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Thursday, July 30, 2015

A good positive day - Part III

I thought I might just finish out the week with some more thoughts on "having a good positive day."
One of the aspects of life that we all deal with are negative emotions.
Here's what I know:  The way we think affects the way we feel and the way we feel affects the way we act.
So how do you change the way you act and the way you feel?
By the way you process the negative emotions in your life.
And here's is what I would suggest:  When negative emotions come your way - starve them to death.
There is an old story that I have told in different ways:  Here is the latest version.
It is a classic fable that begins with a grandfather telling his grandson about the two wolves battling inside his heart.
"One is wise and kind, and the other is vicious and cruel," says the grandfather.
"Which one will win?"  asks the grandson.  And the grandfather replies, "The one I feed."
Thinking positive thoughts is a key to success.
Tommy Newberry writes, "If it comes down to choosing between reaching  your full potential or experiencing the negative emotion you believe you deserve, what's it going to be?
Negative thoughts will always lead to you having and experiencing more of what you don't want. 
Again, to quote Newberry, "to live a life of maximum joy, you must learn how to minimize negative emotions so they will not dominate your life."
How do you do that? 
I would suggest the following: 
Acknowledge them.  Put them in their place.  Take responsibility for those negative thoughts and whether you are going to allow them to continue.  Starve negative emotions by always looking at the big picture (Remind yourself of what is truly important).  Drop the thought.  Spend time with God.  ("In quietness and confidence shall be your strength - Isaiah 30:15)  Practice compassion (When you practice compassion, you detach yourself from the situation and don't over-personalize it).  Ask God for help.
You can demolish, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:4, "arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
And remember (to quote Newberry one more time):  Emotions don't reveal the quality of your life; they reveal the quality of your thinking at any particular moment. 
Change your focus and it will change your life!
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A good positive day - part II

My desire that you have a good positive day - has turned into a desire that you have a good positive week!
One of the ways to do that is to guard your heart - develop personal habits to protect your heart.  The writes to the Proverbs shares:  "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."  (Proverbs 4:23)
And - the personal "firewall" to your heart is joy!
Here's what I know:  We often allow negative ideas and other's opinions to corrupt our potential for joy, sometimes even infecting the people we love the most in the process(quote:  Tommy Newberry).
Gang, it doesn't have to be that way.  You can build up your own personal firewall and protect your heart from the negativity of the world.
Here are some suggestions:
Keep feeding your mind and thought life positive thoughts (Philippians 4:8).
Start the day with joy.  I am learning that the first thing I do in the  morning will set the emotional tone for the entire rest of the day.
Are you waking up with an expectation that good things will happen throughout the day?
I would encourage you to spend the first 15 minutes of your day meditating on God.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and then all these things will be added to you."
Of course, you can go beyond 15 minutes!
Prepare you heart for joy.
Lastly, seal the day with joy (15 minutes before you go to bed).  Before you go to sleep, read something inspirational.  Read the Word.  Have a conversation with God.  Surrender your subconscious to God.  Ask God to cleanse your mind of any self-defeating thoughts that the day has brought.
Be intentional in the morning, throughout the day and in the evening as to what you input into your mental computer.
Hour by hour, moment by moment - ask God to fill  your mind with everything good. 
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Good Positive Day

