Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sucess is . . .

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither . . . whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3) Coach Tony Dungy defines success by "how well we use those qualities (unique gifts abilities and passions given to each of us by God) to have an impact on the world around us." It sounds as though he is in tune with the words of the psalmist above. To really achieve lasting success, we must be in harmony with God and His plans for us. Success is defined in who we are, not what we do! I am . . . not I do . . . When Moses ask God, "Who do I say sent me?", do we recall God's reply? Tell them "I AM sent you!" (Exodus 3:13-15) It was enough for God to say who He was, not what He does! Integrity goes before us. Reputation can waiver. Integrity is who we are. Reputation is what others say we are and what they say we have done. It only matters what God knows about us! Who do we say we are? Eleven of the twelve disciples were murdered for who they were. They tried their best to killl John too, but God had a plan for him. Stephen was also killed for what He believed. Many of us have been rejected, maligned, even fired for standing on what we believe and why. The world may say we have failed, but if we have done all that God has designed for us to do . . . if we remain in Him, we are a success! (John 15:5)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

God said it. I believe it. That settles it!

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:6-9) God said it. I believe it. That settles it. This used to be enough for people to belive something. However, in this world today, anyone can say or do anyting and others will agree that is is allowable . . . even lawful! Not so with God . . . From the beginning (Genesis 1:23-24)God ordained marriage to be a husband and wife, man and woman. It was designed to be forever, not simply while it was convenient. Man was granted divorce because of his hard heart, as Jesus explains here,not for irreconcilable differences!(Mark 10:2-5) Just becausse man has tried to change the playbook, it does not mean the rules of the game have changed. Oh no . . . throw a flag . . . blow the whistle . . . time out!!!! It is time to call a foul and stop condoning all the cheating! God is still in control. He will have the final say. He makes the rules and He makes the decisions. There is no discussion. There is no need to go to the booth for a review! We have the rules clearly explained in the Bible! Why can't we be the ones to set the record straight. Why do we sit on the sidelines. Get in the game fellow believers!!!! Play by the rules or suffer the consequences. It is real simple. But we have to play the game . . . we must get off the sidelines and get involved in the battle!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Who do we listen to?

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7) Who do we listen to . . . the pop culture, the news, our doctor, family members, close friends? When we make the decisions of life, who do we really listen to anyway? While there are many avenues of advice in today's society with all the available forms of counseling, self-help books, on-line chats, motivatonal speakers, T.V. doctors, and other social medias, which ones do we trust? Who is out to scam us and who really wants to help? Even freinds and family can have ulterior motives at times. But God gives us this sound advice today just as He spoke to Peter, James and John in Mark chapter nine. . . Listen to the voice of Jesus! The Word of God (John 1:1). . . Jesus, has all the answers to life's questions. Trouble is, we have become so depependent upon the world's advice that we do not seek God until it is way too late. Then we expect Him to fix it right away! The Holy Spirit is the conforter, the counselor, the one who comes along side of us to assist us through life. Jesus did not leave us abandoned (John 14:16). He remains with us through life's ups and downs . . . even in the clam when nothing seems to be going on . . . I AM! God does not slumber or sleep. Nothing is new to Him, though it may be shocking to us. God knows. Let's trust Him enough to know He knows what is best for us. Let's try this today . . . Listen to the voice of Jesus!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"You are the Messiah!"

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 8:27-29) Who is Jesus anyway? Everyone wants to be His friend, His companion, or at least identify with Him. Some say He was a good man. Many faiths accept Him as real, human, and a doer on miraculaous things. He healed folks. He fed thousands. He predicted things that are still coming true today. Yet the Muslims look to Muhammad . . . The Mormons follow Joseph Smith's teachings. Jehovah Witnesses do not believe His sacrifice was enough. So is He God . . . is He MESSIAH? Jews beleve that before the time of the mashiach (Messiah), there shall be war and suffering (Ezekiel 38:16). The mashiach will bring about the political and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people by bringing us back to Israel and restoring Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5). He will establish a government in Israel that will be the center of all world government, both for Jews and gentiles (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1). He will rebuild the Temple and re-establish its worship (Jeremiah 33:18). He will restore the religious court system of Israel and establish Jewish law as the law of the land (Jeremiah 33:15). They believe this is a physical restoration of Jewish power and law. They do not accept Jesus Christ as Mashiach. Yet there were Jews who lived in Jesus' days who witnessed His life, death, and resurrection who did indeed believe and they even gave their lives for Him. They continued the faith so strongly that folks still claim Him as Messiah to this day. When Peter was asked, he replied, "You are the Messiah!" Everyone has to make a decision one day . . . who do you say that Jesus is? Make a choice and stick with it. It has eternal consequences. I am very comfortable with the choice I have made. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

