Then They Will Know…That He Is The Lord

This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD Exodus 7:17

and then you will know that I am the LORD. 1 Kings 20:13

And they will know that I am the LORD… Ezekiel 6:13

Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD… Joel 2:27

I did some reading this week…

It seems God likes to make Himself known…

Throughout the Old Testament, God did thing that caused people know to know He is the Lord…

I don’t find that same phrase in the New Testament…

I do read this:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

It makes me wonder..

What am I doing…what are you doing?

In our life…
In our city…
In our church…
In our community…
In our world…

That’s showing people He is the Lord…

Two Messages from the Book of Mark

For whatever reason, apparently some of my readers like to listen to my Sunday messages. My hope is that listening online to anyone’s message is not an excuse for failing to connect with a local church. I believe that’s where the best discipleship occurs. If you are having trouble connecting somewhere, read THIS POST. If you want to supplement your church experience, you have to miss for other reasons, or you just want to hear my teaching, welcome!

We have a teaching team, so I don’t preach every week, but share the messages here when I do. Currently our podcast host is experiencing some problems with the embed feature, but if you are interested, we are walking through the book of Mark this summer. Here are a couple messages I’ve not yet posted. I’ll post the messages as a video here when that feature is repaired.

Week 1 - Mark 8:1-13

To hear this message, click HERE. To view this message click HERE.

Here are the questions for reflection on this message:

  • Do you believe God is able to do whatever you need Him to do?
  • Do you believe God will do what you need Him to do?
  • Do you have people in your life who you rust more now than you did when you first met them?
  • Do you have people you trust less now that you know them?
  • How do you think you could develop more trust in God?

Week 2 - Mark 10:17-31

A key to developing a sincere, growing faith in Jesus is to discover what holds our heart more than Christ. Join Ron Edmondson as he looks at a familiar passage illustrating that point.

To hear this message, click HERE. To view this message click HERE.

Here are the questions for reflection on this message:

  • Did you grow up in church?
  • Would you consider yourself a good person?
  • Do you think you are better than average?
  • What would be the hardest thing for you to give up if God asked you to?
  • Do you sometimes think you have already given so much…and wonder when you’ll get your reward?
  • Does the concept of grace, God’s forgiveness and mercy, freely given, ever blow your mind if you think about it, especially considering how well you know yourself?

I love hearing from you if you are listening to these messages.

Intentionally Loving People

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

As believers, loving others is not to be an option, it’s to be a lifestyle. No one does that better than my wife Cheryl.

Recently we were on a 3 1/2 hour flight to San Francisco. I was in the window seat, Cheryl was in the middle, and a woman we didn’t know was in the aisle seat. I do some of my best work on a plane, so time seemed to pass quickly. I knew Cheryl was talking to the other woman, but didn’t pay much attention. I was in a zone and very focussed. (Cheryl’s always complimented me on being able to ignore everything around me :) )

At one point I looked up and Cheryl was crying…and so was this woman. Of course my first thought, as every man thinks when a woman cries, was “what did I do?” :) Once I realized it wasn’t about me this time, I said a little prayer for my wife…and went back to work. After we exited the plane Cheryl explained that this woman had just returned from her father’s funeral. Cheryl, who lost her father over a year ago, was able to minister to this woman on the flight to San Francisco. They traded contact information and Cheryl made herself available; all because of this brief encounter.

This week, Cheryl received this email:

Cheryl,
I feel so blessed that in my time of need you not only sensed I was sad, but took the risk and reached out to me. I do believe fate put me in the seat next to you that day as you are still experiencing the same pain that was so new and raw for me. I will remember you and your act of kindness for the rest of my life. I will honor you, by following your example the next time I see someone in pain.

Thank you,
Donna

I love that. Seriously, I know I’m a pastor, but my church knows my wife is a better example of loving people than I am most days. She doesn’t love as a part of her ministry; she loves as a part of her heart.

Dear God, help me to love intentionally, like my wife does.

Do you know someone who is a model of intentional love? Pay tribute to them here.

He Who Loves You, Watches Over You

One of the greatest feelings as a parent has to be watching your children sleep….

Knowing they are safe….resting…under your care…

I never got tired of knowing my boys were safe in their beds at night. It was a great time of day.

I wonder if God feels that way…

I wonder if God gets a charge out of watching over His children as they sleep…

I wonder if He smiles when He sees a child drift into dream land…

I’m reminded of these verses:

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

When you are sound asleep, God is on watch…like a proud dad!

As you go to bed tonight, capture the moment, imagine the emotion God has as He watches His child fall asleep.

Your Story Isn’t Too Big for Me To…

About once a month, someone shares a story with me that’s big. I get stories all the time, but I’m talking about the kind of story that makes your jaw flop open when you hear it…that kind of big story.

I’ve quit being surprised when it happens, but I’m usually surprised that it’s happening to the person telling me the story. Usually this type of story starts with a phrase such as “I hope you’ll still be my friend after I tell you this...” or “Please don’t give up on me when I tell you this…”

Someone made a huge error…they messed up…they sinned…

What surprises me most, however, is that no matter how much I preach with grace, in spite of the fact that “grace” is in our church’s name, even though I’m not bashful about saying I’ve had tremendous failures in my own life…

People still worry how I will respond to them.

Guilt does that too a person…and struggling with the emotions after a moral failure is often one of the hardest consequences…

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, however…

Your story isn’t too big for me to…

  • Extend you grace…
  • Call you my friend…
  • Still love you…
  • Want the best for you…
  • Introduce you to my Savior…

You see, it’s not because I’m especially graceful, but because I serve a BIG GOD…

And He’s extended me much grace…So I know…

My Jesus isn’t scared away by the size or the messiness of your story…

The seemingly impossible situation you’ve found yourself in hasn’t startled Him either…

Go ahead…share your story with me…watch and see…

By the way, the longer you try to protect your story or the longer you pretend it isn’t your story…

The longer you may be delaying receiving forgiveness and grace…

Have you ever felt your story was “too big” to share?

