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Monday, September 15, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

It was our privilege to have Jacob Jester with us yesterday - a church planter/evangelist in Phoenix, Arizona.

What a joy it is to see the kingdom of God advancing with a line of dedicated, godly men and women!

God is on the move - let's all commit ourselves to being a part of it!

Thanks to Pastor Charlie for bringing Jacob to us for ministry.

Great worship yesterday.

As I stood in the chapel, what a joy it is to a pastor's heart to see people with hands lifted; worshipping God!

September is one of my favorite times of year in church life.  People are back from vacations, the foyer is buzzing with our church family connecting, ministry is humming on all cylinders.

I love it!

We appreciate you coming to our worship services on Sunday morning.

For those who are new and checking us out - we would hope that you continue to do so!

Ministry is all about people - drawing people to Christ; and leading them into a closer walk with God.

Our goal is not to be a "mile wide" and an inch deep - but deep in the things of the Lord - with the anticipation that as we grow deeper in the Lord we will reach out to others with the good news of Christ.

I (with intentionality) spent time in going to all of out adult bible classes; connecting with them.

It was with great delight that I saw the Bible being taught in a powerful way!

Congratulations to all of your Chicago Bears fans.  What a comeback win!

People need the Lord.

People need Jesus.

It is all about Jesus.

This past Saturday, we started our "men of integrity" group.  Great group of men committed to "being all that they call be in Christ."

Love you all.......

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Going to your strengths

When I was young, I was taught this phrase (from culture):  "You can be anything you want to be."  "You can do anything you want to do if you just try hard enough."
So the idea was to work on your weaknesses to "build yourself" up enough to obtain those goals that you set for yourself.
Over the years, however, I have learned that I simply can't be "anything I want to be."  All I can be is myself - and achieve those goals (God's plan for my life) within the confines of who I am - and what I can do (with the help of the Holy Spirit).
All I can do is to be more of who I already am - and create an environment with myself - where I will constantly go to my strengths - rather than beating myself down over my weaknesses.
As a youngster, I thought I would make the NBA.  But it became very apparent in the 9th grade that it was just not going to happen.  I wasn't tall enough, quick enough or fast enough.
I've always wanted to sing as a soloist or in a group - but some of us are just not born with a voice that is not appealing to others.
So what do I do?  Do I sit and lament very day that I am not in the NBA?
Do I lay awake at night worrying about the fact that I will never win a competition like, "The Voice?"
No, I go to my strengths
I use what God has given me - and ask His Holy Spirit to anoint.
I can't do everything (as a pastor) - I can only do what I can do - and bring people along side of me who can fill in the gaps.
I encourage you to get your eyes off of what everybody else is doing and refocus on what God wants to do in your life.
When I focus on God's plan for me, competition becomes irrelevant.   Your strengths compliment my weaknesses and vice versa.
A great prayer to pray today is:  "God, turn me away from wanting any other plan than Yours."  Psalms 119:37
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


None of us likes rats.
They are pests.  They get in - in the most unlikeliest of places.
If left unchecked, they can grow bigger by the day - ruining everything in their path.
What is your "rat" today?
What is that besetting sin (rat) that you are dealing with?
What is it in your life that is waiting in hiding to destroy everything in your spiritual home?
And the most important question today - what can you and I do to set rid of those rat(s) in our walk with Christ?
In the early days of aviation, Frederick Handley Page of England was one of the pioneers.  The story is told of how he once was flying alone in one of the early small planes when he detected a disturbing sound behind him in the cargo area.
He soon realized it was a rat, gnawing on the plane's control cables - a disaster just waiting to happen.
This was in the days before autopilot, so he couldn't just leave the controls and go back and kill the rat.  So what did he do?
What he did is a great spiritual lesson for us today - as we deal with those "things in our lives" that bring us down spiritually.
Page remembered that if he could gain sufficient altitude, the decrease in oxygen would be fatal for the rat.
So immediately, he flew the plane higher and higher and higher - and eventually he no longer hear the gnawing sound from the rat.
Later, after safely landing, he found the rat - dead.
If you have something gnawing at your life - something emotional, something spiritual - it is trying to bring you down and destroy you - if you've got rats on board your spiritual plane - the first step is ridding yourself of them is to go higher and higher and higher in God.
Paul writes in Colossians 3:2, to, "set your minds on things that are above."
Let your spirit and your soul spend time in the presence of God - and as we used to sing, "the things of this earth will grow strangely dim - in the light of his glory and grace."
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Keeping your eye on the prize

