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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Speaking of age and new things

Speaking of age - there is never a time when we are too "old" to start something new.

Just this past week, I bought a Joe Bonamassa CD, trying to gain a new appreciation for Blues music.

I really like trying new things, going to new places, eating at new restaurants.

It is never too old to try something new.

On December 9, 1914, fire swept through the factories owned by Thomas Edison in West Orange, New Jersey. The damage totaled millions of dollars. Practically everything of Edison's was destroyed, including journals and records of works in progress.

Edison was not a young man at the time this happened. Many people sent condolences and notes of sympathy, expecting that this tragedy would prompt his retirement.

Edison's response? "I am 67, but I'm not too old to make a fresh start."

It's not too late for your fresh start, either. It doesn't matter how old you are. Neither does it matter how much you have lost in the fires of the past. Today is a new day, a fresh start is yours for the taking.

My own father started a new ministry while in his early 70's.

My grandmother received her master's degree in education when she was in her early 50's and taught third grade at Fair Grove Elementary school for years.

And....my wife has already instructed me that I can never, ever retire (I have too much energy).

But this blog isn't ultimately about age. It's about change. It's about never losing the capacity to start a new chapter in your life...regardless of how the last chapter may have ended.

The new year is coming - a great season in our lives to focus on the future.

The Bible tells us in Isaiah 43:18,19, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

I would suggest that God is ready to do something new in your life, to give you a fresh start.

He has forgotten the former things and you can, too. The new creation will be springing up soon. Do you perceive it? Do you receive it?

Why not be praying in the next couple of week about the "new thing" that God wants to do in you and through you?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting older

I was told by a friend the other day that I am in denial about my age.

That might be true. 

I don't "feel" 54 (and Debbie would tell you that most of the time I don't act it either).

Here's a quick story:

Debbie and I were talking last night about the fact that some of our "seniors" at Stone Church are complaining that the sidewalks aren’t cleared off enough, that there is too much ice and snow.

Debbie suggested, “Maybe we should have someone out there helping people 55 and older get into the church from their cars.”

I said, “I am going to be 55 this next year.”

She quickly upped it to 70.

It's like the old cliche - we are only as old as we feel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Miracles in the midst of ruts

As I grow older, I have more and more respect for those who walk through life with a positive and godly attitude.  Those who avoid grumbling, complaining and criticizing their way through life.

I am learning that while crisis events can make or break us (and cause us to be bitter or better), it is the "dailyness" of life that can tug our lives either upward or downward, both emotionally and spiritually.

Sometimes we walk through the "Groundhog Days" of life (after the movie where the main character, Bill Murray, wakes up at the same time every day, the day never changing), where we feel like we are doing the same thing over and over again.  We can fall into ruts that are difficult to get out of.

Think about people who find themselves in religious ruts.

They discover a number of things about themselves.

They will find that they are getting older but not getting any holier.

Time is their enemy, not their friend.

The time they trusted and looked to is betraying them, for they often said to themselves, "The passing of time will help me. I know some good old saints, so as I get older I'll get holier and better. Time will help me, purify me and revive me."

They said that the year before last, but they were not helped any last year. Time betrayed them. They were not any better last year than they had been the year before.

There's an ancient proverb that says "The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth."

As a Christian who believes in the supernatural, I have witnessed signs and wonders at different times in my life.  I have seen miraculous healings.  I have experienced God giving miraculous help in time of financial need.  I have watched as God has intervened in a supernatural way.

I believe in the miraculous. 

I believe that one of the greatest miracles is a changed life.  The way that God takes a broken and beat up person, and puts their life back together.

But I also believe that miracles are all around us.  The sun rising and setting is a creation miracle of God.  The very breath that you are taking right now is a miracle of God. 

The very fact that I am alive is a miracle of God. 

And perhaps, just perhaps, the greatest miracle is that God can give us the power to live.  The power to walk on this planet in victory day after day with a positive, godly attitude - in the midst of the "dailyness" of life, in the midst of our emotional and spiritual ruts and routine.

Just a thought for a Tuesday........

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

God has a "sense of humor".  I shared last week in my sermon on worry that whenever winter comes, I worry about it snowing on Saturday and Sunday.  And sure enough.....the weather forecast for this past Saturday and Sunday was for snow.  I worried all week (and prayed).

In spite of the crummy weather, we had a fairly good crowd yesterday.  For that I am grateful. 

We had several first time visitors, including two or three new families.  Go figure. 

It is exciting to see new people coming.

God moved yesterday.  Thank you, Lord.

Several people "raised their hands" signifying that they were recommitting their lives to Christ.

Motivating volunteers is a continual challenge.  I am thankful for those in our church who are faithful, Sunday after Sunday.

I can't wait to see my kids (and grandchild) at Christmas.

Debbie and I watched the last half hour of "It's A Wonderful Life."  The emotional ending always seems to sneak up on me - no matter how many times I have seen it.  I have seen it so many times, I can almost quote each line before they say it.

"Da Bears."  Well, what can I say........it was over at halftime.

I am looking forward to our time of prayer and fasting next month.  I am anticipating and praying for a wonderful move of God!

Somehow, someway, I need to do a better job at casting vision in our church in seeing our focus shift not only from ministries that meet the needs of our church family, but also the needs of the unchurched.

I am looking forward to this Sunday. 

Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of working for you.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The process of forgiveness

Here what I know - when I forgive; I forgive in a point of time (called a crisis) - but the total act of forgiveness is a process.

First of all there is the crisis.

The first step is to see my unforgiveness as sin.

I have to stop explaining it, defending it, holding on to it, cherishing it, or reviewing it. I have got to say, ‘I don’t want this for my life. I choose to forgive. My deep desire for God’s forgiveness outweighs any desire to hold on to unforgiveness.”

Then there is the process.

That means on Sunday, when I see that person at church who said or did that hurtful thing to me, my injury is going to come back to my mind.

I’ve got to promise mself that I won’t bring it up to them, I won’t bring it up to other people, and, by far the hardest, and I won’t bring it up to myself.

I won’t review it; I won’t get myself worked up about it.

I won’t let it roll around in my mind.

In the crisis, I decide I will forgive them; in the process, I live out my choice not to demand payment for the pain that they caused me.

Here’s what I want to say: when you fail in the process, you have to return to the crisis.

It is tough to let go of our feelings of pain and hurt.

In fact, in all probability, we are going to fail at completely letting go at first. The memories are too strong, too powerful to completely let go and they will suddenly come out of nowhere. And we find ourselves back at square one.

Satan will plant a thought inside your mind, and you will stand in the shower for 45 minutes staring straight ahead, caught in the negative mental loop.

We failed in the process. So what do we do? We go back to the crisis. We get before the Lord and pray, “God, forgive me. I want to be a forgiving person, and here I am holding on to this again, Lord. Help me again. I commit afresh to let it go.”

Crisis/process. Crisis/process. Crisis/process. Over time, with God’s help, you’ll let go of the offense, and God’s mercy will wash over you and give you release. There will come a time when you can think of the person or the pain and it will no longer trigger the old response.

I encourage you today - let it go. 

And remember:  Forgiveness doesn't make the other person right, forgiveness sets you free

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The power of community

As I was driving yesterday, I heard on the radio (and it was a secular station) that in recent studies, people come to church faithfully, not because of doctrine or duty, but because of community.

They come because they feel like they have found a place where they feel welcomed.  Treasured.  Special.  Where they feel like family.

I agree with the results of that study.  In our culture today, most folks I come across are just trying to do the best they can and want to be around people who are like minded.  They want to be around people who are accepting and loving and kind.

In his book "Soul Cravings", Erwin McManus talks about his friend Mick, who has struggled with alcoholism throughout his life. He's been a part of their church for a number of years, and Mick has gone through countless ups and downs, seasons of loss and seasons of victory.

There were many times when McManus thought they had lost Mick for good, but he keeps coming back.

McManus asked him what kept him in their community over the years, in spite of all the great highs and tremendous lows.

Mick said, "Oh, that's easy. There was always a place for me here. No one ever asked me to leave. No matter what I did, no one ever asked me to leave."

McManus then writes:

"There may be no greater proof of God than the power of community.

We are not healthy when we are alone.

We find ourselves as we connect to others.

Without community we don't know who we are."

May we, at Stone Church, continue to be the community he has called us to be.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It is never too late

Let me share with you this:  when it comes to someone we know, whether it be a loved one or a friend, it is never to late to pray that they will come to Christ, no matter what their situation is, or how hardened their heart is.

One of the people that I really looked up to growing up was Mickey Mantle (as did millions of other little kids).

He played center field for years, replacing the great Joe DiMaggio.

