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Friday, December 17, 2010

Destroying the Enemy Within

Small ministries do not become big ministries until the leaders become content with being small themselves. GOD keeps his distance from the proud. Psalm 138:6

One simple question...

What do you do to keep pride from rearing it's ugly head in your life and ministry?

Friday, November 26, 2010

What Are You Giving This Christmas?

From the World's point of view, the Christmas season has begun. Millions of Christmas gifts will be bought today in an effort to show affection toward or please someone.

However, when it comes to gift giving, I think John 3:16 says it best. "For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE..." God gave out of the love that HE IS and can only come from him (1 John 4:7-8).

You will give a lot this Christmas. Are you giving out of that true & godly love, or are you giving from a counterfeit that is based solely on your feelings.

It's not what you give, it's the source from which it's given. The greatest gifts cannot be bought, wrapped, bagged, boxed, checked-out or shipped. The greatest gifts are what you give of yourself in love. God's Love!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A New Season

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:"

- Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

Ah, Fall! It's my favorite time of year. In these parts, the air is crisp and clean and just a few moments spent outside is invigorating. However, the Fall season signals change. If we looked at it as part of a circular pattern, it appears to indicate a descent toward an end, the end of the calendar year and the end to the warmth and life brought by Spring and Summer.

So why do I like it? I like Fall because of the changes it brings. No longer do I sweat through several shirts a day. No longer do we have to juggle schedules to ensure that our kids are being cared for and not "home alone" - argggghhhh! (McCauley Kulkin reference). Fall brings change.

Oddly enough, I have always embraced change. I have always experienced my greatest growth as a Christian and as a person through change. Robin and I are sensing a change in our lives. Whether it it be in ministry or some other aspect - God knows. But, whatever it is, we want to embrace it, learn from it, grow in it and celebrate it. Change matures us in Christ and develops the trust and faith required to follow God through the changes of our lives.

There is a time for everything - even change!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sorry, God

I know that we all have been there. We've all gone through those times when things just were not going right. The past couple weeks have been that way and I found myself questioning God. I would ask things like, "Why are our finances so tight when we have been faithfully serving you?"
"We can't even afford the gas to go walk around a free street fair, what's the deal with that?"

Last week I heard a sermon by one of my favorite speakers and it hit me. I had allowed a spirit of entitlement into my life. I was acting like all of my efforts in serving God were deposits into the "God Bank" and I wanted some withdrawals.

I don't deserve anything. I don't deserve salvation, but I'm so thankful that Christ bought it for me anyway. I don't deserve discounts because I'm a pastor and my family doesn't deserve free rides to various functions because of the ministry in which God has placed us.

GOD DOES NOT OWE ME ANYTHING

I OWE HIM EVERYTHING


I have decided, to once again, submit to God's sovereignty in my life and leave it in his hands.

Who's with me?


Thursday, August 19, 2010

BTTB 8-19-2010 - Thoughts on Today's Devotions

see intro to 8-17 -2010 post...

8-19-2010

2 Samuel 6:1-23

A) Play by the rules - God killed Uzzah for doing what seemed like a harmless, even protective thing, but God will punish those who break his rules. Uzzah knew the rules and he could of grabbed the poles used to carry the ark, but he touched the ark - the throne of God.

B)
David & Michal - God comes first, wanting to be first instead of God gets you in trouble. It's amazing how disrespect and dishonor can hurt a marriage and destroy a lineage.

Psalm 149

Funny how the psalmist is commanding the people to do exactly what David was doing when Michal disrespected him. Are we pleasing God or are we hesitating because we are afraid to offend someone?

Ezekiel 36:1-15

Prophecy of God's righteous judgment against Israel's enemies and his vindication of Israel.

John 2:1-12

Wedding Time - The wine is running or has run out -Gasp (the Horror) Jesus says it is not his time - he is working on God's timetable and is not a miracle worker on demand. His mother, shows submission by telling the servants to do whatever Jesus asks - even if it is nothing... Are we that submissive when we ask something of Christ?

1 Timothy 3:14-16

Order in the church is important because it is by the formality of church that TRUTH is to be taught.

Love God's Word!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BTTB 8-18-2010

*see intro to 8-17-10 post

8-18-2010

2 Samuel 5:1-25

God rewards faithfulness and obedience. God gave David to be king over Judah then, all of Israel a reign that lasted 40 years. David inquired of God before making decisions and God answered - bringing victory according to David's obedience.

Have I inquired of the Lord today? Have I heard from him before I act?

Psalm 148

All creation praises God. We, too, must praise Him. It is for this purpose that we were created and given our intellect, that we might know God and bring Him praise.

God has raised up a king and anointed one for Israel.


Ezekiel 35:1-15

A warning against those who stand as enemies with Israel. God will pour his righteous judgment on all those who laugh and delight is Israel calamity. In the end Israel will be standing and her enemies will be in ruins. All will know exactly WHO God is!

