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Showing posts from December, 2011

“When you confess your sin, it no longer defines you. You are defined by the grace of God.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2011-01-18) in his book, Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny (pp. 139-140). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
I love the story about a woman who said that God talked to her personally.  Her pastor heard her telling someone that and he took her aside to set her straight.  He wanted to prove to her that God didn’t talk to her so he said, “Now the next time you are talking to God would you ask Him something that He only knows about me, would you ask Him, ‘What was the last sin that I asked Him to forgive me for?’  Would you ask Him?”  She said she would.

A few days later, the pastor met with her and he asked her if she had asked God, “What was the last sin that he had asked Him to forgive his for?”  She said she had.  The pastor then asked knowing that he had her now, “Well what did He say?”  She then said that He said, “I don’t remember.”
Now of course that didn’t really happen but it does make a correct point that at the end of 2011 and the beginning of …

“You cannot resolve your differences with God if you are unwilling to resolve your differences with the people around you.”

A thought by Andy Stanley(2009-08-22) in his book, It Came from Within!: The Shocking Truth of What Lurks in the Heart (p. 115). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
Jesus says that over and over.  He cannot forgive unless you forgive.  What does it say in the Lord’s Prayer, Father forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  It goes hand in hand.
So wouldn’t it be great to look into the New Year with resolved differences with the people around you?  Maybe it’s a parent or a brother or sister?  Could be your spouse or one of your children?  Maybe it is someone at work or even at church?  What about your neighbor or one of your friends?  Whoever it is, get on the phone and strive to resolve it now.  Of course you understand it takes two but you strive to do your part. 
Another thing to realize is if they have died or if they don’t know you have ever had an issue with them then you resolve it in your own heart.  Go back to the situation and forgive them for the action that has…

“God has created you to do something.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus from his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment (Kindle Location 332). Kindle Edition.
And it doesn’t stop at 64 or 24.  In each stage of life there is something that God has created us to do.  No one retires from God’s plan for their life.  Retirement just means I have more control of my time in order to focus on his plan. 
My purpose in life is to seek the harassed and helpless and let them know that Christ can and wants to make a difference in their life.  That is my something to do and it doesn’t stop at 64.  I am no longer tied down to the expectations that a salary has but I have been released to do the something in a greater measure that God has given me to do. 
Oh I wouldn’t trade my years as a church planter for anything else in the world.  My life has been exciting and has made significant differences in all the places I have served.  I was living out the something that God had for me to do each day of my life.  But I’m exci…

“When your gifts and natural skills collide with your deepest burdens—you have calling.”

A thought by Gabe Lyons (2010-10-05) in his book, The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America (p. 124). Doubleday Religion. Kindle Edition.
Maybe you are searching for your purpose in living as you go into the new year.  Maybe you have been wandering and wondering through 2011 but you want 2012 to be different.  Now this is a good time to sit down with a yellow pad or your notes on your iPhone and start to do some God-directed thinking.
A good place to start is evaluating your gifts.  I’m not talking about your Christmas gifts but those Spiritual gifts that God gave you when you became a Christian.  Check on the internet for a good Spiritual gifts test or go to your local Christian book store or ask your pastor. 
Take that test and then do some self-assessment of your natural abilities.  Ask yourself and some of your closest honest friends, “What am I good at?”  That may be hard for you to do but it is an important step in this process.
And then ask yourself, “W…

“What’s ridiculous is to continue to allow the people who have hurt you the most to influence your current and future relationships.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2009-08-22) from his book, It Came from Within! The Shocking Truth of What Lurks in the Heart(p. 77). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
I love the way life is set up.  There are 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 30/31 days in a month and 12 months in a year.  There is a beginning and an end in each one of them.  This week is the end of another year and it is a time of reflection and release.
It is always good to look back at a point to reflect on what happened, to thank God for His gifts, to reinforce the lessons learned and to let go of and release the pain that has happened in this year. 
I know that at some point you have been hurt by someone in 2011.  There is pain in relationships sometimes but you don’t have to take that hurt that pain into the new year.  That is a choice that you have and this is a good week to let go of that memory that hurt.   If you don’t you will carry that hurt into your other relationship in 2012.  That is a real waist. 

“We live in a society where we are assaulted by messages that urge us to consume and accumulate.”

A thought by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson, (2011-07-19) in their book,Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You´ve Only Heard About (Kindle locations 713-714). Thomas Nelson. Kindle edition.
I walk the mall every morning and I’m excited about the fact that we mall walkers are going to get our mall back in another week.  I mean I got to the mall a little after 7:00 am the day after Christmas and Macy’s and J. C. Penny’s were open and I had to go to the second floor in the parking garage to get a good parking spot.  We just need so much more stuff even after Christmas don’t we?  At least that is what we are told.
Now I gave over 10 bags of clothes, coats and shoes to the Bowery Mission in New York City this Advent season.  If I listened to the advertisers I needed to run out fast and get more stuff to take its place but I didn’t and I’m doing fine.  If we as Christians would go into our closets and take all the excess clothing in there then we could take care of the clothing needs…

“Whenever you serve someone, you are changing his or her world.”

