Thursday, May 31, 2007

Honor your father and mother

This is a picture of my Dad and for his birthday a couple of years ago he and I went to a music festival and just had a great Father/Son day together. A day I will never forget!

I know Father's Day is a couple of weeks away yet, but since I will be out of pocket the week of Fathers Day, I thought I'd write what I wanted to say today. Before I go on about my Dad, I must say that my Mom is the best. She was always there for me, always encouraging me, she was full of love for the three of us kids and she was so much fun to be with, especially as we watched TV shows in the evening after Dad went to bed. He had to get up so early in the morning that he was always in bed by 8:00pm. My mom and Dad were model examples of two people that loved and cared for their children and each other and my life has been molded by them. I'm forever grateful for that. I guess the reason I wanted to talk about my Dad though is because as a Husband and Father myself, I owe so much to the example my father gave me in living my life. I often thank God for my Dad and my wonderful relationship that I have with him. Even though we live several states away now, we still stay in touch as often as we can and that's important to me.

My Dad is an incredible man. A loving husband to my Mom. He is and always was a fantastic example for me as a son to imitate in the way I treat my wife in my own marriage. I'm also amazed at the things I do now in my life because I learned them from watching my Dad. He always taught me to respect elders (that's anyone older than myself, and I remember as a teenager, well, that was just about everybody!) He taught me to work hard and earn your living. I remember complaining one time about being paid only 75 cents an hour dish washing at a restaurant. He got upset with me and told me that I have two choices to make here. He said that I made a commitment to my boss to give it 100% for that 75 cents and he reminded me that I was pretty happy about that 75 cents when I started work there. So he told me to give it my best and follow through with my commitment or quit. Those were my two choices. Well he was right, I did stick with it for quite a while and then finally found something that paid better. But to this day I remember his words about work ethic and commitment.
He always enjoyed being with his family. He'd work hard in the yard and around the house and us kids were always given jobs to do helping with the yard work or whatever needed to be done. I learned how to work hard from watching how hard he would work. I learned how to respect people by watching him be respectful to everyone he met. During his vacation time in the summer, he'd always work in the wheat fields during the harvest and this extra job would help our family make ends meet.
He loved to watch us kids play sports, especially when I played baseball or my sisters played softball. These were always great times to be together as a family.
He taught me how to drive (even after I ran us into the ditch learning.) He could fix anything, he was good with his hands and he was always the smartest man I knew. Even today I'll call him up and ask him questions if I'm not sure why something works a certain way. He's a simple man, and I love that. He's humble and when you are around him, you are happy. You know, I could go on and on about my Dad because he's influenced me so much and I really can't appreciate him enough.
In a few weeks I get to travel back home and visit my Mom and Dad. As much as I hate living so far away from them, I guess it makes the visits back home much more meaningful to me because they are far and few between.

I'm reminded of a verse...

Ephesians 6:2-3, (2)"Honor your father and mother." This is the first commandment with a promise: (3)If you honor your father and mother, "things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth."

I hope you too have had a similar kind of relationship with your parents as I've had with mine. If you can, let them know how much you love them. If you were like me growing up, I'm sure your parents had the challenge of their life raising you. I know mine did with me. My respect for them grows more and more each year because I now have a better understanding of their love for me as I have experienced my love for my own children as they have grown. All I can say is thank You Lord, for my Dad and my Mom. I want to always honor them both as long as I live. I guess the best way to do that would be to live the way I was taught. After all, I had the best example ever!

Thanks Dad and Mom. Thanks so much!


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Believing in God isn't enough!

Do you believe in God? Do you believe that there is only one God and that He is the God of the universe and he created all mankind and everything in this world? Some people are under the misunderstanding that if they believe in God then they will have eternal life. Of course for anyone to be allowed into heaven, yes they must believe in God, the very same God I described earlier, but, to believe in God alone is not enough! Having faith in God is not enough!

James 2:19 says... You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

James tells us that even the demons believe there is one God. So I ask you, are the demons going to spend eternity in heaven with God? Of course not. But the lesson here is that even they believe in God. So believing that there is a God or saying that you believe there is a God simply isn't enough to ensure you'll spend eternity in heaven. Our faith is not evident when we speak our belief, it's only evident in our actions and the way we live our life. In other words... our works for the Lord will be the evidence of our faith and it's the evidence of faith that makes our belief in God genuine. Truth faith in God and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ on the cross, is the only way to heaven. We must confess Jesus as our Lord and repent of our sins. This repentance of sin is the evidence of a Spirit lead life. Our actions or works will be of the Holy Spirits leading if we have true faith that saves us.

