Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Thursday, November 22, 2012


All thanksgiving and gratitude should begin with our Heavenly Father, our Creator. For all that exists, only exists because He created it. All that we have, we have for the time He has granted it. Even offer thanksgiving and gratitude in times of loss. For to have remorse over a loss is to acknowledge what we once had; it is in our thanks to God that we acknowledge it was never ours to possess. May God guide you, bless you, and keep you on this Thanksgiving Day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tithe Defined

As I sit down to write on yet another subject that deals with our relationship and obedience to our Heavenly Father; I have to admit, yet again, to myself that I am ashamed. Ashamed of some of the beliefs and some of the philosophies that I have held so dearly to; beliefs that are simply not true. I want to take a moment to clarify for you what your Heavenly Father is asking of you in a tithe, clarify the difference of what a gift is, and address some of the ways we use logic or excuses to justify why we do not do as we have been asked.

 I would like to start with understanding where the word comes from and why it also comes with such a bitter taste in your mouth on saying it. The word “tithe” comes from the Old English word teogothian which means literally “tenth”. A tithe was paid to the church. Across Europe and from as early as the 6th century to as late as the early 20th century; a tithe was a state mandated tax that was paid to the church and came with severe penalties if not paid.

As an added incentive, under the condemnation of the early church, it was widely taught that refusing to pay your tithe would result in being cast into Hell as your punishment from God. Just writing this is causing me to get a little angry about paying a tithe.

 The first mention of anything resembling a tithe in the bible is in Genesis chapter 4; Cain and Able presenting an offering before the Lord. There has been much debate for centuries on why Abel’s offering was acceptable and Cain’s was not. For me, it is simply an issue of the heart behind the offering that is in question. We fast forward to Noah, upon getting off the ark, makes an offering to the Lord. Moving forward again; Abraham is asked to present Isaac as an offering to God. Offerings are a regular part of honoring God.

 So what’s an “offering”? Merriam-Webster defines as; “something offered; especially: a sacrifice ceremonially offered as a part of worship”. adds; “to present something as an act of worship or devotion; sacrifice”.

             “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD's; it is holy to the LORD. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the LORD. One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” (Leviticus 27:30-33 ESV)

 So an offering is to present something as an act of worship, devotion or sacrifice; a tithe is a specified offering…the first 10 percent. Where do we get the idea of the first 10 percent?

            “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. (Deuteronomy 26:1-2 ESV)

            “And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.” (Deuteronomy 26:10-11 ESV)

 When Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, he not only set on rebuilding the wall, but was set on getting the people right with God by following all His commandments. Among these, he echoed the words of Moses in regards to tithes and offerings:

            We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor. (Nehemiah 10:35-37 ESV)

 So let me see if I can put this in perspective for you.
You have nothing, you own nothing, and you can buy nothing. But a land owner comes to you and offers you a plot of fertile soil. There is no charge for the land. All he asks is that you work the land and the harvest is yours. Of that harvest, he asks that you honor his gift with returning to him 10% of what you harvest, a tithe.

 Now if you are truly grateful, you will give the first and the best 10% to show your gratitude for all that you have been given. You would not give the left over or the rotten. If you were truly grateful, you would give the best 10%...the first fruits of your labor.

 Now because we are human, we are sinful and we are selfish; we have short memories. So soon we stop honoring our benefactor. Soon we make excuses.

 Soon we may see someone in need and give to them a portion of our harvest. We say to ourselves; “I am giving 10%, I just gave it to someone else. That’s my tithe.” But the land owner will say to you; “That was a noble thing to offer a gift to someone in need, but that is not what I asked of you. I asked that you honor my gift to you by returning to me 10% of your yield.”

 The land owner may even leave someone else in charge of his estate. And that person may abuse his position and treat the land owner’s property poorly. He may misuse his authority and all he has been entrusted. So we use the excuse that we are not going to give our tithe to be misused and refuse to give it. Or even send our tithe off to somewhere else. But the land owner will say; “I will deal with those who misuse what I have entrusted to them, but that does not justify you not honoring what I have asked of you.”

