Friday, June 28, 2019

Why pray? Why share with others?

 Why pray? Why share with others? Well, according to the writers of scripture, prayer changes things and people! James tells us it heals the sick, forgives sin, and restores friendships. Prayer can also change things of nature and cause God to do things He wants to do in our lives. You see, our sin can keep God from working. Yet our confession and fervent prayers can also make a way for God to bless us with His plans for our good and the good of others (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:13-18)

Not praying, not confessing leads to doom and failure, sickness and even mental strain. Yet being in the will of God, with a clean heart before Him, gains mercy. (Proverbs 28:13). God and His Word sheds light upon our actions and thoughts. It brings to light our deeds. It shows us right from wrong and allows us the chance to come clean with God and others through prayer and confession. This puts God's plans into action! (John 3:19-21)

Are we praying . . .  not just at specified times but all day? After all. many religious folks pray at certain times of the day! If we are in true relationships, with God and fellow believers, then our conversations need to be often and always! If we ant things and people (even ourselves!) to change, then we must pray more and share more!

After all, if we expect to be living eternally with God and His people, shouldn't we know them a bit better?

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Yearn to Learn then Teach to Reach!

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.  The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.(2 Timothy 2:1-7)
 Yearn to Learn then Teach to Reach! So many today are stressing college . . . career . . . and cash. Get your degree and get your money. So what does that  get you? Of what value is a career and money without substance . . . without real investment into anyone's life, much less ones own?

Paul instructs Timothy to be bold and strong in his faith. He reminds him to remember all he was taught and not just use it for selfish gain, but to teach others who will then in turn reach more with that knowledge.

Always seek new knowledge and particularly biblical Godly knowledge. This is the foundation of any learning.(Proverbs 9:10-11) Yearn to learn more and more. We will never know all there is to know about God! Yet as we learn, we are to teach . . . mentor, disciple . . . reach others!

All people need to see how to live out genuine faith in God; young and old alike. It is not enough to be told. It is not enough to know. What are we doing with all we learn?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"assembling" or "isolating"?

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,  and having a High Priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 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 10:19-25)
Yes we now can enter into God's presence by ourselves.....because of Jesus, we need no special oils, animal sacrifice, nor high priests. Yet we must do it humbly, with respect and in repentance. We do it only because of what Christ has done for us, not anything we have done!

But some feel as if we do not need the fellowship of the Church. Some believe we can have a genuine relationship with God without the Body. How is it possible to exhort others, pray with others, confess to others, and encourage others over a phone, iPad, tablet or MacBook? That is not "assembling" but "isolating"!

The writer challenges Christians to be even closer to one another as the Day approaches, not drifting apart. As Christ nears, we need to be more unified.

Where are you and the Church?

Are YOU in fellowship or in isolation?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Let people use the gifts they have to serve

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11)
This may not be the last day, or maybe it is, but we are definitely closer to Christ's return today than we were when Peter wrote these words around A.D. 60! If it is, then we need to heed Peter's instructions!
Be serious and watchful in prayer. Actually love one another . . . especially within the Body. Care for one another. Let people use the gifts they have to serve, but use them to glorify God! Let me pause here . . . . .
How we treat one another in the Body of Christ tells the world much about God. If we squabble, back bite, gossip and criticize, then the world sees a false image of Whom God is. If we are selfish, prejudiced, discriminating, and jealous, the world sees this as common among believers. If we are not any different from the world in our actions and practices, then why would others want to join something so common?
I often wonder and ask God why so few serve within the Church Body. Many do not want to serve, I get it. They choose to hide in the pews. But what about those who want to serve and are qualified yet never chosen? What about those who don't fit the mold? Would Jesus not choose them?
Had God chosen the popular or best of the bunch to serve Him He definitely would not have chosen many whom He called and accepted! He looked into the heart of people and not simply their physical or academic qualifications. He did not check their membership cards or even their cultural identifications! Just maybe we have missed out on some sincere servants simply because we did not think they were qualified!
One reason we are so divided within our churches is that we choose to be. What if SONday morning reflected the diversity of gifts and people rather than reflecting a specific culture? What if we worshipped with a Jew, a Greek, a Roman citizen, fishermen, tax collectors, Samaritans, and even a prostitute, adulterer, or even a murderer? How cool to sit with a Paul, a Peter, a Matthew, or David, Mary Magdelene or Moses! What if Jesus had not chosen to speak to the Samaritan woman? Gideon was too weak. Thomas doubted too much. Paul . . . well he definitely could not be trusted!
Test the gifts and spirits of men and women yes. But use them when tested and proven. Look inwardly! Examine hearts. Allow God to use the people He has gifted despite our preferences of culture, speaking style, fashion or skin color. Don't allow the gift to go unused! As the Body becomes more inviting, those we invite may just come and join!

