Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Time...

Today, I want to take a few moments and reflect upon the things that I am most thankful for in my life. That includes my family, friends, church and many others!

First off, I am thankful for a Savior that doesn’t ask for us to clean up to come into our lives. He is there with arms open wide, waiting for the sinner to see the need of an all-sufficient Savior. I am thankful for His forgiveness, even when others in our lives would have written us off because of our past failures. Like 1 John 1:9 states… “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is no qualifying factor here…it doesn’t say if this is the first time you’ve made that mistake…just confess and He forgives.

The next thing I would share being thankful for is my family. I am thankful to have been raised up in a Christian home, where we learned what the Bible taught and how to apply that to our lives. Though many times I strayed, the teachings I was brought up with stayed as a reminder of what was good and right. I am also blessed beyond measure to have parents who have always been there, regardless of the trouble I was in, and were willing to dust me off and point me the right direction, whether that was what I wanted to hear or not.

My wife and children are a blessing that I cannot believe God found favor enough in me to bless me with. I can’t believe that I actually have a teenager, who will be in 9th grade next year. I also can’t believe that my little girl is soon to be five. Time flies by so quickly. And the love of my life, Lindsey, who has gone through her share of trials and tribulations in this thing we call marriage. Many times she could have folded under the pressures, but has stayed strong and committed to what God has brought together. I thank the Lord for you everyday, my love!

I am also thankful for the numerous friends I have across the world. Over the past couple years, I have been able to re-connect with many of them. They have been a constant encouragement, even by simply writing a short note via Facebook, Twitter, text message, email, or even a card in the mail. Philippians 1:3 states it perfectly... "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you"

There are numerous things I am thankful for in our church. First and foremost is the openness to let God’s will be made evident and lead in every ministry opportunity that presents itself. The main goal of every venture we come into is…“Will this help lead others to Christ?” Another point that I am thankful for is the willingness to welcome the “unlovable” and reach out to the “untouchable”. That was how Jesus loved and we, to so many out there, are the only version of Jesus they will ever see.

I am also truly thankful to be ministering under a pastor who is not afraid to preach what God lays upon his heart. He also lives the words that he preaches. In a world that says “Do as I say and not as I do”, it is a blessing to see a God-centered life showing how to live by his daily example.

I am thankful also for a congregation who forgives and shields one another in their times of greatest need. I have so much to be thankful for…and am blessed to have been placed where God has led me.

Now, I would like to hear from you…what do you have to be thankful for? Who has been there for you when you needed them? Please take a few moments and leave a short comment of Thanksgiving to those who matter most to you.
And, as always, please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So Routine...

Over the past two weeks, our Singles' Sunday School class has been working through the Chase the Goose study book by Mark Batterson. For more information, you can click here. This Sunday, we were talking about routines in our lives and whether or not they were just keeping us in a rut, or actually growing us as we seek to follow the Holy Spirit.

One of the passages in the Bible that deals directly with how to deal with breaks in "our plans" is found in Mark 10:46-52. In this passage, Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho as they continued in their ministry when their trip was interrupted by blind Bartimaeus.

Here's the passage..."And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, sat by the highway side begging. (47) And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. (48) And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. (49) And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. (50) And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. (51) And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. (52) And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."

This is a perfect example of how we should respond to changes in our daily routine, right? I know that's a bit of a stretch, but what happens when you get stopped by someone in need of help jump-starting their car in a parking lot when you're rushing to a get-together??? What about the accident that slows you on your way to work in the morning??? Do we deal with such setbacks gracefully or does it immediately infuriate us???

I fail in this miserably on most lack of patience gets the best of me most times. When I think about those "delays" we run into, I am reminded of the story of those who were slowed on their way to work at the World Trade Center on 9-11-01. I am sure when those interruptions occurred, many of them were frustrated and impatient, like I would have been. But, looking back, I am sure they realize that God's timing was perfect...there was a reason!

Now, I am not saying that every single thing that breaks our routine will be a life-changing experience, but I am simply asking are we able to be used if the opportunity presents itself...or has our fallen nature gotten the best of us already?

Let's try something there something you are doing in "routine" that could be adapted differently? Sometimes when we are stuck in the routines, we miss out on true leading because we are more worried about the whens and wheres than we are the Who, right? Sometimes a slight change can produce new results as we come out of our comfort zone and open up and allow the Holy Spirit to deal with us afresh and anew.

I pray that you have a blessed day...and please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Do I Fear???

I know I can't be the only one having to deal with issues of insecurity and fears at multiple times in these days. You know, we can also be assured that what we are facing, even the greatest of New and Old Testament saints have battled with as well. The fears that we allow to chew us up and spit us out were overwhelming for even David, who was called a man after God's own heart(Acts 13:22)...right? As I was searching for a reference on fear, forsake, and hope I came across the following passage and wanted include the entire chapter for your reading today. Please take the time to read it in its entirety!

Psalm 27..."The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (2) When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. (3) Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. (4) One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. (5) For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. (6) And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord. (7) Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. (8) When thou saidst , Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. (9) Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. (10) When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. (11) Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. (12) Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. (13) I had fainted , unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (14) Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."`

As I read through this passage this morning, the first thing that jumped off the page was with faith in the Lord, why should I fear things this world may have? If God is God of my life, what is there to worry about? I know it's easy to say, but hard to live. I get in the "me" mode and how I'm going to take care of things, instead of relying upon the One who the winds and seas obey.

In verse 4, my eyes were opened as well...the Amplified version puts it this way..." One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple."

Umm, no that doesn't sound like what one thing I would ask God for. Honestly...when I think of one thing to ask the Lord, would I truly be willing to ask to know Him and serve Him and meditate, consider and inquire in His temple? Unfortunately, if I was honest, I would fail at making that first and foremost...MOST days.