 We will say to ourselves that we cannot afford to give the 10% of harvest as asked. So we justify our actions by saying; “I will work in the land owner’s field, which will be my tithe.” But the land owner will reply to us by saying; “I appreciate your effort in working in my fields and appreciate the gift of your time, but that is not what I asked for. I hope that you are working my fields out of appreciation of all I have given you. But that does not replace that which I have asked…your tithe.”

            “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.            Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:6-12 ESV)

 WHAT WAS THAT! What God is saying is; you don’t honor my commandments, don’t wonder why you are struggling. You want to be blessed, start by honoring my commandments.

 I do not write this to convict you, for that is the job of the Holy Spirit. I do not write this to condemn you, for that is the job of the devil. All I wish to do is to share that which God has placed on my heart. If this is a subject that has been on your heart, I leave you with these verses for study and words for reflection.

 May God guide you, bless you and keep you; may the Holy Spirit fill you and strengthen you; and may you always strive to grow in your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Leadership Defined

I can’t say enough about how God speaks to us through our spiritual conversations with others. It has been an invaluable blessing to me that as I seek out spiritual conversations; I find that the Holy Spirit is seeking to speak to me. It was during one of those recent conversations that a statement pierced me like a fine pointed lance; very small point but sank very deep.

I was involved in a conversation about men being spiritual leaders and the statement was made that man’s first sin was when Eve bit the apple. Without missing a beat I responded that man’s first sin was when Adam bit the apple. The counter argument was that if Adam had been sufficiently leading Eve, she would not have bitten the apple. Seems simple enough; after all, this was just a few sentences out of a nearly 3 hour conversation. But as I grow in my relationship with the Holy Spirit and my Heavenly Father; I find they are as tenacious as a dog with a bone. They get their teeth in me…and they ain’t lettin’ go! What I am saying is; they are not allowing me to let it go.

I have been in study and prayer over relationships and marriage for quite some time. This is not a new focal point to my meditation. Getting God to the center of my marriage has been a priority; and seeking to be a Godly man and a Godly husband has been a growing and evolving process. In this process I am discovering that I…that the world, does not define leadership the way God defines leadership. The world does not define the leadership role of a husband the way the bible defines that said role.

I find that a good place to start is; “In the beginning…” I examined Genesis chapters two and three; the creation of man and woman, and the fall. Knowing that God is a God of order, I paid special attention to the order that He created things. First, man was created before the garden. Then the garden in Eden was created and man was placed there with the commandment; “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

It was later that God realized that man needed a companion, a partner if you will. “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22) Stay with me, this is important.

Now when the serpent came to tempt the woman and questioned what God had said about eating from the tree of good and evil; Eve responded not by saying Adam said, but; “God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” She was quoting God’s instructions to her. Eve had received the law from God and therefor was accountable to God for that law.

Now fast forward to after God had discovered what they had done and was issuing his punishment for the transgression of the law. God was addressing Adam and said; “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you…” (Genesis 3:17) This was followed up with the expulsion from the garden.  

            Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24 ESV)

 Adam’s leadership was to simply stand firm on the word; stand firm on the law of God. Whether you believe Eve brought the apple to Adam or that they were standing there at the tree together. Adam’s decision was his own, his actions were his own. So you’re asking where I am going with this.

I want to jump ahead to what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth concerning principles for marriage:
            To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
            To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:10-16 ESV)

Some of you are getting where I am going. All I am trying to say here; is what I think Paul is trying to say is to live righteously, love righteously…lead righteously! If your spouse is a non-believer; that through your relationship with Jesus Christ as you are made righteous, and your bond with your spouse is a Holy bond; that through you, your spouse is also made righteous in Christ. Not through control, not through manipulation, not through your power, influence or position over them; but through your love for Christ and your love for yourself.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 ESV)

LOVE YOURSELF…LOVE YOUR OWN FLESH! You cannot say that you love yourself and hate your spouse because your Heavenly Father does not see a difference. You are one.

