Showing posts from September, 2018

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Have you ever had to make a decision, but was undecided?  We all have.  Have you ever made a decision and later regretted it?  Yes.  Did you ever miss a great opportunity because you waited too long to make a decision?  Probably. So how can you make good/timely decisions in your life? First of all, determine how important this decision is.  No, really is it THAT important.  I've agonized over some decisions that in the end made me say, "Why did I stress out over this?" Secondly, made decisions with good disciplines or habits.  Should you have the cheeseburger or the nachos?  Probably neither.  If you don't have good disciplines or habits to guide your way, you'll make bad decisions. Thirdly, what is at stake?  The higher the stakes, the more you should pursue Godly wisdom.  "Should I wear my white sneakers or my green ones?"  This does not require prayer and fasting.  "Should I quit my job and move across the country?'  Probably should

What Really Matters

As I sit here in my office writing, our cat - Latte - is sitting in a chair near me.  He isn't feeling good at all.  He has a virus.  Now the short story is that we have had him for 10 years and he's like no other cat we have ever owned.  We've taken him to the vet and called her a couple of times just to keep her informed.  But it is a virus and like all virus' you've got to live through it. Now in this situation, it is a cat.  But it could be a child.  Your marriage could be on the rocks.  You're looking down the barrel of bankruptcy.  You've been fired from your job.  There are these things that happen in life that get our total attention and demand our time and effort. But what do you give your attention too?  Do you give your attention to the problem?  Or do you give your attention to the solution? The Israelites gave their attention to the giant problem they had in the promise land and ended up wandering in the desert for 40 years. Nehemiah r

I'm Still Not Happy

In follow up to my last blog.  I wanted to share with you something that as a Pastor I've had to deal with one to many times. "I'm not happy and I'm going to do something about it." If you are a pastor or a leader I have one piece of advice for you. DUCK! I find that people who take it upon themselves to, "fix" their happiness will take the, "ends justify the means" approach to finding their happiness.  Unfortunately, they will most likely cause you a lot of unhappiness. In Genesis 25 we read how Rachel manipulated her husband and #1 son, Esau, in order to get her husbands best blessing for #2 son Jacob.  It worked, but the repercussions were not pleasant.  Esau pledged to murder Jacob and I get the feeling that Rachel had to sleep in a different tent for a while. There are a few things to consider here. If you're not happy, it's you're choice.  I'm not saying that every situation in your life requires you to respo

I'm Not Happy

Every heard anyone say that?  "I'm not happy." Well, I have.  My daughter has said it,  My wife has said it.  My friends have said it.  People in my church have said it.  My enemies have said it.  In fact, I can't think of anyone who hasn't. Including myself. What is happiness?  According to Mr. Webster. "...feeling or showing pleasure or contentment." I'm happy after eating a slice of my mom's German Chocolate Cake I'm happy after enjoying time with my family. I'm happy when someone reaches a life goal they have worked hard for. But happiness can be a form of idolatry if you are not careful. People will say, "You should be happy!"  Like it is a right.  It isn't.  It is a choice.  But how you make your choices says a lot about what who you worship and why.  Do you know anyone who goes out of their way to be happy?  They spend until they are happy.  They control others until they are happy.  They have a life

A Better You or A Better Life

This morning, during communion, I said something to the effect, "Jesus died on the cross to make you better, not to make your life better (more comfortable)." If there is anything that we know it is that being a follower of Jesus isn't necessarily safe or comfortable. Paul was beaten. Abraham lived in a tent. David was chased all over Israel. Moses had to wander in the desert for 40 years. We remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. But we also remember the fact that His tomb is empty. We remember the stripes on His back. But we rejoice in the fact that His promises are dependable and reliable. We celebrate the fact that there is hope.  We celebrate the fact that Jesus is our hope. John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life

When It All Pays Off

Philippians 2:3  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Leadership, serving, ministry, teaching and giving all come from the same place.  Humility.   I'm not talking about being humiliated.  I've done enough of that in my life.  Being humble is entirely different.  To realize that you are not the center of the universe and thus treat others accordingly.  To give, not expecting anything in return.  To pour your life into that of another.   Over the last few weeks, I have seen how this works.  I have watched people who were formally unqualified, unmotivated, and unskilled become more than they ever thought they could be.  I have to say that I am proud of them.   So, how can you change another person's life?  First of all, put them before yourself.  It's called servant leadership.  Secondly, learn what they need to know.  Teachers are learners who give what they have away.  Thirdl