Continuing on, we come into verse 5, where we are reminded that we are hidden in Christ to be helped in our times of trouble. We are set upon a rock. I am reminded of the Church Camp I attended as a youth, Silver State in Sedalia, CO. there was a giant boulder that we would go sit on to "get away" from things. You know, when God sets us upon a rock, His rock would be high and above any "escape" we could find for ourselves. What we need is to place it into His hands.

When we take heed to what is being taught here, we will be able to rejoice as verse 6 talks about. A worship experience that is REAL, not staged! Have you noticed how people who have been beaten and bruised and wearied by the pains of this world, to be raised back again by the power of the Lord? When they have come out of the storm...they rejoice with a LOUD thanks to God for all He has done.

As we read further, David asks for the Lord to shield him against his enemies. In verse 12, he talks about the false witnesses that are working against him. Do you face struggles at work??? Leisure??? Home??? Do people try to twist and turn your words, deeds, and intents??? Does it seem like someone is always bringing everything you do into question???

Look at verse 13, as we near the end of this chapter..."I had fainted , unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." I had fainted...UNLESS...David knew the pain of being talked about, ridiculed, slandered, spoken of in hate, you name it. There was always someone ready to "cast a stone" at his every wrongdoing. BUT, he knew and believed he would see the goodness of the Lord worked out in his life. I am reminded of the definition of the word believe that Bro. Boyd always uses...rely on, cling to, trust in. What do you believe in? When you say you believe in the Lord and His you truly rely on, cling to and trust in them?

I don't think a verse could sum up the chapter any better than verse 14..."Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Wait on the Lord...don't get ahead of Him...He will strengthen your heart...and then we are reminded yet again to wait.

That can be the most difficult part of it all. We may endure hardships that last longer than WE want to deal with, but wait on the Lord's perfect timing. And remember the verse that will give hope in the most dire of circumstances...Hebrews 13:5b..."for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

Also, remember when going through those times of tribulation what is found in John 16:33..."These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

I pray that this passage has brought a peace or calm in your stormy day. It has eased my troubled heart and mind to reflect upon the words found in the Scripture this morning.

As always, please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9-11...

I found this photo on Flickr that was taken just two days before the attack on the World Trade Center.

Last year, we got a few responses back, but I would like to hear what you think of when you think about September 11, 2001.

What were you doing?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear 9-11?

When I think of 9-11, I think about a time in which we as a nation and a people were so deep into our own selfish attempts that we thought of no one but ourselves. The tragedy of that day seemed to make us reach out again for those hurting. It made us take notice of how precious life is. How important each moment is. It brings to mind how we should be there to lend a hand when needed. It brought out a new charitable nature and also brought a long-forgotten pride in our country.

I'll never forget that drive in the truck listening to the radio when they broke through and announced the first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, or the sight of the second plane crashing...and I will never forget the feeling when the towers came down. But, I also know that I have a hope no matter what comes in this life! That Hope is why we must reach out day in and day out. Sharing the story of Jesus in our lives, so that others won't have to walk around in the fear of this world's issues.

Remember, as Titus 2:13 states, we are..."Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"

I would like to ask everyone to say a prayer for the families that lost loved ones on that day. Every year, they have this reminder, because of the magnitude of the event. Please remember them...and if you know one who personally is grieving over this, reach out to them today...maybe a call, a short email, whatever you think would help...

Also, please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fearless - book review

My latest book review in association with the Thomas Nelson Publishers Book Review Bloggers program is the latest Max Lucado release, Fearless. The subtitle to the book states the main point of the entire work rather profoundly...Imagine Your Life Without Fear.

With all that we face in these troubled woes, raising kids, gas prices, job instability...the list goes on and on...many folks live with fear as a normal part of their existance. But, Max Lucado works through this book giving example after example how we can live a productive Christian life without succumbing to the fears of those without hope.

In the book, Max covers many of the fears that each of us face from time to time…from feelings of insignificance, death, wars, violence, parenting issues, providing for our families, and even making God angry with us. He talks us through the fears that may take hold of our lives by opening up the Word of God and letting it dispel the fears that many would allow to rule their lives.

I found this book, as with all Lucado’s other previous works, to be a smooth read. It brought forth hope through even what many may see as the most dire circumstances we may face in our lives. I would recommend this book to anyone as necessary reading. Thanks Max, for another great book!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Are You Available???

I have begun reading into the new book by Francis Chan entitled Forgotten God. Be on the lookout for a review in the coming week. The whole premise of the book is how we talk about Jesus and the Father, but too often discount the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Thus, the image to your left!

In the trailer for the book, Francis looks at Acts 4:13, which we will first view in the KJV..."Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." As you know, I like to see the way the Amplified Bible brings out the meaning in passages, and this one is no different..."Now when they saw the boldness and unfettered eloquence of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and untrained in the schools [common men with no educational advantages], they marveled; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus."

I realize we no longer can say we have physically been with Jesus, but can others around us see that we have been touched by the Spirit? Are we walking a walk that exemplifies the Lord? Are our actions, words, thought, intents, and desires showing forth the leading of the Holy Spirit? If you are like me...there is no way you would want yours published for others to see. It's a daily battle to hand over control of self...and a battle that too often ends in defeat.

But, there is hope! If you notice what was said of these in the passage...they weren't doctoral students, highly-skilled promoters...they were unlearned, untrained, and even ignorant men. But, because the Master's hand had been made evident in them, great and mighty things were done through them. We aren't called because of what we have to offer, but because of what God can do through a willing vessel.

I am willing to be used today...are you? Pray with me..."Lord, I want You to have the reigns in my life. I want to take a step back, so you can step up. May others see You in my every word and deed. May not only my thoughts but also the things I look upon be of the purest nature. My prayer is to be available and open for you to work through so I might reach others for you."

