Monday, December 28, 2009

Miracles Are Real

Our God is a miracle-working God. Miracles are not miracles to Him; they only appear that way to us because of the smallness of our faith. More to that point, many of us have never seen what we would call a miracle precisely due to the smallness of our faith.

Perhaps our quick response is to resolve to ask God for more faith. Before we go there, we must be reminded that God has already given us the prescription: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God!

Want to live in miracles? Dust off your Bible!

Faith is not a matter of us working up enough courage to believe or expect. No, Jesus is the “author and the finisher of our faith”.

Seek Jesus in His word and you will be surprise how faith flows to and through you.

Monday, December 21, 2009


When I look in a mirror I see the same person I have seen for many years now. When I look across the room at my lovely wife, I see the same wonderful women that I have seen many, many times. So what do I see when I look at God?

The image that I see of myself in the mirror is quite different, in many ways, from the image that I see across the room. Both are images; both are significantly different.

The image that I see when I look at God is first:

- one that looks exactly like Jesus. This is why our investing time with the scripture is so vital,

- one that looks like the collection of the redeemed. This is why scripture exhorts us to “not forsake the gathering together of the saints”, and

- one that looks completely different from any other image ever seen or known. This is why scripture calls us to “be still (or cease striving) and know that I am God”.

God is not far off. He is not hiding; He is not playing games with you! He’s just not like that. It was “that when we were sinners Jesus died” for us. If that isn’t love and intimate pursuit there never was such a thing.

So now, what is the image that you have of our God? We all tend to shrink His image to one that we can understand. I encourage you to grab hold of the avenues for obtaining a realistic presence.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thank you to those of you who have stepped up to the embarassment of admitting that you follow ths blog.

Possibly you, and everyone else, might consider inviting others to drop by for a test drive.

On another note, there is an incredible message the God is writing on my heart that I can hardly wait to share with you. Each Monday will be a new update but there will be one coming that I can hardly wait to share with you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Living in the Light

A few days ago, I took the opportunity to make a long drive home during the night. From 8PM until 4AM I drove across long stretches of highway. I discovered many things during this time alone with God.

The miles that I drove on that night were quite familiar to me; I have driven those same miles many times over the years. Because it is mostly through Wyoming, little ever changes.

So what could one discover from such a trip?

There is an interesting parallel between my trip and life in general. Throughout the night of driving familiar sights were consumed by the dark. Mile after mile slipped by with little notice. I was surprised over and over again by the progress I had made as I stopped for gas or to walk around and clear my head. The little things that previously had been reminders of the slow progress that I was making were invisible to me.

Life without Jesus is very similar. I suppose that having Jesus only on the periphery of one's life would be quite the same. Life slips by with little regard for the things out of sight. One awakens from this autonomous slumber from time to time in the dramatic realization of how fast life is slipping away.

Jesus identifies His true friends as those who are involved in others' lives. He doesn't necessitate our involvement, He knows that it is "losing our lives in others that we will truly find life". It is our choice!

No, it is not easy in already busy lives. It won't necessarily give us more time, more energy or more resources. As a matter of fact, like after driving all night, there is a cost. The immediate cost is so much less that the long-term cost of ignoring the invitation.

"A long-time friend of mine sent me some thoughts that might coordinate with the above message:

It is amazing to me how parallel are words can be not exact but similar. Last Wed. I was reading Daniel. Early in the book when he is still a young man he declines the king's food. He "overcame" being taken out of everything that gave him comfort - family, culture, surroundings. The familiar was gone, instead there was a promise of good food, comfort, leadership and influence after 3 years of training. He (actually there were 4) would not let go of God for earthly reward.

Their faith was rewarded. Daniel never doubted God is in control. Daniel definitely placed his trust outside of what he saw and what he knew had been taken from him. " Dennis Lewis

Monday, December 7, 2009

Positioned For True Life

What keeps you from celebrating your freedom in Jesus? There is a sobering scripture that indicates the probable issue:

2 Peter 1: 2-9

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

So if we do not know the true joy of being IN Jesus, we have a mistaken idea of who we really were before He claimed us! We have fooled ourselves into thinking that we were really not that bad after-all.

This leaves us living in the nether land of living in Jesus and living in our old patterns. The conflict leaves stress, anger, depression, anxiety and weariness in its wake.

Please, allow God to show you who you were and, now, who you are!

Monday, November 30, 2009


A recent Sunday was a bit unusual for me.

Without going into all of the details, risking boring you to death, I would like to share with you a message that our gracious God shared with me in a brief moment in our Church's Prayer Room.

As I was rushing around with different perceived responsibilities I caught a brief moment to pop into the Prayer Room.

Already there were several people who had gathered to pray for the morning's services. As the prayers began an individual asked God to bring independence to all of those who are locked into dependencies.

Immediately, God expanded the thought in my mind. Here is what He said:

We easily choose for ourselves to be independent:

independent from parents, independent financially, independent from rules; this leads us to dependency: dependency on drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, approval of others...

If we were to choose dependency on God, He would give to us true independence!

Galatians 5:1 says: "It is for freedom that Christ set you free; therefore keep standing strong a do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery".

So over the last couple of days I have had to ask how it is that one can turn his/her dependency toward God and away from the things that enslave.

It has occurred to me that there is a key indicator of one's dependency on God.

Prayer is the definitive indicator of one's dependency on God. Let me hasten to add that it is not just the ordinary, everyday type of prayer that most of us Christians have learned to offer; it is instead the desperate cry from a hungry heart.

You will probably be familiar with a couple of stories Jesus told that illustrate this:

The first is a brief discussion with His disciples regarding the goodness of God
Matthew 7:9&10: "what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf , will give him a stone? Or what if he shall ask you for a fish, he will not give him a snake will he?"

So often when we consider this scripture we do so from the perspective of the giver of the gift and the goodness of the giver. For a moment lets consider the requester rather than the giver.

What attitude would a son have as he approached his father to request something to eat?
I would suggest that the son has few if any other options for getting his hunger addressed. It is dad or it is no one! His request is dependent upon his dad being the good dad that he has previously proved to be.

The second story that Jesus told was about a man who received a visitor late one night but had nothing to feed his guest.(Luke 11:5-8)

The man therefore went to his neighbor's house and knocked on the door. The neighbor refused to open the door due to it being late and he and the family were already in bed. The man continued to knock and knock until the neighbor got up and gave him what he needed.

Once again I ask that you look at this story a bit differently than you usually do. We tend to think of this story as an example of persistence in prayer. However, I would like for us to consider the desperation of the man who made the request. Why bother the neighbor over and over if there were other options available?

This brings us to consider the way we pray. We live in an opulent society that has taught us the extreme value of independence and self reliance. We hold these values as precious and true.

We are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to prayer that comes out of desperate dependency. We have too many options outside of our God!

For us to approach our God in absolute dependency we must first come to understand Who He Is and allow Him to reveal Himself in us! Outside of that revelation, our trust will be more easily place in the things we know, and see and have experienced.

Desperate dependency comes at a huge cost but it brings true independence!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Wonderful Gift of Prayer

Would it seem strange to you if I were to say to you that God answers prayer for His own benefit?

For so long, I have prayed asking God to answer thinking that it was solely out of His grace that He would answer the prayer of one as undeserving as me.