His statistics are staggering—536 home runs, 1,509 RBIs, .298 career batting average, seven world championships, and three MVP awards—and they are all the more impressive when we consider how the Hall of Famer courageously battled chronic, painful injuries during his 18 years with the New York Yankees. In addition, he won the Triple Crown in 1956—a .353 batting average, 52 HRs, and 130 RBIs. In 1961, he hammered 54 homers, just six shy of Babe Ruth's record.

Let me quote to you from a a devotion I read today about Mickey - and how he came to Christ toward the end of his life:

"These numbers pale when compared to what happened in the harsh summer of '95 when his heart took over in that desperate final inning. Faced with an aggressive cancer, he displayed incredible courage, humility, even humor as he battled for his life. And when he chose to drag his frail body in front of a mass of microphones and address the public, there was not a trace of self-pity in his words—only heartfelt pleas to avoid the mistakes he had made. "Don't be like me," he humbly declared, "I'm no role model!" But despite his flaws, Mantle remained a hero to his multitude of fans, and due to his honesty gained many new ones.

At age 19 he left the lead mines of Oklahoma for the bright lights of New York City. Unfortunately, those lights cast an eerie shadow over his life. After Mickey's first season, his father, Mutt Mantle, died of Hodgkin's disease at 40. His grandfather and two of his uncles also succumbed to the same disease before their 40th birthdays. As a result, a growing fear of dying young haunted the budding superstar. He would talk long into the night with his close teammates, confiding to them this nagging fear.

Convinced an early funeral was his inevitable fate, though often joking about it, he played hard and partied even harder. For him there was no tomorrow. Tragically, this attitude led to a 40-year bout with alcohol that caused his body to grow old before its time and clouded his mind. Many criticized his self-destructive lifestyle, saying it sabotaged the greatest combination of power and speed the game had ever seen. In the autumn of his life, Mantle came to agree with those critics, admitting that his drug of choice, alcohol, kept him from reaching his full potential—as a player and as a person. He had learned the hard lesson that a man reaps what he sows.

Finally in 1994, at the urging of his family and friends, Mickey sought help for his addiction. After checking himself into the Betty Ford Center, he was able to win his long battle with the bottle. But he knew something was still missing in his life. He just wasn't sure what it was.

In June of '95, doctors discovered that cancer had destroyed Mantle's liver. He was fortunate to receive a transplant, and for a while it seemed as if the greatest switch hitter of all time would live to fight another day. Then doctors found that cancer remained in his body, and he began chemotherapy. Mickey knew he was facing death. During the All-Star break in Dallas, he picked up the phone and called his old friend and teammate, former Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson—a committed Christian. Mickey asked him to pray for him over the telephone. A few weeks later when doctors had discovered that the cancer had aggressively spread, Mickey's family asked Bobby if he would come visit him. His death was imminent. To honor Mickey's long-standing request—one he had made at the funeral of Roger Maris nine years earlier—Bobby was asked to speak at the funeral.

After entering the hospital room, Richardson went over to Mantle's bed and took his hand. Locking his eyes on him, Bobby said, "Mickey, I love you, and I want you to spend eternity in heaven with me." Mantle smiled and said, "Bobby, I've been wanting to tell you that I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior." Faced with the crushing weight of his sin against a holy God and its dire consequence—eternal separation from God—Mickey had asked for and received the forgiveness he so desperately needed. For Richardson, news of his conversion felt like cool rain after a summer drought, and brought tears to his eyes. For years, he had talked to Mickey about the Lord Jesus, but to no avail. Now, in the final inning of his life, the Mick had won his greatest victory—more glorious than any of his tape-measure home runs.

When asked later how he knew he would spend eternity with God in heaven, Mickey, after some reflection, quoted John 3:16 from the Bible: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

At Mickey's funeral, Bobby Richardson told 2,000 mourners and a national TV audience that there are only two groups of people: those who say "yes" to Christ and those who say "no." He added that, since none of us knows when he will face his own final inning, saying "maybe" is really saying "no." The Bible confirms this when it says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:36)."

There is still hope for that person that you love that doesn't know Christ.  I encourage you to keep on praying for them, keeping on asking the Holy Spirit to move in their life, and keep on watching for the right moment to share your faith in Jesus. 

IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend

Went out to dinner on Friday night with Debbie - how I love that lady!

Had a great men's life group on Saturday.  We talked about feelings of inadequacy in life.  I was deeply impressed and ministered to by how open everyone was.

Taking off our "masks" it difficult, but wonderfully rewarding.

Watched Nikki Boon (Amanda's sister) win 123,000 dollars in college scholarships at the Dr. Pepper halftime challenge (Auburn and South Carolina game).  She did great and now is nationally known.

I teased Amanda yesterday in both services that while Nikki might have one 123,000 dollars in college scholarships - Amanda has us (Stone Church family).

Was interviewed by the Southtown Star (newspaper).  The article with my picture will come out sometime toward the end of the month.

We are never as bad as people say we are - and we are never as good as people say we are. 

In church life - someone is always getting "blessed".

In church life - someone is always upset about something.

I am thankful for our church staff - Aldin, Noah and Amanda.  They are fun to work with.

Life group last night - what can I say?  We had a great time of sharing about fear and worry (which I talked about yesterday morning).  We also ate a breakfast casserole...good job, Debbie!

The Dallas Cowboys won yesterday with a last minute field goal - playing good football.  Alas, too little too late.

The Chicago Bears continue to win.  As they do so, watch for me to jump on the bandwagon.

Ron Santo died - condolences.

Closer to my heart - Don Meredith died yesterday - former quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.  Great quarterback.  Condolences.

I leave you with the quote I ended with yesterday: 

"Every evening, I turn my worries over to God.  He's going to be up all night anyway."  Mary Crowley

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The worship service and spiritual language

One of the things I do is to answer questions that are emailed me - questions pertaining to the Bible, theology and practical Christian living.

I thought I might share one with you today.

I was asked:

"In regards to orderly worship, in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul explains that there should be at most 3 people speaking in tongues at one time, taking turns, and that there must be an interpreter. Obviously, the Pentecostal Church does not necessarily follow this guideline. At Stone there are many times when numerous people are praying out load in tongues. How do we justify this as we are aware of Paul's teachings?"

Here is my response:

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is speaking of tongues as prophecy. When he writes or teaches about tongues as prophecy (prophecy is the sense of forth telling and not fore telling) he encourages the body of Christ to have at the most three, one at a time, and interpreted each time.

That would be distinguished from tongues as praise. When we, as a congregation, are in the act of corporate praise, than praising God with our spiritual language(s), as a church family is very appropriate and interpretation is not needed.

A disclaimer: Sometimes the lines and distinctions between the two over lap. For instance, tongues as prophecy can include praise. And out of a time of praise (using the gift of tongues as worship) the use of tongues as prophecy can spring forth.

That's why I love worshipping in the Holy Spirit. While there are guidelines, we never know how God is going to move.

May we all enter in to worship this Sunday - and walk in the freedom that He desires for us!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Being a gatekeeper of my mind

Here's what I know (again some thoughts from, "The 4:8 Principle"):  I am the gatekeeper of my mind.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."

Tommy Newberry writes, "those who experience more joy don't necessarily have more to be joyful about; they just think differently."

How can I think differently?

- I must feed myself with positive mental nutrition.

I must watch what I watch.

I must do all things in moderation such as watching T.V. perusing the Internet and reading non-Christian books, etc.  Let's all realize that everything we watch, read or listen to either brings us closer to God or nudges us further away.

- I must start my day with joy

Mayberry encourages us to focus on joy the first 15 minutes after we wake up.  He calls it the, "early morning joy ritual".

What you and I do first thing in the morning sets the emotional tone for the entire rest of the day.

Zig Ziglar once joked with his audience that he wakes up in the morning and reads from his Bible and then the local paper so that he knows what both sides are up to. 

Again, Mayberry encourages us to develop a list of one to three quick things we can do in 15 minutes that are consistent with a joy-filled life. 

That is one of the things that I (George) am going to work on.  I have a tendency to check my emails first thing, and many times those emails present challenges.  I am going to work on checking them after I have had my breakfast and time of prayer.

Let me give you one more quote under this point:  "Your potential for joy is limited only by your preparation for joy."  Great stuff.

- I must seal the day with joy.

I agree with Tommy Newberry when he writes, "the absolute worst time to be negative, to be discouraged, to argue, or to deal with junk is right before bedtime!"

He encourages us to "surrender our subconscious to God."  That's why is prayer can so important as we go to sleep.  Perhaps the old children's prayer for bedtime isn't too far off - "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep."

Dedication your sleep to God. 

Finally, here is a prayer for discernment:

"Father God, Help me to live intentionally, particularly when ti comes to what I read, watch, and listen to on a consistent basis.  Guide me to allow into my soul only those words, sounds, and images that support who you want me to become.  Reveal to me the role I must play in guarding the door of my heart.  Keep me from becoming careless about the inputs of each day and the effect my environment has on my potential.  Because I soak up my surroundings, show me if I have any current exposures that are not pleasing to you, and lead me to make changes so I can experience your presence in a deeper and fuller way.

