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Thursday, July 02, 2015

The key is worship

This Sunday morning, I am giving a teaching entitled, "The Key Is Worship."
 
The basic premise is this:  There is power in praise, especially as I walk through trials and adversity.
 
I can worship - or I can worry.
 
I can worship - or I can wail (and there is nothing wrong with wailing or crying in the midst of suffering - it is just that worship is the better way).
 
I can look to the problem - or I can look to the presence of Jesus.
 
In his book, "If God Is Good - Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil," author Randy Alcorn recalls when his friend, writer Ethel Herr, had a double mastectomy. 
 
Two months later doctors discovered the cancer had spread.  One of Herr's friends, shocked and fumbling for her words, asked her, "And how do you feel about God now?" 
 
Reflecting on the moment the question was posed to her, Herr says:
 
"As I sought to explain what has happened in my spirit, it all became clearer to me.  God has been preparing me for this moment.  He has undergirded me in ways I've never known before.  He has made himself increasingly real and precious to me.  He has given to me joy such as I've never known before - and I've no need to work at it, it just comes, even amidst the tears.
 
He has taught me that no matter how good my genes are or how well I take care of my diet and myself, he will lead me on whatever journey he chooses and will never leave me for a moment of that journey.  And he planned it all in such a way that step by step, he prepared me for the moment when the doctor dropped the last shoe - God is good, no matter what the diagnosis or the prognosis, or the fearfulness of the uncertainty of having neither.  The key is knowing God is good is simply knowing him."
 
The key to worshipping in times of trial and suffering is knowing God. 
 
Here is what I know:  Worshipping God during times of trial and suffering begins with thanking him for all the little things.  And as I daily, incrementally worship God with a thankful heart, it builds up an lifestyle of worship - to where when the "big" things come - my heart and soul are full of praise.
 
Did you know that you take approximately 23,000 breaths every day?
 
The process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is a complicated respiratory task that requires physiological precision.  We tend to thank God for the things that take our breath away.  And that's great!
 
But maybe we should thank him for every other breath too!
 
And that is the starting point of creating a lifestyle of praise.
 
Just a thought for a Thursday.
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Have you seen Jesus?

There is a lot of stuff going on in the world - I know you will agree with me on that.
 
Some are throwing opinions around on the social media like a park filled with people throwing Frisbees - just wanting it to land somewhere.
 
In the midst of it all - I have purposed in my heart to keep my eyes on Jesus.
 
I am asking God to renew and restore my passion for Him.
 
Let me tell you this story that kind of summarizes where I am at right now (I encourage you to take the time to read it):
 
An old man tells the story of how one day he was sitting quietly in the sun with his dog.
 
Suddenly, a large white rabbit ran across the yard - right in front of he and the dog - and his dog jumped up and took off after that big rabbit.
 
The dog chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.
 
Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking.
 
It was an incredible sight - the pack of dogs running, barking across the creeks, up the stony embankments, through thickets and through the thorns!
 
Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course, and frustrated by the chase.
 
The old man said, "Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit."
 
You might say today - great story - but what's the connection between what is going on in today's world and a passion for Jesus?
 
Well, the old man went on and said, "the reason the other dogs did not continue the chase - except for his dog - was that the other dogs had not seen the rabbit."
 
Unless we continue to keep our eyes on the prize (on Jesus) the chase is just too difficult.
 
My dear friends, today, are you keeping your eyes on Jesus - is He the passion of your soul?
 
Are you lukewarm today?
 
Are you becoming distracted by "all that is going on in the world?"
 
Are you going through the motions?
 
In the midst of everything going on - let's keep our eyes on Jesus - otherwise is just a lot of noise and barking.
 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Attention spans and God

One of the key words in our walk with Christ is focus.
 
We become what we focus on - and what you focus on becomes your reality (I will be talking about this on Sunday morning).
 
So true.
 
If  you focus on your problems - you will become problem filled in your thought life.
 
If you focus on the presence of Jesus - you will become filled with the presence of Jesus in your life.
 
