Friday, August 31, 2012

Jesus paid it all!

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:337-39)
Jesus felt the pain and suffering of not only our sin, but being seperated from the Father. Why did God forsake Jesus? It was because Jesus had to bear the pain and suffering for us, so we would not have to feel this pain: being seperated from God for eternity! God can have no part of sin. He is holy, holy, holy! But because Jesus bore the shame, the pain, and the disgrace for us, the holy of holies is now open for all who come humbly in repentance to a holy God. The curtain was torn in two from the top down as God made Himself available to all mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus. We can now come before God and seek His forgiveness. No longer do we need anyone else to offer sacrifice for us . . . Jesus paid it all! Jesus is the answer. He is the only way to God . . . the only way to heaven! In a world of mixed messages, political rhetoric, and empty promises, Jesus has the answers. It's not a new budget plan. It's not a new tax, more taxes, or less taxes. Jesus paid it all! We have only one thing to do . . . .
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.(Hebrews 4:16)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

STAND

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Mark 15:29-32)
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me. We have all herd this saying a few times in life. So did Jesus! Not only did folks insult Him with words, they spit upon Him, slapped Him, and beat Him . . .and the brutally murdered Him upon a cross. yet it was by God's design to save each one of us! What does God have in mind for you and me? Will we not suffer insult? Should we not come to expect ridicule if we remain faithful to our calling as believers? Why then do we seek such an easy life? We cannot be ashamed of the Gospel. We cannot stand for our God to be mocked and ridiculed. We must take a stand and not back down . . . in the market place, on the job, and in our communities. We must not allow our leaders to constantly trash the values of the Bible and ignore Scriptural principles in which we believe. We must be willing to stand! It remains a verse that I must keep at the forefront:
As for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)
. . . even if it is not politically or socially correct!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Be sure of you status

"What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.“Crucify him!” they shouted. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.(Mark 15:12-15)
What are we willing to die for . . . a cause, our families? What are we willing to live for? A life dedicated to the Lord requires sacrifice each and every day. It involves dying to our selfish desires and doing what we do not necessarily want to to do! We must sacrifice, time, resources, friendships, comforts, yes, even our very lives at times. We often read the passages above and concetrate upon Jesus, which is appropriate. But let us view Barabbas for a moment. Here he was, a murderer, se free simply because he happened to be in the right place at the right time. The people needed a scapegoat . . . one to set free, and he was chosen. Are we not Barabbas? Jeus died for us . . . taking all the pain and suffering on our behalf. yet many times we are like Barabbas . . . we simply get lost in the crowd. We get saved and no one hears of us anymore. Really . . . .? Beware that we do not become lost in the crowd, simply wandering through life believing we are free and clear of sin and its consequences. A Christian life dedicated to the Lord has a price . . . sacrifice! What are we doing as a result of being set free from sin? Be sure of you status!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are we willing to live for Him?

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. (Mark 14:61-62)
Who is Jesus? A great man. . . a prophet . . . a wonderful teacher . . . a moral leader? Many believe Jesus existed, but how many actually beleive He is God in the flesh . . . the Promised One of God . . . the Redeemer . . . the Christ? Jesus went to the cross for you and me becuase He knew Who He was and knew what He had to do. The question is: Do we know Him for Who He is and what He has done for us? Is He our Christ . . . your only Savior and mine? Do we believe and are we willing to die for Him? Even more importantly; are we willing to live for Him so others may know Who He is?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Call out to Daddy today