John 1:35-51

Andrew, Peter and Nathaniel's' introduction to Jesus. They marveled at what he could do and what he knew. Do we believe in and serve Christ just for what he can do and do for us or do we believe in and serve him because he is Lord?


1 Timothy 3:8-13

More on Church Leadership. Deacons (elders, church leaders) must be of good character, not two-faced , they must be honest, sober with wives of the same character. As leaders, we must never act in a way that will discredit Christ's church.



until tomorrow...


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BTTB - "Blogging Through the Bible

This idea came to me yesterday during my devotions. Since, I'm not one for journaling (because I doubt I would ever read what I wrote), I thought I would pound out some short reflections on my daily devotions. Please do not attempt to link the various passages together each day, as I use a 5-lane reading approach in my devotions. That is, I read 5 passages of scripture from various books of the Bible daily. I use - Dr. Leroy Bartels' Necessary Food - available for free download from http://www.gracefellowshipcanton.org/ Click the link on the home page that says, "Necessary Food".

It is said that if one stays current with the reading schedule, that one would read the entire Bible in a year. For me, I strive to gain understanding from each passage and sometimes, repeat them until understanding is achieved. So I am not as concerned with how fast I eat as I am with the nutrition I am taking in at each meal.

Please note that this is not a commentary and is in no way authoritative. It is simply a personal excercise in the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading.

8-17-10

2 Samuel 3:6-4:12

Wow, what a mess. David is king and some of his high-ranking officials are running amuk and taking matters into their own hands, killing individuals without the kings knowledge or consent. Some even tried to pass it off as service to the king, but David had two of these individuals killed for their wickedness.

Far to often we think we know what is best and act on our initial impulses. We can actually believe we are doing our leadership and our God a service, but the damage caused by such actions far outweigh any benefit.


Psalm 147

It is amazing the amount of care that God lavishes on his creation. Not even the cry of a small raven escapes his ears! He cares about the smallest things, and he cares about us. Are you down? Is your heart broken? God wants to heal you.

Ezekiel 34:25-31

How faithful God is to his people - to Israel. God will provide for Israel, and we can be confident that he will deliver and protect them.

John 1:19-24

John the Baptist knew his place and he knew his purpose. He didn't draw attention to himself, but reflected attention to whom he served. He looked to Jesus as we are to. Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit - it is he who I need to seek daily.

1 Timothy 3:1-7

Talk about a tough standard. Church leadership are to be people who are gentle, humble, self controlled, accountable, responsible and respectable. The toughest question asked is, how can one lead the church if he cannot lead his home?

Until tomorrow...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stretching...

It was like walking down a vaguely familiar hallway, fumbling for a set of keys and then trying to remember which key would unlock the door. I purposely haven't blogged, haven't walked down the writing hallway for quite some time. I had to remember how to access this blog again, fumbling through passwords until I finally got in. Why, you ask?

This past spring, I realized something. I was becoming content to sit at a desk, pounding away on a keyboard - writing about making a difference, rather than actually making a difference. I wanted to touch lives, real flesh and bone people, who needed touched as much or more as I needed God to touch them through me.

Recently, my family and I went with the youth group from our church on a 10-day missions trip. What I learned during the trip is beginning to change my life and my ministry. While I was happy to write a few paragraphs each day, hoping that the words would touch someones life, I now realize even more, that people need to see Christ's love, care and concern for them in felt ways - not just words on a page.

This change required some stretching, no, major stretching, for me. On the trip, I found myself talking with strangers on the street; something that I was never comfortable doing. Can I tell you that it is scary when God shatters our comfortable little bubble that we tend to stay in.

My prayer this summer, has been that God uses me not only to reach people, but continues to give me a genuine love for people. I am adding to that prayer that God will use me both through writing and ministering personally to people. Reaching people takes many approaches, from all of us who bear Christ's name.

Have you been stretched lately?

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Re-Realizing" The Call

Every now and then, God will use someone to speak life into my spirit. Today, someone reminded me what an honor it is to be called to ministry. The term she used was "re-realize". I think, far too often, pastors and ministry leaders for get that and need to "re-realize" the truth of the fact.

If we are not enjoying the privilege of ministry, something is wrong - most often the problem is our focus. We need to " re-realize" our call, who called us and who we are called to serve.

Lord, help me to "re-realize" your call daily!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rethinking an Old Addage

There is a revival, of sorts, of an old phrase going around social media these days. It says, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car." At first glance and even with some introspection, I thought, "Yeah, I can agree with that." But then I thought again when I noticed the list of people "liking" the phrase. It seems that church-goers and non church-goers, alike are readily clicking their like button.

Let's look at the two differing viewpoints that seem to be associated with this phrase.

  1. To the churched, this phrase is a challenge. It asks us to examine our hearts and our motives for attending church. Are we there to glorify God, grow in Christ and in love for each other? Or, are we there because it's the thing to do and we can benefit socially?
  2. To the unchurched, this phrase seems to present a justification for not attending church. While church attendance, alone, doesn't provide forgiveness for sin or the love, joy and peace that only a relationship with Christ can bring. This phrase can easily become an excuse for not going to church.

