Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jesus was born


     In Luke 2:7 it says, "and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." Every December 25th the world celebrates Christmas. And, whether they recognize it or not, Jesus is the reason for the celebration. There is no way to get away from it, our calendars are dated to the birth of Christ. It is even on your birth certificate, I was born on October 19th, 1967 years after the birth of Christ. Even the unbeliever must use this dating system, it is on your drivers license, your marriage license, and one day will be on your head stone, the year you were born and the year you died. All dated to the birth of Christ. And one more thing, for those that say we shouldn't celebrate His birthday on December 25th because we don't know the exact day or time he was born, I think you kind of miss the point. The point is that Jesus was born, and whether or not you celebrate His birth on December 25th or at some other time is really not essential to our Christian faith.

     We have a reason to celebrate everyday and in every situation because of what Christ has done for each and everyone of us. He was born to take our sins and suffer the penalty for that sin, He has made a way for us to have a relationship with God, He has gone on and made a place for the faithful to live, and will one day return to call us home. Christmas is a time of celebration, not of pointing fingers and judgment. It doesn't matter that Jesus was probably born at some other time of the year. It does not matter if it was spring, summer, winter, or fall.  What matters is that God loved us so much that He sent us His one and only Son so that we may be saved from our sins. There are many translations of the bible, some worded to suit one or another, but the one thing that remains constant is Jesus Christ. So, if you claim Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then take my hand and walk with me in fellowship.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever


     I am going to tell you a story from the bible, It comes from Luke Chapter 17: 11-19. This story introduces us to 10 mystery men, I say this because we don't know a lot about these men. They might come form totally different backgrounds, be of different ages, and for all we know they might not like each other very much. But, they have one thing in common, one experience that brings them all together. They had lived pretty regular, boring lives up until something happened, leprosy. In those days they were outcasts and made to leave the city, and somehow they ended up banding together. So, here they are together along a lonely, remote border between Samaria and Galilee with no hope for a cure. One day, hope appears. They have heard stories about Him, they have heard that He can do miraculous things. He has made the lame walk, given the blind sight, He has made the mute shout for joy, and unplugged the ears of the deaf. If He could do all of those things, maybe He could heal them. They cry out to Jesus, Master, Have mercy on us. He hears them, and sees their situation. Jesus simply tells them to go and show themselves to the priests, and there is only one reason Jesus would tell them to do this. They are the ones who declared them unclean and banished them and are the only ones who can declare them clean and allow them to return to their lives. As they are running to the priests they see themselves being healed. Nine of them keep running to the priests to get their gift of new life. One of them stops dead in his tracks and returns to Jesus, praises God in a loud voice, falls to his knees at Jesus' feet, and gives Him thanks and praise. It's very surprising to me that only one of the ten returned to do this, but even more surprising is the last thing we know about these men. The nine that didn't return were Jews, considered to be part of the people with a covenant with God. The one that returned to give Jesus praise was a Samaritan, supposedly cut off from God's covenant. The fact that Jesus was a Jew makes it even more surprising that a Samaritan would return and give thanks and praise. It is important to realize there was a difference in healing that day. The nine who kept going and never returned were looking for a physical healing, and Jesus gave them that. But, while their disease may have been healed, they still have to face the wages of sin someday. The healing they sought will only last for a relatively short time. The Samaritan who returned, yes, he has that healing that the other nine had, but he also realized that Jesus had a lot more to give. Jesus can give the kind of healing that will last for eternity. That is why the Samaritan returned to give thanks and praise, and that is why Jesus said rise and go, your faith has made you well. The Samaritan knows he doesn't deserve any of this because of who he is, but this is because of who Jesus is. So on this eve of Thanksgiving, it's appropriate to really look at what took place on that small border near Samaria and Galilee. And as we do, we realize that, the truth be told, we have a lot of similarities with the lepers in this story. So, as you have your Thanksgiving gatherings, remember Who it is that gives you everything, remember that you were once an outsider from God, Jesus Christ has lived, died, and risen again, and once again this night , has given you some pretty amazing gifts, so that you are no longer a stranger, but a redeemed child of God. Yes indeed, in the words of the 107th Psalm, we rejoice to say, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever...... AMEN 
    

