Wednesday, April 30, 2008

04 30 08 Beginning at Jerusalem

“He told them, ‘This is what is written. The Christ will suffer.
He will rise from the dead on the third day.
His followers will preach in his name.
They will tell others to turn away from their sins and be forgiven.
People from every nation will hear it, beginning at Jerusalem.
You have seen these things with your own eyes’.”
(Luke 24:46-48 NIrV)


Jesus intended for His words and His life to be proclaimed openly and freely, and with authority (kerusso). Every tribe, nation, and people group (ethnos) is intended to hear the Gospel, not whom we choose. Christ reached out to His people first, but did not stop there. We too must be willing to cross-cultures, cross fences, and cross the tracks!

From Nazareth to Jerusalem it was approximately 65-70 miles, a 4-5 day journey by foot. From Jerusalem to Samaria it was roughly 35 miles (direct line) or 2-3 days by foot. If we follow Jesus’ ministry, we see that He did not travel far from home. Oh sure, He travelled by fishing boat and by foot, so the travel was a little slower, but the message here is that He was concerned with those around Him BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM. We know He was rejected on occasion in His home town of Nazareth; even by His own brothers. But Jesus tried. Listen to Paul’s concern for His own people.

“I am so concerned about my people, who are members of my own race. I am ready to be cursed, if that would help them. I am even willing to be separated from Christ.”
(Romans 9:3)


Let me first say this. I love mission work and am committed for life. I thank God for those who have travelled to the ends of the earth, even giving their lives to reach people some never knew existed. At times I feel a little guilty working locally, when so many are making so many life-sacrifices around the world. Having said that, here is my point today: Why are we so excited to give to a people thousands of miles away? Why are we willing to raise large sums of money and travel to remote areas (at times rather comfortable areas) to teach Vacation Bible Schools and participate in street evangelism? What motivates us to join the work of those in China, Africa, Asia, and other regions of the world? If the motivation is to spread the Good News…to make God known and relevant to those who have not yet heard or who don’t quite understand, then why are we not BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM?

How can we walk over and around the homeless in our streets as we attend sporting events? How can we simply ignore the young teens in the hoodies and baggy jeans every day without at least saying; “Hey dude, how ‘ya doin’ today? You guys ok?" How can we possibly look down upon the pregnant teen without trying to understand her situation? The immigrants cutting the lawns and serving our food are loved by Jesus as much as we are. Do we care about those around us, in our JERUSALEM?

How many of our neighbors would we see in need of a Savior if we walked 10-15 miles a day seeking to spread the news of the Gospel, as Jesus did? How many would we see in need within just 35-40 miles of our home? How many school children in need of a jacket or a hat (let the children come to Me…)? How many single moms needing a word of encouragement (maybe a Samaritan woman or a Mary Magdalene)? How many struggling fathers need to know their DADDY is proud of them as does love them in their pursuits of the Father’s heart (does David ring a bell)? How many broken families need to hear, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you”?

Why are third world nations sending more missionaries here to the U.S. than we are sending to them? I believe it’s because the need is so great! Homelessness is on the rise. The Christian divorce rate may even be higher than the secular rate. School children are going without proper clothing and food. Parents are working two-three-even four jobs to keep up a lifestyle that is crumbling form the inside out. Too many children roam the streets from 3:00 pm until dark, even beyond. Why? Because we, the Church Body are allowing it to happen! We are not involved. We are not engaged. We are becoming desensitized to the problem!

There is a need for missions for sure… BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM…OUR JERUSALEM! Take a walk. Look around the schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods, malls. Can we all ask God for a burden for our JERUSALEM? Whether we live in New Orleans, New York, Baltimore, or Washington, DC; the ‘hood needs our help and it needs God’s presence. People from every nation need to hear it and see it, BEGINNING AT OUR JERUSALEM!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

04 29 08 Power Within to Go Without

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.
Then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem.
You will be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria.
And you will be my witnesses from one end of the earth to the other."
(Acts 1:8 NIrV)


Once forgiven, saved, and sealed by the Holy Spirit, we have work to do. We are not saved to go to heaven, but saved to be representatives of Christ. Jesus gave this command (not a suggestion) that we are to witness (martus, pronounced martoos) as we go….This word describes a legal witness, one who testifies, even to the extreme of martyrdom as in the biblical days. We do it with the physical and moral power (dunamis) coming from our new spiritual nature of the Risen Christ.

We are without excuse. If saved, we have received power. If saved, we should be witnessing (as an example if nothing else) to those around us wherever we go. If saved, we have the power within to go without! Jesus said we will be…well?

Monday, April 28, 2008

04 28 08 Hospitality and Encouragement

“They have told the church about your love.
You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”
(3 John 1:6 NET)



This writing from the elder, most believed to be the aging and last surviving apostle John, is an instruction to show hospitality and support to the traveling missionaries/preachers going throughout the churches, here in Asia Minor. There have been instances where apparent church leaders (in this case Diotrephes) have refused to allow the missionaries to preach and teach, even instructing others not to support them as well. Diotrephes seems to be a man of pride and refuses to be instructed by the aging apostle.

John writes to Gaius to be sure he has not fallen into the trap of this non-Christ-like attitude and instruction. It is indeed a good and Godly thing to show HOSPITALITY AND ENCOURAGEMENT to anyone in need of temporary housing and food, but especially to one (or a group) who is taking the Gospel message not just to unreached people, but even to believers who need to hear perhaps a more detailed and personal message.

