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Monday, August 29, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Congratulations to Eric and Stephanie for a beautiful wedding.  It was one of the most unique weddings I have been to that totally expressed their personalities.

I told Stephanie that the "Chuck Taylor" tennis shoes that everyone in the bridal party wore - are the exact tennis shoes I wore when I played basketball in high school.  What goes around - comes around.

Loved the worship song in the ceremony.

Really like Stephanie's song (that she wrote) and Eric's DVD (that he made).

Had a wonderful time meeting with all of their families at the reception dinner afterward.  Good food as well.

It's been a full summer of weddings, baby dedications and the like.

"Help" is a very poignant movie that shows Mississippi during the 1960's.  It will bring you to tears at the end. 

I don't think I will ever, ever eat chocolate pie after see that movie.

After we saw the movie, Debbie and I went out for some "southern fried chicken" and peach pie with ice cream.

If you see the movie - you will know why we did.

Saw some great friends last night - who are moving to Germany - Rick and Teresa Odden.  We are going to miss them dearly. 

It's nice to have friends that you can just "pick up" where you left off - the last time you saw them.

I know it is starting to sound redundant (if you have been reading my Monday blogs) but yesterday's Sunday morning service was another powerful service - full of God's anointing.

I have already received one report today, about someone being healed (Nancy Healy).  Praise God!

God is our healer!

Let's all reach out and "touch somebody" today for Jesus!

I like what David Dewes said yesterday, "when I receive from God I am filled," "when I give out to others in ministry I am fulfilled."

Might I add - we are filled to be fulfilled - as we reach out to others in ministry.

People need the Lord.

We desire people to accept Christ as their personal savior - and Lord.

We give God glory for the things he is doing in and through our church.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The smell of criticism

One of the pastimes that Christians have is the act of criticism.

Many enjoy the wonderment of being able to judge others like they do a good steak.  Or a bowl of ice cream on a hot day.

We know that we shouldn't - but it feels "so good."

I read something today from Pastor Tony Evans that made me stop and pause - and I hope the same for you.

He writes:

"When my kids were small, I took them to the Fort Worth Stock Show.  This is a place where once a year various livestock are put on display.  Now, I'm no Farmer Brown, but looking at the animals was fun for the kids, so I took them.

But, it smells out there.  It stinks really bad.  There are all these animals and they could only be kept so clean.  It wasn't long after we got there that I was ready to go.  My kids begged me to stay a little bit longer, but after awhile, I couldn't take the smell anymore.  I had to get out of there!

I gathered everyone up and we made our way to the car.  It was still stinky.  We got in the car and made sure the windows were all up so we could escape the smell.  It was still stinky!  We got halfway home.  It was still stinky.

Finally, we pulled up at our house.  The sink that was at the Fort Worth Stock Show was in the house.  How could it be stinking in Dallas when the problem was in Fort Worth? 

Well, I had somehow gotten the problem on my shoes."

And then Pastor Evans goes on to write, "Well, I had somehow gotten the problem on my shoes.  It is easy to analyze everybody else, but you may actually be smelling yourself."

Generally speaking, we criticize people in the areas that we deal with - within ourselves.

Perhaps, just perhaps, as you criticize others, it is your own stink that smells.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Victory through prayer

Tonight is our weekly prayer meeting.

I encourage you to come.

Prayer is the catalyst for Ephesians 3:20, (One of my favorite verses that I use a lot in my teachings) "Now to him who is able to do exceedingly more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

I just love that verse.

God is able.

God is able to do exceedingly more.

God is able to do exceedingly more than all we ask.

God is able to do exceedingly more than all we ask or imagine.

God is able to do exceedingly more than all we ask or imagine according to his power.

God is able to do exceedingly more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work in us.

With God is is always "more".

More grace.  More power.  More of his presence.  More victories.  More faith. 

Don't sell yourself short today.  You can see God do "more" in and through your life.

Jesus is in you.  And with Jesus in you, you can accomplish some incredible things for God.

