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Thursday, June 21, 2012

People like that wherever you go

You've done it and so have I.

You've had the thought, "If I could just get rid of this one person in my life, my life would be so much easier and I could be happy, if not successful."

Oh really?

Being that you and I want to love as Christ loves, God will put us around some very, very unlovable people - continually.

I can't learn to love unless that ability to love is hammered on the anvil of "difficult to love people."

Have you every thought that "one person" is there for a reason?

One of my coaches, Dr. Richard Dobbins shares this story:

In the early days of our history frontier, travelers were dependent upon ferry boats to get them across our nation's rivers.

The story is told of a wise old ferry boat captain who made it a practice to talk to his passengers as he ferried them back and forth across the river.

On one side he struck up a conversation with a woman who seemed to be upset.

She said, "You know I've never been so glad to get away from a place in all my life as I am to leave her.

People here are downright mean.  I"m leaving some of the most hateful people I've ever known."

"Yes ma'am," agreed the old ferry boat captain.  "You'll find people like that wherever you go."

When he picked up his load of passengers from the other side of the river, he began to talk to another lady.  She was weeping.

"You know sir, it breaks my heart to leave this place.  "I've never been around more loving people.  I made so many wonderful friends.  I feel like I'm leaving a piece of my heart in this place."

"Yes ma'am," the wise old ferry b oat captain responded.  You'll find people like that wherever you go."

Each woman looked at life through her own unique lens.  Each made a very different impression on the ferry boat captain.

However, the old captain knew that each woman would continue to see people - wherever she went - the way she has seen them in the place where she had come from.

So - how is your perspective, today?  Maybe it is not the other person that needs changing - maybe, must maybe it is how you see that person and the "why" of why they are in your life.

Now that's challenging, convicting and helpful - all at the same time.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


When it comes to the Christian word "blessing" all kinds of definitions fly off the map.

For some it means something material.  "God, you have blessed us with a brand new ________ (and  you fill in the blank).

For others, it means the solution to a problem.  "Lord, we didn't know what to do, but in looking back, we see that you have blessed us with your guidance."

For others still, it means health in the place of a sickness.  "I am blessed that God has healed me."

All of these are wonderful - but temporary.

I would suggest that there is a deeper meaning to the word "blessing".

Sometimes we equate the word blessing with "happiness".

Happiness comes from the root word "happenings" - or an emotion of joy based upon the happenings in my life.

If life is good - I am blessed.

If life is difficult - I am not blessed.

Let me tell you what biblical blessing is not:

A true biblical blessing is not an offer of cotton candy happiness.

Cotton candy is really, really sweet - but doesn't last.

When you put it in your mouth, it melts soon after.

It is a short term experience of contentment.

This life offers nothing but cotton candy blessings.  It is tremendously sweet at times, but we can never expect it to last long.

Blessing in the biblical sense has to do with the spiritual and emotional resources that are deposited (by the Holy Spirit, a reading of God's Word, and spending time in conversation with God) on the inside that can override circumstances on the outside.

What happens if I don't get that material thing?

What happens if I am floundering in trying to find God's direction for my life?

What happens if I remain sick?

No matter what happens to me it is what happens in me that counts.

And when I grow, when I draw closer to God, when my faith increases (no matter what the situation is) - now that is a blessing.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Expecting the best

One of the results of our fallen nature is that we constantly expect the worst out of people instead of the best.

Yet Christian love says that I will always think the best of you and not the worst.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:7, "If you love someone you will always believe in him (her), and always expect the best of him (her)."

Here's what I want to share with you today:  We tend to live up to what other people expect of us.

For example, dad, if you say to your kids, "you are dumb; you're stupid," the will almost always live up to your expectations of them.

Or ladies, if you say to your husband, "you are lazy, no-good," do you really think that is going to give them the motivation to get off of the couch?

Here's what I know:  Labeling only reinforces the negative.

Labeling never changes anybody.  Nagging doesn't work.

We are to speak positively to people.

