Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Getting Out of God's Way

My dad was a painter. He specialized in painting boats. I remember when I was in high school I would go and help my dad paint boats in the summer. Actually, I had to do the sanding and my dad did the painting. Every once in a while he would let me paint something, but often my dad would come over and re-do it. There were times when I felt like I was just in my dad’s way.

Do you ever feel like you are in God’s way? The truth is, sometimes we do get in God’s way. We get in God’s way when we say we are Christians but our actions don’t match our words. Then others will wonder what kind of God He is when His followers act like everyone else in the world. We get in God’s way when we are willful and don’t want to listen to what God has for us to do. We get in God’s way when we support the things of this world.

To get out of God’s way doesn’t mean to step aside and let God do the work. To get out of God’s way means we humble ourselves so that we have minds that will hear what God has to say to us. It means that we have hearts that receive God’s love to the point where His love overflows from us to others. It means that we follow God’s leading for our lives. It means that we make ourselves available to serve God wherever He might call us.

When we are able to get out of God’s way, we put ourselves in a place where God will use us, and bless us, and minister to others through us. God has chosen to impact this world through your life and mine. That is one of the main purposes of why we are on this earth (the primary one is to worship God and be in relationship with God). If we can understand this, and get out of God’s way, then wonderful and powerful things will happen!! Blessings.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

How Do You Handle Failure?

Just a couple of weeks ago the Los Angeles Galaxy professional soccer team won the Major League Soccer cup. In doing this they were considered ‘winners.’ This was an especially important win for English soccer player David Beckham, because he had been paid millions of dollars to come and help the Galaxy win. For four years they had failed to win the ultimate prize. So when they won this year, everybody applauded David Beckham for again being a winner.

The blunt truth is that there are very few “winners” the way the world defines this term. Out of 16 teams in the Major Soccer League, only the Galaxy won the cup. Out of 30 basketball teams in the NBA, only the Dallas Mavericks won the trophy. If we go by the world’s definition of winning, then all the other teams in these sports were failures; they failed to win it all.

I think we all too often apply this definition to our lives as well. We believe that if we don’t continue to climb the company ladder then we fail. We believe that if we aren’t making ‘lots’ of money, then we fail. We believe that if we don’t have a spouse, two kids, a house, and a dog, then we fail.

The good news is that God looks at things differently. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” God looks at the heart.

It is true that we do fail in that we might fall short of the expectations of others, or we might fail to meet our goals. How do you handle failure? If you have the definition of the world, then it might lead you to get down on yourself or your life. But if you think about 1 Samuel 16:7, then you realize that what is important is the status of your heart.

As long as you are doing your best and seeking God’s will, then you will be fine. So, anytime you experience what seems like failure, then you need to seek after God, who will make sure your heart is in the right place, and set you off on the correct path again. Failure then turns into an opportunity to adjust ourselves in God’s will and to re-focus on the goal God has for us. Blessings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What New Thing I Learned Last Week

This last Sunday we had our annual Youth Sunday. Usually Youth Sunday is held when I am away, but this year I got to be there. I had a wonderful time watching our youth do the prayers, read the scripture, do the children's sermon, and even help with the main sermon. I was moved by the maturity and seriousness the kids displayed, but also by their enjoyment of the experience.

The scripture passage for the morning came from Matthew 18:1-5, with the main verse being Matthew 18:3, "And he said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'" The title of the sermon was "Faith Like A Child."

The sermon started with one of our high school boys giving his testimony of how he came to our church and has grown in his faith while attending. I was excited to hear his story and watch as he spoke with great enthusiasm and style. The sermon was finished up by our high school director, who went on to talk about how the youth encourage and teach her even in the midst of her teaching them.

However, what really spoke to me was the word 'change.' I have read this passage many, many times, but this time I was caught by the word ‘change’, as Jesus said, 'unless you change and become like little children.' Our high school director pointed out that in our younger days we are trusting of what we are told, but as we get older we begin to question and doubt. So, for us to have faith like a child, we have to change our thinking from our questioning mold of adulthood to the trusting mindset of a child.

I realized that the only way I can change is to let God change me. I cannot change myself because I have grown too far past trusting like a child. I have been lied to and deceived too many times by people to trust like a child. This can even at times affect my ability to trust God. I know that I can trust God, but there is a part of me that doubts.

Can you relate to this? Do you have trouble trusting others? Does this carry over into your relationship with God? Does it affect your faith in God? We must allow God to help us to believe in Him as a child does. We need to pray to God to give us the ability, the faith to trust in His word and His way; His will and His power. Only then can we truly experience God and see the Kingdom of Heaven. What have you learned lately? I'd be interested to know. Blessings.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

I think most people would agree that life is not easy. Life can be very challenging with school, work, marriage, children, as well as the every day problems that come along. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by life. Which leads us to ask the question, ‘Does God give us more than we can handle?

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” I believe that just as God doesn’t give us more than we can bear in regards to the temptations of life, so He doesn’t give us more than we can bear in the events of our lives.

There are indeed problems in life, some that are great, but God doesn’t give these problems to us. Instead, God promises to be with us in the midst of them. As Isaiah 43:2 tells us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” God is ever with us and will watch over us. God will help us in our struggles and will give us strength.

The problem really lays with us, not God. Too often we don’t look to God for help, and so we will struggle along in our own limited power. Without God’s help our problems, challenges, and struggles overwhelm us. Another issue is that we allow our lifestyle to become more than we can handle. We allow our kids to be in choir, and baseball, and Girl Scouts, and the next thing we know we are running in too many different directions. Soon we find that we are facing burn out blaming God for all that has come down on us.

The answer for us is to be wise in the choices we make. The first choice needs to be to seek out God daily. Seek out God through prayer, Bible Study, and fellowship. The second choice needs to be limiting how much we plan in our lives. Don’t do too much, and if you start to feel stretched, cut back. Third, if and when you feel your life is too much to handle, go to God for help and allow Him to give you extra wisdom and strength. Trust in Him to not let the waters sweep over you.