A thought by Greg Darley (2010-11-15) from his book,Passion Is Not Enough: Four Elements to Change the World(Kindle Locations 683-684). Backstage Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of the greatest servant who ever lived on this earth.  His actions showed us what it means to be a Christ-follower.  By His acts of service He changed our world.
Someone asked, how do I know if I am being a servant?  The answer is, how do you react when you are being treated as a servant?  I’m afraid we fail at this more that we succeed especially in our marriages.
One of the main reasons God wants us to marry a Christ-follower is because if we don’t have Christ in us then we only have the capacity to live for ourselves.   Christ’s love is an agape love witch is unconditional love.  He loves us no matter what.  But without Him in our life we live with a conditional love.  I will love you if.
Now most marriages are built on manipulation.  It you do that I will do this.  Manipulation.   B…

“Whenever we take on a God-sized challenge, self-sufficiency is no longer an option.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus from his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment (Kindle Location 843). Kindle Edition.
That is so true of Mary when the angel told her what was going to happen to her.  If she was just going to be a mother she could handle that.  I’m sure she had been prepared by her mother and maybe grandmother to do that.  That was what she was prepared to do but to be the mother of the Son of God that was something completely different.  No way was she or any other young women prepared for that God-sized challenge on her own but she was not going to have to go through it alone.  God doesn’t give us a task without support.
The truth is being a parent is a God-sized challenge.  I have loved being a parent for these 30+ years but I needed God’s guidance and wisdom all the way through.  Yes, I had seen parenting modeled by two of the Godliest parents a boy could ever have.  But then that baby boy came to live with Margaret and me on April 7 in Phoenix, …

“Forgiveness is the gift that ensures my freedom from a prison of bitterness and resentment.”

A thought by Andy Stanley(2009-08-22) in his book, It Came from Within!: The Shocking Truth of What Lurks in the Heart (p. 144). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
Well it is getting close.  We will be opening our gifts on Christmas Eve and watching our family in Colorado open their gifts by Skype on Christmas night.  This is the season of giving gifts and receiving gifts. 
Now this gift of forgiveness is not one we think about giving at this time of the year but if we do it has so much more far reaching benefit than most of the gifts we receive and give.  This is truly the gift of freedom.  It is both a freedom to the giver and also to the receiver.   Forgiveness frees us from so much pain.
But here is the key.  Forgiveness is not a gift you give because you feel like it.  Most of the time the act you’re forgiving doesn’t deserve your forgiveness but you chose to give it because Christ forgave you also undeservedly.  It is a gift you give by choice because of what He did for you.
But you …

“Impossibilities don’t exist, because there’s absolutely nothing our God can’t do.”

A thought by Steven Furtick (2010-09-21) from his book,Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible (p. 39). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
What a tremendous thought to realize.  What impossible situation are you facing right now? 
Let’s say you are down in a valley with high cliffs on each side of you and tall trees in front and in back of you and it is impossible for you to see what is behind, ahead or on either side.  But let’s say you are talking on your cell phone to someone up above you in a helicopter and they can see everything.  Now your situation isn’t impossible because of your connection.
Let’s say something has happened and you are in desperate need of $10,000.00.  You only have $500 in your checking account.  You are in an impossible situation.  But let’s say your father is very successful.  He keeps $50,000.00 in an account for pocket change.  So you get him on the phone and tell him your situation and he takes care of it.  It was impossible…

“If you could take a moment, seize it, and squeeze out of it all the life available within it, shouldn't that moment be in the future rather than in the past?”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus from his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment(Kindle Locations 78-79). Kindle Edition.
What a waste of energy and emotion when we seize and squeeze everything we can out of a past situation in our life.  What it can do is rob us of joy or fill us with pride depending of what happened and neither of those responses build value into our life. 
Now the truth is we only have control of our present but a future moment can bring hope, excitement and challenge into our present.  It can help in making the decisions that need to be made today and helping in living through the sacrifices that need to be made in order to reach that moment.
For an example, I live for the future moment when one day I step on my scale and it says 199 lbs.  Every day that I get up and head out to walk is controlled by that future moment.  Every time I decide at Starbucks against that pastry instead of the oatmeal is controlled by the future moment when I see 199 lb…

“One of the wonders of uncertainty is that it is the environment in which God invites us to be creative.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus from his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment (Kindle Location 787). Kindle Edition.
Now in our times of uncertainty we as Christians cry out to God to do something and the key is He already has.  He has given each one of us a mind and within that mind He has given us the ability to creatively come up with an idea or a new thought or new paradigm for the situation.   
Now for the most part we don’t want to work that hard, we want the situation to resolve and everything to work out the way we want it to but sometimes God wants us to step outside the box of our usual solutions and come up with something new.  I know that is hard but it can be so rewarding.
But you say, “I’m not creative,” and I say, “How do you know?  Have you ever tried?”   Now the key is you stop and just freely think.  Write down each thought that comes into your mind and then follow it until it hits a dead end or until something starts to spark.
In those situations…

“What God can do through a person who's willing to act is limitless.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus from his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment (Kindle Locations 436-437). Kindle Edition.
I have two laptop computers.  One is a large one and the other is a small one.  The potential that I have to reach out to people around the world through them is limitless but if I never turn either one of them on they are useless.
Right now I am sitting with my small laptop in the Oceanside, New York Starbucks putting down my thoughts about this quote by Erwin McManus so I can post it online so you can read it wherever you might be.  Just think of this.  Someone this past week from the United States, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Qatar, and Venezuela checked out this blog.  But it wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have started writing.
Now I also just finished my bill’s front porch and I will get up early tomorrow morning and post it on my large laptop at home.  This week people from the USA…

“The great tragedy of materialistic America is not financial abundance, but spiritual poverty.”