James 2:17-18 says... (17)So you see, faith by itself is not enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (18)Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." But I say, "How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds."

So you see, if we don't have good deeds, if we are not showing our faith, then we have to ask ourselves a very serious question. Am I really saved at all? The truth is... genuine faith in God that saves us produces fruit in our lives and others see it in our actions. God's Spirit works through us, or God's Spirit may not be in us. That's the harsh reality of these verses. My fear is that the churches are filled with people that believe, but may be lost, because faith in God alone isn't enough.

I remember attending a Promise Keepers conference a few years ago, and the speaker that year said something I've never forgotten. He said, "You can say you are a "promise keeper," but you're not one till your wife or your kids says you're a "promise keeper." The point of course is if we truly are promise keepers then there will be evidence that as a man of God I keep these promises I've committed to live by. If the evidence is not there, well I can say I'm a promise keeper, but it would be a lie wouldn't it? No one sees it. No one believes it. Like James says in verse 20 of Chapter 2. "How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

I want to encourage you here. I know this devotion may cause some to doubt their salvation. Please remember that we will not be perfected in any way till the day we've been made complete in heaven in the presence of God. Till that day, we're still in bodies of flesh and all it's sinful selfish desires. The Spiritual battle continues daily for us till were in heaven. Saying that though, we should show in our actions our love for the Lord and our love for others. Yes we'll make mistakes and we'll always fall short, but people will see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives because of our faith in Jesus. The only way to Heaven is through Jesus. We must have faith in Jesus and our works or actions will be the proof of our faith.

So what's it look like when we live by the Spirits power?

Galatians 5:16-26 reveals to us the truth of our faith.
Gal 5:16
So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Gal 5:17
The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.
Gal 5:18
But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.
Gal 5:19
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure,
Gal 5:20
idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group,
Gal 5:21
envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal 5:23
gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.
Gal 5:24
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
Gal 5:25
If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives.
Gal 5:26
Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I ask you right now to reveal to me where I struggle in my walk with you each day. Help me Lord to live for you. Fill me with your Spirit so that it overflows and touches others through my actions. May others see You in me. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen

Monday, May 28, 2007

How heavy are your burdens?

A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience raised a glass of water and asked: "How heavy is this glass of water?" People in the audience started shouting out different weights. The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you to try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

This little illustration reveals to us how burdens that we carry become increasingly heavier and heavier, until eventually we can't go on. As with the water you have to put it down once in a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.

So, before heading home from work today, why not put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up again tomorrow. Whatever burdens you are carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. For years I used to carry my work home with me and then after I ate supper I would work on my work for another couple of hours or so and this of course cut into my families time. Finally my wife brought it to my attention that all I do is work and the boys and her look forward to me coming home and then what do I do? I work! Thanks to her I decided to quit bringing work home and I was amazed that the work still got done and I felt better that I was getting to spend more time with my family. Changing our behavior can make all the difference in reducing our stress. We need to take time to simply RELAX. Put down anything may a burden on you right now. Don't pick it up again until after you have rested for a while. Life is short... enjoy it!

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

  • Accept that some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue.

  • Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them later.

  • Always read stuff that will make you look good if you were to die in the middle of it.

  • Drive carefully, it's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

  • If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

  • If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

  • It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

  • Never buy a car you can't push.

  • Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

  • Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance!

  • When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

  • Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

  • You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

  • Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

  • We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

  • A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

  • Keep life simple!

Mat 6:27
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Enlisted in the Lord's Army

This Memorial Day weekend has given me the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices that so many soldiers have made for the freedom of our country and freedom we sometimes take for granted. The cost of freedom is great, it's paid with the blood of our soldiers.

