Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just Keep Swimming <'(())>< Part 2

My friend Marcus sent me this half-minute YouTube clip from Finding Nemo that accents wonderfully yesterday's blog post. So today, on this last day of 2009, I say Keep Swimming and again I say, Just Keep Swimming! <'(())><

YouTube link:

From Psalm 27:14 (NKJV), let these ten words encourage you (put courage in you): Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart...

<'(())>< Just Keep Swimming, Praying, Singing, Believing! <'(())><


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Keep Swimming <'(())><

Yesterday, I had to chat online with an eBay service representative. Seems one of my online Christmas purchases got a little wacky. Anyway, after a very pleasant chat-session with "Ross", he had somehow managed to answer all of my seemingly complicated questions with surprisingly simple answers. When I was about to sign-off with "Ross-the-Rep", I spontaneously typed in these characters as my final good-bye to him:

<'(())>< Keep swimming, even if life seems upstream. <'(())><

For whatever reason it encouraged me just seeing the above spontaneous characters I had typed to him. So, I thought I'd pass them along to you. Just in case you're in an upstream struggle? Keep swimming. For the believer swimming might be equal to praying, or singing, or maybe simply believing. Wouldn't you agree? So, let's keep swimming, praying and believing. Especially if life seems upstream.

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV) -- alert and always keep on praying...

Acts 16:22-25 (NIV) -- (22) The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. (23) After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. (24) Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. (25) About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT) -- by believing and not by seeing...


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spread It All Out Before The Lord!

In 2 Kings 19, King Hezekiah received a threatening letter from his enemy that scared him to death. In verse 14 of 2 Kings 19, King Hezekiah placed his faith in His God over his fear of the enemy. Here's how he did it:

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.

As the New Year rises before us, surely fear of the unknown threatens our trust in The Living God. But, we can do just as King Hezekiah did. Yes, we can just spread it all out before the Lord. How do we practically do that? We spread it all out before the Lord in prayer! So, LET US PRAY!


Monday, December 28, 2009

My New Prayer for God's New Year

Almighty Personal God, Loving Abba Father:
You are our past, present, and future foundation. We Adore You.

Your Greatness is unrivaled. Your Holiness is unmatched.
We are grateful to You for the Year that is fading fast

and for the Year that is rapidly rising.
Help us in Your New Year, Loving Abba Father,

to worry less and to worship more.
We desire to teach our children to laugh by laughing with them;
To teach others to love and trust by loving and trusting them.
We know that when You sent Your Love to Bethlehem’s manger,
He came so we could really know You.
Yes Your Love came to be with us, to reign in us, to flow through us.
Help us in Your New Year to share Your Son, Your Spirit, and...

Your Everlasting Love with others.
We desire Loving Abba Father,
to hear Your love song in every sunrise,
in the singing of the birds in our backyards,
in the stories of our parents and grandparents,
And in the visions of our children.
Help us to stop and to be still long enough
And often enough to hear Your love songs,
so that we may know You intimately,
grow together, go serve in Holy Spirit Unity!
On this day, we “rejoice” in Your Word and...

in this world You loved into being.
We are grateful to You for another New Year,

for new opportunities on the horizon.
We pray for your light in darkness,

for Your hope in seemingly hopeless circumstances.
We desire to be Your sent ones. Reign within us...

so we can effectively BE LIGHT! GO SHINE!
Forgive us where we have lived beneath our inheritance

as Your children this past year.
We leave the past in your hands,

and step out into the unknown New Year
assured that You have already been in our future

and will now go there with us, in us,
and through us for Your glory.
We accept Your gift of a New Year and...

we praise Your name in advance for what's ahead.
We depend on You to help us be exactly who you want us to be –
Your witnesses to Your world.
Yes, on this day You have made, I say “Rejoice!”

And again I say, “REJOICE!”
In the name of the One called Wonderful--Jesus our Savior,
our Lord for forever & today. Amen.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Open, Not Closed. Project, Not Protect.

Today, my friend Drew who was raised in our local church and now pastors in Germany was our guest speaker for the last Sunday of 2009. He shared beautifully the Biblical passage in Luke 3, where John the Baptist is the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lamb of God -- Jesus the Nazarene!

As I listened to Drew preach, Luke 3:8-14 particularly spoke to my own heart: (8) Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. (9) The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (10) "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. (11) John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." (12) Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" (13) "Don’t collect any more than you are required to," he told them. (14) Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."

This is my prayer: Lord, in this New Year, like never before, I want my life to be open, not closed to the needs of others. Remind me moment-by-moment that Your mercy and grace is extended to me that I might also offer it to others. Produce in my life the fruit of repentance. Especially give me the mind of Christ and the eyes of Your Spirit so that my life will be undeniably God-owned and incredibly others-focused. Reign as Lord on the throne of my life in such a way that Your compassion flows from me to everyone I encounter. Let my life be marked by a fragrance of generosity that glorifies You. Let my focus be on giving, not getting, on projecting You, not protecting me. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Just Breathe

For me, the most wonderful 24 hours of each year's calendar happens between midnight Christmas Eve, December 24, and midnight Christmas Day, December 25. It's true. For as long as I can remember, the most holy, predictable moments in my life have miraculously transpired like clockwork each and every year on that one Divine Day of the year that we officially celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. It's a holy high-water mark on planet earth for my eternal soul.

And that's why I was still awake in our living room at 1:30 a.m. on December 26, not wanting Christmas Day 2009 to slip away (even though in reality it already had). Sitting in the glow of our Christmas tree with Christmas music still playing softly in the atmosphere, I finally decided to just breathe this prayer: Lord, please keep Christmas alive in me for these next 364 days.. and beyond.


Friday, December 25, 2009

The Other John 3:16? Give Up?

We're all familiar with John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

But I invite you to also consider with me on this wonderful Christmas Day the similar words of the other John 3:16. THE OTHER JOHN 3:16? Yes, 1 John 3:16. Here it is: We know what real love is because Christ gave up His life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters.

Abba Father, on this Christmas Day, we give praise to You for so loving us that on that first Christmas Day You gave us Your only Son in Bethlehem's Manger. We are so grateful, too, that we know even more clearly what real love is because Your only Son gave up His life for us on Calvary's Cross. Help us to now GIVE UP our own lives for our Christian brothers and sisters so that we will prove to the world that we are Yours. Amen.