Monday, July 23, 2012

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come . . . sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23) Yes, it is true, we are what we eat. As our cells reproduce minute by minute the food we ingest becomes the energy for the body's process of celluar reproduction. The kinds of food we eat produce the energy, proteins, carbohydrates, and everything else the body needs to contiue to function in a healthy fashion. In Mark 7 however, Jesus is not saying we are not changed and influenced by what we see, hear and even eat. What He is saying is that it is the emphasis we place upon waht is putside the body that causes us to neglect insides . . .the heart. What we take in . . . what we call important and vital to our living . . . influences our inner being. Placing importance upon things . . . food, culture (both in the world and in the church) , and what others think about us can and will change our way of thinking and how we live day to day. Our hearts are the C.P.U.s of our bodies. Like a computer, what we download can corrupt our system, causing virus anfter virus to damage us until we no longer function as we were designed. Many times it ends in a complete meltdown or crash. So how do we handle all the various cultural influences we see and hear each and every day? How do we decipher what is good? Whether wewant to admit it or not, we hear the words to the music, we capture the visions from TV, videos, and movies, and we get a bit too comfortable with the office jokes, water fountain rumors, and even the off-color slang used these days. Fellow believers, we must defend our hearts ! We have to have a strategy to filter what we see, hear, and touch. Things may be lawful, but everything is not good and even too much of a good thing can be dangerous! (1 Corinthians 10:23) We must be on guard . . . for ourselves and those under our influence.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Oh, the Traditions of Man!

“Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” (Mark 7:5-8) The disciples did not follow the traditions of the Pharisees . . . they followed Jesus!It upset the Jewish leaders. Let's think about the traditions folks follow today, even (sadly) some Christians . . . More than 35 million babies legally murdered in America . . . homosexuality celebrated publically . . . students can receive a condom in school but cannot pray out loud for a friend in need . . . our kids are taught that we have evolved over millions of years yet the Bible tells us God created everything in six 24-hour days. Not getting drunk, refusing to smoke weed or do crack, driving the speed limit, and choosing to remain a virgin until marriage are all the exeption to young people today. Right is wrong and wrong is right . . . IS IT? Oh,the traditions of men! These popular ways will get no one into heaven. They may win friends, but they do not win God's heart. In fact, they have eternal consequences! Man's traditions change from generation to generation. God's traditons remain the TRUTH! He has not changed nor have His requirements for holiness changed!(Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8) He is God! The TRUTH will set you free . . . free from confusion, free from peer pressure, free from ups and downs of popular opinion . . . free from sin! The TRUTH frees us from this world! Try Jesus . . . He is the TRUTH!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Can we pray for revival?

For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you. (Deuteronomy 23:14) Certain things are required by God . . . holiness is one of those things. I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. (1 Timothy 2:8) . . .for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16) We are to be a peculiar people . . . set apart to be God's light in a dark world. Yet we try so much to fit in! It's ok to identify with today's culture and to understand the issues, but we are not to be the issue! God cannot and will not bless a mess. Our churches need revivalmore than we need another Sunday school program, another VBS, or another outreach! All these things are fine, but our hearts need to be right! Just as the Lord spoke to the churches in Revelation (Revelation 2,3)I am sure He has issues with us today. Yes we have faith and are doing good things, but are we being led by the Spirit or the world? Are we the head or the tail? Is the tail wagging the dog? Can we pray for revival, beginning within our own hearts? (Isaiah 63:15-64:12) Something has to change, why not you and me?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Than Enough . . .