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36)
Our kids are hurting today . . . . many adults are in serious pain today . . . much of it is due to the lack of a relationship with a father. Jesus cried out to His Daddy in the verses above, knowing what was about to occur. He was about to face the cross and He knew God the Father would have to leave His presence. God could not be a part of the sin Jesus would have to carry to the crucifixion. He would do it alone! How many of us have had to face much of life's struggles alone? How many children, young males and females alike, have had to go through life with a dad who is absent, uncaring, or too busy? How many have never felt or heard the words "I love you" from a father? Jesus knew His Father's love. He could go to Him at any time and at any place and know He was there. has it been that way for us? Can we fathers say the same about our children? How many times have we failed them? Thank God for grace! Through a relationship with the Heavenly Father we all can recover lost time. It may be too late to know our dad well or repair a relationship with our children, but God is always there to fill the void.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families . . .(Psalm 68:5-6)
It is never too late to cry out to God! Jesus did it often . . . even upon the cross. We all need our Father! Even the best of dads fall short every day. In a world where fathers have failed, there is one who never fails. Call out to Daddy today . . .

Saturday, August 25, 2012

This gives me peace!

I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil. I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws. Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands. (Psalm 119: 162-166)
No doubt, I love the Lord! Please do not read anything else into this entry. I truly love my Savior and all He has done for me. I may never understand why, but I am so very greatful! Like the psalmist, I seem to be talking to Him all throughout the day, even in my sin if you can understand. You see, I am not claiming to be perfect . . . far from it. Perhaps like you, I cannot understand why I keep sinning when I know how much Christ has done for me. I do not want to , but like Paul, it is that sin within me that causes me constant conflict!(Romans 7:15-25) Yet I praise God for His grace, His mercy, and His longsuffering kindness towards me! Like the songwriter penned and sang, "I don't know why Jesus loves me . . . oh but I'm glad . . . so glad . . ." At the end of the day . . . even my worst days . . . I know Jesus loves me! Whether I have been wronged, talked about, mistreated, or just plain forgotten throughout the day . . . Jesus loves me! This gives me peace! I will wait for the good days to come . . . and they will. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not until I see my Jesus . . . but good days will come. Despite the struggles, I long for for those days and keep pressing forward . . . . Jesus is working things out! (Romans 8:28)

Monday, August 20, 2012

We have denied Jesus!

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Mark 14:17-20)
Let's face it . . . we all have done it in one way or another at more than one time in our lives. We have denied Jesus! I know we all want to put the blame on Judas . . . even Adam and Eve! But the truth is that we all have denied Jesus at some points along the way . . . inapropriate movies, coarse office joking, cheating on tests, aggressive driving . . . Yet as we read along in the Bible, we read that all of us fall short (Romans 3:23) yes all of us, even the greatest. Moses murdered and his anger got the best of him. Abraham lied and nearly lost Sarah. Remember when Sarah laughed at God? Even the might Peter denied Jesus on the very night He was arrested! So what is the differnce between Judas and the rest? Repentance!!!! Jesus forgives freely but we must freely and whole-heartedly repent. Repent means to turn away from and feel the guilt and shame of our sin. A simple "I'm sorry" does not cut it! Just as we desired sin, we must desire His cleansing! Jesus paid a terrible price for each of our sins and we must be willing to pay the price of discipleship! Are we willing to deny the world and follow Him!

Friday, August 17, 2012

"The heck with what people might think!"

Jesus was in Bethany. He was at the table in the home of a man named Simon, who had a skin disease. A woman came with a special sealed jar of very expensive perfume. It was made out of pure nard. She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus' head. Some of the people there became angry. They said to one another, "Why waste this perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's pay. The money could have been given to poor people." So they found fault with the woman. "Leave her alone," Jesus said. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. You will always have poor people with you. You can help them any time you want to. But you will not always have me. (Mark 14:3-7)
How dedicated are we really to serving God . . . every day. What are we willing to do, to sacrifice, to commit to, to change, to leave? World class athletes do not become excellent over night. Top doctors and scientists do not achieve excellence by giving up a weekend or an evening or two. When is the last time we even thought about goin absolutley crazy for the sake of God's Kingdom and said "the heck with what people might think"! The woman in the verses above did not care about the cost of her perfume. She did not care about what it could bring on the open market. She chose to invest all she had in Jesus . . . now there's some wise economical for this day! Money, friends, family, time . . . all are very valuable and cherished commodities. But at what price . . . .? A life dedicated to God's work rarely pays off here on earth. Family does not often understand . . . in fact they question our dedication. Our retirement plan does not always line up with the leading economic advice from financial experts. Employment opportunities are not so lucrative or abundant for Scripture scholars, bible teachers, or others fully educated, licensed, or degreed in God's academics! The pay rarely compares to the smart jobs. I have often said that money is simply a tool for ministry. A needed tool , but simply a tool. There are more important tools in tool box however! There must first be a desire and dedication to serve! There is a cost to consider! "The heck with what people might think" . . . as for me and my house, well you know the rest! (Joshua 24:15) Off to work . . . .