ALL.. JOY TO YOUR WORLD... All the boys and girls, now!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The First & The Last Gift of Christmas

A few weeks ago, I handed a man at a gas pump one of my yearly photo calendars and said, "Here! Please receive the first gift of Christmas." Somewhat surprised, but obviously moved, the stranger smiled and said, "Thank you!"

As I have thought about that statement, "Here! Please receive the first gift of Christmas," it surely would have been more accurate for me to have said "Here! Please receive 'my' first gift of Christmas." Because, after all, Jesus was "the" First and and always will be "the" Last Gift of Christmas.

Yes, long before the first of our gifts were wrapped and long after the last of our gifts have been unwrapped, John 3:16-17, will still be proof that the First and Last Gift of Gifts at Christmastime and all-the-time was and will always be the Gift of God's Own Son.

Maybe that's part of what Jesus was trying to communicate to us when He referred to Himself in Revelation 2:8 as "the One Who is the First and the Last, Who died and is alive!"


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Have This Moment... Today...

In less than 72 hours Christmas Day 2009 will have come and gone. While the unstoppable passage of time is somewhat sad to me, these words from a Bill and Gloria Gaither song do offer some measure of inspiration to my heart:

We have this moment to hold in our hands,
And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand.
Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come.
But we have this moment... TODAY!

Let's remember...
"TODAY is a GIFT from GOD. That's why it's called THE PRESENT!"


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Look At The Birds!

Seven words in Psalm 50:11 (NIV) speak powerfully to me about our God's compassionate attention to His Creation: I know every bird in the mountains...

Jesus then says in Luke 12:24 (NIV): And you are far more valuable to Him than any birds!

Lord, I pray that we would trust You like the birds do. You challenge us to have confidence in You with these words You spoke in Matthew 6:26: "Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your Heavenly Father feeds them."

Like the birds, Lord, let our lives be characterized by worship, not worry. We should not dwell in sorrow, but we should instead sing of Your love forever. Amen.

Grateful (P.S. Added Later in the Day Below)

P.S. This morning after I wrote and posted this blog entry, I sadly found a frozen mourning dove in the midst of black-oil sunflower seed that I keep plentiful in my yard for my winged-friends. I buried the beautiful bird in the ground underneath the snow at the foot of the Manger in our outdoor Nativity Scene. (Because I know the symbolism of a dove in the Bible and because I know that God's Son was born to die, burying the breathless, beautiful dove was a very deep and agonizing moving experience for me.) Still, it was an amazing experience for me,too, in that I had just read Psalm 50:11 late last evening. Think about it: The God I love, knew this dove. When the dove died, I can vouch that it was not hungry, but when it breathed its last breath, our compassionate Creator God cared. And how much more valuable are we than birds. An inspiring illustration for my soul.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good News of Great Joy!

In five words, I am praying that your holy days and all of your days will be overflowing with good news of great joy! Yes, I pray Luke 2:10 will especially flood your winter days with loud, bright colors.

Luke 2:10 (NIV) -- Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Psalm 66:1(NIV)


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cold... Winter... Night...

As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night. Gen. 8:22 (TLB)


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow... Hallelujah!

He sends the snow in all its lovely whiteness... Hallelujah! Yes, praise the Lord! Psalm 147:10,20 (TLB)

Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7 (TLB)


Friday, December 18, 2009

Too Wonderful For Words!

It's about 1:15 a.m. and I have just started unwinding from a sort of busy and seemingly short year. I received a Christmas card today with an amazing verse in it. I just had to share it with you before finally turning in for a long-winter's nap:

Thank God for His Son—a gift too wonderful for words!
2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT)


P.S. Looks like A White Christmas could be in store for us this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Your Name... My Name...

I love Thee, Lord Jesus...

This Christmas, I declare that Your name is Forgiveness and I delight that my name is Forgiven!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peace & War

As I was reading from Dennis Kinlaw's writings this morning, I was wonderfully reminded that because Jesus is my Prince of Peace, it profoundly means that the war within my heart is simply over. Yes, temptation still comes, but if I am totally surrendered to King Jesus and His government within, while the evil enemy still rages on the outside, The Prince of Peace reigns on the inside.

Isaiah 9:6-7a from The Living Bible Paraphrase delightfully declares:
(6) For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. These will be His royal titles: "Wonderful," "Counselor," "The Mighty God," "The Everlasting Father," "The Prince of Peace." (7) His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end.

Luke 17:21b (TLB) -- For the Kingdom of God is within you.

Colossians 1:27b (NIV) -- Christ in you, the Hope of glory!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Save Us. Gave Us. Not Enslave Us.

Yesterday, I was driving home from work in my Ford. I was of course rejoicing as Christmas Music was loudly ricocheting throughout the cab. It is December, after all, and yes, my radio is locked in on a local radio station that plays nonstop Christmas tunes between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Anyway, as I drove, a celebrative-overflowing-with-joy Holy Day song came on the radio. It was a song that I have never heard. I mean I have heard parts of it, it's a take off of "Mary's Boy Child", but the conclusion of the song was a brand new arrangement to my ears and the newly added words -- along with the uplifting, Caribbean-sounding, Calypso-style music beat it was sung to --combined to offer spiritual strength to my seeking soul.

I did my best to write the closing words down on a sticky note. Here's what I heard:

Oh my Lord...
You sent Your Son to SAVE us.
Oh my Lord...
Your very Self You GAVE us.
Oh my Lord...
That sin might NOT ENSLAVE us!
And Love might reign once more.



Monday, December 14, 2009

TIME Magazine's Person of the Year?

This morning I heard a news station talking about who should be TIME Magazine's Person of the Year? Who's your person of the year? I cast my vote for The Baby, yes, count my vote for The little bitty, Baby Who was born, born, born in Bethlehem.

The Christ Child may not be TIME'S Person of the Year, but rest assured He already has been HISTORY'S Person Across the Years and will continue to be ETERNITY'S Person Beyond the Years.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

His Arms-Wide-Open, Crying Invitation

From His first cry at His birth in Bethlehem's manger to His final cry at His death on Jerusalem's cross, God's Only Son had His Arms-Wide-Open inviting us to enter a love-relationship with the Trinity that begins on earth and continues for Eternity. Good news, indeed!

