Storms Of Life Come Quickly

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Mark 4:37 NIV

Is that not the way normal life happens?  One day you can be doing everything you know to do right, smooth sailing seems to be the forecast of the day, and then out of nowhere comes a furious squall. Has that ever happened to you?  On days like this in my life it always seems that one problem never gets lonely, because trouble seems to follow trouble.  When one thing goes wrong there will most often be other troubles come as well.

My advice is not to be surprised when troubles come.  They are a part of everyday living in a fallen world, even for the most dedicated believers.  In fact, the strongest people of faith I know are those who have experienced tremendous heartache and pain, which has shaped who they are today.  From very personal experience I can say that I would not be half the leader, Christian, pastor, father, husband or friend that I am without the times of excruciating torment I have experienced in life.  (If you want more of my story read previous posts on my BLOG, but there are some stories of heartache too personal to share. You have your stories too.)

The question for me at this stage of my life is not why the storms come, but how am I going to allow God to use them to make me into who He wants me to be?  Are you asking that question?

How has God used storms in your life to mold your character, your faith and your life?

Taking Jesus Just As He Is

Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. Mark 4:36 NIV

At least the disciples went, that’s better than I have done at times. There have been times in my life where I followed Jesus closely and other times where I did not and, therefore, missed out on what God was trying to do in my life.

I love the phrase in this verse that says they took Jesus “just as he was”.  While I am certain some theologian can impart wisdom to me about exactly what this means, I’m a simple-minded guy and it speaks volumes to me with what I do know of Scripture and my life experience.

Too many times we try to take Jesus, as we want Jesus to be, not as He intends for us to be. We like Jesus to do things on our terms, not His terms. We try to put our stamp on Jesus rather than allow His stamp on us.  We try to fit Jesus in our box rather than conform our lives to Christ.

We don’t have to be followers of Christ long or have a Bible degree to figure out they would be better off with Jesus’ way than their own. I have often said that if you get better at something than Jesus is I’ll follow you.  Even an unbeliever often knows the teachings of Jesus are a better way for us to live.

That leads me to ask an important question: Are you following your way or Christ’s way?

If God should choose to alter your life agenda would that meet your approval?

When is the last time you really took Jesus…”Just as He is”?

Jesus Wants To Take Us To The Other Side

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”
Mark 4:35 NIV

Over the next several days of posts I want to walk through a Scripture that has shaped my life over the years.  I preached on this passage recently.  You can listen or watch that message HERE and clicking on either Audio or Video Podcasts.  I intend to walk through this familiar passage verse by verse and share my thoughts along the way.  Feel free to add your own as we learn together.

Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat.  This was His idea.  I often have to remind myself that Jesus was always purposeful.  Even in His moments of play, Jesus was keeping the bigger picture of His role as a disciple-maker in mind.  He never let go of the fact that He was on earth a short time with an intended objective.  If I want to be like Jesus, I must continue to be purposeful with how I live my life.

The phrase “to the other side” is one that reminds me where Jesus is attempting to take me.  The other side is where God’s glory shines brightest.  It’s where I can fully and completely, even if only for a brief moment, know that Jesus is who He says He is and that He can and will do what He says He will do.  Going to “the other side” develops my faith.

Regardless of your situation today, no matter how grim it may appear, even if you have almost given up, Jesus wants to take you to the other side.  Even if everything is going well in your life today, He wants to do something new with your faith.  He wants to build a deeper trust in Himself.

Numerous times in my life I have sensed God was doing something new in me or around me.  At times it has taken months to figure our what He was up to at the time, but every time I have found that if I am patient, obedient to what I know to do and follow His lead, He has delivered me safely and securely to the other side.  Sadly, I can equally look back at times where I resisted His leading and missed out on what He was trying to do in and through me.

My prayer today is to always be willing to trust and follow Him to the other side.  Do you sense God’s stirring in you to take you somewhere?  Will you follow?

Exciting Series of Devotionals

I am excited about a new series of devotionals, which begins tomorrow and runs for 7 days.  Check back each afternoon for the next week and let’s be encouraged together about the power and strength of our relationship with Christ.  I believe these teachings can be helpful if you:

  • Are struggling to discern God’s voice.
  • Are going through a difficult period in life.
  • Can’t seem to find your way right now.
  • Need to grow in your trust of God.
  • Just want some encouragement.

If any of these match something in your life then check back each afternoon beginning tomorrow.

Feel free to answer this question now: What are you trusting and asking God to do in your life right now?

Be Careful Of The Love Of Money

us-money-photoI love progress.  I think a country thrives best under capitalism.  I frequent the businesses represented in my church because I want them to do well. They will do best when they earn more money. (Profit!)  I love for people who make money to invest money in the Kingdom of God.  It takes a lot of resources (money) to do the work of the church.

