Friday, July 29, 2016

Related by Blood

With it (the tongue) we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. (Genesis 1:27) Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:9-10)
Many times, as believers, we tend to think more highly of ourselves, thinking we are better than those of other faiths. The fact is, we are only better off because of Jesus . . . it was nothing we have done! Had someone not thought enough of us to share His Word with us, we too would be llost, worth nothing. Our worth comes from the Lord! Everyone has been made in the image of God. We all have His characteristics to love, need love, and to be with others. No one, no matter their race, culture, or current beliefs, should be void of the opportunity to know the living and true God and to experience His love, grace, and mercy! The very least we can do is pray for the lost, the different, the unloveable, even the evil . . . and be kind and caring to all. Everyone deserves a shot a eternal life! (2 Peter 3:9)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tell Someone!

I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God Who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. (Psalm 77:11-14)
As I look back from this point in my life, recalling the first days of Christ finally getting my attention some twenty-four years ago, it encourages me greatly. He led a friend to take my five year old daughter to a local VBS and she returned home almost giddy as she exclaimed, "Daddy, I am saved!" I thought she had fell into a pool or almost hit by a car or something tragic, yet when the minister explained the process of salvation and baptism, I was convinced I too needed this Jesus! Raised in a traditional denominational church my entire life, while exposed to the bible, I was never invited to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. Oh, I knew He was God. I knew Jesus died upon the cross and rose from the dead. I was told to pray. However, I was never led into a PERSONAL relationship with the Lord and shown from the Scriptures how simple and clear it was to become a child of God secure for eternity! Once I read several verses from Romans, my eyes and heart were opened understand the love of Christ for ME!!!! God has only been more than faithful these past twenty four years! He has not only saved me and my family from an eternal hell, but has called us into full time ministry serving teens and families, providing our needs and desires and allowing us to participate in His Kingdom work, leading hundreds into a Personal and eternal relationship with Him as well. He has enabled us to share our home with more than thirty-five children in our almost twenty years of marriage and ministry. Thought I always had a passion for youth and teaching (coaching), I had no clue what God would do. Just look at God! Twenty-four years later, I can only say "Wow!" I can't even think about quitting, or even retiring. A life with Christ is not only rewarding now, but for an eternity. Even after recently burying my mom, I can have joy knowing she too accepted Christ at one point in her life. WHAT ABOUT YOU? If you are a bit confused, just ask me . . . I would be more than happy to introduce you personally to the one and only Savior Who so loved us all that He gave His life upon a rugged and bloody cross for each of us to spend eternity with Him. . . . But you gotta ASK!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Seeking God in the Middle of Sin

When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your Holy Temple. (Jonah 2:7)
We all know the story of Jonah and the "whale". However, it is more than simply a "story". . . . It is an account of a man who ran from the will of God and found himself on the brink of death. When he has realized what he had done, he called upon that same God Whom he had ignored and that God, our God, rescued him from his sin. What a lesson for you and me! God hears us in the middle of our sin if we are willing to call upon Him in repentance and asked to be forgive. God has done this very thing for so many . . . Moses, Abraham, Jacaob, David, Peter, Saul/Paul . . . even you and me! God can pull us out of the stench of the belly of sin and place on clear fresh beaches of righteousness. He will wash away the poisons of guilt and shame and make our soul crystal clear and sparkling once again. Call upon Him today. Yes, in the middle of sin, call upon the God of second and hundreds of chances. He stands ready and willing to recuse us all!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Family . . . Finances . . . Fun!

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)
So many of us struggle through work just to make ends meet. We wake up early . . . go to work . . . stay up late taking care of things around the house . . . then do it all over again day after day. Even when we sleep, many of us toss and turn over the things we face in the world. It should not be so with those of us who trust and believe in the God of Creation. We who trust Christ as Lord and Savior must work at our faith. We must deliberately place our trust in Him and deliberately make the Lord part of our family, finances and FUN! God desires to be a vital part of EVERY aspect of our lives! When we truly trust Him and give Him control over even our fun times, then we can truly REST and RELAX knowing our labor is NOT in vain!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Do you know yourself?