If you want to change yourself, your family, your spouse, treat them the way you want them to become.

Expect the best of them.

Raise the level of expectation watch the people around you reach their potential under your affirmations and encouragements.

Treat them the way you want them to become.

I have a husband or wife share with me, "I'd like to rebuild my relationship with my spouse, but my marriage is dead.  We are in the same house, but there's no feeling there.  We haven't had romance in years.  It is dead.  There are no feelings left.  No love.  I just don't love my spouse anymore."

What do you do?  End your marriage?  No.

You pray for a resurrection. 

You treat them as you would like them to become.

And you love them now.  Don't wait.  Love them today.

Just some thoughts for a Tuesday.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Watching the acceptance speech by Webb Simpson (who is a Christian) at the end of the U.S. Open, and a man in a Union Jack hat jumped in front of the camera and started squawking like a bird.

I turned to Debbie and said, "You got to see that live".

Wild stuff.

We dedicated our new mini-bus to the Lord yesterday.

A wonderful occasion and symbolic to me of what God is doing in our midst.

He is faithful.

Again, I am very grateful for the faithfulness of God's people in giving of their treasure in order for us to have a new, safe vehicle for our church family.

Had a wonderful time with the Zalameda family in celebration of Zanette's 18th birthday.

In the Filipino culture, the 18th birthday is huge.  There was great food, several celebration dances and of course a wonderful time of fellowship.

We had a blast!

It is hot.  I like the heat - don't care for the humidity.

Great to see all of our men at the altar yesterday.  Times of public commitment are important - and needed. 

We all need to publicly declare our faith in Christ from time to time - it is not only a great testimony to others, but helps to keep us accountable to those whom we live with and worship with.

Here's a thought:  We live holy lives by simply keeping God's commandments (in His Word) and not by trying to "be good" on our own.

God's commandments are there to help us, not to hurt us.  God's "rules" are there not to take away our happiness but to help us to experience a godly joy.

God created everything with boundaries.

We are to recognize and live by those boundaries for our own good.

Thanks to Christie, Becky and George for calling me for Father's Day.  I love you all!

You are "the best"!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Loving the one

Charlie Brown once said, "I love mankind, it is people I can't stand."

At our church, we talk quite a it about loving God and loving people.

But here's what I know:  Loving people involves loving people individually.

It's easy to speak of winning the "lost" for Jesus, it is harder to share our faith with "that one" or our next door neighborhood.

It's easy to speak of reaching out to the "world", it is harder to reach out and minister to the guy in the next cubicle.

So, let me challenge you with this:  Love that behaves like Jesus means that we look at and care for people as individuals.  As persons.

We are to see persons in a personal way, not in a "thingy" way.

We have a tendency to put people into categories - "that's "thingy", that "thingizes" them - it urns them into "its" instead of "yours".

People says, "Well, you know how southerners are."  "I do because I am not one."

"You know how Americans are or how the Mexicans, the Blacks, the orientals are."

But that's not love - putting people into categories, slipping them into little slots, generalizing them into people groups all massed-up together.

That's not love.

Love sees the person.

There isn't anybody who is a nobody.  Everybody is a somebody and everybody is a "real live people" with real hopes and real dreams and real fears and longing and desires - who is doing the best they can.

Love says, "I see you, I hear you, I know you are there.  I am aware of you. 

Yesterday, I went to a conference and after the speaker spoke, I went up to talk with him.  Toward the end of the conversation he turned to the "next in line" and beginning speaking with them, almost in mid-sentence with me.

It made me feel like he didn't care about me as a person.

It made me feel like whoever he was looking for - it wasn't me.  It made me feel like everyone else was more important than I was.

Love says, I see you as you.  I look at you when I talk to you.  I pay attention to you.  I care about you

I know you are there. 

So, listen to your wife and look at her when she speaks.

Listen to your husband and look at them when they speak.

Listen to your children and look at them when they speak.

Otherwise, all this "love talk" is worthless.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What does Jesus look like to you?

What does Jesus look like to you?

