What was that?

altoEver get that feeling that a little angel on your shoulder just told you something?

My guess is that if you thought you heard from God through an angel, you probably second guessed yourself and thought: what was that? Not in the sense of what just happened, but in the sense of “I’m not sure if I got that.”

But at the same time, you did get it! It’s sort of like seeing this sign.

You know what it means, but the language or method it sent you the message in was not normal.

I don’t know about you, but that’s how I hear from God sometimes. No, not in Spanish although that would make it easier. But sometimes I just sense that I know what God is telling me even though I never hear him speak audibly. I can just feel that I know I’m doing something wrong, or that He wants me to do something a different way.

Sure, it would be great if God just spoke and said “do this.” That being said, I do believe that God does speak to us. I also believe that some (maybe many) of us don’t hear Him. Maybe, I’m wrong. But I know I don’t hear Him.

Why? I think I’m not there yet. Where? Close enough to God. I believe that most people that hear directly from God are either

  • a)      insane and just make it up, or
  • b)      so close in their relationship to God that they can clearly hear from Him (i.e. Billy Graham)

I think for the majority of us, we have to interpret what we feel, and then decide if its’ from God or from satan. So how do you know who it’s from?

This week during Coach’s Huddle at Soccer time, I asked the 6-8 year olds on my team: “How do you know if something you’re doing is good or bad.” Their simple answer: “if what you’re doing is good, then it’s a good thing. If what you’re doing is bad, it’s a bad thing.” I do believe that we know innately what is good and bad. After all, God designed us to know right from wrong.

So if you hear a little voice inside saying to do something, I honestly believe that you’ll know whether it’s from God or from satan.

The question is will you obey and do the right things, and turn away from the bad things?

Plans changed…

Today I was headed to North Carolina. Unfortunately, at least that’s what I’ll call it, my plans were changed last minute. I say “unfortunately” because in my eyes I had everything planned: an itinerary that included picking-up a car, traveling to the site, meeting with people, updating projects, taking pictures, returning…. You get the point.

However, for whatever reason my plans changed!

I’ll probably never know why things didn’t go the way I expected, but for whatever reason I wasn’t supposed to be on that trip today. And I must THANK GOD that I wasn’t there. Despite not knowing the reason, I feel blessed that I was obedient and didn’t do what I wanted or expected to do.

Is that the attitude you have when things change? Or do you get upset when things change at the last minute.

This week during our Soccer Camp, our memory verse is:

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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. – Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NIV)

God has a plan for me. The majority of people never stop to think that God’s plan for each of us isn’t just a “grand picture.” It’s not just a 30,000 foot view of our lives. It’s not just that at some point in our lives He wants us to do “x” or “y” or “z.” God’s plan for you is NOT a destination. It’s a journey that happens every day of your life.

I look back on my life, and now I can tell that God was truly grooming me for something. At the time, I never knew why I was doing certain jobs, or living in certain places, or worse yet, experiencing really trying times in my life. But God had a plan through all of it. Many times I was not obedient, struggling to do things my way, not His.

Then one day, I came around, and accepted that my ways were not the right way. I still struggle with letting go completely, but every experience teaches me more and more that I need to trust Him more every day.

Where are you at? Are you still doing things your way, getting upset when it doesn’t work out? Or do you allow God to lead you, and accept things that change in your life?

you gotta choose!

Along with the current series that Pastor Carter is leading our congregation, I ask very simply:

What did you choose to do today?

Many of us chose to come to work. Others stayed at home taking care of children. But why did we choose that?

For many people, just the thought of going to work is undesirable, at best. So WHY do we do it? Ralph would insist that you have a choice. So why do you do something you detest?

Is it because you are responsible, and feel you must take care of your family? (not a bad reason). Is it because you have nothing better to do? (doubtful). Whatever the reason, it was probably more out of habit than anything else. It’s Monday, so it’s the start of the work week, and you just feel it is necessary that you do this rote routine of attending work 5 days each week in order to pay the bills.

There’s nothing wrong with that, EXCEPT if you are only “attending” work each week, then you are missing something. The Lord tells us very specifically:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

Stop doing things just out of habit or necessity, and start doing them for the Lord. When you make a decision, realize that you have a made a decision that will impact your future and will influence future decisions. When you obey and succeed, you are likely to receive a blessing, which will likely lead to more good decisions, and thus continued blessings. However, if you choose a poor decision, it will generally result in a poor outcome, which may lead to additional poor decisions.

The spiral of success (or failure) can be up (or down). It’s your decision. What will you do today to influence tomorrow?

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Dead End ahead! . . . watch where you are going!

As a frequent traveler, I am exposed to many different unique landscapes and buildings. However, today it was a street sign that caught my eye.

forever_dead_endAnd of course, my mind started thinking, hmmm, that’s a good blog!

Many people feel they are on a very successful road. They feel life is going pretty good. But what they don’t know is that it’s a dead end. Their “Forever Road” is about to have an abrupt stop. and it will be too late to turn back.

Do you have a destination? If so, is it one that you set, or one that you’ve allowed others to choose for you? Does your destination involve God’s Will for your life?

Whatever road you are on, today may be a good day to stop and consider where it is leading. Why? Because today is forever in the since that if you don’t change now, the likelihood of you changing later is slim.

