Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas of Faith

I am so excited about Christmas this year. The joy of it overwhelms me.  I truly cannot even explain it.  As we have worked with others to make our plans, many do not conform to my perfect plan. I love to plan and for things to seem organized and simple.  But that is not to be when there are lots of other planners in the mix.  Still I am thrilled that it is the week before Christmas!  There is not even one part I dread.  Clearly it is from the Lord.  How do I know? Well, it simply is not my nature.

By nature, I could plan every detail making sure that everything is evenly spaced for any needed corrections. Every gift a little better than necessary and beautifully wrapped (extras on standby).  Every meal carefully planned and shopping done. Cookies, pot lucks, snacks all ready.  All this with plenty of time left to think of all those people who have been special through the year so that I can get some baked goodie their way.  That is what I love. That is also what I feel somewhat freed from this year.  Some of those things are done but many are not. Everything is simple and fret-free so far.

Who knows if I can stay on this track. Many times I fail.  But I feel like the Lord explained it a bit today in my quiet time.  Did you ever think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had anything to do with Christmas? Me either!!!  But God and His living breathing Word do not go by our rules. Praise God!  I love a warm glowing fire in the fireplace but fiery furnaces. . .um no.  The lesson given is about standing boldly for our Lord Jesus Christ. Can I before even the most intimidating relative (yes, even more intimidating than a King)  be bold when the time comes? Will I be kind to even the most hateful person I encounter while shopping?  Will I take time to stop and spread His love to those around me (push their cart in, lift the heavy item for the elderly, make sure the downtrodden are encouraged) or will I rush by to the next thing I need to do? That is my lesson.

I have seen first hand over the past months that God gives us many opportunity in rather normal situations to shine His light. Sometimes I was faithful and sometimes I failed miserably.  But this incredible joy that He is shining into my heart has reminded me that I am not doing it alone and it is not my choice to make.  I need Him! I want Him! Once you taste of the Lord, nothing else compares.   I have also learned that you cannot make others believe. You simply show them by the manifestations of His spirit in your life.  And be bold in speech when called upon.

Have I said how excited I am for Christmas? Praising God for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! May He be EVERYTHING to you and your family this year! May we, as His servants, be focused on Him and obedient that this might be the very best Christmas ever!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unconditional Love

In recent weeks, I have often found myself thinking about or reading about prophets of Biblical times.  It has struck me how really hard their lives were.  They were often condemned and outcast.  Their messages were hard and did not follow popular opinion.  Truly there was nothing that was not touched by the very difficult task they were assigned. Hosea is case and point.  God told him to marry a women who would not be faithful. He was to be an example of God's relationship with Israel.  The story is gut wrenching as Hosea perseveres his very difficult marriage with even his children being names according to what God was teaching the people through him.

There are so many stories in the Bible that fit perfectly with where our world is today.  The world still often scoffs and outcast those who speak the truth of God's Word. It is not pretty and fluffy. It is hard.  The world and the enemy make it confusing with all the lies.  But there is hope!

If you read the difficult story of Hosea, then you find a story of unconditional love. Not just of Hosea to his wife but of God to His people!  Praise Him!  He has not given up on us. He is ever faithful and beckoning us to be His faithful bride.

"And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy." Hosea 2:19

It breaks my heart to think of how we break the heart of the Lord our God. He has done so much for us and yet we turn our backs.  Yet. . .He is still there for us.  The picture of unconditional love.

It is not easy and, in fact, I think it is often very hard.  But the power of our God is unimaginable. There is nothing He cannot do.  Not sure of this, then ask yourself.  Why were prophets, like Hosea, willing to do what they did?  The Lord had not only given them an incredibly hard job. . .He gave them all they needed to do the job. I have no doubt that they KNEW that God is able and willing!!!! They knew God!  The question is . . .do we know God? Are we willing to obey even when it is not popular or even makes us outcast?

Say yes, to God who created you and loves you.  Then if you dare, read Hosea.  Fall upon your face and worship God!  Make it an amazing day in your relationship with the Lord! He is waiting. . .


Friday, November 9, 2012

Sometimes Change is Good

Time has surely passed since I last posted. There have been so many changes and it has been very busy! The changes have included moving, sending a son off to military, preparing another for college (next year), etc. One of the things that has been on the forefront is finding a new church. Stepping out and visiting new churches is scary to be sure. The first visit is a bit awkward and then there is the pressure to figure out if that is where God would have you. But I believe this is part of something bigger that God has been doing in our lives.

About six months back, the Lord our God began preparing us (as a family) for something. We simply do not know what yet. God has opened our eyes to some things, allowed us to be sifted in other areas, and allowed for growth in Him.  It is with excitement and trembling we take each step forward and sometimes a few steps back. As time moves forward. . . He ask for more and more to be given to Him. Often times we are deeply convicted of something we paid no attention to in the past. And that is where I am beginning to see that change is good.

Now please know that I am not speaking against any denomination or church. I would not so long as they preach the Word of God and believe in King Jesus as Lord and Savior. There will be no denominations in Heaven and we are all the same church! That being said, it is easy to do what you have always done. For example, your comfort zone may be with a particular denomination, certain friends, style of music, or even type of building for worship. While all those things may be wonderful. . . I wonder how often they keep us from being stretched or hinder our growth? This is what I have noticed. . .

In visiting other churches, we are required to go back to the Bible for answers. It causes questions to be raised as to why we do certain things or believe certain things. So much of what we do or believe falls back on tradition rather than the Word of God.  That is dangerous ground. I have been strongly convicted over past months that I must look to the Word of God for proof of everything. Other than Jesus Himself, there is no one who has walked this earth that knows everything and always speaks 100% truth. Sure there are many who desire to speak 100% truth, but Romans 3:10 says that "As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one". So despite our best efforts, we cannot always be right.

The Bible is the very word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that every word of it is "God breathed!" Are you hungry for more of the Lord? Are you wishing He would speak to you today? He will! All you need to do is open His word and read. While reading. . .remember that you are reading the living breathing words of the God who created all things including you. His desire is to have a relationship with you and that begins with a humble heart reading His words. I pray that His Word will greatly minister in and through you today! Praising Him with you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Be still and know that I am God"

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Over the past couple years, this is a verse that God continues to deepen the meaning of for me. Before that it seemed simple, but truly it is not. Like all of God's Word, it is living and breathing. Today, once again, this verse hit me. This time it was the very word "God" that hit me. In a time when our religion has become more about doctrine and is based more on what we have heard a pastor say rather than reading for ourselves. . .this verse holds great power in our relationship with the Most High God.

Personally, I have trouble with the "be still" part. Schedules are crazy and I have a need to get things done. Not a God created need but a me created need. In past months, God has really convicted me on the fact that without the "be still" part, I will never get the "God" part. Like who is God? What is He like? What does He expect of me? I believe that we have molded God into many things, most of which He is not. Sometimes it is a scripture taken out of context. Sometimes it is because the Lord revealed something to someone and they wanted others to "get it". But in our human efforts it is so easy to change the truth (to be more impactful,easier to understand, or maybe they just change in our minds over time) as we try to explain. Since God didn't intend for us to change or add to His Word this is so dangerous.

