Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Appointed Ones

Do you think you are special? Unique? Our fingerprints prove that there is no one exactly like YOU, but are we actually unique in a spiritual sense?

I was listening to the Book of Acts in my car the other day. The Book of Acts leads me to write more of these stories, I think, with every time I read it or listen to it. I will hear something from Peter, Paul, Stephen or Phillip, and "boom!" I get convicted in some way or it makes me notice something in a different way. Like when I heard this:

"44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us: 

‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ 

48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." - Acts 13:44-48

Only those who had been "appointed to eternal life believed." If they were "appointed," who did the appointing? Well, that would be God. But this sentence implies that there are those who hear the Word but were NOT appointed. They did not believe. My take away from this is that not everyone is appointed to believe. Not everyone will be saved.

Jesus confirms this in the Book of Matthew when He speaks about the "sheep and goats."

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ - Matthew 25:31-36

So some of the non-believers we know might not make it? What if that means that our mother, or brother or sister-in-law is doomed? What hope is there for them?

God knows when, where and how every person will come to believe in Him. HE has appointed the day, the hour, the very second that we will be His. Hmm. So, what is the point of evangelism then? If God already knows we are going to be saved next Thursday for example, why should WE care?What does that have to do with us?

What if God wants to use you to do it? What if God wants to use YOU to deliver His message of salvation to one of the goats?

No pressure.

The point of this story is to serve as a reminder to us that . . .
  1. God is in control.
  2. God knows all things.
  3. God knew the person who spoke the words of life into each of us.
With those facts in mind, here are some questions to be answered by each of us:

Question 1: Is God going to use YOU to speak into someone's life today?

Question 2: Are you ready?

Jesus told us that we are to be a light unto the world . . .

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16

Are we shining brightly? Are people looking at us and seeing Jesus? We who believe, were chosen. We were chosen by God! And WHY were we chosen? Not because we're pretty or because we smell good. I believe we were chosen for a purpose. The question has already been asked. Are we ready?

"14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” - Matthew 22:14

"You don't need no ticket, you just praise The Lord."

 People Get Ready - Curtis Mayfield

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Why is it so hard for us to focus on things - especially the very things that are the most important to us? Here's a hint. The answer can be found by looking right in the mirror.

I asked a young adult recently what her biggest struggle was in life. She answered, "Focus." But it's not just her. We ALL struggle with maintaining focus.

Our lack of focus all began in a garden a long, long time ago.

"15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

"3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths." - Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:1-7

Something happened between verse three and verse six. It changed the course of all mankind. Eve lost her focus.

God commanded one thing - not to eat "the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden ". . . neither shall you touch it."

Eve lost her focus on God and His commands. She turned away from God. She was distracted by listening to Satan's words instead of God's. And that's ALWAYS where things begin to go bad.

We are no different than Adam and Eve. We become easily distracted when we think of ourselves and our selfish desires. Let me give you some examples.

A young guy is going out on a date with a beautiful woman. He arrives at her apartment to pick her up. He knocks on the door and it opens. Wow!! She is wearing a tight-fitting dress with a very low neckline. Opening the door a little wider she asks, "Would you like to come in for a bit?" Yeah, that guy's dead. He's lost his focus . . . or has he?

A woman is out on a date with a really nice, handsome young man. She really likes him and knows he's been seeing other women so she decides to show him the extent of HER love for him and she starts to unbutton her shirt. She's dead and the guy's dead. When we focus on worldly things we end up becoming a part of it. But scripture tells us we are to be "in the world but not OF the world" (Romans 12:2).

If we actually died each time we committed a sin there would be nobody left on the entire planet. From Adam right on down the line, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have ALL lost our focus, our purpose, our reason for living - God.

There is one God, and we are not it. The biggest problem with this country is that God is systematically being removed from everything. Ironically, God is the only one who can fix this country . . . and we're removing Him from power. Repentance is in order in this country, but we won't repent. We have lost our focus . . . and have become blind to sin.

Heavenly Father, we have fallen so far as a country. We are sacrificing our babies  on the altar of convenience, we are turning our backs on our Savior and King. The very cure we are in such desperate need of is being thrown our with the trash. Refine us, break us to the point of repentance. Hear our prayers then and have mercy. We have lost our focus, God. Help us return that focus to You. It is in your merciful name we pray.