I joined the United States Army back in 1977. I was a senior in high school and I actually joined the Army in what was called "The delayed entry program." Although I joined and signed up and was technically enlisted in 1977 at the start of the school year, I would not go active duty until after I graduated from High School in 1978. Finally that day came in July of 1978 when I raised my right hand and was sworn into the United States Armed Forces as a soldier in the United States Army. That day I gave up all my rights as a civilian and became the property of the United States Government. I gave up all my authority and submitted to the authority of my Commander in Chief, the President of the United states of America. Talk about submission or surrender, those that have served in the Armed Forces understand exactly what this means. A soldier must react to orders without hesitation, without thinking of consequences. The soldier simply carries out, or executes to the best of his or her ability the command that they have received. We're trained and disciplined to follow orders and commands with urgency and without hesitation and this training starts in "Boot Camp" and carries us through the rest of our days in service to our country.

I'd like to mention here, that no matter how you feel about the War we're engaged in right now in Iraq, the soldiers that are there serving, are doing so because they go where they are told when they are told. If you wish the situation to be different, they pray for God to change the situation, pray for our leaders in our Government to make good decisions, but the soldier, the soldier is at no fault. The soldier is to be commended for their commitment to our country. Too many times we protest against the soldier, and that's sad and wrong.

When I was in my training to become a soldier, I was taught discipline, commitment, urgency, and perfection in everything I did. We we're given a soldiers manual that instructed us on how to carry out basic functions as a soldier. We studied and eventually were tested on each chapter of that book till we could perform every function without making any mistakes. We had to know it so well that we could perform every task without even thinking about it. It had to be automatic for us. We learned to react quickly to orders and commands. When told to run, we shouted with urgency, "Sir, Yes Sir." the only appropriate response was "How far?" When we were told to jump, we shouted, "Sir, yes Sir." and of course the only appropriate response was, "How high?" If we didn't react fast enough we were disciplined, if we didn't shout out loud enough, we were disciplined. All this conditioning was for one reason of course, to develop us into soldiers that would react with a very high sense of urgency of obedience when given an order, no matter what it was.

Well this weekend I've been thinking about the similarities of the United States Army and the Lord's Army. I believe that many Christians forget or really don't understand that they are soldiers in the Lord's Army. As a Christian, you are thrown into battle the day you "enlisted." Wait a minute Steve. I didn't join in any Army, I simply gave my life to Christ as my Lord and Savior. He's promised me eternal life and someday I'm going to live with Him in Heaven. I didn't become a Christian to fight in a battle, No Way!

Well let's take a look at what the bible says...

Eph 6:10
A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power.
Eph 6:11
Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.
Eph 6:12
For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
Eph 6:13
Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.

You can see from these verses that we are fighting in a battle. This is a War unlike any other because the cost is so high. If we don't fight, then Satan (our enemy), claims another casualty of War and the soul of that person is lost forever. Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians that we must put on the armor of God because we are fighting against an enemy that we can not see, against powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits. Without God's armor, we're not equipped, we're not able to succeed in this battle and resit the enemy and be able to stand firm. When I read these verses I immediately think back to my military days long ago. And when I think about the discipline I had then in the Army, When I think about the commitment I had then, when I think about the understanding I had of my manual and how I had perfected and learned all that was in it. I have to say that now that I'm enlisted in the Lord's Army, and realizing that the consequences of this battle far exceed any other, I'm ashamed to say that my urgency to obedience, my commitment, and my knowledge of my manual (the bible) is less than acceptable as a soldier in the Lord's Army.

My challenge for each of us this weekend is to think about where we stand in our Lord's Army as one of His soldiers.

1. Have we truly given ourselves over to our "Commander in Chief's" authority? Do we do what God tells us to do, do we obey His commands without hesitation, or do we waiver in our obedience?

2. Have we read the manual? Do we know our bible? Have we studied it backwards and forwards so that we can live it without thinking about it? Do we strive to perfect our lives in Christ?

3. Do we understand that we are all soldiers enlisted in the Lord's Army, fighting the battle of battles? Do we understand that if we are not wearing the full armor of God, we will not be effective in this battle at all? Do we know how to fight? Do we understand and know our enemy and his tactics and strategies?

Final thought... How would you feel about a soldier in the United States Army, who didn't care to train and learn how to obey commands and orders without hesitation? How would you feel about our armed forces if there was no discipline and commitment of our troops? How confident would you be with our military if they didn't work hard to perfect their abilities and skills of warfare? I guess there's only one question left to ask...

What kind of soldier are you?

