Monday, April 27, 2009
Maybe what is happening is that God has his plans and He has another thought in mind for us-a thought that has never entered into our minds. This is what happened to Saul in Acts 9.
Saul is adamantly against the Christians. He has made plans to disrupt what they are doing and he believes that he is doing God's work. But, then, God steps in and changes everything. He stops what Saul is doing and actually redirects Saul's life to accomplish the plans that God has for him.
God does this. He stops us and changes things whenever he wants to in whatever way that he wishes to. That is what I think I need to remember. God will accomplish His plans and he may even change my plans today to do this. God has done this in my life more than I can count. And, he may do it again this week.
Do you find yourself at a place where your plans are not working? Are you in a situation that you never thought you would be in-but you are? Maybe, just maybe God has something different in mind for you and maybe it's in these situations that we most need to look up and ask Him for our next step. Whose plans are driving your life today?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
There are two interesting verses from Ephesians that deal with how we use our tongues and the power of our words.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:25)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
In the book, How Full is Your Bucket, the authors reference a study by psychologist John Gottman who suggests the 5 to 1 ratio. Gottman found that marriages are significantly more likely to succeed when the couples interaction are close to 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative comments and emotions. (page 55).
In fact, Gottman teamed with two mathematicians to test this. They recruited 700 couples who were just married and video-taped a 15 minute conversation between the husband and wife. They counted the number of positive to negative interactions between the couple during that time and then predicted whether or not each couple would stay together or get divorced.
Ten years later they followed up with each couple. The results were stunning: 94% of those they had predicted would be divorced were. All of this based upon a 15 minute interaction.
As you think of relationships: your marriage, your children and family, your workplace and church: think 5 to 1. We must be people who are looking for ways to encourage each other as well as challenge. It appears that people thrive and change when there is an environment that gives 5 positive comments to every negative one. What would happen if we all thought 5 to 1?
Tell me what you think...
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Our focus will be "Authentic Christ-Centered Community". We live in a world, particularly here in America, where we have a "what's in it for me" attitude and unfortunately that same attitude is often what we have when it comes to the church. We want a place that focuses on what I want instead of looking for a place where I can help focus on others. But that is not what the church is to do.
An authentic Christ-centered community is what God has called the church to be. A place where Christ is the center and focus and the needs of others matter more than what I want. A place where we love and serve Him and each other. And, when we do, we find life and we give it away and we watch God grow us up and grow His church. This is the attitude that I want to have and the kind of church that I want to be apart of and the kind of church that God intends to build. What kind of church are you looking for?
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)
Monday, April 13, 2009
On Saturday we were packed with hundreds of children, parents, grand parents and volunteers at our first ever Community Easter Egg Hunt. Thanks so much to the dozens of volunteers who served with glad and willing hearts. You all are amazing. Next year, we will have to move it to the park.
Sunday, both services were packed and everyone was at their best. Our greeters were ready to meet and assist the hundreds who came.
Our Childrens' workers made Easter an exciting celebration for kids.
The worship and tech team was absolutely amazing, it was the best I've ever heard them.
Tim's drama impacted many people.
Also, there were dozens of people who made decisions for Christ and a commitment to reconcile broken relationships. Praying for all of you.
I was able to interact with many new people who felt warmly welcomed and encouraged by being there. It was evident that God was at work.
Let's keep it up. Let's remember the power of the resurrection to transform our lives everyday. let's continue to reach out and share this life with those around us. Let's celebrate Jesus everyday of our lives.
Proud to be here and to serve the Savior with you... We have much to celebrate!!!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Peter found this out. He had denied Jesus three times on the night that Jesus was arrested. He felt that his life was over. He felt that there was no hope. He thought that he had blown it so badly that Jesus would not want him and definitely would not have anything for him to do. This was not true.
Jesus met with him and some other disciples for breakfast one morning and Peter got the shock of his life. Jesus still had a mission for him to accomplish.
The resurrected Lord still had a purpose and mission for Peter. Peter, the one who had denied him, still mattered to Jesus and still had work to do.
You matter to Jesus-regardless of what you have done. You matter to Jesus, he still has a purpose for your life today. You have something to accomplish that matters for eternity.
Take up that purpose and let that be what motivates you today and every day for the rest of your life.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20)
They were overjoyed when they SAW the Lord.. What an understatement.
Can you imagine what it would heave felt like to have seen him that day? If you had been there. Followed him. Believed in him. Trusted him. Watched him die. Saw the tomb where he was laid. Lived in fear for the past few days thinking you may be next.
Now, he is in the room with you. Now he is alive...