Does this happen today? Is there a debate over who should care for the missionaries, both local and abroad? Is there a question as to why we should care? You bet there is! You may not experience it as you go to church every Sunday or participate in the weekly activities of your, local church. But it’s real!

I was so hurt and embarrassed one evening when I heard someone comment as to the why missionaries have to ask for financial support. I thought this was a given within the Church. While mission workers are willing to do whatever they need to do personally to support the work, all are not as talented as Paul (the tent-maker). To work part-time would not only forfeit the work they were called to do, but wouldn’t put a dent in the funds that are needed. Some have used every penny of personal funds and go without health and life insurance. Very few have any savings or emergency funds. It’s a life of total dependence upon God and His people; we His people.

Those committed to serving the Lord full time have the same daily commitments everyone has: monthly rent or mortgage, household needs such as food and drink, maintenance needs for the home and cars, clothing costs, etc. Because of the nature of the job, there are also travel costs and supply needs. Mission work is a family business and it should be the family of God’s business to support such work. If John, the one Jesus loved, felt so back in the first century, is it not so today?

I thank God for my home church every day! Not only do we support missionaries, but our Pastor challenges us to be missionaries: whether participating in short-term mission trips, working within our neighborhoods, or giving our lives to Christ as full-time servants in the mission field. Our church supports missionaries world-wide financially, with mission conferences, and through various other displays of HOSPITALITY AND ENCOURAGEMENT.

We’ll never realize how effective our prayers, words of encouragement, letters, or (if you’re able) financial contributions will be until we see the results in glory. Let’s all pray as to how we all can show more HOSPITALITY AND ENCOURAGEMENT to those called out to do His work outside of the church buildings and see how uniquely supportive we can be at that! Yes, it’s a new day and a new time, yet the same task is before as was with John and the church:

“You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”

Friday, April 25, 2008

04 25 08 From Day One…Until Forever

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
(Ephesians 4:30 NKJV)


It is an established fact, attested by both Scripture and experience, that at the time a person realizes his spiritual state, accepts Christ as Savior and Lord, and prays for the Lord to forgive his sin, the Holy Spirit enters the believing sinner to take up permanent residence. The initial work of the Spirit, after having brought about conviction to the heart, is to create a new nature within. His full title is the Holy Spirit, and His divine nature grieves when any wrong thought, word, or deed occupies the mind or body of the believer. He hates sin as mentioned by Paul: lying, anger, stealing, and evil speaking. The Holy Spirit is a Person with personal feelings. He may be grieved.

Since He has secured our eternal redemption, we will be most ungrateful if we cause Him to grieve. His Presence with us should make us desire to lay aside all that is unholy and not like Him. Sin pains the Holy Spirit. Grieving Him is synonymous with backsliding. Only when we give the Holy Spirit His rightful place can we expect a revival within us personally and within the Body of Christ. He makes us holy.
The assurance is added that believers “are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Paul had said:

“Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” (Eph. 1:13, 14 NET)

Here in chapter four, he tells us how long we are sealed (“unto the day of redemption”). The day of redemption is not the day Christ died to redeem each believer. Christ’s death was the payment for our redemption and His finished work at Calvary paid in full the penalty of our sins. But the believers’ redemption will not be fully experienced until Christ comes back for His own and redeems our bodies. We are

“waiting … for the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22, 23).

When our Lord returns He will recognize all of the redeemed, since God has impressed His Spirit upon us as the seal and mark of ownership, FROM DAY ONE…UNTIL FOREVER.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

04 24 08 They’ll Know We are Christians by Our…

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless…”
(2 Peter 3:14 NKJV)


Peter, realizing his life in near the end, is reaffirming Paul’s writings as true and also Paul’s role and authentication as an Apostle. He warns against false teaching. He challenges believers to study and know God’s Word, not simply to rely upon others to tell us what it says. As we see the days becoming worse and worse, it is imperative that we are one as a Body and one with Christ. We need to hold one another accountable to both know the Truth and live it out!
How are we responding? What are we teaching our families? How are we living out God’s Truths? Are we a living and breathing church within our community and the world? Ca those who know us say we are living Epistles of Jesus Christ?

Fill in the blanks: They’ll Know We are Christians by Our______________.

We are individually and corporately responsible to discern error and to respond to it biblically. As the last days approach, let us fix our hope on the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us seek to live holy lives, so that we practice and proclaim the excellencies of God before a godless world. May we be men and women of the Word, encouraged in our study of the Bible by faithful teachers and turning from those who are false. Let’s also be sure to support and encourage the teachers who are faithfully carrying out their tasks as under shepherds in God’s household. May we not be guilty of twisting the Scriptures in our own study, but, like David, turning to the Word of God to know God and to live lives which are pleasing in His sight.

In these last days, let’s be sure to be one with the One who is our Lord and Savior and with one another so the world will see Him through us!

They’ll Know We are Christians by Our______________.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

04 23 08 NOW WHAT?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem. You will be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria. And you will be my witnesses from one end of the earth to the other."
(Acts 1:8 NIrV)


Jesus had risen from the grave. He had been seen by more than 500 eyewitnesses and had eaten with His disciples on numerous occasions. So logically, they wanted to know the obvious: “NOW WHAT?” When is Jesus gong to restore the kingdom to Israel? They were tired of the struggles and like many others, couldn’t wait for Jesus to change it all; and sooner rather than later!

