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I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the next few weeks and the church's emphasis on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. There are no more important days on the Christian calendar than these. We must always remember and constantly ask God to impact our spirit with the importance of these days. There is no salvation, no redemption, no forgiveness of sin, no hope for us in this life and no hope of eternal life without embracing the truths of these events in the life of Jesus.

If, or when, a person slips into a careless or indifferent attitude about this season of the year, he is in real trouble. Every one of us needs to crown Jesus Christ King of our lives. Every one of us needs to have our personal Gethsemane where we, too, make a full and entire surrender of our will to the will of God.

As a child of God we are to live as one crucified with Christ, as the Apostle Paul said, so that we no longer govern and control our lives, but Christ lives His life through us. Only then will we come to clearly understand and appreciate what real Christianity is all about.

Religious people do religious things; spiritual people do spiritual things. I said that to say this: We must not just go through the form of religious activity. It would be easy to hang out the typical Easter church banners, bring in the Easter lilies, and revive the same old Easter hymns we have sung for years, and miss entirely the meaning of Easter.  March 2015

Someone once said, "There are a million miles between never and once."  Once you have been through a hurricane you will never forget the sights and the sounds.  People who have not, can only imagine.  Once you have experienced the total loss, the devastation, and the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because your home and everything in it has been destroyed by fire, you will never be able to erase that from your memory.  Others can only imagine.  If you have ever heard the sound of glass breaking in the middle of the night with someone trying to break in, your alarm is going off, the monitoring station is calling, perspiration is running down your face and you are white as a sheet.  You will never forget that experience, but others can only imagine.

The cry of Advent is the cry of watchful vigilance.  John the Baptist's message continues to ring in our ears and hearts: "Are you ready?"  Are you ready to respond to the Infant who came to dwell with us in the midst of human darkness and suffering?  Are you ready to recognize God is with us! Alarming news that cannot be ignored.

The Child who was born in Bethlehem came quietly in the night, totally unknown by many who were reveling and partying in the inn only a few hundred feet away.  He came to offer abundant life.  You and I know all about that.  Others can only imagine.  December 2014

When the mess is cleaned up, and the company is gone, the Thanksgiving goes on.  People who are not part of the traditional Thanksgiving Day celebration can't understand all the fuss. Once again the entire emphasis on counting our blessings and giving thanks is foreign to them.  I was talking with some vacationers from England and they were telling me they have no such holiday in England, but they enjoy coming over here and joining in ours.

It has been called "an attitude of gratitude."  Everyone appreciates a word of commendation or credit for a job well done.  I know I do! When people speak that way, it makes you feel that the effort, the time and expense were worthwhile.  If you don't hear anything, you begin to think that maybe you won't do it again — perhaps it's not worth it.

The Bible teaches us that we are to be given to hospitality.  And we are to do whatever we do not to please men, but we do it as unto the Lord.  The commendation and appreciation from people is wonderful and as it should be, but we look for our rewards when this life's journey is over and we hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Our lifestyle ought to be Thanks-Living and not just thanksgiving.  Show your appreciation.  Do your deeds of kindness.  Write your letters of praise for a job well done.  To think them is one thing; to put those thoughts into words and appropriate action is far better.  Your friends are not mind readers. Good intentions will not get you very far.  Do what is meaningful and express your gratitude.  You will be a better person for doing so.   November 2014

I am utterly amazed at how many times and in how many situations we as believers do just the opposite from what we ought to do according to Word of God.  For instance, nowhere does Scripture tell us to confront someone who has been wounded, but we do it all the time.  It tells us instead to love them.

Even when it comes to admonition, we are told to reserve that for those who are unruly or rebellious (I Thess. 5:14).  If you want to talk about hurt, just look at the model of hurt.  Job gave us clear advice about approaching those who are hurting when he said, "For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friends; lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty." (Job 6:14 NASB)

Far too often the church confronts hurting people about their pain and what they did or did not do, instead of treating them with kindness and compassion.  It has been said, "We are the only group that shoots its wounded."

There is no sin in feeling pain.  Job heard that from his so called friends.  They wanted him to believe that he must have done something wrong or he wouldn't be going through what he was experiencing.  That was not only the wrong thing to say to him, but it was also not true. You read the latter part of the book of Job and find out how God dealt with those so called friends because of their accusation.

Job was an innocent victim of circumstances.  Tragic events took place in his life.  It was not sin in his life; it was enormous loss that caused his pain.  To blame a victim for his pain is a sin against the wounded, against the brokenhearted, against the oppressed, and against God Himself, Whose heart is filled with compassion for those who hurt.

As believers, we need to get our act together, get into the Word, and begin to live the life we claim to have.  October 2014

Jim Rohn seems to be an endless source of wisdom.   Listen to what he has to say.   "What we ponder and what we think about sets the course of our entire life.   Any day we wish, we can discipline ourselves to change it all.   Any time we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge.   At any time, any day, we can start a new activity.   Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change.   We can do it immediately, or we can do it next week, or next month, or next year.   It is all up to us."

We can also decide to do nothing.   We can go through life pretending rather than living.   If the thought of changing ourselves makes us uncomfortable, we can remain exactly the way we are.

You see, God gave us the awesome right of choice.   As a matter of fact, we are today the sum total of the choices and decisions we have already made.   If you don't like what is happening in your life, you can change it.   Nothing is cast in bronze and, therefore, unchangeable. You can choose to believe God for better things. You can choose confidence over doubt if you will.   Choices are ours to make!

Trust in the Lord and then choose to trust Him.   Trust Him with your life, your physical condition, your marriage, your children, your employment.   We have both the ability and the responsibility to make better choices beginning today.   It starts with making the decision to become a better person yourself by giving your life to God and to His work.   A better you will make a tremendous difference in the lives of so many, and both you and God will be pleased with the outcome.  September 2014

There is a tremendous amount of "self-help" material flooding the market today and that is not a bad thing.  I believe we all ought to apply ourselves to becoming better all the time.  A better person makes for a better husband, a better wife, a better teenager, a better church member, a better employee, etc.  If there is anything we can do about our personal development, we ought to do it, not only for our sake, but for those we love and associate with on an ongoing basis.

When I personally speak of self-help, I am referring to my allowing God to work on me, in me, and through my life so as to make a positive impact on others.  We all have to face and conquer fear and trepidation.  Everybody has moments when they are feeling down and agitated about things and that is normal.

Some people seem to stay down and wallow in self-pity and look for joiners.  You dare not stay there.  You can lift yourself up and out of the doldrums if you simply apply a few basic principles.

First, get your eyes off the problem and onto the Problem Solver.  If your focus is totally and entirely on yourself and your situation, you are limiting yourself to what you can or cannot do.  If you have funnel vision everything gets smaller and smaller unless you turn the funnel around and get a broader view of things.

Learn from what you are going through.  Use it to become a better person. The only difference between the word "better" and the word "bitter" is the letter "i."  The outcome will depend totally and entirely on what you do in your situation.  People around you will also be affected by the choices you make.  Always remember, you may not always be able to do what you want, but you can always do what it right.  August 2014

I just read once again from I Corinthians 13.   That is the chapter that is called the "love" chapter of the Bible. I was again reminded of the lasting value of love.   Remember how it reads?  "There are three things that remain, faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love."

