Monday, July 31, 2017

You Cannot Trust Just Anybody!

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.(Psalm 62:5-6)
David shares with us his faith. This is not simply a faith of a resurrected life with Christ in eternity, but an encouraging faith for each day and the challenges it presents. David is being threatened by Saul's family for the throne. David realizes it is God and God alone whom he can place his trust. What if we fully lived out this verse? How would our lives be different? Many of us place out trust in people, jobs, titles, or bank accounts. All these are capable of failing us in one way or another. Yet God will never fail us! My salvation . . . my honor and dignity . . . my very breath rest in God alone. Nothing + Nothing + Christ = EVERYTHING I will ever need!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Know Your Role!

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, (Romans 12:3-4)
Everyone in the Body has value, yet no one is more important than anyone else! What would the Body be without those who serve the children, or clean the buildings, or keep the buildings properly running? Who would hear without the preacher or learn without the teachers? Try having any function without folks with the gifts of helps to run a nursery. Try planning an event with someone gifted to organize and administer the financial details. Everyone is needed. Everyone in the Body is placed there by God for His glory! If we think we can just show up and be served, we are sadly mistaken and the Body is lacking. You and I are needed, yet no more than the next one! What is your gift? USE IT!!!!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Show the Gospel

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Being on the mission field is a challenge. There are the typical challenges of culture, language, weather, and the like, but people alone are he biggest challenge. Whether short or long term missions, people and personalities can present problems! It is how we react to the various challenges that either brings honor or shame to the Lord however. Our example is Christ Himself. No matter what He went through, He showed mercy, kindness, concern, and grace. He did not place His desires over the needs of others. His "desire" was that all would come to know Him (2 Peter 3:9). How we treat others, how we react to others, the patience and grace we show . . . this alone can bring others to question "why?". I have been told several times that we have to share the Gospel . . . and if necessary use words! Our actions do count. Love is a VERB!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Press on....

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.(Hebrews 6:10)
As we have been laboring on homes in South Carolina, many of us have grown tired, exhausted, even a bit ill at times in the heat. Fumes have taken some down. Out young people aren't used to the constant work, sweat, and energy needed. Yet we press on . . . Serving God and loving on the people is our goal! #teensservinginsc

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pray today . . .for someone and with someone!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
No one likes to admit they cannot do it alone. "I got this!" Well, in reality, none of can exist on our own. We needed God to even become a living and breathing soul. We needed parents to navigate us through early years of life. We needed teachers and other mentors and coaches along the way to model and teach us about life. We even have role models to which we fashion our lives. One of the greatest strengths of a CHRIST-follower is to admit one's need for God and community. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to NOT forsake the assembly of the fellow believers . . . and not just an hour on Sunday mornings! We are to encourage one another, help one another, seek out one another, and pray for one another. There is no instruction in the Bible for "bedside Baptist" or "website worship"! Oh, it may be nice to catch up on the latest sermon or hear the choir by searching the church web pages. We may even listen in while we are traveling out of town or even under the weather. But is NOT intended to take the place of corporate worship and face-2-face prayer, worship, and conversation. God made us to be relational. No matter how introverted one may be, there is still a deep set need for community and relationship. We are in fact a BODY . . . not simply an individual part. We are meant to fit together and BE together!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Refocused Vision . . .

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. (Galatians 6:7-17)
We hear, read, and see a lot of "talk" today concerning the Bible, the Church, CHRISTians, and the what is going on in the world. Recently, I read a post on social media about a lot of "biblical" talk going on! My reply was that the Word of God is not simply talk or a topic of conversation to debate, but it is THE TRUTH! It is not to be mocked as if it was stated on a talk show or needed to be proved right or wrong. With all that is going on wrong in our world, even in our personal lives, we cannot as CHRIST-followers allow ourselves to be caught up in the world and the solutions it offers. We must continue to stand against evil, lies, injustice, and other "ridiculousness" with educated, organized, respectful, and TRUTHful responses (1 Corinthians 14:40). We simply cannot rush to a mob protest. We don't spurt out from our mouths whatever comes to our minds. We do not join in every and any conversation until we think and consider the situation (James 1:19). We are not to be of the opinion that "we" can bring forth change but that with God all things are possible!(Matthew 19:26) As Paul stated above, if we are in tune with the Spirit of God and have been through enough experiences with Him, than the things of the world, though troublesome, will not change us. Following the laws of man may be a good thing, but there is a greater and more perfect way . . . the way of the Cross. It is believed that Paul wrote in large letters (Galatians 6:7) due to his troublesome vision. He suffered greatly physically for the cause of Christ. We cannot run every time we face a challenge. After all, these battles are not ours, but the Lord's!(2 Chronicles 20:15)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WHY?

