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Thursday, December 22, 2011

What does God want for Christmas?

What does God want for Christmas?

Me.  You.  Our devotion.  Our praise.  Purposeful conversation.

I've said for years that the "reason for the season is Jesus" and that's correct.  But in another sense, "the reason for the season is you and me."  Jesus, the son of God becoming a son of man so that we who are sons of men might become sons of God.

Immanuel - God with us.

Died for us and rose again that we might have a relationship with Him.

God, more than anything else this week, desires that we commit (or recommit) our lives to Christ.

And converse with Him.

I was reading today of a little boy who knelt at his bed and said his bedtime prayers.

He prayed, "Lord, please bless Mommy, and daddy, and brother and sister.  And Lord, please give us a good day tomorrow.  And please give me a bicycle for CHRISTMAAAAAAS!"

The boy's mother heard him yelling and wondered what was going on.  She walked into her son's bedroom and said quietly, "Son, you don't have to scream and yell, God can hear you."

The boy looked up with his big brown eyes and said, "but Mom, I know God can hear me, but Grandma can't hear very well, and she's down the hall!"

What God desires from us this Christmas is a quiet, meaningful conversation with Him.

I would encourage all of us to slow down for just a few moments each day until Christmas Day, and share with the Father of how much we love him.

And God will be blessed.  And God will smile.  And God will be pleased.

Merry Christmas to everyone.  Debbie and I love you all - very much!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't go by your emotions!

Don't go by your emotions!

Good advice.

Most of the time our emotions are based on circumstances that come our way.

If circumstances are good - we "feel" good.

If circumstances are bad - we "feel" bad.

While some of that is natural and normal, we must continually resist the temptation to be "ruled over" or controlled by our emotions.

Whose report am I going to believe?

I am going to believe the report of the Lord.

You have had the experience and so have I.

A police car pulls up behind you with its lights flaring and flashing.  What emotions do you feel?  You feel kind of sick inside - right?  A flash of fear and regret comes.

You probably begin to feel nervous.

Your heart starts pounding, ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom.

Even if you get a bit of relief when the police car pulls out to the side of you in pursuit of somebody else, it can take a few moments before you get your emotions back into check and in line with the facts.

Don't depend upon your emotions.

They can lie.  They can "not" tell the truth.

They can lead you down the wrong path. 

Instead, stick to the facts.

An element of "these things too shall pass" needs to come into play.

When it comes to our walk with Christ, we must learn to rely on the truth of God' s Word and His over 7,000 promises to us. 

I encourage you today to go back to the Bible.  Read the Bible in your time of emotional stress and need.

And it will calm your fears, and soothe your soul.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Belly buttons and the church

We all have one.  A belly button that is.

Some have "outies".  Some have "inies."

(I know what you are thinking - where in the world is he going with this - and how does it apply to the church?)

Well, a church can have an outward focus or an inward focus. 

A church can move forward by faith and seek to save the lost - or it can be mired in the past and the sole end game of meeting its own felt needs.

As a church, are we an "iny" or are we an "outy"?

Jesus said in Mark 11:20-23, "Have faith in God.  I assure you that you can say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and your command will be obeyed.  All that's required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart."

Some people along the way have stopped believing in a mountain -moving God because:

- A small group experience didn't meet their expectations, so they no longer believe God can lead them to the right group.

- The people they invited to church came but did not become Christ-followers, so they no longer believe that the Holy Spirit can use them to reach the lost.

- They tithed but still suffered a tragedy in their life, so they stopped believing that God would bless their obedience.

- Someone in the church hurt them, so they don't trust anyone, anymore, at anytime.

When people stop believe in a mountain-moving God they:

- establish more policies and committees that help the church steer clear of pain.

- get stuck in their favorite ways to "do" church so they can feel secure.

- criticize their leaders for taking chances.

- chose to be suspicious of their people (leaders) rather than trusting.

- shy away from making difficult decisions.

- actually begin to believe that the church is only about them and their ministry.

- fill their conversations with what has happened in the past.  "I remember when we (and you fill in the blank)," they say.

Here's what I would suggest for 2012.  In order for our church to be blessed and bear fruit we must stop being "inies" in the faith and become "outies".

We must focus on those who do not know Jesus while at the same time focusing our attention on the amazing power of the Holy Spirit!

Any church can be an "iny" (with a sole focus on themselves, their feelings, their needs, and their wants). 

May God help us to continue to look outward - to a lost and dying world.

Will you join me?  Will you join me as we attempt to reach the lost through Upward Basketball, City Church outreach, inviting people to our small groups, bringing someone to church, talking about Christ with someone on a weekly, if not a daily basis?

And God will bless us for it.  God will bless you for it.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

We had 710 in attendance yesterday for our two Sunday morning services.

God did a great work!

Many, many came to Christ.

The production was practically flawless. 

As we depend upon the Holy Spirit - God does great things!

A huge thank you to everyone who participated.  Thank you for your faithfulness, hard work and time!

Truly, we do "have a Savior"!

We prayerfully anticipate building off of yesterday and ride some spiritual momentum into an even greater future for our church.

God is faithful.  All the time.  God is good.  All the time.

Thank you Amanda!  You did a wonderful job!

To see young and old alike in the musical - priceless.

If I could say this, I was really pleased and proud of my wife Debbie - her song was beautiful and anointed by God!

Met a lot of new people yesterday - and family and friends of those who go to our church.

Picking up a little boy who was running around at the beginning of the first service in the chapel - priceless (it reminded me of me when I was growing up).

We are a family church - a church with an emphasis on family.

That's who we are.

That came through yesterday.

Met with Pastor Aldin and Jon Hollowell today concerning Upward Basketball.  We are a go!  We are going to have our first, official league!

Jon and Cheri - wonderful soldiers in the army of God.  They are picking up the "torch" of Upward Basketball - giving of their time and effort (and prayers).  Jon and Cheri - we love you!

Thanks for all that you do!

We are thankful for a committed, godly leadership team for Upward Basketball! 

I also want to thank our church staff for all their hard work this year.

Many thanks to Pastor Aldin who has and continues to "fill in the cracks" on what needs to be done at our church.  His stable leadership in many areas is a big help.

Thanks to Noah for his willingness to "pitch in" and doing anything that is needed.  We are grateful for all that God is doing with the teenagers of our church.

Thanks to Amanda - again, the musical was powerful, filled with the ministry presence of God! 

I want to also thank our office staff, for their many long hours of work and faithfulness (most of which is "behind the scenes").   Thanks to Debbie, Jan and Rosemary - Mike as well (our church custodian).

Our child care is doing well.  Thanks to Shirley and her staff.  Thanks, Lord for helping us out!

We need each other.

As we stand together, united, we will do a great work for God on the southwest side of Chicago.

God has great things in store for us in 2012!

I am excited about the future!

Merry Christmas, my dear friend - Debbie and I love you very much!

Oh, and by the way, the Dallas Cowboys won.  You thought I would forget to put that in this week, didn't you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Conversing with God

A lot of times people don't pray because they think they don't know how to pray.

In reality, prayer is simply having a conversation with God, through His Son Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit's help.

If someone is not a great "conversationalist", than the Holy Spirit can help them as they communicate with the Father.

However, at its core, prayer is not a science, nor are there "seven steps to successful praying," - prayer is an art.  It is birthed and participated in out of a relationship with God.

The more I know God, in one sense, the easier it is to talk with him. 

The big difference, I would think, between knowing God and knowing others, is that I believe it is a lot easier to "get to know" God than it is other people.

Others can have hidden agenda, baggage from their past whereby they don't want to converse - God has none of those things.

God is never in a bad mood.  He never has a bad hair day.

He's always the same.  Always ready to communicate with us in a positive way.

He never has one of those days where he wants to hunker down and be by himself.

He never needs just "me time."

God desires to communicate with you.  God desires to communicate with me.


While there are no "seven steps to successful praying" (and by the way, what is successful praying - getting what I want or what God wants - just a thought), let me give you some tips that might help you in your conversations with God.

Scriptures teaches us that I pray "to the Father" (John 16:23) and in the name of Jesus Christ (John 14:12-15).

The Holy Spirit helps me (if I allow Him to) as I pray (Romans 8:26).

I must converse with the Father knowing that I do have rights and privileges in coming to Him.

I must always pray in sync with God's Word.  God will never grant any request that is contrary to His Word (John 15:7)

I must pray in faith, believing that God not only hears, but will answer (James 1:6).

I must thank God in advance (through praise) for the answer (Philippians 4:6).

At any rate, if comforts me (and I trust you) to know that I can talk with the Father anytime, anywhere.  And he is always there. 

God doesn't have voice mail.  He doesn't put me on hold.  He answers my "tweets" immediately.

Without hesitation.

So, have multiple conversations with God today.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I can't or I won't?

