Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
2. Be more Gentle
3. Be more transparent
4. Go on the Adkins Diet (not doing that all vegetable thing again - ever YUK!)
5. Be more involved in kidds school functions.
6. Fix everything wrong with this cheap house of ours :) (That will take all year)
What are your resolutions?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Our daughter, Kaitlin, is in her room, crying, as I write this. Saturday evening, she discovered a book in her bookcase, belonging to her 2nd-grade teacher who taught her last year. Apparently, she had forgotten that she had it and didn't take it back.
Kaitlin wants to take it back but she is afraid that she will get a mark against her perfect behavioral record.
As a parent, I would like to tell her, with absolute certainty, that nothing bad will happen by returning a book that she accidentally still has possession of. However, I do not know, with absolute certainty, that there will be no disciplinary action. I really cannot imagine such will be the case but I simply do not know.
Tomorrow morning, on the first day back to school from Thanksgiving break, she will return the book to it's owner. It is a scary lesson to learn but learning to be a person of integrity is a noble pursuit.
Far too often, children hear, or worse, see their parents fail at maintaining a character of integrity. From simply borrowing a few nuts and bolts from work to not wanting the hassle or inconvenience of returning the amount of money that was mistakenly given them in making change; adults display flawed character and the kids are quick to learn it.
So this is a opportunity to teach by example. I will take Kaitlin to school, go through the front office visitor screening, walk with her to the teacher's classroom and be with her as she returns the book. Whatever happens, I want her to know that she did the right thing and that I am proud of her.
As parents, grandparents and adults, please know that children, yours and others, are watching you. They are learning by observation about your true character. Just as I am showing Kaitlin the importance of returning what is not hers, we need to set a consistent example of integrity for this young generation.
The above verse speaks of two types of character. One is honest and the other dishonest. I'm convinced that dishonesty is not learned from a single and large event witnessed in a role model's life, but a lifestyle of numerous and seemingly insignificant incidents of dishonesty.
As parents, grandparents and adults, the question is not if we will be role models, but, what kind of role models we will be. Children learn their future roles by watching us.
Do you, as a role model, model a character of integrity?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
"Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people."
I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes. While swinging my feet to the floor, I reached for the ringing phone. "Hello", I said with a "first-sound-of-the-morning voice". What I heard in response was shocking. It wasn't simply the words, but the tone and pace at which the person was speaking. Apparently, there had been a misunderstanding of some instructions and procedures which put this person in a precarious position.
What shocked me was the attitude displayed in the individual's voice. I had known this person for some time and had always respected this person's faith and spiritual maturity. However, when squeezed by circumstance, attitude and words betraying a Christ-like character were chosen over love, peace and forgiveness.
Needless to say, the miscommunication was corrected, however, in remembering that incident, I have been thinking about how shallow our relationship with Christ often is. One small bump in the road and we testify, with the world as our audience, that there really isn't anything to this Jesus thing. Sure, we know the words, we know the motions and we may even know the verses (and where they are found), but when it comes to the one aspect of Christianity that can make a difference, we don't seem to get it.
In my youth, I could quote the longest passage of scripture and say the nicest prayer whenever I was asked. The sad thing is, one doesn't typically have that request made of them at a wild party or a rock concert. I could say and do all the right things when called upon, but my life wasn't changed!
Look at the list in the above verses. Scroll up and read those verses again. (I'll wait) Can any one of us read through that list without feeling the rod of conviction at our hearts? In the time when Christ was on the earth, the priests were known for "putting on a show". Jesus was always calling them on it!
But we are also called priests. Our work is of a priestly nature.
1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message
"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted."
An acquaintance of mine sent me a email reply in which we were discussing spiritual maturity and life change. He said that "we have sown to dysfunction".
To often, as present-day priests, we can only tell of the mostly cloudy day to somewhat cloudy day difference that we have allowed Christ to make in our lives. Sure, we can still look the part, but here is the real danger in that.
If we are not careful, we can become like the priests that Christ dealt with and adopt an attitude and lifestyle which says - As long as I look good, I don't really have to be good.
Priest or Poser - Which are you?
More on this huge can of worms to come...
Friday, November 13, 2009
When I arrived, I found that the weariness from the battle and the heavy doses of pain medication would not even allow the man to open his eyes or respond. I leaned close to his ear and prayed a prayer that detailed the plan of salvation.
