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Monday, August 31, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
College football starts this coming Saturday!  Yeah!
What a powerful sense of God's presence around the altars yesterday - in both services.
Praise leads to worship which leads to an experience of God's glory.
Praise - Thanking God for what He has done.
Worship - Interacting with God and be grateful for who He is.
Glory - With the glory of God, we experience His holiness.  His majesty.  The awesomeness of His purity.
Thanks to our worship team for ministering to our church family.
Many, many thanks to those who participated this past Saturday in our "door to door" outreach for City Fest.  2500 door hangers were handed out!  We appreciate your time and help!
Lots of visitors yesterday.  My prayer and desire is that they keep checking us out.  If you visited this yesterday - and are reading this:  Please know that you are welcome to come back!  We would love to see you visit us again!
City Fest is coming up quickly.  We prayerfully encourage you to not only plan on coming - but participating in the event.
I believe, by faith, that many are going to come to Christ that weekend!
As I shared yesterday, we would ask that you pray and act on bringing a non-churched friend or family member to one of the Sunday morning services on Sunday, September 13, 2015.  A salvation message will be given.
Throughout the "ups and downs" of life - our constant is the presence of Jesus Christ.
Life can be overwhelming - I am thankful that God is never overwhelmed.  God never throws up his hands and says, "What am I going to do next"?
Are you excited about the fall and what God is going to do?  I am!
Love you all......

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Marrying the wrong person

I would surmise that there might be someone(s) - reading this - who feel like that did not marry the right person.

It was "false advertising" when they first met.

What attracted you to them is now causing you to attack them in a way that borders on the absurd.

You know that the Bible hates divorce and that God wants you to stay married - but what do  you do when it simply is not working?

Well, I obviously don't have all the answers - but let me offer you some suggestions:

Take responsibility for your own actions. 

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:5, "Each person must be responsible for himself."

That means I must take responsibility for my marriage and not blame other people - that I am committing myself to be a part of the solution and not continue to be a part of the problem.

Some blaming your spouse for your "bad" marriage.  You can not "fix" the marriage if you are always projecting blame.
Stop giving the majority of your prayer energy in praying for God to change your spouse - and start asking God to change you!
I can't be responsible for what my spouse thinks, says and does - but I can be responsible for myself - that I will continue to act and think and speak in a godly way.
Do enlist the help of the Holy Spirit!

With the help of the Holy Spirit - know that your marriage can change.

God hasn't given up on your marriage - why should you?

Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, "Humanly speaking it is impossible - but nothing is impossible with God."

Did you know that the word "impossible" is not in God's vocabulary?

By faith, believe that your marriage can become better - even in a marriage - or I should say especially in a marriage where you think you married the wrong person.

We vastly underestimate what the Holy Spirit can do.

If God can raise Jesus from the dead - He can raise up a dead marriage relationship and restore, yes I said, restore your marriage to where "it used to be."

He can renew your love for one another.

Know that commitment is a choice.

I choose to be committed.

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:9, "Don't get tired of doing what is good and don't get discouraged and give up."

Good marriages (especially the ones where you think you married badly) take a lot of effort.  Roll up your sleeves and work at it type thing.

Remember:  You act your way into a feeling.  You don't feel your way into an action.  If you start acting nice to your spouse, you are going to start feeling nice.

If you act loving toward your spouse, you will start feeling love again toward him or her.

Forgive, forgive, forgive.

Did I say to forgive?

Ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness.  Admit your faults.  Walk in grace.  Let it go.

So what do you do if you think your married the wrong person?  Or married for the wrong reason?

Get a divorce?  God says, "No".

God says to you today, "stay with the one you've married and I will change you and if possible, I will change that person if they will let me and I will make your marriage a miracle!"
Do you believe in miracles?  I do!
And let me leave you with this (and I can write so  much more):  God can always bring plan A results out of our plan B decision (or our plan C,D,E and F decisions).

