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Monday, September 30, 2013

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and God asks, "Won't you be mine."  :)

I really enjoyed attending the Chicago Christian Homecoming football game last Friday evening.  Great to see some of our Stone Church students who go there.

A great reminder of how much fun high school football is to watch.

Many, many thanks to Rick Heise, Don Janis, Vic Nutter, John Goddard and Frank Wolf who came out to help us with our Stone Church work day!  Thank you men for giving of your time!

The outside windows look great!

To all of my Chicago Bears friends (fans).  The grieving process is:  Denial, anger, depression, bargaining and then acceptance.  My condolences on their loss (of course the Dallas Cowboys also lost).

It was fun to watch all of the married couples who renewed their vows yesterday at the end of the teaching in both services.

You can have a marriage that last over the long haul!

Here's what I know:  Every marriage can be better.

Every marriage.

No marriage is perfect.

How can a marriage be perfect when it has two imperfect people in relationship?

With these beautiful fall days, I encourage you to take a walk this evening(if possible) and spend some time with God.

Principle:  When I try to control everything in my life - it will lead to a life of frustration and fear.

You and I can't control most of life - only God can.

Don't be caught up in trying to control your spouse, your children, your parents, your co-workers, or someone here at the church.

If you do - it will drive you batty.

We are responsible to people not for them.

October is going to be a great month at Stone Church!

Love you all....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tolerance and truth

Let me state the obvious:  We live in a society of tolerance. 

It has now become the centerpiece of our culture.

When it comes to religion, tolerance means accepting that all religions are equally true or untrue.

There can be no distinction.

One definition of tolerance is "to allow (something one dislikes ore disagrees with) to exist without interference - (or to) patiently endure (something unpleasant)."

As Christians, we can be considered intolerant because we dare take the stance that there are some things in this world that are wrong and we are right.

It has become wrong to tell others that they are wrong.

Of course the ironic thing is that the person saying that it is wrong to say that someone else is wrong is also saying that Christians are wrong for saying what they believe!

Just a thought then - the ultimate question at stake is not whether Christian belief is tolerant (or intolerant) but where it is true and real or not.

I believe it is.  In fact, I know it is.  So am I being intolerant of other religions and beliefs?

Am I being intolerant in stating that Jesus is the only way to God?

There is a (now famous) story of an elephant in the jungle.  Different blind scribes come up to the elephant and take hold of the different body parts.

One holds the trunk and declares, "This is a snake."

Another holds the leg and says, "You are wrong.  It is not a snake, it is a tree trunk!"

Still another holds the tail and says, "You are both wrong.  It is a rope."

The different individuals are said to represent the different religions of the world, and the moral of the story is that no one faith has the whole truth; it would be the height of intolerance and arrogant to state so.

In other words, everyone has a little piece of the truth.

But who is being intolerant and arrogant?

The people inside the story who are up close to the elephant or the storyteller who is standing back and thinks he has the whole picture?

The people inside the story who are blind or the person telling the story who thinks that he can see?

The implication of the story is that Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad and Moses were blind - but only the storyteller can see.

So who sounds intolerant now?  Who sounds arrogant now?

Is it not just as arrogant and intolerant to claim that YOU know that all paths lead to God as it is to claim that you agree with Jesus that he is the only way to God?

That in and of itself is intolerance.

Perhaps a more practical and pragmatic approach is needed here.

At the end of the day, anyone who claims the truth can go back to the first hand experience that they have of that truth.  The Bible promises that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us.

That is a perfect and direct invitation to encounter God.

Why not pray this prayer today:  "God, if you are there, please reveal yourself to me."

And I believe that He will.

Why?  Because the Bible says so. 

How intolerant of me to say that......:) :)

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Perfectionism

Before I share about what I am going to teach on this evening (Romans 7:1-6), let me answer the question that was posed concerning my blog yesterday.

Here's the question:  "How do you comfort someone who has been hurt or grieving?"

Great question.

Just off the top of my head (and I will eventually devote an entire blog to this) here are some suggestions.

Don't belittle or put down someone's emotions that they are expressing.  "You shouldn't feel that way."  "If you were a Christian, you wouldn't say that."  Those kinds of words are mean.  Allow the person to vent without being judgmental.

Don't give Christian clich├ęs.  "Everything will work out in the end."  "All things work together for good" (which is true, but there is a time and place to say that).