Years ago, John Oxenham wrote this poem:

Love ever gives, forgives, outlives,
And ever stands with open hands,
And while it lives, it gives.
For this is love's prerogative -
to give, and give, and give.
Love is so much more than a sentiment and even more than a feeling.  It's a commitment of one imperfect person to another.  It's a choice. It's a byproduct of growth and maturity.  It is a gift from God.  It also needs to be learned.  We learn it from loving people who know us totally—weaknesses, frailties, and shortcomings—and still love us.  We also learn it from others who model it.  The supreme example of love is the Lord Jesus.

We always need to do the loving thing even when we don't feel very loving.   Remember the prayer of John Powell: "Please don't let me die without having fully lived and fully loved."  June 2014

Well, here we are ready to celebrate a long Memorial Day weekend.  I never want to be a spoil sport, but we do need to be reminded on occasion what the day is all about.  It is a national day of remembrance, a day to remember all those who gave their lives so that we can go on living ours.

It has been said, and rightly so, that wars are not fought with poster board and ink, but with the precious blood of the finest young men and women among us.  I have pondered many times about how poor we are as a nation because of the losses we have suffered because of our battles.

The lives of the most promising among us who, had they had the chance to do so, would have been school teachers, doctors, engineers, politicians, pastors, college professors, etc., but for the cause of freedom and liberty and justice for all, they gave up their dreams and ambitions.  In doing so, they have left a hole in our society that cannot and will not be filled.

The Bible says, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."

No matter what you are doing this week-end, on Monday, take a moment to remember and the pray for the families of all those we have lost. If they were willing to give their lives, we ought to be willing to give them the moments they deserve.  May 2014

Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him Who died for thee;
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity!

Crown Him the Lord of love.
Behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his wondering eye
At mysteries so bright!

Crown Him the Lord of life
Who triumphed o'er the grave
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die.

April 2014

God's plan for you  is that you love Him with all your heart.  Put that love into action.  We must remember that the Christian life is not so much what we do for God — it is what we allow God to do in us and through us.

Lifestyle is so important for the believer.  The world is watching you and listening to you.  The Bible calls us "Epistles known and read by all men." We live in unity and in the bond of peace with all other believers regardless of their pedigree.  It makes little if any difference what you call yourself as a Christian.  The name of your church doesn't matter.  Your denominational affiliation matters not.  Church is a matter of personal preference and nothing else.  You may like it loud, you may like it soft, you may prefer hell-fire and brimstone preaching, or you may like Bible teaching lecture style.  If you attend a church with candles, choir, and robed clergy, that's fine — if you know and love Jesus. Your church services may be structured and liturgical or unstructured, informal, and spontaneous. That's wonderful — if you know and love Jesus.

Don't allow the church name or denominational affiliation, the type of service or worship style get in the way of your loving the Lord with all your heart and serving Him with gladness.  March 2014

Someone once said, "Smile....people will wonder what you're up to!"  A long time back, I had a friend I met for coffee almost every morning. We looked forward to our time of sharing together. It was really fun. We were about the same age and the only obvious difference between us was that I was a believer and he was not.

He had not as yet embraced Christianity but felt comfortable enough around me to talk freely about it. I will never forget one thing he said to me. Putting his coffee cup down, he looked me squarely in the eye one day and said, "You Christians are way too happy for me. That kind of happiness is always scary." He couldn't figure it out, so it made him really suspect. Until you have experienced the joy of the Lord in your life, you can't appreciate what it's all about.

You see, he lived "under the circumstances" or controlled by the daily grind and pressures of every day. He always said, "You act like you don't have a care in this world." Well, to tell you the truth, if we would learn to do what the Bible tells us to do, we wouldn't have a care in this world because we would have "cast all our cares on Him" and allowed Him to take care of them.

The joy of your relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son should make you one of the happiest people around. The Bible says, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." Your attitude around other people ought to draw them to the one thing that has made you different....and we know Who that is!  March 2014

I don't know how many times  I have completely blown it when it comes to taking pictures.  Oh, I have decent equipment; that is not the problem.  The problem is me.  What I have to say today about photography is also applicable to life in general, and the Christian's life in particular.

I don't know how many times I have taken a picture paying no attention to what was behind the people or person I was taking.  So much mess or clutter, distracting, and spoiling the entire picture.  Or, when trying to take something at a distance, I fail to take note of what is up close that may be in the way and spoil the shot.

Talking to a friend some time ago I was made to realize that all of that can be a personal problem, as well.  Some people are so focused on that which is immediate that they pay no attention to what happened in the background.   Some pay so much attention to that background they miss what is up close and important right now.

We need to learn to live in the moment.  To make the best of right now.  We need to learn how to put the background stuff into proper context and not allow it to spoil the right now.

There is so little we can do about what is back there.  We can't ever change that.  Why all the attention on what was, when there is so much beauty and excitement all around us every day?  Precious memories, how they linger, and they are wonderful, but that is all they are.  Don't forget, God gave you today to focus on and with God's help you can make something beautiful develop that will touch the lives of others and make a real difference.  Focus!  January 2014

The mess is cleaned up, and the company is gone, but the Thanksgiving goes on.  People who are not part of the traditional Thanksgiving Day celebration can't understand all the fuss. Once again the entire emphasis on counting our blessings and giving thanks is foreign to them.  I was talking with some vacationers from England and they were telling me they have no such holiday in England, but they enjoy coming over here and joining in ours.

It has been called "an attitude of gratitude."  Everyone appreciates a word of commendation or credit for a job well done.  I know I do!  When people speak that way, it makes you feel that the effort, the time and expense were worthwhile.  If you don't hear anything, you begin to think that maybe you won't do it again — perhaps it's not worth it.

The Bible teaches us that we are to be given to hospitality.  And we are to do whatever we do not to please men, but we do it as unto the Lord.  The commendation and appreciation from people is wonderful and as it should be, but we look for our rewards when this life's journey is over and we hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Our lifestyle ought to be Thanks-Living and not just thanksgiving.  Show your appreciation.  Do your deeds of kindness.  Write your letters of praise for a job well done.  To think them is one thing; to put those thoughts into words and appropriate action is far better.  Your friends are not mind readers. Good intentions will not get you very far.  Do what is meaningful and express your gratitude.  You will be a better person for doing so.  November 2013

As I reflect on Thanksgiving,  I am made to realize that being grateful is something that should be natural for any believer, but I'm afraid for many it doesn't come easy.  When you think about it, it is those very things, the ones we have to work at, that require our full attention and constant diligence.  If I know full well I have an area in my life that is not all it ought to be, I must not ignore it, but dedicate myself and commit myself and all my energies to changing it.

Everyone, including myself, wants to experience as much joy and satisfaction in life as possible.  What we fail to understand or do not realize is that you can create it.  What do I mean by that?  You run the affairs of your life.  You must not allow someone else's opinions or attitudes, actions or reactions to negatively impact you.  You choose to maintain a positive outlook on life; you need to keep a proper perspective on things.  You take responsibility for what happens in your life and do not allow someone else to do that.  Neither your work, your school, your neighbors, nor your church should hold that kind of control over you.

