8/22/18 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –

What are some of the things that make you smile? For me, it is when I see pictures of my grandchildren, or when I think of some of the fun things and wonderful places that Judy and I have been able to enjoy. I plan on smiling this Saturday after our softball team wins our softball tournament. I smile at that live lobster just before I put him in the boiling water, knowing that soon and very soon, he will be swimming in lots and lots of butter!

What are some of the things that make you smile? Have you ever wondered what makes God smile? Have you given any thought to what would bring a smile to God’s face? Moses tells Aaron and his sons to say this to the Israelites… ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Numbers 6:24-26

The Psalmist wrote… Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, LORD. Psalm 4:6 and May God be merciful and bless us. May his face smile with favor on us. Interlude Psalm 67:1

I can only speak for myself, but to be honest, I don’t find myself spending a lot of time thinking about what I can do to make God smile. Yet, I believe Paul gave us insight into what would bring a smile to God’s face when he wrote… For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

Want to make God smile, then find out what pleases Him and do it! What a novel idea, just like me, when my children and now grandchildren do things to please me, I smile. When people trust me enough to follow my counsel and advice, and it works, I smile too.

This past weekend Judy and I, as well as people from our church went into the Concord State Prison to put on a weekend prison seminar. Our friend, Dr. Chris Gnanakan came up from Liberty University to teach classes entitled, “Counted Worthy to Suffer.” We looked at the life of Luke, Peter, John, Paul, and Barnabas, and we saw in the life of these men that real Christianity is more than just words; it is a way of life. I believe that God was smiling as Chris use His Word, and then God watched as His Word change people.

… real Christianity is … a way of life.

Dr. Chris Gnanakan

Not only was God smiling, but there was a party going on in heaven as we saw numerous men come to Christ this weekend. And when the challenge was given to find another man to be a Barnabas to, to be an encourager, a mentor to, more than half of the men raised their hand publicly making that commitment to God and to each other. I’m thinking God was smiling pretty big.

At my church, there are always a few empty seats for those that arrive late. Not so in this prison. Because of the size of our prison chapel, we can only accommodate 80 men. Each time we go in, we have more men that sign up to attend than we can allow to come. I believe this brings a smile to God’s face, not only because there are more men that want to come than we have space for, but I think God smiles, because He remembers when the prison was going to cancel this ministry because very few men were attending.

During one of the teaching sessions the chaplain asked to meet with Judy and me. Now before you get the wrong idea, neither one of us were in trouble, nor was he threatening to incarcerate us. He wanted us to consider doing a monthly marriage study for the men as well as host a day retreat each quarter for the men and their wives at the prison. Now I am thinking God is smiling, because Judy and I believe that we have found something that He wants us to do. But what really brought a big smile to God’s face, was the inmate that the chaplain asked us to work with.

It was someone that I went to high school with. I never knew about this story until he relayed it to me a number of years ago when Judy and I first began working in the prison. Unbeknownst to me, this guy really hated me. One day he brought a loaded rifle to school (Now, remember back in the day, when I was going to school, this was not that unusual). Anyway… he brought the loaded gun to school to kill me! He hung around until basketball practice was over that day, and when I came walking out of the gym, he locked me into his sights and pulled the trigger. He said for the first time in his life, and never did it ever happen again, but the gun jammed. He fell to the ground weeping because he failed to kill me.

Since that time, this man has come to Christ and is a leader in the church behind the prison walls. And now the man that tried to kill me will be working with Judy and me to help men in prison mend, restore, and strengthen their marriages. I can only imagine how big God smiled as He looked down and saw us working together to further His work.

So how do you make God smile? Find people in need and then do whatever you can to help those people in need, because when you do, you are doing it for God… “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:34-40

What will you do today to make God smile? You may have given little (if any) thought to making God smile, but the neat thing is, you can start right now. “Find out what pleases the Lord” and do it. Just imagine: YOU making God smile!!