Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another Birthday

Today I turned 48 years old. I didn't even realize it was my birthday till I got to work this morning and opened my email and noticed a Company generated message that said "Happy Birthday." I think this may be the first time that I have forgotten my birthday (is this a sign of old age???) Now I knew that my birthday was coming up because my Mom and Dad had sent me a card a few days ago (Mom never forgets my birthday), but I'd forgotten all about it today. My wife called me today at work and wished me a happy birthday as well since I had left before she'd gotten out of bed this morning. Seems like everyone remembered but me. It seems strange to me to celebrate my birthday anyway. It's like, "Hey look at me I'm still here so you can give me a gift." Why do we give presents for our birthdays after a certain age? I understand when we're young we're counting the years and growing up, but at 48 years? Give me a break. I usually can't even remember how old I am except that I was born in 1960 so that makes it pretty easy to add up the years otherwise I'd never bother to figure it. What do you give a guy for his 48th birthday besides reading glasses? Well my wife figured it out... she got me one simple gift and I love it. She bought me a "Life is Good" T-shirt with a guy happily riding his motorcycle with a big smile on his face. Now that's livin right there!

You know what? Life is good and my T-shirt reminded me of this today. Just the words say it all. I'm so blessed in many ways. I have a loving wife, two wonderful sons, a beautiful grand daughter, Great parents and in laws, loving friends and family. A very good career and a loving church and Pastor. My health is good and I have sound mind (depends on who you talk to) but aside from all that, "Life is especially Good" when it's eternal. The best birthday present I've ever gotten was the gift of eternal life on the day that I was "Born Again." Now that's a birthday worth celebrating is it not? I hope that you too have received the greatest of all birthday gifts... Eternal life through Jesus Christ, God's Son.

John 1:12-13
(12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What if I blow it?

Witnessing is a scary thing. When we think about going up to a stranger or even a friend and witnessing to them and telling them about God's gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ His Son, well, we know along with that carries much responsibility. After all, we're taking God's message of salvation to someone that desperately needs it. What if they say no? What if I offend them? What if I blow it because I don't know all the answers to their questions? All of these concerns are what prevent us from following through on our call to witness to others. Fear paralyzes us and prevents us from moving forward and from telling the lost about the love of Jesus and spreading the Gospel, the good news that everyone needs to hear. I believe Satan's greatest tactic to try and prevent the delivery of the Gospel is to put FEAR in our hearts and minds.

Our fear however is not from the Lord, it's from Satan. If we have fear it's because we are not confident in our own ability to deliver God's message of hope and that I believe is the real problem. It's not about our ability to answer all the questions. It's not about our ability to speak well. It's not about our ability at all! It's about our willingness to deliver the message. WE CAN'T BLOW IT! It's God's words. It's His message. Our only responsibility is to deliver the message and let God do the rest. When we think it's up to us, we have fear, but when we believe God's in control, we have peace.

When I have those emotions of fear creep up inside of me as I'm about to witness, and I'm afraid I might blow it, I'm always reminded of Jonah. You've got to read the book of Jonah and when you do you will see a man that reluctantly preaches a message of repentance to the Assyrian people in the capital city of Nineveh. Jonah hated these people and God had told him to deliver a message of repentance to the people of this city or He would destroy them. Jonah refused and actually ran away from what God had told him to do. But after spending three days inside the belly of a huge fish, Jonah is again told by God to deliver His message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jonah reluctantly goes to the city and when he arrives he preaches a half hearted message of repentance to the people, then turns and leave the city. What happens next is amazing. His message was heard and spread throughout the whole city. The people of Nineveh realized their sin and repented and God showed His mercy on the people. They were spared God's wrath. You see... Jonah tried to blow it and couldn't! That's the amazing thing about God's message. It's not about how it's delivered. All that matters is that the message was delivered. I'm so thankful that whether people receive Christ or not is not dependant on my expertise and knowledge of the bible. I'm so thankful that whether people receive Christ or not is not dependent on my ability to speak well or answer all their questions they might have. All I have to do is be willing to tell someone about the love of Jesus, and that's not so hard to do when I think about sharing what He's done for me in my life. I have peace, I have joy, and I have comfort in all situations and events in my life because I have Jesus with me through it all. And this peace comes from knowing that I have eternal life because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. When you realize that you have eternal life, then all the stuff that happens to you, is easier to stomach because you know it doesn't go on forever. It's all temporary and when you know that... you can endure because better days are ahead. This is the message that people need to hear. They need to hear the message of hope when they are desperate and don't know where to turn. So don't be afraid to share... you can't blow it. If Jonah tried so little to convince the people to repent and God's word permeated their hearts anyway, imagine what God can do when you simply give it your best. Don't trust in your ability, rather... rely on His, and bodly tell your friend what you know they need to hear. You may help in saving their life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'll Always be There

Sometimes were afraid to start the day because we fear what it brings. Have you ever felt anxiety about what might happen in the day. Maybe it's a court hearing you have to appear at, maybe it's a doctors visit that you're concerned about, maybe it's a new job or new school and today is your first day, maybe today is the first day after the loss of a loved one and you just don't know how your going to do it. These days of uncertainty are the days that we need to have courage and strength to go on and face it.

