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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Listening to God

"You're not listening to me," cries the frustrated teenager to his mom or the angry employer to his employee. "Slow down and listen!"

I wonder if God ever feels that way about us. He speaks and the question becomes, "are we listening?"

Here's a twist on listening that might add to your life today.

The word obedience includes the word audire which means "listening." In other words, when I am obedient to what God commands, that shows that I am really "listening" to His words for my life.

When I see a mature Christian, I see someone who hears the voice of God's spirit in their inner soul and follow through on what He is saying.

The question is not, "is God speaking" but "are we listening," or "are we being obedient to his commands.

What's wonderful about God (and what I struggle with sometimes) is that He is involved, actively present in our lives at all times and all places. God is a God who cares, heals, guides, directs, challenges, confronts, corrects.

God is a God who wants to lead us closer to understanding who He is and who we are.

To be obedient means to be constantly and consistently focused on the presence of God and allow Him to be the source as well as the goal of everything that we think, say and do.

Why not focus on God today - and listen?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The emotions of Jesus

One of the most difficult things for we as followers of Jesus to grasp is not necessarily his divinity, but his humanity.

The fact that Jesus slept, ate, had human bodily functions, was tempted by greed and sex like we are, is very, very unnerving to many.

Here's what I want you to catch. Many times it's not in the divinity of Jesus (or the wonderful fact that he is God) that I receive healing, but in his humanity (or the fact that because he is man, he totally identifies with my needs, wants and hurts.

Let's take as an example the idea of grief and mourning. Jesus mourned. Jesus grieved. Jesus felt the loss of friends and family deeply.

Somewhere, somehow, we have come to believe that when we grief, we need to put on a happy face and not be "unspiritual" by crying or showing our pain. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

Jesus weeps when his friend Lazarus. He weeps when he overlooks the city of Jerusalem, soon to be destroyed. He weeks over all losses and devastations that can possibly fill our hearts.

He grieves with those who grieve and sheds tears with those who cry.

I'm thankful for that today. In your grief, wherever you may be - realize that there is someone who completely understands - and cries with you. His name? Jesus.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

You just don't know do you.

You just don't know do you what's going to happen in your life.

Yesterday, a friend of mine passed away. 73 years old. In apparent good health. Out hunting, doing what he loved to do and he dies and goes to be with Jesus.

I miss him already.

Faithful guy. Never missed a church service. Serve with distinction on our church deacon board. Loving family man. A praying man. A true servant of God.

And he goes to heaven in an instant.

You just don't know do you?

I'm planning of taking Memorial Day off and working in the yard. I'm planning on seeing my daughter graduation ceremony in a couple of weeks. I planning on doing the weddings for my kids, funerals for my mom and dad, and seeing grandkids born and raised.

Maybe I will and maybe I won't.

You just don't know do you.

It's on my heart that you be ready today.

Ready for what you say? Ready for eternal life.

The choices?

Heaven. Hell.

Yes, the do exist. For eternity and eternity is a long, long time.

How can you be ready?

It's on my heart today that you be ready.

Start a relationship with Jesus.

As God for forgiveness for you mistakes and failures.

Pray something like this:

"Jesus, I admit that I have made mistakes in the past and that I need you to have a relationship with God. Come into my life and change me, renew me and restore me. Forgive me. Free me to be the person you want me to be. In your name I pray. Amen."

May you live this day close to God, who created you, and gave His life so that you might have eternal life with Him.

You just don't know do you?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Governing the church

A deal was reached yesterday in the Senate to preserve venerable opposition rights while allowing a vote on some of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees.

Senator John McCain of Arizona is quoted as saying that politicians on both extremes would be "disappointed" with the deal, but insisted the senate and the country would win.

Thus, we find democracy in action. Two opposing sides reach a compromise that benefits both parties.

Is this the way, however, that we are to "govern" in the church?

Let me give you some thoughts from Dr. Richard Dobbins. He writes and I quote:

"Church government is very important. You need to know church government if you intend to be a worker in your church. Churches cannot function as God intends them to if they are not governed as He intends them to be governed.