Don’t let your life be too much too handle. There is a way out and God can help you find it. Blessings.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Deepening Relationships

The truth is that we have been created to be in relationships with others. All people not only desire to be in a deep relationship with another person, but it is a part of their make-up to have deep relationships. In this blog I would like to explore how we can deepen our relationships.

First, for a relationship to go deeper there needs to be honesty. You need to be able to share with the other person your thoughts, and feelings, and desires, and dreams. You need to be able to talk about important topics and not hold back. You need to allow yourself to tell this other person what you experienced, both past and present. You need to develop an environment where both of you can talk openly.

Second, communication is important in a relationship. In my counseling of couples, I see this as one of the weakest points of people’s relationships. People have trouble communicating with others. There have been many times when I have told one spouse something, and then I will see the other spouse a week later, only to learn that the wife never communicated the information to the husband; or visa versa. People don’t talk that much anymore, and if they do talk, there is not much depth to their conversation. We have to learn good communication skills, and have a willingness to communicate, if we hope to develop deeper relationships.

Third is what I call the triangle of relationships. How this works is that God is at the top of the triangle, one person in the relationship is on one side of the triangle, and the other person is on the other side. As a person grows in their relationship with God, they move up the triangle toward the top (where the triangle gets more narrow). If both people are growing in their relationship with God together, then they will inevitably be growing closer to each other as well. The stronger they are in their faith, the deeper their relationship with each other will be able to grow.

I pray that we will all seek to deepen our relationships with those whom we desire to grow closer to. May God bless you in your relationships!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What is Most Important ?

Everybody has something or someone that is important to him or her. How do you know what is the most important thing in your life? Is what is most important really what should be most important? This is a helpful subject, because all too often we don’t fully think about what we value or what we should value.

First, how do you know what is the most important thing in your life? The answer to this is really pretty easy. Look at your schedule. How do you spend your time? Where does most of your time go? Does it go to your work? To sleep? To family? To friends? As you see where you spend the bulk of your time, you can see what you value. Now you may want to argue with me that you work more than you spend time with your family, but you value your family more. Let’s look at it closer then. Most full-time jobs require around 40-45 hours per week on average. Let’s say that you have about 25-30 hours free in your week. If you are spending extra time at work and only a small percentage of your free time with your family, then again, your work is more important. If you are going off to dinner with a friend instead of spending time with your family or significant other, then your friends are more important.

What should be most important? The Bible helps us to answer this question. When Jesus was asked what the greatest command was, he said in Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.’” In other words, our relationship with God should be the most important thing to us. Jesus also said that if we held to this truth, then our lives would be much better off. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” When we seek to be in a right relationship with God, and with God’s will for our lives, then all things will work out for us.

The thing that should be the next most important part of our lives is our relationships with others. Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” We have been created to be in relationship with others. If we do not have good relationships in our lives, then it won’t matter how successful, or rich, or powerful we are, our lives will not mean much. Even more, we will constantly be searching for peace and fulfillment.

I hope that the two great commands Jesus talked about are what are most important to you. If not, may you can seek to make them important in your life. Blessings.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Parable Re-told

One day a high school boy decided he was going to invite four of his friends to church. They all said yes and went to church the next week. At church they heard about Jesus and how He died for them so that they could be forgiven and have eternal life. They all thought it was nice and told the boy they would like to come back. The next week the boy invited them all again. This time only three said they could come. The first boy was hanging out with his ‘cool’ friends, and didn’t have time for church. After a few weeks of the boy asking his friends to come to church, only one of the four continued to go. The second boy got ‘too busy’ with school to go anymore. The third boy joined an after-school group that met on the church day and began to be influenced by his friends against the church. But the fourth boy who kept on going to church gave His life to Jesus and even started inviting his friends as well!

This is a re-telling of Jesus’ parable of the sower. Jesus’ parable goes like this: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown…” (Luke 8:5-8)

Why did Jesus tell this parable? I believe it was meant to give His followers encouragement. I believe that Jesus wanted them (and us) to understand that not everyone who hears the message about Jesus will receive these words with enthusiasm. In fact, many will reject what is told to them. There will be a few, however, that will receive Jesus. But we won’t know who will receive these words, and who won’t, until after we share. And if even one person receives Jesus, then our efforts will be worth it!

So sow your seeds; tell people about Jesus; invite people to church; share your experiences. Bless others as you have been blessed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Looking Up

If you remember Chicken Little, you know that looking up got him into trouble. If you look up, maybe something from the sky will fall on you. Maybe you will see something that will cause you concern. Maybe things will appear out of place. Maybe, Maybe, Maybe… The Bible has a different take on looking up. In Colossians 3:2 we are told, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” What this verse is saying is that we are to have a heavenly, or eternal perspective on life. The things of the earth are temporary. Relationships begin and end. We have a possession and then we don’t. We are born and we die. If we try and put too much trust in the things of this world, it will disappoint us.

The things of heaven are eternal. Eternal life. Love. Worshiping God. Impacting the lives of others, especially for God. That is what makes the Bible such an amazing book. It is constantly pointing us to the things of heaven. The Bible is regularly leading us to look up to God for guidance, strength, perspective, and His saving grace.

Think about the things of the earth. What do you have? What do you possess? What do you want? How have you been disappointed? Now think about the things God brings into your life: love, forgiveness, strength, salvation. These things do not disappoint. When you regularly look up, you remember what is important and where your focus should be. As Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God will give all that we need for a wonderful life when we look up to Him and trust in Him! Blessings.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A not-so-well-known Bible verse that impacted you

The Bible is one of the most read books of all time, if not THE most read book. It has many verses that are well known: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Turn the other cheek.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Yet, there are so many verses in the Bible that we don’t know which contain great and wonderful truths.

One verse that is not as well known, but has impacted my life comes from the book of James, chapter 4, verses 13-15: “Come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there, and engage in business, and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.’”

This passage makes a powerful statement of living according to God’s will, not my own. When I live based on my own desires, I am saying to myself that I am wiser than God. When I make plans apart from God’s input, and apart from the guidance of scripture, then I believe that I am capable of knowing what tomorrow will bring. It is a much better plan to seek out God’s will and live according to what He wants for me.

This concept of living according to God’s will can be tough for many, because so many people have an independent spirit. People don’t want to be told what to do by others, or even by God. Instead, they seek to do what THEY WANT TO DO, not always what is best to do.