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

Friday, August 28, 2009

It Is Well video illustration

Has been a tough couple weeks, with multiple funerals and situations that have come into our lives and those around us. Somedays, it seems like such a chore to be joyful in all we go through. I ran across this illustration and thought it was exactly what I needed...and thought maybe it would touch your heart too.

Many of you have sung the song, but do you have any idea what circumstances lead to it's being written? May this be an inspiration to your day!!!

Can you think of a time of tribulation you look back on that drew you closer in your relationship or walk with God? Share your story...

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do you think you stand?

Are we getting a bit full of ourselves??? Has pride taken over our Christian walk??? How about a confidence that we can handle anything that comes our way??? True, confidence is a good thing in the right respects, as long as we glory or brag on ourselves.

The verses that come to mind on this subject are found in 1 Corinthians 10:12 & 13 (KJV)..."Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

Obviously, in this passage we are warned about being too proud of ourselves. It's at times of self-reliance that we allow the doors to be opened in our life to outside influences we wouldn't normally allow. In other words, we let our guard down. Verse 13 does give us a hope in the Lord that no matter what comes our way, it is not going to be something that only you have faced. Temptations are common to man (everyone) and with the temptations we face, God has promised to be faithful and also will make a way to escape from that temptation.

I like the way the Amplified Bible translates the passage..."Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]. (13) For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently."

I love how it states He will ALWAYS provide a way out, which He will. And, its great to know that we will have a means of escape to a landing place. Do you have a safe landing place apart from God??? Are you too dependent upon self to make all decisions??? Are you willing to turn and ask the Lord for help turning from your temptations???

Read the passage again in both the version you feel comfortable with. Pray that the Lord will give you strength to fight through the temptations you face. Ask for His place of safe landing to be made evident.

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

You know, many times when I get books to review, I open them with no thought on how this book could impact me personally or others. The Noticer, however, changed my mind rather quickly. This is the third book review in my being part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger Program.

Andy Andrews draws from not only personal experience, but also tells such a deep story of a small town affected by a simple, humble man named Jones. Jones isn't an outspoken bullying sort, but rather someone who can give some good advice, as someone who can see from afar off. Regardless of the circumstances we face in life, we could all use the help of someone looking in from "the outside", and this is exactly the help Jones lends to this community.

Andy's writing style is easy-to-read and grabs you right off the bat. I am now looking forward to reading more from this author that I just got introduced to. I would recommend this book for all to read. No matter what you're going through, someone notices and may just be willing to offer perspective that could change your life!!!

God's Chisel...

This morning, I have been sifting through email and checked out some links to different sites, including Tangle. I came across a video from The Skit Guys, entitled "God's Chisel". It hit home quite well, because I too often am wanting God to work in my life, but only in my time and on what I see that needs work. The quote from the video that sticks out came when Tommy said how he had let God down so many times, but God's reply was along the lines of..."You didn't let me down because you weren't holding me up!" Check out this video...

Ephesians 2:10 states..."For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." If we are His workmanship, how can we truly think we have our best interests in mind. We know our ways are not His ways. May we be willing to let God take control over what needs to be included or chiseled away from our lives today!!!

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

Worthy IS the Lamb!!!

I have to admit that I was inspired to share this post by viewing a post over at WorldPrayer. Personally, I feel this is one of the most deeply touching worship songs in recent memory. If you've ever seen the movie "Passion of the Christ" left changed forever. This video puts the song to the backdrop of clips from the movie. How can we feel big or like God is honored to have us serving for Him when we put into perspective what Christ did for us?

The passage that comes to mind when I think of my unworthiness is found in Isaiah 6:5..."Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." When we truly get a glimpse of God in His glory, we will truly bow and worship and say "Worthy is the Lamb"!!! I pray that this video touches you like it did me...

What thoughts come to your mind when seeing the images accompanied by the song? Please share them with each other!

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Great Eight by Scott Hamilton

As a member of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program, I have once again had the opportunity to read a high-quality book by one of my favorite people. In this book, Scott Hamilton keys in on the eight practices he has used to be happy in life, on and off of the ice. Most would remember Scott as the Olympic ice skater, or the enthusiastic ice skating announcer on TV. But, most wouldn't remember any of the trials he has faced in life.

In this book, Scott goes into detail about his battles with cancer, brain tumors, and disease, while still keeping front and foremost...happy. His upbeat and positive characteristics can do nothing but inspire a person to be more happy about whatever circumstances you may face. Scott uses one of the most well-known skating moves, the figure 8 (thus the title), as his focus on being happy. The eight chapters focus on different techniques you can use to keep yourself upbeat and your eyes on the prize. Scott's faith shows forth throughout the book and is sure to touch your heart.

This book is a must-read and a hard book to set down once opened. I recommend it for everyone, especially if you are going through trials that seem to overwhelm you...great book!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blogging hiatus

I have several folks who have wondered about the lack of new content recently. Well, here's how it happens...summer is upon us and the responsibilities for my time lie in various areas, which all trump the time I would normally devote to writing. It will be occasional, at best, for the next month or so. Then, things should return to a somewhat normal schedule. Thanks for your interest and don't hesitate to drop me an email or leave a prayer request...I will continue to monitor the site, though the time to facilitate discussion will be cut back. May you have a blessed day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crazy Love study, Chapter 1...

We started our first week doing a small-group study of Crazy Love by Francis Chan. The first chapter is entitled "stop praying"...many people saw warning signs going up when they read that, I know. It's not what you think! It's about not being in a rut...not doing the ususal, ritualistic, same old, same old. We need to be focusing on a more relational conversation, while also focusing on what and who God really is. He's not just a guy we should talk to as an equal, without a reverence and fear.

