Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Daddy's Child

God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)
An adopted child has all the benefits of a legally born biological child. Of course, in our world this means insurance benefits, financial benefits, and the like. But with God, being sdopted into His family means so much more! We become an heir to the Kingdom . . . a child of the Heavenly Father . . . a prince to the King of kings! Once God has welcomed us into the family, we immediately become son or daughter, not the outsider. From slavery to freedom . . . from unwanted to part of royalty . . .from orphan a part of God's heavenly family.
What can we do with this new-found status as Daddy's Child but share with others the same opportunity?

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's not my life . . .

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
I've been crucified with Christ, He lives in me it's not my life . . . that's how we roll...
This is the rap some young friends from New Orleans wrote a few years ago in regards to their ministry in the aftermath of Katrina. (http://www.urbanimpact.org) Funny, on this day (October 29, 2012)when the East Coast is battling Hurricane Sandy, this verse becomes a way of life as well here! We live to honor Christ and serve others. Pastor John encourages all who serve Urban Impact in New Orleans to "love God with all you got and love peole 'til you drop!". I am so grateful to those who have taught me how to really serve (Pastor John, Pastor Mike, John, Kevin, Dingo, Tre,Terry, Jeremy, Katie, and so many more . . .) I try to live out these two great commandments each day I have remaining here on earth. It is a challenge for sure, but a real encouragement that it is not about me, but Christ and others . . . not just in times of disaster, but every day!
So how can we bless others thisday and cause them to praise our God? (John 15:8)

Friday, October 26, 2012

The change is evident !

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles . . . only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. (Galatians 1:13-20)
A change that is radically visible . . . this is what happens when the Holy Spirit enters one's life. The change is evident in one's walk, his talk, and decisions he makes in life. Others should be able to see a new way of thinking, a different motivation, maybe just a subtle change in lifestyle . . . but a change nonethelesss.
One cannot claim to have accepted Christ and not change somehow.
Paul went from killing Christians to being the greatest advocate for the Savior . . . even puting his own life in danger! What change has occurred in your life? I am sure you can list them. I know I can. Though I have a L O N G way to go, I can count the changes God has made in my life! From my thought process, my priorities in life, how I think of others, even to my career; God has changed me from the inside out! Wow . . . . Think of your life . . . If you are like me, you will thank God for the changes. I can see where I was headed 20 years ago! Yes, He indeed SAVED me! Yet I have so far to go to say I am pleasing God every day. It seems as as the hours go by, I can number the ways I have disappointed Him. Yet I can face another day because of His grace! (1 JOhn 1:9) No matter what tomorrow brings, I can rest assured that I am safe. Think back today and thank God for saving you . . . and if you have not responded yet, today is the day to ask Him to save you from your sin! (Hebrews 3:15) There is a storm coming . . . are you ready?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Saved . . . Really?

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you . . .unless, of course, you fail the test? (1 Corinthians 13:5)
It is good to ask the question at times:
"Am I saved . . . really saved?"
Saved from what . . . and by whom? Do I really need to be rescued? Many folks do not even realize there is a need to be saved. They have never been told that there is a sin nature in each of us (Romans 3:23) and that we all are good deep inside. That is not what the Bible teaches! None of us are good !(Romans 3:10). We can only be forgiven of of this sin nature by Jesus' blood. (Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9-10)It is only through Him that sin is forgiven by God the Father.(1 John 1:9) Only God knows His children and the only evidence of that is the way in which we live. So have we indeed been born again? (John 3:3) Is our relationship with God personal? (John1:12) Are we showing fruit in our lives? (Galatians 5:22-23) Do we want to obey God? (John 14:15) Just a few vital questions to ponder . . . Listen to Jesus' prayer for all who believe:
My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one,Father . . .that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:21)
Am I saved . . . really?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Graded on a Curve...

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
If Paul did not get and "A", then surely I would receive an "F"! Paul was the man. He had it going on! Yet he could boast upon nothing in comparison to what the Lord had done for him! Even though we have talents and accomplish some great things in life, it is simply because the Lord has allowed it and equipped us. Relying upon the grace of God to get by each day keeps us all grounded.
When it is all said and done and we all face the Lord, I am so relieved that we all will be graded on a curve!
The grade we receive in life will either be based upon our own efforts or upon the efforts of Jesus Christ upon the cross. I choose to allow His grace to get me through! So bring on the frustrations, the challenges, yes even the failures . . . I can still be victorious through Christ. Because of Him, my report card will read "Well done!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bouncin' Around . . .

