Saturday, January 30, 2016

Prayerful Consideration

On my way home from work Thursday night I was listening to a radio show, In The Market, with Janet Parshall. Many of the topics for this blog come from shows like Janet's. I hear something that applies directly to my life or the life of someone I know . . . so I write about it. But that night something else came out of her show, something wonderful.

Thursday night's show was about partnered prayer - praying WITH someone else - to God. This could be a spouse, a friend, or even a stranger As it turned out, the show I was listening to seemed targeted directly at me . . . and my wife.

How I long to pray with my wife. We have only prayed together once - during the complicated birth of our grandson. We had never prayed before that and we haven't prayed since. In 37 years of marriage we have only prayed once.

I have a prayer partner at work. We pray daily. We pray for our spouses, hoping that one day we might be praying with them instead . . . or in addition to. In the case of me and my wife praying, I was thinking it would again take something critical before we ever prayed together again.

Oh, the provisions of God!

Upon my arrival home, Janet's show still weighing on my heart, I asked my wife how her day went. Her day had not gone well. I sat to her listening to her tell me about something disturbing thing that had just happened. She was very upset and frustrated by it.

"Thank you, Lord, for giving me eyes to see,"  I said to myself, as God presented me with an opportunity to pray with my wife. I smiled briefly, recognizing the gift.

"Would you like to pray about it?" I asked, as she finished her venting.

"No. That's something I like to do by myself."

That was that. The rest of the evening went by, us going our separate things - she baking cookies for our grandson, me reading my Bible in the other room. And at one point she told me, "I'm going to bed."

"Okay," I replied. Another opportunity lost. Perhaps she is going to bed early to pray. That would be good.

As she left the room I continued to read. Let's see . . . where was I? Proverbs 22 . . . Sayings Of The Wise . . . see if this speaks to you as it did to me Thursday night.

"Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them (the words of the wise) all be fixed upon your lips, 19 So that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you. 20 Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, 21 That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, That you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?" - Proverbs 22:1-2

"I have instructed you today."

I closed my Bible, got up out of my comfortable chair. It was comfortable no more. Opening the bedroom door, I knelt by the bedside the bed and I prayed with my wife. I kissed her good night and return to reading.

The following morning I got up and left for work, not knowing the results of what God had caused me to do . . . what He had caused to happen in my wife's heart. But I know this. There was a tremendous joy in praying with my wife. God had caused me to take a step outside my comfort zone and into the realm of the unknown . . . where Jesus is. I encourage you, my friends, to do the same thing in ALL your relationships. Trust in God. Healing broken relationships is HIS thing. But let US pray. Let us praise! And let us NOT be afraid to pray. :)

The Power of Partnered Prayer - In The Market
Voice of Truth - Casting Crowns
Voice of Truth - Story Behind The Song

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why Is The Floor Wet?

Do you think you're a pretty good detective? I mean, given a few clues, do you think you can figure most things out? I'm that way. After 60+ years of experiences I can figure most things out . . . given enough information that is. At least that's what I thought.

This past week something happened in  our house. It happened right under our noses, There was no loud bang or sudden thud. Just subtle little signs here and there of a major problem.

"I must have spilled something while I was fixing dinner," my wife said. "The floor's wet."

That was clue #1 but I had no idea anything else was wrong. I just figured my wife was right so I went about my business. That was a mistake.

The following night my wife made a similar comment about the wet floor in our kitchen. This time I went to investigate.

"You're right. The floor IS wet."

I'm such a sleuth. Nothing gets past me. Only this time I noticed something else. A piece of our laminate flooring was buckling, warping, because of the presence of water. Hmm. Could my wife's spill from the night before STILL be damp?

I got down on my hands and knees and had a look around. There was ANOTHER wet spot. This thing was spreading. What's going on? I called for my wife, who had retreated to the living room. She likes to let the house detective work in peace.