Yet focus is hard.
 
Microsoft did a study of 2,000 consumers and they discovered that the average human attention span has gone down (from Kevin McSpadden's article, "You now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.").
 
In 2000 it was 12 seconds, that's right, 12 seconds. 
 
But now, in 2015, it has gone down to 8 seconds - people generally lose concentration after 8 seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.  (Some of you have already left this blog and gone on to something else).  :) :)
 
In comparison - a goldfish has a 9 second attention span.  (I am not sure how they found that out but it is a scientific fact).
 
In other words, a goldfish has a longer attention span than we do.
 
Now here is the question:  Why has our attention span gone down?
 
Microsoft's theory is that because of the mobile Internet, the brain does not have the ability to adapt and change itself over time and a weaker attention span is the side effect.
 
The survey also confirmed generational differences for mobile use; for example 77% of people aged 18 to 24 responded "yes" when asked, "When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone."
 
What is your focus today?
 
I would suggest that every time you focus on your problem - you spend even more time focusing on the presence of God - and fill up your "free time" with the Incarnated son of God rather than the Internet.

The Bible says in Isaiah 40:31 that they that "wait upon the Lord will renew their strength."  Not they that "wait" upon the latest Facebook post.
 
And btw, thank you for focusing enough to finish the blog..... :) :)
 
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
 
I just have to say first off that I am very, very grateful for the many that are coming to Christ through the ministries of our church this past week!
 
Literally thousands came to Christ through the ministry of our Stone Church Tanzania missions team (They are now on their way back to Chicago - let's continue to pray for safe travels for the team).
 
Hundreds connect to Jesus at the Reinhart Bonnke crusade - many, many thanks to all of our Stone Church volunteers for going and serving in ministry - a special thanks to Phil and Nicole Buck for their leadership in this endeavor!
 
During the second service yesterday, several raised their hands, signifying that they would like to restart or start a relationship with Christ!
 
Powerful, powerful stuff.
 
We have been praying for a long time that we would become an "outreach" church - and it is coming to fruition!
 
I can sincerely say - with gratefulness in my heart - Praise God!
 
I have been receiving emails from people who were touched by the anointing and ministry of the Holy Spirit in our services yesterday.  Truly God was present!
 
Jesus has not gone back into the grave - God is in control!
 
RFKC camp this week - we look forward to hearing the great reports of what God is going to do in the lives of foster children.
 
I loved the old chorus we sang in the first service altar time:  Let it breathe on me.  Let it breathe on me.  Let the breath of God now breathe on me.  Let it breathe on me.  Let it breathe on me.  Let the breath of God - now breathe on me.
 
Breathe on us, oh God!
 
We desire more of your presence!
 
More and more, I am once again realizing the power of prayer. 
 
God is recalling us to pray!
 
Two of our church family were healed at the Reinhart Bonnke crusade.
 
I had the privilege of speaking with a younger guy yesterday (new to our church) who accepted Christ.
 
Love you all........
 
 
 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Praying through

Warning:  Reading this blog might be hazardous to the health of the trials you are facing, the struggles and challenges that are coming your way - and to the very effectiveness of the enemy who is trying to destroy you.  Read only if you want to walk in victory.
 
Back in "the day" we used to have an expression that whenever faced with a challenge, we as Christians are to "pray through."
 
In other words, we are to pray until the answer comes - or until an event has taken place.
 
There is a lot for us as a church family to "pray though" about (please see the end of the blog for the prayer requests) (I have intentionally been spending an hour of prayer each day this week for these events).
 
First of all, a story from Tim Keller, a prolific author and pastor in New York City.
 
He writes:
 
"In the second half of  my adult life, I discovered prayer.  I had to.  In the fall of 1999, I taught a Bible study course on the Psalms. It became clear to me that I was barely scratching the surface of what the Bible commanded and promised regarding prayer.
 
Then came the dark weeks in New York after 9/11, when our whole city sank into a kind of corporate clinical depression, even as it rallied.
 
