Friday, November 28, 2008

'tis the season!


I'm not anti-buying stuff, nor am I anti-Walmart, as most of you are aware. I even braved the throngs of people this morning at the local shopping malls with 4 kids in tow & my wife by my side. I am though bothered by tragedies like the one you may have heard about this morning. Check out this headline.

Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede, click here to read the story.


It's unfortunate that we as humans, not just Americans, get so excited about stuff. 'Tis the season I guess. I like stuff, I enjoy it and appreciate the comforts that come along with it. But I'm not in love with it & I don't have to have it. During this time of year, the monster of more seems to awaken within us. Don't let the monster within overshadow the real reason for this season, Jesus Christ! Jesus takes away our stuff and gives us what we really need, not the discounted flat screen at Walmart. Joy, Hope, Love & Forgiveness. Things that you can't put a price tag on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

He Still Opens Doors

Great devotional that is a reminder to each of us that our God still works miracles!

Today's Scripture

“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close” (Revelation 3:8, NLT).

Today's Word from Joel and Victoria
God is ready to present you with new opportunities. He wants to open new doors before you. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world around you, in the economy, the housing industry, or with job reports; God’s Word still remains true. He rewards the people who seek after Him. He’s not the least bit concerned about how He’s going to supply your needs. There is no recession in heaven. He has His eye on you, and He still opens doors that no one can shut! In an instant, He can bring the right people into your life, the right opportunities, and the right resources to take you to a new level.

But in order to go to a higher level, you have to have a higher way of thinking. You can’t stay focused on what’s happening in the natural nor allow worry and fear to fill your thoughts. Remember, God’s ways are higher than our ways. He is working on your behalf behind the scenes in the supernatural realm. Choose to keep an attitude of faith and expectancy. As you do, you’ll move forward through the open doors of blessing God has prepared for you.

A Prayer for Today
Father in heaven, I bless Your holy name. Thank You for opening doors for me that no one can close. Fill me with Your peace and joy today as I wait on You. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What are you planting?



Are you planting the seeds of unforgiveness & bitterness or the seeds of grace & mercy? Here is a story that I shared at the close of today's message that will help you consider what to plant today!

The Daffodil Principle


Several times my daughter had telephoned, "Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over." Finally, I promised, reluctantly. I’d driven only a few miles when the road was covered with wet, gray fog. As I slowly executed the hazardous mountain turns, I was praying to reach the turnoff. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! There is nothing that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch in this weather!" "I’ll drive," Carolyn offered. In a few minutes, we were back on the Mountain road heading over the top. 
We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. I saw a pine needle covered path, and an inconspicuous, hand lettered sign "Daffodil Garden." I followed Carolyn down the path. Then we turned a corner. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. A charming path wound through the garden with several resting stations, with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of tulips. It didn’t matter that the sun wasn’t shining. Five acres of flowers!
"But who?" I asked Carolyn. "Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "That’s her home." On the patio we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline. The first answer was simple. "50,000 bulbs." The second was, "One at a time, by one woman." The third was, "Began in 1958."
There it was. The Daffodil Principle. For me it was a life changing experience. I thought of this woman, who, more than thirty five years before, had begun one bulb at a time to bring beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. No shortcuts, loving the slow process of planting. She had changed her world. Her daffodil garden taught me about learning to forgive and to offer grace. I can hold onto all of the offenses that people have done to me in my life. Or I can make a decision to forgive each little one, one day at a time. I can plant seeds of bitterness or of grace
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and worked away at it all those years. My wise daughter responded, "Start today."

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15



Grace grows but so do bitter roots.
The difference is in the seed that you plant!

Potluck, Part 4- Baggage



Today was an awesome day in the life of our church! We witnessed hundreds of people in our church family take giant steps in their walk with Christ as they extended forgiveness to someone who has harmed them. We called today's message, "baggage." We all have it! It's is the sin of offense. It is when we carry unforgiveness towards someone that has wronged us. John Bevere calls it, "the bait of Satan." Today we made decisions to not take the bait, to shed the baggage and to walk in freedom & forgiveness. Here are the notes:

ARE YOU AWARE OF YOUR BAGGAGE.
"Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit…. Job 7:11

Give a name to your baggage: THE SIN OF OFFENSE
 “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come...”
Luke 17:1 (NKJV)


The Greek word for offend in Luke 17:1 comes from the word skandalon. This word originally referred to the part of a trap to which the bait was attached. In the New Testament it often describes an entrapment by the enemy. A trap needs one of two things in order to be successful. Either it must be hidden, in the hope that an animal will stumble upon it, or it must be baited to lure the animal into the trap’s deadly jaws. Satan incorporates both of these strategies as he lays out his traps. They’re hidden and baited. If we’re not trained by the Word of God to rightly divide between good and evil, we won’t recognize his traps for what they are.
(John Bevere, Author of ‘The Bait of Satan’)

The truth about offense is this:

Those you care about the most can offend or hurt you the most.
David laments, For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. …But it was you, a man my equal, my companion, and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng. Psalm 55:12-14 (NKJV).