"Let's move the refrigerator out, away from the wall," I suggested. And so we did. And we became enlightened. The entire floor under the refrigerator was wet. There was water slowly dripping from a plumbing fitting . . . loosened over time. Our kitchen flooring was ruined. All because of a little water leaking out of a supply hose. We never noticed it seeping in. All we saw was the after effects. The damage. What once would have been an easy fix, now will cost hundreds of dollars.

Our faith can be like that. Are you a good detective when it comes to apostasy and false teaching creeping into the church? Are you able to discern truth from lies? How DO we know what's truth and what is not?

I have heard it said that the best way to distinguish between a real 20 dollar bill and a counterfeit one is to hold the bill that is in question next to one you know is genuine. Examine it, inspect it. The same is true with the things we hear and see. We should hold them up next to God's Word and compare.

Is what the Pope says true? Your pastor? Your friend? Examine their words. Compare them to what is in the Bible - the Word of God. Do your own investigation. Examine the evidence. There can only be one truth. Find it. Follow it. Remember it.

"And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances." - Matthew 22:16

"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." - John 1:17

What Is The Truth - The Passion of The Christ

Monday, January 25, 2016


noun: schism; plural noun: schisms

a split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.

synonyms: division, split, rift, breach, rupture, break, separation, severance, chasm, gulf, discord, disagreement, dissension - "the schism between her father and his brother"

Schism is weird sounding word but it describes perfectly the differences between various opposing factions. For example, there is a schism between Packers fans and Bears fans, Democrats and Republicans . . . politicians in Washington D.C. and . . . the people they represent.

I was reading through the Book of Acts a few days ago and it struck me that there is a schism in the church these days - between what the church use to be and what it is today. Read with me from the Book of Acts:

"42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." - Acts 2:42-47

Is there are schism between what we just read and the churches we attend? I think there is. How many of you thought that passage from Acts 2 described "a commune" rather than the church? I did. But I come from a generation that feared communism (as in Soviet Union, Communist China and Vietnam). Maybe communes no longer have that "hippy" connotation. The passage in Acts that we just read describes what the church was like at the beginning. So, why the change?

I think the church has changed because of each of us and our opinions of who God is and the importance He has in our lives. Many treat God like the spare tire in our car's trunk. We tend to pray only when we need something. God is our personal genie in a bottle rather than the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator of the Universe. So, let's use Acts 2 as our measuring stick.

If we examine the churches we go to these days, are these things true?
  1. Are we devoted to the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles? We should be.
  2. Do we fellowship with one another? Eating doughnuts after church and talking about the Packers is NOT fellowship! We need to learn about each other and about God. What are the struggles we are facing? "How may I help you?"
  3. Do we break bread with one another? Do we have meals together as a church? We should. Doughnuts are NOT a meal.
  4. Do we pray with and for one another? This needs to be more than an e-mailed to-do list for God. We should meet together and pray together.
  5. Do we meet together as a church family? Not only on Sunday but throughout the week. The early church did. We should too.
  6. Do we share our possessions and belongings with one another as there is a need? We should. If we have an abundance of something, why don't we sell it of give it to someone in need?
  7. Do we go to church . . . everyday? The early church did.
  8. Do we eat our food with gladness? Or do we complain about having brussel sprouts again because we don't like them?
  9. Do we praise God? Not only in church but outside of it? Have you ever said, "Praise God!" out loud?
  10. Do we have favor with ALL people? Atheists? Muslims? Mormons? Roman Catholics? We should. Not conforming to their beliefs but treating them like the Good Samaritan treated the stranger on the road.
There needs to be a schism in the Christian church of today. We need to be obedient to God and His Word, We need to be discerning. We need to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. We have to stop thinking in terms of ourselves and what WE can get out of our relationship with God. We deceive ourselves if we think we can simply proclaim the name of Christ and have eternal life. We MUST be changed. Jesus said we "must be born again." We must bear fruit or there simply was no "belief" to begin with.