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.(2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Thoughts and visions just bouncin' around in our heads every day as we witness so many strange activities day after day in ths world. Extreme videos and movies showing all kinds of violence and what was once unacceptable behaviors . . . even on the daily news. Reality shows that are far from our reality. Not to mention the absolute ridiculous fashion we eyeball each and every day worn by both males and females . . .
What is a CHRISTian to do . . . hide?
We are called to a different mind set and a different world view. I have learned the bounce technique from a popular men's study written in particular for those men (well all men really)that find themselves tempted by the various forms of sexual innuendo and provocation we witness in our daily walk. As we battle sexual tempation, we learn to take the unGodly visons and thoughts captive and put them in the mind's waste basket for trashing. We have to bounce our eyes from tempting sights and bounce our thoughts from ideas and plans that lead us from the Lord and His plans for us. In fact, this technique can work for women and children as well as we all face a world of crazy and simply ridiculous scenarios day after day at work, in the malls, on the streets, and in the privacy of our own homes on tv, internet and the like. It takes a working knowledge of what God desires for us and a personal accountablity to His Holy Spirit. It also takes transparency and honesty to admit our shortcomings and challenges both to ourselves and to others we can trust. We cannot fall for the traps satan sets withing culture, ethnic groups, or even families. So let's turn our eyes (and ears I might add)away from the vile and disgusting and make a pact with the Lord and one another (Job 31:1)to be different . . . to be holy( 1 Peter 1:16).
Let's keep bouncin' around the world with a mind on Christ and not the world!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I have to laugh at times . . .

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.(2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Reading thisthis morning, I have to admit, I have to laugh at times in my walk with God! I sit back and realize that it just does not make sense . . . to the world that is. Giving up good jobs with benefits to follow a calling that does not guarantee any immediate benefits, pleasures, or rewards. Turn my back to consistent pay, opportunities for all the overtime I could handle, paid vacations, and a sweet retirement package for a future hope? Give away all this for a life of sacrifice, service, and simple living . . . and be cheerful about it?
Oh yes, I have to laugh at times for sure!
It just does not add up for the common man, but for one who understands the plans of God for His children, it makes perfect sense! Once God gives eternal life, it is easy to live a life of giving back . . . so much so that it makes one laugh!

Friday, October 19, 2012

YOU make me smile today!

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.(2 Corinthians 8:9)
What an awesome serse for us today. Paul is encouraging others to be like our savior . . . sacrificial givers! I thank God for so many of you who give so others may have the necessities of life. I especially thank the Lord for the few who give to The Sparrows' Nest Ministries so my wife and I can meet the needs of the teens and families we serve weekly. It is in doing this that we exemplify the love of Christ for the entire world to see! No matter how little we have in our lives, there are always some others who need the things we take for granted! Perhaps it is an after-school snack, a cool drink, a hair style for an upcoming school function, maybe just a few encouraging words from an adult who cares . . . even an innocent hug that says "You matter to me!" Well, these are the things the youth we work with need anyway! We all love to share with others. We all love to see the smile upon the faces of thosew we can assist in some way.
Well, YOU make me smile today!
Thanks for giving to the Lord, so He in turn can give to us, so we then can give to those in need! God bless you all.
Visit us at www.tsnministries.org

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The joy of it!

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you . . . see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:3-7)
As missionaries, my wife and I have been able to experience the joy of being in rich supply and deep need . . . yes the joy of it! Being able to experience the blessings of God is so exciting and encouraging. When we have been able to have the things we want in life, the simple dsires of our heart, we cherish those times. It may be a vacation, a delicious dinner, a movie, or a get together with family or friends. Yet when we are in want and cannot possible meet our needs, it is these times when God steps in and works through His people . . . perhaps strangers to us . . . yet God knows our needs and still works through people to provide. This has been awesome! It is in these times when we are reminded that God will indeed supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19) as we seek Him and ask Him to do so. (Matthew 7:7) These times of want increase our faith and intensify our desire to serve the Lord even more. These times remind us that God is directly orchestrating our lives.
Oh, the joy of it . . . serving our great God!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Will the real CHRISTians please stand up?

