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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Praying over a period of time

One day George Mueller, the great British evangelist - who lived at the end of the 19th century - began praying for five of his friends.
After many months, one of them came to the Lord.
10 years later, two others were converted.  It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved.
George Mueller persisted in prayer (until his death) for his fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years, Mueller never gave up hoping and praying that his friend would accept Christ. 
His faith was rewarded - for soon after Mueller's funeral - the last friend came to Christ.
I encourage you today to persist in praying.
For your spouse, your parents, your children.
For someone you know to come to Christ.
For peace in the war-torn parts of our country and world.
That God's power would cause a revolution in our church.
That God would use you to work for His glory.
Jesus said in Mark 11:24, "Whatever you ask for in prayer, belive that you will receive it and it will be yours."
That is an incredible promise. 
Two qualifications:  Keep on asking.  Keep on on believing.
God is eager to answer your prayers.  You don't need to beg, borrow, gripe, complain, or pester Him. 
But we are to be persistant - not for His benefit - but for ours.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pulled down or pulled up

Here is what I know (and what I have read):  In life, it is far easier to be pulled down than lifted up.
That is so true in anything, but especially in the relationships we have in life.
It is far easier to be pulled down than lifted up.
You have a daily choice:  Am I going to hang out with people who lift me up?  Or am I going to hang out with people who bring me down?
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Don't be fooled....bad company corrupts good character."
More than anything else, the people you and I choose to associate with will form our character.  The way we act, think and respond to life.
It's inevitable:  You will take on the habits, attitudes, beliefs and even the mannerism of the people you surround yourself with. 
So....if you are dreaming and trying to life by faith in some area of your life - stay far away from people who will shrink your dreams and encourage the enemy (as one author put it) called "good enough."
Instead, hang out with people who will stretch you, speak truth into your life and help you pursue your God-given dreams.
Here is also something I know (and just read):  When people with different values hang out together, somebody ultimately changes. 
So, this day, I encourage you to do the following:
Make an assessment of who (or is it whom?)  you are spending time with.
Become alert to who is lifting you up and who is pulling you down.
Make a conscious effort to be with people whose character and integrity are equal to or greater than your own.
Hang out with positive, joyful, faith-filled people.
Ask someone you love and trust to hold you accountable.
Hang out with people who draw the best out of you and not the worst.
I leave you with this:  What do you do when you do encounter someone who is negative, filled with pessimism, and draining of your time and emotions?
Well, that is another subject in and of itself, but one suggestion would be this:  Fill your tank before you meet with them.  Inoculate yourself before your contact with them by reading something unusually inspiring, mediating on God, reading the Word, praying, speaking to a friend who is positive and joy-filled - in other words, fill your tank before you meet someone who will drain that tank.
Anyway, just some thoughts for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The reality of worship

Jesus said in John 4:24, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

We get the "spirit part" of worship - but what is "true worship"?

True worship has been a "hot topic" for the church since I was a little pup in ministry.

(I have the scars on my back from participating in the worship wars).  :) :)

Let me give you some thoughts I read today about what true worship is:

Some think that the goal in worship is to talk about God. 

True worship is when we come into the presence of God - and I leave changed, transformed by the power of that presence.

Some think that the result of worship leaves me (you) feeling pleased (on an emotional high).

True worship leaves God feeling pleased - it is when we are the participators and God is the audience.

Some think that the focus in worship is the people on the platform.

True worship focuses in on God - no matter who is leading in worship.

Some think that the pathway to worship only happens when the music and sermon are good.

True worship happens when we worship in spirit and in truth.  I would suggest that while excellence is important, engaging God - His Spirit with my spirit is the ultimate end game.

Some people think that worship happens in church.

True worship happens (or should be happening) every day of our lives.

Some think that that a passion for worship will come as others participate.

True worship is a willingness to worship whether others do or not.

My desire is to worship God is "spirit and in truth"!