If you have read this so far and are still with me; please allow me to cement this concept for you. So far I have talked about how leadership is about love and standing on the Words of Jesus Christ and the Bible. Let me finish with this; Jesus Christ came to Earth to be the ultimate example to us. He showed us how to live, he showed us how to love and he showed us how to lead.
            Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
            When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (John 13:1-20 ESV)

Enough said; if you want to truly lead…you must serve!
You must love; not only your Heavenly Father, but yourself…and that includes your spouse.
You must stand firm in obedience to God’s laws and seek his righteousness regardless of what the world or your spouse says or does.
And you must serve. Not seeking position, but submission. Not seeking title but humility. Not seeking to control, manipulate, dominate, guide, push, pull or otherwise direct; but to serve.

That is how your Heavenly Father, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit defines leadership.
We were created to serve our Heavenly Father, and in that, we are to serve all of His children.
Jesus when instructing his disciples told them;
            And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:33-35; ESV)

 May God; through the Holy Spirit humble your heart, open your eyes and direct your spirit to a better understanding of what He wants from you to be a better leader in your home, your neighborhood, in your job and in your church. It is through Jesus Christ that we are able to humbly request and humbly serve. -Amen

Monday, October 8, 2012

Who am I

Only my Heavenly Father can define me,
this world can only confine me;
I look to He that designed me,
For in that my sin's are behind me!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Where's your water?

Where’s your water?
            On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.(John 7:37-39 ESV)

            There was a man who one day realized he had a passion for fighting fires. He set out to equip himself to accomplish his goal and satisfy his passion to fight fires. The day came when there was a house on fire and he went into action.
            He had his hat, he had his coat, and he had his suspenders, his pants, and his boots. He had his mask and he had his oxygen tank. He had his axe. He ran into the burning home and quickly realized; “Man…it’s hot in here!” The longer he stayed in the home; the hotter it got. Finally; he could no longer stand the heat and he went running out of the house.
            Overheated, exhausted and frustrated; he stood there bent over in defeat and wondering what went wrong. Soon a pair of boots appears in his vision. He slowly stands up to see who it is that is just standing there. It took but a moment before he realized it was the captain of the fire department; a puzzled look across his face as he asks; “Where’s your water?”

             There is no one that can question the noble efforts of this man as he attempted to follow his passion. But everyone can just as easily identify the flaws in his attempt to satisfy that passion. Most of us can also easily identify the danger of his actions.
           Please follow me on a short journey of exploration of the gap between this man’s passion, his ability for success, and how it relates to our passion to serve Christ.


             I believe, and I want you to understand that this belief is being re-enforced daily; that our first, foundational, fundamental purpose of creation is to be in relationship with our Heavenly Father. I believe that I was created because God, my Heavenly Father, wants to be in a relationship with ME. So much so that through His sacrifice, which was the sacrifice of His Son, that I would have an opportunity to spend an eternity in that relationship with HIM!

         Jesus taught us; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)

             We all have gotten to a point in our lives where we recognize our need for our Heavenly Father and get to a place of submission to His authority and we make a decision to follow Jesus Christ. With that comes either a desire to serve him; or a message on Sunday morning that tells us we need to be serving him. So we gather up our bible, we put on our Sunday best, we clean up our language and our behavior and as if interviewing for a job; we show up and announce we want to serve.

We want to fight fires, but we have not taken the time to get connected to the water and its source.