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God,and they will be my people.” Therefore,“Come out from them and be separate,says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing,and I will receive you.” And,“I will be a Father to you,and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
We need to participate in the voting process as Christians. We need to be active and aware in what is going on in government. We need real CHRISTians to be a part of our government. How else will we be able to partner with fellow believers? It seems that most times, we have to choose between the lesser of the two evils. I don't know about you, but I want to vote for folks who I know will depend upon the Word of God when they are pressuerd to act. Unfortunately this is not the case with many of the choices e have today.
Will the real CHRISTians please stand up?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Not about the suffering . . .

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
We all are trying to extend our lives in some way. We work out. We diet. We are constantly trying new foods, new vitamins, and the like. Yet our bodies are still decaying day by day. While it is good to be healthy, we cannot avoid death! As we live for Christ, we will suffer hardships. Some of us may go through more than others. Yet the more we focus on Christ and less on us, we become better servants and more effective for Him. (James 1:2) So stay on that exercise program and get in the best physical shape possible. It will enable us to better serve and be more equipped to handle the struggles, physical and spiritual. However, remember that the heart must be focused on the will of God. No matter what we go through, if we remain focused on doing His will, we will please Him and that is really all that matters. We look forward to being with the Lord, yet we live now to please Him. What an opportunity we have have in the years ahead. Since we do not know how long we have on this earth, let's make the most of the days remaining!
It is not about our suffering, but our serving!

Friday, October 12, 2012

God has this!

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.(2 Corinthians 4:7-12)
I still am in awe of the fact that Jesus wants to use me! This broken human vessel . . . not just broken physically with arthritis, bursitis, and and other midle age afflictions, but a spiritual wreck as well. Most people would choose the best person available for a job, but God chose me? I sometimes wonder aloud what God saw in me? How could He possible think that I could be used (along with my bride) to help youth and families when we have a long way to go with our own family! It amazes me daily yet God did choose us and He continues to use us! So I know it must be Him and nothing about me. We face constant challenges. We face daily trials emotionally, physically, financially, and relationally. Yet God renews us daily as we remain dependent upon Him. We know we cannot possibly serve Him on our own merits . . . we have none! It is all His grace. It is Him living through us. I am nothing but a filthy rag in His sight and in most people's sight as well. What a privilege to serve our God! Not my life, but God living through me (Galatians 2:20). . . . am I am loving every minute of it knowing God has me in His hand! It may not always feel good or look great . . . but God has this!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

real freedom

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom(2 Corinthians 3:17)
Every wants to be free. Everyone wants their personal rights. Well, there is no freedom until one commits to Jesus Christ and becomes His disciple. Real freedom cannot be experienced until we release the shackles of sin and become a slave to Christ. This is only done by the sacrificial death of Jesus. He is the only way to real freedom! In a political age where promises are made and broken daily, Jesus' promises live out. (John 8:36) We are free to serve Christ.(Galatioans 5:13) It is He that now lives within us and through us. (Galatians 2:20) I am free from the burden of sin and free to live as a child of God, no longer trying to please everyone else!
But not because of anything I have done

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Living Epistles

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.(2 Corinthians 2:2-3)
We have heard it said that we Christians are living episitles, or letters, especially a formal or didactic ones; or in this case living communications of God's word to the world. What an awesome responsibility! So I often wonder what I am communicating to the world? I realize my living is not as powerful as Paul's. He was called to do what God had him to do. However, each of us has a story to tell; How God changed our lives and how we now live because of Him! Each moment we live writes another sentence, another paragraph, another chapter . . . God is writing HIS-tory through us for others to witness first-hand. Just as others saw Paul change before their very eyes our freinds, family, and associates should witness a transformation in our lives. We should not be who we were and not yet who we will be. What are others readng as a result of their relationship with us? Is it the truth about the God we claim to know or simply another action novel full of deception and lies? Are we living out the Gospel for all to see? I thank God for all those who have lived the Christian life in such a real way right before my eyes so I could experience Jesus for myself and ask Him into my life. It is my prayer that my life will do the same for smeone else!
God is still writin HIS-tory . . . .

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Security . . .anticipating the future

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (1 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Once saved, you can be sure the Holy Spirit will keep His end of the bargain. The question is;
"Are we keeping our end of the deal?"
Many claim to know Christ . . . but our actions reveal the real truth. God does not abandon His kids. He is a committed Father. Are we legitimate sons and daughters? It is time we check out whose side we are on and stand with that decision. We must know for sure and then remain dedicated to live for Him, becasue He has called us and equipped us to serve. Then we can withstand whatever comes our way . . . even anticipating the future . . .