Develop an attitude of gratitude.  Work at it.  Practice it, until it becomes second nature to you.  Be willing to challenge yourself to become a bigger and better person.  Beef up the areas of weakness.  Tone down any trait or characteristic in your life that is overdone.  You do this for your good and everybody else's benefit.  You take charge of your life.  With God's help you can be an overcomer and rise above the rest.  Allow no man, no job, no situation, no circumstance in life to reduce you to anything less than God's absolute best.  November 2013

A delicate balance always exists  between standing still and moving forward, between waiting and walking, between prayer and acting. A danger to avoid is the tendency to allow prayer to become a substitute for work.  Prayer is not the ultimate end of the Christian life.  The ultimate end of the Christian life is to bear fruit and glorify God.  Prayer is simply a means to that end.  Prayer is essential and prayer is good, but unless we rise from our knees to obediently follow the Lord, prayer is meaningless.
God ordered Moses and the children of Israel to move forward!
"Move forward?" the people replied timidly.
"That's right, move forward!"
"But God, there is a great big sea in our way.
Can't you see the water, God?"
They were right — a sea stood directly in their path.  Yes, God saw it.  But God didn't want the Israelites to see the sea; He wanted them to see Him. He wanted His people to see what He could do.  The only way they could see His greatness and power was when they moved forward!

A defining moment was about to take place for Moses and the Israelites. The Red Sea was an impossible barrier for them to cross. They would move forward in faith, the sea would part, and this story would be told from one generation to the next.  The Israelites would forever say, "Remember the Red Sea."

That story can be a defining moment for us, as well.  It gives us instructions as to what to do when faced with an impossibility.  We all have our "Red Sea" experiences!  At those times, we have the opportunity to allow fear to turn to faith and cowardice to turn to courage.  When we move forward we learn God's power is given in direct proportion to our obedience.  November 2013

The words ring over and over again  in our inner ears, "Fear not.  Fret not.  Be anxious for nothing.  Let not your heart be troubled, only believe; all things are possible to them that believe."  And with all of that, people are still uptight and restless, fearful and frustrated.  Most are anxious over things that may happen.  The world scene today promotes that kind of lifestyle.  People are upset and they don't even know why.

This week marks the twelfth anniversary of the events of 9/11 and deep inside there are a whole lot of people who are on edge waiting for the next shoe to drop — the next hit, another disaster.

Listen to the words of Jesus Himself, "Peace I give unto you.  Not as the world giveth give I unto you.  My peace I leave with you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  To worry and fret over something over which we have no control is an exercise in futility.

Do something a lot more productive with your heart and your mind.  Put your trust in God and in His mercy and grace.  Don't wring your hands; fold them together in prayer with the rest of us for our best young men and women who are defending your life and mine every day.

Let the peace of God rule and reign in your heart.  Relax and offer unto the Lord thanksgiving and praise for His goodness, His loving kindness, His mercy and grace.  Put a smile on your face and be an example of the believer in all you do and say.  You show everyone around you what it is like when a person will put his trust in God.  Fear not.  September 2013

A generous spirit is a joyous spirit!  Paul praised the Corinthian believers not only for their giving, but especially for their "cheerful" giving.  Though the churches in Macedonia had been going through much trouble and hard times, "their wonderful joy and deep poverty...overflowed in rich generosity."   It could all be said this way:

I have never known a generous person to complain about how much money it takes to maintain a church or fellowship.

Poor givers gripe about how much it takes; while generous and consistent givers continue to express concerns that they don't do nearly enough and wish they could do more.

I have never known a generous family or individual who is not genuinely happy.

I have never known a stingy, miserable person, even a church member, who is not generally unhappy about a lot of things in life.

I have never known a person who was critical most of the time about most everything, and sad about so many things, who at the same time was gracious and generous.

God not only wants us to worship and praise Him, He wants us to enjoy Him. "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Joy is more than a sense of the comic, more than earthly pleasure, and to a believer even more than what we call happiness.   Joy is the enjoyment of God and all the good things that come from the gracious and liberal hand of a very generous and loving God.   August 2013

Count Your Blessings

I've never made a fortune, and it's probably too late now;
But I don't worry about that much, I'm happy anyhow.
And as I go along life's way, I'm reaping better than I sowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer, 'cause my cup has overflowed.

Havenít got a lot of riches, and sometimes the goingís tough;
But Iíve got loving ones around me, and that makes me rich enough.
I thank God for His blessings, and the mercies Heís bestowed.
Iím drinking from my saucer, Ďcause my cup has overflowed.

I remember times when things went wrong, my faith wore somewhat thin.
But all at once the dark clouds broke, and the sun peeped through again.
So, Lord, help me not to gripe about the tough rows I have hoed.
Iím drinking from my saucer, Ďcause my cup has overflowed.

If God gives me strength and courage when the way grows steep and rough,
Iíll not ask for another blessing; Iím already blessed enough.
And may I never be too busy to help others bear their load.
Then Iíll keep drinking from my saucer, Ďcause my cup has overflowed.

—Author Unknown

When I think of how many people in this world have it worse than I do,
I realize just how blessed most of us really are.  July 2013

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

May 2013

To be a follower of the Lord Jesus requires  independent and courageous thinking and action.  Sometimes it will be against the majority opinion; sometimes it will be a stand in an opposite position.  Often it will require a resistance of what is known as the wisdom of the crowd.

The apostle Paul reminds us of the methods of God's choosing, and it is not based on credentials or qualifications, but entirely on one's devotion to Christ.  Francis Schaeffer used to say, "There are no little people in God's eyes."

We are to constantly lay hold of what has been done for us and learn to rest in God's provision, wisdom and care.  We rejoice in the fact that God deliberately and intentionally chooses the unlikely, the outcasts, and the least among us, totally disregarding titles of power, success, and wisdom in a world with very different scales.

When He said, "Whosoever will may come," He included you and me and I think that is terrific.  Accept God's invitation to come into fellowship with Jesus and enjoy a brand new life.  May 2013

It is certainly wonderful to realize  that as Christians we can celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and come to an understanding that without it, we are without hope.  It is sad when you think about how many people around you have no comprehension whatsoever about what Easter is really all about.  The fact is, their lives are living proof and adequate evidence that they just don't get it.

As a child of God we not only celebrate Easter as a holiday every year, we live Easter every day.  The power of the resurrected Christ is our moment by moment motivation and our ability to live the life God intended us to live.  We have received life from the Giver of life.  We enjoy the fellowship we have with God the Father through Jesus Christ His risen son.  We are blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit who is within us to make our risen Savior more and more real.  He opens the eyes of our redeemed spirit and causes us to be able to grasp spiritual truths.  He causes the Word of God to become a living book to us, one whose pages we consider precious.

It is an exciting and rewarding journey.  Our walk with God is an adventure like no other.  We not only know about Him, we enjoy His presence every day.  There is a lot of comfort and assurance in one's life when he knows by experience and by relationship that he is in a union with the God of the universe because of Calvary and the risen Savior.

No religious activity, church attendance, or formal worship can come even close in comparison to a vital and vibrant relationship with Him through Jesus our risen Lord.  I trust and pray that you know the difference and you have chosen to accept the Lord as your personal Savior and turn your life over to Him so you, too, can live in resurrection power.."  March 2013

One of the absolute favorite pictures I have  is called "The Laughing Jesus."  It has often been a real conversation piece.  I have come to understand that many people never think of Him or picture Him with a smile on His face.  That is sad!  I believe that when Jesus became one of us, taking a human nature, He also became able to laugh, as well as to suffer and die.

When I think about the human side of Jesus as He mixed it up with His disciples on a daily basis, and when He made a fire on the beach and had breakfast ready for some weary fishermen, I believe He really enjoyed life and living.  I see Him frolicking in the shallow water, and playing some sort of sport on the sandy beach with His closest friends.  He took life by the horns and lived it to the full.