Inspire me, hour by hour, to fill my mind with everything good.  Remind me that everything counts, and that what I sow, I sooner or later will certainly reap.  In Jesus name, Amen."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fixing our thoughts on God

I picked up a book the other day entitled, "The 4:8 Principle", by Tommy Newberry.

Wonderful book.  I encourage you to pick it up.

Let me summarize in a random way some of his thoughts.

He writes:

"Keep your thoughts fixed on God. When you keep your thoughts fixed on God, the things of God will naturally permeate your life and your goals will be in line with his will and his kingdom.


You can do away with those thoughts of worry and fear only when you replace them with positive thoughts of faith in God.

Your thought life is so important. How you think.

“The secret conversations you hold in the privacy of your own mind are shaping your destiny, little by little.”

With every thought that races thought your mind, you are continually reinventing yourself and your future. Research indicates that the average person thinks approximately 50,000 thoughts a day. That’s either good or bad news because every thought you think moves you either toward God and faith or away from God and worry. NO thoughts are neutral.

Whatever you think about, will eventually be revealed for everyone to see. What you persistently think about will eventually be brought out in the open by the words you speak and the things you do.

Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world (which is to worry about everything), but be transformed (or overcome worry) by the renewing of you mind (or getting a handle on your thought life.”

Thinking, talking and worrying about what you don’t want can never bring you what you do want.

Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

So important, listen to me, as hard as you might try, you cannot think one thing and experience something else.

We live in a society and culture in America that is bent on highlighting what is wrong with just about everything. In America, people make a living focusing on the negative. And that kind of culture unfortunately has made its way into the church.

You can’t think critically about your spouse, even if you believe it is warranted and reap true intimacy

You can’t think critically about the church, even if you believe it is warranted and reap true intimacy with God.

Some men and women are constantly harping about their spouses.

Some church goers walk out of Sunday morning services like Broadway critics, discussing what they did and did not like rather than considering what God was trying to say to them.

You cannot think negatively and live positively any more than you can plant apple seeds and expect to harvest oranges.

Each moment, each thought can be a new beginning. You can come to these altars today and start afresh in saying, “Father, I am going to have faith in you. I am going to give you my worries and my fears and from this day forward I am going to trust in you.”

That is a moment by moment decision and most certainly a daily decision in our lives. Am I going to trust in God or not?

Negative fearful thought do not come from God. If you are thinking fearful, worried, tiring thoughts it is not from God.

If a thought leads you to feel like a victim instead of a victor it is not from God. Paul writes, “Thanks be to God. He gives us the victory though our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Focus on the father and not your fears today

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend

Had Thanksgiving dinner with my family in Springfield at a special buffet.  The food was terrific, but I still missed the Thanksgiving meal that Debbie makes.  Check out the picture of her and I to the right.  She is my best friend.

Seeing my 96 year old grandmother - wonderful.

Sitting next to her and talking with her - special.

Listening to her playing the hymns of the church - priceless.


Becky got back from South Africa yesterday - and gave us a great report of how God used their entire missions team in ministry.

I am thankful she came back safely.  I love her.

One highlight for her was eating a typical South African meal.  I wish I would have been there.

Missed Christie, Andrew and Georgia at Thanksgiving - but I know they had a great time.  I love them a lot.

Here is a picture of Georgia and me.  It is my favorite.



Drove around Springfield with my brother and dad and told stories of when I was in elementary school, junior high and high school.  Great memories.

"Mission village" (Missionary housing), where we lived for five years, has now been completely torn down.  It reemphasized to me that nothing lasts forever.

Thanksgiving day - food, football (the Cowboys lost - again), fun, fellowship and the Father - great stuff.

An absolutely powerful service yesterday (in both services).  Great time of worship.  God was present.  People seeking God around the altars.  As a pastor, that warms my heart. 

Looking forward to times of prayer and fasting next year.

Lots of guests in our services yesterday.

Great to be away for a couple of days - great to be home.

I love my mom and dad



I love my son.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanking God in advance

Philippians 4:6 states, "In all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart." 

What Paul is saying is that we should thank God while we are asking, not just after the answer comes.  We should thank God not just after the answer comes but while we are asking.

Here's a sample prayer that shows this:  "Thank you, Lord, that you've already provided for so many of my needs.  I thank you for what you have provided in the past and what you are going to provide in the future.  Here is what I need right now."

It's a Biblical principle: 

I am to thank God before He brings the answer.
I am to thank God before He brings the solution.
I am to thank God before He brings the miracle I so desperately need.

"Thank you God that the answer is coming!"

"Thank you God that the solution is already there"!

"Thank you God that for the miracle that is already present!"

Here's what I know:

Thanksgiving is not just looking back on the blessings you have received in the past.  Thanksgiving is looking forward to the blessings you can receive as you come before God with faith and thank Him in advance.

We as Spirit-filled believers are to give thanks to God on a continual basis.  It should be like breathing, and how long could you survive if you breathed only once in a while? 

In 2 Chronicles 20, we find King Jehoshaphat facing serious trouble.

The Bible tells us in chapter 20:2, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the sea."  And then in chapter 20:12, "O our God (this is Jehoshaphat praying), will you not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."  And finally in chapter 20:21, "After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:  "Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endure forever." 

As they went out to face this huge army, they gave thanks to God.  And the enemy of Israel was completely destroyed.

Let's give thanks today!

In fact, for the next two days, I would encourage you to pause and thank God for his blessings.  For the next two days, I encourage you to pause and say, "Lord, I thank  you."  Then name something that you thank him for.  And receive!

Have a great, happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

We had a great men's life group last Saturday.  Great group of guys.  I think that sometimes, I am learning more from them than them from me.

My wife and I are best friends.

Saw the movie, "Unstoppable."  90 minutes of non-stop action.  It's incredible what some people can do under duress. 

Vulnerability creates vulnerability.  I shared my story yesterday (through all the tears) of how God healed me 20 years ago.  After the two services, however, I was exhausted.  So much emotion.

I am thankful that it has been 20 years since I was sick.  20 years being infection free from "Valley Fever".

I love our church. 

I love the people in our church.

I am grateful for the fact that we have a church family that cares about other people.

Our church family is beginning to feel like our new facility is our church home.  It has taken time.

I underestimated how hard the transition would be on some.

I will do better next time about leading our church through the transition (when we build our sanctuary).

I enjoy dialoguing with people about their "suggestions," given in the suggestion box.  Dialogue is good and healthy.

The Dallas Cowboys won again yesterday - but - too little - too late.

Great life group last night.  Had two new people; Tom and Gina.  Wonderful folks.  I love my life group.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.  Food, Fun, Football, Fellowship, and of course, thanking the Father for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us.

Perused the blog site of the mission's trip that Becky is on in South Africa.  God is really using them - and it looks like they are having a lot of fun at the same time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Turning our weakness into a strength

If there is one benefit of growing older is that you become aware of your weaknesses and are at peace with them.  In fact, you learn (and I am still learning) that God take take our weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Let's me give you an illustration of that. 

One of my weaknesses is that I am very aware of what people are thinking, saying or projecting when I am with them.  That's a weakness in that sometimes I am either A) Wrong about what they are thinking or B) So sensitive to what they are thinking or saying that I am bothered more by it than they are.

God, however, over the years has used that as a strength in that I can be aware of when people are hurting and are in need of prayer.

We don't like to admit our weakness do we.

One author writes, "It's the most dreaded question of the job interview, and when the time comes, you can't seem to push the words out of your mouth. "Tell me," the interviewer asks, "what's your greatest weakness?" How do you answer that question? If you don't come up with something, you sound arrogant, but if you come clean with your weakness, they might not hire you.

He goes on to write, "Monster.com, the job search website, describes a variety of strategies for answering that question. One approach is to disguise your weakness as strength. For example, you might say, "I'm such a perfectionist I sometimes expect too much of myself or others."

Another strategy is to minimize your weakness by explaining how you've already overcome it: "I can be a very task-oriented person, but I've learned that working with people is the most effective way to accomplish a goal."

A third strategy is to share a real weakness, but make sure it is completely irrelevant to the position. If you're applying for an accounting position, for example, you don't want to admit that you're not a detail person.

Maybe you heard about the manager being interviewed for a new position. "My department has turned a profit every quarter for the past five years," the candidate says. "I've never had a personnel problem, and I've always gotten superior performance reviews."

"Very impressive," the interviewer replied. "And what's your greatest weakness?"

"I tend to exaggerate."

Revealing our weaknesses is one of the last things in the world we want to do, whether we're looking for a job, pursuing a relationship, or just talking to friends. We don't like to admit our weaknesses to ourselves, let alone to other people.

