10 years ago(ish)

This was the first blog I wrote in 2008.

"If 20 years ago you would have told me I would be posting my first blog. I would have thought you were speaking a foreign language. (Or at least, as a Pentecostal, I would have prayed for the interpretation) Then again if you would have said I would be the parent of a 3-year-old, pastoring in Palm City, managing the church website, driving a Korean car and loving all of it, I would have been forced to have you committed. 

40 years ago I was 3 (just like my daughter is today) and the Summer of Love was in full swing. Times were changing. Those who changed with those times did well. Those who did not adapt, well . . . So here I am, adapting. Not as easy as it looks, but it will happen. So as you read these blogs and it seems that I am trying to find my way through this, please forgive me. But keep coming back. This will get better and my prayer is, that it will bless you."

Sometimes it is good to remember your roots.

I understand Luke 9:62,  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  That's about not looking back upon your life and regretting placing your faith in Christ.

Think of it more like Deuteronomy 6:12 Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

If you are going to go forward in your life, don't forget where you came from.  You need to see your progress.

You were a sinner.  Remember that at one time in your life you were separated from God.  How was life back in those days?  Not so good huh?

You were unequipped for the task.  My daughter is now 14 and I've written around 1,700 blog posts.  Not to say that everyone was a masterpiece but I have learned a few things along the way.  As a follower of Jesus, you have learned a few things too.  Those gems of wisdom from the Holy Spirit have made a difference in your life.

You didn't know where this was going to lead you.  Life is an adventure.  Jesus will lead you to places you never knew you could go.

Where were you 10 years ago?
What have you learned in 10 years?
What has Christ done for you in the last 10 years?

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, thank you for saving my life and for changing me.  AMEN

Sunday Is Here!

Hen. 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

What do you expect from church?

Matt. 9:29 “According to your faith be it done to you.”

If you go to church tomorrow and get nothing out of it, you might have missed the point. If you are depending on the music to usher you into the presence of God, you might be waiting a long time.  If you are thinking that the sermon will somehow revolutionize your life, you may get disappointed.  Dont’t get me wrong the worship, the service and their sermon are important.  But they are parts of a bigger picture.

How can you change tomorrow?

Don’t depend on men.  Depend on the Holy Spirit.
Don't come to church with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude.  Come with a “What can I give today?”
Come by faith expecting God to do something great today.
Give it your all because you will reap what you sow.

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I will come to Your house today ready to meet You! Amen

Fear Is Ugly

Since the school shooting on Valentines Day fear has become very apparent.

Parents keeping their kids home from school.
Kids having nightmares about going to school.
False social media threats against high schools.
Media sources fearmongering recent events.
The list goes on and on.

2 Timothy 1:7  For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Psalm 56:3  When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We live in a violent world, and we have always lived in a violent world. 

Genesis 6: 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Before the flood, mankind was so evil that God stopped it.  

Jesus said in Matthew 24:37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 

That's right, Jesus said that mankind would do it again.  So, while we are disappointed and grieved at what we are experiencing, we shouldn't be surprised.  But what can you do today? 

Pray for yourself.
Pray for His peace to rule over your heart.  Not fear. 

Guide those who you have influence over. 
Much has been said about parenting skills or the lack of.  Teach and enforce Biblical values and ideals.  

Share the peace
Jesus is in our hearts.  He is the great peacemaker.  Share Jesus and turn someone's world around. 

Don't be afraid
Resist fear.  I'm not saying that we should live in denial.  Just don't let it have control.  

Trust Jesus
He is our provider and protector.  He is a friend that is nearer than a brother. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to resist fear and embrace your faith today.  AMEN  

The Broward School Shooting

17 dead.
14 wounded.
Gunman captured without incident.
A community devastated.

For the record.  I pastored in Coral Spring/Parkland for 6 years.  I drove by that school last Saturday on the way to an appointment in south Broward.

People are asking why?
The shooter's motives are still a secret to us.  I am confident that the shooter's motives will be debated for some time.  

People are asking how?
As far as I can tell, the school wasn't lax in their security.  But no security system is perfect.

People are asking, what's next?
Anger? Mourning?  Debate?  Healing?  This is a complicated process that will take time.  Patience and diligence to rise above the evil will be paramount.

What happened was evil.
Motive aside, it was evil.  The Bible talks about evil frequently.  It can refer to anything that is morally wrong or anything without a moral depth.  It can be used to describe anything which is against the holiness of God or to describe any kind of disaster or tragedy.  But in the end, evil is the lack of good.  Evil is the absence of morality.

