Thursday, January 31, 2013

One day is today!

So God lifted him up to the highest place. He gave him the name that is above every name. When the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone’s knee will bow to worship him. Every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow to worship him. Everyone’s mouth will say that Jesus Christ is Lord. And God the Father will receive the glory.(Philippians 2:9-11) One day everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is indeed Lord and King. One day it will not be strange to hear an athlete or a school teacher proclaim the wonders of our savior out loud for all to hear. One day it will be the norm to cry out "Praise the Lord!" But why not today? Why is it strange for a believer to speak His name outside of the church walls? Why are even we shocked to hear His name in the public square or in the news? Even more so, why don't we exclaim His name more often? One day is today! Let's call out His name whenever we are are and while we still have breath! Let's not leave it up to the one with the micrphone when we already have a voice. If they attempt to silence us, let's not be silent! Now is the one day! Do not be ashamed . . .
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

God is still God.

God is the King of the whole earth. Sing a psalm of praise to him. God rules over the nations.(Psalm 47:7-8)
From beginning to end, from generation to generation, God is still God! Woe to the person or the nation who thinks otherwise. people may want to believe that actions have no consequences, but God still sits high and looks low. He knows what is going on and He is still in control. He is simply allowing man the right to choose . . .
Day and night, they never stop saying,“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God who rules over all. He was, and he is, and he will come.” The living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to the One who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever. At the same time, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the One who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns in front of the throne. They say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power. You are worthy because you created all things.9Revelation 4:8-11)
No matter our position, no matter our pay scale, no matter our ethnicity or citizenship, God is still God. There is no escaping. Heaven and earth praise Him. Hell fears Him.
What about you and me? There is no ignoring God. At some point every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is God. Yet God's people have made the choice while they are yet still living . . . will we?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Living on the Word . . .

How can a young person keep his life pure? By living in keeping with your word. I trust in you with all my heart. Don’t let me wander away from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart so that I won’t sin against you. Lord, I give praise to you. Teach me your orders. With my lips I talk about all of the decisions you have made. Following your covenant laws gives me joy just as great riches give joy to others. I spend time thinking about your rules. I consider how you want me to live. I take delight in your orders. I won’t fail to obey your word.(Psalm 119:9-16)
I have often had the discussion with young and old alike: "How can we posibly not sin?" We all have said from time to time "I am only human!" Yet while it is true that we are born with a sin nature, those who have been svaed by the blood of Christ and sealed by His Holy Spirit are indeed able to not sin! The psalmist wrote it in Psalm 119: "so that I won't sin against You!" So how? The key is in His Word! We must be living on the Word of God daily and throughout the day! Scripture is not just for sermons and Bible lessons. It is not simply a morning devotion or a Sunday School lesson. It is a way of life! In order to be cme more like Jesus we must live His Words more and more. As we do, we find ourselves sinning less and less; perhaps not sin-less, but sinning less and less! We must be living stones (1 Peter 2:5). . . proving the will of God for all to see. (Romans 12:1-2) What is the litmus test of a true Christ-follower? Read below . . .
“If you obey my teaching,” he said, “you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth. And the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Monday, January 28, 2013

The best offense is a good defense !

Dear friends, I really wanted to write to you about the salvation we share. But now I feel I should write and ask you to stand up for the faith. God’s people were trusted with it once and for all time. (Jude 3)
No doubt Jude knew the TRUTH from a lie. He lived with Jesus and his brother James. I believe this is why he is so adamant concerning the lies in the Church of his day. Once we expereince the TRUTH, we need to identify lies, dogma, and legalism and break free from it. We need to call sin just what it is and seek to rescue our brothers and sisters from it rather than turning a deaf ear and allowing them to wallow in sin. We have to risk friendships and associations for the good of the Gospel and the souls of our friends and families. So many things tie us down as Christians today. The TRUTH should have set us free. Free from rituals. Free from legalism. Free from ridicule and the chains of life. Free to be real and living believers that influence the world for Christ. Free to defend the Gospel! The best offense is a good defense . . . so let's go!
They told you, “In the last days, some people will make fun of the truth. They will follow their own ungodly longings.” They are the people who separate you from one another. They do only what comes naturally. They are not led by the Holy Spirit. Dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Let the Holy Spirit guide and help you when you pray. The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring you eternal life. As you wait for his mercy, remain in God’s love. Show mercy to those who doubt. Pull others out of the fire. Save them. To others, show mercy mixed with fear. Hate even the clothes that are stained by the sins of those who wear them. (Jude 18-23)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christian workers should be paid!