The good news is that there is nothing that God can't handle so we need to cast our burdens on Him. Go to Him for comfort and peace and seek His council when you're afraid or worried. Just remember... You're not alone! The situation may appear overwhelming, but it isn't. You may wonder how you are going to get through this alone, but you're not alone. God wants to encourage you today. He wants you to know that whatever you are going through, He will be there with you. So as you face your trial today remember this verse of scripture and be encouraged. You're going to make it through!

Isaiah 43:2
"When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Me Again

You know God never tires of hearing from us. Have you ever prayed something like this... "Dear Lord, It's me again..." It like... Here I go again. But the great news is that God always hears us. He even knows what we're going to ask before we ask. He knows how he's going to answer before we ask. He knows the outcome before we ask. He knows everything about us, yes, everything.

Isaiah 65:24
"Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear."

It doesn't matter how lonley you are, how afraid you are, or even how much you are suffering or hurting, God hears you and even answers you before you call out to Him. This is how in tune He is to our lives. What comfort we have in knowing that our God hears and answers us no matter what the struggle. As I read this verse I see the Lord's out reached hand that says... "I'm here, Let Me help!" There is nothing you are going through that is a surprise to God. So the next time you are praying and you begin your prayer with... "It's me again, God. Take comfort in knowing He was waiting for you to call and he's already got the answer you need.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We need each other

You know, God never intended for us to go the road alone. In His great wisdom and plan for us, he made it so we would need each other. When we feel that we can't go on God is pushing us forward and coaching us to keep going on, to keep pressing onward. He requires that our lives be disciplined. He expects us to live holy lives, set apart from the world and it's ways. But God knowing that we are feeble and weak wants us to draw on His strength and then as we grow in our strength we are to help those around us who are weak and struggling.

We must walk right, we must set good examples for others. People are looking at us and watching to see what it looks like to live for Christ. I have to ask myself... "What kind of an example am I for others?" It's important for us to live holy lives because we could be responsible for the lame among us to become dislocated or fall away from holy living. What we do could cause confusion and cause others to be mislead. We must always remember we are a part of the "Body of Christ" and with that comes responsibility to others within the body.

Hebrews 12:12,13
(12) Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, (13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

I'm thankful that God gives us strength to live holy lives, I'm thankful that he expects us to live disciplined lives for Him. I'm thankful that we can depend on each other for help when we struggle. I'm thankful for His church, the body of Christ. May our tired hands and arms be lifted and our feeble weak knees strengthened so that we can make straight paths for our feet. May our Spirit be revived among us.

We need each other.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Alarm Clock

Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night and looked at the alarm clock to see how much time you get to sleep before you have to get up? Isn't it a killer when you wake up only 10 or 15 minutes before the alarm is scheduled to go off? You feel so tired and as you gaze through the darkness at the alarm clock your hoping that you have at least another hour or two to sleep, but No! It's going off in 15 minutes! Ouch that hurts. Now what do you do? Get up or try and catch some sleep real quick? Fifteen minutes goes by real quick when your trying to catch a few more zzzz's. If your still tired I guess you can hit the snooze button a few times to avoid getting out of bed but then your running around like crazy trying to get ready for work so your not late.

The alarm clock... I hate that thing. On the other hand.......

Have you ever been so excited about going on vacation or on a trip that you couldn't wait for the alarm to go off? You would go to bed and set the alarm but you couldn't wait for it to go off so you could get up and get started.

Don't you wish more days were like this? You just can't wait for the alarm to go off so you can go out and begin a new day. Sadly though, many days are like the first example. We're lying there dreading for the alarm to go off because with it comes more hassles, more work, and more issues and we're too exhausted to tackle it all. Are there some things we can do to help transition to more better days than worse days? YES... we can have more days of looking forward to getting up than not. Well, there are some things we can do and for most of us this is where all the problems begin..... WE DON'T GET ENOUGH SLEEP!

Wow, thanks Steve for clearing that all up. "Well, you are welcome." "Hey someone needs to tell you what you already know but you won't do and that is... Get more rest!" You need more sleep. I'll give you three things that you can do that will help you overcome dreading the alarm clock in the morning. It's all about discipline.