But something is missing from this phrase. Something that most people fail to consider. When a person is in right-standing with God - becoming more Christ-like - experiencing true life change, they WANT to go to church. They want to be around and hang-out with other Christians. That is why church attendance is an excellent gauge of where we are with Christ.

It is true that going to church won't make us a Christian, but, then again, neither will hanging out in our garage.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Great Read

I do a fair amount of reading. There are books that I read by assignment and books that I read by choice. The latter, must meet a couple of requirements before I'll open the cover and, subsequently, continue reading.

First, the topic has to be practical - something that I can apply to my life and ministry, if not today, then tomorrow. I'm not looking for instant gratification, I'm looking for instant application.

Dick Hardy delivers in his book 27 Tough Questions Pastors Ask By keeping his finger on the pulse of what it is to be a pastor, Hardy offers practical advice in six areas that pastors encounter nearly every day. From Leadership to Hospitality and Staffing to Discipleship, Hardy challenges pastors to take an honest look at their ministry as well as themselves and make some important evaluations

As I read, I found myself getting excited as I imagined how best to implement the ideas and suggestions Hardy so graciously gives the reader. "We could do that." "Yeah, I could be better in that area." Those are just a few of my thoughts through the pages of the book. Challenging.

Second, in order for me to keep reading, the author's tone needs to be conversational. Hardy writes as though he is sitting with the reader, having an invested conversation in the reader's ministry. This book was written by a man with a heart for God, people and your ministry.

It isn't often that I endorse a book; however, Hardy's book is a must-read for all pastors. Our ministries, people and, ultimately, God's Kingdom will benefit.

thehardygroup.org

Friday, May 14, 2010

Repeating the Important

I recently attended a conference that featured a variety of well-known speakers. One of these speakers was the legendary, Zig Ziglar. I was looking forward to hearing him; however, what I didn't know was that he had fallen a few years ago and has suffered short term memory loss. He speaks with the help of his daughter, who does her best to keep him on track.

With his impaired memory, Zig would keep returning to and reiterating one topic, loving and cherishing your spouse. At the time, I could feel the crowds uneasiness as Zig would repeat what he had just said moments earlier. I felt sad, knowing the history of this great orator and then to see him in a diminished capacity.

Over the last 2 days since the conference; however, I have been contemplating a new perspective. While it wasn't Zig's intent to repeat the same thing over and over, it may have been God's intent to drive a message home to the thousands attending that day.

Success isn't measured by wealth, possessions or even talent. It is measured by God and our relationships with our spouse, family and friends. Are you chasing the important? That is a question worth repeating everyday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mind Your List

Last week, I had the privilege of chaperoning the backstage area of our local High School during a performance of the spring musical. I must admit, I felt like a hall monitor - keeping couples from stealing away into some remote corner of the school, keeping the guys out of the girls changing room and the girls out of the guy's (the latter having the most attempts - crazy girls).

Our oldest sons were involved in the production and, it was interesting to notice that, every time the boys were not on stage, they would stand beside me. In one instance, Brandon was sitting on my knee.

In today's culture, many teens don't want anything to do with their parents. I'm thankful for the strong bond that we have with each one of our kids. Of all the factors that influence the parent-child relationship, none influence it more, than not putting your kids first. Yes, you read that right, NOT putting your kids first.

For any relationship to thrive, the persons involved must have good priorities. a good relational priority list looks something like this:

  1. God
  2. Spouse
  3. Family
  4. Church
  5. Ministry/Work
Any deviation from this order brings danger to our lives. Any weakness in any position on the list will effect the other positions, especially those positions that are beneath the weak area.

Want to be a good spouse? Love God
Want to be a good parent? Love your spouse.
Want to have a fulfilling career? Spend quality time with your family, so you can enjoy what your working for!

What? you don't have a priority list? Can I encourage you to write one today? Once you have it written, make the choice to mind it.

Blessings!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Inconvienient

My wife, Robin, is away for about 27 hours this weekend. Yeah, I'm counting down the minutes until her return. I am really praying that she has a great time, that God moves by His Spirit at the convention and that her dog does NOT have her puppies while she is away.

Robin is the one who always helps our dogs deliver their pups - a task that I have not done. Just the thought of the, well, never mind.

I know it's selfish and childish of me to want Robin here to deal with a pregnant dog. Yeah, I can be a little selfish. I don't want the inconvenience of delivering puppies and then making sure that this first-time mother is taking care of them. See? I told you. Selfish, right?

However, many of us do this everyday in the spiritual realm of our lives. We don't want the inconvenience of bringing the tangible gospel to the unbelievers that we encounter everyday. Maybe we begrudge the idea of walking with new believers as the Spirit births them into a new level in Christ.

Interesting how selfishness doesn't enhance life, no matter if we're talking about people or puppies, souls or pets.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's Coming!