Monday, June 24, 2019

It's nice to share! Invest forward . . .

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to sharestoring up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.(1Timothy 6:17-19)
It has been said that the poorest in the USA are still the richest in the world. I understand that. While we do not have a lot as a bi-vocational working middle class mission family, God has blessed us with so much compared to the places we have served in the past 22 years. From folks on the island of St. Vincent, the poor in Jackson, MS, the heartbroken and devastated in New Orleans, flood victims in Columbia, SC, and most recently the ravaged US islands in Puerto Rico, God has called us to serve not only here in the DMV, but across the states and over the Atlantic. We have witnessed so much heartache and pain, yet the sweetest spirits and hearts still praising God despite the situation. We have been blessed beyond belief that God has chosen to use us as broken and imperfect as we are! We are indeed RICH!

We could not have housed more than 65 individuals and families in our own home, served thousands of homeless, coached and mentored hundreds of teens, or led countless to Christ without YOUR generousity! We may have answered God's call to "GO" (Isaiah 6:8) but you have sent us and continue to send us today! You have invested forward and we are grateful as are the ones we have served through your kindness.
 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.(Matthew 6:19-21)
So we continue to humbly ask for your partnership so we can go and serve.  We are nearly at our team goal to serve in Puerto Rico this summer. In six weeks we leave for ten days of community service with ten teenagers. Please support what God is doing! God bless you for your sacrifice!!!!

Friday, June 21, 2019

To the end of the world....

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech,

And night unto night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech nor language

Where their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
God is evident in nature! The psalmist says even to the end of the world! No one has any excuse to not realize there is indeed a God Who in in control. (Romans 1:20) Anyone who claims there is not God is simply foolish! (Psalm 53:1)

It is the believers' task to make others aware. (Matthew 28:18-20) We must relate the simplicity of God to the ignorant . We do not have to be all churchy and seminarian in our talk. A simple sunrise, a sunset, cloud formations, the birth of a child, the gentle rain or even a violent storm . . . all visible signs of a might and all- powerful God.

Science cannot prove it. Math cannot compute it. Philosophy cannot explain it. It is not an it at all but God and God alone! He is evident to the end of the world.... Do YOU know Him?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Basic questions . . . Basic answers

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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . .(Romans 1:16-29)
One thing I love about God and His Word: the basic questions get the basic answers! God doesn't play around with a lot of maybes or it depends. On the basic questions . . . Who am I?, Where did I come from?, Where am I going?, Right or wrong? . . . God gives basic answers!

Paul reminds the Roman CHRISTians, living in a corrupt and decadent world, that Gods Truths are clearly known and people are without excuse. The same goes for believers today. We cannot justify sin by saying " things change", "it's different today", "God will understand".

Understand this:  God does not change for you or me!

Like Paul instructed the Romans, we too can see and understand God in the simple things of nature! Science clearly shows us there is a God! How else is the sea held back, the winds controlled or the earth held in orbit? Oh, explain it away by the moon's pull, the the weather patterns, or gravity, but who controls that?

God made Adam for Eve. Just looking in a mirror tells a person what gender they are . . . Its not complicated! We do not have to choose.  The Truth is right before our very eyes! All we have to do is use common sense . . . natural sense . . . God- given sense!!!

I don't know about you, but since hearing and understanding the Gospel message some twenty-seven years ago, I now more than ever, am not ashamed or embarrassed concerning biblical Truth. It makes more sense than ever, the more twisted the world views become. It still gives basic answers to the basic questions of life!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Giving thanks for your partnership in ministry to teens

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places....( Ephesians 1:15-20)
As we prepare to serve alongside ten teens in Puerto Rico this August let me take time to thank all of you for your prayers and financial partnership. For over 20 years now my wife and I have been led by God to serve families and children locally, throughout the mainland U.S. and abroad.  It has been all God and the support of others.

