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Showing posts from December, 2011

Happy vs. Joy

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Happy Holidays vs. Joy to the World. Over the last few weeks I have seen and heard the words Happy Holidays a lot! It doesn't offend me. I'm not going to get sucked into that whole Merry Christmas vs. Seasons Greetings thing. Here is the deal. Do I like to be happy? Of course I do. But let's get real here! Happy doesn't last forever. Happy is that new car you buy - until you make the first payment. Happy is the taste of your favorite Christmas dessert - until it is gone. Happy just doesn't last. But Joy? That's different. I choose to have joy in my life. I choose to let God fill me with His presence so that I can live everyday for Him. His joy is with me when I am depressed. His joy is is there when life isn't fair. His joy makes me complete. So do I expect the holidays to make me happy? No - that's foolish and expensive. I think I'll put my faith in Jesus instead - then I'll know what "Joy To The World" mea

The Evolution of Christmas

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For many of us - we just assume that Christmas has always been. Well it has, but not in the way we understand it. In the 1600's, English Puritans almost extinguished Christmas. The Pilgrims were even more orthodox than the Puritans, so much so that you could have been fined 5 shillings for even exhibiting the Christmas spirit. (FYI - Don't tell the government this one or we will be paying a Christmas tax next year.) Because Christmas was an English tradition, Americans didn't much take to English customs so Christmas was mostly ignored until the 19th century that Christmas was made an official holiday. Now this is where it gets interesting. In the early 19th century there was a time of class conflict and turmoil. Unemployment was high (deja vu?) rioting by the disenchanted classes (Occupy protests?) often occurred during the Christmas season. This started the way Christmas was celebrated in America. Believe it or not - before the Civil War Christmas was a divi

A grateful Christmas

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This Saturday is our Annual Christmas Eve service. It really is one of the highlights of the season for us. Each year I try to choose a theme for the service and this year it is - Gratitude. What are you grateful for this Christmas Season. Family? Friends? Everything? Being grateful is a choice, it isn't automatic. Our choice will be challenged, and you have to choose to be grateful even while someone is being ungrateful. So what can you be grateful for this Christmas? You are grateful for Jesus, without Him you couldn't experience the forgiveness of your sins. Be grateful for the Holy Spirit who baptizes and empowers you to live your life everyday. Be grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for your healing and needs of life. Be grateful for His Word, the Bible, which gives you wisdom and encouragement in the midst of your storms. Be grateful for prayer. You can talk to God and He will hear you. There are 5 - what can you add?

Merry Christmas heres your Kidney Stone

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Yesterday morning I woke up. Those of you who know me understand that is a miracle in and of itself. But I woke up. I went from a deep sleep to screaming wide away in .2 seconds. Why? A kidney stone wanted to make it's presence known. Now some of you might remember that back on my birthday, I gave birth to another stone. What you don't know is that I read lips. What does that have to do with a kidney stone? During the first stone (which we officially call #4) I watched the ultrasound people find the current stone that was torturing me - then they found another one. I didn't know if I had passed it originally or if it was still there - that was until yesterday. Fortunately, to the glory of God, I passed it very quickly (apparently it was very small and we are naming it #5). But for those of you who have never had the pleasure of doing any of this, you probably don't know that one can have all sorts of infections, kidney, bladder, prostrate, etc. So tod

So What Are You Afraid Of?

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This is short and to the point. What are you afraid of? What effects your life, keeping you from your goals, your calling, your destiny? What freezes you up when you think about it? When we think of fear - it is usually followed by the thought, "Apparently I don't have enough faith!" That isn't true! Think about it. Some of the greatest men and women in the Bible faced fear with faith - but it didn't eliminate their faith. So what drives fear away? 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Did you see it? Not love - but perfect love. Where does that come from? It comes from God. Why is God active in our live? Because we are desperate? No - because He loves us. When we trust His love - we have nothing to be afraid of. When we trust His love - we don't have to worry or fret. When we trust His love - we experience His perfe