“At the most basic level, self-deception is fooling ourselves into believing something that is false - or - not believing something that is true.” ― Cortney S. Warren, Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception.

"Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. 3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. 4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil." - Psalm 36:1-4

Is that us? Is that the church of today? Is that the church WE attend? If it is, that is something that needs to change.

"23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:23-24

In 1546, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses do the door of the church and caused a schism - a split - and the Protestant Reformation began. Perhaps it is time for another such schism in the church of today because today's church is straying from the original meaning of the word.

Martin Luther - The Full Movie

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Ember

It begins in total darkness. Cold. Empty. And then you see it. Just a hint of it really. You can't see it if you look at it. It's kind of a "corner of the eye" indicator of things to come. And then you notice a gentle easing away of the dark, black void until there is an evident lightening. A glow. A spark. An ember.

A sunrise is the perfect metaphor for our humanness. We are born "dark," as in "the sun ain't shinin'." We are born into sin. Sinful from birth. The following is from the Old Testament.

"5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." - Psalm 51:5

We ARE darkness, you and me. In us there is no light. But then there comes a change. A fire begins to burn in us. A longing. A desire. The ember burns brighter and brighter until . . . when we give our cold, dark hearts to Jesus, the ember bursts into flame and we are born again.

"4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:4

"The Light shines in the darkness." God's Holy Spirit begins working in the hearts of those God has called, drawing us closer to God. We are drawn towards the light.

God creates that ember in our hearts. As it begins to glow brighter and brighter it becomes just like the sunrise, there is a gradual brightening in our hearts. And then one day, the sun rises out of the darkness!! And we rise!

When our light bulb first comes on it shines bright. Soon the darkness in our souls begins to fade away, retreating into the corners where it like to hide.The next thing you know the light is shining brightly and we are walking in the light.

"5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." - 1 John:5-7

Have you ever seen the show Fat Guys In The Woods? It is a survival show where a survival expert takes three city boys into the wilderness and teaches them how to survive. There are four essentials to surviving in a harsh environment - shelter, water, food . . . and fire.

There are several ways to start a fire and often that fire begins with just an ember. But the Holy Spirit holds it, nurtures it, and blows life into it. creating just the right environment to create a flame.

We are God's creation. There is a desire in us to know God. Sometimes the darkness overcomes us and we cannot see the glowing ember in our hearts. Our hearts grow cold. But no one, NO ONE, is beyond the reach of God! He can fan the flames of anyone into a roaring fire! That's who God is. That's what He does. God is the great fire starter. Has He lit a fire in your heart? He will if you let Him.

Soul On Fire - Third Day
Trial By Fire - Fat Guys in The Woods

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Commands of Jesus: R-E-L-A-X

We here in Wisconsin always have high hopes and expectations for our beloved Green Bay Packers. So when they started off 1-2 the Packer faithful began to get a little worried. The media was all abuzz trying to figure out what was wrong with the Packers. And what was Aaron's response to all this? On his weekly radio show he told the Packer fans to "R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We'll be okay."

Aaron must have been reading his Bible!

31 “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 6:31-34

We tend to get caught up in things and give in to questioning thought. We take situations to ridiculously extreme possibilities in our minds. The worst is going to happen! The sky is falling!! What does that say about our faith in the Packers. What does that say about our faith in God?

God will provide exactly what we need. He has proven that time and time again. When the Israelites were trapped at the Red Sea - the water on one side, the Egyptians on the other - they threw up their hands.

"11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?  12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” - Exodus 14:11-12

And what did Moses say in return?

"13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.  14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” - Exodus 14:13-14

Basically Moses said, "Relax!"

The Packers went on to win the division that year. God parted the Red Sea and saved his people. What are you worrying about today that God cannot handle? Place your faith and hope in Jesus. Trust in God and be delivered, just like the Israelites.

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" - Matthew 6:25-26

Relax - Aaron Rogers

Monday, January 18, 2016

When We Say "I Love You"

Love can be so confusing. Any human heart can tell you that. The word 'love' itself can be has multiple meanings.