I know the blog has been quiet as of late. Thinking about something and I will try to get something new on here in the next day or so. Thanks for the patience!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MORE - A "Tail" of Two Squirrels


"More of you, more of you, I've had it all, but what I need, is more of you. Of things I've had my fill and yet, I hunger still,
Thirsty and dry, Lord hear my cry, for more of you!"

The other day, while I was driving to the office, I noticed a squirrel scampering across the road, it's cheeks bulging with a collection of unknown treasures, no doubt gathered in a nearby yard. I was instantly reminded that God is a God of provision - even for rodent-like creatures with bushy tails! I also considered that, while God's provision was plentiful, that squirrel still had to make an effort and collect that provision. That squirrel was simply doing it's part of the arrangement.

A few miles farther down the road, I noticed a rather slow moving creature, crossing the road in the distance ahead of me. As I came closer, I saw that this creature was another squirrel that was, half carrying and half dragging an entire ear of corn with it's mouth. I could just imagine the delight of this particular squirrel in the treasure it had found. You can imagine it too. I imagined this squirrel thinking, "WOW! Jackpot! Wait till the guys see this!

You and I are a lot like those squirrels in the sense that God provides for our spiritual well being everyday. We have the opportunity to collect that provision, taking it into our lives and our families. However, how many times do we exchange the complete infusion of God into our lives for one spiritual nut? How often do we sit in a church pew and are content with just a slight touch from God when we could have a complete and fresh infilling of his Holy Spirit?

I am not saying that small spiritual truths are insignificant and not beneficial. Indeed, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit is often what we need to hear. I am saying that the more we open ourselves up, the more we seek to collect the riches of God's love, mercies and power, the more God will be in our lives.

So, which squirrel are you? Are you content with a few nuts? Or, do you want the giant ear of corn? The more we want of God, the more we will receive!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Fear or Faith?

Today, in my devotions, I was reading in the book of Numbers about the twelve scouts from the tribes of Israel sent to explore the promised land. Of the twelve, only two gave a report filled with faith, while the others told tales that filled the people's hearts with fear.

Caleb and Joshua told Moses that that land was good and that the Israelites, with God's help could take it from it's inhabitants. The other 10 scouts, agreed that the land was good, but stated that the inhabitants of the land were too big, too strong and their cities were too fortified. The people were quick to believe the report of the 10 over the report of the two.

True to form, as soon as the people were up against an obstacle, they wanted to back down. They actually wanted to go back to Egypt. They would have rather returned to a life of slavery than to confront an obstacle.

Many of us are still like that. Rather than obtaining victory over the obstacles in our lives through Christ, we would rather stay right where we are, or worse, regress back into the old habits and thought-patterns that once held us captive. We choose to believe the reports that say, we are not good enough, not knowledgeable enough, not strong enough or not worthy enough to achieve victory. Guess what, we aren't! The Israelites were not all of those things. They would have had God on their side, fighting for them, if they only exercised their faith. We serve the same God and he fights for us and shows his strength in our weakness.

I've always imagined that seeing God part the Red Sea would have been a faith-building experience. Yet the Israelites still cowered every time the going got tough. How many Red Sea experiences have we had and yet we are still tempted to cower at the obstacles that lay before us? God did bring the Nation of Israel into the promised land - a generation later. Don't let a lack of faith cause you to miss out on what God has for you.

What is the primary factor that determines your decisions and belief? Is it fear or faith?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Living It Loud


"Let us not become weary in doing good , for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:9-10 NIV

It was an interesting weekend. I had the opportunity to spend a couple days with some great guys at a convention. While there, in between sessions on Saturday, I was enjoying a large french vanilla latte - foo foo coffee I know. As I was walking along, browsing the various ministry tables, a guy who I recognized from various district ministry functions came up to me and asked me where I purchased my coffee.
When I answered, he asked if they take debit cards - that was a question I didn't know the answer to, so I said, "If they don't, I'll buy you one." I proceeded to follow him to the cafe' during which time an acquaintance of his joined him. While he was standing in line, I heard him ask his friend if he knew me - He did not. They were both giving me a suspicious eye while I waited several yards to the side of the line, ready to make good on my offer if needed. Once I saw that they did take debit cards, I walked away.

Fast-forward to Sunday morning. Within a half mile of our church building while driving to church, our son noticed an elderly woman frantically waving her arms as she struggled to get out of her car which was off of the road in the yard of a business. Within minutes, we had two men from our church at the scene and pulled her car out of the yard and back onto the road.

I drove her car to her church while this dear saint rode with one of the guys that had helped. Confused and scared, she needed our comfort most of all. Her car, being damaged, would no longer safe to drive, so we waited with her at her church for someone to come and unlock the doors for the morning services.


I was proud of our guys from the church for their willingness to help and their servant's heart. I was also amazed at the surprise and shock that the woman had that we would be willing to help a stranger. To us, not helping was unthinkable. To her, us helping seemed strange.

