Monday, March 31, 2008

03 31 08 Saddle Up Guys!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Men love action! We love westerns, football, boxing, baseball, basketball and police dramas. We compete! We compete in business, at play, with our neighbors, and for the girl. We are challenged by the heavy weight of our roles as husbands, fathers, leaders, and guardians. However, we struggle with lust, anger, depression, and defeat.

Our real battles often center on self-doubt, fear of failure, loss of integrity, and erosion of character. All the while, under our nice guy images, a lion sleeps. Behind our smiling faces, a tiger paces. Beneath designer suits are wings of an eagle that begs to soar. We have an irresistible drive to take charge, stand firm, fight the good fight, protect and defend, and win the battle. God has created us to be warriors in His battle and He draws us to the action.

Unfortunately, our sinful nature all too often redirects us either into retreat or to misuse our weapons in abusive or selfish ways.
As a result, we’re on the sidelines. We have allowed ourselves to be kicked to the curb, benched, and believing that our maleness is offensive, oppressive, domineering, and abusive in its essence. We believe that our first duty in our walk of holiness is to be polite and understanding. We believe that the virtues of meekness and humility must be manifested in our silence or absence. We have fallen off the horse men.

This is not the way has wired a man. We are to lead, guide, provide, protect, and nurture with Godly wisdom and controlled power (real meekness). We are to stand men; stand for God, His Word, and for His will. We are to guide and lead our families by His Word. We are to provide by His leading and according His will. We are to protect through our prayers and holy lifestyle. We are to nurture our wife and children by the teaching and authority found in His Word. Men, we should reflect God to those around us. As a man made in His image, we are to live in that image. It’s time to SADDLE UP GUYS!

Real men are real Godly. Real men are really holy. Real men are practical. We love our wife emotionally and physically. We meet her every need. We teach our children; read to them, play with them, and change their diapers! We can clean the kitchen as well as we clean the car. We can mow down the enemy's plans just as we mow the grass. It is our duty and God expects it of us! We lead by example. SADDLE UP GUYS!

Real men don’t back down to the enemy, but understanding the power within us, we kneel down to the King. We wield the power of the Spirit within us and the authority of Scripture hidden in our hearts. We must stop making excuses. We must realize the potential in each of us. It’s not what our daddy did or didn’t do. It’s not what mamma said about us. We can’t blame anyone else. If we want our FATHER’S approval, we have to go to DADDY personally. He’s waiting with open arms. He ready to equip with every good gift we need. He has power to give to us. He has strength to sustain us. He has wisdom to lead us. He has forgiveness to rid us of guilt, lies, and past failure. It’s time to SADDLE UP GUYS and be real cowboys…real men…holy men of the holy God. We are His ambassadors, deputized by the blood of our Savior.

Friday, March 28, 2008

We Do Not Know How!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.”
(Romans 8:26-27)

As His children, we don’t always know how to speak with God. There are times when we are frustrated. We may be angry. We may think He’s too busy for us. We may be so deep in sin that we’re ashamed to call His name! Many times, when it comes to how to pray and what to pray for, WE DO NOT KNOW HOW! However, the Holy Spirit knows us intimately an knows just how to groan for us to the Father! This gives me security.

He knows my tears. He knows when I lack trust. He knows when I lack ability and talents. He knows when people have let me down. He knows when I’ve blown it with my wife and children. He knows the times when all I can do is whisper “Jesus” within my heart.

When WE DO NOT KNOW HOW He knows! That’s comforting…That brings confidence…That let’s me know DADDY loves me. How many of us need to hear that!

God knows before we even begin to fear. He knows way before we plan things out. He knows the outcome as well: He simply wants what is best for us. When WE DO NOT KNOW HOW, are we willing to fall upon the Rock and allow Him to move for us? When WE DO NOT KNOW HOW, are we willing to surrender to His will? We are called for His purposes, not our own. We’ll find peace when we know we are a in His will and an active part of His eternal plan.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

03 27 08 Opportunities to Rejoice

“So do not throw away your confidence, because it has great reward.
For you need endurance in order to do God’s will and so receive what is promised.
For just a little longer and he who is coming will arrive and not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back,
I take no pleasure in him.
But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish,
but are among those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
(Hebrews 10:35-39 NET)

The author of Hebrews had been writing concerning the triviality of which the believers were treating the sacrifice of Christ, to the point of insulting the Spirit of God. God is still the ultimate Judge we need to fear Him I how we act and how we handle His instruction (verses 26-31).

