Feeds:
Posts
Comments

This isn’t mine and I don’t know the source of the story but it is definitely worth posting. Enjoy!

A father takes his son into the forest, blindfolds him an leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him . Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, Sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. If you liked this story, pass it on. If not, you took off your blindfold before dawn. Moral of the story: Just because you can’t see God, Doesn’t mean He is not there. “For we walk by faith, not by sight!!!!

Shake it off!

ImageAs I was doing my morning devotionals I was reminded of this modern parable:

 One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out a way to get him out. Finally he decided it was probably impossible and the animal was old and the well was dry anyway, so it just wasn’t worth it to try and retrieve the donkey. So the farmer asked his neighbors to come over and help him cover up the well. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well.

 

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening he cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down and let out some happy brays. A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down the well to see what was happening and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was shaking it off and taking a step up. 

 

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he continued to shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, to everyone’s amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off! – http://www.naute.com/stories/donkey.phtml

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 What do the writer of Hebrews and the Donkey have in common? They share the same strategy when it comes to adversity; shake it off and step up. When the heavy chains of our life and our sins start dragging us down, shake them off and step up. When people’s cutting remarks, lack of love and appreciation, or bitter attitude starts to weigh us down; shake them off and step up. Shake off the dirt the world piles on us. Never give up!

 Still need more encouragement? Consider Christ.  As he hung there on the cross, the world seemed to have won. The world had found a way to bury Christ and his mission. But on Easter morning, he demonstrated there could be victory over this life. In one single action he proved he was not bound to the chains of oppression by men. Even the chains of death lost its power. The empty grave showed the world no power could contain or overcome Christ and his mission. He shook off death and shook and stepping up in victory!

 Want to experience the power of victory in your life? Fix your eyes on Christ. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. Through him alone is there true victory in this world. When we fix our eyes on Christ all our adversities, no matter the size, become stepping stones to victorious living. Don’t grow weary or lose heart. Instead, shake it off and step up in faith.

Making the Front Page

It’s not everyday you get to make the front page of a local newspaper. Beware when you read it. They massacred a few of the facts like…my name but at least they took a good picture. Enjoy!

messenger_post_media_20130212_A01_A02_A03_A04

PB & J

Image

Micah 2006

My kids are messy. From the moment they came into our lives, our children have never been neat and proper. Every mealtime it’s seems like they say the same thing; “let’s see how big a mess we can make”. They drop food on the floor. They smear everything all over their hands, clothing, and hair. Food is discovered days later in places unimaginable.

From the beginning, we have tried to be good parents and role models. We have worked with them, training them to use the napkin or utensils, yet they still desire to get their hands messy.  We have asked them to eat over their plates and make sure not to stuff their mouths. We remind them to wash their hands and little faces, yet they always seem to wear more food than they eat.

One of the hardest times to be a parent of a messy child is when you are dressed up, preparing to go somewhere important. Over my years as a solo pastor, there were events where I would be dressed in my suit and be expected to look my best. It seemed like the moment before I would leave for the event, whether a funeral, wedding, or Sunday morning service, it never failed that one of my messy children would desire my attention. When those moments came, I would placate to their desire by leaning in, patting them on their heads, kiss their foreheads, but always keeping my distance so I could stay clean. They would always want more. They want me to come close and embrace them. They would reach out to me with their messy face and hands, so desiring to be in my arms.

If I gave into their desire I risked the chance of becoming messy. The chance of becoming stained with peanut butter and jelly was high. My nice, clean suit would become marred with crumbs and stickiness. In the back corners of my mind I would hear, “What would people think if I lowered myself to my children’s level and risked the chance of being stained by their messiness?”

It’s pretty amazing that God did that very thing. He lowered himself and risked the chance of becoming messy for the sake of his children and creation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17).

God loved his creation so much he sent his Son on a rescue mission to save it from the destruction of sin. When sin entered the world (Genesis 3), the world went from “Good” to “messy”.  Jesus reached down, lowering himself to creation’s level and became a man. As a man he became inundated with the messiness of this world. He touched the weak and wounded. He ate with the hated and loathed. He associated with sinners, thieves, prostitutes, and the lowest of society. He, being God, got messy for the sake of HIS beloved.  Jesus gave up all so we could be cleaned from the messiness of life. We have hope of being clean and pure through HIS sacrifice and HIS love for us; for you and for me!

If God loved me that much, why should I flinch when my messy children want my love and acceptance? So do me a favor, next time you see a child with peanut butter and jelly all over their hands and face, instead of backing away slowly or shoveling them off to someone else so you don’t have to get yourself dirty, pick them up and wash them clean. Because that’s exactly what God did for you and me. Thank God for messy PB&J faces!

Do-Over

As a child, Kick-Ball was one of my favorite games. The objective is simple; kick the rolling ball, run the bases, and eventually score points or “runs” for your team. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? Depending on the skill behind the kick you can be a Hero or a Zero for your team.  One aspect of the game, which still remains a mystery to this day, is the “Do-Over” rule. This little known rule states that if things don’t go your way, you simply request to kick again, attempting for a better outcome. Of course, in order for the Do-Over to be legitimate it is often accompanied with shouting, fits, and a momentary tantrum. Even as an adult, I’ve noticed that many of today’s Sports have a version of the Do-Over. In Golf it’s called a Mulligan. In Bowling it’s called the Spare. In Baseball it’s called a Foul Ball. And in Football it’s the Instant Replay. In each case, the outcome has an opportunity to change from its previous, undesired conclusion.