Church Redefined

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A lot has been said about how the church should be defined or redefined for the 21st Century. I don't that that will be a discussion that will ever quit, even if we make it to the 25th century. But in a conversation that I had with a pastor friend of my in Tampa, Larry Shrodes, help me to redefine something for me. He posted on Facebook, "Today leaders are not measured by having the biggest budget or the biggest programs. They are measured by having the biggest ideas." quote stolen from friend Russ Jones I gave him ample time to post it first! I Twittered, "Huge budgets and numbers isn't what it's all about - Big Ideas is the new currency that builds churches today." Both quotes are right, so let's boil it down. It isn't the church who feeds more people or raises more money for missions that is going to grow or get noticed. It is the church that has the biggest ideas. Imagination gets more recognition than perspiration. What doe

Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married - Pew Report

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Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low The Pew Research analysis also finds that the number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5% between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop ...... Some say economy - others say it's culture. Even The Pew Research Center survey, In a 2010, discovered that about four-in-ten Americans (39%) said they agree that marriage as an institution is becoming obsolete. Don't panic just yet, 47% of unmarried adults who agree that marriage is becoming obsolete say that they would like to wed. Here are a few thoughts that you might want to consider. #1 - The economy does have something to do with it. Either they can't afford a wedding or they just don't want to make a significant and expensive mistake. The other thing is, someone can still get their alimony and government support as long as they don't remarry. #2 - Many adults today come from broken homes. That isn't their fault, but they don't want to r

Slap Happy Graphics

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I don't recommend products or services very often. But if you are looking for a graphic artist who can do websites and all that OTHER stuff, get ahold of my friend Justin at Slap Happy Graphics. He did this for us recently. Now I know that you probably do a lot of your own stuff. That's great! Believe me in this economy we have to keep prices low. But if you need to take your website or promo material to the next level - this is as reasonably priced as I can find. So check it out and tell him that Russ sent you.

When Hell Freezes Over

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So where did that phrase come from? No one really knows. It started sometime in the early 19th century and was almost extinct by the mid 1970's. But apparently it has made a come back - recently. The idiom that is an indirect answer to the question - "So when will hell freeze over?" If you guessed NEVER! You are correct. It is usually an indirect way of saying - "You're going to get a fight and I am willing to die for this - so back off!" Who has been using this phrase recently? Pastors. That's the Christmas spirit!! Listen, there is nothing I can do to stop atheists from suing community over their naivety scenes. There is nothing I can do about communities who decide not to celebrate any religious holiday. So what are going to do!!! Here are a few thoughts. 1 - Show some love and compassion to the people who are "offended" or "offending". Love your enemies and submit to your authorities - the Bible says it!! D

Where did Christmas go?

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Season wreaths - Holiday Trees - Festive Lights - Blah Blah Blah It's called Christmas. So I go around saying Merry Christmas to people. I actually got a "Merry Christmas" from a employee whose company has told them not to say it. Yesterday we learned that one of Annekas friends will be celebrating "Presents Day". They are atheists. A county in Texas received a law suit from a group of atheists who demand that they get to put their banner up next to their nativity. The banner will read. "At this season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." The city of Boca has had so much flack about this they decided to do nothing. I don't believe that this war will be won sitting in a pew - at a judges bench or in the arena of public opinion. It isn't our job to convert

Grateful or Gripeful

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No gripeful isn't a word, but it should be. Gripeful: To be full of gripe. Every holiday season has a personality of it's own. There are no two Christmas' alike. Some years people flock to church. Other years - not so much. As I travel around town I can hear the people talking about Christmas. Well it's more like shouting. "They want how much for that!?!" "Well they are just going to have to do without." Being grateful is a choice. It isn't something that you do because you have good manners. When is the last time you thanked God for your house - your car - your kids? When was the last time you thanked God for your health - your career - your life? So when do we really become grateful? Usually right before you lose it. I don't know how many times I have heard people say, "I really didn't know what I had until I lost it." What a shame. So here are a few things that you need to do - RIGHT NOW!! 1) Deter

Corporate Worship Isn't That Important?