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Persisting when you don't feel like it

Here's the Word of the Lord for you today:
Persist - especially when you don't feel like it.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Oh, I am not talking about life itself - but perhaps you have felt like giving up on a job, a marriage or your faith.
Don't give up!  Persist!
Hang in there!
Don't go by your feelings - but go by your faith in God!
There are three basic things that will typically discourage you and will tempt you to give up.
Problems will tempt you to give up.
Sickness.  Debt.  Fear of the future.  For Christians, a problem should never get us down, expect on your knees.  Problems should always be turned into prayer requests. 
Pressures will tempt you to give up.
You say, "this is too much responsibility"!  "I am going to throw in the towel"!  "I can't do this on my own"!  "I can't handle the pressure"!  "I want to give up"!
People will tempt you to give up. 
People (the source of our greatest joy) can be the source of our greatest discouragements.
They will disappoint you.  You will be misunderstood.  You will be criticized - ridiculed.  The fact is - negative attitudes are contagious.  You can assimilate people's negativity and own it as your own. 
Faith means you keep on going, refusing to give up - no matter how tired you get, knowing that as your trust in God and rely upon His strength that you are going to make it.
Let me leave you with this:
During a Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that our beloved Walter Payton, the Bears' running back, had accumulated over nine miles in career rushing yardage.  The other announcer remarked, "Yeah, and that's with someone knocking him down every 4.6 yards!"
Walter Payton, one of the most successful running backs ever, knew that everyone, even the best, gets knocked down.
The key to success is to get back up and run again - just as hard.
And remember:  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  (Philippians 4:13)
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Affair proofing your marriage

Our culture continues to freefall into a pit of immorality and ungodliness.
And as it does, the condition of our country is accelerating into a darkness of depravity that has not been seen since the last days of the Roman Empire.
Now, we are learning about "Ashley Madison" - which is a website online for marriage people who want to meet other married people in order to commit adultery.
Some surveys state that 45 to 50% of all Americans at one time or another will have an affair.
Nearly 70% of all married men under 40 expect to have an extramarital relationship.  Unbelievable.  70% of an entire age group EXPECT to be unfaithful to their spouses.
A few suggestions to remain faithful:
Make a commitment to God's standard
God's word tells us in Proverbs 5:15:  "Be faithful to your own wife and give your love to her alone."
Ladies and gents - share this commitment to your spouse verbally.  Let them know that you are committed to the standard that God gives us concerning marriage and sex.
Share with your friends and those at work as well. 
In doing so, you are sending out a powerful signal to everyone that you are off limits.
Understand and magnify the consequences of an affair. 
Proverbs 6:32 tells us that "the one who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul."
Nothing damages the emotions like sexual sin.  Nothing. 
Nothing will damage family relationships like sexual sin.
Realize the consequences. 
I would never want to have to go to one or all of my children and confess that "dad has done something wrong."  I want them to be proud of me.  I want Debbie to know that she has married a godly man that she can trust. 
I love my family too much to put them through that.
And - I love Jesus Christ.  While I know that God loves me unconditionally, I do not want to let down the one who gave His life for me - that I might live eternally.
I fear the judgment of God.  Hebrews 13:4 says, "God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery."
So, love your family.  Love God.  And have a healthy, rational fear of a holy, righteous God. 
Maintain your marriage.
1 Corinthians 7:3 tells us:  "A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a wife should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs."
Not their own needs - the other's needs. 
One author writes, "If any of a spouse's needs go unmet, that spouse becomes vulnerable to the temptation of an affair."
And meet your spouses needs in the way they want their needs met - not in the way you think they want their needs met.
Manage your thought life
Know that an affair always starts in  your mind - by accepting sinful thoughts in your thoughts.  James 1:14 tells us, "temptation is the pull of a person's own evil thoughts and wishes.  These evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to death."
That can lead to an emotional involvement, which can lead to a physical involvement which can lead to a rationalization of the affair. 
Minimize the opportunity.  Don't place yourself in a situation or position that can lead to involvement with another person.  Here is the downward sequence:  Familiarity.  Feelings.  Frequency (you want to be around them more and more) and failure. 
Now then, some practical ways to protect yourself from an affair:
Seldom travel alone.  Call your spouse every night.  Avoid being alone with someone of the opposite sex.  Talk positively about your spouse.  Don't talk about your marital problems with someone of the opposite sex.  the door open to affairs almost always is someone disgruntled and unhappy with their mate.  Be accountable to others.  Choose your friends wisely. 
Well, there is a lot more than I can offer you today:  But I encourage you to meditate and pray about what I have shared.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
It was good to be home and back with my church family.  You are loved and appreciated!
Life groups:  God's will for your life!  Sign up in the next couple of weeks!
You need the church - and the church needs you.
City Fest is coming up quickly:  I like what Pastor Charlie said yesterday:  We encourage you to come on Tuesday evenings and give some prayer energy to this important event on Saturday, September 12, 2015 from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.  Our Tuesday evening prayers meetings are 6:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. in the chapel.
More than at any other time in recent memory - God is calling us as a church community to pray.
We are to "pray without ceasing," as Paul writes in I Thessalonians 5:17...."for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  (verses 18)
In your life groups:  invite an non-churched friend!
Thanks to everyone who made our services happen yesterday in the midst of the sound "going out."
It all worked!
The excitement for the fall is building - it is going to be a wonderful next few months!
As I stated yesterday - I was privileged to go to Indonesia last week - and had a wonderful time of ministry in Jakarta.
If you would like to watch and listen to the sermon - go to  Scroll down to the right hand corner and click on "Subscribe" - which will simply take you to the sermon (How to pray for a miracle) on you tube.
Love you all.........