This passage has helped me understand that God is eternal, and my life is just temporary. God is the God of the universe. I am His creation. God has all wisdom, and I have limited understanding. God is holy, and I am sinful and flawed. I do not know what my life will be like tomorrow, but if I trust in God, and follow His will, then I can know that I will walk a good path of fruitfulness and purpose! Blessings.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Prayers

Most people learn to pray through rote prayers. They learn the mealtime prayers of ‘God is great, God is good, now I thank Him for this food.’ Or they learn the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.’

Along with this, prayer often is very organized. We pray at certain times. We take prayer requests so that we can pray for specific events and people. We have organized prayer meetings or special times of prayer in church services. We like to know how we are going to pray and when we are going to pray and who we are going to pray for.

But what about random prayers? What are random prayers? They are prayers that just happen throughout the day randomly. For example, maybe you are driving along and you hear a siren, so you randomly pray for the ambulance and the person who is injured. Or you pass a school and you decide at that moment to pray for the teachers and students of the school.

Why random prayers? Random prayer allows you to pray for people and things you might not normally pray for. Being open to random prayer allows you to listen to God’s prompting for situations that might be a ‘now’ need. Random prayer leads you to reach beyond what is comfortable and normal for your prayer life. Random prayer leads you to trust in God for His leading, and guiding, and responding.

I hope you try some random prayer today, and every day! Blessings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What is Hell, Exactly?

Hell is not a topic most people like to talk about. It is not even a topic most churches talk about? Why is this? I believe it is because the idea of hell is appalling to most people. The idea of hell is that it is a terrible place of intense heat and pain and torture. Why would a place like that exist? How could God allow something so terrible?

According to Jesus, Hell does exist. I'm not sure EXACTLY what hell is, but I do have a relative idea based on the teachings of Jesus. In the gospel of Luke, chapter 16, Jesus tells the story of a beggar named Lazarus who begged at the gate of a rich man named Abraham. Lazarus had faith, but Abraham did not. They both died. Lazarus went to heaven and Abraham went to hell (or hades). Then Jesus says this in verses 23-24, "In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham (the Father of all Nations who is in Heaven) far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'"
Apparently, there is torment and great need in hell (he was needing even a drop of water). He goes on to ask God to send someone to his brothers to tell them that hell is real so that they will believe in Jesus and be saved.
So let's look briefly at these issues:
Why does hell exist? Hell exists because Satan exists. Ever since Satan (who was once an angel of light) got himself thrown out of heaven by trying to overthrow heaven, he has been bent on trying to steal people from God. As 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Satan wants to devour you by taking you away from God, and all the blessings God wants to bring into your life. Hell has been established for Satan and all of his followers.
Why is there torment? There is torment because the truth is, hell is devoid of all love. If God is love, and only because of God love exists in the world, then once you are out of the presence of God, you will be out of the presence of love. Imagine for a moment having "NO" love, or peace, or goodness in your life. That would truly be a world of torment. Hell at its worst is the fact that you will be forever out of the presence of God!
Why is Abraham (the one in hell) in such great need? People search for meaning and purpose in so many things: money, fame, success, possessions.... Yet, none of these things will ever satisfy. Without Jesus as our Savior, we will always find ourselves in need, because our spirit will never be at peace. In hell, you will forever be without peace; you will forever be in need.
So, don't think that hell is a great place to party with all of your non-Christian friends. Don't sing "I'm on a highway to hell" as a trumpet call. Give yourself to Jesus, and receive the wonderful gift of love, salvation, and forgiveness. Blessings.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. Notice key words like ‘burdensome or cruel.’ To understand how these words are important, it is good to note that God created us to be in relationship with each other, not to be a lord over another.

We see oppression in many forms. A man can oppress a woman. A parent can oppress a child. A leader can oppress those whom he or she leads. One group can oppress another group. We see a prime example of this in the book of Exodus (in the Bible), where the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians. At one point Moses is appointed by God to free the Israelites from their slavery. However, when Moses came to inform the Pharaoh, the Pharaoh responded by adding more work to be done; the oppression increased.

We see this happen often in marriages as well. That is why the statistics for domestic violence are so high. One spouse ‘oppresses’ the other by use of some kind of control. This is not how a marriage is to be. In a marriage there is to be mutual love and the giving of themselves to each other.

People can be oppressed by addictions as well. When a person ‘has to have’ a drink, or a cigarette, or a drug, they are oppressed by this substance. The substance ‘controls’ their life.

God wants to break us free of any oppression. Free of our sin, free of the abuses, free of the cruelty. God, who is love, wants us to experience love. God created us in love, and made us to experience love. As children of God, we need to not only seek God to break us of our oppression, but help others to break free as well. As we are told in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

What oppressions do you see around you? How can you break free of them? How can you help others break free? Blessings.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


They say that imitation is the greatest form of compliment. I remember when Tyler and Tiffany were young. They would regularly copy Tami when she was in the kitchen cooking. When Tyler was younger, he loved to get out his Star Wars sword and copy the Jedi Knights from the Star Wars movies. I have a great picture of my dad and me sitting on our couch when I was young. My dad had his hands behind his neck, and right next to him I was sitting in the same way!

Why do kids copy their parents? Because they look up to them and want to be like them. Kids want to get bigger, older, and smarter, so they look to their parents for an example. The problem with this comes when the parents aren’t setting a good example. Later in life through peer pressure, this can be a problem if their friends are setting a bad example. Copying others can be helpful, but only if their behavior is worth imitating.

When Jesus called His disciples, He did so by saying ‘Follow Me.’ Jesus not only wanted them to follow Him physically, but to follow what He did as well. Jesus’ method was to have them watch Him minister to people, then He had the disciples do some ministry while He watched. This was so that when He left the earth, they would be ready to do it on their own and be examples to others.

So a couple of good questions are: What kind of example are you? Who are your examples? We are called to live our lives as Christians in a way that helps other know how to live. We need to have people in our lives who help to remind us of how to be strong, obedient Christians. That way, when others are copying you, it is a good thing, not a bad thing. Blessings.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

What are you settling for?

