Friday, September 28, 2018

faith grounded and anchored in Christ

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
The storms ARE coming! Where is your faith? Is it in this world . . . this society . . . your possessions . . .  your family and friends? Beware! I have witnessed homes and relationships torn to pieces from violent storms, physical and emotional. It is not pretty. It is not easy. Yet with a faith grounded and anchored in Christ, one can remain standing!

Where is YOUR faith?
 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.(1Corinthians 15:58)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Titles, Degrees, and Positions....

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he whodoes the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have wenot prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus was not impressed by people calling His name just to seen with Him or even he led by Him. To call someone "Lord" means that he is master and ruler.

If we call upon the name of the Lord, then we are asking Him to be Ruler and Master of our lives, not simply Savior. But it also means that  Jesus is our suffering Servant and we thus become His as well. We become a servant of others.

Many in Jesus' day simply used titles to impress . . . . just observe the Pharisees. The sat in high places and demanded actions but did little to serve or set an example. Jesus called them children of the devil (John 8:44-45). It is no different today. Rather than serving more and caring more, folks receive titles, degrees and positions and then demand respect and honor while sitting in their offices. We forget where we came from, the older people would say.

Be careful. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). So much was required of our Lord! As His followers, much is required of each of us. Yes, titles, degrees and positions come from much labor, dedication, sacrifice, service and commitment. So why stop now?  Keep sacrificing . . . Keep giving. . . . Keep serving! Until He comes . . .

Titles, Degrees, and Positions....actions speak louder than paper!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Evidence . . .

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-16)
We have all heard it: No one cares how much you know until you show how much you care ! Kids especially can sniff out phoniness. I have been involved with youth since I was one. Fourty years of coaching, mentoring, fathering, grandfathering,teaching, and caring . . . not perfect by any means, but I beleieve I have been genuine. I hope and pray there is EVIDENCE, or FRUIT from my labor.

Puffed up words, fancy clothes, degrees and then like do not equal genuine care and love for people or for the Lord. Jesus was genuine and caring. He was available. He was willing to sacrifice. He gave from His heart! He gave of Himself!

Talk, talk, talk, talk . . . a lot of talk these days. But where is the FRUIT . . . the EVIDENCE?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Stairway to Heaven or a Highway to Hell . . . You Choose!

Thinking of travelling? Lets do a brief comparison . . .There is a huge difference when comparing a highway to a stairway! 

Stairs are traversed by foot at a much slower rate, struggling at times when going up, perhaps out of breath and stumbling, even taking time to pause for a breath here and there.

Highways, on the other hand, are travelled by vehicle, having many lanes, some even just for high occupancy and express travellers, and are tackled at high rates of speed and high risk of danger if not careful.

Highways: Wide . . .Broad . . .Fast . . .Destructive
Stairways: Narrow . . .Slow . . .Difficult . . .Rewarding
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  (Matthew 7:13-14)
 Stairway to Heaven or a Highway to Hell . . . You Choose!

                                      The STRUGGLE is real!

Monday, September 24, 2018

God's Design and Our Desire

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?3“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6: 28-34)
If I could only be as the wildflowers in the fields, growing, maturing, and blooming as God designed and nourishes. Among the weeds, despite weather, withstanding storms, the wildflowers continue their cycle of growth/bloom, and it continues year by year.

 The flowers grow and mature without worries about rain, wind, drought, or weeds. They are totally in the hands of God. If we, made in His image (Genesis 1:27), much more radiant and complex that a wildflower, would simply trust God with the details, how much more would we bloom and grow according to His plans?

God's design or our desire . . .is their really a choice? We worry so much about the weeds around us, choking out our plans. We plan against storms and in the process create our own! We feed on the world and our fleshly deires rather than the richness of His design for us. We allow the winds of this world to uproot us rather than staying firmly rooted in His Word.

What more could we accomplish if we would only learn from the wildflowers?  What if we placed our trust in God, the Master Gardner, just a bit more?

Friday, September 21, 2018

Better to walk away a loser, and WIN!

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. (Matthew 5:23-25)
 Be a PEACE-maker! While there will always be disagreements, discord, and strife in life, we believers do not have to add to it. We are challenged by Jesus to bring PEACE  . . . bring Jesus into the situation.

