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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The stops of the Lord

One of my all time favorite verses in found in Psalms 37:23, "The steps of a righteous man are ordained (ordered, established) by the Lord.
 
Here's what I know:  so are the "stops of a righteous man."
 
Sometimes God closes a door - and when he does so, it is His will.
 
Let me explain it this way.
 
As I take my daily walk, our neighborhood is filled with dog-owners, walking their dogs.
 
Here's what I have observed:
 
If you walk a dog on a leash and come to a post, or a tree, and the dog goes to one side of the post/tree, and the dog-owner goes to the other side - they will both be stuck.
 
Although both of them are going in the same direction, they will not be able to move forward.
 
So the dog-owner has to back up and pull the dog in the opposite direction in order to get him going the right way.
 
That's how it is in our life with God.  God will pull us back sometimes to move us forward.  He'll jerk us back (as someone once said:  God leads his dear children along - me - he jerks). 
 
In doing so, God is not trying to be mean.  He is just the one who knows how to get us going forward in the right direction.
 
So....if you are seeking God's will about something, and you are living righteously, and you are going through a time when God says, "Stop!"  (How was that for a run on sentence) :)
 
Relax.  You are exactly where you should be.
 
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stories

Elie Wiesel once wrote, "God made man because He loves stories."
 
One of my favorite things to do is to listen to people's stories.
 
Where they have been.  What they have done.  Their ups and downs from the past.
 
Everyone's story is unique.  Personal. 
 
Your story is important.
 
As we studied last Sunday, Jesus said, "But you will receive power (dunamis; dynamite) when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  Acts 1:8
 
Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses."
 
Not my bible teachers.
 
Not my ushers.
 
Not my ministry leaders.
 
Not my pastors, teachers, apostles, leaders.
 
Not my deacons or elders.
 
And that is all well and good - in fact, very good.
 
But "witnesses."
 
Not my defense attorneys.
 
Not my prosecuting attorneys.
 
There is a big difference between an attorney and a witness.  The purpose of an attorney is to prosecute or defend.  They are always pushing for a decision (Hey, I know, I watched Law and Order :) ). 
 
"You did this.  You did that.  You didn't do this."
 
God doesn't need defense attorneys for him.
 
He doesn't need us to push people for a decision, a verdict.  To pressure them to accept Him.
 
What does a witness do?
 
He tells what he knows.  He tells a story, his or her story.
 
When you witness for Christ, you don't have to know the entire Bible.  You don't have to go to seminary.   You don't have to get your ministerial credentials.  You simply share what you know about Jesus.  Your story.
 
How Jesus changed your life.  What he means to you.  How he guides you day by day.  How he gives you strength to face your trials and courage to conquer your fears.  How he found you in your sin and gave you a brand new life.  Your role is not to convince people - that's the Holy Spirit's job.  Your role is to believe in what you believe, to share your story and let people see the change in your life.
 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thinking and doing


There is a big difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it.
We think about witnessing - but are we sharing our faith?
We think about ministering in the church - but do we step out and actually participate?
We think about reaching out to our neighbor and do something nice for them - but do we take the time to do so?
We think about praying (and know it is the right thing to do) but we don't pray.
There is a big difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it.
And here's what I know:  Many times we are content and self-congratulatory over just thinking about what we should be doing without actually doing it.
Let me explain.
The Comedian Louis CK has a routine in which he jokes about having the impulse to give up his first class airline seat to a soldier.
Louis CK says, "[Service men and women] always fly coach. I've never seen a soldier in first class in my life … And every time that I see a soldier on a plane I always think, You know what? I should give him my seat. It would be the right thing to do, it would be easy to do, and it would mean a lot to him … I never have, let me make that clear. I've never done it once … And here's the worst part: I was actually proud of myself for having thought of this. I am such a sweet man. That is so nice of me, to think of doing that and then totally never do it."
Isn't that so "human" of us?
Yet in June of 2014 - someone did just that.  Oscar nominated actress Amy Adams actually acted on that thought.
Boarding a flight Friday from Detroit to Los Angeles where she was shooting a new movie, Adams noticed an American soldier being seated in coach. She decided to do something that she's always just thought about doing.
Jemele Hill, a reporter for ESPN and a fellow first class passenger, witnessed Adams quietly asking the airline crew permission to switch seats with the soldier, whom she didn't know.
Adams moved back to coach, and the surprised soldier, who didn't know who his benefactor was, moved up to first class. Hill immediately got the word out on Twitter, and after their arrival in L.A. Adams told reporters, "I didn't do it for attention for myself. I did it for attention for the troops."
What a great example of walking the walk versus talking the talk.
If I remember right the phrase is not, "just think it," but "just do it."
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
 
About vacations I always say, "It is good to get away - and - it is good to get home."
 