It doesn't matter if people think you're a crazed psychopath who randomly offers to buy someone a cup of coffee, or a stranger who isn't afraid of a little mud on a Sunday morning. Our faith and our God commands us to be ready to serve, especially those who are knit together with us as Christians.

Live your faith loud - words whisper but ACTIONS SCREAM!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

For Whom do I Write?

I did something today that I should have done a long time ago. I removed the sitemeter from my blogs. It was always fascinating to see where readers were from; however, I feared that it was beginning to feed the beginnings of some narcissistic tendencies in my life.

I do not have a desire to write for any one's entertainment. I truly desire to serve the reader by allowing God to use me to enrich lives through the written word.

So, what does all that mean? Simply this. I will no longer know who is reading this blog or where you are from. I will continue to write my thoughts, convictions, feelings, desires and, most importantly, my devotionals for the readers benefit and God's glory.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So, You Want to Lead - Part 2 "Leadership is Messy"


Today, as I was reading in Leviticus during my devotional time, I noticed all the sacrifices that the Levite Priests were to assist the people with. The Priests were the religious leaders of that time. In my reading, it seemed that a priest always had his hands in blood and guts. Whether it was cutting the fat off of internal organs or sprinkling blood on the altar sides and horns. Imagine what they would look like after a day of serving at the altar.


I am not sure that I could butcher a bull, goat, lamb or even a bird and not get messy. I surely could not sling blood around and not get it all over me.


I remember a time when we were raising cattle and I had bought some older calves to feed out until it was time to butcher them. These large calves were bulls and they were starting to display a bullish attitude. To remedy the problem, I rented a confinement chute and scheduled our local vet to come out and give them an "attitude adjustment". As a side job, I also had him remove the large horns they had grown.


Talk about a bloody mess! By the time the procedures were finished, blood was all over me, the vet, the chute and my van (which I neglected to unhook from from the chute - duh). However, these bulls needed this procedure and the change it brought. It calmed their attitude, allowed them to produce a more flavorful meat, and allowed them to grow more quickly. Hmm, sound familar?


How many of us, if we are honest, were bullish in nature at a time in our lives? Did Christ make a difference in you when he began to cut away those things that made you bullish?


Often, there was someone, perhaps a pastor, mentor or teacher, who was there with us during the beginning of the process, that probably got more than a little messy for us. That is an important aspect of leadership that we who lead, or want to lead must grasp. Leadership is MESSY! If you are afraid or unwilling to get messy when it comes to carrying the love and grace of Christ to your church, community and world, then I dare say that leadership is not for you, until you are, indeed, willing.


Are you afraid of getting messy? If you want to lead, getting messy is not optional.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

God...



"Many years later the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery and cried out. Their cries for relief from their hard labor ascended to God:

God listened to their groanings.

God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

God saw what was going on with Israel.

God understood"
Exodus 2: 23-25 The Message


Imagine how tough a life of slavery would be - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Being in bondage and seeing no way out would be enough to completely break a person. I wonder how many of the Israelites were tempted to give up on their prayers for deliverance? Quite a few, I suppose.

I am reminded about how often we find ourselves in discouraging, fearful and, seemingly, hopeless situations in our lives. But, there is good news! Just as God cared for the children of Israel in their bondage to Egypt, God cares for you and I in the trials and tests of our lives.

Look at what the Bible says about God...

  1. God listened - Just as God heard the cries of his people in bondage, he hears our cries and our prayers today. We can be assured that God has his attention directed toward each one of us at all times.
  2. God remembered - God remembered his covenant with Abraham and did not abandon his people. Neither has Christ abandoned us or his covenant with us - a covenant written with his own blood. Although there are times in our lives when we feel alone, we can stand convinced that Christ will never leave us or abandon us, at any time.
  3. God saw - God was fully aware of his people's situation and, at the proper time, he acted upon what he saw. Isn't it awesome to know that God is looking at us, right now? He knows our needs, our feelings and our desires. He sees us!
  4. God understood - Beyond listening, remembering and seeing, God understands what we are going through no matter how great or how small the circumstance. That's incredible! God is infinitely able to understand, empathize and show compassion to his people. Additionally, when his son, Jesus Christ, became flesh, he also became acquainted with everything we go through on this earth.

We serve a God like that! A real, personal, loving and caring God who is so intimately aware of us, that he longs for a close relationship with us everyday!

I don't know about you, but I think this is stuff to shout about! God is AWESOME!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Obedience is Good! But, to Whom?

"So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own." Ex 1:20-21 NIV

We've been taught since our childhood to be obedient. That's a good thing, for sure; however, who we are obedient to, is equally important. We live in a day that we tend to follow the status-quo in blind obedience to the social norms. A recent poll showed that over 80% of Americans polled indicated that they personally knew someone who claimed to be a Christian. However, only 15% of those people polled said that they noticed a difference in those who professed Christ. WHAT?

The verse above comes from the account in Exodus in which Pharaoh ordered 2 midwives to kill any newborn, Hebrew males while letting female newborns live. Out of their reverence for God, the midwives refused and God was pleased with them.