Jesus offered reconciliation, forgiveness, understanding, humbleness, and yes, SACRIFICE.

Before seeking JUSTICE, seek to settle. Forgive, because some really don' t know what or Whom they are dealing with in a situation. (Luke 23:34) Court rooms can be a war zone! Be willing to walk away. (Matthew 10:14) We do not want our character, our testimony, even our worhip diminished!

Better to walk away a loser, and WIN!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

But wait . . . there is MORE!

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17)
Jesus left nothing undone, from birth through resurrection.  From Bethlehem Ephrathah (Micah 5:2) through His ascension back to the Father (Acts 1:9), Jesus fulfilled all that was prophesied.

But wait . . . there is MORE!

Jesus will come back! (Matthew 24:30-31) He will fulfill all remaining prophecies....to redeem His people and reward His people.

This is NOT it .  . . .STAY TUNED!

 . . . being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete ituntil the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

SALT made the world go 'round!

SALT made the world go 'round! Salt was used to prepare foods, to preserve foods, to disinfect and heal wounds, and yes, it was even used as currency! So when Jesus referred to His disciples as the salt of the earth, He ment much more than simply a few shakes of a container to make vegetables a bit tastier.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.(Matthew 5:13)
Like salt back in the day, today as Christ followers, we are to prepare souls for the Gospel message, preserve the faith, identify and remove the sin sick infections in our lives and others', and we are to be consumers ruled by His Words not the money we exchange in commerce.

We are not here to simply taste good, we are to radically change things! There is a different way of doing business . . . .

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Reaching and Teaching the Lost


Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.(Matthew 5:7)
 So many cry out for justice today. . . . and rightfully so in many cases. Please do not get me wrong. Our nation, our world is full of injustices! But it was so in Jesus' day as well. Yet He told His followers and us that those who offer MERCY are in deed blessed by God!

What is mercy anyway? It is NOT receiving what we deserve. We have pleaded mercy from our parents since we can remember. We plead mercy before the policeman or judge in traffic court. We plead mercy from our employers for our tardiness or lack of performance. We definitely plead mercy with God, because without it we are lost forever! Yet we DEMAND justice when we are wronged!  We think it strange in fact when a victim publicly offers mercy and forgiveness, don't we? "How could they", we ask.
 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)
He is saw a hurting and hungry crowd of over 5,,000 and could not ignore thier need. They were hungry and in need. He offered mercy, stopping and feeding each one! Did He have to do it? Could He have passed them by thinking someone else would do it? Was He too busy to serve them, teach them, reach them with compassion and mercy?

Many are lost today . . . lost in their economic situation . . . lost in relationships gone wrong . . . lost in the justice system . . .no hope, no guidance, no shepherd! What if we, the Church, could offer mercy rather than stirring the pot of hate, anger, and division? What if we offered a place of hope rather than gloom. What if showed compassion? What if we fed the crowd Truth, Grace, Compassion, Peace, and yes, MERCY?

            Be BLESSED, you who are MERCIFUL today!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Big difference

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, forso they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works andglorify your Father in heaven.(Matthew 5:11-16)

Matthew 5 . . .take time to read the entire chapter today and dwell upon it. Simple, yet radical words for then and for today! Those poor in spirit.....merciful....pure-hearted....peace-makers....the persecuted hall find peace and happiness in Christ, not this world.

The proud, boastful, arrogant, power-hungry, attention seekers, money grabbers, and stirrers of strife may get what they are seeking, but here on earth only . . . there is no room for such in God's Kingdom!

Big difference . . . . Lord help us to strive to live by Your instructions and not the dictates of this world!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Do not wait until the world fails . . . .


Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.

Many are they who say of me,

There is no help for him in God.” Selah

But You, O Lordare a shield [a]for me,

My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

I cried to the Lord with my voice,

And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;

I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people

Who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord;

Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.

Salvation belongs to the Lord.

Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah (Psalm 3)
There is so so much the world has to offer. There is so much to cherish. There is an abundance to appreciate . . . . friends, family, beautiful beaches, cozy mountain hideaways, lazy lakeside cottages, beautiful homes, luxurious cars, sleek SUV's, endless recreation choices, even virtual on-line getaways. We tend to believe the world has so much to offer . . . until IT fails us.