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
(Mark 6:41-44) We all have our doubts these days . . . How will we make it through the month? Why is there always more bills at the end of the month than there is money? How long before before I find a job? How can I down size when I cannot sell the house I live in now? on and on the doubts grow within our finite minds . . . However, if God is still God (and He is!) then why do we doubt Him today? Rather, perhaps we are blind to His miracles today! I am a witness to His miraculous provisions and care. Many times He has provided an unexpected financila gift, food donations that were not expected, and medical bills being cleared by hospital administration. I have seen family members go in a hospital for emergency tumor operations and come home cancer free. I have witnessed a doctor giving a cancer patient six months to live and six months later the tumor shrunk and was in remission. In our personal life, every month it's a miracle to meet the family budget, yet fifteen years as a missionary we are in the same home, with three vehicles (one donated, one obtained by a grant, and on completely paid for)and in good health despite several years without health insurance. Money is simply a tool for ministry . . . God provided way beyond finances. The key to living for God is to commit to Him and allow Him to take care of the rest. In all the years of ministry, we have never stopped tithing, never quit serving (though there have been times we have considered), and never stopped realizing that God is the Source of our resources . As we read years ago from the prophet Malachi . . .
"Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it".blockquote> (Malachi 3:10) Giving our lives to God has opened up windows of blessings and opportunities for our family, not just a door here or there. He is always more than enough . . . not just in food but in life!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Home Mission Field . . . a Real Job!

Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
(Mark 6:2-4) Ahh, the home mission field . . . what a lonely and challenging place to work each day. My bride and I were called to the mission filed in 1997 and I must admit, I was scared of the next step! Would God call us to pack up and move to a foreign land? Would He challenge us to learn a new language, change our way of living, even leave behing family and friends? Well, it ws a releif to know that God had work for us right where we were currently living! The Metro DC area would be our mission field! Boy were we relieved! However, we did not realize the challenges and even ridicule and rejection we would face . . . Just as Jesus faced doubt, ridicule, and rejection from His very closest freinds and family, we too will suffer from those closest to us. Who are these people to claim they were called by God? After all, were they not our friends and family? Did they not used to hang out with us, even party with us? How could they be so Godly? How . . why would God choose them? Even after 15 years . . . still doubt and questionable comments . . . Do you really have a job? What is it you do? Do you expect people to pay for you staying at home? Get a real job after all! In the passages above it reads that Jesus could not even perform many miracles in His hometown because of the people's lack of faith. It must have hurt Him deeply. I know the feeling! My own family has basically rejected me . . . not really concerned what we do to the poit of changing the subject when our work comes up. Oh we are doing a noble thing . . . we are helping people alright . . . but to leave our good government jobs for missions? WHAT???? What are we supposed to do with them now? It is good to know the Lord faced this yet still accomplished so much! We will not quit! We get so much encouragement from His Word, our local church, and so many others. No, the finances are not where we would like them, but we know whom we serve and will continue on the Home Mission Field until God calls us home with Him!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

just believe

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”blockquote> (Mark 5:35-36) We are faced with so many challenges in this day and age and many will say "It is helpless!" Cancers, economic challenges, housing issues, even the weather disasters we all seem to be facing lately all point to challenge after challenge with no end in sight . . . yet God is still God! Is any need really beyond the power of God? Struggles are an opportunity to trust God. I know it may sound trivial, but it is true. Afflictions and hard times bring us to our knees, where we should be in the first place! We see God from a different perspective. He becomes Lord as we hand over control to the King of kings. I am speaking from experience. As a missionary, there are many times when I asked God why?, how? and when? It is hard to trust God when everyone else seems to be doing ok. It is hard to experience my family's struggles when I know things were not as hard when I was working in the world. But God called us to this work and I must trust Him to fulfill His promises to care for us and complete His work in us! This is faith . . . not easy, but a faith-walk day by day! This world is not my home. I am working for eternal rewards and results! Can we just believe? It sounds so elementary, but it is exactly what Jesus asked the synagogue official! There is no fear in a relationship with Jesus Christ.Give Him a try . . . just believe for a change! See what God can still do!