And the Good News gets Gooder, in that, His Arms-Wide-Open, Crying Invitation is still being extended to us. Christmastime accents the Christ Child's invitation. Let's respond to His invitation and let's invite others to also come to Bethlehem's Boy, yes Calvary's Lamb, for Heaven's forgiveness at Christmastime and all the time. We can turn His crying into laughing by receving The Gift of His Life with our Arms-Wide-Open and by sharing The Gift of His Life with our Arms-Wide-Open to others.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Greatest Gift Exchange of All-Time

2 Corinthians 5:20b-21 from The Living Bible Paraphrase makes clear The Greatest Gift Exchange of All-Time: reconciled to God. For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us!

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)

Thank you Lord, for taking our undeniable guilt and giving us Your indescibable Gift.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Our 2010 is Waiting in His Wings

This morning it occurred to me that 2010, yes a new year, is waiting in the wings just before me. I am so glad that my Lord has already been into my future. What comfort and assurance that reality is to my soul. In actuality, our new year is waiting in His wings. Makes my heart sing triumphantly The Hallelujah Chorus!

Let's allow these words of Jesus recorded in Revelation 1:8 to be our strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow: I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end, says the Lord God. I am the One Who is, Who always was, and Who is still to come, the Almighty One. (NLT)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Right? Wrong! Words from a Wise Man...

My nearly 70-year-old, shrimp-boat-captain Daddy and I were taking a walk near our native, island home last week and let me just say, it was a sacred stroll for his not-too-far-from-50-year-old son. My Daddy is proof to me that Wise Men still seek the Lord. Anyway, just before our walk ended my Daddy made a simple but profound statement. I've been soaking in his wise words for nearly a week now. So, here are a Daddy's loving words to his ears-wide-open, listening son just in case you'd like to eavesdrop:

A man who thinks he's never wrong, is never right. -- Capt. Billy

Proverbs 3:7 (NLT) -- Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn your back on evil.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Prediction in the Book of Job?

This morning in my devotional time, I found what appears to be an illuminating Christmas prediction in the Book of Job. As soon as I read the words found in Job 39:9, I could hear the lyrics of a beloved Christmas Carol playing in my mind.

Here's Job 39:9 "Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will he stay by your manger at night? (NIV)

Here's the beloved Christmas Carol:

Away in a manger, no crib for His bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle (oxen) are lowing. The poor Baby wakes.
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus. Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side,'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever, and love me I pray.

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
and take us to Heaven, to live with Thee there.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Bread That Leads To Forgiveness

The great prayer Jesus taught His disciples includes these words:

...and give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...

This morning I noticed how closely related "asking God for bread" and "asking Him for forgiveness" and "offering our forgiveness to others" is linked in this prayer. Yes, the daily bread prayer leads to prayers of forgiveness.

Is there anyone that we might need to share daily bread with, yes a meal with, over these holidays -- a meal that would lead to forgiveness? Is there anyone we might need to ask for forgiveness or offer forgiveness to? If so, let's recognize that the unseen but undeniable Lord will be present at our holiday meals, breaking the bread of love, friendship, and forgiveness and offering it to us, all the while realistically expecting us to then pass the loaf of His love to others at the table, offering them the same measure of love, friendship, and forgiveness that Jesus has given to us.


Monday, December 7, 2009

His Indescribable Gift!

2 Corinthians 9:15 is one of my favorite verses, especially at Christmas time:

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (NIV)


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Name of Jesus

From a prison cell the Apostle Paul penned these words in his "Book of Joy" -- Phillipians 2:10-11 (NIV): ...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And in Romans 14:11, these words are given to us from the same Apostles pen: "'As I live and breathe,’ God says, every knee will bow before me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God.’" (The Message)

Yes, one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I choose to kneel and confess this day and everyday day-after-day until That Day.

The Name of Jesus has taken on a whole new power in my life this week. The lyrics of this old hymn make great poetry to pray. I invite you to join me in praying in Jesus' name:

Take the Name of Jesus with you, Child of sorrow and of woe,
It will joy and comfort give you; Take it then, wherever you go.

Precious Name, O how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of heaven.
Precious Name, O how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of heaven.

Take the Name of Jesus ever, As a shield from every snare;
If temptations round you gather, Breathe that Holy Name in prayer.

O the precious Name of Jesus! How it thrills our souls with joy,
When His loving arms receive us, And His songs our tongues employ!

At the Name of Jesus bowing, Falling prostrate at His feet,
King of kings in Heaven we'll crown Him, When our journey is complete.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Request on My Christmas List? Revival!

Fourteen words in Psalm 119:88 from The Message Paraphrase combine to make-up the first request on my Christmas list this year and my prayer for 2010 and 2011 and Beyond: In your great love revive me so I can alertly obey your every word.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Two-Fold Good News About Advent

Jesus has come.
Jesus is coming, again.


Monday, November 30, 2009

...To Forgive Us, Not To Forget Us!

When we hear John 3:16-17, we should know undeniably that God gave His Son to forgive us, not to forget us! God sent His Son to be the World's Savior from Heaven, not Heaven's Bully to Earth!

Hear these Christmas words of Jesus written in John's Good News Report, verses 16 & 17 (NLT): (16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (17) God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.

Because God didn't forget us, there is a Christmas. Let us remember Him during these Holy Days of Advent and beyond. In the words of that moving contemporary love song, it seems I can hear the Lord saying: I will remember you. Will you remember Me?"


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas is Synonymous With Forgiveness

Father God sent His Son as a meal invitation, yes to offer us His love, friendship, and forgiveness. That's the meaning of sharing a meal in our Lord's Middle Eastern background. That's why Jesus got in trouble with the religious folk. He offered His love, friendship, and forgiveness to the sinners, evidenced by these words, "Jesus ate with sinners."It was the way He disarmed them and invited them to Eternal Life. (*See Bible reference below)

So, Father God sent His Son to be born in Bethlehem, a town known as "the House of Bread". Yes, the Baby Jesus was sent to be "the Bread of Life", and his cradle was a manger, "a feeding box". It's all about the most basic and blessed definition of Christmas -- forgiveness. So whatever Christmas is, it is an invitation to share a meal of love, friendship, and forgiveness with God. There are many wonderful words to explain Christmas, but to me Christmas is synonymous, yes, one-in-the-same, with forgiveness.