That's why we stack our resumes with degrees earned, awards received, and professional accomplishments. There's no heading for "Weaknesses and Liabilities" on most resumes.

If you're placing an ad in the personals section of a newspaper, you're probably not going to lead with, "Neurotic, out-of shape slacker looking for a relationship that will last longer than my previous three marriages."

So who are we kidding? We know we have weaknesses, and so does everyone else.

After all, we're only jars of clay. We're not designer vases made of fine china to be admired from a distance. We're not stainless steel pots that never scratch, rust, or dent. We're ordinary, fragile, imperfect vessels that happen to be carrying within us a treasure called the life of Christ.

As long as we have that life within us, we are unbreakable, even in the face of hardship, heartache, and need. Every clay pot comes with weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and imperfections. But we don't have to deny or disguise those weaknesses or dismiss them as insignificant. On the contrary, we can own our weaknesses and allow God to turn them into strengths.

Finally, let's imagine that a pastoral search committee received a cover letter from a candidate that read like this:

I should like to apply for the pastoral vacancy you advertised. I have many qualifications that I think you would appreciate. I'm a good organizer, and I have been a leader most places I've gone. I have been able to preach with power, though people say I am not terribly eloquent. I've done some writing, but some people have found my letters hard to understand, and I'm the first to admit my handwriting is barely legible.

I'm over 50 years old. I have never preached in one place for more than three years at a time, and most of the churches I've served have been small. In some places, my ministry has led to riots and disturbances, and I've been jailed on several occasions—unjustly, of course. My health is not good, but I get quite a bit done and have a good work ethic. I generally work well with people, but I have been known to knock heads with colleagues and have found that there are some people I simply can't work with. I'm pretty good with names, but have been known to forget who I've baptized. I don't have a permanent address, but I will do my best to keep in touch."

You might say, "well, there's one candidate that we don't need to contact or pursue any further."

In saying that, you would be turning down none other than Paul the Apostle - the greatest Christian who has ever lived.

So....let God turn your weaknesses into strengths today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

true happiness

Are you happy?  I mean really happy?

And what would bring you happiness?

On Sunday morning, November 28th I am going to talk about this.

What would truly, absolutely make you happy?

Come that day and I will tell you what will.

Here's what I know - I know what will not ultimately make us happy.  More things.

John Ortberg writes:

"When you buy your kid a Happy Meal, you're not just buying fries, McNuggets, and a toy; you're buying happiness. Their advertisements have convinced my children they have a little McDonald-shaped vacuum in their souls: "Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in a Happy Meal."

The problem with the Happy Meal is that the happy wears off, and they need a new fix. No child discovers lasting happiness in just one: "Remember that Happy Meal? What great joy I found there!"

Happy Meals bring happiness only to McDonalds. You ever wonder why Ronald McDonald wears that grin? Twenty billion Happy Meals, that's why."

Ortberg finishes this idea by saying, "When you get older, you don't get any smarter; your happy meals just get more expensive."

What's the last Happy Meal you bought for yourself? A car? Some clothes? A house? A spouse? How long did it last? No matter how hard we try, or how much we spend, as long as we live with a happy meal mentality, happiness will elude us.

Ortberg paraphrased a familiar quote by St. Augustine: "Our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee." Or as David said it, "My soul finds rest in God alone..." (Psalm 62:1)

Take a moment today to think about your next Happy Meal. Instead of pursuing one more thing, one more possession, one more acquisition - instead of striving for bigger numbers or better money or more praise directed your way  - spend a few minutes alone with the God who loves you, and let his presence in your life satisfy you (that's a hint as to what I will share a week from Sunday).

Isaiah 55:2 tells us, "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Asking for prayer

One of my daughters, Becky, is traveling to South Africa this Friday on a missions trip with her church.  I would ask that you join me in prayer for her and her team - that they will have a profitable time of ministry, and safe travel.

I just read that they will be renovating a church/school (painting, roofing, cleanup), providing "meals on wheels' and holding services in some of the churches there.

Great stuff.

You know, I really do believe in prayer.  Especially as I pray for my kids.  And....I encourage you to pray for your kids on a daily basis.

One of the things I do is to "plead the blood" over my children.

Now I know that might sound a little bit gruesome to those who don't understand that I am speaking of the fact that because of what Jesus Christ has done on the cross - and his blood that was split - because of His sacrifice - I can come to God and ask God, through His Son Jesus - to protect my children.

(I just read that sentence - lots there).

Let me give you a biblical example of this:  Job was a righteous man (The Bible describes him as blameless and upright).  He feared God and shunned evil.

He has seven sons and three daughters.

The Bible says in Job 1:4:  "His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.  When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified.  Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them thinking, "perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts."  This was Job's regular custom."

He sacrificed a burnt offering.  In New Testament concepts, he "plead the blood" in prayer over his children.

I encourage you to do the same.

"Father, I pray for Becky today.  I plead your blood over her.  Watch over and protect her.  Let this be a life changing experience for her on this missions trip.  Please use her and her team in a powerful way.  May others come to know you in a deeper way.  In your name I pray.  Amen."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts from the week and weekend

Thoughts from the week and weekend:

I spent two days in Grand Rapids with my daughter and granddaughter.  It was a real treat for me.

My granddaughter now calls me "pa pa".  A step up from what she used to call me, which was "nan".  Of course, she can all me anything she wants to call me.

Heart warmer:  when you leave the room and your granddaughter calls for "pa pa".

Christie, my daughter, is a wonderful mother.  A loving mother. 

The result of taking a few days off:  Sleeping and eating a lot = 4 pounds gained.

Debbie and I went to see "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," at Drury Lane.  I love my wife.

It was thrilling to hear yesterday of what God is doing in Cuba and Haiti.  God uses the worst of circumstances to bring about His will of bringing all men and women into a relationship with Him.

Found out that Juarez, Mexico is the most dangerous place on the planet.

Dick Nicholson, who spoke, yesterday, did a great job of sharing what we all need - which is a desire to see "everyone" come to Christ around the world.

The Dallas Cowboys finally won a game (if you follow my blog - you knew I was going to say that).  I finally had a Monday when I wasn't completely depressed.

Jason Garrett could be a good football coach.

Amanda Boon is doing a very, very good job.

We are fasting and praying today about the sale of our Palos Property.

Today is my daughter, Becky's birthday.  I love her very, every much and am very, very proud of her.

Spent part of the morning planning for next year.  I am really excited about what God is going to do!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Next Christians

I am reading a very interesting book entitled, "The Next Christians", by Gabe Lyons.  It's a great read - I encourage everyone to pick it up.

I thought I might blog about it for a few days.....

His thesis is that we are living in a post Christian society and culture.

That the once dominant faith of Christianity in America is on its last legs. 

Signs of this are:

Declining church attendance
Waning political influence
Abysmal public perception of Christians

However, Gabe Lyons is optimistic about the future of Christianity in America.

The next generation of Christians, Lyons argues, embodies six revolutionary characteristics.

He writes: 

"When Christians incorporate these characteristics throughout the fabric of their lives, a fresh yet orthodox way of being Christian springs forth.  The death of yesterday becomes the birth of a great tomorrow.  The end of an era becomes a beautiful new beginning.  In this way, the end of Christian America becomes good news for Christians."

Characteristic number one:

We are to be provoked but not offended.

We don't run away from situations where people are hurting, but we actually run to them in an effort to show and exhibit God's love.

We are to seek out brokenness and offer hope.

The question becomes, "how are we as Christians to react when we are placed in an environment that celebrates sin, overlooks injustice, or tolerates immorality?"

Michale Metzger has said, "When confronted with the corruption of our world - Christians ought to be provoked to engage, not offended and withdrawn."

How refreshing.

That's in contrast to Christians who "tend to remove themselves from potentially harmful situations - citing their disgust of immorality or their pursuit of holiness as the reason", as Gabe Lyons writes.

These Christians condemn, withdraw and boycott.  Lyons writes, "they play the paradoxical role of antagonist instead of other sacrificial pursuer."

He further writes, "when a community is provoked, they assume a proactive posture; when a community is offended, they assume a reactive posture."

And...the reactive posture was not the pattern of Jesus.

What about Zacchaeus (the Bernie Madoff of his day)?  Jesus was drawn to him and even invited himself over to Zacchaeus's house for dinner.

What about the woman at the well?  Jesus proactively stopped and engaged her in conversation.

The Roman Centurion?  The Syrian-Phoenician woman?  The man with Leprosy?  The woman caught in adultery? 

Jesus didn't care how the "religious" people of his day thought about these people, he showed up anyway.

Think about it in this way - the sinners of Jesus day loved Jesus.  They literally followed him everywhere.  They genuinely loved him.

This ticked the Pharisees off.  They couldn't or didn't want to understand how Jesus could associate with such immoral people. 

