Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Obedience Leads to Miracles

The public ministry of Jesus started in a kitchen during a wedding at Cana of Galilee. Mary, His mother, led her Son to the kitchen help and said these words: Whatever Jesus says to you, do it. They did. Moments later, a miracle happened. (John 2:5)

Let us not forget that obedience leads to miracles.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What Does God See When He Looks at Me?

My brother recently asked me, "What's your favorite Clint Nelson song?" Clint Nelson was the music leader at our home church on the little coastal island where we were raised. Clint is one of the most gifted singers and songwriters ever born. You may think I'm biased but if you heard him sing one of his many inspiring songs, you'd agree with my comments about Clint. (Clint is now the senior pastor at that same little church and still is the music leaders as well).

Anyway, when my brother asked me, "What's your favorite Clint Nelson song?", while I have many favorite Clint Nelson songs, I knew immediately the answer to my most favorite one. The heart of the song is: "When He looks at me He only sees the Blood." How powerful those words are to everyone who has found favor with Holy God because of the shed blood of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, the Sacrifice. As a result of being redeemed, God is satisfied with me, only because When He looks at me He only sees the Blood.

And I will never forget these loving lyrics from another old hymn of the church: What can wash away my sin? NOTHING BUT the blood of Jesus!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Prayer of Saint Francis for Saint Kathleen

I just received a call that a dear 89-year-old saint, Kathleen, passed from this life to the next. She was a saint, in that she belonged exclusively to God. She was also like a grandmother to our children, always cooking snicker-doodle cookies for them up until she entered the rest home.

Saint Kathleen's favorite prayer was the Prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi. I post it below for the glory of God and as a tribute to His Life in hers:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and...
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and...
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

See you soon, Kathleen. Thanks for leaving me with a lovely last memory of yourself -- the smile of JESUS glowing from within you. It will inspire me until we meet again.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

We Don't Belong to Darkness

1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 (NLT) (5) For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. (6) So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be sober.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Give Me the Desires of My Heart, Only If....

Psalm 37:4 (NLT) -- Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

Lord, I ask that You would give me the desires of my heart, only if they are one with the desires of Your heart. In Jesus' Name. Amen.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Mark 10:27"

As I was driving, I came up behind a big dump truck. This Biblical reference was painted on the tail gate of the truck:

"Mark 10:27"

I looked up the verse immediately and read these words:

Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God."

-- Mark 10:27 (NLT)

Lord, don't let me limit You when I come up on "seemingly impossible" circumstances. Instead of wallowing in my despair, help me to dump everything at Your nail-scared feet and to trust You totally for what You alone can amazingly accomplish in my life and in the lives of those around me. Help me to partner with You on planet earth for miracles made in heaven. Amen.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Return to God and Keep Waiting For Him!

Lord forgive us for running off ahead of You and Lord forbid that we would continue to do so.

(15) The Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says, “Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.
(16) You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!
(17) One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a distant mountaintop.”

Isaiah 30:15-17 (NLT)


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wait for God.

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act. -- Psalm 37:7 (NLT)

Lord, help us to know that waiting for You is not wasted time. In Jesus' name. Amen.

ALL JOY... as you Wait for God.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Blessing of LIGHT for Your Life

From Ephesians 1:18 (NLT), this is my blessing of LIGHT for your life, by day and by night:

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with LIGHT so that you can understand the wonderful future He has promised to those He called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance He has given to his people.

Yes, I pray that the wonder-filled wattage of the One called Wonderful, Jesus, will LIGHT up your life, by day and by night. AMEN.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

God's Presence in Our Hearts & Our Homes

God's presence will never change our homes until God's presence first changes our hearts. Only His Extreme Heart Makeover within me, will result in His Extreme Home Makeover around me.

So I earnestly pray the words of this familiar praise chorus with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength:

Change my heart oh God. Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God. May I be like You.
You are the potter. I am the clay.
Mold me and make me. This is what I pray.
Change my heart oh God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God.
May I be like You.

Need a passage to saturate in for a heart change? Psalm 51 is a good prayer to usher God's presence immediately into our hearts and ultimately within our homes.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Beware The Chief Spiritual Phobia

A Word of Warning:

Because spiritual independence (or being the chief controller of our own lives) is the very essence of sin, we'd best beware of embracing the chief spiritual phobia of having to be in control of everything all the time. In other words, let us beware of embracing the inexplicable fear, the chief spiritual phobia of losing control of our lives by giving the reins of our lives over to Almighty God. We must give up our rights to ourselves to the Lord.

