Total Pageviews

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Making decisions part deux

I read this and thought it was good stuff:

"How do we make decisions? Do we consider consequences? In Romans 7, Paul speaks of his struggle with knowing what is right and good but yet doing that which is wrong. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus struggled and prayed that God's will would be done. Our lives are a series of decisions. How do we make wise decisions?

1. By using the minds that God has given us. Our minds are a tremendous tool and gift from God. We are to sharpen our minds by thinking analytically and critically in order to make sharp decisions. (Proverbs 18:13, 15, & 17)

2. By praying to God for wisdom and discernment. Wisdom is looking at life from God's eternal perspective and comes from having a respect for God and a growing ability to tell right from wrong. We can be bitter about the unfairness of life or we can instead ask God for wisdom to respond to the unfairness in an appropriate and wise way. (Proverbs 1:7)

3. By praying that God's Holy Spirit will guide us. When we yield to God, He fills us with His Spirit, He guides us and we develop the mind of Christ. If we ask what would Jesus do and how can I honor God in this situation, God will grow within us the self-control and patience to make wise decisions. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through inner promptings and other people. (Ephesians 5:18 & 1 Corinthians 2:14, 15)

4. By praying. Prayer is talking to Jesus and developing intimacy and a relationship with Him. He loves us and listens to us. Prayer is not an exercise in getting but in giving and connecting with God.

5. By doing what is right and good. If we obey Him in all that we know He has asked us to do, He will grow character within us and guide us through the gray, confusing areas of life. We can be confident of this because we know that God is good. In the midst of criticism, we are to stand firm, even if we have to stand alone, not give in to pressure and know that we have done good. Through discipline, decisions become habits. If we make decisions that honor God in all the small areas of our lives, we will develop wisdom and God will give us the ability to make wise decisions in the big areas. (Matthew 5:6)

6. By considering consequences. God has given us a free will. We can not blame our environment or our parents. We are responsible. In Joshua 24, 1 Samuel 14, & Acts 20, the Bible tells of how Joshua, Samuel and Paul sought to live their lives by making right decisions that honored God.

7. By accepting and responding to the grace of God. God's grace, acceptance and forgiveness covers over the poor decisions we have made, gets us back on track, encouraging us to continue on and become people of integrity.

God will guide us as we humbly seek to honor him."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Making wise decisions

I watched last Sunday as Phil Mickelson blew the last hole at the U.S. Open lose the tournament. He needed par, he ended up with double bogey.

At the press conference afterward, he exclaimed, "I am such an idiot." Golf wise, we would all agree. His shot selection choice on the 18th hole was horrible - one that we as amateurs make.

Decisions. Choices. They are so important in life. Sometimes I make good ones. Sometimes I make bad ones.

I have noticed a pattern. When I make a decision hastily, without any forethought, any prayer, any seeking counsel, I tend to make bad decisions.

When I make decisions based on my emotion at the moment, whether it be emotionally high or emotionally low, I tend to make bad decisions.

One thing I do know: A good decision always comes from seeking God's counsel first. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and (then) all these things will be added unto you."

Three quick bullet points:

1. Even if I make a bad decision, God can bring about a "good decision" result. As Paul wrote, "All things (whether they be good or bad decisions) work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose."

2. I learn the most through bad decisions. Bad decisions have a way of teaching us and helping us grow like nothing else.

3. I must never look back. I must learn from my bad decisions, but I must let them go and press on. We must continually look forward (I am so adamant about that, that I even have a hard time putting my car in reverse!).

May Jesus help us all to make good decisions this day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Jesus can meet our every need

It’s a basic fact of human life – we all have needs. Some more than others. Physical needs. Spiritual needs. Emotional needs. Relational needs.

Here’s what I know about God. He never tires or gets weary when we come to Him on a daily basis with our needs. He never throws his hands up in frustration and says, “That’s it, I’ve heard enough. No more me-meeting-your-needs today!”