Squirrel! - Up

Monday, July 25, 2016

Living The Dream

I have a friend at the architectural/engineering firm I work at who spends most of his time in the field. Construction observation is his job.  He keeps an eye on contractors, making sure they do things right and according to the plans we have drawn.

One particularly hot and humid day, my friend came in from the field after a hard day's work.

 "How are you doing?" I asked.

My friend had just spent the entire day working in an un-airconditioned headworks building at a local waste water treatment plant. I don't want to tell you what he smelled like.

"Livin' the dream, Bob. Livin' the dream," was his reply. I'm not sure but . . . I got the impression he was being sarcastic.

We all have dreams. I'm sure my friend does not "dream" about working in another waster water treatment plant. What's your dream?

I recently asked that question on Facebook. Here are a few of the answers I received.

One wanted to save the earth with all of its environmental issues, another wanted to travel to visit a friend they had never seen. Yet another wanted to end racism and hatred. But the last two answers I received stood above the rest. One wanted "No sadness, no pain, no violence, no hunger."

The last comment I received was the best I thought. What do you think?

"A better, more peaceful world where it was easy to lead people to Christ. All on our knees praising our Creator as one."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all could live THAT dream?

God can speak to us in our dreams and I think we too can speak to God in OUR dreams. Sometimes we need help interpreting the dreams we have. Daniel was an amazing interpreter of dreams. I kind of wish I could understand some of the dreams I have had over the years. But then again, the only dreams that really need interpreting are the ones that glorify God.

"However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed." - Daniel 2:28

When I was a child I went to see the Blue Angles. I dreamed of being able to fly one day. The following video shows some pilots who had a similar dream. They TRULY are living the dream.

Dreams - Van Halen (featuring The Blue Angels)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Parable of The Beans

My wife and I used to have a garden many years ago. We enjoyed planting things and watching them sprout and then grow. Our only problem was the soil where we live is really sandy. It drains well . . . TOO well. Our plants suffered greatly from lack of nutrition and lack of water. Eventually our plants would wither and die. We gave up trying to grow anything. Until THIS year!

Very early in the spring I bought and planted some seeds - green bean seeds - and started growing them indoors. The cats enjoyed eating those. So I planted some more seeds, this time in the safety of box with a lid. Lid off during the day, on during the night. That worked. Yay!

When my green bean seedlings were ready I planted them outside in containers. The containers were filled with rich, nutrient-filled soil. The bean plants thrived and I was getting pretty excited about the possibility of eating our own green beans. Then one night while we were away, a cold front moved in and froze all the plants. Everyone of them died. I was sad. But I had some more seeds. There was hope.

So I planted those seeds right next to their dad friends. They too sprouted and soon they were overflowing the containers and were producing beans. I love beans!!

My wife and I go out to the containers every other night or so and pick beans. We gather a handful, bring them in and cook them up. The new beans plants are producing well, making far more beans than we had originally planted. Reminds me of a story . . .

"13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” - Matthew 13:1-9

Jesus could have been talking about growing beans, but He wasn't. He was talking about you and me - the people of this world - and our receiving God's Word. When my wife and I planted beans in our poor, sandy soil, the beans never did very well. They shot up quickly, but without nourishment and water they died.

Some of us hear God's Word and reject it, their hearts becoming frozen. They ultimately will perish just like my beans did in the frost.

But when God's Word is planted in the hearts of His chosen ones, it causes that person's faith to grow and flourish, WAY beyond what they might have had if left unattended in a dark and barren world. Here Jesus explains his parable.

"19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” - Matthew 13:18-23

Back in Jesus' day people depended on their crops to keep themselves alive. A killing frost or planting seeds in poor soil had real life or death consequences. The parable is difficult to understand is you've never plant seeds, or if you don't love beans, but God wants to see us grow in our faith . . grow closer to Him. Examine the "soil" YOU are planted in. Is it making you grow tall and strong? If it's not, perhaps it's time for a transplant. It could literally save your life.

Climbing Bean Time Lapse

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

There Comes A Time

It's been difficult, watching all of the news stories about murdered police officers lately. These guys risk their lives defending us for very little pay, putting themselves in danger each and every day. One must ask, "When is enough, enough? When will somebody do something?"

There are so many issues facing us today that beg the question, "Where is the tipping point between inaction and action?" That time, that tipping point, I think, is coming soon.