Afterall, 1 John 4:18 (NLT), speaks directly to this chief spiritual phobia that threatens our lives: ... perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that His love has not been perfected in us.

Let's let the Lord be Lord of our lives, totally, by allowing His Love to expel all tormenting fear from our lives.

I love the prayer a dear, old brother of mine named Earl taught me: Lord, You be Lord, all by Yourself! Amen!


Do Not Bring Sorrow

This verse is still on my heart after several days of saturating in Ephesians 4. Even though it was part of an earlier post, I think it most not be forgotten:

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Ephesiams 4:30 (NLT)


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let's Be Encouraged By the Psalmist

The Psalmist said, For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
-- Psalm 100:5 (NIV)


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is Jesus Really Lord of My Life?

Hear these straight forward words from Jesus in Luke 6:46 (NIV):
Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

One of my life mentors, James, reminded me that the Greek definition of the title, Lord, is The Supreme Controller.

So might Jesus actually be asking more plain questions like this in Luke 4:46? Why do you refer to me as the The Supreme Controller of your life, yet refuse to let go of the controls? Why do you call me your King, yet keep yourself on the throne of your life?

Jesus knows the answers to the questions He's asking about who is really Lord in our lives? He doesn't ask us Lordship questions because He doesn't know the answers. He asks us Lordship questions because He's interested in hearing our responses and is lovingly inviting us to really crown Him as Lord, The Supreme Controller, of our lives.

Let's call Him Lord, Lord, because that's Who He really is to us -- The Supreme One in total control of our lives because we have willingly surrendered our all to His Majesty.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Power of Prayer, Praise, and Confession

James 5 contains these verses of encouragement for those of us who will believe in The Power of Prayer, Praise, and Confession:

(13) Are any among you suffering? They should keep on praying about it. And those who have reason to be thankful should continually sing praises to the Lord.
(14) Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.

(15) And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
(16) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

(17) Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years!
(18) Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again. (New Living Translation)


Monday, September 14, 2009

Speak and Live to Encourage (Not to Sorrow)

Ephesians 4:29b-30 from The New Living Translation of the Holy Bible is near to my heart. I share The Apostle Paul's words with you:

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He is the one who has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Birth Comes Before Growth

A Basic Christian Commentary

A while back, I was talking on the phone with a dear friend of mine. The most basic idea of Christianity was the topic – being born again. So many people sadly seem to have the cart before the horse and the tail wagging the puppy when it comes to being a Christian. In other words there must be a spiritual birth before there can be spiritual growth. It seems that some people are trying to become fully devoted followers of Jesus without first coming to Jesus to be born again. In other words, we should never expect to grow in Christ until we first know Him as Christ! Unless we have been forgiven of our sins and are willing to forsake our lives of sin, trying to grow spiritually will only be an exercise in futility. If we have not yet been born again and are still dead in our sins, trying to grow in Christianity may only lead us to insanity.

In the New Testament Gospel account of Jesus Christ according to John the Beloved we find the most memorized verse in the Bible – John 3:16. But did you know that John 3:16 was first spoken by Jesus to a seeker who was trying to grow in godliness without first being born of God? It’s true. The seeker’s name? Nicodemus. Old not-so-saintly-Nick, was at the top of the religious ladder. He was indeed considered to be among the most intellectual guardians of Jewish law. His opinions could sway votes on the ruling council of Israel and his words were among the most quoted after each board meeting. Yet, Nick was not growing in godliness and he knew it. So in an attempt to get some answers and to avoid being noticed, Nicodemus set out in the deep shadows of his own shallow spirituality to find the Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, he met with Jesus at night.

In reply to Nick’s question, Jesus told him the most basic idea of Christianity: I tell you the truth, Jesus said, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. The highly educated Nicodemus was confused to say the least. I must be born again? How can this happen? Jesus went on to explain that in order to grow in true godliness, one must first be born again, not born physically again, but born again spiritually by believing and by embracing these words: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. It’s simple, but profound, my friends, unless we have been born twice – once physically and once spiritually – growing in God’s salvation will only lead to our frustration. Christ came so we could experience conversion from dying as sinners to living as saints. A sinner is one who belongs exclusively to sin. Death awaits. A saint is someone who exclusively belongs to God. Life arises.

