ThanksGIVING or ThanksPUSHING?

Picture1I believe that all of us enjoy Thanksgiving. We take a break, normally with family, and sit and really do give thanks to God for everything that we have: our health, our family, our friends, our house, our “stuff,” ….

Unfortunately, with the upcoming Christmas rush, and ESPECIALLY Black Friday, we seem to forget all of that.  We RUSH to the mall, pushing past the slow people, trampling others, in order to save a buck. How is it that we go from thankFUL to thankLESS and disrespect fellow man?

I know it would have been more appropriate to post this yesterday prior to Black Friday starting at 6PM on Thursday, but this is more evidence that the world is winning over Christianity.  It’s now more acceptable to get STUFF than spend time with family and the important things in life (Hey, I’m guilty too, so I’m not condemning anybody – I went out at 8 PM last night).

But let’s all try to remember today, that just yesterday we were THANKING God, because He IS GREAT and should be thanked for all things.

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17 NASB)

[Source of photo: cannot be attributed to actual source but found on Google.com]

God has a plan (part 2)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with

thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God,

which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phillippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

As many of you know, these past few months have been extremely trying on my family, with most of the stress coming in the last 7 days. Even as strong believers, it was difficult to believe that there was a way to pull everything together.

However, God isn’t limited by our ideals, our thoughts, or our imaginations. And as He rolls out His plans, He gives us power, strength, and faith to believe more and more:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Phil 4:13 KJV)

Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

God has a plan

After what seems to be an eternity, my wife and I are now settled in (well at least in possession of) our new house. What started last December when we found out we were moving, has now finished almost 11 months later.

I’ll admit that there were many days that I did question whether this day would ever get here. After all, we were not even close to our timeline. In fact, we were scheduled to move in Sept 13, but God decided to let it rain a little here (understatement of the year). After a few more builder delays, we finally got to see a slab foundation, and then soon after walls. Then, a roof, siding, and finally interior finishing.

With just a month left, we could see the end, and were poised to close on Nov 20. However, not everything was in place just yet, and we were delayed several more times until today, our move in day.

But last week, specifically Thursday was probably the most trying day of all. You see, we got the appraisal back, and due to specific VA guidelines, the lender would not approve the mortgage. At the same time, we found out that our apartment had been rented, and we had 6 days to move out (with no place to go). Finally, on Thursday afternoon, after much much much much anticipation, we finally received word that everything lined up for a Tuesday 11/26 closing.

I could not have imagined early on Thursday that there was a possible way for us to get all the paperwork signed, submitted, approved, and cleared to get here today. However, this is much like how God works.

He doesn’t follow OUR rules. He is not limited by OUR imagination. He does not follow OUR logic in accomplishing tasks. God’s ways are not our ways.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

We feel stressed and unfortunate when we are reminded of that when we try to do things our way. It’s so easy to fall victim to not trusting God, or thinking that maybe He has another plan. Yet, many times, I feel like God has to remind us to be patient. You see … (end of part 1)

1 Corinthians 13

Very simply today, I want to remind us of LOVE.

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

If you enjoy modern Christian music, here is a link to King & Country’s The Proof of Your Love that interprets this passage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-2dKOfbC9c

Please comment…

My favorite teacher from high school was Mrs. Janice Martin. She was my math teacher at Thompson High School, and didn’t know me from Adam.

But, somehow, she seemed to know what I needed to succeed, always encouraged me, and believed that I could do anything.  She supported me in following my high school dream of attending a prestigious college, and trusted that I would do fine.

Parents, generally speaking, also have high expectations and believe in their children. They believe that their children can be anything they want, and will give almost anything to help them succeed.

What is even greater: is God and His support for us!

The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand (Psalm 121:5 NIV)

He is there to support us and watch over us.  He is there to LOVE us:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

I mentioned earlier that my teacher, and our parents, have expectations for us. Do you suppose God has expectations for you? What are they? [Please comment below]

Let’s Make a Deal!

letsmakeadealEver made a deal with God? I’ll admit I have. Here’s a true story from my life about witnessing.

One day while working in the tire plant, I came across a very cranky man who was known to be an atheist, and very intolerable. The timing from my perspective was quite unique, because at the time, I was taking an evangelism class in Seminary where we were encouraged to witness quite frequently. 

As I came upon this man (we’ll call him Luke), I felt like God was asking me to stop and talk with him. So, here I was with a dilemma.  I was on my way through the plant to the warehouse to get some work done. Using this as an excuse, I thought to myself, I’ll “make a deal with God.”

I thought, if Luke is still here when I come back through, then I’ll stop and talk to him. 

Knowing my meeting in the warehouse would take at least 30 minutes, I knew I made a good deal! 

An hour later, I make my way back through the plant, and guess what?

Yea . . . , Luke was right there, smack dab in the SAME SPOT where I saw him earlier. 

I thought I was going to get out of this, but I did make a “deal.”  So I stopped and talked to Luke. That day, I discovered that Luke had been educated in a Catholic school as a child.  However, during his life, Luke had been put under trial again and again with severe family sufferings and tribulations.

He told me he no longer believed in God.

Over the course of the next few years, I had many occasions to speak with Luke. While many people avoided him at work, I was driven to follow up with him about my beliefs.

Soon, Luke began to visit me at work. I had to ask myself: why? He knew that I kept a Bible on my desk, that I was a Youth Pastor, and that I was in Seminary!

Before Luke retired, I remember many days when he would come, sit in my office, and ask “what’s the word of the day?” The first time I remember him asking this, I didn’t know what he meant. When I asked him, Luke pointed at my Bible.  He wanted to know what the Word was that day (what I had read in the Bible).

Wow – talk about a turn of events! An atheist pursuing God!