I was very grateful for the way the Lord moved in both services yesterday.
 
The first and second services were different (in the way the Holy Spirit led us) but both were powerful and effective.
 
God is pleased when He sees His people worshipping Him - many falling on their face before Him.
 
What a wonderful way to begin our series in the book of Acts!
 
I am extremely grateful for the excellent staff that God has pulled together for us at Stone Church.  Brian, Charlie and Aldin are doing an excellent job in ministry!
 
Don't forget the following announcements:
 
August 3, 2014:  One service.  10:30 A.M.  (Prayer will begin at 10:00 A.M.)  Please plan on staying past the 12:00 P.M. hour - allowing God to move in your life.
 
I will be ministering on the passage found in Acts 2:1-13.  The topic:  "What's all this stuff about tongues?"  We are prayerfully anticipating a moving of the Holy Spirit that will be life changing for we as individuals and for our church! 
 
August 5, 2014:  Tuesday evening prayer meetings begin.  6:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.
 
God distinctly laid this on my heart:  We as a people of God are to pray.  We desire to pray.  "Just" pray.  Two pastors will be attending the prayer meeting to pray for needs (I will be there each week - the rest of the pastors will be rotating). 
 
August 17, 2014:  New services times begin.  First service:  9:00 A.M.  Second service:  11:00 A.M.
 
Why the new service times?  Primarily because our desire is that the first service see numerical growth (Our second service, Praise God, is ready for us to start another service).  In other words, to start a third service, the first service needs to see more people coming.
 
Part of the solution to that is pushing back the starting time a half an hour.  I am told that this makes it a lot easier on families with small kids.  The 30 minute window is important in preparing to come to church. 
 
We prayerfully hope to be starting a third service by September, 2015 (whether that will be on Sunday morning or on a Saturday night - To be determined).
 
I just want you to know that I am desiring the presence and the power of God in us - so that we might reach our area for Christ.
 
It's all about Jesus - and it is all about sharing our faith to others.
 
My heart is full.  I want more of God - how about you?
 
Love you all......
 
 
 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I don't know

As I get older, one of the things I know is this:  The more I know - the more I realize I don't know.
 
Starting as a young pastor in 1980, I wanted to give off the impression I knew everything (like a college sophomore). 
 
Now I realize how much I don't know.
 
So many Christians think they know everything there is about the Christian faith.  Nothing is new.  It's all, "been there done that," in their walk with Christ.

There is a feeling of having arrived.

Nothing could be further from reality.

For one thing, no one has ever "arrived" in the faith.  No one can reach a point where every experience has been experienced, every doctrine solved and understood, every verse in the Bible translated, parsed and comprehended.

Many times we just have to say, "I don't know," and either remain comfortable with that fact - or continue to seek out answers to the question.

(At this stage I am comfortable in saying, "I don't know - why don't you google that.")  :)

Over my vacation, I read a book entitled, "Think Like A Freak," by economists Steven Levitt and Stephan Dubner.

They write:
 
"It has long been said that the three hardest words to say in the English language are I love you. We heartily disagree! For most people, it is much harder to say I don't know." They point to the following experiment as one of the many ways that we won't admit "I don't know":
 
Imagine you are asked to listen to a simple story and then answer a few questions about it. Here's the story: A little girl named Mary goes to the beach with her mother and brother. They drive there in a red car. At the beach they swim, eat some ice cream, play in the sand, and have sandwiches for lunch.
 
Now the questions:
  1. What color was the car?
  2. Did they have fish and chips for lunch?
  3. Did they listen to music in the car?
  4. Did they drink lemonade with lunch?
How'd you do?
 
Let's compare your answers to those of a bunch of kindergarteners, who were given this quiz by researchers. Nearly all the children got the first two questions right ("red" and "no").
 
But the children did much worse with questions 3 and 4.
 