That kind of vision starts with pursuing his heart in prayer.

I believe God wants our church to be filled each week with a constantly expanding multitude of growing Christians who are learning how to walk in daily intimacy with God.

That’s really the heart of prayer, daily intimacy with God where we share our heart with him and he shares his heart with us. This is what the Bible means by abiding in Christ, remaining in his love, being constantly aware of his presence.

I dream of our church being a house of prayer, a place where prayer provides the foundation for every ministry we are involved in.

As it’s been said, "Prayer doesn’t prepare us for the battle; prayer is the battle."

Our ministry needs to flow from our knees.

May the coming year be a time of renewal of our vision for prayer - and victory.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The power of starting ministry today

God is leading us as to church family to refocus ourselves on ministry.

God calls us all to minister.

Salvation and service are never to be separate entities in our walk with God.

Here's what I know:  Service (ministry) always begins where we are at.

We don't have to go to the other side of the planet to minister.  Nor do we have to put it off until some future date.

I read today that one kernel of wheat in the ground produces a stalk bearing three heads of wheat.  In each head, there are fifteen to thirty-five kernels, altogether producing somewhat close to a hundred kernels form the stalk.

When planted, these kernels will produce ten thousand kernels. 

When those ten thousand are replanted, they produce a million kernels.  Incredible.

It's amazing what one person can do if they just start right where they are.

Why not begin today?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Great, great services yesterday.  I am extremely grateful for God's anointing and touch upon our church family.

Worship was powerful - especially during the altar call.

It "blessed me" (to use a religious word) to see most of our church family at the altar, seeking God.

Jeremiah 29:13 tell us, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart."

We are seekers, Lord!

We long for your presence in our lives, that we might be powerful witnesses for you!

Great visual do see our ministry booths in the foyer.

I am grateful for our many ministry leaders and volunteers.  We depend upon you.  Thank you for your faithfulness and help!

They asked Yogi Berra one time (a very successful pro baseball player and coach) - "what makes a great manager?"  He responded, "great players".

What makes a great church?  Great volunteers.

We are saved to serve, not to sit.

Ministry is simply an act of service given in the name of Jesus.

I am looking forward to ministering to someone with a "pay it forward" card.

The foundation of ministry always begins with the little things in our lives.

Two experienced, effective missionaries shared with us yesterday - Dave and Carol Ellis - missionaries to Argentina.  God is moving around the world.

We love to give to missions at Stone Church.

I performed a marriage ceremony in Michigan on Saturday. 

I also saw my two grandchildren, my daughter and son-in-law and my daughter Becky.

I love them all dearly.

My granddaughter, Georgia, is the sweetest person on the face of the earth.

I am proud of all of my children.

Life's blessings generally come to us in the small things of life.

Watching cartoons with your granddaughter on your lap.

Having a hug from her on your way out the door.

Seeing your daughter and son-in-law doing so well and loving God.

Watching as Becky and George are succeeding in what they are doing.

Being loved by my wife.

May you be "blessed" this week in the "small things of life"!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Every once in a while something happens (that you don't expect) that you look back on and say to yourself, "that was pretty cool."

Last night was pretty cool.

First of all we had a special congregational meeting - where we voted on whether or not to sell our Palos Heights property.  The vote to sell?   100%.



The sounds, sights and smells of unity.

Being of one mind.  Walking together as one. 

They did a study amongst pastors in the United States, and found out that each pastor deals with church conflict on an average of four hours per day.  Four hours a day.

It does not have to be that way!

Years ago, Leslie Flynn penned a book called, "Great Church Fights".

In it he chronicled the way people in different churches would go after each other – all in the name of Jesus Christ.

A young father heard a commotion out in his backyard, he looked outside and saw his daughter and several playmates in a heated quarrel. When he intervened, his daughter called back, “Dad, we’re just playing church!”

I'm thankful for the unity of vote and spirit last night.

We also had a wonderful time praying for the ministries of our church.  Earnestly seeking God for His strength, wisdom and direction. 