Just some thoughts for a Tuesday.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
I don't know about you - but I really enjoy (and even need) the sunshine!
Beautiful day today.
Can I share something with you?   I love our church.  I love our church family.
We are not perfect - but we are loving.  We care about you and we care about people.
I would suggest that really good things are happening in our church - why not ask someone to come and see what is going on?
I really like the story found in John 1 where Jesus is leaving for Galilee - and finds Philip and said to Philip (John 1:43), "Follow me."
Philip followed Christ - and then John writes that Philip found Nathanael and tells him about Jesus.  Nathanael questions (actually kind of mocks the town that Jesus is from - Nazareth) how Jesus is and Philip said three short but powerful words, "Come and see."
"Come and see".  And Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus.
Word of exhortation for this week:  Invite someone to "come and see" what is going on at Stone Church!
Reminder:  I encourage you to thank God every day this week (on Facebook) - for something in your life.
Overcoming fear?  Worry about nothing.  Pray about everything.  In everything give thanks.  Think faith thoughts.
Relationship, my friends.  It is all about connecting to and with one another.  I deeply appreciate those who are willing to break out of their comfort zones and reach out to those whom they don't know - on a Sunday morning.
My greatest fear is that I am going to succeed at something that doesn't matter.
Love you all......

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Don't quit

Someone, somewhere needs to read this blog today.
My word to you?  Don't quit.
Trust in God during life's disappointments, and don't quit.
Some years ago, Kris Kristofferson made a hit record with a song called, "Why Me?".
The lyrics began, "Why me, Lord?  What  have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures of I have known?"
We've all asked the "why" question.
Hear are some clichés that I hear frequently (in the midst of disappointments):
"Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone."  That's not true.  Crying will draw a bigger crowd any day than laughter.  Can you say the name "Oprah"?
"Every day and every way the world is getting better and better."  Okay, have you watched the nightly news lately?
"There is a light at the end of every tunnel."  Wow.  There is probably darkness back there at the end of that tunnel.  And the light you see is probably the light of an onrushing train.
And finally there is this:  Things are never as bad as they seem."  Dream on!  Things are often worse than they seem!
Are you now encouraged?  :)
How do you keep going when you want to quit?
Have the right perspective.  Know who you are in God.
Only God, who is sovereign and living, can be trusted.  We must learn to be willing to trust him even when we cannot penetrate the darkness around us or the hurt within us.
Every day you trust in things you can't see.  You wake up in the morning, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and put your feet on the floor.
Scientists tell us that's not a floor - it is a whirling mass of atoms.  And this whirling mass of atoms is flying around the world, and the world is spinning. 
Now then, if you thought of it that way  - you would jump right back into bed.  Right?  But what do you in actuality do?  You get up, put your feet on the floor trusting that it will stand - and you do that every day. 
The Psalmist writes in Psalms 73:28, "But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."
The secret of life is not what you have but whose you are.  And that determines what you will become.
It is not in what you possess materially but in what you have inwardly.
Your strength, my strength, is not found in my anger or disappointment in the inequities of life - life breaking its promises to us - but in our nearness to God who is stronger than your pain and a light for any darkness.
You may be angry today, bewildered - and you can't figure out the "why"?  What do we do?  We trust in God.
We draw near to God and He will draw near to you - and we keep on keeping on.
Don't quit.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