How many times in our life do we cave into to the expectations of the world and godless leaders simply because of convenience. "But Dave, You aren't talking about anything nearly as serious as the murder of babies!" I'm not so sure.

As Christians, Christ makes a difference in our lives and that difference should be evident by our actions. Those 2 midwives played a vital part in Israel becoming a great nation. They made a difference. You and I can play a vital role in God's Kingdom growing as well.

Our actions are our responsibility, we can be obedient to God, or, by our carelessness and indifference we can be obedient to the world.

Be obedient to Christ and make a difference!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Driving Lesson for Life


" No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Cor 10:13 NIV


This afternoon, our son, Brandon and I were on our way to a doctor's appointment and a hospital visitation call. My van was slowly crawling up a grade and just as we made it to the top we noticed that the road ahead of us was covered with cars and trucks in every direction. I dropped the van into low gear and tapped the brakes and eventually came to a sliding stop well behind the mess of vehicles. Looking in my mirror, I noticed that I couldn't see over the top of the hill that was just behind us.

I immediately drove the van into someones driveway to get off of the road. Just as I did, a car came over the hill top and instantly went into an un-controllable spin as the driver tried to get the car stopped. Had I stayed on the road, there would have been a collision.

I used the experience to teach our son about thinking ahead and foreseeing problems in driving. He learned a valuable lesson today. Maybe we both did. How many times do we find ourselves in a threatening situation, be it a temptation, a potential compromising position or some other sin and fail to remove ourselves from the situation? Instead of pulling into a drive and getting off of the road that the threat is on, we often fail to recognize the threat until it has overtaken us, or, at least comes way too close.


Just as that driveway was there for us to escape an accident, God says in his Word that he will provide a way for us to escape the temptations that come our way. Are you on the lookout for your escape route?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

From Our 11 Year old Son...

Our 11 year-old son Alex wrote this today...

"The word testimony means how you became a Christian and how you have changed. It could also mean test my money, because if your not a Christian then you would probably buy a lot of junk, and not focus on God. But if you changed you could stop buying JUNK and focus on God. So...Test My Money!"

WOOT! Bring it Alex!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Keeping It Open - Revisited

I wrote this post over one year ago and I thought it fitting for today.

1/28/09

Today, in the wake of yet another winter storm, I dug through the snow on my way to our shed. Once there, I got out the snow-blower that my father had given me last year. As I worked my way down the drive, blowing the snow off of a sheet of soft ice, I watched the snow continue to fall.





"Why am I doing this while it is still snowing?" The thought lingered in my mind for a few seconds before the answer hit me. You see, if I keep up with the task, I will not get buried in it. There is a lesson in that moment that can apply to many aspects of our lives.





For me, it was a reminder that if I keep up with my schoolwork, I will not get behind. If I spend the time with my wife and kids, they will never grow distant from me. The ultimate lesson, I believe, came from the Holy Spirit. If I keep my accounts - my heart, mind and soul, clean before God, I will never get buried so far in sin that I will loose out on all that he has for me.





Daily prayer. Daily confession. Daily GRACE. That is keeping it open!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Three Words


"Those three words are said too much, but not enough." - Snow Patrol


How much weight do the words, "I love you" carry when you speak them? Do they roll off of your tongue easily, as in a polite response? Social media has propogated this - big time! What do you mean when you say, "I love you?"

Just thinking in writing...

Friday, January 29, 2010

So, You Want to Lead?

Remember Recess? Ah, that short period of time during our elementary school days, spent playing kickball, freeze tag, red rover and various other games. Fun stuff! I remember one game, in particular, in which everyone that wanted to play had to follow the lead of one particular person - doing whatever he/she did, well, to the best of our ability. It was called 'Follow the Leader". It was never as fun as the other games. It wasn't long before someone would get tired of following and declare their desire to be the leader. Typically, this was followed by either a verbal exchange or a fight. The leader wanted to keep his/her position and the followers wanted some say in the course of the game. Kids!

But what if this is more than just a "kid" problem? What then? Has this problem found its way into our homes and churches? Sadly, I believe it has.

I remember, a few years back, an acquaintance of mine named Earl Creps wrote a blog post entitled "Leading From the Middle." I was instantly intrigued. The post went completely against the flow of everything I was seeing, reading and experiencing around me at that time.

You see, leadership is far more than just a title on a card, plaque, sign or letterhead. It involves a great many responsibilities and the first responsibility on the list is being a servant. Jesus himself said it...

"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."
Mark 9:35 NIV


In our churches, the pastor is a leader. I like how the Bible uses the analogy of a shepherd and sheep to relate to a pastor and the church.

Years ago, I used to deliver feed to farms. One day, I delivered several ton of sheep feed to a particular farm. While unloading the feed I asked the farmer if the sheep knew his voice and followed him. To my amazement he just looked at me and laughed. He went on to explain that to guide sheep one has to walk beside them, tapping them gently with the rod. The only time a farmer will get in front of sheep is when he wants them to go away from him. That lesson has stuck with me.

