Monday, December 16, 2013
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Here is what I'm angry about.
- I'm angry that I can't sleep through the night without getting up and checking the house - making sure that nothing is getting hot and that the smoke detectors have green lights.
- I'm angry that quiet times are hard for us.
- I'm angry that we have a beautiful home and can't enjoy it.
- I'm angry when people call us lucky to have this home.
- I'm angry because when we stop working so hard on the house, our minds and hearts will be overrun with the memories and the pain that are both still so real.
- I'm angry that we won't be AS happy for Justin's friends and cousins when they reach milestones in their lives.
- I'm angry that we once pastored a growing church that was developing a passion for God, the lost and ministry to the community, but, while we have stepped back to heal, it has been reduced to half of what it was.
- I'm angry because that fact scares Robin and increases my stress.
- I'm angry that the enemy has people convinced that they can stay out of church for months and still think they're OK.
- I'm angry that for so many families, Satan's strike on our family proved very successful - walking away from church and their faith.
- I'm angry at what all this has done to my health.
- I'm angry that people offer to help and then don't.
- I'm angry that Robin now feels that she has to sleep dressed to make a quick exit if needed.
- I'm angry that she no longer feels safe.
- I'm angry that I lost one of my best friends.
- I'm angry that Robin could add many more things to this list.
- I'm angry that we are dreading Christmas.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Friday, July 19, 2013
I was impressed at his discipline as he was running on a day when many would not.
It reminded me of how fast the years go by. I didn't even know our son, Alex, had left the apartment to go running.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Today, I find myself in a very unfamiliar place. I'm not lost, but I don't know where I am, exactly, either. It's weird, it's frustrating and I don't like it.
Inside, for myself, God has given me peace through this time; however, and curiously, it seems as if this peace is only enough for me.
My pastor's heart is still beating and I desire to be the leader that God has called me to be but, I am struggling to get back into that leadership role.
God's Holy Spirit encourages me, yet, for the first time, I struggle with having the energy, the concentration and, sometimes, even the desire to encourage others. How's that for honesty and transparency.
So many times during the last month I have heard people comment about how strong I am. I immediately think to myself that they must be seeing me in a fleeting stronger-than-others moment.
So, if you ask me how I am doing, I will answer, "Personally, OK, but being the leader and pastor that I need and want to be? Not so good."
I find myself relying on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit more than ever before, which is a lot, because I always have relied on him - he's all I have.
This will be a long journey, but I will make it through Christ.
Friday, May 10, 2013
I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit is speaking to me as of late. Even though our hearts are broken we are encouraged by the knowledge that God knows our heartache and has a plan to redeem the events of April 27, 2013 for His Glory!
I hope to be able to put into writing what God's Holy Spirit is speaking to my heart.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Good question - a question that deserves an answer. Great statement - one which I can agree.
We often hear these things from well-meaning individuals who do hold The Word in the highest esteem as we all should.
Growing up in church I have attended mid-week Bible studies since I was a child. And during those 40 years, I have experienced many presentation styles and materials for Bible Study. The common factor and focus of all the studies was, of course, The Word.
Why the added material and expense of a guide? Why not just use The Word? Truth is, you can - IF the Bible Study leader/facilitator is taking the time to fully exegete each passage before he or she leads the study. Using The Word without published study/teaching guides becomes problematic because so many fail to complete the task of inductive study beforehand.
For instance, take a passage from the Old Testament. What do you do with it? After praying for the Holy Spirit's illumination and guidance, seek to:
Step 1: Grasp the text in their town. What does the text mean to the original biblical audience?
Step 2: Measure the width of the river ( time, culture, context) to cross. What are the differences between the biblical audience and us?
Step 3: Cross the Principlizing Bridge. What is the theological principle in this text? Only this principle can cross the bridge.
Step 4: Pass the New Testament checkpoint. There is a checkpoint in the middle of the bridge that "cars" traveling from the Old Testament must stop at. Does the New Testament teaching modify or qualify this principle, and if so, how?
Step 5: Grasp the text in our town. How should individual Christians today apply the modified or qualified theological principle in their lives?
STEP 6: Discover how God wants individual Christians to share what they have learned from the passage.