Christmas is undeniable evidence that God totally gives and God totally forgives. Will we share God's love, friendship, and forgiveness meal with others? Will we share the Baby Jesus, the Crucified Christ with those who are the seemingly hopeless among us and beyond us? Will we totally give our lives to God and totally forgive others? Will we celebrate Christmas for what it really is -- a meal invitation from God for our Eternal Life and meant to be shared with others?!

* Matthew 9:9-13 (NLT) -- (9) As Jesus was going down the road, He saw Matthew sitting at His tax-collection booth. "Come, be My disciple," Jesus said to Him. So Matthew got up and followed Him. (10) That night Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to be His dinner guests, along with His fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. (11) The Pharisees were indignant. "Why does your Teacher eat with such scum?" they asked His disciples. (12) When He heard this, Jesus replied, "Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do." (13) Then He added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’ For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough."


Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Words of The Wise Men

By embracing The Words of the Wise Men spoken when they arrived in Jerusalem and recorded in Matthew 2:1, let's move into this Glorious Christmas Advent Season proclaiming: We are on pilgrimage to worship Him! (The Message Paraphrase)


Friday, November 27, 2009

In the Afterglow Let's Not Miss The Advent

Cold turkey and a few slices of pumpkin roll await my attention in the fridge. Yesterday, my whole, immediate family gathered at our place to celebrate Thanksgiving. Counting the Oreo Pup, we had sixteen in our home for about seven hours or so. Wow!

Some people may say, "Wow? What's the big deal?" Well, it's very rare for the Willis family to all be together for Thanksgiving Day or any day for that matter. With three pastor sons and a fisherman dad, the holidays often require us to go in different directions. However, this year we were all blessed to meet at one place. So, in the deep places of my heart I am experiencing a Thanksgiving Afterglow; and it's only going to get better, because my hope is now shifting into overdrive. Why? Because I know the most wonderful time of the year is here --- the "Christmas is A'Coming" Advent Season.

Yes, I know it's Black Friday and perhaps I should be out scrambling for under-priced electronics and hooded-sweatshirts I don't really need, but honestly my desire is on an altogether more reflective level than a retail one. You see, after diving into that cold turkey one more time and savoring the last slice of Kim's delicious pumpkin roll, I plan on releasing my outdoor, Nativity characters from the garage for another fast-approaching December. Then, as this evening after Thanksgiving surrenders to the darkness and the days of November begin to dim, I'll have The Bethlehem Boy Who Brings Beautiful Joy perfectly spotlighted in our front yard for all our neighbors to see. (Or at least by Saturday evening. I'm resting. :-)

The point is, let the Holiday Celebration intensify! And In the Thanksgiving Afterglow Let's Not Miss the Christmas Advent.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Are You Ready For The King's Thanksgiving?

This Heartwarming Story is Worth Your Time -- Author Unknown

Every child in the village was very much excited on account of the news that had come down from the castle on the hill.

Because it had been such a rich harvest, the fields yellow with grain and the orchards crimson with fruit, the King was going to keep a Thanksgiving Day. He was going to ask some child from the village to come up the hill to the castle and eat dinner with the Prince and Princess. It was rumored, too, that this child would be given good gifts by the King. But it must be a very special kind of child indeed. That they all knew.

Then the village children remembered everything that had been told them by their mothers, and their grandmothers, and their great-grandmothers about the castle kitchen. Scores of cooks and scullery boys were kept busy there night and day. The fires always glowed to roast the rich fowls that turned on the spits. The cake bowls and the soup pots were never empty. Spices and herbs from far countries, strawberries when the ground was covered with snow, ices of all the rainbow colors, and cream so thick that a knife could cut it—all these were to be found in the King's kitchen.

There were dishes of gold and silver upon which to serve the fine foods, and a hothouse of rare flowers with which to deck the table, and linen as fine as a cobweb and as beautiful in pattern as snowflakes to cover it. Oh, a Thanksgiving Day in the castle would be very wonderful indeed, the children thought, and each hoped that he or she would be chosen to go.

The day before this Day of Thanksgiving the messenger of the King came down from the castle and went from door to door of the homes in the village. He went first to the house of the burgomaster (the mayor). It was a very pretentious house with tall pillars in front, and it stood on a wide street. It seemed likely that the burgomaster's child might be chosen to go with the messenger to the castle for the Thanksgiving. She was dressed in silk, and her hair was curled, and the burgomaster had packed a great hamper with sweets as an offering for the King.

"Are you ready to keep the feast as the King would like you to?" asked the messenger.

"Oh, yes!" said the burgomaster's child. "I have on my best dress, and here are plenty of sweets to eat. Will you take me?"

But the messenger shook his head, for the child was not ready.

Then the King's messenger went on until he came to the house where the captain of the guards lived. The captain's little boy was quite sure that he would be chosen to go with the messenger to the castle for the Thanksgiving. He wore a uniform with silver braid and buttons like that which the guards wore. A sword hung at his side, and he wore a soldier's cap. He held the cap in his hand, so that he could put it on quickly.

"Are you ready to keep the Thanksgiving Day as the King would like you to?" asked the messenger.

"Oh, yes!" said the child of the captain of the guards. "I have my sword here and I can fight any one who crosses our path on the way to the castle. Will you take me?"

But the messenger went on again and he came to the baker's shop. The baker's boy stood at the door, dressed in his best white suit, and holding an empty basket on his arm. He was quite sure that he would be chosen to go to the palace, for his father's bake shop was an important place in the village. They measured their flour carefully, and weighed the loaves so that they might receive the utmost penny for each. They very seldom had any crumbs left for the poor, but they were selling a great deal of bread every day.

"Are you ready to keep the Thanksgiving Day as the King would like you to?" the messenger asked of the baker's boy.

"Oh, yes!" the boy said. "I have this basket to gather up whatever remains of the King's feast and bring it home with me. The King would not want anything wasted. Will you take me?"