What I would like to do over the course of this study is open up a forum for you to share each week what the specific chapters meant and how they spoke to your heart personally. I am not being paid by any publishers and only put a link to purchase the book so that interested individuals can become a part of what we are part of studying. Leave your thoughts...

Monday, May 4, 2009

An observation and question...

Last night as we got ready to begin our services, I received a text with some information I would rather not get, especially when preparing to be in front of the church leading music. Immediately the passage found in Philippians 4:6 & 7 came to mind..."Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7)And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

We are told to not get over-excited for anything, but rather hand it over to the Lord to handle. The human, male part of me wanted to stop and try to fix everything. But, just as the verse 7 states, a peace came over as I prayed it into God's hands. When something comes into your life at the "inopportune" moment, what scripture gives you peace? When has Satan attacked you lately? If he hasn't, is there a reason he's leaving you alone? Satan won't hinder someone not about the Father's business, right?

Share a thought or two and let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Be Happy!!!

We've been going over several things dealing with struggles the past week or so and thought I would bring a post with more of something we should be happy with. I've been browsing through some sites of friends the past couple days and found my inspiration at Russ Hutto's site. He has some free wallpaper that hit me. The March free paper was a canvas with Romans 5:8 on it, beautifully done, I might add.

So, today I want to look at Romans 5:8-11..."But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so , but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

What hope that brings!!! First off, though we were sinners...can anyone argue that fact for themselves? I think not and would also make sure we realize we are STILL sinners, but sinners saved by grace. Yet Christ died for the whole lot of us, right? Verse 9 continues telling us that through being justified by his blood, we are saved from wrath through him. This isn't saying we are freed from any negative ever occurring in our lives, but rather from an eternal wrath. Continuing on, we are reminded that if we were reconciled while yet enemies, how much more we shall glory in him being atoned by his blood.

I am reminded of the song "Friend of God" in which the lyrics speak so plainly about how amazing it is that God would be mindful of me and is thinking of me, and wants to be my friend. Am I the only one who can't sing that song without a huge smile coming across my face???

For some strange reason, the chorus of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin came to mind when I was reading the passage in Romans. (Yes, I am definitely a child of the 80's) We don't have to live in worry and fear, be happy knowing that we have the Hope that so many are searching for!!!

What verse, passage, or maybe even song do you draw strength from? I'd like to see some of you share a bit of encouragement today!!! Jump into the conversation...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Say a Prayer...

I have spent quite a bit of time in prayer today as I review through the Twitterverse (universe of Twitter, that is). I have been praying for several requests, including a family who lost 4 members of their family this morning locally, the upcoming Compassion Bloggers trip to India, praise and worship services this coming weekend, and the many friends who are learning at Catalyst West Coast.

I am amazed at how folks are willing to share prayer concerns with "complete strangers" through Twitter. I have recently become involved in the @worldprayr group and have been helping in moderation and posting on the home site found here.

We need to be mindful that prayer that moves the heart of God can move the hand of God. I know I have heard Bro. Boyd say that many times, though I can't remember who he references with learning it from. The verse that comes to mind is found in James 5:16..."Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." If we will but take our petitions before the Lord we could see miraculous works done in Jesus' name!!!

Today, I wanted to open the gates for everyone to share a request (public or unspoken) that we could all lift before the Lord on each other's behalf.

I want to lift up a couple of requests myself...first for the Dale Welch family, as Dale's cancer has progressed and he is in his last days with us. May God comfort the family and allow us to open our arms in Christ's love to them. Also, The Howard family, as sister Howard is nearing life's end.

Finally, I would like to lift the Flood family up. The father and 3 children were killd this morning when their vehicle ran a stop sign and were hit by a semi. The mother was airlifted to OKC this morning.

I would ask that you pray for these and pray for me as I pray for you...

Please drop a request and take a moment to word a prayer for those who have posted before you...thanks!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Am I Carrying the Cross???

I was looking at some illustration videos and came across this one at tangle. I loved the music by Switchfoot and had seen the illustration before, but thought it was a good reminder...

Think on theses words from Luke 9:23..."And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Do we REALLY carry the cross daily? Or do we only carry what fits into OUR plan?

Share your thoughts, what does this video bring to your mind?

Let me know if you have any prayer requests that I can word on your behalf today!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There Is A Hope!!!

After the passage we covered yesterday, I got thinking about the hope we have for our lives. We don't have to be in the low points of life to realize it, though. I was searching for a passage of hope to share and the chapters we have been studying on Wednesday nights came to mind.

Let's look at Romans 8:31-39..."What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Right off the bat, we are given one of the greatest lines ever..."If God be for us, who can be against us?". How many times has that line been used in church fellowships or gatherings as a "battle cry", if you will, to offset the thought of insecurity? And, rightfully so...with Him on our side, why should we be insecure in anything?

As we continue, we are reminded that if God were willing to give His Son on the cross, why would He withhold good from us? Through the blood of Christ, we have a freedom that many will never know. Is this a freedom to live a life of sin? Look at Romans 6:15..."What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." It is a freedom FROM a life of sin, right?

Verse 33 gives us a peace in that when others are hurling their insults and accusations at us for the lives we live, remember..."It is God that justifieth".

Skip down to the last couple there anything that we can do that will separate us from the love of Christ? Can you name something? Anything? Right...that's assurance!!!

How can you apply these verses to your life today? How have they been an encouragement to you? Share your thoughts...

And, please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Your Faith Being Tried???

Last night in our services, we read through several passages of Scripture, but one stuck out that I wanted to share with you today.

It is found in James 1:2-7..."My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this , that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (6) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."

I know it seems like an odd thing to find pleasure in, but when we are tried and tested, we are doing so much of the time because of the stand we have in Christ. If we are living on "Easy Street", so to speak, maybe we should look at our lives a bit closer. We are promised that life will be tough and people will not accept us because of our walk with Christ.