Oh, but Jesus surprised them by saying not to be worried about His return, but he indeed would send them power. Power not to overthrow any government or other oppressive rulers, but to power continue His mission to make God known to everyone…everywhere. Christ has empowered every believer to be faithful witnesses, even while facing life and death struggles. We are saved from sin. We are equipped with His Holt Spirit. NOW WHAT?

So as we continue to ask God for healing from affliction, relief from financial burdens, and provision for this need and that need, let us not forget to ask for proper use of the power already within us: to be His witnesses through it all to those we come in contact with on a day-to-day basis.

As we go through illness, we can be an example to another one who may be sick by the way we live through it. As we go through challenges financially, we can uplift others through a cheerful spirit, a giving heart, and a trusting faith. As we go without at times, our thankfulness for what we have can encourage others to appreciate their possessions. As we go, we are to be His witness wherever we go.

What can we really do about circumstances any way? We have prayed. We have cried. We have made every human effort as well. We have been assured we are in His will and doing all God has instructed us to do? NOW WHAT?

Hear these comforting and assuring words from the Risen Christ as He whispers in our ears:

“…you will be my witnesses from one end of the earth to the other."

AMEN!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

04 22 08 God or Man

Suppose I've put my trust in gold.
I've said to pure gold, 'You make me feel secure.’”
(Job 31:24 NIrV)


Job lived a righteous life. He cared for people and he loved his family. He may have been a bit prideful, yet he realized where things really came from. He would go on to say that to all he had was attributed to the One God of us all. Even in a day when people worshipped many gods, Job knew it was One who made all things and sustained all things, including the things he had!

While we don’t hear of many people worshipping several gods today (there are some), we in our own particular way hold many things above our God. We idolize athletes. We adore our children. We admire our homes. Some think so highly of their cars that they refuse to park them near other vehicles. We even worship the opposite sex, or worse yet our own bodies as we glue ourselves to the mirror each day!

All of these things, even our own healthy body, make us feel somewhat secure. But who are we secure in; GOD OR MAN? Athletes lose their abilities with age or injury. Our children grow up and may even disobey us at times; hurting our very heart! Our cars rust, get dented, even break down now and then. That beautiful woman will grow old and even our own bodies will begin to resemble the before pictures in the diet commercials after a while! Only God remains the same.

He’s just a good today as He was yesterday; just as reliable today as He was 2,000 years ago when He raised Jesus from the dead; He’ll be just as good tomorrow as well! God never changes. His stock doesn’t rise and fall according to the economy. We can trust Him. He is secure. GOD OR MAN…who makes you feel secure?

Monday, April 21, 2008

04 21 08 How Comfortable?

“Why should I be afraid when trouble comes?
Why should I fear when sinners are all around me?
They are the kind of people who want to take advantage of me.
They trust in their wealth.
They brag about how rich they are.”
(Psalm 49:5-6 NIrV)


I look around me and see so many comfortable people as I shop at the grocery store, check our mail the post office box, or fill up at the gas station. With so much turmoil in the finance markets, I wonder how comfortable we really are. How many weeks or days can we survive without a paycheck? How many months can we keep our homes and cars if the business can no longer make the payroll budget? How much food can we buy when we must choose between food, gas, or home utilities? How hard will it be if every week we have to trust in God to provide everything we need?

Should we be afraid? Should we fear? Absolutely not! There is no need to fear the rich or to fear not being rich! In fact, to know Abba, our Heavenly Father, is to be an heir to all the riches ever known!

Jesus looked around. He said to his disciples,
"How hard it is for rich people to enter God's kingdom!"
(Mark 10:23 NIrV)


Once one has riches, it becomes easier and more comfortable to trust in those riches. I can work a few more hours a week…put off a vacation…maybe even a second job…any excuse to get more or get better. “I” can do it if I just work a little harder…longer…just for a short while. Getting used to having things is dangerous ground. One can easily begin to trust in those things and how we obtained them, instead of trusting in the source of all things: GOD!

It is so much more beneficial to trust in the source of every good gift than to trust in our means of obtaining things. When we become satisfied with the things we have and the things we desire, we desire God and His riches less and less. How hard it is to convince a person who has everything that they need a Savior; that without Christ they have nothing!

Just look around our neighborhoods: luxurious homes, shiny sports cars and SUV’s, well-dressed men and women, well-manicured lawns, highly educated children. Nothing lacking…? It seems that way on the surface doesn’t it?

Nothing in this world can compare to the riches we’ll experience in glory, especially the richness of the fellowship with the Father. So if we find ourselves blessed to have the luxuries of life, bless God! If we don’t have many of the finer things, bless Him as well. For we know that after all is said and done, if we know Him, we’ll have all we’ll ever dream of just being with Him! Oh, HOW COMFORTABLE we will be there!

Friday, April 18, 2008

04 18 08 ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE?

“The Lord will roar like a lion from Jerusalem. His voice will sound like thunder from Zion. The earth and sky will tremble. But the Lord will keep the people of Israel safe. He will be a place of safety for them.” (Joel 3:16 NIrV)

(News headlines from April 18, 2008)
WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) Residents across the Midwest were awakened Friday by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that rattled skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop and homes in Cincinnati but appeared to cause no major injuries or damage.
The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 45 miles from Evansville, Ind. It was felt in such distant cities as Milwaukee, Des Moines, Iowa, and Atlanta, nearly 400 miles to the southeast. Experts say that with the much higher population in the Midwest, another major quake along the New Madrid fault zone could destroy buildings, bridges, roads and other infrastructure, disrupt communications and isolate areas.


