I just wanted to share one of my new favorites with you to start the new year. Enjoy the music, and I know you will enjoy his style as well.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
One billion people in the world are muslim! That's amazing to me. One billion people....for me this is a big thing. I care about those around me who don't know Christ, and that's a lot of people who need the savior. I have had a burden for the muslims for a long time, but frankly don't know what to do with that burden, so I'm going to pray. I'm going to pray for them, all one billion, to find Christ. And I'm going to pray that many will see their need and seek him. I have met a few muslims. Most are wonderful people who love their wives and kids and just want to have a good life. It's only a few hundred million of that billion who would be considered "radical." That's still a lot, but I may not meet any of them. So, what can I do? I'm going to pray for them, and I'm going to look for opportunities to talk to them about Christ. Christ died for them too, I can't ignore them....
Mat 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Mat 5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Mat 5:46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Mat 5:47 "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Mat 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Sunday is coming, and I am preparing a message. Just taking a moments break to change my thoughts. It's hard when you hit a mental wall. I have a clear understanding of what I want to say (big picture), but the details elude me. I am going to be in Mark these next two weeks. One of the passages that really sticks in my head is something that Jesus said to one of the religious leaders, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." I know, if I had been in the crowd listening that day, I would be like this little girl, picking my nose and thinking, "huh?" I shouldn't say this, but I feel that way a lot! Ok, back to the point- not far from the kingdom. We somehow have a funny idea that the kingdom is coming "someday," and yet Jesus made it clear that this scribe, 2,000 years ago, was near it.
It's clear from the passage in Mark that this man was a seeker, and looking for answers. Jesus told him that he was close. I wonder if he pursued Jesus later to ask, "how do I get from here to there?" I know I would have. If I'm near, what else do I need to do?
I guess my questions range in this direction- Do most people know that God has a kingdom? Do they really want to be part of it? Do they know it's already being inhabitated? Is there a longing in their hearts to find this kingdom? How do we help those around us find the way in?
Like this little girl, I stand, picking my nose and wondering...
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The reality is that the new year is simply a day...just another day. The road ahead does not end, we simply start another day, another new beginning.
Psa 95:7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts...
Thursday, December 21, 2006
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although, I do appreciate being remembered anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that let Me go on.
If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can and may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish. I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up
John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it.
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know. They tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up...it will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5. Pick someone thats hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile. It could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line. They talk with people like that every day.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day, they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.
9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them (and I suspect you don't) buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me. They will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
P.S. Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work. Time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love.
I LOVE YOU,
"Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them....Matthew 18:20"
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
If you are coming to this holiday with a loss in your family since last Christmas you will grieve, but take some time and celebrate all the holidays you did have with this one who isn't with you this year.
If you find yourself divorced this year you will discover that everything is completely different for you from last year, and depression may be part of the holiday. Look for ways to serve others during this time, and get involved in the lives of others who are hurting as well.
If you are alone this Christmas find others in the same situation and get together for a meal. Don't spend the time alone, get involved in the lives of others around you.
The suicide rate is highest during this holiday season. Be aware that the hurts of a loss, a divorce, or simply of being alone are magnified during the holiday. Look for those around you who are hurting and care for them, spend time with them, love them.
This is truly the time of God's comfort for us, the promise of hope, a time of joy. I hope you all have a great Christmas.
2Co 1:3 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!
2Co 1:4 He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
2Co 1:5 We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort--we get a full measure of that, too.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Isa 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Isa 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isa 9:7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
The prophets knew Messiah would come, and they longed for the day. In fact one man, 2,000 years ago, was promised that he would not die until he saw the Messiah with his own eyes, and he did! The great story of hope for the world is that God's love has been poured out in the form of a baby. God himself took on human flesh to provide salvation for us. Jesus, that baby, is the Messiah of the world.
There are so many voices in the world saying, "this is the way, follow us." And in the midst of it all Jesus himself said,
Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Joh 3:17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Joh 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
I am so grateful that God sought me out, and freely gave me life through his son, Jesus. It's by faith in him alone that we find salvation and eternal life. There is no better gift for this time of the year than to receive the salvation God has provided by faith in Jesus as savior.
The prophets looked forward to that day. I am so blessed to be able to celebrate the day when their prophesies came true.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
And lastly Christmas is about God's hope- God gives us hope. Hope of a solution, hope through his love and savior. Hope for the future embodied in the baby in the manger. Hope of life because of God's gift, Jesus Christ.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
1. God is good...ALL the time. We say that, sing about it, read it in the bible, but I don't think we really grasp how big this truth is. The goodness of God is foundational to the very understanding of the bible, and of God himself. The fact that God is good is core to the Judeo-Christian faith.
A.W. Tozer wrote in The Knowledge of the Holy, "That God is good is taught or implied on every page of the Bible and must be received as an article of faith as impregnable as the throne of God. It is a foundation stone for all sound thought about God and is necessary to moral sanity. To allow that God could be other than good is to deny the validity of all thought and end ill the negation of every moral judgment. If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty, and heaven can be hell and hell, heaven."
Jesus himself said something very interesting, Mar 10:18 "And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."
It appears that our understanding of goodness is distorted. We consider a lot of people good, but Jesus made a very dogmatic statement, "No one is good except God alone." I am a little troubled by that verse. I think, in my mind, I disagree, but in my heart I know it's right.
So what is goodness? Again I defer to Tozer, "The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people."
And what is amazing to me is that this attribute of God never changes. He's always this way towards us. He is always good to us...in fact that's what Christmas is all about- the goodness of God coming to earth, taking on flesh, and dwelling with us to provide what we could not attain on our own- LIFE.