Monday, July 16, 2012

On- Call Mr. Fix-Its?

If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
(Mark 5:28-34) Sometimes even we men need a sensitive side. We need to be aware of people's unspoken needs. We need to be willing to stop what we are doing and help . . . even just listen! (My wife reminds me of this quite often!) Many times as men we want to simply know the issue and fix it. But are we in tune to folks enough to know the issue without anyone even speaking? Are we sensitive to our wife's desires? Do we really know our child's greatest need? Are we engaged within the community? Do we have a sense of the deep hurts and needs of those around us . . . Or are we simply on call Mr. Fix-Its? Jesus was as sensitive as a man could be, yet as strong as any man ever was. Sensistivity does not take away manhood! It is amazing how God can hear the soft whimpers of a child's heart admist the noise of the entire universe. It is much like a parent being able to decipher their own child's cry of mommy or daddy in a stadium full of thousands. On average, a good man spends only a few minutes of quality time with his family. This is not acceptable for a man of God! We must improve this statistic guys. It can be done through Christ who strengthens us! God hears our heart cries. As we reflect His image within our homes, we too (guys) must tune in to the people who mean the most to us. We have work to do as we continue to allow the Spirit to transform us . . .

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Serving despite the pain

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
(Luke 15:7) It really is easy sharing my testimony and the Word of God with folks. After all, it is my story and God's Word is a true story! I just share the facts. The heartbreaking part in our ministry is when folks doubt us or God's Word. When the lost sheep chooses to wander away aimlessly or even worse, follows after the wolf. Yes we celebrate with heaven when the lost soul repents and gives their life to Christ. Even through the ups and downs of discipleship, it is a joy to work with so many teens and their families and see them grow closer to the Lord. But the ones who slip away . . . The heartache wears away at us. We just cannot understand how someone cannot accept the simple facts of the Gospel. So many have been duped, confused, and bombarded with so many rituals and add-ons to the simple Christian faith. Jesus did not come and suffer such a brutal death to confuse us, but to simplify things. It is His will that no one is lost! Yet there will be those like the rich young ruler and even Judas who decide to walk away . . . it is the reality of ministry for Christ. Please pray for us as we continue serving despite the pain of rejection, confusion, contradition, and spiritual warfare. The fight goes on . . . the battle for the soul goes on! We are just a few soldiers serving a Might Lord of Hosts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life or Death . . . YOU Decide . . .!

But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?"
(Ezekiel 18:21-23) Many folks are wandering around through life . . . not simply wondering, but wandering . . .lost, without a clue to today or their future. Yet God's Word is full of hope, encouragement, and confidence in the future! We who do believe need to read it, believe it, and live it out so all who doubt can see and believe! Everyone will expereince ups and downs in life . . . illness, deaths, sadness, disappointments, and disasters as well as good times, memorable trips away, family celebrations, milestones reached, and goals accomplished. That is just life as we have it in this world. People live and peole die . . . but what happens after that? The decision and the destination is up to you and me as individuals. Securing ones future requires a persoanl decision to repent from sin, accept the offer of Jesus Christ's sacrificial death upon a cross, and a commitment to follow His ways. We all make hard decisions every day whether we are young or old: Whom do I choose as freinds? hom will I choose to marry? Which bills do I pay first? Which vehicle best suits my needs? Do I really need a second job or do I need to rearrange my priorities? Can I risk not trusting God's Word one more day . . . . .? Why do we ignore the biggest decision of our life? Do I choose life or death? Joshua showed us how to stand before God and man and make the decision when he was given the task of succeeding Moses:
"But suppose you don't want to serve him. Then choose for yourselves right now whom you will serve. You can choose the gods your people served east of the Euphrates River. Or you can choose the gods the Amorites serve. After all, you are living in their land. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."
(Joshua 24:15) We all must make the decision for ourselves . . . before we pass away from this world into the next chapter of life. The writer of hebrews and the Psalmist both wrote these words . . .
It has just been said, "Listen to his voice today. If you hear it, don't be stubborn. You were stubborn when you opposed me."
(Hebrews 3:15, Psalm 95:7-8) I thank God that He pursued me. I thank God someone cared enough to challenge me some twenty years ago. Now I challenge you! Life or death . . . DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS . . . . WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hard Work Pays Off