That Scared Me

So last Sunday, a table fell on my daughter's foot.  She is a dancer.  It would be the same as a pianist breaking a finger or a singer losing their voice. All week long we have been caring for it.  Allowing it time to heal and recover.  But there was a nagging question.  Are there any broken bones?  As far as we could tell, no.  While it was bruised, no signs were indicating a nasty break. Then, someone, last night said, "You better have an x-ray and make sure.  If there is a break, the next time she dances she can cause permanent damage."  I saw the panic in my daughter's eyes.  So this morning, after a few phone calls, we found someone who would see her.  Thankfully, no broken bones.  Even the doctor said, "Wow you really bruised it!" Now all this week I have been saying to God, "You need to take care of Anneka."  He has been saying back to me, "Don't worry, the foot isn't broken."  I honestly believed that.  When I went

I Wouldn't Think About It If I Were You.

A few years ago I was giving birth to a kidney stone.  If you don't know, it is one of the most excruciating forms of pain any human can withstand.  A urologist told me once, "Take a golf ball, put it in a common water hose and try to blow it out."  Pretty accurate. Well, I went to the hospital in hopes of finding some kind of relief.  The doctor comes in, checks me out and orders some tests.  I asked, "While we are waiting for the tests, could you give me something for the pain?"  "No," was his answer, "We have to confirm that you have a kidney stone before we can give you any pain meds.  If I were you, I wouldn't think about it, it only makes the pain worse."  Then "poof" he was gone, and I was left thinking about it - A LOT! But he was right.  If I thought about it, it got worse.  But if I had someone to talk to and joke with while waiting for my test, it seemed to make the pain more manageable.  A nurse came in and sai

Timing is Everything

The old saying that "timing is everything" is true.  Ever tried to give your order at the drive-thru only to hear the static voice from the other end say, "Can I take your order?" Change is inevitable.  I've said before.  You can choose the change that you desire, or change will pick it for you - badly.  But the question always is, when and how? Let's address when.  At the risk of oversimplifying let's look at 2 significant reasons to change.  Pain and God said so. When you surpass your threshold of pain, you will change.  That's why you see some people making changes to their lives as often as they change their socks.  Low threshold.  It's also the reason why you see some people live in painful relationships or careers for long periods of time.  High threshold.  Ask yourself this.  Where is your threshold and do you want to go there?  If the answer is no.  Then, now is the time to change.   God said so.  When God directs us to

Go To Church Like It's 1955

I wasn't around in 1955.  I didn't show up until 1963.  But our kids had a 50's day back in kids church.  There were costumes, root beer floats and a lot of fun. Then after service, we baptized 3 people in water.  Every step of faith that people take is a reason to celebrate.  We had a great day. But this got me to thinking.  How much has changed in the church since let's say 1955?  Hymnals became projectors, mimeograph bulletins became morning brochures printed in full color.  Pews became chairs, and now you have to have a website.  I'm not saying that any of these changes were terrible.  Their not.  Time changes things. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 God tells Abraham to pick up everything you own and move.  "Where to God?" asks Abe.  God says, "None of your business for right now, just walk in that di

Blink and Miss It

James 4:14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. I got up this morning at 7 am.  It is now 8:42 pm.  WHAT HAPPENED?  Losing a day is one thing. Losing a lifetime, that's something else. A hospice nurse wrote a book entitled “The Top Five Regrets of The Dying.” Here are her findings. 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. 3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends 5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. We all have regrets.  But the regret of losing one's own life is horrible.   Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? In a few hours, it will be Sunday here in South Florida.  I'm going to encourage you to do a few things tomorrow that steer you away from these regret

Smile! No Really!

