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Thursday, February 27, 2014

How we handle the Bible matters

Over the past two or three years, I have chosen a path of teaching the Bible verse by verse on Sunday mornings.
We went through the Gospel of John in its entirety and are now walking through the book of Genesis.
Early in the summer of this year, we will begin a pilgrimage through the book of Acts.
I absolutely love it!
I like it because it gets me into the word in a deeper way.
I like it because it gets our church family in the word in a deeper way.
Most of life's questions are answered in the Bible.  If not directly, than indirectly.
We are to be people of God's word.
Slowly, but surely, more and more of our church family are bringing their Bibles to a Sunday morning worship experience, opened up and ready to listen to His Word.
If I could squeeze on challenge in here:  coming to a Sunday morning service without your Bible is like trying to snow ski without skis - or playing tennis without a tennis racket - well, you get the idea).
Here's what I know:  Understanding God's Word is important.
This past week I heard a sad story of sincere religious conviction and deadly misinterpretation.
For years, some Christian congregations have taken Jesus' words in Mark 16:18, "… they shall take up serpents …" — literally.
But the supposed scriptural promise that the faithful will be protected doesn't always pan out.
One prominent pastor in a snake-handling congregation recently died after being bitten in a service.
While his sincerity was unquestionable (refusing medical intervention) his hermeneutic apparently was.
Many misinterpreted Scripture passages won't kill you as quickly as rattlesnake venom, but any misreading of Scripture carries serious consequences for how we live our lives, and what we believe about God.
How we handle the Bible matters.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Losing your coat doesn't mean losing your dream

God gives us direction, dreams if you will, for our future.

You have a dream - a purpose for your life.

I do to.

As followers of Christ, we all do.

Joseph, as a 17 year old boy (Genesis 37) had a dream.

It was a dream from God - about his future - and the way God would use him.

It was a dream that included the fact that one day his siblings would bow down to him.

He shared that dream with his brothers in a prideful way.

Now as one of the youngest of the tribe - it was not a smart thing to do.

That dream (that he shared with his brothers) and the fact that his dad, Jacob, favored him above all the rest of the children, did not set well with the brothers.

His dad gave him a "coat of many colors."

Because of their jealousy, the brothers took Joseph and sold him to some passing travelers.

Not wanting Jacob to know what they did - they faked his death.

The Bible says in Genesis 37:31-32, "Then they got Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.  They took the ornamented robe back to their father."

Joseph lost his coat.  His status with his dad.  The piece of clothing that set him "head and shoulders" above the rest.

Please understand that when you lose your coat - you have not lost your dream.

So, I challenge you today to know the difference between your dream and your coat.  Your dream is a permanent calling from God that requires a process of cultivation for fulfillment.

Your coat, whatever gives you a feeling of status - is a temporary symbol that God may choose to take away.

But that doesn't mean that your dream is lost.  Don't confuse the two.

God is much more interested in who the dream makes you than what the dream is.

Losing your coat doesn't mean losing  your dream.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tearing down walls

Someone once wrote, "fences make good neighbors."
I get that.
We all need our space.
We all need to "get away from it all," and relax.
Yet, what I also know is that we don't have to build physical walls to keep people out; we can build emotional and relational walls (to keep people out) that can be just as high as any prison wall in the country.
Walls have been built since the beginning of time.
I read today that in the first century, the Roman emperor Hadrian built a 75-mile wall across Roman Britain.
In the 1870s, Argentina built a line of trenches and watchtowers called the Zanja de Alsina to protect Buenos Aires from invasion by indigenous peoples.
The Berlin Wall went up in 1961, dividing East from West for almost 30 years.
In 1975, South Africa built a 3,500-volt electric fence dubbed the Snake of Fire to keep the civil war in Mozambique from spilling over into the frontier.
In the middle of the night in August 2006, Italian officials constructed a steel wall around Via Anelli, a run-down neighborhood known for drug trafficking and prostitution.
What are the negative effects of walls?
They can divide us. 
Either intentionally or unintentionally we can keep people out from true relationship, from a real relational connection.
We do this because we have been hurt in the past, and "we are never going to let ourselves be hurt like that again."
But "keeping people out" does not help us - it hurts us.
Walls don't just divide us.
They challenge our emotions.
After the Berlin Wall went up, East German psychiatrists observed that the Berlin Wall caused mental illness, rage, dejection, and addiction. The closer to the physical wall people lived, the more acute their disorders.
The only cure for "Wall Disease" was to bring the Wall down.
Sure enough, in 1990, psychiatrists noted the "emotional liberation" felt after November 9, 1989 when the Wall finally fell. Thousands of jubilant Germans climbed the Wall, wept, and embraced each other atop the concrete, and proceeded to tear the Wall down with joyful abandon.
I would suggest to you today that (with the help of the Holy Spirit) you tear down your walls and let people in.  In missing out on the pain by keeping your walls up, you also miss out on the joy and happiness of fulfilling relationships with others.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

