Tuesday, July 31, 2007

07 31 07 Meaningful Words Make Meaningful Prayers


“So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.”
(Luke 11:2)

Jesus gave all of us a model prayer as He answered the disciples desires to be taught to pray. We can easily fall into the trap of reciting the same words prayer after prayer or modeling our prayers after someone we admire. Take a simple prayer over our food: do we say the same prayer we learned as a toddler (“God is grace…..”)? We are attempting to teach our kids to pray for the food, actually naming it by item, thanking him for who prepared the meal (mom, dad, brother, sister, or the restaurant staff), and also to remember to mention pertinent prayer requests. No, we don’t want (or really appreciate) a prayer so long that the food needs to be put in the microwave, but MEANINGFUL WORDS MAKE FOR MEANINGFUL PRAYERS!

I believe in teaching general prayers to children as a way of learning how to pray, but we all have to keep in mind that prayer is simply communicating with God. If we fall into the habit of reciting prayers, we forget the other part of communication; listening! As we open our heart to the Lord and those around us, we become a little vulnerable. We become somewhat humbled. We’re not telling God things but showing our appreciation, our dependency upon Him, and our need for His provision and protection. As we pray from our heart and for His will to be done, we are reminded that He is in control and His will is best for us. As we take time to then meditate upon our prayer, letting His words sink in, many times we are instantly lifted and encouraged, knowing we trust in a God that can do all things but fail!

MEANINGFUL WORDS MAKE MEANINGFUL PRAYERS, that makes meaningful relationships. Remember the courting years? There not very popular today! Kids meet, decide they like each other, call it love, and have a relationship. Nor real time, real effort, or real meaning. We used to take the time to write to our beloved, spend our last dime on a flower, or put our will aside for their needs. When is the last time we wrote out a prayer to our Savior, gave Him our last dollar instead of saving it for the Monday morning coffee, or really meant it when we said, “your will be done”?

Let’s recommit our time with the Lord to be meaningful once again. Let’s not allow our prayers to become routine or a cheap copy of someone else’s words. May our words be meaningful once again, our prayers reflect our heart feelings and emotions, and may our relationship with the Savior be the most meaningful relationship in our life! Amen?!?!

Monday, July 30, 2007

07 29 07 In the Beginning

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning.”
(John 1:1-2)

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth……God said ‘Let there be light’……God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters’……God said……
(Genesis 1:1-)
It’s a very simple thought today: In the beginning, the Lord created with his words. A simple breath, a whisper, even a bellow from the heavens and the sun, the moon, the stars, the waters, the mountains, the fowl and the beasts, and finally God’s crowning jewel: man was made in His image.

If God spoke in the beginning, if He spoke throughout the Old Testament, if “the Word” spoke as He lived upon the earth, and if He spoke to Paul on the road and to John on a deserted island, can He not still speak in a still small voice today? Can we be quiet enough and still long enough to hear? Do we set aside time to speak with Him and to listen for His voice in the wind or see His message in the beauty surrounding us? What do we do in the beginning of each day?

When John was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10) He heard that voice once again remind him He was still alive, still on the throne. In Revelation 1:18 Jesus says “I am alive forever and ever and I hold the keys of death and of Hades” (the abode of the wicked-hell).

In closing the Revelation of Jesus Christ and God’s written communication with man, Jesus gave us an invitation to come. The Spirit as well bids all to come. John, the author, says, “Come Lord Jesus”. (Revelation 22:20)

How often do we take the time to think of what it was like in the beginning when God spoke creation into existence by His Word and His Spirit hovered about the expanse of the earth? Do we ever go back in the beginning of our walk with the Lord and see how far He has brought us, or how far we may have wondered?

Sometimes we need to go back to be reminded of where we should be headed. In the beginning of each day, let’s hear from the Word. Let’s hear what God said as well as what he is still saying. He is alive and holds the keys to life and death. He whispers “Come.” He shouts aloud “COME!” Will we come to Him each morning, in the beginning?

Friday, July 27, 2007

07 27 07 Love of the Game
“If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you.”
(John 14:15 the Message)

