Showing posts from May, 2019

Who Should You Pray For?

Of course, the short answer to this question is - EVERYONE!  If you read my blog yesterday, you probably already know that you need to focus your answer a little bit.   Genesis 1:26   Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." Everyone is made in the image of God.  Why is this important, you ask?  Because often, how we pray for someone or "if" we pray for them can be skewed.   I've heard people say, "I'm not praying for that person!" Sometimes it is out of anger, unforgiveness, or hopelessness.  Other times, the person is so offensive to them, praying for them is painful.  But in the end, it doesn't matter because all God sees is someone created in His image.  He loves them and wants them to give their heart and life over

What Should You Pray About?

I asked someone what they pray for, and they said "EVERYTHING!" On the surface, that is a good answer. But let's dive a little deeper.  Matthew 5:11 says, "Give us this day our daily bread." I've heard people tell me what their "daily bread" is.  They need a new car, a bigger house, or they want to lose 5 pounds.  Now I'm not discounting that these could be serious needs.  But when you put that scripture in the whole context of the Lord's Prayer, you may want to rethink the "daily bread" thing.  Matthew 5   9 Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed (or holy) 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.   Worship God by recognizing that He is God, and you are not.   Recognize that His name is

Should I Ever Pray "Harder?"

There have been times in my life when my regular prayer time just didn't cut it.  Years ago, my wife was going through a series of nightmares that were terrorizing her.  I will not go into the details here, but they were awful.  We prayed.  She prayed.  We fasted and prayed.  But nothing.  Now some of you might say, "Well, she needed to see a doctor and get some meds for that." The problem wasn't the nightmares, but their effect on her conscience.  Depression set it.  Thoughts of doom and disaster began to occupy her every thought.  No amount of counseling or encouragement changed anything.  This was something bigger and stronger than us.   Daniel 10:12–14  12 Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the

When Should You Pray?

Right now!!!  What about tomorrow?  Yes.  What about in an emergency?  Yes, Oh, yes.  When everything seems to be going right, yes, Yes, and Yes. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. That praying without ceasing thing is essential.  We learned this Sunday, in Adult Life Group, that praying without ceasing is about bringing your mind back to Jesus again and again. Praying Circles Around Your Marriage by Joel and Nina Schmidgall But let's look at a few reasons why you should remember the Lord continually. There is always a need.  If you don't have one, someone you know does. You need to center your spirit daily and in the morning.  We know that there is the Holy Spirit, that there are demonic spirits who work against us and that we have a spirit.  We have to make a conscious choice to follow the Holy Spirit every day.  Never assume that you are jus

Never Forget

Today is Memorial Day.  We remember the heroes of this country who gave their lives to protect our freedoms.  I believe that we can forget the price that was paid.  If we do, we are doomed to give in to forces greater than ourselves.  These forces will insidiously steal our freedoms and our hope.  But we fail to understand that they do not come from beyond our borders or from within.  But they come from our hearts.  If we forget we will become our own worst enemy. Yesterday, in church, we celebrated Communion, the Lords Supper.  As 1 Cor 1:25  says. "... Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." Jesus did now want us to forget what He did for us.  His sacrifice, driven by His love for setting us free from the tyranny of sin.  Without His gift of grace and forgiveness, we are doomed to be enslaved to our passions, doomed to suffer the consequences of our sins. Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Je

Who Cares?

How many times have you heard this phrase?  "Who Cares?  I sure don't!"  I am sorry to admit this, but I have said it. You and I live in a world that tugs at our emotions all day long.  We see on the news, we read on Facebook, we read it in a text message and then finally our brain goes - "Enough!  I don't care!" Now I've admitted this before, so don't be shocked when I say, "I'm not a very merciful person."  That doesn't mean I don't have mercy. It's just not my first reaction to most situations.  I am very compassionate and quite often feel empathy and sympathy for others.  Early in my ministry, I thought I was broken or somehow faulty.  With the help of good friends and the Holy Spirit, I discover, it's how God made me.  Once I embraced that, I could be a better friend to others. Friendship is often in the eye of the beholder.  They define what friendship is, then surround themselves with people who fit that def

Friendship Is . . .