There comes a time when enough is enough and we decide to take action. When ISIS began chopping off the heads of Christians and destroying religious artifacts and sacred sites, a time came when people started speaking up and started taking action. You name the topic, each person has that point in their own hearts when it's time to stop all the complaining and actually stand up and do something. In our relationships, politics, even in our faith lives. There comes a time when we all must make that choice - to act or to stay motionless. Either way we are making a choice.

I don't know if you noticed what I am about to tell you. It's about the Sunday morning news coverage of the Baton Rouge police shootings. I thought it was pretty amazing. I was watching the hypnotic flashing lights from all of the police cars when suddenly a black and red vehicle appeared on the scene. "Billy Graham" it said on its side. Are you kidding me? How out of place did that look! But then I thought . . . it was perfect.

The answer to everyone's questions about good vs. evil appeared right on the television screen and none of the news reporters mentioned a stinking thing about it.

The people in the Billy Graham truck knew exactly what needed to be done. And they were doing it! They were taking action. There came a time for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association to take action and they did. They prayed.

If you read your Bible you can find numerous stories where God's patience ran out. Sodom and Gomorrah comes to mind, Jonah, the Israelites, There comes a time when God takes action against those opposing His will. That time is quickly approaching for this entire world, in my opinion.

My dear brothers and sisters, the time has come, if you haven't been doing so already, to pray. We need to be praying our butts of for this nation, its leaders, its police force, soldiers and sailors. Watching all of these events happening in such rapid succession tells me the time is drawing close for the return of Jesus. And when He comes back, the kid gloves are off and the wrath of God will be at hand.

"23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.

29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived." - Genesis 19:23-29

There comes a time to take action. Lot took action and escaped with his life. This is a time for us to step up our evangelistic efforts in addition to our prayers. We need to tell the people in our lives that Jesus is the only hope. Why? Because . .  He is. The time has come . . . today.

Time Has Come Today - The Chambers Brothers

Monday, July 18, 2016


When you and I hear the word "testimony" we usually think of a courtroom. We can easily get an image in our minds of someone being sworn in, one hand on the Bible, the other hand raised in the air, promising to tell "the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth."

We have laws in our country making it a punishable offense to lie under oath in a courtroom. It's called perjury. Yet, perjury can only be proven if somebody else testifies against you. But what if THEY are lying?

As I was reading my Bible this morning I came across a few verses from the Book of John.

31 “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true." - John 5:31 and . . .

41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you." - John 5:41-42

Those verses brought another verse to mind

‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’" - Matthew 15:8-9

I think Jesus is trying to tell us a couple of things here. One is that we cannot trust anyone but God to tell the truth. And two, our words might lie but our actions always testify to the real truth about us.

One thing I can be guilty of is when someone asks me to pray for them. I always say I will pray, but then I get busy and sometimes I forget to do so. It's unintentional, but I have lied just the same. To help combat this, if you ask me for prayer in person, we will most likely be praying together, right then and there.

Do our actions speak louder than our words? Where does our heart truly lie?

I get confused when I see people on Facebook, people who have said they are Christian, just ripping apart someone in their Facebook posts. How is that possible? Unless they are really NOT Christian in their beliefs . . .

Our actions are the evidence of our beliefs.

What would people say about us and our faith? Is there enough evidence presented in the living of our lives to convict us of being a Christian? There should be.

When I was at Lifest last weekend I heard a band named For King and Country, They performed a song that got my attention and inspired me to write this story. The name of the song was The Proof of Your Love. Part of the song is spoken and it goes like this. It's from Paul's letter to the Corinthians . . .

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

We must live our lives as a testimony, not only of WHO we are, but WHOSE we are. When Jesus first called His disciples what did He tell them to do?

He told them to "follow me."

And so . . . we should. Follow His example. Flow His leading, living our lives as He did. Let our love be our testimony, let our love be the proof.

The Proof Of Your Love - For King and Country 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Jesus Go!

The latest video game craze these days is Pokémon Go! People play it on their phones and they are playing it by the thousands! Or should I say . . . millions.

It's an interactive game where you actually, physically participate in the game itself. That can be fun, but it also can be dangerous, especially when you get close to busy highways.

Why are people so "into" this game? People all over the world are playing it. But the game is nothing new, really. People have been playing a similar "Go game" for thousands of years. Open up your Bibles to the Book of Matthew.