This past Sunday I shared one of my life verses from Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I love that verse.

It is a "can do" verse.

I like to hang around "can do" people.  Those who don't make excuses.

The polar opposite of "I can" is "I can't".

When asked to minister, to volunteer, many times Christians will respond in the following:

"I will go home and pray about it."  Translation?  That means it is a flat out "no."

"I will go home and speak with my spouse about it."  Again, not much of a chance there.  You might see snow in the Sahara desert first.

Others say, "I just can't.  I'm too busy."  Well, I understand that and even empathize with that.  Some of us need to learn to say no.  We can't do everything.

But then there are those who say, "I can't," but what they really mean is, "I won't".

"I don't want to do that."

Some Christians say:

"I just can't get along with my spouse."

"My spouse and I can't communicate."

"I can't discipline the kids like I should."

"I just can't give up the affair I'm having."

"I can't stop overeating."

"I can't find the time to pray." 

"I can't quit gossiping."

"I can't help out at the church."

What they really mean is this:

"I just won't get along with my spouse."

"My spouse and I won't communicate."

"I won't discipline the kids like I should."

"I just won't give up the affair I"m having."

"I won't stop overeating."

"I won't find the time to pray."

"I won't quit gossiping."

"I won't help out at the church."

Those who are non-Christians have every right and reason to use the word, "can't".

Why?  Because they really "can't".  They aren't connected to Christ.  They aren't relying on the Holy Spirit.

They are victims, trapped and bound like wounded animals in a trap set by Satan and our culture.

Here's what I know:  it is very hard to do anything without Christ.

It is hard to change anything without Christ.

It is hard to commit to anything without Christ.

But with Christ?  I can do all things.

Is there a "won't" in your life that you've been calling a "can't"?  Give that over to the Lord today.

And memorize Philippians 4:13.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

I am grateful to the Lord for the way that He continues to watch over His church.

Stone Church is God's church.

God will always, always take care of His church.

God continues to send us great people.

I am thankful for all of our new visitors and guests.

Don't forget Upward Basketball (if you have a child - boy or girl - in grades K-6).  We have 26 kids signed up!  Praise God!  Could always take some more!

Great to hear God's word spoken yesterday (by memory) by Caleb Czaja and Kaitlyn Hong (Hebrews 1 and 6 respectively).  Young people speaking forth God's Word - priceless!  Good work young people!

Thanks to all of our TBQ and JBQ leadership - we appreciate all that you do.

Christmas is the season to give all of our stress to God.

Christmas is about Jesus.

Christmas is a time of joy and peace. 

Our church is filled with good people who love God and each other.

God is doing something very, very good in our church.

I encourage everyone to invite a non-churched friend this Sunday for our annual Christmas musical.  I will be giving an appeal to everyone to connect with Christ.

Can't wait to see my kids again at Christmas.

Tim Tebow - what can I say?  God's man for the hour.

Never "bet" against a man of God.

My Cowboys - I can't even write anything.  My lands.

Many, many thanks to our church family for the Christmas love offering yesterday to our church staff!

It's a privilege to serve you as pastors and staff.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Popping off

I have purposed in my heart that in 2012 I am going to really work on "popping off".

I am supposed to be a "man of God," but I still wrestle with saying things that I shouldn't in the heat of the moment.

My prayer is that I would continue to grow in this area.

I read something last week that really, really has helped me - and give me a target to shoot for.

Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, this we all know.

One Super Bowl.  Consecutive wins (I don't know how many exactly - 12 this year).  Maybe another Super Bowl coming up.

Probably will be in the Hall of Fame some day.

Yet what really strikes me about Aaron Rodgers is his ability to live and act in a dignified way. 

When he first came into the NFL he sat on the bench behind Brett Favre.  For several years.  He had the arm.  He has the talent.  He studied.  He worked hard.

But even more than this - he kept his  mouth shut when a very hungry Green Bay fan base wanted him to play - and in doing so take a shot at Favre, who was doing absolutely nothing in the way of mentoring Rodgers.

That's a rare form of courage and toughness.

During this season of his life he sought out Steve Young, who had endured a similar, difficult apprenticeship behind the great Joe Montana.

Steve Young coached Rodgers with this statement by telling him this, "never, ever allow yourself the cheap thrill of saying something just to make yourself feel better for a moment because something is unfair or not right.  That always backfires on you.  It never works out in the long run.  And I'll tell you what:  I've given that advice to other people and they have not heeded it, because it's hard....just do your job.  Play football.  And the benefits are great when you just hang tough.  Don't play the victim.  Don't complain."

Good stuff. 

May we all be blessed with that kind of patience, courage and understanding.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sunday listening

Listening is a lost art in our culture today. 

Our culture dictates hour hour shows, actually 23 minute shows with 7 minutes of commericals.

Face book.


Everything is quick and fast.

If a point can't be made in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, "forget about it."  (said with a New York accent).

We are losing the ability to listen.

Now, to a certain extent, I am not pointing a finger at anyone - because even as a speaker, my mind can begin to wander (especially in the second service).

So, let me give you some "do's" of listening on Sunday mornings.

Do assume that the subject will be something you want to listen to.  Avoid the habit of thinking, "I've heard that before," or "this doesn't apply to me."  Any message will have a fresh insight or a helpful illustration that could apply to your life.  Listening closely will confirm that.

Do give the speaker the benefit of the doubt.  Teachings and sermons are imperfect.  All speakers have faults and idiosyncrasies.  If you focus on them, you will miss some profitable points being made.  Listen for substance and avoid the trap of only listening to someone who fits the style that you like.

Do listen to the entire teaching before forming an opinion.  Some subjects are charged with intense emotions.  Effective listeners keep an open mind and restrain from arguing or agreeing (internally) until they fully understand the intent of the sermon itself.

Do take notes.  It is a known fact that writing down the points of an outline and a few thoughts during the sermon keeps the mind from drifting off course.

Do come in (as much as possible) to the service on Sundays well rested and off a good night's sleep the night before.  Give God your best - not the leftovers of your week of busyness.

As a listener, I always have the attitude that there is at least one "take away" that I can go home with.

No matter who the speaker is - I am always open to that one point (and sometimes that one point has been life-changing).

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I love the church

I believe that at this stage in my pilgrimage on this planet, I can begin to say things like, "I have given my life for the church."

My ultimate allegiance has been to Jesus Christ, but my whole ministry life has been in service to His body - the church.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "I will build My church."  And it is his church.

It is not "my church" or "your church" but it is "His church".

Some people see the church as a gas station. For some people today, the church is a place where you fill up your spiritual gas tank when you're running low. Get a good sermon, and it will keep you going for the week.

For others, the church is like a movie theater. For many people, the church is a place that offers entertainment. Go for an hour of escape, hopefully in comfortable seats. Leave your problems at the door and come out smiling and feeling better than when you went in.

Another view is that the church is like a drug store. For other people, church is the place where you can fill the prescription that will deal with your pain. For many the church is therapeutic.

For others still, the church is like a big box retailer. Other people see the church as the place that offers the best products in a clean and safe environment for you and your family. The church offers great service at a low price—all in one stop. For many people, the church is a producer of programs for children and young people.

The church is more than all of that.  It is a place of love, forgiveness and acceptance.  A place where I can grow in God and grow with others around me.

I love the church. 

I know that in over 30 years of serving different churches as both a pastor and a missionary, that it is worth it all.

Let me tell you why.

Let me tell you why I believe in the church.

In such a superficial world of tweets, short sound bites on face book and other ways of communicating, the church is one of the only places where issues such as death, judgment, relationship, purpose, lasting priorities, meaning in life, identity, heaven and hell are discussed.

The church gives you and I meaning and purpose.  I find my identity through a relationship with Jesus and His church.

The church stands upon the one absolute that we can all stand on - God's Word.  God's word is timeless.  Cultures may come and cultures may go - but God's Word endures.

The church is the only place where people (or should be the only place) care.  I mean really care.  Not for what you bring - but for who you are.  We are not concerned about where you have been, only where you are and where you are going.  Status and money mean nothing in God's church.  Only a heart that seeks after God.

The church gives.  And gives.  And gives. 

The church needs you.  And you need the church.

I love Jesus.  And I love the church.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

We had another great group of men at my men's life group last Saturday.

I really enjoyed hanging out with guys who are "going after God".

Growing in God in an individual thing before the Lord but also a "we" thing.

We really do need each other.

Accountability is a must - especially for men.

Really pleased with the response to the teaching yesterday - in both services. 

First service response - a wonderful time together around the altar looking forward and praying for the future of our church family.

Second service response - praying for the needs of those who desire to "keep on walking" in life.

God calls me to persevere.  His calling is to give me the power to do so.

Busy, busy time of year.