I remember my most consistent days were when I was in boot camp in the Army. Lights out at 9 PM. and I was asleep by 9:01 PM because I was exhausted! Lights came back on at 4:45 AM and we heading out to exercise and run by 5:00 AM. We'd exercise and run till about 7:00 AM then it was chow time. We had 15 minutes to eat breakfast and then it was back to work. We'd work till Noon and then we had 15 minutes to eat lunch. We'd go back to work and work till 5:00 PM and then we'd have 15 minute to eat supper. back to work until 8:15 PM then it was showers and prepare or uniforms and boots for the next day. Lights out at 9 PM and that's how every day went. There were no snacks to eat between meals. We only drank milk or juice during our meals... no soda's at all. We worked hard all day so that when we did go to sleep, you wouldn't wake up till the lights came back on at 4:45 AM.

Now think about your routine now.
What do you eat all day long... I don't even want to answer that question. I snack and snack, I drink soda's and rarely drink milk anymore. It's awful.
What do you do all day long... I rarely work out now, but I used to all the time. I stay busy while at work but when I'm home it's off to the couch with a snack in my hand and TV to occupy my time.
When do you go to bed at night? It varies for me each and every night. I might even stay up late watching a movie on TV that I've seen several times in the past, but I just don't want to go to bed yet. It's like I want to enjoy relaxing for just one more hour or something. Then I end up going to bed late and shortening my sleep time.

Eat right, Exercise (work hard), and get your sleep. Those three things are the key to whether you will dread the alarm clock or not. Don't believe me... try it! You'll see. When we develop the discipline to do these three things then we can discipline other areas of our life as well. We can develop a quite time with the Lord and stick with it for a change. Until we get disciplined enough to eat right, exercise, and get our sleep, your days will be rough, tiring, and you'll have no energy to tackle the day or anything in it. Your self esteem is shot and your body begins to fall apart. Now you know where to begin. Sounds easy, and it really is if you'll just do it. The hard part is self discipline. We don't always obey the Lord and He's our Savior, good luck obeying your own set of rules! Instill discipline in your life, and reap the rewards!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You can only do so much

Over the years I've realized one very important truth and that is... I can only do so much! Everyone wants a piece of my time. Work requires a lot of my time, and so does my family. Friends require some and my ministry as well. But when all is said and done... "You can only do so much." You have to set priorities for yourself or you'll go nuts trying to keep up with this demanding schedule that can suddenly overcome you. The next thing you know, there's no time in the day for you. Everyone else has it all. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't be concerned about others, of course we should, but to neglect yourself can make you a frustrated and very tired individual. We all need some time to ourselves, we need down time to think and reflect. We need time to relax and rest some. God gave us the perfect example in the very beginning when he created this world we live in. Genesis Chapter 1 describes all the work that God did each day creating the world as we know it. The light and the heavens and the birds and the trees, everything that we see and know about our world today, God created within 6 days and we pick up in Genesis Chapter 2:1

Gen 2:1-3
(1) Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. (2) And the seventh day God ended His work which He had done. (3) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

God rests and reflects on what He has done, and you know what... He saw that it was good! Can you say that about your life? Can you sit back and rest and say... "My life is good." If not then re-evaluate your priorities. You have to put God first. The rest and peace comes from Him. You've probably had a difficult time saying "No" to everyone around you and you've distributed all your time to others and other things. Sit back and look at your routines and commitments and scale back if you find you have no time left in the day. People will understand, and so will the Lord. My experience has been, when I'm that busy, that time restrained, God gets squeezed out as well. That's never good for us.

Remember... "You can only do so much."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Stay on Track"

When I look at this picture I'm reminded that the train that rides this rail goes only where the track leads it. The train can not turn or deviate in any way. The destination for the train is always the same and unless something horrible happens that would cause the train to derail, otherwise the train will arrive at the tracks predetermined destination sooner or later.

Well it's kind of the same with us as Christians isn't it? There's only one difference between the track the train follows and the track that we follow. We can jump the track if we want to and go anywhere we want. As a follower of Christ we are lead by the Holy Spirit within us, but if we choose not to follow His leading, then we go our own way. We have the ability to obey or not. To make decisions to do what's right or what's wrong.

When I think about a train jumping off the track, well it's usually disasterous. The results are not good. Well if we jump off the track that the Holy Spirit has us on, I'd say the results also are not good. We run the risk of missing out on what God has planned for us. The good news is that we can always get back on track, but usually after a few bumps and bruises. Our goal is to 'Stay on Track." That's the challenge before us. In today's world we're constantly pulled away from this track yet we have the ability within us to stay on track. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin as we jump off track and through this conviction we realize we're not going the right direction anymore. Let me ask you... Are you on track?

Lamentations 3:40
(40) Instead, let us test and examine our ways, Let us turn back to the Lord.