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father. Thank you for my time of service in the US Armed Forces. Not only did I learn to love and respect my country, I learned skills and values that I can apply to my life as a Christian serving in Your Army. Please Lord, may we all be challenged to grow, to become better soldiers for you. May we all renew our commitment to the fight and take a stand with you in this battle against our enemy Satan. Thank you Lord for equipping us with all we need to be successful and victorious in this battle. We know in the end, the victory is yours, but we also know many will be lost in this battle before it's over. Forgive us Lord, where we've failed in the past and help us now to train and discipline ourselves for your service. It's in Jesus name we pray. Amen

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Now that's Service!

Today we're going to look at Service. I'm talking about service to our Lord Jesus Christ and we'll take a look at two people that truly loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him, they both just had different styles is all. Sometimes one's style of service may not be like ours and if we are not careful, we'll become more concerned with our own style of service and quite possibly, miss serving Jesus all together if we're not careful.
Let's take a look at today's passage of scripture found in Luke 10:38-42.

Luk 10:38
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.
Luk 10:39
Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught.
Luk 10:40
But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."
Luk 10:41
But the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details!
Luk 10:42
There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it-and I won't take it away from her."

Mary and Martha both loved the Lord, didn't they? Martha was busy cleaning the house and preparing supper getting ready to serve the Lord. Can you picture her, everything has to be in it's place, she wants everything just right, right down to a perfect meal, I mean after all, the Lord's visiting! This reminds me of my wife in many ways. When we get news that our family is coming in from Kansas, we'll it's house cleaning time. Don't get me wrong, I think the house looks great everyday, but when company's coming, well suddenly there's a new level of cleaning that I guess I just never paid any attention too. I imagine that Martha wanted everything just perfect for her Lord's visit, and of course we can all understand that.

In this case however, both Martha and Mary were serving Jesus, but Martha thought that Mary's style of serving was inferior to hers. Maybe better said, she didn't see what Martha was doing as serving because she was more concerned with her own style of service. But as we see here, she was actually neglecting her guest in her service. Martha was so concerned with all the work there was to do that she missed out on what Mary had discovered. Not only did she miss out, she was frustrated with her sisters lack of service for the Lord and upset with her leaving her all the work to do. I imagine she thought Mary was lazy or maybe even rude.

I like the fact that Jesus doesn't blame Martha for being concerned with the household chores, He was only asking her to set priorities. Mary's priorities were right while Martha's were not. Sure it's OK to want to clean up the house and fix a big dinner for the Lord's visit, but when the Lord arrived, Mary gave Jesus her full attention while Martha's service became self service more so that serving Jesus. Luke 10:39 says... Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. Mary's focus was on Jesus and listening carefully to what he was teaching.

These are the questions we should ask of ourselves: Are we so busy doing things for Jesus that we are not spending any time with him? Am I allowing my service to become self service? That's the challenge isn't it? It can be possible for service to Christ to turn into mere busywork that is no longer full of devotion to God. Another lesson... spending time alone with Jesus, listening to what he has to say through his word, is far more important than focusing on details that take our focus off of Christ. As Christ said to Martha in verse 41,42. (41)"My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! (42)There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."

My prayer is that as we serve we remain mindful that our own agenda and the details of our agenda can take our eye off what's important in our serving Jesus. True service is when all our focus is on him. It's not about what we're doing for him, but what we're doing with Him. When our focus is about being with him, hearing from him, listening to him, we'll be obedient to him and this allows His spirit to work through us. Then our works are of his will.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus. Thank you for this passage of scripture and the lessons you teach us from it. May my service to you be pleasing and may I discover that just spending time at your feet is the most important place to be. Lord, forgive me when I too become so wrapped up in the busy details of Church, Worship, and Service that I fail to pay any real attention to you at all. Thank you for your Love. Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What's forever for?

What's forever for? This sermon was preached this last weekend by my Pastor, Tim Miles. It was such a powerful message that I thought I'd load it on my blog for you to listen to if you so desire. Beware however, that this message is a tough one to stomach in many ways. It will speak to you on many different levels.

1. If you are thinking about getting married.
2. What's it mean to be married (becoming one)
3. If you are married and struggling within your marriage.
4. If you are thinking about getting divorced.