"I love my camera", "I love my best friend" and "I love my wife" all contain the word 'love' but each of those "expressions of love" contain different connotations of the word.

It is written that "God is love," but do we really understand  what that love is? Are we understanding the true meaning of the word as it relates to God? Consider this example from Ravi Zacharias.

"When I tell you that God loves you and now I tell you "I love you," it's the same word but a different connotation. When I love you and you refuse to love me, I hurt because I have lost something. When God loves you and you refuse to love God, God hurts because YOU have lost something.

Do we love like that? Is our love for others dependent upon whether or not they love us back? If it is, we are using the wrong connotation of the word . . . the wrong definition?

How do you define love? Do you love someone enough to give yourself away sexually to another person? That is NOT love. That is lust. There is no sacrifice, only selfishness. Look to God's Word for the true definition of love and just what it means to say, "I love you."

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." - 1 John 4:9-11

Before my father died, his children all had the opportunity to tell him we loved him. What a blessing that was! Since that day I have not been hesitant to tell other I love them. It's kind of liberating really. It is liberating because I myself am not looking to BE loved but to love. Any love received in return is simply icing on the cake and a blessing. But OH, what a blessing it is.

Tell someone you love them today. That is your challenge. Tell someone "I love you" and see what happens. You might be very surprised. But be sure to define the meaning of your words first! You could wind up in jail . . . or married! LOL!

God has blessed us with the ability to love and to be loved. Let's do that! As long as it is called today. :)

"34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34

Let It Rain - Eric Clapton

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Love Them Like Jesus

Shortly before His death, Jesus commanded His disciples to "love one another," what do you think He meant by that? Maybe if we read the actual text we can gain some insight.

"34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13: 34-35

That sounds all warm and fuzzy. Everyone should love one another. Imagine a world filled with love. There would be no hate, only love. No wars, no arguments. That would be great! But Jesus also told us that, "In this world you will have trouble." - John 16:33. So I guess everyone "loving each other" is not going to be happening. Yet we re still commanded to love one another . . . and to love our neighbor . . . and to love our enemies.

The world in which we live seems to have more than it's share of evil these days. Shootings, stabbings, people running over their "neighbors" with vehicles . . . on purpose. Our political leaders seem very eager to through their fellow man "under the bus," figuratively, as seen in either party's presidential debates. And these are our would-be leaders? Where's the love?

I scroll down the Facebook news feed and I can see example after example of people either hating one another or loving themselves. Let's go back and read that verse again. Maybe we missed something.

"34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:"

That seems simple enough. Are we just not getting it? Or are we simply ignoring it? I think that's it. We are deliberately choosing to ignore a command from God. That's probably not good. Why would we do that!?!? Keep reading.

Jesus wants us to "love one another: . . . just as I have loved you."  So . . . what does THAT mean? How has Jesus loved us?

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." - Ephesians 5:1-2

There's that phrase again - "as Christ loves us" - only THIS time there is an explanation attached. Jesus "gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Hmm.

So we are supposed to live our lives as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God?

Well,  . . . Yes. Yes we are.

So what does that look like? How can we live our lives like that? Do we sacrifice our own needs and desires if needed so we can serve others. We should. When we see someone in need, do we offer to help? We should. And why? Because we are doing it for God. It is OUR sacrifice.

I pray that this week God would provide us with opportunities to serve Him. Commit a random act of kindness for someone. Reach out to someone who is hurting. And do so in the name of Christ. God has told us that He doesn't want animal sacrifices. The usefulness of those sacrifices became obsolete when Jesus went to the cross, sacrificing Himself for us.

It's quite simple really. We are to love all people, ALL people, like Jesus loves us. Unconditionally, sacrificially, eternally. Let us be about His business while we still have the time. And let us do so . . . as long as it is called today.
Love Them Like Jesus - Casting Crowns

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Are YOUR Walls?

