Thursday, October 11, 2012

Serving the Neighborhood...

In just a couple of weeks, we will do our 2nd Annual Harvest Festival at Idlewild Park, October 27th,  here in Reno. I thought it would be good to remind us why we go to all of the trouble to get candy, put together games, enlist volunteers and seek to serve about 2,000 people for a couple of hours.

Here are three of the reasons why we do this:
1. Community:  God had placed us in a community with others and we are here to serve this comminity.

2. Children:  Children matter to God and we have an opportunity to share with them the love of Christ by offering a safe place for them to come to have some fun.

3.  Christ:  Jesus came to serve others and has called us to do the same.  We are seeking to serve in His name by going out to those who may never come to us. 

 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.   (Mark 10:45)

This is why we serve and reach out to the neighborhood.  We are here for a reason and we have this opportunity to make a difference.  Ah, by the way, we'll also have a lot of fun as we do this.  I hope that you will join us.  Let me hear from you about it....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lies We Believe

I'm working on a new teaching series that we start this weekend that deals with "Lies We Believe".  I once heard someone say that "thoughts produce after their own kind-lies produce death and truth produces life."  It seems that most people truly struggle to live the life that they long to live because they are plagued by some real lies that they often aren't even aware of.

We're going to take a look at a few of the ones that most of us face.  We'll start at the heart of the matter-by taking a look at the source of these lies.  It may surprise you...

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44

The lies we believe start with the father of lies.  One of his biggest lies is that he is not real.  George Barna tells us that well over 90% of Americans believe in God and over 60% adults say that Satan does not exist but is merely a "symbol of evil.

Perhaps the biggest lie we need to address is whether or not Satan is real.  What do you thing?   

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are You Facing Relational Drift?

I find myself at a place where I am working with several individuals and couples in their relationship.  Many are finally coming to realize that there are more issues going on than they were aware of.

I can relate to all of this so well.  There have been times in my marriage that I have out the ministry first, me first, others first and just completely ignored and sometimes even forgot about the needs of my wife.  It's never been fun nor easy to face the truth about my own selfishness and the way that I can so easily give to others and let my relationship drift.

Some signs that your relationship may be drifting:

1. You are now spending more time with your career, school, children or others than you used to?

2. You can't remember the last time you took your spouse out on a date?

3. You only talk about the things that you have to talk about: the kids, your schedule, who's doing what when.  You aren't about each other and what you need from each other.

Maybe some of this describes you.  If so, what can you and what will you do to stop the relational drift before it goes any further?

 I've learned that I need to put MORE energy and focus on my marriage than on my kids, my ministry or on others.  I've learned that I have to TAKE TIME to be with Kim and make certain nothing gets in the way.  We do "Date Nights" once a week and I love it.

 Let me know what helps you and what you've learned along the way.  I'd love to hear from you. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seized by the Vision

Last week I attended the annual Leadership Summit with 20 other amazing leaders from our church. It felt much like trying to drink from a fire hydrant with so many great speakers and so much to think about.  It will take me several weeks to process through all of the materials.

There is one thing that was said that has captured my heart and my prayers.  Bill Hybels said...

"It’s one thing to see a vision. It’s another thing to be seized by a vision!"

 God has given me a vision to reach those who are far from Him here in Reno-one of the most unchurched areas in our nation.  Our mission is to "Build Bridges for People to Come to Jesus and Grow in His Grace."I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways that God would have us reach out to this city and our community to touch the lives of those who do not yet know him. I can see it and so want it to happen. 

But I have to admit that being "seized by that vision" is a new thought for me.  I am praying that God would truly seize my heart with His vision for me and for us.  I am praying that I and this Body of people to be willing to do whatever it takes to see that vision become a reality regardless of the cost. So, when you think about me today, pray that I will be "seized by His vision".  I'll do the same for you.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Celebrate Dads!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about Fathers this week.  My Dad passed away over 5 years ago but I've done some reflecting on my relationship to him this week.  As I grew up, there were a lot of things that seemed to push us apart-but it was mainly his anger that I remembered the most as a child and then a teen-ager.  There were a lot of times that this became the focus of my relationship with him and I could not, or did not, see the good things that he did.