  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jesus' prophecies Have A Purpose

This is my first sermon, preached on Nov.10, 2013. It is on Luke 21:5-19

      I was born poor, my parents were divorced when I was 4 or 5, and I grew up in a neighborhood that if it wasn't the projects it wasn't far from it. I remember a time when I was bout 12 or 13 years old, it wasn't to long after my father had died. I was sitting on the front porch of the apartments we live in and I see the guy who lived across the yard pull up in his shiny gold Cadillac and get out with 2 women dressed in gold shimmering dresses, wearing fur coats, high heels, and gold hanging from their necks and ears. He was always dressed in flashy suits, and would flash money around to anyone that would look. He had it all, money, power, women, a nice car, anything a man could ask for. He noticed me looking at him and asked me if I liked what I saw, and of course I said yes. He told me I could have everything he had, maybe even more if I went to work for him. I would see my mother leave for work at 4:00 AM and not get home until 6:00 or 7:00 PM, working hard and still not making ends meet, struggling to pay the bills, put food on the table, and clothes on our backs. So, I went to work for him, and as you probably have guessed by now those promises he made didn't come true. What I got was a life of crime, drug addiction, and a lot of violence.

     Not all false prophets are religious, some prophesy about earthly things, like money and power. That is why Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the false teachers who would come. He knew just like the temple's beauty hiding it's ugly secrets, the false teachers with their appearances, methods and teachings would hide their true motives, like spiritual bankruptcy, hypocrisy, oppression, and rejection of Christ and the Gospel. Jesus tells the disciples in Vs.8,Watch out that you are not deceived for many will come in my name claiming I am he and the end is near. Do not follow them. You see, Jesus is the real prophet and the difference is Jesus' prophecies have a purpose. I am not saying that the false prophets don't have a purpose, but Jesus' purpose and intentions are pure. He isn't just saying these things with the intentions of being in the spotlight or manipulating people to His advantage. Jesus' purpose is a loving one, love for the soul, love that desires to warn people of the realities of life in a sinful world, as well as to prepare them for what comes next.

     I think a false narrative that people believe is that by becoming a Christian that automatically means that life will get easier, they will be happier, healthier, and more successful in earthly ways. They take God's promise in Romans 8:28, to work good in all things for those who love Him to mean physical,  worldly blessings instead of spiritual blessings, which is Jesus' primary concern and promise for our lives.  So, the problem comes in when expectations clash with the reality of life in a sinful world, at which time the theology of prosperity minded Christians come into question and they find themselves evaluating their faith, Was I not a good enough Christian, or maybe even evaluating God, what kind of God would make these promises and not deliver. Questions that don't recognize the realities of life, even for the Christian in a sinful world. This is one of the key reasons Jesus has in making his predictions in our text for today. Jesus' prophecies have a purpose.

     I believe it was Tuesday of Holy Week, just 3 days before Jesus would die on the cross. As He and His disciples were leaving Jerusalem for the night, the disciples looked back and found themselves awestruck by the sight of the temple, saying to Jesus, Look, Teacher what massive stones, what magnificent buildings. But, Jesus shocked His disciples with His response. As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another, and everyone of them will be thrown down. Why would Jesus prophesy such a thing? Because Jesus' prophecies have a purpose. He wanted them to understand the realities of a sinful world.

     Like many others, Jesus' followers hoped the Messiah would be an earthly King, wipe out the Romans, and set up His royal throne in Jerusalem. They knew Jesus had the power to do it, they had seen his many miracles, like the most recent one of raising Lazarus from the dead. He could make life on earth easy and cushy. Look at those buildings Lord, wouldn't your throne look great in that golden temple? But, Jesus cut them off, He had not come into this world so the people would have cushy comfortable lives before they go to the grave. He came so all that trust in Him can burst out of the grave like He did and live with God in heaven. Jesus' prophesies have a purpose. So he told His disciples, I want you to understand the realities of this world. Sure, you can enjoy it, there will be good times, happy times, but there will also be problems and pains. Nations will rise against nations, kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events. In vs. 16-18 Jesus says, you will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death, all men will hate you because of me. But, not a hair on your head shall parish, by standing firm you will gain life. Doesn't that sound a bit contradictory? Let me read the again. Some of you will be put to death, but not a hair on your head will parish, stand firm and gain life. What does that mean?

