Friday, November 30, 2012

Back to Basics

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.(1 Timothy 4:8)
Everyone wants to be in shape these days . . . well at least most people! No one I know really wants to be overweight. Most folks I know want to lose 10-20 pounds, stat walking, or maintain some form of physical fitness. However, not everyone is desiring to get closer to God. Not all my friends, family members, or associates are seeking a healthier relationship with the Creator of our lives. It's a bit confusing to me. The one who made us knows all about us . . . even our physical health! It makes sense that if we get closer to the Maker, we can be in better touch with the thing that was made . . . After all we are made in His image!
It seems to me that if we get back to basics, we might just be a bit better off all around!Ummmmm . . . Just me thinkin' out loud . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Never fair . . . but worth the effort!

Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. (1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Never fair . . . but worth the effort! Many are giving up their committment to the Lord; falling away from church attendance, Bible study, church events, and even family loyalties. Sad, but a true sign of the times. Many give up when faced with various challenges.
But Jesus did not give up!
Before we consider throwing in the towel and giving in to the pressures and temptations of this world, remember these words: Jesus endured the cross for you and me.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.(Hebrews 12:1-3)
Never fair . . . but worth the effort!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It Takes a Village . . .

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.(2 Thesalonnians 1:2-3)
As I often look back to where God began His work in my family, me personally, and our ministry, I realize very quickly that it has really nothing to do with me! It is all God and those he placed in my life. So many sacrificed for me, were patient with me, overlooked my stupidity and stubborness, and yes, even supported and encouraged me! Don't know why, but they did! I am so grateful to God, my parents, my wife and children, my pastor, so many other pastors, ministers, and teachers within the Church Body, and all of the many who support our outreach to kids and families (The Sparrows' Nest Ministries, Inc).
It indeed is taking a village to raise this child!
God has been so awesome in His orcheastration of my life. I am dumbfounded as I look back as to why, how, and even when he did it all. I am so grateful. The Good News is that He is not through with me yet! (Philippians 1:6)
Thank you for your support. Thank you for your encourgement. Thank God He is still at work in my life and yours!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Be Aware . . .Misfit!

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober . . . (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)
In these crazy days, be aware! We must be aware of dangers all around us. Folks are looking to take advantage of people in all situations; at the malls, at gas stations, through the internet . . .
More importantly, we must be aware that Christ is closer to coming back now than ever before!
Brothers ansd sisters in Christ . . . fellow believers . . . we need to live like we know this! We must be a peculiar people . . . set apart from the rest. We must stand out so others who are lost in the crowd can see the other option!
This is not the time to blend in family. It is time to be the unusual, the misfit. Why, because we are! We are not of this world!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Disciples?

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessaloninans 1:5-6)
We are often asked what we actually do within our ministry. I frequently wonder myself and in my time of conversation with the Lord just what motivates me! As one who has been gifted in evangelism and teaching, I have come to the conclusion that I really get excited not just when folks (especially kids) accept Christ as Lord and savior, but when they live it! Many times I have run into a young lady or man that comes up and reminds me that I led them to Christ years ago or prayed with them at a time when they were struggling. Now to see them walking closely with the Lord brings me a sense of satisfaction sure,but more importantly it reminds me of my first priorty . . . keep sharing Christ with everyone! We never really know who acccepts Christ and who does not . . . that lies with God. Of the many times I have heard someone say they are saved, there are even fewer times that I actually see someone living for Christ! To really believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a lifestyle, making decisions minute-by-minute to follow the Lord.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.(Galatians 2:20)
Recently I have been so encouraged to have a few of the kids we have worked with either come up to us in church, call us, send an e-mail, or even contact us on Facebook and let us know how they are doing. While they are not perfect, they have let us know that the things we have shared with them are now making sense. They realize what it really means to be a Christian and are trying to allow God complete control of their lives. Our Christian walk is a process. Listen to Paul:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.(Philippians 2:12-13)
So while my first priority is sharing the Word and leading everyone I may come in contact with to Christ, coming in at 1b is follow-up. Let's not be afraid to ask someone how their walk is comng along. What are their struggles? How can we help them? More importantly, how can help each other stay closer to Christ? Let's not forget discipleship! After all, Jesus walked with His closest friends for three years before letting them on their own.
How long are we willing to walk alongside one of our disciples?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just the Right Amount of Seasoning . . .