Yesterday morning on my way in to work I was listening to a sermon by Chuck Swindoll. It was the first message in a series about Nehemiah. The series was entitled Hand Me Another Brick and it spoke about leadership. But the message also equated "the walls" in Nehemiah's story with our walk with Jesus.

If one reads through the first few chapters of Nehemiah  we can begin to see the steps he takes to the successful conclusion of his task.
  1. Nehemiah prayed (Nehemiah 1). When Nehemiah's brother told him about the state of Jerusalem, Nehemiah wept, he fasted and he prayed. That should be OUR first step as well.
  2. Nehemiah had a steady job (Nehemiah 1). Although it had its challenges, Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the king - fully employed at the time of his calling. He risked his job and his very life to pursue his calling. Do you and I have that kind of courage?
  3. The burden was obvious on Nehemiah's heart (Nehemiah 2). Nehemiah heard about the people he loved in the city he loved and he longed to help. He mourned for them and it was rather obvious - he longed to re-build the city.
  4. Nehemiah returned home and inspected the damage (Nehemiah 2:11). He did this in secret but he thoroughly assessed the damage and determined what needed to be done.
  5. Nehemiah persevered through criticism and nay-sayers (Nehemiah 2:19). There may be many people that try to talk you out of what you are trying to do. Make sure you are in God's will and press on towards the goal.
  6. Nehemiah re-built the walls. We can do anything we set our minds to . . . as long as God
Walls like those around the city of Jerusalem were designed to keep the people safe by keeping the enemy out. They were designed to protect. In Jerusalem's case the city walls were destroyed by an enemy. Question . . . Who is OUR enemy? And has he broken down any of OUR walls?

Each of us has "walls" around our soul. They are in various states of disrepair. The enemy prowls around the wall looking for breeches . . . a way to enter OUR "city" and destroy it. We cannot allow that to happen. We need a Nehemiah for our souls. Where can we find someone like that ?

Remember, Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the king. He tasted all the King's food and drink to make sure it was safe. Nehemiah, who stood at the right hand of the king, was the intermediary between the king and his people. Doesn't Jesus play that same role today. He sits at the right hand of God. Our only hope for a right relationship with our King is through His Son, Jesus. Interesting.

"11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” - John 18:11

Intercessor - Eric Ludy

Monday, January 11, 2016

Children See, Children Do

Have you ever head the saying, "She is her mother's daughter" or "Like Father, like son" or how about, "The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree." These are all statements about parents and their children.

I'd like you to watch a short video. Let me apologize in advance for the obscene gestures and the violence. The video DOES make a good point though.

Children See, Children Do - Child Friendly Australia

We are ALL children of parents. Many of us resemble our parents - physically, emotionally, psychologically. Sometimes we admire our parents, sometimes we rebel against them. In many cases though we try to imitate them. As you saw in the video, that imitation is not always a good thing.

My wife and I have a three-year old grandson. I have been known to make a funny noise or two when I'm with my grandson. I make the sounds and then laugh. Soon he is doing the same thing. Kids love to imitate their parents.

If you have kids, do you set a good example for them? Do you set a good example for others? Here are some verses to let you know how God views parent-children relationships:

For children:

"12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." - Exodus 20:12

"6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
- Ephesians 6:1

"8 Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, 9 for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck."
- Proverbs 1:8-9

For parents:

"6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
- Proverbs 22:6

"21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." - Colossians 3:21

"4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." - Ephesians 6:4

The Bible is filled with good, character building verses for us and our children. For me that verse from proverbs says it all. As parents WE are responsible for raising our children. If we care for them at all we should raise them right. Sadly, too often parents don't care enough about their kids to discipline them. And before we get thinking that disciplining a child is bad or frowned upon, let's hear what God has to say.

"1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." - Proverbs 12:1, written by King Solomon . . . the man who was given wisdom by God.