     When I was about 18 my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I watched it slowly take her life. Little by little she withered away until she slipped into a partial coma and was bed ridden. Her hair had fallen out, her muscles tightened and shrank pulling her arms and legs in until she was in a permanent fetal position. I gave her water with a cotton swab, they fed her with tubes and gave her drugs to make her comfortable. Finally that day came, after a 5 year battle my mother left this world. Some would say she lost her battle, but Jesus says she won. Where she is at now, she can walk, run and play. She can do her favorite thing, sitting under a shade tree drinking iced tea and watching her children and grandchildren play. I see her sitting under that tree watching the granddaughter she never met grow into a fine,confident, faith filled young lady, she can watch her son finally come to the Lord and grow so much in his faith that he can stand up here and preach this sermon today, because not a hair on her head has perished. She stood firm against this sinful world, she stood firm in her faith when she could so easily lost it, and she gained life.

      So while the Lord provides for all your daily needs, like food, clothes, income, and even the air you breathe. He also provides what you need to enter into His Heavenly Kingdom, where not a hair on your head will perish. He provides trusted, well meaning people in your life to support you with guidance and even correction. As you gracious and merciful savior, He took your sins off your record, off your shoulders, and off your conscience by placing them instead on His Son on the cross. So regardless of when or how your life leaves this sinful world, not a hair on your head will perish, because your soul will live with Him forever in perfect, blissful, Heavenly joy. But, until that day comes there will be a lot of garbage in this world to deal with, But Jesus' prophecies have a purpose. They prepare you for the bad and give you the strength to deal with this sinful world Jesus' prophecies prepare us for this because they show us the big picture, the eternal picture, that while the reality of living in a sinful world is challenging, especially for Christian who is constantly forced to choose between carrying the cross for Christ and laying down in the comfort of spiritual obscurity, the reality of faith that stands firm is eternal life through the grace and mercy of our Awesome God........Amen

  

  

   
    

Thursday, October 17, 2013



Picture in your head, if you will. Jesus is standing on the beach lakeside, and the crowd waiting to hear Him speak is pressing Him. Down on the water He sees two boats sitting empty because the men who owned them were washing their nets. Jesus gets into Simon Peter's boat and asks him to pull away from the beach. Now that He was away from the press of the crowd He could teach them. When Jesus finishes teaching them, He decides to use an incredible sermon illustration to extend His lesson. He tells Simon Peter to put out in the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.(Luke5:4) Jesus says, Put out in the deep water, not Let's stay here where it is shallow and safe. Could He be implying the real possibilities in life are where it is deep and risky? Is He inviting us to venture out, take a chance, be adventurous and active? So, even though Simon Peter fished all night and hadn't caught a thing, he sets out to the deep water with Jesus. I am sure most of you know the rest, they catch more fish than one boat almost two boats can handle. Why? because they were willing to follow Jesus' word and set out into the deep. Like this story, Jesus calls us to step out into the deep water. But, we are called by Him to be fishers of men. If we are going to do that we need to leave the shallows and venture out into the deep and dangerous waters of this world where real people are to be found. How? By sharing with someone what it's been like for you to be a follower of Christ, of being a part of a church family. There is no pressuring needed, just share what you have experienced. If they seem interested, then invite them to come see for themselves. I am sure talking about your faith makes you uncomfortable, you might get a little embarrassed, or like Simon Peter you think I tried that once and it didn't work. But all you have to do is do what Simon did that day and trust Jesus. In other words just be yourself, the honest, loving, accepting, non judgmental Christians we are supposed to be. Jesus calls us to step out of our comfort zones, to be adventurous, to simply trust in Him. We are called to witness and to service. Jesus still asks, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Monday, September 23, 2013