The danger in not following the steps of sound hermeneutics - accurate interpretation, is that a Bible study group can end up with a 1-50 car pile-up at the Principalizing Bridge by trying to bring something that is time and culture bound to then and there into the here and now. Additionally, knowledge without application is, well, pointless.
While quite rewarding to the leader and participants and well worth the effort, this process is quite time consuming and if one desires to lead a Bible study without incorporating the use of a study guide, leaders guide or book, then that one must accept the responsibility to complete the task above in it's entirety.
It's very easy to let the words of a question or a statement roll off of one's tongue. However, the responsibility of doing the work must accompany the authority of making such statements and asking such questions. The two are inseparable. To arrive at the whole truth the work must be done, completely by the leader or with the aid of a credible leaders' guide. However it is done God's Word is worth it!
Monday, April 8, 2013
He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, (Mark 6:48 NLT)
Read the last line of the verse again. "He intended to go past them,..." What? Seriously? He was going to walk right by them. But...
How often are we just like the disciples, struggling in the middle of a problem and we fail to notice Jesus walking ON our problem.
The disciples saw Jesus walking through the wind and on the waves they were battling and if they truly saw him for who he is, they would have known that they would have been OK.
It's when our eyes come off of Jesus, when we forget WHO he is that we miss the BOOM!
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
"Is you all on the altar of sacrifice laid?"
Many times, we Christians, if asked that question, would all to quickly answer, "Yes!" However, when pressed further, our answer would soon become, "Yes, except for..."
Those three periods represent a lot. Maybe they represent a significant other, family, hobbies, dreams, ambitions and the like.
It really doesn't matter what it is because All - anything = less than All.
Have you laid YOUR ALL on the altar of sacrifice in order to advance God's Kingdom?
Sometimes, instead of chasing the grand and glorious, we will be most effective for Christ where we are.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
But, even, and especially, if you are not a pastor, there is something to be said for loving,serving and staying in the church you're at.
There is no perfect church, that I am sure of. Granted, I've attended very few churches; however, each one had challenges.
These challenges are many.
One church is too old, with tradition and wisdom marked with age. That, itself can be a challenge, but that can also be a blessing. An older church often can afford projects and has an ample supply of margin - hands lent to those projects.
A younger church has the newness and excitement of blazing trails into new territory; however, a younger church is comprised largely of young families whose schedules are stretched to the limit with urgent activities. Projects are hard to get accomplished and take a great deal longer to finish.
No matter what church, you attend. If you don't like something, find something that needs done and do it. When you serve God by serving in your church you create a culture of improvement and when more people serve, margin is created church-wide and God is glorified.
Friday, March 15, 2013
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ (Matthew 25:45 NLT)
If we say that our life's focus is on loving and pleasing God but we are not concerned with the least of the people he created, we lie and have no part of Christ.
Lord, help me, in thought, word and deed, to lay aside my desires, my wants and even my needs in order to serve all people in your name. No matter where they are, no matter what the pace and no matter what their level of understanding. Let me be the least.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
A wise man recently told me, "If you want to have an amazing life, spend it trying to out give God."
Use well what you are given.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
God has given you gifts and talents. Gifts and talents that are unique to you.
Many Christians make the mistake of thinking less of themselves if they don't prophesy, or, they don't have the gift of healing, or...
Most often in life and, especially, in the church, the greatest blessings come from people who say, I can measure, swing a hammer, run a saw, paint, clean, etc.
What can you do? YOU are a blessing that someone is waiting for, praying for and needing!
Ask people this simple question, "What do you need?" You'll be amazed at how God will use you and the blessing you'll be to others.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall." (Psalm 18:25-29 NLT)
Such a powerful time in God's Word this morning. Awed by His love presence, deliverance and power.
I'm choosing to walk in the light, love and power of my God today. Here comes the BOOM - so can you!
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
A friend posted something along these lines and it's too big of a BOOM to pass up.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Remember that whatever is over your head is under His (Jesus) feet.
Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. (Luke 10:19 NLT)
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I write a great deal about marriage and I will continue to do that. However, today, I want focus on a more broader scope in hopes of generating some discussion.
One of the most important lessons that we learn in life as well as one of the hardest lessons to learn while entering adulthood is that there is no separating authority and responsibility.