So do we need a new mindset in the faith today?  Instead of withdrawing, do we need to do just the opposite and seek out ways to reach, interact and minister with those who are lost and dying in our culture and society?

Do we need a new mindset of reaching out to the lost without condemnation, but prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to provide conviction?

Do we need a new mindset of not fearing exposure to culture's ideas, products, and marketing campaigns, but learning instead to discern good from bad, truth from falsehood?

John writes, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."  John 3:17

What does this practically mean?

It means giving grace instead of judgement.

It means having courage (the courage to reach out) over resting in our own comfort.

It means being faithful to God's call rather than being obsessed with our own reputation.

More to come.....

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Being there

I go to Cardinal Fitness 6 days a week. 

I go there to stay healthy.

But one of the primary reasons why I go to Cardinal Fitness is that it places me in a position of connecting with nonchurched people.

As a pastor, my role is the training of followers of Christ for ministry (Ephesians 4);  yet I never want to become so buried in to that task that I'm not regularly spending time with those who don't know Christ.

I need that kind of connection not only for my spiritual health but emotional sanity as well.

One guy that I meet on a daily basis (at Cardinal Fitness) is a guy whose name is - well, let's just call him Bill (not his real name). 

"Bill" is a good guy, but he does not have a relationship with Jesus.  His language is foul.  He drinks a lot.  He has the typical problems in his life and family that we all face.

"Bill" and I talk regularly.  He knows I am a pastor.  Yet one of the reasons why I think Bill feels free to speak with me is that he knows I am not going to judge him or come down on him in a heavy handed way.

You see, I want to position myself to not only be "Bill's friend," but to be there when he will need a true, spiritual friend the most.  In other words, I want to be there when he needs God.

The names Jerry Falwell and Larry Flynt may provoke strong reactions from some people in our culture. But the following story, shared by Falwell's son Jonathan, describes a moving conversation between the Baptist pastor and the publisher of Hustler magazine.

Years ago, Jonathan traveled with his dad to Florida where the senior Falwell was debating Larry Flynt.

Jonathan recalls:

"Mr. Flynt asked my dad if we could give him a ride back to Lynchburg in my dad's private jet. Dad said yes so we traveled to the airport and boarded a beautiful black and gold Gulfstream III. As we flew to Virginia, I sat across from dad and Mr. Flynt as they had a long conversation about sports, food, politics and other ordinary topics. I was amazed and bewildered because they kept talking like old friends.

After we dropped off Mr. Flynt in Lynchburg, I asked dad, "How come you could sit on that airplane and carry on a conversation with Larry Flynt as if you guys were lifelong buddies? Dad, he's the exact opposite of everything you believe in; he does all of the things you preach against; and yet you were treating him like a member of your own church. Why?"

Dad's response changed my whole outlook on ministry. "Jonathan," he said, "there's going to be a day when Larry is hurting and lonely, and he'll be looking for help and guidance. He is going to pick up the phone and call someone who can help him. I want to earn the right to be that phone call!"

Think of that person whom you come in contact with on a daily basis who does not know Christ.  I would encourage you to continue to be that person's friend.  Who knows?  You might be the one to lead them to Christ. 

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

focus

Where are you focusing your attention?

One of the most powerful, helpful scriptures in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 12:2, "Let us fix our yes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."

We are to fix, we are to focus on Christ.

I've been thinking about what it means to look to Jesus.

Here's what I know:  to look to Jesus means that we look away from everyone, and everything else, and fix our attention and the inward gaze of our lives on Him alone!

Almost every story of "backsliding" that I have ever heard (people turning away from God) finds its roots in the statement, "I got my eyes off of the Lord, and I got them on people...and people let me down."

Now, you have heard me say many times that we really do need each other.  It's not just "Jesus and me," it is "Jesus and we".

However, people will let you down.  That's a fact.

Every church that I have ever pastored, I have found people who just flat our disappointed me.

People will let us know.

And what makes it even harder is when people close to us let us down.

And....just as hard, is when I let other people down.  That bothers me just as much if not more.

As a pastor, I am called to be holy, but I am also called to be human.

People desire to look up to someone who is an example of holiness.  But they also desire to be close to someone that they can relate to.

The idea is to walk the "tightrope" or balance of striving for holiness but at the same time recognizing that no one is perfect.

So, I will let you down, you will let me down, but there is one person who will never, ever, let us down.  That is Jesus.

The pioneer and perfecter of our faith, the originator, the consummator, the trail blazer, the author, the finisher of our faith.

I would suggest today that we need to look away from everyone and everything else and look to Him!

Some of us are trying to find happiness and meaning in life in relationships, or in our job, or even in our ministry here at the church.

Some of us in our church family are experiencing a lot of hassles, pressures and disappointments in life.  You know a lot about hurt feelings, guilt and broken relationships.

Some of you have been accumulating a long list of gripes.  Things haven't been going right and people around you have let you down.

Will you look away from everyone else, and everything else and right now look to Jesus?

"Father, others have let us down.  We have let others down.  Help us, Lord, to keep our focus on you.  Amen."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

It's nice to have a complete pastoral team together.

I really enjoyed our worship time together.

"Revelation" is a great worship chorus.

Both my teams lost - and lost bad this weekend:  Michigan State and the Dallas Cowboys.

I can take the Cowboys losing, but not in the manner they are - they have quit on the season.

My wife is a good cook.

Amanda is going to make a great addition to our pastoral team.

I am getting into the habit of eating a donut between services - don't know if that is bad or good.

Heard good news about our ladies missions trip to Guatemala.  Look forward to them sharing.

Enjoyed taking a walk with Debbie on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Invited someone from Cardinal Fitness to come to church - they said they would come and didn't.  But I'm going to keep on asking.

Quote from the show, "Blue Bloods."  "Life is not fair - but you can be fair."  It was from a grandfather to his granddaughter.  Great statement.  Even though life might not treat us in a fair way, we can always respond in a way that is fair.

May we all be "fair" this week.......

Thursday, October 28, 2010

criticism

God is really working in my life concerning criticism.

I don't like it - and I think I am in good company - I don't think any of us do.

And yet, even at this stage of ministry (after 30 years), I am still learning, still growing, especially in this area of handling criticism.

Comedian Steve Martin said, "Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes."  Funny stuff.

I guess that I was kind of naive in thinking that after we relocated into our new church facility, that everyone would be happy, overjoyed, and thrilled.

I was wrong.

Now then, don't get me wrong, I am not throwing stones - it is just human nature to have an adjustment period, and I understand that.  All of us, including me, have a hard time with newness and with change.

I guess I was thinking, "after all of my hard work and time, surely everyone will recognize how hard I have worked and join in with me in the joy of what has been accomplished."

I was wrong.  How selfish of me to think that way.  No one owes me anything.  The church was built for God's glory and for His Kingdom.

One author writes, "no leader is exempt from criticism, and his humility will nowhere be seen more clearly than in the manner in which he accepts and reacts to it."

Wow, if that's true (and it is) than I have a lot of room for growth.

In his book Confessions of a Pastor, Craig Groeschel offers some advice on how to handle critics.

He writes, "It's a fact that "hurt people hurt people." They usually dislike themselves and criticize others in a misguided effort to validate themselves. If one of these injured souls lobs a criticism grenade in your direction, defuse it with understanding. Part of considering the source is seeking awareness of what that person may be going through.

One time I was praying during worship, a few moments before preaching. Eyes closed, focusing on God, I felt someone slip a note into my hand. I never saw who it was, but the note was marked "Personal." I thought to myself, Someone probably wrote a nice note to encourage me before I preach. A warm, loving feeling settled over me as I unfolded the paper.

A moment later, I lost that loving feeling.

Evidently, the note was from a woman who had tried to see me on Friday, my day off. She took offense at my absence and blasted me with hateful accusations. This happened literally seconds before I was to stand up to preach. In that moment, I had a choice. I could internalize the offense and become demoralized and discouraged. Or I could ask myself, I wonder what she's experiencing that caused her to lash out?

I chose compassion over depression. My heart hurt for her. I knew that such a disproportionate reaction must indicate deep pain, so I didn't take her note personally.

Consider the source. And consider the possibility that the jab may have come from an injured heart. Dismiss it and move on. If you don't, you may become the very thing you despise."

That's my prayer (me - George) this day - that I would be even more open to receiving criticism and wise enough to know how to respond.

"Father, help me in this area.  I desire to be the leader you want me to be.  I desire to be the godly man you want me to be.  Amen."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gain through loss

One of the lessons I have been learning lately is a principle that Jesus constantly taught and modeled.  It's as we loss that we win.  It's as we humble ourselves that we are exalted.

That those who want to be strong must learn to be weak, those who want to be first must learn to be last, those who want to lead must learn to serve.

These are paradoxes.

What are some of the actions that show this paradox?