Do you have a job that you don’t like? A spouse who isn’t there for you? A life that you are tired of? Many will answer “yes” to at least one of these questions in their lifetime. That doesn’t mean that you have to change jobs, your spouse, or quit on your life. What it might mean is that you are just “settling” for things in your life, thinking that what you have is all that you can have.

In John 10:10 Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The thief Jesus is referring to is Satan. Satan, having gotten kicked out of heaven, is furious at God. Satan doesn’t want anyone to find God. Satan is trying to steal our joy and our salvation. That is why Jesus came to this earth, to defeat the power of Satan. The apostle Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When we let sin reign in us, we will be robbed of our joy. But when we let Jesus have His way with us, then we will experience the deep joy of life. We will enjoy our job because we work at it for the Lord, not for people. Our marriage will be more meaningful because we give it to God, and love our spouse the way God’s calls us to. Our lives will have more joy because we will be filled with the joy of the Spirit.

We will discover new meaning to our lives when we live for God. We will have a new understanding of what we are called to do, because we will have the wisdom of God. We will see blessings abound because we will have the eyes of God. So, don’t just settle for life, live it fully in Christ. Blessings.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Turned Up the Heat?

A few weeks ago my family and in-laws went to Palm Springs to celebrate Tami’s dad’s birthday. The one thing he wanted to do was play golf, so we did. It was team golf: Tami and me verses Tyler and her dad. When we started at 7:30 a.m. it was about 90 degrees. When we finished it was about 115 degrees. As we were finishing we all felt like someone has just turned a dial to turn up the heat! It was nice when we were able to go back to the hotel and lounge in the pool.

The weather is not the only way the heat can be turned up. We can feel the ‘heat’ in relationships, our work, even in athletics. When the heat gets turned up, life is not fun. You always want to figure out who turned up the heat. Is it heat from outside pressures, or heat from our own inner expectations? Sometimes it can be both.

Whenever you feel the heat getting turned up, here is what you should do: look beyond yourself. Where should you look? Look to God. This is because we are not capable of turning off the heat ourselves. Often times when we try and turn off the heat, it just causes more problems. But God has the power and know-how to turn it off.

In the last month it seems that the heat has been turned up in my life via conflict. At first my anxiety level goes up, my stress level goes up, my ability to sleep goes down, and I get a little overwhelmed. Then I remember to look beyond myself. I do 2 things that help. First, I seek to give it to God. As Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.” What we allow our minds to dwell on will determine if the heat will get to us or not.

Second, we need to give it away to God and let God deal with it. Going back to Philippians 4, verses 6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Give it away by presenting it to God. But for God to deal with it you have to let go of it.

In my situation, conflict after conflict was dealt with in time. God provided me opportunities to resolve the conflict, or cause me to realize that the conflict was more in me than in the situation. In giving it to God I was able to be less anxious, be less stressed, and sleep better. I trusted in God and He delivered me.

The next time you feel the heat is being turned up, forget about the heat, and look to God. Blessings.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

That's Rich

When I saw our blog topic for this week, “That’s Rich,” the first thoughts in my mind were: ‘What do I want to say about gaining money?’ But then as I thought about it more, I realized that one of the great problems in this world is that people think that they can find contentment with money. If you read the book of Ecclesiastes, you will realize that King Solomon, who was very rich, discovered that you do not get contentment from money. As he said in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “Whoever loves money, never has enough…”

So, what was I to write about? I realized that the Bible is full of wonderful verses that share about how we can be rich. Let me share just a few…

Luke 12:21This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Ephesians 2:4 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy.”

1 Timothy 6:18 “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

The Bible talks about the best kind of riches we are to have: being rich toward God; rich in God’s power; rich in God’s mercy; rich in God’s presence; rich in good deeds. We are told in the book of Colossians to set our eyes on the things of heaven. When we are rich in how I just described, we are keeping our eyes on heaven, because this is how God guides us to live. A life lived according to God’s ways will always be a rich life. Blessings.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

God Uses Us

If you were to list the ways your life has been useful for this world, what are some things you would write on your list? Raising your kids? Becoming a helpful person? Teaching someone an important skill? It can be a challenge to be useful in this life. We can’t all create a cure for a disease or bring about peace between warring nations. So how can we truly have a useful and purposeful life?

The truth is, when we give our lives to God, God will find a way to bless our efforts. In this way, as we live for God, God uses us. Jesus told us in Matthew 16:24-25, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’” We wrongly think that we need to do things for ourselves, and then we will be happy and find our purpose. The truth is, we must give ourselves to Christ who will guide our way and lead us into a purposeful life.

God cannot use us when we seek our own way, but only when we humble ourselves and live for God. This is because when we follow the way we think we should go, we are not open to God’s way; we have hardened our hearts towards God whether we realize it or not. This world leads us astray causing us to think that we are on our own to find meaning. God gives our life meaning; God gives our relationships meaning; God gives our work meaning.

Our ultimate call in life is to worship God. The life and death of Jesus helps us to do this. As we come to know Jesus, life makes sense, because we can see this life in the context of the eternal. We cannot see the eternal without accepting Jesus as our Savior and our Lord. Life will never make sense without this kind of awareness.

One of the best ways that God can use us is to help someone else come to know Jesus. When we can help another receive Jesus, God truly uses us and gives our life purpose! Blessings.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


Sanctification is the act of setting apart a believer for God. This setting apart is enabled because of Christ’s sacrifice. Romans 3:10 says, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’ There is no one who is righteous because we all have sin in our lives. God, being a holy God, cannot be in the presence of sin. To take care of this problem, God sent Jesus to this earth to give His life as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus paid the penalty for us; for our sin. When we accept Jesus as our ‘Savior,’ Jesus sanctifies us, or sets us apart from our sin. In this sanctification we are able to come to God.

What does this mean? It means that our sin no longer separates us from God. Through confession and forgiveness we can have our sin removed. So, we can always have access to God, because we can be sanctified again and again by the blood of Jesus. This can also help remove our feelings of guilt, because once the sin is removed, it is done away with, and no longer has any power in our lives. It is as if that sin never happened, for God ‘remembers it no more.’