Don't talk to much.  Sometimes when we don't know what to say, we talk too much.

Don't try to figure out the "why" for them.  You don't know why.  They don't know why.  Many times we won't ultimately know "why" until we are with Jesus.

Do "be there".  More than anything else your presence is needed and speaks volumes.

Do use physical touch.  A hug.  An arm around someone is so needed during this time.

Do pray with them.  A short prayer.

Do more than say, "If you need anything I am here for you," but do actually bring them that meal.  Do actually come over and see how they are doing. 

There is more I can say, but let's return to this at a later time.

Now then, for this evening, Romans 7:1-6. 

Two great chapters, Romans 7 and 8.  In chapter 7, Paul describes the struggling Christian.  The Christian who wrestles with the flesh, the carnal nature and the law. 

Our theme of the evening?  The law defines sin - and our Christian life is not based on rules, but a loving relationship with God.

God's will for your life is not be live a performance based walk with Him!

That is legalism.

A legalist is a person who insists on letting their conscious be your guide.

Do you know that I found out about legalistic people?

They are intolerant of the failures of others.  The put a high level of expectation on other people that other people cannot live up to.  They put a high level of expectation on themselves that they cannot live up to.

What are the results?  Pride.  A critical spirit.  Hypocrisy.  They begin to put on a face, a facade and begin to cover up their own sins and failures.  They being to act like something they are not and do thing that they are no.

It's what I call the "plastic Christian" game - as if everything is fine and I have no problems and life is a fluff ball.  When we do that - we case to be real, transparent and vulnerable.

Did you know that perfectionist can never establish and keep long term relationships?

Because nobody, and I mean nobody ever measures up. 

From their spouse, to their parents, to their children, to their boss, to their church, to their church leaders, nobody ever measures up to their standards. 

What are their two favorite words:  Ought and Should.  They ought to be that way.  They should to his.

I am so happy that Jesus doesn't expect me to be perfect.  Striving for holiness yes.  Striving for righteousness yes. 

Jesus said in Matthew 11;28, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

Finally, know this:  A true walk with Christ comes not from the keeping of rules but from a relationship with Jesus.

Just some thoughts for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weeping over our hurt

We Christian types are really good about hiding our grief, pain and hurt.

Some think that God wants us to walk around with a smile on our face all the time.

Some Christians have this idea that we should never be sad, we should never grieve, we should never hurt.  We should never cry.

Whether it is a parent who gets Alzheimer's or a child who gets cancer or a husband or wife who gets laid off from work or somebody stabs you in the back, that you should always walk around with a big smile, like it is no big deal and you should never grieve over these losses.

That God wants us to put on a "smiley face" and walk around saying, "Praise the Lord"!

"Nothing wrong here"!

It doesn't take a psychologist to know that is living in denial. 

And all denial does is put off the inevitable - that you and I will eventually be confronted with handling the grief that we feel.

"Don't show any negative emotion, you are not trusting in God!"  "You are showing a lack of faith!"

That is heartless and even rude.

I was hurting the other day over something someone said, and I was counseled, "that just comes with the territory of being a pastor.  You'll get over it."

I thought, "okay, thanks a lot for the comfort."

While it is true that we are not to hold on to wounds and hurts from the past, we are called upon by the Lord to have a time when we express our hurt and our pain to God.

In a real way.  In a sincere way.

In Matthew 5:4 Jesus taught, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

In other words, it is okay to grieve

It is normal, natural and biblical to release your pain through tears.

It is okay to cry.

You don't repress it - stuff it down.

You don't rehearse it and go over and over it in your mind.

You release it and give it to God.

You cry out to God, "I hurt"!

"This is a tough one to handle!"

"I am hurting God"!

David prayed in Psalms 62:8, "Pour out your heart to God, for He is our refuge."

He also said in Psalms 34:18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

I encourage you today, to "let it all out" to God and someone you trust.

In fact, I encourage you to schedule a window of time this evening where you are going to say to yourself, "I am going to grief over this situation.  I am going to give it to God.  I am going to release my feelings to the Lord."

And then move on.  And then let it go.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thoughts from the weekend - and a prayer from Ignatius Loyola

Thoughts from the weekend:

Beautiful fall days - you have to love them.

I really like taking walks with Debbie in the evening - as the sun sets.