Amanda did a great job in leading in worship yesterday.  We are grateful for a worship leader that loves God!

Thanks to all of the many, many volunteers who make a Sunday service happen.  You are loved and appreciated.

My teams lost this past weekend:  Dallas Cowboys and Michigan State.  Oh, well.

God is leading us - let's all continue to seek his face!

Great to have lunch yesterday with two new families to our church.  Quality families who love God.

Let's focus in on Jesus this season.

You are loved and appreciated!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

"I am not a grasshopper!"

The Bible is a book of pictures.

Scripture gives us a picture of God, a picture of the devil and a a photo (God's photo) of you and me.

We will accept one of these three possible evaluations of our lives.

What you think about you.

What Satan thinks about you.

What God thinks about you.

Whose "photo" of you are you going to believe?

In Numbers 13, we see the nation of Israel sending 12 spies into the "promise land" to check it out.

A reconnaissance patrol so to speak.

10 "spies" came backing saying, "In our opinion, we are like grasshoppers.  Even the giants think we are like grasshoppers."

2 spies (Joshua and Caleb) came back saying, "we can go in and take the land."

I've heard a lot of people talk as if they belonged to the First Church of the Grasshopper!

"I am nothing," they say.  "I am unworthy."  "I can't do anything."

Let me ask you this - Did God create you?  Yes.

Does God create trash?  No.

God doesn't create cheap merchandise.

We are his creation.

We have worth.

We have value.

God desires that you succeed in life.  God desires that you live in faith and power.

I encourage you to quit saying, "I am stupid, I am dumb."  I encourage you to stop all of the negative self talk that flows through  your mind every day.

Instead, have the mind of Christ. 

Think to yourself and even say aloud, "I have the mind of Christ.  In Jesus Christ, I am somebody.  I can do all thinks through Christ who strengthens me."

My dear friend, you are no Grasshopper!  So quit talking like one!  Quit living like one!

Be God-conscious, not giant-conscious.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Again - "Pay it Forward"

The main focus of my "pay it forward" participation (at the beginning of September) was at the Starbucks around the corner from our church.

"Pay it forward" is where you or I pay for someone's meal or purchase as a token of love and servanthood - with the idea that they will "pay it forward" to someone else.

It's been almost three months - and it is still talked about at the Starbucks with those who work there.

I drove through the drive thru today, and the server there told me this story:

She said that someone else this week came through the drive thru at Starbucks and told her that she wanted to pay for the person behind her.

When she asked, "how much," the server at Starbucks said it was over nine dollars.

The woman in her car said something like, "really?  What did they get?"  And then decided not to pay for the person behind her.

The server at Starbucks complimented me for my paying for the people behind me (last September) no matter what the cost - and she said, "the world would be a better place if everyone were like you."

Now, it's not me she is talking about personally - but simply the idea of reaching out and helping someone in love.

May we all reach out this week with a verbal word of encouragement or an actual action of love.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Geese, unity and encourgement

I am sitting here in my office on a late Tuesday afternoon, paused, and caught the sound of geese flying above our church building.

Honk, honk, honk.

We have a lot of them around us this time of year, mainly in the field next to us.

When I hear that sound, I go back to the illustration of encouragement and unity that I have used for years.

Geese fly together in a "V" formation. 

They do that because it actually gives them 71 percent more efficiency in their flight and journey.  When one goose is in trouble, two leave and join the one goose until it can get back up in the air again.  They're committed to each other.

We all need encouragement from time to time and we all need to give encouragement to others (what goes around comes around).

Encouragement, it is said, is like peanut butter on bread.  If you spread it around, it just helps things stick together better.

Can I ask you to do something this week?  Encourage someone around you - whether they "deserve" it or not.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Great, I mean a totally wonderful Thanksgiving Day with my family!

Debbie out did herself with the meal that she prepared.  Delicious!  Spectacular! 

The Dallas Cowboys won - barely.

Had a great time playing basketball with my nephews and my brother and dad.

Watched Debbie's favorite movie - Elf.

I love listening to Debbie laugh as she watches "Elf"

It was wonderful "hanging out" with George, Becky, Christie, Andrew and the two grand kids.

My grand kids are perfect - but aren't they all?

I love to go in and pick up Kinley (the 4 month old) right after she wakes up.  She is a true jewel.

Her smile simply melts me.

Georgia is fun to listen to as she articulates her feelings.  She is always, I mean always on the go.

It was fun spending most of the day on Saturday with Becky - Go Michigan State! 

Rainy day for a football game at Northwestern - but we still had fun.

I am proud of all of my children - and love them very much.

Had a wonderful service yesterday with great crowds in both services for a Thanksgiving weekend.

God is on the move in our church!

Thankful for all the guests who came yesterday - I would encourage all of our church family to reach out to them.

Throughout the ups and downs and victories and defeats of life - Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I have a wonderful, caring, loving wife.

I enjoy worshipping with God's people.

Leftover turkey sandwiches with mayonnaise and pickles - nothing better.

Love you all!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Many times we don't realize what we have until it is taken away.

That is so true.  Whether it be our health, a personal friend or family member or even something as superficial as a material possession, we don't realize what we have until it is taken away.

Until there is a contrast.

We don't appreciate light until we are in the dark.

We don't appreciate a home cooked meal until we've been on the road for days if not weeks.

We don't appreciate the heat of summer until we are in the bone chilling cold of winter.

We don't appreciate the cool of fall and the cold of winter until we are in the stifling heat of summer.

Isn't that true?

You see, thanksgiving and appreciation are often related to contrasts.

One of the challenges that we (who have grown up in the church) have is that when someone is saved at an early age, and they never do anything terribly wrong or sinful in their lives, that they can begin to have feelings of self-righteousness and pride.  As if they deserve their salvation.

There hasn't been a whole lot of contrast in their lives.

And that can be dangerous.

Now, I am NOT saying that the answer is to go out and live an awful life so that you can have contrast or a "testimony".

I am saying the answer is to see that self-righteousness stinks as badly as any other sin that anyone could commit.

The problems is not that we need to go out and do something to create this contrast that we are speaking of - the problem is we really have the contrast and we just don't know it.

Many are steeped in the sins of self-righteousness, pride and self-sufficiency.  But because of the lack of recognition of contrast - they remain blind to their need.

We need to recognize that apart from Jesus we are nothing.

And that's something to be thankful for this week. 

That the creator of the world, the God of the universe, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live and die for my sins - whether I have grown up in the church - or just walked in from the streets - it is all the same.

Thank you, Lord!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend

It's a beautiful day today - and I am really getting geared up for my favorite day of the year - Thanksgiving.

Looking forward to seeing family.

Looking forward to seeing my children (and son-in-law).

Looking forward to seeing my grandchildren.

I have much to be thankful for.

We continue to see numerous guests come to our Sunday morning services!

We continue to brainstorm on how we can do an even better "job" at connecting these wonderful people to our church family.

All we can do is be faithful.

As we are faithful with a little - God will give us much.

Let's focus in this week (and be thankful) for what we DO have and not on what we DON'T have.

As I change myself, people around me will change.

I can't change anyone - only God can change people.

I am responsible to people, but I am not responsible for people.

Attended David Dewes life group Saturday evening.  Wonderful time of fellowship. 

David "slow cooked" a Turkey - It was delicious.

Meet a new family - who also invited another family to come yesterday.

God is up to something good!

I am thankful for a group of men in my men's life group (we meet last Saturday morning) - who desire to grow in God.

Great leadership potential in the lives of the men in my life group.

My desire is to see lives transformed by the power of God's spirit.

The Dallas Cowboys record:  6-4.

Who would have thought they would be in first place on November 21st?

I am thankful for a great pastoral staff to work with.

I am also grateful for a wonderful support staff!

Thanksgiving:  Food, Fun, Fellowship, Family, Football - and most of all - giving thanks to the Father.

I say, "Be blessed this week"!

Love you all, George

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Just about the 10th time someone says, "you know, George, we love you and Debbie, and we love Stone Church, but there is this issue about speaking in tongues, so we have decided to go to another church," it begins to wear you down.

Rejection is never, ever fun.

Remember the feelings of choosing up sides for playing (football, basketball or baseball) when you were a kid?  You wanted anything but being chosen last for a team.

Some remember not making a sports team.

Or being chosen for an activity.

Or having their heart broken by a girl or a boy.

Or failing a test.

As adults, some have experienced the rejection of divorce, losing a job, not being hired on for a job.

It goes on and on.

Rejection is never, ever fun.

Rejection hurts.

According to a Reuters article, that "kicked-in-the-gut" feeling that you get when you're ignored at a party or not chosen for a team generates physical symptoms. According to the article, "Brain-imaging studies show that a social snub affects the brain precisely the way visceral pain does."

"When someone hurts your feelings, it really hurts you," states Matt Lieberman, a social psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who worked on the study.