"16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:16-20

We are instructed to GO and tell everyone about Jesus! But before we can begin our mission we need to download the app - The Holy Spirit app.  We can do that by placing our faith in Jesus, the Son of the Living God. If we repent of our sins, turn from our worldly ways and follow Jesus we will get a free Holy Spirit download and incredible powers in the game of life.

We can't heal the sick or raise the dead but we DO know someone who can. Jesus! We have no power in and of ourselves but we know someone who does. Jesus! When Jesus commands us to "GO", do we? Or do we stay at home with our butts on the couch and not even play the game we have been commanded play? Hmm. How can we call ourselves Christians if we don't follow His instructions? That's part of the basic game instructions.

Can a Christian who doesn't evangelize, in one form or another, truly call themselves Christian? Can we be considered followers of Christ is we don't follow Him? If we don't . . GO?

At the end of this story there is a link to a video called Tic Tac Toe evangelism. The concept begins with a simple act of kindness to those we know - our neighbors. Use that act as a springboard to open up conversation. Somewhere in that conversation, as you get to know one another, tell them about Jesus and what He's done for you. It's that simple.

In Pokémon Go, players earn experience points and earn their way to the top by battling make believe creatures. In Christianity we don't have to earn anything. Everything has been accomplished for us when Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross. All we have to "do" in the Christian faith is believe in Jesus, that He was, and is, the Son of God, that His death paid the price for OUR sins and that through our faith we are given eternal life through the loving grace of God our Father. And then GO!!

Isn't that worth going and telling the whole world about?

I Will Follow - Chris Tomlin

Tic Tac Toe Evangelism - Mike Henry

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Need To Breathe

Why do we have a tough time returning back to work after a particularly enjoyable weekend? That's kind of a useless question. The answer is obvious. Work is tedious & boring. Weekends are fun and exciting! We'd much rather be on vacation than chained to our desks doing pointless, boring things. Feeling depressed Monday morning makes perfect sense. Then why do we keep doing it again and again?

Our faith can be the same way. When we first come to believe in God we get SO excited. We're on fire for Jesus. We can't get enough of Him. We read. We worship. We praise. But then . . . we all tend to return to our old way of living. We all tend to slide back into the person we used to be. Why? We're humans, we're flawed and we all tend to ignore our Creator.

Our faith lives shouldn't be that way. We are told in the Bible that we are to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." We fail at that. Why? There are several reasons.

Persecution. When we come home from church or a Bible study we can be met by an unbelieving spouse who wonders why we waste so much time at church.

Propaganda. We watch television and get seduced into thinking that sin isn't so bad. We see violent television shows that thrive on sex and murder and "self." It is all too easy to absorb their thinking into our minds and hearts.

Procrastination. There are times when we don't feel like reading the Bible. Those are precisely the times we SHOULD be reading it. We become accustomed to a way of life and we feel comfortable just wallowing in it.

People. We all have friends who are non-believers. We want to be friends with them yet they always tend to suck us back into doing sinful things. We tend to go along with them because we like having friends.

So, what can we do about it?

When a person is drowning they crave one thing. Air. We need it to survive. Without it we die. Shouldn't our faith be like that? Shouldn't we crave God's word? Shouldn't we NEED to be in it?

When someone is drowning and has no way to save themselves, what do they need? The need someone to save them. They need someone who can throw them a life preserver. Don't we have that in our faith lives? His name is Jesus. He saved us on the cross.

We live in a fallen world. We are in danger of drowning each and every day. When a friend is having a bad day we need to be ready to throw them a life line. Who knows . . . tomorrow the roles might be reversed and WE will be the ones in need.

We all can learn how to swim my immersing ourselves in God's Word, thereby keeping ourselves afloat with every word we breathe in. Spend time serving others, spend time in worship and praise, spend time doing those things we need to do in order to remain afloat in a world that keeps pulling us under.

We need to breathe. God is our oxygen.

"16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Washed By The Water - Needtobreathe

Monday, July 11, 2016

New Life

In my last story (Ten Years of Worship) I wrote about how God can answer prayer in and through our relationships with others. It's amazing how people just seem to appear in our lives and offer much needed input at just the right time. Strange? Not really. It's not strange at all for those who call themselves Christians - true Christians - who know the great God we serve.

"True" Christians are those few children of God who actually obey the comments of Jesus. That, of course, is none of us, to be brutally honest. Actually, true Christians are those who TRY to be obedient to God's commands and, even though failing, they repent, seek God's forgiveness, and try again. This process is a life-long transformation known as sanctification.