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Be on guard! Be alert!

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:32-37)
Mark 13:10 syas that the kingdom of God would be preached to all nations . . .Some say this has already occurred. . . . Some say there are still pockets of people groups (ethnos)yet to be reached with the Gospel. If nothing else, we all do realize wknow that God's Word has been shared in every way possible today . . . by word of mouth, in churches, on street corners, in written word, via internet, cable and satellite TV! If nothing else, we need to "be on guard and be alert" as Jesus warned. We can point to false teachers, persecutions of Christians, wars everywhere, natural disasters, famines, economic woes . . . many have had the opportunity to testify to political leaders and others on a world stage. Are we not closer to Christ's return than ever? Is the time not ripe? Do we expect Christ to return? Are we looking forward to His return? Why or why not?
He who gives witness to these things says, "Yes. I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

God first . . . but then other responsibilities . . .

They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of honor. You don't let others tell you what to do or say. You don't care how important they are. But you teach the way of God truthfully. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?" But Jesus knew what they were trying to do. So he asked, "Why are you trying to trap me? Bring me a silver coin. Let me look at it." They brought the coin. He asked them, "Whose picture is this? And whose words?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. And give to God what belongs to God." (Mark 12: 14-17)
There are guidelines, laws, and regulations all throughout society . . . some may be a bit restrictive but they are intended to keep us safe, provide for us, and provide for those in need. Yes, people do abuse many of the things provided for citizens of this nation, yet we still are the best nation in the world! Even as our society seems to be going down quickly morally, it is our responsibility as Christian citizens to honor God first, but then other responsibilities. God is always first, but as believers, we must set the example as good citizens as well. Here is a small list of things we as CHRISTians can use to check ourselves when going through life: *Do we do the speed limit, use turn signals, stop before turning on red? *Are we honest on our personal tax returns? *Do we clock in and out on time at work? *Are we participating in local and national government decision making (voting, letter writing, interacting with our government representatives)? *Do we watch R-rated movies just because we are over 17? *Do we enjoy or allow the office gossip and course joking? *Are we tithing at least the minimum? We are not in this world to hide, but to participate! We are to influence this world, not be controlled by it. We are in this world as a Godly influence to change it, not of this world to be changed by it.(Romans 12:2) The guidelines our society are generally biblically based moral laws. Abiding by them is usually not going to cause us to disobey God. However, there is coming a time (and it has happened in the recent past) that we must stand up and disagree with the politically correct and face the consequences. We must however, honor God first when doing so! Are we getting too comfortable in this society? Should we be? What are the challenges we face today and in the coming years? How will we set the standard for our children and grandchildren?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Let It Go!