People let us down. Homes need repairs. Vehicles have to be maintained. Rain can ruin a vacation. Storms can destroy even the most luxurious of island or mountain resorts. Jobs can be abolished due to budget cuts or industry needs. Money runs out eventually. Even the internet can go off-line!

Then God? NO!!!! It's ALWAYS been God! He is Supplier and Source of all resources. When we have things, it's God. When we lose things, it is still God. It is always God . . . good times and not so good times.

Do not wait until the world fails . . . trust God now and every day! Then we can sleep at night!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The ONLY God of Thunder!

“At this also my heart trembles, And leaps from its place.Hear attentively the thunder of His voice, And the rumbling that comes from His mouth, He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth. After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard. (Job 37:1-4)

God can speak softly or in a thunderous voice. He can hold back a storm or allow it to spin its viscious winds and rains. He can send a soft summer breeze or cause thunder and lightning to rumble through the skies.  Yes, He IS God! He is the only God of thunder!

Despite the ups and downs of life; the disappointments and raging storms, He is still God. Accept God as He is. Do not try to make Him Who He is not or Who we want Him to be. Respect Him. Honor Him. Fear Him. Love Him. Trust Him. Obey Him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Call 9-1-1 . . . . Tomorrow is NOT promised

Call 9-1-1  . . . .
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
9-1-1. . . . Psalm 91:1 . . . . 9-11
September 11, 2001. . . . It's one of those days most remember clearly. We remember where we were, what we were doing, what was said and all the vivid pictures and comments. It wasn't simply NY, but the Pentagon, Pennsylvannia, and the entire country . . .  even the world as thousands perished and more lives changed forever!

I will never forget because of what God did to prepare my family months before. As I heard the news reports at 8:46 from NY, I was shocked. Then at 9:03 another plane hit the South Tower. At 9:37 reports of the Pentagon being hit were published. This really hit home! Then at 10:07 we hear of a plane crashing in Pennsylvania.

While this was devastating to the Nation and families, to me it was a reminder of God's grace as well. You see, my wife was obedient to the call of God to full time ministry just months before as she resigned from her post at the Pentagon. God allowed her to come home to serve in ministry and preserved her for our family as well. Her obedience saved her! Yet she still grieves the loss on many co-workers that day, some who did not know the Lord! I so admire her courage, her faith, and her willingness to sacrifice for God and for us. Money and career did not rule her!

However, it was hard to rejoice over my wife's safety while hurting for so many others and wandering what was next. Seventeen years later, as wounds still ache and hearts still cry out, we can still say " God is good!"

While we never forget the tragedy, let's also never forget His grace. He is still God. As things wax worse and worse (Matthew 24:4-14), our trust in God must increase. I learned a hard lesson in 2001 and even more in the following years as we went through other challenges as a Nation but also as a family.

God never fails. God never rests. He is faithful even when those closest to us let us down. I am so grateful for His protection and provision for my wife, our family and the many He has allowed us to serve through The Sparrows' Nest Ministries over the last twenty-one years. But God . . .

Tomorrow is NOT promised. We have today though. Do not waste it. Seek after others. Serve Him while we can!(Hebrews 3:15)

Monday, September 10, 2018

The God of PEACE


Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered;  Let those also who hate Him flee before Him, As smoke is driven away, So drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. (Psalm 68:1-3)
Wars, battles, fights, arguememts, disagreements. . .seems like there no peace and never will be peace, in our world, our nation or even within our homes and churches. We are always disagreeing or complaining about what is not right! 

Yet God is the God of Peace (Romans 15:33). He offers Peace. He IS Peace! However, we must accept Him and live out His Peace in our lives and express it to others.

We live in a world of confusion and uncertainty. There seems to be no real truths anymore. But this is the world, not God! We, His people, need to step up and step out. We need to be seen and heard. This is not a time to shrink back, but to rise up and offer "Peace be with you!" (John 20:10) 

As Jesus appeared to His followers after His resurrection, He no doubt knew the troubles they would face. Yet He offered PEACE. He gave them instruction to "Go", (Matthew 28:19-20) not shrink back into the crowd or hide behind church walls. So let's GO!!!! Give Peace, offer Peace, share Peace, be at Peace.....the only way people will see and expereice Peace is through the Prince of Peace living inside of us! 