Oh yes…the earth is rumbling! Question is, ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE?

The verse from the prophet Joel speaks to the Nation of Israel, yet we can draw from it today as born-again believers. When our life is over or when the Lord returns, whichever comes first, we trust in our Savior’s protection. At the day of our salvation, we were sealed by His Holy Spirit as His children forever. We can therefore live through trials and tribulations, character assaults, financial woes, and challenging relationships, because we have the peace of God (living in His will) and peace with God (knowing our position is secured). The writer of Hebrews says it this way:

“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens’."
(Hebrews 12:26 NIV)


The awesome power of God shakes mountains, but it cannot shake the kingdom in which true believers dwell. (Hebrews 12:28) The warning is concluded with the somber note that our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) When the Lord returns, it will do more than shake up a few dishes or cause a few bricks to crumble. He will gather those who belong to Him and the rest will be dealt eternal punishment…a consuming fire that is never quenched! It’s a choice we all will make prior to our physical death, prior to His coming. It’s a choice we must make today, because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, even within the next hour! But if you like to gamble…with God…with your life…

ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

04 17 08 Finished the Work

“I have brought you glory on earth. I have finished the work you gave me to do.”(John 17:4 NIrV)

Have you ever wished for a thirty or forty-hour day? Extra time would not relieve the tremendous pressure under which we live. A deadline here, appointment there, paper due this day, seminar next day….Our lives leave a trail of deadlines to meet, appointments to keep and unfortunately, unfinished tasks. Unanswered letters, unvisited friends, unwritten articles, and unread books haunt quiet moments if and when we do get them. Do we ever get a chance to say, “I have FINISHED THE WORK?” We desperately need relief.

But would more hours in a day solve the problem? Would another computer device save the day? We would soon be just as frustrated as we are now with our twenty-four hours, blackberry and wi-fi compatible laptop! A mother's work is never finished, and neither is that of any student, teacher, minister, or anyone else we know. The passage of time will not allow us to catch up.

Children grow in number and age to require more of our time. Then they have children! Greater experience and dedication in our profession and church brings more taxing assignments. We find ourselves working more and enjoying it less. Can we say we have ever FINISHED THE WORK as a parent, a son, a grandparent, a pastor, a teacher? Some roles are life-long.

Hard work does not hurt us. The Gospel records show that Jesus worked hard. We all know what it is to go full speed for long hours, totally involved in an important task. The resulting weariness is matched by a sense of achievement and joy, knowing we have accomplished God’s work! This is the key: God’s work, His plan, His will. The Lord’s life was never feverish; He had time for people. He could spend hours talking to one person, such as the Samaritan woman at the well. His life showed a wonderful balance, a sense of timing…the Father’s timing. On the night before He died, Jesus made an astonishing claim. He FINISHED THE WORK!

No secret…no magical method…no 30-day plan to a more organized and effective life.
Jesus prayerfully waited for His Father's instructions and for the strength to follow them. He discerned the Father's will day by day in a life of prayer. By this means He warded off the urgent and accomplished the important. God's instructions freed Him from the chains of the urgent. It gave Him a sense of direction and allowed Him to set a steady pace. His obedience and submission to DADDY’s will enabled Him to do every important task God assigned. Joy in struggles. Joy in hard and strenuous work. Joy carrying out the Father’s will, no matter how taxing. Joy in rest and relaxation as well. Joy in saying, I have FINISHED THE WORK. It comes through constant prayer (communication) and submission (obedience) to His will.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

04 16 08 As Unto the Lord

“And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.”
(Romans 12:6-8)


These gifts (charismata in Greek) we receive from the Lord are to be used to build up the Body of Christ, to encourage one another, and are to be pursued and developed. Much like the athlete who must continually exercise and study his opponents, we must also keep ourselves in peak spiritual condition and at the top of our game for God to use us well. Use it or lose it is an old saying in sports for the physical gifts we possess. I would not want God to take away my spiritual gift and render me unusable for His work.

I must admit, it’s a challenge these days learning both the business end of ministry and studying His Word diligently as well. My wife is being taxed as well. Yet we owe it to Christ and those we serve to be prepared, trained, and fully equipped for the ministry he has given to us. When faced with an excuse to quit, or even slow down, we observe the cross. Christ finished the course. He served…He taught…He encouraged…and He did all with sincerity and diligence; all to please the Father. If He could do it, I can! We all can!

Let’s serve cheerfully; AS UNTO THE LORD. He is the One we serve.
04 15 08 Another Set of Eyes

“Everything a man does might seem right to him.
But the Lord knows what that man is thinking.”
(Proverbs 16:2 NIrV)


No man is an island. No one can believe they can do anything worth while without help. Any significant discovery, invention, or program requires the teamwork of many. One may come up with an idea, but without ANOTHER SET OF EYES to examine the plans, things are bound to hit snags. Things are too complicated in the world today to think anyone can do anything alone…except fail!

Left to ourselves, we will approve of anything we plan, any wild dream we might have, any spur-of-the-moment desire. We won’t examine the deep set motives, the amount of work it will take to accomplish the plans, nor the actual costs involved. We will just see the finished product. There is One who knows it all however, even from the beginning of our thoughts.