Recalling Paul (Romans 3:17) and the prophet Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:4) the writer reemphasizes that the righteous ones, the redeemed will live by faith. That faith needs to be an active faith revealing the grace of God in the repentant’s lifestyle. There needs to be evidence of change. There needs to evidence of the Spirit’s work in the life of the believer. Continuing in sin not only insults the Spirit of the living God, but it opens one up to God’s judgment. That is a fearful thing indeed! (verse 31).

To fall back into the same lifestyle as before knowing Christ shows a lack of confidence in His saving and staying power. As believers, we need to be like the author and find no pleasure in those who shrink back into the temptations of the world. The NKJV Study Bible explains that those who live by faith invest their physical life for eternal benefits. This is a description of what faith does…it allows us to live through circumstances here on earth to the glory of God and by His Spirit within us.

The following chapter 11) goes on to describe many who absolutely lived by faith. We have no excuse. We have the history of those who have gone before us. Most importantly, we have His power! To ignore it is to be ashamed of Him. To rely upon other means of strength is putting the world’s means of handling things above God’s. Do we want God’s judgment…or His grace, mercy, wisdom, and power?

We can’t keep running from trials and tests. We need to confront them. James would tell us to draw near to God…cleanse our hands…purify our hearts…and not to be double-minded (chapter 4). He instructs us to be joyful (opportunities to rejoice) as we face various trials as they are to be considered tools for growth to refine and purify our faith…bringing patience and endurance!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

03 26 08 Ability and the Willingness to Give

“You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all.
You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your majestic name!”
(1 Chronicles 29:12-13 NET)

David had received word from the Lord that his son Solomon would be the one to build the Temple (1Chronicles 28:6). His encouragement to Solomon was similar to the charge Moses gave to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:7-8 / Joshua 1:6-9). David has told the people that God had chosen Solomon, despite his age and inexperience. The work was not to be taken lightly. David pledged his personal resources as an example for others to follow, but God Himself would have to be the Source.

David admitted that even all his wealth had come from God. No matter what we believe we have accomplished or accumulated over our lifetime, it is all as a result of the grace and providence of God. The ABILITY AND THE WILLINGNESS TO GIVE are both gifts from God as well. The offerings we make to the Lord and the gifts we give to others in His name are possible only by His generosity to us.

Job realized that all things come from the Lord and He has a right to take anything back as well. We bless Him anyway! David gave God credit for all he had as well and acknowledged that the Lord reigns over it all (verse 12). All power is in His hand! We have nothing without the hand of God providing, withdrawing, directing, and correcting. We are without hope without God’s intervention. He gives and He takes away.

Our ABILITY AND THE WILLINGNESS TO GIVE reflects the appreciation we have for our gracious God. We have two basic commandments in life: love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That love is reflected in how we honor the Source with the things we do with our resources. We live because He died; and lives again. We give because He gave…and keeps giving.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

03 25 08 THE TIME IS NOW!

Jesus had just finished doing the unthinkable: he held a conversation with a Samaritan woman. Here was Jesus, the Redeemer of the Jewish people, speaking with the outcast and despised people; and a woman at that! He met her at the community well and asked her for a drink! Out in the public eye, He not only engaged in a caring and passionate conversation with her, but He revealed His true identity to her, offering her His salvation and forgiveness.

“‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (the one called Christ);
‘whenever he comes, he will tell us everything.’ Jesus said to her,
‘I, the one speaking to you, am He’.”
(John 4:25-26 NET)

The disciples were “shocked” the Bible tells us. Then they became concerned with His health and strength, trying to get Him to eat something. All these physical concerns (where we travel, whom we’re speaking to, what people think about us, even the food we earth) are so small when considered before our relationship with the Lord and responsibility to Him. His ways are not our ways. His timing is not always our timing. Our reputation is definitely not of importance:

“My food is to do the will of the One who sent me and to complete His work.”
(John 4:34 NET)

God’s work is going on all around us. Planning is good and necessary. Without a plan we plan to fail. But just as necessary is the urgency of the here and now! We can’t pass up a chance to share Christ today because of tomorrow’s plans; we don’t want to miss a chance to quench the spiritual thirst of a parched soul because we need to eat; we can’t worry about our reputation and shame the Gospel and the name of Christ either! This is not a time for tradition, tolerance, political correctness, or even exclusive club memberships. THE TIME IS NOW!

“I tell you, look up and see that the fields are already white for harvest!”
(John 4:35 NET)

As a result of the bold moves of Jesus, many in the Samaritan village believed on Him and were saved and followed Him. They invited Him to stay and He did. He no doubt saw a need and met it. Maybe He even changed plans! And because of the flexibility of Jesus to understand the Father’s will and adapt to it, many more believed!

