Showing posts from August, 2018

God is Committed To Your Success

But what is a success? For most people is involved, money, influence, status and how many followers you have on Instagram.  (Yea, that last one is real.) But what is "success" according to God? Genesis 39:2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. To get everyone up to speed, Joseph was abducted by his brothers and sold into slavery. (Yes, they had family problems.)  As a slave, he is sold to an Egyptian named Potifer.  God calls him successful. So what is "success"? Obey - John 14:15  If you love me, you will keep my commandments.   Obedience comes from a heart of submission and humility.  Both are big keys to your success. Friendship - John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.   You have a relationship with your doctor or with y

God Is Your Biggest Fan

Today's blog - God is Your Biggest Fan.  Tomorrows, God is Committed To Your Success and Fridays blog, Fear Is Always Bigger . . .  were suggested to me by a couple of people sitting in my office last night.  So I thought, why not? God is Your Biggest Fan.   Psalm 17:8   Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, Is God your encourager?  Do you let Him lift you up?  Do you allow God to pour Himself into you? Think about it.  All through the Bible, we read how He takes the weak and makes them strong. He transforms hopeless lives by the power of His love and the Holy Spirit.  Psalms 51:17 says, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. His love heals, and His promises never fail.  He reverses our fear with His courage and empowers you to do what He created you to do.   The idea that God is up in heaven waiting to punish you for your next mistake isn't only demeaning but po

How to Hear The Will of God

John 10:27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. How do you hear the voice of the shepherd?  Someone just asked me this question so here is my answer.   Know that God does want to talk to you.  Most people don't believe that they are worthy of hearing God.  Yes, you are worthy.  Embrace the big picture.  If you are looking for details, stop.  Accepting what God is offering to you at the moment is more important.  This is an act of faith.  It is more about the journey than the destination.  God never travels in a straight line.  If have to trust where He is leading you in the moment.   Prayer and fasting have an incredible impact on the inner man.  If you want God to get serious, get serious first.  Be still and know that He is God.  Don't push yourself too hard.  It really isn't as hard as you think.   Don't take a limited attitude toward what God may say.  If you have already decided to reject something God may say, t

Another Pastor Commits Suicide

Yes, this is a long blog.  No, there is no key verse for the day.  Yes, you are going to pray.  Another pastor has committed suicide. Inland Hills Church in Chino, California, is now grappling with grief after their lead pastor, Andrew Stoecklein, succumbed to self-inflicted injuries. He was 30. This isn't the first time I have ever written about a pastor committing suicide, but I wish it would be the last.  Depression in the ministry is real.  As one pastor put it, "I have felt the cold winds of depression sweep over my soul."  I have, and many others have too.   Whether you are in ministry or not, here are a few things you need to need to you. You cannot preach yourself out of depression.   You cannot just, "do it on your own."  Depression is the common cold of mental illness.  But if you have been depressed over a few weeks, then you need to assemble a team of people who will be dedicated to helping you out.  You will need professionals, family,

What A Day!

Ever been in a church service where God took over?  Well that’s what happened this morning in church. It reminded me of the stories from early Pentecostal churches how God would move. Worship was heartfelt and powerful. God spoke through a Word of Knowledge. We as a church had a season of repentance. There was honest confession. (No, not of sin.  But of life and struggle.) There was love and encouragement for one another. We received communion. Ephesians 5:18-21 says, “Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” When we follow the Holy Spirit there are two truths He will lead you to.  Jesus first and people first.  It is very simple.  When you put Chirst first you will automatically make people a priority.  Your relationship with Him demands

Why Do We Burnout?