For my family the shadow was intensified as my wife, Kathy, struggled with the effects of Crohn's disease.  Finally, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  At one point during all this, my wife urged me to do something with her we had never been able to muster the self-discipline to do regularly.  She asked me to pray with her every night.  Every night.
 
She used an illustration that crystallized her feelings very well.
 
As we remember it, she said something like this:
 
Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine - a pill every night before going to sleep.  Imagine that you were told that you could never miss it or you would die.  Would you forget?  Would you not get around to it some nights?  No, it would be so crucial that you wouldn't forget, you would never miss.
 
Well, if we don't pray together to God, we are not going to make it because of all we are facing.  I am certainly not.  We have to pray, we can't let is just slip our minds."
 
Good stuff.
 
Here are some needs to "pray through" about:
 
Our Stone Church Tanzania missions team:  Safety.  Effective ministry.  Hundreds to be saved.  Boldness to share the Gospel.
 
RFKC camp:  Safety.  Effective ministry to the foster kids.  Relational harmony amongst the staff.
 
Reinhart Bonnke Crusade:  Strength for our Stone Church family who are serving as altar workers.  Safety in travel to and from the arena.  Thousands to be saved!
 
A spiritual revival in the Chicagoland.
 
Signs and Wonders at our church.
 
A desire to seek after God amongst all Christians in the Chicagoland.
 
I leave you with this from James 5:16:  "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) is powerful!"
 
Just a thought for a Thursday.
 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wigglesworth and boldness

Sometimes, when you walk in the spirit with boldness - it can be misinterpreted as arrogance.
 
Ministering and relating to Christ and praying are to be done with an audaciousness and boldness that can only come through the anointing.
 
Most of God's kingdom either have never seen a true manifestation of walking in power - or are offended by the audacity of someone walking in faith.
 
I refer to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:12 (KJV version) where he says, "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
 
The NIV says it this way:  "The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."
 
Friends, I am going to remind us this coming Sunday morning - in a teaching entitled, "Overcoming the counter-attacks of the enemy" that we are at war.
 
War is not pretty.
 
War is ugly.
 
Our enemy does not fight fair.
 
War is not nice.
 
I encourage you not to be afraid of or offended by people walking in a God-given authority.  Those who know that their authority comes from the Holy Spirit - and who walk in the humility of Christ in realizing that what takes place is all God.
 
Smith Wigglesworth used to say, "You know, you can't treat the devil lightly.  You have to be rough with him.   You have to mean business.  You must tell him with authority to come out.  It's not use telling him a second time, because if you do, he knows you didn't mean it the first time.  You have to have enough authority in the name of Jesus to command him to come out.  In that name, he must come out."
 
I encourage you today, my dear friends, to take authority over your situation.  Be bold.  Be strong, for the Lord thy God is with thee.
 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What if God were on Facebook?

Facebook is now officially one of the greatest addictions - if not the greatest addiction a lot of Christians have.
 
I think sometimes that we consider it a "safe" addiction.
 
When in doubt, get online and check out Facebook.
 
Live your life vicariously through others.
 
Check up on what others are doing.
 
Instead of living a moment completely - spend the time (in the midst of that moment) putting it on Facebook.
 
Disclaimer:  Being on Facebook is not a sinNot at all.  Like anything else - it only becomes a negative in our lives if we allow it to consume us - in place of spending time with God.
 
For instance:
 
Physical rest can become laziness.
 
Quietness can become non-communication
 
Interest the possessions of others becomes covetousness
 
Enjoyment of food becomes gluttony
 
Self care becomes selfishness
 
Self-respect can become conceit
 
Communication can become gossip
 
Judgment becomes criticism
 
Carefulness become fear.
 
The list goes on and on.
 
Most of us won't often be tempted to commit obvious sins such as armed robbery, murder or rape.
 
Satan is too clever and subtle for that.
 
Instead, his tactic is to entice us to push something good beyond the boundary of the will of God until it becomes sin.
 