Your assignment today is to look someone in the eye and smile.  No, not that creepy smile you have that scares small animals and children.  The genuine one that lets people know that you care. British researchers determined that one smile will give you as much pleasure as 2,000 bars of chocolate.  A - Smile away and B - who ate 2,000 bars of chocolate? Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. A glad heart.  Well, that speaks to attitude, not circumstances.  It's about trust, not control.  It's about faith and never about fear.   Start your day with gratitude.  If you are reading this in the morning, then stop and choose one thing that you are grateful for right now.   Choose to improve your attitude.  But Russ!  You don't know what I am going through right now!  True, but I do know one thing.  It will get a little better if you just - smile.   Smile.  Go ahead and do it.  Just do it!  PRAY:  Dea

Church Isn't Safe

I said this during my sermon Sunday, "Church is messy, and it isn't safe."   Some churches market themselves as the "cool, perfect, safe" place to attend.  I really don't have an ax to grind with them.  That's what they want to do - go for it.   But to "cool, perfect and safe" isn't something I find to be either to be a goal or a possibility in scripture.  Jesus said we would be rejected.   John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." Now there are a few out there that think that they are supposed to be hated because of their faith.  So they go out of their way to cause it.  Not good.  Your faith will attract those who are looking for hope in this world.   Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." The Bible says we will never be perfect (without fault)  Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Ever Have A Tune Stuck In Your Head?

It's called an Earworm. An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, or Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI) is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing. I have these all the time.  After years of memorizing music, I just do it automatically.   But here is the tune that is stuck in my head.  Sick and tired of being sick and tired Had as much of you as I can take I'm so done, so over being afraid I've gone through the motions I've been back and forth I know that you're thinking you've heard this before I don't know how to say it So I'm just gonna say it, yeah Fear, you don't own me There ain't no room in this story And I ain't got time for you Telling me what I'm not Like you know me well guess what? I know who I am I know I'm strong And I am free Got my own identity So fear, you will never

9/11 - I Remember

I remember where I was 17 years ago today.   I remember where I was when the first plane struck.  I remember where I was when the second plane struck.  I remember where I was when the towers fell.   I remember the world coming to a complete halt that day.   I remember calling for a special prayer service that night, and for a Tuesday, it was mostly full.  I remember saying in that service. "Our nation will never be the same." I remember saying "Don't try to understand the mind behind this evil."  I remember.  I remember a nation coming together as one.  Differences of opinions were set aside.  We were no longer safe.  But we were resolved to answer the call and defend ourselves and those too weak to protect themselves.  War was on the horizon.  Diplomacy was in overdrive.  It was chaos.   John 14:27   Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them

It's Relationships, Stupid.

In 1992 Bill Clinton's successful presidential campaign against President George H. W. Bush was summed up in the phrase, "The economy, stupid." Now I know some of you are shuddering at me using the S word.  But it has to be said.  Everything rises and falls on relationships.  Think about it.  We say, "It's not what you know it's who you know.  How many times have you known someone to get a job because they knew someone in the company?   1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. Proverbs 27:17  Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Friendships are valuable and worthy endeavors for us to pursue.  The Bible notes that friends encourage and build each other up.  That they help develops the necessary life and faith skills we need to face the struggles we face.   Then why are we becoming a society that is more isolated and alone than ever before?  What is driving us apart?  We work


That will be the sound that my head makes when I go to bed and my it hits the pillow. Ecclesiastes 5:18  Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Toady was a great day at church.  The ministry team did a great job.  The Holy Spirit moves in peoples lives.  There was wonderful and fulfilling fellowship.  It just didn’t stop all day.  From 8 am until 8 pm.  I’m not complaining, I’m rejoicing.   Take a few moments to be thankful for the time and energy you spend on others.  Time in prayer.  Being an encourager and a good listener.  Time that you spend offering your heart openly to help others whose hearts are broken.  Yes it is exhausting.  But it is really worth it.   If you are reading this in the morning then today is an opportunity to make a difference.  Spend a little time with someone and give them hope. 