We are guiding our two youngest, with lots of prayer and trembling while watching our two oldest test the waters of the abyss known as adulthood. Thankfully and most blessedly, through us and even in spite of us, our children know the truth of God's love and have a relationship with Jesus. That will guide them well as they remain faithful to Christ.
Drawing the distinction between and recognizing the intimate connection of authority and responsibility is a task that takes a while to grasp.
For a teen or young adult, it can be as simple as wanting the authority to stay out later at night but not wanting the responsibility to lock the door and turn off the lights after arriving home.
Or. Even more complex, the same want the authority to make their own decisions but shun the responsibility of the outcome, the financing and the affect of those decisions, both for themselves and others.
Is this struggle natural? Of course it is. We, as adults have been there ourselves, with our children and, sometimes, with other adults who haven't navigated this right of passage with great success.
Saying that the difficulty in grasping this important relationship is natural and normal, does not negate the sense of urgency we, as parents, must possess in teaching and modeling this.
All to often, we see a disconnect in this area in our society: in the home; we want the authority of a husband/wife without the responsibility of a husband/wife, in the workplace; we want the authority of the boss without the responsibility of the boss, in the school; just go to some PTO meetings, there are moms and dads who want the authority of the leadership but not the responsibility of the leadership, in the church; we want the authority of the pastor but not the responsibility of the pastor.
What have we modeled for this young generation? If our children are to learn the irrefutable connection between authority and responsibility, then, I, as their parent, need to do better.
6 "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly."
Romans 12:6-8 NLT
The gift given by the Holy Spirit grants us the privilege of authority. Exercising and using the gift wisely and generously is the responsibility. The two cannot be separated.
I would love to see a discussion on this. Join the conversation!
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
"When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 2:1-4 NLT)
Paul possessed several qualities both natural and supernatural. He had a firm grasp of the scriptures to date from his years of studying and training as a Pharisee. He also was filled with the Holy Spirit and was under a powerful anointing of the same.
However, Paul had something that is lacking in many mature Christians today. Like Paul, many can exegete (interpret) scripture, determine the meaning of a passage and most of those can arrive at a correct application.
However, unlike Paul, it seems that a far lesser amount of Christ-Followers can correctly interpret their audience, the people around them.
As Christians we need to be cognizant of where people are on their journey with Christ. There are times when we need to challenge and exhort them to growth, but we must avoid giving them something that they are not ready for and in so doing, turn them away from Christ.
I desire to be like Paul. Less about me and more about the people around me. When I love and consider them over myself, I am loving Jesus.
At least that is what Jesus, himself, said...
Monday, February 25, 2013
When you first surrender your life to Christ, when you say, "Jesus, you take over", God doesn't expect you to change overnight. Sure, it can happen, but, usually it is a process, a journey.
Israel was on a journey. Sure, God could have guided them along a shorter route; however, he knew what they were ready for and what they were not ready for.
It's the same for you and I. God knows what we can handle and what we cannot. As we grow in him, we will have the faith, the strength and the spiritual determination in Christ to face larger battles in our lives.
Short or long, the journey is toward Jesus. Stay on the journey and don't loose your direction!
Friday, February 22, 2013
Paul knew who had sent him and what he was sent to do. Beyond that and more importantly, he was cognizant of the fact that the power of the message he preached was Jesus and an empty cross.
He didn't weigh the message down, slow it or restrict it's spread with smart talk and weighty theology.
I'm for keeping it as simple as it really is. Mankind was lost in sin , Jesus paid our price on a cross and then beat hell, death and the grave when he was raised from the dead. We can walk in that victory when we accept Jesus and his love for us. We can have a growing relationship with Him that is based on his love for us and our faithfulness to what he teaches us in his Word.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
I have no idea how many times I have heard the story within this passage. From Sunday school flannel graph stories to videos to reading this passage over and over again.
Even in messages, pastors tend to focus on the big events - Jesus walking on the water and Peter taking his eyes off Jesus.
But, look at the second verse in the passage. Jesus went up into the hills to pray -alone. Jesus did this often, and, often, he did so right before some of the greatest miracles in the Gospels.
