pleasure of working with Donna the past 5 ½ years through our youth football and cheer program. She was the Cheer Board President. She impacted countless little girls from her service to our cheer program as well as coaching several squads. Her service to the Lord included her work with the pre-school and children’s ministry. Can you imagine the impact she has and will continue to have on the Kingdom? Her light will outlive all of us. She was both a sheep and a lion. For those that knew her, you knew she would take care of business, but in a compassionate and loving way.

Donna was on staff at FBC Alabaster until just a couple of months ago. We had one of our daughters friends over last night and I overheard her speak of Donna and how important she must have been at FBC because she had her own office! Have you ever heard that a good leader must be a servant first? Well, that was Donna. A servant. I clearly can recall seeing her pull up at our office the same day she had a treatment. Sick, tired, weathered, stressed, she still unloaded boxes of toys she wanted to donate to Toys for Tots. Selfless. Yesterday, she knew the time was near for her to be called home. She asked a friend of hers to come over and paint her fingernails because, as she put it, “I can’t go meet Jesus with my nails looking like this.” She was prepared.

Donna passed from this life the morning of July 30, 2009.

I am certain her family is aching tonight, the first night they don’t have her at home. Even in their great loss they know this incredible wife, mom, daughter and friend is dancing in the streets of Heaven tonight. Can you imagine her welcoming committee at the gates? Wow.

To the woman of God; the loving wife; the incredible mom; the enduring friend; mentor to thousands; light in a dark world; loyal family advocate: tonight we all miss you, Donna. We will not remember you because of your illness. We will remember you because of how you lived. I would love to have been there to hear the Lord tell you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We look forward to seeing you again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making Much of Him

Before I went to bed this morning, my goal today was to make much of Him. I was going to be very intentional with every move I made so all would know that He is King. That He is the Creator.

But just when I least expected Him to make much of me.. well, He did.

I have been in the job hunting market for several weeks now. Not really a comfortable place to be, considering everything that is going on in the global economy. But He never promised us worldly comfort, did He? Especially if we are actively in/seeking His will. We have recently experienced strong resistance from our own family regarding us following His lead.

I walked into the front door of a very well-respected Christian School this morning with the idea of planting a seed. I knew enrollment had to be down because of all the layoffs and such, especially in the white-collar sector. I have a Christ-Sister that is working in administration there – so, obviously, that helped with getting me face-to-face with the CEO. This gentleman has supported Matthew 25 Ministries in the past – both financially as well as in prayer. So I knew of him and likewise.

One hour into the interview, he offered me a newly-created position and I begin work in two days. And to think that my intent today was to make much of Him. We can’t out-do God! We can’t out-give God! We can’t out-love God! But we can praise and worship and give thanks, especially when He makes much of us.

So tonight we will celebrate with our entire family and with our dear, dear friends – members of our covenant family. We will celebrate our God and how he makes so much of us.

Will you join me in giving the Lord praise?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two Words

John 3:16. Probably one of the most recognizable verses of scripture in the world. The man who Jesus shared these forever-changing words with is Nicodemus. I did as much research on Nicodemus as I could and I still know very little of him, other than what is mentioned in John Chapter 3 and again in John 7.

Nicodemus had a very impressive resume’. He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin and “Israel’s teacher” (John 3:10). He was impressive. At the top of the religious ladder, so to speak. And two words tell me that he came down from the ladder to walk the streets, searching for answers: at night. He comes at night. When John later tells of Nicodemus, he doesn’t tell of his view from the top of the ladder of religious supremacy. He tells of his character: “ Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.” (John 19:39).

I focused on Nicodemus as a man. Not so much as a religious leader and a person who was held in such high regard from a knowledge perspective. This wealthy religious leader, Israel’s teacher, came down from the ivory tower to search for Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem – at night. I imagine him slipping around in the shadows, trying so hard to go un-noticed. He couldn’t afford for citizens to see him; to know he was searching for answers. Gossip could hurt him. He had much to lose… Israel’s teacher, his position on the ruling council of the Sanhedrin, his peers. But he still decided to go.

Nicodemus heard of the teaching of this Jesus. He heard of the fit Jesus pitched when He saw the temple had been turned into a market. He heard of Jesus’ claims - “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days.” Who could explain such claims, such words? Israel asked its teacher. But he had no answers. So he came at night. But at least he came.

Imagine the meeting. By all accounts, when the Pharisees and Jesus had encounters, it usually wasn’t over coffee at the local Starbucks. Those encounters usually involved Jesus setting their butts straight. Not comfortable for the Pharisees, I imagine. I know how it feels to be called out by Him.

The man who visited Jesus at night was told the most revealing eternal truth ever known to humankind. Can you imagine?

Jesus was straightforward. He gave Nicodemus answers. He gives us answers. Jesus was willing to meet Nicodemus at night – and I am certain he was very tired from sharing the Gospel all day with hundreds, if not thousands. But that is the way He is. He makes time for us. Day or night. Religious leader or prostitute. Just as we are, exactly where we are. Even at night.