I wish I could write that he opened his eyes or responded in some way. He did not. My prayer is that he heard my words and that his spirit spoke them to God.
We are a stubborn and procrastinating people. We seek medical attention just before we fall over dead, we seek relational help just before we are about to slam into a proverbial cliff and we seek God when we have exhausted all of man's (ourselves included) efforts and abilities.
Jesus said to come to him to find rest. Rest for our soul and spirit. Why wait until the last minute? Why not make things right in our relationship with God and each other now, so that our lives can be filled with love, peace and joy instead of loneliness, turmoil and grief.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. (Emphasis mine)
I've been doing some more praying and more dreaming during these last few weeks. I'm purposely trying to allow God to expand my vision beyond what I can see with my eyes. The view, what little of it I can see, is incredible! I am really getting excited about what God is doing and has in store for us. I can see how he has been moving, shaping and designing the pieces of his plan so that they easily fall into place.
We're being set-up - by God for something amazing! It's great to be a part of a united family, dreaming the same dreams, sharing a common vision and working together towards the same goal! God's vision is far bigger than I have ever dreamed!
Monday, November 2, 2009
What struck me, was the sense of unity that we all felt while showing Christ's love for the community. We watched as one of our youth group member's dance troupe performed -that was amazing. It was even more exciting to see a few of those new faces in our services yesterday!
Events like that, give us the opportunity to touch lives - not just lives in the community but the lives within our own church family as well.
Jesus spent his entire earthly ministry touching lives. Can we do any less?
Yesterday, I observed something that really made me think. A new family attended one of our services and sat engaged in the message. Upon the conclusion of the message, when the invitation was given, I saw every member of the family shift forward in their seat and look down the pew to thehusband/ father for approval. The father didn't budge, so the entire family settled back into the pew. I asked myself, what would have happened if that father had lead by example? We could have witnessed the start of a revival as a whole family accepted Christ!
As a father, I know the importance of being an example. I also know that I haven't always been the best example. However, knowing that, prompts me to strive towards living what I believe in words and actions.
If the Holy Spirit was tugging on Robin's or one of our children's heart - drawing them towards a deeper relationship with Christ, I would want to be their strongest encourager. I would race Robin or the kids to the altar. Men, as husbands and fathers, we need to set the spiritual tone for our families. Statistics prove that over 90% of family members will follow suit when their husband/father steps it up with Christ and lives that commitment in his daily life.
Part of setting the spiritual tone involves observing the spiritual climate within our spouse and children and seizing opportunities for growth. Spiritual growth does not take place by accident, it is intentional and we must be prayerfully aware of when and where its happening.
I believe that the family that sat in the service yesterday was ripe for God-The Father, to do something amazing in their lives. I also prayerfully believe that God will speak to that father's heart and he will set an example for his entire family.
God wants a relationship with every person on the earth. The Father wants to show his love to every family and person. I believe that fathers can be the key agents of that love and relationship, if they choose to do so.
For Marriages and Families
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
OK, so if I'm not writing about physical doors that you can touch, install or paint, what am I writing about? For most of my life and especially in ministry, God has directed Robin and I by the closing of doors. Some slowly creaked shut on their hinges while others busted our noses as they slammed closed.
Two weeks ago another door closed for us as I experienced a lay-off from my secular employment. Just so you know, this isn't a first, it's not even a second or a third for me. However, we're not panicked, we know this territory and, more importantly, we know who owns this territory!
That owner is God and as Robin and I have been seeking him, he has given us a general direction towards a door in which to walk. The door's name is ministry. When? Where? How? Why? No clue! Why don't we have the answers? Because those answers are found on the other side of that door!
So, aside from the comments made by those that I choose to believe are genuinely concerned for our well-being, Robin and I truly believe that our obedient response to this situation is to press on in ministry wherever and whenever God leads. I believe that frustration in ministry as well as in life often occurs when we stick our foot in the way of a door that God wants to close or when we refuse to walk through a door that he is opening for us.
So, please pray with us that God would give us keen spiritual ears to hear the sound of door hinges - the sound of doors closing and doors opening. Robin and I don't want to miss either!
Until God's Holy Spirit shows us which door of ministry he has for us, we will keep walking the path he last showed us and...