. . . a community - not an event. Over the years, I have heard people say, "I thought they were my friend!"  But upon further investigation, it wasn't so much of a friendship as it was an agreement.  You know the kind, "Scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours."  This "give and take" type of friendship can work until someone asks too much, then (poof) the agreement is terminated. Friendship is something of value.  You give, expecting nothing in return.  There is no need for "give and take" because it is and never was required. The value of this friendship is so high that you will give it all in return for nothing. John 15:13 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. Jesus gave His all because He is your friend.  I know that seems odd.  But He is.  He did everything so He could do something for you. If you practice this "friendship with value" principle, you already know th

Acquaintances vs. Friends

A colleague of mine once said, "The longer you are in the ministry, you will have more acquaintances and fewer friends." At the time, I couldn't understand what he meant.  But 20 years later, his words are ringing more accurate than ever. Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times,

Are You Exhausted?

Exhausted! Four days of District Council and I can say, “I’m exhausted.” Why, you ask? Was it the late nights or Orlando traffic? Nope, it was the bed. Nothing bad about it. I just couldn’t get a good nights sleep in it. Song of Songs 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Someone once said, “The Devil is in the details.”   There is some truth to that statement.  The simplest of things can do a great amount of damage.  But giving full attention to everything 24/7 is exhausting.   What can you do?   Know your priorities.  Know what is most important and work hard to keep it that way.   To many priorities?  Time to unload some baggage.  If you cannot do everything that you need to do.  Automate (like auto withdrawal or deposit.).  Template (create a simple system that keeps your work load to a minimum.)  Eliminate (would anyone notice if you stopped do it?  No?  Then stop it.)  Delegate (give it to s

When God Shows Up

Last night was Missions Night at District Council.   There we heard about a great need that is half way around the world.   Pastors being persecuted for their faith.   Great opposition to the Good News that you and I can embrace everyday.   God showed up and moved graciously, powerfully and beautifully in the lives of people.  It reminded me of the verse in Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.   I also noticed was who else showed up.   A complaining spirit that flowed from hearts of people who were ungrateful.  A doubting spirit who questioned what was really happening.  A arrogant spirit that said it was better than others.  A ambitious spirit that said the ends justify the means as long as you get the results your looking for.  None of this changed God’s plan.  He showed up in a big way to those who were there to worship Him, celebrate Him and embrace Him.  They walked away with love, z

Don't Forget

So we are staying in a house outside Orlando for District Council.  (Way cheaper than a hotel and you get Eric to cook breakfast.) We go to turn on the TV and the previous family who rented this house left their Netflix signed in.  (Lesson for the day: Never leave without signing out your Netflix.  People go creeping on your watched list later.)  So we figured out that it was mom, dad, and two young kids.  Then we signed their account out for them. Deut 8:11 - 20 11 Make sure you don't forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today . . . 14 make sure you don't become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God, the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery; 15 the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness, those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions; the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock; 16 the God who gave you manna to eat in the wilder

It's Really Late

Got up early and drove to Orlando to attend the PFDC District Council.  Drove through a lot, I mean a lot, of love bugs.  Finally got to our destination with just enough time to take a shower, go to service, enjoy the after party, and get some supplies.  It's 11:41 at night and I'm exhausted. But there was a song they sang in the worship service that I would like to share with you.  Take some time to listen to this and remember these words all day long.  Play it a few times while getting ready for your day.  Hum the tune all day long!  OUR GOD REIGNS! PRAY:  Dear Jesus, YOU REIGN!  Amen

Change Happens

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." The story of the Israelites is about change.  The change God brought and the changes they inflicted upon themselves.   It was God that delivered them from Egyptian slavery.  But they rebelled against God and failed to enter the Promised Land.  It was God that lead Joshua and the next generation into that Promised Land.  But it was their idolatry that weakened their defenses and allowed their enemies to overrun them.  It was God who provided Judges to deliver them upon their repentance.  But they desired to have a King rule over them, which lead to a series of bad kings and corruption.  It was God who provided prophets and others to save the nation again and again.   You get the picture.  As the old saying goes, "Out of the frying pan and into the fire." Except in their case, it was out

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together.