This week things changed.

I was reading in the Book of Ezekiel (more on that later) and I ran across something that fascinated me.

Later while I was searching for a particular scripture for another reason I ran into John 14:13&14 "...whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."

This brought me back to the thing that caught my attention earlier in the Book of Ezekiel.

Beginning in the 20th chapter an interesting series of statements are made about God's people and God's response to what His people are involving themselves in.

verse 8 says: They rebelled against Me and were unwilling to listen to Me..
verse 9 says: But I acted for the sake of MY name...

verse 13 says: The house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness...
verse 14 says: But I acted for the sake of MY name...

verse 16 says: they rejected my ordinances...
verse 17 says: My eye spared them rather than destroying them...
verse 21 says: the children rebelled against Me...
verse 22 says: I withdrew My hand and acted for the sake of My name...

So do you see a trend here? Over and over and over God acted to protect His name!

Is there any reason why we should shy away from praying or for avoiding immediately praying for anyone that asks us for prayer?

Take heart people; your prayers are giving Almighty God the opportunity to once again glorify His wonderful name!

Monday, November 16, 2009


If you abide with Me and MY words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you. By this is MY Father glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:7& 8

Jesus never danced around the edges of any issue. He always hit every issue right on the head. There is so very much in these short words about prayer; how it glorifies God, how it evidences our faith, how it can accomplish unlimited things.

For today lets look at the "prerequisite" of abiding.

A couple of definitions to "abide: are:

VERB: def.

To remain in a place.
To continue to be sure or firm; endure. See Synonym: stay

So Jesus is stating that if we want to see the power of God in our lives we must "continually remain is His word".

This seems prohibitive. How can we "live" in His word.

In another setting Jesus told those listening that the things that come our of our mouths originate in our hearts. It is the things that come out of our mouths that indicate what is in our hearts. We can easily determine, if we are honest with ourselves, whether or not the Word of God is dwelling in us.

The first part of the above scripture is a bit more difficult to get a grip on however. What does He mean about us abiding in Him? How can one continually remain in Him?

Once again if we take a look at another encounter that Jesus had with people we might be able to better understand this opportunity.

Jesus was standing by a vineyard and said to the people. "I am the vine, you are the branches"
The picture is a little more clear. If the branch is broken off from the vine it withers and dies.

How might we know if we are separated from the vine and lacking the spiritual nourishment?

Galatians 5:22-25 discusses the look of a branch that is connected to the vine by saying:
...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control....If we live by the Spirit let us also walk by the Spirit.

There is a saying that if something walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck chances are good that it is a duck. Much like determining whether or not the Word of God dwells in us, discovering the level of our connectedness with the vine, or "abiding" with Him is indicated by the fruits that flow out from us.

SO, we can ask whatever we want and see God glorified by the answer to our request IF we have evident fruit and clear words.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where are You?

"Genesis "means beginnings.

As everything in our world that we know and that we see was new, everything was as God intended it to be for a short while.

Sometime after the creation things began to go wrong. You know the story, Adam and Eve messed things up for the rest of us but that opened the door for the mystery of Jesus!

We pick up the story after Adam and Eve had done their act.

Genesis 3:8&9 says, "And (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden (of Eden) in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you'".

There are several points that can be made with this little scripture. I would like to call your attention to a couple of them.

First, it is clear that Adam and Eve knew the sound of God from previous experience. In fact, it is probably the case that Adam and Eve had the experience of meeting with God on a daily basis from the beginning until they removed themselves.

Secondly, God didn't leave Adam and Eve hiding in the trees. He asked, "Where are you" not because He didn't know where they were but, rather, because the question is one that Adam and Eve needed to ask themselves.

It is fascinating that Adam and Eve chose to hide themselves within the very things that God had created for them to enjoy. Sound familiar?

The very things that God has given to us to enjoy (our jobs, our family, our friends, our homes...) are the things that we use to "hide" from God.

Listen.....can you hear it?

You might have to quiet your mind and heart to hear it clearly.

If you try really, really will hear the Lord God ask, "Where are you?"

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Peak Into Heaven

Let's take a peak into heaven.

I know that it can be a bit scary to think about what you're going to see. You might think, "will I survive?" or "will I ever want to come back after seeing what I will see?"

Settle yourself around the idea that the Almighty, Holy, Inscrutable, All Powerful God has invited you personally to take a peak!

The door is opening:

I (Jesus) am the door if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved and go in and come out and find pasture. John 10:9

So let's take a short step "in" and see what is happening

And another angel came and stood at the alter... holding a golden censor... and much incense was given to him... that he might add it to the prayers of all of the saints upon the golden alter which
is before the throne.

And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up before God out of the angel's hand.

Stay here for a few moments and consider all that you see.

There is much to see and much to experience.

Did you notice that the angel was handed the incense for his censor but the prayers of the saints were already present before God. The angel merely "added" the smoke of the incense to the already existing and present prayers of the saints.

Have you ever considered that your prayers are enthroned with your God? Isn't it absolutely amazing that your prayers are given such a exalted postion in heaven?

Do you think that, after this brief peek, your prayers will be offered a bit differently in the future?

Monday, October 26, 2009


What comes to your mind when you read or hear the word "Power"?

Electricity? An avalanche? A flash flood? A charging bull or rhinoceros?

Allow me to read to you a brief description of real power! It is taken from Revelation chapters 4 and 5

"...a throne was standing in heaven and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting on the throne was like jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne like an emerald in appearance....and from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder...And the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and will cast their crowns before the throne saying, "worthy art Thou our Lord and our God to receive glory and honor and power, for Thou didst create all things and because of Thy will they existed and were created".

"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" An no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was found to be worthy to open the book or to look into it.

And I saw between the throne and the elders a Lamb standing as if slain...and He came and He took it out of the hand of Him who sat upon the throne. And when He had take the book the...twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb...and they sang a new song saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain and didst purchase for God with thy blood men form every tribe and tongue and nation."...

And I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders... saying "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and honor and glory and blessing..."

This is the one and same Lamb that told us to:

"Ask for anything in MY name" John 12:13


"Ask the Father for anything in My name" John 16:23-26

Apparently it was very clear to the Apostles where the power resided. We read of one example in the Book of Acts chapter 3

Now Peter and John were gong up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.
And a certain man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate to the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those were entering the temple.

And when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.
And Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, " Look at us!" And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I do not posses silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"

And seizing him by the right hand he raised him up..and with a leap he stood upright...

Peter said, "what I do have I give to you". What was it that Peter had? Certainly He didn't have the power to make the man walk. The scripture doesn't indicate that Peter imparted any part of faith or hope. It seems that the only thing that Peter had was the very same thing that we have available to us: The POWER that is placed in the name of Jesus!

Scripture tells it that it is at the name of Jesus that every knee in heaven and earth will bow and tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. (Philippians 2:10)

Spend some moments with God asking Him to show you, convince you, make real to you the immense Power the resides in the name of Jesus!

There is no name under heaven by which we may be saved!

Monday, October 19, 2009


War -

So many different thoughts come with the mention of the word. Political, patriotic, fearful, questioning, uncertainty, grief, pride...