“He stayed there two days, and because of his word many more believed…”
(John 4:40-41 NET)

The Samaritans (who believed) would have been passed over if all went according to tradition or political correctness! How will others hear without being told? Sometimes…many times, we need to throw away the book and follow The Book! THE TIME IS NOW!

Monday, March 24, 2008

03 24 08 Holy Week V(It’s Monday)

“If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself,
take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
For what does it benefit a person if he gains the
whole world but loses or forfeits himself?
For whoever is ashamed of me and my words,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person
when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father
and of the holy angels.”
(Luke 9:23-26 NET)

So Resurrection Day comes and goes. We are all excited, humbled maybe, even rededicated to do more, be more, pray more. So IT’S MONDAY. He is risen! He lives… but does He live within us?

It’s one thing to have the knowledge of Jesus the Christ…the Messiah. We need faith…active faith. Faith, not in a fact, but in a person! While it is proven fact that Jesus lived, died, was buried, and physically rose from that grave, my faith is still in the person of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh!

But now IT’S MONDAY. How does my faith become living and active? Jesus laid it out very simply in the passage from Dr. Luke above. I am not important anymore. It’s all about His will for me and the needs of others around me. It’s about God, others, then me. I live to honor God. I live to serve others. It’s my cross…my burden…my commitment to my Savior. My needs will be taken care of as I care for others. It’s promised in His word here from the apostle Paul:

“...For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need…And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:18-19 NET)

Jesus’ brother James and Paul would agree that once we place our faith in the Christ, we begin to reflect that faith in what we do, how we live, and the things we need. My experience tells me that my needs change as I serve others. I don’t need as much as I thought I needed, because I see the desperate needs of others. I am indeed RICH! If I decide to continue to live for myself and keep my faith tucked away in my back pocket, as if I was ashamed or embarrassed of Jesus, than what right do I have to claim a space in heaven (through His blood sacrifice on His cross).

So IT’S MONDAY. Jesus is alive. Is He alive in you and in me?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Where Is Jesus Today?

“So she (Mary Magdalene) went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and told them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’” (John 20:2 NET)

Where is Jesus today? It had to be shocking as Jesus’ friends and disciples came to the tomb on the first day of the week and found it empty!

Mary Magdalene came early and thought the body had been taken.

The apostles went as well, finding the burial clothes neatly folded upon the bench where His body had lain. They did not quite understand that Jesus was to rise from the dead!

They went back home: perhaps confused, dejected, and maybe even defeated. Mary remained behind weeping. She gazed into the tomb and found two angels who asked of her:

“‘Woman, why are you weeping?’”
(John 20:13 NET)

Mary then saw a man outside of the tomb. He asked her whom she was seeking. She wanted to check on Jesus’ body. She did not realize she was in the Savior's presence! She did not recognize the Risen Lord. (John 20:14)

My point today is not do you believe in the Risen Savior. More than 500 people saw Him with their own eyes (1 Corinthian 15:1-8). It is a fact that He rose from the tomb alive in body and spirit.

What I am asking is “WHERE IS MY JESUS . . .YOUR JESUS TODAY?” Is He still in the manger . . . a sweet innocnet baby? Is He still on the cross . . . a convicted criminal on public display? Or is Jeus still in the grave . . . defeated and powerless?

The disciples must have had similar feelings until the day of Pentecost. But we have had our Pentecost. We have the Spirit alive and powerful within our hearts (Acts 1:8).

Do we live defeated lives? John (the one He loved so dearly) wrote:
“…believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
(John 20:31)

We have power to overcome strongholds. We have power to knock down barriers of discrimination and bias. We have power to break the cycle of habitual sin. We have victory in the battle and even the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s! This is the year we allow Jesus out of the manger, off of the cross and outside of the tomb! WHERE IS JESUS TODAY?

He is alive and living within every believer. He’s alive…He’s alive…He’s alive! He moves, directs, and lives through us.

Do others see Him in us?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Another" Holy Week in ONE Life

Holy Week
No Pain, No Gain

“‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.’ Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.
He said to Peter, ‘So, couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed,
‘My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it,
your will must be done.’ ”
(Matthew 26:38-42 NET)

Recalling the movie, The Passion (Mel Gibson) and how Jesus was in agony in the garden prior to His arrest, I reflect upon the image of Satan right there, still plotting to thwart God’s plan to redeem man’s soul . . .my soul . . . your soul!