As you celebrate Christmas bask in the goodness of God as you think about what this time means- God's love, his goodness made flesh.
(part 2 coming soon...)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Let me invite you to give this picture a title, add a verse if you wish, and tell a "whale story" of your own....have fun.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I'm reading a book by J. P. Moreland right now, and it has me thinking about the messages I communicate to the world through my life.
One thing that's clear from the bible is that our lives are to be a light to the world, a sign directing them to God. I have been thinking- can people read my sign? Can people see my light? Does it direct them to God, or are they more confused than before they met me?
I am always amused by the Braille signs in elevators. I have wondered, do the blind know where those little signs are? I know it helps them IF they can find it. In the same way does my life look like Braille to those passing by? Does my "sign" (my life) direct people to God?
These questions aren't offered for me to answer. I'm simply suggesting we ask the questions for our own lives. Does my life give light to the blind, the lost, around me? Are the directions on my sign (my life) clear enough to read? Does my life point to God? Am I drawing people to Christ or confusing them?
J. P. Moreland has me thinking....that's all. If you want to know the title it's "Love your God with all your mind." A great book, but very challenging!
Mat 5:15 If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand.
Mat 5:16 Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (The Message)
Joh 4:35 "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
Joh 4:36 "Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
Friday, December 08, 2006
I'm so tired of the curse. It weighs the human race down with such a load that it's impossible to do and be what we were meant for. It feels much like this little ass....with such a load it's impossible for him to do what he was meant to do. What can he do? On his own he's helpless!
And so are we. Apart from the saving work of Christ to die for us, take the load of sin, and free us to be what he designed us to be, we are forever defeated. Thankfully Christ has died and risen again to pay for our sins and give us new life....
...and yet....I am still waiting for the hope of my salvation to arrive and finish what he has started. I can't wait for that day, but until then I must admit I'm tired of the curse. I'm tired of what it does in me, and how it affects those I love. I'm weary of illness, death and sin. I'm tired of what the curse has done to us and our world. I can't wait for the day when all will be made right as God intended. I can't wait for sickness and death to end. I can't wait for tears to stop. I can't wait until our enemy is forever defeated.
Until then I pray for my dear friends struggling with illness. I pray for the lost I know who so desperately need a savior and have no hope. I pray for the church, the bride, waiting for her groom. I pray for those around me to find the true meaning of this season and find the Messiah who takes away the load of sin that makes us unable to please the God who made us.
Until that day...the day when Christ returns...I will trust the Lord. My hope is in a risen Christ who will come for us soon, and deal with this dreaded curse of sin, sickness and death. Come Lord Jesus, come.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I have been thinking of a dear couple that we have become friends with who have lost a son. It has broken their hearts, but I am watching them both grow in faith far beyond what they even now realize. In the midst of their grief God is working.
I have been thinking about a sweet young couple that I have known for years and now read their stories online as they serve God as missionaries in another country. I am watching them reach out to the lost around them with the love of Christ. I am so thrilled to see what God is doing in their lives.
I have been thinking about a dear couple whom we have known for years. They have had a real love for God through all the years we have known them, and yet their children have broken their hearts. We have cried with them, and often just sat with them and listened. They love God, and are following him through very dark times in their lives. Yes, they do ask "why?", but know the answers may not come in this life, and yet they follow God.
I have been thinking of others over the years...many more than I can write about here, who have followed God, loved him and served him. They weren't all beautiful people. They were not, for the most part, popular...just ordinary people...people you would pass in the store and never see, but people who are amazing because they have allowed God to use them.
People like Fran, a man whose joy in life was greeting people and handing out bulletins at the first church I pastored. He was a factory worker, just an ordinary guy, but his passion was making people feel welcome in God's house, and he did.
What I find is that God doesn't use the great, wealthy, powerful and beautiful....he uses US. He uses those who think they have nothing to give. He uses the broken, the hurting, the discouraged. He works through those least likely to impress the world. He uses us so HE will get all the glory. I'm so glad that he does. I am one of those who the world does not notice, and yet God can use me and be glorified. In the passage below I have always found great encouragement because I have found myself there- God uses "the things that are not (me), so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." He uses nothings like me to work in his kingdom. I am so thrilled that I can be part of what he is doing in his kingdom. Imagine that, a thing that is not...filled with his spirit and employed for his service, making a difference in time and eternity....wow!
If he can use me he can use anyone....and HE DOES! So, be encouraged. God can work in you, no matter what you think you offer, and he will be glorified through what we bring...broken lives, shattered dreams, tired hearts and all...God can use each one.
1Co 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
1Co 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
1Co 1:28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
1Co 1:29 so that no man may boast before God.
1Co 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
1Co 1:31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I have had a few days off, and am catching up on my reading. I have a stack of books with me, and took some time yesterday to read a classic by Phillip Yancey. Although he doesn't define grace directly the stories he tells define it better than he could have done with a clear theological statement or definition. It's a great book, and very encouraging. It has made me deal with some heart attitudes of my own.
I find that the more I learn about the grace of God the more I want to know. I truly believe that the grace of God is one of the least understood truths of the Christian faith.
Years ago C.S. Lewis walked in on a discussion of his friends. They were discussing what made Christianity different from all the other religions. Lewis quickly responded, "grace!" That is the defining difference. In every other religion man is constantly trying to please the gods of their faith, only Christianity teaches that all God offers is free of charge!
If you're looking for a great book to read I would invite you to read Yancey's book.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Amo 5:5 "But do not resort to Bethel And do not come to Gilgal, Nor cross over to Beersheba; For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity And Bethel will come to trouble.
Amo 5:6 "Seek the LORD that you may live,
Mat 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.