For a moment, I would like for you to consider the state of war as a symptom not just an event.
Earlier this week while reading an article I came across a thought that I would like to share with you. The point of the article is unimportant. The extreme importance is the thought that was presented by the following statement:

'If people live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man...' in that state there will be 'continued fear and danger of violent death and the life of a man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short'". Forbes, American Idealism and Realpolitik, March 12, 2007

So, let me ask you...when was the last time that you felt a sense of awe?

Perhaps the easier question is: are you at war?

Are you at war with your job, with your neighbors, your family, your weight, your circumstances or your priorities?

Clearly we can see the results of a society that has lost its sense of awe.

Long past gone is a sense of awe about an Almighty Benevolent God. Also past, is a sense of awe over living in the greatest nation that has ever existed. We have become so inoculated toward anything and everything that could possibly bring a sense of awe.

There is a fear of being seen as immature or simple if we dare to see things out of the ordinary.
The results are everywhere evident The "brutish" ,the "fearful", the "solitariness" and separateness of lives. anger and suspicion are common.

Little is there that can be done about this issue in our society until we address the issue within our own hearts. That is why the earlier question asks about the war in your heart; the "brutish", the fearful, the solitariness, the anger, the suspicion.

So, have lost (or have you ever had) a realization of the awe of our Glorious, All-Powerful, beyond description God?

We will never have the proper perspective on life; we will never have the proper understanding on the power of prayer until we develop a sense of awe over the God who invites us to talk to him about the hurts, the needs, and the wants of ours and of our friends.

I implore you to beg God to show you his awesomeness! It won't be a brief encounter, Cliff Notes are not available.

Whatever it costs you the price will be minuscule in terms of what you receive in exchange.

Monday, October 12, 2009


You shall make no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:3

How is it possible to walk on the edge and still be in the middle? It isn't easy unless you see it the way our God sees it. The edge of our comfort zone is the exact center of God's will.

Romans 1:17 says "The righteous man shall live by faith".

We have exchanged the desire to live God's way for our comfort. We far prefer to be secure and unembarrassed than to live on the "lighted path". "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" Psalm 119:105

If we in fact have chosen our comfort, security and pride over knowing God in a personal way have we not chosen another god? You see we can not possible KNOW the truth of the Bible until we put it into action! Striving after anything over God's heart for the lost is idolatry, nothing short.

So where does that leave us? Frustrated at our work, or lack of personal time or accomplishments, or with our kids or our wife. Being unsettled; lacking deep peace is a spiritual indication that something is out of alignment!

"Mother" Theresa said, "we will never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all we have".

This applies to this issue because EVERYONE seems to think that "I don't know enough about scripture" to witness or "no one I know would be interested" and “I wouldn't do a very good job and might mess it up". Sound at all familiar?

Jesus said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” John 14:26

Do we believe that? NO! Let me ask again, do we really believe that?

There is a quantitative difference between the belief that we commonly think of and the belief of the Bible. I have used this story to display the difference:

"If I were to place a rickety old chair in the middle of the room and ask you if you believe that it will hold you when you sit on it, it would be very easy to say “yes”. If on the other hand, I asked you to sit on the chair we would quickly discover whether or not you truly believed that it would hold you!"

So do you truly believe Jesus when he says, that the Holy Spirit will give you everything you need when you need it? We will never know that Jesus is enough; until Jesus is all we have. Dare to walk on the edge of your comfort zone. That is where true life is located. “…I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10

Jesus gives us both side of the picture in a very familiar scripture. I encourage you to not walk past this too fast because of the familiarity. Consider what the Master says: “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose I; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it”. Matthew 16:25-26

Choose life!

Monday, October 5, 2009

You Are Not Your Own

Purpose; there is a reason that you are here! You are not an accident; you are not here by chance; however you are not your own.

…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price… I Corinthians 6:19-20

Most of us continue to live as if we belonged to no one. Sure there is some responsibility to our families and to our employers but outside of that we think we are in control.

Sadly mistaken is this view. We are free to continue to wander through our own “wildernesses” thinking we are getting somewhere when we are only walking around in circles. The day rapidly approaches each of us when we will look up and discover all that we have been living for is a mirage!

God never intended this to be the case.

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book they were written, the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139:16

Before you were born, God had His eyes on you. You are His delight:

As for the saints, who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all My delight! Psalm 16:3

You delight God’s heart. There is nothing more that you need to do to be delightful in God’s eyes. You are His and He chooses to sing over you. (Song of Solomon). That is how He sees you!

How do you see yourself? You have been bought with a price; have you sold yourself to the highest bidder? Do you work for a wage or do you minister to Him and see the reward for your work as a gift from His hand?

For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the Lord; therefore they have not prospered and all of their flock is scattered. Jeremiah10:21

The folly of our pursuits leads only to scattered flocks and empty lives.

I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

From the beginning God had a different idea for you: “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for blessing and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you, and you will seek Me and find Me when you will seek Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11-14

May I suggest that you might like to consider bending toward His desires for you? For too long we have been “stupid” shepherds and our flock is scattered. The height of foolishness is to continue doing the same things while expecting different results. If you don’t like what you have been getting, try doing it His way!

Do you have a purpose or do you just exist day to day?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Worship in Truth

Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus answered him, Because you have seen you believe? Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe.

John 20:28&29

Believing is a difficult thing to explain isn’t it? Come to think about it, it’s a bit difficult to personally understand as well. It’s kind of like being “all grown up”. Kids can hardly wait for the day when they are grown up until one day they are there and can’t understand where all the time has gone.

Likewise, belief is something we can often see in others but, at times, feel woefully inadequate in our own lives.

This makes a life of faith challenging. A joyful life requires faith!

So how do we go about increasing our faith?

We have all read the books or seen the movies wherein hope is slipping away and despair is growing by the moment. The horizon has been repeatedly scanned for possible escape; any help! Suddenly, miraculously over the distant hill we see the cavalry, the townspeople, the lone stranger, the long lost love… Hope turns to unfettered joy as desperate hopelessness turns to victory!

The Psalmist might have had an initial similar expectation as he begins his thoughts (Psalm 121)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?

He continues:

My help comes from the Lord who made the heaven and the earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps [you] will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.

The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forever!

So how do we increase our faith?

Worship is the key!

Let me hasten to point out that we too often have the view that worship is music or singing. While music and singing are often present at worship and sometimes vehicles of worship, it can as easily be an escape from true worship!

In a discussion with a woman who attempted to deflect confrontation about her private life Jesus said, “…true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth” John 4:23&24

Worship in truth”…what, if you were sincerely honest would you really say to God?

Until we are willing to deal with truth we will never enter into the truth of worship. The Psalms are great examples of honesty. (For example, read Psalm 10 looking for the truth and for the turn around in faith.) It is only due to the courage of the psalmist in laying his heart bare before the God who knows him better than he know himself that his perspective begins to change.

Once we experience the deep release of truth with God we will be set free to worship!

true worshipers shall worship the Father (John 5:23) in spirit and truth!

It is within this type of worship that we find the boldness to live a life of faith!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Life is so ______________. (fill in the blank)

_______ (choose your own word)

We have the best of intentions to pray, to spend time with Jesus, to prioritize our lives but, and this is a big BUT, _______________________ (see above).