Every great move of God began in a prayer meeting.  God is calling us to pray.  And pray.  And then pray again.

I am extremely grateful for each ministry and each ministry leader.  Ministry is all about people.  Ministry by people and to people.

If you are reading this and participate in ministry (service) in our church in some way:  THANK YOU!

Thank you for your faithfulness, time and help.

May the Lord continue to provide His direction and His Spirit and His blessing on our church.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Being like Christ

More than anything else, I desire to be like Christ.

I know that in America today, we are enamored with following examples in the world of sports, the arts and even politics.

But I want to be like Christ. 

I was reading a story today about a man who was born with an awful facial deformity. He grew up alone and lonely. When reaching adulthood, he decided to move from his town to begin a new life.

On his way he discovered a beautiful mask that fit his making him look handsome. At first the mask was uncomfortable and he was afraid that people would find out who he really was, but he continued to wear the mask everyday.

In his new hometown, he made many friends and fell in love. But one day a wicked woman from his old home came to his town and discovered this man’s true identity. In front of his friends and fiance, she forced him to remove his mask. When he removed the mask, it revealed a handsome face. His face had conformed to the mask.

Becoming like Christ is analogous to this.

Go ahead and put on Christ.

At first it may feel unnatural or uncomfortable, and maybe you say to yourself, “who am I trying to fool?”

"I'm just a hypocrite - I know how I really am."

Yet I encourage you to - everyday - just keep putting on Christ and everyday you will grow to look more like him.

Just a thought for a Wednesday

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It is all about Jesus

If there is one thing I know - it is this.  I don't like religion.  But I love Jesus Christ. 

I don't serve religion.  But I do serve Jesus Christ.

I don't care for the politics of the church.  But I do care for the power of God.

I don't like relational conflict.  But I do love my relationship with Jesus.

Every day, I face, as a follower of Christ, the choice to believe the feelings and attitudes of the statements on the left of the four sentences above - or the statements on the right.

What am I going to focus on?

If I continually focus on the fact that the religion, politics and relational conflict in the church is ONLY what serving Christ is about - I would really be tempted to do something else.

But thank the Lord, our walk in faith is more than that.  We can rejoice in the relationship that we have in Christ.  We can walk with power and authority.  We do have a relationship with Christ and not an old, dusty, dead religion!

I read this today (and it is powerful):

Renowned theologian Karl Barth was lecturing to a group of students at Princeton when a student asked him, "Sir, don’t you think that God has revealed himself in other religions and not only in Christianity?" With a modest thunder he stunned the crowd, replying, "No, God has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has revealed himself in his Son."

It is all about Jesus.  "Jesus, come into my life today."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Praying for Karen Ephraim.  She is out of the hospital with a hip replacement, but faces an "uphill climb".

Busy, busy week, what with a board meeting tonight, a special business meeting this Wednesday, and a wedding on Saturday.

We really need God's wisdom this week.

Great services yesterday - many raised their hands for salvation - especially in the second service.

Worship in the first service was especially anointed!  Praise God for those who are willing to worship God with all of their hearts, mind and strength.

I really appreciate the kind notes that have been coming my way recently.  Words can't express the gratitude from all of the pastoral staff to those who take the time to show appreciation to us.  I can go three weeks on one compliment!

Several brought someone with them to one of our Sunday morning services yesterday.  Good work, my friends!  Thanks for being willing to "step out in faith" and bring someone who doesn't know Christ!

As we turn the corner from summer to fall, let's commit to ourselves that we will do everything we can to see people connect to Christ.

I am thankful for my friends at our church.

Onward and Upward!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Walking in the flesh

One of the expressions that we have in the kingdom of God is that many times we find ourselves, "walking in the flesh."

That means that we are not walking according to the spirit - but we are walking in carnality, depending solely and only on the flesh.  People who walk in the flesh can face one issue that challenges every church in America:  "Who is going to be in control?"

More harm has been done to God's kingdom by those who are walking in the flesh, seeking only to be in control and guard the control that they have.