I remember when I was young; 10-11-12 years old? I would wake up itching to get to the playground, the basketball court, the ball field. I would play all morning, run home to eat if I remembered to do so, and play until the street lights came on, because it was too dark to see the ball or the rim! I played because I loved to play! I played against kids 3-4 years older than I was, trying to be as good as they were. I want to remember those days: the challenges, the kids, the players, the balls and gloves and bats from every sport, the sweat, the sunburn, and my parents asking me when I was coming inside. When I would fall asleep at night, it would be with the hopes and plans of playing again tomorrow! Something about that seems true and pure – the kind of thing that will keep sports alive, the kind of thing that kept me busy and out-of-trouble as a youth as well. The love of the game pushed me to succeed, not a paycheck and not promises of later rewards, but getting better each day.
Something about this also seems right about our relationship with God. I have learned so much about my relationship with the Lord and the Body of believers through sports analogies: Teamwork, responsibility to others, sacrifice, commitment, late nights and early mornings, sweat and toil, rejection, growth, mentoring, and yes, failure and restoration.
I know what it’s like for one man to win the game single-handedly and for one man to lose it all for the team. I’ve seen a team of has-beens beat the superstars and I’ve seen the one never selected, rejected by the crowd, turn out to be the hero in the end. When you serve God, you carry your own stuff at times, much like the bullpen crew walking out prior to a baseball game. We carry our tools on our back, along with some of the baggage of life. In some sports, like in our Christian walk, we need a caddy, a buddy to walk alongside our journey and carry the load for us. Many times we’re at the foul line all alone; game tied, no time on the clock and it’s just us with a decision to make. Air ball, brick, or swish; our action decides the outcome. Have we put in the practice? The crowd is watching. Others are depending upon us. DADDY is watching closely, ready to applaud. Good thing is, as much as we brick the shot (miss the mark) He still loves us. It’s not always so in life is it? Are we're in it for the love of the game? But wait; this game is life. It's the real thing.
We love the sport, the hobby, or the activity so much we put every ounce of energy into it. Why not so with our relationship with Christ? What value is there in a 1st Place trophy after years of rust and dust? Who remembers the shot, or the hit, or even the strikeout? We remember the relationships. It’s all about relationships! How is our relationship with Christ? Does He have priority? Do we go to sleep speaking with Him, planning our next day to serve Him, dream about Him, and wake up energized to be with Him all day long? Are we still living and loving the game of life, or are we living for THE LOVE OF CHRIST? If we love Him as much as we say, we’ll obey His words, just as we obeyed our thirst for sports in our early days (and even for some in our latter days!).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

07 26 07 GPS (God’s Providential System)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;”
(Proverbs 3:5 NKJV)

Nowadays, everyone has some sort of guide to direct them around in their day. It may be Mapquest, Magellan, Tom-Tom, or some other Global Positioning System (GPS). The Lord is the most reliable object of confidence. He knows where we are at all times and at every second. He doesn’t have to track us down or get our coordinates before finding us. He knows our present location, but also where we have been and where we are headed.

“‘For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope’.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NET)

Leaning upon God’s Providential System, instead of the world’s way of thinking, will give us peace, strength, and understanding in our daily dealings as well as our future plans. His providence literally means foresight, but is generally used to denote God's preserving and governing all things. Most of us, however, would rather trust our own guidance and then lean upon God’s understanding when we mess up!

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice––the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
(Romans 12:1 NLT)
The dedicated Christian is not one whose actions are shaped by his personal whims and desires, nor does he conform to the values and goals of the world about him. The Christian is one whose life is conformed to the Word of God and whose whole thought process is being re-shaped. Just as at the fall, man’s intellectual facilities were corrupted, so the Christian experience should be a life-long process of restructuring our thinking in conformity to God’s Word and God’s will. Giving over our guidance system to the Lord begins with our heart and mind. It’s first an internal thing! Our body is His; a temple of the Holy Spirit. We must treat it as such! It’s best to let the Captain drive His own ship!!!!
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately.”
(2 Peter 1:5-8 NET)

There are evidently degrees of ownership of these qualities Peter writes of, implying degrees of productivity as we grow in our intimacy with Christ. This no doubt requires consistent discipline and guidance in our maturation process as a believer. We must determine to lay out a plan each and every day to give ourselves over to the Lordship of Christ. If we want our Savior, we also must accept our Lord. Does He know where we are? Yes indeed! Do we know where He is? Hum……..….Let me look up His location!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

07 25 07 Grace or Disgrace

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!”
(Romans 6:15)

Ok; so now that we are saved form our sin and forgiven; having been granted forgiveness by the blood of Christ, our belief in Him and repentance from sin, can we casually and flippantly continue in sin……God forbid! (KJV version) This is an expression of absolute denial by God; certainly not, absolutely not, by no means, NEVER!
Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace...is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
How long will we continue to refer to ourselves as children of the living God, claim Christ as our Savior, yet live in such a way that shows no evidence of repentance, or change? Oh yes, the grace God offers us has a requirement in addition to belief: REPENTANCE! Grace is free for us, God’s unmerited favor toward a lost sinner like me, but it cost Christ a great deal on the cross! For Christ to be our Lord, we must be obedient to Him. All throughout the Bible, sinners are called to repent and be baptized. Once we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we repent from our sin and become baptized as an outward sign of that commitment to follow our Lord. We have to get out of the boat and follow Him! We have to make a decision to leave our former lifestyle and follow the path of righteousness in Christ.

So as we claim grace, why do we live a life of disgrace? Why do we disgrace our Lord by justifying our sins as mistakes, slip-ups, or lack of maturity? I understand that there is a maturation process we all go through as believers, but when I hear things like “We’re gonna do what we’re gonna’ do” or “God knows my weaknesses”, even I feel disgraced, especially when I know the person knows sin from a mistake or a lack of maturity! I wonder how loudly God is screaming from heaven today, “Absolutely not!”