Wasn’t it Jesus who taught us to pray, “Give us this day our DAILY bread?”

God welcomes our petitions. God welcomes our prayers.

Right after John the Baptist had been martyred, Jesus and his disciples withdrew. It was a traumatic event and they craved some much needed rest and reflection. They needed to regroup their thoughts and feelings.

But the crowds learned the whereabouts of Jesus and followed him.

The Bible says, “He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who needed healing.”

Instead of showing impatience at this interruption, Jesus welcomed the people and ministered to their needs. In the midst of his weariness, Jesus reached out to others.

Where God leads, he provides. He has done that over and over in scripture. He has done that in my life over and over.

Perhaps you’ve heard the song, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” Let me remind you of the words.

“Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely, and long for Heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is he. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me. I sing because I’m happy – I sing because I’m free, for his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

“Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds a-rise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw closer to Him, from care he sets me free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he cares for me, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he cares for me. I sing because I’m happy – I sing because I’m free, for his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

God is ready and more than willing to meet your need today. Come to Him. As Peter writes in First Peter 5:7, “Cast all your cares and anxieties upon Him for He cares for you.”

Monday, June 19, 2006

Reach out and touch Jesus today!

Have you ever wondered to yourself, “How can everyone else seem to be so happy and full of joy when my life is so miserable?”

Others are getting healed, blessed, excited, used of God, bringing people to Christ, prospering and growing in God.

“Where am I missing it?”

Jesus is walking along with His disciples in a crowd so large that the people almost crushed Jesus. A woman who had been sick for 12 years came up behind Him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” Peter had a look of incredulity on his face and said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” In other words, “what do you mean who touched you? You’re in a crowd!”

Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

The woman, seeing she couldn’t go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

The woman was healed because of her faith. She was healed because she reached out and touched the edge of his cloak in faith. The word “touched” can actually be translated “to fasten oneself to.” It connotes getting a “death grip” on something. It implies grabbing hold without the intention of ever letting go!

Sometimes we miss what God has for us because we are not reaching out. God always meets us at our level of faith.

No matter how lonely, depressed, discouraged and down you may feel today, reach out to Jesus. Take a step of faith. Don’t miss what God has for you today!

The woman had tried every other avenue for her healing, but finally she comes to Jesus!

Reach out and don’t let go! Jesus is looking for those who will touch him, those who will “fasten themselves to Him.”

When you fasten yourself to Jesus, you will be in for the ride of your life!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Overcoming storms

I don’t like storms. Trials. Problems. None of us do.

Yet each day we are faced with circumstances that are beyond us. Jesus said that “each day has enough trouble of its own.”

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they get into a boat and set out. Jesus fell asleep. A storm came. The storm was so ferocious that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

Even though the disciples were experienced fishermen, they were scared.

Mark’s version of this story says that the disciples woke Jesus up and said, “Master, don’t you care if we drown?”

Jesus gets up, rebukes the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsides and all is calm. He turns around to the men and says, “Where is your faith?”

Are you going through a storm today? Know this:

Sometimes Jesus leads us into a storm. It was Jesus who said, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” Problems and trials are allowed in our lives to help us to grow, to teach us to depend upon God and to help us keep God central in our lives.

Jesus does care about what you are going through. While it may seem like the Master is asleep and that God doesn’t care – he does. He’s very aware of what you are going through today.

A retired United Methodist pastor by the name of Jones lived through Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.
His daughter had been begging him to drive to Atlanta and stay with her in the storm's aftermath. There was only one problem: He didn't have any money. He had money in the bank, but it wasn't open. They were penniless. He couldn't get to Atlanta. He had no place to go.

When the hurricane came, he and his wife left their home and went to a shelter. After the storm had passed, they were allowed back into the city to grab a few belongings. When they entered the house, the water was still knee high, but Pastor Jones was determined to see what he could salvage.