He tried to convince Jesus that we were not worth His efforts and that no one man could possibly save all of man. Oh but my Jesus, He slammed His foot upon the serpent, bringing to mind the verse in Genesis 3:15 (NIV):

“…he will crush your head…”

Satan was about to receive a crushing blow; the victory over death through the shed blood of Christ upon the cross. The emotional pain leading up to the cross must have wracked Jesus'soul, yet in no way would it compare to the physical pain leading up to and including the crucifixion. It was all for you and for me.

Thank you Jesus!

There is a familiar saying in the gym: “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”. Without the pain of the cross there is no gain of salvation. There had to be the pain to atone for the sin. There had to bloodshed!

“Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood,
and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
(Hebrews 9:22 NET)

His PAIN (beatings, scourging, spitting, curses, and the crucifixion) was our GAIN. His sacrifice was our freedom. We owe everything we are to Christ. No one could ever do what He did.

All of our work is simple rubbish before a holy God. How deep and wide is the love of God for us for Him to allow Jesus to doo all he did!

He did it for Peter, who promised to follow Jesus through anything, yet denied Him three times in one night.

He did it for the Jewish people and all who cried out “crucify Him!”

He did it for the thief hanging next to Him on the cross.

He did it for me. He did it for you! Why does He love us so?
Jesus cried out while on the cross,

“‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is,
‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
(Matthew 27:46 NET)

Then He sighed,

"‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
(John 19:30 NKJV)

The work of Christ was complete. He had received all the sin of every person to live upon this earth. He felt the painful separation from His Father. The Old Testament sacrificial laws were now obsolete. His obedience to God the Father’s will was complete and perfect.

The sacrifice had been made. The temple curtain was torn in two making the way clear to the Father. No more atonement was needed. No more rituals. The way of redemption had been paved!

Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, out of love for man and obedience to the Father, took on flesh and became sin for us. No greater love would ever be established than for Jesus Christ to lay down His life for each of us.

Never doubt His love! At the foot of the cross, as we look up and gaze upon our Savior, His outstretched arms show the width and depth of His love.

I wonder what our pain . . . our sacrifice . . . our commitment . . .our obedience can lead to? One life . . . our life . . .lived within another Holy Week?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy Week II
(The Plot Thickens)

“But stay alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that must happen and to stand before the Son of Man. So every day Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, but at night he went and stayed on the Mount of Olives. And all the people came to him early in the morning to listen to him in the temple courts. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. The chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find some way to execute Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. He went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard how he might betray Jesus, handing him over to them. They were delighted and arranged to give him money. So Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus when no crowd was present.”
(Luke 21:36-22:6 NET)

All the while Jesus is preparing for His last days on earth; the plot thickens in Jerusalem as Satan is preparing his part as well. As Jesus sits with His friends, about to share His last Passover meal on this earth, the devil is busy seeking players for his scheme. He seeks out Judas and the religious rulers to use for his trickery. His plan is to have Jesus arrested in the dark while no one can witness it; working in darkness and planning to ruin God’s plans. Has the enemy ever changed? Working on the troubled Judas and power hungry Jewish leaders, Satan identifies those who the public would never suspect: a friend and church leaders! We can never be too comfortable! He is still lying, deceiving, and working under the cover of darkness today.

Is Jesus worried? Is He unsuspecting? Does He run and hide? Does He give instruction to stop witnessing or be tolerant? No! He gives us a wonderful example of how to persevere through anticipated and actual threats.

“Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself. Then he came to Simon Peter. Peter said to him,
‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’”
(John 13:3-6)

It’s as if Jesus was saying, “I know things look bleak right now, but it’s time to gird ourselves and get busy serving one another and others.” As is the case with Jesus, He set the example. Of course, Peter thought this was embarrassing for the Savior to do this. Jesus reminded Him and us today (John 13:8-11), that we all need to be washed completely by the Savior, by His blood, to be cleansed from head to toe, inside and out, for today and for all eternity!

None of us are above serving another. Our motive is to please God, do His will, and not to draw attention to our work. Even the disciples struggled with popularity and position, but as Christ showed through submission to the Father’s will; even going to the cross, they saw and understood the role of a servant and the value and power of sacrificial love. It starts with a personal commitment to Christ.

So be encouraged! Things will get tough as we commit to follow His ways. THE PLOT THICKENS the more we commit to Christ’s plan for us. As Satan bears down and pressures us, perhaps causing doubt to sneak in, hold fast! If you don’t believe Jesus is capable or willing to lead your life, ask God where that uncertainty comes from, and ask Him to help you believe.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
(Mark 9:24 NKJV).