I wonder how long we will continue to cheapen God’s grace. I wonder how long we will disgrace the cross. I wonder how long God will hold back from judgment and allow His grace to fall upon us. I wonder……do we hear DADDY crying out to us?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

07 23 07 God Knows

“O Lord, You examine me and know. You know when I sit down and when I get up; even from far away You understand my motives……You place Your hand on me……You wove me together in my mother’s womb……You knew me thoroughly: my bones were not hidden from You, when I was made in secret and sewed together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in Your scroll before one of them came into existence…….Examine me and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path!”
(Psalm 139 NET)

After witnessing the home going of our 17 year-old cousin and the birth of our second grandson all within 24 hours, I realized more than ever how GOD KNOWS all about us. He knows our beginnings and end. He knows us from the moment we are conceived until the second we breathe our last breath. He knows where we will spend eternity, with Him or in hell and eternal torment and separation from Him. GOD KNOWS! The questions are this: Does He know us and do we care if others are known by Him?

You see, lots of people know who God is. I believe that very few people are really atheists. You can’t live many days upon this earth and actually believe there is no God. They may not care, but they know! One may go through life acting as though God does not exist, but the moment things go wrong, they cry out, “Oh God….” They ask why, how, and what is the purpose. One may even curse at God. No matter the response, they know He exists! Even Satan himself knows God. Knowledge is one thing; belief and repentance is a totally different reality!

I like The Message version of Jesus’ response to the question of how many will be saved in Luke’s Gospel: “Well, one day you're going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you'll find the door locked and the Master saying, 'Sorry, you're not on my guest list.'”(Luke 13:25 MSG) As my Pastor reminded me just this Sunday (July 22), it’s not whether we know God, but does God know us? So, I ask everyone I meet, “Does God know you? Is your name on the guest list?” What a shame to think you’re on the list only to be told, “I don’t know you!” We each have to make the decision while there is still time.

We ALL have sinned. We ALL deserve spiritual death and separation from God. Jesus died and rose from the dead so we ALL may have eternal life with God. It’s His gift to EACH of us by His grace, not by anything we do. We ALL must do two things: believe on the Lord Jesus and repent from our sins. We can’t fool God. GOD KNOWS.

Witnessing life and death within the same 24 hours help me to realize this fact. What matters most is what God knows about me…and you. Does He know me? Does He know you? It’s up to us! It‘s not in our words, but how we live, the things we do. Only GOD KNOWS!
07 24 07 To Share or Not to Share

“So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58) NET)

There is a couple in the Bible that a minister friend and mentor of ours jokingly referred to one day when he spotted my wife Tamara and me one day in church. It caused me to learn a little about these friends of Paul. Aquila and Priscilla not only made their living together and grew in the Word together, they served the Lord together. When they were just getting started in business in Corinth their home was probably not big enough to hold all the Christians, so the house of Titus Justus was used. But it seems as though God had blessed them materially, and they were using their resources in Ephesus for His glory.

Their home was a meeting place for the Ephesian church. And the home of Aquila and Priscilla was always open to people who wanted to learn more about Christ, and for Christians who wanted to grow in the Word.. While we have church buildings, there is no substitute for the home as a center for evangelism and spiritual nurture in the community.

As my wife and I were called into full time ministry, we too heard the Lord tell us to work as a family, opening up our home and resources for His glory. To date we‘ve helped more than 1,700 individuals on the streets, in our home, and going into families and helping as they have a need. We have had had 15 people live within our home from the ages of newborn to 23 years old for periods of a few weeks to a few years. We have never charged for the assistance, but relied upon the Lord to provide. And He has met each need and some more at times. This is our job, our labor, our calling. We share everything; the joys and blessings as well as the hurts, the rejections, and the setbacks.

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name. And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.”
(Hebrews 13:15-16)

My wife is the brains and beauty of our ministry/business. I am the grunt; the man on the streets. I like it that way. I have always been hands-on and the Lord has gifted me in this way as a teacher. Although my wife may be more intelligent and resourceful than me, God still wants her to look to me as her leader. That is not always easy for an extremely talented woman to do, but Priscilla did it and so does Tamara. She does not compete with me. She is using her God-given abilities, as a helpmeet to me for the glory of God. I am sure Aquila thanked God for her many times and accepted her wise counsel on many occasions, as I am learning to do. Tamara (and Priscilla) are two of the world’s truly liberated women, for there is no freedom that brings more joy and satisfaction than the freedom of obeying God’s Word.

“Dear friend, you demonstrate faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers (even though they are strangers). They have testified to your love before the church. 12 You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone forth on behalf of ‘The Name’ accepting nothing from the pagans. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we become coworkers in cooperation with the truth.”
(3 John 5:8)

Our burden is what TO SHARE OR NOT TO SHARE with others. John encouraged his followers to support the missionaries going through the area. Others in Ephesus were told not to do so! At times it is embarrassing to ask for so much, so we stay quiet and wait upon the Lord. Now I feel the burden of every missionary I speak to and listen to.

This is not a complaint, Lord knows. It’s just a request to share our burdens with us. We need you to help us do the work God established within us. We can’t quit: how embarrassing that would be to us and to the Lord! So we do our best not to grow weary in doing as much good as we can. I pray that some of you may also hear Paul’s instruction to “not neglect to do good and to share what you have” and John’s apostolic voice in admonishing all of us to “support such people, so that we become coworkers in cooperation with the truth.”