Congratulations to all my Chicago Bears friends (fans).  You are now 3-0.  Just remember:  You started out last season 7-1.  :) :)

God is an "on time" God - as in the case (as we saw yesterday) of arriving on the scene just as Abraham was going to sacrifice his son Isaac.

I would suggest that Abraham was the happiest guy on the planet after God stopped him.

And then God provides a ram to take the place of Isaac!

Our God is truly Jehovah Jireh - The "God who provides."

Do you have a need today?  Trust God to provide.

Yesterday was such a great day of worship - next Sunday can't come soon enough!

It was wonderful to see the men and women of God on their faces or knees before Him yesterday after each service.  Truly, as we commit ourselves to Him, He will do incredible things!

Many, many thanks to all of our volunteers at Stone Church. 

Your faithfulness is a continual encouragement to all of us on the pastoral staff!

We love you and appreciate you!

So much anger in the world (Shooting at Cornell Park over the weekend).  My prayer is that we can represent God's peace to the world.

God is beginning to plant within my heart and spirit a theme for our church for 2014.  More to come.

I would ask that you consider bringing a friend this Sunday.  We encourage you to invite and bring a non-churched friend!

Our desire is to see people connect with Jesus Christ!

Going back to the thought of God being "Jehovah Jireh".

Did you know that as you pray in the name of Jesus, knowing that God is your provider, that God is capable of meeting your every need?

Ignatius Loyola was the youngest of eleven children.  He grew up in Spain centuries ago.  At 43 years of age (at that time considered to be old), Loyola took an enormous step of faith that involved the surrender of all his wealth and worldly claims.

Having moved to Paris, Ignatius gathered six disciples around him to establish a new order called "the Company of Jesus," or Jesuits.

Incredibly, just 22 years later at Loyola's death in 1556, those half-dozen disciples had grown to 1000, many of whom - like Francis Xavier who visited 52 nations in just 10 years - had gone to the ends of the earth as foreign missionaries.

But most significant is the fact that Ignatius Loyola trusted God completely.

As he neared life's end, Loyola prayed with passion:

Take, Lord, all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my whole being.

You have given me all that I have,
all that I am,
and I surrender all to Your divine will,
that You dispose of me.

Give me only Your love and Your grace,
with this I am rich enough,
and I have no more to ask."

May that be your prayer today as it is mine.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Being the church

It is now a reality of our culture:  "Church" is now just another part of our busy lives.  Sunday is now just another weekday.

Stores and restaurants are open on Sunday.

Kid's sporting events are in full swing on Sunday.

Sunday can be a work day for some.

For others, Sunday is the only day to sleep in or do chores around the house.

Church is no longer a priority in our lives.

Other people don't go to church because there are "just too many hypocrites there."  Others still don't go because all the church talks about is money.

Or, "church just makes me feel guilty," and I don't need that in my life.  Everyone seems so perfect - all those perfect people just make me feel worse about myself.

Finally, there are those who think that they know what the church should be like and their standards are so high that no church could possibly meet them.

They carry with them a detailed list of what their church is or isn't:  The worship music isn't "Spirit led" enough, or it's too loud, too soft, or too whatever. 

The sermons are too shallow or too intellectual.  The missions program isn't aggressive enough or it's all the church talks about.

They spend too much money on the building or not enough. 

When you put all of the above into the recipe and try to come out of the oven with something delicious - it can be challenging.

Let me remind us that the church is not a building - the church is people.  And "church" in its truest form is not about what "I am getting," but "What am I giving away."

We talk a lot about meeting people's needs in our church as leadership (and rightly so).  We desire to meet people's needs where they are at.

But at the same time, church will never truly be "church" for you and me if we are not reaching out to others and meeting their needs. 

We give ourselves to God by giving ourselves to others.

Erwin McManus once said, "The church does not exist for us.  We are the church, and we exist for the world." 

I guess what I am saying is this:  God is not calling us to go to church; he is calling us to be his church, which is the hope of the world.

And once we are "being the church," maybe, just maybe a lot of that stuff I mentioned above won't matter as much.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Whose slave are you?

Do you want to be as good of saint as you were a sinner?

Great question.

This evening we will look at Romans 6:15-23.  Wonderful passage of challenge.