We must stay focused on the finish line. We must keep our focus on Christ and others. We must keep one another encouraged. It’s not over until we hear “It is finished…well done…welcome home good and faithful servant!” All we need to do is look around and find God at work. There is always work to be done and people to serve. Let’s gird up our belts, get down on our knees and at the people’s level of need and serve! We must stay alert!!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

What is a Holy Week?

A Holy Week

“…but, like the Holy One who called you,
become holy yourselves in all of your conduct…”
(1 Peter 1:15 NET)

Peter reminds Christians world-wide that we are to be holy in our dealings with people, just as Jesus was holy, just as God Himself instructed the Jews in the book of Deuteronomy on several occasions ( Deuteronomy 11:44-45; 19:2; and 20:7). As we ponder and meditate upon the activities of the upcoming Holy Week, we find our Savior going through, a myriad of emotions and activities.

Webster, in defining holy, speaks of the association with a divine power, living according to spiritual system, and set apart for a religious purpose.

I think we can pick through that definition and find what the Christian way of life ought to be like. We are to live by God’s standards (lived out by Jesus Himself) and set apart to represent God (as His ambassadors) for the purpose of making disciples of all nations.

So how many of us can say we live this out day by day? Thank God for His grace!

As Jesus entered Jerusalem upon the donkey (Matthew 21:14), as His HOLY WEEK began, the people shouted “Hosanna” (Hoshana: please save, save now!)

Thus was first used to call upon the Lord for help (Psalm 118:25) and had become a shout of welcome. It reflected the Jewish hope for deliverance from the oppressive Roman rule.

Jesus came as to deliver spiritually, not militarily however. As He was being praised and saluted, Jesus knew in His heart that in just a few days these same people would be shouting: “Crucify Him…Crucify Him!” How His heart must have been breaking: His heart for the people, their blindness and misguided thoughts, the pain He would soon endure, all in the midst of a jubilant entry celebration!

As he looked out over the city, Jesus wept:How many times have we wept over the things in our loves . . . our families . . . our cities . . .our world?

“Now when Jesus approached and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you had only known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and surround you and close in on you from every side. They will demolish you – you and your children within your walls –
and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’”
(Luke 19:41-44 NET)

This was simply the beginning of Jesus’ HOLY WEEK! As we ponder our upcoming HOLY WEEK, let’s not forget it’s not easy week. Holy does not mean happy, peaceful, or comfortable.

It is living a life and making decisions that are sacrificial, unselfish, and many times unpopular! It is living a life that God has planned out for us, not pursuing our own self-interests. It is a life of expected ups and downs, expected ridicule and misunderstanding, and misguided motives.

However, blessings will come from a life that is disciplined according to God’s will! So beginning today, let’s make this a holy day. Let’s plan to make this week a HOLY WEEK. Allow the Holy Spirit to encourage us and motivate to extend that into living a holy life; a living sacrifice unto the Lord for His service.

Why...because God said to “be holy”, that’s why! That’s good enough for me!

Friday, March 14, 2008

03 14 08 A Ministry Tool

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
(Psalm 20:7 NIV)

The more I think abut it, the less I believe I would want a lot of things. In a peculiar way, it seems a little more comfortable to be in need rather than to have excess. The more comfortable I am, the less I trust God to provide. Yet when I am in need, I definitely know who supplies! It’s nothing I a doing, that’s for sure.

When we have unlimited resources, or at least an ample supply, it’s very easy to trust the bank account, the overtime pay, the bonus check or investment returns. We begin to think that as long as I work hard enough or put enough effort into my plans, all will be well. In this day and age, nothing is for certain however. The stock can plummet; the bank may liquidate; the company may go bankrupt. So whose money is it really?

I have been blessed to be in full-time ministry now for five years (part-time beginning in 1999) and I must say it is a privilege to be paid from heaven…literally. If God doesn’t supply by way of caring and concerned supporters or open up grant opportunities from folks I have never met, I have no income. No matter the energy I may put into fundraising, planning, or even actual program work, it our wages depend solely upon His providential care. I have no choice but to trust Him at His word to care for us.

While I once looked forward to payday, I now look forward to a day to receive pay as the Lord provides. Many months the money is simply not available, yet by His grace, our needs are met and then some. We have yet to be fully funded and have yet to match even half of the salaries we earned in the secular work force. We are so much better off however, because we no know without a doubt where our SOURCE lies!