The Lord's message to me has been that the only complete truth is His Word. There is no substitute for spending time in His Word. Because how else will I know with absolute assurance what to believe? How else will I know who God is? How else will I know how Jesus truly lived and responded to people while in human form? Not only that. . .how else will I have faith?

God's Word is a tremendous gift which we have allowed to sit on our shelves and collect dust. I feel that we could be coming onto a time of national revival as more and more people are discovering these very things. I encourage you to be a part of this. Dust off your Bible, if need be, and soak in the very words of God. Watch as He opens your eyes to understanding and your love grows for the Father. Jeremiah 31:3 says, I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." If you just read this, it is not by accident. Abba Father is calling you to Himself. Be still and KNOW He is God! It will change your life like you never thought possible! Seek in His word what is true and then you will know for sure.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Could you have been Judas?

I want to try to paint a picture for you that I hope will have a profound impact.  Let's go back in time and pretend for a moment that you were one of  Jesus' disciples.  You are meeting together with Jesus and the others for an exciting and important celebration of the Passover.  You sense that Jesus is deeply troubled as the meal continues.   Then He says, "I'm telling you the truth: One of you will betray Me, even someone who is eating with Me!"  Everyone becomes extremely distressed and looks around at each other.  Who could He mean? First you begin to look at the others and think of all their shortcomings. But would any of them betray our Lord?  It is then that you realize that the others are looking at you just the same. So you wonder what they are thinking? What are my short-comings? Is there any chance He could be referring to me?  You know that you have loved Him and followed Him for three years, but you also know that you have made many mistakes along the way.  Some still burden your heart when you think of them. So one by one, each disciple goes to the Christ and asks "Am I the one?" You are hesitant to even ask since you know what is in your heart but finally you do.

If you had been there, what weaknesses would have come to mind? What guilt would lay your heart open to the enemy? Would you need to ask, "Lord is it I"?   As a "good" Christian, it is easy to judge that really bad disciple Judas Iscariot.  The one spoken of in church with disdain, but let's face the truth. When the Lord God searches our hearts, it may look much like his (Judas' heart).

Sometimes the life of a Christian doesn't look much different than the life they lived before. But that should never be the case.  Read these verses:

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, … and you will be changed into a different person.” — 1 Samuel 10:6
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:24
These verses tell us that when we accept Christ Jesus as our Savior. . . we should be radically changed!  Our life belongs to Him.

" Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,   for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Jesus is waiting for you to ask? "Is it I?" But perhaps it would be better to just allow Him to have all of your life so that you never have to question if you could be Judas the betrayer.  Surrender your life daily to Him. Let Him produce change and beauty from the inside out.

Now about the passover . . . Did you know that even if you are not a Jew, the passover is critically important to you?  The passover occurred as the final plague that God used so that Pharaoh would release God's people who were being used as Egyptian slaves. Pharaoh had refused to listen and release the slaves after multiply opportunities.  So God instructed the Israelites to slay a lamb and put the blood on their door-frame.  That night the death angel passed over and took the life of every firstborn in each family. The exception was those whose doorway was covered by the blood of the lamb.  The blood covering was their protection from death.

As Christians, Christ Jesus is our passover lamb. He has given His perfect self as our sanctification.
"Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." 1 Corinthians 5:7
When we try to enter the gates of Heaven, there will be only one question.  "Were you covered by the blood of Christ?"  No credential will do. No excuse will do. No great act or acts will do. Being a good person won't help.  Nothing but the blood of Christ! Christ died that you might have eternal life and He is the only one worthy of paying such a price.

Have you accepted the free gift of grace offered by Jesus? Is He your Savior but also your Lord?  Do you call yourself His while your heart betrays Him? Our time is short and our number of days are unknown to us. Today might be your last chance to surrender.  Please ask God why He brought you to this blog and answer His call.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seeking Him?. . .He will be found!

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

. . . If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 1 Chronicles 28:9

If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:2

But if you will seek God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state. Job 8:5-6

As I begin to write today, I can honestly say I don't know what to say.  I feel like God is deeply pressing the above verses on my heart to share.  Today as I read in 2 Chronicles, I thought "didn't I read that same verse in 1 Chronicles" so I took a look. To my amazement, almost that same verse is written at least the four times mentioned above.  Wow! I would say that God certainly wanted to make sure we understand and believe it is important.

So if God wants to be found and tells us we can find Him, then why do so many seem to not be able to find Him? It is heartbreaking.  I have heard people say so many times that they are praying but they just don't feel close to God.  They are struggling and seemingly loosing the battle.  Yet it is so hard to help them find their way.  But it is not because God won't or doesn't want to be found.  Rather it is way we seek Him.

These passages say things like "seek Him with all your heart and soul" or "seek God earnestly." This kind of seeking is not an instant thing. It requires allowing His Word and His Holy Spirit to plow the fields of your heart.  It takes loving Him enough to spend time with Him.  When you spend time in His Word each day, it literally feels like your heart is being plowed. The yucky hard rocks are removed and replaced by fertile tender soil.  His word settles into the soil and grows and produces fruit.  The best part is that you will begin to come to Him excited to see what else His word will reveal.  And HE WILL BE FOUND!

I know those first steps can be hard. But please be encouraged that the changes that will take place will be more than you could dream.  God, who created everything, wants to have a relationship with YOU! Imagine that! He wants you to come to Him with all your heart so that He may be found by you. The question really is. . .Do you want to find Him?

Need a place to start? Of course, it would be reading His word.  There are all kinds of reading plans out there but I highly recommend getting a "One Year Bible." For each day of the year, you will read something from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms & Proverbs.  After just a couple days, you will settle into the amazing story and truths being read. It only takes about 15 minutes a day and is so worth it.  You can also read online at One Year Bible.

I hope this encourages you and helps you surrender your heart for some good plowing. May you find the Lord your God when you seek Him today!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Praise be to you, Lord. . .

 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, Lord,
    the God of our father Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
 Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
    and praise your glorious name.

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 (NIV)


Today, I just wanted to share a praise to the Lord. His Word speaks to our hearts so much more than mere human words.  I want to give Him the rightful place of honor and praise in my heart and on this blog.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finding the Light in the Darkness

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Ephesians 4:18


We live in a time that the darkness is becoming more and more apparent. People aren't hiding the evil (Genesis 8:21) within their hearts any longer.  It seems that many feel it very socially acceptable to put it on display.  Even so many of the TV shows and movies put on display the overwhelming evil that comes from Satan.

"Day after day we exercise our natural impulses, spurning our Creator's authority over us. God beckons storm clouds, and they come. He tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall, and they immediately obey. Everything in creation responds in obedience to the Creator. . . until we get to you and me.  We have the audacity to look God in the face and say no. . . when you reflect not only on the power of God but also on the fullness of His perfection, you come to see just how heinous, destructive, and arrogant our rebellion really is." David Platt

Yet even within such a dark time, it seems that many are hoping/ pleading for something more. Often times we do not even know what we are yearning for. In Ephesians 4:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:4, the Bible tells us that our understanding has been darkened and ours hearts hardened. We no longer "see" the truth. In fact, aside from Jesus there is no way we can see the truth. That is why God had to make a plan for us.  So He sent His Son who is Truth to show us His light in the darkness.  Jesus is the light beckoning us from the darkness.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Have you submitted your life completely to Him? Do you obey the Word of God? When the Holy Spirit speaks do you obey? Be like the ocean, wind and all the rest of creation. . .obey God!