Keep Door Shopping!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
God's Spirit has assured me that He has a plan and purpose in all of this and every time I take a deep breath of His Spirit, I can smell the building aroma of change... It's exhilarating!
True, it may sound insane, but sanity is so boring...
Monday, October 26, 2009
One of the most striking statements that I took away from this event was this...
(paraphrase) Individuals will not return or continue to return to a event, service or ministry unless we have placed something of value into their hands. I have thought about that statement and realized how true it is. Every book I read and every speaker I listen to, I have one priority question. How can I use this right now?
Even with my limited experience, I have identified three things that people need from our ministries.
People need applicable ideas that are:
- Profound - Ideas that are apart from individual norms. Change comes from ideas that are either different from what we have already been doing or comes from increasing or eliminating that which we already do.
- Proven - Quite simply - Does this idea work? What is this idea or concept based on?
- Practical - The idea has to be something that everyone can apply to their lives. I once heard a speaker at a marriage conference say that everyone should treat their spouse to a 7 day cruise to Mexico. Great idea, except over 90% of those couples in attendance could not afford such a grand excursion.
We should ask ourselves, what do people need today? That is always relevant!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
This is a killer for me! God has been really dealing with me in the area of discipline. There are things that I need to do, that I tend to push back in favor of the things I tend to do.
I need to spend at least 1/2 hour in prayer. - I tend to hit the snooze button.
I need to be in God's Word. - I tend to browse social media - Ouch!
I need to be connecting relationally with my wife. - I tend to watch reality shows on the TV.
I need to use the treadmill. - I tend to eat more ice cream.
I need to spend quality time with each of my kids. - I tend to squander the time I have.
I need to focus on course-work. - I tend to want to take a nap.
I want to do the things that I need to do. I know that I should do the things that I need to do. I often do the things I need to do, but I know that I can do those things far more often.
The things I need to do would be a lot easier if "I" would get out of the way. "I" am my own worst enemy.
MORE OF HIM - less of me
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. "
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
During the two days a running joke developed between a few friends of mine and I. On Monday, a fellow pastor, who I have met several times, re-introduced himself to me while I was standing with a few others. We talked for several minutes and went our separate ways. A few hours later the same pastor walked up to me and stated that he didn't think we had met and introduced himself again. OK. By then I was looking for a camera, thinking that this had to be some sort of joke. No camera, no joke. The only joke, between my friends and I, was that I was invisible and subsequently could not be remembered.
After the next evening's service, I was standing in the back of the room praying in my usual fashion- pacing back and forth. Two pastors approached me and one of them proceeded to run into me. I stepped aside and continued my prayer-walk. Within a minute someone else bumped into me. I began to question, (cue the little pity party)"What am I made of, cellophane? I prayed, "God, it's like no one even sees me." God's response was immediate to my heart, "Good, then they will only see My Son!" Wham! Isn't that what people are supposed to see when they look our way? Am I there yet? NO-WAY!
For the rest of the conference, I made it a point to seek out, speak to, visit with and pray for anyone seeming to be alone. WOW! It was amazing how the presence of the Holy Spirit would move in each situation.
What are you made of? When people look at you, do they see Jesus?
Friday, September 25, 2009
I'm currently reading a book for school called Living the Spirit Formed Life by Jack Hayford. In it, Hayford writes about how God will take everything that we are and shape it into what we can be and what he wants us to be. God will also create in us whatever we lack and is needed.
Is it really that simple? If we keep trying, God will make us into a pillar? I'm one to try too hard. Especially when it comes to my spiritual growth. Trying is good and needed, but when I fail, I'm very hard on myself, as if growth won't happen because I failed.
My part is to keep trying and let God do the rest. Guess what? He will!
Are you trying to hard - Let GOd
Friday, September 18, 2009
Someone once told me that you have to throw a lot of spaghetti against a wall before some of it will begin to stick. I've found that statement to be extremely accurate.
Part of the ministry to marriages that I'm blessed to be involved in includes a weekly e-letter/devotional on marriage and family topics. That statement prompted me to set a goal to get that e-letter into as many homes, ministering to as many marriages, as possible. I have pursued this goal for over two years and have recently switched to a distributor as my personal e-mail provider would no longer allow for the weekly volume. I was excited. I thought, just maybe, I was accomplishing that goal.
