Waiting On God

BIBLE READING: Heb 1: 5 - 9. 5 For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: "You are my Son. Today I have become your Father." God also said, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son." 6 And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, "Let all of God's angels worship him." 7 Regarding the angels, he says, "He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire." 8 But to the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. 9 You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else."

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: Hey! I got another one in! I'm getting better at this! 

Waiting isn't one of my stronger qualities. That isn't to say that I can't be patient, but when your schedule gets turned upside down - you get to wait - A LOT!

I've tried to use this time constructively. Now I could read a book or take an online course. But instead, I decided to talk to God about some things. 

"Pressure" has been my middle name for the last few weeks. I will not go into all the details, but let's say that I've learned how to be Mr. Mom if there is one thing that you want to do when under pressure is to make it stop! But stop isn't an option. You and I have been in situations where we have to go through it, not around it. What do you do? This is the verse that God gave me the other day. 

Psalm 46:10. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

"Be still' means to stop striving, stop fighting, relax. It also means to "put your hands down." It is the hardest thing to do. But in the end, you have to let God fight your battles for you. 

Admit that you can't fix everything. This is an act of humility. Stop trying to be a savior and let Jesus be your Savior. 

Stop worrying. Nope, not easy but necessary. Worrying doesn't work. Jesus said so. 

Appreciate what you have. Often we will miss appreciating what we have because we are too focused on what we don't have. 

Pray persistently. This one is a given, but we need to pray and not give up. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, help me to wait. AMEN. 

8 Steps To Making A Come Back

BIBLE READING: Hebrews 1:1 - 4.  1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God's own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: I blogged!! I know, I'm surprised too. But Betty got her arm casts off yesterday and is starting to become a little more independent. She still has her leg cast on, and her arms are not back to 100% yet, but we're getting there. 

When Betty broke her leg, it was a traumatic experience for everyone. Everything changed to accommodate the need. But when she broke her arms two weeks later, I knew that I was in trouble. Everything was going to change again. But how? 

First of all, stick to your priorities. Know what is essential, and don't be afraid to use the word, "NO!" My wife came first, and I had to set some of my responsibilities aside to meet her needs. 

Then, choose the change you wish to experience. I would never wish a broken leg and two broken arms on anyone - ever. But the change that it brought into our lives I do have something to say about. Everything doesn't have to be wrong. The power of significant change comes from a great attitude. 

Now, don't lose your joy. No, I wasn't happy about what happened, but I didn't allow that to steal my joy. Joy sustained me every day. 

You can use your new schedule to your advantage. I found myself in different places at different times. I used the time to reflect on life and what we need to change. 

You have to learn, learn, learn. Situations like these will teach you lots of things about yourself and others. (See the next step below.) But you will learn nothing if you refuse to be a student. Open your eyes and see your new life. 

Let change teach you compassion. Most people fight change with anger. That would be acceptable if the change were some injustice. But most of the time, change requires compassion towards someone who cannot help themselves and your pride. 

Run to Jesus, don't run away. In our anger, we will blame God and run away from Him. God is not a bully, and He didn't do this to you. But He will be right there if you go to Him. 

Don't be afraid. This one has been tough for me — too many unknowns. God has been with us, but the pressure can be debilitating at times. Remember, Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

PRAY: Dear Jesus, help me to make a comeback. AMEN. 

A Bad Thing Happened - Updated

BIBLE READING: Philemon. 17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL! 20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ. 21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. 24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers. 25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

What does this passage mean to you?

BLOG: This blog may be a little long - but I guarantee that it is worth it. 

Here's the update to the whole "broken arms" disaster. Bad News: The Radius bones are broken near the elbow. Good News: We might get out of the soft casts next Tuesday - please pray. We're out of the wheelchair and now walking in a boot for the next two weeks. So, in short, she looks like a zombie walking. 

Today is Bettys Birthday. You can go on Facebook and wish her a Happy Birthday if you want to. But needless to say, we're holding off the "big celebrations" until later. 

This Sunday, I shared with the church, something that I thought I would share it with you. 

Often we try to understand why bad things happen to good people. We blame the devil, or we blame God by using the question, “What is God trying to tell you?”