However, we can glory that the trials we face will grow our faith, strength and patience. And notice what verse 4 states..."that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." When we rely on Christ to see us through these times, we realize that with Him we are complete. Like Psalm 23 states..."The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." or the Amplified states it like this..."THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack." We shall lack nothing!!! It doesn't get much better, does it?

Continuing on in verse 5, we see that if we lack in wisdom we can ask God and will receive. Verses 6 and 7 does put forth the stipulation in receiving that wisdom, that we ask in an unwavering faith. For if we ask in unbelief, we shall not receive!

I found this passage comforting and eye-opening...because if I am lacking, all I have to do is ask the Lord for the guidance and HE WILL PROVIDE!!! The key to all of this is to ask in faith. May we allow the struggles we are facing today to make us stronger, more complete, and more perfect in our walk with Christ!

Take the time to share what God is doing in your life with someone else! And, as always, please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Worship Wednesday

A couple weeks ago, my friend and fellow Worship Leader, Jeff Miller asked me to write a guest post entitled "What Worship Means to Me" for his Worship Wednesday feature at his personal blog, Consuming Worship. You can find the post here. While at this site, take some time and check things out and feel free to subscribe. I've known Jeff for over 16 years (don't hold that against him) and really appreciate his stand for the Lord!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Love of Jesus...

As we come upon Easter, I find myself thinking about the love of Jesus upon a cruel world who wanted nothing to do with Him. Not only did He give His life as a ransom for our eternal souls, but became a vital part of the lives He encountered. I am reminded of the occasion when his friend, Lazarus died.

Look at the passage found in John 11:33-36..."When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, (34) And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. (35) Jesus wept. (36) Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!"

The thing that sticks out is in verse 36..."Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!"

What do people say when they see our encounters with friends? Do they see the love we have or maybe what we can gain from the other? What about those who aren't our "friends or inner circle"? Shouldn't people see the love of Jesus in us when we deal with them as well?

I want us to look at Matthew 5:44-46..."But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" So, if we only show love to those we are friends with, then we are showing nothing but human nature. It takes a true love to show love to even the "unloveable"!!!

We haven't been called to reach only those who can help us, but rather to preach the gospel to all nations... My prayer is that I will reach beyond my comfort zone to those who are in need. I was deeply touched by the pictures Mark Hall of Casting Crowns sent on TwitPic of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Some folks with the big names wouldn't get their hands "dirty" by visiting a reservation with such poverty. They would say it's a missionary's job to reach them. I have a much greater respect for them because of their willingness to go and teach and reach souls for Christ. Hats off, Casting Crowns!!!

What ways can you show the love of Christ to others? Maybe a note to someone who's hurting...a kind word to that teller who's struggling...a meal for the family who just experienced tragedy...whatever it is, find a way to reach out!!!

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter: Just Invite

Easter is known as one of the best times of year to invite folks to join us in worship. People are more receptive to coming into our fellowships than at almost any other time of year. Are we asking people to come, though? Or, do we just sit idly by and hope they will find our church? I found this video at Beamer Films that puts it simply...Just Invite!

I challenge each of us to be inviting folks "like there's no tomorrow"...because we don't have the promise of tomorrow. If the statistics say that the unchurched are more receptive to visit on Easter, then let's be inviting them NOW!!! Will you invite someone today? Join me and JUST INVITE!!!

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

Monday, April 6, 2009

Do We Adapt to our Environment???

Many times I sit and think about how things are being done and why it is we do them the way we do. I realize that our traditions, comforts and just "that's the way we've always done it" play a great part in it, but are those reasons to continue down the paths we are on?

Has there been a time when you were doing something "the way it's always been done" when you realized maybe there could be a different way of doing it? Do you feel like you have been led by the Spirit to maybe go that direction? Or is it something that you have a tendency or personal affection towards?

I'm not asking you to question everything you do or don't, but rather think if we are doing things for the right reasons. While I was reading a bit ago, I came across the verse found in Psalms 90:17..."Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" This made me stop and ask the Lord to be upon the work I am doing for His glory and also started my mind racing with past ideas that I was afraid to speak out, because it was different than the way it's always been done or uncomfortable to some. I am starting to realize that through my Bible reading, praying and just getting to know "non-Christians" that those things we've always done can be a turn off to outsiders.

I am reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23..."For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. (20)To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. (21)To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. (22) To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (23)I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."

This doesn't ask us to change the message of Christ we share, but I think it might allow us to make changes in presentations that would be a more comfortable environment for "outsiders", right? It says that Paul would make himself like those he was ministering to, so that "I might save some"...isn't that the key of what we are striving towards? If it was okay in the days of Paul to adapt, then who's to say it won't work for this generation?

What are your thoughts on this? Please share with me...

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who Am I Working For???

As I sit praying and thinking about the vision God has for me in the coming days, weeks, months and years...I am struck by the thought that if the work being done is of my doing, then the labor is futile. In Psalm 127:1, the KJV version states..."Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

So, what this says to me is that if I am laboring on my own, nothing tangible will come of it, right? Not only do we need to be working in His plan, but also be watching to see what He sets before us.

I am reminded of a blog post I read yesterday by Kyle Campos at his blog Our Rising Sound. He was talking about how horrible the whole musical part of worship went and how down he was about it, but during the invitation how humbled he was because he was reminded how it's not about what we do, how good we perform or sound - but rather what He is doing through us.

Isn't that the way we see things too often? We let our selfish pride stand in the way of God working through us...(realize that when I say we, I include myself). Our special on Sunday morning was sung by my wife Lindsey. She sang Laura Story's arrangement of "Mighty to Save". I am reminded of the line..."take me as you find me, all my fears and failures...fill my life again"

Think about those words today...remind's not about you!!! Lay your fears and failures at His feet and ask Him to fill you again...I am doing it as I write these words. Ask for the opportunity to share and ask for the discernment to say the words that will show Him...