The one who dies with the most toys does not win. He is just leaving behind a mess of things for others to sort out! Why are we doing what we are doing? Why are going to work every day? Why do we go to school and strive for the best grades? Why do we strive to eat right and exercise? Why do we go or not go on vacations each year? Why this new car, that new house, these clothes . . . WHY? As a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12) for and to God, we as believers need to be careful to do everything we do for the glory of God and to draw others to Him, not us! We cannot be caught up in the competition of this world. While we are all made in the "image" of God (His characteristics), we are all made individually unique and with specific gifts in which to serve God and others. (Psalm 139:14)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Think about "why" we are doing what we do today, tomorrow, next week, next year, the next five years. Are we planning to serve God and in that planning, are we preparing ourselves to do just that? Or is it about "me" and how I stand in comparison to others?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Who am I? Mistaken Identities . . .

Who am I? What makes me who I am? Many today "are" what they do, who they hand out with, or where they go. People describe themselves as doctors, lawyers, teachers, athletes, Republicans or Democrats. Folks claim European identity, African identity, Native American or Asian identity. A person may say they are American, Spanish, Caribbean, or Kenyan. However, identity comes from within . . . from the core of one's soul. Think about who you and I are . . . As created in God's image, I/we should reflect His characteristics. However, because of sin, this is not always the case. We who have claimed Jesus as Lord and Savior have been put to death on the cross with Christ and now have new life within us (Galatians 2:20).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
How do you and I live this verse out day to day. First of all, we are Christ's! I am a Christ follower . . .before nationality, culture, tradition, location, or any other affiliation. If these identities counter the beliefs of my Savior, I MUST distance myself from them!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Calling on God...He is REAL!

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. 4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. 6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. 7 Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. 8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.(Psalm 63:1-8) Last July 5 I was awakened from sleep with the room spinning, severe nausea, sweating and real fear. I was totally out of control. For the next several hours I could do nothing but lie in bed and pray...in between bouts of dizziness and trips to the bathroom. I actually had to grip the toilet to hold it still. I was literally being drained...inside and out. . . poured out . . . My bride did all she could to cool me down and hydrate me with water, cool rags, a fan and gatorade. After nearly eight hours, things began to calm down. We learned it was severe heat exaustion. Several days of yardwork in 90° heat and a July 4th of constant grilling (with not enough water!) had done me in. I am no longer young! I now realize what a blessing it was and is. God wanted to remind me to allow Him more control of my life. Just about a week later, things are just about normal. I write all this to bring glory to God...not me or anyone else. For the first time in my life I was out of control. I could not even stand without my world spinning like a bad satellite feed. Closing my eyes did not help. I feared sleep, not knowing how I would awake or if I would. I know my future in Christ but I did not know my present on earth. But I had the sense and courage to call upon God! Many times we read in Psalms how the psalmists would call upon the Lord in times of danger, strife, and even in praise. While it is a scary thing, God gives us courage to face adversity as we rest in Him and Him alone. Listen to these words . . .
145 I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O Lord! I will keep Your statutes. 146 I cry out to You; Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies. 147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. 148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word. 149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, revive me according to Your justice. (Psalm 119:145-149)
I depend upon Him like never before. He reminded me that my life is NOT in my hands but His. I cannot even depend upon my next step because it may not be steady. Yet as I exclaimed in church last SONday, even upon some shaky ground if you would, He has picked me up, turned me around, and placed my feet upon solid ground! It's in God's strength and His healing that I can STAND and WALK with Him today! Through the night watches I called and He answered. He has revived me again . . . and just in time too because we have a mission trip to serve on beginning next SONday!!!!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Standing with God, not Man