God loves us with an everlasting love. When you see the light rather than the darkness. . .you will know that love. When you obey Him, then His love will over-whelm you.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stressed Yikes!

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

I have lived my life in a perpetual state of varying levels of stress.  I am fully aware that it wreaks havoc with every aspect of life and health.  Unfortunately, it has still been something that I simply could not manage.  The fear of giving up control and the lack of patience just would not permit me to move forward.

Until. . .I learned something that revolutionized my life.  I hope I will be able to explain it in a way that is understandable. Really, what I learned is so simple but yet so foreign to us (as modern day Christians).  It is something that we want but yet at the same time it goes against everything else we want for ourselves. Have I lost you yet?

How many times have you thought. . . I am a Christian but yet things are still a mess. I want more out of my relationship with Christ but don't know how to get it. Does God answer prayers? I don't understand the Bible and it is too hard to read. I don't have time for Bible Study.

We have so many questions that our heart just burns for answers, but have we asked the most important question? The one that will ultimately answer all other questions. . .

Have I ever really come to Jesus on HIS TERMS?

I not too long ago began asking myself this question.  The answer surprised me. I was sure I could answer yes at first. I considered myself somewhat of a prayer warrior. I have facilitated many Bible Studies. I have tried to be diligent about reading His word. Etc, etc, etc.  But had I done anything that was really and truly on Jesus' terms?  Jesus, Himself, had some difficult things to say regarding this. Honestly, I think it is verses that we rather skip or try to explain away.  But, they cannot be explained away in complete truth!  Please read the verses from Luke 14:26-35

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

These are the words of our Savior and while they may sound harsh. . .they are truly not.  He is trying to help us understand that we must love God more than anybody or anything.  We must die to our old life and "follow Him" just like the disciples.  Once we do this all other aspects of our life fall into place.  Because our love is great for God and His Spirit fills us then we love others. Not only that and this is hard. But if we call ourselves Christians and we are not true disciples. . . then leave a bad testimony.  Our saltiness is gone and our testimony (salt) is worthless. Father, please forgive us for letting our testimony of you mean so little.

How long have we tried to balance being a good Christian and living in the world? It is impossible and furthermore, it is extremely stressful.  If we want to be a disciple of Christ, we must lay down our life. He wants ALL of us.  This is the part I love! I have discovered that when I go to Him on His terms. . . there is no stress!!!! Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!  He is in control! I simply follow Him.  I can't wait to see where He leads. Will you commit this for your own life? Will you go to Jesus on His terms?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Conversation Among Friends

"Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted". Psalm 25:16

Are you simply lonely? Loneliness is a strange thing. As you can be alone and not feel lonely at all. But you can be surrounded by people and be desperately lonely as David was in the above verse.  I have given this much thought as loneliness has plagued me on more than one occasion.  Also,  in serving others it is often loneliness that brings them to a point to ask for help.  But what causes us to be lonely?

From a practical standpoint, it is a lack of deep communication.  Often we go through the day only having surface level discussions. These discussions can include anything that is not an intimate detail of our lives.  We might talk about the children, our work, projects around the house, etc.  But perhaps out of fear, we do not discuss the details that matter most to us. Things like. . . What are we worried about? What are we hoping and dreaming about? And especially, we do not discuss our relationship with Christ and what we are learning. Nothing opens the door to our heart like discussing our walk with Christ or praying with someone.

Perhaps past hurt keeps us from trusting again with sharing our heart. But I ask. . .is the hurt of loneliness any less hurtful.  Besides, I don't think God meant for us to be lonely in the sense that we often find ourselves.  In the New Testament, the word lonely only occurs twice and both times refers to desolate places, where Jesus moved off into the wilderness to be alone .

"Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere." Mark 1:45

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:16

Notice that these times weren't about an individuals emotions but rather the work of Jesus (and being alone with God).

There can be so many reasons that lead to our feelings of loneliness but there is only one cure. . .the comforting fellowship of Christ. We must, like David, turn to Him and pour out our heart so that He may fill it with His great love.  I encourage you to read through the 25th Psalm and cry out to the Father. Tell Him everything!

But rest assured, He (the Lord)  is the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), who lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13-15), and who has promised never to leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  We can take great comfort in His promises. We can trust Him. We can tell Him anything. No special words need. . .just talk to Him as you would a best friend. Prayer changes things including loneliness.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Preparing the Way for the Lord

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” Mark 1:3

Our family has been thinking lots lately about what our role as Christians should be.  As a result, God is changing our hearts about some things and we are making some changes.  Today as I studied my Bible, the verses pertaining to John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ really hit me. I thought. . . that is it. That is our job.  To prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ (to return).

That also sums up what is changing in our hearts and minds.  We have a job to do and there is no time to waste. We have been preoccupied for far too long.  As a Christian, have you not read the verse in Matthew 25:21 (“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’) and thought I want that to be me. I want there to be something about the life I have lead that God would say, "Well done!"

So as I have examined my daily life, I have been a bit disappointed in my search for what pleases the Lord.  Yes, I do my best to be obedient to the Word of God. Yes, I disciple my children. Yes, I serve at church. But is that enough? For me, the answer is a resounding no.  I am disappointed with how I have allotted my time. So then what?

Prepare the Way for the Lord! But what does that mean?  In a word. . .missions.  No, I am not suggesting that everyone be a missionary in the traditional sense.  But we have to be passionate and intentional about it. Otherwise day after day after day slips by with nothing much given to this preparation for His return. How can we do that? Do we not care? Do we not believe? Do we not know our Bible enough to understand? Do we not pray? Do we not fully submit our lives to Him?

I cannot presume to know the answer for you. I pray that God will show you what to do. I pray His will show you how to spend your time and resources in a way that pleases Him and glorifies Him.  I pray that the changes will be so significant in both my family and yours that we won't even recognize that old way. Let's get busy "preparing the way for the Lord".

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A New Day. . .

Today is a new day! A new day for me to lay down my life to Christ. Will I cry out for Him? Will I be willing no matter the cost? Will I love Him even half as much as He loves me? I hope so. Lord please take my life this day to use however you please.

Honestly, I feel so overwhelmed by the Savior that I don't really know what to write today but have something to share. After reading "Radical', I moved forward to "Radical Together". Both of these books are a great motivator to be in the Word of God and seek Him like never before. Here is something to get you thinking.