What is faith? I bet, if you ask 5 different people you will get 5 different answers. Most skeptics would say that faith is believing in something without a lack of real evidence, or believing in something that you know in your heart isn't true. If you go to the dictionary for the definition of faith it says, A belief and trust in and loyalty towards God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; or firm belief in something that has no proof. I don't think any of these provide an absolute answer as to what faith really is. I think faith is your belief, but also your relationship with God, I think they go hand in hand. Without that realtionship there is no faith. Faith is probably the most essential part of Christian life, because without faith you can't have God. Hebrews 11: 6 states, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnastly seek him." Hebrews11:1 gives us this discription of faith, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." So the Bible tells us that the place that true faith comes from is God, for it is by grace you have been saved,through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that noone can boast. (Ephesians 2 : 8-9)Faith moves way beyond anything we can know, it is fiercly personal yet inevitably communal. Faith is giving control of the bus over to God, letting go of everything and holding on to someone that won't let go of you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Are there winners and losers in the Kingdom of God? I think society today is too wrapped up in competition, there has to be a winner and a loser. The most watched TV shows have a "loser" who gets kicked off weekly, elections are watched and treated like football games, and don't get me started on the stories of parents getting into fights at their children's sporting events. What are we teaching our youth? I coach soccer and fastpitch softball through the parks and rec department where I live, the kids that play are playing for fun. It's not like little league, there are no winners or losers, the score is not kept and no records are kept. Some parents say that is ridiculous, since our kids live in the "real world" which is based on competition, when in all actuality most of our jobs or careers are based on cooperation. But, if competition is truly what makes the world go round, and I am to work with the youth, then part of my role is to paint them a picture of not what the world is today, but as it could be. A world where love and community are the focus, not competition, not self-sufficiency, or independence. Philippians 2:3-4 says, Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Our competitive nature prepares us for a world of winners and losers. "To the victor goes the spoils", I believe is the quote. We understand the ways of competition as if it were hard wired into our brains. And, since it is the winners who write the history books, little is made of this part of our lives. So how do we teach our youth humility and compassion? If you want to know the truth, it is not natural for us to care about other people. Humanity is born greedy and self-centered, and our youth are not any different. We need to see that the real problem here is in the heart. If we simply try to change their behavior, we are not helping them get closer to Jesus. I see Philippians 2:3-4 used a lot in teaching our youth about humility and compassion, but I think maybe verses 1 and 2 should also be used , which explains, If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one with spirit and purpose. Paul is saying that if your encouragement is in Christ, then you can put others first. If you have comfort in Jesus' love, then you can care more about your neighbor. If we want our youth to put competition aside and care about others, we have got to be aware of what fills their lives. We need to show our youth Jesus is real, and when that happens, their hearts will naturally overflow to those in need. So, are there winners and losers in God's Kingdom? What do yo think?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I have to admit, after 6 years I was seriously considering leaving my church and finding another place to worship. There was gossip spreading about me and my family and it really hurt. It wasn't the story behind the gossip that hurt so much, but what really hurt was the fact that some people thought my family would actually do something like that. Before I go any farther I want you all to know that I am not going to point out anyone or their actions in this blog, but I felt God was calling me to do talk about gossip. It is my prayer and hope that our church can grow more personal and intimate, but I feel the biggest barrier to that growth, and a major tool of our enemy, will be the tongues of our members. In the development of this story I found that a lot of things can be considered gossip and that I myself have been guilty of gossip. The definition I like to use is talking about someone to someone else who cannot help the situation.
The Apostle Paul was afraid that gossip would destroy the church(2 cor. 12:20). In fact, he listed gossip in the same sentence as God-haters, slanderers, murderers, and others. It is very important that we unite around what God says about our conduct and speech, and bring our lives into compliance with His will for His people. Gossip is condemned from the very earliest times in the Old Testament all the way down to the end of the New Testament, and even though it is condemned like this in the Bible, it is still a problem in most, if not all, Christian churches today. Let's just stop and think for a moment. If my family and I were the target of gossip, how many more people in our church have been the target of gossip? How many have been hurt, maybe even mortally wounded by the careless comment of someone in the church? Too many I am sure. That is a frightening thought. We all expect to hear gossip at work, or maybe a ballgame, or even at a PTA meeting, but noone expects to hear it at church. One of the biggest reasons I think gossip happens in church is beceause people are thinking they are helping, or being noble, but the outcome is still sinful. Let me give you an example. per.1: I was sure glad to see Jane at worship this morning. per.2: Me too, I know she has been struggling lately. Now if they would have stopped there, everything would have been fine, but,