If those chosen with the ministerial team are not familiar with Biblical forms of church government, they will tend to superimpose worldly organizational forms of government with which they are familiar onto their understanding of how the church should function.

So you're elected to the board. So you become leaders of the men's fellowship. And you think, well, as an American citizen, I know how the American government works. And all of us in the church are Americans, so our church should be a democracy. And the pastor is the president; the board is the senate; and the people are the house of representatives; and the purpose of the people and the board is to keep the pastor's power in check. We want check and balances all the way.

That's a world form of government that will bring division to your church.

Or you may be a businessman. And you say, well, there's no business in the world as great as God's business. So as a businessman, I insist that his church be run like a corporation. The members are the stockholders; and the board's the board of directors; and the pastor is the chief executive officer. And we've got to see that he runs this church for a profit. We want to take a look at the bottom line. Attempt to run your church like a corporation, and you will divide it.

The church is not like the American government; it is not a democracy. In a democracy, there is always the loyal opposition. There is never unity in a democracy. The nature of democracy it to have a powerful minority that is always challenging leadership. You cannot have unity in a democracy. And the church is not a business.

Or, you know, you may have been a union organizer. So you're elected to the board. And you see the pastor as your adversary. Because now, you see, we're in a labor management model. And the board is labor; the people are labor; and the preacher and the staff are management. And we want them to be liberal with the benefits they provide us, or we're going o go on strike and withhold our tithes.

Remember, friends, if you don't run the church God's way, it's going to be a divided church. It doesn't make any difference how bit it gets, it won't have the power it needs to impact your home, your children, your community, let alone this nation and the world.

The church is not a democracy.
The church is not a business.
The church is not labor verses management.

The church is a "theocracy" - The body of Christ, governed by His laws.

The church is a theocracy. It is not a democracy. The corporate management model will not work in the church. The labor/management model will not work in the church. The church is a theocracy.

You say, "I thought sooner or later you were going to say that; that's what the preacher always keeps telling me when he says, ""Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets not harm."

Well, a theocracy is not a people under a preacher. A theocracy is a church to be governed by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the head over all things to the church. The church is not an ecclesiastical dictatorship to be governed by the preacher. The church is no a democracy to be governed by the majority.

It is a theocracy where the pastor and leaders of the congregation may vote form time to time; but in a theocracy voting serves a very different purpose than it does in a democracy. In a democracy, you vote to determine government. IN a theocracy, you vote to determine unity. So that when the pastor and the board vote, the most important thing they are discovering is, do we have enough unity in the church to act on this matter without fractioning the body of Christ?"

Good words from Dr. Dobbins. What are your thoughts?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Enjoying God

A few years ago there was a book written entitled, "Don't sweat the small stuff - and everything is small stuff."

The idea is this: whenever you are stressed out, thinking that situation you are in will never get resolved or be overcome, just ask yourself, "What difference will it all make a thousand years from now?"

Worry is a form of Christian atheism. It says that "if it's to be it's up to me." I must take charge. I must resolve the issue. I must bring about resolution.

Last year Dave Stevens died. Dave was pastor of Eastside Assembly of God in Tucson, Arizona and contracted a deadly cancer. He was a great man, a great pastor.

We had the opportunity to be with Dave one last time in April, 2004 during a family vacation. While we were in Tucson, we visited Eastside Assembly and during the service David Grant spoke and raised (if I remember right) over 30,000 dollars for missions work overseas.

After the service we went to an Italian restaurant and were sitting at a table next to the table where Dave Stevens was sitting with his family and with David Grant.

Dave was dying at this time.

At our table were my family and Debbie's brother and sister-in-law who are new missionaries to China. I was sharing with Doug the different ways that David Grant was effective in his presentation concerning missions, and writing on a paper tablecloth some of the principles I had also learned in raising funds.

While I was writing and talking, Dave Stevens and his family got up to leave and Dave leaned over and saw what I was writing and talking about and the last words I ever remember hearing Dave speak to me were this: "George, can't you just enjoy the blessings of God?"

It spoke to me.