Yes, there were a lot of serious times in His life.  Yes, indeed, He faced challenges, and He tackled some very hard issues with some of the learned and authoritative figures of His day.  He was never afraid of people or position.  I picture Him enjoying Himself as a child debating and discussing religious issues with the gray heads in the temple.

Just take a few minutes and recall how many times He talked about sharing His kind of joy with those who would follow Him.  He wanted His joy in them, He wanted them full of that joy, and He wanted it to be permanent.

In the church, we make a distinction between "happiness" and joy.  Happiness has everything to do with what is happening in your life at the moment.  If it is something that makes you happy, that is wonderful.  But there are lots of things that happen in life that do not produce happiness. Lots of things happen in life that cause a person to be sad.

But joy is different.  It has nothing to do with what is happening in life, nothing to do with your circumstances or your present situation.  Joy is the result of a right relationship with God.  We can know the joy of the Lord smack dab in the middle of some terrible thing that is taking place and it is that joy that gives us strength to carry on in spite of what is happening on the surface of our day to day life — and Jesus intended it to be that way.  When things have turned your world upside down, the joy that Jesus gives will keep you strong and faithful.
January 2013

I wonder as I consider  all that is taking place in preparation for Christmas, how many people all around us miss the point entirely.  I find it a little odd that people would say at least with their lips that it is the birthday of Jesus, but in their activity and frenzied pace we hear little and see even less of Him wherever we look.

We have joined in a special effort to "Keep Christ in Christmas" but when we talk about it, few seem even interested.  The story is told of a little boy who had attended Sunday school and heard the story of Jesus and how He came into the world.  He was told that Christmas was the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.  On Christmas morning he awakened early and looked at every package under the Christmas tree and all upset he went into his parents' bedroom crying.  When they calmed him down they asked what had made him so unhappy and he said, "I thought it was Jesus' birthday, but there isn't a single present under the tree for Him."

That reminds me of something that happened in December of 1903.  After many, many attempts, finally the Wright brothers were successful in getting their "flying machine" off the ground.  Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine, "We have actually flown 120 feet.  Will be home for Christmas."  Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message.  He glanced at it and said, "How nice.  The boys will be home for Christmas."  He totally missed the big news — man had flown!

In all we do over the next few weeks, let's not miss the big news, "Our Savior has come and there can now be peace on earth...one person at a time."  December 2012

Have you ever seen an artesian well?   Fascinating, isn't it?  Without any effort it flows and continues to flow.  I think that is what Jesus had in mind about the Christian life when He said, "If you are not satisfied with what is going on in your life right now, and if you will come to Me and believe in Me, out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." John 7:38

In the last few months the Lord has allowed me to see and be involved with so many people who are living their lives on empty.  Their spiritual life is as dry as a desert.  There is no artesian well.  At best, there is but a trickle.  Disappointment and dissatisfaction are etched all over their faces.  A sour attitude and negativity flows from deep within.  The Bible says, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh."  Whatever fills the heart is what comes out in our speech and in our behavior.

If you are a believer, I encourage you to "come to the river" today!  Don't put it off any longer!  Allow a fresh flow of the Spirit of God to bathe your soul and spring up within you like an artesian well.  November 2012

The squirrel is a fascinating little creature.  I love to watch them.  They are determined.  When I put up a bird feeder, I am convinced they are sitting in the shadows somewhere watching and waiting for me to finish.  Only moments after I finish, they are right there to see what they have to do to get at the food.  They will try anything to accomplish their mission.  They are real risk takers.  I have watched them hang upside down in order to reach the food area.  They will go so far as to shake the feeder until the food drops onto the ground and then enjoy their meal.

The one thing about squirrels that bothers me is their tendency to be indecisive.  Many of them have lost their lives to oncoming traffic because they ventured out into the street to cross, but then, sensing the closeness of the cars bearing down on them, they try to return to where they came from, and by that time it is usually too late.  If only they had kept on going.  They may not have realized it, but they were closer to the other side than they were to where they started.

In a lot of ways, we should be like the squirrel.  They are a determined bunch.  They try and try again until they succeed.  They are risk takers. They seldom quit.

We too are sometimes indecisive, and because we are we get into trouble.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.  September 2012

I wonder if all of us realize that by and large we all face a lot of the same kind of things in life.  The Bible says, "A man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward."  Going through a difficult time or situation should not be surprising to any of us.  Jesus reminds us that in this life we will face tribulation.  The Bible tells us we need to fight the good fight of faith, endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

It is not so much that we go through difficulty, tragedy, or heartache; how we go through it is the real issue.  The words of a song by Andre Crouch say, "Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God."  Learning to trust is such a vital part of the Christian's life.  If we didn't go through those times, how would we ever learn to trust God and lean on His Word?

One of the real challenges we face is learning from what we go through so that we need not go through it again.  We must come to grips with the fact that God has a plan for each of us and is working out His will and good pleasure in our lives.  He is going to continue to deal with us until "Christ is formed in us."  He speaks, but not many are listening to His still small voice.  He shows us His greatness and His kindness in so many ways, but we soon forget about it and go on our way.

I constantly hear people complaining and asking, "Why me?  Why now?" And the question we should be asking is not "why" but "what?"  "What is it, Lord, You are working out in my life?  What area of my life needs attention?  What are You showing me that I need to do something about?"  We should be thankful for every difficulty that comes our way, because it is another opportunity for God to reveal Himself further to us.  The Bible calls them "momentary trials of our faith" that are working for our eternal good.  September 2012

Mother Teresa wrote these words, "There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than there is for bread."  How true!

That is why the Bible tells us, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given us."  That means God, who is love, is in us and wants to be heard, felt, and known through us.  That is only possible because the Spirit of God has come to dwell in us as a result of our salvation experience.

I like to put it this way.  In human terminology I would say, "God planned it all, Jesus provided it all, and the Holy Spirit promotes it all." The plan and purpose of God is to be worked out in our daily living.  Remember, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."

To insure the success of the plan, Jesus said, "When I get back to heaven, I will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit that He may dwell in you and promote the work of Jesus through you."

The first work of the Spirit of God in us is to renew our minds.  We need to think and act and speak as God would have us.  God wants your life and mine to reveal to those around us the thrill and satisfaction there is in living as new creatures in Christ.

You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.  If they are looking for God, they should be able to see Him in you.  They should hear Him in your words and feel the warmth of His love through you.  That, my friend, is the mission we are on, and in comparison, everything else is trivial.

Allow that which is now real and genuine about you to convince those around you that it really does pay to know and live for the Lord.  If the world is hungry for love, let's provide it for them.  September 2012

Psalm 138:8 says, "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me."  What a tremendous promise from God's Word!  Think about it.  God is doing a perfecting work in the lives of those who know Him and humbly trust Him.  This is an absolutely priceless promise from the Old Testament that is repeated for us in the New.  In Philippians 1:6 we are told, "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it."

Our God has pledged to fully accomplish His will and His plans in every matter that pertains to us.  Whether it is growth in Biblical insight, development in godliness, progress in our marriage, the raising of our children, or whatever, "The Lord will perfect that which concerns us."

If we are only giving minimal attention to His Word, we know full well He wants us to grow in that area so we will indeed become "a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth."  If we will humbly feed on God's Word, seek Him for spiritual insight, He will perfect that area of our lives.

