Showing posts from December, 2017

Happy New Year!

As I write this post is it midnight in Darwin, Australia.  Thank you, Google. In a few hours, we will be celebrating 2018.  The ball will drop in Times Square.  Fireworks will go off in my neighborhood until 3 am.  (So much for sleep.) But what will 2018 bring you this year?  Sure, the future is an unknown.  But that doesn't mean you can't plan for it.  A new year can help you bring in new changes, new habits, new relationships, new business, new success and new hope.  That is if you want it. As the old saying goes.  If you aim at nothing, you will hit it. Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Be diligent to look down the road and think about what is going to happen to you and your family this year.   Take time to write down some spiritual, financial and physical goals that you would like to achieve.   Then determine how you are going to accomplish those goals.  Need to stop s

1 More Day Until 2018

There are only 24 hours in a day. There are only 7 days in a week. There are only 365 days in a year. When you look forward to 2018 you have to ask yourself, what do I need to get rid of from 2017? Ps 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Your life can only take so much.  If you push it too far, then something has to give.   - Your health.  - Your marriage.  - Your salvation.  - Your family and so on.  You need to look at your present life and ask yourself some hard questions.  - Do I need this in my life?  - Is this taking too much time?  - Do I have a bad habit that is stealing my time?  - Am I in a relationship that isn't good for me?  Here are a few priorities that you can embrace.  This will help.  Jesus is first.  Believe it or not.  This will actually help you have more time for your life.  Others are next.  Marriage is first.  Then your kids.  You're married to your spouse, not to your kids.  T

2 More Days Until 2018

I really can't believe that New Years is here.  In fact, I don't think that anyone else believes it either. Someone said, "Happy New Year!" yesterday and everyone in the room looked at them like he had lost his mind.  Then the brain cells kicked in, and there was this collective, "Oh yea!" look on everyone's faces. Time is a treasure.  It is more valuable than money, skills, and talent.  Without it, you cannot have a relationship with someone.  You cannot forge a future for yourself.  You cannot do anything. Because when you're out of time - you're done. You cannot borrow more time.  You cannot make more time.  You cannot steal time. Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, God has instructed you and I, through the Bible, to be good managers of what He has given us.  Now, this discussion is usually relevant to money, and it does apply.  But not exclusively.  It also refers to your talents, o

3 More Days Until 2018

A friend of mine once said, "If you can't reach your goals, lower your standards."  Really!?! There are only 3 days until 2018.  What will this year bring you?  Well, if there is anything I know it is this.  You're going to have to give up, "good" to have, "better." Philippians 3:12 but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  You and I like to live in the past.  Disagree?  Well then, why do you keep doing the same habits over and over?  You did them yesterday, last week, last month and even last year.  Isn't that living in the past?  Now I'm not arguing that you shouldn't bathe daily.  I am saying that much of your life is based on your history.  We have determined that these habits, which make up most of our daily lives, are good enough.  Are they?  Think about it.  Wha

4 More Days Until 2018

Time seems to be going faster and faster.  It isn't.  But I do have a theory about this.  It seems fast because the end is getting nearer. Thinking about one's own mortality is a bit - well morbid.  But it doesn't have to be. There is an exercise, which I have done, which can help you determine how you want your future to turn out.  Write your own obituary.  You don't have to keep it or leave it in your will.  (Even though I do know someone who did.)  Here are a few rules you can use to guide your way. #1 - You can write whatever you want.  You're the only one reading it. #2 - Answer this question.  What do you want to be remembered for? #3 - Grammer, spelling punctuation don't count.  Unelss yo'ure jsut OCE taht way. Job 14:5   Our time on earth is brief; the number of our days is already decided by you. One of the neat things about being a follower of Jesus is that there is a beginning and an end to everything.  There was creation, and there wi

5 More Days Until 2018

Well, Christmas is over.  What's next? That's a great question.  There are two times each year that people embrace change.  But the first of the year seems to be the one where we determine to do something to improve the quality of our lives. We decide to get healthy.  Lose weight.  Quit smoking.  Go to church more.  Spend more time with our family. We also know that somewhere between 80 - 92% of all new years resolutions fail by Feb. 1.   That's not very good.  So how do you change? Luke 6:43-45 For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Jesus makes it clear.  You're never going to get apples from orange trees.  So