Thursday, July 19, 2007

07 19 07 Not An Easy Task

“So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.”
(1 Corinthians 9:26-27)

It’s NOT AN EASY TASK living life in a fish bowl, or at least feeling like I’m in one. This is a rather personal devotion, so I hope and pray it still may help you or someone you share it with. But if you’ve lived a life anything similar to mine, you just might be able to relate. When coming to know Jesus in y thirties, in the middle of a crossroads in life, there was much adjustment required and many things I simply had to turn away from. As with any new Christian, change takes place over time.

The struggle came in when I realized the gifts the Holy Spirit endowed me with and then attempting to use them wisely. Even today, I struggle at times with what the Spirit is saying and man‘s opinion concerning my direction. While grace abounds where sin once ruled, unfortunately, man still remembers and at times puts limits where God has loosed the chains. Though Christ has wiped away every one of my sins by His blood upon the cross, I still am reminded at times by a look in the mirror, or worse, a look into someone else’s eyes. It’s NOT AN EASY TASK to keep boxing, fight to keep my mind and body in subjection, and to stay in the race. At times, I do feel that man would keep me disqualified. Thank God that He has cleansed me from all sin and that day I look into His eyes, I will see real grace, real forgiveness, and true acceptance!

“Let no one look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity.
Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have,
given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you.
Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them,
so that everyone will see your progress.
Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”
(1 Timothy 4:12-16)

Timothy faced peer pressure. He was from a mixed family, had a strong mother and grandmother (was Dad around?) and he was inexperienced. But Paul urged him to be an example, stay consistent, and not to neglect his gifts. Let all concerned see God at work through him. After all, these gifts were from God, not man! I feel this! So many ask how I can be where I am and have a right to do what I’m doing, yet God called me and wife to this mission. Many watch to see if we’ll fail, but I continue in the work to let them see God’s power, even through me. Many have counted me out, but God called me into His light and desires to use me, despite my past failures. He desires and delights in my progress and faithfulness from the time He saved me until now, not the things of my past. It’s NOT AN EASY TASK to work in a fish bowl of what seems like piranhas at times, but His grace is sufficient and like Daniel and his friends, I desire to keep my eyes on Christ, not those turning up the heat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

07 18 07 Powerless, In Need, and Searching: A Great Place To Be!

“Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position……so that no one can boast in his presence.”
(1Corinthians 1; 26-29)

To be POWERLESS, in need, and constantly SEARCHING, what A GREAT PLACE TO BE when it comes to the Christian character. Let me explain. The world would tell us that we should be strong, independent, prepared for life months in advance, and secure in who we are and where we are going in life; all that is good. When it comes to our Christian character and in our relationship with Christ, it’s not quite the same.

Think back to when we realized Christ was calling to us. Perhaps He’s calling out today. We thought we were wise, yet couldn’t figure things out. We believed we had the strength to move mountains, yet we couldn’t even move away from a relationship that was literally killing us. We thought we came from a great family and were set for life, yet when things went a little haywire, we found ourselves alone; family had their own problems to deal with!

Now, while we have power in Christ, in our own flesh we are useless and POWERLESS. While He will supply each and every one of our needs according to His riches in glory, it’s according to His will, not our abilities. We NEED Him! Though Jesus found us wallowing in the muck and mire, we should be in constant SEARCH of His will for us daily and for that still small voice in our heart. Listen to how Matthew portrays Jesus’ words through the Holy Spirit, as He spoke concerning Kingdom life:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.”
(Matthew 5:3-6)

If we are poor in spirit, we realize we have nothing to offer to God. He alone is holy and righteous. I am a filthy rag, spiritually bankrupt! As we mourn, we are not happy, but blessed and able to rejoice knowing stuff is happening in this world because it is a sin-sick world and we have felt the pain of death, disease, and the ugliness of broken relationships. We rely upon God’s grace and His promise of life in the Kingdom and we can rejoice in that. Feeling meek and a little inadequate to do His work, we have no confidence in our flesh, but in the power God alone supplies to carry our His will through us. Though Moses was considered the meekest of men, he acted with great power, courage, and authority when God worked through him! So go ahead and feel a little overwhelmed, inadequate, and alone. It’s fine to grieve over a loss. Just realize it is God and God alone who gives you strength to endure, fulfillment to trust Him, and grace and love to comfort each of us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

07 17 07 No Control


“Consequently the LORD provides safety for the oppressed;
He provides safety in times of trouble.
Your loyal followers trust in you
for you, LORD, do not abandon those who seek your help.”
(Psalm 9:9-10 NET)

David praises God for delivering him from hostile nations. He celebrates God’s sovereignty and justice, and calls on others to join him in boasting of God’s greatness. God’s safety is an elevated place for times in trouble. Here an elevated place refers to a stronghold, a defensible, secure position that represents a safe haven in times of unrest or distress. When we have NO CONTROL, God is still in control. In fact, when we have lost control, or given up control, we are finally in position to trust God to take control. When things are going well, we tend to leave Him out, don’t we?