Monday, August 10, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend - "Just do it"

Thoughts from the weekend:
Debbie and I got to attend a Cubs game last Friday - it was a beautiful day at the ballpark.
The Cubs are on a roll!  Maybe this is the year - at any rate there was an overwhelming sense of excitement at Wrigley!
I really enjoyed worship yesterday - David and the team did a wonderful job in ministry.  God's Spirit was present in a powerful way!
Thanks to the entire worship team - thanks walking in the anointing of God!
Momentum is building for our first annual City Fest.  Please pray about being a part of this outreach that has two goals:  Connect people to Christ.  Connect our church family to the community.
Let's all pray that many will come to Christ!
I would like to echo one thought that I gave yesterday as a word of encouragement to everyone.
We saw yesterday that Paul enters Corinth (Acts 18) - a wicked, ungodly city of huge, evil proportions.  He is one man - with the burden and God given goal of reaching that city for God.
Even, or I should say especially (Acts 18:6) the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive the verse says (religious people).
Acts 18:9,10 tells us:  "One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision:  "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
What a wonderful word for all of us in times of difficulty.
God says to you, "Do not be afraid - keep on speaking, keep on going."
Every person in the Bible who was ever used by God to any degree was told over and over again.
Fear not.  Fear not.  Fear not.  Fear not.
If you are a normal human being (like all of us) you are thinking when you read or hear this, "I'll try, but I can't help it.  I don't want to feel afraid, but I can't help it."
Here's what I know:  When the Bible says, "Fear not", it doesn't mean, don't feel fear."
Any time you try to do something for God (like Paul - reaching Corinth) - any time you try to reach out and do something  you have never done before, any time you start trying to come out of a bondage you are in or have worked  yourself into, anytime you try to change your situation, fear will rush right up into your face and try to stop you.
And we think to ourselves:  "I shouldn't feel that way."
But feeling fear is not the problem; you are normal if you feel fear.
The mistake is in bowing your knee to the feeling of fear - instead of going ahead and doing what you are afraid of while you are afraid.
In other words: Just do it - afraid!
Faith is more than believing that God can do something.  Faith is taking action.
It is moving ahead in spite of your fears.  Faith is doing the thing you fear the most in spite of how you feel.  Faith does not always remove the fearful feelings, but it gives you the strength to move ahead in spite of those feelings.
Gang, don't let the devil (or abusive people around you) rob you of the destiny God has for you.  Step out and face your fears, face your pain and just do it!
Love you all.....