We tend to expect great things from God without investing time alone in prayer. What would happen if we passionately prayed every day? Easier written than done, for sure. But what if?
What would we see God do?
OK. Let's say you are Pharaoh and your house and land are full of frogs and the deliverer, who has God's ear, asks you when you want him to pray for your deliverance. And you answer, "Tomorrow?"
Isn't that just like us at times?We want deliverance from our problems and hang-ups but we know that there will be a side of that deliverance that we will be required to uphold.
So, when Christ offers us deliverance, rather than give in and surrender our heart, we harden it and say, "Tomorrow."
What are the frogs - the things that you are trying to hang onto that are keeping you from fully surrendering your heart to Christ?
Whatever those things are, let them go and let God deliver you. God is asking you right now, "Do you want me to deliver you?" Say, "Yes!" today!
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Saturday, February 16, 2013
"Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn't have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand."
Matt 13:3-9 NLT
Many years ago, when I was in Jr. High, our school had a "Hobby Day". When the designated day arrived, the gymnasium was packed full of tables loaded with pets, stamp collections, model cars, trains and a variety of other things.
I, too, participated by including my hobby in the event. However, my addition to the display of hobbies had to remain outside as one could not get a 14 foot tall and 30 foot wide combine harvester through the gym door. Yes, that's right, I brought a combine to school. This will give you a little insight to how my mind works...
Growing up, I worked on a farm and I considered farming to be my hobby. It was all that I did besides going to school and I went to school, only because I had to go. I was an industrious and hard worker, dedicated to my hobby to the point that I would get up at 0'dark-thirty and ride my bicycle four miles to the farm to do my daily chores. I made $2.50 per day plus I ate all my meals with my boss' family. It boiled down to a lot of hard, repetitive work for very little pay and I loved it. Looking back on that time, I can see how God prepared me for his plan for my adult life.
One of my favorite times of the year was harvest time. And, being a young boy, I could only watch as the combines were used to harvest the soybeans and corn. These massive machines can shake the ground as they pick, separate, store the harvest while discharging the waste in their wake.
Combines are efficient machines. They can cover a lot of ground quickly and easily, far outpacing their predecessors. Today's models can plot the fields electronically, showing which plots of the field produced the highest yields indicating the changes that need to be made in the sowing, fertilizing and growing process.
This morning in my devotions, I was reading this passage in Matthew, chapter 13. My mind immediately went back to my "farming" days and, specifically, to the fact that a combine blows out a heavier proportion of separated waste - the chaff, stalks, stems and leaves - than the fruit of the harvest.
Jesus knew that not everyone who hears will believe. He knew that not everyone who hears will understand. And, he knew that not everyone who hears will follow. Those that don't believe, understand and follow, will eventually, be like the chaff and be discarded. That is heartbreaking to me and I hope it is to you as well.
It is not God's will that anyone be discarded by their own choosing. So, what are the options? We could, fold our arms and say, "Well, that's just the way it is and there is nothing we can do about it." Or. We could pray as Jesus instructed us to do.
Knowing that not everybody is going to accept Christ, as disheartening and sad as that is, should compel us to take wider swaths through our communities, our regions and our world. Our churches should evaluate the fields that they are called by God to tend. When an outreach is blessed by God and produces results in people taking a step toward Jesus, widen the effort in that plot of the field - pray more, plant more, water more and fertilize more. Jesus' command was and still is for us to pray for a widening of the harvest effort.
In a day when we see the signs of Christ's return, instead of narrowing the opening of the way that leads to what Christ called an already narrow gate, let's open up the door to that narrow gate wide - through our relationships, our churches, our outreaches and, most importantly, our prayers. Let's glean all that we can knowing that some will choose to hear, understand, believe and follow.
1. Are you in the field or are you enjoying watching the wind blow through the harvest?
2. What's in your hand, a sickle or the steering wheel of a combine?
3. Who is beside you? What's in their hand?
4. Who is following you? Do you feel the ground rumbling?
Still bringing the combine...
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Have you ever been doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing and your life circumstance still seems insurmountable?
When you are praying, serving, giving and living as you should, and the bills get higher and the due dates draw closer.
When you step out in faith and you experience small miracles but the deliverance that you anticipate doesn't happen or happen when you think they should.