In Betty's case, we blame the shoelace that got caught in the spokes of her scooter, locking it up and tossing her headfirst into the concrete. Neither the devil nor God is to blame for this. No more than you are to blame for getting the flu or unfortunate event that has happened to you. 

Jesus addressed this in John 9 
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The man is blind due to a birth defect of some kind. But the Old Testament tradition taught that if something terrible happened to you, it was God’s punishment - (Read the book of Job.) The Old Testament also explained that the sins of the father would be passed on to three or four generations. 

But we are under the New Testament. 
#1 - Jesus broke every curse on the cross. Being a follower of Jesus means you do not have to carry on the family curse. 
#2 - Jesus went to the cross because He knew that someone would fall off of their scooter and break both of their arms. (Isa 53.)

While God will use opportunities to teach us patience, build our faith, and draw us closer to Him, He isn’t a bully. He will allow us to experience our mistakes and failures - then love us through them. He knows we live in a world of sin that includes war, disease, accidents, and more. He will still love us through them too. 

When bad things happen to good people, God will rush to your side. But hell will show up to take advantage of the situation. 

God is doing great things here at FFWC, and hell would love nothing more than to: distract you from your source of hope and strength, discourage you from believing God is here for you right now, depress you into giving up on yourself and everything else. 

People have been asking, “What can I do?” 
- Be a friend. Friendship is more important than anything. 
- Pray for her. Healing in Jesus' name. 
- Encourage her. Anyone who has gone through anything like this will tell you, and depression will come. 
- Be patient with me. I have to make a lot of tough calls. 
- Help us pick up the pieces. Anytime your life goes under pressure, and you will discover what will last and what you're made of. 

Now, after all of that - let me say this. 

Every wise pastor will tell you that you are married to your wife, not the church. If you reverse this order, you might end up divorced. Over the last few years, the pressure that comes with pastoring has increased. Any pastor can confirm that. But when the pressure comes, it chews up your margins. What are margins, you ask? Have you ever read a book that had some white space around the page for you to make notes or comments on? Well, life is a lot like a book. You need margins spiritually, emotionally, and physically. But slowly, over time, your margins can disappear. You can't keep up, and you make too many mistakes, you're physically exhausted, your marriage and family suffer. You don't plan it, but it happens. Life slowly chews up your margins, and you start doing things you said you would never do. 

Being my wife's primary caretaker for the last few weeks had changed my heart. I can see mistakes that we are making in ministry, our marriage and family that are costing us dearly. I wish "fixing" these issues were as easy as mending a broken bone. But they are not, they will take more time. 

Normal has to change because, in reality - normal was dysfunctional. But good will come from this. God will get the glory, and roses will bloom again. 

So my birthday present to my wife is this. "Honey, I didn't know I could say this after 35 years of marriage - I love you now more than ever." 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, help me to have healthy margins for my life, my marriage, and my family. AMEN 

I'll blog again, but I do ask for your patience. My new "normal" has yet to be found. 

A Bad Thing Happened

BIBLE READING: Philemon  8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: I didn't blog yesterday, but in my defense, I was very, very busy. 

Around 1 pm, I heard a scream. It was my wife, and I recognized what kind of cry it was. She had fallen and hurt herself. Long story short, she broke both arms. Now, remember, she broke her leg just a couple of weeks ago. She was and is in pain. 

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

We all love to quote that verse, especially when we face something whose reward is welcomed. But the problem is when we encounter something severe and painful. We don't want to quote it. No, I am not saying that I don't want to serve and love my wife. I am saying that I don't want to watch her go through this. It is painful and harsh. 

But - I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

How, Pastor, can I face these seemingly impossible problems? Here are a few things you can do to meet the unwanted or undesired. 

Remember that God is the God of the impossible. You say, "impossible." God says, "I've got you." Trust Him through this time. 

Love the person, not the problem. We can and will get angry. But remember to focus your love on the person, not your anger. Sure, maybe they deserve it (no my wife doesn't) but not now. There are a time and place to do the right thing. 

Believe in yourself. God created you knowing that you were going to go through this. 

