Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Christian life is messy. I don't always get it right. I make a lot of mistakes, say the wrong thing, hurt someone I love, get angry, fear, and fail. It's really messy watching me live the Christian life, but I'm trying....I want to follow him and so amid the mess you will find me worshipping God. It's those worship times that keeps me on the right path even after I've made a mess of things.
The truth is that when you come to Christ it's only the beginning...it will take your entire life to just begin to look like Christ. And you need to know it's messy. You won't always get it right, you aren't going to understand what God wants each step of the way. You will make mistakes. You will fall down, you will fear and fret and fail. It's ok.....really. In the midst of the mess it's important to often take time for worship. Bow your heart and life to the God who is working in you. Amidst the mess of our lives we have an amazing father who is molding us into the image of his son. Don't get frustrated....he's working....he will get you there....just look at Abraham and you will be encouraged about your own walk with God. Amidst the mess God is working. Amidst the mess of the sins and scars God is working to make us like Christ. Soon we will see the results of all he has done and be amazed that he could do such amazing things with messy lives.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
By Victoria Moore
Created 10:15 PM on 27th October 2008 ........................(click on photo to enlarge)
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
This morning, as I'm unlocking the church at 5:45 AM, I was thinking about the basics of the Christian life and the conflicts generated when we contrast the world around us with the way we live our lives as Christians. It suddenly came to me....we need a way of making choices that works best on one ride in a world that functions completely different. On the Merry-go-round we do the same thing over and over again....we go in circles....up and down. It's the same thing over and over again. It's a safe ride, a predictable ride. It's consistent. We always know what to
Saturday, October 25, 2008
“For the majority of my life I was a shy, angry and insecure person. One reason for these feelings was a poor education and that made me feel inadequate. In my late teens I started down the wrong road; I started partying, drinking and experimenting with drugs.
I joined the military; it was a way to escape my problems. (I thought!) I was stationed in Germany and the use of drugs and alcohol increased. I began to have people around me all the time, and I felt comfortable with the people I had surrounded myself with. I didn’t have to worry about anyone being smarter than me; we were all either drunk or high. I started telling exaggerated stories; I liked the feeling that people were listening to me. But now I had added another problem to my list of problems, but as long as I could stay high, drunk or both, I could forget about it.
I met a wonderful woman and we were married and after a couple of years we started a family. I thought I had finally found the answers to my problems. But this was just the start of years of new problems. After I got out of the military and we came back to the USA my partying didn’t stop. It wasn’t long and problems started between my wife and me. This caused more anger and guilt within me. This went on for years and one night, sitting in a bar with some of my friends, I began thinking “what I’m I doing here? And calling this fun?” I wasn’t having fun. I was spending money we didn’t have and the guilt was eating me up, being here and not with my family. I realized this wasn’t the way. It wasn’t long after that I dropped the drugs, the hanging out at nights partying and the people I was hanging with. After a while I started thinking “I need to do something more constructive with my time,” so I began a hobby that my son could participate in. I even started night school, to learn to read. I meet new people, but it wasn’t long and I realized I still wasn’t happy. My wife was a little happier, for the first time in years she knew where I was at night. But I still had this emptiness in me.
At my job I was doing work I enjoyed, but I wasn’t getting along with my supervisor. So out of anger I transferred to another department. In the department I transferred to I was placed right in the middle of seven Christians and through the day they would be talking about the Bible. I thought, “What did I get myself into.” Growing up I had only been to church a few times with my grandmother. My idea of God was that He had a lot of rules. He didn’t want you to have fun and all He wanted to do was send people to Hell. That’s all I ever heard from Christians, as for the Bible, I didn’t trust people so how could I trust the people who wrote it?