As a pastor I deal with so many people who live their lives feeling guilty for their past sins, even though they say they have asked God to forgive them. They live in guilt because they cannot forgive themselves, or they think that God continues to remember. In essence, by not moving on, they are crucifying Jesus over and over again. They are not believing that Jesus’ death on the cross once and for all paid for their sins!

What we need to do is accept and believe that Jesus’ death sanctifies us. What we need to do is live as people who are free, not as people who are trapped by our sin. What we need to do is let God empower us to be a blessed people because we are lifted up above our sin. Our Lord, sanctify me this day. Amen.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

God Bless America

One of the songs people sing on and around the Fourth of July is “God Bless America.” The lyrics say: “God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.”

You hear these words, as if they are a prayer to the Lord, to stand beside her (America) and guide her. But how can God bless a Nation that has departed so far from Him? Much of what really happened in establishing our nation has been erased from our textbooks. Revisionists have rewritten history to remove the truth about our country's Christian roots. Fifty-two of the 55 signers of The Declaration of Independence were orthodox, deeply committed Christians. The other three believed in the Bible as the divine truth, they believed in the God of scripture, and they believed in God’s personal intervention!

Our country has gone far away from our Christian roots. From outlawing prayer in school, to taking the Ten Commandments out of the courtroom, the country has turned to moral relativism (morality determined by each person on their own). Instead, they should be using the Bible, God’s word to us, which guides us in moral absolutes. How can God guide those who do not seek Him? How can people expect God to bless our country (or them as individuals) when they do not follow God?

I believe that if we want God to bless our country again, then we need to get back to our Christian roots, and let God’s word be the guiding force of our lives, our laws, and our country! I know there are many who disagree, but I believe that is a strong reason of why our country is as troubled as it is. I do want God to bless America. I hope that people humble themselves, and turn to God. Then indeed God will bless our great nation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Are Celebrations Important?

Just this month we have already celebrated communion at church (June 5), my daughter Tiffany’s birthday (June 7), and Tyler’s 8th grade graduation (June 15). Tomorrow we celebrate Tiffany’s graduation from 6th grade. So, we might wonder, why are all these celebrations important? Do they put undo attention on the person or event?

Let me give my opinion on this, but saying that I do believe celebrations are important. First, they give us a reminder of what is happening. The celebration of communion reminds us that Jesus died on the cross so that we might receive forgiveness for our sins. The birthday celebration reminds us of the wonderful blessing of Tiffany being born 12 years ago. The graduations tell of the hard work and learning that the kids experienced in school.

Second, it gives us a sense of tradition. It allows us to recognize the significance of the person, or event, and binds us with those who have gone before us. It gives us a nice regularity to our lives as we celebrate the event monthly (like communion) or annually (such as birthdays or Christmas).

Third, it acknowledges the accomplishment. It is important to remember what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. Communion allows us to keep that fresh in our minds. It is important to remember our birth and that God created us special and unique (especially for Tami and me since we struggled to have our children). In terms of graduations, it gives praise to the individual who put in the work it takes to graduate.

Fourth, it helps us feel special. There is so much in life that can beat or tear us down. These celebrations allow us to feel good about who we are and what we have done. These celebrations lead us to believe that we are special, just as God believes we are special. It gives us a time where others encourage us by being part of the celebration with us.

Do you think celebrations are important? What do celebrations mean to you? Blessings.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

What Makes YOU So Right?

If you have ever tried to talk to someone about the Christian faith, someone who doesn’t believe as you do, you know that they are thinking: What makes YOU so right? There are many people who believe that the Christian faith is not the ONLY right way. They believe that there are many paths to God, not just Christianity. They believe that our thinking that Christianity is the only right way is NARROW thinking.

The truth is that it is Jesus, not me or other Christians who said in John 14:6, “..‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” What makes me so right is that I am sharing the truth of Jesus, God in the flesh. Jesus, the One who died on the cross and was raised from the dead so that we could have forgiveness of sins, and life eternal. Jesus, the One who said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in whom should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The truth is, people in our world like to have options. They have the option of staying home to eat, or going out to eat. They have the option of driving or flying when they go on vacation. Life is full of options. So, because of this, people want to have options when it comes to faith and religion. They don’t like to be told what is true and what isn’t true.

I trust in Jesus. I fully believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. There is great merit in who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. I have experienced His presence and power and forgiveness in my own life. Because of this, I don’t look at Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 to be limiting, but to be life changing and freeing. In Jesus I have discovered who I truly am, and the purpose I have for my life. In Jesus, I have assurance that I will dwell with God for all eternity. In Jesus I know that my life makes a difference, and is important.

I hope that you will open yourself up to this truth. Blessings.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Jesus Won a Choice for Us

There are many people, because of their economic conditions, that don’t have a choice in certain matters. Some people will never be members of a country club. Some people will never be able to attend a top academic university. Some will not be able to have a fancy wedding. And on and on it goes. We might think about this and think it to be unfair.

The good news is that there is something that is very fair, and that is salvation. Whether we go to heaven or not is a choice that everyone can make. This is because of what Jesus has done. As Jesus Himself said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus gave His life on the cross so that people could choose to receive Him as their Savior.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, there were two criminals by Him; one on either side. One of the criminals asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus got to heaven. Jesus said to the criminal: “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise!” Jesus wasn’t concerned about his status, or how much money he had. Jesus didn’t care about his reputation or his wrongdoings. At that moment, that man was in essence asking for forgiveness from Jesus, and receiving Jesus as His Savior. With this, Jesus told the man He would be in heaven.

Because of Jesus’ victory over death, Jesus has won for us a choice: the choice of heaven. Because of Jesus’ victory over Satan, Jesus has purchased us from death to life. Because of Jesus’ victory over sin, Jesus makes it so that we can choose to be free of our sins!! How wonderful are these choices we have to make. May we make them well. Blessings.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping Up Appearances

In life we often have a side of us that we show in public, and another side that might be seen in private. We like to ‘keep up appearances’ so that others will think good of us. We don’t like others to see our faults and weaknesses. We want to appear strong, capable, and independent, even though inside we often feel weak and in need of help.

