Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

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So Much to Praise God For

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.

Psalm 98:4 (NIV)


Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, visited a church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, nearly a year after the nation’s devastating earthquake. The church’s building consisted of a tent made from white tarps and duct tape, pitched in the midst of a sprawling camp for thousands of people still homeless from the quake.

In the front row of that church sat six amputees ranging in age from 6 to 60. They were clapping and smiling as they sang song after song and lifted their prayers to God. The worship was full of hope and thanksgiving to the Lord.

No one was singing louder or praying more fervently than Demosi Louphine, a 32-year-old unemployed single mother of two. During the earthquake, a collapsed building crushed her right arm and left leg. After four days, both limbs had to be amputated, but she was leading the choir, standing on her prosthesis and lifting her one hand high in praise to God.

Following the service, Stearns met Demosi and her two daughters, ages 8 and 10, who were living in a tent just five feet tall and perhaps eight feet wide. She had lost her job, her home, and two limbs, but she was deeply grateful because God spared her life on January 12, 2010. “He brought me back like Lazarus, giving me the gift of life,” says Demosi, who believes she survived the devastating quake for two reasons: to raise her girls and to serve her Lord for a few more years.

Richard Stearns comments: “It makes no sense to me as an ‘entitled American’ who complains at the smallest inconveniences—a clogged drain or a slow wi-fi connection in my home. Yet here in this place, many people who had lost everything expressed nothing but praise.” Then he continues, “They have so much more to offer me than I to them. I feel pity and sadness for them, but it is they who might better pity me for the shallowness of my own walk with Christ.”

On this holiday weekend, those of us who are Americans have much to give thanks and praise for. Let’s take a lesson from Demosi Louphine and praise God for His abundant blessings and the gift of life.

Your Big Decisions

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

So many people in the crowd that waved branches on Palm Sunday and shouted “Hosanna!” were nowhere to be found when Jesus was crucified just a few days later.

In a spiritual sense, many of us are currently in that crowd with our palm branches waving, with shouts of adoration and celebration for our King. But will we still be adoring and celebrating when the big decisions in life come our way?

As you chart your future and think about your plans, as you nurse and give attention to your emotions and make critical decisions—where does Jesus stand in all of it? Is He still the centerpiece of your focus?

There is no doubt you have big decisions in life. Anointed lives always have big decisions associated with big gifts and big opportunities. You have crucial choices to make. You have an important life to steward. You have valuable relationships to nurture. You have limited time to live this life.

Like a vapor, life is here and then it transitions from temporality to eternality—so the things you decide have to count. You don't have time to waste. It has to be the best decision and you can’t make your choices lightly.

I can’t give you answers to the questions and choices before you, because your faith needs to do that. But before you grab a palm branch and before you start the festive cry of “Hosanna,” answer first this question: Is Jesus in the center of your decision-making?

Every decision should be filtered through Jesus. That is how you love your enemies and accept those who might otherwise be pushed away. That is how you choose ministry over other opportunities and make decisions that are in obedience to God. That is how you move forward when you have less data than you would like. That is how you walk by faith and not by sight.

Trust Him, and then take one step at a time. You don't need to know all the details in order to make the big decision before you—because you know enough about Him to trust that He is going to work it out for your good and for His glory.

Put Jesus at the center of your decision-making.


Consult the Maker

 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

I came across the story of a pipe organ that stopped working in a beautiful cathedral in a small Swiss village. This pipe organ had pleased listeners for fifty years, and visitors would come from all around to hear its music. But something went wrong with the organ and its notes became discordant. Because the organ had been custom-made, no one knew how to fix it. They called in experts and musicians to repair it, but none could.

Finally, they gave up.

After some time, an old man came to visit the cathedral and asked why the pipe organ wasn’t being used. When they told him it was broken, he asked if he could try to repair it. The staff figured they had nothing to lose, so they gave him permission to work on it. The old man tinkered with the organ for two full days, with barely a note coming from the organ.

On the third day, everyone was astonished to hear beautiful music coming from the organ. The whole village was drawn to the cathedral in amazement at the wonderful sounds emanating from it.

Astonished, one of the listeners asked the old man how he was able to fix it when the world’s experts had not been able to. The man answered, “It was I who built this organ fifty years ago. I created it, and now I have restored it.”

In the same way, the Lord can always fix what He has made. And since He made us, He knows how to fix us. Sin has tried to destroy our lives. Our lives are no longer good and perfect. They cannot give out beautiful music. But God sent His Son into this world to bring restoration to us and turn our discordant notes to melodies.

Maybe you’ve spent countless years consulting the “experts” of this world regarding the things that are broken in your life. I want to remind you that it is God who made you, and He can fix you.

Where Does Jesus Fit In?

 “ But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Mark 6:33 (NKJV)

Where does Jesus fit into your search for meaning? Where does the Lord fit into the myriad of conversations you have in your own head about decisions and options and dreams and burdens and weights and gifts and blessings? As you define your life, and as you edit that definition based on maturation and experience and growth and exposures and hurts and joys, where does Jesus fit into all of that content which creates the meaning for your life? As you wrestle with the questions that require answers, is Jesus enough?

I'm talking about questions such as these:

Do I stay here or transition to the new thing? Do I sit still or do I go? Do I try again or do I quit? Do I keep the wall up or open myself up one more time? Do I love, even though the last time I loved my love got crushed? Do I take the leap or do I wait and watch? How do I handle the me that I have become? And what does the me that I have been contribute to the shaping of this me that I am? How much of who I was needs to stay in my past, and how much should move forward to who I will yet become? What am I taking with me right now? What does it all mean?

Your aging, your activity, your connections, your interests, your hurts, your value, your control versus your surrender, and the ambiguity that is created by all of these things is asking you one real salient question:

Where exactly does Jesus fit into your search for meaning?

Is He centered? Is He central enough that all unanswered questions are covered by your trust in His plan for your life? Because that is what it all boils down to, doesn't it?

Does Jesus fit in the center of your life amidst the lack of details and the absence of certainty?

The Strength of Forgiveness

 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)


Your faith grows by counting blessings. Your faith grows by identifying and acknowledging your gifts. Your faith grows by sharing your witness and hearing the eternal Word of God. Your faith grows by nurturing your belief and exercising your devotion to religious practice.

Your faith grows through all of these things—but can I tell you how else your faith grows? It also grows by the depth at which you accept, affirm, acknowledge, and rejoice over how forgiven you really are.

Your sins have been washed away. Your penalty has been covered at Jesus’ expense. His blood was offered so that yours did not have to be. You and I live forgiven.

There is so much power in simply affirming that fact: You and I have been forgiven! 

That fact calls not only for love of God, but for love of self. In fact, I suggest that you can't love God or neighbor without loving yourself. Maybe that's why Scripture teaches that you should love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Salvation, and the redemption that is released from it, brings forth an awareness of who you truly are in God. This self-realization comes as you affirm and accept that you have been forgiven. Forgiveness helps you to accept yourself, to get over the you that needed to grow and mature and change and be transformed. It helps you to get over the fact that you had to be rescued. It helps you realize how far you wandered from the fold of God.

You live with a lot of amazing stuff that Jesus’ presence has extended to your life, but I dare you to find something stronger than the forgiveness that comes with salvation. You can't find anything that is stronger than living forgiven by God.