Let us always be aware of those around us who may be watching our every move. When people look at you do you reflect the light of Christ back at them? Do you children look at you with love and respect? Something that was taught to them by observing you.

Just Like You - Lecrae

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Passion Within

I get to work pretty early in the morning - usually arriving two hours before I have to begin my work day. Why? So I can write these stories and do others things so I can spend my evenings with my wife.

There are a handful of other people already in the office when I get there at 6:00 AM. They are already at work, many of them putting in 10-hour days, 50-, even 60-hour work weeks. Why do they do that? Some work so much because the have to. But others work at their jobs because the love what they do. They have a passion!

Are you passionate about the work you do? Are you passionate about the job you have? If you are, congratulations!! You are one of the few who actually enjoy what they do to earn a living. The vast majority of us people however, are not thrilled with what we are doing in the workplace. We don't necessarily like the work, we HAVE to work, and quite honestly, most of us would rather be doing something else.

What do you enjoy doing? What is your passion? Do you have a passion? A gift from God? God promised that everyone who believes in Him will receive one!

"4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills." - 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Not all of these are given today. The working of miracles for example. Only God does that these days. But we can gain wisdom and knowledge. Even our faith in Christ comes from God's Holy Spirit.

"44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." - John 6:44

And how do we KNOW that we have received the Holy Spirit? We will be changed! And you should find yourself fitting the description God gave us.

"19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."
- Galatians 5:19-26

Do you exhibit these nine examples of God's Holy Spirit in you? If you are a believer in Christ, you should. Or at least God should be refining you towards these characteristics. God takes our God-given gifts and talents and enhances them with the Holy Spirit.

What is YOUR passion? What are YOUR gifts? They were given to you by God . . . for a purpose.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:13-16

Let YOUR light shine in this dark world. The contrast will be most evident, for all to see. Attribute ALL these things to God. That is where they came from. Use your gifts for God's glory. Anything else is a waste. Use you passion for God, not for yourself. It is a gift from God to be shared with the whole world! :)

So today, examine yourself. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? How can you combine your passion and your talent to glorify God. That's why you were given His gifts and His Spirit - to glorify God. :)

Fruit Of The Spirit - Go Fish

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Thinnest Of Veils

As we walk through this world we live in, we are never more than one bad decision away from disaster. One misstep can change "what could have been" into "what have I done."

Many factors make up our day-to-day decisions. Often we choose what we want in life by our own selfish desires. Does any of this sound familiar?

"I really want that new phone!"

"Sure, I'll have another drink."

"See that girl over there? She's gonna be mine tonight. I got me some Rohypnol!"

"I'll make some copies at work. Everybody does it."

Can I ask you a question? When you look at Facebook, what do you see? Do you see an endless stream of pictures, updates and memes? I see something else. I see windows. Windows into the hearts of millions. The screen we stare at each day is simply a veil . . . between perception and reality.

We need to ask ourselves . . . . is this how I want to live my life? Just watching the lives of others and the things they do? Or should we unplug ourselves from the computer screen and the phone and live the lives we were meant to live. A life filled with peace, hope and love awaits anyone who wants it. Yet few grab God's offer of eternal life, unconditional love and the endless supply of hope a life in Christ can bring.

So ask yourself this morning. "Is this all there is? Is this life I am living REALLY what life should be? Or is there more? Should I keep walking through this world wishing it would get better? Or should I give up on the day-after-day "surfing" in hopes of finding happiness and finally, fully surrendering my heart to Christ?

My life was forever changed 10 years ago when I chose to walk a different path. Your life can change today. Chose life, not death. Walking around with no hope is not really any way to "live." Choose Christ. Embrace the veil that was torn. Look at His example of a life lived . . . and live like that. You'll be glad you did.

"50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,  52 and the graves were opened;" - Matthew 27:50-52

Live Like That - Sidewalk Prophets

Monday, January 4, 2016

Love's Hidden Secret

As I headed back to work this morning after five days off I realized that I wasn't really looking forward to the trip. I guess most people really aren't looking forward to work on a Monday morning, but this Monday was different.