A thought by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson, (2011-07-19) in their book,Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You´ve Only Heard About (Kindle Location 728). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The truth is they both should be the same – financial abundance & spiritual abundance.  God is the giver of all that is good but He gives it for a purpose.  We have been given a financial abundance so we can take care of the financial needs of the world.  Now if we were spiritual abundant then we would take care of God’s purpose but because we are in spiritual poverty we keep it for ourselves.  And that is a great tragedy.  “Please forgive us for our self-focus.”
Now wouldn’t you like to be the answer to some child in need’s prayer?

“Giver + Gift + Recipient = Obligated gift in return.”

A thought by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson, (2011-07-19) from their book, Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You´ve Only Heard About (Kindle Locations 620-621). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Do you ever give a gift and then wonder what you are getting in return?  If that is true of you then what you gave was not a gift but an upfront payment for what they are now obligated to give you.  That is not what gift giving is all about.
Now to me the wrong spirit of Christmas is not the untold gift-giving that is done but it is the expectation part of what do I want and what so I expect/want to get.  Jesus came to us as a gift and the Wise Men gave gifts to the baby Jesus and both were done with no expectation of getting anything in return.
I have found it so interesting that the one main symbol at this time of year in the secular world is a jolly old guy who gives and gives and gives with no expectation of anything in return.  And what do we try to do is burst that bubble of Santa…

“The possibilities that await us in each moment are fueled by the potential God has placed within us.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus from his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment (Kindle Locations 475-476). Kindle Edition.
Have you ever stopped and thought about the fact that God doesn’t want you to be anything else but you”?  Also do you realize that God took just as much interest in putting His stamp on you as He did with anyone else?  You and I are a masterpiece by God.  The truth is we don’t really realize the potential that God built into us.  The only thing that limits our potential is us.
I know that we can play the blame game and say because of my parents or where I grew up or what I look like or my lack of education (you get the point) I am limited in my potential.  I can understand that point of view until I look at a Helen Keller which wakes me up to the fact of my unused potential that God has placed within me and you.  That shows me that I am limited by what I am looking at, circumstances or God.
Yes, the fact that Helen Keller was limited because she …

“Our failed tests teach us invaluable lessons we couldn’t learn any other way.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2011-01-18) from his book, Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny (p. 84). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
I don’t know how you handled wrong and right answers on a test when you were young  or even if they mattered to you.  Maybe all that mattered to you was the grade.  But for me it was those questions that I got wrong.  I would find out which ones they were and then I would search the book or my notes and find out what the right answer was.  The right answers I had gotten right so I didn’t worry about them anymore but those I had gotten wrong I searched to find what was right.
Our failures in life can be like that too.  There is always a invaluable lesson to be learned in life no matter what it is.  Now I chose a long time ago to not be controlled by the negatives of life but to change them into a positive.  Somehow in every negative in my life, God has helped me to see it from a positive standpoint.  It has taken a lot of years of everyday reading a…

“With every benefit, we must embrace both responsibility and risk.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus from his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment Moment (Kindle Locations 400-401). Kindle Edition.
I’m sure that you have found that in the beginning days of your marriage it was so much easier to risk.  I mean you didn’t have kids, you didn’t have a whole lot of stuff and you had a whole lot of enthusiasm.  I mean, you believed you could conquer the world.  Get out of the way here we come.  But the older you got and the more responsibility you had made it a whole lot more difficult to risk.   It maybe made it more difficult to respond to God’s leading in your life.
God blesses you with a great house.  You have a nice car or two.  You have finally gotten the furniture you’ve always wanted and of course you have the kids.  God has been so good to you but in the midst of all this He seems to be impressing on you that He has something unbelievable for you to do but it means giving up all the stuff and moving your family.  It was one thing…

“Audacious faith takes Jesus at his word.”

A thought by Steven Furtick (2010-09-21) from his book, Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible(p. 30). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
In my quiet time every morning I read a Psalm.   I have done that for years.  I read the Psalm that corresponds to the date.  I am starting my 4th cycle of 30 Psalms and today is December 1st so I read the 91st Psalm so let’s see what Jesus said through the Psalmist today, Jesus is God you know.
Verses 2- 4, (msg), Say this: “God,You’re my refuge
I trust in You and I’m safe!”
That’s right—He rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
His arms fend off all harm.    

Maybe you are going through some tough times why don’t you claim what it says, personally believe it in your life.  Pray this back to Him.  Make it personal.  Audacious faith takes Him at His word.
Here is some more from the 91st Psalm…
Verses 14-16 (msg), If yo…