But the messenger shook his head a third time, for the child was not ready.

Then he did not know which way to go, and he began to think that he would not be able to find any guest for the King's feast. As he waited, he saw two children, a girl and a boy, coming toward him. They were poor children, and one was leading the other, for he was crippled. The messenger looked at them. The little girl had eyes like stars and her hair, blowing in the November wind, was like a cloud made golden by the sunset. She held her head so high, and smiled so bravely that no one would have noticed her old dress and the holes in her coat. The messenger stood in the road in front of her and spoke to her.

"Are you ready to keep the Thanksgiving Day as the King would like you to?" he asked.

The little girl looked up in the messenger's face in surprise. "No, I am not ready," she said, "but this child is ready. I am bringing him because he is crippled, and because he is hungry. Will you please take him to the King's Thanksgiving Day Feast?" she asked.

"Yes," said the messenger, "and you, too. There is room at the King's table for both of you."


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This T-h-a-n-k-s-g-i-v-i-n-g, let's not just focus on the first six letters of the holiday. Sure, we need to give thanks, but let's remember that only as we focus on all twelve letters, will we experience a whole holiday. We must give THANKS and be GIVING.

In the New Testament we see our Lord givng T-h-a-n-k-s to His Father and then g-i-v-i-n-g to His disciples the bread representing His body that was about to be broken and the cup representing His blood that would soon be shed for the whole world. Talk about a real T-h-a-n-k-s... G-i-v-i-n-g... meal.

1 Corinthians 11:23b-25 (NLT) -- (23b) On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, (24) and when He had given T-h-a-n-k-s, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is
g-i-v-e-n for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." (25) In the same way, He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of My blood. Do this in remembrance of Me as often as you drink it."


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anticipate Revival! Help is On The Way!

It seems, that eleven words of passionate and desperate prayer recorded in Psalm 80:18 (NLT), are being deposited deep within my heart, mind, and soul, as a gift of Hope from God as the 2009 Christmas Holidays are fast-approaching and as I set my vision on the horizon that is the New Year 2010 and yes, even on, especially on into 2011.

Here are the eleven words: Revive us so we can call on your name once more.

To paraphrase 2 Samuel 5:24, like my Granny used to joyfully express it -- yes with a hint of holy expectation she'd smile and say -- I hear a rumbling in the mulberry bush. It was her hope-filled terminology for explaining that she sensed the Lord's undeniable presence coming our way to revive us again. You might say, she was encouraging us with her unwavering belief that Help was on the way!

Recently, after I spoke words of encouragement to church leaders in a training session in East Tennessee, one precious retired missionary came up to me and said tenderly: Thanks for stirring us without whipping us. I sense the Lord is not desiring to whip us or rebuke us but to stir us and revive us. In other words, I am hopefully anticipating real revival, realizing at the same time that we must first be found in a real rhythm of readiness so God can revive us.

Please, join me in praying for revival among us and beyond us. Together, let's model Galatians 6:9 (NIV) -- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

I totally believe, today... Help is on the way!

Monday, November 23, 2009

How Do We Know God?

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) -- Be silent (still), and know that I am God!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are You Possessed? If So, By Whom?

In John 13, though Jesus showed His disciples the full EXTENT of His Love by washing their feet (John 13:1 NLT) and instituting His Supper, one of the original twelve disciples of Christ, (Matthew 10:1-4), yes, the one known as Judas Iscariot, still chose Sin over Him (Jesus) when the Devil ENTICED him to betray the Lord (John 13:2 NLT). As a result, Satan ENTERED the deceived disciple (John 13:27 NLT). Yes, it's sad, but it's true; for thirty pieces of mere silver, Judas Isacriot sold His Dear Savior and forfeited his Holy inheritance.

The Holy inheritance that Jesus would die for shortly after the John 13 event is prayed for by Jesus Himself in the last seven words of His High Priestly prayer to the Father in John 17: ...that I Myself may be in them. It's what He wants and it's what we need -- to be Jesus-possessed, (not Satan-possessed). Yes, indeed, Christ in you (and me), the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27b)

Lord, let us be filled with You, not the Devil. We choose You, as our Savior and Lord, and we claim our inheritance of being filled with Your Holy Presence over mere silver and the dreadful thought of having Satan enter us. Make our lives Your dwelling place, Dearest Lord Jesus. Amen.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fooled By Spirits or Filled With The Spirit?

Why do so many people make alcohol such a centerpiece in the celebration of their holidays? It must be a futile attempt to somehow numb and fill the emptiness of their lives? The end result of such a choice can turn seasons of rejoicing into seasons of ruin.

Lord, Let our holidays and all of our days find us not fooled by the hollow spirits, but filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Name of the Real Joy-Giver, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
-- Ephesians 5:18-20 (NLT)


Friday, November 20, 2009

Let Your Thoughts Be My Thoughts...

Lord, I pray for this day of opportunity before me, (and for every day after this day) that the thoughts I think will be one-in-the-same with Your thoughts. Please let the mind of Christ be always working within me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 2:16 (NLT) -- "Who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who can give Him counsel?" But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ."

Ephesians 6:17 (NLT) -- Put on salvation as your helmet...

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) -- May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to You, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 139:17 (NKJV) -- How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

Jesus prayed these words to the Father in John 17 (MSG): The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind — Just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so they might be one heart and mind with Us.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wonderful Times of Refreshment

When I awoke very early this morning, my soul was so refreshed. It was like my heart was opening wide like a flower, yes, like a Morning Glory. Yesterday, late in the evening, a Korean Pastor -- a true man of God -- put his arm around me and tearfully prayed that the Lord would give me a fresh anointing. Just know that God delivered. Today, I have surely been a humbled and helped recipient of the Lord's refreshment. I'm speechless and grateful.

In the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible, Acts 3:20 has this beautiful, twelve-word combination in it: ...wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Knowing Christ -- The Priceless Gain

What do you want to gain more than anything?

I say "Amen" to Paul's Priceless Gain Goal, recorded in Philippians 1:8-9a (NLT):

(8) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ (9) and become one with Him.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Serve

Lord, help me to serve as You deserve. Amen.

Let's saturate in and be situated by John 13.