per2. cont: John and Jane have been fighting a lot, I heard he was a bit to friendly with his secretary at work. per.1: She has been busy with work, maybe she should spend a little more time at home. Now I am sure they started out meaning well when this conversation started, trying to help Jane with her problem. But, was there any help there? That is assuming they even had the story right. This does nothing to help, it makes Jane and John objects of curiosity, and in the case of John, scorn. Anyway you cut it, and whatever motive you attach to it, it is still gossip. Gossip is incredibly common and incredibly destructive. There is no place for gossip anywhere, but especially in the church. What would happen if every peice of gossip lived or died with you, would it live or die? Stop gossip by refusing to repeat it. Keep count for the next week. How many pieces of gossip did you kill? You might be surprised.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I was getting ready to go to worship last Sunday, and I was looking in the bathroom mirror brushing my teeth, and the song I can only imagine by Mercy Me came on. I tried to imagine what Jesus might look like, does he look like me? Do I look like Him? Then, it was like I got hit with a 2 X 4. Once again I have to be reminded that we as Christians are supposed to live lives that resemble and reflect the life of Jesus Christ. So there is the question, do I resemble Jesus? Does the life I lead reflect Jesus? I guess the point I am trying to make is that we the church are actually the living and breathing body of Jesus. We the church have to reflect Christ to this world. If someone wants to know what Jesus would do, they should be able to look at Christians and know what He would do. If someone wonders what Jesus looks like, they should be able to look at Christians and see Jesus. So I guess that might be a question for everyone, not just me. Do we as young people, or adults, or husbands and wives, or grandparents live a life that reflects Jesus Christ? Act like a Christian in any circumstance. Follow Jesus' greatest commandment: Love God completely and everybody even if they treat you wrongly whether you know them or not. Jesus said "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" Jesus says in John 13:15, "I have given you an example, that as I have done, so should you do." In I Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." Ephesians 5:1 says, "Be imitators of God as dear children. Set aside time for meaningful prayer. Make intercession for people who do not pray enough for their own development, i.e.: children, cousins, friends, enemies and family, etc. In Ephesians 1:16 Paul prays for a "Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation" I recommend that you say the prayer in Ephesians 1:16-23 for yourself everyday for one year and God will open up your spirit and develop your understanding. You will have so much spiritual insight that you make a big impact on others. Be patient with people who anger you; work on trying to forgive those who may have hurt you. You must learn to love your enemies. God loves everyone, and we need to, also. Say farewell to selective loving. If you have a hard time loving your enemies, pray to God for help. Treat others kindly as you would like to be treated. Even simple acts of kindness like holding a door open for someone are good deeds that can help. Volunteer to help people. For example, you could take a shift at a soup kitchen near you,visit a person staying in a nursing home. Remain conservative in your ethics, moderate and modest being sure to remember that pride can be dangerous. Pride may imply that you are judging others falsely, and is said to be the mother of all sins, because pride resides in each one of us. The source of all sin is oneself and not considering others. These are just a few examples of how to live like Jesus. I am not claiming to an expert on Jesus, but through my studies this is what I have learned. We all need to live more like Jesus, if we do the world will become a much better place.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It is only by God's grace that you have been saved, because of God's great mercy and love, and even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. For He raised us along with Christ from the dead, and seated us with Him in heaven because we are now part of Jesus. When you believed, God saved you by His Grace. You cannot take credit for this, it is solely a gift from God. It is not a reward for some good deed you have done, that way we cannot boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2;1-10) As I read through this scripture, it reminded me how important it is to stay humble. As it says in the scripture, "none of us can boast about it". Salvation is not something to brag about, it is something to praise God and sing about. To stand in awe of this amazing gift, freely given to us by God's grace and love. I hear people all the time say how this person is so nice or good, they must deserve to go to heaven. But, they don't understand the most important point, No one deserves to go to Heaven. We all fall short. It is only by accepting Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior, by recognizing that He died on a cross in order to take the punishment for our sins, that we receive salvation. Only by accepting Jesus into our hearts may we enter into God's presence. Not anyone of us will ever deserve this gift. But, anyone may receive this gift of salvation by turning to Christ, accepting Him, and asking Him for forgiveness.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Like many of you I struggle with worry, where am I going to find the money to get a furnace or finally get more than a plywood floor for my kitchen? My daughter is starting middle school next year, what if something happens to her, my wife is in real estate and property management and regularly meets with strangers to show them rental properties or houses for sale, what if something happens to her? Then, I saw a scripture posted on facebook, Philippians 4: 6-7 , which told me not to be anxious about anything, but to bring everything to the Lord in prayer, with thanksgiving. So now I try to give everything over God and give Him thanks for the things that I have, because giving thanks lifts my heart to see above the problems of this world.I have learned to pray for thanksgiving for all that God has given me. I grew up and lived very poor for most of my life, So I give Him thanks for my job and my wife's job. I give Him thanks for the house my family and I have. I give Him thanks for my beautiful wife and the daughter we were never supposed to have.  Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God.” When we thank God for these things, we are able to truly enjoy them for what they are.
God has promised us freedom from anxiety along with His peace, and all we have to do is trust Him completely. The greatest gift God gave us was His only Son, who gave his life so that we may have forgiveness of our sins and everlasting life. Through His Spirit God gives us joy, peace, and victory. Let us rejoice in our Lord and give thanks to Him in all things!
I will leave you with this quote about the deliverance that thankfulness, and gratitude can give us.
“John Henry Jowett said, ‘Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.’ This is a most searching and true diagnosis. Gratitude can be a vaccine that can prevent the invasion of a disgruntled attitude. As antitoxins prevent the disastrous effects of certain poisons and diseases, thanksgiving destroys the poison of fault-finding and grumbling. When trouble has smitten us, a spirit of thanksgiving is a soothing antiseptic.”

