Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What are you determined to know???

As I look forward to the New Year, I was looking up the mentions of the word "resolve" in the Bible on YouVersion. When looking, I realized I was searching under the Amplified Bible, which pulled up 1 Corinthians 2:2. I would like us to take a look at the passage, 1 Corinthians verses 1-5 (this is the KJV)..."And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. (2) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. (4) And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: (5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

Looking to 2009, my prayer is that I am not drawing others to myself, but to Jesus!!! I must daily deny self and the sinful habits that can come so easy when walking in my own power. I like the way verse 2 was brought out in the Amplified version, shown here..."For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified." This just makes it jump out that much more...I need to worry not of the things that are of this world! My mind needs to be on Christ crucified...and realize that because of that crucifixion and resurrection, no matter what happens, therein lies my Hope!

Look at this passage and leave a note about what else jumps out at you...let's truly discuss the subject!!! More to come...

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

How was your 2008?

As I have been thinking about the past year over the past couple days, my mind has been on the abilities of God to use an imperfect being to achieve His perfect will. Many of my friends on Twitter saw a small note about what is to come in the following words in a short note I posted yesterday...

We are at a point in the year where we are all looking back on the past year, and looking forward to what the possibilities are for 2009. How many of you are planning to fall miserably? That was not what my mind was on either, but that is the result nonetheless.

Many times in my life I had bowed my knees and said God, you can have me...although I was still holding a part for myself. "Hey, nobody knows about my personal sins anyway, so it won't hurt, will it?"

I am reminded of the verse found in Romans 7:18..."For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. " Too often, I catch myself counting the works that "I" have done for God...but really, without the gifts He gave, none would be accomplished anyway, right?

I have to remind myself DAILY "that in me dwelleth no good thing"...I also must keep straight that personally I can not perform that which is good.

It has been one year since God chose to open my eyes. A year that has held not only shame, regrets, questions about my future, my calling, and anguish on my family, but also great personal and spiritual growth, a better awareness that the devil is always there...seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), and learning that through some of the greatest "tragedies" in life, come some of the greatest rewards for those who continue in God's call.

I am thankful to have the family, both human and spiritual, that I have...a God who is a God of second, third, fourth, etc chances...and an enhanced view of those around me, who are looking for someone who is real, not a facade on stage and in the public places, but in and out of season.

Our weaknesses prove the strength of the God we serve. Like I have said before..."A superman would have made it look easy. It took an ordinary man to make it look like God"...the world around us is looking for people who don't have all the answers all the be a witness, we must allow ourselves to become more transparent and that does bring vulnerability, but God will bless if we let Him show through us...

As I stated in my Twitter post yesterday afternoon, my goal is to be able to look back each year and see how much I have grown and been used by God. This past year it is obvious, but shouldn't we see that kind of growth each and every year? This year, that is my goal...not a resolution!!!

What are your personal and spiritual goals for 2009? Or do you have resolutions? Is there a difference in your mind? Share your thoughts...

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Know the scriptures???

We have taken the challenge to memorize scripture together, right? I've been thinking about how learning scripture can help us when we talk to those we come in contact with. This evening, I came across a video at BluefishTV that puts it in a very humorous way, but many of us take it so flippantly that we may actually come across like the kid in the helmet...

Once again, let's look at this week's verse in Colossians 3:2..."Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."

Think over it...ask God to speak to you through it...and ask for the opportunity to share it TODAY!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Having a blue Christmas???

I know that there have been so many stressful indicators in the world today...from the markets, the dollar value, housing troubles, name it! But, is our happiness truly set upon the things of this world? If so, our Christmas spirit can be dimmed remarkably.

The verse I think we should look at in times like this is Colossians 3:2, and it will be our memory verse for this week..."Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."

To get a glimpse of the verse, let's look at the text starting in verse 1..."If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

Let's also take a look at the Amplified Bible's translation of these verses..." IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. (3) For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God."

Does that bring it out a bit to you, like it speaks to me? This is telling me to not place my hopes and dreams on the wood, hay and stubble that the world is offering, but rather on "the higher things" that are to be set up above!!! Remember, this Christmas, that Jesus came to live a perfect, sinless life that He could pay the sin debt that you and I are unworthy to pay. God became flesh...suffered persecution and anguish...rejection, shame, spat upon, and crucified...not in vain, but rather that we may live a life victorious!!!

Don't get down because your money doesn't go as far as you would like...As I have stated before your Father in heaven owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10)...His eye is on the sparrow (Luke 12:6 & 7)...consider the lilies (Matt 6:28 & 29)...