If someone were looking from the outside, would they see a person that is desperately seeking the Spirit of God? "I want to give God no rest until we experience the power and the presence of God that we see in the church of Acts. One man preaches and more than three thousand people are cut to the heart and saved. The Lord is adding daily to their number those being saved. The lame are walking, and the blind are seeing. Thousands are coming to Christ at great cost, yet they can't be kept from proclaiming the gospel. God is picking up people and putting them in remote deserts to talk to people who are wondering about Jesus, the number of disciples is growing rapidly, and the gospel is spreading with power. I want to be part of a move of God like that. Do you?" Radical Together Pg 119

As God is growing my heart for missions, I realized some things. Miracles are still happening. People are still risking their very life and the lives of their families. There are still many people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus. Estimated at 6000 out of 11,000 people groups who still need to hear His truth. And yet. . .we go on with life as normal. How can we do that? I hear so many Christians say they feel like they are supposed to be doing something more but don't know what. This is the something more. I urge you to fast and pray. Seek God's face like never before and see where He leads you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Here I am Lord. . .use me

 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20

I never thought I would say this but I have come to believe that a lack of missions is a lack of faith.  Yep, I said it.  Above I have quoted the verses often referred to as the Great Commission but notice I went back a couple verses. Verse 17 says, "but some doubted." That caught my attention as it seems to shed light on my own life. I have had hundreds of excuses for not getting involved.  Some sounded like, "My mission field is here" , "I already serve in many capacities at church", "There are so many lost all around us so why go anywhere." But let me ask you. . . Qver the last month or year, how much time have you spent obeying this commandment.  Has life and priorities gotten in the way? It does and Satan is counting on that.  But let's not allow him this victory.  God saved us not because of our work but to work.  In these verses and many others, He assigned our task.  Our relationship with Him is a master/servant relationship.  While He loves us wildly, He also has a job for us to do.

WHY? Why give us this task? After all, He is God and could do it entirely alone.  I believe the answer relies in LOVE and WORSHIP.

First to address love.  "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7  Love is so important that much of God's Word speaks of love.  There are all sorts of love but one particular that I am completely amazed by.  It is love for a complete stranger who you have never even set eyes upon. Someone so different from yourself but nonetheless loved completely.  I have had two opportunities during my life to experience this kind of love.  The first was for our daughter which we adopted from China. We loved her so much before we ever met her.  The second, amazed me even more. Recently, I sat reading my Bible. I don't remember the passages and they were completely unrelated. But during that time, God poured love into my heart overwhelming love for the Haitian people. I sobbed because the love was so strong and I knew it was from the Lord.  I have never been to Haiti and knew very little about them. None the less the love was real and has continued.

Then worship. . .As I said in a previous post, I am concerned about our worship.  Are we truly worshiping God (High Priest, Lord of Lords, Redeemer, Living Water, King of Kings, Lion of Judah, etc)? Or are we worshiping what we hope to obtain from Him (blessing, prosperity, easy life, success, etc)?  I think the prosperity of the USA often gets in the way of our worship. Compared to other countries, we have had life easy. I want to propose that when we are obedient to the Great Commission, our worship changes. It becomes less about us and more about Him.

GETTING STARTED & MAKING A DIFFERENCE. . . Personally, we are starting with small steps.  We know an amazing couple (who by no coincidence) are raising support to be full-time Haitian missionaries.  So we are giving financially.  But we have also been convicted that you must go. So we are beginning to plan a mission trip to Haiti as well.  This is not in our comfort zone but clearly God's hand is upon it.

Now I have to tell you a bit about the Runks.

They are just an ordinary family who have slowly been transformed into an ordinary family who are crazy in love with Christ and the Haitian people.  To see a grown man cry as he tells you about the plight of this people group is overwhelming.  But they have given it all over to Christ that He might use them as He sees fit.  As a result, they have an opportunity to help carry to Gospel to one of the poorest and most lost countries in the world.  The opportunity they have is immense. The size only God could provide.  There is tremendous amounts of work to be done and already many resources are in place.  But to see these people begin a 4am worship service which has 45 minutes of just prayer and then last for hours makes it all worth it!

Here is a video to tell you about the ministry they are a part of:


There  is only one reason that we remain on this earth and not in His presence right now. There is work to be done.  There are currently approximately 4.5 BILLION people who do not know Christ. Yes, 4.5 Billion!   Have you gotten to a point where you wonder if you are doing enough?  Have you found satisfaction in your job, home, family, etc? What is success? Is it a feeling or a certain level of success in __________ ? I believe that the only real success, the only real difference to be made is in sharing the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ (His death and Resurrection) with the world.

I pray that you will consider this as well. There are so many ways to support missions and get involved. . .what will you do? Please pray for God's direction.  If you would like more information about the work in Haiti, then visit the Runks Website. They are looking for people to share the burden by coming to work or supporting the work financially. Most of all, they covet your prayers.  They are completely dependent on God to provide their every need and safety.  Please commit them to prayer daily.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why is it Radical?

I think that is a question that we should all ask ourselves.  I was recently going through the book "Radical" by David Platt for the second time. This time it struck me more so than the first.  This time I realized that I no longer care what is considered the norm.  I want to please God. I want to be obedient to Him in ways that challenge everything I know.  I want EVERYTHING to be about Him. I am talking total and complete reckless abandon of life as I know it so that I might be a slave to Christ.

I have felt for a while that the USA is loosing (or has lost) the favor of God. If you don't understand what that means, I urge to dig through the stories of Kings and Kingdoms in the Old Testament.  Those who had favor won wars, had their needs met and many of their wants met. Those who did not lost mercilessly.

At the end of this book David Platt  issues an experimental challenge.  There are simply five things that you must do.

1) Pray for the World -  He gives you more specific guidelines but nothing changes a heart like prayer.

2) Read the Bible through in one year.  Ask yourself, is it possible to go to church multiple times per week and not know the Bible? Most of us need not look beyond ourselves to know the answer is yes.

3) Give sacrificially. This needs to be more than is comfortable and in such a way that it aids the spread of the Gospel.

4)  Spend time outside your home plate ministering. Just a small commitment but step away from where you live.

5) Commit yourself not just to a church but to a multiplying community of believers. The key to this is that people are being saved and growing.  This is not about filling the seats.

Reading through this book, it goes into so much detail and you can then understand why each part of the experiment is critical.  But I ask, why is this RADICAL?  Why is it not the norm?

For me and maybe for others, I believe I have an answer.  It is because we do not focus on God.  It should ALL be about Him.  I think (hope) that most who call themselves Christian worship God, pray, and attend church.  But I realized that often my prayer or worship is based on what I hope to gain. I want to feel His presence more than anything.  I want to be overwhelmed with His love. I want Him to control my life and make it pleasant.  But look. . . that is still all about me. So I asked myself, "Is it true worship, if I am thinking about how I will feel when God acknowledges me at His thrown.' Wow, this is hard.  Die to self. To fully worship, love and serve. . .I must fully die to self.

I urge you if this rings true for you to get this book asap.  Let us as believers give God all that we can of ourselves. How much of yourself will you give to the one who gave you everything? Let's get radical!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sitting in Daddy's Lap

"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" Romans 8:15-16


The past weeks have been stressful. Honestly, that is an understatement.  We have one son preparing for Air Force boot camp, one making college choices, our home is for sale, and many unspokens.  Just one of the events in our life would be enough to cause havoc to many a household. I wish I could say that I have dealt with it always as a spiritually mature Christian should, but that would not be the truth. At times, I have had such peace.  At other times, I have felt more like a spoiled child that is not getting their way.  The ironic part is that this attitude goes against all God has been showing me recently. Over and over His message has been about understanding true worship and who He is.