Vacations have been dreamed up by those who understand that life is __________! A change of place, a change of activities, and change of schedules, vacations are all about changing from the things you continually do toward things you don’t normally do.

Most people look forward to vacations with great expectations and eager anticipation.

There is a type of vacation in the realm of prayer as well. As is the case with the other vacation, it is all about change.

We enter the story with a group of people desiring to take a prayer vacation. …on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside where we were supposing there would be a place of prayer…Acts 16:13

Explore a new opportunity. Find someone who you could invite to go to a food court, a park, a mall, a street corner, a school yard or somewhere else unusual to pray. You will experience a new vibrancy and life to your prayers. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing this by yourself but, as with the other vacation, it is much more enriching when you take someone along.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Waiting is Grating

Waiting has become a national irritation; perhaps it is one of yours as well.

Lines in banks or in stores, late friends or family members, sitting in the “waiting” room too long past the appointment time, spouse issues too many to mention; waiting grates and pushes against our sense of what is “right”.

Waiting is a BIG thing for our God as well. The meaningful difference between how we tend to see waiting from how God sees waiting is that He sees waiting as a good thing. No, not that waiting itself is a good thing, but that waiting indicates a good thing.

Just moments before He left His friends, Jesus told them to wait:

And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait…

Not that waiting is tough enough by itself but Jesus asked His friends to wait around in the very city where He was horribly treated and crucified just days before. The religious and political rancor was at extreme high; the danger was palpable!

…wait for what the Father had promised. “Which.” He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized you with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.

So that which “the Father” had promised was going to be delivered but there was evidently a prerequisite to the receipt of the gift. Clearly, the Father could have delivered the promised gift in any manner He chose. For some reason He chose to deliver it to those who “waited”.

There is a scripture that is probably very familiar to us; familiar to our minds perhaps but far too unfamiliar in practice.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble and badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31

Once again waiting seems to be the path to the promised benefits. Waiting is the ultimate illustration of our faith!

The psalmist knew this depth of this display of faith:

To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master. As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the Lord our God until He shall be gracious to us! Psalm 123:1-2

Before ending this discussion it is important to address two levels of waiting. The first is waiting for some specific relief, a specific blessing or a special need. The second is where we begin to touch the essence of the inscrutable God, the presence of waiting for whatever He has in mind for us.

Waiting takes time. Time is the only thing that we have that once spent cannot be replaced. It is the greatest, most personal thing that we can offer.

When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence.

For from of old they have not heard not perceived by ear, neither has eye seen a God besides Thee Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him
. Isaiah 64:3&4

Monday, September 7, 2009

Four Hundred Years

An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zaharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him.

So opens the communication, once again between the Creator and His creation!

400 years; that’s a long, long time.

400 years had been how long it had been since God had spoken to mankind. No prophets, no angelic appearances, no visions, no dreams; absolutely no communication whatsoever!

Silence, how does that make sense. Mankind left to himself leads only to degradation; nothing good comes from this type of silence.

Do not be afraid” were the first words from God in over 400 years. “Do not be afraid”; four words that speak volumes.

-God chose to open is communications once again with one single man.
-God did not allow the urgency of the message to be delivered to override His care for the individual.
-God chose to speak to an individual who was available; just doing his assigned duties.
-God re-opened communications with the physical presence of an angel to confirm the message.

So, how long has it been since you have heard from Him? The good news is that, at least, it couldn’t have been 400 years. Schedule some time to hear from Him soon! He will show up.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Law Fulfilled

…for truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, no the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments and so teaches others, shall be least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven

It would seem that Jesus is laying a load of legalism upon his hearers. Taken out of the very important context of His total statement it could be understood as so, however Jesus immediately proceeded these heavy words with some other extremely liberating words.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

So there it is: Jesus came as the “fulfillment” of everything contained within the Law and the Prophets. It is only by His fulfillment that we have any chance to missing the judgment of the following message. For those who do not find the Law fulfilled in Him the road is steep and the burden is beyond strength and determination.

Accept the gift of the fulfilled law in Jesus. Celebrate your freedom from the law.

Scripture is taken from Matthew 5:17-19

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Let's Put The Horse Back In Front of the Cart

If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,

Does this sound anything like the world we are living in currently? Oh, sure, we have had literal rain and have avoided actual devastation of locusts and the peril of pestilence but are we not experiencing record financial drought, depleting resources and failing families?

What were the life issues of ages ago are no longer the life issues in our age. No rain (spiritual and financial drought), locusts (lost jobs, homes and cars going without repair) pestilence (marriage commitments broken, political and spiritual leaders that succumb to lust, fame and riches). I know you can think of others that apply. The point is this: that we as a society are bankrupt!

Is there hope?

and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

There is great danger here. We are far too familiar with this scripture and that familiarity has dulled our reading of what it really has to say.

Note that the initial phrase sets the preconditions for the remainder of the statment. My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray.

Let's not move too fast past this precondition.

It is an absolute requirement that one "humble himself" before he is able to pray. Think of your own prayer life. When do you tend to pray? It is generally, if you are like most Christians, when your life is in crises. It is only in those times that you find the challenge greater than your abilities that you turn to prayer.

God is gracious to inform us that we will not pray if we are not first humbled, either by our choice or by our circumstances. The issue with waiting for our circumstances to bring sufficient humility for us to pray is that, at this point, we are just like non-Christians in that we are reduced to the lowest point of our faith and our prayers are timid.

Our God invites us to humble ourselves and then we will pray!

What then follows is that, since we have prayed in true faith we will hungerily seek His benevolent face and in finding His face we will gladly and eagerly turn from our wicked ways.

Unfortunately, we tend to get this whole process backward. We think that we must first turn form our wicked ways, then we can seek His face and pray. Do you see the folly of that? There is no humility in my mustering up the self-will to abandon my wicked ways even if I were able to do it. Without that humility true faith is impossible.

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place

II Chronicles 7:13-15

Our God hears and sees our humble, faithful prayer. He is so passionate about our prayers offered in faith that He not only hears them He actually sees them as well.

Let's begin again. Step one is: humble yourself and pray. The rest will take care of itself!

Monday, August 17, 2009

True Faith and Real Life

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1&2

This last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to pray for an individual that said the God was leading her into an area that was way out of her comfort zone. She wanted me to pray for her heart to be obedient in following.

Let me ask you a question: What would you do if you knew that there was no possible way to fail?

There is so much misunderstanding today about what faith is. To many Christians think that if they had enough faith they would do certain things: witness to co-workers or to difficult family members. The problem is this: we “get the cart before the horse” regarding faith. We think that if we had sufficient faith we would do such and such.

The reality is that we have exactly as much faith as we need for what we do everyday. The problem with that statement is that it doesn't take much faith to accomplish what we do everyday. We have planned and worked all of the faith out of our lives.

The scripture above tells us that Jesus is the “author and the perfecter” of our faith. We will always have sufficient faith for the challenges that we are willing to face.

Before we go any further, we must deal with the great misunderstanding of faith. Faith does not mean that one has no fears or reservations. As a matter of fact, faith is doing what you should do in the face of fears and reservations.


Is your life an exciting adventure or is it day by day routine?