This prayer chorus is very powerful in my life:
Lord, make me like You. Make me like You.
You were a servant. Make me one, too.
Oh, Lord, I am willing. Do what You must do.
To make me like You Lord. Make me like You.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Rejuvenate Me!

These four words written in Psalm 119:50 echo joyfully, yes, gratefully, even desperately from the depths of soul to my Faithful Lord today:

...Your promises rejuvenate me! (The Message)


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Feeling As If God's Forgotten You?


If you are feeling as if God's forgotten you, can I invite you to read the Old Testament Book of Job, yes the whole book, and read it if you can from the the Message Paraphrase of the Holy Bible. It is powerful, humbling, and helpful, especially if we want to somehow get a view of our human seasons of seemingly undeserved suffering from God's All-knowing perspective.

Here's Eugene Peterson's Introduction to the Book of Job from His Message Paraphrase of the Holy Bible just in case you want to take a few minutes to whet your appetite? It's a little long but a lot enlightening.

Job suffered. His name is synonymous with suffering. He asked, "Why?" He asked, "Why me?" And he put his questions to God. He asked his questions persistently, passionately, and eloquently. He refused to take silence for an answer. He refused to take clichés for an answer. He refused to let God off the hook.

Job did not take his sufferings quietly or piously. He disdained going for a second opinion to outside physicians or philosophers. Job took his stance before God, and there he protested his suffering, protested mightily.

It is not only because Job suffered that he is important to us. It is because he suffered in the same ways that we suffer—in the vital areas of family, personal health, and material things. Job is also important to us because he searchingly questioned and boldly protested his suffering. Indeed, he went "to the top" with his questions.

It is not suffering as such that troubles us. It is undeserved suffering. Almost all of us in our years of growing up have the experience of disobeying our parents and getting punished for it. When that discipline was connected with wrongdoing, it had a certain sense of justice to it: When we do wrong, we get punished.

One of the surprises as we get older, however, is that we come to see that there is no real correlation between the amount of wrong we commit and the amount of pain we experience. An even larger surprise is that very often there is something quite the opposite: We do right and get knocked down. We do the best we are capable of doing, and just as we are reaching out to receive our reward we are hit from the blind side and sent reeling.

This is the suffering that first bewilders and then outrages us. This is the kind of suffering that bewildered and outraged Job, for Job was doing everything right when suddenly everything went wrong. And it is this kind of suffering to which Job gives voice when he protests to God.

Job gives voice to his sufferings so well, so accurately and honestly, that anyone who has ever suffered—which includes every last one of us—can recognize his or her personal pain in the voice of Job. Job says boldly what some of us are too timid to say. He makes poetry out of what in many of us is only a tangle of confused whimpers. He shouts out to God what a lot of us mutter behind our sleeves. He refuses to accept the role of a defeated victim.
It is also important to note what Job does not do, lest we expect something from him that he does not intend. Job does not curse God as his wife suggests he should do, getting rid of the problem by getting rid of God. But neither does Job explain suffering. He does not instruct us in how to live so that we can avoid suffering. Suffering is a mystery, and Job comes to respect the mystery.

In the course of facing, questioning, and respecting suffering, Job finds himself in an even larger mystery—the mystery of God. Perhaps the greatest mystery in suffering is how it can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship, full of wonder, love, and praise. Suffering does not inevitably do that, but it does it far more often than we would expect. It certainly did that for Job. Even in his answer to his wife he speaks the language of an uncharted irony, a dark and difficult kind of truth: "We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days?"

But there is more to the book of Job than Job. There are Job’s friends. The moment we find ourselves in trouble of any kind—sick in the hospital, bereaved by a friend’s death, dismissed from a job or relationship, depressed or bewildered—people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way road-kills attract vultures. At first we are impressed that they bother with us and amazed at their facility with answers. They know so much! How did they get to be such experts in living?

More often than not, these people use the Word of God frequently and loosely. They are full of spiritual diagnosis and prescription. It all sounds so hopeful. But then we begin to wonder, "Why is it that for all their apparent compassion we feel worse instead of better after they’ve said their piece?"

The book of Job is not only a witness to the dignity of suffering and God’s presence in our suffering but is also our primary biblical protest against religion that has been reduced to explanations or "answers." Many of the answers that Job’s so-called friends give him are technically true. But it is the "technical" part that ruins them. They are answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy. The answers are slapped onto Job’s ravaged life like labels on a specimen bottle. Job rages against this secularized wisdom that has lost touch with the living realities of God.

In every generation there are men and women who pretend to be able to instruct us in a way of life that guarantees that we will be "healthy, wealthy, and wise." According to the propaganda of these people, anyone who lives intelligently and morally is exempt from suffering. From their point of view, it is lucky for us that they are now at hand to provide the intelligent and moral answers we need.

On behalf of all of us who have been misled by the platitudes of the nice people who show up to tell us everything is going to be just all right if we simply think such-and-such and do such-and-such, Job issues an anguished rejoinder. He rejects the kind of advice and teaching that has God all figured out, that provides glib explanations for every circumstance. Job’s honest defiance continues to be the best defense against the clichés of positive thinkers and the prattle of religious small talk.

The honest, innocent Job is placed in a setting of immense suffering and then surrounded by the conventional religious wisdom of the day in the form of speeches by Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu. The contrast is unforgettable. The counselors methodically and pedantically recite their bookish precepts to Job. At first Job rages in pain and roars out his protests, but then he becomes silent in awestruck faith before God, who speaks from out of a storm—a "whirlwind" of Deity. Real faith cannot be reduced to spiritual bromides and merchandised in success stories. It is refined in the fires and the storms of pain.
The book of Job does not reject answers as such. There is content to biblical religion. It is the secularization of answers that is rejected—answers severed from their Source, the living God, the Word that both batters us and heals us. We cannot have truth about God divorced from the mind and heart of God.

In our compassion, we don’t like to see people suffer. And so our instincts are aimed at preventing and alleviating suffering. No doubt that is a good impulse. But if we really want to reach out to others who are suffering, we should be careful not to be like Job’s friends, not to do our "helping" with the presumption that we can fix things, get rid of them, or make them "better." We may look at our suffering friends and imagine how they could have better marriages, better behaved children, better mental and emotional health. But when we rush in to fix suffering, we need to keep in mind several things.