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain
. (1 Corinthians 15:58) Work has its rewards! Hard work does indeed pay off. Hours of practice produces winning results. Ask any coach, teacher, or parent. It is no different in the Christian walk. No work for the Lord goes unnoticed or without benefit. If nothing else, God sees our efforts and one day . . . He will reward us. Maybe not today . . . but one day! But we cannot just do things as we please, it requires the right kind of practice . . . according to the rule and regulation of the game (or of life in this case). My coach used to say: "Perfect practice makes perfect!" However, this requires faith in the One who created us because . . .
. . .without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6) Faith goes hand in hand with diligent and consistent hard work. A sincere faith compels the believer to labor for the Lord. Faith without any hard work is dead . . . according to James.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
(James 2:17) We are not saved by our works for the Lord. Nothing we can ever do will save us from sin! God's grace calls us to seek the Savior's saving blood and His grace calls us to labor for His purposes. (Ephesians 2:8)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:10) We are saved to work for Christ. We cannot and do not work in order to be saved! We may not see the benefits of serving God here on earth. But because we trust in God's promises, we work, we persevere, we do not quit!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Still wondering . . .wandering?. . . remember His words!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. (Luke 24:1-8)
Many are still wondering and wandering today . . . Let's be honest, we all wonder at times! After thousands of years of testimony, hundreds of fulfilled prophesies, and eyewitness authenticities as to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, many still doubt. Is Jesus who He said He was? Did He really do all those miracles? Did He really suffer such a brutal death . . . really die on a cross . . . really rise from the dead . . . really go into heaven physically? Is He really God? Is He really coming back? Do I really have to believe in Him and change the way I live? The TRUTH is the TRUTH! One must be changed . . . born again(John 3:3). The ONLY way to the Father is through belief in Jesus Christ (John 14:6) Jesus Himself makes it very plain . . .
Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life."
(Revelation 22:10-17) How many of us joyfully await His coming? How many do we know who have no idea? Do you know???? It is not too late?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Identity Crisis

In the last days, God says,I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."
(Acts 2:17-18) The prophet Joel mentioned this. (Joel 2:28-32)Before Christ returns, he will empower peopel to speak for Him. This power is from the Holy Spirit . . . giving believers power and boldness beyond human understanding to stand for God and proclaim: "thus sayeth the Lord". The Holy Spirit is not a thing we get when we want it. It is not a phenomenon we feel when a special song is played. The Holy Spirit is a person . . . the third person of God. It was given to us by the Lord when He returned to heaven to help the believer, guide the believer, and convict the believer. (John 14:15-21) Being baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) is an identification with the Father just as Christ was baptized by John. (John 1:32-34) Jesus saves . . . not baptism, not church attendance, not serving in ministry . . . Yet we have an Identity Crisis today in our life as CHRISTians. We identify with certain preachers. We identify with a particular musical artists or song. We identify with a particular fad or movement.But we can not come to identify with the Savior and all He calls us to as believers. Some things we just cannot get! We cannot identify with the Holy Spirit within us! We cannot agree with Him! We are seeking the Spirit. We are waiting to get the Spirit. We are searching for guidance, answers, peace of mind, and hope. Yet Jesus promised His disciples of just that . . . in the person of the ZHoly Spirit.(John 16:7-15) Once saved, we have the Holy Spirit! We cannot turn it on or off.He is there inside of us . . . desiring to rule in our lives. Will we identify with Him? Are willing to be used and controlled as those who spoke in Acts 2? As the Spirit works within us, our outward actions will draw others to identify with the Savior as well! (Acts 2:36-47)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ready for a New Start?