As he went into his flooded house, he saw several framed family photos floating in the water. He really didn't see anything else to save, so he grabbed the pictures and left. Back at the shelter, he took the photos out of their frames so they could dry out. When he removed his father's picture, money fell out of the frame. He couldn't believe his find as he counted out $366. Even more astounding was the fact that his father had died in 1942.

Pastor Jones was only 12 years old at the time. He had no idea that the money was in the frame. He doesn't know how it got there or when it was put there, but it was enough to pay for him and his wife to make their way to Atlanta.

Jesus can calm your storm. Come to him today. Trust in Him. Depend upon Him. Relax in His presence. God is in control.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Can you hear me now?

There is a commercial on television for cell phone service with the punch line, “can you hear me now?”

And then there is that frustrated parent who cries out to her child, “Are you listening to me?”

Jesus basically asked that same question in our scripture reading today. He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Are you listening to me? Are you being obedient?

Jesus often communicated spiritual truth through parables or short stories or descriptions that take a familiar object or situation and give it a startling new twist.

One time a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town and he told the story about a farmer who went out to plant his crops. As he was scattering seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It cam up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.

What do you mean Jesus?

Some days we read God’s Word, but temptation and the attacks from the enemy take away the Word from our hearts. We are frustrated.

Other days find us receiving the Word with joy when we hear it, but because we are not grounded in the faith, we believe for a while, but by the end of the day we have fallen away. We are heartbroken.

Furthermore, we find ourselves on any given day hearing God’s Word, but as we go on our way it is choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures. We are distracted.

But then there are those days when everything clicks. We read God’s Word, it sinks in and we grow in God. We are growing.

Where is your heart today? Are you listening to God and letting his Word take root in your life? Are you open to hearing what He is saying today?

Hearing and applying God’s Word is a choice. Let’s choose this day to listen.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"Help! I need somebody."

There's an old Beatles song that goes like this: "Help, I need somebody."

That's so true in all of our lives.

There’s a story I like to tell about a young boy selling pencils door-to-door in his neighborhood for a nickel apiece. One prospective buyer asked him what he planned to do with the money.

He said, "I’m trying to raise a million dollars to help build a new hospital."

The buyer said, "That’s a big job for just one boy, isn’t it?"

"It’s not so hard," said the boy. "I’ve got a friend helping me."

It’s amazing how much smaller even the biggest tasks become when we’ve got someone beside us. Too many times we tackle challenges alone and try to solve problems on our own -- and ultimately we learn that working this way makes us vulnerable to discouragement and defeat.

When we accepted our current job position, or a call to our ministry in our church, or even our personal call to discipleship, we took on an enormous job. We can’t do it alone. It takes two, at least. We need someone to help us get the job done.

I challenge you this week to consider a couple of things.

• Take a minute to identify your helpers. In each project, think about their role and your role, how you complement one another, and how you can build on one another’s strengths. Make it a point this week to focus on what’s right in the relationship, not what’s wrong.

• In the areas where you struggle -- personal, spiritual, career, ministry -- ask yourself, "Who can I bring in to help me make this better?" Whatever you're trying to accomplish, having a team member can get you there faster.

Solomon talked about this idea in Ecclesiastes. He talks about how futile it is to work alone. He reminds us, "Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor." (Ecclesiastes 3:9)

More importantly, Solomon reminds us that working with a team helps one bounce back more quickly from defeat.

"If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble." (Ecclesiastes 3:10)

Solomon finishes this thought by saying, "Two can stand back to back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken." (Ecclesiastes 3:12)

Do you want to put your life in overdrive? Bring on a helper. Or two or three. See how much more quickly you move down the road of accomplishment.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Keeping it real

“Keep it real” is a phrase that is current today. I like it. “Keep it real.” Don’t be a phony. Don’t be fake.

Someone once said, “A hypocrite is someone who complains there is too much sex and violence on his VCR.”