Don't be afraid. What if I make a mistake? It isn't a matter of "if" as much as a matter of "when." Don't be afraid to make mistakes, to say "I'm sorry," or forgive yourself. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I can do all things because you are my source of strength. AMEN 

4 Keys To Prevent Yourself From Being Deceived.

BIBLE READING: Philemon 1 This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, 2 and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people. 6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God's people.

What does this passage mean to you?

BLOG: A 48-year-old man suffered severe burns after falling into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. The man walked off the boardwalk without a flashlight and tripped into the thermal water near Old Faithful.

Have you ever heard stories like this one and said to yourself, "What were they thinking?"

We've all had our moments when it seems that common sense has left the building. But some believe in the flat earth theory, psychic surgery, and pyramid power too. You wonder - why? 

Matthew 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

You and I live in a world that is desperate for hope. While the Church has the only real message of hope, some will counterfeit it for their gain. You and I have to be aware and ready to challenge, with love, those who are deceived. 

A week ago, I was in a store, and a young man walked up to me and asked if he could speak to me. I immediately recognized that I was about to be "evangelized" by someone. He immediately took me to the book of Revelation, where he asked if I would like to be one of the 144,000 to go to heaven. I'm not Jewish, so I know that I can never be that. Then he told me how the angels were holding back the four winds of the earth so we would be saved from the war to come. But I pointed out that the four horsemen of Revelation (Chapter 6) had already brought war, famine, death, and pestilence. 

Then he told me that Jesus showed us how to be saved. "Ok, how?" I asked. He said, "I have to take Passover, just like they did in the New Testament." "Where is that in the New Testament?" I asked. He took me to the Last Supper in Matthew. I said, "This is Old Testament, not New." He insisted that it is, look it is in the book of Matthew. "Yes, but the New Testament doesn't start until the death and resurrection of Jesus. Read his words, the New Covenant is established in His blood. The events of the Gospels happen under Old Testament law, which Jesus obeyed until the new contract was fulfilled." 

He invited me to his Bible study, I told him I was a pastor and asked him to attend my Bible study, and he disappeared. 

So let's review a few of the basics.  

Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus.  He is the Son of God who died on a cross for our sins and rose from the grave to give us life. Salvation never has nor will ever be about our works. 

We must repent of our sins and turn away from them. We are asking Jesus to save us, but we are also committing to following Jesus with our whole life. 

The Bible, Genesis through Revelation, is the inspired Word of God. Every word all the time. 

Sometimes I see false religions turn on the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But I read where Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28) and see otherwise.

Oh, Pastor, you don't need to review the "basics" with me.  Maybe not.  But it doesn't hurt to remember them.  You and I live in a world that wants to take these truths and twist them to into their own design.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, keep my heart pure, my mind clear and my spirit ready to follow You everyday.  AMEN  

3 Ways To Improve Your Week

BIBLE READING: Titus 3: 12 - 15 12 I am planning to send either Artemas or Tychicus to you. As soon as one of them arrives, do your best to meet me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to stay there for the winter. 13 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos with their trip. See that they are given everything they need. 14 Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. 15 Everybody here sends greetings. Please give my greetings to the believers—all who love us. May God’s grace be with you all.

What does this passage mean to you? 

BLOG: It's Sunday afternoon, and your thinking about your week. The weekend was lovely but like all good things ... 

Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

So how are you going to prepare your week? What are you doing to make it better? Here are a few things that I do to that you might want to try. 

Plan your week. I sit down and make a list, like everyone else, of what is going to happen on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on. Now, do I get everything done on my list? Not usually, but I do get a lot done. To those who are saying, "I can't do that, my life is too hectic!" Now you know why. 

Change your attitude. Every morning I tell myself, I will be positive and grateful. These qualities do not come naturally to any of us. We must choose to do so. Some days I get it right, and we will not talk about the others. But I would hate to see what I would be like if I didn't do this. 

Welcome interruptions. I'm not talking about the time stealers like the "ding" on your cell phone or computer (Hint: Turn them off - I did, and my life got better!). I'm talking about those moments when God sends someone to you. Those opportunities to bless someone and be the Gospel. Don't get upset about it - if God is God, then He is the God of your time too. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, lead me to be the best I can be for You this week. AMEN.