I'm Ashamed

Following up to yesterdays blog about failure, I have to ask the question.  Are we afraid of failure or are we terrified of shame? If we were to be bluntly honest with ourselves, it is the same we feel from the rejection of failure that actually scares us. My soul also is greatly troubled.  But you, O Lord—how long?  Psalm 6:3 (ESV) Shame is a part of life.  We've all felt it stings before and would probably do anything to never ever feel it again.  In fact, we do. We will lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, twist, mask, overwork, sabotage, disappear, and/or give up rather than feeling ashamed.  It is a fact of life.  If you can help people feel secure in making mistakes, letting them know that you will not reject them if they do - that will go along way to healthier relationships and teams. But think about this. Jesus will never reject you.  Even when you have epically failed, He still loves you and believes in You.  There is nothing you can do to derail His plan for you

Failure Isn‘t A Sin

In full disclosure iI have been reading a book entitled FAIL, by J.R. Briggs.  It’s about dealing with failure. “ Because of Christ we are thought of as fools, but Christ has made you wise. We are weak and hated, but you are powerful and respected. Even today we go hungry and thirsty and don't have anything to wear except rags. We are mistreated and don't have a place to live. We work hard with our own hands, and when people abuse us, we wish them well. When we suffer, we are patient. When someone curses us, we answer with kind words. Until now we are thought of as nothing more than the trash and garbage of this world.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:10-13‬ ‭CEV‬‬ What defines as failure for you?  Here’s a better question.  What is success?  If you don’t know what success looks like how do you know that you’ve failed? Here are a few observations that I have made so far. Don’t allow others to define what success or failure is to you.  Their expectations cannot become the goals of

Stabbed In The Back

In the course of the last few days, I have heard story after story about how a church misrepresented themselves or how church leadership became abusive. Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I have not spoken to any of these churches or their leadership.  I have no relationship with them.  I am also the first to admit that there are two or more sides to every story.  But this isn't a church bashing or people bashing blog. This is a blog from a pastor who has been stabbed in the back too.   It happens. Ephesians 4:31-32  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. What do you do and how do you recover?  Agree to disagree, but don't give yourself permission to become bitter.  I know it's personal.  I know that it hurts.  I know it isn't fair.  But whatever you crave you will entitle yourself too.  If you crave

Today Was Labor Day

Hit the like button if you have ever had this job. Did you know that Americans eat 811 hotdogs a second between Memorial Day and Labor Day? Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. In the 1800s the average American worked 12-hours a day, 7 days a week to make a living. Children worked in factories earning a pennies compared to an adults wage. Colossians 3:23  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Hard work has been the secret of success since the Garden of Eden.  So how can you be successful? Know why you work.   As followers of Jesus, we work in such a way as to give honor to Jesus.  That means we do not cheat, steal from our employer.  We do our best job at all times, and we give it our all.   Work to achieve not to possess.  Some people work hard to possess the world around them.  You cannot make enough money or own enough stuff to feel satisfied.  Therefore, you will a

It Was A Long Day. . .

. . . but worth it. If you missed this mornings sermon you can listen to it here . Here is something that I taught this morning in Life Group. Hen. 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Do you like being encouraged?  Who doesn’t.  Can you remember the last time someone encouraged you?  You probably can. The writer of Hebrews links church attendance with encouragement.  You see, the early church believed that church should be a place where you are encouraged.  A place where people encouraged each other. If you want to transform your church, your home, your place of work or your circle of friends here’s what you do. Look at them straight in the eye and smile. Give them a honest compliment. Share a bit of your life with them. PRAY: Dear Jesus, help me encourage someone today.  AMEN.

Fear Is Always Bigger . . .

Fear is always bigger than reality. Fear is a powerful thing in our minds.  Will see like me?  Will I fail?  Ane they going to hurt me?  Will I succeed? Psalm 147:5  Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure I’ve had a saying that has served me well, “You can’t be fearfully r and faith do not play well together.  In fact they will do all they can to eliminate the other.   So, how do you deal with the fear and live by faith?   Be careful what you focus on.  Keep you eyes on Jesus and don’t sweat the rest of it.  You’re not controlling as much as you think anyway.  Give it all to Him. Feed your faith.  Keep your faith stronger than your fears.  This takes work, but the reward is worth it. Take every thought captive.  You will feel fear before you can think about it.  Don’t be afraid of fear, it can’t hurt you.  Don’t let it run your life. PRAY Dear Jesus, I love you and I trust you.  Help build my faith today.  AMEN.