Friday, October 5, 2012

no cure for life

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
We all wonder why we have so many bad things happen to us. Of course, it would be nice if we could just go through life with no major illnesses, no financial struggles, and no family issues. However, that is not so! We do live in world ruled by lusts and greed and there are obviously illnesses and disease that go along with this life as well. No one is immune and there is no cure for life!
But there is a Comforter . . .(John 14:16-26)
We have all the help we need in order to cope in Jesus. He has given us a second chance at life by His blood. He has cleansed us from the penalty of sin. He has even promised us abundant life. Jesus promised to send every believer the Holy Spirit to reside within each one of us as our personal assistant going through life. So why has He done all this?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Yes, there WILL be troubles. We will suffer in life. However, that suffering also allows and equips us to help others through. Just as Christ was with us, we can be with others in their time of need. We can actually learn from our struggles and even trust God all the more! We relate to others' hurts and to the sufferings of Jesus Himself! Yes bad things will happen. However, we have been warned . . . there is no cure for life's struggles but there is a good reason for them. It is to draw closer to one another and to our Father . . . and we all look forward to that One Day when we suffer no more. . . .

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Giving is not an option . . .

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
I have heard the comments a lot . . . Why does a pastor not have to work like everyone else? Why is the minister paid by the church? Why are we asked to support missionaries when it's the church's job to support them? Listen again to the Word of God:
For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages . . ." (1 Timothy 5:18)
Paul quotes from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 25:4)to emphasize that the Christian worker deserves pay for his duties. Everyone else gets paid well for their jobs. What is so different about Christian workers? If God set aside provisions for the Levites way back in the Old Testament (including land and food) why is it so hard for the people of God today to support the work of the Church? It is a challenge to say the least to be called and dedicated to full time ministry yet still have to work outside of that calling and be able to do both jobs well. Something gets cheated! Will it be the ministry . . . the secular job . . . the families . . .? Ultimately it is God's people who get cheated and God Himself who is disrespected! What has to happen to convince God's people to support His work and His workers? We are the Church! We must give so the Church can be effective. God holds us accountable.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

not always romance, but always love

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)
I believe most of us are familiar with the love verses in this section of Scripture. We hear them quoted at weddings and even testimonies at funerals. We have even seen them in popular little doll statues with all the love is . . .sayings. Love never fails, but it does change. Love matures as we do. The meaning differs from one relationship to another. But love, true love, is from God and is genuine and not based upon feelings, but commitment! I often tell tees that dating comes after marriage as we grow in love with one another. The more we get to know our spouse, the deeper our love grows. The unfortunate thing is that for most couples, dating stops after marriage! As we model God's love through our marriages, let us remember that a hurting world is watching. Young people living in doubt need to see God's love reflected in our marriage relationship. This is a real, maturing, and genuine love that is visible for all to see . . . the love of God in us.
not always romance, but always love!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Submission . . . Bad or Good Idea?

But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
Submision is a dirty word today . . . even within the church. However, the Christian life is all about submission. No one is the boss . . . but God! As Paul stated above, the men must submit to the Lord's guidance. Women submit to the leadership of Godly men. Children submit to the Godly leadership of their parents. Did Christ not submit willingly to the Father, asking permission each time before He would act on earth? Did He not willingly submit to the cross, even though He would prefer another option? (Luke 22:42) Submission is a wonderful thing when everyone buys in to it. I do not believe anyone would object to following the lead of a Godly example, whether it be a church member following his Christ-submitted pastor or a wife standing beside her God-honoring husband. A simple game of follow the leader is really simple when we all follow Christ! Mutual Submission . . . not a bad thing at all!
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.(Ephesians 5:21)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't blame God

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.(1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
Don't blame God when sin overtakes us
. . . He is always there to provide a way out for each of us, yet many times we choose our own solution . . . and fail! Many peoeple want to blame God for their situations. God is not to blame. For the Christian, we have the Holy Spirit ready and willing to assist us . . . keep us from sin. He is our Counselor, Comforter, and the Rock and Shield which protects us. He goes to battle for us. Yet when we do fall, we have the promise of God to forgive us . . . (1 John 1:9) Oh do not be foolish . . . Satan is still alive and working in this world! He is still lying, devouring, and destroying. We must continue to flee. (James 4:7) Draw close to God. (James 4:8) He never leaves us:(Hebrews 13:5)it is we who wander! So hold on . . God is right there with us. He goes with us through life (Psalm 23:4)and is ready and willing to assist. Call upon Him, not just the first time, but all through life.
I have tried Him for myself . . . God is faithful!

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...