At best, I am a recovering worrier.
I can worry with the best of them.
What is worry?  It is assuming responsibility that God never intended for me to have.
It is trying to control the uncontrollable.
We all worry about something - and at its core - it is essentially a control issue. 
Worry is trying to control the uncontrollable.
We can't control our health so we worry about our health.  We can't control our jobs, so we worry about our jobs.  We can't control our economy, so we worry about the economy.  We can't control our children, so we worry about our children.  We can't control the future, so we worry about the future. 
Worry says, "if it is to be, it is up to me."
I would suggest that all worry does it make you and I miserable.
This coming Sunday morning - I am going to share a teaching entitled, "How to break free from the prison of fear." 
We will be learning and studying principles of dealing with fear and worry.
One of them is this:  Live one day at a time. 
Today is all you have.
Today is all you need.
Today is all you can handle. 
Some people put more faith in their fears than the do in God.  "Well, if I can just be fearful enough - it might go away."
No, my friends, let's put our faith in God.
As someone once said, "Every evening I turn my worries over to God - He's going to be up all night anyway."
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I have been thinking a lot about miracles.
We as Christians believe in miracles - and we expect God to do the miraculous.
Everyone wants a miracle.  Everyone needs a miracle from time to time.
We as a church are beginning to dialogue concerning the building of a new sanctuary.  In order to do so - we need to take a huge chunk out of our current mortgage.  In short, we need a miracle!
Here is what I know about miracles:  Miracles are not accidents.
There are no coincidences in the economy of God.
Miracles happen to people who need them, want them and even more importantly - reach for them.
I would suggest that you are never as far from a miracle as it first appears.
To see a miracle, ask yourself first:  What do I need?  Many people don't like where they are, but don't know where they want to be.  Find out first of all - where do I need to be?  What miracle do I need in my life?
Stand on the promises of God.  Search the Word for scriptures that will confirm the miracle that God wants for you in your life.
Ask for the miracle
Don't let the doubters "get you down."  Don't let the critics push you into lowering your sights and accept things, "the way they are."  Dare to dream.  It is hard to fly with the eagles when you are hanging around Turkeys.
Speak creatively.  Stop discussing your fears, doubts and unbelief "only".  Begin to think and speak in a way that opens up the window for God to move in and fill  you with faith. 
Visualize yourself with the miracle already taking place.  Begin to thank God for the miracle as if it has already taken place.
Be persistent.  Don't give up in praying for that miracle.
When God does do a miracle in your life - let us know - we would love to hear your story!
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
The highlight of my weekend?
Throwing a donut across the sanctuary and just "nailing" Kyle McNamara - and he caught it!
I guess I still "got it"!  :) :)
There was such a great spirit of community in our services yesterday.  I know that you are like me in expressing the fact that I love my church family!
Remember:  Spiritual transformation is always from the inside out - it is always an "inside job".
Walking in righteousness is always the result of what God is doing in my mind; my spirit; my soul.
My encouragement to you today is to spend at least as much time on the "inner you" as the "outer you."
I really appreciate the faithfulness of all of our volunteers - Sunday after Sunday.  From the "coffee and connection" group to the greeters, to the ushers, to the worship team, etc - we are thankful for your time and help!
Love God.  Love people. 
Come on Sunday morning.  Serve in a ministry.  Attend a life group.
Please note:  Water Baptism.  May 10, 2015.  Second service.  If you know of someone who would like to be baptized in water - please encourage them to contact the church office at:  (708)  3852770.
The White Sox have started out with a 4-7 record.  Ugh.
It is always so green in April - love it.
Could I ask you to consider doing something?  Please consider bringing someone new to one of our services this coming Sunday.  I am going to speak on the subject of:  "How to break out of the prison of fear." 
Another thought from yesterday.  Be intentional about what you feed your "inner you."   Garbage in - Garbage out.
Love you all.......

Thursday, April 16, 2015


One of the practices we talk quite a bit about at Stone Church is accountability.
Accountability is so important in our walk with Christ.
Let me give you a definition of accountability:
To be regularly answerable for each of the key areas of our lives to qualified people.
The Bible says in Proverbs 27:6, "The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend."
Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." 
I was reading today of an iceberg - which is one of nature's most beautiful and dangerous phenomenons. 
When you look at an iceberg, what you see of these masses of broken off glaciers is beautiful - like the "best foot" each of us puts forward with our friends.
But only one eighth to one tenth of an iceberg is visible - the rest is hidden below the surface of the water.
The visible you is where you and I talk on a cliché level.  We talk about the news, sports and the weather - the latest sales at such and such a store.
The "real you"  is below the surface.  That consists of the unexamined life, our secret thought life, the purposes, priorities and goals of our lives, our ambitions, motives, relationships, the use of our time and money, our moral and ethical behavior, the emotions of pride, fear, anger, problems, suffering and discouragement.
Like an iceberg, the beautiful part of our lives is that tenth or so which people can see.  What's below the surface, however, is where we live our real lives - lives often hidden from the scrutiny of other Christians.
The jagged subsurface edges of our secret lives often rip open our relationships and damage our spiritual lives.  What is unseen - can sink you!
That's why we need a format and setting to talk and share about the "subsurface you".
We all need somebody who loves us but is not impressed by us.  Somebody to whom we can be accountable.  Somebody who's willing to keep you honest, who is willing to say, "Hey, you are neglecting your spouse, and don't give me any guff!"
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Job contentment