As we come into a new year we face a Do-over of sorts. We get a chance to leave behind the previous year and look forward to a brand new year. This coming year can be filled with restarts, Do-Overs, and clean slates. The events of the previous year are points in the past. They can be stepping stone rather than a points of dwelling. The Bible says, 18 “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 19 For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT)

God has a plan and a purpose for you this coming year. He has a plan for something new, something fresh, something beyond our own comprehension. How will you respond? Will you look forward to the Paths through the Wilderness or the Rivers through the Wastelands? Or will you focus on the Past. God wants to do something NEW in your life this Year. He is willing to give you a Do-Over. All you have to do is say, “YES, Please!”

Practical Love

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” James 1:16-18 (NIV)

Every year at this time, my parents would encourage us children to write a “wish list” for Christmas. Of course, my brothers and I would be as extensive as we could, including all the newest toys and videos games recently released to the stores. We would traverse through the Sunday newspaper ads, letting our minds and imaginations run wild with the endless possibilities Christmas morning could bring. Rarely would we include the practical, like new underwear or socks. But sure enough, every year, under the colorful lights of our Christmas tree, we would find a year’s supply of new socks, underwear, and church clothes. Occasionally, there would be a handcrafted garment from a dearly loved and seasoned member of the family. As we were gently prodded to try on the garment, our faces would translate the message of gratitude while inside we wondered, “Where are the better gifts?”

As a child, I never saw the practical gift as the “better” gift. They were rarely fun, seldom unique, and certainly never exciting. When I thought of practical gifts I typically drew one of two conclusions; 1. The person who gave the gift failed to take my wants and desires into consideration, or 2. The person who gave the gift simply didn’t care about me. I wasn’t important. What I wanted didn’t matter. I was destined to receive socks and underwear no matter what my heart desired.

As a child, my heart was bound and determined to be selfish. I was concerned only with my desires, and focused on what I wanted. My heart was fixated only on me. My attitude conveyed, “It’s all about me” and in turn, I became the one who cared little about anyone else.

Truth is many of us have trouble leaving the selfish heart of a child behind when it comes to exploring the bounty God has blessed us with. We look for the bigger, the better, the shinier whatchamacallit when God is blessing us with the very best He has. James 1:16, 17 says, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above…” Every good gift [our family, friends, home, job, food on the table, transportation, the breath we take, another day of life, or fill in your own blanks] comes from God. We don’t do anything to earn it. He gives to us because He is our loving and caring Heavenly Father. Every perfect gift [His love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, joy, peace, and the list keeps going on] comes from Him too. We don’t deserve what He gives us, yet he gives to us in abundance.

Here comes the reality; God gives us good and perfect gifts so we will replicate his actions. James 1:18 continues, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” Giving us good and perfect gifts wasn’t to perpetuate a selfish, childish heart, but to develop a heart after His own.

This Christmas season, as you put up the Christmas tree, hang the stockings, and sip on the eggnog; consider the reality of the practical gifts God has given you. Examine your heart and ask yourself “Is my life all about me or am I a first fruit of God’s family, mimicking the master’s heart?” Which will you choose this Christmas? God Bless you and your family in the year to come.

Thankful all the Time?!?

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophesies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

May I be transparent for a moment? I have been in ministry now for almost a decade and the one thing I still struggle with is the idea of “being thankful in all circumstances”. I say that as one pouring himself out, exposed and vulnerable for the world to see.

Please allow me to dissolve any confusion; I am fully aware of what it means to be grateful and thankful. My life is filled with situations to be thankful for. For example, I have no trouble expressing my gratitude for the good weather, for food on the table, or for the stranger whom opens the door for me when my hands are full. But it’s the second part of the equation where I struggle, expression of thankfulness “in all circumstances”. There are some things in life which I simply do not want to be thankful for.  I don’t want to be thankful for the rising gas prices, for the flat tire on the way to work, or for the fight with my wife on the way to church on a Sunday morning. Why and how can I be thankful in these circumstances?

Am I alone? Does anyone else share the same point of struggle in their walk with God?

I believe our failure to completely grasp the concept of thankfulness and gratitude comes from our attempt to relate it to our feelings. We find ourselves saying, “I don’t feel thankful” or “This situation doesn’t lead me to experience gratitude”. Instead, I believe, we are meant to express thankfulness devoid of emotional attachments. In other words, we need to become thankful despite our feelings towards thankfulness. When we move in this direction, our awareness of blessings and gifts of grace from God becomes evident and hard to escape. Our eyes get taken off our lives and our situations are put back onto the bigger picture, where God is God and he alone is in control. We are reminded of where God has lead us over the years, the times he has stepped in and protected us or our loved ones, and the many answered prayers I’ve brought before him. The circumstances we feel thankless for seem so much small and insignificant in comparison to the grace God has shown us daily. It’s in those moments we are left with only one response; an overwhelming expression of gratitude in any and all circumstances. It’s not about me, it’s all about Him!

If you’re like me, why not take a moment, close your eyes, and focus on the blessings God has given you over the last few minutes, hours, days, and even years. As the old hymn says, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

Lord, as I stop in this moment, distracted by the circumstances of life, please quiet my heart to reflect your goodness. Let me see the blessings you have brought to my life and may my heart reflect an attitude of thankfulness towards what you are doing and who you have made me to be in you. No matter the situation, help me be thankful in all circumstances, bringing you glory and honor in my actions and attitude. Amen.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 577 other followers