I don’t desire riches, just enough to care for my family’s needs and ministry expenses. I do not want money to be a burden, simply A MINISTRY TOOL! Heaven is the biggest payday I’m looking forward to nowadays. I want to be found working when that day comes!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

“However, fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.
Just look at the great things he has done for you!”
(1Samuel 12:24 NET)

As the prophet Samuel interceded for the people, he reminded them of God’s grace. Even though we sin, it’s no reason to run from God, but to run to Him! With contrite heart and a broken spirit, we scramble to DADDY and plead for His mercy. He is waiting with outstretched arms and a loving embrace to heal us and comfort our sick heart.

Samuel reminds the people of all God has done: all of His promises fulfilled. It’s the same with us. We get SO INVOLVED IN ME, that we lose track of Him. We get so sidetracked it’s difficult to get back on the right path at times. It’s easier to keep straying. But we must make the difficult and often embarrassing turn to get back in line with DADDY’s plan for us. Repentance is a 180 degree turn away from sin and back facing God!

There is no better remedy for sin than a re-commitment to serve God fully, with our entire heart, mind, and soul. There can be no middle ground. We either go forward or backward. We know what the enemy offers us with sin: deceit, lies, pain, and separation from God. We also know the grace offered by our Father through the blood of Christ: forgiveness, healing, cleansing, renewal, and fellowship.

So let’s have a reverent fear for the Lord. Let’s serve Him faithfully and diligently. Let’s give no idle time to the devil. Remember what God has done for us and the promises yet to come! He is our hope! He is our salvation!! He is our all in all!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

03 12 08 Hands of a Holy Man

“So I want the men to pray in every place,
lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute.”
(1 Timothy 2:8 NET)

Paul is specifically speaking to men in this instance (as we can see he talks to the women in verse 9). It is Paul’s desire (and God’s) for men to be the spiritual leaders in the home, in the cities, and in the churches. Male leadership is needed and required. But it must be Godly male leadership! It begins with the man’s prayer life.

It used to be said that the hands of a hard working man were calloused and scarred, showing signs of work and dedication. Well, not every man works construction, farming, or hands-on in this day and age. But the HANDS OF A HOLY MAN are spiritually clean, caring, and willing to reach down and grab hold of someone in need. They are willing to carefully change an infant’s diaper, hold tight to a toddler’s hand, and gently nurture a teenager’s heart. The HANDS OF A HOLY MAN are willing to go into the fire of the oven and the bar-b-q grill, as well as stand up to the tests of serving, protecting and providing for his wife and his children.

Most of all, THE HANDS OF A HOLY MAN are peaceful, gentle, merciful, and prayerful. They lift up struggles to the Lord, where He knows his help comes. They lift up praises to the Lord for His gracious provisions. They lift up dreams and desires to the Lord, so He can make a way for what is really needed. Most importantly, THE HANDS OF A HOLY MAN extend from bent and calloused knees, a humbled heart, and a bowed head, knowing that anything worthwhile comes from God’s hands!

So men, we are thus challenged: Do we possess holy hands? Are our hands too full of stuff to lift towards heaven? Are we tired of letting our spouse, even our children, out-pray us, the God-appointed leader of the home? Are we willing to drop everything and ask God to fill us with His heart, His desire, His Spirit, so we can truly possess the HANDS OF A HOLY MAN? It’s a matter of bowing down and lifting up our hands to the Holy One who alone can sanctify our hands and hearts!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

03 11 08 Life or Death

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death,
that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
(Romans 6:4 NKJV)

Once dedicated to follow the Lord and accepting of the fact that we are doomed to hell without His saving grace, we receive new LIFE in Him. It is a complete rebirth; a true sense of being born-again. It is a LIFE real and genuine, a LIFE active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed by the One who designed us to be in fellowship with Him. But we must sincerely commit to follow Him, which requires DEATH; DEATH to the old desires and practices. We must die to our sin just as Christ died for our sins.

“In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth,
no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
(John 3:3 NIV)

Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, the teacher of Jewish law and a Pharisee. It took him a while to understand how an old man could be born again, but I believe He finally got it. But do we get it? No one who has truly accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior can continue in the same lifestyle as before they met Him. To really be born-again, there must be repentance (turning away, DEATH) from sin and a renewal of LIFE by the Holy Spirit.

Just as a dead man can’t breathe, walk, or talk, a dead man can’t sin either! If we are dying to sin day by day, than we are therefore sinning less and less. Not sin-less, but sinning less and less by the power of the Spirit within the born again believer. The sanctification of the believer by the Holy Spirit is a process and the evidence will be obvious.