If a leader wants to lead the people entrusted to him, he/she must walk with them, know them and be a part of them. If a leader is too far out front, he/she will not be in touch with the people who, really do want to learn from and be equipped by him/her.

By positioning oneself within the group of people that one leads, every person in that group has the opportunity to “see the leader's heart". I used the word “see” because most often, leadership isn't verbal. Don't you think the disciples might have been a little incredulous as to the importance of being a servant if Jesus would have merely told them to wash someones feet?

So, you want to lead? Please realize that our leadership ability is vastly determined by our willingness to be, first and foremost, a servant. Knowing that, we realize that our purpose is far greater than our position.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kamikaze Crappies

Many moons ago, I used to guide on the local reservoirs - taking clients out fishing for bass, walleye, crappie (pronounced crop-eee) and muskie. On one particular day we were trolling for walleye and doing very well as we had close to the day's limit of 18 to 22-inch walleye on ice in the cooler. My client that day, was thrilled with his catch but he, still, had one desire - to catch a big walleye.

Always being one who would strive to please customers, I changed our technique in order to target larger fish. There is an old adage within the sport of fishing that says, "If you want to catch larger fish, use larger bait."
That's exactly what I did. Within minutes of changing to larger lures, my client was reeling in a fish.

This fish was different; however, as there was no bend in the rod. This fish made no last-ditch effort to head for the lake bottom as it neared the boat. Within a minute the fish was flopping on the floor at the rear of the boat. What kind of fish was it? A crappie, with proportions of about the same size of the lure, had decided to attempt the impossible and attack the lure kamikaze-style. This scenario repeated itself several times before we abandoned the effort and headed to the dock.

Now, years later, I am remembering this and, immediately, I was quickened to write down an analogous lesson from that day.

Those crappie, like all fish, have to eat to survive. They were just doing what comes natural - eating. But within the pea-sized and rudimentary brains of those particular crappie, was a "Yeah, I can eat that",impulse which never considered the realities of size and proportion. They saw an opportunity and they went for it!

Think about the many opportunities that God gives us in life and, when we see it, our first impulse is, "Oh, I can't do that." Maybe we think the opportunity looks to big, maybe we think it is intimidating or we think that the opportunity is beyond our capability. When a fish sees some food and is hungry, they do not think! Are we thinking to much?

The Apostle Paul writes...


"For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need."
Phil 4:13 NLT
Paul did not say, I think I can, he said, "I can..."
What is God asking you to do, that you have been reluctant to do because of your thinking? Paul said, "I can" because he knew that he could in Christ! His faith enabled a boldness in him by the power of the Holy Spirit.
With faith and action comes risk. Paul payed a high cost, he risked his own life and sometimes ended up on a hook. But, look at the results!
You have to eat in order to grow. In the Spiritual realm one grows by excercising their faith - no matter how small.
What about You? Step out in faith, saying, "In Christ, I can do it!"
Those crappies may have ended up on a hook, but their story ended up in this devotion...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

10 + 10 = 3,000


I was studying for one of my classes today and heard Dr. Larry Hestor mention that in the book of Acts, chapters 1 and 2, there were 10 days between the time of Christ's ascension and the day of Pentecost. I immediately grabbed my Bible and read through these chapters. What were the disciples doing for those 10 days?





They all met together continually for prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. Acts 1:14 NLT (emphasis mine)


Whoa! They were praying for 10 days! Then the Holy Spirit came. So on that 10th day - the day of Pentecost, Peter stands up, being full of the Holy Spirit, and preaches a sermon- it's recorded portion in Acts 2 only lasts about 10 minutes and 3,000 people get saved. In chapter 2, verse 40, Luke writes that Peter used, "many other words", but the whole basis of the sermon was probably over rather quickly.


Flash-forward 2000+ years. How often do we pray for 10 minutes, preach or listen to a 20-30 minute sermon, and expect God's Holy Spirit to move on the hearts of some if not all attending the service? The years have brought a great reversal to the church. Perhaps a new approach should be, pray more, preach less and let the Holy Spirit do his thing.


Prayerfully advancing...


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Got It!


Some of you may know that I have been wanting to write a book for some time. I have various pieces in the works but haven't had any direction on any of them in particular. Yesterday, I was thinking about it and I asked God what he would have me write. One word immediately popped into my mind. A word which brought back a flood of memories.


Now that I have the title and some direction, I can begin, prayerfully, planning and writing. This is exciting...


Friday, January 22, 2010

It Is A God-Thing!

The other day, my Facebook status said that the day would have to be a "God-Thing". We were only half way through the month and we were. quite honestly, out of money. We had very little gas, no money in the bank account and we were frustrated about having to buy our gas on our debit/credit card in order to get to the church office.
"God, it has to be you now" That is what I prayed that day. I knew I had done all that I could.