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11: 25-26)
Contrary to some teachings and beliefs, God does NOT give us everything we ask for . . . and thank God He does not! How spoiled would we be with no correction and all the candy we ever wanted! But even if we are asking according to the will of God for our lives, there is still one thing we need to be sure we are doing . . . forgiving others! What an oxymoron to say we are forgiven by God yet hold grudges and bitterness toward others. We cannot lift our hands and hearts to God with bitterness, envy, or hatred toward other people. Our hands must be holy (1 Timothy 2:8), but in order for our hands to holy our hearts must be pure. God does not want any sacrifice from us, even our prayers, if we are holding grudges against others. If we remain bitter because of how we have been treated, yet ask God to treat us well, it will not work. We must realize how far down God has stooped to save us from our sin and be willing to humble ourselves with those whom have harmed us in one way or another. The model prayer instructs us to forgive others as God forgives us . . . (Matthew 6:12). Forgiveness has healing power . . . bitterness kills at the heart. Even if people will not accept forgiveness or apologies, it frees us up in our relationship with the Father. Paul warns us not to sleep on anger, bitterness, or other evil thoughts (Ephesians 4:26-27). If we count on the fact that God forgives us, then we must be quick to repair our actions against others and their acctions toward us. A good lesson for us all . . . let it go . . .!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Too Much . . . Too Little . . . or Too Late?

Many people spread their coats on the road. Others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those in front and those in back shouted, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Psalm 118:25-26) "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" (Mark 11:8-10)
A parade fit for a king indeed and so many came to be a part of it . . . was it too much, too little or were they too late? I wonder how many came just for the ceremony . . . to be a part of the crowd, just in case Jesus really would become King and take over Jerusalem from Roman rule? Yet if Jesus was the King, why so little . . . why so quiet . . .was it too late for the people? People proclaimed Jesus as the coming King, extending the reign of David. Yet s few days later they would call for His death! What Jesus was offering was too much for them, gave them too little at the present time, and the people were way too late to accept jesus' terms. Many of us today expect way too much from the Savior . . . bless me Jesus, but don't require too much of me! We refuse to commit to what Jesus' demands from His children. We sacrifice way too little! Sadly, even today, many are simply too late! They have allowed Jesus to pass them by as the latest fad but not quite enough for their needs. What Jesus offers (then and now)is not for the present. Oh, there are blessings for sure, but not all the time. We will suffer . . . as followers of Christ and at times simply be cause we live in a world full of selfishness, greed, and evil! Yet Jesus offers eternal happiness. It comes with a sacrificial price. We must accept life on His terms or have no life at all. Is Jesus asking too much . . . are we getting too little in return . . . are we too late? Listen to the words of King David . . .
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. (Psalm 32:6-10)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Way Too Much . . .

"Teacher," he said, "I have obeyed all those commandments since I was a boy." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "You are missing one thing," he said. "Go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me." The man's face fell. He went away sad, because he was very rich. Jesus looked around. He said to his disciples, "How hard it is for rich people to enter God's kingdom!" The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter God's kingdom! Is it hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? It is even harder for the rich to enter God's kingdom!" The disciples were even more amazed. They said to each other, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man, that is impossible. But not with God. All things are possible with God." (Mark 10:20-27)
We all know the story of the rich, young ruler . . . he left the presence of the Savior dejected because he could not let go of his possessions and competely follow Jesus. The things had a hold on him! The eye of a needle refers to a small opening in the city's walls whereby one could enter once the city gates had been closed. It was only enough room for one to enter. The camel had to be unloaded of all supplies and enter on its knees! There was no room for excess baggage. What a visual image . . . I wonder about you and me. What are we still holding onto that keeps us from completely following our Savior? Is it a relationship, a partnership, a position, a title, a financial investment? What is more important than 100% devotion and trust in the One who holds our very life in His hands? Personally, I often feel like the rich, young ruler; ending the day saddened because I have not given it all for Jesus. How 'bout you? I know He can meet all my needs, yet I still trust in me way too often! The disciples asked a very honest question following Jesus' words: "Then who can be saved?" Only God can save us . . . but we must do our part . . . we must commit. We have way too much in this world. All we really need is Jesus! He must be our focus!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Letter From John . . .