We must be careful to place our plans and motives before the Lord. We must lay our desires out before Him, get His thoughts, and then accept His decisions. He knows the plans He has for us. His plans are for us to succeed. But we need to accept HIS plans.

As we plan, we pray. As we pray, we get counsel. God will lead us to Godly people who have been where we are and where we’re going. We must be willing to accept the direction He sends us in, or we should expect failure. Oh, we may think we’re succeeding, but by whose standards? We need ANOTHER SET OF EYES…spiritual eyes.

If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. If we are selfish enough to go it alone, we have decided to fail! Tap into God’s resources: His Word, His counsel, His people, His power. He is the SOURCE of our success!

Monday, April 14, 2008

04 14 08 Can I Help You?

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
(Psalm 133:1 NKJV)


Indeed it is a pleasure to get along together with family! Brethren is translated kindred in the NRSV and brothers and sisters in The Message. It’s a great feeling to be able to talk, joke, reminisce, and simply enjoy one another, isn’t it? In today’s culture however, the family is losing touch with one another. Children move away. Siblings become jealous of one thing or another and keep their distance. Caring for aging parents brings added stress and the realities of life…and death. Divorce and re-marriage has widened the chasm. Family unity takes work! Sadly, it is not much unity within the biological family today.

So how ‘bout within our church family: Is it any different? As for my experience, I can say I have been blessed beyond measure with a church family who truly treats me as a brother. They have been there with a kind word, a cheerful card, an encouraging phone call, financial assistance, food for the family when needed, and special trips to visit my wife and me when we have been hospitalized. My brothers and sisters have cared for our children when we’ve been away and they have even sent us on family vacations. Our Pastor and church elders are not simply the leaders of our church; we also call them friends and family. There is not a time of need that goes by without hearing in one form or another, “CAN I HELP YOU?” (It’s heart-felt as well).

I have also been blessed with a brotherhood (and sisterhood) of believers beyond my local church. Former co-workers nudged me into full-time ministry. Business men and women who love the Lord and have offered their services (many times pro-bono) to increase and improve what God is doing through TSN Ministries. Local politicians who love the Lord, have not been not ashamed to see His work funded. National ministry leaders have taken the time to lend their and personal at conferences. Even neighbors have encouraged us during casual conversations in the driveway of our home. We have felt the love and warmth and genuine concern of extended family as well. I must say, I know God’s love goes beyond the church building, beyond denominations, beyond race and gender, and beyond any other boundary we have tried to establish.

We are constantly hearing, “CAN I HELP YOU?” I am so humbled and even embarrassed at times. I will never get comfortable asking for support. It’s just not what I do. There are times when I am instructed to ask, so others can be blessed and be a part of His work and in doing so being obedient to God’s call to support the mandated work of the church to go and tell; making disciples.

So today, I ask, “CAN I HELP YOU?” Can I pray for you? Can I serve you in any way? To be called is one thing. To serve is what the Savior is all about. It’s why He came to earth, why He suffered, why He rose from the grave, and why He gave every believer His Spirit. Paul said it best for each of us:

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
(Galatians 5:13 NASB)

Friday, April 11, 2008

04 11 08 Can We Be Trusted?

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
(1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV)


After his introductory words in 1 Corinthians, (1-9), Paul brings up the problem of divisions among the Corinthians. Then Paul spells out specific measures which must be taken to set this matter right. Paul is not simply calling for repentance, being specific as to how to change! Paul warns the Corinthians not to deceive themselves by thinking themselves to be wise in this age. This worldly wisdom is folly to God and actually the means of the downfall of the Corinthian Christians and us today. Rather than taking pride in belonging to a certain group and a particular leader, Paul urges the Corinthians to rejoice that in Christ they possess all things, and they belong only to God. We would be wise to listen to Paul, knowing that what God required of the Corinthians, He also requires of us.

Faithful: trustworthy, believing, reliable, confiding…

Do these words describe me and you? As stewards of all God gives to us, can DADDY say we are faithful? Are we trustworthy of all He has entrusted to us? Do we live out our daily life as believing disciples? Can He rely upon us to carry out His will today? Is our relationship with our Father one of confidence and security? Are we still slaves to sin or servants of the Most High?

As slaves and stewards, the apostles were not intent on pleasing men (Galatians 1:10), but on pleasing the Master. The Lord is their Master and ours, and He will be our Judge. All will give account to Him for their stewardship, and the standard for judgment is their faithfulness in fulfilling their stewardship.

As heirs to the Kingdom, we are to live as sons and daughters of the King. Yet we doubt. We go out on our own foolish trails. We want it now, not when God says we should have it. But slaves do what the Master says. So are we His slaves…or Satan’s? It’s a decision we all must make!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

04 10 08 Walk With Me

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.
Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)


Jesus might have asked: “Aren’t you tired and burned-out on all that religious stuff? Look, come walk with me, and I’ll help you recover your life – your real purpose – and even though it will require some hard, very hard work, you’ll be energized by it because you’ll be living life to its fullest. You’ll be doing exactly what my Father created you to do, and more importantly, you’ll be exactly who I want you to be.”

We spend so much time and energy doing ministry: outreaches, events, programs, conferences, and schooling. We are so educated and equipped, yet still challenged, still lacking, still falling short. Why is this? Jesus whispers it to us in the passage above: Spend more personal time with Me! Let Me energize you, encourage you, give you your energy back and allow you to be used where I intended! Jesus knows us intimately and has a plan for each of us. We just don’t have time to do it His way; because we too busy doing things how we best see it. If we’ll simply let go…surrender. “WALK WITH ME”, he says. “Take time for Me.”