Lord, help me to not only be at Peace with You but push me out into this world to share Your Peace with everyone I come in contact with today!

Friday, September 7, 2018

that serious?


You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me...
In God (I will praise His word), 
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust; 
I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?          (Psalm 56:8-11)
 David was not afraid to be vulnerable nor was he afraid of what people thought . . . as long as he was right with God. He cried. He danced. He sang.

What are we holding back? Tears. . . Cheers . . . Fears?

Do we weep over sin and celebrate God's grace or celebrate sin and weep over those who choose to live fully for Christ? I was once asked if was "that serious" about all that church stuff? I guess that was a compliment!

Choose Christ and all the emotion that comes with it. Choose to live to the fullest!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Never walk alone!!!


Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.(Psalm 51:1)
Fear . . . Anxiety . . . Abandoned. . . Lonely . . . Questions . . .

David feared being abandoned by God.....losing the Holy Spirit due to sin. Yet because of Jesus, those who have genuinely confessed Christ as Lord and Savior are sealed until the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30) However, sin can cause us to lose the sweet and intimate fellowship with God.

Man may forget us. Friends may reject us. Even parents can make us feel a bit unloved at times. But the true child of God can be assured that God The Father will NEVER leave us or forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5)

Repent of known sin today! Have that intimacy with God restored. Never walk alone!!! He will supply all you will ever need.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:19)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Be the Change . . . .

For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.       (Psalm 50:10)
God owns it all! Simple . . . Truth!!!!

As I begin another  year of teaching and we as a family begin with some rather challenging plans, I am reminded that everything belongs to God . . . . especially my life!

Others cannot change what God has for me unless I allow them to do so. However, I can change other's lives by speaking and living out His Words! I can BE THE CHANGE rather than allowing the culture to change me.
Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As raindrops on the tender herb, And as showers on the grass. (Deuteronomy 32:2)
Lord, please use me to Your glory to change and challenge others and not to allow them to change me!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

right where God has us

For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death.(Psalm 48:14)
 So we find ourselves at the end of another summer, which was full of work, family fun and as usual, some unexpected changes! After some wonderful travel, both family and ministry, and weeks full of excitement, reality struck! Our A/C unit went out, my wife experienced a sudden change in employment, and on our ministry planning session away, our car broke down several times! We "limped" back home on God's grace!

 Yet, we are right where God has us. . . in His will and totally dependent upon Him . . . again!!!! After twenty years of ministry, God is still God! No matter what we think "we" do, God has a unique way of reminding us that He is still God.

As the Psalmist writes in the verses above, "this IS God."  He will always be my guide! Do I always follow? Well . . . . .

However, this is my goal. This is my prayer. While I hardly ever understand the "why" or the "when", I know for sure the "Who" and He knows me. He knows what I need and when I need it.

Lord, keep me focused upon You and not my circumstances. Be my Guide through it all so You receive glory!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Year 21 . . . Won't He Do It.....Won't You Join?

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete ituntil the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-6)
As we are away planning, discussing, remembering, and praying about the years past and the coming year for our TEST (Teaching and Equipping Successful Teens) Coaching ministry at TSN,  I am reminded of all those (probably even YOU) whom have prayed, fasted, encouraged and even supported TSN financially over the yeras. Thank you!

As we enter another year of service, our 21st year glory to God, we have been taken back to the beginning. Once again we are relying upon the Lord for the sole support of the ministry. Our finances have been cut in half as Tamara comes home to work TSN full-time as she was called in 1998. We no longer have two incomes to support both household and ministry needs.

Yet we know and believe what Paul wrote about his life. God will continue to perform the work He began in us twenty years ago. God never quits and we pledge to not quit either. Times have been tough before, facing foreclosures, electricity turn offs, vehicle repairs and more. God got us through those times and He WILL do it again!

The question and my plea is: Will YOU join in the work?  Our ministry goals are between $3,000 and $4,000 a month to carry out tasks planned for the teens and ministry in general. Your pledge of support is vital to what God will do.

Join us today! Contact us at Jcforkids@tsnministries.org and we will be glad to have you partner with us!

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! ” ...