Here are ways that I see people "walking in the flesh" in God's kingdom.

They refuse to admit guilt or wrong.  They will say something like, "I am sorry that your feelings were hurt," rather than owning up to their sin.

The use people to accomplish their own agenda.  In other words they let others do their own dirty work.  They get another person's emotions stirred up and then let that person go into a rage.  Than they sit back and look innocent, saying, "Who me?  What did I do?"

They withhold information.  They love to know that they have information that you don't have.  In their eyes, it is a powerful weapon of control - especially as they don't "name names".

They volunteer for anything.  Which is great, but these people walk in the flesh by volunteering in order to establish control.  Their inner motives are never pure and they serve with secret agendas.

They lie.

They will ignore you.  A controlling, fleshly Christian will be one who will ignore you if you disagree with them.  They will isolate you and choose not to speak with you.  Sometimes this will go on for months.

They will never show gratitude.  They will never give credit where credit is due.  They just can't bring themselves to say thank you or to acknowledge that someone else did something right.

They criticize everyone.  They want to look good so desperately that they will sharply criticize anyone who makes a suggestion or plan.  And here is the deal:  they may even like the plan, but they will only criticize it because the idea did not originate with them. 

They love to sequester information.  Again by not "naming names."  If there is ever a situation where information is important, they will push to be the "first" to know it.  They seem to know everything about everyone. 

They use information as leverage for power by sharing little tidbits here and there, often under the guise of saying something "in confidence." 

They are pushy and domineering.  They have to have their own way.

They blindside people.  They use the element of surprise to catch you off guard. 

They show seeds of discord.  If Bill has a problem with Sam and Bill has a problem with Joe and Bill has a problem with Harry, than who is the problem?  Bill. 

They are vengeful.  They can never let go of a hurt or wrong.  This kind of person is never wrong in their own eyes, and if you contradict or confront them, get ready to become their worst enemy.

As long as you are in agreement with them, all is good.  But if you confront or challenge them, look out.  You will be the target of their fiercest venom.

Do you recognize these kinds of symptoms in the lives of those around you?  Pray.  And keep on pray.  And love.  And keep on loving.

This kind of fleshly controlling spirit can only be dealt with, "in the spirit" and hardly ever with logic or common sense. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


One of the things that I practiced when my kids were growing up was giving them immediate access to me as I worked at the church.

No matter what I was doing - if my kids (or my wife) called; I dropped whatever I was doing and spoke with them.

I am thankful that God is the same way.

God doesn't have an answering machine.  God will never put you and I on hold.

He is there every day, all day, at any time, to have a conversation with us.

That's hard to wrap our minds around, I know, but it is true.  That's why he is God.

Paul writes in Romans 5:1,2, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

To put it simply (as we will hear John Bevere teach tonight), "faith is the 'pipeline' of grace.

He writes, "our faith is like a "PVC pipeline" that taps into and brings u the "water supply" of God's grace and presence.

Paul goes on to write in Ephesians 3:12, "In (Jesus), because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear)."

This free access is not just available to pastors, evangelists, and mighty men and women of the kingdom; it is available to you as a child of God.

Prayer should always be our first response, not our last resort.  You are not annoying God by your requests; he longs to be welcomed into every part of your life!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Praying through

One of the expressions that I have heard in my Christian faith is "praying through".

When you walk through a difficult time - you "pray through".

When you are sick and the medicine can't help - you "pray through"

When you are faced with a difficult decision and don't know which way to turn -  you "pray through"

When you are walking through a difficult season with someone relationally, and nothing you do or say can seemingly help - you "pray through"

"Praying through" is when I go to the Lord and begin a non-stop, off and on conversation about the challenge or difficulty I am facing - until the answer comes.

David said in Psalms 42:4, "These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.  For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God.  With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival." 

"I pour out my soul."

"Praying through" is "pouring out my soul" to God - until an answer comes.

How do you do that?