Burnout is a physical or emotional collapse usually caused by stress. None of us are strangers to burnout.  The exhaustion that you wake up with.  The dread you feel inside when someone knocks on your office door.  You're tapped out and now in physical and/or emotional debt to yourself. I was listening to the radio on my way into the office today and heard something that didn't surprise me.  Doctors are prescribing recess for children.  That's right, prescription recess.  Kids need time to decompress from the work and stress of school.  It's no wonder if you haven't picked your career by middle school, the chances of you achieving a great career are severely diminished.  You can't make this stuff up. “Everyone strives for excellence together and accomplishes great things together. If you have accountability without love, you won't have real commitment, buy-in, loyalty, passion, or great teamwork. You'll be more like a dysfunctional family that fi

The Devil Is Going to Do What The Devil Is Going to Do.

John 10:10   The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. What contrasting mission statements.  One is wholeheartedly negative and destructive.  The other equally positive and filled with hope.  I've been studying the book of Acts for some time now, and it always amazes me how Paul and his companions would face a new city a new mission field with faith and persistence. Acts 17  - Paul and Silas in Berea 10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there t

Our Father Who Art In Heaven

JOKE: A man dies and goes to heaven. There he meets Saint Peter who says, "Welcome, before you can enter, you have to answer a question." The man says, "Go ahead." Saint Peter asks. "What is God's name?" Without hesitation, the man says, "Oh, that's an easy one. Harold!" Confused, Saint Peter asks, "How did you come to that conclusion?" Well, the Bible says, "Our Father, who art in heaven, Howard be thy name..." (Yes, it is a stupid joke, but's it's ok to laugh.) Now on to the serious stuff. I was thinking about the Lord's Prayer a couple of days ago. Matthew 6:9-13  9 Pray then like this:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the

Today Is My Daughters 15th Birthday

You can trust the floor, it will always catch you. Today is my daughters 15th birthday. (Yesterday if you are reading this via email.) I have to say, these have been 15 wonderful years.  I have enjoyed every moment of them.  I never have nor will I ever regret being her father.  She is growing up to be a wonderful young lady (she will be blushing as she reads this about now) and I know that she is going to make it. How do I know that? As you may know, my daughter is a dancer.  This will make her 12th year.  And there is one thing that she says over and over again. "You can trust the floor, it will always catch you." Dancers fall, a lot!  Gravity always seems to meddle with their skills.  I've seen dancers quit because they didn't like to fall.  I've seen dancers rant and rail at the floor because it really, really hurts.  I've seen dancers, "play it safe" so they wouldn't fall.   I've never seen Anneka do any of the above.  

Attitude Is Everything

Right now I am sitting in a public meeting about street development.  And people say church is boring?  Ha! As I sit here I can hear the conversations and comments being made.  A few people talking about their kids and what they did this weekend.  A few talking shop and many complaining about the changes being purposed. Attitudes run all over the place, from good to bad.  So what do I do? 1 Pet 3:13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? Listen first talk later.  Many bad attitudes are defeated through listening not debate. Listen to facts not feelings.  We will get to feelings in a moment.  But find out what is happening.  Make sure you understand clearly. Acknowledge feelings with value, but you our not required the own them.  Not all attitudes are good so guard your heart. PRAY:  Dear Jesus, send the Holy Spirit to guard my heart.  AMEN

Be Still And Know I Am God

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. . . " This whole, "be still" thing has been a problem for me.  I can't sit still.  I have to be doing something all the time.  Call it A.D.H.D. or whatever; I just don't like to be still. Then God says, "Russ!  Sit still!"  I remember my mom saying the same thing, and I remember what happened to me when I didn't.  So when God says it, I force myself to sit down and shut up. God is a God or an organization.  He created the world in 6 days.  Look at His creation, and you will discover that He is a God or order. But God is a God who works organically.  Like grass growing or seasons change, it just happens. Naturally, I cannot sit around and watch grass grow.  ( I shudder at the thought. ) But every couple of weeks I notice that it needs to be mowed.  The process is happening naturally. When God speaks a particular word into your life, you know it.  It is clear and distinctive.  After that, He lea

Oh What A Beautiful Morning!

Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I've got a beautiful feeling, everything's goin my way. It's a line from the musical, Oklahoma.  (The only musical I ever attended as a kid.) From time to time I'll just sing that one line.  No reason, I just like it. One day I sang that line and received an unusual response from someone at the other end of the church.  "Oh Shut Up!"  It wasn't that I was off-key, I am a pretty good singer.  They didn't like the message I was sending.  I tracked them down only to be met with a very sour face and, "how can you be so happy" look.  I asked, "Is there anything wrong?" (I know, dangerous question.) Which they answered.  For 25 minutes. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these t

I Almost Forgot To Blog

It’s 10:50 pm and I’m sitting here on my couch, with my iPad, blogging. So sorry about the typos. But how did I get here? I prayed. Earlier today, as I was getting ready to blog, someone walked into my office. We engaged in an exciting and productive conversation. Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. So how did my prayer turn into a conversation.  Moments before I had given God a brief but significant earful.  I was a little frustrated to say the least.  So my friend walks in and asks, “How’s things going?” I told them exactly what I was thinking.  Their response was, “You know I’ve been thinking that too.”   God in His providence knew the right time and place for us to tackle this problem. Together we were able to do something that we couldn’t on our own.  What did I learn? I can worship God from a broken place in my life. I can give God an “earfull” without losing faith or being disrespectful. I can discover answers to my questions with th

Whose On Your Heart?

Galatians 6:2  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. I met someone the other day who is going through a tough time.  Now, to be honest, I've reached some people this week who would qualify as going through a tough time.  But all of a sudden, as I was sitting here at my desk, that specific person came to mind, and I had to pray for them.   When I say, "I had to pray for them." I mean I couldn't do another thing until I had prayed for them.  Why?  I don't know.  Are they in trouble?  I have no idea.  All I know is, I had to pray.   There are times that the Holy Spirit will just, "lock you up" from doing anything until you have prayed for someone.  It is in these moments that God needs the faith of someone to do something on someone's behalf.  No, we don't need to know the specifics.  We need to obey.   Now, this has never happened to you.  That's easy to fix.  Just ask God for someone to pray for.  T

All Men Are Created Equal

This is true.  God created everyone equal. But that doesn't mean everyone is going to be the same. Jesus said in Mark 14 that the poor would always be with us. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that some would not believe in Him. Jesus said in Matthew 5 that some people would be lazy. But everyone does that the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  Everyone has the chance to repent of their sins, turn from the sinful ways and allow Him to intercede in their lives. 2 Chron. 7: 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. This is why everything to everyone can be the same.  It's impossible.  Each and every one of us is unique.  We have unique talents, problems, skills, personalities, and needs.  Society, science, government, or even the church can meet all these needs.  Only one person can, and that is Jesu

First Day

Today is the first day of dance classes at the Academy. Today is the first day for my wife's new work schedule. Today is the first day for my daughter's dance schedule. This means that my life is going to change.  But how? The way I decide that it is going to change.  (Insert your laughter here.) Now I know why you are laughing and you're right.  I'm not in total control of everything.  But's that's ok.  Being in control isn't the goal. Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. First of all, God is in control.  He knows what's going to happen in my life before I know.  He has already prepared me for my future. Secondly, God is my provider.  When I recognize God as my source for all things that me and my family needs - it helps relieve a lot of stress. Thirdly, God is my purpose.  Why am I driving my daughter to dance lessons or my wife to work?  Why am I on the phone coach

Insert Interesting Blog Title Here

So, Betty, Bianca, Eric, Deana, Tome and I were sitting around a table. With Anneka (my daughter, if you don't know). She's back from her 3-week ballet intensive which was in Washington DC. Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. We listened to her stories from DC.  She listened to our stories about life in Florida without her.  It was fun!  We laughed.  We ate ice cream.  We had a great time.   What's my point?   Sometimes you need to sit down with some friends and eat ice cream, or whatever favorite dessert you like to indulge in from time to time.   There is something beautiful, healing, rejuvenating and relaxing about spending time with friends doing, well, nothing significant.   When was the last time that you just had some fun fellowship?  When was the last time you shared your life with people who genuinely cared about you?  When was the last time that you listened to someone's life with genuine