Whenever I get  my haircut, my barber always tells me (as I walk out the door), "You go have a good positive day."
I like that.
My desire for you is that you have a good positive day.
Here's what I know:  A good positive day is rooted and grounded in not only having a good positive self-image but having a right understanding of your self-worth.
Please meditate on this thought:  Your self-worth is authentic self-esteem rooted in  your uniqueness as a child of God.   (Quote from Tommy Newberry).
We must continually remind ourselves that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."  (Psalms 139:14).
God has a plan and God has a purpose for your life.  That's God's Word - and you and I are to trust God's word more than the words of others to understand our true worth as a person.
David writes in Psalms 8:4,5:  "What is  man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor."
Your self-worth, my self-worth is based upon our identity as a person who was created and is loved by God, unconditionally.
And as you realize who you really are in Christ (not based on your performance or on what others say about you) that positions you for success.
I encourage you to pray the prayer below and mediate on what it truly means to be a loved, accepted child of God today.
Here's the prayer:  "Father, I praise you that you made me as "one of a kind."  There is nobody else in the world who is exactly like me.  Let me be, this day, the masterpiece you created me to be.  Thank you for making me in your likeness.  Allow me, this day, to see myself as you see me, to see that I am significant, to see that you do have your hand on me.  Keep my focus on you and on what you have in store for me.  Protect me from obsessing about my failures and help me to remember my victories!  I am a child of yours.  I love you, Lord.  Amen."
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
First of all, let me say how much I am grateful for the faithfulness of all of our volunteers who minister so diligently on Sunday mornings.
From the worship team to the ushers, to the sound booth guys, to the greeters to the coffee connection helpers to the children's ministries staff, we are thankful for you!
Ministry, in the long run, is a matter of perseverance and prayer. 
Remember:  Seek this week to approve an audience of one:  God.  And everything else will fall into place.
We desire judgment when we have been offended - we desire mercy when we offend others. 
Mercy always triumphs over judgment.
The White Sox have won four in a row - too little; too late.
I hear rumblings of the NFL starting again - can't wait!
Just a "mid-summer" exhortation:  We encourage you to be faithful in attendance and in prayer!  If you are on vacation - seek out a "place of worship" wherever you are.
Can I ask you to do something with me?  Let's all begin to pray for the exciting things (events) that will be taking place in our church - beginning the middle of August - but most assuredly in September!
You are needed at Stone Church.
You are loved at Stone Church.
While your spouse or your friends can meet some of your needs - only God can ultimately meet all of your needs (according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus).  Philippians 4:19.
Be kind this week on Facebook.
I really appreciated Amy Beckberger yesterday and her leading of "You Deserve It All."  Well done, Amy - God's spirit was present!
Encourage someone today - I have never met anyone who wasn't uplifted by a positive word.
Love you all......

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Path to success - let it go.

One of the paths to success is the willingness, yes the choice, to let go of the past.
Here's what I know:  Getting stuck in the past will limit your opportunity for success in the present and the future.
Have you ever been around someone - where all they talk about are their perceived wounds and hurts that previously took place in their lives?
While there is a window of the grieving process that needs to take place when you or I are hurt - there comes a point where we need to "let it go" and move on.
No one likes to be around anyone who lives in the past - in fact, if you find that people are choosing to avoid you like the plaque - that just might be the reason why.
As the main song in the movie Frozen states, "Let it go, let it go."
That's my word to you today:  Let it go.  Let it go and let God be God.
Here's what happens when you and I live in past hurts:
We limit what God can do in our lives in the present.  God will not work on our behalf.
We ruin present relationships.
We forget that life is not fair.
We can begin to play the "victim card"  and think that we are the only one who has ever been hurt.
We don't understand that many times we are not being mistreated at all - but it is simply a reflex response to past hurts. 
Here's what I know:  Hurting people hurt easily.  Hurting people hurt easily because of feelings of insecurity in their lives.
Some people guard the wounds from the past like an old friend.  It comforts them - gives them something to talk about over dinner.  They begin to rely upon that "old friend" like a crutch. 
Paul writes in Philippians 4:13, "One thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me."
Now then, let me give you five steps to victory in this area:
One, forgive those who have hurt you.  This is a one-time act; but yet it is a process as well.  Every time those feelings of anger and unforgiveness rise up - forgive them again and again and again.
Two, pray for them as God has told us to do.  I mean really pray for them.  I would suggest that you will never ultimately resent those whom you pray for.
Three, bless those who have hurt you.  Do something nice for them anonymously.  Treat them with kindness when they cross your path.
Four, speak well of them.  Refuse to talk unkindly about those who hurt you.  Don't keep talking about what your enemies did that hurt you.  That will only stir up the pain within  you.  (Friends, this is huge.  Probably the most important one of the five).
Five, wait on God.  Galatians 6:9 shares with us, "And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  Don't give up.  Keep doing what is right (the five above steps) and wait on God to change your feelings.
Let it go...let it go...let it go...let it go.....
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"The Bible says"

Over the years I have changed my speaking style at least 4 times.

I have preached with one point.

I have preached with many points.

I have preached using videos.

I have preached using drama.

I have preached sitting down.

I have preached standing up.
I have preached with a pulpit.
I have preached with no pulpit.