Later that day, we were working in the church office when someone came in and presented Robin and I with a card. Written inside of the card was an account of this couples' prayer time earlier in the week. During their individual prayers, God spoke our names to them and prompted them to help us. Also inside the card was two $50.00 bills. That was more than double what we had just charged on our card at the gas station.

When we are faithful, He is always more than faithful!

Yep, It's a God-Thing!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm Glad God is God

I was reading in Genesis today about God's conversations ( how cool is that in itself) with Abram/Abraham. I was fascinated by the patience God showed him and his wife. In the account of Abraham's life, we see him saying and doing much of the same things we would say and do. What? Why? How? When? All of these are either verbalized or inferred in those passages in Genesis.

What if God moved quicker - caved in to Abraham's desires and Abraham's timetable? Wow, what a mess that would be. We read a little of that with the whole Hagar thing. Now that would be a touchy camp - "Awkward"

God is patient for a reason. He can see what we can't. I'm glad for his guidance and when you tend to be impatient like me, I'm thankful for his patience.

Friday, January 15, 2010

COME OUT! Show Your Scars

"Everyone goes in - everyone gets hurt, everyone enters a time of pain - relational, emotional, physical and spiritual. But not everyone comes out."
-Dave Roever

When you are hurt, how will you come out? What can God do in you and through you as a result of your pain?
We tend to be such a private people. Your scars are a testimony to both a wound and healing. Maybe someone needs to see them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Greatestt "I"


"Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name." Rev 3:12-13 NIV (emphasis mine)


I've written extensively about "I". Usually, it's in a negative connotation - referring to selfishness, being self-centered and ego centrism. However, today, I'm writing to convey something that I'm learning more about everyday. For years I have struggled with feelings of inferiority. I would allow those feelings to dominate my life. I would lay awake at night and think, "If I only could do that." Or, "If I only had that."


In addition, I would tell myself that I wasn't good enough. Because I was calculating my worth based on what I could or could not do. "I can't be a speaker, I have a social phobia." I can't be a marriage counselor, I come from a long history of dysfunction" And, the big one, "I can't be a pastor, I fail everyday."


Everything I believed, everything I thought I knew was wrong. Actually, what I thought was inferiority, was pride. I really thought that I had the ability to change my heart, my habits and my life. Ugh- the arrogance!


This year one of my resolutions was to stop trying so hard. Why? Because I can't make the changes or make the progress I want to make on my own. That is something that God alone has to do. I really feel that the greatest growth occurs in my life when I simply get out of the way.


God says in his Word I will make you into pillars. We simply have to let him. After all he is the great "I" AM!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Declare Your Dependence

Matt 5:3 NLT
God blesses those who realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

We are on a journey. I am glad for your company as, together, we learn some things from God’s Word that will strengthen and encourage our marriages and enrich our lives.

Our first stop on the journey towards true happiness is foundational for the miles that lie ahead. Last week, I wrote about how fleeting human happiness can be and the lengths we go to achieve it. We can amass great wealth, great fame and even build a great family and still be relatively void of happiness – true happiness.

True happiness is not momentary, nor is it found in things, or even, our relationships here in this world. True happiness comes from God – more importantly, our need of Him. We get so wrapped up in trying - Trying to be the best husband/wife, trying to be the best father/mother, trying to be a good worker, pastor, teacher or church member. Simply, trying to be a good Christian can become heavy at times.

There is something liberating in saying, “I can’t do this without you, God.” Once that prayer is uttered, something happens. Something within us breaks and there is a joy that fills our hearts.

Suppose you were assigned a task – let’s say you were given the responsibility of, umm… - peeling several hundred pounds of potatoes (hey, I am an X-Navy guy). One could assume that peeling several hundred pounds of potatoes would be a daunting task. However, how would you feel if someone brought you a peeler machine? Sure, you would still have to move the bags of potatoes, load and empty the machine, dispose of the peels and wash the freshly peeled potatoes, but the task would become much less daunting.

It is the same when we acknowledge our need for God. We still have to make an effort but the heavy parts of our lives are now placed on His broad shoulders. He lightens our load.

Are you struggling to find happiness in your life?

“Cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Are you struggling to find happiness in your marriage? Jesus said…

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
(Matthew 11:29-30 NIV)
Do not let your struggle for happiness rob you of enjoying the source of joy. Declare your dependence, your marriage’s dependence and your family’s dependence on God. God wants you to realize your need of him in every aspect of your life.

The journey continues…

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Resolutions Revisited

I knew better. I caution others never to say this word. I should not have used this word. However, worse than saying it, I wrote it.

Listed in my 2010 resolutions was a statement that, well, stated that I wouldn't go on another all-veggie diet again -"ever". OK. So I'm not really on a diet, but my lead pastor has called as many that are able and willing to another 21-day Daniel Fast. But my "diet" - the foods I can eat are all of the non-animal, non-dairy etc. variety.

It's no secret that God has much left to do in me and through me. Perhaps this fast is to bring me into alignment with what he is already wanting to do with me.

Prayerfully advancing...