Reflecting back, I can remember the times that people in the neighborhood came to him for help and he helped.  I remember that he worked hard to provide the things that we needed and I remember that he always did his best to be honest and trustworthy.  I remember that he made certain I was able to go to the college that I wanted to attend and he paid for it.  I still have no idea how he did it.  I did make certain the he knew how much I loved him and appreciated all that he did for me before he passed away.

As I reflect about my Dad, I wish that I had focused more on the positive things that he did and less on the shortcomings that he had.  This Father's Day I want to encourage you to celebrate the good and positive things about your Dad and maybe think a little less about how he could be better.

Every Dad I know realizes that he falls short, even this one, and every Dad I know wants to be better.  Take some time to celebrate Dad and let him know about the good and positive things that he does for you.  Who knows?  Maybe that's what he needs to get even better.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Is Risen!

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”” (Matthew 28:5–7)

He is alive-Hope is alive-My sins are forgiven-I can forgive others-New Life is possible-I don't have to stay the way that I am. 

Easter changes everything-may we all be changed for His Glory.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Help When You Need It!

Almost every week I hear someone say something like, "I just couldn't help myself" or "I just can't stop what I'm doing" or "No one understands what I'm going through".  We all face some big battles in our lives.  We all have some temptations that we deal with that are harder for us to handle than others. Yet, somehow we often think  we are alone in our private battles.

It could be anger, lust, greed,envy, discouragement, bitterness, unforgiveness or any number of things. You and I will face something sometime today that will either win over us or we will win  it.  But just remember there is help when you it:

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17–18

Jesus was fully human like us so that he could identify with us-he we was even tempted like us but never gave in to that temptation so so he is able to help both you and me when we tempted today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Secure??? Probably Not...

We sometimes work hard to make something secure-usually it's something that we love and want to protect or something that we want to hide and keep from others.  The religious leaders were afraid that the disciples would come and steal Jesus' body from the grave so here is what they did:

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.(Matthew 27:62–66)  

They did not realize that you cannot keep something secure that God wants to make known.  The very thing that they did would only help to validate that Jesus rose from the grave.  The very guards they placed there to keep the grave secure would become witnesses that God had raised him from the dead.

Sometimes we try to hide things and make then secure so no one can see them-but understand that God sees and God may choose to make it known to the world.  Maybe instead of trying to hide it securely away-we bring it out into the open and allow him to deal with it.  You and I would rather it happen that way than for him to do it.  Are you hiding anything that you need to take to him today?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I Surrender... Raising the White Flag.

Surrender!  That's not a word that we like very much.  We think of white flags and cowards who just can't cut it.  We like winners-those who prevail not those who give up control and let someone else run their life.  

Yet this is exactly  Jesus did-this is exactly the way that He lived his life and the way that He calls us to live.  He surrendered to the Father's will for his life.  He gave up control and let someone else run his life.  

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)  

This is also what he calls us to do.  This is hard for me.  I don't know about you, but I like to be in control.  I want to be in charge.  I want to make the choices that I want to make and set the course of where I want to go.  Often when I do this, I mess things up far more than I make them better.

God has placed me in a situation this week where he has made it clear that I am not in charge, I am not in control.  I never have been and I never will be?.  So, once more, I have raised the white flag and held up my hands and said "I surrender". 

Will you pray for me to keep the flag and arms up and allow Him to take control and run my life?  Will you do the same?  I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

King of the Jews...

The big challenge for Pilate was trying to determine what to do with Jesus. When he first examined him, he made it known to everyone that he found no fault in him and would have him beaten and then released. But the Jewish leaders told Pilate that if he did this, he was no friend of Caesar because Jesus claimed to be a king.

Pilate was frightened and examined Jesus again asking if he were a king-Jesus essentially said yes. But, he made it clear that his kingdom was not of this world. He made it clear that his kingdom had different values. His kingdom would not be built on money, sex or power. His kingdom would be built on loving,giving and serving.

 So, this king was beaten and battered. This king carried and cross. This king was nailed to it and gave up his life. This king got Pilate's attention in a way that no one else had ever been able to do. So, this is the charge that Pilate wrote and placed on the cross...

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Luke 23:38)

The big question for me and for you is what will we do with this kings?  Will we surrender to him and the values that are his?