There is a whole new world awaiting you if you will accept the invitation to a life of faith!

Let go and experience the tremendous joy that awaits you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two Seas

One of the many ways that our God graciously communicates with us displays His pursuit of us. When there is a critical message that He doesn’t want us to miss, He will send it in multiple ways. A case in point follows:

Within the Promised Land, today called Israel, runs a river from the north to the south. The Jordan River has been used for many messages and many lessons over the years. This time we are not looking at the river but the lakes that exist because of the river.

Traveling from the north, the first lake that we encounter is the Sea of Galilee. This lake is alive with fish and many other water creatures. The Jordan enters the lake from the north and exits to the south.

The next, and last, lake that we come to on the Jordan is the Dead Sea. Unlike the Sea of Galilee there is absolutely no life in or, even, around the lake. The Jordan River enters the Dead Sea from the north and dies in the Dead Sea. The lifeless lake is not due to the water itself but, rather, is due to the minerals that the river has picked up alone its way to the sea. Since there is no outlet these minerals are concentrated and deadly.

There is a profound principle that is communicated by this geographical picture. God has given, into our hands, funds sufficient to do His purposes. He, like the Jordan River, flows funds into our hands. Much of today’s Christianity is lying empty and dead because of positioning themselves as the receiver and the keeper. Like the Dead Sea, we have gathered houses, cars, clothes, dining out experiences and more and more. What God intended, as a blessing has become a burden leading to death.

The designed flow of funds into and through our hands brings life and joy. Attempting to divert the given funds is available to us but brings only the ugly result.

If this message is not difficult enough! Last week I was sharing this thought with a young brother in Jesus. He was quick to point out an application that I had not seen: For years, week after week every Sunday, we have heard message after message but have done very little in releasing the messages to others who don’t know our Jesus! Spiritually alive means taking in and giving out. There are no exceptions. As with the “things” we hold onto, the lack of follow-through with our witness leads only to the Dead Sea experience!

Is it time to reconsider anything?

We all have opted for a little more collecting than disbursing. The only question that is important is: How close are you to your God? Is there life and joy resident or does burden and stress reside?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Fruit Inspection

Take a moment to read through the list:


Better yet, print this list off or write it down and take a few moment of self-evaluation. Circle the characteristics that are generally present in your life. Which are the areas that are the weak points?

Galations 5: 22&23 states: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things there is no law.

It isn't about you becoming "better" it is all about your accepting the gifts that the Holy Spirit has already brought into your life.

Take a few moments to thank Him for the gifts that you are displaying and a few more moments to ask Him to remove the obstacles in your life to the display and exercise of the remainder.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Choose Life

I recently read a book about the life of an amazing basketball player. My time within the basketball world was concurrent with that of “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Pistol Pete is legendary and still holds many records for scoring within both the NCAA and NBA.

Before I go on too long here, this is not a sports story or discussion. There was an interesting parallel that I discovered as I read the story. For year after year, Pistol Pete was famous for his ability to score from any position and against any defense. As his fame for scoring grew so did is dissatisfaction with the game of basketball as well as his discontentment with his life.

There was a far too brief period wherein all of that changed. Many who have played, competitively, any team game will identify with the rare time in which the team ceases to be a collection of individuals and becomes a unit of one. Pistol Pete discovered this far too rare state when he adjusted his attitude toward the game.

It is impossible for a collection of individuals to ever realize the flow and the joy of the team experience. The term “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” describes this rarefied state.

Jesus knew of the deep, deep nature that moves within us because He chose personally experienced our nature.

As the cross drew imminent, Jesus laid out the desires of His heart in a prayer: I do not (just) as in behalf of these (His disciples) alone but for those who believe in Me through their word: that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You did send Me. And the glory which You have given Me, I have given them; that they may be one, just as WE are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…John 17:20-23a

There is a, otherwise impossible to know, glory that exists within the unity of an individual with his Creator; “that they also may be in Us”. Furthermore, in addition to this and not as a separate option, is the glory that comes within the unity of believers who are in unity with the Creator; “that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me and I in You”.

The natural urge within each of us is to be independent. We simply desire to follow our own ideas and choose our own destinies. Jesus recognized this “pull” within each of us and warned us about this proclivity and is natural effects. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s sake shall save it”. Mark 8:35

This “losing one’s life” is not a one-time commitment. The natural bent of our personalities is not eradicated by a one-time decision. No, rather, this is a moment by moment decision. If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me…Luke 9:23

The implement of death, the cross, must be picked up daily but it is for the sole purpose of carrying this life-giving tool with us throughout the day for us to choose to use on a moment by moment basis.

Moses called us to choose life, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curses. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers…Deuteronomy 30:19&20

Choose LIFE!

Monday, July 20, 2009

And a Nickel Too!

This morning started off a bit rough due to another long but short night. They seem to come from time to time and I have a deep sense that it is the only way that God can get a message through my thick skull.

You have probably experience the long/short night opportunity as well. Long because something keeps you from sleep; short because once you have finally fallen to sleep it is immediately time to get up.

Well, that was my night and why my morning started off a bit rough. Nevertheless, I soldiered on an drove to the place where I do my workout.

As I began my workout (not as big a deal as it sounds), things seemed different. The work was relatively easy and I actually enjoyed each task. As I was walked out of the door to leave a wonderful young brother in Jesus was approaching the door. His smile was infectious and as we talked his message was salve for my soul.

I continued toward my car considering the blessing of my brother, the beauty of the green grass, the warm sunshine, the cool gentle breeze; just exulting in God's goodness.

Now here is were things really get interesting. As I walked further toward my car I saw a bright glint on the ground. As I looked down I saw a bright, glistening new nickel lying on the ground.
Now, ordinarily, a nickel wouldn't be that meaningful but in this wonderful moment the thought came to my mind: “the grass, the trees, the blue sky, the wonderful breeze and a nickel too!”

God is able to do far more that we ask or imagine!

What a God!

Allow Him to show you your nickel too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Your kingdom or His!

The righteous shall be faith. Romans 1:17

So what exactly is faith? Hebrews give a definition:

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things unseen. Hebrews 11:1 (emphasis added).

So let me ask you: when was the last time that you used faith in your life?

Let me first address a few things that faith is not:

faith in not a feeling
faith is not a gamble
faith is not what someone else has more of
faith is not dependant upon circumstances
faith is not god; it is not omni-potent or any of the other omni's
faith is not only given to the "more righteous".
faith is not confidence in yourself or your own abilities

No faith is a gift of God. Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

So if Jesus is the source of our faith why do we not have more than we do?

The short answer is: we have exactly as much faith as we currently need.

Jesus is faithful; the answer could not be anything else.

Christians, for the most part, have fallen into the original trap of the garden of Eden. We have been given a far reaching invitation to extend our lives by faith but we have chosen to stay and eat from the forbidden tree. (Genesis chapters 2 and 3)

We have chosen to remain the king of our own "kingdom". Our desire is to control our own world. If we have a good job with a good income, a good spouse and obedient and respectful children, a beautiful home, pretty cars, a certain retirement fund and health we are content!

The problem with that scenario is that little of that is ever even possible one at a time much less all at once. These things never were purposed for our satisfaction or our security.