First, no matter how insightful we may be, we don’t really understand the full nature of our friends’ problems. Second, our friends may not want our advice. Third, the ironic fact of the matter is that more often than not, people do not suffer less when they are committed to following God, but more. When these people go through suffering, their lives are often transformed, deepened, marked with beauty and holiness, in remarkable ways that could never have been anticipated before the suffering.

So, instead of continuing to focus on preventing suffering—which we simply won’t be very successful at anyway—perhaps we should begin entering the suffering, participating insofar as we are able—entering the mystery and looking around for God. In other words, we need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and—if they will let us—join them in protest and prayer. Pity can be nearsighted and condescending; shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing. As we look at Job’s suffering and praying and worshiping, we see that he has already blazed a trail of courage and integrity for us to follow.

But sometimes it’s hard to know just how to follow Job’s lead when we feel so alone in our suffering, unsure of what God wants us to do. What we must realize during those times of darkness is that the God who appeared to Job in the whirlwind is calling out to all of us. Although God may not appear to us in a vision, he makes himself known to us in all the many ways that he describes to Job—from the macro to the micro, from the wonders of the galaxies to the little things we take for granted. He is the Creator of the unfathomable universe all around us—and he is also the Creator of the universe inside of us. And so we gain hope—not from the darkness of our suffering, not from pat answers in books, but from the God who sees our suffering and shares our pain.

Reading Job prayerfully and meditatively leads us to face the questions that arise when our lives don’t turn out the way we expect them to. First we hear all the stock answers. Then we ask the questions again, with variations—and hear the answers again, with variations. Over and over and over. Every time we let Job give voice to our own questions, our suffering gains in dignity and we are brought a step closer to the threshold of the voice and mystery of God. Every time we persist with Job in rejecting the quick-fix counsel of people who see us and hear us but do not understand us, we deepen our availability and openness to the revelation that comes only out of the tempest. The mystery of God eclipses the darkness and the struggle. We realize that suffering calls our lives into question, not God’s. The tables are turned: God-Alive is present to us. God is speaking to us. And so Job’s experience is confirmed and repeated once again in our suffering and our vulnerable humanity.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who's Our Daddy?

We are Yours, Lord. You are our Abba Father. Yes, You are our Daddy Father God. We love You so much because You first Loved us too much. We reverence You. We dedicate ourselves to Your desires. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, in Whom You are well pleased. Amen.

Romans 8:15-17 (NIV) -- (15) For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father." (16) The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (17) Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.


Friday, November 13, 2009


Lord, help me to trust in Your blood rather than my sweat. Remind me that trusting You must overwhelm my trying. I want to live by faith in You alone and trust with confidence in Your great Love. Amen.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

When Our Strength Is Gone?

This song from years past is on my mind today. The artist who sang the song was Stephen Curtis Chapman:

Click >

I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength.
But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me?
No great success to show, no glory on my own.
Yet in my weakness He is there to let me know.

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.
Raised in His power, the weak become strong.
His strength is perfect. His strength is perfect.

We can only know, the power that He holds,
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes.
His strength in us begins, where ours comes to an end.
He hears our humble cry and proves again.

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.
Raised in His power, the weak become strong.
His strength is perfect. His strength is perfect.

Indeed, when our strength is gone, we can still carry on because of the strength of Christ in us (Col. 1:27b). He carries us from within!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turn Worrying Into Worship

After reading Mark 4:35-41 this morning, this is my solemn prayer:

Lord, help me to turn all of my worrying into awesome worship of You. Amen.

Mark 4:35-41 (NLT) -- (35) As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let’s cross to the other side of the lake." (36) He was already in the boat, so they started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). (37) But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. (38) Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke Him up, shouting, "Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?" (39) When He woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the water, "Quiet down!" Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. (40) And He asked them, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?" (41) And they were filled with awe and said among themselves, "Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey Him?"


Monday, November 9, 2009


Today as I was reading and praying in Psalm 119, in the Message Paraphrase of the Holy Bible, these eighteen words from verse 34 resonated with my deepest desires:

And so I pray the eighteen words again now, My Lord...

...Give me insight so I can do what You tell me -- my whole life one long, obedient response.

In the name of the One called Wonderful. Amen.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Let Your Life Be My Life, Oh Lord!

Consider with me Psalm 39:4-5 (NIV) -- (4) Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. (5) You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah

My soul prays along with the Psalmist: Be my Eternal Life, Oh God, because my earthly life is fleeting, but Your Eternal Life is for forever. In Your name alone, Jesus, I have Hope and Strength for Life that lasts and lasts and lasts. Amen.

My heart sings aloud with the songwriter who penned these words:

My life is in You, Lord.
My strength is in You, Lord.
My hope is in You, Lord. In You, it's in You.
I will praise You with all of my life.
I will praise You with all of my strength.
With all of my life, With all of my strength,
All of my hope is in You!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Be 1.2.3.

A dear family of four from our local church family, The Barkers, just moved around the world to serve the Lord in Botswana, Africa. Settling in is surely challenging to say the least, but they are reminded (by those already serving in Botswana) to always remember the three "P's" of Africa. Maybe the three "P's" of Africa will help us in our lives today wherever we are:

1. Be Polite
2. Be Patient
3. Be Persistent

Thanks to Africa for the heads-up encouragement. Sounds Biblical to me. So, let's BE 1.2.3.

2 Timothy 4:2b -- (NLT) "Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching."


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rejoice. Relax. Rest. Doctor's Orders.

Dr. H.B. London, a pastor-to-pastors at Focus on the Family, shared these three words in a pastor's encouragement workshop I attended today: Rejoice. Relax. Rest. It's a powerful prescription that The Apostle Paul gave in his Epistle of Joy, Philippians, written in a prison cell. I'd say it's a prescription straight from the mind and heart of the Great Physician. JESUS.

ALL JOY! Indeed!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Baaask" in the Good Shepherd's Presence!

Have you saturated in the 23rd Psalm lately? I invite you to join me there today, yes, to "Baaask" in the blessed presence of the Good Shepherd. "Baaask... Baaask..."