This has been a tough week for me-I'm having to deal with some intense stuff.  As I'm doing this, I need to be reminded of the King that I am seeking to follow-I need to be reminded of his values and I need his help to live those out even in the tough times-just as He did.

This is the King of the Jews and the King of My Life-what about you????

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Promise and then, Another One.

There are lots of promises that God gives us that I love and that we all love.  Promises like He will never leave us or forsake us.  Promises like he will bring good into our lives from everything that happens to us.  Promises like all of our sins are forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross-that's a really good one.

But there are some promises that I wish he had never given to us.  Jesus gives us one in John 16:

In this world you will have trouble... (John 16:33)  Now that is a promise that I could live without-I expect that you could as well.  We all will face trouble-all kinds of trouble.  Health problems-economic problems-relational problems-personal struggles-family issues and on and on we could go.  In fact, some of you reading this today are facing some troubles that you had no idea you would be facing when you awoke today.

This world is full of troubles and no one is immune to them.  This is a promise that bring great discouragement and it would if it were not for the next promise that Jesus gives.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  

I am grateful for the next promise that comes. In this world we will have troubles but we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world.  The world we live in and the troubles we face don't win.  He does and we can take heart that because he has overcome the world we will also.

A promise and then, another one.  That's what I'm banking my life-how about you?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stay Connected!

Staying connected is so important.  We all know that we need to stay connected to our spouse, our family, our friends, our co-workers and in ministry with our volunteers.  If you want chaos, confusion and frustration then pull away, don't communicate and make assumptions.  We've all done it and we've all experienced negative consequences as a result.  We must stay connected and in touch with those that matter.  We always get in trouble when we don't do this.

Jesus knew that connections matter and he told us that if we want to accomplish anything for God's glory then we have to remain connected to Him.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

It's not hard to understand what Jesus is saying.  We either remain in him or we don't.  We either stay connected to him or we pull away.  Staying connected takes time energy and effort.  Drifting and pulling away does not.  All you have to do is nothing and before you know it you have slipped away from those connections that matter.  Some of you are there right now with someone that you love. 

Jesus tells us that we must make him our priority-staying connected with him is what will cause us to bring him great glory.  Pulling away from him we can do nothing that really matters.  So, today what will you choose?  To pull away or stay connected-this part is really up to you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Gift

I love to get gifts.  They always remind me that someone is thinking about me and someone cares about me.  There is a gift that I have received that I often forget about and don't take advantage of.  It is a gift that I need practically everyday but that I often forget to

I don't know about you, but I can often allow the chaos and confusion of this world to overwhelm me and stress me out.  I allow the things that are happening to me and around me to become the focus and take my eyes off the One who has promised to take care of me.

Jesus knew that the disciples' world was about to be turned upside down-all that they believed was about to be challenged for each and every one of them.  So, He gave them a gift that they would need.  He gave them a gift that would help keep them steady no matter what life brings.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)  

Peace is a gift that God gives to us.  We can have peace in the middle of a troubled world because of Him.  So, today when life becomes hectic and crazy and uncertain, I want to remember that I have a gift from the one who gave his all for me.  My prayer is that you will remember the gift for your life as well.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Do You Love More...

As the end was near Jesus did and said many things.  Some of those things caused people to turn away from Him in unbelief.  Yet, there were others who did believe.  But they kept it to themselves because they were afraid.

They were afraid of what others would say, they were afraid they would be cast out of the synagogue and afraid they would lose their standing in the religious community.  They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” (John 12:42–43)  

This sounds like us sometimes doesn't it.  Our fear can get in the way of us declaring our faith.  We can love what others say about us more than what God says about us.  A big question for me and for you today is this:  What do we love more?  The praise of men or the praise of God...

As we come into Easter will we allow our fear to keep us from reaching out to those we love who need Jesus or will we love them and God more?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sometimes we ignore the truth in front of us...

I find it hard to believe that the religious leaders and even the disciples missed the truth that Jesus taught.  How could they not catch on to the things that were happening to Him, especially after what he said would happen did in fact happen.