Do Unto Others

So this is part of my sermon tomorrow. Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. This verse is known as the Golden Rule.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Now Jesus said this while He on this earth.  But remember He also sets the example.  In other words, He treated others the way He wanted to be treated.   Let's be honest here.  Jesus treats us better than we deserve.  (Thank Him for His grace.)  In our sin, we betrayed Him, sinned against Him, mocked Him and marginalized Him.  We deserve hell, but He offers us heaven.  We deserve to pay for our sins, but He pays the price for us.  We deserve to be abandoned and left to our own devices, but He leads us and provides for us.   But back to the Golden Rule.  If we appreciate how Jesus treats us, shouldn't we treat others the same way?  I know - OUCH!  But think of it this way.  If you want Jesus to give you His best -


Got home last night to discover that my AC had died.  It's 8 pm, and it's 90 degrees.  Not good.  Loaded up what I needed and spent the night at a local hotel.   This morning, call the AC guy.  He comes out and says, "This isn't good."  Found the problem, don't have the part, will get it up and running, for now, see you next week.  After a couple of hours outside and up in the attic, we were cooked.  Well, at least it's up and running for now.   Get a text message that isn't good news.  That really bothered me.   Had a great conversation that left me exhausted.  You know what I am talking about.   I was done.   I took a nap.  I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me. Psalm 3:5 People take naps all the time.  Some people take power naps.  Some people drink a cup of coffee and take a nap.  When they wake up the caffeine gives them a jolt.  Some CEO's take schedule naps on days when their schedule goes lo

When You See Your Judas

When did Jesus know that Judas was going to betray Him?  We don't know.  The Bible doesn't tell us. But we do know that by the last supper, Jesus knows. So what did Jesus do?  Nothing.  Well, it probably isn't the nothing that you're thinking of. Jesus had already invested 3 1/2 years of His life and love into Him. Jesus had already taught Him the promises and truths of God. Judas has seen the miracles, the healings and the beautiful works of God. Judas had been a recipient of Jesus' grace, power, and mercy. Still, Judas betrayed Him. Judas already had everything he needed to stand against the temptation.  But his selfishness won the day.  If Judas wasn't going to stop now, anything that Jesus said or did probably wasn't going to change anything. BUT! Jesus knew that He was coming back from the dead. Jesus knew that Judas' betrayal wasn't going to kill His ministry. Jesus knew that He was going to die on the cross for Judas'

When God Interrupts - Pt. 2

I wasn't going to write about this today, but then this happened. If you don't know, our area has become a toxic algae zone.  You can watch a great video about it here at the Weather Channel. So we changed the church sign to read, "Our Treasure Coast is now the Toxic Coast." A news station called. So for an hour or so I did an interview and shot some video footage for their 5 pm broadcast. For those of you who do not live in this area, the negative impact to the economy is vast.  It is causing numerous breathing problems for some (believe me the stench is nauseating).  It is having a ripple effect through the community. I wondered what I could do, through a news interview, to help serve my city and community. 1 Peter 4:10  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: I told the truth.   I told them how things use to be here when I arrived in 1995.   I told them how this problem has bee

I'm OK!