And, I will leave you with this verse from Isaiah 40:31..."But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Put your faith in Him and let your strength be renewed, so that whatever comes your way will not bring you down!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Offering

First off, let's look at this week's verse found in Psalm 46:10..."Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Take some time during this Christmas season to simply sit down...take a deep breath...and simply be reminded that the Lord is God. No matter if the gifts are just right or not, He has everything under control!!! Cast all your cares upon Him...

I sent a message out to those of you who follow me on Twitter about this video from worship leader Paul Baloche. This is a Christmas version of his worship anthem "Offering". Check it out and leave any thoughts below. Have a very Merry Christmas season!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Need Some Rest???

What a week it has been!!! This will be the first post of the week, and probably the last, as well. Our annual Christmas musical (cantata) is this Sunday morning, so trying to get all the final touches all ironed out. Plus, my son will be flying in on Saturday morning for Christmas break.

I've been focused the last couple weeks on being more concerned with the reason for the season, rather than worrying about buying gifts. And, as usual, I find myself a bit behind. We never make a huge deal about the gifts, because the Gift that was given for us is what this Christmas season is for.

During the holiday season, we seem to be in such a rush to get this done, that done, call this family member, send these cards out, etc!!! So, the verse that comes to mind for our memory verse of the week is Psalm 46:10..."Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." This verse reminds me, during the Christmas season also, to take a step back, slow down, and remember what the TRUE meaning of this season is. Don't let all the gift buying, decorating and get-togethers bring you down!

I do hope you have a great time with family and friends this year, and pray that this Christmas is one you will remember for years to come! Keep going over the verse...pray that God will speak to you through it...and share it with someone TODAY!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Am I walking alone???

As we move closer to Christmas Day, my mind draws more upon sharing the Gift that was given for us. This morning, I was visited by a family friend of my parents, who has just found that he has cancer. I was amazed by his strength and faith that God had a plan, even though it is such a trying time. One thing he mentioned to me truly stuck. He mentioned how a men's prayer time was held. On the prayer list was his name with cancer beside as the request. He told me..."I told them not to pray for the cancer, but if it be God's will, a miracle occur."

He knows the Great Physician and is confident that a mighty work is being done through him. We shared some stories from the distant past and some from the very near past. We both talked about trials and difficulties in our lives and lives of those we love. And, each tragedy (as we originally perceived them) turned into a great opportunity for ministry.

Why is it that sometimes we have to be at a low point before we look up for the Light? It took the darkest moments in my life to look for the One who is there to carry me. I think of the "Footprints in the Sand" poem most of you have read. In the hard times, we tend to think we are all alone...when in fact He is carrying us through and trying to guide us.

The "chance encounter" that took place today (not really a "chance encounter", but a way for God to speak through another to me in His timing) was an opportunity to re-focus my thoughts and realize that even our darkest hours can be the times when God's light shines through us the brightest. Don't forget that the struggles we make it through, make us stronger and also give us something to share with others. Those who think they have no hope aren't looking for "perfect Christians", but rather real people that have gone through struggles like they are...and we have the Hope that they are so desperately in search of...let's share it TODAY!!!

Let's look again at this week's memory verse from Psalm 84:10..."For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." How are you doing at the memorization so far? Has anyone kept with it? Anybody learned all of them? Have you challenged anyone else to join you?

Keep reading through this week's verse...pray that it will speak to you...ask for someone to share it with...then share it...God will provide opportunities if we will take Him up on them!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Excitement is in the air!!!

Alright, last night turned into one of those times. You know, something you think will be easy that ends up occupying more time than you care to spend. Yeah, I heard how changing a template and theme on my blog would be a cinch, hah! What I planned to do in minutes, turned into hours. However, I am pleased with the outcome and hope you enjoy the new layout. That said, I am very glad it's behind me, for now...I guess bloggers never truly quit tweeking a site, do they?

Okay, before we get into today's thoughts, let's look at this week's verse is found in Psalm 84:10..."For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

Pray that God will use this verse to speak to you...say it to yourself throughout each day...ask for opportunities to share it...and then, share it...God will bless if you are willing to get a little uncomfortable!

Our house is definitely sparkling right now with all the Christmas decor you could hope for (actually, my wife is still begging me to put the lights outside on the bushes). Our 3 year-old is asking everyday..."how long 'til Christmas?" Of course, we are now telling her two weeks, but what does two weeks mean to a child? Then again, when we tell her about the true meaning of Christmas does she truly grasp it?

I am reminded of the verse found in 1 Corinthians 13:11..."When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

I know that doesn't seem like a great Christmas season thought, but am I still acting like a child, begging for my "piece of the pie"? Or am I putting my things on more mature things? Do I spend my days thinking about how great it would be to have an iPhone, iPod, Playstation 3, Wii, X-box, flatscreen HDTV, and things like that, or am I keeping my mind on Christ's gift to me and how I can share that gift with someone else? Brings to mind that old saying..."it's better to give than receive", right?