             The biggest part of this journey between passion and performance is the realization of who I am and who the Holy Spirit is. Let me just take a moment to tell you who I am without the Holy Spirit in me: I am selfish. I am needy. I am sinful. I am angry and I am hateful. It is not in me to love you (heck…it’s not in me to love me!) It is not in me to care for you or even about you. I am broken. I am fallen. I am tired. I am afraid.
           Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
            Now let me tell you about the Holy Spirit who resides in me and flows through me: I am love. I am compassion. I am joy. I am fearless, I am endless and tireless. I am He who resides in me. I am Christ.
            But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24 ESV)

             Can the two exist separately? What did Jesus say?
           “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
            “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:1-12 ESV)  

             This is really easy for me to put onto paper for you. Heck; most of it is just cut, copy and paste! But I want to you understand; and Paul understood that this is NOT easy! The point of this is to remind you that none of this is easy; and I say this, having a relationship with Christ, acknowledging that all of this would be impossible without the Holy Spirit.

            Paul writes:
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
            So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25 ESV)

            Paul continues:           
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

Paul further encourages us:
            Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV)

             Let there be no misunderstanding. There is a spiritual battle taking place. The devil is Hell bent on separating us from our Creator, our Provider…our Father. If you are attempting life, let alone serving at your church, without being connected to the water and its source; the devil is turning up the heat around you as we speak. It is only a matter of time before it gets too hot to handle and you will go running for the door!
           Do not be angry or discouraged about this message. The struggle will never stop in this life, but be encouraged that when connected to the source, that in relationship with your Heavenly Father and when you have the Holy Spirit flowing in you and through you; the only thing you have to do to fight fires…is hold the hose. Then it’s just; stand there and watch God work!

Thoughts of Reflection and Encouragement
            O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
                                Be our arm every morning,
                                our salvation in the time of trouble. (Isaiah 33:2 ESV)

                The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
                                a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9 ESV)

                 For he will hide me in his shelter
                               in the day of trouble;
                he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
                                he will lift me high upon a rock.(Psalm 27:5 ESV)

                Therefore let everyone who is godly
                                offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
                surely in the rush of great waters,
                                they shall not reach him.
                You are a hiding place for me;
                                you preserve me from trouble;
                                you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah (Psalm 32:6-7 ESV)
                The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
                                he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
                The LORD helps them and delivers them;
                                he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
                                because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40 ESV)
                Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
                                all day long an attacker oppresses me;
                my enemies trample on me all day long,
                                for many attack me proudly.
                When I am afraid,
                                I put my trust in you.
                In God, whose word I praise,
                                in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
                                What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:1-4 ESV)
                He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
                                will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
                I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
                                my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2 ESV)
                Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
                                you preserve my life;
                you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
                                and your right hand delivers me.
                The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
                                your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
                                Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:7-8 ESV)

Fire Department

             I love my analogy so far. Man…when god gives me an idea, the great thing is that it’s always just the tip of the ice berg. Then I just wait and see as he slowly reveals what He has to say to me. And, if I were to be perfectly honest…most times, it never stops!

            So anyway; have you ever seen just one man…standing alone…fighting fires?

            You have probably gotten where I am going with this already; but I’m going to elaborate anyway for the many out there (like myself) that need a message delivered on a 32 ounce Louisville. (That’s a baseball bat for those of you from outside the United States.)
            We were not created to do this alone. From the moments of creation; God noted that we were not to be a one man show and He recognized our need for companionship, help and support.
            Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18 ESV)
            The first “church” was launched as a result of the gifting of the Holy Spirit to a family or community of believers.
           And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
            This does not paint a picture of an individual effort, but of a community of people who are drawn together by a unified spirit…by a Holy Spirit.
            We have already discussed not only the spiritual battle we are in, but the battle between our own flesh and our own spirit. Your Heavenly Father does not intend, nor does he desire for you to engage in this battle on your own! Let me give you one more point of interest in this ongoing battle; one of the devil’s greatest tool is isolation! Have you ever noticed (if you’re willing to admit it) that whenever you are in a physical, an emotional or a spiritual struggle…your first reaction or instinct is to want to be alone! Why? Because if the devil can isolate you from any support…he can really begin to turn up the heat on your self-doubt, your self-image, and eventually your faith!
            How long does it take to boil a cup of water…a gallon of water…a swimming pool? There is safety in numbers. There is support, love, encouragement, understanding, and re-enforcements when the battle draws out.
            Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. (Exodus 17:8-13 ESV)
            This story is a part of the Exodus story for one reason, and one reason only. Exodus illustrates that Moses could NOT operate without God’s direction; and Moses could NOT maintain his obedience without the help and support of those around him. After God had given clear instruction to Moses and fully equipped him; He sent Aaron to Moses to walk with him during the confrontation of the Israelite elders and the Pharaoh of Egypt.