Do you find yourself tired? I know I do, especially the past few weeks. We’ve really been challenged! If we’ll only trust Jesus more…Jesus will teach us how to find rest in Him. This is not a rest absent of stress, but the rest that results from believing in God’s faithfulness. It is the peace of God, knowing we’re in His care and in His hands! My challenge is that we ask God to show us what blocks us from believing fully in His faithfulness, and then ask Him to break those barriers down.

1 Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional, April 10, 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

04 09 08 Tomorrow Never Comes

“You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. You ought to say instead, ‘If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that’.”
(James 4:14-15)


Yesterday’s tomorrow is the day we have today. What are we going to do? We look forward to tomorrow, but it never really comes! There is always tomorrow…in our mind. But in reality, all we have is today! This is the day the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and not simply be glad, but live it out to the glory of God!!!

James is writing to scattered Christians across Asia and Asia Minor who were facing persecution to encourage them to stay strong in their faith and to endure. James talks about endurance, patience and being a doer of the word. We can’t just say we’re Christian, we don’t just talk it; we’re going to have to walk it! He called it being a doer of the word. James talks about faith and works. Our actions show our commitment to Christ is real and not just words from our mouth. It begins today. TOMORROW NEVER COMES!

We plan too much for tomorrow. We count on ourselves way too much. How often do we even think, “Lord willing”, much less say it and pray it? Lord, Your kingdom come…Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Isn’t this the model prayer Jesus gave us use? In fact, if we just take care of today’s needs, we’ll find troubles of their own tomorrow…when and if we get there!

"So don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:34 NIrV)


Lord willing, we’ll get through today to the glory of God and possibly have the chance to bring someone else to know Him as well. I give You my today Lord and trust that my tomorrows are in Your hands!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

04 08 08 Me Worry?

“And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life?”
(Luke 12:25 NET)


Jesus had just shared the story of the rich landowner who had so much in his barns that he decided to sit back and simply enjoy life! He thought he had everything in control as all his physical needs were met. Little did he know his life would come to an end that very night and his biggest need, his relationship with God, was lacking. Where would all those physical possessions take him?

We plan. We store up. We build and buy bigger, better, more beautiful. We’re never satisfied. We believe we’re entitled to things because we work hard or worse yet, because we’re God’s children. I heard a remark on the radio one day: when will I hear a testimony that says after I was saved, things got worse? Enough of all the feel good stories, where everything works out and we live happily ever after. That’s not biblical. We’ll struggle here on earth. We’ll be tried, tempted, and tested. We’ll be stretched and strained. We will not always be lying on a bed of clovers. In fact, we may be forever pulling out the weeds! The TRUTH is that we will live happily in the hereafter…in heaven! That’s the promise…that’s life abundantly! Luke encourages us not to worry. ME WORRY?

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out – a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Luke 33-34 NET)


I’m not going to lie to you. When I left my job with the Postal Service in 2003, I was worried! Would God really supply my needs? How hard would it be? Would I lose my home? How would we raise the money needed to build the vision God has given to us? Well, some of those questions have yet to be answered.

We “sold our possessions” in that we used all the finances we had available to us to fund the beginnings of our ministry. We do not know month to month if we can pay the mortgage. We have gone without health insurance off and on over the years; (more without it than with it). Yet we have made it through. God has provided our needs and then some. Our only real treasure is in heaven and with the hearts of the people who have cared for us. There are times when I still worry, but I can’t dwell upon it for too long. Ultimately, God will decide where I live, what I eat, what clothes I wear and when we’ll have the TSN Olde Towne Community.

No one can steal the treasures within my heart; the relationships with my DADDY, my wife, my children, my church family, and the experiences along the way. ME WORRY? I do, but not for long, because I have a barn in heaven with treasures promised for me there. I don’t need to store things up here, but send them on ahead!

Monday, April 7, 2008

04 07 08 God-Appointed

“Young men, follow the lead of those who are older. All of you, put on a spirit that is free of pride toward each other as if it were your clothes. Scripture says, ‘God opposes those who are proud. But he gives grace to those who are not’. "
(1 Peter 5:5 NIrV)


Everyone wants to be respected. Everyone wants to feel needed, important, and worth something to someone. It’s human nature, and in this day and age, people have come to expect to be rewarded, applauded and promoted. But it should not be this way among the called out people of God! There should be respect for everyone, but especially toward leadership: GOD-APPOINTED leadership! The leaders of our church should be supported, respected, encouraged, prayed for, and cared for. There is no excuse for backbiting, rumors, and gossip in the church, but when it involves our leaders, it is beyond disrespectful…it’s a dishonor to God Himself. If we disrespect those GOD APPOINTED, we directly disrespect God! At least that’s my opinion, for all it’s worth.

“He laughs at proud people who make fun of others.
But he gives grace to those who are not proud.”
(Proverbs 3:34 NIrV))


Solomon said it long before the church was established. Pride is the cause of our jealousy, personal attacks, and ridicule. It does not please our heavenly Father at all. He appoints leaders over us and we are to submit to them as they follow Christ. We do it to honor the Lord, but the man of God deserves honor and respect as well. While we give out time, talents, and finances to the church, we are supporting the work: but most importantly, we’re honoring God with our sacrifice of self and our possessions. When we have Godly leaders in position in our churches, it is even more important to support them and the work. Too many dedicated men of God have left the position, because of burn-out, lack of support, intense criticism, and even depression. What a price we, as individuals and as a church body, will have to pay for not honoring the positions of leadership that have been placed among us and not honoring the leaders as well!