“And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed."
(Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV)

Moses reminded the people that God would be with them in times of battle, when things look dreadful. Just as He has delivered them in the past, He will be faithful to do the same in the present and in the future. It’s the same for us today, yet we have the Holy Spirit with us constantly, if we only trust Him more!

“So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
(Hebrews 13:6, NIV)

I have come to learn that the closest I feel to Christ is when I am in the toughest storm; right in the middle of mess, leaning, no clinging to my Savior, my Rock, my shelter, my fortress, my high and mighty stronghold! It’s then that I realize I really have NO CONTROL! I need the Lord for everything I need!

If I want a healthier relationship with my wife, I need the Lord. If I want to improve my skills as a father, I need the Lord. If I desire to serve the Lord and others to His glory, then I can’t do without Him being in total control. If I have no control, then I can allow God total control. God can’t be my co-pilot, He must have the wheel!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

)7 16 07 Man Says……The Bible Says……

“You have a right to remain silent!” As Americans we learn very quickly of our rights, don’t we? We have freedom to speak about nearly anything, yet we as Christian Americans allow the minority to tell us what we can say. While we have a right to remain silent when it comes to incriminating ourselves and we also have a right to exercise our freedom to speak forth the Gospel. That is of course, unless we don’t want to incriminate ourselves and have someone believe that we are Christian! MAN SAYS we can and should remain silent. THE BIBLE SAYS we are commanded to go…baptize…teach…preach…proclaim…and witness.

Take a look at the endings of each Gospel account:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned’.” (Mark 16:15-16)

“……..and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what my Father promised.” (Luke 24:47-49)

It really is getting late in the day. The sun is really about to go down; be rolled back as a scroll. THE SON is about to return. Can’t you feel it? Sometimes I can feel the excitement of His coming back! Will it be today; tomorrow; within our children’s lifetime? I know I feel a burden to tell everyone and give them a chance to know Him, before it’s too late! Don’t believe what the world tells you! Is someone’s eternal life worth not opening our mouths?

MAN SAYS we have plenty of time; relax and enjoy yourself while you’re young. There’s plenty of time to get Jesus later. THE BIBLE SAYS to pray while there is still time! We are not promised tomorrow, even the next hour. God has numbered our days.

As long as I have breath I will speak of Jesus and with as much grace as the Spirit gives me, I will do my best to represent Him with my life. Let peace rule our decisions to represent the Lord each and every day. Never be afraid to do what the Spirit within our hearts directs us to do. We are being sent every day. We hit our mission field when our feet hit the floor, if not sooner.

“Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)

MAN SAYS ………THE BIBLE SAYS; who are we going to obey?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

07 12 07 How Long Will We Wait

“When I refused to confess my sin, my whole body wasted away, while I groaned in pain all day long………Then I confessed my sin………and You forgave my sins………For this reason every one of Your faithful followers should pray to You while there is a window of opportunity………the Lord’s faithfulness overwhelms the one who trusts in Him.” (Psalm 32:3-10)

I was reading this morning from Purpose Driven Life’s Daily Devotional and it was so pertinent to some things I am going through within my personal life and ministry. Perhaps it will help you grasp a little reality as well.

Back in the 19th-century, a missionary to China named Hudson Taylor said he was talking to a Buddhist leader, one who’d become a follower of Christ. The former Buddhist asked Taylor how long the gospel had been known in England. “For hundreds of years,” Taylor said. The new convert began to cry. He said, “For hundreds of years! My father sought the truth for more than 20 years, and he died without finding it. Why didn’t you come sooner?” And that question burned in Hudson Taylor’s soul as he thought about the millions of Chinese who’d never heard of Jesus Christ.

There are still more than 3,000 people groups in the world with no known church, no local witness, and no eternal hope. They’ve never heard about Jesus. Guess what? There are neighbors on our streets and members of our family who have never heard Jesus explained nor seen Him lived out in a real sense either! People we know die every day and go to hell because we were too embarrassed or afraid of losing their friendship or their respect. We’d rather have them lose their soul! HOW LONG WILL WE WAIT? Thank God for those of you, who care to share, invest your life, and not care about your reputation. Thank God for those of you who cared for me over the years!

“And do this (walk in obedience, in holiness, Romans 12:1-13:10) because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from our sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers.” (Romans 13:11)

David and Paul both are talking to believers in their messages above. We can’t forget the consequences of sin in our life either. We must hold each other accountable to our decisions and be willing to risk friendship for the sake of the soul of those who believe. Only God knows the heart, so we should never assume anyone’s spiritual condition.

If David said, pray while there is still time and Paul said the day of salvation is near, how much closer are we today? HOW LONG WILL WE WAIT to reach the lost, the misled, the wanderer, and the confused? Is it worth the friendship, popularity, or embarrassment? Knowing a friend or family member has gone to hell is devastating: imagine how much more hurtful if we know we did nothing about it. Imagine now the joy, knowing we’ll see them again because we know without a doubt that they had a personal relationship with the Savior, JESUS CHRIST!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

07 11 07 Take Me Back Lord

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!
Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.
For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace……”
(Hebrews 13:8-9)

Those Hebrew Christians the author was writing to were being lured back into the old rituals and traditions of the Jewish faith. We are reminded to follow what we first learned of Christ: grace is a gift from God and we can not earn by any ceremony or ritual act.