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you . . . unless indeed you are disqualified? (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)
Paul challenged the Corinthians just as boldly as he challenges us today: Do you know for yourself that you are indeed KNOW Christ? It's a simple questions: Are you a Christ-follower or a FAN of Christ? There are many fans who admire Jesus and enjoy being in His presence. Folks love His music and hearing Him speak. Much like we go to a concert, a game, of a movie, going to church activities brings us satisfaction, enjoyment, escape, and peace. Yet knowing Jesus is so much more . . .it is a personal and eternal relationship; one that changes the believer from the inside-out, not the outside-in! I remember following baseball as a five-year old. I made jerseys with my favorite player's name on it and wore it daily. I mimicked his actions and followed his every word and knew all his statistics. I put up pictures and sought his autograph, even meeting him personally. I pursued him! However, even though I still admire him, he retired, he is growing old, he will die one day and no longer be in my sight. Not so with Jesus! He is real. He walked the earth. He performed miracles. Yet people killed Him rather than praise Him. However, He did it all for me, not for the world to applaud Him or pay Him a great salary. He simply asks that we now decide to follow Him with our heart, not our eyes. He is not asking for lip service, but LIFE service! So I ask you: Do you live for His every word? Do you follow His every action? Do you pursue Him? Do you want to be like Him in every way? Do not simply applaud Jesus, accept Him by His standards!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Loud and Proud . . . It's Time to Come Out of the Christian Closet and Fight!

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. . .the just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)
With so many shouting, protesting, complaining, and "coming out" today, I believe its time we Christ-followers "came out of the closet" as well . . . and loud and proud at that! After all, the rainbow is a sign that first and foremost witnessed God's promises to mankind anyway!!! While so many are hiding behind political banners, social media posts, and protest signs, we as believers are becoming lost in the crowd of popular opinion . . .even siding with the enemy without realizing what we are really joining. Be wary of false promises, half-truths, empty words, and yes, FALSE TEACHERS and FALSE PROPHETS! Paul would stand before philosophers, jailers, judges, and yes, even politicians and he was never ashamed to state his case for Christ. He saw his challenges and struggles as opportunities to witness to people he would never have the chance to share Christ with had he not been in those various situations. He never thought of himself or his dilemma, but would always turn his "lemons" into "lemon-aide if you would. He viewed even life-threatening situations as an opportunity to serve the Lord, saying "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21)! Are we trying to hide behind political correctness today? Are we choosing popularity over biblical values. Are we one way on Sunday and another way during the week? Do we pray with one voice and then sound totally different at work and in the neighborhood? Are we aligning with factions that do not align with our biblical beliefs? Perhaps we even need to check our core belief system as a whole! Trying times bring out the best and worst in people. Real character is revealed when we face real challenges! Are you still locked in the Christian Closet or will you come out and fight?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

a Different Sort of Life

"Lord, I will follow You wherever You go." . . .Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the Kingdom of God." . . .But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Luke 9:57-62)
These verses were a bit vague and questionable to me until recently. I often wondered what Jesus meant by "let the dead bury their own dead. Since experiencing the passing of my mom, I now can understand the phrase a bit better. Jesus was not being disrespectful in any way. He was simply stating the cost of true discipleship. Even in death, we must be careful to keep Christ first and remember to keep the message of the Gospel front and center. While tradition calls for weeping and crying, Jesus calls for calm and understanding. As in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything, but there is never a time to forget the main thing . . .Jesus! Death for the believer does not look like nor feel like death to the non-believer. It is not the end, but a transition into eternity. While there is sadness for sure, the joy of knowing Christ supersedes the sadness. We must keep focused . . . plowing ahead if you would . . . so as to keep everyone focused on Christ and His message of grace, forgiveness, and an eternal relationship with Him!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Standard Operating Procedure

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8) ,
Many folks want to know what is going in this world today. Bible-believers realize that the world is indeed winding down as stated in Matthew 24. This power is not simply to live a Godly life, but to intentionally WITNESS for Christ! It is Standard Operating Procedure for a Christ follower to share the Gospel! Though everyone is not cut out for the mission field or ministry, we are all called to share Christ in our everyday living . . . as we go about our daily routines and even as we travel away from home. We all have our own Jerusalem (neighborhood)and we have our Judeas and Samarias. We all travel away from our homes daily, whether to work, to shop, or even to vacation. Wherever we go, we are to be Jehovah's witnesses for the Lord! Our daily activity should be showing the world Whom we know and why we do the things we do. In this crazy world with all the uproar and upheaval taking place, don't you think we need just a little bit more Light to shine?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Take a Stand

Now brethren,concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him,we ask you,not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as it is from us, as though the day of Christ has come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. . . . There fore brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4,15)
Times are tough for sure. There is a lot of unrest and non-truth all around. But as Paul warned folks then, we are to be careful today not to believe the lies. This is just the beginning of the end, if you would. Jesus also warned us. (Matthew 24:4-8) As things get more challenging and believers are pressed to choose various sides, remember this: We are to be distinctively CHRISTian! Yes, there are issues of which we must take a stand, but take a CHRIST-like stand! Christ before family. Christ before political parties. Christ before culture. Christ before ethnicity. Christ before race. As far back as Martin Luther, it still Christ alone!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Stop faking It!