Why? Those questions were unanswerable—there wasn't enough information given in the story. And yet a whopping 76 percent of the children answered these questions either yes or no.
 
Kids who try to bluff their way through a simple quiz like this are right on track for careers in business and politics, where almost no one ever admits to not knowing anything. [But it's a shame we can't humbly admit our ignorance], for until you can admit what you don't yet know, it's virtually impossible to learn what you need to."
 
Good stuff. 
 
The next time you are asked a question you don't know the answer to - just reply, "I don't know," and rest well at night.
 
Just a thought for a Thursday. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Your tongue and the Holy Spirit


What is the door into your life?
Your  mouth.  What you say.
Your words can bring life - or your words can bring death (Proverbs 18:21).
There is power in your words.
The ability to speak is part of being a human being.  Animals do not use rational speech.  Apes do not either, despite what the movie shows.
If your dog or cat were to say to you, "It's a nice day, isn't it?" and proceed to hold a conversation like Mr. Ed. You would probably say, "Why, you're not an animal, you are a person!"
But we abuse our ability to speak as we misuse and abuse the other gifts that God has given us.
The Book of James says that the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity," that needs to be tamed, and that it is like the bit that guides the whole horse or the rudder that steers the ship.
In other words, if you control the tongue, you control the whole person.
You open up the possibility of entering into the holy of holies.
Zephaniah 3:9 states that in the last days God will turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord."
When you speak words from the Holy Spirit, you are letting Him tame your tongue and gain a new level of control over your whole personality.
The voice is your chief means of expression.
How can you speak of total surrender to God if you haven't surrendered your most important means of expression?
It would be like one country surrendering got another while keeping control of the radio and television facilities.
Until  your tongue is tamed, your ability to verbalize and rationalize is a barrier to the moving of the Holy Spirit in your life.
If you let the Holy Spirit freely guide your voice, there will be a break through which permits him to flow forth from where he is living in your spirit, to fill, to baptize, to flood and overflow your soul and body and minister to the outside world.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Freedom in the home

Parents, here's what I know:
 
You can create an atmosphere of freedom in your home.
 
Let me share with you quickly how.
 
Teach them well.
 
One of the principles I teach is that much more is "caught" than "taught".  But do not rely on this principle alone!
 
No child just naturally knows how to live in a way that brings freedom to themselves or others - some things need to be taught as well as caught.
 
I would suggest that you never assume that your children will "pick up" what is right or wrong - even in church - but take up the mantle of teaching your children spiritual things well.
 
Your child's primary spiritual leader/pastor is you!
 
And while I am thinking about it - it is never, never too early to begin their spiritual moral and social training.
 
Someone once wrote, "God's commandments are like the owner's manual for the proper living of life."
 
God says that (read Deuteronomy 11:18-21) if we will teach our children to respect, honor and live by His laws (owner's manual) then we can expect the following blessings for ourselves and for them:
 
Both our lives and the lives of our children will be long.
Our days on earth will be like those of heaven.
 
Live out the ways of God.
 
This is the "caught" part.
 
Living a life of obedience before our children speaks volumes.
 
One suggestion:  Have communion in your home once a week.  There is power in sharing the Lord's table with your children. 
 
Let worship be a part of that practice.
 
Explain the why and how of dealing with spiritual issues, elevating the depth of the truth as they grow older (and hopefully wiser).
 
Finally, (and there are many more), if your child (children) does come in contact with an ungodly influence (through a T.V. show or a movie or book), use that as a tool to understand God's ways in contrast to man's ways. 
 
I would encourage you to minimize the times that your children are watching T.V. alone - you never know what comes up in today's culture. 
 
As one author put it, "the key is for parents to watch TV programs and videos with their kids, helping them to understand God's way in contrast to what they have just seen or heard."
 
I understand those who are home-schooling their children in and effort to protect them from the evils of society.  But even in the homes of reasonably dedicated Christians there can be a lapse in moral and spiritual standards no matter how hard you as a parent try to protect them.
 
The positive side of that is that you can, again, use it as a teaching time to explain what is right and wrong.
 
Just a thought for a Tuesday.
 
 
 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Being like Nathan (Christ)

I talk a lot about "surrendering our entire lives" to God - acting like Christ.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone really understands what that means (including myself).