In my last post I wrote about the sanctification struggles of my friend and I. Now I am going to tell you about God's blessings towards those who fall in life but keep getting back up.

Today's story is about a young lady named Zoe. I have known Zoe for several years - a onetime youth group kid, now a young adult woman out in the real world. My young friend struggles with many of the same issues that others her age and younger struggle with - self-esteem, insecurity, doubt, fear. Hmm. Those are the same things I suffer with at age 63!

I'd like to use Zoe's amazing Saturday experience at Lifest to demonstrate how God coordinates and orchestrates situations and people for His ultimate glory. First, some background information.

Zoe had given her life to Jesus a few years ago but had never been baptized. For some reason, on our way to Lifest this year I remembered that and asked her if that was true. "Yes," she said, "but I've been thinking about it."

A couple days into the Christian music festival I noticed an amusement ride for smaller children. It was a 20-foot square pond with little boats in it - kind of a "bumper boat" thing. Knee deep. Hmm. That got me to thinking.

I sent Zoe a text and asked her if she might be interested in getting baptized at Lifest. She said yes. Then evidence of God's working in this whole amazing story began to get obvious.

My ministry partner, Gayle, and I thought it would be a good idea to get permission from the owner of the boat pond so we asked. And are you ready for this? Cuz here it comes.

The amusement ride manager said, "Sure go ahead. But would you baptize me too?"

"Uhh . . . okay."

"What is happening here?" we thought.

My friend and I went inside the merchandise building, amazed that we were going to be baptizing TWO people now. I saw another friend of mine, Bill, at one of the vendor tables (he runs Spencer Lake Christian Center in Waupaca) and told him the story of the pending baptisms. He suggested we speak to the organizer of the event, Bob Lenz, about it, telling us it was something he felt should be offered at Lifest.

So we went to the security office to ask permission and about contacting Bob. The people we talked to thought Zoe's baptism was an amazing thing to do and any would-be red tape never even appeared. Next thing you know we were talking to the event coordinator - the guy running the whole music festival!

"Sure! Great idea." he said.

Why was this going so easy? Why were there no road blocks in this? I think it's because God wanted this to happen. God parted the Red Sea. It would be a snap for Him to part the Red Sea.

One of the staff thought this baptism might be worthy of a photographer . . . so three of them showed up! Everything was arranged and coordinated, by God! He is amazing in how He does this stuff. This would NEVER have occurred at this scale if we had tried to do things on our own.

The time came to Baptize Zoe and everybody arrived at the scene. The bumper boat ride that was underway came to an end, shoes and socks were removed and we climbed into the pond.

I asked my young friend a few questions about her sin, her repentance and giving her heart to Jesus. She answered them all with confidence and she was baptized in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. The same was done with Todd, the manager of the amusement rides.

"Wet hugs" were exchanged by all. Thanks was given to all those who allowed this to happen. And praise was given to God. We thought we were done at this point . . . but God wasn't. Ha! We thought He was done impressing us. Not by a long-shot!

Later that night, with 20,000 people at Lifest that day, Zoe's baptism was seen on the Main Stage big screen!! Oh, my goodness! I shake my head in amazement. God is bigger than anything we can imagine. He does more in an instant than we could EVER do in a lifetime. As Lifest emcee, Peder Eide reminds us daily, "God is good!!! All the time!!! :)

"There is no one like our God. There is NO ONE like our God. Greater things have yet to come. Greater things have yet to be done"

This story of Zoe's baptism isn't really about her but God used her baptism to remind thousands of people just what we were at Lifest for. It's about dying to self and turning to Christ. It's about leaving our old way of life behind and embracing the new you! God was glorified and He used Zoe's baptism to do it. What an honor!!

Thanks to everyone at Life Promotions for allowing all this to happen and to the amusement ride manager, Todd, for letting God use some of his equipment. And let's not forget Zoe. Thanks to her for giving her life to Jesus and desiring to be transformed . . . from death to life. What an amazing day!

God Of This City - Chris Tomlin

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Decade of Worship

This is my tenth year attending Lifest - a Christian Music festival in Oshkosh, WI. So many memories have their here. So many good times and friendships made. Several sad times too. But there has always praise. There has always worship. There has always been . . Jesus.