In the study, 13 "volunteers were given a task they did not know related to an experiment in social snubbing. Writing in the journal Science, Lieberman and Naomi Eisenberger said the brains of the volunteers lit up when they were rejected in virtually the same way as a person experiencing physical pain.

"In the English language we use physical metaphors to describe social pain like 'broken heart' and 'hurt feelings,"' said Eisenberger. "Now we see that there is good reason for this."

I guess where I am headed today is this thought - rejection hurts, so let's practice love, acceptance and forgiveness this day.  As a Christian, the Word encourages us continually to "reach out" rather than "reject" those around us.

There is so much rejection in the world - others don't need us to "pile on" as Christians.

So, when you are tempted to snub somebody or "not speak with someone" or turn your back on a friend or foe, remember this - Jesus never, ever rejects us - and we are to encourage those around us as well.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trust in God

Stephen Erickson once wrote an article entitled, "How to choose a dentist."

He writes:

"Never trust a dentist who wears dentures.  Whose drill is driven by a system of pulleys connected to three mice on a treadmill.  Who sends you a Christmas card and charges you for it.  How chews tobacco and spits the juice into the sink.  Who uses the suction hose to empty your pockets.  Who is also a barber.  Who sprays his equipment with Lysol to sterilize it.  Who uses lead for fillings.

Great stuff.


Here's what I know:  People will let me down (and I will let other people down), but I can always rely on God.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I can trust Him.

I can trust God.

Each day has "enough trouble of its own" as Jesus said in Matthew 6:34.  Each day can present unpredictable events in our lives - events filled with surprises and trials and anxieties.

You might have an accident on the freeway, be fired form the job, be the victim of a personal attack, be mistreated, robbed, slandered, or threatened with a lawsuit.

Not fun stuff, but it is true.

Stuff happens.

Stuff leads to worry and worry leads to fear - and a lack of trust - in God.

We think, if not say, "who can I really trust"?

I would suggest that we can trust in God.

David writes in Psalms 56:3, "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee." 

In other words, I will lean on, rely on, rest in, surrender to, depend on, relax in God's presence.

How can you and I do this?

By being totally and completely convinced that God is trustworthy. 

God cares.

God is reliable.

God doesn't fumble the ball.

God doesn't work part time.

God is available to me anytime and anywhere.

And when He says, "this won't hurt a bit (as a dentist does) - He means it."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I have read every John Grisham book that he has written, except for his Theodore Boone children's novels.

The coupling of "easy to read" and suspense is a great combination.

One theme that is a constant thread throughout all of his books is this:  Suspicion.  Something has gone wrong and motives are probed, evidence is analyze, in short, suspicions are raised.

All of us have a "built in" DNA of wanting to pry deeper into anything, whether it be a suspense novel or a show on television like CSI or Prime Suspect.

Our curiosity forces us to investigate things that are just slightly irregular.

But there is a difference between the expressions of discernment (or curiosity) and carnal, fleshly, nonspiritual suspicion.

The difference may be veiled, but it is real.

It lies in the realm of motive.

Suspicion is the act of suspecting something wrong without proof or evidence.

It is mistrust.

It is doubt.

It is skepticism.

It asks questions that it knows the answer to.

It has hidden motives and agendas.

Let me share with you the difference between curiosity and suspicion.

I quote:

"Curiosity sees a cast on a leg and ask, "What happened?"  Suspicion wonders if anything happened.

Curiosity listens to a speaker and thinks, "How did he come up with that - what's his technique?"  Suspicion doubts the validity of the statement or the motive of the speaker or both.

Curiosity observes an irregularity and challenges simply, "Why?"  Suspicion entertains the immediate idea, "What's wrong here?  Who's to blame - who's at fault?"

Can I say this?  I am always suspicious of people who are always suspicious.  Of those who think that everyone has a hidden motive for everything they do.

You and I both know that there are things we do and say in life without any motivation whatsoever.  We just say and do them.

As the French philosopher and theologian, Blaise Pascal once said, "The heart has its reasons that reason doesn't understand."

So....why not be a little less "suspicious" today - and love and accept people for who they are.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

People need the Lord - all over the world.

God is moving - across this planet!

Challenging message yesterday from David Raley.

We are to think globally - not just the four blocks surrounding us.

We live a global world - where you and I can be anywhere in a matter of minutes.

I am thankful for all of our volunteers at our church - if you are reading this - please know that you are loved and appreciated.

Life in Christ is daily. 

We are to focus on Christ today.

Let's all be in prayer for our Upward Ministry - and do what we can to help.

Wonderful time with the men last Saturday at our men's chili "cook-off".

Excellent chili.

Congratulations to Jim Czaja for "winning".  All of the entries were very, very good.

Dallas Cowboys win 44-7.  They looked like a Super Bowl team - for one week.

My opinion?  No Christmas "stuff" should be shown or sold until after thanksgiving.

There are many needs in our community - let's all continue to do our best to meet those needs.

We need you - we love you - you are important to us at Stone Church.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Rough days

You ever have a rough day?

Of course you have.  We all have.

Sometimes it can begin with the first person that you meet - I am told that they can "make" or "break" your day - or at least set the tone.  And then there is a downward spiral from there.

We say things like:

Going from bad to worse.
Jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Between a rock and a hard place.

Someone once said, "cheer up, things could get worse."  So I cheered up - and sure enough, things got worse!

"My mother told me there would be days like these, but she never said they would run in packs."

We've heard all of the sayings and cliches.

I've had people say to me, "well, just work harder, get busier." 

But most of the time that doesn't help much.

When the barn is on fire, slapping a coat of paint on the other side doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

If the tires are flat, driving faster is pretty dumb.

So what is the answer?

Galatians 6:9-18 gives us some clues.

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

In other words, don't quit.  Keep on going.  Stand firm.  Be strong.  At the right time, you and I will proper and succeed.

He goes on to write in verse 10, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." 

When we are having a bad day, our tendency is to do anything BUT reach out to others and do good.

We feel like doing evil, don't we?

Fume.  Swear.  Scream.  Fight.  Pout.  Get irritated.  Take out all kinds of deposits in our relational banks.  But those are the very days that we need to reach out, which ironically enough, will help turn our day around.

Paul continues in verse 17, "...let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus."  Great stuff.  In other words, don't allow anyone or anything to keep you in bondage.  Don't let other people's bondage become your bondage.  Don't react to their actions.

Finally, Paul writes in verse 18, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers."  He is saying there, "allow the full impact of grace to flow through your thoughts, your attitudes, your responses, your words."

Just some thoughts for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Letting go

Many times the ultimate question is not:  "What am I willing to have in my life - but what am I willing to let go?"

In the Bible (and in some cultures today) they worshipped metal images.  In our culture we worship mental images.  Images that we ruminate about in our minds.

We can become obsessed with "idols" in our lives - many times these idols being good things.  Sports, family, our jobs, our children, money, T.V., video games.

Anything taken to an excess can become an idol.

In order to have a full, complete and totally surrendered life with Christ - what am I willing to let go - or at least bring into balance?

One day, John Wesley's (the founder of the Methodist Church) house burned to the ground.  Some people found him and said, "John, we are so sorry to tell you this, but your house just burned to the ground."

John Wesley said, "That's impossible."

"No, John!  Your house burned to the ground."

"That's impossible."

"John, we saw it with our own eyes.  Your house is gone!"

"That's impossible.  You see, I don't own a house.  God gave me a place to live in.  I only managed that house for Him.  If He didn't put the fire out, then that's His problem.  He'll have to put me somewhere else."

Wesley understood that he could have something and use something without possessing it.  He didn't hold on to it so tightly that when it went down the went down too.

We "clutchers" aren't we?

We clutch power, we clutch our possessions, we clutch our positions and titles.

"Mine, mine," we say, "and you can't have it and you are not going to take it away."

It is not in our nature to let go.  To relax in God's presence knowing that God will always take care of us. 

What are you and I willing to let go today?

Don't hold on to anything in this world, friends, with a tight grip - anything can be taken away in an instant. 

The one thing that can never be taken away - is my relationship with Christ - and life in eternity with Him.

I thank you God for that.  In fact, let me say this - I love you Lord!

Help me to only, and totally, hang on to you.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Excellent Sunday morning services yesterday!

Seeing people praying around the altar is encouraging.

God's ministry presence was felt in our worship!

I am thankful for worship leaders who worship while they lead!

Yesterday was Amanda Boon's one year anniversary.  Thanks to Amanda for her leadership in our worship and fine arts ministry.

God does oppose the proud - I desire to walk in humility.

That is a daily process.

Some days we walk in the spirit - other days we walk in the flesh.

My desire is to have more spiritual days than fleshly days.

Part of spiritual maturity is doing what is best for the group and not for the individual - and following through on commitments.