But there I was in the middle of these Christians listening to them talk about the Bible everyday! As I listened, they would say things like Jesus loves us so much He died for us and how Jesus will forgive your sins and He can give you a new life. The idea of being forgiven and a new life sure sounded good to me. Before I knew it, I got a Bible to see if some of the things they were saying were true. A few of these people I just didn’t understand. They had some real problems going on in their lives, but they had such a joy about them. I didn’t understand it, but I knew if God and this Jesus in the Bible were true I wanted to learn about them. I started reading the Bible and I was listening to a radio program called people to people and before long I was asking them questions. They seemed to really enjoy talking to me, just as I was. I didn’t have to be anything special, just me.
In 1992 I started a great but long journey; I had come to the realization of why I had moved from the work I enjoyed, to this new department. It was God. He had put me here with all these Christians, so I could come to know Him. It wasn’t long, right there at work, I ask Jesus to come into my life, and that I knew He was the Son of God. That He died on the cross to take away our sins, and that I knew I was a sinner and for Him to forgive me, and I needed Him. I started going to Church and Bible studies. After a while I started noticing little changes in me, I wasn’t getting as angry as I once did, there were things I once did that I just didn’t care about doing any longer. God was showing me His peace through some tough times, like when my Dad was passing away. After a while things started changing. I was trying to live the Christian life but the more I tried the worse it seemed to get. I didn’t understand what was going on with me. I mean I would still sin at times and things would pop up in my mind I didn’t want there, I even started doubting if I was saved. I couldn’t get past the words in the Bible “go and sin no more.” How could God love someone like this? I mean Christians don’t have problems like this. It wasn’t long and a whole new set of problems started.
At work they needed someone in another department, so I took the job. I started working long hours and it wasn’t long before I wasn’t attending church as much and eventually stopped going altogether. With making more money I began getting things like a new truck, stereo equipment, etc. My whole life became wrapped up in things. I became boastful, I tried impressing others with what I had and I was jealous of others that had more than I had. I had never been like this in my life. This went on for a few years.
Then at my job, they started downsizing and I watched people I had worked with for years lose their jobs. I became very critical of the company. I had to train a man from another department, who had more company seniority for my job. After his training was complete, I had to go on nights, and he took my job on days. I became very angry and hateful and I was complaining all the time. There I was angry, upset at the world and all alone on nights. It was like a curse to me, being on nights. With the downsizing, my job had changed dramatically; it had become a monitoring job. So I had a lot of time with nothing to do. So to past the time I started reading books, it didn’t matter what, just anything to pass the time. This went on for weeks and my anger was starting to affect all parts of my life. After a while, I started becoming very emotional, I could be watching TV, driving or at work and I would just break out in tears. I didn’t know what was going on.
One night at work I went to pick up a book and I looked over on the bookshelves and there was an old Bible, one of my old work mates had left behind. Memories of what it was like when I had first opened my heart to God and had let His Word guide my life ran through my head. I picked up the old Bible and started reading. I read familiar verses like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” then for some reason I looked up the Ten Commandments. I start reading them and I just broke down in tears as I finally realized I had broken every commandment. I hadn’t murdered anyone but I sure had hatred in my heart. And I realized what a wretched man I am without God in my life. I asked God to forgive me and to take control of my life. I started reading the Bible every night, and God started opening my heart to verses in the Bible like never before. At times I would think, “How did I miss this before?” Like the doubts I had been having, Jesus told the disciples when they asked, in Matthew 19:25-26 “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” And John 3:15 says “that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
I also started seeing that I wasn’t the only person that struggles with temptations even after becoming a Christian. Paul said in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And you just can’t imagine how relieved I was to hear that. Paul gives the answer to our struggles in Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!” That was the answer, it has nothing to do with me but it has everything to do with Him. I can’t live the Christian life without Him. That had been my problem. I had started trying to do it myself. We have to turn our life over to Christ Jesus, and trust in Him and what He has done. When we come to trust in Jesus, The word of God tells me we were crucified with Christ and dead to the Mosaic Law. Our life is no longer self-effort as to keeping the Law; it is a life powered by the Spirit of Christ in us. Now we are to live by faith, Faith in the Son of God. The death of Christ upon the cross was not only paying the penalty for our sins, He was not only the sacrifice for sin; He was the substitute for all who believe. Like Paul said in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I am learning to just live each day for Christ Jesus; we live in a troubling world. But we just have to learn to rest in His word, Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” We will never have peace until we come to trust in Him. He alone can provide what we need to live and work with peace in our hearts, no job, no position, and no material things will ever be enough to give us the kind of peace we long for. He said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” God just keeps opening my eyes to verses in the Bible I didn’t understand before and I am now living in a peace, one like I have never known before. The hate and anger that was in my life is disappearing and material things, “I thank God for what I have but the things I have just don’t seem as important anymore.”