I don’t know how to make this any more clear. Life is a team effort; no athlete ever won a championship…teams win championships. Even athletes, who compete in individual sports such as track and field, will all admit the team of coaches and trainers that got them to where they are.

When you come to a submission to Jesus Christ; He will begin to put passions on your heart. These passions are not the goal, they are the direction. Remember, you have to first establish your relationship with your Heavenly Father as made available through Jesus Christ and supported by the Holy Spirit; so that you can align your passions with the will of your Father. You must second; get yourself into a support group. Not like AA (although that might be an important step for you), but a group of fellow Christ followers who can support you, guide you and hold you up when needed. You are also there to be the support that others are so desperately in need of. It is only after these two steps that you are truly connected to the water source and are ready to follow your passions as directed by the Holy Spirit, not by your own will or effort, but under His!

Battle Lines

             When Jesus called his disciples to him; it was a very simple, yet almost impossible request; “Follow me”. Drop your nets, quit what you’re doing, leave everything and “follow me”.
Jesus didn’t pull any punches in John chapter 6. The crowds gathered to get another free meal…Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 ESV)
Those that didn’t like what Jesus had to say…After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:66 ESV)

             “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16 ESV)

Fruit of the         Works of the
Spirit                    Flesh
Love of others             Love of self
Joy                               Sorrow
Peace                          Enmity / Strife / Jealousy / Dissension / Fear
Patience                      Fits of Anger / Demanding
Kindness                      Rivalries / Demeaning / Degrading / Self-Righteous
Goodness                     Impurity / Sorcery / Envy / Agenda
Faithfulness                 Idolatry / Division / Tired / Self-Promotion
Gentleness                  Destruction / Honesty without Love / Unbridled Tongue
Self-Control                 Sexual Immorality / Sensuality / Drunkenness / Orgies
Above I have listed two categories. I have elaborated a little bit more on some of the attributes of the flesh as listed in Galatians Chapter 5. The above categories of Spirit versus Flesh can and should be applied to every aspect of our lives. But I’m going to ask just a few short questions that apply to you serving in a church specifically and I ask you to take some time to meditate on your answers.
1.      When confronted with the people that make up the Body of Christ that quite honestly you don’t like; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind?     Is it Love?
2.      When the alarm clock goes off on Sunday morning; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind and your heart?                                                     Is it Joy?
3.      When your area of service is making changes and your uncertain why; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind and your heart?                             Is it peace?
4.      When confronted with change in your area of service; what is the first emotion that crosses your mind and your heart?                                                     Is it patience?
5.      How do those around you describe your reaction to difficult or challenging people or situations?                                                                         Is it kindness or goodness?
6.      When the storms of life rock the waves of trouble in our lives; how would those around us describe our reaction in the storm?                        Is it faithfulness or gentleness?
7.      Examine your life. Is your daily walk in your relationship; as a branch of the vine of Jesus Christ; yielding the fruit of the spirit of self-control? Or are you a withering branch of self!
Prayer for Spiritual Strength
           For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
            Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Waiting on God

There have been several discussions among the various groups of Christians that I love to spend time with on the subject of “waiting on the Lord”. Just yesterday I spent approximately 6 hours of my day, in a couple of different conversations, on our Heavenly Father and the concept of what it is to wait on God. From these conversations has sprung a picture in my mind that I would like to share. Let me tell a story.