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the believers. You are faithful even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please help them by sending them on their way in a manner that honors God. They started on their journey to serve Jesus Christ. They didn't receive any help from those who aren't believers. So we should welcome people like them. We should work together with them for the truth. I wrote to the church. But Diotrephes won't have anything to do with us. He loves to be the first in everything. So if I come, I will point out what he is doing. He is saying evil things about us to others. Even that doesn't satisfy him. He refuses to welcome other believers. He also keeps others from welcoming them. In fact, he throws them out of the church. Dear friend, don't be like those who do evil. Be like those who do good. Anyone who does what is good belongs to God. Anyone who does what is evil hasn't really seen or known God.
(3 John 1:5-11) Can you imagine anyone who names the name of Jesus Christ rejecting those who give their lives for the sake of the Gospel. I could not either until I received the rejection for myself. Not everyone . . . even fellow believers, believes that those who have been seperated for His service should be supported by others in the Body. Yet this is the way the Church was designed, even from the beginnings as John is instructing here. John is the Elder, the oldest living apostle and the only one of the original twelve still alive. Here he is applauding Gaius for his love of the Truth but also how he supports those who bring the Truth by way of travelling mission work. John encourgages Gaius (and us today) to welcome these workers, work with them, and support their work. Christian workers should not have to rely upon the world to support themselves and their families. Even from the days of the Old Testament, God instructed the people to support the priests (Levites) as they had no land nor resources of their own, aside from what was seperated for them. (Deuteronomy 14:27-29) I must sadly say that I have even heard the opinion that such workers (pastors, ministers, and missionaries) should not be expected to be supported by the Church or the members! Like the days John is writng from, there are still Diotrephes in our midst! However, if one is called to serve God full time with preaching, teaching,serving, and more, how can he be prepared (study, prayer and preparation)if he is busy working and worrying about his personal needs? Even when the apostles were sent out, Jesus basically let them know that they would be cared for:
These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
(Mark 6:8-11) In this letter from John, I pray we take it seriously. What will our response be to God when He says this to each of us:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
(Matthew 25:35-40) Even if the pastors, ministers, missionaries and others who are serving the Body full time are not worthy in our finite sight, is Jesus not worthy of our support? John said he would soon come to deal with those in Asia Minor in person.(3 John 1:13-14) Jesus too will soon be coming in person to inquire of you and me! I tremble when I think of what I will say to Him . . . .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mission work:The labor is not cheap or free!