Then he shows up seven days later so that Thomas could see and believe. And it was at that time that he spoke about me and you...
...blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
God's blessings come to those who have not seen and yet believe. I believe today because of the testimony of those who saw him. I believe today because of the witness of history. I believe today because of my changed life.
He is alive and I celebrate. I have hope for today and tomorrow. I believe life can be different. That relationships can be reconciled. That sins can be forgiveness. That you and I can start all over.
I believe because Jesus demonstrated that he is who he said he is. The resurrection proves it and life will never be the same.
So, today, tell someone. Today celebrate and remember.
Friday, April 10, 2009
It's Friday and Jesus is dead.
Today is the day that we call Good Friday. Have you ever wondered why we call it that? Here's what took place on Good Friday.
Jesus had been arrested.
He went through 6 mock trial overnight.
He was beaten and mocked.
The same crowd that worshiped Him on Palm Sunday now cries crucify Him.
He carried His cross-stumbling and falling. Needing help to carry it up that hill.
He was nailed to the cross and hung between two thieves.
His clothes were gambled away.
He hung there for 6 long, excruciating hours.
He died there before either of the thieves.
They took Him off that cross and laid Him in Joseph's tomb.
And, we call this good. If we had been there and was one of his disciples, I don't think we would have called it good. It would have been horrible, painful and devastating. We would not have thought it was good.
We call it good because we know that Sunday is coming. Today, all hope seems lost. Today all dreams are gone. Today Jesus is dead. But, today is not the end of the story. Sunday is coming.
Today is not the end of your story. Maybe today everything seems hopeless for you. It is not. Remember Sunday is coming. Resurrection is only a few hours away. New life and hope are just around the corner. Hang on. It's Friday but Sunday's Coming...
I can"t wait for Sunday. How about you???
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Jesus is fully committed to following through with the Father's wishes for Him. He surrenders himself to the soldiers and is taken into custody. He begins a long night of trails-going back and forth between Annas and Caiaphus and ultimately standing before Pilate. In everything that happened, He was a willing servant to it all. He never sought to defend Himself or to get out of what they were doing.
Jesus surrendered to all of this because of His love and commitment to His Father and to us. He is ready to suffer and die so that we might live. He is arrested late on Thursday night and it is now early Friday morning and it is all about to begin.
Jesus willingly followed God's plan for His life. May I do the same...
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
So, what does he talk about? What is on his mind? He prays. But he does not focus on his situation. Instead he focuses in his disciples and on us.
What does he pray for? Take a look....
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
He prays that we, those who believe in Him, may be one. He prays that we demonstrate and display unity to let the world know that the Father had sent him and that the Father loves us.
At this moment, Jesus is not focused on the pain and hell that he will face on the cross. Instead, he is focused on the one thing that he knows will matter most in the end and will be the most difficult to accomplish: UNITY.
Unity is what matters most to Jesus right before the end comes. Unity must matter to us. May we work hard to demonstrate to the world who Jesus is and who we are by the way that we treat each other. We are ONE with each person or group who embrace the Savior. We are not in competition with anyone.
We focus on how we are different. Jesus said we should focus on how we are alike.
As we approach Easter Sunday, let us remember that we are part of what God is doing in this world. We have a message of life and hope to proclaim because we know a Risen Savior. We are one with the Father because of Jesus and one with each other. May we focus on what matters most and display unity with one another.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Jesus gives us two promises in this verse. One that I like and one that I don't like so much. First of all, he makes it clear that I can have peace regardless of what is happening because of him. Then, he says that i can expect to experience trouble in this world-that is just the nature of this place. But there is something that I can do about that...
I can TAKE HEART because he has overcome the world. And since he has overcome the world, I can also.
Today, I choose to TAKE HEART. I don't have to allow the troubles that come to dictate my attitudes and actions. I can choose to have a positive outlook because I know that regardless of whatever I may face today it is temporary.
This week as I look to Easter morning and the resurrection, I know that he has overcome all of it and since I belong to him, I TAKE HEART!
Monday, April 6, 2009
The problem with that mindset is that I can get have so many things to do that I start to rely on me to get it done and not trust in Him. I move from one thing to next without ever stopping to think about it. There are times when I get a lot done but then realize that what I have done does not make a real difference in the lives of others. God's power and blessings are not there. It was all a real waste of time.
You see. my power source comes from staying connected to Him. It comes from remaining and trusting in Him.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Jesus said " ...apart from me you can do nothing."
I think what Jesus means is that apart from Him I cannot do anything that truly matters for people or for Him.
I want to do things that matter.