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How complicated must we make it???

As I focus on the coming weeks that lead to Easter, I have been searching for something that tells about the true meaning of the season. I came across the following video originally at Beamer Films, then again at tangle. If you are looking for quality sermon or worship illustrations at affordable prices, I would suggest adding Beamer Films as one of your search options. (That was not a paid advertisement)

The Simple Complexity of Easter

I thought that was a well put piece! Deep, yet amazingly simple...

Okay, now I have a question and a few thoughts for you...Are we making Easter and all our other "religious" holidays too difficult for people to understand? Easter is a time of great hope, right? I don't think that making Easter more complicated brings glory to anyone does it? Is it necessary to show the love of Christ? I think too often we try to make things a bit too "intellectual" to make ourselves seem like a "better Christian" or more "spiritual than the Joneses". But, what the world needs is not more intellectuality (if that's really even a word), but rather just the simple truth that we are all sinners in need of a Savior!

I am thankful that all my sins are washed away by the blood of the spotless Lamb!!! Do you know Him? What does your faith and hope rest in?

Remember if we are hoping in our own goodness, Isaiah 64:6 states..."But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;..." If our future is dependent on what good we have done, our hope is fleeting at best. I am secure that my hope endures because of the cross of Calvary!!! Jeremiah 17:7 says..."Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is."

If you want to know about that "blessed hope" I speak of, please let me know...

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

Friday, March 13, 2009

Are We Reaching Them???

Okay, It has been a couple weeks since I have posted. It has been quite a time! Finished up my first 8-week online semester with results above what I expected. Then, we had our Spring Revival this week with Rev. Sam Dyer speaking and Paul and Christy Newberry leading our worship. What an exciting time in the life of our church!!!

This has also been a great time of re-focusing my eyes and heart on the work God has for me. Why is it that it is so easy to be sidetracked? It's so easy to get caught up in the job aspect rather than the ministry side of our calling. I have found that I need to focus more on the people we are trying to reach than the songs, instruments, lighting, sound equipment and other usual concerns.

But the focus of everything I do must be to show the love of Christ to others, right? One of the key points I got out of the revival was this...God doesn't tell us to only take the sinners who are "A-listers" or will be beneficial to us either. He tells us to reach out to sinners, point blank!

The verse that comes to mind is Romans 5:8..."But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." That means every sinner, regardless of their personal sin nature, status, or upbringing.

This is a battle we all face...reaching out to ALL!!! I have heard from so many people that visitation just doesn't work anymore. I don't believe that completely, but rather than the methods used for visitation need to adapt. We need more of a personal evangelism. Get to know them and let them get to know us. When they see a difference in us, that could allow us a chance to share with them more openly. Here is a neat little video from BluefishTV that runs quickly through the Roman road (road map to salvation) that we can share with others...

How are you doing at reaching to those who are hurting around you? Do you only focus on the "good" sinners, as if there really is such a thing. Or, are you willing to reach the drug addict, the prostitute, the homeless, and the ones with a rap sheet a mile long? This is a challenge I am taking personally. Will you join me?

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

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Video...

Couldn't think of a better song to post to give a little pep in your step than "Everything Glorious" by David Crowder Band. Find info about their albums and work being done at the previous link. I was one of those that took a while to catch on to the David Crowder music, but absolutely love the words and the way they bring them out in song. If you haven't heard much or even any of their music, I would recommend them highly!!!

The thing about this song in particular is the chorus:
"You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?"

If you are going through a low point today, just think that even through all that, you were made by the Creator of all things. Knowing that everything He makes is glorious also includes you! Enjoy the song...

I hope you have a great weekend and are getting involved deeply in the work of your local church! Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's on your iPod???

I've been fighting with this for quite some time now personally...and the book I've been reading has kind of made me think a bit harder about my "convictions" on the subject of music. You see, for a while, I would only listen to Christian music, regardless whether I was alone, with people or whatever. But, I realize that God doesn't say I have to listen to K-LOVE all the time, right?

Now, I realize that I should avoid the music with lyrics that are questionable, but why can't I enjoy a good song by Coldplay, John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw or someone else? Have you ever faced this battle? I actually caught myself judging someone a while back, because in their "Christian" blog they spoke about a secular song! How dare someone do that, right?

Anyhow, the book that has been occupying my time right now is The Fine Line by Kary Oberbrunner. It talks about us as Christians being called to be in the world but not of the world. Do we too often seclude ourselves so much from the world that we cannot relate to those around us?

I was looking around tangle yesterday when I came across this parody of the Mac/PC commercials talking about the very subject and thought I would share with you.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Do you feel like we are separating ourselves too much as Christians to be able to reach and identify with others? Leave me your thoughts...

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Give Me Your Eyes"

I think this video is exactly what we should be asking. To see the vision God has for us, we need to see through pure eyes. I love this video by Brandon can check his website out here. You can also find numerous Christian videos at Brandon Heath is also a featured performer in Winter Jam 2009. Looking forward to the concert this Thursday in OKC. For more info on WinterJam 09, click here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Be Thou My Vision!!!

The past few weeks, I have been rather lax in my postings, I realize. Our church has been challenged to seek the "vision" that God would have for the coming ten years...

What a challenge! I have spent countless hours praying not only for the "vision", but also a true unity in that vision corporately. The verse found in Proverbs 29:18 that I alluded to a couple of posts back keeps reverberating in my mind..."Where there is no vision, the people perish..."

I have often kind of meandered through life, as if no care for the future, because I know who holds tomorrow, but if I am not seeking what He has for me am I just wandering aimlessly?