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6)
Just about this time of year, as the Holidays are approaching, we are looking forward to grandma's pies, Aunt Mary's cookies, or perhaps even a surprise dish or two. However we look at it, the best dish always seems to have just the right amount of seasoning to hit the spot our bellies (and our hearts)have been longing to taste. It is the same way with how we respond to others. As folks begin to hold conversations concerning movies, music, or other entertaining topics around the dinner table or ballgames, let's be wise as to how we resond! We have the opportunity to share our beliefs even as we engage in casual conversation. Rather than agree with the crazy things going on in our world, we can insert a comment or two such as "You know I do not enjoy these kind of movies now", or "I wonder what his wife thought about that comment he made during the interview?" Many casual conversations give us an opportunity to speak about my experiences rather than dumping the entire salt shaker on someone else!
Just a pinch of salt might do!
Let's pray about how God can use us throughout the coming days whether it be at home, in the neighborhood, even out about in the malls and other stores as we rush about our days.
As we face challenging times, let's make the most of the opportunities we still have left.(Ephesians 5:16)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Prayer, prayer, and more prayer !

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.(Colossians 4:2)
Prayer, prayer, and more prayer . . .It has to dominate the ife of a true believer. Paul would aso remind us to pray always in other writings.(Ephesians 6:18) But what does that look life? To me, it simply means to be in constant contact with our Father. Just as Jesus would go to the Father throughout His day, we toomust keep the lines of communication open . . . talking and listening!We tend to talk a lot to God, but do not often listen for His voice or even adhere to it. Prayer is a two-way conversation! Yet we must also be watchful, aware of our surroundings to know how to pray and what to pray for in our lives. The model prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)helps us out as we pray for God's will and is provisions. Knowing what is going on in the world and seeking God's guidance in our personal lives allows us to function as effective believers in a challenging world. Through it all, we need to be thankful. In the most dire of circumstances, knowing the Lord and knowing He is with us brings peace. That peace, beyond human understanding, not only gets us through challenging moments in life, but also allows the Lord to use us to let others see Him at work. God comforts us to bring comfort to others! (1 Corinthians 1:1-11) So as we go through life we are to be very aware of what is going on around us. As we seek His face and His guidance, we can have the confidence that He is right with us as we seek to honor Him!
We have plenty of reasons to pray and so much to thank Him for, even the challenging times in which we live!

Friday, November 16, 2012

a HAPPY and HOLY HOLYday Season!

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.(Matthew 10:41-42)
Whatever we can sacrifice to help someone in need is appreciated. Some may think "I do not have enough for myself or my family." Others may believe that "I cannot give enough to really help". Still others believe it is someone else's responsibility to assit the needy; the government, the churches, the rich. Jesus is clear here: Anyone who gives anything will not go unrewarded. For the believer this is expecially true! Even something as simple as a cup of water . . . The HOLYdays are upon us. The bells are ringing outside of grocery stores. We all know the needs are there. Yes, even needs worse than our own. Please give to someone today and plan to give a sacrificial gift to local folks in need between now and CHRISTmas. We do not have to loo too far to meet a real need today. If you choose, you may join us as we will be serving the needs of the local teens and families we serve in Prince George's County, MD this Holyday Season also. For information write me at jcforkids@tsnministries.org or visit www.tsnministries.org.
Let's make it a HAPPY and HOLY HOLYday Season!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Past is the Past . . .

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.(Colossians 3:1-11)
The past is the past. It's a different world once one becomes saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. The past has been wiped clean. We are indeed made new as Paul wrote.(2 Corinthians 5:17) While we may suffer from the consequences of sins here on earth, our future looks bright. Despite the gloom and doom of this world, heaven awaits the believer, the disciple of Christ. There is indeed a peace the believer posssesses that ordinary folks simply cannot comprehend. (Philippians 4:7) So why are we still tied up in the past, or even the present-day mess? Human nature binds us daily! We simply allow our finite minds not to see God's plans working out. Paul reminds us in the passages above of what we used to be and used to do. We must pray and allow the Holy Spirit to let us get a peak of the vision of who we really are in Christ. Through His help, we can put away our past and live to honor the Savior who redeemed us from sin's guilt and chains. There are no super-Christians: We are each special in God's eyes . . . His children. Day by day, moment by moment, we must choose to love like it! If you are lke me you will find it hard to convince yourself of this . . . only the Spirit within us can do it.
We all must agree: the past is the past . . . let's move on!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Harmless? . . . REALLY?