Are there really people in the world that are selfless enough to be like Christ?

There are.

Francis Chan in his book, "Crazy love," writes about a man by the name of Nathan Barlow.  Nathan was a medical doctor who chose to utilize his skills in Ethiopia for more than sixty years (and I am quoting Francis Chan here). 

Nathan dedicated his life to helping people with mossy foot.  Mossy foot is a debilitating condition primarily found in rural districts, on people who work in soil of volcanic origin.  It causes swelling and ulcers in the feet and lower legs.  The subsequent deformity, swelling, repeated ulceration, and secondary infection make people with mossy foot social outcasts equivalent to lepers."

Francis Chan writes, "I met Nathan shortly before he died.  His daughter, Sharon Daly, attended my church and brought him to her home from Ethiopia when his health started to fail.  After only a few weeks, he couldn't handle being in the States.  The people he loved were still in Ethiopia, so his daughter flew him back home so he could spend his last days there.

Once, Nathan got a toothache, the pain of which was so intense that he had to fly away from the mission field to get medical attention.  Nathan told the dentist that he didn't ever want to leave the mission field for the sake of his teeth again, so he had the dentist pull out all of his teeth and give him false ones so he wouldn't slow God's work in Ethiopia.

This amazing man was the first to help these outcasts, and he spent his life doing it.  yet he died quietly, without a lot of attention; no one really knew about him.

Finally, Chan writes, "It surprised me that such a man of God would faithfully serve for so many years, despite minimal recognition.  It is a beautiful thing to witness."
 
What an amazing, crazy love for God. 

Am I that kind of servant? 

Are you that kind of servant?

Here's what I know: God is probably not calling you to go to Ethiopia, but he is calling all of us to lay aside ourselves, serve others as Christ has served us - and do what we can to make this planet a better, holier place.

Just a thought for a Monday.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Your child's bent

Sunday morning I will mention (almost in passing) the wonderful verse found in Proverbs 22:6:  "Train up a child in a way that he should go."

In other words, raise your children in the "bent" that they have.  Each child has a particular bent, a set of characteristics created by God.  That bent is the result of the child's temperament, spiritual gifts, interest, physical qualities, and talents.

It is unique to that child. 

We all have ways that we would like our child to go - the direction we have for them; but at the end of the day we must find out their "bent" and train them and raise them to "be all that they can be" in that area of life.

For instance, you may love the arts, your child might love sports.  Your "bent" may be toward math, your child's "bent" might be toward history.

You might love reading, "your child might find reading tedious but might be wired toward science."

A key principle is this:  Don't raise the child in the way you want them to go (fulfilling your unfulfilled dreams and aspirations) but raise them in the direction they are equipped, created and wired by God to go.

The question becomes, "How do you do that as a parent?"

A few suggestions:

First of all, pray.  So simple and obvious, but so needed. 

You can pray something like:

"Father, we know that you have given us this child to raise.  We thank you for that - in fact we praise your for the opportunity to disciple this gift that you have given us. 

We now dedicate him to you, placing him/her in your hands.  We dedicate ourselves to raising him/her right - doing the best we can in raising them in the way "they should go."  Please help us understand this child.  Give us the wisdom we need to be good parents who will raise him/her right.  Amen."

Secondly, watch and observe your child.  Watch what their likes and dislikes are.  See how they interact with other children while doing certain activities.

Proverbs 20:11,12 points out the importance of watching (with the intent of finding our your child's bent), "the good or bad that children do shows what they are like.  Hearing and seeing are gifts from the Lord."

Finally, listen.  James Dobson writes, "parental insensitivity is the number one reason for the causes of an unhappy home."

What do they talk about the most?  Be sensitive to what makes them sad or happy.  What they like to talk about or not talk about.

Find out the answers to the following questions (all from the book Breakthrough parenting by John Maxwell - I recommend this book to all parents):

What gives my child joy?  Who is my child's hero?  What does my child fear most?  Which activities give my child energy?  Which ones wear my child out?  If my child could pick one activity for me to do with him or her, what would it be?  What music does my child like?  What does my child want to be when they grow up?

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Getting more than you bargain for

Sometimes we get more than we bargain for.
 
You want what you want and then when you get it - it can blow in your face.
 