If you could describe Jesus (without using a lot of "God talk") how would you describe Him?

Here's what I know:  God is not like you.  And God is not like me.

There is no dark side to God (and everybody has a dark side that we try to not let others see).  God is completely holy and perfectly perfect.

Timothy writes in 1 Timothy 6:15,16, "God, the blessed and only Ruler, the king of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who live sin unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever.  Amen."

I read a story today about a test that a teacher gives every year to his incoming group of college students.

The test beings with a series of questions about what the students think Jesus is like.  The 24 questions are then followed by a second set - with slightly altered language - in which the students answer questions about their own personalities.

Do you know what he found out?  Everyone thinks Jesus is just like them!

This teacher stated, "The test results also suggest that, even though we like to think we are becoming more like Jesus, the reverse is probably more the case:  we try to make Jesus like ourselves."

A.W. Tozer once wrote, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

I challenge you today to pause, and think about what or whom Jesus is like right now. 

As thoughts come into your mind - are those thoughts based around what the Word teaches us about Jesus or are your thoughts based around what you think Jesus is like - based on whom you would like Him to be - and who you are?

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bitter Roots

I would like to go back to the book that I mentioned last week entitled, "Soul Detox" by Craig Groeshel.

He has a chapter in his book (chapter 5) that deals with the subject of bitterness.

Let me summarize with my own comments.

The number one temptation/sin that Christians deal with is bitterness.

Bar none.

Here's what I know:  Bitterness never draws us closer to God.

It is a "nonproductive, toxic emotion, usually resulting from resentment over unmet needs," as Craig writes.

The writer to the Hebrews states, "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."  (Hebrews 12:12-14).

We can't control other people, but we can do everything we can to live at peace with everyone around us - and here's the difficult part - especially with those who have hurt us.

It is a fight.  It is a struggle to live in peace and harmony with everyone, especially with people who don't like you.  Or me.

Hebrews describes it as a root.  A deep root.

On the outside you look normal.  You fool others for a while.

Craig writes, "but on the inside your bitterness starts to boil."

We say things like, "I can't believe they did that to me.  I wouldn't treat my own worst enemy that way."  "They call themselves a Christian and act like that."  "I am going to hurt them as much as they have hurt me."

It's a poison, a cancer that can, in some cases, literally kill us.

I've heard people say something like this (after they have been hurt by someone):  "I wouldn't be surprised if something really bad happens to them.  They deserve it, you know."

"If I ever see them, there is no telling what I might do."

Or here's the big one, "I pray that God gives them what they really deserve."

Listen to me, bitterness destroys you more than it does the other person. 

The challenge is that bitter people usually don't know that they are bitter.

I quote from the book, "since they are so convinced that they are right, they can't see their own wrong in the mirror.  And the longer the root of bitterness grows, the more difficult it is to remove."

When I used to have a garden, I learned very quickly that if I didn't get a weed out by its root, the weed would grow back quickly.

Paul writes to, "get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  (Ephesians 4:31-32).

In other words, we are to treat others as Jesus treats us.  We forgive as we have been forgiven.

Healing can take place as you forgive.  But that takes courage.

The courage to let go.  The courage to know that God says, "vengeance is mine."  That God will take care of that person and that situation. 

That it is not my job to "make everything right," or "everyone to get along."

Here is the word of the Lord today:  Take your hands off!

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Two of the robin "chicks" in the nest outside my office have "flown the coop".  They are no longer there. 

Gone out into "the world" have they.  Without asking my permission.

And then, as I am writing this, the third one (and last chick) was waiting on mom to bring it food.  Mom didn't have anything.  So I actually got to watch the third one "fly the coop" - live.

Incredible.  Like watching a show on the discovery channel.

The only thing is - that now I am suffering from the "empty nest" syndrome.  :)

Really, really enjoyed worship yesterday.  As a church leader, it "makes my day" to see our church family with hands lifted, singing praises to God.

We continue to see new people come and visit.  My prayer is that they will walk in God's will and choose whether or not to come, accordingly.