Christmas Crash, But It's Not Over

The presents were opened in a flash.  The dinner was consumed with passion.  The dirty dishes seemed to go on forever.  Christmas day has passed. If you're like me, there was a crash.  It could be from that shopping.  Eating all those carbs or just plain exhaustion.  But it probably happened.  A long winters nap. Tomorrow is a new day Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Eventually, the trees will come down.  The lights will be turned off.  Thoughts of Valentines Day will confront us soon.  But one thing is for sure.  God will be greater tomorrow than He is today.  Our finite minds tend to think in terms of high and low, ups and downs.  We can recall some of the greatest moments in our lives and say to ourselves, "It has never been better than that."  But not so with God.  His grace and mercy as new every day.  In other words, He just

Not A Creature Was Stirring

It's all quite this morning at the church.  Christmas Eve doesn't fall on Sunday very often.  But when it does it is quite a day. Before all the people show up and the Christmas joy beings to ring through the air, I thought I would sit down and wish you a Merry Christmas. Luke 2:11 - 14   11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” I want to thank you for following me each morning (well the mornings I didn't forget to blog).  It has been a challenge some days to write, but other days the words seem to flow off the ends of my fingers.    So what is my thought for this day? STOP. Stop and appreciate all that is around you. Stop

Christmas Eve Eve

On the day before Christmas Eve, (of if you are reading this on Christmas Eve) the final touches for the big day become paramount. Did you get a gift for your nephew? Did you buy the eggnog your grandmother loves so much? Did you wrap all the gifts, or did you hide some and forget where you put them? It is as if you are about to go out on stage in a few moments.  The curtain is about to rise, and the show must go on.  All you want is for everyone to be happy and satisfied.  You want them to walk away talking about the great experience they had.  The exquisite flavor of the hot cocoa.  The smells of Christmas still clinging to their clothes.  The laughter shared together. Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Much of what we do during the holidays is based on the traditions handed down to us from our parents and grandparents.  I remember the first time someone told me about the Christmas pickle.  Google it. I r

Christmas Dazed and Confused

I had to go out and do some shopping this afternoon.  I had to.  I didn't want to.  It was a necessity. I saw some people that I knew.  Some I hadn't seen in years.  That was a pleasant surprise. I watched as some people shopped with the determination of a pit bull on a t-bone steak.  They knew what they wanted, and they were going to get it.  But they were not the majority.  Most people were just wandering around with this, "What am I doing here?" look on their face. I watched as one lady stood in an aisle at Wal-Mart trying to decide between choice A and choice B.  She just couldn't decide.  So she chose neither. As I was standing in the check out line, I hear someone say.  "Why do we have all this stuff?" Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. What is the purpose of your life?  To walk around Wal-Mart or Home Depot dazed and confused?

Christmas Depression

As a famous Christan psychologist told me one time,  "Depression is the common cold of mental illness.  Everyone gets depressed." Those words were music to my ears many years ago.  I thought because I was depressed, that there was something wrong with me.  As it turns out, I was normal. To the person who is reading this blog, if you are having feelings of general sadness, loneliness, or grief it is part of being human.  If those feelings linger on too long or begin to manifest in more harmful ways and thoughts, then get help - fast! Conventional thinking led us to believe that the holidays saw to more suicides than any other time of the year.  The suicide rate goes up during the spring and summer months.  December is the fourth happiest month of the year (May being #1), and Christmas is the happiest day of the year. So, why are you depressed during the holidays? #1 - It's all about you.  Read my previous blog.  If you feel that you are entitled to something,

Christmas Entitlement

There is something that we see every year.  Entitlement.  People who think that they deserve whatever they ask for. Now usually we see this in kids.  In fact, I did a quick Google of this very thing and found some articles on how to deal with it.  But I want to focus on someone else.  Adults. What do you do when adults feel entitled to whatever they ask for? When you see it and hear it, it makes you feel uncomfortable.  A grown adult throwing a child-like temper tantrum.  The difference is, they don't use child-like language or make child-like threats like, "I'm don't like you anymore!"  Instead, you hear.  "I'm going to take you to court!" You have to know the difference between what is a right and what is a privilege. But as a follower of Jesus, you need to know the difference between what you deserve and what is grace. Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yours