This year, let's put aside our wants, and share the love of Christ with people who need His love now more than ever!!! Don't let this season of joy and hope pass without sharing the Hope that you have with someone else...

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Good will toward men...

You know, in the ministry, many times there are decisions to be made. Not always the easy ones, either. It seems as if the church is one of the places where people "take the gloves off" and forget sometimes to be Christ-like. Sometimes, things get said "off the cuff" or without being thought through. It's at these times that others feelings are sacrificed. Why is it? Why do we feel like we have the right to tear each other down? My favorite is when somebody tears another down and then says, "I only said that out of love". It doesn't feel like love does it?

This time of year can be such a fragile time for many. I know of many who have difficulty during this season because of the recent loss of loved ones and some who are estranged from family and friends, either because of jobs or duty or whatever it may be. Shouldn't this time of year be the time when we make a concentrated effort to show the love of Christ? I am going to do my best to show love and not judgement, will you?

Let's look at this weeks verse again from Psalm 84:10..."For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

What does this verse say to you? What meaning does it hold? It reminds me that the luxuries that are offered here are only to fulfill the selfish desires of the flesh, and to find true meaning, I need look no farther than the will of my heavenly Father. As we talked about yesterday, the affairs of this world are only for temporary satisfaction...not really satisfaction, but almost like a sedation or numbing of our desires temporarily.

Keep going over the verse and pray that it will speak to and through you...pray for an opportunity to share it with someone who needs to hear it...God will provide the opportunity, if we are diligent to take full advantage of the calling He gives us!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

What am I celebrating???

I know this time of year brings many memories to each of us of times gone by, with dreams of Santa bringing that special something, the baking cookies, setting out milk, and other things like that. The problem with that is many people know nothing different. I am one that likes the decorations and lights, garland, I put wrapping paper on our inside doors of the house, the whole nine yards, if you will.

My question today is: Is my celebration of Christmas about the One Who came to give life, or about the one (myself) who wants the most?

For many years, it has unquestionably been about me, and it is still hard to pull back from thinking about what I want under the tree this year! Do you have the same struggles? Aren't we raised to think about what WE want out of life? Isn't that what it's supposed to be about? If you answer yes to that, then there is a meaningless, empty life in your future...much like the life I had for many years.

It was a search for what made me feel good, what made me laugh, what thrills I could achieve, what money I could make, what toys I had...ME, ME, ME!!!

Last night, our church had the annual "Hanging of the Green" service. It is a service unlike any I had ever attended during my years before coming here. The significance of this service is that rather than just hanging lights, decorating a tree, lighting Advent candles, and having poinsettias set out - the historical reason for them is shared.

This is a service that all can be a part of...from Children's Choir, Youth Choir, special singers, spoken parts, and of course the Christmas story is read from Luke 2:1-20. If you've never been to a "Hanging of the Green" service, it might change your view of the season we celebrate and bring new meaning when you decorate your tree and follow other historic traditions.

I want to share my favorite reading from our service about the history of the Christmas tree. It goes like this...

"In our church, the tree is decorated with Chrismons, each being a symbol of Christ. Some use Greek letters that spell His name; others symbolize the various roles that He played. All are made in white and gold, symbolizing His purity and His kingship.

The most famous story about the early use of the evergreen tree at Christmas centers around Martin Luther. As the story goes, he walked through the forest one starry night, with snow covering the ground, and he marveled at the beauty of the starlight as it shone upon the branches of the fir trees. When he tried to tell his family of the glory and beauty of the forest, they failed to comprehend what he had seen. He then brought a pine tree into the house and placed candles upon it to represent the twinkling of the stars."

I pray that your outlook on this Christmas season will be different than before along with me. The season isn't about you or me, but rather about what we are because of the God who became flesh so that we might live an abundant life forever!

Our verse for this week is one we should have done a long time ago. It has great meaning and significance in my life. As the post has stated it's not about what I want, but rather about what can be done through me because of my willingness to be used. This verse is the theme of my blog and comes from Psalm 84:10..."For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

This verse reminds me to keep focus. I would rather be doing the menial, trivial things in the house of my God - than to be highly praised out of His will!!! I pray that you will take this verse to can truly change how you view yourself and how you view things around you. As I always say...pray that God will speak to you through the verse...share it with challenged to see what God will do if we are willing to take His words into our hearts this week and every day, week, month and year to come!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Share some good news!!!

Wednesday night, our pastor was sharing as we continue in our study of Romans. The part of the lesson that stuck out to me began in verse 11 of chapter 1..."For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; (12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (13) Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles."