God's Peace

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Smile

I think too often we underestimate the power of a smile, which has the potential to turn around someone's day, or maybe even more. That smile you give out might even make your day or week better. I can honestly say I have seen the softening of the hardest heart with only a smile, and a lot of the time it is my own smile that is doing it. I heard someone say, or maybe I read it somewhere, A smile is the key that fits the lock to everyone's heart. Think about it, that one simple smile has the power to calm someone's fear, anxiety, hurt, or insecurities. A single smile, one that is true, has within it the power to change the world because it can be shared no matter what language you speak. Smiles are also contagious, so when you smile at someone, you are passing on all the good things smiles can do.
God has given us the power to change attitudes, to change lives, and all you have to do is start smiling.
Use your smile to break down the walls of indifference, to show you care, to share God's love with the rest of the world. Mother Teresa said " Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." It truly is a gift, a gift of God's love, sharing the Holy Spirit with someone through that smile. Mother Teresa also said "Peace starts with a smile. " So maybe, instead of shooting and killing each other, we should start smiling, and we might get closer to true peace.......

Friday, May 10, 2013

     I have made it through my first weekend of the play, we did 3 shows this last weekend. I have to tell you I was scared to death on the first Friday. All day long the tension built up as the day dragged on, and I got more and more nervous. I know God calls us to step out of our comfort zones, but wow am I really stepping out. As I was meditating the other day something came to me, God is preparing me for my calling. I know God didn't make me grow up the way that I did, but He is now taking what happened and making good out of it. If you go all the way back to my original post of this blog you can see my journey through life and see what I had experienced.
 
     I am being called to teach in some way, maybe to share what I went through growing up with kids, teenagers, or maybe even parents to let them know that they need to be very involved with their Kid's lives.
The problem is that I am very afraid to get up and talk in front of people, I get very nervous and I get very sweaty, or I guess I should say I did get sweaty. After all the rehearsals and the 3 shows I still get a little nervous, but I am not afraid anymore.