Anything to reach people for Christ.

At the same time, I have settled on and gone back to what I know best:  preaching through the Bible verse by verse - with practical application.

I love the Word of God.  I believe that ultimately, all of the answers that we need are in the Bible.  All of the assurances that we need are in the Word of God.
It has been said, "In using phrases like 'The Bible says' we assume a person is a Christian, because only a Christian takes the Old Testament and the New Testament as authoritative.  So if I am going to preach to people who aren't Christians I have to leverage a different point of authority if I am going to expect them to track along with me."  Basically, what this says, is that we should avoid using the phrase, "the Bible says."
Let's talk about that.
When I say, "The Bible says," (which I do all the time when I teach) I am declaring that I am not speaking on my own authority but rather on God's authority as an "ambassador of Christ"  (2 Corinthians 5:20). 
What some say is a barrier to reaching people for Christ - I believe is just the opposite - it is the source of evangelistic power.

I believe the power of God is released as God's Word is spoken - that there is a spiritual dynamic that takes place (in the supernatural) as the Scriptures are shared.

Lives are changed, not even necessarily by the style of the preacher, or the way it was shared, but simply by the Word of God (and it is God's Word to us) as it is shared.

To exaggerate just a little:  It would be a great experience to just read a book of the Bible on Sunday morning (or several chapters) - give an "altar call" and go home.  I believe we would be amazed at the results.
We need to realize once again that when Scriptures are spoken it is as if they were God:  Galatians 3:8; Genesis 12:3; Romans 9:17; Exodus 9:16.
And that when God is spoken of it is as if He were the Scriptures:  Matthew 19:4,5; Genesis 2:24; Acts 4:24,25; Psalms 2:1; Acts 13:34,35; Isaiah 55:3; Psalms 16:10.

Paul declares in 2 Timothy 3:16, 4:2, that "All Scripture is breathed out by God" and then Paul subsequently commands shepherds of Christ to "preach the Word."
The implication is that preachers should unapologetically declare the divine origin and authority of the entirety of the Bible. 
The divine origin of Christ-centered biblical revelation is the reason it has the power to "make you wise for salvation."  (2 Timothy 3:15)
I am for using videos.  I am for using drama teams to accentuate the principles of God's Word.

But as Jeff Foxworthy once said (as only he can), "If  your preacher needs smoke bombs, rock bands, theater lights, dramatic skits, and circus acts to keep people interested - then you might need a new preacher."
Gang, let's be people of God's Word.  Let's be "counter-cultural" and know that the Word of God is an absolute - in an age where there are no absolutes.  Let reaffirm that the Word of God is powerful - and in itself - can change lives.
"The Bible says...."
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


We live a day an age where everyone has a voice.
With social media, people feel the freedom to express their thoughts, opinions and feelings.
I would suggest to you that to a certain extent - it has gotten out of control.
Some things are best left unsaid.  Unspoken.
It is like our culture has taken a truth serum (Remember "Liar, Liar" with Jim Carrey) and can't hold their tongue about anything.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Before you speak - before you put something on Twitter, Facebook, Think.
The Bible says in Proverbs 21:23, "If you want to stay out of trouble be careful what you say."
Some people think nothing of sharing their opinions and feelings about anything with everyone.
That will get you in trouble every time.
People say, "Well that is just the way I feel."
And you want to say, "Well, why don't you go somewhere else and feel that way."
Gang, let's think today before we speak.
Ask yourself:
T - Is it true?
H - Is it helpful?
I - Is it inspiring?
N - Is it necessary (some things are not necessarily wrong - some things just aren't necessary)
K - is it kind?
Challenging words for a Tuesday.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
Summer is wonderful.
I encourage you to not complain about the heat - just remember the cold of winter!
I am thankful for a great staff who ministered while I was away!
Good to get away - good to get home.
Debbie and I visited a church while on vacation - there is nothing like our own church family, Stone Church!
I love our church!
As a pastoral staff - we are already engaged and praying about the fall - we are excited!
We will be celebrating communion this coming Sunday morning.  I encourage you to come with a heart prepared to receive from the Lord.
One of my favorite authors is Craig Groeschel.  He has written an excellent, challenging book entitled, "Soul Detox."
One of chapters is entitled, "Deception Infection."  (Telling ourselves the truth).
Debbie and I were talking about this last evening - people can rationalize anything.  I mean anything. 
Hannah Moore has written, "The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible."
We all are dealing with one area of deception in our lives - something we refuse to accept or acknowledge.
And...usually it is because we don't want to know.
Why do we do that?  David writes in Psalms 36:2,3:  In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin."
David says, "people flatter themselves too much."
They lie to themselves and they don't even know it.
So, today, ask God to reveal the spiritual toxin in your life of self-deception.  Ask him to reveal to you that "something" which you either intentionally or unintentionally refuse to deal with, and then let God work in your life.
Stop lying to yourself, swallowing the poisonous self-deceptions that keep you from walking in complete spiritual health.  Admit the truth.  Come clean - and the truth will what?  Set you free.
Love you all.....