I never want to be ashamed to seek Him during the daylight. I want my actions to be a beacon of light. Lord knows I have been like Nocodemus. I sought Him at night, in the shadows. Afraid of what it would cost me if others knew I needed to know more. To be more. What about you? Are you willing to seek Him, regardless of time of day and who knows? I want to look into the eyes of Jesus. And I want Him to see into mine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

You Have A Visitor

At The Home of Martha and Mary

Luke 10: 38-42 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

For the past month or so, I have been able to sit. All my adult life has been spent, for the most part, getting after it and pouring all I am into work. Mostly career, but also pouring myself into ‘good work.’ I must admit it has been very fulfilling to be able to look at things from this perspective – from the feet of our Savior. Why in the world hadn’t I been able to sit here before? It has been my choice all along.

Instead of spending all my time in the business of preparing for the visit, now I have chosen to recognize the King has long been here. I recognize the choice to be in full devotion to Christ Jesus. I am choosing to spend time with Him, not just for Him.

Lord, forgive me for being so distracted in preparations and drawn so little by your presence.

“….but only one thing is needed.”

He wants us to come from the kitchen and spend time in adoration at His feet. Will you come?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hidden Lesson

As I woke this morning, I couldn’t help but watch Ashley, my wife, as she lay sleeping. I found myself reflecting on her service to me as her husband and her service to our children. Ashley has always put other people before herself. She has a servants heart. I so love that about her! Looking at her made me proud to be her husband. Loving her makes me feel so full.

As I began to stir from the bed, the idea came to me to offer her a tribute through this blog. To share with anyone whose eyes would see this how wonderful a person she is. I wanted to tell anyone who would listen how unique she is. How talented she is. She is the face of our family. When someone hears “The Vann’s”, they see her. I am proud for this woman to represent my family name. I love her so much.

When I began reading scripture, seeking a proper way to honor her this morning, I came across the story of Jesus, May and Martha. Just as Ashley would have it, my intent of this post was changed. I intended to honor her with words. Instead, my focus shifted to honoring our Father. It is quite simple, much like Ashley. Time spent honoring God this morning was actually honoring all that I love. I honored my precious wife by honoring, praising and spending time with God.

Ashley, as you lay sleeping at this moment, know that I had planned to honor you with words this morning. But, as God has done more often than not lately, He has molded something different from me. But, then again, honoring Him means more to you than anything else I can do.

That is just how you are.

Thank you for showing me that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take this hallway..

A couple of weeks ago we carried a team of people to the Atlanta International Airport. Their destination? Swaziland. If you have been in any modern airport, I am sure you have noticed the really wide corridors. Especially the ones in and around check-in. As we neared Gate A-7, we noticed a small, soft-spoken security officer trying to direct people down an obscure, narrow hallway. The throngs of people walking through the main corridor continued about their business – very few people listened to the officer and even fewer followed his instruction: “This is a security checkpoint. Trust me. If you do not follow this hallway, you will not be allowed to enter this area.” He kept saying to the people passing by, “Trust me.” We even noticed people stopping to curiously look down the narrow hallway, then look back in the direction they were walking – then continue on their way. Some of the people who didn’t follow the officer’s instructions later came back to where they were told they should go. I still don’t know where all those other people went. According to our new friend, they must have left the airport because they sure weren’t going to be able to access the gate area unless they went down this hallway. Who knows? They may still be aimlessly wandering the wide corridors of the Atlanta airport.
There have been many times when I felt as thought I was aimlessly wandering through life. I walked by a Man who told me that if I wanted to reach my destination that I needed to go down a path less traveled. He told me the route I was taking was very wide and seemingly easy to travel. But He also told me that the wide and easy path would lead to destruction. I believe we all go down the wrong path from time to time. I am so thankful today that God remains faithful to us. He is still standing at the crossroads, ready to lead us down the path that leads to eternal life.

Matthew 7: 13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only few find it.”

Life is like a road. Most of us will travel a road to get somewhere today. There are many streets that you could have taken, but you wouldn't have ended up where your destination is. You had to follow a certain path to get where you are going. If you'd taken a different road, you probably would have ended up somewhere else.

Jesus said that the choices we make in life are like picking which road to take. He describes two roads. One is wide, and flat, and easy with a wide gate at the end. The other is narrow, and rugged, and difficult, with a narrow opening at its end. Most people take the easy road, and few take the narrow one. But Jesus said that the wide and easy road leads to destruction, and the straight and narrow road leads to eternal life.

When we have to make choices in life, we have to base our decisions on more than what is easiest. Often what seems easiest or most appealing is the worst choice we can make. Satan wants us to sin, so he makes sin look good. But we have to know where our decisions will lead us. We have to look at the consequences of our decisions.

We can't take the easy road to get to heaven, we have to follow the narrow road. Some people think they can do both. Is it possible to drive on two different roads at the same time? Is it possible to drive in two different directions? There are times we think we can do wrong and be right. We think they can serve God, but do everything we want to do. Jesus said this is impossible. We have to decide to follow God, and put His will first.

Jesus is standing at the gate saying, “Trust me.” What road will you take today?