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Making a right choice

Did you know that the past only affects your present if you allow it to?
While that is an "easy statement to write," I understand it is very difficult to do so.
Letting the hurts from the past go is never easy.
At the end of the day, however, the only one who ultimately is hurt (in not letting go) is you - or me.
There is a constant longing from the Holy Spirit for us to live in the present - and prepare for the future.
Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
Gang, the old is gone, the new has come and is here!
I would suggest that every time those old feelings of hurt and woundedness come, you can rise above them by saying, "I am a new creature in Christ!  I no longer have to be bound by my feelings from the past!  I will not give into the feelings that ultimately come in from the enemy.  I will walk in the joy and love of Christ this day!  Greater is the Spirit of Christ in me than all of the attacks of the enemy!"
Can I tell you something?  You are worth something.  In Christ, you have value.  You have meaning.  You have purpose.   
I read today that in his memoir, Greg Bellow, the son of the famous 20th century American novelist Saul Bellow, writes movingly about his relationship with his father.
A reviewer for The New Yorker magazine called Greg's book less a memoir than a "speaking wound." Greg was eight years old when his father told him that he and Greg's mom were separating. The father and son were sitting on a bench in Central Park when the news was delivered.
Greg wrote:

"I responded by making a snowball and letting it fly at a nearby pigeon.  What I really wished for was the courage to hit my father with a snowball.  Under the childhood anger my father expected and hoped to see was sadness born of losing the parent who understood me the best.  At eight, I felt like a deep-sea diver cut off from my air supply."
The reviewer concluded his article on Greg Bellow's book by stating, "At sixty-nine, Greg Bellow is still the drowning deep-sea diver."
Are you going to allow yourself to live a life such as Greg Bellow has lived?  Or are you going to walk victoriously in Christ?
The choice is yours.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Showing respect

Paul writes in Titus 3:2, "Believers shouldn't curse anyone or be quarrelsome, but they should be gentle and show courtesy to everyone." 

And then Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:17, "Treat everyone you meet with dignity."

I would suggest that this would include both believers and non-believers - and the differences of opinion we have on the issues both inside and outside the church.

Did you know the Christians of both the first and second century were known for this?  And as a result - the world noticed and revival took place?

Let me explain.

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, which was written around the second century, was one of the first (if not the first) Christian apologetic writings - and was written to a philosopher by the name of Diognetus.
In describing the Christians of that time, he writes, "We shall share our table with all, but we shall not share our bed with all."
That is such a powerful statement, mainly because the meaning can be defined in different layers.
Here are two:
Layer number one:  Have convictions (beliefs) and hold to them - for in doing so the world will notice and God will move hearts.
You and I both know that much of our faith, beliefs and practices are in total opposition to the culture of the world we live in - and that was especially true in the first and second century.
The church then had radically different views of sex, work and death than other people that they lived with at that time.
For example, pagan were amazed at the Christians' attitude toward death.  While many Christians were being taken to their executions - they could be heard joyously singing hymns and expressing thanksgiving to God.
They were not afraid of death (You talk about a great testimony!)
And the differences were especially true in the attitudes of Christians toward sex and  money and the attitude of the world at that time.
Pagans would not share their money.  To them, money was sacred.
Sex on the other hand was experienced without restraint or any moral consistency.  They were very liberal in their approach toward sexuality toward one another.
The sexual practices of that day (as one author writes) would, "make even most Americans blush."
For Christians, however, they guarded and cared for their sexuality.  It was to be experienced only in the covenant relationship of marriage (and between a man and a woman).
But with money, Christians were giving feely all over the place.
Charity was given to the poor.  When disease and plagues broke out, it was the Christians who stayed and cared for the poor.
And Mathetes writes (concerning the early Christians):  "We shall share our table with all but we shall not share our bed with all," he is saying our values are different.  We are going to hold to what we believe in - and even though pagans may laugh at us about our attitudes toward sex, money and death - we will stand fast with our biblical values."
In the end, Christianity swept throughout the Roman empire with revival. 
That's why I encourage you to hold on to your values - for in the end - God will move.
Layer number two: 
In holding on to your beliefs, ideals and opinions, treat everyone who differs with you - with respect - no matter how serious the issue.
For while we might not share our bed with all (our values with all - our beliefs) - we can treat one another with dignity.  We can share a common table.
We can have interactions with one another.  We can have dialogue with one another.
We can be friendly with one another. 
We don't need to attack one another.
We can treat one another with dignity and respect.
I might not agree with pagan Phil (or even another Christian with different social values), but I can go out and have a hamburger and coke with him- and treat them with the kindness and respect that God calls for.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Fearful times