May God continue to send us workers and leaders for His kingdom work!

Congratulations to our Mpact ministries honor stars!  Udo Anidobu.  Hannah Berens.  Tayo Omoniyi.

We are proud of you girls!

Many congratulations to Kaitlyn Hong!  Our first Stone Church "Girls Only" Graduate and Gold Medalist with the Mpact program!  We are proud of you as well!

I want to take a moment here to thank all of our Mpact adult leaders.  Their leadership for the girls of our church is invaluable.  Girls are growing in God through their efforts.

Many thanks to Leisa McNamara (our leader), Lisa Berens, Lynda Jamrosz, Angie Kirsch, Jessie Insalaco, Sharon Mercado, Judy Schnitz, Peggy Wyness, Kara McFarlin and Nancye Healy!

Our Mpact girls are receiving a foundation that will last them a lifetime.

Things I didn't get to say yesterday (from my teaching):

We are to seek after Jesus - and not manifestations.

As human beings, we thrive on and crave experiences.  Experiences are great, but not at the detriment of a loss of relationship with God.

In fact, let me make a strong, but true statement:  Any spiritual experience that does not in some way draw us closer to God has either been wasted or wasn't from God at all.

The Holy Spirit is not some kind of spiritual narcotic that we interject into the veins of our Christians experience.  God wants us to seek after Him, not for the thrills or chills - but for the real deal - a relationship with Him.

Are we more concerned about the PRESENCE of God or the PRESENTS from God that he gives to us?

Are we more concerned about the "pennies in the hand of God," or God's Hand itself?

May we all seek God's presence this week.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Radioactive relationships 2.0

Picking up on where we left off yesterday, what do you do when you have are involved in a toxic, radioactive relationship with someone?

Don't panic - there are some steps to take - and the steps come from God's Word.

Set healthy boundaries.

Having been a church leader in New Mexico, and ministering to ranchers, I learned quickly that fences are necessary as boundaries to - and here is the deal - to keep the bad out and the good in. 

Craig writes, "our boundaries will help us to enjoy the good people without inhaling the bad."

Even Jesus set boundaries.  He loved everyone the same, but he didn't treat everyone equally.

That is huge.

We love people the same but we don't treat everyone equally.

Big difference.

Jesus didn't meet every person's needs.  Not everyone was in his inner circles.  The harder the Pharisees pushed Jesus with negativism and criticism - the harder he pushed back with the truth.

Jesus even had boundaries with those closest to Him.  Peter tried to persuade him to not give His life, and Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me."

No one could or would distract Jesus from his calling.

Before I go on, I love what Craig writes as a "disclaimer" about this:  "For the record, I don't recommend that you say to your grandma, "you're gangrene to me.  Get behind me, Satan."  But you have to be willing to set up boundaries so you can be stronger and better in ministry to people."

How do you do that?

Craig suggests:

"First,  you can tell people, "I won't let you talk to me or treat me that way."  Talk to people plainly.

Or if you are hearing gossip around you, you simply explain, "I am not participating."

Then stand strong.

He then goes on to say, "Secondly, you can explain to people, "I am not going there with you."  In other words, I am not going to let you lead me down the path of participating in the kind of behavior.

Finally, chapter 11 goes on to talk about an exit strategy from those who continue to bring harm to you and I as a result of their toxic behavior.

But then, that is for another day.

Just some thoughts for a Thursday.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Radioactive relationships

I picked up a book by Craig Croeschel this week entitled, "Soul Detox".  The basic theme is "living clean in a contaminated world."

Great stuff.

I thought that as I read chapter 11 this week, I might blog about what he writes. (in a summary kind of way using my own words).

Everyone has a toxic relationship in their lives.

It might be an in-law.  A cousin.  A boss.  A co-worker.  Someone in the church.  A neighbor.

You can't get away from them in the sense that you are continually positioned with special events, day to day activities or the very nature of going to the same church, or having your child on the same sports team, etc.