Four steps:

First of all, be honest with God.  Admit that what you are walking through is difficult and beyond your capability to either comprehend or come up with a solution.

God knows us better than we know ourselves.  Why not be honest and forthright?

Secondly, express your feelings about your hurts to God.  "God, this hurts!"  Don't deny your feelings or rationalize them or point the blame at someone else.  David, in the Psalms, did this continually.

Thirdly, mediate for a new meaning from your old hurts.  Many times, God will not immediately change our situation, but he will and can change the way we LOOK at a situation. 

Finally, Praise God for the new meaning he gives you.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."

Have a conversation with God today - and don't let up until the answer comes.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Had a great time at Hal and Mary Kaufman's 50th anniversary party.

They had pork chops from "Hog Wild".  I ate the best, tastiest, most tender pork chop I have ever eaten.

It was touching to see them renew their vows.

7 people were baptized in water yesterday!

I can't tell you how many people specifically raised their hands for salvation yesterday (to connect with Christ).  Praise God!

More than at any other time in my lifetime - I really, really, sincerely believe that Jesus is coming soon.

Maranatha - Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Our God reigns - especially in the midst of the bad economy we find ourselves in.

Now is not the time to pull back in kingdom work.  God can ESPECIALLY do miracles during this time and we keep moving forward by faith.

Faith is not really faith until we do something that only God can help us to do.

Congratulations to Hannah Janel - going to High School!  We enjoyed your graduation party and love you and your family!

Busy week this week - a week where I will need God's wisdom.  I encourage you to pray that God will give me the wisdom and knowledge that I need.

White Sox win three straight from the Twins.  Go figure.  Just about the time I have buried them and nailed the coffin down.

I am thankful for what God is doing in our church!

Let's all continue to be faithful to our church during the summertime (or whatever church you regularly attend).

Again - I am thankful that God never takes a vacation.

Frank Wolf continues to amaze me at his stamina and energy in doing volunteer work at our church.

Am thankful for a wonderful and hard working staff.

Working in ministry is never, ever easy - but it is fulfilling.

Our church is just about ready to "explode" spiritually and numerically - I can sense it.

When it does - we will totally and completely give God glory.

On second thought, why not start today?  "God we give you glory"!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Taking control of our emotional lives

One of the things that I have always struggled with (and will continue to do so) is controlling my emotional life (although I am doing a LOT better than when I was younger).

Have you ever caught yourself saying, "You make me so mad?"

Marcus Aurelius once said, "If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment."

I can't be responsible for what happens to me - but I can be responsible for the way I react to what has happened to me.

Ownership of my emotions is a key.

One way to control our emotions is to set emotional goals.

We can't afford to wing it when it comes to our emotional well-being (as Tommy Newberry writes).

We need to give our brain specific intention and it will serve us well.  If we feed our brains mixed messages, it will hold us back.

Choose which emotions you want to experience in any given day.

Which ones to you want to experience less frequently or with less intensity?

Fear?  Resentment?  Boredom?  Loneliness?  Guilt?  Rage?  Confusion?  exhaustion?

Or do you choose to experience Joy?  Confidence?  Peace?  Passion?  Satisfaction?  Enthusiasm?  Energy?  Gratitude?

Choose the top three emotions that you would like to experience more often over the next 30 days (I am quoting Tommy Newberry).

Then transfer your answers to the front of a three-by-five card under the heading "increase!"

Next choose three emotions that you would like to experience less often, and transfer them to the back of the same card under the heading "Decrease!"

The point is this:  With the help of the ministry of the Holy Spirit we can get control over our emotional lives.

We can choose joy.  We can choose gratitude.  We can choose satisfaction.  It all comes back to what we let our minds dwell on. 

Philippians 4:8 shares with us that whatever we dwell upon becomes increasingly prominent in our minds.  You always feel what you dwell on.

Newberry goes on to write that we can do away with a negative thought when we replace with with a positive one.  It's called the law of exchange.

We can't replace our negative thoughts by fighting them or trying to block them out but by replacing them with something else.