I read a story today about Stuart Moffatt who woke up on the Saturday before Easter, loaded up his wife and three kids in the family car, and headed to the annual Easter Egg Hunt in the British town of Holford, Somerset.
 
About 25 children participated in the egg hunt in the field beside the busy road. As the hunt was drawing to an end, the parents began counting the gathered eggs to see if all had been found.
 
Stuart looked out and noticed a three-year-old little boy had wandered out toward the road, and had apparently found another egg.
 
Not recalling placing an egg that close to the road, Stuart walked out to the child, who was now standing on top of the egg. Impressed that the egg did not crack, Stuart walked up and noticed the egg was oddly shaped and textured. It wasn't until he knelt beside the little boy, still standing on top of the egg, that Stuart realized it was not an egg at all. It was a hand grenade.
 
In fact, it was a live, fully-functional World War 2 grenade. Stuart picked the boy up off the grenade and backed away. A bomb disposal unit was called in, and destroyed the grenade in a controlled explosion.
 
I know you will agree with me that we can't fault the child.
 
After all, it looked like an Easter egg, and Easter eggs were what he was looking for. But, sometimes, you get more than you bargained for.
 
What you see looks like what you want, feels like what you want. But when you get it, the results can be explosive.
 
Ask yourself today:
 
Have I prayed about that which "I have to have?"
 
Have I sought counsel from others?
 
Do I feel a peace in my spirit?
 
Have I considered the consequences both to myself and to my family?
 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Generosity and life

I really like to hang around generous people.
 
People who give of their time.
 
People who give of themselves.
 
People who share of themselves as they really are.
 
People with whom you "don't have to watch what you say," all the time.
 
People who take me "as is, as I am," with all my strengths and weaknesses.
 
People who are generous with forgiveness.
 
People who are generous with mercy.
 
People who are generous with their time.
 
People who will stop and have a cup of coffee with you no matter what "pressing matter" they have - just to talk about the things of life.
 
Generosity doesn't always have to do with money.
 
Generosity can affect our every day lives - especially in our relationships with one another.
 
Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac.  The servant came upon Rebekah who was drawing water from a well.
 
The servant approaches the well and says, "please put down your pitcher that I may drink."  And Rebekah says, "Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink."
 
In other words, I am going to give you water, but I am also going to go the extra mile and water your camels.
 
This was no small offer.  It wouldn't be like giving a dog a drink.  The servant had ten camels, each of which could drink twenty gallons of water. 
 
So, if the calculations are correct: 
 
10 camels at 20 gallons each = 200 gallons.
 
200 gallons drawn with a 5 gallon jar = 40 trips
 
40 trips at (a conservative) 3 minutes each = 2 hours.
 
That's generosity!
 
That is going the extra mile!  That's saying, "I'm going to do what you ask of me - and then I am going to do something more."  (As one version put it - "And then some.")
 
Here's what I know about generosity:
 
When you and I give generously, we receive more than we would ever think possible in return.
 
As I forgive, I receive forgiveness.
 
As I show mercy, I receive mercy.
 
As I give of my time, others give of their time to me.
 
But also:  As I am generous, it outlives me.
 
I think back over time to those who took the time to speak truth in my life.  Their time.  Their time became my time.  Those who coached me.  Those who overlooked my faults and loved me.
 
And now they are with Jesus.   One of those "type folks" passed away two weeks ago.  I miss him.
 
You see, in your moment of generosity, please know that your actions will affect the lives of others in the future in ways that you could not even imagine.
 
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

It was great having all of the "RFKC" people in with us in the second service - green shirts and all.

Ministry to children - priceless.

I would ask that we all be in prayer for the RFKC ministry team this week - and for the children attending.

Lots of rain the past few days - not to be corny or anything - but I am praying that God will "rain" upon us with His Holy Spirit!

Let it rain, Lord!

Let us sense your presence in our church in an even more powerful way!  Let the "grass of our lives" become greener and greener through a move of your Holy Spirit!

Debbie and I had lunch yesterday with a newer couple to our church family.  Great conversation.  Good food.  Nothing better.

I love to hang out with people who are on "fire for God" and want more of Him - in order to share "Him" with others!

You are, or you become like those you hang around.

The song, "We believe" continues to resonate in my spirit.

We are praying that this fall will be the greatest fall for Stone Church that we have had in recent memory.