Our meeting with the whole congregation was smooth and unified...praise be to God! Now, we must put those ideas and plans in to action. Pray that we will continue seeking His will for His church! And, I also challenge you to seek what God's vision is for you in the coming days, months and years. Take the challenge and you will be blessed!

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Are we waiting for the world to change???

I have been reading through the book The Fine Line by Kary Oberbrunner the last couple nights, which is talking about the line between being in the world and not being of the world. I've had the song "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer stuck in my head for several days and wondered why...well, it fits the way we as Christians sometimes look at the world around us.

I realize the Bible says in Matthew 5:14..."Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." I don't see it telling us to sit idly by and wait for the world to change...we should be a light to the world in these dark days, right?

The song by John Mayer has a few lines that jumped out at me...

"Now we see everything that's going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change"

This, I believe is another call for us to step up and share the Hope we have in Christ Jesus, despite all the goings on in the world, we are blessed. Jeremiah 17:7 states..."Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." Isn't that the message they need to hear? We are not waiting for the world to change for our lives to become better, our hope is in the Lord.

Share that with someone who needs a boost today! And, please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

What is your vision???

Yesterday, our services were focused on "The Blessings of Faithfulness". With all the economic upheaval going on, folks seem to be focusing more on what they see as "mine" rather than focusing on what is "God's". Why is it that when we are in dire circumstances that we tend to focus inward? This is a human trait that I know men battle with constantly. We are "fixers" and have a hard time sitting back and waiting for answers, we must "fix it now!"

The problem starts because we see "our" monies not going as far, and think we can make better us of "what we make" than our Lord can. We don't say that, but our actions do! We tend to forget that "what we make" is actually "what He has given"!

Now, the challenge that has been put forth is finding a vision of what God would have us do here at Emmanuel in the coming years. We are praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for what is to come. What programs we need to focus our energies on, what areas need special attention. The world around us is changing and we want God's leadership as we reach out!

A key verse in Proverbs 29:18 states "Where there is no vision, the people perish..."

I believe we are at a huge place in the history of the world. If we are to walk the right roads, we must have the "right" goals to be aiming for. Be in prayer with me as we seek God's will for the coming days, weeks, months and years.

I would like to leave you with one of my favorite songs from Casting Crowns "If We Are the Body". Listen to the words and ask if we truly are acting like we should be.

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

Friday, February 6, 2009

Praying for You

I know that there are so many people that are going through struggles today with economic and other issues. I found this video over at The Katinas blog and wanted to share it with you today. I hope it encourages you!

If you have something you're struggling with and need prayer, please let me know how I can word it on your behalf!!!

What are we afraid of???

I ran across this video some time back and thought I would share it today. It's a humorous video, but the point isn't. What would it take for us to stand up and share with others? Why are we missing the chance to share the Hope we have with others?

I know there is no "Evangelism Linebacker" following us around, but what if there was? Would we be more likely to share what Christ has done in our lives? I pray that we will all share the Gospel every chance we get. It's not easy, but think of the opportunities we miss out on. Who's to say that someone else will share with them if we don't? Think of that person as an eternal soul...If we don't share with them, how will they know?

Make an effort TODAY to share with those you have opportunity with. We are called, and given the power as it states in Acts 1:8..."But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Let's reach out first in our Jerusalem (your town or even your neighborhood) then our state, country and world. It has to start somewhere, let it begin with us!!!

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

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"For the Tough Times" book review

This is my first review as a part of the Book Review Blogger group I have become a part of through Thomas Nelson publishers. This book is another in a string of well-written books from my personal favorite author, Max Lucado. In our lives, we all go through trials and tribulations, loss of loved ones, unexpected tragedies, etc. This book goes through many of the trials that we might possibly face and offers a Biblical perspective of how we can find hope in these situations.

Have you ever faced a difficult situation and wondered where God was, or how could He let something like this happen to you? Have you ever wondered why God seemed silent when you were looking for answers? What about if your house was destroyed by natural disaster? How could a loving God let His own be hurt like that? Well, these and other situations in life are covered genuinely and confidently in this short book of hope for those who are hurting.

If you have been struggling with questions that seem to have no logical answers, pick up this book and see the hope that God gives. Thanks, Max for another inspiring book! For more information on this book, click here.

Here I Am, Send Me

As we work our way into 2009, a big focus in my life is reaching out to others. But, many times we don't know how to reach out, do we? Sometimes, it can be a random act of kindness, a good deed, a word of encouragement. The key is...sharing the love of God. In my studies, I've been reading from several texts and one thing that jumped out was from "The Purpose Driven Church" by Rick Warren. In chapter 12, the title is "How Jesus Attracted Crowds". One of the points that jumped out at me is that we many times overlook "loving unbelievers the way Jesus did". If we were willing to just show the love of Jesus, wouldn't people be asking what we have that they don't? This video is a simple evangelism illustration I saw last week. Check it out...

Take a step of faith with me...say those words..."Here I Am, Send Me". Will you do what He wants today? Are you willing to show His love to others?

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When do you praise???

I had a great time this morning at our Men's Prayer Breakfast. Today, we shared some of our challenges and opportunities to share Christ with others. One of the common grounds we all shared was that everyone is facing struggles. Another commonality among the group was that God is in control, regardless of what we are going through. So, we also thought on the words of Isaiah 55:8, in which God states..."For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."

None of us can even fathom the thoughts of God, yet alone try to make any sense in our finite minds. We just need to take a step back and say..."God, you are in control...I submit to what your plan is in this situation". With that thought in mind, I hope you will enjoy these slides put to the music of "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns.

Rest assured that no matter what you are going through God has a plan for your life. If we give Him praise no matter the situation, others will see the peace that they are so desperately searching for...remember, you may be the only Jesus some will ever see!