I have found myself getting bugged lately, by "little things."
That is just not very wise.
A major part of achieving anything in life is keeping your "eyes on the prize".
I was reading today an example of this from the book, "Off Balance on Purpose," by Dan Thurmon.
He writes about tightrope walkers who display amazing feats of balance on a high wire - they are called funambulists.
He writes that these daredevils are constantly making small, critical adjustments, lifting their free leg as a counter weight, raising and lowering arms, adjusting their high-wire pole. 
A good funambulist is never truly at rest or "on balance." 
Thurmon writes, "They are perpetually off balance:  making adjustments that bring (them) through a point of balance, only to readjust on the other side.  Most of these movements are so subtle that they are imperceptible to the audience."  They make it look effortless.
So how do they keep their balance?
Listen to this - it's huge - it is a word for you today.
Thurmon writes, "When new students step onto the rope or cable - they almost always begin with the same flawed game plan.  They stare downward at the wire to ensure that they have the proper footing.  As so they fall - So what is the solution to this dilemma?  If you have ever closely watched professional tightrope walkers, you may recall that they never look down at their feet or the wire or to either side at their hands (or the balance pole).  Rather, they keep their head up and look forward toward the goal - the faraway platform - in front of them."
Wow - great words.
What are you trying to achieve today?  Keep your eye on the goal.  Don't let the "barking dogs" around you demand your attention.  Focus on the majors and not the minors.  Keep on going - with the help of God.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
If you feel you have no place in life - why not come to our church campus on a Sunday morning and check us out?
Christianity is the "good news" of God.
Let's (as believers) be more defined by what we are for than what we are against.
We need to speak the truth in love.  We also need to speak words of encouragement.
Both are needed in the church.
How do you deal with that toxic person in your life?  
Let me review:
Know that their toxicity is not about you.  Hurting people hurt people.  Hurting people hurt easily.
Don't let their bondage become your bondage.
If possible, disconnect and let them go.  More than getting the approval of others (and spending all of your time trying to do so) hook into God.  Seek God's approval - and just maybe everything else will fall into place.  (Again, we are not speaking of the marriage relationship).
Don't play the toxic person's game.  They love to argue and quibble.
Perhaps the biggest one is to set boundaries.  Don't let anyone enslave you to their expectations.
Do only what you can do (with God) and be at peace about the rest.  Even Jesus didn't heal everyone on the planet when he was with us in bodily form.  He did what he could with the time he had.
Beautiful evenings in Chicago now.  Fall is coming.
Can I share this with you?  Thanks for coming to our Sunday services.  I also encourage you to bring a friend.
Dallas Cowboys.  Oh my.  They looked really bad yesterday.  Again - you heard it here first:  3-13 for the year.
I am looking forward to attending the men's life group this evening.  Their name?  "Man up".  I like that.  We as men are to step up and be the men of God he has called us to be.
God is reminding me to focus on the majors and not on the "minors" of church life.  Help me God today, in this endeavor.
Don't forget - prayer meeting tomorrow evening at 6:30 P.M.
Love you all.......

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
While circumstances, people and life in general are filled with ups and downs - Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever.
We need that constant in our lives - I need that constant in my life.
Whatever you are going through today - know that in the midst of all of the darkness - God is light.  I encourage you to hang on to that light.
You are going to make it!
Have hope!  Holding On Praying Expectantly!
I really like summer - but I also like the fall; for that signals a return of the church family to our campus. 
God is doing a great thing!  A new thing!
I am thankful for a great staff - Brian, Charlie and Aldin.
If you think of it - and see them in the hallways - stop them and share with them how much you appreciate them!
Picnic:  Great food; events for the kids; beautiful weather; connecting with the church family:  priceless.
A huge "thank you" to everyone who helped out.  Thanks for all of your time, hard work and effort in making our annual church picnic such a success!
Would you consider inviting someone to a Sunday morning service or to a life group this  month?
Most people come to Christ through a friend.
Let's all pray for the events that are happening in the Ukraine, Syria and Iraq.
Jesus is coming soon:  We are as close to the rapture as we have ever been!
If you are struggling with some "gray area" of life - and your walk with God - following this:  "When in doubt - leave it out."
The NFL starts this Sunday - meaning fall is not far behind.
Don't forget our church prayer meeting this evening, 6:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.
Life groups:  check it out!
Love you all........