True LIFE requires DEATH; DEATH to the old desires and the old choices we made. However, the sacrifices we make here in this LIFE to follow our Savior will bring eternal joy with Him. It’s a choice we all will make for ourselves: heaven or hell; LIFE OR DEATH. Choose today while there is still time!

Monday, March 10, 2008

You Think We Have Problems?

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Worried about a paycheck that might not equal the bills? Should I use our retirement money retirement to fund our family now? How will we pay for college? How will I meet next month’s mortgage? How can the vehicle possibly be repaired? Will they turn the gas off? Will I have enough gas to get to church? Can I purchase a week’s worth of groceries with $100.00? These are real problems and worries for us all today. Yet they are nothing compared to what others may be facing, simply because they confess Christ to be their Lord and Savior!

We all know about Daniel and his friends and the heat they faced. We know Moses stood in fear of Pharaoh and his armies, if not for the Spirit of God. We know it was David’s strong belief in the God of Israel that gave him courage to stand up to the giant as a teenager. We know Abraham packed up his estate in Ur to move to some little known farmland across the miles, by faith. Even more challenging, we know of the faith of John the Baptist, Stephen, and the Apostles and what it cost them. We need to exhort one another today to live by faith!


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:1&6)

Today, there are men, women, and children being murdered, jailed, and put out of family homes for their faith in Christ. To the true Muslim, we Christians are infidels, or enemies of God. Guess what the goal is for the Muslims regarding God’s enemies? That’s right, wipe them out…kill them! They may be sincerely wrong, but to the converted Christian in a Muslim family or neighborhood, they are sincerely serious and dangerous! A Christian in China is an enemy of the state and faces torture and jail if arrested. Suddenly, my problems don’t seem so large, definitely not life-threatening! Our real challenges are not from flesh and blood, but in spiritual realms!

In closing, let us consider Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

The prisoner must believe it. The one facing death must embrace it. The abandoned child has to feel it. Why can’t we? Listen to His words once again with faith:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you”
(Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5).

So can we now boldly and confidently say to one another, no matter our measly problems and challenges:

“The Lord is my helper: I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
(Psalm 118:6, Hebrews 13:6)

Friday, March 7, 2008

03 07 08 Imagine

"I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
(Psalm 42:5 NLT)

Job had heard of God, but now he is experiencing Him first hand. He is seeing the love, majesty, mercy, and power of God. Though Job was a man of intense integrity before his encounters with God, now he was even more honorable as a result. God indeed has all things planned for our good. IMAGINE seeing God as Job did?

This kind of relationship is forged through tough times. It develops as a dependence upon God for our very existence. The more we think we have on our own strength; cars, homes, jobs, relationships, the less we depend upon God. IMAGINE depending upon the Lord for the essential things in life…food, money, clothing, mortgage, health. The less we have the more we need God, it seems. Why does it have to be that way? The fact is that God supplies it all.

IMAGINE living this way. IMAGINE the intimate relationship between a child and Father. This is how God imagined it when He created us. Praise God for the good times. Praise God for the struggles. Praise God for the suffering. Praise God for the relationship with Him… be able to really experience Him. Daniel had it. Joseph had it. Job had it. IMAGINE if you and I knew God so well!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

03 06 08 Walls Come Tumbling Down

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people
had marched around them for seven days.”
(Hebrews 11:30 NIV)

Any barriers holding you back from accomplishing all God has in store for you; Walls that need to tumble down; blockades of the enemy that need to kicked in or simply bull-rushed? By faith, we all can be free to accomplish God’s will! But we need a clear path to the One who knows our plans and wants to see them through for our success. This is indeed a time when WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN!

We can’t remove the traps of Satan by huffing and puffing. We certainly can’t be free from the enclosures of sin by retreating. No, we need to gather the army: the prayer warriors, the foot soldiers, and the brigade of believers who are willing to grab hold of the battering ram and by faith, knock down those spiritual barriers that keep us from an intimate and effective relationship with the Savior.

In obedience to the word of the prophet, the walls of Jericho came down after the people acted. After Moses’ acts of obedience, the Israelites were freed from the shackles of oppression. It was after the submission of Christ to the Father’s will when we were freed from our sin. It is generally after we act on faith; after we respond in obedience; after we take the first steps by faith; when the Lord steps in and knocks down the walls we have been banging our heads against to no avail.

WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN after we decide to follow His will. It takes a bit of effort on our part as well! God will free a path for us. Even though that path still contains some potholes and pitfalls, as we stay focused upon His will, we succeed by faith. The former barriers that blocked our vision are removed and we can see the finish line. So by faith we push on, despite the circumstances.