How many of you were raised on the "A-Team"? No, not the movie, the 80's TV show with George Peppard, and Mr. T.  George played the part of Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, leader, and mastermind of some of the craziest solutions to impossible problems.  When it was all over, usually in a cloud of smoke and destruction, he would say, "I love it when a plan comes together."   Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. God has a plan, and it always comes together.  Now I don't believe that God sits on His throne in heaven, saying, "I love it when a plan comes together."  But I do think that it pleases Him when we follow His plans for our lives even if we don't know that they are happening.   For example, recently, I started teaching the Book of Romans in our Advance Life Group on Wednesdays.  This isn't your average Bible study.  We get into the deep theology that makes our heads s

To Blog Or Not To Blog, That Is The Question!

Of course, I am borrowing from William Shakespeare's famous soliloquy, Hamlet.  The line 'to be or not to be' has been debated extensively.  But usually, it is interpreted as meaning, "Is it better to live or to die?" Death comes in more ways than you might imagine.  There is physical death, spiritual death, death of one's vision for their life.  There can be the death of a friendship, a relationship, or even marriage.  One's career can die as well as one's hopes and dreams.   A question, we should be rightfully asking is, "Should I be doing this?  Should I be working at McDonald's?  Should I be dating this person?  Should I be working towards this specific degree?  What is your question?  John 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. We know that God is the author of life, and He has the last word over death. We know in Hebrews 9:27, "it is appointed for men once to die..."  So we can safely concl

I Think I'm Going To Puke

It was 35 years ago.  Betty and I had been married for a few weeks.  Just down the road from where we lived was the county fair.  It was a big deal in that city, and everyone was there for the festivities, including the carnival. In their variety of rides, there was the Gravitron.  People pay good money to stand against a wall, be spun around at 5,000 miles an hour and have the floor drop from under them.  Everyone screams like little children and emerges from the ride dizzy. To this day I don't know whose idea it was, hers or mine, but we got on this demonic twisty thing from hell.  It was fun until we got off the ride.  Then Betty looks at me, green in the face, and says, "I think I'm going to puke." I saw a trash can barrel a few feet away and held her hair back while she unloaded the greasy cheeseburger she had before going on said ride.  (Now I think about it, that does explain a few things.) Never again.  To this day if Betty sees that ride - well it isn

When God Whispers

1 Kings 19:12   And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. Of course, this is from the famous story of Elijah.  He is hiding in a cave because King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are out to murder him.   God asks him why he is hiding in the cave?  To which Elijah says something like, "Everyone quit, I'm the only one left, and they are trying to kill me." So there is a violent wind that tears rocks apart.  An earthquake and then a fire followed that.  But God wasn't in any of them.  Instead, God spoke in a still small voice.  Elijah quickly covers his face with his cloak and listens to the voice of God.  Too often, we want God to drop a billboard right in front of us.  We want Him to use a megaphone to shout out His instructions.  We need a "sign" from Him that He is on the job today.   But God shouldn't have to demand your attention, and you should give it to Him freely.  T

Negative is the New Rude

Use to be, if you wanted to be rude to someone all you had to do was drop an F-bomb or let a few S#$@ out, and you were branded.  That kind of language was reserved for the crass and construction worker.   Today I can't get through the day without hearing it - a lot!  It isn't rude anymore.  Oh, I agree that it a lousy way to express yourself.  But cursing isn't as rude as it use to be.  (And for the record, no I don't believe it belongs in the pulpit or the classroom either.)   "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles" (Proverbs 21:23).   So what is the new rude?  Let me preface this by saying I don't have any research to back my opinion up.  As far as I know, no one has done any work on this.  But I can tell you from personal experience, if I am negative, I am rude.   This is primarily due to the overemphasis of our culture to "get along" and make sure no one "feels" rejected.  The idea look

What Do You See?

Often we are accused of "judging" people.  How many times have you had the phrase, "Doesn't the Bible say, don't judge people?" thrown into your face?  Personally, more times than I can remember. Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. Judging isn't evaluating someone's actions and examining them in the light of God's Word. Jesus did that, and sometimes His actions were quite abrupt. (Tossing tables in the temple is one that comes to my mind.) As I sit there in Starbucks, I can see a student to my left who is focused on some project with determination.  Knowing that graduation is upon us, I think he's got to get this done or not walk the line. At the counter is a young couple.  They are definitely in love, but their body language says they are struggling to be accepted by others. There is a middle-aged man over in the corner who is intensely surfing the internet.  I suspect he needs to find a job and right now. The

What A Day!