However, I'm still human and with that excitement, I fear, came a little bit of pride. Yeah, I was a little "puffed up". God has a funny way of bringing me back down whenever that happens.
Among the many features and benefits of using a e-mail distributor comes a tracking tool that tells me who opens and reads the e-letter that week. Let's just say, I was humbled when I realized that over 80% of the spaghetti that I've been throwing is not sticking to the wall. 80% of the e-letters are never opened or read. (Cue the sound of a balloon deflating)
So, I've been examining my heart and, more importantly, asking God to examine it. Is gaining a large following of readers the true purpose for my writing ministry? Or, does my reason for writing stem from obedience to the one who called me to write?
I'm still going to keep throwing spaghetti. The change I am choosing to make is to allow God to determine where it lands and, ultimately, where it sticks.
Are you more concerned with where the spaghetti you're throwing sticks or that you're simply obedient and keep throwing it?
Monday, September 14, 2009
"The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding ; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'
(Mark 4:11-12 NIV)
I love this cat character named Roger from the movie, Open Season 2. As I was watching this scene - again and again on youtube, I began thinking about how much this scene reminds me of the times when I dreaded speaking something into the life of someone who just seems to never get it. If you have ever felt that way, guess what? Jesus felt that same frustration - he even asked his disciples one time, "Are you still so dull?" But the key is, he then went on to explain something yet again to them.
"Let us not become weary in doing good , for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Gal 6:9 NIV) Ours is a message that is too important to quit on. We have to keep living it, speaking it and even writing it until people do "get it". It's important because IT will change their lives.
Who do you need to speak life into? Who is within your sphere of influence that hasn't gotten it yet? Or. What is it that God is using someone to speak to you about? We're either a Stanley or a Roger. we need to both speak and listen to really "Get It."
Friday, September 11, 2009
He said at one time in his ministry, the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart and told him that he had become, "a Full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ."
Wow. I pray that I will always guard against that being a reality in my life and ministry. Examining myself, I can see signs of that starting from time to time. I believe it is a matter of focus. If my focus isn't on Christ then I am in danger of becoming a "Part-time follower"
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
"To be a great leader or even a great Christian, our public persona must match our private life. " - Dave Swanson
Wow. Talk about being authentic. One thing about leadership conferences, I always realize how small I am and how far I need to go in Christ.
Friday, September 4, 2009
We live in a touch society. Computer screens, MP3 players, cell phones and many other gadgets respond to a simple touch. However, when it comes to people, too often we display a "do not touch" attitude. "I'm too busy, I don't know them", or worse, "I don't care" - are all responses that are indicative of our social society.
Guess what? As Christians, we need to make time, get to know "them" and we better care! The world needs Jesus and we are all God has to work with.
Jesus wasn't afraid to touch the sick or to let the sick touch Him. Who are we touching for Christ? Who are we allowing to touch us for Christ? Just as the entire World needs to know the reality of a loving Savior, we need to be touched by Godly mentors to sharpen us spiritually.
I'm grateful that there were Christians who made the time, got to know me and cared about me enough to touch my life for Christ!
Touch someones life today!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
For some reason, the thought occurred to me that they both bloomed in the desert!
I spend a good deal of time in spiritual/emotional deserts - family tradition. I've learned that for something to grow in the desert, that something has to have a strong will, a drive to thrive and much perseverance.
Deserts have their purpose, in them we don't find luxuries. Instead, we develop characteristics that make us stronger.
If we allow God to strengthen and instruct us in the desert places of our lives, think about how much stronger we will be and how the greater potential for his power to work through our lives.
Are you blooming?
Saturday, August 29, 2009
As we neared Hagerstown, MD, the alternator gave up and the van quickly began sputtering as the battery voltage dropped too low to run the fuel pump properly. At this point, our prayer efforts went into overdrive.
We were using a borrowed GPS unit that was doing a great job at turn-by-turn directions. It was programed to guide us home. As the van began to sputter, the GPS unit told me to take the next exit. After exiting, the GPS directed me to turn right in 800 yards and, upon achieving that distance, directed me into the parking lot of a Hampton Inn, where the van completely died.
Looking around, I noticed a sign that said Byrd's Auto repair on a building right next to the Motel. Being a Sunday evening, it was closed. Long story short, we stayed the night at The Hampton Inn, swam in the pool, ate pizza and enjoyed a complimentary hot breakfast. The repair shop replaced the alternator for $150.00 less than expected and we were again on our way.