Christ and His message has not changed or been adapted over the years. There is still no faith plus works, grace plus giving, or anything else. While we were sinners Christ died for our sins! He sacrificed for us so we no longer had to worry about what we ate, what sacrifice was made for which sin, or what a family did to make God angry. We don’t need to rely on a human priest to make atonement for us or an animal to be offered as our scapegoat. Christ is our perfect blood sacrifice, our scapegoat, our precious Lamb, our High Priest, our Savior and King. He is Lord of lords and Ruler over all. TAKE ME BACK, LORD.

What sense does it make to trust in man, money, or ourselves? Grace is offered free too those of us who choose to believe and repent and allow the Spirit of God to teach us, lead us and use us to His glory. Our faith will produce good works to the glory of God. There is no guarantee of riches, fame, or success here on earth, but there is a promise of peace within our soul and eternal joy in heaven for eternity. We all will have hardships, some more, some less; that’s life! Jesus came that we may have abundant life in Him (perissos in Greek, in the sense of beyond this life): a secure hope for eternal life with Christ in heaven. Remember that day we first believed in His promises? TAKE ME BACK, LORD

Today we find security in our health, our families, our homes, our jobs, our cars, our home alarm system, even in our church building. Real security comes from the personal relationship with the Savior: knowing He has me and all my problems in the palm of His hand. He does stick closer than a brother. He is born for adversity. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is my Rock and my Redeemer. He’s my God. I trust Him.

Andre Crouch wrote a song that said “Take me back; I wanna’ go back; to the day when I first received You.” I want to go back to the day I first received Him……every day I want to be right there. Just as innocent, just as trusting, just as sure. Jesus hasn’t changed one bit. We tend to move away. TAKE ME BACK LORD, back to the innocent and trusting faith.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

07 10 07 Limits in Life
"I am the true vine and My Father is the gardener.
He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in Me.
He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.”
(John 15:1-2)

In the Old Testament, Israel has been referred to as a vine. Christ has come to reveal Himself as the true vine and God the Father as the vine dresser, the gardener if you will. God owns the vineyard. Christ is head of the vine, the body of Christ, the church. He has come to prepare us by the Father’s will. Jesus reminds us that we as believers, the branches, must stay connected to the vine God has a right to prune those who are His own and we need to welcome the pruning, as we will in turn be more fruitful for Him!

So what does pruning look like? At times it is discipline. At times it is teaching. At times it is punishment. God sets boundaries and LIMITS IN LIFE. Thank Him for that! There are some things He will allow and other things God will never let come into our lives. He will totally wipe out some destroying activity, much like a weed and grass killer……killing root and all. Other times God will trim away little by little, pruning us for growth in the future. How we respond to the blade is paramount to our growth and the fruit we bear.

Unfortunately, many believers today are being totally uprooted by the Vinedresser and taken out of the garden completely due to the choices we make and the lack of self-control. We ignore God’s toiling in our soil, continue to grow wild, collecting weeds and cancer causing insects and disease, and become no use for fruit bearing. The Gardener has no choice but to pluck us out. We are damaging the garden too severely, perhaps encouraging too much wild growth among us!

Let me be real for a minute. The simple task of driving my son to school in the morning is becoming a real challenge. As I navigate through detours, red lights, and construction, I also must battle swerving sports cars, speeding SUV’s and other forms of out-of-control manned vehicles. Most of these drivers are adults in business suits and prestigious cars and trucks, not kids driving to the 7-11! I wonder, how can we teach our kids to follow simple guidelines at home if we as adults can do simple daily tasks like staying a designated lane, not tail-gating, and obeying the speed limit. Oh yea, we need LIMITS IN LIFE!

I wonder aloud at times what God thinks of me as I go through the day. How often do I sadden Him because I set such a bad example? How long will He be patient? How much grace is enough? When will I decide to really stay connected to the vine and follow the LIMITS IN LIFE He sets for me? I realize I will never be perfect, but I want to do the little things right. If I can’t be a Christian behind the wheel of my vehicle, how can I handle the wheel of my home, my marriage, my ministry? Simple things, but huge in perspective to kingdom life and fruit inspection! Oh DADDY, I invite you into my personal garden: weed, cut, prune and cause growth……cause fruit to grow and mature, to Your glory!

Monday, July 9, 2007

07 09 07 Character Still Counts

“Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;
he meditates on His commands day and night.”
(Psalm 1:2)

How do we develop and maintain good and Godly character in a world full of sudden surprises, flagrant accusations, and unwarranted attacks? How does a Christian avoid losing his testimony? We must be committed to one very basic aspect of Christian life: Bible study and memorization. Jesus refuted every challenge with the Word of God. “It is written……” is still our greatest weapon against evil. If the Lord could stand toe-to –toe with Satan, quoting the Word of God while being tempted with all the riches and power of this world, why do we think there is a better source of power available to us?