And I had the blessing of seeing God work through it all. Not because I made a deal, but because I was obedient and spoke when God asked me too (well . . . an hour later).

To this day, I don’t know if Luke is Saved or not; he never admitted to it before he retired. However, I can be sure of one thing, even though I “made a deal with God;” God had a bigger picture that He was working on all along. 

Because I listened and obeyed, God used me and blessed me at the same time. Thanks God, for helping me hold up my end of the deal!

What if God . . .

Think back to the last time you saw the doctor. Imagine if he told you, “You’re body is reacting to the medicine….” Your first thought is probably, “Oh, no!” You wonder what will happen next, more medicine, a different treatment, maybe surgery, who knows….?

Now, imagine instead that the doctor told you “You’re body is responding to the medicine….” This time you’re probably not only calm, but probably delighted to hear those words.

You’ve heard that God is the “Great Physician.”  In John 5:1-9, we find that Jesus healed a man with a sickness lasting 38 years:

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (NIV)

Other stories about Jesus’ healing miracles are throughout the Bible. There is no doubt that God can heal any wound. He can make all things better, and He will make all things new (Revelation 21:5a “And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!'” NIV).

Now, let’s turn the table a second. 

 

WHAT IF GOD reacted to us.

…every time that we stumble

… every sin we commit

…every action we fail to take

 

What if God reacted the way that we deserve? What if He punished us, gave us the consequences of our actions without His mercy? What kind of life would we live?

Thankfully, He doesn’t react to us; He responds to us. In fact, God responds to us in a loving way.

Every disappointment, every letdown, every fiasco that we create, no matter the sin, God is still there by our side, willing and ready to forgive us.

 

Isn’t it great to know that God loves us so much that he can overlook ANYTHING?

What about you? Can you overlook what your neighbor just did? What about the guy who cut you off in traffic?

What about your kids . . . ? Are you responding or reacting to them? The last time they spilt juice on the carpet, did you get upset, frustrated, and remind them in a “loving” and loud way that “Didn’t I just tell you to be careful?!” Or did you simply get a towel and wipe up the mess?

Do you want God to react or respond to you? How should you respond to others?  

Matthew 25:40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (NIV)

 

[Adapted and expanded from Dr. Kevin Leman’s interview on Focus on the Family, aired on His Radio November 19, 2013]

Moving in or Moving on?

For over 6 months, my wife and I have been building a house through a local builder. During our contract negotiations, we were told they could build the house in 2 months (3 months “maximum”).Needless to say, many of you know that we are still not in the house 6+ months later.

We have not yet moved in, and haven’t moved on. Throughout the course of our time here, through trials and tribulations that continue day by day, we have pondered “is God steering us away from this house?”

Surely you have had similar instances in your life where you felt that God might be steering you to make a decision in your life. What did you decide?

Did you obey God, or what you felt He was leading you to do?  Or did you just know that it was in your “destiny” to ….(fill in the blank).

 

In this life, we make decisions every day.  Some vital, some trivial.

However, there is one decision that we cannot take lightly. That’s the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Savior of our life.

Romans 10:9 (NKJV) “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Are you Moving in with Jesus, or are you Moving on without Him. It’s your decision. Click HERE to Move in.

Proverbs for the day

A popular English proverb we all know is “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” This works well for many men (me included), but what is the way to God’s heart?

We can find the answers in the Bible:

Proverbs 3:1-6

1My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

 

 

Here I am Lord

“Hi Lord, Here I am…. speak….”

Sometimes that’s how I feel. I’m trying to be obedient. Listening for answers to some of life’s hardest questions. Sometimes, I even wait for answers to some questions that most people would consider irrelevant.

For example, here I sit, traveling to Alabama, looking forward to visiting some friends and family I haven’t seen in months. Instead of wasting the time away playing games, or reading a fictional book, I decided to blog while I drive (well, while Kimberly is driving – yes, I trust her to drive).

Unfortunately, I don’t have a message. So I sit here, calling upon The Lord, just waiting…..

La, la, la, la, la . . .

OK, so maybe my message is just that.

Sometimes I feel like God just wants us to sit…., and Be patient, obediently following Him.

When we found out that we were moving to South Carolina, it was tough to accept that God would pull us away from our church family and our great youth group. But we KNEW God had a plan for us. He had something BIGGER, something BETTER that He was calling us to.

What was it, you ask? Well, you see, that’s the kicker. We don’t know. Either God hasn’t told us yet, or we’re not listening well enough. So far, nothing BIGGER, NOTHING BETTER (or that’s what I “see”).

But, we have to remember that our timing is NOT God’s timing. He DOES have a plan for each of us. And He WANTS us to follow it.  But sometimes that means being patient. Although I would love to be “active” in ministry right now, preaching every Sunday, it isn’t happening.

Is it my fault? Have I done something wrong? Or am I just not listening.  I feel, after much prayer during the last couple months, that I just need to be obedient, patient, and listen. So how do I know that I am being obedient?

Well, a good way is that I felt led to re-start this blog a few weeks ago. So, that’s what I did. Here it is.  You may be reading it for the first time, or the hundredth time. Either way, I believe that this is God’s current plan for me. So…what does this have to do with YOU?

I believe that many of us seek God’s Will. Every day wondering if we are truly doing what HE wants us to.  Wondering many times if we are being successful at what He wants.  For me and this blog, sometimes I think I’m not being successful, because I count the number of “followers” of my e-mail subscriptions. How many you ask?  10 at the latest count.  That’s not a big number!

HOWEVER, that number does NOT represent that I AM being obedient. I have done what I feel God has asked me to do.  Have you done what He has asked you to do?  Don’t look at what the world may count as “success” – Success in God’s eyes is Following Him!