This message speaks the truth of the bible and often the truth of the bible contradicts the ways of the world. None the less the truth must be taught. I left this service with a renewed commitment to my marriage and my spouse. I pray you'll be blessed as well as you listen.


click on the web address below to listen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heavens Treasure

Do you recognize the value of the Kingdom of heaven? The bible says it's a treasure. It's such a treasure that we give all we have to have it. Let's take a look at a passage of scripture that explains the value of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mat 13:44
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field-and to get the treasure, too!
Mat 13:45
"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls.
Mat 13:46
When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

First of all we see two examples how we find this treasure:

One way is we stumble upon it like the man that discovered a treasure hidden in a field. He wasn't searching for it he just suddenly saw it! He was so excited and recognized it's value that he immediately hid the treasure again and then sold all he had to be able to buy that field. That's how valuable that treasure was to this man. The other example is of a man that was looking for it. The merchant was on the look out for choice pearls. Of course when he found the pearl he was looking for he sold all he owned and bought it!

What do we learn from this? The Kingdom of Heaven is more valuable than anything else we can have. It's of such value that we must be willing to sacrifice all we have for it. I guess the only way though for us to be willing to sell out for Christ, is when we recognize the value or worth of the Kingdom of Heaven. The men in this parable understood and recognized the value of the treasure they either stumbled upon or sought after, and when they saw it, when they had a chance to get their hands on it, they sold all they had to have it.

Do you have eternal life? Do you know how to purchase the Kingdom of Heaven? Have you discovered the treasure that this parable talks about? If you have found this treasure, this chioce pearl, then you know what has to be done to obtain it. You have to sell out. You have to give up all you have to have it. Now the gift of Salvation is free isn't it? And here I am telling you the Kingdom of heaven can be purchased! Please do not misunderstand me here. The gift of salvation is free. It free as far as Christ has already paid the price for you and I. Even though we are sinners, Christ died for us and his death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin. We've been forgiven and made righteous by the blood of Christ. We've been washed clean. Our requirement for this salvation is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died for us. We must confess Jesus as our Lord and the bible promises us that Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The free part means there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Jesus did it all, we just have to recognize the treasure. Here's where the cost comes in for us. We have to give up our old life, our old ways and give our life and control over to Jesus. The key word here is LORD. We have to make Jesus LORD of our life. That means we do not have authority over ourselevs anymore, Jesus does. That's how we purchase this treasure... it's really a trade isn't it? Give up my life and all I have for the riches that Jesus offers. So let me ask you.

Have you stumbled upon this treasure or have you been searching, looking for this valuable pearl? Did you find it? Did you get excited at the realization that you found something awesome that is far more valuable that anything you have ever seen? Did you instantly know that whatever you did, you would not let this treasure escape your grasp. The hidden treasure of course is Jesus! I hope you have found Jesus, I hope you have realized his value and I hope you see that He is the way to the kingdom of Heaven. Make him your Lord. sell out and give all you have and follow him. There is no greater treasure in all the world.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that whether we stumble upon you or whether were seeking you, the great news is that when we realize how valuable you are to us, may we be willing to sell all we have to have you. May we make you LORD of our life and be obedient to your will. Thank you Lord for loving us so much that you reveal yourself to us so that when we meet you, your Spirit convicts us of our need for you. Thank you Lord for eternal life and for the Kingdom of heaven that awaits us one day when we make you Lord of our life. What a treasure you are! Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Congratulations Graduate

Congratulations Ryan!

Your Mom and I are so proud of you. As I reflect back on the years, I remember the comment you made to us the very first time we took you to school (Kindergarten). You said, "Mom, How long do I have to go to school?" and Mom said, " Ryan you've got 12 years of school yet." You said, "I've got to go to school for 12 more years!" We knew it was going to be a long haul!

Here it is... 12 years later and the day is finally here! You made it! Not only did you make it, you have made your Mom and I so proud. Your future ahead of you is so bright. You have become an awesome man and you are kind and thoughtful. You have respect for others. You are so dependable and punctual. You are very honest and can be trusted with anything. I have never seen you late for school or work. That right there is a tremendous quality. Probably the thing that impresses me the most though about you is your love for us as your parents. As your Dad, I have always felt so loved and appreciated by you. You've always enjoyed spending time with me as your Father and you don't know how much I've cherished the times we had together, playing golf or riding the motorcycle. I'm so proud of you and the man that you have become. I look forward to many years of success and happiness for you in your life. I thank God every day that you are my son. Brenda and I have been so blessed and Ryan I commit to keep you uplifted in my prayers everyday as you live life to the fullest. All I can say is.... Thank you Lord for my son Ryan.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