So my daughter was dancing today.  She was doing a new combination and THUD!  The floor happens.  She did a whole body slam.  Nice bruise. So what can you learn from this? Don't stay down. Get up and say, "I'm OK." Well, that's what my daughter does.  But here's her secret.  SHE REALLY MEANS IT! Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Perseverance is tough.  But you're going to need it.  It isn't easy or even safe to place your faith in Christ.  But it is necessary when you face challenges that you cannot conquer.  When you fall down, you will get up!  Did it hurt?  Sure it did! Was it humbling?  Probably.  But get up!  Don't stay down!  Or you'll lose out on the next great thing that God has in store for you.   PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I want to persevere tod

When God Interrupts

So my plan was simple.  Drop Betty off at work for a couple of hours.  Go to the office and get some work done.  Pick up Betty for lunch and enjoy the rest of the day. That didn't happen. Dropped Betty off and discover that she was only going to be there for about an hour.  By the time I arrived at the office and got set up - it would be time for me to go back and pick her up.  So I decided to stay. 1 1/2 hours in all chaos ensues, and Betty is overwhelmed with phone calls and customers.  So I jumped in to offer a little help.  This "rush" ended around 2:15 and we were both exhausted. Now I am not griping.  Really!  I was so glad that I was there to help.  I didn't get a little, "hungry" (hungry + angry) but a quick lunch fixed that.  As I was thinking about how my plans were dashed for the day the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, "I knew that was going to happen, that's why I wanted you there." Remember my blog the other day a

Change Happens.

It's the first day of August. It's tax-free weekend for school clothes and supplies. People are going on their last minute vacation trips. Kids are moving to college. August can be a nightmare for pastors.  I had a conversation with a pastor today, who just moved to the area, and he picked up on the fact that a lot of changes take place in August.  Why?  School is starting soon! What do you do when change challenges you? Ecclesiastes 3:1  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Understand stress.  Stress is a symptom you feel from all the change that is going on right now.  Be patient this will pass.  Don't stress over the stress.   Budget time and money.  Many decisions are made during this time of the year that have a profound impact on your time and money.  Prioritize each and stick to the budget.   New isn't bad.   Maybe your kids are changing schools. Perhaps they decided to switch from soccer to cheerleading.  Wha

Mission Impossible

What is your impossible circumstance? Women With The Issue Of Blood - Lk 8:43 - 48 Unless Jesus did a healing work in her body, her hope was gone.  Peter In Prison - Acts 12:3–19 King Herod has recently killed the James, and it is rather certain that Peter is next.  Paul and Silas in Prison - Acts 16:25 - 34 They are in an impossible situation with no way out.    John on the Isle of Patmos - Rev. 1 John, in his old age, is exiled to a rock.  He is left for dead.  BUT Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood.  Angels released Peter from prison, thus saving his life.  An earthquake set Paul and Silas free resulting in the salvation of the warden and his family.  John lived through Patmos and was soon released.   So what do you see each of these people doing that you can do?  The woman's faith persevered to push through.  Peter trusted that Jesus would care for him.  He was asleep when the angel awakened him.  Paul and Silas wer

Keep It Upbeat

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18   Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. So the comment was, "They are angry because there is no peace." I don't know about you, but that strikes me as an odd statement. Paul tells the church in Thessaloniki the key to being positive. First of all, rejoice - always.  This is harder than it looks.  There are plenty of reasons during the course of our day to give thanks to God.  There are also situations that we must face that cause pain and heartache.  How can you rejoice?  Your faith can look forward to what God is going to do.  He will keep His promises through your trials. Pray without ceasing.  Sounds weird, I know.  But Paul is teaching that everyone should remain in an attitude of prayer.  Stay connected to Christ at all times.  Prayer isn't just you talking to God, it's you listening to Him too.  During the day God will speak into your h

How Many Angels Can Sit On The Head Of A Pin? - Part 2

Exactly one year ago today I wrote a blog with this title.  365 days later my answer to the question is still the same.   I don't care. I remember some of my profs at Bible College telling me how some people would get caught up in some of the craziest, pointless conversations about faith.  Yes, there were arguments about how many angels could sit on the head of a pin. Matthew 23:23  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." Ever heard the saying, "Keep the main thing the main thing?" or "Don't major on minors?"  Jesus is chewing out these religious elitists for missing the whole point about their faith.  While they were faithful to give a tenth of the spices they raised in their garden, they ignored how people were treating each other.   So how do