If we care about the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven, we will ask Him to continue His perfecting work in us.  Make it your prayer that God will forgive you for attempting to perfect yourself and then step aside and allow the transforming work of God to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.  September 2012

Oswald Chambers said, "The call of God is like the call of the sea to the sailor.  Only he who has the nature of the sea within can hear the call."  When you and I become believers and we have that new nature within us, we too can hear and answer the call of God.  A man who is "born to be a sailor" hears in his inner being the call of the sea and never rests until he answers that call and sets his sails on the high seas.

Some Christians seem never to hear that call of God because their life is so full of so much other stuff.  They are easily distracted and just as easily sidetracked by secular issues and demands on their time and energies.  One gentleman I know very well will tell you again and again that God had to put him in the hospital and flat on his back for a period of time to make him slow down long enough to hear His call.

The words of a poem I heard long ago used to haunt me something terrible.  "If I should stand before the Master (Jesus Christ) today, would I empty handed be?"  Every time I hear those words I remember how I struggled with the idea of answering the call of God to some kind of ministry.

Yes, indeed, the call of God is like the call of the sea to the sailor.  God calls each and every one of us to first accept his Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord and to receive His forgiveness and the gift of eternal life, then prepare to answer His call to serve.  Some will serve in the local church and some will serve just being a good neighbor.  Others will accept the call of God to be a missionary, a pastor, a teacher, a local leader in politics, a business man.  Some will be called to be a wife, a husband, a parent — whatever it is, we are to seek God for guidance and direction and become the very best we can be in the place God has called us.  When He calls you, He will also make a way for you and for your calling.  He never calls without providing what is necessary to fulfill that calling.

Open our ears, Lord, and teach us to listen for that still small voice calling.  August 2012

I have often thought about the Apostle Paul and what he left us as now oft-quoted instructions, "Do not worry about anything."  He had every reason to be anxious about everything — in prison and facing days of unquestionable difficulties and circumstances out of his control. When the things of this world pile on and we are under pressure, the last thing we want to hear is, "Don't worry about it."

The medical profession tells us that in situations like that people often experience "panic attacks."  Things are happening around them, in them, and to them over which they have no control, and panic sets in.  Paul must have had something he was holding on to that was solid, unshakable, and unchanging.

"The Lord is near," he wrote from a jail cell.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4: 5-7)

There is no mention by the Apostle Paul that we will not see dark days or sorrows.  He certainly wasn't able to avoid them and neither could Jesus escape them.  But he does promise that there is good reason to hope in the best and the worst of times.  The Lord, Who is near, has overcome the world in which we find so much trouble.

When you are in Christ you can be thoroughly stilled by His presence.  His victory gives us life, and offers us peace that transcends everything that is going on.  If you do not know Him, you need to turn your life over to Him and find " peace in the midst of the storm."  August 2012

I find it really interesting as I am reading the Bible how God Himself engages man in conversation.  When I read that it sounds very much like any other conversation between friends.  The thing I find most interesting is the fact that the man in the conversation is allowed to question God.  If he is not questioning God, he is complaining to God about what is or is not going on in his life.

Moses saw the bush burning with fire, but not being consumed.  He watches as his shepherd's staff is changed into a serpent and then changed back again.  He sees his own hand become leprous and then healed of leprosy.  When God asks Moses to be a leader for Him, he questions God repeatedly in their conversation. "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"  Moses asks.  "And what shall I say to them when they ask me, 'What is God's name?'   What if they don't believe me, or listen to what I say?"

Catch this now.  And Moses said, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.  Please, Lord, send someone else to do it."

It actually looks like these conversations are going very poorly.  God isn't very successful in terms of persuasion and Moses continues to make excuses rather than showing the highest respect to the One he is engaging in conversation.

I believe this kind of conversation is recorded to demonstrate just how easy it is to talk with God.  We need not hold back any thought or feeling.  We must not be afraid of offending Him.  As the conversation between God and Moses ends, we are told in Exodus 33:11, "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend."  Perhaps we get too hung up on the word and the practice of prayer, when what we really need is a willingness to engage God in meaningful conversation.  Could it be that the way we talk with God reveals the depth of our friendship?  August 2012

Our God is an Awesome God in the things we take for granted.  Always the same timing in the little things.  For example:
  • the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days;
  • those of the canary in 14 days;
  • those of the barnyard hen in 21 days;
  • the eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days;
  • those of the mallard in 35 days;
  • the eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days.
Notice, they are all divisible by seven, the number of days in a week!

God's wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant.  The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction.   No other quadruped is so made.  Too large to live on two legs, God's plan gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.  The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first.  A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first.  Each one has its way to do what it does.   Whatever the Lord makes is always very efficient.  He is a God of ORDER.

  • Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind.
  • Each orange has an even number of segments.
  • Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.
  • Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains.
  • Every bunch of bananas grows with an even number of bananas on the bottom row.  Each row up decreases by one.  The next row has an odd number and the next row an even number and so forth.  It never varies.
  • The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six waves to the minute, no matter if calm or stormy.

All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, just as the Lord specified: thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and a hundredfold! (Mark 4:20)   God has caused the flowers to blossom at specified times during the day.  Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!

If everything on this earth were analyzed in this way, we would SEE the Lord in it, every bit of it!  When we let our lives be ordered by Him, He can make ALL the things work out for us, things that we can't.  Wisdom prays and asks Him for help, to make our life "WORK."  The One Who made our brain and heart is also able to successfully guide us to a profitable end.

May God bess you in ways you never even dreamed of, today, tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come!  July 2012

As far back as I can remember, the Fourth of July was a celebration of family, fun, parades, visiting the cemetery with a new flag and flowers to be placed on or near the headstone of a loved one.  Some spots we visited were to remember those who had served their country either in peace time or in war.  Many of them had paid the supreme price for our freedom.

I can still remember how proud we were to stand when the Honor Guard presented the American flag in all its splendor and with lifted voice we recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  Then with a school band playing, we would sing "God Bless America."   Those are fond memories of growing up in this country in a different time than these.

Politicians used to remind us of our greatness as a nation.  They always told us it was God and country.  It was always in that order.  They recognized that our greatness was directly attributed to the way we honored God and put Him at the center of our national affairs.

Political correctness has just about ruined everything we used to call sacred and precious.  All is not lost, however.  In the Bible we are given a promise from God.  In II Chronicles 7: 14 it says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

That, my friend, is the only way back to the way it used to be.  July 2012

I quote a great motivational speaker, who said,  "You won't be able to commit to anything if you try to commit to everything."  It is so true that many people have so many irons in the fire that they can't make a decent contribution to any one single thing.  It would be far better to be willing to say no to the things that are not really important or necessary.  Life can become too complicated if we just dabble in a lot of stuff.

We need to carefully select what we are going to be committed to.  Make a careful and prayerful decision and make sure what you are committing to is also going to add to your life and not deplete it.  See to it that it also brings additional value and virtue to your life.  I refuse to contribute to anything any more that does not also benefit or support me and my cause.  I believe that is being a good steward.

Life is full of all sorts of wonderful opportunities and causes, but there is no need to just reach out and grab something that happens by. Every single day is a precious gift from God and must not be wasted on trivia or secondary causes that return nothing.