I have referred to Lifest as a taste of what heaven will be like one day. Lots of brothers and sisters, worshiping and praising God all day, every day. If that is what heaven will be like I am excited. I am ready.

This year my friend Gayle and I, once again, led four campsites worth of teens and young adults. We have always enjoyed our time with these young souls. But this year we had been questioning our ministry there. Were we having any effect? Were we making an impact for God's kingdom? We were having doubts. So we prayed. And guess what? God answered.

Shortly after we prayed a friend of mine came up to where we were sitting and said hello. After a welcome home hug we began talking about Lifest and I told her about our questioning the ministry my friend and I were doing. She told me that she believed we were there for relationships. Building relationships through our common love for the people there.

Little did I know but at the same time I was having this conversation my ministry partner was having a similar conversation with some one else 100 yards away from me. The people we talked to each told us it was our relationships with others that was the most important.

Later that day we walked past the large food area here known as "Downtown." My friend saw one of our "kids" sitting all by herself, sad. So she stopped and listened for 20 minutes or so. I smiled. This was the perfect example of why we are there.

Later that night at the Casting Crowns concert a a lady came up to me and asked me who I was. I reminded her of someone a friend who had died a year ago - Chuck. She asked me my name and when she heard my last name was Hall she dropped to her knees. Chuck's last name was Hall. So was the last name of Casting Crowns lead singer that night - Mark Hall.

She told us the whole story of his cancer and the grieving wife he left behind and the pain of the loss she had been experiencing for the past year. She asked for prayers so my friend and I knelt down and prayed with this lady, right in the middle of 20,000 of other brothers and sisters. Relationships. God had given us the answer to our prayers by using us in a relationship with someone in need.

How is your relationship with Jesus? I hope it is good. I hope it is solid. We all can have doubts as my friend and I had but if we seek God in prayer and humbly ask how we may serve Him, He will answer. He will most definitely answer. :)

"4 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." - Ephesians 4:1-6

Just Be Held - Casting Crowns

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Extremely Careless

One hot July morning a woman was pulled over by the police for speeding. As the officer approached the car the woman began hurriedly hiding the open beer cans that were on her passenger seat. She was about to be caught doing something that had been clearly against the law and she was expecting the worst.

The cop motioned for her to roll down the window, which she did.

"Do you know how fast you were going ma'am?" the officer asked.

"No officer," she replied.

"You were doing 74 miles an hour in a 35 zone," the police office informed her.


"And is that beer I smell on your breath?" the officer continued.

"Umm . . ."

"You were doing over twice the legal speed limit and, judging by the number of beer cans I saw you toss into the back seat, I'd be willing to bet you are intoxicated as well. What do you have to say for yourself?

"Well, Mr. Officer sir, it wasn't my intent to actually get drunk and I never intended to go that fast. And I didn't know the speed limit applied to me."


What do you supposed were the next words out of the officer's mouth?

"Out of the car" would be a good guess. "Ignorance is no excuse ma'am" might be another. No one would expect the police officer to say, "Oh, well then, have a nice day" as he returned to his squad car.

Yet a very similar scenario to that happened on Tuesday in our country as this nation's FBI director James Comey said there would be no recommendation that criminal charges be brought against Hillary Clinton for lying to the FBI, illegally transferring top secret government documents in an insecure manner.

Despite her lying to congress and the FBI she is being given a pass. I smell beer in the air.

America is a nation of laws. Breaking those laws comes with consequences. That's why there are people in prison. They have broken the laws. Remember Martha Stewart? She lied to the FBI. She went to prison.

Who appoints the FBI director? The president does. Who appoints the Attorney General? The president does. Who does our president want to win the November election. He wants Hillary to win, of course. There is no conspiracy theory here. This sh . . . stuff is real!

Why are so many people upset about this breach of justice? Because it is a breach of justice! We are a just nation, or at least we were. We demand justice!!


Stop a moment and think about that statement - we demand justice. Do we? Really?

God demands justice when WE commit a sin. We KNOW that we will be punished for those sins. Why? Because God is just. What would happen if God was not just? Would there be any sense of right and wrong?

Sadly, we can no longer say that our nation is a just nation. It is now clear that, if you have power and influence, you can rise above the law. The is IN-justice.

God forgives us our sins if we are humble, repent and seek His forgiveness. But we must repent. Why would God forgive us if we didn't think we did anything wrong?