Yet now, as I have been pleading for you to help support our kids, we are falling short of our own support not just for the trip in August, but for our personal ministry support.

Will you please help us complete our mission trip goal? We are at about 65% of our funding needs at this point. The teen retreat ($3000) and mission supplies ($1000) are our biggest need now.

I thank God in advance for your support. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Dios es amor ♡. . . .God is LOVE! ♡

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in loveWe love Him because He first loved us.
Relationships crumble due to fear. Fear of losing control. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of intimacy. Fear of being stripped of all masks and shields and saying , "Here I am, just as I am!"  Yet for the Christ follower, all fear should be gone!

Love, yes Jesus, God in the flesh, has given us a boldness to say this is who I am and before God and everyone else, I accept it. I am broken, weak, and unworthy! But because of His Love, I am able to stand in His strength and His grace . . . even before God . . . but only because of His Love!

In Godly relationships, there should be no fear of being exposed and vulnerable. The CHRISTian marriage should be an open case before one another and God. Relationships within the family and within the Church should be based upon the openness and honesty that we all need Christ and one another to exist properly in His LOVE! We should never need to put up barriers, masks, or shields of defense. Knowing how broken we are as individuals should allow us to be more understanding and sympathetic to others. Yet we allow pride, ignorance, selfishness, and fear to blind us!

I don't know about you, but the Holy Spirit has work to do in this life! Have Your way Lord!!!!

Monday, June 17, 2019

A challenge for believers: ONENESS....ONE-ness

Just ONE word . .  . . .ONENESS! This is supposed to be the reality within CHRISTianity!!!! We are supposed to be one as in reflecting THE ONE whom we claim to follow and honor! Yet there is so much discord, selfishness, and division.
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;  not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.(1 Peter 3:8-9)
Why is unity so important within the Body of believers?  It is a witness to the world that Jesus Christ is Who He says He is and it allows a sinful and dying world to experience a better options than what the world offers! Varying doctrines and opinions within the "church" causes doubt and lack of faith. If we are indeed one, we must be consistent with His Words!

His Word does not ever change despite what society says. It does not bow to culture. It does not tremble at political correctness. All mankind and all of his statutes and laws come under God's authority! We as believers must live this out now more than ever to accomplish Jesus' will for us in some of His last words to the Father . . .
 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)
Please do not allow the world to trick us. Let's be on ONE accord!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fearful World . . . Faithful God!

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,  who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. . . . (2 Timothy 1:6-9)
Fearful World . . . Faithful God . . . . As I ponder the past academic/ministry year, I realize so much was and is out of my hands.

To start the year in September, my wife was informed that her job was cut. Immediately my thoughts went to how we would manage . . .yet my thoughts are not His thoughts. Ten months later . . . We did ok! 

We were wondering what God would do with our twentieth year of teen and family ministry, but as He called my wife back to full time ministry, He also enabled her to start rebuilding the infrastructure and the Board grew in strength and God doubled our membership to over twenty teens at one point. Ten months later . . . .We did ok!

Finally, as we planned our third mission trip serve Puerto Rico this summer, we promised a team of fifteen after taking nine last year. We had twenty- two volunteers and now two months out, we have a solid team of guess what? . . . . FIFTEEN!!!!! A year later . . . We did ok!

It is indeed a Fearful World but a Faithful God! We will be ok!!!!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

There is only ONE standard . . . God's!

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,  and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.  For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.(Philippians 1:27-30)
We cannot be like the world! (Romans 12:1-2) I know it's hard with all the social media, video, music, movies, fashion and worst of all, the church's own properity teaching! It is a constant challenge, facing the "waves " of this world, yet having the desire to please Christ and be pleasing to the Lord and representing Him well! 

Paul challenges the Philippians to "stand fast in one spirit" despite the challenges. It is our challenge as well! How does the world see CHRISTianity if every denomination, every church, has its own standards? There is only ONE standard . . . God's!

As school days come to a close and summer plans begin, the challenge is to not only put God first, but to KEEP Him first! No compromise. No short cuts. Enjoy life but seek FIRST His pleasure, His approval, His Kingdom purposes! (Matthew 6:33)

Happy summer y'all!!!!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

♡Are We Known for Our LOVE?♡

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)
♡Are We Known for Our LOVE?♡ If God is LOVE (1 John 4:8), then we who worship this God should be known for our LOVE as well! Are we? God has gifted all of us in many ways, spiritually and physically. Some can preach . . . Some can teach . . . Some have great faith . . . Others can lead well . . . Some care deeply for the needs of others and make other's burdens their own. There are gifted singers, writers and creators. We have fast runners, high jumpers and thank God, we have those with patience (for folks like me!). 