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 5-11)
These verses above are not simply practical advice, but important to me as a missionary and also a Bible student. I was assigned this book written by the one Jesus loved as part of my degree study. It helped me in seeking support for our work. I used to feel to ask others to support our work with teens and families, being made to feel like a beggar. I actually have overheard believers saying that it is not the individual believers responsibiility to support missions. Even family members have distanced themselves from my wife and I since we have dedicated our lives to Chrstian service. I must admit, even I did not realize the work involved in missions, especially independent mission work! Missions is a business! It must adhere to the laws and regulations of the state. It must pay fees and be registered with the state and federal government. Office bills must be paid such as phone, banking, mailing, etc.
If missionaries are to do their study, preparing, and actual hands-on work, they need to be supported. This also is true of pastors and ministers! (1 Corinthians 9:4-10) Christian workers should be paid wages for doing the work of the Lord, whether within the walls of the church or in the streets of the city!
While many still refuse to support missions work, I no longer feel ashamed to seek support. My wife and I have put many hard and late hours into study and preparation for our work. We have degrees to prove it. But more importantly, we have the direction and call from God to do it! We can truly identify with John, Paul, and many others who have gone before us. We have learned however to leave folks alone who refuse to understand. God will deal with them. We are so grateful to the handful who sacrificially support the work with regularity. We will not quit! We have work to do!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's not what we know, but how we love . . .

I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (2 John 4-6)
Whether John is writing to an individual or a local church, we can use this letter as direct instruction for each of us today. We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ need to live like it so others can feel it! There is an undrstanding, especially when dealing with young people, that people do not care so much about how much we know but how much we love! I have come to understand how important this fact is many times. Kids can sense a phony in a minute! They desire genuine care and understanding and want us to be honest with them. They do not need fluffy words and fun all the time. Kids want committment. In a day when parents, teachers, ministers and even those sworn to protect us are abandonng and even abusing our children and teens, it is imperative to be open and honest with teens. They have to learn to trust us before they learn anything from us. Some feel as though even God has abandoned them. We must be the Jesus they see and feel. Our kids are lost and hiding out in the world and we must seek them in order to save them! (Luke 19:10)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Being on the Right Team . . . With the Right Leader

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world . . . our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)
As my hometown team prepares for the biggest football game of their lives in a couple of weeks, I can't help but imagine how excited they must be! They have overcome the odds; injuries, disappointments, even personal tragedies. Yet they prepare for the biggest stage of football . . . The Super Bowl! Many athletes never reach the game. Many never get to hoist the championship trophy or spray the champange in the locker room. One must be on the right team with the right leader. Spiritually speaking that is what John is saying in the above passage. Many people are seeking heaven . . . eternal life. But without accepting Jesus Christ, there is no victory celebration, no championship banquet, no trophies. The Super Bowl winners may be dancing in New Orleans on February 3, 2013. The question is where will we be when we face our last days? Will we overcome sin and death? Will we be celebrating?
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Are You "In Love"?

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born again because of what God has done. That person knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. How did God show his love for us? He sent his one and only Son into the world. He sent him so we could receive life through him. What is love? It is not that we loved God. It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we should also love one another. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us. His love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12)
So many say they are "in love" today. However, not nearly as many will say that they have a relationship with God. To say we are in love with anyone is really impossible if we do not know God personally! God is love.(1 John 4:16)He is the definition of love. He is the author of love. He exemplifies love. True love comes from God and no one else! The Gospel frees us as individuals to completely love . . . without pretense. Love is given with nothing expected in return. Love sacrifices without desiring a thank you.Love is perfected in God. Love is in God but are we in love with Him?
Love is . . . . G O D! (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