Apologizing

Deferring to others

Avoiding shortcuts

Telling the truth

Offering kindness

Seeking alliances

Volunteering to take the short straw

Choosing the long-term, sacrificing the short

Demonstrating respect to all, not just the obviously strong

Sharing credit and be public in your gratitude.

Risking the appearance of weakness takes strength.

One author writes, "One of the most powerful people I know always gets my coffee when I visit his office. He has a secretary; he could tell her to do it. He could point in the direction of the machine and say, "Help yourself to some coffee, if you like." Instead, he attends to it himself, and he remembers: "A ton of creamer and no sugar, right?"

Paul writes, "For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Now if I could just do this stuff.......

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Honestly praying

One of the things I know in my relationship with God is that I can pray honestly.  I can be real with God.  I don't need to use certain words or say it in a certain way, in fact, God expects me to dialogue and converse with him in a way that implies that we have a relationship.

David prayed honest prayers in the Psalms.

Sometimes we don't understand how David could have prayed such direct and almost argumentative prayers with God. 

Part of understanding the "why" of how David could pray that way is that in his culture, (and in the culture of Jewish people today) people obtain relational intimacy through working through unpleasant feelings, even by arguing if necessary.  Confronting each other is a sign of intimacy in the relationship.  That is how trust and intimacy grows.

I would offer that is the way God looks at prayer.  Sometimes we grow closer to God by bringing God all of the "unpleasant" things about our relationship:  our sadness, disappointments, laments, complaints, and even our anger. 

Based upon God's relationship with Moses, David, Gideon and Elijah, he can handle our honesty.

Listen to the words of Habakkuk in Habakkuk 1:2,3:

"How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?  Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice?  Why do you tolerate wrong?  Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds."

That honesty. 

May we all be honest with God today.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Had a great weekend with George and Becky (and three of George's friends from Evangel).

George took photos of his sister.  He does a great job - she could be a model.  Check out the photos on facebook.

Becky and I had a great time at the Michigan State - Northwestern game.  It was very eventful.

Michigan State came back and won.

Sat behind four guys who were drunk at 11:30 A.M.  Had to move - they left and then we moved back.

There was a woman behind us - four rows back that was screaming her cheers for Northwestern.  I mean screaming.  Did I say that she was screaming?

We got lost on the way to the game. 

Asked one guy for directions, he said he was from Chicago and didn't know the way to the stadium -with an Eastern European accent.

We got stuck in a traffic jam on the way back from the game.

Had hot dogs for breakfast (10:30 A.M.)

Good times!

We missed Andrew, Christie and Georgia being with us this weekend.

Fat Ricky's has great pizza.

We are going to miss Stephanie Hiller on the piano.

We are really looking forward to Amanda Boon coming on staff!

Leisa McNamara is the best Impact girl's ministry leader I have ever worked with.

It was fun to watch the 5 girls "crowned" last night. 

The Bears lost - again.

The Cowboys play tonight - I don't know if I can watch - they are playing so bad.

Busy week - meetings each night.....

Really looking forward to my time with new members tomorrow night.  There are 8 of them!

Accomplishing a vision is never easy.

Just about the time you think you have someone(s) "figured out" they become "unfigureoutable."

Hurting people hurt people.

I am thankful for God's love.

I am thankful that God loves me with an unconditional love.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

C.S. Lewis and our view of God

If there is one thing that is consistent about evangelical speakers is that they quote C.S. Lewis.  And rightly so. 

I am in the midst of a series entitled, "What do I do when I believe in God but......".  One of the subjects I won't be able to get to is:  "What do I do when I believe in God but he's not the God I think He is?"

We all have different perceptions of God.  Most of them based upon our tradition, our church background, our parents, our circumstances, even what part of the country or world we live in.

That is why I must continually keep my focus on what the Bible says about God.  It is the absolute, the last Word, the authoritative story of who God is and how he acts and reacts in our lives.

Okay, now on to C.S. Lewis, who wrote this (in his powerful book, "The Problem of Pain":

"What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, "What does it matter so long as they are contented?"

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, "liked to see young people enjoying themselves," and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, "a good time was had by all."

That is so true.

God is not as much concerned about my happiness as he is concerned about my holiness.

He desires me to walk in holiness, for it is in walking holiness that I can truly connect with Him.

With God, it is not "Miller Time" or "living life with gusto".  It is walking in humility, peace, joy and love, which in and of itself will bring about a life of abundance.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How God feels about you

In relationships, perception is so important.

Let me explain.

The way I perceive how you feel about me has a profound effect on our relationship.

If I think you are angry at me or disgusted with me or indifferent toward me - whether you really are or not - our relationship will probably be tainted, possibly broken.

If I think that you are happy with me and want to get to know me better - whether you really are or not - our relationship will probably be strengthened, possibly becoming friends for life.

That's why it is a good thing to share with one another on a fairly consistent basis that we love and like each other (this is especially true in the marriage relationship).

We all need assurance from time to time (in every relationship that we have) that we are loved and even liked by that person, that boss, that fellow employee, that neighbor, that person in the church.

We all like to be liked.  We all love to be loved.  It's the way that God has wired us.

I can go one week on one compliment - someone saying that they love me or even like me.

It's what encourages us - strengthens us - allow us to go on.

Let's transfer this concept with how we feel about God.

Tragically, many believers have perceptions of how God feels toward them that are not accurate, and these perceptions create unnecessary distance.

Many people project on God the way their parents felt about them or the way they have felt about themselves. In light of these human tendencies, it is so important that we realize today:

God loves us.

God is for us.

Turn to the sidelines and you will see God cheering for you.  Look past the finish line and  you will see God applauding your steps.

Listen for him in the bleachers, shouting your name.

The scriptures even say that God has "your name written on his hand."  (Isaiah 49:16)

I take a lot of encouragement in that thought today.

How about you?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unconditional love

We live in a culture of conditional love.

The attitude is, "as long as you do what I say, and never hurt or offend me," I will love you.

As long as, as long as, as long as.

Yet Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche communities, told the following story about persevering in our practice of unconditional love:

"I know a man who lives in Paris. His wife has Alzheimer's. He was an important businessman—his life filled with busyness. But he said that when his wife fell sick, "I just couldn't put her into an institution, so I kept her. I fed her. I bathed her." I went to Paris to visit them, and this businessman who had been very busy all his life said, "I have changed. I have become more human."

I got a letter from him recently. He said that in the middle of the night his wife woke him up. She came out of the fog for a moment, and she said, "Darling, I just want to say thank you for all you've doing for me." Then she fell back into the fog. He told me, "I wept and I wept."

Sometimes Christ calls us to love people who cannot love us in return.

They live in the fog of mental illness, disabilities, poverty, or spiritual blindness. As we serve them, we may only receive fleeting glimpses of gratitude.

But just as Jesus has loved us in the midst of our spiritual confusion, so we continue to love others as they walk through a deep fog.

May we all love one another - unconditionally.  Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Worship Sunday morning - anointed, inspired, life changing.

Dedicating Jason Schultz as "unto the Lord"....a privilege, priceless

Eating lunch at Baracco's with Shultz family.....great food, great fellowship, great fun.

I like chicken when it is cooked with Italian seasonings.

Italian food is fattening - but I love it.

My men's life group on Saturday's - wonderful group of guys.....solid discussion.  It's fun for me to be around men who desire to grow in God.

If you want to see a mindless, shoot em up, flick - see RED.

If you desire to see a thoughtful, life changing movie that causes you to pause and think - don't see RED.

My Dallas Cowboys - penalties, mistakes, interceptions.  How long can Wade last in Dallas?

Jerry Jones is now a patient man?

God is good - all the time.

I don't know why some people do or say the things they do or say - my purpose is to continue to love them.

Some people are just not "figureoutable."  (I just made that word up).

We are excited about Amanda Boon coming - her first service will be October 31st.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

mercy and judgment

One of the phenomenons of life is that when we make a mistake, we crave mercy.  When someone else makes a mistake, we slobber after judgment.

James 2:13 states, "Mercy triumphs over judgment".

Mercy always triumphs over, wins over, is always right before judgment.

I always say that if I am going to err, I want to err on the side of grace.

Let me put it plainly:  if I hurt you, I feel bad and want forgiveness (mercy).  Human nature says, if you hurt me, I want not only forgiveness asked for, but judgment and punishment in return.

I understand that.  But it being human nature doesn't make it right.

I was reading this week that (and I quote),"Brooks Conrad, second baseman for the Atlanta Braves, had the final out of the ninth inning bounce right between his legs and out into center field, allowing the San Francisco Giants to score what turned out to be the winning run of the playoff game last night between these two teams.

It was his third error of the game, and I noticed, as the manager brought in a new pitcher, that the rest of the infield gathered at the mound, but not Conrad. He was standing out at second, alone in his misery. It wasn’t that his teammates shunned him – it doesn’t take an invitation to come to the mound – but what seemed clear was that he couldn’t face them knowing he had let them down.