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Holy Spirit Joy

One of my daily prayer requests to God is that we as a church family will experience a Holy Spirit joy in our journey together.
Here's what I know:  When God's spirit moves - God's people are filled with joy.
A sense of God's peace arrives.  A sense of godly encouragement fills our hearts.
We no longer focus on the minors - but focus on Jesus.
We leave the petty things behind and become obsessed with the purpose that God has for us.
The Bible is very direct about this:  Deuteronomy 28:47-48 tells us that "Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things:  therefore you shall serve your enemies."
The children of Israel went into captivity because they did not serve God joyfully.
The people of God were submitted to many yokes of bondage because they did not cultivate a joyful heart in serving God.
Joy is the antidote to both legalism and license (Legalism meaning an obsession with rules; license meaning an irresponsible use of freedom).
God longs for us to serve him with joy!
Jesus said that we are to experience his joy (John 15:11) and joy more abundantly.
God's joy is not the same as happiness.  Happiness is based on "happenings" in my life.  God's joy looks not at my circumstances but at Jesus.  Our bondages are broken.  We are set free.
As God moves in the next few months and years - let's let a heavenly joy overtake our spirits.  Let's rejoice together in worship; let's encourage one another with the consistent truth that God is in control.
In short:  Let's as God for a baptism of joy!
BTW - it's okay to laugh in church!
Can I get an "amen" with this thought:  We have lived a sour Christianity long enough.  When God moves upon us with a fresh touch, my prayer is that we are going to be so happy that we will draw people in - who are looking for joy.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Saying no to the flesh

I often quote the scripture (one of my favorites):  "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."  (Galatians 5:16
As I walk in the Spirit, I become dead, D.E.A.D to the temptations of the flesh - and dead men/women can't be tempted!
One disclaimer today or rather one word of explanation about this verse.  Paul doesn't say that if you walk by the Spirit you will not have the desires of the flesh (the "flesh" being your sinful nature that wants to sin) - but only that you won't gratify them or give in to them.
Sometimes the enemy of our souls (the devil) will pound at us with the idea that, "If you were really a spiritual Christian, you wouldn't even want to do this sin."
But don't be surprised by that thought or upset and frustrated. 
Don't get frustrated because your flesh keeps wanting to do what's wrong.
Your flesh will keep wanting to gratify its desires until the day you die.
And the flesh is extremely experienced and good at it. 
Your flesh will say, "you've got to have it," and you begin to feel that way.
Although you will continue to have fleshly desires, the Holy Spirit's promise is that even now you can have the full power of God to say no to them.  You can tell your flesh what to do instead of the flesh telling you what to do.
Finally, put the proverbial "cart before the horse" with this verse."
You don't try to put the flesh to death so you can walk in the Spirit; rather, you walk in the Spirit, which give you power and victory to overcome the desires of the flesh.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The importance of Sunday morning worship