     God has a plan for me, and sometimes I don't always see where He is leading me. He is calling me to do something that is way out of my comfort zone because I believe I am supposed to help those that are headed down the same path I was. Even though I delay or try to put off these things because of fear or doubt. God put me in this play to ease my fears and show me that I can get up and talk in front of people,  He gives us these trials to make us stronger and give us confidence through Him that we may succeed. God has my back, and he also has your back. If you trust in God then all things are possible.
Remember, you may not know where life's road will lead you, but keep on walking, because God is walking with you.
   
   
    

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Every year my church does a rendition of the last supper as the service for our Maundy Thursday worship. This year I was asked to play Phillip.  Since I was in the play I accepted, thinking it would be good practice for the play. After it was over I realized it was something way more than that.



I got my lines and worked on them for a week. I said them over and over again until I had them memorized. I kept saying them for my wife to make sure I had my lines right. I said them for her 5 times in a row before I left for the service, I had these lines nailed. Then, I got to the church and we went over the fine details, what was going to happen on stage, where we were supposed to be, that kind of stuff.  Then we started to go over our lines and after all that practice and going over them with my wife, I forgot my lines.  I couldn't even remember 2 sentences. We went up on the stage and I was freaking out, what was I going to do? I was the 7th person to speak, but the 1st to start after one of our worship songs. As the song was winding down and I was just seconds from speaking I said, "God please help me" and He did. As I started to say my lines they just flowed out of me, like they were actually my words, I felt what it was like to be Phillip, to be shocked and saddened that one of us would betray Jesus to die on a cross.



     I think this is showing a good example between letting God be in control verses you trying to be in control. When we try and take control of things we are pretty limited at what we can accomplish. If you don't trust that God's power is there for you, than it won't be released. But, if you ask God to help you and pray for his strength, then you and He can handle anything. We can do all things through Christ. ( Philippians 4:13) So as I go on through this play I ask God to be with me and help me and I don't feel so nervous anymore. I still feel a little butterfly in my stomach, but with God's help I will get through it and I can't wait for opening night.......

Sunday, March 31, 2013

     As christians we are called to speak out against sin, to call a sin, a sin, to call evil, evil. We should not sugar coat it, or hide it. We should not say it is OK, but we all need to remember that we have all sinned and fall short of God's glory. I pray to God everyday that I never talk about someone's sin in a judgmental way. When someone has crossed the line and sinned we should not look at them with a judmental spirit, there should be no finger ponting going on. We should look at it and handle it with gentleness and love.
     
     Let's look at James 4:11, it says, “Do not say evil against one another, my brothers. He who says evil against his brother or makes himself his brother’s judge, says evil against the law and is judging the law." We are part of the same family, we are brothers, relatives, we have the same Father. Our Father who art in Heaven. We have the same Savior, Jesus Christ, "our Lord". We have the same Holy Spirit living inside of us. We have been saved by the same blood, the blood of Christ. It is the Devil's job to speak against God and his family. When we look at someone, or speak of someone in a judgmental way, we are doing the Devil's work. It is unchristian to judge others, that is not what we are supposed to be doing.

     Do you remeber what Jesus says the greatest commandment is? It is found in Mathew 22: 37-39.
It says, ’YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ "This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ’YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ When we judge someone we are breaking God's commandment. James tells us that when we speak evil of one another we are breaking God’s law and disobeying His commandment. By speaking evil against them - we are not loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have become their judge – not their friend. To judge one another is unloving and unchristian.

     God is merciful. He gives forgiveness where there should be condemnation. Shouldn’t we act the same way? Do you know the story that Jesus told in Mathew 18? It goes a little like this. A man owed $50,000 to his boss. His boss was kind enough to forgive him of the debt. The man then went out and found a guy who owed him $5. He strangled the guy because he wouldn’t pay up. When the boss heard the news – He went to man who had owed him $50,000 and said, “Who do you think you are? I forgave you a huge amount. This other fellow only owed you a little bit – yet you would not forgive him. What’s up with that? Is that how you play the game? Don’t give out what you so richly have received? Remember you will be forgiven in the same manner you forgive.”  God has shown us mercy. God has shown us love. God has shown us forgiveness. How should we treat those around us? How should we behave?