Yet without LOVE . . . the agape LOVE Paul describes here in these verses, we have nothing! In the CHRISTian community, are we known for our LOVE? In the general population, at work, in school, at the mall, as we drive on the highway, are we known by our LOVE
As a Body, my success is your success and your failure is my failure. If I win we all win, but if one of us loses, then we all suffer loss! Do we genuinely care Form one another and Form the things of Christ? If He desired for no one to be lost (Matthew 18 :14), then are we known as soul care-takers or simply takers? Do others see us as reflecting Christ's LOVE, or are you and I what others say CHRISTians are . . . hypocrites
Do we LOVE the sinner . . . the child bound by ADHD . . . the teen seeking attention . . . the co- worker struggling as a single parent . . . the family member challenged with drugs and alcohol . . . the spouse hooked on pornography . . . the church member debating a divorce . . . the friend trapped in a same-sex relationship? 

S O U L S are in the balance! With all God has gifted us with as individuals and as a Body, are we taking time to LOVE?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Let love be without hypocrisy.

Let love be without hypocrisyAbhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.(Romans 12:9-18)
Most people believe I am outgoing and enjoy large public settings. My wife and family know me as one who prefers the quiet, small, intimate setting. However, I have learned (been discipled) to be sociable! I have adapted to enjoy the fellowship of many and have come to enjoy it p. I have evolved from a rather private person to one who can be comfortable in a large worship service, participating in workshops with strangers, conversing with a classroom of teens or a discussion with more learned adults. However, it is not through any of my efforts, but the work of the Holy Spirit!

What I cannot stand is the hypocrisy I experience in life! So many will praise you one day and turn around and curse you a minute later when speaking about you to another. A smile can turn into a snicker in a heart beat. Kind words turn bitter in just minutes. If you are like me, we can easily turn back into isolation mode if hurt or offended.

I expect unkind things and selfish motives in the world, but if believers can treat me this way, then I don't need it! However, this is not Christ, so I fight the desire to isolate myself. I must force myself to get back into the fight! I cannot be isolated yet I cannot accept the world's ways either! I must be salt and light!!! (Matthew 5:13-16) Like the coffee bean, I must strive to change the environment in which I find myself. I cannot wilt, run, or be absorbed. As a disciple of Christ, I have been changed by Him to allow Him to change others through me! Even as I face hypocrisy, I choose to stand for LOVE! (1 John 4:8)

Monday, June 10, 2019

identity crisis

Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.    (John 13:33-38)
Why do I identify so much with those the likes of Peter, Paul, and David? I guess it is because I too struggle greatly with sin and am so distraught when I realize what I do to Christ when I sin!

How can I say I love my Lord and Savior yet do so much to hurt Him? How can I call myself a CHRISTian yet I identify with sin? I battle it daily, much like Paul! (Romans 7:14-25) This is not and excuse as much as it is a plea for mercy and grace! This salvation is indeed grace from God and a spiritual and physical battle to succeed! Without the sealing of the Holy Spirit, I would be lost.

Growing up in church but not knowing Jesus personally, I experienced way too much unGodly activity in the church, my home and in the "CHRISTian" schools I attended. It wasn't until experienced a life-changing event in 30's that I knew I needed more! Sports could no longer mask the pain. People could not satisfy me anymore. Even my quiet times were full of noise with me. I was introduced to Christ and He loved me like no other. He promised me that He loved me and I felt it! He keeps that promise! Not a promise based upon feelings, money, or what I could do for Him, but one based upon His love for me! He called me . . . He saved me . . . He secured me. No one can take me from Him or Him from me!

Even though I still go through an identity crisis daily, I know I belong to Christ! He did the work. He is perfecting me. (Philippians 1:16) I cannot do it alone. (Ephesians 1:13) My goal is to bring as many to Christ as I am able in this life. Though I still doubt the motives of people and prefer a quiet laid back life with few people, I realize must live as Christ wants me to and reach people with His love. So I do it for Him . . . because of Him!

Only what I do for Christ will last!

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...