Here Paul is talking to his Roman brethren (like I really talk with such language, right?), and looking forward to visiting with them, that he could share with them the gifts he has received from the Spirit. Let's look at how the Amplified version states verse 12..."That is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine." Paul is talking about how they could be strengthened, encouraged and comforted by each other's faith...not Paul's, not theirs...but glory in the works that God is doing through them all, corporately.

Too many times, I find myself worn down because of what I perceive as insurmountable tasks in my vocational and personal life. When I hear how someone else is doing, in spite of their hectic schedule and worries of life, I seem to slow down, take a step back, and realize my life isn't quite as mad as I thought it was. I need to slow down sometimes, and as I've stated many times before...look at Psalm 46:10..."Be still and know that I am God"...just give it to Him to handle, instead of carrying the weight myself.

Then, back in Romans, verse 13 states that I should be looking forward to partnering with the believers around me or even far away. Paul says he looks forward to sharing fruit among them, "even as among other Gentiles"...I think he's talking about sharing the testimony with others (partnering). To me, this is the simplest act of missions...partnering together to reach others. I don't have to go it alone...and neither do you!

Let's take another look at this week's memorization verse, found in 1 John 4:10..."Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Keep going over it...ask God to speak though His Word...take the time to share it with someone...and let's continue to seek what God has for us...

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

O How He Loves Us

Many times I sit around and think, "how can the God who created the heavens and earth love someone like me"? Do you ever wonder why God loves us? I also wonder if I really grasp the meaning of the word love...does anyone really know what love is? The sappy song from the 80's runs through my mind..."I wanna know what love is, I want You to show me"...yes, I did change it a bit, because instead of asking one of you to show me, I want to learn from the One who created it.

Our verse for this week talk about love, as well. Let's take a look at 1 John 4:10..."Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

I think about the love that God showed for us...not a spoken love, telling us how He cares for us...but a doing love, putting His words to action. Because of His love for us, He sent Jesus to earth, not just to walk around and teach, but then to die for our sins...not for the sins He had in His life, because there were none. He gave His perfect life to ransom you and me.

My mind is now taken to the old chorus we've sung for ages, "O How He Loves You and Me". Remember the part..."He gave His life, what more could He give"? Think about that in a parent's viewpoint...if you have kids, can you imagine giving one as a sacrifice for someone on death row? That's essentially what God did for us. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for sinners who have a death give us life!!!

Let's take a look at the end of John 10:10..."I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Some other translations talk about living to the full. Do I live life abundantly, or do I live in a shell? Not only did His love redeem me by Jesus' blood, but gave me freedom that many will never know!

My challenge from this not only know the love that God has, but to show it to those around me. Are you up for that?

Look at the verse for this week again...pray God will speak to you through it...and share what He gives with someone else...

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who You Got???

I have heard all the commotion about who should be in and who shouldn', let your voice be heard!!! Who do you think should be matched up in the BCS Championship game??? Please, be nice...I moderate comments, so no language, please!!!

'Tis the Season...

As I look forward to the week to come, I am reminded of the reason for this holiday season. It's not about getting the shiniest gifts for everyone on our shopping lists, either! I have always made fun of those poor folks that get up at 4:00 AM on the morning after Thanksgiving (otherwise known as Black Friday), but this year, I was one of those saps! I swore it wouldn't ever happen, but I guess that's why they say to never say never. Anyway, unlike most of those other folks, I was back home sleeping by around 7:30 or 8:00. We did get a few bargains, but I think next year, we will wait until later. What did you do on Black Friday? Did you get up and fight through the hustle-and-bustle?

Let's take a look at our memory verses from the past weeks before we get to this week's new verse. First off is last week's verse from 1 Chronicles 16:34..."O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." Next up, let's look at Romans 8:1 & 2..."There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." The next verse comes from Ephesians 5:15 & 16..."See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." And our final review verse comes from John 3:30..."He must increase, but I must decrease." How many of you have those memorized already? Anybody care to step up and tell us how many you have? Don't be ashamed, learning scripture is something to be proud of!!!

For this week, let's look at 1 John 4:10..."Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." So many times, we think about all the love we show, but that is nothing without the love of God FIRST!!! Too many times, I tend to think of the works I have been doing, rather than what God has been allowing to be done through me...does that sound familiar? If I am doing the works in my power, then most likely they are not being done right or to the fullest potential!

This year, during the Christmas season, I want to keep my mind on what God did by sending Jesus to earth, to suffer rejection by a lost and dying world. Without the hope that is found in Him, my life would have no meaning...

Please review the verse for this week...ask God to speak to you with the words...share them with someone else...and let's see what God will do through our faithfulness to learning His Word!!!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today...