I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirst. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolators, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:6-8).
Some like to believe that one day everyone will eventually get into heaven and have peace for eternity . . .NOT TRUE! Do you really think God would have allowed Jesus to suffer such a brutal death to simply allow everyone to experience eternal life with Him? That would make the suffering of Jesus a farce and all the deaths of the early believers for naught! Only the repentant sinner receives eternal life with Christ. This is how we overcome sin and death. It is not of our own doing, but through belief and conviction that Jesus is Who He says He is and His work on the cross redeems us. As he died for you and me, we now are convicted to live for Him and His glory. If anyone thinks we can live as we choose and still be accepted by God, beware! The Word is clear . . . there is no acceptance into heaven without the acceptance of His Word. We have a choice, but it must be made while we are yet living!
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)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Celebrating Life as One Moves On . . .

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth . . . (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

The time to be concerned about death is now, while we are living. It is in our living that we determine our eternal destiny. Our living will decide how folks react when we die. You see, as Solomon wrote, if we leave a legacy of integrity behind, than death is indeed a celebration! If we know Christ and serve Him wholeheartedly in life, than our "home going" is indeed a celebration. The only regrets will be from folks wishing we could still be here serving and honoring the Lord. We who move on the glory with the Lord will have NO regrets about being with Christ, I can guarantee that!

Where are you today? Do you know Christ? Today is not too late to get to know Him. None of us are worthy of His grace, yet He offers it to everyone. It is a free gift from God. Jesus came to earth, suffered a brutal death, yet overcame death and rose from the dead so that we can have an eternal life of joy with Him. But we must repent of our sin and ask Him to save us from eternal hell. Oh yes, in case you did not know, there is an eternal hell for those who do not ask Jesus to rescue them from sin. Eternal hell is just as real as an eternal relationship with Christ.

But remember, a good name is no good without having the name of Jesus!!!!

           It's not to late to choose . . . (Joshua 24:15)



Saturday, July 9, 2016

So Much for Which to be Thankful

I thank God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6)
I thank God for all that has occurred on this leg of our mission trip; the financial support, the prayers, the encouragement, the teaching, the learning, the friendship, the protection, and most of all . . .the people! CHRISTianity, missions, CHRIST Himself . . . all about people. It is about His love for people and our love for people. We have been so blessed and I expect even more to come . . . because He is not through with any of us yet! THANK YOU . . .part two begins . . .

Friday, July 8, 2016

Unrest/Rest

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Tossing and turning all night wondering "what next?, "what is the best reaction?", and "what do I say to the kids?" Visions and dreams awakening me throughout the night. Finally he best I could do was simply discuss it with Jesus. As I searched and questioned, the simple and well known verses from Matthew came to mind. Really thoug, to Whom can we possible turn but Christ? It's easy to join various bandwagons, but in the case of our nation right now, CHRISTians need to do what we are called to do thought out Scriptures and that is to "come to Me" and not socio-cultural bandwagons.
We may not get all the answers, but we will get a sense of Peace and rest . . . It may sound cliche, but we were born for such a time as this! (Esther 4:14)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Proper Seasonings . . .

. . . . meanwhile, praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4:3-6)
Paul writes as he himself is imprisoned in Rome. Yet even in these trying circumstances, he is not whining over his situation, but praying for a way to share the Gospel right where he is. Paul encourages us today that we are not to be so quick to judge those who do not know Christ. In order to "redeem the time", we need to patient with the non-believer and understand their culture, their experience, even their current condition. While we cannot and should not try to understand everyone's experience in life, we are to be compassionate and empathetic. We simply have to be genuine in our caring! As we pray for wisdom and guidance, it is important to realize the need to be yoked with the Holy Spirit. As we go, we listen, we engage, we feel. The Spirit of God will give us words to say if we allow Him to control our hearts and minds. Sharing the Gospel is not a script but an act of love and kindness. It is not a means to collect bodies. It is an act of compassion for our brother and sister to care for their eternal life. Someone once cared enough to "show me Jesus". I saw Him in their eyes. I heard Him in their words. I felt Him their heart and mine.
Do we care enough to share?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Battle Plan