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So I read a blog yesterday that said that the Bible really doesn't say that we are to have "corporate worship" and that they whole coming together thing for Christians really isn't as important as we make it out to be. That meeting as a church is all about the joy of being in each others presence. I feel a campfire and a rousing chorus of Kumbaya coming on. Where's the marshmallows? Well here are a few problems I have with that kind of nonsense (can you tell I'm ticked off). Hebrews 10:25 says: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV) The books of 1st and 2nd Corinthians have much to do with their behavior in church. But Paul doesn't say anywhere that they shouldn't attend church. Corporate worship allows you to connect to God in a unique and wonderful way. A way that isn't any less important or powerful than your priva

Forgiving Oneself

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I have to admit that I am not the best at this. People who are goal driven and success oriented tend to take failure and mistakes personally. But here are a few things that I have learned. Ask for forgiveness from people. Even if you think you have hurt the - ask anyway. I have never had anyone get mad at me for doing this. Train your brain to think of mistake and failures as stepping stones to better places. Don't forget - you're not perfect. If you are striving to be something that God didn't intend for you to be - don't try. How many times have you been hurt by someone elses mistakes. Forgive them. Don't EVER say to yourself, I can't forgive them. Now it isn't about forgiveness, but bitterness, anger and revenge. All of these things you need to get rid of quickly!! They are terrorists on your trip. Beating yourself up isn't a form of penitence. Growing and becoming more like Jesus is. Take the time to pray it out! Get alone

Doing Things Backwards

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So former governor Rod Blagojevich got 14 years for 18 counts of corruption. At this sentencing hearing today Blagojevich said that he made "terrible mistakes" and told the truth that he broke the law. Even his attorneys said he is guilty of corruption. So all these years he lied to the people of Illinois - The State Senate - A jury (twice) - and anyone else who inquired? Then after he is convicted he throws himself on the mercy of the court. Here is an idea. Why not resign - admit what you did up front - take your punishment (most likely wouldn't have been 14 years) and face the music? We live in a world that says, "Why tell the truth when a lie will suffice?" True, we expect people to lie. In fact we're not really surprised, just disappointed. We really do live in a world where people wished everyone else told the truth. But I might lose my job. I might get in trouble. Well if you deserve to lose your job or get in trouble - then . . .

Dancing Daughter

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Last week was dance week. Here is Anneka in a couple of her dances. 2 mini Nutcrackers. 1 holiday show and 2 Nutcrackers. I am so proud of her. Mom too - she was a backstage mom for 31 hours. WOW!!

Grateful for Gripeful?

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Are you grateful? I have a feeling that our sense of gratefulness has been redefined by our economy. People who were once grateful for the nice car, house and stuff are now grateful for a happy marriage, healthy kids and time together. Stats tell us that people are redefining what “rich” and “success” is. I suppose on one hand this is good - bad times have forced us to reevaluate our priorities and what we really want out of life. When you sit on the precipices of losing everything that you own - is that the moment you are thankful for what you have? You might be too late. There is an old hymn that says, “Count your blessings name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done!” When you start counting, you should realize what He has done for you. When our focus is on the bad news, mean people, gloomy forecasts and a world bent on destroying itself, one would probably wonder, what’s there to be happy about? Well, stop, pause and start counting your bless

The End

Well today is the last day of our 30 day challenge. I am glad that you went on this journey with me. I have to be honest - some of the stuff I have been writing has challenged me too! We live in tough times and sometimes that requires some tough faith to face it with. If these 30 days have done anything for you - please let me know - drop me an email. I believe that in 2012 I will do this again. Updating elevatemylife.us with new and fresh ideas on how you can get closer to God will be key. Also I would like to offer the D.I. (Discipleship Intensive), here at FFWC and online via Skype (for those who don’t live in this area or country). So keep watching for future announcements. But for today - worship God - serve someone with the love the Jesus that is in your heart. Support your church and make a difference for Jesus today. Check back tomorrow - I'm still blogging!!