Just about the time you might feel like giving up - God will step in and take you to victory - if you let Him.

Life is not about me - life is about God.

One more Sunday to go in Genesis.  We will begin Acts in mid-July.

We plant the seeds, we water, but at the end of the day - it is God who brings the increase.

Can I ask you a question:  Would you consider inviting and bringing someone to come to one of our Sunday morning services in the next few weeks?

Most people come to Christ through a friend.

The sequence is Pray.  Invite.  Bring.  Follow-up.

You are needed.  You are loved.  You are appreciated.  That is God's Word to you today.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Walk in the confidence that you are a child of God.

Love you all......

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Andy Griffith and the world

Every so often, as I am "channel surfing" I will land on the Andy Griffith show and watch an episode. 

Nothing will brighten up my day more than Andy solving one of the world's problems in his calm, rational, serene way.

In one episode, Andy, (as the sheriff of Mayberry) is out of town.  His deputy, Barney Fife, is in charge, and he has deputized the local mechanic who is named Gomer (Jim Nabors). 

The two deputies are walking down the street one evening when they notice that someone is robbing the town's bank.  They hide the car.

They are afraid and don't know what to do.

Finally, Gomer looks at Barney and says, excitedly, "Shazam!  We need to call the police."

In utter exasperation, Barney shoots back:  "We are the police!"

In the body of Christ, I hear people articulate that somebody needs to:

Pray.

Witness.

Grow the church.

Win our community for Christ.

Pray.

Bring unity to the body of Christ.

Work in the nursery.

Minister on the worship team.

Pray.

Fix up something around the church.

Work with teenagers.

Pray.

Give to the church.

See the building fund paid off.

Do something about abortion.

Pray.

Work with foster care children.

Start a life group.

Pray.

Care for the needy.

Reach out to the hurting.

Make Stone Church a place where people belong, grow and service.

Pray.

Grow the church numerically.

Feed the homeless.

Reduce crime.

Stem the tide of sexual perversion in our country.

Minister to men.

Minister to women.

Pray.

All of these are well and good.

But:  perhaps the person to do that (or at least participate in reaching the needs I mentioned above) is you

"We are the police," Barney cried out.

And I say, "We are the church!"  "You are the church."

Perhaps we all need to stop today and think through what element of life, society and our church that we can participate in - and see great things happen for God.

And maybe, just maybe, the responsibility for all of the above lies not with that "other person" but with me - and with you.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nurturing my relationship with the Holy Spirit

Like any relationship in life, our relationship with the Holy Spirit must be nurtured - daily.

In my relationship with Debbie, there are highs and lows - and I must do everything I can, each day, to draw closer to her - day by day.

It is the same with the Holy Spirit.

Here's what I know:  Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is daily.  Moment by moment.  Hour by Hour.

Here are some suggestions on how you and I can nurture our relationship with the Holy Spirit (daily):

Read God's Word.  Read God's word, but also take the time to let it speak to you.  It is not so much "how much you read," as "how much has God spoken to me through His Word?"

Have a meaningful conversation with God.  A good prayer guide would be your hand.  The thumb represents people who are nearest your heart - begin praying for them.  Then move on to the index finger or those who are an example and point the way - pray for them.  Next, the middle finger or those who are in places of temporal and spiritual authority.  The next finger, my weakest, are those in great need and vulnerability - pray for them.  And finally, the little finger, me - the smallest and the least.  Just a suggested prayer pattern.

Get rid of all sin, bitterness or unforgiveness.  I must daily (are you catching a theme here - daily) cleanse my soul from emotional impurities that have been allowed to "clog up" my relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Each night as I go to sleep, I must seek to do so with a clear conscience.

Be open to God's speaking to you throughout the day.  Pause, and ask, "Holy Spirit, what would you like to say to me?"

Seek to encourage or help someone whose need is greater than yours (reference the Good Samaritan - Luke 10:30-37).  I must rise above my concerns to enter in to the concerns of others.

Live one day at a time.  I can't be empowered to live the future unless I am empowered to live today.  Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not yet here, today is all we have.

Give myself, my total self to God for the day, each day.

Out of this daily relationship with the Lord flows the quality of life in which a connection to the Holy Spirit is nurtured and strengthened.  Out of that daily connection come the fruit of the spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

A nurtured relationship with the Holy Spirit - daily.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.