Don't we have the right to eat and drink? Don't we have the right to take a believing wife with us when we travel? The other apostles do. The Lord's brothers do. Peter does. Or are Barnabas and I the only ones who have to work for a living? Who serves as a soldier but doesn't get paid? Who plants a vineyard but doesn't eat any of its grapes? Who takes care of a flock but doesn't drink any of the milk? Do I say that from only a human point of view? The Law says the same thing. Here is what is written in the Law of Moses. "Do not stop an ox from eating while it helps separate the grain from the straw."(Deuteronomy 25:4) Is it oxen that God is concerned about? Doesn't he say that for us? Yes, it was written for us. When a farmer plows and separates the grain, he does it because he hopes to share in the crop. We have planted spiritual seed among you. Is it too much to ask that we receive from you some of the things we need? Others have the right to receive help from you. Don't we have even more right to do so? But we didn't use that right. No, we have put up with everything. We didn't want to keep the good news of Christ from spreading. Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple? Don't you know that those who serve at the altar eat from what is offered on the altar? In the same way, those who preach the good news should receive their living from their work. That is what the Lord has commanded. But I haven't used any of those rights. And I'm not writing because I hope you will do things like that for me. I would rather die than have anyone take away my pride in my work. But when I preach the good news, I can't brag. I have to preach it. How terrible it will be for me if I do not preach the good news! If I preach because I want to, I get a reward. If I preach because I have to, I'm only doing my duty. Then what reward do I get? Here is what it is. I am able to preach the good news free of charge. And I can do it without making use of my rights when I preach it. I am free. I don't belong to anyone. But I make myself a slave to everyone. I do it to win as many as I can to Christ.
(1 Corinthians 9:4-19) Paul is speaking to people here . . . not the church! It is not the church body's job to support missions . . . it is the individual believer who is challenged to support the work of those who have been called out of thre world to share the Good News in the communities! Thank God for the pastors who support missions with the church finances, but all believers need to give! When missionaries, and preachers have to work outside of where God has called them, the ministry suffers . . .the people suffer . . . people's needs are not met! Needless to say . . . we all suffer and God is not pleased. My wife and I were called by God to bring children from at-risk to at-home one family at a time back in 1997 when we first married. Since then we have used up our retirement, savings, and every dime we have earned to serve God, those he sends our way, and meet our family needs. Never have we charged for what we do. Many of you support our work . . . some since 1997! You have seen the blessings . . . However, many have witnessed what God is doing and stay on the sidelines. We hear that we are doing a noble work. We are told we have been foolish at times. We have even been called a bit crazy for leaving our jobs . . . by believers! Yes, we believe seving God is noble. Yes, we are fools for Christ! And yes, it is crazy to obey God in this world!!! However, we did! I get excited every time I witness God at work . . . a teenager gives his or life to Christ . . . a single mom becomes convicted to change her lifestyle . . .a toddler prays to have Jesus come into his heart! This is all God . . . we are simply there for Him to use. Many lives have changed because God has used us. God has fed the homeless, brought children into our home to live, paid for schooling, tutored, counseled, and mentored young lives. Have you been a part of that? Do you desire to witness these things? You too can experience this joy! Right now we have a young man living with us for the next year or so. His mom has asked that we take him in and see if we can change his life. We cannot . . . only God can do that. . . But we are willing to try! Will you partner with us? The labor is not cheap or free! Since 1999, TSN has been operating at less than 40% funding. God fills in the remainder. But this year, we are asking God to fully fund our ministry so more can be reached . . . so more lives can be rescued from hell! It is getting late!!!! Please pray and commit to giving to God so He may give to The Sparrows' Nest Ministries, Inc. It is an investment in eternity and an investment God wants us all to make. Give today at www.tsnministries.orgy

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Misfits

Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are you when people make fun of you and hurt you because of me. You are also blessed when they tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. Be joyful and glad. Your reward in heaven is great. In the same way, people hurt the prophets who lived long ago. You are the salt of the earth. But suppose the salt loses its saltiness. How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything. It will be thrown out. People will walk all over it. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can't be hidden. Also, people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine in front of others. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will praise your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:10-16) We all will not fit in! Not everyone is cut from the same mold or walks the same walk. Like the misfits from the Rudolph's Christmas show, some of us never fit in! While we all enjoy being liked , the fact is we as believers should get used to being the outcasts, the ridiculed, the left out, the peculiar,and the misfits!
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light . . .
(1 Peter 2:9) KJV The Greek (laos eis peripoiēsin) means, a people for a possession; that is, as pertaining to God. We believers are a people which He has secured as a possession, or as His own; a people, therefore, which belong to Him, and to no other. In this sense we are special as being His; and, being such, it may be inferred that we should be special in the sense of being unlike others (unique) in our manner of life. This shows one great object for which believers were redeemed. It was that we might proclaim the glory of God, and keep up the remembrance of His wondrous deeds in the earth. It should not unusual to be ridiculed in the world. We are to be different . . . one goal in mind and that is to bring glory to God. We should not blend in well! Do not be surprised however if we are also a bit uncomfortable within the church setting. I am of the belief that not everyone in the church is redeemed nor are we all in step with what God is calling us to do in life. So be encouraged. . . . Be salty. . . Be different . . .But be sure to be a light for God so He may get the spotlight!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