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:12, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."
 
Green lights are there on all things - as long as they don't run the red light of putting God first.
 
Some suggestions: 
 
Limit yourself to getting on Facebook once or twice a day.
 
Limit yourself to "x" amount of minutes.
 
Every so often - take a break from Facebook altogether.
 
Use Facebook to encourage and lift up - never to criticize or tear down or passively aggressively revealing your emotions toward something or someone.
 
Practice your spiritual disciplines before you get on Facebook.
 
I read a great thought today from John Ortberg:
 
"What if God was on Facebook?"
 
What would his page look like?
 
What would His profile look like?
 
Name:  The Deity.
 
Relationship status:  Triune and serenely blissful.
 
Number of friends:  I only know.
 
Unfriended:  List currently blocked
 
Photos:  None available (see second commandment)
 
Timeline:  From the beginning - created the world, didn't I?
 
What's on your mind?:  What isn't?
 
Recent posts:  My book is still the all-time bestseller and the bestseller every year.  Now have a billion worshippers.  What ever happened to Zeus?  Taking the day off.  Thank me it's Friday!
 
Great stuff.
 
What is God spent all day on Facebook?  "Uh, hold on there with that need, Bill or Betty, I am on my Facebook page."
 
You see, God doesn't need a Facebook page because He has already revealed himself in Scripture and in the life of Jesus!
 
To see God, look at Jesus!
 
And thank God we are called to seek His face and not His Facebook.
 
Just a thought for a Tuesday.
 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
 
Summer is here!  Yeah!
 
Vacations are in full force - have fun spending time with your family and friends!
 
I really appreciated the sweet, ministering presence of the Lord during communion yesterday.
 
I am thankful for the cross and forgiveness of sins.
 
Powerful altar time during the first service yesterday - God is good!
 
Men, you and I are to be the spiritual leaders of our home.
 
Review of the principles from yesterday:  As spiritual leaders of our home, guys, we are to walk in integrity, a passion for God and his kingdom, humility and prayer for our family.
 
There is no greater calling than to pray for our children.
 
God is our heavenly father, and he watches over our children as we pray.
 
God uses both our successes and failures to keep us humble.
 
Humility is simply have a right understanding of who you are:  both your strengths and your weaknesses.
 
Let's all continue to pray for the Reinhart Bonnke meetings this coming Friday and Saturday.
 
My prayer is that during the meetings, the hearts of the lost will be open to hear the good news of Jesus Christ - and connect to God.
 
Lots of horrific stuff going on in the world - I sincerely believe that Jesus is coming soon!
 
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
 
Let's all pray for the kids at children's camp this week:  Camps are always a time when our kids draw closer to the Lord.
 
Can I tell you something?  Debbie and I love all of you very much............

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Training up children

As you know, this coming Sunday is Father's Day.
 
The Lord is leading me to integrate a study of "what is means to be a spiritual leader" into our study on Acts 16:1-15.
 
I encourage all of you to come - all men will be challenged and encouraged.
 
One of the principles I won't get to expound on is the following (I will mention it in passing):
 
"Train up a child in the way he (she) should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."  Proverbs 22:6
 
The Amplified Version states, "Train up a child in the way he should go, in keeping with his individual gifts, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
 
"To train" means - to create a thirst; to direct or lead.
 
In the Old Testament times, it would have a twofold meaning:
 
First, it was used when a Hebrew midwife delivered a baby, the first thing she did was put some crushed grapes or dates on her index finger and put it in the child's mouth.
 
That would create or cultivate a thirst for grapes or dates.
 
But it also meant to lead or direct. 
 
It was used to describe the action of putting a rope in the mouth of a horse and bringing that horse into submission and guidance.  In both instances it is related to the mouth.
 
In other words, Proverbs 22:6 tells us that as parents, our role and responsibility is to give our children direction and to create a certain thirst in their life. 
 
What is the primary "thirst" we create?  A thirst for God.  A passion to serve Him.  A love for His church.  A respect for spiritual authority.  The ability to live a life of a servant.
 