Someone needed to go out there and give the poor guy some grace and mercy, and maybe they did, but I only saw the few seconds the TV camera caught of him, and that picture spoke volumes. Five players and a manager standing around the pitcher’s mound, and Brooks Conrad alone at second.

Do you know anyone who is alone at second? A co-worker whose mistake cost the company a deal, a musician bumped off the worship team, a single mom who can’t go into church for fear of being judged, a kid who can’t learn the way everyone else can, a neighbor who is gay? Take it on yourself to go and extend grace and mercy to that person. It’s what we all need and what God has offered to each and every one of us: grace (what we don’t deserve) and mercy (exemption from what we do).

Actually, the guy at second is the one who stands to find this out sooner than most."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Response to betrayal

You and I will eventually be betrayed in life.

It's inevitable.

The question is not "when" but "what am I going to do when I am betrayed?"

Let's face it - betrayal hurts.  From a mate who's spouse commits adultery, to a co-worker who says or does something to get the promotion over you, betrayal hurts.

We think it will never happen to us.  We think that because we are "good people" that others will see that and hesitate, pause and not follow through on an act or word of betrayal.

Not so.

Here's what I know:  when I am betrayed, I am not going to stop being open and vulnerable.

I am not going to stop being real.  I am not going to stop trusting.

One author writes, "I remember times of betrayal that cut deep into my heart, pain beyond a flesh wound. These are the deepest cuts that never seem to heal, a soul wound like Frodo stabbed by the ring-wraith's sword, an ache that will not heal. I remember times of fear wondering how the money would stretch, how the family would be fed and would we keep the house for another month.

If we live, we will all suffer pain. If we truly live and love as Jesus calls us to, we will suffer deep pain, because our hearts will be open. As Jesus shows, in fact, we are promised trials, rejection, hurts and the like. Jesus never promised a life free of anguish, but he understands--he had enough moments to cry out to the Lord, even to the point of sweating blood. That’s anguish."

I'm thankful Jesus understand my hurt in the midst of betrayal.

I'm thankful that Jesus will never betray me.

I'm thankful that through the Holy Spirit I can receive help and healing.

How about you today?

Yet Christ continued on with his mission and died for us - the ultimate act of vulnerability.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

The Dallas Cowboys are a very bad football team.

Michigan State is a very good football team.  Go green, go white!

Mimi's cafe has good food.

We welcome Amanda Boon to our pastoral leadership team!

Amanda and Stephanie leading worship yesterday - priceless.  Anointed.

God's presence was in both Sunday morning services in a powerful way.

Frank Wolf is a great guy.

Christians can sometimes do creepy, weird and crazy things.

Christians can sometimes be loving, kind and gracious.

Something always hurts worst when it comes from a friend.

Ironically enough, ministry always takes place in a deeper way from a place of woundedness.

God is doing great things in our church.

The Dallas Cowboys need a new football coach.

There is no discipline on the Cowboys football team.

I am now "hooked" on a Starbucks coffee (one) every morning.  Tall, bold pick of the day, two creams, one sugar.

I am praying for a spiritual revival in our church.

It was fun meeting Amanda's parents - great people.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The person who always tries to "fix" your prayer request

I must admit, that it is a continual source of irritation to me when I share my heart or give a prayer request, and someone is there who wants to immediately "fix" my problem.

Most of the time, when we share our "burdens", we want prayer and someone to love on us.  We want to walk through the emotional experience of relieving some of the anxiety and stress.

On his blog, "Stuff Christians Like", Jonathan Acuff writes this:

"The guy who tries to fix when your problems when you make a prayer request.

You might have experienced this individual. You might not be familiar with his moves and maneuvers.

But please allow me to give you a few warning signs so that you know what to do the next time he rears his head:

4 signs you’re about to be “prayer fixed.”

1. The phrase “why don’t you just?”

This is the signature phrase of prayer fixers the world over. Having problems at your job? “Why don’t you get a new job?” Don’t like your landlord? “Why don’t you just move?” Boyfriend being a jerk? “Why don’t you just dump him?” Keep an open hear for this handy phrase.

2. The solution is always stupid obvious.

The prayer fixer doesn’t really have any deep insight, but instead usually just blurts out a solution the average orangutan would have figured out. If you’re house burned down, the prayer fixer will tell you that you should really be more careful around fire. If a squirrel got inside your attic and had what one can only assume is a well attended “squirrel dance off,” they’ll tell you, “You should keep squirrels out of your house.

3. It always happens more than once.

Everyone gets one free “prayer fix.” Even your best friends are going to pipe up when they hear you constantly complaining about a boyfriend who is a jerk. That doesn’t mean they’re a prayer fixer, it might just mean they love you. Listen for a repeat offender, someone who can’t help constantly trying to fix your problems in the middle of your prayer request.

4. If cornered, they will claim they have the “gift of discernment.”

Be forewarned, prayer fixers are slippery like river otters. If you confront them, even in Christian love, they will often tell you that they’re not judging your problems or trying to fix them. They’ve been blessed with the gift of discernment. Don’t believe them. Tell them you’ve been blessed with the gift of “water balloons” and then hit them with one.

Am I advocating a water balloon fight in the middle of a prayer circle? I suppose I am, I suppose I am."

Great stuff....I love it....Are you a "prayer fixer"? 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Why should I pray about something more than once?

Why should I pray for something more than once?

I mean, after all, if God knows what I am thinking before I think it, if God knows my needs even before I ask, and if God is more than willing to meet my needs, why do I need to pray persistently?

In Daniel 10, we find that Daniel is troubled concerning a vision that he received.  So he begins to pray.  And he struggles in prayer for 21 days. 

Have you ever prayed for 21 days about something?

I have.  I've been praying about several things for months, if not for years.

But why?

Why is that needed and sometimes even necessary.

Jesus gives a parable in Luke 18 which states that because of the persistence of a widow - a judge heard her case and gives her justice.

Is God like a mean judge that I have to badger in order to see my need met?

Is God deaf?

Do I think I have to keep bothering Him until He throws up his hands in disgust and says, "If I don't grant their request, I'm going to go bonkers?"

When you get a chance, read Daniel 10:10-12.

Verse 12 states, "Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, Your words were heard, and I have come in response to them."

In other words, every time you and I pray, not only does God gladly hear our prayers, but he sends his angels out to answer our prayers.

However, the scriptures tell us that Daniel kept praying because a demonic force rises up (the prince and Persia), spiritual warfare breaks out and the answer is delayed.

It's almost like the curtain of a play or musical is drawn back and we see the spiritual reality of what happens when we pray.

Here's what I know:

When we pray - we turn loose the very powers of heave
When we pray - we have the power to battle the very forces of darkness
When we pray - angels are willing to fight - to answer our prayers.

Hebrews 1:14 tells us, "Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation."

My prayers, your prayers, carry weight.  Every time you and I pray about something, we unleash more and more power from the throne of God.

That's why our prayers must be forceful.  Active.  Persistent.

I encourage you today to not give up in your prayers for that _______________ (and  you fill in the blank).

Unleash heaven today!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Guidance and prayer

Christine O'Donnell is the republican candidate for the office of senator of the state of Delaware.  Today on the radio (820 A.M. Chicago), they were poking fun at the fact that she mentioned that "God had told her something...had given her guidance..." or something like that.

I understand the fact that two non-Christians cannot wrap their minds around the fact that as followers of Christ, we believe that we can communicate with God and God communicates.

As it has been stated, "when we talk with God, we call it prayer, when God speaks to us, we call it schizophrenia."

On the radio station, they were joking that God probably has a voice like Ernest Borgnine or Morgan Freeman.  And does God begin speaking to us with a Brooklyn, "Jo"?

Yet, as believers, we know that God does communicate with us.  Either through the Bible, or through other teachers of His Word, or fellow believers or from God himself.  It probably won't be in an audible voice, but there are impressions, leadings of the Lord that he gives us.

I understand the humor behind what they are saying, but in the end, when all is said and done, we all shouldn't talk about things we don't know anything about.

Here's a prayer that I found today, concerning guidance, anxiety and fear from Thomas Merton.

I encourage you to pray this prayer today...as I have:


"My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Not do I really know myself,

And the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road,

Though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, I will trust you always,

Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

And you will never leave me alone.

Amen"

And again, I say, "Amen."

Monday, October 04, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend

Had a great, first meeting with my men's life group.  Wide diversity.  Great group of guys who want to draw closer to the Lord. 

We will be studying men in the Bible.  Their lives and how the example of their lives can help us draw closer to the Lord.

Michigan State won.  MSU versus Michigan next Saturday!

Chris August can really, really sing. 

Jill Phillips and her husband Andy can really, really sing.

I appreciated the humble attitude and willing spirit of these Christian artists.