“But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says,
‘God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble’.”
(James 4:6 NET)


James reiterates the message here as well. It’s not a bad thing to desire to be a leader and to lead within the church. However, it’s God’s will and His timing. So many have placed themselves in positions they need not be in. They are qualified by neither man’s standards nor God’s. They have not prepared themselves academically or scripturally. Many motivational speakers call themselves pastors and preachers, yet they aren’t teaching anything but positive thinking motivational techniques.

If we desire leadership positions in God’s schemes of things, we must first be called by God, and then equipped by God. We must be opened to the Spirit’s leading. We must be humbled the Spirit as well and be willing to serve anywhere He places us… and we serve until He puts us somewhere else! We serve until God calls us home. We serve as living sacrifices, not glorified icons. Let GOD APPOINT us. Let God humble us. Let God exalt us…in His due time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Still Dreamin’…..

“Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.”
(Philippians 2:1-3 NET)


I have a dream”…..the words still echo throughout the hilltops, cities, and churches today. They are not meant for a political message or as a slick slogan to push a program. They were from a sincere man of God’s heart for oneness; the kind of oneness Paul wrote about to the believers in Philippi. If we, the body of believers, the present-day disciples of Jesus Christ can’t be one, then who can be one? And if we can’t be one, are we really His to begin with?

“I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one –I in them and you in me – that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.”
(John 17:20-23 NET)


Jesus anticipated our struggles to remain one, as He prayed to the Father just before delivering Himself up for the sacrifice upon the cross. He knew that even in the Church, there would be the temptation of selfishness, greed, isolation, and unfortunately; discrimination and prejudice. Sad as it may seem, all believers are human and still have a sin nature. Our selfish desires need to held in check. That is only done by allowing God’s Holy Spirit to be in control; both in the Church as a body and in every individual believer. Dr. King’s “dream” was not just for political purposes or a specific group of people. It was for all people and all of society. I have to believe that as an ordained minister, Dr. King had to have in mind the oneness Jesus prayed for in John 17.

In many ways we are STILL DREAMIN” today. My wife and I still occasionally get stares when we walk along the malls or enter buildings, especially when we are with our children or grandchildren. I can almost hear the whispers in people’s minds, “Whose baby is that…his or hers?” At times the looks are innocent, but I can also tell when the look offers anger and irritation. I too dream of the day when Americans will be Americans (not white Americans, African Americans, or other hyphenated Americans). I pray for a future where our children will be known as Americans who call Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior! Born in America? We are Americans! Born-again into the Body of Christ? We are Christians! Isn’t that simple? It’s just not as hard to be one when we stop trying so hard!
Freedom Isn’t Free

(In Honor of Martin Luther King,on the remembrance of his assasination)

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


God loved us while we were yet His enemies, still sinners; Christ went to the cross for us. Many people would die for a friend or a family member, but for an enemy? Now, that’s love. That sacrifice allowed man the chance for spiritual freedom: freedom from sin and eternal separation from God in an eternal hell. We have the freedom to choose to accept that gift from God or reject it, but we have the freedom to choose.

That freedom, however, came at a great cost. Christ laid aside His glory in heaven to accept the brunt of all our sin. He received the beatings, the spitting, the insults, the cross, just for you and for me. He experienced a separation from His Father so we would not have to do so. FREEDOM ISN’T FREE … it costs!

“We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down His life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians. But whoever has the world’s possessions and sees his fellow Christian in need and shuts off his compassion against him, how can the love of God reside in such a person? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Jesus laid down His life … His life style for us. His life was lived on our behalf. He gave up His will for God’s will for Him and for our redemption. As I honor the life and work of Dr. King, that’s what I take away from his sacrifice. He gave up a life of pastoring, of a husband, of a Daddy and took on the will of the people. I’m sure it was God’s will for his life as well. He became the face of civil rights for all people; rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and by the cross of Christ. No doubt, Dr. King’s family missed a lot of time he could have been at home. His church lost out on some one-on-one counseling and some dynamic Sunday preaching and Bible study. His dedication to the needs of the people came at a price: his personal time, his family time, his time with his church, and ultimately his life!

Dr. King laid down his life for those in need; both Christians and non-believers, those of dark hues and those of a lighter hue. Here is my question: How will you honor the legacy of Dr. King and the ultimate mandate of God upon your life as a believer? This is not a race issue or even a civil rights issue anymore. It’s an issue of our basic Christian life. Whom are we living for? What will be said of you and me at our going home service? Are we laying down our lives for anyone: a friend, family, fellow believers, neighbors, for God’s will?

We here in the U.S. have more than anyone, yet we complain we don’t have enough! We hoard, we invest, we save, yet we refuse to give from our need. We’ll gladly give from our excess, sure. But will we lay down our desires, give from our basic possessions, sacrifice our very lives for someone’s need, as Dr. King and so many others have done over the years? It takes a special person. It takes a person controlled by God’s Spirit and given over to His will.