Monday, November 2, 2009

Forgiveness? The Key! The Power!

Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. — Corrie ten Boom

Lord... forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us... Help us to show mercy to others that You in return might show mercy to us... And let us never forget that while Your love is unconditional, Your forgiveness is conditional, in that, unless we forgive others, You will not forgive us. Amen.


Placing Our Own Interests Over God's?

Twice in the past few days the Lord has brought this passage from Haggai 1:1-11 (NLT printed below) to me through two separate sources. It's an ancient story with timeless condsiderations for those of us who live today claiming Lordship lifestyles, that is, saying that we want what God wants more than we want anything in our lives. The question Haggai poses to us is simple, yet profound: Are we guilty of placing our own interests over God's?

(1) On August 29 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the LORD gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. (2) "This is what the LORD Almighty says: The people are saying, ‘the time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’S house—the Temple.’" (3) So the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai: (4) "Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? (5) This is what the LORD Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! (6) You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (7) "This is what the LORD Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! (8) Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. (9) You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD Almighty, while you are all busy building your own fine houses. (10) That is why the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth has withheld its crops. (11) I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olives and all your other crops, a drought to starve both you and your cattle and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get."

Will we live Lordship lifestyles by placing God's interests above all else? Or will we turn to idolatry by placing our interests above all else? Does the Lord reign supreme on the throne of our lives or are we still occupying the throne ourselves?



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Yes! The Son of God in the Old Testament!

Did you know that the Good News of God having a Beloved Son is not just unfolded in the New Testament, but it is also enfolded in the Old Testament? Here are two obvious Old Testament references revealing the Reality of God's Son:

Psalm 2:12 (NIV) -- Kiss the Son, lest He (the LORD) be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.

Proverbs 30:4 (NIV) -- Who has gone up to Heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and the name of His Son? Tell me if you know!


Want some homework? See if you can find The Son of God in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, chapter 3? :-)


Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Worst of Times = The Best of Times?

My pastor friend Ron, has been battling cancer for nearly six years now. This week his e-letter contained these amazing words:

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support for me and my family. I am deeply grateful to be alive and blessed in so many ways. This coming February, will mark six years in this battle with cancer. It’s been an amazing journey. My doctors and friends in the medical profession say, “Ron, you should have been dead years ago!” It’s true. My early prognoses were bleak to say the least. In spite of the early, hopeless assessments that I received from some, I’m still alive and kickin’! God has seen fit to preserve my life and I am thankful. I am thankful, not just because it’s Thanksgiving and I love turkey and pumpkin pie and that I’m still alive, but I’m actually thankful for the cancer. I am thankful because through this long and difficult journey God has changed me. I know Him better and love Him more. He is SO Good and Faithful!

Pastor Ron closed his e-letter with these words and a passage from the Word of God:

Well dear ones, I’m thankful! Thankful for the Lord’s faithfulness, for my amazing family, friends and church, and I’m thankful for how He’s worked in me through this journey. Like Marvin Sapp sings, (in his song, "Never Could Have Made It") “I’m stronger and I’m wiser.” I can say it’s true! Wisdom is different than knowledge. Knowledge knows stuff, facts and figures - like the people on the Jeopardy game show. It has its place. When you need CPR, you’re glad someone has the knowledge to save your life! Knowledge is important. But wisdom knows God and His ways. It’s knowing ourselves in the light of knowing Him. And, it’s understanding life in the light of knowing Him. So dear friends, don’t resist or resent the tough times. Through them, you can begin to see everything else in the light of knowing Him. And, THAT is wisdom! Let me leave you with a passage I read this morning from The Message:

James 3:17-18 (MSG) (17) Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. (18) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

May you be wise without being a “wise guy!” May your wisdom be humble and rooted in your personal life in a knowledge of Christ. And, may your wisdom be marked by a holy life and robust community!

Amazingly Graced,
Pastor Ron

Thanks Pastor Ron for testifying to us that The Worst of Times Can Indeed Equal the Best of Times, and we continue to plead the cleansing blood of our Jesus over your precious life, wise friend.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Lord, Teach Your Disciples to Pray...

Here's the prayer the Lord taught His disciples to pray. So, it must be called "The Disciple's Prayer?" Let's pray it together to our Father God as fully devoted disciples:

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 trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass 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 and ever. Amen.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

King-God, I Need Your Help!

These words from Psalm 5 in the Message Paraphrase of the Holy Bible really help us to cry out to God passionately and urgently:

King-God, I need Your help. Every morning You’ll hear me at it again.
Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on Your altar and watch for fire to descend...

And here I am, Your invited guest— it’s incredible!
I enter Your house; here I am, prostrate in Your inner sanctum,
Waiting for directions to get me safely through enemy lines.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

DEFINITELY, not Probably!

When the Lord speaks His desires for our lives, what is the immediate response of our hearts?

(1) I probably will obey? or (2) I definitely will obey!

Jesus said these words in John 14:21 (NLT): Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. (Those who DEFINITELY obey, not probably obey!)

Lord, help us to defintely obey you immediately after you speak Your desires to us, not to prove we love You, but because we love You. Amen.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Will You Be The One?

Let's allow Al Denson's song "Be the One" to inspire each one of us to say "I will be one of the ones who says a definite YES to God's Divine desires. Yes, I will be one of the ones through whom God can restore His glory to the world."

"Be the One" lyrics:

(1) In a world full of broken dreams, where the truth is hard to find.
For every promise that is kept, there are many left behind.
Though it seems that nobody cares, it still matters what you do.
Cause there's a difference you can make, but the choice is up to you.

* First Chorus:
Will you be the one to answer to His call?
Will you stand when those around you fall?
Will you be the one to take His light into a darkened world?
Tell me will you be the one?

(2) Oh sometimes it's hard to know who is right and what is wrong.
And where are you supposed to stand when the battle lines are drawn?
There's a voice that is calling out for someone who’s not afraid
to be a beacon in the night to a world that's lost its way.

There are still some battles that I must fight from day to day.
Yet the Lord provides the power for me to stand and say…

* Second Chorus:
I will be the one to answer to His call.
I will stand when those around me fall.
I will be the one to take His light into a darkened world.
I will be the one.