Monday, January 21, 2013

FAITH in God, not a System . . . from Paul through Dr. King

I have a duty both to Greeks and to non-Greeks. I have a duty both to wise people and to foolish people. So I really want to preach the good news also to you who live in Rome. I am not ashamed of the good news. It is God’s power. And it will save everyone who believes. It is meant first for the Jews. It is meant also for those who aren’t Jews. The good news shows how God makes people right with himself. From beginning to end, becoming right with God depends on a person’s faith. It is written, “Those who are right with God will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)(Romans 1:14-17)
Paul speaks of a faith in the Word of God that is available to all people. Dr. King spoke as well of "this faith" when "the glory of the Lord shall be revelaed". Faith in God overcomes many things. One thing it must overcome is racism and injustice. If we are to truly be one, we must live by faith, not by party lines, ethnic boundaries, or family traditions. The Body of Christ must live by faith in the Savior who died for all of us to be FREE! I too dream of a day when at least the Body of Christ can be one! A Body where "brother and sister" refers to our faith and "we" and "us" refers to Christ-followers and "them" refers to the lost. I do understand the struggles that still exist today. As a child I lived through the actions of the 60's and did not understand. Even today, actions of my very own family haunt me. My heart aches for unity and for the veils of discrimination to be lifted. It aches for my children and grandchildren as well. Yet I hold on to a dream . . .
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Washington, DC, August 28, 1963)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I want to know what love is . . .show me!

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
The cry of the world is like the old song of a few decades back:
"I want to know what love is . . . I want YOU to show me."
It comes from abandoned and abused children. It echoes throughout high school classrooms. It is heard in the streets. Old and young alike need to know what love is today. How will they see/ How will they feel? How will they know what love is unless we who know LOVE show them and care enough to touch them? As believers we are commanded to love everyone, not just those who are easy to love. Everyone loves the cute little baby, the precioaus toddler who is just so kind, or the sweet teenager who is always respectful. But what about the baby who cannot sleep at night, or the ADDH toddler, or even the teen with defiant behavior or perhaps even a drug or alcohol problem? Who will step in to help the single parent who can't take another day or the young lady who cannot seem to stop attracting the wrong kind of friends? Jesus loves the unloveable . . . the ones we sometimes refuse to see! Pray for spiritual vision; the kind of sight that can see through the flesh and look at a hurting heart. We are not here for ourselves. Jesus rescued us so we can rescue others! We are here on a life saving mission but we must first see the same ones Jesus saw whan He walked the earth . . . the sick, the lame, the blind, and those everyone else rejected. To be of Christ requires us to be like Christ!
Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters. Work because you know that you will finally receive as a reward what the Lord wants you to have. You are serving the Lord Christ.(Colossians 3:23-24)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two-Minute Warning

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:8-10)
Take this a your two-minute warning! Time is running out. All of us face the inevitable. We will either die or Jesus will come back while we are yet living. No one knows either day . . . death or Jesus' return. The next year, the next day, the next minute? When a team faces the last minute or last inning to play, they have a sense of urgency. As time runs out, players press to hit the game-winning homer or game-winning touchdown to win the game. Yet as we live our lives, we live as if we have all the time in the world?
This is not P R A C T I C E!
Life is not a game. Life is real and God rule and over-rules. Time is urgent and is running out quickly. Live as if this is the last play we have and live it for the Lord. Tomorrow is TOO late!
Then while it is [still] called Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion [in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them]. (Hebrews 3:15)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Leaving the world behind . . .

. . .if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.(2 Peter 2:9)
There is a time as a Christian when each of us is faced with a monumental decison. Do I follow God one hundred percent or do I compromise? Am I all in or only part of the way? Am I looking for fire insurance or a radically different life?
Have you reached that crossroads yet? I did some fifteen years ago.
Having been saved for some five years prior to this date, I was faced with a radical change. I wanted a wife and mother in the home for me and my daughter. I wanted more in m life. God was calling me to more. I had fallen in love with a beautiful Christian women who had two children of her own. it would be a second marrige for both of us. I knew the statistics and dangers of secon marriages. Risky at best . . . dangerous in the least. All the Christian counsel said watch out . . . run . . . wait . . . don't do it. This was from my trusted friends! Then I turned to God . . . He let me know His grace was sufficient for all sin and He would allow a second chance, but only if I commited to Him first. My soon to be wife agreed. This was our decision before our God and no one else could ever imagine the strength it took to get through the early years! We never could have imagined what his plan would hold for our family! Through all the ups and downs of a second marriage, blended family, and all the issues that would arise, God called us to full time mission work right in our own backyard. He called us to leave our secular jobs and depend upon Him for support of our daily needs. We obeyed and fifteen years later we are standing in the middle of His grace and still serving Him! Just nobodies serving a God who loves everybody!
Are you facing a decision? Do you doubt yourself or doubt God?
It has not been easy. Yet it has been rewarding to know whom we are working for each day. The consequences of our past abound, but the hope we have in Christ more abounds! I would never go back! God never quits on His part in our lives. We will not quit on Him, no matter how difficult it may become!
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.(Romans 8:26-28)
Visit our web pages and see what God is doing . . . www.tsnministries.org

Monday, January 14, 2013

Acknowledging God's name through it all . . .