I usually listen to sermons on the radio or to an audio Bible on my way to work in the morning. It helps to fill the darkness and pass the time on my 45 minute commute. This morning it was the Bible. John 13.

Jesus was nearing the end of his ministry and He was about to reveal to His disciples just who it was who would betray Him.

"21 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”  22 Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke.

Now I'd like you to notice something in this next verse. Notice the closeness to Jesus and His disciples.

23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.  24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.

25 Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” - John 13:21-25

Jesus and His disciples had walked together for three years. They had been through many trials together and developed a strong love for one another. Jesus washed their feet, instructed them, and "He loved them to the end." As it says in 1 John, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." - 1 John 2:15

We are called to love one another and that, I believe, is the key . . . "the secret" if you will. That if we love one another with the same sacrificial love the God loves us with, the bonds of friendship and love grow stronger between us. Our love for God increases with each blessing He gives us in our relationships with others.

Yesterday I talked with and prayed with two good friends of mine - Ali and Dakota. I prayer we each expressed our love for one another and, in praying, our thanks and love to God as well. There is nothing quite like praying with a friend or family member.

In this new year, I encourage you to tell the people in your life that you love them. Shove it right in their faces. How many of your work mates have you told? Your family members? Your friends? I challenge you to tell someone that you love them. Do so today. Make a list and start checking them off.

When I die one day I want people to remember the last thing I said to them. May it always be, "I love you." What greater gift can we lay at the feet of Jesus than to say, "I did what you commanded. I loved my neighbor . . . and I told them so."

We who are followers of Christ have been given and tremendous gift - God's love. Luke 12:48 says, "Of whom much is given, much is required." Let us be about God's business today and spread God's love wherever we go, to whomever we meet.

Your Love Never Fails - Jesus Culture

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Resolution Revolution

Happy New Year!!!

Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year? I did. I resolved to spend more time in God's Word - The Bible - than I do on Facebook. I spend WAY to much time scrolling down through the news feed and not enough time reading through "the scrolls" of God's living word.

But that's just me. What about you? Are you resolving anything to improve in your life . . . Exercise more perhaps? Get more organized? Or maybe it's something you want to do away with? Smoking cigarettes? Over-eating?

While I was out for my morning walk New Year's Day morning, I was thinking about my "Facebook Fast" resolution and thought I might offer a few verses to encourage others in their resolutions as they scroll through their Facebook feeds. Here they are!
  1. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - Matthew 7:12. This should be the Golden Rule of Facebook! Too many times I have seen people trash others and then whine and complain when others do it to them. Galatians 6:7 reminds us that "whatever one sows, he also shall reap."
  2. "Be slow to speak" - James 1:19. Too often we react to the things that others post on Facebook.
  3. "Be quick to listen" - James 1:19. Many times Facebook reveals hurting people to us. We are called to have compassion and mercy. Send a private message to those who are going through struggles.
  4. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up" - Ephesians 4:29. What a different world Facebook would be is we all followed this advice. This also would include the use of OMG or any variation of the phrase. Unless you are praying, this is a sin
  5. "Love one another, as I have loved you." - John 13:34. If we all just practiced this command from Jesus our Facebook  news feed would be a much better place to live. Our world too!
I think we need kind of a resolution revolution if you will. Cutting out bad stuff is a good thing but what if we also resolved to increase the GOOD things we do, the God-honoring things. More charity, more giving, more compassion, We could become more honoring God with our words and our actions. Then this new year truly would be a blessing to others AND to God.

May 2016 be an amazing year in your life - one in which you draw closer to God, one where you are conformed more closely to the image of His Son, and may His peace, which surpasses all understanding, envelope you. As you draw nearer to God enjoy the peace you will find there and enjoy His many blessings which are sure to come your way.

"Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." - Proverbs 11:25