Now some parents, a lot of parents (I've often said that parents in today's world are much better parents than we were - however, my perception is that they are being challenged in this one area)  want to raise their children as they want them to be and as they want them to do - concerning what they (the parents) perceive their giftedness and talents are.
 
They have their children running from soccer practice to baseball practice to piano practice to ballet lessons all in the same week - many times wanting them to succeed in areas that they (the parents) failed when they were children - living vicariously through them.
 
It is hard for some parents to realize that their little "Johnny" is not going to be the next Michael Jordan, or their little "Judy" is not going to be the next Taylor Swift.
 
Why?  Because they don't realize that it is not a matter of "trying harder" or being "more committed" but that their child does not have that "bent" or the talents necessary to reach that goal.
 
So what do we do as parents? 
 
We find our child's "bent" or their "unique characteristics" and go with that.
 
We come to the realization that our child may not be anything like us.  They might not like the same things we like.  They may not be of the same temperament as us.
 
I encourage you to realize that your child (as they are younger) are like a lump of clay, a soft hunk of clay - that's true, but some parents think that as they poke it and mold the clay - they can make it into something they want.
 
And when they get the clay (to continue to metaphor) into something they want, they bake it in a kiln and bring it out hard - and then put the child on the shelf and expect him to say that way the rest of his or her life. 
 
So, if you child is musical, then you ought to be providing musical opportunities.  If your child isn't musical, the last thing you need to do is insist that they take piano lessons.
 
I know that some of you are saying, "Well, I had piano lessons."
 
Don't inflict your problem on your kids.  :) :)
 
Find your child's gifts, talents, likes, dislikes and bent - and go with it!
 
And rejoice in the diversity that God has created.
 
Just a thought for a Thursday.
 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The power of intercession

Last evening, at our Tuesday evening corporate prayer meeting, we had an extended amount of time (intercession) in prayer for Frank Wolf.  We prayed and sought God together for his healing. 
 
At times, in the supernatural realm, it was intense.
 
We also prayed for David, Donna and the entire Tanzania team - and this missions trip beginning this Sunday afternoon.
 
Intercessory prayer is so needed in today's world.
 
We have become consumed with the idea that "praying without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is the only pattern for prayer (in other words - praying throughout the day continually in short bursts) that we have forgotten a sustained period of prayer (that is so needed) both individually and corporately.
 
In short, we have become to busy to pray.
 
I would suggest that God's kingdom has lost the ability and desire to participate in the art of sustained prayer for other people's needs (and our own).
 
Intercessory prayer is not something that needs to be massaged or manipulated by anything other than you and God - face to face, so to speak, in conversation about a need.
 
I don't need something to "pump me up" or get me "in the mood" to pray. 
 
All I need is a need - and a desire for God to meet that need.
 
Intercessory prayer is not a time of praise or worship - and of course you know that those times are needed - please don't misunderstand me.
 
It is not a time where I am "growing in Christ" through communion with God.
 
It is a time where I am:
 
Alone.  Praying.  Conversing.  Sharing a need.  Not getting up from your knees (physically or metaphorically) until an answer comes.
 
The word, "intercede" in the Latin means "to go or pass between."
 
Please understand this:  True intercessory prayer is where there are two parties, one with a need and one with an answer - and seeks to bring the two parties together (Tom Eliff).
 
Moses on the mountaintop, praying for the people of Israel - would be an example of this.
 
True intercessory prayer contains the following components:
 
It is intense, passionate
 
Sometimes God does listen to the tone of our voice - not because He is deaf, God is not deaf, but because it is a sign that we are really connected to what we are praying about.  God would rather have heart with few words - than a lot of words without heart.
 
It is persistent.
 
It doesn't give up until the is a sense that an answer has come or an answer is coming.  Jesus continually encouraged persistent prayer - not to beg or persuade, but to prepare our hearts (as intercessors) for the answer.
 
It is "praiseful".
 