God is doing a great thing in our church!

We are experiencing some spiritual momentum.

My desire is that we ride the current wave of the Holy Spirit's moving!

Our pastoral staff just spent the morning in planning - lots of great events coming in the Spring!

Thankful for our pastoral staff team.

I am enjoying the sunshine (out my window) on this Monday. 

You really aren't thankful for what you do have until it is taken away (like sunshine and spring).

What I didn't get to in yesterday's teaching:

Constantly desiring the approval of others can be an idol.

Our goal is to ultimately seek God's approval alone - and as we attempt to do that - everything else will fall into place.

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller writes, "Idols generate false beliefs such as 'If I cannot achieve X, then my life won't be valid' or, 'Since I have lost or failed at Y, now I can never be happy or forgiven.'"
Then he illustrates this point with the following illustration:  A young woman named Mary was an accomplished musician who once attended my church. For many years she had battled mental illness and had checked in and out of psychiatric institutions. She gave me permission as her pastor to speak to her therapist …. "Mary virtually worships her parents' approval of her," her counselor told me, "and they always wanted her to be a world-class artist. She is quite good, but she's never reached the top of her profession, and she cannot live with the idea that she has disappointed her parents."
Medications helped to manage her depression, but they could not get to the root of it. Her problem was a false belief, driven by an idol. She told herself, "If I cannot be a well-known violinist, I have let down my parents, and my life is a failure."
She was distressed and guilty enough to die. When Mary began to believe the gospel, that she was saved by grace, not by musicianship, and that, "though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord shall take me in" (Psalm 27:10), she began to get relief from her idolatrous need for her parents' approval. In time her depression and anxiety began to lift, and she was able to reenter her life and musical career.

Why not seek after God's approval today - and let the rest fall into place.

Love you all.....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comparing problems and blessings

The word of the day:  Don't compare.

One of the things that will wear you out is comparing both your problems and your blessings with others.

It will exhaust you mentally and emotionally to think if not say:

"Why do I have the problems I have - look at them over there - they don't have half the problems I do."

"Why are they blessed so much and I am not?  I am much more godly than they are!"

It is a challenge as old as mankind.


After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus is conversing with Peter.  Peter looks at John and says basically, "Lord, what are you going to do with John?  How are you going to use John?  What will John be going through?"

Jesus turns around and says and I quote from John 21:22, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow me."

In other words, to put it bluntly, mind your own business.  Keep your focus on me.

Don't compare.

Don't compare sufferings.  Your pain is your pain.  It is unique to you.

"Well, I shouldn't feel this way because there are people in the world who are far worse off than I am."

I get that - but your pain is your pain.  Your feelings are your feelings.  God wants to help you on the level of your pain and your feelings within the confines of that pain.

The opposite is true as well.  If we are not careful, our suffering can be a source of pride or resentment.  We like the attention we receive from others while we suffer.

I would suggest that no matter how badly someone else is suffering we always want to think that we are suffering worse than they are. 

Yup.  It's true.  It is just the opposite of feeling guilty over our feelings during our pain - because there are others suffering much worse. 

We can feel superior in the sense that we are suffering in a way that is much worse than others.

It is a lie of the enemy in both scenarios.

The devil says, "How can you feel depressed over what you are going through - think of all of the people who are suffering much worse than you."

Or, "You have it much worse than anybody else.  You must be doing something wrong.  You are the scum of the earth."

All lies.

The Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:8,9, "...the enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring (in fierce hunger), seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in the faith (against his onset - rooted, established, strong, immovable and determined), knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christ) throughout the world."

God would say to you today - don't compare your pain (or your blessings) with others.  Rejoice in what you do have and not in what you don't have.

