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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three phases of prayer

I was reading today about Kevin Kling, who was born with a birth defect:  His left arm was disabled and much shorter than his right.
When he was in his 40's, a motorcycle accident nearly killed him and paralyzed his healthy right arm.
While he was in the hospital recovering from the accident, Kevin Kling learned a life changing lesson about the "three phases of prayer."
Phase one:  We pray to get things from God.
Phase two:  We pray to get out of things.
Phase three:  We pray to give thanks to God.
Kling writes:
"I'd been through many surgeries during my six week stay in the hospital. And each day, I would ride the elevator to the ground floor and try and take a walk. That was my job. 9/11 had happened the week before. And as our country was entering trauma, I was living one.
After my walk, my wife Mary and I went into the gift shop, and she asked if I wanted an apple.
She said they looked really good. Now, I hadn't tasted food in over a month … I lost a lot of weight because food had no appeal. So I said no, but she persisted. Come on. Try it. So finally, I said all right. And I took a bite. And for some reason, that was the day flavor returned, and that powerful sweetness rushed from that apple. Oh, it was incredible.
I started to cry, cry for the first time in years. The tears flowed and as the anesthesia and antibiotics flushed through my tears, it burned my eyes. And between the sweetness of that apple and the burning for my tears, it felt so good to be alive. I blurted out, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for this life." And that's when my prayers shifted, again, to giving thanks."
Good stuff.
A couple of weeks ago, I walked out of the doctor's office with a good report (my CT Scan was clear) - the tumor had not returned. 
As I walked to my car, my eyes teared up as my heart was full of thanksgiving to God - and at times, my gratefulness wells up throughout the day.
I am grateful.
And maybe, just maybe, that is what the celebration on Thursday is all about.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
My favorite day of the year?
Thanksgiving Day.
May this coming Thursday be a wonderful day of family, food, fun, football - and don't forget our heavenly Father!  And give thanks with a grateful heart.
I am grateful for so many, many things:  My relationship with Christ.  A loving family.  A wonderful church to serve as a pastor.  My health.
We never know what we have until it is taken away.  Again, I am grateful for my health.
Thank you, Father.
As I am writing this, it is snowing outside. 
I am grateful we didn't have the snow like they did in Buffalo, New York.
Debbie and I had the opportunity to meet a new couple yesterday after the second service. 
Just a reminder:  Reach out to someone this week - invite them to church - and/or share with them about Christ!
More people come to Christ through relationship than any other way.
You could be the difference maker between someone going to heaven or hell.
Jesus saves - but uses you and I to bring people to Him.
It is all about Jesus.
I love Jesus, yes I do, I love Jesus how about you?
I have to say, my Dallas Cowboys won yesterday - setting up a great game for Thanksgiving Day versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
Just read this:  "Raymond Edman, one of Billy Graham's mentors, once said, "Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light."
God's grace will always be there, especially when you don't feel it.  Your circumstances cannot change the character of God.   That He will always love you and his with you - that he knows what you are going through - that he cares and has a plan for your life.
Good stuff.
Love you all......

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are you a bitter person?

Let me ask you today:  Are you a bitter person?
Have you been keeping score?
Is there a mental balance in your mind that every time that "someone" in your life who has hurts you does something, you say, "they owe me one?"
Some of you, in your marriage, you have had a spouse who made a major mistake - and you are still holding it over their head.
You are an unpleasable person because in your mind - no matter what they do - it is all just repayment.
No matter how good they are to you, you are saying, "They owe it to me."
You are unpleasable - because you won't forgive.
And let me tell you this:  You are killing the marriage - not the other person.
You're doing it by your unwillingness to forgive.
You are a bitter person who will never let them off the hook and you are holding in resentment and you have become unpleasable to the point that they want to say, "What's the use!  I'll never repay!"
In your mind you are saying, "You're right!"  "You never will!"
If you want to save your marriage (or any relationship), forgive, let it go and never bring it up again.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Laying on of hands

There are many things that we take for granted in the kingdom - or practices that we do without knowing why we do them.

Here is one:  Why do we "lay hands on people" when we pray with them?
We saw last week in our study in Acts, this verse:
"When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands....."  Acts 8:18.
What does that mean?

First of all, let's go back to the Old Testament.

The laying on of hands was in a different direction than New Testament laying on of hands.

In the Old Testament, the  most common usage was a person laying a hand on a sacrifice.

And by that, they were transferring their sin to a pure object, thereby, that pure object became a representation that - that animal was an atonement for sacrifice.

The impurity was being drained out of the individual was being transferred into the animal.