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.(Colossians 2:8) Young teens viewing "R"-rated movies . . .ten-year old kids playing T-for-Teen video games . . . kids wearing fashions designed for adults to wear . . .
HARMLESS? REALLY?
What happens over time when kids constantly view inappropriate scenes in movies, constantly cause death in video games, or wear clothig items designed to attract and seduce others? The children grow up far too quickly, see things their little innocent minds cannot undrstand, and they find themselves lost in a culture in which they do not belong! For CHRISTian families, we must set the standard! We must stand when our kids say "All my friends have the game."We must say "NO!" even if sweet little Johnny says "Thomas' mom allows him to watch the movie." We must find another store when the clerk replies to us, "They are really harmless: All the kids are wearing them."
Have we been taken captive? Are we relying upon the hilosophy of this world to guide our children? have the spirits of darkness in this world clouded our thinking?
We folowers of CHRIST must set the standard, not follow the world's lower standards. As morals change, the BIBLE must be our guide!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hero and Savior

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:28-29)
So who are our heroes? Who is it that gets our attention? Who do perk up to when we hear their name or see there face on the screen? Who did we aspire to be when we were young? Who do we tell our kids to admire? Jesus was Paul's hero! Jesus was why Paul lived and breathed. He wanted to please Jesus and Jesus alone. Everything and everyone else came in a distant second. No task was too great. He was never too tired. He never saw a situation as too grave or impossible. He could do all things because of his Hero . . . his Savior . . .Jesus Christ!
So when we are too tired or too down or have too many excuses to go forward, let's remember why we live . . . it is Jesus! He is Hero and Savior!

Monday, November 12, 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 NIrV)
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. In 1955, a gentle lady by the name of Ms. Rosa Parks was tired and needed to sit down on a bus in Mobile, Alabama. She would not give up that seat. The rest is history as Dr. Martin Luther King took up the charge for the freedoms of all citizens and eventually paid the ultimate price for those freedoms: his life. Many lost their lives during the struggles of the 1960’s in the cities throughout the U.S., including Senator Bobby Kennedy. Many in the Armed Services gave their lives and have been wounded while serving in battle all over the world, so we in this Nation could remain free. Some volunteered; some had no other choice as they were drafted to serve. Nevertheless, they sacrificed time, youth, and bodily harm for each of us. These folks did not use their freedoms to sin or the lack of freedoms to inflict harm either. In war, they chose to defend this Nation. At home, others 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. However, they did not back down to political pressure, verbal threats, or physical harm. We are challenged by God’s Word today to stand firm and be unmovable. (1 Corinthians 15:58) We are told that He will go with us through the valleys of life and just as He did with Daniel and his friends. He will bring us through fiery trials and the fiercest enemies.
We have no liberty to sin, run, or hide. We have the freedom and boldness to STAND!
So STAND my brothers and sisters in the liberty of God’s grace and mercy. Stand boldly clothed in the full armor of God. Stand by faith. Stand on His promises. Stand together! Will we pay THE PRICE FOR FREEDOM today?
Yes, we will!

Friday, November 9, 2012

It is still the same God

. . .for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Trying times make folks think: I remember the well-paying job . . .fabulous vacations . . . the shopping trips . . . the new car feeling . . . the nights out . . . and on and on. Now we may be faced with lower wages, budget cuts, cancelling cable TV, selling a car, or cutting out the times at the malls and restaurants. Yet we can still be at peace! It is still the same God whether we have much or little. God is still on the throne despite our financial situation, our ailing health, or our relational struggles. We can still trust Him and have peace beyond human understanding. It is not easy . . . but who said it would be? Suffering brings us closer to the Savior.(2 Corinthians 1:8-9)It matures us and perfects our faith.(James 1:2) Do I like to be in need? No! Do I enjoy not be able to provide all my family may need or want? No!
But this is when God steps in . . .

Thursday, November 8, 2012

God Remains the Source

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1 :18-21)
We did not choose to leave my former job and work in ministry for the Lord. In fact, it took us a few years to agree with God that He was correct. God chose my wife and me to seeve Him. As ridiculous as that seems, it is true. We heard a clear and precise call from God to leave our jobs and serve Him as missionaries to local families and children here in the DC metro area. So for the past fifteen years, since we became one as husband and wife, we have experienced one miracle after another and countless numbers come to know the Lord. Yet it has not been easy! It has been through prayer, faith, and God's provisions that we can still stand today and continue to serve.
One thing I know for sure, with all the resources available to us all, God remains the Source of all we ever need! My pastor reminded me of this very thing last evening.
Through financial struggles, chugging through on-line studies, family issues, health concerns, and more, God has remained the one constant. He has been there when all else has failed us. He has kept us. Things will indeed get worse in this world. We can see it coming. The question remains: With whom do we stand?
This is not a test, it is an actual emergency and we have been informed where to turn!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Despite the laws . . .