A Long Winter’s Nap

“Twas The Night Before Christmas,” was written in the early 19th century. The poem is attributed to both Clement Clarke Moore and Henry Livingston Jr. It was first published on Dec. 23, 1823, in the Troy Sentinel newspaper. Even as a kid I was always intrigued by this poem.  It wasn't until years later that it gave birth to the whole Santa Claus craze.  (Thank you Coca-Cola.)  There was one phrase in the poem that always caught my attention.  Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap. How do you settle your brain?  Now as a kid I would always be too anxious to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Eventually, I would nod off and awaken Christmas morning to a few extra presents from, "Santa."  One year Santa brought me underwear.  I turned and asked my parents if I had done something wrong to deserve that.   Proverbs 16:32 (CEV) Controlling your temper is better than being a hero who captures a city. The holidays can be summed up in one word.  GO!  Go, go, go,

The Challenges of Christmas

Dance week is over, and I feel like it.   Ouch!  Betty and I look like we've been hit by a truck!  Oh, it was worth it to see our daughter, along with all of the other dancers, perform on stage.  My car is full of glitter and fake snow.  I probably took around 10 - 12,000 photos.  But, I made some new friends, reconnect with some old ones and all in all, I had a good time. I can't say that about everyone else. Haters are hating. Complainers are complaining. The ungrateful are taking advantage of others, and the list goes on. It doesn't surprise me that we notice such things during the holidays.  When we, as a culture, are at our pinnacle of giving, we see the obvious "Scrooges" among us. Deuteronomy 15:10  You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. It takes a lot of work to keep Christmas pleasant.  If you

It Finally Happened!

I blew it.  I didn't blog yesterday.  I had a inkling this might happen.  As you know, if you read my last post, that this is dance week.  Yesterday was the kids show.  Then the first Nutcracker performance that night.  How did I get through it?  Coffee was by best friend.  What am I saying?  Coffee is always my best friend. So what does missing a blog post have to do with todays devotion? Romans 8:1 "now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" II Corinthians 5:17 "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" Do not condem yourself if you have receive God's grace and forgivness.  If you have sinned, then submit it to God.  But don't go around condeming yourself for every detail of your life that isn't "just perfect." Here is something else you can do that will help.  Stop focusing on your failures and look around for the small gifts that God is giving yo

Dance Week Is Almost Over

All the rehearsals are done.  Two Nutcracker performances are finished.  Three more shows to go. Community and family are a beautiful thing.  I get to experience the holidays with my family, my church and my extended family at the Dance Academy. That's why it is so important to treat our families and our extended families right during this time of the year.  While it doesn't appear that there is an increase in family fighting during the holidays, we apparently don't forget them for a long time. As a kid, I can remember one family fight between my dad and a family friend at the Thanksgiving table.  To be fair, the family friend didn't have a clue.  Even I knew the correct answer to the question.  However, my dad couldn't let it go until the family friend conceded that he was wrong.  That never happened.  I never ate my turkey and dressing so fast.  I was sitting in the middle of the fight.  Fortunately for me, the mashed potatoes never did fly.  Thankfully, t

Christmas Challenges

My day started at 8:15 am when I arrived at the High School for my daughters 2nd Nutcracker performance.   Finished by 12 noon and off to lunch.  Then I was informed by my daughter that we will need to pick up her friend at said High School at 2:45 pm.  That would be in 45 minutes.   But we cannot go back for the 5:30 pm rehearsal for another 45 minutes.  45 minutes pass at Dunkin Donuts drinking coffee.  It’s cold outside. Brrrrr Back to the High School where upon arrival my daughter informs me that she forgot 2 costumes back at the church.  WHAT?  Then my wife informs me that she needs something printed off her computer.  Ahhhhhhh!   Drive there, drive back.  Get ready to take pictures of my daughters dance rehearsal practice.   Hope to be home by 10 pm.   I want off at the next exit. 1 Cor. 14:33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.  How to keep Christmas challenges from ruining your day.  #1 Don’t let the, “surprises” ruin your