Today is Mothers Day.  On this day:  More people purchase fresh flowers and plants for Mother's Day than for any other holiday except Christmas/Hanukkah. In 2019, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that US consumers will spend $25 billion celebrating Mother's Day. Shoppers will spend an average of $196.00 on Mom. According to the 2018 Mother's Day Index, the various tasks moms perform at home would be worth $68,875 (up from $67,619 in 2017) a year in the professional world. Motherhood is God's idea, and He had a great idea!  He created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and said in Genesis 1:28, "... And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply... "   They had kids, their kids had kids, and the rest is history.  But where did Eve learn how to be a mom?  She didn't have one, remember?   I can only surmise, but I think these are good

I Can't Juggle.

(Insert Circus music here.) I've got church tomorrow, and it's Mothers Day.  I need to pick up my daughter from dance, wait - I should probably drop her off there first.  I need lunch.  She needs lunch.  Betty needs to finish her message for tomorrow.  I should get the oil in the car changed.  When will I remember to replace that bulb in the rear tail light?  I've got to work on Annekas fundraiser. She's learning Spanish, and I can't even understand English.  Summer is coming!  Love bugs are here - Yuch!  I have a leadership team meeting coming up.  I need to do some writing. I've got to go to Publix. I've got a third of a tank of gas in the car.  Will, that get me through tomorrow?  (Fade Circus music) That's the short list. As a kid, I wanted to learn how to juggle.  The problem was, I didn't know any jugglers.  There were no books in the library on juggling.  So I tried and tried.  After a good hour, I determined that I wouldn't have a c

Mothers Day

Gratefulness is a lost art in our culture today.  We have to be reminded, and often, that teachers and mentors are the ones who shape our lives - not football players or pop stars.  It is the friends and family that shape our minds and hearts, not the internet or Facebook.  But disconnect the internet or let Facebook go down and you would think that the world has come to an end. Long before there were teachers, there were moms. "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck." Pro. 1:8-9 My mom taught me so much.  She was the one who made sure I was in church every time the doors were open.  Being raised during the Great Depression, she shared her stories about life.  She taught me how you had to have, "grit" to get through and that hard work was necessary. But what I remember the most was her worn white Bible.  She would read it to me nig

Oh Cheer Up!

I ran across a site that talked about some of the most overused, hated platitudes out there.  Here are a few of my favorite.  There's no I in Team - (If you have to tell someone that, you've got more significant problems.)  It is what it is - (No it isn't, you don't have a crystal ball.)  Winners never quit - (Yes they do.  Winners know that they have to fail often to succeed.)  What doesn't kill me will only make me stronger.  - (Nope, almost killed me.  Now I twitch a lot.)  Teamwork to make the Dreamwork.  (I've said this one.  So it takes a lack of teamwork to make a nightmare.)  Hard work always pays off. (No, it just makes you older faster.)  God has a plan for you.  (Yes He does!  But I suggest you get on His plan and quit trying to get Him to approve yours.)  Great minds think alike. (If you are thinking like me, may God have mercy on your soul.)  Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endure

I Am Grateful!

Gratefulness is a choice.  I was challenged to write down 50 things that I am grateful about. The first ten were easy. The next ten were a little harder, but not too bad. The next ten took some thought. The next ten challenged me. The last ten took the longest. Now you might say, "Oh, 50, that's easy!"  Go ahead and try.  But here are the rules.  You may not repeat.  You may not expand on something.  (For example.  "I am grateful for my marriage." may not be followed with, "I am grateful for the woman I love.")  You need to include all areas of your life — vocation, relationships, faith and so on. Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Contentment

Worst Blog Ever

Yesterday I wrote about "Gratefulness in Pain." Many of you said, "Nope! Not going to read it." My readership plummeted. That's a shame because I think that it is a really good devotion for the day. But I get it. We live in a world full of pain.  It dispenses pain like a gumball machine.    We get up in the morning and go to bed with it.  And who likes pain?  If we loved it, we would have named it Double Chocolate Fudge Carmel Heavenly Bites. 1 Chronicles 4:10, Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!" And God granted what he asked. So here is the interesting thing about this prayer.  Jabez means, "born in pain." Childbirth was so painful that his mother named him literally, "Pain."  (So no, you may not name your next child Jabez). But Jabez prays, keep me f