There was a man walking through the forest with his three year old son. Because the forest was thick and the terrain uncertain; the father insisted on holding his son’s hand.
Now as they walked along, as you can imagine, the son began to act as children do. The child, full of excitement and curiosity would attempt to run ahead pulling on his father. The father, knowing that allowing the child to run ahead would cause the child great risk, held firm to the child’s hand. The child overcome with selfish desire to explore and run ahead would occasionally wiggle his hand free from his father and start running ahead. The child knowing only of his desire, wanted to leave his father in order to go where he wished.
The father, who knew the forest and knew all the dangers that lie ahead outside of his protection, would quickly scold the child each time he would pull away; and run ahead. The father remained patient with the child; but with each correction came a raised and stern voice. Occasionally, due to the child’s defiance, the father would issue a firm swat to his child’s behind in an effort to discipline his child and help him to understand the value of obedience. The father, remaining patient and never angry, only sought to protect the child from all the dangers of leaving the protection of his father.
The child, angry with the father would not always respond well to being corrected. For though the child did not know all that the father knew; the child still was captivated by his own wants and desires. From time to time, in rebellion, the child would reject the fathers correction and discipline and in an act of defiance would just sit down and refuse to walk with the father. The father, understanding the battle of wills, would walk on until the child would see that there was no benefit in sitting. The child would reluctantly get up and run to catch up with his father.
The father, understanding that the child needed to learn for himself, would allow the child to run ahead occasionally. It was in these times that the child would stumble and hurt himself. Sometimes he would encounter a new animal or sound that would frighten him. Every time he would run ahead, it was not long before he realized he had lost sight of his father, placed himself at risk or even injury, and would go running back to the safety of his father.
By the end of the walk through the forest, the child had learned the valued of walking with his father. He learned the risk of running a head; as well as learning that there was no value in sitting and pouting. He learned the value of walking with his father, waiting on his father and not resisting where his father wanted to take him.

I believe that the phrase of “waiting on the Lord” is meant to tell us as children; just walk with Him. Not running ahead, not lagging behind; but just to walk with Him and in Him.

Heavenly Father; give me the patience to walk with you, the endurance to stay with you and the wisdom to know the difference. I pray in Jesus’ name! -Amen

Monday, July 9, 2012

Buyin' The Lie

            As I sit here, toiling over exactly how I want to start this article; I am just dumbfounded at the world around me. I am dumbfounded at my own life…and the reflection of my life that causes a nauseating ache in my stomach that is sickening and revolting. I ache at where I have been, and somehow at the same time rejoice in where I have come.
            The pain that sits in the pit of my belly is in recognizing that there are so many people that are caught in the same trap that I was. The pain is further intensified by the realization that the consequences of the trap are an eternal separation from the Love of our Heavenly Father!
            The trap that I am referring to is the lie. Some of you that have been in any of my writings previous to this one are getting a sense of where I am going, others are completely lost and asking yourself; “what lie is he talking about?” And I guess I should start by clarifying that it is not just one lie, but an endless stream of lie’s that we embrace and engage as we charge on through life. So I am going to attempt to list some of the trap’s or the “lie’s” that lead us all so far off course.

            Let’s start with talking about the lie of happiness. More specifically the lie of what brings us happiness. It’s the lie that points to all the things of this world that the world tells us will make us happy. It’s the lie that money make you happy. It’s the lie that possessions will make you happy. It’s also the lie that success will bring you happiness.
            What’s so absolutely frustrating, more so than the fact that I had totally sold out to this lie, is the fact of how blatant of a lie it is! It took very little research to find an endless list of successful people who were or had been treated for depression or even had chosen to end their own life. You cannot watch the news or get on any social media without getting updates of “successful” people who are utterly miserable and their lives are in shambles. People who have reached the pinnacle of success, people of have obtained more than they could ever use or even give away; and yet we are never exhausted in the endless hobby of watching them fall. They suffer from anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction; bankruptcy, failed marriages, broken families and broken lives.
Our next grasp at putting our faith into success is in the next up and coming star. The next entrepreneur or businessman, the next young entertainer to break onto the scene; we watch in hopeful anticipation of their success. Are they going to be the one to make it, is their marriage going to survive? We watch and we wait for the one we can look to prove our own struggles and ambitions are not in vein. Like watching NASCAR…we don’t want our driver to crash but we’re hoping someone does. (a little sick)
            We work endless hours, search after endless degrees all to climb the financial ladder. Whatever it takes, we want more. All so that when we have obtained it, we will finally be happy. But we never are. NEVER!

