3 Things I Know About God

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

As I read the Scriptures, here are 3 things I know about God:

God wants people to seek Him – From the beginning of time, God has been calling His creation into fellowship with Him. Before a person ever seeks God, God has first sought after that person. (John 6:44, Acts 17:26)

God is easily found – Remember the story of the boy Jesus where His parents misplaced Him for a short time. Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple, learning from the temple leaders. When questioned, Jesus responded, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” God desires that same attitude in our hearts today. I have never known anyone who genuinely searched for God who didn’t find Him, because God is always waiting that we may call on Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. He will never hide from you. (Jeremiah 29:13, Acts 17:27)

God desires to change our lives – God’s design for us is to be righteous. He wants us to have the mind of Christ so that we might receive the full blessings of fellowship with Him. Being perfectly Holy, God cannot accept sin; any sin. He wants to clean us up and mold us into the image of His Son. He wants to turn over the “unplowed ground” and make it fertile enough to bear good fruit. He wants to change us so we may better experience Him and all of His glory. (Romans 8:29, Ephesians 2:10)

What thoughts does this post trigger about what you know about God?

NOTE: If you’re seeking God today, don’t be surprised if you find He’s already been seeking you!

An Encouraging Phone Call

My childhood pastor preached for me recently. He is 93 years old and still preaching almost weekly. He continues to be one of my mentors in ministry today.

He called me the following week…It was one of the most humbling phone calls I ever received.

It went something like this:

Ron, I want you to know I’m proud of you. You had some difficult family situations growing up. You’ve come a long way. You had your own obstacles to overcome. But, you’ve allowed God to use them for His glory. I’m just really proud of the man you are.”

Don’t you think I was encouraged? Of course I was! In fact, it was one of those days I needed the call most. I’m so thankful for the people who have believed in me and invested in my life.

It was also another reminder to use my experience to encourage you:

Don’t let trials hold you back. Let them launch you into who God wants you to be.

All of us need encouraging at times.

Who could you encourage today?

Make the call!

Some of my best work…

Is done when I can’t understand all that I’m doing…

  • When things are messy…
  • When my head is cloudy…
  • When I have more questions than answers…
  • When my faith is being stretched…
  • When I am unsure of my position…

If you wait until you have all the answers…where doubt is removed completely…

You’ll often find yourself stagnant on making decisions…

You’ll seldom achieve “the best you can do”…

And the rewards you receive will be less than monumental…

Part of living the Christian faith is actually using it!

How are you currently having to walk by faith?

One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)

How to Become a Regular Church Attender

I love when people who don’t currently attend church, give church a try. Many of these once attended church, but for some reason, they no longer do. The best church growth, in my opinion, happens this way. And, statistics tell us there are plenty of people willing to give church a try if we will simply ask them. (Hint. Hint church people.)

The most common thing I hear from people who begin attending church or who want to is that it’s hard to get into the habit of church. I understand. Beginning anything new requires a change of lifestyle. That can be difficult.

Recently someone asked a great question, “How can I get my family back in the habit of church again?”

Great question. I’m so glad you asked.

Here are a few suggestions:

Recognize the greater purpose – Why are you going? If it’s to check it off a “feel good” list, that won’t sustain you when a “better offer” comes along. If it’s part of your spiritual growth process…if it’s making you a better person…if it’s to serve others…fellowship…grow…you’re more likely to be committed long-term. You’ll also complain less when the message isn’t the greatest or they don’t sing your songs 🙂

Discipline until it sticks – I don’t really get up wondering if I’m going to church. And, I didn’t when my family was young and I wasn’t in ministry. It was a habit. If you attend long enough, without too many breaks in between, it will soon become a very welcome and comfortable part of your weekly schedule.

Plan the night before – Don’t make the decision to go to church Sunday morning. Make it Saturday night. (or earlier). Lay out your clothes. Plan your breakfast choices. Set your alarm. Be prepared.

Find a place to serve – If you really want to go for the long haul in church attendance, find a place to serve in the church. If there’s not a place, stand in the parking lot and welcome people. Become a servant of others and you’ll not only be more faithful in attendance, you’ll get more out of the experience.

Make it a priority – The reality is that we make time for things we value most. If your kids want to play soccer, that game becomes a priority, right? If you want church to be a regular part of your life….make it important enough to follow through.

Help this post. I’ve never had a time in my life when church wasn’t part of my weekly routine. If you have, and you now attend regularly, what happened?

How I Kept from Gaining Weight over Thanksgiving

I didn’t gain any weight over Thanksgiving. I know…sounds sad…right? But, don’t feel bad for me. I ate what I wanted. Turkey. Ham. Sweet potato casserole. Pie. All my favorites.

Before you call me a party pooper. There’s a reason for my madness…and this post. Always before I kicked my holiday season off with a few extra pounds and it was downhill from there through the New Year’s celebration. I’ve learned by experience that I’m most productive when I maintain a healthier weight. I always blew that this time of year.

This year I’m trying to be smarter. Trying.

How did I do it over Thanksgiving?

Exercised daily – Everyday, for the four day break, I went for a run and did sit ups. Everyday.

One big meal a day – I could have had two…or three. I had one. Everything I wanted. Once a day. Then chose much smaller, more sensible meals the rest of the day.