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The key is worship

This Sunday morning, I am giving a teaching entitled, "The Key Is Worship."
The basic premise is this:  There is power in praise, especially as I walk through trials and adversity.
I can worship - or I can worry.
I can worship - or I can wail (and there is nothing wrong with wailing or crying in the midst of suffering - it is just that worship is the better way).
I can look to the problem - or I can look to the presence of Jesus.
In his book, "If God Is Good - Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil," author Randy Alcorn recalls when his friend, writer Ethel Herr, had a double mastectomy. 
Two months later doctors discovered the cancer had spread.  One of Herr's friends, shocked and fumbling for her words, asked her, "And how do you feel about God now?" 
Reflecting on the moment the question was posed to her, Herr says:
"As I sought to explain what has happened in my spirit, it all became clearer to me.  God has been preparing me for this moment.  He has undergirded me in ways I've never known before.  He has made himself increasingly real and precious to me.  He has given to me joy such as I've never known before - and I've no need to work at it, it just comes, even amidst the tears.
He has taught me that no matter how good my genes are or how well I take care of my diet and myself, he will lead me on whatever journey he chooses and will never leave me for a moment of that journey.  And he planned it all in such a way that step by step, he prepared me for the moment when the doctor dropped the last shoe - God is good, no matter what the diagnosis or the prognosis, or the fearfulness of the uncertainty of having neither.  The key is knowing God is good is simply knowing him."
The key to worshipping in times of trial and suffering is knowing God. 
Here is what I know:  Worshipping God during times of trial and suffering begins with thanking him for all the little things.  And as I daily, incrementally worship God with a thankful heart, it builds up an lifestyle of worship - to where when the "big" things come - my heart and soul are full of praise.
Did you know that you take approximately 23,000 breaths every day?
The process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is a complicated respiratory task that requires physiological precision.  We tend to thank God for the things that take our breath away.  And that's great!
But maybe we should thank him for every other breath too!
And that is the starting point of creating a lifestyle of praise.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Have you seen Jesus?

There is a lot of stuff going on in the world - I know you will agree with me on that.
Some are throwing opinions around on the social media like a park filled with people throwing Frisbees - just wanting it to land somewhere.
In the midst of it all - I have purposed in my heart to keep my eyes on Jesus.
I am asking God to renew and restore my passion for Him.
Let me tell you this story that kind of summarizes where I am at right now (I encourage you to take the time to read it):
An old man tells the story of how one day he was sitting quietly in the sun with his dog.
Suddenly, a large white rabbit ran across the yard - right in front of he and the dog - and his dog jumped up and took off after that big rabbit.
The dog chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.
Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking.
It was an incredible sight - the pack of dogs running, barking across the creeks, up the stony embankments, through thickets and through the thorns!
Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course, and frustrated by the chase.
The old man said, "Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit."
You might say today - great story - but what's the connection between what is going on in today's world and a passion for Jesus?
Well, the old man went on and said, "the reason the other dogs did not continue the chase - except for his dog - was that the other dogs had not seen the rabbit."
Unless we continue to keep our eyes on the prize (on Jesus) the chase is just too difficult.
My dear friends, today, are you keeping your eyes on Jesus - is He the passion of your soul?
Are you lukewarm today?
Are you becoming distracted by "all that is going on in the world?"
Are you going through the motions?
In the midst of everything going on - let's keep our eyes on Jesus - otherwise is just a lot of noise and barking.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.