Paul writes in Romans 6:16, "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are salves of the one you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Ray Stedman tells about visiting Los Angeles during the days of the Jesus People.  He saw a strange-looking character walking the streets wearing a sandwich board. 

On the front of it - it said, "I'm a slave for Christ."  He walked around back.  The question on the back of the sandwich board was, "whose slave are you?"  That's exactly what Paul is asking here - and the question I ask you today:

"Whose slave are you?"

To sin?  Or to the savior?

Paul's target audience was the church at Rome which would connect immediately to what Paul was talking about.

One-third of the people in Rome were slaves during the first century.  In fact, there were so many slaves that a law to make slaves wear a certain type of clothing was abandoned because it would reveal their numerical strength.

It is estimated that one-half of the church in Rome were slaves.

Now then, there were two forms of slavery in ancient Rome:

1.  Someone who was captured by the enemy would have all of their worldly possessions destroyed that would tempt them to go home and then they were transported to Rome for sale on the auction block.

2.  The older, more common type of slavery was "voluntary indenture."  Impoverished people could offer themselves as slaves to someone in order to have food to eat and a place to live.  In other words, people willingly accepted slavery in order to meet their basic needs.

Free men would become slaves out of financial need.

Perhaps Paul is referring to this second type of slavery and is asking, "Why would you choose a master whose dedicated purpose is to keep you enslaved and ultimately kill you?"

Whose slave are you? 

It is a choice for all of us.  Daily.  Moment my moment. 

Am I going to commit myself to Christ?  Or am I going to serve sin?
In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city.
Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and thronged around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln's army had set them free.
According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the throng around him:
"My poor friends, you are free—free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it …. Liberty is your birthright."
But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. "Let the world see that you merit [your freedom]," Lincoln said, "Don't let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them."
That is very much like the message Paul gives to those whom he has liberated by his death and resurrection.
Jesus gives us our true birthright—spiritual freedom. But that freedom isn't an excuse for disobedience; it forms the basis for learning and obeying God's laws.
Whose slave are you?
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Creating and knowing people would go to hell

I don't know about you - but every so often I think about questions like:  If God is so loving and relational, why did he go ahead and create people when he knew they would end up in hell?

Great question.

Perhaps one for your life group.

More and more, people are believing in hell less and less.  Even in God's kingdom.

Hell is getting a lot of "bad press."

Bumper sticker:  "You say I am going to hell?  That's where the party will be happening with all my friends.  Bring it on."

Okay.....

The French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote of hell as being "locked forever in a small room with two other people."  I guess that depends upon who those two people are.  :)

Woody Allen said that, "hell will be the place for people who have personally annoyed me."

Here's the logic:

Hell exists.

God creates people.

God knows who will connect with Him and who won't.

God is a loving God.

Then why would God create someone whom he knew would reject him?

Here's part of the solution.  Where you find love - you will find justice.

Love cannot exist without justice.  When someone injuries us, we long for justice to be done.  We desire, and rightly so, that it be made right. 

If people around us really care, those around us want justice on our behalf as well.

Love and justice go together

To be truly loving, God must also be a God of justice.

It all comes down to freedom.  If love is to exist, it must be a love that is freely given and freely received.  Love cannot be forced.

And, if freedom is possible, the withholding of love is possible.  When that happens, injustice occurs.

When injustice occurs, justice must be handed out.  Hell is the means of God's judgment, allowing God's justice to be upheld.

God created you with the capacity to choose or reject Him.  That being the case, that's where the cross comes in.  Jesus (God himself) died on the cross to remove any automatic connection to receiving the justice of God for your sins. 

While God knows who and who will not accept Him, He continues to do everything he can to connect us to him.

God creates, God gives us freedom to choose or reject Him, and based upon that choice we go to Heaven or we go to hell.

What will your choice be today?

I choose heaven - how about you?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Friday evening was wonderful.

Our life group retreat was a "success" in the sense that:

The lessons were meaningful.  Helpful.  What we can do to facilitate and grow our life groups, spiritually and relationally.

The food was excellent - thanks, everyone, for bringing food!

Many, many thanks to David Dewes, Rick Maldaner and Debbie Smith for your leadership and hard work!

I appreciated David's passion in sharing about life groups.

The theme of the evening?  If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat!

Saturday morning's teachings were very helpful as well.

Here's one of the many principles that were presented by our speaker:  Ben Deboef.