Forget about what others are doing or going through.  Follow Christ.  Keep your eyes on him.

Don't let yourself feel sorry for yourself. 

And if you do this - it will help you to stay strong and not become weary and faint.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

God's love

It is only natural that we try to compute God's love with human love. 

I mean, it is all that we know. 

At the same time - God's love much higher and broader and deeper than any love that we can produce in the natural.

That's what we are looking at this evening as we close out Romans 8 - looking at verses 38,39.

Paul writes:  For I am convinced (I know this not only intellectually but I know it experientially in my heart) that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (we will specifically unpack each one of these - this evening), will be able to separate (violently tear from, to completely divide) us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wonderful words of assurance.

God's agape love never ends; it is not fickle or waning or changeable or whimsical.

Jeremiah 31:3 says, "I have loved you with an everlasting glove; therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness."

Our emotions can change form day to day based upon our mood swings or the condition of our health or many other factors.

Jesus however, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

His love never, ever changes. 

Can I share with you this?  God has a "crazy love" for you.

God is for you.

If  you were a skier in the Olympics, God is cheering your run.  Look at the finish line - that's God applauding your steps.

Are you too tired to continue?  God will carry you.

God is for you.

His love is eternal.

If God carried a wallet - your picture would be in it.

God has your birthday circled on his calendar.

Nothing can separate you from that love.

Rest in that today, my dear friends.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Naming it for what it is

Sometimes you and I just need to name something for what it is.
Politicians have their "spin" on events; they have people on their staffs whose whole occupation is to put a positive spin on some kind of negativity in the campaign.
People put their own spin on different actions that they have participated in through rationalization or redefining what they did by comparing it to others doing the same thing.  Or it is not "hurting anyone." 
We as followers of Christ use our "spin" as well when it comes to words such as "sin."
We don't like to use the word "sin". 
We use synonyms because we think that if we say "sin" some people will label us as a traditional old super Christian Bible thumpers (I went through this phase a few years back - wanting to be "friendly" to the non-churched).
Here are the words we use instead:  Junk.  Failures.  Baggage.  Hang-ups.  Challenges.  Struggles.  Mistakes.  Issues.  Problems.
Jonathan Acuff has written, "I work in the corporate world, where you're supposed to put a spin on bad things.  You're supposed to say, "I found an opportunity for improvement," not, "I made a mistake."  You should say, "I have identified some growth areas in my performance," not, 'I figured out why that project I presented caught on fire in the conference room."
He further explains, "But when Jesus died on the cross he didn't do so because he wanted to "shift my paradigm."  He didn't come to help me "realize my full potential" and "Unpack my baggage."  Or "overcome my hang-ups".  "Or recalenderize my Q1."
Great stuff for a Tuesday. 
You see, maybe, just maybe, we should go back to naming it for what it is - sin. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

It was my privilege to dedicate Anthony and Alyssa Espano yesterday.  What a wonderful family!  It is truly a joy to see them grow in the Lord - and in relationship with our church family!

We are rejoicing with Rick Maldaner at finding a job (after a four year search)!

God is good!

Your story, Rick, is not only a testimony of God's faithfulness but an example of a follower of Christ being faithful during a difficult time!

Great to see Kay Nichols and Ruth Sennese back in one of our Sunday morning services yesterday after being gone for various physical infirmities.

I deeply appreciated the positive comments after my teaching yesterday on "Dealing with Abuse".  As I remarked, it was a very, very difficult topic to unpack - as so many people in today's world have experienced abuse.

Thanks to all who took the time to affirm what was shared - it meant a lot to me. 

More importantly, however, I am grateful that it ministered to so many people.

I met two new families yesterday.  Praise God!

Just a short note of thanks for all of you who come Sunday after Sunday to our Sunday morning worship services - thank you for your faithfulness.

There is an urgency in my spirit that we go into a deeper level of relationship with God.

Reminder:  Bring a friend to one of our Sunday morning services!

Bring a friend to one of our many small groups (life groups)!

God is trying to develop a sense of consistency in your life in your walk with Him.

Let him do that.

I am grateful for a loving, caring wife who not only supports me when I am down but speaks truth into my life when I am wrong.

Please be in prayer with us as we continue our search for a new worship pastor.

Again - if you have been praying for snow - please stop.  :) :)

Thanks, Pastor Charlie and Heather for all that you do in ministry.