When what you believe, know and, even, preach seems to differ from ongoing experience.
Have you ever been at this intersection? What has been your experience?
I'm not being a fatalist or even being negative. I'm looking forward to some dialogue on this. If you have been there, feel free to share your experiences, frustrations and victories.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Yesterday, after the service, I noticed a little white envelope on the chair next to my wife. It was colored on and decorated with either a marker or crayon.
I often get "gifts" from the kids in Children's Church so I quickly picked it up, anxious to see the drawing and blessing some child had felt led to give me.
After opening the envelope, out slid a $100.00 bill. We were stunned. It came at a perfect time. Robin and I didn't know how we would pay our bills this week.
God used someone, perhaps someone and a child to show His faithfulness to us.
Trust God. He is faithful.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Robin and I were speaking at a marriage retreat during which the weather suddenly turned cold. Normally that would not have been a problem, except for the fact that I had forgotten to pack a jacket. During the retreat, we were going to spend the day as couples outside, going from place to place and enjoying the fellowship.
It soon became apparent to some of the couples that I didn't have a jacket and only a few minutes passed before a couple approached us and offered me one. "My husband brought an extra jacket, so it's no problem," the wife explained as she smiled. Her husband handed me the jacket and said, "This will keep you warm."
I wore the jacket all day. Actually, it was the first time I had ever wore genuine leather. I caught myself lifting one of the sleeves to my nose on several occasions throughout the day.
At the end of the day when it was time for each couple to go their separate ways, I took off the jacket and attempted to hand it back to it's gracious owner. "Nah, it's yours," the husband insisted. I began to protest but soon realized that any attempts to give back the jacket was futile.
The gift was so touching, that I smile every time I even see the jacket hanging in our closet. The gift was a sacrifice from someone who loved God, given to someone who had a need. Not only did I need a jacket that day, but the gift was needed as I had very few jackets in my wardrobe.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us of what pleases God.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Of all the things that I dislike about being sick, the worst, for me, is losing my "Fight". We have an enemy who knows when the worst possible time for an illness in our bodies is. I'm convinced he waits until a physical illness has us down then he starts or resumes his crap in our lives, our families, those we love and our ministry.
It is amazing how easily he can still creep into our lives, especially when we are sick.
I have been down with respiratory problems for almost 2 weeks. Last night some people let us borrow a nebulizer and Robin gave me a breathing treatment right before bed.
Apparently, I've been oxygen deprived, because, after a great night of sleep, I awoke this morning angry.
How is that a good thing? Well, for starters, while ill I was looking at problems like they were too large, too intimidating and I felt hopeless. I felt that way because I was sick.
When I woke up this morning, the Spirit of God rose up inside of me and prompted me to evaluate everything that I had said and did for the last 2 weeks against the vision and calling God has given me.
I was mad! I was walking around my living room rebuking Satan in the name of Jesus, renouncing his authority over the areas of our lives and ministry that are experiencing trouble.
It felt good as hopelessness began to give way to fight again. That's who I am! I've never physically fought anyone in my life; however, I'm usually up for a spiritual battle, which is common for you and I as Christians.
"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere."
(Ephesians 6:12-18 NLT)
In many ways I think I was asleep without my fight for a long time, much longer than I care to admit.
But I'm awake now and there is a battle to be won.
Monday, January 7, 2013
In yesterday's service, I'm sure there was a powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, a powerful anointing and I'm praying that there was powerful change in hearts and lives. However, for whatever reason, God allowed me to go through the entire service feeling completely alone and totally unable to sense his presence, anointing and power. It was awful - for me.
I must admit, my desire was to get through the message and get off of the platform as quickly as I could. I felt nothing other than like the message was going down in flames. I sensed nothing and I wasn't about to try to manufacture something just so I could feel like we had a church service.
I have had similar experiences before, but seldom during a church service. Ironically, before the service, someone reminded me that our faith isn't, or, at least, shouldn't be based on what we feel or don't feel. Good thing, because yesterday, I had nothing - in the way of feelings.
No matter what you feel or your lack of feelings, know that your faith can still be strong.
"I will never fail you. I will never abandon you."
Hebrews 13:5 NLT