One of my favorite Bible teachers, Charles Swindoll writes, “We have every right to expect of ourselves and others virtue, dignity, self-mastery, resoluteness, determination, strength of will, moral purity, and personal integrity— in public and in private. The fact that many fail to live up to the minimal daily requirement does not change the ideal. If men like Job and Joseph and Daniel could demonstrate character in the worst of times, you and I can do so now. And because we can, we must.”1

As we hide His word in our hearts, study to show ourselves approved of God, we empower and protect ourselves with the full armor of God. We strengthen our character to withstand temptation to lash out, react too quickly, or lose our religion! We learn to enjoy what His Word is doing for us internally. We are giving control over to the Spirit within us……feeding the new dog, so to speak. Oh, character still counts, more so today than ever before!
As we go throughout the day, people are watching and listening. Ever stand in a long line in a department store and listen to the critical mumbling? Soon everyone is chiming in with a comment about the store, the cashier, the manager, etc. Do we add to the chatter, remain patient, or better yet, add a positive remark? What about the bumper-to-bumper traffic: do we lean on the horn, drive down the shoulder, or honor the bumper sticker on rear of our car (yes, Jesus saves in the back-up too!) Character counts every day; whether at work, in the home, or in the church. Studying Scripture builds character as weightlifting builds muscle; it must be consistent, challenging and if possible, done with a friend (one who can spot you and urge you on to higher goals).

There is an old song which says “if you don’t respect yourself, ain’t nobody gonna’ give a hoot, na na na na na……” You older folks remember ( the Staple singers, I believe)? Character brings respect. Consistent character strengthens our testimony, shows self-respect, and gives public merit to the Spirit of God. As we study and apply His Word, we are better equipped to handle sudden surprises, devastating disasters, even the morning rush hour. Oh, character still counts, without they’ll be total chaos!
07 09 07 Character Still Counts

“Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;
he meditates on His commands day and night.”
(Psalm 1:2)
How do we develop and maintain good and Godly character in a world full of sudden surprises, flagrant accusations, and unwarranted attacks? How does a Christian avoid losing his testimony? We must be committed to one very basic aspect of Christian life: Bible study and memorization. Jesus refuted every challenge with the Word of God. “It is written……” is still our greatest weapon against evil. If the Lord could stand toe-to –toe with Satan, quoting the Word of God while being tempted with all the riches and power of this world, why do we think there is a better source of power available to us?


One of my favorite Bible teachers, Charles Swindoll writes, “We have every right to expect of ourselves and others virtue, dignity, self-mastery, resoluteness, determination, strength of will, moral purity, and personal integrity— in public and in private. The fact that many fail to live up to the minimal daily requirement does not change the ideal. If men like Job and Joseph and Daniel could demonstrate character in the worst of times, you and I can do so now. And because we can, we must.”1


As we hide His word in our hearts, study to show ourselves approved of God, we empower and protect ourselves with the full armor of God. We strengthen our character to withstand temptation to lash out, react too quickly, or lose our religion! We learn to enjoy what His Word is doing for us internally. We are giving control over to the Spirit within us……feeding the new dog, so to speak. Oh, character still counts, more so today than ever before!


As we go throughout the day, people are watching and listening. Ever stand in a long line in a department store and listen to the critical mumbling? Soon everyone is chiming in with a comment about the store, the cashier, the manager, etc. Do we add to the chatter, remain patient, or better yet, add a positive remark? What about the bumper-to-bumper traffic: do we lean on the horn, drive down the shoulder, or honor the bumper sticker on rear of our car (yes, Jesus saves in the back-up too!) Character counts every day; whether at work, in the home, or in the church. Studying Scripture builds character as weightlifting builds muscle; it must be consistent, challenging and if possible, done with a friend (one who can spot you and urge you on to higher goals).


There is an old song which says “if you don’t respect yourself, ain’t nobody gonna’ give a hoot, na na na na na……” You older folks remember ( the Staple singers, I believe)? Character brings respect. Consistent character strengthens our testimony, shows self-respect, and gives public merit to the Spirit of God. As we study and apply His Word, we are better equipped to handle sudden surprises, devastating disasters, even the morning rush hour. Oh, character still counts, without they’ll be total chaos!

Friday, July 6, 2007

07 06 07 Hard Choices…by Faith

By faith, Moses, when he had come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11:24-25 KJV)

Most of us can look back at our lives and see the mistakes we have made along the way, as well as some really good choices. Hard choices are made by faith for sure! At times we make a decision knowing we can make the money, set aside the time, make our plan for the occasion. These decisions are based upon trusting ourselves, our abilities, and perhaps our family and friends. But the really hard choices……well………

We read all throughout Hebrews 11 how many people faced danger, confusion, and the unknown by trusting God, not themselves! What do we do when the answer isn’t easy; when the end is no where in sight, or we really can’t see the forest for the trees? These are truly hard choices……..made by faith!