First addressing who God is to us.  The Bible tells us that He is our Abba.  Abba was a term used in Judaism to express the intimacy, security, and tenderness of a family relationship. More specifically, it was a word that children used to address their fathers.   It was an expression of warm affection and trust. Of course, it didn't preclude courtesy and respect.  That is why He is also our Father which means that we must recognize His authority over us.

Either or both of these can be hard for us to grasp. So much of how we feel about our relationship with God depends on our relationship with our earthly father.  While God models this role for earthly fathers, He is PERFECT.  His love is a pure holy perfect love for us. Even if your earthly father failed you in some way, your Abba Father will not.

True worship. . . Hum. This is the hard part for we must give everything.  We must be what is called "a living sacrifice".  Romans 12:1 says, "I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him." God wants all of us. That is, He wants us fully submitted and willing to give anything or even all we have. He wants us to love Him more than anything else and to be willing to serve Him in any way.  Honestly, that is something missing with most all of us.  Just ask yourself. . .when was the last time you fell on your face before the Lord.  How long were you there? Were you counting the minutes? Or were you just there completely submitted enjoying the presence of God.  Psalm 51:17 says, "The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God." Oh how I long to be able to go before Him daily with a fully repentant humble spirit of full submission. . .how I long to be a living sacrifice putting selfish desires aside.

Understanding and doing all this, for me, is a process. Sometimes it is pretty and sometimes it is really ugly.  I give myself and then jerk it back.  Plus I find the World so confusing. I admit that I care far too much about what others do and what others think. In todays world where few find true worship with God, you could easily be seen as a lunatic. But at what price are we looking sane?  Let's ask ourselves, "What is God asking us to do that we are choosing to disobey?' It may be simple as going to the alter to pray on Sunday or lifting your hand in worship. Or it may be something so much bigger.

For me, that disobedience has been not fully trusting God with all the stuff of life.  But God has been so good to me. He has gently reminded and beckoned me to sit upon Abba's lap to find comfort and peace.  It is there that He is pealing back the layers that have so fully weighed me down.  As each burdensome layer is removed to reveal new trust. . .I am more willing and able to be His living sacrifice. Who knew that being sacrificial could be freeing?  Thank you Abba Father that I can live for you and let you take care of the details.

Friday, May 4, 2012

It is a heart matter!

"When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path." Matthew 13:19

God gave this verse to my son in his prayer time today and I am praising Him for such a powerful message.  Have you ever wondered how you can go to church "religiously" and yet not have any change in your life? It is because religion does not produce change.  In order to change, you must have a heart transplant. That is you must die to self and allow the Holy Spirit by faith to indwell in you. If you have done this, then you should see radical changes in all your ways.  God does that.  When we belong to Him, then He changes us in ways we couldn't have imagined.

If you feel like the Word of God is falling on dry ground, then it probably is.  Pray and ask the Lord to be your Savior. Ask Him to take over your life and use it for His purposes. Then watch the Word of God take root and come alive in you! Praise be to God for His Holy Powerful Living Breathing Word! May it fully take root in our hearts and speak to us today!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Faith Comes By Hearing

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  Romans 10:17

Ever feel like God is just having you sit on something for a while. I have been experiencing that feeling for a while now and it is this verse. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  Romans 10:17  It rolls around in my heart and mind daily these days. So I keep seeking what God is teaching.  I think it is simple. I need to be soaked in His Word every day as much as possible.  But why? Again, a simple answer. . .FAITH.  This verse clearly teaches that it is by the Word of God that our faith increases.  And, Beloved, faith is a powerful and wonderful thing.

Matthew 9:2
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

Matthew 9:22
But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

Matthew 9:29
Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”

Matthew 15:28
Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Matthew 17:20
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 21:21
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.

Mark 9:19
He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

Acts 6:8
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts 26:18
to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 9:32
Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.

The Bible is loaded with verses about faith. God gives us many accounts of the difference someone's faith made and how God blesses the faithful.  During a recent Bible Study group, we talked about hindrances. The subject of fear came up on numerous occasions. So many of us walk daily in fear.  But fear comes from the enemy, never from God.  In Mark 4:40, it says "But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

I want to confess for myself and challenge you. We do not spend enough time in the Word of God. Therefore, we live by fear. Let's not allow fear any more control over our lives. It takes far too much from us (health, love, happiness, joy, opportunities to serve, etc).  Think about what fear has taken from you and then determine to do something about it.  Because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God! Will you accept the challenge?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why have we allowed ourselves to be dumbed down?

I want to start with a bold statement.  I wonder if our being dumbed down  has become the ultimate tool of Satan.  Today as I researched a topic the Lord had on my mind I read a sermon by one of the greats (Spurgeon).  It occurred to me that if a pastor today spoke in such a way he would be fortunate to have a handful of attenders.  There was such depth to the sermon with no attempt to simplify the message.  I immediately thought about how often the excuse is used that the Bible is too hard to understand.  Really?

I have at times fallen for this same line of thinking but can you honestly say that?  Reading is a tremendous gift that we take for granite and squander.  I believe that our comprehension fails because we fail to exercise this incredible gift.  Exercising this gift then exercises our brains so that we might use them more effectively.  Nothing scientific here. . . just some rambling thoughts.  However, I wonder how this influences all of our decisions or even lack of making a decision.  Politics is an example.  We believe what we are told and without any intelligence cast a vote. The damage is done. However, that is not the biggest loss but rather part of the result of our biggest loss.

Since we have decided that the Bible is too hard or possibly not entertaining enough we miss out on our relationship with Christ.  I understand from experience how easy it is to give this us.  We think so selfishly that we focus on our own folly with just a passing (sad) thought to what we know we are missing. So life is more difficult, we make bad decision and worst of all we miss so many opportunities.

Truly I must take all of this thinking to task.  Some parts of the Bible are difficult but much of it even a child can comprehend.  As for entertainment. . .have you read the Bible lately?  Parts of it are almost too much to bear.  It is full of excitement, adventure, romance, rebellion, heros, princesses and the list goes on.

Our Lord God handpicked what to tell us and how we should hear it.  He knew our every need and desire. How could we not want to know all He says? It is amazing that is only a book and not a library of books.

To the present, we complain about our political situation and economics in the USA but we have yet to take the simple steps to fix them. There is one way and only one way. "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

God is willing to forgive and heal our land!!!! How could we not want that?  The Bible has story after story about nations having success and abundance when God's hand was on them and failing miserably the minute He removed His hand.  Hebrew 12 says:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Yes, God disciplines those He loves. Not because He is harsh but because we need it just as a child does.  Otherwise, our selfishness would win. So will you allow Satan to win? Will you allow Him to dumb you down?  Or will you dust off that precious book and find His great stories of victory and instructions.  It is the living breathing Word that can speak to you every single time you read it. Perhaps you will even learn to love to read!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gas Prices and Despair

As we watch gas prices rise, it would be easy to despair.  After all, we depend on it every day to get to work, go out to eat, go shopping, go go go go go. . . . Not only that, but from my limited understanding I realize that gas prices effect other aspects of our economy as well.  But I want to challenge you to take a step back.  All the way back to your home and your personal life.  Yep, make it about you.

I think we are looking at it all wrong as Christians.  Yes, the economy does matter.  But what about you and how you are managing your economy.  Take a personal inventory of all you have. . .a home, food, clothes, car, heat, air conditioner, numerous toys, etc. But then make it even more personal. . .health, ability to read this article, ability to write, ability to talk,  family, friends, etc (continue your inventory with all the talents/gifts God has given you).

