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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.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Grandchildren are very, very special "little people". 

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

Andrew is a wonderful son-in-law.  We are thankful to have him in our family.

Lots of visitors yesterday in our church services.  Praise God!

I enjoyed meeting new people yesterday.

Peter and Ann Marie Morgan are some of our favorite people - great people who love God!

The people of God worshipping together and spending time in God's presence - priceless.

What can I say about my Dallas Cowboys - losing a huge lead - and the Detroit Lions.  It looks like it is going to be a long year.

We continue to unleash "heaven" in our community.

I am really, really excited about the Upward Basketball Ministry.  It is a great "tool" to connect children and their parents to Christ.

Would encourage all of us to sign up and pray 5 minutes a day for the Upward Ministry.

God is moving!