The best decisions I have made in life have occurred when I do not have the answers. I have had to consult wise counsel, pray, and even wait upon God to work things out. At these times, all I can say is “I trust you DADDY and follow YOU”. I must admit, folks think I am crazy at times, even my wife! Whether it has been leaving work for missionary life, making decisions concerning our children, or making the monthly budget, the choices are often hard. But so far, God has been true and I trust He always will be; if I only trust Him more often!!!!

This is STILL my prayer and I pray that you will hold me accountable to it, so my DADDY in heaven will receive all the praise and accolades:

“And if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve……but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

07 05 07 Free to Share

The Lord offers us many freedoms, regardless of where we live, our economic situation, or the relationships we find ourselves engaged in. We are free to believe His Word or not to believe. We are free to accept His promises or reject them. We are free to exercise the power His Spirit gives to every believer or keep them dormant. We are free to share with others about His love, grace, and His soon coming judgment! Are we using our freedoms or allowing the enemy to keep us chained? Let’s use our time and our freedoms to His glory while there is still time!

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
(2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV)

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 NKJV)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV)

“...that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NKJV)

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’.”
(Acts 2:38 NKJV)

“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 NKJV)




Tuesday, July 3, 2007

07 03 07 Freedom to Say “NO!”

“How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! Instead, he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands…..he succeeds in everything he attempts.”
(Psalm 1:1-3 NET)


Our family is participating in a Bible study/memorization program at our church and this happens to be our first memory text. How appropriate. This Hebrew wisdom psalm advises us to guard our associations, remain loyal to the word of God, and find happiness as a result of following His path. We can easily find ourselves on the downward spiral of listening to, hanging out with, and eventually becoming partners with the ungodly.

One of the biggest and most effective freedoms we have as Christians and as Americans is the freedom to say “NO!” Mr. Tom Nelson is quoted as saying that “Lust is the ever increasing desire for ever-decreasing pleasure.” [1] We have so many choices to make nearly every minute of the day: what to eat, where to go, who to talk to, what to watch, what to listen to, where to work, where to attend church, the list goes on. With such a smorgasbord of activities, we sometimes don’t know how or when to say “NO!” Some things we should never be associated with at all. Other activities we can handle in moderation. Still other choices are as innocent as a new-born baby, but not many!

Peer pressure affects each of us, young and old, Christian and non-believer, male or female. We are influenced by those around us, what they do, and what they have. It seems to be human nature to keep up with the Jones! Trouble is, the Jones don’t care how much trouble we get into while keeping up with them!

My Pastor quotes from an unknown author often and I appreciate the reminder every time:
Sin will take you farther than you ever want to stray;
Sin will leave you so lost; you’ll never find your way;
Sin will keep you longer than you ever thought you’d stay;
Sin will cost you more than you ever thought you’d pay!

So as we celebrate freedom, I thank God for the discipline I received from my parents, teachers, coaches, and others along the way. I am so thankful for the specific teaching I have and still receive daily from so many Godly men and women He has placed around me today. My wife keeps a good eye on me as well, praise the Lord!

I thank Him for the freedom to sayNO”, in a day and age where it is so easy to say, “YES”. Know my heart, try my thoughts, and lead me Lord, along Your path for my life!



[1] Jeffrey Miller, Hazards of Being a Man, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

07 02 07 Free to Choose

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”
(Romans 6:1)

After discussing the issue of grace in the previous chapter of Romans, no doubt the question arose to Paul, “So if there is so much grace when sin occurs, why not sin more to receive more grace?” Paul’s emphatic answer: God forbid (me genoito, in Greek). He expresses his feelings in such a way that the thought of continuing in sin, after receiving the grace of God, is simply too repugnant to entertain. It’s just unthinkable![1]

As we think of the many freedoms we do have in the United States and many countries, we as Christians do not have the right to do as we please. We are not entitled to abuse rights and privileges, treat others arrogantly, or live as we deserve things to go our way! We must always remember where we came from: SIN! We are free only because of the grace of God: that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live among men, die a brutal death, only to rise from the dead and overcome the penalty of sin, so we may live eternally with Him one day.

We have done NOTHING to gain our freedom from sin or to deserve any blessing from God. We live and breathe because of His grace. Salvation, our forgiveness for our sin, is a gift from God. To truly to receive that gift, we need to have a repentant heart. We are not just simply to believe in Jesus, even Satan believes He’s real and He is God! We are to believe and live a repentant lifestyle, making every effort to allow the Spirit of God to change us from the inside! It is a work of God, not a work of man! We are free to choose that gift!

We may be free to live where we wish. We may be free to eat the foods we like. We may be free to work or not work. But as believers, we are NOT free to keep on sinning. Though we may stumble and fall at times, our heart must be intent on following the entire word of God. Repentance is the key! We are free from sin’s punishment, not free to sin’s pleasures. Beware; there are still consequences to sin! My prayer is like David’s long ago:

“I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.”
(Psalm 32:5-6)

Time is getting short. When will the next bomb go off? When will the next accident occur? When will the next illness strike? When will the last one be saved and Christ return? It’s too late to live the way we choose. We must choose Christ today, or it may be too late! We are free to choose………or not!
[1] King James Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN, 1988

Just so You Know

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear  a Son, and shall call His name  Immanuel. (Is...