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.