It turns out that working night was not a curse but a blessing from God. It has given me a lot of time to be alone with Him and study His Word. I know there will be temptation in my life but I also know that as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus he will be there to pick me up when I fail. I look back on my life as lessons from God to make me stronger in my faith. My prayer is that my heart and mind will be much more open to Him, in the future.
I’ve learned I cannot be confident in man, but I can be in Him! It has been a long road but I know it was God, through all of this, showing me what I am capable of on my own. He let me go from one extreme to another, and this I know for sure, God has never turned His back on me but it was I that turned my back on Him by trying to do things on my own.
There is a quote I hear a lot at the church I attend, that says it all. “Christ gave His life for us, to give His life to us, to live His life through us.” I would just like to say, if you haven’t come to know the Lord Jesus and if you have doubts about the Bible as I did just open your heart and mind to His Word and He will reveal the answers to you. As it says in Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” And if we trust and believe God, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us, to pay for our sins and He raised Him from the died to give us life.
And if from our heart we confess our sins to Him, 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Then you can count on what it says in Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.””
Thanks be to God
This is my story, Joe
Friday, October 24, 2008
by Lee Tokyo Times on October 22, 2008
"Many shops in the Japanese capital are conveniently situated in the city’s dizzying array of department stores; places where climate control and carefully coiffured cuties are commonplace — compulsory even. Yet down certain side streets and a bit of the beaten track, outlets with more character, if not exactly customers, can be found. Like this shop specialising in brooms for example. A store that, perhaps due to a niche that’s not exactly necessary nowadays, unfortunately hasn’t had the pleasure of a patron since 1972 — Saturday, September 2nd, to be precise. And even then the customer in question was after a hand brush that unfortunately they didn’t have."
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
1Pe 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
1Pe 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
1Pe 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1Pe 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1Pe 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
1Pe 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
That's our question as well. When the reality of life does not seem to line up as we think it should we raise our voices to God in protest and prayer. Sometimes he answers, but sometimes he doesn't. Will we trust him even then? That question is the one that troubles us about this book- God's request for our trust in the lack of knowledge. That's hard for us, but the truth is that if he told us "why" we wouldn't understand either. God's ways are so much higher and better than ours that if he told us what he was doing we wouldn't understand....our brains couldn't grasp it, so instead he asks, "will you trust me even if I don't tell you?" And that was his question to Job, and it's his question to us...will we trust him even when we don't understand? To be honest I still have to stop and deal with this in my own life. Today is a "why" day for me....I'll share the details another time....but when I find myself in the middle of a day like this he gently brings me back to him with this simple question, "will you trust me anyway?"
Monday, October 20, 2008
Our dear friends, Brandon and Jenny, were home from the mission field in Guatemala for a few days so Brandon could perform weddings for his brother and another good friend, Clayton. I had mentioned to him that when he came home next time I would love some raw coffee beans from Guatemala, and he didn't forget. Thank you for the beans. I look forward to roasting them, but more than the coffee it was great to see Brandon and Jenny. Brandon is about to finish language school and jump into the work of ministry to the pastors in his area. Thank you for the brief visit, and thank you for the wonderful gift of coffee!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
"I have never put my story into writing before....
I attended a Catholic school and had church-going parents. I was often told that if I was good, I was going to heaven. I was usually assured that, of course, I was going to heaven. That sounded pretty good to me. (I had not known what the term "born again" meant, nor had I ever thought I was not going to heaven.)