God didn't do this.
People like to blame God for the evil that is in the world.  If God is all powerful why doesn't He stop evil?  Imagine with me that God chooses to stop all evil.  No one would be able to commit murder, rob a bank, talk back to their parents, or cheat on a test.  This action would affect every choice they make thus making free will a thing of the past.  Without free will, we would no longer have the ability to choose good.

This is why Paul wrote Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We are created in the image of God.  We have the freedom to choose how to act.  We also have to face the outcomes of our actions.  God chooses to do good in our lives if we choose to include Him in our lives.  God even chooses not to lie, change, break His promises, reject us if we approach Him with a broken and submissive heart, or ever stop loving us.

So what can you do?

Remember Satan exists.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Evil has been personified in a shooter.  
Remember what the source of evil is.  Satan.  He chose to rebel against God and has a mission to destroy everything that He loves.  Lifes, minds, marriages, families, health, futures and anything else he is allowed to influence.  Don't believe his lies.  

No this isn't easy.  Focus on Christ and let Him influence your heart.  What you do can bring healing. Revenge and unforgiveness cannot.

Pray with empathy.  Put yourself in the shoes of the parents and loved ones who suffered losses.  Pray that God will comfort them and help them.

Choose wisely
Evil is sly and sneaky.  It works its way in slowly breaking down one moral barrier after another until . . .

PRAY:  Dear Jesus,  Today I intercede on behalf of the community and families devasted by this shooting in Coral Spring/Parkland.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will visit and help every family who lost a loved one.  For every student who witnessed this tragedy, please help them find healing for their heart and mind.  I pray that through this your love, grace, mercy and healing power will triumph over the evil, hate, and rage.  No, we will not forget this day, but we ask that what You do in and through our lives will define it, not the evil that created it.  AMEN.

Love Is In The Air

So how did Betty and I start off our Valentines Day?  Having an argument?

It wasn't a big one or a serious one, but it was an argument nonetheless.

Later that day she brought me a Valentines Day card.  When she left for work, we kissed.  My daughter saw it and said, "Oh stop it."  Of course, for all of you parents that have teenagers, that's all the reason you need to keep on kissing.  :)

Betty and I have been married nearly 34 years.
We've been friends for nearly 37 years.
We have worked together, side by side for nearly 29 years.
Sometimes love is the only thing that kept us from killing each other.

We've gone through our ups and downs.  Year three wasn't fun at all.  Years 5 and 6 was tough on us personally.  Years 7 through 13 tested our resolve. Years 15 through 17 were a serious transition. Years 18 and 19 was a significant loss in our lives. Year 20 was an incredible year of rejoicing. Year 27 broke our hearts.

Ephesians 4:2-3: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Every day I realize I love, Betty.  She is the most industrious and creative person that I know.
Every day I realize that I don't deserve her or her love.
Every day I realize that she is a gift from God to Anneka and me.
Every day I realize that she loves me, and I don't understand why, but I am a better man for it.

What did you do for your Valentine today?

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, let me understand love the way You do.  Let me love someone the way You would.  AMEN

The Keys To Your Triumph

This blog is going to be one part devotional and one part motivational.  Hey, all of us can use some motivation, right?

EI is more important than IQ
Philippians 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

EI or Emotional Intelligence has been around forever.  Do any of you remember the part of your report card that said, "plays well with others?"  Well, that's EI.  How you get along with people is more important than your IQ.  

Years ago I knew someone who was the best at what he did.  Problem was, no one could work with him.  He didn't like people and they were gracious enough to return the favor.  

Teamwork is more important than perfection. 
Mark 6:7-13 

The disciples were to work together not produce perfection.  Many times we will say, "If you want a job done right, do it yourself."  That may be true, but that doesn't make it correct.  God has surrounded you with people who can help.  Let them.

I've seen people tackle mountains like cancer, divorce, and other disasters on their own.  It isn't too long before they are defeated and discouraged.  

Vision is more important than goals. 
Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  

Before we get into the age-old question about mission and vision and blah, blah, blah.  Let's just say that vision is the big picture and goals are the benchmarks you achieve to making the vision become a reality.

I knew a pastor once who would tell me about all the great things his church was doing.  One day I asked him a question.  Why do you do all of this stuff?  He couldn't answer the question because he didn't understand the big picture.  Don't get bogged down in the details so much that you miss the big picture.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to care about others more than myself, help me to include the people who surround me, help me to see Your big picture and set Your goals.   AMEN