That is why I am a firm believer in making a full and complete commitment to Jesus Christ and to the cause for which He was willing to die. Everybody ought to know Him and experience His love.  There is no higher calling than to make a life long commitment to Jesus and telling others about Him.  April 2012

Understanding Your Salvation  

Colossians 2:13-14 — "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross."

Living in sin is a condition known as spiritual death.  Ephesians 2:1 says, "And you hath He quickened (caused to come alive) who were dead in trespasses and sins."  If a person is dead, it is over for him and he is unable to help himself.  So it is in spiritual death, but Christ, through His sacrificial death hath (already done) quickened us, or caused us to be become alive spiritually.  According to the Word, He, Jesus, has obtained for us a legal pardon of all that would or could be held again us.  ALL the charges against were nailed to the cross, according to Colossians 2:14b.

If there is any sin so filthy or so vile that it would make us unacceptable to God, then the cross of Christ is insufficient to meet our needs. Furthermore, if the cross isn't good enough to take care of the sin problem, then the Bible is wrong when it says God forgave all our sins. That means all past sins, the present sins and the future sins.  When God did that, He took away all of Satan's power to condemn us (Romans 8:1).  Too often, the enemy wants us to revisit and relive the sins of the past.  When we do that, we begin to think that the things we did were so horrible, so inexcusable, so terrible, that we will begin to wonder, question or doubt that we will ever feel totally forgiven, totally accepted in the beloved, or have even become a new creature in Christ.

Look at this meaning of the word "reconciliation" from Webster's Dictionary.  It means, "to make friendly again; to settle a quarrel; to bring into harmony; to make peace again."  So, reconciliation means those who were enemies have become friends.  In Colossians 1:21-23a, Paul describes how a person goes from an enemy of God to being friends.  "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled us in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight: if you continue in the faith grounded and steadfast."

So what have we thus far determined?  We have determined that the free gift of salvation is not just a ticket into heaven or an escalator out of hell; it is the plan and purpose of God to bring us to Himself.  In Ephesians 1:13-14 we are told that after we have believed we are also sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is given to us as a down payment of all we shall inherit.  Remember, the cross of Christ has made the believer acceptable to God; it was not our own goodness or works of righteousness.

When you give yourself to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, you are 100% loved, 100% forgiven, and 100% accepted by the Highest Ruler in the universe.  A question we must constantly ask ourselves is, "Whose acceptance do I really value, God's or my fellow man?"
March 2012

It has been said,  the accomplishment of any goal, whatever it is, requires at least two things: discipline and determination.  The scriptures teach us that love ought to be our aim.  By this one thing, Jesus said, people will know that you are My disciples.  In the human arena, we would probably look for something else.  Remember the love chapter in the Bible, I Corinthians 13?   If everyone who claims the name of Christ would live that way, what an impact we would have on the world around us!

To live that way requires a decision on our part.  It certainly doesn't come naturally.  Everything happening around us is surely evidence of that.  So we are faced with a choice, to live according to I Corinthians 13 or not.  When we have to make a choice and fail to make it, that is in itself a choice.

Love is work!  It demands both conscious and unconscious effort on our part.  It isn't something that we pick and choose like items in the grocery store.  If we are filled with the love of God and determined to live that way, God will be right there to help us.  When it is God's love flowing in and through us, it is color blind, shows no favoritism, and is a 24-hour-a-day commitment.  He loves everybody, and He wants to love everybody through you and me.  Make that your choice and your determination and watch what happens in your life as a result.
March 2012

I became very interested in a passage of scripture the other day.  Let me tell you why.  The Bible says as Moses was tending his father-in-law's flocks he suddenly became aware of the presence of God.  A bush was on fire, but it was not consumed.  Even fire itself was subject to the sovereignty of God.  Once again, God declared the certainty of His power and the sureness of His being in charge, and the awareness of His nearness.  He tells Moses, "I have seen the misery of my people, I have heard their cry because of their slave drivers, and I have come to rescue them."  Catch this now, "But I am going to send you to do that for me."  And naturally Moses replies with, "Why me?"

Isn't it just like God to reveal Himself to us, such as in the burning but not destroyed bush, and then tell us He has something He wants us to do for Him.  He never did answer Moses when he asked, "Why me?"  All He said was, "Don't worry about it, I will be with you."  Neither did He explain to Moses why he was found worthy for the task.  Furthermore, God didn't spell out the steps Moses was to take to accomplish the task.  He simply answered with the promise of His presence.  "I will be with you."

Then God went one step further when He added, "And this will be a sign unto you that it is I who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." (Exodus 3: 12)   He doesn't speak of the task, only the end result.  "When it's all over, Moses, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was me who sent you."

Hold on to the promise of His power and the certainty of His ever abiding presence and when your task is done, when the trial is over, when the last mile has been run, when the pain is gone, when your broken heart has been mended, you will know it was God who was there all the time.  February 2012

It is amazing to me how many people say they are really not interested in Theology and all that religious stuff.  People think that Theology is an academic discipline or something, but has little if any relevance to the needs of everyday life.  Little do they realize that every human being has a theology and whether they know it or acknowledge it or not, that theology affects everything they do.

Theology is simply the study of God and the resulting beliefs.  People may not set out to intentionally do a study of God; nevertheless, they have come to some conclusions about Him.  We don't have to study gravity and come to some profound understanding about the subject; all we need to do is fall out of bed.  The beliefs we have about God, whether they are true or not, have an effect on us that influences every decision we make.

All the things that seem important to us—our reputation, the way we spend our time, our political views—all pale in comparison to the importance of what we believe about God in our heart of hearts.  Not only that, but how you handle all those other things depends upon what you think about God.  Is He good, or is He out to trick us?  Is He merciful or vindictive?  Are His ways arbitrary and purposeless, or is He really able to bring goodness and blessing out of our deepest hurts and pain?

Consider spending a little more time examining your personal "heart theology."  What comes into your mind when you think about God? Where did that come from?  How has it trickled down into your thoughts and actions?  He wrote a love letter to us called the Bible, and maybe you should get into it a little deeper and find out where you stand with Him and whether or not your theology is what it should be.  January 2012

Are You Willing To Take Risks?  It has been suggested that you "try something so big that if God isn't in it, it will fail."  That kind of courageous faith inspires vision, creates real enthusiasm among people, and motivates us all to pray for miracles.  When our prayers are answered, we discover just how big and wonderful the God we serve really is!

What is your faith meter like?  Do you have dreams and aspirations that God has placed in your heart?  Share them with your brothers and sisters and begin to seek God's directions for their fulfillment together.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not as yet see."   Hebrews 11:1

Go For It!  October 2011

Time is a precious thing!  If you don't think so, ask the coach whose team is behind in the final seconds of the game.  Ask the air traffic controller in charge of scheduling takeoffs and landings at a major airport.  Ask a cancer patient who has recently learned they have only two months left to live.

There is no such things as time management!  Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we live our lives.  Priority management is the answer, so as to be able to maximize the time we have.  Our days are identical – all the same size – but some can pack a whole lot more into a day than others.  No one has a magical ability to make additional time, but if our lives have a sense of divine plan and direction, we can make the most of the moments we have been given.

Ask God to help you to spend your time wisely on activities that advance your purpose in life.  Do not waste your time on things that are of little if any support to you.  You can never reach peak performance without a peak purpose.  Purpose enlivens all that we do. As a matter of fact, I believe the two greatest days in a person's life are the day they are born and the day they discover why.  Ask yourself, "Where am I headed, what am I doing, and why am I going it?"  September 2011

More valley than mountaintop?  Lately I have been battered by circumstances, touched by death, heart surgery, by difficult changes and uncertainty that will not be silenced.