What bigger need does a person have than to feel the love of Christ and to know Him personally? In honor of Dr. King, may I challenge you to lay your life down and love in deed and truth? Will you commit to give as you see a need, not as you have extra? Can we live as real brothers ands sisters, not known by the color of our skin but by the content of our character? Oh, that’s still a dream in some areas, isn’t it?

I thank God for Dr. King’s sacrifice and for the sacrifice of all who have laid down their lives for our freedoms. For me, the fight is not over until we all are one under the blood of Christ! FREEDOM ISN’T FREE! Don’t get too comfortable, there is still a price to pay!!!

Are we willing to lay it down?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

04 03 08 Men Behaving Godly

“So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” (Galatians 6:9 NLT)

The words of Matthew 6:33 offer clear instructions for managing your day and your life: we are to put God’s business before our own. Men, this is a challenge for us. Our job as provider many times takes our concentration away from God. We begin to think we are the provider, when we know deep down it is God! We are so busy impressing bosses, co-workers, and even our competition, that we forget our audience is God. Each day we are presented with moments to please God over man. The choice is ours, but the price we may pay may have eternal costs. Work hours rather than hours with family; business trips over family vacations; happy hour instead of the dinner hour at home; business cell phone conversations rather than bedtime story conversations; late nights at the office before date nights with our spouse… These are costly decisions indeed!

MEN BEHAVING GODLY make Godly decisions based upon time spent with God and His Word. They are not made haphazardly or by flipping a coin. We have to invest way before we reap the dividends. The return on our time with God comes when we most need it and many times we have run out of earthly resources. If we put God and His Kingdom priorities first, especially as men, we have a Source of wealth. The world’s resources can’t quite compare!

We men like it simple. Here is a simple fact: Don’t just listen to God’s Word, live by it. Sound too simple? Perhaps it is. But we need to have it that way. We don’t have to think too much. God has made it plain and clear over the centuries: Do these things I have laid out for you…be blessed…Don’t do these things…you’re on your own. That’s scary!!! When will we learn?

Mr. Moody said it this way: “If we have the true love of God in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do.”

There is something abut that little light shining: it shows through MEN BEHAVING GODLY!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

04 02 08 GROWING IN CONTENTMENT

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the One who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11–13 NET)

Men especially, don’t compare ourselves to others! We think this is only a challenge for women! While we understand a woman’s struggle meet the standards: attention: constantly aware of the “look” of today’s woman, caring for the home, providing meals, keeping the house, holding down a job, and still keeping her husband’s eyes focused upon her.

When you compare your life with someone else’s, the only place it can lead is discontent. There will always be people who appear to be better off than you, but you don’t know their real circumstances. There will always be guys bigger, stronger, smarter, more educated, making more money……it’s not just a challenge for our wife and daughters!

I know we all have heard it before, but what God has for me, and for you, is just for us and no one else. We are who we are and God wants to use as He made us. Why fight it? Doesn’t He know best? If we are constantly trying to be like someone else and have what they have, we’ll never be what God what’s us to be. If we only learn to be content...

If we will begin giving ourselves to others, sharing what things we do have, sharing our time and our talents, we’ll find ourselves learning to be content. Helping others will give us an appreciation for what we have and who we are but, more importantly, we will find ourselves GROWING IN CONTENTMENT. Why? Because God designed us to serve and share with others and until we do that, we will feel great discontent.

 Be satisfied with the man in the mirror and the Creator behind it all
 Keep growing in relationships with the Lord and other Godly men
 Share our things
 Share ourselves
 Share His love
 Grow in contentment.

Make DADDY proud!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

04 01 08 Are We April’s Fool?

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no-one who does good.”
(Psalm 14:1 NIV)


Our kids used to look forward to April 1st. They would plan out tricks days in advance, especially our oldest son. When one of adopted sons (Jordan) was living with us, it was really dangerous. He and AJ would go way out of their way to torment us. Our house was a like a minefield. But it was so much fun! We miss that!

Seriously though, there are those in our midst who disregard God and live as if He doesn’t care, doesn’t matter, and doesn’t exist. What a fool! The psalmist said it. Look around today: sexual immorality, drug abuse like never before (by all levels of society), civil unions, corruption in government, abuse within churches, and on and on. As a society, we are so foolish! Have you and I fallen for the cruel joke? ARE WE APRIL’S FOOL?

“For a fool speaks disgraceful things; his mind plans out sinful deeds. He commits godless deeds and says misleading things about the LORD; he gives the hungry nothing to satisfy their appetite and gives the thirsty nothing to drink.
(Isaiah 32:6)


Isaiah and the psalmist agree with the Spirit of God: Those who disregard God do despicable things! They have no conscience to guide them. They have no moral compass, but what ever is accepted by society. Men do what seems to be right in their own eyes, not God’s eyes! Isn’t that where we are as a society? But as Christians, we need to be shocked at what we see on the news, we need to point our immoral activity and not condone. We need to call sin what it is and call sinners to repentance. We can’t ignore it any longer! ARE WE APRIL’S FOOL year-round?

This is not a time for tolerance! It’s not a time for political correctness. It’s a time for boldness, wisdom, and the TRUTH! No more foolishness…especially from us men! We have been duped by the enemy, who happens to rule their world…remember?

Let’s put away the dunce caps and use the power with in us. Greater is He within us than He who is in the world! God is not to be mocked! Though we may look like fools to the world, the last laugh lies within the hearts of those who honor the King! Let that confidence cause us to stand for Him and not fall for any old thing we hear. His TRUTH sets us free!

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...