The result is that Christians today live lives of quite desperation; filled with stress, pressures and conflict. We are as likely as the non-christian world to be on some type of medication, legal or otherwise, just as likely to divorce, just as likely to escape into entertainment, pornography or alcohol.

But that doesn't stop us from changing jobs to find the next promise, buying the bigger television, the newer car or the next toy or dress, always looking to find our joy and security in things rather that turning around to see the gracious God waiting patiently to provide all of our souls desires with a new infusion of faith!

Joshua chapter 3 paints a picture of what faith is about. The short story is that the Nation of Israel had been up tot the point of entrance of Gods' promised land once before and balked. That generation had now died off and the nation was again at the same entry point. As Joshua addressed the people just before entering he said:

Now take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel; one man for each tribe. And it shall come about that when the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord. the Lord of all the earth, shall rest on the waters of the Jordan. the waters will be shut off and the waters which are flowing down from above shall stand in one heap. Joshua 3:12&13

The point of faith is when the bottom of the feet touched to water; until that point nothing was promised and nothing was done.

Isn't it past time for you to give up your kingdom? It is an uneven trade but God doesn't mind; He will trade His kingdom for yours anytime you are ready!

Continue to live in the captivity of Egypt or step your foot in the water and enter, on dry ground, the promised land!

Monday, July 6, 2009

What Me Wait?

Waiting has become a national irritation; perhaps it is one of yours as well.

Lines in banks or in stores, late friends or family members, sitting in the “waiting” room too long past the appointment time, spouse issues too many to mention; waiting grates and pushes against our sense of what is “right”.

Waiting is a BIG thing for our God as well.

The meaningful difference between how we tend to see waiting from how God sees waiting is that He sees waiting as a good thing. No, not that waiting itself is a good thing, but that waiting indicates a good thing.

Just moments before He left His friends, Jesus told them to wait:

And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait…

Not that waiting is tough enough by itself but Jesus asked His friends to wait around in the very city where He was horribly treated and crucified just days before. The religious and political rancor was at extreme high; the danger was palpable!

…wait for what the Father had promised. “Which.” He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized you with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.

So that which “the Father” had promised was going to be delivered but there was evidently a prerequisite to the receipt of the gift. Clearly, the Father could have delivered the promised gift in any manner He chose. For some reason He chose to deliver it to those who “waited”.

There is a scripture that is probably very familiar to us; familiar to our minds perhaps but far too unfamiliar in practice.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble and badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31

Once again waiting seems to be the path to the promised benefits. Waiting is the ultimate illustration of our faith!

The psalmist knew this depth of this display of faith:

To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master. As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the Lord our God until He shall be gracious to us!
Psalm 123:1-2

Before ending this discussion it is important to address two levels of waiting. The first is waiting for some specific relief, a specific blessing or a special need. The second is where we begin to touch the essence of the inscrutable God, the presence of waiting for whatever He has in mind for us.

Waiting takes time. Time is the only thing that we have that once spent cannot be replaced. It is the greatest, most personal thing that we can offer.

When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence. or from of old they have not heard not perceived by ear, neither has eye seen a God besides Thee Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. Isaiah 64:3&4

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Pleasing Aroma

Fragrance, you know; perfumes and colognes, candles, air sprays, diffusers, scented oils, the list goes on and on. Rows within certain stores are loaded with scents of many varieties, As a matter of fact, there are specific stores that sell nothing more than fragrances; the stores where you exit not being able to smell anything for a while to the sensory overload!

There are many speculations about our collective desire to have and to present pleasant scents.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

A funny thing about fragrances is that once you are exposed to a new fragrance for a few minutes you no longer can smell the fragrance. In the same condition is our perception of the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him. Understand what scripture has to say about this aroma

It is His manifestation through us. We cannot sense our own sweet aroma.

Paul continues his discussion:

For we are the fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma of death to death, to the other an aroma of life to life. ( 2 Corinthians 2:14 & 15)

Wherever you go, people respond to your presence; they don’t even know why. Most of us are totally unaware of this concept ourselves.

Much like the artificial sources of fragrance our “sweet aroma” fades in the “open air”. Everyday encounters within the natural world diffuse our fragrance. To remain pleasantly fragrant to some and grossly smelly to others we must choose to abide with the source of our aroma.

Seek Him earnestly and passionately! The rest is up to Him!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Intimacy With God

My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me… John 10:27

The picture that Jesus paints with His words is one of intimacy. There exists a personal conversation that connects close friends. When He says that He knows us, He really, really knows us and chooses us as friends anyway.

Elijah had lived a wildly adventurous life. Boldly challenging the religious elite of his time to “put up or shut up” on Mount Carmel was only a piece of the adventure. He had seen much and done much over his years. There was yet one thing left that was critical in his understanding about his God.

So (God) said to him, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake! And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. And it came about when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the care. And behold, a voice came to him and said….

In six days God created everything that we see in addition to the many things that we will never see. His power has been displayed in earthquakes, stopping rivers, bringing water out of rocks, confounding enemies, providing manna, controlling the sun and in so many other dramatic displays. The attention getting displays of God’s power does not bring intimacy. Elijah had seen the power but hadn’t accepted the personal friendship with his God.

Jesus again stated the desire of our God to have intimate friendship with us. This invitation comes on the terms that we are able to accept. Our Creator knows our inner being and what it takes to reach that inner part. It is not the eye-popping miracles that speak to our spirits; it is the whisper of the great lover of our souls that strums the chords of life deep within us.

He is speaking to you, inviting you to come aside. Friendship, intimacy, completeness awaits.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Form of Godliness

Realize this, that in the last days…men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 2 Timothy 3:1-4

Quite a list, isn’t it? As you read many of the descriptions what came to your mind?
Sounds a lot like the society that we live in doesn’t it? Everywhere we turn we see one or more of the traits described above displayed openly.

However, before we go too far down this road, we must read the rest of the scripture:

holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power… 3:5a

So, evidently, the descriptions above aren’t addressing the society’s issues. Those issues have always belonged to society. What is new is that these traits have seeped into the Church. It is only the Church that has the position to “hold to a form of godliness”; the world has never been interested.

Too easy it is to think of examples of the above traits within the Church. The music is too loud, it is too hot, the message was too long, church isn’t fun/friendly/applicable anymore and on and on.

Lost within the ugliness is the “power”. Long ago the manifest power of the gospel message has been buried under the self-interest and self-promotion. Each weekend we see displayed only the “form of godliness” while privately God’s people carry on the sickness.

Hear the Word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah. “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer; incense is an abomination to Me. I am weary of hearing them.”

“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply your prayers, I will not listen.”

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease evil, learn to do good, seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Isaiah 1:10-17

As the Nation of Israel was equated to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah perhaps today’s church is not far from the equation as well.

We are well aware of who makes up today’s Church. Individuals like you and me are responsible for the loss of power. Jesus is inviting us to “wash yourselves, make yourselves clean”.

Let’s agree together to quit “trampling His courts” with our worthless prayers and come into agreement with how He sees us. It is only then that we can once again discover the power!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Poverty of the Wealthy

One thing you still lack, Jesus said to the person who inquired about the way to eternal life, sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me. Luke 18:22

This entirely unique encounter has been in my mind in the last week. Let me explain: recently my wife and I spent a week in the Dominican Republic. So many things are different about the Dominican society that ours. One of the things that stand out in my mind is the visible evidence of contentment.