those who serve to be seen and those who are always seen serving

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:1-12) This period (August) is the twentieth anniversary of my new start in life. My daughter had asked Jesus into her life and she was baptized during a Vacation Bible School at a little Baptist church on a hill in Landover, MD. After witnessing her baptism and new membership into God's family, I was moved to find out the facts about this Jesus! I was raised in a traditional denominational church since my birth but was never really shown the Gospel in plain English. Oh, I read the Bible, I believed in God, but yet there was something missing. I still believed I was never good enough or could do enough to be a friend of Jesus. I could never get that close to Him! In high school, I did get some deeper facts concerning the message in the Gospels, yet I still had no personal contact with the God I knew existed. After a failed marriage of eight years, a beautiful baby girl whom I was now raising on my own, and a really hurtful relationship with a close friend, Jesus finally reached my heart. He did this through my daughter and the little church on the hill in 1993! After my daughter's salvation and baptism, I asked the minister to tell me what happened. He came to visit me and personally shared the Bible with me showing me in plain English that I was a sinner (Romans 3:23); that I needed a Savior (Romans 6:23); that it had to be personal (Romans 10:9-10); that God would hold me accountable (Romans 14:12) and that only if I chose to believe would I have that relationship I so desperately sought after (John 1:12). God's Word reassured me that my sin could be wiped away (1 John 1:12). Needles to say, I prayed for Christ to forgive me, yake over my life, and He began our journey to this day! Boy has life changed! He changed me from a nice guy (on the outside)who would do anything for anyone . . . as long as he got the recognition to a nice guy who simply wanted to help. Before, when I fell short, I would get angry . . . why him, why not me? Jesus took this same person and let me know that it was never about me . . . it is all about HIM and others. He gave me some special gifts to share His Word with everyone I come in contact with. He gave me a desire to learn of Him and share that knowledge with others. Hhe gave me a relationship with Him to trust in what He allowed for me. He gave to me a faith to walk away from a secular job and trust Him to provide as I work for Him. He even allowed me a second chance in marriage . . . as long as we lived the marriage out for His glory. So twenty years later I have been blessed with a personal relationship with a loving and faithful God and Savior. I have the most beautiful, awesome, dedicated bride of fifteen years. I have four wonderful children and five fabulous grandchildren. I have a church home that has taught me, disciplined me, encouraged me, and supported us throughout.God has allowed us to serve more than 2,200 people through our outreach ministry (www.tsnministries.org) and raise at least twenty-eight children within the walls of our home from time to time. In fact, one is with us now! In fifteen years of full-time ministry, we have never charged for our services and yet God (and through his people)has provided. Why do I say all this? I am still both awed and upset at the level of service within our churches! I see two dynamics at work: those who serve to be seen and those who are always seen serving. It has been said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I would also offer this observation: many who are serving only serve when they can be seen doing so! I see folks seeking titles and positions rather than seeking opportunities to serve. I see folks elevated for what they do, yet when a chair needs to be folded up, a table needs to be cleaned, a floor needs to be mopped, or a toilet needs to be cleaned . . . well . . . I have come to learn that the most effective ministry takes place in the shadows, not in the spotlight. Many times the hardest workers are never recognized . . . no one really knows the amount of sacrifice, hardship, and struggles these folks go through. Pastors who stay up late, get up early, and give of their own money. . . . retired gentlemen who are at the church before anyone arrives and after everyone leaves . . . moms who stay late to care for toddlers left beyond the pick-up times . . . those who sacrificially support mission work locally and around the world with financial support, personal gifts, meals and more . . . the list goes on and on. I want to say "Thank you" to those who give to the Lord so He can continue to give to the labor of the Gospel! Your labor is not in vain. Great is your reward!

Friday, August 3, 2012

What Footprints Will We Leave Behind?