As you fret and worry and get upset over today's activities and worries and fears, don't forget to lean back, take a deep breath and "enjoy the blessings of God." For a moment, don't be a Martha, as when Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are so busy and worried and upset about so many things," but be a Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus and enjoy his presence.

Enjoy your health. Enjoy you family. Enjoy the food on your table. Enjoy the clothes on you back. But most of all, enjoy God.

Why not? It's better than the alternative.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Why can't we all just get along"?

Larry Norman used to sing, "life is filled with guns and war and everyone gets trampled on the floor..."

No matter where you turn these days, people are fighting. Whether it be in an extreme case as in Iraq and other hot spots around the world, or disagreeing over a bill with your mechanic, turmoil is in the air.

With the senate in full uproar over territorial rights and control, (An NBC/WSJ poll reveals "angry electorate" - Voters dissatisfied with Bush, Congress) we are continually a climate of "what's mine is mine, and I am going to keep it." That filters down to every day life.

Jesus teaches us otherwise. He teaches us that it's not "what's mine is mine and I'm going to keep it," or "what's yours is mine, and I'm going to take it," but "what's mine is mine and I am willing to share it," in love.

Rights. Responsibilities. "I have my rights," we say. Yes, we do. But don't we also have a responsibility to leave this world a better place? More loving. More caring. More sincere.

It's a question that bears repeating, "why can't we all just get along?"

I sense the words of Jesus coming into play here, "come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn form me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I encourage you today, spend some time with Jesus.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Breath of God

It is continually amazing to me that God's spirit lives in me as a follower of Jesus Christ. God is a trinity - three in one. He is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for "spirit" is pneuma, which means "breath".

The Spirit of God is like our breath.

Rarely do we notice our breathing on a daily basis unless something is wrong. It is something that is just "there." Yet, who can live without breathing?

In the same way, none of us can live spiritually without the breath of God in our lives.

I need the Spirit of God in me.

Without the Spirit, the "breath" of God in me, it is very difficult to offer gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace and joy.

I encourage you to pray today, "come, Holy Spirit, come in my life."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Trying to stop gossip is like trying to put toothpaste back into a toothpaste holder. It "ain't" goin' work!

No where do we in the kingdom of God struggle more than in this area.

People who gossip and murmur hurt themselves more than anybody else. The bible says murmuring brings disease to the heart and can bring devastating and disastrous consequences.

We not only have a responsibility to curtail our tendencies to gossip, we must also take up our responsibility to not listen to gossip.

When someone tries to contaminate you with their murmuring gossip or gripes, you can stop them with these five questions:

1. What's your reasons for telling me this?
2. Where did you get your information?
3. Have you gone directly to the person?
4. Have you checked out your facts?
5. May I quote you when I check this out?

I would suggest to you that when a gossip realizes you're not going to allow your ears to become their garbage cans, they will stop. And you will go on and have a great day realizing that you have protected someone instead of hurting them.

Let me give you something that you can practice today. Instead of griping or gossiping, why not replace all of the sins of your tongue with thanksgiving.

Paul writes, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit."

Bless that person you might normally gossip about with a prayer of blessing. "Father, I bless (fill in their name)today. May this be a day of peace and prosperity in their life."

here's what I know.


Monday, May 16, 2005

National politics in the church - yes or no?

On the front page of the New York Times yesterday was a story about a Baptist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina. The headline read, "political split leaves a church older and grayer."

The turmoil started last October (near the end of a heated presidential race)when Pastor Chandler told his congregation, "The question then comes in the Baptist Church, How do I vote?"; let me just say this right now, if you vote for John Kerry this year you need to repent or resign. You have been holding back God's church way too long." And he added, "And I know I may get in trouble for saying that, but just pour it on."

The article states, "the split over his comments amounted to more than ordinary congregational squabbling. It involved critical fault lines pitting conservative, and generally older, Democrats of the Old South against younger Republicans, who seemed to be looking to the pulpit for political as well as spiritual guidance."

So the question of the day is: How far should a local church go in promoting the politics of both the city, state or nation?