It knows that the ultimate answer is in God's hands.  It lifts up a need with thanksgiving in advance - knowing that the answer is coming.
 
It is powerful.
 
The enemy flees when Christians gather together to intercede.  All of hell cringes when they hear saints of God - with voices lifted on high - bringing a need before the Father.
 
Now then, let me narrow this down today to that individual with whom you are being challenged by, hurt by, in conflict with.
 
Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:44, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
 
Leonard Ravenhill once wrote:  "We never pray for folks we gossip about, and we never gossip about other folks for whom we pray!"
 
And finally, Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  "A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.  I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me.  His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.  This is a happy discovery for the Christian who begins to pray for others."
 
Having troubles with a spouse, a child, a boss, a co-worker, a brother or sister in Christ? - pray.
 
Let's never underestimate what the Holy Spirit can do.
 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.
 
 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

God's heart toward you and I

Wow.  Trying to describe our creator is an impossible task (outside of the Bible).
 
God is indescribable.  At our best, it is very difficult to wrap our minds around who God is - and how much He cares for us - individually.
 
I was reading some stuff from Jim Nicodem this morning - and he helps us realize the following about God - the God who is our Father.  And His heart for you and I.
 
God loves sinful people - and redeemed people.
 
God loves sinful people just as much as He loves redeemed people. 
 
Psalms 103:8 tells us that, "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love."
 
God loves sinful people, but He also has a long fuse.
 
He is, "slow to anger."
 
For this - I am grateful.  Continually throughout the Word, specifically in the Old Testament, God puts up with a great deal before He reaches His "boiling point."
 
I am personally thankful for God's patience with me.
 
Nicodem writes, "Over and over again, the Bible tells us the reason God exercises such great patience is that he's hoping we will take advantage of this extension of His grace to turn from our sin, seek his forgiveness, and begin to obey him."
 
Disclaimer:  Don't mistake God's patience with  you and I as a lack of concern about our disobedience.
 
Psalms 103:9 tells us that God, "will not accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever."
 
We are never more like God than when we accuse.  The Word says that Satan is the accuser of the brethren.
 
God never brings up the past.  He has a short memory.
 
He doesn't harbor His anger forever. 
 
In Isaiah 57:16, God says, "If I kept throwing up in  your face your past failures, if I chose to retain an angry disposition toward you because of your sin, your spirit within you would grow faint before me.  You would wither up and die."
 
Finally, in Psalms 103:10, it states, "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities."
 
That's called grace.  That is called mercy. 
 
So, at the heart of God - He has a long fuse.  He's got a short memory.  He has thick skin.
 
I leave you with this:  As we look toward this Father's Day, know that God is a compassionate father - and He understands our propensity to sin and our frailty.
 
Psalms 103:13 tells us, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.  For he knows how we are formed.  He remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass.  He flourishes like a flower of the field.  The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more."
 
God is for you today.  Rest in that.  Rejoice in that.  Relax in that.
 
And be free.  And be forgiven.  And walk in His abundant life.
 
Just a thought for a Tuesday.
 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
 
I had the wonderful opportunity and privilege of attending the Northern Illinois District Pow-Wow this past Saturday  morning.
 
There was a lot of activity for the boys (and men) - and everyone was being encouraged and challenged to either connect with Christ or draw closer to the Lord!
 
Thanks to all of our commanders - especially Commander Howie - for all of your hard work and time!
 
Great job men!
 
Quotes (and thoughts) from yesterday's teaching:
 
You know that you have created God in your own image when  you think God hates the same people you do.
 
Forgiveness doesn't make the other person right - forgiveness sets you free.
 
Forgiveness is surrendering my right to hurt you for hurting me.
 
Unforgiveness is the number one avenue Satan uses to gain entrance into your life.  Paul encourages mutual forgiveness "in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes."  2 Corinthians 2:11.
 
Unforgiveness leads to bondage in our lives.
 
Most of the time, nine times out of ten, the people I have had to forgive sincerely do not feel that they have done anything wrong.
 