To find someone who is committed to God's kingdom - priceless.

Debbie and I attended Leo and Mary Ann's life group last night - wonderful!

Great fellowship, good food, wonderful discussion of 1 Peter 1:3-5.

I love to hang out with God's people.

We have a lot of good people in our church who love God and each other.

My daughter, Christie, and son-in-law, Andrew sent pictures of Georgia and Kinley (my granddaughters).  They are beautiful.

Being a grandparent brings a tremendous amount of joy in my life.

I've never really completely understood Paul's statement in Philippians 1:21 until recently:  "For me to live is Christ - but to die is gain."

Some scriptures are never completely understood until we reach a certain age or season in our lives.

Would I like to be in heaven?  Yes.  Is there much more to do on this planet while I remain?  Yes!  People to lead to the Lord.  Leading people to Christ.  Loving my family.

I am for the Chicago Bears tonight as they play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Go Bears (tonight)!

Didn't get to see the Dallas Cowboy game - but they won - I guess it was an "ugly win".

Can't wait to see my kids and family at Thanksgiving.

I love my wife - my best friend - and biggest fan and cheerleader.

Let's all have a great week - and depend upon the Holy Spirit to walk in the Spirit!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Complaints and Hank

Frank Sinatra used to sing, "Regrets, I've had a few....I did it my way...."

Many church goers could sing, "Complaints, I've had a few....I want it done my way...."

Paul writes in Philippians 2:14, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure."

John Ortberg gives us the story of Hank.

He writes:

“Hank, as we’ll call him, was a cranky guy. He did not smile easily, and when he did, the smile often had a cruel edge to it, coming at someone’s expense. He had a knack for discovering islands of bad news in oceans of happiness. He would always find a cloud where others saw a silver lining.

Hank rarely affirmed anyone. He operated on the assumption that if you compliment someone, it might lead to a swelled head, so he worked to make sure everyone stayed humble. His was a ministry of cranial downsizing.

His native tongue was complaint. He carried judgment and disapproval the way a prisoner carries a ball and chain. Although he went to church his whole life, he was never unshackled.

A deacon in the church asked him one day, “Hank, are you happy?”

Hank paused to reflect, and then replied without smiling, “yeah.”

“Well, tell your face,” the deacon said. But so far as anybody knows, Hank’s face never did find out about it.

Occasionally, Hank’s joylessness produced unintended joy for others.

There was a period of time when his primary complaints centered around the music in the church.

“It’s too loud!” Hank protested – to the staff, the deacons, the ushers, and eventually the innocent visitors to the church.

We finally had to take Hank aside and explain that complaining to complete strangers was not appropriate and he would have to restrict his laments to a circle of intimate friends. And that was the end of it. So we thought.

A few weeks later, a secretary buzzed me on the intercom to say that an agent form ISHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – was here to see me. “I’m here to check out a complaint,” he said. As I tried to figure out who on the staff would have called OSHA over a church problem, he began to talk about decibel levels at airports and rock concerts.

“Excuse me,” I said, “are you sure this was someone on the church staff that called?”

“No,” he explained. “If anyone calls – whether or not they work there – we’re obligated to investigate.”

The suddenly the light dawned: Hank had called OSHA and said, “The music at my church is too loud.” And they sent a federal agent to check it out.

By this time the rest of the staff had gathered in my office to see the man from ISHA.

“We don’t’ mean to make light of this,” I told him, “but nothing like this has ever happened around here before.”

“Don’t apologize,” he said. “Do you have any idea how much ridicule I’ve faced around my office since everyone discovered I was going out to bust a church?”

Sometimes Hank’s joylessness ended in comedy, but more often it produced sadness. His children did not know him. His son had a wonderful story about how he met his wife at a dance, but he never told his father because Hank did not approve of dancing.

Hank could not effectively love his wife or his children or people outside his family. He was easily irritated. He had little use for the poor, and a causal contempt for those who accents or skin pigment differed form his own. Whatever capacity he once might have had for joy or wonder or gratitude atrophied. He critiqued and judged and complained, and his soul got a little smaller each year.”

Now then, to my words. Great story.

What’s the greatest tragedy of this story? Is it that Hank wasn’t changing? Is it that Hank didn’t realize that he needed to change?

Or is it this: that we in the kingdom get so used to Hank acting this way that we don’t expect that he would progressively become the way Jesus would be if he were in Hank’s place.

We don’t expect Him to change? Can Hank change, I don’t know. In my heart I doubt it. But I must never give up praying or Hank or encouraging Hank, believing that one day, God might do a miracle in His life.

And by the way, if I ever, I mean ever, show tendencies of become “Hank”, you have my permission to verbally spank me, and spank me hard.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


One of the things I continue to struggle with is allowing other people's emotional "ups and downs" to affect my emotional well-being.

In a previous church, I ministered with a volunteer who was in leadership - who was constantly either "way up" or "way down" in his emotions. 

He wore his emotions "on his sleeve".

When we met, I spent the first 5 to 10 minutes taking his emotional temperature - and then served with him accordingly. 

I found myself riding his emotions as well - his emotional state became my emotional state.

It nearly drove me "batty".

As a care-giver, one of my strengths is that I can be very sensitive to how people are feeling at the moment.  But it can also be a weakness if I allow myself to "ride" those same emotions.

Riding the proverbial roller coaster of others emotions can lead to disastrous results.

I can be in a situation and someone can be acting like an idiot - and I can walk away from that situation feeling like I was at fault (when I wasn't) or worse yet, responding to the person's idiocy with idiocy.

We never fight a dragon by becoming a dragon.

We never fight an idiot by becoming an idiot.

Here's what I know:  You and I are responsible to people - but we are not responsible for people.

If someone is angry towards a situation (or me) - I am responsible to them by reacting in a godly way.  I am not responsible for their anger and think it is a reflection on me.  In other words, I don't need to "fight anger with anger".

If someone is distraught towards a situation (or me), I am responsible to minister to them as best I can.  I am not responsible to think I can personally change their situation or behavior (how can I do something that only God can do - and many times in a miraculous way at that?).

I can't change anybody.  I can't make anybody think exactly as I do.  I can't make anybody act exactly like I want them to.

We pastored in Carlsbad, New Mexico for 3 years.  It is a small town or around 28,000 people.  When I was there, I always wondered how they could get along in such a small situation.

Here's what I learned - they would say - when it came to someone who was acting in a negative way - "Oh, that's just Bill.  That's the way he is."  "Oh, that's just Jane.  That's the way she is."

In other words, you can't change Bill, so accept him the way he is, deal with him as he is - and you and I will jump off the emotional roller coaster that Bill leaves us with.

Is there a point when you and I need to step in and speak with Bill?

Yes, when:

Bill is affecting the unity of the church (family, business, team).

Bill is affecting the working (ministry) of any group of people.

Bill is embarrassing himself.

Ultimately, if I love and care for Bill (or Jane or whomever) enough, there will be a point in time when I will need to speak with Bill - but it must be for his benefit - not mine.

Anyway, I trust that all of this makes sense - for a Wednesday....and now if I can just live this stuff....

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

critic or cheerleader

There are always two options in life.

Am I going to be a critic - or am I going to be a cheerleader?

I love to hang around positive, encouraging people.

Churches especially need what every football (sports teams) have:  Cheerleaders.

The job of a cheerleader is to tell everybody, "we're going to make it."  No matter how bad things looks on the scoreboard, there is still hope!

Frank Wolf is a cheerleader.  David Dewes is a cheerleader.  Joan Minsky is a cheerleader. 

John Hiller is a cheerleader.  Amanda Boon is a cheerleader.  My wife, Debbie is a cheerleader.  (I could mention several more in our church).

I always leave their presence feeling better about our church.

Cheerleaders cheer all the way to the end of the game and will act like the team is winning by a big score even when there may be no way that a victory is possible.

Their job is to be a cheerleader.

We need cheerleaders at Stone Church (there are enough critics).

Recently, we've received an influx of people coming who walk in with broken lives, hurting because of life in general.  They need to run into cheerleaders - people who are willing to cheer them on and tell them that they are going to make it.

They need someone to step aside the normal groups they hang out with in the foyer on a Sunday morning and reach out - reach out with love, acceptance and forgiveness.

May that be us! 

I encourage you today - the next time you come on a Sunday morning - look around for someone to encourage!

Be a cheerleader - and God will bless you for it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

I am reminded of that movie with Clint Eastwood - "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly."

This weekend had the "good", the "bad", and the "ugly."

First of all the "good".

Many raised their hands, signifying they accepted Christ as their Savior in both of our services yesterday.  I am thrilled!  Prayerfully thankful. 

There is nothing like connecting with Christ.

People need the Lord.

People desire God - many times they just don't realize it.