Got full and stopped – When I had enough…I stopped eating. I know. It makes too much sense, right? But, I didn’t gorge. I ate, got full, and quit.

Took what I liked, not what I didn’t – I often find myself eating things I really don’t like that much…certainly not my favorites, just because it’s there. And it’s the season. I stuck with those things I especially liked and stayed away from others. I found my plate was not as full as in year’s past, but every bite was a treat.

Quickly back to normal, healthy eating – Monday, following the Thanksgiving break, I started eating in my normal routine. In the past, I’ve allowed Thanksgiving to kick off a month long holiday binge. I always regret it the first of the year. Trying not to do that this year. There will be lots of Christmas events, but as much as I can, I’ll be eating sensibly.

Sounds simple, right? Yea, it was. I’m committed to trying it again through Christmas. I wanted to start the new year off without a lot of extra poundage or the sense of burden that I need to lose some weight. The year will have enough responsibility without having that pressure.

That’s my plan.

Do you have one? Does it matter to you?

What Every Pastor Needs

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…emphasis mine)

Every pastor needs some hand holders on his side.

Someone who will hold up his hand when it begins to fall.

Every pastor I know has days when he feels he carries everyone else’s struggles, but there is no one to help with his. Of course, we are all to “cast our cares” on God, but God uses people to encourage people. Pastors need that too.

Pastors need people they can trust to be supportive. Someone who will not talk about them, but with them in love when there is a problem. People who believe in him, pray for him, and follow his lead if he is seeking to follow God’s. Pastors need to know they have safe places, people to whom they can be real, even on their weakest days, and still be loved. Pastors need true friends; friends who are friends not to be close to the position, but simply to be a friend.

Are you a hand holder for your pastor?

Those people are true Kingdom-builders.

Winning Battles…1 Day at a Time

The girl got on the machine next to me

There were lots of similar machines…she chose this one

In one glance I knew there was potential trouble

She wasn’t wearing much. What she was wearing fit rather nicely…tight if you catch my drift

She was very attractive

I had to use discipline to bounce my eyes

By the way, that kind of discipline starts early

It doesn’t begin in the moment

But, it took discipline

I knew she was there the entire time. I just chose not to look

In fact, instead, I chose to write this blog post

Reminds me though…Satan is not above tempting a pastor

Or you

(And, yes, pastors are human) 🙂

Satan has great abilities but, thankfully, he has limited powers over the believer

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

I won the battle. That day. Actually God’s Spirit won. This time.

There will be other battles. Even before this day ends probably.

I must be prepared.

Let’s pray.

Happy Veterans Day: God Bless Our Veterans and Troops

Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. Psalm 60:11 NIV

I have never been to war. I have, however, had the experience of meeting some veterans of foreign war; my father and brother included. As a patriot, I have the utmost respect for our armed service personnel in my country. Growing up in a military town, I tear up at official military functions. God bless our men and women in uniform!

I recall someone who was wounded in action say to me once, that on the battlefield, when you face the enemy, there is no greater time when your dependence upon God is needed. The old saying goes, “There are no atheists in the foxhole.” I can only imagine the genuine fear that one must face when their life is in such danger.

I don’t know about you, but this world seems like a war zone sometimes. No, we don’t feel the danger that our military often do, but there are moments when we can feel the things important to us are in jeopardy. Times when the doctor gives a loved one unfavorable news. Times when the bank account doesn’t balance, because there is more outgoing than incoming. Times when children are challenging are parenting skills can handle. Times when there are decisions to make bigger than our ability to reason.

I don’t know about you, but the process of daily living often causes me to realize I have no strength on my own. I suspect that is how those in real war feel.

The Psalmist recognized that the help of man was really worthless. Certainly God gives us each other to help us along our way, but when the real problems of life come, only One can help us through. If you were in trouble, I would try to help you, but I can assure you, if the problem gets too big, I’m of no use!

It’s Veterans Day again. Time to remember and recognize those who serve so well, so brave, so unselfishly. I am reminded too that the One and Only God the Creator, the One who knows how to paint a sunset and send waves along the ocean surface, is the One who can ultimately fight the struggles we face in life. When life is at its worst (and its best) we need a Savior! Thank you for our veterans God. Keep our soldiers safe from our enemies. God protect our country.

Happy Veterans Day! God bless our troops. God bless us all!

As a mentor…

I received an email this week from a young man in our church telling me how thankful he was for the investment I’ve made in him. Granted, I just arrived here a few months ago and landed into a whirlwind of activity. I’ve been pulled in lots of directions. I am a constant seeker of potential though, so I’ve seen some in him. We have spent very little time together. It has been a very few moments out of my busy calendar, but to him, those have apparently been monumental moments.

I was humbled…again…but it was a great reminder to me:

A little bit of investment…goes a long ways…

You don’t realize the power of the moment…

When you, who may be looked up to…because of your wisdom…because of your experience…because of your story…

Take an interest in someone who is not there yet…when you speak into their life…

It is powerful.

It is life-changing.

Maybe not for you every time, but for them.

Try it. See what I mean.

Be intentional to invest in someone today.

Have you seen a little investment in someone go a long way?