Do you have one person in your life with whom you can share anything and know he or she will still love you?

Do you need to confess your darkest pain to someone today?

7 Ways to Get the Most out of a Church Experience

This is a note to the church shopper, especially those who can’t seem to find a place to call home. You want to have a church family, but nothing seems to connect with you. You’ve tried every flavor of church, but none match your taste.

My desire would be that you learn to love your church experience. No church is perfect, but if you will follow a few tips, you may find exactly the right fit for your family. This is my best advice and the advice I would give you if we were meeting in person. Don’t give up looking for the right church until you’ve tried all of this process, because each step is necessary to achieve the best results:

If you are looking to connect with a church:

Attend - You have to make a decision that this church is part of your weekly routine. It needs to become a habit. I personally believe you should support the services the church offers in order to get the most benefit from the church. If the church meets on Sunday or Wednesday night you should support those services too as much as you can. Many of the inner workings of the church will most likely happen then. Our church limits the number of services per week, but attending regularly is the first step in connecting with a body of believers.

Commit - Decide this is your choice for a season. Stick with it long enough to form a habit of attending. You can break the habit easy if necessary…people do it everyday…but for now, unless you know the first week the church is not a fit for your family, if you’ve been a couple times and are still interested, try to stay committed for a long enough period to give the church a fair chance. Many churches experiences get “better” as you begin to see the church as your church.

Serve – Find a place to serve within the church. You’ll get to know the people involved and feel that you are a genuine part of the church. You’ll love a church more when you serve within that church.

Give - Become a financial investor in the church. If you believe in the mission, then be a part of funding it. You’ll grow to love the places where you invest your money.

Listen - Pay attention to the message then follow up with personal study or reflection. I suggest this regardless of whether you enjoy the style of the preacher or not. You chose the church and he or she worked to prepare a message. If you can’t be present in person listen online or by tape if that’s an option. Keep up with the teaching and know where the pastor is leading the church at the time.

Pray - Decide to pray regularly for the staff and church. God may surprise you with a deep love and appreciation for this church as you learn to pray for it.

Invite – Bring some friends along with you next time you attend. Invite your neighbors and family to join you. You’ll feel proud when someone you care about joins you at church and your love for the church will grow.

Have you ever had to look for a new church? How did you handle the process?

Bonus question: What is the first few things you look for in a church? What brings you back?

Scripture Memorization, Week 24

This week we continue looking at The Roman Road, as it has been called, a brief walk through the book of Romans, that when combined, can help a person process through what it means to be saved; to be a follower of Christ. If you missed any of these, go back to LAST WEEK and follow back from there.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

What thoughts come to mind when you read this verse?

That Sacred Place…for a Sacred Moment

There is a special moment of worship that happens occasionally where I sense so strongly the presence of God that all the troubles of the world disappear. I don’t have a care in the world except the glory of God. I call it a sacred place…for a sacred moment… It doesn’t last long, but it lasts long enough that it changes me in that moment! It certainly renews my faith and strengthens me for the journey of life. I find myself filled with tears of joy, resolved that God is more real than I imagined, and determined to serve Him more faithfully. I’ve also learned, through experience, that when these times are more frequent, it often leads to God doing something new in my life, challenging me in a new area, giving me a new passion, even bringing me through a time of testing. (Wow, that’s scary to type, but it’s true.)

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t happen often, but it happened several times this week.

It doesn’t seem to be something I can plan. If it were, I’d stay in that place and moment, but I’ve discovered there are a few things that might trigger such a time:

  • Listening to a special song that was meaningful…
  • Studying a favorite passage of Scripture that has impacted my life…
  • Disciplining myself to be totally removed from the chaos of life…
  • Meditating on one thought…of grace…of His love…of His provisions…
  • When I’m sitting at the beach…or looking at a sunset…or the stars…

Have you ever been in that sacred place and sacred moment as I describe? Have you been there lately?

What triggers those moments for you?

How to Break God’s Heart

Okay, let me be honest…I’m not sure the title of this post is theologically sound. I don’t know if we can “break God’s heart”. His heart appears fairly strong to me. He carries the weight of the world on His shoulders, so I’m assuming He can handle most anything we throw His way. I did want you to read the post though, and I do think there is an illustration here that is important for us to consider.

Our youngest son Nate was studying in Europe for the summer. (You can read more about his experience HERE.) For the last couple of years, he has attended school 8 hours away, so the distance is not much of an issue, although it is summer and I wish he were home. The problem for me now is the way we ended our instant messaging today. He will not have Internet for the next 5 days, so I’ll not have any correspondance from him for nearly a week.

I realize 5 days is a short time for many. I sometimes only talk to my mother once a week, but I’m new at this empty nesting. Five days seems like forever right now.

But, there’s a bigger issue that came to my mind as I saw those words typed in a chat program. I’m a dad who will miss talking to his son for the next five days…and I’m not even close to being a perfect dad.

How much might God miss talking to me? Do you think God would hate hearing “talk to you in 5 days or so”?

I don’t know that there has ever been a time when I went 5 days without talking to my Heavenly Father, but there have surely been days when I seemingly cut Him out of my day.

Here’s a question I’d love for you to ponder:

If you were having an instant messaging discussion with God, when would you tell Him you two would talk again?

Be completely honest with me: Is prayer one area of your Christian experience that you struggle with the most? Why do you think that is true?