When I arrived back at the church office, there was a envelope in my mailbox which contained a check. Someone on Sunday morning, before we had even left D.C., felt led to give me and my family a love gift which covered most of the repair bill.
God is always in control! Looking back, when asked about what she liked most about our vacation, our daughter Kaitlin answered, "Staying at the Hampton Inn".
God's Got This!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Some may view the event as a church growth tool. While that may be a by-product of the event (hasn't proven to be at this point), I believe that simply caring for the community enough to give them the chance to have some free fun goes farther for God's Kingdom than inviting someone to "a church".
My motive is this,
"It has nothing to do with us (GF) but it has everything to do with them (the community).
Friday, August 7, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT
Feelings! We hear about them often. How many sentences do we begin with, "I feel" or "I don't feel"? There is some cause for concern when relationships, especially marriages are based on feelings.
One of my favorite lines from the movie Fireproof, says that, "you have to lead your heart." Wow, that is powerful. The heart is the wellspring of our affective lives- our feelings. Our hearts will deceive us. Because the heart-our self, will try to focus our minds on "what I want" and miss important and even obvious aspects. The heart will see a beautiful gold ring but fail to see the green skin of the finger that the fake ring is on. That is the danger on living and loving by feelings. But, a mind fixed on serving Christ and others will lead our hearts to pure love, pure joy and ultimate fulfillment. Think about this! What does it mean to surrender our heart to Christ? It is laying down our self, saying life isn't about me and my feelings.
Perhaps we need to rethink some things. Maybe loving God and our spouse with our hearts isn't near enough. Consider this...
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31NIV (emphasis mine)
Love involves far more than our heart. It includes everything we are. Lead your heart by deciding to love your spouse unconditionally like God loves us. God is watching.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
9:00AM - Traditional (Southern Gospel) Service
10:10AM - Discipleship Classes
11:00AM - Contemporary Service
6:00PM - Evening Service/Strive Youth
Lovin' The Ride!
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me
- Francesca Battistelli
"Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you. " (Romans 14:18 - The Message)
If I do everything in service to Christ, I am completely free.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Taking My Own Advice
I tell every one of my counselees, that you can only change yourself. One of the things we can change is our perspective. In God's Kingdom, I am like a single grain of sand that has it's place in God's grand design. Sometimes we attempt great things when we are only supposed to be faithful in small things. The grain of sand is supposed to do it's part in making a desert.
It has been proven that the air displacement from the wing-beat of a butterfly can be measured hundreds of miles away. How insignificant is the wing-beat of a butterfly? My part in God's kingdom should be hidden and seem insignificant to those around me. But it should be measurable in the Kingdom.
What's your perspective of your life? Is it measurable in the Kingdom?
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
There is a scene in the movie, Facing The Giants, that tells the story of two farmers who were praying for rain and whose fields desperately needed some rain. One farmer; however, went out and prepared his fields to receive the rain. The character telling the story asks the question, "Which farmer displayed more faith?"
During those times when we are waiting on God, what could we be doing to prepare ourselves for his answer in his timing?
Just a thought for your day!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
God is always good! And his people are a blessing!
Friday, June 5, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
"If we don't hurry we won't get a good seat." "If we walk slow, we'll miss the beginning." All excuses that. I thought, justified my rush to get nowhere. Many times the person walking with me would be my mother. I used to be impatient, as she would need to rest. While she rested, I would stand anxiously at her side, thinking about the loss of time that could have been spent walking. Little did I realize that the loss of time was actually the time I spent walking in my usual manner.
Mom would usually start a conversation as she rested. She would ask about the recent events of my life and share some of her memories from my childhood. Mom was also one to notice things, small things sometimes.
She would notice how the leaves of one tree would be greener than another’s. Most often, mom would notice people. One of her favorite things to do was to sit and watch people. She would wonder what was going through their minds in that exact moment as they passed by.
It is ironic that those things that I would often view, as an inconvenience, have become some of the things I would love to do again - walking slow and talking with my mother. I have found myself thinking, walking and living at a much slower pace in these last few weeks. I do not want to miss the "little things" in life. It is those "little things" that become the most important.