The apostle Paul helps us with these words from 2 Corinthians 11:30, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” And also these from

2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” How could he say this? Because he knew that he had weaknesses, and that God could not only help him in and through his weakness, but bring about something wonderful through them!

Today when I was in prayer I was able to let down my guard to the Lord, and let the Lord know that I needed His presence, wisdom, and power in my life. In this time of prayer He gave me the word RESTORE. As I thought about this word I realized that there are many ways that I need to be restored by God. As God restores me, He fills me with His presence, wisdom, and power.

How is it that I need to be restored? I need God to restore my focus, as I can easily become unfocused. I need God to restore my energy as the ministry I do often drains me. I need God to restore my spirit so that I can connect to His Spirit. I need God to restore my desire to serve Him. I need God to restore my perspective, as I get lost in an earthly perspective and need to again have an eternal perspective. I need God to restore my ability to live in the ‘now’ instead of always thinking about what I need to do in the future.

There are so many ways that life can drain me, leading me to need restoration. How wonderful it is that God is a restoring God. How wonderful it is that I can be real with God and admit where I need help. How wonderful it is that I can trust God to love me in the midst of my being weak. God will not put me down for being weak, but all the more will lift me up into His presence and provide me what I need to carry on.

Praise be to God for His love and presence. Blessings.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What is Seen in the Light

When I was in college I worked during a summer as a Junior High summer counselor for a Day Camp. I had about 8-12 Junior Highers 5 days a week, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., for the whole summer! If you know anything about Junior Highers you know they have trouble entertaining themselves. So in a desperate moment one day I decided to create a game. We were in a small classroom with several long tables. The kids hid under the tables, then I turned off the lights. I then threw a penny, you could hear it bounce around, and then drop to the ground. The point of the game was to find the penny in the dark! (I know, I know, I was desperate to keep them occupied). Anyway, sometimes we would find the coin, sometimes we couldn’t find it until we turned the lights on. We were able to see the penny in the light.

Many people live their lives thinking that what they do in the dark cannot be seen; that their bad deeds can only be seen in the light. That is why crime increases when it gets dark. We think the darkness hides what we do.

But the truth is, God can see what we do in the darkness and in the light. In Psalm 139:7, 11-12, we read: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?… If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

You need to live your life as if you are always living in the light. Character is about how you behave even when others aren’t looking. At your job, you work hard whether your boss is there or not. If you work with money, you make sure you are always responsible with it. When you are talking about someone else, and they are not there, you make sure you don’t slander them. And on and on it goes. Live as though everything you do is seen in the light!

How are you doing with this? Where might you need to adjust your living? Your thinking? Blessings.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


A couple of months ago I did a sermon on being generous, and how when we are generous we have a much more thankful attitude. The idea of being generous comes from giving back from what we have been given. To do this we have to be aware of all that we have, and be thankful for the many blessings in our lives. More often than not, it comes from believing that we have all that we need, and can share from our abundance.

However, when we talk about being generous, I believe it needs to include our words. We need to be generous in giving words of encouragement to others. We live in a world that is so faced paced, and so concerned with individuality, that we often forget to be encouraging to others. We are so focused on what we are trying to accomplish that we forget to let others know of the good job they are doing.

I coach my son’s 13-14 year-old baseball team, and as a coach my job is to help them be the best baseball players they can be. I try and evaluate their current skill level, and then try and help them progress in their ability. Sometimes I do this by challenging them to not make mistakes. But I need to also remember that I can do this by being encouraging to them. I need to let them know what they are doing well before I tell them what they are doing wrong. Then I need to encourage them and instruct them in how to do it right!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have people experience your mere presence as an encouragement? In Ephesians 6:22 the Apostle Paul said: “I am sending Tychicus to you for the purpose of telling you of how I am doing, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.” Tychicus’ presence was going to bring encouragement to the church in Ephesus. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Paul said, “Therefore, encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”

Encouragement is a wonderful attribute to possess. It is such a blessing to build others up and help them believe in themselves. It is powerful to let others feel words of encouragement, and lead them on to great things. It is freeing for someone to break the barrier of self-doubt and unbelief because they have been encouraged to do so.

So, my challenge to you is to search for your gifts, talents, and abilities. What are you capable of doing? Probably more than you might already believe now. Know that God has created you with great abilities and potential. Let yourself believe in yourself, and do not let the negative voices of the world hold you down. Start doing great things today, and learn to encourage others as well. Blessings.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Your Favorite Disney Movie

Disney started making movies in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Their movies have set the bar for imagination and creativity. While I believe Pixar has now surpassed Disney in the making of quality movies, Disney set the standard for movies that entertain both kids and adults alike.

As I was thinking about the many Disney movies, I started to wonder which one I would choose as my favorite. There are so many good ones that I find it difficult to choose. So I’m not going to choose one, but list several: Pinocchio (made in 1940), The Jungle Book (1967), and Toy Story (1995), are my favorite animated movies.

I also like several non-animated movies: National Treasure (2004), The Chronicles of Narnia series (2005, 2008, 2011), and Bridge to Terebithia (2007). Without going into great detail into all these movies, what I like best is how you can be drawn into a world of adventure and fun, but also experience the reality of conflict and resolution. In each movie, in their own unique way, they teach us about friendship, love, and sticking together. They challenge us with the idea that life should and can be enjoyed.

In 1 John 4:8 we are told, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” The overriding theme in all of the Disney movies is love. Love helps to conquer all situations. This is so true to scripture, because God, who is love, is how we are empowered to excel and thrive in this life. Love is what leads us past our struggles and gives us the reason to believe in a better life and a better world.

I would love to hear from you about what your favorite Disney movie is, and why. But most of all, let the love of God dwell richly in you. If you do, your life will be so much better for it. It might even have a “happily ever after.” Blessings.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

One of the things about the Christian faith that people are most bothered by is Jesus’ death on the cross. Why did Jesus have to die? Could there have been another way?

Actually, before we can answer that question, we have to understand sin and sinful nature. Without going into a long theological discourse, let me give a quick overview of sin. When Adam and Eve were created by God, they were created to be in relationship with God. They were given everything that they needed. The Garden of Eden was a wonderful place to live, with choice foods. They were given the responsibility of caring for the animals and the garden.