Do you realize you have been given much? Everything we have, even our breath (Genesis 2:7), belongs to God.  They are all on loan to us.  All that He gives, He may take away at any point.  Often we feel depressed and have a hard time dealing with things not going easily. The truth is that easy was not ever promised to us. In fact, God promised the opposite. When Adam and Eve sinned, that sin caused horrible curses to be upon the earth and our bodies.  Have you truly considered the reality of that sin in our world?  If so, have you considered that despite that sin God has provided and continues to provide all that we need.

But back to all that God has loaned us.  There is a story in the Bible where God graciously has shown us what He expects.  It talks about being given to according to your abilities, the expectation of handling it well, and the discipline for not.  Here is the story from Matthew 25:14-28 for you to enjoy:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

There is so much to be learned from these scriptures.  But I will try to stick to the point at hand. To each a portion was given according to his abilities (breath, time, talents, money, family, home, food, health, etc) and he was expected to grow it from there.  Losing it was not an option and simply maintaining it was not an option.  He was expected to be a good steward of what had been loaned to him.

I believe that is also what God is calling us to do. We must be good stewards of all He has given us. Otherwise, why would He give it. He gives us more than we need so that we may be a blessing to others. So that we may help those in need or use our talents to serve in ministry.  The list could go on and on.

But I fear in our race to collect all the things we want and find time to use them all, we have forgotten all that is important.  The time we have on this earth is so short as compared with eternity.  The Bible says, From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

So with that I ask. . .

1) Where does most of your money go?

2) How do you spend your free time?

3) How do you use your gifts and abilities to serve others?

I am deeply convicted over this lesson. I realize my focus has been blurry because I was trying to focus on the wrong things. How about you?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life Changing Challenge

Have you ever been really excited about something God is teaching but when you try to explain it you just fall short?

You are reading God's Word and are overwhelmed by what is right there for you.  It is just the answer you are looking for or something that doubles your faith in an instant. If you are like me, you can't wait to share it. So you go to your spouse, friend or teenage son (oops meant to say child) and tell them with great excitement what God has shown you. Only you finish and they are still not excited.  Why?

It is because God desires a relationship with each person individually.  They must spend time with Him to understand with amazement.  It is a gift given through the Holy Spirit.  I have noticed as preachers experience this and I have experienced it as a Bible study leader. You want so desperately to share what you learned.

It simply cannot fully be shared to the fullest degree. Each heart must be prepared by a healthy dose of one-on-one time with the Father. It is the only way.  Now that being said, I do believe that once we are prepared (through prayer, Bible reading, faith and humility) we get exponentially more out of any teachings or even music.

We are at a time in America where we must humble ourselves before the Lord. I believe that things are going to be much more difficult if we do not.  Just going to church is not enough. I would like to place a challenge before you. For at least one week, would you commit to give 30 minutes a day to prayer and Bible reading? Ask God to open your eyes to His truth. Think about who you are talking to.

Abba - Romans 8:15Almighty - Psalm 68:14

Alpha – Revelation 22:13

Author of life – Acts 3:15

Beginning and the End – Revelation 21:6

Branch – Jeremiah 33:15

Bread of life – John 6:35

Bridgegroom – Isaiah 62:5b

Bright Morning Star – Revelation 22:16

Chosen one – Isaiah 42:1

Christ – Matthew 22:42

Comforter – John 14:26 (KJV)

Counselor – John 14:26

Creator – 1 Peter 4:19

Deliverer – Romans 11:26

Door – John 10:7 (KJV)

Eternal God – Deuteronomy 33:27

Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6

Father – Matthew 6:9

Friend – James 2:23, John 3:29

God – Genesis 1:1

Good shepherd – John 10:11

Guard – 2 Timothy 1:12

Guide – Psalm 48:14

Holy One – Acts 2:27

Holy Spirit – John 14:26

Hope – Titus 2:13

Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14

Jealous – Exodus 20:5

Jehovah – Psalm 83:18

Jesus – Matthew 1:21

Judge – Acts 10:42

King – Zechariah 9:9

King of Kings – 1 Timothy 6:15

Lamb of God – John 1:29

Life – John 14:6Light of the World – John 8:12

Lion of the tribe of Judah – Revelation 5:5

Living Water – John 4:10

Lord – John 13:13

Lord of Lords – 1 Timothy 6:15

Love  - 1 John 4:8

Master – Luke 5:5

Messiah – John 4:25

Omega – Revelation 22:13

Peace – Ephesians 2:14

Physician – Luke 4:23

Potter – Jeremiah 18:6

Power of God – 1 Corinthians 1:24

Prophet – Acts 3:22

Redeemer – Job 19:25

Rock – 1 Corinthians 10:4

Ruler – Revelation 3:14

Savior – Luke 2:11

Servant – Isaiah 42:1

Shield – Genesis 15:1

Stone – 1 Peter 2:8

Teacher – John 13:13

Truth – John 14:6

Vine – John 15:5

Way – John 15:6

Wisdom of God – 1 Corinthians 1:24

Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6

Word – John 1:1

I truly believe that if you do this then you will be ruined for anything else. It will forever change your life.  Be courageous enough to let Jesus have a radical place in your life. Please feel free to commit and say you have made the commitment or how your life changed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bread Bibically

Please take a look at my post on Family, Faith & Dinner pertaining to bread. This post is about food but I believe it is so much more.  We have changed and lost so much from our diets to the point that we no longer eat the way God intended. Without our physical health, then how we will be able to serve Him?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Can God use you despite limitations, failures or doubt?

"Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24

Every Christian wants to be useful to God.  But let's face it. . . He is God and, well, we are us.  How could we possibly be useful to God?  This is especially true when you consider our limitations, past failures and doubt.  In the mist of your doubt, I wonder if you have met Gideon?

His story starts in chapter 6 of Judges with talk about the evil that his people (Israel) did in the sight of the Lord.  Yes, that's right.  This is the same group of people that were in Exodus as God brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land.  Fast-forward. As a result of their evil, they were handed over to Midian by God. They were being greatly oppressed by Midian and basically starved to death.  So when they hit bottom, they cried out to the Lord.  Now Gideon was busy trying to provide food for his family when an Angel of Lord appeared. Please note: He was very busy. He had great family responsibilities.

The Angel said to Gideon, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

The first thing Gideon had to overcome was doubt.  His reply was, "“O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Did you note the doubt? Did you note the lack of understanding that their own sins were responsible for their troubles?

If you go on and read about Gideon, you will find that God showed His power and miracles to him on several occasions in really big ways. Little by little, Gideon is obedient because of the faith God grants him. Finally, it is time to defeat the Midianites.  Now you would definitely think that by this time Gideon would have tremendous faith in God.  But if you doubt and have great fears in what the Lord ask of you then you are not alone.  For the great Gideon who even made into God's hall of faith was allowed special assurances.

"It happened on the same night that the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, 11 and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the armed men who were in the camp. " Judges 7:9-11

Basically God said to him, I am going to do this. Let me show you so that you might move forward in faith.