What are you missing as you hurry through life? Who do you need to go for a slow walk with?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
GF is growing - fast! One of the changes involves an additional service. God continues to bless us with gifted people who have a heart for God and desire to minister and meet felt needs. Sometimes the Spirit's leading guides us into things that are unexpected.
There are a lot of questions we could ask. The sanctuary isn't full, so why do we need another service? What's wrong with what we have now? The answers:
- At GF it isn't about numbers in the pews. It's about getting names written in the "Book of Life". The additional service will allow us to reach an entirely different group of people. God placed GF in a very populated area and we will reach that area!
- Absolutely nothing! It's not a "this-or" scenario it's a "this-and" opportunity. Our number one purpose as a church is to give an opportunity for people to CONNECT with God. The additional service will do that for a great number of people, just like the existing service will continue to do.
Change is constant and we must constantly change and adapt the way we deliver an unchanging message!
Friday, May 1, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
In the top of the 9th inning Eric Wedge pulled Cliff Lee from the game and gave the ball to Kerry Wood. A few minutes later the Sox had 2 men on and Jason Bey hit a blast to the bleachers in left-center.
After all of the great pitching by Lee, spectacular catches by Sizemore and Choo, the Indians faced another loss.
How many times have we seen fellow believers walk with Christ only to let our opponent win in the last few innings of their life? Don't blow it!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Click on the following link to watch the video.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Who can you get real with?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
One week is not a short notice and it certainly does not require one to be instant. For me; however, one week , is shorter than my normal prep time as I typically do not preach on a regular basis. Last night, my pastor asked me to preach next Sunday evening, a welcome opportunity.
I immediately began seeking the Lord as to what he would have me speak. This continued off and on through the night, as I prayed, thought and slept. At about 5:30 this morning, I startled Robin when I sat up in bed and said, "Wait a minute, we have "GloryBound" (a band) coming in next Sunday evening!
Don't worry, the thoughts and prayers have only helped prepare me for the next opportunity.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Now more than ever, I need to be in God's Word, on my knees in prayer and with my hands raised in worship. God is up to something again!
After dinner, Robin and I went grocery shopping. Since we had quite a bit of food to get, Robin suggested that I go get some items while she would keep the cart and get other things. While I walked the aisles searching for the items on my list, I decided to try an experiment. I started smiling at everyone I encountered in passing and was keeping track of all those who smiled back. It was fun.
One woman, when I smiled at her, her whole face lit up and every time I encountered her she was still smiling! However, there was this one gentleman that apparently was not about to smile in any way, shape or form.
I may never know how the simple act of smiling may have helped one of those people. It was such a little gesture, but it's power is often underestimated.
Have you smiled lately?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
My goal as a Father, is for my children to surpass me in every good thing during their life, especially their relationship with Christ. Yeah, I would say Brandon is on track!
Monday, April 6, 2009
God is blessing Grace Fellowship. I get excited when people tell me how hungry they are for the Word - digging in and really going after God. We are in our 4th week of increased attendance as God builds the team that He will use to impact Perry Township and the surrounding communities.
There is a popular saying around our church. That saying, simply says, "It's a God Thing" Every good thing comes from God. God builds the church and we are asked to be faithful in letting ourselves be used to do it.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Wow! What a week and here comes the weekend! Sometime back in January, I had a senior moment and scheduled two events at the church back to back. I am excited about the youth and young adult concert tonight and the huge Easter egg hunt tomorrow; however, the prep for the concert has been a monster.
The other day, I had to stop and check my attitude as I tend to strive for excellence in every ministry area. Sometimes, when things are not going as planned, I can get a little frustrated. Yet another reminder of how human I am. That check allowed me to think before I spoke and I am sure that we are much farther ahead because I held my tongue.
As we go into the weekend, I have no idea what to expect as far as numbers. I can only pray that people's lives are touched and then changed by the Holy Spirit's presence and power.
God, do something great this weekend!
Monday, March 30, 2009
Phil 3:12-14 NIV
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
In his book The Life You've Always Wanted - Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, John Ortberg begins the first chapter by penning the words, "I'm disappointed". With the exception of God's Word - the Bible, I do not recall a book that has spiritually bloodied and battered me as much as the first few pages of this book have. You see, I immediately connected with Ortberg's sentiment -"I'm disappointed".