We must allow God to remove the mountains as we navigate the small molehills. But through it all, we do it by faith, not by our power! God has an entire army at our disposal and He is the Supreme General whose battle plan is 100% guaranteed. Talk about an army of ONE! Take heart fellow soldier: even today in the midst of our most troubling challenges, WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN !!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 NET)

Jesus is not merely One who has shown men the way; He is the way. It is His death, His resurrection, and His ascension that has made a way for men to spend eternity with God in heaven. He is not merely a way; He is the way. He is the one and only way that God has provided for men to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life. Lest anyone miss this point, Jesus says it again, in the plainest of words: “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” To know Jesus is to know the way to the Father, for He is the way. (Bob Deffenbaugh, Having a Friend in High Places,

The disciples are confused. They are distressed. After three years with the Messiah, they are now filled with confusion. Jesus tells that He’ll be leaving them. He has to in order to send the Comforter (John 14:16-17). But the disciples had really begun to get to know Jesus. Why the change? Why does He have to leave? What next?

This is not uncommon to the believer today. How many of us have known the Savior for years, yet at times we get to a place when we feel He has left; we feel confused and alone, needing more? We all know it is we who stray and it is we who need a deeper understanding of who Jesus really is. As our Lord told the Philip and the disciples then:

“Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father!”
(John 14:9 NET)

At times we get comfortable with Christ. We may lose touch. He is always with us though. If we know Him, we know God. If we know God, we have His Spirit within us. He is the only way for us to be content. HAVE WE LOST TOUCH?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

03 04 08 I Am Yours

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’"
(Exodus 3:11)

Moses felt totally unqualified for the job God had lined up for him to do. He was unable to see or accept the reality that God believed he was the one for the job. Perhaps Moses’ past blinded the future God had intended (Every Man’s Bible, Tyndale House, 2004).

Charles Swindoll put it this way: “Huge difference. In God's calling, He has a plan; but He never expects you to carry out that plan. He's going to pull it off. He simply wants you to be the instrument of action. After all, it is His reputation that's at stake, not yours. All He asks is that you give yourself to Him as a tool He can pick up and use. That's all.”

Personally, I can say I still do not feel qualified to do any of God’s work. I am beginning to realize that I never will either. It’s not that God has not forgiven me or that I don’t believe He has renewed my heart and cleansed me from the penalty of sins; it’s a simple fact that I have come to realize it’s not me, but Him!

We (men especially) tend to judge ourselves by our accomplishments. When we come to realize that we are absolutely nothing before a holy and righteous God, we indeed say, “Woe is me, a man of unclean lips, a defiled heart, and a filthy mind.” It is then hard to come to the realization that God can and wants to use me! “WHY?” I do nothing in and through myself; it’s simply saying “I AM YOURS.” God then works through me.

God qualifies me. He positions me. He promotes me. He teaches me. He forgives, reshapes, restores, and reminds me Who He is and Whose I am.

Abused, beaten, accused, ridiculed, broken, battered, and totally guilty; He sets me free. My old life died with Christ upon the cross. There is liberty; there is life; there is power in Jesus! Because He says, “I AM!” I am able to say, “I AM YOURS”.

Monday, March 3, 2008

03 03 08 Now What

Now one of the experts in the law came and heard them debating. When he saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is: ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31)

So many programs…so many ministries…so many needs and people who need us. So once a person believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior, NOW WHAT? What does a Christian do to please God? What program do we join? To whom do we give? How do we serve? Is there a magic formula for effective ministry? What is that God really wants from His children…His Church? It’s 2008…NOW WHAT?

The answer is the same as the words Jesus used some 2000 years ago when the experts asked Him: "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" LOVE! Love God…love on people! The first four of the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship with God. Six through ten deal with our relationship with others. Jesus summed them up with two. Jesus was not trying to confuse anyone! Now that we know Christ, we are to love. Everything we do should reflect our love and devotion for Christ and a compassion for people.

No act of kindness, gift to a charity, or kind word or deed done without genuine love is really worth it. Paul stated that without love, nothing is really worth it (1 Corinthians 13). God is love and His people need to do everything through the motivation of love and compassion, and with passion. Superficial and mechanical actions are simply not worth the effort!

“Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them.”
(Romans 12: 9 NLT)

So here we are; saved from eternal hell, secured by the Holy Spirit of God, sanctified to do good works to honor our Lord: NOW WHAT?

Since God so loved…we sow love; with every breath we take and every ounce of energy we have left!

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...