So, do you belong exclusively to God? Has there been a conversion from spiritual death to spiritual life in your eternal soul? Have you been born again? If not, if you’re sincere, it’s as simple as praying a prayer like this: Father God, I admit that I’ve been wrong. You’ve been right. I accept Your Son, as my Savior. I do not want an intellectual religion. I want an intimate relationship with You. Help me to turn from sinning and to turn to shining. I believe that You gave Jesus so that I might know You, escape eternal death and have eternal life. I confess: Jesus is the only Way to Heaven. Thank you, for loving me too much! I want to know You and grow in You and in that order. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Perhaps you would choose to print this post and sign your name:

Signed: _________________________________________________.

And, I think Nicodemus finally did become an Old Saint Nick. Read John 19:38-42 and decide for yourself. After Jesus’ death, Nick came with Joey to get the body for burial. Seems he came out of his big hiding place to be born again as a little baby in Christ! :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Passage of Time

James Taylor sings a song titled Secret of Life. One line from the old tune says: The Secret of Life is enjoying The Passage of Time.

Well, I'd agree that's at least one secret of life. But the greater secret, or mystery to me is The Passage of Time itself. It seems just days ago that my son and daughter were little children, Now, all of a sudden, our "little" son is a 22-year-old college graduate and beginning his chosen career in radio broadcasting. Our "little" daughter is 20 and already a university junior as a fashion marketer and living three-and-a-half hours from home. It's unbelievable how fast time has rushed past our family.

This morning as I had my usual quiet time on the front porch, our neighbor was playing with his little four-year-old boy on the sidewalk next door. Listening to his young son's little-boy-laughter penetrated my heart and reminded me of the mystery, yes, the mystery of The Passage of Time.

I am reminded of these words from a poem my wife and I used to incorporate in advertising when we were full-time photographers. It was an effective sales pitch that encouraged or warned parents to have their little children remembered in portraits before it was too late. Listen to these 13 words:

Whatever happened to yesterday?
It picked up our children and stole them away.

Now, rest assured, I have enjoyed The Passage of Time, but I am still confounded by it all. James Taylor's song advice may be very close to some of the the best counsel we can get about the mystery of life's brevity: Enjoy the passage of time. That is, enjoy the passage of time by being present in your present and by being up-to-date in your relationship with God and your relationships with others, especially your own family members.

Another old Gospel song by the Gaithers said it this way:
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.

The time that remains is very short... 1 Corinthians 7:29 (NLT).


Note: This blog entry specifically spells out in part my life's joy-description, which includes, but is not limited to, these 7 words:

Live to help others minimize future regrets.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001 is a day we’d all like to erase from our lives, but it is a day that we will never ever forget. I remember where I was when the mobile phone rang and my assistant, Angela, tried her best to explain to me what was happening up in New York City.

My first thoughts were these: World War III is underway. In hindsight, those words probably describe what began on September 11, 2001 better than any others. This war may look different than past world wars, but no one would doubt that there’s a raging battle underway on planet earth.

While I made my way back to our local church on that horrific day, one of my partners in ministry, Vic, was hooking up the cable TV news in the children’s church room. As we watched the film footage, we were all overwhelmed emotionally and surely speechless. Later that week, I put my thoughts on paper in the form of a sad song. As this is the eighth anniversary for remembering September 11, 2001, I thought I’d share the words of the sad song with you:

“September 11, 2001”
A Short Sad Song for One Long Day

September Eleventh, Two Thousand One,

a beautiful sunny day had begun.
When suddenly from out of the skies,

terror rained down and tears filled our eyes.

It was one minute past 8:45,

bad things were happening, trouble was nigh.
Madmen had hijacked four of our planes,

and used them as missiles to put us in flames.

Up in New York, towers were falling.

On bended knee, to God we were calling.
Before the nightmare came to a halt,

we knew in our hearts, it was our wake-up call.

Lord, let us hear your voice.
And help us make the choice,
To make You Lord of our lives.
We need you so,
Down here below.
Embrace us.
Please hold us tight.
Yes, we need You Lord.

In closing, let me remind you that on that first Sunday after 9-11-2001, I preached on the Hope we have in our God. One Scripture selection I used was from The Message Paraphrase of the Holy Bible. It is found in 2 Corinthians 4: We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.

Let's remember September, and let's never forget that our Hope has a name -- JESUS. He is our Good News even in the face of Sad Days.



Whenever I hear the words nine-eleven or see the numbers 9-11, I always think just how much our planet needs the Presence of the One called The Prince of Peace.

My friend, Pastor Bill Wilson, from Brooklyn, New York, who saw the Twin Towers falling on 9-11-2001, said this in the aftermath of the terrorists' attacks on American soil: Tragedy doesn't really change us, only God's presence really changes us.

Let us never forget that we really need God's presence, and let our cry have the same desperate tone of King David's prayer recorded in Psalm 51:11: Do not banish me (us) from Your presence, and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me (us).