I am disappointed that I am not a better husband. I am disappointed that I am not a better Father. I am disappointed that I am not a better Son, friend, pastor, counselor, and student. I am disappointed that I am not BETTER, period. What has hurt the most is the fact that I am not a better Christian. I am not what I could be and should be; falling far short of all that God has called me to be. Am I better than I once was? I think so. But, I can be better!
Far too many times in life, we fall prey to the attitude that says we're "good enough” or, “good enough because it would be too hard to be better”. This affects every aspect of our life. I am not a better husband because I allow my "self" to get in the way. I am not a better Father because being better would require shifting my focus away from myself. On and on it goes to the same end - I am my own worst enemy. Whether it's partner, parent or pastor, at the end of the day I still have more questions than answers and more struggles than strengths.
I think that is why the Apostle Paul, the self proclaimed worst of all sinners, wrote these words. In them, he says, "I am not there yet, but I am trying!" Although he learned to be content in whatever earthly situation and surrounding, he never was content in his spiritual growth in Christ. He realized the value in becoming more like Christ and, increasingly, so am I. If I become more Christ-like, I will become better in every aspect of my life.
For years I have used the old pyramid diagram when counseling couples. If a husband and wife each form one of the bottom corners of the pyramid and God is represented by the point at the top; as each person comes closer to God they automatically come closer to each other. My point is this. I am not as close to God as I can be, so I am obviously not as close to Robin as I could be. My prayer is that I will always be disappointed.
Are you disappointed?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thinking back over the last few years, I must admit that I haven't always felt very happy and certainly not content. Might this be a part of the transforming process that isn't intended to make me happy, but instead, make me holy.
As much as I love my wife, my kids, my church and calling, I am beginning to be able to say with Paul - "I want to go home."
What are you living for?
Friday, March 27, 2009
A member at one church which recently asked us to come and do a conference wanted to know how much we "charged" to speak at a conference. I looked at Robin, Robin looked at me, we both blinked and, simultaneously, our minds shifted into neutral. Uhhh...
I was the first to speak ( I hate it when I do that) How about $100.00 for a weekend? Robin looked at me like I was nuts. She was right, I am nuts. $100.00 was way to much. Robin and I have been called by God to minister to those marriages that are falling through the cracks due to job losses and the subsequent loss of insurance coverage which makes many of the good ministries currently available, cost prohibitive.
We decided, right then and there, we would continue ministering to all couples and let God take care of the rest. We have never set a fee for counseling, mentoring, speaking or writing (95% free-of-charge)and God has been more than faithful.
I do not know what type of responses I will receive from the churches, if any; but God will continue to draw hurting people and couples to us so that we may be faithful and obedient to his call.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
I saw a snippet of a television program today. In one segment a woman called in asking for advice for a situation dealing with a topic that would be better suited to my other blog. However, she was professing her faith and religious belief all-the-while betraying that faith by her actions.
Sadly, that has become commonplace in so many "Christian" circles. Do not get me wrong, I do not know where this woman is with Christ and I am not one to place a list of demands on any believer. But there does come a time when the words we speak should, at least, resemble our actions and the way we live.
Incongruities in our words and actions bring devastating results. Failing to "live out" our words lays waste to everything we say because, over time, it becomes clear that there is little to no honesty in our words. We can fool people for a while, maybe even a long while. But we will never fool God.
Jesus, quoting Isaiah, said this, "He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me . They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
(Mark 7:6-8 NIV)
This is every believer's daily battle. It takes daily prayer, effort and determination to win this battle. So, are you whispering or screaming?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Among the excitement; however, there has to be order. Do I like these ministry ideas? I love them! From the start, the leadership at Grace Fellowship has followed three primary rules in regard to church ministries.
- Ministry must be maintainable - We watch for and, often, wait for a person(s) with a desire for a particular ministry to come forward. God places these desires on their heart and when he calls someone he also empowers that person(s) for that ministry. If we get ahead of God and place someone in a ministry, just to fill a need, that particular person my become discouraged and tired very quickly and that ministry's success will be vulnerable. All the persons involved in a ministry must be on the same page - there is an energy that is created when God's people are in unity and God blesses that!
- Ministry must be Sustainable - Once we start a ministry at Grace Fellowship, it is our intent for that ministry to be ongoing - meeting felt needs and connecting people with God and each other. We desire for every ministry at Grace Fellowship to have the resources required for long term success.