If you want to know how you can have that peace of mind that I am speaking about, please contact me personally by clicking on the About Me link above.

And, please let me know if you have a personal prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Where does the money go?

I found this illustration video well thought out and put together. Have you ever wondered where your tithes and offerings go? This is a great illustration of how far our gifts can truly reach...

Even in these tough financial times, the Word of God is to be spread from our neighborhoods, cities, states, countries and throughout the entire world. If we hold back our gifts and offerings, who are we hindering from hearing the Message?

I challenge each of you to take Malachi 3:10 to heart..."Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

God doesn't qualify His statement by saying only in the good economic times, when the dollar's value is up, or anything else. He simply says bring ALL the tithes...challenge yourself to prove God at His words. We serve a mighty God who can pour out blessings that this world cannot comprehend.

Another passage in Luke 6:38 states..."Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

So, we should be cheerful givers...

I know these times are tight everywhere, but that doesn't mean that we have the right to withhold part of what God has given in the first place, right? I know this is not a popular subject, but thanks for your time. May we be challenged to give with a cheerful spirit, and see what God will do through us in the coming days, months and years.

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

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Boy Who Changed the World

I was touched by this video when I saw it, and thought I would share it with you. Many of you may have seen or heard about this story in the past on TV, but I found this video very touching. Make sure you have some tissues at your disposal.

To follow the story of Eliot, check out the blog his parents kept during his life. You can find it here. For the latest news in this family's life, visit their new blog here. There is a surprise there you will want to see.

I pray that when faced with adversities in life, my view of God won't change based on the circumstance. May I keep in mind the verses from Isaiah 55:8 & 9..."For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." His will is not something our finite minds can comprehend. I would ask you to lift a special prayer for the Mooney family today...

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

What is our worship???

I was reading a post by my friend Dean Lusk at his site here. He was talking about the complaints of folks too often in churches. They range many different categories and schools of thought, but I was reminded of this video I saw a couple months ago. I wanted to share it with you.

I've been reading For the Tough Times by Max Lucado and last night in Chapter 3 it talked about magnifying the Lord. Do you know what that means? I'd never really thought about it much in depth before that, but according to Merriam-Webster, magnify means...1 to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect 2 a: to increase in significance : intensify b: exaggerate 3: to enlarge in fact or in appearance...Based on that definition, do we truly magnify God in our times of worship? Think on the verse from Psalms 34:3 today..."O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together."

What thoughts, ideas, or emotions did the video stir in your heart and mind? Are we more consumed with selfish fulfillment than we are in worshiping the Lord? Leave your thoughts...

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Crazy Love" book review

Today, I wanted to take a few moments and relive the experience of the book "Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God" by Francis Chan. For those of you who don't know where to get the book, you can find it here.

I had heard from many friends, worship leaders and ministers around Facebook, Twitter, and various other places about this book for quite some time before I finally ordered it. Now that I have completed the experience, I understand the fuss. This is not a book to be read if you are looking for a "pat on the back" if you are just "trying to get by" in your walk with the Lord. This is a book to "tell it like you need to hear it"!!!

Many times throughout the book, I found myself being attacked from all angles in how I have been showing the love of Christ to others. One of the really great features that I enjoyed with the book was the accompanying website content here. There are videos ranging from an introduction to the book, to Chapter introduction videos, and also illustration videos that give images to go along with the story.

There are a few illustrations that really jumped out in the of a Holy God who is far beyond the comprehension of man, that is wanting a relationship with me (insert your name in place of me). Another, was Chapter 5 "Serving Leftovers to a Holy God"...I don't think that would need much more input from me, it hits particularly close to home, no matter who you are. Then, there is Chapter 8, entitled "Profile of the Obsessed" that also hit me hard, because if we are so obsessed with our HDTVs, iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, PCs, fast cars, big houses, or whatever it is in your life, shouldn't we be much more willing to show obsession about God to everyone we contact?

If you are wanting to be challenged in your life with God and want to get a bigger picture of Who He is and what you could be doing better to show His love to others, "Crazy Love" is a must read! Once again, you can pick it up here and you can find out more at the accompanying website here And, if that wasn't enough, there is also a DVD Study Resource available here.

Check it out, or let me know what "Crazy Love" meant when you read and studied it...

Friday, January 23, 2009

A question for you to respond to...

A friend of mine on Facebook was asking a question today, and I wanted to put it on here to see what kind of feedback would be received. Leave your answers as feedback, if you don't mind.

Here was her question...Why is religion such a powerful tool in creating and/or encouraging both harmony and hatred?

Thanks for making us think, Angie!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A historic day...

As I look back at the events that have come to pass, I wanted to give each of you a place to share your thoughts and hopes for the next 4 or possibly 8 years. We have just seen our first minority elected President of the United States. This is a day filled with pride for some, anguish for some, and some who just look at it as another day.

This is a bittersweet day for me...I am proud that our country can see beyond the boundaries of race when choosing a new leader. I may not particularly agree with the decision, but I know the One who is in control. May we be reminded of that daily!

During our January Bible Study of Exodus last night, we were brought to a great scripture that touches this well. It is in Exodus 9:16..."And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."

As Bro. Elmer Whitehead shared last night, we shouldn't concern ourselves with the "why's" but rather remember that God causes things to happen in the world "that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."

For that reason, I have chosen this verse for the memorization challenge of the week. When we struggle with issues and challenges in our lives, let's rely upon the Lord, Whose name shall be declared throughout all the earth!!!

Take a few moments to read over the verse again...pray that what you're going through will be used for His glory...and ask for the chance to share your trials, tribulations, and triumphs with others for the glory of the Lord!!!

Please take a couple minutes to leave your thoughts on the days events and, as always, please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!