At the beginning of his last week, he has dinner with Lazarus-the man he raised from the dead.  He is anointed with perfume and tells them that this foretells his death.  He will not be with them much longer.  He then tells them that he would be lifted up to die.

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” (John 12:32–33)

How could they not get it?  When he is arrested and put on that cross, why could they not see it?  How could they ignore the truth right in front of them?

This is what I often think abut them, but then I look a my life and realize that I do the same.  I can get caught up in the moments of my life and miss out on the things that He is doing.  Something happens that I'm not expecting and I can act like He is not there and does not exist.  I forget the things that He has done for me and for others and live as if He can't be trusted.

Sometimes I ignore the truth that is right in front of me.  Today I want to stay awake and alert and remember what He has done and trust what He is doing.  He has demonstrated over and over that He is trustworthy.  What do you think?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He Opened Their Minds

The disciples were still confused about Jesus and who He was.  Was He dead or was He alive?  Had someone moved His Body?  What really happened?  After the encounter on the Road to Emmaus they still could not figure it out.

Jesus, then, showed up where they were.  This confused them even more.  Was he a ghost? Were they hallucinating? He asks for some food and he eats it in front of them.  This helps some but it still did not clear things up for them.

Here's what finally cleared things up:

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses,Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44–47)   

Jesus "opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures".  Once this was done, they got it and they were changed. There are some things about God we can figure out and make some sense of but we will never understand the deeper spiritual realities until He opens our minds so that we might see them.

Today as you read the Scriptures, as you pray and as you live your life ask God to open your mind to understand the Word and the deeper truths that are all around us.  Ask Him to give you hears to hear and eyes to see.  I know that I am.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Slow to believe...

On some level, it surprises me that none of Jesus' disciples were waiting outside the tomb where he was buried on the 3rd day.  He had told them that he would be arrested, that he would suffer and die and he did.  He had told them that  would all desert him and that Peter would deny him and it all happened just as he had said.  You would think they would have remembered his words about rising from the dead on third day.  But they did not.

But then, I am not surprised.  Because I am like they were.  I am quick to forget and slow to believe when things get messed up in my world.  Their lives were turned upside down in just a few hours and though thing happened as Jesus told them-it took them awhile to get it.

He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Then they remembered that he had said this.” (Luke 24:6–8)

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25–27)  

I am glad that our Stavior deals patiently with them and with  me when I forget and am slow to believe.  Maybe today, maybe this week I will not be so slow to believe.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Silence.  Silence is something that we often have no idea how to handle.  We don't like it when we want answers and the person is silent.  We find it hard to be silent when we are pushed even when we know that we were in the wrong.  BUT we will never be silent when we know we are unjustly accused-we speak up-we want to be heard-we know what are rights are and we demand to have our say.

This is why I'm always surprised by Jesus' Silence when accused-wrongly accused by those in power-by those who are supposed to represent God and actually should be accused.  Instead Jesus closes his mouth even when it means that he will suffer unjustly.

Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle. He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer. Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law stood there shouting their accusations.” (Luke 23:8–10)  

Isaiah tells us this about the Messiah:

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

I once heard someone say that Jesus was silent because he was taking up our sins and SIN HAS NO EXCUSE.  

Maybe silence is something that I need more of in my life as I think about the Silence of My Savior on my behalf.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

God's More is Not Our More

Once again, Jesus makes it clear that God's standards are not our standards.  We look at the big things and are impressed.  We like big houses, big cars, big salaries ad, as a pastor, I like big numbers.  God looks beyond the size of anything and looks to the heart of the matter.

While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”(Luke 21:1–4)  

I expect I would have been impressed by the size and the amount of the gifts the rich people were giving and perhaps even grateful for the small gift given by the poor widow.  But Jesus saw it differently.  He saw their gift as being small and hers as being MORE.  Why???  She gave everything she had-meaning she gave trusting God to take care of her and her needs because she had no surplus at home.  The rich gave a tiny portion out of their surplus-meaning that they knew they would be okay because they still had more at home.  

It was not the gift that impressed Jesus-her gift we just an indication of her trust in God to take care of her.  Her gift was more because her trust was more.  As God looks at my life today what does he see?  Does he see me living life by by giving of myself just a little of myself or will I live life today giving everything that I have?  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jesus Astounds His Enemies and ME

As the end drew near for Jesus, his enemies were hard at work trying to get him to mess us by what He said.  Luke 20 tells us:  They questioned where he got his authority and he refused to answer because they would not answer a basic question the he asked.