Let me start out with a really, really negative statement:
It is rare that you find someone who feels contentment with their job.
I can only speak for we guys - most men (to explain us to you ladies) who do like their jobs usually like the thrill of the deal or the satisfaction of beginning and completing a project. 
God created us to enjoy the thrill - to feel His pleasure in our work.
The challenge to that is this:  the "thrill of the deal" is not the entire purpose for work.  Going from one deal fix to the next in search of contentment.
What can make a difference?  Work for God, not for man.
Working with God in mind always gives purpose and meaning to what we do.
What is the secret of job contentment?
The secret of job contentment is not getting what you want, but redefining what you need. 
What we want is sometimes not what we need.
And what we need is sometimes not what we want.
So, I would encourage you to think about these questions (to both men and women) in your work.
Am I working to glorify God or myself?  Ambition is not wrong - but am I ambitious to please God or to please myself?
Am I walking in God's will in my work?  Is this what God wants me to do?  When I am walking in God's will, no matter what circumstances come my way - I am at peace.
Am I working to please my boss, or am I working to please God?  Remember:  At the end of the day, it is the Lord you are serving.  Obviously, we are to be faithful to our work and serve our boss because he or she holds God's proxy as our employer.  But God still owns the company, he owns everything. 
So, redefine what you need - not what you want:
Are you glorifying God?
Are you walking in His will?
Are you working to ultimately please God?
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Avoiding regrets in raising children

There is not a parent alive that doesn't have regrets in the way they raised their children.
No parent is perfect.
Each time I hear the song, "The Cat's In The Cradle" I am saddened. 
I could have done better (I am just thankful that our kids are doing well).
Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
I thought I might give you some tips (principles) on how to raise your children without having regrets.
Let them be kids.  Dr. Dobson says that our role is to help them through childhood.  Kids need the freedom to be kids.
Protect them from the world - but do not insulate them. 
To totally isolate your child from the world is lazy parenting.  We as parents are to take hold of the reins of spiritual leadership in the home - and guide them into spiritual, godly values.
However, how do we learn how to make good choices?  By making bad choices.  I would encourage you to give children the ability to make choices as early as possible - while you are there to "pick up the pieces" and encourage them and teach them and share with them a better way.
At the same time, put parameters around what your children watch, see, experience and feel.  I don't think that I need to persuade you that four to seven hours a day of television versus thirty seven seconds of conversation with Dad is a no-brainer.
Encourage, don't embitter.
Dads, especially are to get a handle on this.  Angry fathers are everywhere.  Dads, however your day went, when you come home, don't take your day out (passive aggressively) on your children.  Look at them as fragile tea cups.  In need of your protective care.
How do you spell love?  T.I.M.E.  As Lee Iacocca once said, "No one on their deathbed says, 'I wish I had spent more time with my business.'"  Quality time and Quantity time are needed.
Pray, pray, pray.  Pray that your children will draw closer to Christ.  You can make no greater contribution to the well-being of your children than to intercede for them in daily prayer.  Pray that God will give you wisdom as a parent.
Just some thoughts for a Tuesday.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How Jesus made decisions