The truth is, even though we know God is near we don't always find ourselves on a spiritual mountaintop.  There are times we just feel those cold winds of circumstances howling through our lives like a wintery blast.  Job's response when he felt "no joy" was that he trusted anyway. He held onto God even when he felt nothing positive.  God's grace shines brightest when we feel nothing.  We don't have to feel God's presence to trust Him.  He knows where you are, and what you are going through.  He will never leave you or forsake you because of His great faithfulness.  August 2011

One of the absolute favorite pictures I have  is called "The Laughing Jesus."  It has often been a real conversation piece.  I have come to understand that many people never think of Him or picture Him with a smile on His face.  That is sad!  I believe that when Jesus became one of us, taking a human nature, He also became able to laugh, as well as to suffer and die.

When I think about the human side of Jesus as He mixed it up with His disciples on a daily basis, and when He made a fire on the beach and had breakfast ready for some weary fishermen, I believe He really enjoyed life and living.  I see Him frolicking in the shallow water, and playing some sort of sport on the sandy beach with His closest friends.  He took life by the horns and lived it to the full.

Yes, there were a lot of serious times in His life.  Yes, indeed, He faced challenges, and He tackled some very hard issues with some of the learned and authoritative figures of His day.  He was never afraid of people or position.  I picture Him enjoying Himself as a child debating and discussing religious issues with the gray heads in the temple.

Just take a few minutes and recall how many times He talked about sharing His kind of joy with those who would follow Him.  He wanted His joy in them, He wanted them full of that joy, and He wanted it to be permanent.

In the church, we make a distinction between "happiness" and joy.  Happiness has everything to do with what is happening in your life at the moment.  If it is something that makes you happy, that is wonderful.  But there are lots of things that happen in life that do not produce happiness. Lots of things happen in life that cause a person to be sad.

But joy is different.  It has nothing to do with what is happening in life, nothing to do with your circumstances or your present situation.  Joy is the result of a right relationship with God.  We can know the joy of the Lord smack dab in the middle of some terrible thing that is taking place and it is that joy that gives us strength to carry on in spite of what is happening on the surface of our day to day life—and Jesus intended it to be that way.  When things have turned your world upside down, the joy that Jesus gives will keep you strong and faithful.  July 2011

As we contemplate the future  in light of what is going on around us today, fear would grip our hearts and leave us void of faith and/or hope.  In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus admonishes DO NOT WORRY about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Thinking about this passage of scripture, I thought I would share something I ran across in my reading.
Well, I am done, my nerves were on the rack;
    I've laid them down today.
It was the last straw that broke the camel's back;
    I've laid that down today.
And I'll not fume, nor fret, nor fuss, nor fight;
    I'll walk by faith a bit, and not by sight;
I think the universe will work alright;
    I've laid it down today.

So here and now, the overweight, the worry;
     I'll lay it down today.
The all-too-anxious heart, the tearing hurry;
    I'll lay these down today.
O eager hands!  O feet, so prone to run!
     I think that He, Who made the stars and sun,
Can mind the things you've had to leave undone;
    Do lay them down today.  July 2011

Perhaps you face a problem  that seems to have no good answer.   Don't lose heart.
John 5 tells of a man at the pool of Bethesda who had an infirmity for many years.  As he looked for his answer in "natural" means (someone to help him into the healing pool), he found himself talking to the real healer — JESUS — Who simply said, "Take up your bed and walk."  Ephesians 3:20 says "He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think."
God knows options we can't even imagine.  July 2011

God said he would supply our needs, not our wants!  The background for this statement comes from the book of Acts, chapter three, when Peter and John were going to the temple to pray.  It was 3:00 in the afternoon and there were a lot of people coming through the gate of the temple.  It was called Beautiful and it was the most popular of all the gates.  They encountered a man who had been crippled all his life.  He had chosen this particular gate because of the crowds that came and went.  The more people, the beggar thought, the more money he could collect.

Just as he had with everyone else, he asked Peter and John for a few pennies for food.  Much to his surprise, instead of money he received a new lease on life, a strong body to work and provide for himself.  Instead of giving the man what he thought he wanted, they gave him what he really needed.

It reminds me of a poem called "The Soldier's Prayer."

I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
    I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
    I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
    I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
    I was given weakness that I might know my need of God.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
I am among all men most richly blessed.  June 2011

There are far too many people  who think and believe that they are insignificant and of very little importance to anyone else.  The world has us duped into believing unless you do something spectacular you don't count, or at least don't count for much.  There is nothing further from the truth than that.  Read the 139th Psalm and you will discover that God was right there while you were being formed in the secret place.  The writer goes on to say, "Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they are written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them."

Sometimes we feel helpless in the face of what appears to be an overwhelming problem.  Please understand that the truth of the matter is, one person can make a world of difference.  Some time ago a friend sent the following anonymous poem.

One song can spark a moment,
One flower can wake a dream.
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame a goal.
One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam can light a room.
One candle can wipe out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.
One step must start each journey,
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom,
One heart can know what's true.
One life can make the difference,
You see it's up to you!
All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of one small candle.  Edward Everett Hale said it so eloquently when he said, "I am only one, but still I am one.  I can't do everything, but still I can do something; and because I can't do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

Don't ever forget how important you are, and remember, "One person is very important to God, also."  Most of His work done on earth has been started by one person.  God is always looking for people who will do His work.  Will you be that one He is looking for today?  June 2011

God and His truth  cannot be encapsulated on a greeting card, much less a church sign or a bulletin.  If God thought it necessary to use 66 books to communicate His truth to us, what makes us think that we can repeat it with one sentence?  The Bible is a whole that is greater than the sum of all its individual verses.  It is not what the one-liner says that really matters; it is what goes on inside the house of worship and inside the individual's heart and soul that really counts.  May 2011

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"   John 11: 25-26

What did Jesus mean by that statement?  He was saying, without Him there could be no resurrection, and without Him there could be no life.

Think about it.  If Jesus Christ had never come, died on the cross, risen from the dead and promised life to all who believe in Him, none of us would have the right to expect to be raised from the dead and go to heaven.

Not only is He the resurrection, but He went on to say, "And the life."  Jesus Christ is the source of life.  That is why He can promise us new life now, abundant life in Him, and eternal life!  That is also why you can expect to be resurrected, as well.

Before you believed in Him you were dead in trespasses and sins.  The Bible says, "The wages or payment for sin is death."  That word "is" makes it present tense.  That means he is living, but is spiritually dead!  Non-responsive to God!

Physical death is when the soul leaves the body.  Spiritual death occurs when the soul is separated from God, the Author and Giver of life.  You must believe in Jesus Christ, Who is the resurrection and the life!  In Him, you can have both!

Have A Great Easter – Do It Today!  Apr. 2011

Finish the course that is set before you!  For so many believers, the Christian life seems like a grueling marathon rather than a walk.  If you are tempted to give up or quit before you reach the finish line, here are a few things to remember.

Remember you are to keep looking up!  The Bible says, "I will look unto the hills from where my help comes."  To live as you should and do what you must, turn often to God for wisdom and direction.