Christmas Changed Everything

You and I live in a world where we work hard to keep everything balanced and even-keeled. If we can keep everything the same (or close to thereof), we'll do it.  Chaos isn't our friend and when schedules get confused, and you end up having to be in two places at once - nerves get fried. Here is another thought you might want to consider.  What if God doesn't respect our efforts to keep everything the same?  Could it be possible that our efforts to control our lives is nothing more than a futile form of idolatry? Consider the words of Jesus.  Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. Do you think that #1 He was just talking to the disciples or #2 He was talking to you? - Answer: #1 and #2. Think about Christmas - Mary and Joseph were planning a beautiful and quite life together. - The Shepherds went to sleep thinking they would wake up to anoth

Christmas Behaving Badly

It's no surprise to any of us that we hear more horns honking, see more one-finger salutes, hear more yelling and endure more grumpy people during the holiday season.  Makes one think about saying, "Bah Humbug!"  During this month we will see a spike in alcohol sales.  Again, no surprise we will see a spike in drunk driver convictions.  During this month we will see a surge in visits to the divorce lawyer.  January has more divorces than any other month of the year.   Romans 12:9 - 13 9 Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10 Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. 11 Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12 Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13 Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home. I read this passage this morning and thought, "Wow!  If w

Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels we have heard on high Sweetly, sweetly through the night And the mountains in reply Echoing their brief delight Gloria, in excelsis Deo Written in 1862 by James Chadwick, a Roman Catholic Bishop in northeast England.  Obviously it is inspired by Luke chapter 2 where the Angels visit the Shepherds.   Lk 2:12 - 14 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Humility meets majesty.  When you look for Christ, what do you see?  Do you see a humble Savior who came to this earth as one of us?  Do you see a majestic King who rules and reigns over all?  He was worshipped by humble Shepherds.  He was also worshipped by majestic Wisemen.  He lived as a humble carpenter.  He transformed before Peter, James and John into all of His glory.

Stop and Think! Please!!!

Ever had anyone like a parent or a friend say that to you?  "Stop and think"  It usually is indicative of a moment when you're about to do something you'll regret. The reason why we tend to do, "stupid" things is simple.  We feel before we think.  When we react out of emotion, we often leave reason out of our decision. Today was a day that required me to stop and think - a lot!  Not that there was anything different or unusual about the day, there wasn't.  But it needed me to check my emotions and think through my words carefully. To give you an example of what I am saying here tonight.  I have probably retyped each sentence you are reading at least three times.  I don't know what these to be my words.  I want them to be the words of encouragement from the Holy Spirit. I am painfully aware of this verse today. Matthew 6:10   Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray.

Winter Has Arrived!

It was warm this morning. Then it rained. Now it is cold! It is getting colder!!! Only in Florida will you hear thunder in the morning and be turning on the heat by nightfall. Winter has arrived. For those of you who live north of me, you have spring, summer, fall, and winter. For those of us who live in Florida, we have hot, hurricane, snowbird and spring. But this got me to thinking, how many more winters do I have? Psalm 103:15-16 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. I'm 54.  My mom is 83.  My grandfather died at 98.  His brother and sisters lived to be older.  So it is conceivable I've got a few more winters left in me.  But I don't have that many left with my daughter who will leave home in a few years.  I have fewer as a pastor than I did. Now stop yourself before you get depressed.  I had to. Ephesians 5:16   m

Christmas Chaos

I was talking to my friend from Germany.  He just learned that his dad had a heart attack.  Dad lives here in the states. Another friend of mine had a water leak in her house.  Nobody likes that. Another friend of mine has come down with some kind of plague.  In her own words, "I've never been this sick - ever." Life doesn't stop for anyone or anything.  All of us know that.  But when you are in a special season, like Christmas, it makes it just that much harder. Matthew 1:18 - 23   18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is co