   Remember what 1 Corintians 13 says, If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-7)

     I will leave you with this, Mathew 7:1-5. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
    

    
    

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mathew 14:25-33,
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

     So I have been to a few rehearsals now, and I think that the Story of Jesus walking on the water, and showing the disciples that through faith you can conquer your fears can be applied to what I am doing with this play, trusting that God is with you always, no matter where you are He is right there with you.
     The first couple of times I went out and tried to act in front of people I was very nervous, I couldn't get my lines out, I couldn't act. One night one of my Stephan Minister friends was talking about Peter and how he always doubted, and needed proof, and didn't have faith that Jesus could help him walk on water no matter what the conditions. That got me thinking, I had never even thought that God would want to help me over come my fear of talking in front of people. Remember, God wants us to step out of our comfort zones, tells us to step out of our comfort zones. If He wants us to do this, then why would He not be there to help us. Now I add that to my daily prayers, as well as saying a little prayer before I go on stage to say my lines. I still get a little nervous, but knowing that God is there helps. Always remember that no matter what you are going through in life, God is there with you. Having some faith can be very powerful.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stepping out of your comfort zone

Genesis 12: 1-3 12, The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your
father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

I think this verse is just one where God asks us to step out of our comfort zones. He wants us to step out of our comfort zones in all aspects of our life, to rely and trust faithfully in him. So that is what I am going to do. I do not like to get up in front of people and call attention to myself, but that is exactly what I am doing. You see every year my church puts on a play, and since I have no musical ability what so ever, I never considered trying out because they are always musicals. Well this year is no different except for one little thing, there are some non singing parts. I have never done anything like this before, and it to be honest with you I am scared to death. I helped lead a Lenten service the other night and I could barely read my notes because I was shaking so bad. I also did a skit with my daughter in our no talent-talent show, but I didn't have to memorize a lot of lines and I looked into my note book the whole time. I will post throughout rehearsals and the play to let you know how it goes. I will also do a lot of praying for help to get me through this. God wants us to step out of our comfort zones in other parts of our lives to help us leave our comfort zones so we can become better disciples. So, get out of your comfort zones and take a chance, because that is what God wants us to do.

       

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Unity in anything is the key

    A couple of nights ago I was suffering from a bout of insomnia, so I was watching the National Geographic Channel. They were trying to find evidence of the existence of the Tower of Babel. I think most people would consider this a negative story where people were acting badly and God came down and scattered them. But, there is a positive in this story too, In Genesis 11: 6 it says, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they will plan to do will be impossible for them. I think that is a very powerful statement about unity, and the impact you can have when people are unified and thinking as one mind is truly amazing. Very few organizations, including churches, have true unity. I think a lot of the problems for this are poor communication, Gossip, and lack of shared purpose.
   Poor communication can come in many forms. For example, if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing then conflict sets in. If someone sees someone else doing something, and they don't know what they are doing and why they are doing it, then it gets misunderstood and seen as competition. This causes inter-company gossip and whispering.
    Gossip will destroy any organization, or church because it is very degrading. Gossip by definition means when a negative is discussed with anyone who can't solve the problem. I find it very interesting that people would never consider committing adultery, but will gossip with and about anyone, but in Galatians 5:15 it says, But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don't consume one another. In Galatians 5:19-22 it says they are on the same list. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immortality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness and orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Dissension is another word for gossip. Many of us have been in organizations, or churches where this is the norm, this doesn't create unity, it destroys it.
    Lack of a shared purpose, such as the goal, vision, and mission statement should be shared by all.
When you don't have that same vision, or you have people in places that are out for their own agenda despite the people they may hurt on the way, that destroys the organization, or church from within. When your organization, or church has made it clear that unity is a core value, then the core of the organization, or church, will act to keep the unity.
    I need to know that everyone in our organization, or church are all on the same team. I really don't think that is too much to ask, and I take it personally when the people in our organization, or church  are not united together. We must find a way to build unity in the church, if we succeed at doing this we will achieve amazing results. The spiritual, emotional, and practical power of unity is amazing when put into motion.