I am grateful for Amanda and Aldin and Debbie as well!

If you have a prayer need, please contact our church office - our desire is to meet your needs as best and as quickly as we can.

Love you all.....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The ordinary

Someone once said, "the difficult thing of life is that it is so daily."

Sometimes we fear the ordinary.  The "humdrum". 

Many times we even detest and despise the ordinary.

I see folks who want the "public ministry", receiving recognition and applause.

I get that.

It is not wrong to want to be used mightily by God (for all the right reasons).

Yet, the older I become, the more I realize that the greatest ministry you and I can have is in the ordinary situations of life.

I recently had lunch with a couple of other pastors - one pastor mentioned that at the end of the day what counts is if he had done what Jesus had told him to and lived for God.

He was spot on in saying that he couldn't possibly do everything that could be done in ministry (even Jesus didn't do that on a daily basis) but only what he could - with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Most of the time, the greatest ministry you  have will be hidden and away from the applause of this world.

In the dailyness of life.

Giving a kind word.

Letting someone go in front of you at the grocery store line.

Encouraging someone with a scripture.

Calling someone in need.

Speaking creatively in a difficult situation.

Jesus modeled this for us.

The largest part of the life of Jesus was hidden.

He lived with his parents in Nazareth, "under their authority." (Luke 2:51.

While living with his parents, he increased (Luke 2:52) in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with people."

The life of Jesus consisted of spectacular miracles and signs of wonders.  His passion, his death and resurrection.

But we should never distance ourselves from the fact that Jesus lived a simple, hidden life in a small town, far away form all the great people, great cities, and great events.

That is important for our own spiritual journey's as well.  If we want to follow Jesus by words and deeds in the service of his kingdom, we must first of all strive to follow Jesus in his simple, unspectacular, and very ordinary hidden life.

You might not do something today that will make, "Christian headlines."  But it is in doing the godly, "small" thing that opens up the door the a powerful ministry - and the domino effect of goodness spreading throughout the world.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Questions and promises

This evening we will look at some questions (really rhetorical questions) and promises from Paul in Romans 8:31-37.

Paul asks the question:  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

The thought is that no matter what you face on a daily basis - God is for you (In fact, I encourage you as you read this to stop and say out loud, "God is for me."

God is for me.  God is for you. 

Paul asks the questions:  "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things?" 

God not only will protect you with his constant love - but He will provide for you as well.

God graciously gives us all things (I encourage you at this point to stop and remember that if God solved your greatest problem, which is your eternal salvation (with his death on the cross), how much more will he take care of your car payment!  Your health!  Your mortgage!  Your job search!

Paul asks the question:  "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies."

If you are feeling accused today - those accusations do not come from God.

They come from the enemy, Satan, whose name means, "Slanderer."

Yet know this:  when you are accused by the devil, it is God who stands as your defense attorney.

(I encourage you at this point to stop and rebuke the accusations of the enemy and dwell in the presence of the unconditional love of God).

Paul asks the question:  Who is he that condemns Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."

Satan may be screaming negative thoughts in your ear - but Jesus (at the same time) stands in heaven praying for  you.  Right now.

(I encourage you at this point to stop and realize that Jesus is praying for you).

Finally, Paul asks this question:  "Who shall separate us form the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

To separate means to place a wedge between and was also used as a synonym for "amputate."

There is absolutely nothing that can get in the way of the Lord loving us.

(I encourage you at this point to stop and dwell in the thought that God's love for you is unconditional.)

I guess you can consider these "simple thoughts" but yet at the same time they are complex thoughts that will brighten up your day.

Just some thoughts for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Accountability and responsibility

I consistently feel the weight of leading a church family (As a spiritual leader) - and keeping us accountable in our walk with Christ.
It is something that keeps me up at nights - especially if I see someone slipping away from their relationship with Christ.
I see it from time to time:  Someone sitting near the front in a Sunday morning service, will begin sitting in the middle - and then sit in the back - and then they are out the back door.
That bothers me, gives me pause, and takes me to my knees in prayer.
But here is what I know:  I trust that it bothers you as well.
I would ask that you consider taking up the torch of accountability.
Oh, I know the pitfalls:  Not wanting to be nosy; sometimes it is "none of our business".  You don't know the person well enough to "speak the truth in love" to them.  You don't want to offend.
But what if, as Paul writes in Galatians 6:1,2 "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently...carry each other's burdens..."
Please note this:  We are responsible for one another.
Your life in Christ is my responsibility, and my life in Christ is your responsibility.
When someone is gossiping to me, I need to keep them accountable.
When someone is losing interest in God, I need to keep them accountable.
When someone is doing wrong in their marriage, I need to keep them accountable.
Again, all of this in love - and without any pretense of self-righteousness, testing our own walk with Christ first.
I read this today:

"According to Major David Dixon, recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, from Day 1 every Marine is taught to live a life worthy of a Marine. They're also taught to hold one another accountable to that standard of excellence. Dixon says,

"If the Marine next to you is falling asleep in class, you must have the moral courage to wake him up and motivate him to stay awake. If you are caught sleeping in class at boot camp, not only do you get in trouble for laziness, but the Marine to your left and to your right get in trouble for lack of moral courage because they should have corrected you when you were in the wrong."
There's a graphic example of this principle from a unit of British Marine commandos. During the war in Afghanistan, a unit came across an insurgent, badly wounded but unarmed. One of the British Marine soldiers, seething with rage, pointed his pistol at the man.
He told the man to die and then pulled the trigger. The Marine's parting words were "It's nothing you wouldn't do to us." The soldier then turned to his fellow commandos and said, "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention." But word did get out in the following days, and that commando was found guilty of murder.
Could anything been said or done to prevent the tragedy? Some military experts believe that the murder could have been prevented if just one other Marine in that unit had the courage to confront their fellow-soldier and hold him accountable. It would have taken only four simple words: "Marines don't do that."
Sometimes we do need to reach out with love and compassion and say, "Followers of Christ don't do that."
When you see someone "murdering" another believer in Christ with their words, say, "Christians don't do that."
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Let me just say how grateful I am for all of our Upward Basketball volunteers who come out on Saturday mornings (most of them very snowy Saturdays) to facilitate this wonderful ministry.

I know that your heartbeat is to see kids and parents come to Christ.  This is a great avenue to see that happen.

I like watching parents watch their kids play basketball.  There is so much (justifiable) pride and joy in their eyes.

I would ask that you be in prayer with me for this important ministry - that God would continue to connect people to Jesus; and possibly to our church family.

Did we have a blast or what for our Valentine's Day party?


I sang "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. 

Pastor Charlie turned down the lights and people spontaneously lifted up the flashlights on their cellphones. 

Starting my "world-wide" tour next week.  :) :)

Again, many, many thanks to everyone who helped make it such a great evening, including some of the teenagers from our youth group who helped serve.

A special thanks to Debbie Flattery and Heather Bassett.  Thanks for all of your hard work, ladies, in leading this wonderful evening.


It's amazing how much talent we have in our church.  Those playing charades, played the game well!

Thanks to our speakers, Rich and Shellie Wotton.  They did a fantastic job of sharing from 1 Corinthians 13, as well as their own personal pilgrimage.

Grateful to meet several visitors yesterday.  We would ask that you continue to check us out.

God calls us all to a ministry of reconciliation.

To reconcile doesn't mean to resolve every issue.  But to reconnect and have relationship.

The greatest thing you can do as a Christian is to walk in peaceful harmony with those who are around you.

I really like seeing the people of God worshipping, hands raised, voices lifted in praise and adoration.

You are important to us at Stone Church.  The church needs you - you need the church - we really do need each other.

Can't wait for next Sunday to come - Excited about what God is doing!

Love you all......

Thursday, February 06, 2014


Jesus said I the best in Matthew 7:1, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

Simple, but straight forward.

The measure by which you judge others is the measure by which God judges you.

I was reading today of a law on drunken driving in Louisiana which is not one of the toughest in the nation.

There is a mandatory prison sentence for anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated.  Getting is passed was a major victory for various groups against drunk driving.  They could not have gotten it passed if it were not for the help of one particular state legislator who sponsored the bill.

Not long after the law took effect the first person to be arrested for DUI was brought before the judge and found guilty. 

He was sentenced to a prison term.

Who was he?

The same legislator who sponsored the bill!

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 7:2, "For the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure it shall be measured to you."

Thomas a Kempis once wrote, "Be not angry that you cannot make others as you want them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing

When a difficult circumstance comes our way, we instinctively reach out to do everything we can, while we can with what we have to bring resolution to the trial.