I love the church.
I really do.
I really like our church with all of its strengths and weaknesses.
One of my favorite aspects of church life is when we gather together on a Sunday morning for worship.
I can't wait for Sundays.
Many times sleep comes and goes on a Saturday evening because I am so excited for Sunday morning.
Please know this:  Sunday mornings are important and we must guard Sunday mornings for worship as a church family.
Here's what I know:  the church is not meeting together on a golf course for relationship.  The church is not a parachurch ministry where we all gather together on a Sunday morning to "do" the work of God - outside of the church campus - no matter how sincere we might be.
We must never let go of the fact that one major part of the church is when the people of God gather together on a Sunday morning to worship him, corporately and together.
It is becoming a disconcerting trend in our churches across the country to "do" ministry outside the church on a Sunday morning - when the people of God are called to gather together to lift up the name of Jesus.
We see that in the secular realm where ball games and soccer games and other events are now routinely scheduled on a Sunday morning.
And now, we in the kingdom are buying into that - if we are in ministry somewhere outside of our church campus - that is the church.
My plea today is that we continue to guard Sunday mornings as a time when we as the people of God come together to center our lives around Christ.
My plea today is that we continue to put Christ at the center of our lives.
How can you tell that is happening?
You stop worrying.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:6,7, "It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
There's a word for this.  It is the word "worship."
Whenever you focus your life on God, that's called worship.  Whenever you center your life on God that is called worship. 
And worship is the antidote for worry.
If you want to worry less, worship more.  Because if  you worship less - you are going to worry more.
When are supposed to worship?
Leviticus 23:3 states, "You have six days to do your work but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to Me.  No matter where you live you must rest and come together for worship."
God is looking for people who will take time on a Sunday morning and love him.   Those who will minister to the Lord.
Let's never replace ministry for a corporate time of worshipping God - together.
Just a thought for a Tuesday

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

God is doing a "new thing" in our church.

Both services yesterday were filled with a wonderful sense of the presence of God.

Jesus said it best in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled."  The emphasis is on the words, hunger and thirst.  How thirsty and hungry are you for more of God's power and presence in your life?
God always meets you at the level of your expectation.
As you have cravings for certain foods (late in the evening) how much do you crave a deeper connection with the Holy Spirit?
I would ask that you come "hungering and thirsting" each Sunday morning - and let's see what God can do!
If you were healed this past Sunday (or being progressively healed) please let us know at the church.  There is power in testimony!
Walking in spiritual authority is new to some - I trust (and pray) that you are open to that - and exercise your God's given power and authority throughout the week.
What a wonderful visual I had (after I prayed for people) of people standing, sitting and kneeling in praise and worship before God!
May God continue to unleash His Holy Spirit upon us - so that we might go out into the community with God's message.
Church picnic is coming up this Sunday.  One service - 11:00 A.M.  Picnic to follow.
When in doubt - leave it out.
Good advice for someone out there today.
The NFL starts this Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys record this year:  3-13 (you heard it here first).
Kids are going back to school (college).  It's that time of year again.
I encourage all moms and dads to get a routine (rhythm) in their family's life that results in wholeness, balance and health. 
Debbie and I had a great time with the men and women's group yesterday (picnic at a park).  We absolutely love to connect with people who are not only fun to be around - but on fire for God.
God is sending people who want to reach outside the four walls of the church.
I am jazzed.
I am pumped.
I am excited.
Can't wait for next Sunday to get here.
Love you all......

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Who needs faith for healing?

This coming Sunday, I am going to give a teaching from Acts 3:1-12 - concerning the first recorded healing in the early church.  A lame man that began to walk.
One of the questions I will tackle will be (if I get to it) this:  Who need faith for the healing to take place?
Who is the agent of faith? 
The Scriptures give us separate illustrations of the agent of faith being the sick person - intermediaries and the healer.
Sometime is the faith of the sick person that is connected to the healing.
Two blind men (for example) came up to Jesus for healing.  Jesus said in Matthew 9:27-31, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?  When they said yes, Jesus responded, "According to your faith let it be to you."
And they were both healed.
But that is not always the case.  I have been in situations where I didn't have enough faith to pray in faith - in fact I didn't have enough spiritual energy to even pray.
What is needed?  Someone to pray for us, someone with faith - an intermediary.
In Matthew 8, we read the story of the centurion's servant who was healed of paralysis without even knowing Jesus was healing him.  In this case an intermediary, the centurion, had the faith.  Jesus said, "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel (Matthew 8:10)!"
The Bible says, right before Jesus said that that Jesus was astonished at this man's faith.  He was blown away in other words.
But finally (and there are more) is the faith of the healer themselves - as we will see Sunday.
Peter and John approach the lame man at the temple gate and this man didn't expect to be healed - nor were there any intermediaries.
Being healed wasn't even on this lame man's radar.
But Peter was the agent of faith in this case when he said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you:  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."  Acts 3:6
Here's the point:  In different cases God will use different agents of faith (and different methods).
One of the most common (and destructive) errors made in praying for healing is to say to a sick person who is not healed through prayer, "If you only had enough faith, you would get well."
That is not only unbiblical but cruel and inhumane because it adds on unnecessary pain and suffering to the sick person.
Just some thoughts for a Thursday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dead men don't get offended