"Father, help us to gain control over our emotions!"

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The kingdom within us

Romans 14:17 tells us, "Once the Holy Spirit came to dwell within mankind, the Kingdom and all its power would be within us!  We now possess the power to advance the kingdom in the hearts and lives of others."

When I connect with Christ, the Kingdom and all of its power dwells within me.  Wow!

God's kingdom is a spiritual kingdom.  His divine nature that lives in me as a follower of Christ.

The same power that Jesus walked in (and operated in) is mine as His disciple.

John Bevere writes, (as will heart tonight - DVD series) "No matter if we are a businessman or woman, stay-at-home mom, doctor, school teacher, mechanic, student, politician, investor, realtor - our occupation doesn't matter.  He commissions all of us to advance the Kingdom."

The question is not, "do I have enough power to be effective in the world today," but, "am I going to make use of God's power that is already in me"?

I encourage you today to take advantage of and use God's incredible spiritual power that lies within you.  Don't let it lie dormant.  Pray.  Ask God to release His spirit within you - to do great and mighty things.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Turning 55

I read of a bumper sticker today that said, "I'm speeding because I have to get there before I forget where I'm going."

And then another one:  ""Growing old is mandatory.  Growing up is optional."  As I said in a previous blog, I have thought about the whole "maturity thing," but, "nah, it's overrated".

Today, I am 55 years old.

Wow.  55. 

I'm having a difficult time wrapping my mind around it.

I don't feel 55 (most days).  I feel 25 with 30 years experience.

Other days I feel 85 with no experience at all.

I guess I can get discounted coffee at McDonalds now.

More and more people are calling me "sir" when I am out and about.

I used to say that I just wanted to get old enough to where people would listen to me.  I am now older, and still people don't listen to me.

Listen to these comments about growing older:

What kind of underpants does a 55 year old wear.  "Well, Depends, I guess."

(Now that's bad, very bad).

What is the most common remark made by 55 year olds when they enter an antique store?  "I remember these."

You know you are over the hill when you and your teeth don't sleep together (fortunately mine do).

55 isn't old if you are a tree.  Unfortunately though, I am not a tree.

There are a lot of advantages in being 55 - just ask any 80 year old!

55 is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.

Here is what I am learning:  to enjoy each season of life. 

Each season of life has its ups and downs, its pluses and minuses.

So why not rejoice!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Busy summer - weddings, wedding anniversary celebrations - and the "beat goes on".

Beautiful wedding for Scott Jones and Keren Fleishhauer last Saturday.  May God bless their marriage.

Great food at the wedding reception dinner.

Wonderful company as we sat by Frank and Sandy, Bob and Bea, Dan and Julie, Annie Arthur.

It's great to have fun with the family of God.

As long as we put Christ at the center of our marriage, any marriage can make it.

People need the Lord.

Thankful for the many who accepted Christ in our two services yesterday.  May they continue to connect with God and our church - and grow in the Lord.

God is good - all the time.

God is sovereign and in control.

The whole "debt thing" has reached a compromise in Washington.  Talk about "drama".

Can't we all just get along?

Let's all keep pray for the youth Honduras trip.

It was fun to "skype" the team yesterday and hear how they are doing.

It will be good to have them home.

My birthday is tomorrow - going to a White Sox/Yankees game.

Thanks to my wife for going with me.

Amanda did a great job in worship yesterday - we are grateful to have her here.

We are living in the end times.

The rapture is going to take place soon.

General Council is this week - to be candid - I am glad I am not there.

Hot, hot, hot, but I don't mind the heat.

This summer is going by fast, fast, fast.

Looking forward to Hal and Mary Kaufman's 50th anniversary party this Saturday.  Congratulations Hal and Mary!

I am turning 55 tomorrow and have two grandchildren.  Never thought I would reach this stage.

Thought about the whole "maturity" thing today.  I guess I should now be mature being that I am middle-aged.  On second thought, I think it is overrated.

Anyway, blessings, my friends, and stay cool!