God's timing is always perfect

Today when I got off work, I was sitting in the car getting ready to start it and head home. I suddenly felt lead to go to a friends house and visit him. I've been meaning to go visit him for the last few weeks but for one reason or another I never made the time or had the time to visit. Well today I just had to go see my friend. I knew he was very sick, I just didn't know how sick. His wife had run into me a few times at the store and she had asked me to stop by and see her husband. He had asked about me and he wanted me to come by and visit and maybe play some music for him at his birthday party at the end of May. He really enjoyed listening to my hammered dulcimer and we just enjoyed each others company.

We got to know each other one day when I noticed he was entering the store and he was walking with a very unique cane. I immediately struck up a conversation with him about his cane. He told me he made it! I shared with him my interest in canes and walking sticks because my Dad makes them as well. He shared he had several of these canes and sticks and I told him I had four that my Dad had sent me over the years. We decided to get together and "show and tell" if you will. I met him at his house after I got off work one evening and we inspected each others work and just got to know each other better. I had brought my hammered Dulcimer over and I played some music for him and his wife and he really enjoyed our time together. We became friends and would talk every time we saw each other in the store. He even invited me over one day when his son was in town visiting as he lives out of town. His son also makes canes and again we had a "show and tell" and shared stories and just had a great time visiting and admiring each others canes and sticks.

As I drive to his house I'm getting excited about getting to see him again. He was such a nice man and he reminds me of my dad and I really enjoy being around him especially since my Dad lives in Kansas and I live in Tennessee, we don't get to see each other but about once a year. Visiting with my friend reminds me of home and I really enjoy it. As I drove up the drive way to his house, I felt bad that I hadn't been by sooner. Twice in the last three weeks his wife had asked me to stop by and see her husband, he just wasn't healthy enough to get out much anymore.
I knocked on the door.. No answer! The cars were there so I knew they had to be home. I knocked again. Finally his wife comes to the door. She's been sleeping, she's in her nightgown. She invites me in the house and I ask if her husband is here. She says... you haven't heard? I said heard what. She said Steve, Wilbert passed away Sunday. I felt sick! I was so shocked and deeply saddened with the news. I felt so bad that I didn't get to the house sooner. So many times in the last couple of weeks I said to myself... I need to go see Wilbert, but I never made it there. Maybe tomorrow I'll go. Today when I thought about him, it was different. It was like... You Must Go today! So I went and unfortunately I was too late (by two days).

As I sat there in the living room all kinds of thoughts went through my head. Mostly thoughts of guilt. I apologized for not coming sooner, and his wife was so nice and we talked for about an hour. I have to tell you, her faith has made her strong. His and her faith in God has given her a peace like none I've ever seen. Yes, she deeply misses him, but she also knows that he's with Jesus and she shared it was so fitting that he got to go be with his Mother on Mothers day. She shared that Wilberts mother was such a Godly woman. In that hour as we cried together and laughed together, I tried to make sense of why I didn't get here in time to see him one more time. Why did I not sense or understand that his time was critical and getting short, why didn't I realize that he was that sick. Why?

I don't know why, but I do know that God's timing is always perfect. I trust that and I know that everything works out for good for those that love the Lord. In some ways I wasn't late at all. She was thankful that I came by because she wants me to play the hammered Dulcimer and sing song at his funeral this Thursday. She said he would have loved for me to do that and he loved my music so much, it would bless her heart if I could do that for her. Of course I said Yes! The way I look at it is that I owe Wilbert a song. Why I don't get to play it for him while he's alive, I don't know, but his family will hear Wilbert's song this Thursday and for some reason that I can't explain I feel that God will move in that funeral service. Wilbert's wife does too.

I guess even when things appear to be out of time, out of sync, I can always rest assured that God's timing is always perfect.