If there is anyone we should keep it real with it is Jesus.

Self-righteousness really bugged Jesus. He loved to be around people who were humble and totally dependent upon God.

One time a Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, which was a really big deal in those times.

There was a woman who lived a really sinful life that heard that Jesus was visiting the Pharisee and brought an alabaster jar of perfume, stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to wt his feet with her tears.

Then she wiped them off with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

I can just see Jesus shaking his head at that. “Simon,” he says, I have something to tell you.

“Hey, Simon, you didn’t offer me a kiss of greeting.” “You didn’t wash my feet (a courtesy extended to guests because sandaled feet got very dirty).” “You didn’t anoint my head with oil.”

Yet this woman gives me heartfelt tears and anoints my feet with expensive perfume.

God always honors sincere worship.

God always gives his grace to those who come humbly to him. When you converse with God today – be real. Let God know how you feel.

Some days all I have to offer God are my tears, my faults and my failures. Yet God always reaches down in recognition of my love for him and brings me up and gives me peace in the midst of a storm – as I am real with Him.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Submission and authority

Faith, power and authority are three necessary things for successful Christians. To walk in faith and power we must walk in submission to God’s authority in our lives.

We live in an age that struggles with the concept of authority. From local governmental officials to spiritual authority in the local church, it is fashionable to walk in a state of rebellion and discord.

Have you ever been in a grocery store and had the privilege of watching a child who had no concept of submitting to authority?

The mother says, “put that candy back’, and the child says, “No”, and then rips the package open. The mother says, “That’s it, don’t you get another one and I mean it.” The child grabs something else. The mother says, “Put it back”. The child starts screaming! The mother says, “Be quiet and go ahead and put that thing in the basket.”

Even though the mother was an authority figure, the child did not place himself under her authority except when it suited his purposes

Yet Jesus honors those who walk in submission to those in authority over them.

Great faith is seen in respect for authority.

The Roman Centurion is a classic example of this. One of his servants is sick and about to die. The Centurion hears of Jesus and sends some of the elders of the Jews to him to come and heal his servant.

As Jesus comes to heal the servant, the centurion sends friends to say to Him, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. FOR I MYSELF AM A MAN UNDER AUTHORITY, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “come,” and he comes”

When Jesus heard this he was amazed and said that he had never seen such faith.

This centurion is recognizing Jesus’ authority over sickness & disease.

“All you have to do, Jesus, is command it—and the sickness has to go.”

Do you need Healing this today? Christ’s authority over sickness is still effectual. The centurion said, “Say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

How is that authority exercised today?

It happens as we submit ourselves to the One who has all authority in heaven and earth and assert that authority as His agent.

Walking in submission to Christ brings healing, power and ultimately spiritual authority. As we walk in submission to God, God grants us supernatural, spiritual authority as well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Jesus can raise up your dead spirit!

Have you ever felt like you just wanted to give up? That you were “dead” to the world. Nothing matter. You felt like everything was lost. Even your favorite hobbies couldn’t get you off the couch.

Jesus can raise up your dead spirit!

Early in Dwight L. Moody’s ministry, he was called upon to conduct his first funeral. Mr. Moody, desiring to do things correctly, went to the Bible to consider how Jesus would have done it. He found an amazing truth. Jesus didn’t hold any funeral services!

In fact, the New Testament tells us that whenever Jesus came into contact with those who were dead He gave them life! He raised three people from the dead: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son.

One time Jesus goes to a little village called Nain. As he approaches the town gate a dead person is being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. It was a serious situation for mom, for her last means of support was gone. The crowd of mourners would go home, and she would be left penniless and alone. The future was bleak.

Jesus sees her and his heart goes out to her and he says, “don’t cry”.

Then he goes up and touches the coffin, and says, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Bold stuff. The dead man sits up and begins to talk, and Jesus gives him back to his mother.