They questioned him on taxes-hoping he would he make some mistake with his answer but he astounded them by saying we are to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to him. Once more, he was smarter than they ere.

Finally, they tried to trap him with the issue of marriage and death.  He made it clear that marriage was only for this life and not the next.   And he also made it clear that this life is not the end for those who know God.  Once again they were astounded by his answer.

Jesus was smarter than all of his enemies.  They wanted him to make some mistake so that they could kill him.  He was not trapped by anything that he said.  Instead, He willingly took the cross for us-not because he had to, but simply because he chose to.   I don"t know about you, but that astounds me even more than his ability to outsmart His enemies!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Totally Alone

I spoke with a person recently who is plagued with loneliness.  She has people all around her- a great family and works with several different individuals. but still feels alone.  Can you relate?

Loneliness is on the rise in America today.  We are surrounded by people everywhere, but more and more people are saying the are more lonely than ever.  I'm not talking about a general  feeling of being alone but a deep sense within your own heart that you are alone-that no understands or can relate.  It's that sense that there is something so wrong with you that no one wants to know you and you do really want them too.  You are afraid that if they really knew you they would not like you anyway.

But there is some great news for me and you about all of this.  Jesus, himself, can relate to us in ways that we never dreamed possible.  He experienced a deep loneliness, a separation from the Father, he was forsaken and abandoned while hanging on the cross.

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus was TOTALLY ALONE on the cross.  He was taking the sine of the world upon himself and being judged for all of the wrongs that we have done.  But there was more that was happening to him.  He was not only suffering FOR US He was suffering WITH US.  

He understand because He has been there.  The God of the universe stepped into this world in the person of Jesus Christ.  He suffered on the cross as my substitute but also so that He could identify with us in our pain.  You can come to him today with your pain and your loneliness and know that He understands and He can help.  

“I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain how could one worship a God who was immune to it.” John Stott  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

No Excuses

Silence was what Pilate got when he asked Jesus to explain who he was and why he was being condemned by his own people.  Silence-no explanations.  Silence-no whining or attempts at self preservation.  Silence-even when Pilate knew that he had done nothing wrong-even when he knew that the religious leaders had other motives for demanding that Jesus be executed.

Pilate and others around him were amazed that Jesus was silent as he was being tried and eventually convicted.  No prisoner ever remains silent.  They always plead their case and try to get out of it.  Not Jesus.  He says nothing in his own defense  He just listens.

But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.” (Matthew 27:12–14)  

Why?  Why would he remain quiet?  Why, when he had done nothing wrong?  Why when he knew the real motives of those responsible?  Why?  Because Jesus was there, not for his sin, but for ours.  Why, because he knew there was no other way for our salvation.  Why, because he knew that sin has no excuse.  

Your sin and my sin has no excuse.  Think about that-we all come up with excuses.  I can be the kings of excuses.  He made me-she started it.  It was their fault.  I would have never if they had not...  It's been a rough day, week, month, year or life.  If only this had not happened, then...

But today, I'm reminded that Jesus' silence had nothing to do with him-it had everything to do with me and my sin.  I have no excuse!!!  I have nothing to bring to a Holy God.  All I have is the one who  kept silent and took my place.  I am grateful that he had no excuses to make.  His silence was not weakness but unimaginable strength and love.  

Today, because of Jesus, I have no excuse,  but u have HOPE.   How about you?  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Are You Listening to the Words Coming out of Your Mouth?...

I don't know about you but I often find myself saying things and making promises that I just don't keep.  It's not that I intentionally lie when I say them.  I really do intend to keep those word and follow through on what I say.

There are lots of reasons that I give for not doing them such as: "I forgot or it slipped my mind".  But the truth is that I often make promises without thinking things through.  I speak quickly because I want to impress someone and have them think I am better than I really am.  I let my pride get in the way of my words and make promises that I just can't keep.

That's what Peter did.  He made Jesus a promise that he never thought through.  He meant it when he said it-he intended to do it.  But when it came down to it, he could not and he did not.  He made a promise that he did not keep.  He allowed his pride to get in the way.