In the New Testament, the laying on of hands is not the laying on of impure hands onto something that is better, but it is the laying on of hands of a person that's filled with the power and might of God - and that energy, that power, that life of God which is in them is now being transferred to people who are without power, with the Spirit, and without the deeper consequence of the Lord's work in their life.

Jack Hayford writes:

"It's important when there is a laying on of hands that hose are not empty hands and those heads are not empty heads.  Someone has said that ordination is sometimes like that:  the empty hands of the bishop being laid on the empty heads of the candidate.

If there's no spiritual vitality in a person's life, the laying on of hands is just ritualistic.  So it's incumbent upon those who lay on hands that they be in a place of dynamic relation with God.  And those who receive, be in a position of tremendous hunger and openness to God.

When that combination occurs, God is a work doing His thing."
In other words, as you pray with people and "lay hands on them," at least make sure that your heart is right before God for that prayer to be effective.

To summarize, the laying on of hands is an often overlooked but foundational biblical truth  among its many proper biblical uses of laying are:

Healing.  Ordinations.  Sending qualified, called people out in ministry.  Receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Imparting spiritual gifts.  Imparting a blessing.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The simple life

I like simple things.   
Watching the sunset on a beach.
Having dinner with friends.
Taking a long walk with Debbie. 
Isn’t it true that it’s in the simple things of life that we find the most joy! 
God is calling us to keep our faith “simple.”  As in not complex, not complicated and not busy. 
God desires that we have time to walk and talk with Him.  To love Him. 
God desires that we have time to walk and talk with others.  To love people. 
God desires that we have time to reach out to others.  To serve others. 
That’s our mission.  That’s our goal. 
We desire to love God thru shared worship and instruction. 
We desire to love others thru involvement in a small group. 
We desire to serve others thru ministry. 
Living the Christian faith is more than “bringing people to church.”  Living the Christian faith is “taking the church to people.”  Being the followers of Christ He has called us to be.  
Howard Hendricks has written, “You can impress people at a distance; you can only impact them up close.  The general principle is this:  the closer the personal relationship, the greater the potential for impact.” 
We come to Christ in relationship.  We grow in Christ in relationship.  I mean, think about it for a second.  Who has had the greatest spiritual impact on your life?  Perhaps it was a college professor, a youth pastor, a friend, your spouse, or your parents.  Regardless of who it was, you had a relationship with that person. 
You knew that they cared about you.  You spent time together.  You gave them permission, formally or informally, to check up on you. 
We really do need each other.  That’s why the small groups shown in this issue are so important.  Where else can we really, truly and ultimately connect with others but in a setting where we consistently slow down and share each other’s burdens and laugh and cry and encourage one another?
Let me ask you a pointed, personal and perhaps irritating question.  Are we spending so much time “doing church” that we forget that we are to “be the church” to those around us? 
Perhaps Christ is calling us to simple Christianity.  Perhaps the “kiss theory” should come into play here (Keep It Simple Stupid).   
Our world and culture is so complex that people are longing, and yes searching for something that is going to simplify their lives.  The last thing they need is one more “busy thing to do.”   
Jesus knew this.  The religious leaders of his day had developed a religious system with 613 laws.  They chose the number 613 because that was how many separate letters were in the text containing the Ten Commandments.  Enter Jesus.  A man comes along and asks, “Which of the commandments is the greatest?”  And Jesus basically responds, “Love God and love people.”  Simple.   
We must continually ask ourselves, “Is what we are doing changing lives?”  While greatly appreciated, a lot of what we label “ministry” in the church is simply “busyness.”   
Is God calling us back to the simplicity of the gospel?  Of serving?  Helping?  Encouraging?  Relating?  Affirming?  Restoring?  Of loving God and loving people? 
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
I'm not quite sure how many volunteers we have on a typical Sunday morning to facilitate all of the ministries of our church - but there are many.
And to all of  you who help out - a huge thank you!
We are very appreciative of your time and help.
I participated in a very productive meeting with Bobbie Dirks (our new head of our greeters and welcome booth ministry) and Tom Kirchner and Jon Gerstenkorn!
I really appreciate their burden and desire to see that everyone is welcomed to our church on a Sunday morning.
Upward Basketball.  Still time to sign up!
I know that you will agree with me that worship was powerful, anointed and encouraging yesterday.
I especially enjoyed to flute solo.
Thought for today:  Just about the time you are ready to give up - that is the time God is ready to step in and His thing.
Many thanks to the young men in our youth group who stood and cheered as I wore turquoise tennis shoes and jeans in their honor!
I must say that wearing jeans was very, very comfortable.
We are building moment as to the theme for our church family in 2015.  More to come.
What I didn't get to yesterday (in my teaching):
In spite of my circumstances:
I can be joyful because God is with me. 
I can be joyful because God has a plan for me.
I can rejoice because God will help me.
I am to focus on God's power rather than my problems.  Psalms 62:8:  Trust in God at all times; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." 
Paul writes in Philippians 4:13, "For I can do everything with the help of Christ who give me the strength I need."
Do you need strength today?  Draw from God's power. 
Love you all.....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The church, a man's wife and criticism

Wake up  your sanctified imagination and think of this scenario:

A man invites a friend into his home for dinner.  They enjoy a delicious meal that the man's wife had graciously offered to make.