Remember to look into His Word!  You must not ignore the directions found in the believer's Operating Manual, which is the Word of God.  Avoid the false starts and wrong steps by paying close attention to, and following, His guidance.

Remember to look for danger signs!  Stay alert and watchful for the potholes and pitfalls of life. You must stay away from anything and everything that looks like or sounds negative or discouraging.  Continue to stay in faith and believe that God will enable you to finish the course He has called you to fulfill.  Apr. 2011

I sincerely hope  that all of us remember that God has designed things so that we would carry the load of this day and this day only.  Too many are still carrying the burdens, sins, bad memories, poor judgements of the past and will not set them aside.  Some are all distressed about the possibility of future problems.  They live expecting them.  We need to learn to live "One Day At A Time."  Apr. 2011

There is an interesting and profound portion of scripture in the Old Testament.  It is the story of a man called Naaman, and it is found in II Kings 5.  Look at this for a moment. Naaman was a commander in the army.  He was a great and honorable man.  Because of him, the Lord had given victory to Syria.  Naaman was also a mighty man of valor, and Naaman also was a leper!

In spite of his physical problems and handicap, Naaman became a great military commander. He didn't allow his personal problem to keep him from becoming a great man, highly respected and honored.  He excelled in his chosen field and became a mighty man of valor.

I cannot help but wonder how many people have become victims of their personal problems, regardless of what they may be, and have allowed those problems to keep them from pursuing their God given rights and privileges. A lot of them have given up on their dreams, they have kissed their potential good-bye, and have settled for a mediocre and almost meaningless life.

Let's contrast the life of Naaman by turning it around.  Just think of some of the wonderful people in your circle of influence.  Great achievers, abounding with charisma and enthusiasm, good listeners with equally as good conversational skills, well dressed, mannerly and gracious....but they don't know Jesus!

There is a quality addition to one's life that only Jesus can bring.  Adding virtue and spiritual content to what he or she already has would be a beautiful thing.  In the case of Naaman, adding the fact that he was a leper was a negative.  When we add Jesus to what we already are, it is always positive.  Mar. 2011

We only succeed when we are willing to fail.   We can only score points when we're willing to be tackled.  We only hit home runs when we're also willing to strike out; and we only win at life when we're willing to risk failure!  Consider the high jumper, who only discovers how high he can jump after he reaches his failure point.  Think about Babe Ruth; the year he broke the world record for hitting home runs, he also broke the world record for the most strike-outs!

To be successful at what we do may be exhilarating, but it doesn't teach us how to be a winner.   In fact, failure is the greatest teacher to help one win in the game of life.  There are many who have reveled in winning, but did not know how to handle defeat.  We are winners when we are able to rejoice in another person's victory and celebrate with others in the midst of our personal loss.  That kind of winning attitude will endear you to those around you, while turning sour and refusing to join in the celebrations of another's accomplishments will turn people against you.

So, if you want to hit home runs, stand up to the plate and start swinging.  Be willing to strike out.  Only then will you begin winning!  Mar. 2011

Talking with someone this week  who has had a very bad experience with their church, I was reminded once again of the right reasons why we are to attend the church of our choice.  Too many people attend church services to get out of it everything they can get.  They also enjoy the fellowship of those of like precious faith.  There is really nothing wrong with either of those, except that they fall in the wrong order of things.

It has been said, and rightly so, that the main reason for any power failure in the church is the lack of ministry to the Lord.  Our ministry to the Lord must come before our ministry to men. He must never take second place to anyone or anything.

We remember also the words of the Lord Jesus when He said, "I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."  Even in the prayer He encouraged his disciples to pray, it was God first and foremost.  "Our Father...hallowed be Thy name...Thy kingdom come, They will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  Then and only then came the words, "...and give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us..."  To be effective in anything we do as ministry to others we must dig down into the springs of God's life within us, bury ourselves there, realizing that He is our Source of everything.

In Ephesians 1 we read that God has been made rich because we who are Christ's have been given to Him.  He wants you for yourself, not for something you can do.  He wants your love and devotion to Him, not what He can get out of you.  The enemy tried to convince God that Job loved Him for what He could get out of Him.  We are not saved to serve God, as many have been taught.  Good works will follow our ministry unto the Lord.  Give unto the Lord the honor and praise He is worthy to receive and everything else will fall into place.  Feb. 2011

As the Middle East continues to churn and burn  we must all remember the promise made to us, "I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye shall be also."

While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return.  Later, when he tried to go back, a huge iceberg blocked the way.  But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through.  His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard.  No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed behind them.  Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, "It was very fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!"

Jesus Christ's first coming to earth is an indisputable fact of history.  His death, burial and resurrection are also facts of history, as all were verified by many reliable witnesses.  At His ascension back into heaven, two angels appeared to His disciples and followers saying, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, Who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go."  Jesus also told us, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye shall be also."

We need to make sure our bags are packed and we are ready to go at any time.  Jan. 2011

Your mental diet is very important  because your mind controls your behavior.  You must avoid negative input as much as possible.  Stay away from people, places and things that bring out the worst in you.  Remember what the scriptures have taught you: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

People who have either nibbled or feasted on negativism over the years cannot expect to transform their thought patterns and their behavior overnight, but the fact is, they can commit to working on them.  Criticism, put downs and pessimism can be replaced with common courtesy, praise, encouragement and words of comfort.  This takes working at just like anything else you want to change.  It may also involve trial and error.  Starting to do things differently (for a change) requires time and effort, but it is a worthwhile undertaking.

Focus on positive things!  Think about what you are and how you got that way.  Spend more time with people who care about you and give you positive support.  The Apostle Paul tells us that we can literally change our lives by seizing control of our thoughts and concentrating on "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report.  If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things."   Philippians 4:8  Jan. 2011

I love this story.  One Sunday morning a note was given to D. L. Moody just before he preached.  On the note was written one word — Fool.

Moody announced to the audience, "I have a most unusual note this morning.  Many times I have received letters from people who forgot to sign their names.  But this is the first time a man ever signed his name and forgot to write the note."

"The fool has said in his heart, There is no God."  Psalm 14:1
   — Submitted by L. M. from Michigan  Jan. 2011

We must be diligent as believers  and totally aware of the fact that there are false prophets (preachers, pastors, evangelists) all around us deceiving many.  There is nothing worse than a half truth or insinuation as to what the Bible is saying.  Day after day I hear speculation and opinion rather than "Thus saith the Lord."

Some time ago I overheard a gentleman telling another person what the Bible says about a certain issue.  He was totally and entirely wrong. The Bible says nothing about what he said.  I'm not sure what his motivation was, but it sure made me aware again of the words of caution found in the Word of God.

As believers we have available to us at all times "a spirit of discernment."  If we lack wisdom or insight, we are to ask, and the Spirit of God will prompt us as to what is right and what is error. Remember, we are being led.  We are watched over and we are protected.

God takes no pleasure whatsoever in one being deceived or deceiving himself.  He is saddened and disappointed when we fall for something that is not true, because we are followers of Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Keep your eyes on Him and tune your heart to hear His voice. Walk in the way He has chosen for you.  "You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

Think on these things.  Jan. 2011

Years ago Gertrude Behanna wrote,  "I have a problem with Christian people who have a problem with Christian people."

No one should have to live up to my expectations in order to be accepted.  No one should have to worship or attend service in a church like mine to have my approval.  There is absolutely too much spiritual arrogance in the body of Christ today.  Remember, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."  Jan. 2011

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