Is there is balance in the presentation of where we are headed politically in our country? Can you legislate morality?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Mercy or Justice?

Have you ever let someone down? I know I have. In fact, what bothers me even more than other people letting me down is when I do something that lets other people down.

When people wound us we cry out, "how could they - I want justice!" When we wound we plead, "have mercy on me - I am only human!"

Justice. Mercy. Two sides of the proverbial coin.

What do you need today? Justice or Mercy?

I suspect in God's mind that He keeps a close watch on the justice we hand out, and how we do it. Whether we are quick to forgive or not.

And then when we need mercy, he is more than ready and able and willing to help arrange circumstances and people to give mercy to us in our time of need.

And let me tell you this....If you have to choose between the two today - choose mercy. For as the scriptures teach us: "Mercy always triumphs over judgment."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Finding God

I read this headline today, "Archaeologists find 2,000-year-old shoe
Preserved in hollow tree in southwest England."

Finding something that was old, something that is new, something that is lost can be exhilarating experiences.

On several occasions I have found something in the basement that I haven't used in a while, or come across a book or a CD with topics I have never heard discussed.

I have lost luggage in flying, on to find it again.

That raises the question: Does God find me or do I find God? The Bible says that Jesus came to "seek and to save what was lost." It's an awesome thought. God seeks after me. The creator seeking after his creation.

Yet at the same time we find that the Bible says that God "rewards those who earnestly seek him."

God seeks me and then rewards me for seeking him! God finds me and then rewards me for finding him!

So, again, Does God find me or do I find God?

Whatever the case, it is wonderful to be found by God and it is even more wonderful to find Him.

I encourage you to do that today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The value of a dime

In our economic culture dimes aren't worth much. But in life they are worth a lot. I am constantly amazed how our lives can change "on a dime."

One minute life is tranquil, safe and calm, the next, full of anxiety, stress and worry. One event can change a life. One event can change a nation.

Yesterday a Battle Creek police officer was shot and killed not far from where I live. It was a beautiful day yesterday. The officer probably thought of what he was going to do last evening. Maybe take a walk with his wife. Play with his kids. Go watch a movie. But all of that changed "on a dime."

Relationships can change "on a dime." In a moment of chaotic emotional insanity, each of us can ruin a lifelong friendship, whether it be through anger or a word that was spoken.

Our health can "change on a dime." A person goes in for a physical, finds out that he has a life terminating disease, and walks out thankful for the one day that he has.

Why not give your life to God today, "on a dime." Let today be a lifechanging event in your life.

For when my life changes, "on a dime," I want someone who never changes. He's the same yesterday, today and forever. His name - Jesus.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Overcoming the "dailyness" of life

Someone once said that the difficult thing about life is that it is so "daily"!

Many times it's not the crisis of life (stuff happens) that are difficult to handle as the "dailyness" of our time on this planet. I find that there are those who don't have as much difficulty in dealing with events as they do with process.

You get up, go to work, come home, and many times inadvertently fall into patterns of behavior and a routine that leaves you open to at minimum leaving God out of your life and at worst falling away.

I would suggest that it's not so much the blatant temptations that come our way that can bring about a spiritual downslide but the consistency of living without a daily time with God.

Why not do something different today to get out of that routine? Why not drive home a different way, watch a little less television, go to bed at a different time, call a friend, write a letter, and perhaps even read the Bible.

Anything to break you out of your daily routine.

And perhaps something exciting will take place.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A tribute to my mom

This is a tribute to my mom. Why not comment on your mom as well!

Moms are very special people. They gave you birth. They changed your diaper when you needed it changed, they wiped your nose when it needed wiped, and they probably even spanked your bottom when it needed spanked.

They loved you when you needed loving, they put their arms around you when you needed hugging, and they consoled you when you needed consoling.

Erma Brombeck writes in an article entitled: "I Loved You Enough":

You don't love me! How many times have your kids laid that one on you? Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic motivation a mother, I'll tell them:
· I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going and what time you would get home.
· I loved you enough to let you discover your friend was a creep.
· I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your bedroom, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes.
· I loved you enough to ignore what every other mother did or said.
· I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall, hurt and fail.
· I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, not what I wanted you to be.
· Most of all, I loved you enough to say no when you hated me for it.
Some mothers don't know when their job is finished. They figure the longer the kids hang around, the better parents they are.