Therefore, strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight the paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this may become defiled . . . (Hebrews 12:12-15)
Many times, it is when we are tired and weakened that sin creeps in and takes root. We may even just be used to the routine and not aware of dangers around us. While on this mission trip we have been reminded not to walk alone in some of the streets after dark. We have been schooled on the various neighborhoods and various activities within them. We have also been warned of some of the kids' backgrounds and the attitudes they may bring to our camp. Yes if we are not on our game and let our guard down, we may still be shocked . . . we may still be surprised . . . we may still slip up. It is the same in everyday life. If we are not aware of our surroundings, we can easily slip and fall. If we allow our spiritual guard to fall, not preparing our armor daily, sin can creep in and take root. Without knowing, we can be caught up in excusing sin; pushing it aside rather than cutting it out; ignoring it rather than destroying it. The roots of evil can easily grow under the surface if not exposed and discussed. Every day we need a battle plan. Where is the enemy? How will he attack? What is my plan of defense? How will I attack it today? What territory is safe to even consider travel?
So look, carefully. Plan strategically. Let the Lord of Hosts lead and guide us into battle! Do not go into enemy territory without proper instructions and weaponry!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A New Diet Plan

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
Mission trips can be a physical as well as spiritual and mental challenge. We are many times deprived of our normal sleep patterns. We are challenged to work beyond our normal schedule and most times we are doing things we have never done before or do not believe we could do. Finally, most times our diet is challenged. We eat a lot of the same food over and over again. We crave our favorite "go to" snack but it is not available. At times, we must eat a totally different diet altogether and our digestive system my not like it! However, this all part of the sacrifice we make to serve God outside of our comfort zones. Some do it for a weekend, some for a week or ten days, others for a lifetime. Jesus tells us in this brief quote from the Sermon on the Mount that if we HUNGER and THIRST for the things of God, RIGHTEOUSNESS, than we will be filled, or satisfied. While serving, we may miss our extra hour of sleep, an afternoon nap, our air conditioned home, our favorite TV shows, even that gym workout, yet if we are not desiring to please "me" but others, we will find ourselves filled with the fact of knowing we are pleasing God and helping others. One thing about about serving God; the more we do it the more we want to do it. The deeper our craving becomes for the work of God and His people, the hungrier we become and the hunger grows. But this hunger brings satisfaction and peace of mind, not gluttony and regret. Oh, people will challenge us. Satan will indeed place doubts in our "diet plan". But hold on . . . keep pushing . . . like with any new diet the results will show over time and you will like what you see in the mirror!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sometimes a lonely race . . .

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by such a great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us RUN with ENDURANCE the race that is set before us, looking into Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As those in the past "ran" with Jesus and did so by faith (Hebrews 11), we too can endure the struggles we face as we serve the Lord "by faith"! You see, it was God who called us by faith to Himself and it is He who has set aside a specific task for each of us to accomplish in and through HIM. As PUl wrote in Galatians 2:20, this is NOT our life, but HIS! Who are we to say "I quit!" or "I can't!"? So as we pray, confess, repent, and turn away from the sins that can hold us back. Be honest with God. Ask Him for endurance, much like a marathon runner. The marathon can be a lonely run. The runner against everyone else; especially his own mind! Yet he is surrounded by dozens of runners attempting to the same . . . make it to the finish. Our race can be lonely. However, know we do not run alone. We have some great examples in our past and even today. Most especially, take heart in knowing it is God who has set the race before us and it is God who will see us through. He is faithful to complete the plans He has begun in each of us. Just RUN . . . . or walk . . . even crawl . . .but never QUIT!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Teacher

. . .do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say,. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12)
Day two begins our mission training here in New Orleans . . . Church first of course! I was reading when Jesus gave the disciples confidence in knowing as they went out taking a stand for Him, not to worry. God the Holy Spirit would actually teach them along the way. What confidence! Even after we have studies and think we are prepared, we still have doubts. However, the Conforter, the Guide, the Teacher will always be ther keeping us ready to work for Him. So as we go, I pray that for myself and our team . . . When we fall short, Lord you take over and work through us. Not me . . . But God and others!

Friday, July 1, 2016

AVAIL-ability . . . .

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you,, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
No matter how many times I am led to go on a mission trip, as the days draw near I become a bit apprehensive. Am I properly prepared? Have I properly prepared the team members? Have I packed properly? Do we have the proper materials needed to serve? Then I realize . . .
It's not about me!
This is God's work, not mine. The only ability I really need to use is my AVAIL-ability. No matter our plans and preparations, God is still in control. Things can and will happen along the way . . . even while on the trip. God forbid there will be no emergency or disaster, but only God knows. Planning is good. Praying is definitely the right thing to do. However, trusting God to work in and through us gives me peace.
Have your way Lord . . have Your way!

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! ” ...