Peter protested, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you.” All the others said the same thing.” (Matthew 26:35)

He remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried.” (Matthew 26:75)  

I do the same. I speak too quickly and often make promises I don't keep ad disappoint and hurt people.   Today, I want to be careful and listen to the words that are coming out of my mouth.  I want to under promise and over deliver.  How about you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

You Never Know

We're in the middle of Project 20/40.  As a Church we are doing 20 service projects in the next 40 days leading up to Easter serving both inside and outside the wall of the Body here.

The truth is that every day we all have several opportunities to serve people and make a real difference.  It does not have to be some big project-it can be some small thing you say that can make a huge difference.  I was reminded of this last week.

Last week I was standing in line at place to get some food.  I could not help but overhear the words of a customer to the person working behind the counter.  He was ride, crude and totally out of line.  I really felt for the person who had to wait on him.

When I finally got to the front of the line, I looked to person behind the counter in the eye and said, I'm sorry that you had to listen to all of those things that were said to you.  No one deserves to be treated that way. She looked up and had the biggest smile and said, you've just made my day. Finally, I got it right and walked away thinking that I need to be much more awake and alert to the needs of the people that I see-even when it is a short encounter because you never know.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

What can you do today for the least of these?  Let me hear your story.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Sometimes we forget that there is more happening than what meets the eye. As we are reading through the gospels heading into Easter, we are becoming aware that there is more going on than what we can see. There are unseen forces at work all around us reminding us that there is more to this world than what we can see.

The disciples wanted to know more about when the end would come. Much like us they wanted a time table with everything laid out. Jesus did not give them that. Instead he told them to watch out-to pay attention-to be prepared-to remain faithful. We need to know to know that God is always at work and the enemy is as well.

 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42–44)

I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to wrap my mind around this truth and to take the time to stop and just think about it during my day.  Today, I'm going to try to take some to do that-especially when things get tough.   Do you ever stop to think about the unseen things happening around us? I'd love to hear from you on this.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Inside Out

We live in a world that spends a lot of time trying to make our outward appearance look good.  We always want to look our best.  This has always been a big challenge for everyone-especially those who want to honor God and impress God's people.

Anyone can make themselves look good just by focusing on the outward appearance.  We can look the part and not really be the part.  Outside everything looks good to others but inside is a different story.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:25–26)

Jesus taught that real change is from the Inside Out.  We are to deal with the things that are going on inside of us-like our attitudes, our emotions, our motives, etc.  We are to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal us to us and allow Him to change us on the inside.  When we change on the inside-then our outward appearance will change as well.   Today remember: INSIDE OUT. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Will You Add Your Voice?

On the last week of Jesus' life, crowds gathered to watch Him as He came into Jerusalem. as The atmosphere was electric  and the people were excited.  As he road into the city seated on a donkey there everyone erupted in a chorus of praise as if there were some conductor who gave them their cue.

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”” (Matthew 21:9)

Even the children added their voice to the mix.  And the religious people were not happy-not happy at all.  But it did not matter.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”” (Matthew 21:15–16)

God calls forth praise-even from the children.  Will you add your voice to the mix?  How will your voice be heard today? 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How's Your Confidence Level?

Ever feel like you just need some help?  Do you ever wonder how you can deal with all of the issues that come up in your life?  Sometimes you just need more than you have on your own.

There are days when I just feel like I'm not going to make it or that I just can't accomplish what needs to be done or I just can't get beyond some issue in my life.  Those are the days when my confidence level hits bottom and I can feel like a failure and feel like I'm on my own.  But then, I realize, that I don't have to feel that way.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15–16)

I have a Savior who empathizes with my weaknesses, and I have many.  I am promised that I can come to him with great confidence and know that I can receive mercy and find help in my time of need.   All of that means I can have great confidence that I will receive what I need when I call on Him.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A New Way is Opened Up

The curtain had always been in place.  It separate the Holy of Holies from the rest of the people.  Only the high priest could go behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies and only once a year on the day of Atonement.  It was called the Holy of Holies because the presence of God was there and everyone was separated from it so that no sinful person would be destroyed by going into it.