Sometimes, however, the best thing to do is to do nothing (especially when you don't know what to do).  Sometimes the old adage, "doing something is better than nothing," doesn't hold true.

Henri Nouwen has written:

The Flying Rodleighs are trapeze artist who perform in the German circus Simoneit-Barum.  When the circus came to Freiburg two years ago, my friends, Frank and Reny invited me and my father to see the show.  I will never forget how enraptured I became when I first saw the Rodleighs move through the air, flying and catching as elegant dancers (Gradually, the Rodleighs and I) became good friends.

One day, I was sitting with Rodleigh, the leader of the troupe, in his caravan, talking about flying.  He said, "As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher.  The public might think that I am the great star of the trapeze, but the real star is Joe, my catcher.  He has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump"

"How does it work?" I asked. 

"The secret," Rodliegh said, "is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything.  When I fly to  Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar."

"you do nothing!"  I said, surprised.

"Nothing," Rodleigh repeated.  "The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher.  I am not supposed to catch Joe.  It's Joe's task to catch me.  If I grabbed Joe's writes, I might break them, or he  might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us.  A flyer must fly and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust with outstretched arms, that this catcher will be there for him."

Are you in a difficult situation today?

Sometimes the best thing to do in a difficult situation is to do nothing - and to trust in God.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Pain of the world

One of the things I like about our church is that we are endeavoring to reach out to those around us - outside the four walls of our church.

We participate in City Church - in downtown Chicago (providing a meal once a month).

We participate in the PASS ministry.

We participate in RFKC.

The list goes on.

At Stone Church - we are concerned - not only about what takes place on our campus - but what takes place in the world.

What goes on the world is our responsibility.

The hunger of the poor, the plight of the disadvantaged, the immense human suffering we hear about from all directions is not something that we put to the side and pick up whenever we think about it.

It is continually to be a part of what we do.

Understandably, many people say, "Wow, I have enough problems of my own; do not bother me with the problems of the world.  Just making it from day to day in my family, my city, my work is huge enough."

I get that.  Some days, outside of God, even the smallest burdens we bear can pull us down spiritually, emotionally, even physically.

Yet, we cannot ignore or live in ignorance of what is taking place around us.

Here's what I know:  God loves everyone in the world.  God is especially attracted to the disadvantaged - and so should we.

When we minister to people nobody wants, God will send us people everyone wants.

Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light," but the burden of Jesus includes, I would suggest, the burden of people around the globe.

When Jesus invites us to carry "His burden", he invites us to carry the burden of the world as well.

And at the end of the day - after we have ministered, we realize it is no burden at all.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

When God's presence touches us as He did in both services yesterday - we are grateful!

The Holy Spirit moves as He will and when He will.

We can't "bottle" or "program" His moving. 

Thanks to our faithful worship team for a wonderful job yesterday in leading us in worship.

Sometimes I wish that you could stand where I stand on the platform and see people kneeling in prayer or "flat on their face before God," during an altar experience.

It is a powerful visual of how hungry our church family is for the moving of God's Spirit.

We are hungry, Lord!  We are thirsty!

I am told that over 90 people have signed up for the Valentine's Day party!  It is going to be a blast!

Change comes through conflict, crisis, commitment, confession and conversion.

I would ask that you consider asking God to change you spiritually in 2014.

Change is intentional - it is something I choose to participate in.

As I said yesterday, "if you are praying for snow - please stop."  :)

Grateful for visitors yesterday who gave us some feedback on how much they were ministered to during the Sunday morning service.

At the end of the day, we all, as followers of Christ, desire to be closer to the Lord.  We just need to choose to take the step in that direction - and the Holy Spirit will help us.

I really enjoy networking "people with people" in the foyer - especially during the coffee connection time.

Let's all continue to reach out to those who are new or newer in our church!

I was completely surprised by the results of the Super Bowl.  It almost seemed like a Division I college team playing a Division II team in football.

Seattle dominated at each phase of the game - offense, defense and special teams.

How can they not win at least one or two more Super Bowls in this decade?

Watching Seattle shows me how bad my Dallas Cowboys really are - mediocre at best.

Let's ride the "momentum" of the Holy Spirit and continue to see great things in our church!

Reminder:  Invite someone to church this Sunday - and consider bringing them.

Love you all.......