Not surprisingly, I found myself pretty far from God after I left the nest. But that was okay with me. I seemed to be doing fine. Plus, I was going to heaven. But, I found that my path wasn't as perfect as I intended for it to be. Was I really going to heaven? I made more mistakes. Oooh, maybe I'm not going to heaven.... Why couldn't I be the person I really want to be? Over a period of several weeks about a year and half ago, I became very concerned about my destiny and more certain that I was on a slippery and downward path.
At the same time, I had this severe, nagging feeling that I was missing one critical element in my life. It was something that would help my life to "click" -- to fit together nicely the way it should. But what WAS that missing thing? I also had a recurring thought over these several weeks that I needed a friend to tell me what that missing piece was. But I couldn't figure out WHO to call.... Who knew me well enough to know? Who knew the answer? My family knew me well... but they didn't have the answer. I knew some people who might have the answer, but they didn't know me very well.
After having these thoughts and feelings for several weeks, I flipped on the radio that our contractor left in our kitchen, looking for a "regular" station. However, I always seemed to land on the same crazy Christian station by accident. "Wow! Those Christians sure have a lot of money!", I thought. "They are taking over the radio!" I kept landing on the station. One day, it was "Back to the Bible"....
"Today, we're starting a new chapter in our Bible study. Everyone open your Bibles to the Gospel of John, Chapter 1." "Wow!" I thought, "I always wanted to do a Bible study!" As he explained that "the Word" was actually Jesus, I found our Bible, dusted it off, and quickly opened to the Chapter.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.....
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..."
"No way!", I thought. I was instantly brought to my knees in my living room at 2:10 in the afternoon by the incredible and sudden realization that Jesus was actually God. I had heard it thousands of times, but this time I knew it was amazing and absolutely true. I had instant tears and said that I was so sorry for Him for not knowing my whole life. The least that I could do for Him at that moment was to fully commit the rest of my life to him. I read the rest of John that night. I needed to know what to do.
The next morning, at about 10 am, I realized that I felt different. I had this very real and distinct sensation that I was different. Primarily, I felt forgiven. It was a physical feeling of having large sins and small regrets completely erased. I also had a very permanent sensation of feeling different inside... that I was now stronger and capable of becoming the person God wanted me to be. I can't describe how strongly that I knew that this feeling was real and permanent. I had not been expecting this.
I read the Gospel of Mark that night, then the New Testament, Revelations, Genesis, etc.. It was not until about three to four weeks later that I was told that my experience meant that I was saved. Since about that second day, I felt a slight sensation of the presence of God. I will tell you with great joy that it has blessed me each day since. (Well, there were a few days when it was gone, but that is a separate story.)
I now have many stories of how He has worked powerfully in my life. Most of them probably have the most meaning only to myself. I continue to devour the Bible readings daily and any Christian books that I can find the time to read.
I am now surrounded by a nourishing and wonderful church community here in Virginia. Meanwhile, I am also surrounded by many family members and friends who truly do not understand my change. I have tried to explain, but so far it has not made a dramatic impact on them. I don't know what He has in store for me. That has been the cry of my heart... that I will be able to fulfill what He has in mind for me, whatever it is. I am just so grateful.
I believe that my story is a testimony to the power of prayer. I sincerely believe that the prayers of my current church for the members of the community saved my life."