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'"
(Matthew 25:31-34) We hear a lot about our carbon footprint that we are leaving behind. The fossil fuels we burn daily are not without their influence upon our environment. Coal, oil, gasoline, charcoal, cigarette smoke, fire places, waste dumps . . . all leave their impact upon our world. What about our spiritual footprint? What are we doing with all the energy we expend in our day-to day lives? Do we waste more energy complaining and trying to get even that we do making a positive impact on our culture? When we face injustice, difficulties, and opposition, we need to discover how we can use our energy efficiently. We get much more accomplished when Christ is the chief of our decisions and actions. We must rely upon Him. We only have so many days upon this earth. We only have so many days to influence others. We only have so much energy. Why not use it wisely and effectively for Kingdom purposes rather than selfish gain? Let's seek to make things righteous rather than to make ourselves look right. When given the opportunity, let's be sure to bring God glory rather that place ourselves on the podium. When we have the microphone, let's sing God's praises rather than our own accomplishments. God does not want to know what have you done for me lately. He wants to know what are we doing . . . present tense. When we are gone, what footprints will we leave behind? Are they leading the people we influenced to Christ? If the world is a stage, than we must be telling God's story . . . making HIS-tory!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

To Do . . . WHAT?

"What I'm about to tell you is true," Jesus replied. "Has anyone left home or family or fields for me and the good news? They will receive 100 times as much in this world. They will have homes and families and fields. But they will also be treated badly by others. In the world to come they will live forever. 31 But many who are first will be last. And the last will be first."
(Mark 10:29-30) How many of the things on our To Do List make a real difference in our future? Does this list lead us away from or to the important things in our lives? Are we focused on our life's priorities or just getting through this day? In Mark 10, Jesus tells the story of the rich young ruler who had it all, but could not make Jesus his priority. He had things to do yet . . . He had a list to complete before totally trusting the Lord! How about you and me? Will we put Christ first and trust Him with the To Do List? I must admit, I have been struggling with this a lot lately . . . What good is to accomplish things on this daily To Do List when it makes no real difference in my life? Sure, I get things done, but to what goal? I want to bring glory to God. I want to bring others closer to Him. I want to make an eternal impact with every day of my life . . . but life gets in the way! Like most of us, I often wonder . . . Is my life making any significant contribution to the Kingdom of God? Real work for the Lord must involve people, yet people can be the biggest challenge. Despite our best efforts, people will be disappointed. We will fall short of their expectations of us. We will be rejected. We will be embarrassed. We will be ridiculed. At times, we bring it upon ourselves and other times it is simply life happening around us. We live in a sin-filled world and many if not most will reject a dedicated disciple of Christ . . . even many believers! Have you ever been called a fanatic . . . a freak . . . over the edge? I am reading a book now which attempts to describe the life of Peter from Peter's perspective. In the book Peter struggles with a total commitment to Jesus Christ the person. Peter is looking for a successful business venture, a way to provide more foe his family. He finally realizesthat he must give up his ways for a total reliance upon Jesus to provide. He can no longer depend upon the world or the people in it! Once Peter totally trusted Christ, his life and the life of many others changed! (Matthew 16:16) We all have a list . . . but To Do . . . WHAT? It is time!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Foundations of Life

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers,and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
(Psalm 91:1-6) What are your foundations of life? What holds you up day by day? What, if it is shaken, will rattle your life to the core? The Bible teaches us that those who trust in God . . . those who place their faith and hope in Him . . . those who build their lives upon the Rock . . . (Matthew 7:24) will not be shaken, but live upon solid ground. We all have put our faith in our jobs, our degrees, our skills, our friends, even our families. Perhaps the credit cards, the bank account, or the retirement plan give some of us security. It may even be a spouse. Not all the things listed are bad things, just not the most secure! I too am learning to trust God more and things and people less. I am NOT what I do, I am who I am in Christ! The only real secure thing in this world is a faith in the living and true God! It gives us peace, His presence, and assurance. God has been to the past . . . He has been to the future and back . . . He is here with us in the present. Trust Him . . . let go of things and people and place total trust in Him alone. He is the foundation of life!

Just so You Know

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