I understand that many of the homes in the Dominican Republic have little more that four walls. Few have electricity, few have running water (except when it rains), yet the lightness of the attitudes of so many of the people stands our in my mind.

I remember a time in our society when people would look in the face of the people they passed and smile and, often even, give a friendly greeting. Today, we seem far more protective and suspicious that at any time before. It is so interesting to contrast the two societies in terms of the possessions held and the attitudes displayed. It would seem that there is a relationship between the numbers of possessions and the amount of joy we experience.

He who trusts in his riches will fall but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. Proverbs 11:28

Ask yourself, where is your trust placed; an employer, a 401-k, a reliable car, a good neighborhood, a solid investment portfolio; maybe “all of the above”?

Jesus was not being arbitrary or cruel in demanding that the inquirer sell all of his possessions. Jesus knew the “stickiness” of possessions.

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:21

But woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Luke 6:25

How many possessions is enough? When will we reach satisfaction?

Think back over your life as an adult. What were the circumstances wherein you were the happiest? Is it, in any remotest way, related to the possessions that you held?

And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But to those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. I Timothy 6:8&9

One difficulty that is inherent in the word “rich” is that it is a moving target. Certainly we recognize others whom we would qualify as “rich” and just as certainly we will never consider ourselves as rich. Hence the “snare”. All traps are invisible to the prospective prey!

Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:23&24

So, where does this leave us? How is one to know whether riches are “plunging us into ruin and destruction”?

Who among your is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above but it is earthy, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:13-17

The contrast is clear. The kingdom of heaven is available now for those who enter and remain through the wisdom from above. We simply cannot continue to live in the terms of the wisdom of this world and expect that we will find the kingdom of God.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Idol of Jealosy

Jerusalem was built behind walls for a reason. Enemies from Damascus, Assyria, Babylon, Media and Persia all, at different times took an opportunity to attack the long envied position and the much hated people.

Within the walls were gates for the obvious purpose of entry and exit for the city. Due to the geography of the region the north gate had become the primary gate over the years. Perhaps its importance was established because it was so well fortified. The enemies listed above all live to the east of Israel. The position of Israel made the north the only approach for these peoples whether they came in war or seeking commerce. To the east of Israel is the Arabian desert and to the west is the Mediterranean sea making the north the easiest approach.

As the culture developed in Jerusalem the gates began to be primary gathering places. It was at the gates that kings held audience, prophets proclaimed God’s word, merchants traded and legal matters were adjudicated. Because of the traffic moving through and around the north gate, it became a primary gathering place.

This is the state we find as we read the words of the prophet Ezekiel.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, raise your eyes, now, toward the north”. So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold, to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the entrance. And He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, that I should be far from My sanctuary? But yet, you will see greater abominations.” Ezekiel 8:5&6

There has never been a better time to look for the “idol of jealousy” and the life that it steals for the people of Jesus. We easily ignore this subtle god to our peril.

We walk into the department store and the “idol of jealousy” hovers above the door. We visit a friend and see the new wonderful flat screen TV or the new furniture; the “idol of jealousy” hovers. A neighbor or a friend drives up in his shiny new car; the “idol of jealously” rides “shotgun”.

Romans counsels us to Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Romans 12: 15

How far we, at times, stray from the concept of enjoying someone else’s joy. Worse, yet, it often seems more likely that we feel like weeping for ourselves when someone we know rejoices and feeling relieved that we are not the one’s weeping when a friend is weeping.

Yes, the “idol of jealousy” hovers invisibly in our society but its effects are not so invisible and never have been subtle.


Monday, May 25, 2009

It Is No Secret

It is no secret what God can do. What He's done for others, He'll do for you..."

These beginning words to an old Christian song present a wonderful message.

It is no secret for many reasons not the least of which is Jesus told us! "The things that I do you shall do also and greater things shall you do because I go to the Father..."

God has chosen to do much of His work through us. Somehow we must re-awaken to the truth that God desires to pour His power out through us!

Seek all that God desires for you in faith!

Don't settle for less.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Heart of Peace

The Holy Spirit is such a wonderful teacher!

First let me explain how the Holy Spirit has shown me not only the message but has punctuated the message with the deep feelings of the message.

Do you remember a time when your heart hurt?

This last week Sheryl and I went to the shopping mall to do a little shopping. As we walked down the mall she decided she wanted to stop at a particular store to buy a gift for a friend. The store is a small, busy store so I decided that I didn’t need to join her in the store but, instead, would stand guard outside doing a little people watching.

Little did I know that this was the time that the Holy Spirit had in mind to show me the depth of God’s love. As I was scanning the crowd, down the mall walking in my direction was a father and his young daughter. My attention was immediately drawn to them. The father was a youngish, tall man and the girl was somewhere in the elementary school years age. She was looking a bit unkempt; her hair was straggled and her coat was half on and half off.

As they approached my post, the father was looking straight ahead while his daughter bounced around him trying to earn his attention. The best way that I can describe her actions to you, and every unfitting, is of a young puppy jumping around trying to get the attention of its master. She skipped and hopped around on one side of him; then quickly darted to the other side to do the same, jabbering all of the time. NOT ONCE, did the father even look down, smile or, in any way, acknowledge her.

My heart ached for that young girl. As I write this, my heart still aches!

There was a time in history when God specifically identified individuals with hurt hearts: Then He cried out in my hearing with a loud voice, “Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in hand.” And behold, six men came from the district of the upper gate which faces north, each with his shattering weapon in his hand; and among them was a certain man clothed in linen at whose loins was a writing case. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar. Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in lined at whose loins was the writing case.

And the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” But to the others He said, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity, and do not spare…but do not touch any man on whom is the mark…” Ezekiel 9:1-6

Perhaps the saddest thing about this history is that it only took one person to mark those whose hearts hurt but it required six to lay out the judgment upon those whose hearts were cold.

Has there ever been a time when we substitute judgment for hurt hearts? To hear us talk about the state of our society one could quickly get the idea that we might be a tad judgmental. God looks for sighing and groaning and we give him gripes and disgust. The one dressed in linen looks for the troubled; the six with weapons look for the comfortable.

Jesus, displayed the depths of His heart one day, And when He approached the city (Jerusalem), He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! Luke 19:41&42

He said, further, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Matthew 23:37

I can’t tell you how much I wanted to hug that young, hungry for attention girl; or to grab the father and shake him out of his coma!

Surely you have experienced the hurt of a heart.

There is no place for judgment in the hearts of those whose hearts ache! There is only a longing for things to be set right; for peace!

Jesus, Isaiah states is the, Prince of Peace! 8:6

Do you know; I mean really know that in this day, even you, the things which make for peace are contained in HIM?

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Position With Benefits

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord. O my soul….

So begins Psalm 103. “Bless the Lord”. Surely this must be a mistake. How can we do anything that “blesses” our God?

While we maintain our independence and our own agendas, we control our own decisions. The natural course is for us to make decision after decision based upon our own ideas and habits. This is the precise place where we can bless our Lord.