Jennifer in VA
p.s. We live in a moderately rural area. That radio station won't come in anymore. It stopped coming in about a month or two after I read John 1:1. The station manager said that they had not increased the signal strength at that time nor decreased it since. They suggested that, perhaps, some construction had helped the signal come in right at the time I needed it. I will never know for sure.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
What I would like to do in the days ahead is to give you an opportunity to share YOUR story. First names only please, but I would love to know your story and invite you to share it with those who stop by to read. What has been your odyssey? How has God worked in your life to bring you to Christ? So, would you share your story? It might just become the best part of our times together at this little blog. I look forward to hearing from you. You can send them to me at FinishingWellStory@gmail.com.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Awwwww......fall is here.....cooler weather.....beautiful trees.....the smell of fresh clean air. What a wonderful time of year. I think this is, without a doubt, the best time of year. I'm so grateful that God created the seasons. Just when you are tired of one then the next one arrives just in time. It all seems so well planned out, doesn't it? It's a great time of year to take the long way home with the windows down. I hope you enjoy the wonder of God's amazing creation and the beauty he creates as the seasons change. It should make you smile.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I am studying a passage of scripture that most of us do not think about much. It's the passage of Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth and his thoughts on "passing through" begin in chapter 4:1 and following. It's an amazing passage, but today I want to focus on just these few verses in chapter 5-
2Co 5:1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven--God-made, not handmade-- and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move--and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less.
We have a hard time letting go of these old tents of ours. I can't tell you how often I have heard family members say at a funeral of a loved one, "I can't believe this has happened to us!" And through their tears they are looking for an answer from me. Did they forget that everyone dies? Don't they know that the mortality rate for the human race is still 100%? What did they think would happen when their loved one got old and ill? It's amazing how we live in denial that the fate of all mankind will be our fate as well. How do we get so attached to these frail, windblown tents of ours? I think that many I encounter have no hope of anything beyond this, so "hold onto your tent as long as you can" is their philosophy. But for us who know Christ, who have trusted him as savior, we know this is only the beginning of our lives, and these dwelling places, like tents, are temporary and will soon wear out. The hope we have is not only for our salvation, but for our new bodies...the permanent bodies that will never wear out, get sick or hurt again.
As a "tent dweller" myself I long for that permanent residence that Christ promises me when he returns because, frankly, I'm beating this one up pretty badly. As one of my old friends tells me, "old age isn't for sissies." Age has a way of prying our fingers off of this life and making us quite aware that this will all soon end. When this life is over what's next? Have you planned for the next life by trusting Christ as your savior? If you have, then the transition from this life to the next will be like moving from the tent into a mansion. Being part of the nomad tent dwellers of planet earth I can't wait for the day when I see Christ and discover how he meant for us to live all along. Since you are just passing through this life make sure you are prepared for the life after this. I'm tired of living in tents.....I'm ready for that eternal home built on the rock.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Psa 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
One of the things that stuck with me from our conference last week was a statement that Chip Ingram made about being a pastor. He said, "You need to know that only 1 out of 12 people will make the decision to grow in their faith and pursue God." I guess I knew that intuitively, but to hear it said made me think- today, as I encounter people and teach the word, only a few will choose to grow and will begin to imitate Christ. And those few will look funny doing it at first. Like a child trying to imitate their father, the wardrobe won't fit....we will need to grow into it. But those who choose to grow, as silly as we may look at first, will soon begin to look like Christ. The clarity for me was to realize that this thing called the Christian life is God's business. I can do what he asks me to do, but few may respond....regardless of the response I must do what God has called me to do. Some will follow, baggy Christlike wardrobe and all, but soon they will grow into the clothing. All of this is God's business. I don't need to worry about results....I just need to be faithful and let God do what only he can do in the lives of men and women. We will get to see all that he did through us one day.....until then follow Him.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Luk 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
Luk 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
One of the things that I really enjoyed was the opportunity to meet fellow pastors. We got to know several very sweet couples who pastor smaller churches in different parts of the country. We talked about our different ministries, and shared our victories and challenges. It was a very encouraging time.
The one thing I thought, as they shared their lives and struggles, was how blessed we are to be part of our church family. Even though the last couple years have been difficult I wouldn't trade our church for any of the other churches I heard about from my new pastor friends.
I'm glad God placed us where he did and when he did. It's exciting to be part of his church in these last days and see him work in the lives of so many. It's a most exciting time to be alive....to be part of his church at the end of days. I'll tell you more when I get back.