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Saturate in John 15

Yesterday I was saturating in John 15 and today I still am. Jesus, the True Vine, is this branch's (my) Life-Source. Apart from Him I can do nothing. Enough said.

I invite you to Saturate in John 15 along with me. :-)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Are You Weak? He is Strong!

I've come to realize that whatever spiritual independence is, it is not strength. In fact, I know that spiritual independence is in reality weakness in denial. We must not deny that we need God and each other. We especially need God.

Spiritual independence is the entry way to spiritual suicide. Spiritual Independence properly defined is self-centered ego, yes, the very essence of sin. And Romans 6:23 (NKJV) warns us with these 6 words: ...the wages of sin (spiritual independence) is death.

Actually, the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:3 might be properly paraphrased like this: Blessed are (the poor in spirit) those who admit they are spiritually dependent upon the Lord.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT) ends with this declaration of spiritual dependency on God: For when I am weak, then I am strong. In other words, if I declare rather than deny that I am weak, I confess spiritual dependence on God and His strength becomes mine.

The "Jesus Loves Me" children's song says it best:
Little ones to Him belong; they are weak but HE is strong!

And another songwriter said it this way: His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.

Good news! Are You Weak? He is Strong!
In 7 words? Turn from sin. Turn to Him. Totally.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Lord Hears. The Lord Knows.

If you belong to the Lord, I invite you to inhale within the depths of your soul and embrace with all of your life these two verses:

* Psalm 34:17 (NLT)
"The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles."

* 2 Timothy 2:19 (NLT)
"But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and 'Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness.'"

Together, let's pray and obey Psalm 34:17 and 2 Timothy 2:19. The keyword for me in both verses is the word HIS.

And let us never forget that Our Lord Hears and Our Lord Knows.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Invitation for All

Jesus speaks His invitation to all people in Matthew 11:28 (NKJV):

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Let's RSVP on our knees.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Losers Win? Yes We Do.

In Luke 17:33 (MSG) Jesus said, If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms.

Galatians 2:20 (MSG) helps us to know more clearly what it means "to lose our lives":
Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

And in Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) the Apostle Paul applied the lose-your-life words of Jesus to his own life with these words: (7) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. (8) Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (11) if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

So is it correct to say that "The Losers Win" in the Kingdom of God? Yes, in fact losing is a core value of Christlike winners. Think about it. On Crucifixion Friday Jesus looked like the #1 Loser of all losers, but on Resurrection Sunday He proved to be the #1 Winner of all winners! Indeed, Jesus turned His loss on Friday's Cross into our gain outside Sunday's Tomb. Let's exhale. The Losers Win? Yes, We Do!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Encouragement Please

...if you have a message of encouragement... please speak...
Acts 13:15 (NIV)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fearful? A Love Prescription!

...perfect love drives out fear... 1 John 4:18 (NIV)

If you haven't read prayerfully and carefully through "the love chapter" (1 Corinthians 13) lately, it's a great God-prescription -- especially helpful for the fearful. When you read 1 Corinthians 13, each time you see the word "love" replace it with the name "God" and see how powerful of a prescription "the love chapter" really is.

Afterall, God is (perfect) love. 1 John 4:16 (NIV)


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quietly Irresistible

My prayer for today and every day:

Lord, let Your Holy Presence overflow in my life continuously, so that my life will be quietly irresistible to others -- for Your glory and their good. I want my life to be characterized by Your Holy overflowing Spirit, not my human overworking sweat. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Clear Vision is Critical!

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says:
Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Clear Vision is Critical. Seeing beneath the surface is essential.

Here's a little vision drill.
What message do you immediately see in these fourteen letters?


(Now, scroll down to the end of the "?" marks...)


Did you look at the fourteen letters long enough to see two messages? Don't trust everything you see at first glance. Often we must look deeper if we want to be encouraged.

Regardless of what message you saw immediately, be sure you cling ultimately to the second message listed below:


It's true, JESUS IS NOW HERE, because The One called Wonderful, JESUS, speaks these encouraging words to us in John 14:18 (NKJV) -- I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Let's embrace with spiritual eyes the evidence that true faith (clear vision) delivers. Hebrews 11:1 defines it: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (NKJV)


Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord. We want to see You.

Plead His Blood, Speak His Name

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) -- And they overcame him (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony...


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What More Could God Do?

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. -- John 3:16-17 (NIV)

After reading and reflecting on John 3:16-17, I ask, What more could God do to prove His Love for us than He has already done?