- Ministry should be done with Excellence - From idea, burden or vision to ongoing success, ministry efforts need to be bathed in prayer. Prayerful and careful consideration and planning are critical to all seasons of a ministry - especially ministry leadership. At Grace Fellowship, we wait on the Holy Spirit's leading and when he leads - we move. As we follow his leading, we will never be early and we will never be late, because God's timing is perfect.
We are in a season of growth, spiritually and numerically. Now, more than ever, we need to pray and seek the Spirit's direction. As he leads, we will move. Someone once said that the church moves forward on it's knees. The pace may seem slow, but the importance of our message and our mission requires that we follow and then lead at the Spirit's pace.
Pray with us!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
After a while our conversation turned into a intriguing discussion about Biblical prophecy and the recent prophecy/warning issued by David Wilkerson . This discussion brought me to a few questions. In light of current events and, discerning the time in which we live, has my focus been on the important rather than the urgent? Have I been so caught up in the "How" that I have allowed it to overshadow the "Why" of kingdom advancement?
Sure, I still desire to be in full-time ministry and I perceive my calling to be very important; however, encouraging people to be prepared for the coming days and, ultimately, for our Lord Jesus Christ's return is urgent. I need to place the greater emphasis on reaching people rather than the capacity or role in which I reach them.
Are you focusing on the important or the urgent?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV
My family and I are nearing our first year anniversary at the place of ministry in which God has placed us for this time. Today, in a informal meeting, we were reminiscing about the past year and it's experiences. During the course of the conversation one of my most apparent weaknesses was mentioned. I call it a weakness, most would consider it a personality trait. Believe me, from the vantage point of the bearer of the trait, it can seem like a weakness.
I have blogged about this before and I am sure that I will again. Call it charisma, dynamic personality, excitability or whatever else it is called, whatever it is, I do not have it. Never did, never will!
It is simple, really. Personality is largely hard-wired from infancy - from a time during which we had little to no control of our environment. Our temperament, personality, mannerisms and, especially, the way we portray ourselves around people cannot readily be changed at the core of our being. We can adapt our actions in an attempt to fit into specific roles or situations, but over the long term such adaptation will become exhausting.
If I'm not dynamic, what am I? I am real! When I counsel an individual, lead a Bible study, teach a class, preach the Word and minister in any capacity, those watching and listening are seeing a minuscule amount of my ability and a truckload of God's power! I never want to portray anything fake or anything that misrepresents who I am. If I ever did I would be robbing God of his glory!
It's by God's power that I can even speak to one person. There was a day when speaking to even the smallest groups would have me swallowing a half bottle of antacids beforehand. God has brought me a long, long way. I receive the criticism about my lack of the dynamic as a testimony to God's grace and faithfulness. You see, in order to be criticized for something, one has to be, at least, trying to do that something. I remember when I would not have even tried.
The next time you are criticized, instead of trying to adapt and fake it, why not let God take it and just watch what he alone can do!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is , there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. "
The past few weeks have been amazing in regard to what God is doing in his Church at Grace Fellowship. We have just surpassed the one year anniversary of Grace Fellowship's existence and we have been experiencing the moving of the Holy Spirit in our services.
I have noticed a couple of factors that have been instrumental in preparing the way and creating the avenues for the Spirit's working.
- Prayer - There have been several men, who have been gathering around our lead pastor before the AM service and praying for the Lord's anointing to empower his messenger as he brings God's Word. There are also those who spend a great deal of time in prayer and fasting, both privately and corporately, for the church. God is honoring these things.
- Expectation - A common statement to hear around Grace Fellowship is, "We just can't wait to see what God is going to do next." It is that expectancy that prepares hearts to be open to whatever the Holy Spirit wants to do in each person. If we expect the Holy Spirit to do something, he, most likely, will.
I have determined in my mind and heart that I am going to expect God to "show-up big" in all of our our services - children, youth and adults. Regardless of what songs we're singing, who is preaching and what the message is about. In these past weeks, I have seen God take a simple and short message and touch the hearts and lives of many.
As the verse above says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." The presence of the Holy Spirit is what draws people. That is something that can't be programed; however, it can be practiced. I am expecting great things in the weeks and months to come. As we draw closer to God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we will see even greater things as he makes us more like Christ and his glory is revealed.
Got the Spirit?