Take a piece of paper and put on one side "Fill" and on the other side "drain".

Write down what fills your tank.  Write down what drains your tank.

Make a conscious effort this week to "fill your tank" so that your tank is not so depleted you can give anything away.

To put it in my terminology:  You can't give what you don't have.

What fills your tank?

What depletes your tank?

If your tank is continually being depleted it could lead to anxiety and then to an emotional breakdown and then to a nervous breakdown and (God forbid) the possibility of suicide.

Realize that your time is limited.

Realize that every moment of your life is spend doing something.

Realize that somebody will determine how your time is spent.

Here's the key principle:  Relationship is what happens in the margin of your life.  Is there enough margin in  your life for relationship?

Thankful for Evangelist Jaroy Carpenter's presentation yesterday.  Powerful story of how his son was touched by God from birth and now is a healthy baby boy.

My favorite line from his sermon?  He was confused as a "termite on a yo-yo."

I love that. 

Describes my life most of the time.

I am excited about this fall!

Love you all!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Turning your pain into something good

Helen Keller once said that "as long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain."

Many times we find ourselves living in the "in-between time" of walking into a crisis and that crisis not being resolved.

It is a season of stress, worry, fear, depression and emotional or even physical pain.

We are waiting for God to alleviate our hurt.

It's in those "in-between" times that we suffer.  We hurt.  We go so far as to wonder if "God is there" or if "God really cares."

I get that - and have felt the same way at different times in my life.

One of the ways, I would suggest, to bring a redemptive quality to your suffering and pain is to reach out to those around you who are also hurting.

I have found that when I am walking through a difficult season (that in-between time when God has no yet relieved my suffering) it really does help to help others.

Almost always, when I hurt, God will allow me the privilege of visiting someone in the hospital, or counseling someone who is in pain.

And as I reach out, that it turn helps me deal with my own pain and suffering.

I realize that I am not the only one with a problem.

I realize that God can and does work through me to help others who hurt as well.

So, the challenge is this today.  While you are waiting for God to meet your own needs, reach out and minister and send love and help others who are hurting as well.

In that way, purpose is given to what you are going through.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What is the purpose of grace?

(Before I begin, I would encourage you to read the illustration at the end of the blog today).

This evening we have the privilege of looking at Romans 6:8-16.

Theme:  The purpose of grace.

There is one thing I know:  all theology must become biography.

We must apply theology to our lives in a practical way.

Christian living is always dependent upon Christian learning because duty follows doctrine.

We believe in faith - but we must also behave in faith.

Christ died for me - and that should effect how I live each day for Him.

Romans 6:10 tells us that Jesus "died to sin once for all."  For you and for me.

That is the "what," of grace.

Paul then goes on to give us the "how."

"In the same way," he writes in Romans 6:11.

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

That's a command (the first command given in the book of Romans).  It is a command that is to be acted out daily in our lives.

We are dead to sin.  We are alive to God. 

In other words, when you are faced with a temptation, respond to it as a dead man would.

You know as well as I do that a dead man in a casket is not tempted by a piece of hot apple pie with ice cream on it!  Why?  Because he is dead!

When you are tempted, you can pray something like this:  "I count myself crucified with Christ and therefore I am dead to this sin and alive to God.  I consult my account and know that what Jesus has accomplished has been credited (counted to me) to me.  I appropriate it and apply it to this situation."

In other words, we must talk theology to ourselves.

Paul goes on to say, "Therefore (because of your position in Christ) do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."  (verse 12)

How do we "not" let sin reign in our bodies?  By refusing sin.

Here's the principle:  don't excuse sin - refuse it.

Finally, yield your life to God.

"Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments (the word "instruments" means "weapons.") of righteousness.

So the question of the day is this:  What part of your body have you yielded to God?

Your mind?  (Colossians 3:2,3)
Your heart?  (Jeremiah 17:9)
Your eyes?  (Job 31:1)
Your ears?  (Proverbs 18:8)
Your mouth?  (Proverbs 13:3)
Your hands?  (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Your feet?  (Psalms 37:31)
Your intimate parts?  (1 Corinthians 6:12-18)

It all comes down to a choice. 

In his book Hidden in Plain Sight, author and pastor Mark Buchanan writes about a woman named Regine.

Originally from Rwanda, Regine came to Christ while reading her sister's Bible during the genocide that ravaged her country. When she fled to Canada for refuge, she met her husband, Gordon.