This showed the power of Christ is several ways:

There was great power in His presence–when He would appear, demons would flee before Him

There was great power in His voice. After all, He spoke the world into existence. He calmed the raging sea. There is still great power in His Word.

There was great power in His touch. He touched the coffin of this young man. He touched broken bodies and restored them.

After the young man was raised from the dead, everyone there was filled with awe and praised God.

The bereaved mother praised God. The dead son praised God.

No matter what you are going through today, God wants to raise up your dead spirit. He wants to bring hope in the midst of despair. He desires to bring comfort in the midst of pain. Jesus feels compassion for you today. You are not alone!

Jesus says to you, “get up! I have it under control!”

Monday, June 05, 2006

I think we all from time to time look over at our neighbor's lawn and think that their grass is greener than ours.

Yet, most of the time, I find that if I take the time to walk over and inspect their lawn, it's much like mine....they deal with crabgrass and even grubs like I do.

It's so easy to think that other situations are better...other families...other marriages...other churches.

For instance, in the midst of marital disagreement, it is not uncommon for a spouse to wonder if there isn't somebody with whom they would be more compatible.

Suleyman Guresci, of Izmir, Turkey divorced his wife of 21 years after a bitter six-year court battle. In an effort to find the ideal woman, Guresci turned to a computer dating service--the kind that evaluates your written profile and suggests matches for you.

Ironically, from a list of 2000 prospective brides, the computer selected his former wife, who (unbeknownst to Guresci) had signed up for the same service.

Guresci's response? He decided to remarry his wife just nine months after their divorce. He said, "I did not know that my ex-wife had been the ideal counterpart for a marriage. I decided to give it another try by being more tolerant toward her."

Your ideal mate might just be the one you've already married.

The principle Guresci learned also applies to a number of other areas in ourlives: our church, our ministry, our job, and so on.

C. Peter Wagner points out that one common characteristic of effective pastors is a commitment to stay: They're not looking for greener pastures.

Most of us understand the permanent nature of marriage/family relationships; we understand the need to approach problems at home with the attitude of "How can we make this work?" But we forget how important this attitude is the other areas. When trouble rears its head, instead of focusing on how to make things work, we often fantasize of finding a better place to be.

Just as God gave you your spouse and family, he placed you in your current circumstances. Maybe your job or your ministry is more than a little challenging, and maybe you'd like to move on. Think before you do. Think before you even allow yourself to daydream about it.

More than likely, God's plan is for you to work through this situation. Even if ultimately he calls you elsewhere, he wants you to resolve this issue before you go.

Just like Guresci learned about his marriage, your ideal situation might be the one you're in right now. So keep Paul's words in mind this week:

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

There is a doctrine that is becoming popular that teaches that a Christian can reach a point in their lives where sin no longer has an effect on them. They cease to sin.


I always cringe when I hear a fellow follower of Jesus say something like, "well, I have that temptation under control! Moving on to something else."

The enemy will attack us many times NOT in areas that we consider our weaknesses, but in those areas we consider our strengths.

Of course the concept that we are beyond sin goes totally against the Word of God.

John writes in First John 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

Hopefully, as we grow and mature as Christians sin has less of a hold on us, and we better able to resist temptation. But as long as we are in the flesh in this world of sin, we will wrestle with sinful desires and sin.

What's the key?

I Like like what Henri Nouwen has written.

Henri Nouwen once said in a Leadership journal interview:

"I cannot continuously say no to this or no to that, unless there is something ten times more attractive to choose. Saying no to my lust, my greed, my needs, and the world's powers takes an enormous amount of energy. The only hope is to find something so obviously real and attractive that I can devote all my energies to saying yes.

One such thing I can say yes to is when I come in touch with the fact that I am loved. Once I have found that in my total brokenness I am still loved, I become free from the compulsion of doing successful things."

You are loved by God. Let's focus in on that this day. Let's say no to sin and yes to the savior.