Look, we are ALL guilty of breaking God's laws. God is just. Someone must pay the price for OUR transgressions . . . even Hillary's. That someone was Jesus. He paid the penalty dealt out by a just God.

We need to be praying for Hillary. We need to be praying for this nation of ours. And we need to be asking ourselves, "Why is God allowing all this to happen?" Why do you think? He is just and we are not. He has turned us over to the lusts of our hearts.

"10 I am the Lord your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11 “But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.

13 “Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.

15 The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.
16 He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.”
- Psalm 81:10-16

We MUST repent and turn to God for help. That is the only thing that can save us. I urge you to pray. A just God is our only hope.

Just God - Ezekiel Azonwu

Monday, July 4, 2016

Time For Another Revolution?

Today we celebrate Independence Day.

"Independence? Independence from what? I thought we were a free nation."

We are . . . but it has not always been that way. We were once governed by the oppressive British Government and, in fact, we were at war with them already when we finally declared ourselves independent.

There is something really interesting about our declaration. It gives us the right to . . . rebel against our own government. I'm serious. Read it for yourself!

"when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government."

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution also gives us the right to take up arms against our own government if they too become oppressive like the British were.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Our forefathers did NOT like being oppressed. We're not much different than they were.

When I look at our two remaining candidates for president, the first thought that comes to mind is, "You've GOT to be kidding?" We can't do better than this? Hillary is being investigated by the FBI and Trump . . . well, he's just somebody who isn't from Washington.

There are many people who believe that our federal government is out of control. I am one of them. Is it time for a revolution? Yes, it is!! But not a political one. We need a spiritual revolution.

No government takes control without God allowing it. He has allowed the mess we are currently experiencing in Washington to exist. Why? Well, honestly I think it's because we deserve it. We are no longer a God-honoring nation and now we are paying the price for our disobedience. And if you think things are bad in Washington now, they're going to get worse.

What we need is another revolution in this country - a spiritual revolution. We need a revival! And the only way we can get that is for "we the people" to take up arms . . . not with guns but with Bibles in our hands. But our biggest weapon isn't muzzle-loaders or cannons set high upon the hills. It's isn't BOOTS on the ground. It is KNEES on the ground. In prayer.

We need to pray and we need to take action, not with 2nd amendment weaponry, but with Spirit-led determination. If we are in God's will, this country will return to the greatness we once had, but that will only happen is God blesses us.

The Bible tell us what to do. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord. We must pray and we must turn from our wicked ways (repent). Only then will God bless America.

"14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:15

God Bless America - Celine Dion

Hi-Res Image of The Declaration of Independence

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Contented Peace

My wife and I watched as two young friends of mine got married this past Saturday. "So young," I thought. Then I remembered that my wife and I were the same age as when WE got married. Gulp! Wow! Where does the time go?

In a couple of months my wife and I will have been married for 39 years. That's 273 in dog years. Not that THAT is important. Just proving I still have my math skills.

There is a certain contentment that comes to a relationship when you have been with someone for a while. Kind of a peace, knowing that they will never leave you and that you will never leave them. I pray that for my two young friends. And EVERYONE ELSE for that matter.

As a former youth leader I have seen my share of breakups. Young hearts, once SO sure they have found the right one, only to see their once-solid relationship fall apart. "Why?" they ask. Well, that's a secret. At least to them it is. There is good advice to be had in the relationship world. The problem is no one takes the time to look for it.

So . . . you wanna know the secret to lasting relationships? Of course you do. And, yes, the secret can be found in the Bible. It's in the Book of Hebrews, the 13th chapter . . . just to name ONE spot it can be found in God's amazing instruction manual on love.

"13 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them - those who are mistreated - since you yourselves are in the body also.

4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”

7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
- Hebrews 13:1-8

Look at all that amazing advice!

Love all people as if they were family. Love strangers that way too! Love all those in prison as well. Love your enemies. Honor your marriage / relationship. Don't cheat on your significant other. Don't even THINK about it! And here's the big one. Be content with what you have. God has given you this person to love. And you're looking around for someone better? What?!?

Being content with what you have, and glorifying God because you have those things, is the first step toward being blessed by God. If you truly love God He will bless you but not in the ways some prosperity preachers tell you. You're not going to suddenly come into a large sum of money. You will blessed in love and in your relationships. And isn't that the most important thing? Being content with what you have is a command. All we need to do is obey.

Contentment and Gratitude - Dave Ramsey