They decided to return to Rwanda to show the love of Christ to the people who had once been her enemies.

Regine told Mark Buchanan this story of agape love:
A woman's only son was killed. She was consumed with grief and hate and bitterness. "God," she prayed, "reveal my son's killer."
One night she dreamed she was going to heaven. But there was a complication: in order to get to heaven she had to pass through a certain house. She had to walk down the street, enter the house through the front door, go through its rooms, up the stairs, and exit through the back door.
She asked God whose house this was.
"It's the house," he told her, "of your son's killer."
The road to heaven passed through the house of her enemy.
Two nights later, there was a knock at her door. She opened it, and there stood a young man. He was about her son's age.
"Yes?"
He hesitated. Then he said, "I am the one who killed your son. Since that day, I have had no life. No peace. So here I am. I am placing my life in your hands. Kill me. I am dead already. Throw me in jail. I am in prison already. Torture me. I am in torment already. Do with me as you wish."
The woman had prayed for this day. Now it had arrived, and she didn't know what to do. She found, to her own surprise, that she did not want to kill him. Or throw him in jail. Or torture him. In that moment of reckoning, she found she only wanted one thing: a son.
"I ask this of you. Come into my home and live with me. Eat the food I would have prepared for my son. Wear the clothes I would have made for my son. Become the son I lost."
And so he did.
Agape lovers do what God himself has done, making sons and daughters out of bitter enemies, feeding and clothing them, blazing a trail to heaven straight through their houses.
The only way she was able to do this was by giving her grudge to God.  She yielded the memories in her mind, and offered up her rights for revenge that were hidden in her heart. 

What do you need to surrender to God today?

So - what is the purpose of grace?  To propel us, prompt us to live a holy, righteous life.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Crying out to God

I was asked yesterday to blog today about part of my message last Sunday on "crying out to God."

Many times we find ourselves in a position or place where things are snowballing in a downward manner.  Everything is going wrong.  As Captain Ed Murphy said (Murphy's law), "If it can go wrong, it will."

When those times come - it seems like all we can do is to cry out to God.

David says in Psalms 142:2,3, "I bring God all my complaints, I tell Him all my troubles.  When I'm ready to give up, He knows what I should do."

The thing I like about God is that he lets us complain until we are out of words.

God does not interrupt us as we pour our hearts out to God.

God is not shocked when you complain, when you say, "God I think my job stinks!"

"My marriage is horrible."  "I can't take all this stress"!

God is listening. 

"God, I don't like the fact that I am sick all the time!"

The Psalms are full of David's complaints.

David gets mad at his enemies in the Bible and would say things to God like, "Knocked their teeth out, God!  Bash their babies against he wall."  (Doesn't sound too spiritual to me).

God was letting David get it off of his chest.

There's a spiritual catharsis in that, a spiritual cleansing.

I would suggest to you today that in the midst of that difficult time, you cry out to God.

Peter writes, "Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you."  (1 Peter 5:7).

Peter says to take all of those cares and those burdens and dump them on the Lord.

Cast all your cares on God.  "Here, God, I can't handle it."

God says, "I already knew that!"

There is power in crying out to God.

Psalms 116:1 tells us, "I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy."

David found out time and time again in his life that when he cried out to God with deep and sincere emotion - God heard him. 

One more verse today from Psalms 30:2, "O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me."

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend

Summer seems to be hanging on for a few more days.

I like that.

Fall is coming.  I like that.

The leaves turning.  Sweater weather.  Football. 

I really enjoy the different seasons.  Each season has something great to offer.

The Dallas Cowboys looked good at times last evening.  At other times they looked very sloppy.

If it weren't for the 6 New York Giant turnovers, I don't know who would have won.

It was nice to have our coffee connection time back yesterday.  There is just something about having a donut and a coffee (to stay awake during the sermon) :) :)

We continue to pray for a moving of God's Spirit. 

We cry out to God!  Move Holy Spirit!

There is power in crying out to God.

God is not deaf.  He doesn't need us to cry out to Him because He is hard of hearing.

We are to cry out to God for our benefit.  It shows what we really care about.  It shows that we are passionate in praying for that which is on our heart.

We are grateful for all of those who serve in ministry at our church!

You are needed! 