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election.(2 Peter 1:4-10)
The world is a rough place. God never promised to get us out of trouble, but if we honor Him, He promises to get us through them . . . even if we do get a little bruised and battered along the way. As I have time to ponder and plan this week away from home, I can rejoice in the struggles God has gone through with me! Some are the result of my sin. Other struggles have been God's way of pruning me. I have learned from both. I also think of my favorite football team and the way they handle adversity. Not many beyond the local Baltimore area are fond of the Ravens. They seem to face adversity weekly. This season has been a myriad of ups and downs. The player who holds my admiration and trust the most is Ray Lewis. His life is a shining example of how to continue to battle through ups and downs, peaks and valleys, black holes and moments of shining glory. Through it all, his faith in God has grown and He is sure to keep His faith public . . . not for show but for the glory of God! Recently he announced his retirement. Many have said it would be a short postseason, yet he and the Ravens are one game away from another Super Bowl. Will they win? . . . that is the will of God! Yet I must believe that Ray will continue to honor the Lord who has been with him a long time! This is a portion of the Psalm 91 t-shirt he has been wearing throughout the playoffs under his gear . . .
Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him;I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Try Someone Else Satan . . .

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.(1 Peter 5:8-9)
Have you seen the commercial where the animals have night vision goggles which allows them to see the prowlng lion awaiting their prey? They even go so far as to tease the lion to go vegan! Well as Peter writes, this is how confident we can be when we go out into the world if we allow the Holy Spirit to be in control of our lives. We all are subjected to the taunts and snares of Satan, yet Jesus promises to protect all His sheep. The Good Shepherd is on watch for us. We simply have to trust Him!
We not only have night vision, but spiritual vision in the battle over sin.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It is not about me!

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7)
Boy am I finding out how true this statement is from Peter! Though we may believe we are qualified for positions, God makes the determination where we need to be and when. As we learn to accept His will for us, despite how much we whine and complain, things are much better off in His will. In the past few years, God has ben humbling me. I do not always like it, but I am beginning to see how depending upon Him as my Source for all things is better than me being the source of all things.
It is not about me!
God have your perfect way and please give me the patience and humility to allow You to complete the work!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gifted to Serve

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.(1 Peter 4:8-11)
If there ever should be the evidence of overflowing service and sacrifice, it must be within the Body of Christ! All believers have been gifted by the Holy Spirit and we need to use that gift to God's glory. However, it is also important that we realize that one person or one specific group cannot do it all. it takes the entire Body!
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.(1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
Many folks go unused or misused within the Body of Christ. Let's make our gifts known by serving and let's also be sure to allow those who are gifted to serve!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You Don't Know Me!

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.(1 Peter 4:3-5)
"You are not the man I used to know!" Though I do not hear that very much lately, I sense it from even members of my own family. I did hear it a lot when first coming to really know the Lord some twenty years ago.(1993) I am not who God wants me to be just yet, but praise Him that I am NOT the man I used to be! But it is God who has changed me. Oh yes, I was the one who loved to drink just to see how much I could drink. I would use every curse word I could to get a leg up in an discussion. I would fuss and fight with sports officials when coaching and playing. Pornography, coarse joking, lewd comments about women, were the acceptable way of life for me and other guys in my circles. However, God rescued me from that life and He is now rearrnaging my desires and my entire life. It was nothing I have done but to surrender!
My response to those who say I have changed is this: "You are correct. You don't know me anymore! But would you like to get to know the one who does?"
I must admit, as I look back, I too am rather shocked! What God has done . . .! He never promised me a rose garden, but abundant life with Him. (John 10:10) Life has not been butterflies and unicorns as some may think, but struggles, haertaches, and disappointments. Yet these are not from God, but from people! I am learning to depend upon God. When others doubt me . . . even those closest to me, I know in the end, God has me in the palm of His hand. Nothing man can do to me can really harm me. This is comforting. There is no where to hide when one commits to the Lord. We are all exposed. Yet God promises peace to those who walk with Him. Troubles will not last always . . .
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.hilippians 4:6-7)