The man and his friend casually catch up on life, but then halfway through the meal, the invited guest starts to do something unbelievable.

He starts listing things that his friends' wife could have done better.

His friend says, "the chicken was way too tough, You should  have marinated it longer.  And the broccoli is overcooked, mushy and bland.  My 12 year old daughter could cook a better meal.  And you should really do something else with your hair."

Then he starts to criticize her character, even ridicule her.

It doesn't take a brain surgeron to realize his visit could be cut short.  And the guest would probably be sent away with a few choice words.

Even if he was right about certain things, the typical husband simply wouldn't tolerate someone openly and caustically criticizing his wife.

He loves her, and for a husband, that leads to accepting and honoring his wife despite her quirks and shortcomings.

Did you realize that the church is the bride of Christ?

That Christ gave his life for the church?

And what's interesting is how followers of Christ can tolerate this mean-spirited  criticism all the time when it is directed at the church.

If we are not careful, it is easy for  us to look at the church and her leaders, and says, "The church should have done (and fill in the blank)."  Or, "I wish they hadn't done (and fill in the blank)."

Just remember, the next time you are really laying into the church - that you are talking about the "wife" of Jesus.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in Luke 17:11-19

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 

As he is going into a village, ten men with leprosy encounter him.

They stood at a distance (because of the physical threat of getting leprosy - like Ebola - and also because it was the cultural norm) and shouted, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

Jesus basically replies, "Go and see your doctor" - and as they did - they are healed.

One of them comes back and praising God at the top of his lungs, throws himself at the feet of Jesus - and thanked him. 

The other nine did not.

This really bothered Jesus - a lot.

He tells the one who came back to thank him - "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."  In other words, your gratitude will heal you in your emotions and mind as well as you body.

Today, I want to emulate the one that came back to thank Jesus.

Yesterday, I went to my doctor who examined my blood work from two weeks ago and the CT Scan I had last week.  (I am on a schedule of 3 month checkups after the tumor was taken out of my stomach in April).

Everything was clear

I am very grateful.

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The leading of God

Here's what I know:

Normally God leads us a step at a time.

The Psalmist writes in Psalms 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."

In Old Testament times, they didn't have flashlights on their IPhones, or high beams on their carts.

How did you get anywhere at night?

They had little oil lamps that they would actually strap to the top of their feet and light the lamps and they gave light as you walked in the dark.

As you took a step, that lamp lighted that step.  As you took the next step, that step was lit.  It was not a high beam that you could see a half mile down the road.  It was simply a step by step enlightenment.

It is the same with God's will.  God is not going to lay it all out and say this  is what's going to happen in your life over the next 20 years. 

To be candid with  you - that would blow your mind - and even keep you up at night!

God says, I reveal my will to you a step at a time, and my word will give light to your path.
My word to you today?  Relax knowing that it will all come together.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Busy, busy time.

What a joy it was to have family members with us over the weekend!

Doug and Cindy Sites (Debbie's brother and sister-in-law) gave a powerful, moving presentation of the need in Asia.

God is moving!

It was fun to have the entire church together in one service.

I relished the unity and oneness of spirit that we all sensed and felt!

We have a very, very good church - filled with good people.

Thanks to all who helped out with the dinner yesterday - we appreciated your time and help!

I also enjoyed having our children in for the service:  their support of missions through Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade is invaluable both to the missionary and to the casting of a vision for missions to the boys and girls!

Thanks to everyone who brought food - it was delicious!

Worship again - I know that I sound redundant - but each we are drawing closer and closer to the Lord.  Thanks worship team for your leadership.

Am grateful for an excellent pastoral staff team around me!

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be with 5 men (on Saturday morning) who are craving to grow in God - and as leaders in their home.

Didn't the kids choir sound good yesterday during the banquet?

Could I give you a suggestion?  I encourage you to invite someone this Sunday morning.

Why?  Just because.......

You never know that this Sunday might be the Sunday that God moves in that individual's life!

Thanksgiving is coming (my favorite day of the year!)