The way to “life” must be purposely followed. It’s not like you can get to Heaven by “accident.”

 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:13-14

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life….  – Deuteronomy 30:15-19

 

Coming Back!

Today, I was reminded of a video I first saw years ago as I read the following passage:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NIV)

Here is a link to the video: Are YOU ready for the Rapture?  While the video itself is not true (in terms of it already happening), it is biblical, in the sense that when no one expects it, Christ is going to come back and gather His children, Christians.

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:27 (NIV)

And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.  Matthew 24:31 (NIV)

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:36 (NIV)

Are YOU Ready?

God’s house is Beautiful, so yours will be also!

Today, I felt led to speak about the glory of Heaven. In Exodus 25, we read how God described the design for the Ark of the Covenant, God’s Sanctuary, the Golden Lampstands, and more. As we read about the pure gold and special construction methods that God explained was necessary, I realized that these directions are to ensure that the “home” for God’s glory is perfect. “Exactly as I show you…, so you shall make it” (Exodus 25:9).

I believe that just as Jesus is preparing for us a place in Heaven, that He also is making sure that the home He is preparing for us is just as perfect (John 14:2-3, Revelation 21:18-23). God has called us righteous because what Jesus did for us on the cross (2 Cor 5:21); therefore, our heavenly bodies should also be provided a glorious place to spend eternity.

Will you get to experience Heaven?  (John 3:3) You have the opportunity if you accept Jesus in your life.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”Romans 10:13

Hmmm, it’s pretty neat how these little revelations are revealed to us. I first started reading the Bible in 1994, and now 20 years later, I still discover little nuggets of truth and understanding that many times I don’t even remember reading in the past. I love how God has made the Bible a Living Word from Him (Hebrews 4:12), revealed to us, only when we are ready to understand.

I can’t do it all on my own

Yesterday I preached on 3 freedoms entitled “You’re Free, Act Free”

1)      Freedom of Will – it’s your choice, whether Christian or not – to act, do, and say what you want.

2)      Freedom from Sin – reserved for Christians, they are forgiven through Grace from all sins, past, present, and future

3)      Freedom to Follow Christ – for the unbeliever, they have the free gift of Jesus and call from the Holy Spirit to come to know God and follow Him, saving a place for eternity for them in Heaven. For the believer, freedom in Christ means being fully open to His Will for your life, and knowing that through this obedience, your willingness to follow Him provides a liberating experience.

Yet, these 3 freedoms come with a price. I mentioned that yesterday as my final point, but didn’t emphasize that Freedom to Follow Christ means being a slave to righteousness. That’s right. Being free to truly follow Christ means giving up on your own desires.

Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 16:24 – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself…”

This was not the first time Jesus spoke about the cost of discipleship (following Him). In Matthew 8:22, he said “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Many people have interpreted that phrase a variety of ways. My personal belief is that Jesus was very clear that following Him was the utmost importance. Therefore, the implication is that the (physical) dead can then be buried by the (spiritually) dead.

Will you follow Him? You are Free, Act Free!

Broken Beautiful

A good friend once told me “that song will preach.” I translate that to mean that the words are so powerful in the song that it brings the Word of the Lord without any further need of explanation.

And if you’re a music lover, that’s how a lot of Christian music is today. Ellie Holcomb recently released Broken Beautiful which I would have to say “that song will preach.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J62qayrMcHw

Don’t believe me? Well, it would just happen that since I’m in the mood, I created a draft Sermon Outline for the song. Ok, it’s not a fancy alliterated outline, but it still preaches.

broken_beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Lyrics from Ellie Holcomb: Broken Beautiful

Honey Do’s

Whether they are called Honey-do’s or To Do Lists, I’m sure you have one, written or mental. For some reason, the one I have keeps getting longer every day, not shorter. Despite taking the time to complete a task, it seems another pops right on, with an occasional second chore with it.

Whether work, school, personal, or even church related, these tasks can interfere with our life. Notice I didn’t say these tasks ARE our life. When we allow THINGS or to-do’s to control our lives, then we are in trouble. Take for instance the important things in life. Do you schedule them? Do you write down “spend time with son playing outside” as a task that needs done this week? Or do you list “tuck daughter in at night and say bedtime prayers” as a recurring nightly event?

I hope not, unless you have serious memory problems. So why is it then that we don’t get everything done on our list? Is it because we are poor planners? Or procrastinators?

I think the answer may be answered by scripture:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2 (NIV)

You see, when we allow the world and things to control our life, we have lost sight of the important things like God, family, church, friends, etc.

I thank God that I have a great family, a wonderful church, and amazing friends. I am also thankful for our house, our things, and what God has provided, but those things are truly secondary.

Recently, Kimberly asked me to finish 2 rooms downstairs in our basement so that at the start of the new school year, she would have adequate room to begin 2nd grade with Wesley. What I’ve discovered is that I’m not going to finish both, but I will finish one to the extent that school can begin on time. But at the same time, I must balance family and (personal) work.

I can’t tell you how much time to spend daily on stuff, and how much on family. This is what the Bible says:

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” – 1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV)

Provisions include not just food and shelter, but also love. Love cannot just be verbalized, but must be shown in the form of time spent with them.

Are you missing life? Act now, there are no do-overs!