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” which is the first commandment with a promise . . .“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.(Ephesians 6:1-4)
Despite the laws of my state and country, as a father I will still teach and defend my faith within my family. (Joshua 24;15) I must face my wife and children each day. I must stand before my God one day as well. Even if unpopular or politically incorrect, I will stand for the Bible and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Just as many did in the past, we will given plenty of opportunities to stand for our God in the near future. Fathers in particular, will we stand for Christ and His principles?
What will we do?
What will our response be?
Will we crumble, hide, or disappear in the shadows? Despite the laws, will we be unashamed of the Gospel and our Savior? This is not a political issue, an issue of culture, or an issue of race. It is an issue with our relationship with Jesus Christ! Fathers . . . men . . . young teenage males . . . will we refuse to be conformed and molded into the world's view and continue to allow the Spirit free will in our lives to continually transform us into His image? (Romans 12:1-2)
Will we lead by the Gospel or be lead by the world?
Despite the law, will we be salt and light in this world or be trampled upon and be rendered worthless for God?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Live the Truth in Love

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:30-32)
Believers must live the truth in love . . . this is a challenge. While it is easy to point out someone else's sin, we often do not acknowledge our own. Arrogance has no place in the CHRISTian life. Yes, sin grieves the Holy Spirit . . . our sin and the sin that is rampant in this world! God calls us to call sin just what it is . . . SIN. Yet we are to do it in love, offering forgiveness and the hope that is in Jesus. Never is this more clear than when Jesus deals with the woman caught in adultery.(John 8:2-11) Sinners are offered the chance to repent. The grace of God is still available to all who would receive it. Let's remember that when confronting sin these days. In loving confrontation, offer grace . . . offer Christ's love. Confronting sin in love is an opportunity to bring someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, not an opportunity to degrade someone.
As we make crucial decisions in life and face troubling situations, lets live the truth in love for all to witness!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

An Election of faith and Allegiance

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God . . .(Ephesians 2:18-19)
We have been chosen by God, so why do we choose to condone, even associate with so many ungodly people and orginizations? Why are we afraid to stand up and say "NO!" to the choices we have? Why do we join with blantant sin and ignore the actions of some just so we can remain popular with our freinds, families and co-workers? Why do we allow those in this vile culture to convince us to join forces with them? Well, we have choices to make this coming week. We have the opportunity to choose a President, choose local representatives, and even cast our vote for various questions concerning our lifestyle and community. So the question is whom will we side with, not what will we choose? So choose you this day . . .(Joshua 24:15). Whom will you serve(choose)? The gods of the people or the God of our life? Will we allow culture and associations to sway us and pull us from the Biblical standards God has set before us? God forbid! Will we do our part to keep this Nation under God? (Psalm 33:11-12)Will we bless God in this election or bless the world by giving in to their pressures to acccept their agenda? This is more than an election for government officials . . . it is an election of our faith and allegiance to God!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Democrat, Republican, or CHRISTian?

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.(Ephesians 1:4-10)
God first chose us . . . that alone is simply unbelieveable . . . that He would choose me and you to be His children. I do not know about you, but if I were God and had to choose a child . . . it would not be me! I am too much trouble!!! But not only did God choose us, He also invies us to call others to call out to Him! I may not be able to figure out that one either, but I am so glad He gives me this opportunity. In this ongoing election, I wonder now how will represent our Father as we choose? Give us a King!, the Jews demanded. (1 Samuel 8) They wanted to be like the world. We too have a choice to make: do we want to look more like the world or like believers in the God who first chose us to be His children? Will we follow the crowd or our Father?
Will we choose leaders who endorse the very principles God abhors?
As we vote, let us act with our heavenly citizenship and the principles God sets forth for His children, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as C H R I S T ians!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Political Correctness and Personal Choices

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:19-24)
There is a difference between the followers of Jesus Christ and the world. Never is it more eveident than in these present times of political correctness and personal choices. Many believers are faced with with decisions each day at work, at home and even within our churces as to what decisions to make as to how we will live our lives? We strive to please the people around us and find ourselves bound by other's personal decisions. Do we find ourselves giving in to man's ideals and doctrines or the teachings of the Bible? Are we following behind the popular crowd or venturing out on our own ansd standing for the freedoms we have in Christ? A true believer is not bound by man and is free to honor the Word of God even if it costs friendships, popularity at work or family ties. Do we choose party lines or Christian values? Do we follow after cutural traditions or Biblical values? Are we locked in by the law or freed by the Spirit of Christ? It is time to get out of the box and live by Christ's standards.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness,gentleness and self-control . . . freedom to choose . . . May we all choose wisely these days!

one stable foundation,

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