I loved the song by Chris August entitled 70 times 70. 

Forgiveness is a choice.

We will never cease to be hurt and we will never cease to be challenged to forgive.

Worship isn't necessarily a song that we sing but an attitude of heart that we bring.

Life group Sunday evening was great.

We had a great time discussing was causes us to be lonely.

What causes you to be lonely?

Leadership can be a lonely experience.

The consistency of always being "godly" can be a lonely experience.

The Chicago Bears looked really bad last night.

In listening to Chris August, being out in the world (he toured with Ashlee Simpson for a year) is not what it is cracked up to be.

I can't wait to speak again this Sunday.

I am praying that God will send us a move of his Holy Spirit.

"Father, send your fire"!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

People before projects

Our district superintendent made a comment (which I have heard him make before) during his sermon that (and he was looking at me) now you can "get back to pastoring" (the first phase of our building program being through).

What he meant by that is that during a building program, there is a tremendous amount of responsibility that a lead pastor deals with concerning the process.  Meetings, conferences, dealings with contractors, government officials and lawyers.

I did my best to keep practical ministry to the forefront. 

However, one of the benefits of having a lull in our building process is that I can go back to focusing in entirely on people. 

After all, "People" is what this whole thing is about.

You and me.  Our needs.  Our hurts.  Our wounds.  We really need each other.

People don't care how much you know (or do) until they know how much  you care.

This Saturday, I am starting a life group for men ages 18-40.  I am really looking forward to the process of discipling around 7-8 men.  If you are reading this and would like to come - come.....we have three more slots left open.  9:00 A.M. - 10:00 A.M.  First and Third Saturdays.  Conference room at the church.

It's sheer, hands on ministry.

Henri Nouwen writes, "A few years ago I met an old professor at the University of Notre Dame.  Looking back on his long life of teaching, he said with a funny twinkle in his eyes:  "I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work." 

"This is the great conversion in life:  to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God models our hearts and prepares us for his return."

Great stuff.

May I be "interrupted" many times today.

With much love.....George

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Praying Psalms 70

David is my favorite character in the Bible.  A man of peace, a man of war.  The "apple" of God's eye. 

A man's man who was not afraid to express his feelings to God (and to us).

Many, many times in my life I have gone to the Psalms and prayed one of them - especially in the time of need.

Let's paraphrase Psalms 70 as a prayer today:

"Help, Lord, I need you right now!  Things are going on that need your direction and guidance in my life.

There are those who seek to bring shame and confusion in my life, I don't know why, but they are either intentionally or unintentionally bringing disorder.  Please deal with them as you see fit.  May everyone who desires to bring me down be turned back in disgrace.

May those who say to me, "Aha, aha, look at what you have done in the past, be turned back in shame.

But....may all who seek you during these times, rejoice and be glad in you!  May those who love a deep and abiding connection with you always sing out, "Let God be exalted"!

Yet...Lord...that is hard to do.  I am weak, full of failures and faults.   So come quickly, Lord.  You are my help and you are my deliverer.  Please, please do not delay."

Amen.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

anonymous

You’ve heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. But have you ever heard of OLDER BROTHERS ANONYMOUS?

The older brother in the parable of the prodigal was mean spirited, critical, complaining and negative. 

Have you ever been to a "confession service" where people have confessed their sins?  I have.  They might say, "I'm dealing with (name your substance) and need prayer."  Or, "I'm having a problem with lust, or gambling."  Or, "I am dealing with depression."

But not one time have I ever heard someone stand up and say, "I am dealing with a negative, complaining spirit and need prayer."

That especially bears fruit (in the negative sense) with this whole thing of saying or writing something under the guise of being "anonymous". 

Nothing is more destructive, mean, or sinful as writing or saying something negative or critical under the category of being "anonymous". 

The Bible tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of peace, of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

"Anonymous" words, "anonymous" comments create fear in the body of Christ and are meant (either intentionally or unintentionally) to intimidate, cause dissension and anxiety.

Beside all of that - they are cowardly. 

Disclaimer:  I am not talking about giving anonymously, or giving praise anonymously, or doing something nice for someone anonymously - in fact the Bible praises such actions and attitudes.

But you know what I mean.

Here is my counsel to the body of Christ:

Don’t write or say anything that you won’t sign your name to.

If you receive a negative, anonymous note, ignore it! If they’re not willing to sign their name, it’s not worth reading. Don’t take heed to it.

Like the pastor who received an anonymous note with nothing but the word “FOOL!” written on it. The next morning he got in church and said, “I’ve gotten many notes without signatures before, but this is the first time I got one where someone forgot to write the note and just signed his name!”

Finally, if you have found yourself making negative, anonymous comments, ask God for forgiveness - because ultimately, you are only hurting yourself.  Do you really think God doesn't notice that stuff?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Stephanie Hiller is a great worship leader.

I am proud of our church family.

I love our church family.

My granddaughter, Georgia, is a wonderful, beautiful, personality filled little girl.

My granddaughter can smile and frown on cue.

I like it that my son-in-law and daughter (Andrew and Christie) are serving God.

It was good to see Andrew's parents, Fred and Sue, who came in for the dedication.

Rick Odden is still crazy, as in crazy fun.

The Dallas Cowboys won a game.

Jon Hollowell is a hard worker in the church.

It was very meaningful for my dad to pray the dedication prayer.

I love my mom and dad.

Sandra Jamerson is a great singer.

Debbie Smith works very hard and does a great job.

P.F. Changs has great Sea Bass (with spinach).

I love my family, Debbie, Christie, Andrew, Georgia, Becky and George.

I took at 3 hour nap Sunday afternoon.

No matter how hard you try, you can't please everyone.

We've built the building, now we need to build the church.

I'm thankful that Holly Schwider has stepped in and helped us out with the choir.

It was a privilege to have the Orland Park mayor with us, as well as our state representative.

We have a lot of work to do.

Thanks again to everyone!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dedication Sunday

This Sunday we will be dedicating our new church facility. I am really looking forward to it.

Our church family has worked very hard. I am sooooooo proud of them. If you are reading this and attend Stone, thank you very much for your prayers, hard work and giving.

We could not have done it without you.

It has been a total team effort.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone.

I sense and believe that God is going to do great things in our new church campus.

I love this verse that was shared, from Haggai 2:9, "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."

Here is my prayer:  "May it be so Lord. May we receive your glory in such a way that we will truly be a lighthouse in the midst of the darkness that we sense and feel in the Southland of Chicago. May we be a place of peace. May we be a place of rest.

We love you, Lord, and desire your presence most of all.  Amen."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ACTS

One of the acronyms for prayer is ACTS.

Adoration.

Confession.

Thanksgiving.

Supplication.

It's a great sequence and it is found in Daniel 9.

Daniel, of course, is a book of prophecy. In the previous chapters, Daniel is receiving prophetic words (in the sense of foretelling) about the future of Israel and the world. BTW, he is around 90 years old at this time.

Daniel 8:27 shares with us that Daniel is exhausted and becomes sick for several days. He's appalled by what he sees. It's beyond his understanding.

So what does he do? He prays.

He has a long conversation with God.

It's from his prayer that we can glean a pattern of prayer for our own lives, especially in times of desperation.

Even before praying, Daniel jumps into the word of God. He reads God's Word. That's just a great principle to remember - that as we pray, it's good to have a Bible nearby. It's great to read God's Word as I converse with God.

Daniel then goes on to pray with urgency and passion. God desires that we pray with passion.

He prays, "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands." (verse 4)

In other words, Daniel focuses in on who God is. He "adores God". (A) Adoration.

It's amazing how things always look better when we realize the power and compassion of God over our lives.

David writes in Psalm 29:2, "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness."

First of all, let's all slow down and praise God for who He is.

Adoration helps me get my focus off of my problems and on to the power. Off of my circumstances and on to the creator.

Then Daniel confesses his sins, and he confesses specifically. 17 times in the next few verses he admits his sins (and the sins of Israel) by using the pronoun we, or us.

Again, we go to David who writes, "If I cherish sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." Psalms 66:18.

As I worship God, I begin to realize how far I have fallen short of God's perfection. I realize that I need to repent. I have sinned against God and have done what he hates. The majority of Daniel's prayer is spent in confession.

(C) Confession.

Then we go on to (T) Thanksgiving.

In verse 15, Daniel prays, "Now, O lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day."

We express thanksgiving for what God has done and is doing in our lives.

A grateful heart is always an open heart to God's working and will in our lives. By adoring God, confessing to God and thanking God, it's harder to be selfish.

What is it that you can thank God for today?

Finally, Daniel presents his requests to God (S) Supplication.

He prays with urgency.

When we pray, we don't have to hold back.

Hebrews 4:16 tells us, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence."

James 4:2 puts it clearly, "You do not have because you do not ask."

Let's ask today - and ask boldly.