However, there was one thing that was forbidden for them, and that was to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were deceived by Satan into thinking this fruit would be good to eat, and when they ate, for the first time, they knew good AND evil. In knowing evil they were now tempted to do evil. With this act sin was brought into the world.

Since God is a holy God, and cannot be in the presence of sin, this meant that human beings were cut off from God’s presence (which had been enjoyed so well by Adam and Eve up to this point). Through sacrifices of animals and their spilled blood, the penalty for our sin was paid. This happened on a daily basis.

God determined that through His Son Jesus Christ, the One who was perfect, a sacrifice once for all would be paid. As we are told in Romans 6:23, “For the penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus gave His life so that we could be free from our sin, and be made holy in Him. Through this imparted holiness we are again able to fellowship with God while on this earth, and have entrance into heaven when we die.

This, in short, is why Jesus had to die. Let’s us be thankful for this gift and receive this gift, today and always. Blessings.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


The title of our blog group this week is an interesting one, because it implies that God “needs” others to apologize for Him, as if God has done something wrong. The truth is, we only need to apologize when we have wronged another.

So why is it that some people think that God has wronged them? I can think of a couple of reasons: first, people feel entitled to a life of happiness. This is because our nation was founded on the principle of “the pursuit of happiness” for all. So, when life doesn’t bring happiness, they ultimately blame God, since God is supposed to be a loving God. So many think that a loving God is one who only allows good things to happen in our lives. The truth is, more often than not, we learn from our struggles and failures more than our successes. We also are made stronger through our trials. Just like a parent would be negligent if they gave their child “everything” they wanted, so God would do us a disservice in this as well.

Second, people feel wronged by God when a loved one dies. For some reason, even though we all know that we will die one day, people feel wronged by death. Why is it that people blame God for not keeping their loved one alive? All too often we are short sighted in this regard, not understanding life and death in eternal terms. We are told in the Bible that this earth is not our “home.” Our home is in heaven, where we will one day go to be with God for eternity. This world is our time to learn how to love others, and love God! When the time comes, death with come.

Third, people feel wronged by God in thinking that the way to heaven is so narrow. People have trouble accepting that only through faith in Jesus Christ can we get to heaven. “How narrow is this?” they ask. The truth is, God took on flesh, in human form, as the man Jesus Christ, to ultimately die for our sins. He paid the price for us. He made it so what was impossible (dwelling with a holy God) could be possible by making us holy through the shedding of His blood. He has given us a ticket to heaven. All we have to do is accept it. As Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” We have not been wronged, but blessed with this wonderful gift.

So the next time you feel “wronged” by God, or feel like you have to “apologize” for God, remember who God is, how much He loves us, and all that He has done for us. Blessings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Table Before My Enemies

Have you had enemies in your life? I can remember when I was in seventh grade, an eighth-grader would follow me home and threaten to beat me up. That was pretty scary. I had others who disliked me in high school. And once while working at a church, there was a couple who was trying to get the congregation turned against me. These are all examples of having enemies in life.

What are we to do with our enemies? The Bible is clear that we are to pray for them. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’” That is hard advice, because our tendency is to hate our enemy; to get back at our enemy. Why would Jesus tell us to pray for them? Because Jesus believed our enemies existed because they were misguided, and by prayer they could be brought back to God.

Even more, to seek evil against others, or to harbor hatred in your heart will make you a bitter and angry person. When we carry these feelings around in us, we cannot enjoy life, we cannot love others, we cannot fulfill God’s call. Instead, we are governed by our hatred and bitterness.

We see this ultimate example with Jesus, who on the cross was forgiving all who put Him on the cross. Jesus understood that their actions were due to their sinfulness; their shortsightedness. Jesus’ prayer for His enemies was this: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

You might struggle with the thought: But it isn’t fair that they get away with it. The truth is, they won’t get away with it. God will judge those who deserve judgment; those who have not given themselves to Christ. In Psalm 23:5 we are told by the Psalmist: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Our enemies will see the wonderful blessings we receive from God, while their actions and dark heart keep them from these blessings.

Next time you are wronged, instead of seeking revenge, pray. Pray that God would show them the error of their ways. They may humble themselves before God, ask for forgiveness, and tell you they are sorry. But even if they don’t, you will be able to enjoy God’s blessings here on this earth, and in heaven. Amen.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Liar, liar pants on fire is something that kids learn as a taunt to other kids. This statement shows us that even kids know that it is not a good thing to lie. Not only do they learn it from their parents, but they learn it by the consequences of their lies. More often than not, they will get caught in their lies.

We too learn in life that lies are not good. There are several reasons for this which I would like to propose to you. First, when we lie, we cannot be trusted. Psalm 58:3 tells us, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.” A liar is considered wicked. When someone lies, they begin to create this as part of who they are. It then becomes difficult for them to tell the truth, and it is difficult for others to believe them. In Isaiah 45:9, God says, “…I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right.” The Lord always speaks the truth and lets us know what is right and wrong. But a liar has trouble distinguishing between right and wrong. If it is good for them, then it is right.

Second, lying makes a person proud. Why? Because they are going against the God of truth, and in essence establishing what they believe is true and false in their lives. Liars have trouble seeing the truth of God because their lies create their own false truth. When we lie, we in essence will hear the words God spoke to Job in Job 38:2, “Who is it that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?”

Third, lying shows our sinfulness. In our lies we show that we only care about ourselves, and not those we hurt with our lies. Our lies lead us to deny that we have done wrong, and in our denial, we neglect the love we are to have for others. In our lies we are seeking to protect ourselves from harm, all the while we are harming our very being itself.

Lying and truth-telling are topics that books have been written about, so I do not propose to have expressed all there is to say. But hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought. Blessings.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What is Faith?

I believe the best definition of faith is found in the Bible, in Hebrews 11:1, which says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith then, is being able to be confident in what you believe in, even if you can’t see it.

Now we can show faith in many things. We put our faith in a chair when we sit in it, believing that it will not crumble to the floor. We put our faith in our love when we reach out and care for another person. The biggest way we show our faith is when we believe that there is a God who created this world, who loves us, cares for us, and died on the cross for us.