Prayer: Dear God, Forgive me for not making time to see Wilbert when I had the chance to see him before he passed away. Thank you though that You did prompt me so clearly today to go to his house. I believe you sent me there today and so does his wife, Lord please comfort Rose and give her the peace and strength that only you can give during such difficult times like this. Thank you for her testimony today, even in her husbands death she's proclaiming her love for You Lord and her thankfulness for the time they had together. Thank you Lord that Your timing is always perfect, even though mine is not. Your love is amazing. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Company I Keep

Passage of Scripture: Psalm 33:1-3

Psa 33:1
REJOICE in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Psa 33:2
Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Psa 33:3
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

I love the sound of music, and obviously God does too. It seems when nothing else will sooth me, music will. As the music and worship leader for our church, I find myself listening to more Christian music more than anything else. However I have discovered through the years that we can honor God through all kinds of music even if it's not of the genre, Christian. What makes the music pure and pleasing to God is the attitude of our heart as we sing or play our music.

One of my best experiences with this was when we did a Thanksgiving service at our Local First Presbyterian church. This service was all about being thankful and about giving thanks. Not only did we play and sing Christian songs throughout the service of course, we also had the opportunity to play some music that our band had created and although the music was more of a Celtic and Appalachian style of music, when we played those songs as a part of our worship it was amazing how God used our music to bless those that heard it.

The verses above tell me that whatever I sing and whatever I play, I should play it to the Lord. It doesn't matter where we are playing, church, coffee shop, cafe, fair grounds, etc. Wherever we play, we play because we enjoy the music and the blessings God has given us as we play together as friends with a common love for music. We love playing together, we love creating new stuff, and we enjoy each others company. God has blessed us and a part of our joy is the ability to play for him as well as for ourselves. We call ourselves "The Company I Keep." There are four of us in our group and we are all four Christians that are involved in our individual churches within our community. God has certainly blessed me with this wonderful opportunity to play His gift of Music that he has placed in my heart with a wonderful group of friends.

Unfortunately, Satan has had his influence on music as well. We have to be on guard to protect ourselves from his influence in the area of music. Just like everything else in this world that God has created and blessed us with, Satan is a lion looking for those that he can devour, and anything good can be manipulated into something bad. It's a shame that something as beautiful as music can be used to deny or defy God, but of course it can.

True joy in music however comes to us when we play skillfully to the Lord. Psalm 33:3 says... Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. True joy comes from God, play for Him and shout with joy. It's that rewarding!

If you are interested in visiting out website and learning more about us, go to and you can listen to some of our music. If you enjoy singing or playing music, then do it all for the Lord and increase you joy and pleasure in your music. May God bless you as you play your tunes unto the Lord!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

When God Calls, We Come

How do we respond when Jesus says come follow me. The answer... We follow Jesus! Jesus had just been baptised and then tempted by Satan, then Jesus starts to preach throughout the land.

Mat 4:17
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Mat 4:18
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
Mat 4:19
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
Mat 4:20
At once they left their nets and followed him.
Mat 4:21
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,
Mat 4:22
and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Every time I read this passage of scripture, I'm always amazed at the way these men simply left all they had and dropped what they were doing and followed Jesus. But then I have to remember who it is that is calling these men. It's God in the flesh! It's not just some man saying come follow me, it's God. When God says come, we come!

Did these men know Jesus? I don't know? Did they know he was the Son of God, I don't know. But none of that mattered did it? When Jesus said come, they dropped what they were doing and they followed. Can you see the power of God in these scriptures? The power of God is so evident here. Jesus didn't ask, "Would you like to follow me?" Jesus said... Come.

Later in the scriptures we read about Peter seeing Jesus walking on the water during a terrible storm. Peter says to Jesus, "Lord if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Then Jesus said, Come. And Peter immediately gets out of the boat and walks on the water to Jesus. We'd like to think that Peter in his strength and obedience walked out on that water, but I believe that the only response Peter had at that moment was to come when commanded by Jesus to come.

If God can speak into existence the heavens and the earth and say "Let there be light" and then there is light, then If God tells you to come... you're going to come.

Our obedience to following God's will is not in and of ourselves, it's our response to God's guidance, direction, and commands in our lives. Our prayers need not be to obey Him in following His will, Our prayers need to be... Dear Lord, tell me what you want me to do and direct my path.

Now, what do you think your response would be if Jesus told you to do something. Would it be one of apprehension, would it be one of delay. I don't believe so. Your only response is one of immediate obedience, just like we see in the scripture we read earlier.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I gave my life to you when you called me to yourself. Lord I ask that you direct my every step, make it clear Lord what you want me to do. In Jesus name I pray. Amen