I have had time periods of my life where I have had plenty of money and times where I have been stretched for money.  One thing I have learned about money, and the point of this post, is that money can also be a dangerous force for the control of a person’s heart.

One of the most sobering verses to me of the Bible is:
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. Ecclesiastes 5:10

I think that statement could equally be said about the love of the things money can buy.

Regardless of whether you have lots or money or you are struggling to buy basic needs, please let me counsel you to be careful how you handle the things you love, especially money. I have seen the love of money destroy many lives.  Do not let it destroy yours.

Jesus said it like this:

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24

An Encouragement to Stay Faithful to God’s Call

In some quiet time this morning, God led me to pray for some of the struggling ministers I know and work with each week.  I was reminded also of this verse:

1 Corinthians 16:8-9
But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

Sometimes we keep doing what we are doing because God called us to do it, not because we are popular, the work is easy, or even that we are being well received at the time.  Being obedient to the call of God is sometimes painful, unpopular, difficult, and seemingly unrewarded (at the time).

I am also reminded of this passage from Mark 10:29-31 (The Message Version)

Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”

Do you need a reminder to hang tight to the call God has placed on your life?  How can I or the readers of this blog pray for you right now?

His Footprints in the Sand

beach-footprints2Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. Psalm 77:19 NIV

...through the darkest days of my life…..where were you God…..I only saw one set of footprints in the sand…..where were you God….those were the times, my child, when I carried you…….

You are familiar with the Footprints poem that has been commercialized onto plates, pictures, ties, refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, etc., etc., etc.. I once thought it was overused. In fact, I wondered where the Biblical reference for it was. I knew it was true, because I had experienced it so many times in my life, but I didn’t know the reference to back it up until I read this verse years ago.

Of course, this verse refers to the famous march through the middle of the waters by that powerful leader we know as Moses. Can you imagine how the Israelites felt? They had escaped the years of slavery and persecution to head for what they thought was a chance at real freedom and along came the Pharoah’s finest, ready to put them on the chopping block. Needless to say they were slightly disappointed. Never at a loss for tricks, Moses summoned God, who told them to go through the center of the sea. Yea, right? Yet as strange as that may have sounded at the time the people enter the “water” on dry ground! I know, it doesn’t make sense, but that is what happened, read it for yourself if you don’t believe me.  (Exodus 14)

Did they see the footprints of God? No! Did they doubt who parted the water? Did they question who dried up the dirt? Well, let me ask you, could you have done it? Neither could they! They knew that God was being God….again!

Has He ever been God in our life? Can you explain it? Did you see His footprints? But if you submit yourself to God and allow God to do His work in your life, make no mistake about it, you will clearly know He is God and there is no other!

Read footprints again. You probably have it on a coffee mug somewhere. Remember the times that He took you through the waters. Thank Him for carrying you all the way!

He is a mighty God!

The Economy Is Full Of Good News

We are seeing good news about the economy this week. Here is a recap of some I found today:

Florida housing sales up for the 8th month in a row.  Read that story HERE. You will notice that housing prices continue to fall, but remember it was an over-valued market.

General Motors may indeed file for bankruptcy, but they wanted to assure their employees it was part of their reorganization so they actually paid them early.  Read that story HERE.

Wall Street says all the bad news is in now.  That should mean its uphill from here.  Read that story HERE.

Economists think the recession will end this year.  Read that story HERE. (I really think we will find it has already ended months after all the reports are complete.)

Yahoo willing to hold out for big bucks.  Read that story HERE.

And finally, really the one that matters and the one economists have been waiting for, consumers are gaining confidence again. The consumer confidence index had its biggest increase in 6 years.  See that story HERE.

Look for more good news to follow in the coming days.  I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to find some good news!

10 Reasons Why I Love Military Families In Our Church

I am honored to live in a military town. All my life I have known soldiers. Some of my best friends and family have been military-related. Our church has a large military population. I have heard people talk about the burden of military families on a church, because every three years they have to be replaced. The family in this picture was in our community group, but left our church for a reassignment. Cheryl and I could not love a family anymore than we love them and we’ve loved staying in touch with them.

I have always felt our church was stronger because of our military families, for as long as they might stay.  Therefore, as we celebrate military families, here are 10 Reasons why I love the military families in our church:

  • They are some of the most dedicated people I know
  • They bring experiences with them from around the world
  • They have great work ethics
  • They are expectant of great things from God
  • They are appreciative of any ministry
  • They make wonderful volunteers
  • They build friendships for life
  • They are sacrificial givers
  • They raise awesome families
  • They are brave soldiers, protecting my right to do what I do

God bless our military and God bless America!