I am around people all the time who get offended.
To be candid with you, they are a bummer to be around.
You have to walk on egg-shells for fear of saying something that might "offend" them.
Now then, I get it that we are to be gracious and kind and supportive and loving to one another.
But some people just offend easily.
They walk around with a spirit of offense.
They hurt easily - probably because they themselves are hurting.
But here's what I know:  Dead men don't get offended.
Obviously, the guy in the casket can't get any more hurt feelings because he doesn't have any feelings to hurt.  They are dead to self.
What is the solution to carrying around a spirit of offense?
Die to yourself!
We must become totally immersed in the identity and person of Jesus Christ, dying to self and allowing Christ to live through us.
Paul said it well in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is not longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."
Jesus said (Luke 9:23) that if "anyone want to follow me, they must take up their cross daily."
The old nature is what Satan uses to hinder you (Ephesians 2:2,3). 
If you live according to the leading of the flesh, Satan will continue to be able to oppress you with offenses, upset emotions, hurt feelings, not to mention many other problems.
You can't stop offense from coming your way (somebody, somewhere, will say something to hurt you on a daily basis) - but you can eliminate what offenses you feed on.
Die to yourself!  Realize who you are in Jesus!
And then the immunity that you seek from offense will come.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

God calls us to wait upon Him

Here's what I know:
We can't give what we don't have.
It is important that as we minister in God's kingdom - that we spend time in his presence; waiting.
Asking for more of His power in our lives.
We cannot minister or live life in our flesh.
God calls us to wait upon Him.
To walk in the spirit means that I wait upon God.
Jesus in Acts 1:4 said, "Do not leave Jerusalem (and do ministry) but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about (the baptism in the Holy Spirit)."
Waiting on God is not something passive where I sit and a chair and do nothing.
It means you only do what God tells you to do, what God anoints you to do and what God give you permission to do.  Then you don't do anything else until God tells you to do something else.
God calls us to wait upon Him.
Waiting releases the anointing.   Many times as we pray - we talk too much.  Instead we need to go into prayer and humble ourselves by saying, "God, I don't know what to say.  I don't have anything to say that is going to make sense.  If you don't anoint this, it isn't going to get through, so I'm going to wait upon you.  Speak to me, Lord."
And then God's anointing is released. 
Wait upon God before a situation is confronted.
Wait upon God before a person(s) are confronted.
Wait upon God before any endeavor that you attempt that will need the foundation and help of the Holy Spirit.
Many times we think before we speak.
We act before we pause and ask God as to what we should do.
We can get so "full of ourselves" that we go ahead of God's timing and direction.
God's calls us to wait upon him.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Busy week this week!

Family summer blast - we encourage you to bring your children - excellent guest children's evangelist.

Tuesday evening prayer:  6:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.  This week only:  in room 102 (to accommodate the children's activities in the chapel).

Wednesday:  Pastor Eke (from Nigeria) will be sharing.  I am looking forward to hearing about the revival in Nigeria!

Thanks in advance to all of our volunteers who are helping out with the children's emphasis week!   We are grateful for all that you are doing!

I appreciate the way God is moving in our services.  Power of God.  Relationship.  Small groups.  Prayer.  Having the Word of God as our first priority.  Worshipping with freedom. 

These are all statements of our vision - our mission.

But most of all - reaching people for Christ.

Many times God will offend your mind in order to reveal your heart.

God is not concerned about your reputation (in the context of worship).

God will intentionally offend your mind.

It is hard to soar with the eagles when you are flying with turkeys.

Be an eagle this week - don't be a turkey!

Anybody can "gobble, gobble, gobble," but not everyone can soar in the spirit with God.

Invite someone to church this week - I am speaking on healing this week.  Invite the sick, the terminally ill - and let's see what God can do.

Great to hear the "buzz" of relationship between services with the coffee connection time starting back up.

Overheard from a 6 year old in our church, "The donuts are back!"  (Said with emphasis)

Are you sensing that God is up to "something good"?

I love the church - I love our church - and I love you.