But something new and different happened as Jesus hung on the cross and died.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:37–38)

The curtain was torn in two from top to bottom to let us know that God was doing something new.  He was letting us know that the old sacrificial system was no longer in place and no longer needed.  Jesus' death now made it possible for everyone everywhere to do directly to God with out having to go through someone else.  We all have direct access to God through His Son who gave his life on our behalf.

A new way has been opened up for me and for you.  So we can now go boldly and directly to God. Today  you and I can approach our Father wherever we are whatever we need because Jesus made it possible.  What do you think about that?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Man Who Missed His Cross

He was convicted of murder for his part in the insurrection.  He was condemned and sentenced to death on the cross.  We have no idea how long he was held in prison before the day his execution.  But we can only imagine that he had time to really think about what was going to happen to him.

He eats what he believes will be his last meal and gets no sleep that night.  The sunrise that he glimpses the next day appears to be the last one he will ever see. It is now Friday morning-the day that he was dreaded-the day that he is going to die.  He is defiant, angry and terrified all at once.

You see, his name is Barabbas, which means son of a rabbi. He grew up studying the Scriptures and being taught about Yahweh-the God of the Jews.  Yet, he rebelled and went his own way, choosing to leave the faith of his fathers and live his own life.  That rebellion has led him to the place he is on this day.  Now, he's certain that this will be his last day and he's afraid of all of the pain and suffering that awaits him.  Pain and suffering that he has earned and deserves.

But there is a large crowd that has gathered not too far away.  All he knows is that the people who have come to Jerusalem for the Passover have now become loud and angry.  He knows it has something to do with this man called Jesus.  Finally, the crowd becomes more agitated and gets louder.  He thinks he hears his name but he's not sure why.

All of a sudden he hears the soldiers coming towards his cell.  He stomach gets all in knots and tears begin to well up in his eyes.  This is the end-their is great pain and suffering that awaits him and then DEATH!!!  The door slowly creaks open and he feels like he will faint-they soldier in charge comes up to him and says, "it is my duty to inform you that you are now a free man-the man they call Jesus will die on the cross that was made for you."

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they shouted. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Mark 15:12–15)

We have no idea what happens to Barabbas after this but we do know that Barabbas is the man who missed his cross. We know that Jesus took the cross that was meant for him.  He also took the cross that was meant for me and for you.  We, too, like Barabbas were condemned to pay for our sins.  Jesus willingly took our place as well.

Think about this: If you were Barabbas, what would you be feeling at this time?  What do you feel about the one who came to give us life by surrendering his?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Asleep or Awake?

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”” (Mark 14:32–34)  

When Jesus went to the garden to pray, he knew that the end was near.  He also knew that he needed help so he asked the disciples closest to him to watch and pray for him.  Instead of watching and praying, they feel asleep-not once or twice but three times.

Each time Jesus came a woke them up and seem astonished that they could not stay awake and pray on his behalf.  They really wanted to stay awake on his behalf but just were not able to do so.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”” (Mark 14:37–38)

All of this makes me wonder how often I have been "asleep" when others needed me.  I have often told people that I would pray for them or do something for them only to walk away and forget.  It's easy to get consumed by what is happening in my life and overlook the needs of others around me.  

How about you?  Are you awake or asleep?  Is there anyone in your life who needs you today?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Religion or Relationship???

One of the most eye opening things that Jesus did was to spend time with people that others did all that they could to avoid.  In fact, Jesus developed a very poor reputation among the religious elite because he did this.

It seems that religious people have always had a hard time being around those they considered less important and certainly those who were less religious.  Oftentimes religious people seem to think that their mission in life is to point out the evil in others. Religion can get in the way of what God is doing!

Jesus did not do this.  Instead, he went out of his way to be with these people to let them know that in spite of all that they had heard or been taught, they mattered deeply to God.  He wanted them to know that God loved them and that his grace and mercy was available to them.  Relationship is what matters.

Just a couple of days before Jesus was arrested, check out where he was spending time:

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.” (Mark 14:3)

Jesus was spending time in the home of a leper.  No self-respecting religious person would do that.  But Jesus was not about religion-he was about relationship.  He came that we might have a relationship with God-not religion.