My desire is that lives be changed - for God's glory.

This whole thing is about Jesus.  I am a one man band with one song that has one word - Jesus.

We can never underestimate what the Holy Spirit do in the life of any individual.

"Keep the fork"

Have you ever been at a dinner party and the host said, right after the main course, "keep your fork, the best is yet to come (dessert)"?

I handed out plastic forks yesterday, reminding us all that when we die, the "best is yet to come."  So, "keep the fork".  Each time you pick up a fork this week, remember that "the best is yet to come."

Wonderful to see a "full" second service.  People hungry for God.

Everlasting is a great tune.

We have nothing to fear - especially as we stand together.

There is power in unity.

Ethiopian proverb, "when spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."

There is nothing we can't do - as we do it together.

Wonderful "truck or treat" last night - many new folks were there with their kids.  Great spirit.  Lots of fun.  Thanks to everyone who participated!  Creative stuff!

Many thanks to Pastor Aldin and his team of volunteers!

The bad:

Michigan State looked horrible this past Saturday against Nebraska - scoring only three points.  Enough said.

The ugly:

The Cowboys lost to the Eagles, bad, last night.  It was ugly, ugly, ugly.  That's all I can say (still going through the grieving process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).

Oh well, it is a beautiful day (in the neighborhood) here in Chicago!

Let's rejoice - God is up to something great in our church!

I have never been more excited about the present and future of our church!

Love you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

second look

Last Saturday, Michigan State beat the University of Wisconsin in the last second.

A "hail Mary" pass that succeeded.

At first, the referees said that the State player (Nichols) didn't cross the goal line.

The coach for MSU threw flag out of his back pocket and asked for a review. 

Play was stopped while the call was looked at.  We waited with baited breath (whatever that means).

The call was reversed.  We rejoiced (Becky, my daughter, graduated from Michigan State - go green!  go white).

When we as Christians pray, God in heaven, stops to take a second look.

On many occasions, things will reverse because we ask for a review (and like a coach throw the red flag).

God welcomes the flag of prayer.  It is His communication mechanism.

Don't hesitate today to go to the Father and ask for a review - a second look.

And know....that the big difference between God and a referee is that God has your best interests in mind.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jesus our attorney

Our church attorney is on my speed dial. 

With the sale of our old property, I am in constant contact with him.

We have become friends.

However, and no offense to him, I look forward to the day that he and I no longer have a work relationship.

I've been thinking lately about the fact that Holy Spirit is - in a sense - our attorney.

Jesus said in John 14:26, "but the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name...."

The Holy Spirit is our counselor.

A power of attorney is a legal right to sign on someone else's behalf.  That's exactly what happens when you and I pray.

When we pray (as followers of Christ), "Our Father....." the Holy Spirit delivers our prayer to the Father. 

But before God responds, He looks over to Jesus and asks Him if He is signing the note.  Jesus is our power of attorney.  He is the one who signs off on our prayers.

I'm thankful that we have an attorney who is not only for us (in the spirit realm) but He is the best there is.

So...go to the Father today with boldness!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ketchup, hot dogs and the French

If there is one thing that I have learned in my four years living in Chicago - is to never, ever, and I mean ever, put ketchup on a hot dog.

The heavens tremble, the earth shakes, perhaps even hell itself opens up when someone does so.

The late great Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago columnist Mike Royko said it better than anyone in a column on November 21, 1995:

"No, I won't condemn anyone for putting ketchup on a hot dog. This is the land of the free. And if someone wants to put ketchup on a hot dog and actually eat the awful thing, that is their right. It is also their right to put mayo or chocolate syrup or toenail clippings or cat hair on a hot dog. Sure, it would be disgusting and perverted, and they would be shaming themselves and their loved ones. But under our system of government, it is their right to be barbarians."

Perhaps we are more French than we let on.

In and effort to fight against obesity and to keep the French youth, well French, France's government has essentially banned ketchup from primary and secondary school cafeterias.

Ketchup will only be served with - what do you think - of course - fries.

Apparently, ketchup is being rationed in order to "ensure that French children remain French."

French fires and other fried food like chicken nuggets will be served (in France) only once a week, but France's famous crusty baguettes will be available daily.

I'm not quite sure what all this means.  Does it mean the end of time as we know it?

Does it mean that we are coming to the "end of the age"?

Are we more "French" than we let on?

Important questions for our day.

Who needs to wrestle with war in the Middle East, the economy or who is going to be the next president of the United States?  The important question is:  Ketchup, yes or no?

And BTW, nothing has been said yet in France about mayonnaise. 

Just a thought for a Tuesday.  :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Beautiful wedding - Mandy and Jake!

Congratulations to this wonderful couple - we love you!

Weddings are can feel the nervousness and joy!

I am thankful for what God did around the altars yesterday - many were ministered to by the Holy Spirit - uplifted in the midst of their trials and suffering.

Thanks to Stephanie Hiller for stepping in and leading us in worship!  She did a great job!

It is a privilege and joy to worship the Lord.

Many, many guests (visitors) yesterday including some young families.

God is moving - and up to something good!

I love our church.

Michigan State - winning in the last second with a "hail Mary" touchdown pass.  Priceless.

Great, great men's life group meeting this past Saturday.  It is encouraging (and a privilege) for me to be around guys who desire to grow in God.

We are only as strong (spiritually) as our spiritual disciplines.

Beautiful day today.

I pray that you have a great week in the Lord!

With much love - George

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Corporate worship

The writer to the Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 10:25, "Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves."

The NIV says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing."

The Greek word translated "give up" speaks of desertion and abandonment.

Here's what I would suggest:  it is impossible to worship God privately and not want to worship Him corporately.

It is a lie of the enemy that you do not need Sunday morning worship.

Ministry leaders can fall into this lie.

Volunteers can fall into this lie.

Children's ministry volunteer workers can fall into this lie.

Bible teachers (Sunday School teachers) can fall into this lie.

"Mature" Christians can fall into this lie.

"Well, I minister in the church," "I don't need to come and worship on Sunday mornings," they think if not say.

Oh my.  Such deception.  Such a lie.

Let me use this analogy:  it is one thing to sit at home and watch a football game by yourself.  It is another thing to watch that same game with a roomful of people where everybody is shouting and getting excited together.

The energy brought together by being with mutual fans is many times that of what it is when a person is alone at home, watching the same by themselves.

While you can listen to a Chicago Bear's game in your car and enter into the experience of the game behind the wheel, there's nothing like the feeling of being with a group of people who are worshipping simultaneously. 

While you can listen to a morning worship service on-line, at home, there is nothing like the feeling of being with a group of people who are worshipping simultaneously.

While you can watch a televised service on T.V., there is nothing like the feeling of being with a group of people who are worshiping simultaneously.

Anybody who's worshipping God privately will worship Him publicly.

Don't, please don't, give into the lies of the enemy.

Come to church this Sunday - you won't regret it.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Looking good on the inside

As you grow older, the inside becomes more important than the outside.

As our bodies age, we realize that beauty is more than "skin deep".

In the Old Testament, God gives Samuel the assignment to find and anoint a new king. 

What was the job description?

He tells Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man look at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

More and more, I want to look good on the inside.

I desire my inward appearance to show.

God wants us to be "good looking" on the inside.

Let me use the Thanksgiving turkey as an illustration.

I love Thanksgiving turkey.

But my first love is the stuffing inside the turkey (Debbie does this just right - I can't wait).

The dressing gets jam-packed inside the turkey.  It is filled with its own herbs and spices and so takes on a flavor all its own.

The dressing gets stuffed inside the turkey and put inside the oven.

While both the turkey and the stuffing (boy am I getting hungry now) cook, the flavor of the stuffing slowly permeates the turkey, making it more flavorful than what it would have been on its own. 

The turkey becomes tastier because of the effect of what is on the inside.

Most of us are interested in the turkey, God is interested in the stuffing.  He is interested in making the inside tasty and letting the internal flavor affect the outside.

I know of Christians who spend 45 minutes getting their "outside" looking good for Sunday morning services, but not 45 seconds on the inside.

Today, how much time have you spent getting your "inside", "looking good"?

Prayer.  Reading the Word.  Listening to praise music.  Thinking positive thoughts. 

In an age of appearance - where everything is based on the outward - let's be counter-cultural and ask the Holy Spirit to make us "good looking" on the inside.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

People nobody wants

Here's what I know:

When we go after people nobody wants - God will send us people everybody wants.

It's true.  God's desire for Stone Church is that we continue to reach out to the disadvantaged, the "down and outers", the ones that are the outcast of society.

It's God's will for us as a congregation.

We desire to reach people that nobody cares for, that everyone else has discarded and thrown away.

An analogy for this is the garbage collectors that come once a week and pick up your garbage.  In one sense we are "garbage collectors" as ministers in our church.