Challenging questions:  Are we making our children "idols" in our lives?  Is putting our children before ourselves (and our relationship with Christ) and our church the biblical pattern?

Just some questions.   Great discussion questions for a life group.

We would ask that you pray for the coming weekend.  Life group retreat with Pastor Ben DeBoef.  Special speaker, Jaroy Carpenter.

You will be ministered to!

Praying with you for a good week in your own personal life.

Love you all......

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Turning your mess into your message

If there is one thing I know - it is that we all live messy lives.

I would suggest that there is not one person who is completely whole.

We are all messy.

We all need something that corrects the negative and many times harmful decisions that we have made in the past.

No one is exempt.

This morning, I am sitting in a missions board meeting for Network211 (you can click on network211.com to read more).

In listening to a video testimony from a woman who came to Christ through this ministry, she commented, "he took my mess and turned it into my message."

I love that.

That's what Jesus does.

He takes my mess (let me personalize it), and turns it into His message.

It is a message of love.

It is a message of hope.

It is a message of forgiveness.

It is a message of second chances.

It is a message that no matter what you have done in the past, Jesus can take your mess - and turn it into your message - a message of a changed life.

Why not let Jesus give you His message today?

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

He must increase, I must decrease

David Brainerd was a missionary to the American Indians from 1743-1747. 

He is also remembered for his daily practice of fervent prayer and single minded yearning for holiness. 

As Andrew Murray writes, Brainerd's example "rebukes the prayerlessness and luke-warmness of most Christian lives."

In reading his published daily prayer journal, let me share with you one entry from October 14th.  He writes with just this raw honesty that I appreciate.

Here are his words:

"Lord's Day, October 14. 

Was much confused and perplexed in my thoughts; could not pray; and was almost discouraged, thinking I should never be able to preach any more.  Afterwards, God was pleased to give me some relief from these confusion; but still I was afraid, and even troubled before God.

I went to the place of public worship,. lifting up my heart to God for assistance and grace, in my great work:  and God was gracious to me, helping me to plead with Him for holiness, and to use the strongest arguments with Him, drawn from the incarnation and sufferings of Christ for this every end, that men might be made holy.

Afterwards, I was much assisted in preaching.  I know not that ever God helped me to preach in a more close and distinguishing manner for the trial of men's state.  Through the infinite goodness of God, I felt what I spoke; He enabled me to treat on divine truth with uncommon clearness; and yet I was so sensible of my defects in preaching, that I could not be proud of my performance, as at some times; and blessed be the Lord for this mercy!

In the evening I longed to be entirely alone, to bless God for help in a time of extremity; and longed for great degrees of holiness, that I might show my gratitude to God."

One of the many lessons in David Brainerd's words (and I encourage you to read the above journal entry and write down all of the lessons) is that it is at the times when we are the weakest - that is when God can use us the most. 

He must increase, I must decrease.

That is my prayer today.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Many, many thanks for all of the volunteers who came out to help make our annual church picnic such a success!  We were blessed to have great weather.

I enjoyed watching our church family play bags and volleyball.

The food was exceptionally good.

Loved the desserts! 

Congrats to all the ladies who won prizes for their pies and/cakes.

Here what I know about Pentecostal people - we do know how to eat - and eat well!

I wonder what kind of potlucks will be in heaven?  :)

Thanks to our hard working pastoral staff as well!

Wasn't it wonderful to hear the testimonies of God's grace and forgiveness Sunday morning? 

The Teen Challenge presentation was stirring.  Heartwarming.  It filled all of us with thanksgiving and praise to a powerful God.  A God who can change even or especially the most "down and outer" there is.

I loved hearing the "holy roar" of God's people in worship.

Really like the "life group video."  Life groups - it makes you want to shout!

I encourage you to sign up for a life group - and/or a "My Journey with Jesus," Bible class.

Only the Holy Spirit can truly change someone's heart.

I can't change anyone on my own.  God can.

I am not God.  You are not God. 

Maybe, just maybe, the principle is that we need to let God change that "person" in our lives.

Professional football starts again this week!

Go Cowboys!

It seems like the players are getting bigger and bigger, stronger and stronger.

Did you know that it is said that knowledge (information) now increases every two days?

Thankful to the Lord for the three people who raised their hands for salvation this Sunday!

To go into Syria or not?  Tough call. 

Love you all.....