As I mentioned in my article (email blast) to everyone:  Please be in prayer for our pastors and their families.  And...please know that we are praying for you!

Can I tell you something?  You are needed at our church!  You are important to us!

I am looking forward to "bigger and better" things for our church - how about you?!

Love you all,


Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Have you ever needed encouragement in your life?
I would guess that you have.
We all do at times.
Encouragement is like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.  It revives and refreshes.  It is like a cold drink to quench your thirst.  It renews and gives strength.
It helps you overcome when  you feel overwhelmed.  It helps you soar rather than sink.
It helps you to be a victor rather than a victim.
Here's what I know:  We all hunger and thirst for encouragement.
When encouragement comes our way, we soak it up like a sponge.  We're ready for more because that's what gets u through the day.
This day - be an encourager and not a discourager.
What are the characteristics of an encourager?
They give freely of their resources.  They recognize that what they haven't doesn't belong to them but to God.  They have an open handed philosophy of life.
Corrie Ten Boom says it well, "I've learned not to hold onto anything too tightly because it hurts too much to have God pry back my fingers to get to it.  So I've learned to live  my life with an open hand so that God can put in and he can take out whatever he wants, and that way I never miss the blessing."
Encouragers accept you where you are.  They are willing to accept you where you are and help you get to where you need to be.  They realize that none of us came to Christ with an advantage.
Encouragers get excited about the progress of others.  The rejoice and get excited when others succeed in their marriages, parenting or at their jobs.
Encouragers meet the current need.  They sit in the back seat and let somebody else drive if that's what brings God glory.
Encouragers give others a second chance.  They realize that one failure doesn't mean total failure.  They are quick to say, "try again".
Every day, you and I make messes.  The last thing we need is for someone to come along and say, "what a mess!"  What we need is the fresh air of encouragement.
I encourage you to find two or three people today and give them a wonderful, sincere word of encouragement. 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Parents - you are doing well!

One of the issues that Christian parents struggle with is this:  "Am I doing well as a parent?"  "Am I providing the Christian parenting that they need?"  "What if I am not perfect as a mom, or as a dad?"
Let me give you two thoughts today as a word of encouragement:
No parent is perfect (only our Father God is).
You are doing really, really well as a mom or dad.
I have been saying this a lot recently:  More than at any other time in ministry as a pastor, I see parents who are "doing their best" as parents, with God's help.
Please know that you are, mom and dad.
So many parents are guilt ridden, fretting that they are overdoing it or not doing enough.
I encourage you to relax today, knowing that from my perspective, you are doing a wonderful job.
And know this:  When you are having a hard time with one of your children (and you are really feeling the heat), you're a candidate for a breakthrough.  Pain prompts change. 
It's like the Chinese symbol for the word crisis:  It means "danger," but it also means "opportunity."
There is a possibility hidden in every problem.
Know this:  Without problems, there can be no miracles.  When times are really tough and you're hurting, think about Jesus.  Every trouble He experienced ended in triumph.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

Debbie and I went and saw "Amazing Grace" (the musical) this past Friday - it was very good.

Of course, at the end, as the cast is singing the hymn, "Amazing Grace" (along with a good portion of the audience) it was difficult not to cry tears of rejoicing at God's goodness to us.

God is good - all the time.

Worship was phenomenal yesterday. 

Many thanks to our worship team.  There was a powerful sense of God's presence in the chapel.

Did you enjoy your extra hours' sleep last Saturday evening?

Missions banquet this coming Sunday!

We love missions!

We love missionaries!

One service.  11:00 A.M.  Sunday morning, November 9th.  Global Potluck dinner to follow.  Please plan on bringing an international dish to the lunch.

We will also be hearing a story of healing:  Cindy Sites, the wife of our missionary will be sharing of how God healed her from cancer.

I encourage you to vote tomorrow - and pray for the elections.

May God's will be done.

As I said yesterday, I can't wait for all of the attack ads to be over with - on television.
I read this today:
"It had to be a weird day for the Coast Guard when they got a report about a man in a bubble needing rescue in the middle of the ocean. Reza Baluchi, an ultra-marathoner attempting a globe-wide run to promote world peace, was attempting to "run" from Florida to Bermuda in the person-powered "bubble." But walking on water is for very elite company, and much like the last guy who thought it was a good idea to walk on the water (Peter), Baluchi needed to be rescued. Sometimes we are called to take crazy risks, in search of our goals, or just to follow Jesus. But if you're in over your head, don't be too proud to call for help. Walking on water isn't easy."
John Ortberg has written a book entitled, "If you want to walk on water - get out of the boat".  But I would add - don't forget to take people with you on the journey.
Love you all.