I understand that in God's Kingdom, we must be aware of the times - and be aware of "what might be coming."
At the same time, let me give you a Word from the Holy Spirit. 
God says to you today:  "Fear Not."
God has everything under control.
He really does.
Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, "God has not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
Fear has many  faces - sometimes it comes with a horrific, paralyzing shock.  But more often it appears in more subtle forms such as worry or excessive stress or an underlying sense of anxiety and dread (at what might happen - remember Y2K?).
Let me ask you this today, my friends:  Do you look into the future with hope and optimism?  Or is there a subtle dread of what may happen next?  Not just in the world as a whole - but in your own individual life - are you being robbed of God's joy in the present because of your fear of tomorrow?
Do your worries and anxieties drain your strength and steal your peace?
I would suggest that fear carries with it an unhealthy element of torment - and it makes life more stressful than it ought to be.
Please don't misunderstand me:  There is a healthy, rational kind of fear that causes us to jump out of the way of a speeding truck and stay alive.  There is a healthy, rational kind of fear that helps us prepare for what might happen.  We should not "stick our head in the sand," at the possibility of what might come.
But here is my word today:  Don't let those fears bind you and have a negative influence on the quality of your life and upon your effectiveness today.
As Christians, we know that whatever happens, God is in control (let me say it again) and that at the "end of the day," everything is in His hands and that there is no other place I would rather be but in His hands.
How can  you overcome your fears today?
Realize that God can give you the strength you need this day to overcome your fears.
David said in Psalms 34:4, "I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears."
Relax in God's unconditional love.
First John 4:17, 18 tells us (and this is so important):  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
God loves you and I unconditionally! 
He has promised to watch over us and take care of us!  Nothing is beyond his care.  NO situation is beyond His ability to reach out and give us peace.
Rethink the situation.  (This is huge).  Get the proper perspective.  The real foundation of tormenting fear is wrong thinking.  When we are thinking right, we are keeping our focus on God and not our situation.
The opposite of fear is faith.  Life is to be approached from a faith stance and not a fear stance.
Corrie Ten Boom used to say that faith us: 
F antastic
A dventure
I  n
T rusting
H im.
Gang, it is good to be aware of the times that we live in - but I encourage you to walk in the peace of God this day.
I encourage you to pray this prayer:  "Father, I ask that you would help me overcome my fears this day.  I fear (you fill in the blank _______________"  Help me to realize your power, relax in your love and rethink what is really happening.  In your name I pray, Amen."
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
Congratulations to Hannah Janel for graduating from high school!
We had a great time at her graduation party (Debbie and me) spending time with some of our church family!
I love our church family!
Enjoy the hot weather, gang, while we have it.  "Winter is coming."
Just about the time I was putting my hope in the White Sox once again - they lose three out of four.
Many, many thanks for all of the birthday wishes yesterday - I really appreciate it - I felt the love.
Love you all right back!
Thanks, Pastor Charlie for leading in the singing of "happy birthday."
It was a complete surprise!
"Lots of people" gone on vacation - I always look forward to seeing everyone back in their church home toward the end of August.
I encourage you to have a "good positive day today" - and make it a point to speak kindly to those that you meet.
The worship team did a really good job yesterday - thanks to a faithful, talented group!
Just a reminder:  Our Saturday, September 12th outreach is coming up quickly.  Please prayerfully consider joining our CityFest ministry team!
Prayer can move mountains.

Condolences and prayers to Carol Harmon, who's mom passed away and to Wendy Bettenhausen, who's dad passed away.  May God's strength and peace be with you!
You need the church - and the church needs you.
Throughout the ups and downs of life - our one constant is Jesus Christ!
Love you all......