There are many who want to dispute this, saying that can’t believe in all of this. They say that they can’t exercise faith in a God they cannot see. Yet, they still exercise faith all the time in aspects of life that are unseen. Even going so far as the make themselves their own god (which is what they do when they put their faith and trust in themselves, believing they can get the job done).

To me, showing faith in yourself is more foolish than believing in a God that you can’t see. I believe this to be true, because I know that I can see God at work in my life, and in the lives of others. I can give you countless ways that I have seen God at work: through the miracles I’ve experienced in my own life, and the lives of those I’ve prayed for, and in seeing how God changes lives.

We even have testimonies of people who have died, and said they experienced God and heaven. Again, this takes FAITH to believe in what they say. But those testimonies that do not contradict the Bible could very well be true.

The most challenging aspect of faith is that you can’t really begin to understand God and God’s ways, until in faith you’ve given yourself to God. When we give ourselves to God, then God fills us with His Spirit, who resides in us. Jesus Himself told us that this would happen after He left the earth. He told us that it would be to our benefit that He left. As He said in the gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 25: “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” God’s Spirit resides within us through faith, and helps us to see and understand that what we believe is true. God’s Spirit gives us the spiritual eyes to see what is true.

I encourage you, if you have not received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that you do this, by asking God to forgive you of your sins (the wrong you’ve done), and receiving you as His child. Then, in faith, your eyes will begin to be opened. If you have done this, ask God to strengthen your faith, and help you to see Him at work in your life each day. Blessings.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How To Make A Difference with Your Life

I think if you ask most people, they would say that they want their life to count; they want their life to have purpose and meaning. When they get to the end of their lives, they want to be able to say that their life made a difference. Of course, the judgment of what makes a difference or not can vary, depending on what you value.

For some, their goal is to be able to say that they made a lot of money, and had fun, and were able to leave much for their kids. For others, they might want to leave a legacy behind: like a baseball diamond, or a concert hall. And still others might want to be able to say that they were able to make a difference not only in this life, but eternally. That is what I would say makes a difference, and I believe that is what God says makes a difference!

Vaclav Havel once said, “The real test of a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him. The apostle Paul, in the Bible, in Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has created us with gifts, and abilities, and the way we make a difference with our life is by living according to what we were created to do.

The challenge then is finding what we were created to do. The good news is that we don’t have to necessarily do this as a career, we just need to do it in our every day lives. For example, let’s say you are a gifted encourager, then by encouraging others you can make a difference in their life, and lead them into what they are destined to do. Or maybe you have a strong and undaunted faith, and you are able to lead others to faith. By giving them the faith that leads to salvation, you have touched their life for eternity!

The key is to keep ourselves focused on what we are called to do. As we are told in Hebrews 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus was focused on what He was called to do; die for us on the cross. We need to be focused like Jesus, and let Jesus lead us to fulfill our calling. If we do this, we will indeed make a difference with our lives. Blessings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Love of My Life

When I was in my early 20’s many of my friends were getting married. This was difficult for me, because I very much wanted to be married; I wanted to find the love of my life. I was dating, but was not finding that person I felt God was leading me to marry. The good thing is that I was willing to wait for that right person; for that love of my life.

As time went on I continued to struggle with this concern of not being married. Even into my late 20’s I still was unmarried. I began to wonder if I would ever be married. The older I got the more difficult it was to meet people to date. I could tell that there was a temptation to lessen my standards, because my goal was to be married.

Then one day I felt that I was overly concerned with this desire to be married. I felt it was affecting my ability to enjoy my life. So, I decided to commit myself fully to God. I made a pledge saying that I would serve the Lord with all my heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. Even if I were to never be married, I would be happy serving the Lord. I truly gave it over to the Lord. Even more, the Lord became the ‘love of my life!’

About a year and a half after this I met my wife, Tami, and we were married 13 months after we met. She is the love of my life, along with my children, but the Lord still is my number one love. I learned a valuable lesson that day, as Psalm 37:4 tells us: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desire of your heart.” It all starts with making the Lord the love of our life. Is the Lord the love of your life? Blessings.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Calvary. It is a name that is known in Christian circles, but not so much outside of the Christian faith. Calvary is the place where Jesus Christ was crucified. Jesus was brought to Calvary, and nailed to a cross. This was the custom of the day for executing criminals. Jesus was not a criminal, but the Jewish leaders were tired of Jesus getting in their way, and tired of Him leading the people away from their teaching. Because of this they came up with a plan that led to Jesus’ arrest and trial.

At the trial Pilate ultimately finds no grounds for Jesus to be crucified, so he has Jesus flogged as punishment. But when Jesus is brought back to Pilate, the Jews persist in speaking out against Jesus, calling for Him to be crucified. Still, Pilate doesn’t want to crucify Jesus, so he makes two other attempts to bring the trial to an end without crucifixion.

First, Pilate questions Jesus, hoping that Jesus will give him the answers he needs to release Jesus. But Jesus, knowing that He needed to go to Calvary to be crucified so that He could pay the penalty for the sin of humanity, says nothing in His defense.

Second, Pilate tries to reason with the Jewish leaders. We read this in the gospel of Luke 23:14-16, “‘You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.’” But this won’t get rid of Jesus, and so they persist, shouting, ‘Crucify Him. Crucify Him.’ They even choose the release of a violent prisoner, Barabbas, over Jesus.

Finally, Pilate surrenders to their will, and orders Jesus to be crucified. So Jesus is taken to CALVARY to be crucified. I wrote a song many years ago called CALVARY. The chorus says this:

“On Calvary He gave His life for me. On Calvary He gave His life for me.Opened the door, to eternity. Out of love, He died for You and me. Yes, He opened the door, to eternity.”

You may not understand fully why Jesus allowed Himself to go to Calvary (and He did allow Himself), but what’s important is to know that because He did, You and I have the blessing of being saved from our sin. By this blessing we receive the gift of being able to spend eternity in heaven with God! If you don’t know this, or haven’t received it, I pray that you will. If you do, then thank God for Calvary, and for what it means to you and me. Blessings.