Every family possesses at least one off-the-charts challenging person.  Craig writes, "If you're tempted to tell me that yours doesn't then I hate to be the one to break it to you, but maybe YOU are the one!"

We all have people around us who add life to our day or they take away life.  They can be loving and inspiring or they can be life-draining, hateful and depressing.

Who is that for you?

Instead of making your feel better, this person always picks you apart, finds fault in almost everything you do and generally is a drag on  your life in that they make you feel really crummy about yourself and life in general.

They are negative, critical and belittling.

In short, they are toxic.  Every time you see them, your inner spirit groans.

Craig writes that there are three common types of toxic people. 

- Chronic critics.  These are the people who can find fault in everything.  Everything.

It's too hot or too cold, too rainy or too dry; the weather's always bad.  Craig writes, "they pick at you like a scab, and nothing you do is right."

- Controllers.

"Controllers are overbearing, forcing their way and opinions upon you regardless of your will.

Controllers may have good intentions, but their darts are poisonous.

- Tempters.

"This type encourages you to do things that you know you shouldn't and may not normally even want to."

The "friend" who tempts and even pushes you to do something that you know will be destructive to you Christian walk.

Tomorrow we will look at some solutions on how to deal with these types of folks.

Talk to you tomorrow.......

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

seeking God personally

One of the benefits of attending a Pentecostal church is that we encourage people to seek God personally.

There is a place for corporate worship.

There is most certainly a place for coming and listening to the word of God brought forth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

There is a place for bible studies.

There is a place for reading Christian books.

There is a place for listening to pod casts of sermons.

However, at its core, the foundation of all of this is time spent personally, alone with God.  Seeking his face.  Asking God to each us.

There is a story that we will look at this coming Sunday in John 7.  The context is that that Jesus is teaching during the feast of the tabernacles.

John writes (in John 7:15), "The Jews (the Pharisees and teachers of the law), were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"

In other words, "how can you speak like that?"  "You didn't even go to the University of Jerusalem."  "You haven't been taught by one of us."

Jesus answered (in verse 16), "My teaching is not my own.  It comes from him who sent me."

While we all need to be accountable to spiritual leaders in authority over us when it comes to the Scriptures, we all must seek to study God's word for ourselves - and listen to His will for our lives.

Part of the solution is a hunger and thirsting for God Himself without intermediaries.  We need to pray, "God, I'm tired of everybody else hearing from You!  Where is the lock on my prayer closet?  I'm going to lock myself away until I hear from you, Lord, for myself!"

God desires that kind of closeness with you.  That kind of spiritual intimacy. 

Here is what I know:  God is tired of having long distance relationships with you and me.

He wants to invade our homes and our churches and our neighborhoods with His Holy Spirit.

Are you thirsty for God?

Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

I really enjoyed Cornell Jordan's presentation yesterday.  He is so full of energy, life and the joy of the Lord!

Loved worshipping with Cornell and the praise and worship songs that he brought to us.

He is so right - music is a powerful tool to help us in our daily walk with Christ.

As David played the harp for Saul (to soothe his soul) so godly music not only can bring us a sense of peace and contentment in difficult situations, but also can be a powerful tool in our spiritual warfare against the enemy.

It's always good to be "stretched" and "go outside our boundaries" when it comes to our expressions to God.

God cannot be put into a box as to how he will be worshipped.

What is more important than "what did I get out" of a worship experience is "what did I put in" to my worship experience.

Bringing in 12 new members - priceless.

12 new members, all of the wonderful people who desire to serve God and our church.

God is up to something good in our church!

We encourage you to include God in all of your summer activities.

Most people don't hate God - they just forget about God.

Look for a life group special summer event to participate in!  If you need more information, please call the church office at (708) 3852770.

Robin's nest update:  The baby chicks are getting older - and momma is faithful to giving them food.

The spiritual application there is obvious.

God is faithful.

I am really looking forward to this coming Sunday's service:  a special emphasis on the Holy Spirit and how we can draw closer to God.

Love you all!