Gratefulness For The Pain

Yesterday Duke Matlock shared with us a powerful message on how gratefulness can change our life. Gratefulness, according to has seven scientifically proven benefits: Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Gratitude improves physical health. Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people sleep better. Gratitude improves self-esteem. Gratitude increases mental strength. Check it out here. Why else would Paul say in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ? In 2 Cor 11:23 - 33 Paul tells us that he has to work harder than they do make a living. He was whipped for His calling,  put in prison more than they have, faced death more frequently, and been beaten with whips and rods severely. He was once stoned and left for dead. He had been shipwrecked three times, and that doesn't count the one on the wa

Are You Grateful?

How grateful are you? We tend to measure our gratefulness with emotional responses.  Have you ever given a gift to someone that you researched diligently for, paid with your hard earned money and wrapped with great care?  Then, upon their opening said gift you hear, "Oh thanks."  You smile graciously, but inside your head, you are thinking, "YOU UNGRATEFUL SNOB!  DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT I WENT THROUGH TO PLEASE YOU!!!!" I wonder if God ever looks down from heaven and says, "Wow!  I didn't even get a thank you!" 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Giving thanks isn't an event; it's an attitude.  Now I know that there are some who would disagree or like to modify that statement, but I think I'll stick with it.  Gratitude is something you choose to do like love, anger, and even hate.  You decide to be who you are. When you get up in the morning choose to be grate

What's Your Superpower?

The last two original Avengers is Captian Rogers, otherwise known as Captian America, and Clint Barton, otherwise known as Hawkeye. Both are just human, well Cap did get some genetic upgrades, but still mostly human.  Both faced with a multitude of moral dilemmas.  Both take the same road to solve their problems. The ends justify the means.  For the Avenger fans, I will concede that the Captian Americas character usually takes higher moral ground.  But in the end, both will do whatever it takes to get the job done. They will cheat, lie and steal.  Of course, they're only doing it to the bad guys. Therefore, that makes it ok.  But do you and I do the same thing? Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall

We Interrupt This Broadcast . . .

I'm going to take a day off from the Avengers theme to address something very, very important. Proverbs 18:22   He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. So 35 years ago today I got married.  It was a beautiful wedding with family and friends.  And as all couples start their life, they have dreams and visions of becoming something.  But life kicks you in the gut and reality visits you. For these 35 years, we have had to deal with childlessness, miscarriages, homelessness, natural disasters, and life-altering events.  We've almost divorced, and quit the ministry.  But through it all, there has been one voice of faith that will not stop: my wife, Betty. She will say, "God isn't done with us yet!" She has served by my side through thick and thin.  She has started her own business.  She manages the front desk at a Dance Academy with nearly 500 students.  She is a children's pastor and so much more! Her passion as a mom a


At the beginning of the movie Iron Man, the film that kicked this whole Marvel phenomenon off ten years ago, Robert Downey Jr., who plays the character Tony Stark, says, "I am Iron Man." Watching this character develop over ten years has been impressive, and I have to say that RDJ did a great job. But if you were to finish the sentence, "I am . . . "How would you finish it? I am depressed! I am rich. I am confused. I am hopeful. I am focused! I am (insert your name here).  But what would that represent? Moses, at the burning bush, asks God what his name is.  Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel: 'I am sent me to you.'" There is a lot of theology behind that statement, more than I can write here.  But in essence, God is saying, "I AM WHO I AM." God is God God is the Creator of the heavens, the universe and of humanity. God is eternal.  He always has be


I've been taking a little ribbing from a few people about doing this "Avengers" series.  It's all been in good fun but believe me, I'm not the first to do this. One of the reasons why I decided to write this series, is in response to our cultures need for a Savior.  Our love for superheroes is based in our desperate need for someone to save us.  We want someone to save us from the bad guys who attack us daily.  Our world is looking for hope and if we can't find it - we will make it up. Enter a group of comic book heroes who are there to save the planet from every kind of unthinkable nightmare in existence.  One of those heroes isn't of this world but from a place called Asgard.  His name is Thor.  You know, the one from Norse legend who wields a hammer, is the god of thunder and throws lightning bolts like Zeus? There is a line from one of the movies where Captian America meets Thor for the first time.  Black Widow tries to deter him from fighting