Posted tagged ‘God’

My Source of Hope

July 30, 2015

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

In our challenging English language, some people confuse hope with wishful thinking. For example, “I hope the Braves win a spot in the playoffs.” Because hope is a genuine trust or expectation, the use of the term in that example only expresses a wish.

True hope means that we trust our life, present and future, to an object or person. I like sports, and I root for the Braves, but my life and future do not depend on their making the playoffs. I “hope” they do; I “wish” they would, but I have not staked my life on their success.

Among the list of those who have spoken or written on the significance of hope, Thomas Pettepiece wrote, “When there is no hope, there is no life. Without hope we give up – – we lose our will to fight, to trust, to live.” So, it is appropriate that each of us evaluate the source of our hope today.

The trend of our nation these days is to demand personal rights regardless of how it affects others, and to make such demands on the premise of political correctness. These challenges, some recent and others longstanding, may cause us to wonder if there are any existing values that are off limits to special-interest groups and political agendas. Some citizens would claim that even the Constitution itself is being ignored for the sake of personal and political interests.

Are there no traditions valuable enough to save? Are there no absolutes on which we can depend anymore? Can we survive on the philosophy that something is right or correct only when approved by my own selfish, personal standards?

Pettepiece proposed that we cannot hope in ourselves, our technology, our government, our laws, our tenacity, our courage, or our will, though these things are all necessary to conquer today’s woes and provide justice. Our only hope, he declares, is in God alone.

For those of us who agree with him, our hope has come under serious attack over recent months, even years. As the challenges become more frequent and broader in scope, it could be that we lose sight of the Source of our hope, and then hope wanes, as does our will to fight and trust.

Edward Albert Day once wrote of God, “There is nothing that at any time diminishes His perfections, dilutes His redemptive powers…God is always God.”

Who or what is the source of your hope today? What drives you to awaken each morning and face your day with confidence and purpose? The Psalmist proclaimed, “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.” God is always God, and you can trust in Him.

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For Whom the Bell Tolls: a change of heart

June 30, 2015

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

On Father’s Day last week my wife and I attended a church service in South Carolina.  It was a well-orchestrated time of praise and worship that included a celebration of fatherhood and manhood, yet without demeaning the significance of the “fairer” gender.

Uniquely, the service began with a video of a man playing an acoustic guitar, singing from what appeared to be a living room or office.  The song was unfamiliar to me, and I realized the reason as the lyrics unfolded.  They were freshly written to honor the victims of the tragic Bible study shooting in Charleston earlier in the week, and to encourage the families and friends of those who died, as well as all who walk in the faith.  The theme that spoke to my heart was that evil will not triumph where God’s love abounds.

The pastor stood at the conclusion of the song and explained that churches all across South Carolina were ringing their church bells that morning with nine chimes to represent those who were killed in the Bible study shooting.  He called the congregation to prayer and amid the silence clanged the bell nine times in slow, deliberate fashion, and then led us in a prayer for everyone whose lives are impacted by this event.

One would not expect such a somber beginning to fit with the traditional Father’s Day elements of a church service, but I was impressed at the way it all seemed to flow so smoothly and naturally, obviously anointed by divine intention.

Later in the day I saw news coverage of churches in Charleston ringing their bells and gathering for worship.  I appreciated the sentiment, but confess that seeing news reports could not begin to express the spirit of those moments.  In that atmosphere, in those moments, the tragedy became more personal to me than it had earlier in the week.  With each chime echoing across the sanctuary, and reverberating in my heart and mind, I was deeply moved with a mixture of sorrow and celebration; acknowledging the sadness and loss, yet knowing that God would use the crisis for His glory and for the strengthening of the faith community.

The example of wisdom and grace with which the church and its community responded to this act of evil in their midst is a model for our nation, from individual communities and people groups to the high-ranking government officials and group leaders who saw this as another opportunity to win political points rather than offer support for healing.  We witnessed members of various faiths, races, people groups, and political parties come together in Charleston for mutual edification and comfort.  They genuinely cared about each other, and they came with only one agenda: harmoniously seeking God.

If our god is politics, or personal rights, or economic gain – if our god is anything or anyone other than the one true God of Abraham, the One who was and who is and who is to come, The Almighty, then such unity and harmony will never come about.  The writing of new laws or the taking away of freedoms and rights will not cure racism or any other such ills of our culture.  It must come from the heart, not from legislation.

What we witnessed in Charleston is the re-enactment of the love of God through His only Son, portrayed by individuals who have personally experienced the measure of God’s grace and mercy, and who, therefore, cannot help but reciprocate that grace to others.  From the highest official to the common citizen, we each must make this a matter of the heart, for evil will not triumph where the love of God abounds.

I Caught Them All

September 13, 2012

I Caught Them All
by Steven J. Callis

It’s a proud moment for every dad. All three of my children came to the moment in their own respective time, and it was very special each time it happened. I’ve watched other dads enjoy the same kind of moment. What I have discovered over my years of observance is that success is very important to the man standing waist deep in water awaiting that proud moment when his son or daughter gives caution to the wind and leaps with gusto from the side of the pool into his open arms. Success!
I’m not so certain my kids jumped with gusto – probably more with fear and trembling, anxious to end this terrifying ordeal – but they did jump. Interestingly, at home they were like jumping beans! “Kids, stop jumping on the bed.” “Son, don’t jump off the couch, you could get hurt.” “Hey, you kids stop bouncing around in the backseat of the car.”
Then the moment arrives, rules go out the window, and Dad has changed his mind about jumping. But now that he has decided that it’s okay to jump, the kids don’t want to anymore! And it seems that the more dad urges, the more attention is drawn from the bystanders (and byswimmers), which makes the event even more intimidating.
So, why is this moment so important? What difference does it make in the larger scheme of life if junior can or cannot jump off the side of the swimming pool? For me, the significance is in the promise, stated right there in front of God and everybody: “I’ll catch you!” They want to believe me, they really do, but what happens if I don’t make the catch? At this point in their lives, they have not become fully convinced that dad can do absolutely anything. That confidence comes a little later, and seems to be outgrown much too quickly!
What was I saying? I wanted them to know they could count on me to be there when they hit the water. I wanted them to understand that I would do everything in my power to keep them from danger once their feet left the cement. I am glad to say that all three of my kids jumped, and I went three for three in the kid-catching event. Of course, once successful, they needed to jump another 20 or 100 times that day, and I was always there to catch them until they assured me they could do it on their own.
That lesson was not primarily about jumping into a swimming pool. It was a simple lesson that I desired to convey to them about all of life. “You can count on me to be there; I’ll do everything I can to keep you from danger. And sometimes in life, you are going to have to jump. It may be frightening or intimidating, but there are times that staying on the side of the pool is not an option.”
Not only is it my desire and intention to be there for my children, but also to teach them that there is Another One who watches over them with Fatherly care, protection, and provision. Jesus himself declared, “Don’t be anxious about anything. Your heavenly Father will take care of you.” All we have to do is believe and trust Him.