We all have garbage in our lives.  Garbage from the past.  Garbage that we hold on to in the present.

Some have more than others.

If you have garbage in your life - and you are at your "wit's end", we desire to minister to you.  We love you.

But here's what I also know:

Have you ever seen what happens to a landfill after it is filled in with garbage?  In many places it becomes a beautiful park or a subdivision where homes are built.

I've seen human garbage come beautiful too.  I've seen the stench of sin turned into the fragrance of heaven.

That's who we are and what we do.

We can't worry about what critics think or say.  Where is God going to send the "garbage" for recycling if He can't put it on our doorstep?

He'll find a place.  If we're not open for business, someone else will be.

But we want to be used by God.

When love, acceptance and forgiveness prevail, the church of Jesus Christ becomes what Jesus was in the world:  a center of love designed for the healing of broken people, and a force for God.

Come one, come all!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

We will all miss Pastor Beverly.  She was a wonderful woman of God who is now in heaven - rejoicing!

Many accepted Christ at the funeral.  I am grateful to God for that - many thanks to the Holy Spirit for working as He did.

I was thrilled at the response Saturday morning to our door to door ministry.  Over 25 people came!  "Father, may you use this effort to reach people for you"!  We went to a 1000 homes - thanks to all who came.  Thanks for your caring, thanks for your faithfulness.  Thanks for your burden for the lost.

Up and down weekend football wise.  Michigan State just hammered Michigan.  Overpowered them.  I like the way MSU plays defense.

My Dallas Cowboys.  Again, it wasn't just that they lost - it was the way that they lost.  Tom Brady did his "thing" again for the New England Patriots - leading them on a last second touchdown drive.

The Cowboy coaching staff is losing their confidence in Tony Romo.

Rob Ryan is a great defensive coordinator.

Went out to lunch with Rapael and Sharon Mercado.  Good people. 

Went to the Cracker Barrel.  I had forgotten how good their cornbread is.

I am thankful for everyone who ministers at our church.  Their faithfulness is a continual encouragement to me.

It was heart warming to see people around the altar yesterday giving their needs to the Lord.  Many tears were shed. 

God is up to something good!

People are hurting - God is the answer!

I continue to remain grateful for our pastoral and office staff.  If you get a chance, thank them for all that they do.  We have a great team!

People need the Lord.

May we all reach out to those around us this week.

Philippians is a wonderful book.

I love the new chorus Amanda has introduced to us that speaks of the fact that the "Lord is our light and our salvation."

Lord, we want more of your ministry presence in our lives!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The lost and evangelism

One of the traditional terms that I grew up with for non-churched people is "the lost".

I've always been a little bit uncomfortable with that term - not quite sure why - but maybe it's because "the lost" don't know what "the lost" means when we use that term.

Are we referring to the T.V. show "Lost"?

Did they lose something?

What did they lose?

Part of the reason we use the term goes back to what Jesus said in Luke 15 - in giving a series of stores about the "lost Sheep" and the "lost coin" and the "lost son."

What was lost - is now found.

In each story, the shepherd, woman or father, searches for the sheep, coin and son, respectively until they are found.

In Luke 15:32, Jesus says, "we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

In that sense, I understand the term.

This Saturday, October 15th, we are having an all-morning outreach (8:45 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.) in which we will be going "door to door" - inviting people to our church.  If they aren't there, we will be hanging "door hangers" on the door.

I encourage you to come.  I encourage you to "back up" your concern for the "lost" by joining us in this outreach. 

I can remember the time that our oldest daughter, Christie, slipped away on the beach we were at (she was around 3 years old, I think).

She apparently slipped away and then went back to what she thought was the lifeguard stand where we were at.

She wasn't gone but a couple of seconds (it seemed like) when Debbie and I realized she wasn't with us.

We were frantic.  I still remember (to this day) the feeling of despair. (we immediately found her).

While it might be, in one sense, a bad analogy, in another sense it is - do we care about the "lost" so much that we will do everything we can to connect them with Christ?

It is a stirring challenge.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Intercession and spiritual warfare

We are in a spiritual battle.  I taught on that last Sunday.

We are soldiers of the King.

Here's what I know:  It is important for us to realize that the battle that we fight with our spiritual enemy is not to be fought alone.  In a vacuum.  By ourselves.

There is simply no reason for any soldier in God's army to fight on their own!  That includes you and that includes me.

Let me give you a movie plot from many a war flick that I have seen.

A group of men from very different backgrounds wind up in the military and are expected to serve in the same platoon together. 

At first - they don't get along.

But as time passes and they face life-threatening situations on the battlefield, they bond together.

They go from being selfish, only looking out for themselves, to being one unit.  Looking out for each other. of them - probably the most selfish one of the group - ends up literally taking a bullet for the rest - and their lives are spared.

Here's the principle:  When we are at war (in our case a spiritual war) and the bullets are flying, that is the time that we really do need each other.

We, as followers of Christ, are all fighting on the same side, and we are expected to bond together and to help each other out.

If one of us takes some demonic fire from temptation or adversity, the others should step in to help by praying for God to intervene.

It is called intercession.

I can't always be with everyone in our church, at every moment of every day.  But I can intercede for them.

I can't always be with my children or my wife at every moment of every day.  But I can intercede for them.

I can petition God and pray on behalf of those around me.

I would suggest that right now, at this moment, there are people that are in your life who need you to lift them up to God in prayer.  You might not even be aware of their need, but perhaps the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart to intercede.

Don't let that feeling pass.  Begin right at this moment, this instant to pray.  To intercede for that person that God is leading you to pray for.

And the battle will be won!

Greater is He who is in us than he who lives in the world!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I don’t see as well as I used to. I need glasses. In fact, I should be wearing glasses the entire time. But I don’t. I only wear them when I read.

If I don’t wear glasses and I am reading something that is small in print – I can’t see - my eyes are out of focus.


Focus is a big, big word in our walk with Christ.

We need focus in our relationship with God.

As long as I stay focused on Christ – I am walking with surety and safety.

But it’s when I get my focus off of Christ that I get into trouble and need to make adjustments.

Both Jesus and James bring this out in the Sermon on the Mount and the book of James respectively.

They both mention this important thought:

You can’t walk in two directions at the same time, you can’t operate in drive and reverse at the same moment, and you can’t focus on light and darkness simultaneously.

Staying in focus is a challenge for everyone.

We must all admit that every day we get busy, we get stressed, and we sometimes get overloaded in life!

The result is that we can find ourselves focusing on the negative.

Or we lose focus on what is really important.

Or focusing on people instead of God’s power.

Here’s what I know:

As a follower of Christ, I don’t look at the world through natural eyes, but with supernatural vision. I am to look at the world through the eyes of faith.

Pastor James writes in James 1:6-8, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

What does God require of me in order to stay focused?


Hebrews 11:6 tells us that, “without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Hebrews goes on to say that the children of Israel couldn’t enter into the promise land because of unbelief.

They didn’t keep their focus on God.

It is true that God didn’t allow them in because of their sins – but their greatest offense was that they couldn’t keep their focus on God their provider.

I would suggest to you that no matter what we face, we must focus on the Word of God; we must focus on what God has promised.

There are over 7,000 promises in the Word of God.

He says yes and amen to every promise He has made to us.

Also, our focus must be on the Spirit of God and not our flesh.

Paul writes in Galatians 5:16, 17, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.”

Flesh – Spirit. They work against each other. Oppose one another.

They fight one another. Every moment of our lives.

You have heard me quote this a couple of times: “we aren’t physical beings going through a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings going through a physical experience.”

The main point is this: our physical man will perish, but the spiritual man will last forever. We must focus on building up the Spiritual man, and letting the carnal, fleshly, worldly man be conquered by the Spirit of God within us.

Here is what I know: “Wherever we operate the most, is where we will live.”

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.

We are in a spiritual battle; we don’t win by natural devices but spiritual armor.

Paul states that if we mind the things of the flesh, or constantly take care of the flesh, we will become fleshly, if we mind the things of the Spirit, or constantly take care of the Spiritual man, we will become Spiritual.

Also, our focus should be on the cross and not ourselves.

Someone once said that our sins can be washed away by the blood, but self must be nailed to a cross.

Great statement.

We all struggle with this, we all at times are selfish, in the flesh dwells no good thing.

We pray, “Not your will, Lord, but my will be done.”

Here’s the daily question: Am I going to look at things from an eternal perspective or a temporary one?

Is my focus going to be on the here and now or the then and there?

If we lose sight of the cross, everything will get out of focus. We will all be like the man who said, I will build bigger barns but didn’t realize that his time on this earth was up.

Thank God for the cross!

It is at the cross that our flesh dies; the cross is where self is emptied.