So you see, there is no excuse. If you have limitations. . . "For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

If you have past sins and failures. . .  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. "1 John 1:9

Is doubt stopping you. . . "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." Proverbs 3:3-5

God won battles on Gideon's behalf. Gideon was given the opportunity to participate because of faith.  It is only your faith that keeps you from being used. God is able! "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  Romans 10:17


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lonely, Hurt, Broke, Depressed, etc. . .

Have you considered my servant Job? 

Forewarning ~ I am going to make a duh statement.  Sometimes life stinks!  But why?  Is the enemy attacking? Am I being punish for sin or is it just the result of sin? And perhaps the hardest question: Why would God allow such?  The list of reasons for which we might ask these questions goes on and on.  It may be finances, job, marriage, children, sickness, death of a loved one, depression, loneliness, etc.  It is a long list that can sometimes make it hard to understand where God is in the situation. Sometimes the pain seems unbearable and often last for such a long time. But there is hope.

One of the greatest things about God's Word is that God has provided for everything we truly need to know.  It might be in one of the unlikeliest chapters of the Bible that you will find immense comfort during a hard time.  The book of Job. The Bible says that Job was blameless and upright. It says he feared God and shunned evil. It also says that Job had an amazing life. He was wealthy, great marriage, and had seven sons and three daughters. Life was good!  Then everything changed. Job lost everything (wife, children, home, health, livestock)

The 7th verse says,  "And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it."   In 1 Peter 5:8, it says the enemy prowls the earth looking for someone he might devour and this is what he was doing. Would it surprise you to know that God asked if he had considered His servant Job? Now why in the world would He do that.  Remember that Job loved God and likewise God loved Job.  Also, remember that Job was blameless so it was not sin related.

The key is verse 42:5. At the end of this devastating time Job said, ""I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You."  Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to say you "see" God?  That you not only have mustard seed faith but that you have huge faith! Because God loved Job, He allowed him great suffering that he might see Him.  God is all about having a relationship with us.  He bends over backwards to show us His great love.  He is a God who wants to lavish us. If life is really hard right now, then look to the one that is Holy but yet will show Himself to you.  Here are some great uplifting verses:

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19)

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 peter 1:8)

"The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you." (Deut 28:11)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. " (Ephesians 1:3)

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding" (Ephesians 1:7-8)

"How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 36:7)

Now sweet friend, I hope you have allowed these verses to wash over you.  But also know this from Job 42:10, "And the LORD restored Job's losses  when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. "  So not only did God allow Job to SEE Him, but He also restored what he had lost even double.  Praise God for He is so amazingly good to us and praise Him that He makes Himself available to us. May you see Him even today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

They will follow your lead. . .

I love when God gives me a real life example. As I enjoyed (ok that might be a slight exaggeration) my couch to 5k today, I realized that both of the kids who were home had followed me. The 16 year old on his skateboard and the 7 year old on her bike.  Had I been spending my time relaxing inside they would have gladly followed that lead too.  Titus 2:7  (NLT), says, "And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching."

As I ran and watched them, I reflected on how they truly do follow our (mine and Jim's) example in so many ways. It became my heart's cry that we not disappoint, that God be glorified in all we teach them by example.  It is a heavy burden to bear. We cannot expect more of our children than we are willing to do ourselves.  Yet, it is impossible.  Fortunately, our Lord gave us the perfect gift of His Holy Spirit.  By His Spirit we can daily go through a process of sanctification.  Sanctification is the activity of God (through His Spirit) which liberates the Christian from the power of sin. Sanctification imparts the righteousness of God through man.  It is not a one time deal. While we are justified when we are saved (once and for all), sanctification depends on where you are today with Christ.

I know that I cannot, on my own, be the example my children need. I have proven that over and over again.  However, I also see such a difference when I seek the Lord's face each day.  I am able to handle situations with so much more grace and find all sorts of teachable moments. Not to mention that have seen me spend time the one who changes everything.

If we want real change in our homes and in our world, we need not deceive ourselves.  It begins with the small changes that each of make and ends with others trying to imitate us (while we imitate Christ).

When we came back in from our exercise, I poured both myself and my daughter a big cup of water.  I carried mine to the bedroom and she followed. I said, "you know you are not suppose to bring that in here." Her prompt response was, "I was trying to be like you."  Hum. That was the punctuation of what God was teaching me. Out of the mouth of babes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


"Do  you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." 1 Corinthians 9:24

For a myriad of reasons you don't want to hear. . .I am out of shape.  I have never been a true runner but have discovered that it is very refreshing (almost cleansing).  Even as I wonder if I can take the next step while running, I feel that sense of cleansing.  It occurred to me today as I tied on my shoes for the Couch to 5k that I desperately want to complete that running is what we do with God. We either run to Him or we run from Him.

Before we accept Christ as our Savior this is easy to see.  I think some people are afraid of the unknown and some just simply don't want to change.  They run and run and run in the opposite direction.  Sometimes the sin is so deep that they even believe they no longer can accept Christ. This is simply not true.  He wants to know you no matter what you have done or what has happened to you.  Sometimes we just try to be good but still have no place for God.  We run to keep busy and fill our lives with other things.

But what about after we are saved.  I still think it applies.  We may spend time with Him and grasp every possible opportunity to know His presence. In this case, we are clearly running toward Him.  But just like an unbeliever, we can busy ourselves and fill our lives with all sorts of things (some good, some bad).  All of it helping us run from true abundance that is offered in a daily relationship with Christ.  I want to challenge you that no matter how busy you think you are. . . you do have time for Bible Study and for church.  Be creative if need be and be willing to cut some things out of your life.  Make time for what really counts.  When you are no longer in this world, what will you be known by? What will people say about you and your walk with Christ?

That cleansing feeling that running gives is nothing compared to the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit! He saved you to have a relationship with Him.  I hear running can be very addictive and, you know what, so can spending time with God.  He will absolutely spoil you for the ordinary!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trusting God

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Anybody else found that hard at times. Come on. . . be honest.  For me, it has been the free will part that got in the way.  Trusting God is one thing but I have found that when you don't trust people it comes full circle causing you to not trust God.  When you have been hurt before, then you know the saying.  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.  Ah, such a feeling of empowerment when we put up our guard of protection.  Problem is that same guard begins to deteriorate us. It is exactly what the enemy wants us to believe. For when we depend upon ourselves for protection then we are leaving God out of the equation.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, do not worry about anything, but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God and then the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This is one I know from experience, you cannot live in a state of anxiety and submit to God at the same time.  I tried and tried.  I was so afraid that people who had hurt me in the past would do so again that I lived every day guarded (taking every precaution). Then one day I realized that the only thing I was really guarding myself from was an abundant relationship with the love of my life (Jesus Christ).    It is these verses that finally hit me when change could occur:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

When God searches what do we want Him to find? Do we want Him to find the "offensive way" of "anxious thoughts?" Does it penetrate your heart like it does mine when you think of God knowing everything about your thoughts. So back to trust. We must trust. . .we must trust. . .we must trust! This should help:

  • Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trust in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. (Psalm 32:10)

  •   Taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trust in him.  (Psalm 34:8)

  •   The LORD redeem the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.(Psalm 34:22)

  •   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Then I will leave you with this one last thought.  Take to the throne and leave it. Get on your face before the Lord and wait on Him. Let His Spirit reveal Himself to you.  If you have been hurt before, then the enemy got that little victory.  If you refuse to trust God to protect you, then He gets another one every day.  God is with you ALWAYS.  He is the only sure protection for you, your family, your health, your finances, etc.