An offended friend often times seeks protection & retribution
rather than forgiveness.
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Proverbs 18:19 (NLT)

GOD, HELP ME TO BE HONEST ABOUT MY BAGGAGE
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
You were taught...to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds… Ephesians 4:22-23
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11


ARE YOU READY TO CHECK YOUR BAGS
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High… Luke 6:35

Who do you need to forgive?______________________
Are you willing to forgive others so that you might receive forgiveness?________

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2:12-13


Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15


GO AND FORGIVE!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Responding To The Silent Treatment



I just received this e-mail from Gary Chapman, the author of the book, "The Five Love Languages." He has some great resources online that you can check out at www.fivelovelanguages.com. Check out the article below!

Jill had told her husband that she wanted to spend a weekend at the beach with the girls who work in her office. Her husband Mike had responded with silence. No explosions, no loud words, no arguing, no nothing - just silence. He had been silent four days when Jill talked with me.

Reasons
When your spouse gives you the “silent treatment” there are always reasons; usually a historical reason, an emotional reason and a contemporary reason. The contemporary reason is that something has just happened that the spouse finds objectionable. For Mike, it was Jill’s announcement that she was going to spend the weekend at the beach with her girl friends.

The emotional reason was that Mike did not feel secure in Jill’s love. He reasoned, “If she loved me she would want to be with me.”

The historical reason was that Mike had learned the “silent treatment” in his childhood. His parents would not allow him to argue with them, so when he felt hurt or angry, he learned to be silent.

If you have been given the “silent treatment” by your spouse, here are the three questions you need to answer:

1. What have I done or failed to do that my spouse might have found objectionable?
2. Have I been speaking my spouse's love language lately?
3. What do I know about my spouse's childhood that might help me understand his silence?


What to Do

When your spouse gives you the “silent treatment”, you feel helpless. But you’re not! You can help break the silence of your spouse. Think about your spouse's emotional needs. When our emotional needs are not met, we misbehave. Silence is a form of misbehavior. If I can meet the need, the behavior will change.

The “silent treatment” can be very frustrating, but it is not a barrier that cannot be removed. The silent partner really wants to talk, but often fears that talking will escalate the problem into a full fledged war. Sometimes this conclusion is based upon history: marital history, or childhood history. The silent partner usually does not like verbal battle, and silence is a way of avoiding it.

If we create a climate of friendly dialogue, we can discuss our hurts, needs, and desires and then seek for workable solutions. Once the “silent partner” realizes that talking does not lead to battle but to peace, the “silent treatment” will be left behind. The “silent treatment” is never an acceptable way to build an intimate marriage.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last Week's Message: Potluck, Part 3- BitterSweet

Last weekend we looked at a story found in Exodus 15. The context is that Moses had just led the Israelites out of Egypt and they were miraculously on their way to the promised land. They had traveled for 3 days without water and finally came upon some water which they could not drink because it was bitter. Here's the story...
Exodus 15:23, "Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for
they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. (which is the Hebrew word for bitterness) 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.”


God was trying to teach them some lessons from this experience that I think that we can learn from as well. Here they are:
1. NOTHING IS OVERLOOKED OR UNNOTICED BY GOD.
2. GOD CAN USE UNUSUAL MEANS TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSES.
3. SOMETIMES GOD’S PEOPLE HAVE A VERY SHORT MEMORY.
4. GOD CAN TURN BITTER THINGS SWEET.


I ended the message by telling the story of MEPHIBOSHETH (which mean shameful thing). He was the forgotten grandson of King Saul who discovered that God can take all of the bitter tragedies from his life and somehow make it sweet. (read 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 9) What is it in your life today that may be causing you to become bitter? Don't ever forget that nothing goes unnoticed by God! Remember that He uses different means to accomplish His purposes and that He never forgets about His promises to you. He promises to take everything bitter in our lives and to make it sweet one day. Just like the Israelites and Mephibosheth, you can trust Him!

Offer Continually

I received this devotional in my inbox today and thought that it was great. It's a great reminder of how we need to live our lives everyday!

Today's Scripture
Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NLT).

Today's Word from Joel and Victoria
Praise is more than just singing songs in church on Sunday. In fact, praise isn’t even about singing songs! Praise is a heart attitude. Praise in your heart prompts singing songs, but it can also be manifest in many different ways. Your words, your actions, your daily life are all ways you give Him praise. Like the verse says, when your actions or words declare your allegiance to His Name, that’s giving God praise. How do your actions declare your allegiance to Him? By simply obeying His Word. When we continually follow His commands, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when we don’t feel like it, even when we are tired, that’s offering a sacrifice of praise to Him.