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us,and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
(Psalm 117) The great thing about our God is that He is never-changing. He IS faithful! Yet as He is faithful, He is full of surprises each and every day! This is what makes the Christian life so abundant and so worth living! Each day HIS-tory is being written upon your life and mine . . . and all to His glory! Jeremiah knew this despite his disappointments and struggles . . .
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
(Lamentations 3:22-25) I realize more than most the ups and downs of life. Since becoming a disciple of Christ twenty years ago, my life has been full of ups and downs: single fatherhood, family disappointments, remarriage, adoptions, leaving stable job for mission life, family illnesses, rebellious children, receiving degrees from seminary, vacations, loss of jobs, cancer scares, and on and on . . . but God remains good! I may not always like what God allows or even His discipline, yet I still trust Him with my life. (Job 13:15) So even if yesterday was a bad day . . . God is here today waiting for you and me! Are you ready for a new start? Invite God in . . .

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Life or Death . . . You Decide!

But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. (Ezekiel 18:21) Many folks are wandering around in life not just lost, but lost without hope. God's Word is full hope and encouragement. We simply need to read it, share it, and live it out so others may see the hope God offers! Though we all will experience illness, disease, and eventually physical death, one need not experience spiritual death . . . eternal separation from God. Being secure in God for eternity requires a personal decison to turn from sinful ways and follow after the things of God! We make decisions every day . . . hard ones! Which bills do I pay first . . . Is it possible for the family to go on a vacation this year . . . What is more important, longer hours, a second job, or less things and more time at home with family? The vital decisions concerning life are answered day after day, yet we ignore the eternal decision . . . Do I choose life or death? Joshua made the decision many years ago: "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) We too must make the decision for ourselves. The writer of Hebrews reiterated what the psalmist wrote: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15, Psalm 95:7,8) I thank God that He pursued me. I thank God others loved me enough to challenge me to decide some twenty years ago. So what about you? Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . . (John 1:12) Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3) There is life in Christ . . . eternal life. Life or death . . . YOU decide!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Price for Freedom?

My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.”
(Galatians 5:13) What a price Christ paid for our freedom from sin! All the suffering, pain, mistreatment, embarrassment and humiliation; not to mention leaving the comforts of heaven to live in a sin-sick world and the give Himself over to such treatment…for His enemies…we sinners! Yes, he did it all for me, for you, and for anyone who will humble oneself and call on Jesus to save them from sin. In our recent history, many people have also sacrificed much for the freedoms we celebrate and often take for granted. Countless numbers of men and women have sacrificed their bodies and lives for our freedom in wars all over the world. But it is not just the soldiers. President Lincoln sacrificed his reputation and ultimately his life along with others in order to abolish the horror of slavery. A gentle lady by the name of Ms. Rosa Parks was tired and needed to sit down on a bus in Mobile, Alabama in 1955. Dr. Martin Luther King took up the charge for the freedoms of all citizens and eventually paid the ultimate price for those freedoms. Many lost their lives during the struggles of the late 1960’s in the cities throughout the U.S., including Senator Bobby Kennedy. These folks did not use their freedoms to sin or the lack of freedoms to inflict harm either. They chose a gentle yet persuasive manner to bring to light the transgressions of our society and were willing to pay whatever price necessary to bring about change. They did not back down to political pressure, verbal threats, or physical harm. We are challenged by God’s Word to stand firm and unmovable.(1 Corinthians 15:58) We are told that God will go with us through the valleys (Psalm 23:4)and just as He did with Daniel and his friends (Daniel 3:26-27), He will bring us through fiery trials and the fiercest enemies. We have no liberty to sin, run, or hide. We as believers have the freedom and boldness to stand. Do not be afraid to get involved. Do not be afraid to be called politically incorrect, unpopular, or strange! After all, we are a called out and peculiar people. (1 Peter 2:9) Call sin what it is . . . in love so others will come to know the Savior! Stand my brothers and sisters in the liberty of God’s grace and mercy. Stand boldly clothed in the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) Stand by faith. Stand on His promises. Stand together! Will we pay THE PRICE FOR FREEDOM today? Yes, we can and yes, we will!

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...