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! (2 Timothy 4:17-18)
As we enter our twentieth year on ministry to families and children within the community, I can recall numerous times when we felt alone, abandoned, misrepresented, isolated, under-qualified, rejected, even falsely accused and considering throwing in the towel. But for God . . . He has stood by my wife and me. He has provided when no one else could do so. He has called and qualified us both to serve. He has built us up and taken us through and over both valleys and mountains. He has reminded us over and over again, "Just as I was with Moses, I will be with you." (Joshua 1:5-9) Even when the Body doesn't understand, know you are called. When friends or family reject you and the work God called you to do, know it is God Who called you, not man! Stay focused upon the needs of others, not personal feelings and needs. As we have heard over and over again, "What God has for me is for me, not everyone else." To God be the glory . . . GREAT things He has done . . . and WILL do!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Don't Hesitate

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you. (Proverbs 3:27-28)
"I'll pray for you." How many times have we heard that one? How many times have we said it to someone in need and then forgot to pray? Maybe we did remember . . . perhaps we prayed right away with that person. But what if we could have DONE SOMETHING???? Many times we do not realize that God has presented us with an opportunity to help someone yet we simply do not even consider it. Sometimes it may just be a listening ear. Perhaps it may be a daily text message or weekly phone call. It may be to share lunch. Maybe . . . just maybe, God is calling us to sacrifice something already in our possession for someone else! Take the time to think and ask God for opportunities to help. We must keep our spiritual eyes opened and be ready to respond. The writer of Proverbs challenges us to give when we have the ability to give. Don't hesitate. Don't hold back! If today we hear God's voice to be a blessing . . . let's not harden our hearts ♥️ . . . let's give!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

HIGH ALERT: An Escape Plan

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, FLEE THESE THINGS and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:6-11)
Every office building, school,building, mall, even our homes should have an escape plan in case of emergency. I vividly remember after 9-11, families were encouraged to have not only a plan to escape any dangers, but also to have contacts around the nation and world in order to connect with family members in case of disaster. We were even told to have emergency food and survival packs for up to a week's use prepared and packed for any such emergencies. Those were days of HIGH ALERT! We are living in dangerous days today . . . yet I am talking about spiritually dangerous days. We are being told that wrong is right and right is wrong. What was once GOSPEL TRUTH is now popularized as close-minded or simply not relevant anymore. One cannot even believe everything we hear in our churches, on CHRISTIan radio, or in "gospel" music. We must be accountable for our own actions! Paul offers an ESCAPE PLAN when we find ourselves tempted by these lies and snares . . . Dont consider. Don't contemplate. Don't try it out. FLEE!!!!! RUN!!!! RUN F A S T!!! If one sees a hand grenade at their feet, they don't watch it and see what will happen. They don't pick it up and consider whether it will explode or not. One does not stay in a burning building and wait and see how hot it will become before leaving. So what is YOUR "Escape Plan" from sin and it's snares? Consider Paul' words carefully . . . .

Monday, July 10, 2017

God's Promises; My Responsibilities

I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.(Psalm 119:60)
As the psalmist meditates on the excellence of God's Word, I too can think back to my many times of disobedience and how it hampered God . . . not from being God but by keeping His best from me! God is full of mercy and slow to anger, yet my disobedience . . . your disobedience . . . can cause the Lord to hold back the things He wants to bless us with or to even use us for His glory. We all know the saying, "God can't bless a mess!" I stand upon His promises this day. I am indeed fearfully and wonderfully made! He does have a plan for me to succeed and not fail. He does promise life and life more abundantly. His blood still heals and forgives and through His Spirit I know have everlasting life in Him and with Him! But all these promises are on God's terms and not mine! Listen to David's pleas before God:
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1-2)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Struggling through . . . .

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
These past few days have been a challenge for me physically and spiritually. I am always telling folks to trust in God and to not fret about things. He is still on the throne and He is still in control. These words were tested for sure these past few days. After preparing for a Fourth of July celebration and then spending the day in the sun and behind the grill, I was slammed with a severe bout of heat exhaustion but it hit me in the middle of the night . . . dizziness, nausea, and a lot of doubt and yes, fear! When your world is spinning and your body is in reverse . . . it is troublesome indeed. It has taken two days to get back on my feet but still not normal. Yeah I am reminded that God made me, He knows my inner workings, and He will heal me. Of course I have had the heavy doses of water, Gatorade, and TLC from my wife. Yet is still up to God to get the inner workings back to normal! I will praise Him, because He has made me and still knows me!

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...