            What about the lie of “me”? It’s the lie of self-sufficiency…the lie of self-reliance. We are human beings. We are beautifully and wonderfully made. We have been created with the ability to reason and with the ability to rationalize and to imagine. We have the ability to create and to adapt, the ability to grow both physically and mentally. We have been created for success. However, it’s that very success that creates arrogance, the arrogance of believing that we are all we need.

            So, none of this may be making any sense to you. First you are running through your mind to come up with a list of successful people that are happy. Second, you’re running through the thoughts of everything you have been told from your childhood; work hard, earning a career, don’t relying on anyone else, or just to be self-reliant. We are taught independence and self-promotion. Please allow me to address these arguments.
            I acknowledge that there people out there who are successful and appear to be happy. I will also argue that most of us attempt to portray an outward attitude that does not accurately reflect what is going on inside. I will also point out that some of those names that you may point to have something else beyond their success and possessions that gives them joy (that just caused someone a headache).
            I want to also address the idea of self-reliance. It is a thought or belief that satisfaction, joy and happiness can be obtained through our own efforts, our own achievements and our own work. That is a great thought and concept short of one flaw. It goes against the way we are built or designed. Let me explain:
            For those who have been convinced by the lie, you have probably stopped reading this and walked away. For those of you who are not sure or curious…I continue.
            You were created. You are not an accidental collision of molecules that through a series of happenstance created a slime that accidently bumped into another slimy collection of accidental molecules and somehow created a third slimy collection of molecules and eventually evolved into a monkey. Who coincidentally found another monkey who had been formed through the same accidental process and the 2 of you created more monkeys that eventually through more happenstance, evolved into humans; yet leaving monkeys who didn’t evolve.
            This is the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not, this is the TRUTH! You were created. Created by God who loves you; loves you so much that His son came to Earth to be ridiculed, tortured and bear the weight of YOUR sin so that through Him, your place in Heaven is secured! You are created…created by God who does not need you, but wants you; wants a relationship with you, wants to love you and wants for you to love Him. In you He has created a desire for relationships. It’s in you, it’s in your DNA, and it’s in your make-up. You have been created for relationship with your Heavenly Father. You have also been created for relationship with each other.
            In Genesis chapters 1-3; God created man and woman in His likeness and said this is good. He provided for them there every need; he commanded them to be in relationship with each other as he told them to “multiply”; and he made it GOOD! After they had disobeyed his laws, he found them as He was strolling through the garden to hang out with them. This is a God that wants to be with us. This is a God who created the Universe and all that is in it; He does not need us, He desires to be with us. He created us to be with Him.
He created us with a desire to be in relationship with each other and with Him. It is when we try to fill that desire with self, with ambitions, with money, with success, with toys and things; with sexual encounters that involve no relationship! We were born to be in relationship. The lie is that we can fill the desire that is in us with anything else but with God in whom we’ve been granted COMPLETE access through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

If you are caught in the lie; I pray with all my heart that you recognize that you cannot achieve true joy or true happiness in anything outside of a relationship with your Heavenly Father. I pray for you right now that you stop where you are and reach out to Jesus Christ who has secured your place in Heaven; cry out for a relationship, reach out to your Father in Heaven and embrace the love that He has for YOU! –YOUR FATHER IS CALLING!