What about you?  Are you into religion or relationship?  What kind of people do you spend time with?  How would God want to us you in the lives of those others try to avoid?  Are there any relationships you need to pursue?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Keep Watch and Be Prepared!

Jesus' disciples wanted to know when the end would come-they wanted to know when the things he had taught related to the last days would be fulfilled.

It seems to me that people have always wanted to know when these things would happen and when the end would come. There is always someone out there who has "figured it out" and sets a time and date for when the end would come and Jesus would return. People get all excited and upset-sometimes they even sell everything they have and give it to the one who has made the prediction.

This has always puzzled me because Jesus said that no one knows the date or time-not even him. But here is what Jesus did tell us about the last days:

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”” (Mark 13:35–37)

It seems to me that we are to live each day as if this could be the day. We are to live out what we know to be true because Jesus could come at any moment. So, today I want to keep watch and be prepared. I want to live this day as if it could be my last day. I want to love God and love people and share the hope that I have in Him.

I believe that we should keep watch and be prepared. What do you think? Let me hear from you.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Not One But Two

When Jesus was asked to name the most important command of all, He did not give one. Instead He gave two.

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”” (Mark 12:29–31)

It seems to me that Jesus is saying that the way that we demonstrate our love for God is to love people as well. I don't think that we can say we love God if we don't truly love people-ALL people. What do you think? Can you love God and not love your neighbor as yourself? Maybe God has that difficult person in your life to help teach you how to love Him.

Today as you go about your life LOVE GOD and LOVE PEOPLE!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Give God His Place

The religious leaders were doing all that they could to try to get Jesus to make some big mistake that they could use to condemn him. They sent there brightest and best to trip him up in front of the people.

Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?” Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them.” (Mark 12:13–17)

They used flattery to try to distract him by saying: “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. "

But Jesus knew their motives and tactics and turned it back on them. He used this moment to make it clear that we are to give God what is rightfully His. They were amazed at his response. "Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them.

So are you holding back on giving God the first place in your life? Are you making him the center of all that you do? Today, where does that need to take place in your life?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jesus Cleans Up!!!

Today begins our Easter Reading Schedule: We are taking the next 43 days to read through the Easter Story in the Scriptures and allow God to work in us and through us.

Mark 11:15-17: On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He oer turned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written; My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." But you have made it a den of robbers.

Jesus made it clear that the temple was there for all people from all nations. It was to be a place where people could come and meet God regardless of who they were or where they came from. The religious leaders were taking advantage of those hwo came and making huge profits as a result.

Today, I am asking myself this question: What does God want to clean up in my life so that it I make it easier for others to get to know him? The thing that comes to my mind is that I need to be much more aware of the people that I come into contct with. I am prone to have my agenda and overlook opportunities just to connect with others and show an interest in them. Today, I am looking for ways God would want me to make a difference for them.

What about you, is there anything God would want to clean up in your life so that others could get to know him?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good Friends...

I have been out of commission over the last several days due to the flu bug. During that time, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the value of having so many good friends in my life.

I have had many, many people praying for me and many who have contacted me. There have been others who have stepped in to help take over some things that I was responsible for-one who stepped in to speak on Sunday, one who stepped in to lead our small group, assist others in ministry etc, etc, etc...

I have also watched others step in to be a good friend to those in need. Visiting the sick in the hospital, preparing meals for those in need, giving food away, and even providing financial help.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. (Proverbs 17:17)

We all need good friends, we all need to be a good friend. Is there someone who needs you to reach out to them? Is there someone you just need to say thank you to?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finding Joy in Humility

We usually don't associate joy and humility. Humility is one of those words that has some very negative connotations for us. We think of it as putting ourselves down, allowing others to take advantage of us or simply believing that we should be treated poorly. We would rather be treated as if we are more important than others and often believe that this is what will bring us joy and happiness. Yet the Paul tells us this:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.(Phil. 2:5–8)

Paul makes it clear that humility is to characterize Christ-followers. In fact, Paul would tell us that we can and will find joy when we choose humility. We are to follow Christ's example and have the same attitude that He had and be willing to serve others as he did.

What do you think about when you hear the word humility? Can you find joy in humility? Whom can you serve today and treat as being better than you?