Time marches on

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Jesus was tempted for 40 days. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days Noah was in the ark 365 days Israel wandered in the desert for 14,600 days Time - it is valuable and precious. You can’t make it but you can lose it. We try to save it, but it still marches on. What you do with your time, isn’t your business. It’s how we worship and serve our King - Jesus with our time is our business. As a pastor I have heard the following line over and over and over and over. “I just don’t have the time, Pastor.” I think that if Jesus were to tell us, “I don’t have the time to care for you today” - that it would throw us into a panic. I know that I would leave the house or get out of bed. What you do with your time can change you and your world. When you determine to use it to the glory of God. For years, here in Port Saint Lucie, there was a man who stood on the same street corner, carrying a full sized cross, with a megaphone preaching about Jesus. I knew a woman who h

Do you have faith in or fear your dreams?

Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream . . . In the end, Joseph and his brothers were happy about how their reunion. Even though it was painful it was necessary. God fulfilled His promises and Joseph's dreams came true. If you were to ask Joseph if he would do it again, he would probably hesitate and then say, yes. It was worth it all but at what cost? A better question might be, if you knew what you were going through, would you have done it? The answer would probably be no! We don’t like pain and we don’t like suffering. Yet it is through these two avenues that we discover more about ourselves and about God. It is through these tough times that we get closer to God and our dreams either drive our faith or our fears.

God has a Bigger plan in mind for you.

Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream . . . Ruling over his family wasn’t the goal - saving his family from starvation was. God had a plan to take care of the family. God wasn’t dismissing Ruben (the first born) from leading the family. He wasn’t displacing Jacob (the father) from being the patriarch of the tribe. The plan was to ..... well what was it? Sometimes you will wonder just what God is up to? The whole Joseph, Egypt, prison, dream thing didn’t have to happen - if God would have prevented a famine from happening. A little rain and all of this wouldn’t have to happen. How many times have you said - God if you would just . . . We’ve all done it - but do so without realizing that there is a greater plan in mind. Hundreds of years later, the tribe of Jacob would turn into the nation of Israel. What God had planned for them would lead them to become a great nation. Greater than Egypt itself. Miracles would be apparent and the world would know the the God of Israel was

When a dream becomes a nightmare.

Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream . . . What happens when your dream becomes a nightmare? It does happen, but don’t be too quick to asses the reasons why this has happen. #1 - Don’t assume that God turned your dream into a nightmare. #2 - Did you assume kingship of your dream and displaced God? #3 - Anything that you do for God will be met with challenges. Sometimes a nightmare isn’t a nightmare. #4 - Each phase or challenge of your life may be a part of the plan. You know the dream, but you have to trust God. Look at Joseph. He has a dream that one day he will rule over his brothers. Next he is sold into slavery. Ouch! As a slave he is accused of rape. Oh Boy! Then while in prison he befriends 2 people who could get him out of there. One dies and the other forgets about him for a long time. At what point would you call this a nightmare. But here is the interesting point. First of all, everything that God led Joseph through helped to prepare him for things to come. S

Where Is Your Dream Taking You?

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Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream . . . Oh but if . . . . We learn that life is conditional from the very beginning. “If you are good, you will get a cookie!” Do what you are told, the promise will be fulfilled. The thing about dreams though is, will the promise be fulfilled? Being good for 10 minutes, well that may be tough for a 3 year old - but being good for 13 years, well . . . We are an impatient people. Which is something that strikes me as odd. We don’t like pain - but impatience causes pain. We say that we are impatient, then we complain about our lives being in pain. Isn’t that like saying that you wished your thumb didn’t hurt as you hit it with a hammer? Joseph had to wait 13 years for his dream to be fulfilled. I know, tough! But the process was as important as the dream. Another way to put it is that the journey is as important as the destination. (In some cases, more important.) When we realize that what God is doing in us is as important as what God wa