Christmas Traditions

What traditions do you have around this time of the year? At my house, we open presents after our Christmas Eve service, which ends at midnight.  So it is Christmas Day.  We also get to sleep in too. Over the years I have seen a number of Christmas traditions.  Going to Disney World on Christmas Day.  Being at Grandmas house or cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving and a ham for Christmas.  Enjoying your aunts' favorite dessert or your mothers' green bean casserole dish.  Real vs. fake Christmas trees. But why do you do these things?  I suspect that if you were to ask a few questions you would discover the, "why" behind each tradition.  Usually, there is history that goes with the tradition.  You may not know what it is. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is fo

The Nutcracker, Was A Flop

Ever since my daughter started dancing, 11 years ago, every Christmas has included The Nutcracker. If you don't know, the Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, initially presented in 1892 at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote the music (which you have heard over and over). The first performance of The Nutcracker was not a success. The dancers themselves were uncertain. The critics ran the gamut from high praise to calling it amateurish. While Tchaikovsky's score received high praise the ballet itself was never really heard from again until the 1960's. That's 70 some odd years!  Could you wait 70 years for success?  Ps 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Watching someone else receive what you want, can tempt you to covet.  (That's a sin.)  We ask God, "When God, when?"  Which is usually followe

And The Best Is Yet To Come

Well, it finally happened.  I forgot to blog yesterday. Talk about embarrassing.  I'm working with some deadlines and simply let myself get overwhelmed.  Today I have eliminated a few of them so life should return to normal.  Whatever that is. 1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him" Here Paul is quoting Ps. 31:19. But you need to read the next verse, 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  So, God does have great things prepared for us.  Now and for eternity.  How do we know?  Because the Holy Spirit reveals them to us.   When hope is nothing more than a fading ember.  When you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.  When hell is doing, it's best to drown you in depression and discouragement.  Know that God has something better for you.  But it requires two th

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Andy Williams sang this song for the first time in 1963.  Now it is considered to be one of the top 10 Christmas songs of all time. But someone told me the other day that they just hate that song.  "It isn't the most wonderful time of the year.  I don't care what anyone says!"  I looked to see if there was any family resemblance with Mr. Scrooge or The Grinch.  There wasn't, but still. This morning in Life Group we read Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, That means that Jesus arrived at a perfect time in history.  His arrival wasn't random or chance.  God knew the right time and place to bring His Son into this world. God's timing in your life may not be convenient.  But it will always be perfect.  We have to trust Him.  He knows what He is doing and He knows how to do it.  True, this holiday season may not be the best one ever - it may not be the worst one either.  But

I Forgot To Tell You

Apparently, marketers are not going to try to sell me stuff anymore.   Somewhere around 53 or 54 marketers quit creating ads that you would be interested in.  It has been determined that by this age you can no longer be swayed to buy someone’s product.  That you have decided which brands you’re going to use and you will not change your mind.   If you are older than me, I’m 54, and ever wondered why you don’t understand commercials anymore, that’s why.  They are not trying.  Then again they haven’t been able to get to me for a long time.  Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Being conformed like being poured into a mold. You have to dress like everyone else, talk like everyone else, listen to the most popular music, and basically do what you’re told.  Doesn’t sound like much of a life if you ask me. God created you t

I’m Dreaming Of A ...

... well it isn’t a white Christmas. Everything then depends on God's mercy and not on what people want or do.  ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:16‬ ‭CEVUS06‬‬ Everyone has a dream. Some people have a dream about their future, their career, their relationships, and even their life.   Dreams can be very powerful. They can motivate every moment of our day or even strike fear in our hearts. That’s why we must be careful what we pursue in life. We might just get it. I knew a man  Who didn’t like people. That isn’t to say he didn’t want to be around them he just wanted them to do what he asked. When they would disagree failed to comply to his standards, he would lose his temper.  He didn’t trust anyone. He didn’t trust this doctor, his wife, his pastor, or his family. Eventually, he ended up old and alone.   But here’s the deal, that’s what he wanted. It was his dream. Paul tells us in the book of Romans and everything depends on God‘s mercy. That includes our dreams, and our desires.   God’s favo