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Beauty of the Heart

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
So many of us miss this. God is after our hearts and we too should be ultimately concerned with our heart . . . and its desires!
Just why do we do things?
How we dress . . . the vehicles we drive . . . the neighborhoods in which we live . . . the label on our jackets and shoes . . . evn the location of our employment all reflect the desires of our heart. Though Peter is addressing women in the passages above, we ALL can take a few lessons here. Our heart and the Spirit that controls it is reflected to others in all we do. Our heart moves us. It motivates us. Yet the beauty of the heart can be extinguished by pride, selfishness, greed, and jealousy. A quiet, simple, peaceful, livong, caring, unselfish, sacrificial, humble and CHRIST-like heart reflects the image of God. Everything we do will reflect the love of God.
The beauty (or lack thereof) of the heart shows in decisions we make every day!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Willing Obedience . . .

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.(1 Peter 2:13-17)
We live is a messed up with messed up people, of which I am one the most messed up! However, God still demands our obedience . . . even to those we may disagree with at times. We are to respect those in authority. We are not to ridicule them, joke about them, and otherwise embarrass them. There is no room for private jokes, off-line humor, or in-house cliques. This is hard for both adults and kids today. As adults, we find it easy to chime in on negative comments about our President, local officials, or even our bosses and religious leaders. Teens and chldren will find opportunity to put down parents and family traditions and beliefs when surrounded by peers. However, a life of obedience is God's design for His children . . . young and old alike! Willing obedience, as long as it does not counter God's principles brings blessings. It leads to a better life. It brings peace to the soul! It brings God to the forefront for all to see!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is . . . his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Leaving a Legacy . . .

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.(1 Peter 2:11-12)
I realize that not everyone is a football fan. Many of you who are may not enjoy watching the Baltimore Ravens play. Yet today, as I ponder God's Word I am also pondering the impact Ray Lewis has had upon the football world, Baltimore, and yes,even my life! You see, Mr. Lewis has had his ups and downs, like most of us. False accusations, ijuries, and broken relationships have no doubt caused him to doubt and find himself asking God "Why?" Yet all the Pro Bowls, MVP Awards, and the Super Bowl win must have caused him to burst out in praise! One thing I have witnessed from Ray Lewis is that his faith in God has never waivered. He has never been ashamed to express his faith in public. He is not phony and does not try to be one man in public and another man in private. He is real! As Peter writes to us, we must live in such a way among the pagans that we are sure to honor the Lord, despite what people may say. It is our relationship with God that matters most! Ray Lewis stresses the fact that we are leaving a legacy for those coming behind us. Good or bad, we are leaving our imprint. However, it is not someone else's legacy, it must be my legacy and your legacy for those with whom we have influence.
What are we leaving behind?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Not me!

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”(1 Peter 1:13-16)
I recall when I used to be asked "Who did that?" I would morethan often reply, "Not me!" Not me . . . I don't know . . . a lot of excuses for the things I did as a child. But now I am a man and must be held accountavle for the things I do! God wants us to admit our sin and shortcomings. Once we come to grips with them, then He can step in and help us to change. To be holy requires change on our part first: we must desire change! God will not force it upon us! His Spirit will not do what we will not allow. We have to become willing and humble ourselves before God. (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:9) Are we able to say along with Paul that we have put our childish ways behind us?
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.(1 Corinthians 13:11)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Going through the fire . . .What will do in the new year?

. . . who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire . . . may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy . . . (1 Peter 1:5-8)
Had a rough 2012 . . . well hang on because 2013 does not promise to get any better, especially for those of faith in Jesus Christ! This is expected. This is told to us in the Gospels. Things will wax worse and worse! It will not better. If you beleive it will, I have some land to sell you in the swamps of Florida!
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God . . . having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. (2 Timothy 3;1-9)
The challenge is what will do in reaction to the situations around us? Will we run and hide? Will we accept it? Will we simply condemn the sin and the sinners? Will we confront sin in a loving way and set our minds on pleasing God and winning souls?
Going through the fire . . . what will we do in the new year?

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...