The conscious, deliberate decision to redirect our thoughts toward Jesus brings blessing to our God. This is what Hebrews 13:15 calls a “sacrifice of praise”. Sacrifice is referred to as a sweet aroma to the Lord throughout scripture.

Psalm 103 continues: And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all of your iniquities;
Who heals all of your diseases;
Who redeem your life from the pit;
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things…

The purpose for our blessing the Lord is to please Him. The accompanying benefit to us is that it changes and softens our hearts and clears our vision. We refocus our spirits toward the “benefits” that we have received from Him.

As our hearts are softened our spirits begin to soar. The circle begins: we bless the Lord, the Lord blesses us which leads us toward blessing Him more and Him blessing us more, blessing Him, Him blessing us….

It is absolutely critical for us to understand that the order of this blessing is important. If we were to hold out for God’s blessing before we blessed Him, we would be waiting a long, long time. Our focus is askew and no matter what blessings He sends we will miss.

Choose to “bless the Lord” this week and “forget NONE of His benefits”!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Little Child Shall Lead

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all. Mark 10:15

Consider how a child “receives” things. Particularly, during the Christmas season we can see the exuberance of a child who receives gifts.

Many young children awaken early in the morning, excited for the new day. Magnified beyond all reason is the energy on Christmas morning. A child has an inner expectation about the new day. Energy, inquisitiveness, unbounded joy flow out of the innocent lives. What about this picture is required to “enter the kingdom of God”?

Faith is about expectation. Faith is about energy, inquisitiveness and unbounded joy. As a matter of fact Jesus taught us about expectation when He said, …I say to you, all things for which you pray, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you. Mark 11:24

To actually believe that God will grant our requests would bring expectation. To see the results of His gift would bring unbounded joy and a persistent inquisitiveness regarding His desires.

We can choose to enter the kingdom today and everyday or we can choose to dwell in the drudgery of this world and just wait until the day that we die before we really begin to live.
The key to enter the kingdom now has been provided for us; it is our option to choose to open the door!

Living by faith isn't natural and it isn't easy. We must choose!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Perspective That Brings Peace

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication (surrender) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". Philippians 4:4-7

Too often we hear the last part of the passage regarding "the peace that surpasses comprehension but we fail to realize that there is a precondition.

Rejoice ALWAYS; in EVERYTHING...with thanksgiving; these are the things that guard our hearts and minds which lead to the peace that doesn't make sense!

Rejoice, the Lord is near!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hide and Seek

For several months now, I have been telling people a brief story:

If, on that day when God came to the Garden of Eden, instead of saying, "Adam, where are you?" he said, "Adam, I know where you are." and He turned His back on mankind and walked away, still:

He would be worthy of all praise

He would be worthy of all honor

He would be worthy of everything that we could offer!

But the truth is, He did seek Adam! How could we give Him less!

This last weekend, God completed the story:

"Adam, where are you?" God inquired.

"My God, why have you forsaken Me?" Jesus pleaded

God did not turn His back on Adam. Instead, He turned His back on Jesus so that He could turn His face toward me!

Still He calls out: "____________, where are you?"

What are you still hiding from Him?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sharp as a sword

For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Many are very familiar with this scripture. Knowing about this scripture is far different from knowing the scripture. There exists a serious lack, in terms of time invested, in the Bible by Christians today. This lack has brought severe consequences. Fear, stress, relationship troubles, pornography, impatience, debt, mistrust, insomnia are commonplace in the lives of Christians in current times.

Jesus prayed the following words: They (the followers of Jesus) are not of this world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:16&17

We are “sanctified”(set apart for God’s purposes) by God’s word. There is no other method available. Jesus knows that living in this world dilutes are strongest resolutions. The llies and flase values of this world begin to take on an air of acceptability over time. The only antidote for the “truths” of this world are the real truths of God’s world and the only place that we experience God’s world is through His word.

Hebrews tells us that the Word of God is living and active. Clearly then, scripture is not a stagnant document. This is an important distinction because, unlike every other book or document, the Bible reveals its truths in levels.

…the natural man does not accept the things of God; for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. I Corinthians 2:14

The closer we are to our “natural man” the less likely we are to read the scriptures because we do not “understand them”. The amazing resilience of scripture provides that, even if we begin close to our “natural man” state, the “sharp, two-edged sword" begins to speak to our spiritual man.

As our spiritual nature feeds on God’s word, our spiritual nature grows stronger and stronger. As our spiritual nature (faith) grows new levels of scriptural truth open up to us.

It is time to begin again. Pick up God’s word and ask the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts and reveal His truth.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Restored to Our Original Design

As you may recall, God did not give Adam ownership in the Garden of Eden. What He did give to Adam was dominion over the Garden and its produce and its other inhabitants.

God blessed them; and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth. Genesis 1:28

God's design is so plainly simple, but we make it so complicated by attempting ownership with the things that were never ours to own. We will develop this thought in another chapter but for now we must return to the idea of this world was created for mankind to have dominion (subdue and rule).

This dominion, which was ordained for mankind, was surrendered when Adam chose to subject himself to another god (Satan).

Then to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread till you return to the ground because from it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:17-19

LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. Genesis 3:23

From this time on to the present day, mankind has been a laborer within the domain that was surrendered on that day. We must understand that man could not surrender that which was not his. The ownership of everything remained with Almighty God, the Creator. All that mankind surrendered was the subduing and the ruling of Gods’ creation (domain).

Jesus addressed the clear distinction between the two positions or realms:

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm. John 18:36

Here is where things become incredibly interesting. In referring to Jesus, scripture says:
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, (Colossians 1:13)

There several important truths presented here that we must see before we move on in our understanding.

First, this scripture talks about an event that has already happened; it is in the “past-sense” that we (the redeemed) have been transferred from one realm into the other.

The second truth is that we were “rescued” from the domain of darkness. We were entirely captive and helpless in the very realm that we was designed for us to subdue and rule. Instead, for most of our lives we have been subdued and ruled by that realm.

The third truth is that we have been transferred into God’s kingdom; the very place where it all began.

There is far too much to say about this third truth to go into here. As a matter of fact I am writing my first book about this very topic.

It is so very important for the Church of Jesus (you and me) to understand their positions. We have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God however we still live in the former condition. We strive to own that which is not ours to own, to control those things and people that are not ours to control, and to struggle and to toil in our jobs and responsibilities.

We, only by faith, now live in the position of authority originally granted to Adam within the Garden of Eden. We have the same access to God and to His provision; we have the same access to His protection and His presence.

Faith is the key. The faith that I am talking about is different from the wispy faith of most of today's Christians. This faith is the faith that we read about in the Book of Acts wherein followers of Jesus were beaten, thrown in prison and brought before tribunals simply because they couldn't resist telling people about their Jesus!

This faith that I am talking about is what Hebrews describes as: The assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen.

Does this description sound like your faith? Do the words "assurance" and "conviction" apply easily to your faith? Or, like most of us, is your faith more in the "hope for" and "unseen" category?

Scripture states clearly that Jesus is the "author and the perfecter of our faith". If our faith, then, remains immature it is only because we have chosen to remain within our comfort zones and have resisted the perfecting process of Jesus.

I encourage you this very day to repent (change your mind) and run into His tender arms of mercy and plead for the faith that know full assurance and complete conviction.