I see children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you're both breathless...they add a longer tail. You patch and comfort, adjust and teach and assure them that someday they will fly.
Finally they are airborne, but they need more string, and you keep letting it out. With each twist of the ball of twine, the kite becomes more distant. You know it won't be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that bound you together and soar free and alone. Only then do you know you did your job.

I like what Author and preacher Tony Campolo said one time. He said that when his wife, Peggy, was at home full-time with their children and someone would ask, "And what is it that you do, my dear?" she would respond, "I am socializing two Homo sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia that God willed from the beginning of creation."

Then Peggy would ask the other person, "And what do you do?"

Good stuff. Thank God for moms!

I'm thankful for my mom. When I was young, she worked, cleaned the house, cooked and watched over two growing boys, all the while maintaining her sense of humor and sanity.

My mother loves to laugh. She loves to see the humor in situations that can be bleak and negative, and that in itself is a positive in the world that we live in.

My mother loves to be around people. She's at her best in a crowd with friends or family sharing life's events.

My mother has worked hard all of her life - to be a helpmate to my father, and a guide and leader to her children.

My mother loves God. She has served God all of her life.

My mother loves my father. Married 50 years this May. Wow!

I love my mother and I know that she loves me.

I quote verses from Proverbs 31 that describe her:

A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
Many women have done wonderful things,
but you've outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!

Len Sweet in Postmodern Pilgrims recounts a letter a physician wrote to a church-related magazine:

Today I visited an eight-year-old girl dying of cancer. Her body was disfigured by her disease and its treatment. She was in almost constant pain. As I entered her room, I was overcome immediately by her suffering—so unjust, unfair, unreasonable. Even more overpowering was the presence of her grandmother lying in bed beside her with her huge body embracing this precious, inhuman suffering.

I stood in awe, for I knew I was on holy ground. The suffering of innocent children is horrifying beyond words. I will never forget the great, gentle arms and body of this grandmother. She never spoke while I was there. She was holding and participating in suffering that she could not relieve, and somehow her silent presence was relieving it. No words could express the magnitude of her love.

That sounds like my mom.

I love you mom - happy mother's day.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

To be or not to be

I've heard of getting "cold feet" before getting married, but this takes the cake. Jennifer Wilbanks, 32, decides that John Mason is not the guy for her. She runs away, cuts her hair, resurfaces in New Mexico, and shares a wild tale of being kidnapped.

It was false.

People are upset in Duluth, Georgia where she comes from.

Her husband-to-be says that he wants to still marry her. He said that "even though they haven't said their "I do's, his commitment was made the day he bought her ring." He says, "I'm not backing down from that."

Now that's commitment.


Should he marry her if she wants to get married?

Should the authorities in Duluth, Georgia prosecute her?

What do you think?

Monday, May 02, 2005

What is the key? Listen, Listen, Listen

Suffering people are around us all. Whether it's the office we work in or the worker at the gas station taking our money, people are hurting, needing help and love.

I applaud those who want to reach out and help. I appreciate those who are willing to seek out those who are hurting and give them a loving hand.

However, once you have reached out - what to do? The key? Listen, listen, listen.

When you are desiring to enter into complete empathy with someone who is hurting, that does not mean that you share your own suffering with that person, unless asked, or prompted by the Holy Spirit. Speaking about our own hurts seldom helps the person in pain.

I have watched as someone has come to the bedside of a dying individual, and without any kind of sensitivity said something like: "I remember when my Aunt Didi had the same condition and how she died of the same thing."

I cringed.

I quote: "A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds."

True healing comes about by reaching out with a listening ear. By not directing attention to ourselves.

We show our caring through our own listening to others with our whole being. That brings about healing.

I know I appreciate friends in my life who listen without offering any answers.

Why not today, instead of giving pat answers or rote scriptures, simply listen?