I want to focus on accomplishing meaningful tasks.
I want to make a difference in people's lives.
I want to honor God with what all I do.
I can only do these but staying connected to Him. With Easter coming up, there are a lot of things that I need to and want to do. My first commitment though and greatest focus needs to be staying connected to Him. Please pray that I will do it and I will pray that you will also...
Sunday, April 5, 2009
In a world with over 6.5 billion people, how can we be alone, how can we feel alone. Yet, we often do.
This, I believe, is also one of our greatest fears. We are afraid to be alone. When we struggle we feel like we are the only one and we are on our own.
I believe that Jesus understood this about us. He knew that one of the reasons his disciples did not want him to leave was because they would feel alone, abandoned. But, he made it clear that after he left, the Holy Spirit would come and not only be with them, but in them.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18)
So, no matter how I feel or what others do, I am not alone. God, himself, lives within me through the Holy Spirit to comfort me, empower me and remind me that I am His. I am NOT ALONE!!!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
People are looking everywhere to find the key to what will bring lasing happiness for their lives. We often think that we will find happiness and meaning for our lives by focusing on us. Jesus makes it completely clear, both by words and actions that happiness and meaning comes as we are willing to "wash each other's feet". As we are willing to serve others and put their needs ahead of us.
Jesus knew that he only had a few more hours left on this earth. He knew that in less than 24 hours, he would be dead. So, how does he choose to spend his last evening with his disciples? He chooses to be their servant and wash their dirty, stinking feet.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John13:12-17)
So, the key to happiness, to being blessed is to be found by serving others. We find our lives by being willing to give it away.
Father, today may I serve others and give my life away.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Yet, Jesus knew that in a few days this same crowd who was worshiping Him would cry out for Him to be crucified. He knew their worship would be short lived. In spite this, He was committed to follow through with what He came here to do. He was not after the praise of men. There was something else that motivated Him. He was committed to go to the cross in order to glorify His Father.
Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12: 27-28)
As we continue through John, we will see all that Jesus went through to accomplish what God sent Him to do. We will watch these crowds turn against Him-even His disciples will desert Him. Yet, nothing stopped Him from glorifying God.
I have to ask myself if I am as committed to God's glory as Jesus was. Will I remain steadfast in my love for Him and my willingness to live for Him regardless of what happens? I want to do this, but I often find that I allow other things to get in the way.
I find myself getting so focused on the things that are happening around me that I forget what matters most.
A critical word can consume me.
Bad news from someone I love can stop me in my tracks.
Pleasing people can become my focus.
My own ego and desires can get in the way.
My prayer is that God will give me the same resolve that Jesus had. So that regardless of what happens to me or around me, my commitment is to follow through with what God has called me to do. I don't want to get carried away by the praise of men. I want to live for God's glory and nothing else. Please pray that this will be true of me as I am praying that it will be true of you as well.
For God's Glory...
Thursday, April 2, 2009
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (John 11:4)
I wonder how often I jump when people want me to instead of being in tune with God's will and making certain that I move because he says to-not because some one expects me too. Jesus had this incredible ability to hear God's voice and respond to the needs of people. He did not react to what was happening, he was strategic and intentional with his time and relationships. He waited until the right time. Sometimes waiting is the best thing we can do. I must ask: what motivates me?
As a result of this, Jesus was able to step into a very hopeless situation and bring real hope not only to the sisters but to many others who were there. Listen to what he said to Martha...
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:43-44)
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead...
Life and Hope are found in a person, that Son of God. This one who has the power to raise people from the dead and give them life. The one who is motivated by God's glory and love for people.
So, today I look at what motivates me. What is motivating you today?
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
But Jesus makes an incredible promise. He says that He came for one reason. He came to give us life-full and free. Both now and forever.....
...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)
He goes on to say says there is something that we can stake our lives upon-something that will never change. He gives an unconditional guarantee to those who have surrendered their lives to Him-those who are His sheep.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)
Jesus makes this incredible promise to us-we have life through Him and no one or nothing can take that away. We are secure.
I don't know about you, but there are times when this can be hard for me to embrace....
-I struggle with sins that ought to be gone.
-I often face hard problems and situations that are definitely my fault.
-There are days when I don't feel like I am His.
But, then I remember that my security is guaranteed by my Father and life, eternal life, is promised because of what Jesus has done for me. So, today, regardless of what is happening in our world and whether or not I fail, I am in His hands. I have His promise that I am His and no one or nothing can change that.
If you know Him, if you have heard His call and surrendered to Him, you are His. Let this be the focus of our lives today.