Tomorrow evening, June 16th, we will be having our last Tuesday evening corporate prayer time - before taking a break for the summer.  Why not come out and spend an hour in prayer with the family of God?  6:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.
 
We will begin our Tuesday evening prayer times again on Tuesday, August 18th.
 
Please mark down Saturday, September 12th, on your calendars.  We will be having our first annual City Fest.  The band Abandon will be playing and there will be inflatables, food, pony rides, face painting, etc.  More information will be coming!
 
Let's be praying for our Stone Church Tanzania mission's team as they leave this coming Sunday, June 21st- for ministry in that country!
 
Can I tell you something?  At the end of the day - everyone is just doing the best they can.
 
With much love........
 
 
 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Good leaders are good followers

A qualifier as we get started:
 
(This blog is for all of my Christian brothers and sisters who work for someone - at your job - how do you follow your boss or your superiors in a godly way?

Paul writes in Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.")

God calls us to be the best workers we can be for Him.

Now then to what I want to share with you today:

I've heard this said quite a bit recently:  "I am a good leader, I am just not a good follower."
 
Let's unpack that incorrect assumption.
 
Let me summarize some thoughts from John Maxwell on this (and an article from Michael Hyatt):
 
Maxwell says, "If you want to be a great leader, you must first become a great follower."
 
Joshua followed Moses for more than 40 years before he led the children of Israel into the promised land.
 
Elisha served Elijah for then years before he took up his mater's mantle and went on to perform even more miracles.
 
Even Peter followed Jesus for three years (while making a ton of mistakes) - as we will see in the book of Acts 17:6, "turning the world upside down."
 
What does a great follower look like?
 
Hyatt gives us this:
 
They are clear.  
 
They understand their role.  He writes, "You can't be a good follower unless you have clearly identified the leader."
 
While you might be the leader in your marriage (and you should be the spiritual leader of your home), and/or the leader of your children - everyone has a boss - including you.
 
Great followers not only accept this fact but they embrace it.
 
They are obedient
 
Hyatt writes that obedience is not a politically correct term, but it is essential.
 
No one should be allowed to give orders who can't obey orders.
 
They are servants.
 
They notice what needs to be done to help the leader accomplish his or her goals.  Then they do it joyfully, without grumbling or complaining.
 
They are humble.
 
Great followers don't make it about them.  They shine the light on the leader.  Hyatt writes, "they make their own boss look good."
 
They are loyal.
 
Great followers never speak ill of their boss in public.  This doesn't mean they can't disagree or even criticize.  It just means they don't do it in public. 
 
Hyatt writes, "Great loyalty leads to private influence."

Gang, let's be the best workers out there - for the Lord.
 
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

God's love

Many Christians have a hard time with God's unconditional love.
 
We all do at times.
 
We can feel that when we sin - God rips his love away from us.
 
Not true.  To put it bluntly, it is a lie of the enemy.
 
God's love is unconditional.
 
God will never love you any more or any less than he does right now.
 
Don't get me wrong (and this is where there can be misunderstanding):  God hates sin.
 
Sin disgusts God and He wants nothing to do with it.   There are always consequences to our sins.
 
But he never pulls away from loving you.
 
God is not sitting in heaven, saying (as with pulling petals off a daisy), "I love them, I love them not.  I love them.  I love them not."
 
God is never in a bad mood.  God never has a bad hair day.
 
God is never "on" one day and "off" the next day.
 
Just imagine, with your sanctified imagination that Jesus is in a boat and Peter was wanting to walk on water. 
 
Peter says, "Jesus, I want to come to you."
 
Jesus says, "Come!"
 
Peter beings to walk on water and then he begins to sin. 
 
Jesus doesn't think of Peter as an embarrassment.
 
Jesus doesn't say, "I don't love you any more - you are such an idiot".
 
No, God loved Peter with an unconditional love and God loves  you unconditionally.
 
And here's a closing thought:  maybe, just maybe, we are called to love others that way as well.
 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.