Have you ever wondered how Jesus made decisions?
Let me give you a few thoughts on that.
In Matthew 4, Matthew describes how Jesus was tempted by the devil (an actual temptation from the devil himself).
It's interesting that the first temptation Satan threw at Jesus dealt with food.  If you remember - that's the temptation Adam and Eve experienced (the whole apple thing).  Satan probably thought:  It worked the first time - why not try it again?  Satan said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."  Matthew 4:3
How did Jesus respond?  "It is written:  "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes form the mouth of God."  Matthew 4:4
How did Jesus make a good decision?  He lived by the Word of God.
Every decision we make must first of all be bounced off of the Scriptures.  What does God's Word have to say about it?
Then Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the roof of the temple.  That was a temptation to test God.  Would God save Him or not?
How did Jesus respond?  "It is also written:  "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."  Matthew 4:7
The principle of right decision making here is to never put God in a position in which He "has" to save you from your own foolish decisions.
There is a huge difference between faith and presumption.
Don't place yourself in a position that requires a miracle - unless you know that you know that - that is where God wants you to be!
I can't throw myself off a roof and expect God to save me - the laws of gravity come into play.
Lastly, Satan tempted Jesus with whom to worship.  Was he going to worship God or was he going to worship Satan. 
Whom are you serving this day?  Money?  Position?  Power?  I always say that in anything in life - job transfer, etc.....the first point in making a decision is this:  Is God in this?  Will God be glorified?  Will it help me serve God in a better and more fulfilling way?
Again, Jesus did not disappoint.  He said this:  "Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only."  Matthew 4:10
When  you are making a decision, always worship God and serve Him only - and everything else will fall into place.
So, in summary:
Make decisions according to the Word of God
Avoid foolish decisions that test God
Avoid decisions that reduce your worship and service to God. 
Just a thought for a Monday.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

It is finished

Have you ever left anything unfinished?
I have.
A half read book.  An abandoned diet.  Phone calls never returned. 
But it can be more serious than that:  The abandoned child.  The wrecked marriage.  The bills never paid.  The promises never kept.
There is one person in history who did not leave any unfished business.  His name is Jesus. 
Jesus could say with accuracy, "I have finished everything I set out to do."
As Jesus passed from this life to the next, he cried out (actually the Greek implies he roared out), "It is finished!"
Jesus is implying, "I did exactly what I set out to do!"
The verb is in the perfect tense in the Greek which simply speaks of an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present. 
In other words, Jesus is saying, "What I did still has a present effect on your life today  - in 2015!"
"It is finished in the past, it is still finished in the present and it will remain finished in the future."
So - "It is finished" is not a cry of "giving up out of exhaustion," but it is a cry of victory!
It is finished!  It is paid in full!
"Paid in full" means that once a thing is paid for,  you never have to pay for it again.
That also is a powerful truth from this one word.
As you come to God and confess anger, it is finished - it is paid in full.  You are forgiven.
As you come to God and confess gossip, it is finished - it is paid in full.  You are forgiven.
As you come to God and confess lying, it is finished - it is paid in full.  You are forgiven.
As you come to God and confess pride, it is finished - it is paid in full.  You are forgiven. 
The work of salvation is now complete
Since it is finished, all that you have to do, all that I have to do (after confession) is to accept the forgiveness that God freely gives us.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Just a thought for parents

I read today that it takes 15 years for an olive plant to become an olive tree. 
In the Garden of Gethsemane over in Israel, there are two-thousand-year-old olive trees that still produce olives.
Their roots run deep.
The Mount of Olives is a mountain covered with olive trees that have lived for centuries.  When those trees were saplings, they were nurtured so that they have remained productive.
That really is a primary goal for parenting.  Raising up and nurturing you child so that when they are "grown" and "leave the house" they are productive godly men and women.
Some suggestions for this:
1.  The ultimate goal of parenting is not to please your child but to do what is best for them.  If a parent pleases the child all of the time, the child is the parent.
Proverbs 13:24, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." 
I might receive (as a parent) some momentary relief by "just letting little Johnny have his way," - but those short moments of emotional pause can build up - and soon little Johnny is a little demon.  :) :)
Mom and dads, it is becoming a cultural norm to place our children in the position of being an idol.  Only God is to be worshipped.
2.  The job (and it is work) of a parent is to be the filter on their homes.  Water filters keep impurities from getting into what you drink.  Parents are the filters for their homes so junk from the world is not inculcated in the life of their children.
3.  All of this is wrapped around one word:  Relationship.  Here's the principle:  Rules without relationship will always lead to rebellion. 
Being the parent (when it comes to discipline) and setting filters on the "input from the world" they receive, will always be more palatable, better received and understood by a child who understands that their parents love them unconditionally. 
And that comes through having a strong relationship. 
Your kids don't care what you know - or ultimately what you insist on - as long as they know that you care.  And love.  And are concerned.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.