Now I do know that life is really hard and everything cannot be covered in one simple blog but this is the foundation. The place to start. Just submit and begin trusting in the one who knows every hair on your head (He is that close to you right now) with what you need today.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Going Deep Book Review

The following is a review of the book "Going Deep" by Gordon Macdonald.  The book was provided by BookSneeze.com for an unbiased review.

After finishing this book by Gordon Macdonald, I saw "wow".  The book is a bit lengthy and no doubt the point could have been made with fewer words (probably just leaving out some sections).  However, the information delivered is still very much worth the read.  The book addresses through a fictional story the epidemic of surface level Christians and the inability of church programs to make a difference.  It address the importance of discipling and a radical way to approach it.  The ideas presented could wholly change the church of today and the responsibilities of pastors today.  As a lay person, there were several times I thought this book is meant for pastors. At the same time, as a Bible Study leader it was very motivating and I am so thankful that I took the time to read it.  I would strongly suggest that any Christian who desires a "deeper" relationship with Christ or needs information on discipling others take advantage of this resource.  There is no reason why any Christian could not apply many of the principles here to their personal journey and their ability to serve God in an effective manner.  I do believe that while the story is fiction, the ideas are very real and applicable.  I would highly recommend reading this book.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Status Quo Christian

Getting ready to start a new Bible Study tomorrow.  I am filled with excitement and nervousness about it.  I know God has prepared this lesson for us.  For months now, He has repeatedly laid it out before me.  Now I feel the burden of the task to try to put together cohesively all that I have been learning.  I sense that this is the one.  The one that could radically change lives. The process of preparation has changed me and I so want to share it.

The theme of the study has been pounded out on my computer in a few of these post.  It is basically, how to not be a (what I am calling) a "status quo Christian".  You may be thinking,  what in the world does that mean? It is being a Christian but having a surface level daily relationship. If you are a "status quo Christian" then you may feel moved Sunday morning during the sermon, but by Monday you are too busy to let it matter.   You probably heard that God speaks, but doubt He does these days. When you hurt or are in a difficult situation, you have no faith God will change anything. You probably don't read your Bible or may not have ever been on your face before the Lord. And as a result, you are ho hum about your relationship with Christ.

The study we are doing is "One In A Million" by Priscilla Shirer".  I hope to be able to add to that some of what God has taught me over the past months.  In the end, I pray we will find our Promise Land.  The place where we live an abundant life with a God who desires to talk with us. I pray that we learn to "walk" with Him daily on both good days and bad. I pray that bitterness and lack of faith with be sent packing back to the father of lies.  That every time we read His Word our excitement will grow and we will tingle head to toes.  I cannot wait to see what the Lord Jesus will do with our lives when they are fully submitted (eyes upon the one who loves us more than life itself - literally).

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Written by 16 yr old son - Kenneth

A lot of times I find that I doubt there truly is a God. I see people all around me destroying their lives with drugs, alcohol, and similar things. Then I will ask myself how a loving God would allow things like that to happen. But there is no point to question Him. God allows things like this to happen so that He can get people’s attention. But most of the time it does not work. People just go on with their lives and do not care who helped them. They do not stop to think that God had helped them in their time of need. That is why we need to tell them who helped them and how they can get saved. Salvation is not something to just shrug off. It is a decision that can change the course of your life dramatically if you allow God to work in you. But how do you get saved? The answer lies in one word that only the Savior of the world can give: grace. Christ died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins so that we “can be saved through faith – and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians2:8-9). Titus 2:11 states that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” I see God’s hand at work all around me each day. He uses the bad to bring about the good. In other words, what someone does can be used by God to bring them to Him. I know this for a fact because I am saved. Therefore, I know that whatever God does He does for a purpose.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Radiant Glow

Beauty. . . sigh.  It is something that every woman wants to feel.  Doesn't matter age. Doesn't matter anything.  As soon a young girl is old enough to understand, she wants to be beautiful. We use all sorts of cosmetics and buy closets full of clothes all to attain the feeling of being beautiful.  There is another way to beauty. It is lots less expensive and completely independent of the world's idea of beauty. The good news is that for everyone (who is a Christian) it is attainable.  Let me explain.

This makes me so excited.   Remember Moses? In Exodus 33-34, God passed by Moses while he was in a cleft of rock.  Moses could not look upon His face or he would die. However, God allowed him to see His back.  Exodus 34:29 says, "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD."  In the book, Spiritual Leadership, Oswald Sanders says the following: Spiritual Leadership "is the power to change the atmosphere by one's presence, the unconscious influence that makes Christ and spiritual things real to others."  What a powerful statement!  I think that Oswald Sanders is talking about the same thing as what happened to Moses.  He is talking about a radiance left from spending time with the Lord.

That radiant glow would be better than youth or beauty by the world's standards.  It can't be bought or inherited.  It can only be obtained by spending time with the Lord. Now that is a beauty that is attainable and better than anything out of a bottle.  Proverbs confirms what we know to be true when it says "beauty is fleeting". The good news is that you can have radiant beauty that is renewable when you spend more time with Him (the Light of the World).


Monday, February 20, 2012

Making the Change. . .you can do it!

Ok, so perhaps you have not learned to prioritize your time with God but you so want to.  You want to be a "deep" Christian but just can't get there.  Then hopefully this will help.

The most obvious answer is to check local churches for a Bible Study group. It does not need to be the church you belong to. Any church that teaches the name of Jesus and believes the full Bible will do.  These groups provide accountability and there are some amazing studies available for groups to do. If that is not a possibility or you just don't want to. . .then plan 2.

Choose a book of the Bible.  If you love history then definitely an Old Testament book.  You can learn about Ruth, Queen Esther, Daniel, David, the Father's of faith (such as Noah & Abraham).  You can feel like you are going on an adventure while you learn. If you love poetry, then Psalms or Proverbs will be your book.  If none of these fit but you are just hungry for more then try any of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and learn all about Jesus' walk on earth. Then there is Paul. I love studying Paul's journey.  There are so many possibilities. . .just choose one.

Next find a journal or notebook to use specifically for this.  Each day read one chapter of the book you chose.  As you read, really think about each verse and any special meaning they have to you.  At the conclusion of reading, just write that verse and what it means to you in your journal.

Now honestly, reading your Bible is step one of a two step process for going deep. The second part is prayer. Without prayer, you will not go deep.  Prayer is when we spend time talking to God.  It does not have to be poetry or memorized.  It simply has to be from a humble heart before the throne of God.  I would suggest, if possible, that you get on your hands and knees (preferably face to the ground).  Is that necessary? No. God will hear you regardless.  It simply helps us be humble and focused.  God loves us and treats us with tremendous mercy and grace but He is still God. He is the creator of everything.  He is Holy!!!!

I pray that as you pray today you will feel His Spirit wash over you. That you will know His great love and peace. I pray that He will guide your thoughts and your steps today.