Remember, praise is a powerful weapon. Many times in the Old Testament, when God’s people would go into battle, they would send the worshipers out first. Praise precedes the victory. When you live a life that offers Him continual praise, you will see continual victory in every area of your life!

A Prayer for Today
Father in heaven, I do offer You continual praise. I choose to follow Your Word so that You may be glorified through me. Let everything within me honor You in all that I do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Church relevance gone wrong!



This is funny and you will laugh! So go ahead and start your week off right with a good chuckle!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tomorrow's Message: Potluck, Part 2- Fearless


Tomorrow during our weekend services, we're going to tackle an issue that most of us deal with on a daily basis. That issue is the feeling that you are stuck. Maybe you are stuck in a bad relationship, bad job, bad habit, sin... the list goes on. The question is this, "If I'm stuck, how do I get unstuck?" Here are 3 things you must do!

YOU MUST WANT TO BE UNSTUCK
JOHN 5:1 Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda,[a] with five covered porches. 3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches.[b] 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
Jesus asked this guy a seemingly rude question. He was sick for almost 4 decades! Jesus did so because He knew that we all have a tendency to grow comfortable in our circumstance & condition. We get used to being stuck! I believe that it comes down to fear. Fear of the unknown or maybe fear of losing something. What if I try again and nothing changes? What if I get counseling and it doesn't work? What if I can't find a new job? What if? What if?

YOU MUST STOP SHIFTING THE BLAME & MAKING EXCUSES.
7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Don't be a victim! Don't allow your past to become your future.

YOU MUST CHOOSE TO OBEY JESUS.
8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” 9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!... 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.
You must be obedient even when it scares you. Fear is what paralyzes us from being unstuck. You have to make the decision to be fear-less. God wants us to obey Him & step boldly into the unknown!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV



Monday, November 3, 2008

What I learned this weekend...

This weekend we had Robert Cameron from Wave Church in Virginia Beach, Va. Robert oversees wave network, an association of churches that connect in faith and vision with Wave Church. On Saturday he did our fall leadership summit for all of our awesome volunteers. He talked about building a church culture that is excellent and pleasing to God. Here are some of the thoughts that he shared with us.

Building a church culture of excellence.
1. Serve the Lord with Gladness- Not with madness.
2. Honor- Speak right to one another. Prefer one another. (Proverbs 15, Romans 12:10)
3. Favor- Wherever their is favor there is life. Jesus had favor with both God and man and we need the same. (Psalm 35)
4. We need to have a good report- No one remembers the names of the spies who came back with a negative report even though their names are listed. We do remember Joshua & Caleb as being the men who came back with the good report.
5. What you respect, you will attract- Respect positive people and respect souls (people coming to Jesus).
6. Gathering mentality- Be attractive to others. People who do not read the Bible are reading you.
7. Wear the restraints of the vision- Vision for your life & church keeps you focused on what you should be doing.
8. Serve one another- Get along well with others. Even those that you don't care for.
9. Have an effective prayer life- James 5 tells us that the prayer of the righteous is effective.
10. Have the same DNA - Don't come with your own agenda, attach yourself to the vision of the Pastor & leadership.
11. Be planted in the house- Only people with roots survive the storms of life. (Psalm 92)

Anti-church culture
1. Mediocrity- If you can't be on time, be early.
2. Small thinking- Beware of stinking thinking.
3. Vision should always be bigger than your resources.
4. Don't idolize your ministry or position in the church.
5. Don't break the confidence of others by gossiping.
6. Don't be racist.
7. Don't be legalistic.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Activate Strength

Here is a great devotional that I received from Joel Osteen ministries called, "Activate Strength." I challenge you to do that very thing today!

Today's Scripture
“But as for me, I am filled with power— with the Spirit of the Lord. I am filled with justice and strength…” (Micah 3:8).

Micah knew how to encourage himself in the Lord. He understood how to draw courage and purpose into his life. He realized the power in His words and knew that speaking the truth is the most effective way to prepare him to accomplish all God has in store.

Did you know that we activate the blessing of God’s favor by speaking it over our own lives? Romans 10:9-10 tells us that salvation comes when we believe and then declare what we believe. God’s truth is established when we believe and declare it! (Job 22:28). When we declare God’s Word, we invite Him to do what He alone can in our lives.

Your tasks today may not be anything like Micah’s, but we all need God’s help. Activate His strength by declaring that His power is at work by His Spirit in your life. Declare that you are filled with justice and strength as you face the challenges before you because in His strength, you can experience victory in every area of your life.

A Prayer for Today
Father in heaven, I invite You to flood every area of my being. Fill me with Your strength, peace, and joy. I declare that I am strong in You. I am filled with Your power. I walk in Your favor. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.