We can all admit that the cross isn’t a fun place; the cross isn’t an easy place, that is why so many are offended by the preaching of the cross because their flesh cannot receive it. It is still foolishness to the Greek and a stumbling block to the Jew.

Jesus told people the only reason you follow me is for food or to see miracles. When He started preaching the cross, drinking the cup of suffering and shame, at that time many disciples left him.

Finally, I must focus on the soul rather than security.

Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?”

I would suggest that we keep our focus on our eternal soul. If you gain fame, fortune, financial success, but lose out with God, then it is of no profit to you.

As someone once said, “If you arrive in heaven with nothing you are in better shape than someone who arrives in hell with everything.”

How focused are you today?

I encourage you to focus on God.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Good to have Debbie home again.  I am so lonely with out her.  Out of sync.  Kind of wandering around muttering, "where's Debbie, where's Debbie."  Alright - I am worthless without her.

I "cooked" at Mindy's both night she was gone.

Ribs one night - chicken the next.  Man food.

I love the beautiful weather we are experiencing. 

We call this an "Indian summer" - but I am not quite sure why. 

Probably need to "google" it.

Had a great Saturday morning men's life group.  These guys are really "doing it" for God.  I like their intensity and their desire to grow spiritually.  Good stuff.

I often mention on these Monday morning blogs how wonderful our services are - and they are.  But yesterday - wow!  Powerful worship.  People lingering around the altars.

Thanks to everyone who has sent emails to me - sharing how God touched them yesterday.

If you weren't here yesterday - we missed you!

Everyone is needed at our church - everyone is important.

Am grateful for the best staff I have ever worked with.  They are caring, kind and hard working.

Go staff!

Bears versus Lions tonight.  Bears 28 - Lions 18.  You heard it here first.

The Chicago Bears show up and the Detroit Lions bubble bursts. 

Really like the worship yesterday.

We have a lot of good people in our church.

I am thankful that we are growing spiritually as a church.  We would like to be growing numerically as well (exploding numerically) but that will come.  I guess God is still doing a work in us who remain faithful until the explosion comes.

I am thankful my children are all serving the Lord.

I am grateful that my children are serving God.

Starting a new verse by verse series this Sunday on Philippians.  I am sooooo excited about this.  I love to teach the Bible verse by verse.

I love you all.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

failure is never final

It is so important that I learn how to handle failure.

If I don't - it can limit me as to what I can achieve in life - and become a mindset that I can't break.

Norman Vincent Peale tells the following story:

"Once walking through the twisted little streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, I came upon a tattoo studio.

In the window were displayed samples of the tattoos available. On the chest or arms you could have tattooed an anchor or flag or mermaid or whatever. But what struck me with force were three words that could be tattooed on one’s flesh, Born to lose. I entered the shop in astonishment and, pointing to those words, asked the Chinese tattoo artist, "Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, Born to lose, tattooed on his body?"

He replied, "Yes, sometimes." "But," I said, "I just can’t believe that anyone in his right mind would do that." The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and said in broken English, "Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind."

To put it another way, failure can reside in between our ears, in our minds.

Failure is never final unless is let it be.

Have you ever seen those slogans on t-shirts and coffee cups?

I love to read them.

Let me give you some coffee cup slogans that will help you today:

Coach Mike Ditka once said,  "You never really lose until you quit trying."

Failure is not falling down - failure is staying down.

We all fail. 

And let me say this - we all should fail - at certain times in our lives.

If I am not failing, it means that I am not growing, I am not moving forward, I am not changing, I am not living by faith.

Someone once said, "the person who succeeds is not the one who holds back, fearing failure.  Nor the one who never fails.  But rather the one who moves on in spite of failure."

You, like me, have learned far more from our failures than our successes in life.

I would suggest that there are two kinds of people in life:

Splatters - those who hit rock bottom, fall apart and stick to the bottom like glue.

Bouncers - those who hit rock bottom, pull themselves together and bounce back up.

Paul J. Meyer once said, "Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated - they simply quit."

So, today - are you going to give up or get up?

It really comes down to a choice.

I encourage you today to make the choice to get up and keep on going. 

Keep on going at your job.  Keep on going in your marriage.  Keep on going in your ministry.  Keep on going in your family relationships.  Keep on going.

Don't live in the past.  We learn from the past but we don't live in the past.

And....with the help of will make it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Not wasting time

I saw it again and again when I attended Bible School.

Teenagers who grew up in strict homes - when they arrived their freshmen year - and the restraints were lifted - and they were able to make their own decisions - went "crazy".

Staying up late at night.  Not doing their homework.  Being lazy.  Participating in parties. 

Some ended up drinking.  Messing around.  Focused only on dating.

Not realizing the price that their parents were paying for them to go to college. 

Not realizing that college is too expensive to waste time playing around.

I see a lot of people in God's kingdom who are messing around - not paying attention.  Wasting their time on this planet that could be used in spiritual growth and discipleship.

Not realizing (or not remembering) the cost that Jesus paid for our salvation.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:23, "you were bought at a price; do not become the slaves of men."

My relationship with Christ is free - but it cost God a lot.

I want my heavenly father to be proud of me.

I want to make "good grades" and be the "best" follower of Christ I can be.

I want at the end of my life for the Father to say, "well done, you have been a good and faithful servant of mine."

I don't want to waste my time - as Paul said in Ephesians 5:17, "making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

God is my rock and fortress

Listen to the words of David in Psalms 31:1-12

1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.

6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the LORD.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

8 You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

9 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.

10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.

11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends—those who see me on the street flee from me.

12 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.

You talk about vulnerability.  David here is opening up his heart to us.

He was a man of faith, but few in Scripture suffered the setbacks that this anointed king did.

Perhaps that is why David provides us with so many glimpses of God's nature and character as revealed in His many titles, including - God is my Rock; God is my fortress.

It is out of suffering that David could point to God as a place of refuge.  That no matter what the trial, God is our fortress and we can pray with assurance, "You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me," in verse 3.

George MacDonald (in his book "Unspoken Sermons") once wrote, "That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires, without a glow of aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to Him, 'Thou art my refuge."

Good stuff.

Throughout scriptures, God is identified as our "Rock".

He is the rock upon which the church is built (Matthew 16:18).

He is our "everlasting rock".  Isaiah 26:4

He is the "rock that is higher than I"  Psalms 61:2

He is that "spiritual Rock".  I Corinthians 10:4

He is the "rock of my salvation."  2 Samuel 22:47

Each one of these biblical references share some of the unique facts of our Rock, our God.

God shelters, gives foundation, provides a defense against the enemy, nourishes and protects during trials and troubles, and He assures a secure footing as we step into each new day.

With each of these ideas, the focus of the title "Rock" is that there is an exalted, elevated, out of reach location available to you and to me - to all of us who need to take refuge in the name of Jesus Christ.

Go back with me to verses 3,4 of Psalms 31.  He is our "rock of refuge."  The Hebrew words used are "metsoodaw" (fortress) and "maoz" (refuge).  They combine to describe the following:

"A place of escape or defense conveying the idea of a city that, should the enemy seek to overthrow it, he himself will be overthrown."  In this sense the words used by David in Psalms 31 carry the idea of a snare or a trap.

THINK OF THIS:  The traps that Satan places before you today will be turned by Christ into traps that will snare Satan himself!


The word fortress (metsoodaw) brings to mind the famous natural fortress of Masada in Israel.

Masada was a towering natural fortress used by Herod the Great as a miltary outpost just before the time of Christ.

The fortress was built on a butte or mesa, which rises more than 1400 feet above above the level of the nearby Dead Sea.

It was here in 70 to 73 A.D. that Jewish zealots sustained a revolt against the Roman Empire.

And they resisted Rome three years longer than any other segment of their guerrilla forces simply because of the strength of their position in the Mesada.

Our strength, our hope, our help is in God, our Rock!

Martin Luther was one of the most influential leaders of the protestant reformation in the 14th century. This man who used of God in a great way also was given to times of deep dark depression.

One time he got really down and depressed and locked himself away in a room and wouldn’t come out for anything or anyone. His wife Kathy tried to coax him out of the room with no success. Finally she went and dressed with a black veil, and black gloves, totally decked out in black and went into the room with Martin Luther. Martin asked her, “dear Kathy, who died?”

She replied, “Why God died, Martin.” Martin jumped to his feet in an outburst of emotion and said, “that’s blasphemy woman how dare you talk like that?” To that she replied, “yes it is Martin, and so is the way you’re living.”

He got up out of the room and went and wrote the great gospel hymn “Our God is A Mighty Fortress”.

Let me leave you with one final thought.  We not only dwell in the Rock, but the Rock dwells in us. 

Remember Star Wars?  The "Force be with you"?

The "Fortress is within us"!

Be courageous this day - in knowing that you can not only live in the presence of God but that the presence of God lives in you.